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August 24, 2004

Going, going, gone

As you probably know, tomorrow is my birthday. As a much needed birthday present to myself, I am shutting down ASV until October, maybe November. Maybe forever. Why? Because it's time. If you're still interested, I'll be writing one daily piece that has nothing to do with politics or current events, over here. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Story Time

I'm seeing the kids off as they embark on their nearly week-long vacation with Grandma (and other assorted relatives) to the glorious vacation hot spot of Syracuse, NY. Indulge me while I regale you with a short story previously printed on a long forgotten comic blog I had once upon a time: Revenge of the Women of Kleenex!* The lady says to her: “So, let’s get this profile of yours started. What exactly are you looking for in a man? “A cape and a sword." “Come again?” “A cape and a sword. And he should look good in tights.” The lady nods her head politely, but her eyes are saying “this one’s out of her fucking mind.” “Right. Cape. Sword. Tights.” She puckers her lips tightly. “Seems like you’re looking for a superhero.” She chuckles as she says this. “Yes. I am.” “Aren’t we all, sweetie? Except mine would be wearing a silk robe and boxers.” Anna nods absently. “Anyhow,” puckered-lip lady continues, “Any specific traits you’re looking for?” “Some kind of superpower. But not stretching. Been there, done that.” “Superpower? You mean like breathe underwater or something of the sorts?” Anna throws back her head and laughs, loud and hearty. “Has he been by here? You would think after all this time he would just come clean and hit the gay circuit on the internet.” Lip lady drums her pen on the desk. She puckers again. Anna thinks it could be a nervous habit.. “I’m not sure I’m following you here,” she says. “Are you some kind of reporter for a satire magazine?” Anna exhales loudly. “I am,” she says slowly just in case lip lady is not quite the bright light she makes herself out to be. “Looking for a man.” “Right. Man with cape, sword, tights, and flying ability.” “Did I say flying? No, I didn’t.” “So, you’re open to other umm...superpowers?” Her lips get even tighter and they form a small, red-stained “o” and Anna thinks that lip lady looks like a balloon that’s about to pop. “I’m open to anything that’s not stretching or flying.” “You’re serious, aren't you.” “Yes.” “You know what the odds are, lady?” “I’m quite aware.” “Tell you what. Let’s skip over this part for now and get to you.” The lips unpucker and Anna can see red lipstick on the lady’s otherwise gleaming teeth. She says nothing. The lady stifles a yawn and continues. “Do you have any hobbies?” “I like scaling walls in my spare time.” “Mmmhmm. So....you’re an athlete?” “You could say that.” “I will.” Lip lady taps, taps, taps the pen. She puckers and unpuckers and Anna thinks of fish. “Would you prefer an athletic man?” “If you mean leaping tall buildings athletic, yes.” “Lady, every woman who comes in here is looking for Superman in one way or another.” “What? You think Superman is the only one who can leap tall buildings? I’ll have you know that he does not own a patent on that superpower.” Lip lady is getting frustrated. She’s doing the fish thing with her mouth constantly now and tapping her pen on the desk. “Can you not be so obtuse, miss? I’ve got a bunch of other women out there who will most likely cut the chase and ask for a SM/NS/DF and be done with it.” “Well then, they will just be settling. There are million SM/NS/DFs in this city. And I bet hardly a one of them has a sword and a cape.” “Let me guess, you’re looking for that specific one that does.” Anna smiles. “Obviously.” Lip lady thumbs through the papers on her desk, looking harried and impatient the whole time. “I’ve got a D&D player uptown.” “No.” “I’ve got a stage actor on Long Island. He does Shakespeare so there’s sure to be tights and a sword involved.” “No.” Lip lady is puckering fast and furious now and is just about to give up when a yellowed, wrinkled paper falls out from the pile she is holding. “Hmm..what’s this?” Anna leans forward and tries to read along with Lip lady. “If you are looking for a super man with super power, that’s me. Don’t be afraid of a man in a cape, ladies. You never know what’s underneath that cape until you try.”Anna notices a big “C” marked in red ink across the top of the paper. “C?” “Crazy.” Anna smiles. “We keep the Cs around just for shits and giggles.” “Well that shit and giggle is mine.” Lip lady rolls here eyes. “This paper has been around here since 1991. I don’t even know if he’s still at this number or is even still looking for a woman. For all I know, he’s at a science-fiction convention right now dressed as Luke Skywalker.” “You know so little, ma’am, it’s scary.” Lip lady looks like she’s about to say something but instead tucks the paper into Anna’s file and makes the fishy face. “I’ll try to get in touch with him and give him your fact sheet. You can take it from there.” Anna stands up and walks out. Not a handshake or thank you. Just walks on out the door, and doesn’t see Lip lady taking out a red marker and scrawling a big “C” across Anna’s paper. Anna’s phone rings two days later. “Hello, is this Single Girl looking for Superhero?” “Indeed.” “Coffee at 5 today?” “Sure.” “Meet me in front of the candy shop by Penn. I’ll be the one wearing...” “A cape,” Anna finishes. “Right.” 5pm, right on time, Anna sees him standing in front of the candy shop. His cape is black, lined with purple silk. He sword is hidden under the cape, but she knows it’s there. His hair is slicked back in that obnoxious, macho way. She looks for the scar above his eyebrow, just to make sure. It’s there, bright and ugly. She gets a flash of anger when she sees the scar and remembers how he got away the last time. She will not disappoint her crew again. Cape guy stands there, waiting, expecting a beautiful single women who will fall madly in love with him upon first sight, and he doesn’t even give a thought to explaining to a mere mortal why he lives underground and why he can crush a two ton SUV with his bare hands. He just wants a warm body in bed next to him when he comes home from a hard day trying to save the world. Anna approaches him, her finger steady on the laser gun in the deep pocket of her fur coat. She can tell by the smarmy look on Captain Crusher’s face that he is still the shallow, egocentric man she once worked for, still the guy who thinks he can get by on just his looks and his bone-crushing abilities. She gets within two feet of Crusher, slips her hand out of her pocket and aims the laser gun at him. In an instant it’s over. The invisible laser has struck Crusher in his groin, the one place he doesn’t shield with laser-resistant lead. He always had this fear that the lead would make him impotent. Some super beings have an Achille’s heel. Crusher had an Achille’s dick. As the rush-hour crowd hovers over Crusher, assuming that the crazy guy with the cape had some sort of stroke, Anna makes her way back down the stairs, into the deep of Penn Station. Her crew will be pleased, indeed. But not as pleased as she. ---------------- *title reference

August 23, 2004

fate and fairs

Had a post here but didn't save as I was going along and Firefox crashed on me, taking my post with it. Long story short: Something inane kept me at work three more minutes than I had intended to stay. On the way home, I came upon a flipped over van and a rather smashed up Toyota. And I wondered: if not for that inane (and unecessary) three minute project I stayed to take care of I might have been where that Toyota was. See, you never know what fate does - or doesn't - have in store for you. My deep, if overly dramatic, thought for the day. We are now off to the parents' for an early birthday celebration, as my kids leave for their annual trip to the state fair tomorrow. There's nothing like a good steak and a chocolate cake to effectively stick your tongue out at fate. I see that once again, the state fair people have come up with a bizarre poster. Not as bad as last year's, which made me think my kids were being carted off to the netherworld. But, still....flying cheese cows and bunnies humping flashlights are not exactly the things I think about when I hear the words state fair. And is that Bigfoot riding the coaster? Maybe they'll photoshop it a Fark again.

Strengthen the Good (Hurricane Charley) Update

Alan has announced the chosen charity for Hurricane Charley relief: The Gulf Coast Community Foundation Of Venice Hurricane Charley Disaster Relief Fund. The GCCF of Venice has offered to match all contributions up to $100,000. Details here.

zoning out on the election

I first noticed it at my daughter's third birthday party. A hyperactive, shrilly woman in an oversized Mickey Mouse costume led the ten or so kids at the party in a flurry of activities. In the space of thirty minutes, they danced the hokey pokey, squealed over Disney-themed balloon creatures, chased bubbles, recited an ode to John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt and played Pin the Tail on Pluto. The party volume was on high; the low murmer of chatter from the adults, layered with the high-pitched laughter of Nat's friends, plus the tinny tape player emitting the Disney songs, all of which was no match for the constant, nasal drone of Mickey Mouse him, err, herself. I watched Nat the whole time with a twinge of worry. She didn't seem to be joining in any of the yelling or singing or chasing. Instead, she appeared to me to be behaving classic zombie traits. Stiff motioned, blank stare, seemed to be just following the herd on autopilot. I tried to remember what happened the night before the party. Sure, we had a huge snowstorm that dumped about fourteen inches of the white stuff on the ground (and still, everyone showed up for the party), but as far as I could remember, there was no zombie invasion. Finally, I turned to my sister and said, "Does Nat look sort of catatonic to you?" My sister, too, noticed the glazed eyes and zombie-like behavior. We chalked it up to being overtired, but I had this nagging feeling that Natalie did not have the best time at her own birthday party. Later, I watched the video with a friend, who happened to be a pre-school teacher. She cued in on Nat's behavior right away, without a hint from me. She said it was a defense mechanism. Nat was obviously overwhelmed by the cacophony of noise and movement and sort of put herself in a trance, blocking out certain sounds and motions. It explains why she was able to recall all the good parts of the party in great, breathless detail (leaving out the cousins fighting over a glass of spilled fruit punch), yet looked for all the world like she was on another planet entirely. This also explained why she was able to fall dead asleep at the Tom Chapin concert a few weeks prior to that third birthday party, even though every child around her was singing at a decibel level known to pierce eardrums. When the signal to noise ratio became so saturated with noise that the signal was lost, Nat would just shut down before her little head exploded. Later, we would discover this was just part and parcel of some other issues, but that's another story. So, why do I bring this up now? What could Natalie's zoning out at a birthday party eleven years ago have to do with the election (as per the title)? Well, it seems I have adapted my daughter's favored method of coping. I've zoned out, gone into a Swift Boat coma, had my brain eaten by blogs, etc. Choose your phrase. The noise coming from both sides has reached a level that should only be heard by dogs. To these ears, it's all turned into such a horrid screeching sound that I can no longer focus on all the myriad individuals making the noises - be they in newspapers, on radio or tv, whether they be official spokespeople or bloggers or the candidates themselves. Aurally, it's perhaps the sound of thousands of children blowing whistles at once. Visually, it's 1950's era tv, going static after the national anthem. I've tried to focus on single issues, but there's no one issue that can get through all the crap being hurled against the fan these days. Do you realize that, as of right now, this presidential election is about Vietnam? It's about a war fought thirty freaking years ago. Granted, Kerry was the one who decided to make Vietnam an issue but who knew that meant that just 71 days before November 2nd, it would be just about the only issue? And now everyone is micromanaging this issue down to little, bitty pieces, to the point where the campaign ads are about campaign ads about Vietnam. So while everyone - that includes both campaigns and most of their supporters - are flinging so much Vietnam-flavored feces at each other, I'm sitting here truly shocked that his election is about a thirty year old war. I had to stop reading blogs this weekend because it was all Swift Boat/Cambodia all the time. The major papers were no better, the chat at an online game I play was inundated with Swift Boat cat fights, I'm sick of the negative ads from the Bush campaign (Kerry is mentioned four times - all with graphics or pictures - on the front page of the GWB website, a tactic that irritates me). So when I overheard two women in the bagel store going back and forth about shrapnel wounds (You can really judge a person by this, you know. Oh, I know, but he does have the Purple Heart. No, he has three. Yea, but what about what the veterans are saying? Well, he's not Bush, he's got that going for him. Yea, he does.), I had it. I walked out of the bagel store in full zombie mode and lumbered towards my car sporting a catatonic stare. I wanted brains. BRAINS! Really juicy, meaty brains that were fused with nutrients like the war on terror, taxes, Iraq, health care, education, homeland security. I drove home in a daze. My brain is just going to refuse to acknowledge that this presidential election is about something so far removed from the American psyche that the most relevant voters have no frame of reference for it. While most bloggers are cheering that this issue is finally making it to big media, I'm cringing. Neither side will benefit from bringing the Christmas in Cambodia story mainstream. Neither side will benefit from behaving like monkeys in a zoo in regards to the Swift Boat vets. So now, my defense mechanism has gone into full effect. It's effectively tuning out the noise and letting in all the signal. While it may appear that I'm not paying attention, I certainly am. I'm just filtering out those things that don't need to get in and people may think I look dazed and confused but, like my daughter before me, I'm taking in only what's necessary. I want to talk about the Mickey Mouse lady and the funny balloons, not the spilled fruit punch. I'm going to slink away before this mixed bag of metaphors gets out of hand [yea, too late, I know]. If anyone needs me, I'll be sitting in front of the tv, looking for signs in the static.

August 22, 2004

We interrupt this blogging break to bring you... Cooking with Candidates Just keep scrolling.

August 21, 2004

all filler, no killer

A wise blogger once told me that if I have nothing to say, then don't say anything. In other words, don't post crap just because you feel like you have to fill the space. And no, this has nothing to do with politics. I just despise summer and by late August I'm always consumed by apathy. In lieu of some crappy posts I've deleted and because I have nothing new to say (and won't until at least Monday), here's some stuff I wrote. Back when I writed really good. And don't forget: Voices Project 2004 Strengthen the Good.

August 20, 2004

Voices 2004

First, I’d like to thank everyone for their input regarding the Voices project. Of all the comments and the hefty load of email I got on the subject, only two people thought I shouldn’t continue with it. So, I am forging on, full steam ahead. There will be a shift in the focus of the project this year. This will be the third year of Voices and I'd like to try something different. I’m going to pose a few questions and perhaps you can use them as a starting to point to write something, if you are inclined to participate this year. It’s been nearly three years since 9/11. Where you do stand right now as far as emotional recovery goes? Have you moved on? Healed? How does your emotional view of 9/11 differ now from it did three years ago? Do you find yourself more hopeful than you were then? Has your world view or your ideals changed drastically because of the events of that day or do you think you’re still the same? What lessons have you, personally, learned from 9/11 or the days after? Has the way you live to day to day change, or has it affected the way you deal with your family and/or community? If you could say something to the victims of 9/11 on this third anniversary of their death, what would you say? Those are just some ideas. Again, as with the first two years, you are free to write whatever you want. I will publish everything received. I’m going to get started putting the past two years’ stories at the new home of the Voices Project and then I’ll begin posting your stories or answers to the above questions. My goal is to have everything finished by the second week in September (around the 8th) so I can just do some tweaking to the site and have it ready to go on the 11th. With that in mind, I would ask that your submissions be mailed to me no later than September 6th. My contact info is over to the left, please use only that email address. If you want to help out by publicizing the project, that would be great. I just ask that you do it sooner rather than later so I don’t end up with a last minute crush of emails like last year, when I nearly didn’t get the project finished in time. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to do this again, and thanks to all who have already shared their Voices. And that’s that. Another year’s journey will be recorded and hopefully, the positive light will begin to shine through. [I would ask that those of you who feel negatively about this project not comment on this post at all. Thank you for understanding.]

I had a dream last night that I was in a large house with a foyer. In the foyer hung an enormous potrait of Alan Keyes. Every time I walked out of the room and back in again, the potrait would change. Sometimes Alan would smile, sometimes he would frown. One time, he was wearing a Red Sox cap. Another time, he gave me the finger. I amused myself for what seemed like hours by walking in and out of the foyer, until Alan Colmes told me to stop because I was disturbing the people who had come to view Elvis. Shrug. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I paid a shiva call last night. Or maybe it was the pepperoni pizza.


[ed note: kind of long, very self indulgent. if you make it to the end, you're more intrepid than i give you credit for] There have been few birthdays in my semi-long life that bothered me to the point of angst. imag from http://www.indianhillpress.com/cardbd5r.htmlThere was my eighth birthday. We had a party the day before. Well, my aunts threw a party for me because my parents had to be out of town. At one point during the festivities (which basically came down to a bunch of cousins running wild through the yard, which was no different than any other day except this time we were wearing birthday hats. At least I was) my older cousins informed me that I couldn't play any birthday games because it wouldn't be fair for me to win. The odds of me winning were rather slim, though. I was a clumsy, uncoordinated kid and I wouldn't have been able to pin the tail on the donkey if he shoved his ass right in my face. When I cried to one of my aunts about this birthday game injustice, she told me to stop acting like a little kid. Huh? Stop acting like a kid? But...but I am a kid! Then the light bulb came on. I would be turning eight the next day. What if eight meant you weren't a kid anymore? Did they give more chores at eight? More homework? Would I suddenly have to worry about taxes and war instead of spending my time watching cartoons and playing with my Easy Bake Oven? I spent a very restless night imagining that I would wake up old and crippled. Never mind that I had eight year old cousins who were still as youthful and worry-free as ever. Once an idea like that entered my mind, there wasn't a reasonable fact you could throw at me that would get me to stop worrying. Of course, the next day dawned and I was still a kid. My skin was still smooth, my pajamas still had teddy bears on them. Just to test things out, I watched some cartoons and was relieved to hear myself laughing. Well, at eight I assumed that only kids laughed at cartoons. 34 years later, I'm still laughing. At the same cartoons. So that was my first bout with birthday angst. I was relatively birthday-worry free for the next 17 years. Then came the big 2-5 and crisis of major proportions. All my friends were following the proper life time line set forth by generations before them. Some say there are four stages to life, but in between the Birth, School, Work, Death phases was Get Married, Have Kids. It's what us suburbanites did. Or maybe it was just an Italian thing. I find it laughable now that at 25 I was having what essentially boiled down to a mid-life crisis. Where was I going? What had I done with my life? I was going to be A QUARTER OF A CENTURY OLD! For weeks leading up to my birthday, I refused to entertain any ideas of a party, not even the traditional bar crawl. To make matters worse, my cousin got engaged the day before my birthday. If I knew then what I know now.....eh, you know how that one goes. That was the last birthday crisis I had. The milestones of 30, 35 and 40 came and went without a care. It was easy enough to combat the creeping-of-age poltergeists that were threatening to possess me at 40. I got married that day. Yes, it was my bright idea to combat another life crisis by hijacking my birthday with my own wedding. It worked, oh yes, it worked. But now I'm doomed to a lifetime of combined anniversary/wedding presents, which always translates to "something for the house." So here I am two years later and already I'm faced with another birthday crisis. I thought I was off the hook until 50. I mean, who has nightmares over a 42nd birthday? 42? I should be thrilled to be celebrating the age that represents the answer to life, the universe and everything. Let's take stock of things here, to give this questionable fear of 42 some context: I love my life. I really like my job and all the people I work with. The thought that I'll be there the rest of my working days does not depress me at all. We just became first time homeowners. In short time, I will be a business owner. My marriage is great. My kids are wonderful. My entire immediate family is healthy. Sure, money is tight, but I've already accepted that will always be the case. I already have everything I need and most things I want. I have wonderful friends. I'm satisfied with what I have done with my life and what I'm doing now. The future looks good. So, what gives? If I'm so damn happy with life, why would 42 pose such a challenge? In a word: time. See, now that I'm fully enjoying life and all it has to offer, it occurs to me that I already reached that half-way mark. I waited too long to become self-satisfied! And honestly, I wouldn't really notice the passage of time if it weren't for those two daily reminders that the clock is ticking. That is, my children. You know that Bugs Bunny episode where he's on a desert island with those two guys who keep eyeing each other as hamburgers and hot dogs? It's kind of like that. Every time DJ says something about starting middle school next month or Natalie say something about starting high school next month, my children disappear and are replaced by images of Father Time. And he's laughing at me. I have a kid in high school? How the hell did that happen? Wasn't I in high school just a few years ago? Sure, if you can call 24 years a few. What doesn't help is this "everything old is new again" culture. I took the kids to Kohl's the other day for some back to school shopping. And lo and behold, the demon ponchos I've been writing about were front and center in the junior department. Every mannequin looked like it stepped out of my junior high school yearbook. It's as if a time machine exploded in space and puked the 1970's all over America. How soon before I'm sitting in a high school auditorium wringing my hands over the rebellious youth taking over the town? Yea, went off on a tangent there. But it's all related, somehow. The prevalence of 70's nostalgia here in 2004 has opened some kind of age wound. Seeing all these fringed skirts and ringer tees (with ironic 70's era logos on them) is making me face the fact that I'm old enough to have the accouterments of my childhood worshiped by the kids of today. I'm a dinosaur, a fossilized relic of a time when Earth Shoes were fashionable and 8-tracks were cool. So how do I combat the onset of 42? How do I counter attack the feeling that time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future, that I'm shorter of breath and one day closer to death? I buy myself a lava lamp, listen to some Led Zeppelin and play a game of Pong. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. But I draw the line at ponchos. Ok, 42. I'm ready for you. [Update: In light of the email I'm getting, I really should note that my birthday is not today, it's next week. I like to agonize in advance. But, thanks for the pre-birthday wishes!]

August 19, 2004

Oh, the shark bites

Can a blog jump the shark? Some would say this blog jumped the shark shortly after 9/11. I prefer to think of it as jumping Springfield Gorge. And making it over. Though, lately, the sharks have certainly been circling. I can smell them.

A PSA From Spidey

Everyone needs to have one of these.

Bitchslap Ted Rall Day: Protest Edition

Ted Rall's new column at Common Dreams -NYC to GOP: Drop Dead. Ah, Ted. Even his titles are controversial. Before I take this on from the beginning, I need to wade into the middle of this dirt to clear something up right off the bat. bq. Anti-Republican sentiment is rising to a fever pitch here as the dog days tick down to the dreaded affair. A poll cited by the local ABC affiliate shows 83 percent of New Yorkers don't want their city to host the RNC. And many of them are planning to do something about it. I had to go searching for this poll because Ted doesn't link to it. There's a reason Ted doesn't link to it. His entire paragraph is dishonest. By throwing the words anti-Republican and fever pitch in there, Rall wants you to believe that 83% of New Yorkers are foaming at the mouth because the damn dirty Republicans are coming. Except, for most, politics doesn't even play into it. From the NY ABC affiliate, where the poll originally appeared: bq. A recent survey by a Manhattan public relations firm found 83 percent of those polled do not want the Republican convention in town. When asked why, more than half, 53 percent, were worried about traffic, street closures, and security hassles. That's right. 53% of 83% of the people polled were worried about being inconvenienced. You do the math. It doesn't quite add up to the anti-Republican fever that Rall thinks the entire city has come down with. It's not about Bush or Cheney or the war in Iraq. It's about parking. Let's go back to the beginning now. bq. The Republican delegates here to coronate George W. Bush are unwelcome members of a hostile invading army. Like the hapless saps whose blood they sent to be spilled into Middle Eastern sands, they will be given intentionally incorrect directions to nonexistent places. Objects will be thrown in their direction. Children will call them obscene names. They will not be greeted as liberators. From this we infer that Ted believes are soldiers are hapless saps. But we knew that already. What Ted does in the above paragraph is standard Ted Rall Operating Procedure. I've called Ted a four-trick pony before and he manages to squeeze all of his tricks into that one sentence. So Rall is admitting that some sort of violence (objects thrown at people) will be taking place. And he admits that the Do it For the Children® crowd will be using their children to serve their own purposes (trying to find the link for that particular protest action). As for the liberators thing, well, that's just Ted trying to work in a clever turn of phrase. I think he's used that "not greeted as liberators" thing so often it just automatically spills out of his pen now. Moving on. bq. ...White House strategist Karl Rove sees the continued exploitation of 9/11 for partisan political gain as Bush's key to victory in November. That means bringing the big bash three miles north of the hole where the Twin Towers used to stand, where most of the victims of 9/11 were burned, suffocated, impaled and pulverized. New York has tried to get the convention to grace its streets before, to no avail. When the RNC chose New York City, it was a time when city officials were begging for people to help New York's shattered economy. They saw hosting the convention as a way to bring much needed monetary relief to the city, and the RNC rightfully saw holding their gala in New York as a way of saying "New York is alive and well and safe." It's interesting that so many liberals claim the GOP is running a race based on fear and that the White House constantly bombards us with fear-mongering announcements designed to make us cower under our beds. Yet the GOP steps up and comes to New York City, bringing the president and his crew to one of the most targeted places on the terrorist map. With that, I see an administration telling us they are not afraid. Somehow, to these liberal-soaked minds, giving back to the city that lost so much is a form of exploitation. Go figure. bq. Making hay of the dead is also the point of this confab's timing. The 2004 Necropublican National Convention is being held a full month later than normal, from August 30 to September 2. The original plan was to have Bush shuttle between Madison Square Garden and Ground Zero for photo ops to coincide with the third anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Bush's visits to the Trade Center site were quietly canceled a few months back after 9/11 survivors expressed revulsion at the idea. But it was too late to change the date. Heh, Necropublican. Ted made a funny. Well, if the White House did have those plans and deferred to the wishes of the 9/11 survivors, you would think Ted and friends would say "thank you for understanding, Mr. President" and move on. But no, Rall prefers to rant about his disgust for something that's not even going to take place. Also, this isn't the first time they are holding their convention in late August. And you know, making hay of the dead is a strange phrase for Ted to use. Considering all the "hay" Ted has made of Pat Tillman. bq. Rejecting ex-mayor Ed Koch's call to "make nice" with the party that used the deaths of 2,801 New Yorkers--most of them Democrats--for everything from tax cuts for the rich to building concentration camps at Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib to invading Iraq to enrich Dick Cheney and his fellow Haliburton execs, some groups are encouraging liberal-minded New Yorkers to volunteer for the city's squad of official greeters. Firs of all, not all of the 2,801 people who died in the World Trade Center were New Yorkers. Second, has there every been a study done to determine the political affiliation of each and every victim of 9/11? How does Ted know that most of them were Democrats? Or is that based on his fallacy that every one of the 2,081 dead were New Yorkers? And yea, Abu Ghraib. Can't get through one of these arguments with mentioning that "concentration camp." bq. Creatively altered maps of streets and subways will be handed out to button-clad stupid white men. Other saboteurs wearing fake RNC T-shirts will direct them to parts of town where Bush's policies have hit hardest. Rumor has it that prostitutes suffering from sexually transmitted diseases will discourage the use of condoms with Republican customers. So, the 53% of the 83% of New Yorkers who don't want the convention here are worried about disruptions and what do the protesters aim to do? Cause further chaos and disruptions. As for the part about the hookers, isn't purposefully giving someone a disease considered a criminal act? bq. Adding to the already combustible Chicago '68 vibe is a possible wildcat strike by city cops and firefighters. And now, as if everyone concerned wasn't already tweaky, FBI agents are traveling around the United States, to harass members of leftist groups planning to protest the New York RNC. What Ted fails to mention, and I'm sure he does this for a reason, is that the cops and firefighters are not protesting the Republicans. They are protesting Mayor Bloomberg's misguided reluctance to give them a worthy pay raise. I've talked to several NYC firemen in the past few days, all of them Republican and all of them voting for Bush. They all say their potential protest is one to give publicity to the fact that their mayor won't pay them what they are worth. Basically, they are exploiting the publicity given to the convention to air their concerns. And if the FBI is honing in on protesters, it's because of people like Rall who are shouting to the world that the protest tactics will include actions like throwing things at Republicans. bq. Strikebreaking policemen and private security personnel may be able to keep the protesters away from the convention hall. But Republicans who venture outside the Garden deserve the abuse ordinary New Yorkers will likely inflict upon them. A couple of things here: protesters are coming from all over the country. It's safe to say that a good portion of those standing outside the garden won't be "ordinary" New Yorkers. And can you imagine if some right-wing group said that Democrats "deserve" abuse inflicted upon them? The Hitler references would pile up like a Broadway traffic jam. Also, how will the protesters be able to tell the Republicans from the reporters? Is everyone who walks out of MSG fair game for object throwing? bq. Even viler than Bush's urban neglect is his failure to avenge the World Trade Center victims as he pledged to do on 9/14, dusty firefighter helpfully posing under his arm on The Pile. After 9/11, Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were in Pakistan....blahblahblahblahThe War in Afghanistan was a lie blahblahblah. Here, Ted is still harping on his raison d'etre, that the war in Afghanistan was unjust. Ted doesn't believe that the Taliban was ever in that country. It's all about the oiiiiiiiiilll. See, Ted went to Afghanistan and he spoke to a few people who told him it was about the oil. His entire rant against the Bush administration is based on what a few Afghanistan locals told him. Rall believes the war on terrorism is a loss. Rall suffers from an infliction that plagues most lefties: willful blindness. They don't see all the terror-related arrests. They don't see all the thwarted attacks. They don't see that New York, DC, Chicago and all our other major cities are still standing. They don't see that, almost three years later, we have not suffered another terrorists attack on our nation. But, bin Laden hasn't been brought forth in cuffs, so the war on terror is a wash. Never mind that OBL is probably nothing more than bones and dust at this point. Just as here Rall doesn't see that the convention being held in New York is sort of an in your face to terrorists. NYC to GOP: Drop Dead. That's a nice sentiment from Ted. Do you think he means that? Do you think that Ted is speaking for all New Yorkers or is he once again engaging in a bit of projection, assuming that because he wants the GOP to drop dead, everyone does? We are talking about a guy who believes that nearly everyone who died in the World Trade Center was a New York Democrat. Ted's bout with delusions is getting the best of him, I suppose. Gotta love the closing line: bq. Republicans are neofascists now, and that's why New Yorkers good and true will be yelling at them to go back home. I knew it! I knew he couldn't get through a whole article without saying the F word. Everyone take a drink! Anyhow, the only reason most New Yorkers will be yelling at the GOP to go back home is because New Yorkers do not like to be inconvenienced. It's unlikely that the guy stuck in a mile long traffic jam by the Garden is going to be shouting out slogans about Abu Ghraib. No, it's more likely he'll be cursing the cabs and buses blocking his way. But, wait for it. Rall and his protesting buddies will claim that the driver's underlying anger is a manifestation of his angst over the war in Iraq and that the yellow cab represents the cowardice of our president. So when he's yelling at the cab, that traffic-blocked driver is really protesting the Republicans. 53% of 83% of New Yorkers polled, Ted. Figure it out. Then write another column based on facts. [previous Ted Rall bitchslaps here]

August 18, 2004

A Survey of Sorts

1. I'm debating whether or not to bring the Voices Project back for another year. I'm thinking everyone has said what they wanted to say already. Thing is, doing the project is what got me through the late days of August and early September the past two years. Concentrating on the project, reading all your stories and being able to give others a place to share their voices was very therapeutic. I tried to think of a new way to approach it, but I'm drawing a blank. I'm all ears if anyone has an idea on how to keep the project fresh. Or do any of you think I should just let it go this year?

Taking a Link Dump

Well, I was going to get all theme-like and do this the old Church of the Blogosphere Bulletin way, but we just picked up the special edition of Lost Boys and it looks like family night with vampires is taking precedent. So this will be quick and dirty. Good links all around, folks. Click them all. * The Smarter Cop offers up a plate of waffles. * Jim enjoys his fifteen minutes of Atlanta fame. * Stupid is as stupid does, as the princess can attest to. * Laurence wants us to know that Tom Snyder Lives! You might want to turn your speakers down. * Ith creates the Question the Timing Drinking Game. * Sissy Willis on Lynndie England and turkey shooting. * Hurbis discovers a new way to deal with teen angst. * Veruka - who has quickly become one of my favorite bloggers - talks about flying torsos. Sort of. I also suggest you do a lot of scrolling. Veruka is fairly new to the blogging scene and she blames it all on me. But, she's good! * Chris is keeping an Olympic tally on how the members of the coalition of the willing are doing. * Stephen says Kerry has a border patrol problem. * For the stats lovers among us, Crank has a great post on the Montreal Expos and what they could have been. * David and the Purpose Driven Sex Life, Part I. Sounds like the start of a good musical. * Tom Bridge has a must read about justice being served. * I think this quiz at Begging to Differ wins my favorite link of the night: Alt Rock Lyrics or Spam? * A reminder to join Alan's wonderful project, Strengthen the Good. Al Franken has. * Marty Dodge's band is ready for fame and fortune! * Skillzy has a fair and balanced look at Doom 3. As opposed to his unbalanced love for the Red Sox. * And, my blog o' the day: Heidi McDonald's Beat. [comic geek alert] Some games for you game addicts: * Lightning Pool * Sure, it's just hangman, but it's got some fun categories. Ah, that was a good dump.

Wednesday is Link Day

I'm headed to a funeral service in a bit and after that I'm taking the kids back to school shopping. Damn those kids, they won't stop growing. Now they need whole new wardrobes. Suffice it to say I won't be buying any ponchos or big striped shirts for them. Anyhow, I've got a huge, massive, giant link dump coming up this evening. That sounds gross, I know. But I promise, it won't be. In addition to the usual links to other blogger's stellar writing, I've got a few good games to play (in case you haven't tired of Weboggle yet) and other assorted goodies. Meanwhile, dump your links below in usual fashion. If you've got a blog post, I've got a place to put it. That place depends on what your post is about, of course. I think I may bring back the church bulletin theme. Kidding. Go ahead, it's an official link whore Wednesday. P.S. I'm blog sitting for The Mighty Geek while he's offline for two weeks. I'll be digging into my archives for the Geek, who likes my old stuff. I've already posted the tale of That Actress With the Big Boobs Who Crashed My Grandfather-in-Law's Funeral.

The Decade That Wouldn't Die (Part II)

[Second in a day long series on the 1970's. I'm a bit busy today and original content will be limited. But really, can you resist another story of that bizarre decade? Oh. Well, move on then, because that's all you're getting today] she's a pinball wizard capb.jpgI was about 13 years old when I first entered the Palace. I was a tag-a-long to an older friend who was going there just to score a nickel bag. Pinball Palace was a small, almost hidden place, tucked between the Jerry Lewis Movie theater and a specialty bra shop. From the outside, it looked forbidden and dangerous, two things that combined to point a beckoning finger at me. Gina opened the door and I followed, knowing that this was exactly the kind of place my parents warned me about. As soon as we stepped inside my brain went into sensory overload. The smell hit me first; cigarettes and pot and teenage sweat swirling together in the dank heat of the Palace. The noises. The clacking of pool bools as someone yelled break!; the dings and and whistles of the twenty or so pinball machines that lined the walls; the cursing of the bikers at the pool table; the jangling of quarters in the pockets of Levis; the fist banging on the glass as a machine cried out TILT! It was all underscored by Led Zeppelin's Trampled Under Foot shouting from the jukebox, and the combination of those sounds became my own Pied Piper, begging me to follow. I was hesitant that first day and just hung in back of Gina while she made a deal with guy at the change counter. When she was done, we went behind the movie theater, smoked a joint, and then snuck in the back door of the theater. They were showing Shampoo. We watched Warren Beatty, naked on the floor and humping the daylights out the poor girl underneath him and all I remember is a person was watching them through a window and said something like "Now that's what I call fucking!" Gina sat gaping at the screen, taking in every word, every movement, probably taking notes in her head, and all I could think about was going back to Pinball Palace. The next Saturday, Gina took me with her for another buy. This time, I brought quarters. While Gina flirted with her dealer, I made the walk towards the machine in the far corner. The Bally Wizard. I slowly put the quarter in, knowing full well that I would become addicted to the flashing lights and turning numbers. The quarter dropped. I hit the reset button. The silver ball popped into place and I slowly pulled back the lever, feeling the resistance of the coiled spring. I let go. The tip of the lever and the metal ball connected and as that ball went around the curve on its journey towards the playing field, it took with it my grades, my social life, my allowance. From the first loud ding when the ball rang up my first score, I was obsessed. My fingers worked the flippers as deftly as the lady in the school office worked the typewriter. I moved this way and that, swinging my hips and nudging the machine a little to the left, a little to the right, careful not to piss it off enough to make it tilt. My eyes darted between the ball and the scoreboard and my heart skipped a beat as I saw the paper taped to the top of the glass with the high scores for the week listed. My name would be up there one day. Yes, it would. Gina had to drag me out of the Palace. Even when my quarters ran out, I wanted to stay and watch the masters play, the guys who turned over the numbers on the scoreboard, the guys who could smoke and drink and play at the same time. And then it wasn't just Saturdays anymore. I started walking there after school. If Gina wouldn't go there was always someone else willing to hang out and watch me play pinball with me instead of going home. We would throw a few quarters into the jukebox (three plays for twenty five cents!), and play the same line up each time. Led Zeppelin. Todd Rundgren. Deep Purple. Sometimes I would ask my mother for a ride to the library and when she pulled away after dropping me off, I would run across Front Street and duck into the Pinball Palace. I rationalized my lying. I wasn't out doing drugs - no respectable 13 year old considered pot a real drug, not when the bad kids were doing angel dust - and I wasn't out getting pregnant like Mrs. Winslow's daughter. I was just playing pinball. The frequency of my trips to the Palace waned when winter dug its heels in and no one wanted to walk that far. Occasionally, we would get a ride to the movie theater and slip inside the Palace instead. Each time I walked through those doors was like the first; the smell, the sounds, the pumping of my adrenaline would all be new again. They closed Pinball Palace before the good walking weather came back. Neighbors were complaining. Community action groups were picketing. Churches were praying for the souls of the kids caught up in the glare of those flashing lights. They claimed Pinball Palace was a haven for dirty, unkempt teenagers who cursed and drank and smoked. It was stealing the life and soul of the community's young adults. And then, it was gone. I cried, I mourned, I laid in bed at night, my fingers twitching to imaginary flippers, the game playing out in my mind. We had to find another place. That summer, my parents sprung the news on me that they were taking me out of the "terrible" public school system. They didn't like my friends. They didn't like my attitude. Catholic high school would surely lead me on the path to a righteous life. I would make new friends, they said, friends that wouldn't drag me to those filthy pinball places, friends who wore skirts and ties and gave their quarters to the collection basket instead of machines. By the end of the second week at the new school, I had made a few new friends just like my parents wanted me to. Momlet me stay after school each day and take the late bus home, assured that I was sitting quietly in the cafeteria with my new virtuous friends studying and doing homework. Not quite. See, the 7-11 across the street from school held a deep dark secret in its back corner. A Bally Wizard pinball machine. My new friends, who hated ties and skirts and hoarded their quarters like gold, would watch me play for hours each day, taking bets on whether I would break the high score or not. I had a following. I was the Pinball Wizard. Catholic school was working out just fine. Sure, 7-11 wasn't quite the same as the smoke-filled palace. But Kevin did bring along a portable cassette player each day and we listened to Genesis and Todd Rundgren while I swished and swayed and occassionally tilted. Pinball eventually gave way to other video games; Asteroids and Galaga and Space Invaders. Arcades started popping up everywhere. My pinball skills were no longer celebrated, I was a has-been, a thing of the ancient past. I never regret all those hours and quarters spent feeding my pinball frenzy. I never regret the time spent learning the exact angles of each machine, or feeling the excitement when my name went up on the high score chart. My mother always told me that I was wasting away my life playing those games, that I would never get anything useful out of it. Hah. What does she know? If it wasn't for those quick relfexes and incredible hand-eye coordination I developed at Pinball Palace, I would have never kicked my son's ass at House of Dead 2 the other day.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

Mayor Bloomberg to potential RNC protesters: "Now play nice and mommy will give a big lollipop!" They must be rolling on the floor in laughter over at protester central. Can't say I blame them. Update: this idea is just ripe for Photoshopping. citybutton.jpg

The Decade That Wouldn't Die (Part I)

All this talk of the 70's has obviously woken a sleeping giant within.

Today I'll be offering a series of my older pieces on that wonderful, horrible decade. First up:

The Summer of '76:

Summer memory: On my 14th birthday I received Frampton Comes Alive. I sat with my friends behind 7-11, drinking beer hidden in Slurpee cups and smoking cigarettes. I had the album with me, in all it's vinyl glory, and my eyes glazed over in that 14 year-old girl way whenever I looked at the picture of Frampton on the cover. That hair! Those eyes! Swoon!

I never confessed that I didn't really like Frampton's music. I liked his hair. Ok, I went crazy over three songs on the album but the rest was crap. But I was cool for having it, and we went back to my house and listened to the stupid wah-wah pedal thing and when you are 14 and you just smoked some pot and the record player is emitting sounds of "do you feel like we do" played through some voice synthesizer, all you think about is some Charlie Brown special where the teachers are doing that wah-wah-wah voice and maybe playing some air guitar to Show Me The Way.

Holy shit! I was smoking pot at 14? You mean I only have about two years before my daughter comes home reeking of resin and bong water?

Anyhow. As much as Frampton's hair and synthersizer amused me, I had other musical avenues to explore. 1976 was the year the Ramones debuted. Kiss's Destroyer came out that year. Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune. Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak. And even though I had all that metal running through my brain, there was no way to avoid the musical vomit that came out of the tinny AM receiver that summer.

How many times could you hear Rick Dees singing Disco Duck before you wanted to go deaf? The song that defined my summer of 1976 in the worst way possible was Starland Vocal Band's Afternoon Delight. Sure, I was too naive to know the song was about catching a little noontime nookie but it annoyed the piss out of me anyhow. On one end of the radio dial you had Gordon Lightfoot mourning his Edmund Fitzgerald and on the other end was a constant barrage of More, More, More and Fly, Robin, Fly. I would always hope that somewhere in between I would catch Play That Funky Music, White Boy and I would close my bedroom door and do some spastic dance while pretending to be ultra cool.

I wore my Disco Sucks button with pride. And I spent hours in my air-conditioned bedroom dreaming up ways to change the music industry. I wrote my own lyrics, 4-chord save-the-world type lyrics that would show those white suit wearing disco freaks that there was more to life than dancing.

Save the whales, Save the whales
Send your money through the mail.

Later on, I would form a band called Pond Scum with my little sister and we would have revolutionized the music industry if we only knew how to play an instrument. Even though Lisa could bang out the Theme from M*A*S*H* on the recorder, we didn't think that was quite enough.

I would lay in bed that summer listening to the radio and Nazareth's Love Hurts would come on and I would cry. At 14, I knew nothing of love or hurt, but I knew that the voice coming out of my speakers did and his hoarse cry of sadness always made me feel as if love were nothing to look forward to.

1976 was the bicentennial of our nation, and while I remember the fireworks and the ships in the harbor what I remember most is the local theater only charging 76 cents to see a movie for the rest of the summer. Maybe we saw the Bad News Bears or maybe it was Blood Sucking Freaks, all I know is that at some point in 1976 I saw Burnt Offerings in a movie theater and complained that there wasn't enough gore or scares and that Oliver Reed gave me the creeps. And that year there was Carrie, which made me vow to never go to a prom or date John Travolta, and Taxi Driver, which made me leery of cab drivers and Robert DeNiro and Logan's Run, which made me think of plot holes and bad acting.

1976 was the year that there was all that hoopla about Red Dye #2 and I had to stop eating maraschino cherries by the dozen.

1976 was the last summer I remember feeling so innoncent, so oblivious to the world around me. 1977 brought the Son of Sam and loot-filled blackouts and the feeling that the world wasn't about some pop song and summer would never mean quite the same to me. At least not until 1978. But that's another story.

(And just for the record, Summer of Sam was one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life)

August 17, 2004

70's Fashion Warning

Regarding this and this: Is this what you fashion industry people want to bring back? Please, for the love of go-go boots, NO. No one should have to live through that again. Ever. Look. Look at these dresses: [click for bigger image]Wait. Wait until I get home. I have pictures of me in ponchos! I will sacrifice my dignity and post all the 70's era photos of myself and my sisters that I can find if it saves just one child from having to face this fashion again. We must fight the industry and tell them NO. No ponchos, no, handkerchief dresses, no enormous stripes or plaid pants or corked shoes. It's wrong and you know it. What's next? Eight tracks? Tuna casseroles? Pea green living room decor? Dorothy Hamill haircuts? I swear to you, if my father starts wearing his beige and brown leisure suit again, I will make the fashion mavens responsible for this pay. I've got to find those poncho pictures.

Terror Charges in Britian

[These charges are against the eight arrested two weeks ago. What's news is that the target was not the UK, but the U.S. - very specific targets]
Dhiren Bharot, from Willesden, north-west London, is charged with possession of plans for the stock exchange and Citigroup bank building in New York, IMF headquarters in Washington DC. Along with Nadeem Tarmohammed, again from Willesden, he was also accused of owning documents relating to an alleged attack on the Prudential Building in New Jersey.
Eight men were arrested, including a major Al Qaeda figure. ...authorities report the men planned to use radioactive, chemical, toxic, and explosive substances, and that their target was not the UK … rather, it was the United States... News and updates at Command Post. Another blow to the war on terrorism. It's working.


In the effort to quell my bad mood, I'll rip myself off with something non controversial. sometimes i....... Sometimes when a really annoying person is talking to me, I tune them out and chant "i hate you" over and over again in my head until they are done. Sometimes, when I am driving through an underground parking garage, I duck my head. Sometimes I imagine I work in a jigsaw puzzle factory, and I throw away one piece from each puzzle just to mess with people. Sometimes, if I have to speak in front of a group of people, instead of imagining them in their underwear like most people do to keep from being nervous, I imagine that they are all dead. Sometimes, when someone says that the Magnolia is the best movie they ever saw, I want to kick them in their shins. Sometimes Belle and Sebastian will come on the winamp right after Rammstein and I feel like I want to kick my own ass. Sometimes I wish life was a musical and that music would come out of nowhere and we would all break into songs that we know all the words to and dance in total synchronization. In an Oklahoma! sort of way, not a Cop Rock sort of way. Sometimes I fall asleep with the remote in my hand, and I change the channels in my sleep and I start dreaming that I am on C-Span. Sometimes I take the covers off the Sharpies just to sniff them. Sometimes I hear the call of Cthulhu. Sometimes I think if I try hard enough, I really could make The Force work. Yes, yes, you may add your own.

Forget AvP

Freddy v. Jason v. Ash. Ash wins.

Laptop Scandal!

I really did myself a disservice by not taking my mother's old advice and counting to ten before I unload my fury on someone. Vinny has since removed the offending post. I don't know why, nor do I suspect I will hear from him as to why he took it down. Nor do I care. (Update: looks like Vin is also closing up his blog today. Awww.) I've taken down the parts of this post where I quote what Vinny had to say. However, I'm leaving up the parts below because they still stand. And we'll leave it at that. If you got here late and don't know what the hell I'm talking about, don't worry. It was just me battling it out with someone very insignificant. I knew as soon as I decided not to go to the convention that I was going to owe some people both apologies and money. If Vinny thinks this was some kind of scam on my part, well, he doesn't know me as well as he thinks he does. Late last night I sent out a few emails to those who donated specifically to the laptop fund (most people who donated included messages about buying myself a beer or a DVD or going out to dinner with the money - only about 5% of the donations I've received in the past year were convention related). If you are one of those people who put money in my PayPal account with the intent of that money going towards my convention blogging and you haven't heard from me yet, please email me and not only will I gladly refund your donation, but I'll send a matching amount to your favorite charity. Thank you for all your support.

with cheese

So, Lileks be damned, I was going to write about being a 70's fashion victim anyhow. But one thing led to another and I ended up loading the dishwasher and putting away laundry and it was suddenly time to get ready to leave for work. However, in my pre-post research, I found that I did - quite a few times - write about those hideous clothes I was made to wear in my youth. So yes, you get a repeat. You're going to get a lot of repeats in the coming days because I am going through old posts in preparation for something and I'm putting them out here as sort of litmus test for what it is I'm working on. Anyhow, this post isn't so much about fashion as it is about what that fashion did to me, but it does link to another older post about awful clothing from my past. ------- I am the cheese Did you ever come across a memory you didn't know you had? Memories are funny that way; they will just sneak up on you out of nowhere, as if they escaped from some cell inside your brain. I had one of those moments today and it clarified the whole meaning of my life for me. It was first grade. We were playing Farmer in the Dell in music class and everything was moving along just fine. Until the end, that is, when Ray Cicco picked me to be the cheese. So there I was, in my puffy dress and itchy tights and shiny black shoes, standing in the middle of this huge circle while the rest of the class chanted and the cheese stands alone. I wasn't an outgoing kid to begin with. My mother's penchant for making me wear frilly dresses and shiny shoes to school had already pegged me as an outcast. The fact that I rarely spoke above a whisper, added to the horror of being the smallest in the class, meant I was ripe for the picking. So I stood there. The music teacher, Mrs. Kaplan, either was enjoying the singing so much or wanted to torture me, because she had the class repeat the and the cheese stands alone refrain several times. Finally, the game ended and everyone went back to their seats. And then it started. Cheese! The first time it was whispered softly. Then again, a different voice. Cheese! Then someone more brazen than the whisperers pointed right at me and declared It's the cheese! The rest of the day they referred to me as The Cheese or Cheesy and would walk past me singing and the cheese stands alone. The teasing lingered for the rest of the week and then died out. It didn't matter. The damage to my six year old psyche had already been done. Is it any wonder that years later, I Am The Cheese would become my favorite book? So what does this have to do with the rest of my life? Simple. I was the cheese standing alone for many, many years. I still am, in a way. I may be more outgoing than I was 34 years ago. I probably have more friends now than I did in my entire grade school years combined. But I am still uncomfortable around large groups of people. I still feel vulnerable and small in any setting that may put me at the center of attention. Maybe it's why I wear black clothes all the time; to not be noticed. I still don't like overly competitive games. I hate musical chairs and dodge ball and any game that may single out one little kid for losing. I don't think they play things like Farmer in the Dell in school anymore. DJ came home from school Friday with his jeans torn and grass stains all over him. Me: What were you playing? DJ: Suicide. Me: Suicide. DJ: Yea, it's a really cool game. He then said something about a ball and a wall and throwing as hard as you can at someone. Me: That's interesting. How do you win? DJ: Duh. You don't die. Me: That seems sort of violent. DJ: What? You want us to play duck duck goose? Me: Yes. As a matter of fact, I do. DJ: How about kill the goose? Me: Sigh. The cheese episode must have affected me more than I realized if it was still rattling around in my brain this whole time. I was thinking that this was a whole new set of people to blame for my reluctance to speak up or make friends. And what does it say about me that cheese is my absolute favorite kind of food? Is it a subconcious way of saying I love myself? I want to eat myself? And you know, I'm slightly lactose intolerant, so maybe that's my body's way of saying "hey, even you can't stomach you!" Could this be why I am a Packers fan? (cheeshead...get it?) You would think the incident would have caused an aversion to cheese, not an obsession with it. Or maybe the cheese incident had nothing at all to do with my life and the way I turned out. Maybe it was the drugs. Nah. It was my mother and the damn frilly dresses, or the infamous dress with a clock on it. I've forgiven her for it, but I get even by sending my kids to her house dressed like slobs. It absolutely kills her. I get a slight thrill by watching my mom cringe when Natalie and DJ bounce into her house wearing faded jeans and t-shirts. She once tried to buy a dress for Natalie (who has worn a dress about twice in her entire life) and I stopped mom in her tracks. "You are not buying her a dress," I told her. "You make her wear one of those frilly dresses and before you know it she'll be sitting in a corner writing dark poetry and drawing pictures of her classmates with knives sticking out of their eyes." "You are a really strange person," my mother says. "Dress. Clock." I say in defiance. She knows what it means. "Oh for god's sake, get over that crap already." I pout and walk away and as mom starts making fun of me by mocking my "and you bought me off-brand sneakers instead of Keds" routine, I stick my fingers in my ears and say lalalalallala I can't hear you! I am the cheese.

Lileks Ate My Brain

You know what really sucks? When you go to bed secure in the knowledge that you have your morning blog post all sewn up because you saw this article on how the fashions of the 70's were coming back - including ponchos - and you thought to yourself, oh, that's what I'm going to blog about in the morning because that subject is just ripe for picking, and then you form some wonderful sentences and snarky insults in your mind about ponchos and then, you wake up in the morning, pull up The Bleat and see that while you were sleeping, James Lileks was sucking the 70's idea out of your head with a magical bendy straw.

Curse you, James Lileks.

Back to the drawing board.

August 16, 2004

Retro Blogging

So as not to keep the navel gazing post below up top, a blast from the past in honor of the anniversary of Elvis' Presley's death. elvis.jpgIt was one of those moments when you say something you know you shouldn't. But I couldn't help myself. I was fourteen and still in the throes of teenage-girl-smart-ass disease. 25 years ago tomorrow, I was sitting in the backyard listening to the radio when I heard the news. I went inside and found my mother in her room, making her bed. "Hey, mom. Guess you won't be going to that Elvis concert next week." "What?" "He's dead."

I may have snickered, I don't know. Mom ran into the bathroom and turned on the little radio she kept in there. I remember the voice. I remember the exact sound of the tinny, staticy voice that relayed the news to my mother in a much softer way than I did. Elvis was dead. My mother's eyes filled with tears and despair while her face registered only that small "o" one's mouth makes when they hear shocking news. That "o" stayed there for a while, but the despair in her eyes had become hard and angry. She was pissed at me. How could I have told her like that, knowing that she idolized Elvis in a pure, passionate way? How could I do that? What kind of daughter was i? Well, I was fourteen. That's my only excuse. I was a fourteen year old whose mother made fun of her own idolization of another self-obsessed, overly dramatic singer who similarly became a bloated replica of himself. And later, dead and bloated. Maybe it was my way of evening up the score. My mother had this friend Noreen. Noreen was the largest woman I ever knew. Not just heavy large, but tall and wide and her hair was piled up on her head so she looked even taller. Her voice roared even when she whispered and her sneezes were legend in the neighborhood, said to be heard from at least three blocks away. She wore mumus and housecoats and tons of hairspray and sometimes she wore an ugly fur coat that made her look like a small woodland creature was nesting on her shouler. Noreen and my mom were the Elvis duo. They worshiped him. They loved him. They knew everything about him and owned everything to do with him including Elvis commemorative plates and I think one of them had an Elvis wristwatch. I grew up with Elvis's hips grinding in my face and his voice grinding in my ears and I have to admit that at some point, I realized what the attraction was. When I would lay in bed on summer nights, trying to sleep while my mother and Noreen and the rest of their crew played Pinochle in the kitchen and had Elvis on the stereo, I knew. His voice would come drifting into my room and I could feel the sensuality, the danger, the passion that lied within his words. I would never tell anyone this, of course. I went about my daily business of bowing before Jim Morrison and Robert Plant and never let on that I thought Elvis was cool. Especially to my mother. That would just ruin the taut, tenous relationship that we both thrived on. Who was I to break the rite of passage of mother-teenage daughter bitterness and anger? Noreen and my mother were going to see Elvis in August, 1977 at the Nassau Coliseum. They had seen him many times before but this one was special. They had a feeling this would be his last tour ever. They were like little giddy school girls in the weeks leading up to the show. Sometimes my mother would take out her ticket and look at it. As I write this I realize that my mother was 39 at the time. The same age I am now. When I was fourteen, 39 was old and withered and wrinkled. 39 was too old to be getting worked up over a hip-shaking idol. Yet, here I am at 39 and I'm not old or withered or wrinkled and I would certainly get worked up over my hip-gyrating idol. She was so happy. And I crushed her world. It would have been a much softer blow if it came from Cousin Brucie or Uncle somebody on whichever oldies station she was listening to. It would have been a bit easier to take if her teenage bag of hormones didn't make some smarmy remark about dying like a fat, beached whale. When Noreen found out we heard her from two blocks away, bellowing and carrying on. Her booming voice sounded through the neighborhood like a siren, a mourning call for all Elvis fans in East Meadow to gather on her lawn and weep. Not really. But it was something like that. I don't think my mother ever told Noreen the way in which she found out about the death of their hero. I probably wouldn't have lived to tell this tale if she knew. She would have kicked my ass all over town. When Noreen died, my first thought was that she would finally get to see Elvis again. My second was that I was now safe from my mother ever spilling the beans to Noreen about my youthful indiscretion. 25 years later,my mother still has not forgiven me. Maybe that's what drives every argument we have, every nit-picky little fight we endure. Maybe she's still mad at me. I know she still resents it, still thinks about because yesterday she told my daughter that I laughed at her when Elvis died. I didn't laugh. I may have snickered a little. Maybe. I sent an email to my mother this morning:

I'm sorry, mom. I'm sorry I told you like that. But in a way it's your fault for making me sit through Viva Las Vegas and Jailhouse Rock, for forcing that horrid "In the Ghetto" on my ears, for making me tried fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. It's been 25 years, mom. I promise to play Elvis at my wedding next week if you promise to get over it already. Deal?
Maybe I should reword that.


I have a rather suprising announcement to make. I am not going to the Republican National Convention. It came down to this: I had to make a choice between spending four of my few remaining vacation days in New York City blogging what will probably be a non-event or spending those days - the last days of my kids' summer vacation - doing things with my family. The family won. There were circumstances to take into consideration, such as the fact that my kids are spending a week away with my parents next week, coming back the night before the RNC. And when the RNC is over, school starts. My kids are are getting older and they're at that age when their social life, extra curricular activites, homework and other things means there isn't a lot of time for family togetherness. The week after the RNC, one kid starts middle school and the other starts high school. Years are moving by as fast as weeks. Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Obviously, this is about more than blogging a political bash. I'm having a minor mid life birthday crisis, I suppose. But it's caused me to rearrange my priorities and figure out what's important to me. When I realized I was actually spending time contemplating which was more important, going to the RNC or spending much needed and elusive time with my kids, well you can see the idiocy of that. There should be no contemplation. So I won't be at the convention. The world will gone. And there are plenty of bloggers who will bring you the best of anything that's going on there, anyhow. I've got some day trips to plan.

Michael Chabon's Summerland: A Half Review

Why a half review? Because I've only read about half the book. And I'm not going to read anymore.

I can't fathom what possessed Chabon - author of the fabulous Kavalier and Clay - to write Summerland.

Oh, wait. Yes I can. Money. I imagine one day his publisher came to him and said, "Hey, Michael, why don't you write a children's book so we can cash in on the Harry Potter-fueled children's fantasy book craze?"
And Michael said "What a fabulous idea. Except I never really wrote for children before."
To which the publisher said "Oh, that doesn't matter, make it up as you go along!"

Which may work well for some people - after all, Rowling had never written a children's book before she wrote Harry Potter - but it does not work for Chabon. In fact, by the third or fourth chapter of Summerland it becomes painfully obvious that Chabon is in way over his head.

Chabon takes the tried and true formula of putting an ordinary kid in an extraordinary situation and mutilates it. He 'borrowed' liberally from Lewis, Rowland, Eager and L'Engle, taking their ideas and themes and mashing them all together in what amounts to a big mess of a story with no direction and no coherence.

The idea of taking all the things that made other children's fantasy books work and putting them into one story may seem like a genius idea at the start, but imagine it this way: taking all of your favorite desserts and sticking them in a food processor to make one uber dessert would not turn out well. Not only would you not be able to tell the peanut butter from the chocolate, but it would taste like ass.

In Summerland, Chabon goes by a formula that's worked for kid's movies for ages (and don't for a minute think that Chabon wasn't penning a screenplay so much as a novel when he wrote it): a misfit kid, his misfit, skeptical best friend, a mean adult, an adult who manage to see the magic that kids see, an absent (in this case, dead) parent and the idea that human beings are shit. In what can be called a misplaced stroke of genius, Chabon decided to make his story different than all the others by giving it an underlying theme of baseball. What could be better than marrying magic and baseball? Too bad the baseball theme gets tiring and burdensome about 60 pages in.

Summerland could have been good. No, it could have been great. Fabulous. Stupendous. A giant leap in the realm of children's fantasy. But Chabon can't tell the story, which is surprising. While he knows how to string words together to make a beautiful sentence, he can't string the constantly changing plot lines together. Story lines come out of nowhere, leaving the reader disjointed and confused. Too often, things don't make sense and the baseball metaphor appears forced, throwing the story into further disarray.

I'll probably give in and read the rest of the book, just to see how he wraps up the myriad story lines and closes the gaping holes. I had high expectations for this book and for Chabon. Summerland was touted as the greatest thing since Harry, but it's the children's fantasy version of Goosebumps.

Reminder: Strengthen the Good

[Note: This post will stay on top all day. Newer posts will be below this one] I know many of you don't blog read on weekends, so I just want to repeat this post from yesterday, pointing to a wonderful initiative by my TCP partner Alan. The post is below. Please read if you haven't already. Back in May, Alan came up with a grand idea: Strengthen the Good. It was a repsonse to the Nick Berg murder and the anger that arose from the brutality of Nick's death. He put the idea up on Command Post and people responded - overwhelmingly so. The call out to blogs and blog readers helped raise $15,000 for the family of Susan Tom. Alan didn't want the idea of "strengthening the good" to die out after the money was raised for the Tom family. So he bought this domain with the intention of turning his altruistic idea into an ongoing project. bq. Here’s the idea: Create a network of bloggers who raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and, like Susan Tom, inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries. Due to time constraints and Alan's hectic business schedule, the Strengthen the Good blog sat on the back burner, though it was never off Alan's mind, as almost every phone call we had ended up being about this great project. Alan has decided that now is the time to make the site go live. bq. Now, to action: Charley presents the first opportunity. Indeed, I threw the blog up before Seki’s design was ready because we’re already getting requests from readers about how they should help. Rather than give to the Red Cross, however, I’m working to identify a more local cause, which should pop up in the next day or so. When it does (and it will), I’ll post it as the first Strengthen The Good micro-charity. I’ll send the reminder email, and I hope you’ll join in with your link. Read the post for the rest of the information about joining the mailing list, linking to the project and, in general, making this work. Over at STG, Alan has already posted some ways that you can help the ongoing relief efforts in Florida and the Carolinas. Eventually, Alan, with your help, will narrow STG's relief effort down to one local cause and all money raised from this mission of the Strengthen the Good project will go to that. Please, fellow bloggers, give some publicity to this project. Consider it a blogosphere call to action. And for all you blog readers out there, join the mailing list and then pass the links on to your friends and family. Thank you. Update: If you do want to participate in this, please join the mailing list.

The Cutler Chronicles

Of all the things to anger me this weekend, this is probably the one I should have let go. But I won't. Call it pettiness or whatever you will, but the story of the rise to low-level stardom of one Jessica Cutler sets my nerves on fire.

A five page article in the Washington Post yesterday details Cutler's rise from obscure whore to Playboy poser and six-figure author. The author tries to make the article appear to be a bit more than a fluff piece propping up yet another famous slut by interspersing the Tales of Jessica with studied quotes on moral relativism and the sexual mores of our younger generation. But it's hard to read this piece as any kind of morality tale when there are sentences like this:

Jessica tottered down the Russell Building's marble hallways atop the cute, nude-colored sandals that she liked to think made her legs look longer and sexier.

It's a Jackie Collins novel come to life.

The article goes on to detail Jessica's sexcapades and offers up justifications for her taking money for sex. It's a sordid story and I can't for the life of me figure out not only why Cutler seems proud of her tale, but why she's being feted by the media as if she were the spokesmodel for today's woman. Good god, let's hope it's not that.

Reading the rest of the story, I came away with a worse opinion of Cutler than I already had. She's a shallow, vain, self-centered woman who is going to crash and burn at a very early age, book contract and Playboy money notwithstanding.

I don't wish that on her. I'm sure it can't be good for one's self esteem when you look in the mirror at 30 years old and realize that everything you've done for the past few years has led you down the road to psuedo-celebrity hell. "I was a Trivial Pursuit Question" isn't something you want to add to your resume. Unless, of course, you're trying out for a gig on The Surreal Life.

Wait for it.

"I was only blogging for, what, less than two weeks?" she says. "Some people with blogs are never going to get famous, and they've been doing it for, like, over a year. I feel bad for them."

Note to Jessica: There's famous and there's infamous. Guess which you are.

And honestly, most of us don't want to be famous, per se. Sure, I'd love to get that six figure book deal, but I'm not gonna bang dirty old men to take the fast track to fame.

And therein lies most of the problem. What do young girls think when they hear the story of Jessica Cutler? Were they to read this WaPo article, they would see a woman who has slept with men in exchange for expensive meals and cash. They'll see her described as a fashionable, hip chick with all the right clothes, all the right connections, living the party life with no regret. It's no different than Paris Hilton, to an extent. A B-list celebrity cavorting in the spotlight, most often seen half naked in front of night clubs or fully naked in a home video. How does the media react to Hilton's sexual exploits? They give her a hosting spot on the Teen Choice Awards. It's soft-core porn, mass media style.

I'm not a huge moralist and I don't think there is no place for sex - or sexuality - in our society. But there is a big difference between promoting sexuality and promoting sex.

Perhaps my moral standards have changed as my kids got older. I see this blitz of breasts on even network television every day and it saddens me to think that my daughter is growing up in a media-crazed society that rewards most the women - and girls - who show the most. Maybe I've become a bit of a prude in my old age, but I cringe when I see women parading around in next to nothing because I know that teenage girls are impressionable and will emulate these women. What does a girl want, anyhow? Fame, fortune, Hollywood nights and hunky celebrities/rock stars dangling from their arms. No matter how
"good" your teenage daughter is, it's a safe bet that these are the things she's daydreaming about as she stares out the window. Now, thanks to women like Jessica Cutler, the media that gives play to them and the people that open the doors to their virtual pink Cadillacs to pimp them, our daughters can further see how being a vapid, self-centered, materialistic whore can get you five pages in a major newspaper, a spread in Playboy, a book deal and a chance at fifteen minutes of fame.

[photo and WaPo link from OTB]

August 15, 2004

Weboggle: for those keeping score at home

When I linked to Webloggle yesterday, I certainly did not expect the flurry of "hate" mail I received. Hey, it's not my fault if you became addicted, too! I didn't make you click that link. I didn't make you spend ten hours playing. It's not my fault your kids wen't hungry yesterday because you were busy spelling moon, spoon, goon, noon all night. Anyhow, I basically told you it was addicting. Quite a few people who emailed wanted to know what name I'm using (and I love that part about it - there's no registration so you can play on a different ridiculous name every time) so they can keep track of how many times they beat me. I also recognized a few names, like greyhawk, norbizness and dorkafork. Yea, I've been watching you like John Ashcroft, kids. Mostly, I'm woodpecker from mars. Sometimes, depending on the other names in the game, I'm karl roves brain. I've been playing the 5x5 grid a lot, though I usually spend more time at the 4x4. Bring it on, suckers. By the way, this lame weekend of blogging is brought to you courtesy of this book, which (not quite done with it yet) I'm not sure if I like or not.

A Blogosphere Call to Action: "Strengthen the Good" in Florida

Back in May, Alan came up with a grand idea: Strengthen the Good. It was a repsonse to the Nick Berg murder and the anger that arose from the brutality of Nick's death. He put the idea up on Command Post and people responded - overwhelmingly so. The call out to blogs and blog readers helped raise $15,000 for the family of Susan Tom. Alan didn't want the idea of "strengthening the good" to die out after the money was raised for the Tom family. So he bought this domain with the intention of turning his altruistic idea into an ongoing project. bq. Here’s the idea: Create a network of bloggers who raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and, like Susan Tom, inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries. Due to time constraints and Alan's hectic business schedule, the Strengthen the Good blog sat on the back burner, though it was never off Alan's mind, as almost every phone call we had ended up being about this great project. Alan has decided that now is the time to make the site go live. bq. Now, to action: Charley presents the first opportunity. Indeed, I threw the blog up before Seki’s design was ready because we’re already getting requests from readers about how they should help. Rather than give to the Red Cross, however, I’m working to identify a more local cause, which should pop up in the next day or so. When it does (and it will), I’ll post it as the first Strengthen The Good micro-charity. I’ll send the reminder email, and I hope you’ll join in with your link. Read the post for the rest of the information about joining the mailing list, linking to the project and, in general, making this work. Over at STG, Alan has already posted some ways that you can help the ongoing relief efforts in Florida and the Carolinas. Eventually, Alan, with your help, will narrow STG's relief effort down to one local cause and all money raised from this mission of the Strengthen the Good project will go to that. Please, fellow bloggers, give some publicity to this project. Consider it a blogosphere call to action. And for all you blog readers out there, join the mailing list and then pass the links on to your friends and family. Thank you. Update: If you do want to participate in this, please join the mailing list.

August 14, 2004

Hopelessly Addicted


Karl Rove's Magical Weather Machine

Jesuschristonapogostick, people. Here's a napkin. Go wipe the foam from your mouth. [DU link has been fixed]

Today's Game: Find the Bias

Newsday: "WE QUESTION THE TIMING OF THIS HURRICANE!" Ladies and Gents, the highlights (in extended entry): * Once Hurricane Charley is gone from Florida, it's a safe bet President Bush will sweep in. Natural calamities present political opportunity, and many crucial electoral votes are in the path of Charley's howling winds. * Bush swiftly issued a disaster declaration to expedite federal aid as Charley tore into the Florida Gulf Coast on Friday. He was acting on a request that had come from his brother Jeb, the governor... * Officials are loath to ascribe campaign motives to emergency response, but politics infuses everything this close to an election. No more so than in the state that handed Bush the presidency. * The hurricane bore down not only on the scene-stealing state of the last election, but one of the most politically dynamic parts of it - * For Bush, lessons of disaster politics are close to home. His father's political advisers were caught flat-footed at a similar point of the campaign cycle -- August 1992 -- when Hurricane Andrew wreaked havoc in Florida. * Barring an obviously inept performance from the White House, natural disasters inoculate presidents from campaign criticism for a time.. * Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, for example, won't let himself be seen as begrudging Floridians federal relief dollars no matter how generous, analysts say. * In 1992, Democratic candidate Bill Clinton toured Andrew's aftermath but carefully avoided jabbing at his opponent over the halting response * Clinton's on-the-scene empathy after the Oklahoma City bombing moved people during a low point in his presidency, and his visits to disasters including Midwestern floods became a tour de force. I ask you. Bias or not?


Hurricane Charley has left a trail of destruction in Florida and is doing more of the same in the Carolinas. We've been covering it over at Command Post and I'm just devestated by the stories I'm reading. The phrase I keep hearing is significant loss of life. While it would seem the states hit hard were prepared for Charley, what they weren't prepared for - and what no one can precisely predict - was the hurricane's sudden turn, which took it directly into the area where people who were evacuated had headed for safety. We've got a whole bunch of stories over at TCP, and we're tracking the radar to see where Charley is headed next. What we've also got is ways to help. Right now there are two posts up detailing ways to make donations, and soon we are going to attempt to coordinated blog effort to get much needed donations to the devastated areas. Stay tuned, and for those in the path of Charley, stay safe.

Silver and Gold

I sat through the opening ceremonies last night. I wasn't particularly impressed with the nearly naked men hanging from the sky, the performance art theater of living statues, the brightly painted props that at times seemed ripped from an elementary school drama production, the nesting doll flag bearers or the lady giving birth to E.T. in the middle of the pond. And I hardly was impressed listening Katie Couric punctuate her inane ramblings with, well, more inane ramblings. That's not to say the whole ceremony was over-decorated crap. I thought this part was neat, as was the opening bit with the two drummers. The idea they had was nice, but it came off more like an opening night at an avant garde art gallery rather than the Olympics. All that was missing was the haughty waiter serving champagne and Brie. It was all about the subtext. I listened carefully to the crowd as each country was announced, as most of you probably did as well. I was pleased to hear the nice reception for the U.S. It was heartwarming to hear the rolling applause for Afghanistan and Iraq (and yes, I did get a little choked up when both those countries appeared, especially at the sight of an Afghan woman at the Olympics). So, you say, no subtext then? Au contraire. Allah covered this in his usual succinct and biting way (he's able to convey with twenty words and a well placed photo what I take 5,000 words to say) and I have to concur with most of the observations. I watched the Iran contingent carefully, after hearing the story of the Iranian athlete who wants to withdraw from the Olympics rather than touch a Jew. Sure enough, as the Israeli group passed by the them, the Iranians turned their backs. What an absolute disgrace. After all the pageantry and lessons of the opening spectacle, after all the times it's been drilled into our heads that the Olympics bring people together, those cretins have to behave like that. Sure, it's not the first time the dark side of politics entered the Olympic arena and it won't be the last, but it still makes me spitting mad. On the other side of the spectrum, you have this photo of the Iraqi athletes and American athletes together. Now that, my friends, is heartwarming. That photo is one of those magical moments that I used to watch the Olympics for. Turning back to Allah's post for a minute, he has transcribed this exchange between Katie Couric and Bob Costas:
[Saudi team enters] Couric: I love when the athletes wear their traditional clothing. This is not traditional, this is worn still in Saudi Arabia. Costas: Since the wakeup call of 9/11, Americans have become more aware of aspects of Saudi society beyond the oil and their nominal status as a U.S. ally. Those aspects include widespread religious extremism and an antipathy towards women's rights, and here in Athens, there are 21 members of the Saudi delegation. None are women. Couric: [Silence. For nine seconds.]
Of course there was silence. Couric has nothing of value to add to a statement like the one Costas made. She suddenly found herself in a situation where a big smile and perky laugh wasn't appropriate to see her through. Don't even get me started on the U.S. basketball team. Though Alan Iverson did manage to smile once, they sauntered around looking like a bunch of kids who escaped from the Group Home for Attitude Problems. While the media is crowing about the wonderful start the Olympics got off to - because everyone knows that frilly costumes and prancing ponies signifies that everything is A-OK - I've already got a bad taste in my mouth because this anti-Semite and his back-turning brethren have already tainted the proceedings. Let the games begin. [if anyone finds a photo of the lady with the glowing stomach, please let me know]

August 13, 2004

The French Chef

In honor of Julia Child, I'll be attempting this chocolate mousse tonight. "The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook" --Julia Child. Of course, when I think of Julia, I think of this: juliasnl.jpg


A few weeks ago, I (along with many other bloggers) posted about Mark O'Brien and his search for his son's killer. I just received the terrible news that Mark died in a car accident on Wednesday. I had quite a few email exchanges with Mark. He was a smart, funny, warm and loving person. Barbara, Joan and all of Mark's family, I am so sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you, especially as you carry on Mark's search for Brian's murderer. [Read: Smiling Through the Tears. Have tissues handy. Story on car accident here.]

The Smell From the Turnpike

So, let me get this straight. The governor of a state announces that not only did he have an adulterous affair (and it matters not whether it was a gay or straight affair) with an employee of his office - an employee who was hired in a homeland security spot for 110k a year and who was not qualified for the job - and is facing other allegations ranging from corruption to mob ties and his major fundraiser is involved in some shady dealings, and this guy is allowed to announce his resignation but say it will not take place until November 15th, just long enough to ensure that a Democrat keep the office. Wow, that stench is rotten. And it's not the Jersey swamps that stink this time.

All I Want For Christmas - A John Kerry Adventure

[The following is my entry in the First Annual John Kerry Fiction contest. I wrote it at 4am. Read it as such.]

The motion of the boat had begun to make young John Kerry sick. If he were back home, his mom would rub his tummy and give him an aspirin to calm his nerves. But this wasn't home. This was Nam. Or somewhere near Nam.

They were cruising the MeKong. While his boat mates were busy getting stoned and listening to Jefferson Airplane, John was busy writing letters home. Oh god, how he wanted to be home. He signed off his letter to his girlfriend with a flourished signature - Sensitively yours, Johnny - then cursed aloud when he realized he had run out of stamps. One of his boat mates heard his four-letter utterance.

"What's the matter, Johnny? Can't find something to rhyme with roses are red?"
The other guys laughed, like they always did when John was the butt of the joke.
"Ha. Ha. Very funny. I ran out of stamps."
The captain of the boat shot a furtive glance to one of the other guys, a lanky redhead whose eyes often matched the color of his hair. John didn't see the look, but Red did. And he got the message.
"Here ya go, Johnny. I've got a stamp for you." Red reached into his pocket and pulled out a small baggie that appeared to be filled with stamps. Red pulled out a single stamp and handed it to John.
"Mickey Mouse? I didn't know they put Mickey on a stamp!" John grinned bemusedly, a girly, naive grin that often made the girls back home swoon. The Captain and Red exchanged another glance and each suppressed a giggle. They watched as John licked the back of Mickey Mouse and carefully attached the stamp to the corner of the envelope. He let out a contended sigh, knowing that eventually his girl would get the letter and know that he was safe.

John leaned back on a pile of dirty clothes and closed his eyes. The night wind rustled his hair and his hand reflexively went up to pat down the strays. As his fingers went through his hair, he felt a strange sensation. It was as if his hair had this depth, this texture, he never knew before. The nerve endings on his fingers had become ultra sensitive and he explored his hair as if it were the deep jungle of Viet Nam.

He then noticed other strange sensations. There was a metallic taste in his mouth and his tongue seemed to be vibrating. His arms and legs tingled with something not unlike ecstacy. He was at first unnerved by this, but then relaxed and enjoyed it as Grace Slick's voice flowed out of the small radio's speakers and into his ears. It ran through his veins and his blood. Grace Slick was inside him, singing! "Yes, I want somebody to love!"

"John?" Red was looking at him, and John swore there was a twinkle in Red's eye. "You ok, John?"
"Man, I never felt better. I feel....groovy!"
Red laughed and the sound of the laughter echoed in John's brains, sounding his own private laugh track to this crazy night.

As John looked up at Red, he notices small, white spots swirling in the air around him. The more he stared, the bigger and thicker the white spots became.

"Red! It's snowing! It's snowing!" John laughed giddily and stood up to try and catch the snowflakes in his mouth. As he danced around with his mouth open and tongue hanging out, his boat mates gathered around to watch.

"It's snowing!" He yelled again. "It must be Christmas!"

Red encouraged John's trippy fantasy. "Yea, it's Christmas, Johnny. Tell Santa what you want!"

"Oh, I want a pony! I want a pony! And I'm going to name him Bongo!" John, for the first time in his life, felt sheer joy and he began to cry as he became overwhelmed by happiness. As he spun around in his child like dance, he caught a glimpse of something off the side of the boat. "Is that an island? Is that Santa's magical island?" His thoughts became wild and disjointed.

Again, Red prodded John. "Yea, Santa's over there and he's got your pony, John."

John squealed with delight. "I'm gonna get a pony for Christmas!" Without hesitation, he stepped off the side of the boat into the water.

"Ohh...it's wet here. Why is it wet?" His boat mates said not a word and John could still hear Grace Slick in the distance.

And if you go chasing rabbits, And you know you're going to fall..

And it all made sense to John. Treading water, he yelled to his boat mates, "It's my tears! My tears of joy made a river so I can swim to Santa and my pony!" And he began to doggy paddle furiously towards the island.

When he reached shore, he was soaked and out of breath. He wanted to sit down and rest, but the thought of Bongo made him push on. John swatted huge branches out of his way as he followed what he thought was a nearly hidden path. Eventually, he came to a clearing. In the middle of the clearing was a small, square hut. Santa's house!

"Bongo! I'm coming! I'm almost there!" Exhausted, John fell to the ground. But he did not give up. He began to crawl on his belly, a snake like crawl that might have looked stealthy and dangerous if someone else were doing it. But this was a wild-eyed, soaking wet kid who was yelling out BONGO! every three seconds and the island natives who had been watching him could do nothing but break out in laughter.

Finally, one of the natives, a short, heavy set woman in a straw hat, walked over to him and grabbed his arm.

"Get up. Get up like man. Walk."

Aware of the villagers for the first time, John looked around in wonder. All these short, brown people! And all wearing funny clothes and hats.

"Santa's elves," he whispered with wonder. He stood up, brushed himself off and hugged the little woman by his side. "Where's Bongo?" he asked. "Where's my pony?" The woman looked towards the other villagers and shrugged. They all shrugged in response. No one knew what this American whack job was talking about.

A village man, much taller than the others and much whiter, stepped out from the hut then. He sauntered over towards John and whispered to the woman holding John's arm "Bad trip." The woman nodded knowingly and pushed John towards the tall, white man.

"Santa is gonna give me a pony for Christmas. Where is he? Where's Santa? Where's Bongo?" John was whining a bit and this irritated the man.

"Yea, you'll get your pony. In a few minutes. First things first." Then the man began to pat John down, feeling his shirt, his pants, his boots. He even patted him on the ass. John giggled. The man turned towards the villagers. "He's ok." The villagers went back to doing whatever they were doing before this strange American crawled into their lives.

"Follow me." The man spoke with authority. John followed.

They entered the hut and the man pointed John towards a table laden with food. John assumed it must be Santa's Christmas feast. He sat down and waited for his host to summon Santa and Bongo for him. As he waited, he played with his food, feeling the fine textures of the exotic vegetables, examining them as if they were archeological artifacts.

The villagers entered the hut then, and it became obvious to John that these were not ordinary Santa's helpers, but his closest confidantes and helpmates. They whispered to the tall man as they cleared dirty plates off the table and replaced them with platters of desserts. John began to wonder if the tall man was not Santa himself, perhaps down a few pounds after all that world traveling. Finally, John became impatient.

"Bongo?" He looked expectantly at the man, whose face - in John's mind - was contorting at a rapid speed in time to the music that played in the hut.
The man became angry.
"What is it with this Bongo shit? I thought the code word was calliope? You keep saying Bongo!"
John stared blankly. "Bongo. Hehe. Bongo is a funny word. But it's a good name for a pony, right, Santa?"
"Santa? What the hell? This guy is crazy!" He yelled to the short, heavy woman. "Get him out of here, now! I don't need this shit. My god, you try get one fucking covert operation going and they screw it up by sending me a hippie. Just once, I'd like things to go right."
The woman came to the table and grasped John's elbows to lift him up. She was surprisingly strong. And John was surprisingly slack.
"Hey, American psycho. Up! The blue bus is calling you!"
"Ohh...the blue bus is calling us. We better get on."
"No we. You. Move." The lady kicked the chair and John ended up on the floor. He began to cry.
"Santa, you are mean! You promised me a pony. I want Bongo!" He banged his fists on the floor and kicked his legs up and down. The tall, white man whispered something to the short woman and she scurried off into an adjacent room.
"Hang on, hippie. Santa won't let you go back empty handed."
The tall man was amused with himself. He very rarely made light of anything, but this was too good to pass up. John, oblivious to the man's sarcastic tone, stood up and embraced the man awkwardly. "I love you, Santa."
"Yea. A word of advice, kid. Don't eat the yellow acid."
"Ok, will do, Santa."

Soon, the woman came out of the other room. John was distressed to see she was not accompanied by a pony. In her hand was a hat.
"Here. Take this. It belong to my boss. He say have it. Now get lost, hippie."
John took the hat and ran his hands over the thick material. He wondered why the lady was giving him a hat. And then his mind cleared just a bit and he figured it all out.

"BONGO!" He let out a wail of distress that stopped the jungle animals in their tracks. "BONGO! What have they done to you, Bongo?" Great, heaving sobs came from somewhere deep inside John, from a place he didn't even know existed. The sadness and despair he felt were unlike anything he experienced before. The woman was shoving him out the door as he cried and moaned and stroked the hat.

"Oh, tears, carry me away again. I came here on tears of happiness and I leave on tears of sadness. How poetic!" With this, he walked into the water, the hat held aloft so it wouldn't get wet.

His boat was still right where he left it. Red was standing at the helm of the boat, eyeing John with pity. He threw him a life raft and dragged the sorry, exhausted soldier on board.

Red eyed him suspiciously. "Dude, what's with the hat?"
"It's not a hat, it's my pony."
Red chuckled. "You’ll be coming down soon, my man."
"Coming down from what?"
"Ah, never mind."

John fell asleep on the same pile of laundry he started this crazy trip on. Red silently pulled the hat out of John's hand and examined it.

"My friend went to Cambodia and all he got was this lousy hat." He snickered to himself and put the hat back in John's hands.

[Notice: comments from people with no sense of humor or an overblown sense of righteous indignation will be deleted]

August 12, 2004

Ode to My Neighbors

I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors with their beeping horns and constant shouting and loud girlfriends with screechy Fran Drescher accents. I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors with their basketball banging against the garage at all hours and the car idling in the driveway, blowing suffocating fumes into my window. I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors with their booming voices that echo in my office and the horn, again with the horn, he heard you already. I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors I hate my neighbors with their friends with cars that are missing mufflers and fenders but have $3,000 sub woofers and, my god, he's blasting Loverboy. I hate my neighbors.

NJ Governor Resigning Resigns

In about ten minutes, New Jersey Governor James McGreevey will announce his resignation. This, I'm not surprised about. He's courted controversy for a long time. He's faced accusations of corruption and mob ties. But the teaser I heard on the radio said he will be stepping down because he's gay, which seems rather odd to me. I guess we'll know in a few minutes. Update: Fox has a bit more, but nothing new yet. I know this is of little interest to most of you. Feel free to move on. Update 2: Ok, according to this story, there is going to be a lawsuit filed against McGreevey for sexual harrassment of one of his advisors. Which means he's not stepping down because he's gay, he's stepping down because he is in deep doo-doo, as my mother would say. Update: About his advisor:
Golan Cipel, a former McGreevey aide, was hired as his homeland security advisor following the Sept. 11th attacks -- but resigned under suspicious circumstances months later. McGreevey relied on his anti-terrorism credentials to justify hiring Cipel, a 33-year-old Israeli national, as a highly paid adviser. Cipel, an Israeli citizen, was hired by McGreevey for the $110,000-a-year security post in the governor's office, even though he was ineligible for a federal security clearance. Cipel's appointment as personal homeland security adviser to the governor created a firestorm of criticism, with Republicans a
Geez, I beat CNN by more than half an hour. And no, I didn't see this coming. I heard many rumors about him, but none that he is gay. Update the last:
N.J. governor James McGreevey says he resigning as governor of New Jersey, that he is "a gay American" at a press conference in Trenton and that he had engaged in "an affair with an adult male man." "Given the circumstances surrounding the affair and its likely impact on my family and my ability to govern, I have decided the right course of action is to resign," McGreevey said. "To facilitate a responsible transition, my resignation will be effective on Nov. 15 of this year." Gov. McGreevey will resign as early in mid-November. The mid-November timing would allow the Democrats to pick another candidate to run in 2005 primary elections
Word is Nov. 15th. One more update: It's Karl Rove's fault! [some parts edited for clarity after posting]

olympic pride (Updated)

I haven't paid much attention to the Olympics since they started letting professional athletes particpate. The competitions lost their magic for me. iraqiathletes.jpg However, I'll be tuning in to the opening ceremonies tomorrow night to watch history in the making. Iraqi athletes will carry their country's flag as they enter the Olympics for the first time in 14 years.
"If I'm walking in the Opening Ceremony, that's enough for me," said swimmer Mohammed Abbas, one of seven Iraqis competing via a special invitation from the International Olympic Committee. Most athletes qualify for the Olympics by meeting standards measured in seconds or meters. These athletes qualified because they are alive.
This is a wonderful testament to freedom and democracy.
And for nearly two decades, until the Saddam Hussein regime toppled in spring of 2003, the Iraq Olympic Committee was run as the personal fiefdom of his older son — the psychopath Uday — who tortured and imprisoned underperforming athletes, especially soccer players. He was just as punishing to athletes who performed to their capacity but still lost, thereby denying him the reflected glory. An exhibit in a Baghdad stadium last month showed some of the dreadful tools that Uday employed against his cowering athletes: An iron-maiden-like casket, with spikes on the inside, into which he forced those who displeased him, and chain whips with steel barbs the size of tennis balls attached to the end.
I'm incredibly happy for the Olympic athletes of Iraq and their proud families. Just a short time ago, this would have been impossible. Now, they are free to compete and free from fear. I can't wait to see the athletes holding the flag of Iraq high tomorrow night. Update: The Iraq soccer team defeated Portugal today, 4-2, in a preliminary match. Go Iraq!

Please Hold

Busy posting on the goings on in Najaf over at Command Post. Working hard so you can have all your news in one place. In other random, off-topic musings, I hate Nickelback with an absurd passion.


* Val presents his second annual Blog Cuba today, which is a series of posts from bloggers about, yes, Cuba. There's some good reading there and I owe Val an apology for not being able to get my post finished in time. Val swore that if I didn't get him a post in time, he would cast some evil spell on Derek Jeter. So if Jeter should get injured today, you know who to blame. No, not me. Val. * Kathy at Cake Eater Chronicles announces that James's Jaywalkers have reached (and exceeded) their donation goal of $3,000. Thanks to all my readers who went over and donated yesterday. * Kevin has been working on making a site for the RNC bloggers. I've added a page to my own site here, which has the RNC bloggers blogroll. I'll be adding links to any of my convention related posts there, as well as any other RNC related info. I think I'm more excited about meeting all those other bloggers than I am about the convention itself. * Gratuitous link to an excellent blog. * On a personal note, I'm going to see a highly anticipated (by me) movie tonight. No, it's not Alien v. Predator. I'll let you figure it out. And I am not ashamed. Not one bit. * I'd like to take a moment to thank Laurence for a Very Special Package he sent me the other day. In addition to my lovely Don't Mess With Texas coffee mug, he included some other goodies that will be used here at some point in the next day or two. Thanks, Lair.

Another Rant About the Left That Slowly Slides Into Metaphoric Meanderings

[I'm nothing if not predictable] The cognitive dissonance of the left has become profound in the past few days. In addition to all the Swimming to Cambodia stories making the rounds, there is also the story of his weaving tales of health care woe:
The story told by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is compelling: A woman undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer continues working for fear of losing her health insurance, because her husband is unemployed. In television ads, e-mails and speeches starting before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary last January, Kerry has used the plight of Mary Ann and John Knowles, both 57, to criticize the Bush administration's health care policies. But an account from John Knowles in the New Hampshire Sunday News contains more details. He said Mary Ann could have taken disability leave without losing her health insurance, but needed to keep earning her full salary. "Her coverage is very good," he said. "It's not something that is a problem with her employer.
If the shoe was on the other (Bush's) foot, the left would have been all over him, calling him a liar, accusing of him of using the plight of others for his own good and holding him up as untrustworthy. Crickets. Imagine the Cambodia issue on Bush. The left attack machine would be in full-frontal assault mode. Liar. Fibber. Crazy. Dishonorable. Unfit for the presidency. That's just the beginning of what they would be hurling at Bush. Defense. That's all I see on the left is one defense after another of Kerry's "searing memory" gone haywire. And if it's not defense, it's justification. It's as if they can't comprehend - or don't want to comprehend - the information given them so they either gloss it over, ignore it, or find some way to shoot spitballs at the people bringing the story to the front. Found over at VodkaPundit today: an excerpt from a story that appeared in the American Thinker in May. Here's just a small part:
It got to a point where Wright told his divisional commander he no longer wanted Kerry in his boat group, so he was re-assigned to another one. “I had an idea of his actions but didn’t have to be responsible for him.” Then Wright and like-minded boat officers took matters into their own hands. “When he got his third Purple Heart, three of us told him to leave. We knew how the system worked and we didn’t want him in Coastal Division 11. Kerry didn’t manipulate the system, we did.”
To which Stephen replies: bq. Let me get this straight. Kerry used his authority recklessly, and it cost him his job. Tell me again what his beef is with George W. Bush? Not sure, but I can certainly tell you what the left's new beef with Bush is. Ready? He's a dirty rugby player (yes, this is four days old, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading). In the mind of Bob Harris (who posted this story over at Tom Tomorrow's place), Bush's elbow to an opponent is fair game as long as we are "revisiting the 60's." Apparently, you can tell a lot about a person from one photo taken from a game he played in 1968. Even though we have no idea what went on before that play, the photo is proof positive that Bush is an arrogant cheater who is not fit to be president. And we (Republicans/Bush voters) owe it to ourselves to really think hard about this when we vote for Bush because, after all, it's the moral equivalent of Kerry's actions in the same era. Right. This is the way Harris introduces the incriminating evidence: bq. As long as we're re-examining the 1960s, looking for signs of character, trying to decide if a man who volunteered for combat and was decorated five times was more or less courageous than a guy who didn't even show up for his own medical exam... here's George W. Bush during his college days, hitting a fellow sportsman in the face. He writes the rest of his post with a giddiness that belies the unimportance of this clue to the inner workings of George W. Bush. One would think that Harris h himself has uncovered a smoking gun in Bush's closet. So here we have a guy - Kerry - who, according to sources that were present with him - lied about his service in Vietnam. And now we see that a story that was seared in his memory is not the truth. This is a story he told to Congress. But, hey, let's compare that to a punch thrown in a rugby match. Granted, it looks like it was an illegal move. But I'll be damned if I was so desperate to take the heat off of my candidate that I would drag this photo out and proclaim it to be evidence of some great character flaw that makes him worse than his opponent. Alas, it's the M.O. of the left these days. You did it first. Your guy did something worse than ours. Yea, I know you are but what am I. They don't want to address the issues, they want to obfuscate them. Indeed, before the day is out, there will be at least one comment here saying something along the lines of "Bush lied, people died. Let's talk about that." And the issue here -t hat John Kerry is dishonest in some major areas - will get passed over as the comments will once again end up in a fight about WMDs. I think the main thing to remember here is that for most of the Anybody But Bush voters -who make up a good deal of the left - Kerry is not their candidate of choice. No one is. So in order to campaign for what they want to see happen in November they must spend their time throwing stones at Bush rather than supporting Kerry. Most of the people I talk to from the left don't even like Kerry. He's just not Bush and that's good enough for them. But that makes for some dishonest campaigning, as it all becomes so much rhetoric. Of course they won't address the issues. They can't. If this were a football came they would be running a hell of an offense. Unfortunately, their defense is non-existent. And they don't even have cheerleaders to take your mind off the ugly game on the field. What they have is a sold-out crowd of fair-weather fans, most of which bet the over-under and are just hoping for the right score without caring who wins. (Damn, maybe I should have went with a rugby metaphor)

August 11, 2004

Geeking Out (Updated)

My birthday present arrived. I am the happiest person alive right now. Yes, that is sad in its own way. But I don't care. Update: The only thing missing was a proper switch to be able to hook it up to a modern television set. I asked my Fark compatriots for some help and they came through. Just as I was set to run off to Radio Shack, a wonderful reader emailed to say he had an original 1702 monitor available. Sold! Now I'll have the real deal. I am just itching to play Castle Wolfenstein. And Ghost and Goblins. And Forbidden Forest. And....you may never hear from me again. Can't wait to see how my kids react to ancient technology. You have to poke to change the colors, DJ! Heh.

Self Indulgence

Adding to my ugly mood (what, you didn't notice I was in an ugly mood? It's been only, oh, six months or so) is the fact that my intended viewing of the spectacular meteor showers I was promised will be cancelled due to some crappy weather that may or may not include flash flooding, hail the size of brains, ten trillion volt lighting and winds that could knock down your basketball hoop (too late, the wind took care of that yesterday. Sorry about your car, neighbors!) I try not to write when the mood is really dark. Besides, it's hard to concentrate when the girl who cleans the offices is wandering around the hallway singing "Close to You" for hours on end. Even if her voice was good, it wouldn't be tolerable. If only I had some duct tape. Even if I did attempt to write something, it would descend into a held-back rant about people who have the balls to get pissed at me for not blogging their links. If I had to blog all the links I get in a day, there would be no original content here. None. It would be all links, all the time. Hello? I'm a blogger. That means I have an undying need to have attention drawn to me. I try my best to dole out a good portion of links to other bloggers, but I just can't get to all of you. I need me time! I'm trying to be nice about this here, but I do want to single out a few select people who send emails or leave commetns that go something like this: You know that post you wrote? I wrote a more interesting, better worded, funnier, smarter post on the same subject! Link me! Or: Hah, that Photoshop you linked is teh funny. But mine teh funnier. Come look! Uh..no, you jackass. Obviously, you did not read How To Win Links and Influence Bloggers. I descended, didn't I? Oh well. Ok, you know what set me off? This email: bq. I bet you made up that whole stupid, inane, poorly written story about Ben Franklin and the seance. Just like your president, you are a liar. And not a good one. No, wait. That didn't set me off. Because it was STUPID. Please, if you are going to send me hate mail, at least make me feel like you worked at it. There is nothing more depressing than lame hate mail. If you're going to hate me, throw yourself into it! You know what's really sad? The Library of Congress emailed today to tell me that they will archive A Small Victory as part of their Election 2004 internet archive collection. Years from now some college kid will be doing a paper on the 2004 election and he will come across this in his research. And he will determine that this election was all about corn, ketchup, tin foil hats and some guy's search for Colonel Kurtz. Hey, that was a link to another blogger! Do I get a cookie now?

Holiday in Cambodia

hic.jpg It's time to taste what you most fear Right Left Guard will not help you here Brace yourself, my dear It's a holiday in Cambodia It's tough kid, but it's life It's a holiday in Cambodia Don't forget to pack a wife Update: Further holiday reading: Island of Misfit Toys. See, also: All I Want For Christmas: A John Kerry Adventure [apologies to Jello, who would probably sue me for this] * For the punk-rock challenged, here. And here.

A Favor

Kathleen Nelson of Cake Eater Chronicles writes about her adorable nephew James, who has Type I Diabetes. bq. James lives the normal life of a five-year-old boy. He goes to school, he plays, he gets in trouble (he's still as stubborn as a rock), he does all of the things that a five-year-old should do---but with limitations. Imagine Halloween and being allowed to go trick or treating, but having to hand over your candy when you're done because you can't eat any of it. Sure he gets a toy out of the bargain, but it does make Halloween a wee bit different, doesn't it? Imagine birthday parties where you couldn't have any cake. Or having to ignore the ice cream man when he drives by. His parents may have picked up his pancreas' slack and while this allows for normality, it also has its drawbacks. James' lifespan has automatically, just by using insulin, been cut back by about fifteen years. There's a risk of blindness and amputation if he doesn't take care of himself. And then there's the added fun of shots and finger pricks and trips to the doctor. Read the whole thing. And then, if you can, donate to the team who will be taking the Walk to Cure Diabetes in James's names. The walk is just three days away and they are still $970 short of their goal ($3,000 was the goal, 85% of which goes directly towards finding a cure). In lieu of my usual payday lunch out with the girls today I'll be donating to James's Jaywalkers. Will you join me? Please?

Four Color Politics

What do you get when you cross a supersize font Drudge headline and a Washington Times article? You get a five-grains-of-salt warning (that's one automatic grain for Drudge, one automatic grain for WT and three extra grains for the big font). Imagine a comic book scenario for a minute. You have two heroes (that would be Bush and Kerry, your mileage may vary) and one arch-enemy (that would be AQ). The arch-enemy can only kill one of those heroes, leaving the other one to reign supreme over the land that the enemy eventually wants to control. Or destroy. This could be at ten story arc, at the very least. You've got all kinds of sub-plots that will twist and turn the story, not to mention so many colorful secondary characters to flesh the story out. One of the twists would be the climax itself; does the enemy even choose one of the heroes to assassinate or does he throw a big, political wrench into the deal by assassinating a peripheral figure? Or, perhaps, is this all subertfuge by one of the heroes? Maybe there is no nemesis after all. Maybe the nemesis is just a black-op figment made up by said hero in order to garner votes. Maybe, just maybe, one of the heroes - the one who currently holds office - is assasinated by someone else before the arch-enemy can pull their trigger. All those plans put to waste by indecision. Nestled inside this series is a set of shorter stories, including Very Special issues such as Holiday in Cambodia and Rin Tin Tin. Ultimately, it comes down to the ending (which won't be so much as an ending as the beginning to Part II). Which hero of the story will be left standing and why? Or will the enemy be defeated before death makes its appearance? Will there be an October Suprise in the guise of a hail of bullets or crazed jihadist wearing the latest in suicide belt fashion? Or will that surprise come in the form of suprise appearance by a caped superhero, who swoops down to thwart the assasination attempt just in time? And will the masses rally around that person or will they claim he was just another player in a black-op theater production? This comic has it all. War, terrorism, political paranoia, the lunatic fringe and a social civil war. Haven't come up with a working title yet, but I already know how I want it to end. An image of the hero standing on top of the world, his foot resting on the chest of the dead enemy. And my hero says: Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.

August 10, 2004

living dead girl

Upcoming zombie movies:

That's enough to keep me shouting BRAAIIIINS for a long time.*

*best shouted in the middle of the night in front of your eleven year old son's room after he spent the day telling you that there is not a zombie movie made that could ever scare him. be prepared to change sheets

More upcoming goodies here.

off on a rant

Does size matter to your teen? Maybe the real question is, should it? I saw the ad for the above ruler at the Planned Parenthood store when those shirts came out. I questioned the topic of the rulers, but let it go for a while. I suppose you see things like this differently when you actually have a teenage daughter. Back before I had kids, I was one of those naive people who would say things like "I'm going to let my kids make their own decisions when it comes to sex. Yea, I'm going to be a cool parent." And then I had a kid and that idea went to hell. To make matters worse, I had a daughter. Suddenly, the idea of being casual about my kids having sex seemed ludicrous. My daughter is 14. She's taken the requisite sex ed classes already. She knows the ins and outs (no pun intended) of sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases and appropriate and inappropriate touching. She knows about reproductive health, pregnancy, and condoms. I'm ok with all of that. Forewarned is forearmed. We talk about this subject honestly and I know how Nat feels about boys and relationships. Honestly, my daughter is too self-centered to be bothered with a steady boyfriend. And she's too proprietary over her personal space to be into even minor kissing. She tells me this and I believe her, because we've established a relationship based on trust. But how hard is it for even the most chaste girl to remain so in this society? Even teenage girls who aren't interested in sex are still interested in being sexy. The shorts are short, the skirts are shorter and the shirts barely come below the breasts. I cringe as I watch a parade of girls walking through the mall, all showing more skin than clothing. Where do these girls get the message that they must dress this way in order to impress? Who told them that wearing suggestive messages on their shirts and folding down their sweats so their ass cracks show is a proper way to carry yourself? It would be easy to blame the media here, but someone is buying these girls their clothes. Someone is letting them walk out of the house dressed that way. For the life of me, I can't fathom why any parent would let their teenage daughter wear a shirt that says "My boyfriend's out of town." We're talking about teenage girls here, mostly in the 12-16 range. Then again, what can you expect when even our Olympic athletes do the skank routine (might be NSFW)? [they will also be appearing in Playboy] I decided to take a look at teenwire.com (the teen appendage of Planned Parenthood) to see if I could get an idea of what the average teenager is up to in regards to sexuality. Here, go look at this advice page. I'll wait. Are you as appalled as I am? I hope so. Or am I just a prude or hopelessly naive when it comes to teens and sex? There are words on that page I never even heard of until I was in my 20's. Kids are doing things I haven't attempted myself. Anal sex? They are giving advice on anal sex to teenagers? I don't buy into the "oh, they're going to do it anyhow, so let's just educate them properly about it" attitude. Maybe they are going to do it (it obviously including every kind of sex imaginable) but my daughter is not. Sure, sex can be wonderful and pleasurable and beautiful. But not when you're 14 and you don't fully understand the emotional consequences of giving it up at such an early age. How many 14 year old girls are going to remain with the guy they are with now? Does anyone tell these girls that 10 years from now they are going to most likely regret all of their sexual escapades? 14 year old girls go through guys faster than Jennifer Lopez. Are we supposed to believe that it is healthy for these girls to go down on every guy they date? I'm sorry, but a girl at this age is not capable of having a deep, meaningful, mutually respectful, healthy relationship that could withstand the emotions that come with intimately sharing your body with someone. Somewhere between Nat's birth and puberty, I became a proponent of abstinence. Not condoms, not any other kind of birth control, not even oral sex as a replacement for intercourse. Complete abstinence. Oh, I'm sure I'm being unrealistic. But as a parent, it is my job to keep my daughter safe. Not only physically safe, but emotionally safe as well. It's a huge task and I know there will be hurts that I cannot prevent nor heal. But why open the door for things that can only end badly? I know her heart will be broken several times, it's pretty much inevitable. If I can prevent the damage that comes from having sex or giving your body to someone before you are emotionally equipped to do so, then I'll do my damndest to complete that part of my job. Looking through all the questions and answers on teenwire.com, I see some thoughtful suggestions and advice. I am more unnerved by the fact that teenagers are questioning how to give a proper blowjob than the fact that there is a site answering that question. Still, I have to wonder about the size matters ruler. I don't get it. I don't know what the message is supposed to be. Right now the only message that matters to me is the one I am giving my daughter: Your body is not a commodity. Respect yourself. Barring that, the other message is: I know a nice convent that's looking for a few good nuns. [This has been the unedited rant of a somewhat worried mother of a soon-to-be high school student.]

August 09, 2004

New Banner

Stacy is a goddess. Update: Got a complaint about the banner? Tough shit. This isn't your site and I don't design mine by committee. Read into the picture all you want. Analyze it. Subject it to your riducle and complaints. It ain't gonna change.

The Bush Cabal Strikes Again

Ex-Joint Chiefs chairman suffers stroke - Bush blamed. I'm not even surprised. These people are out of their minds. Seriously.

The Battle of the Movie Quotes (Coen Bros. Edition)

In the post below, Hubris suggests a battle of quotes between Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona and Fargo. ( see update) I say Lebowski wins this hands down, but have at it. May the best movie win. Haven't figured out yet how we'll determine the winner, but I'm sure it will work itself out. Update: Don't forget to mention which movie your quote comes from for the Coen Bros. impaired among us. And as of now, any Coen Bros. film is eligible.

This is not Nam. This is bowling.

This is the convention that I should be covering: bq. ...[T]he Lebowski Fest, which in June attracted 4,000 followers in Louisville, Ky., and on Friday arrives in New York City. For two days, Lebowski fans (referred to as Achievers) will dress up as their favorite character (or prop, like a severed toe), dig some far-out rock bands at the Knitting Factory, bowl in far-out Queens, imbibe White Russians (and maybe less licit substances) and spend a lot of time shouting lines at one another like:
"This aggression will not stand, man." I'm not the type to participate by, say, dressing up as a toe, but it would be interesting to observe. I'd say it would be a lot easier on my nerves to deal with marmots and bowling than protesters and the LIRR. And I'm sure al Qaeda has no plans to disrupt the Lebowski convention. Unless they have a thing against nihilists, that is. In fact, I could probably cover the Lebowski convention, write it up and make it appear as if I had been at theRNC. Vietnam references, a rich Republican, some mild class warfare...it could work. It's even got the protest angle: bq. Nowadays, the real Dude is back in the saddle. He's registering Lebowski fest attendees to vote, and vowed to deliver a gift basket to the Republican National Convention containing (according to his news release) "symbolic gifts including an oversize pair of glasses to help the Republicans see what's going on in our country, a copy of the Constitution to remind them of our rights as free citizens and a bowling ball so they will have something to do for the next four years." I can dismiss that easily. In my eyes, the "real Dude" doesn't even exist, because when Jeff Bridges walked into that role, be became the Dude. Forever. I know Lebowski is one of those love/hate things. I know more people who hate it than love it and those haters often question why I would watch this movie ten, twenty, even thirty times without getting tired of it. Some think I have an unhealthy fascination with Walter. But I don't. It's the Dude. I admire his position on everything and I think it's a road I should think about taking more often: The Dude abides. [Or maybe it is Walter: The Dude: And, you know, he's got emotional problems, man. Walter Sobchak: You mean... beyond pacifism?]

Announcing: Command Post Wiki

It's live and it's waiting for you to participate. bq. This wiki is an open-source extension of our news pages, and should serve as an encyclopedic resource related to the topics we cover there: the war in Iraq, the global war on terrorism, the 2004 presidential election and global recon (our page for international hotspots).
This wiki is for you, the Command Post reader, not just our blogger contributors. Anyone may add to and edit this resource. So, come Wiki with us.


I've had it with people derailing my posts by inserting their own agendas into my comments. No more free rides. Your comments will be deleted. Get your own blog and spout your bullshit there. This place is not your soapbox. Either stay on topic or stay away. (added: this goes for ALL of you. I don't care what side of politics/baseball/whatever the topic is that you are on). Another Update: Re the Wired article (previous rant edited out). I should have mentioned that it was about RedState.org, which deserves all the mentions it gets and I should not let the obvious bias of a reporter or the "money" quote by Kos stand in the way of that. Anyhow, Tacitus does a nice job of it here.

SBHFS (Updated)

I woke up mad at the world today, due partly to a simmering disgust towards the behavior of so many people in this country, and due partly to the fact that the climate of our country invades my dreams to the point where I can't get away from it. Sure, I can blame myself for readily engaging in the war against Bush by reading and digesting every single article, interview, bulletin board ranting and blog post available on the subject. But I've given up on the idea of living my life in ignorant bliss by turning off the tv and the computer. I'd rather know my enemy than be unaware of it. James Lileks hit the nail on the head today when he defined his own malaise as SBHFS: Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome. I'm 41 years old. 16 days away from 42. I've been following politics since I took an unhealthy interest in the Vietnam war at the ripe old age of seven. I don't remember a time when our nation sagged under the weight of such hatred. Perhaps the hatred is more palpable now because there are more venues in which people can make their feelings known. Voices are louder because they are amplified through the internet. But it's not just us regular people - the unwashed masses, so to speak - that are participating in this war of ideals. Our own elected officials are taking part in the War Against Bush. Sure, politics has been filled with snideness, ridicule and finger pointing probably since the first caveman was elected keeper of the flame, but it's reached the point of combustion. We're making a mockery of America. bq. Bush administration officials used Sunday's talk shows to defend last week's heightened security alerts in three cities and to underscore the administration's focus on terror threats. Because the timing of every single thing Bush or his administration does is questioned by everyone from bloggers to appointed officials, he must spend his time defending every move he makes. bq. U.S Leak Harms Al Qaeda Sting: But some observers have said that Islamabad should not have been compromised by political considerations in Washington.

One senator told CNN that U.S. officials should have kept Khan's role quiet. Maybe if Bush wasn't forced to justify every move he (or his administration) makes, this wouldn't have happened. But, no. As it is "our duty" as Americans to question authority, we must force the President and his cabinet to go on tv and tell us why he decided to tell us we are in danger. Of course, were al Qaeda to strike, say, the Prudential building, then those same people would be forced to go on tv and tell us why they didn't tell us we were in danger. Lose, lose. So the pundits on the left use their venues - whether it be the internet, the newspaper or a wooden box on a street corner - to dispense their hatred towards their president. They promote change for America. Vote Kerry, they cry, and everything will be better. Better for whom? See, I don't hate Kerry. I don't think he would make as good a president as Bush, but I don't harbor any hatred for the guy. In fact, I almost feel sorry for him. Because if Kerry wins this election, he is in for a rude awakening. Oh, the party will start off grand, but three months into his presidency the same people who are promoting him as just the thing America needs will be protesting him. Most of these Anybody But Bush warriors don't even like Kerry. A cursory glance through sites like Democratic Underground or Indymedia (and even some lefty blogs) will find internal arguments over whether Kerry can really run this country or not. But he's not Bush, which seems to be the greatest thing he has going for him. So if Kerry wins, there will be further split in the political map of America. The left will split into two separate and very disparate portions. The ABBs will morph into the ABKs and the moderate Democrats will be left scratching their heads. They voted for this guy, but he doesn't really represent them. They succeed in getting Bush out of the White House, but in the end they're still not happy. Then what? Form another party? Seek out another candidate to push towards a 2008 run? Sadly, it's the ABBs who are the most vocal crowd in this whole carnival. They are most likely to be the ones crying that President Kerry sucks. One can only hope that these people never get their way. Because what they want in a candidate, and in this country, is something that would drive us to the brink of disaster. Free health care for everyone. Free college. Completely open borders, with benefits for all the non- citizens that come through. Free day care. Free food. Free Mumia. Their key word, obviously, is free. They want the world handed to them but they want to do nothing to earn it. Can you imagine this country led by someone who subscribes to those views? You go ahead, I don't want to. Back to the SBHFS (Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome) I've been afflicted with. It's everywhere. It is, like Lileks noticed and I did as well, in our bookstores. It's in the way the anti-Bush books are piled up by the front door. It's in the unapologetic headlines splashed across magazines and newspapers. It's not just you they're sending the message to. It's your kids as well. Planned Parenthood wants your teen to know that Bush is evil. Bruce Springsteen and NOFX are no longer just recording artists your kids listen to. They are telling your children how to vote. They're not just saying, hey get out there and vote and make a difference. No, they've crossed the line between stage and audience. They have grabbed your kid by the collar and said Bush is Evil. Vote Kerry. We look to the media to dispense information to help us make our choices. But what do you do when you're met with journalists who don't even hide their biases? The hatred towards the president is emblematic of a hatred towards country. Am I questioning your patriotism, ABBs? Damn straight I am. If you loved this country you wouldn't stoop to the levels of hatred that you have. Have you seen this? It's A book about assassinating the president. The sitting president. Put that in your "crushing of dissent" pipe and smoke it. No, stuff it. Speaking of assassination, Jeff Jarvis on Bush hatred: bq. ....we don't know where this will lead, but I fear it could lead to assassination. No, Michael Moore will not pull the trigger (he doesn't like guns, remember). But this atmosphere of hatred could inspire and embolden someone to try. The ultimate extension of presidential hatred could be assassination. Oh, don't think that ugly little thought hasn't been running around in my head for months. Embolden. The hatred is sure to do that. And I'm sure that dissenters the world over, all the socialist-loving conservative haters, are looking at America right now with wide-eyed wonder, reveling in the anti-America feel coming from the haters. How soon before one of those comrades in arms decides to make his venomous brethren happy and do America a favor? In a couple of years, I've gone from far left to moderate left to center and now, I must admit, to the right. And each day I go farther and farther to the right, pushed their by the fact that I want to remain as far away from the left as possible. Each time I read Atrios or make a run through DU, I feel like a grade school kid in need of a cootie-shot. And while I'll never complete the transformation wholly and end up on the far right I've certainly removed myself from the center. I don't think even centrists know what they want anymore. They don't hate Bush, but they hate themselves for thinking that maybe they should hate Bush. What's worse, president loathing, country loathing or self loathing? For the life of me, I can't tell the left from the far left anymore. They've embraced Michael Moore to the extent that even Kerry is mimicing his talking points. People who consider themselves fair and balanced Democrats are actually shills for George Soros, one of the masters of the Bush is Hitler movement. I don't hate the Bush haters. I pity them. I can only imagine what's going to happen when this election is over. Either the Bush hatred will get ramped up and it's going to get uglier than it is now, or they will turn in their ABB hats for ABK hats and start over again. Lose, lose. Update: Read this. It's a good companion piece to my thoughts above. Update II: Read Faith.

August 08, 2004

Photo Sunday: Putting Along

I hadn't taken the camera out in a while and I wanted to sing the virtues of the Coolpix 5700 while everyone else is jumping on the D70 bandwagon. We played 18 holes today at the very lovely, if underwhelming, mini golf course at Eishenhower Park. When I think mini golf, I think something like Seven Wonders of the World. This park has no windmills or tunnels or anything that makes mini-golf more than a casual walk in the park. Except beauty. It really is a pleasant course. Rather than tell you what I shot, score-wise, I'll just show you what I shot, picture-wise [click each for supersize]. My tax dollars at work: That sign ate at my nerves the entire time we were playing. How could not one person who works there realize that course is spelled wrong? Especially when the other course had a sign that spelled it right. Random pictures, mostly of my nephew (who obviously takes his golf seriously) because my kids are getting camera shy in their old age. My favorite is the one of David leaping. Given the weird timing (when taking action photos) of the 5700, I was pleased to get that picture. I also like the close up of the waterfall. In my defense, I didn't golf very well because I had the camera hanging around my neck. Though I suppose treating the golf club like a hockey stick didn't help much.

The Doom(3) Song

Everyone is raving about Doom 3. I haven't seen a bad review yet and everyone I know who bought it are now sequestered in houses and probably won't be seen for months. I asked for a copy for my birthday. Fingers crossed. The one thing that I keep hearing from people who have played the game is that it scares them. As in "I have never been frightened by a video game until now. I won't play with the lights off or if I'm home alone." I've heard a lot of that. I remember playing Metal Gear Solid 2 and it gave me a case of the frights when it would chastise me for playing too long. I think it told me to turn the game off and go to bed, or something similar. Something really weird about your game talking to you. Creepy. Anyhow, if anyone has been playing Doom 3, I'd love to hear your take on it. [That's it for me until later this evening, we are going to enjoy the fall-like weather at the links]

Kids Riot in Iraq!

Well, kind of.

Ben Franklin and the Magic 8 Ball

I have a new advertiser over on the right.

The Playmakers, a celebration of classic toys and a tribute to the people who brought them to life. This 312-page book promises to take you on a toy trip of epic proportions, covering nearly 100 years worth of playthings and offering a delightful look back at many childhood favorites.

So I took a trip to the website this morning and immediately got lost in a wave of nostalgia. And we know what happens when I get nostalgic.

There is a poll running on the Playmakers site now: The Greatest Toy Ball Ever Created. Your choices are Magic 8 Ball, Wiffle Ball, Super Ball, Nerf Ball, and Koosh Ball.

I came pretty close to voting for the Nerf ball. How can you not give props to a ball that you could actually play with in the house without breaking mom's favorite vase or play with outside without breaking your sister's nose?

While the other balls are fine specimens, indeed (have you ever tried to see how many times a Super Ball can bounce in one room on one throw?) I had to vote for the Magic 8 Ball. It was, after all, my introduction to all things other-worldly and probably led up to my love of horror movies.

I'm not sure when I got my first Magic 8 Ball. I just know that, unlike its relatives that exist today, my 8 ball was heavy (relatively speaking - I was little). When you held one of those babies in your hand, it felt like you had the weight of the world sitting in your palm. The heaviness gave it an authenticity that the cheap plastic of today can't convey.

We would spend hours huddled in the backyard asking the 8 ball questions that only the Mystical Spirit of the Blue Goo would know.

Will I marry Bobby Sherman?
Does Paul Carey really wet his bed?
Does my mother hide the Christmas presents in the attic?

Of course, you know the pat answers. Outlook not so good. It is decidedly so. Outlook good. Ask again later (which meant ask two seconds later). My reply is no (which meant try again).

Eventually, we gave up on marrying Bobby Sherman, Paul Carey moved to another state and we found the Christmas presents. And, we grew up. Who would ask a silly 8 ball for relationship advice, anyhow?

But we didn't throw our 8 balls away. Unbeknownst to each other at the time, we all kept our 8 balls close at hand. Just in case. Will the Yankees win this game? Will my breasts ever grow?

The 8 ball tide turned at a sleep over at Arleen's house in 7th grade. After all our cache of scary urban legends had been exhausted, talk turned to all things supernatural. We talked about ghosts and vampires and shadows under the bed. This led to a mini-fight, pitting those of us who believed in things that go bump in the night against those who were quite sure that we were out of our minds. Or heathens. Arleen decided to quell the fight by consulting the Magic 8 ball. Which, when you think about it, shouldn't have solved anything, as those who didn't believe in ghosts were not likely to believe a toy. But by then the Magic 8 Ball had become somewhat of a mascot to our little group, and the other girls could not deny its power.

Are there such things as ghosts?
Arleen shook up that 8 ball with the same vigor which she would later in life shake her martinis.
Better not tell you now.

Well, that gave Lori the heebie jeebies. She surmised that if the all powerful 8 ball did not want to tell us, its because....because.....they were already ghosts in the room!

I grabbed the 8 ball from Arleen.
Are there spirits present here?

We held our collective breath as I shook the the 8 ball, the blue goo forming foaming bubbles that obscured the words for a few seconds. And then the bubbles subsided and the answer was revealed:

Yes - definitely.

Lori (who, looking back, had a mother reminiscent of Carrie's), grabbed the 8 ball out of my hands and flung it across the room. Obviously, the thing was possessed because not only did it not break, but there wasn't a scratch or dent on it when Arleen retrieved it from under the bed.

The noise of the 8 ball rolling on the wooden floor, plus the hysterical whimpering of Lori woke up Arleen's older sister Tammy, who stormed into the room demanding to know what we were up to. Lori, crying by this time, announced that we were playing games with the devil. Lori pointed to the Magic 8 ball.

This thing? Tammy laughed. You think you can call out the devil with this stupid toy? Hang on girls, I've got something better for you.

And so we spent the next few hours learning the proper way to read an Ouija board. Well, most of us did. Lori went downstairs and slept on the couch, away from us devil worshipers.

The Ouija board did not hold the same mysteries for me as the 8 ball did. It was too easy to manipulate and Arleen was a horrible speller, so we knew when the the triangle disc pointed us to GOHSTS in the room, Arleen had something to do with it. So Tammy decided to go one better, and showed us how hold a seance.

We called up on the ghost of Ben Franklin. We figured we would start with someone benign.

Lesson: Never call upon the ghost of Ben Franklin when the weather is ripe for a thunderstorm. No sooner did Tammy say (in a deep, spooky voice) Ben Franklin, if you are here, give us a sign, then a bolt of lightning lit up the night sky.

Have you ever heard five 13 year old girls scream in unison? The irony was not lost on us, all of whom knew the story of Ben Franklin and the lightning bolt. It all made perfect sense.

I saw him, I saw him! Grace, who had remained quite until then, was pointing towards the window, where the curtains were now billowing the wind and the tree branches were scraping against the glass. He was there! I saw his glasses! He was smiling and it was evil! Ben Franklin is the devil!

It was chaos for a few moments as we all scrambled to the window, looking for a sign of a bespectacled Satan. He was nowhere to be found.

An argument broke out as to whether or not Ben Franklin actually appeared at our sleep over, or whether Satan appeared disguised as Ben. No one questioned Grace's sighting; she was the smartest among us and would never steer us wrong.

I decided to settle the argument the easy way. I grabbed the Magic 8 ball off the night stand and gave it a shake.

Was Ben Franklin here?
Without a doubt was the answer.

Is Ben Franklin the devil?
Don't count on it.

I have to say, that answer was a bit disappointing. The mere thought of Ben Franklin being an agent of Satan was too delicious to not believe.

Alas, the Magic 8 ball was always right. After all, the presents were in the attic and the answer to Will I Marry Bobby Sherman was always very doubtful.

I'm afraid to ask it about the election.

August 07, 2004

programming note

The Venture Brothers are back. New episode debuts tonight at 11 on the Cartoon Network. That is all. Not a paid announcement. Though, I wouldn't turn the cash down

Open Thread Saturday

Subject: Anything but politics/war. Difficulty: No mentions of Bush or Kerry. Let's see if you can do this.

Fake Blood

Last night, Paul at Wizbang reported on a video apparently showing an American being beheaded. The person on the video said:
"I am from San Francisco, California," the young man in the video said, dressed in a plain beige T-shirt and seated on a chair. "We need to leave this country right now. If we don't, everyone is gonna be killed in this way," he said. "I have been offered for exchange for prisoners here in Iraq," the terrified-looking American said, rocking back and forth in his chair, his hands tied behind his back. "We need to leave this country alone. We need to stop this occupation". The video then showed a hand with a large knife slicing through the neck of a limp body.
Paul smelled something rotten and he was right.
The man from San Francisco, said he videotaped the staged beheading at his friend’s house using fake blood. On the tape, Benjamin Vanderford, 22, sat on a chair in a dark room, his hands behind his back, trembling and rocking back and forth.
Interestingly enough, there is Benjamin Vanderford from San Francisco running for office (District 5 supervisor seat, running as Independent). A little research later and yes, they are the same person. bq. Vanderford, 22, said he began distributing the video on the Internet months ago in hopes of drawing attention to his one-time campaign for city supervisor. When his political aspirations waned, he thought the video would serve as social commentary. So, his political hopes dashed, he decided to engage in some recreational deception instead.
The video was titled "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Slaughters an American." Zarqawi is an Al Qaeda-linked militant whose group, Tawhid and Jihad, has claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks across Iraq, including the beheading of U.S. businessman Nicholas Berg. Vanderford's video also showed images of disfigured and injured people in Iraq. A recording of the Quran, Islam's holy book, played in the background. Sipping soda in his kitchen, a shirtless Vanderford said he spliced images he took from a Hamas Web site showing mutilated bodies. He later edited the 55 second video to downgrade the quality so it would look similar to beheading tapes distributed since the war in Iraq began. Vanderford offered no apologies for his stunt. "That was another experiment that was part of this to see how quickly that system will spread news," Vanderford said.
What a way to get your point across. Benjamin gets my nomination for Idiot of the Day. Maybe even the year. I'm sure the families of those who were really beheaded by terrorists appreciate having to relive their nightmares over again when Benjamin's stunt made the news. And I'm sure the Muslims in his community equally appreciate Benajmin's big lie. James Joyner has more. Update: I'm at a loss in trying to figure out how Ben's stunt would garner sympathy for the anti-war movement. He was only furthering the anger towards the "insurgents" and "militants" in Iraq. Perhaps he really had no goal except to feed his own ego. Update the second: I have to agree with Laurence in the comments that this speaks volumes about the media's willingness to soak this stuff up.

August 06, 2004

Music and Motorin'

I don't think I ever posted this much on a Friday. Alas, this is the last post of the evening as no one reads on a Friday night, anyhow. So, I've been doing a lot of soul searching today. Deep, introspective soul searching. See, I'm trying to figure out why I like Linkin Park so much. They're like Stabbing Westward lite. All the whining and morose complaining, but none of the really good riffs. The rapping is bad - it sounds more like the Backstreet Boys than anything else - and the screaming is over the top. So, why? Why can I not stop listening to it. Who knows. One of the great mysteries of life. Speaking of music, I have a treat for you tonight, courtesy of Ryan Cox. He did the right thing by sending me this song. It's by a band called The Monolators and it's, well, different. It's a sort of remake of The End by the Doors with a snippet of Night Ranger's Sister Christian in the middle. And we all know how I feel about that song. Enjoy. (And I left the Clutch song from last night in the radio. If you didn't listen to it then, listen to it now) Hell, I'll include a Linkin Park song just for the hell of it. Radio in extended entry.

And It's Not an Isolated Incident

I was remiss in not posting a link to something I promised someone I would link to yesterday. I was reminded mostly by this and this to post a link to this*. That second link brought tears to my eyes. bq. One other thing while I was at the cemetery. A fellow member of the Jewish community came up to me after I had done the media interviews and said he hoped I hadnt given out my name - as there are nutters out there! He then went on to ask what has the country come to when you have to hide your Jewishness. I replied by saying not only did I give my name to the media, but I was proud to do so. I am not scared of these people, just very pissed off. Thank you, Bob, for going out there and taking the pictures. This kind of thing needs to be seen. * Site by my dear friend Faith.

Rick James Dead

Rick James is dead. I know I made fun of him a lot, given the whole Chappelle thing, but...damn. We made up a dance to Super Freak. Peformed it at a family function and got grounded immediately. He certainly was a super freak in many ways. But he made some damn good music. Also: I question the timing of this.

The Daily FAD (Updated)

Apparently, it's become de rigueur for me to rip off FAD at least once per day. Keeping with that idea: Random movie I've never seen but pretty much everyone else has: Titanic But I'll add an original bit so he can't sue me: Random movie I've seen that I don't think anyone else has: Interstate 60 Update: Movie am anticipating so much that I wet my pants thinking about it: Mirrormask. Movie I saw that I don't think anyone else should bother seeing: Albino Alligator.

quack, quack (Updated)

You knew I was going to do it. George Bush, speaking at the UNITY conference today. bq."When we find out intelligence that is real, that threatens people, I believe we have an obligation as government to share that with people," Bush told a convention of minority journalists. "Imagine what would happen if we didn't share that information with the people in those buildings and something were to happen, then what would you write? What would you say?"


"The threats we're dealing with are real and therefore we must do everything we can to ferret out the truth and follow leads," the president said. "These recent threats, that are becoming more and more enriched, as you're finding out. There was more than one thread-line, threat-line. People are now seeing there was other reasons why we took the action we took."


"This is a dangerous time," Bush said. "I wish it wasn't this way. I wish I wasn't the war president. Who in the heck wants to be a war president? I don't. But this is what came our way. ..." Iraq Evidence Led to Missile Arrests (but...but...there's no link between Iraq and the war on terrorism!) Al Qaeda Suspect Cased New York Terror Targets Pakistan Arrests More Terror Suspects British Agents Search For Five Terrorists But it's all still oh, so funny to some people. And Oliver, to call this a flip flop: bq. 08.06.04: "Who in heck wants to be a war president?" 02.08.04: "I'm a war president" is dishonest. bq. "I wish it wasn't this way. I wish I wasn't the war president. Who in the heck wants to be a war president? I don't. But this is what came our way. ..." He didn't want to be a war president. It's what came our way. He didn't ask the Taliban to drag us into a war with Afghanistan. It's what came our way. And Bush accepted his role, like any president would. And: you can search for clues and coincidences all you like. Dress a turkey up like a duck and soon enough everyone will be convinced it's quacking. You go on and believe there's no real war on terrorism. Yep, it's all a setup, a lie, a charade. Are there lollipops in your fantasyland? Update: So, Ms. Cox, do you believe the statement that the war on terror is: bq. ...[T]he struggle against ideological extremists who do not believe in free societies who happen to use terror as a weapon to try to shake the conscience of the free world. to be false? Figures. Stick to the sex, ok? It scans better. [thanks, Crank]

The Horror!

I'm struggling to maintain my Friday Friendliness here. Let's go from music to movies while I try to keep a lid on my urge to rant. Some Brit scientists have come up with a formula for determining the scariest horror movie:
(es+u+cs+t) squared +s+ (tl+f)/2 + (a+dr+fs)/n + sin x - 1. Where: es = escalating music u = the unknown cs = chase scenes t = sense of being trapped s = shock tl = true life f = fantasy a = character is alone dr = in the dark fs = film setting n = number of people sin = blood and guts 1 = stereotypes
Their winner? The Shining. On which I call BS. The Shining had its moments, but Shelley Duval and that little kid were so annoying it was hard to be sympathetic towards them. Plus, I read the book and was sorely disappointed that there was no topiary scene in the movie. I'd been having a conversation with Allah in which I bemoaned the fact that there are no good horror movies anymore. Even the latest crop - 28 Days, the remake of Dawn of the Dead, Jeepers Creepers - none of them succeeded in scaring me. And what more does one want from a purported scary movie than to be....scared. While I am a big fan of cheesy slasher flicks (see, Prom Night) and general gore (see, Dead Alive), those things don't scare me as much as entertain me. When it comes to being frightened, I prefer my scares to be psychological. I find movies are also scarier if the fear is subtle or unnerving, as opposed to making you jump out of your seat on cue with the scary music. Which is why movies like Friday the 13th are fun and movies like Session 9 are scary, and movies like Last House on the Left can leave you feeling creeped out for days on end. Using the formula above, I went over a few of my own favorite horror/scary movies. Now, math just isn't my thing, especially alegbra, so I'm sure some mistakes were made in the computations. Regardless, I was able to come up with a list of movies that scored well. And The Shinging nor Blair Witch (which I thought was heinous) are nowhere to be found. Also: Before anyone opens up the discussion, The Wickerman was NOT scary. It was horrid. Bad. Laughably bad. * The Exorcist. Probably the last movie that frightened the bejesus out of me. * Candyman. I found this movie to be both evil and frightening. Not only could I not look in the mirror for days after (I know I wouldn't be able to help myself from saying the dreaded words), but it's one of the few movies I have not been able to watch a second time. It comes on the tv, I go running from the room. * Magic. Anyone remember this? Anthony Hopkins is a ventriloquist with an evil dummy. Probably frightened me more than most people because I always thought dummies were evil to begin with. See, also: evil monkeys. * Evil Dead. Most of you know that the Evil Dead trilogy rank as three of my favorite movies ever. ED2 and AoD weren't so much scary as they were fun, the first, Evil Dead, was truly creepy. * Lady in White. One of those psychologically creepy movies. * The Entity. Ok, this wasn't really a great movie. But I will never, ever in all of my life forget the image of those invisible fingers pressed into Barbara Hershey's breasts. That's what I put through the calculator for now. I'm sure you'll come up with dozens of your own, and several arguments as to why my choices are wrong. But, as always, I welcome dissent.

Friday Morning Fluff (Updated)

It's Friday and I generally try to stay non-confrontational on Fridays. I even go so far as to not listen to talk radio on my way into work on Fridays, so I don't get any bright ideas for a raving post (though today I've chosen to take my Henry Rollins spoken word CDs with me, so who knows what may come of that). Doesn't mean I won't do any politics posting today, but it means I'll give it a try by starting the day off right. Today's Fluff: This is the End of Music. The idea behind the idea is this: bq. I'm fascinated by the idea of, say, your favourite band writing something that you can't stand. I've often asked people: What's your least favourite track by your favourite band? It's a difficult question, because often we're reluctant to admit that our favourite bands have written bad songs. We program ourselves to take sides: we'll often convince ourselves that a good song by a band we don't generally like is worse than a bad song by a band we normally love. Which led to this great idea, which a compulsive list maker/music collecter like myself could not resist: bq. imagine you're compiling a CD for a friend of songs or musical pieces in your own record collection that you hate the most. Stuff that's pointless, irritating, unlistenable, painfully bland, clichéd, whatever. Tracks that you would normally be pretty quick to skip if you had the CD on. Write down the full track-list (let's say around 15 songs, or 75 minutes worth of music) and submit it to us. We'll put the lists online for other people to laugh at and criticise. Who knows, someone might request an actual CD from you. I'm not that rabid about my favorite bands that I can't admit they made a few crappy songs. Yes, even Faith No More, whose worst song starts off my list. Note the criteria on the given link. These are not songs I hate just for the reason that they are bad songs; we could list those forever. These are songs by bands I truly love with a slavish devotion. Yes, even the best bands make skippable songs. * Faith No More - The Perfect Crime (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey Soundtrack) * Fear Factory - Remake of Gary Numan's Cars (Obsolete Collecter's Edition) * Incubus - Miss You (Make Yourself)* * Sublime - Date Rape (40 oz. to Freedom) * Foo Fighters - My Hero (The Colour and the Shape) * Nick Cave - Carny (Your Funeral, My Trial) * Rob Zombie - Living Dead Girl (Hellbilly Deluxe) * Nine Inch Nails - Closer (The Downward Spiral) * Type O Negative - Everyone I Love is Dead (World Coming Down) * Danzig - You and Me (Less Than Zero Soundtrack)* * Tool - Ænema ( Ænema) * I haven't calculated, but I'm sure Tool and Type O have clocked this CD in at maximum time. Besides, I'm late for work. Which, of course, is your fault as I'm doing this to entertain you. Maybe. Anyhow, I think I'll make a second CD later, or calculate this one and add on a few songs if I can. If you join in and make your own list (and post it here) don't forget to send it in to The End of Music, also. Update: I'll add more as I think of them, which means I'll end up with more than one CD. * Led Zeppelin - Fool in the Rain (see, also: Hot Dog) * Incubus really lost me with this album, anyhow. I tolerated the rest of it (being very disappointed in this followup to S.C.I.E.N.C.E), but Miss You is really dreck. * Ok, I have to admit there are times I really like listening to this song. But mosty, it's an exercise in Danzig masturbating with his voice. * Like most Tool songs, Ænema is really self-indulgent. Unlike most Tool songs, it's self-indulgent in a way that makes me want to tell Maynard to shut the hell up.

August 05, 2004

Clutch Linker

So, I wanted to do a linkfest, but I also wanted to put something special up on the radio tonight. Then I thought, Hey, why not do both at once?! Then I can introduce you to one of my favorite bands at the same time I introduce you to some interesting blog posts. Below, the links to today's linkwhore festival are embedded in the lyrics to a song by a fantastic band called Clutch. The song is The Soapmakers , which you can find on the radio (in the extended entry) should you want to sing along. Clutch is a hard band to define or stick in a genre. So I just tell people they're a cross between Frank Zappa and Black Sabbath. I wanted to include a decent selection of Clutch songs for you to listen to you while you click on all the links, but my CD ripping program is refusing to work for me right now, so you'll have to settle for one song. ALL the links, I say. There's good stuff there, including two blogger birth annoucements and some needed advice on getting toilet paper stuck to your ass. Oh, first: Thank you to Dorkafork for crapping a rainbow in my brain. Update: I forgot Beth! I'm sorry, Beth. Everyone go read Beth. She's really one of my favorites. Behind the Cliffside Inn, I heard a fiddle and a mandolin, keeping rhythm on an old washboard and stomping on the floor. Saw people of all sorts dancing 'round in twos and fours, caroling about days of old, and what the future holds. In the middle was a big cauldron that they were stirring, stirring, and there were trees around that they kept burning, burning. I asked a toothless man who all these people were, and he said, "The soapmakers, and we are working, working." As they stirred Heaven and Earth, they combined to one, and everything was everyone and each one was all. As they stirred I heard a trumpet call, and everything was everyone and each one was all. Radio down here: [Sorry, this radio offer has expired. Look for more on the main page]

since you asked

Well, not you in particular. But for those who emailed and asked how I feel about the whole Swiftboat thing: See here. I've got a linkfest coming up later this afternoon. If you've got a link you want to whore, now's the time. (when I say later this afternoon, I mean closer to dinner time. EST)


So, I've been thinking about making some ASV swag. Nothing big, probably just a coffee mug and a mousepad. A couple of people have asked and I figure the swag will be good to have around as prizes for the occassional contest I run. Allah has been kind enough to help design a logo, which I'll use for the text part (which will just say ASV) of the design, and my husband has something up his sleeve to go with the text. However (and there's always a however), I'd like to put some kind of slogan/tagline on it. The tagline I'm using right now (look up top there) isn't really appropriate (and I was just on a Beck kick, which is why it's there). Anyhow, you know what's coming. Suggestions? And keep it appropriate. I think Cafe Press has a decency standard clause. Oh, if I end up using your suggestion, you'll get a free ASV coffee mug!

Keeping Tabs on All of You

Humor me as I steal an idea from FAD: bq. in accordance with Section 66vi of the PATRIOT Act, otherwise known as the Blog Readership Registration For Later Camp Sorting provision, please fill this out. What he said. Come on, it will be interesting. I'm sure we will all learn something from this. Maybe one of us will even gain a stalker in the process. And what could possibly be wrong with that?

On The Radio

If you happen to be in the Alabama area, note that I'll be on the Russ and Dee show the morning of August 26th. I will also be doing live reports for their show from the Republican Convention. This is the closest I'll get to my high school dreams of being a disc jockey. I'll take it. I better start working on toning down my Long Island accent. Which, by the way, I don't have.

Winning the War, One Day at a Time

British Raid Nets Al Qaeda Leader: bq. A key al Qaeda figure who had access to the surveillance data that led authorities to increase the terror alert level was among those arrested in raids in Britain on Tuesday, according to a senior U.S. national security official. He said the arrests were made on information obtained following the arrests of al Qaeda suspects in Pakistan. Two Men With Suspected Ties Ansar al-Islam Arrested in Albany Mosque Raid bq. Federal agents and Albany police raided a Muslim mosque overnight Wednesday and arrested two men for helping someone they thought was a terrorist, a law enforcement official confirmed to FOX News on Thursday. The war on terrorism. It's working, despite attempts to ridicule/demonize it.

Sometimes a Shirt is Just a Shirt

Or: Atrios, Unhinged. Atrios is up in arms (no pun intended) over Glenn Reynolds wearing this shirt. Glenn responds here. Atrios (or Duncan, whatever you want to call him) believes the shirt, which pictures a variety of guns with the words "Celebrate Diversity," has obvious racial overtones. He - and his readers- see the shirt as not a proclomation of gun rights, but as a message to kill black people. I guess I'm just not seeing the subtext here. Atrios claims that the message is obvious because of the use of pan-African colors. My take on the colors is that the designer just wanted bright colors that would show up well on both a black and white shirt. But that's just me. Duncan's post is not quite as strident as the comments of his readers, although he does drop a few subtle hints in the comments that yes, perhaps Glenn is advocating genocide through a t-shirt. One commenter sees something even more nefarious in the message: bq. shoot as many pan-Africans as possible, maybe even a few queers, since the colors are also reminiscent of the gay flag. Welcome to more and more fascism. I spend a lot of time reading the ramblings of the moonbat left on a daily basis. I'm generally no longer suprised by all the conspiracy theories and tin foil thoughts I read. But this one left me with my jaw hanging. How far gone do you have to be in order to read "shoot the gay people" into that shirt? I think what bothered me more than the obviously stretched-for-maximum-impact theories on the shirt were thoughts like this one: bq. I think there is something significantly more sinister in that message, too. "Diversity" to Repugs is Us vs. Them. Ascribe any color, gender, orientation, religion, creed to that "them" you like. The blanket assertion that all Republicans are racist, bigoted homophobes would be amusing if it weren't so hateful. Celebrate diversity? Well, there is diversity among us Republicans, believe it or not. Some of us support gay rights. Some of us are atheists. Some of us are not white, rich males. Of course, the people who believe the above quoted statement like to throw the "ignorance" grenade out there, while they are the ones behaving like narrow-minded, generalizing fools. Read: ignorant. bq. it says to me "kill the black, brown, yellow, red, ...". Sometimes I wonder if women and non-whites just get it, because they have encountered it so much. Encountered what? Maybe I'm doing something wrong here, but I'm not being indoctrinated every day into a cult of bigotry and racism. Should I contact my local Republican club and tell them they're falling behind in their goals? bq. The subtext is much darker and the "kill a n****r because he stole your job because of affirmative action" is even there. (asteriks mine) What. The. Hell? Even if Atrios's original thought that the shirt has a racist undertone can be defended, there is no way the above statement can. Where, oh where, can you draw that conclusion from? You can't, unless you have gone so far over to the left that you sinister messages in your Alphabits. The rest of the comments read like a handbook on how to hate conservatives. For people who claim to be so open-minded, so celebratory of diversity, so supportive of free speech, they sure know how to be bigoted, ignorant, shallow and oppressive. Perhaps the lefties have been so conditioned to read political incorrectness into everything they see, read or hear that they can no longer take anything at face value. Meanwhile, they are busy espousing the lie that only Republicans can be hateful and liberals never resort to meanness in their crusades. One only has to look through Democratic Underground or Indymedia to see that's a bold faced lie. One only has to witness a "peace" rally to understand the depth of the hatred that spews from the left. I've seen signs that encourage the death of the current administration. I've seen signs that support death to supporters of Israel. I've read articles that support the murder of our troops in Iraq. I've seen burning effigies and heard chants that encourage violence towards the right. I've seen more ugliness and hatred from the left in the past three years than I've ever witnessed from the right. Yet they believe their hatred and threats are justified. They are righteous and smug. The very people who claim to cherish diversity and equality are the ones who hate anyone who thinks outside of their narrow box. All this from one cheesy looking shirt. Granted, I don't own one of those shirts. I don't even own a gun. I'm not male. I'm not a racist. I'm not a homophobe. Maybe I better turn in my Republican credentials because I'm obviously not keeping up with what a Republican is supposed to be. In the eyes of those open-minded liberals, anyhow. Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt. And sometimes, hatred and bigotry are found in the most unlikely places. Like in the comment thread of a leftie website. More here, here, here, here and all over the place.

August 04, 2004

all apologies

Dear Roger Clemens, I've been told I owe you an apology. Sorry, Roger. Still not sorry about this. Or any of this. I mean, you can see how I believed that other story, right? But, yeah. I'm sorry. I was wrong about you. Once.

I bring your people TP

I couldn't help myself. cornholio.jpg [inspired by this] [pardon the bad photoshopping. I'm in a room with lots of windows and no shades and I can barely see the screen for the glare]

Meanwhile, In Iowa...

A television station is reporting three bank robberies happened about the same time President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry were speaking at separate venues in Davenport Wednesday morning. WQAD television station, located in the Quad Cities, reported the first robbery happened at the First National Bank. The names of the other two banks weren't immediately available. Davenport police say they could not comment and were helping to direct the political leaders' motorcades.
Gotta love that last line. Which reminds of something I've been meaning to blog about. This week, our town is having something called Night Out. It's supposed to be this big gathering/candlelight vigil at our "town square" to call awareness to crime and drugs, letting the criminal element know that we're on to them and gosh darn it, we're not gonna take it anymore. Did anyone ever think that putting up these signs all over town proclaiming every man, woman, boy and girl will be at the town square at this given time and place is a blanket invitation to the criminals to perform some quick house robberies? Sounds like the makings of a Simpsons episodes.

Terror Updates

Jeff Quinton is collecting them. Meanwhile, the breaking news headline on CNN reads: bq. Intelligence indicates suspected al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan "contacted" at least one person in the U.S. in recent months, sources tell CNN. Details soon. Read into that what you will. I'm waiting for the update. Update: Like most of you, I'm just wondering why CNN considers that worthy of a breaking news headline. And why is contacted in square quotes?

how to make an old person like birthdays

My dear, sweet husband informed me that the Commodore 64 that's on its way to my house is a birthday/anniversary present. Yes, I get a combined present. I was the one stupid enough to suggest getting married on my birthday, so I suffer for it. Either way, this is the best present EVER. And now that the husband paid for it, I can take the money I stashed away and use it to purchase some extra games. Oh, and this shirt! Now all I have to do is make a mix tape with some Howard Jones and Thompson Twins and it will be just like time traveling. No, no, I am not going to stop talking about this. Blame my husband. He enables this behavior. He encourages it. With things like this. (Thanks to reader Loudness for that link)

When Crackpots Run For Office

Please, for the love of everything that is good in this world, somebody take this guy out back and hogtie him until the election is over. Hell, don't ever untie him. What an embarrassment to the human race.


When I saw this picture over at Powerline, I knew it was just crying out to be Photoshopped. So I sent it to my sister, who came up with this. It makes absolutely no sense, but it cracked my shit up. 4more.JPG Update: Winner.

that was then, this is now (part infinity in the navel-gazing series)

In the comments on The Forgotten Enemy, someone calling himself Angry American decided to play a little game with me. Basically, it was a game of catch. He threw my own words back at me. I caught them. I figure his motive was this: to put the words out there so my own readers could attack them, and then he would come back and smugly point out that the paragraphs he inserted into his comments come from none other than me. I beat him to the finish line, though. I admitted right out in the comments that Angry American's "thoughts" were indeed mine. It's not a big secret that I was once quite the opposite politically from where I stand now. I think I've written about it enough times for newer readers to know, and older readers were here when those words were originally written. Granted, some of the things Angry American printed are not in my archives, but that's just sheer laziness on my part and not an attempt to hide anything. In fact, I myself have linked to the archive.org sections where you can find all those old rants against Republicans, etc. I have nothing to hide. I never attempted to sweep my former liberalism under the rug. Though I am embarassed at how easily swayed I was by my then compatriots and their conspiracy theories, it's not something I would wish away because I learned an awful lot from those years. I liken it to my divorce. People often ask me, if you had to do it over again, would you do it the same way? Of course I would. I would not be the person I am today without having learned all of those lessons along the way. Everything in life is a learning experience and what we become because of those experiences is a good indication of just how much we learned (though, what I've become is up for debate. According to Oliver Willis and his commenters, I've become insane and should not be taken seriously. According to Kevin Drum's comments, I've become a deranged Long Island housewife. Hmm..can one work full time and still be considered a housewife? And I thought that term was un-PC, anyhow). So a few people who picked up on the exchange in those comments emailed and asked what it was all about. One person in particular asked if there was one singular defining moment for me when I realized I was on the the "wrong" side of the fence. Yes and no. In many ways, it was gradual and I won't rehash that again because it's all here. But I did say this in my email: bq. I realized how uncomfortable I had become with myself and how dishonest I was being with myself. I looked at my friends and family and sensed their feeling of unity and togetherness after all this and I felt lost and left out. I wanted to join them. I wanted to put a flag on my car and pledge allegiance and stand up for my country and its leaders, but I was afraid of what my fellow liberals would think of me. So I kept with the party line and kept repeating everything they were saying in the forums and in their mass emails; I listened to the conspiracy theories and actually contemplated a few of them and I hated myself. I hated that I was so worried about keeping up appearances with these people that I was lying to myself. So, defining moment? Maybe two. And I went to archive.org and dug up these two posts, both from September, 2001.:
Yesterday, on my way to Pete's wake, I saw a woman standing on the side of the road with her children, holding up signs pointing to the local flea market, where they were accepting donations to send to the rescue workers. I saw lawns and fences decorated with flags. I saw a whole schools dressed in red, white and blue. I keep thinking back to high school, when the hostages were held in Iran and everyone drove around with their headlights on during the day in a show of solidarity. We stared out of the window of our classroom, awed by the swelling patriotism that engulfed our country. I remember the Gulf War, the yellow ribbons tied to trees, the signs on windows of families who had loved one overseas "Pray for Claude," said one, and I know a lot of people did, whether they knew him or not. Times like these tend to bring people together. I am not a flag-waving patriotic kind of person. If you are a regular reader here, you know I have my problems with this country, with our leader. Yes, I know I am lucky to live in a free country. But living in a free country also provides me with the freedom to criticize it. I have railed against George W. Bush here many times, almost on a daily basis. But now I have to place my trust in him, and the people he chose to surround himself with during his term. I have to put aside whatever came before this and trust him to do the right thing. And I have no idea what that right thing is. I can't imagine being the people in the unenviable position of having to choose what that is. We have to trust. We have to have faith in our leaders. We cannot become divisive. We cannot take our anger out on the wrong people.
What I just witnessed was strength in numbers. I was taking a quick drive to the store. One block away. As I pulled into the lot, I saw a couple across the street standing outside their building, holding candles. There was supposed to be a candlelight vigil at 7, but it was too light out then. So I figured this couple just came out when it got dark. Very sweet. Then I looked down the block. At least every other house or building had people outside of it, candles and flags held high. I forgot what I had come to the store for and drove out the lot and down the road. All down North Jerusalem Rd., the people stood. They waved, they sang. I turned north onto Gardiners Avenue and the numbers doubled. Down the side streets, they were there. The people who weren't outside had left lit candles by the sidewalks. Old, young, parents, children. They were all out. I decided to swing home and stop at my mother's to let her know. I passed DJ's school and had to stop my car to get a better look at what I was seeing. There were about 400 people, maybe 500. All with candles. All singing, holding hands, hugging. And I couldn't get out and join them. Because I finally broke down. I pulled over down the next street and stopped the car. I cried. Finally, I cried hard and long and I hyperventilated and had a panic attack. And I stayed there, gasping for air and wiping my tears with my sleeve and sobbing like a little kid. I cried for everything that happened the last few days. I cried for my father, who is walking around like a lost child. I cried for my cousins, who have been sifting through rubble and body parts non stop and will never be the same again. I cried for the vicitms, the survivors, the witnesses. I cried for everyone in this country. And I cried for my kids. Because they will never experience the freedom and safety I felt as a child. There were some good tears. There were tears of thanks for every rescue worker, every hero, every volunteer. Tears for every person who has comforted someone who needed it. For every kind gesture, every candle lit, every person in another country who has grieved with us. Then I had a thought. They think they broke us. But I think maybe they fixed us.
Well, hindsight is interesting. We're still very much a broken country. But I suppose it will always be that way. I was naive to think that something of that magnitude would bring us all together permanently. I really, honestly thought that I wouldn't be the only one crossing that line and embracing the other side. And no, it didn't happen overnight, it didn't even happen after those two "defining" moments. It takes time to break free from the things that hold you down. And, like my separation from my ex, it took time to work up the courage to say, I cannot live like this anymore. So, yes. I did say those things Angry American wrote and I thank him (her?) for bringing those words out again, to remind me of how far I've come personally, from a time when I could barely look at myself in the mirror to now, being very comfortable with who I am. There was a lot more than politics mixed into the path from here to there, but the letting go of that part of me was a big part of it. I'm sorry, Mr. Angry American, but your desired results are probably quite the opposite of what you were attempting to do. This insane, deranged, cowering Long Island housewife kindly asks that you kiss her proud American ass.

Operation Give Update

[previous post on this here] I know there are media type people out there reading this blog. I've heard from enough of you to know that. This is a story you might be interested in giving a little publicity to. Maybe you can help get this resovled. Long story short: People try to do good by sending toys to Iraq, someone rips them off for $30,000 in the process. Read the whole thing, including a timeline of events, at Chief Wiggles' place. More here from Reid, who has been dealing with the moving company that is responsible for a whole bunch of toys not getting to where they are supposed to be going. And a missing check.

August 03, 2004

West Side Story, Iowa Version

In relation to this post, my personal Photoshopper Keiran sends this image: [click for bigger] Someone has to come up with a song parody for Tonight.

uber geek

I won! I won! What the hell is wrong with me? It's 2004, right? And I'm excited over buying a computer that I owned back in the early 80's. I can't wait to play Micro League Baseball. This is the greatest day ever. There's something seriously wrong with me.

Glory Days

But you should have seen me in that cheerleader outfit. Really. If only I had gotten Jeff Goldstein (Mensa, James Joyce Club) to sign my bra instead of my yearbook. Sigh. Clarification: Van Club

Rumble in Iowa!

On Drudge right now: bq. Bush and Kerry will attend events just blocks away from each other in Iowa on Wednesday, campaign sources reveal. The two will be so close, crowds will overlap! Kerry will begin at 10 am at the Davenport RiverCenter. During the same hour, Bush will hold a rally at LeClaire Park -- just three blocks away on the banks of the Mississippi River... And now all I can imagine in my mind is Sharks v. Jets. The two disparate crowds, edging towards each other, sleeves rolled up, fists clenched. Maybe protest signs instead of switchblades, but the tension is still there.. Who will be the first to break out in song? The Right are gonna have their way, tonight... The Left are gonna have their way, tonight.... Well, it seemed funny to me.

64 Bits of Crazy

[still haven't gotten to that long-ish post I was talking about this morning] After having a conversation about this with a friend this morning, I hit upon the reason I am so hell bent on finding every single video/computer game I used to play before, say, 1993. It’s not the nostalgia. It’s the simplicity. Today’s games are all about the graphics. It seems the better the graphics, the bigger the sales. But better visuals do not always make for better gaming. My son has played and completed all the recent Zelda games. When I introduced him to Legend of Zelda (available for the Game Cube) he pronounced it as "ugly but hard." In fact, he thinks that the gameplay on the original Zelda is far superior to the newer Zeldas. It's only the graphics that make the games superior. I'd much rather spend my time solving looking under pixelated carpets and walking through a forest of square looking trees than gawking at beautiful graphics that are just hiding bland substance. I have been steadily taking backward steps in my gaming. First, it was the Atari joystick games. Then we bought the Arcade pack for the GameCube, along with the Sonic pack. Last week, we got the GBA attachment for the GameCube so we can play all the original Mario games. And now, I am drooling over this over this. Each side of my conscience is sitting on their respective shoulder whispering in my ear. Buy it. Don't buy it. Come on, it's only fifty bucks. Your kids need new school clothes. You can play Pirates. Pirates. Dream House! The voice on the left is winning. That's the one saying buy it. Make it stop. Update: Reader Forrest sends this graphic: [click for bigger] Remember the C64 theme I had here a few months ago? Maybe I should bring that back. Update: I'm the current high bidder! Thanks, sweetie!

Nelson Muntz on Terror Alerts

For some, this is all a game. All the war, all the terrorism, it's just a game. For instance, in the comments on my post yesterday about Al-Sadr's house being surrounded: bq. Oops, like like y'all spoke too soon. your brave boys were driven away by sadr's guys and the Iraqi police. oops. I imagine that was typed while the commenter was sneering. See, this round of the game goes to him and thus, he gloats. Yes, he gloats that a murderous thug was not caught. That's someone who has lost sight of what's at stake. That's a person who sees everything negative that happens in the war as a "win" for his side. That's sick. Then there are those who woke up today crying "August Surprise!" Ah, the cries of the righteous, the call of the wildly partisan. Quoting Jeff Jarvis: bq. Can't have it both ways, folks: Can't scream they don't tell us what they know -- and then when they tell us what they know, it's not good enough for you. It's what they know. Can't scream that they're not connecting the dots and when they connect some, you scream because you don't like the picture it draws. Can you imagine if the Citicorp building was attacked by a suicide bomber and those warnings had never been issued? BUSH KNEW! would be the headline on a hundred blogs. WHY DID THEY KEEP IT SECRET? would be another. The conspiracy theories would tumble out of their pens and keyboards faster than anyone could defend the decision not to make old data new. I want to say, Bush just can't win, but I won't, because this isn't a game that either side is supposed to be winning or losing. It's a battle we are supposed to be fighting together. The chorus of gotchas and the echoes of laughter I hear this morning are making my head hurt. And it's not just with terror alerts. Lord knows I've had my share of them as well, to the point where I think, why don't we just put the whole damn country on orange alert from now until some undetermined point in the future and be done with it? It's the war. It's the derision from certain quarters when things go wrong in Iraq. It's the told ya so mentality from certain people when soldier die, copters go down, another "insurgent" gets away. It's the so what attitude from people whenever good news comes out of Iraq. It's the way they will take any kind of good news and twist and turn it until it's inside out and the one negative little bug that was crawling around comes scurrying out and they make it out to be a giant, man-eating bug. It's the way they never, ever want to hear something going good for this administration or good news about the war on terrorism or good news about Iraq and Afghanistan. They are all Nelson Muntz, with their snickering laugh and pointing fingers. Even worse, when something is accomplished in the war on terrorism, all they can say is Doh! It's not a game, people. You haven't won a damn thing. So stop gloating.

your mission today

I've got something long-ish coming up later, but it won't be ready for a while. Meanwhile, I have become obsessed with finding old graphic adventure games to play, thanks to the burninating fun I had last night. I used to play games much like that one (thanks, Infocom, Windham Classics and Sierra) back when I had a Vic 20 and a C64. I loved those games. And I want them back. Or at least something similar. I'm looking specifically to play these games online or at least be able to download them and play on the PC. My last resort is to go on eBay and find a C64 and games to buy, but I really don't have the room in the office for another computer (or the money, either, but that's never stopped me before). I'm specifically looking for graphic adventures where you enter text as you watch the story unfold or even some old point and click games. If you've got any links that will provide me with some old school entertainment (perhaps taking me back to the days when my biggest worry was being able to stay up all night drinking and still go to work at 6am), drop them in the comments. Difficulty of mission: the cheesier the graphics, the better.

August 02, 2004

i love the internet

My deep seated obsession with old school graphic adventures and my love of the word burninating have finally been brought together in the greatest thing the internet has ever produced. Really. Peasant's Quest.

More RNC Bloggers (Update)

More bloggers have been credentialed for the RNC. The complete list thus far is: * Kevin Aylward of WizBang! * Matt Margolis of Blogs For Bush * Captain Ed of Captain's Quarters * Scott Sala of Slant Point * Jim Hinderaker of Power Line * Karol from from Spot On, who will be blogging for Dean's World Oh, and myself, blogging for both ASV and Command Post. Congrats to those added today! Added: Bill from INDC Journal.

one more poster

This is the hi-res version several people asked for. Right click and save We're off to the beach for the evening. Enjoy yours. (If these posters aren't your thing, there's always this one)

Posters (repost)

[I'll be out until later this evening and I wanted to leave this up top] See here for reference Thanks for your patience. These are the available versions so far. We are working on others. If there is something more specific you had in mind, please let us know and we'll work on it. * This one is a small graphic, made not to print out, but to put on your website. Right click and save to your own hard drive. * This one is handbill size, suitable for printing. Right click and save. * Large PDF version, for printing an 8X11 poster.

What a class act

That Roger Clemens is. Houston, you have a problem. Enjoy him. [brought to you by the Roger Clemens Haters Club] Update 8/4: Yes, I apologized.

al-Sadr surrounded

The end is nigh for al-Sadr, I hope. More here.


I'm looking for a way to install a comment registration process without having to change over from Moveable Type (or upgrade to MT3, which I can't afford to do right now). Does anyone know if there is a script/program that will allow me to install a commenting registration form or something like that? As of right now, I'm turning off the comments on yesterday's posts. I've had enough. And it's not just the moonbats, though they sure did come out in droves yesterday. It's other people as well. If you can't make a comment without resorting to calling someone fat or ugly, don't comment. Please. Mostly, though, it's the moonbats. Maybe less anonymous cowards will drop by if they have to go through a registration process.


bq. Rookie of the Year - 1970 American League MVP - 1976 Gold Glove Award - 1973, 1974, 1975 All-Star - 1971, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 25 years. Still my favorite Yankee.

August 01, 2004

more poster stuff

I'm a bit stunned at the way the poster idea has taken off. I've gotten more generous offers in regards to printing and other services than I can count. Two things to note: * The poster is fair use for anyone. You do not need to ask my permission to print it out, especially since we do not own the images on the poster itself. * Please let me know if there is a specific size you need. As I said before, tomorrow I will make available downloadable versions of the poster. Right now, the one you see is a photo of the original. * We'll be making another version of the poster that will include a photo of the Pentagon. * We will not be selling the posters. If we do decide to do anything like use a specific online printer or put the image on t shirt using an online vendor (I've received offers from more than one), we would do it so that either a) the only cost to you would be shipping or b) any money taken in would go to a 9/11 charity. * We want to again thank Charles for the inspiration. * Thank you everyone who has given us positive feedback on the idea.

Adressing the Previous Post

First: We are not selling the poster. That's not what we had in mind. Tomorow we will have available a hi-res version and a pdf version for anyone who wants to print out their own posters. Thanks to all who want to take my sister's idea and run with it. Makes me proud. To Oliver Willis, who wrote in the comments: bq. Michele, you do know that 9/11 isn't exclusively "yours" right?" I'm not sure what you mean by that, Oliver. Do you mean that I shouldn't be going on and on about how 9/11 affected me because it doesn't "belong" to me? Or do you think that I believe I am the only one who remembers or the only one who the attacks had such an impact on? Look over here, Oliver. For the past two years I spent a great deal of time putting together a collection of almost 200 personal stories from people the world over who wanted to share why 9/11 "belongs to them" as well. I am well aware who it "belongs" to, Oliver. Save your sly snark for Media Matters, where you can preach to your own choir with George Soros's money. To the person who thinks that it's the fault of the RNC that AQ wants to attack NY: Think about your statement. Think hard. See any holes in your theory? Why do you think they struck NY and DC in the first place? Why do you think they struck NY the first time all those years ago? Did Karl Rove have something to do with the first WTC bombing? What about the threats to Vegas or Arizona or any other place in the United States or anywhere else in the world that the Islamists have threatened to attack? Nope, no Republican Conventions there. As for using 9/11 to their advantage, a) the convention will have come and gone by that date and b) there will be no visit to Ground Zero by the president. So just how are they using 9/11? Tp D, who wrote: bq. Please stop using people's current political views as a way to judge how they were affected by 9/11 and then determine who is somehow better - better American, better patriot, more intelligent, more compassionate. You're missing the large point here. I'm not pointing fingers at everyone who isn't voting for George Bush.I'm not pointing fingers at all Democrats. But yes, I am pointing my finger at people who make posters depicting the President or even this country as the true enemy of all of us. They have not learned a thing from 9/11 and they are the ones using 9/11 in an opportunistic way to further their own political agenda. Just look at the MIHOP and LIHOP* crowds. The protesters are part of that group. Looking through the comments I can see that my point has been made. Many of you have forgotten. And the way that some of you go on, one would think that you never even knew. Willful ignorance, indeed. *Made It Happen On Purpose/Let It Happen On Purpose. Sorry I forgot to include the explanation earlier.

The Forgotten Enemy

The terrorists are striking out for New York. That sentence can be read two ways, depending on who you are and what you believe. Pick which one applies to you: A) This summer the real terrorists are coming to town - and they're having a convention. B) Sources: Al Qaeda Plotting to Attack New York City Corporations If you picked "A" then you most likely believe that "B" is nothing more than a lie, a piece of propaganda designed to scare you into becoming a war-mongering neocon. If you picked "B" then congratulations. You know who the real enemy is. For the "A" crowd, the enemy is not al Qaeda. No, the enemy is a frenzied mix of cops, capitalism and conservatives. As the protesters prepare to descend on New York City, it is said that al Qaeda prepares as well. I have a feeling that only one of those groups will make it to New York this summer. That would be the protesters. And they can march to their heart's content and chant and sing and ring their bells and hold up their signs that the republicans are the enemy, and all the while they will act as if the bootheel of John Ashcroft is grinding into their duct-taped mouths. What they will never mention is this: In the two years and eleven months since September 11, 2001, there has not been another attack on U.S. soil. For all the chatter and imminent threats we have heard in that time, al Qaeda has not managed to harm us at home again. They will never mention the arrests of terrorists, the planes that were held up because of threats, the warnings that were heeded and acted upon. To do so would be to admit that the war on AQ is working. It's succeeding. Instead, they will launch claims that none of the threats were real, they were nothing more than subterfuge put out by the evil Bush administration to first throw you into a state of fear and then hypnotize you with the false sense of safety when nothing happens. All their refutations are based on conspiracy theories. Yet here we stand all this time later with not a single threat realized. Here we stand without having faced another attack on our homeland. Something is going right, no? Well, of course they say no. Because to them, the terrorists are here and they are attacking New York right now in the form of preparations for the Republican National Convention. To the protesters and all who follow their line of thinking, the enemy is their leaders. The terrorists are the Republicans, not the people who want to burn down our buildings, kill our citizens and destroy our country. Perhaps these people have short memories and the images of 9/11 have already disappeared from their minds, replaced by images of Bush as Hitler. Perhaps the grief and anger of that day has given way to the ironic idea that the burning twin towers represent - instead of an attack on their country - an attack on their liberties by their own government. Maybe they need a reminder. [click for larger image] My sister Lisa made that poster on Friday. Lisa was traveling around some weblogs that day and came across the 9/11 slideshow at Little Green Footballs. Her second thought (her first being to look out her office window at the empty space across the water) was that everyone who thinks our enemy is us ought to be made to sit down and view that slideshow because they have forgotten. Not only have they forgotten, but they have consciously made a decision to replace those images with images like this one. So Lisa took some of the images from the slideshow and put them together on poster with the words Have You Forgotten across the top. She made 100 copies. On the night before Election Day, she and I will head out to the nearest polling places and (within legal distance) and hang the signs on fences and telephone polls. I doubt it will change anyone's mind as to who to vote for but perhaps it will give the people who have forgotten some pause. The war on terrorism and specifically the war on al Qaeda is working. For those of you who picked "A" in the question above: the only reason your war is still waging on is because you don't know who the real enemy is. Or you have forgotten.