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November 30, 2004

Waxing poetic

First and foremost, big, wet, thank you kisses (the platonic kind!) to Mike Hendrix for sending me Don't Panic and Interstate 60. You made this sick day a good one. Much good karma to you. Read two books today instead of spending the day wrapped in a blanket at the computer. This was a great book until the last twenty pages or so, when it got a bit carried away. This was quite good all the way through. In other news, I've made it to 400 on my 500 songs list. I'm really trying to round out the last 100 without resorting to "Well, that Poison song really wasn't that bad." In the last half hour, I've been spending my time Farking and composing my own lyrics (to amuse myself in that overly medicated, feverish sort of way) for the musical version of Karate Kid. Wax on Wax off Wax off Wax on Mr. Miyagi? Yes Daniel Son? I don't wish to stand like a seagull anymore I'm tired of painting the fence It's all such a bore Oh please just once can't I use my mad karate skills to show the guys at All Valley how to get some kills? Wax on Wax off Wax off Wax on Oh my confused Daniel Son you must find your happy place You cannot win by smashing face Etc., etc. I think I've had enough NyQuil/Robitussin cocktails for now. Update: Don't miss Allah's lyrics in the comments.

Comfortably Numb*

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of Pink Floyd's The Wall. Discuss. *Thank you, NyQuil

germ warfare

As noted yesterday, I've got a cold. Except, it's more than just a cold. Hasn't quite reached flu stage yet, but I know that the commander of the germ squad inside my body is right now finalizing his plans for the next phase of the attack and he's bucking for a promotion or a new stripe on his uniform. He's the Patton of germs. Yesterday's attack was a surprise one. Usually I feel something coming on, but this time it was just there, as if my immune system inadvertently stepped on a landmine. How clever those germs are. So now I just wait. I tried to fend off the coming attack, shoring up my base with Tylenol Flu, but I think this army is too strong for me. I can feel myself weakening already and even as I swallow the Echinacea I found in the back of the cabinet, I can hear the commander germ laughing. Echinacea is a pre-battle weapon, you idiot! It's too late for your silly homeopathic counter attacks! So I think I'll just lay back and take it like a (wo)man. Let them get their attack over with, let them spread throughout my body in their battle formations, attacking my chest, my back, my ears and throat, raising my body temperature, and just when they are ready to settle in for the long haul, I'll drown them with a deadly combination of NyQuil and orange juice. Then I'll just sleep it off as the germ commander slowly realizes he's been not quite foiled, but defeated post-battle. He had a good run. I lost half a day's work yesterday and I'll lose a full day today. But I'll recover nicely, just in time for the busy half of the week, and everyone knows that living well is the best revenge. Steak for lunch tomorrow! Even though I'll be home sick today, I'll try to make the best of it. No laying around on the couch watching cartoons all day for me (everyone knows the best cartoons are on at night, anyhow). No, I'll wrap myself up in a blanket, stack my reinforcements (Excedrin Migraine, herbal tea, tissues) next to the desk in the home office and work the germs away. I've got stories to write. A list to finish. Email to catch up on. Christmas stories to tell. After an hour of this, I'll feel like I'm wasting my day off, even though it's not really a day off, as the germ army has forced my hand here, but I'm not at work and therefore should be doing something that's on par with the importance of work, so as not to feel lazy and unaccomplished. So I will, later on, attempt to mop the floor or prepare some elaborate dinner my family will never eat or do seven loads of laundry, just so I can feel like my day was not empty sea of blogging and playing games. It's a mental battle I fight with myself not only when I'm sick, but every Saturday and Sunday. No rest for the wicked, or something like that. I thank the late Grandma Millie for instilling in me the idea that things like reading, watching television and resting are signs of weakness and worthlessness and I should always be walking around the house with a dustrag, looking for stray specks of dirt, or serving my man. Serving him what? I don't know. Food, drink, whatever. Just as long as I remember that my life's purpose is to have a clean house, a busy stove and a content husband. Grandma, who will have been dead for six years this week, would be none too pleased with me at the moment as my house is not clean, my stove is not busy and my husband, well, let's just say he's content in ways that grandma wasn't referring to. If you give a man that kind of contentment, he won't care if you aren't donning an apron and serving him dinner. Unless, of course, you're not wearing anything under the apron and "serving him dinner" is a clever euphemism. Well, that was off track. And the germ commander has just made it known that he's all about attacking the stomach today. Which calls for a very abrupt end to this post.

November 29, 2004

alternative Christmas, Year IV

Nothing like having writer's block, a cold and a bad case of the blahs on the same day. Which happens to be a Monday, anyhow. Useless and contagious, I am. Anyhow, as per Lileks, who asks for your favorite/least favorite Christmas songs, the Worst. Christmas Song. Ever. Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time You see she's been sick for quite a while And I know these shoes would make her smile And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight I would rather gag myself with mama's shoes than have to listen to that ever again. Favorite Christmas song? Thereís no presents, not this christmas Thereís no presents Tom and jerry, drinking sherry They donít give a damn King Diamond - No Presents For Christmas. No, not really. But damn close. Maybe Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis. For classics, nothing beats Holly Jolly Christmas. You know what this means, don't you? Time for Alternative Christmas Mix, Volume IV. [Here's 3 and 2. I can't find 1.] I'm once again looking for alternate versions of Christmas classics, metal/punk bands doing holiday music, as well as offbeat, or just deranged, seasonal songs. Repeats from the pasts lists are fine, as I didn't include them all when I made my CDs. As with the last few years, I'll cull the best from the list and make a CD out of it, which I will give away in one of my Christmas contests, and then I'll proceed to procrastinate sending the CD to the winner and he/she will end up getting it some time around Easter, after threats of a lawsuit and/or beating. Anyhow, let's have your best alternative Christmas songs. Please, no Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

Christmas Tales From My Less Than Idyllic Youth

Blame Lileks. I was going to leave the whole white lights/colored lights issue alone until he brought it up today.

I am a Christmas purist and as such, my decorating sensibilities demand colored lights. If you have nothing but white lights on your house, I will suspect that you also have your tree decorated in some weird Victorian rose scheme, with nary a Christmas color to be found.

I wrote this last year and it still stands:

Yes, yes, yes. The big, primary colored lights. The ones that made your neighborhood like a box of Crayola crayons. The ones that lit up the snow with their colors. REAL CHRISTMAS LIGHTS! Not these sissified, oh so tasteful, prim and proper lights. What the hell is that? It looks like you've just left some lights on so your kids could find their way home. From the woods. The dark, evil woods. Where you left them as a sacrifice to the Christmas Light Spirit. But the Christmas Light Spirit didn't want them. You know why? BECAUSE YOU HAVE WHITE LIGHTS ON YOUR HOUSE!

In a (my) perfect Christmas world, everyone would have oversized, electricity-sucking colored bulbs on their houses. Red, blue, green and yellow. It would be snowing all the time; fluffy, soft snow that piles on the lawn and fences, creating a picturesque scene that is worthy of a Norman Rockwell painting. The glow of the colored bulbs would reflect off the snow, giving the entire street the effect of being bathed in wide swatches of color. We would all don our rubber boots and hooded parkas and trudge through the streets, our feet making crunching sounds as they packed down the foot or more of snow with each step. And that would be the only sound you hear for a while - no trucks or cars or snowblowers, just the crunch, crunch, crunching of snow underfoot and the occasional giggle of a small child who captures a snowflake on his tongue. Later, you would be able to hear the soft, off key voices of those children as they went door to door, serenading the neighbors with Christmas carols in exchange for mugs of hot chocolate, held in hands covered with snow crusted woolen mittens.

And then all the kids would go home to their respective houses and put on their feetie pajamas and sit around the fireplace while their parents read Christmas stories to them.

It's Pleasantville, with colored lights, and it's all based on my childhood. Well, loosely based. Very loosely based.

We always intended our forays into Christmas caroling to be idyllic, in an innocent, 1950's kind of way. We had good intentions. We had the parkas and the rubber boots and the off key voices. We just didn't have the right amount of Wally and the Beaver in us to pull it off correctly.

Our trudging through the neighborhood was not quiet at all. We were like a pack of rabid dogs who turned on each other. Lori wanted to stand in front all the time because she thought - mistakenly - that she had a beautiful singing voice. She was the only one who couldn't hear that her whispery vocal stylings sounded more like helium escaping from a balloon than Roberta Flack (Lori's rendition of Killing Me Softly was to die for. Literally). So Lori would run up ahead of us, trying to gain the coveted spot of bell-ringer and first soprano. The boys would pelt her with snowballs as she ran ahead and more often than not, Lori would end up face down in a foot of snow, crying that we were just jealous of her.

Our intentions were to hit at least five houses a night. We knew our neighbors weren't that keen on carolers and instead of making us hot chocolate, they would just hand each of us a quarter - usually mid song - and give us a faint smile as they closed the door on our efforts. Which was all we wanted. A few quarters a night, pooled together, meant a trip to Murray's and candy for everyone.

Murray was an old man who ran a small candy/cigarette/expired milk store on the corner. We would have much preferred to go to 7-11, but none of us were allowed to cross the big, bad street to get there. So we settled for Murray's, where the Bazooka gum often had teeth marks courtesy of Murray's snarling, vicious, child hating dog.

We once hit upon the idea of singing Christmas carols to Murray. We thought it would soften his heart, as if life were nothing but a sappy tv movie and we were writing the script. When we burst into his store singing Silent Night, Murray shrank back in horror. I had a vision of Murray as the wicked witch, melting under Dorothy's thrown water.

"I'm a Jew, you idiots! A Jew!" Gloria stepped forward, staring down Murray. "Yea, well, Ricki and Larry and Jews and they're singing!" She pointed to the siblings who were now staring at the floor. "Well, they should be ashamed of themselves. Get out of my store, now!" Gloria stared at Murray defiantly. She was the oldest of all of us and moved to the suburbs straight from some crime-ridden pocket in Queens. Leader of the Pack, complete with black leather jacket. She sneered at Murray. "Face it, Murray. You just don't like us singing because we're happy and you're not." The old man stared silently at us. I immediately began forming this scenario in mind in which Murray would say that Gloria was right, he was lonely and unhappy and maybe the beautiful children of the neighborhood who had voices like golden angels and hearts filled with love and charity would look kindly upon this old man and forgive him all his transgressions, including rancid milk and dog-chewed gum. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone! And we'd all hug and do a rousing rendition of Dreidel, Dreidel for Murray while the neighbors poured out of their houses to join us.

Murray spat at Gloria. Spat! The wad missed her by a few inches and landed on the counter. The dog came over and licked it up. We marched out of the store in single file and everyone laughed at Murray's lame attempt at spitting except for me. I was dejected. I wanted Murray's heart to grow three times its size! I think that was a subtle beginning to my career as a cynic.

So we trudged on, making our way through the gray, slush snow which no longer crunched under our feet, thanks to a light drizzle and heavy local traffic. Our rubber boots went squish on the way down and sounded something like a plunger being removed from a toilet bowl on the way up. Squish. Pop. Squish. Pop. Almost in unison, a marching band of wet, freezing kids who just wanted to spread some holiday cheer and maybe make a buck or two in the process.

Lori was the one who insisted on going to Scott's house. Scott was the grade school equivalent of the high school quarterback. King of the playground, center of the lunchroom, best looking kid in any K-6 school for miles around. Lori, who fancied herself the female version of Scott, had been trying to convince Scott that they would make a lovely couple. Scott, all of eleven years old at the time, still hadn't made the transition from swapping baseball cards to swapping spit. Lori, meanwhile, had been queen of Spin the Bottle since third grade. It was her contention that she would make Scott her boyfriend and teach him a thing or two about what it means to be a man. Lori was a girl ahead of her time, mature in ways that were dangerous. She had grown tits before any of the girls in school. Even the sixth grade girls were jealous of Lori's bulging shirt. Lori had a habit of wearing her coat open wide even when it was freezing out. She wore shirts that accentuated her womanhood and whispers around the fourth grade were that Lori had even gotten her period already. She was a woman. A woman! And it was only right that a woman had a man and Scott, who had the faintest hint of facial hair and whose voice was already changing, was the prime candidate.

So we headed over toward's Scott's house. On the way there, Lori lectured us about the caroling protocol. She would ring the bell. She would stand in front. She would sing all the key verses to Rudolph, while we did the background vocals. We were about to fight her on all issues, but Gloria silenced us with a glare. Whatever. We'd just let Lori have her way, collect a few quarters and make the mad dash across the forbidden street to 7-11, now that we were no longer welcome at Murray's.

What happened next was really Lori's fault. She would not shut up. She kept going on about how she deserves to be Scott's girlfriend, that she was the prettiest and most mature girl in the school, that her voice was so much better than all of ours and we were just kids, after all (Lori had been left back in first grade, so she was a whole. year. older. than all of us, except Gloria).

We had tired of Lori. We had tired of trudging in slush that had now formed into some sort of icy glue that wouldn't let go of our boots. We were cold and hungry and I could swear I heard my mother calling me. But I walked on.

We got to Scott's house and, according to plan, Lori - her coat unbuttoned to reveal a tight, pale green, fake cashmere sweater - rang the bell. Scott's mother answered the door and we immediately burst into the first chorus of Rudolph. Lori whirled around and threw a look of burning rage our way. She whispered through clenched teeth, "I told you not to sing except for the background. And we are supposed to be singing for Scott. Not his stupid mother." We backed off and Lori turned on her sweet voice and asked Scott's mom to fetch her son. I heard the boys behind me giggling and whispering and when I turned to see what they were up to, Steve just held a finger to his lips. Something was up. Judging from the laughter coming from the back of our group, it was going to be good.

Finally, Scott came to the door. Lori's eyes met his and she gave him a sultry (at least a twelve year old version of sultry) smile. She launched right into her solo effort.

Rudolph the red nosed reindeer...

Each word, each syllable was sung in a throaty whisper and I just know that Lori was imagining herself in a slinky white dress, singing birthday wishes to the president. It was Christmas carol porn.

We were meant to sing the backing vocals; words that had been made up and inserted over the ages to give the song a funny (to a kid, anyhow) edge.

Lori: Had a very shiny nose
Us: Like a lightbulb!
Lori: And if you ever saw it, you would even say it glows
Us: Like Pepsodent!

I had no idea what that meant. Does Pepsodent glow? No matter, the lore of the added verses had been passed down from grade to grade and we had to do our part to carry on the tradition, even if it made no sense to us.

And on the song went, Lori doing her best Marilyn Monroe, the rest of us shouting the added lyrics in unison in a terrible cacophony of missed notes and Lori turning to glare at us every time. Finally, the last verse. Lori puffed her chest out a bit more, making sure that Scott noticed the fine, shapely lumps emerging from her sweater. She had her right hand on her hip and she used her left hand to keep flipping her hair. Her hips swayed as she sang. The combination of the tits, the hair, the hips and the swaying were, I suppose, supposed to be sexy in a twelve year old way, but made her look like more like a spazz who had to pee really bad.

Rudolph the red nose reindeer, you'll. Go. Down. In. Hist-or-y. All breathy and teasing. That's where we were supposed to chime in with LIKE COLUMBUS! and get a nice round of applause. But during the "reindeer games" verse, the instructions came from the back to the front. No one was supposed to say the Columbus line. Everyone just stay silent. I shrugged and went along with the game.

Lori: Rudolph the red nose reindeer, you'll. Go. Down. In. Hist-or-y.....

Silence, save for a few stifled giggles from the rear of the chorus. Lori pulled the flaps of her jacket tight, turned on her heels and went running down the steps. Scott looked rather amused, while his mother looked a bit horrified. The rest of us just stood there, feeling rather awkward. As Lori maneuvered her way around us trying to high tail it out of Scott's yard, she tripped over a cord that was haphazardly strung around a hedge at the end of Scott's walk. She fell to the ground, pulling some of the lights from the bush down with her. And there she lay until Gloria helped her to feet, face down in the snow and silhouetted by a dozen or so big, colored lights.

I knew right then that this was the end of many things - our caroling for candy scheme; our otherwise tight knit group of misfits; Lori's plans for to be queen to Scott's playground king. It also meant the end of the lumps under Lori's sweater, as everyone within five miles of our school would find out in no less than 24 hours that Lori's tits were no more than artistically folded socks.

We didn't see Lori for many days after that, as she chose to sequester herself in her bedroom, with only visits from a revenge-plotting Gloria to cheer her up. I heard from Lori's brother - who was part of the "Lori stuffs" chorus, that his sister burst into tears when their grandmother gave her socks for Christmas.

Perhaps now you can see why I hold dear the tradition of oversized, colored lights. Nostalgia for the good old days, when we brought a queen-sized ego down to jester size. Every time I see a house all lit up with the colors of 60's suburbia Christmas, I can't help but think of Lori, laying on the ground like a forlorn toy from Misfit Island.

Good times, good times.

November 28, 2004

Fiction for Charity II

For more info on why/how I'm writing fiction in exchange for donations to Spirit of America, see here. This one is for Gabe, whose picture I edited a bit so as not to splash his family across this site. Also, see notes at the end of the story. My first Fiction for Charity story is here (other fiction here).



The dream and aftermath are always the same; a field of sorts, a path and the sensation that heís walking down the path at a great speed. Not running, just walking very fast. He never sees himself, only whatís on the path. Leaves, rocks, strewn bottles and cigarette butts. Sometimes he will stop to examine something, never with his hands, just his eyes. Heíll look closely at a leaf and marvel at its veins, heíll look towards a pile of dirt and wonder whatís buried underneath.

Nick does not determine the direction he takes or when he stops; something - or someone - else does that for him. Heís guided, or led.

Eventually he wakes up, or tries to. He recognizes that heís in his bed, no longer walking the path. He tries to fully awaken, to sit up, but heís frozen, corpse like. His arms are heavy weights, his legs immobile. He tries to scream, even though he knows he will not be able to. Heís in some purgatory between dreaming and waking, unable to go to either place. Thereís a great pressure on his chest, as if someone is sitting on him, knees pressed into his abdomen. Heís cold. Heís terrified. He imagines he will die momentarily, even though a speckle of clarity somewhere in his mind tells him that he will awaken, he will be ok, itís just like the other times.

No, not this one. This one has something else going on. Instead of just feeling the presence of someone or something bad in the room, a bad thing that is kneeling on his chest, he sees it. His eyes open briefly, breaking from the paralysis and he sees the boy. Although the room is dark, thereís a bright glow around the child that allows him to see clearly the person who is causing him such distress. Heís smiling, the boy. No, grinning. Heís dark skinned, maybe seven years old, wearing a yellow sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head. He can see the boyís eyes, squinted in a way that gives him the appearance of laughing at a good joke. He wants to reach up to touch the boy, but he still canít move his arms. Yet Nick knows that if he were able to reach out, he would grab onto nothing more than air. Despite the weight pressing down on his chest, Nick is aware that this boy is a product of his nightmares. Heís seen him before, on the path.

For years, the path was merely an hallucination. Nick would start the journey as soon as he closed his eyes, when he was still awake and aware of the night; Letterman talking on the tv that was always on; the hum of the radiator; the passing cars. Yet he dreamed anyway, as long as his eyes were closed, and he always followed the path gladly. Nick enjoyed the mystery of what his mind was offering him.

It wasnít until recently that he began to see people instead of just leaves and garbage. They are always gathered in small bunches off the side of the path and turn their heads slightly when Nick passes. He thinks they anticipate his arrival they were talking about him as he went by. After a few weeks the figures become familiar; a few old women, wearing housecoats and kerchiefs; a young girl, maybe a teenager, who stares at him intently each time. Sometimes whispers to him and itís weeks before Nick makes out the words. Help. Each night her voice raise an octave, becomes clearer and stronger, until she is screaming at him in a voice that shakes the trees. The hag. The hag wants you. And each night, next to the girl, stands the little boy in the yellow sweatshirt, always grinning, always with that soft glow around him.

Nick is always intrigued by the people; he wants to talk to them, to find out who they areand why they haunt him. But his impetus is not his own, he is forced to move silently past them. He thinks about them during the day, when the sunlight and business of life keep him from being frightened. There are days he canít wait to get into bed, to see the people again, to find a way to talk to them and find out who this hag is and why she wants him. But always, when he gets into bed in the dark of night, Nick becomes frightened at what may lie ahead and he thinks - no, he knows - the night fear is what is keeping him from being able to confront the people on the path.

Now, the little boy had somehow walked out of Nickís dream with him and, perhaps, closed the door to the waking world before Nick could get out. He realizes there is no way to go back and no way forward. Heís stuck in a constant battle to breath, to move, while this little boy grins down at him.

Finally, Nick is able to slightly move his left hand. He clenches and unclenches his fist, as if trying to get blood to circulate in a hand that had fallen asleep. The boy vanishes. Nick swallows huge gulps of air, hungry for breath, for waking life. He checks for signs of reality - in front of him, the tv is still on and a hyperactive chef selling knives moves across the screen. To the left, his alarm clock glows. He bends to the right to reach for the water glass on his night stand and lets out a muted whine of terror.

The yellow sweatshirt boy is standing there, holding Nickís water. The boy is an overexposed photo; the glow, the never changing smile, the small spikes of hair sticking out from his hood. He holds out the water for Nick. Nick shakes his head, not in response to the boyís offer, but to try to rattle his brain into a state of clarity. The shaking wakes his brain so he can grab seconds of reality to keep his composure, a trick he learned when he was much younger and had to much to smoke; it made the hallucinations disappear, if briefly. But his head shaking does nothing here; the boy remains, holding out the glass, grinning.

Panic rises in Nickís throat and he chokes on it. The boy pushes his arm out, as if to say, here, dummy, drink the water. Nick doesnít know what else to do. It seems absurd to be taking a glass from an leftover dream apparition, but he thinks perhaps it would be just as absurd not to take it, so he reaches his hand out toward the glass. In an instant, the boyís hand is empty, the glass of water vanished and he is holding Nick by the wrist. Heís strong for a child; Nick can feel himself being pulled off the bed. The boy whispers now, in the same scratchy voice as the girl. The hag wants you. He struggles with the boy, fighting to stay on the bed and briefly he remembers the game of sharks he played with his brothers years ago. Donít let your feet off the bed, he tells himself. The sharks will get you. The boy suddenly gives up and lets go of Nickís wrist. Heís gone. Nick heaves himself back to the middle of the bed and lays motionless, afraid any movement will conjure the boy up again.

He wakes when the sun reaches into his room. He doesnít remember falling back asleep after the fight with the boy; in fact, Nick determines it was all part of a dream, despite his sore wrist. He gets out of bed, struggling to gain some composure and begin the day as if it were any other.

He goes into the kitchen, thinking only of coffee. He senses their presence before he sees them and he turns slowly, convincing himself that heís just spooked, there really isnít two people sitting at his kitchen table as if they had every right to be there. Yet, there they are. The grinning boy in the sweatshirt and the girl.

Nick doesnít know what to say. What does one say to two figures from dreams?

Sheíll come for you tonight. Herself. Not us. The girls nervously plays with her hair as she talks.

You should have come with us, says the boy. Itís always so much easier that way.

Nick turns to the coffee pot. He will never go to sleep again, he tells himself. He will stay awake forever.

The girl laughs, as if Nickís thoughts were painted above his head in a thought balloon for her to read.

Thatís what they all say, she says. See you in two or three days, Nick.

And then they were gone.

----------- I wasn't too happy with the ending here, but these are supposed to be short-short stories and I struggled with how to make the story end in a timely fashion. I may write another story for Gabe, as I'm not too thrilled with this one . I had an idea to turn this into a bigger story, with sort of a comedic touch, as Nick is forced by the hag to care for the two dream beings, as he caused them to be stuck in the waking world. The title of the story, Hypnagogic, refers to the hypnagogic state, "the state between being awake and falling asleep. For some people, this is a time of visual and auditory hallucination." I'm quite familiar with this phenomenon, as well as sleep paralysis, which Nick experiences in the story. Sleep paralysis is also referred to as Old Hag Syndrome.

the list that keeps on growing

I'm almost there. I had hoped to finish up this weekend, but I was distracted by both a book and a messy house. I'd like to address this comment (here):
Nothing before 1969? The first known organized attempt at songmaking is recorded as having happened several centuries ago. Yeah, I know. This is a personal taste list and I don't much care for Gregorian chants either, but there are some great songs from the forties and fifties not to mention some of Schubert's lieder.
If you are going to diss my list, make sure to read it carefully before you post your comments. A cursory glance through the list tells me that there are at least eight songs that are pre-1969. Another thing I will do when I annotate the list is put the years of the song. Eventually, this will all go into a sortable Excel file so you can check the list by artist, year and possibly genre. Also, as I've mentioned previousl, a simple CTRL F will keep you from suggesting songs or artists that are already on the list. I'm at 357 now and all of you pure metal fans will he happy to see that Motorhead's Ace of Spades finally makes a grand entrance. The last 100 will be the hardest. I don't want to end up filling the list with crap just to get to the end. These are all honestly songs that I love for one reason or another. It's at this point in the endeavor that I'm really going to need you to rattle my brain. The best thing to do before making a suggestion is really read the list to figure out what I like and not offer up suggestions based strictly on what you like. The conspicous absence of any Beatles or Stones songs has been noted many times already, by the way. Update: Damn. Pril made it 531!

The Da Vinci Code - A Review of Sorts

So, you ask, do you think TDC is good book? Depends on what your idea of good is. If by good, you mean that the writing is deep and mature and takes you far into the world of the book, where you feel as if you know the characters and have lived in the settings, and the phrasing of the words is sometimes so beautiful it takes your breath away, then no. If by good you mean the author manages to keep you turning the pages even though his writing is stilted and the characters are like stick figures, then yes, it was good.

Dan Brown is not an amazing writer. His books do not sell because he can perform miracles of life with a pen. I keep thinking that Brown must have one hell of a publicist for this book to garner the type of attention it did.

TDC is not the first book to take on the tenets of the Catholic church or Christianity. In fact, I think Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is far more damaging to the Christian belief system than TDC (and far, far, better written).

Where Brown succeeds is in brevity, I suppose. TDC is not a very long book and he sort of rushes through every aspect of the story, never stopping too long on one subject enough to make it a treatise which, I suppose, would turn off readers looking for a page turner.

Brown's characters elicit no sympathy from this reader. They were hollow, wooden puppets, held up - barely - by the strings of Brown's flimsy plot devices. In fact, the only character I liked - the grandfather - spends 99% of the book dead. Most of the characters were absolute cliches and Brown often resorted to phrasing that appeared to come off of bumper stickers.

Yet, I read the book in a few scattered hours. It was intriguing, but not for the storyline. Instead, it was Brown's injected conspiracy theories that kept me interested. I wonder what his motives were for writing the book; it appears to me that he wanted less to write a good thriller than he wanted to use the novel as a venue to tell people that he thinks the history of Christianity is a farce.

I see TDC as nothing more than a piece of fiction interspersed with Brown's view of reality, vis a vis the Catholic church and the history of Christ. He presents his material in such a way that people who take affront to any attack on the church will view Brown's material as heresy, rather than the rantings of a man with an agenda. I'm almost amused by those who have taken the book so seriously that they rushed to debunk it. How do you debunk fiction? How do you debunk a man's opinion? Granted, he used real agencies - The Vatican, Opus Dei - in a disparaging way, but how many books out there use other real life organizations in fiction? It's only because Brown used TDC to put a puncture wound in the faith of some that the book was taken so literally by many.

The best thing I can say about the book is that it piqued my interest in many subjects, among them Da Vinci himself, the classic artwork referenced in the novel and the mystery of the Grail. If TDC acts as a stepping stone for people, myself included, to educate themselves in areas that were previously unknown to them, then that's a good thing. However, I don't think that was Brown's intention, nor do I think that the masses who have staged a war against the book are doing; they are fighting against one man's fictional concept of their belief system, which seems like a vast waste of energy. If anyone comes out of reading TDC having their faith shaken, then I would suggest that their faith was not too strong to begin with.

As a novel, TDC is pedestrian. The plot is thin, the codes are easily seen by the reader before the characters break them, the plot twists are either telegraphed or inconceivable to the point of absurdity and the ending is contrived. It's a page turner only because Brown is a master manipulator; he drags you in with theories and near blasphemies that make you think, but he never puts these things to great use. Instead, you end up turning the page just to see how the damn thing ends. As one who grew up with a love for cryptograms, Encyclopedia Brown, logic puzzles and adventure games, I felt let down by the book; it could have offered me so much more than it did.

I didn't turn the last page with the satisfaction that I normally get when I finish a book. Instead, I was left wondering what Dan Brown's real motivation is. Which made me feel a bit used, as a reader.

Kudos to Brown for forcing me to educate myself on Da Vinci, the arts and the history of the mysterious grail. But thumbs down to him for writing such tripe and passing it off as history.

November 27, 2004

Tacky Christmas 2004

Thanksgiving is now long gone, which means it is time to get started in earnest on the third annual Christmas Decoration Hell thing. As I predicted, my neighbors tore down their inflatable turkey not long after the Thanksgiving dishes were cleared. In fact, I think they dismantled the whole Thanksgiving display on their lawn in between the meal and dessert, then spent all day yesterday putting together their Christmas display. Sure enough, as soon as the first hint of darkness showed last night, the switch was hit and the house lit up like, well, Christmas. My neighbors to the left joined in with a white light display and several houses down, an lighted parade of inflatable characters graced the lawn. This is our first year as homeowners. We are very excited to decorate for the holidays and I'm anxiously looking at the clock wondering if it's too late to wake up my husband and brother-in-law so they can get started with the lights (it is). I have a feeling that my excitement at being able to decorate my own home will cause me to break some of my own rules and regulations. So be it. I'll deal with the consequences, which will be to put a photo of my own house in the Christmas Hell archives. It's time to get the cameras out, kids. Read the rules in the link above and start turning your neighbors in to the tacky decoration police (that would be me). I'll be sharing my photos with fellow Long Islander and Tacky Christmas guru Matt over at Uglychristmaslights.com. To get you started in the spirit of the cause, here's the first two stories I found for the 2004 season that will serve to warn everyone what engaging in tacky decorating will bring about. Here we have our first entry in this year's contest: Naughty Santa. 041126_naughtysanta.JPG Latham, NY:
The decoration turned a lot of heads Friday morning. Several drivers cruising by Sebastian's on Troy-Schenectady Road couldn't stop staring. A female doll, wearing a T-shirt that says 'I've been naughty,' stands right in front of an inflatable Santa Clause.
Apparently the good folks of Latham don't like to mix sexual innuendos and Christmas. I can't say I blame them. I'm calling bad form here. And from California:
For six years, Alan and Bonnie Aerts transformed their Silicon Valley home into a Christmas wonderland, complete with surfing Santa, jumbo candy canes and a carol-singing chorus of mannequins.
$150,000 worth of lights, which led to a breaking of this rule: 6. A line of cars rolls down the block from December 1st until New Years, turning your neighborhood into a tourist attraction.
This year, though, the merry menagerie stayed indoors. Instead, on the manicured lawn outside the couple's Tudor mansion stands a single tiding: a 10-foot-tall Grinch with green fuzz, rotting teeth, and beet-red eyeballs. The Aertses erected the smirking giant to protest the couple across the street ó 16-year residents Le and Susan Nguyen, who initiated complaints to city officials that the display was turning the quiet neighborhood into a Disneyesque nightmare.
While I rail against overdone Christmas displays, I think the fun lies in actually looking at and documenting the stuff. I would never go so far as to complain to authorities about a neighbor's display. I say kudos to the Aertses for the clever Grinch decoration. Send all tips (whether they be photos of your own or articles found on the net) to karlrovesbrainATgmailDOTcom.

DaVinci, Grade School Mystery Novels and Grues*

The reason I asked about Da Vinci Code is this - I know many people who have read the book. Some view the story as facts wrapped around a neat little fictional tale. Some have read the book and were astounded at the things they didn't know. I know a few people who have questioned everything they knew about their faith after reading The Da Vinci Code. So far - and I'm about halfway through - I have to say that as far as facts go, there are definitely things I'm learning. I've had to run to the computer a few times run Google checks on a few items. For instance, I had no idea that Opus Dei really exists. I know very little about the lives and times of some very famous artists (and, as always, I will obsess about the little things I learn within books; reading biographies of every single person mentioned). As far as the religion aspect, I guess I'm not shocked by anything I've read so far. Mostly because it's hard to tell where Brown's fiction ends and his knowledge of facts begin, but also because I have an inherent distrust of organized religion. Treacher points out in the comments below that the book reads like an Infocom game, which is true to an extent. About fifteen chapters in, I was struck at how much it reminded me of a series of books I read when I was younger, though for the life of me I cannot remember the titles. They were books about three siblings who often stayed at their grandparent's farm over summer vacations, where they always ended up solving one mystery or another. The cool thing about the books (cool to a little kid, I suppose) was how the author wrote out the clues on the pages just the way the kids saw them so you could try to figure it out as well. One story had something to do with an attic. One took place out in the woods. Anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? Keep in mind this was in the mid to late 60's that I would have read the books. Anyhow, that's what The Da Vinci Code reminds me of thus far; half computer adventure game and half grade school mystery book. That's not to say I'm not enjoying it; sometimes an easy read is welcome. And I think I will take in enough of Brown's fact-based lessons in the book to gather reading material to last me through the winter. I suppose it's the religion issue throughout the story so far that I find most compelling. More on that later, but I'm still interested in any thoughts you have. *ok, there were no grues here, but I can't mention adventure games without referring to grues. Update: I found the children's books! They were by Peggy Parish. The one I was specifically thinking of was Clues in the Woods. Now I'm going to have to buy them all. For nostalgia, of course.

November 26, 2004

Thinking in PHI, for the moment

I've been reading The DaVinci Code. If you read it, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the book and all it contains. I'll give my thoughts when I finish it, but I'm really interested in knowing what you all think.

Labor of Love, Still Going Strong

It is my goal that I will remove the "work in progress" line from that image before this weekend is over. I'm up to 329 and still taking suggestions. Thanks for the hundreds of suggestions thus far. I've used many of them, even if your songs just reminded me of something else I thought she be on the list. Please, for the love of jeebus, stop suggesting Creed. It's just not gonna happen. And stop dissing the Bay City Rollers.

Gooses! Geeses!

As you probably know, today is Buy Nothing Day. As you probably also know, I am a consumer whore who believes that it is for the greater good of society and our economy that we engage in mass consumption of overpriced toys, games, clothing, etc. So I hereby declare my anti-holiday to Buy Nothing Day: Buy Me A Golden Goose Day (BMAGGD), dedicated to the idol of consumer whores everywhere, Veruca Salt. Veruca wanted the world and she wanted it now. Of course, she had her daddy to buy all the goods for her and most of us aren't that fortunate to be spoiled like that. But, no matter. We can still take part in BMAGGD. Even if we buy just one thing each, we will be doing our part to make sure that the cash registers keep ringing and the factories, marketing agencies, and department stores stay in business. Let's face it, we all want the world. We all want to lock it all up in our pocket. Me, I want mindless junk. Maybe you want a pony. Pass your holiday wish list around today. Let your loved ones know that you fully expect them to participate in this holiday in the name of the much loved Veruca Salt. And if they dismiss you as some kind of lunatic, cross them off your holiday list and go spend the money you would have spent on their gift on yourself. Do it for Veruca. Happy Buy Me A Golden Goose Day. Update: It should be noted that I physically hate shopping at any time of year and it will be a cold day in hell before you catch me in any kind of store on Black Friday. However, I will be spending my day internet shopping. Of course, some people think that Christmas is Full of Crap, anyhow.

all that you can leave behind

The piece below is nothing but a long introspection of the past year and the self realization that came with looking back at the things I've written in the past twelve months. It is basically a confessional to myself about several things and was written and published as part of a penance I put upon myself in my effort to make steps towards change. It might be of interest to you, as it has everything to do with blogging and what's taken place here in recent months. It's long, it's self indulgent. That's why the entire post is below the fold. You've been warned. Thanksgiving has always been, to me, a marker of sorts. While the calendar says winter doesn't start until December, in my mind the season is ushered in on Thanksgiving evening, as soon as the leftovers are wrapped up and the last piece of silverware is washed. As if on cue, the weather cooperated yesterday. The morning still had hints of fall; after a downpour the sun came out and the kids on the block swarmed around the basketball hoop, all coatless and carefree. By the time we got home from my parents' last night, we had grudgingly turned on the heat and commenced with cursing the cold. Thanksgiving has become, in the past six years, my year-end measurement. I met my husband on Thanksgiving evening of 1998, so it's only natural that I would spend some time each year after the turkey and stuffing to reflect. Some people reflect in December; me, I like to get a jump start on the introspection. It's easy to look back on the year past when you keep a weblog. I don't have to wrack my brain wondering if I made any mistakes or hurt anyone or behaved badly because it's all right here in black and white, sealed forever on the hard drives of thousands. I guess that's the price one pays for running an emotion-based blog, which I do. Some bloggers write from a fact-based or opinion-based view; most of what I write is emotional reaction to the world around me. It's just the way I am, the way I've always been. I react to everything with feeling. Most of my decisions, my choices, my actions are based on my emotions. No, not a great way to live, but it's who I am. So last night, after waking from the food coma and noticing that many of my neighbors had turned on their Christmas lights, I went into automatic reflection mode. And I read a good portion of what I've written here over the past year. Talk about self discovery. When I was done reading, I was left the feeling like I looked in the mirror and saw that I was covered in thousands of blemishes. It was an ugly year, to put it mildly. I suddenly found myself faced with the weird feeling of losing all respect for myself. I see a year's worth of words that were filled with such hatred and anger that I barely recognized the person that exists in this particular space. It's not that may anger wasn't real. It certainly was. But the way in which I expressed some of that anger and the manufactured hate that flows through my words made me question why I wrote half of what I did. Why did I actively seek out those things which I knew would anger me? Why did I engage in such vitriol and mouth-foaming reactions when most of it was not only completely unnecessary, but only served to fuel whatever negative emotions I was dredging up by reading things I knew would make me mad? I'm not saying I should have tuned out from the world, but did I really need to make matters worse for myself by digging deeper than necessary, or saying more words than situations warranted? A long, restless night of thinking gave me the answers to those questions and, trust me, they are not answers I am happy with. But if I spent the better part of a year becoming a hateful, antagonistic creep, then I would do best - for myself, anyhow, to come clean about what led me to become that way. People are driven by different things in life. Some of us are driven by our need for acceptance. I've been that way since I was young and I suppose it's what will always be the driving force behind the things I do. Old dog, new tricks, etc. I know that some of the less stellar things I did in my youth can be attributed to my need to be accepted by people, even if those people were not exactly the kind of company one wants to keep. A pat on the back for a questionable act was far better than no pats on the back at all. I've carried that need for acceptance on into adulthood, to a lesser extent. I managed to run a pretty successful weblog for nearly three years without the histrionics or hate, so why did I choose to go that route now? Well, it starts with one little instance and it sort of builds up. A few accolades for a well written, yet vitriolic post, a few extra hits, a few more readers. So you do it again to see if you can repeat that success. Sure enough, you can. That shit sells, man. My hits were going through the roof. I had a nice, long adstrip. I was quoted in newspapers. CNN was calling my house. I was finally being accepted. But accepted as what? I never did stop to think about that. Well, I did briefly, a few times. See, that's the problem. I knew that it was my raw anger and seething hatred that was getting all the blog press. I knew that people showed up in droves for the posts that were written in the depths of rage. Again, my anger was definitely real. My opinions on these subjects were completely honest. But it's the fact that I reached for these subjects, that I actively sought out those things that would make my blood boil and my hands shake that makes it now seem so manipulative. Why else would I swim through the sewers of Indymedia or Democrtatic Underground? Why else would I care what Ted Rall, a festering sore on the face of humanity but an insignificant microbe in the large scheme of things, have to say? I cared because ten thousand people or more a day did. I cared because people liked this stuff, they turned out in droves for it. And even though it made me sick to read what I was reading, even though the emotional energy it took to write some of these posts left me tired and cranky for the rest of the day, I did it anyhow. I was totally guilty of doing what I accused many of my adversaries of doing. I was writing about what I was against, not what I was for. I was writing with long, broad strokes. I was engaging in the worst of unsocial discourse. And I was fueling ten thousand people a day while I was doing it. I look back at some of this and I laugh when I see that I accused some of those people of being shrill and unhinged when clearly, half of what I wrote could lead the same thing to be said about me. There are definitely a lot of posts within the last year I'm proud of. But they are far outweighed by the damage I did to my own sense of self-respect. I know I also lost some friends over this. Not the people who came right out and said they hated my politics so they hated me; that's another issue. But there are some people I was pretty good friends with who just drifted. Or, more like slowly backed away from the emerging car wreck that I was becoming. We just lost touch and I know damn well why. And I never made the attempt to initiate contact with these people because subconsciously I knew that I was being a complete asshole. I alluded to it several times, I spent a few days writing about how I was tired of the hate and tired of the anger, yet I kept right on keeping on because writing about anything else wouldn't bring nearly the response. Let's face it, about 90% of bloggers crave attention. While I'm being completely honest here, I may as well admit that I'm just as much an attention whore as the 16 year old pouting seductively on her webcam. It's not an easy thing for me to sit here and admit to all of you that half of what I wrote over the past year was born out of manufactured hate. There was no need to go to DU every day looking for the most absurd thing on there. There was no need to say a thousand times in different ways how much I hate Ted Rall. I beat the dead horses because dead horses make for good ratings. And all those hits and ads and reporters and comments meant that I was accepted somewhere as something. But what? The greatest sewer of venom in the blogosphere? The woman who could alienate a whole circle of people with just one paragraph? Talk about superpowers. I could write ten words and send ten people scurrying to their keyboards to say how insane I was and ten people scurrying in the other direction to say how right I was. Well, there's something to put on my life resume. I can make people scurry to weblogs! I have the power! I did as much to contribute to the air of animosity that existed around these parts as Oliver Wilis or Kos or anyone else I accused of being divisive. Instead of engaging in civil discourse like I implored everyone else to do, I coarsened the conversation and made it nearly impossible to have an intelligent discussion about anything because I so loaded down my posts with negativity, hate and anger that anyone responding from the other side would automatically start out on the defensive. Sure, there were times when I tried to discuss things rationally, but they were far and few between and certainly didn't garner as much attention as the profane posts. All these things are what I'm leaving behind by not dealing with the politics anymore. I'm over the whole acceptance thing because, just like when I was fourteen and drank fifteen shots of Sambuca to gain acceptance, it has left me feeling sick to my stomach. And in much the same way that to this day I can't look at a bottle of Sambuca without heaving, I will not be able to look back at a year's worth of my writing without feeling sick. I really have no one to apologize to but myself. Self-awareness isn't exactly an apology, but it's a start. Admitting that I am not proud nor particularly pleased with the way I behaved, especially in recent months, is my first step towards making peace with myself. And letting go of that need for acceptance is another step which I think I took already. I stopped caring about the hits or the comments. I stopped caring about figuring out ways to draw people in. It wasn't all it was cracked up to be, I'll tell you that. What I gained in readership or ad revenue was not worth the respect I lost for myself.

November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

thanks2004.jpg Nothing says Thanksgiving like Charlie Brown missing the ball again. Damn Lucy. Damn her to hell! To all my U.S. readers, have a safe and happy holiday. Eat, drink, enjoy some football and try to keep the family dysfunctions to a minimum. Special thanks to all of these people, past and present. Thanks once again to you, my readers, for being a daily part of my life, for better or worse. Thanks to my family for everything. Thanks to my friends for listening, talking and making me laugh. Thank you, America. I am most fortunate to live in a country that allows me to indulge in pursuit in happiness freely; a country that allows me the freedoms to live, love, learn and laugh without fear. I'd like to get an early start on my annual holiday tradition of resolving differences with people I love, or reconciling with those I have strayed from. You know who you are. I'm making the first move. I'd also like to thank those who, over the past year, have played Lucy to my Charlie Brown. I've learned a bit about humility and perserverence. Just keep in mind that some day, I will kick that ball. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. [I added a timely song to the list today]

November 24, 2004

thanks is a funny word if you say it enough times

I've made it to 310. I'm anxious to start annotating this monster. Diving into this project has allowed me to put out of my mind other things that I just don't feel like dealing with at the moment. On that note, I'd like to thank (apropos of the holiday) those who have hit the tip jar recently. You have no idea how much every single donation is needed right now. It's just been that kind of month. Months, even. I also want to take the time to thank you, my dear readers who are like my extended dysfunctional family. I usually make a fun list of the things I'm thankful for - not the usual friends and family things, but the under appreciated things in life like beer and oddly enjoyable websites. I'll get to that later, as well as the rest of the Thanskgiving advice questions. Right now I'm leaving work early so I can go home and swallow half a bottle of Excedrin Migraine. I thank the miserable weather for this brain-smashing headache.

Thanksgiving Advice, Part III: No Tofu, No Peace!

[see here for explanation and legal disclaimer]
turkey5.gifShawn asks: Should Drew Henson or Vinny Testaverde start against the Bears on Thanksgiving Day?
Well, the answer lady is too late on this one, as it has already been determined that Drew will start. You know, when your team has to choose between a rookie whose only TD pass was a one yarder and a 41 year old near has-been with a sore shoulder, it's time to start questioning your team loyalty.
turkey5.gifMeep asks: Is it okay to host a turkey-less Thanksgiving? One of these years, I'd like to host Thanksgiving, and I hate cooking turkey. Besides, my husband is a vegetarian. An all-vegetarian thanksgiving? If we've got enough alcohol, do you think that would be okay? We brew our own beer.
A vegetarian Thanksgiving is like Christmas without Santa Claus. Not that I'm implying that turkey is a fictional image which embodies the secular takeover of a religious holiday. Not at all. However, turkey does play a vital, important role in all Thanksgiving feasts. Making a turkey out of wheatmeat or tofu would be sacreligous, if eating meat were a religion, which it is to some of us. I also have a question. The tofu turkey linked above is shaped like, well, a turkey. Not a carcass that comes out of a normal, meat-eating household oven on Thanksgiving day. No, it's shaped like a live, breathing turkey, with a beak and eyes and that long thing that hangs down its neck. Wouldn't a vegetarian feel bad about digging his fork into that bird? The plaintive eyes and sad turkey smile might not be real, but surely the vegan conscience would not let one stab even a tofu turkey in the heart. Sort of makes my longing to devour the Turkey Named Adam not such a bad thing, eh? I think if I ever was in a home where they were serving a tofu turkey that was molded to look like the real thing, I would hide a little microchip in there somewhere so when anyone went to take a stab at the tofu bird, it would let out a cry. Nooooo, please don't eat me! You bastard! Anyhow, I think our meat eating ancestors would be ashamed to know that a thing like tofu turkey exists. But you go ahead and make it. Just don't say I didn't warn you when the ghosts of a thousand indians and pilgrims make their way into your bedroom on Thanksgiving night and pelt you with haunted animal carcasses. That's gotta smell really bad. Happy Thanksgiving. And enjoy that tofurky jurky.

thanks and giving

A few things before I get down to the business of answering the Thanksgiving questions before the holiday actually gets here. First, thanks to everyone who has donated to the Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge through ASV. I'm not starting with the heavy fundraising push until December 1st, but there's already over $300 in the Spirit of America till under this name, so thank you. If you'd like to collect the piece of fiction I promised in return for your donation, please follow the instructions here. Second: I think I started something with the 500 songs list. Tom at Media Drop, Pril and Fredo are also compiling their own. But remember, kids. Mine is going to be annotated! And illustrated! Yea, that's the ticket! Keep the suggestions coming, but one thing: if you're going to make a whole list of suggested songs, it probably would serve you well to actually read the list first so you save yourself the time of writing down ten tunes that are already there. And, while I have being thankful on the brain, I'd like to thank those of you who have chosen to stick around even though I've stopped the political/news blogging. You make up about half of my former readership, but you're twice the fun and I'm really enjoying blogging for the first time in a while. So thanks for being here.

November 23, 2004

500 songs: A Labor of Love

I'm up to 256 songs in the top 500. Halfway there and I haven't even broken a sweat yet. And, when I'm finished making the list, I'm going to annotate it with a little blurb about each song and include lots of delicious links. It will be a tour de force, I tell you. And it will mean nothing to nobody but me. I've been getting a lot of email on this (finally, email I enjoy reading!) and I need to lay down a few basic facts here: * Stairway to Heaven will not be making an appearance. * Ditto anything by Creed or Nickelback. * I hate In The Ghetto. What are you people thinking? * I'm trying to limit myself to no more than three songs by any artist. * Poison? Not on your life. * I already told you, I don't like the Beatles. * Ditto for The Eagles. * Yes, there's a lot of recent stuff on the list. Music wasn't only made pre 1990, people. More if I think of it, but that's about it. Still taking suggestions, though you can put them here rather than on the earlier post. I've added many of your suggestion throughout the list. Sometimes the brain needs to be rattled. Halfway there. And then the real work of annotating the list begins. Girl's gotta have a hobby, I guess. Update: I was never a big Stones fan, either.

[insert daddy joke]

Report: Yankees to offer Pedro $50 million. I feel like I need to wash my hands repeatedly after seeing that headline. (I should note to the unaware that I'm a Yankee fan) Update: not related, but bound to make me feel better in some way.

Fiction Corner: SoA Request

This one goes out by request to an anonymous-remaining person who donated to Spirit of America in the name of ASV (see here for details on that) and, for her kindness, gets a crappy piece of short fiction (500 words or less) to go with the picture she picked out (see details for that here). So, someone gets the losing end of the bargain here.

Anyhow, the picture is once again by my husband. The fiction is by me. Enjoy, or not.

The Shakes

Your room is always dark. Even when I turn the switch on, the shade is so heavy and the bulb so dim that the lamp only makes shadows of everything.

I run my finger along the dust on your desk. I hold back the urge to scrawl my name in your dirt. The dust clings to my pinky and I wipe it on your shirt, the one you were wearing the last time I saw you. It hangs on the bedpost like a reminder, a ghost of you with loose arms and wrinkles and a fading marker stain on the right sleeve.

Your bed is cold and it sinks down in the middle. I sit on it like the captain of a boat, looking straight ahead for signs of land but I see only myself staring back through your streaky mirror. I rock back and forth, arms folded inside themselves, legs crossed, a piece of hair caught on my dry lip. I touch your pillow, examine its drool stains.

I imagine that youíre here and weíre talking about diamond rings and forever. You tuck my hair behind my ear, annoyed that it ends up in my mouth all the time. I promise to get a hair cut. You promise to introduce me to your friends. I stop imagining because it makes me feel like someone kicked me in my side.

I touch the snowglobe on your desk, the one with the taxicabs and skyscrapers and synthetic snow falling down on plastic people. I shake it and shake it and shake it and the snow falls and falls and no matter how hard I shake, the little people always smile and the little taxi never goes anywhere.

I crawl back into your bed and remember the way it felt to have your arm draped across me all night. I remember how the bottom of your feet were all cracked and hard and how you sometimes laughed in your sleep. I try to feel it, try to will myself to feel the weight of your arm on my stomach, to hear the dry whisper of your last good night.

Itís starting to snow now, light puffs of white slapping against the window. I imagine Iím in a snowglobe and Iím always smiling and the clock never moves and the headlights never appear outside the window, making me tumble from the bed and towards the back door like someone just shook my world.

All the text herein is copyright © 2004 Michele Catalano. All rights reserved. All art herein is copyright © 2004 Justin Brejwo. All rights reserved.

Previous fiction here.

Thanksgiving Advice, Part II

[see here for explanation and legal disclaimer] turkey5.gifBlowing off the family Thanksgiving feast in favor of Christmas shopping at K-Mart. Mortal or venial sin? ---perletwo I would have to say it's a venial sin, in that it could be forgiven and you could always make it up to your family later on, especially if when you were at K-Mart, you spent a shitload of money on them. However, if you were gunning for mortal sin (holidays are the perfect time to commit yourself to going to hell), you could do your shopping online and purchase some of these for your favorite family members (so very NSFW). Not only will you probably give a few relatives deathly heart attacks, but you'll also make the baby Jesus cry and, as we all know, that's a mortal sin. Happy Thanksgiving and stick the venial variety. ------ turkey5.gifLet's say that you murdered a turkey in cold blood. It was sleeping with your wife or it stole your wallet, or maybe you had a business partnership with it and they tried to skip to Rio with your money. Can you rightfully murder that turkey and serve it as a Thanksgiving centerpiece without facing jail time? After all, it's a turkey, right? ---Laurence Simon Well, does the turkey look like this (pops up)? Because then it would be totally justified. You wouldn't even have to worry about the whole venial/mortal sin thing. I know, you're Jewish, but you've got to keep track of these things just in case. Oh, and if your wife is sleeping with a turkey, maybe you shouldn't be so quick to delete all the penis enhancing spam mail. Just saying. By the way, I'm up to 221 songs and I've prettied up the page a bit.

Thanksgiving Advice, Part I

The doctor is in. Not this Dr. Nor this one. It is just I, Dr. Turkey, here to solve all of your Thanksgiving dilemmas, or at least dismiss them with a sarcastic phrase or two. Legal notice: I am not a real doctor. I am not an expert on Thanksgiving. I don't even know how to cook a turkey and taking relationship advice from me is like taking grooming advice from Jack Black. By reading the below responses and by acting upon the advice given therein, you release me of any harm or fowl (get it? fowl?) done to you or your loved ones on the basis of anything written here. Not responsible for broken marriages or soiled couches. May cause heartburn, projectile vomiting or bouts of severe loneliness. Parental guidance suggested. The letters asking for advice can all be found here. turkey5.gifI have to go to my girlfriend's sister's in-laws' house for some huge get-together. It's in Boca Raton, half of the people are successful real estate agents and I harbor secret resentment for rich people. Her parents don't like me and I don't like them. Come to think of it, I'm not sure how much I like my girlfriend right now. What should I wear? --Hubris So, you name yourself a word meaning overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance and then you come to me for advice on what to wear? If you had the cajones your name implies, you would go to that get-together, making your entrance buck naked, riding a wolverine. If these people don't like you already, what do you have to lose? Hopefully, your girlfriend will find your bareback wolverine riding erotic and you will overcome your differences, right there on the floor of some adobe and stucco Boca Raton home. Think about letting the wolverine join in. Many a relationship has been saved through the sexual use of animals. And, hey, maybe you'll give a few real estate agents a heart attack in the process. Happy Thanksgiving and let me know how it all works out. ------------- turkey5.gif[I]s it wrong to dump someone because they've let themselves go and the thought of physical intimacy with them is not arousing, exciting...or all that intimate now that I think about it. --Shank As I already mentioned to you, Shank, these were supposed to be Thanksgiving related questions. However, you seem to be a bit of a turkey yourself, so I'll answer this one. First of all, do you mean she let herself go in the Kirstie Alley sense or in the Britney sense? Because there's a difference between turning into a beached whale and putting on a few needed pounds. And are we talking just weight here or has she stopped showering, grown some facial hair or taken to wearing mu mus? Here's what you do: Invite her over for Thanksgiving. Then launch into a long, passionate rant about how the holiday season has become just a bloated, ugly vision of its former self. Tell her that you used to love the intimate feel of the holidays and the beauty that existed within. And now, well, you feel like you have no connection with Thanksgiving or Christmas because they've lost their beauty and glamour. You don't want to slide your presents under the tree, so to speak. Or, umm, you don't want to stuff the turkey. If she doesn't get the analogy then just be blunt. Tell her she's fat, ugly and you're no longer attracted to her even though she's the same person on the inside that she always was. Then run real fast as she chases you through the house with a carving knife. Happy Thanksgiving, and think about lowering your expectations. Two down, many more to go.

November 22, 2004


I made it to 200 songs!. Only 300 to go. I am going to do this. Taking suggestions here. Also: So far $172 has been raised for the Friends of Iraq blogger challenge in the name of this here blog. I thank everyone who donated so far and I would like to remind those people that you do get something in return - details on your "reward" are here. Details on the challenge are here.

no time for love, dr. jones: thanksgiving advice, year two

I just realized that Thanksgiving is three days away. I made a mental note to myself last week to repeat the quite successful Thanksgiving advice column from last year. Note to self: notes to self often go unremembered. I was only reminded of said idea when I did a Google search on my site for Thanksgiving. As I was looking for turkey posts to repeat. So, anyhow, once again I open up the blog lines for your pressing Thanskgiving questions. Last year we covered such topics as football, Godzilla, commies, valium and setting grandmas on fire. [commence with the exact repeat of last year's post]

taf.gifBecause I am a selfless and giving human being, and because I am wise beyond my years and becaus I really have nothing else to do the rest of the day or night except avoid cleaning the house, I have decided to devote my time to you, in order that your Thanksgiving may be the best Thanksgiving possible.

I am opening up the phone lines (ok, comment lines) for your Thanksgiving questions. Ok, so I don't know how to baste a turkey and I'm not sure what side of the dish your salad fork goes on, but I am chock full of insight and knowledge when it comes to all things family.

If you have any questions about spending time with relatives - for instance, Is it polite to use grandpa's wheelchair to carry the dirty dishes into the kitchen, or Is it ok to have sex in the coat room - just ask away. I can deal with any issues concerning keeping the family peace and, conversely, adding some spice to your Thanksgiving meal (i.e, with inappropriate prayers of thanks). I also advise on how to get through a meal that tastes like crap and how to avoid taking part in the clean up activities.

The doctor is in.

Update: Forgot to mention that all questions will be answered tomorrow morning. Update again: The first answers are up!

165 and counting!

[I talk vinyl over at, of course, I Have That on Vinyl] -------------- I have made it up to 165 songs. I have set the goal of 500 for myself and, by jeebus, I am going to get there if it kills me. And I will do it without resorting to Stairway to Heaven or Seasons in the Sun. This is a personal mission now. I don't care if anyone/no one ever reads this list. I tend to get obsessive about certain things (like you didn't know that already) and this is going to be one of them. Surely, knowing me as well as you do, there must be some songs you could suggest I would put on my list? Have I bored you all to tears with this yet? Sorry. But it's all I got right now, anyhow.

165 songs, subjective greatness and a one song review

In regards to my top 500 (currently top 165) songs, someone mentioned that it was nothing more than a list of my favorite songs by a lot of bands. Not so. For instance, I don't think I've ever listened another Urge Overkill song besides Sister Havana (#112). Basically, I am making the list to prove a point - that greatest/best songs/albums lists are completely subjective and no one, especially the prigs at Rolling Stone, can profess to know what the greatest songs ever really are. What defines great, anyhow? Lyrics, music, a combination of the two? Maybe. More likely, what makes a song great to an individual is the feeling one gets when listening to it. Maybe it makes you want to grab your guitar or make out with your girlfriend. Perhaps a great song is one that reminds you of something powerful or poignant. In a case like that, the words and music are great to you, even if they aren't great in the sense that a music critic would hear them. I'm pushing myself to get to 500 songs eventually, because I know damn well there are that many songs that I know all the words to and will actually sing with a smile on my face. That, in a nutshell, makes a song great for me. Also, someone mentioned a generation gap issue. Dude, I was born in 1962. It's not a generation gap, it's a taste gap. Which makes the world go 'round, I suppose. I just laugh at people who question my taste in music when held up against my age. Was I supposed to turn in my metal albums when I reached 40 for some Gordon Lightfoot? If so, I didn't get the memo, so I'll just keep on banging my head to Slayer, thank you. In keeping with the ongoing theme of crap-filled, empty calorie posts, I'll probably review some of my favorite songs as I put them on the list, just for the hell of it and so you can see why Sister Christian works so well for me when it sucks for you. For instance. Weighing in at number 141 is Shellac's Prayer to God. Now, I'm not a huge Shellac fan. Steve Albini is one of those people who walk the fine line between genius and crap. He's done wonders with The Pixies, The Breeders, Nirvana and Helmet, but his own stuff, particularly Shellac, tends to be so minimilistac that it becomes nothing more than pretentious performance art. Shellac's Prayer to God stands out above anything else the band - or any of Albini's bands - has ever done. It's a striking, bare essence song where the music is not as important as the words or the emphatic singing. Basically, it's a song about a guy who wants two people killed, a guy and girl who, we presume, are a girl who cheated on him and the guy she cheated with. So he prays to God to have them both killed.
To the one true God above: here is my prayer - not the first you've heard, but the first I wrote. (not the first, but the others were a long time ago). There are two people here, and I want you to kill them. Her - she can go quietly, by disease or a blow to the base of her neck, where her necklaces close, where her garments come together, where I used to lay my face... That's where you oughta kill her, in that particular place.
This is all sung in a plaintive plea over staccatto guitar bursts. But it's not until the next verse that the song nails its place in my list.
Him - just fucking kill him, I don't care if it hurts. Yes I do, I want it to, fucking kill him but first make him cry like a woman, (no particular woman),
Maybe it's my dark sense of humor, I don't know. But the first time I heard this song and that one line - no particular woman - was sung, I thought, that's a genius bit of writing, there. And the song became an instant favorite. Besides that one line, I'm firm believer that you can't go wrong with murder and profanity during times of great stress. Admit it, there have been people in your life that you wanted dead at one point or another. Singing Prayer to God at the appropriate times can be great therapy. Just make sure the kiddies aren't around.

weighing in on the sports issue

And the hits keep coming. Google hits, that is. Since the horror show that was the Pacer/Pistons game on Friday night, I've gotten about 500 hits from people looking for this post, about Terry O'Reilly and Stan Jonathan's foray into the stands during a Bruins game. Well, the post isn't entirely about that; it's mostly me going on about how much I miss the fighting in hockey. That's not say I condone players going into the stands. Because that's just idiotic. Fighting in hockey is done in the context of the game. It's when a wall is breached between players and fans that things get crazy. I grew tired of the NBA several years ago, when it occurred to me that my formerly beloved Knicks were nothing more than a goon squad with massive egos and very little dignity. The rest of the NBA soon followed suit. This, sports fans, is what happens when you feed into the demanding nature of the average professional athlete. This is what happens when people are spoiled by fame and fortune, when they - from high school through college and right into the pros - are handed every single thing they want on a silver platter. The spoils of too much money and adoring fans can do amazing things to one's personality. This is also what happens when fans are too stupid to handle the responsibility that comes with purchasing a ticket to a sporting event. But that's a whole other story, isn't it? I'm sitting here laughing at so many reporters wringing their hands over the state of our society, in regards to the basketbrawl. It's the society we live in, they say. What can you expect when we are bombarded by images of war and terrorism every day, they say. It's the cult of reality television that causes people to live in an one-upmanship society, they say. bq. Blame our violent times -- the streaming images of war and terrorism on TV, the edginess of daily life -- and the continuing decline of civility. bq. [W]eíre going to hell in a handbasket sponsored by Coors Light. bq. After all, it is we as a society who applauds the moves as the kind that Detroit Pistons' center Ben Wallace made Friday night to defend his honor after being fouled by Indiana Pacers' guard Ron Artest. Wait. Maybe they are onto something here. Perhaps I shouldn't be laughing at all. The thing is, this has been going on for years and years. It is nothing new, it's just that media is so ubiquitous now - you've got the internet plus cable news pouring this stuff down the pipes 24/7 - that the fights and brawls and general misbehavior of fans gets talked to up to more of a degree than it did back in the days of Terry O'Reilly. I wonder if anyone blamed society then? Or did they just chalk it up to the general attitude of sports fans/stars? I know, the attitude sucks. You have the fans who think they own the right to heckle, goad and deride the players for the entire game and you have the athletes who think they're above being booed. As one who has attended hundreds upon hundreds of sporting events - both as a fan and an employee of one team or another - I can attest to the fact that the society that exists within an arena or stadium is quite different than the one that fans leave in the parking lot. It's a no holds barred sort of civilization where anyone - coaches, refs, opposing fans - are fair game for ridicule and sometimes physical violence. It's often ugly and it's often unreported. From the comfort of your chair or your newspaper article, you have no idea what goes on in the stands on a nightly basis. That culture, to me, has existed in sports since I was old enough to attend my first game (a ABA era Nets game at Nassau Coliseum). I think what's changed since then is the culture that exists on the playing field. Have we given athletes too much value? Maybe it is the fault of fans, specifically the ones who hero worship athletes who are undeserving of such adoration. By giving tribute to pros gone wild (see Latrell Sprewell, Bob Probert, Mike Tyson, etc.) what message do we send? Simple - as long as you put out, the masses will worship you, no matter what you do when the game is over. And the NBA, a pitiful shadow if its former glory, markets the thug attitude of its players as if this is something good. So is it any wonder these athletes walk around as if the world owes them something? Is it any wonder they develop big heads and bad attitudes? What kind of culture exists within pro sports when a multi million dollar player like Artest can ask for time off to promote his new album? I once worked in the sports administration office of a college whose Division I basketball team, at the time I worked there, was a top ranked team. I watched in amazement as the players were coddled and treated like gods. Excuses were made for bad behavior and terrible grades; infractions to the school code were overlooked. The players walked around on campus like they were kings of the world and why not? In essence, they were. Young men who are handed the world and not subjected to its rules are bound to end up thinking that they exist in a sphere above the rest of us. And then it's only a matter of time until the two spheres crash, as in the game Friday night. Of course blame lies with the fans, who overstepped an unmarked but known barrier between players and spectators. That a few fans decided to show their distaste with the Pacers through physical actions is deplorable and highlights what has been a growing problem in sports fandom - that somewhere along the line, fans have come to expect nothing less than perfection from players. One error at third base will get you mercilessly booed even if you're an All Star and the backbone of the team. You hear many fans say "I pay their salary by buying tickets and jerseys, they owe me!" I'd like to know if the bosses of these fans stand over them at work all day, heckling, cajoling and goading. I wonder how any one of these fans would react if their boss threw a beer at them. I've had beer thrown at me in Philly and rocks thrown at me in Boston. I've been jeered in Montreal and cursed at in Toronto. But this all existed within the confines of a sporting event. Once outside, away from the play of the game, the people in all the respective cities were wonderful. What is it about sports that brings out the animal in otherwise normal human beings? And what is it about being a star athlete that makes some players think they are above the rules of the land? Well, the answer to the second question is easy. The fans, the coaches, the colleges, the management, the ridiculous salaries, the star treatment by the press - they all contribute to the growing arrogance of star athletes. It doesn't help when a player is caught doing something illegal, maybe even thrown in jail, and his jerseys still sell out at the team stores. Every time I see a little kid wearing a Latrell Sprewell jersey, I want to smack the parents. So the fans and the players feed into each other's bad habits and you end up with physical confrontation. The fact that Artest - no stranger to controversy - pulled his act in the opposing arena certainly made matters worse. But is all this really a reflection on our society as a whole or is just a reflection on the culture of sports? The talking heads and writers are going crazy today reflecting on the societal norms, the breakdown of civilization, the lack of morals and manners that exist in today's reality-tv/violent video game/war-torn society. So what was going on when fans threw batteries at Reggie Jackson? What was going on when Stan Jonathon climbed into the stands? Was society to blame when Cleveland Browns fans pelted players with bottles and cups? What about when Ty Cobb beat the crap out of a fan? If violence in sports mirrors the times, as one writer put it, then the attitude of today is nothing new because this has been going on for ages. If it's just more prevalent now than before than maybe it's the leaders of professional sports that need to step back and look at where they are going wrong rather than trying to blame society as a whole. It's a whole different world inside a sports arena or stadium. It's a society of its own and people like David Stern would do well to figure out how to clean up their own houses before they ask the rest of the world to clean up theirs.

charitable blogging: SOA and STG

A few things on the board today before I get down to morning blogging. First, thank you to everyone who has donated to Spirit of America through ASV. I'm not going to make the real push for fundraising until after Thanksgiving, but if you'd like to drop a few dollars in the bucket now, by all means do it! You can find all the information you need on this SOA Blogger Challenge by clicking on the image above. I did promise something in return for those who made donations - a short-short story. So for those of you who gave yesterday - and for those who will give during this challenge - here's the deal: I like visual stimulation when I write. There are three things you can do: 1) Send me an image you would like me to use - maybe a photograph you have or an drawing you found on the internet that you like. 2) This is one I use for writing exercises: Think of a word or phrase, type into a Google image search and give me a link to the first (safe for work) image that comes up. 3) Another one I've been using (and used for this story) - go here to my husband's gallery at deviantArt and pick out a painting or photo for me to use. Just send me the name (send to karlrovesbrainATgmailDOTcom). Then all you have to do is forward to me the receipt mail from SOA, along with the image you want me to use for the story and your short-short story will appear right here (I'll also notify you when it's posted). After that, I thank you profusely for donating to SOA. Clicky here for the details if you want to join the challenge. Second important thing:
Strengthen The Good: Help Build An English Library For Teenagers In Bratislava, Slovakia. Douglas and his family are in Bratislava for a year, teaching English and American Studies to Slovakian teenagers, at a small and poor school set among the towers of a Soviet-era apartment block. They call English ďthe language of freedom and opportunityĒ Ö but they have no English-language books. So I thought we could help build a library, and have something to feel good about along the way. Got an extra copy of The Fountainhead or Old Yeller or the works of T. S. Eliot lying around?
There's a list of books Douglas is looking for to build the library at The C.S. Lewis Bilingual Gymnaziumin in Bratislava's Petrzalka district. Go to Strengthen the Good for more info, and start digging through your bookshelves. I think I'm going to take a trip to Borders today to buy a few copies of Lord of the Rings to send over.

November 21, 2004

love, love me don't

Something has come up in regards to my 500 songs post. I knew it would, eventually. It's time to address the issue. I am not a Beatles fan. I do not like the Beatles. I don't enjoy about 90% of their music. I don't like any of their solo stuff, especially Paul's. I don't particularly hate them, I just don't care for the music - save for a few songs. So, now that everyone is looking at me as if I murdered their loved one, I should probably go out on a limb and confess that I also hate Twinkies. That's another one that gets me dirty looks. I should start a support group for non-Beatles fans. And Twinkie haters. P.S. I forgot to mention that it's Dodd's fourth anniversary of blogging and he's opened up his blog for anyone to spray their graffitti on. Go tell him you love him. With Beatles lyrics. Heh.


My banner just up and disappeared. Strange, because I didn't fiddle with it at all today and it was there just a few hours ago (the last time I looked). If anyone has any clue as to what's wrong here, please let me know. Also, is anyone else's Gmail turning up nothing but an error? Stupid internets. Update: Looks like it's just me - or Firefox. The banner shows up fine in IE but not in Firefox. I didn't fool with the settings today, so I've no clue. Turns out gmail is working in IE as well. What the hell happened to my beloved Firefox??

stop, collaborate and listen: the 500 songs, my edition

I told you. It's not even the end of November and the end-of-year lists are coming at us like gunfire. Rolling Stone once again subjects us to an all-time album list, this time going for 500. Not content with just making the a pretentious list of complete albums, they've also compiled the 500 greatest songs of all time. bq. ROLLING STONE called on rock stars and leading authorities to list their fifty favorite songs, in order of preference Like I've said before, people lie when they make these lists. No one is going to admit to the editors of RS magazine that they really, really liked Who Let the Dawgs Out. Instead, they'll replace it with some incomprehensible Bob Dylan song that they know they are supposed to like. Maybe I'm just hopelessly clueless as to what makes a great song. One of my most hated songs of all time, Hotel California pops up at number 49. It's long, boring and filled with nonsense. If that's the criteria then why didn't MacArthur Park make the list? Honestly, I prefer a 500 songs list that has Jay Z's Big Pimpin as number four. Now there's a song. I was going to do a long rant here about how much I hate Rolling Stone and their lists. Instead, I'll just go ahead and make my own to prove how much better my list is. Or something like that. So, just for the hell of it, I give you my personal list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Feel free to discuss, diss, make fun or add on your own. (Half hour later) Ok, I'm only at 52 77 here. It's taking a while. So I'll put them up a little at a time and I'll use your suggestions to possibly add onto the list. Maybe we can make a list of our own to rival/compare to Bubba's. I'll also put up a radio later on with some of the songs. Update - Made it 100 so far! I think I'll stop there for now, as those leaves aren't going to rake themselves. Update 2: The list was getting too long, so I made a separate page for it. I'm up to 140. This is hard, man. I don't think I can make it to 500. 500 (maybe) favorite songs of ASV In no particular order, except in the order that they came into my head, my (eventual) 500 favorite songs. Starting with the obvious, to people who know me. 1. Night Ranger - Sister Christian 2. Nine Inch Nails - Something I Can Never Have 3. Faith No More - A Small Victory 4. Cheap Trick - Surrender 5. Toadies - Tyler 6. Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway 7. Brand New - I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light 8. Tool - Jimmy 9. Type O Negative - Black No. 1 10. Mr. Bungle - Retrovertigo 11. Stabbing Westward - I Donít Believe 12. Wu-Tang Clan - Protect Ya Neck 13. Far - Waiting for Sunday 14. Led Zeppelin - Trampled Under Foot 15. Nick Cave - Straight to You 16. U2 - Out of Control 17. Anthrax - Iím the Man 18. Smashing Pumpkins - Mayonnaise 19. John Williams - Imperial Death March 20. Beastie Boys - Paul Revere 21. Radiohead - Fake Plastic Trees 22. Penguins - Earth Angel 23. Alice in Chains - Would 24. Incubus - Certain Shade of Green 25. Cream - Sunshine of Your Love 26. David Bowie - Space Oddity 27. Foo Fighters - Hey, Johnny Park! 28. Kiss - Rock and Roll All Night 29. Van Halen - Running With the Devil 30. The Who - A Quick One While Heís Away 31. Iron Maiden - Two Minutes to Midnight 32. Faith No More - RV 33. Metallica - Battery 34. Misfits - Last Caress 35. Deep Purple - Highway Star 36. Slayer - Angel of Death 37. Pantera - Five Minutes Alone 38. Byrds - Eight Miles High 39. Black Flag - TV Party Tonight 40. Godfathers - Birth School Work Death 41. Flock of Seagulls - I Ran 42. Split Enz - I Got You 43. Vanilla Fudge - You Keep Me Hanginí On 44. Weezer - Only in Dreams 45. Pink Floyd - See Emily Play 46. Foghat - Slow Ride 47. Ice Cube - We Be Clubbiní 48. Clutch - Spacegrass 49. Yardbirds - Train Kept aí Rolliní 50. Count Five - Psychotic Reaction 51. The Jam - Down in the Tube Statio at Midnight (I canít believe thatís on the above linked list - itís possibly one of the greatest songs ever recorded and I donít know many people who know it) 52. Butthole Surfers - I Had a Dream Last Night 53. Scorpions - No One Like You 54. Def Leppard - Bringing on the Heartbreak 55. Twisted Sister - Burn in Hell 56. Neil Young - Like a Hurricane 57. Fugazi - Waiting Room 58. Graham Parker - You Canít Be Too Strong 59. Dead Milkmen - Watching Scotty Die 60. NRBQ - Me and the Boys (I have the sudden urge to launch into a ďstories from my youthĒthing every time I think of this song) 61. Down - Stone the Crow 62. Mad Season - River of Deceit 63. Candlebox - Left Behind 64. Sarah McLachlan - Possession (the whole album should be on this list) 65. Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy 66. Ministry - Stigmata 67. Vision of Disorder - Jada Bloom 68. Marilyn Manson - Dope Hat 69. 10cc - Iím Not in Love 70. Miracles - Love Machine 71. Commodores - Brick House 72. Brothers Johnson - Strawberry Letter 23 73. The Manhattans - Kiss and Say Goodbye 74. Soft Cell - Say Hello, Wave Goodbye 75. Beck - Soul Suckiní Jerk 76. Grateful Dead - Box of Rain 77. Jimi Hendrix - If 6 was 9 78. Elton John - Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding 79. Howard DeVoto - Rainy Season 80. Freur - Doot Doot 81. King Diamond - One Down Two To Go 82. Nsync - Itís Gonna Be Me (shut up. Just shut up) 83. Oasis - Champagne Supernova 84. Green Day - Hitchiní a Ride 85. Slipknot - Wait and Bleed 86. Machine Head - Old 87. Soundgarden - Drawing Flies 88. Quicksand - Thorn in my Side 89. Helmet - Unsung 90. The Clash - Radio Clash 91. Buzzcocks - What Do I Get 92. Husker Du - New Day Rising 93. The Specials - Gangsters 94. INXS - Need You Tonight 95. Propagandhi - Middle Finger Response 96. Lagwagon - Know it All 97. NOFX - Freedom Like a Shopping Cart 98. Johnny Cash - 13 99. Danzig - Going Down To Die 100. Todd Rundgren - Hello, Itís Me The rest are here

New Spirit of America Challenge
Or: The $ for Fiction Edition

foi_1.gifDedicated to these guys. You may recall the Spirit of America challenge that took place here and at other blogs back in April. SOA has started another blogger challenge to raise money for several different projects they have going on right now. I've chosen to go it alone this time rather than try to form a team. While it was fun to do the coalition thing last time, I want to keep the competition aspect out of the challenge in this go-round and just concentrate on raising some money. It's pretty easy and straightfoward: Here is the ASV donation page. Alll you have to do is click on that link and donate through ASV to be part of my fundraising efforts. You can go to the front page of SOA and see some of the projects they are working on now, including Viral Freedom, which supports development of Arabic blogging tools. This is an important cause to me. I talk and talk about spreading democracy in Iraq, about winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis and about the future of a peaceful Iraq. This is my chance to put my money (and your money) where my mouth is and do something to support all of those ideas and I am dedicating my challenge to Omar, Mohammed and Ali from Iraq the Model, who have become my eyes and ears in Iraq, my virtual friends who have taught me so much with their word throughout this war. Two dollars, ten dollars, one hundred dollars, it doesn't matter - every single cent is a step in the right direction. I was thinking of what I could offer you in terms of thanks for donating under the ASV name. The problem with the last SOA effort was that I got so bogged down in different incentives and prizes that I lost track of what I was doing. Basically, the only thing I have to offer people is my words. So, for everyone who donates - and it doesn't matter what the donation amount is - I will write a short-short story for (about the length of this one). Once a few donations come in, I will give you the guidelines as to what the topic of the stories will be, as I have an idea brewing. So, that's it. The challenge starts now, though I don't think I'm supposed to get into heavy fundraising until December 1st. But I see some other bloggers have already got the ball rolling so I'll get started as well. Again, this is the donation page to give a few bucks via ASV. And if you can't donate right now (i know this isn't a great time of year to ask for money) I'd be just as thrilled with a link to this post, so we can spread the word and hopefully get the dollars rolling in. And if you'd rather start your own team or take this on yourself, you can go here to get your challenge started. The more people that join, the more money raised. I'm not as interested in "winning" a contest for most money raised as I am in making the SOA projects come to life. I thank you in advance for your generosity as, I'm sure, do the people of Iraq.

November 20, 2004

of repeats and he-man

Yes, another new header. I kinda like this one. It's a photo of DJ sledding superimposed over a winter scene from the local schoolyard. I do apologize for all the repeats lately - life has been busy, mostly in good ways. And who knows, maybe you missed some of this stuff the first time around. I've been told my some friends that I am giving short shrift to Thanksgiving by doing so many Christmas posts. So, in order to get rid of the guilt I feel now for dissing the turkeys and Pilgrims, I give you my favorite Thanksgiving post ever. [this was part of my When Action Figures Come Alive series]

Thanksgiving With He-Man

Spiderman: I still don't see why we all have to have Thanksgiving mmdance.gif
together. Superheroes, villians, goth people - it's a recipe for disaster!
Batman: Ha! Remember last year? Mark McGwire's head popped off in that free-for-all.
Boba Fett: Yea, the free-for-all that you started!
Skeletor: Shut up, Fett. You were the one that made us play drinking games. It's your fault.
Madman: Now, now, lets not rehash last year. I say we start this year off with something nice. How about we all go around the table and say what we are thankful for?
Evil Ash: Oh, geez. We all gonna hold hands and bow our heads in prayer, too?
Buddy Christ: You got a problem with that, bad ass?
Evil Ash: Sorry, Jesus.
Madman: Ok, Spawn, why don't you start?

Spawn stands up, glass of whiskey in his hand.

Spawn: I'm thankful for that outfit Asuka is wearing today.
Hubba Hubba!
He-Man: Hey! You can't talk about my girlfriend like that!
Spawn (laughing maniacally): Yourgirlfriend? I've been sleeping with her for three weeks!
He-Man: Liar!
Asuka: Umm....
He-Man: NOOOOOO! Say it isn't true!!
Asuka: Ummm....
Spawn: Told ya!

He-Man runs from the room crying

Spiderman: Oh, for Christ's sake!
Buddy Christ: Hey, I had nothing to do with this, man.
Madman: Well, let's wait on dinner a bit until we all calm down. Let's watch some football.

They all gather in the living room to watch the game. Fifteen minutes later, there's a crashing sound. He-Man comes swinging through the window on a rope, his feet aimed for Spawn's head. He swings down on top of Spawn. They tumble to the ground and when Spawn stands up, his cape is ripped in half.

Spawn: You son of a bitch! You mother fucking asshole! You are dead! Do you hear me? DEAD!
He-Man: Yea, I'm shaking in my boots, you girlfriend stealer!
Spawn: My fucking cape. I can't believe it. You'll pay for this you asswipe!

Spawn runs from the room, still yelling obscenities.

Skeletor: Well, another fine Thanksgiving this is turning into.
Death: I think it's rather amusing.
Sandman: You would.
Boba Fett: Is that food ready yet? I'm starving.
Madman: The turkey should be just about cooked. Let's go back into the dining room.

Everyone moves towards the dining area while He-Man lingers, looking around.

Evil Ash: What's the matter He-Man, looking for your balls?
He-Man: Shut up, you freak. Hey, has anyone seen Battlecat?
Green Goblin: I think I saw him fucking your girlfriend. HAHAHAH!

They meet the others in the dining area.

Madman: Tada! I present to you the most amazing Thanksgiving meal ever!

Several Street Fighter guys bring in plates heaped with food and set them on the table.

Madman: Edward Scissorhands, would you do the honors, please?
Edward (mumbling): Every year, it's Edward cut the turkey, Edward cut the pies.
Spiderman: That is the hugest turkey I have ever seen. I can't wait to dig in.
He-Man: Where the hell is Battlecat?
Spawn: Really. He was just dying to dig into his plate.

Edward finishes slicing the meat and everyone clamors for the different plates. They dig in right away, eating hungrily and noisily.

Spawn: Hold up! I would like to make a toast before we all stuff ourselves full of this food.

He stands and raises his glass of whiskey, Asuka at his side.

Han Solo: I have a bad feeling about this...
Spawn: I thought I would not be able to eat this meal, I was so depsondent over He-Man ripping my cape. But there are ways to get over things. A little action from Asuka here didn't hurt....
He-Man (his mouth full of food): You bastards! Do you have to announce it?
Spawn: You know, He-Man, they say revenge is a dish best served cold, but I would much rather serve it hot.
He-Man: What the hell does that mean?
Spawn (mimicing He-Man): Has anyone seen Battlecat?

He-Man and everyone else stop chewing, stop talking and look up at Spawn, forks in midair. Spawn cackles.

Spawn: Enjoying the meat, He-Man?
He-Man (staring down at his plate in horror) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Chaos ensues. Everyone is either puking or running out of the room. He-Man faints. And Boba Fett calmly sits and passes himself some more meat.

Buddy Christ: Another Thanksgiving shot to hell.

[other action figure posts here] That's it for me today - we've got Christmas lights to hang while the weather is still cooperating and a birthday to celebrate.

Weblog Awards

Wizbang has opened the nomination process for the 2004 Weblog Awards. There are a couple of categories where Command Post could be nominated. Just saying.

Happy Birthday, David

dhall1.jpgToday is my nephew David's fourth birthday. I can't believe it's been four years already since my sister and her husband got the call they had been waiting years for; that a beautiful boy had been born who needed a loving home. David has grown into a smart, funny, amusing, beautiful child. He's accomplished a lot in his four years - he's been a pirate, a superhero, a Jedi Knight, a hobbit and web slinger. And I am so very proud that he can sit through an entire three hours of Lord of the Rings without getting bored. In fact, he can recreate every battle scene. He also knows all the best quotes from Star Wars and can have a twenty minute discussion about Master Splinter. Can you tell Justin and I had an influence on him? I never do get tired of telling the story of David's arrival - one that I've printed here every year since my nephew came into our lives. It's below the fold if you want to read it.

the story of david, on his first birthday

Several years ago, in the courthouse I work in (I was not working there yet at the time), an employee found the lifeless body of a newborn infant in a bathroom stall. One of the emergency workers who responded to the scene, Tim Jaccard, was so moved by the scene that he was motivated to start the AMT Children of Hope Foundation, a group which went on to found Safe Havens. Safe Havens are hospitals, private homes and houses of worship throughout Long Island that have drop-off points for women who have given birth, but for various reasons do not want to keep the babies. These are infants that may otherwise have been abandoned in restrooms or dumpsters, left for dead. Tim comes into this story again later.

My sister and her husband tried for many years to have a baby. When it became apparent that they were suffering from infertility, they sought medical help. They went through many tries at in-vitro fertilization, which is a physically and emotionally straining process. It never worked for them. They went through years of testing, experiments and physical procedures to try and conceive. They got to a point where they realized that it was just not going to happen for them. This is when they decided to try and adopt.

They first went to Catholic Charities, because my cousin adopted three children through them. They were turned down because my brother-in-law is Jewish. Nevermind that they are financially stable, own their own home, can provide a stable, loving environment for a child, and promised to raise the child Catholic. It wasn't good enough for them. Catholic Charities was a dead end.

They tried posting their number in colleges and on internet message boards made specifically for that purpose. Lots of phone calls, more dead ends.

One day my sister was talking to her friend Mary about her and her husband's frustration. Turns out Mary is Tim Jaccard's secretary. Mary put my sister in touch with Tim and the wheels began turning.

There were more dead ends at first. A young girl who decided to give her baby to someone else. A woman who, at the last minute, decided to keep her baby. That one was at Christmas time, and my sister had announced to us on Christmas Eve that they would be getting a baby. Two days later, the woman said no. And how can you be mad at that, really? She wanted to keep and raise her baby and that's a good thing, despite the pain it brought to my family. My sister and her husband made the decision that they would not tell anyone the next time there was hope for a baby. They would wait until the baby was born, the papers were signed and then and only then would they spread the news.

Cut to last December. I was sitting at my desk at work, when my sister (who works with me) came into my office looking pale. She was shaking. She had just received a phone call from Tim. There was a baby boy, born on November 20th and the mother, an illegal immigrant who had just come here from Burma, did not want this baby. She was ready and willing to sign papers giving him up. My sister and her husband had known about this woman since the baby was born, but said nothing to any family member, remembering what happened the last time. But now she had to tell me because Tim said on the phone to be ready to be a mother in two days. Two days. After years of waiting and hoping and being disappointed, she had two days to get ready for a baby. She was to leave work immediately and head to to the woman's apartment in Queens, where Tim was waiting for my sister and her husband to meet the mother. The mother wanted to see them first, to know who she was giving her baby up to. I walked my sister out to her car and wished her luck. As soon as she was gone, I broke a promise I made and called my mother.

Two hours later, my mother and I were in Target, spending a small fortune on baby supplies. Clothes, diapers, bottles and every accessory both useful and extravagant, were bought. By the time we got home, my father, who cannot keep a secret to save his life, had told every relative within shouting distance. Basically meaning everyone in town. Friends and family kept pulling up to the house, dropping off supplies. A bassinet. Enough diapers to last a month. More clothes, baby blankets, crib sheets. There were moments where we felt like we were jinxing the whole thing, pusing our luck, but we decided to test fate and stock up anyhow. Any woman who has ever had a child will tell you nine months is barely enough time to get everything ready. Imagine only having two days to prepare. We figured it was better to have this stuff ready for her than to have nothing ready at all, and have to run out that day to buy all the things they would need.

Sometime that night my sister called and said it was definite. The baby was theirs. He would be delivered to their home, by Tim, the next night. She still wouldn't believe it, wouldn't talk in definite tones until the baby was in her arms. Can you blame her?

The next day was a frenzy. There were still so many things to get, so many people to call. My sister was frantic, her husband was neurotic. By 9pm, there were 20 people, friends and family, sitting in their living room waiting for David. We had champagne ready. Finally, Tim pulled up at around 10pm. My sister freaked out and wouldn't go to the door. She was afraid Tim would be standing there empty handed, come to bring the bad news that the woman had changed her mind. I looked out the window and saw Tim lifting a little baby out of a car seat. I shoved my sister towards the front door and told her to chill out. And Tim walked in, held out David, and put him in my sister's waiting arms. There was not a dry eye in the house. My father was crying, the neighbors were crying. I thought my sister and her husband were both going to pass out. They held him and stared at him for the longest time and nobody moved, nobody talked. Finally, someone popped the cork on a champagne bottle and we all cheered. For the next hour, David was passed from person to person and we all stared in wonder at the baby we had waited so long for.

David is a year old now. Not a day goes by that I don't look at him and think about the birth mother he has out there somewhere, and I wonder if she knows what she gave up. I look at his engaging smile and listen to his loud laugh and kiss his soft little cheeks and I wonder. I see my sister and her husband with their child and I am so happy for them, and so thankful that Tim Jaccard afforded them this opportunity, that this adorable child was not abandoned in a dumpster in the dark of night because the mother had no one to turn to.

So happy first birthday, David. You are a lucky boy. You had a selfless, caring birth mother who made a choice that was hard for her and right for you. And you ended up in the arms and hearts of two people who will give you a lifetime of love.

November 19, 2004

lesson of the day

There's nothing like going to Costco to reaffirm the idea that you're a misanthrope.

Annual Poll: ASV Readers Favorite Christmas Stuff, Part I

Ok, busy day from here on in, so I'll leave you with two things. First, a reminder about this year's Tacky Christmas project. I'm kind of sort of teaming up with the site that inspired me, UglyChristmasLights.com. I'll be forwarding to Matt any good stuff that comes my way via Tacky Christmas 2004. Second, this is my fourth Christmas as a blogger and far be it from me to break with a tradition I unwittingly started four years ago. Every year, I do several Christmas related "favorite" posts and this year will be no different. The comments have varied over the years and I've been able to find some great movies, music, etc. through these posts. So we'll kick off the 2004 Christmas favorites with movies. Have at it. Favorite Christmas movies and, while we're at it, favorite quotes from Christmas movies. I'll gather up the results tomorrow and make a poll out of it so we can, once again, discover the ASV Readers Favorite Christmas Movie. And advance kudos to anyone who says Silent Night, Deadly Night.

update on the daughter situation

Someone in the comments on the previous post reminded me that I never did give you the update on My daughter's death threat situation. The youngster in question was brought in to the juvenile authorities by his parents, where he was processed, etc. He goes back to court on the 29th, where he will see a probation officer who assured me that they will recommend psychiatric counseling for the boy. From what I understand via my ex husband, the boy's parents are willing and eager to cooperate with this, as they realize now that their son has anger management issues. We chose not to seek an order of protection as a) we are confident that the parents of the boy are keeping him under careful watch and b) we didn't want to make Nat go through the process of having to appear in court to testify against her former friend. Really, all we wanted was to make sure the kid got some help. Apparently, he's a very good student and, aside from the death threat thing, not a bad kid. I think with some guidance and professional help he can overcome whatever issues are making him behave this way. So, hopefully, end of story. Thank you to everyone who offered advice and support.

apropos of nothing

It's been nine days since I've written about the election, the left or politics/news in general. This wasn't intentional, it's just the way the things have worked out. As my Ecosystem number drops lower each day and my stats fall off to half of what they were a month ago, I come to the realization that I'm much happier this way. I have acheived inner peace through writing about semen covered dinners, suicidal Santas and rock and roll. Go figure.

come, all ye grinches

Continuing on the theme from yesterday - and inspired by this NY Post editorial by blogger Dawn Eden -, I offer you another repeat on the subject of religion during the holiday season (I've got a busy schedule this morning, so content will have to wait until later). ---

Dear Holiday Grouches,

I am an atheist. I don't celebrate the birth of Christ, I don't believe in the Virgin Mary. Yet, I love Christmas. My kids are Catholic, my family is Catholic and I think of Christmas as time to share my love and imitation wealth with those I love. Good cheer, good times.

It upsets me that so many of you are making a bad name for all atheists, agnostics and non-Jesus believers. You write letters to the town council, to your legistlators, to the editor of the local paper and you complain about some plastic statues in front of the post office or library or any other publicly-maintained building.

What is that you find so offensive about a nativity scene? I hardly think that a piece of plastic that represents Mary and Joseph, a few animals and a baby will turn your children into Catholics overnight. We aren't talking Jack Chick here. There are no signs on these little stables that say "Become a Catholic or Die!"

Back when I was young (walk, snow, downhill both ways, etc.) I was in the school chorus. For our holiday spectacular we song both Oh, Holy Night and The Dreidel Song. Nobody made a fuss about it. No letters were written. My principal did not have to appear on CNN defending himself.

What has happened to this world that so many of you are offended by signs of religion? Does it harm you in any way to see Mary kneeling in front of the post office? Are there beacons of light shining out of Joseph's eyes, beckoning your young ones to receive the body of Christ? Does a menorah hold some mystical power so it sends out a secret signal that directs you to a Temple? How can candles be offensive? It's not like each nativity comes with a sign that says My God is Better Than Your God!

It's the holiday season. Yes, it's the Christmas season, but with merchants and retailers setting up their winter wonderlands at the end of October and not taking them down until January, the season now encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and New Year's.

It's a great time of year, which you would find out if you stopped being so pissed off at everyone. People are cheery. Towns are lit up in beautiful lights and the telephone poles are strung with garland and if you are lucky, it snows just a bit, just enough to lend a feel of authenticity to the season. There are parties with spiked eggnog and trees adorned with colors and stars and angels. Houses glow brighter each night as another candle on the menorah is lit.

Yet there you are, hunkered down in your basement, writing another letter to another congressman, demanding that action be taken against the library director who had the audacity to hang Christmas and Hannukah decorations in the children's room. You're busy picketing in front of the school that is putting on a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas because it's too overtly religious. Here's an idea: stop your letter writing campaign, stop bothering politicians who have more pressing issues to deal with and go find some holiday cheer. Even if you find it in the bottom of a bottle of rum.

And it's not just you anti-nativity people that bother me. It's the anti-capitalism crowd as well. Stop making the holidays about your issues. Like the damn Canadians who erected a giant sign that read Gluttony. Envy. Insincerity. Greed. Enjoy Your Christmas. Get over yourselves. I'll go about spreading comfort and joy to my family and friends while you hang around with your humorless, cheerless selves and toast the Grinch. Hell, even the Grinch came around after a while.

There are people in this world who think it is their calling in life to complain about everything. They find no joy in a kid opening an X-Box on Christmas morning. They find nothing wonderful at the sight of new fallen snow gathering around Mary and Joseph's feet as worshipers file out of midnight mass. You are one of these people. You are a joyless, bitter, antagnostic grinch. Do us all a favor and hibernate from Halloween until New Year's. Let us enjoy our holidays in peace, without people like you trying to take the beauty and wonder away from us.

Thank you.

[See also, Dustbury]

November 18, 2004

talk about protein wisdom...*

Just when I thought I was jaded enough to not be surprised by anything, along comes, err....cooking with cum. There's message boards. And, lord help us all, pictures. Just...wow. I know there's a million puns to be had here, but I'm too flabbergasted to think of anything good. Ok, my favorite recipe names: Flapjack-offs ....Manmilk soup...Chunky crab dip?? Ewww! I apologize if I've offended any of you. As for myself, I can't stop giggling. dedicated:*

Fiction Corner: a short, bizarre christmas story

Explanation first:

My friend Todd and I will often exchange emails during the day with various writing exercises, just fun little things meant to keep us writing creatively. Today's exercise consisted of taking some of my husband's art and doing "flash fiction" from the pictures. We set the limit at 200 words for each painting.

It was all going well until we got to Twig and then I couldn't help myself. I ended up writing a whole short-short instead of just 200 words. Please keep in mind that this is all off-the-cuff, stream of consciousness writing that was written in less than twelve minutes. Totally unplanned and unplotted, unedited and un-proofread and in no way should it be taken as a hint towards my mental state at the moment. Todd thought I should share it and sharing makes the world go round, so here it is. The pic that's included is the one on which the story is based. Clickable.

You Sleigh Me (for lack of a better title)

He hated sitting for the yearly portrait. It was always the same; thirty minutes of excruciating stillness that resulted in a painting that looked exactly like the one from the year before and the year before that and so on. When he looked at the pictures - which he couldnít help but do as they lined the hallway that took him from hearth to sleigh - he never saw himself. He only saw a slightly bloated, dress up version of what he looked like over two hundred years ago or more. This year, he would break the boring, phony tradition.

They all gasped when he walked into the portrait studio. The elves, the maidens, the portrait painter himself, they let out a collective gasp, as if he had walked in wielding a bloody butcher knife and holding Rudolphís severed head.

ďS.C.! Why are you not ready? Where is your suit? Your boots?Ē Patricia, his assistant had flittered across the room nervously to greet him. She was now whispering all this in his ear, clearly agitated.

ďI donít want to dress up this year.Ē He spoke quietly, though through gritted teeth and Patricia got the message that he was serious.
ďBut S.C., the Board will throw a fucking fit if we send out the annual card with you looking like this.Ē
ďI donít give a ratís ass about the Board, Tricia. I just donít want to wear that stupid fucking hat. It makes my scalp sweat. And rest of the suit makes me itch all over. I broke out in hives last year, Tricia, remember that? Forty fucking doses of Benadryl. I want for just one year to sit for a portrait without having to scratch my ass for an hour afterwards.Ē

Santa imagined that he now knew what all the little boys and girls Ďround the world felt like when their parents made them dress up for family Christmas pictures. He made a mental note to send out a memo that a resolution should be drafted requiring all children to wear jeans, t-shirts and dirty sneakers for their next holiday portrait. Stuffy parents be damned.

Tricia was crowding Santaís space and sighing heavily. He pushed her out of the way and headed for the big chair, where he plopped himself down and looked around impatiently. Patricia recovered from the rude slight her boss gave her and sauntered over to the hand-picked painter for this year, a young, smug art student wearing a shirt depicting Che Guevara wearing Santaís cap. S.C. chuckled to himself and made a mental note to take a piss under the young artistís tree this Christmas Eve. Patricia whispered something to Che guy. He shook his head profusely. He stamped his foot. S.C. walked over to the couple.

ďIs there a problem, Tricia?Ē He was half growling, half talking.
ďMr. Russell was looking forward to painting the jolly guy in the red suit.Ē She looked directly at S.C., her eyes narrow slits. ďBut looks like heís a no show this year.Ē

The room went silent. All eyes turned on the trio of S.C., Patricia and the smug artist known as Mr. Russell. Patricia did her best to smile, but she knew she made a grave mistake in talking to S.C. the way she did. She breached her contract. She broke the rules. She signed her own exit plan, with just a few words and a sarcastic tone.

S.C. latched onto Patriciaís waist-length ponytail and yanked. Patricia fell to the ground with a yelp. Mr. Russell, looking not nearly so smug anymore, bent down and made a move to help the fallen assistant, but changed his mind when several elves started shaking their heads at him. When Mr. Russell stood upright again, S.C., punched him square in the face. Blood immediately poured out of the artistsís nose, running over his lips, down his chin and neck and dribbling onto his t-shirt where the drops splattered like rain on Cheís face. S.C. smiled broadly and walked toward the window, where he stared at the falling snow as if this were just another mundane moment in his life and the lives of everyone in the room.

ďDispose of her and find a replacement,Ē he said to no one in particular, yet several people went into motion at once. ďChe boy, paint my picture. Just like this.Ē He continued to stare out the window, contemplating an existence where he would continue to live up to peopleís expectations of him for thousands more years.

When the portrait was done, Mr. Russell stood shaking in fear, worried that Santa wouldnít like the painting very much and he would soon be joining Patricia as food for the ravenous wolves Santa kept as pets. But Santa gave a little, quarter-smile when he saw the painting. He imagined it hanging in the long hallway, currently adorned with years of portraits that were nothing more than mirror images of each other. It would be an end of sorts, he knew.

That evening, he hung the new painting next to the generic, jolly old Santa of last year, went into his bathroom, slit his wrists, and hummed Christmas Carols until he bled to death.

All the text herein is copyright © 2004 Michele Catalano. All rights reserved. All art herein is copyright © 2004 Justin Brejwo. All rights reserved.

smoke 'em if you got 'em

You know what's really interesting? When a 400 lb. stranger chastises you for smoking on National Smoke-Out day and proceeds to lecture you about your health and well being. And then he waddles across the street and into McDonald's. I'll tell everyone who reminds me that today is Smoke Out day the same thing I tell people who remind me about TV Turn-off Week. STFU, MYOB and GBTW.

poisoning children in the park

I just love the smell of overreaction in the morning. Smells like....hysteria.

A few bloggers are raising the red flag and screaming in hysterics about a proposed program to shove bottles of poison down the throats of babies in order to turn up the profit margin for companies like Dow and Exxon. Apparently, this program, sponsored by the EPA and headed up by Bush cronies, will have low income parents sacrificing the future health of their children all for some cash, a t-shirt and a cam corder.

Oh, wait. That's not what's happening at all. Gee, you would think that people would do a little bit of research before going off all chicken little and claiming that the government is going to wantonly spray toddlers with pesticides in some bizarre biological experiment.

The program is called CHEERS - Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a Children's Environmental Exposure Research Study (CHEERS) to better understand how young children come into contact with pesticides and other chemicals in their homes. Children can come into contact with various chemicals in their homes through the air they breathe, food they eat and the surfaces they touch.

Ok, so they are not spraying down the kids with hoses bursting with poison?

Participants are not required to use pesticides or to change any of their regular household routines or how they normally use bug sprays (pesticides).

Do we understand how this works now? No one is asking people to submit their children to experiments. No one is forcing Ajax down a baby's throat. See what happens when you actually read, digest and think before you react? You come up with the truth, rather than some shrill, panicky screed about how the big bad Republicans don't want you to have an abortion, but they'll drown your babies in chemicals on purpose. And give you a t-shirt in return!

Is there any risk to me and my family?

No. You and your child will not experience any risks from participating in this study.

We will not ask any parent to apply pesticides in their home to be a part of this study.

You are not required to change any of your regular household routines.

Please, spare us the images of poverty-stricken babies being held feet over toxic fire while their poor parents look on and the CEO of Dow rubs his hands in glee. You've got the picture all wrong and what's sad is, you know it. In fact, someone left a link to the CHEERS site in the comments of one of the bloggers and lo and behold, it was deleted. It's called fact checking, kids and it would have saved you from another bout of righteous anger. But you go ahead and sign that petition. After all, it's For The Children©.

Update: Thanks to Hubris for the link to this WaPo article. Basically, if you sign that petition, you are against protecting future children against the poison in your teflon pans! You are terrible, terrible people!

A Secular Season's Greetings

While reading through some of the incredulous hate mail from yesterday, I came across one that asks: You keep talking about Christmas. Aren't you an atheist? You're missing the entire point of the reason for the season if you take this holiday as yours. Well, I addressed this very issue in 2002 and far be it from me to waste the opportunity to drag out an old blog post in lieu of original content. So, here you go. ---- Let's talk about Christmas and co-opted holidays and why some people have their panties in a bunch about this time of year and why I don't. We all know by now that Jesus was not born on December 25. That doesn't really matter to me because Christmas was never about Jesus's birthday to me. It's about so many other things. Sure, I'm not celebrating the "true meaning" of the holiday but then again, no other holiday really gets its true meaning celebrated. Easter has become about bunnies and colored eggs. Halloween is about scary witches and ghosts and candy. Even holidays meant to celebrate births of great figures in American history are nothing more than days off from work and school. Americans love a holiday, that's for sure. So why does this atheist celebrate a holiday that is supposed to be about religion? It's not the gifts, it's not the gaudy decorations. It's the spirit. When I was a child, Christmas time meant so many things. Parties in school, snow on the ground, snooping around my parent's bedroom for hidden presents. The air was filled with a sense of anticipation and joy that was not present most of the year. The calendar was marked down with X's on the dates of December, and every new X meant that special day was coming. Of course, I loved the presents. But I loved the atmosphere, too. My parents are very social people. During the holiday season, there would be friends and relatives dropping over to say hello, have a drink, maybe a bite to eat. The Christmas tree glowed and sparkled and the windows were covered with those plastic, colorful decorations depicting Santa and snowmen and angels. Christmas is about traditions. For as long as I can remember, we would gather at my aunt's house on Christmas Eve - we still do - enjoying an Italian feast of fish and pasta, at least 40 of us crowded into the fully decorated basement. We exchanged presents and Santa came and the grownups were all happy and carefree and festive. We would go home late, get tucked into bed and then lay there for what seemed like hours, too excited to sleep. It was a great night to be a kid. My father would always take us shopping on Christmas Eve day, usually to Sears. We would buy presents for our mother - always Jean Nate perfume and powder - and presents for each other (I still have the music box my sister bought for me one year that played "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head") and we would get home and have hot chocolate covered in whipped cream and wrap our presents. We made cards for our parents and sometimes we would make presents, too; sloppy hand-made ornaments that still hang on my mother's tree. Even decorating the tree became a tradition of hot chocolate and Christmas songs and sibling fights over who got to put the star on top. We still do that to this day, gathering at my parent's house, now with kids and spouses in tow, and continuing the tradition of decorating and fighting. In fact, we are doing that tonight. As I got older and discovered - through a spiteful cousin - that Santa no longer existed, none of the excitement and wonder of the holiday season wore off. I became more deft at making hints at what I wanted for Christmas, and still secretly wrote letters to Santa in hopes that my cousin was playing just kidding. Eventually I became ok with my parents being the real Santa. I figured they were more likely to get me a Black Sabbath album than the jolly bearded guy would be. On Christmas morning, my sisters and I would wake earlier than any human should rise, and we would sit by the fireplace in the half-dark, opening whatever was in the bulging stockings that hung from the mantle, waiting for our parents to wake. Finally, we couldn't take it anymore and we would run into their bedroom, jumping on the bed until they finally got up, bleary eyed and exhausted from wrapping and arranging presents the night before. After the presents were unwrapped and the fire was roaring, fed by discarded wrapping paper and empty boxes, dad would make a huge breakfast and we would gush over our presents, comparing each other's stack of gifts. Then, while mom cooked, dad would take us out visiting relatives and each aunt or uncle would give us Christmas candy or cookies as we went from house to house. All these traditions are still intact. Some have changed a bit; there were years when the Christmas Eve party at my aunt's house turned into 3am drunken poker games and most of the cousins hanging out back with the keg and the nickel bags of pot. Then we got older, had kids of our own, and put the magic back in our tradition. We still open our presents very early, all of us arriving at our parent's house at an ungodly hour, heading straight for the stockings while we wait for our parents to wake up. They greet us with the same bleary eyed look they always did and the presents are still stacked sky high under the tree like they always were. We have a big breakfast and compare presents and then it's time to visit relatives, except now we visit them at Holy Rood cemetery, putting wreaths and blankets on their graves and thanking them for the all the cookies and warmth they gave us in the past. Of course, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Our Christmas and Christmas eve follow all the same patterns, but now we have our own children to work magic for. There is nothing like the gleam in their eyes as they see the gifts under the tree and even though they no longer believe in Santa, they still delight at the note that "Santa" leaves for them, thanking them for the cookies and milk. Even better is the smile on their faces as they present us with the presents they picked out, wrapped using six yards of scotch tape and a lot of love. They are truly grateful for everything they get and our home is filled with a warmth and comfort that gets pushed aside most of the year by homework and housework and the hurried pace of our lives. This is why I love Christmas. I love way the neighborhood is lit up in color and light at night. I love the excitement in the air, the way people give so freely of themselves in the spirit of the season, the way the kids bounce when they walk through the mall, thrilled at the thought of picking out presents for those they love. Yes, Christmas has become commericialized and may appear to be nothing more than a celebration of cosumerism. If that's what you see, then that's all you want to see. Me, I see pretty lights and smiling kids and relatives all gathered in one place for a change instead of scurrying to appointments and ball games and work. If I co-opted your holiday, I'm sorry. I think we could all use a time of year set aside to eat, drink and be merry. If you don't celebrate it or for some reason or are angry at the way this time of year has ventured into a capitalist's dream, that's your choice. Just don't piss on my Christmas tree and try to take that joy from me because you don't want to see it. ----- For some reason, this reminds me of the politically correct Christmas songs post from two years ago. I might drag that old horse out later. Man, I caught Christmas Fever early this year.

i meant what i said and i said what i meant

I said a week ago that I wasn't going to read my ASV mail for a while, but I couldn't help it yesterday. The subject lines were intriguing. So I read, discarded and mumbled to myself for a while. I just may be the most hated person on the right side of the blogosphere at the moment. Such is life. Just to clarify, I never meant to imply that Michael Moore is somehow a better reporter/person than all of you. Also, I did not mean to diminish the importance or impact of blogs - anyone who has read this site for any amount of time knows that I am a great defender of blogs as a vital medium. I just don't think that Time should give their award to a population of people that more than half the population of America is not in any way, shape or form affected by. A few people wondered how I would react if bloggers were named Person of the Year and they mentioned Command Post. I'd be grateful, of course. And happy. Just because I think there are people more deserving of the award does not mean I wouldn't be pleased to accept a small fraction of it. I'm sure Marisa Tomei knows damn well she didn't deserve that Oscar, but it doesn't stop her from kissing it before she goes to bed every night.

don't ask

So the sleeping girl is back. I had a bizarre dream last night in which this picture played a large part. I won't bore you with the details, so let's just say I didn't want to tempt the fates today.

November 17, 2004

it's a trap!

I haven't been able to get to Fark in two hours. I'm going through serious withdrawals here. I even tried going to plain old Fark instead of TF, but no luck there, either. Quick, someone say something stupid and then someone else counter that with something even more stupid! I need pictures of Admiral Ackbar or going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket headlines or useless news flash tags! I'm dying here! Update: All is well. Fark is back. Must seek addiction counseling.

spam of the day

My spam is better than Bill's spam.

A blonde apprehend was driving along the tousle when a electrician police accompanist pulled her betelgeuse for congo.
centrifugal: May i see your heavenward?
algebraic: what does it look eradicate?
risky: its a pile thing with a digging of you on it.
The goldfinch looks shabby her ignition and beebe out her breadfruit allegheny and hands it to the officer.
The electrocardiogram opens it up and says if you had metabole me you were a decompression circumspect I wouldn't have nihilist you over.

I wonder what the joke was supposed to look like?

again with the new logo

So, the picture of the girl made me tired every time I looked at the page. This logo was made for me by reader and prolific photoshopper Keiran. I thank him profusely. This is temporary. My husband has promised to draw something for me that has fuzzy bunnies, half naked women, satan and kittens. So I'm just waiting on that.

Story of the Year

I've tried figure out a way to word this post without offending nearly 100% of my readers and thousands of other people, but I couldn't, so I'm just going to be blunt about it. There's a movement afoot - started by PR guru Steve Rubel - to get Time to name bloggers as its Person of the Year. My reaction? In a word, NO. Yes, there was Rathergate, the importance of which I do not want to diminish. There was the cultural phenomenon of Iraq bloggers and Iranian bloggers. There was the unprecedented move to give bloggers credentials to the Republican and Democrat conventions and there was, of course, the blogging of the election. But all that does not add up to Person(s) of the Year. As bloggers, we tend to look at the blogosphere from the inside. We immerse ourselves in the blog world and sometimes we are all guilty of thinking that everyone exists in our world. Bloggers are the proverbial speck of dirt under a giant's thumbnail. When you think about the population of the world and hold up the number of bloggers - or blog readers - against that number, we become insignificant. Rubel says: bq. For 2004, I cannot think of a single person or persons that had a greater influence on society than the bloggers. Let's remind them by making our voice heard. If you think about American politics, media, business - no one, no one had a greater influence for better or worse than the bloggers. Perhaps blogs did have an influence, but on whom? On people who read blogs, of course. And how many people is that? How large is that number when held up against the number of people who take part in politics, media and business, or against the number of people that voted in the election? Technorati currently tracks 4,665,281 blogs. How many of those blogs deal with the subject of politics, media and business? How many of those blogs are updated daily or even read daily? Sheer numbers do not make a compelling argument. Imagine the cover of Time's Person of the Year issue claiming bloggers as the winner of the coveted award. How many people would take a look at that magazine and say "What the hell is a blogger?" Sure, you can call us - or a lot of you - citizen journalists, but then you'd be negating about 80% of bloggers, because only about 20% of bloggers, if that many, consider themselves journalists of any type. We are a clique. We are a group of people with inside jokes and a terminology that only we understand (fisking, for instance). Giving the Time honor to bloggers would be like giving it to the Farscape fans who tried to get the show back on the air after it was cancelled. No one cares but them. Will America - or the rest of the world that reads Time - raise a celebratory glass to bloggers should this happen or will they stare quizzically at the cover of the magazine? I do think on a whole that we are a self-important lot. It's hard for me to imagine that anyone outside of our circle (albeit a wide one) knows about or cares about blogs. Last year's winner was the American soldier. 2002 it was the Enron and WorldCom whistleblowers. How do bloggers stack up to that? Not at all. This year's informal list of nominees include Karl Rove, President Bush, Michael Moore and Mel Gibson in addition to bloggers. Of course, I'd rather see bloggers win the gold over Moore, but it's fair to say that Moore had more impact - one could even say negative impact - on events in this country in the past year than did bloggers. Personally, I'm pulling for Rove. Because the voice in my head tells me I must.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Ok, so it's almost useless for me to pick on Alex Ross at this point because my hatred for him runs so deep that my opinions are somewhat tainted. But take a look at the cover for Superman: Strength #2 that goes on sale in February. [click for larger image] See anything wrong with this picture? I mean, besides the fact that the young girl is eagerly awaiting Superman's package or that the young boy in the background is fixated on his crotch?

November 16, 2004

guitar hero

While waiting for Natalie to get out of religion class tonight, DJ and I hightailed it over to Guitar Center, just a few blocks away from the church. GC is to guitar freaks what Circuit City is to gadget freaks. It's a hands-on feast. We try to get there at least once a week so DJ can plug in an amp and try out different guitars. The store was nearly empty tonight, unlike our weekend trips there when twenty people are vying for amp time, most just wanting to show off their stuff to a crowd. So DJ plugged in, trying out what it going to be his Christmas present this year - a Line 6 pod (goes with his amp). When DJ plays, no one else exists. He's completely in his own world. So as he went through his repetoire of Queen, Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Pearl Jam, a small crowd gathered around him, mostly employees plus a few shoppers - DJ just kept playing, clueless to the fact that not only was he being watched, but all these people were asking me how old he is (11) and if he takes lessons (he mostly teaches himself). They all kept telling me how good he is. I know how good he is. But it's sweet to hear other people agree, as I'm just a biased mom and my opinion on my children's talents is pretty much worthless. He finally looked up after he finished playing and noticed the small crowd around him. I thought he would freak out. Instead, he beamed. I've never seen him - Mr. Low Self Esteem - so happy with himself. That smile and the resulting pride he felt from the smattering of compliments and applause at GC is well worth the endless, loud riffs that come from his room all night - and the small fortune I'll be spending on that pod. That's all. Just felt like sharing that.

Unknown Movies Since 1970

ala Jay Caruso, who has a good list, even I've heard of/seen all of them. Interstate 60 Ravenous Gattaca Dark City Dick Judgment Night (well, it had a great soundtrack) [Thanks to the eagle eyes who caught the two typos in this post, now fixed]

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Christmas, of course. I know, it's looked a lot like Christmas since the days right before Halloween when ornaments and tinsel started crowding bleeding skulls and glowing pumpkins off the shelves at Target. But it's in full swing now, department stores blasting pop renditions of classic Christmas tunes, bell ringers at the door, wrapping stations parked in the middle of the mall. swlt.jpgThe pace of the shoppers changes after Halloween; their gait becomes frenzied and purposeful, marching in two-step from store to store, lists in hand, markers crossing off things bought and things impossible to attain. The neighbors have already started their migration from Thanksgiving props to Christmas decorations. I swear it was Halloween night when the great, glowing, blow up skeleton came down and the hot air turkey went up. The lighted skulls gave way to bales of hay and colorful gourds the next morning. And now, wasting no time, the colored strings of light lay twisted and tangled on their front lawn, waiting to be stretched out and hung on the gutter. And it's cold, to boot. Hand-blowing, toe-numbing cold that usually doesn't arrive on the Island until late December. And with the onslaught of Christmas trappings comes the third annual Operation TIPS: Christmas Decoration Hell (last year's installment here). I don't mind Christmas decorations, really. In fact, there's nothing prettier than twinkling, colored lights bouncing their reflections off of newly fallen snow. It's when people get carried away with their decor that I start to question the meaning of the holiday season (which is, of course, peace and goodwill towards men, gifts for everyone and death to people who have animated, musical Santas on their lawn). You know who you are. You're the guy who was up on the ladder two weeks ago, installing the tracks on your roof for this year's Polar Express display. You're the woman in the hand knitted sweater adorned with reindeer and puffy angels. You're the couple who has already sent out their Christmas cards, complete with pictures of the kids and a handwritten, ten page family newsletter that has been scented with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. You rent space from a storage facility to store all of your outdoor holiday decorations. Your neighbors hate you. So, with all that in mind, we proceed with the 2004 edition of Christmas Decorating Hell, which I'm getting off the ground early in order to give you plenty of time to charge the camera batteries and start scouting out the neighborhood. Below is the copy of the rules, straight from last year. I'm open to suggestions this time around, if anyone wants to add to the rules. tc04.jpg I have a mission for you: Seek and destroy The Evil Overdecorator. You know who I'm talking about; the guy who uses more electricity for his Christmas decorations than an entire small city. The neighbor who makes it look as if the Wal-Mart Christmas department threw up on her lawn. I have a list of tips so you can determine whether or not you should report your neighbors to the TIPS Christmas hotline: 1. The brightness of their lighting display cause low-flying planes to think they are approaching a landing strip. 2. A soundtrack of sappy Christmas songs plays on repeat all night long. 3. They mix in other holidays (Fourth of July, Halloween) with their Christmas decorations. 4. A nativity scene represented by cartoon characters or are use of characters that have nothing whatsover to do with Christmas and should not be used in any decorations ever. (see, Pokemon display) 5. Inflatable decorations oversix feet tall. (2003 seemed to be the year of the inflatables. I wonder what trend o' crap the industry will subject us to this year) 6. A line of cars rolls down the block from December 1st until New Years, turning your neighborhood into a tourist attraction. 7. They charge admission. I don't care if it's for charity. It's still tacky. 8. The junk that sits on their lawn all year lawn is turned into instant Christmas decor. 9. Flashing or lighted messages boards whose size rivals that of the Shea Stadium Diamond Vision. 10. They force their kids to re-enact The Night Before Christmas on their lawn every night. 11. They adverstise their display in the local paper. 12. Animatronic Nutcracker Suite. 13. The hired Santa that's supposed to "ho-ho-ho" all night long is going "ho, ho, hic" instead (don't question this, I've seen it happen). 14. Zillions of volts of electricity in the name of Jesus. 15. A new edition for 2004: Anything that's just wrong. We're talking Santa's head skewered on a fork. And I'm not holding you strictly to outdoor decorations this year. Everything is fair game, especially apparel, when it looks like this. You can start sending links now if you got them. It's never too early to make laugh and point. There will be various awards given out to both the decorations and the tipsters who send in the best stuff. Now, I am sending you out into the wild, armed with your cameras to hunt down the perpetrators of any of the above Christmas crimes and report back to me. Rewards to be had for the person who brings in the most offenders. You may also use this opportunity to turn yourself in if you are a guilty party and receive amnesty before one of your neighbors rats on you. I will be out trolling the streets of Long Island, looking for the most tasteless, tacky decorations I can find. Two words: wire cutters. I got 'em and I'm not afraid to use them.

Papayas are not Erotic and Kate Spade Won't Bring You Happiness

I bookmarked this How to be a Happy Woman post a while ago (which I found through Sheila) and forgot to blog about. Reading this post at Sheila's this morning made me remember the happy woman thing, if for no other reason than I'm often mystified by women who think chocolate can bring happiness or by men who think a good orgasm is all a woman needs to get by. Or that they need a book to guide them in that endeavor. I like Right Thinking Girl, the author of the Happy Woman list, I really do. But I am going to have to beg to differ with her on a good portion of her list. For instance, #7 calls for baking a wedding cake from scratch. I have to ask, why? Doing such a thing would only result in the further deterioration of my ego, when it becomes blindingly clear that I should never, ever be allowed to wield a measuring cup and flour, lest they become lethal weapons. And what of single women? What gal would want to spend hours slaving over something that would remind her of how god awful alone she is? I'll pass on the handbag (#12) thing also. My handbags are straight from Target or Payless, $10 pieces of crap that will probably fall apart under the weight of my massive set of keys within months. The bottom of my bags usually turn into a potpourri of sticky gum, tobacco, half eaten cough drops and pennies that are slimed in a foreign substance. I'm not about to spend roughly $2000 on a bag that will eventually turn into a home for wayward receipts when that $2000 can be used to feed the homeless keep my family in food for a couple of months. In fact, I question the sanity of a woman who spends the equivalent of a mortgage payment on a contraption used to hold her tampons and cell phone. I think all the above can be said for #36, which calls for love of jewelry. Am I the only woman who would rather get an Xbox than a tennis bracelet as a gift? Well, that point sort of makes going through the rest of the list useless, as it is apparent that no two women are alike. We are all our own little snowflakes, unique individuals, etc., etc., which is why a book like She Comes First is completely useless. The review is great. The book, we could all live without. Why do men - and some women- believe in the naive notion that there is, somewhere, the ultimate guide or instruction manual that will teach men the world over how to really, really please a woman - any woman? Too many men live their whole lives thinking - thanks to magazine articles and books - that the greatest gift you can give a woman is an orgasm. I have news for all of you suffering from that delusion. I - or for that matter, my shower head - can give myself that gift with far greater precision, accuracy and breathtaking results than you could ever hope to. It's just the way it is. "Try licking her the way Pollock painted." That's an actual line from She Comes First. "When she comes first, she comes forever." Yes, that, too. Which is not necessarily true. I know some women who will, like a lot of men, roll over and die when they're done. Listen, I'm not trying to be crude or overtly shocking here, but I think I owe it to the free male world to let men know that not every woman really enjoys the receiving end of oral sex. Not every woman will scream in pleasure when you try some Olympic-feat maneuver that was diagrammed in the latest issue of Ask Men. Instead of spending hours in the bathroom reading up on the latest techniques that call for you to "Think Outside Her Box," try something really innovative: ask your woman what she likes. Because let me tell you, the surprise that comes when a guy tries to reach places that were not meant to be seen without an ultrasound will not always result in moans of distinct pleasure. And trying to engage in sexual intimacy while recalling a black and white, notated diagram in your head can really damper your motions and the mood, especially when you suddenly blurt out "Slot B in Slot C!" Which leads me back to the "every woman is different" thing. Taking into account the Happy Woman and the "She Comes First" aspects, I'm starting to think that maybe it's just me. Where did my mother go wrong? How did I end up eschewing the jewelery, chocolate, perfume and candles scenario? How did my female idea of sex get so warped to lead me to this place, where I would much rather give than receive? Perhaps my mother was onto something when she spent nine months thinking that I was going to be a boy named Michael. Years of therapy might be able to explain why my perfect date would consist of Taco Bell, Guinness and a few romantic hours mashing video game controllers playing Street Fighter, wrapped up with a session of me-on-top, controlling, domineering sex. Maybe I need to just find some like minded women; females who, like their male counterparts who have discovered their inner femininity, have an inner masculinity that they are not ashamed to show. Women who have no desire to bake a wedding cake from scratch or sell a kidney for a Kate Spade handbag. Women who would rather watch Last Boy Scout than be subjected to another Meg Ryan saccharine fest. I think I need to have my hormone balance checked.

November 15, 2004

a joke walks into a blog...

A font walks into a bar. The bartenders says: "Hey, we don't serve your type in here!" A mushroom walks into a bar. The bartender says: "Hey, you look like a fun guy!" Humor me. It's been that kind of day.

Fresh Cream

I now take back everything I said in this post. Cream is getting back together for a couple of shows at Albert Hall and I would sell my first born child (don't worry, whoever bought her would want to return her anyhow) to get a ticket to see that. [History of Cream]

By Request: Celebrity True Story

1995. Or 96. I was still married then, and it was fall, but still felt like summer. The summer had been odd, to say the least. We spent a week or two of August with a blonde psuedo-actress/celebrity who shall remain nameless here, but who is easily identifiable by the stature of her breasts and her hips and by the fortunes of her now dead, but then elderly and frail, husband and whom we shall call "A" so as not to place me in the path of people searching google for naked pictures of this model/B-movie actress/celebrity. And no, I have none.

I was, through marriage, related to the person who directed A in several of her stellar theatrical endeavors. This person also "kept the company" of A, if you know what I mean, and when he came to visit his family this summer, he brought the starlet along with him.

There are several stories I could tell you about the week or so that the wannabe-diva was here, but I won't. Not now. But I will tell you about when she returned for a visit in the fall. You should keep in mind that during the August week she was here, her hosts and their family had gone from star struck to scornful in one fell swoop.

It was September, maybe two weeks after school started. My then husband's grandfather had gone missing and the next week his body turned up in a dumpster in the Bronx. It was, obviously, a difficult time for the family. We set about the business of planning a funeral and everything that entails. The relative in California, A's director, was called. He was told to come for the funeral of his father. But not to bring A with him. This wasn't the time nor the place for her histrionics.

The next day he arrives, with A in tow. She wouldn't miss this for the world, she says, as if it were a premiere of a movie. After all, he was like a father to her, too. Yes, right. Because she knew him all of one month. And spent about 20 hours total in person with him during that time. He was so like a father to her.

So the day of the wake comes. Italian wakes are dramatic and overwrought enough without half-witted celebrities in attendance. Especially half-witted celebrities who seem to have taken a little too much of their medication. She struts into the funeral home, dressed for the Oscars but apparently naked in the class department. She's carrying on about something and my ex's parents ask her to please wait in the sitting area while the wake is going on. They do not want her inside the room where the service is being held. She sullenly plops herself in a chair out in the hallway, pouting and petulant and waiting for the people strolling in to recognize her.

Later, I come out of the ladies room and I notice that A, still sitting and pouting in the chair, seems to be talking to herself in a soothing tone. And she's stroking her coat. I stare at her quizzically for a moment and then go back into the room where the wake is being held. I casually mention A's odd behavior to some family members and someone remarks that at least she's being a good sport by staying out there.

And with that comment, the doors to the room swing open and A walks in with a sweeping gesture and stands there, waiting to be noticed and admired. When no one stands up to applaud her entrance, she saunters her way towards the coffin, flipping her hair as she walks. She gets to the coffin, looks down at the man she barely knew yet whom was apparently a father figure to her, turns her head to make sure she has our rapt attention, and begins to wail. She's incoherent, crying, sobbing, and there is not a person in the room who doesn't know that it is all an act. We've seen her movies. We know bad acting when we see it. Suddenly she puts the back of her hand up to her forehead, 50's movie star style, and falls to the floor in a faint. No one moves to help her. She lays there, hand still on forehead, skirt hiked up, a spectacle on display. Finally, the director/relative comes over, picks her up and walks her out to the chair in the hallway.

The service continues. We sit there quietly, talking in hushed tones to people who come to offer their condolences. Every once in a while, when it becomes very, very quiet, we hear a squeaking sound. At first, I think it's a child crying. Someone else thinks it's a person with new, squeaky shoes. Maybe a mouse? We can't figure it out, but it stops and starts until it gets irritating enough for us to go investigate. We follow the sound of the squeak out of the wake room, into the hallway, right to the .....chair. The chair where A is sitting. And she's sitting there, talking to herself again and petting herself, and I realize it's not a squeak we were hearing at all, but a yip. Rising out of A's coat like a beast coming from her breasts is the head of a poodle. A tiny, toy poodle yipping away at us.

She brought her dog to a funeral. No one says anything, no one bothers to explain to her why we are mad, because just the fact that she doesn't understand our anger or bewilderment speaks volumes.

I haven't seen her since. By the end of that year I was separated from my husband, and his family, and I never had to deal with her again. Once in a while, a movie of hers will show up on cable at 3am and I'll get a good chuckle out of her acting, because I've seen her best piece of work and it's not on film.


--------------------- Monday is Quiz Day over at IHTOV. Today's theme is the 80's. --------------------

Blankets: Review

Blankets by Craig Thompson, Top Shelf Comix, 592 pages.

I've long been a proponent of the graphic novel as literature (see here, here and here). bl1.jpgToo often, graphic novels are cast off as nothing more than kid stuff, pronounced so be people who say the word comics with a sneer.

The reviews for Thompson's Blankets were nothing short of superlative. Perhaps this book, combined with the success of Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, will finally give graphic novels their due.

What sets Corrigan and Blankets apart from other GN's like Sandman, is these stories were not serialized before being set into graphic novel form. They are books, in the truest sense of the world.

Blankets, for a 500+ page book, is quick reading. That's not because the pages are mostly art and word bubbles, which get you through a book faster than a word-only tome. No, it's because once you start on Thompson's journey through his childhood and adolescence, you are transfixed by the beauty and wonder of both the words and pictures. You don't want to put it down and, like any good book should make you feel, you don't want it to end.

Thompson's documentation of his younger years is at once suffocating as it is gorgeous. The images of constant, heavy snow and the presence of constant, heavy-handed religion give the story a weighty, ominous tone, made even more pronounced by the theme of dependence that runs through the book.

Thompson is able to take the darker themes and intertwine them with the wistful, bittersweet yearnings of first love. He captures the very essence of this rite of passage, from the first unsure glances to the breathlessness of being consumed by the fire in your heart.

The drawings are simple and delicate; Thompson is able to convey emotions so well that one panel can introduce a thousand words in your mind, almost making text unecessary. But the text that accompanies the art never comes off as redundant or obvious; Thompson creates art within art, using his words to enhance, rather than accompany, the drawings. Or is is the other way around? Perhaps the drawings are there to enhance the words.

Either way, it all makes for a beautiful, poignant story. Thompson pours his guts skillfully, spilling his fears, doubts and hopes about love, family, religion and himself on every page.

It's certainly literature and it's certainly art. The two should be free to flow together not just for children, but for adults who know the value of putting words and pictures together.

Thompson won two Ignatz Awards this year, for Outstanding Graphic Novel and Outstanding Artist (both for Blankets)

Craig Thompson is also the author of Goodbye, Chunky Rice.

November 14, 2004

The Unseen Glitter of Life*

I finished Blankets in two hours on Friday and read all of What Happened to Henry yesterday (reviews this week). Interesting - and unintended - juxtaposition of themes. I read more during this time of year than any other. There's something about the short days and long shadows that make me want to close myself off in someone else's world, to read passages that make me think and wonder and, most of all, want to write again. I go through phases with my fiction. I have since I first started writing - mostly ghost stories - at thirteen. I fall in love with my own words, revisit them again later and begin to loathe them. Like most spent love affairs, the looking back always makes you wonder what you saw the first time around. Until I was nearing thirty, my fiction was of the live of others. I kept my past, present and future off the pages and concentrated on breathing life into an entirely made up persona, so no friends or family could later on (back when I harbored dreams of having my work published) claim that I was writing about them, or about things that happened while they were there. Of course, that's what was missing. By keeping my soul out of the stories, I kept the heart out as well. Write what you know, they say. While I don't know anything of murder or suicide or infidelity or any of the other dramatics that grace the piles of loose leaf paper stuffed in boxes in my garage, I do know of failure and broken hearts and black bottomed despair - things many of my characters experience at one point or another, but whose travels through these emotions fell flat on the pages because I tried too hard to keep my own emotions out. Blogging has been a bit of self-discovery for me. Almost four years of writing nearly every day, several times a day, and the little things, the unnoticed things, seep out every once in a while, forcing me to explore what lies beneath them. It's why so often you'll find the personal posts here, tucked between screeds about war and politics. I alternately puke and weep on these pages so to speak, and then I just leave the mess there for everyone to see. In between reading books this weekend, I've gone back through my archives and started reading, mostly the very personal entries I've made here. See, it's November. It's startling what a season or a song can do to you. The smell of burning leaves, the opening strains to a song that played constantly on the radio at a time when you were at your darkest - they can kick you in the gut with nothing more than the force of their memories, sucking all the wind out of your lungs. Back in November of 1998, I was in a particularly black place. It had been two years since my marriage dissolved. In those two years I had gone from experiencing the joy that freedom from a bleak existence gave me to a deep, dark depression that started in the pit of my stomach and crawled slowly into my heart and mind, eating away at any of the happiness I felt at having escaped what seemed like a death sentence. The depression was a breeding monster inside of me, giving birth to feelings that I had kept at bay my whole life; emptiness, loneliness, fear, failure. I wallowed in all of this because to do anything else, to not accept these feelings, would be to feel nothing. To be hollow. There are few things worse a human being can experience than the feeling of not having any feelings. It's as if a giant, craggy hand has reached inside of you and pulled and pulled until it has ripped from you every ounce of blood, every muscle and bone that existed inside you and replaced it with cold, hard steel. You are no longer human. So, to feel despair and bitter, intense anger would be a step up from the nothingness - an anti-emotion I once thought existed only within Nine Inch Nails lyrics. I welcomed the pain, the raw hatred, the seething animosity because they made me human, in a way. Fate called on Thanksgiving evening that November. Just a series of circumstances that led me to be in the right place at the right time, when a soft, gentle hand reached out to me, slapping away the monstrous hand that had been pulling my guts out. For three months after, those hands fought it out for control of my most inner emotions. In early March, the battle was over. I emerged smiling. And that's how things changed dramatically within such a short time. That's why early November with it's striking colors and crisp wind and bleak, gray rains backed by a NIN soundtrack will make me make me at once morose and bitter, but early December, with its chance of snow and twinkling, colored lights will make me feel more melancholy; a small sadness tinged with creeping optimism. And March, once such a bleak, dreary month, brings on its winds such sweet memories that I can find instant happiness in nothing more than a breeze. Things change, indeed. What was important just two weeks ago can become boring and trite. What seemed impossible yesterday can, with just a gentle nudge from outside forces, seem real today. What was eating at your insides last month can be nothing more than a minor annoyance now, when looked at in through the lens of a different season or heard through the music of a different song. Maybe a book will come your way that will be all those things - the words within the pages are the wind, the music, the snow that remind you and lift you. All of that together - all of the reading of the past, the reliving of the emotions, the glimpse into the lives of strangers who let me in with a few pen strokes - make me realize many things, not the least of which is how I've fooled myself into thinking I didn't want to continue writing fiction. I see now that I was afraid to write it, and I used this place to keep that fear's grip on me. Fear of failure is a powerful thing. But I've realized through all the self introspection that comes with reading nearly four years worth of spilled emotions that not trying not to fail would be worse in the long run than failure itself. I keep going back to that night in Thanksgiving 1998, when I weighed the options of taking a chance at another heart break or not taking the chance and continuing to be this blank slate of a person. Life is all about chances, cliched as that may sound. And the early fall despair-by-memory that I feel every year always gives way to March. I couldn't have spring without autumn. I think I finally found what I've been looking for. It's not success, it's not riches or fame. It's just the road. I don't care where the road ends or if I ever get to the end. I've only been looking for the road itself and I finally uncovered it, beneath a pile of burning leaves and four years worth of words piled upon one another like a jagged mountain. I've certainly learned a lot about myself here, mostly what I'm capable of. I've also learned, in the past month or so, what I don't want and don't need. You would think a person would figure this all out before they were 42 years old. Perhaps some of us are just slow learners. But it's in the learning that we really live. This should not be taken as a swan song; I'm not leaving. I'm just walking. This place will follow wherever this road is taking me, however self-indulgent those places may be. It will not be nearly as interesting to you as it is to me. *

November 12, 2004

Draw Your Own Conclusions

1. I left work early and stopped at the library on the way home. Picked up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell; Blankets, which I'd been meaning to read forever, and two other mildly interesting looking books. 2. Yesterday, we were fortunate to have handed to us good-as-new living room furniture. Not only is the couch incredibly comfortable, but the bottom slides out to bed length. 3. We have absolutely no plans for this weekend. Lack of funds suggest that plans will not be forthcoming. 4. It is cold, rainy and miserable outside. I have lots of warm, cozy blankets and five different flavors of herbal tea. Plus, a huge box of hot chocolate and a bag of marshmallows. That is all.

Why Don't You All F-F-Fade Away?

I find aging rock and rollers creepy. There's something very disturbing about a 50-60 year old men still jumping around on stage in spandex pants, smashing guitars and crooning metal ballads that were written with 15 year old girls in mind. I look at Roger Daltrey, Steven Tyler and Gene Simmons and I'm reminded of that lecherous guy at the end of the local bar, the one who looks like he's been sitting there since 11am doing nothing but drinking and degenerating. And when he winks at you, it's with an imagined confidence of someone who still insists on believing he's sexy and seventeen. If the Who (or what's left of them) want to put out a new album, more power to them. It's not the agonizing prolonging of a stale career that bothers me. It's the inevitable tour that makes me cringe. Roger Daltrey is 60 years old. Sixty. 6-0. Now imagine him standing on a stage, facing an arena packed with thousands of others who can't let their youth go, and this man who has been eligible for AARP membership for ten years already starts singing about....his generation? People try to put us d-down/Just because we get around/Things they do look awful c-c-cold /I hope I die before I get old .. Well, so much for that idea. Old has come and gone for both Roger and Pete. The real bite is taken out of "they're all wasted!" when you look like this instead of this. It's not just the elderly rockers that have this age-image problem. I can't help but giggle when 30-something Fred Durst sings about doing it all for the nookie. Does Marilyn Manson ever feel silly when he's dabbing on his makeup, getting ready for another night of snarling at an audience made up of kids young enough to be his own? Do the guys in Slayer ever thing, gee, we're grown up, we have families and minivans and pets and man, faking this primal anger thing is getting old? Maybe there should be a mandatory cut-off age for people to able to rock out on stage. Is there anyone out there who still wants to stare at David Lee Roth's crotch as he attempts a balls-defying split? In leather pants? Hey, these guys can make all the records they want, but I think we need to put a stop to the full-on stadium shows the Viagra generation of rock stars are still putting on. Fifty year old men should not be singing lyrics like She said 'I'll show you how to fax/In the mailroom, honey/And have you home by five' to throngs of barley dressed, barely teen girls. Fifty year old men should not be stomping around a stage in ten inch heels and make up while exhorting the crowd to rock and roll all night and party every day. It's just wrong. Oh, yea. I know what you're thinking. And you're right. I'm a hypocrite. While I find it loathsome to see grown men prancing around in leopard striped pants and too-high hair squealing about doing it in the old man's Ford, I have no problem still listening to the stuff even though I am loathe to watch the artists perform it. But it's different. Because when I'm driving in my car, banging my fists on the steering wheel and summoning up righteous teenage anger as I moan that all I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, Mike Muir and I are both young again. I don't have to stare mortality in the face by looking at him on stage and forcing myself to recognize not only are we old, but that freaking kid should have moved his lazy ass and gotten his own dam Pepsi. Which all reminds me of a previously blogged conversation between DJ and myself: DJ: Mom, it's kinda weird that you're 40 years old and still listen to Anthrax. Mom: Hon, Scott Ian is 40 years old and he's still in Anthrax. It's real easy for me to summon up the angst and anger that made all these songs so important to me. I can relive an entire decade by singing just one lyric. But I'm not wearing fourteen tons of anti-aging cream and standing before 10,000 people of some other generation while I do it. Some day the old guy at the end of the bar will accept the fact that he just doesn't have it anymore. I'll kind of miss him winking at me, but we'll always have the jukebox.

rock star

I'm switching betwee FOX and CNN this morning, watching the Ramallah crowds edge closer and closer to unmanageable. Right now the atmopshere is like that of an packed arena about fifteen minutes before the start of a rock show. I'm just waiting for the giant sized beach balls, or for someone to announce the arrival of the corpse of Arafat with "Helloooooo Ramallaahhhhhhhh, are you reaadddyyyyyyyyyyyy? What? I can't hear you! I said, ARE. YOU. READY?" And why am I rivited to the television? The same reason you are. To see how fast this gets real ugly. What? You expected respectful observance? Not bloody likely.

November 11, 2004


Had an entirely pleasant day today away from the computer. No offense, but I enjoyed the hell out of this day. I'm compiling a list of Flash games (for reasons too mundane to mention) and I've realized that 9 out of every 10 web games consist of grouping some shape or color into threes. Is this genre dead yet? Please? No more Diamond Mine rip offs. Ever. Got any neat Flash games for me? Difficulty: No RPGs, no Lemonade Stand, nothing that can't be played during a ten minute break at work. Nameless, faceless people thank you in advance.

i saw some people stompin' around sayin' disco sucks*

Over at IHTOV, an essay on the real war that divided America in the 1970's. *

Thank You

[click for bigger] ---------- Taken at the Eishenhower Park Veteran's Memorial, Long Island. See a slideshow of photos from the memorial here. The President's Veteran's Day proclamation History of Veteran's Day

November 10, 2004

Big Fun! Survey Says: Worst. Lyrics. Ever.

I know we've done this before, but I am in serious need of something fun around here, so humor me. Some obscure British magazine surveyed people to find the worst song ever. Being British, they came up with a very Brit-centric list, consisting of a lot of songs I've never heard of before (Fog on the Tyne? What the hell is that?). However, they did have the good taste to call The Beatle's "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" the top of the worst, as it were. Now, there are an awful lot of bad songs out there, this we know. But let's try to keep this to songs that are god awful just for the lyrics alone. I've already explained why I think Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" is one of the worst lyrical experiences in rock music. And we all know that Muskrat Love is terrible, but let's keep it to rock music specifically and weed out any novelty songs like The Streak. In fact, let's make it worst lyrics ever rather than worst songs, just to make it a wee bit different than other things I've done here. This way, no one can chime in with Sum 41 songs just on the basis that they suck. To recap the rules: Really bad lyrics, rock music only, no Muskrat Love. I know I should put this on this site, but I need to change the black karma floating around these pages and this will do nicely.

what you have wrought

With "you" referring to some people, not all. 1) I will no longer be appearing in my own comments. I use my blog to say what I have to say and when I'm done, I'm done. If you would like to discuss it with others in my comments, go right ahead. I will read every single comment. However, what I have to say about a subject starts and stops with the post at issue. 2) I will not be returning email sent to this domain name for a great long while. All email is going into a folder to be marked "maybe some day when people aren't so god damn nosy and self righteous." Those who I correspond with regularly know the alternate address(es) to use. If you're waiting on a return mail from me stemming from an email in which you a) asked entirely personal questions; b) demanded I respond to your inquisitions or c) berated me for one thing or another, don't hold your breath. I am also, at this time, not responding to any emails from people looking for links to other blogs, charities, begathons for the greater good, holiday season blogging/linking for causes or coalitions begun to raise money for one thing or another. I already have three of four pet charities in mind that I collect money for during the holiday season (and other times of the year) and I'll be pimping those out. Besides, to be honest, one or two people who tried to make me feel guilty for not immediately responding to their request for a charitable link ruined if for everyone else who wants one. I'm just one blogger, people. One blogger who is steadily declining in the ecosystem race. Perhaps it's time to bang on other people's doors for a bit. I would really like to find the exact moment in time this stopped being fun. And I sure as hell would like to put the fun back in it. Right now I see the blogosphere as a stinking carcass of a once beautiful animal and all of us vultures are still picking at it, even though its festered with maggots and there's not much meat left. Which is when we all start pecking at each other, I guess. Frankly, you don't taste all that great. And you give me heartburn. I hate not having fun doing this. I hate that it's become so much agita. Maybe there's a twelve step program for getting rid of my 2004 election season blogging malaise. I need to find a sponsor, someone who doesn't believe, like I do, that the fun has been sucked right out of this thing. Update: Sorry if I gave the impression that I'm quitting. No, I'm just quitting having pointless conversations with certain people.

say it ain't so!

Michele from A Small Victory is known more as a gun-totiní, ďbetter red than deadĒ mom then a sex kitten. Wait. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


New post up at I Have That on Vinyl, we're I'll be using audience participation to fill the void while I toil with the site design. If that all doesn't interest you, you can go spend some time reading through Treacher's HTML ode to apologists.

Vacation, all I ever wanted!

Several people have suggested that I need a vacation. Not a vacation from blogging, but a real, honest to goodness vacation with sea and sand and hot body massages and drinks with fancy umbrellas. For my own good, they say. Just go. Take a few sick days, get off your ass and go relax on a sunny beach for a while with your husband, they say. Great, I'll take you up on that suggestion. But here's what I need from you. I'll need one of you to act as taxi for my children. Natalie has drama practice every day after school and needs to be picked up at 5pm. She has model congress on Wednesday nights at 7:15 and Key Club on Monday nights at 7. Both the kids have religion on Tuesday nights, one at 6:15 and one at 7:15. DJ stays after school for homework club on Wednesdays, so someone has to pick him up at 4pm. Also, there will be rides to various friends' houses and the local band show on Friday night, which necessitates a ride home for both of them and five or six of their friends at 11pm. If someone could pick up the slack here at work while I'm gone that would be great. I don't have many vacation days left and as they force us to use our own time while the courts are closed during Christmas break, I need to save what I have. I'm thinking if one of you comes and works for me, they'll never notice the difference. Just wear lots of black and make strong coffee. They'll be none the wiser. Oh, that pile of crap on the desk won't go away on it's own. Do something with those files while I'm gone. Time sensitive! My car will be getting some transmission work done this week. If someone could pick it up on Friday, that would be great. Don't forget to pay Gus. With your own checkbook/credit card, thanks. Then there's that little matter of money. I'll need money for plane tickets, hotel accommodations, food and, of course, the drink you say I so desperately need. That's a lot of cash, I know, but we're pretty tapped out here (don't forget we're new homeowners) and any checks I write for air fare and such will most likely bounce. We were also supposed to start doing work on the home office this week, as it's November and the temperatures are already dipping below freezing and the office windows are about 40 years old, with some panes actually missing. So if you want to go ahead and get started on installing the heating and caulking the few good windows, that would be great. It would be nice to come home to a warm office for a change. Back to the kids, I'll need someone trustworthy to stay with them while we're gone. You must be able to cook decent meals (don't forget Nat is a vegetarian and DJ is a real picky eater), help with homework including earth science, algebra and American Sign Language, get spyware off of their computer, find lost shoes and coats, have a high tolerance for whining and get both the kids to their respective orthodontist and doctor appointments and guitar lessons. And please don't leave any dirty dishes in the sink. I think that about covers everything. So as soon as all you "go take a long beach vacation" people get together and figure out a schedule as to who is covering what, and as soon as a few thousand dollars appear in my PayPal account, Justin and I will be headed for Club Med. Thank a bunch, you guys are swell! Update: It should be stated for clarification that even if thousands of dollars suddenly appeared in my bank account and Mary Poppins offered to watch the kids, it would be very unikely that I would get on a plane and head for the beach, as my near agoraphobia would more likely than not keep me from ever doing such a thing. But I could spread a blanket out in the living room and pretend! Thousands of dollars would buy an awful lot of tequila.

Imagine humanity's decline*

In which I am overly self-referential. Back in October of 2003, I made the claim that 2004 would end up looking like 1968. I think that's when I first trotted out my now overused West Side Story analogy. The thought started here:
There's a definite rumble coming. There's gangs lining up on every side; the terrorists here, the protesters there, the pro-war people, the Jew-haters, the Death To America crowd, the extremists and Bush haters; it's showdown time in the back alley! We've been dancing too long. The tension in the gym, all decorated with flags and anti-flags, depending on which side you are standing on, well, its become unbearable. We're gonna rumble like it's 1968.
I followed that up a week later with this thought about the left: bq. They have become a large, swarming mass, making a giant buzzing sound, just waiting for a reason to go all out. An election year gives them that reason. In July of this year, I called what the U.S. was experiencing a social civil war: bq. Welcome to the social civil war, where we are all soldiers, all victims and all losers, no matter who wins the election. I was thinking this over last night and I realized that perhaps my prediction for an 1968 style uprising or a civil war wasn't totally off base; I just had my dates wrong. Ok, so the reality of civil war may be far-fetched, but the ideas are out there, floating around, making their way from obscure blogger to major media columnist. Secession is the word of the day. And while a few people on the right are diving headlong into this swamp of an idea, it's mostly being bandied about by the left. Jesusland, indeed. Papers like the Boston Herald and Newsday are letting their columnists entertain thoughts of civil war and secession. This is not something just being played out in the sewers of Democratic Underground. Secession is the new black! It's interesting to watch the red state/blue state gang fight heat up. I've already heard arguments over which side would have better health care and which side would be more economically stable. You may think it's the tree hugging hippies vs. the God-fearing fascists, but you'd be dead wrong about that. Hell, it's not even a blue v. red thing anymore, as the Northeast is now claiming superiority over the south, totally taking the west coast and the heartland out of the civil war equation. It can be mighty confusing and someone needs to make a scorecard to keep track of which state is joining which secession movement. I honestly thought the great divide would come before the elections were held. I thought we would lapse into a civil war sometime during the summer, complete with deathly riots and martial law. I assumed that once the election was over, no matter who won, the anger would subside as we got on with the business of getting our country in shape and sharpening our respective parties up for the great knife fight of 2008. Boy, was I wrong. The rage is only starting to heat up now. The whole past year it's just been set on simmer. Not only is no one turning the flame down, they've turned the gas up even higher. The thing is, I have no horse in the race. And that's what frightens me the most. While you would think it would be a good thing to just be an observer in this rumble, it's not. It's like standing in the middle of two bulldozers bearing down on you and having nowhere to go. You're an obstacle, a bump to be razed, a fly to be swatted. Where do people like myself go in this overblown gang fight? People like Michael Totten or Roger Simon, who do not define themselves as red or blue, tree hugger or God-fearer, north or south, heartland or LaLa land. Everyone seems to be moving to their side of the line, but I don't know where to go. It's not that I really want to pick a side. But it's strange feeling disinvited to both parties. If the right really wants to embrace the notion of Jesusland, even to a lesser extent, I'll be pushed out of the fold. I've already been pushed out of the left and although that was mostly of my own accord, the door still hit my ass on the way out. It's not easy being in the middle. You hear the slings and arrows buzz past you from both sides. While you're ducking the stones being thrown from the left, you get hit in the head with a bullet from the right. If I had to absolutely make a choice, if America was physically splitting down the middle and one side was blue and the other red, I think you know where I would go. The left has become too ugly, dark and dangerous to ever think of siding with them again. I've seen reasonable people slide so fast into the depths of vitriolic insanity that I they became unrecognizable within mere weeks. In a way, I'm astonished at what I see happening to this country post-election. Even though I predicted that it would become this ugly and divisive, I thought I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole most of the time. But it's here and it's real and it's out there. It's moved away from the blogosphere, away from the fringe elements that meet in dank basements making subversive flyers. It's out here in our daily newspapers, on our news shows, on the afternoon drive radio. So here we have the left engaging in mockery and ridicule, further alienating themselves from the rest of the world. That the two memes swarming the left - Jesusland and the notion of them being reality-based (as opposed to what?) - tells you something of their attitude towards the rest of you. But they aren't the only problem. Because now I'm suddenly a target not just for the left, but for the right. I'm being told I must fight the good fight, rethink my stance on gay issues, abortion, the definition of family and religion. I'm seeing the first hints of alienation. They got my war on terror vote. I was part of them for this whole election cycle, working side by side to get Bush elected. And now that the election is over, I've been given a put up or shut up demand. Bad enough to get the bullets from the opposing party, I'm now being eased out the door of my own. So what happens when the civil war takes place and the blue secedes from the red? Where do I go? Where does anyone like me go? Will it be like fifth grade gym class, with me standing on the sideline wondering if anyone will want me on their dodgeball team? It didn't really matter which team I was on, anyhow, as I had no friends at all. Everyone hated me. Wheee! It's fifth grade all over again, except this time, the fate of a nation is at stake. Please, let me just end up on the side with the stronger kids, then. Will we have to choose a side ourselves and just become a stranger in a strange land or do we find a small, unused island and just go there to wait it out while the unhinged fight it out with the moral crusaders? It's so easy to get caught up in all the anger-fueled adrenaline that's floating through the country right now. It would be so easy for me to just pick up a knife and join in the fight, even if the red guys aren't going to accept me wholly. But that's not what I want. That would make me no better than the great unhinged masses that are calling for assassination, dead soldiers, terrorist attacks, riots and civil war. They seem to be getting swept up in this hurricane of bile and violence and it's fascinating, if completely revolting, to watch. As much as my Republican compatriots are trying to drag me into their lair, at least they're not coming to a street fight with nuclear bombs. But, hey, whatever gets your point across, right? Means to an end and all that. Personally, I'd rather hang out with the folks in Jesusland than with people who think the idea of starving all red staters to death is funny. But that's just me. Anyhow, someone let me know when the sides are finally drawn up. I think I'd like very much to go back to just reading comic books and playing video games and letting people with less anxiety issues than I worry about the world. It's not like I can do a damn thing, anyhow, when I have no place to stand in this fight. * Further reading for your enjoyment. Update: For the comprehension impaired, I'm not saying that I think secession will ever be anything more than just bloated post-election braying. It's the cutting animosity rising out of the talk about it that worries me more. And more further reading here.

November 09, 2004

new header

Art by my husband. Underlying message worth 1,000 words by me.

i heart stacy

Message here.

Addition to the ASV Family! [repost]

[REPOST FROM THIS MORNING. This will stay at top for most of the day, as I'm too busy and/or aggravated with the human race to do any more posting today.] I Have That on Vinyl is now open. With open thread goodness. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, pass the link around in chain mails, coerce everyone you know into stopping by! A politics free site for these troubled times! Fun! Games! Nostalgia! Lots of exclamation points!!!! Contributors welcome, by the way. See the site for details.

email of the day (arafat edition) [updated - again]

Ed to me, on the news that Arafat just won't stay dead. bq. Roy Scheider needs to jam an oxygen tank down his throat and shoot him in the neck. I opened up Photoshop intending to do something with that, but got busy here at work. Just putting the idea out there..... Update: What do we infer from this Drudge headline? deadundead.jpg That's right. Arafat is a zombie. Everyone get out your books and turn to Chapter One. Ok, the Jaws poster didn't work out, so I went the zombie route. [click for bigger]

check your morals at my door

[insert full-on rant warning here] Iíve been writing about the ďvocal minorityĒ the past few days; they would be the group of Americans who have suddenly crowned themselves the morality police. This is not a slam on Christians because this group is made of up of much more than Christians and they have less to say about religion than they do about how you and I should live our lives. Perhaps the reelection of a conservative president has emboldened them. They see the perceived red state/blue state divide as a chance to rush in and push their mandate on everyone. Iíve seen it in media interviews, Iíve seen it in OpEds, Iíve seen it here in comments and oh, have I seen it in email. Interesting to note that the people with the most inflammatory things to say often do it in a rather private venue (email) then a public one (comments). One person in the comments on my Simpsons post wrote: bq. I wonder if the producers of the Simpsons and a lot of other so-called entertainment vehicles are sorry they have these installment in the can already. There's a new clean wind sweeping the land and vulgarity and violence are out. Really? If that's true then I'd like to know who gets to be the arbiter of what is too vulgar or too violent for my own good. I have a big problem with people who think they know what is best for my and my family, who think that they have a moral superiority that enables them to determine what I should and should not be seeing/hearing/reading. Morality should not be legislated. And it's not just ultra conservatives who want to shove their values down your throat. It comes from both sides. The PC left wants to obliterate passages from textbooks; the fringe right wants to obliterate entire songs from playing on the radio. Someone please explain to me why I need to live according to your ideals? I'm glad there are movies out there with violence, vulgarity and sex. You know why? Because I like them. I curse like a drunken sailor (oops, is that offensive to sailors? Should I take that passage out?). I like to talk about sex. I watch tv shows with lots of graphic violence. Who are you to take try to take that all away from me? What exactly is your agenda? Would you like television to consist of nothing but Little House on the Prairie reruns interspersed with Davey and Goliath clips? Do you want to ban everything you donít like or that doesnít fit your moral ideals? What about radio? Letís just get all the disc jockeys off the air and let muzak fill the airwaves! Movies? Iím not sure what you want there. You donít like Disney movies because the Disney company likes them gay folk too much. And if we discount anything rated PG13 and up, that doesnít leave us with a whole lot of options, does it? Perhaps thatís what you want, for our only entertainment options to be the ones you would choose. Are you worried about your children being subjected to filth in the media? Do your think your children are becoming desensitized by what they see and hear? Then maybe you should be more vigilant about what youíre letting them see and hear. You have a right to teach your children your own morals, but you do not have a right to try to teach my children the same. Iíve gotten lecturing emails on the definition of family. Not just the definition of marriage, but of a family as whole. Donít you dare lecture me on divorce. My life is not yours and for you to think that you have some sovereign right to set forth the guidelines for how much I must take before I leave a marriage, you need to get the hell down off your high values horse. I suppose a woman who gets abused by her husband should just consider herself damn lucky she has a husband at all? Hereís a news flash: Most people do not get married for the sole purpose of procreating. Are people who choose to remain childless or people who canít conceive really that much of a wrench in your cog that you feel the need to make them feel less than human for not bringing another being into this world? Where do you get your nerve from? Does your imagined righteousness get in the way of critical thinking? Your ďnew wind of moralityĒ will always be just that; a wind. You will never gain the full force hurricane blasts you want to sweep us up with because you keep forgetting one thing: America is about freedom. We have the freedom of choice, the freedom to listen to crappy satanic music, the freedom to watch movies where people get stomped on by alien monsters, freedom to watch tv shows that ooze sexuality, freedom to underline all the smutty parts in a good novel. You may think you have the right to take that all away from us, but you donít and you never will. The people holding fast to the idea that they will cover the nation in their moral blanket do not realize how much they have in common with the people on the other side of the political/moral chasm. Whether it be the PC police knocking on your door or the morality marauders, their end goal is the same thing: To force you to live within their personal idea of utopia. Iíll make my own utopia, thank you. If I want to lock myself in my house and watch every vulgar, violent movie imaginable while I reminisce happily about my divorce and commiserate with my childless friends, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop me. You can look down on me through your holier-than-thou glasses, but the only time Iím ever going to give you any notice after this is when Iím throwing rocks at your glass house. Shorter version of this post: Shut the fuck up, Donny.

November 08, 2004

An Open Letter to The Simpsons

homerbroke.jpgDear Simpsons,

I've done it to myself again. I waited in giddy anticipation for you to show up last night. I was all dressed up and waiting to go. Oh, you showed up all right, but I think it would have been better for you to stand me up than to show up with five day old stubble and stinking like a homeless guy who had just peed himself for the fifth time today. You let me down again and I'm writing to finally say my good-bye.

Itís actually been a long time coming. Iíve just been in denial about it because I didnít want it to end. Itís been a wonderful affair, a grand ride on this roller coaster of love and laughs. I mean, weíve been together since 1987! Thatís the longest Iíve stayed in a relationship of this kind. Kudos to you for that, really. You put a lot of work into the early years and I canít blame you for wanting to hang on to the glory. I just wish you could see it from where I stand. Youíve gotten fat and ugly. You let yourself go.

I thought I would give you one last chance to get your act together before I made the big break. Alas, you have given me no choice but to finally detach from the last shreds of hope that were binding us together. I must let you go.

Last nightís effort was, in a word, lame. I thought you would wine and dine me and present me with expensive tokens and bent-knee hand kissing in an attempt to keep me as yours. It wasnít until about 9pm last night, after thinking about it for almost two years, that I allowed myself to come to grips with the reality that you are no longer what I want, nor need. You have become televisionís Tom Glavine, hanging around only because leaving on your own accord would be to admit that youíre past your prime.

Iíve had my longest, most arduous televison affair with you. I would sneak out of a family family functions just to be with you on Sunday evenings. Ah, the things we do for love. And then there are the things we do when that love becomes old and tired because only one person in the relationship is even trying anymore. And try I did.

Ok, Iíll admit that there are other shows that warm the spot you used to have in my bed. Yes, Iíve been fulfilling my lusty need for immature, animated humor elsewhere, courting Family Guy and other Adult Swim residents to satisfy me in ways you just canít anymore.

After last nightís performance, I donít feel any guilt in discarding you without so much as a farewell pity fuck. I'm no longer going to slip into bed with you, and I'm not letting you back in, even if you claim you just want your albums back. Iíve been fooled by you before.

Weíll always have the past seventeen years. Iíll be happy to reminisce with repeats every night at 6 and 6:30 pm, reliving the glory days like a woman masturbating to memories of a long gone lover. I know youíre planning on putting out for at least three more years, but this is one lover of yours that wonít be dropping trou for you.

Good luck, Simpsons, and thanks for the good times.


By the Way

There's a really nice article on my dad's efforts with the Nassau County Firefighter's Museum in today's Newsday. See posts here and here for reference.

Jesusland Flavored Kool-Aid

I do believe the Democrats have just switched one brand of Kool-Aid for another. Their new drink is Jesusland flavored and they are swallowing it by the gallon. koolaidjesus.jpgIf you read them correctly - and I'm not just talking about the fringe elements here, but your everyday journalists, talking heads, bloggers and Democrat on the street - the Christians are coming and they are going to burn crosses on your door and kidnap your heathen babies. Oh, sure, I've said that I don't want to see this administration move towards the religious right. The difference between the Kool-Aid drinkers and myself is that they truly believe this is going to happen while I don't. Despite a rather vocal minority looking to instill their values on the masses and despite the jihad against Arlen Specter, there is no mass movement afoot to baptize everyone in the name of Jesus Christ. The Democrats seem to think that two things lost them the election: Christians and idiots.
I haven't heard any of the postelection commentators talk about ignorance and its effect on the outcome. It's all values, all the time. Traumatized Democrats are wringing their hands and trying to figure out how to appeal to voters who have arrogantly claimed the moral high ground and can't stop babbling about their self-proclaimed superiority. Potential candidates are boning up on new prayers and purchasing time-shares in front-row-center pews.
Perhaps the author of that piece, Bob Herbert, and all those who subscribe to his beliefs should take a look at the stats here and check out the swing voter constituent. Funny how those of us who voted for Nader or Gore last time around are now considered too stupid to breathe. What a difference four years makes. And I wonder if the Dems aren't being willfully ignorant in glossing over the other mitigating factors in their loss, the most blatant being that John Kerry was just not electable material. No one is talking about swing voters, the war on terror voters, security moms, first time voters. All we are hearing is how the moral majority sunk their claws into the too stupid to think for themselves hicks and brainwashed them into voting for a religious mandate that would sweep the nation and force us all to kneel down on Sunday and praise Jesus. And what do you get when you put the Christians and the rest of us idiots together? Why, you get the forces of darkness, marshaled in by the great Satan, Karl Rove. Wait. Dark forces? You mean we aren't going to spend the next four years going to church on Sundays and having potluck dinners where we discuss the declining morality of prime time television while our subservient Stepford children read from books on creationism? I'm confused. Are we headed for the rapture or the wrath of hell? In the above linked article, Maureen Dowd mentions that Bush's presidency will stir intolerance. Maureen doesn't know how right she is. In fact, it's already begun. Except the intolerance isn't sprouting out from where Ms. Dowd expects it. Instead, it's coming from the, oh so tolerant, all inclusive, for-the-people left. How else do you explain this? Suddenly, formerly sane blogger Layne and tons of other lefty bloggers are having a grand old time insulting, denigrating and slurring Christians. Just curious, but how do you think those lefty bloggers would feel if I spoke the same way about Muslims? Isn't the whole Jesusland concept just what they get on Charles at Little Green Footballs for when he takes on radical Muslims? Suddenly, the left side of the blogosphere is awash in mass hysteria about how those religious white folks with their bibles and their homophobia are going to destroy your lives. What makes this any different than when a right bloggers says that Islam is the "Religion of Peace" in a sarcastic manner? If I wrote half what these guys are writing about Christians about Muslims, I would be inundated with accusations of bigotry and blind hate. And guess what? Those hurling the accusations at me would claim I was following the lead of the great crowd of ignorant conservatives, that I'm a sheep, a mindless drone who has fallen for propaganda. But look at yourselves. Your guy lost the election so now it's ok to behave in a manner you once found ugly? Now it's ok to be the party of exclusion, to think you are morally and intellectually superior to one specific religious group or culture and to show that contempt in blatant form? Don't even attempt to crowd the comments here with the "but look at what Blogger X said" crap. I don't care what anyone on the right is saying right now because I am addressing specific issues here: How the Democrats, the left, the liberals, whatever they want to call themselves, have suddenly decided it's ok to pass around the jugs filled with smug hatred, to lick their lips as they drool the slobbering bigotry all over themselves, to become everything they always claimed they weren't. Healing? Coming together? Uniting? Forget it. Raw hatred and fear of those who have different moral issues than you is where it's at. Let me reiterate again, before the trolls kick in: I'm no pro-lifer, I'm an atheist and pro gay marriage. Yet, oddly, I'm not afraid that a group of holy rollers is going to knock down my door, put a lock on my uterus, force me to pray and make me read Jack Chick tracts about the gay agenda. Maybe that ignorance finger is being pointed in the wrong direction. ---- More on the Jesusland myth here. And more fresh commentary plus linky goodness here.

Limerick Winner

Congratulations to Richthofen of Blind Chick Racing, who is the winner of the post-election limerick contest. His winning entry: After Bill and his infamous zipper The left brought forth a flop-flipper But the might of the right 'Twas not blinded in sight And another was won for the Gipper. Congratulations to Richthofen, who will be receiving a $10 gift certificate from Amazon for his efforts. Thanks to everyone who entered and/or voted.

November 07, 2004

That's Incredible

Just came back from seeing The Incredibles (after visiting Grandpa). Full review some other time. Ill just say it was, indeed, incredible. Seated behind us was a family. Throughout the entire movie, the mother and father insisted on not only talking back to the screen, but reciting some parts of the movie along with the characters. As if that weren't annoying enough, the plump little child chewed her popcorn with her mouth wide open so I could hear every crunch and bite and swallow. So it was crunch, don't go in there, freeze!, crunch, swallow, get out of the way, Elastigirl! for a good portion of the movie. Then there was the guy in the front row who kept yelling out phrases like yeeeeha! and wooohooo! and jumping out of his seat just a little each time. Was that a popcorn box in his lap or was he just glad to....nevermind. And you wonder why some people download illegal copies of movies and watch them at home? I'll pay the legal price for running Bit Torrent some day if it means I can watch movies without spending the equivalent of the GNP a small country, having to listen to a little cow chew her cud while her parents talk out loud to cartoon characters and some overgrown cowboy is enjoying his movie experience just a little too much for my comfort. But, yes; the movie was great.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Today is my only living grandparent's 95th birthday. We're going to visit Grandpa Joe in a bit, but I thought I'd reminisce first. I've written about Grandpa every year since I've been blogging; below are the three posts I've made on previous birthdays (or parts of). Reading over these, I can see I made some sort of transition in my thoughts about Grandpa being locked away in a world only he knows. Sorry if there is repitition within the excerpts below, I wasn't sure what to copy and paste in order to accurately relay all the different feelings about Grandpa. It's a long read, and strictly personal in the navel gazing sense. I've put it here for my own reasons. If you go ahead and read the whole thing, I thank you. I'm sure Grandpa would, too. He likes when people talk about him. We're bringing him cake and ice cream in a bit. I'll post this year's thoughts and photos later. Anyhow, Happy Birthday, Grandpa Joe. May we all live so long and well. ----------- 2001: I don't visit my grandfather nearly as often as I should. He lives in the Townhouse, an "assited living facility" just about a mile from my home. It's a nice place; clean and friendly with quality care. It is large structure that looks like condominium, and I pass it every day on my way to work and my way home. I don't go for many reasons, some of them selfish. Maybe all of them selfish. I don't like the smell of old people. I don't like facing mortality, mine or my grandfather's. I don't like seeing him strapped to a wheelchair, half the man he used to be. I don't have the time, the patience, the good will it takes to go there as often as my mother does. I do feel bad about this, but apparently not bad enough to make an effort to get there more often. Grandpa Joe turned 92 yesterday. So tonight, we packed up a birthday-in-a-bag and headed over to Townhouse. Me, my two sisters, our respective significants and children and my parents. We took grandpa into a private room set up for just such occasions and pulled the festivities out of the bag; a Happy Birthday banner, plates, cups and an ice cream cake. Grandpa was absolutely delighted. He had no idea we were coming. I don't know if he even knew it was his birthday until we got there. This is the thing about Grandpa: he flutters between cognizance and an alternate reality. When we got there, he was mentally alert and thrilled to see us. We talked about the Yankees and wrestling and the kids. He made his usual jokes, asking when Natalie was getting married and when DJ was getting a job. These are old jokes, the same ones he thought were so funny before he began to mentally drift away. We laughed in all the right places. He beamed. He told us stories about the barrel factory he worked in in Brooklyn, the Dodgers and aunts and uncles all dead now. He has always told us these stories, but he always tells them in different ways, not from rote memorization, and those are the moments when we know he is still with us. Somewhere in between cutting the cake and eating it, Grandpa Joe slipped into that place where his memories are phantoms and his thoughts are blurred. He told us he was going back to Brooklyn tonight, he was just waiting for his ride. When my father asked who was picking him up, he mentioned a relative that had been dead for 20 years. He asked me if I was taking good care of his car, and I just nodded and humored him and this made me feel bad. He fought with my mother, insisting that the Yankees were playing tonight, they hadn't lost the series last night, it was only 1-0. He called us by the wrong names, asked about events that never happened and asked my sister when she was getting married. She's been married 7 years, she told him, and he yelled at her for not inviting him to the wedding. It's unnerving to see someone unravel right before your eyes. Usually when I go see him is either coherent, and we talk about the past and the present and everything makes sense, or he is a little off kilter and we talk about the past and the future; about dead cousins who call him every night and tell him secrets and about when he is going to go back to his apartment in Uniondale, the one he hasn't lived in for 5 years. It's ok that way, because I can sense right away where he is at and I adjust the conversatoin accordingly. But seeing him go both ways in the space of two minutes made me feel off balance. A festive atmosphere turned quickly into a somber room and we milled about, cleaning up and not saying much. ---- 2002: 2002: This is Grandpa Joe. He is my only living grandparent. His wife, my mother's mother, died when I was a baby. My father's father died in 1991, his mother in 1998. Grandpa Joe lives in a place called The Townhouse. It's an assisted living facility and a nice one at that. It's clean and bright and they have a sunroon with a piano and arts and crafts and ice cream parties and picnics. But I never go see Grandpa Joe. The Townhouse is ten minutes from here at most. I would only have to stay a few minutes. He wouldn't even remember if I was there or not. But I don't go. I don't like the feel of the place and the smell of the place. Old people smell like death approaching. Most of them have blank stares and vacant minds and are just waiting. Waiting to die. No matter how many posters of kittens and vases full of flowers you decorate the facility with, it will still feel like a purgatory between life and death. A way station for the weary. Grandpa lived in Brooklyn. He worked in some kind of barrel factory, making barrels for pickles, I think. I remember hearing stories about pickles. Every Saturday, for as long as I can remember, Grandpa would come over with bagels. 10am he would be there, the bagels still hot and all of us at the table just waiting to slab the butter on. Grandpa would watch us slice the bagels and tell us we were holding the knife wrong. We were going to slice a finger off, he said. Grandpa has only half of one thumb. I think it was a pickle barrel accident. He would say the same thing every Saturday to each of us. "When are you getting married?" He said this when we were ten and when we were 18 and when we were married. One day not too many years ago, Grandpa had a car accident on his way to bring bagels. He never drove again. He went from the hospital to a senior citizen apartment complex back to the hospital and then to The Townhouse. In the beginning it was ok. We brought Natalie and DJ to see him and he would ask them when they were getting married. We brought him bagels. He always thought he was coming home. He asked for his car. He asked about his apartment, which was no longer his. He wanted to know when someone was picking him up to take him home. Things got fuzzy in his head soon after. He started calling people by the wrong names. He talked about visits from relatives long dead. He told stories about the nurses coming into his room at night and stealing his stuff. He said he had been to Brooklyn during the night. He had been to Yankee Stadium. His dead brother had been to see him. Last month, he told my mother he went to John Gotti's funeral. They had specifically asked that he come. In his mind, he did go. In his mind, he is not living in a facility, he is not held captive by his wheelchair, he is not alone at night. He cannot remember from day to day if I am still married, if his daughter is still married, or if he ever moved out of Brooklyn. But he always knows if the Yankees won or not. ----- 2003: That's (Great) Grandpa Joe with DJ, taken today. Grandpa turned 94 years old today and we all went to see him at his nursing home (which is, by nursing home standards, a luxurious mansion) for a little party.

It bothered me at first when Grandpa started talking in fantasy, telling us about trips he never really talk and conversations he had with dead relatives. It's hard to watch someone you love slowly lose their grip on reality.

Today, Grandpa told us what he did last night. Apparently, he went to the Yankee game with his old Brooklyn buddies, most of whom are dead. I watched as my mother effortlessly conversed with him about this fictional game, asking him questions about it, wanting to know if the Yankees won or not. According to Grandpa, the Yanks won the world series last night.

And then an epiphany. Why should it bother me when Grandpa talks about things only happen in his head? That's Grandpa's happy place, where he goes to relive the good parts of his life with the friends and family that shared all of his happy memories. It makes him smile. It makes my mother smile. And now, it makes me smile. As long as Grandpa is happy for the little time he has left, then let him think that the Yankees win the world series every single night, and he's always there.

Happy birthday, Grandpa. And enjoy your "trip" to Brooklyn tonight.

--- Hope I get to do this again next year.

Finally - Limerick Contest Voting

Culled from the many entries here, these are the limericks that received the most nominations. If you didn't nominate, don't bitch! Poll below. -poll ended-

links for breakfast

I meant to do some linking yesterday, but I cut my blogging short so we could begin the War Against the Leaves, taking place on our front lawn from now until December. So far, we are losing. So, yesterday's links o' the day, today. Read all of the Green Side. Not just one post. All of them. U.S. Marine Dave Bellon writes letters home from Fallujah and puts them online. Must read. Donald Trump, John Kerry and Blackie Lawless. It's written by Ace, which makes it worth reading alone. Also, scroll up and up for more Ace goodness. Shopping for the Insufferably Sanctimonious. 9 OTHER Karl Rove conspiracy theories Walter Cronkite swears by. Ok, think I'm caught up. Oh, there's still lots of conversation going on in the comments here and here if you're interested. Normally, I put the kabosh on tangential comments that take the topic in a completely different area, but this has been a very interesting read.

November 06, 2004

last chance for limerick voting

Contest is here. Send your three favorite entries to karlrovesbrain@gmail.com. Votes left in the comments or sent to any other email address will not count. You have until 1pm. Vote early, vote often, screw the exit polls.

another thought

Hello? Adverstisers? Was it something I said? Last month I had too many ads. Now, I have NONEfour. I have the cheapest rates going, considering I get over 9,000 hits a day. $20 a week? That's a pittance! I have no shame, either. I will advertise anything. Movies I hate, books I will never read, naked pictures of Michael Moore....anything! I have a mortgage to pay. Help me out here. SOMEBODY BUY SOME ADS! Alternately, just throw wads of money at me for no reason at all. My Paypal account needs filling. Baby needs a new pair of shoes! Come on, sevens! Oh, sorry. Got carried away there. [Just click on the little, lonely link on the right that says "this could be your ad"] P.S. To reader Marion, whose email address I do not have: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Today will consist of lots of Anthrax on the stereo and zombie survival preparedness. Update: Ads! Yay! Ok, so two of them are freebies, but at least my adstrip isn't lonely anymore. Thanks to my advertisers, whose links you should click on repeatedly. I'll still be happy to take your wads of cash.

thinking out loud

Noticing something interesting.

I'm still diving into the sewer of DU, even though the election is over. It's interesting, in a morbid sort of way, to see how these people behave when faced with their loss.

But I am noticing a sort of divide among the inhabitants of DU. There have been some angry, bitter and downright disgusting threads on that site in the past two days, like this one with the poll asking if 9/11 was more depressing than the election (guess which one is winning?) and this one, about a missing preacher whose wife was found decapitated.

Some of the comments are beyond ugly. Lots of laughter at the fate of this family and "the more the merrier" attitude that, because these people were religious, they must be Bush supporters and, well, good riddance to rubbish.

On both these threads, many of the veteran DU posters (those with 1000+ posts) are asking their brethren to stop their messages of hate, or are horrified at what their cohorts are saying.

Those that do talk down the hate and rage are attacked by everyone else. Let the healing begin? Not likely. I think their are wounds within the left that are just beginning to open.

I wonder now what is going to happen to the left. Have a good portion of them had enough of the bitterness and hatefulness? And are a portion of them sliding further towards the edge, revving up the hate? I do wonder if there will be a split of sorts, with some of them going on to work towards something better and the rest left wallowing in their own stink. I further wonder which side will have greater numbers.

Alternately, I wonder what will happen to the right, in the same vein. Will those of us who look for a complete separation of church and state drift apart from those who want to legislate morality and rule with religion in mind? Will the Republicans who support gay rights and a woman's right to choose branch off into their own faction?

I've already seen the fallout starting, with people questioning my (and others) dedication to the Republican party because I'm not swallowing the pill whole. Politics is not an all or nothing proposition. I'm a some from column A, some from column B kind of person. The fact that I'm an atheist with socially liberal tendencies is clearly giving some people pause for concern, as if I am going to now become a detriment to the party. They got what they wanted from me - in my vote - and now they can discard me because I won't follow the fold all the way down the line.

Four days ago, all of my negative email came from folks on the left. Interesting now that Bus has won, some people from my own party are taking the liberty to email me or leave comments telling me that if I don't follow their lead towards what they consider a moral mandate, I am worth nothing to them.

We need to be careful of the direction our party will now take. Alienation of those who did not vote with moral values as their core belief will only serve to break the party in half. We won the election. If we start off by swinging swords at the necks of those who oppose the idea of church and state , we will only spite ourselves in the end. We need to find ways to work together, not ways to make a victory a weapon of divisiveness.

Honestly, I don't believe that we are moving towards some sort of religious dictatorship. I'm quite confident that in the next four years, I will not be given chance to doubt my vote for the president. But it still wouldn't hurt for a dialogue to begin between those of us on the left and on the right who don't tend towards the edges of our respective parties. We also need to figure out how we can become cohesive units within our own party rather than a disoraganized swarm of attack dogs. It's for the good of our country's future that we all learn how talk to our own without talking down or further breaking down the political dialogue amongst ourselves. We're gloating about the meltdown of the left, but from what I see personally, we're heading towards a minor meltdown ourselves that, if left unchecked, will be the demise of us in 2008.

Just some stream of conscious thoughts for a Saturday morning, unedited, not proofread and suffering from the writer's lack of caffeine.

Update: Whoa, chill out, people. I'm not in any way saying that I suddenly think DU is a place of moderation and tolerance. I was just wondering if there are more than a few veterans of that place who have had enough.

November 05, 2004

almost belated

In all the chaos of the day, I almost forgot.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

I learned from the best. 43 years worth.

in blogging, no one can hear you scream

Very frustrating and headache-inducing day here. You would not believe what we are dealing with in regards to the daughter situation. Can't get into it at that the moment. Have not forgotten about the limerick quiz, I just can't set up the poll here from work, so it will have to wait until tomorrow morning (I would do it tonight but the readership is severely limited on Friday evenings and that's not fair to the contestants). So, a friend of mine thought they were being oh, so nice to me today when he sent me an email containing a lyrics quiz. Here, he said. This should keep your mind off of things for a while. Yea, sure. Thing is, he doesn't have the answers. It appears to be a movie tagline quiz. So I figured I'd pass the fun on to you. I'm sure we could all use a break from other things right now. Let the healing begin, with useless trivia fun! Quiz below. Answers in comments. Add your own if you want. Argue semantics. Hell, do whatever you feel like. I won't be turning the computer on until the morning. What I don't know until then won't kill me. # A comedy about fear of commitment, hating your job, falling in love and other pop favorites. # A Masterpiece Of Modern Horror # A nervous romance. # A tale of murder, lust, greed, revenge, and seafood. # All his life, Ray Kinsella was searching for his dreams. Then one day, his dreams came looking for him. # Can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning? # Coming To Save The World This Summer. # Don't Go in the Water # Ever wanted to be someone else? Now you can. # Everyone has one special thing. # Family Isn't A Word... It's A Sentence. # Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free. # Five Criminals. One Line Up. No Coincidence. # Five Total Strangers Team Up For The Perfect Crime.They Don't Know Each Other's Name. But They've Got Each Other's Number # He is afraid. He is alone. He is three million light years from home. # He Saw The World In A Way No One Could Have Imagined. # His whole life was a million-to-one shot! # How the future began. # In space no one can hear you scream. # In Vietnam The Wind Doesn't Blow It Sucks # It's the hottest day of the summer. You can do nothing, you can do something, or you can... # Just because they serve you doesn't mean they Like you. # Leisure Rules # Love Kills # Man is The Warmest Place to Hide. # Mischief. Mayhem. Soap. # Never give a saga an even break! # Never let her out of your sight. Never let your guard down. Never fall in love. # No One Gets Away Clean # Not every gift is a blessing. # On The Air. Unaware. # Paul Sheldon used to write for a living.Now, he's writing to stay alive. # Tea At Four. Dinner At Eight. Murder At Midnight. # The Day We Fight Back # The first casualty of war is innocence. # The greatest fairy tale never told. # The Man... The Music... The Madness... The Murder... The Motion Picture... # The most devastating detective story of the century! # The Story That Won't Go Away # The Ultimate Trip. # They have a plan, but not a clue. # They stole his mind, now he wants it back. # They're young... they're in love... and they kill people. # This time it's war # We are not alone # We could tell you what it's about. But then, of course, we'd have to kill you. # You Won't Believe Your Eye. # In The Game Of Seduction, There Is Only One Rule: Never Fall In Love # This Summer, Evil Meets It's Moose. # If you see only one movie this summer, see Star Wars. But if you see two movies this summer, see... # Be afraid. Be very afraid. # Be Unafraid. Be Very Unafraid. # Be Afraid. Be Kind of Afraid. # It's 4 A.M., do you know where your car is?

we are here, we are here!

[long, rambling, tangential. you have been warned] horton.jpgOf all the strange emails I've received in the past two days, the ones that irked me the most were from people who chastised me for being a New York Republican. Specifically, a New York metro area (which is how they get to include me, a Long Islander, in their diatribes) voter who was personally affected by 9/11. Funny thing: In the three plus years since that dreadful day, I've written about it over 100 times. And every time, without fail, I would get an email or comment from someone accusing me of trying to "own" 9/11. My, how the tables have turned. Suddenly, that day now belongs to Democrat New Yorkers who are the only people who can understand anything about terrorism. How dare Midwesterners vote with terrorism in mind? They weren't here on 9/11. They don't know. And how dare I, a New Yorker, a close friend of someone who died that day, an attendee of dozens of funerals and memorial services, vote Republican? The fingers point at me. I am a betrayer of the dead. I am stomping on the souls of my friends. I have not avenged them with my vote. I'll use Ted Rall's column as an example of what's being said. You can really see it anywhere in New York; the Times had an article quoting disenfranchised "owners" of 9/11. CNN did man on the street interviews with weeping New Yorkers who were in shock that someone in another state had terrorism fears. But Ted does a nice job, as always, of piling on the hypocritical horseshit.
How interesting, Democrats watching the election results at a high-rise hotel in midtown Manhattan commented, that the rest of America thinks it understands terrorism better than we do. New York bore the brunt of 9/11 yet CNN's exit poll found that New Yorkers considered Iraq a bigger issue than terrorism when casting their votes for president. Midwesterners and southerners felt the opposite, motivated by fear of the unknown--literally, as they are neither likely targets of terrorism, nor did they feel or smell the horrors of that terrible day. Ranking terrorism their number one concern, they nevertheless supported an incumbent for whom the war on terrorism is nothing more than a marketing slogan.......Terrorism? Please, if you live in Mississippi or Colorado or Alaska, don't presume to talk about, much less cast your vote based upon, your "views" of Islamist terrorism. New Yorkers don't lecture you about hunting. Butt out of our business. Or at least have the grace to follow the lead of New York City voters if, contrary to history or logic, terrorism is your number one concern. [...] The day after a shady election handed to a maniacal buffoon, New Yorkers whose dead remain scandalously unavenged were in the streets. Civil strife, rage, the fight for decency and democracy--they were nowhere to be found.
The arrogance of the left in all its shining light. Since when is terrorism only an issue to those who have suffered from it? Do you have to live through a terrible thing in order to fear that terrible thing? Is it necessary to have the acrid smell of death cling to your clothes in order to want to fight the very thing that caused it? Have you ever read these stories? They are the voices of 9/11; over one hundred people - most of them not New Yorkers - who did not need to be standing at the foot of the towers in order to understand what terrorism is and what it does to a country. The people in the Midwest are Americans. Terrorism perpetrated on American soil or interests - whether it be in New York or Yemen, greatly affects all Americans. Terrorism? Please, if you live in Mississippi or Colorado or Alaska, don't presume to talk about, much less cast your vote based upon, your "views" of Islamist terrorism. New Yorkers don't lecture you about hunting. Butt out of our business. And they call us ignorant? Here he compares hunting to a terrorist attack that kills thousands. Tell us, Ted. How does elk hunting compare to people hunting? It doesn't. Two towers crumbling to the ground in New York profoundly affects an entire country and all if its people. A deer falling dead in the woods of Colorado? Need I go on? And this is what I keep hearing from my fellow New Yorkers. The people outside of New York and D.C. who voted with the war on terror in mind are idiots and fools who were brainwashed by a chimpanzee and his mind-melding sidekick. Apparently, only Democrats have the power to withstand the forces of Karl Rove and his subliminal messages. Only Democrats are smart enough to see through Bush's mask and recognize the devil that lurks beneath. Only people who voted for Kerry are really smart enough to deserve a vote. The rest of us - especially New Yorkers who voted for Bush - are Stepford simpletons who fell victim to a slick ad campaign,. We are hordes of zombies, and only the blue state heroes can save us from eating our own. I'm furious at a lot of things today. Now that I've had time to digest all the emails and comments, time to read all the articles and listen to all the whinging, I'm taken aback by how aggressively the Anybody But Bush coalition is pursuing the "You are Dumb" retort. But why should I be surprised? Look at some of the agendas of the left and their cohorts and you'll see that message has been in play all along. From animal activists to the tree huggers, to the P.C. police, they've been talking down to us in the morally superior way for ages now. The results of this election has just opened the Pandora's box of insults a bit wider. That cool breeze you feel is the rush of a thousand ad hominem attacks rushing by you as they whip their way around the country. Every little breeze seems to whisper sleaze. Besides, which is it guys? Did Bush win by "unleashing an army of fundamentalist Christians across the red heartland" or did he win because the stupid people that don't live in New York think they have a right to want to fight the war on terror? Was it the theo-zombies or the terror zombies that did you in? Getting back to the dumb Republican New Yorkers and their out of state counterparts (self included), here's the kicker from Ted: The day after a shady election handed to a maniacal buffoon, New Yorkers whose dead remain scandalously unavenged were in the streets. Civil strife, rage, the fight for decency and democracy--they were nowhere to be found. Unavenged? Would voting in Kerry - I'm sorry, voting out Bush - somehow avenge those deaths? Kerry's kinder, gentler war on terror, his mysterious plan to battle terrorism, his law enforcement ways of dealing with terrorists - just how would they "avenge" the dead? Even if bin Laden were shackled up behind bars, bunk mating with Saddam, the dead would not be avenged. The war on terror has a long way to go and I voted for Bush precisely for that reason, because I trust him in this war more than Kerry. And you know what? I know plenty of family and friends of 9/11 victims who did just the same. I know firefighters who did just the same. Long Island may look blue all over, but, like the denizens of Whoville, we are here. 589,000 of us. We are not idiots. We are your teachers. We are your lawyers. We fix your cars and tend to your sick children. We own businesses and we pump your gas. We are the neighbors who smile and wave at you or lend you tools. We are the people you play cards with, the people who drive your children to school. And now, we are stupid. We are idiots. Just because we don't think like you or vote like you. Can we still be trusted to deal the next hand at poker night or fill your car with unleaded? Will you still talk to us about baseball and football or sit next to us at the next PTA meeting? Or do we all have a case of the stupid cooties and now is your time to make the run from us, separate yourselves from the idiots who don't think like you? Don't be afraid to sit next to me at the movie theater. I promise I won't cram my religious manifesto down your throat. Because, well, I don't have one. Don't look at me like that, it's true. But how, you say, how can a person who does not practice a Christian like religion vote for Bush? You must be dumber than I thought! Well, this election was personal for me. I acted selfishly and took into major consideration what was most important to me, alone, as an American. It wasn't gay rights, of which I am a supporter. It wasn't abortion. It wasn't the definition of family. No, it was that ugly little word, war, partnered with its ugly big brother, terrorism. I did not act in the best interest of my gay friends. I did not act in the best interest of Planned Parenthood. I acted in my own, selfish interest and I do believe - and the results show - that I'm not the only one with that very interest at heart. This is probably the last time I will write about my reasons for voting the way I did. I owe you no more an explanation than you owe me. I don't have to respond to, especially, the emails that read like an exam, with numbered questions that I am "required" to answer. Yes, I am serious. My basic reply is to answer their questions with a question of my own: Dear sir, why do you think this is any of your business? Someone calls me an idiot and then they have the balls to ask me to take a forty question exam to prove to them I'm not stupid? Don't think so. Stupidity would lie in actually taking two hours out of my life to respond to a condescending, bitter emailer. For the record, I don't think that my fellow Americans who voted for Kerry are stupid. I think we just have different issues, place different value on different things and see the world in quite a different way. The Ted Ralls among us think that anyone not in New York can't understand Islamist terrorism. What an elitist thing to believe. What a load of self-important crap. I stand here looking at an inbox stuffed with emails from people who think that I am spitting on the graves of every person who died on 9/11 by supporting Bush. That, as a New Yorker, I should know better. I stand looking at a slew of articles that quote New Yorkers screaming at Midwesterners that they have no right to consider the war on terror an important issue. So, tables turn. Suddenly, 9/11 "belongs" to the New York Democrats. I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Ted himself thinks that almost everyone who died that day was a Democrat. Just because a state is blue on a map, Ted, does not mean that we, the red zombies, are not here. We are. We exist. And for the next four years Horton the elephant is watching over us. Update: To all those telling me Ted Rall doesn't matter, read again what I wrote. It's not just Rall saying these things. It's been all over the NYT, it's been on CNN, this is what the New York "elite" are shouting.

November 04, 2004

5pm and I'm ready for bed

Sorry for the lack of substance here today. As you can guess, it's been a long day. In fact, it's been a long, tiring week. I really wanted to get into the whole aspect of church and state - and religion in general - today but ran out of time. Stop back tomorrow for that discussion. Just wanted to thank everyone for the support/advice today. You guys are the best. See you in the AM.


The police officer just left. We are pressing charges, and the case has been handed over to detectives who will contact me to do a little more investigating. The kid will be arrested. The cop told me I had two options; talk the kid's parents or file a report. He could not give me advice on what to do. But when I made the choice to have the kid arrested, the cop was relieved and told us we were making the right choice. The more I look at the message he sent her, the more alarming it seems. Nat also showed me a comment he left on her LiveJournal that said "I hope you die in your sleep." Nice kid, huh? So now we just wait for the detectives to call. I feel good about the choice we made because if it's not Nat that gets hurt by this kid, it will be someone else. The cop said the kids seems like the type that is on the road to being a wife beater. Lots of background stuff here that I haven't gotten into, so I'll just leave it at that. Side note: this is what's great about blogging things like this. I got emails from cops, lawyers and security experts giving me advice on how to deal with this. Thanks to you all for helping me do the right thing. I hope that after the arrest, the parents realize their kid is in dire need of help. And Natalie will not be going anywhere near that town anymore, which means no more trips to the skate park to see her friends skate. But that's a small price to pay for her safety. Off topic side note: Thanks to everyone who let me know Mark Steyn quoted me today. I hadn't gotten around to reading his column yet so I didn't know. That's a huge bright spot in an aggravating day (one which saw me break out in hives, thanks to the agitation). Now, if only.... Well, so much for the lengthy post I had in mind to write today about various things. Maybe later. Now, go vote for the limerick conest. Instructions in here. And, once again, thanks everyone.

a pleasant start to the morning

Someone just threatened my daughter's life. It was in an instant message - this is someone local she knows and sees, not an anonymous person on the internet. The message he sent was vicious and frightening and obviously was not some kind of joke. There is a background to this story that I'm not going to share, but suffice it to say that my daughter did nothing that would deserve this kind of response from him, and the kid has obvious anger management issues. Obviously, Nat will never see this kid again. Thankfully, he lives in another town and she doesn't go to school with him. I'm just finding out more about him now - he's apparently the son of someone Nat's father works with, so I'm putting in a call to him right now. So, question: does a saved instant message qualify as evidence? Should I call the police on a 14 year old boy whose parents have probably glossed over his rage issues before? I really don't believe he's going to try to kill her, he's just a kid with issues, but he has frightened my daughter beyond reason and that alone makes me want make him pay for his behavior in some way. Ok, venting done. Waiting for phone call from ex. Update: I am calling the cops. In fact, I've been trying to call the precinct for the last 45 minutes. I keep getting a busy signal. I also spoke to my ex (who knows the kid's father) and he concurs about calling the police. Poor Nat called from school, she's still very shaken up by this. I'm making her stick the day out, though. No point in coming home, where she will be alone. I shall keep you all posted on developments. Thanks to everyone for the advice/support. Update again: Home now. The precinct told me to pick Nat up from school, go home and call 911 and they'll send a car over. Apparently, they take this stuff very seriously. Waiting on cops. now.

Site Notes (usual crap plus contest notice)

A few notes before I get on with the usual morning ramblings. Skip down to the stuff about the limerick contest if you're not interested in my beating of a dead horse.

General Stuff

There were a lot of new visitors to this site yesterday, thanks to links from some big blogs and some odd message boards. I had somewhere around 30,000 hits thanks to the linking of this post, which received 171 comments and 44 trackbacks (neither the hits nor comment count are records for this site, that honor goes to this post and the hits I received on that day). I always wonder if new readers who have come here via a link to a specific post ever read anything else on the site or, for that matter, stick around past the bickering in the comments. Well, if you are new to ASV, you can always check out the best of to get a flavor of what I do here or read this collection of essays to see that I am not just a one note dingbat, thank you. Should you like to know anything else about me, read this.

On "The Morning After"

Now that we have the congeniality out of the way, I have a few points to make, regarding the post you all came to gawk at yesterday. A few messages boards excerpted certain parts of the post and referred to it as poetry which, of course, led some people to rip apart my bad poetry form. Notice: Putting sentences on separate lines instead of together in one paragraph will sometimes be referred to as a list. Is your grocery list poetry? No, I didn't think so. You want poetry? Try here. As for that list, that was a response to the many things I heard and read after it was obvious that Bush would win re-election. If you read the post for contest and didn't go off half-cocked commenting on simply an excerpt, you might have realized that and saved yourself some embarrassment. Read The Whole Thing isn't just a gratuitous saying, you know. Also - and regular readers have heard this already so they may want to just skip this part - when I write about something that one particular group does that infuriates me, I am under no obligation to write about all the groups that infuriate me with that same behavior. See, when I write about something from Column A, I don't have to also choose from columns B and C. That's the beauty of being an independent, editor-free, completely biased blogger. Just because I'm pissing on Michael Moore doesn't mean I owe it to you to add a caveat in which I piss on Ann Coulter. Understand? Sure hope so, because this is getting tiring. Anyhow, I welcome any readers that popped in here for a look at that post yesterday and decided to stick around. We do have fun here, really. It's not all righteous anger, all the time.

The Limerick Contest

Speaking of fun, I am closing the limerick contest as of now. I'll close the comments off so no one can try to sneak in under the radar. Now, what I need you to do is this: Pick your three favorite limericks from the bunch. I would like you to keep in mind that the theme of the contest was the election itself, not bashing the right or bashing the left or beating up poor, put upon Michael Moore. You're free to vote for whoever you want to, I'm just making a little point here. You will see that each comment has its own permalink. You will copy the links to the entries and MAIL THEM TO ME (that means do not leave your votes in the comments) at this address: karlrovesbrain@gmail.com. Please have your nominations in by 4pm (EST) today. I will tabulate and present a poll with the top three vote getters tomorrow morning. Thanks for participating. You guys are sick, twisted and funny. Just the way I like my readers.

Camera Challenge

With Election Day out of the way and my heavy work at Command Post done for now, I can resume my little hobbies. I'll be picking up where I left off with the camera challenge. I'd like to make this an ongoing project, so feel free to post a challenge for me. And thus ends today's programming notes.

November 03, 2004

Post-Election Contest, With Prize!

[NOTICE: COMMENTS ON THIS POST HAVE BEEN CLOSED AS THE CONTEST SUBMISSION TIME IS OVER. See here on how to vote] Jim Treacher has written a piece of beautiful poetry about his feelings towards this election. I didn't realize he had such an artistic side. This has given me an idea for a contest. Post-Election Limericks. My previous limerick contests have always been met with success, and I'm sure a little levity will be a good thing today. So, the rules. Limerick form (obviously). Topic has to be about the election, but what about the election is entirely up to you. You can enter as many times as you want, but only one entry per comment so I can keep track. I reserve the right to delete entries that make my skin crawl or make me want to hit you with a brick. Have fun. A ten dollar Amazon gift certificate will be awarded to the winner, which will be determined by the readers of this here blog, by a democratic voting process. Void in Ohio.

It's Over

Kerry has conceded. Thank you, Sen. Kerry, for doing the right thing. Update: Off topic, but relevant. Article on the internet down time yesterday. Via the Two L Michelle.

The Morning After

Buckle up. I've got a lot to say today. As the whole world knows by now, it is pretty evident that George W. Bush will be the President of the United States for the next four years. Obviously, that makes me happy. A lot of people are having some trouble with my happiness right now. That goes for you, too, if you voted for GWB. A flow of nastiness is seeping from through the floors of the country, pooling around the feet of the collective left. But which left, you ask? Because sometimes, people will come after me for saying 'the left" as if that phrase represented everyone who sits, well, to the left of me and not just the wingers, even though they know full well I mean the Michael Moores, the DU citizens, the Oliver Willises and MoveOn members of the world. Not so sure about that today. I woke up to a very different world in which people I assumed were rational Democrats are spitting poison nails. I received some nasty emails and comments (since deleted) that were alarming in their venom and hatred. People I never had a harsh word with were suddenly knocking down my virtual door to leaving the equivalent of letter bombs. This did not frighten me so much as make me sad. I can say with all honesty that, had Kerry won this election, I would have done no such thing. But, that's just me. I did read through some of the near lunatic fringe of the left today. Sad state of affairs, really. They seem to be so overcome by bitterness and anger that their emotions are getting in the way of rational thinking. How else do you explain the call to arms, the threats to join al Qaeda, the pleas for violent uprising, or the wishful thinking for a terrorist attack to happen now? And here we go again with the "illegitimate" election fantasies. The whole basis of argument for the left in recent times has been "if I don't agree with it, it must be a lie." This has never been more evident than right now. Witness: This election is a fraud, a sham. The Republicans (sorry, Rethuglicans) cheated their way through another vote. The vote counts are all wrong. The machines were fixed. Someone was paid off. And, of course, the exit polls were rigged. Even if Bush were to win both the Electoral vote and the popular vote, his win would be decried as illegal. Perhaps that is what is driving the hate today; the fact that there is nothing to point to in order to support the cries of another fake presidency. I do believe that even if every person in America who voted for George Bush marched themselves in front of a line of lefties outside of George Soros's mansion this morning and pledged that they did, indeed, vote for GWB, they would claim that Karl Rove implanted mind control chips in each and every person. Why is it so hard to imagine that not everyone thinks like you? Are these people so arrogant, so self-smug that they truly believe their way is the only way? Funny, that. They accuse Bush of that all the time and here they are engaging in it, with relish. If you don't mind, I'd like to address the throngs of Chicken Littles who seem to be out in full force on the net today. I just want to clear up a few things, as you all seem to be pretty misguided in more than one area today. I voted for George Bush. I am not a redneck. I do not spend my days watching cars race around a track, drinking cheap beer and slapping my woman on the ass. I am not a bible thumper. In fact, I am an atheist. I am not a homophobe. I am educated beyond the fifth grade. In fact, I am college educated. I am not stupid. Not by any stretch of facts. I do not bomb abortion clinics. You will not be thrown in jail for the sole reason of being a liberal. Your child's public school will not suddenly turn into a center for Christian brainwashing. Your favorite bookstore will not turn into puritan central. This is not Nazi Germany in any way. You will not be forced into concentration camps. You will not be burned in human-sized ovens because of your religion. We will not be forced to wear uniforms and march in line every day. You will not live in fear. If you think this is a country in which you have to live in fear, I have some friends in Iran who would like to have a little talk with you. What does the (presumed) election of George Bush mean to you, as a member of the left? It means you and your party have four years to get yourselves together and figure out exactly what you stand for. It means you have a couple of years, max, to come up with a viable candidate who represents the majority of you and doesn't pander to every knock off group of your party. It means you have time to get your act together and decide once and for all what you stand for and produce a leader who will stand up for your ideals. It means you better find a candidate who is someone you can vote for with conscience, and not just vote for out of hatred for his opponent. What did you all believe in this year? Hate? Anger? You ran your own campaign, one filled to the brim with bile and acidic spittle and you wonder why you feel so black today? You were pinning your hopes on the the wish that the rest of America harbored the same intense hatred as you and would vote with their clenched fists. Now that you are left without the hoped for victory party as an outlet for your rage, you have to direct it somewhere else. If not at the candidate, then at his voters, right? What I am seeing today makes me pity you, and it's a pity tinged with disgust and should not be mistaken for empathy. It means the same things for us moderate Republicans. Maybe in this time we can produce a candidate who doesn't alienate the social liberal in us, yet speaks to our concerns about defense, security and the war on terror. I am not completely enamored with the Republican Party. There's a lot of work to be done within the ranks. I'd like to see a full stop of the move towards the religious right. Perhaps there is the perfect candidate out there for both of us, someone just making his or her way up the political chain right now. With any luck, there will be a day when a president is elected who is liked by both sides of the fence, who is respected by everyone. And that's the great thing about waking up today. See, the world is still here. The sun has risen, there were no great floods or earthquakes or visits from Lucifer during the night. We have the future. We can all - Republicans, Democrats and everyone else - learn a lot from this election and use those lessons to move this country forward. Sure, it's easy for me to say those things while I'm sitting in the victor's chair at the moment. But I believe in my heart that if Kerry were today making a victory speech, I would feel the same way. I certainly wouldn't be calling for violent action. I would not be threatening total strangers with death or wishing ill will on them. But this is a left that is buttressed by people who have more bile than good will, more venom than virtue. They are fronted by circus sideshow acts like Michael Moore, who turn up the flames underneath their followers until the kettle is whistling like mad. That is the shrill sound you hear coming from the left today. And I fear no one is going to turn the flame down. We are living out the proverbial Chinese curse of living in interesting times. I do hope with all my heart that we can turn down the hate at some point and make the next four years a little less interesting.

good morning, america

President Bush's campaign has declared victory. re: the new header - No, it's not quite over yet. Ohio will probably be legally disputed. But Bush has won the popular vote, in record numbers. That, indeed, is a victory in so many ways. More on this later. As soon as I get the kids off to school, I'm going to catch up on my sleep.

sleepless in long island

Why won't they let me sleep? I did sleep - somewhat fitfully - for about two hours and I dreamed of chaos and destruction. Woke up singing The Smiths' Panic. There's an omen for you. It's gonna be a long, bumpy ride. I suspect many of us are taking this ride with bags under our eyes, tongues that feel like sweaters and numb asses. Or that could just be me.


Fox just called Ohio for Bush. Looks like it's over!!!!!!!!! (ok I know FOX is the only one who called it, premature partying, but I'm wired and excited) Carville just called Ohio for Bush. Update: I'm finally going to bed. It's been a long, long day working to make the Command Post a happening place. Up since 5am. I look so forward to waking up in a few hours to the realization that Ohio is this year's Florida.

November 02, 2004

FOX: fair, balanced and mind numbing

Deadliest. Coverage. Ever. Brit Hume's monotone reporting is about to knock me into a coma. I can't change the channel, because this is the station I'm monitoring for Command Post. These guys are scared to death to make a close call. The ghost of 2000 is hanging around the newsroom, making Hume and company crap their pants every time they have to make a projection. If there was a parrot in the FOX control room, he'd be muttering "too close to call. squawk. too close too call" by now.



Not. Despite what you may have heard, blogs have not been under attack today. The internet is just sagging under the weight of the traffic. This was expected by experts. No one is attacking conservative blogs. No one is attacking liberal blogs. The world wide sky is not falling. It is not your hosting company's fault if your site is down. It is not my hosting company's fault is my site or Command Post is down.Read here for further info. Now chill out, have a beer and go watch the election results roll in. Then, depending on your view, you may be able to say your sky is falling.

Got Photos? Wanna chat?

We've got an Election Day photoblog going on over at TCP, where you can upload your own photos to share with the world. Take your camera to the polls and report back to us! The TCP chat room is now open, and will remain open throughout the election process. Stop by and chat with us! More good stuff to come today.


I've made an AIM screen name just for today. You can IM me if you have any hot news tips or election observations for Command Post. If you've gone out and voted, let me know how the turnout was at your polling place. I will engage in idle conversation with you, but I can't promise to be quick with the replies. I'm working here! Send IM [hopefully that works, I winged it]

Election Day Survey Silliness

[start plug] /plug I thought I'd keep it light here today. I'll be busy over at TCP and everyone else will cover the gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. I'll stick to the nonsense, because a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest...voter. Here's today's survey: It's midnight on Election Day. The polls have closed, the counts are coming in. All hell breaks loose in America and the burning, pillaging and rioting begins. Martial law is declared as some crazed people run through the streets naked, screaming obscenities (who, me?). You decide to wait it out rather than join in, so you quickly bolt your doors, board up your windows and secure yourself in your favorite room in the house. You have time enough to grab one snack, one drink, one CD and one DVD to get you through the wait for normalcy to resume (let's assume there's some magic at work here and the drink and snack mysteriously replenish themselves over and over again. Hey, it's my survey and I can do what I want). So, what do you take with you and, more importantly, who do really wish was there to share this intimate moment of fear and hide under the covers with you?

My work is done

We were at the polling place by 5:55 am, hoping to be the first on line. Suprisingly, there was already a long line of voters waiting to get in when we arrived. I live in an historically apathetic precinct, so I was suprised to see so many people there at such an ungodly hour. Unfortunately, a good portion of the cars lined up by the curb were sporting bumper stickers of the "Anybody But Bush" variety (save for that one car with the Badnarik sticker). Well, this is New York. When we left the polling place, the cars were streaming in and people were arriving in packs. Yes, packs! I'm expecting the turnout today will be HUGE. Get out there and vote. I don't care who you vote for, just exercise the freedom that has been afforded to you. Today, we should celebrate our democracy. We can get to the burning and pillaging tonight.

November 01, 2004

Party On!

The Command Post Election Night Party Pack, including menu suggestions. Everything you need to put a little fun in a heartburn-inducing day. Off topic, but relevant to this being Monday night, I have a bet with Val on tonight's football game. It almost involved leg shaving, but Val's been there, done that. Dolphins suck. At least I can say that with a bit of honesty, Val. 6-1 or 1-6? Which one is the suckage? You make the call.

My Pledge

[start plug] /plug Jeff Jarvis wants you to take his post-election peace pledge. No can do, buddy. First of all, I think Jeff is really reaching here: Unite as a nation, putting country over party, even as we work together to make America better. Right. There's already a movement afoot to take the streets if Bush wins, with plenty of people saying the will gladly risk getting arrested to protest what they are calling a stolen election - an election that hasn't even taken place yet. Me, I'm not going to set myself on fire if Kerry wins. But I sure am dreading the reaction if Bush wins. Unite? Not likely. I mean, Bush is Hitler, right? Can you really expect people to rally behind the man who they believe is going to lead us straight to fascism, gulags, cross burnings and nightly satanic rituals in the White House? Well? No, I have my own pledge: I hereby pledge that after the election is called, I will run naked through the streets, smeared with war paint, stinking of Jack Daniels and screaming obscenities at my neighbors. I will do this even if my candidate wins because drunken, naked cursing is fun no matter who the president is. That's my pledge and I'm sticking to it. Yea, there was a typo in this post. But Laurence, my human F7, fixed my trimmed Bush.

Click Early, Click Often [Updated With Contest Goodness]

[ See update below for fresh contest news] It is with no small amount of pride that I tell you The Command Post will be the place to go to for all your Election Day needs. This is going to be the first truly blogged election. Alan and I are taking the blogging of the election to a whole new level. In additon to our 100+ regular contributors at Command Post, we have signed up 86 special correspondents for our Election Day coverage. These correspondents represent every state in the nation, as well as Canada, the U.K. and France. They will bring you instant, first person coverage of the goings-on in their state. They will be posting about everything from voter turnout to election results (not just presidential, but house races as well), photos from the local polls and interviews with voters. Our correspondents from outside the U.S. will be covering reaction abroad. The posts will all be categorized in case you want to read the news from specific states only. The coverage at TCP will be extensive. Every state represented by at least one contributor. Everybody posting from beginning to end, giving you a birds-eye view of what's going on in each state. It's history in an instant, accessible, personal and brought to you not by the media elite, but by people just like you who want to take part in bringing you every scrap of news as it happens, without filter, without editors - just raw footage of this historical election. We'll also be sending out breaking news emails as results come in - be sure to sign up for our mailing list if you haven't already. We hope you plan on joining us. We'd love to have you be a part of the success of this idea. Did I mention there will be fun and games, too? We'll be holding trivia contests with TCP swag as prizes and the chat room will be open all day and night for hearty, civil discussion on the election. Join us. Resistance is futile. Update: The first contest is now open! Pick The Date & Time This Election Will Be Official.


I thought this would be a good time to remind you of the posters. Also, I'm not ignoring you. I've been sent a ton of links in the past day or so. I just can't get to them right now. I'm incredibly busy with Command Post and will be for the next few days, which means posting here will be light here until the end of the week. More on what we have going on at TCP soon. Keep smiling, everyone. The world is not going to end this week. I promise. Update: Almost forgot, I can finally let this cat out of the bag. Treacher in the WSJ. Really.

Kiss Me, I'm Republican
(in which I invent a new holiday that will go largely ignored)

Ah, Election Eve. Time for celebration, festivities, gaiety, food, drink, laughter....oh, that's Christmas Eve. Wait a minute. Why not? Why not make Election Eve as merry and festive as Christmas Eve? We could turn it into a beautiful holiday, so full of pure happiness and warmth that everyone would forget their differences for just one day and come together to party. And how fitting would it be to have an Election Eve celebration this year? Come tomorrow night, our nation will be thrown into a fit of turmoil so great that the cosmic karma of the world will implode and millions of voices will suddenly cry out in terror and become suddenly silenced. Yesterday, while doling out fistfuls of candy to hordes of ballerinas and ninjas, a neighbor I did not recognize approached my door with his two little rugrats. Cute kids. The boy was Bob the Builder. The girl appeared to be a seven year old ho-bag, but I could be mistaken. Maybe she was a princess who had taken liberties with the makeup. Anyhow, as I was dumping the usual variety of candy in their pillow cases, I see the father looking around in a mixture of horror and dismay. Maybe he didn't like the severed head in the garden or the creepy music I had playing. Maybe he was a horticulturist who was shocked at the condition of our shrubbery. But, no. It was none of that. "Uhh...Bush/Cheney??" He was looking at my yard sign and the various flyers and stickers hanging in the windows of my house. His voice dripped with disgust. "Uhhh..Bush/Cheney." I replied. Oh, if looks could kill this guy would have slain me a thousand times at once. He then shook his head as if to say "man, I had no idea I had neighbor that I would hate so vehemently because of our political differences!" I grabbed his kids by their scrawny little arms and pulled them back towards my door. I then searched around their bulging pillowcases for the candy I had just given them and took it all back. Then I grabbed a handful of rocks from the bowl by the door - there for just such an occasion - and pelted the father with the rocks until he lay bleeding on the sidewalk. I took two leftover stones and handed them to the ho-bag and Bob the Builder. Chew on that, you spawn of Satan! Obviously, none of that happened. I just shrugged, wished the kids a Happy Halloween and mentally kicked the guy in the nuts. This is just an example of why - now more than ever - we need an Election Eve holiday. Like a Festivus for the rest of us! So what we should do today is contact a friend who is voting opposite from you and say something nice to him/her. Or bake him a pie. Buy her a gift. If you think he's hot but you haven't hit on him because his politics make you sick, now would be the time to engage in a lengthy make out session with him. Wash her car. Cook him dinner. And then, when it gets close to midnight, everyone will exchange presents with their chosen friend. Make the present something that will be useful for the coming days, like mace or body armor or a box of tissues and some Visine. On Wednesday, we can all go back to hating each other again. It will be wild in the streets, like some scene from Earthquake, where everyone goes apeshit and Victoria Principal gets molested by a horny guy who just wants to inject some law and order into a scary situation. No, not like that at all. Maybe? I will admit I'm a bit frightened at the prospect of the mass civil disobedience being called for if Bush wins. Because civil disobedience so often turns uncivil. I'm thinking double locks for the front door, maybe stocking up on beer and snacks in case martial law is declared. You think I'm kidding? People keep asking for my prediction and I usually give them not so much a prognostication, but a wishful thinking scenario. Bush by a landslide! And they look at me like I just dipped into the fairy dust. I'm hopeful for my chosen candidate but I'm also cautious in my optimism. I do think there's a decent chance that Kerry could win. This makes me acutely unhappy, but it does not lead to thoughts of suicide or mass revolt. Maybe there's something to my Election Eve idea, after all. I don't think it's an exaggeration on the part of my imagination to assume that there will be some strife and acrimony in the air after Tuesday. I think we should go into that at least having been civil to each other pre-civil war. Maybe when you meet one of your rivals in the street and one of you is waving nunchucks around and the other is brandishing a sawed off shotgun, you'll say, hey didn't you just bake me a pie on Monday? Damn, that was good pie. Crisis averted. You both walk away fully limbed and still very much alive. This scene will repeat itself all over the country. Jets and Sharks will confront each other sharpened knives, one side singing "when you're with Bush, you're with Bush all the way," and the other gang singing back "the Dems are gonna have their way tonight," and suddenly Riff will remember that Bernado washed his SUV on Election Eve. The knives drop. Everybody starts breakdancing as Maria does a hip-hop version of I Feel Pretty. It's a small country, people. We must learn to live together in perfect harmony, which we will salute with the Coca-Cola that our rival neighbors bought us on Election Eve. Seeing as that no one will take the idea of Election Eve seriously, I plan on locking myself in the bedroom with nothing but beer, junk food and GTA: San Andreas until Friday. Hopefully, when I emerge from my election hideaway, all the burning, pillaging and rioting will be over and we can get on with the business of lawyers and SCOTUS. Still, would it kill you to go kiss a Democrat or hug a Republican today? Would it?