Friday, December 30, 2005

Orlando airport

Having never flown into or out of Orlando airport before, I was unprepared for the scene today leaving Florida. I know I've said it about LAX before, but this really was the most Ellis Island-like security line I've ever seen. I really expected to get a new last name by the time I got to the shoe-removal spot. Just to prove that God really does read David Foster Wallace, the family in front of me in the miles-long, up-the-conveyer-belt-formerly-called-the-moving-walkway--when it moved--and-back-down-again line were all wearing those Mickey ear hats with their names embroidered in the back, except these hats were shining gold (Disney bling) and one of the girl's names was "Meme." (It did make me wonder if you could fit "Ceci n'est pas une hat" on the back of one.)

So that was the mildly amusing, ironic thing. The chilling thing was the "clear" stations with the non-existent lines where, if you are a registered frequent traveller, you can simply avoid the whole Ellis Island experience by flashing your Clear Card. It's brilliant really; the Fascists don't have to fight for their national identity card; they can collect biometric data and enter everyone in one centralized database and make them pay $80 a year for the privilege this way. What's more, the whole thing has been outsourced to a private company. (I'm sure if we do some digging we can find the links to Diebold.) I need to tell you, I am queen of the tinfoil hat wearing skeptics and I found myself gazing longingly at the Clear stations. Though I can see it now. I'd stick my iris up to those things and they'd start with, "You're walking in the desert and you see a turtle, Travis..."

My mother? Let me tell you about my mother....

Andrea wants public credit for...

...making my drink go through my nose within the first five hours of my visit. We're playing scrabble and I made it fine through the "my creativity is so unappreciated" line in response to my not letting her make up words. But the question, "I suppose 'zitsquid' isn't a word?" did me in. And then there was the subsequent discussion--and definition--of zitsquid (it's like zeitgeist only squishier).

All of which is to say, I'm in Albuquerque now and will be for another week.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tis the season

It's time once again to give thanks for being raised Jewish--gratitude courtesy of the Scared of Santa gallery, which still has my favorite drunk-ass santa but has some stellar new additions as well.

(I love that girl in red; I do.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Trivia orts

So Dave and Cass went to Disney on an extreme field trip (as in, they were the last car within sight in the parking lot when they left for home--as an aside, Dave says the effect is quite eerie as the rental wheelchairs litter the empty lot late at night so that it looks like some sort of strange apocalypse has struck, sparing only medical equipment). I am not the only one in my family with the personal motto "half measures availed us nothing." It was so late by the time Dave got home that I actually believed he was suffering from a stroke (that last trip on Splash Mountain having done him in) when he was retelling the stories of the day at 2 am. He was telling me about how there are, in fact, no lines at the water rides in the cold weather at 11 at night, and I was thinking, "How do I interrupt him to ask him if he can lift both arms without alarming him and making the stroke worse?" (In fact, the deal was that he had put his nightguard in and so he was slurring his sentences.)

But the point of the post (boy, who can tell I'm on vacation?) is the trivia we learned: First, Disney has the second largest parking lot in the world. The largest? Give up? .... Mall of America (I have another Mall of America story but that will wait for another day).

The second bit of trivia we learned is from the Whiz Quiz that Disney has posted over the urinals in the men's room (true story):

The answers, which are posted over the sink so that everyone will be encouraged to wash their hands: Elephants pee two gallons a day and tapirs can pee up to fifteen feet.

That concludes our lesson for the day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Jeanette Winterson

I just finished Jeanette Winterson's Lighthousekeeping, my plane reading to Florida (where I am until Friday at which point I fly to ABQ).

Maybe a little light on plot, per se, but I liked it very much. The Passion remains my favorite book of hers, but this one I like better than some of the intervening--Written on the Body, Art and Lies...

Here's a great passage:

Some people say the best stories have no words. They weren't brought up to Lighthousekeeping. It is true that words drop away, and that the important things are often left unsaid. The important things are learned in faces, in gestures, not in our locked tongues. The true things are too big or too small, or in any case always the wrong size to fit the template called language.

I know that. But I know something else too, because I was brought up to Lighthousekeeping. Turn down the daily noise and at first there is the relief of silence. And then, very quietly as light, meaning returns. Words are the part of silence that can be spoken.
And another:

In the morning I was woken early by the chromatic bell of the Orthodox Church.

I unlatched the shutters. The light was as intense as a love affair. I was blinded, delighted, not just because it was warm and wonderful, but because nature measures nothing. Nobody needs this much sunlight. Nobody needs droughts, volcanoes, monsoons, tornadoes either, but we get them, because our world is as extravagant as a world can be. We are the ones obsessed by measurement. The world just pours it out.
And this:

Tell me a story, Pew.

What kind of story, child?
A story with a happy ending.
There's no such thing in all the world.
As a happy ending?
As an ending.
Anyway, if you like Jeanette Winterson, you'll like it. I've now moved on to Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. We'll see. I never read Fight Club, though I liked the movie quite a lot. I just started Choke and I'm a little worried the narrative voice might be too annoying for me. I already find myself thinking if this were someone I really knew, I'd be telling him to get over himself. There's some potential though--any book that features a character who cruises for action in sexual addiction 12-step groups can't be all bad.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

That's why Baskin Robbins has 31 flavors

It takes all kinds to make a world, that's all I'm saying.

Two Christmas pics

Dave as Santa

Christmas kittens

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas in Compton

Deputies have collected more than 250 guns in exchange for $100 gift certificates in Compton's Gifts for Guns program this year because, after all:
"The only reason you'd have these guns is to shoot at people," said sheriff's Deputy A.J. Rotella, who came up with the Gifts for Guns concept.
As opposed to those gun that people have to play Backgammon with or to take out the trash or sing Les Marseilles, I guess.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More pics

Reuters has their picks for the 40 best photos of the year up.

NYC yesterday

The Voice has decent coverage of the transit strike, which appears to be over now, including some pretty great pics.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unlike my brother-in-law

I will not be reading all 139 pages of Judge Jones' opinion filed yesterday that teaching creationism instead of evolution violates the separation of church and state. I will, however, reproduce the penultimate paragraph of the decision here just because that phrase "breathtaking inanity" deserves showcasing:
Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

Oy vey

For the record, I do not want one of these for Hannukah.

It's a thin line between kitch and just plain ill-advised, methinks.

Cannibal flower

So I'm having some personal version of Mercury retrograde over here whereby my computer is only doing what it feels like doing at any given moment. It's a Bartleby thing.

Which is to say, I posted this already once tonight and Blogger ate it.

More briefly this time, then: This weekend Portia and I met a posse at Cannibal Flower, an art/music/hipster nomadic thing. I think it may aspire to be a happening, but no one has painted the bathroom silver, so it just doesn't work. Anyway, it was fun and people were actually pretty friendly--as they tend to be at LA hipster events in my experience (or maybe I just no longer give a fuck what kind of impression I make so everyone seems friendly to me because I'm sort of the Chauncey Gardner of the night, who knows). There was one guy who looked remarkably like a Mafioso version of Ducky from that John Hughes movie and there was a couple--the "white people"--who were attempting to be spectral I think. I spent a good part of the evening restraining the urge to trip over an invisible seam in the concrete with a glass of red wine in my hand. Next time I'll get some shots of Ducky and the white people. For now, here are some other pics.

Portia and the Cabinet of Curiosities

Who looks inside awakes

More from cannibal flower

After art, butter

And more

Monday, December 19, 2005

Spam of the day

Titled "vegetarian inanity":

Do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out. Those who suffer most cry out the least. The Thirsty Pigeon A PIGEON, oppressed by excessive thirst, saw a goblet of water painted on a signboard. Not supposing it to be only a picture, she flew towards it with a loud whir and unwittingly dashed against the signboard, jarring herself terribly. Having broken her wings by the blow, she fell to the ground, and was caught by one of the bystanders. Zeal should not outrun discretion.

Are you now or have you ever been...

From Chris comes this story about the UMass student who was visited by the Department of Homeland Security for checking out a copy of Mao's Little Red Book through interlibrary loan (the original Peking edition). Apparently he had to fill out a form including his social and whatnot to request the book, and it was delivered to him by the federal agents themselves. He let his history professors know, among other things, that he'd be unable to read the book because I guess it's scheduled for burning or something:
...the Homeland Security agents told him the book was on a "watch list." They brought the book with them, but did not leave it with the student, the professors said.
Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said.
Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk.
There's really so much to get upset about here that it's hard to know where to begin. But let's start with the ways that our administration's surveillance practices and fascist tendencies influence us in obvious and indirect ways. The idea that a history professor is thinking he shouldn't offer a course on terrorism because he doesn't want his students to end up on a watch list...

Just read a little history of pre-WWII Germany, that's all I'm saying.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It doesn't take much to make me happy

Knowing, for example, that when you Google "Condoleezza Rice is a lying sack of shit," mine is the third site in the results--this makes me happy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Some days are just good days

Listening to NPR this morning actually made me smile. I know it's hardly a spit in the bucket, but it does cheer me to hear the Senate can't muster enough votes to bust Feingold's filibuster on the Patriot Act. (Okay, so there's also the revelation that they're spying on us with or without an Act to legitimize the practice--I'm shocked, shocked!, that the NSA is spying on us-- but I'm clinging to the good news even so.)

I got my Christmas bonus.

The lunchroom is filled with baskets of treats from vendors.

Conor's "eclectic mix" is in the DVD player, and I'm delighted that he is psychotic enough to include, for example, Jose Feliciano's rendition of California Dreaming and the Fall's Totally Wired, on the same collection.

Money in my pocket, chocolate in my belly, and a good beat on the stereo. Things could be worse, that's all I'm saying.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yet one more reason to avoid religion

Last week AP reported that Rayfran das Neves Sales killed rainforest defender nun Dorothy Sales in a mistaken act of self-defense:
"She said, 'The weapon I have is this,' and reached into her bag," Sales said. "I didn't know what she was going to pull out of her bag, so I shot her."
Am I the only one thinking "country-western song" here?

The tar pit mammoth gets seasonal

Picture (as with the below) courtesy of Conor, who has more on his site.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What's happening in my respiratory system

My cilia, Rip-Van-Winkle-like, have just woken from a decades-long slumber. "What the fuck???" they are exclaiming, "Who trashed this place while we were sleeping? What the hell is going on here?" I'm sure the level of rotten I feel is just due to the cilia breaking out the Dyson and whatnot. Or maybe they're using a back hoe for something.

Things you think are jokes until you realize they're not

I used to say, when people would cut on me for smoking through a cold, which hel-lo of course I always did--though I did switch to lights when I had pneumonia--I used to say to them, "smoking makes it an inhospitable environment for germs" or something like that. I have a theory, in fact, that the only people to survive the environmental apocalypse will be junk food-eating smokers. So yeah, I would say that but I would be at least half way kidding. Now, I have quit smoking, and I am here to say that's no joke. Never have I been so darned sick. Fer cryin' out loud. Truly I find myself thinking I may have to start smoking again just so that I can feel well.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Jenny won a cake at the Bazaar Bizarre cake walk yesterday

It was filled with jewels on pink ribbons.

What we're talking about in our town

Tookie Williams, that's what. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I think the death penalty is a bridge too far in any and all cases. I am no libertarian (in fact, I like the idea of government), but giving the state the power to take a citizen's life is giving it too much power.

So we'll see if LA sleeps peacefully tonight or not. The execution is scheduled for midnight.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Not to old to rock

Tonight's entertainment: Indy 103.1's broadcast from The Scene. I love going to a show like TSOL because not only are they still great, but I don't have to feel geriatric when I'm there because there are other folks my age.

Some of you know that I saw TSOL with DI and the Dickies a while back (last year?) at the Gene Autry Western Heritage museum in Griffith Park. The mere fact of this show coupled with the fact that Fugazi played at the Smithsonian Folklife festival a few years before was the beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt evidence that, yes, I am old. When museums are showcasing the rebellious music of your youth as "heritage" or "folklife," you're old. Though I will say that having been into punk when I was a kid softens the aging blow a little bit because talking about the shows of my youth garners a kind of "I was at Woodstock" awe among a certain crowd (who were not even the twinkle in anyone's eye when I saw Minor Threat).

And another thing, can I grouse for just a minute about LA and it's ridiculous lack of authenticity? The Scene is described as a "low down dirty rock bar" (with pool tables and retro video games) on their site. But I mean, c'mon, it's not exactly a roadhouse--you've got the hipster radio station broadcasting and Ameoba Music rating your jukebox. I hate when places like that try to market grit. But I suppose I need to remember, the key to living in LA and the key to loving it is to embrace it for what it is, lack of authenticity and all.

I did not have sex with torture that woman suspect

So the press is reporting today that, in a quasi-battered-spouse sort of way, NATO leaders are satisfied with Rice's explanations of US torture policy. Rice: "Don't leave me. You know I really love you baby." NATO leaders: "She loves us."

Rice did leave us a back door, but even so, NATO big wigs seemed reassured by her flagrant lying:

"Will there be abuses of policy? That's entirely possible," Rice told reporters. "Just because you're a democracy it doesn't mean that you're perfect."
It's not easy being green.

Here's an interesting difference in reporting. The story quoted above emphasizes
European foreign ministers said Thursday that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had "cleared the air" by assuring NATO allies that the U.S. does not allow torture of terrorist suspects and respects principles of the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.
The NY Times story, on the other hand, begins this way:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave the Bush administration's most comprehensive accounting yet of U.S. rules on treatment of prisoners in the war on terrorism Wednesday, but her assurances left loopholes for practices that could be akin to torture.

Rice said cruel and degrading interrogation methods are off limits for all U.S. personnel at home and abroad. But she gave no examples of banned practices, did not define the meaning of cruelty or degradation, did not say if the rules would apply to private contractors or foreign interrogators and made no mention of whether exceptions would be allowed.

"As a matter of U.S. policy," Rice said during a press conference with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, the United Nations Convention Against Torture "extends to U.S. personnel wherever they are, whether they are in the U.S. or outside the U.S."
How fucking weasely is that? I mean, if you hire a hit man and then go into court and try to use the defense "I didn't kill him," it's just not going to work to keep you out of prison, you know?

The Times also has a story titled "Skepticism Seems to Erode Europeans' Faith in Rice," in which they opine "it would be hard to imagine a more sudden and thorough tarnishing of the Bush administration's credibility than the one taking place here right now."

How can anyone believe these people anymore??? I know I'm a broken record on this one, folks, but I really, truly don't get it. When I was married to a lying cheat, I did let him persuade me to stay and try again (and again...), but I didn't believe him when he said he wasn't catting around. I really think the Dems need to hire someone like Dr. Phil for the next presidential campaign. ("Okay, you believe he loves you. How's that working for you?")

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Misery loves company

It's good to know I'm not the only one who's not feeling the holiday spirit all the way.

(Those Floridians are an odd bunch, I tell you.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why high school English is important

So I'm reading Bush's short Q & A session after meeting with the WHO Director-General and I'm thinking, "Didn't everyone else read all of those horrifying dystopic novels in public school?" I mean, how can a person have read Brave New World and 1984 and still believe the rhetoric that W regurgitates about Iraq? I really and truly don't get it. I read this for example
The only thing that the enemy has got going for them is the capacity to take innocent life and to get on our TV screens with this devastation that they cause. These people cannot stand free societies. They have no regard for the human condition. They'll kill women and children at the drop of a hat, all aimed at frightening the American people and trying to get us to withdraw.
And to me it reads like a parody of jingoistic proto-fascistic nationalism. They hate freedom. Victory is inevitable. Go team. Why is this not obvious to everyone? It's like those bad horror movies where only a few people in the know understand that everyone is gradually being turned into pod people/ zombies/ aliens. What was that one where putting on the special pair of sunglasses revealed who was an alien? It's like that. Brave New World and books like that are like the sunglasses. As much as I was an unenthusiastic student in my adolescence, I'm glad I always liked to read.

The whole thing, brief though it is, just pissed me off so much. This was the worst passage:
I -- our troops need to know that the American people stand with them, and we have a strategy for victory. And of course there will be debate, and of course there will be some pessimists and some people playing politics with the issue. But by far, the vast majority of people in this country stand squarely with the men and women who wear the nation's uniform.
Of course there will be people who disagree with me, but they will be wrong. At best they're just haters and sad asses; at worst they are putting their own political ambitions in front of what's best for this nation and, driven by spurious motives, are willing to spit in the eye of private Ryan.

The whole thing ends with the bald-faced lie, "We do not render to countries that torture. That has been our policy, and that policy will remain the same." Yeah, and you did not have sex with that woman, and you are not a crook.


So W lit the Hannukah menorah tonight. Of course, the holiday isn't actually taking place, but whatever, right? Maybe today was the only time they could get the West Point Jewish Cadet Choir to play (really). I'm just wondering when someone's going to cover National Brotherhood Week but with the crucial "everyone hates the Muslims" revision.

LA weekend pick

Bazaar Bizarre, d.i.y. crafter delight, is this Sunday--details to be found here. I went last year and loved it. I'm not a d.i.y. crafter (by any means) and despite having lived in LA for four years, I'm still pretty impervious to trends, so the preponderance of, for example, those weird misshapen stuffed animals eludes me and starts to be a bit cloying.

Nonetheless, really this is the one Christmas shopping event not to be missed. Pick up prints from Red Ink Like Blood

Earrings from Chewy Crafts

Rosary belts

And where else in the world can you get poontang stained glass I ask you?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Kill your television

In the category of ideas that should never leave the drawing board falls Al in the Family, Al Sharpton's proposed sit-com. Says Al:
I am the center of a family with different social and political views and we crack jokes and confront each other but are a family.
And people wonder why I don't watch much TV.


Today is the 21st anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. In commemoration I note the EPA's proposed weakening of emissions reporting requirements. Don't worry though:
Kim Nelson, an assistant administrator at the EPA, said the companies that would benefit from the proposal are "tiny, tiny businesses, mom-and-pop shops operating on Main Street, that, in an aggregate, amount to less than 1% of the emissions in this country."
Those wee little mom-and-pop businesses that dump two tons of toxic chemicals into the environment. It's only them. If you're such a hater that that bothers you, the link above explains how to submit a comment (public commenting is permitted until Jan 13).

Why I would hate being a journalist

Because they don't like it when you use the word "fuck-knob." And they want you to use phrases like "credibility questions" instead of "lying sack of shit."

Once upon a time...

...a thousand years ago, when I was in college, I had a friend, Maugorn, who was one of those chainmail-sporting medieval militia guys (really). [Let me digress for a moment and say I was never well adjusted, but by the time I got to the university, I had learned that the best defense is a good offense. Thus the firecone orange hair and the collection of allies that were like "What if Cronenberg wrote Friends."] So Maugie had a collection of one-liners that all sounded like (but weren't) the end of a long story. If you were, say, riding an elevator with him and someone got on at the fourth floor, Maugorn might come out with a line like "Well, the priest was okay, but they had to saw the legs off the goat...."

Good fun.

Anyway, I thought of him today when someone sent me this.

To hell with war, let's shop

Once again, the season of excessive spending is upon us. I do consider it part of my public blogging service to provide the occasional gift idea (remember last year's stuffed microbes--like that cute little flesh eating bacteria doll--and the crazy cat lady action figure?). So here is the first of our seasonal gift suggestions.

The Monty Python Black Knight plush doll with removable velcro limbs.

Who wouldn't love one of these? Such a potent metaphor for oh-so-many things.

The return of the repressed

Okay, I think I'm back. I know I've been a pretty half hearted blogger lately. The double whammy of quitting smoking and trying to survive the holiday season have hit me hard this year. It's been taking all of my energy not to drive into oncoming traffic and whatnot. Frankly I don't know how I lived through all of those Novembers in Wisconsin without defenestrating. But yesterday I bought plane tickets to go to Florida and Albuquerque, and that has me a bit cheered. So I guess I'm digging myself out of the depression hole.

Blogging started to seem to me to be like those pieces of classical music where they take one simple refrain and reformulate it in all sorts of different ways. Or really the news itself started to seem that way to me. 1.We're in an unwinnable war that people keep lying about. 2.The administration is trying to take away the few rights we have left. 3.Human rights are, like, so last year. 4.Global warming has taken on scary proportions, but our national strategy continues to be denial. 5.Everyone hates us--with good justification--and we increasingly dislike our own leaders.

And so on. It just gets tiresome. It feels like you could blog this administration with some sort of automated program that read key words (torture, Roe, WMD, etc.) and responded accordingly or at the very least, I could type up some amount of numbered posts and just refer people to them as they apply. But hey, be that as it may, I'm back to fight another round.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


That's the subject line Annette used when she forwarded today's NYT op-ed piece "A Man's Right to Choose," and I can't think of a better one. Really you should just go read it. It flabbergasted me enough to rouse me from my recent blog-abstinence. This was about the spot where my head actually exploded:
Pro-choice advocates argue that the debate is really about a woman's control over her body. Hence my lack of rights to have any say in whether my seed comes to fruition.
WTF is up at the Times that they are publishing pieces that speak of seed coming to fruition? How very Old Testament of them.

And then there's this paragraph (which is pretty much the gist of the piece as a whole):
NOBODY is arguing that we should let my friend who impregnated his girlfriend off the hook. If you play, you must pay. But if you pay, you should get some say. If a father is willing to legally commit to supporting and raising the child himself, why should a woman be able to end a pregnancy that she knew was a possibility of consensual sex? Why couldn't I make the same claim--that I am going to keep the baby regardless of whether she wants it or not?
Why couldn't you make the same claim? Um, because the fetus is lodged in the woman's body and to file an injunction to prohibit an abortion is, essentially, turning her into a big incubator. Jesus. Really. Everyone has to go read Margaret Atwood for homework.

Friday, November 18, 2005


From Chris comes this gem from today's LA Times. Inspired by Maureen Dowd's impending visit, the aptly named Samantha Bonar writes a quick article on stupidity as the key to attracting men:

I also have decided to limit my vocabulary to 10 monosyllabic words (not counting contractions and articles):


For example: "Big strong man want beer?" "You want chips?" "You great!"

I will avoid these words like New Orleans:


As in: "Why do you insist on my wearing these sheer red stockings?" "Can I have one of your beers?" "Will you let me know if you are married?"

I'm such a geek

I'm such a geek that when I write a post like the one below and I log on to Thomas for the first time in forever and I see that it's been revamped, I do get excited.

So yeah, Thomas has had a facelift (and some real body work as well). I'm liking it.

(Probably those of you who are blogging more than once every blue moon knew that already, but I didn't.)

More on turkeys

You know, the whole reason I was on the White House site was to find the statement by Puffy McMoonface (go listen to Stephanie Miller if that reference makes no sense to you) bashing Murtha. I'd heard he compares Murtha to Michael Moore. (For those of you who have been living in a cave, Murtha introduced a bill to withdraw troops from Iraq. The text of the bill isn't available on Thomas yet, but Murtha's site has a press release from yesterday with his ideas.)

So here's the White House statement:
Congressman Murtha is a respected veteran and politician who has a record of supporting a strong America. So it is baffling that he is endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore and the extreme liberal wing of the Democratic party. The eve of an historic democratic election in Iraq is not the time to surrender to the terrorists. After seeing his statement, we remain baffled -- nowhere does he explain how retreating from Iraq makes America safer.
It's so Goebbels I can hardly stand it. Murtha's opposition to the war and desire to withdraw troops makes him allied with "the extreme liberal wing" (I mean, when you search for legislation sponsored by the guy, the only other thing that comes up is a proposed Constitutional amendment for school prayer--sheesh)?

And that closing sentence--it fucking kills me. I mean, if this administration could explain in a satisfactory fashion how going to war with Iraq makes America safer, we might have something to talk about.

Lucky turkeys

You may or may not know that every year, a turkey (and an alternate) are presented to the president of the US and he pardons them. (I feel pretty confident that my international buddies do not know of this bizarre practice.) This has been going on for decades. You can read all about the ritual here. Usually, the pardoned turkeys go to live on a farm in Virginia ("He went to live on a farm, dear...")--Frying Pan Park, to be exact. So this year, the White House tells us the as-yet-unnamed turkeys are going to Califor-ni-a instead--Disneyland, to be exact. They will live out there days as part of a holiday display apparently and will "serve as honorary Grand Marshals for Disneyland's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade." This country is so weird; it really is.

From now until Monday, you can vote (click the link above) for names for the lucky turkey and his sidekick:
Democracy and Freedom
Blessing and Bounty
Marshmallow and Yam
Wattle and Snood
Corn and Maize
I say, let's name them Democracy and Freedom and discontinue the practice of pardoning them.

Deleterious promotions

When I see things like this, I just wish there was some other easy way to get to Albuquerque.

Southwest Airlines tipped off the NBA season by unveiling our latest airplane, Slam Dunk One.

I'm so glad I did drugs

When I read stories about things like kids strangling themselves to death accidentally during auto-asphyxiation, I think "wow thank god I just smoked dope and drank and stuff during high school."

(In other "kids today!" news, here's what lurks in the girl's room at Valley schools these days. ("How was school dear?" "It wath fine, mom")

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The last action figure

Maria makes last minute adjustments to her crash test dummy of a husband so that his plastic head doesn't fall off on camera.

(Yay to California for just saying no to Herr Governor's wretched propositions.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Animal bonanza

People are so fucking weird, you know that? This is one the top three best things about the Internet--that it serves as evidence of just how fucking weird people really are. Last night I was poking around the site where I used to work from their blog, I come to Bee Dogs, "the premier online repository for pictures of dogs in bee costumes."

Who knew, right? Anyway, Gina Zycher, site mistress rocks my world. And she has a stellar collection of links including Sugar Bush Squirrel, the world's most photographed squirrel.

And then there is my personal favorite,

One of my coworkers said it should rightfully be called, and I hear that. But I applaud the selfless effort just to make the rest of us laugh. And as Andrea pointed out, page four has a nice pic of a cat with his head in a prosthetic leg, and good amputee sight gags are hard to come by.

So there you have it. People with bizarre sensibilities and way too much time on their hands. I love the Internets.

On the radio this morning

"...the debate over whether we should be able to torture and secretly detain people..."

I did resist the urge to drive into oncoming traffic, but the impulse was strong.

The horror, the horror

This weekend LA Times Magazine had an article on "cybercrafting." Myself, I actually have a barely concealed disdain for the knitting movement (though several of my friends are in that number), but I love those cybercrafters. LA Times was making punk rock Martha Stewart references, but we were thinking William Morris meets Joan Jett ourselves. (As an aside, Andrea, who collects Francoma stoneware and has a gourmet cooking--um--issue/habit, has been referred to as "Marxist Stewart.")

I do like those cybercrafters. Last year we went to Bazaar Bizarre and loved it. That's where I got my "non" tee-shirt. So the article inspired me, and I followed some of the links, despite being oh-so-non-crafty myself.

And what do I find but this hat:

It's such a traffic accident I can't stop looking at it. I keep thinking "what if HR Giger did crafts?"

From the oh-so-aptly-titled What Not to Crochet. (Link from Extreme Craft.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

From the department of ridiculous headlines

Comes tonight's story

Lines Between News, Entertainment Blurring


Moral compass. Hardly ever used. Old and no longer in working order--rusty and needs a good cleaning.

Please return to the American people. Great sentimental value.

Overstating the obvious

I know I say this or something akin to this on a biweekly basis or so, but I really can't believe we've come to the point that our president feels the need to say in a press conference (see below) "We do not torture."

I mean, it's bad enough that we would be in a position as a nation to have to make such a pronouncement at a press conference. And then to have it inevitably delivered in the tenor of "I did not have sex with that woman," or "I am not a crook."

Jesus Christ, you know? (Okay, this is my favorite topic to repeatedly rant about, but at least the horse is dead, right?)

My friend Susan sent me this recently:
A sign held high at the recent huge anti-Bush protest demonstration in Washington:




And I am so there. Could the American people please learn to care about something important for once??!

AfterDowningStreet is reporting that most Americans do think that Bush should be impeached if he entered the war under false pretenses (thanks to Jeff for the head's up on the story):
The poll found that 53% agreed with the statement:

"If President Bush did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment."

42% disagreed, and 5% said they didn't know or declined to answer. The poll has a +/- 2.9% margin of error.
AfterDowningStreet and Zogby (who performed the poll) both say they are surprised at the number of folks in support of impeachment, but I need to say (not to be the perpetual half-empty girl)--42% are fine with the president lying to get us into a war?? Just what the fuck constitutes an impeachable offense if the president can stand in front of Congress and lie about evidence in order to launch us into an unmotivated war?

We do not torture.

Way to not answer a question, George

From Bush's meeting today with Panama's President Torrijos:

Q: Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.

And, therefore, we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible -- more possible to do our job. There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that's why you're seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We -- all of us have an obligation, and it's a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I'm confident that when people see the facts, that they'll recognize that we've -- they've got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful.
I don't know about anyone else, but I for one am so relieved to hear we do not torture. Thank goodness.

Really, this is such a duck and weave answer it's impressive. Question: Can the Red Cross see the US's secret prisons? No answer to that one at all. Something about a 10-foot pole. Second question: Should the CIA be above the law? Answer: Well, no...and that's why Congress needs to pass the right laws to deal with our lurking, plotting, planning enemy. So we're talking to them about that. (Habeas Corpus is so last week.)

Seeing it versus reading about it

Somehow seeing the actual .pdf versions of Michael Brown's Katrina correspondence makes me feel even more queasy than reading about them. Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon has them posted on his site.

Why we love Andrea

From her email to me a minute ago:

Bad day here. While waiting for the 900 dollar water heater, I discovered that my computer had been infected by some kind of hideous virus. Found out that Indian tech support guys have as much trouble pronouncing "albuquerque" as we have pronouncing "chakrabarathawarthy". But they don't think that's funny, or a point of cultural meeting, or anything. Anyway, I fixed the goddam thing myself and went to home depot.

Local politics

Because we in California have some sort of addiction to voting--we begin to go through withdrawal if we don't go to the polls at least once in a 10- or 12-month period--we have a "special election" tomorrow.

In the spirit of "if Arnold's for it, vote no," this is a little funny--not a knee-slapper, but the Cheney part did make me laugh out loud.

The loaded gun in the first act

I admit I am a competitive person and I like winning arguments, but even so, I would really be okay with getting to say "Okay, I was wrong" a little more often in the world of politics. In fact, I would welcome that opportunity.

But noooo....

Which is to say, according to a WaPo story this weekend since the PATRIOT Act passed, the FBI has issued something like 100 times more national security letters--in the neighborhood of 30,000 a year:
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters - one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people - are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
I hate to be jaded about this, but all I can think of is "I'm shocked! Shocked! that there is gambling going on..."

AP covers the story and includes the sort of quote that makes my head explode:
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Sunday that he could not immediately confirm or dispute the 30,000 figure, but he said the power to use the security letters was justified.

"The Department of Justice inspector general in August 2005 found no civil rights violations with respect to the Patriot Act," he said.
Um, right, well the whole point of the fucking PATRIOT Act, Einstein, is to change what constitutes a civil rights violation. Good god the whole thing is so Kafka-esque it's almost enough to make me lose my sense of humor.

But not quite!

After you read the Post article and need some cheering up, check out the Fox News parody. It's a slow moving target, I know, but we take our laughs where we can get them here at NMTE.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Something about truth and fiction

Went to see Good Night and Good Luck this weekend. I've never been a real fan of George Clooney, but he may have talked me into it with this one. While I would have been happier with a defense against McCarthy that didn't include "I'm not a Communist" as part of its substance, I also get that we're dealing with a real historical record here. I don't know much about Morrow's run-in with McCarthy, but probably that is part of what he offered in his defense.

Be that as it may, I liked it. Twice Clooney goes out of his way to smack the audience upside the head in case they are missing the contemporary parallels. (I'm sure many did nonetheless.) First he uses the word "terror" to make his point and then the film ends with a clip from Eisenhower praising Habeas Corpus. I mean, just in case you didn't get it yet.

On a funnier note (sort of) according to IMDB:

Director/star George Clooney had said they opted to use archive footage of Joseph McCarthy instead of using an actor to portray the senator. Clooney had said that when the movie had undergone test screenings, audience members felt that the McCarthy character was overacting a bit, not realizing that it was the actual McCarthy through archive footage.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Excerpt of the day

I'm sure this is all over (ALL OVER) the Internets by now. I have been too busy to do anything but listen to the Clash and type as if my life depends on it, so I have no idea what anyone is talking about in the real world, but it literally made me laugh out loud, so I will share it anyway. From a story titled Man Sues Ex-Girlfriend Over Glue Attack:
His lawsuit claims the two broke up in 1999 after dating for 10 months and Slaby began dating someone else.

Slaby contends that O'Toole invited him over to her home on May 7, 2000, where he fell asleep. He woke up to find that O'Toole had used Super Glue to stick his genitals to his abdomen, glued his buttocks together and spelled out a profanity on his back in nail polish.
I love that her defense is that it was a "consensual act." Lordy lordy.

It's a tough contest to win

But I'm saying the most depressing line from this morning's news is
The bill, the Deficit Reduction Act, reduces government spending in all areas except those related to defense and national security for the period of 2006-2010.

Although it could be this line:
The Deficit Reduction Act provides for the opening of oil and gas development of Alaska's environmentally sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in an effort to ease the United States's dependence on imported energy.
And let me take a minute here and say how much I fucking hate reporting like this that reprints the White House talking points (" an effort to ease...") as if they are part of the news. This is called objective reporting. If you said, on the other hand, "...though even very basic gas mileage regulations would save an equivalent amount of fuel..." that would be biased reporting though it is clearly no less true and no less biased.

Here's another one from the same story:
The bill's biggest savings would come in health and education, worth a combined total of more than 16 billion dollars.
Let's think about the word "savings" in this context and mull over the dozens of other words we could use in its place ("evisceration" is my personal choice). You see what I'm saying?

My two other depressing news line candidates today both come from a story that, on the face of it, should be almost as cheery as reading Brownie's sartorial emails (yes, roll up your sleeves, no to the tie) "Bush Public Support at Lowest Level Yet."

First there's this one:
Four in five Republicans still back the president.

"I think he's done a wonderful job," said Gloria Bloecher, a Republican from Sherman, Texas. "He's done wonderful things for the economy. He rescued people who needed help in Iraq--it was the Christian thing to do. I still trust his people and the people he picks for the Supreme Court."
God help me I read stuff like that and it brings out some latent Fascist side of myself that wants to say, "You know what Gloria--we're enrolling you in our mandatory sterilization program because you just shouldn't be allowed to breed." For fuck's sake--the Christian thing to do--I guess if I cast my mind back on the Inquisition and the Crusades I can see the argument (but then I'm Jewish; what do I know).

The article closes with this gem:
"I think the war in Iraq being on the front page every day has taken its toll," said Van Poole, former Florida GOP chairman and now a Tallahassee lobbyist, who expects Bush to bounce back. "Americans are impatient. Whatever our job is, Americans want us to get it done."
It's all so obvious it hardly bears comment I know (and here we get to some of why I have been such a lax blogger I think--I start to feel like we need more words for "criminal" and "pig" and "venal." Otherwise it just begins to be so repetitive). So yeah, the problem is not that we are in an endless war against "terror" that is like an eight headed hydra--the more we fight the more we lose--and that we are not even fighting it on the most logical front, even if you believed in this war--and that we have had all the strategy of Pee Wee Herman in this. No, the problem is that we've been reporting about it. And that we are impatient. Right. I'd like to supersize that carnage please. Yes, that's to go. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Apropos of nothing

Yes, I have been a lax blogger. Yes, there are pressing current events to comment on--indictments, nominations, ongoing criminality and incompetence...

And then there is my first mesoversary as a nonsmoker (yesterday).

But all of that will have to wait. At this present moment I am up to my eyeballs in work. In the meantime though, I happened across this Mary Ellen Mark site--not new by any means, but new to me.

I was skimming the latest issue of Boldtype and they review the Mary Ellen Mark book on Twins, which is what brought me to the collection of Mark's photos of Bombay prostitutes. It's worth visiting--even if you're really too busy like me.

More later today...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Line of the day

Fitzgerald to reporters today:

I know that you want to know what we know, but I can't tell you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A history of violence

Yesterday, in celebration of the 2G carnage mark (that is, the 2,000 American enlisted boys death toll--the real figures of human waste being exponentially higher), I went to see Cronenberg's latest, History of Violence, with a couple of friends. (And probably some of the below constitutes spoilers so don't read on if you're touchy about that kind of thing.)

Because I am a geek, I often read reviews of movies after I go see them, particularly if I like them. And I did like HoV--though my movie companions were not so impressed I think. Anyway, I just read about 1/2 dozen reviews and I suppose it's not too surprising that mostly it's the British reviews that talk about the movie as an investigation of American history, an implication that seemed obvious on a "no duh" level to me, but hey, I spent a decade of my life writing papers no one will ever read about things like this so there you have it.

What was surprising to me though was how few reviewers talked about gender. Really none of them did. Some reviews talk about the marriage in the movie--the ways that the violence inflects the intimacy between Tom Stall and his wife, but nobody really talked about the "this is a man's world" aspect of the film. Maybe it's my own bleak outlook in the whole man/woman debacle these days, but I left the movie feeling depressed about the whole message that, on some level, men can only really be deeply intimate with other men and that intimacy is built on a foundation of violence. Please don't get me wrong. I really am not trying to man bash here. You guys (Yella, Ep, Gordon, Fixer, Conor, and so on) you know I love you. I don't think you're a bunch of brutal naked apes or anything. But zooming out some away from the personal relationships and looking more at the Fight Club aspects of America (past and present), it's just a bit sad that's all. There's this moment when father and son embrace--blood spattered father and rifle clutching son--and it's so intimate; that's what I'm talking about here.

Somewhat brilliantly, in my opinion, IMDB staffer Keith Simanton calls attention to the parallels between HoV's closing scene and the scene in It's a Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart comes home and yells at the family (a scene that, I will confess, has never failed to make me cry even though I have seen the movie countless times). Of course, talking about Cronenberg next to Capra is like comparing Francis Bacon and Maxfield Parrish or something, but that's the beauty of it. I think the movie is saying not just that underneath the idyllic pastoral is a lot of bloodshed, but that neither of these visions are the truth in and of themselves. The movie makes much of the Tom vs. Joey conflict--who is this person really--is he Tom? Is he Joey? And the reviews that do talk about the marriage in the movie talk about the paired sex scenes as playing out this conflict in his relationship with Edie. But really isn't the movie saying you can't bifurcate Tom/Joey?

I guess in that way I found it pretty impressive. I think it's easy in this present political landscape (and maybe it's always been easy) to think of "reality" as the violence that underpins our day to day life here. What I mean is, reality is the war we are fighting in Iraq not the cars I share the road with in the morning that are dropping kids off at school. (And of course, there are those who see the kids/commute as the reality and the war as something to be erased or denied.) But I think what HoV says is it's not an either/or situation. As someone who has always had a real love/hate relationship with America (shit, I am an "Americanist" according to the academy--or was) this resonates with me and I guess that's why I liked the movie so much.

So did any of y'all see it? What did you think?

Friday, October 21, 2005

She fills her head with culture

So I am trapped in a board meeting for the next two days, typing a quick note here during lunch break. No time to say much except I didn't want to wait to say Gang of Four was outstanding. Really an amazingly great, great show. There was a point in the evening, in fact, when I thought that maybe I just didn't need to ever go to another rock show again--that this was like the period at the end of rock's sentence and I could move on to a new genre. Of course, then this morning I got a ticketmaster spam email saying "don't forget the social distortion show" and I thought, hmmm...

But in any case, they did not disappoint. I feel a lot like someone threw me downstairs today (got a fierce cold as well) and I am on the nod in the board meeting sucking down coffee like nobody's business, but it was so, so worth it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why I love my job

Because I get to be around people like this all day.

Portia on the post-40 punk rock crowd:

If you try to be too punk rock when you're older, it's like bread that's gone bad. Everybody can see the mold, but the bread thinks it's fine.

Tom on quitting smoking:

When I quit smoking I wanted to pick my kids up by the ears and chew their faces off.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I love lists

After School Snack alerted us to Time magazine's list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. It's embarrassing how few of them I have read--43--though apparently I am above the mean, judging by the comments thread at Snack.

In any case, I pass it along for the other list-lovers among you (Conor, Andrea...). One wonders about some of the choices really. I mean, Judy Blume? Really?? Possession? Um, okay.

The things that keep us hanging on

So I'm here to tell you that day 18 of not smoking is hardly a fucking cake walk. I have now lived in California long enough that two days of unremitting rain is enough to make me feel totally like the Eli Lilly poster child. Plus I am behind at work and continuing to have a hard time focusing. (Did anyone see Cold Turkey? I feel so much like that drunk guy who cries because he can't smoke when I'm trying to write.)

But...Girl Wants (to say goodbye to) Rock and Roll is cheering me up a little bit (thank you Conor). And Tony came by and managed to actually put a smile on my face--a tough job today I tell you.

A reality TV show dying to happen

Are you with me on this one? Can you envision it?

Bad marketing

From a spam email Amazon sent me today:

Dear Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased Bipolar Disorder: Family-Focused Treatment Approach, A by David J. Miklowitz also purchased books by Jennifer Hudson. For this reason, you might like to know that Jennifer Hudson's Psychopathology and the Family will be released soon.
Those of you who know me will immediately understand why this is so wrong-headed. To the rest of you I will merely say the divorce was finalized five years ago. So much for the family-focused treatment approach.

When my time does come

Please someone write me an obituary with as good a closing line.

From Sunday's Chicago Tribune:

Theodore Roosevelt Heller, 88, loving father of Charles (Joann) Heller; dear brother of the late Sonya (the late Jack) Steinberg. Ted was discharged from the U.S. Army during WWII due to service related injuries, and then forced his way back into the Illinois National Guard insisting no one tells him when to serve his country. Graveside services Tuesday 11 a.m. at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery (Ziditshover section), 1700 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago. In lieu of flowers, please send acerbic letters to Republicans.


Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.

Not wimpy, drizzly, meltaway rain but serious, no-holds-barred, your-city-is-sliding-into-the-ocean rain.

The whole "we have angered god" theory of weather patterns is beginning to resonate with yours truly.

AP reports about the hail, mudslides, deaths, freeway closings, and--so sad--the forced cancellation of INXS's rooftop concert for the new Virgin Megastore opening.

Myself, I am instituting a weather meme: favorite songs about the weather. I'd have to name
"About the Weather"--Magazine
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain"--Creedence
"Heat Wave"--Martha and the Vandellas
(Famous Blue Raincoat doesn't count, right? If it does, that goes in here too.)
Anyone else?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Jesus Darwin smackdown

I have already expressed my skepticism about the whole intelligent design theory here at NMTE. I've written about my own theory that Earth is, in fact, a beta-test and God went on to create other, more successful worlds where people don't have free will and do have one detachable arm to make it easier to spoon with their lovers.

So of course, these are the thoughts that are going through my head when I'm reading today about "intelligent design advocate," Michael Behe, testifying in Pennsylvania court. Behe apparently achieved fame among the flat earth proponents intelligent design people by making "a scientific argument that blood-clotting is poorly explained by Darwinian processes but well explained by design."

Blood clotting. Yeah.

My personal favorite line in the article is this: "The intelligent design concept does not name the designer, although Behe, a Roman Catholic, testified he personally believes it to be God." Right, but it could be what--space aliens? Buddha? a distant relative of Frank Lloyd Wright? Spare me, really.

If that makes you ask all of those "what about dinosaurs walking the earth--how did everything fit in the ark" kinds of questions, those fish-bumpered hoodoo people have answers to that as well. (Thanks to A Civil Tongue for the link.)

And let's not forget the tee-shirts. All good movements need tee-shirts.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hee hee

From Knight Ridder reporting on Pew's latest Bush numbers:

-38 percent of Americans approve of how Bush is handling his job, down from 50 percent at his inauguration in January;

-29 percent are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, down from 40 percent in January;

-Americans believe it was wrong to invade Iraq by a margin of 50 percent to 44 percent, a reverse from the January margin of 51-44 that thought it was the right decision.

The public is also skeptical about whether Bush had made most things better or worse. By a margin of 66-6, they think he's made the federal budget deficit worse. By 40-12, they think he made Social Security worse. By 57-19, they think he's made the economy worse. By 35-25, they think he's weakened morality in the country.


From yesterday's White House press briefing:

MR. McCLELLAN: Steve said "thank you" a second time. I think the first time -- the first time --

Q I know, but my question is --

MR. McCLELLAN: The first time, we probably should have stopped it at that.

Q Right. I know. Aren't you sad that you didn't go for -- that you went past, "thank you"?

MR. McCLELLAN: No. Actually, I'm not. I'm glad we had this discussion, John.

Q Okay, good. But my only question was, the very last thing that you said there, why didn't you just say that in response to my question instead of attacking me and getting into this whole brouhaha?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I was trying to, but some people kept jumping in, including yourself when I was responding to your question.

Q Well, excuse me, you attacked me. I just wasn't going to let it sit.

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not attacking. I'm just pointing out that a lot of the coverage is not focused on the record and the qualifications and the philosophy -

Q I'll bring you transcripts after the briefing.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and that's where it should. Did it focus on it last night? Let's look at the transcripts.

Q You spoke about a dignified process, do you think it's dignified to --

Q Are you -- let's talk about truth and honesty. Are you trying to say that the White House has not talked to conservatives and pointed them to the church that she goes to, and to her religion --

MR. McCLELLAN: I answered all those questions yesterday.

Q -- to show that she has religion -- but you're just saying right now that we're making an issue of it. You're making an issue of it by having White House officials --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm saying --

Q -- tell conservatives that that's a reason they should trust her. Then they tell us that --

MR. McCLELLAN: No, I'm not saying that. You're putting words --

Q -- that that's what's happening.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- in my mouth. I'm saying the focus ought to be on records and qualification and philosophy.

Q I'm not putting any words in your mouth.

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, you are.

A stunning reversal of the usual pattern

I've been pretty damn blue these past couple of days. The whole becoming a nasty and stupid person upon quitting smoking thing is really, really getting to me.

So I'm talking to Becky last night and she is mystified about how I can be in a bad mood when the right is so totally disintegrating--elbowing each other out of the way to fall on their swords. And so this morning I determined to take Becky's advice, that has fallen on my deaf ears for so long, and listen to Stephanie Miller. Oh my god. What was I thinking to wait so long?

I love this woman!!! If anyone else out there is feeling a little blue, give her a listen. I am here in my office with my headphones on, listening to this morning's archived broadcast laughing out loud somewhat hysterically. First there was Scott McClellan's new nickname--Chummy McSharkbait, the President's Spokesliar--and then there's the riff on the new reality TV show "Barbara Bush on Negro Island."

"In what universe do you look at a 2% approval rating among blacks and say 'it's not so bad?' I mean, there's one digit before you get"

"Yeah, and there's a three percent margin for error, so it could be as much as 5%...Or -1%."

So yes, it's one of those rare moments in history where listen to the news can actually act to cheer you up if you're left of center. I'm soaking it in. This is my new quitting smoking strategy--I'm just going to immerse myself in the news as much as possible.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oddly satisfying

This is.

(And you can click and drag him too.)

Quote of the day

Free-roaming, managed cheetahs in the south-western United States could save the fastest carnivore from extinction...

Pleistocene re-wilding is an optimistic alternative.

(Pleistocene re-wilding sounds to me either like a band name or a bad crafting trend. Like: "Did you see her bathroom? It's frightful. She got into that pleistocene re-wilding and now all of the grout is chartreuse."

I'm so restless; I'm bored as a cat...

Chris just reminded me of the excellence of Postsecret. I hadn't been there in a long time, and they've gotten better.

This one's for Portia:
I am almost done with the first draft of this "blood from a stone" report. (My lord the smoke bone is connected to the writing bone!)

I know the nicotine is pretty much out of my system but I still have these almost hallucinatory moments. This morning, passing the church next to my building, this flock of church ladies came clustering into the street in their weird tan skirted, white shirted church lady auxiliary outfits. It was highly surreal and I am just out of it enough that I almost turned several of them into hood ornaments as I was absorbing what was happening. Be careful church ladies!!! You're not made of titanium. And I shouldn't be operating heavy machinery.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Since I'm in a quoting mode

I love this from Yelladog:

Standing over finished work and musing is a great and honorable passtime in the South, and there are certain protocols that must be followed. Someone has to say "Yep," and the other party has to say "Glad that's done." What follows is situationally dependent. If it's a fresh engine rebuild, someone has to say "Purring like a kitten!" even if the engine is thumping like a disco and belching blue smoke. If it's a freshly painted barn or a rebuilt well house, someone is supposed to say "Damn, looks like new, doesn't it?" Digging up a clothesline pole is kind of unusual, so we were in virgin territory. Andy broke with protocol and said "You're never going to bust that ball of concrete."

Well, never say never to a redneck. Especially, never say never to a redneck with a sledgehammer.
Patrick writes so well--he is a regular renaissance redneck, I tell you. In fact, we "met" over this post-election post that someone forwarded me in email and I googled to track down. Almost a year later and still a brilliant post.

Utter submission

From this month's Los Angeles magazine:

The brilliant ad line "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" understands that the vast majority of people who come to Vegas won't really have wild affairs or run off with showgirls or indulge in anything more than the garden-variety debauchery of a few too many White Russians at the roulette wheel. The allure of "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" isn’t what happens in Vegas but the unfulfilled possibility of what might have happened the last time and what might happen the next, even as nothing is likely to ever happen. Vegas is a Sodom of the mind, the City of the Free Pass that you never use, and that it's not free at all is beside the point, because the other thing that Vegas shares with LA is the utter submission of reason to hope. In fact, your chance of winning an Academy Award outdistances any chance of ever winning "big" in Vegas. Every intelligent person understands this and it doesn't matter; once again unfulfilled possibility overpowers comprehension.

Taking my tongue back from the cat

I am still alive out here. And still a non-smoker (day 12 thank you very much). The combination of being half crazy from desire to smoke and a mongo project at work have me silent, but tonight I hope to crawl out from under the writing rock.

Writing without smoking has been humbling at best. It is getting better, but thank heavens this is not the final draft, is what I'm saying.

In other news, I am very excited to have bought Gang of Four tickets today. Thank you Yelladog and Eponymous for the heads-up. Ep has pix from the Athens show.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Just now on the phone

Me: I ate an entire bag of red vines yesterday.

Andrea: You mean the ones you said weren't very satisfying.

Me: Yeah.

Andrea: snicker

Me: If they'd been satisfying I wouldn't have had to eat the whole bag.

I really don't understand men

It's official. I really don't get them--this sudden realization brought on by the announcement of this year's Ig Nobel winner: Gregg Miller, the creator of Neuticals, testical implants for dogs who've gone under the knife.

I know it's tiresome....

...and for that I apologize. I do get that there are about a zillion more important things to be talking about (DeLay, Miers, the NY subway...) than my addiction to the demon weed. But hey. It's day seven.

I am actually in my office here at work--rather than working from home as I have been most of the week. I have a big writing project that I am behind on, but plugging away at. X Unclogged is playing, I am chewing away on my polar ice gum, thinking fondly about the past when I used to be a smart person.

Yeah. I think I'm leaving here soon to go home and work from there some more. That way when I really start to lose my shit I can blast the music and dance through my apartment.

This link from Conor pretty well captures how I am feeling today.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

If I were a farmer...

...waking up at four a.m. would make sense. It was like this actually. "Yikes, what time is it? I'm wide awake!!!....look at clock...Oh, it's four a.m. Go back to bed, Travis......Yikes, what time is it? I'm wide awake....Oh, it's four o three...." Repeat until 4:24 at which point you surrender and get out of bed.

I think we should get RJ Reynolds to run for president. Because surely with that level of evil genius in the White House we can both win the war on terror and regain our rightful place as world dominating superpower.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Soothing the savage beast

So I am working from home on a big writing project. Chewing tea tree toothpicks until they transform into a wood pulp substance and listening to Sigur-Rós' Takk, which I just bought yesterday on Eponymous' recommendation. It's a fantastic CD. At the risk of being misunderstood as someone who listens to way too much music described as "ethereal" (first Dead Can Dance, now this) I really cannot recommend it enough. Thank heavens I don't have a roommate because I'm just going to listen to this over and over today while I write and turn tea tree toothpicks into wood pulp.

(And I'll confess that no matter how many times I play this, I will remain completely clueless as to the different titles of their songs as I do whenever I like a band like this--witness my relationship to the Cocteau Twins, for example and their song titles are in English not Icelandic.)

You can hear sound clips on Amazon, of course; though you really should buy from someone with better labor practices.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

So far I haven't killed anyone

Hell, I haven't even punched anyone in the face, and I'd say that's damn good.

So this morning they kept me waiting an hour for the fasting blood test. Have I mentioned that patience is the personal quality most severely depleted by not smoking? Well, so it seems for me. And so I'm waiting there an hour. Hungry. Daytime TV is on--The View, which is apparently four women spouting off about things they don't know much about ("Well, if I had to nominate a supreme court justice, I'd nominate someone I know who shares my views"). Bad enough, right? Well then on comes Air Supply to do a medley of their "greatest hits." That was the point I realized god was mocking me and it was going to be alright.

Once again

Conor recommends the finest:
OK Go's A Million Ways video. He's calling it "possibly the best heavily-choreographed-bad-dancing-in-the-back-garden music video ever" and I have to concur.

Happy New Year

Mazel Tov everyone. So far day four is beginning fabulously. DeLay has been indicted on more charges. Two of my best friends called me already to wish me a happy anniversary. My in box is filled with well wishes and I'm on my way to get a fasting blood test taken (which I've been putting off for a week).

More soon. Thank you to all for the non-smoking encouragement. Believe me it helps and I need it. I told Andrea I felt like I was in Lamaze classes. I'd get this wave of compulsion and just need to breathe--it does feel like the addiction equivalent of labor. She says I'm going to give birth to a camel.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I know I should say something about Miers

But I'm not going to. What I'm going to say is simply day three of not smoking is drawing to a close. It was, in fact, harder than day one or two. I'm not sure I can really stand it if day four gets any harder. I don't think I will smoke but I do think my head may explode like in Scanners. I don't think I can become much more of a misanthrope without representing an immediate threat to myself or others.

In other news, if nothing extraordinary happens in the next hour and half, tomorrow will mark twenty years since I've used drugs, including alcohol. I'm going to have to start telling people I got clean at eight to be sure. If I have time and enough functioning brain cells I may post something a little more about this tomorrow. For now, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Just for today

So I didn't smoke a cigarette today.

That's all I really wanted to say--that for the first time in oh, maybe 18 years, I went a whole day without smoking.

That and I really feel like chewing my arm off.

I'm thinking if I did it today, I can probably do it tomorrow.


This is really funny.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I love my city

The front page of today's LA Times:

If you've gotta have a birth defect...

I think I'm with this kid--twelve fingers might not be so bad. Frankly anything that could help me type faster at this point would be welcome.


Bill Bennett Wednesday on Morning in America:
But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.
You know, my first reaction is just "wow." And I was going to leave it simply at that. But then I thought, in fairness to Bennett, I should explain that he claims he was merely giving an example of a bad argument for abortion and being quoted out of context, as I have above, makes it seem as though he supports such a "morally reprehensible" idea.

And so, in the interests of balanced reporting, I'd like to just make it clear that Bill Bennett is not a racist. From his own lips on yesterday's Hannity and Colmes:
I'll not take instruction from Teddy Kennedy. A young woman likely drowned because of his negligence. I'll take no moral instruction with him. That's much worse than legal gambling what Teddy Kennedy did....

When I was drug czar, you bet, we were working on the issue of black crime, Alan and Sean, because there was a lot of crime in the black community.... We got the bad guys. And drug use went down. And we raised the price and lowered the purity of cocaine.... [W]hen we went into the inner city black community, the people said to me, Mr. Czar, or Czar, or Mr. Bennett, you get those people off the street and protect us. And we did our best to do it.

. . .

my wife's program, best friends, has kept more young women from having abortions...than the entire black caucus. She has done more for inner city black girls than the entire black caucus. So I will not bow my head to any of these people. I will not give up the ground of compassion and sympathy.

. . .

All day I've been reading reports and statements by people about me, Sean, and it's interesting, some use the whole quote and are fair, some don't. And that tells you something. But the problem, I think, on the liberal side, the democratic side is they attitudinize
Far be it for me to attitudinize, Bill. For a minute there I thought you might be racist but that was before I read that your wife has done more for urban black girls than the whole black caucus. I stand corrected.

(Our younger readers may not recognize Bennett as Reagan's Ed Secretary and Bush Sr.'s Director of Drug Control Policy--aka Drug Czar.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A new friend

So I had a new commenter opine about my tone below, and so I took a look at his page (which has an ad from Fox News Gear btw), and what do I see, but this. Gosh that sort of thing so totally makes my day. I can't tell you.

Still burning

The view from my balcony

More roosting chickens

It seems like harvest time for the crop of greed and barbarism the Repubs have been sowing. Frist, DeLay, the fabulous showing the administration gave during Katrina and now today's ruling that more Abu Ghraib photos and videos must be released (link via AMERICAblog):
[R]eporter Seymour Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: "Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men.... The women were passing messages saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.'

"Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out."
They ought to be in terror. Do I dare to hope that this repulsive administration is finally being brought down and that my country will finally wake up to the atrocities being conducted in the name of liberty?