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.