Thursday, March 31, 2005

National De-pressed Club

If you got here via blogland, then you probably know this, but it bears repeating. The National Press Club has scheduled the following:

Event Date: Apr. 8, 2005
Event Name: "Who is a Journalist?"
Event Type: NPC Professional Event

Part of this event is to discuss blogging and how that connects with, expands upon or outright tramples over the idea of the traditional journalist (I was going to say, "Right wing bloggers, set your Dan Rather memo typeface decoder rings on stun," but then we'd have to assume Rather was a journalist and not a reader.)

But the ridiculous part is this: The National Press Club, which sees its mission as providing "people who gather and disseminate news a center for the advancement of their professional standards and skills, the promotion of free expression, mutual support and social fellowship," which heads one of the "about" sections of its website "History-Ethics", is inviting Jeff Gannon to the panel.

Yep, the plant.

He is a journalist how?

Why aren't Rob Corddry or, heck, Hildy Johnson invited?

So help try to stop this ridiculousness and please go sign the petition at The Agonist. We will never have a real press if even the National Press Club doesn't know the difference between a stooge and a reporter.

And heck, if this works maybe we can get The New York Times to work on Judith Miller....

If It Made Cents I Wouldn't Feel Dolorous

Perhaps it's true we get the government that reflects our very own ugly selves. Or perhaps I'm not the only one whose eyes glaze like donuts (but aren't as tasty) when figuring out figures is involved. But here's the latest from the AP on the U.S. economy:

Americans' incomes, bolstered by strong gains in hiring, rose by 0.3 percent in February while consumer spending climbed at an even faster pace of 0.5 percent, the government reported Thursday.

Now, supposedly that's good news. But this Milo Minderbinder-esque situation seems to say, "I made 3 more cents on the dollar last month, so to celebrate I'm going to spend 5 more cents on the dollar! I'm so rich!"

I'm also pretty convinced that economists just make stuff up to make my eyes glaze in an effort to protect their turf from those of us with a shred of common sense. That lead of the story talks about "strong gains in hiring," but then in paragraph 5, we get this line:

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose by 20,000 to 350,000 last week. It was the highest level for jobless claims in 11 weeks.

So we have both strong gains in hiring and the highest level for jobless claims in weeks. Seems the analyst for this article was "Ox" E. Moron.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

To Entire Delight

I don't feel funny and it's almost baseball season, so here's one from the vaults (pre-Camden Yards days, even)....

I’m trying to remember the name of Hank’s nine-year-old son, a name that sounded older than Hank, but Hank was older than me, nearly doubly so, yet scratching at poetry for something, and he had something to say. Hank knew what James Wright knew, that language clear as water still lets us see ourselves, lets us see through to a world of shimmer. Hank wrote plain.

It’s not really his writing I remember, though, or his touching tousles with his son, or the exotic Mexican food his girlfriend-then-wife Addie cooked up, or the way he could pull off wearing a nerd band on his black frames and still hold his dignity, or the way we smuggled plastic milk gallons filled with beer into Memorial Stadium and drank it by the third inning before it went flat. It’s that plum dusk light that descends on Baltimore houses, the white-siding ones you can glimpse out over the fence from the upper deck, where we always sat, knowing Three Buck Night was a good thing, and that poetry was everywhere and random, like foul balls arcing into the stands.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Seven Men In

It's parlor game time at INOTBB. I've been playing STATS Fantasy baseball for the past three years, and I've made it to the World Series in my league all 3 years, so I'm not sure why I'm asking for advice (I mean, people told me not to freeze Johan Santana going into last season), but here goes....

Each year we get to freeze 7 players from the previous season. I'm pretty sure I know who I'm keeping from the following list, but what would you do? I won't say anything until a later entry so as not to influence your easily susceptible minds (I'm putting my whacky internets whammy on're getting're writing a big check made out to're mailing it to INOTBB). Oh, some of these roster spots might seem odd, but near the end of the season I loaded up a bit on possible play-off bound players, as you can then get them at half price during the post-season.

C--Michael Barrett
1B--Brad Wilkerson, J.T. Snow
2B--D'Angelo Jimenez, Ray Durham
3B--Chone Figgins, David Wright
SS--Carlos Guillen, Edgar Renteria
LF--Barry Bonds
CF--Milton Bradley, Nick Swisher, Carlos Beltran
RF--Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera
SP--A.J. Burnett, Matt Clement, Bronson Arroyo, Johan Santana, Oliver Perez, Ted Lilly
MR--Brendan Donnelly, J.C. Romero, Jesse Crain, Akinori Otsuka, Shingo Takatsu, Yhency Brazoban
CL--Eric Gagne

Send Cans of Jolt to: Iraqi National Assembly...

The slippery business of becoming Oil Minister (AKA Bush-buddy For Life) is just one of the things making it clear that having an election is one thing, having a democracy another. Here's what The New York Times reports about the state of Iraq:

Iraqi political leaders said today that the delay in forming a new government would probably force them to postpone by half a year the writing of a permanent constitution and the next set of elections.


Prominent assembly members said it appeared the deadline for a first draft of the constitution would have to pushed back six months beyond the original deadline of Aug. 15.

C'mon, there's no Arabic phrase for "pull an all-nighter"?

The afternoon meeting of the assembly, which spiraled down into a shouting match, revealed how the bitter negotiations to form a government were poisoning the entire political process and fracturing the major political blocs, already divided along ethnic and sectarian lines.

Rumor has it that the Shiites are already exploring a "nuclear option," where, as the majority, they could simply ignore anything the Kurds or Sunnis had to say. One Shiite leader insisted, "We are doing our best to learn from America's democracy."

Monday, March 28, 2005

Tammany, Tweed, 1870 = White House, Tweedledum, 2005

The Washington Post reports that "Fortune 500 companies that invested millions of dollars in electing Republicans are emerging as the earliest beneficiaries of a government controlled by President Bush and the largest GOP House and Senate majority in a half century."

After all, as the party of Lincoln, the Republicans believe in a government by the people, for the people and of the people...who have the most money.

In addition to the bankruptcy bill and the recent Senate vote on ANWR, the report claims, "Bush and his congressional allies are looking to pass legal protections for drug companies, doctors, gun manufacturers and asbestos makers, as well as tax breaks for all companies and energy-related assistance sought by the oil and gas industry."

That's quite a list of do-gooders--too bad they somehow forgot passing legal protections for bankers who foreclose on grandparents and for villains with moustaches who tie damsels in distress to railroad tracks.

"With 232 House seats, Republicans have their largest majority since 1949. This is the first time since the Calvin Coolidge administration in 1929 that the GOP has simultaneously held 55 or more Senate seats and the presidency."

Ah, memories of the Calvin Coolidge administration. I'm sure it's purely coincidence that “the gap between haves and have-nots [in the U.S.] is greater at the start of the 21st century than at any time since 1929.”

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Nothing Less than Anymore (Getting Smaller in My Rear View Mirror)

I still make mixed tapes.

(pause for your snickering)

Why? Because I DJed during college when I still played vinyl and I distrust the new and I buy CDs and don't download and I like the mechanical click that means stop or pause and I like my stereo more than my computer and I've been doing it for years and somebody has to support the recording tape industry and I'm just silly that way.

I also like to make a birthday tape each year. So, none of that random MP3 list for me, here's what I actually put together because it goes together, because moving from mood to mood and sound to sound and lyric to lyric matters, somewhere....

Fountains of Wayne "All Kinds of Time"
Drive-By Truckers "Lookout Mountain"
The Reputation " Face It"
Buzzcocks " I Believe"
Futureheads "Carnival Kids"
Superchunk "Skip Steps 1 & 3"
Old 97's "Won't Be Home"
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds " There She Goes, My Beautiful World"
New Pornographers "Graceland"
Rilo Kiley "It's a Hit"
Dogs Die in Hot Cars "Glimpse at the Good Life"

Anne McCue "Stupid"
Kathleen Edwards "Six O'Clock News"
Matthew Sweet "We Lose Another Day"
Crooked Fingers "Wrecking Ball"
Modest Mouse "The Good Times Are Killing Me"
Lloyd Cole and the Commotions "Brand New Friend"
John Cale "Set Me Free"
The Handsome Family "Drunk by Noon"
Neko Case "I Wish I Was the Moon"
Bright Eyes "First Day of My Life"
The Decemberists "As I Rise"
Jon Langford "Hard Times"

The Old Salt Takes Another Slug

Yesterday was my birthday, but that's ok, as I've discovered the secret of seeming eternally young--just mix a bit of bad skin with a lot of immaturity.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Cesar Chavez led the farm workers and all I get is this darn holiday: Pretend it's Dog Blog Friday today. Posted by Hello

I Ate, You Rate

You've done it before, so now please do it again. It will leave a smile on your face and we can both have a smoke afterwards.

Vote for me in Edhat's Last Critic Left Eating contest. I can't do it without you (unless one of you knows some folks from Diebold...).

Thanks a ton, which is about how big I'll be if I win this thing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Oral Sucks: Or, Dental Dammit

When you think about it, as I’m forcing you to do right now, c’mon and open your mind wide, there’s no event that creates a misery index combo like going to the dentist. Let’s run the vivid, miserable list: Pain and Expense are the ugly leading duo, A DeLay-Schiavo of the mouth, as it were (this blog is not responsible for any effects caused to those pondering this analogy for too long).

But wait, there’s more—-as if the actual event weren’t enough, we get to deal with insurance, which, at least in my policy’s case, turns out to be slightly different for every tooth in my mouth. I think, as they explain it, it works so: if the tooth is OK, then it’s fully insured. Of course, there are all the little bonus problems, too—-the dry cleaning bill after you drool over your clothes when they ask you spit but they’ve numbed your mouth to a point body parts in nature only achieve at the end of a high school (and is high school natural?) literature class taught by to the nth-degree-old Miss Lily Liverspots, a woman who probably had an affair with William Wordsworth. And it should be noted here that Wordsworth had a beautiful set of teeth, which is probably why he kept re-writing a poem called the Prelude his whole life and never got to the real poem. If he had to have visited the dentist more, than he would have realized how precious life truly is.

But you and I, let’s smile here, because we know the dark ugly side of life that stares you in the face when you’re flat on your back in a room with a blinding light emitted from what looks like the head of a robot in a ‘50s sci-fi movie. If you can see past the light, there's always a poster on the wall of some castle in Switzerland that must be the first university to give the DDS, or something. Or maybe you don’t want to smile, if, like me, you have more silver in your mouth than the Lone Ranger had between his legs (heigh ho humor, and away!).

I try to be good to my teeth, I ddooo (sorry, but the chocolate on my fingers makes typing hardd), even floss, at least during leap years. But even that’s an odd experience; my teeth, at least the most industrious, seem to resent the invasion—-“Hey, give me that plaque back, damn you, I’ve been working on that since Halloween of 1973!”—-and they bite at the floss. Really. How else to explain the way the floss gets ripped and shredded? When I’m done I’ve often got enough floss splinters stuck in my teeth that when I open my mouth, well, my mouth is kind of forced open given all the floss hanging out, people confuse my face for Uncle Dorn’s ears. (I swear his eardrums have a five o’ clock shadow.)

Which brings me back to the dentist. I’m amazed, every visit they’ve got some new gadget to show off, which either means I should go more frequently or they are doing something with the thousands of dollars I spend, after insurance. It’s one thing to get x-rayed, although it does worry me that they put that lead chest protector on you as they dash out of the room, being sure to leave their lunches out so they get microwaved. What I want to know is, why does the dental hygienist always manage to drop a corner of the forty pound protector into your lap so that, well, guys, I can already hear you groaning in male solidarity. (Let’s not complain too loudly, though, or they might suggest a shot of Novocain to a place I don’t want to think about any hypodermic coming close to.)

But now they’ve gone one better than x-rays, they have an intraoral camera. Now, that sounds a lot more fun, especially for you internets savvy folks, than it really is. What it really means is they can take really up close picture of your teeth. The dentist (and don’t forget they liked to be called doctor, that helps justify the loans they’re paying back, to the same companies, no doubt, that write insurance policies) showed me these TV images, and I thought, “Wow, a ski resort with the snow melting!” Turns out it was my teeth, and every spot that wasn’t snow-covered was a money making opportunity for my dentist. He should be rich very soon.

Sorry I didn’t get to all the other horrors of the dentist, like having to keep one’s mouth open for so long, and not even getting paid for it. In fact, I have a modest proposal for making us all go to the dentist more often. Given he (or she, although it does really seem the sadist side of the job leaves it a male-dominated profession) gets to hurt you and then demand your money, it seems only fair we get to extract a bit of revenge after the visit. Say, maybe, one swift but mighty kick in the same spot a hefty chest protector recently hit you? Is that too much to ask? Well, the gas is wearing off, so I better move along now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Don't Blog Me There

So Terry Schiavo's tube remains out, and the horrible spectacle of something that should have been kept very personal and within one family grinds on. A couple of quick points before I go back to drowning in my very busy life of late:

1) Do you think if there wasn't that video clip of the poor woman with her face and eyes a-flutter that we all would have been spared? It's just one more reminder of how the video feed drives the news and how visuals mean so much more than anything that gets said over them. Instead, we all get to be doctors without degrees making diagnoses via television. Which gets to...

2) I like democracy as much as the next person, but I'd really prefer that my health care never has to come to a vote of my peers. Here's hoping that someday millions of CNN viewers aren't looking at x-rays of me and saying, "I don't know, his prostate looks ok to me--no surgery!" For after all, insta-polls are often...

3) Total hogwash, and that's an insult to cleaning hogs everywhere. Media Matters (as Talking Points Memo pointed out) showed how blew one of the basic lessons in graph making the other day (they have corrected the graph since then, but I doubt they contacted every user of the internets who saw the original graph and got the wrong impression). All numerical graphs must have a zero start point or they distort the amounts the graph represents. Don't believe me? Then go check the incorrect/original CNN graph and the proper graph.

Perhaps this was an innocent mistake (although back in the day when I taught engineering writing--don't laugh, it isn't an oxymoron--I pointed out how a graph like this one was faulty so freshmen wouldn't do it). Or perhaps the network those on the right like to call liberal wants to make Democrats appear non-mainstream.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Whoever Smelt the Cinnabon Dealt the Jesus

I, too, have grown tired of writing about holy images in the most unlikely of places (bricks, pans, the death-defying smile of Terry Schiavo), and frankly, the whole thing stinks.

Really, Jesus stinks. Or so claims Bob and Karen Tosterud, a South Dakota couple that make and market candles they say smell like Jesus. I know what you're thinking, "Hey, wait, my Bible didn't come in scratch 'n' sniff, where do these Tosteruds get off making Eau of He Who Walks on Eau?" Luckily they have an actual Bible reference that says what Jesus smells like, and even more fortunately it's not a reference to the period after 40 days in the desert (heck, a long weekend at Joshua Tree was enough to leave Gram Parson's stinking, not that he was the lord or anything).

It seems Psalm 45 is "a Messianic Psalm referring to when Christ returns and his garments will have the scent of myrrh, aloe and cassia," says Karen Tosterud.

Now the myrrh might make sense, for he did die young, and perhaps he still carried around a little square of his childhood blanket and some of that myrrh from the Three Wise Men just never washed out (you just try removing myrrh stains centuries before the invention of dry cleaning) (and don't get wise--water into wine is perhaps trivial as miracle fodder, but household chores don't even make the list).

Aloe is always handy for its healing properties and how it's good for the skin, which must be important when you're busy in the Middle Eastern desert being the messiah. Even in pre-televisual days, you can't go leading a people with bad skin, even if they will turn on you in the end.

But it's the cassia that's most interesting. Not only is it sometimes called "bastard cinammon," and we know how Jesus came for everyone, especially the most rejected, but it is used to treat nausea and flatulence. Rumor has it from some of the apocrypha that despite how he's portrayed as the betrayer and all, Judas was the class clown of the apostles, always playing the "pull my finger" joke. It's even possible that cassia kept him from making enough gas-aya, as it were, and he never forgave Jesus for ruining his fun, the little stinker.

Meanwhile back in South Dakota, you have to take what the Tosteruds says with a whiff of suspicion when the article claims, "The candles never stay on the shelves for long. The Tosteruds say each one that goes out is like a ministry in itself. The candles sell for about $18." How many The Trinity, No. 2 have they sold? 10,000, praise the lord.


Grisly death at sausage factory

A 40-year-old man working at a sausage factory in Oslo fell into a meat grinding machine early Monday. Police say he was killed instantly.

I hope that's not a faulty translation in the headline and that it should be "gristly."

(Should I have said lunch spoiler alert?)

Wife-Friend in a Coma

Yet another reason why TBogg is the master and we should all bow down unto him:

Our differences with the right come down to this: We see Terri Schiavo as a person who no longer has any higher brain functions, emotional responses, and who lies in bed each day unable to communicate with her fellow humans or perform any physical tasks. She is a sad case without a future or possibilities.

Republicans look at her and say, "Hey. That's our base!"

Friday, March 18, 2005

Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been?

Probably trying to emulate Congress, which fiddles with baseball and steroids while Social Security, a burgeoning budget deficit and Iraq burn, the El Segundo city council has decided its local library has to come up with new names for some of its rooms. Here's the story from The Daily Breeze (and don't shoot them for being the messenger):

Agatha Christie and Jack London books are easily found on the shelves of the El Segundo Public Library, but the City Council has deemed the two celebrated authors too un-American -- literally and figuratively -- to attach their names to new meeting rooms at the library.

Council members Tuesday rejected the recommendations by library staff members and supporters, sending them back to the drawing board to widen the list of authors.

Councilman John Gaines made the first objection, asking why Christie, a British citizen, and London, a onetime socialist, were selected.

"I've read a lot of (Christie's) books," he said. "I'm a murder-mystery man, but can't we pick an American?"

Mayor Kelly McDowell echoed Gaines' sentiments, asking staffers to select less politically charged authors.

"I don't want to make a political statement by naming a room, period," he said. "I don't want to use one whose politics, in my view, weren't in line with American ideals."

But don't they know the English are part of our coalition? I mean, if they decided to call it the Jean Paul Sartre Room, that would be one thing (and lead to too many No Exit jokes), but Agatha Christie? Is it because Vanessa Redgrave played her in Agatha back in 1979, and that just politicizes things too much?

In a related story, lumber giants Pacific Lumber Company and Georgia-Pacific have filed a rare joint suit declaring that Sonoma's 800-acre Jack London State Historical Park must be condemned due to its socialist associations. "London put the RED in old-growth redwoods," claims a joint statement. "The least we can do to protect America is cut all these trees down." The two companies hope to settle the case and rev up those chainsaws by August 2005.

Anderson Valley Askance Angled Angel

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie sez, "I'm just here for the view." Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Full Court De-Press

It's bad enough the real press does such a terrible job, but as you must have read by now, the Bush White House also feels it's a-ok to feed us propaganda (that's the non-partisan Government Accountability Office's term, btw, not mine). Let's try to make them stop by signing this petition as a start.

Which Senator Ordered This Baked Alaska?

Hey, Senate, these guys send their thanks!

It gets even better when you get to info like this in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article: "Still another question is how eager oil companies will be to try their luck in ANWR. BP, ConocoPhillips and ChevronTexaco have withdrawn from Arctic Power, the business coalition formed to lobby for drilling in ANWR. Among big oil companies, only ExxonMobil Corp. remains."

And Exxon and Alaska go together like drinking and driving.

Helping lead the charge to drill in Alaska--it's just man-on-man drilling that troubles him--is that senator on the wrong side of every argument, Rick Santorum. He said, "There are currently over 200 Pennsylvania vendors doing business in Alaska’s oil fields that would benefit from this exploration. I am obligated as a senator to balance preserving a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations with protecting the economic and national security interests of Pennsylvania’s and America’s citizens."

Rick, how about we return to the historical roots of oil drilling in America, which just happened to be in your state in Titusville. Since you seem to think more of economic and national security interests than environmental ones (as if they aren't incredibly intertwined), we can even work in Pennsylvania's famed Nittany Lions--let's drill for oil in Joe Paterno's hair.

March Munching Madness!

So I hope you all have "George" in your office pool, because I'm on to the Final Four!

Of Edhat's lunch reviewer contest. That does mean I will begging all of you to vote for me a lot, as I still have to beat out 3 other contestants. But you've shown me so much Edhat electoral love, I'm feeling mighty confident, and a bit full, but that will pass.

Excuse me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

That's Really Super, Super Joe

Forget about steroids, what are they smoking at

It seems that after three years proving that he can play every position, none of them well, least of all batter, Super Joe McEwing might be cut/traded from the Mets. For the past three years, here are his best batting average (.254), on base percentage (.309) and slugging percentage (.312). I have to admit I've always loved his nickname, for not enough nomenclature harkens back to the days of Robin Hood and classic monikers like Little John. And there's something to be said about a guy who pinch hits and thereby gives you a chance to go get a snack from the kitchen (if only his at bats were longer).

But when writes this--"It may be a sign of improvement that the Mets have such depth"--I either have to assume the writer got a case of the nices or the writer doesn't watch much baseball. While it's terribly sad that McEwing has become friends with David Wright, the most exciting young Met since Doc Gooden (oh, Doc, you're a pitcher, you shouldn't be swinging at your ex-wife), and a guy I "own" in fantasy baseball (but that's a different basket of balls, as it were), playing friend to somebody better than you isn't enough.

Here's Baseball Prospectus, the one and only book every baseball fan needs to read every season (several times each year), on McEwing: "He's willing to play a lot of positions. He's popular. He has nothing to do with reality television. It's not much, but it keeps him employed. McEwing doesn't do enough with the bat, glove or legs to help a team win, and is an extreme example of the preference for familiar mediocrity within the baseball industry."

I guess that last complaint is true for the way they hire writers at, too.

Darwin Sailed the Beagle, Didn't Ride the Greyhound

What's the matter with Kansas? As starters, they have an actual state law that declares a greyhound is not a dog. (Sorry, no direct link, but to get to the video story, scroll down the page and look under the heading "Irresistible Headlines.") If greyhounds were dogs, then it would be cruel to race them, and people who own dogtracks might not make money.

Then again, Kansas hasn't evolved, so maybe that explains things.

You Say Homicide, I Say Murder...Let's Call the Whole Thing Bungled

Liberty is rolling over the Middle East. Wait, make that rolling along in--that's it, along in.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall when Karen Hughes crafts that press release that explains how we are helping Iraqis and Afghanis as we kill them in custody. (Hughes to her interpreter: "How do you say 'you always hurt the one you love' in Arabic?")

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Most You Can Do Is Get Carried Away

I have seen the Futureheads of rock and roll, and it is the past! But just the past we need right now, for those who buy CDs are damned to replay them. We got to see the Futureheads down in Los Angeles this weekend (yes, to the land immortalized by Blade Runner for The Goat and a rock show in the same weekend) (no, we don't mind adding mileage to our cars) and they made us incredibly happy. Looking through the internets it hit me many critics miss the point of the band, for as some would have it, the Futureheads live up to one of their songs and have a range from A to B.

But that's the point. Sure, they might be a bit too much like circa '78 XTC, but nobody really listened to XTC then (we're talking "Are You Receiving Me?," "Statue of Liberty" days, back when Barry Andrews' keyboards shaped their sound as much as Terry Chambers frantic pounding and Messers Moulding's and Partridge's witty words and tunesmithing). And they might actually be more like XTC's original name, Helium Kids, cause those vocals, well, to see them swoop and bop and ping-pong in and out, handing off words and lines and oohs and aahs like the nimblest 4x100 relayers--it's thrilling, there's no other word for it. What's wrong with high energy as a sustaining concept? That's at least one thing rock's meant to do. Doing it ALL THE TIME is sort of a conceptual stroke. So we all get caught up in the now of now. Life ends at the hop, as it were.

If you can't see them live, you can check out their very fun video for their more than very fun cover of Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love." It's Bush meets XTC meets Neil Jordan's version of Angela Carter's Company of Wolves meets Blair Witch Project meets a wild day at the pound. You'll want to sing background along. And you can dance to it.

Monday, March 14, 2005

You Two-Faced, No Good...Kitten!

If only one of the faces looked like Jesus', think of what this cat would go for on E-Bay!

Goat Got Your Tongue?

They fought with their words, their bodies and their deeds
doin' the things that they want to
When they finished fighting, they exited the stage
doin' the things that they want to
I was firmly struck by the way they had behaved
doin' the things that they want to

--Lou Reed

We saw Edward Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? this weekend, and it put me in mind of Lou Reed's take on Sam Sheppard, and the old joke, "Sure it's searing, but so's a microwave," and how nothing beats the shear lump-throating voyuerism of watching a couple go at it with everything at stake, whether in Macbeth or Albee's own Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage.

If you get a chance to see the play, do. So many questions it wrestles with, or it leaves you to wrestle with--what's so uncomfortable about it isn't a man in love with a goat but the blurt-like laughter the audience has to let out at the bitterest of invective (for just one instance, the line "Goat Fuckers Anonymous" seems hilarious in context), our only release as we wonder what love is and what its limits are, how much we are animals, how fragile a bullwark art is for anything, how much we want to tell stories we believe in, how much we can do if we think we can get away with it, how much we think we can get away with, period.

Without too much of a spoiler, the ending is about as devastating as theater can be, a tableau of Biblical, sacrificial, Greek tragic and Freudianly Oedipal power. And when there's power, there's always loss.

Arnold's Hard Reign Falls on the Poor

So Arnold Schwarzenegger might not be the perfect Republican, given he's pro-choice (which certainly makes him a, er, lover of women) and he doesn't out-and-out hate gays, although he doesn't think they should marry and sees no problem using "girlie men" as a slur.

But where he's most like the Republicans is in his hatred of the poor. Why raise taxes on the rich in California when you can do the following, according to a sad, sad report in today's Santa Barbara News-Press?

Governor wants to pare worker pay from $8 to $6.75.

County welfare officials warn that proposed cuts to the state's social services network could leave hundreds of disabled and elderly residents without care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2005-06 budget proposal would cut wages for 2,000 caregivers who assist low-income clients in their own homes -- a move officials say will create a gap in coverage because many of the workers would quit.

But lowering wages isn't enough for the Terminator. After all, it's so easy to get by on $14K a year in Santa Barbara where the median house price is over a million dollars. And certainly there's no reason that government should give good jobs to people who assist the poor and elderly, who, if they had any decency, would just die and save us all so much trouble. Nope, lowering salaries to the point where a single parent of two would be below the federal poverty guidelines just isn't punishing enough...

In addition to reducing the caregivers' hourly wage from $8 to $6.75, Mr. Schwarzenegger's budget would eliminate health care benefits for about 300 workers who receive coverage through the county. The cuts could trim up to several million dollars from the estimated $10 million annual cost of the county program.

California has an $8 billion deficit. Schwarzenegger, brave politican that he is, is paying down that debt, one working poor person at a time.

This is why it gets hard not to seethe. Of course the powers that be -- that is, the Republicans and their fans and friends -- then accuse the Left of being unreasonable and hateful. Isn't it nice that you can do all of the following:

1) Drop wages for people who don't even make $10 an hour in the first place;
2) Eliminate their health benefits;
3) Do these things to workers who bring aid to people who otherwise have no help -- our sickest, our poorest, our elderly;
4) Which means many of these unfortunates will no longer get the aid they need...

And then you can call other folks mean-spirited if they've pointed out what you've done.

Some citizen in Alabama said the other day on NPR when interviewed when the Bush Sic Soc Sec Tour blew through his town: "I think it says a bad thing about our country. I like knowing paying into Social Security means I'm helping take care of our country's elderly. President Bush's plan means I should only worry about my future."

Exactly. I guess Bush truly is a compassionate conservative -- he conserves all his compassion for himself.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Cat as Cat Can

Things that must have been over-heard at the scene of this crime (but the jokes only work if you read the story first, ok?):

Man Hospitalized After Being Shot By His Cat

Mom: "Joey, I told you to make your dinner first, then play with your pistol."

Joseph (in a noticeably higher-pitched voice than usual): "Lower torso my ass...ooowwwww!"

Cat: "Next time when I ask for Whiskas, it better damn well be Whiskas!"

What's the Big Megillah?

You might imagine some scientists don't get out much. You know the cliche--nerdy, pocket-protector- and glasses-wearing guys unable to talk to humans. But technologically savvy, of course. So you add those traits up and you might get to this: scientists look at internets porn.

But scientists are even weirder and whackier than that. A recent study shows that scientists look at monkeys looking at porn. What's more if you read the story you learn that rhesus monkeys are ass men.

This is science.

Of course, being an inquisitive sort (no, not a scientist, and I don't even play one in front of my computer when alone), some questions come to my mind. For instance, why is the article illustrated with a monkey who has clearly watched the poses Jon Stewart makes when he feels he's been naughty? And is there a monkey equivalent of Paris Hilton? If so, could the smartest monkeys hack into her cell phone?

And if we found those smart monkeys studying whether lemurs liked to look at each others butts, and would even "give up the juice" (as that seems to be the scientific lingo) to do so, would we think them odd?

You Can Take the Torturer Out of Catholic School, But You Can't Take the Catholic School Out of the Torturer

On Morning Edition today, author Mark Danner (Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and The War on Terror) criticized the Church Report, claiming it fails to look at the policy decisions that led to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. He said we would never really know the truth for investigations always look down the chain of command instead of looking up the chain of command.

So I thought, well, of course, that's because the chain of command never wears patent leather shoes.

The Care and Feeding of Your Greyhounds

For Dog Blog Friday: We've found that just two rat terriers a week keeps them hale and happy. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I'm Hungry as Hell, and I Need to Review Some More

So what I need is for all of you to get up, and go to your (computer) window, and click on this link to Edhat's restaurant reviewer contest, and vote for George.

It's like another blog entry, but you even get some exercise.

Then, get someone else to vote for me, too--it's sort of like Amway without the annoying products.

Thank you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Christmas In Delaware

So the Bankruptcy Bill will pass with W.'s approval, and super large companies will once again be protected from poor individuals who prey on them. Liberty is on the march!

Here's a 'graph from Rolling Stone last spring that makes it clear how "democracy" works in the Age of Bush:

In 1999, Charles Cawley threw a cocktail party at his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, inviting 200 people to greet the town's most famous part-time resident, George W. Bush. The oceanfront soiree raised $200,000 for the candidate -- but Cawley wasn't acting purely out of neighborly good will. As the head of MBNA America Bank, the nation's biggest independent issuer of credit cards, Cawley wanted Bush to push for a new law making it harder for families hit by unemployment or huge medical bills to declare bankruptcy. Sure enough, not long after taking office, Bush backed the measure -- which would add $75 million a year to MBNA's bottom line. Last November, Cawley returned the favor by inviting Laura Bush to his Delaware home to greet 120 supporters -- raising $150,000 for her husband's re-election.

Somehow (maybe it's because I really do work at work, and not just live in blogland) I missed all the great Talking Points Memo posts about the Bankruptcy Bill fight. Go read the whole thing, but I leave you with this choice nugget, as Bush & Co. once again single out the most dangerous group in America today, single mothers:

The average American debtor is a 41 year old middle class woman with children and at least some college education.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

American Idle

Work, by it's very nature, can eat at what's left of one's soul. While it's certainly better to have a job, like many others I'm sure I can complain about being underpaid and poorly challenged--although I've learned my way around a faux tongue better than I could have ever imagined. You see, one of the key parts of publicity is mailing out those press releases I grind out, and I much prefer using the faux tongue to my own when sealing envelopes.

But the daily grind isn't what this entry is about. Nope, it's about the special tortures employers devise to make jobs truly execrable. One of them here is a thing called a Professional Development Day, but is mostly BS Waste O' Time Day. When inspirational speakers don't even make funny segments on Saturday Night Live it should be a hint, but we get one of those to kick off the day every year. Mostly he or she tries to commiserate with all the work we have to do for little return in Student Affairs, only to then say the way to make our jobs better is to give even more. Hmm...who hires these speakers?

But this year it's got even worse, if that's possible, for to spice things up they've turned to TV for inspiration. First, they're doing makeovers at a local spa for a couple of people. I guess it's a good thing we don't have a medical school or they might be able to go all-out Swan on us.

Second, the day will be gleefully capped with Student Affairs Idol. Yep, we get to watch fellow employees act like asses on stage for our enjoyment.

I can't begin to say how much this rankles me. I've never watched American Idol and have no interest ever to watch it, for even the winners sing in a way that makes me feel like the loser. Why belting out covers of songs that never should have been sung once is considered a talent I'll never quite figure out, as if the show could ever overcome giving Paula Abdul another shot at fame.

Now I am required, as part of my work, to see an inferior version of something I already consider worthless.

I am not even going to explore the dread hegemony of television, and how people can't have an ounce of creativity--think outside the box, as it were. This is, alas, someone's vision of a workers' paradise, where one day out of the year we get to be the people we watch the other 364 on TV.

Super Silly, Us?

IMDB--the prunes necessary to get your blog running again. Here are some of today's highlights:

**It's only good news to know that Justin Timberlake will be starring in an Elton John biopic. (Sure, it's not as exciting as Lance Bass in The Boz Scaggs Story, but this isn't a perfect world.) The sad part is that the Daily Star has said that Timberlake wants the film to include "sex and drug-taking." I mean, has it got so bad for Timberlake that he can only get laid and high if he's acting in a film? I'm also looking forward to the scene with George Michael when he sings "Don't Let Your Son Go Down on Me."

**Halloween Producer Dead at 54
Or is she??!!! (cue scary music)

**"Cablevision abruptly yanked the Madison Square Garden (MSG) channel and Fox Sports New York channels from Time Warner's cable systems in New York Monday, thereby blacking out Knicks games in parts of the country's largest market." Reports claim the only complaint came from Spike Lee's mom, as his courtside appearances were how she kept track of him and his fading career.

**"Shares in Martha's Company Plunge Again"
Ain't it a bitch when you can only make money while in jail.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Ari, Extra Dry

Reasons not to drink coffee while driving--you might spit all over your windshield listening to Morning Edition and hear Ari Fleischer open a segment with the line:

"Always let the truth be your guide--that is the single most important thing for the Press Secretary."

Fleischer, whose memoir Taking Heat was originally titled Talking Shit, later went on to say that he could say anything as long as someone else said it first. WMDs--well, President Bush said that. So Ari wasn't lying, he was just saying what someone else said.

Ari, I'm just repeating this, so you can't hold me responsible, but the only thing sadder then your sense of honesty is your sense of logic. I'd call you a mouthpiece if I wasn't thinking of a different part of the anatomy.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Head-first Sled into Home

As if anticipating bloggers throughout the internets posting pictures of their pups, this morning NPR ran a mukluk-warming story about Rachael Scdoris, a legally blind 20-year-old who will be a musher in this year's Iditarod, the grueling 1,100 mile trail sled dog race. You might think that's a disadvantage, but I have to assume it's a huge plus. After all, when a dog dies, you don't see it.

Meanwhile others gear up for what sounds like a much better time--the Urban Iditarod. Here teams of 4 people dressed as dogs pull a shopping cart sled as a musher runs behind over a 3-mile city course that requires frequent "watering" at bars along the way. Just two highlights from the FAQ that might stand for Funny Asked Questions:

Should I bring my real dogs?
That would be an extraordinarily bad idea.

Does the musher sit in the cart?
Think about this for a moment. You're sitting in a cart, going up and down hills with 4 dog-costumed maniacs running in front of you. If you want to ride in the cart, ride in the cart.

Any guesses where this madcap mayhem happens? San Francisco, of course.

Nigel Air

For Dog Blog Friday: If you were wearing your 3-D glasses, you would have just spilled your coffee and ducked under your desk. Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

You Just Have to Laugh at It All (Ha Ha Ha)

Devoid of wit (not to be confused with Joyce DeWitt, although it might be about the same thing) and hurting for time (not hurting from Time, which would mean Morris Day knocked me around a bit), I will simply point you in directions of supreme silliness.

First, there's the always fun Strong Bad, who this time out has an email that begins with the funniest jokes about Anonymous ever and ends with a rock opera.

Second, there's this clip a friend sent along from I know not where. And I'm glad I don't know where. I like to call it "The Lip Synching of the Titanic."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I Love a Dad in a Uniform

Oh Netscape, you caught me with that headline "Only 31% of Men Achieve This By Age 30." What could it be, the ever curious and talking to myself self said? Could it be the ability to use the TV remote while asleep? Winning a fantasy baseball league? Voting for a U.S. presidential candidate who wins the election? The ability to ask for directions when lost?

No, no, no and another no (and an apology for dragging out a hoary old joke, but at least I passed on one's involving premature ejaculation, the need to use Viagra, helping a woman get an orgasm, etc.). Here's what Netscape says: "The true measure of adulthood is not 18 or 21. The true measure of adulthood is reaching these benchmarks: leaving home, finishing school, getting married, having a child, and being financially independent."

So I guess that leaves me with Bone Machine era Tom Waits--I Don't Wanna Grow Up. I mean, Amy and I have chosen not to have children, for all the reasons you might imagine, personal and political, each overlapping and sometimes making excuses for each other. Is it a personal reason or political that we worry that the world is in the hands of those who believe the Rapture is just around the corner, so they fail to worry about wars or the environment, for them and their kind are soon going home, er Home? I don't want to bring a kid into that world, nor do I want to watch my kid deal with that world. It's so nice when the selfish and the caring make a Venn diagram.

It's also heartening that adulthood simply means having kids. Didn't having kids once mean a woman said to a man, "Honey, I told you Saran Wrap wouldn't work?" Doesn't Michael Jackson have kids? (As many as he can get his hands on....)

Notice, too, some of the advice from one of the researchers of this study, "So what can we do to help kids become adults sooner? Furstenberg and his team recommend expansion of military and alternative national service programs."

I'm certain the military would help make more of us adults. Lynndie England and Charles Graner are parents, you know.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

White House: "Who Left This Petard in My Hoisting Spot?"

In 2003 U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham's office shipped out a press release that included the following quotes:

“I have known Henry Floyd for well over twenty years and have had the privilege to appear before him as a practicing attorney,” said Graham. “I am extremely confident in his abilities for this most important job. He will be a conservative judge who understands that his role is to interpret the law and not make the law. President Bush could not have selected a more qualified candidate or a better person.”

There's no report as to Graham's thoughts now after this news:

A federal judge ordered the Bush administration Monday to either charge terrorism suspect Jose Padilla with a crime or release him after more than 2½ years in custody.

In a sound rebuke to the Bush administration, U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd in Spartanburg, S.C., said the government cannot hold Padilla indefinitely as an “enemy combatant,” a designation President Bush gave him in 2002.

“The court finds that the president has no power, neither express nor implied, neither constitutional nor statutory, to hold petitioner as an enemy combatant,” Floyd wrote in a 23-page opinion that was a stern rebuke to the government. He gave the administration 45 days to take action.

Even better is this line, which gets cut by many web news outlets, including the one on Fox--big surprise:

Floyd, who was nominated to the court by Bush in May 2003, said that to agree with the president would "be to engage in judicial activism."

Couldn't have that now, could we?
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