Monday, August 28, 2006
I managed to avoid watching the Emmys for an hour and a half last night. I went out to audition for a community theatre one-act (cross your fingers; callbacks are tomorrow) and then I stopped off at Barnes and Noble on the way home and busted out the laptop - to get the early emmy results. But I got home and from there on in, my weakness for awards shows sucked me in.
Anyway, a shout out to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who presented the award for best reality show. The presenter banter is usually excruciating and banter mocking that banter is usually even worse, but somehow these guys made it work. Colbert opened by cheerfully calling the crowd sodomites, reminding us that he is just speaking "truth to power." And Stewart egged him on, but then the real chemistry trick happened - Stewart read his "tribute to reality show" cue cards as if he was on the deck of the Titanic and sinking fast. Even as straight man, Jon Stewart managed to be as funny as the first banana. It was quite the balancing act, difficult to pull off, but quite successful I felt.
Of course they couldn't beat the best line of the night - the acceptance speech from THE AMAZING RACE, in which the producer said "I can't believe we've made it here three years in a row!" I know he wasn't trying to be funny, but suddenly the absurdity of an emmy for reality shows was crystallized into diamond hardness. And such a big bunch of people rushed the stage for that award... I wondered if the guy who reached the mic first got to make the speech? And if before the show they had to tie their bowties with catcher's mitts or something? Delirious.
at 10:56 AM
Friday, August 25, 2006
If you were knocking around in the seventies, you remember Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Bizarro-world cult leader, known for brainwashing youths and taking all their money; producer of the worst-war-movie-ever INCHON; the reverend who presided over creepy group weddings of a hundred thousand couples at the same time, after which he took all their money. The Reverend dropped from the scene and after that his twisted influence faded from the American Scene.
Oh, I'm mistaken. This blog by John Gorenfeld is solely devoted to tracking the movements, the orbit of you will, of the Reverend Moon in Washington. And he's all over too! He owns the uber-conservative WASHINGTON TIMES (and therefore Tony Blankley); he held a ceremony at the Senate Office Building in which he had himself declared the Messiah (and lots of Senators were there... read who they were and vote 'em out) and he's pumping his money into the Republican party like there ain't no tomorrow. And presumably as the messiah, whether there is a tomorrow or not is his call.
Reverend Moon is the dark matter of American Politics, something you don't see but whose influence explains many anomolies of the people you do see.
at 9:51 AM
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Associated Press, Dateline BOMBAY, India - The owner of a restaurant named after Adolf Hitler said Thursday he will change its name because it angered so many people.
Puneet Sablok said he would remove Hitler’s name and the Nazi swastika from billboards and the menu. He had said the restaurant’s name — “Hitler’s Cross” — and symbols were only meant to attract attention.
Sablok made the decision after meeting with members of Bombay’s small Jewish community.
“Once they told me how upset they were with the name, I decided to change it,” he said. “I don’t want to do business by hurting people.”
Sablok said he had not yet decided on a new name.
- Saddam's Waffles.
- Pol Soup-Pot.
- Lampshades - Just Lampshades.
- Lower Caste Swill Cafe.
If Sablok picks any one of these, he better cut me in for a piece.
at 11:37 AM
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
In this case the tragedy is the potential tragedy of the recent London terrorist arrests, and the comedy is SNAKES ON A PLANE opening at #1 in the box office. In fact, it is several slots above Oliver Stone's movie about the World Trade Center tragedy. So my question is, why aren't people avoiding SoaP, in light of the almost-tragic events of recent times?
I'll tell ya why; 'cause that's why I'm here. The majority of people don't believe it was a real threat. They've trotted enough of these "terrorist arrests" in front of us that we are starting to recognize them for the publicity stunts that they are. (BTW, if we're really in a "war on terror" why arrest? And if we're arresting, why is it a war? Can we get some consistancy please?)
SoaP is a beacon that heralds the demise of the Neocon fear machine. Aloha, Neocon Fear Machine! See you at the turn of the NEXT century! Now we can go back to fearing fear itself. And prefering liberty to death. Enough is enough! I'm tired of all these muthaf****n snakes on this muthaf****n political system!
at 9:38 AM
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
No, nothing I wrote has gotten into the L.A. Times. It's just that they agree with me.
I heard President Bush's press conference yesterday morning - in between off-the-cuff comments bullying the reporters, he emphasized several times that we couldn't leave Iraq until our mission was completed there. He wouldn't say how to win, but he insisted that the way not to win was to pull out before the job was finished.
So it was great to see an editorial this morning entitled "FINISH WHAT JOB?" This has been gnawing at the walls of my craw for a while, the fact that when anybody talks about success in Iraq, they never seem to concretize what the hell success might be. We are supposed to keep our troups in until, what, they've achieved zero crime, zero terrorism, are one-hundred percent democratic and they respect women's rights? Hell, WE'D be occupied under those terms! So why won't anybody publicly draw the line? They can't claim the enemy would be aided by knowing how we define its defeat. That's crazy talk.
I give the WH Press Corps credit for finally asking the tough questions, and I give Bush credit for not ordering their immediate execution. (I think Rove looked into it and decided it would be bad strategy.) But man oh man, why are we waiting until NOW to have this public dialogue? The New American Century that the neocons dreamed about appears to be the length of time we'll spend doing damage control for this administration.
at 10:28 AM
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Okay, so I've heard this one a lot lately - If anything, the 9/11 attacks were Clinton's fault.
It's a little abstract, but the argument could be sound. I'll use an example from my own life. I'm a homeowner and a few years back I discovered a wasp's nest hanging from the eaves outside our bedroom. I wasn't being attacked by wasps at the time. Had I simply ignored that next, eventually the wasps would have overtaken the entire side of the house or something. As painful as it was, I had to deal with that nest. And that, my friends, is why we are now in Iraq.
In other words, had Bill Clinton sent troops into Iraq in the 90's, then 9/11 would never have happened.
It's my wasp nest metaphor, though, so I'm gonna run with it. What I did when I found the nest was call in outside help. We got pest control people, with equipment and training, to remove the nest and the several others that had had formed around the house. Had I followed the Bush doctrine, I'd have:
- Bought a baseball bat at several times the normal cost, because my friend owns a bat company.
- Stripped down to swim trunks.
- Started hammering away at the wasp's nest, not because it represented the biggest threat but because a wasp from there had stung my dad.
And I'd still be out there right now, trying to kill individual wasps with an overpriced bat, unable to go after the other nests, which would be flourishing, filled with emboldened wasps. I suppose to broaden the metaphor, I might have invited some friends over for beers and wasp killing. They'd have helped me at first and gradually drifted off one by one saying, "fuck this, they're HIS wasps." Oh, and I'd have gone through several bats but still still no shirt or long pants.
I'd probably still have one guy who was with me, banging away at wasps with an overpriced cricket bat, but his wife and family would be screaming at him to come home or there'd be a divorce in the future for sure. Even I wouldn't understand what he was still doing there.
I could go on and on, but I need to pick up some baking soda and calamine lotion. Bring on the next Talking Point, Mehlman! I'm revved up!
This piece in REASON fleshes out the numbers (ouch, those metaphors don't mix well) of terrorism. It compares your likelihood of dying a number of different ways to a hypothetical that I love: Terrorists blow up a mall a week across the US next year - what are the chances you'll be in it when it happens?
To quote Frank Herbert, "fear is the mind-killer." And even that number is higher.
at 11:05 AM
Monday, August 14, 2006
I feel like elaborating on my thoughts about this guy, especially after an appearance by Ken Mehlman on the Sunday chat shows in which he professed a preference for Joe Lieberman over the Republican candidate for Senator.
First of all, the spin is that Lieberman going independent is bad for Democrats. That's stupid. We have nothing to lose. Worst case scenario is Lieberman wins, goes back to senate, votes with Republicans. WE ALREADY HAVE THAT. We wouldn't be losing a Democratic seat, we'd be losing a Republican seat with a D on it. Joe has been the Zell Miller of the senate.
On the other hand, Republicans want him in there. They can't put much support behind him because he's not running as a Republican. The real Republican candidate is much weaker, has some kind of scandal dogging him (sorry, can't recall the scandal or his name) and could very well lose because the state leans Democratic. Still, RNC campaign funds must go to him.
Or he could drop out, and they get a candidate who is a failed Democrat and who said mean things to Dick Cheney in the 2000 debates. And of course there's the whole Jewish thing, which was probably a factor in Lieberman choosing to be a Democrat in the first place.
Joe Leiberman is, most of all, a wild card. He's the element that nobody wants in any race. And while he could do some damage to Democrats by staying in, it seems to me he's much more dangerous to Republicans. If Ned Lamont is nimble enough, he can kung-fu this challenge into a tidal wave of Democratic victories in a number of states beyond his own. He's been handed some great material.
Not from me, from boingboing.net. Mssrs Frauenfelder and Doctrow are hopping mad at the way this is playing out, and are devoting the considerable resources of boing boing to pointing out how stupid and dangerous our current handling of the war on terror is. Thankfully, they are still including items about monkeys who ride horses, the Hello Kitty low-interest credit card, and the Blu-Ray drive which won't play copy-protected disks.
at 11:23 AM
Friday, August 11, 2006
You have nothing to worry about.
Terrorism is violence performed in a limited way, on a small area, to foster the implication that it could happen to you, so you better do as the terrorists say. And for god's sake you better protect yourself.
But you can't. Currently airports are screening all carry-on liquids in the same way that they screen random shoes, for explosives. A stupid terrorist will attempt to use these methods to blow up a plane, but a smart one will simply come up with a different way that we're not screening for. You can't stop that.
And you don't have to. The chances of you suffering from a terrorist attack are very, very small. You're more likely to be hit by a car, or suffer a freak brain embolism. Or have a safe fall on you. You can't live your life guarding against that kind of stuff; it's senseless. Even Isrealis I have spoken to say that they don't fear terrorist attack because it just doesn't happen where they live.
If we continue to treat terrorists as the driving policy force in this country, instead of the marginal crackpots they are, then yes, the terrorists have won.
PS: Speaking of logic, why are the Democrats considered the weak-on-terrorists party? When a Democrat ran the country, terrorists only achieved property damage against the WTC parking lot. If anything, Republicans are the ones endangering us, from the evidence. And don't bring up McVeigh; I think he leaned to the right. It implies that the Republicans ARE the terrorists.
at 11:13 AM
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Monday, August 07, 2006
Even those groovy new power strips can't help the NSA, which is threatening to exceed their electrical supply. The Baltimore Sun reports that the agency predicts blackouts within the next two years, which could cause data loss and downtime. If something isn't done immediately, their ability to conduct domestic wiretaps on the presidents political enemies could be compromised.
I'm skeptical about this story for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the several officials who went on record for the story are STILL WORKING FOR THE NSA. Add to this the way they point out that the problem was forseen 10 years ago, but the administration at the time did nothing about it. Hmmm, which administration was running things 10 years ago... but what the hell, it makes good copy.
According to the Sun the agency is already hamstrung, unable to install expensive supercomputers for fear they would take down the overtaxed NSA grid. Isn't that just admitting bad spending habits?
Well, presumably the terrorists now know that the time to talk to each other is during a heat wave on the east coast. OMG, that's right now! Get 'em! Then lock up the Baltimore Sun, which is traitorously publishing stories which abet the enemy. Oh, and then give medals to everyone to went on record for it.
at 1:16 PM
Friday, August 04, 2006
Annoyed by how much of your email is from the relative of a highly-placed Nigerian who needs you to keep his multi-million dollar nest-egg in your bank account? An article in Wired online describes people who have made it their duty to scam these people back. Some have managed to manipulate con-folk into carving a wood replica of the Commodore Amiga Keyboard, or tatooing disparaging messages on their bodies, or sending $80 seed money in a counter-scam.
I think this goes too far. I have gone this route once or twice, responding to messages as if I were interested and then revealing that I was onto them. But beyond that, it's just cruelty. Nigerians, by and large, are a desperate people. For years they appealed to our charity for help. If now they're appealing to our greed instead, that's still no reason to wreck their already wretched lives. Just walk away. Or point them to a bootleg download of THE SPANISH PRISONER so they can see how badly they're doing it.
at 3:18 PM
Thursday, August 03, 2006
So I was driving back from a lunchtime therapy session (yes I'm back in therapy. Anyone surprised? Hands?) and it occurred to me that my father was a strange, complex individual.
Frank K. drank himself to death. It took a long time but culminated around Christmas in 1977, when his overtaxed liver was put into shock by a bite from a rum muffin. Had this not happened, he was already living on borrowed time - he had been diagnosed with lung cancer previously and was way past the date they had told him THAT would kill him. He was in his mid forties.
Frank often said appallingly racist things, mostly about African-Americans, but he listened almost exclusively to Blues and Gospel music.
He was an ex-sailor with more than a few tough-guy tattoos, and straight as hell, but he went into the hairdressing business. I suspect he was trying to get chicks.
He divorced my mom after a steady year-long screaming-match argument, but he once told me that my mom was the only woman he would ever love.
After his death I found a box in the closet which held his erotic short stories, with illustrations. The illustrations were terrible and the stories, typed on onion-skin paper, were not well-written. But having been brought up by strict angry catholics and leaving home at 15 to join the navy, it amazes me that he could write porn, or for that matter write at all.
Even as a kid I knew this guy was a terrible parent and my best chance for survival would be to move out of the house as soon as I could, but I miss him and I treasure his occasional appearance in one of my dreams. Sure he was flawed. Aren't we all! At least he wasn't boring.
at 5:11 PM