Thursday, June 30, 2005

Is there hope?

Last night I told K'wali that I didn't see much chance of Bush getting his ass handed to him in a much-deserved impeachment. The country was scandal-exhausted before the fake Clinton-era fuck-fest; do Americans have the stomach for another impeachment, warranted or no?

But there are hopeful signs:
  • Coingate could derail the Ohio Republican machine, and bring more attention to Conyer's report of 2004 election irregularities there
  • Jack Abramoff might not enjoy being left out to dry by Tom DeLay, and may decide to take his major legislative patron along for the ride
  • Katherine Harris is pissed--can Rove and Co. afford to bite the hand that got them there? Will she talk if they continue not to play nice with her Fla. Senate aspirations?
  • The Plame Game: Whose name will be revealed as the leaker byTime magazine? Will there be repurcussions for the Admin?
  • Any or all of the above could lead to further Downing Street/9-11 incompetence hearings.

So impeachment may be unlikely, but with W.'s poll numbers in the toilet, a more contrary media revving up, and Americans starting to wake from their slumber and ask questions--even red-staters!--we might indeed see some of these crooks nailed at last.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Oh, Canada

We're off to Toronto for a Flip Cuzzin wedding this weekend. Cha and her folks are leaving tomorrow and driving--I'm working tomorrow night until 10pm, then catching a 6:30am flight on Friday (ugh).

I've been to Toronto several times but have never actually seen the city (at least as an adult--when I was 12 we spent a day doing touristy stuff with my family). The last few times have been for family events (Cha has relatives there) and we spent time at the events and drove home immediately after. Here's hoping we get at least an afternoon to ourselves this weekend to get out and tour around town, but it's not likely. Although we have a four day weekend, her father is demanding that we leave early Sunday. With the rehearsal dinner Friday and the wedding Saturday it looks like we'll be missing out again on Canada's major metropolis.

Bush's Speech Last Evening

"See! My head isn't jammed up my ass!"


Whatever happened to "cluck like a chicken"?

[link courtesy of Fleshbot]

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Conspicuously Absent

From the latest TV horror (the 100 Greatest Americans). I could add people all day:

Reading at random, as I often do, through works like Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy or Schreber's Memoirs, allows me to feel part of an enduring community of the restless, a continuously agitated specie of homo sapiens.

I'm never content. I've never been content. Were I to find contentment, I'd likely die from boredom. One thing I rarely am is bored--the restlessness prevents l'ennui.

Sunday Cha and I took a fake Dollar Store Frisbee clone onto the big lawn in front of Stephens Hall. About half the time I couldn't throw the damn thing properly, which got me thinking: when was the last time I threw a Frisbee? 15 years ago? 20? Then I realized I haven't played softball or a pickup game of hoops in at least 12 or 13 years. Instead of simply enjoying an hour throwing our flying disc toy around, I turned said disc into an emblem of lost time, a Proustian lemon cookie. Making things worse was the fact that I could barely run after the Frisbee because my shinsplints were hyperactive after a four-mile run earlier. Not only was I reeling at the thought of decades of Frisbee-lacking, but I felt like a crippled old man. I'm unable to simply have fun, catch and throw, look at the skyline and the sun in the trees.

That's the problem. Or not--I'm not sure it's a problem; it's my nature. I've read enough Buddhism to know that Monkey Mind is regarded as a problem, but should I control it or let it run free?

While running Saturday I found a while and blue parakeet on the sidewalk. Obviously he was out of his element and ailing, so I tried to catch him. I'd click and whistle and crouch down, he'd hop over and sing at me, obviously domesticated--but as soon as I tried to grab him or catch him with my cap he'd fly ten feet and look at me. I chased him down a hill and into a cement culvert with running water. The bird was ecstatic to find water, and drank and drank and splashed vigourously for a few moments as I approached, but again, while he wasn't spooked by me, he wasn't interested in being captured either. His tail feathers were half gone; whether this was due to stress or some predator I wasn't sure, but I thought I should try to get the poor guy and take him home.

No luck. He got tired of playing with me and flew into a tall tree where promptly he was attacked by several birds who chased him up the road.

We already have a pet dove that hates us.


With the passing of James Ivory, I've decided to check out Merchant Ivory productions beyond the BIG THREE (Room with a View, Howard's End, Remains of the Day).

Maurice kicks ass. Hugh Grant, before he became that stuttering blinking commodity known as "Hugh Grant," was actually a gifted actor. Maurice features many such specimens aside from Hugh, whose performance is wonderful. Yes, there is some hot gay kissing and fondling--if you find that troubling then I pity your insecurity, because by not seeing Maurice you're missing out on a challenging love story which avoids the typical gay stereotypes that make gay films palatable to Hollywood audiences. The idea of having to hide one's true nature or go to jail--the idea of not allowing oneself to love because of societal expectations, or of risking public humiliation by secretly loving--Maurice sympathetically presents the argument for gay civil rights better than a whole season's worth of In the Life editorials with Harvey Fierstein rasping away could. Excellent.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Herr Roverer

Karl Rove knows exactly what he's doing. He's deflecting attention from Bush and Iraq and making himself the issue. Will it work? All signs point to yes.

These disputes over language take all the editorial steam on cable TV; I think the consumers of media are getting fed up with it all.


Strange, intricate dreams of late. Can only recall fragments from the last several nights:

  • Leaving a bar on a Sunday evening, I notice an African American drag queen signalling to another African American. They're obviously going to mug me if I go left (north) up the street where it's darkest, so I decide to go right. The drag queen makes an exaggerated gesture of exasperation [see Jung re: The Hermaphrodite] when I go the other way. Other bar patrons I tell think I'm being paranoid. I never go to bars on Sunday evenings. In fact, I go perhaps once a month to a bar these days, so this dream is extra-screwy.
  • I leave a liquor store with a case of wine. The bottles are not all the same, I've merely bought twelve and am carrying them in a box. At home as I'm putting them in the rack I notice a cheap bottle of raspberry wine with a homemade crayon label. I think: WTF? In the dream I can recall holding the bottle and reading the list of ingredients on the label.
  • My wife has an affair with an 18-year-old man and tells me about it. I'm not really pissed off but I am hurt, particularly when she enthuses about his ability to fuck again and again and again. I say "Well, he's 18, after all," and wake up to find my wife crying in her sleep. When she wakes she tells me she had a bad dream.
  • I'm in France and I'm somehow in "society." I run into a gay friend from high school--he's wearing a jacket and tie of the sort one sees "society" kids in the US wear at exclusive private schools. He's cultivating me by introducing me to old money in Paris and I am disgusted to find myself trying very hard to play the part I think I must play to succeed here. The entire dream is in French, and my French in the dream is much better than in real life, but the French in my dream is real French that I know, I just can't spew it as quickly in real life.

My first Auchincloss

I received this in '96 in a veritable crate of books kindly sent by The Poet; I believe he was hoping to simplify his life by divesting himself of a couple skids' worth of devoured titles--amongst others in the crate was Henry Adams' Education and Wells' The Research Magnificent. If the size of one's library serves as an indication, The Poet leads an extremely complicated existence at this time. When last I visited his library was immense, and he'd more than made up for any previous divestment. He'd previously sent along another Auchincloss called The Rector of Justin with a hearty recommendation (which I've yet to read). Being the stubborn sort I am I didn't get around to The Book Class until yesterday--what a treat!

Auchincloss picks up where Edith Wharton left off. He can, of course, be much less discreet than she was by necessity, and we get an insider's view of "society" New Yorkers conspiring behind the scenes that's as witty (and perhaps more elegantly written?) as anything penned by Gore Vidal. The narrator is an aging homosexual interior decorator whose comment that women had a lot of power before feminism raises business-threatening controversy. Hence, this book, which traces the backroom dealings of the members of his mother's book club as he argues his thesis [and proves his point--but while his mother's friends wield enormous power the limits on their freedom are nevertheless obvious]. The characters are sometimes hateful but never dull, the dialogue is sharp (Dot Parker sharp) and this is a quick read full of suprisingly subtle intricacies. I loved it. Were I too pick something about which to nit-pick, I'd lambast the too-facile plotline that any sickly young man left home from school with his mother and his mother's friends must inevitably become gay, but The Book Class was written a quarter century ago.

The Poet has yet to lead me astray. I shall track down more Auchinclosses in future--here's another novel by an obvious James admirer who's managed to cast off The Master's fussiness but not his lessons.


Wow, I never knew that Murphy Brown was such a tramp!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Even better the 2nd Time

My favorite of James' novels are those composed at the beginning of his final phase, when the complexities of his heroes (and his heroines in particular) leapt several notches above even the multifaceted Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady.

Fleda Vetch misses her chance at happiness because she strives to be upright and moral. She demands freedom from the machinations of those tugging at her loyalties, those attempting to buy or manipulate her. These are admirable characteristics, and James punishes Fleda sorely for her high standards. Victory leaves her with ashes in her mouth--Fleda's morals doom her to an unremarkable life of poverty; her triumph is to maintain those high ideals at the cost of love.

The lesson? Be impetuous. Take risks. Avoid Henry's own sad fate.


The tiny details make this film for me; the close-up of a sugar cube held with one corner touching the surface of un cafe, the coffee rising into and transforming the crystals; the steady progress of shadows across the table of a Montmartre cafe as a busker plays flute across the street; a mouse carrying its naked pink young in its mouth. These are the weighty insignificances noticed only after tragedy or during heavy liesure, and Kielslowski recreates the way the world has slowed for his heroine after her enormous loss.

I could watch Juliette Binoche doing nothing and be contented. Here she swims against the lanes of a pool again and again; she's out of synch, but only for a time. The world rights itself--it moves on. We have to catch up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I often dream of getting the fuck out of Dodge--today I'm researching Philippine islands for sale. This one is particularly nice, but a bit pricey at $500k (I've seen others for as little as $70k). This one is only $120K--not bad for five acres, eh?

Sell everything except books and clothes and CDs, put the house up for rent, and live in a cabin on a tiny island? Snorkel the reefs every day, look at the stars every night, listen to the waves? So decadent.

So necessary.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Big C

Cha is more confident over her ambiguous pap results because everyone she's spoken to about them has either had a scare herself or knows others who've had scares; these scares have either been false positives or been easily treatable positive [negative?] results. I dunno about you but I'll gladly take a thick male finger in my ass once a year over what our wives have to put up with routinely.

Of course she mentioned her ambiguous pap to her friend Shan last night and Shan dropped a bomb on her, said bomb being a 4cm tumor on an ovary, and 12 weeks ago it was a 2cm tumor. Shan's doctors thought it would diminish if they put her on a certain birth control pill for six weeks. Instead, it grew. Then they decided to wait an additional 6 weeks. Now Shan's got a tumor twice the size it was and swollen lymph nodes in her neck, armpits, and abdomen, so she's getting a biopsy this week.

I don't understand the waiting game. Seems to me that if an MRI shows a 2cm tumor on an ovary, the doctors should be getting a piece of that sucker right away to check it out. Waiting makes absolutely no sense, given the propensity of malignant growths to drop seeds into the bloodstream and lymph system.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Julio called and we met him and Yo! Adrienne at Kyodai for dinner shortly after Cha arrived home from one of her umpteen gazillion projects (this one is designing with city school kids a large crab statue to be stationed somewhere in Baltimore for a year). We ate sushi, they for some reason gave us anniversary gifts, and then we went home to play Scrabble but instead ended up painting potent dyes onto large silk banners for Cha's Gay Pride/Green Party float. Julio, too cavalier with the brush, sloshed purple dye onto his gray slacks--we told him to remove them quickly so we could try to stop the stain, but he was apparently going "commando." I had to fetch him some of my own pants so he could change. Along the way we reminisced about many things, including Mee Yung, Julio's previous girlfriend, and how long it took Yo! Adrienne to get him out of her "clutches." I made Yo! Adrienne a mug of tea into which she promptly dipped her paintbrush; I made her another and she immediately did so again. The women sneered at Julio and I anytime our conversation trailed into the lofty abstract. They prefer talking about dicks and pussies.


A graduation shin-dig at the Travellin' Joneses for E. who finished his Master's at Loyola. It's always fun to re-visit the old stomping grounds and more particularly to see the old crew. I had difficulties getting there, however--Falls Road at Gunpowder was shut down by a horrific head-on collision, so I had to backtrack to Mount Carmel Road and then take Prettyboy Dam to Rayville to Middletown only to find that Beckleysville was closed for repair--but my third alternate route worked, and it was a beautiful enough day that I didn't mind driving John Denver roads for an hour or so.

The big revelation was that Sluggo had shaved his nads bald because the Mrs. suggested he might want to tidy up down there, and she'd only wanted him to trim things, not eliminate them. This caused a riotous conversation and much ribbing; I had to side with Sluggo and noted that I was working with a clean playing field as well. Spooge Whore said "I don't like it--he looks like a six-year-old boy!" That, of course, has less to do with the fur than the equipment...At any rate this sordid chatter drove away several couples who are newer to the gang and whose tolerance for the blue was sorely tested.

All the young chilluns are by turns charming, mischievous, moody and brilliant. Rumor has it that at last a girl shall join the brood in two months.


Daddy's Day and a trip up to Sis's for a cook-out. We played tackle football with the niece and nephew and the uncles for hours. I'm sore.

Weekend Netflix

Um, I don't heart Huckabees. I'm mystified that such a talented cast would deign to star in what amounts to a two-hour episode of Northern Exposure. I wish there were such a thing as brain floss to eradicate this from memory. Isabelle Huppert: qu'est-ce-que vous avez faites ici?

Now, that's more like it. Not as good as Red, but damn good nonetheless. Kieslowski is a master--no detail escapes his attention; even the French language tapes his hapless Polish protag listens to are thematically significant (he's studying le subjonctif).

A masterwork. One of the first "art" films I ever saw, and perhaps one of the first "foreign" films as well. As fresh and challenging as the first time I saw it more than a decade ago.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Such a Perfect Day

I've got an assload of weird cataloging to do today--obscure Sotheby's sale catalogues, Russian art books, Native American silversmithing tomes; normally I'd think this was fun but today none of it matters. Somehow I've researched 8 or 10 titles in a stupor. At some point Eskimo came over and chewed my ear for 45 mins. I was unresponsive enough that she left before the standard 90 minute jawing session.

Two weeks ago Cha had an "indeterminate" result on a test at the ob-gyn. Today she went back for further scraping and there are 'atypical' cells in her cervix. Right now things look ok--her doc says they won't know for sure until the new test results come back in two more weeks, but his instinct is that the area is confined and treatable; this battery of lab tests will help decide the course of treatment. So we wait.

She came home as I was leaving for work--I'd just hung up after talking on the phone to two insurance companies over our stupid fender bender Sunday, and she started crying and told me the news. She's scared, and right now that's completely understandable (I vividly recall my own run-in with the big C--there's nothing quite so awe-inspiring as hearing "We won't know for weeks whether you'll be alive next year or not"). All I can do is keep her mind off it as much as possible, which will be no small task given the fact I'm freaked out now too. Just keep thinking It's nothing, they'll cut/burn/freeze/laser/radiate it, and that'll be that. But the idea of her ill or undergoing treatment is unbearable.

"Why am I crying?" she asked me.

"Because nobody wants atypical cells. They stink. It's ok to be a bit bothered."

"The doctor said 'no sex for two days.'"

"No wonder you're so upset!"

All the house worries and the car accident--that's all bullshit. And I knew that all along, but here comes some perspective to reinforce the fact.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I'd read other Roths and loved them: Sabbath's Theater, I Married a Communist, American Pastoral. I'd planned to read his latest one next but instead fell into Portnoy's Complaint because I found it for $3 in a nice hardback at a used shop Saturday.

There's just something about Roth's voice that pulls me along; he's not merely funny, but mean, compassionate, and wired all at once. His spirited mish-mash of politics and fucking is full of the neurotic irrespressible juices of life. Open to any of Portnoy's rants at random:

I believe that I have already confessed to the piece of raw liver that I bought in a butcher shop and banged behind a billboard on the way to a bar mitzvah lesson. Well, I wish to make a clean breast of it, Your Holiness. That--she--it--
wasn't my first piece. My first piece I had in the privacy of my own home, rolled around my cock in the bathroom at three-thirty--and then had again on the end of a fork, at five-thirty, along with the other members of that poor innocent family of mine.

So. Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner.

These are rants worthy of Henry Miller, and yet Roth is a superior novelist, whereas Miller wasn't. Only Stephen Dixon and Gilbert Sorrentino make me laugh and think to the same degree. Marvelous.

Stress Test

OMG, I can't remember whether it's vosotros or ustedes, barf!

You Pervs

Over the last five days there have been at least 30 visitors to this site because of this google image search.

So long, 043

Weird--tomorrow is closing day for the Towson Borders. I started there in 1994, fresh out of grad school and newly married, thinking "I'll work here until I get a teaching gig." A month later I was promoted, then ten months later I was promoted again, and then in 1998 I became the store manager. This drove me as near to insanity as I ever hope to come (and I've done a variety of hallucinogens). After two years I hung it up and became an English professor but still worked six to ten hours a week at the store until last June when I finally quit.

Borders became a pain in the ass as it got bigger and bigger--all companies do. But I got to travel a lot (to great places like Singapore and Las Vegas and Phoenix, and not-so-great places like Ann Arbor), and most importantly I met some of the greatest people I know working there. Some of these fantastic folk are in the 'Damn Good 'Blogs' list. The rest? You know who you are.

It's bittersweet to see the store go because I like Towson and like having Borders here--and now we'll be left with only Bland and IgNoble--but I do most of my book shopping online and in used stores anyhow these days. The entire time I was GM I lobbied to have the store moved, and was rebuffed again and again. Now they're off to Timonium and hopefully smoother sailing with less physical plant woes and parking and lease difficulties. One thing's for sure: LP will be a SNAP at the new joint, as will deliveries and returns.

Godspeed to those who still suffer the book/music retail life: "Uh, I heard this author on NPR eight years ago. The book was about either history or politics and was by some guy with a scratchy voice. Where is it?"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I am disgusted with cable "news," but watch it because being disgusted with cable "news" gives me pleasure in the same way that painful play with a loose tooth was pleasurable as a child.

The Aruba Woman

It's a tragedy beyond imagining for the family and for her community and perhaps for the locals who don't want this kind of shit to happen in their neighborhood any more than we want it. But this is not national news! This does not rise to the level of importance that we need "experts" to tell us what is going on. Nobody knows what happened yet! Stop speculating! Every time I turn on the tube there's "breaking news" in this case--today the "breaking news" was that police had cordoned off a swamp to search it.

This is just the latest in a series of distractions the big media corporations have found to keep us from paying attention to major world events. As we worry about damsels in distress we don't pay attention to potential economic catastrophe, environmental crises, and corrupt politicians.

Sure it's awful that a young high school graduate has disappeared, but more important things are happening, and passing virtually without the comment and analysis devoted to such important topics as kleptomaniacs who flee their redneck fiances.

There's a lot of debate about whether or not bloggers are journalists--all I know is there's little journalism anywhere else these days.

Please God--NO


Monday, June 13, 2005

Our 11th Anniversary

[Being an only slightly exaggerated account of our trip to Berkeley Springs, WVa]

We spent 3.5 hours on I-70 West Friday evening--the trip to Berkeley Springs is typically a bit less than two hours, but a medivac helicopter emergency somewhere ahead of us cost us 1.5 hours of sitting still and waiting. Despite the delay and the distant anonymous tragedy, I was in a great mood and Cha was deliriously happy and we were heading out to the peace and quiet of another state.

Allow me to recommend the "Sleep and Dine for $179" deal at Tari's. You get two nights in a reasonably comfortable room (as Tari sez, it's "like staying at your auntie's") with a private bath and TV. You get a full dinner for two at Tari's rather good cafe--with starter, appetizer, salad, non-alcoholic beverage of choice, entree of choice, and dessert included [we used this Friday and I only had to pay for my beers--the meal total was $100, and we could barely finish our dessert it was so much!]. You also get a full lunch for two. The price of the meals practically pays for the room, and Tari's place is a block and a half away from the springs and the park and "downtown" Berkeley Springs. [part of this paragraph has been deemed private and confidential and redacted]

Saturday we had appointments at The Bath House. I'd already paid for two "Berkeley Springs" spa packages, which included a 30-minute soak in a private hot-tub for two [redacted] before finally collapsing over the edge [redacted] there was actually a sign that said "keep your bodily fluids out of the tub" [redacted] and then 90-minute massages. Mine was fantastic. A 40-something hippy with a great head of silver hair started out by holding her hand above me and moving it around "to find problem areas." I closed my eyes and imagined I could feel where her hand was--when I felt she was holding her hand over my groin I opened my eyes and she was, and she laughed when I caught her and said "it never fails." She did the standard divide the body into quadrants approach, but really got my sore spots and worked on them advantageously. When I rolled over on my stomach and put my face in the tiny toilet seat thing I was practically drooling and insensate. That's the fucking life, man. I hadn't been massaged since those two marvelous Thai technique experts at the hotel in Manila last year, and needed this badly. For some reason my massage went 20 minutes longer than I paid for, and Cha was jealous when I met her in the 'waiting room.' She'd fallen asleep during her massage and the therapist woke her by covering her eyes with his hands. She was a rubbery zombie all through our cheap pizza lunch, then we[redacted] again and she fell asleep for five hours immediately after. While she napped I shopped for books and walked the woods and read a few chapters of one of my $3 hardback finds, Portnoy's Complaint, and laughed my ass off. [redacted]

The one draw-back of Berkeley Springs is also its greatest charm--it's fucking quiet, and everything closes early. If you don't eat by 9pm you're fucked. We found this out the hard way, and had to eat dinner at Tari's again because her joint was the only one open 'til ten. Cha had a flier for some live music at The Red Guitar but when we arrived there were five guys listening to a sixth bang out a lame version of a Willie Nelson tune. We decided not to hang and immediately outside of The Red Guitar ran into my masseuse who had her hair down and who reeked of bongwater and granola. "How are you guys doing?" she asked, and I introduced her to Cha and she promptly asked if we "liked to party." Cha said yes before I could stop her, and [redacted][redacted][redacted][expletive omitted]
when I woke up at 10:30 on Sunday I had to climb over the masseuse, her mastiff, an inflatable Ronald McDonald wading pool filled with Cheese-It, [redacted], the Willie Nelson wanna-be, Tari, a poor boy sandwich, and Cha. The room stank of sharp country skunk bud, so much tastier and infinitely more potent than my typical stem-and-seed-sown Balto homegrown, and I couldn't remember anything except that I'd taken a whiz in Washington's bathtub beneath a moon like a smirking sliver of Dick Cheney grin. I immediately took the memory stick out of our camera and burned it.

On the ride home we were moving at a good clip when just before exit 29A some moron tried to yield from the on-ramp into the fast lane. Since he was going ten MPH and the rest of us were zipping along at 80, this caused some consternation. The SUV in front of me swayed wildly, fishtailed, and barely avoided colliding with the car in front, as I tapped lightly on the brakes, trying not to skid, hoping to give the woman I'd seen closing quickly in the rear-view time, but then I had no choice and had to stop before banging the SUV and sure enough BANG she nailed us from behind and the Jetta stalled out. I got it started and pulled off the side of the highway where we were joined by a woman dressed like someone out of Romy and Michelle--in fact I'm sure I recognized her from Sweating to the Oldies Vol. 3. She barely fit through the door of her Subaru SUV, and actually had on leg-warmers over her Wal-Mart jeans.

"My Paw is aimin' to kill me already," she gasped. "I just cleared my points from the last time I smooshed somebody from behind!" We both looked at the ruined bumper of the Jetta. I felt badly for her because she wanted to pay for the repair without the insurance companies if possible, but we both knew that there is no part of a Volkswagen priced less than $1000 retail, including the gas cap. We made a police report via phone, exchanged info, and I promised not to call her insurance co until we talked to her about the damage first, and Cha was pissed because not six months ago she'd rear-ended someone in her new Jetta with much more serious consequences, and she'd only gotten the final repair from that incident completed on Thursday. "Goddamit I've got to go back to Balto. Body Works AGAIN!" she screamed, all evidence of the relaxing weekend of debauchery and spa treatment gone.

I took it in stride. The weekend was worth it regardless.

Take That, Nancy Grace

I think this MJ trial was bullshit from the get-go, and not because Jackson isn't a superior freak (he is), but because Americans don't tolerate difference well at all, and they become especially hysterical when children are involved, and some scammers thought they could use that hysteria and their target's freakishness in order to get some $$$.

Remember when Ozzy Osbourne was the most morally abominable creature ever to crawl from the ooze of pop culture in order to infest our youth? Look at him now! Back then MJ was a wholsomely freaky guy--perhaps he can redeem himself too with a reality TV show.

Whenever there's universal condemnation of a celebrity by the talking heads on CNN/MSNBC/FOX, I get suspicious. The stuff Nancy Grace said routinely about Jackson was completely contrary to any standard of justice or fairness, and I hope she eats West Nile-infected crow and gets her ass cancelled, 'cuz she sucks. I'm going to send her this:

Of course Jackson might have done something unsavory at some point--but he's been through the legal system twice now without any substantial findings, so perhaps not. I'm sure next year we'll see him in debtor's prison.

The Worst Movie I've Ever Seen

Ok, this emotionally constipated turd of a flick was nominated for numerous Academy Awards--why?! I originally saw it 15 years ago when the only other Allen films I'd seen were Bananas, Sleeper, Take the Money and Run, and Annie Hall. At the time I was mystified by Interiors, but didn't hate it. Now that I've seen Bergman's work, revisiting Interiors was truly painful. It's great that Woody loves Bergman, and wanted to do something in that vein, but this film is egregiously bad. Even Diane Keaton comes across as a rank amateur while succeeding in little more than simply reading her lines.

Previously the worst movies I'd ever seen were both at the same drive-in double feature. Some movie about earthworms eating people called Squirm! and a wonderful little movie about bugs that started fires and killed people whose title I've mercifully forgotten. Porky's almost took the title away, and then Episodes I and II of Star Wars came even closer. I'd never in a million years imagined that the worst film I've ever seen would be directed by someone whose work I typically like.

The worst thing about Interiors is that with a tiny bit of tweaking, Allen could have made a brilliant parody of Bergman. Instead we get a nauseating not-quite-to-the-level-of-student-film hommage that works on exactly zero levels. The only reason I was able to finish watching this movie was my recurring fantasy that Jason would appear and slice his way through the cast with a machete. Alas, only one of these wholly uninteresting, self-involved narcissists dies, and in the most diarrhetic maudlin manner.

Fucker Carlson

I watched a bit of Tucker Carlson's PBS garbage yesterday, and had a good laugh. The guest was Bob Kaplan, whose book The Coming Anarchy I read with interest a couple years back (at the same time I read Barber's Jihad vs. McWorld, which is a lefty take on the same theme), and Kaplan, who is no dummy, is either befuddled by an ideological filteration system (see Chomsky and Herman) that prevents him from an objective view of the facts, or he's plain and simple a propagandist for American Empire. I suspect the latter, frankly, because when he said the Chinese had just signed a half-billion dollar oil deal with Uzbekistan because they don't care about working with morally repugnant regimes we refuse to deal with because of our history of cuddly human rights values, I coughed a mouthful of shiraz out in indignation.

Bob, you have to know our sordid and indefensible relations with the Uzbek torturers, who boil our rendered prisoners alive for us. We also maintain a significant military presence in Uzbekistan, the base leased for 25 years, and our criticism of the Uzbek regime was slow in coming of late, and only ramped up after they massacred hundreds of demonstrators seeking democratic reform.

So for Kaplan to claim that Chinese economic supremacy has resulted from their willingness to work with regimes we won't touch for moral reasons, and for him to use the Uzbeks in particular, is simply absurd. The US works with those thugs too. Bob Kaplan is far smarter than me, and obviously must know this. And surely Tucker Carlson, who allowed this nonsense an unchallenged airing, knows the truth as well.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

11th on the 11th

Saturday the 11th is our numerologically significant 11th wedding anniversary, and we're off to the hot town of Berkeley Springs, WVa for the weekend. What's in BS, you ask? Hot springs, trees, massage joints (tho no happy endings for us married folk), weird-o craft/new age shops, good cheap eats. Oh, and Washington's bathtub. We rented a remote fucking cabin there two years ago and it was a blast.

I'd kind of hoped for a NYC or DC weekend, but the small-town route will do us good. Less pressure to do stuff. I took a three-day weekend this weekend--actually, I've taken the next four weekends as three-day weekends!--so getting to NYC/DC will be no problem anyhow in the near future.

I should get back to Philly--I haven't been there in many years. Now that the Dali show is gone it may be safe again.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Beam in Thine Own

I was watching some shitty TV late last night (Blind Date? MXC?) and I saw a commercial for the new Smaller Hummer. I won't go into details, but I had an elaborate revenge fantasy about panicked Hummer drivers climbing on top of their vehicles as rising sea levels washed over their towns and villages. This fantasy was very satisfying.

Then, I felt a bit guilty about allowing my Shadow such free play. How awful of me to take pleasure at the thought of others suffering, no matter how selfish and narrow-minded they might be. I wonder if this is why Evangelicism is so hot? Perhaps American Christianity is not about love or peace or forgiveness or humility (you know, that boring stuff Jesus suggested we do), but about superiority and revenge. Maybe some Fundies get off on the idea that people like me will suffer torment after the Rapture and through all eternity. The idea that Satan will ride me with a Jeff Stryker strap-on sans lube for a few millenia, as fireants feed on my scorched pubes and the various albums by American Idol contestants blare from Beelzebub's pimped-out CD deck--this must make them as happy as my Hummer driver revenge fantasy made me.

Before I quit Borders I would occasionally read chunks of the Left Behind series at the Info Desk for kicks; some of the passages in the last volume (Glorious Appearing)are downright Mengel-esque in their barbarous cruelty.

Of course I don't mean to say all Fundies are merely getting off on their moral superiority, but I think there's sufficient evidence to warrant investigation...

BTW--I want to capitalize on the Evangelical book market by writing porn for fundamentalist Christians. Really hot stuff in the style of those monstrous comic tracts I used to read at church as a kid where the protagonist's decisions end up taking him down the wrong path to Hell, except at the end we find out it was all a fantasy or a dream and the protagonist is saved by the Blood of the Lamb after all. So we can have young teens tempted by treacherous bodily desires, then describe in loving detail their sordid debaucheries, and at the end "oh, it was all a sick fantasy I had before I sat down to study Leviticus." I'm going to call it the From Behind series.

Leave Dr. Dean Alone

I get the feeling Dean must be doing exactly the right things if Republicans are so up in arms about him. He's raising money for the Dems at a faster clip than during other off-election years, he's speaking his mind, and he's building infrastructure in parts of the country the McAuliffe crew had given up on years ago.

So he said the Republican Party is a "white Christian" party? This is news?

Last night I caught Chris Matthews on Leno as I surfed trash TV; what a jerk! He trashed Reid and Dean and bellowed that Americans are sick of the Democrats screwing everything up in DC. He got very tepid applause and insulted a Mormon in the audience. He badly needs that pumpkin head of his crammed in a bowling ball polisher.

Hmmm...Iraq War, the economy in the shitter, blown deficit, a secretive government, torture scandals, Halliburton on the take. The DEMOCRATS are screwing everything up?

Yes, some of them are--which is why I'm an Independent. But I like the fact the Donkey has got some balls for the first time in ten years.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

As we age we become parents to our parents

So just as I'm trying to get refinancing for our big renovation project, along comes the need to co-sign for a mortgage for Cha's parents. They're both retired and are trying to buy a new house--well, her Mom is trying, and Dad won't sign anything and he keeps sabotaging the process, hence the need for us to co-sign. Why is he doing this? Because he's a prick. If Cha's Mom sells their valuable land he'll steal half the money and run to the track with it, or immediately fly to the Philippines and gamble it away on cockfights. And so long as she won't sell he won't let her buy. The last time she bid on a house he showed up for the meeting with the mortgage dudes and threw a tantrum just as they were getting ready to sign. He loves playing these fucked up games. The house they're living in is a shambles; it's an early '80s modular and it's pulling an Usher--I can see through the seams upstairs and the flooring and joists are rotting at an alarming rate. They need to move.

I don't want to be selfish, so I'm going along with co-signing. We want them nearer to us, nearer to the stores, and nearer the hospitals, and the house they're bidding on is two miles away from us and all the amenities of downtown Towson (which includes some rather good hospitals), and is really nice. I'm glad to help.

But all our plans to fix up 2 York are again out the window. If this deal goes through we'll co-own another house, in much better condition than ours, for somebody else to live in. And they already own a house and several acres in Parkton worth at least $500k. I can't wait to inform the contractors who have bid and sent me detailed proposals, and then amended proposals on my suggestions, and the bankers working on loan proposals for us, that we can't do this now. That'll be great fun.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Cha on top of Bourges Cathedral Posted by Hello
Helen Mirren Posted by Hello
nice tush Posted by Hello
Ruined  Posted by Hello
Stained glass--my notes are bad but from the color this must be Amiens or Reims Cathedral Posted by Hello
AVAM Egg and Cha Posted by Hello
Eggcellent Posted by Hello

Sweet Leaf

More evidence that we live in Bizzar-O world: Rehnquist, O'Connor, and, gulp--fucking Clarence Thomas get it right (as in correct, not Right-wing).

I'm sick of the whole medical marijuana argument because I've read hundreds of freshmen essays about it, and also because weed should plain and simple be available at the 7-11 next to the chili cheese nacho machine. How about taking that $15-20 billion per year wasted on arresting, prosecuting, and jailing potheads and using those funds instead to set up treatment centers for meth and OxyContin victims?

Hey Christers! This is a plant God created, which grows naturally. Our fucking Constitution is written on its fibers, after all, and George Washington grew it himself. The guy who is arguably more important than anyone in the rise of modern conservatism is a doobie-smokin' sumbitch of the first order. How can you rectify your conservative "free market" ideology with prohibition of weed? How can you be for small government and yet help fund with your tax dollars an expensive and elaborate war on drugs that's doomed to failure? Your hero GWB has himself cooked up a few bongloads of sticky green. Wake up!

Weekend Netflix

Very interesting not only for its presentation of the rather remarkable achievements of Leni Riefenstahl as a cinematic innovator and technician, but also for the troubling moral ambiguities of this enigmatic genius. I'm not convinced she was wholly innocent of being an enthusiastic Nazi, but I'm less convinced now than before I saw the documentary. I love the shot of 90-year-old Leni carressing a giant skate on the ocean floor.

An almost perfect thematic match for the above documentary. Sometimes the Netflix queue exhibits a bit of synchronicity. Another morally ambiguous subject, but perhaps less understandable than Leni. Fred Leuchter refuses to acknowledge evidence which contradicts his own, and whatever his motive (fame? money? a sense of belonging?) his case is less ambiguous than Riefenstahl's--her explanations are possibly acceptable, but his aren't. He's still an interesting guy, and Erol Morris (The Fog of War) presents Leuchter's case and the contrary arguments without judgment.

Before he was Elrond or Mr. Smith, Hugo Weaving and two other drag queens went on a quest in the Outback. They partied with some Aborigines, were threatened by toughs, made bitchy observations about each other, and wore fabulous costumes. A cliche-ridden film but still a lot of fun.

Except for the Abba. I hate Abba.


We love the American Visionary Art Museum, and their current exhibition is one of the best I've seen there(not quite as good as the Apocalyptic art show, or the alien abuctees art show, but nonetheless superior).

The Tom Duncan kinetic sculptures are fantastic, the Steve Shepard triptychs in colored pencil are intricate and beautiful (and, yes, crazy). But best of all are the Haitian prayer flags and an entire room of Haitian bead/Voudou altar art. Lovely, and full of shininess. I want to go back on a day when there's less haze in the Harbor. We had our first truly sultry weekend, and it led me to shave my head (well, the heat coupled with the unendurable ridicule doled out Friday at Mick O'Shea's: Virginia Monologues said I was "too bushy," Pork Heaven pronounced my hairstyle "'70s porno," Len and Schott asked if I was in the band "Loverboy," Ellen Cherry thought I was a puppet from a Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday morning extravaganza, Earthdragon toasted my hair at the end of the night, etc.).

As usual, Pork Heaven got in trouble with the bouncers, this time because he licked our waitress. Ugh.

Friday, June 03, 2005


So J357's sister is bellydancing and sent Ferocity a link to the group she's dancing with. There, in the top left pic, second from the left, is my ubiquitous wife.

She was a volunteer at the Creative Alliance party for David Simon last week and Baltimore Magazine took her picture.

As I become more reclusive, she's all over the place.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


I caught this while roaming the web, bored to tears at the Liberry. It's something I've thought about myself many times--why don't I read more women novelists? I'm a sensitive, New Age guy, aren't I? Most of my favorite 'bloggers are women, after all. Just today I was seeking a novel at home and I thought "I should read something by a woman for once." Instead, I settled on re-reading a Henry James. WTF?

Women novelists I've read (starred ones are faves, those with + signs I loathe):

Shirley Jackson*
Anne Rivers Siddons+
Jane Austen
Flannery O'Connor*
Toni Morrison
Mary Doria Russell
Alice Walker
Willa Cather
Margaret Atwood
Madeleine L'Engle
Ursula K. LeGuin
Joan Didion
Nadine Gordimer*
Dawn Powell
Paula Fox*
Iris Murdoch*
Julian May*
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Anne McCaffery+
Toni Cade Bambara
Tsitsi Dangarembga*
Assia Djebar
Ayn Rand+
Banana Yoshimoto
Simone de Beauvoir
George Sand
Marguerite Duras
Marguerite Yourcenar
Isaak Dineson

Women whose works I own but have yet to read:

Edith Wharton
Dorris Lessing
AS Byatt
Lady Murasaki Shikibu

These lists strike me as too short, given the amount of reading I do. Am I somehow biased? Even my non-fiction list is short:

Elaine Pagels*
Samantha Power
Ellen Dissanayake
Wendy Doniger
Anne Lamott
Natalie Goldberg
Barbara Euland

I'm sure I'm simply not remembering some authors, but again, WTF? I could spend a year trying to list male authors I've read; it would be an impossibility.

This post=evidence how bored I am at work tonight.

Those who forget the past are...Wait, it'll come to me.

The British created Iraq in 1918, confident it would become a beacon of enlightenment unto the Middle East, that it would nurture moderate Arab regimes, that its monarchs would serve as peacemakers between Zionists and Arabs in Palestine, and that it would anchor the region in the wider interests of a far-flung empire. The experiment persisted for forty years, and it failed...

from Forty Years in the Sand: What happened the last time freedom marched on Iraq by Karl E. Meyer, Harper's Magazine June 2005

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? How about George Nathaniel Curzon describing the British Empire in 1894: "...under Providence, the greatest instrument for good the world has ever seen." And George W. Bush in 2002: "Our nation is the greatest force for good in history."

Lawrence of Arabia in a letter to the London Sunday Times:

The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information...Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.

Again, sounds familiar. Except of course that T.E. Lawrence and most Englishmen were honest about their imperial motives.

I recommend Mr. Meyer's article to you. And my student assistant just asked me what a Conquistador is.

Almost cut my hair...

For the first time in 11 years I have hair. In '94, two weeks before I got hitched, I cut off my Greg Allman mane and have shaved my head nearly every two weeks since, sometimes to the skin, but usually to an eighth of an inch or so. I keep it so short not because I like the look, but because I hate grooming, I hate grooming products, and I like to take 1-minute showers. For the same reason I have a ridiculous Van Dyke--not because I like it, but because I hate shaving and a full beard is too itchy.

Because my hair is naturally bushy, I'm looking more and more like Yahoo Serious each morning, but for some reason I'm not interested in cutting it. As a result I have to use conditioner again, and if I don't stop growing soon I'll look like John, Paul, George and Ringo. If I don't stop for a year or so I'll look the way Kerry King from Slayer used to look, whereas his current 'style' is reminiscent of my formerly current look (you may have to 'refresh' the page for the second link to work).

Cha won't tolerate it much longer. She's already teasing me and threatening me with the clippers.

To my good friends whose hair is now dearly departed--never fear, I've got male pattern baldness and shall join you in ten or fifteen years I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Two Years

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of this 'blog (tho it used to have different names). My favorite thing about doing this? The strange Google searches that bring people here, and the odd connections and new-found friends and the space to keep up with old ones.

I just got a call here at the Liberry from my favorite right-winger Flexible Head, who's a friend-of-a-friend (Kwa'li's best friend) and whose nickname is actually the band he's in. He was searching on Google for stuff about his band and started reading this post and realized it must be by me. He called Cha and got my work number so he could tell me how much he liked it. Hopefully we'll see him this Friday at Mick O'Shea's.

Weird--I had 7 hours' worth of work today at the Liberry. That RARELY happens. Alas, I think that 7 hours' worth of work was supposed to last me through Friday. D'oh.