Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Controversy aside, this worked for me. I started wearing glasses at 5, and was prescribed trifocals at age 12. Going to "eye aerobics" once a week brought me back to nearly 20/20, which lasted until my mid-twenties.

Polls in the 20s Next Week?

Oh I shoulda helped out in the land o' cotton
Instead I made 'em feel forgotten
I looked away!
I looked away!
I looked away!
Dickie Boy

The refinin' companies sure are reelin'
After five years of unholy stealin'
I saved their day!
I saved their day!
I saved their day!
Those good old boyz

Goddam Katrina sure was surly
Made me leave vacation a bit too early
I lost two days!
I lost two days!
I lost two days!
I claim comp time

All those suckas in New Orleans
Shoulda left town on Monday morning
What the hey?
What the hey?
What the hey?
Get a car

I can't wait for Reverend Robertson
to point out this is God a-punishin'
All those sinners
All those sinners
All those sinners
Showin' boobies

My approval rating's in the sewer
'Cuz I'm a talker and not a doer
I'm so lame
I'm so lame
I'm so lame
Dixie Land

Oh I'm glad I ain't in Dixie
Today, today...
Though Dixie Land gave me my job
I don't owe them a damn thing...
Look away, look away, look away...

Oh in Dixie Land they hoped I'd be sworn in
Now their decision they are a-mournin'
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land

I watched a lot of Katrina Coverage last evening. Just awful (both the coverage and the situation). I watched Fox News host a particularly disgusting roundtable with Krauthammer, Kondracke, Hume, and Barnes--of course they said that people who choose to live in a place surrounded by water deserve what they get, and that perhaps taxpayers in the rest of the country shouldn't have to bail them out. Ah, Libertarians! They're so damn cute.

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A Family of Anglers

My niece caught a two-foot drumfish on Lake Ontario using crawfish as bait!
She rocks...she also caught several big bass that morning.

Of course my nephew saw these fish and got jealous, so Uncle Area 51 had to take him out on the boat as well. SCORE!

Sis, Comfortablee, Uncle Area 51 (according to the locals his salmon was the biggest catch of the year!), and Bro J after their charter adventure.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Don't make me do it without the Fez on!

This pic, found whilst rambling randomly through the internets, brought back a lot of memories. At one time we had a litter of Great Dane pups in the house, aside from the sire and dame, and Gus the beagle.

At a snail's pace

You know, I've been reading this for two weeks and I'm only two thirds in and I'm about ready to toss in the towel. No, the book is not unreadable nor impenetrable (it's certainly difficult), and it is far from boring--it is, in fact, awe-inspiring and magisterial, like reading Greek tragedy or the Old Testament. But Faulkner's prose hypnotizes me and I find myself sucking up words without them sinking in; this results in much re-reading and reading aloud and then the narrative gets buried/vague/forgotten and I have to start again back at the beginning of the previous chapter. Strangely, because the writing is so beautiful, this process is not frustrating, but it is tiring and at times less than pleasurable. In upstate NY I read 20 pages in the hot tub and it took me an hour and a half.

I'm a very fast reader normally.

I think I'll continue plugging away at Absalom, Absalom!, but I'm picking up lighter fare to read on the side. Namely,

I burned through 50 pages in a half hour this morning. So refreshing, and so funny. Faulkner is rarely funny, nor are the images of devestation coming up from his old stomping grounds--how reminiscent of his work to see families struggling out through holes punched in their roofs, beset by muddy pestilence.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I dunno, I guess this was OK; I enjoyed the Micky Rourke section quite a bit--the Bruce Willis stuff was ok; Clive Owen and Benicio del Toro rocked their segment. Better than Kill Bill, but not by much.

Simply Divine! Her energy and charisma in this role are extraordinary. A film with the sleazy gumption of the original Texas Chainsaw, but with Benny Hill slapstick thrown into the mix. My favorite scene? Mink Stole as Divine's fucked up daughter staging car accidents in the living room as a cry for attention. Hilarious.

I had to see this of course because of the wretched reviews, and was disappointed to find that Alexander is much better than I'd heard. Certainly it's not a great piece of cinema, and falls comfortably into a long line of films made with a gorgeous ineptitude by Mr. Stone (The Doors, JFK, Nixon) that, despite major flaws, are vastly entertaining in my opinion. I think Alexander is better than Platoon, frankly, and is certainly finer than the abysmal Gladiator and the flatulent Troy of last year, to mention two films of similar genre. I think of the great press Gladiator got, and its Best Picture nod, and wonder why Alexander was so soundly trashed? Perhaps the DVD re-edit was sufficient to right a trainwreck? It wouldn't surprise me if the rather quaint and subdued homoeroticism was too much for audiences and critics, because honestly I think this was a pretty lush and engaging work with some minor narrative flashback problems and an impressive cast.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I heart the Rude Pundit

I hadn't even heard or read about this travesty until today.

One Cute Baby

Ferocity just dropped by with Eve, reducing the entire staff at Cook Liberry to utter imbecility. I've seen many an adorable baby in my day, but wow!


Last night I dreamt that I was cutting the grass behind the abandoned house next door, thinking about our missing neighbor Nancy and hoping she was OK. Then for some reason I entered her garage and behind her rusted '78 Camero was a sort of drawbridge and enormous castle keep--all in a building half the size of a boxing ring. With a great deal of trepidation I opened the door to the keep and saw nothing but a pile of blankets and towels. "Did she pile all her laundry in here?" I thought, and then Nancy emerged from the blankets, aged beyond the chronologically possible by some disease.

I expressed my concern and immediately hugged her and invited her to stay in our guest room until she was well.

"I was just hanging around to make sure somebody cared," she laughed. We joked a bit about old times shooting the shit over the back fence and then my alarm went off.

Just yesterday I'd thought about Nancy in the past tense, then berated myself for it. "She's probably at a new boyfriend's, or traveling around somewhere visiting cousins I don't know about," I thought. But now I'm not so sure. Last night's dream was of the type I've only ever had about dead people, and I've had several a few weeks after a friend died of this exact character.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Wife's Ob-Gyn Cracks Me Up

So, about a month ago I posted that Cha had received two questionable Pap results. At first her Ob-Gyn frightened her to death with the big C; then, after further testing, he told her the newer tests were inconclusive and that they'd wait until November for "treatment options" and another round of scraping.

"These results could be false," he said.

But then he had the nerve to say: "It's possible your husband has been sleeping around and you've contracted something from him. But you shouldn't run home and accuse him because it might be from a while back."

Yes, Doctor, that would be "a while back"; it's been more than 15 years since I've sowed my oats elsewhere! And that wouldn't be "sleeping around" because I hadn't started dating Cha yet.

I'm tempted to call this guy and give him a piece of my mind--if you think these results might be false, why would you even suggest to a patient that her spouse is playing the field without waiting for verification? This doctor got in trouble, after all, simply for warning a patient about obesity (I saw him on Olbermann last night).

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Even Boring from Space

Cook Liberry satellite image from Google.

The last of the great seasons! I killed a couple hours with season 6 last night and had a howling good time re-visiting the best Halloween special ever (The Shinning), the Gummi Venus DeMilo, the pool episode, the comet episode, the Stonecutters, the sex tonic episode, the film festival, Lisa's wedding, and of course Bart vs. Australia, etc. Deleted scenes, commentary, alternate languages--Dolby Surround. Gotta love it!

One note-the new packaging SUCKS ASS. It opens vertically (and not particularly well), and the DVDs are in a horizontally arranged folder. Awkward, asinine packaging. BUT, there's a slip of paper in the box with an 800 number to call for alternative packaging like the other seasons' boxes.

Back and to the Left

Dear President Hugo Chavez:

Please assassinate Pat Robertson. You have the capability.

Thank you,

The American People

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You can't hang with me...

This is Yahtzee's toe after trying to run with me Saturday.


Saturday a week ago we went tubing on the Gunpowder with Kw'ali and Klezma. We only did the 45 minute route between the washed-out bridge at Bunker Hill Road and York Road in Hereford; good thing, too, given the complaints from everyone that the water was too cold (it was, and it always is). Klezma tried to sit on the side of her tube instead of down in it; despite warnings from Kw'ali and I that a spill was inevitable, she stayed in that position until a spider frightened her, and the dunking commenced. The cool fast water and the hot muggy air merged in a thick steam reminiscent of Apocalypse Now.

Back in the day we used to tube from the Prettyboy Dam to Hereford, a route that took HOURS. Once on said route tubing with the Twins I lost my car keys in the river, only to find them hanging from the State Park sign at Hereford. This strange bit of synchronicity is inexplicable, given that I lost my keys somewhere to the west, and the finder must have somehow recovered them and passed us on the river--and given also that we weren't intending to stop at Hereford, but to continue on to Monkton. Fortunately our Algebra teacher was also a forest ranger and he gave us a ride in his pickup. I recall that day fondly; I think 'Lizbet had some Kool Aid spiked with vodka, and Cathy Leigh another jug of gin and juice. We were flush and fleshy.

After the more recent tube ride we tied the big floaters to Klezma's car and took a brief hike back the trails, interrupting some teens who were dismayed at having to stub out and hide their smoking fatty. On the way back along the treacherous path Klezma saved Cha from a 15-foot plunge over a cliff down to a rocky Christopher Reeve fate; Cha tried to non-chalant a leap over a log at a point where the trail was about six inches wide and ended up teetering--Klezma grabbed Cha's arm, planted her feet, and yanked Cha back from the precipice. Later we were playing Frisbee and Klezma professed a klutzy ignorance about how to throw or catch it. "I'm really un-coordinated," she complained as we tried to teach her. My reply? "You just ju-jitsued my wife's clumsy ass back from certain doom, so you can't be that physically inept."

Monday, August 22, 2005

Movies Endured on Vacation--and Music

A bit of folk wisdom, ascribed to "Chaos Theory" at the opening of The Butterfly Effect, notes that a few flaps of a butterfly's wings on one side of Earth can result in a tsunami on the other. The point that something seemingly insignificant and harmless can have a major and disastrous impact is then proved by the movie itself, as its insignificant plot overwhelmed me with major boredom at a distance from the TV of at least 4 meters. Ashton--go back to the '70s. Please!

Despite its treading dangerously close in the middle third to the ultimate comic-book turd-dom of that Hulk movie a few years back, I really liked Hellboy. I've always found Ron Perlman appealing--and his shoulder-shrugging disgruntled anti-hero works well. Plus, Hellboy fights Cthulu; HPL has never looked better on the silver screen, and the nod to dorky Cthulu Mythos fans is much appreciated.

Tha shiznit! I'm particularly disinterested in how much cock Easy E should suck or any of the other little personal beefs between Dre and Snoop and other West-Coasters 15 years ago...but I'm very interested in the fat beats on this LP. Deez nuts rule!

Back to Work

Cha and I almost died on the way to teeny tiny Wolcott, NY, but the trip was worth it. How did we almost die? In a tornadic storm of some sort, which hit dramatically just south of Wilkes Barre, PA. We were cruising I-81 through the Pocono mountains when the sky assumed an agitated green/purple aspect not unlike an overripe mango. I noted aloud the tiny twisting cloud cones above and behind us to the West, and not two minutes later visibility dropped to about two meters and the heaviest rain I've ever experienced began buffeting the Jetta. The cars in front of us were barely visible, and shimmered like the outline of objects seen through wet wax paper. I hit my hazards and dropped to about 10 MPH and thought "We're in deep shit" because now we were IN the cloud cover and I couldn't see anything that might be forming. I lived in Gettysburg for a couple years as a child and we had four or five tornados touch down nearby; the signs are burned in my head, as is the need to watch for that dark and hypnotic funneling above. There's no root cellar on I-81, so I started looking for an underpass, while dodging trailer trucks trying to maintain 75 MPH flying by in the murk, the cars stopping in the slow lane, those trying to get off to the side, etc. A blast of wind hit us that was so fierce the car wobbled back and forth on its suspension, and that was it--I pulled over and Cha started putting on her jacket. We knew we were fucked, and then a ten-foot tree branch floated gracefully over the roof of the car, all the trees to our right along the highway flattened to the earth, the car in front of us started shaking, and I floored it and took an exit whose sign I could not read, again looking for an underpass or a ditch to hide in. I asked Cha to dial in AM 520 and in very broken stoccato staticky language a calm young woman's voice was advising "drivers near Wilkes-Barre on I-81" to get the fuck out of their vehicles NOW and seek shelter. For some reason I found this funny at the time, and just as we were about to jump out of the car and head for the crotch of a rusty old bridge embankment the wind stopped and glorious orange sunlight broke through the bruised sky. Branches and trees and other debris were strewn across the highway, cars were haphazardly stopped all along the shoulder and the slow lane, and I had somehow ended up in a very bad part of Wilkes Barre. All the traffic signals were out of order and there was trash everywhere, but we quickly got back on the road and had a great story for everyone when we arrived.

Wolcott is a cool little town, and we had a nice roomy house for the 11 of us on a lake about a half mile from Lake Ontario. We played tons of Boggle and Scrabble and Risk and Sequence and Monopoly and whatnot; we caught perch, bass, salmon, trout, and sunnies galore. We swam at Sodus Point, bought thrift shop clothes, pottery, drank enough Labatt's Blue to float a flotilla, ate like kings and queens, and smoked a Tommy Chong-choking amount of crumbly Xmas tree greeny. The house had a pool table, a boat dock for our four craft, satellite TV and DVD player, a hottub, and a little garden pond full of frogs and carp. Hilights? Cha playing Marco Polo with my niece and nephew in the hottub, carrying Porc Heaven on my back because he was too stoned to move ("hurty, burny, foily" he kept saying), seeing the mammoth salmon Uncle Area 51 caught (38 inches, 33 pounds!) on Lake Ontario. More later.

Now I'm home, waking to the sounds of trucks rumbling down York Road at 6am instead of to the dawn bird chorus. Fuck work.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

You got any books on herb gardening?

Back in 8 days...

Friday, August 12, 2005

We're off

Cha and I are headed north to Lake Ontario for a week spent with my crazy family at some cabin by the water. It's quite likely I'll have no 'net or news access for the entire seven days, and that's alright with me. I want to fish, drink beer by the gallon, smoke like a chimney, and look at the goddam stars while lying on my back in a rowboat.

We were supposed to leave tomorrow, but since Lenore and Schott want us to be godparents to wee Emily, and the Christening is Sunday, we'll be leaving a bit late.

I'm looking forward to the Christening, and that pledge to raise the child Catholic if--God forbid--the worst were to happen. I'm not Catholic, I'm an athiest, and I would never raise anyone in a faith of any kind. When I was 12 my grandparents took me to church for what was supposed to be my baptism into the Church of the Nazerene, but I refused to get in the dunking tank. I did keep the gift Bible they gave me, though.

We lie to make our lives easier. I'm sure Lenore and Schott understand that. Cha had to get her priest to fill out a form pledging that we were both practicing Catholics before the ritual--she added my name after the priest filled it out to avoid our disqualification as candidates! So naughty. Her penance? A week with my stepbrothers.

Immediately after work today Yahtzee and I are headed to Hereford High to run the X-country course, one of the toughest high school courses in the country, and where we cut our teeth as young runners. What better way to celebrate today's heat advisory? Hereford's reputation comes largely from Suicide Hill, pictured below.

I feel for those poor suckers who still have to run the County and State Championships there, not to mention the dreaded Hereford Invitational!

On those bloodied plains, this is not an uncommon sight...

We Bulls had the advantage of training on Suicide Hill daily--not these other suckas. Work it!

The Unraveling, cont'd

"Elected officials are just removed by force. We live in a militia state even with American troops here. Imagine when they leave. It will be worse than Saddam Hussein's time."

The press continues to exhibit testicular development.

[Links courtesy The Raw Story, one of the 'blogs responsible for forcing the MSM to act--here's another interesting development]

Weird Dream

Last night I dreamed I was partying with a bunch of rich snooty teens, the sort of superficial attractive people I've never felt comfortable around--the type who are featured on MTV "reality" shows. They were at my house late at night and we were playing an elaborate drinking game with cards and poker chips. It was vital for me to be accepted by these people, despite the fact I hated them all.

In the wee hours of the morning I was getting nervous because I had to work the next day, and I thought "Once upon a time an hour of sleep would've been enough to party again..."

Then I was looking in a mirror and saw a bald spot on top of my head, but upon closer examination I was tonsured like a monk. I went outside and there was a brown bear on my back deck. I offered him some food and he spoke to me; then I saw a wolf behind the gas grill, and I noticed the vacant house next door had its back door open. I heard a familiar bark from inside the kitchen there and it was Happy the mutt who died two years ago of cancer, perhaps precipitating my neighbor's bizarre behavior and eventual disappearance. I was overjoyed to see her and she bounded over to me but was intercepted by the wolf, who did not bite me but showed me his teeth. I tried to get into the house but the wolf slunk in between my legs, then stretched out like dogs do and raised his ass and farted at me. I pushed him out the door with a broom and awoke.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

NOT Tender at all

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks
You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books
You're very well read
It's well known

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

Bob Dylan, "Ballad of a Thin Man"

Well, I haven't "been through all of" Fitzgerald's books myself, but I'm a huge fan of the technique of his short stories, and had chewed on Gatsby a couple times before picking this up on a whim at Borders Saturday. My overall impression of Tender is the Night is that this is very uneven work, with occasional bits of delicious languid prose, then hyper stoccato dramatic scenes--these sudden and at times awkward changes in tone and affect are schizo (as are several of the characters); this produces an effect bordering almost on the Joycean. I found reading it by turns frustrating and rewarding.

But looking at it as more than a "novel"--as a frank fictionalized depiction of Scott's own woes, and as a harbinger of the writer he might have been had he lived--is very interesting. When I taught literature I'd spend a couple weeks on the Holy Trinity of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and of the three I'd paint Fitz as the most traditional and conventional--a sublime creative mind, of course, but not as revolutionary as Faulkner and not so forceful or willful as Papa. And yet, having read Tender is the Night (which was written, at least in part, here in Towson as Zelda cut paper dolls and convalesced at Hopkins hospital before burning down Scott's house in Rogers Forge) at last, I think my opinion was unjustified. Biographical honesty aside, there are passages of manic modernist beauty here, the energetic play of a great talent showing no signs of the dissipation being catalogued. At times the book bogs down in conventional boilerplate, but then Scott will light up the page with incisive and vicious dissections of his characters' motivations, descriptive passages that are simply off-the-hook good, or metaphors that shake the soul (one about love as a dye-job that obliterates all individual colors haunted my dreams).

I mean, yeah--one "should" read this, so I don't need to recommend it, but if you plan to only read one Fitzgerald novel, make it Gatsby, which, like his short fiction, is almost perfectly crafted. Tender is the Night takes patience but pays off. Nobody else does dissolution so well, but this novel is not as polished as his other work.

You Must See This

This is the best movie ever made. Of course such superlatives are ridiculous, but KFH is intellectually engaging, touching, technically beautiful, surprising, and at times hilarious. Stephen Chow--obviously inspired by the Raimi/Coen Bros. school--has mastered the form they pioneered, and--dare I say it?--surpassed them.

Cineastes will enjoy KFH for the stacked 'references' to specific classics and entire genres of moviemaking. See if you can keep up with the breathlessly enthusiastic Chow, who never artlessly crams in pointless homages (with one strange exception that's nonetheless funny), but seamlessly incorporates them in the narrative. Fans of Kung Fu/gangster flicks will have a ball watching Chow exaggerate, lampoon, and gleefully deconstruct such movies with a startling precision. Chow owes a debt to Raimi's Evil Dead 2 and the Coen Bros.' Miller's Crossing in particular, but KFH is more sophisticated (and more silly) than either. Raimi got his comic aesthetic from the Stooges, which worked well in zombie films--Chow gets his from the classic Looney Toon cartoons of the 40s--shorts written, animated, and directed by guys versed in psychoanalytic theory, history, literature, and encyclopedically aware of pop culture. Imagine one of those brilliant WB cartoons from the 40s with the flawless art design, the dizzying combination of visual wizardry and layered puns, the vocal and musical brilliance. Then extend that brilliant 6 minute short to 90 minutes and voila, KFH.

Chow drops a line of dialogue from Spiderman into the mix to make explicit his debt to Raimi, much as Raimi would take lines or scenes from his favorite films (The Haunting in Evil Dead, the brilliant Once Upon a Time in the West flashback with Gary Sinese as Henry Fonda in The Quick and the Dead) to make clear his enthusiasms. But Chow is less awkward when it comes to incorporating an innocent romanticism; Raimi has trouble doing authentic emotion, and tends to compensate by mimicking/exaggerating maudlin scenes from classic cinema (tho this tendency has improved a bit, most particularly in the excellent A Simple Plan, Raimi reverted to form in Spiderman with the love scenes and bits of tender emotion almost over-the-top--it's part of Raimi's signature style). Chow hits exactly the right note in such scenes, and they add a poignant gravitas without ruining the fun. I won't tell you the cinematic metaphor which closes KFH, but I found it really touching. Chow knows movies can involve us completely, and can make magic genuine--they can, in fact, re-awaken a child-like sense of wonder in the most jaded of cynics. That's why I think KFH is such great fun. I was sincerely belly-laughing as Cha shrieked in surprise and delight during some of the sequences. I'll have to buy this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I am beyond bored; I've achieved the bored person's equivalent of Nirvana--an altered state of consciousness indeed. For three months my job has provided about 5-6 hours per week of actual tasks. I've been using a lot of personal and vacation time and I still sit here for hours on end, fiddling my thumbs.

Things are ramping up, however, as we head toward the start of the semester. I keep getting orders from academic department liaisons marked "Please RUSH--needed for course in September." I'd like to strangle the faculty who do this shit--you have ALL SUMMER to request these materials, jerkasses! Why wait until the last minute so I have to spend extra tax dollars on rush fees (I spend MD State funds, which come out of MY taxes after all) to make up for your procrastination?

But even though I have some stuff to do, I get it done in like ten minutes. And, because there are no courses offered in August, the Liberry is now closing at 5pm, so we 2nd-shift folk have to work daytime hours like normal humans. The result of this is an awful jet-lag effect. I get to about 1pm and my brain shuts down because I'm used to waking up at 10 and going to work at 1 and suddenly I have to wake up at 7am. This of course has triggered my insomnia. And when we're not open at night, I don't have any Service Desk time; Service Desk time is the justification for my position. Even though I have nothing to do while AT the Service Desk, the fact that I'm there every night from 5:30 until 10:00pm at least makes my presence here necessary in the eyes of the bosses. When I don't have Desk time I can't do what I usually do, ie read four or five books per week AT WORK. This results in L'Ennuivana. What I can do is listen to Dr. Dre, Merle Haggard, and buttloads of Haydn.

Ha. Imus called Rummy a "son of a bitch." That rules.

Obscure Marvel Villains

K'walli and Klezma swung by the house last week for some hot, steamy Yeti. K'walli commented that my newly redesigned facial hair reminded him of Mentallo. I'm thinking a red jumpsuit might be fun! [too bad there will be no Halloween IX]

I missed out on comics and kids' books--I blame Asimov and Tolkien and Dostoevsky.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Oh yeah

Thursday morning, consultation with the orthodontist.

A week from Monday morning, consultation with the oral surgeon to schedule a triple extraction.


The Ghost of Nixon

The news is great fun these days--I'm very excited and intrigued by:
  • The Abramoff/DeLay investigations
  • The upcoming Vanity Fair article alleging Denny Hastert took bribes from Turkish hoodlums
  • The Plame investigation and all its sinuous twists 'n turns
  • CoinGate in Ohio
  • And this remarkably under-reported story might just wrap things up like a Xmas gift

GHWB was for years an obsession; I thought he was the real brains behind Reagan, and had cooked up all the criminality in what was up to that time the most corrupt Administration ever. Now it pains me to admit that GHWB looks A-OK compared to GWB, whose machinations far outsrip his old man's shenanigans.

GHWB pardoned everyone who could possibly testify to anything that would potentially lead to his own indictment, however, and Bill Clinton was a pussy about pursuing Republican corruption and they sure paid him back for his kindness! Here's hoping W gets outfoxed, and that all his shit hits the fan before Roberts or anyone else gets confirmed. Hmmm....Bush and Cheney indicted by Fitzgerald, and Hastert and DeLay under investigation, and Ohio with its nefarious machine unraveling? Where does it all lead? I think all of these puzzle pieces add up to one big raft of shit for the Admin--but don't count out the Bushies and their wiley ways.

If Bush is indicted before Roberts is confirmed, and Cheney too--the Dems can stall Roberts with impunity, and if there's an impeachment...

Bah! What does it matter? Nixon managed to redeem himself (how about that epitaph!) to the point that his felons can go on TV and blast Mark Felt as a villain. Now that he's roasting in Hell I wonder what counsel he'd give Bush/Rove? I fear an unsatisfactory resolution coming down the pike, even if Fitzgerald nails everyone with indictments (tho that'll be a satisfying day indeed). And I have no confidence in the Democrats to be any better if they manage the miraculous in '06.

Monday, August 08, 2005

More fine dining...

Cha and I enjoyed our first visit to Petit Louis; we had a discount card from the Walters that made lunch almost affordable. Everything was exceptionally fresh and delicious!

And our waitress? A student who failed my ENGL268 Tradition and Form in Western Fiction class last year.

Two Thirty

I'm a freak of nature for many reasons, but still having--at age 36--three wisdom teeth helps cement my qualifications. Sometimes the two in my upper jaw hurt--particularly the one on my left; it's not anywhere near aligned with the rest of my teeth, and is impossible to reach with a toothbrush. Typically dentists tell me "They'll have to come out eventually," and leave it at that.

Thursday last week a huge chunk of my upper left wisdom tooth broke off. Then, it started to hurt, and mysteriously the other two remaining wisdom teeth (one of which hasn't even grown all the way in yet) began to yowl angrily along jangly nerve endings in my jaw and ears and neck. As a result, we didn't go to NYC this weekend as planned largely because I was reduced to a fussy grouchy infantile state.

We've had incredible dental difficulties the last five years. Every time we find a dentist and schedule an appointment it's for months down the road because they're all booked. Then, a week or two before our appointment we'll get a call telling us that "We no longer take your insurance." So we start again, rescheduling, getting cancelled, etc. We haven't had cleanings in three years, and the last cleaning was a desperation visit to some fly-by-night Romanian immigrant. She stood on my chest, flossed me with a shoelace, sprayed out my mouth with a garden hose and then charged me $50.

Tomorrow I've got an 8am emergency appointment at a local dentist's. The secretary assured Cha that they accept our insurance plan, and I hope to schedule cleanings after my appointment, though I'm sure they won't have any available slots until April '07, by which time they'll cease accepting CIGNA. I'm also reasonably sure that I'll be undergoing three extractions in the next few weeks. Mmmmm, legal painkillers.

This one's for you!

I still sometimes think of my good bud Sluggo as the guy who puked carrots and radishes all over the back porch at The Hulk's parents' house after drinking several Red, White, and Blues. That was 20 years ago, however.

Friday he and SW had baby #5; and yes, as rumored, baby #5 is indeed a girl. She's got:
  • four older brothers to protect her
  • four older brothers to torture her

Congratulations on the birth, and welcome to little Ava Corrine!

PS: I would gladly have visited Sluggo and Spooge Whore at the hospital, considering they were a few blocks from my front door, but since baby #1 I've been banned from visiting by SW. I made her laugh so much when she had Eli that she popped her staples. Sluggo says he can't even take a picture of me into the delivery room any more. For baby two I showed up and she ordered me out and Sluggo and I drank all night at Bill Bateman's.

Not Bad

This was a Xmas gift from my sister last year--I completely forgot about it until Cha found the DVD in a stack of books I was going to trade in. Intermission wasn't bad at all--a bit Trainspotting-ish, but with a lighter, more optimistic outlook--awful shite happens, but sometimes when awful shite happens it's funny! Colin Ferrel is one bad-ass mofo, as is Colm Meaney. And Kelly MacDonald, well there's nary a finer lass working Celtic Cinema these days. Somehow the film manages to juggle more than 10 plotlines without getting tangled up.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


A simply marvelous excursion, written with warmth and humor; not at all as dry as you'd think. Brown carefully de-constructs certain fashionable notions about "Europe" and "Rome" and "barbarians" and "pagans." I found his portraits of people (Colombanus, Patricius, Gregory of Tours, Boniface, etc) and places (Syria, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, France, England, etc) to be evidence that even in remote, "primitive" times the world was already small.

And many of the conflicts troubling the world between 2000 and 1000 years ago are still haunting us today.

It took me a while to finish because I kept re-reading other great stuff concurrently, most notably:

Life Out of Balance

It's easy to dismiss this sort of artsy documentary off-hand. Once before we were married Cha and I had a roommate who burned African veldt grass to purify himself while rubbing a crystal in his pits in lieu of bathing each morning--Koyaanisqatsi would've been right up his alley. Thinking about him sitting shirtless and Indian-style in the living room of that Loch Raven sweatbox apartment, swaying back and forth to Philip Glass and drumming on his chest? Why, I almost turned the film off at the credits.

That said, I found Reggio's film beautiful and brilliant and immediately after viewing I added the other two in the trilogy to my endless Netflix queue.

Koyaanisqatsi jumps dramatically in tone, from extended quiet visions of nature to war footage to the lovely spiraling of a booster rocket falling endlessly after a space launch catastrophe. At times Reggio films individual people and their hostile curiosity at being filmed accentuates their humanity. Then he'll pull back and show time-lapse footage of factory workers, Grand Central Station patrons, the chaos of the NYTSE. All of that busy-ness, all of that energy. Glass's soundtrack, which I find unlistenable on CD, is perfectly matched to the visuals, most particularly during the more manic sequences.

Looking at Reggio's cityscape montages I felt how someone from the 1890s might feel seeing our urban centers at night from above; a bit surprised at the brightness and bustle, but a bit disappointed in how things have turned out.

I must note how derivative Baraka was, even to the point of stealing some clever visual metaphors from Koyaanisqatsi. I still like Baraka, though.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Check it Out

Virginia Monologues on!

from the Bhagavad-Gita

The Sixteenth Teaching:

Demonic men cannot comprehend
activity and rest;
there exists no clarity,
no morality, no truth in them.

...lost to themselves
with their meager understanding,
these fiends contrive terrible acts
to destroy the world.

Subject to insatiable desire,
drunk with hypocrisy and pride,
holding false notions from delusion,
they act with impure vows.

In their certainty that life
consists in sating their desires,
they suffer immeasurable anxiety
that ends only with death.

...obsessed by desire and anger,
they hoard wealth in stealthy ways
to satisfy their desires.

"I have gained this wish today,
and I shall attain that one;
this wealth is mine,
and there will be more.

I have killed that enemy,
and I shall kill others too;
I am the lord, I am the enjoyer,
successful, strong, and happy.

I am wealthy, and wellborn,
without peer,
I shall sacrifice, give, rejoice."

So say men deluded by ignorance.

These hateful, cruel, vile
men of misfortune, I cast
into demonic wombs
through cycles of rebirth.

Monday, August 01, 2005

At Last

Yahtzee's reign of terror is over--four straight victories and then Friday an ignominous third place finish. Sure, B and I had to co-ordinate, and I had literally to sacrifice myself to rid the world of this pestilential scourge, but it was worth every minute. Chasing Yahtzee's armies out of Eastern Europe and Asia and finally destroying him in New Guinea cost me dearly and left me defenseless against B's red horde. I was quickly eradicated, but felt justified in claiming to have met my goals. Yahtzee saw the writing on the wall rather early. He was cut off and had little hope of re-enforcement when he launched a peculiar campaign against Stewie, going to the effort of wiping Stewie off the board and leaving himself more vulnerable to my onslaught.

Early on Yahtzee and I actually worked together, albeit grudgingly, to try and halt B's startling advance. We took turns knocking him out of Alaska and Central America to prevent him garnering extra re-enforcements, but our detente was short-lived. As it should be.

And, yes, your assessment of four thirty-somethings playing Risk on a Friday night, sipping red wine and passing the duthcie down the left hand side is indeed correct.


This is the best John Waters film since the Divine era, and is an interesting bridge between his latest "cute" work (Pecker, Serial Mom, etc.) and the radically vulgar stuff (Female Trouble, Pink Flamingos). Harford Road in Baltimore is the setting for Waters' own salvo in the culture wars, as a sect of divinely inspired sex addicts (including Johnny Knoxville, Selma Blair, and Tracy Ullman) fuck themselves silly. Meanwhile, a group of impotent/unorgasmic nay-sayers (the Neuters) fight back.

Lots of in-jokes make A Dirty Shame fun, including a teasing portrayal of DC expats moving into Baltimore and lovingly restoring the Formstone on their new home, and a guy so disgusted with the degenerates on Harford Road that he says "Christ, I'm moving to Towson." I've always had a crush on Ullman, so seeing her perv out was a treat. Chris Isaak is great, as are the Waters regulars (Patty Hearst, Mink Stole, etc).

I still wish John would let himself go and make something truly disgusting again--as raunchy as it is, A Dirty Shame is still mostly cute and mostly harmless, but the David Hasselhoff cameo alone is worth the price of admission!

And speaking of cute and mostly harmless:

Cha liked this more than I, mostly because she related to its daughter-of-immigrants experience angle. I've seen so many of these sport movies with an outsider struggling for acceptance that they fail to register, but Bend It Like Beckham has a certain charm nonetheless. I really liked the DVD bonus material with an Aloo Ghobi cooking lesson.