Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina, Welcome To Houston

For those of us who live on the Gulf Coast, this is no time to spin humorous yarns. The reality of what has happened to New Orleans -- only 350 miles away from here -- is beginning to sink in. That entire city is, someday, going to have to be rebuilt from the ground up.

And now that we know all of the refugees in the filthy, sweltering Superdome are coming to the Astrodome -- only THREE miles from where I live -- the reality of Hurricane Katrina has just moved into my backyard.

Now, under the circumstances I can't object to 25,000 homeless people moving into my neighborhood. But the Astrodome is literally only 200 feet from Reliant Stadium, where the Texans play. And football season is starting. That means we'll have 75,000 well-heeled football fans and 25,000 homeless Louisianans right next door to each other for eight Sundays this fall. What will that mean, exactly? It will be interesting to see how that develops.

And as the looters -- folks, they're criminals -- get evacuated from New Orleans, will they be coming to the Astrodome too? Now THAT, I'm not going to be very happy about.

I'm glad Houston can help out New Orleans in this time of crisis. But Hurricane Katrina just became intensely personal to me, and I don't yet know how I feel about it. I guess we'll find out in the next couple of weeks.

posted by Gary @ 12:17 PM 1 comments links to this post

Monday, August 29, 2005

Stupid People In The Big Easy

Certainly, nobody wishes harm to the people who escaped from New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit this morning. And of course, everyone's thoughts are with those people who, either due to lack of resources or ill health, had to hunker down and try to ride out the storm in place. About ten thousand of them made it to the Superdome.

But there's probably 80,000 people in the area south of Lake Pontchartrain who thought they could beat Mother Nature at her own game. Those people are officially STUPID. And it's hard to feel compassion for people who possess such profound stupidity.

From the AP, here: WGNO reporter Susan Roesgen reported that New Orleans police had received more than 100 reports of people trapped on their roofs.

I think I usually have a fair amount of compassion, but if I were answering the phones at the New Orleans Police Department this morning, I'd be fighting the urge to hang up on these idiots. "You're stuck on your roof? Sorry, we're not coming to get you. There's a hurricane blowing out there, and we're not risking our lives just to save your incredibly stupid ass. You had your chance yesterday. See ya." >click<

"I'm not doing too good right now," Chris Robinson told the AP via cell phone from his home east of the city's downtown. "The water's rising pretty fast. I got a hammer and an ax and a crowbar, but I'm holding off on breaking through the roof until the last minute. Tell someone to come get me please. I want to live."

Tell us, Mr. Robinson, did you want to live when your mayor and governor went on the air yesterday morning and told all New Orleans residents to GET THE HELL OUT? If you had no car, did you call the police yesterday afternoon and ask them to move you to a shelter? Or were you one of the thousands of morons who figured "My home is my castle, and I'll stay with my castle" (at least, until your castle took on ten feet of water)?

I'm reminded of the story of the devoutly-religious gentleman who was placidly rocking away on his front porch as the hurricane approached. The police came by and said, "We've got to get you out of here now!" The man refused, saying, "God will take care of me." When the flood waters rose and the man had to take refuge on his roof, the National Guard came by in a boat and said, "The levees are about to burst! Get in!" The man waved them away, shouting, "God will take care of me." And as the waves covered the roof of the house, the man was perched atop his chimney as an Army helicopter hovered overhead. The soldiers dropped a rope ladder as one shouted through a bullhorn for the man to climb up. "God will take care of me," the man muttered as he sat there.

And when the flood waters had covered the chimney, the man found himself in Heaven, facing God. "God, I don't understand," the man complained. "I was certain that You would take care of me." God glared at the man. "What do you want from me? I sent you the police, a National Guard boat and an Army helicopter. Schmuck."

I share God's disdain.

posted by Gary @ 1:32 PM 1 comments links to this post

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Things The MSM Didn't Tell You

Ripped from headlines around the glove are these masterpieces of journalistic effluent, which Fox News didn't see fit to share with the rest of us. Hmm ... maybe Fox is onto something ...


From Sri Lanka: Two doves freed at the launch of the Prime Minister's presidential election campaign Friday were killed instantly when they flew into a ceiling fan, police said.

There was a similar accident involving a dove in June last year when the Public Security Minister tried to free a dove at the launch of multinational UN peacekeeping exercise, but the bird was already dead after being too tightly squeezed.

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves ...


From Cleveland's WEWS NewsChannel 5: A Garfield Heights woman is in trouble with the law after being accused of making dozens of false complaints against several of her neighbors.
Police say they have a long list of false complaints she filed over the years against her neighbors, numbering 79 complaints in all.

Her main targets were her next-door neighbors. The charges she made against them ranged from trespassing, to child abuse, to "engaging in unnatural acts with their animals."

This lady kind of makes Gladys Kravitz look like the Welcome Wagon, doesn't she? (That's an obscure nosy-neighbor reference piggybacked onto an obscure neighborhood-welcome reference. Two points for me.)


From Johannesburg, South Africa: The hunt is on for three women who ambushed a 30-year-old man and forced him to have sex with them at gunpoint.

Rape is almost never funny. Almost. But in this case, if this guy was "physically able" to have sex with three women while staring down the barrel of a gun, he's got the weirdest fetish I've ever heard of in my life. Surely, he has a lucrative career waiting for him in the American porn biz ...


From the AP: The late comedian Chris Farley has been honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.

Fans, friends and family surrounded Farley’s star, the walk’s 2,289th, in front of the Improv Olympic West theater where the actor used to perform. Among other celebrities in attendance were "Saturday Night Live" alums Chris Rock and Adam Sandler. "I think every fat comedian owes him 80 bucks that’s working today," Rock said.

Farley had about a five-year career in television and movies -- about one-eighth the length of the career of Walter Koenig, best known as Chekov from the original "Star Trek". Every other core member of the "Star Trek" cast (except for the security guards in the red shirts, which got killed in horrible ways by the special-guest-monster in every episode) has a star on the Walk of Fame. Not Koenig. C'mon, Johnny Grant, what are you waiting for? NAME A STAR AFTER SOMEONE YOU LOVE! (It'll be recorded in book form in the U.S. Copyright Office ...)

posted by Gary @ 9:58 PM 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Lunatic Fringe Strikes Again

I have long been of the opinion that one out of every 12 people in the United States is a stark-raving lunatic. I seem to remember reading a poll once that asked, "If you were given a choice between winning the lottery or having your eyes gouged out with red-hot pokers, which would you choose?" Eight percent chose the red-hot pokers.

That eight percent is what I call the "lunatic fringe", and politics has nothing to do with it. It's the people who do things that the other 11-out-of-12 of us cannot begin to comprehend.

Take, for example, this story from the Boston Globe: A 19-year-old man, who was supposed to be cleaning up a cemetery as part of court-ordered community service (after he broke into an apartment building), allegedly broke into a sealed Civil War-era mausoleum, pulled apart a skeleton, and played with the bones. AND TOOK PICTURES OF HIMSELF DOING SO.

"It's bizarre, absolutely bizarre," said Lieutenant Richard Siemasko of the Newburyport police. "I can't even imagine what was in his head. This is just a whole new level of weird for me."

A phenomenon which I now call "the April Winchell effect" (which leads one to make snarky comments that are wholly inappropriate to the subject matter at hand) overcame me when I reached this paragraph further down the story:

Jennifer Williams, 16, said it was the talk of the city. "Everyone has been talking about it," she said. ''It's so gross. Why would you want to play with old bones?"

Jenn, I think you might want to direct that question to Anna Nicole Smith ...

(Oh, I'm a-goin' to hell for that one. But it was worth it.)

posted by Gary @ 3:00 PM 4 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sam's Club & Wholesale Head Shop

I was shopping at Sam's Club today (the wholesale-club arm of Wal-Mart, Incorporated) and among the items I picked up was the 55-gallon drum of Cascade dishwashing liquid. (Okay, so it's not that big, but when I picked it up it felt as if it were 55 gallons. What can I say, I'm a wimp.) I made my way to the checkout register and put my items on the conveyor, including the bottle of Cascade.

The checker looked at me and asked me if I was over 18.

Now, I'm a 42-year-old guy with a beard, over six feet tall, with age bags under my eyes. I haven't been carded for anything in over 20 years -- let alone dishwashing detergent. I seriously considered responding with a smart-assed answer, until I realize that TSA agents at the airport ask you stupid questions all the time, and if you don't answer seriously and truthfully, you might end up in a holding cell with some of the babies whose names are on the "no-fly" list. Since I didn't want to deal with unsmiling security guards at that moment (the frozen shrimp would certainly thaw), I paused for an appropriately disdainful length of time, then simply responded, "Yes."

With that, the checker burst out with a laugh and chortled, "I can't believe they make us ask that!"

It turns out that, when you buy large quantities of dishwashing liquid (and at Sam's Club, what other quantities do they have?), the checkers are now required to ask you for your age. What the teller told me was that kids were now lacing their marijuana with Cascade before rolling it into joints, to get some kind of higher high.

This struck me as rather silly, but hey, who am I to question Wal-Mart? After all, the company wants us to Buy American (assembled from parts manufactured in other countries), loves the mom-and-pop merchants of Small-Town America, and values the contributions of our nation's labor unions. If they want to card us for buying dish detergent, hey, shouldn't I just take it at face value?

Well ... no.

When I got home with my shrimp and my "drug paraphernalia", I turned to the trusty Internet to find out the truth of this. Here is what I learned during my tour of the marijuana-growing websites out there:

o A few drops of dishwashing detergent added to water, or to an organic pesticide, will help kill spider mites, which seems to be the bane of marijuana growers. Apparently, the soap breaks the water's surface tension and makes it cling to the tiny mites better.

o Dishwashing liquid seems to be able to keep drug-sniffing dogs from detecting large quantities of marijuana. (Or so this lady thought; she got busted anyway.)

o Drinking liquid soap or dishwashing fluid is frequently used by employees to mask their pot consumption on workplace drug tests. (It doesn't seem to work very well, though; seems it will make the urine specimen cloudy.)

Couldn't find anything about kids lacing their weed with Cascade, though. Maybe that's what the checker at Sam's was on.

And by asking for proof of age, might Wal-Mart be implicitly encouraging marijuana use in their customers over the age of 18? Someone report this to the Dubya Administration, quickly. I'm sure we can get dishwashing liquid on the list of controlled substances in no time flat.

posted by Gary @ 8:43 PM 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Assassination: It's The Christian Thing To Do

I bandy about my share of insults, but I reserve the term "crackpot" for people who really ARE crackpots. ("Crack" + "pot" = ... hmmm, there's some drug-addled significance there, apropos of something. But I digress.) Calling someone a "certifiable crackpot" is not something I think should be taken lightly.

But then again, neither is calling for the assassination of a sovereign leader that you disagree with.

Pat Robertson is a certifiable crackpot. There, I said it.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate (of whom Al Franken did a killer impression of on "Saturday Night Live" a bunch of years ago), called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, here.

"You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop."

Let me flip through my Bible here ... plagues, locusts, thou shalt not, thou shalt not-- ah, here it is. Exodus 20:13. "Thou Shalt Not Kill." Now gee, there's gotta be a footnote here somewhere carving out exceptions for political threats ... nope, can't find one. Sorry, Pat.

"We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," Robertson continued. "It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Wouldn't it be even easier to have someone escort Rev. Robertson to the looney bin, where he belongs?

posted by Gary @ 12:17 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 22, 2005

Vegas: What Happens Here, Is Actually Pretty Dull

In a week and a half, I'm off to Las Vegas to attend a friend's wedding. Yep, you read that right: Labor Day Weekend. The town will be jammed with vacationing Californians. So do us both a favor, and just stay the hell out of my way.

I lived in Las Vegas for two years, in the mid '90s. While I was there, Steve Wynn was building a huge Tuscan-style villa and lake (complete with dancing waters, which would be fine if they weren't dancing to Celine Dion songs) in the middle of the Strip. Since then, Kirk Kerkorian foreclosed on the villa and the lake, and Stevie W. built a mountain in the middle of the Strip. I fully expect Michael Gaughan to put Wynn back on the street soon enough ... but then, what will we call Wynn's big brown edifice at the corner of Sands and Las Vegas Boulevard South?

Vegas is proof of the concept, "It bloody well IS the heat, not just the humidity." Vegas heat sneaks up on you. Once, when I was living there, it was 115 degrees one summer afternoon. I wandered outside for a few minutes to rescue some object from my car before it liquefied, bubbled and burst into flame. I returned to the sanctity of my air-conditioned abode and couldn't figure out why my clean shirt suddenly had white stains on it. Then it hit me. In the short time I had been outside, I was sweating profusely, but I didn't know it because my perspiration dessicated as soon as it was exposed to the air. The white stains were the salt distilled from my sweat.

That's what Vegas heat does to you. (That, and the fact that it bakes enough brain cells for you to think, ten years later, that someone would find that anecdote amusing.)

The key to having an interesting time in Vegas (as opposed to a GOOD time, which my wife has just by parking her ass in front of a nickel slot machine and watching the wheels spin with something approaching manic glee) is to get away from the Strip, get away from Fremont Street, and actually see the city. (Not that there's much to see; apart from those two areas of town, the tallest building in the city is eight stories. And the "Spaghetti Bowl" is nothing more than the intersection of two freeways, where somebody was too stupid to just build a cloverleaf and be done with it. The Orange Crush, it ain't.)

I found Vegas to be the place dreams go to die. (Sounds pretty depressing, doesn't it? Yet quite profound, if I do say so ...) There are at least two bars, complete with video poker machines, on every major street corner. There are more mobile home parks in Las Vegas than in the entire state of Alabama, only they have walls around them so they look a bit more like "residential communities". (Yeah ... "residential communities" that are a block square.) And there's a lot -- a LOT -- of baked brown dirt.

Still, within an hour's drive of Vegas, you have Red Rock Canyon to the west and Valley of Fire to the east (both of which raise the desert to high art). You have Mount Charleston to the north (a ski resort an hour from Las Vegas? The hell you say!) and Hoover Dam the other way. And, everywhere you look ... well, there's dirt.

I'm not looking forward to the heat, but I am looking forward to the wedding. I know a little bit about weddings in Vegas. Because that's where Karen and I got hitched. (And "hitched" is the perfect word to describe it.)

You must understand that Karen's approach to life is a lot like mine: Don't take yourself too damn seriously. And, being the second marriage for both of us, we had both done the "big wedding" fiascos. This wedding was going to be for us. So, we were going to make it the campiest wedding we had ever heard of. We invited nobody. We rented a convertible, both of us wearing jeans and casual shirts, and Karen pinned a veil to her hair. The veil billowed in the wind as we drove.

After a brief stop at McDonald's (just to finish our preparations), we pulled into a wedding chapel on the Strip. This one is famous for its drive-thru wedding window. We drove into the "Tunnel O' Vows", and gazed upon the cherubs and stars painted upon the canopy. (We nearly rammed the chapel wall while trying to read the inspirational message that wove through the cherub-star display. Whose idea was it to put a hard right turn there, anyway?) We pulled in behind a group of Harley bikers, who were finishing up their own ceremony. I think one biker was marrying another. Knowing Harley lovers, though, he might have been marrying his bike. I never found out the truth.

After discreetly passing the McDonald's bag to the "teller" at the window, we placed our order. "One wedding to go," we said, "and we'd like fries with that." We giggled as though we had invented the funniest joke in the world. The teller balefully glanced at us, as though we were the fifth couple that day to pull said stunt. The minister appeared, and while a kindly stranger took photos of the ceremony, we became husband and wife. Then the minister gave us our wedding fries. We toasted our nuptials with a small Diet Coke.

Since no one was behind us and we had use of the Tunnel O' Vows for a bit longer, we got out of the car and set up shop on the rear spoiler. I have a wonderful photo of my bride and me cutting into the wedding Hot Apple Pie, and feeding it to each other. (We tried freezing a piece for our first anniversary, but after a while, months-old Hot Apple Pie was just too disgusting to keep in the house. Sentimentality be damned.)

Then, we roared off into the sunset -- or at least, we tried to. Shortly after we pulled out on Las Vegas Blvd. heading downtown, a road rage incident erupted in front of us: woman in the car was cutting off guy in the truck, guy in truck whips in front of her, slams on the brakes, and gets out of the truck with fists clenched. Being newlyweds with other items on our agenda, we opted not to hang around to watch the fun. Ah well ...

The wedding we'll be attending just before Labor Day is going to be at the top of the Stratosphere Tower. It'll be a windy summer afternoon, and I'm expected to wear a suit. In 115-degree heat. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that.

Oh ... and this is the bride's fourth marriage. This might end up featuring more fireworks than that road rage incident.

(If they think they're gonna get me on that roller coaster, they're nuts ...)

posted by Gary @ 6:02 PM 0 comments links to this post

Friday, August 19, 2005

Oh Dear God, Please Make It Stop

From the AP, here: Kelly Monaco will defend her dancing title against John O’Hurley on September 20th. That’s when they’ll go toe-to-toe for "Dancing with the Stars: Dance-Off" on ABC.

Sweet fancy Moses, it's a rematch. Will the madness never stop?

It wasn't enough that the first six weeks of this show (an air-conditioned version of "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!") was very clearly rigged in Ms. Monaco's favor. Look at her competition. Rachel Hunter: looked like she was in labor most of the time. Joey McIntire: not bad, but he's no John O'Hurley. Evander Holyfield: 'nuff said. And Trista Sutter: ugh.

And then there was Mister Smooth, O'Hurley himself, who returns for the rematch. The guy who exudes refinement and class. The guy who glides across the floor, obviously having a blast (which is what dancing is all about). The guy who SHOULD have won. And over there, holding her winner's trophy in one hand and her costume top in the other, is Ms. Monaco, snotty attitude oozing from every pore of her flesh.

Consensus popular opinion is that John-O won. Yet on the final show, the three dance judges (one of whom was Fook Yu from "Austin Powers: Goldmember", so I guess we know how qualified THAT panel was), in a moment of absurd theater that rivaled anything on "The Gong Show", gave Kelly the first perfect "10s" of the entire series. (Kelly Monaco: the Nadia Comaneci of the ballroom dancing world. Chew on that for a moment.)

Pop quiz: Which of these six "celebrities" stars on a current ABC show? Oh, just guess, go ahead. Can you say "cross-promotion"? Can you say "rigged like the carnival midway games"? (Not like I think a lot of "Dancing" viewers would tune in to see "General Hospital" just because Kelly won, but we all know TV execs don't think like the rest of us.)

So, on September 20th, John-O and Monaco will tango and meringue (that's not a dance, that's a dessert topping) and waste another hour of our lives as they have a "dance-off". And the judges will be there, but they won't get to vote. Only YOU, the television viewer, shall choose the winner! And on September 22nd, there will be another show, where they will annouce the winner but only after they run clips from ALL THE PRECEDING FRICKIN' SHOWS.

Makes you pine for "Fear Factor", doesn't it?

To me, the worst part is not the dancing. It's Tom Bergeron. For some reason that I can't explain, the mere sight of the man makes my skin crawl. No, literally. My skin tries to leave my skeleton and go someplace where it won't be exposed to Tommy Boy.

Don't get me wrong. Bergeron was fine as host of "Hollywood Squares". Of course, with that show, he had a tight production structure and funny people to play off of. Not a lot of ad-libbing came from the host's podium. It was about the time that Bergeron took over as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" -- a show so vapid that it twisted Bob Saget's face into that of a man in the middle of a perpetual root canal -- that Tom really started to get on my nerves. Was it the pithy, unscripted wisecracks? The smarmy smile? Personally, I think it was the Flowbee haircut. But whatever the reason, it became obvious that the mere sight of him made my hand twitch for the TV remote.

Now, the problem is that "Dancing With The Stars" was a live show. And you'd think Bergeron, as a long-time radio morning host, might be a good choice to improvise his way through this minefield of Evander, Trista and Fook Yu. Well, if you like the annoying, smug smile on Dubya's face most of the time, you'll love Bergeron's. Smug and annoying and very proud of the one-liners he's tossing off on national TV, the only difference between the two (apart from Tom's much stronger command of the English language) is the knowledge that Tom Bergeron isn't going to declare war on any Middle Eastern countries anytime soon. (North Korea, he might.)

When "Dancing With The Stars" returns for its next installment -- and you know it will -- can we please, please, PLEASE GOD PLEASE make the new host ... John O'Hurley? Because he's vastly more entertaining than Tom Bergeron. And he did a good job hosting "To Tell The Truth". And best of all, he's actually played the game, so he can provide an ex-jock's insightful analysis.

But most of all, he's got a MUCH better haircut than Tom Bergeron.

posted by Gary @ 12:51 PM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Frightening Facts & Meandering Musings

There is no better value for your entertainment dollar than the news. Here are some items ripped from today's headlines:


A fish caught in an east German lake near the Polish border not only got off the hook but also lured a 46-year-old fisherman to his death, police in the eastern town of Eisenhuettenstadt said Tuesday.


A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far as to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line.


From the Houston Chronicle: Gene Simmons, of the rock band KISS, was not born with the name Gene Simmons. His birth name was Chaim Witz, and he was born in Tirat Ha-Carmel, Israel. Who knew?

It does not appear that his tongue has been circumcised. Makes you wonder how observant Chaim really is.


I've been getting a lot of spam lately (as I always do), and one subject header keeps appearing over and over, and now it's keeping me awake nights:

Who was the marketing genius who thought up Cialis SOFT TABS? It would not seem that you'd want an erectile dysfunction drug and the word "soft" anywhere near each other ...

During the 2004 Super Bowl, while the rest of the world was fixated on Janet Jackson's nipple flash, nary a peep was heard about Mike Ditka shilling for ... Levitra. (I'll pause while you try to get that mental image out of your mind.) But it wasn't bad enough that "Iron Mike" was pitching pills that turn men into crowbars. Then he had to start pitching footballs -- through a tire swing.

My wife and I were impressed by the magnificent subtlety of a aging jock throwing tight spirals through the center of the tire swing and screaming "OH, YES!" after every throw. If memory serves (we were laughing too hard to count accurately), the commercial featured three tosses in a row, from three different angles. Not to mention three screams of "OH, YES!"

I bet nobody tried to tell Ditka about no damn "soft tabs", nosiree ...

posted by Gary @ 6:19 PM 0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 15, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: Part Of Our Administration's Policy

If you're reading this, you're someone who draws their own conclusions regarding politics and the way of the world, rather than someone who passively swallows whatever propaganda Fox News ladles into your mouth.

In other words, you're an intellectual and a free thinker. Why do you hate America? (But I digress.)

So I'm certain you already know about Cindy Sheehan, who has spent the past ten days in a field outside our Dubya-in-Chief's Crawford, Texas ranch. (Footnote: Texas is a big state. Please don't presume that just because King George II was born here, and for some inexplicable reason was elected governor here, that he reflects the sensibilities of anyone else in Texas. Except, of course, for the oil men. And the cattle ranchers. And the bankers, and the defense contractors-- On the other hand, forget I said anything.)

(Footnote 2: But we DO have the best barbecue on the planet, and not even Bush can screw that up. Anyway ...)

Ms. Sheehan only wants a few minutes of Dubya's time to ask an admittedly-loaded question: "Why did you kill my son?" And if I were Shrub, I wouldn't want to answer that question either, because no direct answer is acceptable. But if I were Shrub, I would most definitely want to appear sympathetic to her plight. I would want her to look less sympathetic, and to defuse that, I'd give her 15 minutes of my time and get her the hell out of my face, and out of the public eye. She has publicly said that's all it would take to shut her up, so by gum, I'd swallow hard and do it.

What I wouldn't do is try to make her appear less sympathetic by having my minions attack her. But true to form, that's the tack Dubya took, and also true to form, boy, have things backfired.

And, true to form again, Bush just flat doesn't care.

We can presume that Krauthammer, Malkin, Drudge and Barnes got to their positions at the top of the right-wing ink-smeared dung heap by having some modicum of intelligence. (Footnote 3: Notice that I did not include Bill O'Reilly in that list of names. I still think the only reason O'Reilly has such a big soapbox to stand on is because he has pictures of Rupert Murdoch sharing conjugal relations with a wallaby. Intelligence has nothing to do with his popularity, and Bill O proves it every time he opens his mouth.) And with a smidgen of intelligence, one would think that to paint the mother of a soldier killed in battle -- by any definition of anyone of any political stripe, a "war hero" -- as a treasonous, anti-American political shill, would be a big mistake.

Well, as I pointed out in my previous blog entry, "mistake" is no longer in the vocabulary of the Ruling Party. If something turns out to be wrong, say it anyway. Say it loudly enough and assume it somehow becomes the truth. And that's exactly what they're doing to Cindy Sheehan.

And as of yesterday, it got worse.

Yesterday (Sunday), one of Dubya's Crawford neighbors (who also happens to be one of Ms. Sheehan's neighbors, at least until Shrub comes to his senses or goes back to Washington, whichever comes first and don't bother placing any bets) fired a shotgun during a prayer service at "Camp Casey" (named for the lost son).

Larry Mattlage told sheriff's deputies and the Secret Service, "I aint threatening nobody, and I aint pointing a gun at nobody. This is Texas." He said he fired his gun in preparation for dove-hunting season but when asked if he had another motive, he said, "Figure it out for yourself."

Oh, great ...

It's not enough that Ms. Sheehan has had to deal with the intellectual crackpots of the airwaves. Now she's got to deal with the physical crackpots, who just happen to be heavily armed. This is Texas, after all. (And because Mattlage was on his own property and fired his gun into the air, over his own property, it's entirely legal. Because it's freakin' Texas. I'm so proud.)

Now, Dubya has (as usual) backed himself into a corner. He can't meet with Ms. Sheehan now, because then he would be perceived as caving in to her demands. It would mean that he made a mistake by not visiting with her at the beginning of her vigil. And, as we have learned, George W. Bush has NEVER MADE A MISTAKE IN HIS LIFE. Just ask him.

On the other hand, if he continues to snub Ms. Sheehan, the right-wing hacks will continue to attack her. Which will make the Republican Party look even more like the party of insensitive cretins who never know when to stop piling on. Which could cost the GOP some political support, and maybe even some votes -- maybe even too many to allow the Pubs to steal another national election. Which could cost them control of Congress, or the White House, or both.
Guess which option Dubya will choose? Of course he's going to choose his usual path of arrogance, opting to save face even at the potential cost of his party's leadership role. Because Bush doesn't care; he's got his, and future generations of politicians can fend for themselves.

Ahhh ... "fend for themselves"? Do you see where my point is going?

The Dubya Administration is handling the Sheehan matter exactly the same way it has handled everything else that has crossed its path. Whether it's Alaskan oil drilling, war in Iraq, global warming, or running up the national debt (remember that? It's where all the federal budget deficits get lumped together for future collection, and gosh why don't we ever hear about that anymore?), what matters most to this president is getting what HE wants. Cindy Sheehan doesn't enter into that equation. And neither do the rest of us.

So, what about the American people whom Dubya is supposed to represent? What are we supposed to do as our nation and our planet are stripped for parts? How are we and our children supposed to survive?

Well, Bush did argue for NASA funding to send us to Mars. Now I think I've figured out why. And if we want a place for future generations to survive, it looks like we'd better get on the stick ...

posted by Gary @ 12:11 PM 0 comments links to this post

Why Do I Hate Freedom?

George Orwell, of course, was right. He was just off by about 20 years.

In Orwell's book 1984, written on the walls of the Ministry of Truth, were three slogans:


Those slogans are being carved over the White House portico even as we speak.

Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the face of patriotism has been changing. No longer is it enough to hold your hand over your heart and recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" with a tear in your eye. Knowing the proper way to display and dispose of the American flag is now passé. Dubya and his minions have redefined patriotism for all time.

We learned during the 2004 presidential election that serving with valor in combat doesn't save you from being called a "traitor", even when the people orchestrating that chant are draft-dodging chickenhawks. And now, with Cindy Sheehan being snubbed by "her" President and vilified by the right-wing talking heads, losing a son in combat isn't even enough to make you a Good American. No, you must agree with everything our Dubya-in-Chief says, thinks and does, or you shall be taken to the town square, pilloried, and have rotten fruit thrown at you.

One of my "Friends" on MySpace asked a darn good question in her own blog. Lil' Sucka wrote: "When did dissent become treason"?

Oh, sometime around 9/11. Now, if we had learned nothing from Bush/Rove's attacks on John McCain's service record during the 2000 presidential race, we learned that under Shrub, dissent would have become treason soon enough, but people would have had to have been persuaded. Minds would have had to have been molded. Media would have had to have been manipulated. Those kinds of mass brainwashing usually take a lot of time.

Al-Qaida pulled it off for him in an hour and ten minutes.

And although Bush/Rove have proven they are capable of a lot of terrible things, even I don't think they orchestrated the attacks of 9/11 in a bid to consolidate power. But don't think for one second that Bush hasn't thanked his lucky stars for nigh on four years now that it happened. And if you think he really feels any sense of loss for those thousands of lives that have happened on his watch, just look at Ms. Sheehan, standing out in that field, waiting for someone without a media credential to pay attention to her from across the electrified fence.

They say that if God did not exist, man would have had to invent Him. And, in a way, I believe that if 9/11 hadn't happened, Bush would have had to invent something similar to it, even if it had just been a pipe bomb at a vacant bus stop, just to scare the bejeezus out of us. I don't want to believe that, but I believe it nonetheless.

As it is, Dubya and Rove have been using 9/11 the way DeNiro's Al Capone used a baseball bat in the movie "The Untouchables", beating us all mercilessly about the head and shoulders with it until we submit peacefully. I'm sure the families of those who perished on that horrible day are thrilled that their loved ones are all being recalled as good, God-fearing Republicans who would want Dubya to continue playing with his green plastic Army men. (Never mind that most of them were Democrats or foreign nationals.) We shall wave the Stars & Stripes over Iraq -- why did we even bother with Afghanistan, again? -- in memory of those whom Saddam Hussein may have conspired with the Taliban, al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden, and Al Franken to kill.

Oh, did I say "Al Franken"? Is Al Franken really an American-hating traitor? According to Bernard Goldberg, yes he is.

Goldberg has written a book called 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken Is #37).
There's an excerpt here. And, when you read the excerpt, it becomes very obvious that Goldberg feels disagreeing with the majority is no longer simple disagreement -- it's treason. Now, we liberal whack-jobs (meaning, anyone to the left of Ann Coulter) had been joking for a while that of course the Right feels "dissent = treason". We joked about it because we didn't want to believe it. We didn't really think they could possibly feel that way. But when you read Goldberg, and Coulter, and listen to Sean Hannity and Michael Savage and their ilk, they don't seem to be joking, do they?

The point is, our political system has devolved to the point that "spin" is no longer the favored method of dealing with unpleasant facts. The newly-preferred method is to ignore them altogether. Pretend they don't exist. Cover your ears and scream la-la-la-laaa loudly. Stick your head in the sand. Because if you pretend hard enough that those facts don't exist, eventually, they sure as hell will disappear.

And if you bring those unpleasant facts up again, you're a traitor. End of story.


Orwell forgot one:


On this topic, add the following blog links (thank you, Eric Alterman, who talks about way too much off-topic stuff for me to link directly to his own MSNBC blog):

Harold Meyerson,

Ariana Huffington,

And Cindy Sheehan herself,

Good stuff, and all directly on-topic with this blog entry. I'm probably going to blog again about Ms. Sheehan today or tomorrow.

posted by Gary @ 12:05 PM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Computers Suck, And Then You Die

My computer is finally back up and running. It took three frickin' days, but the problem turned out to be nothing more than a bad memory card. And for all the flack Microsoft (of course you know, "micro" = small, "soft" = limp) catches about being the Monolithic Wal-Mart Of The Technology World, they really pulled my tail out of the hole. And, as I mentioned before, didn't charge me a cent for it. Kudos to them where it's deserved.

It was Microslob (sorry, old habits die hard, but I'll try to show them more respect from here on out) that helped me isolate the problem. They kept checking back with me, ad nauseam, until they were convinced that my problem was resolved and they could close out the trouble ticket. And yes, my tech's name was Rajneesh, and yes, he's located over there somewhere in Obpurnamsheeshi. (Which makes me wonder why Microscum -- oops, I did it again -- advertises service hours of 5 am to 9 pm Pacific time, when not a soul answering their phones is in any of the American time zones and could only be noshing on beef-free Big Macs during that time period. But once again, I digress ...)

There are lessons to be learned here:

1) While Microsoft's software may suck, their service ain't so damn bad. Even if they have exported thousands of jobs overseas, and even if they do overcharge for beta software, their Indian employees are good eggs. And if they don't stop calling me over and over again to ensure that everything is now all right with my computer, I'm going to start sending them packages of Omaha Steaks and boy, will THAT get their bovine-worshipping attention ...

2) While their service may be good, Windows XP software IS that damn bad. I was one of the first-ever people to use a Mac, and if there were any software worth a damn available for it, I'd still be using one. Windows still crashes without telling you WHY it crashed. At least Macs pointed at you and laughed out loud before going down. (Much like a couple of girlfriends in my past. But again, I digress ...)

3) Yogi Berra said "It ain't over till it's over." Well, with Microslave (oops, sorry), even when it's fixed, it ain't fixed. Now that the file structure on my hard drive has been re-built and now that the drive in question has been de-fragged, it still takes a full SIX MINUTES -- yes, you read that right -- for the Windows splash screen to disappear and my desktop to show up. And I'm stumped. I got no clue why that is. But is it worth another call to New Delhi to figure out the problem? My gut tells me that I had better be happy to have gotten all the free support out of Microvole (dammit, sorry) that I did, and leave well enough alone. (After all, if I can't find the answer on Google, it's not worth having, now is it?)

To summarize: (a) Microsoft is NOT the anti-Christ. (b) Microsoft IS the semi-evil, misunderstood Satan (with the deep baritone singing voice) from the "South Park" movie. (c) Indian nationals are our friends. Just trust me on this. (d) If a sinkhole opened up in Redmond, Washington tomorrow and swallowed the Microsoft campus whole, no one would miss any of them; they've already outsourced every significant job function we need out of them.

And (e): You never really appreciate how important your bank accounts and your internet porn are until you think they're gone forever ...

posted by Gary @ 12:01 PM 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Computers Will Make Our Lives Easier, My Ass

It's 1:30 in the morning, and I've been drowning my sorrows with about a half-dozen beers. (It's okay; I'm big and I'm a Texan, which means I can drink more than the rest of you. Don't try this at home. Besides, I've had those eight beers over about eight hours, so I've kept up with my liver. But, as usual, I digress.)

I've been slurping Anheuser-Busch's finest because I'm trying to drown my sorrows. Because last night, my computer died. And I, generally a techno-savvy kind of information technology savant, can't bring the damn thing back to life.

Did I download a virus? Can I blame this whole thing on Microsoft's sorry excuse for a Windows built-in firewall? Or did my computer just decide to contract PMS and be ornery for five days? As of now, one and a half days into my ordeal, I don't know.

It started yesterday. I was in the middle of work, and I walked away from my PC for an hour. I don't know what the heck I was thinking, because as soon as you give a computer the unsupervised opportunity to play a practical joke on you, it will join the opposing side. And so it did.

All of a sudden, my PC would no longer recognize any of my hard drives. My bank accounts: frozen. My MP3s: disappeared. My work product: inaccessible. And all my internet porn: Oh sweet Jesus, don't get me started.

With the exception of a desperately-needed haircut, I have spent the past 32 hours of my life (not counting sleep; what are you, nuts?) trying to get this computer back into a state where the damn thing will function. My current situation is so bad that (you won't believe this) Microsoft, which generally charges $35 for a service call, REFUNDED MY MONEY. Now, when Microsoft won't take your money, you KNOW you're screwed.

And I am most definitely screwed.

I am so glad God created laptops, because it allows me to share my lament with the rest of the world. But for cryin' out loud, is it too much to ask for the Miracle Of Modern Technology to actually WORK the way it's supposed to?

I mean, when Bill Gates and his minions are taking pity on you, you can pretty much bank on the fact that you're HOSED ...

So, when you're surfing the internet on your perfectly-tuned computer, I hope you will think of those disadvantaged folk whose computers became our enemy. And watch your back. You could be next.

posted by Gary @ 11:59 AM 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings, R.I.P.

Well, it seems like every time I get ready to unleash a humorous rant in your direction, something serious happens that takes precedence. And this is a big one, at least as far as I'm concerned.

The last credible TV news anchor has passed away. Peter Jennings was 67. Lung cancer -- smoking -- killed him.

posted by Gary @ 11:58 AM 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

There's Something About April

If you go back to my MySpace profile, and look in my (very under-populated) Friends list, you'll see the smiling face of a gorgeous brunette. (No, not Tom.) Her name is April. And we've never met, never spoken to each other.

So why do I feel we were separated at birth?

April is an L.A.-area voice actress and radio personality -- you can definitely call her a "celebrity". Now, I've become quite passé about celebrities. I work with many, I'm friends with some, and heck, I even have a couple of them on my cell phone's speed-dial. Celebrities are people too, and most of them -- most of them -- will only act like the stereotypical "celebrity" if that's how you treat them.

(I'll digress for a moment to tell you this story. I was an extra in the film "Casino". There is nothing like working for a day as an extra to shatter the Hollywood glamour mystique for good. The face of the huge casino set that you saw in the movie? Silk-screened canvas. The back? Raw plywood. And our "dressing room" was a concrete parking garage on the premises. We would be herded up to the set when we were needed, and were left in the garage when we weren't.

So, late in the day, I'm standing out in the parking lot, getting some fresh air, and I find myself standing face-to-face with the film's star, Robert De Niro. [Actually, since he's about 5'9", it was more like face-to-Adam's-apple, but that's neither here nor there.] But there was no "BIG STAR" and "little movie extra"; we were two professionals on the set of a film. I nodded at him, and he nodded at me. We smiled. I believe we were about to strike up a conversation.

And then, a rather large female extra comes out of the garage and begins screaming. "OH MY GOD! IT'S ROBERT DE NIRO! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!" [Oh come on, you're working on a Robert De Niro MOVIE! Whom did you expect? Go change your pants and get a hold of yourself!] Needless to say, Mr. D beat a hasty retreat.

The moral of the story: Celebrities are people too. Treat them like a celebrity, and don't be surprised if they act like one. Treat them like a person and they'll respond like a person. [Except for Tom Cruise. That guy's just nutty as a Zagnut bar.] Anyway, back to April ...)

I found April's website when her father, a former TV star, passed away. I had been a fan of his, and knew of April only from some of her voice work. So, when her father died, I punched up her name on Google and ended up at -- and was shocked to read that she was getting hate mail from fans of her father. In response, April wrote a blog entry that I thought was one of the most inspired, most brilliant essays I had ever read. Mustering more tact and diplomacy than I ever could have under the circumstances, she managed to describe her grief about losing her estranged father, reveal her pain and anger over the hurtful e-mails she had been getting, and gently remind us that what we see on the screen, or hear on the air, is rarely the truth.

She ended her essay with the line, "Please try to forgive me if this causes you unhappiness. I am at a place where it's your life or mine, and I have to save myself." There is so much hurt and anguish buried in that sentence. And at the moment I read that, all I wanted was to give her a long hug.

So, I did something I had never done before: I wrote my first fan letter. And my letter extolled not April's talent or her work, but what I had seen of her personality. She wrote back and we've exchanged a couple of brief e-mails since then.

But I have also had the chance to listen to April's archive of radio shows, which I had never heard live since I'm over 1000 miles away. I have gone through about 60 hours of April's broadcasts in the past month (it's okay, I work at my computer, and listening to April beats listening to Sean Hannity all to hell) and am just flabbergasted at how similar her take on the world, and her sense of humor, is to mine.

Now, for those who know me, it's no secret that I had a difficult childhood; heck, we all did. And for a long time, I was hesitant to talk about it, because we had a roof over our heads and food on our table, and I knew there were kids who had it a lot worse than I did. But what I have learned from April is that you can have a tough, painful childhood even when your family is rich and famous. In fact, it can even be worse for those kids, because nobody wants to believe the horrible truths about someone they idolize. So when the victim speaks out about their famous folks, the public does what people have done for centuries: they attack the messenger. And the pain of the abuse gets compounded, and the victim gets further victimized. And that's something I know a little bit about.

Despite our very different backgrounds, April and I have a lot in common. It has shaped our senses of humor and the way we view the world. I feel connected to her by our pain.

And I still want to give her that long hug. And April, if you're reading this: It is my fondest wish that someday, I will get to.

posted by Gary @ 11:53 AM 0 comments links to this post

Location: Houston, Texas

Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.

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