Sunday, November 27, 2005

Kind words for the President

I know it's been covered to death, but I figured I'd go on the record and get it out of the way. Here's what I think happened about us getting into Iraq. (Getting out is a whole 'nother post.)

George W. Bush came into office with a mad-on against Saddam Hussein. Saddam had not only escaped his Dad's ultimate wrath during Gulf War I - made more embarrassing for the son by the fact that it was his Dad who didn't 'finish the job' - but then years later Saddam actually tried to have his Dad killed. Now that the dutiful son was President, all Saddam had to do was fart wrong to draw America's reprobation. Actually, he didn't even need to do that.

Because before you knew it, 9/11 happened and everybody fell in line behind our banners and flags and goose-stepped patriotically in unison, giving our callow, untested President carte blanche to wage war on the country's enemies at his personal discretion. And by “us,” I mean our elected leaders.

Slam dunk!

So kiss your bottom goodbye, Saddam. How convenient that you're the same skin color and speak the same crazy moon language as the villains who flew airplanes into our skyscrapers. By the time we're done selling this war, nobody will be able to tell the difference between you!

Here are the kind words I have for the President. (Bet you thought I forgot, eh?) I think the Bush administration honestly believed Saddam Hussein was a lot more dangerous than he turned out to be. I think they said, “Let's go in and kick Saddam's ass, produce his WMDs for all the world to see, and all this pre-war spinning will be borne out as truth. No one will look too closely at the details afterward. Winners write the history. Heh heh heh.” They rolled the dice on what everybody agreed looked like a sure bet.

And if Saddam had turned out to be sitting on the apocalyptic cache of state-of-the-art weaponry we were told he was, we'd be carving Mr. Bush's smirking visage onto Mount Rushmore right now.

Instead Saddam turned out to be all moustache and no camel, and now it matters what kind of chicanery led up to the calamitous situation in which we find ourselves. Which facts were embellished, and what exculpatory facts were ignored? What did Mr. Bush know, and when did he know it? And for God's sake, if he didn't know, why not? They say President Clinton had the same flawed intel - why didn't he attack Iraq?

Time will tell, and that's the thing that will doom Mr. Bush's presidency in the long run. Having made such a mess of affairs on the ground in Iraq, Mr. Bush has guaranteed that hearings will be held after his right-wing gang has been elected out of office. He may well escape the long arm of the law (presidential pardons have a rich tradition all their own), but the longer arm of history is certain to give him the spanking he so richly deserves.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Corn-ocopia

As God is my witness, I swore I was going to take a whole day off, and I did. No newspaper-making, no website-retooling, hell I didn't even read email from clients!

Just spent a very casual day full of quality time with the Missus and the Man Cub. Watched a lot of TV, read some comic books, had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat - good Lord, I even took a nap. During the middle of the day!

The sum result being, I did indeed find myself in a thankful frame of mind. Thankful for my family, our health, our relative prosperity… thankful I didn't have to take that miserable ride down the I-5 to do Thanksgiving with the in-laws. I'm sure I will completely and totally fuck up Christmas (which will kick-off with a miserable ride down the I-5), but right now, at this moment, this was a good day.

As usual, Johnny Cash said it best.

Goodnight comb

And goodnight brush...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

“Walk The Line”

Subhead: Hollywood does justice to the love story of Johnny and June Carter Cash. This long-time Cash fan and admirer couldn't be happier.

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon nailed the lead performances. The script was succinct (for a 2+-hour movie), insightful and affecting and the period production design and photography was dead-on. The scenes of Johnny and June with Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, et al on tour together were terrific fun and joyfully wrought. Johnny's dad, Ray Cash, was also especially well-portrayed (as a bag full of assholes) by Terminator 2's Robert Patrick.

Unlike last year's similar effort, “Ray,” this film is less a whole-life-at-a-glance piece and more of a straightforward love story. To accomplish this, whole aspects of Cash's life during the period covered were left by the wayside (his social activism) or just touched upon (the role his Christian faith played in his eventual redemption), but there are certain to be more Cash bio-flicks in the future. If they can address those sides of his life as well as “Walk The Line” does the love story, they will likely be considered successes too.

Some reviewers have tried to make a point about how Johnny's frustration in failing to woo June dovetailed with his pill addiction, but as a junkie myself, I'm telling you that's bullshit. If anything, it was his pill addiction that kept June at arm's length, not vice versa. The single funniest line in the flick may have been when somebody hands Johnny pills for the first time. He looks skeptical till that somebody assures him, “...Elvis takes them!” Camera pans over to a skinny young Elvis, smiling and nodding like a junkie bobblehead doll. Priceless.

Another cool thing about the film is the way it explores the creative process. Songs don't just jump out fully formed, there are a number of scenes detailing the actual sweat and work of birthing a song. And having the leads sing their own parts works surprisingly well. Phoenix gets the gist of Cash's voice (but not the heft, and considering Cash's unique instrument, that's hardly an indictment of Phoenix's effort), and Witherspoon is eerily dead-on impersonating June's too-sweet singing voice. And for God's sake, she learned to play the autoharp for this flick! What's an autoharp? I don't know, but it looks like an accordian whose molecules got scrambled in a teleportation malfunction.

The movie builds... By the time we get to the gig at Folsom Prison, Phoenix's performance absolutely roars. You never really forget you're watching an actor portray Cash (the way you might have watching Jamie Foxx brilliantly mimic Ray Charles in “Ray”) but Phoenix fully inhabits and effectively communicates both the darkness and the light of the magnificent contradiction that was Johnny Cash.

I'm so grateful Hollywood got this one right. In fairness, “Coal Miner's Daughter” is still the gold standard of this genre (I've also heard great things about Eastwood's “Bird,” but that film, sadly, is bound to be saddled with a jazz score that would undoubtedly drive me to distraction), but I would place “Walk the Line” at a solid #2 to CMD.

Friday, November 18, 2005


You know, this season of “Smallville” over on the kids’ net (WB) is totally kicking ass, finally, after a couple seasons of patience-taxing dreck.

This can be attributed directly to two things: One, they’re finally beginning to embrace the canon, the Superman mythology; and two, there’s considerably less Lana Lang. It’s always time for a bathroom break when Clark and Lana have one of their dumb-ass, rote, teen-angst scenes together, and this season she’s been absent from entire episodes!

It’s not that the writers don’t handle romance scenes well, it’s just that the Clark/Lana scenes have zero resonance because we know she’s a dead-ender. We know she isn’t gonna make it and that Clark’s gonna end up with Lois. In spite of the fact that the girl playing Lana is pretty and can sort-of act, she’s necessarily given nothing to do.

It’s been leaked that they’re fixing to kill off a major character this season, but I’m pretty sure vapid Lana Lang will be spared. They’ll probably whack Clark’s buxom blonde galpal Chloe, who a) knows his secret, and b) doesn’t appear anywhere else in fifty-plus years of Superman storylines. Besides which, people on this show who stumble across Clark’s secret tend to meet grisly fates that ensure their discretion.

“Smallville” has always been at its best when it’s been about the relationships between the men (maybe because it's written by men?). Clark and his dad, Clark and Lex and Lex and his dad. The women are window dressing and plot devices. Actually, Lois is beginning to grow on me. I like that she’s not the archetypal damsel-in-distress on this show. She kicks major ass (literally) and really knows how to fill a bikini. She’s definitely growing on me.

And finally, finally Lex Luthor is finally starting to turn evil. Finally! The writers have run from the Superman mythology for way too long and now that they are turning to it in earnest, the show is beginning to realize some of the promise it exhibited in a couple of its earlier seasons.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

We're going to need a cage

It's 12:45 a.m. and the Man Cub just woke up to start his day, which will run, off and on, till about 3 or 4 this afternoon.

Right now he's out kicking things that rattle on his little play gym on the floor in the front room. God only knows what we're going to do with him once he starts moving laterally across horizontal surfaces.

We're definitely going to need a cage. The missus has a fancy dress-up word for it, but a cage is a cage.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pre-Emptive Apocalypse

A couple of headlines jumped off the front page of Christmas Island's newspaper of record this morning. One headline said, "Fiscal train wreck feared - experts say lurking U.S. crisis may spur market plunge, pension losses, lower standard of living."

Well good Lord! That doesn't sound good for the country at all. Certainly the government is mobilizing all its considerable resources to forestall this oncoming fiscal disaster, aren't they? You know, some kind of a “pre-emptive” strike like they're so fond of where the President's Daddy Issues and big oil resources hang in the balance?

As it turns out, no. According to this morning's other notable headline, Mr. Bush has instead opted to allocate his administration's pre-emptive strike resources to rejecting over-the-counter sales of the morning-after birth control pill before the scientists studying its safety have even filed their report.

Shock! Awe!

According to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, the heckuva-job-Brownies selected by Mr. Bush to head the Food and Drug Administration had decided months before the pill's scientific review was completed to reject making it available over the counter.

The economy is in the toilet and getting worse, but that's okay.

The war in Iraq was launched on faked evidence and American boys and girls are dying over there every day, but that's okay.

Iran is just thiiiiis close to having its own nuclear bomb and North Korea already has a handful, but that's all okay too.

What's not okay is allowing little Mary Jane Rottencrotch to sober up in the morning and make her own pre-emptive strike against an unwanted pregnancy. Dunno why - too low a body-count maybe?

This is just the latest example of this administration's actual top priority - the codifying of Christian conservative morality into the law of the land. And look where it's led us, five years in. How many Horseman of the Apocalypse has Mr. Bush already let loose upon the land?

In retrospect, maybe it was a mistake to take someone whose peculiar religious beliefs not only encompass, but encourage the end of the world as we know it, and place him in a position to bring it about.

Not true!

A private poll conducted here at the home den reveals a consistent, unflagging disappointment with this President that began around the time of the vote recount in Florida and has persisted, growing only more pronounced, since then.

(Actually, I can trace it back — for me — to the racial smear campaign Team Bush used to obliterate John McCain with in the Republican primary in South Carolina. At the time, it called to mind the Bill & Hillary Clinton "60 Minutes" appearance where he swore he'd quit chasing skirts. I knew then that he was a philanderer and could reasonably be expected to remain one, and did that disqualify him from being President? I didn't think so. We've had lots of skirt-chasing Presidents who've run their national affairs at least as well as they've run their personal ones. In the same way, after S.C., I knew this Bush fella was a bad egg morally and ethically, and did that disqualify him from being President? Well, I thought "yes" but the American people were split right down the middle and the Supreme Court disagreed with me, so what could I do? I went to ground.)

If I was a proper blogger, I'd have a witty and/or inarticulate rant exposing the Truth Behind The Hypocrisy, but these days ol' Fang is more of a full-time baby wrangler, which only leaves me the energy to freak out about the most immediate outrages, and nothing surprises me any more except that people are FINALLY beginning to see through this President. It must be the political equivalent of realizing that the girl you've been dating for five years is actually a guy named Ed.

All I'm saying is, the missus sent the me the CNN screen-capture above, and I love her for it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Udder Failure

That's what I am. As a mother, I make a good doorstop.

The Man Cub, (Canis Lupus, whom we shall call Lupus) is no longer satisfied with my feeble attempts at child-rearing. Lately, this dissatisfaction manifests itself on the midnight-to-dawn shift when the Missus is trying to catch up some desperately-needed sleep and I am On Call.

That's when he breaks out the new, improved Extreme Fussing.

So I do all the stuff the books say, the stuff that should work, that used to work.

I feed him. I change his diaper. I insert his pacifier orally. I play with his little hands and look into his wide-awake eyes and say ridiculous things like “yaga boogo” while gently rocking him back and forth. I walk around the den with him. I place him inside the plaything-devices he finds so diverting during the daytime. I do everything but slip him a couple of roofies and order him a double shot.

Of course, none of this ever works for longer than 5-15 minutes at a crack, but that's okay because another few minutes have gone by and now it's only four and a half hours till his mother wakes up and I am doing my bit.

No more.

Lupus has added a new trick to his repertoire the last couple nights that I haven't been able to figure out an effective countermeasure to: He shrieks without let-up at paint-peeling volume till I either take him in to his mother, or he passes out. After which he wakes up in a couple minutes, glares balefully at me and starts in with the screaming again.

Not just any screams, either. You know that road to hell they say is paved with good intentions? It sounds like his scream is being dragged over the last 30 miles of that rough road leading right up to the fiery gates themselves. It scrapes off the back of his throat and bursts forth in an undulating wail that would put Iraqi women mourning their war dead to shame.

And I wake his mother up, surrender the Man Cub to her in deepest shame, and slink out, tail between my legs, and comfort the dog, who by this point is right at the edge of a nervous breakdown. Too.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

High Maintenance

That's what our little Man Cub is. Like his daddy, he only needs a few hours of sleep at a time, snatched here and there and then nowhere near as often as a normal human being. Except, and here's the funny part, now his old dad seems to need more sleep than ever.

Ha ha.

Having a new cub around the den is at once a transcendent experience as well as often being just aggravating as hell. The missus and I see eye to eye on most things of consequence so actual conflict between us is rare. The Man Cub, on the other hand, has his own opinions on everything and the most disagreeable instrument in the world for delivering them. Not being able to speak his language, I assume his every blood-curdling howl is a request for something to be placed in his mouth to obstruct the godawful din, usually a pacifier, or failing that, a bottle.

We have purchased every book ever published on child-rearing, and they all assure us that eventually, lines of verbal, language-based communication will open up, and that at that point, the conflict will really begin.