Monday, February 27, 2006

Sarah Vowell Speaks My Mind

Better than I have, which I resent deeply. From today's subscription-only (sorry!) NYTimes column:

Seems as if American voters picked the current president because they thought he'd be a fun hang at a cookout — a jokey neighbor who charred a mean burger and is good at playing Frisbee with his dog. What we should be doing is electing a president with the nitpicky paranoia you'd use to choose a cardiologist — a stunted conversationalist with dark-circled eyes and paper-cut fingertips who will stay up until 3 tearing into medical journals in five languages trying to figure out how to save your life.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vacation-At-Home Log, Days Six and Seven:

Day Six: Holy crap, the vacation continues! And I have a heckuva day of non-essential, Fang-centric activities ahead to waste my time on. Woohoo! Did I mention it’s New Comic Day on the island?

Errata and a mea culpa to boot: Originally, we were supposed to use this vacation time to hit the mainland for a Hobby Convention The Missus had lined up. But as I understand it (and I never really listen too closely when she talks about The Hobby), internecine squabbling in the hobby group either scuttled the whole event, or made her not want to go have to pick sides. Either way. Then we talked about possibly going somewhere else for the weekend and those plans never bore any fruit. Finally, when my time off was staring us in the face, we decided we’d just stay home and enjoy some time together as a family.

Being the lazy lowlife I am, though, I never changed my story for my employer as our vacation plans went through their various permutations, so if anyone asks, we had a great time at the Hobby Convention!

Day Seven: Last Day. Must be extra-specially worthless! To that end…

Back to the media report:

• Ultimate Avengers DVD: Well, this is a fair effort, but nothing more, and that’s a shame. Based on a really, really cool comic book, this animated feature lifts enough of the plot to remain faithful (and thus still kinda cool), but features Saturday-morning animation that renders the whole affair flat and generic. If Marvel had sprung for animation the quality of Disney’s big-screen hand-drawn work, they could have launched a seriously awesome franchise. As it is, it’s background entertainment. It’ll be that kind of bottom-line business perspective that Marvel can be expected to bring to their live action feature films, now that they’re opening up their own live-action film unit. Bummer.

• Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: The 60s TV show is out on DVD. I have fond memories of watching it with my Dad. This first set comes with the “Unaired!!” pilot, which is apparently nothing more than the “aired” version in bright, vivid, basic colors. It looks like it was filmed in color to be broadcast in black & white, which the rest of the episodes are. Like lots of pilot episodes, it’s pretty bad. And it’s worse in color. The color really emphasizes the local community theater-level production values in the B-set designs. They look so fake they could be recycled from “Thunderbirds.” It was probably a goood idea to run with it in black and white when they picked it up. Anything in b/w has an automatic “period” look to it, which will add to its perceived verisimilitude.

But the best part of the pilot is the plot. Both US coasts will be flooded (by earthquakes) unless our heroes detonate what at a certain, specific, hard-to-reach place? That’s right – an atom bomb. For more than 50 years, American cinema’s panacea for all impending disasters, whether natural or man-made: A carefully placed atomic bomb.

• Saw II: By-the-numbers terror/slasher flick. The first one had a kind of visceral, nervous energy that excused the squirm-inducing level of blood & guts. This second one has already devolved into a formula... they even set up the next sequel at the end. Yawwwn.

• Havoc: Some stupid rich-teens-gone-wrong flick with “The Princess Diaries” Anne Hathaway playing the bad girl. I'd never heard of it, either, but the cover art made it look dirty and as it was the last day of my vacation, I decided to take a chance. Cha-ching! The unrated version is generously replete with gratuitous Hathaway (and Bijou Philips!) nudity. Definitely recommended if it's that kind of a day for you, too.

• Veronica Mars season one DVD: Only had time to check out the pilot so far, but it looks good. The gal they have in the lead role is beautiful and looks really smart. I think I’ll follow this one till the end.

• Broke down and called The Office today, just to see how things were going. I was gratified (as well as appalled) at the report of how utterly disastrously terribly things went in my absence. I guess one paper had to reprinted? Twice?? Details sketchy, but job security prospects seem solid.

Well, it’s night seven, and I’m about to go back to infrequently blogging about just stuff that pisses me off. (It's so much easier to write from a place of outrage!) It’s been great fun having nothing better to do with my time, but that time is now officially past.

I feel like I just got to the end of an episode of the old Cosby Kids cartoon – had a little bit of music and a little bit of fun, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t learn something before it was done.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Vacation-At-Home Log, Day Five:

Well, I’m feeling better on Morning Five than I was on Night Four. I’m fighting a serious compulsion to go back in and tear up last night’s entry, just delete the fucker, or re-write it all sunshine and flowers. But I don’t think anyone reads this stuff anyhow, so I may as well be as honest with myself as I can:

I really, really suck, but I work harder at not sucking than almost anyone else I know who sucks as bad as I do.

For instance, I knew going in that this Family Man gig was going to require compromises in the allocation of my personal time; it’s just that some of that acceptance hasn’t been fully integrated yet into the day-to-day behavior of the new and improved Fang. I am, as I have long averred, a work in progress.

I suppose there will always be a part of me that just wants to get away from time to time; to go to ground and stay there till shit starts making sense again. These days, however, shit has to start making sense again without me fleeing said shit. And it’s harder to make sense of shit without the added perspective provided by distance. Up close, shit just looks like shit, you know?

So I’m still looking for a coping mechanism that doesn’t require me dropping the ball on my legitimate family responsibilities, but still enables me to not freak out when the shit we speak of hits the fan. Please feel free to leave your suggestions in the “Comments” area at the bottom of the entry. Winner receives a pony in his or her choice of flavor.

• Getting bored with all my entertainment options, ridiculously vast as they are. My system is – wholly against my will – gearing itself back up to jump back into the work cycle. I must resist that impulse as long as possible! I still have two full days after the MRI for maxin’ and relaxin’. Tomorrow is New Comic Day – I just have to hold out till then…

• Getting ready for my MRI this afternoon. Long-time readers will recall I threw out my left arm from shoulder to fingertips last month – tonight I finally pay the piper. I have to admit to having some trepidation. I figure one of two things will happen: I’ll either go into a Zen state of calm and get through the nerve-wracking ordeal like a champ, or I’ll be freaky and fidgety and they’ll have to do it over and over again and I’ll be entombed in that 21st-century sarcophagus all night long. And all the techs and labcoat jockeys will hate me, too.

• It’s 5 a.m. on Day Six. The MRI went fine. I just closed my eyes and went to a better place (not heaven, but there were angels there). Both The Missus and The Man Cub accompanied me – I am a lucky guy.

And that’s this morning’s revelation. I’m reading about life in Abe Lincoln’s time, and how men usually didn’t live past 45, and a “staggering” amount of women died in childbirth. People had ten kids so maybe four or five would survive to adulthood. Lincoln was a depressive, and he (helpfully?) wrote to one new Civil War orphan:

“…in this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to us all; and to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.”

And it hits me – I am so fucking lucky! Every missed TV show, every minute of lost sleep or delayed work is an absolute blessing. How many people will never get to hold their own flesh and blood in their arms? How many fathers don’t get to see every new stage, every incremental developmental accomplishment in real time? How could I have ever lived without gazing into my son’s bright baby blue eyes through my dull, bloodshot brown eyes at 3:30 in the morning? And oh, that smile…

It’s like the aphorism about clearing the swamp of alligators; I just need to remember this epiphany next time my schedule and/or patience is stretched thin (which time should be circling back around in less than 48 hours).

And having the best Baby Doc in the world is just that extra added layer of security. For the first time in my life, I think that maybe I was born at the right time, too.

I had 40+ years to fuck around and be selfish and gaze at my own naval and ponder my place in the world – now I not only know my place in the world, but I can bounce him on my knee and read Lewis Carroll to him at sunrise, too.

Bush’s Port Deal v National Security

So… The big guy wants to turn over our ports – which firebrands of every political persuasion agree are our current #1 security weakness (the ports, not W) – to a state-owned company in Dubai. Where everybody who runs the joint is Muslim. In a part of the world where Muslims hate our red, white and blue guts. At a time when the additional Abu Ghraib torture photos Bush tried to suppress just got out and Osama is still releasing number one dance hits all over the region.

Gosh no, I don’t see a problem with that. Throwing open our nation’s most unprotected doors to enemies of the state during wartime – what could possibly go wrong? Like every other bad, inept and/or corrupt boneheaded initiative to proceed from Team Bush since Day One, W is insisting this go through or by golly (gasp!) he’ll whip out his Veto pen (say, where is that thing, anyhow?) and take his ball, bat and 55-galllon drums of crude oil and go home.

The problem is, Bush has no more political capital or moral authority to back up his play. He’s pissed away both with his lies, embellishments and obfuscations that took us to Iraq. When the GOP heads of both the Senate and the House are balking at this proposed sweetheart deal with his family’s Big Oil Buddies, you know Dumbleyou is finally running out of political traction with his base, fucking dullard lemmings that they've been till now.

And considering every goddamn word that’s slipped from his thin, quivering lips in the last 5 years has been proven demonstrably false, from “smoking mushroom clouds of WMDs” to “heckuva job, Brownie!” his base was all he had left to run on.

Here’s his latest howler, as quoted in the NYTimes: "If there was any chance that this transaction would jeopardize the security of the United States, it would not go forward," Mr. Bush said, discussing a government review of the deal that began in October and ended on Jan. 16 without producing any objections from officials in his administration.

‘No objections from officials in his administration.’ You betcha. Any objectors have long-since been kicked to the curb.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. For the time being, I’m just grateful that Bush no longer has the ability to make something happen just by proposing it. I’m surprised his party let him kick them around as long as they did.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Vacation-At-Home Log, Day Four:

We’re off to a bad start. I get up at three a.m. to get in some creative writing while the family sleeps, except the family doesn’t sleep. The Man Cub wakes up with me and starts chattering up a long, loud blue streak in his crib. So I have to whisk him out of the bedroom so The Missus can get some sleep (she didn’t get to bed till after midnight). Except an hour and a half later he’s still babbling so she comes in and takes him back with her and by then it’s almost 5 a.m. and nobody has slept or gotten anything accomplished in the last two hours and it’s still dark outside. Guess I’ll read the paper and head back to bed, I expect just about the time the boy wakes up again (exactly right, as it turns out. The paper finally gets skimmed late in the afternoon).

This is exactly why I don’t blog about family stuff. I slipped into a persistent vegetative state just re-reading that last paragraph for typos.

Crime Story, season one. A Michael Mann TV effort from the mid-80s. The cover blurb hails it as “The greatest show you’ve never heard of!” Like most mid-80s TV shows, it’s most fun to watch for Big Hair, and faces that had been, or would become, familiar. Already, I’ve spotted a young, skinny Michael Madsen, a young Ving Rhames, the ever-sexy Pam Grier, even Miles Davis did a cameo. So far it’s alright, but in retrospect, maybe I should have Netflixxed it before I bought it. Word to the wise.

Domino with Kiera Knightly. Big loud dumb movie, just the way I like ‘em. And what a babe in the lead role. Fellas, if you need a pallet cleanser after accompanying the S.O. to “Brokeback Mountain” over the weekend, this flick is the ticket. Bonus points for Tom Waits in an unbilled cameo role as an apocalyptic prophet (or something). Rented it the day before it was officially released because the video store owner considers himself a renegade.

• Back on the self-punishment track: My Pentacostal Mom on the mainland just sent me a CD of a sermon by her new pastor – some creepy kid I used to go to middle school with. Because my relationship with my Mom is important to me, I am listening to it. It’s not that he’s bad, he’s more like the first-billed comic on a 15-comic ticket. Yadda yadda yadda and little comedic asides that draw no response from the congregants. And he’s still arrogant, dismissive and condescending. Augh. I hope she didn’t pay for this fucking thing, but chances are, a Love Gift changed hands.

• Downloaded some new pix of the Man Cub. Here’s a good one:

• The rest of the day is a blur of dish-washing and diaper changing and aborted attempts at stealing some time for myself. Tried to crack Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new Lincoln tome ("Team of Rivals"), but that’s hard to do bouncing a babbling baby on your lap who has just learned how to grab paper and TWIST it. And tomorrow will be bookended by running errands in the a.m. and going into town for an MRI in the afternoon. Oh la!

• Day’s end. The lesson I’m learning is, when you’re married with children, there are no vacations, only reallocations of responsibilities. This “vacation” jumped the goddamn shark around Day Two. If I never take any more time off, that’ll be plenty soon enough for me.

Sign me…

Vacation-At-Home Log, Day Three:

• The Man Cub is generous and Fang sleeps all the way till 5:30. Kudos to The Missus for all the middle-of-the-night Man Cub Wrangling. I usually sleep right through it.

• I introduce the youngling to Superman, the old black & white TV series. The first episode on the disc climaxes in an epic-length food-throwing scene between most of the principals. Huh?? The Man Cub found my tennis shoe much more interesting. I want to watch another episode, but he wants to eat. So he eats. Formula, not the tennis shoe.

• Next, the Sunday morning news shows come on. We always watch these. I explain to the Man Cub that all the headliners, the politicians and appointed officials, are really boring and just repeat that week’s party-line bullet-points. From the Homeland Security guy to Barbara Boxer, it’s all blah blab la. The host tries to trip them up, they try to say nothing they hadn’t been prepared to say, and the commercials are all love notes from multinational corporations. The good part comes next: The reporters and editorialists roundtable. It’s their job to be interesting – as opposed to the politicos’ job of being vague.

Holy Cow, Meet The Press is great today!! The panel consists of NBC’s newly-combative David Gregory, Paul Gigot (some right-wing dude), Cheney shill Mary Matalin and New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. Right off the bat, Matalin and Dowd really seem to hate each other. It was super cool watching Matalin snipe at Dowd on camera and in her presence, and Dowd just absorb the blows like a lady. Even when she had a chance to respond in kind, she just made her point and let it go at that. That Maureen Dowd is all class. And I was disappointed in how shrill Matalin was (she’s fun when she’s on with her husband). She even called ‘the press’ obsession’ with Cheney’s obsession for secrecy a ‘jihad,’ to which David Gregory took justifiable umbrage. Then Matalin snapped back at him. And on and on. In the end, it was damned good TV, and that’s what’s important.

• Then it’s time for a little more STNG. We hit a slow patch of episodes (in one of them, poor Patrick Stewart is required to cry out authoritatively, “They must not be permitted to destroy us!”) then before we know it The Missus is up and The Day of Atonement starts in earnest. This leads indirectly to...

• The long-awaited Brokeback Mountain review: Long, slooooow and deeeepressing. Like Rob Zombie’s “House of a Thousand Corpses,” it’s a great date movie to take someone to who you don’t ever want to see again. Director Ang Lee unspools his movie in dream time: small moments take forever, then next thing you know, it’s suddenly years later. I don’t like art films (Terrence Malick films excepted), and I don’t like niche films. This is not limited to films in which guys spend lots of time making out with other guys; it includes Kung Fu flicks, any subtitled foreign language stuff (unless it’s mostly guns and explosions and dirty sex), anything southern Gothic/Tennessee Williams or featuring rappers playing criminals – my cultural xenophobia crosses all lines and boundaries. Basically, in my perfect world, every new movie would star middle-aged white hippie slacker males and be directed by James Cameron. Through the miracle of computer trickery, Scarlett Johansson would do a girl/girl love scene with herself featuring excessive gratuitous nudity, and the bad guys would all get blown up in a really big explosion at the end. Run credits, everyone goes home happy. Well, I do anyhow.

"Brokeback Mountain" failed to meet the bar on almost every level. It gets half a star for having sheep, because having horny guys guard sheep is always funny, gay or straight.

• Now Day Four has dawned… at 3 a.m. When this is over, I’ll definitely need a vacation from my vacation.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Vacation-At-Home Log, Day Two:

• The Man Cub got me out of bed this morning at 5. Par for the course lately, but better than the former standard of 4am.

• Spent the first hour writing a long email to The Best Man. He doesn’t get the blog thing, and except for the increasingly-rare occasion (this morning for instance), I don’t have time for lengthy emailing. Good breadwinner, bad buddy.

• STNG episode 9 or 10 and our B-List supporting cast is visiting the first cheesey backlot alien tableau of the series. The other storyline features some fabulous one-on-one scenes with Patrick Stewart and John Delancie as the omnipotent Q hurling Shakespeare quatrains at each other. Talk about feast and famine in the same episode. Uh oh. Jonathan Frakes is being called upon to share a scene with Delancie. It’s painful to watch.

• So I go to the videotape: a B/C-Grade TCM WWII propaganda film marathon I’ve recently stumbled across. It’s the mother-lode of vacation TV. I actually put off “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” with Raymond Massey for this.

- First up is First Yank Into Tokyo: About a Japanese-speaking American GI who endures the world’s most offensive make-up job – uh, I mean, plastic surgery – and goes undercover in the land of the rising sun during the run-up to Hiroshima. The fake teeth are so outlandish you can tell every line of this actor’s dialogue is looped. Appropriately enough, the looping isn’t synched very well with the on-camera lip movements.
It’s a 1945 flick that talks obliquely about the A-Bomb – I guess they cranked it out at the end of the year for the Christmas crowds. My guess is this film was greenlit in early ‘45 as an anti-Nazi film, then VE Day came, and one hasty script revision later, we have this ridiculous mess. It has that slapped-together, kind of an afterthought feel to it.
On the other hand, it’s interesting that the war is barely over and already noir elements are sneaking into mainstream Hollywood productions. Hard-boiled dialogue, the femme fatale flashback – I’m definitely catching a scent of noir. The swords had scarcely been beaten into plowshares and the Warner Brothers factory was already re-tooling for the post-war paradigm.
Second-rate entertainment, but first-rate cultural anthropology.

• It’s 4:30 and I’ve fallen way behind on my TV viewing. It’s a sad thing when you set out to do nothing and can’t even get that done. Time to fire up “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” and try to make up for some lost wasted time.

• Midnight: Well, I fucked up Day Two. Earlier in the week, I had promised The Missus some quality together time at outdoor venues this weekend. I thought the steady torrent of rainfall we woke to this morning bought me a pass from that obligation, but – long story short – I was mistaken. It seems I’m on vacation from work, not my word or my family. Coming up tomorrow – Family Day For Real! And here on Christmas Island that can mean only one thing: Brokeback Mountain! Nothing says, “I’ve gone back on my word and I feel like shit about it” like taking the Missus to some damn hippie gay cowboy movie.

Stay tuned…

Friday, February 17, 2006

Vacation-At-Home Log, Day One:

(I can already tell that the Vacation At Home experiment is going to be much more successful than previous Vacations Away From Home.)

• The Man Cub let us sleep in till 5:30 a.m. Yeeha! I feel like I’m at Disneyland already.

• Just caught last night’s Superboy on the WB. I knew that somehow Jor-El had taken over Lionel Luther’s body, and tonight made it explicit. Didn’t really care much about the main plot of this episode, except that it introduces another DCU mainstay, Cyborg. But it’s been great fun this season watching Lionel Luther do stuff that doesn’t make sense unless you knew he was acting in Jor-El’s best interests. This show is definitely shaping up, but they really, really need to kill off Lana. I hope Lex Luthor does it as the defining moment of his turn to the dark side.

• More comic book geekery: It occurred to me while I was watching this episode, Superman and Batman are both orphans. Hmmm… and Clark Kent was adopted by a kind, nurturing couple, whereas Bruce Wayne was raised in an empty mansion by a domestic. Superman turns out with his head screwed straight; Batman is by any definition a nutcase. Their psych profiles even reveal themselves in their secret identities: Bruce Wayne makes himself out to be a self-aggrandizing, dilettante womanizer; Clark Kent is confident enough to let his public persona be the genial buffoon. It’s funny that the original creators couldn’t possibly have had all this complicated psychological bullshit in mind when they were crafting their 4-color funnies, but that they actually hold up pretty well to close examination.

• Also up on the vacation agenda: Working my way through the first Season of Star Trek, the Next Generation (hereafter STNG) on DVD – in order, of course. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…
-Apparently, Denise Crosby (security chief Tasha Yar) was designed to be the breakout sex symbol if early episodes focusing on her in revealing outfits is any indication. Bad call. She’s a tall blond with an impressive rack, but she just reads extremely lesbian (even The Missus thinks so). And her love scenes are all with men (including Data – WTF?). They just ring false. She was much better later in the series after Tasha Yar was killed off and Denise Crosby returned as an alternate-universe Tasha Yar who was a warrior chieftain or something. She was good in that role. I also liked her in a shitty, straight to video flick called “Arizona Heat.” Tasha Yar fans, check it out. Shower scene!
-They also seem to be grooming the Wesley Crusher character for greater things that, alas, also never came to be. Again, the casting seems to be at fault. Wil Wheaton is just irritating and they didn’t write him out of the show soon enough for my taste.
-Patrick Stewart. Oh my Gawd! Other than Brent Spiner’s Data, Stewart’s Captain Picard is acting on a whole ‘nother level than the rest of this weak-ass cast. Imagine Olivier delivering Hamlet’s soliloquy in front of “2001”s monolith, surrounded by cavorting ape creatures with bones. That’s what it’s like watching Patrick Stewart interact with his fellow “thespians” on STNG.
-Wow, the Ferengi (sp?) show up way early on STNG. I had no idea.

• And now Vacation Day #1 is done, and I have gone nowhere and accomplished nothing.

So far, so good.

The President Speaks At Long Last:

As always, he’ll stick with his guy... till he can’t any more. I don’t think out of any sense of what most people understand as loyalty to a friend or principle.

No, to bail early on Cheney would be tantamount to admitting he had made a mistake somewhere along the way, and his ego doesn’t have room to accommodate any such notion. When it happens, he’ll be dragged kicking and screaming. Probably literally.

Personally, I can’t wait for the post-administration tell-all tomes. I understand there is a lot of screaming, if not actual kicking, on POTUS’ part.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Does NOT Need To Go!

Goddammit, liberal wags are wailing that Darth Cheney has to get bounced from the number two post (Bob Herbert, I’m looking at you).

As a matter of truth, justice and the American Way, of course Cheney should go. Okay, duh? And all flowers should be pretty and all kittens cute and cuddly.

But as a matter of political reality, it would be a disaster for the Left for Cheney to step down now or any time… so of course they’re howling for it.

That’s why the GOP kicks our ass at every stop along the way, even while their top guys get caught up in indictment-producing scandal after scandal (DeLay, Frist, Abramson, Libby, the Enron crowd, ad nauseum). They understand that it doesn’t matter who wears the face of the party, all that matters is keeping the party in power, and they’re doing a terrific job of it.


Their backroom fellows (and Mary Matilin) are craftily thinking ten steps ahead and we devoted Lefties are, as always, leading with our hearts.

And our hearts would sing to see Dick Cheney brought low – lal la la LAAAAAAA….!

Stupid, silly liberals. Be careful what you wish for. The Other Guys are running the long-con on us while they let us enjoy the illusory triumph of whipping their asses at 3-Card Monty. We don't have to be stupid. It's not required.

The oppo would love nothing more than to have an attractive, energetic nobody in the number two spot come Campaign 2008. A young, toothsome sitting VP with little or no paper Quayle – I mean trail – would suit the Bushies just fine, if history is any indication.

Other than that, right now they’ve got shit on their bench and they know it. John McCain could win a general election in a walk, but he’d never make it to the nomination past the zealots who bankroll the party. Besides him, they’re woefully light on star power, as are we. (Hillary, conversely, would sail through the Demo convention like a winning quarterback at the homecoming game and be obliterated in the general by Red State America and disaffected liberals like me who can’t stand her pandering to the right.)

But I digress.

We mustn’t allow Turd Blossom the opportunity to plant another genial dope at the top of our political anthill. And giving Cheney the boot would hand him exactly that.

BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL FOR CONSPIRACY THEORISTS: And this Libby thing is their backup plan. If shooting his pal then playing pissing match with the press about it doesn’t do The Dark Lord in, they’re prepared to have this Libby guy rat him out. Wait and see….

Wake up, people!! Look at all the exclamation points you’ve made me use. That's just bad writing. And I was supposed to be doing something else with this time, too.

Let’s feel with our hearts, but think with our heads, okay?

What’s Eating Me These Days

For one thing, the Cheney story isn’t going away. Why not? Well for one, the victim in whose ass the VP busted a shotgun-full of caps is getting sicker, not better.

I’ll let more accomplished writers (and the history books) take Uncle Dick “Big Time” Cheney to task for his reflexive lack of candor. Considering he made his political bones during the Nixon administration, in the midst of his flurry of military deferments, one shouldn’t pretend to be surprised at his zeal for secrecy, cover-up and subsequent character assassination of his indictors. Offended, yes; outraged, sure; mortified, well we’re only human. But surprised? Let’s not kid ourselves.

What pisses me off this morning is how our sock-puppet President hasn’t brought any of his supposed influence to bear in driving a stake through the heart of this story. Not only have we not heard Word One from Cheney’s putative boss, but he’s left his press secretary out to twist in the wind, alternately not giving him the information he needs, and/or not allowing him to disseminate same when he does have it.

If we (the disgruntled Left) ever had any doubts who’s running the show over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., this should put those to rest once and for all. W’s number two guy pumps a big Republican donor full of birdshot, the White House can’t get any message out besides spinning that incident for the better part of a week, and still no appearance or even statement by the Shooter?

If it was my agenda being highjacked by the stonewalling of a subordinate, you can bet your last buttcheek I’d have the dope responsible in front of cameras crying 'mea culpa' so fast it would make your head swim.

What kind of a pussy is our alleged President, anyhow?

A biiiiig pussy, apparently.

In happier news (and talk about another fascist despot who has taken the pulse of his nation and gotten it dead wrong), Saddam Hussein has announced he is on a hunger strike.

No Saddam. Please. Don’t.

And why the fuck am I required to care about the Olympics? Since when is strapping yourself to a sled and hurtling hundreds of miles an hour headfirst down a tube a fucking sport? And even if it is, who cares besides NBC?

I think the Olympics, like the Catholic Church (a whole other post, I'll get to it some day), is in its waning days, having culturally jumped the shark late in the previous millennium. If the sheer quantity of alternate entertainment options doesn’t render it hopelessly quaint, the rising clash between Islamic and Christian fundamentalism will soon make its continued practice, in its current form, unfeasible.

On the other hand, I could just be cranky because my favorite show, "Meet the Press," keeps getting shuffled around to broadcast the questionable accomplishments of these Olympic-size jock dumbfucks and I can never find it.

Oh well. At least I have Saddam's Hunger Strike and Cheney's press inavailabilty to keep me entertained in the meantime. Make a note: Both events are on Day Five and counting. Coincidence, or conspiracy?

Hail, comedy.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter

This tragedy could have been averted if it hadn't been for all those wartime deferments; the Veep might have learned the proper care and handling of weapons!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Joe Lieberman Hearts W’s Nads

“I think the system failed the President.”
-Joe Lieberman, discussing the Katrina hearings

Can you believe this sniveling shit? I was watching the interview while I worked, so I know what I heard wasn't some snippet taken out of context by a malevolent, liberty-hating free press. No, this was stalwart Democratic war supporter Joe Lieberman opining at Senatorial length on CNN this morning. The summation was a showstopper:

“The system failed the President.” As explicit an example of ball-lickery current broadcast standards allow on the public airways.

The 'system' didn't fail ME, or Anderson Cooper, or even the usually reliably supportive Fox's Shepard Smith. By not being 100% completely disconnected with anybody's reality but our own (textbook definition of “sociopathy,” by the way) we knew what was happening to New Orleans as it was happening and gnashing our teeth about our impotence to do anything about it.

The President is the one guy in the country with the clout to pick up a phone and literally directly cause things to happen, and he does fuck all for the better part of a week because… well, that would be conjecture on my part, and I'm trying to be reasonable.

If there hadn't been live, real-time, 24 hour-a-day multichannnel TV coverage and screaming headlines on page one every day that week, the argument could be made, perhaps, that the 'system' had failed the President. During the Polk administration, say, this assertion could easily have been put forth and taken wing.

But with Katrina, even if the system failed the President, it's not like the evidence wasn't out there for all the world to see. Whatever the reason, and who knows if we'll ever truly know, the simple fact is the one man who could have picked up the phone and demanded action didn't.

That's not a failure of the system, that's a failure of the President.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

People Don’t Kill People, Cartoons Do

As a former wannabe cartoonist myself (see above), I don't know what offends me more - that people are willing to commit murder over cartoons, or that my work never provoked any kind of similarly visceral reaction other than on the part of my mother.

People are dying over cartoons?? I was sure I wouldn't be called upon to point out how galactically stupid that is, but then I saw Ron Howard on the TV this morning shilling for his big summer flick, and it occurred to me - duh!

Mark my words - there will be domestic violence later this year from the Christian fringe when “The Da Vinci Code” opens. If these fucking idiots think bombing abortion clinics is pursuant to God's will, you can bet your Aunt Fanny God is going to tell one of these dolts He wants them to blow up a theater full of infidels enjoying “Da Vinci.”

Its content is even more inflammatory than the Mohammed cartoons. The Mohammed cartoons don't question the prophet's place in the firmament - “Da Vinci” postulates that the whole of Christianity is based on lies and fraud. Ye-owch! It's gonna take more than Tom Hanks and Richie Cunnigham to take the taint off of that plotline for those in direct contact with The Big Guy.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Religious zealots are not to be fucked with casually. They're a wacky bunch who, left to their own devices, are among the very first to resort to violence, even against themselves, to promote their agenda. From Cain killing Abel to the massacre at Masada to the Crusades to the Inquisition to Osama bin Buttmunch flying airplanes into skyscrapers to too many others to mention, following “God's Will” is the ultimate get out of jail free card.

When God's on your side, waiting to high-five you and dump a cooler full of Gatorade over your head as you pass through the Pearly Gates (or gift you with handfuls of willing young virgins), getting away with murder is the least of your concerns.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thumbnail Movie Reviews

With the stress and hassle of The Move behind us, I've been watching a lot of movies to unwind, including a bunch that I taped during a recent 3-month free HBO “trial.” Where to start…? How about this morning:

“Flightplan” with Jodie Foster: A professionally executed movie that I passively enjoyed in spite of its 'child in jeopardy' plot. Just the right length at about 90 minutes.

“Shattered Glass” with the kid who played Darth Vader in the last two Star Wars flicks. Turns out he actually can act - George Lucas has the opposite of the Midas Touch when it comes to directing actors. Christ, he even made Sam Jackson boring in “Revenge of the Sith.” Back on point: As a newspaperman, “Shattered Glass” is about a subject near and dear to my heart - journalistic integrity. Well-written, nicely-acted and actually about something. I loved this flick.

“Red Eye.” Cut-and-paste thriller with a very pretty girl. Another 90 minutes wasted, guilt-free.

“Taking Lives” with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. Another thriller with the standard plot twists. The first 5 minutes are the best and contain the only real surprises. There is a brief flash of Angelina nudity, if that sort of thing motivates you (and why shouldn't it?).

“Napoleon Dynamite.” What the fuck? Let's just chalk it up to me being old and move on. But people my age, beware - this movie is a piece of crap.

“The Constant Gardener.” I saw this one in spite of the presence of Ralph Fiennes (whose last non-sucky performance was way back in “Schindler's List,”) and a depressing plotline involving death and squalor in Africa. Glad I rose above my prejudices. This movie kicked some pretty serious ass, maybe partly because it was based on a John le Carré novel. The supporting actress nod to its female lead, Rachel Weisz, was well-earned, too.

“Miracle,” about the 1980 US Olympic hockey team. Came highly recommended but didn't offer anything besides the usual sports movie clichés, with an extra-added helping of patriotism included. I'm usually a sucker for sports movies and patriotic movies, but this one was just too by-the-numbers.

Speaking of patriotic movies: anything produced by Hollywood between 1941 and ’45 is a-okay by me, especially the war flicks - feel-good propaganda at its very finest. Turner Classic Movies is hands-down the greatest movie channel on TV, and it comes standard with most basic cable packages. Click HERE for their schedule.

“Tin Cup.” Can Kevin Costner make a bad sports film? I haven't seen it if he has. Though no “Hoosiers” or “Pride of the Yankees,” it wiped the floor with “Miracle.”

Finally, a movie I haven't watched lately, but one I never pass up the chance to talk up: “Flesh + Blood.” The first English-language film by the director who went on to give us “Basic Instinct,” “Total Recall” and “Showgirls,” this film is the purest distillation of Paul Verhoeven's bleak vision thus far. Most movies make a point of having at least one character who isn't a complete piece of back-stabbing shit, someone for the audience to sympathize with. Not this one. God, do I love this film.

The Man Cub is howlin.' Gotta go!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

For "24" Fans Only

This slew me. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cindy’s T-Shirt Is Thiiiiiiis Dangerous!

Just when I think the Bush administration can't get any more craven, they have anti-war mom Cindy Sheehan dragged from the House chamber in cuffs for what amounted to a fashion faux pas.

I thought the lead to this post would be about Texas oilman Bush's howler regarding The Search For Alternative Fuel Sources (oh stop it, my sides are splitting already!) but having an invited guest clapped in irons in what is commonly referred to as “the peoples' house” immediately prior to the State of the Union address is actually even more outrageous than the whoppers the President spewed forth afterwards.

She wasn't packing a dirty bomb, a shoe bomb or Saddam's mysteriously missing WMDs - she was wearing a fucking t-shirt!

Do I love Cindy Sheehan? No. Like Michael Moore, I believe she lets her own strident personality interfere with her very legitimate message. Would she have been better served by not provoking the fascists running DC into a confrontation just before the SOTU address? Again, as a believer in civil discourse, I have to think she once again got in the way of her message. If nothing else, she ought to have been clever enough to keep the t-shirt covered up till the speech was in progress and she saw herself on the Jumbotron. But like any good zealot, she's running on indignation and outrage and is in short supply of crafty long-term tactics.

But there is no better snapshot (today, anyhow) of how vile, repressive and fundamentally anti-American this administration is than the image of a doughty middle-aged Gold-Star Mom being led away in cuffs from the President's annual Ode to Democracy.

Not only do the Bushies famously not do nuance, apparently irony is lost on them as well.