Friday, March 31, 2006

Oh, @#$%&*!! - I mean, "Whoops!"

The Man Cub just took a header off the couch onto the floor on my watch. And by God, he took it like a man! He tucked and rolled himself up into a ball as he plummeted earthward and landed with a soft “whump” but nary a whimper.

He lay there on his back on the ground, looking up at me questioningly as I raced into the front room from the kitchen. I laughed and threw my arms wide, as if to say, “Wheeeee! Wasn’t that fun?! Let’s do it again!!” Lucky for me, he bought my act, and a major episode was averted. We took an oath, there and then, that neither one of us would ever tell The Missus about it and sealed our pact by having me toss him into his crib so I could finish eating lunch.

Although both The Man Cub and I escaped unscathed, I think the dog is definitely going to require therapy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The House We Live In

Today’s topic: All this immigration bullshit.

I tried to ignore it, but it’s just not going away. My email in-box is loaded with epistles and links from all sides, everyone citing their own incendiary facts and figures to rally their base(s). Exactly the kind of talking-points "conversation" I usually avoid like the plague. But half a million people protesting - peacefully! - in LA last weekend is pretty hard to ignore. Maybe the issue deserves some serious consideration after all, even from a wise-ass nobody like ol’ Fang.

After a typically cursory glance at the facts (I am a blogger, after all, and not held to any irritating standards of accuracy or veracity), it seems both sides of the issue have some legitimate merit, even the right-wingnuts for a change.

My gripe with The Bush Plan as proposed, this whole Guest Worker Permit scheme, is it seems to want to codify into law an indentured-servant class here in America. A class with less rights than other folks; an underclass coincidentally with much darker complexions and hardscrabble lifestyles. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We tried that once, and it tore our country apart, almost irreparably.

Once you get past all the rhetoric, I think the whole immigration issue – legal or otherwise - comes down to competing ideas about what America’s about. Is America a living experiment in Democracy that’s growing, changing and evolving all the time, or is it something already in its perfect state, sacrosanct and precious that must be protected – preserved essentially as-is - at all costs? Do we throw our arms wide and take all comers, or do we build a fucking wall around the country to keep the undesirables out, except during peach-pickin’ season?

My veneer of objectivity is slipping...

We’re a nation of immigrants, folks. All the xenophobia, thinly-veiled racism and fiscal tight-fistedness in the world isn’t gonna change that. Whether your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, the hold of a slave ship or packed in like sardines in the back of a VW Microbus at midnight, we’re all in it together now.

If we want to be worthy of what some of us – even on the left – consider on the whole to be a pretty kick-ass national heritage, we need to work this immigration shit out, because the way things are now is just plain embarrassing.

Frustratingly for me, what I’m fumbling to express has already been said, and much more eloquently than I have been able to do here. Happily for you, a couple examples of that eloquence follow. Click the links below to hear Italian-American Frank Sinatra and African-American Paul Robeson make an argument for an inclusive society that’ll have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up and saluting Old Glory!

“The House I Live In” performed by Frank Sinatra
“Ballad for Americans” sung by Paul Robeson

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Re-Arranging the Deck Chairs….

Or “Putting the ‘Dumb’ in Dumbleyou.”

So W’s continuing plummeting poll numbers have finally forced him to do something he hates doing – making any kind of change (it implies his initial decision might have been something less than completely and totally divinely inspired).

In response to said poll numbers, and the rising cries from within his own party for Change they have occasioned, Team Dumbass has huddled up and decided the way to staunch the bloodflow is to replace one WASPy White House insider with another. Let’s take the Treasury Dude – longtime W loyalist and Rove toady – and swap him for Chief of Staff Dude (longtime W loyalist and Rove toady) – voila! Problem solved!

I haven’t seen this kind of seismic, impactful administration shakeup since Moe and Larry kicked Shemp to the curb and brought in Curley Joe.

Wow, this is going to change EVERYTHING!!!!

Yeah, I definitely should have gone with “Putting the ‘Dumb’ in Dumbleyou.”

FHM's Sexiest Woman In The World

Scarlett Johansson. When you're right, you're right...

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Curse

Seems the Man Cub has inherited Daddy's way with the bottle:

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dumbleyou’s Latest Media Blitz (Day Three)

It’s a shame that his public appearances up till now have been such an unbroken series of carefully-orchestrated shams that one has to give the President props just for answering un-prescreened questions, but that’s where we’re at.

A couple appearances ago, his first audience questioner asked him straight-on if he thought what was brewing up in the middle east was the coming of Armageddon as spelled out in the Book of Revelations. If you caught his answer, you will believe a white man can dance! A good five+ minutes of non-sequiters, sentence fragments and awkward squirming later he was able to move on to the next question, obviously without offering a direct answer. High-larious. High comedy. And for a self-professed born-again Christian, hypocrisy.

Yesterday’s freewheeling appearance before the White House Press Corps was pretty interesting, too. He asked Helen Thomas, dean of the Beltway Media Elite, her first question in 3 or 4 years. She’s been on the administration shitlist from early on, and based on her performance here, undoubtedly will remain there for the duration. She basically asked him what the REAL reason we invaded Iraq was and boy howdy, did that not sit well with the Misleader-in-Chief. It was one of the few times that morning that his good ole boy demeanor slipped.

Mostly though, he did his best to remain affable and gregarious throughout, since that’s the only poll question, I suppose, that people are still responding positively to. You know, that he’s the kind of feller you’d like to have over for brewskis and Monday Night Football.

Which got me to thinking: The more I watched, the more it occurred to me, this man’s behavior and responses are classic addict behavior (something I can speak to first-hand). I’m not among those saying he’s still drinking (I honestly believe he could be the bike-crashing, pretzel-choking, Segway-tipping clod he’s made out to be), but having never sought professional assistance in dealing with his drinking & coke problems – unless you count alleged long walks on the beach at Kennebunkport with family friend Billy Graham – W continues to repeat his addict behavior, unfortunately for us, on the world stage.

Replace this lie: I can quit any time I want! with this one: We have an exit strategy!

Same lie, different context.

Who will bear the ultimate responsibility for withdrawing our troops from Iraq? Oh, the next President. Or the next. Not me though, because it isn’t my fault. Saddam’s behavior [equally as egregious as that of other dictators we have and have had cozy relationships with] forced my hand. What could I do? Not my fault.

Should Donald Rumsfeld resign after having fucked up every single step of the Iraq War? Oh hell no – he’s doing a great job! Different context: "Hey George, don’t you think you ought to slow down a little? You have to drive home.” “Hell no, I can handle my liquor!”

The repeated denials of stuff that is obvious to everyone but him (“Civil war in Iraq? What civil war?”), blaming on all his problems on others (at yesterday’s event, for example, he blamed the media for having the temerity to broadcast images of the inferno that he has created over there) – you go right on down the Addict Behavior Checklist and this guy’s got them all. Still. And that’s the problem.

Should being a former druggie and drunk necessarily disqualify someone from being President? Shit no. If Johnny Cash was alive, I’d vote for him in a second. If Wink Musselman stood for office, I’d quit my job and run his campaign for him.

But being a white-knuckle recovering wreck still over your head in denial, not only about the scope of your substance-abuse problem but in the rest of your world-view as well, in this day and age, really could be the run-up to the Excellent Adventure spelled out in the back books of the Bible.

The Apocalypse? Bring it on and blame somebody else.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

When presidents go bad ...

The Last Boy Scout, my right-wing buddy who likes to put words in the mouths of the GOP, was kind enough to send along this link, for those Democrats who secretly favor censuring the President but being Democrats, are too chickenshit to even speak the words aloud, except to meekly refute the idea.

I’m not sure I favor censure myself, unless it’s like a vote of No Confidence, after which the man and his cronies sneak out of town at midnight in the deepest shame and turn over the reins of power to … uh oh, the spineless Democrats?

Shit. This isn’t going where I meant it to go.

Anyhow, anyone wanting their Presidential Censure Pick-Me-Up will have to settle for THIS for now. Make sure you write your Democratic Senator(s) and tell them “Thanks!”

43 Is The New “Dude, You’re Old”

At least if you’ve taken consistently shitty care of yourself your entire adult life.

So I was having arm problems that I whined about at length in earlier blogs. I got an MRI a couple weeks ago and today finally was sat down and told what it means. I took The Missus and The Man Cub because frankly, I needed a keeper and we couldn’t get a sitter.

The doctor was a good-looking young intern, charming, straight out of Central Casting. It was when he opened his mouth to speak that things began to go wrong. Words like “degeneration” and “wear” and even (gulp) “arthritis” were thrown around. Not to mention “weak” and stupid.

No really.

Okay, what happened was, after I established the boundaries – none – the doctor jumped in with both feet. When The Missus posited a question he apparently found quite brilliant, he indicated her and said, “Ah I see. She’s the smart one.”

Come to think of it, maybe he was just hitting on my woman. But then, it was me he was fondling. Maybe that’s what he meant when he said I was weak. But what could I do with my wife and child sitting right there?

Anyhow, the upshot is, yes the bones in my spine are either degenerating or growing extra prongs which is squishing shit together in my neck that shouldn’t be squished together, but its their opinion (the dazzling young intern and the humorless senior physician who joined us later) that I should wait to see how long it is again for the next period of weeks of agonizing pain to occur before doing anything.

Because in this case, doing something means surgically poking around in my neck with hammers and chisels. And as I understand it, some kind of industrial-strength sandpaper.

So although the news was not good, it was not especially bad, either. And we did have a really good time goofing around with the intern. All in all, really, if I had ever thought I was going to live into my 40s, I might have taken better care of myself.

Another cautionary tale for The Man Cub.

My Time IS Valuable, Dammit!

I’m sure you’re as sick of hearing me bellyache about not having time to get anything done as I am complaining about it. But that’s the fact, Jack, and adjustments must be made.

Toward that end, I’ve embarked on some interpersonal housecleaning. If you don’t bring anything of value to the relationship, you’re outta here.

For instance, I’ve fired a couple of freelance web clients in the last couple months. When their needs and the stress they produce outweighs the number of DVDs I can purchase with their money, it’s time for them to go. One lady I gave a definitive heave-ho to, and another relationship – with someone who used to be a friend as well as a client (no, Cliz, I am NOT talking about you here, you still rock and I salute you!) – I am allowing to die on the vine. I have a family now, and I only have so much time for client hand-holding, and both of these ladies exceeded their limit.

But what’s really got me hot under the collar right now is an old, old girlfriend. Not my first, but the one I lost my cherry to, currently a middle-school teacher who never escaped the inclemite, backwater, poverty-stricken, crime-ridden helltown of our mutually miserable childhoods.

Out of the blue, she fires off a pissy email chastising me for not keeping in touch to her satisfaction. Fair enough. She'll get no argument from me - I have slacked.

So I write back, explaining the work/family situation, and pointing out that I have a blog I endeavor mightily to keep up to date, so even if I don’t have the time I used to to compose epic-length personal correspondences, she can still keep up with me and mine at our mutual convenience on my blog.

Her reply goes from pissy to huffy and condescending. I try again, starting to get pissed myself: “Everybody else working a full-time job from home while raising an infant without the help of any friends or family and whose wife is 2 months and counting to having to finish her dissertation and still gets less than 5 hours of sleep per 24-hour period can chew me out all they want."

Then I get to feeling bad. I decide I was an asshole with that reply, so I decide to try a different tack. I write back, “If YOU had a blog, I’d check it every day, and enjoy the ‘sound of your voice.’ I’ve talked several of my similarly overcommitted friends into doing the same, and it’s really cool checking in with them at my convenience, and them posting at theirs.”

She writes back, from the summit of Mount I’m-Much-Better-Than-You, “I think your intentions are good, but you're way off in terms of me on this one. I'm not interested in doing the mass communication thing with (seemingly) close friends. Anyway, the blog thing works for you and I'm glad it's kept you in touch with your many, many "close" friends…”

And on and on in the same condescending vein.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I decide I still haven’t made myself clear, and write back again, “I was actually thinking, you could write anonymously and with passion – and to an audience of interested peers – about all the school goings-on you’re always so caught up in. You speak eloquently and care deeply about middle-school-teaching specific stuff – there’s certain to be an online community of people out there just like you, people who care about the same things you do and are brainstorming about what to do about it. A discussion that you’ve been dying to have for years is currently taking place.

If you don’t want to be a voice in that community straight away, then don’t. But you could at least listen in. Take the time you would spend replying to this email to Google middle school teacher blogs (or whatever).

I’m telling you, as someone who’s known you forever, your skill set and the needs of this community are ideally suited to one another.

Knowing you, I’m sure any time you spent in this endeavor wouldn’t curtail your personal emailing and phone-calling time either.

I write MY blog as a loose-cannon wise-ass wannabe media-critic... Who cares? For me, it remains an exhilarating form of public masturbation, safe because I’m sure no one’s looking.

But you could write – well – about stuff that matters. Become part of a community of voices, and perhaps ultimately influence outcomes.”

Pretty decent attempt, right? Plus the fact that, in spite of my best intentions, I’ve now spent the better part of an hour writing personal emails to her!

Also bear in mind, my track record with giving her advice is rock-solid. I told her she should leave her abusive, cheating, bisexual, alcoholic boyfriend for 15 years – when she finally did, she admitted I had been right all along. I pushed her into AA when her drinking was spiraling out of control – that worked great too (till she broke it off with her boyfriend and hit the bottle again). Again and again, I’ve offered sound, sometimes revelatory advice – by her own admission! – so I figure she might actually consider my proposal.

Silly, foolish little man.

Her reply opens with, “Honestly, is you weren't so self-righteous, you'd be hilarious," and just gets more haughty and arrogant from there.


Dude, I am so out of here. My time is valuable, and by Grabthar's Hammer, I swear this post is the last of it I’ll waste on her.

Happy trails, babe. Thanks for making this one easy.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Learning To Crawl

The Man Cub has come a long way since I wrote about him last. He already has a couple little fangs of his own coming in, and just lately he’s started working on crawling.

Problem is, his head is still way out of proportion with the rest of his body (see above), looming over it like a boulder teetering on a beanpole. But our Man Cub has figured out the solution when your head is bigger than your arms are long – use your head to pull you along.

He starts with the squirmey fish thing with his legs, then places his forehead on the ground and hunches his shoulders – voila – he’s creeped forward a miniscule increment. Repeat, etc. His arms come along for the ride, but just as often as not, one thumb is lodged in his mouth and even when it’s not, his forepaws still don’t bring much to the party yet.

His legs, however, are getting mighty strong. As long as somebody is there to balance him, he can already support himself standing up. And it pleases him mightily to be able to do so.

That’s actually his finest attribute: He’s a happy Man Cub. Smiles a lot. Laughs. Needs a lot of personal attention and has a joy-shriek that peels paint, but overall… Somehow, inexplicably, his generally depressive parents have yielded a youngling with a better-than-average disposition.

This might work out after all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"The Shield"

Man, what a great show. Over on FX, where they can say “shit” and “Goddamn” till the cows come home.

I loved this show from the first episode of the first season, where the likeable lead character gunned down a fellow cop in cold blood at the end. I sat up and took notice.

Intervening seasons have kinda waxed and waned, but this year has totally kicked ass again. Every scene tonight was like the cliffhanger-climax scene that most other series would end their episode with. They kept throwing curves (and change-ups, to follow the baseball analogy) and except for the completely predictable final scene, they had me guessing every step of the way.

It’s late and I’m tired so I will spare you the details of plot and character. On a show this rich, that could take all night. Suffice it to say, for edge-of-your-seat television, there is no better show this season than The Shield. Tuesday nights at 10, but being basic cable, they re-run the hell out of it all week.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Wow, do I have a great boss!

Due to escalating Man Cub-rearing duties, a long-in-the-works mega-website just recently completed as well as growing newspaper-related responsibilities, it’s been all I can do just to keep my head above the moat. You’ll notice I update my blog about, oh, never, anymore.

It’s not just because the rest of the country seems to be coming around to my way of thinking on matters political – always the death of outrage, when your opponents start agreeing with you – it’s just that every waking moment is spent working, babysitting or wishing I was asleep… and every combination thereof.

So the blog has suffered, and apparently my email communications have, too. My boss called today – the hard-boiled newspaper publisher – just to check and see if I was okay. My emails haven’t been as, I think she said “verbose,” and she was checking in to see if things were going okay here.

No “…oh, and by the way…” moment, no secondary agenda, just one human being reaching out to another. And she gives me money, too! How great is that?!

(By the way, I’m totally not writing this to suck up to her. She’s pretty conservative, and I wouldn’t blame her if she fired me summarily for some of things I’ve written about the President. I’ve taken pains never to mention to her that I even have a blog, and I aim to keep it that way.)

I always swore I would never write about my job or my employers on this thing – people get fired over that shit all the time – but it never occurred to me I’d be compelled to write nice things. She said the funniest thing to me the other day. She said she was “disgruntled” with one of her employees. And I thought how funny that was. You never hear about “Disgruntled Employer Goes Nuts, Kills 6.” I think she’s the first disgruntled employer I’ve ever heard of.

But I’m glad she’s not disgruntled with me.

Of course, I hear the Missus and the Man Cub waking up in the next room, so I must be away. That’s just the way life is these days. Busy busy busy and oh, ‘don’t cuss in front of the baby!’

But that’s a whole ‘nother @#%&$!!! post.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Dana Reeve Has Gone Forward...

Dana Reeve, Widow of Christopher Reeve, Dies at 44

Tuesday, March 7, 2006
SHORT HILLS, New Jersey (AP) — Dana Reeve, who fought for better treatments and possible cures for paralysis through the Christopher Reeve Foundation, named for her late actor-husband, has died, the foundation said. She was 44.

God, it really puts my irritation at being awakened by The Man Cub six times tonight in some perspective. Ol’ Fang is expecting to turn 44 next month himself. This is just really sad news. I may need to hug the dog, and he hates it when we touch him.

If you’re down with the 'radical-left' stem cell agenda championed by both Ms Reeve and her late husband, you can support it in the coolest, cheapest way HERE. Superman dog tags emblazoned with the slogan “Go Forward.” They make great gifts and the cause is a worthy one.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Time Tunnel

Well, it’s back. We’re springing for HBO for a couple months again, this time for The Sopranos. Along with HBO comes a package of b-grade movie channels which pad their schedules with genre TV series from the 60s. “Combat.” “Alias Smith and Jones.” My favorite, “The Green Hornet.”

But today I’m marveling at The Time Tunnel.

The premise is, a pair of contemporaneous scientists – one a hipster pretty boy in tight slacks and a turtleneck, the other an unthreatening authority-figure type with a coat and a tie – are randomly bounced around time (and place), doing their best to meddle with the outcomes of well-known historical events wherever and whenever they land.

These guys are supposed to be scientists. Granted, they’re being pitched around the timestream by a malfunctioning chrono-doodad of their own creation, but still – even a malfunctioning time machine is a pretty impressive achievement. These guys should know better, even without a prime directive to hew to.

This week’s episode they’re in Mexico, doing their best to obstruct Cortez on his murderously excellent adventure. At first, they're all like, “Dude, what?” Then “Whoa dude, no way!” Then finally, “Dude. Way.”

They’re Bill & Ted with PhDs and a rudimentary knowledge of history. Thank God they’re as inept as adventurers as they are time-travel-doodad inventors.

The best part is, even if this week’s episode sucks (which they usually do, but in an amusingly overwrought, wrong-headed way), the dim-wittted duo bounce to their next time and place at the end of every show, so you can go, “Well, they didn’t have much going on in Cortez-era Mexico, but the ancient Egypt sets next week look pretty cool.”

My favorite episode, and it’s one of the first I caught so memory is especially sketchy, was one where they land in the American Civil War, and commence to hook up with Niccolo Machiavelli (apparently also time-traveling, he from the 15th century) and philosophize in a circus tent on a battlefield.

It must have been fun to have been a writer on this show. By the time I did acid in the 80s, it was mostly speed.