Monday, October 30, 2006

Milestone – Day 420

Today, our Man Cub is the same number of days old as I was when the people who would become my parents took me home from the orphanage.

I’ve been waiting for this day. I don’t know why or what it means to me, but I’ve literally been counting the days. I even wrote on my wall calendar, “Man Cub passes go – I get out of jail?”

I always felt like I got gypped in life – probably not an uncommon reaction for people orphaned for the first year-plus of their existence – and ever since then, I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to do something to balance those karmic scales.

When I think about the last fourteen months of constant, 24/7 personal attention The Man Cub has required, and speculate as to the unlikelihood that I received the same level of individual attention during the same period… I just feel so sorry for that kid who was me.

I don’t feel sorry for me, the skeevy grown-up I am today; I feel sorry for that poor orphaned kid who was mostly forehead, if that makes any sense…

Anyhow, today we’ve hit the turning point. Today, The Man Cub starts from scratch, and so do I. That beastly, wicked old fuck I’ve been my whole life, I don’t have an excuse for him any more. I’ve put paid to the debt that set me on the path to becoming the awful person I’ve been, and from this day forward, it’s a fresh start for both of us.

Welcome to the world, son. Thanks for giving me a second chance to put my heart in order.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fences of Freedom

Happened to catch the bill signing this morning on cable. There was our redoubtable Dumbleyou surrounded by a grinning gaggle of GOPers who, I’m guessing, aren’t up for reelection this time out or they wouldn’t be caught dead on camera with the persona-non-grata-in-chief.

They called it, I swear, “The Secure Fence Act.” Do I have that right? I know I got the “Secure Fence” part right. I laughed out loud. See, it’s a fence and it’ll keep us secure. Security, get it? “9/11...?”

Ring a bell yet, WalMart shoppers?

Forgetting the fact that fences are notoriously easy to circumvent (unless they happen to be under 24/7 surveillance by armed guards – and we’re talking 700 miles of armed guards here. Gee, where do you think we’d turn to fill that thankless, underpaid labor shortage?), and that any eventual implementation of this bill will undoubtedly produce pork-laden, no-bid giveaways to companies closely allied with the administration; forget about the fact that when you build a fence to keep someone else out, you end up keeping yourself in, too… No wait, those are the salient points.

But being the glass-half-full kind of guy I just naturally am, the way I see it, the day will come that this embarrassing fiasco will give some future Mexican president the opportunity for a Regean-esque, “President So-and-So, tear down this fence!” Moment. History will probably record that that future Mexican president was a great statesman.

In the meantime, the record will reflect that while Baghdad burned, George Bush built fences in the back yard. I hope they name it after him. The fence, not the war; I think the war is already a lock.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dipping my big toe into YouTube

The fabulous Zach Malner performing an original composition, "Bordeaux," in my front room. This clip circa September, 2001.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Filler Entry 10/22/06

Got the blahs lately. Wondering how the Dems are gonna wrestle defeat from the jaws of success in the next couple weeks. It seems inevitable. In the real world, the bad guys are almost always more zealous, and better funded and organized (Bono excepted).

On the plus side, The Man Cub grows more personality every day. The baby doctor warned us a long time ago that some kids develop verbally first, some physically. Our young padawan has staked out a third course, wherein he is in no hurry to do either. And I’m glad. Let him be an inarticulate rugrat as long as he can. He’s fucking cuter than shit right now. These days are fleeting.

He’s sleeping eight hours a night now too, but those eight hours end startlingly reliably at 4 a.m. Every single morning. We’re on a drivetime DJ sleep schedule without the accompanying financial remuneration or faceless fame. It’s a goddamn good thing he’s still as cute as he is at 4 a.m.

Being married to a College Professsor has its own special challenges too, especially as it relates to procuring reliable child care. Every few months, everybody’s school schedule completely changes, our lives are capriciously upended by forces outside of my control, and we end up playing Baby Sitter Roulette again. It takes a toll.

Bruce Springsteen recently released an “upgraded” (meaning a few extra tunes are included this time) version of his last (admittedly great) CD, “The Seeger Sessions.” This ‘Upgraded Edition CD’ shit really pisses me off. If you have more songs, put them on the first time, or release a proper EP later on. Don’t force fans to have to buy the bulk of the same songs twice to get a few new ones — that’s just pure hucksterism. I shrugged it off as the actions of blatant media whores when Mariah Carey and others of her pop ilk began doing the same in the last few years. But it’s discouraging to see Springsteen following suit. Were it not for iTunes, it would be a ripping-off the fan base of the first order. (The new songs kick total ass, too. Thank god, again, for iTunes!)

Saw “Flags of Our Fathers” today, hoping for a patriotic boost. Not from this film. It’s fairly even-handed (for a major Hollywood production) but is more about the machinery of propaganda than World War II heroism. The guy playing Ira Hayes, Adam Beach, was especially good, but overall the film left a sad taste in my mouth. Whether (director) Eastwood did it on purpose or not, it’s impossible not to equate the futility of the slaughter we witness on Iwo Jima island with the young American lives currently being wasted overseas every day, not to mention the depresssingly similar PR machines giddily selling the war to the home front in both cases. So very sad.

Further, I’ve been too depressed to read Salome’s manuscript yet, and my recovering-Catholic guilt is having its way with me. Sorry Salome. I hope to pull my head out soon.

We did catch John Prine in the big city nearby, The Missus and me, the other night. He was awfully swell, but he too touched on themes of war and made it a bittersweet experience for me. This war shit, coupled with sleep deprivation, is getting to be more than I can deal with.

And my favorite person at The Home Office is leaving this week for greener pastures. Believe me when I tell you, my work situation is going to be soooo screwed when she’s gone…

I guess it’s safe to say I’ve been in a funk lately, and I torture my wife (and the dog!) with that stuff, not my blog. So I haven’t abandoned the damned thing, I just don’t write about personal stuff, and it’s all been about personal stuff lately.

But these things pass. Thanks for dropping by. I hope to have a happier (at least peppier) outlook to report soon.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Diane Makes Mel Sweat

Caught the first round of Mel Gibson’s media Walk of Shame this morning with Diane Sawyer.

It didn’t take a police psychologist to see that Mel’s still dealing with some anger/stress issues. Wow!

Despite the fact that his lighting was way more subdued than Sawyer’s (think Vito Corleone’s parlor on a dark and stormy night), he was still all sweaty on his upper lip throughout the interview. He looked like Dick Nixon caught in the headlights.

What really jumped out was how bad he was at essaying humility, and keeping his irritation and arrogance with having to make his Walk of Shame under control. They’ll be showing this video in aberrant personality classes for decades. He has more ticks than a Chinese clock shop!

[wait for laughter to subside]

Plus, he’s still in total denial about harboring antisemitic shit. When Sawyer hit him with “in vino veritas,” he twitched, twittered and finally brayed laughter and wrote that centuries-old wisdom off as being the product of people who didn’t know what they were talking about.

Does Mel really think he knows more than the ancient Romans about drunkenness and debauchery? Where’s that fearless and searching moral inventory when you need it? How much would it have sucked to have gone into rehab to really get your life together (as opposed to, say, dodge the press for a month) and ended in ‘group’ with Mel Gibson?

Getting back to this morning’s performance, honestly, it was weird. I’ve seen him turn in more nuanced, believable performances in the “Lethal Weapon” movies. He must have handlers whose job it was to prepare him for this interview, but man, somebody dropped the ball.

Actually, I have a theory:

I’ll bet you somebody in rehab said, “Mel, you ever think about looking into some low-dose, AA-approved anti-anxiety meds?” Mel flipped out and cold-cocked him, laughed and tripped the guy when he helped him stand up then straddled him, screaming, “I don’t need pills! All I need is God you fucking shitbag!! I’m not a fucking junkie you goddamn… uh… say, where are you from, buddy?”

Anyhow, I will make sure I catch Round Two tomorrow. If she asks him about his (famously anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying) Dad, I’ll bet he cold-cocks her, and not just in my imagination.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Dumbleyou and Mark Foley discussing the size of ...

Ready, set: SNARK!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Scorsese is back!

His new movie “The Departed” kicks mucho ass! Jack Nicholson is back too and in fine form as a sleazy ganglord (with a few signature Jack flourishes, like a giant prosthetic penis that press reports indicate wasn’t in the shooting script).

Also showing up in elder-statesman roles are Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin as veteran cops, but this movie belongs to Nicholson and the Boys’ Club of Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon and – much to my surprise – Leo DiCaprio.

Yes, that Leo DiCaprio.

Scorsese’s finally gotten his first convincing performance out of DiCaprio after allowing Leo to stink up both “Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator.” Both movies had elements to recommend them (Daniel Day-Lewis and Kate Blanchett, respectively), but DiCaprio sure as hell wasn’t one of them.

This movie’s two and a half hours fly by, even without any of Scorsese’s usual set-piece single-take steadicam shots. This is about character, plot and environment, and Scorsese dials back his usual directorial hamminess (which I love, don’t get me wrong) to tell this story of crooked cops and robbers in contemporary Boston.

I haven’t seen that many movies this year (parenting is a double-overtime-without-pay job as it turns out), but this is the first Great one, and probably Scorsese’s best since “Goodfellas,” definitely his best since he started using DiCaprio in every project.

I’m already beginning to get depressed, trying to imagine what populist, feel-good dreck (paging “Forrest Gump”…) will deny Scorsese his Oscar this year.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You hear that giant sucking sound…?

That’s the sound of Dumbleyou’s “Values Voters” (ie: the Religious Right) base flipping through the TV Guide to see what they’re gonna watch on election night instead of going to the polls.

Between headlines like this one, hot off the wire: Triple bombing hits Baghdad's Christian area and the GOP’s cover-up of a SEX SCANDAL in their own party – covering up the actions of one of their own sexually preying on children, no less – they’re going to have precious little to motivate them off their couches and into the voting booth.

If their chosen party is causing their fellow Christians to be targeted for death in Iraq – a place where even they know we have no business being – and attempting to bugger innocent young boys their own kids’ age then cover it up, really, it must be beginning to dawn on them that they don’t have a dog in this hunt after all.

There’s a new show on Tuesday nights on NBC, “Friday Night Lights,” that celebrates small-town America and its values. The critics love it. I think it might come out the big winner in Red State America this coming first Tuesday in November.

Maybe next season, Denny Hastert can do a guest shot as a disgruntled former wrestling coach…

BOOK MEME (by special request)

Well, I don’t usually do memes, this is my first – The Missus is the high-profile blogger in this family, and I can’t even identify her because I don’t want to besmirch her erudition with the four-letter filth that passes for my average post. That caveat out of the way, I’m flattered enough to be asked by The Lovely Salome to play along. One more caveat: I haven’t been a big reader for a while (time management issues), so my responses will probably refer mostly to old books, not to mention reveal the startling depths of my shallowness…

Moving right along, and without further ado:

#1 - One book that changed your life: Oh, here we go: “Atlas Shrugged.” It caught me at an impressionable time in my life, and I re-read it repeatedly for a number of The Rough Years. Its message that it’s not only okay to be different, but is often quite preferable, still resonates. All the crazy right-wing shit, not so much.

#2 - One book that you've read more than once: See above.

#3 - One book you'd want on a desert island: TV Guide, and the satellite television to go along with it.

#4 - One book that made you laugh: Hard to choose between Vonnegut’s immortal Breakfast of Champions and Al Franken’s “Lies, and the Lying Liars…”

#5 - One book that made you cry: The autobiography of Johnny Cash. This guy didn’t just sing about the ring of fire, he lived it.

#6 - One book that you wish you had written: Sorry, my Lovely one – the Da Vinci Code. Pure, populist swill that sells by the boatload that would enable me to buy an island that comes with TV Guide and a world-class satellite-TV hook-up.

#7 - One book that you wish had never been written: The Bible. Its fans have caused more heartache, death and human suffering in the last 2000+ years than a sweeps-month’s worth of Jerry Springer shows.

#8 - One book you're currently reading: Team of Rivals, about Lincoln’s political savvy. [Insert your own withering comparison to W here.]

#9 - One book you've been meaning to read: Night, by Elie Wiesel. But I’m already wrestling with depression, and I’m not sure a Holocaust memoir is the cure for what currently ails me.

I hope I have played your meme game successfully, and with honor. As I understand it, it is now my responsibility to tag five other people to do likewise. Not sure I know five other people who can read – I pick Trillwing, Clizbiz, Tamburlaine… that’s about it. Most of my friends don’t understand the blog thing or have active contempt for it (I call them members of the Blogadverse). It’s a shame, too, because most of them are pretty excellent writers themselves.

Next up: More of my standard blistering criticisms of all things hypocritical. Thank you for your attention.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taking Responsibility for “The New Normal”

Like the late, lamented Sam Kinison used to say, just when you think society has hit rock bottom, it finds a way to sink even lower. Now little Amish schoolgirls are being bound, lined up against the blackboard and shot in the head execution-style. What a fucking evil, reprehensible world we are bequeathing our children.

America’s Elementary Schools are becoming fishbowls of eager, helpless victims-in-waiting for the psychologically unsound. I remember when school shootings were A) an anomaly, and B) usually perpetrated by the schoolkids’ alienated peers. How fucked up is it that those seem like the good old days?

This latest spate of school shootings scares the living Bejesus out of me. When I heard today’s news, I had to take The Man Cub in my arms and hang on for dear life for a few minutes. If it’s this bad today, how unspeakably unsafe will the educational paradigm be in a few years when he hits school age?

Something has to be done.

Now that it’s been made abundantly, repeatedly clear how very soft a target our schools are, how long do you think it will be before organized terrorists take over a school here in the USA, like they did in Russia a couple of years ago, and kill everybody in it? They’d be fools not to try.

I hate to say it, but it looks to me like our schools have got to become armed camps. The Last Boy Scout, also the father of young children, points out that it sucks that kids can’t be kids any more. He’s right. I remember playing outside after dark when I was a kid, as long as I stayed in the neighborhood. Those days are already long gone. I see a little kid out walking alone – in the daytime even – and I worry. I don’t see the little kid, carefully watching where he walks so as not to step on a crack and break his mother’s back, I see Predator Fodder.

And I’m not the only one. The predators see the same thing.

TLBS is right. It totally sucks. It’s frankly an outrage. But now that school shootings are starting to become as commonplace as carjackings in Compton (sorry, I’m a sucker for an easy alliteration), something will have to be done.

It’s part of the decline of American civilization, if you want it right between the eyes. All empires have their days – if you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know I believe that – and they almost always crumble from within, usually as a result of the lifestyle disparity between the haves and have-nots. (Enough have-nots get pissed and the next thing you know, Marie Antoinette is losing her head in the public square.)

Obviously, what these school shooters are lacking isn’t cash, and this phenomenon seems to cross all red state/blue state lines. But as a parent, I can’t just sit back and enjoy the spectacle of the species devouring itself on cable TV like I did when I was single. These days, that’s George Carlin’s job.

So although it sucks that kids can’t be kids, we give up our rights piecemeal all the time. Before 9/11, we could wait with our loved ones in the airport terminal till the plane came. It sucks that we can’t now, but after a while, it becomes the new normal. And let’s not even mention the Patriot Act…

I would rather have the New Normal be an intrusively high-security public education experience than a 50/50 chance our kids won’t come home from school on any given day. Think of it as a doctrine of pre-emption, until only recently all the rage in DC.

Toward that end, I propose redeploying the National Guard to our public schools, protecting our absolutely most important DOMESTIC assets, rather than filling bodybags in Iraq or ‘patrolling’ the Mexican border to keep us safe from the threat of cheap labor. At least until we can come up with, fund and implement a more comprehensive technological solution, to make this nation’s schools the armed camps they are inevitably going to have to be; The New Normal around the corner.

If I was in Congress, I would come back from campaigning this fucking second and introduce a bill. From a strictly political standpoint, this issue could be a huge winner for whoever has the mixture of balls and simple common sense to make it happen.

It’s an ugly solution, but the alternative is even uglier. It’s time we faced reality and proactively take control of what the New Normal is gonna be, before the New Normal bends us over a school desk and takes control of us.