Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dave Cockrum, 1943-2006

One of my favorite comic-book artists died yesterday. Although his name may be unfamiliar to most of you, if you’ve enjoyed any of the X-Men movies, you owe Mr. Cockrum – co-creator of at least half of the movie franchise’s characters – a direct debt of gratitude.

I’ve bought thousands (millions?) of comic books in my lifetime; his are some of the rare few I remember where and when I was when I picked them up. His superheroes had heft, and his superheroines had curves, baby! Storm (played by Halle Berry in the movies) never looked sexier than when Cockrum drew her.

When I dreamed of drawing comic books as a kid, I dreamed of drawing them like Dave Cockrum did. He’d been off the scene and ill for a while now, but before diabetes took him, he achieved something I still dream of: he created characters and artwork that will remain relevant and continue to inspire long after he has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Peaceful journey, Mr. Cockrum. Thanks for the dreams of heroes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One day at a time

That’s how recovering drunks/addicts are advised to deal with their sobriety. If you look at the whole rest of your life being as hard as today is, you’re likely to pack it in and run, not walk, to the corner liquor store.

I never had that problem with shaking the monkeys off my back, luckily. When the opportunity to stop drinking presented itself, I just jumped on for the ride. No weirdness, no Meetings or sponsors or trauma or drama. I was ready. Same with meth some 15+ years ago. I was ready.

But now I’m applying the 12-Step credo where it can actually do me some good – parenting.

I am, ultimately, an extremely selfish guy. I need stuff my way; I need my life to make sense, and have some serious structure. In the absence of structure, I am a fucking menace. Ask anyone who knew me as a kid.

Now I’m a parent, and every day brings new compromises and introduces new chaos into my carefully constructed order. When I sit down and look at the foreseeable future, I just want to get in the car and drive far, far away and keep driving till I fall off the end of the world, or Dumbleyou achieves “victory” in Iraq, whichever comes first.

And not wear a seat belt.

So I try not to take the long view, because seriously, the long view scares the shit out of me. We’re in a small town, hundreds of miles away from our family and friends infrastructure. Babysitters are practically impossible to nail down because they’re all college students and their schedules change A) every two months and B) on any random whim.

Because we live hand-to-mouth, our domestic circumstances are meager. The Man Cub shares a bedroom with us, which means that every day starts hours before dawn with piercing shrieks and drags on like molasses till I escape into slumber as soon after sundown as I possibly can.

I’ve been battling clinical depression since the day he was born, and with The Missus’ impending 8-5, M-F work schedule looming (starting next month)… the prognosis is not good.

When I was single, I had all the Me Time in the world. Too much, if all the booze, pills and snort was any indication. After we got married, we worked out a deal where I got the better part of one day a week of Me Time. The Missus bent over backwards to accommodate my needs, and it was good. It was tough sledding at first, but we made it work.

I’m sure you can see where this is heading.

Yes, my Me Time in now virtually at zero, and soon to be plunging into negative numbers.

If I cast my thoughts several years down the road, I can see a happy outcome. We’re in a house, the boy is in school, the wife is climbing the ladder of success and I have a little bit of Me Time back and I’m no longer at the jumping off point to insanity almost every moment of almost every day. I just don’t see the bridge between here and there. I honestly don’t see me making it till then.

I can barely see me making it to bedtime tonight.

And that is why I never write about my personal life, and concentrate almost exclusively on politics and pop-culture ephemera.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Just figured something out

With The Missus’ swell new job requiring her to keep 8-5 office hours Monday through Friday, guess who just picked up his second simultaneous full-time job?

That’s right! Now, I’ll not only be producing 5 newspapers and 2 websites every week, I’ll somehow be magically doing it while providing full-time parenting to our restless Man Cub.

Except for the weekends, when I do most of the actual newspaper production. Then I’ll have to squeeze my newspapering in around nap schedules, which in this house is a formidable challenge! Good thing I’m never one of the nappers – more time to work!

We’re talking about bringing in more babysitters, but that won’t be financially feasible till the new job kicks in completely, after the next quarter of classes, so maybe March or April?

Check your local papers – if I don’t turn up in the obits, it’s been a good day.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

SIX A.M.!!

A miserable time to wake up on a Saturday morning, unless the usual time is 4 a.m.

I definitely don’t expect that this battle is over, but last night’s skirmish went to me!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving. I am compelled to reflect.

I turned on the TV this morning expecting the usual soggy parade coverage from New York (sidebar: I really hate parades, unless I’m in them, and even then it was more about the drinking than the waving at the folks); instead I’m greeted by Breaking News Coverage! of extra-specially awful carnage from Iraq on every major news channel. I can’t even make myself recite the details. It’s all too horrible.

So I actually escaped to MTV and took in the latest overwrought eye candy from the Pussycat Dolls, featuring some rapper with whose work I am unfamiliar (ahem...). It would have been fairly hilarious with the sound turned off. But this morning, the music critic in me took a back seat to the guy who wanted to try to enjoy a happy family Thanksgiving, and the news from Baghdad made the soft-core porn on MTV look even better than usual.

After all, I’m doing pretty good. It’s a couple of hours later now. Everyone’s up. I’m listening to the new Tom Waits triple-CD courtesy of The Best Man who was thoughtful enough not to make me wait till Christmas for it. He’s not The Best Man for nothing.

I’m falling hard for “La Femme Nikita” on DVD. This show’s running theme is an examination of different shades of moral ambiguity, and that a show with this much eye candy has a theme at all is more than I was expecting. (Don’t use Blockbuster online, though. Their interface is clunky and I had an impossible time trying to re-order a disc that they had sent me the wrong thing of... My point is, Netflix is much more reliable. They’re sending me the disc I couldn't reorder from Blockbuster.)

The big news is that The Missus landed herself the career-track gig we knew was waiting for her out there. It starts next year and promises to improve our circumstances and allow us to begin paying down some debt. What’s that you say, debt?

Hopefully the new gig will also allow us to move out of this crappy apartment complex; unfortunately it will keep us in this same small town of searing sun and dingy downpour with precious little climate variation in between. I want a garage for my personal crap that’s currently in storage across town. I want a back yard so we don’t have to keep walking the dog six times a day.

And we both want a room for The Man Cub. He’s more than a year old now and will probably be almost two by the time we escape this dump. High time for a young padawan to have his own place to hang his light-saber.

DIGRESSION: If we don’t have him sleeping through the night by then, we never will. I took that over as my new Special Project a couple weeks ago. He’d been waking up bang at 4am, even after the time change! It was killing me and I decided I would not go quietly into that early morning. So me and the boy have been working on it since. The trend-line looks good, but I don’t want to jinx it by saying anything prematurely. (We did sleep till 5:30 this morning, though! My immediate goal is 6am. I can live with getting up at 6am, I cannot live with getting up at 4am.)

So that’s the news around the house, and it’s all good. And what fool wouldn’t be grateful for that, if a national holiday happened to compel him to examine such issues in his life?

Not this fool.

To which, The Man Cub adds:


Sunday, November 19, 2006


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

W finally ships out to the ‘Nam – 30+ years too late

Where are Daddy’s connections when you need them? Oh yeah, they’re all busy trying to dig junior out of his godawful catastrophe in Iraq. ... Oops.

Oh dear sweet sonny Jesus, are the late-night comedians going to have a field day with Bush going to Vietnam. The jokes are already busy writing themselves! I’ve decided to sit it out and leave it to the professionals, but I did want to get out ahead of the piling on, and now I have.

Democrats take Congressional power back and the very next week Bush is finally compelled to go to Vietnam? The visit will likely top several news cycles, and all that lovely MSM airtime will have to be filled with speculating about something...

Oh yeah, and in between those two events, Trent Lott, the cracker-ass Senator from Mississippi who Bush couldn’t kick to the curb fast enough during his mini-scandal a while back? Just promoted to the new #2 guy in the Senate. Bet ya didn’t see that one coming either, did you Karl?

Enemies to the Left and to the Right – what’s a self-appointed God’s-Right-Hand-Man to do?

Am I a bad person to be so richly enjoying Bush’s presidency crumbling around his ears?

Fuck no. I’ve been waiting for six years for his karma to catch up with him and it’s come about six years too late. Too late for the thousands of our American brothers and sisters who have died needlessly in Iraq; too late for untold thousands of Iraqi civilians slain in the power vacuum he created over there; too late for Katrina victims, the environment, the minimum-wage earner, this list could go on forever.

Two more years to go (barring the impeachment he so richly deserves). How many more lives? If Bush had gone to Vietnam with his less well-connected peers (as well as some of his equally well-connected peers like Johns McCain and Kerry) thirty-some years ago… I shudder to think of how many lives might have been saved in the last six years and the coming two.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The DVD Grab-Bag

Wow. Still giddy from the Congressional election/Secretarial firing. Obviously I have more thoughts on all that, but I have decided to give it a rest, at least until after the Sunday morning talk shows.

Been keeping notes on some of the stuff I’ve been watching between working, parenting and not getting enough sleep. In no particular order:

“Garden State” Natalie Portman is gorgeous, Audrey-Hepburn meets Grace Kelly beautiful, but you should definitely not waste your time on this film. It’s mostly about this slacker 20-something dude who’s made it big in Hollywood but has to go home to Jersey to deal with family shit. It just screams “Thinly-Veiled Autobiography!” Rent “The Closer” instead – Nat does a ten-minute scene as a stripper wearing a t-back and little else. No idea what the story’s about, but it’s ten times the film “Garden State” is. For less money than it took to make this movie, the filmmaker could have resolved his issues with a good shrink and saved us two hours of our lives.

“The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.” I don’t know, I thought this one would be dirty, but it was just creepy and nihilistic. Isn’t Asia Argento supposed to be a sex kitten or something? She was a mess here, and carefully avoided nudity. What the hell? Other than those prurient disappointments, all this flick is is a travelogue of one kid’s wrecked childhood. The End, roll credits. I should have known when I saw Marilyn Manson’s name on the DVD sleeve that the film would be about nothing and make me feel bad.

Saw a really cool one the other day, “Hard Candy.” I’d heard it was a pedophile revenge flick starring that chick who played Kitty Pryde in X-Men 3, Ellen Page. The less you know about this one going in the better – it’s the twists and turns that make it so compelling. Despite the subject matter, it’s done in a totally non-exploitive way. (I’m sure there will be some angry feminists out there who will disagree with me, but they disagree with me on everything already anyhow.)

This Page girl is as good as the chick from “Thirteen” (Evan Rachel Wood) and the amazing-since-forever Jena Malone. I’d love to see them do a project together. That’s an Independent Film I’d pay to go see! I betcha Meryl Streep would play a Mom for scale, just to work with the cast.

Oh, if only I ran Hollywood instead of running nothing!

The new “Justice League Unlimited” set is out, and is terrific. Ditching the bloated, multi-part storyline format of previous incarnations, this is one lean and mean cartoon comic book series. NOT done in Japanimation, thankfully, each episode delivers 22 minutes of whiz-bang writing, action and (gasp!) character development featuring practically every star of the DC Universe. It’s been like delicious candy I’ve been sneaking, and junkie that I am, I’m already worrying over the day that I’ve seen them all and don’t have any new ones to discover (till they release the next season-set).

I’m also watching season two of Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant “West Wing.” Maybe he should have set his new NBC drama at the U.N. (as in a plotline in “Studio 60…”). West Wing is so fucking good, it makes Studio 60 look like an Andy Warhol ‘interpretation’: the same elements whisked and whirled around to less satisfying results than the source material, although in fairness, so far it (the show, not Warhol’s work) has gotten better every week.

I saw “The Proposition,” what looks like a Spaghetti Western (although filmed in Australia) and written by Nick Cave, one of our favorite recording artists here at the home den. Cave wrote and performed the song (via CD) that The Missus and I danced to at our wedding. This is a GREAT western flick. Starts off a little slow, but quickly builds steam and in no time at all is separating the squeamish from the less squeamish. To say things end badly for most of the principals is not really giving too much away.

“The Tick vs Season One” Another animated show that is pure, twisted, existential genius. The live-action version had its virtues (chiefly its cast), but for my money, nothing beats the original animated series. Currently wildly overpriced, this is one to Netflix unless you want to wait for the price to come down.

Speaking of Netflix, been watching “La Femme Nikita” with Peta Wilson lately, season one. Excellent show! Like “Alias” without all the complicated “Lost”-like mythology. Every episode is self-contained, well-written and produced, and Wilson is a very charming, attractive screen presence.

Also watching the cancelled-in-no-time “Wonderfalls,” on the recommendation of The Last Boy Scout. Cute show, lazy premise, attractive cast. As the episodes progress, the lead actress is costumed in ever more revealing outfits. Too bad it only went twelve or thirteen episodes.

Another great Netflixer is the first season of “Tru Calling.” Overused premise, over made-up star, by-the-numbers sci-fi series, cancelled early in its second season. What I like about it is Eliza Dukshu (Faith, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer)’s boobs, the bright, breezy production treatment, and the fact that every episode gets more interesting than the one before. It’s like the writers were figuring out the mythology on the fly. Too bad it got the axe prematurely too. Recommended with the usual Sci-Fi reservations.

There’s always something excellent on over at TCM. Just yesterday I caught a great Jimmy Stewart anti-Nazi flick from 1940 called “The Mortal Storm.” Awesome! Stewart plays a German who resists the Nazi takeover of his country and suffers the repercussions that follow. It’s fascinating; they paint a vivid portrait of National Socialism’s anti-Semitic persecution without ever mentioning the word Jew or Jewish. This must have been one of Stewart’s last film’s until the end of the war, because unlike other healthy male movie stars of the time (for example, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan), Mr. Stewart (like fellow thesp Clark Gable) was flying bombing missions over occupied Europe instead of making movies in Hollywood during WWII. They don’t come any more American than Jimmy Stewart, or Turner Classic Movies.

I also seem to recall also seeing this foreign flick called “Next Door,” where everybody looks unhealthy. Not unhealthy diseased; unhealthy like they never go outside and only eat rocks and twigs. An unhealthy pallor. That’s all I remember about it, so I probably can’t recommend it.

What I can’t seem to recall is a recent night’s decent sleep. That being the case, I’d better go grab what I can. This has already gone on self-indulgently long, and to punish myself, I’m gonna post it without proof-reading it.

Ha! I’ll show me…

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


This day just keeps getting better!

Goodness golly, I wonder if he'll be made the official Scapegoat for the whole Iraq boo-boo...? Someone will have to take the blame, after all, and it's certainly not going to be The Decider. That would imply a treasonous lack of infallability on W's part.

Speaking of whom...

Didn't Dumbleyou just promise last week Rummy was staying through the rest of his term? Flip-flopping little man, little lying president, you. What else have you been lying to us about?

...Let's find out!

Cry havok and let slip the dogs of war!

Oh wait, we already did that….

Now that we can, we need to investigate how, why and who let those puppies out to begin with.

Ready, set – subpoena!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day at last!

My GOP buddy The Last Boy Scout asked me a question about the election this morning, and I like my answer enough to let it be my post for the day. Thanks dude...

TLBS writes:
Tell me now, before the election: If the Republicans somehow manage to keep a majority in the House, will you join the conspiracy theorists who will say that Diebold fixed the election, and that that's why Bush has been so confident in the past few weeks?

I replied:
This question (and it’s a good, fair one) demands a longer answer than I have time for right now. Let me axe you this, my brother: How close to Conspiracy Theory would YOU be if the nation’s election-counting machines were produced by, say, George Soros? And squeaker elections just kept happening to go the way of the election-counting machine maker’s politics?

That having been said...

I think Bush is acting confident because as the savvy pol he is (not to be mistaken for a capable administrator), he realizes it would be suicide to not put on The Brave Face. I think any conspiracy complicated enough to throw a national election in America has to be happening above Bush’s pay grade. “In other words,” as Bush is so fond of saying as he is about to mischaracterize an issue for his dwindling, fawning masses, I don’t think he’s smart enough to be looped-in to any large conspiracy, should one exist.

As far as whether a conspiracy exists – call me old fashioned, but I’ll follow the facts, which tend to come to light after incidents, not precede them. Put me in the “Undecided” category for now.

Finally, if you guys keep both houses of Congress, all I can say is the people who voted that way will continue to get the lame-ass, criminally incompetent government they deserve, while progressive types like me will just continue to get screwed.

My prediction? The day will come when you look back on your support on GW Bush and wish you could ask for a Mulligan.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Saddam gets the death penalty, and the GOP spokesmonkey on Meet The Press this morning hails his impending execution as “moving toward democracy.”

If sentencing people to hang is by definition democracy, it looks a lot like Saddam’s reign to me. No wonder the Iraqis are in no hurry to embrace it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Republican Secrets and Lies

Today’s news cycle refocuses the omniverous media spotlight (finally!) on a much more welcome conversation as the election nears: self-loathing gay Republicans caught with their lying, hypocritical pants down. They’re the new Starbucks; there’s one on every corner! Maybe Ted Haggard and Mark Foley will meet in rehab and make a love connection.

Now your typical man-on-the-street, workaday self-loathing gay Republican – this guy/gal I feel sorry for. Throughout history, society hasn’t exactly thrown out the welcome mat for same-sexers. I’m 44, and when I was a kid in middle America in the late 60s/early 70s, I had a funny walk. Apparently, I walked too much on my toes for my Dad’s comfort. He impressed upon me that my walk made me come off effeminate, and that not only was that Bad, it was unacceptable. Being the obstinate prick I am, I never learned a more manly walk to perform for my Dad’s benefit; instead I suffered his withering witticisms which consisted mostly of him referring to me by girls’ names, or sissy-sounding boys names.

Friends, meet Alouicious Bastardson.

My point being, realizing you’re gay is no picnic still, even in today’s relatively enlightened society. And it sucks even more if that discovery comes at a time when you’re growing up in a home/social environment that teaches that your kind is wicked and evil. And mostly right there you have your recipe for your self-hating gay, of any political persuasion.

I always remember the quote attributed to black former congressman J.C. Watts’ father, “Being black and voting Republican is like being a chicken and voting for Col. Sanders.” You could sure say the same thing about being gay, especially now that the Evangelical Right has highjacked the social agenda of the Republican party.

And that’s where Mega-Minister to the television masses Ted Haggard comes in. It’s one thing to hate yourself and do devious, sick things to sabotage any chance of real happiness you could have in this life. It’s another thing altogether to abuse a position of power to actively agitate, endorse and promote a poltical/social/religious agenda that restricts the civil rights of other people in your same situation.

That’s what’s sick, not being gay.

The fact that even this early on Haggard has admitted to “some indiscretions” suggests to me that Mr. Haggard knows there is a smoking blue dress somewhere. Probably photos or videos. These TV preachers are peacocks and love to worship at the altar of their own reflection. This just in – it’s voice mail recordings! I’ll lay odds there are pictures, too.

It has to make you wonder how many more of these picture-perfect WASP motherfuckers running megachurches are protecting secret sexual second lives, while they scare their megaflocks with horror stories about ‘the homosexual agenda.’ They know better than anyone the ‘homosexual agenda’ doesn’t extend any further than “Say, don’t you think the couch would look better over there in the corner…?”

My Mom goes to one of those churches, and her pastor is always racing off to Africa to ‘build a church,’ and do some ministering to the disenfranchised, voiceless victims-in-waiting so abundant over there. Hmmm….

Every time I hear one of these right-wing, politically-active TV preachers sounding off on the news now (and there’s lots of them since this story broke), I look up at him and wonder, “Hmmm… I wonder what his secret is?”

Don’t you?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yay for Rummy and Cheney!

Just when the GOP was beginning to flog some seriously unearned traction out of Kerry’s flopped comedy gag joke (see previous post), Dumbleyou jumps in to announce that he is totally sticking with the reviled Vice president and the criminally incompetent SecDef through the rest of his reign… er, term.

Thanks for changing the news cycle, Mr. Dumbass-In-Chief! Thanks for cozying up to your base at the inevitable expense of the support of the Independents who goosed you over the top last time, Independents to whom Larry and Curley Joe are anathema. Ann Coulter’s gonna have to vote in a whole lot of different districts this time out to make up for the votes you’ve just chased away. Time to cash in those frequent flier miles, Annie!

Finally The President’s gross stupidity and intransigent stubbornness may stand to serve the greater American good, however inadvertently. Maybe democracy has a future in America after all.

Love you, Georgie. Stay stupid! Hugs!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Worst October Surprise EVER!

So John Kerry fumbles a punchline, and that’s what the GOP is grasping at, hoping to ride to an upset election success? These guys are desperate.

It would be sad if recent history hadn’t proven that Bush’s base are absolutely dying to be duped. “Tell us a lie we can believe, Mr. President! Tell us a lie that the nightly news doesn’t expose as poppycock on a daily basis (hint: even we, your goose-stepping base, are no longer buying that we are turning Iraq into a new Garden of Eden). Tell us a lie that builds on a lie we’ve already embraced, like the one where decorated VietNam volunteer John Kerry hates America and is weak on defense. See? It doesn’t even have to be a lie that makes any common sense at all. Just tell us we look pretty and we’ll love you forever!”

And now the GOP hit machine is obligingly trying to crank out another last-minute winner, attempting to spin wispy cobwebs of bullshit into pure election gold. I guess Rush Limbaugh bitch-slapping Parkinson’s victims on his radio comedy show didn’t do the trick for them. Thank God Kerry remains as stiff a campaigner as he ever was, and we already know he hates America…

Seriously, can you believe the sheer gall of these people (Bush, Rove, et al) so blatantly misrepresenting someone’s limp (and poorly delivered!) joke and expecting their electorate to be so stupid as to eagerly lap up their counter-intuitive spin of it?

(And a special Shame On You to John McCain for jumping on the bandwagon. You used to stand for something better, sir. The “Straight Talk Express” has long since left the station.)

This election isn’t so much a referendum on the Iraq War as it is on the gullibility of Bush’s stalwart one-third of the electorate.

Are they going to be as easily led to the slaughter this year as they have for the last six? Next Tuesday will tell the tale.