Saturday, December 30, 2006

Speaking of the former Mr. Hussein

I like to fancy myself a Newspaperman, as that is the industry I love and in which I am currently gainfully employed. So when I look at the news (which I do all the time), I don’t just look for the content, I like to see how a news organization uses context, too. Context is interesting, because among other things it does is reveal the reporting entity’s prejudices, should there be any.

Take the case of the death of Saddam Hussein. I thought the different approaches taken by CNN and FOX on their websites spoke volumes about the objectivity and credibility of the respective organizations.

Check them out. I’ll report, you decide!


Celebrity Deaths

…and Saddam makes three. If we really wanted to punish the motherfucker, we would have consigned him to an eternity of moving a lifetime of unnecessary belongings from one shabby domicile with substandard amenities to another. A quick hanging – snap, and it’s over – was way too good for that guy.

Meanwhile, our move just continues to give.

Utilities Day sure brought a smile to my face. I expected to not get any work done; how spectacular a fashion in which I would not achieve any of my goals, that was unexpected.

All I wanted was to have our internet hooked up (so I can do my damn job) and the satellite TV enabled. In a perfect world, the internet would’ve been up in 20 minutes and the TV in a couple hours at most.

This is so not a perfect world.

The internet guy, a taciturn young man with a long goatee and a snotty attitude (we’ll call him Arno) showed up bang on time, bless his heart, while I was on the phone directing the hapless, hours-late-already satellite guy to our new pad. I introduced myself to Arno as the guy who had talked to him on the phone many times that he always seemed to be in a big hurry to get rid of. He mumbled, “Mmm. I’m like that with everyone.”

I totally believe him.

I turned him loose on the wireless gizmo while I walked to the end of our new driveway, phone in hand, and waved the satellite guy to our front door.

Well, Arno fumbled and futzed in irritable silence with our internet situation while the satellite guy (hereafter known as Grant) backed his crumpled, duct-taped pickup truck into the driveway. “I’m a private contractor” he offered.

Again, it was easy to believe he was not a member of DTV’s front-line A-Team.

Thank god our favorite babysitter was on duty, and I did not want to make a bigger asshole out of myself in front of her than I already have, or I would’ve taken both of these guys’ heads off by day’s end.

Arno came and went pretty quickly – either our router was broken or AT&T dropped the ball on their end – whatever, Arno had to run back to Dickweed Home Base to get another router to troubleshoot the problem. Like the movers who had showed up the day before without a single tool, even a screwdriver, Arno had arrived without any contingencies in place for a less than effortless installation. This enabled me to concentrate more exclusively on the comedy of errors that was Grant the satellite guy.

Turns out he was not only unfamiliar with our kind of installation situation – a fact he reiterated repeatedly over the next six hours – he also grew increasingly agitated as the hours slipped by and his myspace date that night approached. I told him the DTV phone lady promised he’d hook up our satellite and network it in with our DVD players and VCRs as part of the deal. This made Grant laugh. Did he remember to mention he’s an independent contractor? Yes, I assured him, he’d mentioned it a couple times already.

So while he was crawling around the attic doing god-knows-what, knocking huge clumps of asbestos-laced crud on the carpet right outside The Man Cab’s room, Arno returned, new router in hand. In no time at all, he had muttered that the problem was with AT&T and he would have to put in a trouble ticket with them to get the issue resolved. With one final dull, contemptuous glare he was gone – and we still didn’t have any internet.

I even tried to dial-up from my office, which is when I learned that of all the dozen or so phone jacks in the house, the only one that actually works is the one in the kitchen. So, no phone in the office for me till we pay the phone company an arm and a leg to come out and sort out the situation. Grant told me the attic was a tangle of phone lines, but then again, this was Grant. They could have just been residual streamers from his last LSD trip… or his current one. I’m not sure.

Anyhow, to make a long story short [TOO LATE!] Grant stayed six hours setting up one dish and two receivers, stunk up the house with cigarette smoke then extorted $50 from us before he would leave. By then, fifty clams seemed like a small price to pay to have our privacy back. And he was still unable to figure out how to hook up our VCRs into the data stream, so that task will fall to me, assuming I ever get this weekend’s work started, let alone finished.

On the plus side, The Missus kicked some serious ass all day, cleaning the old apartment, grocery shopping, buying me flowers the babysitter and I both agreed I didn’t deserve then going to the Laundromat and doing laundry till ten o’clock at night.

So now it’s Saturday morning. Our internet connection is up but turns itself off randomly as it sees fit, we have digital TV but no access to our [my] thousands of hours of videotapes, and one long weekend of setting up house for The Missus, and the production of five community newspapers and two related websites for me ahead of us.

But we’re in, we’re up and tenuously running; and more importantly, with the death of Saddam Hussein, maybe, just maybe, Dumbleyou has finally resolved his Daddy Issues and we can start bringing our kids home from His Excellency’s Excellent Adventure in the Middle East.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Moving is fun!

Coming home after a long car drive from Christmas in SoCal [in which The Man Club puked all over the back seat about 30 minutes into the 7-hour trip] to find a week’s worth of rain-soaked, moldering newspapers piled up outside our apartment door – after having spent literally twenty minutes fucking around on the phone to get a vacation hold placed – that’s fun, too. It’s so much fun, I had a complete shitfit and kicked the whole soggy mess off our 2nd floor corridor down to the ground floor below, taking out one of the complex’s carefully potted plants in the doing.

That actually was fun.

I was already in a mood. We got a late start home because instead of setting an alarm clock to wake us at the desired time, I allowed myself to be convinced to let The Man Cub get us up when he awoke, in the apparent assumption that he would rise at the exact time we needed him to.

Hard to believe a rock-solid plan like that didn’t pan out, but so it goes.

Every time I abdicate responsibility in a decision-making process, things end up going badly. But I never learn, mainly because I don’t want to come off as a tyrant, insisting on my own way all the time, but when I don’t… well, things just don’t pan out.

So yesterday was supposed to be our big pack-up-everything-the-movers-aren’t-moving day. I rose before dawn and began packing up everything the movers weren’t going to be moving. When The Missus woke up, she approached me about the babysitter we had engaged for the day. She began, “About the babysitter…”

“Ooh,” I said excitedly, my eyes alight with new hope. “You want to have her come over an hour early?!”

To make a long story short, it turned out, no, she wanted to do some shopping first, then take the babysitter out to lunch and then begin the big final push. So instead of the 10am start that would have allowed us to dispatch all the work we had left to do, her efforts started at 2pm and concluded a couple hours later when she informed me she had ‘hit a wall.’ So our apartment remains full of most of the stuff I had delegated to her, except for the stuff that we don’t have boxes for, that had we stayed on schedule yesterday we would have had time to go out and buy the extra boxes we need. So we’ll pay the movers to move it instead. It’s only money, after all.

So now it’s the big day of the Big Move. The movers are late, so I call them up. The home office is puzzled – they should be here by now! I concurred. They should be here by now. The home office promises to call the guys in the truck and get back to me. A couple minutes later my cell phone rings, it’s the truck guys. They had a little truck problem, and the truck is in the shop. Clearly, they didn’t think this was the sort of information the client would like to know. They promised me that they’d be here in 30-45 minutes. That was an hour ago, and counting.

Naturally, one of my newspapers deadlines at noon today. Had all our shit been out of here except for the furniture like it was supposed to be, I might have been able to hit my deadline, even with the truck late. Had the truck been on time, I might have been able to hit my deadline even with all the extra shit left to be moved.

As it is, I’ll undoubtedly blow my deadline. Sure do hope I get fired. That’ll show me!

I’m so excited to see what happens tomorrow when two more items outside of my area of absolute control are scheduled to occur – the satellite-TV guy and the internet guy both have appointments to come over and hook us up. I’ll bet they both go swimmingly.

I’m telling you, moving is fun. It must be, because we’ve moved an average of once a year since relocating to Christmas Island. This after having lived in my previous place eight years, and the one before that five.

I suppose I could just keep on writing forever this morning, waiting for the movers to arrive, but if I’m not careful, my carefully concealed mask of cynicism and dismay may begin to crack, just a little.

And I totally wouldn’t want to give the impression that moving is anything less than fun, fun, fun.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Godfather has left the building


File this post under Blue Christmas.

Go well, brother James. May your journey be a peaceful one.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fang’s pathetic excuse for a Christmas Letter:

Or “Great Moments in Douschebaggery (Part II)”

No time to blog lately. Life is blowing up (figuratively; I haven’t shipped out to Iraq. Yet.) all around us. In addition to my long-standing disdain for the holidays – Thanksgiving through New Years – The Man Cub is cutting molars, so nobody’s sleeping nights these days. Lovely timing, with the end of the school quarter blessing The Missus with hundreds of papers to grade in addition to the general chaos brought about by the move across town occurring between now and New Year’s Day. Add the regular demands of my old job and her cool new one, mix in an 8-hour car drive to the in-laws for Christmas (and back) and you’ve got the recipe for a holiday season not soon to be forgotten.

That’s what the booze used to be for. Ah, sweet forgetfulness.

I finished this year’s writing project – an epic three-hour superhero screenplay – and I have no idea how I found the time, but I’m grateful I did. Besides that, this year has been all about The Man Cub and The Missus (dissertation, PhD, job search and acquisition, etc.). We’ve agreed we’re gonna try to squeeze some more of my needs in next year – for instance, a couple of consecutive hours to myself here and there, spread liberally throughout the year. We’re even talking a little Day Care for the boy.

Speaking of whom, the new domicile has a separate room for the boy! That alone should work wonders for the sleeplessness issue. Maybe Cliz will send me a pair of earplugs for Christmas – I’m ready to give them a try!

And a special shout-out to my in-laws, whose assistance and generosity this year has made so many good things possible. I’m always in a funk and thus an intolerable asshole when they come to visit, and I’d hate for them to think my pissiness is a reaction to their presence. They just keep catching me at a bad time: Parenthood.

So thanks, Mr. and Mrs. The Missus. For all that I don’t show it, I really do appreciate you.

That’s the catch-up for now. Better hit the sack while I can, as The Man Cub could go off at any minute and that would be the end of this post’s relatively easy-going equanimity.

For the record, we had every good intention of doing a nice, proper Christmas Letter this year, but time got away from us. Then we were gonna throw together a half-assed web page containing the usual Christmas Letter info, but time got away from us there, too. Now I had some more excuses as to why no one will hear from us this year-end who doesn’t read our blogs, but I’m afraid the time has gotten away from me again…

So Merry Christmas, and all that irritating stuff. Here’s hoping that 2007 finds you prosperous, me in a better humor, and our brave fighting men and women coming home in droves from the middle east.


Great Moments in Douschebaggery…

...salutes W Axl Rose this week. (Why is there always a “W” involved…?)

After foolishly having purchased tickets to the Axl Rose Traveling Vanity Show and Train Wreck last year, then suffering a last-minute postponement days before the scheduled show date, The Last Boy Scout forwards me the following item from his buddy who writes entertainment for the local rag:

Uh, this is a real shocker but Guns N' Roses just scrapped its Christmas Island show scheduled for Jan 10., along with the rest shows in Reno, Bakersfield and San Diego. The reason? Well, let's just let Axl Rose explain, as he does in this bit from the press release:

“Due to the schedule of these particular shows valuable time needed by the band and record company for the proper setup and release of the album Chinese Democracy would be lost. Rather than delay the album yet again all involved have decided to remove these shows from GNR’s schedule. We sincerely hope our fans understand and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone. Tickets may be refunded at local point of purchase.”

Then Axl goes on to blather about this alleged fucking album he’s been trying to pop out his poopchute since giving the sack to Slash and the rest of the real Guns & Roses some TEN YEARS AGO!! My concert was scuttled so he could continue to fail to release his first new product in over a decade.

He goes on:

“In the end it’s just an album and one that I, the band, our record company and all involved believe and feel is a true Guns N’ Roses album.”

What a load of horse puckey. A true GNR album would feature Slash, Duff and Izzy Stradlin, not his current handful of salaried employees and horn section. But that’s just the kind of line of bullshit you’d expect from this arrested-adolescent, self-impressed twit.

His statement rambles on for a few more paragraphs in the same back-slapping vein, but what it comes down to is, once again this jerk has disappointed his fans. My only consolation is, after ten+ years out of the pop music marketplace (the last actual GNR track was recorded for the soundtrack to “Interview With a Vampire” in 1994 for Christ’s sake!), he’s cooked his goose pretty well. Probably in another ten years, I’ll be able to pay a $5 cover charge to go catch his nostalgia act at the local dive bar with the house band backing him up.

And he’ll look like an even creepier botoxed, cornrowed shadow of the Axl Rose who mattered for a couple years between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. “Table for one at the Ashbin of History – Mr. W Axl Rose, your seat is ready!”

I’m telling you, it’s got to be the “W” that produces this kind of delusionary hubris. Can it really be coincidence?

Monday, December 11, 2006

“Apocalypto,” and how!

As expected, “Apocalypto” kicks mucho ass. Its director Mel Gibson is to action movies what Wagner is to grand opera – a bona-fide, no kidding around about it genius! … who just really happens to be mad as a hatter and hates Jews for inciting all the wars in the world. Funny, I didn’t see any Jews in “Braveheart” or this film, but I’m not here to lend credence to his bigotry by pointing out its baselessness.

This, by god and sonny Jesus, is a movie review, not a Cultural Studies term paper.

As with his previous snuff flick, the chief shortcoming in “Apocalypto” is in the story area. In “The Passion of the Christ,” Gibson took a story about arguably the world’s most influential philosopher who then allegedly rose himself from the grave after death!!! and reduced it to the sorry spectacle of watching someone be tortured to death in real time.

He brings a similarly deft touch to the storyline here, although it is sliiiightly more developed. To wit: Mayan peasants hunt boar, Mayan peasants are kidnapped for sacrifice by Mayan rulers, one escapes to save his young family and the chase is on!

Gibson doles this story out over almost two and a half hours, but thanks to his skill as a director, the action never lags. I covered my eyes repeatedly during the goriest scenes (didn’t really need to see some hunter eat freshly cut boar testicles, thank you), nor the decapitations nor the chase through the mass grave, etc., ad nauseum. And man, I do mean ad Nauseum.

There’s even an O Henry ending that ties a lot of what precedes it together, as well as re-contextualizing the entire spectacle. Mel’s got a bigger point to make here, if you make it all the way to the end of this flick.

Still, I’m shocked it came in number one at the box office this weekend, even at a very weak 14 million bucks. I’m happy for Disney which threw $100M+ into making and marketing this thing, that they have bragging rights of an opening weekend victory to see them through the financial bath this film will take.

Obviously, with a subtitled, ultra-violent, R-rated flick starring a cast of brown-skinned unknowns, the whole marketing campaign would have to have supposed to have been Mel, Mel, Mel and more Mel. Mel with Matt Lauer, Mel with Jay Leno, Mel with Jon Stewart, Mel with Regis and Kathy Lee – you get the idea. When Mel’s drunken, anti-semetic rant occurred, the suits at Disney had to have known their film was gonna arrive dead on arrival. Instead of the full-court media blitz they were counting on the director for, all they got was a half-contrite, half-self-denial interview with Diane Sawyer about alcoholism and racism, and Mel’s comments to someone in defense of Michael Richards’ racist rant. (Mel accused the media of “torturing the guy,” then wished him well.)

So as I say, the fact that it won even a very weak box office battle its first week out had to have been greeted with sighs of relief in Burbank, but the long-range prognosis is no “The Passion of the Christ.”

Anyhow, this film improves greatly on “The Passion…” if only because it contains an actual story in between its startling scenes of torture and abuse. Boycott it if you must – because of Gibson’s racism, or the film’s extreme and graphically presented violence, or whatever other reason you have, but know that you are missing one hell of an excellent, exciting piece of action filmmaking.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Fucking Grammy Bullshit

I don’t know why I’m surprised or even care, but the nominations were announced today, and the two best records of this year failed to even make the final five.

For the record, the two best Folk/Americana releases of the year are Kris Kristofferson’s “This Old Road” and Johnny Cash’s “100 Highways.”

In the category they would have been eligible for, Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album, the nominations were “Solo Acoustic Vol. 1” by Jackson Browne; “Black Cadillac” by Rosanne Cash; “Workbench Songs” by Guy Clark; “Modern Times” by Bob Dylan; and “All The Roadrunning” by Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris.

Jackson gets a nod because he’s a name the voting fogeys recognize from back when they were relevant in the music business, but his record – although very pleasant – is mostly a live greatest hits package. The records by Roseanne Cash and Guy Clark do not represent their best work; only the Dylan disc and the surprisingly effective pairing of Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris deserve their nods.

MY list would be:
“Modern Times” by Bob Dylan
“All The Roadrunning” by Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris
“100 Highways” by Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin
“This Old Road” by Kris Kristofferson
“Throw Down Your Arms” by Sinead O’Connor

And they need a separate category for Tom Waits – whose existence the Academy is apparently wholly unaware of – that he would win by default every year he puts out a new CD. Maybe his new set, “Orphans,” was released after the eligibility date, but judging by the Grammys crap track record, I’m not sure it would make a difference anyhow.

Seriously, Grammys – you didn’t have to work half this hard to prove your total abysmal fucking worthlessness. Heckofajob.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

“We can achieve long-lasting peace in this country.”

The presidential Litany of Lies continues...

Due to having an infant in the house (or “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” as I call it), I was up 5am PST to hear W stumble through two minutes of disconnected ramblings regarding the Iraq Study Group Report.

Because YOU have a life and no doubt missed it, here are the only two things he said you need to know:

One, W accused nobody of doing “a heckuva job,” much to the relief, I’m sure, of the Group co-chairs sitting on either side of him.

And two, he declared, presumably speaking of Iraq, “We can achieve long-lasting peace in this country.” Seriously. With a straight face — not even the hint of a smirk.

So there you have it. Obvious reality, a mid-term house-cleaning of his party’s staunchest war supporters and Jimmy Baker and his study group’s findings notwithstanding, this is one delusional idiot who plans on Staying The Course, in spite of the continued cost in human life and the hemorrhaging of American political capital at the most dangerous point in world history in the last 50 years or so.

God help us all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Gates Nomination Hearing

Good god, why would anyone want the job of U.S. Secretary of Defense right now? I think agreeing to take the job should automatically disqualify a candidate on account of obvious mental defect.

Speaking of which… at the moment, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W Va, born ca 1800) is slooooowly running through his list of prepared questions. Man, there oughtta be a cut-off age for serving in the Senate. His actual line of questioning is a good one, but his ghastly near-death demeanor is an unfortunate distraction.

I could make a good SNL skit out of this, but seriously, there’s no way in hell I’d allow history to link my name with the Iraq War. FDR would have to rise up out of his grave and ask me to serve personally before I’d even consider taking the insanely shit gig Bush, Rummy and their pals have created for this Gates guy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

We have Toddling!

Last night I saw The Man Cub take his first unassisted steps. I only saw him take 5 or 6 to go from Grandma to The Missus, and they tell me as soon as I left the room, he toddled across its full width.

The little @#$%&!! is still not sleeping past 5 am, but we’re making progress on that, too. We’ve secured a small loan to cover moving expenses and one way or the other, we’ll be packing up the buggy and moving somewhere else in town by Jan. 1; somewhere that has a separate room for the boy, after which I will train his ass or he will break mine. But with a room of his own, at least I stand a fighting chance of coming out ahead on this one.

Took care of a lot of important family business this weekend, and the future is beginning to loom less and beckon more.

So there you have it. Looking forward to returning to covering political outrages. Doesn’t that Iraq Study Group thing come out this week? Leaked reports seem to suggest it will produce a series of go-along to get-along recommendations neatly in line with W’s current policy of “Let the next president figger it out. Heh heh.”

But that’s another post, not this one. This here is a happy post!