Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Dude Abides

A quick update on the home front:

The Man Cub is thriving, albeit still resisting sleeping the whole night through. He now sleeps soundly till around 5am, and won’t won’t won’t be kept up past 8 at night. Maybe I should start taking nighttime shifts with him, but I’ve seen him in action, and he’s quite adamant about his bedtime. Ready or not, he’s going to sleep.

Day care began a couple weeks ago, three days a week, with a woman the approximate size and cuddliness of Yoda whom we shall call Goda. She has all happy things to report.

He’s walking now, and working on talking. His first words, besides “Dada” (not my favorite Impressionist, but there’s no accounting for taste) are “Light!” which is applied in correct context better than 50% of the time, and “shoes” and “chicken,” both of which he pronounces approximately “Shith!”

I was planning on writing more about the boy tonight, but an insensitive freelance client just dropped a massive rush job on me, and in Fangland, bill-paying necessarily takes priority over blogging. Hope the photo fills in the gaps.

It’s not All Good yet, but it’s better than it was, and as long as we’re moving towards better and away from worse, I will count myself among the fortunate.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Devil Is In The Details

USA Today just ran an editorial supporting Bush’s proposed troop “surge.” The piece argued that the additional troops wouldn’t make Iraq any safer, but it would make the Americans already there safer.

That makes sense until you look at it a little closer. Then it’s just scary as shit:

The new battle plan involves embedding American soldiers into Iraqi regiments – and here’s the important part – these US G.I.s aren’t going to be returning to their fortified American bases after patrol anymore. No, they’ll be billeted in with their Iraqi brethren, in Iraqi-controlled quarters.

If I was a terrorist in Iraq, this news would be better than 72 virgins in heaven to me. What better way to kill Americans than to break them into smaller groups, surround them with armed Iraqis whose actual sympathies tend to be complicated at best, and separate them from their security structure while they sleep?!

“It’s rainin’ pennies from heaven…”

This blunder is going to go down as one of the worst in this war in terms of loss of American life, mark me. If I’ve thought of what a fabulous opportunity to kill ‘infidel Crusaders’ this plan represents – and I only randomly ponder jihad – you can bet your bottom dollar the insurgents have, too, and are already making plans of their own.

Now the insurgents don’t even have to “bring it on!” anymore. Bush is delivering to the enemy American servicemembers’ lives on silver platters.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

moveon.org is pissing me off

I’m usually a big fan of theirs – love your work, babe – but their latest ‘email update’ is a hit piece on Sen. John McCain, and I just think it’s a little early to be going negative on the opponent, especially when he’s only the putative opponent.

More than that, I don’t need to be reminded that when I step into a voting booth, I vote with my head if it and my heart disagree.

I already know John McCain is a cuddly TV teddy bear with an almost completely douschebag voting record, especially on the war. Really, I do. But just because I may think the amiable drunk who sells me singles at the liquor store is an interesting human being with a compelling life story doesn’t mean I want him calling the shots at the head of our government.

Besides, we already tried that and look where it’s got us.

If, god help me, it ever came down to voting for McCain or voting for Hillary, I’d grit my teeth and pull the level for Sen. Clinton. I hope it doesn’t come to that, in spite of part of me thinking, “How fucking cool would it be to have Bill Clinton back in residence at the White House! It would drive the GOP crazy!”

(I could choke back my Hillary gorge just with the image of Bill Clinton roaming the White House halls again at night, bathrobe and pipe, looking at the paintings of his predecessors on the walls… lingering lovingly, knuckle at his lips, squinting appreciatively in front of his own…)

But I’m afraid Hillary’s scabrous tele-personality – which she just demonstrated again at a live press conference where she worked her middle-of-the-road mojo getting hawkish… on Afghanistan – would keep that happy scene from ever playing out anywhere but my own head.

I’m watching her speak on TV and I just don’t like her. For the same reason I don’t like W’s speaking style; she’s saying little chunks of sentences, broken haphazardly, as she builds her next sentence in her head, while rotely performing the one she has just composed. It’s creepy. Even when she’s reading from a script there are these unnatural, mechanical pauses that – hey, transcript just fine! She looks smart (although dull) on paper, but she comes off like an automaton on TV.

I look at her speak off-the-cuff and all I see is a portrait of pure, naked ambition. I think Hillary has drunk from the well of the Hillary Kool-Aid. She’s all about looking like the next President of the United States.

If Hillary makes it to the general election, our collective left-leaning goose could be cooked because she and Obama would have to tear each other apart in the primaries just to survive, and the loonies on the fringes would really have a field day with her war record. And those are our friends.

I wish the Dems and their surrogates like moveon would spend more of their resources either finding, or crafting, a saleable opponent to the inevitable toothsome, telegenic White Christian Male Republican alternative, and less on snazzy oppo hate mail. The time will probably come when negative campaigning becomes inevitable, but two years out is good money before bad.

Move on.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Educutioner (©)

“Off with his head!”

As you may have heard, the Iraqis have bungled yet another high-profile execution, this one of Saddam’s half-brother, who became literally his half brother when his head popped off during his farewell necktie party.

It brings to mind a question.

How competent do you have to be to end the life of another motherfucker?! Most of the time, not very. People completely untrained and unprepared pull it off beautifully every day, from Sad’r City to the North Pole to Detroit, Rock City. And people with training (or a special kind of outlook on things) can make it into an unholy artform.

But the hapless dolts running Iraq fuck it up every time. Unbelievable…

Still, I’m not one to lob criticisms without offering any solid advice with which to follow them up. Lately, the White House has gotten a bit peeved with people who do that sort of thing, and who can blame them? (They're getting a bit touchy on the whole subject of the war...)

No, I'm here to help.

I know somebody with a kick-ass execution record. I mean while this guy was governor of Texas, his state’s execution chambers purred like well-oiled machinery. A bad guy walked in, a gurney rolled out. Shit, even an idiot couldn’t screw that up.

Therefore, in addition to the duties he is screwing up, I propose that W take immediate personal command of Iraq’s capitol punishment organization. Until recently, most of its current members’ only experience with government-sanctioned death squads was being on the wrong end of them. Of course there’s gonna be a learning curve, and who better to hurdle that educational challenge than the self-proclaimed “Educator in Chief” himself? He’s an educutioner!

The answer is as American as apple pie; if you want the job done right the first time, get the right guy to do the job.

In this case, the Educutioner is the answer.

DISCLAIMER: As a proud American, I feel grateful for having been allowed the opportunity to contribute to the national conversation on this gory and exciting issue of executing Iraqis more humanely.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

In defense of Dumbleyou on “60 Minutes”

A performance review.

Last night, my friend Cliz called me up (on the phone) to rant about the 60 Minutes interview she’d just watched with GW. She used terms like “blood boiling” and howled in derisive laughter at W describing himself as “the educator-in-chief.”

The interview hadn’t aired on Christmas Island yet (different time zone), so I had to send her away frustrated. But having seen it now, I felt compelled to come to Dumbleyou’s defense. Following is that noble, futile effort:

Dear Cliz,

Wow, do you have a low Dumbleyou threshold. In relative terms, this was a stellar performance. Only a few of his ‘tells’ were in evidence and he was generally on his best behavior. And the piece seems to have been edited together by Karl Rove. Was it only a day ago that Condi was caught on mic, off the record, confiding that along with the guys at Fox, all of whom she looooves, that 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft would be another journalist she would deign to allow to interview her?

Haaaa-aaaccckk!! Sorry, just coughed up a furball.

Content-wise, this piece offered nothing new, but that’s one of the hallmarks of W’s administration. He’s like a big dumb porch dog who only has one idea, and pursues it to the exclusion of everything else. No doubt, if W could lick his own balls, we wouldn’t be in Iraq today.

But there was no major oratorial malfunction, no Freudian Slips and the buzzwords were hewn (or edited) down to their bare minimum. On a performance level, I’d have to give him a solid B (he missed the “A” only as a result of there being no bullhorn handy nor pile of dead bodies to climb up on before speaking).

If this tame MMM-WAH! for the cameras got your blood boiling, it’s a good thing you don’t watch his more freewheeling press conference interviews. Those are the real syntactical train wrecks, where the lies are spread like fairy dust on Christmas morning...

Tonight, there’ll be the Golden Globes to look forward to – helpfully tape-delayed on the West Coast so we can read all about the wrap-up online before the show even begins on our TVs. When do you suppose the network Suits will figure out this is a scheduling scenario in need of an overhaul? So far, only the Oscars consider themselves important enough to go live at 5PM PST.

That’s why they’re the Oscars, darling...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Denier-in-Chief obfuscates again

This guy spends more time skirting the truth than his predecessor did chasing skirts.

Another speech, another pack of gung-ho bromides sprinkled with obtusely worded, strangulated mea-culpas: To wit, regarding his administration’s bungling of every aspect of the Iraq endeavor, he opined, “Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.”

Well, no shit, Sherlock. It’s just a short walk from that awkward sentence construction to the words that will never pass His Excellency’s lips, “I made a mistake.”

See, he’s Responsible. He’s a Decider, but not a Mistaker.

It really must have taken an act of God to get this dimwit to admit he had a drinking problem – I’m surprised it only took 40 years of blackouts and DUIs for Laura to push him toward that epiphany.

And now, just like the drunk he is, he’s denying he has an Iraq problem. It’s not his fault, it’s those darned, ungrateful Iraqis!

Classic Alkie behavior. It’s never their fault, it’s somebody else conspiring to ruin their fun. Don’t they know who his Daddy used to be?

Seriously, a real change of course is not going to occur until another intervention is staged, this time a political one. Like Laura allegedly read him the riot act when he was 40 (shoulda had that pre-nup in place, Gee-Dub), it’s going to take a gang of his most powerful former supporters storming the White House to shake this guy out of his stupor.

Like the gaggle of GOP Goodfellas who were tasked with telling Nixon when it was time for him to go, it will take a similar group of conservative statesmen to likewise convince W that the time to pull out of Iraq is now. And “Now” will be timed to coincide with the 2008 elections. Nobody, especially McCain, wants to run in 2008 with the current situation in Iraq still existing.

We’ll get out, but it will be years too late, for all the wrong reasons, and Dumbleyou will be dragged kicking and screaming to the table.

And he will never, ever honestly admit his mistakes – he’s leaving that to the historians.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A crazy-person’s look at New York’s big stink

I’m usually the last one to buy into conspiracy theories – from what I’ve seen, most people get dumber, not more clever, the more like-minded-folks they gather around them – but I had a creepy thought this morning…

What if that Big Stink in NYC that was ubiquitous in yesterday’s media was a test-run for a terrorist attack? What if that had been anthrax or ricin mysteriously permeating America’s Premier City instead of whatever benign odor it apparently was? (That’s assuming it was benign – what if it was a slow-acting toxin, designed to kill extra-slowly over time?)

(Admittedly, The Missus and I just finished watching a marathon of the last season of “24” on DVD last night and that almost certainly put me in this frame of mind.) But I stand by my paranoia. Here’s why:

Al Qaeda did a number of test runs on intercontinental flights before 9/11. Right down to the last detail short of commandeering the planes. What if yesterday’s malefic stench in NYC was a similar test run for a delivery vehicle for a more lethal air-borne attack to come?

It would definitely fit al Qaeda’s pattern.

What I can’t figure out is how come no one else has suggested this possibility? Or have they, but they’re all over on Paranoid Nutjob sites that I’ve never heard of?

We live in crazy times, and everyone agrees the question isn’t if there’ll be another big attack, but when. If I lived in a big city, especially New York, I’d be scared shitless right now.

Worse, if Pat Robertson turned out to be right on this one, my mother would never let me hear the end of it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Domestic Report, January 8, 2007 (Stardate unknown)

This post will be brief, as it is only designed to tidy up the loose ends and stray plot threads from the last few months of my life. It’ll be like the last 20 minutes of the third Hobbit film, only hopefully it won’t take any more than half that long to read, start to finish.

The house above is a renter not a lifetime commitment, but we’ll be damned if we want to move again. Ever. I aim to hang onto this place like my life depends on it. My goal is that our next move will be to Our Lifetime Commitment. I have maybe that many more moves in me (see inset).

The Man Cub is already sleeping through the night, after a first couple nights of extra attention as he got comfortable with his new surroundings. His up-hour is moving closer to 6 a.m. all the time, and he’s even hit it more than once since we moved in a scant ten days ago.

The Child Care situation, always a scary black backroad on a moonless midnight before, appears to have resolved itself surprisingly quick. After grim predictions from local citizens and child-care providers alike, what was expected to be a protracted search ended up a quick glance that by all accounts has yielded solid gold. The provider we found was ready to admit my little guy right away, but suddenly I didn’t want to let go. So we compromised, and I get to keep him at home with me another ten days or so. With babysitters watching him when I’m busy in my office, it’s like the dream dad scenario: Work as hard and as long as I want to, then stroll out and play with my son, whose actual needs are being seen to by hired professionals. Stroll back to work. Repeat.

This must be why celebrities and rich people (although we are neither) always gush about how faaaaabulous it is having kids – they’re not the ones being kept up nights, and spending their whole day every day keeping Junior from bathing in the dog’s water bowl or disassembling the electrical cords that run around the baseboard.

Actually, our problems just became more knee-level then ground level, again with the inset:

The Man Cub has embraced walking in just the last week with a vengeance, and now insists on shuffling awkwardly on his own everywhere. At the point where, naturally, one becomes required to deter him from his desired path of locomotion, the screaming, kicking and writhing ensues. That photograph is funnier, but nowhere near as cute, or accurate in its depiction of his normally sunny self.

Even the dog digs the new dump. His bed is central to the entire place and is bathed in sunlight half the day. A dog’s life, indeed.

The Missus’ kick-ass new job continues to reap rewards: It was a colleague of hers that directed us to the upcoming Child Care provider, and it’s flying her off to the deep south for a half a week of conventioneering later this month, so things continue to look promising on that front.

As for myself, I am reverting to form and keeping my personal shit personal, but I will allow as much: Went through some damn tough times, but short of an unforeseen reversal of fortune, for the first time in a long time I feel like better days are ahead.

And that’s the Domestic Report. I get the feeling politics may be overtaking this space in the immediate future; I sense a disruption in the Force, a Surge in political outrage on the horizon...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Army Urges Dead Soldiers to Re-Enlist

This just in...!

Just when even the most jaded partisan – me, for instance – thinks the Bush administration has hit absolute moral bottom in their execution of the Iraq War, a new sub-basement is discovered. In this case, full of dead bodies.

Now they’re not just lowering standards for live recruits, but they’re actively pursuing already-deceased ones.

According to the Associated Press, “The [re-enlistment] letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 Army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action. The 75 represent more than one-third of all Army officers who have died in Iraq since the war began.”

Ahhh, it makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it? Leave it to the geniuses and the bureaucrats running the Iraq War to send the message to bereaved families, “We’ve taken your loved ones lives, and now that the holidays are behind us, we’d really like to do it again!” Talk about being expected to give more than 100%. Wow.

It just needs a little more boiling down to fit on a recruitment poster.

I have an alternative solution to the recruiting shortfall. Instead of offering sweeeet packages to entice dead guys back to front line military duty – I mean, if we’re so hard up we’re recruiting the recently deceased, these are clearly desperate times – why not call back up children of privilege from previous wars who failed to fulfill their obligation at the time?

As I recall, Dick Cheney famously had “other things to do” during Viet Nam – couple years from now, his schedule is really gonna open up. And I reckon by then the U.S. military is still going to be looking for a few good men to fill bodybags in Iraq; Dick Cheney is certain to be at least half the soldier of the dead men currently being courted by his administration. Heck, I say let’s give him a try. America is the land of second chances!

Same goes for W, who skipped the end of his hitch in the Texas National Guard to go campaign for his Daddy’s pals out of state at the time. By January, 2009, when he has indicated he expects his successor to be wrestling with resolving America’s involvement in Iraq, I don’t think his campaign dance card is going to be anywhere near as full. Although he may be no genius, I’ll bet he can be taught to steer a Humvee down the road from Baghdad airport to The Green Zone.

And we already know how well how well he fills out an aviator’s suit. I’ll bet his swagger is sexy as hell in ground combat desert fatigues. Purrrrrr!

For that matter, I’d love to see the Bush twins suited up in Navy SEAL wetgear, but I digress…

Obviously, the call for dead soldiers to re-enlist was a clerical error, some kind of behind-the-scenes SNAFU, but isn’t the whole Iraq War itself? Why not beseech dead men to re-join a battle that was sold to them originally as a hunt for WMDs that never existed? There’s a kind of sickening symmetry to the whole thing.

Maybe I’m just revealing my own naiveté when I respectfully submit that the Bush administration should let our honored dead rest in peace, and get up off their collective draft-dodging asses and do something to staunch the bleeding among of those members of our armed services not yet sacrificed on the altar of W’s Messiah Complex.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Star Trek: The Animated Series

Got this for Christmas. It was on my amazon Wish List. The show, new to DVD in time for the holidays, was produced a few years after the original series got the hook.

Why this series kicks ass is simple – they hired the entire original cast (with one exception, Chekov, so who gives a shit) as the series’ voice talent. Shatner, Nimoy and all the rest are in there pitching. I find it hilarious that five years later (ca 1973), the whole cast was still available to do Saturday morning cartoon voice-over work, especially on a job whose original incarnation probably consigned them to careers of doing Saturday morning cartoon voice-over work in the first place. It’s too bad the set doesn’t come with any commentary or new interviews, but I can imagine the cast was about as anxious to talk about this gig as Paramount was to ante up the cash to pay them to recollect.

The quality of the writing is about on par with your average Original Series episode – I’ve seen several names of people in the writing credits, like D.C. Fontana, who wrote noteworthy episodes of the original series.

Unfortunately, the packaging is as cumbersome and stupid as the packaging on the initial release of the original series. What in god’s name were they thinking?

And as a cartoon, on strictly cartoon merits, it fails miserably.

For one thing, they only show the three angles of the ship that the original series showed. Side view, three-quarters and… well, maybe there are only two angles. These are just drawings for crying out loud, not complicated-at-the-time camerawork. They could at least have the view of the ship rotate, like other animated series of its time. No, they just pull these static ship drawings from left to right across the screen. It was like a contest to see how little money they could spend and still have their efforts qualify as “animation.”

What works about the show for me is that, I’m screening them while I work, which means I rarely actually look up at the TV screen. So since I don’t see the shoddy visuals (always a hallmark of the live-action show anyhow), I’m getting first-run, concise episodes of the original series that I’ve never seen before in my thirty-odd years of Star Trek fandom.

(I’m pretty sure I hear Shatner playing another character, Carter Winston, an intergalactic philanthropist/philanderer in one ep. He probably wrote the episode under an alias, too!)

This set is great fun, and as soon it’s available for half of what they’re asking right now (like all the other versions of Star Trek eventually have become), it’ll be a must-have for any Star Trek fan.