Thursday, May 31, 2007

My son, the artist:

Note to self: The wall in the hall has a mural that needs to be removed too...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

War’s Unpopularity Soaring, Sheehan Concedes Defeat, Retires

As usual, I feel compelled to point out that I am not making this up.

Now, I always liked Cindy Sheehan better in theory than practice. “A bad messenger for a good message,” I’d say, because as a media personality she was almost always strident and bellicose (like Michael Moore and every leading light of the conservative right – think Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, the whole rotten bunch of them), and her participation in any given event had the tendency to draw attention away from the event, and towards Ms Sheehan.

But now she’s hanging up her spurs, declaring on Memorial Day that her battle is lost and her son’s life officially a waste of time. Once again her personality will rule the news cycle, and once again, she’ll provide 24 hours of media cover for her sworn enemies’ slimy machinations. Oh, Cindy… please stop helping already!

I find myself caught between generations. My dad on the one side, who served in WWII; and my son on the other, for whom I’d sooner chew off my own arm than see him serve in the armed forces. Obviously, I don’t have a beef with the armed services as such, being the level-headed pragmatist that I am… I’m all for us being the biggest, baddest fuckers on the international block. It’s always worked for us in the past…

But is it just me, or does it seem our wars are trending stupider? And that it’s the young, untested Commanders-in-Chief that get us into our most ill-advised conflicts? JFK with Vietnam and W with Iraq, both disasters. It took cagey old pro Richard Nixon to extricate us from Vietnam (“Get us the #@%& out of there, you &*@%ing %&#@!! Now I have to go to China…”).

And in the early 90s, Saddam decided to take a crap on his neighbor over there in Satan’s sandbox, and experienced political insider George H W Bush executed a measured, timely and effective response. Plus imposed a bunch of restrictions and extracted concessions that made Saddam our bitch the rest of his life.

And in doing so, Bush Sr. earned back some of the international respect for America’s military prowess and skillful statescraft that had been squandered in Vietnam. Much was made of this at the time, and I was forced to agree. Sure, it was a tempest in a teapot, but it was a clear win at a time when it was real good for us to chalk up an uncontested victory.

Then Dumbleyou comes along and upsets the apple cart again. Now we’re the world’s bitch. Impotent, militarily shamed on the world stage for all to see. The enemy now not only ‘knows where we live,’ and how to get here but also has a blueprint for beating us in the field. What a difference six and a half years make.

So here’s what I think, having mulled all this over at length.

I don’t want my son dying for some dipshit’s ill-advised war in twenty years. And it seems like the best way to try, anyhow, to ensure that, is to keep young, inexperienced motherfuckers out of the White House. We got lucky with Clinton; he was a perfect political storm – brilliant, lucky and with enough political balls to reconcile with his foes when circumstances turned again him or his policies. Working in secret with the oppo Senate leader (through Dick Morris) to get policies approved – that alone ought to earn him a profile in courage.

Dick Morris… [shudder!]

Having lucked out myself and been born between wars, I’m looking at my son’s generation, and wondering what we can do to protect them [him!] from tinhorn despots like Saddam Hussein and George W Bush. (I’m compiling a bullet-pointed list of all my grievances against the current administration. It may end up being my longest post ever.)

And I’m thinking we need to hire presidents with kick-ass resumes, not perfect pearly whites. The problem is, winning the White House is a popularity contest and the Prom King isn’t usually the sharpest tool in the shed; but governing requires a pocket-protector wearing policy wonk, and we keep electing the prom king!

I’m sorry, Barack, I say we don’t gamble on youth and telegenics twice in a row. Sen. Haircut, you were a fucking hawk on Iraq before it was uncool to be a hawk on Iraq, that proves to me you’re young and stupid, and I shouldn’t trust your judgment. All your peers jumped on the bandwagon – feckless bastards – but you pulled the wagon with the bit in your teeth.

And this brings us back to Cindy Sheehan. She’s packing it in because the weak-kneed Dems in Congress caved once again to the White House last week, but what I’m beginning to understand is that that’s how savvy political pros operate – in incremental dribs and drabs. They’re playing fucking political parlor games and our kids are getting blown up over there in record numbers – but it is an imperfect process, and until it is revised, this is how it operates.

What Cindy doesn’t realize is that when a chess master tells you “I’m going to checkmate you in twelve moves,” there’s still another twelve ass-kickings coming before the final blow is delivered.

We’re on our way out of Iraq. That ship has sailed. There is no popular or political support for the continuation of this level of involvement in Iraq, and the GOP congressmen running in ’08 are gonna make double-damned sure that W’s war doesn’t drag them into retirement with him.

That’s gonna be a lot of wasted lives between now and then, and goddamn it, people ought to be held accountable. But right now things are heading in our direction, and right now is no time to be letting the pressure off, not even for a minute.

Unless you’re Cindy Sheehan, in which case you not only have my sympathy for your son and eternal gratitude for your initial efforts in getting the anti-war ball rolling, but my blessings on your timely retirement. Thank you for not helping anymore.

*Flag photo by Fang, Christmas Island, Memorial Day 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

To Not Forget

*Cartoon ©2007 by Berkeley Breathed

Thursday, May 24, 2007

‘Liveblogging’ Dumbleyou’s Press Conference

or: Bush accidentally speaks truth at press conference — nation agog. Handlers aghast.

Let me back up. W is doing a live TV press event on something bullshit – the War on Mexicans, I believe – but of course all the press wants to talk about is Iraq.

I missed the first few minutes so I’m not sure what the question was, but right now he’s enthusing in his own monosyllabic way that the Chinese should buy American beef. “They’ll like it!” (This is a true, actual quote.)

He’s making quips between questions, joshing with the reporters as if they didn’t have a collective contempt for him bordering on revulsion, and shilling for his Big Beef Backers while dodging questions about the escalating violence in Iraq.

Augh!! “If we were to fail [in Iraq], they’d come and get us!” He just said that again. And again I remind him ‘they’ already came and got us. On 9/11. And Oklahoma City before that, for Christ’s sake, and ‘they’ was one of ‘us.’ Terror isn’t a skin color or a religion, it’s a state of mind. How does creating the perfect-storm conditions for, and then sticking around to referee, a long-brewing civil war half-way around the world effectively address the state of mind that produces Oklahoma Cities and Zodiac Killers?

On why he hasn’t caught bin Laden: He’s in hiding. His activities have been severely curtailed. “Bin Laden is not out there feeding the hungry.” I swear to God. Bush has just implied that, had we not been hunting him lo these many years, Osama would have been out there feeding the hungry, ala Mother Theresa. That’s a mighty interesting insight. I guess he really must have access to intelligence the rest of us don’t!

Another reiteration of his support for “Al Gonzales.” Check. Done that…

“Oil for Sanctions program.” Okay, this was a slip of the tongue and not the usual demonstration of gross ignorance, but man that’s funny. Freudian even, it could be argued. Bush just gives and gives and gives and gives.

He just talked about Saddam’s being executed, but, he bragged, not by the same system he gave his own citizens (making the point that Saddam’s execution was so much more equitably carried out than the ones of Hussein’s own regime). Maybe it’s just a quibble, but if your government executes you, you’re just as dead whether they kicked your ass up the gallows steps or led you gently by the hand.

And as I recall, Saddam was pretty much kicked up the gallows steps in the end, anyhow. Very dignified. I’ll bet W was proud to be an American that day.

Ooh, he’s trying to pull attention back to the immigration issue. Bla blab bla…zzzzzz….

Some impertinent fuck just asked him about Iraq being a George-Bush-fulfilling-prophesy (good one!), and Bush’s meandering, obfuscating non-response contained this howler. If it’s not on the Daily Show or Colbert tonight, somebody is laying down on the job:

“The middle east looked nice and cozy for a while.”

WTF?? How uninformed do you have to be to say, out loud, while conscious and for God’s sake in front of a bank of tv cameras, “The middle east looked nice and cozy for a while.”

I swear, again, to God, “nice and cozy.” When the fuck in anybody’s lifetime has the middle east been nice and cozy? It’s been a barren, backward cauldron of murder, mayhem and misogyny since Cain slew Abel in the first chapter of that idiot’s own Holy Bible!

Like all the partying he said he did in New Orleans as a youth, he’s probably thinking about all the good times he had at his dad’s pal’s palaces in Saudi Arabia during that same hard-partying ‘youthful-indiscretionary’ period. Like people who’ve only been to the University of Arizona think Tucson is a pretty swell place to live, instead of the barren, backward cauldron of murder, mayhem and poverty that it is.

He just finally said something true, although I’m sure not in the way he meant it: “Failure in Iraq will cause future generations to suffer.”

That’s the quote that ought to be in the first paragraph of every future history book entry on W’s ill-fated two terms in office.

“Failure in Iraq will cause future generations to suffer.”
—President George W Bush, May 24, 2007

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Profiles in Cowardice:

And these are our friends.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Timeless Song Lyrics (where you’d least expect them)

Today’s example: “Civil War” by Guns & Roses.

I heard this song again recently for the first time in a long time, and was unexpectedly impressed with the depth of the lyrics. Of course it rocked – it was Guns & Roses when Guns & Roses was still Guns & Roses (if you follow me).

But I found myself wondering, did renowned prick and last-minute concert-canceller Axl Rose really write these lyrics? 15 years ago??

This song originally debuted on some benefit album for the trendy refugees of the day. For the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the album or who the refugees were. (So it goes.) George Harrison was on the album too, but then you expected George Harrison to be on all the best benefit albums. It was GnR’s contribution that was the one thing that wasn’t like the others.

Anyway, the songwriting credits are actually a bit complicated and probably purposefully vague:

(Slash / McKagan / Rose)
Special Thanks Niven / James

So maybe Axl is still just the crude racist, homophobic former rock god he seems to be and somebody else supplied the lyrical gravity, but I’m sure this tune is available on iTunes and it’s well worth the 99¢. It certainly, sadly stands the test of time.

Civil War by (see above)

Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they've always done before

Look at the hate we're breeding
Look at the fear we're feeding
Look at the lives we're leading
The way we've always done before

My hands are tied
The billions shift from side to side
And the wars go on with brainwashed pride
For the love of God and our human rights
And all these things are swept aside
By bloody hands time can't deny
And are washed away by your genocide
And history hides the lies of our civil wars

Did you wear a black armband
When they shot the man
Who said "Peace could last forever"
And in my first memories
They shot Kennedy
I went numb when I learned to see
So I never fell for Vietnam
We got the wall of D.C. to remind us all
That you can't trust freedom
When it's not in your hands
When everybody's fightin'
For their promised land

I don't need your civil war
It feeds the rich while it buries the poor
Your power hungry sellin' soldiers
In a human grocery store
Ain't that fresh
I don't need your civil war

Look at the shoes your filling
Look at the blood we're spilling
Look at the world we're killing
The way we've always done before
Look in the doubt we've wallowed
Look at the leaders we've followed
Look at the lies we've swallowed
And I don't want to hear no more

My hands are tied
For all I've seen has changed my mind
But still the wars go on as the years go by
With no love of God or human rights
'Cause all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

* “We practice selective annihilation of mayors
And government officials
For example to create a vacuum
Then we fill that vacuum
As popular war advances
Peace is closer”

*This passage credited to “Peruvian Guerilla General.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Life Less Lived

That seems to be a pretty apt way to headline an entry about a couple of comic book-related matters...

ITEM: I’ve been told that all the lady bloggers are up in arms about this new sculpture being marketed in conjunction with the release of “Spider-Man 3”:

There’s an excellent rant about it over here, with some funny pictures of Spidey wearing nothing but a mask and a thong and rinsing MJ’s unmentionables. The thing is, Spidey naked is just Spidey colored skin-color instead of red and blue colored. With a costume like Spider-Man’s, you’re pretty much naked in public all the time already.

More to the point, though, this is a sculpture of Comic Book Mary Jane, who is literally a supermodel (of course), not Movie MJ, who is a blue-collar chorus girl who sings torch songs in smoky juke joints.

If supermodels did do their boyfriends’ laundry, they’d probably look just like this when they did it.

Most importantly though, Mary Jane, as originally introduced back in 1965 (and drawn above by the immortal John Romita, Sr.), was designed specifically to be a bombshell. Her opening line, famous among comic nerds like me, is “Face it, Tiger… you just hit the jackpot.” That woman would clean Spidey’s uniform for him and she’d do it wearing a thong yanked up to her sternum.

So with all due respect to angry feminists the blogosphere over, this is not some crass, expolitative reinterpretation, it’s an accurate representation of the source material, adjusted for cultural inflation. You can argue that the character as originally framed was exploitative or shallow or cheap or what-have-you, but you can’t argue that this statue doesn’t kick some serious ass. I love everything about it except the price tag. $125. For $125, I expect to have more than my laundry done, thank you.

ITEM: “Heroes,” the hit NBC superhero show, is really really poorly written on an ongoing basis. It bugs the hell out of me. It’s one those shows I like in theory, like last year’s ill-fated, equally well-meaning “Jack and Bobby,” while cringing at aspects of its actual execution.

“Heroes’” look is great, but the acting is only soap opera-level and the effects work is up to contemporary norms without being exceptional.

That’s the thing about this show – nothing is exceptional. Worse, everything is explained and explained again. It’s like it was written to hold the attention of chipmunks on speed.

I love the arc of the show and unfolding mythology, but unlike the show it’s most often compared to, “Lost,” “Heroes’” execution borders on inane. I’m pleased and disappointed at the same time that it’s become a big hit. Pleased – on principle – that it’ll be around for awhile and may spawn superior imitators, but embarrassed that it’s become the public face of the genre. The best superhero films don’t talk down to the audience and treat them like they’re idiots, and I don’t think “Heroes” has to, either.

Here’s hoping next season’s imitators yield at least one show equally high-concept but better-written.

ITEM: My favorite comic book, “The Ultimates (Vol. 2)” just published its last issue today. Due to the intricate linework of series pencil artist Bryan Hitch, the 13 issues of the series took about 3 years to come out, as opposed to the usual rate of an issue a month. But what a fabulous ride it’s been!

Although the second volume doesn’t hold up quite as well as Volume 1 (available now in hardcover collected form and most highly recommended), mainly because it had its sights set on a broader, less tightly-focused storyline than Volume 1, it still offered stunning spectacles like the 8-page fold-out illustration below:

And if Volume 2’s weakness is its more ambitious scope and adult themes, what a weakness! The second volume is a sober rumination and reflection on a world turned upside-down by an America drunk on its own (super) power, and the catastrophic consequences of the country’s leaders’ unilateral decision to set itself up as policeman to the world. Heady, timely stuff, and exquisitely rendered. And best of all, in this alternate comicbook universe, Captain America is still very much alive!

So buy Volume One right now! if you’ve ever loved comics, or still patronize Hollywood summertime blockbusters. And watch this space for news of when Volume 2 hits the shelves in collected form. It’ll make an awesome gift for someone...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Smoking to affect movie ratings system*

* Actual News Headline

[Again, the ruination of my plans for the evening starts out with a wire story on Curse you, wire stories on!]

The PC Police are now getting set to crack down on smoking in movies by slapping a restrictive “R” rating on movies deemed to have too much of the wrong kind of smoking (it’s a tortured but still loosey-goosey set of rules they’ve established for this effort, explained in fuller confusion in the link above).

Look, I don’t smoke. I don’t dig being around people who smoke because they are potentially putting my life, and my family’s lives at risk with their second-hand smoke. They make my hair and clothes smell like shit, especially the next day when the smoke has gone stale. It’s a boorish habit pushed like any other drug by a ruthless cartel (in this case in Washington, DC) and I’m all for any crackdowns in places accessible to the public, even outdoor places like parks, sidewalks, any place paid for by my tax dollars that a reasonable person might expect to innocently find himself.

It’s not cigarettes that’s got my dander up. I look ahead, and I see smoking as something vestigial, connected to the previous millennium and on the wane. Soon, it will be a period thing of its own – “Oh look, that character is smoking. This film must take place in the 20th Century.” I think that’s a good thing, and I also think it doesn’t need my help jumping the cultural shark beyond being a good example to my son. The anti-smoking lobby has done excellent work and I salute them.

But cigarettes in movies are smoke-free for me, in the audience. My rights need to protected from second-hand smoke, not two-dimensional smoke! No Thought Police required!

See, this isn’t an issue about smoking, it’s about movies. It’s about creative expression. Ultimately, it’s about free speech.

Here’s a random example: Not only would “The Bad News Bears,” as shot in the 70s not be PG-rated today, but it wouldn’t even get made. Ask the people who filmed the remake a couple years back, serious fellas like Billy Bob Thornton and (director) Richard Linklater – their script was watered down from the original, then watered-down even more by nervous Suits to get the hallowed PG-13 rating. I saw the original on TCM a few weeks back, and was amazed at how ribald it was.

Regarding 70s movies in general, without the PG-13 rating to fall back on, the MPAA seemed to err on the side of sex and nudity when applying the PG label. Often I have said to The Missus while watching the pop culture of my childhood, “Wow honey, look at that! They’re rated PG!” (PG-rated “Logan’s Run” was a watershed for me, hormonally.) Even TV standards and practices were extremely lax by today’s metrics. Rent the first season of “Charlie’s Angels” for all the evidence you’ll need. BBBOOOOINGG!!!! Again, it’s another show they wouldn’t make today for the very reason that made it so popular at the time, and I’m pretty sure we all still like nipples as much now as we did back then.

Now we’re just better at pretending we’re not prurient because we get all the titillation we need on the internet or Pay-Per-View in the middle of the night. We can afford to talk out of both sides of our asses during the day time.

And why the FUCK is violence okay, but nudity and cussing isn’t? Jesus Christ, in the 70s disgruntled college students stripped and ran naked through their campuses. Today, they arm themselves to the teeth and go on shooting rampages. You’re going to tell me the 70s weren’t safer than today, and that our fucked-up pop culture doesn’t reflect that relative incivility? You can debate forever which phenomenon — the coarsening of pop culture or the general decline of American civility — begat the other but I believe they’re inextricable; mirror-images of each other, each impossible without the other.

Now here we are, 30 years later, in a society ever more glutted with escalating violence and preening hypocrisy and we’re going to turn our cultural guardians loose on ... the movie ratings system to penalize smoking?! Wildly sadistic images of brutal mass mayhem (as long as nobody bleeds) and a film can squeak by with a family-friendly PG-13 rating (hello, “Lord of the Rings” trilogy); but have a lead character who smokes and suddenly you’re “banished” to the realm of 17-and-above with the cussers and the flashers of nudity? “You’re hard core, baby – heh heh – you’ve got a monkey on your back and he looks a lot like Joe Camel!” [cue ominous background music]

I’m sick of pop culture being stripped away to the lowest common denominator. From shitty pop music, to reality shows all over TV, to what laughingly passes as the mainstream news media (All Talking Heads, All The Time), it’s all been brought to its current sorry state by an apparently indiscriminating public.

And it’s an indiscriminating public that lets something as insidious as this happen. As a society, we’re beginning to remind me more and more of the dystopian-future lunkheads from “Robo-Cop” (R-rated and damned righteously so!) sitting around our TVs, loaded and overweight, laughing at the most puerile swill and slurring, “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

For those more academically inclined, first, go rent “Robo-Cop.” That’s a movie! Second, allow me to paraphrase the late anti-Nazi activist, Martin Niemöller, in a way that will draw your attention to the core of my unease with this cultural trend as it relates to the movie rating system:

“First they came for the titties in my movies, and I didn’t complain, because I have titties of my own. Then they came for the characters who said the “F” word, and again I did nothing for I don’t care for the word, myself. (Sounds dirty.) Next they came to eliminate the cigarette-smoking characters and I said ‘remove them far downwind for they smell like soggy ashtrays!’ And when they finally came to write out the haughty, self-righteous-prick characters, there was no one left to defend me (except gay best friends and hookers with hearts of gold and they were no help at all).”

Sunday, May 06, 2007


It’s a lot of fun now that The Man Cub has started to form versions of words associated to their specific meanings. For instance, if it sounds like he’s choking on a mouthful of Gs and Cs, he probably wants a graham cracker. A phrase that has emerged is his take on “Where’d that go?” as he constantly throws stuff across the room with a mean leftie overhand. Pow! A crayon fragment bounces off the TV and under a chair – wheredatgo?

He’s got me so under his thumb, that when he starts to wail, sitting on the couch next to me, I pick him up and point to the back door and the kitchen – two different directions. He points to the kitchen. We go into the kitchen and I point to the refrigerator and the cabinet. “Shall it be some milk for the master, or would his majesty prefer graham crackers at this juncture?” He points to the fridge and this time, it’s milk.

It’s funny now…

Anyhow, I’ve decided that just pointing to stuff and demanding it with accompanying guttural grants and inchoate howls is not going to take him as far in this life as I’d like to see him to go, so I decided to teach some manners, starting with “please.” Say “please” and get a cracker and a pat on the back from Daddy. It didn’t take our young padawan long to figure out the cause and effect relationship between “please” and reward. He can’t quite make the whole word yet, but his “Pwee…?” is unmistakable in its intent.

This is all well and good until, as The Missus points out, he learns that even courtesy doesn’t always produce the desired result. Which fact I had already discovered when wiping his touchas after an especially messy plop with these really rough wipes that daddy had mistakenly purchased, and he looked at me through his legs, tears streaming from his eyes, pleading repeatedly, “Pweeeee?! Pweeeeee? Pweeeeeeeeee!!!!”

That shredding sound you hear is my heart tearing itself to pieces inside my gut.

Only one thing to do – get him to work on “Thank You.” At least then when he’s enduring a wretched misery like a diaper-changing, instead of begging me to stop, he’ll be tearfully thanking me for the experience.

Fang Bastardson, the CIA Needs You!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Actual news headline:

NRA opposes bill to stop gun sales to terror suspects

I hate it when the simple facts of a story make my outrage even more redundant than usual. Especially when, as an added bonus, I find myself unexpectedly in agreement with a policy decision that the Bush administration has produced.

But what the hell. You can always count on the NRA for the outrage...

Bless them, they’re so doggoned gung-ho about protecting our Second Amendment rights, they’re even eager to extend them to terror suspects. Why, anything less would be just the first step down the path to jackbooted government thugs coming to kick down doors in the middle of the night and take our guns away.

Better 10 potential Jihadists load up on automatic weapons and cop-killer bullets than one law-abiding hunter isn’t allowed to bust a cap in Bambi’s mom — or Thumper — at a moment’s notice. (Or Big Bird!)

I mean, people: Where are your priorities?! Daddy needs to kill something, and he’s too drunk to handle a knife!

To give you an idea how culturally out-of-touch these gun-nut jackoffs are, it’s not the ACLU or Big Media they’re butting heads with, it’s the goddamned Bush administration. When Sheriff George W. “Shoot First and See Who You’ve Hit Second” Bush thinks any kind of gun control is worth looking at and you oppose that, it could be you’ve found yourself on the other side of the looking glass.

Culturally speaking.

Plus, I think this might be the one time I can think of that this administration didn’t hit its knees and fellate the NRA out of sheer force of habit. Ya gotta give them credit for being consistent in one thing; their War On The Constitution covers every article and amendment.

Friday, May 04, 2007

“Fang Bastardson Must Die!”

So when I turned 45 recently, I asked a writer friend, the Lovely Salome, to write me a birthday greeting in the ‘voice’ of the lead character in her work-in-progress. Said work is a riff on the Robin Hood legend, and her lead character is Robin’s eventual Merry Man, Will Scarlet.

All I expected was a line or two, but instead she turned in the first page of a cool-ass short story. I immediately informed her I was not worth the effort she put forth, but that I thought it was pretty cool anyhow. I also secretly harbored a desire to write the second page, which I did a couple days ago when I had some wicked writers’ block and The Missus suggested 30 minutes of free writing. Finishing “Fang Bastardson Must Die” immediately sprang to mind.

So at my wife’s urging and with my friend’s permission, here is our co-epic. I think it will become pretty clear where her work leaves off and mine begins.

* I must disclose for the record, after reading my half of the story, Ms Salome
’s only note was an emphatic “Will Scarlet does not wear tights!”

Fang Bastardson Must Die
By L. Salome and F. Bastardson

Will Scarlet strode along the hallway, his temper short and hot. He had to find the man known as Fang. The son-of-a-bastard had reached the ripe age of forty-five, an achievement no man of his low ilk should be permitted to boast.

Although he cared not for the tight confines of the office corridor, a narrow span of drywall that permitted little room for hand-to-hand maneuvers, Will preferred any building to the forest. Cheap paint puckered in the humid air, and the collar of his tunic itched and tugged at his sweat-slicked neck. Compulsively, he clasped the hilt of his claymore, a nervous tick he never bothered to hide.

But Robin, blast him, never showed his nerves. He simply charged into any situation with aplomb, verve, and a perfectly strategic plan. In fact, had Fang Bastardson been Robin's mortal enemy, the man would never have reached the dawn of his forty-sixth year.

Will shook free of the thought, narrowing his eyes to focus on the end of the corridor. His target. His destiny. Anger pushed blood through his body in furious circles, making a fog of sound and doubt. How his uncle would have fared, how he wound up on Christmas Island, how he'd traveled through time -- none of it mattered.

By Will Scarlet's sword, in the span of a heartbeat, Fang Bastardson would die.

As usual, Fang woke up sore in all the wrong places and wondering where the hell he was this time. Was it the Korn fan with all the piercings and the e…? Fang searched his memory, but all that came back were images of naked dwarves and red plastic cups of wine. Wincing as he sat upright, Fang shook the thought away and surveyed the alley until he located his clothes.

Shortly, pants on backwards and head pounding like minute 15 of a Tommy Lee drum solo – including the vertigo that accompanied being upside down for that long – Fang stumbled through the back door of the filthy pay-by-the-hour hotel he called home. He had to throw up before he went to work, and it was always better to do that over the disposal in the kitchen sink than the alley, if possible.

Despicable, disreputable swine that he was, if Fang had a saving grace, it would be his attention to punctuality. He pulled up outside the office he’d toiled in obscurity at these last eleven years and marveled at the poor construction of this sentence.

“Somebody’s pressed for time,” he assured no one in particular.

As Fang fumbled with his keys at his office entrance, he was at least grateful for the few moments of peace and quiet the darkened interior promised. As crazy as the Christmas Island Gazette could get during the day, he’d take his peace and quiet where and when he could find it, thank you.

Besides, the boss kept valium in his desk drawer, and this was as valium a morning as he could recall not wanting to recall.

Even in the darkness, Fang could walk the path to the lightswitch – conveniently located at the far end of the long, narrow corridor bisecting the shoebox-shaped office space into neat, becubicled halves – in his sleep, as he was demonstrating that morning.

Whack! Off came his head, while his body lurched forward on muscular memory alone, reaching and fumbling blindly around the surface of a light switch he could no longer feel.

Fang’s last thought, looking up at valiant Will Scarlet looming triumphantly over his severed head, was “Fuck… What’s with the tights? Have I just been killed by a ballerina?”

“… or they’ll follow us home!”

Sure was fun watching the GOP debate last night. Every possible hue of middle-aged white Christian male was represented. Just one note to the formerly-respected Senator McCain (among others) who desperately beat the “fight them there or they’ll follow us home!” card into the ground:

Anybody remember 9/11? They already have our home address, dimwits! Unless we pack the country up and move to the “Lost” island, that fucking ship has already sailed. Four of them, actually, three into buildings and one into a field in Pennsylvania.

Pick a different administration Talking Point to flog to death, won’t you? There’s plenty of craftier lies not yet thoroughly discredited to choose from…

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Birthday “Mission Accomplished!”

You may only be four years old, but you feel like 400.

As of tonight, 3,212 American servicepeople have died since you became Accomplished, with last month, April 2007, being the fourth bloodiest month since your coming-out party. (Since it is a party, it would be impolite to bring up the scores of thousands of Americans wounded and maimed, nor the untold hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, wounded and/or left refugees from their own homeland.)

If we didn’t have quadrennial referenda on our choice of Commander-in-Chief in this country, you would no doubt continue Accomplishing your Mission, details of which have become increasingly shape-shifty over the years but include (though are not necessarily limited to) embroiling us inextricably in a thousands-of-years-old Sunni/Shiite vendetta Mr. Bush apparently had no idea existed, till the last smoking gun is pried from the cold dead hands of the final murdered American soldier on what passes for Iraqi ‘soil.’

Unfortunately for you, though, the countdown to your extinction marches inexorably forward, in spite of your Number One sponsor’s unflagging enthusiasm. On Jan. 20, 2009, when we swear in our next President, whether we are swearing in a Democrat, Republican or even another grease-painted howler monkey with a red nose and big floppy shoes, you can bet your ass we’ll be pulling troops out of Iraq on some trumped-up pretext or other. I guarantee they’re already field-testing feel-good slogans in phone polls across the hinterlands.

I’ve got one that’s corny enough to play in Peoria. How about: It’s mourning in America.