Monday, July 30, 2007

Breaking hearts at 22 months

So here’s the thing – day care costs us an arm and a leg. The lady who runs the day care out of her house is this very sweet, warm Indian woman in her 50s or 60s, name rhymes with Yoda. She’s always put on a big show of being happy to see The Man Cub when I drop him off, but I figure that’s just part of the job. She’s been doing day care out of her home from the ‘70s, I think. She’s raised generations of Christmas Island’s most precocious children. I don’t give it another thought.

The Man Cub turns 2 in September, and we’ve been counting the days and pinching the pennies till we could move him to the hippie preschool right down the street for a couple of hundred bucks less a month. But still, The Missus has been dreading giving notice to rhymes-with-Yoda. I assured her all of the stuff at the end of the previous paragraph. “This is not going to be a big deal for her,” I say, “and some other lucky parent is going to move from her wait-list to her actual day care. Everybody is going to win on this one.”

I mean, this just makes sense. How many kids have passed through her doors in 30 years??

Obviously, you can see where this is going. The Missus runs the boy out to day care this morning and to deliver the ‘bad’ news to rhymes-with-Yoda. I’m sitting down to watch last night’s episode of “Entourage” (I don’t know what we pay for HBO, but between Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, Big Love and The Wire, it’s got to be damned near worth it), and the phone rings. It’s 8:10 a.m. and I resolve to verbally decapitate anyone from work calling me this early on a Monday.

No worries, it’s The Missus. Turns out rhymes-with-Yoda freaked out when she received the news, pleaded with The Missus not to take the boy out, professed “He’s the best one!” in front of another parent and damned near broke down in tears. The Missus pled poverty and rhymes-with-Yoda immediately countered with “Well, we can talk about money. Prices go down after they’re two!” So now The Missus and I have to sit down tonight and re-talk over this decision that I thought was already in the can, then we have to go talk to rhymes-with-Yoda and either dicker with her, break her heart again or (probably) both.

My boy’s delivered his first broken heart — he’s on his way to being a Bastardson! Somewhere in Phoenix, my Spiritual Advisor is smiling.

Requiescat in pace, Tom Snyder

Another broadcast legend I grew up with has passed away. With Snyder, it was always a love/hate relationship — he got the greatest guests, legends and whack-jobs, people who didn’t do TV as well as people who couldn’t otherwise get on it — but could come off as such a buffoon (for instance, he once called Meat Loaf “Meat Ball” on the air for 10 minutes before being corrected), one had to wonder who was greasing whom to keep booking those amazing guests.

Anyhow, back in my drawing days, I created the sketch above that I offer now as an homage to a singular talent. Dave Letterman is bound to miss him, and any friend of Dave’s...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Another weekend, another road trip…

Seriously, I will be so glad when September comes and these consecutive summer weekend adventures go the way of all flesh. I’ve already outlined last Saturday’s wrenching travel ordeal (see previous post); next Saturday is the big RUSH rock & roll show with The Last Boy Scout; Saturday after is a friend’s wedding and pool party reception (shame I don’t drink any more) and a visit from my big brother (not Alberto Gonzales, my actual older sib) on Sunday; weekend after that my Spiritual Advisor and his girlfriend are planning a visit; weekend after that it’s the in-laws’ monthly drop-in to bask in the cuteness that is The Man Cub and the weekend after that is September, when we will be officially informed by acting President David Petraeus that the war in Iraq will extend to infinity and beyond.

That’s a full summer, even for someone who likes going places and doing things.

Again, I don’t happen to be a person who likes to a) go places or b) do things. Helped keep me single for 40 years. So this summer is ending with both a bang and a whimper. (The whimpering sound you hear is me…)

All that aside, our family unit had a lovely time celebrating The Missus and my fifth anniversary by taking a walking tour of The Big City down the road today. Best of all, we took a train to get there. See, I have this thing about Johnny Cash, and Johnny had a thing about trains, and I was thrilled to be able to share the train-riding experience with my son while I still could the way Cash wrote songs about sharing it with his.

Plus, freeway traffic in and out of The Big City is nothing short of apocalyptic if you don’t travel before 9am or after midnight on the weekend. The in-bound freeway was a goddamned parking lot for miles as we fled for home at 3pm. I was never happier that Amtrack is still a viable transportation option (although I was frankly taken aback at the lack of security before boarding the train, especially after the ordeal of air travel just the weekend before). That’s another big plus about traveling by rail – not enough Americans do it to make it a high-value terrorism target, so you can still run up to a train on no notice, hop on, and buy your ticket once you’re on your way to your destination.

Up yours, Osama!

Crazy, baby. We sat on the second floor in a comfy, semi-deserted car and watched America drift leisurely by our picture window.

Once at our destination, we took in some science place The Missus was hankerin’ to take the boy to that featured live critters in captivity (like the starfish exhibit, above) as well as lots of dead, taxidermied ones to remind us that all of our time is fleeting. Went to the Drake Hotel restaurant and had a $10 hamburger for lunch then walked till our feet had worn down to our shin-bones. Got on a bus that took us to the train that took us home, whereupon we all collapsed in exhaustion in air-conditioned comfort.

On the one hand, it was no Comic-Con; on the other hand, it was also no Tucson, Ariz. And exhaustion aside, nary a cross word passed our lips the whole time (read: I was not an asshole to anyone but strangers on the street, always fair game, see left) and the three of us had a wonderful time that couldn’t be beat.

This could definitely be a model for anniversaries yet to come. Hopefully, next time we’ll travel to a city less impressed with itself; still by the sea but with less dirty hippies and fewer upwardly-mobile self-appointed hipsters per square foot. For instance, I hear San Diego is nice this time of year…

Friday, July 27, 2007

Where in the world is Fang Bastardson?

I’ve been everywhere, man. And if I haven’t been there yet, it’s probably on the calendar for August.

Took an impromptu trip back to the family den last weekend to hook up with the sibs who were gathering there that weekend for no discernable reason except that it was Tucson in July, and that always spells a good time.

Had an interesting experience in the Christmas Island airplane terminal while we waited for our flight out. A 4-year-old boy made it his business to befriend The Man Cub (and by extension, me). The kid’s mom (and absent dad) were both in the Army, had been for almost 20 years, and have both served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her husband currently flies a Blackhawk in Iraq, and she rotates back later this year. We ended up chatting for about an hour. It was fucking fascinating. And she wasn’t inclined to like the people I sterotypically am (anti-war bush-bashing left-wingers) but happily, I was at the top of my game and was able to draw her out without misrepresenting where I was coming from. (Basically, you don’t offer opinions on stuff you don’t know about first-hand, ie: shut the fuck up and listen.)

But I guided the conversation, gently, to some very delicate areas. It was really cool. At the end, I left her with a heart-felt “On behalf of everybody stateside, I just want to say thank you and God bless you.” (She had ID-ed herself as a true believer by repeatedly referring to Iraqis and Afghanis as “heathens” and equating our struggle with Muslim extremists to the Pilgrims’ “troubles” with the equally Godless injuns.) She looked at me half-suspiciously for a second, and when she didn’t see any BS in my face, she teared up. It was an absolutely powerful moment. Later on, on the plane, when The Man Cub was out of control and I was hopelessly flustered, she sent her son up with some Oreos.

Once we finally got to where we were going, it actually was a good time, people-wise. Got into a bloody good row with my new Jamaican… shit, I don’t know what he is – he married my niece. Does that make him my nephew? Step-nephew? I was never good at this geneology stuff. Anyhow, he doesn’t care for the ’omosexuals on account of the Bible, plus they you know, give him the creeps. My older sister and me ganged up on him good and much tense hilarity ensued.

The Man Cub was, of course, a huge hit. Who doesn’t like a someone else’s toddler at the point where he’s talking frequently in some primitive, incomprehensible approximation of what will grow to become his mother tongue? Cute plays well in 90 degree heat and 90 percent humidity in a swamp-coolered double-wide.

Got back home wiped out from a stormy, almost sleepless last night in Tucson and a plane ride with a cranky Man Cub that was frankly no picnic either. And we were on that same airline that recently made news by ejecting an overly-talkative little kid. I swear, I don’t know what I woulda done if I got stuck in the fetid, stifling blot on this great land that is Tucson, Arizona.

Comic-Con is this weekend. I went once in the mid-to-late ’70s, back when it was just a few hundred comic nerds getting together to buy back issues and meet their 4-color idols. I have a photo of me, all 98 pounds, with Steve Gerber, the co-creator of Howard the Duck. I met my all-time favorite artist at that time, and he was a condescending prick to me. It was awesome! We’re too poor to go again this year, but as soon as The Man Cub is old enough to enjoy it, no amount of lack of money will keep me from using my young son as an excuse to travel once again to Geek mecca.

Anyhow, this weekend will instead find my little family in The Big City to celebrate The Missus and my fifth wedding anniversary. Last year we saw Kris Kristofferson in concert, but this year we are poor, which gives us an excellent opportunity to expose The Man Cub to travel by train and a walk around a place we could never possibly afford to live.

Coming up next: If past is prologue, I’ll be back to Bush-bashing by my next post! But a couple people have pointed out that I have been lax in checking in lately and it’s only because I’ve been too busy to be outraged. My traveling days come to end after the The Big City trip though (at least until the dreaded holidays), and I’m hoping my life slides back into its well-worn, comfy rut between The Big City trip and the command performances that inevitably accompany year’s-end.

Monday, July 23, 2007

lamest crowd exhortation EVER:

From Madonna’s set at Live Earth (which I’m only now getting around to fast-forwarding through):

“If you want to save the planet, let me see you jumping up and down!”

I swear to God.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New Best Reason To Start Growing Your Own Food:

AP: Bush Sets Up Panel on Food Safety

Only faith-based foods will be approved. Businesses expected to benefit include Haliburton and the Soylent Corporation as well as companies that market mana from heaven, loaves and/or fishes...

If Bush’s handling of the safety of the nation’s food supply is even half as deft as his prosecution of the war in Iraq or assiduous as his adherence to the Bill of Rights ... oh hell, what’s the worst that could happen?

Say it with me: Hydroponics.... It’s not just for marijuana anymore!

...He’s gonna make a hippie out of me yet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Marketing Sept. 11th

Seriously. Look what goes on sale September 11 of this year:

In case you’re unfamiliar with the story, which I was till I saw this mini-series as a kid, Masada was the name of a mountain fortress a group of hopelessly outnumbered Jews retired to and from which they survived a 2-year Roman siege, back when it was the Romans who were kicking the Jews around. Well, maybe “survived” isn’t the word I’m looking for... More like “fought valiantly then died horrible deaths.”

An undersized band of brave heroes engaged in an unwinnable desert battle against implacable, heartless foes without number - do you suppose there’s a reason they’re releasing it on September 11 as the war in Iraq stretches into infinity and beyond?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Geddy Lee on my randomly rotating desktop...

...and on my iPod. The new album, “Snakes and Arrows” definitely gets better on repeat listenings, but if you’re not a fan, this isn’t the album that’ll make you one. (That would probably be 1981’s seminal “Moving Pictures.”)

Can’t wait till the RUSH extravaganza comes to Christmas Island next month!! Expect a full report here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

For my next trick...

...Cheney will pretend to snooze while Bush speaks. It’s a variation of Edgar Bergen’s “Watch me drink this glass of water while Charlie McCarthy whistles ‘Dixie’” gag, but some routines never get old.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

W and Personal Responsibility: Abstinence Only

Two noteworthy stories keep me from my appointed rounds this evening. Here’s one:

Former Surgeon General: Bush officials interfered for political reasons

The Associated Press hires some pretty good writers. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of today’s article on the subject. You can make up your own angry rant as you go along:

[Dr. Richard Carmona, the nation's 17th surgeon general, told lawmakers] he wasn't allowed to make a speech at the Special Olympics because it was viewed as benefiting a political opponent. However, he said he was asked to speak at events designed to benefit Republican lawmakers.

“The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas,” said Carmona, who served from 2002 to 2006.

[A] report on global health challenges was never released after the administration demanded changes that he refused to make, Carmona said.

“I was told this would be a political document or you're not going to release it.” Carmona said. “I said it can't be a political document because the surgeon general never releases political documents.”

Carmona said … his speeches were edited by political appointees, and he was told not to talk about certain issues. For example, he supported comprehensive sex education that would include abstinence in the curriculum, rather than focusing solely on abstinence.

“However, there was already a policy in place that didn't want to hear the science, but wanted to - quote, unquote - 'preach abstinence,' which I felt was scientifically incorrect,” Carmona said.

The other thing that’s got me worked up is that Bush is planning to put himself in contempt of Congress this week by refusing to allow subpoenaed former aides to testify to Congress - especially one who wants to! - by claiming Executive Privilege.

Now you say something official-sounding like “Executive Privilege” and most peoples’ eyes glaze over, but I can make this very simple: Executive Privilege, while not in the Constitution (and therefore doesn’t automatically receive a free pass), is a reasonable judicial device created to protect a President’s ability to receive honest, uncompromised advice from his cabinet and advisers. Used responsibly, ie: on paper, it’s a good idea.

Sadly, I don’t know if it’s ever been claimed by anybody except to try to cover-up wrongdoings.

Here’s how Bush is perverting it: He is insisting that although he never spoke to said subpoenaed advisers about the matters they are to be questioned about, because he spoke to them at all, about anything, they are protected under the Harry-Potteresque cloak of Executive Privilege.

By this reading, the delivery boy in Midland who sneaks him his beers while he’s at the ranch is equally covered under Executive Privilege.

What makes it especially egregious - gives it that special “W was here” feeling - is that the matters the subpoenaed former aides were to be questioned about involve potential criminal wrongdoing on the part of the executive branch, and the administration itself is acting extra-legally to impede the investigation into its own misdeeds, counting on its stacked Supreme Court to let them off in the final reel. It’s positively Orwellian in its scope and it looks to me like it’ll probably work.

Future historians are going to climb all over each other and elbow the Clinton administration into obscurity in their zeal to expose the Machiavellian shenanigans of this cabal of crooks; especially since they’ve been so good at concealing their misdeeds while in office so far.

Present Americans, unfortunately, are fucked (although not as bad as current and future Iraqis).

And what is the loyal political opposition doing to address this rising tide of epic wrongdoing?

Fucking around, that’s what, mounting silly challenges like threatening to cut off the VP’s funding. It’s the cheapest kind of political theater, the Democratic equivalent of the GOP’s renaming French Fries “Freedom Fries” as a snipe at the French who were being sold by the administration as weak on terror while America’s leaders were busy ginning up a fake case for war with Iraq.

With friends like the Democrats...

Speaking of Bush’s fake case for war, yesterday morning (PST) CNN promoed the hell out of an upcoming Presidential address regarding the war in Iraq. When it finally aired, it wasn’t a sober assessment from the oval office at all, it was a live feed from a campaign-style partisan pep rally where W was regurgitating this week’s line of slightly re-tooled half-truths and obfuscations for the fawning faithful. At this late date, it was cringe-inducing.

As was Sen. McCain’s embarrassingly impassioned defense of the “progress” he swears we’re making in Iraq (I am not making this up) live from the Senate floor earlier in the day. Now that was TV! Oh CNN, why do you have to be such an undiscriminating whore?

Now it’s late, I’m tired and I have solved nothing. I don’t even feel better. I probably should have abstained after all…

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Man Cub, or Cool Cat?

You be the judge...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Eight Things

I’ve been tagged...

I hate these silly things, but I can’t refuse a lady. I’m supposed to tell you eight things about myself I’ve never written about before, then “tag” eight other bloggers to do the same. Since I don’t know eight other bloggers, I’ll just play the “eight things about me” part.

• I killed a man in Yuma for asking me to play a game of tag with him…
• ...eight times.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

“Transformers” review-at-a-glance

Shit blowed up real good for two-and-a-half hours.

Computer-generated alien robots from outer space threatened humanity and other alien outer space robots defended us. Pretty young actors jumped over things and delivered their lines on cue while crusty old character actors did their best to steal scenes from their special-effects adversaries. Michael Bay edited the results into his trademark incomprehensible onscreen mayhem and everybody went home happy.

Actually, one thing didn’t set right with me...

The film opens with a sequence featuring American soldiers stationed in some far-flung desert hellhole that looked suspiciously like Iraq. The bad robots show up and begin wholesale killing of the American troops. Lots of explosions and uniformed bodies being flung everywhere; it took me out of the movie and into the nightly news, and that wasn’t what I braved the 105-degree Christmas Island heat to go see. It would have been like releasing “The Towering Inferno” directly in the wake of 9/11.

Fortunately the film moves on quickly enough that my initial discomfort was pummeled into submission by the carefully choreographed, carelessly edited chaos that followed.

Overall, it was 2.5 hours very nicely wasted. I’d give it a solid 2.5 stars.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Speak No Evil

Costing him only the final tattered shred of the self-promoted myth of his own imaginary ‘honor and integrity,’ the President has exercised about the last of his waning legitimate executive powers to commute the prison sentence of former White House aide-de-camp “Scooter” Libby, no doubt in the expectation that an angry (and potentially dangerous) tell-all tome, penned while languishing in a Federal white-collar-criminal prison, has been nipped in the bud.

They say this story is going to have a hard time gaining traction outside the beltway (ie: with Bush’s stalwart 30% fan base). Jesus told parables to get complicated ideas across to simple folk. Let me be Jesus for Bush’s admiring simple-folk:

Say a judge’s bailiff kneecaps the judge’s cheatin’ wife on orders from the judge. Bailiff gets caught, tried and convicted for said kneecapping, then the same judge whose orders the bailiff was executing when he did his dirty deed ‘puts aside’ the jury’s verdict, setting his hatchet man free. Damned activist judges!

Now do you get why some folks are pissed?

The new bar, as established by the eminent legal scholar, C-student Yale legacy frat-boy George W Bush is this: Perjury and obstruction of justice are only crimes if a Democrat commits them to conceal a consensual sex act, but not if a Republican uses them to obfuscate the provenance of an illegal war that has and continues to cost thousands of Americans their lives.

I’ll bet Bush houseguest Vladimir Putin goes home from Kennebunkport this week with a whole new respect for the way Bush’s democracy looks like his beloved former Soviet Union’s fascism.