Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tips On Bad Parenting:

#37: It turns out the disguise above will, I repeat will, scare the living crap out of 2-year-old Man Cubs recovering from pneumonia.

Addendum: He just saw the photo now on my monitor and said matter-of-factly, “Oh, daddy.” I guess some traumas last longer than others.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Liveblogging Bush’s LAST State of the Union address

What could be more pointless, I thought, than writing about the most inconsequential political speech that will be made in this year full of inconsequential political speeches?

Nothing, but it’ll help me unwind. To make it even more mind-numbing, I’m watching it on MSNBC with Chris Matthews’ existential enthusiasm on the voice-over as Bush gladhands his way to the lectern. The crowd roars with rote enthusiasm while Elmo babysits my son in the front room.

God bless Elmo.

Bush gets into position and soaks the fake adulation in. Everyone claps. He is still the President, after all. Hi Bush family. Hi Bush twins. Condi. Chris Matthews makes me want to kill myself so I turn to NBC and am rewarded with Tim Russert’s reasonable, soothingly dignified tone narrating events.

The president’s speaking now. “History will record…” bla bla la. More speculating on how history will remember his tenure. Now he’s talking economy. Short sentences. They write short sentences for him. That’s good. Play to his strengths.

Cheney over his shoulder looks like the world’s least-interested vulture. Like if he didn’t have to be here tonight, he could be out accomplishing some real evil.

Half the crowd loves Bush’s exhortation to “make the tax relief permanent.” Veto threat on taxes – check. I dislike him when he smiles as much as I do when he’s being petulant or irritable. Jesus. What kind of people want to have a beer with this guy?

More people are clapping. Never know when the camera may be watching.

Now he’s talking the housing market. Now health care – Cheney looking bored as hell, looking off to his right. Reaction shot of Hillary on the health care line – studied boredom accompanied by golf-clapping. Pales before Cheney’s genuine disinterest.

Wow, hey, Barack and Ted Kennedy sitting right next to each other. Great photo opp! They look pissed, so Bush must have just said something stupid or idealogically unsound. I miss a lot of stuff when I’m typing.

The Man Cub needs milk.

Bush is definitely an improved speaker since his first SOU.

Pelosi also looks bored. Maybe she’s just replaying last week’s Republican debate in her head.

Bush wants to help somebody else, everybody applauds. Oops, not everybody. They always know how to find somebody who’s pissed about whatever Bush is talking about.

Now he’s pimping nuclear power. Christ on a sidecar, people applaud. He refers to it as a “clean energy source.” Now he’s attaching strings to the promises he just made – for one, everybody else, assumably the world, has to agree first. WTF?

His vacuousness makes me sad. How have we produced such a man, let alone slipped him the reigns of supreme power? I’m afraid he’s the perfect icon of the age we’re in. What does Colbert call it? “Truthiness.” He wears the clothes and says the words, but there’s a sylvan quality to him. He’s elusive. There’s no there there. He’s virtually virtual.

So was Dean Martin, but he was just a singer of torch songs. I’m reading a cool biography of Martin, “Dino,” that paints an excellent picture of Dino’s life and times, but at the center of the narrative is a hole where Dean martin’s knowability would be if he had had any. It just seems he was either too deep or too empty for anyone to ‘read.’ But where the jury’s out on Martin’s psychology, I don’t think many people mistake Bush for being too deep.

Hi Condi. Nice white suit. Chris Matthews was screaming earlier about how a Republican candidate would do well to have you on his ticket, no matter who the Dems put forth. I agree with the loud, red-faced man on MSNBC.

“Evil men who despise freedom…” oh, here comes the 9/11 dick-swinging. “We will deliver justice to our enemies!” More brilliance.

Hi Laura. Clap, clap, clap. Freedom is good. Talking Afghanistan War Blues, the Bush fantasy version where everything is coming up roses, not IEDs.

Now the Iraq spiel. Well, we’re almost 40 minutes in. Elmo will need changing in a few minutes. Bush is touting his ‘surge,’ and about what heroes the Iraqi people think we are now. “Daily life is improving.” Riiiiight. Not from the Saddam era, mind you, but from the godawful mess we’ve made of it since we first fucked it all up for them.

Ooh, big applause. I wonder what I missed. Shit.

Now Elmo needs changing – the DVD, I mean. It occurs to me the boy didn’t eat any of the dinner I prepared for him earlier tonight, so I slip him some chips and goop and race back here to hope this guy wraps it up pretty soon. Gawd, he’s still going on about Iraq. Yeah, it does still suck over there, you jerk. We’ve been telling you that for years.

Some troops are coming home to stay. Everyone claps. Shit, I’d clap too if I believed a word of it.

More chest-thumping. I missed the words, but the bellicose bleating was familiar and half the room jumped to their feet to clap.

Well, he’s still going on about Iraq, ten minutes later. What a shithead. Between W’s eight years and the relentless attacks on the Clintons throughout the 90s, the Republicans have squandered two administrations in a row, for 15+ years now.

When the fuck are we, the people, going to wise up?

Oh, now I see why he went to the middle east finally last week – so he could brag about the trip in his last SOU. Well-played, sir! Huzzah!

Now the saber-rattling at Iran. I wish a hole in the earth would just open up and suck him away, or me. It’s that bad. To hear him go on, you’d think his dick stretched down to the floor and encircled the proscenium of the Senate.

Thank the military, big applause-getter.

Oh shit, Nancy Pelosi is reading something behind him while he speaks! She’ll probably say it was a copy of his speech, but it looks bad. Oops. Bush’s half of the hall is standing again. Missed something else.

Oops – The Man Cub’s hands apparently require cleaning. I’m about to miss some more empty blather…

Man, it seems like this has been going on forever. He’s talking American history now, he must be about to wrap it up. Ooh, soaring rhetoric – yep, that’s it. God bless America. Thank you, good night!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Barack Obama receives the coveted Bastardson Bump

I am officially endorsing Barack Obama for President.

Because I am a frikkin’ idiot, I am a registered independent in a state where independents can’t vote in the primaries so I can’t vote for the Senator from Illinois next week. EEEDIOT!!

But if you can, you should. Nothing will drive Republicans to the polls in November to vote the party ticket – even if they hate their own candidate, for instance, John McCain – more than the prospect of seeing the Clintons in the White House again.

Moreover, if Hillary is indeed ready to hit the ground running on day one as she claims, so is the Anti-Clinton Republican hate machine of the ’90s. Obama would have to be allotted at least a brief, perfunctory honeymoon period, if only so all the xenophobes and racists of the GOP don’t come off like, you know, xenophobes and racists.

And just to be bipartisan, if I had to pick a Republican currently running to be president, it would definitely be John McCain. His slogan should be “Wrong on all the issues for all the right reasons.” After 8 years of W, having any thoughtful, decent person in the oval office would be a win for America. Romney or Giuliani – fucking catastrophes, for different reasons. These guys are cocksuckers of the first order, and must be kept away from the reigns of power at all costs.

But Obama clearly has the best chance to set this country on the markedly different course we so desperately need, domestically as well internationally. He not only looks like America, he looks like the rest of the world, too.

For those about to vote, I salute you. Rock Obama!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Nutty Professor says his piece

My pal The Nutty Professor took his blog down while he puts himself on the job market. Smart fellow! Thus has it fallen to others to unleash his inchoate, left-wing outrage (received as the random, innocuous email) upon the world. It’s my turn today. He reports as follows:

The Clintons are going to fuck things up for all of us

Have you heard about the lawsuit filed by Nevada Teacher's Union to shut down the large caucuses to be held (hopefully) in Las Vegas casinos? The Teacher's Union supports HRC. Go figure. They didn't challenge the caucuses until Obama received the endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union.

So here you have a Democratic candidate attempting to suppress the Democratic vote. Very Bush-league.

You know, I'm all for a woman being president, but, give me a fucking break, Hillary has ridden the coattails of her husband from Day One. As George Will of all people noted today on "This Week," it's hardly a victory for feminism when HRC has to 1) resort to crying and 2) send her husband out to beat up on Obama. You go girl!

And what's with this 35 years of experience bullshit? In 1972 Hillary was volunteering for the McGovern campaign. A worthy cause indeed, but hardly executive experience.

Finally, if Hillary wins, the Republicans retain the White House in 2008. It's that simple. It's bad enough that she's the only thing that would inspire conservatives to even participate this election cycle. But now she's beginning to alienate a growing number of Dems, many of whom are vowing not to vote for her in the general election if she wins. (For the record, I'm not one of them.)

It boggles the mind why any Dem would support her. Then again, it would be consistent with a depressing legacy of uninspiring "electable" candidates: Mondale, Dukakis, 2000-era Gore, 2004-era Kerry.

I just donated to the Obama campaign. Fuck this shit. The Clintons must be stopped. They're almost as bad as the Bushes.


Dr. D

As much as I’d love to see Hillary in the White House on general principal, I’m swinging over to the Professor’s point of view. In the unlikely event of a Hillary general election win, the best we’d have to look forward to is the guarantee of a minimum of 4 more years of Whitewater/Travelgate-like manufactured, spurious scandals and an even worse case of DC gridlock than we’ve suffered under the Moron From Midland’s tenure.

When Hillary says she has 35 years of experience in surviving Republican dirty-tricks attacks, she ignores the fact that that also means the GOP slime machine has a 35-year head-start on attacking her. Every last foot soldier is already in place and knows the playbook by heart. She isn’t the only one prepared to hit the ground running on Jan. 20, 2009.

Could Hillary do the job? Sure. Would she get a chance to? Fuck no.

I’ve kind of come to the same conclusion as The Professor, just from a different direction. John Edwards would be a great candidate if he was running for head of a union, or the Unitarian Church, but America has more important problems staring her down than internecine pissing matches with corporate fat cats. It’s a scary world out there, and we need somebody at the helm with their eyes on the Big Picture, not looking under rocks for dirt on Big Pharma or Big Banana or what have you.

Although I still wish he had waited another election cycle or two for some seasoning, sorry Mr. Clinton, I’m ready to roll the dice on Obama! Or maybe a roulette metaphor is more apt. I’m putting everything on black to win!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Things that are disturbing:

I realize this is getting repetitive (for which I sincerely apologize)… but between the holidays, random weather-related crises and extracurricular work commitments, I haven’t had much opportunity for angry reflection lately. (I haven’t even played with all my new Christmas tech toys yet!) At the same time, my son is taking a renewed interest in his line art.

Below is my favorite of tonight’s prodigious output. I call it “Disturbing In Red.”

Addendum: Trillwing may be on to something. Below is a self-portrait I did in 1987, near the apex of My Decade Of Meth. No denying the similarity...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

My Latest "Face"

So the other day I’m hard at work at my computer thewayIalwaysam and the boy ambles up and asks for a pen. I hand him one and put a fresh piece of paper on top of my To-Do List, and he scribbles for about 30 seconds then puts the pen down.

I glance over at him and go, “All done?”


“What did you draw?” I still haven’t bothered to look.

“Face.” He yanks the paper off and hands it to me.

The frickin’ kid is just 2 years and change. This has to be an accident, doesn’t it?

Everybody who’s seen it is convinced it’s not just a face, but mine specifically. And even I have to admit, he’s got the weak-kneed, commie-lib eyes just right. It’s the closest thing to a current photo of me you’ll ever see on this site.

The other thing is, he spent about 10 minutes working up a previous attempt at this piece, and this time he nailed it in 30 seconds and walked away.

I still think he should learn to play the guitar, though. Kind of like a rock & roll safety school.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Family On The Lam, Again…

Or, “It’s All Fun and Games Till Your Whole Town’s Power Goes Out for 36 Hours and Your Nieghbors Trees Come Crashing Down On Your House.”

Oh what a pleasant corner of the world we’ve chosen to cast our lot in. In retrospect, which it finally is, it could have been much worse. There could have been the breaking of nearby levees or trees falling directly on our house or car, instead of near misses like the one below (our little red car was parked right next to the tree).

It all started Friday. We knew were probably fucked ahead of time. All the old salts were warning us to prepare for outages. What they didn’t tell us was how long they would last. 36 hours? Fucking a.

Wake up Friday morning after a storm straight of out the Old Testament all Thursday night to find the neighbor’s tree laying prone next to our cute little Red Car. Foolishly think “Whew, we got off easy!” Take the Man Cub to daycare to contract his next booger-borne baby virus but find their power is out. I decide to leave the boy there anyway, with instructions to call me if their power doesn’t come back by midday. Still leave feeling like a shithead.

Driving home, there’s Christmas trees blowing across the middle of the streets like tumbleweeds at the OK Corral. Giant trash and recycle cans tossed around like kids’ blocks. The shithead feeling only gets worse. But Goddammit, I’m on deadline for four newspapers, two websites and a huge freelance project that dropped in my lap that needs to go live this coming Friday. Shithead. Shithead…

Anyhow, I’m not at home too long before the lights start bobbing and weaving. I back up frequently and work as fast as I can. Just the same, sometime after 10am – blinko. Everything but my laptop goes tits up. The world is a mighty dark place with the apocalypse brewing outside, power dead inside and your boy 10 treacherous, dangerous miles away. Did I mention the huge semi sprawled on its side driving home from daycare, blocking five lanes of traffic with the cops just arriving on the scene? I curse myself again for not having had my camera ready. Shithead!

With the power out and the storm only gaining fury, I decide I need to go get the boy. If it’s the end of the world, I want to spend it with flesh and blood. I head back out into The Shit and make it back to daycare, taking all surface streets. Trees and large debris everywhere.

I get to daycare, and every other shithead parent in town has decided to leave their kid at daycare, too. Far from feeling better about myself, I feel renewed contempt for my fellow residents of this pissant hellhole burg. I collect the Man Cub and we drive home, surface streets all the way, dodging fallen trees, emergency vehicles and gusts of wind hard enough to force course corrections at 30 miles an hour.

We finally get home in one piece, and once again I foolishly think, “Whew! The worst is behind us now.” Not long afterward, there’s a big crash from the back yard and the Man Cub, who had been glued to the back glass sliding door, comes running up excitedly, yelling “Tree! Tree! …” I don’t see anything from the back, just general end-of-the-world chaos. So I head into my office and am genuinely surprised to find a different neighbors’ tree brushing against my office window:

I realize that another gust of wind will blow the heavy branches off the overhang that had kept the treetop from crashing into my office, so I go out to remove said limbs with the only tool at my disposal, a battle-worn machete from my time with the French Resistance. Chopping those limbs down was the highlight of my weekend.

Eventually, it’s too damned cold in the house, so the boy and I split for The Missus’ office at the university, thus far unscathed by the power outage that has eaten the rest of the city. I’ve lost my sense of humor about the whole thing now and don’t bother to bring my camera.

A couple of tense hours later we’re back home and freezing, but decide to stick it out. I mean, hey, it’s 2008 for crying out loud. How long can it last?? So we light candles and put all our D batteries in the boombox and pass the night with Johnny Cash and Dean Martin. It’s times like this you really realize what is important to you.

By morning it’s fricking freezing and the decision is easily reached to find a motel with working electricity and go live there till the power comes back. We know of one down the street – it was the same place we escaped to the last time horrible weather forced us from our home since we moved up here. 40 years, I’ve never been chased from my home; in six years up here it’s happened twice already.

So we go to the nice motel with rockin’ internet access and dog-friendly policy (not pictured: the dog):

Go out for a dinner that is both horrid and over-priced. There was more beef in The Missus’ vegetarian ravioli than there was in my veggie-beef soup. She was quite the trooper.

I, on the other hand, had achieved a Zen state of bliss by this point and was torturing the help for sport. When the ‘hostess’ seated us directly next to the bathroom in the almost-empty eatery, I innocently inquired, “Pardon me, do you think you could seat us closer to the bathroom? I have a weak bladder…” Nobody but me thought that was very funny, but I found it funny enough for everybody. Our poor server was this sweet, gay undergrad with bad skin, working the local crap franchise in this little crap town from hell down the street from our crap town from hell… We didn’t screw him on the tip, even after he tried to poison my wife with beef products.

So the night was long and largely sleepless (for me), all four of us packed into that one smallish motel room. The boy thrashes — Clump, thump, rustle... The Missus coughs. The dog gets up and walks around, smacking his tail into everything. I keep feeling little tickles at the back of my throat, desperate not to cough out loud and wake everybody up. It occurs to me, I probably wouldn’t have made a very good settler.

The next morning, the word comes that power has finally been restored. Not word from the power company, nor the stupid kid next door I had tasked with informing us when the power came back on, but by a reliable friend (thank you very much, reliable friend). Not a minute too soon. There’s only an hour between “Meet The Press” and “ABC Sunday Morning” and we’ve already wasted fifteen minutes of it. We pack frantically, pile everybody in cars and head home. Even with the time required in having to plug in and re-program every electronical gizmo in the house, I don’t miss a minute of George Stephanopolis’ ABC Sunday morning politics confabble! Life is getting better already.

I even have time to write a note and stick it on the door before The Missus and the Man Cub come home from breakfast at our town’s nicest breakfast place (I filled up on Mountain Dew and giant cinnamon doughnut earlier in the morning).

So that’s our story, and we’re sticking to it. We didn’t learn any lessons and nobody cried; in some ways, it was just like an episode of “Seinfeld.” Only with more wind, rain and inconvenience. And frankly, considerably less comedy (my routine at Marys House Of Inedible Crap notwithstanding). Why does this shit always have to happen during key political news cycles and when I’m on deadline for everything??