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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Chicks That Rock

I've been on a heavy kick, musically speaking, as of late. It seems the heavier, the better. If there's some really muddy palm-muted guitars and some liberal splashing of the hi-hat, and even a little of the thunderous double-bass drum fills I love so much, then I want to hear it dammit.

I need it as heavy as can be. This weekend during my chores, I rocked the deftones' new record, Saturday Night Wrist, Slayer's new record Christ Illusion, as well as a sampling from the Masters of Horror Soundtrack I burned to disc.

And now I've been listening to this song by Kittie. Yes, that Kittie. I'm not sure where I came across this song, but it's an alternate version of Pussy Sugar from Until the End, a record I don't have.

Listen to this and tell me chicks can't rock.

They have the death metal vocals, which I'm not particularly fond of, but damn that riff is heavy. You can listen to it develop over the shouted verse. The snare hits every note, but then after the "Yea-owwww!" the drums get into a head swinging rhythm that creates the perfect little pocket for the buzz saw guitar. That's some mastery of metal right there.

Even the (Late) Pope thinks so.
And if you think the Pope is yawning in that picture, or even praying, let me just say this. God doesn't listen to prayers...

The Uncle Jim Simulator

You know, I love my Uncle Jim. I loved him when he introduced me to the concept of the head lock. I loved him when he used to frighten me with the name of Michael Myers. I even loved him when he came over one Thanksgiving and danced in the middle of our street like a chicken.

And even though we live in the same state, it's like...an hour's drive to his house and I don't get to see him as much as I'd like to. But I have designed an ingenius solution.

Introducing the Uncle Jim Simulator.Now I can enjoy bitch slapping Uncle Jim from the comfort and privacy of my own home. You too can enjoy beating Uncle Jim's sorry ass for three easy payments of only $19.99 (Visa, Mastercard, Checks made payable to Lift With Caution Enterprises, and generous weights of kind bud accepted.)

Don't be scared! The Uncle Jim Simulator received none of the Marine training that the Real Uncle Jim received and it won't hit back.

Coming soon: Optional sound chip that recites random right-wing slogans and various lines of dialogue from the hit motion picture, Full Metal Jacket.

In stores now.

My New Official Position

And no, I'm not moving to Arizona. But I might get a 4X4...

By the way, Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Dynamics of Heavy Metal

I missed the Random Friday Ten yesterday because I spent much of the day cleaning my filthy house. During my cleaning, I was listening to a record I downloaded from iTunes, the soundtrack for Showtime's Masters of Horror soundtrack. I really wanted the unfamiliar Mudvayne song I heard watching an episode of the show, but I also got a bonus when I heard this Norma Jean song.

Called ShaunLuu, it has some interesting dynamics. The opening strains are a simple (and somewhat boring) three chord progression, but on the second progression the rhythm section chimes in. The drummer gets on the hi-hat. The bassist bends in a few notes. And then bam, the song explodes into all kinds of unprecedented heaviness.

I'm not sure what the vocalist is so mad about --you can't understand him anyway-- but I love the short bursts of riffage followed by the little flourishes higher up on the strings. It's like a flurry of quick blows followed by tingles of pain.

There's a kind of body-throwing groove to it.

Here's an example of a song with crappy opening dynamics. Yes, yes, I know Slipknot is supposed to be the shit. But I've always only kind-of liked them. The mask thing is silly, but it appeals to the kids. Plus they have, um, four more members than they should have, because after all, watching a clown beat up a keg with a baseball bat is fun for only so long.

What the hell is wrong with the opening of this song, you say?

You've got the riff, a handy bit of shredding, then the drummer starts his countdown, building, building, this is good...then a drum roll and a nice fill. Then everything stops.

Corey Taylor shouts "Go!"

And then we hear the same fucking riff again. The only embellishment added is some off-rhythm drums. It doesn't go anywhere, doesn't turn into anything else. It just starts, pauses briefly, and keeps going.

Now when your singer shouts "Go!" you go, man. You kick it up a notch, take it to another level of heaviness. Add something. Take something away. Whatever you do, don't just repeat yourself like Slipknot. That's not dynamics. That's just lame.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fuck This Shit

I am so sick of this shit!!!

Here we go again. Roads impassable....again! There's a significant chance I'll get stuck at fucking work...again! Yet another week ruined by the weather...again!

I'm so pissed...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

This is a Beautiful Sight

James Brown/Grindhouse

So who's next? You know they always come in threes. First there's James Brown. Then there's Gerald Ford.

Or was Robert Altman the first?

It's kind of funny how James Brown has been eulogized since he died. Don't get me wrong. I like me some James Brown, but you have to admit, the guy has been something of a joke for quite some time.

Remember Living in America? Remember Eddie Murphy's James Brown routine? Man, that was...twenty years ago!

I don't mean to diss James Brown, though. Vaya con dios, amigo.

You know what I saw the other day that was really disturbing? The trailer for Robert Rodriquez/Quentin Tarrantino's new movie Grindhouse.
I'm a huge fan of Robert Rodriguez, even more than Quentin Tarrantino, but this one...man, I don't know.

That machine gun leg is freaaaky.

My second thought is, damn, that girl is hot!!! Not the one legged one (Rose McGowan) but the one dancing up on Kurt Russell. Vanessa Ferlito. Say it with me and let that R just roll off your tongue.

Ay yai yai!

Still...the machine gun leg thing. Yikes!

It's Video Time!

I've been meaning to post about our further sledding adventures, but time hasn't been on my side.

On Saturday we went to another hill, a legendary hill, the best hill in the city. Just look at this view!
You've got the downtown skyline in the distance, the Rocky Mountains to the west (we call those things foothills), and a whole lot of snow!

The run cut out in the snow has to be at least 50 yards long, maybe even 100. It's a steep hill and you really have some speed by the time you get to the bottom. And to top it off, some kind soul built a ramp, perfectly engineered to launch you in the air.

And when I say air, I mean air. The ground literally disappears beneath you.

Here's a video of me taking the hill face first.

Here's a video of my brother taking the same hill.

To give you some idea of the magnitude of this hill, check out this video. My brother just winged the side of the ramp, but you can kind of get an idea of what kind of air you get.

It was a blast!!!

And while we're at it, check out this video of me beating up my Christmas present.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Post-Christmas Wrap-Up

So did you have a merry Christmas? Get everything you wanted? I did, except for that weight bench... I guess I'm on my own for that.

I have to say, I'm glad that it's over. Like I told my family yesterday during my brief before-work Christmas celebration...I'd get into the "holiday spirit" a little more if I didn't have to work. It's hard to enjoy the "holiday" when it's just another workday.

As for gifts, let's see...I got a punching bag and stand. I'll post pics when I get it set-up. That's another drawback of having to plow through a work week during the "Christmas season." You don't get to play with your presents.

I also got a 4 drawer filing cabinet for all my important files, Michael Connelly's new book (which I'd been tempted to buy in hardcover despite my no-hardcover rule), a sculpture of two hands shaking, some steaks. Yeah, steaks. Don't laugh. These steaks are GOOD and I got a lot of them. Too bad it's not barbecue season!

What'd you get?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas From Michelle Malkin

It's Christmas Eve and I should be talking about Santa, or presents, or the warm joy one gets by being with family during this time of the year, but instead I'd like to talk about Michelle Malkin. Yes, that Michelle Malkin.

She may be married to Jesse Malkin...but she's divorced from reality.

I know you've got better, more important things to do besides read Michelle Malkin, but while you were braiding your cat's hair or reorganizing your sock drawer, she's been on a tear about the AP (Yeah, that AP) and a little immolation story they ran not too long ago.

The quick version: The AP reported that Shiites burned six Sunnis alive in Hurriya, a Baghdad suburb. The military couldn't confirm that it had happened, and the AP "confirmed" the story with a single on-the-record source, Captain Jamil Hussein of the Iraqi police, a Captain Jamil Hussein the Iraqi Interior Ministry says doesn't exist. (The AP offered several other anonymous sources later, but that's beside the point. Anonymous sources won't erase the doubt.)

The AP is an easy target in this case, because they...I mean, Reuters had been caught publishing an altered picture of the bombing of Lebanon. (Reuters, the AP...these news agencies are all the same.)

Malkin, and other niggling windbags, took this Jamil Hussein discrepency and ran with it, and set out to prove to the world that the AP (and Reuters) are feeding their audiences terrorist propaganda and/or outright lies. They assume, based on the lack of evidence (something they're good at, by the way), that the immolation didn't happen.

The military says it didn't happen, so it didn't happen.

They assume the AP is being taken for a ride by a propagandist who goes by the name of Jamil Hussein.

If the Interior ministry says he's not on the payroll, he's not on the payroll.

But you know what they say about assumptions, right?

And what about this Jamil Hussein character. Is he real? Is he even a cop? Is Jamil Hussein his real name? Fuck, I don't know.

Is it Usama Bin Laden or Osama Bin Laden? Is it Al Qaeda or Al Qaida?

Try this one on for size...Jamil Hussein is the Arabic equivelent of Joe Smith. It's like Juan Martinez down in Mexico. Jamil is a variation of Jamal, which believe it or not is one of the top 50 baby names in the United States.

Jamil can also be spelled Jamail, Jameel, Jamaal. I've even seen Bosnian Muslims named Chamil. I suspect that too might be related.

So maybe the AP mispelled his name and the Interior Ministry didn't run their spell check. Or maybe Jamil Hussein doesn't fucking matter, whoever he is.

Malkin recently agreed to go to Iraq to investigate the matter, but she's barking up the wrong tree. We don't need to see an episode of "Where in the World is Jamil Hussein?"

We need to see what happened in Hurriya. (Scroll up if you forgot the name already.)

It doesn't seem that the AP is all that interested in doing that, and who knows, maybe they can't. Say the AP throws two reporters down and sends them in a little convoy out to Hurriya. Yeah, there's a good idea.

Even Michelle Malkin doesn't want to do that. She's got kids, man!

She sums it up thus:
It is not about conservative bloggers ignoring the bona fide, grim realities on the ground. It is about the credibility, veracity, trustworthiness, and accountability of the world's "essential global news network"--more important than ever in a time of war.
Right and a story about people being burned alive in Iraq isn't credible. This from a country known for beheadings and car bombs. It's not the like the Iraqis invented the Improvised Explosive Device.

They just gave it a name.

Here's the oh-so-offensive AP report in its entirety:
Six Sunnis burned alive in Iraq

Associated Press

Friday, November 24, 2006

BAGHDAD -- Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive near Iraqi soldiers who did not intervene, police Capt. Jamil Hussein said.

The savage revenge attack for Thursday's slaying of 215 people in the Shiite Sadr City slum occurred as members of the Mahdi Army militia burned four mosques, and several homes while killing an unknown number of Sunni residents in the once-mixed Hurriyah neighbourhood of Baghdad.

Gunmen loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began taking over the neighbourhood this summer and most of its Sunni residents already had fled.
© Associated Press 2006
If you remember, shit was so bad in Iraq at that time that Baghdad was under a strict curfew.

A little searching also led me to this story, also from the Associate Press.
Police Capt. Jamil Hussein said Iraqi soldiers at a nearby army post failed to intervene in the burnings of Sunnis carried out by suspected members of the Shiite Mahdi Army militia, or in subsequent attacks that torched four Sunni mosques and killed at least 19 other Sunnis, including women and children, in the same northwest Baghdad area.

Imad al-Hasimi, a Sunni elder in Hurriyah, confirmed Hussein's account. He told Al-Arabiya television he saw people who were soaked in kerosene, then set afire, burning before his eyes.
Perhaps some effort should be made to track ole Imad down, too.

Or maybe we should just put this story in the probable category.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Who Killed Jutte Burton?

A few weeks ago, Jutte Burton, an overnight convenience store clerk and mother of two, was shot in the back and left to die on the cold sticky floor of a 7-11 in a botched robbery attempt. Her killer, and his accomplice, were apprehended Thursday in Colorado Springs.

John Doubleday and his girlfriend Amie Lewis have been on the run for over a year. Last year they evacuated New Orleans and have lived as refugees ever since. Homeless, forced to leave, they came to Denver to start life anew, but instead found themselves a niche in the underworld of crime. Parents of a one year old boy, they reputedly also nurtured a voracious cocaine habit, a habit that no doubt awakened their baser criminal proclivities with the end result being murder.

There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere. And if not, a story to be written.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fun in the Snow

When life gives you a blizzard, make the most of it. Since I'm not working today and the roads are at least navigable now, I took the boys to the hill for some sledding action.

Justin brought his snowboard.
We also had the tube and the old timey sled.
I think there's more of that in store tomorrow.

Random Friday Ten

What? You haven't done a random Friday ten yet? Slacker!!!

Here's mine:

1) Groovy Kind of Love - Phil Collins
2) A Shogun Named Marcus (Live) - Clutch
3) Denver Blues - Tampa Red
4) Because I Got High - Afro Man
5) The Silver Hawaiian - Helmet
6) Jambi - Tool
7) How Many More Times (Live at the BBC) - Led Zeppelin
8) The Age of Pamparius - Turbonegro
9) To the Edge - Lacuna Coil
10) Bennie and the Jets - Elton John

Get yours in at American Idle and I don't wanna hear any bitching.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Snow

I'm not mad about the snow anymore...okay, I am still, but at least I'm home now. Home.

But look at where my car ended up.
That's half in, half out of the street. That patch under my bumper, that's the sidewalk.

I only got stuck once on the way home, but thanks to a guy in a truck who stopped to help me, I got out of there. They could have done a better job plowing I-25, though. I drove the whole way down to my exit and didn't touch pavement once! 225 was better. At least there was blacktop most of the way. Colfax wasn't bad either, but my street is just fucked.

I'm going to have to dig my car out tomorrow after I shovel the driveway. But I'm home.

Snowed Out

I am sitting in a hotel room with the slowest internet connection possible. Outside my window, a kid is screaming bloody murder and has been for the last five minutes. The cause of distress...his/her parents being stuck in the snow. Apparently they are too busy trying to get out to shut the kid up.

The snow is at least a foot deep everywhere, more in some places. And it's still falling.

They're saying that conditions won't improve until Friday. Friday is my day off. And I'll be damned if I'm going to be stuck in this hotel, working, on my day off. Especially when other folks, who live in this neighborhood, are "snowed in."

Yeah, I was "snowed in" too, but with a little effort I made it. It's an effort I have come to regret. Next time there's a blizzard, I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying home.

I'd rather be snowed in than snowed out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holy fucking shit! It's bad out there. I got stuck 5 times on the way to work today. Good thing I brought my snow shovel or I'd still be out there.

I got stuck coming out of my driveway. I got stuck trying to turn off my street. I got stuck trying to turn around and go the other way. Then I got stuck on Peoria, a main road. The worst was when I got stuck a block from work. A block away!!

I'm putting in a 12 hour shift today, will probably do the same tomorrow. And there's no way I'm getting home tonight. No way in hell. The company already rented a few rooms for us in a nearby hotel. But still...I'd rather go home.

Hell...I should have just stayed home!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me

If you buy bad crack, do not, I repeat do not, complain to the police. That's the Drug Enforcement Agency, dearie, not the Drug Quality Control Agency.

People like that give crackheads a bad name.

In other drug news, America's number one cash crop is...garbanzo beans!

No, just kidding. It's still wheat.

Wait...grapes? Only in wine country, sweetheart. Corn? Not even in Nebraska. Cotton? That's so 1860s. Alfalfa? Yeah, right.

Nope, the nation's biggest cash crop is marijuana! They say this year's marijuana crop was worth $35 billion, much more than other commodities produced by US growers, e. coli laced spinach and lettuce included.

Of course, the valuation has to take into account the "black market premium" you pay for something that is technically illegal. That $100 you dropped on the high grade? It's not because the pot is worth $100, per se. It's because the dude who's growing it could face 10-15 if he's caught.
(Bruce Mirken the spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project) said California's marijuana crop is worth more than the national production of wheat and cotton combined. Legalizing marijuana and taxing its sales could generate a massive stream of revenue for the state, Mirken said.
That seems only partly true to me. If marijuana were legalized, new supply streams would arise, including the do-it-yourselfer, and the "black market premium" would disappear. Prices would probably go down, that is, unless prices are artificially inflated by taxes (think gas and cigarettes), and if that were the case, this $35 billion number would also go down.

With that said, I'm in favor of full legalization, including commercialization and the inevitable taxation that comes with it. However, I don't think "tax it to increase revenue" is a very good argument for legalizing marijuana. Governments are greedy and easily corrupted and taxes are often the tool of this corrupt greed.

How about this? Criminalizing marijuana is just dumb and wrong. It's expensive, and it's impossible. No matter how hard the DEA tries, they can not eliminate a hardy plant whose nickname is "Weed." Even if they were to eliminate all the wild strains, there is no way they could eliminate the strains that were fine-tuned and engineered in basement hothouses across the world.

Having made no dent in the supply, the DEA also can't eliminate demand. You can't support a $35 billion dollar crop without a whole shitload of demand, and speaking from personal experience, the demand is largely unaffected by the technicalities of the law.

But what about the children? you say. Should they be allowed to indulge in the bud? No, but someday those children will grow up to be adults, and as adults they should be able to make the choices that affect their own lives without heavy-handed government intervention.

So legalize it, tax it if you want to, but do it not for the money, but because it's the right thing to do.

More SNL Fun

After watching "Dick in a Box," I stumbled upon this sketch, about a family of Italian cork soakers.

"Cork soakers are born, not made."

Dick in a Box

Last December, SNL's Chronic(what?!)cles of Narnia video went viral and had me laughing for months. Sometimes my nephew will insist on hearing it and I laugh anew. (That movie trivia line is even funnier now that my job is managing the ads, and trivia slides, that play before movies.)

Now, there's Dick in a Box: The Uncensored Version
Surprisingly enough, Justin Timberlake doesn't even ruin the sketch.

My fav part...the instructions on how you can do it too. Funny stuff.

Update: ACK! YouTube took the vid down...probably on marching orders from NBC lawyers. You can catch the vid by going to the SNL site. No link here, though. If I wanted to link it, I would have done that in the first place.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

6 Weird Things You Didn't Know About Me

Another tag. Another meme. This one even has rules! Here they are:
1. Each player of this game starts with the “6 weird things about you”.

2. People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly.

3. At the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you are tagged” in their comments and tell them to read your blog.
Rule 1 should be amended to say "6 weird things about you...that you're willing to share." There's some weird people out there...and I'm one of them. (Don't laugh. You are, too.)

So here goes:

1) I have crooked feet. I was born with them, and despite wearing casts as a child to straighten them out, they're still crooked. You can't really tell unless I take my shoes off, but they are some freaky ass feet, I assure you.

2) I am not a high school graduate. I'm one of those GED dudes. So what? You know as well as I do that half the people who graduated in your class couldn't pass the GED test even if they wanted to.

3) Even though I claim to be a rational empiricist, I'm actually quite superstitious. I don't step on cracks because I love my Mama. I toss salt over my shoulder when I spill the shaker because you never know...it just might work. I avoid walking under ladders. I even wonder if dreams are a latent form of ESP, and I don't even believe in ESP! Plus, if you tell me you're an Aries, I will take a step back and make the cross sign with my fingers. Arians are evil and they don't even know it. That's the scariest kind of evil, too. The kind that doesn't know it.

4) I have never made a sex tape, never paid a prostitute for sex, nor have I ever had a venereal disease. I intend to keep it that way.

5) I sort my fries by size and eat them accordingly, starting with the little guys first, then making my way up to the longer ones. And if you spray them with ketchup or chile or anything else, I'll be very upset. Leave em alone! Don't splatter the fries, man. They must be dipped.

6) A couple years ago, my brother was named Time Person of the Year. And now it's my turn. The Pearce Boys. I always knew we'd do great things.

Now it's your turn. If you're like me, and you struggled for an answer after five, then you're not as weird as you think you are. If you can keep going until your list is as long as Schindler's, then you're really fucking weird.

So let's see em...

Now who shall I tag? Um...can I get back to you on that? Creepy? Mell? Cat? Anybody?

The Brawl

Never give-up. Even if you're half-engorged by a bird.

But in professional sports --NBA basketball in particular-- that adage doesn't seem to apply. At least, not without consequences.

Let's say your team is losing. Let's say they're not just losing, but they're losing badly. You could bench your showtime players and send out the second squad to eat up the clock so you can go home.

That's what Isiah Thomas did in the Nuggets brawl last night. He gave up. In his own words, he "surrendered."

But the Nuggets didn't. They kept playing. Thomas benched his starters, but George Karl wasn't going to have any of that. A basketball game is 48 minutes. And if you're having a good game, why pull your best players? They're there to do their job, which is win the game, and the game isn't over until the final buzzer.

Unless you give up.

Mike Celizic, in a "pox on both your houses" article about the Knicks-Nuggets brawl on MSNBC, seems to think George Karl's call to keep his starters in wasn't classy. Whatever.

Keeping your best players in the game doesn't give license for flagrant fouls. But then again, flagrant fouls don't give license for cheap shots.

And any attempt to label Carmelo Anthony's bitch slap anything other than a cheap shot is futile. Anthony lashed out in the paint, then backed up to the halfcourt line. Cheap! He'll probably be suspended for a long time, and he should be.

And if you want to say the Nuggets showed little class in the brawl, go ahead. That would be fair. But it wasn't because they didn't bench their stars. It was because they reacted poorly to the cry baby shenanigans of a bunch of sore losers.

Attack of the Mad Elephants

Osama Bin Laden is dead. Not the terrorist, but the elephant.
The 10-feet tall male elephant had been terrorizing villagers in Assam state for the past two years, destroying hundreds of homes and trampling scores of people -- prompting locals to name him after the elusive al-Qaida leader.
Yes, you read that right. Destroying hundreds of homes and trampling scores of people.

This elephant was one bad dude.

Of course, there is some controversy over whether the elephant that was shot really was the serial killer elephant, but this gem from animal rights activists is worthy of note.
Animal rights activists fear there will now be serious repercussions, with the herd of elephants to which “Osama” belonged likely taking revenge and destroying more villages and people in the area.
The elephants will take revenge!

They will gather together, sharpen their tusks, darken their faces with greasepaint, then they will attack. This won't be a rampage. It will be a massacre.

The Elephant Insurgency is on.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Random Friday Post

So the Nuggets seem to be making a serious play for Allan Iverson, who doesn't want to play in Philly anymore. That would be awesome! Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, JR Smith, Andre Miller, Nene, and little Earl Boykins.

That reminds me. I need to make it to a Nuggets game soon. Maybe after the trade?

A few posts ago, I mentioned I wrote a few crappy stories about a skinhead murder that had a strange proximity. I read through one of them again, and as a story it sucks. But as three vignettes, it does kind of stand up. As a literary attempt to exorcise the demons, it served it's purpose.

If you want to read it, here you go. I don't like the title, but try as I might, I can't think of anything better.

Also, the names were changed but not very much. Jenny Von Straussburg is really Jeannie Vanvelkinburgh. Omar Shaw is Oumar Dia (Dia is kind of pronounced "Shaw"). Nathaniel Hill is Nathan Thill. It's simple really. Still, I could probably be sued for libel.

And perhaps even plagiarism. Some of the dialogue spoken by my character "Nathaniel Hill" was actually spoken by the real murderer, Nathan Thill.

And now...the Friday Random Ten.

1) Out of Control - Chemical Brothers
2) Man or Animal - Audioslave
3) Equinox - Clutch
4) It Wasn't Me - Shaggy
5) Golden Years - David Bowie
6) Jerry Was a Race Car Driver - Primus
7) By My Side - Ben Harper
8) Rodeo Clowns - G. Love and Special Sauce
9) The Wanton Song - Led Zeppelin
10) Stone Breaker - Corrosion of Conformity

Don't forget to post yours over at Corey Anderson's American Idle! You know what will happen then. That's right. The guys from Slipknot will show you how it's done back in Iowa.

Tonight's the company Christmas party. It should be fun, but hopefully it doesn't turn out like this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Music Minute

Remember the Pharcyde? No? Where the hell were you back in the early 90s then? Listening to Pearl Jam, were ya? Well you missed out, man. The Pharcyde had a jazzy, humorous bent that was more concerned with hooking up with girls and smoking trees than busting caps in a pig's ass. It's too bad this kind of hip-hop was eschewed in favor of a gangsta style obsessed with bling and bitches. There is hope, though. The Wikipedia claims Pharcyde is coming out with a new record next year.

Listen to a snippet of Pack the Pipe.

I'm reasonably sure you've never heard of a band called Electric Wizard, and even more certain you've never heard their music. They're underground, man, darlings of the stoner rock scene who conjure images of smoky black light posters and Black Sabbath inspired riffage. I can't find much merit in all of their work, but I dig this song called Vinum Sabbathi. It could be because of the jokey intro, but I fear that the power of the riff is what compels me.

Listen to a snippet of Vinum Sabbathi (and prepare to have your speakers blown).

Remember GWAR? Yeah, they're jokey too, if you can call making fun of anal rape and mass murder jokey. Many moons ago, they put out a song about Saddam Hussein, but don't think the most notable thing about the song is the topical relevance. Nope, it's the brass section, which leads me to wonder why more heavy metal bands don't have horns. It sounds awesome!

Listen to a snippet of Saddam A Go Go and wonder with me.

Finally, another song with a funny intro. I have no clue what it's from, but the intro is much much better than the song, which to this ear collapses under its own weight. The band is Mastodon, a weird metal band that once devoted an album to a heavy metal retelling of Moby Dick. (No reason to read the book when you can just buy the record.)

Listen to a snippet of Shadows That Move and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Run, Rabbit, Run!

So as I was pulling into my driveway after work tonight, I spotted something in my yard. Being the ghetto, it's not unusual to find something in my yard, but usually it's a pop can or a flattened cup from Wendy's. Tonight, it was a rabbit. He hung around long enough for me to get this shot.

It's So Easy....

So if jumping on a couch and marrying Katie Holmes can ruin Tom Cruise's career....and going on an anti-semitic rant can cause some professional problems for Mel Gibson, shouldn't shooting a man in the face have a similar effect?

And yet this clown is still Vice President.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Vicariously I Live

No one that is close to me has been murdered. Some members of my, er, family have been. My cousins' Dad, Dennis, was beaten to death behind an IHOP. His killer, or killers, has not been caught. I didn't know Dennis at all, though, so that shock was overcome with sympathy for my bereaved cousins.

It's possible that another cousin may have been murdered, but whoever it was, staged it as a convincing (at least to the authorities) suicide. They found him hanging from a tree by a dog chain.

I didn't really know him either, and when I did, I was pretty little so I don't remember much of it.

The summer between my sophmore and junior year in high school, I heard news that one of my classmates, Dennis Lopez, had been shot and killed in a gang related beef. Everything was gang-related back then, for some reason. I knew Dennis a little bit, but he was too vatos locos for me so I didn't hang around him. But at the time, I had visions of Dennis sitting in his coffin as his family cried around him, muttering prayers in Spanish. 40s would be tipped. Blunts would be passed. Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony would be on the radio, or Dr. Dre.

The next summer, another kid, Juan Valdez, was killed. I don't remember the circumstances, drugs or something. Something stupid, no doubt. I didn't have the same haunting visions of Juan in a casket. I didn't know Juan much either, but I knew enough to know he was a punk. Always getting in fights, always talking shit. By then, I thought Juan's tragic death was a case of, "You better check yo' self befo' you wreck yo' self," and too bad for Juan, he wrecked himself.

Later, after I left high school and its petty gang squabbles, I was working downtown in a high rise. I used to ride the bus to my apartment in the Robert Frost building on 10th and Sherman around the corner in Capitol Hill, and one night, a few hours after I had departed from the bus stop across the street from the office, there was a shooting.

A man, an African immigrant, was dead and a woman, an innocent bystander and some would say good samaritan, was paralyzed. Witnesses reported it was a racially motivated incident, with two skinheads who taunted the black man, knocked his hat off. The woman stepped in to intervene, and that's when the skinheads pulled out their .22 and shot them both.

Turns out the skinheads worked at the convenience store just around the block from my apartment. Most days, I would get off the bus, go into the convenience store, buy a few trifles, and walk up the hill on my way home. Most of the time, the skinheads were working. Of course, I didn't know they were skinheads. Sure their heads were shaved and they were tatted out, but I never saw any swastikas.

They later confessed to a TV reporter, then were arrested and plead guilty. They claimed it was all part of a rahowa and they were just taking out the enemy. I'm sure they're the leading lights in the prison Aryan Nation about now.

That one still freaks me out. The shooting occurred across the street from my job, and the murderers worked two blocks from my house. I had semi-daily interaction with them, and had actually talked to them. They even joked about my Ben and Jerry's fetish.

I couldn't believe it when I saw them on TV, confessing to the crime, being led away in handcuffs. Those two dudes from the gas station??? You gotta be kidding me.

When I went to work the next day, bits of police tape were still flapping in the wind around the bus stop.

A couple years later, the lady who was paralyzed killed herself.

I've tried writing about the story before and produced two very bad short stories. I'm not sure I'll ever wrap my mind about the whys and wherefores of that crime. There are so many dimensions. The African immigrant, who actually helped support a village in Senegal with his earnings in America, dead. The single mother, who rides the bus, mind you, paralyzed, then later a suicide. A couple young punks who wish life was more like Romper Stomper, now prison bitches. Racial Holy War. Cold blooded murder. Heartbreaking tragedy.

It's like blood to a vampire.

Senseless Acts of Murder Part Two

It's official now. The victim in the 7-11 shooting was "the sour old lady with painted on eyebrows" that used to work in the store by my house. I didn't know her name --I knew her as the 7-11 lady-- but this is what the Post says:
Jutte Gallegos Burton was a short-haired, round woman who painted her eyebrows on and didn't worry too much about fashion.

Friends of the 7-Eleven clerk said she had a high-pitched cackle and liked to call people "honey."
I had been called "honey" by her many times. She seemed to like me, but I can't say I really liked her.

Back in my 7-11 post, I mentioned that "despite horrible experience after horrible experience, I kept coming back." And Jutte G. Burton certainly contributed to those horrible experiences.

When I worked the 6 to 3 shift, I stopped in there almost every day before work for coffee. She was on duty and sometimes in a crabby mood. She was the only one there and I stood in many a line waiting to be rung up.

Before long, I cringed when I saw her through the windows, knowing immediately that my convenience store experience would be slightly more inconvenient than I'd like.

One time I saw her at the other 7-11, not the one where she was murdered at, but the one on Montview. I started going there because they didn't seem to get as bogged down as the one on Peoria. Jesus Christ, I thought at the time. I can't get away from this lady.

I can't say I liked her all that much, but she seemed to like me. Most times I would be grounchy, half asleep and desperately in need of my caffeine, thinking I'm going to be a few minutes late to work because the 7-11 lady was so damn slow. Oh yes, she ruined many a morning.

But then sometimes, she would be in a good mood. She would call me "honey" and make some joke. Those mornings weren't bad, but they were few and far between.

Then the store management changed and I didn't see her anymore. I figured she got fired because she was so damn slow. But that was quelled when the clerks that replaced her proved to be even slower!

Even then, I still can't believe the 7-11 lady, known to her loved ones as Jutte, is dead. Not of old age or hypertension, but cold-blooded murder. It boggles the mind.

Monday, December 11, 2006

This Is Not a Parody

But man, I hope it is.

Christmas Wishes or How I Flunked Weightlifting in High School Twice

My Mom asked me what I want for Christmas, so I sent her a list. Most all of it was for pretty pricey stuff, stuff I want but haven't really worked into the budget. I didn't expect the whole list. It was just a few ideas, you know. Pick the one (or two or three) you want, and I'll be happy.

One of those things was a weight bench...not a cheapo aluminum pole one, but a decent one with a preacher curl bench, maybe a lat bar. I've wanted one for a while now, and was going to buy one with my bonus this year...but a month after I got my bonus, I got laid off.

My lavish plans were dashed...but like an ornery villain, they were only dashed for a while.

I knew what my Mom would say when she saw that. She would laugh at the irony. And sure enough, when I called her, this is what she said, "A weight bench, from a kid who flunked weightlifting twice? I don't think so."

Yes, it's true, I flunked weightlifting twice. Once was because my teacher was Mr. Wells, a humorless man with permed hair and an Elmer Fudd lisp. When I was a kid, I used to think that Mr. Wells was just old and mean, but now I realize that Mr. Wells just hated his job. He had to deal with kids all day, take roll call, blow his whistle. It must have been awful. He probably yearned to be in an office, strapped to a desk. I could just see him saying, "Fuck thethe kidth." He probably drank a lot too.

The second time, I think I had Mr. Wells again, and I spent whole weeks not dressing out because I was recovering from a stab wound to the arm. Yes, a stab wound to the arm. (That's a story in and of itself. Have you ever been in shock? I have, and the only thing I can tell you is that it's cold.)

Then I think I stopped going to class.

Yep, I ditched a lot of school in my day.

And, as crazy as it may seem, I still want that weight bench.

Most Wanted

A few days ago, authorities released a list of Colorado's 50 Most Wanted, and as of today, they have captured six of them, including these characters. For some reason, their mug shots make me want to laugh so hard I pee myself.

First, there's Robert "More Psycho Than Norman Bates" Wright. Scary...
Then, there's Shane "Oh Shit!" Johnston.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Senseless Acts of Murder

Not too long ago, I complained about my local 7-11. And today, I look up the news to find that a 7-11 employee was gunned down in a botched robbery attempt. When I saw that it was in Aurora, my first thought was, holy shit, I wonder if it happened at my hated 7-11. Unfortunately there is no shortage of this kind of thing in my neighborhood.

Earlier this year, a man who was shot a few blocks away died in my alley.

Back in September, I went to the 7-11 on 17th and Peoria only to spy with my little eye, a crime scene where a cop had been murdered.

And now, this. Though the 7-11 where this murder occured isn't technically in my neighborhood, it's close enough (about a mile, I'd say), and to top it off, the victim did in fact work at the 7-11 I've recently disavowed, the one on 17th and Peoria, so it's possible that I may have come into contact with her at some point. Since they haven't released the victim's identity, I don't know for sure, but I wonder if it was the sour old lady with painted on eyebrows.

I guess we will see.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Random Friday Ten

Don't forget your Random Friday Ten...like I usually do.

1) The End of Something - Rollins Band
2) The Boss - James Brown
3) Take the A Train - Duke Ellington
4) In the Meantime - Spacehog
5) Hot For Teacher - Richard Cheese
6) Thieves - Ministry
7) Slave - Weezer
8) Rumble Fish (Acoustic) - Sevendust
9) Where You Come From - Pantera
10) Star Wars Theme - John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra

Help the Rebel Alliance crush the evil Empire and post yours.

Heavy Metal Dance Party

This is awesome!!
I doubt that's the track they were actually dancing to, but it would really funny if it was.

Sometimes I think I'm the only person in the world who has intrusive moments of clarity on the dancefloor. Sometimes I just look around and think, "What the hell are we all doing?"

Sometimes you just gotta dance, I guess.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Apocalypto

So the guy's a hopeless anti-semite Jesus freak. He's also the star of the Mad Max films, the first Lethal Weapon (and the others but they don't count), Braveheart, and you know, a few other good movies. It doesn't redeem his drunken ramblings, but on the other hand, his drunken ramblings don't destroy his legacy.

I admire Mel Gibson, I really do. He's got artistic balls. Think about it. His last movie The Passion of the Christ was a religious film, in a foreign language with subtitles, filled with very visceral scenes of violence and little else, not even big stars. It was financed by Gibson himself, violating that old rule of Hollywood: Never use your own money.

But he got to do what he wanted and made a fortune. As for the Passion itself, I thought it was alright. It didn't move me, anti-Jesus as I am, but I thought it was a decent work of art. The fact that he made a fortune surprised me a bit, and deep down it even scared me too, but I thought the hundreds of millions the movie made was well-earned.

And then Apocalypto came up. Another self-financed project that he's not acting in, a tale of the Pre-Columbian Mayan civilization, also in a foreign language with subtitles, also featuring visceral scenes of violence (or so I hear), with no frigging stars!

Tell me, when have you ever seen a film about the Pre-Columbian Mayan civilization? We've seen them about the ancient Greeks. The Romans. The Egyptians even, if the Ten Commandments counts as a film about Egyptians. But the Mayans, right here in our backyard, has never seen the light of day except in flashbacks, and even then, it's almost after the Europeans landed.

This isn't a sequel or a remake. This is something we haven't seen before, something new and completely original. Will it make a fortune? Who knows. I know I want to see it. The question is will I?

In Today's "It's all Fucked Up" Segment...

I found this story about smoking at the nation's capitol somewhat funny, especially the last quote:

"Most people are resigned to the reality that there are fewer and fewer places to do this," said Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), who smokes one to two packs of cigarettes a day. "Behind every smoker is one who wishes they never started. The problem in this town is if you drop one vice, you'll get a worse one."
Let them smoke, for God's sake!

A few snide remarks about the Mary Cheney pregnancy. First, congratulations. I'm not sure how I feel about extending the Cheney genetic line, but alright. Second, the kid will be fine. Trust me on this one. There is nothing to worry about. The teen years will do more damage to this kid than his/her parents' sexual orientation.

Third, fuck you, Dick Cheney. Yeah, you. You and your flunky George, who rode the "Values Voters" all the way to the White House, those ignorant fools who believe that Mary Cheney is an abomination and think that gay people are harmful to children. What the fuck is that? You make me sick.

This story is some gangster shit. And it happened in Cherry Creek, the "nice" part of town!

You want to know what else is fucked up? The treatment of Jose Padilla is fucked up. Those goggles and sound canceling earphones? Jesus motherfucking Christ! Is that not a scary image or what? Not only do they torture you and imprison you for years without charges, they make you wear these things that take away your sight and hearing. You are blind and deaf, locked in your own head, constantly being poked at by a hostile world you can barely sense.

If you really wanted to break a person, I suppose this is what you would do. But it's also what you would do if you wanted to drive a person fucking batshit crazy, too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Today is Wednesday the 6th, the long-awaited date when the bi-partisan Iraq Study Group was expected to release their "What the fuck do we do now?" report on Iraq. Before I get too deep into my layman's analysis, let me just say this. I've seen a few of the commissioners on CNN throughout the day and the one thing that struck me was how old they were. All of them. Dinosaurs. There is not one baby boomer in the bunch. Not one.

I looked it up. Check it out.
James A Baker - born April 28, 1930
Lee H. Hamilton - born April 20, 1931
Lawrence S. Eagleburger - born August 1, 1930
Vernon Jordan, Jr. - born August 15, 1935
Ed Meese III - born December 2, 1931
Sandra Day O'Connor - born March 26, 1930
Leon Panetta - born June 28, 1938
William Perry - born October 11, 1927
Chuck Robb - born June 26, 1939
Alan Simpson - born September 2, 1931
Elder statesmen indeed.

It further reinforces the view that the "grown-ups are in charge now." Of course, the ISG is not in charge --unfortunely Bush still is-- and the only power they have is the power of persuasion.

The big question, though, is whether Bush will be persuaded to listen to their "suggestions." And that remains to be seen.

I haven't read the whole report, but I have kind of skimmed through it. Check this out:
In addition, there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq. The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases. A murder of an Iraqi is not neccesarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn't hurt U.S. personnel doesn't count. For example, one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepency with policy goals.
That has particular relevance to an old debate.

In the single example of casualty figures cited by the ISG, they determined that the number of attacks was underreported by 91.55%. Apparently, 9 out of 10 attacks don't count! I've heard of fudging the numbers, but this is ridiculous.

Even if we were to minus, say, 30 or 40 points for the "good" days, that means we don't know about half of what the hell is going on out there. You know what that means, right?

If someone says Iraq just seems like a disaster because of negative media coverage, you can say toss of some cliche like, you don't know the half of it and it will literally be true!

Also, if 91% of total attacks are underreported, how many deadly attacks are we not hearing about? Could it be more than we would like? Could it be something approaching the numbers we saw in a Johns Hopkins study from two months ago?

CNN had some Republican Congressman on to give his view of the Iraq Study Group. I recognized him, but they didn't flash his name or where he was from so I don't know who the hell he was. Doesn't matter anyway, because he was saying things like, "It's like this, Paula. This comes down to what you believe. If you believe that Iraq is a central front in the War on Terror, then you're going to want blah blah blah." I'm not sure what Bush and the Republicans want out of Iraq exactly. Their actions don't betray their intentions, and whatever they want, I'm sure they won't get.

But the thing that got me was the "If you believe" bullshit. I'd like to publicly inform this guy, and everyone else, that we're not going to listen to what you "believe" anymore. You can "believe" what you want. We're going to go with what we know from now on.

Is Iraq the central front in the War on Terror? Now it is. Thanks, guys.

Meanwhile, the Baker Group, and pretty much anybody but these clowns, are urging a "different course." Some of the ISG's ideas?

Rejuvenate the Israel-Palestine peace process. There ya go.

Assure the Iraqis we won't be building permanent bases. But wait, I thought that was part of the point...

Engage diplomatically with Iran and Syria. Holy shit. That's a great idea! Why this wasn't done for the intelligence value alone a long time ago I don't know.

(There's more here. Have at it. You got nothing better to do, I'm sure.)

Maybe these ideas will work. Maybe not. Either way, we're fucked. HA!

Live and Let Die

Normal people don't pay any attention to the trials and tribulations of Serb war criminals, especially comparatively small-fries like Vojislav Seselj. But I assure you, I am not normal.

Before the outbreak of civil war in the former Yugoslavia, Seselj, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Marty Shottenheimer, was a college professor. I suppose you could even say he was kind of like the Ward Churchill of pre-war Serbia, a radical wind bag on a bully pulpit spouting off about conspiracies and alternate realities.

In Seselj's view, Muslims in Bosnia wanted to destroy the Serbian nation, convert them to Islam and reinstate the caliphate, and the only solution to this coming jihad was pre-emptive genocide. (Come to think of it, he might have found a willing ear in the Bush Administration had they been in charge in the 90s.) Of course, this wasn't true. Bosnia's government, though definitely Muslim, wanted to preserve the multi-ethnic "Brotherhood and Unity" that Yugoslav society aspired to since WWII.

When war finally came to a distintegrating Yugoslavia, Seselj stepped off his podium and took up arms. He started up a militia, much like the Montana freemen, discreetly supported by the Yugoslav National Army (which remained under under Serb control long after Yugoslavia ceased to exist as a country), and with his "soldiers" began what soon became known as "ethnic cleansing."

His murderous contributions to the genocide in Bosnia were so appreciated by his Serb brethren after the war, that he enjoyed quite the lucratvie career in politics. Until of course his arrest and detention at the Hague for crimes against humanity. He is still awaiting trial, a process which could take years, but in the meantime, Seselj has decided to go on a hunger strike to protest his incarceration.

Unfortunately, the authorities will begin force feeding him, depriving him of the martyrdom that he feels must be his Serbian destiny. (Serbs have a soft spot for martyrs, going all the way back to King Lazar, who was famously defeated at the Field of Blackbirds by the Ottoman turks. That event, occurring in 1389, believe it or not, provided much of the inspiration for the Serb's anti-muslim blood lust some 600 years later.)

If it were me, I would just let him die. Sure, there will be some who still hold him up as a hero. But it should be quite easily to laugh at those people.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Justin Timberpuke

So we were watching the Victoria Secret fashion show at work...tough life, I know...and besides seeing some beautiful women in sexy underwear (and yet still wondering what that weird wing fetish was all about) we were treated to two salacious performances by NSYNC refugee Justin Timberlake.

And this is all I can say about that. I know he's got his fans, but he suuuuucks.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You Might Be a Skank....

If you have a stripper pole in your house and give strip lessons to Britney Spears in a tutu...you might be a skank.

Updated: I've been wondering ever since I posted this whether this particular gossipy rumor is even based in truth or if it's some clever publicist's way of making fun of the Britney-Paris no-panty skanks-r-us fascination.

At first glance, it's entirely plausible. Is it really that farfetched to believe that a girl who takes nude pictures of herself with her cameraphone and makes a living based on little more than sex appeal has a stripper pole in her house? Not really.

Is it really that farfetched that Britney would be interested in the finer arts of stripping? Have you heard I'm a Slave 4 U?

But do I believe that Paris Hilton has a stripper pole in her house and that her and Brit have been swinging around on it in tutus? No. I'm sorry to say that defies all credibility.

But then again, we are talking about Britney Spears and Paris Hilton here...

If they starred in a movie, they'd have to call it Skank and Skankier. (You pick who's who.)

Emissions

I failed my emissions test today. That yearly (or bi-yearly) ritual of getting the smog system of your car tested. I failed! The good news: It's not my muffler, and I don't need a new catalytic converter. It was my gas cap, a $5 part from Checker Auto.

The bad news: I've gotta go back for a retest.

In slightly related emissions news, I've been reading the daily dispatches from MSNBC reporter Miguel Llanos, who is currently stationed in Antarctica.

Many years ago, I used to tell people that I was going to move to Antarctica. You know, get away from society, go live on a continent without a country. No traffic. No long lines at the grocery store. Just me, a few dogs, and the great white wastes.

Little did I know that life in Antartica is not quite like that. Based on a few hours perusing a funny Antarctic site, Big Dead Place, the American side of Antarctica sounds like a big company town. Aside from the bureacracy and the constant supervision from Raytheon corporate stooges, there's a lot of things that would make a season in Antarctica "James prohibitive."

For instance, it is illegal to bring dogs. Yes, no dogs. No animals period. It's also illegal to bring dirt and plants from the non-frozen world. Yep, my potted geraniums? Forget about it! There's no way they'd even let me off the plane.

Also, there's not much going back and forth once you're there. You're there for the season...or you can't get there.

As for the getting away from society, that's complete bullshit. I now know that not only are Antarctic-Americans not completely cut off from society, but they have their own little society and culture. It appears that its based on bitching about bureacrats back in "Denver" (presumably Raytheon people) and drinking mass quantities of booze. Sounds like fun, no?

All in all, my recent reading about Antarctica really don't make me want to go there. But it does make me want to watch The Thing again.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Random Friday Ten

After a brief respite, here it is again, the Random Friday Ten. Post yours over at American Idle and feel good about it.

1) Terminator - Sevendust
2) Fuck the World - Insane Clown Posse (Don't bother to analyze these rhymes...in this song I say FUCK 93 times)
3) Hold It Now, Hit It - Beastie Boys
4) Worlds Apart - Hatebreed
5) Aenima - Tool (A more arty interpretation of the sentiments in the ICP song)
6) Loud Love - Soundgarden
7) Equinox - John Coltrane
8) Unity - 311
9) Mood Indigo - Louis Armstrong
10) 30 - Karma to Burn

That last one, woah. If you've never listened to Karma to Burn, give this track a shot. A power trio more powerful than Rush, with no words and numbers for song titles. It crushes!

Consuming Adhesive

The report hasn't been released yet, but it seems the Iraq Study Group has already concluded that the best course of action for the US in Iraq is...cutting and running. Only they don't call it that. They call it "phased withdrawal."

That kind of shit didn't even work when I was a kid.

"Don't eat paste!"

"I'm not...I'm consuming adhesive."

Perhaps those who so vociferously called the "declare victory and leave" crowd "cut and runners" think that by changing the terminology, no one will notice. It's unlikely they'll concede that Bush's plan --alternately called "bring em on" or "stay the course" or "they stand up, we stand down" -- just didn't work, and by pigheadedly sticking to a failing strategy, we are left with "phased withdrawal" as our best alternative. (Conveniently wrapped up by early 2008, no less.)

On another note, Charles Krauthammer inadvertently exposes the fatal cracks in the President's war plan, and openly admits that all that "freedom and democracy" talk was a smokescreen for good ole American imperialism. He writes:
What do people think we've been doing for the past five years? True, the president's rhetoric has a tendency to go soaringly Wilsonian, e.g. the banishing-tyranny stuff in his second inaugural address. But our policies of democratization in Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon have been deeply rooted in the most concrete of American interests.

If we really had been in the grip of "idealism," we'd be deep in Chad and Burma and Darfur. We are not. We are instead trying to sustain fragile democracies in three strategically important countries -- Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon -- that form the geographic parentheses around the principal threat to Western interests in the region, the Syria-Iran axis.

We are trying to bring democracy to Iraq in particular because a pro-Western government enjoying legitimacy and popular support would have been the most enduring means of securing our interests there.
It doesn't take a genius to realize that the Iraqis, with their various factions and interests of their own, would resist such efforts to be the pawns of "Western interests."

Would you like to be the pawn of "Islamist interests?" Doubt it.

Of course, it's easy to say out of one corner of your mouth that "man is an end unto himself" and then out of the other corner, say "except when that man interferes with my interests."

It's another thing entirely to admit that in a complicated world of competing interests, imposing your own through force is often counter-productive.

How's that old saying go? "You catch more bees with honey than vinegar."

Sad that a fortune cookie aphorism contains more truth than the entire "conservative" intelligentsia, who bends over backwards to make excuses for a war that was fatally flawed not only in execution, but in conception as well.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

It Was All Just a Dream

I had a dream last night that I was lost in Texas. For some reason, I was looking for a strip club (?!) that I knew was in the shadow of Texas Stadium. Why this task was so important, I have no clue. I have no problem with strippers, but rarely do I actually seek them out, even in my dreams.

I stopped off at a gas station to get directions to the stadium, figuring that if I found that I'd find the club eventually. But this wasn't an ordinary gas station. It was part gas station, part pawn shop or something.

Inside, while waiting for the shop keep to come back with directions, I asked the lady standing next to me to hold my digital video camera. I got the directions, and when I asked the lady for my camera back, she handed me a cordless phone set-up.

"No," I said, "I want my camera."

She pretended that I had never given her a camera, but had that vaguely guilty look in her eye. This must be their racket, I thought. They steal things from tourists and sell them in their shop.

But I wasn't about to let my camera become their next hot ticket item, so I made a big stink about it. I grabbed the lady's wrist, even as she tried to hide my camera behind her back.

Finally, she called over her shoulder, "Buffalo!" Summoning a big Texas brawler like Agamemmnon summoning Achilles, this big bruiser rounded the corner and came at me.

I struck first, sweeping his legs out from under him and taking him down. I mounted his chest, straddling his arms with my knees. He was strong, but I was pissed. He struggled and I flattened his nose with my fist. I mean flattened. When I was done with him he looked like a washed up palooka who tried to win one too many prize fights.

But Buffalo still had some fight left in him, and he threw his leg up, trying to hook me into a UFC submission move. Just as I was about to counter it, I looked up and noticed another strongarm coming around the corner to rip off my head.

Fuck this, I said. Realizing this must all be a dream, I shook myself awake. And to my relief, it was all just a dream.

Five Signs of a Lousy Job

I found this article somewhat funny. This time last year, all of these things would have definitely applied to me:

1. You dread going to work.

Then: Sometimes I would dread going to work, I would call in sick. Then call in sick two more times, giving me a nice five day weekend, then I'd show up the next day. See, all better.

Now: I dreaded going to work the first few weeks because it was all so new and unfamiliar and I had new guy syndrome. These days I have a reasonable grasp on what I'm doing and sometimes I even look forward to going to work.

2. You get no enjoyment from your day-to-day responsibilities.

Then: The job was boring and repetitive. Pushing buttons, basically. And to top it off, there was no sense of accomplishment. You'd do your piece and leave the rest to someone else. You never actually accomplished anything. Trust me, there was nothing to enjoy.

Now: I wouldn't say I enjoy my responsibilities so much I'd make them my hobbies, but there are times when I enjoy what I'm doing.

3. You are uncomfortable with the company culture and environment.

Then: I worked for a huge publicly traded company which also happened to be a public untility. The company culture was to treat you like children. Your bosses were the parents and you did what you were told...or else.

Now: The company culture is amazingly laid back. If you've ever watched the special features on any movie with a huge CGI budget, you'd get an idea of what the culture is like. Think the animators from Star Wars or The Incredibles. Creative, casual, with energy and life.

4. Your relationship with your boss is turbulent.

Then: Turbulent was a good way of putting it. Think parent-teenager relationship. Mom and Dad don't know a damn thing about your life, but they're going to make sure they try to control every aspect of it. That's bound to create some conflict.

Now: My bosses are both very cool, very funny guys, and they trust me more than they probably should. Not only that, but they are absolute gurus at what they do. They didn't become bosses because of their supervisory skills. They became bosses because they know their shit.

5. You see no opportunities for career advancement or enhancement.

Then: I reached a dead end at my old job. I didn't know enough to move around and there was no where else to go where I was at. There were many times when I thought I was in a quicksand pit and it was slowly sucking me down...

Now: I see opportunities everywhere. Not only is the company growing at an amazing rate (digital cinema is the way of the future, after all), but I'm learning about all kinds of things. HD broadcasts over satellite, the movie business, the ad business, not to mention all the technical stuff a junior NOC engineer needs to know.

So I guess I have a pretty good job, considering.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Short Cuts - Political Edition

I wonder...if environmentalism was a pet right-wing cause, would Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto have such strident criticisms of the animated penguin movie Happy Feet? Doubt it.

I wonder...what would have happened if Jim Webb had actually slugged the President. (I can totally picture Bush's smug little smile as he came up to Webb and said, "How's your boy?" And I can understand Webb's urge to deck him.)

I wonder...if Bill O'Reilly were a pagan, would he be bitching about the war on Saturnalia?

I Got Tagged!

Yes, indeedy, I got tagged. A little survey fun. And no, I didn't write the questions, even though I'm sure some sevey from Horace Greeley Junior High did.

Here goes:

DO YOU SNORE? I'm sure I do, but not all the time and not as bad as a buddy of mine!

ARE YOU A LOVER OR A FIGHTER? You mean there's a difference??

WHAT’S YOUR WORST FEAR? Amputation. Paralysis.

AS A KID, WERE YOU A LEGO MANIAC? Kinda, but GI Joes were cheaper and we sure as hell weren't rich.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF “REALITY” TV? That it's not very real...or very good.

DO YOU CHEW ON YOUR STRAWS? No.

WERE YOU A CUTE BABY? The cutest.

IS THE SINGLE LIFE FOR YOU? 1) Real answer: Not really. I'm not really liking it all that much. 2) Smart ass answer: It's a pirate's life for me.

WHAT COLOR IS YOUR KEYBOARD? Black, like my heart.

DO YOU SING IN THE SHOWER? Shower? Sometimes. Most of the time I'm still half-asleep, so there's really just a bunch of waking up going on in there.

HAVE YOU EVER BUNGEE JUMPED? No, and I never will. I cried like a little girl on the Superman ride at Six Flags Over Texas, didn't I, Jimmy? Me and heights don't get along all too well.

ANY SECRET TALENTS? No, my talents are on display for all to see.

WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL VACATION SPOT? Macchu Picchu

CAN YOU SWIM? Underwater even.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE MOVIE DONNIE DARKO? Oh yeah, many many times. I like the Director's Cut better, though.

DO YOU GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THE OZONE? Oh yeah.

HOW MANY LICKS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE CENTER OF A TOOTSIE POP? No clue, but I know a cartoon owl who can do it in three.

CAN YOU SING THE ALPHABET BACKWARDS? Sure, which language would you like me to do it in? Ancient Greek? Sanskrit? Quechua? C'mon, man! Gimme a hard one.

DO YOU PREFER ELECTRIC OR MANUAL PENCIL SHARPENER? I prefer a roller ball pen. I don't write with anything else.

WHAT’S YOUR STAND ON HUNTING? Could be fun, I guess, but ultimately unneccesary. I'll tell you one thing, though...Dick Cheney doesn't hunt. He just shoots at things. I don't know any hunters who call that kind of thing hunting.

IS MARRIAGE IN YOUR FUTURE? I'd like it to be, but I doubt it. If so, it'll be my first. Her second. That's my guess anyway. I ain't no spring chicken anymore. I'm thirtysomething now.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Sure. If I didn't, I'd change it.

WHAT ARE YOU ALLERGIC TO? Dust. Going to church.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAID, “I LOVE YOU”? Last time I talked to my Mom.

DO YOU CRY AT WEDDINGS? Um...no.

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS? As ingredients. If I had to eat an egg, though, I'd eat it scrambled or deviled. None of this over easy shit.

ARE BLONDES DUMB? No, but their hair smells funny.

WHERE DOES THE OTHER SOCK END UP? In the portal that leads to John Malkovich's head.

WHAT TIME IS IT? Time to get ill.

DO YOU HAVE A NICKNAME? Jaime. Jamey. Jimmy P. The Railsplitter. (Okay, I made that last one up.)

IS MCDONALD’S DISGUSTING? Is the Pope Catholic?

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN A CAR? On the perilous drive home.

DO YOU PREFER BATHS OR SHOWERS? Showers, but a good hot bubble bath with a book is great. If only I could fit in the bathtub...

IS SANTA CLAUS REAL? Is Bill O'Reilly an asshole?

DO YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR NECK KISSED? It's alright, but I'd rather be the one doing the kissing.

ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? No.

WHAT ARE YOU ADDICTED TO? Caffeine, nicotine, tetrahydrocannabinol, truth, and beauty.

CRUNCHY OR CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER? Creamy

CAN YOU CRACK YOUR NECK? No.

HAVE YOU EVER RIDDEN IN AN AMBULANCE? Nope.

IS DRUG FREE THE WAY TO BE? What was that? Free drugs??? Where?

ARE YOU A HEAVY SLEEPER? Yes.

WHAT COLOR ARE YOUR EYES? Brown.

DO YOU LIKE YOUR LIFE? It's alright. If I have any complaints, you'll hear them, that's for sure.

ARE YOU PSYCHIC? I knew you were going to ask that...

HAVE YOU READ CATCHER IN THE RYE? Yeah, it was an easy read, but I didn't really like it all that much. Some dude walked around the city, saw some people, drank some booze. What else happened? I don't know.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS? Guitar, not very well.

HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN MONEY? Yep. Not since I developed morals, though.

CAN YOU SNOWBOARD? No, but how hard can it be?

DO YOU LIKE CAMPING? Yeah, except when the camp nazi goes crazy.

DO YOU SNORT WHEN YOU LAUGH? Only occasionally.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC? I believe in the Magic of Powerful Thinking.

ARE DOGS A MAN’S BEST FRIEND? Yes, because woman sure as hell isn't! Ha!

YOU BELIEVE IN DIVORCE? I believe most marriages end in divorce. But do I think divorce is a good thing? No.

CAN YOU DO THE MOONWALK? Does Michael Jackson like sleeping with boys?

DO YOU MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES? More than I'd like to.

IS IT COLD OUTSIDE TODAY? As cold as an Eskimo's balls!

WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? A smothered burrito

DO YOU WEAR NAIL POLISH? Only on my toes, and only when applied by a lovely female.

HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU LIKE RIGHT NOW? See...this is the junior high question. What the hell do you mean, how many people do I like right now? Like as in I want to go steady? Or like as in, you know, a generally favorable attitude?

WHAT’S THE MOST ANNOYING TV COMMERCIAL? The Brinks Invasion of the Door Kickers commercials. Anything featured Jared from Subway.

DO YOU SHOP AT AMERICAN EAGLE? That's at the mall, right? So no.

FAVORITE SONG AT THE MOMENT? Cherry Waves by the deftones.
Now fold this in the super secret way and pass along before Miss Maplethorpe sees it and sends you to the principal's office.

Home Depot Picture

I took this picture as research for my garden project. See, I need some more pressure treated lumber for the garden beds I've been building this off-season. I'm also going to be putting up a fence to protect the whole garden area from the dogs. My idea was to go to Home Depot, see what they had, see how much it was going to cost, then come home and formulate a plan.

As soon as a Home Depot representative saw the flash from my camera, he came over to me and said, "I'm sorry, sir, but we don't allow cameras in our stores."

I looked at him with a bemused you-gotta-be-fucking-joking-man look and said, "Okay."

He kept giving me the eye. His gaze dropped to the camera still in my hand. "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to put that away."

"Okay," I said, wondering what other things I would have to say to get this guy to go away. He just kept looking at me.

I put the camera away and decided I might as well get my lumber elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When It Snows...the Idiots Drive

It didn't take me an hour to get home, but I have to echo the Cat's distress with people who lose the ability to drive as soon as the streets get sloppy.

Here's a tip: When the highways are slicker than the Gotti boys' hair, do not, I repeat, do not tap your brakes when you want to slow down. There is no better way to go spinning out of control, slamming into all the cars around you and ruining the commute for a lot of people.

This is what you do. Take your lead foot off the fucking gas, moron, and let friction do the rest. You will slow down and chances are you won't go spinning off through oblivion in the process.

Yeah, I'm talking to you in the Corolla.

And always remember your Aesop: Slow and steady wins the race.

Monday, November 27, 2006

What's So Civil About War Anyway?

Matt Lauer had the gall to come on TV and say that Iraq was in a civil war. The White House disagreed vehemently, pointing out that "civil" means "Of or in accordance with organized society," and as such the word cannot be applied to a chaotic Iraq ripping itself to shreds one suicide bomb at a time.

Instead, the White House official language refers to the war in Iraq as just "the war." And though the headlines proclaim "the war" a disaster, White House officials insist that "the war" is just a war.

When asked about the Sunnis who were burned alive in response to an attack that left 215 Shiites dead, outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Stuff happens." He was also careful to note that this incident shouldn't be seen as further proof that Iraq is slipping into civil war because "Sunnis and Shiites having been killing each other for years."

In the meantime, President Bush made a diplomatic sweep through Latvia and Estonia, seeking to shore up support for US involvement in Iraq's civil...ahem...not so civil war. Once considered former Soviet backwaters, Latvia and Estonia (combined population less than 4 million, roughly equivalent to the population of Miami) are now thought to be the United States' strongest allies in the War on Terror.

In other news, fresh off his cover-story for Newsweek (which in all seriousness is worth a read), insurgent leader Moqtada Al-Sadr announced plans to team up with Taco Bell to unveil a new culinary delight to Americans with a taste for faux-Mexican food. Called the "Tostada Al-Sadr", the latest item on Taco Bell's menu features refried beans covered in cheese, topped with a delicious sauce made of Sunni blood and genuine Mesopotamian crude. The Tostada Al-Sadr will replace the Gordita, which many consider to be offensive to small fat Mexicans.

And now...our top story tonight: Michael Richards apologized to Jesse Jackson for calling someone else the N word........

Skanks For the Memories

Celebrity skanks have been getting lots of ink these days. Britney Spears has been palling around with fellow skank Paris Hilton and even got caught with her panties down. (I would put that pic up, but you know, it's NSFW and well...it's kinda gross. In case you were wondering, excessive tanning doesn't hide stretch marks too well.)

In other skank news, Pamela Anderson is dropping Kid Rock. Only God Knows Why. I mean, she has such good taste in men...

For his part, Kevin Federline isn't too sad about his impending divorce. He's enrolled in a skank-replacement program and already found one to spend the holidays with. Those boobs sure are big...but are they really boobs or just big balls of saline solution?
I hate to say it, Pam, Britney, Paris, and K-Fed, but when it comes to porn stars, I prefer the real thing.
You don't see Jenna Jameson putting out a crappy record to justify her skankiness.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thank Heaven I Don't Have to Go to 7-11

I'm done with 7-11, at least the one by my house.

Despite horrible experience after horrible experience, I kept coming coming back, giving them chance after chance. But finally, I can do it no longer. I'm done. If I ever need gas, or cigarettes, or pop and candy, I will go anywhere but 7-11.

Here's why: It's terribly inconvenient to go to this 7-11. Yes, it's inconvenient to go to a convenience store.

The straw that broke the camel's back was this: During my last trip to 7-11, I was standing in line with a 12 pack of Pepsi, some sunflower seeds, and my wallet. Only one of the two ladies who work there was behind the counter, the other lurking by the candy taking inventory or something. About five minutes into my interminable wait, the phone started ringing.

The lady at the register didn't answer it. Ring...ring. She's too busy ringing up the guy in front of me, taking about a minute per item, oblivious to the urgent ringing of the phone.

Instead, it seems the inventory lady, who put down her clipboard, sighed heavily, and began waddling around the counter, would answer the phone. And she waddled slow.

Ring...ring, she made it around the donuts. Ring...ring, ooh, she passed the nachos now. Ring...ring, rounding the corner, getting close. Ring...ring, by the cigarettes now. Ring...ring, wow, made it to the phone, but she's just staring at it. Ring...ring. Now she picks it up.

I don't know how many times the phone rang before she finally got around to answering it, but it was over 7 and somewhat less than 20. Think about the time it takes for a phone to ring 7 times. Think about how far it is from the candy aisle to the phone in your average 7-11.

I don't know if that lady has corns or brain damage or something, but one thing is for certain, she doesn't have a sense of urgency.

None of those people at that 7-11 do either. They act like you the customer have nothing better to do than spend all day in a 7-11 with them. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The entire appeal of a 7-11 is running in and out, the convenience.

And I'm not sure how it is in 7-11 land, but if I let the phone ring 7 or more times at my job, any job I've ever had, I would be fired. Wouldn't you?

Unfortunately for the franchisee who hired these incompetent 7-11 employees, we live in a capitalistic society where gas and cigarettes and candy and pop can be purchased at any corner gas station with a minimum of effort. So why go to a slow poke 7-11 where the service is unfailingly bad all the time?

Here's the short answer: You won't.

Denver Sports

If you are lucky enough to get the NFL Network and happened to catch the Denver-KC game on Thanksgiving, you probably know that the Broncos were creamed. Not even a minute in, Jake Plummer got getting picked off and try as they might, the Broncos never quite recovered. They not only lost the game, but their spot atop the AFC West. (I told ya the AFC West was competitive.)

And now it seems Plummer has lost his starting job. Yep, Jay Cutler, first round draft pick, heir apparent to John Elway's legacy, will get his first NFL start next Sunday against the Seahawks.

It's not a bad move, considering Jake's mistake-prone play, but I wonder if changing quarterbacks mid-season really is the jumpstart the Broncos need. How about a consistent running back? An offense that allows some pocket passing rather than relying on sneaky bootlegs? How about a tight end threat even?

I guess we'll see if these things materialize with Cutler under center. It seems obvious that they weren't going to under Jake...

In other local sports news, the Nuggets scored 140 points to beat the Golden State Warriors. That's not a typo. 140 points. J.R. Smith got 31 points. Carmelo Anthony had 30. It's still way too early in the season to start making forecasts, but if the Nugs keep up this level of play, they could go on to do great things.

Kenyon Martin who?