Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hard Case Crime - The Shirt

Here's another shirt I made, this time using the luridly pulpy covers from the Hard Case Crime series. It turned out pretty good, but there is one design flaw. It's busy.
I love the retro covers and my scans turned out great though. Here's a close-up.I even made a chest pocket logo for them. Now isn't that nifty?

Don't Forget To Vote

For your favorite non-Republican candidates.
And vote yes on Amendment 44.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cherry Waves

I can't get enough of this song.
The waves
You in
Then you drown

It's like
Just stay
(With me)

As I went
With you
Deftones, Cherry Waves

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I Gotta Drive in This?

And yes, that is my aspen tree hanging heavily over my power lines. Don't worry, I shook it off and it's returned to its semi-upright position.

Since Halloween is only a few days away, that means it's time to get dumped on. Every October, we get a huge storm that creates blizzard conditions. Some years are worse than others. This year doesn't seem so bad.

Here's hoping I don't die on the way to work today.

Saturday Night Wrist

The deftones is streaming their new album (dropping next Tuesday)on their Myspace page. I've listened to it a few times already and my first impression is wow. I've already written about a couple songs already, but I was pleasantly surprised to find several others that were just as good, if not better.

Some songs rock, some songs go epic, some songs push sonic frontiers the deftones have rarely crossed. Cherry Waves is one of the "epic" tracks. Check out the Who-like flourishes before the song dips into the chorus. Abe Cunningham is practically channeling Keith Moon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not a Cop Out

Not to be lazy or anything, but I'm going to reprint a post from back in February. You might have missed it, you might have read it all before, but it might be worth another look. (That's why I'm reposting it.) This one's for you, Jimbo:
I know a lot of Republicans. None of them are part of the GOP establishment. They are regular people, with jobs, bills, and (whether I like to admit it or not) principles. And some of them, many of them actually, still support this Republican president and the Republicans in Congress.

I find this mystifying. I've railed long and hard against Republicans on this blog, perhaps sometimes unfairly, but in many cases, deservedly so. The Republican party has been betraying it's principles for a while now, and while the Democrats have been doing the same thing, the GOP is, after all, the party that controls all three branches of government. If we must suffer hypocrites, I prefer they be powerless, like the Dems, rather than all-powerful, like the Repugs.

I've said it before, but it must be hard to be a Republican these days, a principled Republican, that is, one drawn to the party because of its ideas rather than its imagery. It's easy to declare yourself a Republican and then fall behind everything they say or do. Rush and Hannity does that, but then again, it's their job. They are paid to repeat right-wing talking points and if they suddenly developed principles, or an independent voice, they would have to find a new line of work.

But for average everyday republicans are different. Little-R republicans are normal citizens with a conservative bent who registered Republican on their voter-registration cards but have never bought a thousand dollar hotdog at a fundraiser. These guys already earn their livelihood elsewhere, most likely a non-political job, so they don't have an economic incentive to stick to every talking point passed down from the Party elders. They can afford to have principles. They can afford to disagree with their leaders.

And yet, why is it that so many don't?

For instance, if you're a Republican who supports limited government, how can you conceivably still support George W. Bush, who in his two administrations has reigned over a dramatic expansion of government bureaucracy and power? The Department of Homeland Security, the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, domestic spying, unlimited executive war-making powers, and out-of-control budget deficits. That's five "Big Government" examples right there, just off the top of my head.

How many more examples do small-R republicans need to jettison this crazy idea that George W Bush is a small-government conservative in the mold of Reagan? Recall it was Reagan who said, "Government isn't the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." The people of the Gulf Coast found that one out the hard way...

And if you're a small-R republican concerned about national security, it doesn't get much better. It was the Republicans who were more concerned with Monica Lewinsky than Osama Bin Laden during Clinton's term, before 9-11, before Tora Bora. When Bush came to office, his primary concern until September 10th had been his faith-based iniative, and once his priorities were exposed to be heinously out of whack the next day, he suddenly became this John Wayne/Charlie Bronson/Steve McQueen super-hero figure who (from now on, that is) was going to protect America from terrorism.

And yet, Bush's foreign policy has been a mixed bag, at best. Diplomatic relations with our allies have been strained by the cowboy arrogance of Bush and his diplomatic appointees. Korea and Iran, the two other points on Bush's self-declared "Axis of Evil," are closer to obtaining nukes than they ever were and are defiantly daring the United States and the international community to do something about it.

Iraq is a Pyrric victory. Saddam Hussein is gone, but Iraqis are worse off than they were before the invasion, with their country's infrastructure in tatters (including their precious oil industry), their security threatened on a daily basis by terrorist attacks, and the constant threat of ethnic civil war hanging over them like a black cloud. If they recover in a decade, it will be a miracle.

How is it that the man who presided over the biggest lapse in national security in our nation's history (9-11) can position himself as some kind of national security guru, the benevolent protector of all things American? Is it the transformative power of Jesus? Or is it a forgetful and naive public convinced by jingoistic slogans and parade ground theatrics? Bush's "war president" image plays great on TV, but like most everything else on TV, it's a carefully crafted illusion. If you remember, foreign policy-savvy President Bush was poorly informed Candidate Bush prior to his first election in 2000. (See my previous post for more on Candidate Bush.)

For the libertarians in the GOP, it must be disheartening to see the erosion of civil liberties under the Bush regime. Things like the right to privacy can't be taken for granted under the spotlight of the NSA's domestic spying operation and the Patriot Act. And now it seems that simply being suspected of terrorist ties can erase all of your Constitutional rights, even if you are an American citizen.

Fiscal conservatives don't fare much better. Like the poor, they, too, are being betrayed by Bush's incessant spending and tax-cutting. Billions in surpluses have, over the last five years, turned into billions in deficits and Bush will be long gone when the bill comes due. (Remember this guy has signed every single piece of legislation that has come across his desk, no matter how big or small, good idea or bad.)

And what about the "law and order" republicans, who don't seem to mind that the President's political machine is where old shysters and crooks go to die? Let's see, the former GOP House leader is under indictment, so is the VP's top adviser. Vote-whore Duke Cunningham and super-lobbyist/admitted felon Jack Abramoff are already going to jail. The President, in his infinite wisdom, admitted to breaking the 1978 FISA law, but justifies it by claiming the law doesn't apply to him. What more does it take to convince their "law and order" loyalists that the Republicans in Washington today have a blatant disregard for following the letter of the law?

I suppose the only groups being served by President Bush's unique brand on conservativism are the Religious Right and the free-market faithful. Both groups are what we would politely call "faith-based," in the sense that they both believe in a benevolent supernatural force. The Christians call theirs God and the free-marketers call theirs "The Invisible Hand." These beliefs, on their own, are no more dangerous than belief in the Easter Bunny or UFO abductions, but when they are taken seriously and without question, bad things happen.

For the free-marketers, they seemingly like Bush's business friendly tone. They are quick to remind us that Bush is the first president with an MBA and they twitter with glee at all the CEO comparisions. But I hope that some of them are learning that a "free market" is not always free, and no-bid contracts, cronyism, and rampant fraud do not a free market make. Don't be fooled, Adam Smith fans. Bush is not a free-market guy. He's fine with farm subsidies and industry hand-outs, and he has no problem perpetuating the black market in narcotics by continuing to wage the war on drugs. (Speaking of black's a scary concept. If Roe V. Wade ever gets overturned, black market abortions will make a comeback...with a vengeance.)

As for the Christians, who knows what they are thinking? As a rule, they are comfortable with contradictions; it's an important aspect of their faith. (Just ask a Christian to explain how the concept of the Trinity somehow remains monotheistic.) You will see very sincere Christians in the "right-to-life" crowd vehemently oppose abortion, and yet they strongly support the death penalty. President Bush is their most glaring example of this comfortable contradiction. He effectively banned embryonic stem cell research out of "respect for life" and yet, as governor of Texas, he executed hundreds of real live multi-celled people who had actually experienced the phenomenon of birth. (They were guilty of crimes, though, so I guess that makes it alright.) A "culture of life" indeed.

Many of these Christians don't regard the Constitution as the highest law of the land, anyway. To them, that law is the Bible, and so when Bush promises to deliver federal money to churches despite the Non-Establishment clause in the Constitution, they cheer, because that's what Jesus would do. Never mind that it violates the spirit of the Bill of Rights. It practically channels the Holy Spirit!

These crackpots think that the United States government has an obligation (not yet enumerated in the Constitution) to protect the "traditional family." This means things like demonizing homosexuality and making sure kids aren't exposed to nudity or harsh language. They'll bitch and moan to keep the IRS out of their churches, but they see no problem with the FCC policing what goes into your living room through your TV. Like I said, consistency is not their forte.

And who are these right-wing Christians anyway? To hear them tell it, they're the majority of Americans. 90% of the American people, they like to say, believe in God, which I'll grant, but that doesn't neccesarily mean that they believe in "Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior." In fact, I'd venture to say that, as a segment of society as a whole, the religious right is actually quite small and any claim on the "majority" is absolutely false.

Most likely, many of these fundamentalists are regular church-goers, which allows a certain suspectibility to groupthink and indoctrination. It's no coincidence that Jim Jones launched his cult of death in a church or the religious schools in the Middle East spit out suicide bombers like Pez candies. Churches, either explicitly or implicitly, encourage conformity and faith, but discourage dissent and doubt. Unfortunately, the intellect relies on all of the above.

Perhaps it's safe to say that most of the rank and file in the fundamentalist religious right today has read more of the "Left Behind" series than the Bible, and when they want religious insight, instead of cracking the Good Book, they'll pick up some Norman Vincent Peale or Dr. James Dobson puke bucket and start drinking. It's the comic book-ization of religion, where Jesus becomes an action hero and faith some kind of super-power, but it's not religion. It's a pop culture niche, and we should stop pretending that it's anything but. These strange beliefs simply do not represent the majority of Americans.

And by extension, neither does the Bush White House or the GOP establishment. They have betrayed the "small government" conservatives, duped the national security hawks, marginalized the fiscally responsible, ignored the civil libertarians, and abandoned the commitment to law and order. But they have pandered to big business and the nutbags in the religious right.

So my question is, unless you're a billionaire or a regular church goer, why are Republicans still loyal to George W. Bush?

Great Moments in Guitar Solos

I love Black Sabbath, but I'm not much of a fan of Ozzy's solo work, even the Randy Rhoads era. Not to take anything from Randy, Jake E. Lee, or his current axe-man Zakk Wylde, but you have to admit Ozzy's solo stuff is way too cartoony. Mr. Crowley? Crazytrain? Why does every album Ozzy put out have to have a "Mr." song, or a song with a train? (Mr. Tinkertrain from No More Tears got him a two-fer-one in that regard.)

But with that said, I do love Zakk Wylde's work, especially when he's playing with his own band, Black Label Society. A few months ago, I posted about Guitar World's 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time and was glad to see BLS in the count with their Mafia album. I don't think it's a classic album, but it does have its moments.

A little track called What's in You is one of them. The main riff's pulsating rhythm works into a headbanging sway, but the solo, oh man. It's all touch, delicate but incredibly bruising.

And just so you don't think Zakk Wylde has lost his marbles, he gives you a little chromatic shredding towards the end. If you've ever seen the man play, he makes it look easy, and it ain't easy.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fact of the Day

Did you know that over half of your fellow citizens suffer from a disease that can only be cured by the use of a tinfoil hat? No? Well now you do.

That's right, if you oppose President Bush and his policies, or if you dare to blog about them, you too may have this disease. Good luck finding the tinfoil though. These days it more likely to be aluminum.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Night Football - The Dallas Cowboy Meltdown Edition

Can I tell you how much I enjoyed watching Dallas lose to the Giants? Oh it was great. The safety. The interceptions. Bledsoe's humiliating benching. Romo's first hard lesson about the importance of passing lanes in the NFL. TO's dropped ball.

I wasn't cheering for the Giants. They have nothing I like anymore. Jeremy Shockey annoys me. Tom Coughlin is an asshole. Lawrence Taylor isn't on the field anymore. I mean, who cares?

But I did cheer for the Cowboys defeat. That was a sight to behold.

You Know He's Gay When...

...when the pattern on your shirt could have come from an old lady's handkerchief.

...when your "kids" are two Scottish terriers named Tinky and Winky.

...when your boyfriend is over forty and still has a haircut that would look "cute" on a nine year old boy.

Go ahead, make your own gay jokes.

I'm no homophobe, but the sad truth is that there is no way you can look at that pic and not know those two guys are gay. A short little video post over at the Jamoker's blog got me thinking about stereotypes and how often they are true. No where have I seen this more prevalent than in the gay community. You get a really good look at them during Pridefest, when all the stereotypes come out of their various closets for all to see.

A few years ago I remarked on all the butch lesbians I saw with mullets and jean shorts and the sleeves on their T-shirts rolled up. It was like a uniform. Of course, now the mullet is too well-known and you don't see too many of them anymore. Now it's more commong to see just a short cut, no party in the back, or sometimes even buzzed down to military regulations. But it's no less obvious.

Perhaps they don't need to tell people who they are, and instead prefer to telegraph it in other ways, such every other way.

When I was in school, I was always taught that stereotypes were bad. They pigeonholed people and often gave false impressions. In many ways, this is true. But in other ways, stereotypes are also premade identities not created out of thin air and ignorance, but instead by observation and very human tendencies. Stereotypes, like the ones I exploited in my gay jokes, exist because they contain just a kernel of truth, defining for just a moment nearly everyone in the world.

Because if you think about it, we all fit some stereotype.


I've been known to customize T-shirt using inkjet iron-on transfers. A man can have more useless hobbies, but this one's not so bad. Take a look at this Abby Gennet shirt I made. I guarentee this is the only one like it in the world.(Editor's note: Abby is the inspiration for a fictional character I created, and have been neglecting as of late, not to mention one sexy rock chick.)

In addition to Abbypalooza, I made a few other shirts.I loathe the Nuggets baby blue colors, but I like the Nuggets. So what do I have to do? Design my own shirt. The COC shirts were inspired by a recent burst of COC appreciation, and though the red one didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, the black sweatshirt is great. The back has this pic on it.

Stay the Course?

It's official. The Bush Administration thinks you're an idiot.

I love Hannah Storm's incredulous tone in this clip. Not only is she confused about the Orwellian "Black is White" denial of a "Stay the Course" strategy, but she seems astounded that Bartlett would even try it. I suppose if she came right out and called "bullshit" she would be fired, so that queer look in her eye and the bewildered tone is about all we get.

And John Kerry was the flip-flopper last go around? Hmmm. I guess War really is Peace and Ignorance really is Strength.

In other news, State Department Alberto Fernandez regrets...telling the truth. If you needed further proof that loyalty to the Bush Administration and message discipline are more important than...say, reality, this should close the case on that one. Someone should have told Fernandez that you should never admit mistakes. Admitting mistakes opens you up to accountability, and according to the Bushies, we already had our accountability moment. And as the Highlander will tell you, there can be only one.

Have you read Kevin Tillman's screed on his brother's legacy yet? If you haven't, you should. It's almost poetic. Someone should put it to music and call the song Somehow.
Somehow the more soldiers who die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
How long before Kevin Tillman is dismissed as a lefty moonbat?

He's Just Trying to Sell His Book

Why? Why, I ask you, must I torture myself by reading Instapundit? Didn't I swear to never read that blog again? Well, I need to get back on the wagon, man...

Glenn Reynolds gives me a headache. Take this jewel on Barack Obama here:
BARACK OBAMA is considering a run for the Presidency in 2008. Seems a bit early for him, but then I said that about Clinton in 1992.

Of course, this could all just be a clever plan to promote his new book, -- and if so, judging by the Amazon rank, it's working!
I've heard that kind of thing before, with Richard Clarke specifically. "Wah! He's just trying to sell his book."

Well, yeah. Glenn Reynolds promoted his book, too. Andrew Sullivan is doing the same with his as we speak. It's only natural that if you write a book, you want to promote it. No crime there.

But what gets me is that these criticisms mostly come from supposedly free-market enlightened thinkers like Reynolds, and it's always an implied dig, as if the message is somewhat diluted or unworthy by the capitalistic pursuit of book sales.

For one, you would think alleged free marketers wouldn't find anything wrong with participating in the "marketplace of ideas," and even trying to make some money from it. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? Or is the "just trying to sell his book" whack only reserved for lefties and doesn't apply to Fred Barnes, who all but gives the president a hummer in his latest, or Ann Coulter, who condemns the innocent victims of 9-11 for having a viewpoint different from hers?

Plus, Reynolds must know that publishing is not often to road to riches. JK Rowling may be a billionaire and Stephen King may have enough dough to buy the state of Maine outright, but those are rare and isolated cases. If Obama really wanted to get rich, he wouldn't write a book. He'd do what the Republicans have been doing: take bribes.