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Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Since I took a little hiatus from blogging this weekend and missed all the Random Friday Ten fun, I decided to give it my own little spin. In this case, a spin of the deftones new record. I popped the CD in, set my player to random, and this is the order it played in.

1) Riviere
2) Mein
3) Kimdracula
4) Cherry Waves
5) Combat
6) Beware
7) Pink Cellphone
8) U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Selct, Start
9) Rats!Rats!Rats!
10) Xerces

There's two other songs on the record, but I'll leave it at ten.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jesus Loves Gay People Too

This is a video of the big Colorado Springs pastor who has allegedly been seeing a male prostitute. He resigned his position in the church and presumably has gone into hiding with his lawyers. Before all that, though, he appeared in the movie Jesus Camp. I haven't seen the movie, but I'll probably Netflix it someday. These crazy Evangelical people fascinate me, although I do find them a bit scary.

As for what's his face...the only thing interesting about his story is the hypocrisy, which seems to be everywhere in the Christian right-wing these days. But then again, that's old news.

UPDATED
A few more thoughts about this clip...
"We've decided the Bible is the word of God. We don't have to have a general assembly about what we believe. It's written in the Bible."
That's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of dumb things in my day, let me tell ya.

This belief, that the Bible is the word of God, is the main reason why I can't be a Christian. I'm sorry. That's just retarded.

The Bible was written by a man, many men, as a matter of fact, and preserved through the generations only through the meticulous (but not always scrupulous) copying of very human scribes.

I can assure you that no American has ever read the Bible.

They have read a translation of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy, and so on, going back almost two thousand years.

Do you think that these Holy Rollers who believe so fervently that "the Bible" is the inerrant word of God actually have the stones to go back and try and read the earliest forms of the Bible? They'd have to learn a new language, Hebrew or Greek for the Septuagint. If they wanted to go back to the Vulgate, which came out in 381, over three hundred years after Jesus was to said to have lived, they would have to learn Latin.

I assure you, the Holy Roller church experience doesn't give a shit about the inerrancy of "the Word." If you tell them that the earliest gospel (Mark) was written some sixty years after Jesus died, they won't believe you.

If you tell them that Matthew and Luke are both embellished retellings of Mark, they're not going to believe you.

If you tell them that the first part of John that describes Jesus as the Logos was added later to help sell the story to Greek audiences, they're not going to know what you're talking about.

This is what they know. And that's all they want to know. That's what they believe, and they're sticking with it. Why? Because they were raised to believe that way. Because they're afraid to believe in something else, or even worse, nothing. Because they need "healing." Because they like the music and the lights and the show and pastor is funny.

But these people are misguided. It may feel good to believe in a higher power that cares about you, that has rules that are easy to follow, that has some excitement and flash. But sooner or later, reality will intervene.

That's not the tragedy of it, though. The tragedy is that it doesn't have to be this way. On an intellectual, spiritual, and moral level, the words of Jesus, or any other wise and articulate person, do have some use. Love your neighbor. Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone. (Which Jesus probably never said, by the way.) Et cetera. These are great ideas.

And there's no denying the power of the story, a heroic supernatural tragedy. (It'd make a great movie, someone says.) The imagery and the storyline have captivated the human race for two millenia, so let's just say Jesus is a keeper, alright?

Do we really have to believe all that other junk? I mean, some of us do have at least a modicum of intellectual integrity.

A Joke

Why should you vote Republican?

Because John Kerry says stupid shit.

A Tree and Some Tires

Last week, I got a letter from the city advising me that one of my trees was scheduled for destruction. It has seen better years, and last winter a heavy snowstorm knocked down one of the main branches (barely missing my car and landing half in my neighbors driveway), so this wasn't entirely unexpected.

However, I was expecting to have to pay for it, considering that the tree is on my property and presumably my responsibility. But as it turns out, it's a city tree and they'll be paying for the removal. Whew. I don't know how much it costs to remove a tree from a residential neighborhood, but I bet it's not cheap.

Here's where the large branch broke off. I probably should have sawed it down to a less ragged stump, but then again, I doubt that would have helped much. If it was a strong and healthy tree to begin with, this branch would have never fallen.


In other yard news, the tire fairy has struck again. Some benevolent soul donated another set of tires to the Great Garden Project. Little did they know that when they dumped their tires in the alley of some random house that they would find a welcome home and a second life as a water-preserving raised garden bed.

Considering the success I had last summer with my tire-accoutremented garden, these four babies will definitely find some use somewhere in the grand scheme of things. The only question at this point is what color do I paint them?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

TV Wall Follies

Invasion of the Door Kickers

Have you seen those lame Brinks Home Security Systems commercials? They usually show some young photogenic family engaged in some heart-warmingly banal activity, eating pizza or doing dishes for instance, when this familial bliss is interrupted when some devious figure runs up to the house and, for no particular reason, kicks the front door in and runs off. This is immediately followed by some dutiful Brinks employee calling the family to check on them.

Aside from the unintentional humor in these ads, the thing that gets me is that Brinks is trying to sell you an essentially useless product (since the police, at least in my town, don't respond to home security alarms) by using a nonexistant threat: the infamous doorkickers.

Now if you're being plagued by doorkickers, you might want to call the folks at Smith and Wesson, cuz Brinks ain't gonna help ya.

The Ladies of Cable News

I hate CNN, but I love Abbi Tatton and Jackie Schechner. If you click over to their official CNN bios, you'll probably think I'm nuts. But I assure you, they are a pair of little hotties. I bet all the Beltway Boys want a hook-up with CNN's cute internet reporters. I certainly do.

The Weather Channel has some hotties too. Stephanie Abrams, Alexandra Steele, Betty Davis. You girls make the weather interesting.

The Wit and Wisdom of Bill Maher

America...fuck yeah!

Geek Moment

I don't know who I like more.

Inara...



Or Kaylee?Zoe and River are hot in their own rights, but Zoe is married, and River...well, she's a little off.

Can't Stop the Sound

I signed the paperwork that makes me an official employee of the company I work for today. It was pretty easy. They just needed a few autographs, a photocopy of my ID, and some canceled checks for the direct deposit. Pretty reasonable, I'd say. They could have asked for a cup of my pee. That would have been bad.

I also got a raise. Now that was good.

Big Daddy, this one's for you. deftones clips.

Beware's thundering riffage.

A clip from Cherry Waves. And another one, same song, different verse.

And finally a clip from Kimdracula. Good stuff. Buy the record.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday Morning CD

It was a gorram ordeal, but I have in my sweaty little hands my 500th CD, the deftones much-awaited Saturday Night Wrist. Happy fucking Halloween.

And in case you didn't believe me, I'm not lying. 500 CDs, man.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Guilty

Some lives end suddenly, and some lives end very slowly, one day at a time, locked behind bars. This dude posed as a teenager, corrupting almost 20 kids, some of them fifty to a hundred times. I'm not making this up.

You can't make this up.

He's going away to prison, which actually might be a good fit for him, for a very long time. What dreams may he hold now? Joining the prison band? A cell with a view? His life is over.

It makes me think of a guy I helped convict a few years ago. It was a federal case, a criminal case, and out of curiosity and civic duty, I wanted to be on the jury. As luck would have it, I made it. The case: a prison shanking in the federal correction facility in Florence, CO (home of a SuperMax). Some dumb con went apeshit one day and attacked a couple of guards with a homemade ice pick. Both guards survived, one with a broken wrist, the other with puncture wounds on his head and arms.

The defendant represented himself, and yes, he had a fool for a client. His defense, and I kid you not, was that he was defending his freedom and he had some kind of Constitutional right, established by the Montana freemen or some shit like that. But they showed us the surveillance tapes, and his attack wasn't about freedom or justice or any of that bullshit. It was about him, stalking into the guard office, where the guys were standing around, drinking coffee and talking about the girls they wanted to bang, and kicking their asses. I doubt it crossed his mind that beating up some guards with his little shank (which they passed around, by the way) would end up with him, sitting in court on federal charges, two assaults on federal employees and one possession of contraband wrap, and on the jury, me.

After we heard both sides of the case, we retreated to the deliberation room. I volunteered to be foreman and no one objected. My opening speech was brief and to the point. "Look, we all saw the video. He admitted that he did it. So is he guilty? The answer is yes. Let's get a show of hands." All thirteen hands went up. A unanimous verdict.

We came back out to the jury box and as the foreman I had to do my part. Has the jury reached a verdict? So I stand, the only one in the room besides the bailiff that's standing. Yes, your honor. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.

Later I looked the guy up and he won't get out until 2036. That is, if he gets out at all.

A Sign of the Apocalypse

You know the world is about to end when the reviews say "Kevin Federline's debut CD not all that bad."

Here's more:
Tracks like “Privilege” are spot-on smooth, with K-Fed rhyming about the life he’s grown accustomed to — and the one he left behind. “I got Gucci on, she got Prada/ She calls me daddy but she’s not my daughter/ And I’m not her father I’m just a mack/ Got tired of the drugs so I switched to rap.”
I'm more of a rock guy than rap...but let me just say rhyming "mack" with "rap" is whack! You want rap? Listen to Wu-Tang. Put on some DMX.

Whatever you do, don't put on Mr. Britney Spears. Do I need to explain why?

Another Fragment - The Myth of Invinsibility Edition

Another fragment (yes, I’m cleaning out my bottom drawer, so to speak), this one from a project that’s still in the development phase.  The basic idea:  The Youth Gone Wild, and if any idea of mine qualifies as my Great American Novel idea, this is it.  Someday I’ll write the whole thing, but I’ve just been playing around with it for now.

In this scene, a few teenage girls do some shopping.
     It was a cute skirt, but only an idiot would pay $134.99 for it.  
     Megan, who only had a few bucks in her pockets that she was saving for a Mountain Dew and a Twix bar, walked between two racks of overpriced and understyled clothes and casually dropped the skirt she thought was so cute, letting out an overacted, “Oops,” and falling to one knee.  She scanned the store for unfavorable camera angles or witnesses, and finding none, used the special tool they used to unhook security tags that she had swiped from an unattended checkout counter last summer.  She was an expert by now and with a few swift motions, the tag came off easily.  She could have worked for Macy’s, she was that good, but instead she preferred to steal their clothes.
     She rolled the skirt into a ball, stuffing the wad into the pocket of her baggy pants and stood up.  Her eyes sought out Shelby, who was keeping watch in the shoes.  Shelby’s body language suggested she was perusing the selection, but in reality the only thing she wasn’t looking at were the rows of high heels in front of her.  
     Megan nodded at her and the two of them, separately, made their way to the doors.  Jasmine was already outside, her bag presumably stuffed with the panties Megan wanted.  If it wasn’t Megan was going to be pissed.  
     As she walked, Megan kept her head down, her eyes peeled.  She had her hands in her pockets, holding them out as far as she could to disguise the fact they were stuffed with lifted goods.  She knew she looked suspicious but the exit was only twenty feet away.  She felt that if she made it to the doors, she would be safe, and yet she was also vaguely aware that the store would consider that the moment she committed the crime.
     Shelby disappeared through the doors ahead of Megan and no one said anything.  A glint of panic rose in Megan as she realized she was on her own for the next few seconds.  Her friends had already made their escape, and if she was going to get caught, it would be now.  She quickened her pace.
     When her hand touched the cold steel of the door handle and she saw blue sky and black top through the glass, she grinned.  She did it.  She got away with it again.  Bitches!
     But then she heard a cry behind her.  “HEY!”
     Megan didn’t turn to see who it was, that was obvious.  She pushed through the doors and took off running.  And so did the security guard.  He barreled through the doors mere seconds after her and she heard his footsteps pounding after her.  
     She rounded the corner of the building, saw Jasmine and Shelby leaning against the wall laughing and sharing a cigarette.  They looked up to see Megan sprint by them, yelling something like, “He’s on me!”  She went by so fast it wasn’t clear what she said.  But then they saw the security guard.
     “Shit!” Jasmine said and she started to run, her heels clacking on the concrete, her wobbly legs making her look like a circus performer on stilts.  Shelby, who had the sense to wear sandals, didn’t run.  She stepped into the path of the security guard and stuck her foot out just enough to hook his ankle as he passed, sending him sprawling forward.
     It was enough time to allow Megan to give him the slip.  She zigzagged through the cars in the parking lot and hurled herself over the rail onto a grassy hill that led down to the street.  By the time she was across, the security guard had recovered enough to follow her to the grassy hill.  She ducked behind some bushes and watched him.   His forehead was scraped and he was winded, perhaps even angry.  He was saying something into his walkie talkie but what it was didn’t matter.
     She got away with it.  Again.

Great Moments in Guitar Solos

I was never a big fan of Rush. Oh, I like some of their songs, but I never paid much attention to them, mostly because Geddy Lee's voice annoys me. But the other day, while I was listening to Alice Cooper's radio show, I heard Working Man with, as they say, new ears. I didn't realize how awesome that song was, with its swinging rhythm and three minute guitar solo.

To which I cry, bring back 70s style epic guitar solos, dammit!

Check it out here. Masters at work.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another Fragment From an Unfinished Story

I don't even remember what I was trying to do with this one:

Ain’t much that goes down here at the Brookshire Hotel besides business meetings and power naps, so the staff has to keep their ears open for the latest gossip. The housecleaners are the worst. They know everything about the kind of folks that stay in the rooms because they’re the ones who have to pick up the messes. They can tell you who left a roach in the ashtray or a used condom still floating in the toilet. Some of them, especially the ones who work on my shift, think it’s their duty.

Outside smoking cigarettes is when they do it, and that’s where Nemesia tells me these crazy stories and rumors in her broken English accent, tapping Armando madly on the arm when she needs to translate one of her frantic thoughts. She’s the type of person who laughs after everything she says, even if what she said isn’t funny. The tendency was to laugh with her, but when you looked down at her and her rotten two front teeth you don’t want to laugh. You want to puke.

Armando is always at her side, at least on smoke break. I’m sure they had to separate to clean the rooms, but I worked the front desk so I couldn’t say for sure. They were both from the same part of Mexico, small towns in Guadalajara, but they were as complimentary to each other as shit and applesauce.

Armando’s in his early twenties, tall and lanky, with a shock of straight black hair combed straight back on his head. He’s not the best looking guy, with an eye that’s eternally cocked to one side and a face with the same texture as dried out pizza, but he was cool. I liked him. He’d been an American citizen since he was four but he’d never strayed far from the culture he was born in. He liked the Mexican cowboy look, with the black jeans, cowboy boots, colorful shirt, braided belt buckle. The boss wouldn’t let him wear the whole get-up on the job so Armando just wears the boots with his uniform.

Nemesia, though, she’s wetback to the core. She’s twice Armando’s age, more, old enough to be the kid’s grandma. Things like make-up and soap seemingly never touch her face and her hair stands out around her head in wiry salt and pepper tangles. When she smiles, her eyes crunch up in her wrinkles and her rotten teeth protrude from her mouth. It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen but at least I can take comfort in the fact that the rest of her teeth had already fallen out. And from the looks of them, they were on their way out anyway.

A Fragment From an Unfinished Story

     The landlord who was showing me the place made no attempt to hide its flaws.  “This is a bad neighborhood,” he said, pronouncing the word “is” like eese.  “Lotsa kids.  Teenagers.”  Then he grinned and nodded his head like that was all there was to be said on that subject.
     He wore a tan cowboy hat on his head and a tasteless green, red, and white button-up shirt on his back, both of them probably sold second hand.  The shirt was tucked into skin tight jeans that didn’t require the colorful beaded belt that held them up, but I suppose for him the belt was some kind of fashion statement.
     “But is very cheap,” he said.
     He had a point there.  The ad said it was five hundred a month, which was exactly the kind of deal I was looking for.  Apartments for that price were hard to come by, and this was a house, albeit a house in a bad neighborhood.  
     The landlord led me on a short walk-through, and though the place had seen better days, it was a bargain for five hundred a month.  The bedroom was big enough for my king size bed, and the spare room could be used as an office.  The carpet in the bedrooms was trampled and stained by overuse, but the rest of the house had smooth hardwood floors.  The tile in the kitchen was starting to crack, the grout having gone the way to dust over time.  I figured I could live with that for a while.  
     “What about a dog?  Can I have a dog?”
     The landlord nodded, his eyes twinkling vacantly.  “Sure, sure.”
     “Un perro?
     “Si.  And a cat and a horse and a pig.  Whatever you want.”  He laughed then, and I realized it was a joke.  He was making fun of me.
     “When can I move in?”
     “Tomorrow if you want.”
     I didn’t need to consider it for a moment but I did.  “Alright, sounds good to me.  Now what?”
     He grinned at me.  “First you sign, then you pay.”

Isn't It Ironic, Don't You Think?

Two very old facts.

On January 29, 2001 George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13199, which established a White House office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives "to establish policies, priorities, and objectives for the Federal Government's comprehensive effort to enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand the work of faith-based and other community organizations to the extent permitted by law."

On September 11, 2001 nineteen religious extremists hijacked four airplanes, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers, one into the Pentagon, and another in a Pennsylvania field.

The two events are comparable only in that they speak to the power of religion, either intended by its practioners to be a force of good (as in the misguided Faith Based Initiative) or a force of evil (as in the 9-11 attacks). In this complicated, diverse world we live in, one man's faith is another man's heresy, and codifying that faith, either in the confines of America's limited government or in Taliban-style overlordship, is a bad idea.

It's a gateway bad idea, and it leads to all kinds of other bad ideas, like witchburning (which used to be a particular Christian favorite) or terrorism (Islam's new flavor of the century). People shouldn't encourage their religious institutions. They should simply leave them alone to die, or evolve.