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Saturday, February 06, 2010

People of the Neighborhood

This old fella lives in my neighborhood.  I usually see him on his bike, snow or no, but the other day I ran into him outside the car wash.

I gave him a cigarette and he let me take his picture.

A Recipe

Bomb Diggity Chili

Ingredients

1 can of dark red kidney beans
1 can of white kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans
1 can of red beans
2 cans of diced tomatoes and jalapenos
1 onion
1 cube of tomato/chicken bouillon
About 4 cups of hot water
Chile powder to taste (I use about a teaspoon each of cayenne and chile with limon flavor)
1 pound ground pork

Directions:

Drain and wash the beans. Don't use that gloop they come in. It's gross. You can use dry beans if you want, but you have to wash and sort them, soak them overnight in distilled water, and maybe, just maybe, they might even be edible.

Better to just use canned beans.

Heat the water in a teapot. Dissolve the bouillon cube in a separate bowl. Add the chili powder and stir to taste. Set the broth aside.

Brown the pork in a skillet. You can use beef if you want, but pork is what makes it the Bomb Diggity. The finer you crumble it, the better. Do NOT drain.

Combine in a pot the beans, the tomatoes and jalapenos, the ground pork, and the broth. Add the onion.

Let simmer for about 30 minutes to ????

Don't Piss Down My Back and Say it's Raining

I read this piece by Gerard Alexander cleverly called "Why Are Liberals so Condescending?" and then I looked for the companion piece called "Why are Conservatives So Fucking Dumb?"

Because if you really want to know why liberals are so condescending, you must first investigate why conservatives are so dumb.

I loved this from Alexander, though:
But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.
Oh the humanity! Liberals think they're right?

So?

Show me a conservative that doesn't think "their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while liberal positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and socialist!"

Conservatives think they're right too! Start the investigation!

But there's more:
This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government -- and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.
Translation: These "impoverished American debates" are all your fault!

Um, those of us in the real world recognize there's more than enough blame to go around, left and right. But there I go again, being "condescending" with all this "real world" talk.

But wait, there's more:
Liberals have dismissed conservative thinking for decades...
Unlike conservatives, who have spent the last few decades embracing liberal thinking.

Even more:
This worldview was on display in the popular liberal reaction to the Supreme Court's recent ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Rather than engage in a discussion about the complexities of free speech in politics, liberals have largely argued that the decision will "open the floodgates for special interests" to influence American elections, as the president warned in his State of the Union address. In other words, it was all part of the conspiracy to support conservative candidates for their nefarious, self-serving ends.
Say what? Let me see if I have this right:

The liberal refusal to "engage in a discussion about the complexities of free speech in politics" is condescending, but the refusal for conservatives to engage in a discussion about corporate influence in politics is a-okay!

Pull the plank out of your own eye, bud.

I love this part, though:
But, if conservative leaders are crass manipulators, then the rank-and-file Americans who support them must be manipulated at best, or stupid at worst.
Um, well maybe you have a different explanation for that idiot tea-bagger famously yipping about keeping the government out of their Medicare.

And hey, listen, I know many rank-and-file conservatives. They are, to a man, good people. But they are not immune to being manipulated or saying/doing stupid shit simply because they're conservatives. Indeed, they are as susceptible to manipulation and stupidity as anyone else, including us liberals.

See "Iraq, WMD in."

This Should Make the Tea Partiers Happy

But it's probably further proof of Obama's radical leftist agenda.

So Radical Leftist....that Even the Radical Leftists Don't Like Him

Not to pick on Tom Tancredo too much, but in his Tea Party Convention speech, he called Obama "a committed socialist ideologue." Others have called him a radical leftist, a communist sympathizer, the African Hitler/Stalin/Chairman Mao. (Why is it that you never hear Obama compared to Idi Amin? As metaphors go, Amin seems to hit all the right notes. I mean, he's African...Muslim...Socialist...a dictator that came to power in a totalitarian takeover. You know, just like Obama!)

But here's the truth.

Obama is a liberal, it's true, but he's no crazy lefty. Progressives don't seem to like him that much precisely because he's not progressive or crazy lefty enough for them.

I don't have a Zogby poll to back me up, but I do have some anecdotal evidence.

It's amusing to me that right-wingers have spent so much energy portraying Obama as (literally) the Anti-Christ of radical lefties, and the radical lefties are crying about how he's not as radical or lefty as they had hoped.

Tom Tancredo is a Brilliant Man

This might get me kicked out of the Communist party, but I fully endorse Tom Tancredo's idea to bring back "a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country."

I suspect this will ensure that the Republican base is never able to vote again.

But listen to him whine about losing the last election:
"People who could not spell the word vote or say it in English put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House - name is Barack Hussein Obama," he said, Fox News reports.
I tried to find a transcript of the whole speech instead of just the summary, but I'm having no luck. I did, however, find this from his page at the Tea Party Convention website:
The grandson of Italian Immigrants, Tancredo was born and raised in Denver Colorado. He married his wife Jackie in 1977.
No word on whether his Italian grandparents could spell the word vote or say it in English. My guess?

Like most immigrants, the Tancredo family probably immigrated first...integrated later.

It's even possible they considered themselves "Italians living in America" rather than "Americans of Italian heritage," or some strange hybrid of the two. (I seriously doubt they were as anti-immigrant as their grandson. Not only that, but I bet you that they probably even lived in Denver's Italian immigrant community for a while. They might have even festooned their Model T with an Italian flag on Columbus Day and cruised up and down Federal Boulevard playing accordion music at full volume.*)

But hey, why hit the anti-immigrant ideologue with his immigrant roots? That's too easy.

Let's go to the substance of Tancredo's remarks.

"The revolution has come. It was led by the cult of multiculturalism aided by leftist liberals all over who don't have the same ideas about America as we do."
I really wish these Tea Party people would stop thinking of themselves as revolutionaries ready to relive 1776 all over again. "The revolution has come?"

I mean, I get the yearning to be as righteous and rebellious as the Founding Fathers, but these Tea Party guys aren't crying about "Taxation without Representation." They're crying about taxation period. They're not crying about being subject to a monarch in a far-off land. They're crying about losing an election.

And let's face it. You can put on a wig and march around while the fife and drum plays Yankee Doodle Dandy, but that doesn't make you Thomas Jefferson.




* For non-Denverites, Federal Boulevard is one of Denver's main north-south roads. On Cinco De Mayo, it's bumper to bumper with cars draped with the Mexican flag. It makes the white people nervous.

Friday, February 05, 2010

High Five: Super Bowl

This is the most appropriate High Five video ever.
I think these guys are comic geniuses.

Stress

I've had shittier days, but it's been awhile. I thought it would make me feel better to rant, but it won't. So I'll spare you the complaints.

Some highlights:

Since my truck was (still!) in the shop, I had to walk to the bus stop again. My commute this morning took 2 hours. On the way home? An hour and a half.

Now this may reveal me to be an unreasonable man, but that is BULLSHIT. Three and a half hours a day spent on a bus or a train or walking to and from a bus and a train?

If I had this whole year over to do again, I would have just DROVE THE WHOLE TIME. Take it from me, doing the right thing does not pay. If I got caught driving without a license, I would have spent 5 days in jail, a thousand bucks in fines. As it is, I've spent more than 5 days (cumulatively) on the bus, and a thousand bucks in bus fare.

I'm not saving myself anything. Time-wise, I'd be better off in jail. Money-wise, I'd be better off paying the fine. I'm not getting a pat on the back by not driving on my suspended license. I'm just dealing with a big fucking hassle and I'm sick of it.

And the worst part? I'm not even riding my bike very much. I don't take it on the train or the bus with me anymore. Too much hassle with a heavy coat and the 5 o'clock crowd.

Three days of sitting lonely at the train station my bike this morning had a flat tire.

So I guess I'm hoofing it, I think. A mile up one hill and down another. No biggie. I got my iPod, an audio book read by Will Patton, and I'm good. Just a happy morning walk after riding two trains and a bus.

But then I see the "Call N Ride" bus sitting there. In theory, a nice service. But when you call, they never answer. And they never call you back.

And as I learned today, you're better off just walking anyway. Unless you want to go all the way up there to drop these two ladies off, and over here for this guy, sitting at all the red lights, a complete waste of time.

And then I had to work for the next ten hours. I had this one issue that would not go away. There's a theater in South Carolina today that did not play any of its advertisements, and it's my fault! Do you realize what this means? I'm causing ripples in the economic-industrial continuum! The power I wield, and not to use it wisely...

Now that's gonna stress a guy out.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Damn You, James Ellroy

I've been reading your massive novel American Tabloid for months now. Sometimes I'll devour a huge chunk of it, and sometimes I'll set it aside and take it in little sips. But I can't put it down. I don't want to put it down.

And when I'm done, I want to dive head first into the sequel, The Cold Six Thousand.

But you're killing me, man. You're killing me.

Dig the stripped down prose. So taut you could hang laundry on it. Dig the lingo, colorful splashes of language on every page. Dig the density, dozens of characters, hundreds of plot threads, thousands of details. Dig how real it feels on the surface and how absurd it seems when you step away from it.

You did that on purpose, Ellroy. I don't think that's an accident. I think that's a master at work.

Dig this passage:

Howard Hughes got his dope from a nigger drag queen named Peaches. Pete found the drop pad cleaned out--the queen next door said Peaches went up on a sodomy bounce.

Pete improvised.

He drove to a supermarket, bough a box of Rice Krispies and pinned the toy badge inside to his shirt front. He called Karen Hiltscher at R&I and glommed some prime information: the fry cook at Scrivner's Drive-in sold goofballs and might be extortable. She described him: white, skinny, acne scars and Nazi tattoos.

Pete drove to Scrivner's. The kitchen door was open; the geek was at the deep fryer, dipping spuds.

The geek saw him.

The geek said, "That badge is a fake."

The geek looked at the freezer--a sure sign that he stored his shit there.

Pete said, "How do you want to do this?"

The geek pulled a knife. Pete kicked him in the balls and deep-fried his knife hand. Six seconds only--pill heists didn't rate total mayhem.

The geek screamed. Street noise leveled out the sound. Pete shoved a sandwich in his mouth to muzzle him.

His dope stash was in the freezer next to the ice cream.
And it goes on like this for almost six hundred pages?

I ask you, Ellroy, how do you expect me to read another book again? I've tried, oh, how I've tried. I started reading one book and it went on for pages and pages, a guy walking down the street, but you learned everything you need to know about his family, his job, his life, everything, but the only thing happening is some writer injecting a bunch of exposition into a guy walking down the street.

A lesser writer might take a whole chapter to write this scene, showing us in the checkout counter at the supermarket, dialing Karen Hiltscher and going with some back and forth dialogue, maybe even a nifty description of the interior decoration at Scrivner's Drive-in.

But you, Ellroy, you just dispense with all of that. You tell us what we need to know, and you skip the bullshit.

And even then, your book is gargantuan. 100 chapters, over five hundred pages. Three main characters, cameos by the Kennedy brothers, J. Edgar Hoover, Jimmy Hoffa, Howard Hughes, mafia bosses and CIA toads. I don't even want to count the plots and subplots and schemes and schemes within schemes. The character arcs? Dazzling. The way they're portrayed? Brilliant.

It's like you crammed ten books into one, squeezed out all the unnecessary trifles and just gave us the holy anointing oil version of a story.

And I'm supposed to go back to reading books by lesser authors? Yeah, right.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mayberry GOP

Colorado Springs is a great town, but they've got a big problem. In a word, you might say it's conservatism, but that's not exactly true.

If the "conservative" people of Colorado Springs were actually conservative instead of mindless right wing robots who outsource their thinking to talk radio, they wouldn't have these problems:
More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops — dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

City recreation centers, indoor and outdoor pools, and a handful of museums will close for good March 31 unless they find private funding to stay open. Buses no longer run on evenings and weekends. The city won't pay for any street paving, relying instead on a regional authority that can meet only about 10 percent of the need.
Sounds like paradise, huh?