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Friday, April 23, 2010

Tebow in the First Round

Oh no! The Broncos drafted Tim Tebow! So now we got Kyle Orton, Brady Quin, and now Tim Tebow, but who's our running back again? And our receiving core? Who's going to catch our balls now that Sheffler is in Detroit and Marshall is in Miami?

I'm sure not sure what coach is doing, and worse, I'm not sure he knows either.

PS. It rained hard today. A couple of times. I didn't get any hail, but the tornado sirens went off a few times.

Tomorrow...same thing.
The chance of rain in Denver on Friday is 100 percent with wind gusts up to 23 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

This is what it looked like around 2:30PM today.
Not being the superstitious type, I don't think one has anything to do with the other, but you never know...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stuff You Don't Need For Stuff You Can't Do

If advertisers of "As Seen on TV" products were to be believed, modern life is a big inconvenience. Cutting vegetables, sorting your shoes, using electrical appliances, these things aren't luxuries an affluent society is lucky to have. They're burdensome chores that can be made easier by buying things.
Of course, the acting is extremely bad. But worse than that, seeing all these clips edited together makes you realize that most of these products would be useless in the hands of people with some basic skills.

Me, I can put my shoes on without throwing out my back and I don't need a product to help me. Cutting vegetables? It can be tedious, sure, but it's not particularly difficult. Maybe those kids shouldn't be pouring their own milk until they can pick up a full gallon, eh? Instead of buying the No Spill Paint Bucket, why don't you move your paintcan out of the way so you don't step in it? And really, is cracking an egg one of life's greatest tasks?

Not only are these commercials trying to sell you something you don't need, they're trying to sell you an idea: that you are not the problem, your stuff is. To "fix" the problem, you just have to get new stuff. Consumer products can compensate for your mediocrity. You don't need to learn how to make flawless brownies/hammer a nail/organize your shoes/use an ironing board. You just need this thing I'm trying to sell you.

Uh, no you don't.

Taina Asili y La Banda Rebelde

I saw this band play Tuesday night at a coffee shop in Capitol Hill and let me tell you, "Real America" couldn't handle it. They had a Free Mumia petition (which I didn't sign) and, as you can tell from this video, embrace the concept of multi-culturalism. The guitarist is some Italian guy who finger-picks his way through some flamenco rhythms. The drummer's an obese lesbian who grew up in Greece. They have an African guy from Uganda playing the bongos. I think the rest of them are Puerto Rican or Costa Rican or some kind of Rican.

And you know what? It's too bad, "Real America," because they were pretty fucking awesome.

Pomplamoose

I'm so out of it musically that I only heard about Pomplamoose last week. They make video-songs, sometimes of cover songs, and have two rules. No lipsyncing. If you hear it, you see it.

It's a pretty cool concept. Usually I'm impervious to the charms of indie music, but in this case, I must make an exception. I am thoroughly charmed.

Here's their version of Lady Gaga's Telephone. It's better than the original, I think.


And you gotta check this one out. Nataly Dawn does Michael Jackson.

Qwest Sells Out

I don't work for them anymore but I can't say I'm all that excited that Qwest is being bought out by CenturyTel. Qwest is -er,was- my phone company and ISP. I don't have much use for their phone product (Sprint takes care of my cell) but their fast DSL lines?

Love it. I recommend it instead of getting Comcast. I've never had Comcast, so I can't really do a comparison service-wise. Maybe a cable modem is much faster than my DSL line. Maybe.

But who cares? Comcast will sell your ass out.

Qwest is phone company, one of the only ones that told the NSA to get a warrant when they wanted to do their little warrantless wiretap thing. They're not in bed with content providers, some of whom have been made litigious by fears of piracy. They want you to move data over their lines. Oh, you want an even faster download speed? For an extra $9.99 a month, we can do it for you...

Comcast, on the other hand, has a symbiotic relationship with content providers, and in many cases, their priority isn't in securing a fast pipe upon which to bypass their programmers. Can I be assured that if the NSA wants to check my shit that Comcast will give them the middle finger? Not really. I suspect Comcast would open the books and say, "Well, whatdya wanna know?"

And, of course, this will no doubt lead to another round of job anxiety for the employees. I know when I was there, there was always the threat of being laid off looming just off-screen. Looking back on it, it's no way to run a business. Unless you're the genius who figured out how to profit from busy work and juiced numbers.

Hopefully, now that I'm a customer and not an employee, the transition will be seamless.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tea Party Express

The American Border Patrol went to Searchlight, Nevada back in March to take some copyrighted pictures of the big Tea Party thing they had out there. I got some of them in my e-mail box and I'd like to share them with you.

No, it's not Lollapalooza.  It's a Tea Party!
This guy had a message for the crowd. And they politely obliged him by walking around him. He may look angry, but he's not shouting. He's singing a stirring rendition of Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)."

Notice the American flag hung upside behind him. Hrrmmmmm...what kind of rally is this?
National Socialist health care...hey, wait a minute, it's a Nazi rally? Get me outta here!
Apparently, President Obama is taking over the Joker role in the next Batman movie. Hmm, haven't seen anything about it in the trades...
And now I'm really confused. This is an anti-Bozo the Clown rally? Hey, I liked Bozo the Clown...
I agree with the message on the sign, however, and would like to offer up 2006 and 2008 as fine examples as what it says.

These are some cool decals. I'm sure this reliable Republican voter would like to absolve himself of all responsibility for voting corrupt motherfuckers into Congress. As would we all.
Do not, I repeat, do not take this shirt literally. These women are also singing "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)," and are not, in fact, in the throes of orgasm.
This guy's standing on the wrong street corner. If that were me, the sign would read, "I have a job, but my family can't eat freedom and democracy in Iraq."

Ironically, my family can eat tax cuts.
Look! A black dude. See him? He's the one wearing the red bandanna. Trust me, that's a black dude.
And no, the guy behind the "Save Our Country" sign isn't Asian. He's a homeless guy with an April tan who wandered into the rally because he thought there'd be free food.

Lucky for him, this lady had some grapes in her fannypack.
This guy forgot to bring a few things. Lucky for the black dude in the bandanna, no one had any feathers or yard tools.
You might have seen the lady with the canary sign before.
Here she is in her natural habitat.

A Tale of Two Polls - 420 Edition

According to a recent survey Pew, 78% of Americans can't trust the government.
Only 22 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew say they can trust government in Washington "almost always or most of the time" -- among the lowest measures in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question.

And an increasing number -- almost 1 of every 3 people -- say they believe government is a major threat to their personal freedoms and want federal power reined in.
Contrast that with this poll from the AP and CNBC:
In the poll, only 33 percent favor [marijuana] legalization while 55 percent oppose it. People under 30 were the only age group favoring legalization (54 percent) and opposition increased with age, topping out at 73 percent of those 65 and older. Opposition also was prevalent among women, Republicans and those in rural and suburban areas.
Makes sense, don't it?

Can't trust the government...unless we're trusting them to prohibit marijuana.

The government's a major threat to personal freedom...except when we're talking about the personal freedom to smoke pot.

Want federal power reined in? Sure, but not when it comes to marijuana policy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Fragment of a Novel that Exists Only In this Fragment

So here's the deal. This is NOT part of a novel. When I thought of the headline, I liked it so much that I had to use it. This...this is a writerly booknerd like myself entertaining himself.

The premise to was this: "Homicide detective picks up private detective. Asks for help." I was just playing around, improvising. After getting this far, I thought I might actually turn it into a story. I even came up with one, seeing how this isn't really a story, but I decided, nah... No need to force it. I was just messing around.

Anyway, give it a read and let me know what you think in the comments. If impressions are favorable, maybe I will turn it into something beyond a "fragment of a novel that exists only in this fragment."


Untitled

Gaffigan only kept me waiting in the cold for five minutes. He pulled up in an unmarked police car, parked long enough to step out of the car and lean over the hood. “Hop in,” he said. His tone didn’t indicate that it was going to be a joyous reunion between old friends.

I got in the car.

Gaffigan floored it, turning up 17th and going ten miles over the speed limit. He didn’t say where we were heading. He didn’t say anything.

Neither did I.

We had turned off Broadway and onto Colfax before he spoke again.

“Does the name Stan Waters mean anything to you?”

At first thought, it didn’t register but the way Gaffigan dropped it on me made me wonder if it should. I decided to play dumb. I said, “The dude in Pink Floyd?”

“That’s Roger Waters. I’m talking about Stan Waters, ran for mayor of Aurora last year but lost to Al Tower.”

“Never heard of him.”

“Don’t you live in Aurora?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t vote last year and I don’t give a shit who’s mayor. Why should I care about Stan Waters?”

“He’s dead.”

“That’s too bad, but what’s that got to do with me?”

“Him being dead? Nothing. Stan Waters died last year, two weeks after the election. Heart attack, they said. He was out golfing, dropped dead right there on the fairway. You didn’t hear about any of this?”

“No,” I said, even though the story about the guy dying at the golf course was starting to ring some bells.

“It was a big deal for about a minute. Some crank on the radio seized on it and declared a conspiracy. Al Tower killed Stan Waters with a poisoned cheeseburger or something. It was all part of a plot by the Democrats and the Tower family and the ACLU and PETA to control city government and destroy the American way of life. You know, Rush Limbaugh times eleven. Never mind that it’s preposterous. I mean, why kill a guy two weeks after you beat him in an election? And kill him with a heart attack? Woah, that’s clever. It’s exactly the kind of cleverness that keeps four good detectives stuck on a special detail investigating whether this apparently natural death could have, may have hopefully in my wildest dreams, been a murder.”

Gaffigan was gritting his teeth and spitting his words out, getting more and more aggravated as he spoke, which made me think he was one of the “four good detectives” assigned to the detail.

He took a deep breath and looked at me sideways. “I find it hard to believe you didn’t hear anything about this.”

“I heard about the dead guy at the golf course. I didn’t know about all the political intrigue.”

Gaffigan laughed. “That’s the thing. There is no political intrigue. Just a dead guy on a golf course. Two weeks we spent knocking on doors, learning everything we could about the last days of Stan Waters. Six weeks we spent waiting for the lab work to come back. Toxicology came back clean, the medical report said coronary disease. Clogged arteries, the whole bit. It took two minutes to write the report. Stan Waters wasn’t murdered. He just died. But don’t tell that to the conspiracy theorists. They’ll insist on a cover-up” He rolled his eyes. “There’s always a cover-up.”

I said, “It’s an interesting story, Mike, but it’s not why you called me.”

“It’s related, but I’ll get to that in a minute. You know who engineered --that’s the word the radio guy used, engineered-- the cover-up of Stan Waters’s murder? A homicide detective from District One named Mike Gaffigan. That’s right, me. The guy who was working a gang shooting before he got a bullshit call. Not only did I waste weeks of valuable case time on a natural death, I then decided to cover-up an obvious murder, because I want a low clearance rate apparently, vindicating Al Tower in exchange for a top spot as an enforcer in the Tower crime family. Do you see how it all fits, Max? It’s a puzzle, put together one piece at a time.” This last bit came dripping with sarcasm.

“I agree,” I said. “It’s absurd. But I still don’t see what it has to do with me.”

“Not everything has to do with you, Max. Will you shut up and let me tell the story?”

I cracked the window and lit a smoke. “If you’re going to waste my time, then I might as well enjoy it. Tell your story. I’m going to smoke.”

“Thanks, Max,” Gaffigan said, waving a cloud of smoke away with his hand. “Thanks a lot. You know that’s against city regulations.”

“Well, I don’t work for the city anymore. You want one too? I won’t tell.”

“No, I want to tell you about this radio clown. The one that made a beef about Stan Waters getting whacked.”

“Who was it?”

“Ah, now he’s interested,” Gaffigan said to an invisible audience in the backseat. “You ever hear of a guy named Terry Roth?”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of him. Can’t say I’ve heard him. He’s a right-wing asshole and I’m more of an FM guy.”

“It’s not my thing either, but he does have his listeners. There’s not many of them, but they’re real activist types. Letter-writing campaigns, protests on the Capitol steps, you name it. He speaks, they move. It’s not quite mind control, but you wouldn’t know it from the results.”

“You’re talking about the Boulder school board thing.”

Gaffigan looked at me sideways. “You’re not as dumb as you look, Max. You know about the school board thing?”

“A lot of people do,” I said. “It was in the news.”

And it was quite the big deal for a while, the story of how a high school history class turned into a roundtable on abortion, during which the teacher confessed to an abortion of her own.

Students told their parents. Their parents called into Terry Roth’s show. Terry Roth talked about it for weeks.

The school board was asked to fire the teacher, which for a variety of reasons was technically impossible. Letters were written. There were protests on the Capitol steps. But like most matters political and petty, things ground themselves out and nothing really happened.

Until election day. When the last vote was tallied, every single incumbent school board member had been voted out and replaced with someone more amenable to the Terry Roth position. In other words, the baby-killing hippie should be nowhere near the good children of Boulder. The new boardmembers didn’t force the teacher out, but she had seen the writing on the wall and resigned soon after.

Now the school board was talking about adding Intelligent Design to the biology curriculum.

Terry Roth no doubt approved.

“So you know what I mean when I say this Roth guy is influential,” Gaffigan said.

I nodded. “Influential enough to get you detailed on some goosechase case.”

“Every case is a goosechase, but yeah.”

“So is that why you called me? To vent about this Terry Roth guy ruining your life?”

“No. Well, kinda.”

We were stopped in traffic at the corner of Colfax and Colorado. I still had no idea where we were going or how long I would be. If Gaffigan needed a favor or had some sidework to hand out, I couldn’t see the angle. The Stan Waters case was solved and Terry Roth was just some guy on the radio.

I prodded him. “So?”

He exhaled a breath he had been holding for a while. “Terry Roth is dead. And this isn’t some Stan Waters boondoggle, Max. It’s the real thing, a stone whodunit. We found him shot to death in his basement, three shots from a handgun, two to the chest, one to the head, fired close range. You know, a very efficient, non-accidental way to kill someone. No witnesses, no sign of forced entry. It’s all in the file.”

He nodded over his shoulder to the back seat, where a thick pile of papers sat bursting out of a stretched manila folder.

“Ah, paperwork,” I sighed. “I don’t miss it.”

“I’m already working a few leads, and my partner is chasing down some others. I’ve got a hunch I want to explore, but so far, I’ve got no official reason to do it. That’s where you come in.”

“You want me to work your hunch on an open murder case?”

Gaffigan thought about it. “Well, yeah.”

“That’s not my normal line of work, Mike. Me and the cops, with few rare exceptions, just don’t get along. And a PI working a side investigation on a murder? How’s that going to look in court?”

“Anything you dig up, I’ll put in the due diligence to make sure it holds up in court. I’m not asking you to solve this case, Max.”

“Then what are you asking?”

“The teacher. I want you to go talk to the teacher, see what she knows. She’s not a suspect, or even someone who’s on our radar. Yet. But she’s someone I’ve been thinking about for a while now. We have something in common, me and her. Terry Roth tried to destroy us both, but with her, he succeeded. I know I didn’t feel any pangs of conscience when I heard he was dead, so I wonder how she took it.”

“You want me to find out how she feels?”

“Well, you know what I mean. Give her a sniff, see if you smell anything funny.”

“And if she’s all roses?”

“Then my hunches stink.”

I grabbed the small notebook from my jacket pocket and popped the cap off my pen. “What’s her name?”

“Contessa Wood. Goes by Connie in the phone book. Gilpin, I think is the street. Gilpin Drive.”

“Description?”

“White, fifties, don’t know the rest.”

I closed my notebook with a sigh. Gaffigan was going to make me do this the hard way. “You’re some cop,” I said.

“She’s not an official suspect, so I haven’t pulled her tag. I can show you a news clipping with her picture. Would that make you happy?”

“Every little bit helps. So what are you thinking, execution for hire? Two shots to the chest, one to the head is pretty sharp. No way you’re getting out of that one. I’m not sure a white English teacher in her fifties would have the necessary skills to pull that off.”

Gaffigan frowned. “I know.”

“So what makes you so hot for teacher? It’s not like you have any evidence of a conspiracy.”

Gaffigan’s frown tilted a bit, slowly becoming a grin and then after a while, a full-toothed smile. He said, “It’s the hunch, Max. Can’t ignore the hunch.”

“Yeah, sounds thin to me.”

“It is,” Gaffigan admitted. “But I want you to check it out for me anyway. I’m not going to have time. I’ve got a list a mile long of every crazed listener and angry lefty who ever called into Terry Roth’s Show. And then there’s his family and friends. His sister is supposed to call me after she gets off work. I’m meeting the ex-wife at three. I need your help, man."

Fin
So?  What'd you think?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Aggravated

When I woke up this morning tonight, I wasn't in a bad mood. But then I get to work and get slammed. Whatever, all in a day's work, right?

But then that tech...that lazy bastard tech...has called me five times on one issue. Five times!

So aggravating, man. We've got field techs in almost every state of the union. Some of the larger states have more than one.

But there's only one who is so helpless that he can't do his job unless he hears me breathing on the other line. And I hate that fucker.