Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The day I understood Bruce Springsteen

One time on a road trip to Michigan my family and took a detour off of the interstate and drove for a few hours through the center of Ohio. We ended up driving through a mid-sized town whose name I forget. I do remember there was a nice sized river cutting through the town with a few steel bridges crossing it. It was one of those rivers with steep banks that offers cover for parties. In the middle of this town was a high school that looked big enough to allow all the of the kids from the town to attend. Across the street there was a large plant of some kind that probably employed a majority of the town. It was late spring and I noticed that someone had spray painted "forever young" on the side of the school. It was like getting hit with a brick.
A helpful hint for Ann Coulter

Remember how I trashed Ann Coulter's response to the Clinton book she didn't read? Here is an example of how a true journalist responds to a request as to why he hadn't reviewed a movie yet: "I've been out of the country for the better part of the last two weeks. And I simply haven't had a chance to see it yet. Thus, my comments or thoughts on it would seem of vanishing little significance. I plan to see it soon."
Assert your girliness

I guess since she drove a giant SUV she needed that big-eyed little girl sticker in the back window of her vehicle.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Poor bastards

This happened to me back in the Gulf War. It sucks. Six months after I got out of the Marines they called me back. Luckily those they called back were not needed and we just hung out in California for a few months and got paid for it. When I first enlisted I was informed that there was a four year inactive reserve obligation I would have to honor. Of course I was told it would only be activated for an emergency. To beat a dead horse, George Bush's ill planning hardly constitutes an emergency.

Monday, June 28, 2004

That radical America-hatin' Michael Moore movie

First thing I noticed was that this movie is not all that radical. I didn't hear anything that I hadn't read before expect for the amount of money supposedly invested in our prez and our nation by the mideast (I am too ignorant of such matters to know whether or not Moore is exaggerating). Although it has more punch when combined with video of those involved. I guess that has always been the true power of the film format. The truth hits much harder in a darkened theater than half-truths presented to you on the tube by Fox "news."

A few impressions of the movie:

I didn't think it so much trashed Bush as it showed how our system allowed such a person to even enter the Whitehouse. It was a friendly shake of the audience. It was Moore saying "look what happened. Look what we allowed to happen. We let this happen and it's wrong."

There is a scene of raw news footage of an Iraqi women is in obvious mental agony over the bombing death of members of her family. She is crying out to god for mercy and justice. You can hear her say "allah" but the subtitle says "god." As an atheist I see no difference in the two terms. It was a nice subtle touch. Remember, Christians, allah is god; their mythology is merely different.

It included shots of mangled American soldiers. I think that's important, there are always more injured than dead in a combat zone.

The juxtaposition of the American mother grieving for her dead son and the failed attempt by the president to appear saddened by combat deaths.

There is a point where Michael Moore is trying to convince congressman to send their children into the army. One of them gives him the "what are you fucking crazy look" and it brought out the biggest laugh of the movie.

It had an amazing use of the theme song of "Greatest American Hero."

Our use of the lower class as our military and this betrayal of them reminded me of a comic book I read a long time ago. This comic was about futuristic military situations and one of them featured a "war world." Nations sent their armies to this world to fight wars and whoever won on "war world" could claim victory on earth. Naturally these wars were broadcast to earth as entertainment. Eventually the armies revolted and announced to the comfortable rich on earth that "we are coming to get you."
A Python writes out torture

This is great
Bush in his undies

Filmed in Ireland:

Now, that's comedy.

OK, I don't trash Ann Coulter too much in my blog. It's too easy but just for shits and giggles I just checked her webpage hoping to find some distortion of the Farenheit 9/11 movie. Instead I found a column that spends a lot of time trashing Bill Clinton's new book. I have read Kakutani's scathing review and McMurtry's positive review and if according to this quote "From what I've heard, roughly half of Clinton's memoir -- hundreds and hundreds of pages -- is about every picayune detail of his life before becoming president" Coulter hasn't read the book at all yet she still criticizes it. Hey, baby, how about a little journalistic responsibility? You know people are going to read this column and quote it. If you are going to speak from such an assumed position of authority you'd think you might read the fucking book. By the way, she only let's us know that she is telling us second-hand information in paragraph 11 of a 13 paragraph essay. Also, since she is only concerned with character assassination, she mentions his affair at least twice; most tellingly in the last sentance just so you don't forget he's an adulterer which is the only point of this sorry-ass diatribe.

And here is how to be honest about a column about a book you haven't read, dipstick. Name your source and 'splain to us why we should respect his facts you portray as your own through 80.77% of your column. Example: The review by McMurtry, a reviewer who's opinion on a book I have followed successfuly once before and is the recipient of a Pulitzer prize, claims that the book is quite a fetching read and may have historical relevency. You may not respect the opinion of McMurtry but he is named and I tell you immediately that I have not read the book and therefore cannot express an opinion of it. This woman makes her living as a writer?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

It's the little things

Friday I went to Target to buy a clock and an air popcorn popper. My roommate and I just got rid of our basic cable since cable combined with the cable modem was too dang expensive and what used to be tv time is now taken up by the ole Xbox. After ditching the cable we had to give back the cable box. The cable box had a digital clock and that was THE clock in the our home. Hell, it self-adjusted for daylight savings time. So THE clock is gone and the last couple of weeks have been confusing. I mean, what time is it, really? Every household needs its alpha clock and ours was gone. That's why I bought a battery operated wall clock at Target. It's cheap but probably functional.

Several years ago at a yard sale I bought an air popcorn popper for three bucks. The reason I bought it was that you could not find microwave popcorn that didn't have salt or butter added. It worked for about six months then the plastic cover got too brittle and started falling apart. I repaired it with duct tape and for another six months it held on until too much of the top started breaking off and only the tape was holding it together. After that I started finding plain microwave popcorn at the Harris Teeter. I bought that for a while and then it disappeared. I guess I was the only one buying it. For a while now I have been buying the less-conditioned popcorn I could find. Thursday night I tried to make some popcorn in the old popper. I guess I had forgotten how screwed up the popper was. It was a mess but I was able to make a little bit but ended up popping a few bags of some of Wendell's boyscout popcorn. It's not made of real boyscouts but is manufactured by third world boyscouts in sweat shops. So, boom! I bought an air popper along with a clock.

As a bachelor, I don't buy a lot of housewares. If I got a spare forty bucks I am going to buy a CD, DVD, video game or a book. When I do buy something practical and inexpensive like a clock it feels proper. Shit, it felt so right that I almost bought some nice drinking glasses.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Stupid things humans do

Ever send someone an email and they respond to it and you read the response and respond to the response and then talk to them on the phone a little later and say to them, "Did you get my email concerning x?" Yeah, I did that tonight. We are all such douche bags.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

A top ten list

The top ten stupid things I did in the Marines

10) Drove drunk in a foreign country (several occurences)
9) Told a drill instructor I wasn't ignorant not knowing that ignorant didn't mean dumb.
8) Rode my bicycle to a club in Okinawa then fell asleep on the sidewalk coming back.
7) Told a girl I missed her when I really just wanted to get laid.
6) Took acid on a beach in San Diego.
5) Lost the telephone number for a girl I met Tokyo.
4) Threw water-filled condoms from the tenth floor of a hotel in Mexico.
3) Forgot to bring the correct equipment in the field in Honduras (had to take notes in the cover of a paperback instead of the required notepad)
2) Used a flash on my point-and-shoot camera while hiding from infantry in Honduras. (The attackers saw the flash and closed in)
1) Let loose a nasty fart right before a Colonel approached our position. (The captain with us said to me, "McDonald, did you just shit all over the Colonel?" I may never have laughed so hard in my life. Thank god the Colonel was laughing also.)

Monday, June 21, 2004

On the Stoop

I live in an apartment complex with red brick buildings thrown haphazardly into a triangular plot of land. Viewed from above I can only imagine that our buildings must look like abandoned toy blocks.

While taking the garbage to the dumpster last night I saw that one of my neighbors was sitting on the front stoop having a beer while chatting with a guy from the building across the parking lot. Scott was having a beer and his visitor was having some orange-flavored alcohol drink that comes in a can. I spend too much time cooped up inside so I hung out with them for a few minutes and talked NASCAR and video games with the guys for a few minutes. I even ran back to my place and grabbed a beer so I could fit in better. It was kinda nice, it had a nice Brooklyn-in-the-1950's vibe too it. Scott and I even made plans to get drunk and watch the Bristol night race in August. Can't wait for that. After about half an hour I went back inside and hung out until Chris came by to play video golf.

Yee Doggy!

Today during my dinner break I moseyed over to Borders and bought the brand new book of poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Who not only is an awesome poet but has one of the coolest names ever. It's called "Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande." It's mine and you can't have it. Although I will read passages to you over the phone if you really want to experience it.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Road Trip

On Wednsday I took a trip to Durham with a friend of mine to visit Lee and to see the Decemberists at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.

When I got my friend's house my car wouldn't start. It appeared to have a dead battery but when we tried to jump it all it did was turn over. We pushed it into a parking spot and, with the jumper cables disconnected, I tried to start it one more time. It started right up. We decided to take his car instead. He thinks I may have an electrical problem. My radio is connected directly to the battery and the radio has a short in it. I think that may be the problem. I haven't been playing the radio since I had the problem and I have had no problems at all since then. I think that may be the problem. More correctly, I hope that is what the problem was/is.

We arrived in Durham before Lee got off work. We decided to walk across the street and visit the Duke Museum of Art. It was closed for rennovation. Then we got caught in the rain after visiting a book store.

When Lee got home, I showered, Brigham and Lee had a few beers and we headed off to the club. 2/3 of the way there I realized I had forgotten Lee's and my tickets. Brigham wasn't able to print his Etix ticket at his home but he did write down the barcode number. I had to write down my name and email address and hand it too the stressed-out doorman. After a twenty minute wait we got in halfway through the second band's set. No problem, we weren't there to see them anyway.

The club was hot, hot, hot, hot. Way too fucking hot. It was unbelievable. I thought maybe I was just old and fat but after the first song the Decemberists' lead singer, Colin, commented on how hot it was. A few songs later he mentioned it again. Testify, I thought. Jesus, it was hot in there. Water didn't even help that much.

The Decemberists were a lot of fun. They were very playful and even played a new song they were working on. At one point every member that had an instrument he could lift tried to play behind their back. Even the accordion player attempted it. She didn't succeed but Colin did give her props for merely attempting the feat.

Their presentation reminded me a lot of the Flaming Lips in that it wasn'ta rock show but more of a get together or a party. The show had more of a 'let's have fun' vibe rather than a "I'm a rock star, dig what I do" thing. I like bands that present their music in that way.

Just in case James was wondering, yes, they did play The Tain. The whole thing. Man, that was cool. Also, an acoustic version of "Your Red Right Ankle" was very sweet. "Chimbley Sweep" was also a nice highlight.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Urge to kill...rising

Last night I was asleep around one-ish. I had set my alarm to wake me up around 9:30ish. The Hispanic lawn workers came roaring through about 8ish. Son of a bitch. I am going to Wal-Mart after work to buy a gun. The next time this happens I am going to kill somebody. I mean, do they need to run a leaf blower right outside my bedroom window at 8 am?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Comic convention

Today I went to the Heroes comic book convention at the Charlotte convention center. I hadn't been there for about ten years and it was a lot of fun. I got to finger some comics, check out some cool toys, buy a few comics, people watch and take pictures of Klingon chicks. Holy moly! Klingon chicks! That's half the reason I went. My day would have been empty if there hadn't been Klingon chicks, man.

I even bought a short four page adaption of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky by my afternoon crush, Angi Shearstone. I tried to make small talk but ended up sounding like a dope. Ah well, she smiled once or twice.

I hadn't been to a convention of any kind in a while and I had forgotten how nice it is to mingle around with people who enjoy what you enjoy. Almost every single operator of a booth was as willing to talk to you as sell to you.

I was a little surprised by how many bootleg DVD's were for sale. I must say though that almost all of what was for sale were unavailable legitimately. There were no Lord of the Rings bootlegs for sale. No one there wanted a bootleg Lord of the Ring when the high quality official release was available. For example, I bought a Thundarr the Barbarian DVD only because I have been unable to find one anywhere else. You may say that I was thrilled to shell out too much dough for an inferior copy of a cartoon I hadn't seen in over ten years. It makes me wonder if people from companies that own the rights to this stuff attend conventions like these to see what people want. They'd be foolish not to.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Music, music, music

Last night Wendell and I went to the Evening Muse to see Deanna Lynn. First off, let me say that Wendell loves Deanna Lynn. It takes a pretty special musician to cause Wendell to walk away from a club with his hands in the air like he just hit a game-winning home run and that's what he was doing last night. The new kid from work, Melanie was there with her beau Jeremy. They had been wanting to check out the Evening Muse and I had talked up Deanna and they came out. They seemed to really dig Deanna and were impressed by the club. So that was cool.

Wendell and I hung out outside with M&J for a while and talked to whoever came moseying out. Every time I go to the Muse there are always nice and interesting people milling around outside between sets to converse with. Escpecially cute and charming was a young lady who sang backup on two songs with Deanna. She was really gassed that here pariticipation had gone so well. She was practically bubbling. She definately charmed Wendell.

We bugged our shortly after and went to the Comet Grill to see Lenny Federal. He was playing an acoustic set with his brother Michael. Wow, another special event. They don't play together that much and it's always fun to see them. They have been playing music together for so long and they can play just about any song since they are so familiar with each other. It's always a good night out when you get to see three of your favorite people sing and strum.

Friday, June 11, 2004


Today...I consider have gotten up...way too early. For some ugodly, unholy, unhealthy and unnecessary reason I woke up at 5:30. A.M. Those of you that know me, particularly those that have worked with me, know that I am not a morning person. I am consistently arriving at work five minutes after I am scheduled to be there. That is just the way it is and it appears it ain't gonna change real soon. Today though, boom! It's 5:30 and I'm wide awake. At first I thought I just had to tinkle real bad. I did but when I returned to the sack, nothing. So I got up.

What does one do when you don't have to be at work for three and a half hours and the sun isn't up yet? Check email? Surf the net? Play xbox live and shoot some French guys? How about read? Yeah, I did all that. I have to say playing Rainbow Six online is a bigger jolt than a Mountain Dew or a cup of coffee. Nothing like a first-person shooter to wake your ass up.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


"...nearly everyone is aware of dramatic changes in the world. Yet we continue to live in the assumption that we can ride out the changes without changing ourselves, coasting, as we have always coasted, on the historic wave of human development. What it will take to wake us up is a wave of equal size traveling in the opposite direction. That wave is already on its way."

Good thing we have a worthless president whose response to global warming is that we're just going to have to learn to live with it.
Ronald Raygun

I watched a great documentary on Ronald Reagan last night on PBS. It was over two hours long and was riveting. I remember thinking, too bad he didn't show as much passion for the have-nots in his own country as he did for those same people he considered oppressed by the bear.

I forget where it's at on the album but somewhere on the Woodstock album Reagan in called Ronald "Ray gun" by some hippy musician. When I first heard that I was in high school and Reagan was president. I couldn't help wonder but what did Reagan do as governor to tick them off?

I mention all this because I got to see Ronald Reagan give a speech once. It was during the first Gulf War. I had gotten out of the Marines in July of 1990 and they called me back right before Desert Shield transformed into Desert Storm. It turns out they called too many of us back and they didn't need us anyway since the forces over there were able to handle the war.

Early on in our stay at Camp Pendleton, CA (I believe this was shortly before the war went hot) we were informed that former president Ronald Reagan was coming to give us a short talk. They rounded up a few hundred of us and we took seats in a small outdoor training amphitheater that was part of a smaller base called Camp Margarita. We sat around for about a half hour and then he appeared at the back of the theater and moved to the small stage at the front. He gave a short morale-boosting speech using a cheap PA system with a couple of speakers scattered in front of him. I don't remember any of what he said but I did finally see what all the fuss was about. He held your attention and he was believable. He was the kind of person you would follow. I do remember how strange it was to see this guy in person. He became president when I was 12 and he was more image than man to me. To see that he actually existed was unsettling.

After his speech he was given a gift of a floppy desert camouflaged recon hat by a couple of Marines. Reagan put the hat on and we all cheered. Yeah, I did too, goddammit. It was Reagan, fer chrissakes. What I remember best is the giant beeming smile that appeared on his face. He seemed to be truly honored to be treated so by a bunch of young Marines and it was...touching. He then stepped down and exited toward the back. As he passed up the aisle he handed out business cards with his signature on it and guys were reaching out to touch him like he was Michael Jackson and they were twelve-year-old girls. I stood on my bench and marvelled as this man passed within six feet of me.

What I have always wondered was how did this happen? Was he going around to bases in California giving these morale-boosting speeches or was it a happy accident that he happen to be near Camp Pendleton on that day and he wanted to talk to "the boys?" Does anyone know?

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

How does one become a great politician?

You can have a paragraph of text that says absolutely nothing attributed to your name.
Nicknames Redux (I love that word)

In keeping with the nickname craze that is sweeping the blogosphere I just remembered one of the best nicknames a friend of mine had in high school. There was this guy, his name was Wally but he was called Chip. Chips wasn’t the cool nickname. Chip was what his family and subsequently the rest of the world called him. We called him Doop Doop. More accurately, my friend Kevin called him Doop Doop. Kevin was our group’s Hawkeye Pierce if Hawkeye was in high school and had a large head. Chip began being addressed as Doop Doop while sitting with me and Kevin in the back row of a history class. Chip was balancing on the back two legs of his chair. It was a trick that I had perfected. He was rocking slightly back and forth on those back two legs, adjusting his set with his dangling legs. He adjusted too far back, almost went over backwards and then caught himself. During the save he exclaimed, “Doop Doop!” Kevin laughed for the next half hour and from then on Wally-known-as-Chip was called Doop Doop. God, I love other people’s nicknames.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Text of Wall Street Journal article on torture memo

You can read it here.
A list

Ten Sobriquets for people I know and have known(some knowing their name, some not)

10. Sneaky little bastard
9. The big guy
8. Crazy bitch upstairs
7. Dimwitted Hawk
6. Shwigam
5. Louis Lips
4. Spud
3. Lieutenant Shit Lips
2. Little Harold
1. Denny Wheels

Monday, June 07, 2004

Dirt Track Date

I went to the Lancaster Speedway with this group of fellas on Saturday.

Three of them had not been there before and they all had a blast. I just can't say too strongly how much fun it is to go to the dirt track. Again, as I said last summer, an open invitation to all is extended to any who would like to join me for a night of good ole southern fun.
Lies, Torture and 20,000 dead Iraqis: The George W. Bush Whitehouse

Ah, just got done reading the Wall Street Journal article recommended by Joshua Marshall. It turns out the Pentagon put out a report on how much torture is too much, narrowly defined torture and explained how one might avoid a torture conviction. How in the fuck does Rumsfeld still have a job? Oh, that's right, he's the best secretary of defense ever. I guess then the question is George Bush is not in jail? Oh, that's right, he's the president. He's above the law. He's protecting us from evil-doers. We're in a war, contrived though it may be. Someone pinch my butt, maybe I'm dreaming.

I just find it shocking that people in such positions of power fail to realize that information gathered through such measures is flawed. Tortured prisoners are going to tell you what they know you want to hear. Jesus, are these people mad?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Jinxed by James

Today was my day off for working last Sunday. I usually spend my Fridays sleeping in and then going to Hugo's for breakfast and then running a few errands and then blowing money I shouldn't on a DVD or a CD. I should be buying clothes for work. At the very least another belt but today the season one Rocky and Bullwinkle DVD won out over any practical purchase I should make. Man, that Rocky and Bullwinkle stuff is funny as hell. Like a good Looney Toons short Rocky and Bullwinkle is funny for kids and adults. Hell, I just watched episode two and the leader of the Moon Men was based on Winston Churchill. How can you not love that? Fractured Fairy Tales? Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman? Dudley Does Right? It's a laugh riot, dahlink.

How was I jinxed by James? He had that post the other day about how he almost got whacked while riding his bike. Today while tooling around town I had about three close calls. Only one was my fault. I was trying to turn left onto Tremont off of South Blvd at 1 in the afternoon. Not a good idea. It's no a curve and if some dickface in a big SUV is in the left lane you can't see the right lane all that well. I found that out the hard way. There wasn't a car there but when I got into the middle of the intersection I realized that before I pulled out a lot of the road was blocked from my view. If there had been a car there...kersplat! It's hard to drive for about 30 seconds after you just pulled a bonehead move while behind the wheel. Then someone pulls out in front of you and you go back into combat mode. Is that what's it's like in combat when a grenade goes off next to you and you somehow survive unharmed? Is there a thirty second period where you count your fingers and touch your forehead and think, "Holy Jesus Humper, I almost bit it." Then you realize there could be another grenade on its way and you get on your belly and crawl for cover. That's right, goddammit, driving in Charlotte is combat. It's mano y mano or, as I know it, Civic y Navigator.

Someone told me about a recent SUV commercial where an SUV driver taunts a sports car into a race. The sports tears off and is then pulled over by a cop that was hidden by the SUV. That's not funny, that's the danger I deal with every day on these streets. Just because trial lawyers have small dicks I gotta dodge Hummer 2's. It ain't right.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Call it a relief-gasm

Today I delivered the booktalk I described the other day. It went well. I'm pleased with my performance. The only laughter from the crowd came at the correct spots. OK, it was six people but that's a crowd to me.

Since I work without a script and only use notes I didn't cover everything I planned but I let it flow as naturally as I could and that seemed to be the way to go. I did drink a lot of water, it's a good way to collect your thoughts. Plus my mouth gets sandpaper dry when I talk in front of peoples.

Next up this August is a talk about classic science fiction. That should be fun. I am actually looking forward to it, that's a little weird to me.

I remember when I was about a month from getting out of the Marines back in 1990 I had to go to a mandatory recruiting session by the LAPD. Can you imagine me as an LA police officer? Nope, neither could I but it did give me a chuckle for about a week.

I see that we are attempting to bring democracy to the middle east. Maybe we should bring democracy to Los Angeles first.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Tired of it and just want to present the dang thing

I have been stressing for the last two weeks on the booktalk I have to deliver on Thursday. My talk consisists of combining the clever entries for the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest with three authors that I think have unique writing styles. The three authors I am going to discuss are Elmore Leonard, Chrisopher Moore, and Michael Chabon.

The contest asks people to write, in the most purplish prose possible, the first sentence of a very bad novel. I came up with the idea because I saw that many of the entries used very imaginative language and I could use that as a springboard to discuss writers I think have a personal style. I guess you could say that all truly good novelists have their own style but I think this'll work.

I chose Elmore Leonard because his writing is the least florid you can find out there. Christopher Moore I chose because his style is similar to some of the writing you see in the better Bulwer-Lytton entries, flowery and absurd but with a nice spark of genius. I chose Chabon because he is a genius and he's fun to talk about and his style is similar to Bulwer-Lytton, it's elaborate and purplish at time but he knows when to reel it in and go on with the story.

So there. I think I'm done preparing. I've gotten to the point where I am sick of my topic and just want to present the talk. I usually do better in a speaking setting when I reach the point I am now. I think that means any more preparation would be superfluous. Oh, I'll still study my notes but research is over, bubba.