December 29, 2012

Last Post

of 2012.

Ulysses S Grant died of a severe case of throat cancer no doubt brought on by his incessant cigar smoking. He lit a cigar the moment he woke up and kept going through the day until he put the last one out before going to bed at night. Then he woke up and lit up again. That's how you die of a severe case of throat cancer. Duh. But the thing is I understand the urge only too well.

If I didn't have to have people over to the house from time to time, and if it was okay to do in public (which, thank God, it isn't), and if there weren't any rules about it at all I'd probably have a good maduro stuck in my mug from morning to night too.

I recognize that maybe 99% of the folks reading this are now making fake retching noises and sticking their tongue out and hacking and shit (what is it about people who want to tell you they don't like something? Why do they have to go through all these enactments? Why can't they just say "I don't like that" instead of making all these goofy sounds?), and I'd be fighting an uphill battle trying to explain the glories of a good, rich, black cigar. So I won't attempt that. But I'm telling you, if society allowed it (and I could afford it) I'd go like Ulysses and have fun doing it. But oh well, not to be. Guess I'll stay alive longer after all. Damn it.


So what is it with all these ridiculous reminders being shot at us here and there across the internet? Trying to set up my iPad to coincide with this computer so that I can - I guess - be disconnected from the people in the room anywhere I go, I tried very valiantly to plug in all the sites I visit and everywhere I go I get these screens that are reminding me to do this and that and asking if I want to go here or there, and all I want to do is put in my web sites. Let me do what I want to do and leave me alone, for God's sake. Stop reminding me of shit I don't want to do with shit I don't need.

It all goes back to just how automated do we want things to be. I hate to keep harping on it but I have this feeling of impending doom. If ever somebody gets a hold of the whole maze of connections and exchanges going on we are - basically - fucked. For example I don't have one "app" for anything. I am the last man on Earth, I suppose, who does not have even one "app" for anything. That I know of. Even on my phone (which I've lost - am waiting for a replacement for - and don't miss at all) I didn't have one "app." I don't even know why I'm supposed to have them. They have "apps' where you can drive up to Dunkin Donuts and they hand you your coffee and you hand them your phone and that moves money from somewhere to somewhere. And this is supposed to be convenient. What's the difference - you're still handing them something? Only in this case people you never heard of are taking your money from a place you didn't know you had it. What is it about this that reminds me of the old credit card internet trap where you end up paying for months for something you didn't know you were paying for?

I'm not trying to be one of these boorish "anti-tech and I'm proud" jerks. I can't stand folks like that. I'm not talking about being anti-technology, I'm talking about proceeding with some caution about what we agree to, on the fly, without considering any consequences, and just going along like a fucking sheep in a herd. Can we at least talk about it? I'm all over the internet, and have been involved with it since it came up. Hell I had one of those useless $800 computers from Radio Shack or whatever the hell it was, that did nothing, took forever to program one function, and came with 47 books explaining how to write code... in the 80s! So I'm not, like, a pure troglodyte. I simply look at this blizzard of options and little do-dads and trick outs and go "why am I needing this again?"

I don't think that qualifies me as a true trog.


So, I go along. I like cigars. I like to read books. I like to go into stores and banks and talk to people. I like when they know my name. And I don't like the impersonal aspects of this structured, accepted  avoidance of people on a regular basis.

Because in a world like that it is much easier to pull out a semi-automatic weapon and kill 26 people than it would be if you had daily exchanges with folks, face to face, and got to view them as human beings instead of having it be okay to stay isolated and imagine that other people are nothing more than icons on a smooth, clean screen. Maybe.

December 17, 2012

Viva Joe Strummer!

Why is it that the music makers for each generation are actually members of the previous one?

I graduated high school in 1971 and it was just as the Counter Culture was giving up on the hippieness of it all and going "up the country." Altamont killed the Summer of Love and all my friends, it seemed, either hung on for dear life to the old bands, giving up totally on any kind of personal evolution; or turning themselves around to other pursuits altogether. Or getting themselves set up for Disco.

God help us.

 In 1977 I was 24 and though outwardly I was a regular working stiff, freshly escaped from the cult of Scientology, and punching a clock for not much money and hadn't yet met my wife, the branch of my crowd had every basis to move into the new stuff that was starting up. Such as that much reduced crowd that remained in my life could. My stint with the cult pretty much wiped out a lot of the old friendships. So much for that episode.

The truth is "punk" saved my life. And it turned out that, eventually, The Clash became The Only Band That Mattered.

Wake up, the boring stuff is over now. Sheeesh...

I only just now found this video. It's an hour long. Get some popcorn. Viva Joe Strummer!

December 15, 2012

Never Let The Facts Get In The Way Of Your Kneejerk Opinion

Person A: If they had the right to conceal and carry in Connecticut thus wouldn't have happened.
Person B: Right on.
Me: Connecticut is a conceal and carry state.
Person B: Those pokey liberals are going to use this to take our guns away now, just watch.
Person A: And they want to ban assault rifles. If they had assault rifles in that school they'd have killed that guy.
Person B: Why bother, if you had an assault rifle you'd get arrested.
Me: Assault rifles are legal in Connecticut.
Person A: An armed society is a polite society. That creep would have never dared do that if people could carry guns in Connecticut.
Me: Guys, you can carry guns in Connecticut.
Person B: They don't see that what these laws are doing are just letting criminals have guns and honest people are just targets.
Person A: This is what you'll get. You don't have conceal and carry rights, you get this shit.
Me: Um, it's legal in Conn...
Person A: This would have never happened if it was legal to carry guns in Connecticut.

December 10, 2012

Which Side Are You On, Boys?

Okay so, serious about my weight I started at 197 on November 1 and as of my last weigh-in - which was Monday the 3rd of December - I was down to 182.6. I have another weigh-in Monday the 10th (later today) but I don't think I'll see any movement downward from there because I went a little off my watch this weekend. So I don't know what that'll be, but whatever it is it won't be a discouragement. I've still lost well over 10 pounds and am committed to getting this done. I proved to myself over Thanksgiving that even with the holidays I can lose weight. So that was a big boost.

I'm luckier than most because I can make a whole meal out of what most people would just consider a pre-dinner veggie tray. You know, the kind next to the shrimp and the deviled eggs while everyone is still arriving, So it's kind of my secret weapon - I LIKE broccoli and scallions and cherry tomatoes and cauliflower and celery and they carry no points against your diet. And there are plenty of dips to dip them in that won't bust your waistline but still taste awesome. Honey mustard is the best, for me.

I'm still thinking 166 would get rid of my belly and manboobs but at this point 170 might be enough. We'll make that call when we get there. And we WILL get there.

So what else is new now that blogs are dead? Hmmm let's see...

We're late on the November issue of Thrice but it's partially Sandy's fault and partially an artist's fault. poor dave has to continually deal with unreliable, flighty, moody and I don't know what all else-y artist types in putting the final touches to the zine, and we seem to have uncovered a mother lode of touchy, petulant, and downright irresponsible artists. And Hurricane Sandy wiped out the other guy. So we're looking at this week to release the latest. I've already gotten over 25 submissions for the March issue and the submission period only opened up on December 1! Holy farco...

Hmmm what else...

Oh I joined the IWW. Seriously. Why did I do that? Because the older I get the more radical I'm becoming, that's why. And also because the unions as they are right now seem to be kind of dickless on the one hand and coercive even towards their own membership on the other. So I'm a wobbly. Officially with a card and the little dues-paying as well, recognizing from the start that to supplant any branch of the AFL-CIO is pretty improbable. The current IWW is still organizing - and they've done good work agitating the Wal-Mart situation and google the Jimmy Johns workers/IWW as well. Still, I view it as agitation and support. I don't expect anything else out of it. But as I walk into work with my pin, I'll be happy to explain to anybody who asks.

But that's not so much... what else is there... hmmmm...

Oh - the big news! Our littlest granddaughter Sophie had her 1 year birthday on November 30. And she was walking weeks before that and she's a little tornado who won't let her big sister boss her around even though her big sister is 9. That's pretty funny.

Got all your Christmas shopping done? I want to point out that people who bemoan the commercialism of Christmas are missing a broader point. Just remember - Christmas may be a boon to the owners and big shots and all that. But it also means overtime for some people, and seasonal jobs for folks having trouble finding steady work. Then there's the folks who make and print Christmas Cards and wrapping paper. And somebody has to pack all that stuff up so UPS and Fed Ex put on extra workers too. And even if the bulk of all this stuff we buy comes from overseas (a problem that needs fixing big time) there are still guys on freighters and dock workers and truck drivers and railroad people who have to move the stuff all over the country to get into your hot little hands. Christmas may be a big joke - and these "keep Christ in Christmas" people are some of the whiniest bitches I ever heard. I think they just love making believe they're martyrs or something because their personal version of Christianity doesn't jive with what Christ himself had in mind - but it's also jobs and work and fun for kids. So go for it. All out.

How my doin'?

November 17, 2012

A Dumpy Lump of Old Man Shit

Striving for something here.

Uh, no, don't get any ideas. The only way I could get close to Cary Grantness is after major plastic surgery, skin grafts, mouth job, hair realignment and yet another round of general reconstruction. And I still would have a ton of work left on the personality aspect of it all. But that's not the point.

The point is let's be a cool old man.

Next year I hit 60. To be perfectly honest the number doesn't bother me. Not at all. It's not the number. What bothers me is the way I've let myself get out of hand. I'm about 20+ pounds overweight. My stomach, not to mention manboobs,  all arrive in the room before I can even hear anybody talking. The worst part of the day is coming out of the shower and being embarrassed by what that looks like - even though I'm desperately trying to avoid looking in the mirror. But, you know, it's sort of like the macabre need to look into the car they're using the Jaws of Life on when you're driving by an accident. You can't help it.

And it isn't a matter of confidence or helping my confidence. Not the body issue / lack of self esteem thing at all. If anything I have too much confidence for the package. But that's been my story all my life. I'll say something pretty self-assured and people turn around, take a look, and go "that come outta him?" Been that way all my life. Too much so, at times. That's not the issue.

I'd like to look good in a suit. I prefer vested ones, just love 'em, but when you have a gut - that looks pretty stupid. It looks like some dumpy middle class guy trying to look rich. And it just comes out silly. But trim down and put on a nice suit like that - you're doing fine.

In general what I'm thinking of is that my whole adult life has been about trying (sometimes desperately) to not be a stereotype of what a middle-aged Middle-American, often looks like. Gut. Beer in hand. Has to sit down after a while. Teases the grandchildren mercilessly. Has the politics of a troglodyte and the IQ of a rock - and believes that to be a virtue. But the important thing is that this isn't trying to be something I'm not - because I know my limitations. It's trying to NOT be something I dislike. And I believe that's an important distinction, often glossed over by some folks who just knee jerk when I say stuff like that.

What I'm saying is that there's still a lot of work to do. Working on all the other stuff is a matter of an ongoing effort. But the physical appearance - partially superficial but also very much largely a real concern of one's health and well-being - is something I can attack vigorously and realistically. If I can't get the personality part down and be a cool jerk, I can still lose some weight and watch my habits so I can be a healthy and physically fit jerk.

So on November 1 I started at 197 pounds. By the rates and measures and all that crap for my height I should be anywhere from 152-169 depending on who you're reading. I think if I can hit 166 that would be great. If I go any lower I'd want to do a little weight training because, I'm sorry, 155 is just insane. I don't know why 166 sticks out in my mind but it seems like a cool number. And that would be 31 pounds. Which would be very cool.

It's November 17. I'm doing the Weight Watchers online for men thing. My last weigh-in - which was Monday the 12th - I was 188. I worked overtime last night and passed on the company-provided pizza because i want to "make weight" on the 19th.

I do recognize that in this world - with mass populations in need of food, shelter and medical care - what I'm doing and wasting time writing about can be seen as pure vanity. In a way it's very true. But what can I do? If I die of a heart-attack at 61 like my Dad what good can I do anymore anyway?

And I do have a thing about being just about the age of my Father when he died. Yes. I do have a thing about that.

So I'll keep you posted. I did this once before and lost a bunch of weight to get down to 195, where I last stopped. But that's it. I want to be a cool old man. And you can't do that when you look like a dumpy lump of old man shit.

November 09, 2012

And So To The Blissfully Mundane

Bullet points! Complete with this cool ice cube tray that makes.... ICE BULLETS!!! I used to think the concept of ice bullets was just so freakin' cool, until the Mythbusters showed how the dang things are useless and would melt en route to the target and just hit you hard with a glob of water. Oh well.

  • But never mind, the election is over and nobody wins. Woo hoo. And yet the stupidity continues. Comments heard from my ignorant white boy fellow workers?

    1. "I'm going to buy that gun because that n_____ was re-elected."


    2."They just gave it to him so there wouldn't be any riots."

    Yeah. Makes you proud to be a white man, don't it?"

  • What I haven't said is that I'm trying, again, to lose some weight. At one point - embarrassingly enough - my paltry 5'9" frame actually carried almost 220 pounds. This was some time ago when I had that sales job and the travel / dinners / junk food routine really ruled around here. I did Weight Watchers after that and lost 23 pounds to the 197 I've stayed at for some time. But 197 is still way over where I'm supposed to be. I'd like to see 180-185, and so on November 1 I began the points crusade again. Happy to say it is November 9 and I have lost 5 pounds. I think when I drop below 190, and see that 1-8... on the scale I am going to get that extra motivation to finish this time. Wait for it. The charts say, ideally, I'm supposed to be around 170-175. One thing at a time ok?  

  • For the two or three people who care - after years of being involved in the alternative scene for writers I have, for the last year or so, been working on an old-school novel that has some of my old contacts scratching their heads because it actually has things like A PLOT, and weird shit like CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT and even, you know, like, DIALOG. I may have mentioned before but it is a story that takes place inside the "Muslim world" and therefore is probably doomed never to be taken up by anyone in this Islamophobic culture of ours. But as I mentioned it is being "culture checked" by my very good friend, the superlatively intelligent and beautiful Faiqa Khan, and we're kind of doing that check in a moderately cool way. I've placed the story, as it is finished, at a site known as Fictionaut - kind of like a social media thing for writers - where she can check in completely at her leisure without someone sending her a big long attachment she would then feel compelled to read. And you can take a look at the project if you'd like. But I won't publish the link here - you gotta ask for it. So I figure the secret will be safe, he laughed. If - by the by - you wanted to catch some of the writers we've been featuring in Thrice all along, you'd see a lot of advan
    ce shit over at Fictionaut. Which you can Google. But anyway, just as a note to follow up because I mentioned it before, there's this bullet.
  • Speaking of the superlatively intelligent and beautiful - my wife (sometimes known as MrsRW, though I should more rightly be known as Mr MrsRW) won the Best Costume award at the halloween party we went to a couple weeks ago. She went off and got herself a custom-made exact, historically accurate (including the bakelite buttons and official GPBL patch)  reproduction of the uniform for the Rockford Peaches. And looked exactly this good in it too, may I add.
  • And our youngest granddaughter, Sophie, turns 1 this month. Holy freakin cow where did THAT year go?
  • All 4 nao...

    November 05, 2012

    My Last Notes On The Election, Thank God

    The plain fact is that the last man to understand the Executive Branch of government was George Washington.

     He disallowed the inserting of an "imperial presidency" into our governmental mix, was decidedly strict about the limits to the application of power as it related to the Legislative and Judicial branches per the Constitution (which was still a very new and original document when he took office), was personally gratified by the honor of the office but secretly couldn't wait to get TF out of there as soon as he could, was circumspect about and was extremely wary of what the country decided was to be its role in the world, suspicious of "foreign entanglements" not only because imperialism seemed anathema to him but because he worried about the influence of foreign powers inside our halls of government, was against the formation of political parties, and acted in all ways and means within the limits of the constitution - no more and no less.

    Presidents since him have either been at the mercy of political affiliations or were special agents of a narrow politic. For Lincoln, Nixon, Wilson, and both Roosevelts - well  name any -  the game seems to have been how much extra power can you gather in to this office. You can't just blame President Bush (2) for the accumulation of power into the Executive; it began to be accumulated from Adams (1) on, little by little; until you have what you have now - too much power resting in that branch. The idea of a three-branch government - the old "checks and balances" method - was constructed to insure that no one branch, no one party, no one strong personality, and no one current trend insinuated itself into the process to the point where that process was adulterated in any way. Well that's not what we have any more, and haven't had since his Presidency.

    What we have now, after the accumulation of two centuries of fiddling with the original intent, isn't anywhere near what the founders designed, in my opinion. Bit original intent is another issue altogether. We're just using my view on the matter for this post.

    If you have any doubt that the "original intent" of the Constitution has been slaughtered let's just use the example of the 4th Amendment.
     The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    Three words that prove my point? Police Check Points. For seat belts, en masse sobriety checks (I was once in a group of over 100 cars directed off the highway into a parking lot on a Labor Day weekend wherein everyone was checked to see if they were drunk, without any probable cause).  It has always been odd to me that the same people who are so all-fired angry about what they feel the 2nd Amendment means, and base their argument on the idea that we should "be true to the Constitution", nevertheless never seem to give a shit about the 4th.

    Be that example as it may...

     The point is the Presidency is not now composed of the particulars that it was originally intended to be composed of. And there is no one person or praty to blame. It's the people who are to blame. You and me. For letting it happen.

    The other plain fact is that there isn't going to be one wit's worth of difference between a Romney administration and an Obama one. The drone attacks will continue. Obamacare will not be repealed for the simple fact that no President is going to want to be responsible for taking millions of people OFF the healthcare system. In fact a Romney Presidency will be marked by the amount of things he will explain to the Tea Party that they can't have. Either that - or suddenly tax increases, the rising of the debt ceiling, and the continued expansion of the national debt will be perfectly okay. Suddenly. Because a Republican is doing them.

    If not, there will be such a hue and cry from the extremist reactionaries that have been trying to hijack America for the last three years and continue to be denied by the Republican establishment, that the GOP will be fatally fractured if not completely destroyed by 2015. Unless of course a President Romney enacts the programs of that terrorist annex and we increase the unemployment rolls by destroying thousands of jobs after the budget cuts they want take effect.

    How many government employees currently working will be seeking unemployment insurance after a Tea Party sweep and why do we never seem to understand that cutting the government to the degree they seek after equals job killing legislation?

     And where is George Washington in all of this?

    He certainly isn't toting guns into the New Hampshire State House as Tea Party members are these days. He isn't carrying out unlawful drone strikes on civilians throughout the Muslim world these days. He isn't changing his position for the sake of political expediency or wearing magic underwear these days. And he certainly isn't spending millions of dollars completely lying about his opponents in order to get into office. That's the legacyt WE are passing down to our children and grandchildren. He's not.

    He's probably sick of the whole thing too.

    Whatever happens tomorrow the problem is bigger than one guy or another. It's bigger than party politics. It's more important than which one of a handful of insignificant internet blog posers will end up being right about this or that. The problem is this country is sick, sad and confused. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.

    And George's got nothing to do with it.

    October 29, 2012

    Just Some Shit

    1. There was a time when I thought someone who said "Without a doubt, the capitalist electoral system is a sham. It is a rigged system to ensure the domination of the tiny ruling class of Wall Street bankers, corporations and big-business owners over the vast majority of people in the United States-the working class" was a crank.

    I have to say, though, and especially since the era of "Citizens United," "corporations are people my friend," and the efforts of some folks to try and limit access to the voting booths by trying to demand photo IDs, I think that statement couldn't be more true.

    So here's Peta Lindsay. She's running for President on the PSL Ticket (Socialism and Liberation - yeah that'll work). And in protest to everything else I'd vote for her; seriously. Except she's only 27 and she's not on the ballot in Illinois. I know, right? Details details.

     But I would. Honest to God I would. If only there wasn't something else to vote for. My whole motivation now isn't to put the best person in office, it's to make conservative pinheads upset. I like seeing them unhappy and miserable. It's much more fun that way. I've enjoyed these past four years of ceaseless whining and tantrums and sour grapes I've heard and read from them. And I have really enjoyed trolling them. They badger and bully innocent little liberals at will, but when the tables are turned and they're given exactly what they've given they moan about "how can anybody have a serious discussion around here?" It's hilarious. Especially when the tactics they've used for four years are turned back on them, and they don't even see it.

    Yet that's not exactly the idea behind democracy, is it? You're supposed to weigh the issues, look at the candidate's positions, and cast your ballot to reflect your notion of what you think best serves the life of your country. Yeah right. You can do that. I'm voting because the guy I'll be voting for pisses some jackasses off to no end.

    But if making certain people angry and the fact that she wasn't on the ballot here in the first place didn't matter... I'd vote for Peta. God bless America.

    2. So the blog has been pretty much the same crap lately hasn't it? I've even resorted to youtube music videos, something I swore off a long time ago - or thought I have - or should have. I'm either talking about the magazine (the next issue coming out around November 15) or doing political shit like up there and long gone are the days of memes and lists of general stupid shit that we all secretly love but say we don't. I don't read stats, but it's easy to see that regular posters have dropped off by a good number. I know that this is partly due to general issues - twitter is easier, the blogosphere seems like a relic already, and people have their own shit going on. But, from an editor's viewpoint, it's also because the fare here hasn't been all that scintillating anymore. Not like it was in some of the older blogs. I find myself going "so if this was your last post is that what you'd want to be the last thing people would see?" And of course I've also been "quitting technology" for two years now.

    Funny how that never seems to actually happen.

    3. Why yes, "shit" actually is my most commonly used invective in my actual conversation. I think it's more effective than "fuck" because "fuck" is kind of overused. "Shit." on the other hand, is a bit more esoteric. Also it's funnier. I mean when I'm under a machine trying to pull out a stuck bolt at work and it won't budge and you can hear me say, from the dust and grease below "shit piss fuck" that's kind of funny too. But without the "shit" part it's less funny. Try it yourself.

    "Shit" is actually my favorite word to use, and the one you'll hear me using more than any of the other ones.

    There's all that shit. This shit is loopy. The hell with that shit. I don't give a shit. We're going now, you got your shit? What's up with that shit?

    The fact is you haven't been here in a while, but when you saw the word "shit" in your reader you clicked it. Didn't you? ANSWER ME.

    4. The other thing is that most of the people who read here are on Facebook with me. But the thing is there are people I have as friends on Facebook who have no idea I have a blog, edit a magazine, or even had anything published in the distant past. So I'm kind of stifled on Facebook. I say shit, but I don't say all my shit. You see?

    There are people in my family who think I'm just "that guy." An uncle. A cousin. A brother. They don't know about my saga with Scientology or anything. Especially to most family members, if I said half the shit on Facebook that I say here I don't know what they'd think. Sometimes I sneak shit in, but it's tame compared to here.

    In fact at a recent family get-together I had the experience of one family member, just off the cuff, ask a question about something she saw of mine on Facebook and actually had the gumption to inquire about it. Just a little while later, we were talking, and I told her at one point. "Well there ya go. Outside of my wife and daughters, you now know me better than anybody else in this room."

    5. We don't know each other because we don't ask. And we don't ask because we don't want to get into people's shit and look like we're trying to burn their house down or something.

    But you could ask me anything. obrtre - at - gmail

    See if it don't.

    EDITED TO ADD: Oh I almost forgot. I think I'm growing a beard. I don't know for sure yet, but we'll see. For Halloween this year I went to the party as a contestant on Top Chef - red bandana, clogs, spiky hair, and I went unshaven for a week to add to the effect. Then I walked around saying how I could have cooked that better.

    But anyway the party was Saturday and I still haven't shaved. Well I did shave this morning but just my neck. Anyway we'll see what happens. I like it and I don't. I dunno. I've never had one.

    October 26, 2012

    You Decide

    On the turning away
    From the pale and downtrodden
    And the words they say
    Which we won't understand
    "Don't accept that what's happening
    Is just a case of others' suffering
    Or you'll find that you're joining in
    The turning away"
    It's a sin that somehow
    Light is changing to shadow
    And casting it's shroud
    Over all we have known
    Unaware how the ranks have grown
    Driven on by a heart of stone
    We could find that we're all alone
    In the dream of the proud
    On the wings of the night
    As the daytime is stirring
    Where the speechless unite
    In a silent accord
    Using words you will find are strange
    And mesmerised as they light the flame
    Feel the new wind of change
    On the wings of the night
    No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It's not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there'll be
    No more turning away?

    October 23, 2012

    This I Know

    I know that there is great hope for the future when protesters who support Wikileaks, helped the Arab Spring, and generated the energy that formed the Occupy movement, wear gas masks and Hello Kitty t-shirts.

    I know that no matter if you are a reactionary or a liberal the "news media" isn't conspiring against you, they are merely reporting what a jackass your hero is. And maybe what a jerkoff you are for believing in him.

    I know that no matter which doofus wins the coming election absolutely nothing is going to change by their influence or policies; and that since confidence alone is the single most important component of economies, it is a fact that presidents get too much blame and too much credit for when economies are bad or good.

    I know that the reason the Greens and Libertarians aren't fully represented in national elections is due to a combination of collusion on the part of the two major parties just as much as it is a matter of the incompetence and general ideological impotence of the Greens and Libertarians.

    I know that a vodka lemonade and a good cigar is better than discussing politics with a committed party hack.

    I know that my granddaughters and the coming marriage of my second daughter are altogether more important to me than the internet tough-guys, conservative twits, macho chicken-hawks, late blooming radicals, Democratic party functionaries, pissed off internet mother hens who hold grudges for seventy years and tell a lot of other women who need their meds what to think, and serious thinkers who can't take a joke, I meet online.

    I know I still love books, and good writing, and writers who take chances. And no matter what the technology does to the future I will always keep books, enjoy good writing, and seek out dicey writers.

     I know that Mormonism, exactly like Scientology, is a secretive, homophobic, fraudulent cult. And all you have to do is talk to people who have been shunned and ostracized by their power structures to know this. It is not a value judgment on the merits of their beliefs or their modalities. It is only a witnessing of the victims and their abuse that will teach you this. Any religion that withholds secrets and does not explain itself freely to honest questions ought to be viewed as suspicious. And it shouldn't take a genius to figure that out.

    And I also know that I'm full of shit too. So there is that...

    October 07, 2012

    With The GOP You Get Eggroll

    See, here's the problem.

    Let's say you have a concern about the government always spending more than it takes in. You know that you have to balance your budget at home and if you don't you wind up paying down debt for years and years after you buy that couch. You know what it's like to buy a couch for thirteen years and only own it for ten. And you figure, Jeez, it is really a problem because sooner or later someone's going to have to pay for all this and it might even be my kids. Or their kids even. And it isn't what you'd want to hand down as a legacy.

    All in all a very legitimate concern. And it really is the main thing that worries you. Bugs you, in fact. They ought to do something about it. So there's an election coming up and you figure - "hey, I'll find candidates that support this concern of mine, and I'll vote for them and hope they can do something about it." So you go do some research and after looking for who in the world most closely matches your issue you discover that this very thing is the primary stated concern of the Republican Party in America.

    "Swell," you say. "I'm going to try and vote for Republicans where it will do the most good for my concern and my country." And election day comes around and you happily punch or poke or do whatever it is you have to do in the little slots to cast your votes. In your personal universe it is mostly a Republican landslide, and you are satisfied that at least you got the chance to express yourself and make an effort to do something about a problem in whatever little way you can. Maybe even the only way you can.

    You've done your civic duty, and you go to bed happy. No matter the results, it was the best you could do.

    Then you wake up the next morning and find that a lot of Republicans were elected, and you say "finally, we'll restore a little sanity to the government and be responsible for a change."

    And, in truth, there are Republicans who do what they can do to enact that very idea for you.

    But then these other things start creeping in.

    You hear a Republican from Georgia say, "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. And it's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior." He says the Earth is 9,000 years old and that it was made out of nothing in six days. He says the theory of evolution ought not to be discussed in the class room. That it is the devil's seed and it is ruining the minds of young people. Turning them away from the Truth.

    You may even remember reading somewhere that the teaching of evolution is banned outright in Saudi Arabia and Sudan, mostly on the influence of conservative Muslim scholars, and now this guy wouldn't mind if it were banned in the USA too. To make matters worse, you discover that he's already a sitting member on  House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In Congress. In DC. This while you read once that American students are falling behind their peers in the rest of the world in science and math.

    Then you read about this other Republican in Arkansas who thinks that slavery was a "blessing in disguise" for blacks. And another Republican in Arkansas thinks that all Muslims should be shipped out of the country. And these guys are elected too.

    Then you start to understand that the money- a lot of money - for Republicans comes from people who are dead-set convinced that the Obama Administration has concocted a massive, stinking, lying conspiracy to take away people's guns once everybody has been put to sleep about the issue. They have proof, they say, that there is a vast liberal conspiracy to destroy the Second Amendment.

    Blog after blog from people who support the Republicans, even those who say they're not voting or don't care but only put up critiques on Democrats just 'cuz - you know - they're fair and balanced, whine and wail about how there must be a plan out there to control people's minds by under-reporting some things and making mountains out of other things that are molehills - all in the name of influencing the way people view what's going on so they can take over the world for communism or, at least, you know, socialism.

    And little by little it dawns on you, maybe, that you got a whole lot more than you bargained for when you voted Republican. Vote for them because you feel fiscal responsibility is important. This was your idea. Then you find out that with the GOP, you get eggroll.

    It's like that commercial -

    When you worry about the economy you vote Republican. When you vote Republican you tacitly support Creationism. When you tacitly support Creationism you believe humans walked the earth with dinosaurs. When you believe humans walked the Earth with dinosaurs the rest of the world passes you by. When the rest of the world passes you by you become Albania. Don't become Albania. Vote Democratic. 

    October 01, 2012

    For President, Version53 Says...

    Four years ago I announced I would be voting for Barack Obama for President, the first Democrat I voted for in quite some time. The decision had nothing whatsoever to do with politics or policies. It had even less to do with programs or a worldview. But it had everything to do with a cultural event. I viewed the election of a black president as a great step forward out of the festering pool of racism that is a virulent, still unspoken legacy of American history. I viewed his election, I believe I said at the time, as a "cultural signpost." A marker along the highway of our history. It wasn't going to change the idea of race or automatically improve racial relations in this country (some people change, but the only real cure for bigots is that they will eventually get old and die). I didn't view it as an instant panacea or celebrate how it is a New Era and everything will be different now.

    My argument back then wasn't that there would now be a magic wand curing all the ills that lay deep in the hearts of white America. Or that this was the pinnacle of a crusade to change the country for the better forever. My argument was that this had to happen in order to continue our national evolution, to improve our veracity when we say we stand for freedom; a sometimes questionable mantra.

    But that's not the issue any more. The reason I'm endorsing Barack Obama for re-election comes down to a little thing called intellectual curiosity.

    Intellectual curiosity is an endangered thing in the world. If you consider yourself a conservative, you may have even snickered when you read the words "intellectual curiosity," because those aren't words real men use.

    But the truth is that "intellectual curiosity" is put in danger by religious zealots. It is put at risk by media-personality hatchet men like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Hannity, and O'Reilly, who build cult followings of people who just nod and agree. It is put in jeopardy by people who manufacture shit and throw it against a wall and walk away, not caring what sticks and what doesn't. Intellectual curiosity is endangered by being suspicious of education. Intellectual curiosity is endangered by engineering specious facts when the truth doesn't suit your purposes. It is endangered by the kind of twisted logic that says that liberalism = fascism, a crank the liberals in America have allowed conservative bullshit artists to get away with without challenge. God knoweth how.

    The fact that the Right has spent every minute and every dollar possible in lying about Obama, continuously throwing shit against the wall - even ridiculous shit - and being happy with anything that sticks there, no matter if it is the truth or not, is proof to me just how soulless the Right has become. And I lament that because I used to think of myself as part of the Old Right. But I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that these days.

    There is, in fact, an anti-intellectual bent in what screeds out from the Right. Even though at times it provides the Republican candidate with millions of dollars more than the President is getting, and is certain that liberals are, quite plainly, trying to destroy the country, it somehow manages to maintain a pathological fear of some nameless "elite" that runs the country from some hidden liberal bastion in the Evil East. And why, exactly, those who control the country would want to destroy it is cognitive dissonance at its most oblique. It frets about where to hide its guns. It champions congressmen who shout that the President is a liar before the entire world with complete impunity, and not even so much as a rebuke. It has no idea the country they live in was meant to be secular so that religious freedom is guaranteed. It imagines whole swaths of the country awash in voter fraud. It believes there are 35 terrorist training camps right here in America, being protected by the ACLU. The health care bill has created some sort of Kafkaesque panel of faceless communists who decide who lives and who dies. Diplomacy is weakness. Compromise is surrender. Teachers are the enemy. Unions are un-American. The President is a secret Muslim with no birth certificate. And to make matters worse, they've even changed the spelling of the word "moron."

    A lack of intellectual curiosity stifles science. It stifles art. It locks an entire culture - or tries to lock it - into some 1890's idyll or a 1950's innocence (neither of which actually existed, in history). It puts Creationism in the schools on an equal footing with actual science.

    All that said, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that President Obama has done that I can easily get on board with. The health care bill doesn't go far enough. The drone attacks have gone way beyond what I personally thought was reasonable. And the continuation and enhancement of surveillance that began with President Bush's Patriot Act makes me dubious about how our leaders see the constitution.

    And a good part of me thinks that if Governor Romney is elected there won't be that much changed. He was put in this position by the part of the GOP that wishes the Tea Party would just go away. And he'll spend his term(s) explaining why they can't get what they want.

    But I'm not casting my vote in the name of either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney.

    I'm voting for some semblance of reason, rather than shrill whining, and in opposition to the dumbing-down of America which - to my way of thinking - certainly appears to be the actual agenda of conservative America.

    A stupid electorate is easily swayed by shit on a wall. And if that is the Republican grand strategy, I'm voting to stop it.

    September 27, 2012

    The Thing About Ken Harrelson

    The Wall Street Journal published a review of all the baseball team announcers and Ken Harrelson, our man there in the White Sox booth, was rated as the worst offender in the category that went something like "least objective, most biased, biggest homer cheerleader" or something like that. And, to be real honest, they got that right. But I'm not sure it matters.

    First of all it appears to me from listening to him all these years, and from local tales told and repeated, plus "I know a guy who knows a guy" and stuff like that, Ken Harrelson has one great big "fault" in his character, which is that he is loyal to people he says he is loyal to and - from my understanding - is one of these guys who skids around in the background doing great things for people without fanfare or the desire for being noticed. When he says you are a friend - that's it. You're a friend. And you're going to have to be convicted of killing scores of innocent children before he cuts you loose. In other words he is a guy with some solid old-fashioned virtues; the cream of which would see to be loyalty, consistency, a value on friendship and a truly good heart. He has some good old-fashioned values that are, well, good old-fashioned values. And some of those values are in short supply in the general population.

     So on the one hand it is obvious that he would enact these traits in the broadcast booth for a team with which he travels and spends time with every day, working for an employer he has never been shy in expressing his respect for, and watching the backs of the people he works for and with. It seems natural - that's the kind of guy every piece of evidence I can find says he is. And, also from listening to him, I have no problem believing that this assessment is 100% spot on.

     Secondly, in baseball broadcasting, there are two distinct markets. There is the local market, where a broadcast crew presents the games of their home team. Then there is the national market, where it is not only expected that a broadcaster be fair and even-handed, but where that is accepted that this balanced approach should be the standard.

    Placing these two thoughts together then, I believe, is a good enough slam-dunk defense of "The Hawk" and his style. The fact that he is an unabashed, self-avowed, wears-it-on-his-sleeve "homer" is no problem for me.

    The only problem I have with Hawk is the other thing. Not being a "homer," but just not being a very good baseball announcer.

    I mean, to be honest, if the WSJ called him the flat-out bottom of the worst technically, style-wise or insofar as his abilities are concerned I'd say - yep. You got that right.

    The problem is, and it has become worse as the years have gone on, that Ken has developed a loooooooooong list of cliches that serve almost as the entire broadcast. From first pitch to last he says the same things in the same way every game. And it is down right boring as hell. Not to mention that during the current skid out of first place and the mounting losses the Sox are experiencing with frightening regularity lately he has sounded - quite literally - like a man who needs some medication for a severe depression which is so palpable I honestly can't watch him anymore without being incredibly uncomfortable. Paint that defeatism, which is becoming blatant to the point of missing calls because he ASSUMES the worst (twice in the last three or four games he got all deflated before the play was over, audibly, only to have to pump himself back into action - poorly - when the ball was muffed and instead of an out the Sox were still alive), over the skeleton of continual catch phrases over and over and over and you have a dull, boring, spiritless, unintelligent broadcast. The last thing it is is entertaining.

    I would say it is entertaining if you enjoy watching a man become unraveled. But here's what you will invariably hear EVERY GAME, game after game, during the course of play.

     Chopper two-hopper - the ball has been hit and bounced twice to an infielder. Make it a chopper one hopper if it bounces once.

    He gone -the opposition batter just struck out, or was thrown out trying to steal. If he struck out on a fast ball it'll be "He gone, GAS."

    Stay fair - he's telling a flyball hit by a Sox player to land in the seats and be a home run. Or he is telling a popup hit by an opposing batter to stay in play so a Sox player can catch it. This is followed with It will or It won't, depending on what it does.

    A flyball hit by a Sox player that has a chance to be a home run will be told to Stretch - stretch! and if it is a home run you will get the He looks up, you can put it on the booooooooooaaard... YES! Which is sometimes followed by Mercy.

    Dad gum it - whatever happened didn't go well for the Sox.

    The dreaded lead-off walk - this is when the Sox walk the lead-off batter in an inning. It is said with ever-increasing frustration the more it happens, even if it is happening over the course of several games.

    Grab some bench - A secondary term to he gone.

    We got a man there - One of the Sox caught a fly ball.

    They got a man there - one of the other guys catches a fly ball. The problem with this is that every once in a while this is how an absolutely fantastic catch will be reported. Something like that just happened a few days ago. The opposing center fielder made a marvelous catch, and that had to be stressed by Steve Stone because all Hawk said was They got a man there.

    That's a hang whiffle - I'm not totally sure what that means. It's an easy line drive or play for the fielder, from the look of things. I think it has something to do with a wiffle ball? Who knows.

    Come on, ball four base hit - another enigma, always said when a Sox batter has three balls in the count. It is probably an exhortation to either have the next pitch be ball four or a hit. Or something like that.

    He had a cookie there - the batter missed hitting a presumably hittable pitch. Sometimes followed by He just missed it.

    Don't stop now boys - the Sox have had two hits in a row, or are in the midst of a rally.

    In all my years of baseball going on to the better part of five decades - self-explanatory.

    He's in the cat bird seat - the Sox batter has two or more balls than he has strikes in the count.

    Take your time - the Sox are about to complete a fielding double play

    (When this ball comes down) or, by itself stand-alone, This ball game is o-vah - which he's had to amend to This ball game is o... a booble. We got a man on first. Mercy twice in the last three days. Technically the other day we had a full-fledged When this ball comes down this ball game will be o... HE DROPPED IT!

    Now in and of themselves these are all kind of cute. You pepper them into the regular broadcast and you have a touch of famed broadcasters like Red Barber or Dizzy Dean. Colorful. No problem. Except what I just gave you is 90% of the broadcast. Every day. day after day after day.


    And in the last week this script has been punctuated by deep sighs, crest-fallen moans and long, dead. silences.

    By all personal accounts Ken Harrelson is a truly good man. A great guy. A supremely loyal friend. Somebody you can count on to have your back. A man of time-tested virtues and personal honor. And I forgive him for rooting for the home team when he broadcasts a game - that's what a home market does. But he's just not a very good announcer.

    It's too push-button. And when you marry clinical depression with push-button play-by=play, you get zero interest and TVs getting turned off left and right.

    And that's a hang wiffle.

    You be the judge... This is a pro-Hawk video, obviously. And it can be cute. Unless you hear it every damn day.  Then it's impossible to live with. But you tell me. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'. Mercy...

    September 24, 2012

    O You Have To Be Faster Than That

    Yesterday I set down the full length version of the new movie "We Are Legion." Really a documentary about the activities of Anonymous from its earliest embryonic beginnings (The Cult Of The Dead Cow), through 4chan, the take down of white supremacist Hal Turner, the battle with the Church of Scientology, and on through the Wikileaks episode as well as their participation in the Arab Spring... and a little beyond that. My God, there's like OVER 9000 things! Well that full length version isn't available any more but I still have the trailer. But you guys are going to have to be quicker on the draw if you want the benefits of the internet, like, y'know? Here's a 4 minute taste of a really good flick... And here's the web site for the documentary where you can see extra clips, find out if it is playing near you, awards, reviews, and all that good movie stuff. Why, it has even earned four stars at IMDB. I disagree with the assessment by one of the interviewees about the age group here being 17-35. Just sayin.

    September 14, 2012

    Our Own Little Home Grown Taliban

    What do you think of these quotes?

    "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Islam."

    "Politicians who do not use the Qur'an to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office."

    "The long-term goal of Muslims in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of Allah by submitting to Him and publicly admitting the shahada must be denied citizenship."

    "The Qur'an is the unaltered word of Allah. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc."

    "Our goal must be simple. We must have a Muslim nation built on Allah's law, on the edicts laid out by sharia. No apologies."

    "Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Islam and that is the truth that makes men free."

    Sounds like the kind of Muslim "fundamentalist" that truly scares the bejesus out of people doesn't it? One can just picture the Taliban, or some raving Muslim cleric ranting away on YouTube, saying these kinds of things. It's true. That's what theocracy would look like, friends. And it isn't pretty. It's also barely religious in any positive sense of the word. It's downright nasty.

    But y'know what? I fooled you. Bwa hahahahaha. None of this was said by a lunatic Muslim cleric or the Taliban or any such thing.

    These are direct quotes from Americans. I just changed the religion...
    Here are the actual quotes, and the wonderful people who said them.

    "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity." Ann Coulter

    "Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in office." Beverly LaHaye (Concerned Women for America)

    "The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church's public marks of the covenant–baptism and holy communion–must be denied citizenship." Gary North (Institute for Christian Economics)

    "The Bible is the inerrant ... word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc." Jerry Falwell

    "Our goal must be simple. We must have a Christian nation built on God's law, on the ten Commandments. No apologies." Randall Terry (Operation Rescue)

    "Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free." Pat Buchanan

    I think it is kind of enlightening. Or sad. I can't decide which. But what's the difference between Pat Robertson and Mullah Omar except that the Mullah is a lot more willing to use his guns than Pat is. So far. I mean that's a question still out there isn't it? I can't be the only one wondering why the reactionaries in this country want to make it easier to get a gun than go vote.

    We need to maintain the secular nature of our laws and government. A person's religious ideals are perfectly correct when applied to their conscience. But laws must protect everyone. Not just rich Christians.

    This all came to me listening to the news from the Middle East, where all these (probably not well educated) pissed off people have been storming our embassies because some goof ball pushed their buttons. It fostered a lot of thought, and led me to announce for secularism. It's a long story.

    That's why I joined up with these guys today.

    The best way to protect religious freedom is to have a secular government. You can be a religionist in a secular government. But you can't be a secularist in a theocracy. That's all there need be said.

    September 12, 2012


    I let the Sept 11 stuff go by for the first time in 11 years. But I didn't want to say anything one way or the other because though I think it is time to move on that's not the same as saying forget about it. But the way things are in this stupid country all you have to say is "we need to move on" from 911 and a host of bozos will be on your case calling you down and saying we should never forget. So I didn't play.

    Yesterday I took the day off work and pretty much just hid in my office. I've been having a lot of headaches lately and then the workmen started pounding and sawing and dumping yesterday morning. Now - as you know - I work overnight. So I go to bed say maybe 6:30-7:30 in the AM. And by 8 AM there was a crew building something and sleep was not going to happen. Got worse because I agitated myself over it. You know how that goes. If I'd have stayed calm I'd have been alright, but it was like I decided to let it bug me. So it did. I have to stop that shit.

    Well I have to go in tonight because the bigger plan was to cash in my unused sick time check at the end of the year. An extra week's pay. So, yeah, that's not going to happen.

    We've been trapping animals in our yard. Possums. They were living under our deck. $165 for the guy to come out and set traps, and then $55 per captured animal. They hauled away two, and the traps have been empty for two days now. So that's probably it for Mr and Mrs O'Possum. Now I have a project this weekend of animal proofing the bottom of the deck. They dug in under one part fairly well. No rest for the wicked I guess.

    Our youngest daughter is getting married next year. That's cool news. So I have to come up with one more wedding toast. Not one of my favorite things. Both Jordan's father and I have been suggesting we just give them money and they elope. It's not like it would be a horrible thing, they've both been living on their own for years and are in their 30's. But, you know, it's a big deal for them. What are you gonna do.

    I am stuck in a great big huge damn rut. Absolutely nothing is reaching me. Dynamite please...

    September 07, 2012

    Things I Should Have Learned

    Isn't Gibraltar pretty? Wish my family and I lived there right now, just to get away from the States for a long long time. I'm not too in love with America right now. We must look so totally stupid to the rest of the world sometimes.

    I learned a lot of things in high school. One of the things I learned, and then forgot, and then learned again, recently, is that being strident about the issues of the day gets you three things:

    1. A few extra credit points with people who already believe as you do.

    2. Added resolve on the part of the people who disagree with you.

    3. Absolutely no gain whatsoever among the people you'd like to convince of your viewpoint.

    This probably isn't axiomatic or anything, and so there's holes in this in a few places I'm guessing, but it seems intuitive don't you think?

    In a few billion years the sun will turn into a red giant. And when it does that its outer atmosphere will be exactly in the perfect place to burn off our seas and turn Earth into a cinder. When that happens, I ask you, who is going to remember how you voted in 2012 AD and why? Huh? Who? ANSWER ME.

    Someday you're going to turn around and you'll be dead. What does all this angst and anger have to do with anything when your dead eh? Answer me that one. What? You made a couple points and won an argument or three and looked so very clever and now you're dead. So big deal. What was that all for?

    Over the past few months I've been going through somewhat of a minor spiritual crisis. I'm having big problems with an ethical construct I made for myself and how it relates to philosophy and outlook and my relationship to the whatsis and so forth. But I pulled out of it a few days ago and I'm okay. Nice of you to ask.

    I have been guilty of what we call, in the Quaker faith, "outrunning my guide." Another phrase we use for it is "going off your watch." You can read in one of the old journals, one Quaker is watching another Quaker get in an argument and it gets all heated and wild and bad words are said and nothing of value is gained. Later as the two Quaker buddies walked away down the road, the observer leans over to the combatant and says "thee was off thy watch there for a minute, friend."

    It's a thing where your actions get too far ahead of your spiritual discernment. You went a little goofy. Maybe you cranked on someone a little too hard. Those are all against the ethic we're supposed to be carrying around with us. "Thy neighbor as thyself" and all that.

    Anyway I've been guilty of that. A lot. And hopefully I have it all back under control. It's difficult, though, in this rancid political climate, being surrounded by people who seem intent on being jerks to one another.

    I've been writing a thing, and haven't said anything about it (and won't say any more than this), that is a lot different than anything I've done before. And I've found that when I have run ahead of my guide, or have been "off my watch", I haven't been able to write for it at all. Then, when I get centered again, it restarts and flows. It has everything going against it. The protagonist is a young Muslim, it takes place in a country not many people have ever heard of, and there's a talking hyena who grants wishes and steals camels. Yeah. Well. Anyway...

    Like I said not my usual stuff. And I've been working on it since late winter. You know Faiqa Khan? She's seen parts of it, just as a checker. You can ask her more about it next time you see her. But the point is when I am unsettled I can't write it. When I'm fighting politics or getting all worked up about stuff I can't do it at all. I have to be centered. And to be centered means I have to be on my watch. This is mostly because the novel needs a rational person telling it. So it's been necessary to not get nasty with people. It's why I regret some of the arguments I've been in. Stifles the work.

    Oh hi... I have no idea what this post is about anymore.

    Never mind. Here's Charlize...

    August 13, 2012


    Well my wife and I went to see the Meryl Streep movie "Hope Springs." Not my kind of movie but I owed one for taking her to see Moneyball and, besides, I can watch Meryl do her work any time & not have a problem with it. My take on the flick? Spots - like the blowjob in the movie theater? - were really, no really, funny. Some segments were dead serious and required true actors at their craft. I got a kick out of the trills of nervous laughter coming from our suburban over-50 audience in places that... really?... was that funny or did it just hit home with you and the only thing you can do is giggle? So yeah, a pretty insightful flick with some very skilled players. If you're under 50, though, I'd pass. There are things that are geared for us oldsters that I'm afraid people under 50 just wouldn't be ready for. Not ready for because they're not going to admit that, why yes, these things could happen to me at some point. So unless you're in this age group go home and screw your brains out instead. That will be much more fun for you. But when you want to get to older people issues that are pretty universal, get this DVD. A revelation to me is that Tommy Lee Jones, a very good actor, looked kind of old and wrinkly to me in this movie, but my wife said - and Streep also mentioned in an interview - that he's still pretty hot to them. Go figure. At least I'm happy to report that the old white guy isn't the whole problem. It takes two to crank up bad marriage juju and I'm glad they explored that. Us old white guys are getting kind of tired of being the stupid TV Dad, the cranky stereotyped Grampa, and the problem husband who is the problem. Everybody had issues, and that was refreshing and gloriously grown-up to see. So kudos to that aspect of the flick.

    I get very embarrassed when I look at things like my last blog post where I unleash the venom and just let it fly like that. It isn't healthy and I'm not even sure it isn't just me play-acting at shit. I've been trying for a long time to be well-reasoned and calm and judicious and fair. And I'm working on it, I really am. The thing is I still also do that even when not on the blog, like in real life and all. And that just is not cool, and I know it. But that's the kind of post that makes me want to delete the blog altogether.

    It looks very likely that I'll be 60 years old in 14 months. How about that? No I don't feel it at all, nor do I believe that I think it either. I hope all of you who are not close to that age feel like I do when you get here. But next year we're thinking of a trip to wine country in California. And one of the things I'm thinking of is an open-air cockpit biplane ride - which has been on my "bucket list" since forever. I've always had a fascination with World War I aircraft and this would be as close as I'll get to it I guess. I mean, barring, you know, slipping through a heretofore undetected wormhole in the space-time continuum and ending up in Paris when it's 1915 and I'm like, you know, 20 years old and all.

    Well I've been to 2 White Sox games this month and they won both. I'm going to see the Yankees on the 20th with a good friend of mine who is from the Bronx and grew up a couple blocks from Jerome Ave and saw DiMaggio play. Last time we went (his son sends him tickets to the Sox game when the Yankees are in town as a Father's Day gift, so I get to go free... see how that works?) the White Sox won something like 14-3 and he was as mad as a wet hen. I'm hoping for more moist fowl again in a couple weeks. Then on the Friday following I'm going YET AGAIN to see the Sox play Seattle. Nobody expected the Sox to be in this position, and I still have my doubts about how far they can go, but it's been a remarkable year for lots of reasons on the South Side. That's all a fan can ask for.

    I've got one week of work left and them I'm on vacation for a week, during which I will work harder on my house projects than I do at work when working. Some vacation. But I'm kinda glad I can still do it.

    And - hey - I've got a Farco'n MOUNTAIN of submissions to get to for Thrice #6. Everybody wants to be my baby...

    Oh hey, look who is back...

    August 06, 2012

    Bullshit Calling

    To the tune of ...

    First Lite, then HEAVY.

    Miller Lite Punch Top Can - Wow, how'z about that for fresh thinking and innovation? Aren't we lucky to be living in the modern era? Dude... anyone with any age on them remembers when there was a can, a two-ended can-opener (one end sharp for cans, one end rounded for bottles), and a mouth. This was before the "pop-top" can. There were no pull rings back in the day. You opened one part of the can with the pointed end of the opener, turned it around, and did the same on the opposite side of the top. Then you drank it. What's old is new I guess. And the beer inside, in this case Miller Lite, still sucks.

    Sikhs and Fast Food - I guess conservatives are too busy eating at Chick Fellatio to notice how their rhetoric and general bullshit act as an enabler for trailer trash to go shooting innocent people just because they look different. Well, we don't want to alienate them too much, we need their votes in November, right guys?

    Presidents As Mass Murderers - Lost in the feel good about our first black President, whom I was happy to vote for the first time around NOT for his policies but as a cultural necessity and signpost, we have now "normalized extra-judicial murder" and nobody cares. The facts aren't hidden, there isn't any conspiracy of silence, the facts are right there in front of us. We know the level of drone attacks and our government agencies admit the collateral damage as well as the "unavoidable loss of innocent life." It's in the news - we just don't give a shit. President Obama should be called up on war crimes but he won't. What the hell is wrong with us? Has anyone bothered to count the number of people in the Muslim world that this tactic is going to radicalize? This has now gone beyond the point of being a "solution" and is now becoming a root cause of continuance. Nice going Mr. President, thanks for the next two decades of de facto war you just gave us.

    Catholic Bishops Join With Pat Robertson, Trailer Trash, and Libertarians - This, by the way, is the coalition that defeats President Obama in November, in case you wanted to know. I work in a print shop where 99.99% of the material we produce is Catholic church bulletins. You know, the happy, joyous, all-knowing infallible intransigence of the child molesting closet Queens that work for the bishop of Rome. The idea that they and their priestly minions are there to serve the poor and needy and those in need of solace and instruction can hereby be just tossed out. That's just a bullshit idea. I read on a weekly basis the vile venom that comes from the pens of these halfwits who masquerade as "religious authority," and can tell you from personal experience that there are some mean-spirited shit weavers in those ranks. Not everyone, of course, but I've read enough pastors who think that the sex-abuse scandals are all a product of "the media" (whatever the hell that is, really), that President Obama is at war with them, and that Catholics who do not tow the straight Catholic line are "Quislings" to know why this is the same culture that supported Franco against the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. There's one particular pastor in Union, MO I can't wait to read every week. He is particularly vicious against anyone who opposes him - and says so right in between his calls for brotherly love. But - oh my - that's Rush Limbaugh country. Well hey he's got to protect his donation base, y'know?

    I went to the ballgame this Sunday with my daughters. The White Sox won 4-2. I wish we didn't have to listen to "God Bless America" in the 7th inning at every game. It's a stupid idea with a dumb sentiment. I stand so as not to draw attention to the hypocrisy we run on. Upsets the patrons, you know.

    Hi FBI, btw, how you doon?

    July 20, 2012

    Our 5th Issue

    Here's where you can get your free download of Thrice Fiction. And things are going quite well there, thank you for asking. The publication, I feel, has grown up a lot in the year and 2/3 it has been in existence, and it is exciting to see independent reviews of our work being published out there without us having to prompt anybody.

    The amount of readers we're collecting is kind of astonishing to both Dave and I. Around 5,000 independent downloads of the last issue (#4) took us both by surprise. But that's why we are both committed to keeping the downloads FREE.

    Equally astonishing is the location of readers and contributors. In just over a year we have been read in numerous countries and hosted writers from Ireland, Germany, Wales and - by the look of some of them - the Moon. Plus much more.

    There's a lot going on in issue #5, not the least of which is a showing for an art form known as "micro fiction." Micro Fiction is pretty cool because it's a story told in the barest possible amount of words. The idea is to generate a reaction in the mind of the reader to where they are filling the "blank space" with things left unsaid on their own. It distills a story to maybe three sentences and the main thing is evocation. Really good micro fiction evokes a reaction in the mind of the reader. Really BAD micro fiction is a real hot mess. It is NOT easy to create, but when it is done well - well, why not take a look at the samples we have in #5 and see for yourself what I mean.

    I truly believe the artwork is getting better and better with each passing issue. Dave Simmer has a very good article on his blog about the background and idea to the art work in #5 here.

    And in just a few days the submissions will come open for issue #6 due out in November. With each passing issue the amount of submissions increases remarkably. And that's a good thing. I get to pick only the best of what we have been given. It's a great job for a picky sumbitch like me.

    But that happens August 1 - so there's still some time for a few cocktails...

    July 13, 2012

    The Spider's 31st Page

    I've been nudged to come out of hiding and fill you in on what's going on. Since the audience for this thing has spiraled down to a dwindling handful I kind of didn't see the point of it, but it was nice that somebody wanted to know so here I am.

    Someone a few years back asked me what my tattoo meant. I got it in Corpus Christi, Texas a zillion years ago and I like to make it a mystery so the answer to the question is that you'll have to read page 31 in the Spider. Good luck working that out.

    Basically I've been trying to practice what I'm preaching, and cutting back on the accumulation of shit I own. The other week I cleared out my closet and gave most of my clothes away to Amvets (American War Veterans, it's like Goodwill). Two big garbage bags and two suitcases. I'm down to a human-sized usable closet now. But my God the junk I had that I hadn't even worn in so many years! I have also been slowly clearing out the black-hole aspect of my office here at home. Why, exactly, do I need bank statements from twelve years ago again?

    I go to the checkout counter that has a person in it whenever I go to the store - which isn't all that often. I took a look at my bookmarks online and poofed a dozen or so. I went back to my cell phone and returned to the factory settings so I could generally declutter it from the accumulated garbage it had on it. I am now the proud owner of absolutely ZERO "apps." I don't even like the word "apps" (never did), so why did I bother with them in the first place?

    I've also killed the GPS tracking function, and basically what I have now is a phone, dammit. Just like it's supposed to be. Nobody calls me on the damn thing anyway so I don't even know why I have it, exactly. I used to like driving in my car and knowing that for a half hour or so the nobody that never calls can't call even if they wanted to anymore. What?

    And I've been shying away from the internet more and more.

    There isn't a big point about it or anything, outside of the fact that I'm avoiding the election season like the plague because I hate everybody now, in case you hadn't noticed; and I really don't want to even hear any of that bullshit anymore. I can't see an actual use for it, so I'm tossing it out like a bag of old clothes. What's the difference who wins? They don't care about you. Wake the hell up.

    I did recently spend a glorious day with my wife and oldest granddaughter Emma at the zoo this past Monday. Emma is about to turn 9 and she is really turning out to be a darling young lady. She was so well behaved and polite to us and people in general I wanted to just hug her up. I hope the sad old world doesn't turn her bright disposition into the same degenerated muck you don't have to go too far down the street to see. I hope she can stay as natural and unaffected as she is, God willing.

    And the youngest granddaughter (Sophie) is just about to turn 9 months and has become a champion crawler baby who laughs when you say ah-choo and when she's over at our house likes to be fed while watching my wife's parakeet fuss around in its cage. She gets transfixed by that goofy bird.

    The tomatoes in the garden are tasty but not very plentiful. I have watered them every day but this oppressive weather has stunted them, I think. What's there (from what I've tasted) is going to exactly be that "full" homegrown taste that only homegrown tomatoes can be like, but there just isn't going to be a whole lot of them.

    No I'm not turning into nature boy. Though I've spent the summer weeding out food from my diet that contains bad stuff like too much salt, high fructose corn syrup, fat and additives. I'm not a full-on 100% with that and I don't think I ever will be able to do that, but I can sense a change just within my self by watching that kind of thing.

    So that's what I've been doing. I'm going to go to 4 (count 'em) FOUR White Sox games this August. Angels, A's, Yankees and Mariners. That should be fun.

    Outside of that we're seeing about planning a big trip to California next year. In 2013 we will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary and then later that year I will hit the big 6-0. And in no way do I feel like I'm pushing 60. No way at all.

    And hey Thrice is coming due in the next week or so. If you've missed a few issues you've missed a lot.

    That's pretty much it.

    So here's a musical interlude with Muriel Anderson. I think I've posted her work before. She's the renowned guitarist who grew up in our Quaker Meeting. Her Mom and Dad still attend and I did see her attend also once or twice in the past seven years or so but I never spoke with her. Celebrities don't come to silent worship to be fawned over or bothered, they come to experience the quiet and peace that happens when a room full of Quakers get going, doing... well... nothing, basically. Anyway here's Muriel...

    June 25, 2012

    We're Doing It To Ourselves

    We're not thinking about it, I can tell. We give it lip service, if that, and go our merry way. We're not going to change, and so whatever I'm saying won't mean much. Our own convenience means more than the bigger picture. We don't like libertarians, but we've been influenced by them just the same, because "it's not my problem" (the foundation of libertarian ethics) has moved into the central control booth in our lives. But hear me out.

    We do our banking online. It not only exposes us to some degree of vulnerability, but it means less cashiers at the window, and less associates at the desks to work with. Bank doesn't have to hire as many people. Jobs are lost.

    We do our bill paying online. It not only exposes us to some degree of vulnerability (I've had to cancel or change accounts for three credit card already, and it happens with regularity everywhere), it also means less people have to process the mail. No need for all these people opening envelopes. No need for all these people to process checks. No need for printers to print checks. No need for stamps. No need for the people who print stamps or sell them at the window of the post office. No need for the post office to have so many people. Jobs are lost.

    They say "if I pay my bills online I am saving trees." But if you have any bills you pay by mail, just look at the little recycled symbol almost everywhere. Virtually no bills and billings are printed on "new" paper. The "save a tree" argument is bogus.

    We buy things online. There still has to be someone to pack the order, ship it and deliver it. But who needs people at the counter? When was the last time you were at a mall or a commercial district? When you were there, did you notice how many people aren't behind the counters? Those jobs are gone.

    Add this to the political climate and you have a problem. The big move is now to reduce "government spending" (not the military, of course, that would be unpatriotic), which will translate into cutting back government hours, government programs, and the people who run and administer them. Jobs will be lost. And the vicious, mean-spirited conservative will look at people from the Occupy movement and snarl "get a job." Exactly where that job is, however, remains a mystery.

    We'd love to find someone to blame. But I think we're just doing it to ourselves.

    There's a bit about public works in here...

    Recorded during the Bush Presidency.

    June 11, 2012

    Anarchism and the Computer Age

    "Anarchist Women of Spain"

    There's more to "anarchism" than meets the eye. It isn't just a matter of protesting and eventually not participating in an election wherein you get a choice between two different brands of control over many aspects of your life, it is also a matter of conscience and observation.

    I've mentioned before about an old friend of mine in Arizona named Fred Woodworth. He's the guy who has been continuously publishing the anarchist zine The Match! since 1969, and we even got a small mention in the Spring 2012 issue (so now I'm probably on a hundred different watch lists I guess... as if the Scientologists didn't already have me there).

    But Fred is off the grid, as I mentioned, meaning he had brought a good healthy dose of anarchic skepticism about the net, and I thought it might be provoking to copy him here. Maybe provide some interesting reading as opposed to my usual tripe.

    Okay, before you throw this magazine out in disgust, read on for just a moment.

    Try to recall life of several decades ago. The activities carried out in the course of a day involved dozens, perhaps hundreds, of disparate operations: playing a record, taking a picture, paying a bill, conferring with an associate or friend, seeing a movie, writing a letter, going to the library or bookstore, doing homework, setting up a dental appointment, reading a newspaper, writing a comment for publication in the paper...

    To do all these things you went to a lot of places, moved about, functioned diversely in and all over your town and city. More and more today, though, all of that human scope is being compressed down and moved in and out of your home on a couple of small wires (or a fiberoptic cable). How much easier this is for someone who might want to, and who has the power to, watch and control.

    Pay attention to the routine news reports, and a phrase will begin to stand out in many of the accounts of arrests, investigations, etc.: "Authorities seized his computer" or "have started looking at his home computer files..." The presumption, and it is probably accurate, is that this accused person's entire legal existence is stored in one small box. They don't have to hunt around, go to the bank, bookstore, library, school, trashcan - they just have to grab this one little box.

    There, everything resides: political affiliations, tastes in women (or men). If a person has made a disapproved or unwise comment or thought about or discussed some illegal act, it will be easily possible to both discover and prove that fact - something that would have demanded, in most cases, a stupendous and paralyzingly daunting amount of effort just a few years ago. Thus it is no accident (italics are Woodworth's) there is such a relentless push to force all life into this digital regimentation. Here it's not the normal climate just yet, although it's approaching that condition fast, and countless misguided enthusiasts for the new controlling technology seem to work tirelessly to cajole hold outs to get with the program. They're like dopers at a party where someone declines a joint - almost personally offended.

    Where this has or should have significance for anarchists is in the fact that a free society cannot possibly exist under circumstances in which so much of your life passes through a cable smaller than a pencil and resides in a box smaller than a suitcase.

    As a complete outsider only observing this horror from a distance, I can nonetheless imagine how hard it probably is for anyone to break such an addiction. Still, I urge you to try to do so.

    Begin by resolving to draw the line at any further incursions. SEE the pattern - the "twitters", the Facebooks, the MySpace so-called pages, the "chat rooms" ad infinitum as a series that will not stop. They are a constantly escalating takeover of your humanity.

    Move back down the scale; try consciously to use the computer and internet for less and less. If you can eventually break the habit entirely, good, though I'm not saying computers are somehow mystically evil. If you can get their use down to a small reasonable level, that's good too (though the moneyed interests and misguided pushers will never be content to let you alone at that low involvement).

    Even if everyone reading this dropped out of the modern obsession next week it probably wouldn't make much difference; but on the other hand a vast social healing has to start somewhere - if it isn't too late already.

    Fred Woodworth

    And by the way, if you like good reading, that constitutes barely one page of the Spring issue, which consists of 71 pages. Well worth the time.

    But I call that food for thought, Fred (not that he'd ever be reading this). I've never liked online banking, for instance. It just seems too easy to get to for anyone determined enough. I know some people for whom that would be a game just to see if they could do it.

    My growing suspicion of the internet is tempered by the knowledge that at least one evil cult has been ruined by the device, and yet my involvement with that is easily traceable.