Wednesday, April 30, 2003


She rocks.

I have been surprised at how Dubyah and the gang managed to take a minority government, put in office under dubious circumstances, and weather a worldwide economic downturn, a massive terrorist attack, a wacky response to said attack, a series of scandals, a flawed handling of the post-war business in Afghanistan, and a gynormous diplomatic breakdown and still be relatively popular. If I had a hat, I suppose I'd tip it out of grudging respect.

I can't help but wonder, though, how Karl Rove will spin the recently announced surrender of the US to the number one demand made by Osama bin Laden. You do remember bin Laden, right? Do you remember what he said he wanted firstest and mostest in the whole wide world? Think hard! Got it? Ok. So he's won. Really. Terrorism has triumphed.


[chirp. chirp. chirp.] < that's the sound of crickets.

I hear (other than the sound of crickets) the late, great Sun Ra's Intergalactic Arkestra jamming on "State Street Chicago".

Sun Ra, by the way, was from another planet. And also Birmingham.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I'm grading a quiz. It is the sort of quiz I like to give (insofar as I like to give quizzes at all). The students had read a piece by Hans Ko hn, another by Liah Green feld, and another by Eric Hobs bawm in a chapter called "Nationalism in Europe" (in the Oxford U Press book called "Nationalism).

Question 1: Explain Ko hn.
Question 2: Explain Green feld.
Question 3: Explain Hobs bawm.
Question 4: What do you NOT understand? (be specific)

[I have monkeyed with the authors' names to avoid googling, if possible]

I lurrrrve big open questions like that. It gives the students room to move around. It also keeps them on their toes and makes them think (I reckon) and be less sure of themselves. By the same token, it is clear to them that they needn't worry so much about a "right" answer, as I've made it clear I'm no big fan of the concept.

One result of this quiz is that many of the students I *thought* had things more or less together have overthought and talked about everything BUT the points of the pieces. Several students who normally give off a vibe of not getting it, however, have NAILED this. I imagine they thought "I really don't understand what's going on here. All I see is THIS." And of course, the THIS they picked was exactly the point of the piece! (forrest/trees thing, I think).

I hear, as I blog, "On Green Dolphin Street" by Chick Corea, follwed by "Diamonds and Pearls" by Prince and the NPG.

I'm looking for something, and my search led me to the official website of a small, not-for-tourists town (not that they don't welcome tourists, but they just don't get many) in Mexico. The site plays a musak version of "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac, for some strange (but cool) reason. CLICK

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Did I ever tell you this? If I were to jump off the front of my balcon, I'd land in an avocado tree. Funky.

I have papers to grade, but lack the brains to grade them.

I hear "Feel Like Makin' Love" by Ned Gerblansky.

I am aware of, but have neglected to mention the fact that my .mx email address thinks it is "full" and will no longer cough up the goods. My massive i.t. staff is on the case.

In the mean time, if you are trying to reach me, try my hotmail.


I hear Supertramp "Hide in Your Shell".

Birgit and I just saw the movie JOHNNY ENGLISH. It will, apparently, not be released in the US until July. When it comes out wherever you are you should see it IF:

-- you think Rowan Atkinson is funny
-- you have seen enough James Bond movies to catch references to them

If you don't fit into either of those categories, you suck. You might enjoy it anyway because John Malkovitch (one actor who I wish would keep his mouth shut when not talking movies, given his ugly talk about Robert Fisk) plays the bad guy REALLY WELL: he does a hillariously (and I'm sure intentionally) bad French accent.

I hear, as I blog, crickets and stuff and mariachi music wafting up from a nearby party.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

The next song on the playlist is too rich to pass up a blog:

Wield the Spade, by Oysterhead

"Barber, get this mirror cleaned. I'm troubled by the face I see before me. As you shave our nation's face, keep a steady hand. Listen to these words which soon will ring across the land: Wield the spade! Ready the blade! Sacrifices must be made!

There are many fools who dare propose imposing limits on my power. Those ungrateful, who've been swayed by intellectuals in their ivory towers. They will pay for crimes that God and I cannot allow: some before the firing squad and some behind the plow."

PREACH ON Stewart Copeland!

OH DUDE! how I wish I spoke more French (which is to say, a measurable amount of French).

The US government can suck my ass. NO! I've decided that would be too good for them.

This is precisely the sort of news that confirms my lack of interest in moving back to the States. Not that it is new, of course. You realize that this is a vivid reflection of Dubyah's fancy-pants education: it is foreign policy a la fratboy.

The good news: when Dubyah talks about WMDs in France, we can know he's not lying.

I hear, as I blog, "Downeaster Alexa" by Billy Joel. Not inappropriate, given the state of the States.

Friday, April 25, 2003

This Guardian article talks about UK's Minister (for the) Defense (of the "special relationship") Geoff Hoon and how he and others in the British government have some 'splainin' to do regarding the continuing failure of those Iraqi WMDs to reveal themselves. It is a good article.

On a side note: "Hoon" is a name that makes me snicker, as it reminds me of a component of the slang of my youth. When I was a child, I and others like me used the word "hoon" to emphasize speed, as in "he hooned it to first base". I have no idea what the origins of that word are, and can't be bothered to find out, but I think Blair had better hoon it on the "evidence", lest his revived political fortunes die a swift death.

NEW FEATURE on this blog: I will, from now on, state what I am listening to at the moment of posting. Right now I am listening to dogs bark, crickets chirp, the wind blow, and some sort of critter rustling throught the bushes under the balcony.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

The Guardian reports on Children held at Guantanamo Bay. This is, I reckon, something of a big deal. I'm of the opinion that the whole "enemy combatants" thing is a major crime, of course, so this is just a larger-than-normal drop in the ocean, from my perspective.

I would ask anyone who reads this, however, to confirm for me that I'm correct in assuming a few things about the major "source" quoted in the piece:

-- there is no such rank as Lt. Corporal in any branch of the US military
-- such a rank has never existed in the US military
-- the rank of Corporal is gone from the US army (replaced by Pvt First Class?)
-- there are still Corporals in the Marine Corps
-- even if there were such a rank in the US military, no enlisted person would be an official spokesman
-- surely we are dealing with a Lt. Colonel, here

I was thinking. This is not entirely new for me--back when I was in the [KISS] Army they called me Private Thinky--but I don't always point it out when it happens.

Anyway, here's what I was thinking about:


I was ALSO thinking about Saddam Hussein (is that weird?) and that's what causes this post.

Wasn't he supposed to have loads and loads of lookalikes? What are those poor fuckers doing now? And consider that the US military is looking for (and failing to find) the man himself, but they are also failing to find any of his many (mythical?) lookalikes! Maybe they all (including the man himself) all wore "Mission: Impossible [the movie(s)]" style masks and have switched over to their Bashar Assad masks. Or maybe Jaques Chirac.

The "Fighting Hellfish" episode of "The Simpsons" is on (good job I know the ep. well, since it is in Spanish).

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Creed Fans Sue Band Over Show

-- look at the ticket price (!)
-- there are Creed fans?
-- have these people never heard of the Doors? Clearly, no, otherwise they wouldn't have paid to seed Creed
-- a LAWSUIT? the fuck?
-- I should sue someone for putting the thought of a Creed concert into my head.

For years I've endured ignorant criticism of my hobby: breaking into peoples' homes and prying the teeth from their sleeping toddlers. Well who is crazy NOW?

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Christopher Hitchens Forcibly Removed From Trailer Park After Drunken Confrontation With Common-Law Wife

This is the sort of writing that drove me out of the newspaper business (see the bullet, in particular).

One more reminder, in case I needed one, that I need to knuckle down and figure out (or ask) how to get links up on the side of this blog came, before I left for vacation, from Chris. He and I played baseball together when I was in first grade and he was in second grade (I *think* that's when the relationship started) on a team called "the Giants" (childhood can be cruel in so many tiny ways: back then we were not only babies, but the San Francisco Giants sucked). I have a picture of us in our (entirely, except for the lettering) red uniforms.

Chris remarked on his blog, and I'll say it again here, that high school sucked. He went as far as to say that he "HATED being a kid". I didn't hate being a kid, but I don't miss being a teenager. Odd indeed that I should now enjoy teaching them. In any event, Chris is one of four people with whom I've had any sort of consistent contact since high school (there were 1500 people in our high school in any given year). Marie was my girlfriend for a while. We haven't spoken in several years (no malice, I think, just fate). Alton I lost touch with long ago. John I've not seen in years. Matt I saw over Xmess, and I've seen him often over the years. And now the welcomed return (after a brief absence) of Chris to my life. Thanks for finding me!

Help me ask Chris if he knows where Eddie Porter is!

I almost forgot: during the vacation I drove somewhere between 1900 and 2000 kilometers. Some time over the course of that drive, Birgit's dad made a decision.

He offered, this morning, the "du" form to me. He must have been impressed with my driving (or dining choices). But seriously: I met the man in 1995. That is a long courtship for a pronoun shift! He started out using "du" on me at our first meeting since he's by far my senior (and the father of my lady friend). For a while I thought my chance to be informal was just around the corner, and for the past few years I've come to suspect he'd not thought too much about it. Over the past week I slipped in an informal here and there, but always in the plural and always in rather complex sentences (so that he could pass it off as a grammatical error, rather than arrogance). I also carefully chose the ambiguous "one" construction whenever possible, as in "one could have either chicken or beef tacos". I, of course, come from a linguistic culture which long ago abandoned such courtesies as the formal/informal divide. Still, it is a BIG deal to him and I regret that this morning, when he said I could use "du", I was too ill to give the moment the drama it deserved. I'll have to figure out some way to clarify my gratitude.

Monday, April 21, 2003



As I said before, Birgit’s parents and sister came to visit. The began their journey in the US on 4 April. After landing in Atlanta, they were whisked away by my parents to Gulf Shores, Alabama (if my dad’s Grand Marquis, filled with all the luggage Delta Airlines would allow and five adults can be said to “whisk”). On the Redneck Riviera, the Goesspersons were treated to time with my aunt and uncle (who have a place there) and visits to things in the region, including Fort Morgan and some sort of naval museum in Pensacola. Later, everyone trouped up to Jefferson County, where they stayed with my parents in Gardendale. My folks arranged for a visit to a friend’s farm (Birgit’s parents come from farm families around Ruethen) and a ride on a fire engine courtesy of my dad’s former employer, the fire department of the city of Bessemer (Birgit’s dad was a longtime volunteer firefighter). The capper to the whole deal was a family shindig, which included many of my (very fertile) cousins, who pressed the Goesspersons on when and whether Birgit and I would ever marry and spawn. Shrugs all around, and rightly so, on those questions (I could have answered: marriage when it seems like something that would be of use, spawning only by accident [to borrow from the band Cracker: what the world needs now is the fruit of my loins like I need a hole in my head]).

You’ll need this information soon: 10 pesos = 1 dollar (more or less).

The Goesspersons arrived in Guadalajara on 10 April (late in the evening). On Friday we went into the city to look at old buildings. On Saturday we went to Tequila (yes: it is a town) and toured the Cuervo distillery. If you ever find yourself in Tequila, you could do worse than lunch at a restaurant on the street Juarez behind the church (I can’t remember the name).

On Sunday we drove to Patzcuaro, which is a lovely place. There we saw several things worth seeing, did a bit of touristy shopping, and ate some lovely food. I recommend the restaurant Dona Paca and the Hotel Posada de la Salud. On Monday morning we took a boat out to Isla Janitzio, which is nice, and I climbed the big statue of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. When I stuck my head up out of his fist, the wind almost took away my hat, so beware. That afternoon we had a late lunch with the in-laws of one of Birgit’s co-workers. That was really nice, as they are a really nice family, but it sucked because it took so long . . .

and therefore delayed our setting off on the drive to our next stop. Let me just put it this way: a foreigner, with limited Spanish skills, driving a totally-packed (rental) Nissan Sentra, on a 4-hour trip into the night, with no good map, for the first time, into the largest city in the world. Amazingly, nothing went wrong as we approached Mexico City and our hotel in the suburb of Tepotzotlan (Hotel Posada San Jose, with Restaurant-Bar Pepe). It was just late, and I was stressed from the drive. We arrived Monday night.

Tepotzotlan is a good place to stay if (Jeebus forbid: more on that below) you ever drive into the Mexico City area. There is a lovely (understatement) old Jesuit mission in the town which is now a museum of the viceroyalty. The church bit of it might well be the most ornate of all the churches I’ve ever visited. When it was restored in the early 1960s, 250 kilograms of paper-thin gold were used. If you’re into that sort of thing (and who isn’t?), check it out. Also, right across the street from our hotel is a bus stop where you can catch a ride (for 10 pesos) into the city. The bus ride took one hour exactly (amazingly, the return trip took exactly the same amount of time) to the subway station Cuatro Caminos. From there you can ride straight into the city center, or go a few stops, change trains, and journey to the national museum of anthropology. We did the latter. The museum is excellent. Have you ever seen the “Aztec calendar”? Probably you have. It’s that round thing with a sun and faces and stuff. It is in the museum. It is BIG.

The museum was in the morning. In the afternoon we went to the city center and looked at the ruins of the Templo Mayor (last significant bit of Aztec building left in Mex City) and the cathedral. We ate lunch in the Sanborns (a decent chain restaurant) in the oh-so-pretty Casa de Azulejos (worth a look: see the link).

Wednesday morning began with great optimism. It was then that we looked at the Jesuit dealy before setting out on what looked (on my bad map) to be a rather easy skip across the northern fringe of Mex City to our destination. We took a side road. We erred. We were pulled over by federal police, who were checking VIN numbers against a list of cars reported stolen. We passed that test. Then we came to a fork in the road. The main bit of road curved off to the right and I, thinking of it less as a turn than a curve, drove on without the aid of a blinker. We were pulled over by local cops because I had not blinked. If you have ever been to Mexico, you know what a crock of shit that is: NO ONE USES THEIR BLINKERS! I COULD FUCKING TEACH A COURSE ON ROAD COURTESY COMPARED TO MOST OF THE DRIVERS HERE! When you are pulled over for a bullshit reason like that, it means only one thing: bribe time. Even worse, we learned that our papers were not in order on the rental car. Long story short, 400 pesos (the alternative was my driver’s license or the car). Having greased the first set of palms, we moved on. Within 1/2 hour, a new set of palms was presented to us for greasing. Again with the papers for the rental car. These cops managed to explain to us that it was not bullshit: we finally understood that there was an important sticker missing from the window of the rental car (the sticker signifies that taxes had been paid on the vehicle for the year). Again the alternatives were presented and a price was agreed upon. 400 more pesos. We managed to get a note (on a piece of scrap paper: *very* unofficial, since this was a bribe situation) from these cops to the effect that we had already contributed generously to the policeman’s ball fund-drive and that all other cops should kindly allow us to keep gas money so that we could fucking get out of their fucking hellhole of a megalopolis.

Both bribes would have been more expensive had Birgit not negotiated the price down, by the way. Yes, you can haggle with corrupt policemen.

F(ucking)INALLY we got out of Mex City and into Teotihuacan, our goal. The *short* drive (30 miles or so) had taken 2.5 hours (mostly because of traffic: the cops were quite efficient by comparison). My aching ass embraced the opportunity to climb the pyramid of the sun. Look at the pictures and then make plans to visit this place. It is awesome in the original sense of that word.

Determined, as I was, to never again drive towards Mex City (did I mention that it sucks to drive there? Fly? OK. Bus? OK. Drive? NO!) we took a long detour through the state of Hidalgo. We didn’t stop in Pachuca (the capital) but it might be worth it for you: the city claims to be the original home of soccer in Mexico, as Cornish miners brought it with them. You can buy Cornish pasties there, allegedly. We drove on, instead, to the town of Ixmiquilpan. There we stayed in a decent hotel on the square next to the city hall. I can’t remember the name, but in the cafe next to it I had some excellent chilaquies.

Hidalgo is a lovely state, and we saw (nothing but) mountains, semi-desert, and farms as we drove through it, Thursday, towards Guanajuato. Thursday night and Friday night we stayed with a family in their extra rooms (we got in touch with them through a German travel book called Reise Know-How) and that was nice. Guanajuato is, quite simply, the prettiest city I’ve seen in North America. I cannot endorse it strongly enough. Go there. Now. Food? Oh yeah. Chicken in spicy cacao sauce.

Saturday morning, after a nice visit in Guanajuato, we toured two silver mines (one still in operation) and then drove back to Guadalajara.

Sunday we went to a get-together at a family home (the family of the wife of one of Birgit’s former colleagues). That was nice. The mother of the family spawned 15 children and people from the neighborhood come to her for her healing hands. I shit you not. The former colleague (visiting, with his wife, from their current home in Germany) brought his best friend along. The best friend is a trained, professional nurse-practitioner type (medical massage and what the Germans call “Krankengymnastik”, among other things) and he said that the matriarch does things that could earn her a fortune if she were to charge for them. And she’s self-taught. Pretty cool.

This morning (Monday), Birgit and her family have flown off to Cancun. They will stay on Isla Mujeres and visit Tulum and Isla Contoy among other things before Birgit flies back here and the family flies back to Germany. I have to work this week, or else I’d be with them. I should be working now, but I’m sick. I feel all Charley Brownish.

Oh and the rental car? The rental person swears she’s never had any problems of this sort before. She didn’t call us liars (which is good for her, because that would have prompted me to call the police so as to discover whether her “agency” [run out of her apartment] is legal) and she wouldn’t give us the 800 pesos (we told her 1000, expecting trouble) but she did give us an extra day for free (Sunday) and let Birgit use the car to drive to the airport (thus saving cab fare). Not so bad, in the end.

Viva Mexico!

Oh, and how goes the empire? I totally did not miss keeping up with the news for the first time in my memory.

Sunday, April 20, 2003

I'm back.

Blogger didn't post my "I'm not here" message (it rocked, too).

I wasn't here.

Scott became a doctor while I was gone.

I assume peace on earth has been achieved while I was gone. I've not yet checked.

I had some GOOD food. You all suck for not having had such good food as I.

More soon.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Birgit's parents and sister are here.

We've formed a coalition of the willing and are off to liberate central Mexico from it's cruel (but tasty) food. Support us.

If I don't see you in time, Happy Dead (or is he?) Jeebus Day!

Friday, April 11, 2003

Here's a well-done article. I suspect that, to it, Jimmy Carter says YES!, too.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

We are having (a smattering of) rain! I really, genuinely, truly cannot remember the last time I saw rain here (I saw some in Alabama over the Xmess break, though).

Or maybe Jeebus is crying.


Is our short international nightmare over? I'm guessing not, but I will accept that phase one (collect underpants) has proceeded swiftly. But what of phase two? Rummy has already threatened Syria (again) so Syria will soon, no doubt, have lots of WMDs for which to account.


Color me less than optimistic about the "dancing in the streets" phenomenon, by the way. Streets were danced in, as several people have noted, back when the British army moved into Belfast. Dancing was done (in streets) when the Taliban took over in Afghanistan. More dancing when the Taliban lost power (in the same streets). Dancing all over the Congo a few years ago (in streets and other places). Dancing in various areas conquered by the Wehrmacht in 1939-41 (streets were used, in many cases). Dancing again in South Vietnam through the 60s, and another bout of dancing when the NVA moved into Saigon (which has lots of streets).

I'm no dancer. I wouldn't dance in a street, furthermore, should dancing strike me as called for. I understand, however, that some people do like to dance. [Just yesterday one of my students danced a samba in class as part of her report on Brazil. Since we were in class, and several hundred meters from anything one could reasonably call a street, the floor had to do. I don't doubt, however, that she would have danced in the street had I allowed it.] Some people, particularly people who don't have easy access to ballrooms or discos, may see the street as the next best option. I get it. I just don't *get* it.

And what of "the Arab street" (which I suggested, on my old blog, must be really long)? Dancing there? Are the streets of Iraq (upon which people seem to be dancing) part of the Arab street, or are they a network of different streets which are not connected to the Arab one? Are the streets of Iraq really the Arab side street?

By the way: the Chinese street must be super long! The Indian street, I suppose, would be almost as long (but it would depend on whether Indian Muslims would count as being on it or on the Arab street or on another street altogether [perhaps an alley, or a close]). The Mexican street (part of which I can see right now as I look off of my balcony) has lots of potholes in it. This would make dancing perilous, I think, but since I'm not a dancer I can't be sure.

The Europeans, I reckon, have a boulevard. I've seen dancing on part of it (if you can call drunken soccer fans dancers).

On another (not unrelated) note, the pulling down of statues has also taken place in Iraq (amidst much dancing, and near streets). I just saw on my landlord's BBC that the downpullers are Shi'a (how this is known, I know not). Clearly the Shi'as of Iraq have had many beefs with Cobra Commander (not least his status as a quasi Sunni) but may they not also be motivated by the thing that follows?

It is my understanding that many Muslims take very seriously an injunction against creating images which seek to replicate, in any way, the forms found in nature (to do so would be to aspire to replicate the work of God). This resulted, in the middle ages, in the emergence of the remarkable geometric patterns one finds in many mosaics and rugs (Persian and otherwise) sold in shops along the Arab street. If the people pulling down the statues were into this belief, perhaps they would have pulled down a statue of their sainted mother with just as much enthusiasm.

It is also possible that the downpullers were also frustrated non-dancers who had ya-yas they had to get out.

It is ALSO possible that they were just tickled pink by the events of the last month, and all those events which proceeded it.

Cobra Commander, I suspect, is never gonna dance again: guilty feet have got no rhythm.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Force is not enough, or is force too much?

I went to the dentist today for the first time since 1997 or 1998 (I'm not sure when it was) and got a generally clean bill of health.

I learned, however, that the technological revolution has had an impact on the dental industry in my absence. Two words: digital x-ray.

Way cool. They zapped me, and within 30 seconds the results were on the puter screen!

Not so cool: they found Saddam Hussein's WMDs stashed underneath the "temporary" crown I got back in 1996 and was too cheap to replace, so there may be some liberation in the offing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I am SOOOOO not into Madonna. I actually prefer her as an actress.

Before I go to bed, I'll just tip my cap to the Syracuse Orangepersons. They are the NCAA men's basketball champs.

This is the first year since I was a lad where I didn't pay at least a decent amount of attention to the tournament. Syracuse ALWAYS (well, almost) has choked. This year I didn't pay attention at all and Syracuse won. Coincidence?

Mind you, I have no strong feelings about the team one way or another. I'm just sayin'.

Just check out the headlines at Google News WORLD and weep with me.

Kashmir, Israel/Palestine, Cuba, Congo, Aceh, Uganda

AND Iraq

AND ebola

AND sars

sigh. Also, I just had to get off the puter for a bit (in the middle of typing this) to make an emergency "may I please borrow your car for an extended trip through mexico" phone call (and I think we all know how difficult such calls can be: the wording has to be *just* right). See, Birgit's folks and sister will be arriving soon and we were going to use a Chevy Blazer 4 door belonging to friends for the trip around Mexico (our bug being charming, but small). Turns out the Blazer is a total piece of shit (we knew that, but it has chosen this moment to remind us). So I have inquired about a largish Ford Taurus belonging to my boss. He is optimistic, and says that even if the Taurus is out (he must speak with his wife, the co-owner of the car), he's sure that his VW Fox (he's the guy who bought one) would be available. The Fox, in tandem with the Bug, would do the trick, although it would be slighly more of a pain in the ass.

And, of course, Shelley's father is ill.

BUT Steve and Stephanie had a baby. The tot is one month early, so a bit of a surprise, but healthy. The best part is that Ellie (the child) will be able to kill MacBeth, should need arise, because not only is she not a man, but she was "from [her] mother's womb untimely ripp'd."

And when I die, and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born in this world to carry on.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Of course, ther is a war on. Read Working Class Women as War Heroes.

Ok. I've now read another review of the latest doings of Captain America and am a good bit less sorry I've missed it.

Still. I'm glad Medved is pissed.

(link from Franklin Harris again)

While I'm thinking about Cap, neither review (and there is a third on Harris's blog) mentions what was going on right around the time I stopped collecting (the 80s). Cap had his card pulled, back then, because he wasn't sufficiently a tool of the US government. His argument, if I recall correctly, was that he represented IDEALS. The government's argument was that they made him what he was so they'd very much like thier costume back, thanks. So he put on a new costume, got a new shield from the Black Panther, called himself "the Captain" (yawn), and fought "Super Patriot" (hehe!).

Reminds me of why I stopped reading the thing.

Actually, not long before all of this happened Cap killed some people and it REALLY bothered him. That was a good story. The cover of one issue had Cap with a snarl on his face emptying out an uzi on someone. I copied the cover in my own hand and was well-pleased with my work.


In keeping with my brief (?) foray into nerdish asides (but with a dash of war tossed in to keep things lively) I'll mention here that back when I collected comic books my favorite was NOT

-- the X-Men. They were cool, I suppose, but I partly avoided them because my friends were all so high on them. I used whatever X-Men comics I could lay my hands on to trade for a pile of my real favorite . . .

-- which was NOT Spiderman. I always liked Spiderman, but not enough to collect his comics. Instead I traded them for comics which . . .

-- did NOT feature the Hulk. Too much rage (and I thought they were even worse, ironically, after Banner took over the brain full time). No, instead I read

-- Captain America! I've got lots of Captain America comics. I like(d) the fact that he didn't really have any powers (like Batman, but Batman was rich and belonged to DC, who burns us, precious, with their nassssty cruel Supermanses). Nope. Make Mine Marvel and Cap (and the Avengers).

I regret therefore, that I fell out of the habit. Had I kept up with things, I would have read some interesting stories AND been a tiny fleck on the burr up the ass of Michael Medved!!!

(link found via Franklin Harris)

I've been getting my war on too much, lately (pretty much every blog I've posted has been about it, in fact), so I thought I'd get my nerd on instead.

I just finished rereading Lord of the Rings for the guhzillionth time and was thinking, while basking in my nerdity, about how Peter Jackson has apparently signed on to do (yet another bloody) King Kong. He SHOULD be working on a Hobbit film!!!

It could open like this: Merry (or Pippen, or Sam) is an old hobbit sitting around with some hobbitlings. One of them says "tell us a story!" (or something to that effect) and Merry (or Pippen, or Sam) agrees to, and then reaches for the Red Book of Westmarch (or something) and starts to tell the story of "The Hobbit".

If Jackson acts quickly, he could probably get several of the same actors to reprise their roles. Merry (or P or S) at the start of the film, and then you could have McKellan as Gandalf again, Serkis as Gollum, and Matrix dude as Elrond. We may need someone new to play a younger Bilbo.

A really cool thing would be to have Rhys-Davies playing Gloin (Gimli's dad) and to have what's-his-lips make a cameo as Legolas (when the adventure takes them to the Wood Elves kingdom).

I'm just sayin. If you talk to Peter Jackson, tell him I think he should do it.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I was just reading I'm Ashamed to be British and had a few thoughts.

First off, I'm not ashamed to be American because I've never felt proud to be one. I am an American. That's enough (sometimes too much, but more on that below). I can feel shame or pride regarding my own actions or the things I have supported, but taking responsibility for whatever the government of the state in which I was born does would be as silly as taking credit for it (I think, for example, that the internet is cool, but I can't be "proud" about it, as I had nothing to do with making it happen). I will also not be ashamed of my useless brother, or proud of my impressive parents. I'm happy that I have the parents I have, and sad that I have the brother I have, but that's it.

What's really eating at me, however, is an email exchange I've been having with my parents regarding the war. My mom is somewhat confused and admits to not "know[ing] what to think." My dad is along the same lines, although he was semi-opposed to the war before it started. The problem for both of these deeply-moral and better-informed-than-their-average-fellow-citizens people is twofold.

One fold is that they REALLY want to believe that their government is doing the right thing. Dad has always had a bit of a gung-ho streak to him (he will only barely admit, with great hesitation and reservations, that he and his fellow sailors, soldiers, and airmen were horribly misused and abused by the government during the Vietnam war, for example). My folks really have a hard time accepting that members of their government would lie to them about something as important as war (not being liars themselves, they are generally trusting: witness my brother [you can't, and you shouldn't, but if you could and did you'd know what I mean]). They also don't have my background in history so they don't know that lying about this sort of thing is the rule, rather than the exception. So they just trust in their president and god and hope for the best.

The other fold is propaganda. I'm not in the US right now, and have spent very little time there since last July, so I only get a bit of second-hand experience with the depths to which the US mass media have descended. While I was in the US, for that matter, I got most of my genuine news (as I do now) from a wide variety of internet sources. Still, enough stuff has trickled down (literally) for me to get a reasonable notion of what they are hearing and reading. Basically my parents have heard little more than the official lines regarding this war and the Afghanistan war (I do what I can, but Rupert Murdoch is a mighty and fell warrior: it was only after a long and strenuous effort that I got them to vote for Nader, and that didn't seem, at the time, to involve the question of patriotism in the common sense of the word). What all this has resulted in is that my parents can only think critically with great difficulty about this. They've had the same lies and half-lies shouted at them for so long that anything contradicting those lies just doesn't fit in.

I can tell, however, from the tone of their emails (if emails have a tone) that they are struggling. They read to me like modern Winston Smiths (from "1984"), who hear little more than fiction but are gnawed at by a vague sense that somehow, something just is NOT RIGHT. They can't put their fingers on that something, however, since the "news" and commentary to which they are most often exposed has already had the memory-hole treatment.

Ignorance is not strength. Ignorance is deeply troubling.

Since I'm tossing around literary references, here's another. Every time they get a salvo of my version of the truth they are like the dude in the "Allegory of the Cave" who, having just been given the option of turning around and seeing the rest of the world, struggles with the temptation to keep his eyes focussed on the wall.

As to my remark about being American: I've said before (on another blog) that I long ago grew weary of being expected to explain/defend the US to people abroad (and I am abroad now, have spent much of the last decade abroad, and I will be abroad for the forseeable future). I do still explain, but I do not defend. How does one defend something indefensible? I'm decent in an argument, but I find it impossible to play devil's advocate on what is going on right now. I won't do it.

As I said to Scott yesterday, I'm so disgusted right now I've forgotten what it was like to be gusted.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Here's a really good essay on the war and related things: Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates.

Florida Touch Screen Voting System [DEMO]

Neal Pollack's The Maelstrom made an open call for people to make fun of Dick and Lynne Cheney today. The samples I've seen so far are way out of my league, comedy wise, but I'll have a go anyway.

The man's name is DICK. Gold does not tarnish, ladies and gentlemen.

Given his ruthless warmongering, people in more civilized times would have affectionately called him "Bloody Dick", which would have rocked. There was, incidentally, a Union general in the Civil War who had the nickname "Greasy Dick", but I can't remember more details.

Then there's the whole "he has a lot of heart attacks" angle. Huh huh huh! He's like that dude on that old commercial who said "I'm having chest pains!"

The funniest thing about Dick Cheney is that some people actually seem to trust him. That's HIfuckingLARIOUS.

And Lynne? Not so funny. Sorta creepy.

I'm so happy that I can't stop cryin' (Toby Keith song written by Sting)

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Every so often I get a notion that maybe Madonna isn't so bad after all and I can therefore join the rest of the world in thinking so. For example, I heard she was doing the James Bond theme and thought "Now's the chance! I've liked every Bond theme so far, so maybe this will be a Madonna song I can embrace." Then I heard it. Gross.

So the other day I heard she'd done an "anti-war" song (I even linked it) and thought "OK, one more chance." Then I read THIS.

Madonna is useless. I have no Madonna.

If anyone reading this thinks it is anything less than disturbing that Peter Arnett got fired, they should get their fucking heads out of their asses.

If anyone reading this is SURPRISED that NBC/General Electric (and the swarm of fascists chirping about the liberal media) have ensured that this sort of thing can happen, they should get their fucking heads out of their asses.

Tell me again why "they" hate "us".

AlterNet: Arnett Lost in the Spin Cycle

Dear Jeebus,

As much as I think a huge number of your followers are just a few cards shy of a full deck, and as much as I doubt you are what they say you are, I nevertheless pray two things of you:

1) please don't let the thing this links to be for real
2) please don't ever let the US send soldiers who look like that into battle, unless we are attacked by tribbles.

(link found on Tom Tomorrow's site)