July 2005 Archives

you can't make this stuff up

Don't ask how I found this, but per an 1860 census, a man named Dorkass Floyd once lived in South Carolina.

su-per pod!

Saturday started delightfully, became downright elegant, and then finished as stupidly as possible: I watched whales in the sun, sipped wines in the sun, and then slept drunkenly in my car. I don't know if it was my knees' or head's throbbing that woke me up first.

So I shot out to the far side of San Juan Island to see J, K, and L pods all mingling and, hopefully, to see the new baby. Success!

babyorca.jpg

As a bonus, we saw a gray whale on our way back. Minette, who had skewered me all day about the historical superiority of her photos over mine, was listening to her film wind when I snapped this. Yep. They really should put some sort of frame counter on cameras so one doesn't get taken by surprise like that.

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Mount Baker was absolutely glorious.

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happy birthday, dad

On this, what would have been my father's 70-somethingth birthday, I am very pleased to report that the bigoted, wife-beating, child-beating, child-molesting (this one's new!), cross-dressing, diploma-drooling, binge-drinking inventor of the anti-aircraft sparrow remains quite dead.

How's the weather, Dad? It's not the humidity, you know. It's the heat.

user error

I've had my fill lately of people who appear only when they want something from me. There's a rash of high school graduations back East, and relatives I've never heard from before or since are all beating me like a piñata full of cash. (When did thank-you-notes become optional, again?) Friends old and new are guilty of the same thing. Oh, they'll go through the motions of a pleasantry before the request—How are you? Seen any whales lately? Say, can you do me a big favor... But the call or email always does seem to get around to that request eventually. Lately I've experimented with ignoring one part or the other. Ignored pleasantries receive a welcome enough reception, but surprise—ignored requests reliably result in follow-up mail. Just feel the love. Makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Now I'm not naive. I know that every human relationship has an economic component, that we're in them because each party is somehow benefiting. Which I guess is my point. What's in this for me, again? Beyond the privilege of serving, I mean?

you asked for it; you got it

Percy has a bitchin' new safari hat.

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current events quiz

Can you identify this woman?

laci-peterson.jpg

Right. The late Laci Peterson. How about this one?

Right. The almost-certainly-late Natalee Holloway. How about this one?

latoyia1.jpg

Stumped, aren't you? Fidgeting uncomfortably because you know I set you up, aren't you? Don't worry; I couldn't pick her out of a lineup, either. That there is one Latoyia Figueroa, a pregnant woman from Philly who, yep, has been missing for a week now and who—despite the fact that her case echoes the Peterson situation—only now is getting the slightest trickle of media attention, now that black activists have been beating the media into a guilty white pulp for a week or so. And justifiably so. It appears that I need to amend my June 5 post—it's missing pretty white chicks who get the media all lathered.

back in black

There. I've made the font color pure, harsh black again, all because Katrina can't distinguish between white and gray. I personally think she's missin' a few rods and cones.

bugs v. daffy

daffy_bugs.jpgThe late, great Chuck Jones, principal creator of the Warner cartoons as you remember them, once wrote something about character that stuck with me. Bugs, he said, is how he likes to see himself: in control at all times, quick with a witty rejoinder, peaceful until provoked, cool. Daffy, in contrast, is how Jones probably actually is: impulsive, inept, emotional, woefully uncool but he thinks he's cool.

Invariably, this has seeped into my consciousness. I can't watch Casablanca without thinking

How I like to see myself: Rick
How I probably really am: Louie

Or in Saving Private Ryan:

How I like to see myself: Sarge (Tom Sizemore)
How I probably really am: Caparzo (Vin Diesel)
How I really hope to god I'm not: Upham (Jeremy Davies)

Or across all film characters:

How I like to see myself: still Rick
How I probably actually am: Aaron Altman (Albert Brooks' character in Broadcast News)

Your turn.


pass the sausage gravy

I have a new mission in life: to drop dead of a heart attack before the summer of 2023, when all these newborns will be shaking me down for high school graduation money all at once.

I just got off the phone with new mom Amy, who, bless her heart, only used the words "epidural" and "miracle" once each. Like many before her, she expressed unease about discussing her child with me. I can't say I don't deserve that. (The exception is Allie. "I long ago stopped giving a shit about making you unhappy. So anyway, it's so weird to have someone inside you hiccup. It's, like, so weird. You know? John? Hello?") To my self-censoring friends, allow me to take this opportunity to say "Thanks!" clarify: I'd be a pretty crappy friend if you couldn't talk about the most important thing going on in your life. And really, I want to hear about it. I want to hear about the pain, the joy, the fear, the newfound genre of love. That stuff is fascinating. And if you have something original to say—like lunatic Amy going without an epidural—bring it on. What I've railed about in this page isn't kid talk; it's unfiltered kid talk to the exclusion of all other talk.

Maybe a primer is in order. Junior shows an aptitude for drawing? Anecdote. Junior shows an aptitude for happily sitting in his own feces? Not an anecdote. Junior calls the dog and not the father "daddy?" Hilarious. Junior calls the dog "Blap!" What's the opposite of "hilarious?" Junior spits up? Not an anecdote. Junior spits up invaluable 18th century postage stamp? Anecdote. Junior doesn't like strained beets? Not an anecdote. Who does? Junior shoves strained beets down his diaper to avoid eating them, making you think he's bleeding internally and sending you hurtling down the freeway to the hospital? Excellent anecdote.

echo

Once again, I caught a couple students plagiarizing. Grotesquely. Once again, they divided themselves neatly into "sympathetic" and "evil that must be clubbed into a quivering pulp on the ground" categories for my convenience. And once again, a talented student redeemed what was otherwise one crappy week.

Whenever I pull a student aside and tell them they have an aptitude for something, the reactions always confound me. I understand gratitude, maybe some awkwardness about accepting a compliment—I really do—but the consistent level of shock is downright disturbing. They gasp. They can't make eye contact. Eyes may well up. I've even gotten a hug. And then invariably, they utter some form of "No one here's ever noticed me."

How can this be? How can brilliant students go unnoticed, unencouraged, for four years? Not to put too fine a point on it, but what the fuck are other teachers doing all day, and who's paying them to do it? I'd die without the hard-working stars. Well, not die, but I certainly wouldn't teach. As I told an overly grateful star student this week, "You're why I'm here." It rather makes me wonder why my peers are.

• • •
The teachers who pulled me aside and told me what I'm good at, who gave me timely encouragement and direction, changed my life. Andrea Lunsford, Cliff Vaida, Larry Beason, I am forever in your debt.

notoriety

Egad. If you Google "childhood photo," the picture of Armando using me as a Mexican armrest comes up on the second page. It couldn't be, say, any other picture?

kristin

Good grief. Kristin wants to be my business partner. I need this aggravation like I need a second assho—what's that? Kristin who? I've never talked about her here? Why, that's an opportunity to add another character-based entry. And just when I was hankerin' to write one—convenient, that. To the backstory!

• • •

It's 1999. I receive a garden-variety junk mail from Elan. Sent to a bunch of her friends, the questionnaire instructs me to reply-all with my response. And so I answer the questions, the last of which is "Say something nice about the person who sent you this email."

"Elan, uh, types legibly," I write and then click send. It did not take long for some chick I'd never heard of, Kristin something, to flame me. "I DON'T KNOW WHO THIS JOHN GUY IS OR WHAT HIS PROBLEMS ARE, BUT IF THAT ASSHOLE CAN'T SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT SOMEONE AS WONDERFUL AS ELAN, HE SHOULD JUST KEEP HIS BILE OUT OF MY INBOX."

I sit in my office, blinking. "WTFF?"

I flame back. She reciprocates. We take it private and flame some more, ratcheting up the invective. I deride any detail she offers up— her name, her spelling, anything at all I can get my hands on. But this psycho chick simply will not go away. Who does she think she is?! By the fifth round, I'm livid and out for blood. I finally find her on the Internet. She was an actress in "Cool As Ice" with Vanilla Ice? Perfect! Actresses are fonts of insecurity. I mock her appearance and age, neither of which I am remotely familiar with. That hardly matters. I mock her talent and career. I mock "Cool As Ice," of course. I mock her presumptive cosmetic surgery. I completely eviscerate her.

My phone rings. It's Elan. "Honey, what have you done?"

I puff out my chest, growling, "I told that flaming bitch off, that's what I've done."

"Oh. My. God. John, she's a friend and a very sweet girl and last night I told her all about our weddings and adventures and she was just trying to playfully flip you some crap and now she's very upset and you really really have to fix this."

We hang up. Dialing down from rage to abjection is not my strong suit. I stare at a blinking cursor for a long while. Finally I type "Just to be sure we're both on the same page, this is all in fun, right? You don't really hate me, right?"

She actually buys this crap. God bless women.

And so we begin corresponding civilly. We send pictures. Christ, she's stunning.

Why...this changes everything!

Rage...abetting...

I yell to the woman in the adjacent office; she'd heard all of the profanity during the flame wars. She walks behind my desk, looks at Kristin's picture, and says, "You idiot. She's on E.R." What? "Yeah, she plays Randi." It turns out this is not her only claim to professional quasi-fame: she's made out with Scott Baio, Billy Zane, Donnie Wahlberg, and, of course, Vanilla Ice. Talk about a treacherous career path. She was also the cousin in "Home Alone" who miscounted the kids in the van. She's since had roles in NYPD Blue, Blind Justice, G vs. E, Highlander, and countless other series.

And thus did my unlikeliest friendship strike up. I instituted policy early: we would never meet. Six years later, we're still writing and calling, and we've still never met, despite nearly monthly invitations for me to come to L.A. and pine for a swift, sweet death while meeting her actor friends. "What on earth would they and I have to talk about?" I say.

"Oh, stop being such a snob. People are just people."

Well no, we're not, but I love that you think that way. Kristin's one of the most sincere and thoughtful people I know. I adore her, but everything they say about L.A. actresses is true. In mind as in body, she is not of this planet. She makes me nuts in that great way that only people with a sensibility entirely disconnected from your own can make you nuts. One of our ongoing discussions is her firmly held belief that deep down, everyone craves celebrity. No, we don't. "Yes, of course you do. You mean you don't want to be a famous writer?" I wouldn't mind if the writing became famous, but me? I'd prefer not. "Bullshit," she snorts, for she's known nothing else since childhood. Then she borrows from whatever flavor-of-the-month therapy she's into: "You need to greet and nurture this." Then there's romance. She yearns for a "regular guy" yet dates exclusively 22 year old, coke-addled underwear models she meets at Hollywood parties, then wonders—quite earnestly, without a trace of irony—why it didn't work out. "Do you know any regular single guys?" she asks. Yes I do. I'll describe one. Well, his name's James, he's a writer, more your age, super smart, hilarious, really fit, loves the outdoors...

"Oh, ish."

"Jesus, I didn't even get to 'divorced dad' yet."

"Oh, who cares about that?"

• • •

Which brings us to today, when Kristin brings me a solid business idea that would throw much needed work to some unemployed friends, set up a nice revenue stream for me, and require that I deal with actors 24/7. Yep. It's too close to call.

back to me

The survey results have been a mixed bag. I promised confidentiality, so I won't share, but thanks for responding. That infernal Percy has more fans than I do on my own freakin' site. Also, my reader base sure is a lot more male than it used to be. Does this mean I can finally talk about football?

When I put the questions together, I naturally thought about how I would answer them. One answer surprised me. When I asked about the sexiest trait, my first thought was "competence." (Yep. That's when you know you've been with the approval whore.) Agrees a friend: "Competence = super sexy. It's so freaking rare that it makes my head want to pop off."

but enough about me

Time for a little reciprocity, ba-by. I want to know what makes you tick. Yeah, even you lurkers! Please fill out this anonymous and confidential survey.

Rob and Amy named their newborn Henry Robert, which is delightfully old school. Better still, "Hank Bob" is one of the best hillbilly names I've ever heard. "All y'all go git Hank Bob and lez fry us up some road squirrel."

A rare breeder reader, Rob was quick with the jab in e-mail: "I'd comment on [your vin Diesel remark], but I've lost all ability to talk about anything but dirty diapers."

"Tell me about the miracle," I replied.

"The big revelation is that God is definitely a man and that's why men don't have to go through that shit. Ouch."

of poker and poseurs

Milhouse, to his classmates, on their excitement over Bart having brought his dog to show and tell:

I knew the dog before he came to class!

We've all been there. You were the one who was watching Seinfeld in 1991, when it was ranked 85th in ratings and in perpetual peril of cancellation. Or it was some other trend you were in front of, a trend whose subsequent wild popularity you came to resent. I, myself, was watching Dave Chappelle from word go and have no need to borrow your Season One DVD, thank you very kindly, fucking poseur, sir.

But nothing prepared me for poker becoming a fad. Just three years ago, poker was my secret shame. It was just me engaged in battle with a bunch of smelly old coots in some smoky back room, while my friends were flirting with skanks over the roulette and blackjack tables. If another player under the age of 40 sat down at the table, we would silently nod to one another. It was that rare for there to be two of us. Poker was lethally uncool. No one understood the url of this web site, let alone asked me to sell it to them. I couldn't scare up a game. Casinos were closing my favorite poker rooms for lack of interest. And then along came TV poker.

You know the rest. It's everywhere. But there's a catch: as TV pretty much only televises no limit hold 'em, this is the only game young poseurs ever want to play. These are the Nobel laureates for whom "No Limit Hold 'Em Poker Chips" are marketed. No, there's no difference in chips whatsoever, but they don't know that. They just throw 'em in their carts next to the "Zero-Carb Beef." There's a great psychological study to be found in the monkey-seeism of all this, but for me, I mostly care that a game I don't enjoy enough to play all the time has taken over the poker universe. Worse, though, are the new players. Three years ago, if an old coot beat my hand, he'd growl something wry and funny and maybe even self-deprecating. "Son, you didn't lose to me. You lost to seven weeks' worth of due." It was like something out of a Clint Eastwood movie. No more. Now we have whoops, hollas, high fives, choreographed dances, and moronic smack talk about the intelligence of other players. There goes the neighborhood. They disrespect the game and its players, and I can't stand to play anymore.

I was out on my boat, also named the CheckRaise, when I was boarded by a state wildlife officer. Odd, considering that I wasn't fishing. Crew-cut, young, stupid, and eager to be liked, he spoke in excited all caps. "ARE YOU A NO LIMIT HOLD EM PLAYER, TOO? I'M A NO LIMIT HOLD EM PLAYER! I LOVE NO LIMIT HOLD 'EM!"

Uh-huh. Say, would you be a dear and hand me that filet knife?

welcome to the planet, henry

Finally, a strapping young lad breaks up the glee club that has been my summer. Henry, fear not, there will come a time that I pull you aside and tell you all about football. Seeing's how your father is a brie-chowing pansy, and all.

"What the Fucking Fuck?" awards   michael bay

The "Armageddon" and "Con Air" auteur on casting 20 year old Scarlett Johanssen as 33 year old Ewan McGregor's leading lady:

"You gotta find someone who looks the right, you know, age. Ewan looks like he's 32, so you gotta find a 20 year old for him."

Do I think Karl Rove broke the law? No. I think he left just enough wiggle room to take his shot, then get himself off the hook. Do I think anything the man says is accidental or incompetent? Hell no. The man can slay people from 50 yards away with the sheer power of his brain waves. Do I think he deliberately skirted the law and wrecked that woman's career out of spite? Yep. Why do I feel this way? Because the man has already shown us his venomous, ruthlessly effective ways. Bob Jones. McCain in South Carolina. Kerry and the Swift Boat Vets for Truth. And on and on. At this point, Rove couldn't buy the benefit of the doubt.

What's really curious to me is why he saved that Time reporter from going to prison. This is little reported: the reporter was prepared to go to jail to protect his confidential source (Rove), as other reporters have in the past. At the eleventh hour, Rove waived their confidentiality agreement and thereby allowed all hell to rain down on himself. I want to know why. It surely wasn't out of his profound sense of decency. What's he up to? Who's he protecting?

welcome to the world, lily

Allow me to be the first to call you a magnificent bastard.

P.S. No matter what your mother says, I broke up with her.

iTunes ethnic cleansing

In anticipation of my Spokane visitors' arrival, I attempted to create an iTunes playlist that we could all enjoy, or at least all tolerate. This is no small task, as the husband is an unrepentant redneck who's pushing 60. For posterity, I recorded the process of creating my "Old Redneck" playlist.

We start with my computer's library of 3,620 songs. Surely we can pull together something from that.

First to go: anything recorded after 1980. 2,197 songs remaining. No surprise there. I gravitate toward older music.

Classical, you're out of here. 2,041 songs remaining. No surprise there, either. There's, like, one track for each movement.

Black artists, you can forget about this crowd. 304 songs remaining. Holy crap. What just happened here? Tell me what "Black Music Month" is about, again? Isn't that like "Female Nurse Month?"

Latinos, you too. I'm looking at you, Carlos Santana. 281 songs remaining.

Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Wild Cherry, you're insufficiently white. 239 songs remaining.

Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, you're insufficiently heterosexual. 199 songs remaining.

Instrumental movie scores, you're too gay too. 127 remaining.

This leaves mostly random files that lacked filterable properties. Painstakingly applying the criteria above, I whittle them down to 33.

The Eagles? Who burned that? 17 remaining.

Leonard Cohen, I can stand you for about two minutes. 8 remaining.

And here we are, the elite eight. Thank you, Quentin Tarantino:

Fool for Love (a lousy country song by Sandy Rogers)
Magic Carpet Ride (Bedlam)
Hooked on a Feeling (Blue Suede)
Son of a Preacher Man (Dusty Springfield)
Vacant Chair (Kathy Mattea, from the Civil War PBS series)
Amazing Grace (Judy Collins, which is how it escaped the filters)
Tennessee Stud (Johnny Cash, from a soundtrack)
Long Black Veil (Johnny Cash)

I like only half the songs, but I played the list anyway. It lasted 15 or so minutes before the request came. "John?" the husband drawled. "Can we maybe listen to something else?"

I leapt up. Why yes. Yes, we most definitely can. I might have something else here.

the unpersuadable mind

In his column yesterday about Sandra Day O'Connor, the great Leonard Pitts shared his notion of a "persuadable mind." For your convenience:

Contrast this, then, with our President, who views vigilant reassessment and critical thought as hand-wringing, as poor leadership, as failings of courage and conviction. He is, in my estimation, entrenched in the intellectual laziness of dogma and the comforts of blinders. His is a proudly unpersuadable mind. Global warming hasn't been proven. Saddam definitely has WMDs is a really really bad guy and must be should have been removed. Better to throw fetuses away than use them to save lives. Slam dunks all, yet all royally botched. He could not even feign acknowledging a mistake when asked; such isn't in his makeup. He nearly imploded. Jesus H., man, throw us a bone and say you should have chewed that pretzel better or something.

Reagan and Tip O'Neil opposed one another by day and drank together by night, completely defusing the political rancor of the 70s. When red-baiting Reagan met Gorbachev, he recognized an opportunity to end a half-century of Cold War on our terms, and he reversed course 180 degrees. When Clinton came into office and royally stepped in it, he sought counsel with conservatives Richard Nixon and David Gergen, who helped him pull out of the skid. Later, he came to rely on Orrin Hatch for help with judicial appointments and, most especially, Bob Dole for passing an ambitious legislative agenda (and for keeping Newt Gingrich in check). You tell me: are these presidents weaker or stronger for challenging themselves, for evolving? Me, I think this is what leadership looks like. And having the unjustifiably cocksure W. at the helm is very nearly having a leader with a crippling mental disability.

• • •

I leave you with a quote from the Hon. Clarence Thomas, who, on the subject of justices like O'Connor who grow beyond partisanship, proudly tells his clerks: "I ain't evolving."

spirits, come back

When I returned to the classroom last year after a prolonged absence, you could hear my gears creak. I could, anyway. What had once come so naturally was now laborious, and I struggled to adjust the fluidity of the classroom. That wasn't always the case. During my prime, I would walk into class, often with only a few announcements jotted down, stand in front of the lecturn, sense the room, and put together an incredible session on the fly. The key ingredient in the mix: sensing the room. Knowing instinctively where their interests have evolved, what they're struggling with, what they're bored with. This is the skill I've lost completely.

On Monday, that old sense made a cameo appearance. At the start of class, I opened my mouth and what gushed forth wasn't remotely what was in my lesson plan. It's like being possessed. What's more, it resulted in my best class in two years. My adjustment was exactly what they needed. Students were engaged, learning was accomplished, pats on the back all around.

Then Tuesday it all came crashing down. A student came to class early and weirded me out, and things just spiraled from there. That class had no pulse whatsoever, and it was all on me. Ah well. I enjoyed kompitence while it lasted.

d'observations

d'Andre scratched his chin, trying to articulate what it is about the Seattle folks he'd met that had struck him as peculiar. Since crashing with me, he and Pam had spent the subsequent couple of business days living and working amongst the Seattle Chill, and now that we were taking our leave of one another, I asked what they thought of the folks they'd met.

They're nice enough, he said, in that way you know there's a but coming. "But they tell you what they're about." Huh? "Well, it's like, 'Hi, I'm Josie, and I'm into hiking and the kabala and I'm a vegan.' Instead of, you know, just being a hiker or a vegan and letting me discover it for myself. People here introduce themselves by ticking off the trends they're into. It's really weird. They don't tell interesting stories about themselves. They don't tell you about the bear they ran into while on a hike."

Pam finished his thought. "They just present characteristics for your consideration."

I have nothing to add.

• • •

Sitting around the campfire a week earlier, we recounted stories we'd both heard before but that Pam had not. Our earliest memories of race came up. d's story is too personal for me to share, but mine is publishable. Stupid, but publishable. I was 8 or 9, and my older sister was dating a kid named Manuel whom I'd never met but who, I had gathered, was somehow so objectionable that his very existence was hidden from my parents, lest she die. So one night, we were sitting peaceably around the dinner table when this sister suddenly asked, "Mom, Dad, are you racist?"

They were oblivious to being set up.

No, of course not, came the reply. All of God's children are created blah blah in His eyes blah blah blah.

I don't remember much of what was said because my attention was riveted on my other siblings, who were suddenly shoveling food into their mouths like it was water and they had raging tongue fires. Clearly, they heard a bomb ticking. I followed suit, and the four of us cleaned our plates and got out of the house in record time. The conversation on race continued. Traps were sprung, yelling ensued, accusations of hypocrisy were made, and ultimatums were laid. I hear. But I certainly learned my lesson, and I would never myself date a kid named Manuel.

who would jesus choke?

Oh god help me, I do love this stuff so.

guest towel quiz

Okay, pop quiz: You're my houseguest. You take a shower in my master bathroom, moving my shampoo and razor and rubber duckie around to accommodate god knows what. You're done now. You slide the shower curtain and survey your towel choices. You see a) a damp, disheveled towel right next to the shower and, next to that, b) a rack of clean, dry towels. Which do you use?

towel quiz 002.jpg

The answer, as history resoundingly proves, is A. What I want to know is why.

brooke shields

I've never been a fan. I missed the whole Blue Lagoon thing when I was a kid, and the one time I watched Suddenly Susan, I was trapped under something really, really heavy. When she mentioned recently that she took anti-depressant for post-partum depression, it didn't even register with me. And then along came high school–educated Tom Cruise's sanctimonious, unsolicited, and downright feebleminded criticism of her choice, and of psychiatry in general. Shields, for her part, took the high road, offering to leave tickets for Cruise and Katie Holmes at the box office of her play.

"I'll leave one adult, one child," she said.

Just how stupid is Tom Cruise? He was crushed in a battle of wits with Brooke Shields.

categories

As part of the conversion of reader favorites into the new format, I've also created categories (right). The idea: when a reader wants to read about Percy, she can just click his link. The reality, however, is that each old entry takes me about 5 minutes to covert, and that's a royal pain. So please be patient as I slog through them in my free time.

another kids rant

Not really. But more than one reader has accused me of being anti-kid, and that's not really the case. I see kids, especially the young ones, largely as the innocent products of parenting. And I'm vehemently anti-shitty-parents-with-an-overdeveloped-sense-of-entitlement.

Keep your child-hell stories coming. I'm enjoying them very much.

stupidity quantified

I wasn't going to write about the London bombings, and I still won't per se, but I'm increasingly annoyed by the gratified whining coming from the Dim Left. "This," they gurgle in vacuous baby-talk, "is why I'm against war." I'm not going to harp about their presumptions of causality. I'm not going to point out the glorious history of innocents being slaughtered by al Qaeda before W. sent us into war—before he was elected, for that matter. Nope, let's simply grant their argument that this Qaeda attack was a direct result of the war in Iraq.

Now let's follow this logic to its natural end. In the prior, peacetime Qaeda Spectacular, 2992 people died. The present death-count for the wartime London attack is 37, or 1.2% of those killed in peacetime. According to the Dims' logic, then, W. can take credit for a 98.8% reduction in deaths.

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Seriously. Take a toke, eat your organic Twinkie, and stop feigning cognizance before you sprain something.

timpano

Tonight I made one of the more unusual dishes I've ever attempted: timpano. I did the recipe straight-up, piling genoa salami, provolone cheese, hard-boiled eggs (yeah, I know), meatballs, pasta, and sauce into a dome crust. This recipe has a rep as a chef-killer, but astoundingly, it came out perfect.

If a bit late. Note the time.


Those are 4-inch tiles you see, there.

...and the hobby horse you rode in on

Inevitably, the Daisy saga was immediately trumped.

What brain damage does childbirth cause to some parents? Why do they think it's okay to bring their kids to an adult party, then allow the little tornados to be obscenely rude to the other guests, throw tantrums and break stuff? Why is it everyone else's fault that the kids ruin their good time? Why am I expected to share in, if not outright relieve the parents of, the burden of parenting? Why is it okay to suggest that I'm somehow so complicit in their decision to have children, I need to remake my world in plastic and outlet covers in order to protect the kids who I did not choose to birth, who I did not invite, whose electrocution I would not mind all that much?

Parents, sober up. Be satisfied with my having to pay for your little vanity projects' two decades of education. Having kids was your call, not the planet's. The next time your unparented kid breaks a glass or a window at my house, I'm rubbing your nose in the broken shards until you learn.

why i teach

It happens every quarter. The one student you didn't notice the first two weeks or so—the quiet one, the geeky guy or the mousy girl, the one who never speaks up in class, the one who smirks politely at your feeble jokes—takes your breath away with a work of such brilliance, you don't know how you're going to muster feedback. Your star emerges, and you're as surprised and delighted as if you'd found a thousand dollar bill on the sidewalk. And no plagiarist, no traffic jam, no attention-whoring terrorist can ruin that divine moment.

This working two jobs, like, sucks and stuff.

And I scaled way back on my primary job to accomodate the secondary one; I can't even imagine what it's like to work two because you need the money. My respect for the working poor has grown by leaps and bounds in the last two weeks. Among my discoveries is that it's not just the number of hours you work in a week; each job comes with a certain amount of "energy overhead" that's independent of how many hours you work. Both jobs require that I devote thought to them in my off hours—constantly processing, working problems, inventing creative solutions. Both jobs come with email to check, people to please, cretins to avoid, developments to track. These things just don't scale down.

On the up side, I got paid twice for not working on the 4th. If only I'd found a way to actually do some MS work I could bill for, it would have been 3x. Alas, I was too busy blanketing Percy's double-wide's roof with fireworks debris.

of dims and bigots

When I finished that post, I grimmaced. "I just wrote the perfect entry," I thought. "It offends everyone."

Response has been such that I can see that's not the case, though, and my sense of hope has been restored. A little.

I gots the smartest readers there is.

i love the smell of daisy in the morning

For some reason that eludes my feeble imagination, my houseguests think it's okay for their border collie, Daisy, to sleep in my guest bed with them. You know, the guest bed adorned with some $900 in linens? The one where guests with allergies sleep?

This, when my own dog isn't even allowed on that floor of the house.

How free it must feel to traipse stupidly through life, unrestrained by the shackles of consideration for others.

me dim, him bigot

"Are you a Democrat or a Republican?" my sister recently asked, presuming only the two options and proving, yet again, that creepy lurkers in Copenhagen know me better than my own family.

"Neither," I replied. "I think and talk in complete sentences."

"I'm a Democrat and [her husband] is a Republican," she replied, though in my mind I heard "Me dim, him bigot."

I've been giving a lot of thought lately to hope. Specifically to lack of it. Oh sure, the honorable and thoughtful Joe Biden and John McCain are making noises about running in 2008, as if either could wrest the nomination from the goose-stepping nuts who run his party. I'm not optimistic. Further, when I ask myself which party would be easier to save, I just skid more and more into hopelessness. Before either party can be saved, I've decided, it needs to admit to some things. Here're Dr. John's prescriptions:

republicans must admit that
  • Reagan does not belong on Rushmore. Historians rate him a good, flawed president.
  • Clinton is not the antichrist. Historians rate him a good, flawed president.
  • Supply-side fiscal policy is a general economic force, not a comprehensive economic plan.
  • Capitalism is zero-sum. Where you have haves, you have have nots. There are reasons for being poor beyond laziness, you oh-so-skilled trust-funders, you. As a beneficiary of the system, it's your moral responsibility to help those who fall through its cracks.
  • You give a home to the scum of humanity: bigots and gun nuts. Where is your shame?
  • Minorities have very good reasons to distrust you. (See above)
  • Alternative-energy policy is defense policy. Let's stop pumping cash into the hands of zealots who despise us.
  • Investing in education is economic policy. Pell grants paid for my undergraduate tuition, and last year alone I paid 8x more in federal income taxes than four years of grants cost taxpayers (adjusted for inflation). That's a good investment.
  • Tort reform is not the cure-all for health care. Get out of the pockets of money-grubbing pharmaceutical companies.
  • You are whores for corporations, especially greedy drug and oil companies, and everyone despises you for it.
  • Not everyone who disagrees with you is an entitlement-lovin', Christian-hating hippie. Stop demonizing.
  • You betray the word "conservative" every time you run up the deficit or allow natural resources to be irreparably destroyed for a buck. (Or worse, just to spite those who care about it.)
  • Affirmative Action is ugly, but the alternative is uglier. It's the chemo vs. the cancer.
  • The second amendment does not prohibit gun regulation. It demands it. If you want something else in the constitution, add it.
  • Your recent constituency is significantly less educated and better-armed than your opponents.' But hey, you've got the gun-toting illiterate vote all locked up. Congrats.
  • You royally screwed up the pretext for the Iraq war and have set back our foreign policy for a generation.
  • Private Social Security accounts create enormous short-term shortfalls for unproven long-term gains.
  • Increasing production of finite fuels is not a long-term energy plan. It's pretty much the opposite.
  • The ultimate exercise in Big, Intrusive Government: the government executing prisoners.

democrats must admit that

  • Reagan was not the antichrist. He was grandpa, for good and for bad.
  • Clinton's impeachment wasn't "about a blowjob." It was about the chief executive of the United States committing the felony of perjury to save his own skin at a sexual harassment trial. This is a big deal.
  • Al Gore didn't win one single recount. Shut up already.
  • To suggest that Ralph Nader should not have run is to shamefully denigrate democracy itself.
  • Hate-America-firsters do indeed exist, and you give 'em a home.
  • When you subsidize something, you get more of it. Like poverty, for instance. You've created permanent underclasses. Congrats.
  • Carelessly raising taxes on the rich crushes the economy across the board. How many poor employers do you know?
  • Taxing gasoline is the most regressive tax there is. You're strangling the poor you supposedly protect. I swear, you have exactly the same grasp of economics that my dog has of the fake tennis ball throw.
  • The Supreme Court's job is not to spackle holes you dislike in the Constitution. If you want something in there, put it in there.
  • Supporting abortion rights with a mythical constitutional right to privacy is specious reasoning at best. See above.
  • You're historically guilty of oppressing minorities...right up until they get the vote and you start piddling yourselves over them.
  • You hate on the rich and overtly delight in punishing them for their success. Where is your shame?
  • Regulating drug companies is not the cure-all for health care. Get out of the pockets of greedy trial lawyers.
  • When you gush over eco-terrorist electric busses and say things like "For the cost of 9 feet of a Trident submarine, we can cure shingles," you sound unfathomably vapid.
  • When the electorate decides to spend its money on something, say a sports stadium, you should shut up and admire democracy in action—not bitch petulantly that their money should have been spent on what you want it spent on.
  • You are whores for special interests, especially greedy unions and trial lawyers, and everyone detests you for it.
  • Coddling the Hollywood and crystal-clutching sets hurts your credibility and exposes you as airheads.
  • People vote against you for reasons other than they're stupid religious nuts. Get over yourselves.
  • Given a choice, you wouldn't want to get needed health care in a country with socialized medicine.
  • Social Security is in deep, deep trouble, and you're prepared to sacrifice the program just to spite W. Do your jobs.
  • Social Security was not intended to be a primary source of retirement income.
  • Nuclear power ain't that bad.

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