April 29, 2006
My New Toy
I hate to do this to you, but I have the feeling you're going to have to put up with even more pictures than usual.
April 28, 2006
Schadenfreude Friday: Sorry, Charlie
Look, I know it's terrible but if you've ever really wanted to see someone self-destruct, it's happening in Hollywood right now. Recently Denise Richards filed for divorce and got a restraining order against Charlie Sheen, friend to hookers and bookies everywhere. In the 37-part statement submitted when obtaining the restraining order, Denise outlined some rather, uh, psychotic behavior from Mr. Sheen. I give you the summary:
- Declaration of intent and other legal bloo-de-blah-blah.
- Charlie's got a history of drug and alcohol abuse plus a raging hooker habit!
- Ooh, ooh, Xanax! Forgot about Xanax. (Spelled Zenex in the complaint which, frankly, sounds more like a Scientology deity.) Ooh, ooh, also forgot about the major gambling addiction!
- Pregnancy announcement, threats of abortion, hatred of the baby girl idea...so, pregnancy not exactly starting off well. Not exactly full support from dad. More drugs.
- Entry into the Book of Sheen Mythology - if you stop breast feeding, the child will suddenly become mentally retarded. Pot? Yes kettle? You're black.
- Brand new pregnancy, same old supportive dad. This time with an extra dose of paranoia. Gas masks and guns all over the house.
- Choices - prenatal visits or gambling and drugs? That would be option B for Charlie.
- Bahamian Vacation...Pill Pusher's Paradise!
- Charlie takes his anger out on a headboard. That's not how you get credit for a notch in the headboard, dude.
- Children's vaccines? Evil. Pure evil. Conspiracy!
- Charlie ignores wife's pregnancy scare in order to gamble.
- The sitcom star refuses to tape his show in front of a live audience. Um, probably no loss as no one was going to laugh anyway.
- Guess what? More pills and talk of divorce. Shocker!
- More bad shit. Moving. Separation.
- Son of More Bad Shit. Charlie threatens "destruction".
- Charlie saws giant wedding picture in half. Then spray paints it with the touching sentiment, "dumbest day of my life." Awww. What a softie.
- With a daughter in the ICU, Charlie keeps betting...but promises AA and detox. Riiiight.
- Charlie moves back in with his family...not out of love but because he's afraid his bookie's going to kill him. What a tender reunion.
- Wait. Remember what I said about living together? I take that back.
- More online gambling and...gay porn. You know there had to be gay porn.
- Charlie's been emailing a "madam".
- You guessed it - more gay porn!
- Charlie doesn't feel the Christmas spirit. Cancels it altogether.
- More cancelled Christmas plans. Grinchy bastard.
- More porn, some AIDS tests and a "go fuck yourself" death threat.
- Legal blah-blah-crappy-doodle. Is anyone getting bored with this? Seems like there's a lot of repetition. I guess I can't quit now.
- Death threats. "You're fucking with the wrong guy."
- Charlie pushes mother and daughter over. Then? Threatens to put a hit out on them.
- Phone harassment. Look, it's clear old Charlie's fucked in the head right? Maybe his father the President will bail his ass out of this one.
- Fear, restraining orders, and more legalese.
- "Cooling off period". Yeah, like that works when you've got a drugged-up paranoid sitcom actor on your hands.
- Charlie shows his inability to use a calendar and misses all his scheduled kids visits.
- Overnight visitation request? Denied.
- Perhaps Charlie should write greeting cards. To paraphrase, "I hope you get breast cancer and die" and "I hope you get cancer in your face and die."
- More death threats, this time targeting her parents. And? Refused to deny a part in the mysterious death of a prostitute he once knew.
- Formal request for the restraining order.
- More legalese brought to you by Mumbo & Jumbo LLP.
What a freak.
April 27, 2006
When I was in junior high school, I had this friend named Nathan. He was a nice guy but totally spineless, one of those guys you could push around, so desperate for friendship that he'd do about anything. I hate to admit it, but I used that, and him. I mean, he was a friend but maybe I took advantage of it from time to time. Nathan, however, never seemed dismayed by me or my attitude and honestly acted like a friend should.
After junior high school, I moved - not around the corner or across town but halfway across the country. New school, new friends - several of whom I count as friends to this very day - and new opportunities. During my senior year of high school, a new kid arrived. My class had over 400 students so, ordinarily, it would have been tough to pick a new kid out. But this guy was easy to spot. He was extremely tall, wore nothing but black, had more piercings than anyone else in school and had a mohawk. Amazingly, this guy was Nathan.
Here's the part that's tough to admit - I never once talked to him. Granted, it took me a while to be sure it was him, to corner someone who knew his last name. And there was always the appearance excuse I could hide behind, that he looked nothing like his former self. But once I figured it out, I was embarrassed and that embarrassment was two-fold - I hadn't recognized him, a former friend, immediately, and, worse, I'd treated him like shit when he was my friend.
What I'm saying here is that I don't have a fantastic track-record being a friend. I'm bad about keeping in touch, I pretty much suck when it comes to sacrificing my time for others. I am, overall, quite selfish. But I'm trying to change that. And despite being virtual, despite typing instead of talking, I consider you, who show such wonderful, heartfelt support to me and my family as you have for so long, wonderful friends. And I hope, just maybe, that I do okay in return, that I'm better than the guy who ditched Nathan.
Thereís lots of shit happening in the world, a lot of it really, really terrible. It is, therefore, very easy to lose sight of the fact that there are some really kind people in the world. You guys help me remember that everyday.
April 26, 2006
Find Callie, Say Hi
In 1992, Beth and I were living in a second floor, garden-style apartment in Small College Town. That winter was particularly bad. When it started to get cold, this scrawny black cat would jump out of the bushes and follow us upstairs. Any battle we might have wanted to wage against cat ownership was lost when we started to feed him. One day, while Beth was at work, I opened the front door, he ran inside, found a chair and went to sleep. I left the apartment, leaving him inside, ran to the local grocery store, found a purple collar that would be irrisistable to Beth, ran home, put the collar on him and, well, the rest should be pretty clear. With time, his ribs stopped showing and his fur stopped falling out. He became an 18 pound giant, long, part wild.
Bitch and Moan
I'm a little bitter this morning. A tad salty.
Pixel, the all-time best cat to ever walk the earth (or through walls), has been hanging out at the vet's pad since he went in for a routine check-up on Saturday. There's something wrong with him. Conventional wisdom says cancer. Regardless, I'm pretty sure I hate being in a house without a cat.
Now, I've always been convinced that whatever force controls the universe is a punk-ass bitch with piss-poor senses of humor and timing. I mean, hello, we just lost Callie a month ago. I wasn't prepared to do this shit again for a while. A long while.
Yesterday, everything came together in a perfect storm. My office phone was ringing. People were knocking on my door. Reports were due to my boss. Meetings had to be attended. And I was on the cell phone with the vet telling them, sure, by all means, please operate on my cat. The day didn't improve. I visited Pixel, coming around from his anesthesia-induced haze. Playing with Mia afterwards was the highlight of my day, as always. It didn't help, however, that she was up at 3:00 this morning, screaming as though her eyes were being plucked out by a rabid chicken. But I'm here, tired and just a bit bitter.
Donít get me wrong. Iím not looking for a Cactus pity party. I just want to put in a request to the universe, as if it had a little suggestion box on the wall - pick on someone your own size. Oh, and while youíre at it, explain the scientology thing to me, please.
April 25, 2006
Eat Your Heart Out, Gilligan
I have a dream. No, not that one...
Pea and I were trading email yesterday morning and I think we stumbled upon something. See, we were talking about Mondays and how much Mondays suck and, as a result, how much we need a vacation. Then, I had an idea. Let's all chip in and buy our own private island. You're down with that, right?
This is where the Internet comes in, for it is a great and mighty tool when used correctly (and not for, you know, hardcore zoo porn or looking up crap that might be wrong with you on WebMD). I mean, take a look at this. It's even got a house. A four bedroom, two bathroom house with a private pier and 800 coconut trees. What more could you possibly want? Two houses, with an infinite pool and Internet access, you say? I think I can swing that. Sure, it was probably owned by a foreign dictator and there's a strong chance we might discover a mass grave next to the pool but still...it's kinda cheap for what you're getting. My only concern is that some of these are pretty far away. How about a heavily forested island off the Canadian coast?
One thing must be clear - I'm not envisioning some sort of bizarre commune out of the 60's. We won't be half-clothed, rolling around in the mud listening to Joan Baez or Country Joe and The Fish. No, what I've got in mind is a cool, inviting, fun hipster community with lots of smart, funny, cutting-edge people who just dig hanging out, being nice. No asshats allowed.
So, are you in? If so, we're going to have to think some things through. Before we spring for the island, we'll have to decide what we want on it - amenities, and so forth. And we'll probably need a name. You think about it and let me know what you come up with.
April 24, 2006
Because it's early and I'm only five sips into a very large and very necessary cup of coffee, I'm afraid I can provide only unfocused commentary this morning. My apologies in advance.
Topic #1: Photography
Fundamental rule of photography: sometimes, it's the accidental snaps that come out far better than the planned portraits.
Topic #2: Sleep
Yes, we got sleep. Fuckin A that stuff is good. I'd kinda forgotten. We decided to try a slightly different technique which (knock on wood) is working out pretty well. We also installed a Mia surveillance system (details forthcoming) which has also helped. Overall, good sleep weekend.
Topic #3: Shakespearean Donuts
I've been mixing up my standard morning donut order of late. Maybe a vanilla frosted here, a blueberry cake there...and maybe a complete departure in the form of a croissant or bagel. I've settled on your standard glazed for the last couple of days. The woman that's there in the morning always repeats my order back to me and there's always been something quirky about this that I haven't been able to figure out...until this morning. When she says glazed she pronounces it as I'd imagine Shakespeare would have, with the ed as an entirely separate syllable. Glaze-ed. What donut through yonder window breaks? For it is glaze-ed.
Topic #4: Dumbass Runners
I don't mean to imply that all runners are dumbasses. But some specific ones are. Like the guy who, a quarter mile from my office, decided that the hint of a cross-walk across a busy road gave him the right to run out in front of me. Even if you did have the right of way (which he didn't), would you even consider stepping out in front of moving vehicles at 6:00 in the morning when you know that most drivers are barely awake and haven't had the requisite amount of coffee? I didn't think so.
Topic #5: Walking
I had a dream last night that I was picking up Mia from somewhere and she just started walking. It was freaky. Of course, in the same dream, I ended up fighting a school of mutant, air-breathing sharks armed with harpoons so that was a little freaky too.
Topic #6: Addresses
Remember when I lied to you last week? If you won the contest - as I believe 12 of you did, please send me your addresses. I owe you some tunes and my psychic powers aren't so hot when it comes to mail.
Okay, enough about me. How are you?
Haiku For Monday #127
Good food, good sleep, good daughter.
Good god, it's Monday?
April 22, 2006
Odd Monkee Out
A while back, I told you how Beth and I decided that vetran actor Peter O'Toole was a member of the Monkees, right? Following her bath, Mia was very amused this morning when I wrapped myself up - in Lawrence of Arabia fashion - in her bath towel and began singing a slightly altered version of the Monkees theme.
Here I come
Walkin' up on stage
Gettin' standing ovations
Even in my old age
Hey hey I'm Peter O'Toole
I was Lawrence of Arabia
I can't think of anything that rhymes with Arabia
Except something that's really inappropriate so I wont sing it to my daughter
April 21, 2006
Schadenfreude Friday: Bite Me, Stone Phillips
Although I am loathe to quote Fox on just about anything (for fear of infecting you or myself with the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Plague), this story, also reported elsewhere, caught my eye earlier in the week.
NBC acknowledged Monday that it had paid an organization to set up a pedophile sting operation in Ohio for a "Dateline NBC" story, saying it was performing a public service. Seventeen men were arrested in March as part of the sting. They were accused of looking for sex with minors after communicating with people posing as juveniles on the Internet, and caught when they came to a home in rural western Ohio. NBC arranged the operation, the fourth in its ongoing "To Catch a Predator" series on "Dateline NBC," with an organization called Perverted Justice that tries to ensnare pedophiles.
Okay, look...regardless of the subject matter, I feel kinda dirty getting my news from the O'Reilly network. Switching to The Washington Post:
The NBC newsmagazine "Dateline" agreed to pay a civilian watchdog group more than $100,000 to create a pedophile sting operation that the network plans to feature in a series of programs next month, network representatives and the organization's founder said. As part of the sting, the network also went along with police officials' deputizing of the group's members, in effect turning "Dateline's" made-for-TV operation into a law-enforcement action. The segments, taped last month in Ohio, have prompted news media observers and others to question NBC's methods and criticize its practices. "Dateline's" orchestration of the sting crossed ethical boundaries and could place the network in an awkward legal position, they said.
Mainstream news organizations typically do not pay sources for their cooperation because such payments might unduly influence the source's actions or information. Dateline's tactics on other stories have been questioned recently. On Friday, NASCAR officials accused the news magazine program of trying to "manufacture the news" by bringing a group of Muslim men to Martinsville Speedway in Virginia to see how they would be treated by NASCAR fans. Moreover, it is almost unheard of for a media outlet to allow its paid associates to act as law enforcement officials, even on a temporary basis, journalism experts said. "I can't think of anything like that," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, an Arlington-based group that advises journalists on legal issues. "It sounds to me like a very risky thing to do."
Look, big picture, kid-touchers are bad. I am not - and I need to make this clear - trying to defend them in any way, shape or form. But while NBC thinks it's doing something good - and making some incredibly cringe-worthy TV in the process - they're really setting a terrible precedent.
The journalism profession is frequently thrown under the bus along with lawyers and politicians. Sweeping generalizations are made, career choices are maligned, expectations lowered. And it's this kinda shit that does it. Journalists are responsible for reporting the truth, accurately portraying events and situations, thoughts and ideas in a fair, non-biased fashion so the rest of us can soak in all the facts and make educated decisions about the world around us. For a news organization to create the news is dangerous and unethical.
What's to stop your local affiliate from staging a bank robbery next time there's a particularly slow news day? What's to stop an overzealous reporter from arming a homeless guy and sending him into a mall to pick off suburban moms? Sure, these are unlikely to happen but when a news organization starts making news for the purpose of reporting said news, some kind of trust has been violated.
Child molestation and abuse? Bad. No question about it. The guys (because they're typically guys) who do it should have their testicles used as ping-pong balls or served as finger food at the local chapter meeting of the Hannibal Lecter Appreciation Society. It is important, however, that people are caught and tried fairly in this country. It also remains important that law enforcement do its job and journalists report on it, not take part. Paying for stories calls into question the integrity of the journalists and their stories and casts doubt on the criminal act being reported on in the first place. It does no one - the victims or their families - any favors if criminals are set free based on technicalities arising from questionable arrest tactics.
April 20, 2006
Whack-Job (And The Groove)
Despite the fact that my comments are plentiful (yes, I am a comment whore and try as I might not to, I do equate the number of comments with the success of any given post), I haven't felt in the groove when it comes to blogging lately. When I feel out of the groove, I get all insecure and wonder why you guys read. I mean, over the last couple of weeks, I've read aloud to my daughter from a UNIX manual, described my white trash neighbors in depth, provided highly detailed research into Slurpee consumption (complete with diagrams and charts), called politicians and terrorists asshats, lied to you, and worn my daughter's tights on my head. If I were you, I'd be pointing and quietly mouthing whack-job under my breath.
I have a point.
I'm sleep-deprived and over-worked. I don't always have time to come up for air. You've been getting live, unedited, unfiltered blogging for the last few months. Thanks for reading and/or humoring me. Whatever time I have leftover at the end of the day has been devoted to an exhaustive examination of the passage and slippage of time. In a couple of days, Mia will be nine months old. I have no idea how that happened.
Yesterday afternoon, after work, I pointed my car in the general direction of home but found myself at Toys R Us. I wanted to find something neat for Mia. Two things hit me within minutes of entering the store.
It was late afternoon. While I have no practical understandig of this, I'm sure kids had just gotten out of school and parents, wondering what exactly to do with them, loaded them into minivans and took they toy shopping. The place was packed, a sea of screaming, running, laughing kids. I was struck by a feeling of tremendous good fortune, lucky that I was there in this crappy toy store not because I was surrounded by stuffed things and plastic but because I was a parent and I belonged in a place like that. I had, simply, a reason to be there.
I realized that my efforts were completely and utterly misguided. I was looking for something that would demonstrate to Mia that I appreciated her, that I thought she was special. She's 9 months old. She sees a toy and tries to shove it in her mouth. She doesn't translate that to look how much my father appreciates me, that he'd stop on his way home to buy me something he thinks I'd like. No, what I wanted to convey could really only be done by going home, seeing her, getting down on the floor with her, and playing. Because doing that is like swallowing spring, feeling it bloom inside me.
I guess I've been in the groove all along. Maybe I'm a whack-job, but I'm a happy whack-job.
April 19, 2006
Six Things...The Results Show
Yesterday, we played a little game of guess the lie. I've retained the top-notch accounting firm of Abramoff, Skilling & Ebbers to review all the votes and deliver a decisive winner. Despite charging me $394,000 to do the job (which took 20 minutes), plundering various Indian casinos and leaving behind a trail of dead hookers, they seem to be unable to deliver one clear winner. Instead, they brought my 12 names (and a heap of legal trouble). Yes, there were 12 lucky winners. Before I reveal them, however, I need to clear some stuff up.
I'm not scared of boats, just the undersides of them. And shipwrecks. That's some eerie stuff right there. Strangely enough, the example Beth used to poke fun at me was partially true. I was indeed snorkeling off the Caymans when a giant ship passed by. It was freaky. Now, the sock thing is also true but Beth did exaggerate just a bit. And, truth be told, Beth has some socks that are so worn they're practically transparent. People with crappy socks shouldn't throw glass in stone houses. Or something like that. It's also true that I go all rainman when it comes to music yet I can't remember how old I am. I actually had to do the math the other day. Nor can I remember how much money I make a year.
As much as I do collect things - music and books, mainly - I don't have a lightbulb collection. Nor do I understand the delicate art of origami, even dirty origami. Although I might learn because that could be fun. Finally, I absolutely abhor The Dead, with every fiber of my being. I have never, in my life, been able to comprehend the appeal. And for two fucking days I've had Ripple in my head. I need to floss my brain.
Now, the winners, each of which will receive a special Cactus-Fish compilation CD.
- Michelle (no site)
- Linda (no site)
- Ms. Q
- Sue (no site)
- Starfruit (no site)
April 18, 2006
Six Things...With A Twist
Beth and I have both been tagged with the recent "weird thing" meme so we're taking it to the next level and adding a twist. The twist is two-fold.
Fold 1: Beth has compiled the list of my weird stuff and I've pieced together hers.
Fold 2 (son of fold): Only half of these things are real. Half are wicked lies. The person who picks out all three lies correctly wins a prize, most likely a homemade CD. Same goes over at Beth's place.
Here's what Beth said about me and my quirks:
1. Chris is scared of boats, but not all boats. First, he is scared of shipwrecks. Second, he is scared of the portion of the hull that is underwater. He says it gives him the heebie-jeebies, and if we are ever, say, watching a movie and there is a shot of a shipwreck or of a boat passing from an underwater vantage point he hides under the couch and cries like a little girl. This is actually not that weird though when you consider the time that he was diving on an old shipwreck in fairly shallow water off the Caymans and this huge ship passed by overhead and he almost got sucked into the propeller or whatever it is and cut to ribbons and killed. Oh, except that no such thing ever happened. Nope, he just made it up. I think one day he was sitting around and decided to choose something bizarre to be scared of, and this is what he came up with.
2. Chris is a master at origami. Not weird? Well, it isn't just any origami Ė no cranes or frogs or little paper boxes. Chris has spent countless hours perfecting the art of dirty origami. His Kama Sutra series is especially impressive. Y'all, don't tell my mother about this one, ok? I don't think she would understand.
3. Chris has a deep and abiding affection for his socks. First of all, he will never get rid of socks. He keeps right on wearing them even if all of his toes are hanging out the gaping hole in the front. And when he finally does stop wearing them, he keeps the worn out ones in his sock drawer and occasionally pulls them out and throws them in the laundry so they don't feel abandoned. And then, every night he takes a shower and then takes a pair of socks downstairs with him. But he doesn't put them on, oh no. He just sits them on the couch with him and then they, I don't know, cuddle or something, and more often than not they are still there on the couch when I go downstairs the next morning. I think he might even name them, but I'm just speculating here.
4. Chris is a collector. You probably already know about his thousands of cds and our thousands upon thousands of books, but I don't think he has ever told about his little lightbulb collection. No, not a small collection of lightbulbs, a sizable collection of small lightbulbs. Flashlight bulbs, nightlight bulbs Christmas lightbulbs, etc. You are all thinking this one is the lie, right? But check out
http://electriclights.tripod.com/ and countless others available via google search. He got started when he was a kid and just kept on collecting. The only problem is whenever we move, because those things are a real pain to pack up and then unpack back into their display cases.
5. Chris has an encyclopedic knowledge of music. He remembers details that I suspect nobody else in the world has bothered to (or cares to) remember. You can name some mediocre studio drummer from the 70s and he will tell you 12 albums the guy played on and his son's middle name and birthdate. Seriously, ask him anything about music and odds are you will get more (accurate) information than you ever wanted. He can also tell you the address, including zip code, and phone number of every place he has ever lived. However, if you ask Chris to tell you his age, his salary, where he left his sunglasses, the square root of nine, his lovely wife's middle name, or any other minor but important
fact that he should certainly know, you are likely to be greeted by a blank stare and complete inability to answer the question. It's like living with a 12 year old idiot savant.
6. Ask Chris to name his favorite band and he will tell you he could not possibly choose just one. Press the issue and he will likely concede to name a few favorites, among them Genesis, Yes, Pearl Jam. He's hiding a deep dark secret. Chris does have a stand-out favorite band, he's just ashamed to admit it. His absolute, all-time, no doubt about it favorite? The Grateful Dead. "Ripple" is his favorite song ever Ė sometimes he just puts that on repeat and listens to it all day.
So...which ones are lies?
April 17, 2006
Ahh, yes. Another holiday and another perfect time for me to stick something on my head.
This Easter was anything but conventional. The whole thing started to unravel on Friday. As planned, I took the day off but instead of whatever it was I had planned (who knows?), I found myself doing battle with termites. Yes, it was me against the many mighty winged creatures. There were a hell of a lot more of them than there was of me but I had chemicals on my side. I'm not going to bore you with the details but it is sufficient to say that we had a major swarm a while back that damn near rendered my wife catatonic. According to our termite experts, they're "under control" and we can expect them to flare up like this despite the fact that the insanely expensive system we installed is "doing exactly what it's supposed to do." Still, Friday, for me, became all about stomping out bugs and repairing other assorted, unrelated damage to our hardwood floors and baseboards. I know...you're jealous.
Friday also brought the flu to my mom (thus cancelling Easter Sunday plans) and a savage bout of senility to my great aunt (resulting in an "evaluation period" in the mental ward of a local hospital). Both are great topics for stand-alone posts but...Happy Easter! Nothing goes with holidays better than a hacking cough and mental instability.
Saturday was a bit more relaxing. We spent the day watching Mia crawl and abuse the cat. Then, we got her dressed and headed to Beth's parents place for a last minute Easter dinner. Everyone had been planning to have dinner at my parents' place on Sunday but clearly that was out unless we all wanted to be infected by whatever mutant strain of flu she was coping with. So, despite the fact that everyone in attendance was going casual, we got Mia into her Easter dress, got a little spiffied up ourselves and headed over. The dress was insanely cute (view the entire set of pics here) and dinner was wonderfully fun.
On Sunday, there was more crawling, plenty of playing and a teensy bit of napping. Standard-issue baby fun. I made a fine dinner of spaghetti, which I informed Mia was the traditional Easter dinner. Of course, while I was spreading such misinformation, I also told her that spaghetti was first consumed by Jesus as he was sailing his three ships across the Atlantic in search of the New World. As I later mentioned to Beth, "If we're wrong about the whole religion thing, we're really going to hell."
Haiku For Monday #126
Second week running
I almost forgot the 'ku.
What's up with that, yo?
April 15, 2006
Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy...
...and sometimes I just like making funny faces into the mirror.
April 14, 2006
Schadenfreude Friday: Martyrdom In Action
For the past few Fridays, I've written a little, regular column I've called Schadenfreude Friday. I'm not necessarily proud of it, but I have to admit that I find a little pleasure in the pain of some of the world's premiere asshats. You know, the overachievers. Today is no different. It's usually easy to find the humor. In that respect, it is different this Friday.
Testifying shortly after his defense team began presenting its case for sparing his life, Moussaoui also said he had no regrets about the attacks and the grief they caused the victims' families. When asked directly if he had any regrets, he replied: "None whatsoever." Asked why, he said, "The question is why not? As a person, I find it disgusting that some people will come here to share their grief. I find that disgusting." (Washington Post)
He mocked a Navy officer who wept as she described the death of two subordinates in the attack on the Pentagon. "I think it was disgusting for a military person" to cry, Moussaoui said of Lt. Nancy McKeown. "She is military. She should expect people at war with her to want to kill her." Asked if he was happy to hear her sobbing, he said, "Make my day." (Associated Press)
Mr. Moussaoui displayed the shifting, contradictory behavior that has confounded his lawyers. At times he criticized their strategy and suggested changes in it, as though he cared about saving his own life. At other times, as in his reply to Mr. Spencer and his assertion that Israel "is just a missing star in the American flag," and in mocking the grief of families of Sept. 11 victims, he seemed to be inviting the jurors to condemn him to death. (New York Times)
He said another reason he has no regret is that "we did it for this reason: We wanted to inflict pain on your country. . . . I wish there would be more pain because next week and the week after, the children of Palestine will have more pain. . . . I want you to share the pain." (Washington Post)
I think you can see my dilemma here. I don't know what to say. Like Moussaoui, those quotes seem to speak for themselves.
On September 11th, I drove up a hill, over which I saw the black smoke rising from the Pentagon. The immediate aftermath was nothing short of sheer, unadulterated confusion. The radio reported that the Towers had been hit, reported a small plane crashing into the Pentagon, reported a car bomb outside the State Department and reported explosions at the Gannett building, home of USA Today. Traffic was gridlocked. People abandoned their cars and walked. It was terrifying.
When I walked through my front door, I found Beth home, watching television. I stood for at least an hour. Entranced. Watching the Towers fall. And I realized half of my surprise was rooted in the fact that I'd never, once, sitting in traffic in my car, counted on seeing tape of what was happening. It was inconceivable. Yet there it was.
Eventually, a silence enveloped us. We realized that this was largely due to the airport, ten miles away, being shut down. Later that afternoon, a helicopter flew over. Everyone in the neighborhood walked out their front doors or stepped onto their balconies. I think I understood, for an instant, what it was like to be a refugee or a disaster victim seeing civilization arrive once again.
I tell this because it is my personal experience. And each of us have their own. Each of us were, most likely and to one degree or another, impacted and somehow changed by the events of 911 and the people that carried them out.
Mr. Moussaoui would have us believe he was one of them. Mr. Moussaoui, however, wants to be a martyr. He is an extremist and, by definition, anything but rational. What should happen to him? I don't believe in the death penalty, even for a guy like this. The cruel reality of his life in prison is worse punishment, in my view. Death is just a way out, a way to ease his own suffering and die a would-be hero, a martyr.
I'd like to hear what you think.
April 13, 2006
Seven Thursday Truths
Truth #1: No matter how hard you stare at a monitor - even if you have two - you absitively* cannot will a witty, heartfelt and utterly brilliant post into life.
Truth #2: If you're twelve, like me, you'll laugh whenever you type "#2".
Truth #3: Despite the fact that Thursday is the new Friday (at least in my little world on this particular week), you will be no more enthused to be here than if it were, say, a Tuesday.
Truth #4: If email is to be believed, corporate culture dictates capitalization of common everyday nouns as if they've suddenly been deemed proprietary. I was so informed by my Computer, sitting here in my Office while gazing out my Window.
Truth #5: At one time or another, you will be blamed for the mistakes of incompetents. Voodoo provides a healthy outlet for dealing with such individuals and may lead to their eventual transformation into a chicken.
Truth #6: The fact that The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" pops up first in a random iPod shuffle can never be positive. In fact, you must question your own sanity once discovering that this song exists in any form in your collection. Further, you must examine the very fabric of your musical being when you realize that you own not one Buggles album, but both.
Truth #7: There is not enough coffee in the world for days like this.
* yes, that's a new word...like it?
April 12, 2006
Not Quite a Post, But Closer
Remember what I did yesterday? That post that wasn't quite a post but was, in fact, the mere suggestion of a post? Guess what. I'm about to do it again. Why? Because I, genius that I am, managed to schedule a record-breaking six - yes six - back to back meetings. That's a whopping six hours of meeting fun, people! Don't hate - I know you want to trade places with me but your day will come, my friends. Your day will come.
Last night I had a vision. It was a vision of a clever, witty post that would slay. Maybe not actual human lives but several species of furry woodland creatures would have been in the direct path of my comedy death ray. It was groundbreaking, the stuff of legend. Then all hell broke loose. Between, oh, 11:00 last night and 5:00 this morning? Screaming. Not me. Mia. The screaming drove the post from my brain. It's gone. I've been holed up on my office, pounding coffee and pacing holes in the carpet but it's just not coming back to me.
On the plus side of all this is the fact that I'm taking Friday off. Tomorrow won't be much better than today and it should be clear to all of you that my sanity is, well, going quicker than $10 hookers outside a male nymphomaniac support group. Relief is in sight. Until then, you're stuck with one worn out cactus.
Aside: I'm more than willing to admit that, when developing a simile or metaphor I immediately and inappropriately go for one of three things - crack, hookers or midgets. It is my goal to identify similarly inappropriate, fresh alternatives. What do you suggest?
April 11, 2006
Six Strings, One Bean
Well, more accurately, six strings, one bean, a camera and a smitten dad.
Normally, I come into the office with at least the germ of an idea. I mean, I have to because damn it's early and I don't think too well in the morning. This morning? Nothing. And I've got a meeting at 8:00. What fool schedules a meeting at 8:00? Me. Honestly, I know I suck but it was the only time I had in my already full day. My schedule's tight, yo.
In light of all this, and in my absence for the better part of the morning, I have provided some discussion points. I encourage you to talk amongst yourselves.
Topic #1: We finally got around to watching last week's episode of Lost. So as not to reveal any plot points for the uninitiated, I shall speak in code. The episode focused on Wendy's Founder Dave Thomas. Do you really think that the entire roller-derby rink is all in his rutabaga?
Topic #2: Is it wrong that I'm vastly entertained by home shopping?
Topic #3: Our newly-arrived, beloved Nationals play their season home opener today. Dick Cheney's set to throw out the first pitch. What are the odds he winds up and accidentally takes out the first baseman?
April 10, 2006
Sixteen Years Later
If you'd known me sixteen years ago, you would have known Scott. Whether in school, playing countless games of racquetball, or listening to any music we could get our hands on, I really find it hard to recall a time we weren't together. It was easy to find us on summer evenings - we were in the car, cruising the back roads of Virginia, then-girlfriends in the backseat, with the stereo blaring something loud - it could have easily been ancient Whitesnake (the pre-chick writhing on a car hood days, thank you very much), Iron Maiden, Queensryche or The Police, Genesis or Pink Floyd. We were silly. And eclectic.
Eventually, Scott moved but we never lost touch. For the past fifteen years or so, we've generated hundreds of megs worth of email, tried to see each other when we're in the same state (or country) and kept each others music collections current. Scott attended our wedding and, there, met his wife, one of Beth's oldest friends. I'm terrible about keeping in touch, so I think that we've actually done remarkably well.
Saturday night found the seven of us in the same room once again. And I say seven because our families have grown. Scott and Julie have a son and a daughter now. We, of course, have Mia.
If there's a point to this, beyond expressing how wonderful it was to be together, it's that time is absolutely bewildering to me. Sixteen years ago, two of us were listening to bad heavy metal, sneaking cigarettes out bedroom windows and cracking ourselves up more than any two sane people should. Now, look at us. We're married, with real jobs requiring lots of education. We've got three of the most adorable kids to ever walk (or crawl, or just roll around) the planet. Could we, as sixteen or seventeen year old kids, have ever seen this coming? I doubt it. I consider myself lucky that life has turned out the way it has. And that I have such a wonderful family and friends to share it with.
The rest of the weekend? Tiring. Have I mentioned that Mia has six teeth coming in? She does. And she's not happy about it. Sleep was something of a challenge this weekend. She did the vast majority of it on me, in a chair, in our office. Thank god for iTunes - downloaded episodes of SVU and The Office kept me entertained. Most importantly, however, was the fact that Mia crawled last night. Sure, she kinda did it earlier in the week but last night was a full-fledged pack-a-bag-cos-I'm-outta-here crawl. She might not sleep, but goddamn is she cute.
So, there you have it - a weekend chock-full of all sorts of important shit. It doesn't get much better than that, my friends.
Haiku For Monday #125
True or false: I love
the fact that I'm at work this
fine Monday morning.
April 9, 2006
The Hold Steady: Almost Killed Me
A while back, I reviewed the Hold Steady's sophomore album, Separation Sunday. My review was glowing, or at least I hope it was. It deserved to be. Six months later, it's still in heavy rotation. So, why it took me so long to get my hands on their debut, The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me, is beyond me. What's important is that I did.
When I reviewed Separation Sunday, I described it thusly:
The guitars are loud and crunchy. Think about the more raucous periods in Aerosmith, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin history. Throw in a little AC/DC for good measure. Drums are solid and absolutely bombastic. Booming bass-work rounds out the steady, solid rhythm section. Vocalist Craig Finn talks to the music but rarely sings. His voice is ragged. He sounds like a poet wailing on a soapbox on a busy street corner. But listen to what he's saying. The bar-fight soundtrack is only the first, most accessible layer of Separation Sunday. Listen closer and you'll realize Separation Sunday is a highly literate album.
The same applies here. Almost Killed Me is basically one giant hard rock, balls-to-the-wall riff, worthy of comparison to all the great rock bands in music history. More important, though, are the lyrics. Again, Craig Finn's spoken word shouting delivers brilliantly literate, clever and funny lyrics. It's instantly clear you're listening to a smart band. And that's the saving grace. Any half-competent group of musicians can bang out big, loud riffs. Anyone can shout vocals into a microphone. Few, however, can write with such complexity and insight.
Almost Killed Me might just be better than Separation Sunday. It is definitely better and more engaging than the majority of stuff churned out in studios around the world.
By the way, if you haven't already tried it, give emusic.com a spin. They've got an exclusive live album featuring a Hold Steady performance of their entire debut. And if you sign up, use my gmail address as a reference. I'll get free tunes.
April 7, 2006
They Just Appeared On Our Heads As If From Nowhere
I don't really know what to tell you...
Schadenfreude Friday: Representin'
There's been quite a lot of press over the last few days surrounding the trials and tribulations of U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney. Some are even calling it the Great House of Reps Smackdown '06. That someone is, of course, me. Now that a grand jury's involved and some fellow representatives have been subpoenaed, the fun can really begin. In a nutshell, courtesy of CNN:
The Georgia Democrat didn't stop at an officer's request last week, then turned around and hit him after he grabbed her when she passed a security checkpoint, said Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer. "Any time an officer does not know who the person is coming in the building, I direct them to stop that person. And even if you're stopped, you're not supposed to hit a police officer. It's very simple," he said. "Even the high and the haughty should be able to stop and say, 'I'm a congressman,' and then everybody moves on."
For those of you not in-the-know, Gainer was one of the incredibly few competent people in DC government, as the second in command on the police force, before he was hired away by the Capitol Police. The other competent person in government is, apparently, in hiding in an undisclosed location.
Asked Wednesday to describe the incident, McKinney, who has claimed the incident is about racial profiling, said, "Let me first say this has become much ado about a hairdo."
Allow me to introduce a motion on the floor. I formally request that the following question be put to the good lady from Georgia - what the fuck? And let me congratulate Ms. McKinney for playing the race card so deftly.
McKinney has acknowledged she was not wearing the lapel pin given to lawmakers when the officer stopped her. The lawmaker said the identification pin is irrelevant. "It doesn't have a face or a photo ID on it, and quite frankly it can be duplicated," she said. McKinney and her attorneys insist that Capitol Police officers should be trained to recognize all 535 members of Congress on sight. Gainer said race was not an issue and that he has seen officers stop and question white, black and Latino members of Congress. He added that officers are given photos of new members of Congress, but with 30,000 employees in the Capitol complex and more than 9 million visitors a year, officers have "to make sure we know who is coming in the building."
Wait. Is this about race or security? I'm confused. And do you really want police, in one of the most important buildings housing one of the most important bodies, in the most powerful country in the free world to rely on their memories? I don't know about you but I barely recognize myself in the mirror in the mornings. While I realize I'm untrained in the crafty ways of the authorities, there's no way I'm recognizing 535 people.
McKinney has complained before of not being recognized as a member of Congress, both on Capitol Hill and at the White House. In 1998, she demanded and received an apology from the Clinton administration after White House guards stopped her.
Whoa. Whoa. Here's what makes me so angry about this story, other than the fact that this woman's a democrat and I truly wish she'd been from the other side of the aisle. Senators, representatives, even the President of the United States are public servants. They are there because, hopefully, they've decided that they want to make a difference. Sure, I realize that's idealistic as hell and I know someone like myself with such lofty ideals will surely be disappointed over and over again by a process and system that has taken on beauty pageant-like qualities and become nothing more than a popularity contest serving the rich and powerful elite. Instead of worrying about being recognized, Ms. McKinney, why don't you concentrate on doing what you're there to do.
- Georgia's 4th District's median income is somewhere around $37,000 for individuals and $42,000 for families.
- Over 10% of the individuals in the district live in poverty. More than 7% of all families live below the poverty line.
- Statewide, there are approximately 120,000 single-parent families of which 13% fall below the poverty line.
- Over 70% of the population doesn't have a college degree
- 40% of the population 16 and older are unemployed.
- Nearly 140,000 homes are without plumbing, kitchens or telephones.
You really want to be recognized for that? Here's my suggestion. Work your ass off. Do your best to do right by the people you represent. Increase education, standards of living and employment. Give those who've never believed they had a chance the ability to succeed. Then, and only then, will people recognize you for all the right, important reasons.
April 6, 2006
Rude Cactus, Man of Science
I, quite honestly, underestimated the mass-appeal of Slurpees (except for a few of you and it sounds like you have very valid reasons to hate such a frosty treat). Perhaps I shall formalize the Slurpee Consumption Rules and post them sometime in the future. You'll be happy to know, however, that I'm not just making these things up off the top of my head, all willy-nilly. It's not mere conjecture. No, I have science on my side. Like Gil Grissom, I follow the evidence.
Allow me to introduce the Slurpee High-Intensity Testing (S.H.I.T.) XG2800 Unit. But, um, don't spread this around. This is top secret, confidential, hush-hush stuff, okay? I S.H.I.T. you not.
Now, I obviously can't go into great detail about the mechanics of the device beyond what you see here. Nor can I describe the testing process in-depth. I am happy, however, to share the artificially-flavored fruits of our labor. You'll notice that, as time passes, the temperature of the beverage decreases, thus the overall slushiness or Meltiness Quotient, increases. Conversely, as time passes and the temperature rises, the physical effects subside. Thusly, the Brain Freeziness Index decreases. Our scientific research tells us, therefore, that between 15 to 20 minutes post-purchase is the ideal time for maximum taste and minimum physical harm - the perfect Slurpee storm, if you will. However, we're well aware of the fact that a Slurpee may indeed taste better and provide a greater level of refreshment before this time. So proceed with caution. It is, of course, highly probable that we don't yet have a handle on such a robust testing tool. Perhaps we just don't know S.H.I.T. As always, I encourage you to use caution and common sense when embarking on any Slurpee adventure. Meanwhile we'll continue to bring you the cutting edge research you've come to expect from the Rude Cactus Labs as we get our S.H.I.T. together.
April 5, 2006
A Third Conversation
Long story short - a girl, now woman, Beth used to babysit is moving up here for a while to work with a local horse breeder. We were discussing her employment and educational opportunities over dinner.
Her: She's coming up in January after she goes to school for a semester.
Me: Then she'll be up here for a year, right?
Her: Yeah. Maybe after working she'll decide college is the best way to go. Or maybe she'll just decide she wants to be a farrier for good.
Me: Well, who cares if she's gay?
Her: Ha ha. You know what I mean.
Me: That's right. A farrier is someone who goes around making other people gay.
OR, SNAPSHOTS OF MY BRAIN IN ACTION
Other than the fact that we were eating a pizza which had been kindly delivered to us, I'm honestly not sure how this one happened...
Me: Do you think that maybe Area 51 was really just the site of an intergalactic pizza delivery that went completely and totally wrong?
Her: What did they order, a hand-tossed with extra flurg or something?
Me: Something like that. Then, the whole delivery thing took more than 30 minutes because of some traffic jam in the wormhole next to the Seacrest Nebula so it was free and the intergalactic pizza chain folded leaving the government of Earth to clean up the mess.
Her: It's an interesting theory. Crazy, but interesting.
Me: Some would use the same phrase to describe me.
Money can't buy happiness, but we have Mia and who couldn't be happy with her (even when she doesn't sleep the entire evening due to the six-pack of teeth she's got coming in)? Nevertheless, we're hoping to strike it rich so we can kiss the White Trash Neighbors goodbye and enjoy the safety and security brought about by a truckload of cash. So, Beth bought lottery tickets...
Her: So, what would you do if we won the lottery?
Me: Um...a new house with some land. Cars, paid off. A new camera. Guitar for Mia.
Her: Anything else?
Me: A great big Slurpee.
Her: Like, a Slurpee larger than the conventional, commercially available Slurpee?
Me: No. Not even the largest they've got. That's really the first rule for Slurpee drinkers.
Her: What is?
Me: Don't be enticed by the largest size.
Her: Big is a bad thing?
Me: Well, when it comes to a Slurpee yes. Too much and you want to puke. I've been there. It's not pretty. And now that the weather's getting warm, lots of others will make the same mistake.
Her: You've put a lot of thought into this.
Me: Indeed I have. You have to stay on your toes.
Her: But there's no rule that says you have to consume a Slurpee all at once. You could save some.
Me: And put part of a Slurpee in the freezer? No. That would make you a big pussy. You might as well not get in the Slurpee game if you're going to hang it up like that. No, you buy what you're prepared to consume. That's the second rule.
Her: There are a lot of rules for Slurpee drinking.
Me: You have no idea.
April 4, 2006
Wisdom Wanted (Or, Help Me Not Get Shot)
My White Trash Neighbors (WTN) are at it again and I'd like some advice. I've written about them before but, for those of you who need a refresher, here are some highlights.
- The WTN family consists of White Trash Husband (WTH) and White Trash Wife (WTW) and their three kids - two girls, 8 and 15, and a 2 year old son who seems to appear and disappear at will. He's around about 25% of the time for some unknown reason.
- The White Trash Automotive Fleet (WTAF) consists of an ever-changing line-up of cars, usually high-end. Currently, they're driving a BMW, a big-ass professional grade pickup and a Hummer.
- Two insanely annoying, yippy ankle-biting dogs also live with them, both of which run wild. One day I shall step on them and I won't be sorry.
- Neither the husband nor the wife excel in the area of interpersonal communication...unless yelling counts in which case, they've got it mastered. They tend to stand in their front yard and scream at each other for everyone to hear. This most often occurs while their children watch.
- One of the more recent altercations occurred while I was standing in plain view, cleaning out my car. I was rather surprised (which is hard, given some of their past performances) to see the WTH hanging off of a moving Hummer shouting "Give me my wallet, give me my fucking wallet, bitch." When he noticed that his eight year old daughter was watching the whole thing, following the Hummer down the street, he ordered, "Go over and wait for daddy on the sidewalk. Your mother is being psychotic and is putting you in danger. Go stand on the sidewalk so mommy doesn't hurt you while she leaves. Because she doesn't want to be a part of our family anymore."
- Several months ago, during another blow-out, WTH sought refuge in his BMW. WTW was clearly displeased with this turn of events. In addition to hurling insults she armed herself with large rocks. Then threw them at the BMW. WTH eventually left.
- In another incident, WTW threw herself (literally, I shit you not) through their front door. WTH actually had to get in his pickup, head to the local Home Depot and buy a new door and door frame.
- These arguments - which happen, on average, two or three times a week - end up with either WTH or WTW getting into one of their many cars and driving off quickly. Very quickly. Like, there's squealing of tires involved here.
Fast forward to Saturday and my ethical dilemma.
The weather was gorgeous and I was sitting in front of an open window in our office, soaking up all the breezy goodness. Whilst editing photos I heard another White Trash Fight (WTF...heh) break out. I was amazed what I saw - the eldest daughter hanging off the side of the Hummer while WTH drove away. Instead of slowing down, after about 30 feet, he sped up and veered into the curb in what I interpreted as an attempt to knock her loose. 100 feet later, he stopped. WTW arrived on the scene (with the other daughter in tow) and proceeded to lose it. They screamed and yelled for a few minutes and, eventually, WTH took off in the Hummer.
Here's the thing - I'm sick of this shit. Really fucking sick of it. I'm extremely pissed off and refuse to live, much less raise my daughter, in an environment in which this is allowed to happen. We don't live in a trailer park in rural Appalachia (these people would sully the good name of Appalachian trailer parks). We don't sit around our front yards on our couches playing banjos while chewing tobacco with our three teeth. We live in a nice, middle-class neighborhood. One with tons of kids and parents who actually seem, for the most part, to give a shit. These asshats are the exception, not the rule.
For the last two days I've wrestled with this. I should have called the cops while it was going down. I know this. But then I think about the consequences. Sure, these asshats don't really deserve that kind of consideration and, possibly, I'm giving it too much thought, but I'm extremely reluctant to insert myself into another family's drama. To make matters that much more confusing, there are a total of six houses on our street. Despite their puny brains, I'm sure it wouldn't take too long before it becomes obvious who got the cops involved. And? He has a job for which he carries a gun.
So, let's recap - I'm sick of my WTNs yet I'm reluctant to release a shit-storm on emotionally unstable people with firearms. Now I ask you - what the hell do I do?
April 3, 2006
So, These Programmers Walk Into A Bar...
Or CHMOD My Wife, Please...
It's Monday. If you're anything like me, you had a great weekend but you're feeling pretty bleh about this whole Monday thing. I know what you need - something funny and achingly cute. Here you go.
Hostname is needed only for remote files. You can copy from a remote computer to the local computer, from the local to a remote, or between two remote computers. For example, let's copy the files named report.may and report.june from your home directory on the computer named giraffe.
Wait, typing that out, it didn't sound nearly as cute as I remembered. Oh hell, you better just watch my heartfelt reading from O'Reilly's Learning the UNIX Operating System for yourself.
Haiku For Monday #124
Monday, a time change...
The universe is toying
with us again, folks.