Friday, August 31, 2007
Full moon bad.
I can't even squeeze a laugh out of the Closeted Republican of the Week story because ultimately, it's just sad.
There are bad things happening all around me.
Even my usual succor, the blues, let me down last night when every solo I played sounded like frog farts on a flat rock.
Is it just me or is there something evil in the air?
If you feel like it, make me laugh. Tell me a joke. Send me a link to a man getting hit in the balls. A nun singing Weird Al. Anything.
Because I'm not feeling entertaining today.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Republican Repression? Not likely.
Why is it that Republicans — Craig, Mark Foley, and David Vitter — are the ones who keep getting caught in sex scandals nowadays? Yes, there are always Democrats with lurid stories — the Jim McGreeveys, Gary Harts and Barney Franks of the world (and a lot of others whose transgressions have never been proven or admitted to). But no one can deny that lately it’s been Republicans getting caught in the most peculiar and dastardly deeds.
I don't buy for a second the idea that Democrats are less "repressed." That line of thinking implies that they lack all morals and regularly "let loose." But many of them are family men too, with children and wives equally unforgiving of such behavior. Whatever their stance on public homosexuality, they would be subject to the same pressures and potential "repression" that any Republican would theoretically feel, say, to cruise in public bathrooms.
Perhaps it's just coincidence, or maybe there is a better explanation out there.
What the hell is going on? Did the country sign up for a free GOP Freak of the Week update? Really, you have that Vitters guy in a diaper; Ted Haggard, the crystal Methodist; Bob Allen, the Florida Republican who offered a black undercover cop 20 bucks and a blowjob because he was afraid of getting mugged and we all know that when you're getting mugged, offering a blowjob is almost as good as knowing kung fu.
Now we have Larry Craig (R-Last Stall On The Right) arrested for soliciting a cop in an airport men's room.
The public outting of a self-loathing Republican lawmaker has become as common as a George Bush malaprop, so I was going to let this one pass without comment, but then I read this Larry Craig quote from the bad old days when Bill Clinton was being impeached for lying about a blowjob he got in a heterosexual, although skeevy, way.
This from Larry "I am not gay" Craig:
"... the Senate certainly can bring about a censure resolution and it's a slap on the wrist. It's a, 'Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy.' The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy. I'm going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy."
Really, Larry, for a guy who swears he's not gay, that sounds about as gay as Liza Minelli's cabana boy.
So, if anyone can guess the next Republican to get caught in a compromising position, I promise to send a copy of Gloria Gaynor's Greatest Hits or Dusty Rhoades' latest, Safe and Sound, as soon as I can get my hands on one.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Josh came from a military family, as so many of these young men and women do. His mother was proud of him. To their family, the words Duty, Honor and Sacrifice are not the empty words of politics, but a way of life that too many of my fellow citizens cannot fully comprehend.
As a nation we have asked a small number of our citizens to shoulder the entire burden of this war. We have indulged young patriots who believe that writing blogs or driving an RV in support of their fathers' political ambitions is somehow service on par with the men and women who stand, raise their right hands, and take this oath:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
True faith and allegiance. That's what Josh promised all of us. I just hope that ultimately we will prove ourselves, as a nation, worthy of his sacrifice.
Right this moment, I have my doubts.
LIMBAUGH: There are two reasons. What color is the skin of the people in
CALLER: Uh, yeah.
LIMBAUGH: It's black. And who do the Democrats really need to keep voting
for them? If they lose a significant percentage of this voting bloc, they're in
Talking Points Memo has the full call exchange here. And this is the show the President and Vice President choosewhen they want to go on the air and talk directly to the hard core GOP constituents.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Sorry for the long ramble yesterday. I doubt if more than 2 or 3 of you waded through the rant. So, I doubly apologize for this post script to yesterday's Planet.
This morning I remembered that another president, bogged down in an unpopular war and facing protesters everywhere he went, didn't hide inside a bubble like our current Chief Executive.
No. He went out and talked to the protesters.
This is how Time magazine reported the story in 1970:
That provided fodder for a scene in Oliver Stone's "Nixon" and the criminally overlooked comedy, "Dick."
Before dawn the next morning, Nixon impulsively wakened his valet and set off with a clutch of Secret Service men for the Lincoln Memorial, where he talked for an hour with a group of drowsy but astonished demonstrators. His discussion rambled over the sights of the world ...
When the conversation turned to the war, Nixon told the students: "I know you think we are a bunch of so and so's ... I know you want to get the war over. Sure you came here to demonstrate and shout your slogans on the ellipse. That's all right. Just keep it peaceful. Have a good time in Washington, and don't go away bitter."
Here's Nixon aide Bud Krogh describing that meeting.
Now here's Dan Guthrie, a columnist who was fired for writing that Bush "skedaddled" on 9/11, on the courage of George Bush.
As the bumper sticker says, "I never thought I'd miss Nixon." He was bigoted and corrupt, but at least he had the balls to talk to Americans who disagreed with him. Why does it matter? Because at a time when we need a leader with courage, we get this guy:
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
The "Presidential Advance Manual" has come to light and it makes all those pampered rock and rollers with their contract riders for iced Cristal and green M&Ms look positively stoic.
Because the president can't see anyone who disagrees with him. Not one. No. Not allowed. The only American people allowed to cast their gaze upon Dear Leader are the American people who will faun and gush that, by golly, he's like the bestest president ever.
Jesus, it's no wonder the guy's clueless. He has handlers who make sure he continues to stroll through life in that protected bubble that has followed him around since he was a tyke playing dress-up cowboy.
Oh, right, he still plays dress-up cowboy. Last week he threw a hissy fit because some magazine suggested he looked like the drug-store variety instead of a real ranch hand. That's right, we have brave men and women in actual uniforms fighting actual wars and George gets his knickers in a twist over a sartorial slam.
But back to this manual. We've known about the tightly controlled town meetings for quite a while, but not the lengths this White House goes to protect Le Petit Dauphin. For instance, any anti-Bush people who manage to sneak past the cordon of security and try to speak in a manner that could make Georgie cry will be shouted down by "rally squads."
Here's a quote from the manual: "the rally squad's task is to use their signs and banners as shields between the demonstrators and the main press platform. If the demonstrators are yelling, rally squads can begin and lead supportive chants to drown out the protestors (USA!, USA!, USA!)."
Anyone who would equate rally squads with brown shirts should be ashamed of themselves.
Protectors of the president insist they're not trying to squelch dissent. They just don't want the president to see it because he might stamp his little boots and clench his tiny fists in rage. To make sure this doesn't happen, the White House advance staff asks local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."
The manual came to light thanks to a lawsuit filed by two Americans who were handcuffed and jailed because their T-shirts weren't full of love for the president. The federal government settled the case last week for $80,000 of our tax money, but as is standard policy with the Bushies, there was no admission of wrongdoing. And the president was saved having to read T-shirts that might have upset him.
Hooray for reasonably-priced speech!
In a related story, Laura Bush told an interviewer that she didn't believe her husband's negative poll ratings because everywhere she goes she meets nothing but Americans who love her Bushie. Golly, I wonder how that could be?
Oh, right. The bubble. It appears the White House is as equally committed to protecting Pickles from getting her feelings hurt as they are the president's.
When you combine this story with the one the former Surgeon General tells about his speeches having to mention the president three times on every page, you begin to wonder just what kind of man is it we have in the White House. What kind of man has to be shielded from his fellow Americans? What kind of man must be lauded repeatedly in all government speeches, even ones about genital warts?
A nancy boy, that's what kind. A fucking nancy boy.
Jesus, Teddy Roosevelt must be spinning in his grave.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
One of my favorite scenes in Tim Burton's Ed Wood Jr. is when the infamous director, played by Johnny Depp, is told by a producer that his movie is terrible. Ed Wood, ever the optimist, says, "Worst film you ever saw? Well my next one will be better."
Rejection. There's no way around it. My favorite rejection for Beneath A Panamanian Moon came from a publisher who objected to my portayal of the Vietnamese as "giggling, thieving children." For those of you who have not read the book, there are no Vietnamese in BAPM.
Or the time I got a rejected manuscript back from an agent, which would have been OK if it had been my rejected manuscript. But it was some other poor schmuck's rejected manuscript. So I returned it to the agent with the note:
"Thank you for sending me this manuscript. Unfortunately, it does not meet my
needs at this time."
It made me feel a little better.
So, while I actually do some work, tell us about your favorite rejection. The more horrible, the better.
You know what they say about misery.
Monday, August 20, 2007
An insider told the Washington Post that the Office of the VP doesn't support the President's dream of being the Johnny Appleseed of freedom because Cheney has "a little girl crush on strongmen."
I really wish I had made that part up, but sadly, I did not.
You can read more here.
Now, I have to go lie down for a little while.
Friday, August 17, 2007
I promise, this is about writing, so bear with me.
In my WIP (see, I told you we'd get to writing) I refer to a lot of cultural things that were around in 1941. Radio shows, books, and a lot of popular music. One reader in my writer's group complained that I referred to bands he'd never heard of. He suggested I'd lose readers this way.
I didn't say this at the time, but I wondered if every time I made some reference to some cultural phenomenon of the period I should call the Average Reader and ask if this was a part of their normal cultural lexicon.
So the question for the day is, do you ever pull back from a bit of esoterica because you're afraid you'll lose your audience? And if not (as I suspect), can you remember worrying about it? At all? And when you encounter unknowns in others' writing, do you stop to look it up as I do every other page in Patrick O'Brian's books, or do you fly on by, getting the gist from the context?
That's all for Friday. Have a good weekend.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
But first, last January I made a resolution. Now, I'm not one for making resolutions because I have enough failure in my life already without adding to February's list. But this resolution has stuck, kinda, mostly because I made it elastic enough to get stretchy. It was to listen to a lot less political blather and a lot more music. A healthy change for the better, don't you think?
It helps that I have a 6-CD changer in the car so I load it up on Sunday and listen all week long. Here's what's got me cruising through rush hour this week.
Bill Evans. It was his playing I heard in my head when John Harper played piano in Beneath A Panamanian Moon. Evans once said, "It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play."
Al Sunshine Guthrie (I think it was Al) advised writers to "get in late and leave early." I think he was talking about scenes, but it could be excellent dating advice, as well.
Squirrel Nut Zippers. This is a nostalgic favorite. Hot is what put the Zippers on the map with its hit "Hell." The Zippers are local, from Chapel Hill, and they've recently reformed after years of legal, well, Hell. Listening to Katherine Whalen's voice again is a treat and how can a band with baritone sax solos go wrong?
Almost Famous. Talk about nostalgia. Great movie. Great soundtrack.
American Splendor. Another great soundtrack to another great movie, this one starring Dave White. "Chasing Rainbows" by R. Crumb and the Cheap Suit Serenaders. "Ain't That Peculiar" by Chocolate Genius. Great stuff.
Southern Culture on the Skids. Another local favorite. Recently, someone over at Daniel Hatadi's Crimespace started a forum thread on noir music. I think they meant tracks like Harlem Nocturne, but SCOTS could easily pass. With tracks like Shotgun and Carve That Possum, SCOTS is hip deep in redneck noir. But if they could be known around the world for just one song, I would vote for Banana Puddin.' Some of the time they're singing about a classic southern dessert. Other times, well, I think they could be singing about something else. Ain't that a slippery groove, indeed.
So that's what's bouncing around my cranium this week. What's in yours?
Talk to me.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The laugh-track enhanced fake news show, billed as a right wing alternative to The Daily Show, has been axed.
Some viewers complained that they could not tell the difference between this show and the regular Fox News lineup. Other viewers suggested that the O'Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity's new show might actually be improved by a laugh track. And still other Fox News viewers thought the phone was the TV remote and accidentally dialed a bakery in the Phillipines.
The larger rap, of course, is that conservatives aren't funny. I don't believe that's true, but I can only name one - P.J. O'Rourke - who makes me laugh. The others, the people the right wing says are funny, aren't funny. People like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are not funny. They're mean. People like Larry Miller, who was funny before are not funny now.
And Dennis Miller? Did I actually think he was funny once upon a time?
So help me out here. Are there conservatives who make you laugh? Is there someone I'm missing? And if not, why does the right wing produce such comedy-retarded entertainment?
Talk to me.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Because I admired my father, I was also partial to Rose. When he was popped for betting on baseball, I gave him a pass. I thought, considering the character of some of our most legendary players, a gambling addiction shouldn't keep this guy out of the Hall of Fame.
Then I moved to Cincinnati. I heard terrible things about Rose but, this being his home town, the stories were always told with a grudging affection and a shrug of whatta ya goin' to do? It's just Pete.
I began to think that maybe my father's admiration might have been misplaced, like when he voted for Richard Nixon. Three times.
I heard about Pete signing baseballs with the inscription, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball" and then selling those balls for $1000 each. I'm all for people making a buck, but that stinks like locker room socks.
But Rose is not one to let records go unchallenged, even if it's just a record of sleazy behavior. In a lapse of judgment that would shame even the Bush administration, the U.S. Army Reds Legends Baseball Camp in Cincinnati invited Rose to speak to boys and girls ages 7-14.
You know this can't end well.
It's unknown how much they paid Rose, but as one writer said, "Rose doesn't do anything for free. If his own son needed a ride to the emergency room, Rose would charge him mileage."
Pete faced his fans, the kids, parents and grandparents eager to hear this legend of Cincinnati baseball speak, to inspire, to share his message of bringing everything you've got to the great game. Instead they heard a lot of s-bombs and f-bombs, name-dropping, and stories of seeing men in the shower.
He said he saw Joe DiMaggio naked and told the kids, their jaws no doubt gaping in horror, that he "... saw more than Marilyn Monroe ever did."
I used to think achievement was enough. I used to think that artists like Picasso earned the right to be jerks in their personal lives. But I've changed my mind.
It doesn't take much effort to be a decent human being. Several writers I greatly admire, like Lee Child, Ken Bruen and Laura Lippman among others, have shown that you can achieve great things in a tough business and still be a generous and caring person.
It's something Charlie Hustle should have learned long ago, back when my dad looked up to him as an example of how to play the game.
But I'm curious what you think, as always. Do you give great men and women a break on bad behavior? Does the fact that Frank Lloyd Wright was a brilliant artist forgive his being a flaming ass? Can you overlook Jerry Lee Lewis' marriage to his 13-year-old cousin because he also gave the world Great Balls of Fire?
Tell me what you think of great art, great heart and decency.
Talk to me.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Which is a surprise because I thought he was boinking Jeff Gannon.
I don't know Mr. Rove. I've never met him and I'm sure that to his friends and family he's a perfectly swell guy. And I'm not so naive to think you can know anyone just from what you read in the papers.
But based on what I think I know, Rove has helped trash at least two combat veterans' records, was complicit in revealing the identity of a CIA op, started a whisper campaign that implied Ann Richards was a lesbian, and was instrumental in the firing of US Attorneys for political reasons.
Oh, and he's officially responsible for New Orleans' recovery. How's that going, Karl?
While that's all reprehensible, and some of it's probably criminal, that's not why I'd stand in what promises to be a very long line to micturate upon his final resting place. No, Rove's larger crime was engineering the political career of George W. Bush.
For that mega-disaster, Karl Rove should be heading off to a stretch in a maximum-security cell instead of a comfortable retirement in Texas.
But in George Bush's America, honor is the name of a pop singer, accountability is for bank tellers, and justice is just a department in Washington.
Adios, Mr. Rove, I wish it had happened sooner.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
It's the Return of the Son of the Really Bad Movie, Part IV.
Yes, the screenplay is back. Last night I met with one of the producers and he's getting feedback on the script. Seems there are some problems. But before we get to what's wrong, let's take a look at how we got here.
Monday, August 06, 2007
It seems Rep. Allen is a friend of the Christian Coalition, a group who approves of Mr. Allen's voting record by a whopping 97%. Makes you wonder about that other 3%, doesn't it?
Yes, Rep. Allen (R-Mensroom) has been a big opponent of gay rights which means that Bob Allen, being a Republican, was bound to get busted for propositioning a cop sooner or later. I think it's in the contract.
According to the arresting officer, Bob offered him 20 bucks if he let Bob polish his nightstick.
Officer Danny Kavanaugh said he was in a mens room stall when Allen peered over the door twice, then pushed it open and joined Kavanaugh inside.
"Hi, this is kind of a public place, isn't it?" Allen said, showing a real way with a pick-up line. Then Allen suggested they go "across the bridge, it's quieter over there" and offered the cop the 20 bucks.
The cop asked what he had to do for 20 bucks. He's quoted in the report as asking "do you want just [oral sex]?" and Allen replied, "I was thinking you would want one."
But surprise, surprise, Bob has a different take on what happened. "I certainly wasn't there to have sex with anybody and certainly wasn't there to exchange money for it," he said. He was just playing along, he said, because he was intimidated by the black man. "This was a pretty stocky black guy, and there was nothing but other black guys around in the park," Allen told the police and he feared he "was about to be a statistic."
So, I'm not posting this because Allen is one more self-loathing gay man in the GOP. No, I'm posting this because Allen is a self-loathing gay man who is also a lying bigot.
Oh, and that picture up there? That's Rep. Bob Allen demonstrating his technique.
This is Ron Paul from the GOP debate in Iowa yesterday. I'm no Ron Paul convert. I like the FDA and the EPA (in theory, at least) too much to support a true Libertarian. But I like what he says here. It's true that the same people who did the Chicken Little dance with Saddam, the same people who were so wrong that we had to make a new category of wrong just for them, the same men who win trophies for wrong every single goddam day, these are now the same people who are warning us about blood baths and people eating the little children and God knows what all if we pull out of Iraq.
Then Romney, the Good-Hair-Empty-Suit candidate squawks "9/11! 9/11!" as if that had any relevance to anything. Jesus, what an asshat.
And I like the little dig Ron Paul gets in here about military service. Except for Duncan Hunter and John McCain, you've got a stage full of chickenhawks all claiming to be mas macho. Is there anything more pathetic than a bunch of rich doughy white men strutting about like the baddest scrapper in third grade? I don't think so.
Ken Bruen, as might be expected, gives us an example of something that probably could have been written by someone in their 20's or early 30's, but most likely would not. It's from Priest, a novel so beautiful it hurts.
"Not having children is a burden you don't even know you carry. You shrug it off, go 'I'd be a lousy parent,' or mutter about the loss of freedom. But somewhere deep in the treacherous human psyche is the ache of loss. The worst kind of pain, to miss something you never had, and worse, never will. The heart wants what it will never hold."
It's writing like this that keeps sending me back to my own work, looking for the stark true heart of the story.
It is a high bar to be sure, but dreaming is not only for the young.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Goal Attainment: This ranged from revenge to losing a bet. It's the category that holds the most hope for guys who still live with their parents.
Emotional: Men, surprisingly, didn't have much to add to this category.
Insecurity: Maybe I'll look taller lying down.
“I was afraid my partner would have an affair if I didn’t,” was mentioned as a reason, which is just sad. It means no one will have a good time and one person will almost surely resent it. Not a strong foundation for a good relationship, in my opinion, but then I'm no Dr. Phil. Maybe most of the enduring marriages in America are based on this fear of infidelity. That would explain, in part, the electoral success of the Republican Party.
John Tierney mentions that no where in the survey did he see Joan Crawford's reason for sex - a clear complexion - or the GI's lament that he could be dead tomorrow, even if he's a supply sergeant stationed in New jersey.
You can see more of the list and even can nominate your own reasons over at TierneyLab.
Me? I have sex just to annoy conservatives. They hate it when a liberal has a good time.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
You've probably heard that last Monday Chief Justice John Roberts grabbed his head, fell down and emitted great quantities of blue cranial smoke.
OK, I'm lying about the smoke.
But he did have some sort of seizure. Nothing to worry about we're told, even though he's now receiving intergalactic orders telling him to steal the fruit from Justice Breyer's Jello.
So I was naively prepared to ignore the seizure until I read about Michael Weiner's suspicion that something was amiss. (That's Mr. Weiner up there hawking herbs you wouldn't want to smoke and books, I suspect, you wouldn't want to read.) Mr. Weiner is convinced that Roberts' falling down was NO ACCIDENT!
It was caused by a Death Ray wielded by Chuck Schumer (D-Space) that caused the Chief Justice's mighty judicial headbone to crackle like Jacob's ladder.
But how would an ex herb dealer know about a secret Democratic Death Ray? Because Michael Weiner changed his name to Michael Savage (grrr) and got himself on the radio, giving him the power to speculate amd today, buoyed by the Weiner-proclaimed benefits of a coffee enema, Michael Weiner-Savage digs down deep and dishes up the truth to dozens of listeners like this one every day.
And this week, Michael challenged his listeners to embrace the ugly truth. In what can only be described as a masterwork of rhetorical reasoning, he said:
"[Roberts'] was in some way tampered with by the Democrats. You're telling me there's no possibility of a conspiracy by the Democrats to have caused this seizure in some manner? Tell me it's not possible, and I'll tell you you're a liar."
But maybe there's no Democratic Death Ray at all. Maybe Chuck Schumer (D-Brainville) is causing seizures on Capitol Hill through nothing more than the power of his mind.
Wouldn't that be like the coolest superpower ever? Who wouldn't want to psychokinetically sucker-punch a traffic cop or make an in-law drop in a froth?
Think of the possibilities.
Boss wants you to work late? Before he could say Storage Room B, he'd be twitching on the carpet.
Driver flips you off in traffic? Fry his synapses with a psychic snap that sends him careening off the highway at 65 MPH.
Tired of hearing chickenhawks like Weiner-Savage bloviate over the GWOT? Drop that jerk faster than sweat pants in July.
Considering the Weiner's intellectual capacity, I don't think it would take much more than a tiny pulse of mental energy. In fact, you could probably fry the Weiner, watch America's Got Talent and balance your checkbook all at the same time.