Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trick or Treat

I like Halloween. I like the kids coming to the door in costume, I like the women dressed up like slutty witches, I like the scary movies on TV, I like those rubber masks with eyeballs hanging out that are a true traffic hazard because no one can see through those things, and I like the leftover Mars Bars.

I used to do the costume thing myself, back in the day, but I'm old now and have passed the torch. About all I'm up for now is something along the lines of the costume that guy in the picture threw together. I saw this and immediately wondered if he bought a new plunger. And doesn't the guy look a lot like Zippy the Pinhead? Did he spend a lot of time thinking of this or was it a spur of the moment thing? Did someone else think of it for him? Did he have hair on October 30th, because that would really be committing to a costume and quite admirable.

I once went to a party as the front page of the Weekly World News. The worst? A zombie. I am not good with makeup. I know that now.

How about you? Favorite costume? Biggest embarrassment? Nightmare stories about capes and open flames?

Extra points for pictures.

Song for the Day? I Put A Spell On You by Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

Happy Halloween, Planeteers.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The GOP's gay porn problem.

You know I can't pass up any story that involves Republican sexual hypocrisy, which has by now become a redundancy.

We all know about the ad the GOP ran against Harold Ford, a black man, that shows a white actress inviting Mr. Ford to "call me," playing on some very ugly racial stereotypes that still beat firmly in the breasts of tiny-peckered white men who can't get a date.

In the middle of that ad is a shot of two scummy looking sleazoids talking about Ford accepting money from the porn industry. (Here's the ad in case you haven't seen it.)

And the Ford campaign did get money from the porn industry. Then they returned it when they found out the cash was a bit sticky, shall we say.

Now, Josh Marshall reports that the RNC has, can you guess? accepted campaign contributions from one of the largest producers and distributors of gay porn in the United States and his name is Nicholas Boyias. That's right, a producer of gay porn whose name actually sounds like "boy ass."

What? Did Charles Dickens write this script?

So far, there's no evidence that the GOP has returned the gay porn money. Maybe they're going to use it to produce a lesbian flick based on Lynn Cheney's novel. Or maybe, like Lynn's husband, they're just lying Dicks.

Why does the GOP hate writers?

The answer, of course, is that they don't. Not really. But to convince the mouth-breathers in Virginia that James Webb is a sex-obsessed misogynist his opponent, George Allen, says certain passages from Webb's novels give him the vapors.

This from a manly man whose executive experience consists primarily of being a tackling dummy for some football team I'm too lazy to look up on the Google.

Not that Mr. Football has read Jim Webb's books, but he's read enough to know he doesn't like them. He says they demean women. It seems the only fiction Allen embraces is the Bush foreign policy.

If you're not familiar with James Webb, he's a real lefty moonbat. He's an Annapolis grad, a former Marine officer, served as Secretary of the Navy under Reagan and he writes novels based on his combat experience in the Vietnam war. So it's no wonder that Mr. Football and the other chickenhawks of the GOP don't get it.

But we all know that they do get it. They just hope there are enough stupid people in Virginia that don't get it so Mr. Football can return his punk ass to the Senate.

Mr. Football's ally in this appeal to the influential Stupid Wing of the GOP is the deeply closeted fedora fondler, Matt Drudge, a guy whose journalistic integrity makes the National Enquirer look like the Christian Science Monitor.

In hushed tones of feigned outrage, Mr. Football's staff say that the excerpts taken from Webb's novels "reflect poorly on Webb's character and fitness for office."

Pesky people who actually read have had the bad manners to mention a book written by Mr. Football's sister, a woman who described her brother as a physically abusive jerk, and Lynn Cheney's notorious foray into fiction, "Sisters" that reportedly sports graphic scenes of lesbian lust. I haven't read Cheney's book, I admit, but based on that report I'm looking forward to the movie.

In an interview on CNN, Cheney said Webb was "full of baloney." I love that. When was the last time you heard someone say a guy was full of baloney? 1956? She also denied that she wrote anything sexual in "Sisters" because she knew that no one had actually read her book. It's so out of print, not even the Washington Post could find a copy.

Mr. Football added that his sister's book was a "novelization" whatever the hell that means, and that he was sad that the campaign had deteriorated into "...negative personal attacks and baseless allegations ..." He then said that Jim Webb was a baby killer.

One of Webb's people responded to Mr. Football, "Perhaps if you had gone to Vietnam and served as a company commander instead of serving as a driver at a dude ranch, you would temper your feigned indignation."

Even John Grisham chimed in. "This is a clear sign of a desperate campaign if they plow through novels trying to find evidence of character. I seriously doubt George Allen is much of a reader, but if he would read more, maybe he would understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction."

John McCain had praised Webb and his novels before but now that he's kissing as much GOP ass as he can in his bid for the White House, he was, for the first time in memory, unavailable for comment.

So be careful what you write, boys and girls, if you have any aspirations to high office. Myself, I'm burning my book and this blog.

Because I'm happy to announce that I'm forming an exploratory committee to assess the viability of a run for the presidency in 2008.

Donations are encouraged and the ambassador's post to Tahiti is now up for bid.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This weekend we're driving up to DC for a Terrenoire family reunion and to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday.

Jenny has already warned me about talking politics. But hey, we're in the nation's capital, what better place is there to get drunk and scream about past injustices.

I did say it was a family thing, right?

That's Mom up there with a future celeb, all decked out in his Montgomery Ward RayBans.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fifth Marine Black Bean Chili

I had several people ask me for this recipe. I hope you enjoy it.

The movie Flags of Our Fathers has me thinking more lately about Iwo Jima, the war, and my father's brother. That's him up there with his best friend Private James F. Ryan. It would be the last picture taken of either one of them.

Prosper Terrenoire, Jr., or June as he was called, was 19 when he and his friend landed on Iwo Jima. They survived two weeks. According to a Marine who knew them both, they died together, a fact that gives me some small comfort but did nothing to help my grandmother, a woman who never recovered from the loss of her son.

From everything I know about my uncle he was not really cut out to be a Marine. He was undisciplined, described as "the only boy who could get detention hall in detention hall." He was funny, I've been told, and a charmer. From his picture he wasn't bad looking either.

According to the old Marine who was kind enough to tell me something about him, my uncle and Jim Ryan were "the first to go on liberty and the last to return." They were often AWOL. They were often drunk. They were often in the company of women who were happy to take a private's pay in return for their contribution to the Marines' morale.

When I read or hear about young Marines being killed in Iraq, I can't help but think of my uncle, his friend James Ryan, and my grandmother, a mother who nearly lost her mind with grief and who carried the wounds of Iwo Jima with her until she died.

In their honor, I named this recipe after my uncle's unit. With deep respect to those who serve, then and now, over there or here at home, I present:

2 T olive oil
1.5 lbs. beef steak, cut into cubes
1 green chili, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp thyme
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 cans beef broth
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes with juice
1 28 oz. jar of tomato sauce
2 cans of black beans.
1 tsp of unsweetened cocoa
1 T tequila
1 T red wine vinegar

Brown beef, onion and chili pepper in olive oil until onions are transparent. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, chili powder, thyme and red pepper flakes for 30 seconds. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and simmer 1.5 to 2 hours. Stir in cocoa and simmer an additional ten minutes. Add tequila and vinegar, stir and heat through. Serve over brown rice.

If you try it and like it, let me know. And if anyone can find out anything about James F. Ryan, I'd appreciate it. I know he was KIA on March 4, 1945. I've traced him back to northern California, but that's as far as I got. Ryan isn't exactly an uncommon name. I know you all are researchers, so if any of you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them. I think his family would like a copy of that picture.

Semper Fidelis.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Because Jim Born is too nice a guy.

Today Jim Born wrote a fairly benign post about Florida politics and included this:

"Today, in the Palm Beach Post, I read about the two people running for the U.S. Senate seat. One is Bill Nelson, who, frankly I like. The other is Kathrine Harris who said something to the effect of, 'If you don’t elect Christians you are legislating sin.'"

For some reason that attracted Bonner '62 to Jim's blog who posted this brilliant comment:

She said "something to the effect of". Oh I got it, so when I write something to the effect that a hack writer named Born is a child molester that's close enough for government work. I'm sure Harris never claimed Christian voters had to elect her. That is just a liberal being a dummie as usual.

So I found Harris' exact quote as reported in that liberal rag, the Florida Baptist Witness. It took me all of ninety seconds to locate:

"If you're not electing Christians then in essence you are going to legislate sin."

I wondered why Bonner '62 couldn't use the Internets for something besides making an ass out of him/herself, so I clicked Bonner '62's profile wondering if Bonner '62 might have suffered a head wound. Turns out his/her favorite book is by Ann Coulter. That explains everything.

So, what have we learned today, children?

We learned that Bonner '62 is an idiot.

We learned that Bonner '62 can't spell dummy, much as our cheerleading friend up there - Go USA! - struggled with moron.

We learned that Jim Born is too nice a guy to make fun of the handicapped.

We learned that I am not.

Republican sex.

There was a time when I thought Republicans reproduced by asexual spore formation because they seemed to hate sex. They hated it in books, film, TV, conversation, paintings, photos, song lyrics, cartoons, poetry, and jokes. They tried to stamp out sex in all places public and private and I got the feeling that they all thought sex was just too icky.

My favorite quote came from Bob Barr, Republican congressman from Georgia: "The flames of hedonism, the flames of narcissism, the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundation of our society, the family unit."

Licking at the foundation of the family unit. Yeah, you can't make this stuff up.

This was the same Bob Barr who was photographed licking whipped cream off strippers at his inauguration party. Yep. That's right.

See, Republicans don't dislike sex. They like sex. A lot. In fact, these people are stone freaks. If you want a full accounting of GOP sexual frolics, go here. And that doesn't take into account the man-on-dog and man-on-turtle couplings that spring so scarily into their heads whenever they talk about sex in public.

But what got me this morning was the salacious story of country singer Sara Evans who is divorcing her husband saying he committed adultery, was abusive, drank excessively (like that's a big deal) and watched pornography.

I was thinking it was a regular story about rich people getting crazy until I read that her husband, the presently unemployed Craig Schelske, ran for Congress as a Republican in 2002.

Yes, another GOP freak. His estranged wife claims she found photos on their home computer of Craig playing hide the Osama with other women. Yikes! And at least 100 nude photographs of Craig in full chubb. Double Yikes!

In comparison to these people, my sex life is so normal that I could qualify as a monk.

I knew I should have become a Republican like our friend Mr. Rhoades. They seem to get all the hot freaky action.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm reading this book...

by a guy named Banks. Ray Banks. I might have mentioned him once or twice before. He has a thing about cats and dogs.

I know, this is a little late for you connected readers, those in the know, those who get advance copies gratis, but not here, not this guy, not at The Impoverished Planet. No, I had to buy this puppy. No ARCs for Terrenoire. Oh no. Terrenoire had to lay out hard cash for this bad boy.

Anyway, I'm reading this book, and normally I wait until I'm done and if I like a book I give it a bit of public appreciation. If I don't like it, I choose to say nothing, because this business is hard enough without some jerk in North Carolina whizzing upon your dreams.

But I'm reading this book and come upon this line about a guy in a tattoo parlor with, and this is what stopped me, "a full-on Rod Steiger."

Now, Mr. Banks doesn't stop the story to explain the allusion. He doesn't say, as a lesser writer would, "a guy with a full-on Rod Steiger like in the movie The Illustrated Man." No. Mr. Banks assumes you know what he's alluding to, because it's a classic film based on a classic story. Not a great film, mind you, but a classic. And it's perfect.

"A full-on Rod Steiger."

Damn that's sweet.

Why it hit me hard enough to stop reading (and use it as fodder for another day's post) is that Mr. Banks takes your intelligence for granted. He doesn't feel the need to explain. He throws it out there and then moves on.

This respect for the reader reminds me of a much different writer, Patrick O'Brian. O'Brian wrote the Aubrey-Maturin series of sea adventures and he can go on for pages about mousing the horses and frollicking the jimwads and stoning the cocksles and I have no fucking clue what the men are doing and it's OK.

Because I get it. The men are busy. Doing what, only God and O'Brian knows. But the point is, O'Brian wrote assuming his readers were smart enough to get it. Just as Mr. Banks is writing for what he assumes is an astute crew.

I like that. It makes me feel smart (possibly smarter than I really am).

Thanks, Mr. Banks.

When I finish the novel I'll let you know what I think. But so far, he's vindicated my already high opinion of his talent.

Now I have to go gimsaw the joynings before the luffer reels.

I'm in a Finnish state of mind.

Juri Nummelin, the editor of this crime magazine, asked if he could translate and reprint a few of my stories. I told him sure and went to check it out. There on the cover is Vicki Hendricks, Mike Wiecek and Jason Starr.

Am I the last guy to hear about this Finland crime scene?

Stupid kid candy

The folks over at Drink At Work report the snarkilicious things kids say when handed crappy Halloween candy and that got me thinking about the awful stuff I ate as a kid.

Do they still make Sen Sen?

If you've never heard of Sen Sen, it was the worst candy ever made. It was supposedly licorice breath mints but tasted more like licorice soap. When we were kids we'd smoke stolen cigarettes and think we were hiding the smell with Sen Sen. Since everyone smoked, it was probably the smell of Sen Sen on our breath that gave us away.

Jujubes. These were the Saturday matinee staple. I could eat three boxes of these hard little tooth destroyers, six if it was a double feature. Then I'd throw up. I haven't seen a box in years.

Licorice whips. What happened? When we whipped the Axis, did we also conquer the licorice territories? Where did all this licorice come from? That shit was everywhere. Even red licorice, which isn't natural.

Necco wafers. Always reminded me of Satan's communion wafer and they were dusty. I liked letting the gray ones dissolve on my tongue. Sneak a roll of these quarter-sized candies into class and they could last until lunch.

And was there ever anything more disgusting than that nasty-ass candy necklace?

Yeah, those grandmother chocolates with the hair gel in the middle. Jesus, who thought that was a good idea?

So waddle on in and set your fat ass down. If you want to share your childhood sugar traumas, you've come to the right place.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why do they think it's called CRACKER Barrel?

Reverend Al Sharpton, shown here with an unidentified white woman.

Reverend Al Sharpton is due in South Carolina today to stand with Chris Rock's mother in protest over ill treatment at a local Cracker Barrel.

That's right, the confluence of the Rev. Al, a restaurant with a honky name and Chris Rock's mama doesn't come along often enough.

Rose Rock was given the high hat by a wait staff who could barely assemble a full set of teeth between them and Mrs. Rock is righteously pissed. According to her, she sat in the South Carolina restaurant for 30 minutes without being waited on and that's twenty minutes longer than anyone should have to spend:

A. In a Cracker Barrel

B. In South Carolina

After Mrs. Rock complained, the manager offered to comp their meals. Mrs. Rock told him to shove his ofay food up his ofay ass (or words to that effect).

In a related development, Mrs. Rock was accidentally trampled when she got between Rev. Sharpton and a TV camera. Mrs. Rock was not injured but Sharpton fell down and broke his hair.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Your freedom is now completely at the mercy of this guy.

George Bush signed a new bill yesterday. It's called The Military Commissions Act. Nice benign title, but as Tom Waits says, "The large print giveth and the small print taketh away."

What the bill does is make it legal for the president to detain any "unlawful enemy combatant" for as long as he wants, to subject him to whatever Bush says is acceptable interrogation techniques, and to use whatever confession the poor bastard eventually gives up to convict him at trial. And who is an "unlawful enemy combatant?" Whoever George Bush says.

Donate to an environmental group that is later deemed a terrorist organization? Sorry, pal, but you're providing support for our enemies. Off to Guantanamo for you, pal.

But, I hear some people bleat (baaaa), if you're not a terrorist you have nothing to fear.

Tell that to two writers (yes, writers) who were held in Guantanamo for a joke.

Badr Zaman Badr and his brother Abdurrahim Muslim Dost wrote satire. Not good. Not only doesn't it pay well, it'll get you busted by people with no sense of humor. Like the Afghan mullahs they made fun of in a few columns. In a religious snit, the mullahs turned the writers over to the American CIA, another organization not known for its appreciation of the well-turned jibe.

These writers were then sent to Guantanamo but, as we all know, these guys were what Donald Rumsfeld declared "the worst of the worst" and I don't think he was referring to their prose style.

For months these writers were aggressively questioned about an article one of them wrote in 1998 when the Clinton administration offered a $5-million reward for the arrest of Osama bin Laden. The brothers put up 5 million Afghanis — about $113 — for the arrest of Bill Clinton.

It was a joke more targeted at the poor Afghan economy than at the president, but this was lost on the CIA. It took the writers three years to convince the Americans that they posed no threat to anyone except maybe the writers at The Onion.

And think about this: Bill Clinton has a sense of humor. When a web site made fun of candidate George Bush, he said, "I believe there should be limits to freedom."

Well, now he's got them.

This new bill gives this famous C-student the power to decide who can be arrested and what can be considered torture. As he signed the bill Bush said, “the United States does not torture. It’s against our laws, and it’s against our values.”

Unless you consider waterboarding torture.

Once upon a time, when this country still had greatness and honor in its high office, we prosecuted the Japanese for waterboarding American POWs. It was a war crime then. Now it's just an "interview technique." Look for WalMart to adopt it soon for their new hires.

Bush also said that the Military Commissions Act will enable the US to prosecute terrorists “through a full and fair trial.”


What it will do is permit secret evidence, hearsay evidence, and even coerced testimony, so that Bush can order someone tortured into making a confession, use that confession against the person at trial and then execute him based on a confession that was beaten out of him.

Here I thought this administration was trying to push us back to the 19th century. I was wrong. It's the 12th century. My bad.

Because the worst part of this bad bill is that it does away with habeas corpus protection. Habeas corpus is old. Really old. In fact, no one knows quite how far back in English law it goes, but it shows up in the Magna Carta like this:

"No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned ... except upon the
lawful judgement of his peers or the law of the land."
Today, habeas corpus is used to determine if someone has been wrongfully imprisoned. It doesn't determine guilt or innocence. A judge looks at the evidence and decides if the imprisonment is justified or not.

Under this new law, if George Bush decides you go to prison, the only person you can appeal to is, you guessed it, George Bush. King George. For no other office in Western Civilization has been granted this kind of sweeping power. Yes, habeas corpus has been suspended a few times in our history, but never has it been made into law like this.

Republican Arlen Specter showed some backbone and tried to amend the act to restore habeas corpus. “What this bill will do is take our civilization back 900 years,” he warned. But when the amendment failed, Arlen voted for the bill anyway. Hell, what's 900 years of civilization? Fuck it.

Bush said this new law sends a “clear message...we will never back down from the threats to our freedom.”

Because as I noted last week, we're getting rid of those pesky things. Freedoms? Who needs them. We've got security.

And our security is in the hands of the man who famously said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

Our last hope for returning sanity to our land is the Supreme Court. Yes, that Supreme Court. The same court who gave George Bush the presidency in a 5-4 decision.

So long America, adios democracy. It was nice while it lasted.

News from the Heartland.

Let's check in with the liberal media and see what's making news.

This just in from the New York Times, the voice of the Godless coastal elites.

We start with a story about White House press secretary Tony Snow, wowing 'em in the red states.

“Yesterday,” Mr. Snow declared, “I was in the Oval Office with the president ——”
He cut himself off, took a perfectly calibrated three-second pause and switched into an aw-shucks voice for dramatic effect: “I just looove saying that! Yeaaah, I was in the Oval Office. Just meeee and the president. Nooooobody else.”

The crowd lapped it up.

The Times goes on to report on Tony Snow's "star power" and quotes Karl Rove as saying, “It’s like Mick Jagger at a rock concert.”

But what raised the eyebrows of The Planet was this bit of reportage, told without a hint of skepticism. Tony Snow described his boss, George W. Bush, the guy who can't pronouce nuclear or put together a simple declarative sentence without mangling the language, this way: “He reminds me of one of those guys at the gym who plays about 40 chessboards at once.”

Uh, yeah, Tony. What gym do you go to, anyway, The Mensa Genius Gymnasium where they discuss particle physics in between the ab crunches and the squat thrusts?

It's amazing how a professional TV guy like Tony can enunciate so clearly with his lips puckered up against the president's backside like that.

Next, we turn to the Times' breathless coverage of a Cheney love-fest in Kansas.

Breaking news! A six-year-old girl is obsessed with Dick. “I really, really like him,” says Grace, who can tell you all sorts of VP-related trivia from facts she learned by visiting the White House Web site for children. Apparently, they've taken down the video of Dick eating puppies.

The retarded child's mother said Dick was “Like a rock star coming to town.” What is this fixation the Republicans have with rock stars?

The story goes on to talk about the fund-raising in the red states and includes this sentence, and I swear this is from the New York Times and that I am not making this up:

"And he reaps a full helping of love."

If you didn't gag a little bit just now, then you having a stronger stomach than I do.

Here's another sentence, chock full of sloppy kisses from the Times:

"And a big Kansas welcome he gets: cheers, sustained applause, even some war whoops — yes, war whoops. Loving ones."

But The Times tries to be even-handed, after all. They include this about our main man, Big Dick.

"Even admirers who laud his intellect and steadiness rarely mention anything about his electrifying rooms or people."

Now that's Fair and Balanced reporting, people. Eat your heart out Fox News.

“It’s just such a big thrill to see and hear this man,” says Marvin Smith, a farmer and former teacher. Mr. Smith says most people he knows feel the same way, “except for a few of those peacemakers.”

Damn those peacemakers! Getting all Jesusy on us when we're giving out our loving war whoops to the Big Dick. Peacemakers, pah, who needs 'em?

So, that's the news from the big huggable American heartland, boys and girls, as reported in the liberal New York Times.

And you wonder why I drink.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hide the stash, Five-O's in the house.

There's a new man in the neighborhood. Oh, sure, he looks like just another novelist working the crime beat, but in truth children, he's The Man. His name's James O. Born and the "O" standards for Officer.

He's started a new blog and we'd like to welcome him to the sphere.

But first we need to see a warrant.

Those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting Jim or reading his books, know he's a man with a wicked sense of the absurd. So what better place for him to be than here.

But I have issues. Yesterday Jim posted a piece on the problems of meeting a personal hero. In Jim's case it was Joseph Wamaugh, the LAPD author who wrote The Onion Field and The Choir Boys, among others. Jim had to interview Mr. Wamaugh, and I understand his trepidation.

However, that's not my beef.

I wanted to commiserate with Jim's struggle, so I wrote about the night I met Mary Tyler Moore, but Jim's blog wouldn't let me upload. I don't know why.

Unless James O. Born blocked me.

After Friday's Planetary post, I understand why Jim, and a few other squeamish panty-wearing readers would want to distance themselves from ADP. One friend said it cured him of reading The Planet ever again. Hell, he said, it cured him of ever reading the Internet again.

But it's Monday, and it's a funny story and true. So, seeing as how I have nothing better to talk about, here is what I tried to post over at Jim's new blog, but could not:


Long ago my wife and I were invited to a party. We were told we would meet Mary Tyler Moore. So I had time. I schooled myself in cool, copping the nonchalant pose in the mirror, one eyebrow raised in disdain for TV fame. I rehearsed things I could say that would display my admiration for her work, an appreciation for her career, maybe a flash of my famously subtle wit if we were to hit it off, but everything was cool. Slightly distant. Unimpressed.

The moment came. She was ushered about the room, introduced to people, and suddenly there she was shaking my hand and I went into gush overdrive, babbling about Laura Petrie and Mary Richards and dance (I know nothing about dance) and Robert Redford as a director and her legs on that PI series and what a shame about her variety show and on and on, digging myself deeper and deeper into a stinking mound of humiliation until finally the host rescued her and took her to safety as my wife, already imagining herself a divorcee, or even better, a widow, moved away so none of that humiliation got on her because, as we all know, that shit stains.

But something happened, something that rescued the evening, at least for me: Mary Tyler Moore broke wind. Yes, she let go a skirt fluffer that everyone pretended not to notice, as if it's possible to ignore Mary Tyler Moore letting a barking spider fly in public. So, instead of the evening being remembered as The Night Terrenoire Made an Ass of Himself in Front of Mary Tyler Moore, it became The Night Mary Tyler Moore Farted.*

Yes, we count our blessings.

In this confessional spirit, I open the floor to you, Planeteers. Have you ever met someone and either carried it off, or dissolved into a pathetic puddle of gush? Now's the time to come clean.

Come on, if you tell us now it'll go easier on you later.

And Jim, welcome. Just let me see your hands.

*If you're curious, it sounded like an angel's sigh, and afterward, there was a slight hint of lilac.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A word of caution:

To quote Ken Kesey in The Whole Earth Catalog, "I've used cornstarch on my balls for years."

If you don't know Ken Kesey or the Whole Earth Catalog, ask your grandparents.

Still, it was a great testimonial to the comforting power of cornstarch. I heartily recommend it to my male readers.

What I DON'T RECOMMEND is an unnamed Body Powder made with "soothing" oatmeal flour. Do not use this stuff anywhere near your balls. In fact, don't use this stuff in the same time zone as your balls. It is not soothing, unless you think pouring turpentine down your shorts is soothing. To call this powder soothing is to call Ann Coulter a kind and caring human being.

Oatmeal flour may be fine for pancakes and other comestibles, but it is not to be sprinkled on your balls, not unless you enjoy the feeling of your genitals in flames.

I say this in the spirit of public service.

And to explain why I was late to work this morning.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Naps Kill Thousands - Bleary-Eyed People Flee Sleep In Panic.

(An angry aside. Sometimes blogger likes pictures, sometimes she doesn't. Today is a picture-hating day. Goddammit. So just imagine pictures of sleeping kitties, sleeping pups, the lyrics to I'm Only Sleeping, a sleeping bird, students sleeping, Asleep at the Wheel, napping in hammocks, a bear copping Zs in a tree and babies nodded out like they were on smack.

Yes, I found each and every one of these and tried to upload them until my head exploded. Now, thanks to blogger's bitchy refusal to cooperate, you've missed them. So it is you, the reader, who is again buggered by blogger. Fucking free piece of shit. We apologize.)

The story:

This morning, this column appeared in the Raleigh News and Observer. In it, Phil Woodhall, MD reports on a new study titled "The Risk of Napping: Excessive Daytime Sleepiness and Mortality in an Older Community Population."

In other words, naps can kill you. As our friends across the water might say, Fuck all.

He also quotes W. Vaughn McCall, director of the sleep laboratory at Wake Forest University, who says, "if you are asleep and taking a nap you can't be doing other things to improve yourself -- like exercising."

Or keying your Mercedes or sleeping with your wife, Doctor Buzzkill.

But Doctor Woodhall is having none of it, bless him. I would quote extensively from the column because it's funny, but the N&O has a big-ass copyright warning on their page and as you all know, I would never ever steal something copyrighted, not even a cute photo of bunnies sleeping in their cozy little hutch, so I'll just steal a little bit of it.

Here then, taken from Dr. Phil Woodhall's column are Good Naps and Bad Naps: A Handy Guide:

1. Any nap from which you fail to awaken is by definition a bad nap.
2. A nap taken despite spousal threat, e.g., "Let's paint this afternoon; no time for napping," is at minimum an unwise nap.
3. The defensive nap is used to combat boredom, for example, during a sermon about sins you don't normally commit. In this circumstance ... snoring can turn the defensive nap into a bad nap with serious social repercussions.
4. There are many automotive naps. The good nap is taken in any seat but the driver's. The risky nap is taken while a teenager is driving. The bad nap, which may become the fatal nap or the orthopedic surgery nap, is one taken while you are behind the wheel.

I'm no doctor, but my dogs and I have put in a great deal of study on this topic and we've concluded that a nap is nothing short of God's gift to the procrastinating writer. Next thing you know, they'll say vodka is bad for you, then where will we be?

I encourage you to read Dr. Woodhall's complete column. It's fun.

But not as much fun as a nap.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm tired.

Work is getting in the way of the blues.

That's because I'm old. Too old to play music at night and come in the next morning as perky as a sorority pledge on Dexedrine. Caffeine, the dark fuel of American corporate culture, does nothing on days like this. I'm the elastic on an old pair of boxers; I just don't snap back like I used to.

Back in the day, I could carouse until morning and still walk through work without looking like an extra from a George Romero movie.

I am the undead.

I would write "I'm too old for this shit" but then one of you would give me a virtual dope slap and remind me what a cliche that line is. Danny Glover delivered it in every Lethal Weapon movie, all sixteen of them, and in the last two I think "this shit" referred to the movie itself.

Since then, I've heard it all over the place - bad movies, bad TV shows, conversations with people who watch too many bad movies and TV shows, I think Bush even said it during a press conference last week.

So, that's my cliche for the day. How about you? Any that get under your skin, or worse, any that you keep having to strip out of your rewrites?

I need to lie down.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

OhmyGod! I just lost several minutes of my life!

This is the muck I sift through to find sparkling gems of overlooked newslets for you, dear reader.

Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are once again BFFs!

Here's the breathless news:

Hilton drove the duo to the restaurant in her Range Rover-- the fact Richie was riding shotgun really gives the reconciliation a genuine feel--and the celebutantes entered the restaurant side by side.

"We are back!" they said.

Oh, yay.

But, I bring this up only to make a larger point. (You were hoping I would, right?)

When Secretary of State Rice was in the Mideast, she was quoted as saying she would not negotiate with Iran because, and this is a quote: "Iran knows what it has to do."

Now consider this quote from Ms. Hilton, taken at the height of the Hilton-Richie Smackdown.

"...Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I am ever going to say about it."

OMG! We've got like, Paris Hilton for Secretary of State. Now I'm like worried about, you know, frying in a nuclear exchange or something.

Really. Somebody, like, shoot me.


Piss Off Oklahoma. Support the Troops.

This is priceless. Every time I see a story like this, I think of New York Times columnist David Brooks, a man who is almost always wrong, no matter what he's wheedling about. David is the man behind the sociological neologism Bobos, a term that never quite got off the ground because it was mind-numbingly stupid.

David is also the great champion of fly-over country, the home of those solid red-staters, because he insists they have a better understanding of what this country is all about. Jesus, let's pray he keeps his record pure and is wrong again. But things aren't looking good.

Take Oklahoma. Please. According to a story in the Atlantic, beginning in November it will be illegal to wear a T-shirt bearing the names of soldiers who have died in Iraq.

That's right. If a friend of yours is blown into tiny bits in this stupid war, and you put his name on a shirt, you will get arrested for wearing it in OK. OK?

And it gets better. There are apparently similar laws being proposed in other states and in Congress. Hurray! If we don't think about it, maybe it will all go away!

But wait!

Finally, I begin to see the brilliance of George Bush's long-term strategy. If it's true that terrorists hate us for our freedom, and we give up that freedom, then we'll be safe as eggs.

It's logical, in a stupid David Brooks kind of way. OK!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Midgets Under Arrest.

File this under things you can't make up unless you're high. Very high.

From Time magazine comes this letter written by a Marine. He details his life in Iraq, including this:

Most Surreal Moment — Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. We had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels.

Giant infidels are us.

God, I love the Internet.

A modest proposal.

If Jim Gaffigan comes to your town, go see him.

Jenny, Molly and I saw him last night and we laughed so hard our faces hurt.

Really. Go see him. You'll thank me.

Update: Here is a link to Jim's bit on manatees from Dr. Katz. (I think this should work. I'm having a bit of trouble with Flash right now, but you shouldn't let that stop you.)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mutant news.

I didn't want to end the week on a bum note, so here's some good news.

According to a story in the Times, a company in California, of course, has created a line of mutant kitties - “lifestyle pets” they call them — that are lacking the protein that cause human cat allergies.

These are sneeze-free kitties, ladies and gentlemen, thanks to mutated genes.

If you've suffered from cat allergies and feel your life is missing something profound by not having one of these critters around to claw your furniture and shit in your shoe, then you're in luck. Yes, and they're only $4000 each.

That's right. Four thousand dollars.

“You’re not just buying a cat; it’s a medical device,” a spokesperson for the company said defensively.

The scientists responsible for the allergy-free felines have noticed no side effects to their genetic meddling other than flaming flatulence.

"You might want to pick the kids up off the floor," said the spokesperson, "and wrap your shins in tin foil. But other than that, you're golden."

Next up: A mutated dog who can paint the house and quote Noam Chomsky.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I hate to post two of these things in a row, but I heard the Petit Dauphin speak at a fund raiser this morning and he said this,

"We believe strongly that we must take action to prevent attacks from happening in the first place," Bush said. "…. They [the Democrats] view the threats we face like law enforcement, and that is, we respond after we're attacked. And it's a fundamental difference."

OK, this guy obviously knows nothing about law enforcement, particularly how the Feds broke the backs of the organized crime families with solid police work and proactive investigation.

And he's willfully oblivious to the success of British law enforcement in stopping the airplane plot a few weeks ago.

But what caught my hair on fire is that according to so many who were there, this is the incurious, arrogant, short-tempered and incompetent frat boy who did nothing to fight terrorism until AFTER WE HAD BEEN ATTACKED.

Shameless. Just shameless.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Land of the Brave, Home of the Free.


The men at the top are cowards and those of us at the bottom are not free.

It appears you can be arrested for merely speaking to one fat-assed oligarch who swore to uphold the Constitution, even those pesky little amendments in the back.

According to this story from the Denver Post, a man walked up to Dick Cheney in a public place and told him his Iraq policy was reprehensible. If it had been me I would have added incompetent, ass-hatted and evil, but Steve Howards thought reprehensible was enough.

Apparently it was enough to get him arrested.

From the Post:

Steven Howards, 54, a consultant to non-profit organizations, was vacationing with his family in Beaver Creek when he spotted Cheney in an outdoor mall shaking hands and posing for photos. Howards and his son walked over and told Cheney that his policies in Iraq are "reprehensible."

Howards said he may have touched Cheney on the elbow or shoulder, like others in the crowd. Howards kept walking to his son's piano lesson. He returned to the spot about ten minutes later with another son, and that's when Secret Service agent Virgil Reichle handcuffed and arrested Howards for assaulting the vice president.

Assault. Now, I'm no lawyer, but to me assault means something between threatening a guy and kicking his ass. Something short of homicide, but more than a gentle chiding.

But criticizing him? Jesus, by those standards, every writer who reads this blog has been assaulted by a reviewer or two. I mean, what the fuck?

Honestly, these guys are the world's biggest goddamn candy-asses. Dick thinks that's assault? Dick, the guy who shot a man in the face? Dick, the guy who sends other people's kids to Iraq to get their limbs blown off? He thinks that's assault?

Of course, he also thinks shooting domestic animals is hunting.

What a pussy.

The other guy's not any better. I'm talking about Commander Bunnypants, the little whiny baby who ran off and hid in a bunker on 9/11. The guy who wouldn't talk to the 9/11 Commission unless Dick went to hold his hand. The guy who can't see protesters because it would make him cry. The guy who stamps his little feet when he doesn't get his way.

Yeah, that guy.

No wonder these people think the troops will get all pouty if we criticize the war. They think everyone is like them. They think the troops are all big wusses.

I've got news for them. They're not. The lowest PFC working in supply has more balls than George, Dick, Karl and Condi put together. He's not going to weep into his pillow because the New York Times exposed George for the incompetent little tin pot dictator he is.

But something is seriously fucked up when a citizen can be tossed in the can for speaking openly to one of these bastards. Given last week's vote allowing George to arrest and torture anyone who looks at him funny, how far away is the day that writers can be considered a threat to the government?

I think that day is already here.

Be careful what you say, Planeteers, and be careful what you write.

It's not Big Brother watching you.

It's Big Dick.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The bird, sir.

Warners has released new DVDs of The Maltese Falcon, which is probably not news to anyone who reads this blog.

It's in a 3-DVD package with the first two Hollywood versions of Hammett's classic and when I read about it I wet my pants.

This film is what got me here, presiding over A Dark Planet.

I was working for an ad agency that sent me to Cincinnati, where I lived in a hotel for a few months. I didn't have much to do except wear leather chaps and watch TV (if you've ever been to Cincinnati, you know) and for the first time in my life I saw The Maltese Falcon. I was 34.

Up until then I had considered myself a writer, someone who wrote serious stuff about serious people doing serious things (although I was writing crap to get you to eat a certain brand of chili and buy a certain brand of gas) and that mystery stuff was so far beneath my interest as to be a mere shadow on my cultural radar.

But then I saw The Maltese Falcon and it changed my life. Not instantly, not like the Road to Damascus with bright lights and typing angels, but with the realization that this was good shit, this was worthy of my attention. Here was Sam Spade, a man who was driven to solve the murder of his partner, even though he was schtupping his partner's wife. That's the kind of moral certitude that made me rethink mysteries.

I read the English dames, starting with Agatha. I read Hammett and Chandler and Cain. I read Dutch Leonard and Carl Hiaasen, modern men with modern sensibilities.

But inside was still that man who had to catch his partner's killer, even if it meant losing the girl. There was a code.

And that lead directly to John Harper, my piano-playing protagonist. He was a conscious heir to Marlowe and Spade, an existentialist who knew what was right and did it, even if it meant nothing in a larger, amoral, meaningless world.

I never would have gotten to Harper if it hadn't been for Hammett.

So here it is, a new DVD, and it's one of the few I'll own and watch over and over. Chinatown, Casablanca, the Big Lebowski and The Maltese Falcon.

Does it get any better than that? I don't think so. In fact, this is what's playing in God's Multiplex.

I'm curious. What got you started? Can you trace the beginning back to a certain book, movie, teacher, or event? How'd you get where you are today?

Talk to me.

The end times?

It's the end of something.

Our good friend, Jeff Shelby, alerted The Planet to this holy relic because he knows that you, The Planeteers, are always on the lookout for signs of salvation, no matter where they occur.

This time the news comes from Bits & Pieces and I could not thank them, or Jeff, enough.

There on this sacred canine keister is our Lord and Savior, beaming out for all who have the lights to see and the courage to welcome Him into their hearts in whatever guise He takes.

This, Dear Readers, is surely another sign of the end times. For we have witnessed His Holy Visage on a tomato, a tortilla and now this, the south end of a north-bound pooch.

This raises two important questions:
1. Will those vacant-eyed worshippers of window stains and tree trunks now be following this terrier's backside all over town in hope of a "blessing?"
2. Just how much pot do you have to smoke before you see Jesus on your dog's ass?

The end is near, Planeteers. Bow down, bow down.

But, uh, not so close.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The award for the Best Bouchercon Coverage goes to...

First, let me say how much I appreciated everyone's reports from Madison. I could not be there myself (something about the State of Wisconsin taking out a restraining order. I didn't know a state could do that, did you?) but I did follow the news pretty closely.


Because I care.

I celebrated with the winners of the Anthony and the Shamus, shared in the disappointment of those who didn't win and tried to drink more here at home, just to keep spiritually in concert with my colleagues out in Madison.

But still, it was the words of those who took the time to report back that kept me in touch with the events in Wisconsin, without having to be, you know, touched, liked that night in Phoenix out on the croquet court.

Pat, you know what I'm talking about and I promise to never bring it up again except in therapy.

But I digress.

Here, without further embarrassing disclosures, is the winner of the coveted Dark Planet Award for Best Bouchercon Coverage.

(drum roll, please.)

It's a tie!

A toss-up between Swierczynski's daily Adventures of Sunshine and Duane and this, Bill Crider's video reports featuring big name writer types, all incredibly amusing, including a shopping trip by a pair of writers named Sunshine and Duane.

Congratulations, Bill and Duane. Nice work.