Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Who are these people?

I tossed deadlines to the wind last night and went to play blues in a smoky bar, and it was great. When I came home I caught a bit of TV, enough to put Jerry Seinfeld's voice in my head all night asking, "Who are these people?"

In Florida's exit polls, 20% of Florida Republicans said they were enthusiastic about George Bush and the really swell job he's done. Enthusiastic?

Who are these people?

I can see resigned. I can see loyally standing by your man. I can even see defending your vote by saying Bush was the better of two bad choices. But enthusiastic? Dear God, where have these people been for 7 years?

In a Wall Street Journal poll, 14% said they were "very positive" about W's tenure. Again, I have to ask, who are these people?

I admit that I'm a partisan. I am. But I try to be fair. I can point to things George Bush has done that I approve of. Well, two things, actually. One was getting the inspectors back into Iraq. I thought that was a good thing. What happened after that, not so much.

And his initiative on AIDS in Africa I think is a good thing. I'm skeptical of the whole abstinence push, and believe it's a lot of wishful thinking by people who trust Jesus to hold their knees together, but still, his heart is in the right place.

But everything else, from the economy, to Homeland Security, to foreign policy, this guy couldn't have done worse if he'd tried. And don't get me started on how he and his buddy Rove totally fucked up the government with a cadre of political hacks that turned every office, department and agency into an RNC version of Stalin's politburo.

So I have to ask about those enthusiastic Floridians. Who are these people?

My guess is, they're loyal Fox viewers. Here's some fair and balanced reflections from Bret Baier, the guy who put together the hard-hitting special, George W. Bush: Fighting to the Finish.

He tells us that Condi Rice credits the Iraq war with forcing Iran to abandon its weapons program. Then Baier writes, "...Rice’s statement runs contrary to the National Intelligence Estimate which, President Bush told me, specifically credited only diplomatic pressure for Iran’s action. If Rice is right, it would arguably be a significant win of the President’s strategy for Iraq, and the Global War on Terror."

That's right. If Condi, Bush's work wife is right, and if the NIE, the nation's combined intelligence community is wrong, then that would vindicate what most of us think of as a world-class screw-up. But if we all wish real hard, we can believe, too.

Baier breathlessly adds, "In a series of revealing and personal interviews, President Bush told me that as he enters his final year in office, the past President he thinks about most is Abraham Lincoln." Uh, I am at a loss for words here.

Baier mentions the president's notorious malaprops but grudgingly admits, being fair and balanced, that Bush is also capable of giving the most eloquent and inspiring speeches. To prove what a competent word wrangler Bush is, Baier interviews speech writer Bill McGurn, a veteran of the Wall Street Journal and National Review, who told Baeir "that President Bush is the most exacting editor he’s every had."

“I've been edited by Bob Bartley and Bill Buckley," McGurn said with a big man-crush sigh, "and the president is by far the most thorough and sharp editor.”

McGurn sure sounds enthusiastic. Baier is enthusiastic. And that 20% in Florida are certainly enthusistic. The only thing I'm enthusiastic about is 1/20/09.

Really, who are these people? Who are these people?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The same old turkey.

With the same old cranberry sauce.

Of course, I refer to the turkey on the right.

The far right.

To quote Dick Cavett in the New York Times:

Meanwhile, let’s all remember that there is one blessing that all of the candidates can revel in and enjoy: They needn’t have any fears about being inferior to the incumbent.


After last night's catalogue of tax cuts, progress in Iraq, a sound economy, and Congress better pass my stuff or I'll hold my breath bluster, Bush could have phoned this one in and saved us all those wasted minutes of wading through the GOP applause.

Is it '09 yet?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Don't believe it.

Whoever posted this sign is a cynical bastard. Work will not make you free.

Work is a curse.

I have two big projects due this week so the Planet will be darker than usual for a few days. Unless something shiny catches my attention.

For instance, I'm really tempted to comment on Mitt Romney's getting down with his bad self when he quipped "Who let the dogs out? Woof woof."

Aside from the anachronistic nature of Mitt rocking his street cred, I question whether the guy who strapped his dog to the roof of his car is the right guy to bring up our canine-American friends.

And I really wanted to write more about Mitt leaning into one brother's hooptie and asking, "You have any bling bling in there?" but I don't have time for that now.

I'm tempted, yes, but I must get back to work.


Gotta go.

Play nice, home slice.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Movie News.

I've been watching a lot of movies lately. A lot. I've been trying to avoid the political campaign because it just depresses me, but that's not the big reason.

The big reason is, I'm back writing this screenplay for dough. The producers found a new money guy, someone who has loads of money and considers himself a film genius.

I have my doubts.

But I'm not looking at the money as just numbers going into my checking account. I'm looking at the money as our ticket to the long-delayed trip I've promised Jenny for years. No, I'm not writing for money. I'm writing to take my baby to Italy. Ciao.

That's the only thing that will make the next two months bearable. Just like basic training, I know it will end.

I'll write more about this later, after next week's first production meeting, but for now, let's move on to other news.

A producer wants to option Beneath A Panamanian Moon.

That's great, but I know better than to cash that check. Still, it's like getting a smile from a pretty young girl. You know she's just being nice, but it can still make an old man's day.

You have a nice day, too.

Tonight, Molly's band is playing the James Joyce pub in Durham. Show up and I'll buy you a Guiness. That's a promise.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hey, baby, want to see my ferret?

Man, if I'd only had smooth moves like this in high school. Check out this post-coital, ferret-centric pillow talk from Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards:
"They are so named because of their dark legs," Shadow Bear says, to which Shiona responds: "They are so small, surely weighing only about two pounds and measuring two feet from tip to tail."

Shiona then tells Shadow Bear how she once read about ferrets in a book she took from the study of her father. "I discovered they are related to minks and otters. It is said their closest relations are European ferrets and Siberian polecats," she says. "Researchers theorize that polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska, to establish the New World population."

Damn, that is hot.

Too bad Cassie Edwards allegedly lifted the steamy zoological banter from other writers' work.

This from the story in the New York Times:

In the novel “Shadow Bear,” published by Signet in 2007, ... a reader was able to find lines that appear to have come, with little or no modification, from a few sources, though mostly from a novel, “Land of the Spotted Eagle” by Luther Standing Bear, and an article about black-footed ferrets from Defenders of Wildlife magazine.


An article by Paul Tolme in the summer 2005 issue of Defenders of Wildlife, headlined “Toughing It Out in the Badlands,” contains this line: “Researchers theorize polecats crossed the land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska to establish the New World population.”

A quotable friend once said, "There's a fine line between plagiarism and influence." Apparently, Ms. Edwards saw that line and jumped over it.

But the most egregious crime here is not that Ms. Edwards lifted lines whole and pasted them into her novel. The real crime is that anyone would think what she lifted was acceptable dialogue between two lovers. Where was her editor?

Again, according to the Times:
Ms. Edwards told an Associated Press reporter earlier this week that she did not know she was supposed to credit her sources. “When you write historical romances, you’re not asked to do that,” she said.

No, novelists aren't usually asked to give attribution. We are, however, required to write our own stuff. And we're expected to have some small understanding of how human beings talk.

But what do I know? Maybe if you're a ripply-abbed Native American, you can get all the babes you want with talk of small carnivores.

Who knew?

Friday, January 18, 2008


Vampira, TV host and star of Plan 9 From Outer Space, Ed Wood's masterwork, has died at age 85. Here's the story.

Back by Popular Demand

Minnie Skirt and the Bootlegs will be appearing at the Broad Street Cafe in Durham tonight. Show starts at 10:30.

I know what you old folks are thinking. 10:30? That's past my bed time.

So go home and take a nap, Grandpa.

See you tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wow. Sometimes, words fail me.

I know you all thought Rush Limbaugh had slunk away in shame after it was revealed that he was a drug-addicted sexual predator, but there's no such thing as shame in today's America.

As long as there are ditto-heads out there listening, Rush will continue to entertain them with uplifting political analysis like this:

"Obama is holding his own against both of them–doing more than his share of
the spade work. Maybe even gaining ground at the moment. Using not only the
spade ladies and gentleman—that when he finishes with the spade in the garden
of corruption planted by the Clintons, he turns to the hoe. And so the spade
work and his expertise using a hoe."

Jesus, what a disgusting turd.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A round-up of irritating news.

Want to know what's making be cranky this morning? Let's take a look.

First, there's this story about Pat McCrory's announcement that he'll run for governor of my home state, North Carolina. That's a screen shot of the graphic that accompanied the email announcement.

Most of you probably noticed the misspelling of governor, right? Hey, it happens to the best of us. It even happened to one of the Democrats running. Someone pointed it out and the campaign fixed it. No big deal, right?

Except this was a big deal. When notified of the mistake, Victoria Smith, McCrory's campaign manager, huffed, "There's no way this was misspelled ... somebody must have sent that out and hacked into that masthead."

Even after another person with the campaign said that the designer just screwed up, Smith insisted that it was a liberal hacker who hated America, hated the troops, and wanted to make them look bad because they're Republicans.

Then McCrory told reporters that it was just a design mistake and promised they would look into adjusting Smith's medications.

Bush, worried that his legacy will be noted as just one failure after another, from his time in the Texas oil biz to his disastrous presidency, has made a last-minute attempt at getting the Israelis and the Palestinians to make nice. Good luck with that, Mr. President.

While in the Mideast, he stopped by Saudi Arabia to see his old pal, Prince Bandar. You may remember Bandar was one of the first people to visit the White house after 9/11 and convinced Bush that no Saudis were involved in the terrorist attack and that all Bandar's friends should be allowed to scoot back to the kingdom before being questioned by those nosy FBI guys. This included some members of a well-connected family named bin Laden.

Anyway, Bush asked his old pal if maybe OPEC couldn't increase production and bring the price of oil down a bit.

Bandar said fuck no.

Thanks, pal.

Mitt Romney won the Michigan primary by demonstrating just how far he's willing to stretch the truth to be president.

And finally, Robert Rodriguez, the CIA guy who ordered the interrogation tapes destroyed, has been called to testify before Congress about possible obstruction of justice. Apparently the tapes show interrogators using waterboarding on a couple bad guys.

The administration and its dwindling number of defenders insist that waterboarding isn't torture, in spite of the fact that we said it was torture in WWII, the Army manual of interrogations says its torture, the Geneva Convention says it's torture, and the guy who waterboards SEALS in order to train them to endure torture said it was torture.

Then there is
the JAG officer who resigned his commission, saying, "Waterboarding was used by the Nazi Gestapo and the feared Japanese Kempeitai. In World War II, our grandfathers had the wisdom to convict Japanese Officer Yukio Asano of waterboarding and other torture practices in 1947 giving him 15 years hard labor. Waterboarding was practiced by the Khmer Rouge at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison. Most recently, the United States Army court martialed a soldier for the practice in 1968 during the Vietnam conflict."

Yet, in spite of all this, Bush, Cheney and every GOP candidate except John McCain still say that waterboarding isn't torture. Hmm, I wonder what John McCain knows about the subject that those other guys don't?

Could it be that people in the White House (I'm looking at you, Dick) could be in serious legal trouble if waterboarding is declared torture, and is therefore a crime?

I think we should pick a few suspects (I'm looking at you, Dick) and waterboard them to find out the truth. I mean, according to the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, it's
like swimming without nose plugs. Which, he says, “would be torture.”

So, those are the stories that have me feeling a little irritable this morning. How about you? What's crawled up your pantsleg lately?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Do you know how hard it is to meditate with this douchebag in your ear?

This is a microcosm for what I can expect in 2008.

Let me explain. A few years ago I was going through a rough patch and my doctor, knowing I don't trust any drugs not sold out of the front seat of a VW microbus, suggested I try meditation. I said, "Yeah, yeah." Fucking hippie.

Then I ran into a friend while I was doing the least zen thing in the world - buying a 40" flat screen Sony. He overlooked my crass materialism and gave meditation his whole-hearted endorsement.

So I got a book. I read the instructions, and this morning I sat on the floor and gave it a try. I'm supposed to breathe in, count one, breathe out and count two. Breathe in and count three. This should continue until I reach ten. But if there's a random thought that pulls you out of your concentration, you start over at one.

How'd I do? I never made it past two. I had little fragments of crap poking into my bliss almost every second, the worst being when Jenny turned on the TV in the other room and I had Pat Buchanan pissing all over my chi.

I asked her to mute the bastard, and she did, but I wasn't any more successful. Finally, I gave up.

Tonight I'll try again. Nothing worth while is easy, and there's no such thing as instant enlightenment. Except for those things they used to sell out of the front seat of a VW microbus.

But that's another story.

Yes, I think this morning was a fine metaphor for the new year. Politicians nattering in my ear as I try to find a little goddamn inner peace.

Any suggestions? Have any of you tried this? Have any of you been successful? Help me out here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Music News.

Tonight is the night Molly's band kicks it with Bull City Soul at Local 506 in Chapel Hill. The doors open at 9:30.

You can hear two songs recorded in rehearsal on their MySpace page.

This is their third live performance and it should be a good time. Local 506's web site says you need a pre-approved membership to get in but Molly assures me this is not a problem.

Show up and I'll buy you a beer.

Other music news. Or not. I can't tell.

I heard on the radio that Queen was voted the Best British Band ever. That means better than the Beatles, the Stones, and the Who. Who are these people and what drugs are they taking?

Let's talk about bands. If you've never been in one, imagine being married to five other people. Now imagine those people are musicians. Sweet Jesus, it's a wonder any band stays together for longer than a few months. And it's a wonder more band members aren't buried in a shallow grave out back of a Motel 6 somewhere off I-85.

Now that we're on the subject of crazy people, let's take a peek at the underbelly of American Christianity. Any time you want a hearty laugh at someone else's expense, take a look at Christian album covers. I'm sure these people are sincere, and probably nice people you could trust to watch your house when you went on vacation, but dear God, they need design help.

And what's up with Christians and ventriloquism?

Can you do that while drinking the blood of Christ?

When the dummy speaks in tongues, do your lips move?

Are you trying to scare the children to Jesus?

I'm serious. You don't see Buddhists speaking through vacant-eyed puppets. The Pope doesn't open at the Vatican with 20 minutes of voice-throwing schtick. So what it is with this particular branch of American Protestantism that loves the dummy?

As usual, I have no answers, only questions.

It's Friday, ladies and gentlemen. Prepare your seat backs and tray tables for landing.

I hope to see a few of you tonight at Local 506.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What's a swell dame like you doing in a dump like this?

It's good to be back. All vacations should be this good. I went away all unraveled and came back knitted up with new energy, committed to work.

I saw art, lots of art. The Hopper exhibit was everything I expected and more.

We walked up to the Renwick when he found out the Corcoran is closed on Tuesdays. Really. Tuesdays. What are they, barbers? Who closes on Tuesday.

The Renwick was a wonderful surprise. Every corner you turn reveals something strikingly beautiful and odd. The main exhibit right now are quilts from the 19th century, some so full of color that you wonder what sort of prairie grass those Nebraska pioneers were smoking.

The painting up there is from the Catlin collection, a guy who wandered west in the mid-1800's and painted portraits of Indians and the landscape. Overwhelmingly beautiful.

We wandered off the street into a little Chinese restaurant. That's the building up there. We saw as we were leaving that it was Mary Surratt's house, the place where the plot to kill Lincoln was cooked up. Now all they cook are great noodles and kung pao. No one was plotting assassinations that we heard.

We took a walk down U Street, site of a few scenes in this WIP I've been working on for the past three years. That's the world famous Ben's Chili Bowl up there, next to the Lincoln Theater. We did not eat chili being full of Assassination Chinese, but we did meet a man who knew everything there is to know about the neighborhood and was very generous with his knowledge. Thank you, sir.

We drove past the new WWII monument on the mall. I'm not the first one to say this, but the monument, along with all the heightened security around town (papers, please) makes me want to dot my i's with an umlaut.

Finally, we went to the Principle Gallery in Alexandria and I'm thinking of buying this painting by Brian Martin. What do you think? I like it, I'm just not sure I can convince Jenny that we need more art and less money.

I met a fellow blogger who actually admitted to reading The Planet, or maybe she was just humoring me, I don't know. But, Chancy, if you're out there, welcome.

So, that's my vacation slide show. I completely ignored the news, politics, all that crap. And damn, it felt good.

But it's also good to be back.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I'm tired.

We're taking a few days off, going up to DC to see family, take in a boatload of culture and generally not think about anything like posting to this blog.

I'm telling you this just so I can lower that, uh, aggressive shot of the Volvo's schwantz.

Damn, that's disturbing.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Who gets this worked up over a Volvo?

Volvos are safe, sure, but they're about as stimulating as sensible shoes.

But if you're the brand manager of Volvo and you want to attract the gay driver, you don't get him to put down 25 grand by promising safety.

You show him an erect phallus.

This ad ran a few years ago but, not being in their target demographic, I missed it. So today, when I saw it in an article about pitching to gays, I liked it and I laughed.

But you have to wonder, if you ran this ad in The Wall Street Journal or the Washington Times, would certain members of the GOP suddenly abandon their Lincoln Towncars for this boxy little Swede?

Given all the GOPers caught with their pants down last year, maybe Volvo is missing a real opportunity here.

For another target demographic, they could change their nameplate to Vulva.

As an advertising professional, I've got a million of these ideas, all this good.

Volvo? Call me.