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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Paint, house work, and torture

I meant to go over to the house today to paint my railings before I put on the second coat of Floor & Porch paint (Behr, in the color Pooh's Thoughtful Spot). I was going to paint the railings with Satin Black Rustoleum after first scraping off the loose rust. Yessir, that was the plan. If only I hadn't forgotten to buy one little item during last night's after-work shopping trip:

The paint.

Well, this didn't deter me much. I did have a trusty can of Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer, which I could use to cover up the rusty spots for now. It would look like hell - I think it's a fun Rust color - but it would keep my newly-painted porch from developing rust stains (also a fun Rust color) every time it rains.

I meant to get out of the house by 9:00 this morning. I barely got out of bed by 9:00. I didn't start making breakfast (Apple Fritters) until about 10:30, didn't get in the shower until nearly noon, and wasn't ready to get out of the house until after 12:30. Which is when it started to rain.

It wasn't supposed to rain today. At least, none of yesterday's forecasts predicted it. Tomorrow, sure. But today was supposed to be cloudy, cool, and dry.

Screw it, I thought. There's plenty of stuff to do inside. I had two lamps to assemble, plus a chrome storage rack that I bought about three years ago. I also had to replace the batteries in all of the window candles that help give the appearance that the house is lived in. I had some new homemade magnetic poetry to install on the refrigerator, based on the opening paragraphs of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. If I had time, I would assemble the microwave cart that I bought yesterday, too.

I got all that stuff done, except for the microwave cart. I only had about four hours to work after I finally got my butt in gear, because by 5:00 I had to start getting ready for my cousin's daughter's birthday party.

Anyway.

I've been thinking about some stuff I read yesterday. The Senate reached a compromise with the Bush Administration that will make some (but not all) of our torture practices officially disallowed, while officially sanctioning broad swaths of things that the Administration was doing anyway. On the one side, some are lamenting the loss of a principle apparently held dear by our Founding Fathers, a critical element of our Constitutional Democracy - namely, the inalienable and God-given right to waterboard anyone we damn well please. On the other side, folks are seeing this as the end of America as any sort of shining beacon of hope in the world as we have officially chosen to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Spanish Inquisition and the Khmer Rouge on the subject of human rights.

The way I see it, this is simply a natural consequence of the theft of the 2000 Presidential election. Once that happened - whether it was allowed to happen by a bored and listless electorate, or whether it was an engineered inevitability that could not have been averted by normal means - everything that came after was merely another consequence, another pin knocked down, another opprotunity seized and exploited. The disaster was six years ago; this is the aftermath.

Can we survive the next two years with our national soul intact? Will things ever change? Will anyone ever be held accountable?

I guess the answer to the first question is, "We'll see." The answers to the next two are, "Well, that's up to you, isn't it?"

Sadly, the answer to that last question is, "Maybe not." Maybe it is too late, after all.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I bought some lamps

Yay. I just spent something like $179 in Target. It would have been nearly $200, but I signed up for a Target credit card and saved 10%.

I bought this lamp - a mission-style torchiere with a "gold-washed antiqued bronze"-finished base. It was $39.99.
So of course, I had to get the matching table lamp at $29.99.

(Images from target.com)
And I got a fire safe (on sale!) and another chrome kitchen cart (also on sale!) My kitchen will have a lot of chrome in it.

Oh, and some stuff happened in the world today, but I'm too tired to talk about it right now.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Death of a classmate

My mom was over at my new house - formerly my grandmother's house - today, putting up some dollar-store decorations that she got to make the house look more lived-in. She ran into a friend of hers who was coming down the street.

"I just took a cake to the Berry's house," her friend said. "Young Joe just died, you know."

I went to school with "Young Joe" from kindergarten through eighth grade, and possibly into high school - once we hit high school everything changed, and I lost track of the handful of classmates I graduated with from Catholic school. Joe was always a little bit ahead of the rest of us in the social skills department - cooler, tougher, more relaxed. He was the first of us to get laid (in the seventh grade, I think, by one of the eighth grade girls - I wonder if she'll be at the wake?) He was the sort of kid I always imagined would do very well or very badly.

Whether he did very well or very badly, I do not know. What caused him to die at the age of 39, I do not know. All I know is that he's dead now, survived by both his parents, his younger sisters, his little brother, and his new wife.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Major house progress

Today after work I installed some Magnetic Poetry on my refrigerator.

I was going to buy some for my new house when I was looking at the boxes of it I've had at work for many years. I turned one of the boxes over and looked at the price tag: $18.95. So I decided to leave what I have on our work refrigerator in place, and take the rest home. (I can always swap out words for variety.) Note: the best way to get Magnetic Poetry is to buy the Magnetic Poetry calendar the day after Christmas, when it will be half-price - it comes with a starter set. You can also make your own words using the Times New Roman font in the appropriate size (you'll have to work out the point size yourself*) and magnetic sheets or magnetic tape. (Be sure to leave plenty of space between words** and between lines***.)

You can also, I suppose, make Magnetic Ransom Notes by cutting words out of newspapers and magazines and attaching them to magnetic backing. Hmm...I wonder if that's patentable...

I have also purchased LED Christmas lights (will I even be moved in by then?) and the 2007 edition of the Old Farmer's Almanac. Still need to put up my Autumn / Halloween decorations - I'll do that this weekend.

* No, you don't. Times New Roman 20 point looks right, though some of my words from another set look slightly smaller.
**At least four spaces. Type up your text as normal, then do a global replacement of a single space with four spaces.
***1.5-spaced looks right. Double-spaced seems too far apart.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Falwell, women, and politics

Jerry Falwell hopes Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate in the 2008 Presidential campaign. According to a a report by the Los Angeles Times, this is because "nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton...If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't."

I went to college at a Jesuit university where many (but by no means all) of the students were Roman Catholics. (This is where I got to know a Muslim girl very well, though less well than I would have liked; whenever anyone goes on about "Muslims are..." or "All Muslims should...", she is the face I see.) There were a few Protestants thrown in, and even a small group of "Born-Agains" (or "Neo-Christians", as I called them), students who had converted to various Protestant sects fairly recently and generally walked around with just-been-lobotomized beatific looks on their faces. I was friends with more than a few of these.

One day a group of us was having dinner together in the upstairs dining hall, and there was at least one of the Born-Agains there - Dave F., a former drug addict who had nearly dropped out of college early on before finding Christ and becoming insufferably nice and clean-cut. I believe there were also two of the Born-Again girls with us there, too, as well as several of my other friends.

The year was probably 1988, the first semester of my Senior year, because talk had turned to elections. And very quickly we found ourselves discussing sex, politics, and religion over dinner - never a good idea.

One of the candidates running for some office at the time was a woman - not that unusual, even way back then. But Dave F. opined that he could never vote for a woman running for office, especially not for President. Women should not hold political office. The Bible told him so.

I couldn't accept this. "So if you had two candidates running for office, and one was a man, a Satanist who believed all Christians should be arrested and tortured to death, abortions should be mandatory, and all children should be made into sex slaves, and the other was a woman, which one would you vote for?"

"The man," he said, the calm, beatific, glassy look never slipping from his face. "Women should not hold public office."

The thing is, he wasn't joking. He was as earnest and serious and devout as ever.

Jerry Falwell is using the Ann Coulter "Chill out, I was just kidding" defense, whereby any statement, no matter how inflammatory or outrageous, can be retraoctively labeled a parody, satire, or joke, or made better with a hastily added smiley. (Example: "Hey, Ann, I hope somebody guts you with a rusty butter knife, ties you to Karl Rove's bloated corpse and leaves you to be eaten by maggots in the middle of a swamp. Ha-ha, just kidding. :)" ) Which means that any statement made by Falwell, Coulter, or anyone else who subscribes to that same philosophy can't be taken seriously, ever. Too bad their disciples don't know that.

But the statement Falwell made isn't simply a demonization of Hillary Clinton. It's an expression of a deep-seated misogyny inherent in certain Christian fundamentalist organizations that the Republican Hate Machine plans to exploit to its fullest. And that's no joke.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Revelry, Rattan, and Randy Monks

As promised, more photos from this weekend's mini Medieval Festival.

We were all garbed in period costumes of one sort or another, though only two of us were properly trained and armored for use of weapons. Rather than calling them "The Red Knight" and "The Purple Knight", we shall use more memorable names. This is Sir Elmo of Sesame...

...and this is Sir TinkyWinky of Tellytubbyland.

Here we see two of our non-combatant monks, Brother Inebrius and Brother Flatulus.

And what would a swordfight be without exciting background music? Here it is provided by our resident Bard on a silver flute.

The battle was so fast and vicious the warriors became blurs of motion, even in my camera's Sports mode. Note the swing set in the background.

Crusaders training to battle Islamofascists? No, just a fun weekend in the Poconos. Hopefully we'll do it all again next year!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A weekend of debauchery and swordplay


Just spiraling down from a fun weekend of cider, mead, Yuengling, rattan swordfighting, and archery. The Pocono mountains (they're actually not mountains, but a highly eroded plateau) provided an excellent backdrop for this event. And to make it an excellent all-around weekend, there was no loss of life or limb whatsoever. More photos soon!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Big day (off)

Today I took a day off from work so I could take my mom to a clinic for an outpatient procedure. But that wasn't the only thing I did:

- Dropped my mom off at the clinic for her procedure.
- Picked up a case of Woodchuck Cider at the beer distributor across the street from the clinic.
- Ran out to Sam's Club to try to drop off the disc of my mom's digital photos for processing. Unfortunately, their photo processor is down, and won't be up for several days. This threw off my entire schedule for the rest of the day.
- Went back to Nanticoke and got a haircut.
- Went up to my new house to check the mail. Talked with the neighbors for a long time.
- Ran my mom's car back to Sam's Club to get the tires rotated.
- Shopped at Sam's Club while the tires were rotated. Did not pick up processed prints, contrary to my plans for the day.
- Picked up car with rotated tires.
- Went to pick up mom, a half-hour later than planned.
- Waited to get her for a half-hour, since they were running an hour behind schedule.
- We both stopped and grabbed something to eat at McDonald's. (We traditionally get a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel after these procedures, but we didn't have the time today.)
- Stopped at house to pick up kitten for vet's appointment.
- Took kitten to vet's for preliminary tests. Turns out she's a girl, and has intestinal parasites. We named her Babusz, and will need to keep her isolated for another two weeks.
- Came home. Chatted online briefly.
- Ran out to supermarket for bread, cat food, and kitten milk. Also bought soda, water, ice cream, yogurt drinks, a pre-cooked chicken, and (at another store) the 2007 Old Farmer's Almanac.
- Came home again.
- Ate.
- Mowed the lawn.

Which brings us to here.

Now I have to finish my laundry (I've also been doing laundry all day), take a shower, pack a bag, and head out 70 miles to a friend's house for a mini-Renaissance Faire, where I will be Brother Inebrius, monk of the Order of Dipsomania. (My friend will also be dressing as a monk. Brother Afflatus?)

Have a good weekend! I'll try to get pictures!

UPDATE: My mom's still feeling woozy after the procedure and has asked me to stick around overnight. So I'll be leaving for my friend's place in the morning.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Plan 9 From Outer Space: The Musical

I got a little excited when I saw this headline on the IMDb: "'Worst Film' To Be Transformed Into Las Vegas Show." Yes!, I thought, Plan 9 From Outer Space goes to Vegas!

Unfortunately, the headline was referring to an even worse film: Showgirls. I certainly won't argue that it isn't worse than Plan 9 - any movie that features that much gratuitous nudity and gratuitous sex and still ends with a bunch of 17-year-old boys walking out of the theater shaking their heads and saying "That was a bad movie" is definitely a bad movie. But for a moment thoughts of Plan 9 From Outer Space: The Musical danced through my head. Actors dressed as a Dracula-ish vampire and Tor Johnson's enormous zombie could cavort on stage with idiotic aliens, idiotic police officers, and all the other idiots that populated Ed Wood's twisted masterpiece. Having songs pop up at random times in the story wouldn't really disrupt the storyline much, since it was pretty incoherent in the first place. (Who wouldn't want to hear the famous line "You're stupid, stupid, STUPID!" turned into the chorus of a song?)

Maybe someday...after I see my other great musical made. The Fast and The Furious: The Musical would feature actors wearing strap-on cars (in keeping with the spirit of the story, each actor would have to make his or her own car out of a big cardboard box, some paper plates, and a pair of suspenders) who would make Rrrrrrrrrrr and Vrooom! Vroooom! and Skreeeee!!! noises as they move across the stage. So far I've only got a few lines from the opening song (We're Fast, and We're Furious), but trust me, it's gonna be great!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Help name this cat

My mom and our neighbor began feeding a group of stray cats last summer. Nature took its course, and the cats increased and multiplied and began to fill the Earth until a few of them became roadkill and a few others went out into the Big Wide World and still others very likely were captured by irate neighbors and turned over to the S.P.C.A. My mom and the neighbor still feed the cats regularly, though the cast of characters continues to change.

A few weeks ago they spotted a lone kitten who didn't look like he would be able to make it on his own. So they captured him and set him up in our neighbor's pool cabana. He is a quiet, gentle, moderately curious kitten with silky fur of a solid charcoal-gray color. His eyes are a dark Hazel, and barely show any whites. He can hide in any crevice and perfectly resemble a shadow.

My mom has finally decided to adopt him and turn our trio of cats back into a quartet. We have taken him into our house and have isolated him from the other cats in a bathroom, where he can get used to the idea of living in a people house. On Friday we will take him to the vet to get him checked out and to set him up for future visits. But to do that we need to assign him a name for their records. What name?

For the past few weeks my mom has been calling him Babusz, pronounced BAY-boosh, a Polish word that means "baby." But we're not sure that name will work. My nephew suggested "Ashes", because he was fond of our dear departed cat. But I don't think we'll be using that name. I've rejected "Spooky" and "Smoky". "Shadow?" Maybe. I've also thought of "Lamont" and/or "Cranston", but no one would get that.

We're working on figuring out a name by Friday. Your input would be appreciated! Please submit any suggestions to the Comments. Thanks!

As I was saying...

Venezuelan president / whacko Hugo Chavez delivered an address at the United Nations General Assembly today that registered somewhere between George "The Animal" Steele* and Crazy Ol' Zell Miller** on the rant-o-meter. It's fun to have an illustrative example provided so quickly.

*This is a comment only on his antics as a wrestler, not his current political views. Not that I ever saw him wrestle or heard him rant, but I had friends who would repeat his weekend rants every Monday at school.

**This is a comment on his seething, spitting, eye-popping rant at the Repugnicant National Con-Vention back on September 1, 2004. This guy is just plain nuts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two popular search strings

I've been getting a lot of hits for two search strings lately, both of which I find disturbing, but for different reasons.

One is "firefox keeps crashing". This is unfortunate. I liked Firefox, but its increasingly frequent crashes forced me to abandon it. My gut feeling is that it has memory management issues that may require a substantial supply of available RAM, and maybe even lots of free hard drive space - neither of which I currently possess.

The other is "how to build a fire". What the hell is up with that? I wrote that piece as a sort of joke about the massive complexity involved with using a coal fireplace in Ireland. But if people need to look for instructions on how to make a basic wood fire...well, I'm kinda scared. (FYI: Use thin, dry, long-dead tinder arranged in a teepee to maximize airflow and thereby maximize the temperature of the base fire. Once you've got that going, you can feed the fire with pretty much anything combustible. I've even tossed an empty wine bottle into the center of the burning teepee and watched it melt. That's hot.)

Hot Document: What the Pope said

Slate has reprinted the text of Pope Benedict XVI's September 12 lecture at the University of Regensburg called "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections," complete with sometimes helpful, sometimes snarky footnotes. This is the lecture that has produced all the uproar in parts of the Muslim world. It's worth reading, for those of us who didn't happen to be in attendance in person. And it puts the violent reactions of so many Muslims in perspective. Hey, maybe they should give it a read, too.

One of the footnotes indicates that this is a slightly modified version of the lecture - six words have been added, at least. Purists may want to check out this earlier version, though it does not show the Greek words in their beauty and elegance. (I double-majored in Physics and Philiosophy, so I can read a little Greek and understand a small fraction of what I read.)

Anyone who wishes to seriously participate in the discussion of this topic would do well to become familiar with this text. It's not that long or that hard to understand. In reality, I expected something a bit longer and more abstruse. Check it out for yourself.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Professional Wrestling and international discourse

Professional wrestling has been popular for as long as I can recall. One of my earliest memories is of visiting my grandmother at her house one evening as her brother, my Uncle Steve, sat in a chair in the living room (my living room, now) and watched two wrestlers leap and bounce all over the grainy black & white television screen. (I think one of them might have been Chief Jay Strongbow.)

I always found professional wrestling kind of repulsive, even as a little kid. Worse than the antics in the ring - which in those days often featured quite a bit of blood, real or fake, I don't know - were the antics out of the ring: oversized musclebound freaks (well, they weren't always so musclebound way back then, more often just sort of fat) getting in each other's faces and shouting at the top of their lungs. Threatening, playing dominance games, putting on a show for their viewers.

A few years later I noticed kids in the school playground behaving the same way: getting in each other's faces, screaming, putting on a show for their classmates. Pretty pathetic.

In the last ten or fifteen years I've watched American politics devolve into pro wrestling theatrics. Morton Downey Jr., Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, the Sunday Squabble Shows. Whoever can yell the loudest and hit their talking points the fastest wins. There is no sense of decorum, or propriety, or rules of engagement or anything. Just a bunch of meatheads screaming at each other.

So why should anyone expect religious extremists to behave any differently? Earlier today a group claiming to be linked to al Qaeda issued a warning to the West. As reported by CNN:

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, an umbrella organization of Sunni Arab extremist groups that includes al Qaeda in Iraq, issued a statement on a Web forum vowing to continue its holy war against the West. The authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified.

The group said Muslims would be victorious and addressed the pope as "the worshipper of the cross" saying "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."


This in response to the pope's quoting (in a speech at a German university nearly a week ago) passages from a 14th-century emperor who expressed great contempt for Islam. If it weren't absolutely necessary to take any such threats seriously, and if it were not for the fact that this threat, in its specific wording, plays right into the darkest wingnut fantasies, the comments would sound hilariously like this classic (and utterly obscene) rant from Kevin Smith's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.*

So, what to do? Well, moderates of all sides could hide away in their bomb shelters and let their extremists duke it out, yelling and threatening and posturing for their fans until they finally get around to beating the crap out of each other - which would be fine, if it were just the extremists fighting the extremists, but we all know that things never go that way.

Or maybe the moderates can rise up and tell the extremists to shut the hell up and sit the hell down. In America we tend to treat our extremists like a crazy old uncle who happens to have some cash and some guns - you never know what they're gonna do, but you hope to hell it isn't going to be done to you. In the Islamic world I have no idea what the moderate population is up to, other than holding their tongues and letting the radicals grab the spotlight. There are moderate Muslims out there, right? Well, people, it's time to stand up and be heard. Your religion is being hijacked by a small group of terrorists. Time to storm the cockpit and wrestle the controls away from them. Once you're the ones speaking for Islam, maybe we can have a meaningful dialogue rather than a bunch of in-your-face posturing and shouting.

Until that day, I have a message for the radical extremists - especially the ones who want to do violence and kill lots of people on the other side in the name of your God. And that message is this:

You are the ones who are the ball-lickers.

*True story: this movie opened right around September 11, 2001, and this threatening rant was part of a fake website that was created as a tie-in to the movie - it only later developed into an actual website. In the days after September 11, Hollywood specifically was placed on high alert, more so than Los Angeles in general. Cars were searched as people went to work at studios, mirrors were run across the undercarriages to check for hidden dangers. No one knew why, what specific intelligence led to these heightened precautions for movie studios. Perhaps it had something to do with the al Qaeda plot to kidnap iconic American movie stars, where one of their primary targets was Russel Crowe - much to the New Zealander's annoyed amusement. But I prefer to think it was a fictional character's rant full of vague threats on a fictional website that tied in to a pretty funny movie that caused all the discomfort for the folks working at movie studios in Hollywood.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

As I said, BLUE

The porch is finally all one color. But before I show it to you, let's look at what it looked like at the end of May, shall we?

What little paint was left on the porch was a sickly shade of pale gray. Notice the chewed-up boards on the left - they had to be replaced.
The steps were mostly stripped bare. This made scraping and sanding a little easier.

And now, after WAAAAAY too much time, and many* paint sessions spread out over three months, interrupted by torrential rains and scorching heat, I give you...
Porch, September 17, 2006

...the first coat of paint. Now I need one more dry weekend to apply the next coat. (Note the blue 1996 Totota Tercel with more than 264,000 miles in the bottom left of the picture. Also note the neatly trimmed tree lawn and the shiny silver spikes on the rust-and-black wrought-iron fence.)

I complained to a friend last week how the fresh paint really makes the other problems with the porch (which will probably need to be replaced next year, or the year after that) much more apparent. The rotting boards, the rusting railings, the issues with load-bearing structures, the ugly and damaged mismatched storm doors. The more I do, I said, the more I find I have to do.

"That's the definition of home ownership," he replied.

*This originally said "half a dozen", but it was more than that. Sideboards = 2 sessions, frontboards and steps (not counting top toeboard) = 2 sessions, top toeboard = 2 sessions (scraping only!), porch floor and paint top toeboard = 3 sessions. I may have missed one or two days.

Enki Bilal, Jill Bioskop, Nikopol and Horus

During the winter of 1986/1987 I bought my first issue of Heavy Metal magazine.

I was on my way to visit a friend at the University of Scranton. It was either during Intersession, the winter mini-semester where students cram in a class or two in the month of January, or it was possibly in November, over the Thanksgiving break. Whichever it was, my friend was staying in her dorm, and I was staying at my house. I took a bus from Nanticoke to Wilkes-Barre and picked up another bus to Scranton from there. While I waited for the bus I stopped at a newsstand that had an enormous collection of magazines, including Heavy Metal.

The cover had headlines for the included stories. One of them was "Bilal's Amazing Trapped Woman". The story was a bizarre tale of pill-popping reporter Jill Bioskop, with chalk-white skin and blue hair, and the fugitive Alcide Nikopol, who was serving as host to the paranoid heavily-muscled bird-headed Egyptian god Horus, who had escaped from a giant pyramid floating in space. The art was apparently typical of Heavy Metal at the time, a mix of surrealism and heavily-detailed gritty realism.

Imagine my surprise when, after watching the premiere of Talkshow With Spike Feresten, I channel-surfed over to a movie that featured Horus arguing with Nikopol while a white-skinned blue-haired woman wept in a bathtub.

The movie is Immortal, directed by Enki Bilal himself in 2004, a bizarre and surreal mix of the story I had read (actually called "The Woman Trap") and its prequel and sequel. The images I saw were inferior to the ones which were in the comic 20 years ago, which is only natural when a grand act of creativity and imagination is crammed onto the movie screen and compressed into the length of a feature film.

Still, it was strange and wonderful to know that someone had thought enough of this story to bankroll it, to put up the $22 million dollars it cost to make it. Maybe I'll pick it up on DVD - it's available on Amazon. Or maybe I'll just get Bilal's entire Nikopol trilogy in book form - it's half the price.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blue

After several months of work, my porch is finally all one color. The first coat of paint is done. I'll try to get pictures tomorrow.

Reminder: Talkshow With Spike Feresten premieres tonight!

Well, technically Talkshow With Spike Feresten premieres tomorrow morning, at midnight, on FOX. (Unless it was on first thing this morning, in which case I missed it!)

This is the show that Adam Felber is writing for. I wrote more about it here. Check out the links to video clips on YouTube!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Pop music: good and bad

In a sidebar conversation at the Felberpalooza (OK, in dee's room as she treated Ann and me to her Limoncello, since we found ourselves in an apparently "dry" part of Pennsylvania on a Sunday night, where not only the bars were closed but the pizza places didn't even sell beer!) I presented one of my pet Crackpot Theories: the generally insipid quality of the music playing on commercial radio is part of a Massive Right-Wing Conspiracy to steer radio listeners (especially morning commuters) away from stations that play music and towards stations that feature right-wing call-in shows. Ann objected to this on the grounds that not all pop music sucks, a point I had to allow.

On my morning commute I can pick up about a dozen radio stations, half of them clearly and consistently, some of them on multiple positions on the dial. On the extreme ends of the dial are my local NPR affiliate - which, after "Morning Edition" ends at 9:00 AM and the local and national news wraps up by 9:10 AM, plays classical music for the rest of the morning, interrupted by "The 90 Second Naturalist" at 9:13 AM and "Pulse of the Planet" at 9:40 - and at the other is the top-rated "Classic Rock" station, Rock 107, which I listen to solely for the morning team of Daniels and Webster (Webster's blog is eventually going to show up on my list of "Blog Links", I swear!), since I cannot stand the overplayed "classic rock hits" that are in perpetual rotation there ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", anyone?) In between are several college stations of ever-changing quality, two pop stations, an "Alternative Rock" station that plays an inordinate amount of Metallica and Guns'N'Roses, several country stations, about one-and-a-half Christian stations, and several robo-stations that are fed their programming by satellite.

Most mornings I rotate between the DJs on 107, the programs on NPR, the Alternative station (when they're not playing crap or polluting the air with unending blather from their waanabe-so-cool DJs), and the two pop stations. I can just about tolerate some of the pop that's out these days, especially the stuff that has a good beat and you can dance to. Some of it is so insipid I find myself scanning the dial for the country remake of "Life Is A Highway" or pretty much anything else.

Still, even vapid, ephemeral pop songs have their value. Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl" taught everyone how to spell a fairly difficult word through the repeated line "This s**t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." And then there's...ummm...OK, that's the only example I can think of at the moment. (Iron Maiden's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" actually got some metalheads to pay attention for at least part of their English Literature classes, but that's metal, not pop, and that was more than 20 years ago!)

But on the other hand, Fergie (from the Black Eyed Peas) has, with her song "London Bridge", committed a serious crime that will haunt many, many children as they grow up to be tourists. It isn't the song per se that's the problem, it's the video. Actually, it's the bridge featured in the video.

It isn't London Bridge.

It's the Tower Bridge. It's a common enough error, one that was possibly made by the folks who bought London Bridge and trasported it to Arizona decades ago, only to realize (according to legend) that what they had bought wasn't what they thought they had bought. But Fergie had an opportunity to set many folks straight when it comes to bridges on the River Thames, and she blew it. Oh, well.

I wonder if the right-wing call-in show hosts will have anything to say about that.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

We are not the people you see on TV

I was chatting with a friend overseas yesterday and I realized that she had derived some of her conceptions of what Americans are like from our TV programs that are shown over there.

It's only fair, I suppose. We Americans get most of our ideas about foreign countries from popular entertainment. Thus, we know that Norwegians are a bunch of tall blondes and redheads who carry large axes and wear helmets with horns and regularly raid neighboring countries for their gold. We know that Australians all wear khaki clothing and bush hats and carry big knives and hunt crocodiles* and say "G'day" and "shrimp on the barbie." We know that the Irish are a bunch of scrappers who like nothing more than getting drunk and getting into fights. Only it ain't so. (Well, except for the thing about the Irish, that's totally true.)

When I was in Ireland I saw my first episodes of Gilmore Girls. Sure, the show has snappy writing and engaging characters, but the setting didn't resemble anything I'm familiar with in America. In one episode the entire town lines up to bid farewell for the umpteenth time to its oldest citizen, who is once again on his deathbed; when he dies, a town meeting is held to determine what to do with his property. (I guess he didn't have any heirs or willed it to the town or something.) But those things don't happen here. And don't get me started on Dallas or Melrose Place or Beverly Hills 90210, which are all very popular overseas. And CSI - well, the bad science alone makes me incapable of watching one of those shows all the way through, but what I saw (again, while I was in Ireland) was pretty unrealistic in the non-science areas, too.

No, if you're in another country, you probably won't get a good idea of what America is like by watching our TV programs. Well...maybe one.

The single most realistic depiction of American life is Married...With Children. Watch that show, understand that, and you might understand us. Otherwise, bear in mind that what you're seeing on your TV is not America.

*R.I.P., Steve Irwin. Thank you for all you did. I always thought you'd die doing something stupid and risky. You didn't. Your death reminded us of how precarious a thing life is.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nigerian e-mail scams

One of the topics of conversation at the Felberpalooza was the persistence of the Nigerian e-mail scams. After so many years and so much publicity, why do people still fall for them?

I got the idea to start a blog consisting solely of Nigerian e-mail scam messages that I receive. But I don't have the energy to start another blog right now. Here are two that showed up in my InBox recently, plus a classic parody:

From the Desk Of
Mr.Ismail Faraidooni
Manager
National Bank of Dubai,
Al Mizhar Branch
United Arab Emirates
E-mail:(removed)

Dear Friend,

This letter may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not yet met. The message could be strange but real if you pay some attention to it. I could have notified you about it at least for the sake of your integrity. Please accept my sincere apologies. In bringing this message of goodwill to you, I have to say that I have no intentions of causing you any pains.

I managed to get your contact details through the Internet myself. Time is of the importance and I am desperately looking for a person to assist me in this confidential business.

My name is Mr. Ismail Faraidooni, I am the humble Manager of National Bank of Dubai, Al Mizhar Branch.,let me assure you of the originality of the current one you are reading. during a recent call over of our branch financial books by our Internal Auditors and my goodself, I discovered a Fixed Deposit account that was dormant for up to 4 years. The tenured sum in the account is a total of Nine Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand United States Dollars ($9,538,000, 00). The actual principal sum is Nine Million Five Hundred Dollars ($9,500,000), while accrued interest over the years amount to Thirty Eight Thousand Dollars ($38,000.00).

The above mentioned Time Deposit Account belongs to one Mr. Neal Walker, a customer now deceased. We discovered that a plane crash occurred way back On October 31, 1999. Involving an Egyptian Boeing 767 Flight 990 in the United States. His family including Wife and Daughter were unfortunately on board the aircraft too. You can confirm it yourself via the website below: (URLs removed)

Under normal banking regulations obtainable throughout the world, a customer at the initial stage of completing account opening documentation is required to provide the name(s) of his /her next of kin. This is the norm, because of unforeseen events such as permanent physical disability, or even death. In this case, the late Mr. Neal Walker’s next of kin was first, his daughter, and then his wife.

In his Fixed Deposit Account data, I noticed again, that he prefers online banking correspondence, rather than being physically present in the branch. Under normal circumstance, customers send in their instruction on or before the maturity period of investments of this nature, but in cases whereby there is a delay in receiving such instructions, the bank uses its discretion to roll over such investment pending the receipt of an instruction stating otherwise from the customer.

In this case therefore, when Mr. Neal’s “rollover or liquidate my investment instruction” was not received by officials in our operations department, the investment was continuously rolled over up to the time I noticed its peculiarity. There is a law in the

United Arab Emirates that stipulates remitting any amount that stands as unclaimed after five years from the date of demise of a customer, in cases where provision has not been made for a next of kin by the account holder. Such funds are termed as unclaimed funds by the bank to the emirates treasury account. In this case, it is not that there isn’t any next

kin, but because they are both deceased. The emirates you must understand has a peculiar financial system, whereby there is freedom in the transfer of funds, tax exemption, and a very liberal system at the way funds are brought into and moved out of the country without attracting undue attention from Government regulatory agencies. These it is believed can go a long way at attracting foreign capital into the country.

I have taken my time to explain to you the intricacies associated with this transaction, so that you may be able to compare notes with what you might have previously received from impersonators. And above all, to give you the needed feeling of mutual confidence needed to for us to conclude this transaction, that I believe will help both of us achieve financial buoyancy in a very short while. This is what I am proposing:

(1) In order for the bank not to transfer the said sum of Nine Million, Five Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand Dollars ($9,538,000.00) as unclaimed funds to the emirates treasury account, the above stated funds most be claimed immediately by somebody standing in as late Mr. Neal Walker’s partner.

(2) The stated sum can only be transferred to a designated account that will be provided by Mr. walker’s partner. Full name, address and other details must also be furnished to the bank for ease in processing necessary documents. This details you will provide for me to commence anchor the transaction.

(3) The Bank’s Attorney/Legal Secretary shall prepare all necessary documents relating to the transfer of ownership. A sworn affidavit empowering you as the next of kin to the deceased and a probate administration document shall be served the bank after being duely notarized. This will serve as a legal document backing this claim.

(4) You will be required to provide an account and its details to our bank for the said funds to be transferred, as you shall then be regarded as the next of kin to the deceased. This information I will need you to urgently provide.

(5) Note: that the operations staff charged with affecting the transfer are all my subordinates in the branch, while the responsibility of authorizing transactions of this nature falls on my shoulder as the branch manager.

I am a meticulous, fair and rational individual when it comes to the area of sharing proceeds. Therefore I am willing to offer you 40% of the total sum to be transferred. The remaining 60% shall be utilized in-house. I believe this is equitable enough.

Finally, I can assure you that the above proposed transaction is fool proof, considering the fact that I am the branch manager who shall authorize the transfer, and again, since we shall ensure that we fulfill all the bank’s requirements relating to transactions of this manner.

Therefore I can guarantee you that you shall not be liable to exposure in anyway imaginable. I shall need to be able trust you, as much as you will need to do the same about me. Therefore, I shall advice you to

Kindly reply my email, depicting acceptance in good faith of my proposal. Upon receipt of your reply, I shall furnish you with relevant documents that will help guide and ensure your optimum understanding of the above stated transaction. Additionally, I shall require you to forward to me your telephone and fax numbers for ease of communication.
I am sure that I need not state that the foregoing requires utmost confidentiality.

Thank you.
Awaiting your reply via my personal email.

Sincerely,

Mr.Ismail

Hello Friend,
This mail correspondence may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not met,i know that this is an unlikely platform to start this kind of relationship but i am constrained by the present situation of my family and i request you to permit me use this medium to introduce myself.

I am a liberian and was the personal aide on domestic affairs to our former president, Mr.Charles Taylor.

I am currently in Dakar,Senegal and would need your co-operation in moving out some funds from here for investments in your country. For your help,i will be happy to share the funds with you according to an agreed percentage.

Please indicate your interest in working with me so that i can give you full details.

If i do not hear from you in 7 days, i shall consider it that you are not favourably disposed to accept my offer.

Thanks,

Peter West

Dear Sir,

I am an Uruk of Mordor, charged with the discovery of a number of valuable treasures within Moria. It has come to my notice that the mithril hoard previously owned by Ori of the land of Moria has been found by one of our cave-trolls. Under our laws, the hoard will be shared between our lord Sauron and the local Balrog, but so far neither knows the extent of the treasure.

Sir, I come to you as a respectful businessperson in order that we may derive some profit ourselves from this venture, I would wish that I could arrange for the transfer of half of the find to yourself, costing roughly 20,000 silver pennies. From this amount, I will then arrange for a further such that 25% remains your own, 5% goes for sundry costs (including hire of strong Rohan horses for use in transportation), 5% is given in bribe to the cave troll to ensure the quantity reported to our respective Lords is adjusted, 65% belongs to myself and my fellow Orcs.

In order that this be accomplished, I ask only that you provide details of:

Your willingness to participate in this venture,

Confirmation that you will not speak of this venture to anyone else, or wear any magic rings,

Your race and land of residence,

The location of your local Palantir or identity of your preferred message-carrying bird or beast,

Your given name, and any name you are known by in the Western lands,

The number of ponies you possess.

I look forward to your returning correspondence, which can be whispered to any passing magpie. I trust that you will ensure that no other dark feathered birds come to hear of this transaction.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

20,000

Sometime yesterday afternoon I received my 20,000th visitor since I set up my SiteMeter in late May 2004. I had my 15,000th visitor on June 20, 2006. It took more than 24 months to get 15,000 visitors, and less than 3 more months to get the next 5,000!

My deepest gratitude to every visitor here. I will continue to try to post something interesting, amusing, or insightful for your reading pleasure as often as possible. But remember, I'm just another monkey with a typewriter who isn't quite banging out Shakespeare yet. Be sure to visit the good folks in the Blog Links on my sidebar - they're the people whose blogs I read when I'm fixin' to read me some blogs!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Brought to you courtesy of the heroes of Flight 93

Nobody knows where exactly Flight 93 was headed after it was hijacked on September 11, 2001.Terrorists generally do not file flight plans. But its final trajectory made it fairly clear that it was headed for Washington, D.C.
What was its target? Nobody knows that, either. Washington D.C. and its surroundings are a target-rich environment. Perhaps the plan was to crash a second plane into the Pentagon. Perhaps the target was the majestic obelisk of the Washington Monument, or the Presidential residence, the White House. The most popular theory is that the target was the one that would have had the greatest symbolic value: the U.S. Capitol.
Al Qa'eda's signature move is the simultaneous attack. If multiple targets are hit at the same time, it's a fairly clear sign it was one of their attacks. It's the terrorist equivalent of landing a man on the moon: See, we can do this, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Flight 93 was supposed to hit its target at the same time that the other planes were hitting theirs. It didn't. Instead, it took a high-velocity nosedive into a field in southwestern Pennsylvania.
So what happened? Why did the other planes hit their targets, and Flight 93 didn't? The answer is grounded in one simple fact: it was late taking off.

Well, that wasn't the only reason. Maybe the passengers had a specific mix of skills and strengths that allowed them to fight the hijackers - at least one of them was qualified to fly a plane. Perhaps it was because there were only four hijackers instead of the five that were present on the other planes. And to a large extent it was because the passengers were able to communicate with people on the ground who let them know exactly what was happening in New York City and Washington D.C. Armed with that knowledge, the passengers of Flight 93 knew they had to act.

The hijackers had failed before they took off. Their plane was 42 minutes late. They had lost the element of simultaneity. The glory of the day had been diminished. They should have given up before they started. But they decided to forge ahead anyway. Allah would understand.

People around the world think the U.S. shot down Flight 93 with a missile. We didn't. Not that we wouldn't have if we had had the chance. But we didn't have time. Faced with the failure of their mission, the cowards who had hijacked Flight 93 chose the dishonor of suicide over the dishonor of being overpowered by the passengers of Flight 93. And so they took a high-velocity nosedive into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, leaving behind a very small and very deep hole.

So the next time you're in Washington, D.C., or even just looking at pictures of the place, keep in mind that if the terrorist plan for Flight 93 had been successful, the area might look very different. Look at the buildings, look at the monuments, and remember that they are there because of the heroes of Flight 93.

And because their flight was 42 minutes late. Remember that, too, next time your flight is delayed.

Images courtesy of The Architect of the Capitol and the heroes of Flight 93.

9/11, the War in Iraq and the End Times

I wanted to do a post about the failure of the Bush Administration during its first 234 days in office to exert any meaningful effort towards addressing the growing threat of international terrorism, despite specific warnings of an impending attack. But I can't muster the strength. Consider it said. September 11, 2001 resulted, in part, from the Bush Administration's refusal to recognize a threat and protect the nation from it. The Bush administration failed us. As punishment for that failure, three years later, 51%* of the electorate put them back in office for a second term.

But associate blogger Sienna Kirschenbaum has opened a topic of discussion at Fanatical Apathy: why wasn't there any post-invasion planning in Iraq? (Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11, never had anything to do with 9/11, so why do you bring it up?) Recent revelations indicate that post-invasion planning was suppressed by none other than Donald "Gracious" Rumsfeld. Sienna suggests it was because the pre-invasion members of Saddam's cabinet dressed something like American businessmen - perhaps the Bush administration felt that, minus their leader, these people would behave in the manner of American businessmen faced with a hostile takeover.

My own take on this doesn't give the Bushites that much credit for smarts:

I always thought that the post-invasion plan involved Jesus and the Final Trump. Babylon, you know.

Caught a few seconds of Jimmy “Crocodile Tears” Swaggart on Sunday morning. (Does anyone else think that with that headset microphone he looks kinda like Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff, formerly the resident jerk in The Avengers comic books, before his sister Wanda’s devastating breakdown and the “House of M” incident? Does anyone else have the slightest idea what I’m talking about? Anyway…) He was going on about Armageddon, and how the predictions will be coming to pass VERY soon. Now, preachers have been calling for the End Times since Day 1 (one of the biggest embarassments for the early Christian church was trying to spin that whole “this generation” thing to mean something other than “this generation”), but Swaggart seemed to be talking on a timescale of months, not an indefinite “soon”. We’re dealing with a bunch of whackos/registered voters who really and truly believe that Bush’s Discretionary War is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. And if such things are Divinely pre-ordained, would it not be the height of hubris to overlay merely HUMAN plans on top of them?


What do you think?

*Allegedly 51% of the popular vote. There were numerous irregularities in the 2004 vote, just as in the 2000 vote, and many feel that the numbers may not reflect actual votes cast.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It was supposed to rain today

But it didn't. It wasn't beautiful, but it was nice enough that I could do work outside.

I would much rather have spent the entire day online, chatting with lovely young ladies from Norway, Australia, California, Michigan, New York, and all over. But the demons Obligation and Duty and Commitment dog my steps and drag me along paths I would not take on my own. Thus did I find myself on my porch today, applying a first coat of Floor & Porch paint (Behr, in the shade Pooh's Thoughtful Spot) to the left and right wings of my porch, all the while talking on the phone with a friend I have not talked to in many weeks.

I wrapped things up by 6:30, came home, and began mowing the lawn.

I am still in the depths of my allergy season, so I have spent most of the time since coming back in the house sneezing and blowing my nose.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Big Day, and Felberpalooza nostalgia

Today was one of my Big Days.

If you're not familiar with the term, a Big Day is a day (usually a Saturday) when I do more than one thing in a coordinated sequence. Like, say, a trip to the dentist, a haircut, and a car wash. Or today's busy schedule: blood donation, oil change, car wash, porch sanding/scraping/priming, and yard work.

Well, that was the plan, anyway. I started with a blood donation, where I dealt with almost all new (to me) people, including a nurse who was a bit slooooow and who managed somehow to lose my donor ID card. From there I jumped in the car and caught the end of Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, but it wasn't an episode with Adam in it. (Hey, he's busy.) Next I was off to Jiffy Lube for an oil change and car wash, then off to the house to continue working on the porch - first stopping for Chinese food, as is my post-donation tradition. My sister (who is in town for the weekend) walked over to visit the house, but I wasn't in a position to have her help me with anything. After she left I settled in to a long afternoon of scraping, sanding, and priming.

In previous sessions I had managed (with assistance from friends) to scrape, sand, and prime about 2/3 of the porch. What remained was the central third, with wood that ranges from "solidly painted" to "ready to begin rotting". Working with it was extremely tedious, and as the day wore on I reminded myself of my motto for home renovation (the ever-true "The perfect is the enemy of the good") and determined that what I had done was good enough. A quick sweeping and mopping and I was ready to begin priming - just as the rain clouds started to roll in. Primer goes on fast, and dries in 15 minutes, but now I had a deadline to work against.

I quickly applied the primer to the wood that had taken nearly five hours to prepare. I slapped on the final bits in front of the front door, cutting off that point of entry for at least a day, at about 7:00. As the wind picked up ("The wind will help it dry faster," my neighbor optimistically suggested) I carted my supplies back into the house and washed off my brush and pad while listening to the start of the second hour of "A Prairie Home Companion". Listening to Garrison Keillor croak his way through a song (yes, he can't sing, at least not sing well, but neither can Lou Reed, and that never stopped him, so why should it stop anyone else?) I was suddenly taken back to the evening of the second day of the Felberpalooza, as Ann, Dee and I sat in a little Italian restaurant eating cheese ravioli and drinking diet colas and discussing National Public Radio programs.

It was a weird and wonderful experience, to be able to sit there and discuss such things without fear of meeting with blank, bemused looks of incomprehension or snide comments sbout my clearly Liberal taste in radio programming. Certainly, there will be other venues where I will find myself in the company of like-minded people, but there was something special about the Felberpalooza, a chance to, as Murray put it, "meet old friends for the first time." Cooper, Ann, Dee, Adam, Murray, George, George's Sister, George's Sister's Husband, little Cody - I miss them all.

At 7:20 it began to rain. So much for the yard work. I finished washing up, packed the remains of my Chinese food, and headed back to my mom's house.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Felberpalooza, Day 2 part 1: Grouseland

After the end of the festivities for Day 1 of the Felberpalooza Adam headed off to the airport to fly back to fabled Hollywood and the rest of us returned to fabled Grouseland, where we had a great time looking through Murray's 6" Skyquest Dobsonian. But soon weariness overcame us, and the Day's Inn crew (me, Ann, Dee, Cooper, George, George's Sister, and George's Sister's Husband) retired to our hotel. We sought out what passed for a hotel bar - a disco of sorts, probably 10'x30', with bad, blaring music and a group of what we eventually determined were women dancing with each other on the dance floor. (Conversation: "I think those are nuns." "No, I'm pretty sure they're not nuns.")

We survived the disco relatively intact and turned in for the night, vowing to meet at the hotel restaurant at 9:00 (or was it 9:30?) for breakfast. And we were as good as our word, which is more than we could say for the breakfast buffet. But food was not our primary concern on this day. Our plan was to return to Grouseland for healthful outdoor activities.

By the time we got to Grouseland, having first bade Cooper goodbye and safe travel,the race scheduled for the morning had already begun. We hung out, waiting for the race to wrap up, reading Adam's book and eating Dee's Moravian cookies and admiring Thicket the Owl in his coop in the back.

My camera can see through a wire enclosure with ease. Thicket had been slightly spooked by Taylor, a visiting dog who is also apparently a bird enthusiast.
A portrait of the photographer as prey.


George. This is a man who knows the meaning of the word "littoral". Note the Kevin Kline-esque physique.
George's Sister's Husband and George's Sister.

Eventually the women-folk (Ann, Dee, George's Sister) along with me* and George's Sister's Dog Cody went on a brief hike, during which I managed to take no pictures whatsoever. But it was beautiful. Don't take my word for it - head on out to Grouseland and see for yourself!
I think more pictures were taken of Cody, George's Sister's Dog, than of anyone else that weekend, including the guest of honor. Notice the intense, focused look on Cody's face. This was shortly before Cody propped himself up on his front paws, still staring intensely at the sky, and began to growl. But what was he growling at?
Oh, it was a hawk. In the sky. Very, very far away. I took this photo mainly on faith - I saw the hawk briefly, lost it, and took a high-resolution photo so I could scrutinize it later. Do you see the hawk? Cody did. Look, I've circled it for you.

Not good enough? OK, here's a closeup of the circled area, with a treetop included for reference. See it now?

Eventually the race wrapped up, the racers cooled down, and Murray fitted me* and Ann with helmets and mountain bikes in preparation for the major event of the afternoon...the Pike 2 Bike ride with future congressman Tony Barr! But that is a story for a future post.

*This is gramatically correct. Look it up.

DICK! and Don Sherwood

Well, it looks like DICK! Cheney can't get enough of this area. For the first time since the 2004 elections, he's bringing his aura of evil back to Northeastern PA - this time to stump for fellow Repugnicant Don "The Strangler" Sherwood on Monday, September 18th. He's appearing in the area known as the Back Mountain, which is notoriously congested during the morning commute. So I doubt either DICK! or The Strangler will be making friends and influencing people among the commuter class.

I hope we can give DICK! the welcome he deserves. I'd like to see the highways leading from the airport to the Back Mountain lined with signs that read "DICK!" and offer him the same suggestion he gave to Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate back in 2004. (That's when we used to imagine that the scumbags in the Bush administration could conduct themselves with any sort of class, decorum or respect. Hah!)

So are the Repugs in their Final Throes? Let's hope so. This country has endured their crap for long enough. It's time for a change!

If you're not registered to vote yet, do it NOW!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Talkshow with Spike Feresten

The reason Adam Felber was in such a rush at the Felberpalooza that he arrived on one redeye flight and left on another, without even stopping at a hotel for a nap, was that he had to hurry back to his job: writing for the upcoming Talkshow with Spike Feresten.

Over donuts and Maker's Mark, Adam described this show as being made up of all the silly, stupid, ridiculous, preposterous bits that get thrown out on the table at writers' meetings, get big laughs among the writers, and then get discarded because they couldn't possibly work on TV. To see his point, head on over to YouTube and view some "leaked" bits: Electric Lincoln, Do-It-Yourself Man on the Street Interviews (check out the "alcoholic writer" on the right!), Pluto, and more. It's not like anything you've seen before, and may have an unsettling effect on you. (Pluto is definitely not for kids!)

If you have a MySpace page, you can become a friend of the show. And wouldn't that just make your life worthwhile?

Talkshow with Spike Feresten (known among the folks at Felberpalooza as The Adam Felber Show!) premieres Saturday, September 16 at midnight. (Is that midnight at the start of September 16, or midnight at the end of September 16?) Start trying to figure out how to program your VCR or TiVo now!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How Don Sherwood plans to observe September 11

A question came up in a sidebar discussion at the Felberpalooza: how should September 11 be observed?

For some it's a day of rah-rah patriotism, celebrating the triumph of democracy over terrorism and the capture of the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Saddam Hussein.* For others it's a day of quiet and somber reflection upon the lives that were lost on that day, and the freedoms that were lost in the days that followed. For others it's a day of angrily remembering the first 234 days of the Bush administration, when dealing the threat of terrorism ranked right up there on the President's priority list with the need to find alternative energy sources and the need to brush up on French existentialism.

For Congressman Don Sherwood, it's a day to run a political fundraiser.

Yes, as Gort at Gort42 reports, Don Sherwood, the man who burst onto the national stage by throttling a mistress he was supposed to be sensually massaging, intends to spend September 11th building up his campaign chest.

If it were just Sherwood, this could be written off as a crass misjudgment: either he is being ignorant of the day and insensitive to those who find fundraising on such a day disrespectful, or he is trying to capitalize on the feelings that day engenders by converting angry patriots into generous donors. But it's not just him. As the website DownWithTyranny! reports, this is part of a coordinated series of September 11 political fundraisers masterminded by that smug, evil, soulless, sphincter-faced Turd Blossom, Bush's brain and bestest buddy, Karl Rove. Is it any surprise?

Karl Rove, you inhuman piece of filth, may you someday get what's coming to you. And may your fellow travellers like Sherwood be right there alongside you, sharing in your eternal reward.

Get angry. Do something about it.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, September 6, Don Sherwood has backed away from the September 11 fundraiser. Far away. In a typical bit of Repugnicant retconning, it turns out he was never even really involved with setting the date of the September 11 fundraiser. According to Sherwood spokesweasel Jake O'Donnell, "The Congressman has an aggressive fundraiser who okayed it originally. The event will be rescheduled for a future date." So, see? It wasn't Sherwood. It was somebody else's fault. Not Don Sherwood's fault at all.

I bet this makes Sherwood so mad he could just strangle somebody.

*This is not true. I know that. You know that. Do they know that?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Felberpalooza: Day 1

I left Nanticoke much later than I meant to (around 10:40 Saturday morning, after setting up flood contingencies and stopping at the bakery and the bank) and drove for more than 150 miles (of a total of over 210 miles) crossways through Ernesto to get to Grouseland. My trip took nearly an hour longer than expected, and I arrived at Grouseland to see...a single car. The festivities had been relocated to a nearby (relatively speaking) hall, and Murray's lovely wife (forgive me, I am terrible with names, and my computer is terrible with looking up names while I am composing a blog entry) led me there personally. We pulled up to the hall, and I stepped into another world...
There he was: Adam Felber, whom we had come so far to meet and who had travelled so far to meet us, seated at a bar surrounded by what I knew must be Felbernauts. (Above, the Felbernauts attend to the words of their charismatic leader: Adam, Cooper, Ann, Dee, Murray, and Al. Not shown: yr. hmbl. blogger/photographer, and George, George's Sister, and George's Sister's Husband, all of whom showed up later.)
Felbernauts believe in the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating. Note the bottled water.
Adam tempts fate and risks losing face (literally) by keeping George's Sister's Dog Cody's rawhide stick away from him.
The guest of honor, satirist / writer / radio personality / blogger Adam Felber. Note the luggage. Adam flew in on Saturday morning, and was flying out early Sunday morning. As the evening wore on, it made less and less sense for him to stop at a hotel for a few hours, and he left directly for the airport Saturday evening. The bottle of Maker's Mark that didn't end up in Adam's luggage.

Despite a serious disruption caused by Tropical Storm Ernesto, the Felberpalooza was a lot of mellow fun. Felbernauts were there from Seattle, Pittsbugh, two parts of North Carolina, Virginia Beach, Nanticoke, and, of course, Grouseland. One thing that we found remarkable (aside from the fact that Ann, Dee, and George's Sister are all redheads): every person there was exactly like you would expect they would be based on their comments on Fanatical Apathy. We had a small but intense group of smart, funny, friendly people, and we had a wonderful time. We are all looking forward to future events, perhaps more centrally located to allow for ease of travel for more Felbernauts. But such plans can be left to themselves for now.

The night wore on, Adam had to go, and we had to relinquish the hall. After a hasty partial cleanup (Murray, who had arranged the hall and the festivities, also arranged a cleanup crew to finish things off) and a quick standup reading from Schrodinger's Ball (we nearly forgot!), we withdrew to Grouseland for some backyard astronomy through Murray's 6" Skyquest Dobsonian. Then it was off to the Day's Inn in Town Hill to rest up for the rigors of Day 2 of Felberpalooza.

Back from the Felberpalooza

I'm back from the Felberpalooza. And boy, is my butt sore.

Pictures, I got pictures! But you'll have to wait until I've mowed my lawn to see them.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TEIGRA!

Today is Teigra's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope it's a good one!

GO time

OK. It looks like the worst of Ernesto missed us. I'll set up the pumps and dams, pack my stuff, grab some pastries for the Felbernauts from Sanitary Bakery, and head out.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ernesto and Adam

Ernesto is here. Ragged outer clouds covered the sky as I left work today. Rain is coming down now, light and sporadic. It's expected to get heavier later tonight. Heavy enough to flood? I don't know. We'll see in the morning.

During the June Flood of '06 five weeks ago I learned the value of using towels as dams, something I did in the April '05 Flood, too. This time I think I'll pull out another weapon: puppy training pads, which we've been buying ever since my cats started spraying all over the house in response to major household disruptions starting in July and August of 2005 (my father going into the hospital, my mother going into the hospital, my father going into the nursing home, my mother going to Florida, my father dying...) Hopefully I won't need to use them.

Adam will only be at the Felberpalooza tomorrow. If I miss him, the other Felbernauts will still be there, but I'd really like to meet him. If this storm passes to the west, the worst will miss us. Of course, it will then hit the Felberpalooza head on...we'll see in the morning.