Friday, October 28, 2005

The Anger Management Blog!

Ducks have flown.
Our little two-night mini-tour is over, and all the Ducks have flown, waddled, or staggered back to their respective nests. But we had so much fun that we’re talking about doing an extended run sometime soon. Sometimes we forget how really funny we were, and are. Leon is looking into grants. Hey, we’re a goddam national treasure.

Last angry girl.
Waiting for the Muni, I saw a wizened young female teen take a header on her bike, for no apparent reason. She shrugged off attempts to help. Her lip was bleeding.

She got on the back of the train with the rest of us, with her bike.

The conductor’s voice came over the PA: “No bikes are allowed on MUNI.”

She shouted, “I don’t have any money. Take me to Haight Street.”

The conductor reiterated: “No bikes are allowed on MUNI.”

An old lady said, “Haight Street’s only three blocks away.”

Another old lady said, “You can make it, a strong young thing like you.”

The wizened young teen shouted: “Come on, man, give me a break.”

A middle-aged guy said, “You’re holding us up.”

The wizened young teen snatched up her bike and got off the train.

“You’re all OLD,” she said.

As the train pulled away, she yelled, “Faggots!”

More people, angry for mysterious reasons.
This Thursday, Philosophy Talk, a radio program to which I contribute (streaming audio found at, traveled to Sacramento. We were part of a lecture series sponsored by the Stanford Alumni Association.

Unlike most recordings, which are broadcast live at KALW here in San Francisco, this one was taped in front of a live audience – Stanford alums all. (The hosts of the program, John Perry and Ken Taylor, are professors of philosophy at Stanford, which also helps underwrite the program.)

Now, the premise of Philosophy Talk is that topics are discussed from a philosophical point of view. In other words, solutions to problems are not necessarily sought. Generally, the show is about the framing of questions. It’s actually quite refreshing.

Anyway, this program concerned the Environment and Public Policy, and the guest was Terry Tamminen, cabinet secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

My function on the show is, loosely, that of Andy Rooney on 60 MINUTES. I do little bios of philosophers, some odd sideways aspect of the topic under discussion, a general overview of what philosophers through the ages have said about a topic, and like that. This time, however, I was not only doing that, I was also “warming up the crowd.” Shades of Ed McMahon!

The show itself went pretty well, but in retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to have a political figure as a guest (my opinion). Political figures always have some kind of agenda, and rarely engage wholly in an objective debate.

Still, he spoke well, a few sparks flew, and it’s always nice to see adults have a civil, intelligent discussion about important topics.

But after the show, a woman came up to me – she looked to be in her early sixties – and said, “We’re all college graduates. How dare you tell us how to vote!”

See, the program encourages audience members to call in with comments and questions. In this case, the show was live, so audience members approached microphones with their questions. She was referring (I think) to one question, which was about three somewhat controversial propositions Governor Schwarzenegger has been advocating, and asking Mr. Tamminen how we should vote on those from an environmental point of view.

The angry woman (Her voice was actually trembling! There were tears forming in her eyes!) not only thought the question was insulting, she thought that we’d planted him in the audience to ask it.

Now, it is true that we had some questions prepared, in case nobody went to the microphones - to prime the pump, as it were - but that question was not one of them. As a matter of fact, though questions similar to ones we had prepared were asked, I believe the audience members came up with them on their own.

Her anger was puzzling. It was obvious - to me anyway - that the questioner in question didn’t really want an answer, he was just making an obscure dig at Schwarzenegger.

Then she went on a rant about how students weren’t learning anything, that teachers and schools were infested with political correctness, and we should do a show about that.

I agreed with her (which I do), and said that education was being degraded by both sides of the political spectrum. (Intelligent design, anyone?)

She finally walked away, leaving me to wonder - why was she complaining to me? I was just the opening act.

Then another guy came up to me, also incredibly angry (His eyes were twitching!), and told me that environmental problems could be easily fixed through atomic and hydrogen-based energy. He told me that South Africa had recently introduced a new form of atomic energy (which I’d heard about) based on pellets. He said that he was an engineer, and that people who were afraid of atomic energy were being ridiculous. Why didn’t this program propose and advocate this elegant solution to the world’s energy problems?

I pointed out to him that the hosts were philosophers, not engineers. I also pointed out that people were afraid of atomic energy because of Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Three Mile Island, and the Cold War. He might be right, I tried to soothe him, but again, most people are not engineers, and they are ruled by their fears and hopes, not reason. (I know that’s true of me, anyway.)

He walked away, still pissed. He left me wondering, again, why come to me with your gripes? It’s like going to the guy selling popcorn to complain about the quality of Hollywood movies.

Driving back to San Francisco, however, talking about these people with Ben Manilla, the producer of the show, I concluded that there are people in this world who do not see what they see. When they look at the world, they see it through a prism of what they believe they ought to be seeing. When those visions collide, anger ensues. They are trapped in a movie of their own devising, trapped in their own heads.

The war at home.
Wishful thinking is often attributed to the left in the U.S. That the left are utopian dreamers, and do not deal with the world as it is. That’s certainly true. (The “Free Mumia” crowd is guilty of this. I mean, come on, the guy was found at the crime scene, with his own gun, beside a dead cop shot in the back. I don’t believe in the death penalty, and sure, give the guy another trial, if that will make you happy, but he sure as hell seems guilty to me.)

But this neo-con crowd have taken wishful thinking to a whole new level. “Scooter” Libby (the way I see it) was so incensed by Joseph Wilson’s editorial in the New York Times, that he personally did everything he could to out his wife. ANYTHING to undercut Wilson’s words.

Truth doesn’t matter to these people. They’re Leo Straussians. They are the philosopher kings who think they can manipulate reality so it will conform to the movie they’re watching in their heads. They believe they not only have the right to do that, they have a moral obligation to be lying bastards.

I’ve been a liberal a long time – hated Nixon, hated Reagan, etc. But these people are different. They’re scary. They may be insane. And we’re all living in the world they’re unsuccessfully trying to make.

In other news....
From Reuters, Professor Chris French, who surveyed 19 self-proclaimed alien abductees, says: "Maybe what we're dealing with here is false memories, and not that people are actually being abducted and taken aboard spaceships."

You think?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Go, little blog, run wild, run free!

Ducks News
The Ducks reunited this weekend for two shows here in the Bay Area, one in Berkeley last night and one in Mill Valley. We couldn’t get a gig in San Francisco. Apparently, clubs are now booking six months out these days.

After a very pleasant pre-show reception at Dan Coffey’s brother’s house in Berkeley, we performed our humorous duty, and acquitted ourselves with honor, aside from a few dropped lines here and there. Oh, and Dan lost the keys to his rental car. They were found resting on top of the left rear tire.

The DVD is slowly moving its way to a store shelf near you. It was supposed to be there last week, but well- um- it wasn’t.

Funny Thing
Dan’s brother Pat had a clay sculpture diorama in his living room. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then I realized it was a depiction of a horse pulling contest, in which draft horses compete in hauling great stone weights across an arena. It was a popular event at county fairs, and probably still is, though increased regulations regarding the treatment of animals have made the event more humane, and hence (of course) less popular.

Well, Leon had written a play about horse pulling contests, called HOSS DRAWIN’. I had actually performed in it myself. It turned out that this sculpture had been made by an artist from Cummington, MA, and was based on a horse pulling contest at the Cummington Fair, the same fair that had inspired Leon to write his play in the first play (Leon was raised in Vermont).
If that’s not synchronicity, I don’t know what is.

Plame, Miller, Rove, Libby, Cheney!
Despite following this whole scandal pretty closely, and reading every gossip and rumor-fueled blog that comes my way, I still don’t know if treason has been committed, and if so, by whom. But the whole thing just reeks of junior high school, doesn’t it? It’s like a big slumber party, with lawyers.

Ha ha! Her cover is blown!
New York Magazine: “… Matt Cooper, who testified without doing any hard time, keeping his sense of humor intact, [has] been telling friends he intends to write a comedy about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair. And Cooper, who does stand-up part time (sample joke: “ [John] Kerry’s idea of rebellion is having red wine with fish”), sees himself as just the man for the job. Cooper wouldn’t comment, even for a punch line. ‘The question,’ says a friend of Cooper’s, ‘is whether publishers are going to have the intelligence to want a funny book about this, instead of one that huffs and puffs about a crucial turn in American history and all that.’”

Eew. What if it’s Ashton Kucher?
From a recent New York Times article on our increasingly mediated lives: “Abandoning your own world for a made-up one is an ever larger part of adult life. For the futurist Ray Kurzweil, this is only the beginning. According to his new book THE SINGULARITY IS NEAR, we are approaching the age of ‘full-immersion virtual-reality.’ Thanks to innovations in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics, you'll be able to design your own mental habitat. You'll be able to sleep with your favorite movie star - in your head.”

Ray Kurzweil has also written: “Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity—technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

Ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light? We can’t even plan an exit strategy in Iraq! Maybe we installed the wrong software.

From Slate
“… Imagine if the town you live in transformed into one gigantic wireless hot spot overnight. You could feed parking meters with your MasterCard instead of hunting for quarters. Utility companies might read meters in real time and pass the savings on to customers. The next time you saw a pothole, you could instantly e-mail a camera phone photo to city hall….Firefighters would be able to turn traffic lights green as they race to put out a blaze. Police could tap into a bank's surveillance cameras to get a head start on cracking a heist. And emergency responders would be able to communicate during a natural disaster or terrorist attack, a need that became obvious in the aftermath of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.”

And we’d all spend every waking hour on the goddam telephone. The one installed in our immortal head.

What I want to know is: now that everybody has cell phones, and e-mail, and instant messaging, and chat groups, and networks, and blogs - how come nobody seems to listen any more?

From the Los Angeles Times: "
For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael Brown, dismissed the employee's [i.e. Marty Bahamonde's] urgent eyewitness accounts that the hurricane had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staff member told a Senate committee Thursday."

In other news….
According to Newsweek, the chronicler of vampires, Anne Rice, has promised "…that from now on I would write only for the Lord." Her new novel is told in the first person by Jesus, as a child. This is just my opinion, of course, but what Ms. Rice could use, more than faith, is a ruthless editor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Will Smith-ish Blog

So I called the casting hot line last Friday, the night before the shoot, only to find out that the location is in San Leandro – not San Francisco, as I had been told. And I had to be there at 6:15 a.m. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have said yes to extra work. San Leandro s thirty miles away, I don’t have a car, and BART doesn’t even start running until 6:00. Fortunately, I was able to hitch a ride, but it meant meeting my ride (a very nice woman named Elizabeth) in the Haight at 4:30 in the morning.

Buses don’t run much at that hour, and I wound up taking a cab to her. But at least she was there, waiting for me.

Now, San Leandro is in the East Bay, which would be fairly easy to get to over the Bay Bridge. But the Bay Bridge was closed from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. for the retrofit. So we had to go south, cut over on the San Mateo Bridge, then cut back. This we did.

We found ourselves in San Leandro about 45 minutes after starting our journey. Unfortunately, the directions given on the hot line were what back asswards. Instead of a LEFT on X Street, it really a RIGHT.

So we found ourselves making vehicular in the dark pre-dawn hours. In San Leandro.

Fortunately, we found a gas station that had a map. I figured out where it was, and we arrived on schedule.

There was breakfast, coffee, and then a lot of sitting around. Others (extras dressed as doctors and nurses) did their scenes, but my first shot (I was a worker) didn’t occur until 2 in the afternoon. I didn’t mind so much. I got some work done, and got through a big chuck of Neal Stephenson (I recommend THE BAROQUE CYCLE highly, by the way; it’s 3000 pages of bliss – pirates, escape from slavery, pitched battles, romance, Isaac Newton!)

I was a worker, getting in line to donate blood behind Will Smith’s character, who has just received money for the blood he donated.

We went through a rehearsal, and I couldn’t stop staring at “Will Smith.” I figured he was a stand-in, but he really LOOKED like Will Smith. Only something was…. off. He was thicker than Will Smith. He was a good-looking guy, but he didn’t have that Will Smith insouciance. He moved slower.

I was trying to figure it out. Maybe he was a Bizarro World Will Smith. But, rehearsal over, we seemed to be waiting for something.

“Will Smith” and the D.P. shared their favorite 3 Stooges episodes, and “Will Smith” acted out an exchange from his particular fave. And then Will Smith showed up. It was really strange seeing Will Smith and “Will Smith” together. It was like somebody had made a photocopy of a photocopy of Will Smith to make “Will Smith.” (I found out the next day that “Will Smith” was, in fact, Will Smith’s brother.)

I didn’t know that Will Smith was that tall. He’s like 6’3”, 6’4”. The director is Italian – Gabriele Muccino – and this is his first American movie. He has made several Italian movies, however, none of which I had heard of or seen.

I was in a warehouse, walking slowly down an aisle, with a clipboard.

In front of me, Will Smith approached a counter, and looked at a form. Thandi Newton was with him. (She’s Zimbabwean! And really really skinny!)

The camera was on a dolly.

After one take, the director told the D.P. that, after he’d dollied in, pan right to the form. The D.P. told the director that he was taking his cue to pan to the form when Will Smith looks at it.

No, the director said: “Go boomah!”

This elicited huge laughs from the cast and crew. I gather than Mr. Muccino’s accent and unfamiliarity with American idiom is a frequent source of amusement. Mr. Muccino, an affable yet intense man, doesn’t seem to mind.

That was pretty much it for the first day. Since none of the other extras lived in San Francisco, and I didn’t want to hang around until the crew wrapped, and I could wheedle a ride from somebody, I decided to take BART home.

Along the way to the station, I found myself at a very wide boulevard - three lanes on either side. As I pushed the Walk button., I noticed there was an Asian woman on the other side pushing her Walk button as well. I stabbed mine with my thumb. She did the same.

When we finally got the signal we desired, we both walked across. As she passed me, she gave me a huge smile, as though we had, together, achieved a major victory.

It was about thirty blocks to the BART station. There I found myself with only a ten dollar bill in my wallet. A change machine converted that into two fives. But there was no machine to break a five into coins. And the ticket machine did not give change. So I used my ATM card to purchase a ticket for 3.60, the amount it costs to travel from San Leandro to San Francisco.

Disembarking from San Francisco, I counted up my change, and found I was a nickel short of the 1.50 required by MUNI. The same damn BART change machine problem prevailing in SF, I was forced to surface to find a way to break down a fiver into something more manageable.

Unfortunately, there are few stores open on Market Street at eight o’clock on a Saturday night. I had to walk four blocks before I found a 7/11, where I purchased cherry Ricollas. My mouth full of cherry goodness, and my pocket full of replenished change, I resubmerged myself.

But all the turnstiles at Montgomery accepted only FastPasses. I was forced to walk another two blocks underground to the Powell Street station, and finally made my way home. I got there about 9 p.m.

The props cart had a bobble-head Hank Williams doll perched on it.

The call was for 6:18 a.m. I thought, that’s awfully PRECISE, isn’t it? Especially when everybody knows it really means “6:30-ish.” Which is EXACTLY what it turned out to be. After putting on our costumes at base camp (an old pier down by Fisherman’s Wharf), we were shuttled to the holding room in Chinatown, where we hung up our wardrobes and waited. There were about a hundred of us. The Asians had "china" written on their vouchers. The white people had "cauc shopper" on theirs.

We leaped into action on the second day, however, and were on the set by 9 a.m.

Here was the deal: Will Smith and Thandi Newton were walking down an alley, having an argument. We were walking on the street perpendicular to the alley as they fought.

I walked up a street, as Will Smith shouted at Thandi Newton.

I walked DOWN this same street, as Will Smith shouted at Thandi Newton.

I walked UP and DOWN the street at the other end of the alley, as Will Smith shouted at Thandi Newton.

Finally, I walked down the first street, without Will Smith in attendance.

Jada Plinkett-Smith showed up mid-afternoon with son, Jaden Smith, who is playing Will Smith’s son in the movie. She’s very short!

It is very difficult to keep Chinese non-extras out of a shot, even with the aid of an interpreter. Chinese non-extras seem, by and large, to be indifferent to the presence of film crews.

One of our Chinese extras gave the crowd handlers a phrase, “Mo Hi, Loy Loy,” which I believe means either, “Keep moving, thank you,” or “You’re in the fucking shot, thank you.”

A guy with a bullhorn was shouting, “Keep moving, keep moving, thank you,” when an old Chinese woman, walking in front of him, stopped and said, “What’s the meter?”

The guy with bullhorn said, “Meter?”

And I said, “I think she means ‘What’s the MATTER?’”

I believe she thought he was yelling at her, personally. Oddly, she didn’t seem that upset about it.

She moved on, before he could say anything more.

There was one guy who had brought his own portable television, and a fold-away cot. And he was dressed like a Mongol prince, in black silks, with long black hair, and a Fu Manchu-ish moustache.

There was also a Chinese guy, playing a single-string Chinese violin. He was there mainly for atmosphere, but he could play the thing. The funny thing was, he didn’t seem to know any Chinese music. As a matter of fact, the only two songs he played were Red River Valley and the Anniversary Waltz.

I got home around 8 o’clock last night. I was supposed to work again this morning, but when I woke up, my back had locked up. I couldn’t straighten up. I was hunched over like a 90 year old Chinese woman. So I called in sick. I eventually straightened up, but every time I sit down for an extended period, and stand up again, it takes five minutes or so for me to straighten up. Weird. Too much walking on concrete and sitting around on hard chairs, I guess. I’m old!

And that washed me out for my final two days as an extra.

According to the Scotsman (daily newspaper in Scotland), Mr. Fishenden, a technology officer with Microsoft, has warned British authorities that their plan to issue national identity cards could make identity theft easier. He said, "Unlike other forms of information, such as credit card details, if core biometric details such as your fingerprints are compromised, it is not going to be possible to provide you with new ones."

Jaden Smith, Will’s son, is really a good-looking nice kid. And Will seems like a very easy guy to work with as well.

To celebrate our 30th Anniversary, and our 30th Anniversary DVD, which is allegedly going to be available in actual stores sometime soon, the Ducks are gathering here this weekend. We are doing two shows.

Duck’s Breath LIVE!
Sunday, October 23, 2005, 8:00 PM
1111Addison Street
Berkeley, CA

And here:
Duck’s Breath LIVE!
Monday, October 24, 2005, 8:00 PM
142 Throckmorton Avenue
Mill Valley, CA
415-383-9600 (Or TicketWeb)

And finally...
From a website for a North Carolina television station:
"A cat in Dobson, N.C., is believed to be the only cat in the world with two tongues, according to a Local 6 News report. The cat, named Five Toes, was born with two tongues and five toes on each paw."

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Official Blog of America!

Slogans for a new America!
America: The land of mixed messages!
America: The Great Satan, yes, but so much more.
America: United in fear.
America: Love puppies, don’t eat them.
America: Evolution’s for suckers.
America: Hey, little buddy, have an iPod.
America: Don’t you want a big car?
America: Got guns?
America: We like porn!
America: Coming soon to a landing field near you.
America: What’s YOUR problem?
America: Have a nice day or I’ll kill you.
America: I’m so drunk right now.
America: Raising awareness about America.
America: Home of anger, resentment, and TiVo.
America: Yippie, wahoo, we’re doomed!
America: We have air conditioning!
America: Not totally broke yet, so watch out!

What’s sex with a Real Doll like? From Salon: “According to Davecat and many other Real Doll owners, sex with a Real Doll is quite good. ‘For the most part, it's just like sex with an organic woman ... who doesn't say anything and is brimful of Quaaludes,’ Davecat writes on Sidore's stylish Web site.”

Speaking of sex….
Know about Suicide Girls? It’s kind of a porn site with street cred (whatever the hell that means), featuring goth-y women who give the appearance of being empowered to… be something or other. It’s been written up in Rolling Stone, and the giveaway weeklies. Well, that little porn paradise is falling apart.

After various disagreements with management (a man, of course- so much for “empowerment”), Claudia, Sita, Molly, Gillian, Ciel, Annabelle, Angie, Shera, Annie, Genivieve, Mistidawn, Les, among others have quit. Many of them are blogging about it! Naked!

None of them seek careers as Real Dolls, however.

Kinder, gentler government in the wake of Katrina
According to the NYT:
“Conservatives have already used the storm for causes of their own, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages. And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.”

Oh, the hell with it. Let’s just turn New Orleans into a theme park and a string of swampy golf courses. The poor could have waded out of there if they’d had any gumption! And you know what caused Katrina, don’t you? No, not global warming. Single Moms. Black single Moms.

Pat Robertson
He was on CNN Late Edition last weekend claiming that recent disasters could just well be signs of the End Times. He said, “And before that good time comes, there will be some difficult days and they will be likened to what a woman goes through in labor just before she brings forth a child. And for anybody who knows what it’s like to have a wife going into labor, you know how these labor pains begin to hit. Could this be it? It might be.” So watch for single black mothers going into labor in unison. This could be it!

(But if it is, why was he so eager to have Hugo Chavez whacked? He’s going into the Lake of Fire in a month or so anyway. A year, tops.)

In other news....
I have a few days work as an extra in the new Will Smith movie, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS (yes, spelled with a "Y"). If I'm not too wiped out, will tell you all about it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Blogito ergo sum.

So it MUST be true.
The National Enquirer recently reported that President Bush is drinking again.

“When the levees broke in New Orleans, it apparently made him reach for a shot,” said one insider. “He poured himself a Texas-sized shot of straight whiskey and tossed it back. The First Lady was shocked and shouted: ‘Stop George!’

"Laura gave him an ultimatum before, ‘It's Jim Beam or me.’ She doesn't want to replay that nightmare — especially now when it's such tough going for her husband."

Job hunting?
Reuters reports that Al Qaeda is looking for somebody to help with its Web and video content. No health benefits, but you are guaranteed a gaggle of virgins when you die.

Lost n’ found
Karl Rove’s people have found an e-mail from 2003 that he hopes will clear things up for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Judith Miller has found an old notebook from 2003 that she hopes will clear things up for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

Scooter, lovestruck.
In a later dated September 15, 2005, in which he told Judith Miller that he was waiving confidentiality, he wrote, “You will have stories to cover – Iraqi elections and suicide bombers, biological threats and the Iranian nuclear program. Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them. Come back to work – and life.”

DailyKos speculates that might “:…be a veiled threat, a reference to cooking up more stories on Iran's 'WMD', or an invocation of some other VRWC. Does this have to do with the Aspen Institute, as some have said? Or with the recent meeting in Aspen discussed by Novak (in which Rove and Wolfowitz were in attendance...)?”

Earlier he had written: “I'm sorry that I can't crack the code -- but it's almost certainly there. All that talk about aspens and roots.”

I think not. I think it’s the letter of a man in love. A cri de couer.

Because they can….
From DISCOVERY, “Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music, resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.”

Pundit Race.
In case you didn’t know, the New York Times now charges readers on-line to read their most popular pundits. The new scheme is called Times Select, and it has been the cause of much grumbling.

From the New York Observer, here is the latest status of the op-eddies on the Most E-Mailed List. Maureen Dowd and Franck Rich are tied for first place, with Bob Herbert next, then Thomas Friedman, and finally David Brooks, Paul Krugman, John Tierney, and Nicholas Kristof in a dead heat, more or less, for last.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Garlic-y Blog

Blog spam?
Over the past week, I’ve gotten dozens of laudatory comments on my blog, from people with links to their blogs: on horse racing, Disney vacations, permanent laser hair removal, and Dating Ideas, among others.

Dahlia Lithwick in Slate, on Intelligent Design:
Now, if we apply the ID principle to particle physics, no one ever needs to put on a lab coat again. Quarks and leptons? They're made of God. And so are quartz and leprechauns.

Re: DeLay
I had no idea that Texas had laws against certain forms of campaign contributions. I had no idea that Texas had laws.

Randy Newman interview in Houston Press
"It's heartbreaking," says Newman, who was born in New Orleans and still had family there, all evacuated safely. His voice is suddenly quiet, hesitant. "Everyone talks about, and justifiably so, the music and the food and the spirit of the people of the town, which is this kind of…carefree feeling. New Orleans just always had this kind of inefficiency that I love. You know, it was never a place you'd wanna get your car fixed. It's early to write the obituary on the town, but right now it's…hard to be carefree. It hurts very much."

From popbitch:
"Courtney Love's father gave her LSD from the age of four. He would also take some himself, then paint on her naked body and watch her run around in an entertainingly confused state. "

What loving father doesn't do this? This is news why?

From kausfiles
Liberal position: Racist neglect caused poor New Orleans residents to suffer from the unspeakable things that only a racist would assume actually happened!

Conservative position: A fatherless underclass culture caused poor New Orleans residents to do the unspeakable things the anti-Bush MSM falsely reported they did!

My weekend:
It was my birthday. The Unspeakable Wife and I rented a car and went to Gilroy, of all places. As it happens, we both really like the funky downtowns of central California. They remind us of the midwest, from which we both hail - only with palm trees, and Latinos in cowboy hats. Mainly we wanted to go somewhere hot, and stay at a motel with cable television. Both those goals were accomplished, along with consuming an astonishingly bland meal at the local steak house.

We also wanted to go to Bonfante Gardens, a theme park created by one of the founders of the Nob Hill supermarket chain, Michael Bonfante, to share his love of trees. I like trees. The Unspeakable Wife likes trees. And we both like theme parks, especially if the theme is kind of… fuzzy. So off we went!

Bonfante Gardens did not disappoint (though the admission was a bit price-y.) After our bags were thoroughly searched by a young man in a security uniform, we were greeted by senior citizens in vests. Just like Wal Mart! There were many trees (including a series of cedars, twisted into various unusual shapes, called Circus Trees), and plants. And a roller coaster. Our favorite ride was a Tilt-a-Whirl kind of thing, in which we were enclosed in large garlic bulbs, and spun around. (Gilroy is the Garlic Capital of the World.) We also enjoyed the teenagers who operated the rides, all of whom seemed so stunned by boredom, they might soon expire from it.

O.J. Simpson was present at a comic book convention in Los Angeles last week. According to the AP, “… he was charging $95 for photos and T-shirts signed by Simpson, and $125 for autographed football jerseys and helmets. But one fan who turned up, Joseph Wells, 41, said he paid $200 for an autographed jersey.” Only a dozen or so attendees took up his kind offer.

This just in!
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