Sunday, June 29, 2008

A bold fresh piece of blog

Bold Fresh Piece of What?
Bill O’Reilly has a new memoir coming out, called A BOLD FRESH PIECE OF HUMANITY, which is what he claims a nun called him when he was eight. Maybe he misheard her.

Bad Obama, No Donut!
Senator Obama has voiced support for FISA, the government surveillance bill that offers retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies. Last year, he said he would filibuster the bill.

Well, if Bozell III says it, it must be true.
L. Brent Bozell III: “In the sad final analysis, Carlin betrayed the promise of the hippie counterculture, that the establishment would be wiped away, and only love and peace would remain. He joked that inside every cynic is a disappointed idealist. But hunting for idealism in Carlin's late work would be a search for a blade of hay in a large mountain of needles. In the end, George Carlin was a comedic genius who lost his sense of humor.”

I’m saddened that Bozell III is saddened that George Carlin betrayed the promise of the hippie counterculture. I know how much that promise meant to him.

I have it from reliable sources that when you turn into the Hulk, which can happen, your genitalia disappear.

The Miracle of Flight
Oh, to lamp a Lucky at 20,000 feet, sip a scotch, listen to Frank Sinatra Jr. croon as you exchange meaningful glances with a flight attendant who resembles Marlo Thomas. Instead, so I have been told, you can’t even get on the plane. All the agents have been laid off. You’re stuck in the airport with your crappy best seller. Or worse: you’ve lucked out, and landed a flight, and are stuck on the tarmac, air turned off, with your crappy best seller. For six hours.

The Wee Bride sent me a link to….

Before You Meet Prince Charming
A Guide to Radiant Purity
By Sarah Mally

How can young people be committed to purity and to God’s best? This guide to radiant purity combines the story of a young princess with solid, clear teaching of Biblical convictions that young ladies today need to grasp. Through a captivating fairy tale, modern day examples, practical instruction, and abundant humor, Sarah Mally challenges young ladies to turn to the Lord for fulfillment, to guard their hearts and minds, to identify and avoid the world’s thinking, and to shine brightly in this generation. This book offers Biblical answers to everyday questions and deep life struggles.

Re: Radiant Purity
The above book is 264 pages long. Young ladies wading through that tome won’t have time to meet Prince Charming.

Blog no more?
From The Tyee, whatever that is: “Technorati founder David Sifry, who compiles extensive blogosphere stats from time to time, released numbers last spring that showed a potential plateau of blogging growth. While the number of blogs was still increasing at an impressive clip, the stats showed more and more people weren't updating the old ones, thus keeping the number of active blogs stalled at about 15.5 million. Blogging activity appeared to have peaked.”

Cripes. Another writing venue that doesn’t make me any money may soon be closed. But there’s always Twitter!

“The move from big blogs to smaller ones says a lot about our cultural attention span. One or two lines of text are about as much writing as we can handle -- either creating or consuming it. Which begs the question, why did I write a bloated 750-word blog exposé? I could have just Twittered it in a line or two.”

Which begs the question, as intelligent beings, are we doomed? Twitter me that, Batman.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Out of blog into fire

Out of the House
Despite the temperature veering into the nineties, the Wee Bride and I ventured into the wilds of Oakland yesterday to go yard-sailing.

First we had a great breakfast at Lois the Pie Queen. Mm. Flaky biscuits.

The yard sales themselves were a disappointment. One was a sidewalk sale at a shop that had lost its lease. Unless you like all the potpourri you can carry, not much there. However, it was right next door to Lulu’s, the Wee Bride’s hair stylist. She made an appointment with Seth, aka Hunx from Gravy Train. Good band!

Then we stopped by Book Zoo, the proprietor of which was delighted to see us again. We’d gone there last year (not having a car we don’t hit the book shops as much as we’d like), and he still remembered us. Apparently, people aren’t lining up to sample his fine merchandise. But we did! The Wee Bride bought a bunch of British and Canadian Harlequin romances from the sixties. I got two John Dickson Carr mysteries (he is king of the locked room puzzle), and two by James McClure, who wrote a great mystery series, set in South Africa in the apartheid years. His detectives are Afrikaner Lieutenant Tromp Kramer and Bantu Sergeant Mickey Zondi.

I also got a booklet called KNOW THE NAVAJO, by Sandy Hassell, first printed in 1949. It appears to be a gift shop item, purchased by curious tourists to acquaint themselves with the quaint ways of the Navajo.

What I learned:

“A large majority of Navajos will ride in an airplane if invited.”

“Navajos have no curse words.”

“Navajos are hospitable, friendly, and fun-loving.”

“Navajos are cleaner than other primitive tribes.”

“Navajos love their children and seldom whip them.”

“A Navajo does not wear his hat tilted forward, backward, or sideways.”

“Navajos prefer brown shoes to black.”

“Navajos seldom die from snake bites.”

“Navajo men never whistle after sundown.”

We also stopped by a huge two-house yard sale, which offered hundreds of African-American romance novels, and dozens of women’s shoes. We got JARED’S COUNTERFEIT FIANCEE, VOODOO LOVE, and MEN CRY IN THE DARK. No shoes.

And so: home. To sweat and read.

BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK was on public television at eight. One of my favorites. Especially when one-armed Spencer Tracy beats the crap out of Ernest Borgnine. Well, Spencer’s obvious double beats the crap out of Ernest Borgnine.

In other news…
Deranged supermodel Naomi Campbell has apologized for assaulting two police offers at Heathrow Airport. But she has not apologized to British Airways.

Julia Allison
Who the hell is she? I don’t know. She’s famous! She was fired from editor-at-large position at Star, I know that. There was a profile of her at In it the writer recounts Ms. Allison’s meeting with Michael Hirschorn, head of VH1.

"’I just want to tell you how much I love The Girls Next Door,’ says Allison.
"’Yes, but,’ says Hirschorn.
"’It is really my favorite show,’ says Allison, her head bobbing up and down. ‘I'm hooked.’
"’Uh,’ says Hirschorn.
"’No, seriously,’ I love it," insists Allison.
"’But it's not on this network,’ says Hirschorn.
“Allison skips her way back to the elevator. ‘I think that went really well!’"

From an article in New York Magazine, by Rex Sorgatz: "Where traditional fame was steeped in class envy on the part of the audience and alienation on the part of the celebrity, microfame closes the gap between devotee and celebrity. It feels like a step toward equality. You can become Facebook friends with the microfamous; you can start IM sessions with them. You can love them and hate them at much closer proximity. And you can just as easily begin to cultivate your own set of admirers. Though an element of luck often plays a role in achieving traditional fame, microfame is practically a science. It is attainable like running a marathon or acing the LSAT. All you need is a road map."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Out of Iowa Blog

Dampness Abounds
I got an email from Steve Baker, Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre’s manager, reminding those of us in the Ducks that we had scheduled a reunion performance in Iowa City (where we first got together in 1975) last Saturday. We canceled it, thinking that we’d probably do better staging a show there in the fall.

Well, good thing for us. We would have been doing our show in scuba gear. Man alive. My heart goes out to Iowa Citizens. I hope you are starting to dry out. When we swing by this fall, maybe we’ll donate some sandbags.

Meanwhile, back in California…
Kern County has decided to stop performing marriages altogether, the logic being (I guess) that if same sex couples want to get married, by golly, NOBODY’s going to get married.

And on the op-ed page of the San Francisco Chronicle…
One of the oddest editorials I have ever read, by Douglas W. Kmiec, who is chairman and professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University. He wants California to make an amendment to its constitution, defining marriage as a union between a man and woman. His reasoning?

Man/woman marriage “… promotes the orderly continuation of the species; 2) avoids the uncertainties of single-gender effects on children…; and 3) takes respectful account of the difficulties of accommodating religious freedom that arise subsequent to the legal acceptance of same-sex marriage.”

Well. 1) Many married people are childless. Are they therefore not really married? 2) What uncertainties of single-gender effects on children is he talking about? Are they any different or more numerous than uncertainties generated by single parents, abusive parents, negligent parents, or non-existent parents? 3) How does same-sex marriage affect religious freedom, beyond the fact that certain religious people don’t approve of it?

But okay, the professor is marshalling his oh-so reasonable arguments to move forward to his conclusion, which is “…giving state approval to non-procreative marriage cannot be denied as a contributing cause to the decline of families with natural children.” Can’t argue with that. If you don’t bear children, then you don’t bear children. Q.E.D.

Then: “The push for artificial wombs and the genetic manipulation of intelligence already peppers scientific literature – a push that would no doubt grow….” He claims that this trend is “…of interest for 20-30 per cent of same-sex couples.”

And: “When carefully assessed, the acquisition of unnatural reproductive means often advances the interests of the very affluent through a libertarian exercise that would threaten all hope of democratic equality.”

Those elitist gays are going to destroy democracy with a bombardment of unnatural babies.

Finally: “…[T]he claim that there is a universal right to marry regardless of gender becomes a frightening ally of a claimed universal right to access to genetically engineered children.”

If they are not stopped, in other words, single-gender marriages will give rise to a whole new master race of cloned mutant children. And if you’re losing sleep over that prospect, well, I guess I’m glad you don’t have anything important to worry about – like sandbag shortages.

This weekend…
Friday night I emceed the Evening of Song, an occasional event which Joshua Brody (my musical collaborator, and prince among men) puts together. It consists of 20 to 30 people each singing a song, generally around a theme (this time it was “Memory”). It’s loads of fun, and it was an embarrassment of riches this time.

We had close to forty singers, which was great (including the Child Bride, who acquitted hersefl wonderfully with a Tom Lehrer tune). NOBODY dropped out. It led to the program being very long, however. And it took place at venue (a church) which has agreed not to have events run later than 11 p.m. The poor fellow who books these events was hovering around my shoulder as the clock went to 11, and there were still eight singers to go.

Luckily, they all got their moment, no fire marshals came, no neighbors called the cops complaining about the noise, a good time was had by all, and the event provided at least anecdotal evidence that maybe people are ready to sing again.

President Bush
Met with the Pope. He told the Pope, “You’re looking good.” The Pope replied, "Back at you." Don't I wish!

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Ipso fucking facto
Tom DeLay appeared on the Mike Gallagher radio show last week. I have no idea who Mike Gallagher is, but I have a hunch he’s one of those “right wing” hosts. (I’m a liberal. Which means I’m intuitive, not rational in any way.) DeLay told the host, “I have said it publicly, and I will again, that unless he proves me wrong, he is a Marxist.”

So, Mr. Obama, with that threat hanging over your head, you (or your comrades) may want to give Mr. DeLay (or his minions) a call to set him straight.

The host, apparently, according to The Hill’s blog, Briefing Room, said that Obama is "desperately trying to cover up what seems to be the kind of old school Marxist radical liberal failed ideology." DeLay agreed: “Absolutely. No doubt about it.”

I dunno. When I think about Barrack Obama, the qualifier “desperate” does not spring to mind.

Holy cow! What an amazing trip that was! Especially considering he’s an old school Marxist ideologue!

Where have I been?
For you legions of fans who hang on my every blog, I apologize. Personal issues have kept me from posting more regularly. Money issues. Personal issues. Scheduling issues. Deep broke-related funks have occurred. Simmering resentments, long fostered and long withheld, have burst into flame. I have been attempting to quell those flames. And I certainly do not want to share the heat with you. Certain resentments are best held close to the chest – unless you relish the mutterings of a quickly aging man ticking off his laundry list of grievances? And I do have one. If I can just find it…. Where are my glasses?

So my computer got invaded, uninvited, by antispywaremaster, which purports to be an anti-spy/virus program, but is actually a virus/spyware DELIVERY system. I have no idea how I got it. I did not download anything. It just showed up as a pop-up banner, urging me to buy it, because my computer is at risk. My hunch is that I got it from playing Scrabulous, which only formats properly on Explorer. I hate to give up Scrabulous, but if a legion of viruses invading me is the price to pay, well, it’s just not worth it. Getting rid of antispywaremaster proved to be a problem. There is an anti-antispywaremaster program, which I downloaded, and which located the various sites where antispywaremwaster lurks, but if I wanted that program to delete those sites, I would have had to purchase the anti-antispywaremaster software. So is the anti-antispywareprogram part of the antispywaremaster scheme? Can I go back to paper and pencil please? If not, I eagerly await the release of Firefox 3. Will it support Scrabulous? I await, all a-tremble. (I did get rid of antispywaremaster by the way. If you ever get saddled with it, drop me a line, I’ll tell you how to get rid of it. Mac users, shut up. Smugness does not become you.)

Why we love San Francisco?
Mark Morford has a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. I met him briefly at a reading a year or so back, and he seems like a nice intelligent young fellow. Yet he wrote this Friday: “Many spiritually advanced people (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) I know identify Obama as a Lightworker….”

Well, I had to stop reading right there. Pause for a moment. Gather breath. Resist the urge to throw the newspaper across the room – after all, I’d just paid fifty cents for it.

Now, I realize he is preaching to the choir - that is, the spiritually advanced people who populate the Bay Area. You have probably seen them yourselves. They glow. They glow specially.

But there is also, I imagine, a group of people not from the Bay Area - tourists, if you will – from places like Ohio, and Iowa, and Florida. If such were to turn to this column last Friday, what might they have thought? A Methodist, say, or an atheist? Or even a United Church of Christ Obama supporter? I imagine thought balloons rising over cable cars everywhere: “Lightworker? What is he going on about?”

Girding my unspiritual loins, I resumed: “… that rare kind of calmly enlightened being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet….”

Or whatnot? What? Usher in a new way of being on the planet? Cripes. Haven’t we had enough of that? History is full of evil jokers ushering in new ways of being on the planet.

Morford later goes on to cite JFK as a Lightworker model. He muses that JFK was assassinated “…because he was just this kind of high-vibration being, a peacemaker, at odds with the war machine, the CIA, the dark side, and it killed him.”

Well now. When I was 12, I worshipped JFK. I mean that pretty much literally. I started reading James Bond novels because I’d read he was a fan of them. But history has pretty much shown that JFK was in bed with the Mafia (and getting out of bed with the Mafia may have been a contributing factor in his assassination, according to some paranoid theorists), a compulsive horn dog (who used poor Peter Lawford as a beard in his affairs), was addicted to pain killers, left the Cubans out to dry at Bay of Pigs (another contributing factor to his assassination, according to some paranoid theorists), nearly destroyed the world with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and dragged us further into the Viet Nam War.

So. I dunno. JFK as Lightworker? Barrack Obama as Jedi warrior?

Crappy movies, anyone?
The new Indiana Jones movie sucks, apparently. Although, full disclosure, I didn’t care for any of them that much, except for TEMPLE OF DOOM, which I am alone in liking I believe.

SEX AND THE CITY came out. It’s like, two hours and fifteen minutes long. The fuck? Well, I guess if you have a Lana Turner movie with four Lana Turners, you have to give each Lana her turn. My favorite review so far, from Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, suggested that the movie be subtitled, THE LYING, THE BITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

Also, while I was in Vermont, witnessing my daughter’s graduation, I was staying with my friends Debbie and Paul. Paul was ill, and Debbie was gathering movies for him to watch. One of them was MR. WILSON’S WAR, which I watched after they had gone to bed. What the hell kind of movie was that? It had the tone of an airy romantic comedy, but it was about getting money to buy machine guns and rocket launchers to shoot down Russian helicopters in Afghanistan. Afterwards, I lay down, puzzled. This frequently occurs. With me. How’s by you?