Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This Just In

RFB just called with a report from her afternoon commute. She's behind a car with a bumper sticker that reads:


I found it on the web, here.

Every Day's the Fourth of July

Check it out

Monday, January 29, 2007

Conconi on Dubya

Chuck Conconi wrote the gossip column for the Washington Post back in the day. He's still one of the keenest and funniest observers of the Washington scene. Here's his take on the current president, as reported in a piece in today's Examiner.

“Who will be above and below President Bush when history ranks his presidency against the others?”

“Nobody. The man’s in a league of his own, but some historians will probably place him over Robert Hoover, the president of the Animal House fraternity.”
– Chuck Conconi, Qorvis Communications

Insults

Friends, I need your help.

I'm especially aggravated tonight. And confronting the twit who's caused the aggravation is only likely to lead to further aggravation.

Instead, I've decided to let loose with the worst insults I can think of here, and then ask you to match them.

Then, whenever any of us is confronted with an incorrigible twit, instead of escalating the confrontation, we can take a deep breath and come here, run through the whole list of insults, dissipate our aggression, and move on to more constructive pursuits.

Some of you are particularly skilled ranters. And some who aren't such good ranters probably have a few good deprecations they'd love to say just once, somewhere, for the sheer cussed joy of it.

This project will work best if there are a lot of insults to choose from. Here are a few to start with:
  • If he were on fire, I wouldn't cross the street to piss on him.
  • She's got good medical coverage. Why do you suppose she doesn't have that pole removed?
  • The only difference between him and a barrel of sewage is the barrel.
  • For 10 years in Vegas, she worked as Don Rickles' Muse.
Your turn.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Delusional

What does it mean to be delusional?

For one take on the topic, check out this post by IC.

For a more political view, here's Vice President Dick
Cheney (R-OZ) and a diagnosis by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).



Which Dick makes more sense to you?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Movie Magic

Monkeyboy's friend, thekidmakesmovies, wrote the script. His dad is a TV director and all-around swell guy.

This took the better part of an afternoon to film and then thekidmakesmovies and his dad did all the cutting and splicing and adding music, etc.

Too late for the Oscars or the Golden Globes this year. But it's a start:

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taxation Without Representation

O.K. I reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia, so I can tell you that taxation WITH representation is no great shakes, either. Still, I accept the notion that taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.

But I'm continually amazed at what a hard sell it is to the rest of the country that D.C. having no voting representation in Congress is a denial of basic civil rights on an scale that ought to be embarrassing for a country that thinks itself the bestest darn democracy in the whole blessed world.

Most of the country may think that all D.C. residents are a part of the government, or that all the land is government land or that some other such wacky excuse exists for disenfranchising a jurisdiction with more population than three or four states.

If so, most of the country would be as wrong as a bachelor party where all the groom's buddies knit quilts, tat doilies and darn socks.

Or they may think that D.C. residents don't pay federal taxes so they shouldn't get federal representation. Wrong again. That's Puerto Rico, or Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here in D.C., residents pay the same federal taxes as you and I do, just as happily.

And D.C.'s sons and daughters are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and G-d only knows what other backwater quagmires our witless president has committed us to this week.

Two reasons stop D.C. voting in its tracks. One is bare-knuckled Republican opportunism. The other is a truly unseemly level of racist paternalism.

The D.C. voting population is 8 - 1 Democratic. Republicans simply refuse to permit electoral justice in the face of a result that would net the Dems 2 Senators and a Representative.

And when D.C. does vote, D.C. voters can be counted on, occasionally, to elect rogues. Marion Barry is the most obvious example, but, if you look into it we've also got less well-known buffoons in our recent electoral past. My favorites are, for chutzpah, former Councilman H.R. Crawford and, for truly outlandish demagoguery, former School Board members Valencia Muhammad and Calvin Lockridge. Don't ask.

But since when is electing fools and crooks sufficient reason to deny a population a vote in the legislature that taxes them. The Jack Abramoff scandal will take down a number of former and current congressmen before Canary Jack stops singing. Is anyone proposing to take the vote away from the residents of jailbird Rob Ney's former Ohio district?

How about disenfranchising Duke Cunningham's former San Diego constituents?

Did anyone ever suggest that Chicago ought not to be allowed to vote generations of Daleys into office, despite their propensity for attracting the multiple votes of rotting cadavers?

Hell, electing crooks is the state pastime in Louisiana. In the Eddie Edwards vs. David Duke Governor's race, there were bumper stickers that said "Vote for the Crook, It's Important."

(And it was. Duke was, and is, an avowed racist, an admirer of such notable organizations as the Ku Klux Klan, and a Holocaust denier, to boot. Now there's a trifecta for ya.)

Notice anything about the pigmentation of all the non-D.C. characters noted above? You've got it; they're all various shades of pink.

But let residents of Chocolate City agitate for voting rights in Congress and all of a sudden it's "Well, they really need to get their budget under control first" or "Do you think they're really ready for the responsibility?" or "Didn't they re-elect a damn fool Mayor who got caught smoking crack?"

It's Republicans and racists who are keeping hundreds of thousands of taxpaying American citizens from having a vote in the halls of Congress. It's just that simple.

Republicans who don't fall into the latter camp as well ought to be bloody embarrassed at the company they're keeping.

Faulty Time Management

From my friend Michel:


Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and, when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows that he cheats on me. It is so humiliating.

Also, since he lost his job five years ago, he hasn't even looked for a new one. All he does all day is smoke cigars, cruise around and talk with his buddies while I have to work to pay the bills.

Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I may be a lesbian. What should I do?

Signed: Clueless


Dear Clueless;
Grow up and dump him.

Good grief, woman. You don't need him anymore. You're the United States Senator from New York.


If you laughed at this, I'll credit my cousin for passing it along to me.

If not, it's all my fault.

And if you happen to know the original source of this, I'd love to give credit there too. Just let me know, with some credible reason to believe you've got the real author. The earliest reference I can find so far is this.

Thanks.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Hmmm

Thanks to Tara, at e.clec.tic spaghetti, for this --- I think.

Your Brain is 53% Female, 47% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female
You are both sensitive and savvy
Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed
But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

State of the Union

In honor of the State of the Union speech:

Webb Right - Will Wrong
Darfur: "Not On My Watch," Wrote Bush - Let's Hold Him to It
Commuter Comedy
King of the Hill
Policing a Civil War
Tempis Fugit
Mission Accomplished
Dolt and a Sith Lord

Hotness Deficiency

WaPo missed Chuck Hagel. Does he make for at least one Republican presidential hopeful who doesn't rate a negative number on the hotness scale?

Other nominations?

Monday, January 22, 2007

That's Hot

The Washington Post lists these masochists as presidential timber, '08-style.

A trusted advisor suggests choosing on the basis of hotness.

Obama wins in a runaway.

But in that bunch of mugs, Homer Simpson would rate 3rd or 4th hottest.

Jon Stewart for President.

Weather or not

One of the joys of living in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area is the charming sense of level-headedness we bring to the topic of inclement weather.

If two lobbyists stand at the corner of 15th and K and one whispers, in the quietest voice possible, the word snow, the effing city goes on panic alert.

The T.V. weathermen all start flailing their arms in a manner reminiscent of the robot on Lost in Space, shrieking "Danger, Will Robinson ... Danger, Will Robinson."

And the Fairfax County Public Schools announce they are starting two hours late. (I suppose I should be grateful they didn't cancel the school day altogether.)

So now it's ten minutes to four pm and I've still got more than half a day's work on my plate.

Not to mention, I'm now never going to convince Monkeyboy that there is no causal connection between wearing one's p.j.'s inside-out and getting a snow day or a snow-delayed school opening.

9-year-olds aren't big on the difference between coincidence and causality.

He's also heard, through the ever-reliable schoolyard grapevine, that flushing a tray of ice cubes down the toilet guarantees time off for overnight snow.

I put my foot down about that one. Inside-out p.j.s are harmless and look kinda cute. But don't mess with daddy's crapper.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A.B.C.

Anybody But Clinton.

Hillary is the perfect candidate for Dems who prefer to "make a statement" than to actually elect someone.

She's as damnably sure she's smarter than everyone in the room as Dubya is damnably sure he's never made a mistake.

She'll lead our party to a glorious defeat. Me, I'd rather win.

And she will probably never get why most sensible people think she's not such a great mom until Chelsea starts confiding to her about a philandering boyfriend, fiance or husband.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Play Along at Home

Our neighborhood elementary school is running a fund drive to put up a "marquee" in front of the school. You know, the kind of thing that says "Band Concert, Tuesday, 6:30" or "Happy Summer Vacation"

The idea is that, if you donate $35.00, you can have a brick in the wall that will hold the marquee inscribed.

The inscription can be up to three lines, with up to 18 characters in each line (including spaces).

They're supposed to say things like:

We Love Generic
The Smith Family
Ed, Sue & Phlegmy
But ever since RFB suggested buying one and inscribing it with lyrics from Pink Floyd's The Wall, I've been coming up with thoroughly inappropriate inscriptions.

Now I think we could get away with:

All in all it's
just another
brick in the wall

But not:
We don't
need no
education
and certainly not:
Hey, teacher
leave those
kids alone
Thinking them up is more fun than haikus.

Here are a couple more:

Education
Shmeducation
Let's eat

Live fast, die
young, leave clean
underwear

I love this
school.
Humbert Humbert

Now you try.
[Author's note: edited after original posting on account of Author's malignant superego. That's bullshit! Opposition to this editing was voiced by Author's raging id. Author's ego could not be reached for comment]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Monkeyboy's First Video Production

Back around Father's Day, the New Yorker ran a cartoon of two kids walking to school.

The caption was "This year, I'm giving my dad an hour of tech support."

It came to mind when Monkeyboy showed me his first video, produced using Microsoft Movie Maker.

I was blown away.

He asked me to post it.

You Said a Mouthful

James Michener, when writers would ask him the secret of success as a novelist, often advised "[b]e sure your first novel is read by Rodgers and Hammerstein.''

Migdalor Guy's recent post on the roots of prejudice reminded me of that quote today.

Speaking of the lullabies his own mother's sang him as a child, MG says:

But there's one song whose message she always stressed. It's from Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific."

Lieutenant Cable has fallen in love with Liat, a half-breed Tonkinese beauty. His response to the concern of others about "what will the neighbors think" is this song, with some of Oscar Hammerstein's best lyrics:

You've got to be taught to hate and fear
You've got to be taught from year to year
It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You've got to be carefully taught!
You've got to be carefully taught!

Check it out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Snotty Blogger

OK, I just wanna know two things:

1) Which one of you jokers gave me this rotten head cold?

and

2) How on earth did you infect me through the Internet?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Social Action

I've been thinking a lot lately about why people should organize to help other people.

Two nights from now, I will attend an organizing meeting, sponsored by the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). IAF's goal is to help create an ecumenical, interfaith coalition to agitate for social justice in Northern Virginia, as it has done in communities throughout the U.S.

I trace my own commitment to social justice to growing up in the Reform Movement of Judaism, which has taken the traditional Jewish concept of a Jew's obligation to repair the world (Tikkun Olam) and interpreted it as a broad mandate for collective action on behalf of our least fortunate brothers and sisters. (For more on this, check out the website of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.)

I've posted here before about mobilizing to stop the genocide in Darfur. I also posted a Jewish prayer for Darfur.

That post included links to prayers for Darfur in the language of many other faith traditions (Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, Shinto, Sikh, Jainist and Zoroastrian.)

In response to these prayers, Imaginary Conversations said this:
I have nothing against prayers and stuff. Just wanted to add one thing: you posted a Jewish prayer and linked to all the other ones. As a very convinced atheist, I don't pray for Darfur.

But I care, as much (or more) as believers. And our responsibility is simply the responsibility of those with the power in this world to help people without that power. It's kind of like the abolishment of slavery in the States a few centuries ago. Every white person could say "I am not responsible". And he/she would be right, to a degree. But cooperation and altruism for those who aren't our children is what makes us different from animals.
As she usually does, IC makes a lot of sense. You don't have to believe in G-d, or in a particular way of worshipping G-d, to love your fellow men and women enough to want to improve their lot.

Another denizen of the blogosphere who usually makes a lot of sense is Steven I. Weiss, the Canonist. And today, Steven writes that social justice IS NOT the soul of Judaism.

Between IC and Canonist, I have a lot more to think about between now and Wednesday night.

My commitment to social action is undiminished, but in light of the informed and intelligent comments of these two tutors, I'm left looking for new language to describe from where else that commitment might spring.

Because I want to help organize a coalition of faith communities that has room in it for traditional religious activists for peace and justice, but one whose principles are broad enough to attract non-believers too. And believers whose commitment to social justice does not necessarily spring from religious roots.

The IAF was founded by the late Saul Alinsky, a legendary organizer, and one of the few whose work survives him. He wrote one of the best books I was ever assigned to read in college, Rules for Radicals.

Alinsky had little use for any tactic that was not intensely practical. And he had a wicked sense of humor. As I'm typing this, I'm reminded of one of the opening epigraphs to Rules for Radicals.
Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins --- or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom --- Lucifer.

I'm guessing that's not the first quote we'll use as we woo Christian churches to join the coalition.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury Faces Death

I first read this 1/10/07 editorial, from the Washington Jewish Week, in an e-mail from the Union for Reform Judaism.

Two days later, the New York Jewish Week published a piece by this brave voice for toleration himself.

Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury may yet be put to death for his views. That would be a tragedy.

If, after reading these two editorials and Choudhury's Wikipedia entry, you are so moved, please consider signing this petition.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Virginia, Ever Enshrined

Migdalor Guy and I have a mutual friend who's written a song that could become the official State Song of Virginia.

The old state song, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, was retired to State Song Emeritus status a few years back.

"Virginia, Ever Enshrined" would be a worthy choice to replace it.

Our friend the composer, Carol Boyd Leon, helps repair the world every day with the music, teaching and spirituality she brings to it. She makes a joyful noise.

Please read Migdalor Guy's piece and, if you live in the Old Dominion, please think about contacting your state legislators. He tells you how.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Insomia Sucks

I spent all effing day Wednesday preparing a big presentation for 9:00 a.m. Thursday morning. I topped the day off tutoring 13-year-olds at religious school Wednesday night.

While reading Monkeyboy in DC his nightly Star Wars fix before bed (he reads 20 minutes of anything he wants and then I top it off with a chapter from a "Rogue Squadron" novel), I told him I was so exhausted I was going to fall asleep as soon as my head hit my pillow.

I did.

But since 12:30 am, I've seen the digits turn on my trusty digital alarm clock just about every half-hour.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

If I ever meet the guy who invented insomnia, I'm going to give him a giant wedgie and hang him off one of the flagpoles ringing the Washington Monument.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dolt and a Sith Lord

President Bush is the worst kind of dolt.

A real "surge" of troops would be over 100,000 and would require re-institution of a draft and a 6-month lag for any kind of decent training. We're now sending reservists and National Guardsmen on their 3rd tour-of-duty in 24 months.

The Pentagon had to change policy to do it. And that's just what's needed to power Dubya's phony and predictably futile "surge".

You cannot police a civil war with the paltry number of boots we have on the ground. The generals have said so all along. Our soldiers are valiant but our civilian leadership is daft.

We should not gear up for more of this nonsense. We should get out.

I do not believe we should further involve ourselves in policing the Iraqi Civil War.

I do not believe it is in our nation's vital interests to tell one more American soldier to go on over there and be the last man to die in a losing cause, all on account of a stubborn Texan with more resolve than common sense.

And the Sith Lord Cheney who counsels him further and further down the path of the dark side of the Force.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

What's the best thing you ever got at a used book sale?

As some of you may know, I'm a vice president at my synagogue. We have a yearly used book sale over the Martin Luther King Day weekend. Here's the announcement, cut-and-pasted from the shul's website:

Gently-used Books, Tapes and CD/Record Sale. Our fifth annual event will be held Sunday, Jan. 14 thru Monday, Jan. 15. Browse our fabulous collection of literary and audio treasures!

Beth El is at 3830 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, VA. 22304.

The book sale starts at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday the 14th and runs all day. The book collectors start lining up hours in advance. They are a quirky sub-culture and a people-watcher's delight.

The sale runs from 9:00 a.m. until mid-afternoon on Monday the 15th.

For those of you local to DC or Northern Virginia, it's worth checking out.

If you come by, we're likely to see one another. Ask anyone who seems to be in charge whether David the bearded Vice President is around. Even if I'm not, let the folks at the register know you're my guests. It won't get you a further discount, but, in most cases, it should get you a smile. (I think.) (I hope.)

Last year I found a complete paperback collection of Gary Trudeau's "Bull Tales" strips, the genesis of Doonesbury, from the Yale Daily News. For 50 cents.

There's a lot of crap to sift through, but also some real finds.

What's the best thing you ever picked up at a used book sale or in a used book shop? I'm expecting your answer to be a book or tape or video, but if it was a pair of horny Rumanian gymnasts, that's worth sharing too.

Rubik's Cube

If you're still trying to solve this puzzle, stop reading. There is a fool-proof, easy method for solving it in a couple of minutes. You just have to think outside the cube.



The color decals are removable.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Dirty Disney

Here's one where everyone can play along:

(1) The judge in divorce court looks down at Mickey and says: "Let me get this straight, you want to divorce Minnie because she's a little peculiar?"

Mickey replies: "No sir, your honor, I want to divorce her because she's fuckin' Goofy."

(2) Donald and Daisy stop into a no-tell motel to do what adult ducks do in such a place.

They get to the room and Daisy discovers Donald is unprepared.

A thoroughly modern waterfowl, Daisy says :"No glove, no love."

She suggests Donald try the front desk.

Donald waddles down to the front desk and explains his predicament. The night clerk has encountered this situation before. He pulls a condom out from under his counter and proffers it to a grateful Donald.

As Donald turns around to resume pitching woo, the night clerk clears his throat.

"Excuse me sir, would you like me to put that on your bill? " he asks.

Outraged, Donald harumphs.

"What kind of a pervert do you think I am?"


If you know any others, please contribute them in the comments section.

Thanks.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

A Bar Mitzvah Needs a Theme?

Watched "Keeping Up With the Steins" on DVD last night. Funny movie, but I'm glad we didn't pay for it in the theater. It lost very little by playing on a smaller screen.

Jeremy Piven plays basically the same character he plays on Entourage, but he's more central to this tale and the movie's longer than a half-hour, so he's got more to work with. If you like him on Entourage, you should love him here. If you don't, rent another flick.

Garry Marshall plays a variation of the same character he plays in every movie or TV show he's on. But it's a shtick I don't tire of. Again, if you liked him on Murphy Brown or in "A League of Their Own" you should love him here.

Child actress Miranda Cosgrove steals the couple of scenes she's in, as she does on every episode of "Drake & Josh" on Nick. She got pretty remarkable comic timing for a munchkin actress. I'd love to see a flick where she's a central character.

The movie itself mines comedy out of a trend I've grown thoroughly disgusted with, the transformation of the Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah into an extravaganza to rival the the nuptials of Chuck and Di.

I was with a group of my parental peers tonight. Monkeyboy's Sunday school class had a movie night at the teacher's house. I led a brief Havdallah service with my guitar and beat a hasty retreat with my wife (or as she prefers to be called, my Reason for Being --- RFB, for short) for a rare grown-up date.

After gorging on Chinese food and taking a walk, we returned to the teacher's house. Thankfully, it was still standing.

The grown-ups stayed upstairs sipping coffee and tea, noshing and kibitzing while the kids wreaked havoc in the playroom in the basement.

(There were screams and squeals coming from down there, but no one came running upstairs in search of a tourniquet or a splint, so we figured they were ok.)

After talking generally about the movie, which everyone seemed to have seen, I ventured my opinion that the kid in the movie had his head screwed on straight, asking his parents to cancel the mega-event they'd scheduled for a Bar Mitzvah party (at Dodger Stadium) and to simply entertain their friends and family with a brunch at their home.

I didn't get much support. We're all the parents of 9 and 10 year-olds, with Bar/Bat Mitzvah about 3 or 4 years off on the horizon. Apparently, they've already been giving a fair amount of thought to this topic. Because you could have heard a pin drop after I asked "Since when does a Bar Mitzvah need a theme? Isn't the Bar Mitzvah itself enough of a theme?"

Conversation eventually resumed. I filed away my question for a future date, in a different setting.

At least the last time I stopped conversation like that in a room full of parents, I had meant to do so. Conversation had turned to the obligatory laments about the cost of a college education by the time our kids hit 18. At the time, Monkeyboy in DC was about four.

If you ever want to shock such a conversation into dead silence, I recommend the following ten words:

"We're just hoping he'll grow up to be really stupid."

RFB is a very tolerant woman.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Mission Accomplished

This post, over at e.clec.tic spaghetti, reminded me of the first time I watched The Empire Strikes Back with Monkeyboy in DC. He was 6 or 7 and we had it on video tape.

We got to the scene in the Dagobah swamp where Luke is looking for Yoda. I put the video on pause for a minute and told him "Hang on a sec pal, there's an important part coming up. Mr. Lucas wrote some lines here that I think are pretty cool. If you don't remember anything else from this movie, try to remember this."

I turned the video back on.

Luke meets a small, odd creature who seems like a pest, and who he tries to give the brush-off. (It's Yoda, but Luke hasn't figured this out yet.)

Yoda: Help you I can. Yes, mmm.

Luke: I don't think so. I'm looking for a great warrior.

Yoda: Ohh. Great warrior. [Laughs] Wars not make one great.

Monkeyboy puts the video on pause.

"Dad," he asks, "Do you think President Bush has seen this movie?"

Monday, January 1, 2007

Policing a Civil War

I had to wipe the tears out of my eyes before I could finish this beautifully written, heartbreaking story on the front page of the Washington Post today, by Sandhya Somashekhar.

The pictures, by Sarah L. Voisin, are equally stunning.