Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

31 January, 2008

Gone, uh... colonizing

I'm off to historic Williamsburg for the day and evening. Later, blogging in breeches and tri-corner hats.


30 January, 2008

John McCain: A Portrait

Given John McCain's re-emergence as a front-runner, I decided to actually look at the campaign mail sent in his name and at his website to determine what kind of man he is. It's kind of like looking into his eye and thinking to one's self, "this is a _____ man."

And if there's one thing he is - it's a man. A manly man, one of vigor. Dare I say it, a frosty man.

And I can divine this with one line from one campaign e-mail:
John McCain's momentum is now unstoppable. [emphasis added to make it extra badass]

I can only hear that line being delivered by a professional wrestler:

He's also got some great push-polling. I love this little gimmick at the bottom-left corner of his web landing page:

Right here is the reason why some people can look you in the face and tell you that certain facts are merely "your opinion." It's pretty brilliant. Being that I was interested in how much the the Democrat's tax resolution would raise the American tax bill, I decided to put the question to someone I trust - John McCain:
John McCain will make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent, keeping income tax rates at their current level and fighting the Democrats' plans for a crippling tax increase in 2011. Left to their devices, Democrats will impose a massive $100 billion tax hike, almost $700 per taxpayer every year.

I go back to the poll.

Huh. $100 billion's not even an option for an opinion.


But of course, your average spender may not have the time nor the inclination to actually find out what John McCain might have to say about the issue. You too want to know how much the Democrat's tax bill is going to be, and you figure the answer must be in the poll options. Being the smart, politically savvy conservative that you are, you use your powers of deduction to eliminate the obvious non-answers and figure out the correct option from what remains, just like they taught you in those damn SAT tutorials.

So let's do this. $0? BWAHAHA! Even the Democrat Party doesn't believe you can get something for nothing! Very droll!

$500 million? Chump change to Democrats. They'll spend that on teenage abortions alone *mild chuckle*.

$200 billion? That sounds more like the Democrat Party I know *knowing chortle*.

$500 billion!?! Not even the Democrats could be that crazy! But with a San Francisco tax-and-spender as the Speaker and a parochial influence peddler leading the Senate majority waiting to be steamrolled by... dear god, a big-city minority president, those tax bills could get crazy out of control! The only question is, would they stop at $500 billion *outrage*!

By golly, we need a Republican to keep those rascally Democrats under control! $200-500 billion tax bills! If Ronald Reagan knew, he'd be spinning in his grave!

This presidential contender is my kind of scum.

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29 January, 2008

The received wisdom of ms. wobs

"It's never fun to think about Nazis... unless it's Hogan's Heroes."

[updated]: Heh. For Jen.


28 January, 2008

Monday night bambino blogging

No picture tonight, just a story.

I took l'il wobs to an indoor swim park on Saturday, a really cool one that had tons of waterslides. L'il wobs has been an aqua-kid since he was six months old and truly loves being in the water. He was so excited as we were getting dressed in the locker room that he, with a big ole grin and with perfect diction, blurted out "Fucking heck!"

Keep in mind, l'il wobs is conversant in all sorts of colorful language (ms. wobs and I until recently talked like longshoremen). He's perfectly capable of whipping out the full-on blue "Fucking hell!" Why he chose that particular combination to express his zeal remains something of a mystery to me.

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Punk Rock Monday

Okay... a show of virtual hands. Does anyone not have fond memories associated with the Violent Femmes? For me, the Femmes are one of the few things than can evoke downright nostalgia for my adolescence - the confused nauseau before I asked a girl out on a date, the euphoria of surreptitiously sipping a booze cocktail pilfered out of eight different bottles from someone's parents' liquor cabinet, lazy summer days around the lake, late night drives back from Knoxville chewing Big Red to try to hide the beer smell on our breath. The Femmes were there for all of that, and they still evince the good-natured innocence of a time that can't be recaptured.

"Add It Up"

"Blister In The Sun"

"American Music"


24 January, 2008

What's the word I'm looking for?

You know, the one that means "awesomer than the most awesomest?" It's on the tip of my tongue, really... it's...


Can we count the ways in which the new Rambo flick will be teh awesome? We can, and we shall.

First, uh... it's a new Rambo, duh!

First question: "What happened to the shot where you punched the guy's head clear off?"

This movie is so badass you left on the cutting room floor the shot where you fucking punched some dude's head off? Where do I sign up?

"The ponderousness that comes with aging, the sense of weight, the sense of knowledge, of knowing too much, the lack of naivete, which has happened in my life, set the stage for me," [Stallone] explains. "I wanted Rambo to be heavier, bulkier, that's why his first line in the movie is pretty negative. He's given up. He has nothing."

Stallone says, "The other Rambos had a bit too much energy, were a bit too spry. I'm not trying to run myself down but there was much more vanity involved." By which he means that shirtless Rambo of yore with pectorals hard as dinner plates, glistening with baby oil as he writhes in agony and ecstasy on a makeshift cross? Exactly.

"It was all about body movement rather than the ferocity and commitment of what he was doing," Stallone says of his previous Rambos. "This character to me is much more interesting."

That's right, Rambo IV is a character study. Yeah, baby.

"Rambo," the film, written, directed, produced by and starring Stallone, opens nationwide on Friday and is perhaps the most graphically violent R-rated movie ever.

Pushing the envelope.

Question: "It's one of the most violent movies . . "

Stallone interrupts, "Not one of the most. I worked very hard for this." Everyone at the presser has a laugh.

Stallone says he was surprised that the Motion Picture Association of America gave the film an R rating: "When babies are being bayonetted and people are being flamed, I thought this will never go." But he told the ratings board, "I said guys, this is happening today -- and if we're ever going to do something that responds, where art has the ability to influence people's awareness and impact the lives of these people, don't dilute it, don't water it down. . . . Don't cut away too soon. Let it sink it. I want people to feel it. To their credit, they allowed this film to be as truthful as it could."

Stallone is referring to the plight of the Karen people and the Burmese military junta that crushed the pro-democracy "Saffron Revolution" led by monks this fall -- after the film was wrapped, which manages to make Sylvester Stallone, as a kind of human rights activist, appear prescient.

Not only is it the most violent R-rated movie ever, it's also a trenchant social commentary promoting a compelling human rights message.

Am I wrong? Is this not going to be the awesomest motion picture experience ever known to humankind? Is there any way I can enjoy this film unironically? Probably not! It's fucking Rambo!


23 January, 2008

Good gravy

I've just spent half an hour wading through a listserv flame war where adults were acting like petulant children and self-professed revolutionaries demonstrated they didn't have a lick of political sense. Do I really want to continue reading e-mails written by a bunch of white academics braying about how their working class backgrounds render them authentically oppressed and thus able to criticize certain hierarchies?


21 January, 2008


No, not the miserable people who've chosen to cross the WGA's picket line. Nope, my recent inking has turned into a giant scab on the back of my calf, especially the filled-in portions. And it itches like hell.

Just thought I'd share.


Punk Rock Monday

Have some spoken word from Henry Rollins for your PRM pleasure.

On dating...

On rave and modern rock music...

On the war...


Iko Iko

To be sure, I had a fun time in New Orleans. Friday evening led to jazz on Bourbon Street (although the beer price there made DC prices look reasonable), and on Saturday I got to catch one of the Mardi Gras parades that will be snaking through the Quarter over the next few weeks - I got to watch it from a balcony, which was neat.

But all the fun in the Quarter was jarringly incongruous with everything else I saw and learned about the city during that time. To be blunt, I think that the post-Katrina recovery of New Orleans is the most important (and least talked about) political issue facing the United States. Within the recovery effort are distilled - in their entirety - the problems facing the nation. The privatization of public infrastructure (including - and most germane to my own work - the privatization of public education). Our relationship with the environment (coastal restoration, climate change). Racism. Poverty. Our capacity to deal with disaster and the inevitable dislocations that follow. The erosion of democratic institutions and accountability. All of these conundrums are being stared down, simultaneously and in fast-forward, in the NOLA recovery efforts. I wish I could say that this reckoning was leading towards a positive resolution, but right now, it's an uphill battle.

I wonder what the culture of New Orleans will look like in 20 years - will the vibrancy of the jazz scene, nurtured in the poor neighborhoods, remain so vital? What happens when a city's cultural flower is cut off from its roots, when the people who are vital to cultural reproduction have been displaced, the vast majority of them with no means to return - or indeed, nothing to which to return? Bourbon Street has always seemed a caricature of the culture of the rest of the city, with its neon lights, hawkers trying to cajole you into the nearest strip club, throngs of college kids stumbling down the streets with their slushee cocktails. Bourbon Street will always be there, a kind of adult Disneyland. But what about the little clubs in the quieter sections of the Quarter, or in the rest of the city, for that matter? Will the city be able to sustain the talent necessary to keep these out of the way havens viable?

The post-Katrina recovery has been notably absent from our election year discourse. To my knowledge, John Edwards has been the only candidate to make an issue of New Orleans' revival, but the impact of that effort has been negligible. But it needs to be talked about. The issues faced by New Orleans are our issues, waiting for a storm, literal or otherwise, to force them to the surface. How the Crescent City deals with these issues will serve as a template, for good of for ill (and right now, for the ill), on how we grapple with these issues on a national scale. It deserves to be at the forefront of our own thoughts and of our political discussions.

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17 January, 2008

Bombed out

I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to say about what I saw today. The good people working at the United Teachers of New Orleans took us on a bus tour of the city today, and some of what I saw just shocked me. Over the past 2 and a half years since Katrina, I've become sort of inured to the media depictions of the devastation visited by the storm. But seeing it in person...

The Lower Ninth Ward... gone. Literally. City block upon city block of nothing but overgrown weeds surrounding concrete foundations, a house or two spared. Piles of debris still littering the vacant lots. A whole neighborhood - just gone.

The sight of a gutted school, an adjacent athletic field freshly mowed, a surreal contrast to the wild overgrowth of the surrounding lots.

Around the rest of the city, renovated homes become the exception in neighborhoods full of empty houses.

The high water marks are still visible on many of the buildings in the city, in some places easily three or four feet above my head. The eerie tags of search and rescue crews still decorate homes. Entire strip malls stand empty.

And there I sit on a bus, gaping at the remnants, rolling past the people who are slowly trying to rebuild their homes, their neighborhoods, their lives. I'm a fucking disaster tourist.

But the city is still here, and it is rebuilding. Staying downtown, you wouldn't know that anything bad had befallen the city (although the amount of traffic flowing on the streets is noticeably diminished since the last time I visited in the mid-90s). We got to visit with some of the UTNO staffers who are working to rebuild a union devastated by a different type of storm which transformed public education in New Orleans after Katrina. They're an inspiring bunch (the staffers look suspiciously like graduate employee unionists). I get to go do house visits with them on Saturday.

The food in New Orleans is still phenomenal. But the Lagavulin at the hotel bar was criminally overpriced.

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16 January, 2008


I'm off to New Orleans for the weekend. Got some big meetings to attend. If time and a cheap (read: free) internet connection presents itself, I'll let y'all know what the haps are.

It's been about twelve years since I last visited NOLA. The circumstances were memorable, in that I don't remember much of it, save the accidental visit with the tainted "hash" pipe. Chances are that won't happen again. God I hope that doesn't happen again - but avoiding LSD and thirteen straight hours of drinking will probably help on that front.

Laissez les bon temps roullez!


15 January, 2008

Not only did she miss the party, I have reason to believe she was never invited

K-Lo begins to understand that while she was locked safely away in her hermetically sealed chastity bubble, the rest of us were enjoying the sex, drugs and rock 'n roll, and (unfortunately for her) all the partying might actually have implications for her politics.

Come January 20, 2009, I, for one, will be welcoming our free-basing overlords.

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Where is Hunter S. Thompson when we need him?

Because I'm dying to know what he'd think about this World Net Daily tidbit from his old stomping grounds:
God will get a home in the ritzy and elite Roaring Fork Valley which includes the resort locale of Aspen after a board of local officials decided that federal law did not allow them to simply ban a church construction project on land the congregation owns.

Given the whole omnipotent thing, I wasn't really aware God needed zoning board approval to build a home. Of course, given the whole omnipresent thing, I wasn't really aware that God needed "a home."

So, given that this is Aspen, will this be a vacation home?


14 January, 2008

Punk Rock Monday

Hey! Did you know Dave Grohl was in a band before the Foo Fighters? They were even pretty good!

Levity aside, there’s not too much I can add to the encomiums surrounding Nirvana other than I’m surprised at how well there music has stood up over the past 15 years. As I age and continue to listen to them, I’m constantly amazed at how much I’m able to still discover and take from these tunes.

“Negative Creep” (for Dave)

If your feeling adventurous, you should check out the late 80s mullet-version of that tune – still rockin’, but way, way more hair.

“On A Plain”

And finally, a cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” not from the Unplugged appearance


13 January, 2008

... and me makes three

After Courtney and Dave, I've completed the trifecta of Former-GTFF-President-Getting-Tattooed-A-Palooza - with requisite "3544". And there was much rejoicing.


Sunday night bambino blogging

It's been awhile since we've let the harsh light of the blogosphere glare upon l'il wobs. Never fear, however - he's still cute!
Future Rock Star

And for a bonus, here's ms. wobs and I getting ready to go out for our New Year's Eve party, she as a Jetson, and me as Jupiter (note the big red spot):
Astro couple

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11 January, 2008

wobs, terminal ABD

For my dissertating friends...

Or perhaps more succinctly...


08 January, 2008

Dip me in cowshit and roll me around in grass blades


So, what's our takeaway from two completely non-representative state electoral contests? On the D side, both Obama and Clinton can run formidable campaigns, and most pundits (including yours truly, although I don't think I exactly qualify as a pundit, per se - just as a know-nothing loudmouth) are full of shit. I have no idea where this heads down the road, and the time lag between now and the next few contests (and the big February 5 electoral burrito supreme) makes a magic 8-ball more reliable than any prognosticator. I do think it's a two person race now - Edwards will stay in (and I hope he stays in through February 5, just to keep the social democracy rhetoric in play), but he's got no chance and will be under pressure to bow out.

On the R side, Mittens' star is fading fast. After getting walloped after dumping buckets of money into Iowa, and then getting creamed in a state where he practically lived (oh, and winning Wyoming... whatever the hell that means...), he's going to have the sickly gangrene stench of loserdom following him from here on out. I don't necessarily think it bodes well for McCain, I think outside of its theocon wing, the GOP is terrified of Huckabee, and Giuliani hasn't begun to seriously invoke 9/11 to win yet. Who the fuck knows?

Me? I'll be taking advantage of this apparent lapse in the orderly succession of leadership to smuggle massive amounts of hallucinogens to 7th grade midwesterners. Or drink more booze, as has been the case this evening.

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07 January, 2008

Tanned, rested and ready - Punk Rock Monday

For the first PRM of the new year, I opted to go with some Chicago-style power pop from Material Issue. This is one of those "had to be there in the moment" bands, I think. I first stumbled across on a Friday evening sojourn to the Flamingo Bar and Grill (one of the only all-age venues in Knoxville - and one where it was exceptionally easy to get beer) when I was a junior in high school. They were a staple of my pre-college years, but I kind of lost interest upon graduation when I felt that they were "too poppy." Which is a shame, because they wrote really great catchy tunes. Sadly, frontman Jim Ellison took his only life a few years ago. Also, there isn't a lot of live footage of them - they were an exceptional band to go see, especially in a club setting. So here's a few vids from the MTV and a live acoustic performance.

"Valerie Loves Me"


"Next Big Thing"


If I ever become balding ponytail guy....

You have my permission to kill me.


05 January, 2008

Proof of GOP cyborgism

My favorite part of the GOP debate was the laughably horrible discussion of health care reform when Mittens premised a response with, "Let's say there's a person who makes $100K, and goes to the hospital and needs $1000 in, um, repairs."

We're all a bunch of rich androids, Mitt. Yes we are.

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All bets are off

After watching the Democratic debate tonight, I hereby rescind any predictions I made about how things are going to shake out. Edwards isn't done by any stretch of the imagination, although I am somewhat skeptical about how his gambit trying to shift the frame from a Clinton v. not-Clinton to a "which version of change do you want" will work. Hillary will be hammered tomorrow for aggressively defending her record - unfairly, I think, because she's a woman. It'll be characterized as "bitchiness." We'd be fools to discount her public service record (which on many issues is very good, on others, not so). Hillary has a lot working against her right now, and I don't know that tonight did her any favors in the face of those obstacles. The debate didn't change my mind about my preferences (Edwards said what I wanted to hear), but it certainly muddied the waters as to how I think the average voter is going to respond.

On the other side, I think Romney sealed his fate in New Hampshire tonight. He looked like the flamingest asshole on a stage filled with flaming assholes, a congenial theocrat, and a crazy man. It's all downhill for Mittens from here on out.

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03 January, 2008

What now?

First things first: my political prognostications aren't worth shit. Now what do we draw from this completely unrepresentative, first-in-the-nation presidential wine-tasting?

On the D side: Iowa was a must-win for Edwards. I don't think there's any way for him to rebound. From what I understand, his field operation in NH is a shadow of what he invested in Iowa, and he's already far enough behind Obama and Clinton in NH that I don't think he'll be able to staunch the bleeding. Obama probably rides the big mo to a win in NH. But beyond that? Clearly, Edwards message resonates, and it's going to be interesting how his supporters shake out and who tries to make a play for them. Like Dave and a lot of others, I find Obama's "unity" message to be a little disconcerting, especially when accompanied by his recent policy sniping from the right. Likewise, I'm not enamored with Hillary and the whole idea of Clinton II. I'd gladly take either over anyone the Rs would have to offer up, though. Obama's clearly the "change" candidate, but his vision of change seems out-of-sync with the times.

Color me flummoxed as to how my own vote shakes out, but for now I'll say that Obama is my second choice after Edwards. After NH, we've got ourselves a Battle Royale on our hands.

On the R side: One thing I'm sure of: you can stick a fork in Mitt. He got shellacked by an underfunded, Bible-bangin' hillbilly, and now the GOP money guys are going to abandon him in droves. I had figured that McCain would get a third place nod that would give him some momentum going into NH to nip Romney there. But Grandpa Fred in third?

So NH looks like a mess to me on on the R side. McCain is ahead in the polls, but will be competing with Obama for independent voters in an open primary, and Obama clearly has more going on for him. Huckabee has been hanging around 10% in the polls and might get a little bounce, but doesn't have the fundamentalist core he needs so desperately. Mitt is going to hemorrhage supporters, but the question becomes how many. I think enough of Mitt's support goes to McCain to put him over the top in NH. Mitt might go on for awhile after that, but will diminish in significance. And South Carolina will be a hideously nasty affair as the GOP big boys try to stamp out Huckabee like they did McCain in 2000 (oh sweet irony). We'll be hearing whispers about Huckabee fucking goats any day now.

And somewhere out there, we have Rudy 9/11 waiting to use his "big state" strategy. I think Rudy fails miserably in this - his support is already cratering given his, erm... out and out douchebagginess, and being out of the media narrative for the first few states while others build momentum will only seal the deal.

But really, what the fuck do I know? Onward to New Hampshire!

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02 January, 2008

May as well

Since it's "game on" starting tomorrow, I may as well issue the coveted medulla noodle presidential endorsement, unsurprising as it may be for most of you. On February 12, should he still be in the running, I'll be pulling the lever (voting in an actual polling place! How quaint! God I miss vote-by-mail!) for John Edwards. I'll summarize my reasoning by simply stating, "What Amanda sez." She pretty much nails my thinking on the matter.

My heart-of-hearts wants to vote for the short vegan from Cleveland, but pragmatism dictates I go with the person closest to my values with the best chance of getting the nod.

Please note: Endorsement may be void after February 5, and as soon as January 8. Endorsement only valid in participating locations.

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Score one for Hillary

The late-night talkies are once again heating up as an electoral battleground, especially amid the charged environment of the writers' strike. And while one douchebag professed support for the strikers and then immediately turned around to cross their picket line, Hillary pulled off an absolutely fucking brilliant tactical coup:
David Letterman officially made his return to late-night television just after 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, when he opened the taping of Wednesday night’s show by passing through a chorus line of long-legged showgirls clad in white tie and bearing placards that read, “Writers Guild of America on Strike.”

After the taping was concluded, the show’s producers inserted a one-line joke to precede the host’s entrance — delivered not by Mr. Letterman but by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, via satellite from Iowa, on the eve of the state’s presidential caucuses.

“Dave has been off the air for eight long weeks due to the writers’ strike,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Tonight he’s back. Oh well. All good things come to an end.”

A modest one liner to lead off the return of Dave, head of the only production company decent enough to negotiate and settle with his writers, and maybe more importantly, the only late-night gabber returning to the airwaves with the benefit of his formidable writing staff (Leno already isn't funny, and I can't imagine how unfunny he'd be without his writers). The hour looks to be a pretty blistering scornfest for the AMPTP, as Letterman has always been very pro-writer (he's a WGA member himself). Hopefully, his late-night megaphone can help re-build momentum that seems to have been lagging of late for the WGA to win a settlement.

And back to Hillary - well played ma'am. A low-key quip at the top of the anticipated return of one of currently only two union talk shows (the other being the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, also produced by Letterman's production company) is an astonishingly clever move.

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In case you needed another reason

You tell me: is Mike Huckabee an asshole or an idiot?
Former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas today professed his support for the striking television writers union just a few hours before he was expected to board a plane to for a taping of the Jay Leno show where he will face a vocal picket line of striking writers.

Mr. Leno’s program is returning to the air for the first time since a long hiatus for the strike. Speaking to reporters, Mr. Huckabee said he was unaware that he would be crossing picket lines and believed that he the program had reached a special agreement with the union.

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01 January, 2008

Happy 2008 (and a prediction)

I hope all of you had a festive New Year's Eve. In our little corner of the world, we had a traditional NYE feast of... erm, Indian takeout with some friends a let the rugrats play Lord of the Flies competing over not-so-scarce toy resources. Then, in the evening, ms. wobs and I ventured into the city for a swanky astro-party at a party promoters home, complete with all-you-can drink libations, swingin' djs, festive attire (it was, as I said, an astro-party - ms. wobs dressed up as a very hot Jane Jetson, and I went as Jupiter... the planet), and even people smoking (very bad, judging from the smell) weed (damn me and my standards, soon enough). We got home at an ungodly late hour, where I tried to drunk dial the West Coast to wish them a happy new year, but couldn't get a call to go through. So happy belated New Years, all!

And for a prediction: I've got an educated guess that John Edwards wins the Iowa Caucus. No inside information, just a working knowledge of how the caucuses work and a run through of the candidates endorsements. I won't wager a guess on what the win means down the road, just that he'll win it. Take it for what it's worth.

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