Monthly Archives: January 2006

through with buzz

1/31/06

Today’s blog is cancelled due to a blinding migraine, a flight at 6:40am tomorrow morning, and a moment of silence for the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. I know it’s all very funny to smug conservatives who think progressives will never win anything, but to the rest of us, days like today make us very, very sad.

tippecanoe and tyler too

1/30/06

I’m sorry, but I’m finding the hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing over Hamas’ huge victory in the Palestinian elections to be largely flatulent. Certainly a group that wants to overthrow Israel should be shamed beyond recognition, but here’s the thing about elections: no matter how much you hate who wins, you gotta play with the hand you’re dealt.

The Bush Administration got its panties in a wad when sections of Pakistan also voted in hard-line America-haters in 2003, but the Brits who oversaw the elections shrugged, “It was a fair election, all the votes were counted, and the victor took office. Sounds like ‘democracy’ to us.”

My feeling is that Hamas will continue to shout out a few “Israel Sucks” favorites to keep it Old Skool, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, they’re going to quietly take back everything they said about their neighbors, and things will progress fine.

Why? Because if you believe democracy works, as I do (and as Bush Co. say they do), that kind of extremism goes out the window pretty fucking fast. Yes, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, but they weren’t a democracy. There are only two countries with a “democracy” run by tyrant thugs, and one of them is Italy.

If you want to see someone drop all plans to blow themselves up, give them a country to run. Hamas will be up to their elbows in people wanting parking passes, school bus crossings, weird trade agreements with Chad (the country), and their drycleaning. They will find their old notebooks from high school with “I HATE ISRAEL” written on the binder and wonder how they ever had the time.

Terrorism is the natural byproduct of people who have no voice and have resorted to nihilism. When you let a would-be terrorist vote, they usually stop being a terrorist. No matter how much a democracy may hate America (like the localities in Pakistan certainly do), the mere fact that THEIR VOTE WAS HEARD will keep them from actually doing anything about it.

Again, the fine print on the Hamas brochure has always been sickening. But America wanted there to be democracy in the Middle East, and now America can suck it up. They may think Palestine accidentally elected a racist, violent, corrupt government with a lust for blood, but they’ll just have to learn to live with it. God knows us liberals have.

sand turns to glass

1/29/06

I had much more pleasant things to say, but after seeing Ed Bradley’s report on “60 Minutes” (see the wrap-up here), I am in a state of flabbergastation. Any of you who have followed this blog since the Pleistocene era know I had a big nervous-breakdown-PTSD after being in downtown-ish Manhattan on 9-11, leading to an obsessive fear of nuclear terror – it got so bad that we moved to Brooklyn, and so did the rest of my family.

A good dose of reality, time, information and 40mg of Celexa cured me of the paralysis, and I don’t really think about it so much, but I do feel as though we’ll experience something nuclear in this country before I turn 80. God, I hope not, but there’s something inevitable about it.

Now, I hate to get gruesomely technical, but those in the direct blast zone of such an unthinkable event will never know what hit them. However, anyone more than a kilometer away has a fighting chance, as long as they behave intelligently. Consult the literature of your choice on what you would do – my family has an emergency stash, and a place to meet, etc.

But what if there were a wonder drug that would stop almost all major forms of radiation sickness – bleeding, organ damage – thus rendering you relatively safe for evacuation? Turns out a great little company called Hollis-Eden in San Diego did just that. After 9/11, they perfected their drug Neumune and waited for the government to buy the 100 million or so doses to protect YOU and YOUR KIDS and ME and MY KIDS in case this ever happened.

And what did Bush’s appointee for biological prevention do? He bought 100,000. Roughly the population of Cedar Rapids, IA.

This guy – Stewart Simonson – was a Republican lawyer for fucking AMTRAK. And now he is in charge of Project Bioshield, the agency keeping you from getting smallpox or anthrax. If you thought Michael Brownie was a disaster in New Orleans, wait until you’re trying to run away from a nuclear-devastated Chicago with pieces of your flesh falling off.

His reason for only getting 100,000 doses? Because he says doctors can administer it in hospitals. AFTER A NUCLEAR ATTACK? Jesus fucking Christ: if ONE GUY can close down the 405 freeway IN BOTH DIRECTIONS for two hours (like on Thursday), can you even imagine how stupid that is?

Do any of you remember the traffic jams trying to get out of Houston during Hurricane Rita, a town that has about forty ways to leave? And they had three days warning! And this dipshit Simonson thinks we’re going to saunter over to a doctor in midtown Manhattan after they’ve blown the Chrysler Building to Uranus?

Read the article above, it will show you what we’re up against. It’s like the Bush Administration just wants the world to end already. I want this Stewart Simonson asshole to come explain himself to Lucy.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: you don’t have to be an apocalypse-minded worrywart, but you had BETTER BE FUCKING PREPARED. Because NOBODY IS GOING TO HELP YOU. Your government believes in some kind of awful Darwinism that only befits either the very rich or the very prepared. Nobody is coming for you. You must find your OWN way out of this mess.

Live to tell stories later. Live to joke about how they bombed your city, but you survived. Live to get your sons and daughters into their twenties. But whatever you do, live. We inherited the worst possible government at the worst crossroads in history, and they don’t give a fuck about you. Live to outlive them.

#2 pencil

1/26/06

Please fill in your answers on a sheet of paper, then enter in comments section. Do not look at other commenters’ answers before entering yours. Please remember the Honor Code as you take your test. Good luck!

1. The best topping is _______, except when it is covered by _________.

2. _________ is by far the sexiest planet.

3. [in redneck voice] “What are you, some kind of _________”?

4. I asked for no _________, and yet you put ___________ on it. Do you not know they are one and the same?

5. Bum de de dum, dum-de dum-dum de-dum, da __ __ __ _____.

6. If you think that’s nice, you should see my _________.

7. “__________ and __________ is what’s kept me young.”

8. French fries are to venetian blinds as cold comfort is to _________ __________.

9. Fuck you, you ________ __________.

10. Enough about me, let’s talk about ______ ______ _______.

now i know that i’m needed for the symphony

1/25/06

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Hi there little Lucybug!

This is one of your first self-portraits, taken last week as you turned nine months old, precisely the amount of time you spent in the womb. It’s hard to remember which has felt longer, but having you on this side of the muscle mass is definitely more fun.

I know other bloggers write to their kids every month, but that seemed a little too much for an on-the-go tyke like yourself, so I’m sticking to the “every season” motif. I did so in the summer, in the fall, and now here’s a little message from the winter.

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at one month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months

We have been remiss in noting every little developmental leap you take, which is kinda sucky, in that we sometimes look back as adults and would like to know the first day we actually knew what words meant; the first day we called our parents what they were; the first moment that would decide who we’d be attracted to for the rest of our lives.

I look into your eyes a lot and wonder if you’re experiencing something unbelievably profound, but those are the mysteries left in the embers of the fire long after the camp has moved on. Mostly I look into your eyes because they mesmerize, like Kate Bush sings, “the sort of blue between clouds when the sun comes out, the sort of blue in those eyes you get hung up about.”

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I’ll tell you this, however: you’re all about standing. You never met a floor you didn’t like to stand on. Or a lap, or a side of a chair, or anything else that promises a swift blow or two to the head when you fall (which is not often but often violent). I watched you as you made your first crawl the week before Christmas, and the next day, you pulled yourself up to a stand without any coaxing from your peers.

These days, if it doesn’t involve standing and shouting incomprehensible syllables involving the “click” sound of the African bushpeople, you are Not Interested. You went from the slowest, crappiest crawler on earth to setting land speed records over the course of a week. Just watching you figure your own body out is better than anything on TV or the movies, which is cool because we hardly ever get to see either.

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The “stranger anxiety” thing set in around eight months, but if the stranger has, say, a whisk, or an wireless car key, or better yet, a Treo with the Big Money game on it, you could give half a shit where Mom and Dad are. You are pretty fearless with everybody, no fading flower, no shrinking violet. You’ve got a smile for pretty much everybody, although it is looking way more like flirting, if’n you ask me.

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The biggest change at nine months? You actually look like somebody. The Yorkshire pudding of your early months is actually setting into this pretty little lady; you have gone from five expressions to 437; your babbling has become consistent with your activity. For instance: “whuh?” equals “what is this new thing I’ve encountered?” Then “bah bah bah bah bah” means “this project is going swimmingly.” My favorite? The whispered “doh doh doh doh,” which means “This is more complicated than I first suspected.”

Bonus: “Wheecka doh doh BDRDRDRDRDRDR!!!” means “I’M NAKED!”

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Tonight, as I was perusing old archives, I came across a huge folder full of diary entries that start in 1992 and go roughly to 2000 (after which, this blog basically took over). Those little files are full of stuff I would never put on this blog – profane-laced self-loathing, calling out people by name, clandestine fellatio – you know, the usual.

What struck me, even in the depths of unmitigated poverty and despair, was that I always had my eyes on you even when it seemed hopeless. I had suicide as a constant, silent companion riding in the back seat, barely in the rear-view mirror, and yet I never took him seriously.

I feel like I was counted out, left for scrap metal, many of my friends not believing that I’d ever scrape together much of a real life. But I never lost faith in you, always figured that I’d make it to your bedside in time.

My buddy Matt McMichaels had a poster in his bedroom during those dark days, an R. Crumb reprint of Mr. Natural on a tractor surrounded by fields, saying “TWAS EVER THUS!” That’s the trap we fall into, as we look at how blessed our lives are, gazing into the bright sun in our mid-to-late thirties – it’s hard for me to remember a time not so long ago when my personal life was one car wreck or cuckold away from disaster.

I like to think, Lucy the Light Bearer, that your blueberry eyes shone the way for me in the back romances of my darkest thoughts, and made me sure that all things were leading in the right direction, despite all evidence to the contrary. I don’t think I’ll ever thank you enough for that. Perhaps thirty-two hundred diaper changes will come close.

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walking pneumatics

1/24/06

Christmas: 12 or so of my family show up from around the country. Everyone has a cold.

Boxing Day: I get the flu despite having had the shot. In bed for four days.

New Year’s Eve: Flu subsides for a few minutes, then comes back full blast for another week. Lucy gets her first cold and can’t sleep.

First week of January: I get a full-blown throat infection. Can’t swallow. Lucy gets ANOTHER cold. Starts sleeping less and is clearly miserable.

Second week of January: Tessa’s lungs start to close up and she needs asthma medication to breathe. Lucy still has dreadful cold, waking up from her own coughing.

Two days ago: We fly to California. Lucy throws up all over the kitchen and the hallway. Tessa and I are so tired we fall asleep at 9pm.

Last night: Tessa throws up roughly the same way Lucy did.

We can’t stand it anymore. Please, please, let us all be well.

quadruple lutz!

1/23/06

Okay, CODE WORD. We are just getting over being sick and settling into Venice (80 and sunny here!), and I have a Top 25 Migraine, so today’s question is this: what reality show do you recommend, and why? Make it good and don’t be salacious or petty, damn it.

We just watched “Skating With the Celebrities” and I have to say, that show was CREATED FOR MY WIFE. What an awesome, sweet thing to watch. It should be pathetic to watch “Diff’rent Strokes” star Todd Bridges skate around with an afro, but instead, I was just cheering for him.

Did I ever tell you Tessa was almost a professional skater when she was a li’l tyke? She can still do an axel and a great spin and that salchow thing.

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with mom Sandy circa 1981

luck is the residue of design

1/22/06

I imagine most of you – even you writer types – found yourself watching sports this weekend, and we were no exception… however, because I’m a Saints fan, I had no interest in the NFL playoffs, and instead directed as much positive energy towards my beloved Tar Heels playing a tough road game in Tallahassee, Florida.

Lucy wore her UNC onesie-with-culottes, but due to our recent brain farts, we can’t remember which of you gave it to her! Either way, she looked smashing, and screamed on cue every time Tyler got hacked down low. Those of you who followed this particularly harrowing game, you know we one by one point.

Tessa, much later tonight, sat next to me in one of her “I have an important question” poses, and said, basically, that all modern Western sports fall under the same category: the end makes the story. Or, more interestingly, the End makes the Middle and the Beginning, no matter what they had been at the time.

In other words, because we won the game by one point, everything that we did inside the 40 minutes of that game was positively skewed to represent a story in which our winning was inevitable. I thought that was pretty fascinating.

Only one point meant this:

– we’re getting more mature, handling pressure better

– we stopped FSU’s inevitable 2nd half comeback

– we made just the right amount of free throws

– we’re “back on track”

– our hopes for an invitation to March Madness are looking good

– the UNC tradition continues, even having lost our top seven players

Whereas, if FSU’s desperation last-second heave had gone in, the story would look like this:

– we’ve lost maturity, can’t handle being on the road

– we played “their game” instead of “our game”

– David Noel’s two missed free throws tanked us

– our season is slightly coming apart at the seams

– our hopes for postseason play are much murkier

– even UNC can’t handle losing so many players to the NBA

It is, in one of Sean’s favorite expressions, a sport with a “bivalent” storyline, you know, where all the AM sports buffoons say stuff like “It’s W’s and L’s, baby” and “horseshoes and hand grenades,” etc.

But back to Tessa’s point, it is interesting that everything that happened up to the last shot – about 39 minutes and 55 seconds of basketball – did not have any intrinsic definition without the last five seconds factored in. It is decidedly un-Buddhist.

I could make some sort of tangent to the NFL playoff games today, but none of those contests were close enough to warrant emotional ambivalence: the storyline was pretty much set before halftime.

It is curious, as I look at the things in my own life: my own failures that led to success, my sometimes asinine reductivism concerning eras that were quite complicated, yet I still shrug and say “it all sucked.” Especially as we are trying to be “artists,” for lack of a less unbearably twee term, and in many cases, close is not only good enough, but a huge victory.

And yet, when it comes to my Heels, I lose all this perspective. Roy Williams, as Dean Smith before him, has about eight different plays for each possible permutation of end-game situations, making that the final score less arbitrary than it seems. But my mood, still spirited and delightful and sing-songy all evening, is held in place ten feet high by that one gorgeous, tremulous basket.

oh, the rogue – the red, red rogue

1/19/06

We’re off to LA on Saturday to check in with all our career goings-on, in our hopeful bid to be openly bi-coastal. Being a resident of both coasts wasn’t so hard back when I was a singly young buck with nary a care and a $145 round-trip ticket from Priceline, but now with the Tessalations and the Lucypants, it can not be undertaken lightly.

Parental blog readers, I’m sure you know what this I’m about to describe, but Lucy has had a terrible, virulent cold for almost three weeks. Actually, it’s two separate colds, and I know the poor sweetheart is trying to be in a good mood, but she’s just so sick of being sick. Last night was our hardest night as new parents: we slept from 7am to 9am and had a meeting at 11am.

This is the traditional “downtime” for TV writers, as they wait to see if their pilots are going to be shot, or picked up for airing. We’re going to take advantage by seeing Tessa’s mom in San Antonio next weekend, my dad in La Quinta, CA after that, and then the Dook game in Chapel Hill.

I find it odd that Lucy could come to last year’s game because she was in utero, but now she has to wait a while in order for the crowd not to freak her out. If this year’s outing is anything like years past, there will be violent mood swings, much screaming in adulation, and hopefully a belly full of redemption.

Have I ever told you how much I hate Duke? Remind me sometime.

be fooled by the rocks that I got

1/18/06

Perhaps nobody’s still interested in this topic, but the James Frey “A Million Little Pieces” brouhaha is still on heavy rotation at our household. Lucy refuses to shut up about it.

Actually, I’m having a change of heart when it comes to this guy. After seeing him on “Larry King Live,” he strikes me as the worst sort of dissembler. Let me give a somewhat unrelated example. After invading Iraq, imagine Bush saying this: “Because of September 11, one Arab country was going to go down, and Iraq has pissed us off for forever, so we fucking went in there and did our thing. We had to cook up evidence or else you wouldn’t have let us do what we know is right.”

Yes, it would have been horrifying in its own gruesome, Orwellian way – but I might have an inkling of grudging respect. I would disagree with him on every aspect of his plan, but at least I’d know the plan.

That hasn’t happened, of course – it’s lie after white lie after deception after disinformation after “we create our own reality,” and you’re left with a man whose war has gone to shit and whose ratings will never see even fifty percent unless he delivers Bin Laden bound and gagged to Congress.

Much the same could be said of James Frey. Look, dude, your ship has sailed: the Smoking Gun did so thorough a job debunking everything you wrote that you need to just say, “yep, there’s some factual things in there, but it’s mostly fiction, and should be read that way. Sorry for the confusion, but my publisher said it wouldn’t sell as a novel, and so here we are.”

Instead, he (and his lawyers and the publishers) has tried to redefine what a “memoir” is – you know, “remembering things to the best of your knowledge” – and thus cheapening every memoir ever written. As Tessa said, he has to be a full-scale schizophrenic to be remembering things that didn’t happen to the best of his knowledge.

Worse yet, his book acts as an open repudiation to the “12 Steps” of Alcoholics Anonymous, saying that he beat addiction without kowtowing to the AA bullshit. I’m no drunk, but I’m friends with and love many who are, and I know they owe their very sanity and existence to the steps of AA, despite how much fun is had at their expense.

It’s one thing to have a fictional character eschew something that can save lives, but to pretend to have a real character do it is fucking irresponsible. If Frey has a bone to pick with AA, then he should have the balls to take it on without hiding behind a pretend protagonist. Maybe he can bring his mommy with him like he did on Larry King.

I stand by my earlier conviction that he is probably a fantastic writer, and if we had no inkling of the backstory, “A Million Little Pieces” would still inspire, I guess. But now the cat has shredded the bag, it’s time for him to come clean, or at the very least, promote all future TV and movie deals as fiction.

You want to know why I came back to this rant? Because of something on his website – he said “let the haters hate.” Samuel Johnson said that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel, and my civics teacher in 10th grade said that sarcasm was the last refuge of an empty mind.

I’d like to add one, if I might: calling someone a “hater” is the last refuge of the clueless, merciless shill of the 21st century. The epithet “playa hata” stops all debate in its tracks because you are no longer talking about the subject matter, you’re attacking the critic. When it happens in professional sports, the music industry, and now the high-falutin’ world of books, you know that honest discourse has come to an end.

I don’t hate Frey for his success – I know how hard it is to get anything published, and at some point in my life, I would have resorted to anything to achieve notoriety. But Jesus, I’m so sick of our peer group’s constant need to keep lying long after the truth is so painfully obvious. AA is a miracle for most, but they admit they can’t get one type of person sober: the man who is constitutionally unable to be honest with himself.