Thursday, May 31, 2007

Apocalypse PopoZao

Gregg Easterbrook, author of the article “How NASA Screwed Up” in this month’s Wired, was interviewed yesterday on Morning Edition about the misplaced priorities of our space agency.

Following is what Easterbrook feels NASA’s priorities should be:

(1) Conduct research, particularly environmental research, on Earth, the sun, and Venus, the most Earth-like planet.

(2) Locate asteroids and comets that might strike Earth, and devise a practical means of deflecting them.

(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.

(4) Figure out a way to replace today's chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit.

And NASA’s actual current priorities, according to Easterbrook:

(1) Maintain a pointless space station.

(2) Build a pointless Motel 6 on the moon.

(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.

(4) Keep money flowing to favored aerospace contractors and congressional districts.

Of course, the current NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, disputes that the agency is batting .25. And on today’s Morning Edition, he defended himself.

But not very well.

But let’s backtrack for just a sec. I have been puzzled for a while by BushCo’s stated interest in putting a man on Mars. When 43 first talked about that goal, in that barely literate and smirky way of his, I couldn’t decide if he had merely picked some expensive random future scientific achievement in order to deflect attention from his bazillion massively expensive screw-ups, or if there was some hidden agenda behind the whole Mars thing.

Turns out, the correct answer was Hidden Agenda. What a fucking surprise. Jeezy Chreezy, when am I going to learn that the correct answer is ALWAYS “hidden agenda”?

Because who stands to benefit from the Mars mission? Well, 43 supporters Boeing and Lockheed Martin, for one. For two, congressional districts in the states of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and OHIO. It’s all making sense now, isn’t it?

But back to NASA administrator Michael Griffin.

In part of its trend away from projects that study the effects of climate change, NASA recently cut funding for a satellite to study global soil moisture trends. When asked by ME’s Steve Inskeep if he is concerned about global warming, here is Griffin’s response:

MG: I'm aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I'm also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is manmade. Whether that is a long term concern or not, I can't say.

SI: Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

MG: I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.

Yes, how DARE WE presume to try to maintain a global climate that supports human life?

Who do we think we are?

Not only that, but those fucking glaciers man, with all their melting and shit…

It’s like they think they’re better than us. Go ahead, glaciers, melt, and see if we care.

Fucking melters. Bunch of fucking melting whining babies is what they are.

And those fucking polar bears with their “Oh, I’m drowning because there’s not enough ice in my habitat anymore.” I have had it up to here with those fucking polar bears, quite frankly. They go on and on about their needs, like their shit don’t stink or something. Like they’re part of some giant eco-type-chain of interrelated species of animals and plants and geological conditions that help maintain the delicate balance of life on this planet of which we are a part.

Fuck that. I don’t know about you guys, but I am not one of those arrogant “I need oxygen to breathe” types. Bring on the CO2 man, because I can adapt. Sure, I’m living in one of those low-lying coastal zones that people are so afraid will be under water when the oceans begin to rise, and yeah, I'm not a strong swimmer, and I’ve got a Platinum Visa and a bottle of SPF 50, so what the fuck, man.

Bring it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Crip walkin' through HISTORY

I wanted to give my dear gentle readers a positive story to start their Memorial Day Weekend out right.

And so, you’ll be happy to know that Alabama is going to apologize for slavery.

As you might have guessed, it was, and still is, a controversial issue, and the AL state House of Representatives passed it on an unrecorded voice vote. Tricky, eh?

But it’s kind of a nice apology, actually:

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA, BOTH HOUSES THEREOF CONCURRING, That we express our profound regret for the State of Alabama's role in salvery and that we apologize for the wrongs inflicted by slavery and its after effects in the United States of America; we express our deepest sympathies and solemn regrets to those who were enslaved and the descendants of slaves, who were deprived of life, human dignity, and the constitutional protections accorded all citizens of the United States; and we encourage the remembrance and teaching about the history of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and modern day slavery, to ensure that these tragedies will neither be forgotten nor repeated.

Wow. I have to say I am impressed by the lack of ass-covering going on in this little ole’ resolution. Oops. Wait a minute…

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That it is the intent of the Legislature that this resolution shall not be used in, or be the basis of, any type of litigation.

Well, c'mon, their attorneys MADE them put that in. Legalese, you know.

But, if you look beyond the perfunctory NYTimes coverage of the event, you’ll see that there is quite a bit of crankiness afoot in the lesser publications of Dixieland.

Like this guy who left a comment in the Montgomery Advertiser:

That is the biggest crock of ....... What was done, was done, why try to change things now, it's HISTORY!

What if all of the whites got together and demanded an apology for how they all have been treated since this took place, Black History Month, Miss Black America Pagent (sic), African American Spring Break, ETC..., ETC...! Could you imagine the outbreak it would cause if we did stand up and ask for this?

Give me a break!! New low for the South!
What's next? This is B/S, we are now the minority, no longer the majority...what else do yall want?! Everything has been handed to you and still is...I'm reminded of this saying....Never bite the hand that feeds you!

First of all, I like how he lets you know right off the bat that he is well informed on the subject of HISTORY. Because he’s correctly identified the events of the past as being HISTORY. And you can’t change HISTORY. Oh, you can try. Apparently, apologizing is one way that people try to change HISTORY. But it doesn’t work. Just so you know.

Secondly, regarding the Miss Black America Pageant, although I do generally advocate the humiliation and debasement of anyone involved in ANY kind of beauty pageant, I think that they should be required to apologize to us collectively, and that there is no reason to force any one particular pageant to apologize in advance of the others. Except for that Miss Universe thing. Because, well, c’mon. Humans only. So racist.

Plus, I think a country that also sees fit to recognize National Bread Machine Baking Month, National Salsa Month, National Polka Month, National Cat Health Month, National Umbrella Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Iced Tea Month, and National Rosacea Awareness Month, can also probably stand to recognize the history of the African American people, don’t you? Let’s not be stingy with the recognizing, my people.

And as for African American Spring Break…WHERE THE FUCK DO I SIGN UP FOR THIS??? Because I bet the music is AWESOME.

And lastly, dude, I think you must be some kind of time traveler, sent to Montgomery, Alabama to subvert the future where African Americans are in the majority, and have invented machines that hand them whatever they want (even when they bite them!) by infiltrating the comments features of many of the soft news and trade publications of the South. Well, it won’t work, dude. Because now that Alabama has apologized for slavery, the last obstacle to the ascendancy of the African American race has been obliterated. So it’s too little, too fucking late for all y’all.

Dude, if only you'd insisted that they apologize for BET. You might have had me then.

Anyway, according to an email I got from one of my heartland relatives, this we are all going to now have to learn Ebonics. So, I’m off to study for a couple of days. I’ll see y’all Tuesday. Fo shizzle.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My kingdom for a horse

So, due to a sudden infection, Spooney had to go to the hospital and have this minor surgical procedure done. He calls to tell me this while I'm at work, but I've got the Board of Directors in and I can't leave. 12 freakin hours later, I am home and he walks in the front door, looking, well, drugged. He is bleary-eyed, wavering on his feet, and talking really fucking slowly.

Me: “Are you okay?”

Him: “Yeah.”

Me: “Are you sure?”

Him: “Yeah. They gave me morphine.”

Me: "I thought if they gave you morphine instead of a local that you were going to call me to come get you."

Him: "I know, but I felt fine."

Me: "You don't look fine."

Him: "I'm fine."

We’re standing in the kitchen, next to counter full of Indian food that I had ordered as a treat for him for when he got home. I look down, and he is trying to dip a piece of naan into a container of steamed rice. Only the lid was still on the container. He's stabbing the naan into the lid over and over.

Me: "You know the lid is still on."

Him: "Oh, okay."

He stands there looking at the container. I take the lid off.

He starts poking the bread into the container of rice, trying to scoop some up.

Me: "You know that's rice."

Him: “Okay.”

I open up a container of tandoori eggplant.

Me: “You want to dip your bread in this, instead.”

Him: “Okay.”

Me: “I’m so glad you drove yourself home!”

Him: “Okay.”

I fix him a little plate of food and sit him down on the couch.

Me: “Do you want a glass of water?”

Him: “I’m going to have a glass of wine, and then I’m going to bed.”

Me: “You’re not having a glass of wine.”

Him: “Why not?”

Me: “You’re on morphine.”

Him: “Is that bad?”

Me: “You can’t mix alcohol and opiates, baby. It’s dangerous.”

Him: “Really?”

Me: “Yeah.”

Him: “Well, you know…I can really understand…how people who take heroin and shit…just doze off in the middle...”

And then he dozed off. I am not fucking kidding. With his fork still in his hand.

It was one of those deals where, he was so cute and helpless, and I wanted to take care of him, and yet I also wanted to sock him in the face. Know what I mean?

I’m a terrible person. I fear weakness in myself so much that it tends to push my buttons a bit when I see it in the people that I’m close to – the people that I depend upon to some extent.

Notice the qualifier. To some extent. Because I don’t depend on anybody, okay?

Recently, there have been some upheavals where I work, and my reaction has been a typical one for me: I fret. I fret at work, I fret while I drive (when I’m not cursing the people who can’t get it through their thick heads that the left lane is for people who go fast, goddammit!), and I fret in bed at night. Hoooooooooo boy, do I fret in bed at night. When I am in full-on fretting mode, I can lay in bed and fret for five or six hours straight. I can fret while I’m reading in bed until I start to doze, and then as soon as I put the book down, the full-on fret takes over and I am wide awake again. I can fret while withstanding a marathon of late-night movies that should have been a guaranteed snooze-fest. I’m talking That Thing You Do, Riding in Cars with Boys, and The Karate Kid Part III, folks. And I was awake and fretting for every single excruciating minute.

I could go on about the financial insecurities of my childhood, and how events conspired to shape me into a teen that took over the worrying with which my mother was obviously insufficiently concerned. And how my mother’s subsequent collapse and withdrawal probably only proved to me that our economic and emotional downfall was due to an insufficient amount of fretting about our deteriorating circumstances.

But I won’t go on. Blah blah blah, right?

Look, I have made a good life for myself, and despite his misadventure with hospital heroin, I honestly think I have the best boyfriend in the world.

And yet I spend so much of my life feeling as if it is all a house of cards that will at any minute come crashing down around me. It seems as though I cannot accept any indulgence without paying the emotional price for it in fretting. I would like to, for example, be able to enjoy playing with my dog without worrying that his shots are due, and they’re so expensive, and he’s getting old, and what happens when I have to put him down? I would like to be able to enjoy being still relatively young and, you know, sorta still cute without thinking constantly about the slide, the slide, the slide.

What wouldn’t I give for peace of mind? What wouldn’t I give to feel really, really safe, even for just for one night? What wouldn’t I give to finally, finally believe what the experience of my own damn life should have taught me by now - that I am strong, and that I will ultimately, somehow, make my way?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Congress bait

You know what?

I do not give a fuck about your goddamn piece of shit immigration bill.

And while its details and machinations may ultimately make a difference in whether the person waking you up in the middle of the night to take your blood pressure and give you your meds is from Vietnam or Jamaica, it will not make one tiny bit of difference in the shadow economy of the US, where Mexican and other Latino and Latina workers are grossly underpaid and abused with impunity, because, as illegal workers, they have no recourse.

Because the problem has always been enforcement. And the problem will remain enforcement. We will never sufficient fund the law enforcement and immigration agencies that can make the ideals of any bill a reality. Period.

We should adopt a fair and sensible immigration policy, yes, one that doesn't stick its fingers in its ears and go "la la la" at the people who most want to come here. You know who I'm talking about, right? Here's a hint: Their continent/region also ends in "America."

They're connected to us, and we have stake in seeing them progress, economically. To say nothing about how our supposedly "Christian nation" should treat other extremely Christian nations, but Jeezy Chreezy, don't get me started on the whole Golden Rule thing.

Oh, and this: If you don't appreciate the contributions that, say, the culture and people of Mexico have made to California, then you need to MOVE THE FUCK SOMEWHERE ELSE. Say, Minnesota. Where you can root for the Vikings and complain about all the people speaking Norwegian.

What this bill doesn't do is relieve the pressure on states that have to provide emergency health care to illegal workers who don't have Worker's Comp, and education to children who don't speak English. It cannot look into the face of a person who was injured by a illegal immigrant driving without a license or insurance and say "I did my best," or even "I fucking gave a shit."

We want to be fair, but we need some things fixed. We want to make the illegal people legal, so that we can start to give all of us what we need.

This bill ain't that.

And you know what else it ain't?

It ain't bringing our soldiers home. Because the Democrats, apparently still so cowed by the threat of not "supporting the troops" (i.e., keeping them in harm's way) have blinked and let the threat of a 2nd presidential veto (oooh, another scary, scary, veto) make them take their eyes off the prize and instead chase the shiny lure of actually passing a bill the President will sign.

Like that's something of which to be proud.

And yesterday, 9 more soldiers were blown to bits.

That makes 3431, in case anyone's still counting.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't praise me, I totally stole this idea from McSweeney's.

Categories in which I'm pretty sure I could best all-time Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings:

  1. Vegetarian Mexican Restaurants of the San Fernando Valley
  2. DSW Clearance Discount Codes
  3. Light Beers That Are Not That Bad
  4. Mount Everest 1996: What Went Wrong?
  5. Electrical Glitches of the Volvo Wagon 960 Series
  6. Sewing Notions
  7. Bruce Springsteen Lyrics
  8. Reasons to Hate Blogger
  9. Pernicious Weeds of Southern California
  10. Canine Diarrhea
  11. Tea Towel Decorative Motifs of the 50s & 60s
  12. Bands My Friends Are In
  13. Orson Welles Fun Facts & Figures
  14. Hummingbird Species Common to My Backyard
  15. Star Trek TOS: Name That Episode

Hey, why not steal from McSweeney's yourself? Leave me a comment, or if you're really hard up like me, why not devote a whole post on your own blog to it?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Exit liberators

The people who have an interest in the US remaining in Iraq have insisted that if we leave, all hell will break loose.

Which makes you wonder what the fuck you call what’s going on over there now, right?

But I never bought that argument. First of all, there’s the reason that Bill Maher sums up so beautifully when he says “They’ve been wrong about every single thing in Iraq up until now, so why should we believe them about this?”

Secondly, it just doesn’t make sense to me on a gut level. After all, it is our presence there that seems to be the catalyst for insurgent violence. And it is our presence there that inspires ordinary, peaceful citizens to identify with the insurgents instead of their government.

Yes, I may be oversimplifying. But as it turns out, BushCo and the Coalition Provisional Authority may have secretly agreed with me.

Remember the Coalition Provisional Authority, the body that ruled Iraq until it was handed over to some Iraqis that we approved of? Right before the CPA ceded authority, there was a decrease in violence, and one of the explanations given was that many Iraqis, including the insurgents, mistakenly thought that because the CPA was giving up their governing duties, that therefore the Americans were leaving.

That’s right. The CPA concluded that the (mistaken) idea that the Americans were bugging out caused violence to decrease in Iraq.

And yet, not only did BushCo keep that CPA report secret, they also refused to admit publicly what they did in that report: the possibility that our exit from Iraq might make things instantly better, for us and for them.

Which makes you wonder why the fuck we’re still over there now, right?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Turn to the right

A couple of thoughts on the recent Republican debate:

Chris Wallace is the biggest TV tool ever. What is up with the smug-ass, prissy little questions, anyway? He’s so busy trying to be cute he forgot what his fucking job is, which is to INFORM THE VIEWERS. Seriously folks, it takes huge, huge twatwaffle to make Brit Hume look like the reasonable one. BTW, if you’ve never seen the Big Dog take a huge bite out of Chris “I’ll never be one small fraction of the reporter my father is” Wallace, go here because you really should.

Ron Paul is not only the only Republican candidate who is now and has always been against the war in Iraq, but he’s also the only one who says that the reasons for the war were political. Po-lit-i-cal. No mistaken intelligence, no “better world without Saddam,” just political.


Sure, it’s something you and I accepted even before that lamp was broke, but it is an event on the order of a 4.0 earthquake to hear a Republican speak that particular truth.

Plus, if you haven’t see it, watch this exchange wherein Paul asserts that 9/11 was brought about by our interventionalism, and then Giuliani says “You take that back!” and then Paul says:

“If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem. They don’t come here to attack us because we’re rich and we’re free, they come and attack us because we’re over there. I mean, what would we think if other foreign countries were doing that to us?”

Again. Wow.

Of course Rudy tries to come back and remind everyone ONCE AGAIN that he was mayor of New York blah blah blah. If I were him, I wouldn’t be so quick to hold up that day as a triumph of my administration, since it was his ineptitude and refusal to surround himself with anything other than toadies that was the cause of so many lives being lost, but hey, I guess he thinks that makes him the perfect replacement for W.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m no big fan of Ron Paul, even if I did have the impulse to “make out with him,” as my friend Beth put it, after hearing his stance on Iraq.

For one thing, he’s brings plenty of crazy to the table on other issues. Like, I get the feeling that he would prefer to just get rid of income taxes altogether and damn the consequences. Also, he’s from Texas, and I dunno, Texans just seem to lie a lot, huh? Thirdly, I cannot say his name without thinking of RuPaul, which is not very conducive to a somber campaign tone. Although if he embraced it and came up with his own version of “You Better Work,” I might be persuaded to give him a chance.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Let the Eagle Soar

I'll bet you never thought I'd refer to former AG John Ashcroft as a hero.

Okay, I'm still not. But it seems as though, gentle readers, in this one little case, he may have actually stood up to the bullying of future AG Alberto Gonzales and WH chief of staff Andrew Card, FROM HIS HOSPITAL BED.

AG and AC were trying to do what they like to refer to on Law & Order as an "end run around the Constitution."* And since the recently hospitalized Ashcroft and the acting AG Comey refused to sign off on the warrantless wiretap program as it stood, there was a show-down involving Gonzales, Card, Comey, Ashcroft, Ashcroft's wife, several deputies from the Justice Department and a whole passel of FBI agents in Ashcroft's hospital room while the senior WH officials tried to pressure a seriously ill man into signing the program authorization.

Okay, the wiretap program that eventually did pass muster in the Justice Department is still a vile piece of shit, but it's quite interesting to read how one sector of Bushies is so willing to cannibalize another.

*Seriously, isn't about every other line out of Sam "Robots!" Waterston's mouth on that show about "end runs" and "constitutions"?

Sometimes - there's God - so quickly

God said in an interview with E! News this morning that he is tired of everyone invoking his name whenever something bad happens.

“I hear people who have just lost everything, even their children or their spouses, in some horrible tornado or tsunami or something, and they’re saying that I work ‘in mysterious ways,’ or that I am trying to test them with that shit. It’s not true. I don’t kill people for kicks. And I don’t kill them because they are sinners, no matter what your preacher tells you. Those people in Hurricane Katrina were killed by the U.S. Government, and by the Army Corp of Engineers, if you ask me. Not that anyone is, mind you. You know what would be nice, by the way, is if someone would actually ask me what I think before they go spouting off about who – or is it whom? - I want to live or die or get cancer or whatever. People need to take a little bit more responsibility for their lives, and also just deal with the fact that there is a lot of random shit out there, and that a certain percentage of it is going to fall on them in their lifetimes.”

When asked about the sudden recent death of evangelist Jerry Falwell, God laughed and held up his hands and said “Okay, you got me. I did do that one.”

Friday, May 11, 2007

This is not a picture of an astronaut's wife

Holy shit, y'all, I've never even HEARD of the Mercury 13 until I listened to Morning Edition this morning.

I do realize that it's not all about me

I've had a stressful past couple of weeks at work, and Spooney and I have been planning a weekend away.

To Santa Catalina Island.

Yeah, that place that just burned up.

Actually, although the fire burned over 4000 acres and at least one home (in the only real town on the island, Avalon), word is they are gaining the upper hand, and the town is no longer threatened. That is good news for the residents of Avalon, who had to evacuate the island via ferry.

Check out this live webcam of Catalina and you can see the smoke that still envelopes Avalon and the harbor. Yeah, that's smoke, not fog.

Catalina has many fans and detractors. A friend of mine once described it as "one big happy hour waiting to happen," and indeed it often seems like there's not a whole lot to do there. But there are lots of corny but cool touristy things, like the glass-bottomed boats and the flying fish cruises, as well as hikes through the botanical gardens and undeveloped interior of the island.

If you've never been, you may be surprised to know that the island was once largely owned by the Wrigleys, and it was the site of the Cubs spring training camp.

Also, it is absolutely true that a herd of buffalo roam the island that are the descendants of some that were left behind after a film shoot in the 20s. The island has been a backdrop for movies since the beginning of movies. Once you've been there, you will instantly recognize it when you see it in a film, just like you recognize the infamous Point Dume in Malibu. In fact, the Tuna Club in Avalon was the set for a scene in one of my favorite movies, Chinatown. It's the scene were Nicholson's character meets Huston's character over lunch.

One of favorite restaurants in the world, Cafe Prego, is there. Family owned and operated. When you order dinner, they come around with a huge tureen of the best vegetable soup you've ever tasted, and ladle some out into your bowl right at your table. I had pasta there once with gorgonzola, walnuts, white grapes, and hot peppers that was so fucking good I can still taste it. I love that place so much I have a framed picture of it hanging over my stove. *

I will definitely be going back to Catalina again, as soon as they are back on their feet.

*There, restaurant meme people, happy now?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I would offer you complete domination of the Academy Awards, but you already have that.

Hey! Hey, Queen Elizabeth! You look great! No, seriously, you do! Not that it's difficult to outshine Mousy McSecretdrinkersons, there, or her mother-in-law, Barbara "my husband cheated on me for years and everyone knew it and that's why I'm a bitter old bitch" Bush. But still, bravo on the outfit! You look regal. And frame handbags have made a comeback, and that's great for you, because you have, like, 800 of them, right?

Anyway! What I want to know is, will you take us back? Seriously! No, seriously! About three quarters of us here, which is an overwhelming majority, you know, are really fucking miserable, excuse my language, and we were hoping you would take us back into the kingdom. And you could rule us, you know, symbolically or whatever, and we would put you on some coins and stamps and t-shirts and stuff, and that new PM - we frankly could care less who he's going to be - could function as our executive branch. We think it could be a really sweet deal for both of us. Here's why:

1. We both hate the French.
2. Our GDP, while not being what it used to be, is still pretty damn impressive. Sure, we're no China, but at least we use the same kind of eating utensils you do.
3. You could have David Beckham back.

Think about it, your majesty, seriously, and have your people get back to our people.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


As I drove home from work early last night past the great smoky hillside that once was the eastern end of Griffith Park, it seemed like the fire was mostly over.

And then later on in the evening, it flared up again. After the local news switched over to late night programming, Spooney and I walked outside and saw what looked like a volcano in the distance, about 6 miles away from our house as the crow flies. It was all glowing red - and I mean RED, and smoky, with multiple helicopters hovering overhead.

We heard that Dante's View, a 2-acre landscaped garden & refuge off one of the trails in the park, had been destroyed. This is the picture I took from that very spot in February, after riding horses with my friend Kate through what is now the burn zone.

The chaparral and trees that you're looking at are all gone now, as far as I can tell.

That's Griffith Park Observatory that you see on the peak. It's an amazing place, with a kick-ass telescope and a Tesla Coil, and it's been the scene of many movie shoots, including Rebel Without a Cause.

The fire came very close to overrunning it last night.

Somewhere below it is the Los Angeles Zoo. Earlier in the day yesterday, the visitors were evacuated and the animals ushered to their indoor pens. A spokesperson for the zoo said that their plan was to protect the animals there, for now, and that evacuating the animals (actually, only a portion of the animals), is a last resort. Can you imagine?

To say nothing of all the fleeing deer and coyotes and birds and rabbits and other varmits displaced by this 600 acre fire.

And the 300 people in Los Feliz waiting to go back to their homes.

It's going to be a bad summer for Los Angeles, I'll tell you what.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Felony Assholery

It sounds like Carl Persing’s an asshole.

First of all, PDA with your girlfriend on an airplane is gross. I don’t want to watch you make out with tongues for 6 hours from Los Angeles to Raleigh.

Secondly, don’t get drunk on the plane. And if you do, please do us all the favor of quietly passing out. Don't have a med-mix fit, or leave a gift on the drink cart.

Thirdly, flight attendants are no longer solely what the formerly funny Dennis Miller once described as waitresses in the worst restaurant in the world. Their duties, whether it be the safety of the passengers, or the enforcement of the “no rubes in the first class potty” rule, are being taken quite seriously these days.

Poor Carl found that out a little too late. He discovered that it doesn’t matter that you’re on vacation, and that your girlfriend is hot, and that that third martini made you feel really fucking loose, man. When that flight attendant comes over and tells you to stop it, and sit down and shut up, you have to do it.

You have to do it.

Even if she is a bitch, dude.

Or would you prefer a felony conviction? With actual jail time? Because that’s what Carl got.

For being an asshole.

And while it sounds like the best idea, like, ever, to put assholes in jail, I don’t think there are too many of my readers out there who wouldn’t cop to at least a tiny bit of “there but for the grace of god…”

I’ll raise my hand up there.

But if we ARE going to put assholes in jail, I know where there's a whole nest of 'em.

Holy fuck

We're on fucking fire again, y'all.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Making bets on Kentucky Derby Day

The Watson Twins had their 10th annual Derby in LA party on Saturday. I'm still recovering, and I don't mean from the $15 bucks I lost on the ponies. (Curse you, Circular Quay!!!!)

It was a warm day, and Spooney lost his jacket before our elegance could even be documented properly. Besides, um, could someone please tell me to pull down my skirt next time they take my picture?

The Silverlake musician mafia was in attendance.

Reigning sartorial champion Talmadge, on the right, puts a young upstart in his place.
"Seersucker, young man? That is SO 2003!"

I don't know who this guy is, but it was totally my favorite outfit of the day.

Jenny Lewis was there. She's teeny tiny.

Also Paula Kelley of Paula Kelley Orchestra and Banquet Hall, and hubby Aaron Tap, who plays with Matt Nathanson and Fantastic Black. You can't even tell they are Yankees here, can you?

Here I am with friends Mary Catherine Garrison and Chandra Watson.

I think we are arguing about hats, or something.

Again, my skirt is not really as short as it looks here. Jesus.

And here's a pic of our lovely photographer, (who of course refuses to be photographed in anything other than black and white) Grooveva.

Friday, May 04, 2007

So, we're out of Iraq, then?

Yesterday, W sent letters to Pelosi and Reid saying he would veto any legislation that would “allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.”

And the next. And the next.

At the risk of becoming the “all suicide, all the time” blog, I really feel like I need to share what my big brother has to say about the cause behind the action. As you will no doubt notice, my brother takes any loss to alcoholism personally, and I’m pretty sure you couldn’t have gone through what he did and have emerged any other way:

I have some experience with alcoholism. It is cunning, baffling and powerful and affects loved ones and family members as much as it does the afflicted. Alcohol robs someone of their ability to feel true emotions to the extent that they forget what true emotions are. Hunger and pain are not emotions, and laughter is not happiness as it turns out.

So when a family member or other loved one becomes sick in a way where they can not experience vital emotions so necessary to the family environment, the entire family becomes sick. Love may still exist at some level but becomes layered with denial, guilt, anger and fear. It’s only natural to blame the behaviors of an alcoholic on the person and not the disease. (Yes, sometimes I call it that, sometimes I don’t.) Speaking as an alcoholic I would venture to say that normal people don’t really know the extent of the pain and self-loathing that the alcoholic feels, trapped and helpless as they are with only themselves to blame. The alcoholic in turn has no idea of the damage they’ve wrought as they hold the family captive.

Part of recovery is learning not to blame yourself for how you behaved while under the influence, and the influence unfortunately lasts long after the last drink. Without help, the family, (IMHO) have little chance to come to terms with distinguishing between the person and the effects of alcohol. The art of insulation, the natural reaction to an emotionally abusive environment, remains the survival tactic. Life cannot return to normal while members cannot feel and express true emotion, and trust remains just over the horizon.

I would be dead if I had owned a gun back then. I was faced with my limits of pain endurance, and as proud as I had been of them previously, I was no match for a progressive disease.

It is progressive.

As an Emergency Medical Technician, I have stood late at night in many a living room in my EMT jumpsuit and quietly pronounced this attribute, and got as close to getting outside of the bounds of what an EMT is really supposed to do as I ever got. I knew without the patient uttering a word that they would tell me that they are now okay and capable of making it through yet another night. “This isn’t about tonight, this is about tomorrow night and the next.”

Occasionally, I would reach in my wallet (non standard EMS equipment that it is) and pull out a slip of paper with a phone number. The message that I would try and leave them with was: think about calling this number before it ends.

All too often it ends. When you get tapped to “single gunshot, police on scene, one victim, no perp” call you pretty much know what you will find. It will be messy, it will be self-inflicted, it will most likely involve alcohol. The natural result of a progressive disease untreated.

This month marks my 17th year anniversary of my last drink. I should be dead but somehow I made it, with LOTS of help from others. I can say I would never have made it or even come close without that help, as hard as it was to accept. At one point I was willing to die rather than accept that help, how insane is that? I got lucky, I hit is just right, the few moments between when the pain was so unbearable that death was preferred. In lieu of a gun I had chosen to drink myself to death. (Remind anyone of Leaving Las Vegas ?) I damn near succeeded and was sick for a long time; they measured my remaining life in weeks originally.

I can’t say I experienced a single moment of feeling happy for over a year after I quit drinking… until one morning. On that morning tears came to my eyes as I realized the pain had quietly receded just a little bit at a time, I will never forget the moment, I was eating pancakes with syrup and they tasted good, and my little beige cat named Beige was sitting beside the plate purring with her eyes half shut. Knowing that it takes over a year to start to feel emotions in some cases, it becomes very clear that you can not “get better” from this disease overnight, or in a month.

As it was it took many years before I undid much of the damage of my time spent drinking. I spent years helping others, thousands of ambulance calls and countless shifts at the trauma center, always with a little piece of paper in my wallet with a phone number on it as a final tool.

My definition of a “bad day” has changed. Any day where family members are still relatively healthy is a day that we can ultimately get through, and consequently not really a bad day. I haven’t had a bad day in over 6,180 days

I was saddened but not surprised by recent events. The phrase that I heard was that “everything is all better now” when in fact it could not be, and the utterance of that phrase shows the depth and insidiousness of the disease. The effect of the disease lives on in loved ones and family members and it is my hope that they one day can accept the help needed to start their own recovery.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

if you only will

Whenever I watch King of the Hill, I am reminded of my Nebraska uncles and cousins.

Especially Lonny, my cousin by marriage. He was always there at family events, standing around, looking amiable with a beer can in his hand. Every time I saw him, I thought that he seemed to me to be the Nebraskan Hank Hill: conflict adverse, alcohol friendly, ready to help me out with any family reunion-related task or chore, just as long as he didn’t have to agree with me on any political or moral issue, ever.

He worked at a meat packing plant. He like to deer hunt and to fish. He had a boat and a little vacation cabin on a lake. He was proud that his son had gone into law enforcement.

He was also what they call a “functioning alcoholic.” For many, many years.

Until the “functioning” part stopped functioning. Until, piece by piece, everything single part of his life stopped functioning.

And then, he shot himself.

Out at the cabin. And, of course, being the man that he was, he arranged that his family would find his note too late to stop him, and that they wouldn’t be the ones to find the body.

I was told that his note said, “I can’t do it anymore.” And now here I sit, wondering not only how many times I have said that in my life, but how many times I have said that about life itself, about the very effort of living. And how fucking trivial all those proclamations seem now.

So, please, gentle readers, if you can, go read my little sister’s beautiful post on our cousin Lonny.

And I hope with all my heart, when I tell you that today I burst into tears when I heard James Taylor sing “shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel,” that you will not think less of me. I am still the same hard person I was before. I promise.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Dos and Don'ts of Immigration Reform Rallys

If you’re a recent immigrant participating in an immigration reform march:

Do: Carry an American flag. It IS the flag of the country in which you wish to live, am I right?

Don’t: Carry a flag from any other country. I know you want to represent, but Americans have kind of a phobia about other country’s flags. We really don’t like them at all. Because their colors run, or something, I don’t know. Look, I’m not a psychiatrist, but it should be pretty obvious to, oh, everyone on the planet that the fastest way to our hearts is through our flag.

Do: Try to police the other marchers, and appeal to their better instincts to behave themselves.

Don’t: Throw bottles at the LAPD. I know they’re assholes, mostly, but they are the police, and part of what you’re trying to demonstrate is that you are valuable members of our society, not criminal members. Get it?

If you’re a member of the Los Angeles Police Department:

Do: Separate troublemakers from a large crowd and deal with them swiftly, without violence, if you can. Remain in contact with the march organizers and ask their advice on crowd control and communication.

Don’t: Get all medieval on thousands of poor Mexicans in a public park.

Do: Keep in mind that the vast majority of the protestors just want to march peacefully and go home safely. Try to help them in their goal. Firing rubber bullets on a crowd for not following directions that they can’t hear or understand will hardly improve your already troubled reputation.

Don’t: Beat journalists so severely that they must go to the hospital. Remember, journalists tend to be very influential members of the press.

If you’re a member of the press covering the march:

Do: Remember to carry your credentials, and wear them in a prominent place.

Don’t: Forget your helmet.

If you’re the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in a hundred years:

Do: Remember that you represent the entire city.

Don’t: Go out of town right before the march and then release a statement feigning shock the next day.