Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

From 1947, it's Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam (yes, I'm on a Bugs and Sam kick at the moment) in Bugs Bunny Rides Again.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Project Office Mayhem

Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 250 (and a Slice of Coffee and Pie)

David Lynch Approved This Message

Listening Post

Just because I'm having a hell of a rough day doesn't mean you have to.

Here's a little something that it's impossible to feel bad while listening to and watching.

Happy Friday! It's Basement Jaxx -- Romeo.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Going, Going...

Just a heads-up from Malcontent Central: Obviously if you read the piece below you know that I'm going to be pretty scarce for the next few days.

I'll try to put up a little something here and there -- particularly on Saturday and Sunday. But I can't guarantee much new material besides that (although I'll continue to check comments).

Hope everyone understands.

Until I get back -- here's a picture of Michael Steele and Humpty from Digital Underground, side-by-side.

Listening Post

One of the most beautiful songs of this or any other decade.

David Gray's This Years Love.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Now It's Quiet

Inara is asleep right now.

Earlier this evening, as usual, I fed her a warm dinner then handed her over to her grandmother, who bathed her in the sink. We wrapped her in a soft white towel and laid her out on the bed in the guest room (my bed at the moment). We dressed her in terrycloth pajamas with horizontal stripes of pink, brown and white (and little feet that look like ladybugs). Then I took her in my arms and carried her into the family room which has been made over into a nursery/playroom; I fed her a bottle and watched her eyes eventually flutter and close as she drifted off to sleep.

I continued holding her for a little while, then placed her gently in the fold-away crib -- the one that, like my own temporary bed, has been her nightly resting place for the past month or so.

This is the last night she'll sleep in it for -- well, I'm not sure for how long really.

Tomorrow, my mother and I spend the night with my aunt and uncle; they happen to live close to the airport, which will put me in a better position to board a plane with Inara early Friday morning -- a plane that will take us back to New York City. Two days after our arrival there, one of us will get on another plane and return to Miami alone.

I'm not angry about having to bring my baby girl back to New York for the summer. Jayne is Inara's mother and under no circumstances would I ever want to keep the two of them apart. Jayne and I may have the weight of the adult world on our shoulders right now -- what feels like a million-and-one daily crises borne from desperately trying to keep a sinking ship from taking the both of us down with it -- but our mutual love for Inara is constant and unwavering. We love her. Each of us wants her to have a father and a mother. On this we can agree. It may, in fact, be the only thing we can agree on anymore.

But while my head understands and collates this information -- that Inara needs to spend time with her mother, whether I'm physically present or not -- my heart aches at the daunting notion of what's about to happen: For the first time in her life, my child will be separated from her father. From me. For the first time, I won't be with my baby.

I've always been there with her. Circumstances are such that she's been in my care almost every day since Jayne went back to work months ago. This isn't meant to imply that my wife has been a bad or inattentive mother, since that's not the case at all. It simply means that I don't know what it's like to wake up without my daughter's smile. To not feed her. To not play with her and laugh with her and hold her when she cries and stare in wide-eyed awe when she does something completely new. I've never lived in a place that isn't warmed and brightened simply by her being in it.

I've never felt the agonizing emptiness of not having her near.

And I'm so scared to have to now.

In the middle of the night, I sometimes hear her crying -- but when I get out of bed and rush to the side of her crib, I realize that it's my imagination. That she's still quietly, soundly asleep. I've tried to fight back the implications of this phenomenon but I realize that as the time of our departure for New York approaches, I can't lie to myself anymore: When she's gone, I'm going to still hear her in this home. It will be like phantom limb pain. I'll hear her crying and run out to the family room and not only will she not be crying, she won't be there at all.

And I won't be able to stop myself from crying.

This place isn't really my home; neither is it Inara's (although we've both been welcomed as if it were). But during our time here, she's imbued it with so much life -- through her laughter and joy, her mere presence -- that I can't imagine what it's going to be like to return here and feel the void left behind by her absence. Some of her clothes will still be here. The food I used to feed her and some of the toys she used to play with. But she'll be gone.

Every afternoon, I strap Inara into her stroller and walk her up the street to a tiny nearby park that's completely shaded by a canopy of giant trees. We play on the jungle gym. I hold her on my end of a little spring see-saw and bounce her up and down. I put her into one of two kiddie swings, pull her back and let her go -- and watch the smile immediately appear on her face. I even hop on the big kid swings next to her once in a while.

Tomorrow, I'll do this one last time before we leave.

I know I'll be with her again someday soon. I know that I'll visit her while she's in New York. But right now none of this provides much consolation.

No amount of telling myself that everything's going to be okay will fill the deafening quiet that's to come.

The Crying Game

This is the most fun you'll have all day (and likely well into the night). It's also sure to make you want to throw your laptop through a window because your brain is about to melt down and run out of your ears.

Empire Magazine, in honor of its 20th anniversary, has put together a painting that's basically a series of movie references -- 50 to be exact, all supposedly from the last 20 years. As you scan around and get each answer, the part of the painting that provides that specific clue darkens, and the game itself keeps track of your answers in case you want to stop and pick it up later (which you'll probably need to at some point). Some of the references are shockingly obvious; some are damn near impossible to figure out. You'll be amazed at the ones you get right off the bat that you know others are racking their brains over, and you'll no doubt face-palm yourself into a coma at the ones you missed and shouldn't have.

For the record, I managed to get 47 right before hitting the wall. A few message boards have the answers but I seriously recommend trying to go as far as you possibly can without resorting to that.

Oh yeah, and I'll give you one clue: At least one of the movie references isn't technically from the last 20 years. They sort of cheated by counting a recent independent foreign film that happens to go by the same name as a more famous film from the 1970s.

Good luck.

Empire Online: Cryptic Canvas

(h/t Cesca)

Bring the Cute 2 (Rise of the Lycans)

What's at Stake

Buffy without Whedon?

Jesus, the vampires won't be the only thing about this movie that sucks.

The Hollywood Reporter: Buffy in for Movie Relaunch/5.25.09

But if you think that's bad, check out this. I get that Hollywood's been out of good ideas for years, but really, how do studio execs manage to keep a straight face while green-lighting stuff that reads like a South Park gag?

Prom Queens of the Stone Age

With prom season once again mercilessly upon us, it's time for the usual outcry of surprise and indignation over the fact that there are schools in this country which even to this day stage segregated proms.

At face value, it's admittedly shocking that this kind of thing continues to go on -- but for some reason this year's outrage from everyone not still living in the 1950s seems especially pointed. Maybe it's the knowledge that there's a black man in the White House. Maybe it's that the arm of the Republican party which gleefully pandered to the most ignorant among us has been driven from power and utterly put asunder as a cultural force. Maybe it's just that smart people have finally wised up, had enough, and are now willing to drag the lowest common denominator, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the new millennium. Whatever the reason, there's been a hell of a lot of press over the past couple of weeks aimed at those few Southern high schools that still willfully practice Jim Crow-era racism when it comes time to celebrate that most sacred of high school traditions.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an extended column about a high school in Georgia that was, for the very first time in its existence, holding an integrated prom. This morning, I'm resurrecting that piece.

"The Dance That Time Forgot" (Originally Published, 4.26.07)

For a short time, a few years back, my wife and I lived in "The South." It's important to clarify right off the bat that the area of which I'm speaking, despite seeming to owe its designation solely to where it happens to sit on the map, is in fact not so much a location as it is a declaration. The southern portion of the United States as a whole bears little resemblance to "The South." I grew up in Miami, which is about as far south as you can go without leaving the country (although I'd argue that once you cross the border into Miami-Dade county, for all intents and purposes, you have left the country). Still, Miami in particular and a good portion of Florida in general only serve to prove my point; neither represents The South as a corporeal entity -- a way of life, as it were. Instead, Florida seems more like The South's basement, which would explain why The South apparently keeps so many of its deranged and retarded cousins stuffed down there; it's as if the bottom dropped out and all of the truly worthless adherents to the Southern modus vivendi just tumbled down into that elongated, penis-shaped pit, to be heard from only when the crew from Cops shows up.

For a guy who had lived his entire 32 years in the coastal triumvirate of Miami-New York-Los Angeles, and a girl who had grown up just outside Philadelphia, adjusting to life in The South proved to be an adventure -- one fraught with constant challenges and the occasional unfortunate pitfall. There was the positive: an excellent and affordable lifestyle, a daily pace which all-but-assured that we would remain healthy and comfortably ulcer-free for years to come, good friends, free time which allowed us the opportunity to explore, decent cultural events, some truly spectacular dining, etc.; the negative: a pace that made us feel as if we were stagnating in ultra-slow motion, the lack of a nearby large body of water, an odd feeling that we were looked upon as morally bankrupt Northeastern carpetbaggers by some of the more Stepford-esque elements, the constant and sometimes less-than-friendly reminders that as far as politics were concerned we were way behind enemy lines, the inability to get a decent pizza, the fact that it wasn't New York, etc.; and the, well, "Southern": the ubiquitous insistence on deriving pride from a 140-year-old war which it lost and was on the wrong side of in the first place, a law forbidding the sale of alcohol on Sundays, a law enforcing the placement of anti-evolution nonsense in public school science texts, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, NASCAR, Zell Miller, etc.

As somewhat of an unrepentant prick, it's entirely likely that I infuriated quite a few of the people my wife and I encountered during our stint in Dixie; this was due mostly to my propensity to argue ferociously with anyone who tried convincing me that my prejudice against certain elements of Southern culture was based on a long-since outdated model -- that things were different in the "New South."

A lot had apparently changed over the years and I just hadn't paid attention; it wasn't all Dukes of Hazzard under the Mason-Dixon line anymore.

While I'd never cast a wide net over such a large area and everyone contained within -- both my own mother and a very dear friend of mine hail from Kentucky, a state whose motto, as proclaimed on a t-shirt, is "Electricity in Almost Every Town" -- there are simply too many instances in which the stereotypically indigenous Southern mentality has raised its ugly, toothless head as of late for the evidence to be ignored: In some places, the New South is still very much the Old South.

Case in point: Last weekend, Turner County High School in Ashburn, Georgia held its first integrated prom. It's first integrated prom ever.

144 years since the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves; 137 years since the passage of the 15th Amendment which ostensibly guaranteed voting rights, regardless of color; 53 years since Brown v. Board of Education ended the subtle tyranny of "separate but equal"; 50 years since the Civil Rights Act of 1957; 9 days since Don Imus was fired from his radio show for calling the Rutgers Womens' Basketball team "nappy-headed hos" -- and one Georgia high school is just now getting around to integrating its prom.

It would seem that Ashburn forgot to set the alarm clock and somehow slept through the last five decades.

Before I draw any comparisons to those fabled Pacific islands where, even today, there may be stranded 108-year-old Japanese soldiers who believe that WWII is still being fought, let me make something clear: I don't much care how Turner High School, or any other school for that matter, chooses to celebrate its prom (and that by the way is the mitigating factor school administrators cite when faced with having to defend the practice of a segregated prom -- that the students have long chosen to party separately). If the kids want something a certain way, it's not my place to say otherwise; I have far better things to do with my time than argue for the "liberation" of group which doesn't feel that it's being in any way oppressed in the first place. That said, I'm not sure that the situation that's existed in Ashburn has simply been a matter of inertia all these years -- that an object at rest has stayed at rest until the students suddenly got motivated and decided to give things a push. On the contrary, a quick glance at the reaction by some of the "towns-folk" -- and yes, I fully expect for that word to be taken with the spirit of derision in which it was offered -- to this past weekend's landmark event would seem to prove that Ashburn really is the land that time forgot, thus proving that time may be smarter than I thought.

According to Turner County School Superintendent Ray Jordan, it was indeed the students themselves who pushed to finally integrate the prom -- a bold step forward which Jordan says fills him with a sense of pride in the students. The fact that such an obvious undertaking -- given that it's now the beginning of the 21st century -- can be lauded with such fanfare tells you everything you need to know in this case: Either the student body of Turner High is comprised of borderline retards who deserve acclaim for the accomplishment of mundane round-peg-in-round-hole tasks, or, more likely, the act of integration was in fact a painful one that forced the kids to break a tradition many would rather have kept intact.

Evidence in favor of this latter possibility comes courtesy of one white Turner High student, anonymous of course, who said that despite wishing them no ill-will, her mother and mother's friends would rather she not associate with "coloreds."

This is probably a good time to once again remind you to take a look at your calendar.

Unfortunately, before you assume that the flag of progress planted by the brave kids of Turner High signals the end of the Ashburn Apartheid, it's important to note that the integrated prom was a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, a private whites-only party which took place two weeks earlier. When asked about that gathering, one Turner senior dismissed accusations that it was racist, instead calling it "tradition." In other words, the white kids get not one but two parties -- one privately funded -- and also get to use the time-honored and thoroughly horseshit excuse that, even if the original aim of the exclusive function was racist in every possible way, now it's simply done out of a sense of well, whatever -- and make no mistake, that's exactly what they're claiming.

It goes without saying that mixing-up the Turner High School prom, while still clutching to a separate event for white students, defeats the purpose of desegregation entirely. Likewise, the belief that to forgo the "traditional" white prom would be to abandon a proud heritage -- the unstated reality -- is symptomatic of an ideology that's haunted the South since Lee put pen to paper at Appomatox. It's the same faulty reasoning that's been at the core of the fight to keep the Confederate emblem on state flags across the South, despite its negative connotation to just about every living human being not writing to former Judge Roy Moore to enlist his help in securing the triumphant return of Hee-Haw to network television. Laying claim to a legacy automatically assumes that the legacy is worth perpetuating. Nobody celebrates the day they found out they had herpes (although the whole "Confederate Pride" thing is, admittedly, just as stubborn and arguably twice as nasty).

Segregation in any form isn't a legacy worth preserving or honoring.

The students of Turner High School have taken a bold step forward -- into the 1960s. And while it may wind up being the necessary first of many to come, them and others like them run the risk of walking in place as long as the New South holds on to the tired heritage of the Old South.

Because in the end, tradition is nothing more than a lack of imagination.

Listening Post

Probably the best fan-made video you're likely to see for quite some time.

From Death Cab for Cutie's new release, The Open Door EP, here's Little Bribes.

Quote of the Week

"I’m not really certain how intellectually strong she would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit."

-- Karl Rove, the man who gave us short-lived Supreme Court nominee/wide-eyed sycophant Harriet Miers and who comes from the party of Sarah Palin and George W. Bush, on Sonia Sotomayor

Seriously, I expected some pretty crazy crap to come out of the Republicans' mouths in a desperate attempt to make Sotomayor look unpalatable, but you're kidding me, right? They're going to dare to bring up the "I" word? These opportunists who've sucked up to the most uneducated, most fearful of those who put logic and reason above blind faith, most likely to believe that evolution and global warming aren't real and that the world is 6,000 years old and Jesus will protect his children living on it from destroying themselves and their home through an endless cycle of waste and pollution -- these people are suddenly bitching about the need for a strong intellect?

Wow -- just wow. The lack of shame is fucking staggering.

(h/t Cesca)

Dream Sequence

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jesus Hates Me, This I Know

So while I was at the gym earlier tonight I couldn't help but notice this very cute girl whom I'd seen there a couple of times before.

Now obviously I'm in no state of mind to even consider the possibility of dating -- or even fooling around, for that matter. At any given moment I'm barely keeping my shit together; going through the motions, mental and physical, of trying to pick somebody up just seems preposterous right now. I'm still in the very early stages of the Kubler-Ross grief model and can't help but feel like any intimate encounter would end with me balled up on the floor in my underwear crying to whichever woman had been unlucky enough to get saddled with me for the night about how I miss the way my wife eats edamame. It'd be pathetic and I know it. Sort of like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, only less funny and with fewer Dracula puppets.

But, admittedly, the girl at the gym looked quite a bit like Jayne -- circa 2002, when we first met -- so that's probably what held my attention for a few seconds past the point of propriety. She was petite, with brown hair pulled up in a tight pony tail and wearing a plain white t-shirt and a pair of black leggings. Definitely hard not to notice.

As we were just about the only two people in the gym, we passed each other a couple of times -- without so much as a sideways glance. Then finally, we happened to come from opposite directions around a corner and approach the gym's main water fountain at the same time. I got there a few paces ahead, took a quick sip, then looked up and smiled at her, motioning that the fountain was all hers. She smiled back and leaned in to drink. I turned to walk back in the direction I'd just come from, but curiosity got the best of me and I looked over my shoulder -- just in time to see her turn to the side to look in my direction. Once again, she smiled. Once again, I smiled back.

And then she spun on her heel and began to walk away.

And there, on the back of her shirt, was a silk-screened image of a sneaker -- and around it in black lettering:


Yeah. This single thing is so gonna suck.

Quote of the Week (Honorable Mention)

"Madonna is beautiful... with no visible faults."

-- Brazilian model, boy toy, and septuagenarian fetishist Jesus Luz, talking about his on-and-off lover and proving once again that Madonna's succubine spell is something to be both feared and admired

(By the way, that picture just kills me. She looks like a bag lady and he looks like Anthony Edwards's cool friend in Gotcha.)

Kill the Messenger... Literally

Conservative military writer and raving psychopath Ralph Peters really turns on the charm in the latest issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs. He suggests taking a, shall we say, "hardline" approach to dealing with journalists who don't immediately dig out the red-white-and-blue short skirts and pom-poms every time this country goes to war.

"Rejecting the god of their fathers, the neo-pagans who dominate the media serve as lackeys at the terrorists' bloody altar.

Pretending to be impartial, the self-segregating personalities drawn to media careers overwhelmingly take a side, and that side is rarely ours. Although it seems unthinkable now, future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. Perceiving themselves as superior beings, journalists have positioned themselves as protected-species combatants. But freedom of the press stops when its abuse kills our soldiers and strengthens our enemies. Such a view arouses disdain today, but a media establishment that has forgotten any sense of sober patriotism may find that it has become tomorrow's conventional wisdom.

The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters... Our victories are ultimately in humanity's interests, while our failures nourish monsters."

The good news is that, as was previously mentioned today, most members of the media are so damn drunk that they'll make for really tough targets if it ever comes to that; I'm not sure even the military's most technologically advanced guided weaponry could hit Christopher Hitchens after a fifth of Macallan 25.

Still, every time I think the right has pushed the envelope of outrageous stupidity to the breaking point, they manage to find hidden reserves of fucking insane.

Breaking Booze

From the "No Shit" file:

The Guardian: Media Workers are Heaviest Drinking Professionals/5.24.09

Hell, the guy who wrote this article was probably hammered at the time. I know I am right now.

For the record, though, Hitchens may have blown the bell curve on this one.

Bulk Smash!

You know, if Jenny McCarthy happens to be around when Kirstie gets hungry, and then Oprah happens to stumble upon the scene with an elephant gun, this could really turn out well.

The Examiner: Kirstie Alley Angry Oprah Gave Talk Show to Jenny McCarthy Instead of Her/5.23.09

Related: DXM: Autism Speaks (and Speaks, and Speaks)/5.6.09

Justice is Served

Let the bukkake of far right crazy begin. By noon this woman will be a communist lesbian sex-addict terrorist-sympathizer who wants to sell America's children into slavery overseas.

MSNBC: Obama to Pick Sotomayor for Supreme Court/5.26.09

Related: DXM: Judge Dread/5.1.09

First (and Second, and Third...) Person Shooter

I'm not sure what's funnier about this: the clip itself or the fact that a former CNN anchor -- specifically, all-around cool lady Bobbie Battista -- is now working for the Onion.

Onion News Network: Hot New Video Game Consists Solely of Shooting People Point-Blank in the Face

Tuesday Is Recycling Day

"An Open Letter to Al Sharpton" (Originally Published, 12.4.07)

Dear Al,

It's been eating you alive, hasn't it?

You've been sitting there at home, fidgeting like a smack addict in need of a fix, desperate to satisfy the need that drives you 24/7 -- the one that calls out to you in the middle of the night and just won't go away until it's fed.

It's okay, Al -- I understand. It's not your fault; it's your disease.

You suffer from ADD. Attention Deficit Disorder.

Your body goes into withdrawals when you've been deprived of attention for too long.

It's a common condition these days, although you admittedly have a particularly acute case of it.

How long has it been for you, Al? How long has it been since some negligibly curious racial controversy popped into the public consciousness and provided you the perfect gaping hole in which to insert yourself? When was the last time you got the chance to blow what might otherwise have been an innocuous and easily rectifiable situation completely out of proportion, turning it into an international incident? When were you last afforded the perfect excuse to forgo honest, constructive dialogue in favor of draconian public demagoguery?

How long has it been since you've seen yourself on TV, Al?

I know, man, it hurts -- which is why Don Imus's return to the airwaves just couldn't have come at a better time.

I mean, despite it having been a legitimately contentious issue, the Jena Six thing worked out really well for you personally: It was just like the 60s what with that big march and all -- with you and Jesse getting to join together to create one big cacophonous wall of righteous indignation. But Imus, well that was your magnum opus -- a masterpiece of misdirection. During that whole sickening malignancy on the logic-and-reason center of the collective American brain you really made your presence known. You were the man of the hour, on every talk show and every panel of discussion, raising all kinds of hell and organizing all sorts of unnecessary marches and protests. You were almost single-handedly responsible for the downfall of a broadcasting icon -- an admittedly irrelevent icon, as easy a target as there ever was, but an icon nonetheless.

How it must've irritated you that Imus managed to somehow pull himself out of the hole you blithely dug for him.

Except that it didn't bother you at all, and you and I both know it.

The second coming of Imus presented you with the perfect Christmas gift: a brand new chance to dredge up all kinds of absurd acrimony over an old man's stupid, offhand comment -- a comment that was so laughably feeble from the outset that it still seems incomprehensible for it to have at one point occupied so much of America's attention.

So, last night, you once again got the fix of that precious spotlight -- the one you've been so desperately craving.

You turned up on Larry King Live, as well as a few other "news" shows. You were again welcomed with open arms and your opinions and supposed conventional wisdom were again treated with respect -- as if they held some sort of significance and weren't, in fact, little more than self-obsessed blather.

You were holding court, and it was good.

But here's the thing -- the big secret that someone with an ego as monumental as yours is probably unwilling or unable to admit to himself: The people who invited you on that show couldn't care less what you think. What you have to say doesn't matter half as much as how you say it. You're an instigator, and that's all that the brain trusts behind Larry King and Hardball and O'Reilly and the rest of their ilk are looking for.

They want someone who makes for good TV.

They want a clown to entertain their audiences and keep them watching.

And you're it.

You never disappoint. You give them exactly what they're looking for, every single time.

While you sit in a studio howling and whining and haranguing and moralizing, trying as best you can to speak as loudly as you can into the microphone, a television producer turns giddy cartwheels in a control room, knowing that America probably won't be able to turn away.

But what's the harm really?

Everyone's getting what they want, right? You're playing them -- getting all that priceless face-time and maintaining your wholly undeserved place as an authority figure; they're playing you -- using your surefire buffoonery to create the kinds of contrived controversies that translate into one giant ratings bonanza again and again.

In the end, who loses?

We do of course.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bring the Cute

Yes, I've turned into that guy. Eat it.

Listening Post

Sorry kids, but I'm taking the holiday off for the most part. So in lieu of real material, meaning anything it takes me longer than a couple of seconds to post, this place is basically turning into a radio station/video channel.

Here's a thoroughly cool new song from Cage the Elephant. This is Ain't No Rest for the Wicked.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quote of the Week (Early Contender)

"I'm a happy, single guy. He's a repressed, typical Republican. I'm sure just terribly sexually repressed and it comes out in all their sorts of hatred and vile and bile -- why would I be bitter? First of all, our side won."

-- Bill Maher on Sean Hannity, who recently claimed that the Fox News Channel doesn't like Maher because he's become "bitter"

Listening Post

A song that barrels along like a tank, barely clocking in at two minutes -- and a video that pays homage to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

It's new music from the Datsuns -- So Long.

Comment of the Week

From cousinavi, in response to yesterday's Saturday Morning Cartoon:

"Bugs Bunny quotes are appropriate political commentary for almost any situation.

Cheney demanding the release of classified documents:



'Clomph ud! Clomph ud! Clommph ud uh ugunh!'

Congress versus the CIA on matters of credibility:

'Of course you know, this means war.'

Meghan McCain with her father on November 6:

'Oh father! Beaten by a giant mouse.'

GOP Foreign Policy:

'I'm a'gonna blow ya to smithereenies!'

Cheney defending torture:

'I'm a chickenhawk and yer a chicken. Now are ya gonna come along peaceable, or does I have ta muss yas up?'"

Congratulations, cousinavi -- you've just won 1,000,000 GBP, compliments of Google. Just send me your full name, social security number and e-mail password and it's all yours. Thanks for playing!

Sunday Sacrilege

"Let's put this on eBay. How much do you think we should ask for it? It could be 25 cents, could be 25 dollars. If it's only 25 cents, we're just going to eat it."

-- Dan Bell of Dallas, who, along with his wife, recently discovered a Cheeto in the shape of Jesus

I for one welcome our new cheese-flavored snack savior.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Morning Cartoons

This is like the Caddyshack of cartoons: It has so many quotable lines.

From 1951, here's Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam in Fair-Haired Hare.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Listening Post: Happy Hour Lounge Edition

I mentioned Res earlier today and linked to one of her songs, but that just put me in the mood to hear more from her. Here's something perfect to have a drink to after work and going into a long weekend.

It's smooth, sexy, funky and oh-so-cool -- Golden Boys.

Quote of the Week (Honorable Mention)

"We're not going to bring al Qaeda to Big Sky Country. No way, not on my watch."

-- Democratic Senator from Montana and stupid cliché aficionado Max Baucus, who, it should be noted in his defense, is apparently mentally retarded

(h/t Cesca)

Tricky Dick

Gee, here's a shock.

McClatchy Newspapers: Cheney's Speech Contained Omissions, Exaggerations, Misstatements/5.21.09

A good rule of thumb these days: If it's coming from the right and it sounds like it proves their case, it's probably bullshit.

Listening Post

Santogold is the epitome of cool.

Influenced by a perfectly even blend of punk, 80s new wave, hip hop and reggae, she's been a producer and writer -- specifically working on one of my favorite unsung records of the last decade, the debut album from Res -- and the brains and voice behind her own debut album, which could very well have been the best thing released last year.

She's the true definition of an artist, always pushing boundaries and regularly working with some of the most talented and divergent people in modern music -- from Mark Ronson, to the Beastie Boys, to Lily Allen, to David Byrne.

From her eponymous first record, here's Santogold, with the best song you'll hear all day -- Lights Out.

And as a bonus, here she is with Julian Casablancas of the Strokes and Pharrell, doing My Drive Thru.

(And yes, I realize she's officially changed the spelling of her stage name to Santigold. Give me a little time to let it sink in, please.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Honorable Mention

A quick shout-out to Simon Owens, who was kind enough to include my little corner of the internet on his list of the Top 10 New Media Blogs over at

Always nice to be recognized -- unless it's by the police.

Quote of the Week

"When they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations. The terrorists see just what they were hoping for -- our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity."

-- Dick Cheney, as usual partying like it's 2004 (and as if anyone gives a rat's ass what he thinks anymore), in his "rebuttal" speech to President Obama's address at the National Archives yesterday

To read the rest of Cheney's impotent, Captain Queegian ramblings -- and you really have to see this shit to believe it -- click here.

Keep at it, Dick. You're doing the Democratic strategists' jobs for them.

Just remember: 13% approval rating.

Project Office Mayhem

Your assignment, as usual: Quietly put the following link up on every computer in your office, then crank all the speakers to full volume.

Mischief points: 75

If you happen to work in a Manhattan office building: 34,000

Sex and the City (Spoilers)

Detroit Cock City

You know, all I could think about while Adam Lambert performed with Kiss last night was this.

By the way, am I the only one who kind of chuckled when he sang "me and the boys are playing" during Beth? Indeed, Adam -- indeed.

Epic Jail

It's tough to imagine how the GOP establishment could get any more ridiculous these days, but its reaction to President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo pretty much steers the crazy ship into uncharted territory. If you believe the Republicans' line of thinking, they're taking a Horatius-like stand to prevent the criminal masterminds currently at Gitmo -- who they just know have been plotting and scheming to destroy America, even while behind bars -- from ever setting foot on U.S. soil and being able to hatch their nefarious plans. The Republicans claim that bringing terrorist suspects into the country -- into (gasp!) your neighborhood -- would put all of our lives in jeopardy. Never mind that the Supermax facility these people would likely be transferred to already holds the country's most dangerous murderers, rapists and thieves (and one previously convicted terrorist).

It's of course a fantasy of the most outlandish kind, more than likely borne from watching too many "conservative-themed movies," to imagine that the Guantanamo detainees are arch-villains who will be busted out of a heavily-armed prison convoy in spectacular fashion by Magneto and Pyro as soon as they're brought to the mainland. But that's not stopping the Republicans from cultivating this nonsense into a series of obstructionist talking points. And what's worse, it's not stopping spineless frump Harry Reid -- the almost literal definition of "my own worst enemy" -- from buying into it and needlessly capitulating to a Republican party that's disorganized, marginalized and, quite possibly, insane.

Cesca takes on the topic, and it's worth reading.

The Huffington Post: Closing Guantanamo and Ousting Harry Reid/5.20.09

Listening Post

Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate were one of the 90s' most interesting bands, a point not diminished by singer Jeremy Enigk's sudden and inexplicable conversion to Christianity halfway through the recording of their second album, or the fact that they're credited with pioneering the annoying "emo" genre.

Word has it they're talking about reuniting for a new album and tour -- but for now, here's one of the band's many side projets.

From 2003, this is the Fire Theft, with a really beautiful song called Heaven.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flame Out

So, in a shocking upset, the incredibly gay kid didn't win on American Idol.

The contrived controversy and endless media debate over whether his sexuality cost him the title begins in 3... 2... 1...

A View to a Kill

In case you haven't heard, Glenn Beck got his doughy ass handed to him this morning on The View. I'm not going to post the clip here because, in truth, I'm as annoyed by the yapping chihuahuas of The View as I am by Beck; when it comes to TV buffoonery, they're two sides of the same coin.

That said, I'd highly suggest watching the confrontation between Beck, Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters. The most revealing part of their back-and-forth --meaning that it has larger implications beyond being a couple of people uncomfortably beating up on each other -- is when Beck offers an audaciously lame-ass defense as to why he shouldn't be held accountable for making up any kind of crap he wants and calling it the truth.

Walters says, "You are an investigative reporter," to which Beck responds, "No, I'm not." "Well, you're a reporter," she continues. "No, I'm not," he shoots back. "So you check no facts at all?" "Uh, no," he recoils, "I am a commentator."

And that's really what's at the core of the horseshit coming from Beck and his Vaudevillian ilk: They have no responsibility to the facts because they don't consider themselves journalists. They're just guys talking, ya know? It's not like they took some kind of oath of honesty or promised that their silly histrionics would be rooted in events actually occurring in our reality. They're immune to the facts because they're just "commentators."

Except that they're not immune. It's unethical to lie, period -- but when you have a public forum and the audience that goes with it, it's dangerous bordering on criminal to just make the facts up as you go. In a sane world, "commenting" on stuff you've just pulled out of your ass would render your comments worthless. I'm technically a commentator; if I ever invented the news I was commenting on, it wouldn't simply be a good idea, it'd be your responsibility to ignore anything I said. Unfortunately, fans of the Becks, Limbaughs, Coulters and Hannitys of the world aren't doing that because these clowns are telling them exactly what they want to hear, confirming their worst paranoid beliefs -- their false beliefs -- and doing it precisely because its what the audience wants.

But that's not a big deal because, as Beck says, he's under no professional obligation to get the facts right.

And God knows there's no conscience or sense of personal responsibility to the truth lurking anywhere inside that oversized head of his.

Related: DXM: Revolutionary Goad/4.7.09

Hell Praisers

"Heavy metal music is the central belief of a culture that exists among us, and Slayer is the perfect spokesperson. We are a pluralistic nation composed of many cultures, some of which you're born into and some you choose. For many of us, metal becomes the only culture that makes sense to us, and it's only fair we get representation."

-- Brett Stevens of the International Day of Slayer Task Force, a group petitioning the White House to create a national holiday honoring Slayer

The requested proclamation reads as follows:

"WHEREAS, Hessians are a legitimate elective culture that should be recognized with their own national day of celebration and...

WHEREAS, Slayer is freaking awesome and one of the most influential metal bands in history and...

WHEREAS, The theme of the National Day of Slayer is 'Don't go to work, listen to Slayer,' which reflects the imminent importance of Slayer in the lives of hessians across America and...

NOW, THEREFORE I, Barack Obama, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, hereby proclaim the day of June 6, 2009, as National Day of Slayer, saluting the valuable artistic contributions of the band Slayer and the legitimacy of the hessian culture that supports them. And I call upon all Americans to listen to Slayer on this day and every day hereafter."

This is for real, by the way.

Finally, something we as a nation can all get behind.

National Day of Slayer Website

...And the Shows You Rode In On

I'm living proof that if there's one thing TV networks don't like, it's honesty.

When precious ad revenue is at stake, especially in a flatlining economy, a self-deprecating sense of humor isn't simply something that's sure to go unappreciated; it's the kind of thing that can get you shown the door by security and your name removed from a prime spot in the parking lot in a matter of minutes. You can openly roast just about everything else in television, which on the whole is an absurd industry ripe for ridicule, but don't you dare screw with a network's ability to make a profit -- because in the end, that's all that network cares about. Really -- all it cares about. Insulting the CEO's mother would be considered less offensive.

Which leaves me wondering what the hell ABC's going to do with Jimmy Kimmel this morning.

Yesterday, in a seemingly career suicidal moment of honesty for himself -- and a truly historic come-to-Jesus event for the business of network television itself -- the host of ABC's popular late-night talk show delivered a brutal and blistering comic attack on his network's new fall season. It happened during ABC's "Upfront" -- the annual live presentation of a network's fall prime-time lineup, including new shows and mid-season replacements, to the press and, more importantly, an audience full of potential advertisers and ad agencies.

Upfronts are generally pompous affairs held in places like Radio City Music Hall and featuring bombastic musical numbers, live celebrity endorsements, laser light, and a stage brimming with overly animated network assholes -- all of which is aimed at distracting the people with money to spend from the fact that your Wednesday night is anchored by a relaunch of BJ and the Bear, starring Ashton Kutcher (finally putting his trucker hat fetish to good use). But like everything else these days, through a combination of internet-led media transparency and the general cynicism of the masses, who've finally come to understand that they're being bullshitted nearly 24/7, the roll-outs for the new TV season are being met with a certain amount of reservation, rather than the wide-eyed awe of years past. In other words: advertisers, like the rest of us, now know how the television business works; they know the truth; they know that the Upfronts are a lot of dazzle, but that the reality in a couple of months -- canceled shows, rearranged schedules, flops that should've been hits -- will likely be much uglier.

Still, famous faces are expected to get on board for these things and behave as if the awful truth doesn't exist. They're expected to bury their self-respect and enthusiastically pimp for the network. For actors, who pretend to be someone else for a living anyway, this may not be much of a problem. For Kimmel, though, it was apparently impossible.

From writer Dave Itzkoff, in yesterday's New York Times online:

Bouncing onto the stage at just after 4 p.m., Mr. Kimmel self-deprecatingly declared, “All of ABC’s late night comedy talent is assembled here on one stage.” After rattling off a few statistics about the affluence of his viewers, he then admitted that he’d made all the numbers up. (He said so in a more obscene way.)

Then, in a “Jerry Maguire”-like moment of clarity, Mr. Kimmel said, “Everything you’re going to hear this week is” nonsense. “Let’s get real here. Let’s get Dr. Phil-real here. These new fall shows? We’re going to cancel about 90 percent of them. Maybe more.”

If ABC is so confident in its new fall shows, he asked, why is it announcing them at the same time it announces the midseason shows that will replace those fall shows? “This show ‘Shark Tank’ has the word tank right in the title,” he said.

To the ABC advertisers, Mr. Kimmel said, “Every year we lie to you and every year you come back for more. You don’t need an upfront. You need therapy. We completely lie to you, and then you pass those lies onto your clients.”

Mr. Kimmel then took a verbal swing at his own network, reminding the audience that ABC had attempted to hire away Mr. Leno when his tenure ended at NBC’s “Tonight Show.” But, according Mr. Kimmel, NBC said it would not give up Mr. Leno, “even if we have to destroy our own network to keep him.”

By devoting its entire 10 p.m. lineup, Monday through Friday, to Mr. Leno, Mr. Kimmel said NBC is “giving Jay’s viewers exactly what they want. An early-bird special.”

By deciding on their fall schedule in April, Mr. Kimmel said, “NBC got such a head start, they’ve already had time to cancel half their schedule.”

Mr. Kimmel also aimed a couple of zingers at Fox. That network’s action series “24,” he said, was “a head butt away from cancellation.” Next season, he said, Jack Bauer would have a new sidekick “played by Kiefer Sutherland’s probation officer.”

Returning to ABC’s advertisers, Mr. Kimmel said, “Next year on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ your product could kill Dr. Izzie. It just depends on how much you want to pay.”

In closing, Mr. Kimmel said, “I think all our shows are going to work this year. I really do.” He paused. “I don’t, really.”

Before departing the stage, he said: “The important thing to remember is: who cares, it’s not your money.”

Now make no mistake: I have no idea how the network's going to address Jimmy Kimmel's comments, but he won't lose his job over this; firing him would be a tacit confirmation by ABC of every single point he cleverly made. In fact, it's a thing of beauty that Kimmel went into that meeting yesterday knowing full-well that the network likely wouldn't touch him and that, ironically, that too was confirmation of what he was saying: He makes money for the network, and short of walking into Bob Iger's office and hitting him repeatedly with a baseball bat, there was no way ABC would pull the plug on him.

The fact is that Jimmy Kimmel understands something that network executives are still refusing to grasp -- or are simply fighting tooth and nail against. He gets that in our new hyper-connected culture, it's beyond the realm of possibility to lie outright to an audience -- and therefore it's fucking stupid to even try. Kimmel's a comedian, and someone who comes from a talk radio background -- an industry to which those who tend to be masochistically honest are drawn and usually thrive. As such, he did what all decent comedians do: confront the harsh reality of our times through a wink and a smile; help us laugh at the absurdity so we don't cry about it.

What Jimmy Kimmel said yesterday, his pulling back of the facade of television's dying "magic box" ethos to reveal the soulless profit-machine now at its core -- it needed to be said.

And it's a damn good thing he's in a position to not only say it but get away with it.

Listening Post

If you believe certain people within the Musical Industrial Complex, these guys are the next big thing.

Here's Wild Light, with California on My Mind.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Horse Deliverer

Jesus, I'd be concerned too. The woman's about to push two ponies out of her vagina.

The Huffington Post: Sarah Jessica Parker Concerned for the Safety of Her Twins' Surrogate Mother/5.19.09

Quote of the Week (Early Contender)

"The president is personally popular. Pity the fool who paid for a poll to figure that out... This change, my friends, is being delivered in a teabag, and that's a wonderful thing."

-- Pretend leader of the Republican Party and human punchline Michael Steele

Music (for a Film)

If anyone's qualified to create a list like this, it's Cameron Crowe.

Unfortunately, he's too humble to include all those moments from his own movies. My God -- In Your Eyes in Say Anything, Crown of Thorns in Singles, Tiny Dancer in Almost Famous, Everything in Its Right Place and Sweetness Follows in Vanilla Sky, it goes on and on.

Empire: "Cameron Crowe's Top 10 (or So) Music Moments in Film/5.18.09

Tuesday is Recycling Day

I'm still keeping quite a bit to myself these days.

I figure the best way to combat the overall sense of sadness and emptiness for what's recently been lost in my life -- torn away from me, really -- is to keep things here as upbeat as possible. Gallows humor has always worked for me in the past, and besides, no one wants to have to witness an uncomfortable daily drone of maudlin soul-searching and the public begging of questions that simply have no answers.

But just because I'm not expressing the hurt doesn't mean I'm not feeling it. So, maybe as a way to pay homage to the reality of what's going on in my life right now -- the uncertainty and heartbreak, the fear of what's still to come, particularly concerning my daughter (which I actually will delve further into at some point, just because I know I'll have to in order to keep myself from going crazy) -- I'm resurrecting two related pieces this morning. They were written within days of each other back in late 2007, when Jayne and I were on the verge of breaking up the first time around. Looking back on these columns, I'm glad I wrote them, since they expressed how I felt at the time. But I have to issue a minor disclaimer before rerunning them: In retrospect, I allowed myself to take too much of the blame for what had gone wrong in my and my wife's relationship. I'm generally very hard on myself and tend to dramatically self-flagellate, mostly because I'm hyper-aware of my own faults and insecurities. Still, it often takes two people to doom a marriage, and while many of the personal qualities I willingly assign to myself in these pieces were legitimate, particularly the harsh assessment of the first column, I was at a disadvantage when I wrote them. I wasn't aware of all the facts on Jayne's end. I took the full blame for our problems because I believed what my wife was telling me at the time and never bothered to trust my own feelings -- feelings which told me that there was slightly more going on than met the eye.

Once again, though, I'm glad I said what I did. I feel like so much has changed in my life and in my behavior and personality over the past few years -- changes made for the better. But I needed to confront a lot of bad habits and face some hard truths before I could move forward.

Being honest with myself allowed me to do that -- I hope.

"Life's What You've Made It" (Originally Published, 10.2.07)

A Side: The Psychedelic Furs -- Love My Way

B Side: The Plimsouls -- Oldest Story in the World

A couple of years back, my wife Jayne read a novel called The Frog King.

In case you've never heard of it, the book is author Adam Davies's seemingly semi-fictional account of a young would-be writer and menial-media-job holder's attempts to both eke out a living in New York City and forge an at least respectable relationship with the woman he's in love with but to whom he refuses to admit as much.

These efforts unfortunately are hampered by the fact that the character in question is an asshole: he's severely damaged, typically selfish, willfully misanthropic, he hates his job and he drinks too much -- qualities which are, contrary to his own delusional beliefs, not, in fact, invalidated by the excessive amount of intelligence and charm he wields.

Obviously, Jayne "suggested" I read this book about two seconds after turning the final page.

I finally got around to it last week. Suffice to say, I wish I'd read it earlier instead of making the requisite excuses involving a backlog of reading material on my nightstand and/or some sort of general malaise; as my grandfather used to say, I mighta learned somethin'.

There are of course several big differences between the nominal protagonist of The Frog King and myself: For one, he works at a publishing house, whereas I work in television news. Also, his name is Harry.

It's a disconcerting feeling on par with having those naked pictures turn up on the internet to know that a complete stranger has written a book which nails your entire existence in such an impeccably precise manner. The similarities are indeed uncanny: Harry fancies himself a writer but -- mostly out of fear -- never gives it the full push that might get him noticed; the love of his life meanwhile is a bright, beautiful, funny, supportive, upwardly-mobile and preternaturally tolerant young woman, who also happens to suffer from an acute and extraordinarily painful case of endometriosis.

Despite a big heart and genuinely good intentions, Harry is constantly making all the wrong moves and all the wrong decisions. Even the densest of readers can understand that he needs to grow the hell up, stop taking his soulmate's seemingly bottomless reservoir of love and forgiveness for granted and begin putting his talent to good use instead of using it to ridicule everyone he believes to be beneath him.

For awhile, there's something almost noble about Harry's willingness to assume the role of the loveable but difficult eccentric; as the story progresses though, he becomes intolerable, insufferable, and by the time it's all over -- in more ways than one -- he comes to the sad realization that everyone else came to long ago: he's the one thing he's always despised -- a stupid, worn-out cliche.

Harry believes himself to be in the right in his relationship because he's always there during the bad times -- to hold Evie, his love, during her excruciating endo attacks; to ride in like Gallahad and save the day when there's a crisis. He knows nothing if not the art of the passionate statement or sweeping gesture.

His favorite chant of exquisite praise: "Viva la Evie."

Harry never asks himself if such histrionics are enough to sustain a truly adult relationship, and it's this nescience which leads to his inevitable fall from the grace of Evie's favor.

The Frog King is subtitled "A Love Story." It is, but it's an absolutely heartbreaking one.

A Side: U2 -- A Sort of Homecoming

B Side: The Smiths -- These Things Take Time

Last weekend, I went to my 20 year high school reunion.

The experience was as surreal and mildly unnerving as you might expect; simply coming to terms with the fact that it's been two decades since my high school graduation required an extra hit off the Wellbutrin pipe. Seeing my teenage classmates in their late 30s seemed just fucking preposterous on paper, even before my arrival at the Palms Hotel on Miami Beach; actually taking it all in for three hours last Friday night was far beyond my powers of worthwhile description.

On the whole, the Pace High Class of 1987 aged surprisingly well: A receding hairline here, an extra couple of pounds there, but otherwise my old friends didn't look all that different from how I remembered them from back in the days when we camped out on a sidewalk for Pink Floyd tickets and likely played a substantial role in driving at least one teacher to drink himself to death. The women especially looked not only exceptional but by and large better than they did as kids; the girls who were once cheerleaders or simply the mental kindling for many a teenage boy's bathroom masturbation ritual retaining their allure in ways which seemed slightly supernatural.

But really, when push came to shove, there was only one woman I was interested in seeing; the girl I chased for three long, psychically catastrophic years; the girl who changed everything about the way I would deal with women for years to come; the girl I hadn't laid eyes on in two decades.


To say that I had a crush on Suzy during high school would be like saying that the Khmer Rouge came up with an effective solution to Cambodia's population problem. I was utterly smitten with her. She occupied center stage in my mind and heart from the moment we first ran into each other outside of school, at the Immaculate Conception carnival sophomore year. I dreamt of her. I burned for her. I was her willing but ultimately frustrated lapdog for most of our high school career. I would've sold my soul for that girl.

So, you can imagine what it would be like seeing her after all this time.

It's probably right about now, by the way, that I should mention that Suzy -- despite professing a love for boys during high school -- eventually turned out to be gay. (Don't ever let it be said that I don't know how to pick 'em.)

It goes without saying that this little infatuation set the stage for the seemingly endless cavalcade of absurdly Quixotic endeavors to come throughout my lifetime.

I noticed Suzy the moment she entered the bar area where our informal re-meet-and-greet cocktail party was being held. I happened to be across the room at the time and worked my way over to where she was standing, pushing through the heavy crowd until it birthed me directly in front of her. Her eyes widened. Somewhere an ancient electrical switch covered in cobwebs was thrown. We smiled and pulled each other into a warm hug. It was, admittedly, wonderful to see her.

A little while later, we found ourselves camped out on a couch in the hotel's lobby -- with its tempered lighting and cool music -- talking about the ghosts of high school past. We reminisced not about specific events but about overall feelings and emotions.

She told me that I was the only man she ever truly loved.

I told her that I regret having been at her disposal for three long years in a misguided crusade to win her affections.

And that's when something dawned on me: At face value, she and I had vastly different views of what happened between us all those years ago; my memories involved heartache and suffering; hers involved good times spent with someone she considered her best friend. It was a reminder, however trite this may sound, that two people can look at the exact same relationship in completely different ways.

It took only a moment though for me to realize -- and maybe this is simply the benefit of years of emotional padding -- that her view was, if not completely without fault, at least a "better" one than mine. She remembered something that I'd stupidly allowed myself to forget -- that we were as close as any two people can be at that age. We loved each other dearly, regardless of the secret agendas and occasionally underhanded machinations that may have come into play during our time together.

I loved that girl, and I understood her -- and what's more, the feeling and understanding was undeniably mutual.

It was a couple of hours later that Suzy suggested a handful of people continue the party at the high-rise apartment she shares with her partner.

I was looking for an excuse to relive my Miami Vice days anyway, so I piled two friends in the Audi A4 convertible I'd rented and sped along the beach back to Suzy's place -- and it was a gorgeous place indeed, the kind about which a New Yorker like myself can only dream: two bedrooms, a big kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, an incredible view of the beach, and a rent that's about three hundred less than what Jayne and I pay for our Manhattan Matchbox.

We each had another drink before my Chased Amy once again sat down on the couch with me -- this time though, the topic of conversation was life after graduation.

It was as revelatory as it was utterly tragic.

I told her about my recent personal troubles and my sad history of broken relationships.

She told me about her self-destructive tendencies and inability to believe that love can fully heal her.

I spoke softly as I voiced my wish that my wife could be with me at that moment.

She pulled down the waistband of her pants and showed me a tattoo of a zero with a line through it. Literally, nil -- nothing.

"How did we get this way?" I finally asked. "What happened to us?" There wasn't a hint of humor in my voice; I was all-but-begging her for the answer I'd been looking for for years.

A resigned and bittersweet "I don't know" was all she could muster.

A Side: Depeche Mode -- Everything Counts

B Side: Howard Jones -- What is Love?

At the end of The Frog King, Harry loses Evie.

He screws up badly. She leaves him for a recently established author whose career she helped launch. She gets a big promotion and enters a new stratum, a place to which she's convinced he simply cannot follow her. Despite a heartfelt attempt at redeeming himself -- he writes the basic outline of a manuscript which centers around her and their relationship, then shows it to her -- she tells him that she just can't do it anymore; she reached her "saturation point" and has moved on.

In one final grand gesture, Harry dresses up in a frog costume (one of Evie's friends refers to him as the eponymous "Frog King" earlier in the story) and crashes a New Year's Eve costume party to confront the love of his life and plead his case.

When finally face-to-face, he reminds her of all the wonderful moments they shared; all the times he took care of her; all the times she took care of him; all the love they gave each other.

Except that Evie doesn't remember it that way.

Evie's memories are laden with pain, difficulty, uncertainty; all the times Harry wasn't willing to commit; all the times Harry hurt her.

To her -- there's nothing worth trying to get back.

Two people, seeing the exact same relationship in completely different ways.

Before walking out of his life forever, Evie insinuates to Harry that the true test of a partnership has less to do with being willing to swoop in when things are critical than it does with being strong and steadfast when things are thoroughly mundane.

It's security she craves -- something she believes he can't provide.

On the final page of the book though, Harry takes a deep breath and the first step in the journey toward becoming the person he needs to be -- the person he's always wanted to be, even if he was never willing to admit it to himself.

Viva la Evie isn't a life plan.

Neither is Viva la Jayne.

"Things You People Wouldn't Believe" (Originally Published, 10.15.07)

More Life

When I was 12 years old I enlisted, of all people, my grandmother to drive me to a theater in Miami and sit with me while I excitedly took in a movie which would eventually be considered a masterpiece: Blade Runner.

The irony of course is that, as with films such as 2001, Psycho and Citizen Kane, Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi landmark was at first met by reviews that could at best be described as lukewarm. Most critics admired its abundance of style, but panned the movie overall, claiming that it was slow, pretentious and downright silly. It would be years before Blade Runner's cyberpunk aesthetic and astonishingly prescient themes of globalization and genetic engineering -- as well as its masterful production design by Syd Mead and Laurence Paull -- were heralded as brilliant and groundbreaking.

When I was 12 however, I paid little attention to the opinions of critics; I allowed Blade Runner to wash over me, giving myself to its world completely and, as such, leaving the theater believing that I'd just seen something bordering on genius.

10 years after its brief theatrical run, Ridley Scott released a special "Director's Cut" DVD, which removed both the blasphemic narration track -- designed to aid the more obtuse within the audience and essentially provide clarity to a storyline which was never intended to be completely concrete -- and the studio-approved "happy ending," while adding a dream sequence, the aim of which was to suggest that Harrison Ford's character, Rick Deckard, may himself be a "Replicant."

I own that DVD and have watched it more than a few times, even asking my wife to sit through it recently -- as it's the kind of film that she, despite her excellent taste, might have otherwise overlooked. Her thoughts after viewing it echoed mine -- that even with 25 years of advances in special effects and camera-work, the movie has a beauty and power that defies antiquation -- that it's as good now as it likely was at the time of its release.

Except that it's not.

It's actually better.

I now know this because last week, on a cold and rainy day here in New York City, I grabbed a cab to the legendary Ziegfeld theater in Midtown and relived a part of my childhood by seeing a new cut -- the supposed "Final Cut" -- of Blade Runner on the big screen.

The new edition adds little in the way of unseen footage -- although a scene in which Replicant leader Roy Batty kills his maker, Dr. Tyrell, is considerably more gruesome -- but the cleaned-up and remastered print is pristine, allowing the audience to enter into the world that Scott created like never before. The already lush production now seems exquisite and flawless; the effects as gorgeous today as they were all those years ago; the soundtrack by Vangelis, moving in a way that's nothing short of otherworldly.

Once again, I fell completely under the film's spell.

This time though, it was the story that affected me most. Given the recent difficulties in my personal life, the concept of one man desperately craving more time, and another who may eventually be forced to face the reality of his very nature rang especially true for me. There's been considerable debate throughout the years as to whether or not Deckard is, in fact, the very enemy he's chasing. He is. The new version, with its crystal-clear print, allows the audience to see unequivocally his eyes glowing orange for a brief second. This revelation lends an extra sense of satisfaction to Tyrell's already smug smirk when he meets Deckard, supposedly for the first time, earlier in the film.

Deckard has no idea who and what he really is, therefore he has no idea that his time may be running out -- as Replicants weren't built to last.

His nemesis meanwhile, Batty, is well aware of what he is; he's tortured by it. He knows that his life will soon be over and he can't come to terms with it. No amount of prosaicism will convince him that his end is something to embrace or even to celebrate. Tyrell attempts to console him with platitudes: "The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long," he says -- as if this will provide comfort to a dying man.

The film ends in an unexpected way, with a startlingly quiet moment between Deckard and Batty. It's during this scene that Batty -- resigned to his fate -- delivers a sad monologue recalling all that he's seen in his all-too-short lifetime.

"All those moments will be lost in time -- like tears in rain," he says.

A man longing for more time -- for life; for love; for redemption -- speaking to a man who's unaware of his true identity, and unaware that he may one day face the same fate.

It's the definition of tragedy.

Aren't You the "Good" Man?

In the days following my 20-year high school reunion, held a few weeks ago, my old friend Suzy and I continued to reconnect. Once again, I was reminded just how well she understands me, even now, after all this time. It's somewhat startling to realize that although experience, success, loss and time in general may change a person, somewhere buried under all those layers of life is still the foundation -- that earliest and most lasting incarnation. Know someone during those formative years and you'll know him or her for life.

My old friend read through the virtual pages of this site -- my little experiment -- and listened to me talk about the painful difficulties now facing me in my personal life; she paid close attention and responded not only with love and kindness, but with surprisingly intuitive advice and several pertinent questions for me to answer, not for her but for myself.

"What's your identity? Who are you?" she asked during one phone conversation. "Do you even know?"

"What do you mean?"

"I read the blog. I see what you've created there -- the image you've created -- but is that how you really see yourself?"

I said nothing, unsure how to respond. She continued.

"I mean, do you consider yourself an ex-heroin addict, an asshole smart-ass, damaged beyond repair, someone who's defined by his past? Because that's what it sounds like."

"I guess I'm not really sure."

"You don't deserve to torture yourself like this. You've made some mistakes -- taken your knocks -- and you've definitely paid for all of it. You've done your time -- let it go."

She was -- she is -- absolutely right.

So who am I really?

I'm not what everyone thinks, nor what anyone would suspect. I can occasionally offend, but my intentions are never to do outright harm. I'm secretly an idealist and believe that good can overcome evil, we just need to try harder. I love with everything inside of me, and sometimes that's to my own demise. I've lied on more than one occasion throughout my lifetime, mostly to keep the peace, but I realize that that's not a valid excuse and am both genuinely sorry for my actions and am working hard to change the behavior which led to them. I've endured life experiences which would seem a dream to some and a nightmare to others -- regardless, they've made me who I am today, and that's not so bad. I can find more beauty and passion stepping outside my front door than some find in their entire lives; this has made the world wondrous to me, but also caused me excruciating grief. I admit that I've spent a good portion of my life looking for something "more," and am only now learning the pure joy of quiet contentment. I'm tired of upheaval. I believe in family. I love my mother and father and understand that without them, I likely would've been dead a long time ago. I'm not aloof as much as I am shy -- a situation that's led me to be, as trite as this sounds, sorely misunderstood. I believe that love can last, despite so much proof to the contrary. I believe that, yes, there's something bigger out there -- although I also believe that no religion is even close to understanding it. I simply believe -- and will fight for those beliefs. I'm often an exposed nerve. I'm grateful to those who care about me and my well-being. I accept that I haven't always done the right thing, but likewise I've paid enough penance for my sins to where I can finally forgive myself. I forgive others far more easily. I'm not perfect and never will be, which gives me something in common with every other human being on the planet. I can find humor in just about anything. I'm occasionally high-strung and have a quick temper, a situation I'm working harder on than I ever have before to rectify. I know my faults better than most. I'm not always easy to live with, but I hope that the immense benefits are worth the risks. I'm learning to finally let go.

I've been wrong all this time: I don't, in fact, want to be normal.

I am normal.

An Itch You Can't Scratch

The morning after I went to see Blade Runner, I did my own kind of running.

I pulled on sweatpants and a long-sleeved shirt to protect me from the cold and headed out to run around the reservoir in Central Park. The city was beautiful -- with heavy, low clouds severing the tops of the buildings and absorbing the usual cacophony, and a chilly mist being whipped along the jogging path by a light wind. I pushed myself hard. I listened to the hypnotic slap of my feet into the soft mud and allowed the thoughts I'd tried to contain for so long to break free and swirl around my consciousness. I let the memories of my time with Jayne come.

After awhile, the path ahead of me began to blur. The cold sting of water on my cheeks became warm. I realized that I was crying.

I cried for a candle that burned twice as bright, and not nearly as long.

I cried for all those moments that will be lost in time.

Like tears in rain.