Monday, November 29, 2004
Let me just say I am a huge fan of epic, saga-like historical and quasi-historical stories. Gandhi. The Ten Commandments. Spartacus. Ben-Hur. The Lord of the Rings, preferably in the extended editions. It doesn't have to be films, either. I've sat through three complete cycles of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, and once saw Parsifal twice in the same week. If that's not kooky enough, I saw The Two Towers seven times in the theater.
I also can enjoy seriously bad movies, for example, anything with Jean-Claude van Damme (at least before he started directing his own movies), or anything where an iguana shot in close-up appears to be threatening a city made from railroad model kits.
Rarely in my life have I ever been as bored as I was during Alexander. It has all of the elements I love: exotic locations, elaborate sets and costumes, cast of thousands. It has the added benefit of being true (sort of). Then of course there's that whole gay thing.
What this movie lacked, above all else, was a script. Yes, I heard people talking, but I don't remember anything they said. It wasn't overblown, stilted "look at me being historical" dialogue (think Charlton Heston). It certainly wasn't razor-sharp wit. It wasn't even dry academic fact regurgitation. It was just the barest force necessary to move this lumbering elephant of a movie along to its whimpering end. How Angelina Jolie managed to wrest her pathologically committed performance out of the infertile dust of this screenplay is a mystery on the scale of Genesis.
Oh, how I have longed for a gay hero on the silverscreen. A macho, muscular, attractive, virile, sword-wielding genius of a military strategist with a boyfriend. As the old proverb goes, "Be careful what you wish for." Colin Farrell and Jared Leto -- both exceptionally attractive people -- have absolutely zero chemistry together. The scene where a weepy Hephaistion brings Alexander a ring on his wedding night, which he slips onto the ring finger, no less, could have been either deeply touching or scandalously bold (ideally both). Instead it became ludicrous when Mrs. The Great, aka Roxane, catches them and stutters out, "You....luff...heem?" It's not clear whether she's tormented more by the realization that she's a big-boobed political pawn of a breeding trophy-wife (aka, beard; see McGreevey, Mrs.) or whether she's just having difficulty conversing in this obscure Gaelic dialect of Macedonian.
Alex and Heph have a couple of nice buddy hugs, but the only kiss is shared between Alex and his Babylonian eunuch, Mona Lisa, who seems to have been instructed by Stone not to act at all, so that he didn't overshadow Leto. No, the gayest performance in the movie comes from Angelina Jolie, for whom they should create a special Oscar category: Best Performance by a Drag Queen in a Supporting Role.
My friends warned me that I'd be disappointed, but I assumed it was because they underestimated my fetish for long, terrible movies. Alas, from the technicolor alternate-reality sequence of the doomed battle in India (if there's one thing we learned from South Pacific, it's that magenta filters are a bad idea) to Ptolemy's last-minute "scratch that" whitewash of Alexander's demise this movie is a disaster. On an epic scale.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The film in general:
- Now that ''Alexander" is finally here, the best there is to say is that it's better than ''Troy."
- Certainly it's brought out the worst in terms of the puerile writing, confused plotting, shockingly off-note performances and storytelling that lacks either of the two necessary ingredients for films of this type, pop or gravitas.
The New York Times
- "Alexander" may not be a historical document, but at least some moviegoers are sure to have a gay old time.
Colin Farrell's hair:
- The new Oliver Stone movie, ''Alexander," is full of brilliant highlights, and they're all in Colin Farrell's hair.
- Presiding above all is Colin Farrell's tousled bleach job, his gypsy-moth eyebrows and dark brooding roots suggesting less the eponymous myth figure in his battlefield prime than a Vanity Fair hairdresser ablaze with purpose during a high-pressure Kirsten Dunst cover shoot.
The Village Voice
- As the movie goes on, his bleach-blond bowl cut grows out to something resembling a mullet, and by the end he's sporting the flowing locks of Fabio.
- The more people Alexander kills, the longer and fluffier Farrell's wigs get.
San Francisco Chronicle
Was Alexander bisexual???
- Having seen the film, I can categorically state that Stone does not in any way suggest Alexander was bisexual. He suggests Alexander was absolutely, fabulously gay.
- Predominant among a few laugh getters is Hephaistion's silent, bedroom-eyes beseechment for nookie augmented by a slight toss of Anistonian hair, only to be told by his top, "Not on the eve of a battle." Once Babylon is taken from the Persians (yes, Stone goes for a replay of Intolerance's vertical pan, although naturally nothing we see is real), the two diehards lounge around in silk robes with chaliced cocktails like a married couple at the Pines.
The Village Voice
- The proclamations of love and the most intense and passionate hugs are between Colin Farrell's Alexander and his best friend Hephaistion, played by the long-haired, dewey-eyed Jared Leto, who's photographed as if he's appearing in Elton John's wildest dreams. As narrator Anthony Hopkins says, "It was said that Alexander was never defeated, except by Hephaistion's thighs." He's talking about their boyhood wrestling matches, but then again, he isn't.
- Sporting a dreadful blond pageboy and a micro-mini toga while exchanging come-hither looks with his mascara-loving childhood pal, Hephaistion (Jared Leto), Colin Farrell looks more like Alexander the Fabulous than Alexander the Great.
New York Post
- The fiery Jolie is terrific.
- Angelina Jolie, as A's sorceress-mother Olympias, white pythons entwined around her legs, seems destined for a Maria Montez Lifetime Achievement in Vamp Award.
The Village Voice
- With snakes literally slithering around her shoulders, body makeup not quite concealing an arm tattoo and what sounds like a bad Transylvanian accent, Jolie is hardly striving for historical accuracy. Actually I don't know what she's striving for, but it's hugely entertaining.
- As the young marauder kills and enslaves peoples from Egypt to India, Mr. Stone repeatedly returns us to Olympias, snakes coiling around her body and chastising her absent son in a bewildering accent, part Yiddishe Mama, part Natasha of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame: "You don't write, you don't call, why don't you settle down with a nice Macedonian girl?" or words to that effect. Rarely since Joan Crawford rampaged through the B-movie sunset of her career has a female performer achieved such camp distinction.
The New York Times
- And where Kilmer is a drunken riot, Jolie is plenty dangerous. Her Greco-Gabor accent alone could kill.
- An accent that seems to have been borrowed from George Hamilton in "Love at First Bite."
- She does attempt a foreign accent, but unfortunately picked the one we recognize from old movies as Transylvanian. She could be the mother of Count Dracula, but not of a fine Irish lad from Macedonia.
New York Daily News
- All the while, Jolie is hissing with her snakes and telling "Alexaaaaaaannnnndrrrrrrreeeeh" that he is destined for legendary things. It's one of the great so-awful-it's-wonderful performances in recent film history.
- I don't care how nuts she is, Jolie is the real deal: a gorgeous, epic-scaled actress who can transform herself from the inside out. She could eat Colin Farrell for breakfast and pick her teeth with Jared Leto. Forget Alexander: The film is a pedestal to Angelina the great.
- To Mr. Stone's credit he doesn't shy away from the character's omnisexual appetites even if he doesn't allow Mr. Leto to cut loose like Rosario Dawson, who plays Alexander's wildcat wife, Roxane. Then again, in light of Alexander and Roxane's comical boudoir brawling and growling there's something to be said for directorial restraint.
The New York Times
- And if you can't work up some honest, loving passion for a nude and revved-up Rosario Dawson, you're either gay or dead.
- Presumably, the idea is, if Alexander must have a boyfriend, at least give him one as pretty as Diane Lane.
San Francisco Chronicle
- When Alexander, having conquered the Persians, decides to take the peasant girl Roxane (Rosario Dawson) as his wife, a puddle-eyed Leto appears with his mascara running like Dorothy Malone's to present his own engagement ring.
The Village Voice
- Didn't it occur to anyone, perhaps during rushes, that Jared Leto might be a more photogenic and reliable choice in the title role? Seeing them together time and again kind of rubs in the misconception. Mr. Leto is better-looking, possesses a more expressive voice and confronts the camera with striking blue eyes. He doesn't steal scenes the way Angelina Jolie steals scenes, but he might provide the luxury of a heroic profile matched to a sensitive acting instrument.
- Alexander's great love was said to be Hephaistion, who is played in the film by Jared Leto, but unless you know Jared Leto by face, even late in the movie you'll have no idea which one he was. I thought he was this other guy, equally handsome, equally vapid, equally unmemorable, whom Alexander prongs with a spear in a drunken rage late in the movie. But that was some other guy.
- "Alexander" is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). The film features a lot of graphic warfare with impaled flesh, severed limbs and disturbing images of animal cruelty. Ms. Dawson also takes her top off, which may disturb some viewers in a rather different fashion.
The New York Times
Monday, November 22, 2004
I would like to recommend this NY Times article, In Falluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War. Be forewarned, it is graphic and very upsetting in its description of combat.
May God above keep them safe and bring them quickly home to their families. For those who are not destined to return, may He grant them swift passing into His loving, eternal embrace.
Anyway, forget that.
Rudy Giuliani? As the GOP choice to replace Dubya? Here's one good reason why that will never happen:
Yes, that's right folks. That is Mr. Rudy Giuliani appearing in public in drag. Am I supposed to seriously accept that all these "moral values" voters are going to stump for a man who has appeared -- more than once -- in public in a dress? A man who is on record as saying, "I’m pro-choice. I’m pro-gay rights."
He's also Catholic. Could we expect the same Catholic bishops who urged withholding communion from John Kerry on the same grounds to likewise publicly and loudly come out against Giuliani?
He was divorced in 2002. His ex-wife's lawyer went before the press and said, "If there's going to be a divorce, let's have the truth about why — Rudy's open and notorious adultery."
Now, before people accuse me of smearing Giuliani's character and trying to sabotage his presidential bid, let me just say this: I would totally vote for a cross-dressing, pro-choice, divorced Catholic who supports gay rights.
I officially endorse Rudolph Giuliani for Republican candidate for president in 2008. Maybe he could use this photo in his campaign ads:
Friday, November 19, 2004
Yeah, that's been keeping me awake for weeks, now.
So I returned to one of yesterday's links and printed out the article "Inside the Mind of the Gay Sheep." No, really. On my next trip I'm gonna slip it under one of the stall doors.
In a barely related tangent, the research for this article came from Oregon Health Sciences University. Yay, Portland!
Thursday, November 18, 2004
"Bulgarian farmer Galen Dobrev is claiming substantial damages from the breeder who sold him a prize-winning pedigree pig after the porker turned out to be a little more pink than the average Babe, Ananova reports. An outraged Dobrev told the court where he is sueing the breeder: "It's a disgrace, all he was interested in was other male pigs."
The page also contains links to the following articles:
Aussie boffins probe lesbian cows
Inside the mind of the gay sheep
Sheep pine for absent friends: official
Sheep like happy, smiley people: official
"It's like experimenting with drugs," [Delana] Davies said. "You just keep playing with it and it becomes customary. ... If it's OK to dress like a girl today, then why is it not OK in the future?"
It has been replaced with "Camo Day" -- yup, the kids will dress in camouflage, I guess pretending to be soldiers, hunters or white trash at Wal-Mart on laundry day. Details here.
Latest reporting indicates that 96 Americans have been killed since November 1. Globalsecurity.org is now estimating that the November figure could reach 150.
In other news, I'm going to provide you with the first few paragraphs from a CNN story today. I'm blanking out the name of the country in question for effect. Does any of this seem vaguely familiar? (Emphasis mine in text below.)
Powell: Intelligence suggests XXXX trying to adapt missiles for nukes
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- The United States has intelligence indicating XXXX is trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
Powell partially confirmed claims by an XXXXian opposition group that XXXXXX is deceiving the United Nations and is attempting to secretly continue activities meant to give it atomic arms by next year.
"I have seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying," Powell told reporters Wednesday as he traveled to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. "And it should be of concern to all parties."
Pressed by reporters on the intelligence reports, Powell said the intelligence indicates that XXXX "had been actively working on delivery systems" capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.
Powell said there is no evidence to suggest that XXXX has developed the technology to make a nuclear weapon, but suggested that the regime is working to adapt missiles for nuclear warheads.
"I'm talking about information that says that they not only had these missiles, but I'm aware of information that suggests they were working hard as to how to put the two together," Powell said.
REPUBLICANISM SHOWN TO BE GENETIC IN ORIGIN
The discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined was announced by scientists in the current issue of the journal NURTURE, causing uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle.
Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, has sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.
Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans' unnatural disregard for the poor and frequently unconstitutional tendencies resulted from dysfunctional family dynamics -- a remarkably high percentage of Republicans do have authoritarian domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn't teach them how to be kind and gentle.
Biologists have long suspected that conservatism is inherited. "After all," said one author of the NURTURE article, "It's quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister who is a Republican."
The finding has been greeted with relief by Parents and Friends of Republicans (PFREP), who sometimes blame themselves for the political views of otherwise lovable children, family, and unindicted co-conspirators.
One mother, a longtime Democrat, wept and clapped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of the findings. "I just knew it was genetic," she said, seated with her two sons, both avowed Republicans. "My boys would never freely choose that lifestyle!" When asked what the Republican lifestyle was, she said, "You can just tell watching their conventions on TV: the flaming xenophobia, flamboyant demagogy, disdain for anyone not rich, you know." Both sons had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but did not confirm it until they were in college, when they became convinced it wasn't just a phase they were going through.
The NURTURE article offered no response to the suggestion that the high incidence of Republicanism among siblings could result from their sharing not only genes but also psychological and emotional attitude as products of the same parents and family dynamics. A remaining mystery is why many Democrats admit to having voted Republican at least once -- or often dream or fantasize about doing so. Polls show that three out of five adult Democrats have had a Republican experience, although most outgrow teenage experimentation with Republicanism.
Some Republicans hail the findings as a step toward eliminating conservophobia. They argue that since Republicans didn't "choose" their lifestyle any more than someone "chooses" to have a ski-jump nose, they shouldn't be denied civil rights which other minorities enjoy. If conservatism is not the result of stinginess or orneriness (typical stereotypes attributed to Republicans) but is something Republicans can't help, there's no reason why society shouldn't tolerate Republicans in the military or even high elected office -- provided they don't flaunt their political beliefs.
For many Americans, the discovery opens a window on a different future. In a few years, gene therapy might eradicate Republicanism altogether. But, in the meantime, why should they be allowed to marry?
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I miss the private bathrooms at the non-profit place.
The sounds and smells of having to share a bathroom...dear lord. Don't these men understand the concept of "courtesy flush"?
And while I appreciate the kind gesture of leaving reading materials behind for the next user, would it be at all possible to get something other than the sports or business pages? What I wouldn't give for National Geographic.
The privacy is really the issue, though. It doesn't matter that you've got a little stall. The fashion conscious among us know who wears which shoes. Acoustically, this place would be great for an a capella concert by a vibrato-less pre-teen soprano...everything is amplified and comes with automatic reverb. Let's face it, sometimes in the morning, after your coffee, your body makes unusual noises. They could at least pipe some muzak in there to cover it up.
It's not just me that feels this way. Frequently I encounter a game of "toilet chicken"; that is, two guys stuck next to each other in the stalls, both clenched in the hope that the other will just get on with it and get out and leave them alone for a moment.
Then there's the Hummer. Someone here sits on the pot and just hums. It's not any particular tune. It's just, "hmmm-mmmm, mmmm-mmmmm-mmm, hmm-hmm-hmm, mmmm."
And that's all I want to say about that.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
This is the poster for the upcoming Episode III of Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith. Fark hosted a photoshop contest on it recently. I thought they were kidding, that like some rube had made up this spoof of a poster, but no...I saw this at the theater last night.
It's not inspiring confidence. Check out the photoshop, though...some clever folks out there!
Monday, November 15, 2004
Thank God. Now maybe they can find a conservative columnist with a grasp of reality. He should have been fired after his repeated columns about Mohammed Atta in Prague and Musab al-Zarqawi's links to Osama bin Laden, even though both stories have been thorougly disproven. Perhaps he is resigning in frustration because, despite God knows how many columns he's written on the subject, no one seems to care about his Saddam Hussein/U.N. Oil for Food scandal. Oooooh, Saddam Hussein was a corrupt ruler who tried to game the system for his own benefit and possibly bribed international officials.
Oh, speaking of resignations, Colin Powell quit today. So did Secretary of Education Rod Page -- now THERE was a scandal Safire should have written about; Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham; and Agriculture Ann Veneman. Total Bush Administration resignations since the election: 6.
From the front page of today's New York Times:
Military commanders point to several accomplishments in Falluja. A bastion of resistance has been eliminated, with lower than expected American military and Iraqi civilian casualties. Senior military officials say up to 1,600 insurgents have been killed and hundreds more captured, altogether more than half the number they estimated were in the city when the campaign began.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
TK: "I think people are misinterpreting the "Mission Accomplish" [sic] speech that Bush gave on the carrier. It was the crew, of their own free will, that hung the sign. An old student of mine, who helped hang it up, told me this.
Andy: Yes, of course. I forgot that all battleships come with their own Kinko's so they can print up giant propaganda banners whenever they like. Unfortunately, that doesn't square with the results of the media's fact-finding mission after Bush's speech. Damn that liberal press corps!
TK: "If people can get off the media's bashing of this statement and listen to what the President actually said then the context of the statement is clear:
"Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops." - George W. Bush, May 1, 2003
Andy: Well, it seems you've come up with a post-speech quote that the President gave to the press to clarify what the hell he was talking about out there and his reasons for being there. Fine, let's all take your suggestion and read what the President actually said that day. It's all right there in black and white on the official White House webpage. Don't forget to notice the banner at the top of the smiling, joyful Iraqis. At least I guess they're Iraqis celebrating our invasion...no way to prove it's not a crowd of Jordanians watching a soccer game. So what did the President say?
- "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." That's from his opening sentence. TK, you've got to be kidding me if you expect us to believe that Bush meant only that the Lincoln's mission was accomplished. His first statement was an absolutely unequivocal declaration of final victory, there's no other way to read that.
- "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11, 2001 -- and still goes on." Unfortunately, as shown by the results of the election, 48% of America fails to see the connection between Iraq and September 11. That might have something to do with the government's own commission reporting that there was no relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.
- "And as of tonight, nearly one-half of al Qaeda's senior operatives have been captured or killed." Over the course of time, Bush would increase this number to 75%, but as I pointed out in my analysis of the final Bush-Kerry debate his context for this assertion is a list of approximately "two dozen" al Qaeda members that the government knew about in September 2001. There's absolutely no reason to think that the vacancies in al Qaeda's management haven't been filled. Oh, and thanks once again for linking Iraq and al Qaeda despite an utter lack of supporting evidence and substantial evidence to the contrary.
- "We've removed an ally of al Qaeda." Or...not.
- "No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime is no more. (Applause.) " One might also add, "and because they didn't have any weapons."
- "With those attacks, the terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States. And war is what they got." Except the President did not actually declare war; first of all, he can't, the Constitution doesn't give him that power. Only the Congress can declare war. They voted to override the Constitution and surrender their own authority to the President, an act of which the constitutionality will be forever debated, I'm sure. Even with this authority, the President chose to go to war without actually declaring war. Hence, in his point of view, the prisoners are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. Isn't that convenient? (Unfortunately, the G.C. stipulates that its protections must also be extended to any prisoners whose status is in doubt.)
- "Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world -- and will be confronted." Or even if they don't, hey, what's the difference?
- "The war on terror is not over; yet it is not endless." I thought it was only fair to include this acknowledgment on the President's part. Still, Bush clearly defined Iraq as a fait accompli. A year and a half later, we know that is not the case.
TK: It is presumptuous and naive to think that all hostilities would come to an end as soon as Bush made his speech that day. One more thing Bush said that the liberals will take literally so that it could be used against him later on. I guess when Clinton was in office and the literal definition of the word "is" and "sexual relations" came into question it was time to hit Websters.Andy: Sorry TK, but if anyone's taking President Bush literally, it would be the people who voted for him, not "the liberals." Give me a break. Go back and look at the papers from the months before our invasion began. Columnists, military commanders, diplomats, foreign leaders and the general public are all on record questioning Bush's repeated assertions that this would be a swift victory, that we would be welcomed as liberators, etc. Everyone wanted to know, "What is your plan in case you're wrong?" Many, many people predicted exactly the chaos -- specifically, a drawn-out urban guerrilla war -- that we're seeing now. WE knew this was going to take a long time and wasn't going to be easy. The Bush Administration was saying "cakewalk." How DARE you accuse us of having unrealistic expectations.
By the way, Clinton is no longer president. He didn't run for president this year. Why is it that every time someone criticizes Bush, the conservatives all yell, "But Clinton..."??? Do you really want to compare this current fiasco with Monica-gate? The President had a blowjob (or two) from someone who wasn't his wife. Well, that is tacky, to be sure. And he lied about it. But those lies didn't drag us into a war that has cost more than 1,100 American lives and an unguessable number of Iraqi lives.
The conservatives, who always wail about how the government wastes taxpayers' money, spent $64 million investigating Clinton and came up with bupkus, and yet Bush only managed to find $15 million to fund the 9/11 Commission to figure out how three thousand people died.TK: Come on people, it was the Lincoln's mission that was accomplished. Those people had been out in the Gulf for a long time and were ready to go home. I would expect hostilities and casualties to increase this week when executing a major offensive against the assholes who have buried themselves in Falujah. This is something that should have been done a year ago.
Andy: If Fallujah "should have been done a year ago," WHOSE FAULT IS THAT? Casualties have been increasing for a far longer period of time than just this week. The handoff of "sovereignty" was in June. During that month, there were 44 US casualties. In July we suffered 61. In August, 71. In September, 83. October was better at 67, but that number is still higher than it was in June and July. Currently we have had 48 casualties for the month of November; that's a rate of 3.69 casualties a day. If that keeps up, we're looking at a November total of 110. (These figures from Globalsecurity.org.)
TK: Contrary to popular opinion and political correctness we should have wiped them out completely and not given the insurgents time to make a stronghold. Incidentally this is something that Bush wanted to do a month ago but was forced to concede to popular opinion instead of listening to his military advisors.
Andy: No, what we should have done is not gone to Iraq in the first place because a lot of reasonably intelligent people were afraid this would happen. You're in the military; how could you not have learned one of the great lessons of Vietnam? Namely, you just can't effectively fight a guerrilla campaign. You'll never be able to wipe them out. Stronghold? It's their home, TK. And what's your source that Bush "conceded to popular opinion"? Also, you just finished saying we should have done Fallujah a "year" ago. It doesn't exactly exculpate Bush to claim he's been wanting to do this for a month. And, are you accusing the President of disregarding expert military advice for fear of losing popular support? Why would he do that? Oh, I forgot, there was a presidential election last week that he won by 3% of the vote.
TK: The success stories just aren't covered in the news. Just the rising death toll, which is surprisingly small, compared to other conflicts we have engaged in, and all the other "failures" attributed to Bush's invasion.
Andy: Are we, as a nation, "surprised" that only 1,100 Americans have died? Are you going to include in your "rising death toll" the estimates of the number of Iraqi civilians killed, which range up to 100,000? Is that "surprisingly small"? You're in the military, you tell me. And I've asked you this before. Please tell us all about the success stories we're not hearing.
The press isn't just covering the death toll. Kidnappings. Beheadings. Pipeline destruction. Abu Ghraib. Al QaQaa. Suicide bombings. Fallujah. Mosul. Samarra. Pardon my French, but there'd better be some pretty fucking good news to overshadow these catastrophes before we start throwing around the word "success."
TK: Unfortunately, Bush can't give 100% focus to the war effort because it isn't in the forefront of everyone's agenda.
Andy: No one is saying the president doesn't have more than one iron in the fire. We're just saying it's a disaster, is all.
TK: As far as monogamous lesbians are concerned, it wasn't Bush who decided to "protect" the U.S. from that lifestyle- it was the millions of voters who voted for the bills on their ballots.
George W. Bush: "And the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honoring -- honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. Today I call upon the Congress to promptly pass, and to send to the states for ratification, an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife." (February 24, 2004)
TK: Bin Laden may be off dialysis at the moment but he sure as hell would have been on it sooner had Clinton got off his ass and did something when the WTC was bombed the first time. I guess Clinton was too distracted by his intern's DSL's and the fact he was patting himself on the back for lobbing a few tomahawks when the USS Cole was almost sunk in Yemen. We had some soldiers die on his watch too but I keep forgetting that going to war when a Democrat is president is somehow ok.
Andy: Nice try, but Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were not responsible for the 1993 attack, which was perpetrated by Ramzi Yousef and Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman. They are both now in jail, along with 19 others who were tried and convicted.
Please find for me any reference to a Republican who urged Clinton to take stronger action against Osama bin Laden. Oh yes, I know that story that Oliver North himself tried to warn us, but that myth was officially debunked by the U.S. Senate. By the way, let us not forget that on August 6, 2001, just five weeks before the attacks, Bush received a security briefing entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." And what was his response? He stayed on vacation. No press conference. No increase in airport security. Didn't even notify the intelligence agencies or law enforcement, let alone "lob a few tomahawks."
In fact, as Richard Clarke's testimony proved, the outgoing Clinton administration warned the Bushies repeatedly about bin Laden and al Qaeda. The result? On September 10, 2001, John Ashcroft cut the Justice Department's counterterrorism budget.
And if you think "going to war when a Democrat is president is...ok," then clearly you have forgotten the ruckus the GOP raised about our involvement in the Balkans. At least Clinton never claimed Milosevic was "a grave and gathering threat" to U.S. security or credited him with possessing weapons he didn't have.
Plus, there was so much pre-release press that I felt like I'd already seen the movie just having read so much about it. And finally, having read all of that and hearing about Gibson's adherence to pre-Vatican II Catholicism and his alleged anti-Semitic upbringing, I just didn't feel like throwing $10.25 (welcome to movie theaters in Manhattan) at a millionaire who was promoting a view of Christ I wasn't sure I was going to share.
My first reaction is: what a waste of talent. The film was beautiful. Gibson has an eye for filling the screen with phenomenal, perfectly balanced and intriguing images. The art direction was superb. It was lovely to look at, and, I thought, very well cast. I was particularly impressed with Maia Morgenstern as Mary.
But I missed Jesus. I suppose if Gibson's intent was really to make a film about the crucifixion, and specifically that, I can't fault him for failing to give more time to the lessons Jesus taught. It would be like complaining that it's a fine wheelbarrow, but it doesn't play CDs -- you can't criticize something for failing to do what it wasn't designed to do.
Having said that, the character of Jesus in this movie is completely overwhelmed by the sadistic violence. I don't doubt that His final hours were every bit as miserable as the film depicts, if perhaps not even moreso. I can't help thinking, though, that the Gospels themselves don't spend a lot of time, proportionately speaking, about Christ's suffering and death. Gibson seems to want to win us over by inciting our outrage that such cruelties could be done to an innocent man.
But Christ was not just innocent. He was virtuous beyond reproach, kind, generous, a healer, and a pacifist. If you took all the segments of this film that showed Christ being any of these things and spliced them all together, they would occupy less time than the flogging scene. The thought that occurs to you over and over during this movie is, "How could they do this to someone?" I don't believe that He came to us to inspire outrage and indignance. He came to offer hope and comfort...and this was one of the most uncomfortable movies I have ever watched. While Gibson gives you Christ's Greatest Hits from the Gospels in one-verse-at-a-time flashbacks, showing a slightly bored-looking Jim Caviezel saying something compassionate for 5 seconds, he spends great stretches of the film glorying in creative camera angles capturing blood flying in every direction. For every peaceful thing He says in the film, He receives about ten lashes.
I did not really see this an anti-Semitic film; I mean, that's just the way the story goes, I'm sorry. For it to really be racist, I think there would have to be a more obvious playing-up of unpleasant stereotypes. However, I did find it distinctly homophobic.
The bloodlust and sadistic camaraderie of the Roman guards had a definite leather-clad S&M feel to it, and Gibson calls our attention to the same-sex debauchery early on when one guard grabs another by the head and moves as if to kiss him...they don't actually lock lips, but the one does wag his tongue lasciviously at the other.
King Herod's court looked like a retirement home for transvestites. Um, is this the same Herod who, according to the Bible, promised his stepdaughter anything in his power up to one half his kingdom if she would just dance naked for him? Sigh. You know how gay men love naked dancing girls. These guys weren't just gay, they were complete poofs, with obvious-looking wigs and fake beards and make-up.
The coup-de-grace, of course, was the effeminate Satan. Please. It was a bold stroke to cast a woman as the Devil...one that has fascinating possibilities, and I think is a very valid choice, actually. Effeminate, though, is not to say "feminine." There's a difference. This Satan was distinctly androgynous; I wonder how many viewers thought the actor was actually a man? We certainly tend to think of the Devil as a masculine entity, if his representations in art are any indication. Yes, this was no female Lucifer, but rather a pale-faced limp-wristed pansy-assed lisping Fagistopheles.
I would hope people would recognize that this is just a movie, just one man's idea about the events of the final hours of Christ's life. They shouldn't take The Gospel according to Mel all that seriously. If they'd really like to understand Christ's passion, there's no substitute for the original source.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Thank God that's over. Can we stop obsessing about it?
Can I point out that as of this morning, 18 U.S. soldiers had been killed in our current assault on Fallujah? And just remind everyone that yesterday was Veteran's Day? The New York Times is currently reporting that three U.S. helicopters have been shot down in Iraq in just this week. Oh, and by the way, while our military attention, at least, is focused on Fallujah, CNN reports that "fighting intensifies in four Iraqi cities."
Let's see...it's 20 months since the fall of Baghdad, about 18 months since Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" and almost a year since the capture of Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, we're engaged in a street-by-street conquest, under heavy guerilla resistance, of a major Iraqi city while simultaneously losing control in three other places.
Osama bin Laden is off his dialysis machine making campaign commercials from Pakistan, the situation in Iraq is getting worse, not better, but at least we've got George W. Bush -- who's responsible for all these catastrophes -- to protect us from monogamous lesbians in Massachusetts.
Basically, in the heat of the moment, you set yourself down and write a long letter to the person you're angry with, and put everything in it. Let it all out. Say the things you've been dying to say forever, and use as many four letter words and as much colorful vocabularly as you can muster, if it helps. Just put everything out there, right on the page.
When you're done, read it back to yourself. Then destroy the letter; don't ever let anyone else see it. Breathe deeply. You should feel better, and hopefully, freed from the entrapment of rage, your brain has begun to find constructive ways to deal with the situation instead.
For those of us who might still have a few untapped resentments left after the election, click here to read one person's rant.
Warning: this website contains language not appropriate for chuch. At least, not my church.
Disclaimer: I am NOT the author of this text, and would be proud if I were.
- Divorce will be illegal.
- Secular ceremonies (i.e., those performed by a judge or justice of the peace) will be banned.
- Adultery will be criminalized; the penalty should be a mandatory jail sentence, or perhaps, as recommended by Leviticus, stoning. I'm flexible on that one.
- Divorces granted in other countries will not be recognized.
- Everyone wanting to get married must pass a fertility test; infertile couples can only be married after signing an affidavit indicating their intention to adopt.
If this doesn't sound acceptable to you, then please stop trying to hold gay people to standards you can't fucking maintain for yourselves, assholes.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
On the street outside the window a few floors below a moving van was double parked on the narrow two-way street. A livery cab attempting to pass it had pulled around into the oncoming lane, only to find itself staring down the headlights of an oncoming bus. Trapped now, between the bus and the line of cars behind him, the outraged driver leaned on his horn, while the driver of the bus responded in kind, wildly gesticulating his arms and mouthing the words, “Back up, moron!” The honking continued.
Fluffy raised herself into a sitting position and yawned, then twitched her tail. She didn’t turn to the window, but could sense from the level of light in the room that the sun was obscured by heavy clouds, and would not appear today. The current of heat rising from the radiator beneath the windowsill made her feel heavy and slow, and content. Raising herself to all fours, she contemplated a leap directly to the floor, but decided against it. She stepped elegantly to the arm of the sofa instead, then to the cushions, and descended to the polished parquet like a princess arriving at a ball.
She moved swiftly across the room, her body moving fluidly like a fur-covered fish. Her tail rose high in the air like the standard of a proud king, curving over gently at the top like a shepherd’s crook. Carefully she avoided the weak spot in the floor that creaked under even her gentle carriage. Lightly she bounded up the two steps out of the sunken living room and headed toward the kitchen.
As she bent towards her water dish, her nose wrinkled in involuntary distaste. Mitzi had been at her water again.
For five years now Fluffy had lived contentedly in her two bedroom apartment that she shared with two humans in upper Manhattan. It was a life of utterly predictable routine. The man was up early on a daily basis, and his first task was always putting fresh food in Fluffy’s dish, whether she was there to meow for it or not. (As she got older she tended to sleep in more.) Though the apartment remained dark, he sat under a solitary lamp in the dining room reading the newspaper while listening to the radio, slowly sipping a cup of coffee and nibbling two pieces of whole wheat toast with strawberry jam. He never varied this routine.
After dressing he would slip on his grey overcoat, regardless of the weather, and disappear out the door, leaving the radio in the dining room on. Moments later a harsh buzz would emanate from the bedroom. The woman would rouse herself out of bed, turning on both lamps on either side of the bed, the overhead light, then the light in the hall, the bathroom, the four lamps in the living room, the television, the foyer, the kitchen, and the entryway, before disappearing into the bathroom. Five minutes later she would reappear in a burst of steam and dressing quickly, she would retrace her earlier steps, this time turning off the lights as she passed them. Then whirling frantically from room to room mumbling to herself she would pick up scattered papers, books and magazines and stuff them into her oversized woven shoulderbag before flying out the door with a slam. Frequently she would re-appear a moment later, repeat her circuit around the apartment, pick up one additional item, and be gone again.
Fluffy would then have the rest of the day to herself, which she spent having naps in various locations followed by baths. All this had changed two weeks ago with a fateful knock on the door.
It was Mrs. Rosenbaum from across the hall, a kindly old woman whose hearing deficiency frequently prompted her to answer the question she thought she heard, rather than the one that had been asked. A friendly neighbor might greet her by saying, “Good morning, Mrs. Rosenbaum,” to which she might reply, “Yes, isn’t it awful?” or perhaps, simply, “What?”
Lily Rosenbaum explained that her family had decided she shouldn’t live alone in the City anymore, and they were taking her to live in an apartment facility for senior citizens in Hewitt. She was peeved; she was getting along just fine, thank you, and did not like the idea of being babysat twenty four hours a day and held hostage in a dining hall filled with chattering yentas and somnolent men. What’s worse, Schapiro Estates did not allow pets, and Lily’s daughter-in-law loudly protested that she was allergic to dogs. She needed a home for Mitzi, her 2 year old Shitzu. Would the Lowensteins be able to help?
They asked if they could have the evening to discuss it. It was hard to say no to Mrs. Rosenbaum, not least because she was the kind of woman who didn’t take no for an answer to begin with. But she was a kind, old-fashioned lady and had been a very good neighbor for many years, and had taken excellent care of Fluffy last winter when the Lowensteins had taken a Bahamas cruise. The woman was reluctant, but the man argued that it was the right thing to do to help Lily out, and that basically it would be like having a second cat. The woman conceded, but on the condition that the man took Mitzi for her morning walk.
And so Mitzi had arrived. She spent her first hours racing from one end of the apartment to the other, her short black nails clattering against the hardwood, yipping and yipping as she tried to manage the corners, her back legs sliding out from under her as she collided with the wall. It didn’t seem to stop her. Even now, two weeks later, she still slid into walls. Fluffy, terrified, had curled her lip in disgust and hissed.
Perched high on the living room windowsill, she surveyed her new housemate. Mitzi had two black circles for eyes, that shifted rapidly and never seemed completely in focus. Fluffy had the sense that Mitzi saw much but understood little. Or nothing. She was snaggletoothed, the right lower canine jutting up over her lip, which made her look like a mentally retarded vampire. Her off-white curly fur was the color of an old mop, except under her chin, where it was stained the same brown as the smelly food she inhaled. She proudly wore a black collar studded with fake rhinestones. “Like putting lipstick on a pig,” Fluffy sniffed.
“Yip!” cried Mitzi. That was all she ever said. And she always yipped it in precisely the same way, leading Fluffy to speculate that it likely meant nothing at all.
The next days proceeded in agony for Fluffy. Where before the days were filled with blissful, mellow silence, excepting only the constant hum of human voices from the small radio in the dining room that was always left on – for her? Fluffy sometimes wondered, disinterested – now there was the cringe inducing click-clack of shitzu paws on the floor, the uncouth “xhaxhaxhaxhaxha” sound of her idiotic panting, and the goddamned yips.
Mitzi spent hours sitting just inside the door at the end of the long entryway. “Yip!” Pause. “Yip!” Fluffy wished there was a way she could explain the ceaseless unvarying rhythm of the humans’ lives; they would be home around the time of the setting of the sun, give or take an hour or so, depending on whether the days were long or short. The woman would come home first, dumping her coat and bags on the wingback chair in the living room before bustling about in the kitchen. The man came a few minutes later, and would sit on the living room sofa and watch TV while communicating with the woman in a loud voice, so that he could be heard over the TV and around the corner into the kitchen and over the radio, still on, in the dining room. “Mm-hmm,” was all the woman ever seemed to reply.
“Yip!” was not going to speed up this process.
Worse still was the loss of many of Fluffy’s favorite napping spots. The top of the bed in the man and the woman’s room was too low. Mitzi would come click-clacking down the hall at top speed, and after regaining her balance following the collision with the right side of the door frame would leap on to the bed and dance in circles before leaping back off and repeating the routine.
Under the bed, her favorite refuge when strange humans appeared, was also out. Mitzi frequently crawled under the bed herself and yipped at dustbunnies. When they’d shift in the breeze caused by her vulgar breathing, Mitzi would “Yip!” in terror and click-clack out of the bedroom in a panic.
The bed in the unused second bedroom was too high for Mitzi, but the room itself had a stale and somewhat oppressive mood to it, and Fluffy did not like to nap in there. Invariably she would be restless and have unpleasant dreams. She avoided the dark bedroom most of the time. In the back corner of one of the hall closets there was a pile of old comforters and winter clothes, and Fluffy frequently retreated here when she wanted isolation. She had assumed it was a safe spot, until she was once roused from a nap with the uncomfortable sensation that she was being watched. When she opened her eyes, blank-eyed Mitzi was staring at her and panting. “Yip!” she said, and scuttled away. Fluffy frowned.
In the living room she was safe under the sofa; it was just the barest bit too low for Mitzi’s clumsy, oversized head. Fluffy would press herself against the back wall and smile patronizingly at Mitzi, and occasionally stick out her tongue. She was also safe in the seat of the wingback chair, but the windowsill was higher still and commanded a fuller view not only of the living room, but of the world outside, including the idiotic pigeons who would stare at Fluffy through the glass. “Hooo,” they would say, blinking.
Despite this, Fluffy mourned the loss of the broad open space in the center of the living room on the worn, faded Persian carpet, where she liked to bask in the golden rays of the morning sun, rolling onto her back and feeling herself melt into the floor like butter in a warm saucepan. In the evenings when the humans would sit quietly and watch television, Mitzi usually claimed this patch of carpet, coarsely biting and sucking on her fur, though to Fluffy’s eyes she never appeared quite clean. Now the carpet smelled like dog.
So she sat, as her tail slowly slid across the floor from one side to the other, and gazed at her reflection in the water dish. She pondered whether her thirst overpowered her revulsion at the taste of Mitzi’s slobber. A medium-sized cockroach ambled across the floor nearby, as Fluffy watched. In earlier days she’d have swatted it and chased it, playing with it until it vanished under the crack in the corner by the steam pipe, but now she didn’t bother. She had outgrown such behavior, except at full moon.
The water dish had been one of their first disputes. The humans aptly figured that having two four-footed creatures in the apartment would require more water, so they set out a larger bowl. Mitzi would lap at the water with a nearly pathological aggression; Fluffy stared in disbelief as the rhinestone-bedecked dustmop slurped and hacked over the bowl, spattering water in every direction and leaving the floor nearby wet with small puddles. The water then tasted like dog. Fluffy did her best to tolerate this, until one evening, as she delicately sipped her water, lost in thought, Mitzi padded up behind her and sniffed at her nether regions.
In the blink of an eye Fluffy wheeled on her with a snarl and smacked Mitzi hard across the snout with her right paw, claws fully extended. Then she hissed for good measure. Mitzi leapt backwards and made a whining noise akin to the radiator when it starts up on cold mornings. It was the only time Fluffy ever heard her say anything other than “Yip!”, and she wondered if perhaps maybe she wasn’t completely stupid after all.
Hearing the fracas, the woman came running and quickly sized up the situation, seeing the orange cat’s hackles raised like a porcupine’s quills and the cowering Mitzi in the far corner of the kitchen. “Bad cat!” scolded the woman, as she picked up a plastic water bottle and squirted a cold jet in her face. Fluffy felt betrayed by the woman, and glowered at the quaking dog as she retreated into the living room. The rest of that miserable evening had passed in heavy silence.
After that, Fluffy decided she needed her own dish. She circled the dish in the kitchen and mewed, glancing at the water and then back at the humans. “Whatsamatter, kitty?” the woman would say. “What do you mean, ‘meow’?” The woman frowned. “I don’t understand, honey. There’s food in your dish, water in the bowl, I just changed your litter. What do you want?”
Fluffy mraued in consternation, frustrated by her inability to articulate what she needed. The man’s gruff voice called from the living room.
“Honey, I don’t think the cat likes sharing the dog’s water, let’s get her her own bowl.”
As the woman went to the cupboard to get another bowl, Fluffy danced in circles between her legs and purred, humming in victory. Her own water dish! All was well.
Except Mitzi didn’t seem to understand this arrangement. Clearly, thought Fluffy, this bowl by MY food is MY water, and THAT THERE is your water. But Mitzi happily lapped away at both bowls. Fluffy gave up.
Heaving a sigh, she closed her eyes and bent her slender neck toward the dish, wrinkling her noise to avoid inhaling the scent. Just as her delicate pink tongue touched the water, she heard a familiar sound.
Click clack. Click click click click click.
Turning, she saw Mitzi standing in the doorway, panting like an idiot. “What do you want?” she meowed softly.
“Yip!” said Mitzi.
“Yip!” Pause. “Yip!” Fluffy hissed and raised her paw as Mitzi turned tail and headed back down the hall. Finished with her drink, Fluffy slinked back down the steps and ascended gracefully in a single leap to the top of the warm windowsill. The rising heat made her feel drowsy at once. Circling twice, she tucked her head under left arm, curled her tail around, and fell asleep.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
"Ich verstehe das amerikanische volk nicht....wiekann man nur so dumm sein? Ich werde niemals in die usa gehen. What a shame....i can`t understand your country....excuse me but i can`t find the words."*
"I can assure you, that really a lot of people see very well that, people voted for Bush because they trust him and not because they basically support his beliefs. Probably it is very difficult for americans to get a view of the bigger picture because they have never been out of the country and they only hear the us- news. For us it is so normal to hear the news and read the papers from all europe. The fundamental problem in europe is, that we don't have ben and jerry's ice cream."
-- Michael Leibundgut
*TRANSLATION for the linguistically-challenged: "I don't understand the American people -- how can someone be so dumb? I will never go to the USA."
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
But it's a broad, broad subject.
Thankfully today there appeared an article from Sean Gonsalves on Alternet. He excerpts from a recent article about why GOP economic policy is distinctly anti-Christian and ponders the meaning of Christ's statement, "Blessed are the peacemakers." A good read!
QUEENS: DAUGHTER CHARGED IN MAN'S DEATH The daughter of a 67-year-old man who was found beaten to death with a hammer on Friday has been charged with his murder, the authorities said yesterday. The woman, Laura Martin, 43, fought with her father, John Martin, last Wednesday in their Long Island City housing project and struck him with a hammer, the Queens district attorney's office said. The next day, prosecutors said, she placed a plastic bag over his head and a blanket over his body, cleaned up the blood, dropped her 5-year-old daughter at school and smoked cocaine for several hours. On Friday, she acted as if she had discovered the body, neighbors said.
Don't let your sheep get behind the wheel, folks:
SEVERAL SHEEP DIE IN TURNPIKE CRASH A collision between two trucks on the New Jersey Turnpike last night killed at least 22 sheep in one of the trucks and left others running along the turnpike in a panic, said a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. The accident, which caused no human injuries, occurred about 11 p.m. in the northbound lanes near the interchange to Route 8A, said the spokesman, Joe Orlando, who said he did not know how the crash occurred. Animal control officers were called to help round up about 16 sheep that had escaped.
But I did make eye contact -- twice!! -- and even got something that looked like it might have been a smile. (I guess we're shy. I'm having a vision of us 50 years from now sitting on opposite ends of the room of our homos-only retirement center in Ft. Lauderdale, still trying to get up the nerve to say "Hi.")
No crazy people on the subway today, so it was a nice quiet ride. I almost got to sit next to Mystery Boy, but I was a split-second too slow. I thought if I lunged for the seat next to him it just wouldn't be subtle enough. (Why do I get the feeling I'm going to be a very subtle single senior citizen?) Well, it's clearly not my fault. Some straight person stole my seat. There you go again.
I guess summer is officially over. It was 37 degrees this morning. Brrr. There is another subway phenomenon that you people probably never think about, but in cold weather New Yorkers swell up to three times their normal size. Coats, scarves, hats, bags. We're like multi-racial pastries made from Gore-Tex. I much prefer coatless summer. Of course we still have to get the same number of people on the train as we do when we're just in our shirtsleeves.
In other news, Michael Phelps is a dumbass.
Monday, November 08, 2004
I am looking for a new job. Specifically, a job that doesn't suck.
I am an outspoken progressive quasi-socialist who finds he can't work in Manhattan's financial industry, which is about where 4 out of 5 jobs seem to be. Something about sitting in a cubicle editing spreadsheet data indicating how to make rich people richer just isn't doing it for me. I don't like wearing a tie. I barely tolerate pants.
I have years of experience pretending to get along with all kinds of people. Most people have no idea how much I pity/despise/lust after them, I'm that good.
My requirements are simple. I need about 90 minutes first thing in the morning to go through my various news sources, then 30 minutes to an hour to work on my blog, depending on what's going on in the world and how motivated/inspired I am. After that, I'm free to do at least an hour's worth of your work before I take another break for roughly 45 minutes to an hour to check personal email. Then I go to lunch. After lunch it should only take me 30-45 minutes to check and respond to the replies to the emails I sent out earlier. This generally leaves me with approximately a full two-hour window in the afternoon for me to give you and your projects my undivided attention, before I start to wind things up for the day around 4:00 as I watch the clock tick toward 5 while checking out travel websites and fantasizing about taking a vacation to get myself the hell away from you, as well as making happy hour plans with my drinking buddies.
I have eleven years' experience of pretending to be busy at some of New York's top companies, including FOX, Barnes & Noble, Related Capital Company, PaineWebber, Cushman & Wakefield, and many, many others.
So if you have any jobs that don't totally suck and pay decently, please let me know.
Feeling resolved, I left earlier than usual and waited on the platform, just to be sure I wouldn't miss him. (I know, it's pathetic already.) I actually let four trains go by. (Isn't that the way? When you're not getting on the A, there's one every 2 minutes...when you're running late and in a hurry, you have to wait for 20.) The one good thing is that I passed up an "opportunity" to ride with an old colleague from school who incessantly talks my ear off about his singing career and other bullshit. He thought it was odd that I said I was "waiting for someone" but I'd rather that he thinks I'm a weirdo than suffer through a 25 minute monologue on subjects I have to feign interest in. (Hey, I never said I wasn't a bitch, okay?) I also saw that guy I met during the Olympics, aka Connecticut Guy, but I don't think he saw me.
And then there he was, just like clockwork. But there was no eye contact. Today -- perhaps I'm neurotic (ya think?) -- I felt like I was being ignored. Then the train came, and we got on. He got the last seat, lucky s.o.g. Unfortunately, there was a crazy person in our car. He was yellin' and screamin' and crying...he touched on just about every subject under the sun in the time it takes to go from 181st to 59th. He yelled about everything from Ray Charles to safe sex. Actually he stayed on safe sex quite a while. The morning commute on the A train is usually quiet and respectful. It's crowded, but almost everyone is reading. Rarely is there anyone talking. So it was a little jarring to hear this raspy voice shouting, "Safe sex! Safe sex!" over and over again.
"Safe sex!" he continued. "But ladies and gentlemen, the British Medical Association," he said, giving extra weight to the word British, as if it lent more credibility to his rant -- see my footnotes! -- "has proved that latex causes cancer!" Naturally we went from there to the topic of the flu vaccine. He predicted 30 million will die this year.
"George Bush. What a hero. He is putting his life at risk for you people, you know that? He is voluntarily not being vaccinated against the flu this year to save more for you and me. What a fuckin' hero. Like if the President gets the flu he has to worry about getting medical treatment." That was the only coherent thing he said all morning.
I tried to tune him out and read my new book, but it was impossible to concentrate. I didn't know if discussing Mr. Crazy might be a way to break the ice and talk to the guy...he seemed like he was doing just fine with his book, though he may have just been staring at the page. Really, it's hard to focus when someone is yelling, "George Bush! All white people like that! You can't trust them." I am not, thank you kindly, in any way shape or form, like George Bush. Can I sue the President for damaging my reputation? (Actually, I have fantasized about suing him for emotional distress.)
Speaking of fantasizing, we finally got to Columbus Circle. At this point we both transfer to the B/D line...but I only go one stop, because I need to catch the E. So there's this period where, once again, we're both standing around waiting on the platform. (Cue chicken noises.) Train comes. We both get on. I'm next to him. It's like Groundhog Day, really. This is the fifth time in a row my commute has proceeded exactly like this (um...except for the crazy guy). But I didn't seize my opportunity.
As I'm heading out of the D train toward the stairs down to the Queens-bound E on the lower level, a cute blond guy catches my eye and gives a little smile. Hello! Alas, the E is already in the station, and I'm trapped on the stairs by slow-moving fat people...I can't make it. He dashes on the train, the doors close, and off he goes.
You straight people, I swear to G-d. You never, EVER show any consideration for single gay guys. La la la, let me lumber down the stairs like an elephant with stiff knees, hoo ha, clueless me. More than once I've wanted to ask some breeder on the train if they can shift because they're blocking my view of a hottie.
Oh, you try to make up for it, the liberals among you, by setting us up with your other gay friends, but you're all so clueless. Gay guys are not like a sweater and a pair of shoes. You can't take your two favorites and say, "They'd be so cute together!" It doesn't work like that. But, I love you all anyway. Just remember next time you're on the subway to keep a low profile, literally. You might be blocking someone's view!
So despite all of that -- passing up 4 A trains and then missing the E -- I got to work 5 minutes early. Yup. Pretty pathetic.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Oh yes. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
I walked past American Girl Place on my way back to the office and sprinkled a generous handful on some rosy-cheeked blond blue eyed pre-adolescent cherubs. As I continued on my way, I heard them variously exclaim, "Mommy, why can't I find a No Make-Up Barbie?" and "Mommy, can I give my dolly a mullet when we get home?" and "Mommy, for Christmas can I have a tool belt just like Daddy's?"
I stopped in at HMV and tossed some in the air over a baggy-pantsed skater boy, who promptly dropped the Ashlee Simpson CD he was holding and ran over to the showtunes aisle, where he immediately pounced on the original cast recordings of "Avenue Q" and "Funny Girl" and said, "Oh mom, can I get these, pleeeeeeease?"
Just for kicks I even scattered a cloud of it as I was crossing an intersection in the midst of a crowd that didn't even have any kids in it. I think at least 4 marriages failed right then and there and a guy with a goatee in a Jets jersey whipped out a cell phone and made a reservation for a facial at a day spa.
As the wind caught it and blew it up 5th Avenue, four guys in the back corner of O'Leary's bar promptly dumped out their mugs of Bud Lite and ordered appletinis instead. Then they went to the jukebox and put on some ABBA.
We tried the tolerance thing with you people, but you wouldn't play along. Now it's war. You're all going to be fabulous within 2 years...3 tops. By the time we get around to inaugurating the next president in 2008, she'll be moving into a residence known as the Pink House.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
- Florida. I think the electoral votes will go to Bush. It will be declared early as a red state. But after the chips fall, perhaps even after the election is decided, either way, discrepancies will be discovered that will be impossible to explain. I think Bush will "win" Florida by a margin that far exceeds any poll estimates. Basically, I think they'll cheat, and because of the no-paper trail electronic technology, there won't ever be a way to prove it. Conspiracy theories will abound.
- RESULT: Well, there are conspiracy reports out there indicating that precincts using electronic voting machines with no paper trail or means of independent verification went consistently for Bush at a rate of 5% higher than results of exit polls. But of course...there's no way to prove it.
- Turnout. I think voter turnout will reach a record high this year, and I think particular increases will be seen in first-time voters, especially the under 25 set and African-Americans.
- RESULT: Well, the turnout was the largest since 1968. Haven't seen any data on the black vote in terms of increase, etc., but the much ballyhooed anticipation of a "youth vote" just didn't materialize; voters 18-24 voted in exactly the same percentage that they did in 2000. Interesting factoid, though: turnout was so large that more people voted for John Kerry this week than voted for Ronald Reagan in the blowout of 84.
- Surprises. I think at least one state that has long been considered an "out of play" lock for Bush will go blue. Additionally, I think there will be at least one major event or outcome that absolutely no one predicts.
- RESULT: Uh...oops. I personally anticipated a Kerry win in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri or Arkansas...just one of them. Oh well. The surprise was that there were no surprises. Does that count?
- Polls. I think everything we think we know about how people vote will be tossed out the window this year. This election will be unlike any we've ever seen.
- RESULT: Nope. The polls were right.
- Electoral vs. Popular. I think there is, sadly, a good possibility that once again Bush could take the electoral vote and lose the popular vote. If he does, I predict the margin by which he loses the popular vote will be substantial.
- RESULT: Bush won the popular vote by 4 million.
- Instant winner vs. long legal battle. If there is a decisive victory with a clear winner on November 3rd, I think that it will be Kerry. If there is a long legal battle and the Supreme Court gets involved again, Bush will emerge victorious. Which of the two outcomes is more likely? I have no idea.
- RESULT: Flat-out wrong.
- My accuracy. I also predict that at least two of my predictions, including this one, will be dead wrong.
- RESULT: Bingo! Probably just a coincidence, though.
Today, actually, I feel okay. Wouldn't call it "optimistic," per se, but more realistic. I am gaining acceptance of the reality of the situation. I am being mindful that despite what appears to be a dark forecast for the next four years and beyond, life, even so, proceeds only one day at a time. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," we are taught. Next year's battles can be fought next year.
I had intended to wear all black today; however, I'm so fat my black pants literally wouldn't close, and my black dress shirt is missing a button. So I'm in charcoal gray and dark blue.
I have a confession to make. I am actually enjoying this book The DaVinci Code, which I've resolutely refused to read. It's my contrarian nature; I figure if everyone likes it, I probably won't. And absolutely everyone was reading this book. So, snob that I am -- I admit it, okay? -- I figured it was much too bourgeois for me. Alas, I'm totally into it. I am so engrossed in it that the world around me disappears (which lately is not a bad thing). I almost didn't get off at Columbus Circle today. Oops. So, thanks to my friends who insisted I read it.
I forgot the empty subway car rule this morning, too. For those of you who live outside of NY, you've probably never heard of it. It's very simple. Subway cars, especially at commute hours, are almost always packed. If a single car is empty or sparsely occupied, there's a reason. In the summer, it means the air conditioning is out and the inside temperature of the car is probably 100 degrees or more. In the winter, it means smelly homeless person. Normally the jaded Manhattan eye can quickly recognize an empty subway car with a homeless person in it through the windows as it shrieks to a stop in front of you, however this guy cheated. He was alseep on the bench directly under the platform side window. Several of us were trapped. Oh well. We all forgot. Everyone saw the empty car and came running. One of the classic blunders, right up there with not getting bogged down in a land war in Asia.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
"It is a shame that not everyone can see what is really going on [in Iraq]. The media and reporters know that images and success stories will not sell and that it is fashionable to hate America. So people whould believe that this is the "wrong war at the wrong time".
I do agree that we should have taken care of OBL before heading to Iraq but the war in Iraq was necessary on so many levels if not for ousting that despotic asshole then at least to give people over there a chance to live without fear from their own ruler who would rather see his people starve then to lift a finger to help them. Serioiusly, Andy, what do you think OBL's other motiviations are? Peace in the Middle East? Actually, it probably is and he will get peace, in his mind, when all the infidels are destroyed."
Well, I'll agree with you as far as the first period.
What do you think is really going on in Iraq? I'll tell you what I see. I see a tenuous "government" handpicked by an invading, occupying power that is looked upon by the Iraqi people with skepticism at best. I see the two figures with the largest command of Iraqi public opinion, Ayatollah al-Sistani and Moktada al-Sadr, marginalized by the U.S. government because of our fear of Islam. (Ironic, isn't it, that in the U.S. the separation between God and Government is being systematically dismantled by the same people whose greatest fear is a religious government in Iraq.)
I see us rushing to premature elections with U.S.-backed candidates who will be viewed, at best, by their compatriots with skepticism. Donald Rumsfeld thinks it's okay if Iraq is secure enough by January for most of Iraq to vote. Well, which regions of Iraq do you think won't be secure enough? It will be the places most suspicious of the U.S.-backed government and elections. If they are unable to participate in the process because of "security" reasons, they will not accept the results. Voila...civil war.
I see a nation that may have suffered as many as 100,000 civilian casualties, according to a recent academic study. I see a nation where basic infrastructure and services are still worse now than before the invasion. I see a "reconstruction" plan, budgeted at $18 billion, for which $1 billion has been spent, and a big chunk has been reappropriated for security.
I see an American military force that is overextended. The biggest scandal of the missing 380 tons of explosive is likely not the explosives themselves, but the fact that it is concrete proof that Bush didn't send enough troops to secure the country. I see Iraq with an endlessly self-generating supply of angry insurgents; their determination easily surpasses ours.
I see a terrorist organization which was not affiliated with al Qaeda before the invasion but has since sworn allegiance to bin Laden.
I don't buy that the present perception that Iraq isn't going so well has been manufactured by the media. In fact, I think Iraq is likely worse than we know. Someone please point to some achievements and successes in Iraq by this administration that have been overlooked by the media.
With my whole heart I believe it was an unjustified war of choice. Bush likes to make the argument that the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam in power. Show me some statistics to support that assertion. If the Iraqi people were so miserable, it was their responsibility to do something about it. I don't believe it's the proper role for the U.S. to go around determining the nature of governments in foreign countries. And in the 2000 election, Bush unequivocally agreed with me.
In all the campaign rhetoric, we lost sight of the fact that Saddam Hussein was always an asshole. Yet there's Donald Rumsfeld in 1983 shaking his hand. There's Ronald Reagan, the boss of the current president's father, selling weapons to Saddam for use against Iran, turning a blind eye to Hussein's documented use of illegal chemical weapons. If we want to blame the situation in Iraq on Saddam, it's only honest to back one step further and remember who put him there and made him as strong as he was.
So what is going on in Iraq right now? We toppled our own dictator and are in the process of starting an "election"
--- have to break here in the middle of writing this; 11:37 a.m. Eastern Time. Kerry has conceded. Speechless. --
Okay, breathing again.
As I was saying, we're in the process of setting up an election with U.S.-friendly candidates in Iraq. We have, as I pointed out earlier, marginalized the significant opposition. Now, it may well be that the administration's intentions here are utterly sincere; obviously having a pro-U.S. Iraqi government is more desirable than an unfriendly one. Maybe the candidates they're supporting really are the best ones. But you've got to examine this from the Arab perspective, and recall that we don't have a great track record doing this. It could easily appear that we are replacing one puppet with another, which is exactly what bin Laden is accusing us of. By the way, did I mention that we gave more than $117 million to the Taliban in 2001 alone? And did I mention that Hamid Karzai is a former Unocal consultant?
What do I seriously think Osama bin Laden's motivations are? Okay, I'll tell you. He wants the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, but probably at the cost of the destruction of Israel. He wants the current aristocratic government of Saudi Arabia overthrown and replaced by a Taliban-like theocracy, and he wants the U.S. military presence removed. Now that we've done him the enormous favor of overthrowing a man bin Laden called a "socialist infidel" in Iraq, he wants a theocracy there, too. In short, yes, he wants an Islamic revolution in the middle east.
To the conservatives who argue bin Laden is at war with the United States, I would like to ask: to what end? Do you think he thinks he can bring about the destruction of America and the subjugation of the American people? In fact, if you look at his most recent remarks, that doesn't seem to be his goal at all. He criticizes George Bush, mentions the Patriot Act specifically by name, and accuses the President of adopting the tactics of Arab tyrants in order to upend the basic order of our society and eliminate civil rights and protections.
So what do we do about bin Laden?
First of all, sad but true, I believe terrorism is a reality of life for America in the 21st century. It's important to remember terrorism is not a tactic employed only by radical Islamists. Oklahoma City, anyone?
Therefore, it's important to study terrorist threats and history and do our best to prevent an attack, both with security and intelligence measures. It's also important to be prepared, as such security measures frequently fail. See Israel. Cutting the budgets of fire departments in New York City is not a good way to be prepared for the next terrorist attack.
Secondly, take a good hard look at bin Laden's accusations. As Karl Rove can tell you, in politics what is "true" is quite relevant. In politics, what is "true" is what people believe. And in the middle east, we have millions upon millions of people who believe these perceptions of our nation. Can we fight this perception, true or not, with a bomb? With a hundred bombs? How many more invasions will it take before the Arabs greet their liberators with open arms, George?
When solid intelligence about terrorists and their locations comes in, strike. Republicans criticized Clinton for "lobbing missiles at tents and camels." Don't you wish now he'd lobbed a few more? Don't you wish that President Bush hadn't declined the recommendation to strike Zarqawi when he was located in Northern Iraq?
Here's how to defuse al Qaeda. Number one problem is Israel.
Let me say this categorically. Israel has the unquestionable right to exist and the unquestionable right to defend itself. I would wholeheartedly support any action necessary by the President of the United States to protect Israel.
I also believe that Palestine has the unquestionable right to exist and the right to defend itself, and the President ought to stand up for the Palestinians, too.
The neocons who thought the path to democracy began in Baghdad were deluded. It begins in Ramallah. Israel must draw back to the pre-1967 borders and respect them. Israel must stop retaliating for terror attacks with clumsy military operations. If you can pinpoint the car a blind, paraplegic sheikh is traveling in, you can stop the car, arrest the sheikh, bring him up before an internationally recognized court of law, present your evidence, and try him fairly. To dispatch a missile which deprives the accused not only of his right to defend himself in court but also of his life and the lives of innocents around him is barbaric. To bulldoze an apartment building and leave families homeless is barbaric. To shoot rock-throwing adolescents with high-powered precision rifles is barbaric. An American president needs to say so.
Establish a major program of energy conservation and subsidizing of alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on oil from this part of the world. It's a finite resource, anyway, better to do this sooner or later. It's only a start, but you know what? It's a HELL of a lot better than what Bush has planned.