Thursday, March 30, 2006

This is your government...

I'm in an angry mood today. Click away if you don't want to join in.

This is an example of your government in action. What will you do about it? Nothing personal...but, if the answer is 'nothing' maybe you should ask yourself why.

I'm doing my Dharma damn best to find compassion for my enemies, but some people make that really hard.

It takes more than luck...

Watched 'Good Night, And Good Luck' last night. It was an interesting movie. Unique cinematography for sure.

It was a story that I wasn't familiar with too. I really didn't know much about Edward R. Murrow - which isn't too good for someone who spent time in the journalism world.

Anyway, it was good, but I found the departure from normal storytelling to be a bit distracting. It might have been my mood though. I had a lot on my mind, so I wasn't into giving a movie a big effort.

One thing it did do was rile me up a bit. So, today I began working down the list of Senators and started calling them all.

Interesting thing to know about the U.S. Senate is pretty wonky on the connection front. If you do some calling, you'll see what I mean. Think you're calling Gordon Smith (R. - Oregon)? Nah, you're getting John Sununu (R. - N.H.). Calling Biden? Naw...wouldn't you rather talk to Bayh?

Sort of figures that the government would even screw up it's own phone calls, doesn't it? Maybe there should be an entire agency created to oversee it. And in another 10 years, we can create another agency to oversee the first agency. Or, if the Republicans stay in power, maybe we can create two agencies to oversee the first. Think of the jobs it would create.

Another interesting thing to know. If you call a bunch of Senators' offices to tell them you support censuring the President, the Democrats' staffers will politely take down the information and promise to pass it along to the Senator while a good percentage of the Republicans will politely tell you to fuck off and call your own Senator. Not surprising really. Is it just partisan support for the President, or inherent rudeness and disregard for other's opinions manifesting itself? I offer no answer to that although you can likely guess my opinion.

Yeah, well...I called about 20 Senators today. That made me feel fairly civic minded. At least I know that at least I made some effort to make myself heard. I'll try some more later. I don't know if I'll call all of them, but maybe that would be a worthy goal.

Last week I watched 'V For Vendetta'...good thing that's not what spurred me to action, eh?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

If you like music

Like music? Think you know a lot about it? Be prepared to learn different. My friend Eileen has been making her way through all the albums on her iPod, Declan, and reviewing them. If you know her, you know that's a lot of albums. No's a lot.

She's going by alphabetically by album. It's been a trek and it's still the beginning of the journey. To be honest, I sort of thought that this was one of those grand plans that we all love to make and never quite find the energy to see through. But, like the Energizer bunny, she just keeps plugging away.

Anyway, the reviews are pretty darn good. They've got a great mix of talking about the quality of the music itself and talking about what it all means to her. I've particularly liked reading the Elvis Costello and Billy Bragg album reviews because I know Eileen and know how big a part of her musical life they play. There have been a lot of surprises too...and it's always cool when a long-time friend surprises you.

Be forewarned that she does have an over abundance of whiney, British boy bands loaded onto Declan...but even those can be sort of fun to hear about.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Johnny, Sarah and the DEA

Johnny Cash played on the jukebox...he really shouldn't have taken those shots of cocaine. By now he should know that kind of tomfoolery will only lead to shooting your woman, going on the lam, and finally getting caught down in Juarez, Mexico.

Sarah kept a constant stream of alcohol flowing, garnished nicely with a sweet touch of flirtation. Libation with flirtation, as it were. She won't run off to Paris with me yet, but the Bahamas is a sure bet. I'm okay with the Bahamas.

Gary finally dragged out of the bar. A shining example of endurance drinking training gone awry.

Down at the end of the bar a couple of DEA agents drank steadily...and then unsteadily.

It just seemed like a perfect cycle kind of thing to join the DEA agents and drink with the two heroes, or was that heels? After all the night did start with Johnny singing about cocaine. Don't worry, I was the picture of politeness, but I don't feel any more goodness and light toward lawmen now than I did before.

One of the guys did redeem himself, sort of, by saying that he did believe that police and law enforcement guys should be held to a higher standard. His partner hemmed and hawed and essentially blamed the media for giving law enforcement a bad rap. So, it was a wash. I'm pretty sure the hem and hawer will be the guy to get promoted up the ladder. He's also the one that thought using TASERs would be cool. His partner, who had actually been TASERed, didn't feel the same way. Funny how that works.

Anyway, that was my Sunday night - Johnny Cash, flirting with Sarah and drinking with the DEA.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Feeling artsy

Lately, I've been in an L.A. state of mind, but today the New York side of my brain stepped up and demanded a bit of face time. I blame it on Ubu.

I've been minding my own business - happy to be plugging stuff into my iPod and selling my soul to iTunes to do it. I've been really getting into having the spoken word loaded in there. I listen to Boris (my iPod) while I'm working, which means that have big chunks of listening time. Mostly it's all about tunes, but I also like to do some learnin' too.

I've got Buddhist talks by people like the Venerable Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There's quite a few podcasts loaded too. The once weekly surfing podcast 'In the Lineup' has a place of honor. A German podcast called, 'Schlaflos in Munchen' fills quite a few megabytes and gets regular listening.

The other day, I was going to download an audiobook of Samuel Beckett's, 'Waiting For Godot.' For some reason I decided to Google Beckett to see if there were any free recordings of any of his plays or monologues. There were indeed. Downloading ensued. What also happened is that I stumbled on Little did I know that it would suck me in for a couple of hours and leave me wanting more.

So, that's what precipitated the New York state of mind. There's quite a bit of art and things about art there - everything from recordings of Marcel Duchamp, Gertrude Stein (click here for an MP3 taste) and Yoko Ono, to short avant gard films, a John Lennon diary, and works of Arabic calligraphers (like the one above called 'Paix et Liberte').

It's worth a look and some time if you're interested in art or just want to expand your mind a bit. If nothing else, check out the section dedicated to Aspen magazine - it's a time capsule of the art world in the late 50s and early 60s. Each issue contained articles, artwork and music. One cool example is this piece by the poet Gary Snyder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Travis McGee

It's funny the stuff that is important at a certain moment. Looked at an old journal and found thoughts of an old girlfriend, tales from a high school reunion, all-night drunkeness at a Jimmy Buffett concert and a bunch of John McDonald quotes. I was on a big Travis McGee kick back then. Makes me want to pick up some of those old books and read them again.

I still like some of his down-to-earth observations wrapped neatly in pulp fiction of the highest caliber.

"The dividing line is communication, I think. A friend is someone to whom you can say any jackass thing that enters your mind. With acquaintances, you are forever aware of their slightly unreal image of you, and to keep them content, you edit yourself to fit." - Travis McGee, a character created by John McDonald.

And it's not just Travis spilling the pop philosophy. His sidekick Meyer is full of observations too. They're well known as Meyerisms.
"You never get a generous and delicious cocktail in a proper glass in a restaurant where the food is bad." - Meyer talking to Travis in 'Cinnamon Skin.'

Can't argue with that kind of logic. It works too.

I'm not even making it up

Here's a something for you Gregg... First off, Ghengis Khan was a filthy mess indeed. I thought of packing it in and heading back for a drink - or twenty - more than once.

Then, to make my night complete, on the freeway on the way to the Falls, I pull out my phone to see what kind of reception I was getting. Dave, the genius with me, gives me a typical 'huh?' look. I tell him I was curious what kind of reception I was getting because I needed to call my friend's parents in Germany and the night before I had crappy reception when I tried.

What followed nearly killed me. He's a nice kid and all, but sometimes I wonder.

"You're gonna call all the way to Germany with that?"

"Um, yeah..."

"Your phone can call that far?"

"What? Yeah."

"We're talking about the same Germany right? The one across the ocean?"

"Uh huh..."

"How can your signal be strong enough to go that far?"

You just can't make this shit up. And he's old enough to vote. Great...

For those of you that are worried that maybe I shirked my teaching duties, worry no more. I explained that all the little cel phones talk to the big cel phone towers and the towers can talk to each other and even know how to talk to regular phones.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reader's Digest

My weekend? So glad you asked. Saw some basketball, had some St. Patty's Day fun, and hooked a turntable to my computer so I could put some old surf albums on my hard drive. Yup, it was pretty much on-the-edge excitement.

Current favorite quote from a cheesy movie on USA network:

"Where were all the hot 35 year old women when I was 16?"

"We were all 16 too..."

Obviously, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Friday, March 17, 2006's just me

Do you remember where you were when the Trade Center towers were hit by hijacked airplanes? I do. I remember the shock of seeing it on television. My television stayed on for a week solid before I finally had to turn it off.

I remember the fear that was in the air too. Was something else going to happen? Were we too wide open and inviting for terrorists to pass up? I had fears and doubts myself, but I wasn't going to stayed locked in my house because terrorists might attack the United States again. I took a plane to Europe two months after the attacks and never felt more than a twinge of anxiety.

Does that make me brave? Not really. The simple facts were that it was pretty unlikely that the plane I was on would be hijacked. It's still a long, long shot.

Many people didn't feel that way though. The concern was tangible. You could feel it in the air, hear it in conversations, and see it in the less crowded airports. People then were willing to trade some freedoms to feel safer. Longer lines and security checkpoints were a small price to pay for increased security. They still are...

Unless, there isn't increased security.

Just a thought, but if I'm going to be taking my shoes off and getting patted down, then I would like the security boobs to at least be able to detect things like bombs and bomb-making supplies.

If you want to pretend you're safer when you board an airplane now, then don't read this article. If you're wondering how well all those millions of dollars are being spent, then read on McDuff...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

That's just great

This is a story that's a couple weeks old, but telling nontheless. The very premise of 'security' is a crock - perhaps this is a little reminder of that.

No really...y'all, we would've been screwed if we had of voted for that Kerry guy. Thank the baby Jeezus we got the competent folks of the Bush administration running things in this time of war. And thank the swaddling lord that we have the Department of Homeland Security to keep us safe.

Wow...does this make for yet another 'You're doing a heckofava job Brownie' moment or what?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Match Point

So, I finally went and saw 'Match Point' the other night. Scarlett Johansson in a Woody Allen return to art film, of course it was on the list of movies to see. Great reviews just added to the desire. I've been wanting to see it since before it came out, but it ran on so few screens that I never got the chance.

Anyway, I watched and found myself disappointed.

"This is a great movie?" I thought. "This is the triumphant return of Woody Allen to top form? This is Scarlett pushing the bounderies of art?"

Needless to say, the answers in my mind weren't affirmative.

But then I stopped for a drink on the way home. And as I sat there, sipping a vodka and cranberry, I thought about the movie. The weaving of Dostoyevsky into the plot. The framework of tragic opera. Crime and punishment, melodrama, rich and poor, love and lust...basically, the human condition.

The thoughts continued to churn long after the first drink, past the second, past the ride home and well into sleep.

So, maybe it really was a great movie...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's all Greek to me would never happen. The U.S. government would never do something like tap the phones of Greek government officials. Or would they?

Must be some more of that unbridled paranoia of mine. Well, if it's least we've been protected from those jihad-lovin' Greeks.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I want my freedoms kept intact

“It is fundamental that the great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation’s foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action.

“The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.... In no other way can we transmit to posterity unimpaired the blessings of liberty, consecrated by the sacrifices of the Revolution.” - Justice Arthur Goldberg, Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez (a case about draft evasion).

This is from a an address given by Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, back in October of 2001 to Associated Press Managing Editors Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the address he explains why he stood alone among U.S. Senators and voted against the poorly named 'Patriot Act.'

How ironic that I'm represented in Washington by both the prick, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, who wrote the Act and also one of the few men to oppose it.

Anyway, the full address is worth a read. One thing worth noting is the early mentions of the FISA Court and how it may be abused by law enforcement agencies. Surprisingly, even the loose standards needed to obtain a warrant from that court were deemed too rigid by president Bush, who simply chose to ignore the need to follow the law.

What an amazing legacy this president is leaving behind. During his Caesarlike reign, he has allowed terrorists to strike our country and fly airplanes into some of the largest buildings in the world. He has failed to find and bring to justice those responsible.

One of Washington's most visible lobbyists and a big supporter of the President and the Republican party has been indicted and faces multiple criminal charges.

His Vice President has been implicated in revealing the identity of a CIA agent for political reasons and the chief of staff of said Vice President faces a felony charge stemming from the incident.

The U.S. House majority leader is under indictment and is facing criminal charges.

In the first great test of how ready the country is to face a major catastrophy, the newly created Department of Homeland Security failed on a grand scale when faced with a natural disaster. How much faith do you really have in this Department to either provide security or to respond to any large-scale emergency? How will they respond to a 'dirty bomb' in a major city, or an attack on our food or water supply?

Despite increased security measures at airports, they are not much more secure now than they were before the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the commision charged with investigating what went wrong and why the attacks were succesful condemned the lack of preparation and failure to head repeated warnings that a terrorist strike was imminent. The commision believes so strongly that this administration hasn't done enough to ensure the security of this nation since the report was first released, that they have stayed together and formed a group to push for reforms.

Our ports are still not secure and have yet to receive the funds and direction needed to make them secure.

The President has allowed the systematic movement of people from areas that don't allow torture to countries that do allow torture while continuing to say that the U.S. doesn't torture anyone. We're continuing to imprison people in Cuba without charging them with any crimes and the President is continuing to push for less and less legal options to be afforded to those held.

The deficit has grown beyond any previous record amounts and continues to mount as we continue to pay for a 'war' without any plans for success. In fact, the President hasn't even given the country an outline of what might be considered a successful conclusion. The idea is apparently to just keep on plugging away and we'll know when we're done when we're done.

The President still faces allegations that he and his staff misled Congress before sending troops to Iraq. Certainly, the main reasons given for going have been proven to be groundless. And now, even the revisionist explanation of freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny is being questioned.

And still the drumbeat goes on.

The 'Patriot Act' will is still in place and more and more little liberties are being eroded in the name of fighting terrorism. If you trust the government, then this is probably not much of a concern to you. If, like me, you don't trust the government to act in your best interests then you're probably concerned.

Maybe you believe that removing your shoes at the airport makes the airways more secure. In that case, you needn't concern yourself. But if you believe that employing screeners slightly higher qualified and paid than the person handing you a Happy Meal at the drive thru isn't much of safeguard, then you should probably be a bit worried.


The American way of life will continue, but what will it be a decade from now if we give away the very things that make it the American Way?

And, if I don't raise my voice and express my concerns that we're heading the wrong way, then I'm as guilty as the people driving when we arrive at the wrong destination.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oh that's it, huh?

Just the other day I was trying to remember the music I was listening to on purpose in the 80s - as opposed to what the radio gave me. It was a tough task.

Some stuff is easy to remember. I liked The Clash and U2 a lot. I also listened to a lot of punk and new wave back then. It was easy to do since KROQ was the radio station I dialed to. I found some lists of the top KROQ-played songs from then and it made me remember that there was a lot more new wave than punk hitting my eardrums.

Then I came across an old list I made back in the day (or more honestly - back in the decade). I think it was some ideas for a party tape. Crazy to think about the effort it used to take to make a mix. It's amazing that we ever did it at all. It took me a while, but I can remember most (but certainly not all) of my arcane scratchings and ratings.

And once again it seems that my life was probably more pop than punk, but I'm okay with that. It's hard to tell if I was leaving out some of my favorites of the time in an attempt to keep it toned down, or if it was before I really got to like bands like Fear, Circle Jerks and Black Flag. But I'm pretty sure it was a list for a fraternity party tape...hence the 'D's', which I'm pretty sure refer to 'danceable'.

Mostly, it was a list of groups that I haven't heard in a long while. I could actually find most of them on iTunes though. Some hold up pretty well. was the 80s.

As much as I like the old tunes, I'm glad that my music growth didn't end there. And I hope it doesn't end here either.

Anyway, that was just part of the memory lane trip I got today when I opened a box of old stuff. Potent stuff, memories.

I found a calendar that chronicled my last months in L.A. and my first months in Oregon - a time at the end of junior year and the start of senior year. My last kiss with Nancy was there. And my first kiss with Becky. Sneaking out to a cast party with my friend Eric was there in a note to make sure to pick him up...or else.

Freshman year social studies was there too - represented by note writing back and forth with Missy Conn. She couldn't decide which she liked case you were wondering.

Well, there it was - one box, a hundred memories.

I'm glad for that past and miss it sometimes. But I'm also glad for now and the to be. I wonder what my boxes of the future will hold...


Two tests later...I am apparently "An Idealist" and "Scooter". Go figure.

Your Personality Is

Idealist (NF)

You are a passionate, caring, and unique person.
You are good at expressing yourself and sharing your ideals.

You are the most compassionate of all types and connect with others easily.
Your heart tends to rule you. You can't make decisions without considering feelings.

You seek out other empathetic people to befriend.
Truth and authenticity matters in your friendships.

In love, you give everything you have to relationships. You fall in love easily.

At work, you crave personal expression and meaning in your career.

With others, you communicate well. You can spend all night talking with someone.

As far as your looks go, you've likely taken the time to develop your own personal style.

On weekends, you like to be with others. Charity work is also a favorite pastime of yours.

You Are Scooter

Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.
You're always willing to lend a helping hand.
In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.
"15 seconds to showtime!"