No one, including God, said life was easy

by effenheimer at 02:48 PM on May 31, 2003

Remember that kid in “American Beauty” who said “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it – like my heart’s going to cave in,” do you? I feel just like that except “Sometimes there’s so much stupidity in the world I feel like I can’t take it – like my heads gonna pop clean off and explode in a cloud of pink mist.”
A Muslim woman in Florida, Sultaana Freeman, is suing the state of Florida because they revoked her driver’s license. They revoked her driver’s license because in her photo she was veiled head to toe in a burka and refused to replace the picture with one showing her face. The only thing visible is about a two-inch strip across the eyes.
Freeman’s argument is that the state is violating her right to religious freedom because a photograph of her naked face would violate the Quran ... according to her interpretation. Of course, according to some interpretations of the Quran, Freeman shouldn’t be driving a car in the first place so ...
I am also guessing that in some parts of the world where more extreme forms of Islam are practiced, women don’t have access to the courts either and are supposed to let their fathers and husbands do their fighting for them, but religion is all about cherry picking I suppose.
This is not a violation of religious freedom so much as it is a conflict of interest and that is all on Freeman. Many people have some pretty wacky ideas stemming from their religious beliefs. Can we be honest about that? Polygamy, statutory rape, pre-arranged marriages, no buttons, no electricity, blood sacrifice, levitation and so on. Many beliefs come into conflict with the larger culture and the state. The United States has gone back and forth on religious tolerance. We used to burn “witches,” we’ve outlawed long hair and earrings for men, we dogged Mormons for years and killed Ghost Dancers.
Today, we are pretty accommodating no matter what school prayer advocates say. We can believe whatever we want, we just can’ always do it anywhere we want. If you want to believe the world rests on the back of an enormous elephant riding the back of an even bigger turtle swimming in an infinite sea then go for it.
God is great and he may well have created the universe but the roadways are clearly created by and under the dominion of man. If the law says you have to have a picture I.D. to operate a car on publicly funded roads then that’s it and I think God supports that.
If you can’t abide by that, then your religion is what is keeping you from driving, not the state. If you believe something isn’t quite right with that, then it isn’t the state that’s wrong, but your religious doctrine. Q.E.D.

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More Songs About Buildings and Food

by anna at 07:39 PM on May 29, 2003

Word has it McDonald's has experienced a sharp downturn in traffic. I'm a bit surprised to hear this, since they've finally introduced an entree my touchy digestive system can handle---chicken salads.

These come highly recommended. Each features a niggardly amount of warm, tender chicken strips atop an eclectic array of greens, shaved carrots and cherry tomatoes. One boasts real chunks of bacon, not those awful salad-bar Bacon Bits. Portions are just right, enough to fill you up but not so much that you feel lethargic afterwards. I even delude myself into believing it's healthy cuisine.

But you know, it's always something. In this case it's the dressing. Don't get me wrong, I love Paul Newman's Ranch. Problem is they dole it out in this little packet that isn't quite enough to slather all over the salad. Then then chicken and bacon bits run out, leaving you with this pile of undressed greens. I feel like a rabbit rooting around in someone's garden eating this.

Once I mustered the temerity to request an extra packet. The cashier said it would cost me more, an offer I rebuffed on general principle. See, I hark back to the golden age of restaurant dining. When the customer was king and before the Doctrine of Portion Controlled Servings took hold. She glared at me as if I were a cheapskate, just as I did her for begrudging me sufficient salad dressing.

So there I slouch, poking at my pile of undressed greens with a cheesy plastic fork. I try to concentrate on my crossword to no avail. I'm so perturbed by the dressing issue that I can't even finish it. Then a revelation dawned on me. I'll strike a symbolic blow against corporate imperialism! With that I stand up and bolt, leaving my mess for somebody else to deal with. I could feel the burning eyes upon me. Before my furtive departure, this exchange took place:

Me: Doesn't it bother you that they don't provide enough salad dressing?
Other Patron: Not really. I put half of it on the top layer and save the rest for the bottom.
Me: But what about when there's no chicken left?
Other Patron: That never happens. I cut it up beforehand.
Me: With that cheesy plastic fork?
Other Patron: Dude, you ask a lot of questions.

Most of you young whippersnappers may not realize this, but this used to be the norm. You'd wolf down your greasy burger, freedom fries and leave your mess for the busboy to clean up. With any luck he might even wipe down the table. Then one day Mickey D's posted signs urging diners to bus their own tables. Other joints swiftly followed suit. Busboys were fired by the thousands. The downfall of Western civilization had commenced. Yet nary a peep of protest was heard.

Well, I'm not going along with it anymore. Now if y'all will just follow my lead and encourage others to do the same, we could force them to rehire those busboys. We'd curtail rising unemployment and moon Corporate America in one fell swoop. Sure, they'll pass the cost onto consumers but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

Are you with me on this?

comments (9)


Think you better turn your ticket in, get your money back at the door

by anna at 06:50 PM on May 27, 2003

In my last post I speculated about a possible link between my recent bout with the blahs and the endless torrent of rain. Since then I’ve been boning up about that ultimate bellwether of depression, suicide rates. Allow me to share what I’ve learned.

Prior to embarking on my search, I formulated some hypotheses: 1) Areas that get a lot of precipitation would have higher suicide rates. 2) Densely populated areas would have higher suicide rates. I based this on the well-documented Crowded Rat Syndrome. 3) Places with high levels of diversity would have higher rates, because natives start to feel as if strangers in their own land. 4) Poor people are more likely to kill themselves. Alas, all these suppositions turned out to be more or less false.

The nation’s perennial suicide leaders are Nevada, which is an arid desert, and Alaska, which has among its lowest population densities and highest per capita incomes. Neither populace is particularly diverse. Indeed, one sees the lowest rates in the Northeast, where people are packed in like cordwood and total diversity is a reality. Yes, suicide is far more common in the hinterlands than urban metropolises. Go figure.

White men commit suicide the most. Yet they are by far the most affluent group. And while this may seem counterintuitive, it’s easily explained. My theory is that one develops a certain adversity tolerance threshold (ATT.) The more trouble you’ve endured, the more likely you are to take setbacks in stride. And rolling with the punches is one key to avoiding intractable depression.

Likewise, the loftier your aspirations the more apt you are to be sorely disappointed. And the busier you are eking out a meager existence, the less time you have to wallow in self-pity. My guess is that primitive societies don't even have a word for suicide.

Lastly, blacks have always had a built-in outlet known as the blues. By contrast, white musicians bring you the pent-up angst and outright hostility of Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine. When my daughters lived her, that music was enough to drive me to the brink of cashing out.

You’ve got to be careful when drawing conclusions from suicide data, however. For example, single people kill themselves more often than married folk. One could easily infer that singles are lonesome and miserable due to their lack of a mate. But you must also consider the chicken-and-egg question. Maybe the types of people who are unable to or disinterested in securing a mate are the same personalities prone to defeatism, internalizing misery and resultant suicide.

Nonetheless, the fact remains that continuous rain is crushingly depressing; as is chronic poverty and overcrowding. Ditto for the impression that your once homogenous environs are being overrun by swarms of immigrants with no intention of assimilating into the general population. Yet, for whatever reason, those subjected to these conditions day in day out seldom go so far as take their own lives. Indeed, only 30,000 Americans sucumb to their suicidal urges each year. Perhaps my ATT theory holds true after all.

I myself find this data fascinating, especially the fact that while women attempt suicide more often, men succeed way more frequently. Though I have no idea what to infer from that information. Maybe you do.

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Smart is sexy as long as you have a great ass too

by effenheimer at 11:07 AM on May 27, 2003

13,000 Florida high school seniors won’t be graduating this year because they failed a standardized test meant to determine if the 13 years they spent receiving an education meant anything. One in 11 students taking the test failed it, in spite of having five chances over three years, but administrators are still jazzed by high success rates.

Statewide protests are planned by leaders of Florida’s black community who are calling for boycotts of the Florida Lottery, the state’s citrus industry and its major theme parks, among other measures. This seems short-sighted. If these kids couldn’t graduate from high school, winning the lottery, picking oranges or working at Disney World might be their next best option until they pass this test.

While speaking a foreign language should absolve one from passing a standardized test in English, the vast majority of these Florida kids are just losers. In England, it is accepted that college isn’t for everyone. In fact, it is accepted that HIGH SCHOOL isn’t for everyone. But in America, we believe in pushing our luck.

I’d like to see a day when everyone who graduates from high school deserves it. Hell, I’d like to see a day when people who get their driver’s licenses deserve that too. I guess I’ll just wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one gets fill up first.

When I went to ISU, there was a name for people who respected learning and used college as an opportunity to study instead of an opportunity to extend childhood another 5 or 6 years. They were called Chinese. Many of them found lucrative work in the United States upon graduation. Good thing for it, too. There are problems in this world that will need solved one day and we will need their brain power. I fear for a future where we rely more on our ability to buy foreign smart guys than our ability to produce them ourselves.

We need to get our love of learning on. There is a culture of “cool idiocy” out there at all levels of American society fostered by images of successful, sexy doofuses. On every channel, Dumb is sexy and it’s better to be good-looking than smart. I say, let's turn that around.

Yeah, that'll happen.

comments (6)


There's no sex in your violence

by anna at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2003

Somebody's going to get shot soon in Salt Lake City, Utah. Five gunmen will open fire on a shackled, defenseless man. How do I know this? Well, I'm psychic. But seriously, the state has arranged it. Evidently it's like, a Mormon tradition to punish killers with actual bloodshed. More astounding still, these guys chose this method to die.

This sort of thing irks death penalty opponents to no end. They get far more worked up over it than they do over lethal injection, electrocutions or even the occasional hanging (still an option in Washington, Delaware and New Hampshire.) And while I fully understand their emotional reaction, logically speaking, it's a fallacy. Surefire death via firing squad is more efficient and less likely to be botched than either of the favored methods.

Still, you can bet they'll turn out in droves to protest. They'll tote vigil candles by the crateful. They'll sing an off-key rendition of We Shall Overcome. Nothing will be overcome. These two will be shot on schedule. There'll be no Executioner's Song made about them either.

One wonder what manner of fits they'd pitch were Utah to follow the lead of our pals in Saudi Arabia; where the disgraceful practice of stoning remains a popular pastime. Hollering "God is great," maniacal Arabs hurl jagged stones at neighbors buried up to their chins in sand. God may be great but rest assured He doesn't condone this sort of savagery.

Afterwards they'll retire to their hovels to ride herd over their hapless harems and puff on hookahs. Tomorrow they'll lash an adultress or topple a wall onto a homosexual, or else lop off a thief's hand. Winona Ryder's lucky she lives in LA rather than Riyadh. 400 hours of community service may be a grueling ordeal but at least she's still got all her limbs intact.

You might have heard about the Taliban's variation. Under their tyranny, citizens were obliged to shoot their kin's killers personally as thousands cheered. It's an interesting self-knowledge lesson to consider how you might react under those surreal circumstances. I myself would probably flinch, because shooting someone who is kneeling before you begging for mercy runs counter to everything I've ever been taught. Same goes for shooting anyone, period.

Tim McVeigh's last words were some gibberish about remaining the master of his destiny until the bitter end. He never repented. To his credit, I suppose, he maintained some measure of dignity. Yet turnout for his vigil proved suspiciously sparse. More people turn up to see the woebegone Detroit Tigers play. Many more candleholders will no doubt show for the Utah shootings. Might this imply some degree of selectivity on the part of death penalty opponents, as if they're willing to make exceptions sometimes? Or perhaps everyone just had prior commitments when the US rubbed out McVeigh. But either way, the fact remains that they didn't show up.

I only dwell on such contradictory things when I'm feeling down. It must be this relentless rain. The sky is so weary that it no longer rains, it just mists.

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You're much too young girl

by anna at 09:46 PM on May 22, 2003

Today I had to be at work on time. I ironed my clothes last night and everything. So I'm on the road and what do I encounter but the dreaded school bus. Just before it comes to a stop I whizz by it.

Lo and behold there'd be another gaggle of kids waiting for the bus at the next intersection. Traffic is such that that I have a chance to observe them. Two girls are behind a shrub changing their clothes. Both emerged just in time for the the bus's arrival, looking like miniature Christina Aguilera clones. I assumed that their mom-approved outfits were stuffed into their bookbags, along with their sensible shoes.

This disconcerting sight got me wondering about a number of things. These girls are my son's age, and I wondered if they intended to entice the likes of him. Or if they were just innnocent and ignorant of the effect such outfits are bound to have on young boys such as mine.

We see the sexualization of young hussies everywhere you look, from the The Lizzie McGuire Show to The Amanda Show and the resulting movies. I guess my question is whether this is a good thing and if not, what can be done about it?

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One Enchanted Evening

by anna at 07:01 PM on May 20, 2003

Preachy Bill Bennett's gambling problem reminded me of our ill-fated jaunt to Atlantic City. We got lost in New Jersey. I asked a toll booth guy if he knew how we could get to the AC Expressway. He said, "Dat's for people dat go dare" and promptly turned away. It was all downhill from there.

Upon arrival we were denied entrance to a casino due to our sleeping baby in a papoose. No kids allowed, no exceptions. Never mind that he couldn't pull a slot machine lever let alone roll dice. My wife and I agree that she'll bring him back to the room and I'll gamble. Then we'll switch places.

We're very successful at roulette. Rather than strew chips willy-nilly across the board, we stick with one number (23) and concentrate our side-bets around it. You lose the frequent thrill of having the marker placed on a stack of your chips but in the long run, it is an effective if plodding strategy. Once we got ahead, we quit. To avoid temptation we don't stay at the casino.

Before long towering stacks of $5 chips are piled in front of me. I'm risking $50 on every spin and tipping the waitress $5 for each free drink. Casino officials start approaching me about comp offers that I refuse. A small group is gathered to watch me soak the casino. A gal asked me for my secret. "Just lucky, I guess," I reply. I can feel security cams zeroing in on me.

Despite all my good fortune I feel disenchanted and lonely. I'm painfully aware of the frosty reception awaiting me back at the room. I'm plagued by guilt pangs. On top of that I notice a large, imposing dude staring at me. Soon enough he sidles up and confides that he's had a run of bad luck. I try to ignore him but he's damn persistent. Eventually I slide him a $25 chip just to to get him out of my face. Bad move---I might as well have fed a stray cat. All told he bled me for $75, which he squandered on 3 losing side-bets.

Between my nagging guilt and being hounded by this leach, my gambling experience is ruined. I'm inclined to quit while I'm ahead to the tune of $1,400, but that would entail going down into a dimly lit parking parking garage with that sum in my pocket. Meanwhile the high-rolling beggar is leering at me as if a hyena coveting a lion's kill. So I have the dealer summon security, which arrives in the form of a sawed-off wisp of a lad with pimples and peach fuzz on his chin. Hardly what I had in mind but by then I just needed to escape. My wife had been stuck with our fussy infant for four hours.

So we're in the elevator, me with $1,400 in cash, the scrawny, unarmed punk who's supposedly protecting me and the high-rolling beggar. As it comes to rest the punk bids me a fond adieu, after a snide comment about why I didn't simply stay at the casino-hotel complex ans save myself all this bother. I'm left alone with my nemesis. We walk through the garage without a word. All the while I'm expecting him to produce a switchblade and relieve me of my bounty. And the last thing I needed was to arrive at that emotionally charged motel room empty-handed.

He broke the stony silence as I approached my car: "What's a matter you, little man? You look like you figure I'm out to rob you." "That thought never crossed my mind," I lied.

My wife was less than amused at my anticlimactic tale of woe. Turns out the baby had bawled the whole time and gnawed her raw. We drove home that night in abject silence, never to return.

Thank God for online casinos. No more choking on clouds of second-hand smoke or the odor of nervous sweat. And best of all, no intimidating panhandlers to spoil your evening.

Online or brick 'n mortar, casinos have a built-in edge. Play long enough and you're sure to lose. Given that, I have no idea how they get away with excluding so-called card-counters. These customers are nothing more than skilled blackjack players. Yet they're treated like pariahs at gambling Meccas from AC to Reno. It's like a beauty contest where the cutest chicks are barred from participating.

comments (7)


On The Road

by snaggle at 03:18 PM on May 18, 2003

As much as I bemoan the American love affair with the car as being the major obstacle standing in the way of efficient and cost-effective mass transit in this country, I have to admit: sometimes having your own car is really convenient. Sometime in the next month, when I’ve taken care of pressing business and such, I’m going to have a Kerouac-esque journey across half the country and back again. The purpose of my voyage is multifold. First of all, I’m going to go to L.A. to visit my best friend Jeffy. Then I’m going to Scottsdale, Arizona to visit my sister. Along the way, I’ll have a lot of time to myself for reflection and contemplation, something I’ve needed for a while. Since I’ll be in Rome next semester, constantly with other people, this little trip may need to tide me over for a while. On the way, I’m also going to shoot a lot of photos to document my journey and also some of the general things on the way. I haven’t spent much time further west than I am; mostly I go north or east, so I will hopefully be seeing with new eyes.

In keeping with the multiple purpose of my roadtrip, this post has multiple purposes. First of all, if any of you have recommendations of interesting things to see on the route from Ames, Iowa, to L.A., on to Scottsdale, and then back to Iowa, let me know. Also, I am in desperate need of new music to listen to. I’d be very grateful if any of you would like to make some recommendations for good music I should find. I’ve recently been introduced to the Get Up Kids, Jimmy Eat World, and oh my god. I also need to get the new Alkaline Trio album. If you know anything I should find, let me know; if you can provide sample mp3s or, even better, a CD for me, I could die a happy boy. If any of you want to make me a CD, I would respond in kind.

Lastly, if any of you happen to live on the way, or at least reasonably so, and would like to meet the loon behind these posts, let me know as well and we can arrange to have a cup of coffee or a meal or somesuch.

Here’s to the journey.

comments (16)


I know it's not my turn but the wife and kid are gone and I am bored

by anna at 07:08 PM on May 17, 2003

I haven't seen The Matrix Reloaded. Nor have I seen the original. Ditto for all the Star Wars sequels and prequels, Spider-man, X-man stuff or anything related to Tolkien's old stories about elfs or something. I'm not interested in fantasy, 'cuz I've got too much of that running through my head at any given moment. To watch that kind of shit would only confuse me further.

But I am not here to talk about movies per se. I am here to talk about the central premise of the Matrix trilogy i.e. that computers have taken over the world and are harvesting humans strictly for energy purposes. Supposedly they've provided some form of virtual reality to keep the natives from getting restless. In essense, a rehash of Plato's allegory about the cave, which was written 5000 years ago.

These are no new ideas.

These notions are also erroneous and in my view dangerously so. To confront your enemy you must know him well. Technology, specifically artificial intelligence, might have seemed like a major threat back in '99 when they dreamed up The Matrix. But it isn't anymore. Low-tech teorrists equipped with box-cutters are our enemy, not programmers
I'll tell you what the real Matrix is: The symbiotic relationship between government, big business interests and the media. Each feeds off the other's needs to fulfill their own. And it becomes an endless cycle of so-called events, reaction thereto and then forgetting all about it as soon as something else of mild interest comes along. The viewing public has thus become apathetic and numbed to just about anything short of a Sept 11 conflagration and that is all by design.

Al Qaeda terrorists have struck with devastating efficiency in Morocco and Saudi Arabia in the last week. Hundreds are dead or maimed for no reason, other than that the perpetrators want you to accept their hypocritical world view. How moved were you? Most likely you read about it, shook your head in disbelief and moved on to the next item on CNN.com. For you've been conditioned to believe that this sort of outrage is totally normal and more importantly, that there's not a damn thing you personally can do about it. Better to trust the worldgovernment, big business and media to keep the mayhem within tolerable limits. Fat chance, I'm afraid.

I guess I'm rambling and should cut this short. But you all do need to consider that there may be a real Matrix out there, one that threatens to deaden your normal human responses to horrors like this, just like in the trilogy of silly movies you'll pay to see.

Of course, with respect to the movies, I am relying strictly on reviews. I can't handle theaters anymore. Tonight's viewing will include Jagged Edge and The Accidental Tourist, both obtained on eBay for under $5. God bless my wife for bidding on such outdated items.

Love you Nan.

comments (8)


Hot dogs ... they're what's for dinner

by effenheimer at 05:51 PM on May 16, 2003

So there I was sitting at my desk trying to think of a column topic when it was announced that a public barbecue was being held across the street in the park. Steak sandwiches and burgers. "Do they have hot dogs?" I inquired.
"Who above the age of 4 eats hotdogs?" ask one of our paginators.
"What the fuck are you talking about," I replied with a question of my own. "Hot dogs rock you filthy whore."
"Yeah right," she said. To that, I had nothing to say.
Suffice it to say, hot dogs are the perfect food. I like mine in the old working class fashion, wrapped in a slice of bread. Some people find this declasse. I figure eating a hot dog is declasse to begin with and most buns suck ass. Oh sure, you can get good ones, but they are often way too much bread and too damn expensive. No, for my money, give me a nice slice of multi-grain or potato Healthy Choice, somethine with oats in in it that I can pile tomatoes, cheese, relish, mustard and onions onto it and not have the bun split which just pisses me off no end.

While the beef industry would have us believe that cow flesh is what’s for dinner, anyone with a microwave and a loaf of bread knows that for a quick, delicious protein supplement, nothing beats a weiner. Now, I’m not talking about those disgusting, soft turkey franks that look and taste like Play Dough, I’m talking about quality pork and beef dogs like Wimmer’s or Hebrew Nationals. Dress it up with a bit of mustard or go all Chicago on that dog with lettuce, tomato, gherkins, hot peppers and celery salt. Boiled, nuked, grilled or fried, hot dogs are not just for kids. Anyone who hates hot dogs is probably a communist.

Hot dogs, not just perfect ... patriotic.

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Quest for Fire Boy

by effenheimer at 05:33 PM on May 16, 2003

One more anti-poem from the vaults.


Quest for Fire Boy

My one and only failure
is the sight of your genitalia.
It's a primary sexual stimulus,
Don't blame me for gettin' curious.
I'm just a Neanderthal who can't say no,
to making love at the water hole!
When you're drinking, with your friends,
I can see, your rear-ends.
Gets me thinking, "Now's my chance!
to have some fun and grab some ass!"

Prehistorically, that is
Natural selection
No protection

Australopithecus, Homo Erectus,
Neolithic, Pleistocene,
Evolution, for guys like us,
is one hell of a scene!

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Hit me with your best shot, fire away

by anna at 09:34 AM on May 16, 2003

Surely you remember the Beltway Snipers, who terrorized a swath of land from Baltimore, MD to Richmond, VA. Their bloody exploits mushroomed into an international story. Then came the run-up to the war and media put the snipers on its back burner.

Here in the DC area, however, the saga continues. These are the latest absurd developments: 18 year old Lee Boyd Malvo, an avowed vegetarian, does not care for the veggie-burgers his jailers serve. He also complains vociferously about jailhouse conditions, as though it isn't a huge step up from living in a $250 jalopy with a man twice his age. Damn ingrate.

Malvo is being held in the Fairfax County jail. Having pumped gas at one of his crime scenes, I've followed his case with interest. Also, he stands acccused of gunning down a defenseless woman from the grounds of my elementary school. His wily lawyers have come up with a novel ploy. They seek a change of venue, because he's charged with not only murder but committing an act of terrorism. Therefore every citizen of Fairfax County was a victim of his crime. Are you buying into this cockamamie theory?

Either way, I am here to tell you that we did indeed feel terrorized. One lady I knew would wait for a shooting to occur and then scurry out to run errands, figuring that lightning seldom strikes twice. In a way it was like the aftermath of Sept 11. Random politeness increased. Strangers would strike up sniper-related conversations from nearby restaurant tables. We all felt vulnerable as hell. I don't know that either Malvo or his sidekick John Muhammed could get a fair shake here.

Remember Chief Moose, the taciturn cop thrust into the limelight by these tragic events? Well, he's been back in the local news too. Turns out he wants to write a book but his employer will not allow him to profit from his experiences as a civil servant. He's thus been forced to sue the county. I myself hope he prevails.

Know this: Despite his tender age, Malvo is a goner. Like Timothy McVeigh, this guy might as well be a poster child for the pro-death penalty crowd. Still, I remain kind of ambivalent about the American-style death penalty. It's not so much that I object on moral grounds. Rather, I believe that justice unduly delayed is justice negated. The average stay on death row is twelve years. That's 13,140 square meals at taxpayer expense. It's also in stark contrast to China, where you are convicted and then marched out back and shot with no further ado. Now that's a deterrent!

For what it's worth, here's my wild-eyed proposal: End this patchwork deal whereby some states execute and others don't. Eliminate the blatant sexism in our application of the death penalty. Strictly define what sorts of cases qualify. Then provide each capital defendant with an O.J.-style Dream Team; sneaky ones with a proven track record of getting guilty persons off the hook. Equip them with all the requisite investigators and DNA geeks. Let them take their best shot at winning an acquital or cozy plea bargain at the trial court level. In return for this luxury few murderers could ever hope to afford, the defendant forfeits any right to appeal. Should he lose, then treat him or her Chinese-style. What do you think? Could such a policy have averted this wave of random murder and mayhem? Would we feel any safer?

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Small town life ... lessness.

by effenheimer at 10:52 AM on May 15, 2003

Like I've said, I work a smallish daily newspaper in a city of about 60,000 that serves southwest Iowa. I write features and columns, which are my first love and, frankly, priority. I'm the only columnist worth a shit at my paper, the rest are all about what you would expect talking about how to bake a fucking pie and what color their kid's poop is. As a gesture or pathetic attempt to make me think they were working to help me become syndicated, my paper started running me in a couple of other papers that we own.

Now those papers are in REALLY small towns with weekly papers that make my paper look like the New York Times by comparison. The only lefties in town work at the paper and like to run my stuff, but they are also torn because they know that if I write something about how it is wrong to have a white's only prom, it won't be well accepted out in the sticks where they consider a person of color to be an Irish guy with freckles.

So I wrote a piece about prom and in it I mentioned what is pretty much an undeniable fact that some kids have sex on prom. In fact, some kids use prom as an excuse to have sex for the first time. It's like a practice wedding and that means gettin' laid.

Well, apparently the good people of Shenandoah (how perfect is that?) were so concerned by this revelation that they had to put it on the agenda at the next city council meeting. Apparently, they thought that in a town of a few thousand people that has NO CABLE and nothing else of interest to do that kids would somehow be LESS tempted to screw than if they had ANY KIND OF DISTRACTION WHATSOEVER! It strains reason frankly to think that in the 2k3 there are people who still think that the sticks are place where virtue lasts forever. If anything, more kids per capita screw and do drugs in the country and small towns than in large cities because the social network is so much tighter. Every kid knows every other kid. If there are 40 kids in your graduating class, nothing happens in a vacuum. If one girl discovers sex, you can bet every guy in school will know about it and want a piece. This will in turn make every other girl realize that if she wants a boyfriend she "better give up the goods." Next thing you know, the seniors are plucking the juniors, the juniors are plucking the sophomores and so on and so forth.

There is this stereotype that life is good and pure in the sticks. I have never known that to be true.

So now, in an attempt to practice my skills of manipulation, I will give the good folks of Shenandoah their own column filled top to bottom with all the bullshit aphorisms they like to hear. Hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Drinking coffee at the diner listening to the wisdom of the ages courtesy of the local farmers. Going to church on Sundays... and Wednesdays ... and whatever other night people go to church. Swimming out to the old fishin' hole and bangin' fat Debbie Gronstal in her dad's tractor shed, the smell of diesel fuel igniting our senses.

comments (8)


I wish the real world would just stop hassling me

by anna at 07:09 PM on May 14, 2003

As usual my grueling 14 mile commute takes me an hour. I stop to pick up a six pack of Natural Light. It occurs to me that one of those would taste good about now. So against all better judgment I pop one open and sneak a stealthy gulp. I put the can between my legs because my car lacks a cupholder. I'm three miles from home.

I approach the last stoplight and veer into the left hand turn lane. The light has just turned yellow so I speed up and make it through with seconds to spare. A siren wails as colored lights flash. I go into panic mode, stashing the open beer between the passenger seat and the console. I covered it with a newspaper.

Cop#1 pokes his shaven head into my car and says he smells alcohol. He also noted that the six-pack was missing one can. I allowed that I'd opened it and took one sip. On this basis he orders me from the vehicle to undergo a rigorous series of sobriety tests, including one where I stood on one leg flamingo-style and recited the alphabet. My performance met with his grudging satisfaction. He administered the breath test, which I passed with flying colors. Bear in mind that this all took place outside Big K-Mart with my neighbors whizzing by and waving at me. It was the 21st century equivalent of being put in stocks and flogged in the town square. Cop#2 never exited the cruiser. Did I mention that they were bicycle cops? I'm sorry but I just can't respect any cop who tools around town on a bicycle. Also, Cop#1 lectured me and was rude and disrespectful. Eventually he wrote me a ticket for running a red light, failing to wear a seat belt and "drinking while driving." Not an open container offense, which can be be dealt with via mailing a check.

A conviction on the latter count would of course cause my insurance rates to skyrocket. I'd become what Jay Leno called an outdoor wine enthusiast. Insurance companies hate reckless people like me, even though I work in the industry.

The courtroom was packed beyond capacity. It was a multiethnic cattle call shepherded by a phalanx of lawyers and interpreters. The chaotic situation in Iraq would seem orderly by comparison. Here's how it went: The judge first weeded out the easy cases. Then he disposed of cases where plea bargains had been hastily ironed out in the hallway. This process left a handful of diehards who actually wanted their day in court. Both the remaining cops and the judge looked upon us with palpable disdain.

My bicyclist accusers testified and it was clear they'd made sure their stories matched to a tee. According to their revised version both officers had participated in my interrogation, testing and citation. Both had personally seen the taboo open beer. A sense of impending doom set in as I envisioned my future dwelling in an appliance box.

But I did get a chance to cross-examine and I ripped these liars new assholes. I asked if they were absolutely sure they'd seen the can. Both said yes. I then asked what brand it was. Both said Michelob. Where did they see the Michelob? In the non-existent cupholder, both testified under oath. I turned to the breath test, asking what the results were. To my shock Cop#1 said his notes didn't reflect that information. I pounced: "Given that you signed this warrant charging me with drinking while driving don't you think that's the least bit relevent?" I then negated Cop#2's corraborative testimony by establishing that he sat there staring blankly into space the whole time. Lastly I asked them why they didn't pour out the alleged beer they'd seen. By that point a stony silence was all they could muster.

The judge looked on with interest piqued at the sudden influx of drama into his mundane traffic court hell. I told him all I can afford is Natural Light. I also produced a picture of the interior of my car that refuted their cupholder theory. He cleared me of all charges and asked to speak with the lying cops privately afterwards. Their glares at me were priceless. With a curt rap of his gavel the judge cleared me of all charges, even though I was guilty of all.

Like O.J. after his baffling exoneration, I basked in the triumphant glow of my The Practice moment. And you can bet I'll never commit that blunder again. Now if we could only be so sure he won't lop off somebody else's head.

comments (12)


Ode to a Crack Whore

by effenheimer at 05:09 PM on May 14, 2003

Remember this one, MG?


Ode to a Crack Whore

You're on the pipe and that's alright,
I think I love you crack whore.
No ordinary hooker you,
Give me some sugar, sweet baboo.
Crabs and scabs and rotten crotch?
The sores on your lips, they bother me not.
At 3 A.M. you're on the street,
Who are you waiting to meet?
Why do I love you, I cannot say?
You are wild, impetuous, free and gay.
You'd do anything for some crack,
Supporting your habit on your back.
I can't change you, no need to try,
You don't care if you die.
Your beauty comes from a different aesthetic.
You smoke and drink and wax prophetic,
About life as you see it, dark and seedy,
Lonely, boring, skanky, and needy.

Fast forward: the inevitable heartbreak ...

Spurned and burned, shunned and ignored,
You've left me alone you dirty whore!
What's he have that I don't?
What'll he do that I won't?
He smacks you around and treats you like shit,
I think you deserve whatever you get.
He says he loves you more'n me,
That's not true, he's just horny,
And greedy and dirty and stupid, too!
Ulterior motives for wanting you.
When you're on the street, fucked up and desperate,
Don't come to me to get you out of it.
Been down that road, once or twice, yes,
No more patience to support your vices.
You are a slut and a loser,
Perpetual victim and user.
If I could have whatever I wanted,
It would be you, forever haunted,
Knowing what you passed by,
Just to get laid and get high,
With the crap of the planet.
Kiss my ass, I hate you Janet!

comments (23)


On Power Trips

by snaggle at 01:44 PM on May 14, 2003

I have entertained the idea that, sometime in the future, after a stint in the “real world” of graphic design and then obtaining my M.F.A., I will return to the sheltering bosom of academia and impart my wisdom unto young, fresh minds eager to discover the new aesthetic and further champion the cause of visual thinking. Mayhaps this will even lead to a long and fruitful time as a teacher, complete with tenure and all that jazz. Maybe eventually, I will even become the head of the department, with my own staff and someone else who manages my schedule.

And then I’ll have the power to fire the asses of the likes of that bitch I had to deal with last week.

The head of our Art & Design department is very accessible; he’s always willing to talk to students, extremely friendly, and always looking out for us. I can’t say the same for the secretarial staff, however. Somehow, two of these four crones have taken it upon themselves to make our college experience just that much more stressful and seek to reduce us to squalling babes.

When I went into the office to speak with Roger, our chair, I had a list of topics I wanted to discuss with him regarding my academics and the fall semester, which I will be spending abroad in Rome, along with half our design class (huzzah!) I knew it would be easier to just go to the top immediately, rather than trying to weasel answers from others. The secretaries, on the other hand, decided that wasn’t going to happen. As I stepped into the office and asked to speak with Roger, one of the secretaries (we’ll call her Euryale) gave me a strange look and interrogated me on the reason why I wanted to see such an important and inaccessible man as Roger. I really had no desire to go into the details of my personal life that had precipitated this need to speak with him, so I made some vague comments that, unfortunately, must have sounded less than important to her. She slithered to the back room where the Gorgon sisters sacrifice small children to the Goddess of Bitchdom, and summoned the head crone (we’ll call her Medusa) and proclaimed,

“There’s a student here who wants to see Roger, but I don’t think he really does. Can you get rid of him?”

Medusa emerged from the back room in disguise, the snakes in her hair transformed into unruly red spikes of hair, blood of small children still dripping from her mouth. With a sweet smile, she led me back to her lair.

I can only imagine how much pleasure this frustrated shell of a woman found in harassing any who tried to speak with her, for what followed was only a few words short of verbal abuse. I had to use all my training and emotional reserve not to start shouting back at her and to confront her on what she was saying. More than once, I drew out my mirrored shield named Laptop to deflect her stony gaze back to her, throwing at her the exact words she had emailed to us students, which contrasted sharply with what she had just declared she had stated in those emails. She seemed intent upon barring my way to Roger.

Finally, at long last, she grew tired of her power trip and consented to let me see Roger later that week. I stumbled from the Gorgon’s lair, weakened by my experience. The next day, I happened to run into Roger in the hallway, and we proceeded to chat for half an hour. Apparently, he didn’t seem to think he was as inaccessible as his staff. When he gave me the answer I was looking for, which happened to be the complete opposite of what Medusa had told me, complete with screaming and promises of blood and death to any who dared oppose her, I wanted to go back to her and throw it in her face.

But I am just one small student, and if the only joy and pleasure in life for these bitches is to torment and harass students, reducing them to tears, I suppose I’ll let them have their power trip. It seems obvious that the crones must have some frustrations in their lives that they need to take out on everyone else. Next time, I’ll just circumvent them completely.

comments (6)


Dubya, what a tool

by effenheimer at 11:51 AM on May 14, 2003

So our beloved president was in my neck of the woods Monday. He likes to blow into town every year for the college world series and fool the hicks into thinking his tax plan is good for them and America. That is business as usual, but something did happen that I imagine happens frequently in every city the prez goes to. I thought you should know about it.

As you can imagine, it is traditional that whenever the president comes to town, the streets are lined with people who want to catch a glimpse. People will also carry signs expressing their love of all things Bush. Some people will also carry signs expressing their disdain for govt. policy if not their outright disdain for the president himself.

Now, as you can imagine, cops patrol the street to keep all of these people in line. In Omaha Monday, anyone carrying a sign that was not pro-bush was asked to stand behind a cordon just in case they REALLY didn't like the president. Being peaceful Midwesterners they did as they were asked. Then, routinely, minute by minute, the line was moved from one location to another, farther back, to this side of the block, now this street, until it was certain that the president wouldn't see any of these... well, not protesters really, more like ... Americans exercising their Constitutional rights by expressing their opinions in the most peaceful way possible.

Cops, being largely of a Republican bent, convince themselves that anyone who protests against a Republican president must be kept under wraps while during Democratic administrations, the story is quite different. The most offensive signs during the Clinton administration made their way to the forefront and onto the news as I recall.

This country is going to pot from the inside out. Frankly, I'm ready to move to Canada.

comments (8)


Statusticular Update

by quicksilver at 03:53 PM on May 13, 2003

There is far too much going on to not warrant a post.

I am a major investor in a new DJ/Entertainment company.
I am an uncle.
My boss is leaving town, and the job.
My parents are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, on me.
My loving girlfriend is leaving for Florida, without me.
I am getting my windows done, and then repainting the house.
I had a witty post all mentally prepared but then broke down.
I am growing a pineapple.
I am attending a Vidiot LAN party on Friday.
I just saw Jaheim buy candy at the local store. He's really big.
My fears of web-inadequacy are true, however, I'm working on it.
Oh yeah, I'm an uncle.

Next: The evils of Springtime. Pollen sux.

comments (6)


B&B on GWB

by anna at 06:35 PM on May 12, 2003

B & B on GWB

Now that South Park has surpassed anything Beavis and Butthead ever did or said in terms of antisocial cartoon nastiness, we here at House of Anna Productions thought it an opportune time to revive the boys...

Butthead: We think George W. is like, cool or something. His speeches are like, short, like Beavis’ wiener. And he storms into other countries and kicks ass.
Beavis: Heh-heh. He said wiener and ass.
Butthead: He is nothing like that other dude they had on TV before. That ass-wipe would drone on for hours about something or other. He’d like, interrupt our favorite shows. Sometimes he’d even come on MTV to talk about his panties or blow his sexophone or something.
Beavis: He said panties and blow. Heh-heh. Hey Butthead, what’s a sexophone?
Butthead: Look it up. I read about how the networks like, begrudged W 23 measly minutes to give his victory speech on that big boat. That’s cold.
Beavis: That rocked the way he landed that fighter plane on the boat. He looked like the Red Baron without his scarf.
Butthead: Shut up Beavis. The reason that ruled was because he really flew the plane. He used to be like, a flyboy in Top Gun or something. Not like that elfin dude Michael Dukakis who made a fool out of himself tooling around in a tank. Nobody believed he really knew how to drive it. That guy sucked.
Beavis: He said cock kiss. Heh-heh.
Butthead: That speech W gave where he quoted that old Who song ruled too.
Beavis: Who are the Who?
Butthead: They’re these old dead dudes whose power-chord style paved the way for AC/DC and Metallica. Huh-huh-huh.
Beavis: I think W rocks ‘cuz of who he isn’t.
Butthead: Shut up Beavis. But you’re right for once, he isn’t that other old dude on TV. The one who got head from that chubby chick on Mr. Personality and then like, lied about it. He also ruined her dress. That sucked. And he like, embarrassed the country or something.
Beavis: W would never do that. He’s got like, morality or something.
Butthead: Morality rocks.
Beavis: What about Al Gore? Didn’t he invent the Internet or something? The Internet is way cool.
Butthead: No, but he did discover Tipper’s Love Canal. That’s why W kicked his ass in the election. Those two were too busy kissing.
Beavis: Heh-heh, he said love canal and chubby. But sometimes W seems like us, you know, kids stuck in a permanent time warp or something.
Butthead: But somebody said he’s like, the Antichrist.
Beavis: That band rules.
Butthead: It isn’t a band you moron it’s like, something real nasty.
Beavis. Something Real Nasty rocks too.
Butthead: Shut up Beavis. Dude, we’re like online. W could read this, if he knew how. Maybe he’ll add a comment. That would rule.
Beavis. Heh-heh, he said online. That sounds like a new sex position.
Butthead: Shut up Beavis. Maybe he’ll say, “We don’t get fooled again.” That song rocks.
Beavis: No, it rules.
Butthead: Shut up Beavis. W rules. You suck.
Beavis: We’ll be back next week to tell y’all about our fling with the Olsen twins. Heh-heh.

comments (16)


He drinks in self-defense/Give me temptation

by rayanne at 06:23 PM on May 11, 2003

Ohhh, dear dear dear. Just completed a full day of friends hanging out at my apartment, here for a brunch that started this morning, the first time Drama Boy met any of my other friends.

Lots has happened with Drama Boy since I last posted. I hauled off and wrote him a big-ass letter saying, in essence, that I needed either to at least discuss the possibility of our dating or not see him anymore, as we seemed completely powerless to spend time together without having the sex. To my pleasant surprise, he refused to just get the hell out of my life, asked me for some time to figure out where his head is, was really honest with me about his feelings (here's the point at which all the guys reading this are probably rolling their eyes), and we decided to just do the friends thing for the time being, without ruling out the possibility of honest-to-gravy dating later on. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.

So my closest friends came over to my apartment for a huge spread of food and mimosas and bloody marys and I really didn't think Drama Boy would show - he was all worried that all my friends would wonder who he is and what the connection between us was and that the ones who knew would all hate him. And it stretched on for a good five hours of drunken card games and eventually he was the only one left here and we sat around drinking coffee, me trying to sober up, and I finally told him, "I think you should go home."

"Why's that?" he says, so I told him the truth: "Because I'm drunk and if you stick around any longer I'm going to jump on you and I don't think that's a good idea." Like he didn't know that was exactly it. And I sent him on his merry way. Which was really, really hard to do, because I wanted nothing more in the world than to jump on him, really.

I'm going to go pass out alone now. It's for the best, I guess. Right? Tell me I'm right. Please.

comments (9)


Truck-Stop Love

by effenheimer at 05:05 PM on May 10, 2003

Not to turn BadSam into just another shitty poetry site, but since I don't write much poetry and when I do it's ANTI-poetry, I figured that would be OK. Plus, I am competing in a Poetry Slam tonight and thought I'd share an entry with you. Just so you know, I KNOW it's shitty, it's supposed to be since that is at least element I see as anti-poetic. Other elements include using language that is deliberately incongruous with the subject matter (as this is), disrespecting the conventions of poetry, satire, humor, etc. Basically, it's about NOT trying to be brilliant. In that way, I have succeeded.

Truck-Stop Love

You approach my rig, Venus in blue jeans,
Tweaking my baser instincts.
You smell like a urinal cake,
Kind of sweet in a visceral way.
Ten bucks for a blow?
Welcome to Tupelo!
I feel obliged to accept your services,
Nothing wrong with rentin' cervixes.
Who says love on a pedestal's the only way?
I'll take mine in a sleeper any day!
You're not a bad person, neither am I,
Hop on in and don't be shy!
You're way ahead of me 'cause you're a pro-
fessional call girl on the go.

(Go away, officer! Nothing to see here!)

Who says romance is dead?
It is alive in the back of my cab.
CB antennae, waves in the night,
Advertizing our union to those who might,
See my truck, rockin' and shakin',
Radio blastin', chassis creakin'.
No other land-speed record's as fun to beat!
Truck stop lovin's better'n sleep!
All night long or an hour or two,
Whatever I do, I do to you.
Morning comes, new dawn fades,
Grab some coffee and my shades,
handful of speed and back on the road
What a great day to haul my load!

comments (6)


You don't take nothing with you but your soul

by anna at 09:57 AM on May 10, 2003

Let's suppose you're a virile married man who gets wrongfully imprisoned. Not in one of those min-sec country clubs with conjugal visits and tennis courts, but hard time. Most likely your sex life would consist of masturbation and maybe visits from other inmates. You finally win your freedom after 27 years. What's you first order of business? Making up for lost time, that's what. You'd be all over you wife, pestering her for sex 24-7. You'd make post-Viagra Bob Dole look like a eunuch.

Oddly, that wasn't the case with noted anti-apartheid crusader Nelson Mandela. The whole time he was in prison his lovely wife Winnie stood by him and championed his cause. Now granted, there were rumors of infidelity with younger men, to say nothing of alleged extortion, kidnapping and murder. But hey, women have needs too. 27 years is a long time to go without.

He gets out in 1990 and immediately launches a vendetta against none other than his wife. By 1991 she'd begun serving a six year sentence in connection with the kidnapping of four youths, one of whom was brutally murdered.

He didn't stick by her as she had him. The couple separated in '92 and their divorce became final four years later. By which point her conviction had been overturned. The Mandela regime thus appointed her to a number of influential posts. She performed her duties admirably. Still rumors of corruption and shady deals persisted. This culminated in her most recent prison stint. Last month she began serving a five year sentence at age 67. She's reportedly in failing health.

Nelson could have averted this travesty. Though he's since retired from government, surely he still wields considerable power behind the scenes. It's as if Sen. Hilary Clinton (D-Hell) finally got convicted in connection with her Whitewater shenanigans. Don't think for a second that Bubba would stand by and watch her get railroaded. And they're not exactly on the best of terms either. The parallels are striking. Why then the difference? Why didn't Nelson pull some strings to bail his ex out?

Possible explanations abound. Maybe Nelson found that she hadn't aged so gracefully. Except she looks positively radiant in the link above.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that hasn't always been my experience. To me prolonged absence makes one start searching for a suitable replacement. Maybe that's the case with the Mandelas. Except in his case, the only potential replacements were other guys. So unless you believe his sexual orientation somehow changed while incarcerated, that theory is kaput.

Upon release Nelson immersed himself in his work. He is a deeply principled man, so perhaps he was able to put his convictions before his primal lust. But let's face it, guys are guys and most think with their gonads. So unless you believe he secretly paid a visit to Mr. Wang, that's out too.

Whatever the reason, it seems clear this great visionary's judgment grows clouded when it comes to dealing with the wayward Winnie. She's like his Achilles heel.

Forget Mumia Abu-Jamal, free Winnie Mandela.

comments (5)


And it's true we are immune when fact is fiction and TV reality

by anna at 08:08 PM on May 07, 2003

I keep a Glamour Shots photo on my desk. Women walk up and and ask if it's my wife. This seems like a rather silly question considering that I wear a wedding ring. Who else's picture would I display?

They always exclaim about how beautiful she is. I'm never quite sure how to respond. To say thank you would seem presumptuous, as if I had something to do with it. "Yeah she is," seems kind of flippant. So I basically say nothing.

Guys never do this. But if they did, it wouldn't be a pretty scene. I'd have this creepy feeling that he was coveting my beloved when in reality, he's just making idle chitchat.

Him: Dude, is this your wife? She is majorly hot!
Me: I like to think so.
Him: We should all get together sometime.
Me: I don't think so.

Which brings me to my point, such as it is. Maxim magazine is offering readers a chance to showcase their trophy wives or girlfriends therein. I've got problems with that. First off, there's the distinct possibility of rejection. Then there's the dilemma alluded to above. Even progressive guys remain uncomfortable with the notion of other guys leering at and/or Pee Wee Hermaning all over pix of their women. You might as well ask her to perform a hoochie-coochie dance for your drunken pals on poker night.

Provided you could somehow get past those hurdles, how do you go about making such a proposal? "Hey honey, I was thinking we should send some sleazy pictures of you into Maxim. If you make the grade, guys everywhere will get to see you looking all come-hither on your hands and knees." Sounds like an open invitation to divorce proceedings if you ask me.

Of course we all know the answer. These days some folks will stop at nothing in their quest to appear on TV or in magazines. They have no shame when it comes to baring their bodies or revealing their deepest secrets in exchange for fleeting exposure. Nor do they balk at choking down maggots on Fear Factor or groping total strangers on The Bachelor.

It's enough to make you wonder what the world is coming to. But what I'm really curious about is how others feel about this. Am I way off base? Would you really like to see your SO splayed across the pages of some smutty magazine or lounging in the hot tub on some sleazy reality show? Why or why not?

comments (11)


i never dreamed that i'd spend my days staring at some tube emitting cathode rays

by mg at 10:46 AM on May 07, 2003

Since the war in Iraq ended, I’ve been in a bit of a funk. After 24 hours a day of tense news coverage of exploding bombs, firefights, and midnights rescues, I’ve come to realize exactly how bad most of what else gets broadcast over the airwaves really is.

TV is just so bad that it’s gotten to the point I’m only watching three hours a day, instead of my usual five. I’ve almost been compelled to actually pick up a book and read. Almost, but not quite yet. I can think of few fates worse that text, and a Sunday afternoon lineup of Lost World, Beast Master, and Mutant X isn’t one of them. Its close, but I’ll sit through it if it means I don't have to do anything else.

But, despite the fact I’ll still sit through 3 hours of awful television, I’d much rather sit through 4 hours of good television. Which is why I really miss the war. It was the best of all worlds – a little reality TV, a little action, a little suspense, and whenever Baghdad Bob came on the screen, well, that was pure comedy.

It’s even May sweeps at the moment, when TV usually struts out the best of the best. But I really couldn’t care less. And once sweeps are over, we are left with repeats and cast-offs for months. I heard that there are 30 reality TV shows set to premiere over the summer. I don't care if television invented reality, I still say no one puts on a better show that the U.S. military. What the networks need to do is convince the Pentagon to throw another war. So, I thought I’d help and throw out some ideas for countries we could invade that wouldd make for great TV.

cont'd »

comments (15)


I don't remember if I cried when I heard about his widowed bride

by anna at 07:29 PM on May 05, 2003

Linz's post got me to thinking about concerts. I attended many in my youth. This started in 1972, when I saw the Rolling Stones. The emcee hailed them as "the greatest rock n roll band in the world." And although they performed a ragged 45 minute set and whizzed off in their helicopter without an encore, who was I to argue at the tender age of 13?

I also caught Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Boston, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney and Wings, Bad Company, the Allman Brothers Band, the Who before half of them died, the Eagles, Pretenders, Cars, Steely Dan on their only tour, Aerosmith in their prime, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Pat Benatar. I was there when Jackson Browne recorded his classic Running on Empty and when Little Feat recorded Waiting for Columbus.

I attended a Crosby, Stills and Nash show. Stephen Stills got so tanked he fell off his piano stool. David Crosby disappeared halfway through a set, presumably to toke on his crack pipe. I saw Eric Clapton before he became a benefit concert staple. Oddly enough, he let a sessions man handle most of the lead solos. Likewise, I caught Carlos Santana before he became a rent-a-guitar-legend prone to slumming with the likes of Michelle Branch.

I saw the Dead play many a time. In fact, the last show I attended was their DC swan song. It was also the only show I'd ever been to straight. I was struck by how monotonous and tedious their music was in that condition. The crowd seemed like a bunch of scruffy ragamuffins. We couldn't wait to leave.

All these ancient acts are staples of classic rock stations these days. Some have even been relegated to oldies status. Yes, as trite as much of their material was, it has shown remarkable staying power. Which is a helluva lot more than you could say for much of today's forgettable output. Case in point: Hootie and the freaking Blowfish. Just a few years ago they were all the rage. Now I'd defy anyone to name a single one of their tunes.

For years all you heard were the mechanized stylings of corporate-sponsored artists like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, N Sync and Backdoor Boys. Then along came the White Stripes, the Hives and such. Rolling Stone declared that raw, raucous, rebellious rock was back in vogue. Yet to listen to the radio is to realize that little has changed since then. PMS queen Alanis Morisette is still whining about every guy who ever used her and then discarded her scrawny ass like a soiled tissue. She's got one hand in her pocket and with the other she's gouging some ex-lover's eyes out. Jewel is still cranking out her childish poetry over simplistic acoustic riffs. ("Between the fight and flight is the blind man's sight and a choice that's right." Sure there is.) Matchbox 20 (I think) is still dispensing their sappy, unsolicited advice. ("Do you best, in everything you do... Live right now." Oh shut up.)

Despite my advanced age, I strive to remain semi-hip. And that means keeping up with today's tunes. That said, I doubt you'll hear much of it on tomorrow's classic rock stations. These are the tunes I believe stand a chance of defying all odds and standing that crucial test of time: The Wallflowers' Sixth Avenue Heartache, Garbage's I'm Only Happy When It Rains, the Offspring's Come Out and Play, Green Day's Time of Your Life, Vanessa Carlton's 1000 Miles, the Goo Goo Dolls' Broadway, the Indigo Girls' Closer to Fine and Sheryl Crowe's I'm Gonna Soak up the Sun.

Did I overlook anyone?

comments (17)


Foolish heart, you made me weep

by effenheimer at 07:22 PM on May 04, 2003

Last week on Fox’s “Mr. Personality,” host Monica Lewinsky chastised the character of one of the show’s masked suitors for quitting the show before he could be kicked off by the woman doing the choosing. And he just let her. There must have been some kind of iron-clad contractual stipulation against slagging off Monica, because this guy didn’t say one word to her and he was a lawyer.

I’m "more or less" a “live and let live” kind of guy, I mean, I've got my opinions about this and that but who doesn't? If Monica Lewinsky wants to blow the president, it's probably a little hypocritical of us to criticize her since there are undoubtedly quite a few men and women who would do the same thing if given the chance.

But if Monica Lewinsky gave me any sass back, I’d flatten her. “You’re impugning me? Excuse me, but didn’t you fellate the president and keep the evidence in your closet, you fucking freak?! Don’t even make me mention how you ruined a perfectly good cigar, you nasty-ass thing.”

Speaking of bad Fox programming decisions, on May 11, catch the “Beverly Hills 90210 Reunion.” The show went off in 2000 so I guess it was time to find out what the world’s oldest high school seniors were up to. The short answer is NOTHING. The cast will instead talk about what a wonderful time they had the last time any of them worked and pretend it was socially relevant to watch each character get raped in turn. What gall. A reunion show? Even “M*A*S*H” didn’t have a reunion show until 25 years had passed and that show was a heapin’ helpin’ of socio-political goodness.

Besides being an insipid waste of time, “90210” also once featured an evil cultist named “Greg.” If you are going to come up with a name for a bad guy, you can do a whole lot better than “Greg.” I AM an evil Greg and even I’m not convinced. “Derek,” “Tim,” “Brad.” These are evil names.

A news story on my local Fox affiliate talked about senior citizens being at greater risk to cause accidents while driving. “Should seniors stay off the roads?” One lady said she had “earned the right to drive.” Yes, dear, but not to kill people by driving into their business.

Being old has nothing to do with ones driving skills per se. Everyone of all ages should be given a lie detector test with at least this one question on it, “Are you a crappy driver?” You know if you’re a bad driver. Some follow-ups might include: “Are you sure?”
“Do you ever pull up along side someone just to swear at them because they didn’t appear to enjoy the fact that you nearly plowed into them while talking on your cell phone?”
“Do you cut people off just to get in front of them at stop lights?”
“Do you do ANYTHING that ISN’T driving while driving? Talk on the phone? Eat? Apply makeup? Shave?”
“Can you see over the steering wheel?”
“Do you drive 10 miles an hour below the speed limit ... ever?”
“To get people in front of you to speed up, do you tailgate?”
“Did you take driver’s ed?”
“Have you seen ‘The Road Warrior’ more than 10 times in your life?”
“Do you have NASCAR decals on your car?”
“Are you from Nebraska?”
Questions like that.

Have girls really gone wild? According to some of the late night TV commercials I’ve seen, it would appear they have. Still, I suspect that the girls haven’t gone wild so much as they have just gotten drunk enough to put their self-esteem issues – and breasts – on display.

If your Italian father wants to become a citizen, one of the questions on the test should be “Do you plan to celebrate at The Olive Garden?” Because chances are if he does, you father isn’t really Italian. Report him to homeland security immediately because he is probably a member of Al Qaeda just pretending to be Italian. Olive Garden... Now THAT's Italian! Pphhhhhbbbbtt! The soup and salad lunch combo with a Sprite isn’t really the motivating concept behind Italian cuisine, Guido. I've had hot pockets that were more Italian than most of the Olive Garden's menu.

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A Rogue Gallery

by anna at 01:04 PM on May 02, 2003

They say we live in a global village. And every village needs an idiot. So today we’ll be discussing some likely contenders for the esteemed title of Global Village Idiot for this 21st and Final Century.

Magician David Blaine: Anyone who’d freeze himself in a block of ice outside Rockefeller Center warrants serious consideration. For his next stunt he intends to walk to China. No word on whether the SARS epidemic might have altered those plans; or whether he’d agree to stay there permanently.
French President Jacques Chirac: For years this blowhard advocated lifting the sanctions on Iraq. Now that we’ve deposed the brutal dictator, he’s had a slight change of heart.
Lovebirds Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson: I just don’t like his whole faux redneck shtick. And anymore she just seems so...gaudy. I feel sorry for their kids.
Slobodan Milosevic: This former Serbian strongman now nothing got hauled off to The Hague and thrown in world jail. His trial is currently taking place at the World Court and is projected to last forever.
Robert DeNiro: He won acclaim for his stellar performances in Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. But nowadays it seems he’ll accept just about any crappy role. Much the same could be said of fellow nominee Dustin Hoffman since his Oscar-worthy turn in Rain Man.
Rosie O’Donnell: This whack job quits her cozy talk show gig to start a magazine. She immediately antagonizes everyone associated with the project. Rosie promptly folds. She’s now reduced to hosting Kid’s Choice Award shows on Nickelodeon.
John McEnroe: You can't be serious! This washed-up gasbag challenged Serena and/or Venus Williams to a tennis match. Anyone who’s seen the punishment these ladies exact on a tennis ball knows he wouldn’t stand a chance. Can you say 6-0, 6-0?
Anna Kournikova: This chick plays tennis for a living, yet has never advanced beyond the semifinals of a major singles tournament. Reportedly she also table-danced for heartthrob Julio Iglesias in a club.
Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee: Hey, at least they look the part.
Rev Al Sharpton: His insistence on being taken seriously as a presidential hopeful despite a dearth of experience in governmental affairs threatens to make the 2004 election even more of a travesty than 2000's debacle. Plus, like fellow nominee and adulterer Jesse Jackson, he’s got that unique ability to interject hateful racial politics into any debate.
Kiss and Aerosmith: Will these geezers ever go away?
Tony Randall: He fathered a child at age 72, when his life expectancy was 9.4 years.
Tom Brokaw: A highly paid news anchor who can’t enunciate the letter “L.”
Mohammed Aseed al-Sahaf: The Iraqi spokesman who assured viewers that their army was successfully repelling the infidel invaders even as US tanks cruised the streets of Baghdad unopposed.
Def Sec Donald Rumsfeld and AG John Ashcroft: These two have come to embody what many overseas perceive as smug American arrogance. Practically every time they open their yaps something patently offensive comes out.
Any and all NASCAR fans who’d boo Jeff Gordon during his inevitable victory lap.
Porn star Houston: She let 500 guys bang her in one day. That’s gotta hurt!
NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg: He quits his job as a tycoon to succeed Saint Rudolph Guiliani, a tough act to follow if ever there was one. He then endeared himself to the citizenry by banning smoking everywhere.
And last but not least, baby-dangler and all-around twit Michael Jackson. (You’ll note I left Bubba Clinton off the list. To include that fool would be an insult to village idiots.)

Feel free to vote often and early for your favorites. Or else nominate your own candidate. I’ll then tally up the results and together we’ll thorny-crown a winner.

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