Thursday, February 28, 2002

THIS IS WHY GOD CREATED THE FOX NETWORK
Mass entertainment has officially hit a new low. CNN.com - Harding, Fisher prepare for 'Celebrity Boxing'

Tonya Harding and Amy Fisher are getting ready to rumble.

The pugilistic divas will face off on "Celebrity Boxing," a Fox special scheduled to air March 13. The network is billing the bout as "the battle of the bad girls."

Also on the special, former "Brady Bunch" star Barry Williams will be pitted against Danny Bonaduce, once part of TV's "Partridge Family."
AL GOLDSTEIN'S DAY IN COURT
What a shock - Pornographer Guilty in Harassment Case. Jeeze, and he handled himself so well.

Then, as reporters and photographers began to gather, Mr. Goldstein, 66, the publisher of Screw magazine, fell to the floor.

"I'm dying, I'm dying, no more!" he shouted, as he lay sprawled face down in the center of a crowded hallway.

Mr. Goldstein did not die. He was helped back to his feet within minutes, just in time to hear the jury find him guilty on six counts of harassment and aggravated harassment. He later claimed that he had collapsed because of low blood sugar, a complication of his diabetes.
MAC GEEK STUFF
In preparation for Natalie's new iMac, I installed OSX on a partition of my G4 to experiment and learn. I'd heard of many OSX problems, so I waited until version 10.1.3. Here are a few details for those considering the move.

1) OSX is really smooth. The graphics, the dock, the look of the screen and finder are a bit different than OS9, but I got used to them quickly and now love them all. The system speed is fine on my 400 mhz G4 Tower.

2) OSX is much simpler than OS9. There are no more extensions, control panels or memory allotment issues. 95% of the time, crashes are localized and only affect the program itself, not the system. In short IE5 can crash, you quit it and restart it instantly. A pre-defined system of folders keeps everything pretty neat. Newbies will love this, OS9 users - especially those who toss icons all over the desktop - might be a bit confused for a while.

3) Networking (especially complicated networking) is a problem. I got Airport working instantly, but I still haven't figured out how to make my Laser Printer (connected via Appletalk, ethernet and AsanteTalk) to appear and function in OSX.

4) If OSX does see your printer (anything USB is fine), the Print Center is simple and renders the Chooser obsolete.

5) The Classic environment works pretty well, although I notice that when it's open, it can create a drag on some OSX apps (namely IE5.1 and AppleWorks 6.2.2).

As for software, I find that desktop publishing as well as sound and video editing still require OS9. Yes, Final Cut 3 is OSX native, but I don't own that yet (I just got FCP2!). And Photoshop is just coming out for OSX. But for the average user, everything necessary to work is now ready in OSX. To wit:

> BROWSER - IE 5.1 is dandy, although I just download Omniweb and Opera to check them. IE5.1 seems much more stable in OSX than IE5.0 did in OS9.

> FTP - Fetch charges $25 for it's OSX version and it doesn't even support Drag and Drop. Ooops. I went with SimpleFTP instead ($15 shareware). It's clean, well-designed and looks good in Aqua.

> MP3/CD BURNER - iTunes is excellent for playback and ripping, although it doesn't support my old Que burner. I still like Roxio's Toast best and it has an OSX version available for free download (if you own Toast 5). The download also comes with a teriffic media viewer app (iViewMedia), which handles, images, videos, sound, everything. I will probably keep Toast even after I get a OSX-support burner - I just like it better than iTunes for burner discs.

> PRODUCTIVITY - Appleworks 6.2.2 os OSX native, but I've always hated this version (graphically, it was a huge step in the wrong directon from the excellent Appleworks 5). I would love to get the latest MS Office, but I hate the security restrictions (you can't install it to two different machines). Anyone have a good idea about a Word Processor that's OSX ready, reads/saves MS Word files and is cheap/free?

> MAIL - Goodbye Eudora. OSX comes with a great built-in Mail app. No ads, no problems. Needless to say, Outlook Express was forgotten long ago, when it became the conduit for so many viruses.

> DIGITAL CAMERA - iPhoto (free download from Apple) is amazing for organizing and publishing digitial photos. It builds web pages automatically, creates photo books from your pictures, offers greeting card templates and much more. It's a lot like iTunes in set-up, but it lacks serious image editing tools (no doubt Adobe got pissed about iPhot infringing on its Elements space and put a foot down). This is really more of a media organizer, although it's only for images - it doesn't import video, which sucks because I do a lot of that with my digitial still camera. I'll still use the Canon Image Broswer.

> SCREEN CAPTURE - OSX offers a bult-in utility called GRAB, which does this nicely. You can even define the portion of the screen to be captured.

>iTOOLS - Apple's iDisk is still to slow to be useful, even with my broadband connection.

>PALM - Palm software doesn't work in OSX

BTW - insallation of the new programs is much easier with OSX. Just click and that's it - there are no more Control Panels or Extensions to load separately.

So in short, I'm doing all I can to work only in OSX - it's that much fun. And it'll be nice to jettison all those useless programs I had sitting around for OS9 that I really didnb't need. It's time to purge.

If anybody's out there working with OSX, let me know how it's going for you and any goodies you find.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

A GOOD BLOG ARTICLE
Most attempts by mainstream media to understand the Blog explosion fail because the writers don't take it seriously. They figure if Bloggers had something worthwhile to say, they'd have a real media jobs. Blog This, by Henry Jenkins from the MIT Technology Review, is one of the first articles to get it. Jenkins understands that Blogs represent an important grass roots alternative in a world where media power is forever being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

He writes - Ultimately, our media future could depend on the kind of uneasy truce that gets brokered between commercial media and these grass-roots intermediaries. Imagine a world where there are two kinds of media power: one comes through media concentration, where any message gains authority simply by being broadcast on network television; the other comes through grass-roots intermediaries, where a message gains visibility only if it is deemed relevant to a loose network of diverse publics. Broadcasting will place issues on the national agenda and define core values; bloggers will reframe those issues for different publics and ensure that everyone has a chance to be heard.

It may seem strange to imagine the blogging community as a force that will shape the information environment almost as powerfully as corporate media. We learn in the history books about Samuel Morse's invention of the telegraph but not about the thousands of operators who shaped the circulation of messages, about Thomas Paine's Common Sense but less about the "committees of correspondence" through which citizens copied and redistributed letters across the colonies, about the publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe's abolitionist blockbuster Uncle Tom's Cabin but not about the teenagers who used toy printing presses to publish nationally circulated newsletters debating the pros and cons of slavery. In practice, the evolution of most media has been shaped through the interactions between the distributed power of grass-roots participatory media and the concentrated power of corporate/governmental media.

DENTIST
Spent another afternoon in the dentist chair yesterday, sucking down gas and watching DVD through the headset. This time, I got smart. Instead of boring my drug-lulled brain with Hollywood product, I brought a DVD of Lain: The Serial Experiments a Japanese anime about a 14-year-old girl who finds her doppleganger living within the internet. It's not unlike the X-Files, but with a teen star and many more disconcerting segements.

And I was soooo into it. I now know what all the potheads I grew up with were seeing when we went to the movies. And of course, I can't recall any other details to share with you. What I remember was that the anime seemed flawlessly constructed, fascinating and in the end frightening (especially when the itsy bitsy aliens from Rosewell showed up out of nowehere).

What I'm learning in this process is that the gas allowed me to see artistic content on a level removed from the consumer. When I listened to classical music, I heard the composer speaking with strings. When I watched Steve Martin's "Roxanne" I saw process, structure and a lot of bad acting. Watching "Lain", I felt like I was falling into another world - science fiction at it's purest.

I'm not proposing everyone get a tank of nitros for their home. But this has been interesting for me. In the past few years, family life and nominal concerns like finding work has pushed most artistic thoughts out of my mind. It's been fascinating to find that with all distractions removed and the proper stimulus, I'm right back to thinking on a purely artistic level. I'm glad to know that part of my mind hasn't vanished, it's just in hidding.

It makes me look forward to my next visit to the dentist.

Monday, February 25, 2002

A SOLICITED PLUG
Warren from Hollywood wrote if 15 people are reading your page every week, plug my show! Off Centre, 9 PM on Sunday, your local WB affiliate.

Well...actually, I wrote that 15-20 people stop by The Suburban Limbo every day. But...day... week, who cares? Here's the plug. Set your VCRs, cancel the Sunday Night Open Mic. Support my friend Warren because if the show is a hit, maybe he'll get promoted then the rest of us will move up one.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

REMEMBER THE NINETIES?
This past weekend's NY TImes Magazine carried an excellent piece by Frank Rich (Ding, Dong, the Cultural Witch Hunt Is Dead). The hook is David Brock's new book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative. But really, the article is Rich dancing about on the grave of butthead far right patisanship of the previous decade.

I know some hate Rich on principle, but everyone should read this if for no other reason than to find out what much (some? half?) of the country thought of Newt, moral majority hypocrites and their vacant rhetoric but didn't know how to express it (or were too scared to put into words). Yeah, I know, liberals were guilty of partisan snipping too. But since the conservative talk radio/cable news cabal rarely offers their perspective, this is worth checking out.

About Brock, Rich writes: His story exemplifies a decade of post-ideological drift and spitball politics in Washington: a cynical, highly pragmatic struggle over power more than ideas that opened with the Thomas-Hill confrontation of 1991, reached its climax with the impeachment drive and now seems to have been interred with so much else in the rubble of Sept. 11. It was a time of take-no-prisoners mudslinging, in which the Republican right, with no Communists to unmask, found a new kind of enemy within that it tried to bring down by means of a disingenuously holier-than-thou moral crusade fueled by a gossip machine of which Brock was an early and influential cog. The hottest partisan battles revolved around Long Dong Silver and Paula Jones, not Stalin.

For the right, the principal means of battle was a kind of cultural profiling that slick (and entirely secular) political operatives adapted from their allies in the religious right. If Anita Hill could be painted as nutty and slutty, if the Democratic leader Tom Foley could be called gay (even if he wasn't) and if Bill Clinton could be branded as a pot-smoking libertine from Day 1 of his presidency, then liberals in general and Democrats in particular could be dubbed, as Newt Gingrich would have it, ''the enemy of normal Americans,'' responsible for every moral breach in the nation. In Gingrich's formulation, ''The left-wing Democrats will represent the party of total hedonism, total exhibitionism, total bizarreness, total weirdness.'' On his way to becoming speaker of the House, he even grandfathered Susan Smith's 1994 drowning of her two children in South Carolina into 60's hedonism, as an example of the ''pattern'' of ''the counterculture and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.''
RODEO FUN
We took Jake to the 101st Silver Spurs Rodeo last weekend and had the pleasure of watching a cowboy nearly get a hoof through his skull. Luckily, this horse missed, the crowd cheered and the announcer reminded us to give a hand to those cowboys out there risking it all for our entertainment. Jeeze...I thought being a musician was a tough life.

Saturday, February 23, 2002

SORRY GUYS, YOUR DON'T GET TO SLEEP WITH THE NOMINEES
Six-string shooter Madonna has been nominated for the Les Paul Horizon Award (Most Promising Up and Coming Guitarist) for the Gibson Guitar Awards.
CONSIDER THIS...
About 15 or 20 people visit this site every day (more on Mondays and Wednesdays). That might not seeme like much, but keep in mind, back when I was a folksinger, I regularly played to audiences smaller than that. I feel loved. Time for ice cream!
THAT'S ONE SMART FISH
Try this game. The goldfish got me every time. How? I have no idea.
Scott's Amazing Card Trick
OUT OF THE BUNKER AND INTO THE FUN
I'd like to take this opportunity to tell Mr. Jay Leno - yours is a sublimely glorious brand of anilingus. Vice President Cheney to Jay Leno - WHITEHOUSE.ORG

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

MOVIE NOTES
Moulin Rouge was a huge piece of crap. If you gave a 16-year-old $50 million and a professional cast and crew, this is what their imagination might turn out. What's the matter - you're so afraid audiences can't handle new songs that you have to recycle incongruous pop songs? Ugh. That's two hours I'll never get back.

On the other hand, Monster's Ball was an intense, heartfelt and stunning piece of work. The only flaw I could find was in the marketing plan - the previews, poster and word of mouth made me want to avoid it. And I would have too, except that Natalie dragged me to see it tonight. Lessons learned - see everything with Billy Bob Thorton, don't trust marketing for smart films, let Natalie pick films more often.
SEEKING VORTEX GENERATOR
This is one of the best junk emails I've ever received. If you respond, let me know how it goes.

If you are a time traveler or alien disguised as human and or have the technology to travel physically through time I need your help!

My life has been severely tampered with and cursed!! I have suffered tremendously and am now dying! I need to be able to:

- Travel back in time.
- Rewind my life including my age back to 4.
- Be able to remember what I know now so that I can prevent my life from being tampered with again after I go back.

I am in very great danger and need this immediately!

I am aware that there are many types of time travel, and that humans do not do well through certain types. I need as close to temporal reversion as possible, as safely as possible. To be able to rewind the hands of time in such a way that the universe of now will cease to exist. I know that there are some very powerful people out there with alien or government equipment capable of doing just that.

If you can help me I will pay for your teleport or trip down here, Along with hotel stay, food and all expenses. I will pay top dollar for the equipment. Proof must be provided.

Please be advised that any temporal device that you may employ must account for X, Y, and Z coordinates as well as the temporal location. I have a time machine now, but it has limited abilitys and is useless without a vortex. If you can provide information on how to create vortex generator or where I can get some of the blue glowing moon crystals this would also be helpful.

I am aware of two types of time travel one in physical form and the other in energy form where a snapshot of your brain is taken using either the dimensional warp or an electronic device and then sends your consciousness back through time to part with your younger self. Please explain how safe and what your method involves.

Also if you are one of the very, very, few beings with the ability to edit the universe PLEASE REPLY!!!

Only if you have this technology and can help me exactly as mentioned please send me a (SEPARATE) email to: IneedTimeTravel@aol.com

Please do not reply if your an evil alien!

Thanks
OOOPS, I'M STILL ALIVE
What will Britney Spears look like at age 50? According to "Britney 2032" , a short film currently posted at the Warner Brothers site, she's a dumpy has-been pushing her book Oops, I'm Still Alive to middle-age idiots and ex-stalkers.

This short isn't great (the book title is the best part). But if you've got a broadband connection, it's worth the 5 minute look. I particularly like Justin Timberlake being portrayed as a plump building contractor who occasionally hooks up with other ex-boy band dudes for package tours.

Kind of odd that Warner Bros. would put this on their site, don't you think? It's not a very flattering perspective. Maybe Britney wants to lower the bar early so she can look good in comparison.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

OOOPS
It is increasing looking like George W's state of the union enemies list is getting a thumbs down across much of the world. As US Today said in 'Axis of evil' remark sparks damaging backlash Treating Iran, Iraq and North Korea as a unified, monolithic axis vulnerable to the same rhetoric and tactics is a formula for failure, not to mention an invitation to a multifront war.

I think the only reason for lumping those states together was to give back a Cold War to all the Ford/Reagan-era Republicans working again in the White House. They must have felt unfocused without some country to plot against.

The other thing that annoys me - one of my favorite strategies of the Afghan Turkey Shoot was the Bush proclaimation that America was going to win the War on Terrorism quietly. America would make its moves, fight its enemies and not necessarily inform the public about every little thing. So why the big change of heart now? Did George have a chat with Daddy about how he lost the Presidency just a year or so after winning his war? Is George trying to keep his poll numbers in the stratosphere? It all this aggressive posturing just a means for making GWB an wartime President for eight years?
SCHOOL PROJECT
An old high school friend sent this via email. She sends a lot of crap my way - inspirational letters, email greeting cards and the like. This story might be a complete hoax, but the picture makes it worth the read.

A class of elementary students started a class project to make a planter to take home and wanted to have a plant in it that was easy to take care of, so it was decided to use cactus plants. The students were given greenware pottery of a clown planter and they painted them with glaze and had them professionally fired at a class outing so they could see the process. It was great fun. They planted the cactus seeds in the finished planters and they grew nicely but unfortunately the children were not allowed to take them home. The cactus plants were removed and a small ivy replaced them and thechildren were then allowed to take them home. The teacher said cactus seemed like a good idea at the time.

JOHN POINDEXTER IS BACK IN GOVERNMENT
The agency which Poindexter will run is called the Information Awareness Office. You want to know what that is? Think, Big Brother is Watching You. From Gardian Unlimited

Monday, February 18, 2002

ART CAN'T BEAT REALITY HERE
I've been laughing ever since I heard the news -
Ozzy Osbourne Launches Reality Show. The fun begins March 5th on MTV.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

IS THIS SPIN OR A RE-WRITE?
Check this out. Secretary of the Army, Thomas E. White offers internet-ready Americans and media types this impressive current bio. But it wasn't always spun this way. You see, Tom has a bit of history he'd like to forget - namely a decade working for Enron. Notice how his previous bio (cached at Google) played up Enron a lot more.

Gee, if he didn't do anything wrong at Enron, why would he suddenly downplay the gig that got him his current position?
LIKE I SAID, THIS BITCH IS CRAZY
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter strikes again with this bit of wisdom.

"We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too," pundit Ann Coulter told this month's meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference. "Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."

Ahhhh yes - nothing like a reasoned conservative voice to make everyone sleep easier at night.
I AM SHOCKED
It doesn't take a tarot card master to predict Miss Cleo's in a heap of trouble.

The Federal Trade Commission and the state of Florida have filed separate lawsuits against the ominpresent on-air psychic charging her with fraud and asking her to prove her claim that's she really a renowned soothsayer from Jamaica, and not just a clever faker called Youree Dell Harris.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

CB SAYS "THIS IS WHY I'M PARANOID"
There are indeed many sleep-disturbing threats to America today -- but one of them is the triumphal hubris that has taken hold of our leadership. Axis of stupidity from Salon.com, is an excellent three-page history lesson and modern US political critique. I'm going to have to start reading this regularly.

His axis-of-evil war cry, of course, was an attempt at Rooseveltian grandeur -- but because it mangles geopolitical reality (unlike the enemies FDR faced, there is no alliance between Iraq, Iran and North Korea), it simply confuses the American public and underlines what a dismal imitation of a great president our current leader is. It reminds us that this is a man who entered the 2000 presidential race in midlife with the barest, most homespun grasp of the world beyond America's borders, and after a year of Condi Rice tutorials and on-the-job training, is just a step away from calling Greeks "Grecians."
LESSONS FROM THE TOP IN DEALING WITH MEDIA
It appears that the White House hates Washington Post reporter Dana Millbank and is
making his life as difficult as possible.
THINK YOUR DOCTOR IS CLUELESS?
Check out the Quackatorium for a sampling of authentic medical foolishness.
SIGHTING
My favorite bumper sticker of the week:

My daughter loves Girl Scouts.

Yes, and so do I.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

A SURPRISING RETORT
When CB went off on that bender about the freedom to write and read and smoke dope, I thought it was a bit over the top. Warren responded nicely. But Chris obviously knew of what he ranted. He sends a new link from Salon.com which reports, in Big Brother is watching you read, Increasingly, the government is demanding that bookstores reveal what books their customers have purchased."

Very nice point.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

QUICK LINKS
Here are some online things I've been reading lately.

Learn how the other 10% lives via the bizarre and wonderful Rupaul weblog. The funny part is how absolutely normal he usually sounds. Many entries are along the lines of "Today I sat on the sofa in my underwear and played Mariah Carey CDs."

Usually funny and always lefty cartoonist of This Modern World, Tom Tomorrow also keeps a blog. Recent revelation - he agrees with Rush Limbaugh about the invasive features of TiVo's information capturing abilities.

Is it just me, or are a lot of hardcore right-wing sites really badly designed? Check out this KKK's site and see what I mean. And keep the volume down because they've got some midi file downloading the Star Spangle banner on auto-play.

FuckedCompany.com - Official lubricant of the new economy is a snotty deathwatch tracking Dot Com lay-offs and disasters (along with the occassional success story). It makes me glad that I never got a serious job during the Internet Revolution. Want to care even less about these people? Read the ultra-annoying comment sections for each story and I promise, you'll wish plague and death upon every smug unemployed dotcomer.

Bush Watch is a solid collection of current liberal writers. Updated daily (with lots of content and links), it's not always about Bush, but it is a constantly refreshing antidote for anyone who gets overwhelmed reading hateful KKK sites.
BACK AT YA
Warren from Hollywood sent back these words about CB's last missive (printed Sunday, Feb 10). One day, I'm gonna get all my smartest friends together and let them beat each other senseless or get drunk and collaborate on some really cool projects.

chris, o chris...

Smoke dope? Join former Secretary of State George
Schultz in advocating the end of the war on drugs.
Certainly GWB would have a hard time cracking down on
recreational drugs with a straight face. Anyway, the
mainstream Left is just as committed to the
enforcement of drug laws as the Right. We had eight
years of the Left and dope was as illegal as ever.

Suck dick? To each his own, of course -- but while
many states have antiquated laws on the subject, I
don't remember anti-oral planks in the latest
Republican platform. Are there really people doing
time for giving blowjobs? Are they happier in prison,
then?

Reading, writing? It would seem obvious to me that as
we correspond on this Web page that the First
Amendment is stronger than ever.

Go to church? Let's get out of this old-fashioned
Reagan-era Orwellian paranoia, shall we? Or is that
the dope talking?

And if it's just the church that scares you, then you
have very little to fear. Remember, the greatest
atrocities in the 20th century (Nazi Germany and
Stalinist Russia) were committed in the absence of
religion.

Best - Warren
A DAY OF FUN AND TREATS, ORLANDO STYLE

It was Daddy Day today for Jake. Instead of Grandma and Grandpa's weekly visit, Jake and I headed to Seaworld. Big Big fun. We saw animal shows, played games, ran around in the giant playground and enjoyed a few treats between or after meals. Through little planing of our own, each treat was huge to the point of silly (I think that ice cream thing at Race Rock was a joke from our waitress, who snickered when I asked her to pack up half my veggie sandwich to go so I could share a little dessert). These photos are how Jake will likely recall the day.

Tomorrow, it's hummus and pita for Jake and me.

Monday, February 11, 2002

GRIEVING
Sad to report the death of Forrest Schoenberger, the son of Bar Scott, a folk singing friend of mine from the heyday of Camp Hoboken. Forrest, who was about 3 1/2, died of Stage IV liver cancer (hepatoblastoma) last Saturday.

The evening before receiving this terrrible news, I pulled into a gas station with Jake strapped into the back seat and listened to the Valentine's Day Show of This American Life. As usual, it was a breath-taking example of radio at its finest. The subject was long-term love and the segment was entitled Donald Hall Fell in Love . For those (like me) who don't know, Donald Hall is an American poet of some note. His wife was a poet named Jane Kenyon who, after a long illness, died of leukemia in 1995. While he cared for her, Hall wrote the poems that would eventually be published in his book Without. After hearing him on the show, I purchased the book immediately and it is the most emotionally devestating collection I have ever read. Literally, I can only read a few poems in any one sitting before I am overcome and have to put down the book. Ever since hearing about Forrest, I've been reading and rereading these pages again and again.

A sample from the book, written the evening before Jane Kenyon died:

Leaving his place beside her
where her eyes stared, he told her,
"I'll put these letters
in the box." She had not spoken
for three hours, and now Jane said
her last words: "O.K."
At eight that night,
her eyes open as they stayed
until she died, brain-stem breathing
started, he bent to kiss
her pale cool lips again, and felt them
one last time gather
and purse and peck to kiss him back.


If you want more, go to This American Life, find the "Valentine's Day" story and click on the Real Audio icon. Donald Hall's segment is about 40 minutes in, so drag the Real Audio timeline bar to that point.
ENRON AND ON AND ON #3
It appears going bankrupt didn't stop the suits over at Eron from granting themselves some dandy bonus action.
Salon.com Politics | Enron's last-minute bonus orgy
HERE'S ONE OTIS SHOULD LIKE
Ever wonder what ever happened to Bob Mould, guitar-playing monster of Husker Du and Sugar fame? Turns out he moved to Atlanta and became a writer for the WCW. Yup, for part of the past few years, Bob's crafted plots for professional wrestlers ...and he liked it. Lord of the Ring

Beside interviewing Bob and hanging out with him in a defunked Hoboken recording studio, I have a fond memory of his music. When driving back from the Northeastern Folk Alliance Conference a few years ago, Don Brody and I cranked up a Sugar record in the car to earbleed levels. Poor Chad Ferron, a wonderful guy and sensitive folk singer/animator tried to snooze in the back seat while Don and I thrashed about in the front to "If I Can't Change Your Mind", raving about the sound of the record like a couple of 14-year-olds. We thought it was the perfect antidote to a weekend full of too many folkies. Don and I could bond over music for hours and hours, trading worthless details back and forth. I miss him.
GENE SIMMONS VS NPR
I missed this exchange, but Bianca alerted me to a wacky interview between Kiss mogul Gene Simmons and NPR's Terry Gross of "Fresh Air" fame. NPR won't put it up on its own site, but luckily, it can be found at NYPOST.COM Entertainment: NPR JOCK SHOCK By MICHAEL STARR

A sample of the witty banter in the article:

Simmons: I was going to suggest you get outside of the musty place where you can count the dust particles falling around you and get out into the world and see what everybody else is doing.

Gross: Having sex with you?

Simmons: Well, if you choose but you'd have to stand in line.

Gross: OK, well we since you keep bringing this up . . . You write that you've had 4,600 sexual liasions."

Simmons: You're supposed to say ‘so far.'

Sunday, February 10, 2002

WHILE I WORK THE MIDDLE...
CB in PA crafts a fringe. Regarding Warren's comment You can't name one conservative position that I hold that equates to less freedom. And I bet you can't name one that George W. holds if it doesn't contain the word "fetus" Chris - a soon to be published novelist - replys sans capitals:

one doesn't need the word fetus in that argument...

how about the freedom to smoke dope?
the freedom to suck dick? (man to man, i mean; except in alabama where i mean anyone who wants to suck dick)
the freedom to write
the freedom to read
the freedom to not go to john fucking ashcroft's church

warren, o warren, your case is weak.

actually, it goes like this:
the FURTHER right you go is, in the end, MORE FREEDOM:
libertarians.

indeed, it is the slightly-far-right and centrist-rights who scare me.

and actually, on triple thought, it's only the church that scares me.
the fucking church.

that's REALLY scary.



I might add that the above Alabama comment holds true here in Florida too - and it isn't the liberals of this sunny state that are holding back the legality of oral sex. As for CB's reading and writing bits, well, I don't know that one can find "current" conservative positions to support those points. But I certainly have felt an anti-intellectual bias among conservatives. Actually, I should say an anti-liberal intellectual bias. Everybody loves college professors who agree with them. But once they take some obtuse stance on principle, it's the same beef - they're out of touch, they're read too many books, they're not connected to the real world. In short, people who get too book-smart are a pain in the ass.

And on a similar note, I am forever peeved by GWB's pride in having read virtually no books in college, especially when contrasted with his avowed pro-education stance. A bit hypocritical, no?

Saturday, February 09, 2002

OLE SCRATCH TO SEEK NEW WINTER DIGS
According to CNN.com, the mayor of Inglis, Florida has banned Satan from the town in a proclamation supported by the Town Commission.

"What were we suppose to do?" asked one Commissioner. "Stand up in support of Satan? Admit that we're all followers of that most glorious dark knight, hellbent on spreading a firery retribution across the face of planet Earth? No fucking way."

Okay, I made up that last paragraph. But this is exactly what happens when people get that Patriot bug up their ass. How long until Inglis bans funny-looking foreigners?
BRIAN WILLIAMS WANTS TO ROCK!
Yes friends, the rumors are true. Ex Twisted Sister mountpiece Dee Snider is the voiceover dude for MSNBC "

Of course, MSNBC couldn't really embrace the ugly reality that was Long Island rock and roll in the 1980s, so they made sure to mention this: The truth of the matter is that Dee Snider was one of the clean rock 'n' rollers. He didn't drink, he didn't do drugs, he just rocked," says Val Nicholas, v.p. of advertising, promotion and marketing for the network.

Oh yeah - and Dee also dressed up like a transvestite hooker working the meat packing district at 8am Sunday mornings.

Nicholas reportedly added that the network - in keeping with its new love for clean-living rockers - also tried to hire Fugazi's Ian McKay, who was well-know as a straight-edge punker since his Minor Threat days. True to his hardcore enthic, McKay entire payment demands consisted of "$100 in cash, dinner for the band and a safe place to park the van." The deal fell through when McKay insisted that MSNBC add "All-Ages" shows to its line-up "for the kids."

Friday, February 08, 2002

WARREN AIN'T BUYING IT
Yesterday, Warren asked that I mention any law conservatives are pushing which limits the freedoms of Americans. I came back with Ashcroft's US Patriot Act, for it's virtual revocation of the 4th Amendment. Warren said Swing...and a miss then added:

I feel secure under that Patriot Act that "unreasonable searches and seizures" will not be performed, the key word being "unreasonable" and certainly not without "probable cause." So I think the 4th Amendment is safe. Will mistakes be made? Of course. Will the odd innocent person have his e-mail searched? Yeah, okay, I'm sure. But aside from a few exceptions, will mainstream Americans' freedoms really be infringed? I don't think so.

Mind you, this is coming from a person who's fear of the government partially stems from a belief that power corrupts - those who have power, tend to abuse it. Isn't that exactly where Ashcroft's lie falls? Given expanded powers, some government officials will abuse this law. People have fought for years to build the legal status to protect privacy, and here Ashcroft is returning us to the dark ages in a matter of days. And again, this is a law that drives the far right crazy with hatred for Big Brother Government (although God Knows they'll never admit they're aligned with the left on the issue).

The question "will mainstream Americans's freedom really be infringed" is nonsense. A) What is a mainstream American? B) If you can identify them, why is protection of their rights more of a concern than non-mainstream Americans? C) So if the government enacts a law which outlaws a tiny percentage of the population, that's okay as long as the vast majority doesn't feel the burden? Isn't that something the 2% of our population who call themselves Jews should be worried about?

Demanding that I not only come up with a law, but also demonstrate it's current negative impact is tough. Bush has only been in office a bit over a year. He's spent most of that time fighting a war (well) and leading the economy into the dumper (maybe it's not his fault, but he's in front). It's way too easy to look at a law like the Patriot Act and say Well...I don't think that'll be a problem Well, sorry. I do. When the rest of the country gets over their war fog, they will too. My bet is America's great middle will revoke Ascroft's Patriot mandates when the first abuses are made known.

But let's move on to Example #2 - More civil liberties violated in the name of gettin' them terrorists. Ashcroft Seeking to Free F.B.I. to Spy on Groups

Attorney General John Ashcroft is considering a plan to relax restrictions on the F.B.I.'s spying on religious and political organizations in the United States, senior government officials said today. The proposal would loosen one of the most fundamental restrictions on the conduct of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and would be another step by the Bush administration to modify civil-liberties protections as a means of defending the country against terrorists, the senior officials said.

The attorney general's surveillance guidelines were imposed on the F.B.I. in the 1970's after the death of J. Edgar Hoover and the disclosures that the F.B.I. had run a widespread domestic surveillance program, called Cointelpro, to monitor antiwar militants, the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others, while Mr. Hoover was director...Some officials who oppose the change said the rules had largely kept the F.B.I. out of politically motivated investigations, protecting the bureau from embarrassment and lawsuits.


That's right - the US government, basking in nostalgia, is moving back to the good old Nixon days and reintroducing a Hoover-era program - Cointelpro. Last time out, Cointelpro was an major embarrassment for the FBI as they were used like tin soliders by Nixon's office for dirty trick political games. This is the very program that soiled the reputation of the FBI for years and years. And now it's back! Just in time for the holidays.

Maybe my fear about the re-emergence of folk music was more accurate than I thought?
A CHALLENGE
Great, dense email exchanges going on between Warren and myself. The most recent from his coast included this challenge: You say the "far right" is about reducing the freedoms of the people. That implies that the "near right"; i.e. George W, myself, are at least a little bit interested in that same goal, if in a more sensible manner. And that's not true. You can't name one conservative position that I hold that equates to less freedom. And I bet you can't name one that George W. holds if it doesn't contain the word "fetus."

Gee, how much time do we have here? Let's do this one issue at a time. First, we'll start with the recent revocation of 4th Amendment Rights accomplished with the USA Patriot Act. As usual, Bush's henchman in this operation is John Ashcroft. The opportunity was afforded by Sept. 11th Attacks and co-conspirators were the lame-ass Democrats who supported this bill so wholeheartedly. Read all about it via Nat Hentoff in John Ashcroft v. the Constitution.

From the article:

Keep in mind that the new law's definition of "domestic terrorism" is so broad, as we shall see in future columns, that entirely innocent people can be swept into this surveillance dragnet. You are not immune.

As law professor and privacy expert Jeffrey Rosen points out in the October 15 New Republic, "If [unbeknownst to you] your colleague is a target of [the already in-place] Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Investigation [with its very low privacy standards], the government could tap all your [own] communications on a shared phone, work computer, or public library terminal."


For review, the Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, household papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, will not be violated; and no warrants will issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized."

Of course, one could argue that the writers of the constitution didn't specifically mention email and phones, so those shouldn't be included as areas of protection afforded by the constition. If you believe that sort of strict reading, I'd like to remind everyone that the writers of the constitution used flintlocks, so the 2nd Amendment must only protects the rights of citizens to own flintlock rifles and pistols.

The funny thing about the USA Patriot Act is that pisses off the right as well as the left. Forget Nat Hentoff for a moment. My luthier friend who lives in the Everglades amid constant fear of attack from UN helicopters, views the Patriot Act as an blantant intrusion into personal privacy.

It's strange the issues where the far right and left meet.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

BIAS IN ACTION
Now here's an example of media bias I can recognize. According to CNN.com - Justice: Microsoft public comment weak, The Justice Department said Thursday that only about 10 percent of the public comments it has received by e-mail about the Microsoft antitrust settlement were substantive, while others have ranged from form letters to pornography.

Wow. Sounds like a lot of junk and naked pictures got sent their way, huh? Well, not quite. It all hinges of what one means by "substantive."

Read a bit further and it's revealed that of the more than 30,000 comments received, 15,000 were against the settlement and 7,500 supported that settlement. Right there, you're talking about 75% of the comments registering a valid opinion. In addition, says the article, another 7,000 comments were dismissed as opinion, like "I hate Microsoft."

Forgive me for being a Mac user, but doesn't the opinion "I hate Microsoft" perhaps count for something in this case? The article finally reveals that More than a thousand messages are said by Justice to have been completely off-topic. Some of those were advertisements -- known as "spam" -- and at least one e-mail contained pornography.

So they got one porn e-mail. Out of over 30,000 comments, the Justice Department gets one porn email. Anyone who opens an email account gets more porn email than that in a month. Yet CNN feels that one porn email justifies a mention in the lead paragraph, which, when you re-read it, sounds like only 10% of the comments made sense and the rest were junk or porn.

You might think that CNN would compliment the population for generating over 20,000 on-topic responses, but no. Instead, CNN (or perhaps the Justice Department itself, you can't tell from the article), strives to downplay the number of negative responses to the MSFT Antitrust settlement, describing the overall response as "weak." Is that some kind of dare? Do they need to be hit with pies in order to recognize a point is being made?

BTW - their version of "substanitive" means pages of comment were included with the opinion. So that's the lesson for today. If you want the Juctice Department to take you seriously, you better respond with more than "Yes or No."
WHY POLITICS AND MEDIA DON'T MIX
A Voice of America journalist who scored an exclusive and controversial September interview with the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has been taken off the air and reassigned to what she and the agency's news director call a "useless job." Chicago Tribune | Reporter off radio after Taliban story

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

A NEW DOWNTOWN HANGOUT
After many months of work, some friends a finally opened their new club in downtown Orlando last night, the
Back Booth. Check it out. Goth Grandaddies Gene Loves Jezebel will be playing at the end of the month.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
America Too Patriotic, Says Norman Mailer``You'd really think we were some poor little republic, and that if one person lost his religion for one hour, the whole thing would crumble. America is the real religion in this country.''
BIANCA SEZ....


CIA director George Tenet looks like he's having a bad day. He also looks like your older, sadder brother.

Spooky.
ENRON AND ON AND ON, PART II
I'm as stoked as the next guy when I think about putting various Enron criminals behind bars, but what exactly is the point of having them testify before Congress? It's not a courtroom. The committee hearings aren't going to solve anything. They appear to be nothing more than a TV op for Congressmen to get some good soundbites of themselves asking obnoxious questions (and don't you know those clips will show up in campaign commercials soon?).

If I was about to be indicted for anything, I wouldn't say a word in front of Congress and I'd try not to attend. Send the lawyer. I can't see the benefit for anyone on that side of the cameras.
MIRACLES OF MODERN DENTISTRY
I felt like I was in California.

My dentist is a modern gal. And expensive too. But those dollars go for patient-comforts like a CD selection so every patient can listen to what they like. Yesterday, I took advantage of her new toy - video headsets. That's right, it was a headset with two little screens in front of my eyes so I could watch a DVD of Steve Martin's "Roxanne" while she reduced two of my back teeth to pulpy stumps.

Happy, happy.

The mixture of dental gas and movie was a lot different than my previous mixture of dental gas and light classical music. Last time, when listening to music, I found my mind slowed to such a point that I was able to sink back and really enjoy the tunes. I heard the music as the composer probably intended - forget melodies and hooks, I heard emotions and landscapes. It was quite a pleasure. I started to like opera.

Watching "Roxanne" was totally different. First, that movie and I have something of a history. It was the first film my ex-girlfriend and I saw together more than a decade ago in NYC (we went to a free screening in midtown). I recall thinking it was a fun, well-written film. This time, under the influence of dental gas, I mentally dismembered the film. Instead of watching a movie, I saw the script. I saw every scene in the context of motivation and context. I was a screeenwriting teaching discussing if the joke was part of the plot or just Martin injecting humor into the script or how this bit of dialog revealed that plot set-up (I still can't figure out why Steve Martin was Shelly Duvale's "God Brother" except that it allowed them to be friends and not sexually interested in each other). I saw all the actors acting - some better than others - which is something I rarely notice unless it's outstandingly bad.

In short, I became a totally different sort of audience under the influence. And it was a lot different than getting drunk and watching a DVD. When that happens, I tend to like everything except the out and out crap.

So anyway, it was an experience. On Natalie's advice , I took two Alieve before going to the dentist. I ended up having virtually no pain last night or this morning. Not bad.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES
Getting big dental work today, so I expect this evening will be filled with "Cowboy Bebop" DVDs and pain medication. I'll likely be back tomorrow, unless I turn out to be functional tonight.
REAL MEDIA BIAS
As reported by the Independent News Professor Roger Scruton, the darling of the intellectual right, was sacked as a commentator for The Wall Street Journal yesterday in an editotial after admitting he took money from the tobacco industry to place stories in the national press.

Ooops.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

A WEEKEND FULL OF FUN
Things have been getting a bit political in my head lately. Not much of it makes sense, but if you don't think about yourself and form some thoughts, it's all just noise and rumor and stuff someone else told you. Curiously, the same point was made in the NY Times Sunday magazine during an interview with scientist James D Watson.

Q: Some people have said that your conclusion is based on conjecture and not on science. What do you say to that?

A: I think you have to speculate. If I have a good idea, I tend to believe it's true. An idea is better than no idea.

Q: But isn't that unscientific?

A: No, that's the way good science works. An idea can be tested, whereas if you have no idea, nothing can be tested and you don't understand anything.



Saturday Night was reserved for The Monster Truck Races at Orlando's Citrus Bowl (which, btw, has to be the nation's worst football stadium...a 70,000-seat, open-air pit set in the middle of the ghetto with secure parking for only about 10,000 vehicles). I'm sure you've all seen these events - modified trucks with tires six and a half feet tall drag race down a 75-yard strip, flying through the air over stacks of junked cars. Big, big redneck fun for sure. Truck names included Grave Digger, Reptoid, Sudden Impact and Eradicator. Oooo...spooky. The sold-out crowd spiraled into a frenzy when Power Forward rolled over on it's side during the freestyle competition (photo).

It's good to know that no matter how much promoters want to call this a sport, the crowd is there for the crashes. Speaking of the crowd, it was an interesting mix. They liked Country and Western. Put it this way - there were lines for every urinal but the bathroom sinks were vacant, know what I mean? Funny moment of the evening came when I spotted a friend, Mark Mullen in the crowd. Mark, a casting agent, is another artsy, Film Festival guy like me. For a second, we were both overcome with shame as if we'd bumped into each other at the Adult Video rental store. Ohhh....what are you doing here?. Then we just laughed.

The Super Bowl finished a hour ago and for once, it was worth watching. I never care who wins, I just want a good game and that last second field goal by the Patriots was way cool (God, I wish I had bet the Patriots and taken 14 points). The commercials pretty much sucked - Fox ran about six network show promos, which might indicate how soft demand was for spots.

The lamest moment was probably Paul McCartney's pre-game song -- some patriotic waffle about "Freedom" (btw - who was Paul's fat bald, drummer? He looked like that boxer Butterbean). The saddest moment wasn't the song itself, it was when Paul walked offstage. He handed his guitar to a roadie and then walked among the hundreds of cheerleaders who had served as dancers. Not one of those cheerleaders looked at Paul (they were probably wishing for 'N Sync). For that second, Paul looked a little lost - like he was expecting to be cheered but instead got silence.

Natalie and I were placing bets on whether U2's Half Time Show (sorry...The eTrade - Ha, HA, We're Still In Business Half Time Show) would include misguided anti-war statement from Bono and a rain of bottles from the crowd. Impressively, it was just the opposite. The band's backdrop for their second song was a scrolling list of all 9/11 victim names. Simple and effective, much like the Vietnam Memorial in DC. At the end of the set, Bono pulled open his jacket to reveal the lining was made of an American flag. I was told in Boy Scouts that using an American flag as anything other than flag was wrong. But Bono's gesture seemed heartfelt and he kept his mouth shut except for the lyrics. It was a powerful show and for a few minutes made everyone forget the game.

It also made me remember what contrived crap last year's half-time show was with Brittany, 'N Sync and Aerosmith. A pat on the back for whomever hired U2.

Friday, February 01, 2002

AND THE NEW BOB DYLAN IS...
Chris Guest and the rest of the Spinal Tap crew are preparing a new mockumentary that features aging folk groups reuniting for a tribute concert.

Anyone who recalls Guest during his year on Saturday Night Live might remember that he, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean did a short film for SNL where they played an aging folk group, similar to the Kingston Trio. They plunked banjos and guitars and argued about the relevance of the 14th through 32nd versus of various folk classics.

I'm sure the film will be funny as hell, but I'm afraid. Very afraid. Like musical moles waiting to be triggered for their assignments, folkies of this planet might use the film as a reason to break free of self-imposed obscurity and muster a Folk Revival. Remember, This Is Spinal Tap led right into the hair band decade.

Do we really want a folk revival?
GWB - THANKS FOR DEFENDING LIBERAL AMERICA
Listening to GWB's State of Union address, I was stuck by how Bush co-opted so many Democratic positions - from jobs programs to national volunteer corps to using the US military to defend human rights abroad (don't knock it - Clinton won by swiping a lot of Republican positions). That's when it struck me - our nation's War on Terrorism is a struggle to protect the gains won by Liberal America.

Mind you, I'm not talking about Liberal in the sense of America's currently minuscule far left (which is so fractured it can't even organized a cool Open Mic Night, left alone a functioning political wing). Instead, compared to the rest of the countries and societies in the world, America is a progressive nation standing fairly far to the left. Put totalitarianism and communism on one side (the far right) and America is way over there near Sweden. Sure, we sometimes list dictators as leftists because they're friends of Castro, but dictators deserve to be listed on the right as they are against the progress of democracy..

America believes in personal freedoms and human rights. We don't force woman to dress in burkas and in fact offer them a fairly even shake in society. Economically we are extremely liberal in that anyone with an idea can start a business and anyone with a few dollars can own a company via stock. We're generally tolerant of different religions. And socially, we're one of the few nations in which people can move up or down the social ladder. Yes, we have many, many problems and we're not perfect. Nobody is. But compared to most of the world, we're far ahead in breaking down barriers.

There's a reason the rest of the world - even those who hate our government - want to come here and it ain't because they want to join our fine Christian churches. The reason is the USA is more liberal than other countries, which means greater opportunity for those willing to take a chance and work. Liberalization - no matter how much conservatives might hate the word - is our strength.

If you consider all the things GWB mentioned when explaining why Americas will fight the unknown enemy of terrorism, they boil down to rights, freedoms and benefits fought for and won by people who could have been described as the liberals. Woman's rights didn't happen because conservative church goers supported the issue. Human rights weren't a great cause of conservative slave owners. Social mobility didn't occur because aristocrats needed new blood at their parties. Hell, America didn't split from England because conservative Tories were ready to pick up arms and fight. In every situation, liberal thinkers pushed opened the door. Do they go to far? Yeah, sometimes. I'm still not sure about the whole somebody else is to blame for my problems cult of litigious victimhood. But we are a nation built on liberal causes, which eventually absorbs those causes which are accepted into the mainstream.

Think about it - one of the fiercest contentions between America and Muslim societies is the treatment of women. Did Rush Limbaugh in his wildest dreams ever imagine the US Army marching to fight for the rights of FemiNazis?

Sure, within our own country we bicker and argue about left and right, fast or slow, liberal or conservative, but it's all just posturing for power. To the rest of the world, it's a moot point. We're Americans and the divisions we create for ourselves are meaningless to them. When I lived in Hoboken, everyone who was twentysomething and white was considered by locals to be a Yuppie. It didn't matter that my friends and I were young, white and poor musicians and artists. No, they viewed us all as white, money-grubbing yuppies who should be charged the highest possible rents.

The point? Hang as many flags as you want, sing patriotic songs and rise up and down in applause whenever the President strings together a sentence - it doesn't matter. The fact is, when this country goes into battle, it's not just defending conservative American ideals. It's defending the rights of citizens to read Mother Jones or download porn; the rights of Noam Chomsky to criticize the government ad nauseam, the right of rocks band everywhere to plug in, turn up and play loud, the rights of Rosie to admit she's a dyke, the rights of 60 million Americans to drink beer and watch the Superbowl this Sunday.

Get used to it - we're all liberals to someone else.