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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

                     T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

30 September 2007

"We are the team to beat in the National League East."
Philadelphia Phillie's shortstop Jimmy Rollins said that during spring training this year. For that, he took a lot of guff, none of more persistent and vicious than that from fans of the New York Mets.

Within the hour, the Phillies clinched the National League East title in the last game of the season while the Mets were losing ingnominously to complete an historic collapse.

Rollins? He led off the game with a walk. Stole Second. Stole Third. Came home on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Chase Utley.

Later, he hit a triple to drive in another run. That triple put him in the 20-20-20-20 club (doubles, triples, homers, stolen bases),only the fourth player in National League history to achieve that almost imppossible record. He wanted that triple, trust me, and he got it in his last at-bat of the season.

If Jimmy Rollins is not the National League Most Valuable Player this year, there is no justice.

Did I mention that the Phils were seven games behind the Mets on September 12?

Because it's New York, the Big Choke will be the national story, but a much better, more dramatic, more heart-warming, more spectacular tale happened here in Philadelphia, a story of success rather than failure, of grinding-it-out, never giving up, doing it as a team.

This was a team hit by serious injuries throughout the season, losing All-Star Utley and big bopper Ryan Howard for a month each and pitching ace Cole Hamels for three weeks during this stretch drive which included a sweep of the Mets (which was preceded earlier by another sweep of the Mets). Their big name free agent pitchers were tremedous flops and they ended up with a guy who was in Double A for the first quarter of the season, not even invited to the big league training camp, as their "ace" while Hamels was hurt, and Kyle Kendrick became the first Phillies' rookie in more than a decade to win 10 games.

Ryan Howard, who was last year's NL Most Valuable Player, finished the year with 47 homers and 136 RBI, the last home run and the last three RBI coming in today's game. He achieved those totals despite missing a month of play due to injury.

The much-maligned Charlie Manuel, a truly terrible in-game coach until this last week or two, held this team together, kept the faith and deserves to be named Manager of the Year.

And Rollins, who played every game and every inning aside from 17 this year, who set a major league record of at-bats in a season, who never quit and played defense with the best of them all year long, I repeat, was the Most Valuable Player.

This one, given the way it happened (the Mets incredible choke), should go a long way toward easing the 43-year heartache in this town over the Phils' own collapse in 1964. Now all they need is to get to the World Series and face the New York Yankees and they can erase the sweep they suffered way back in 1950.

They were the team to beat in the National League East.

And nobody beat them.

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[Posted 5:00pm edt]

28 September 2007

Because it's only fair.
Most of the people who come to this site come because of Liquid Diet Online, the beer blog which is the home page and which reflects the work I do in the real world. A little while ago I posted a message there which explained my recent addition of a "Tip The Bartender" link at that page.

That message and the link can be found here. It seems only fair to everybody that I link to it for the few, the brave, the non-beer folks who find Mermaids their reason for visiting in these parts so you can have a chance to participate if you choose to.

It's not that the two pages are mutally exclusive by any means, of course. Indeed, here's a fun fact which I may or may not have reported here before: at the Great American Beer Festival two or three years ago, several people recognized me on the convention floor and came up to tell me they liked what I do here...and 75% of these were talking about here, this page!

Either way, if you visit both LDO and Mermaids or if you just come here to this page, and if you enjoy your visits and come back regularly, please consider supporting the site by going to the LDO page and using the PayPal link.

Or not.

If you do send a token of your appreciation, be sure to include the fact that you're a Mermaids fan, 'kay?

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[Posted 4:14pm edt]

24 September 2007

Worth Reading.
Dick Polman:

I realize, of course, that the Blackwater dispute isn't nearly as important as the portentous struggle over a two-week-old moveon.org newspaper ad; after all, the Blackwater story is merely about the deaths of at least 11 Iraqis and the wounding of 12 more, and we know that, in American politics, those faceless people matter a whole lot less than a few juvenile words aimed at an American military man.
Mark Bowden:
[Ann] Coulter herself is not taken seriously by serious people, so her attacks are a little bit like being pelted by cotton balls. She represents a form of journalism free of real reporting or even modest research, which is very popular today. "Facts" are not things to be carefully observed or unearthed, but tidbits gleaned by Google or Yahoo searches. Where the facts don't exactly fit the argument, they can be artfully massaged. This arsenal of virtual factlets is then employed against an imaginary wrongheaded opponent in an ongoing adolescent debate, ostensibly between "conservatives" and "liberals," where the goal is to score points for your side, preferably in words outrageous enough to be heard in the din of the Internet, to startle an increasingly jaded public.
Both columns are well worth reading, especially the Polman one, which questions just how "sovereign" the "sovereign" Iraq government actually is in light of what we've learned from the Blackwater contretemps. Bowden uses a typical Coulter distortion of something he wrote to talk about the nature of contemporary journalism.

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[Posted 9:50am edt]

22 September 2007

Two voices for common sense...and moral outrage.
Over at Eric Alterman's Altercation blog, there's a "man, I wish I had said that!" letter by the inimitable Charles Pierce, which was posted yesterday:

Not to put too fine a point on it, but has anybody checked to see if Harry Reid is, you know, actually alive? Conscious? Ambulatory? Clothed and in his right mind? Put a mirror under his nose for a second, will you? If you're keeping score at home, the Democratic majority of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body this week failed to get the WGDB to pass a bill to give overstretched soldiers what amounts to their statutorily required stateside respite. It also found itself unable to endorse the general concept of habeas corpus, thereby putting the WGDB somewhere up the track behind John Lackland of England on the subject of civil liberties. It also then--with six more votes than it was able to muster for soldier's relief, and with 22 Democratic senators forming a eunuch chorus--resolutely got pissed off at a newspaper ad. This last, while infinitely more trivial, will be infinitely more significant...
"Eunuch chorus." There's no way to say it better.

Meanwhile, at the Vanity Fair site last week, the equally inimitable James Wolcott had his say about the not-so-Teflon General Petraeus:

If General Petraeus is willing to let Brit Hume lead him around by the damp nose, it's proof that what we have here is little more than Joe Lieberman in highly-decorated drag, positively ablaze with flare. It is a measure of Petraeus's obliging pliancy that he would even accede to testifying on the anniversary of September 11th, thus ensuring that his report would function as a tie-in product. As columnist Gideon Rachman wrote in today's Financial Times: "The symbolism of getting General David Petraeus to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the anniversary of 9/11 appealed to the White House. It should not have. It is crass."
Go read both these in full.

Meanwhile, I can't wait for tomorrow to see which Sunday Talking Head has the nerve to ask one of the GOP bitch'n'moaners to explain EXACTLY how the MoveOn.org advert "demeaned and undermined the troops>"

What do you think my chances are? Maybe it will come right after the tenth or twentieth time they lament about Hillary Clinton being so mean as to refer to Big Dick in uncomplimentary fashion. She's gonna be on all the shows tomorrow so you can bet that will be an "issue" they all raise.

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[Posted 12:10pm edt]

20 September 2007

"Hoping that history will somehow vindicate him, the president has entered a phase of decadent perversity."
Former Mexican president Vicente Fox's new autobiography apparently says that George W. Bush's grasp of the Spanish language is, at best, at a mediocre grade school level, an entirely believable statement which reminds me yet again of just how often, how thoroughly, how completely this administration lies about everything.

Everything.

Recall how we were told by his minions that he was "fluent" in the language as yet another argument to try and offset the public's general impression that he was dimwit? It was, even then, almost as hard-to-believe as the silly story floated more recently about how Dubya and Karl Rove were engaged in a book reading contest...no, it didn't come close to the level of that whopper, actually. That was so obviously fictional that I doubt anybody, even that ever-loving 30% base bought it (they probably didn't want to, I'd guess, since book reading has to be pretty much anathema to folks who can still hold allegiance to the Worst. President. Ever.).

In his new book, Dead Certain, putative Bush biographer David Draper types out the current "Bush is smart" meme: the president loves reading history, devours the stuff.

Yeah, right.

Draper's book is not the blind hagiography that the president's handlers must have hoped for, to his credit, and in one of those Salon pieces which more than warrant sitting through a painless 30 seconds or so of advertising to gain access, Sydney Blumenthal uses some of its revelations to offer an insightful portrait of a president who's lost his moorings (the headline on this piece is the sub-head of his article). The segments quoted below analyse how Poppy Bush screwed things up when he set up his doltish son for the presidency and report how the emerging picture of "Bush's brain" as a barely-tolerated tool rather than a good ol' Texas buddy appears to be true (and must be devastating to the man who was going to change American politics forever and hopes to cash in on a non-tell-all book):

Bush incessantly invokes a host of presidents past -- Truman, Lincoln and Washington -- as appropriate comparisons, and also talks of Winston Churchill. Frederick Kagan, the neoconservative instigator of "the surge," refers to it as "Gettysburg," a leap of historical imagination that transforms Bush into the Great Emancipator. In his unstoppable commentary about himself, Bush has become as certain of his exalted place in history as he is of his policy's rightness. He projects his image into the future, willing his enshrinement as a great president. History has become a magical incantation for him, a kind of prayerful refuge where he is safe from having to think in the present. For Bush, history is supernatural, a deus ex machina, nothing less than a kind of divine intervention enabling him to enter presidential Valhalla. Through his fantasy about history as afterlife -- the stairway to paradise -- he rationalizes his current course.

[ ... ]

Bush is a classic insecure authoritarian who imposes humiliating tests of obedience on others in order to prove his superiority and their inferiority. In 1999, according to Draper, at a meeting of economic experts at the Texas governor's mansion, Bush interrupted Rove when he joined in the discussion, saying, "Karl, hang up my jacket." In front of other aides, Bush joked repeatedly that he would fire Rove. (Laura Bush's attitude toward Rove was pointedly disdainful. She nicknamed him "Pigpen," for wallowing in dirty politics. He was staff, not family -- certainly not people like them.)

[ ... ]

The elder Bush assumed that the Bush family trust and its trustees -- James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Prince Bandar -- would take the erstwhile wastrel and guide him on the path of wisdom. In this conception, the country was not entrusted to the younger Bush's care so much as Bush was entrusted to the care of the trustees. He was the beneficiary of the trust. But to the surprise of those trustees, he slipped the bonds of the trust and cut off the family trustees. They knew he was ill-prepared and ignorant, but they never expected him to be assertive. They wrongly assumed that Cheney would act for them as a trustee.... [He] committed a monumental error, empowering a regent to the prince who would betray the father. The myopia of the old WASP aristocracy allowed him to see Cheney as a member of his club. Cheney, for his part, was extremely convincing in playing possum. The elder Bush has many reasons for self-reproach, but perhaps none greater than being outsmarted by a courtier he thought was his trustee.

[ ... ]

Draper reports that Bush loves claiming Ronald Reagan, not his father, as his role model. But Gingrich, more than Reagan, is Bush's forerunner. It was Gingrich who heightened the politics of polarization to a level of personal attack and unscrupulousness unlike any seen since the underside of Richard Nixon's operations was exposed in the Watergate scandal. Reagan was free of such dishonest and vicious politics. Bush, Cheney and Rove ("Pigpen") picked up where Gingrich left off. Republicans can no more return to the halcyon days of Reagan than magic carpets can be used in Iraq. For the Republicans to recover, they would have to extirpate their entire recent history, root and branch.

[ ... ]

Bush grasps at the straws of his own disinformation as he casts himself deeper into the abyss. The more profound and compounded his blunders, and the more he redoubles his certainty in ultimate victory, the greater his indifference to failure. He has entered a phase of decadent perversity, where he accelerates his errors to vindicate his folly. As the sands of time run down, he has decided that no matter what he does, history will finally judge him as heroic...

Elsewhere, Will Bunch checks out the right wing's take on the Blackwater USA thugs in Iraq and is driven to ask a question (my Bold Emphasis added):
There's been a lot going on this week -- so much that I havent been able to comment on maybe the biggest story of all, and that is the uproar surrounding the U.S. security firm Blackwater USA and its alleged shooting up of civilians in Baghdad. Its the biggest story because Iraqis are so angry over this, it may be the final tipping point in their relationship with their self-proclaimed liberators.

Tonight I see that Matt Drudge -- the man who "rules our world" in the DC politico-journalism complex -- has decreed that the right-wing version of what went down with Blackwater in Baghdad is the storyline that needs to get out there. And so he's done something he only does in a pinch and linked not to a mainstream news org but to the conservative Pajamas Media, and its correspondent Richard Miniter.

Miniter -- who's written from Baghdad before -- claims that even the CIA cant operate in and around Baghdad without the gun-toting Bklackwater guys, which may well be true, as its been reported that the State Department has halted many of its outside activities, even in the supposedly safe Green Zone. He also suggests that the people killed were not civilians but "civilians", with quotation marks, and that entire anti-Blackwater campaign is some kind of Iranian plot to undermine the highly successful -- according to Miniter, anyway -- surge:

According to exclusive information obtained by Pajamas Media's Washington editor Richard Miniter, the movement of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad has been all but shut down. Are we witnessing Iran's counter-strike to the surge?

Movements of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad-along with most State department diplomats and teams building police stations and schools-have been frozen for the second day in a row, according to a State department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Essentially, the CIA, State department and government contractors are stuck inside the International Zone, also known as "the Green Zone,' in Central Baghdad. Even travel inside that walled enclave is somewhat restricted.

The bizarre logic here escapes me. The surge is working so well that our own CIA agents -- trained for months at "The Farm" in Virginia to learn how to kill a man with a ballpoint pen, and that sort of thing -- are now afraid to walk out the front door without a bevy of allegedly trigger-happy men toting machine guns and firing indiscriminately?

My God, what was it like in Baghdad before the awesome power of the surge?

But enough of all that. It's just a war. So depressing, you know. Thank the stars this administration was wise enough to stop us from seeing all those flag-draped returning coffins right from the start.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Free World in his news conference this morning, having lost track of Bin Laden, nevertheless found another real enemy of Truth, Justice and the American Way.

Moveon.org.

He wasn't alone in that, of course. The United States Senate finally passed some legislation related, however peripherally, to the Iraq War.

Condemning Moveon.org.

Tomorrow, look for the media to be up in arms about Hillary referring to vice-president Big Dick "Darth Vader."

God bless America.

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[Posted 5:45pm edt]

18 September 2007

Might I be just the teeniest bit impolitic?
The opening paragraphs of the lead editorial in todays Philadelphia Inquirer on the presidents nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as the new attorney general (bold emphasis added):

Theres no word yet on whether President Bush has chosen one of his renowned nicknames for his nominee to succeed former Attorney General Alberto R."Fredo" Gonzales. Good thing.

One key strength of retired New York federal judge Michael B. Mukasey would be that hes from outside the Bush administrations inner circle of yes-men with pet presidential names.

By that standard, let it be noted, the "inner circle of yes-men" included virtually the entire Washington Press Corps, all of whom reveled in their personal (and often demeaning) sobriquets from the mouth of the Leader of the Free World ("You have a question, Stretch?").

Just sayin...

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[Posted 11:05am edt]

All-out war? It may be necessary.
I am, with great reluctance but a sense of inevitability, coming around to this viewpoint (NOTE: link appears to be out of whack; scroll down to The Battle Is Joined). Liberals may have to attack not only the crazy ideas but the very nature of what passes for "conservatism" in America today if the nation is to be saved.

For the progressive body politic to take that course would mean that Election 2008 would be more vicious and damaging that we can yet imagine, but it may be the only way to finally put a stake into the political heart of a movement which flourishes on blatant denials of reality and carefully wrought distortions and embellishments to hold in thrall its shrinking and, truth be told, frightened base.

Roughly 30% of the US population seems poised to believe anything that feeds into its paranoia and inchoate fear. That a so-called conservative movement which thrives on keeping those emotions raging has the influence that it does in our politics and our media is no longer acceptable.

In truth, the existing right wing scream machine and the forces they represent are neither conservative nor, in the most basic sense, American. And it is time, far past time, for that to be said clearly and distinctly every hour of every day.

The Limbaugh Loudmouths and DeLay Distortionists have been wrong on virtually everything from war to the economy to race to the role of government and on and on. They are, by every measure, out of step with a clear and growing majority of the American public on all the significant issues of our time. Their visions of the future, such as they are, are both mindlessly appalling and cheerfully apocalyptic.

Yet they press on, pretending that the truth is nothing more than somebody else opinion and the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box a mere inconvenience.

POne example of the deceptive web they weave, perhaps the most pernicious and unconscionable of the lot, is taken apart in by Dick Polman this morning. Go read it all, especially for his seven-point breakdown of how the myth linking Sadam Hussein and 9/11 has been thoroughly debunked. But in terms of my argument here, consider these paragraphs:

The resilient myth that Saddam Hussein plotted 9/11 is proof that Mark Twain was right when he said,"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

Even today, long after this 9/11 myth has been officially and repeatedly discredited, roughly 40 percent of Americans still insist that Hussein conspired with al-Qaeda to bring down the Twin Towers. And its a fair bet that this myth will remain in mass circulation as long as proponents of the Iraq war persist in believing that it is savvy politics to prey on peoples ignorance.

Consider, for instance, the current TV ads--sponsored by a White House front group known as Freedoms Watch--that seek to shore up waning support for the Iraq war by perpetuating the canard that 9/11 was a Hussein production. In their quest to stoke emotions in defiance of fact, the ad-makers arent exactly subtle. First, some military vets are shown making the case for staying in Iraq. Then, in the key image, were back on 9/11. The north tower is burning, the second tower is seconds away from igniting, and these words flash on the screen: They Attacked Us.

The ad doesnt state that"they" refers to the Iraqis, but clever advertising is all about connecting the dots...

[ ... ]

Yet despite all the empirical evidence, a pro-Bush group--financed primarily by some rich Republican donors, and some ex-Bush ambassadors--has nonetheless paid out $15 million to air ads that meet the dictionary definition of propaganda. The ads are airing in 60 districts where Republican congressmen are wavering in their support for the war; Pennsylvania, home to seven targeted GOP House members, is on the front lines of this PR war.

Clearly, Freedoms Watch and its ad makers are not shamed by the prospects of perpetuating a lie. Nor, apparently, do they see a downside in hiring, as their spokesman, the former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, whose track record of prognostications is far from stellar. This is the same guy who insisted, on the first day of the war, that "people will rejoice" in Iraq when the Americans take over, and "there is no question that...Iraq has weapons of mass destruction." Two months later, he opined: "I dont think theres any chance of losing the peace."

When Fleischer popped up recently on MSNBC to defend the ads, guest Hardball host Mike Barnacle asked him why he was perpetuating the myth that the Iraqis plotted and executed 9/11. Fleischer replied:"Mike, youre stuck in the 2001-2002 timetable and debate. (The situation today) is so far beyond that debate."

Translation: We should simply ignore the historical record.....

There is no need to call names and engage in mindless screamfests, no call to fall into the trap of engaging these charlatans at their own level.

Theirs is what the Catholic church used to call, may still call far as I know, "invincible ignorance." And there is but one refutation to that sort of nonsense.

The truth shall set us free. Lets start telling it.

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[Posted 11:03am edt]

17 September 2007

Wiping away those Monday Blues.
Heres a spirit-lifting story about my Alma Maters football coach and his program. Tales such as this, combined with Notre Dame starting off 0-3, were surely designed to lift my spirits on yet another Monday morning. And its working.

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[Posted 8:40am edt]

15 September 2007

Give that team a"Buffy."
Somebody named Heather Havrilesky has given props to the wonderful Friday Night Lights TV show which NBC,i n a flash of what passes for sudden inspiration in the TV world and perhaps shows why NBC is trailing all the other major networks in the ratings. has moved to, of all places, Friday nights as of October 30.

Last year they switched a show with"Friday Night" as part its name around from, I think, Mondays to Tuesdays, or maybe Wednesdays, a tactic sure to confuse all too many members of the masses.

Anyway, heres how she begins:

Youd think that if you trotted out the most original depiction of the modern American family since Tony and Carmela bickered over an open refrigerator, youd reel in countless viewers and a big sack full of Emmys to boot. Not so for"Friday Night Lights." Despite developing into the most dynamic and heart-rending drama on the small screen and garnering glowing praise from swooning critics and passionate fans alike, this prime-time gem still hasnt attracted the ratings or the little golden statues that it so rightfully deserves.
And heres how she finishes:
[W]hats impossible to express, what can only be experienced by watching a handful of episodes, is that"Friday Night Lights" has so much heart and sweetness, so much love for normal people with big dreams, that it has the power to give you a lump in your throat every single week. This is not just another cynical invention, not just another hopelessly slick, expertly fleshed-out formula. There are plenty of well-made shows on TV today; this is that rare show that just feels right. When you watch it, you get the sense that everyone involved in this production lives through this story, they believe in it, they care about and respect these characters, and theyre committed to bringing something honest and beautiful to your TV screen."Friday Night Lights" has tons of soul, and it deserves to be around for a long, long time.
In between, she makes the argument well. Worth a read (especially if youve never seen the show), eeven if you have to go through watching, very briefly, an advert to get your day pass. Ive let my Salon subscription lapse and am back in that state, which I find only minimally annoying.

So far.

Nicely done, Ms. Havrilesky. But calling the award for the years"Least Appreciated Show" the Buffy? After our favorite under-appreciated vampire slayer?

Thats cold, thats just cold.

Definitely appropriate, however.

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[Posted 10:10am edt]

One more television note.
Im pretty much using up my TV comments quota for the month in one swell foop (yes, thats deliberate wordplay), but I cannot not recommend (and thats a deliberate double negative) this discussion of the two best shows ever (once again from Salon).

My vote: the former for its wit, structure and characterization; the latter for its verisimilitude, use of language and capturing of an ignored part of contemporary reality. Anyone reading this who has not seen either seriously needs to rectify that deprived state. Really.

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[Posted 10:15am edt]

14 September 2007

Giving Donovan a deadline.
The Onion seems to have a definite insight into the mindset of Philadelphia Eagle fans:

Frustrated with the Eagles last-second 16-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, and with quarterback Donovan McNabbs failure to single-handedly score three touchdowns, prevent two of his teammates from muffing punts, or block any of Green Bays field goals, thousands of Philadelphia fans demanded that McNabb win an NFL championship for Philadelphia sometime within the next three weeks.

"For the last time: How much longer do we have to wait for McNabb to get off his ass?" Eagles fan Jacob Wilkerson said of the five-time Pro Bowler in one of over 1,500 messages addressed to the quarterback left on the Eagles voicemail Monday."Come on McNabb, its time to finish the job. Weve been really lenient up to this point, but its time to hunker down and throw the ball. If you think you need to take the whole three weeks, thats fine, but we would really like it by next Wednesday."

While many football analysts agree that McNabb has done a phenomenally good job in a less-than-ideal situation for the last eight years, blaming Philadelphias failure to advance to the Super Bowl on such varied areas as undisciplined offensive execution, inconsistent defense, excessive penalties, lackluster pass protection, and almost criminally bad play-calling, fans say they are tired of people making excuses for McNabb...

In another sport, Michael Jack Schmidt, the greatest third-baseman who ever lived, once said that"Philadelphia is the only city where you can experience the thrill of victory and the agony of reading about it the next day."

Hey, when you live in a city with franchises in all four major league sports (were counting hockey here because...well, I dunno why, but people do) which hasnt seen a championship in 27 years, you do tend to get a bit testy, you know?

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[Posted 1:10pm edt]

10 September 2007

How do you recognized a brain-eating zombie?
This is funny, although a bit too long. It is well worth the time, however, just for the great ending:

Thanks to Mark Evanier at News From ME, or. more appropriately, whoever sent this to Mark in the first place, for the lead.

And the laugh.

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[Posted 12:53pm edt]

Naked people having sex. Borrring.
Wow. Is this ever dead-on correct. HBO has traveled a long way from Deadwood or The Sopranos, my friends. Hell, at this point theyre a quantum leap from John From Cincinnati.

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[Posted 9:23am edt]

09 September 2007

Cultural trend-setter? Moi? Consider the evidence.
About seven years ago, I toyed around for several weeks with an embryonic short story I had titled"The Man Who Loved Tina Fey." Personally, Id have pegged it as nine years ago or longer, during my period of quiet desperation in dreary quarters in West Conshohocken, but Feys career record on Saturday Night Live proves that impossible. In any case, she was early in her stint as co-anchor for"Weekend Update" and I was more than a little enamored. I had this idea of a strange, possibly dangerous man who took my essentially reasonable mindset to the edge of open obsession and then...well, I was trying to figure it out. I admit that I thought the title would help sell the story if I ever worked it out, because Fey was becoming a recognizable cultural icon. I could never make the whole thing work, though, and eventually it all faded away.

I suspect that my interest waned, at least in part, because of my scoring two time-consuming gigs after a long, dry period. The first of those was a big-bucks job writing for various clients of a local high-tech company. including creating the copy for an inter-active kiosk for the state-owned national oil company of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were only available for consultation once a week, at 6 or 7am our time and then managed to miss every one of the scheduled telephone conferences.

I completed that and a few more assignments to everyones satisfaction and it got even better. I found myself in the second-best-ever freelancers position when I was grabbed one day as I stopped in the office by invitation and told by two competing offices that I was wanted for each ones major project and had to choose between them. Said I, smiling,"gentlemen, I am available to the highest bidder." And then it got even more better-er. Within a few minutes, I suddenly leapt outright into the best-ever freelancers position when they said"lets see if we can work it out for you to do both."

Yeah, I could live with that.

Those were my last jobs for them as it turned out, mostly because one of the assignments, another interactive kiosk, was virtually impossible to pull off without a lot of input (maybe it would have be a disaster even with input, really) and all the inputters went on vacation and left me alone and friendless. But I did what I could and I got paid in full--two more the freelancers imperatives--and I walked away with an"it was fun while it lasted" sense of satisfaction.

The other gig was not nearly so lucrative. I signed on to teach a class in short-story writing in the graduate school of a local college. The classes were held twice a week at night, the students varied from very accomplished to not-so-much, it could be argued that I was not qualified for the task. It was, to put it gently, a real experience. If nothing else, I learned that, in todays climate, people paying their way to grad school at night are very different from most students; they are angry, not relieved, if a class runs shorter that the allotted time period. Theirs is an"I paid for this, dammit, and I want every minute" mentality.

Whoa.

We have--okay, I have--wandered way off track here. This was supposed to be about Tina Fey.

Tina Fey. Got it? Hold that thought.

Several years after all that, in better digs and a healthier mind-set, I fell head-over-heels with Mary Louise Parker in her role as a lobbyist/political consultant on The West Wing. Would that I had some long, convoluted story accompany this revelation to balance out the verbosity above. Such is not the case, however. I got nuttin so lets get the point.

Tina Fey. Mary Louise Parker. You can, as I did for while there, chalk it up to a certain (understandable) predilection I must have for attractive, dark-haired women of obvious intelligence whose sex appeal is subtle rather than overt. Well, yeah, except...

Except...

Both Ms. Fey and Ms. Parker have of late become major cult figures in America, each being the object of desire and admiration by a significant segment of the population.

They are not only hot, they are, well, hot.

The obvious question: have I, old, broken down, less than genteel, somehow become, if not actually a trend-setter, at very least a harbinger of where the culture is heading?

The evidence is there. Where I was is where its going.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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[Posted 4:45pm edt]

04 September 2007

Remember this?


I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.

                     T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

30 August 2007

ITS ON!!
Phils Sweep Mets! Trail By Two!

I promise you, if I ever find the guy who snuck in and posted that, I will definitely press criminal charges.

for fraud.

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[Posted 8:20am edt]

03 September 2007

Will we ever be strong enough as a people to become the people we like to think we are?
I pretty much agree with this and might even go further. To the extent that we continue to fixate on the 9/11 tragedy as if we were the only people in the world to have ever suffered an attack by terrorists, and especially to the extent that we allow those in power to play upon that fixation, we clearly manifest a national identity of people cowering in fear rather than the way we picture ourselves to be.

Indeed, because it was our own fault as well as an act of nature, and even more so because we have been so lax in dealing with the damage and the issues which resulted, Katrina/New Orleans is thje greater tragedy and our willingness to let that awful situation fade into the background reflects with unwavering accuracy just who we are as opposed to how we picture ourselves to be.

Then again, considering that we have neither the political will nor national courage to throw out the usurpers in the White House and subject them to criminal proceedings, we really all do know, deep in our hearts and the privacy of our thoughts, exactly who we really are.

And its not anyone that any rational person would wish to be.

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[Posted 3:40pm edt]

Its not just that theyre dumb, its that theyre really dumb.
The very good Glenn Greenwald offers a superb deconstruction of the amazing double-think which is the particular skill of right wing hacks and George W. Bush defenders (who are, admittedly, the same small and rapidly decreasing group). Marvelously, he captures Fred"I am the savior" Thompson managing to pull off this tricky sort of mental sleight-of-hand in the very same speech. Maybe he really is the reincarnation of The Gipper.

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[Posted 12:05pm edt]

02 September 2007

WTF? AYD? NCK, so B2W.
New York Times"Circuits" columnist David Pogue had fun last Thursday with developing some new online shortcuts beyond the classic LOL and such developing ones as WTF? (which is probably used by a zillion people who have no idea what theyr really saying).

A sampling:

GI -- Google it

MOP -- Mac or PC?

JUOC -- jacked up on caffeine

TWD -- typing while driving

[ ... ]

Finally, it occurred to me: Why should the convenience of online shorthand be the province of teenagers and twentysomethings? There ought to be a list that we, their parents and employers, can use, too. And now there is:

WIWYA -- when I was your age

NIWYM -- no idea what you mean

NCK -- not a chance, kid

B2W -- back to work

AYD? -- are you drunk?

IGAT -- Ive got abbreviations, too

Check it out. IAHW, YGNTD*

*(Its A Holiday Weekend, You Got Nuttin To Do).

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[Posted 11:32 am edt]

This ones for Phil...
...who runs the SFreaders.com website from his digs in Northern Ireland.

the2007 Hugo Awards were announced during 65th World Science Fiction Convention, in Yokohama, Japan, yesterday.

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[Posted 11:29 am edt]

Obligatory political update.
GOP media manipulation, and ginning up a war with Iran and both blantant hypocrisy and incchoate panic in Republican ranks.

What, you expected something different?

PS: Based upon what Ive heard from certain"journalists" and the usual holiday weekend GOP spokesliars (i.e., mostly second stringers) the new manta being pushed is that the voters will look at all this GOP sleaze and blame all politicians rather than take it out on the Republican party. Look for this to become the conventional wisdom within the beltway by Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, per the the"media manipulation" link directly above.

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[Posted 11:27 am edt]

The saddest story Ive ever read.
Speaking specifically as a writer, Id say this is it, a tale of a book not read by Oprah. First Katrina, then rejection by a woman who could have made him rich and successful within a few minutes without even working up a sweat and not only chose not to, was adamant about it.

No wonder the poor guy is depressed.

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