Saturday, August 25, 2007


-Age 3: Like early man, I have trouble telling the difference between waking life and dreams. My Aunt Sheryl, my dad’s step-sister, only a few years older than my big brother Dave, passes away but her spirit is kept safe, entombed in a bulbous device of yellow plastic, with a red knob and many pipes. It comes to my attention, at a time unspecified, that the bulbous yellow device is a water pump, cobwebbed in the corner of our basement, and Sheryl has simply moved out of Ma and Pa’s house, and in with her boyfriend Lance. Years later: Lance becomes my Uncle. A few years more: Sheryl and Lance no longer speak to our side of the family, and she might as well be a spirit in a water pump after all.

-Age 6: In a panic, I ask my mom what happens to me when I die. Mom is cleaning out the hall closet and would rather be left to it. “Jents don’t die,” she tells me. With a great relief -- the greatest relief -- removed from my shoulders, I return to playing He-Man. Today’s adventure: Mek-A-Nek’s funeral. Prince Adam’s eulogy: “Farewell, friend Mek-A-Nek … if only you had been born a Jent.”

-Age 9: I practice my stand-up routine before our large bathroom vanity. I give myself the willies by turning the lights off, closing my eyes and saying, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody -- Mongoose, Manny, Maxwell!” I run from the room.

-Ages 13-17: Every Saturday I spend the night at Shaun’s house, along with Bobby, Adrian and Jarrod. Our adventures begin with the discovery of an empty bread bag and some matted down grass under a fallen tree. That night, we explore further and meet the Devil living in Shaun’s house. The Devil chases us up the hill to Shaun’s house, where we cower sleeplessly as he bangs on doors, removes screens from windows, and dances cloven-hooves on the roof. In the morning we find clawed potatoes in the yard and ashes where his knuckles stuck the doors. Every Saturday night thereafter he chases us from spring until fall, but our physical forms evade him. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually we do our best to stay out of his grasp, and succeed to varying degrees. Some of us drop out of school and take jobs in nursing homes. Some of us date girls who are dangerously younger, some get fat, drink beer and do drugs. We lust for hand models and enroll in vocational school. We drift apart, and nod goodbyes on graduation day. The devil catches each of us, in ways only we know for sure.

-Age 23: I experience my life’s great trauma. Her name is Xxxxxx Xxxxxx. Three months after I see her for the last time, she tells me she won’t call me again.

-Age 27: I go to bed one night, safely ensconced in Illinois. When I awaken, three days later, I live by sea.

-Age 28+: My adventures continue. Somewhen in the interval between six and now I learn that Jents will die after all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bound to wind up one lonely, twisted old man

I buy new music maybe once a year. I like new music, but it's usually just not my priority -- I'm happy to keep listening to the same Blues Brothers record if it means I can get a new book or two. But I made my annual purchase recently, for the sake of the new, for the sake of the blog...

The White Stripes -- Icky Thump

Every review I've read says the same things about it -- a return to form after Get Behind Me Satan, a return to their pre-Elephant sound, or at worst, a few good songs but mostly bloated ego. Well, I dunno, kids. The guitars that kick off "Icky Thump" are rockin' pretty hard, and there's not a lot more I require from my White Stripes records. I get the sense that Jack White might not have much of a sense of humor when it comes to his outfits/his music/his bands, so while I might not want to hang out with him when he's putting a record together, I'm happy to listen to it when he's done. "Conquest" inspires the cover's visuals, it thumps and it grooves, and of the batch, this is the record I play when The Librarian is at work I want to pretend to be a badass rock and roll singer.

Ryan Adams -- Easy Tiger

I love Ryan Adams so much. I don't even remember what got me into him in the first place -- I think I was on a mission for brand new music when Gold came out, and I picked it up on a whim. That led me backwards to Whiskeytown, which coincided with my realization that country music is rad, and from there I was insanely grateful that the dude puts out one (or two) records a year. The downside of his massive output is that not every song is a gem ... there's a lot to forget about on his recent releases, but the stuff in between is fantastic. What I've read about Easy Tiger says that it's unlike is other recent releases in that it's "all the good stuff" ... but I dunno. It's pretty standard Ryan Adams, I think. A few great songs, a few good ones, a few near-misses. But for songs like "Two" and "These Girls," it's definitely worth all the misses in the world.

Nick Lowe -- At My Age

Here we go. I found Nick Lowe a few years ago when he performed "She's Got Soul" on Conan O'Brien, and I was fascinated by this dapper old man with shock-white hair, smoking a cigarette and singing about girls. I bought The Convincer and played the shit out of it, only finding out later that Nick Lowe was Elvis Costello's producer back when he was, you know, Elvis Costello, and also the dude who sang "Cruel to be Kind." I guess he has quite the punky reputation, but I know him as the dude in the suit who sings blues/country-influenced pop songs, wears a suit, and has eyes that look ... not tired, but full. At My Age is the best new record I've bought since I Don't Know When. "Long Limbed Girl" is nostalgic for old loves, "I Trained Her to Love Me" is mean Nick Lowe at his best, and "Feel Again" brings it back to sweetness again. Thank god this man survived his youth.

Beastie Boys -- The Mix-Up

It's the album before their next great album! I'm not a big Beastie Boys fan, and I probably wouldn't have picked this up had it actually been their next great album. The Mix-Up is an instrumental, and I mostly bought it to serve as an alternative work record to The Prodigy's Dirtchamber Sessions. One review described it as future background music for countless frat parties, and that might be right. But it's good for what it is. Instead of putting it on while I wrote this paragraph, I kept listening to Nick Lowe.

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Sort of taken from Laurenn McCubbin, who I do not know, but whose blog I enjoy...

Where I’m at:

5 movies I want to see:
Knocked Up
10 Canoes
that new Harry Potter thing

I've enjoyed the hell out of most of the movies I've seen this summer. PIRATES and SPIDER-MAN 3 were swell, despite what folks might tell you.

Things I want to eat:
Anything snack-like. We're going to get a new cookbook today.

For a good few weeks I was cooking supper a few times a week -- chopping onions and following cookbook instructions and such. Kind of fell away from it after I made the three or four things I liked from the cookbooks three or four times.

Music I want to listen to:
the new Ryan Adams
the new White Stripes
the new Nick Lowe

I'm basically going to be partying like it's 1999. I don't know how I feel about that.

TV I've been watching:
John from Cincinnati
Flight of the Conchords
Rescue Me, season 4
Doctor Who (almost)

I've heard the 3rd season of WHO was fantastic -- it just debuted on SciFi this past weekend, but I haven't watched it yet. I'm looking forward to it. I've come around the last two years or so to thinking good TV is almost always better than good movies. You have more room to tell stories, and you can do it in more varied ways than the standard 120-page rhythm. JOHN has me perplexed ... I like it ... but I don't really want to sit down and watch it. The first two episodes were TV gold (especially Ed O'Neil), but after that ... I dunno. I'm into it when it's in front of me. Part of that might have to do with CONCHORDS, which comes on after JOHN, and is such an enjoyable half hour of television. I give you: She's So Hot ... Boom!

Things I have been thinking about:
Abraham Lincoln, as usual: "I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Also, comics. I've been doing most of my blogging on Sequential Heart, and it's gotten me back into the habit of going to the comics shop every week or so. I knew I was digging the new CAPTAIN AMERICA comics, but I didn't realize how MUCH I loved them until I wrote a review on the new issue. Also: Paul Pope. THB is coming back, and it's got me really excited to look over the last THB that I never really read. San Diego is on the horizon, the first time I've gone, and I'm stupid excited.

Also also, Shakespeare. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE has been on the cable TV lately -- man, I like it. I think I like it more than regular Shakespeare.

Things I have been working on:
I wrote a screenplay. A new one, with an idea I've been knocking around in my head and in the odd short story for about two years. It's hokey, but I used the How to Write a Movie in 21 Days method, and I'm currently on day 14. I have a full 122-page draft, and I'm working through the second draft now. I should have a readable version by the time I head back for a week of Ohio on the 16th.

The comic Amy and I are getting ready to pitch around at San Diego. More details to come, I'm sure. It's fun to write, and Amy draws pretty ladies.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

What we talk about when we talk about comics

I spiffed up Sequential Heart and posted some comics reviews there -- the idea is to run a group-blog where a few folks will post short reviews of comics a few times a week. I started things off with recent issues of SHAOLIN COWBOY, ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN and SPIDER-MAN. I'm working up some more graphic novel-y fare right now, and Amy plans on contributing some mini-comic reviews in the near future. I'd also like to write about some of the Bay Area folks we know -- I have BEOWOLF by the Two Fine Chaps sitting on the bookshelf, and Ben Costa's webcomic SHI LONG PANG that might just out-Usagi USAGI YOJIMBO.

Anyway -- I wanted to post about SH while I was thinking about it. Check it out, comment on 'em if you agree or disagree, and if anyone wants to join the conversation, just give a shout.

Sequential Heart!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Protecting a World that Fears and Mistrusts Him

So I saw this on Variety:

"In an unprecedented marketing move, 20th Century Fox and the Franklin Mint have created a Silver Surfer U.S. quarter that has been put into limited circulation in advance of the release of "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer."

And my first thought was, "At long last, the Silver Surfer is on the quarter." And then I thought ... well wait a minute ... they're selling me movies on my money. A little googling turned this up from Fox News:

"The U.S. Mint said in a news release Friday that it learned of the promotional quarter this week and advised the studio and The Franklin Mint they were breaking the law. It is illegal to turn a coin into an advertising vehicle, and violators can face a fine.

""The promotion is in no way approved, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by the United States Mint, nor is it in any way associated or affiliated with the United States Mint," according to the release.

Which made me feel a tiny bit better ... in the Variety report I read "Franklin Mint" and my eyeballs floated right past the "Franklin" part, and as much as I don't like 20th Century Fox getting into the habit of tampering with quarters to get my eyeballs on their movie promotions, I like it a little better than the actual U.S. Mint doing the same.

(If anything, they should bump Andrew Jackson off the $20 and put Thor up there.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Filtering Your News For 27 Years

Mike Gravel is a former Senator from Alaska, current Democratic Presidential candidate, and has his fingerprints on all sorts of accomplishments we're grateful for, and take for granted, these days: ending the draft in America (by filibustering, for FIVE MONTHS, a bill that would have extended it), ending nuclear testing in Alaska, establishing the Alaskan Pipeline, which now provides 20% of our country's oil, and playing a role in the release of the Pentagon Papers, secret government documents relating to the Vietnam War. He also played the role of "cranky old man" in the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Debate last week. Here he is either saying something Awesome, or complaining about what he had for lunch:

I can't say my vote would go to Mike Gravel in a primary, but I'm glad he's running. His exasperation over play-it-safe-politics is refreshing from a candidate on the national stage, and he provides a kick-you-in-the-nuts alternative to Kucinich if you like the idea of a candidate who wants to end the War in Iraq immediately. Here he is with a mustache:

He's been excluded from a planned New Hampshire debate hosted by CNN, WMUR-TV, and the Union Leader. CNN says this:

"Because Mike Gravel has not demonstrated measurable public support for his campaign to date, he has not received an invitation. But we have not excluded him (or anyone) from the debate. If he meets our criteria between now and the debate, he will certainly get an invitation."

And Mike Gravel says this:

"What was Orwellian in my not meeting certain criteria which the media organizations would not divulge becomes Kafkaesque when I am now told that I have not been excluded and can still be invited if I meet this mysterious criteria."

I think, especially in light of the post-debate interviews that featured Gravel on MSNBC last week, CNN is writing him off as the crazy/longshot candidate, and since Kucinich already fills that role without being as likely to spout off on uncomfortable topics (like in last week's debate, when he laid out how Senators Clinton, Obama, Dodd and Biden could practically end the war by filibuster starting tomorrow, if they really wanted to), they're closing the door on Gravel's face.

Gravel has practically stated outright that he doesn't expect to win the candidacy, much less the Presidency -- he's running to have a national spotlight on the issues he wants to discuss, and I'm grateful for it. When most politicians are more interested in soundbites, and too afraid to be candid with regard to the issues and their beliefs, I'm counting on the occasional crazy old man to stumble into the room and lay out some uncomfortable truths. In Gravel's case it's that, you know, "war is over, if you want it." It's more than likely he'll run out of cash long before the first primary is held in 10 months, but I'd rather the lifespan of his campaign be decided by the support or non-support of the public than by CNN's decision that his voice doesn't deserve to be heard.

Gravel went on to say:

“The statement said that there are literally dozens and dozens of declared presidential candidates. That is true but out of those dozens of candidates, how many are former United States Senators who have been given the stamp of legitimacy by the Democratic National Committee, SEIU, AFSCME, ABC, the Nevada Democratic Party, the Center for American Progress Action Fund etc? Only two, former Senator John Edwards and myself.

“Though this is not the only criteria for deciding the legitimacy of a candidate as other aspirants may have contributed distinguished public service as an appointed official or as an officer of an NGO or excelled as individual public figures such as Ralph Nader, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton making them eminently worthy, it is one indisputable criteria for defining a legitimate candidate.”

Complete statements from both sides here.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Earth Rules, and stuff on it is awesome

My friend sees coyotes in Chicago:

I can't decide if this is awesome or terrifying. I guess it's both.

In other news: there was a naked lady in my driveway earlier. She was sunbathing, so I guess that makes it summertime. Or, it just means I live in California these days.

Also, this is a thing that happened today:

Monday, April 23, 2007

We Are Handsome, and Talented

Ben Costa, Amy Martin, and your humble author, selling our wares at APE in San Francisco, April 21, 2007. Details, memories, dirty secrets to come.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Command D

So I won't lose it: a run-down on KAMANDI. I love the "world name" Kirby came up with -- "Earth, AD."

Monday, April 16, 2007

TV on the Interweb

Make Internet TV is a website that helps me n' y'all make, um, TV on the internet:

"This guide has step-by-step instructions for shooting, editing, and publishing online videos that can be watched and subscribed to by millions of people.

"Very soon, this site will feature short videos from experienced internet video publishers. If you're interested in sharing your expertise, visit the Make Internet TV (MITV) wiki and find out how."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

#7: Robots Conquer Earth

6 Ways to End a TV Series.


Found via Warren Ellis -- it's from M. John Harrison's blog:

"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

"Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

"Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid."

And when you are done you sit on it

Cave Story, an 8-bit style video game with very basic controls and a whole lotta plot. I played for about two hours tonight, and I still get flustered when I fight a Boss -- having the movement keys on my right and the action keys on my left is almost too much for my Nintendo-trained brain to handle. But it's fun, and it has a video game kind of storytelling technique that might be interesting to use in a certain upcoming comics project ... our hero wakes up with no memory of his past, in a strange land where rabbit-folk need his help ...

Also this, from Jame Kochalka's Cute Manifesto, specifically the essay "Craft is the Enemy":

"You could labor your whole life perfecting your 'craft,' struggling to draw better, hoping one day to have the skills to produce a truly great comic ... If this is how you are thinking you will never produce this great comic, this powerful work of art, that you dream of. There's nothing wrong with trying to draw well, but that is not of primary importance.

"What every creator should do, must do, is use the skills they have right now. A great masterpiece is within reach if only your will power is strong enough (just like Green Lantern)."

And then, from "Craft Is Not A Friend":

"Creating a powerful work of art is like running and leaping across a chasm. It takes all of your strength and you'll be dashed on the rocks and fall to your death. Being a craftsman is like sitting in your woodshop all day carefully building a chair and when you are done you sit on it."

That, and a well-timed and well-worded email from a certain Amy Martin, was what I needed to get my writerly head back in a good place today. Another of the day's victories was when I narrowly avoided supergluing my fingers to an Abe Lincoln button ... although there are worse things to have permanently stuck to your hand.

Go read American Elf. Read it every day.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A BoingBoing kind of day

BoingBoing also has this picture today, from a blogger who has "a small collection of photos of mothers disguised as chairs."

Another one

This Vonnegut quote turned up on BoingBoing:

"Do you know what a Humanist is? I am honorary president of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that functionless capacity. We Humanists try to behave well without any expectation of rewards or punishments in an afterlife. We serve as best we can the only abstraction with which we have any real familiarity, which is our community.

"We had a memorial services for Isaac a few years back, and at one point I said, "Isaac is up in Heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in Heaven now." That's my favorite joke."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

So it goes.

The NYT is reporting that Kurt Vonnegut has passed away:

"He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

"His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago."

The article goes on to talk about Slaughterhouse-Five, of course:

"The defining moment of Mr. Vonnegut’s life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces in 1945, an event he witnessed firsthand as a young prisoner of war. Thousands of civilians were killed in the raids, many of them burned to death or asphyxiated. “The firebombing of Dresden,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote, “was a work of art.” It was, he added, “a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the indescribable greed and vanity and cruelty of Germany.”"

But they touch on the hope that lived in his stories, too:

"To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”"

Goddammit, you've got to be kind.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

We won't hear your dreams, unless you really, really want us to

The house is bigger than anyone can tell. No, bigger isn't the word - it's the size of a house, as it should be. But it's more expansive inside, there are balconies without a clear path to reach them. And once reached, without a clear path away. But again, "balcony" isn't the right word - "loft" is better.

The point: the outside has four walls, and clearly defined beginnings and beginnings, but on the inside there are doors that open, and no map to where they lead.

There's a boy there, and a girl. They have shared history. They're acquaintances, but here's the thing: they are closer now than they ever were before, not because of a thing that they've gone through, but because of a thing they haven't gone through quite yet. Time goes both directions. They don't have the memories yet of what they'll experience, but they have the inner knowledge of what the experiences will bring.

Questions Raised, Never Answered

"There's mystery in the world, and we don't get all the answers ... seldom is a thing truly exhausted and known completely, and when it is, it cast aside as an empty husk, learned and experienced, but also forgotten. It becomes the empty shell of a mollusk, wrapping paper, a conveyor of something, but not the thing itself. It was once experienced and loved, but is now forgotten - it never remains the thing of affection.

"But a person, or a time, loved and taken away, or explored but not fully known - that is the thing. That becomes song, or poetry, it is remembered with longing and never forgotten. It becomes what endures."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A quick one before the shuttle

(And then last night I had a dream that George Strait was sitting next to me at some kind of cafeteria lunch, but I was kind of a dick to him. But it was because he had his boots off and was putting his feet up on the table.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

I was an ensign

I had a dream last night that I was playing the Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive VCR board game ... only I was playing it with Captain Picard, Riker, and Worf.

Usually my dreams tend toward pretty ordinary but uncomfortable things, like I'm working at my old bookstore again, or I've moved back in with my folks, or the brakes on my car don't work anymore. I've always wanted to have those dreams where you get to fight with lightsabers or fly spaceships.

So if the closest I can come is pretending to fly spaceships with fictional characters that fly fictional spaceships? I guess I'll take it. Riker was into the game, but Picard got bored pretty fast.

There are stickers that came with the game that look like the Star Trek communicator badge, and I was wondering if the other guys would stick them on over their ACTUAL badges, or like put them to the side, or what. But then I forgot to pass them out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thinking Ahead

From Warren Ellis, who found it wherever he finds these things:

Vampire Dictator Stopped with a Stake:

"Serbian vampire hunters have acted to prevent the very remote possibility that former dictator Slobodan Milosevic might stage a come-back - by driving a three-foot stake through his heart.

"Miroslav Milosevic (no relation) said "he and his fellow vampire hunters acted to stop the former dictator returning from the dead to haunt the country". His team explained that the wooden stake had been "driven into the ground and through the late president's heart"."

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Artist Eric Poulton has undertaken an awesomely nerdy art project - reimagining Star Wars as Steampunk.

That's Darth Vader! There's a bigger version on Eric's blog, as well as some rad renditions of Han & Chewie and Jabba the Hutt. Jabba even has a little mustache.

I wonder if they say it in the paperwork

From the BBC:

The city council of New York has voted to ban the use of the word "nigger".

"The resolution to ban the so-called "N-word" is largely symbolic as it carries no weight in law and those who use the word would face no punishment."

There's more in the link, but that's the meat of it.

Great Magneto's Tail!

NASA's New Horizon's space probe was pointed toward Pluto and the frozen, sunless reaches of the solar system on a nine-year journey after getting a gravity boost Wednesday from Jupiter.

Yeah yeah, etc. etc., New Horizons is flying to Pluto at 52,000 (!) miles per hour, giving us a view of Pluto we've never, ever had before.


Here's the best part:

"Project manager Glen Fountain said the craft will also travel through Jupiter's 'magneto tail,' which he described as a "tear drop-shaped bubble of plasma," streaming away from the planet into space."

Jupiter's Magneto Tail!

""This is a region never before seen," Fountain said."

Speak for yourself, Fountain.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

There's A Lot About My Face You Don't Know


We here at the Fun are taking a short break from posting pictures of Tom Vilsack to tell you about the 24 Hour Non-Stop Poetry, Fiction and Performance Kablammy I'm taking part in Friday March 2nd through Saturday March 3rd. It starts at 6pm Friday and runs through 6pm Saturday, and it features readers like Kate Braverman, the fine folks from Kitchen Sink Magazine, and plenty of my pals and fellow CCA-writers like Aneesa n' Polly n' Adam n' All the Rest.

I'm reading around 2am. There is word of open mic opportunities, as well.

Check it the funk out at:

The Playspace Gallery
California College of the Arts
1111 8th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chris Dodd - FOR the Constitution!

Chris Dodd, Democratic Senator from Connecticut and Presidential Candidate, has introduced legislation - the Restore Habeas Corpus Act - to effectively repeal the Military Commissions Act and, er, restore habeas corpus as a Constitutional right.

The website above is paid for by "Chris Dodd for President, Inc." and does a better job of setting Chris Dodd apart from his Democratic opponents than anything else I've seen from the guy. As the NY Times reports, Obama is putting himself out there as the anti-war candidate, and Hilary is the, um, Hilary Clinton candidate ... what's great about it is that it's not something anyone else can really *argue* against, you know? And hopefully by introducing legislation (election year legislation or not), it'll keep folks from forgetting the lousy Military Commissions Act the Bush Administration put into effect in the first place. With a Democratic Congress for the next two years (at least), there's a lot of work ahead to undo the unconstitutional and illegal things Bush has had free reign to push through.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Vote Interweb, 2008

2008 candidates and their presence on the interweb.

Interesting facts - Joe Biden and John Edwards and Chris Dodd are all over everything, even Facebook and YouTube ... while most of the Republican candidates simply have their own websites up, and nothing more. And some of them - I'm looking at you, Tom Tancredo - barely have even that.

Republican Candidates, 2008!

Definitely Running, Yes:

Sam Brownback, Senator from Kansas. Supports Congressional term limits; calls the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade "a holocaust"; supports a Constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage AND civil unions; supports "teaching the controversy" surrounding intelligent design in public school science classes. Notable quote: "No raise money, no get bonus."

I don't eat Domino's Pizza because the founder, Tom Monaghan, is a creepy pro-lifer who builds religious towns - so I'm sure not going to vote for the guy he wants to see elected President.

John Cox, businessman and radio host. Website touts him as the candidate "you've probably never heard of"; unsuccessfully ran for state office in Illinois in 2000 and 2002, not making it past the Republican primaries, and also lost in 2004 in the race for Cook County Recorder of Deeds; is basically just a rich dude from Illinois who visits Iowa a lot. Notable quote: "We must wing the war in Iraq and elsewhere so we are fighting terror over there, not over here." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but it's on his official website.

He's like a cliche of a conservative Republican ... I guess he's running so people will look at him for five minutes.

Jim Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia. He's a tough crime-buster! He hates terrorism! He likes guns! Um, he's another Republican candidate. Notable quote: "Jim Gilmore is a leader."

Jim Gilmore is totally vague about everything. Jim Gilmore put his hand on the Bible when he swore the Oath of Office.

Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City. He'll be tough like your dad on terror; doesn't absolutely hate people; one of like two pro-choice Republicans I know; vindictive and jealous; hates ferrets and free speech; is a knight. Notable quote: "Mayor Giuliani will do everything possible to cleanse this city of this falsified non-fat yogurt."

I don't really understand the people who think Giuliani won't win the Republican nomination because of his stance on social issues - despite the fact that George W. Bush SOUNDS like an idiot, have we all forgotten that the Republicans are really, really smart? America is pretty tired of Bush's particular brand of right-wing conservatism and Iraq-fighting - making Giuliani the perfect candidate for the Republicans. He's not creepily religious, but he's still got the tough-dad thing going on. Plenty of New Yorkers thought he was the devil incarnate by September 10, 2001, but the rest of the country still sees him as "America's Mayor." He hates homeless people, supports police brutality, and sees it as his job to shut down art and artists he doesn't agree with. He'll rope-a-dope Hillary if he squares off with her in a general election, and he'd out-Bush Bush on civil liberties as President. Hell, he'll out-Ashcroft Ashcroft. Not because of the Bible - but because Giuliani Thinks He's Right. Beware - beware! - Rudy Giuliani!

Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas. Lost 110 lbs. (!) after being diagnosed with diabetes; believes in creationism; named one of Time's five best governors in 2005. Notable quote: "I liked gravy poured on top of a big glob of mashed potatoes, I liked biscuits a lot."

Mike Huckabee, the rational choice! If Giuliani or Zombie McCain do anything particular crazy between now and the primaries (which is really, really likely), Huckabee might be the guy who steps in to say, "Well, at least I'm not crazy." He's a Republican candidate in the mold of easily defeated Democratic candidates.

Duncan Hunter, Representative from California (San Diego). Led the building of a 14-mile fence separating San Diego Country and Tijuana, Mexico, and subsequently supported a reinforced force along the entire US/Mexican border; supports sending more troops to Iraq. Notable quote: "This century is going to be a very dangerous century."

The latest in a long line of Republicans legislating hate and fear!

John McCain, Senator from Arizona. Creepier than ever, in a zombie kind of way; totally, totally, totally old; less "maverick" and more "I'll say anything you want if you will vote for me." Notable quote: "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." This is really a thing that he said.

McCain is old. He is old, and he is desperate to be your friend. He's the political equivalent of your grandpa, desperate for you stay at the nursing home just a little longer. He was kind of neat, as far as Republicans go, eight years ago - now he's just evil, and sad. And not in that order.

Ron Paul, Representative from Texas. Website is, actually, "" - very utilitarian, very "I've never heard of the internet; a non-interventionist, opposed to the Iraq War; a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party. Notable quote: "It's still fashionable to dislike McDonald's."

The dude's a Libertarian. He's pro-life, but doesn't support federal laws banning abortion - he supports legalization of medical marijuana - he's a small government guy in a big government party.

Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts. Looks like an actor playing the President on TV; believes in magic underwear; in favor of stem-cell research; believes life begins during humping. Notable quote: "The buck stops all the way up the chain."

I dunno ... he's a careful guy. He's very aware of his public image the potential hurdles of running for President as a Mormon. He's another one who has the opportunity to step into the breach if the front-runners do anything wacky. Then again, something like a particularly clever debate performance could put him over someone like Giuliani, who would be more likely to say something sloppy and off the cuff than Romney would. Romney strikes me like Hillary in that way - he's more careful than he is passionate.

Tom Tancredo, Representative from Colorado. Against abortion under any circumstances; delivered a banner and cards from Columbine students to children in Beslan, Russia after the Beslan school hostage crisis; supports current immigration laws and opposes Bush's proposed reforms; Karl Rove once yelled at him and called him a "traitor to the party." Notable quote: "I certainly understand and appreciate your need and desire to try and create the illusion of Miami as a multiethnic 'All American' city."

"Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" declared him as the "Hopeless Republican Candidate," as the counterpart to Kucinich as the "Hopeless Democratic Candidate." And after filling out this entry, all I can tell you is ... that says a lot.

Tommy Thompson, former Governor of Wisconsin. Supports the creation of three distinct Iraqi states; Elizabeth Dole likes him; um, that's roughly it. Notable quote: "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do."

Ummm. I guess he has money to burn? Or maybe he's angling for a VP or cabinet nomination.

Definitely Maybe Running:

Newt Gingrich, former Representative from Georgia. Not-so-quietly waiting to make a late splash, and/or run as a third-party candidate; totally made a Contract with America; resigned from Congress on account of being a dick. Notable quote: "The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument." Alternate quote: "Mr. President, we are going to run you out of town."

In my fondest dreams, Newt will be the great spoiler of 2008 - siphoning off conservative votes from the Republican candidate as he runs as a third-party candidate. In the real world, I think he'll announce in the summer as a Republican candidate, or early next year as a third-party candidate, and no one will really notice.

Update to the Update

I found a better Vil-sad picture:

"I guess I'll go eat worms."

Democratic Pillow Fight - update!

"It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today," said Tom Vilsack, wrapping up his campaign for President.

"I came up against something for the first time in my life that hard work and effort couldn't overcome. I just couldn't work any harder, couldn't give it enough."

Vilsack was the first Democrat to declare, in November 2006. Obama, meanwhile, spent the weekend diving in a pile of gold coins, a la Scrooge McDuck, while Hilary Clinton tried to scheme a way to get her hands on the treasure.

Tom Vilsack, 2006-2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

My Favorite TV Show is Back on the Air

Democratic Candidates, For Sure:

Joe Biden, Senator from Delaware. Co-sponsored the Biden-Roth-Cohen Flag Protection Act, which sought to make mutilation, defecation, or burning of the United States flag punishable by up to one year in prison, and/or a $1000 fine. Notable quote (besides that stuff about Obama everyone has already heard) : "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian Americans - moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." This was on CSPAN.

He strikes me as a classic Democratic party presidential candidate ... and I mean that in a bad way, you know?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator from New York. Calls her video broadcasts "HillCasts;" had a recent freak out over David Geffen talkin' smack about her and Bill. Notable quote: "Young people today think work is a four-letter-word."

Hillary's probably my #2 these days ... my biggest fear is that in a contest against Giuliani, she'd lose her cool and America would vote for it's #1 Tuff Enuff Dad instead.

Chris Dodd, Senator from Connecticut. Hired John Kerry's former presidential campaign manager; met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005 "to mend the strained relations between the two countries;" the fine collective of Wikipedia says he is "left of center with respect to Latin America." Notable quote: "I don't care what the public wants, I'm going to give it what it needs!"

I get the feeling that Chris Dodd would make an excellent cabinet member.

John Edwards, Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law; former Senator from North Carolina. Has been effectively campaigning for President ever since John Kerry conceded in 2004; will smile and say whatever he reckons you wanna hear. Notable quote: "If we can do the work that we can do in this country ... people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk again. Get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." As cool as that may sound at first - Christopher Reeve was still alive when he said it. So, no, Edwards is not the Zombie Choice in '08.

John Edward is like the creepiest candidate on any ticket right now - he's been running for President even before he ran for Senate, and everything he's ever done has been to angle himself for that office. If I thought he wanted to be President to help people - and not simply because he wanted to be President - that might be impressive. As it is, he's like the American Tony Blair - all smiles, oozing honey and dandelions from his lips.

Mike Gravel, Professional lecturer; former Senator from Alaska. Helped make the Pentagon Papers public, secret government documents relating to the Vietnam War; single-handedly filibustered 1971 legislation that sought to renew the draft. Notable quote: "Our three branches of government have become like an unstable chair, a three-legged chair." I tried to find something silly, but this is the best I could do.

It's pretty clear he's running an issue-campaign - there are things he wants us to talk about, and he wants to enter them into the national conversation by running for President. He's an advocate of direct democracy - that idea that, you know, all citizens should participate in laws and legislation. I didn't know much about Mike Gravel before this campaign cycle, so mission accomplished in some regard ... he's a sq dude, an alright guy. I hope he gets the chance to speak before the other candidates drown him out.

Dennis Kucinich, Representative from Ohio. Ralph Nader likes him; wants total military withdrawal from Iraq, immediately; is totally vegan; has pictures of his totally hot wife on his website. Notable quote: "I'm not selling insurance."

He's a nice guy. A really nice guy.

Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois. Get out of Iraq, we want Barack; a pragmatic moderate who, I honestly believe this, has the Right Idea; is a black dude. Notable quote: "I'm making Paris Hilton look like a recluse."

Newt Gingrich (!) said this about Obama: "Lincoln served two years in the US House, and he seemed to do all right." I think "inexperience" is a non-issue - getting practice in as a federal legislator doesn't necessarily make one a good leader, you know? It tends to make one a good bullshitter. I think Obama's honest and smart and patriotic, and daaaamn, I think that's a pretty good resume.

There are honest to goodness a whole lot of left-leaning voters who don't support Obama right now, not because he's black - but because they think *other* voters won't support him because he's black. Which is ... I dunno, passive-aggressively racist? Obama is the DEAN of 2008 - and I mean that in a good way, y'all.

Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico. Still exploring - hasn't officially declared; hasn't done a whole lot of covert campaigning, besides just being Bill Richardson. Notable quote: "Some days I'm solar powered. Some days I'm wind powered. And some people in this room might think I'm hybrid gas-powered."

I dunno what to make about Richardson - most of what I know about him is that both Gore and Kerry thought about him as a vice-presidential candidate. If he would, you know ... declare, or state a position or two ... I'd get a better idea about him.

Tom Vilsack, former Governor of Iowa. Wants a measured withdrawal from Iraq, leaving US troops in the north for awhile; wants to limit US carbon output; *really* wants you to realize he's running for President. Notable quote: "I'm not a rock star, but I'm rock solid."

Ehh. It's like someone's uncle running for office - yeah, they seem nice, but what makes him stand out?

Democratic Candidates, For Maybe:

Wesley Clark, retired four-star general. His own self figures he'll be the national security candidate; people love him for reasons still unclear. Notable quote: "I didn't go to Yale."

He's tough! But he's a Democrat! Wes Clark is like Thai food to me ... a lot of clever people in my life like him, but I can't quite get into it. I bet he'd make a killa-dilla VP candidate.

Al Gore, former Vice-President, current total smart dude. He's not running, folks. I believe this in my bones. Notable quote: "I don't see any circumstances under which I would run for president."

I love Al Gore. I voted for Al Gore. I would vote for Al Gore again. But, here's the thing - Al Gore doesn't want me to. You can just tell, you know? He grew a beard, he got mad for awhile, he got over it. The best we can do is follow his lead.

Next time: Republicans!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Devil in Shaun's Woods

Here's a thing that happened to me once:

"Every weekend until the winter came we went to Shaun's house on Saturday nights. We stayed all night and crept down to the woods after dark. The Man would be there in the trees, or sometimes he'd already be in the yard crawling behind us. He was always lower than us to the ground, quieter and better hid. Close to Halloween he wore a white skull mask instead of the red devil, and that was the night Milford had had enough and took his gun outside, a pistol. He told the rest of us to stay inside and we crowded around a small living room window, watching outside as Milford appeared in the dark, holding his gun out in front of him, walking slow and looking from side to side. Ten feet behind him crept the Man in the Woods, wearing his white skull mask, exaggerating his steps, knees up high, arms held out before him like Dracula. We yelled from the window for Milford to turn around. Milford didn't respond or react, but the Man in the Woods stopped his creep, turned his head to face us at the window, and held a finger to his lips, shhhh."

If you're in Chicago, track down a copy of No Touching #3 to read the rest - for the rest of the globe, visit their website and download the whole issue for free. The other stories are good too, but I can't promise they're this ACTION PACKED.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Randi vs. the TV Psychics

I love the Amazing Randi. He's made it his life's work to look at people who claim they can talk to ghosts, or sense spirits, or communicate with Venusians, and say, "dude, whatev."

I'm no cynic - I'd love for all of that junk to be real. It would be rad to live in a universe where spooky messages can be passed from beyond the grave - or just to know what happens when you die. I'd love it if Bigfoot was real, if those sasquatch howls were the real thing. If sparkly things in the sky were aliens, if the weird lights I once saw in the desert were from another planet. If dinosaurs still lived in lakes, and if people could bend spoons just by wanting to.

But it's all just kind of goofy. Bridges aren't haunted, toilet paper rolls don't unspool because there's a poltergeist in your apartment. It's nice to think so, though. Or to pretend for a night that it happens like that.

For the last ten years James Randi has offered a one-million dollar prize to anyone who can prove they possess paranormal powers. No one's ever won. From the recent article in Wired:

'A Nevada man legally named "The Prophet Yahweh" planned to seize the prize for charity by summoning two spaceships to a Las Vegas park last year, but negotiations broke down when he announced he was bringing several armed guards to the demonstration in case any "negative personalities" showed up. An inventor who claimed to have built a device that could sense the psychic distress of an egg about to be dropped into a pot of boiling water recently abandoned his application when the foundation suggested the egg be threatened by a hammer instead, in case the invention was really just detecting steam.

'"One a week gets as far as a protocol negotiation, and then drops off," says Jeff Wagg, who administers the challenge.'

But now Randi's changing the rules - before anyone can come to the Randi Foundation, they have to prove their powers somewhere else first. That frees them from dealing with anyone who walks through their door, folks looking for fame or who are just delusional. So instead, they'll be going after people, targeting the jerks and TV psychics who take advantage of people who really, really want to believe that they have another chance to talk to their friends and family who have passed on. You know Sylvia Browne, yeah?

Lookit her there, all thoughtful. She goes on Montel Williams all the time, writes books, tours the country and gladly accepts your cash in exchange for relaying messages from loved ones who have died. Once upon a time she accepted Randi's challenge, to undergo the tests of the Foundation and prove to Randi and the world that she really had paranormal powers and wasn't just a sideshow charlatan. Then she backed down, posting an open letter on her website saying that she wasn't interested in Randi's money, or his validation. Which is too bad - again, from Wired:

"That's a disappointment, because if Browne's claims were ever to stand up to a scientific test in an adversarial process, it would be an unprecedented event in modern history, potentially changing our scientific understanding of the universe. Instead, you can buy a psychic phone call with her for $700."

So. I love James Randi.

If laser beam eyes were real, dude would have them.

(oh, yeah - Wired link found via BoingBoing.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I want you to want me.

From John Rogers, who wants to propagate a meme without asking anyone to participate.

Here are 5 Things You Don't Know About Me. One of them is untrue.

1) I learned how to ride a bike when I was 24.

2) Once, I spent Christmas Day (and the following New Year's Day) working as a radio DJ. I played a Nirvana song from their Unplugged album and a dude called the station to tell me that I made his whole holiday season.

3) I hate dogs so much.

4) I spent a solid week, Monday to Friday, in the 2nd Grade telling everyone at school that I wasn't Matt, I was Max, Matt's identical cousin. For everyone else the joke was over by Tuesday, but I'd promised myself I wouldn't let it up. By Friday everyone was really pissed off at me (as mad as you get when you're 7), and I ate lunch being ignored. I tried to win back their favor on Monday by agreeing with everyone that Max, indeed, was a jerk.

5) I have been treated to barbecued chicken by a professional card player.

Medusa is burned in my brain.

Ray Harryhausen's creatures, in chronological order, in about four minutes.

Found via the Beat, which used to have an address I could just remember.


I believe in making statements before I am sure they are true. Thusly: I do not like anything ironically.

That is to say: I like country music because it's twangy and unpolished. I like Rocky because it's about boxing, because it's a weird love story, and because the Rocky movies lodged themselves in my brain, when I was a kid, in some place in the back that I cannot touch or manipulate, as the Way Movies Are. I like Christmas trees because they smell good, and I like having the room lit only by those lights when I'm working. I like cowboy boots because they clop when I walk and they make me taller. I like my mustache because I think it makes my face look good. I like Survivor because it's fun to watch real people (well, a certain kind of real people) scheme. I like the Amazing Race because Phil makes good faces. I like Deadwood and the Venture Brothers because they're perfect specimens of TV.

What else? I like Ford Focus cars because I don't know why. I like the way they feel when I drive them. I like games because they're fun, and I feel clever when I win them and a different kind of clever when I don't. I like alcohol that tastes like candy, because I like candy - hence, Mike's Hard Lemonade. I don't like sushi because it's cold and creepy and weird. I like biking because it's fun to go fast. I like Saturday Night Live because it's fun to find the patterns, and at least a few times an episode, it's funny. I like yoga because it feels like easy exercise. I like zombie movies because there are zombies in them, but I don't like much anything else with zombies, because zombies are made for the movies. Lately I like Scrubs because it's about people who are mean to each other, but like each other anyway - they know they're in a sitcom, but it works anyway. I like space because it's big and unknown, but I like Earth because it's where I live and it's all we've got. I like Captain Marvel better than Superman, because I could be Captain Marvel if I knew the magic word.

Not So Long Ago . . .

This is my friend Patrick Van Slee.

The internet is Awesome.