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23.5.03
 
Editor's note: For those of you who did not know my mother or don't want a heavy dose of sentimentality, scroll past this post for the usual mix of sarcasm, political ranting, France-bashing, Fox-gawking, and ironically detached media criticism.


Mom, 1946-2002


The darkest day of my life was one year ago today, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend 2002, when I got the call that my mother died.

She had come out of cancer surgery a day and a half earlier, and we thought the worst of it was behind us. When I talked with her through her nurse in the ICU a few hours earlier the night before, she was smiling, making jokes, being sarcastic, and trying to laugh, being herself, even though she was hooked up to a ventilator.

The next morning, my aunt called me with the horrible news that she had had a fatal stroke in the middle of the night, dying in her sleep. I remember that moment, that stab of pain, so vividly. It felt like the world had ended. Even though I was surrounded by people in a very crowded Admiral's Club at LAX, I could not stop myself from howling in pain or collapsing onto the floor (why was I even in LA on business? I already had a ticket to fly in for the weekend, and Mom didn't want me to come home earlier; if you knew my Mom, you'd understand).

Mom meant so much to so many people. Since I am an only child and my parents had separated, she pretty much was my family: mother, father, brother, sister, often best friend, always there, always giving, always there for me, to laugh, soothe, or even rage against the asshats with me when I needed to.

To my friends, she was the cool mom, the one who MADE us kids stay up late on Saturday nights during the late 1970s just so that we would see and know who John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, and Bill Murray were. To her French students, she was the cool teacher (and the secret about her actually doing backflips will remain safe with me). To her friends, she could always be counted on to be loyal as well as wickedly funny.

So many of the good things about who I am come from her: my looks, my passionate loyalty, my intelligence, my ability with languages, my sense of humor, my fascination with (and ironic detachment from) popular culture, my sense of honor, my independence, my patriotism, my happy élitism, and the small bit of grace that I have.

A few of the bad things, too, especially being too darn loud and a chronic inability to suffer fools gladly in any shape or form.

She always knew the right things to say, to help me find the strength, faith, and courage to move forward. She even did this from beyond the grave. At her viewing the day after she died, her best friend, who was with her the weekend before, came up to me and we hugged. After the initial tears and both of us moaning, "this sucks, this sucks, this sucks," Mom's friend grabbed me, fixed me with a piercing gaze, and said,
"I don't know why I am telling you this right now, but I feel like I have to. I was with your mom all last weekend, and all she could talk about were two things.

First of all, how much she loves you and how proud she was of the man you've become, and

How you are doing the right thing with XXXXX"
(my ex, who I was going through a divorce-like breakup with at the time).
Even then, in that dark hour, with Mom in a coffin on the other side of the room, Mom knew what to say to help me survive by answering the only two questions I would have asked at that moment.

I already knew all the other answers. Unlike some people, there wasn't a lot that was unsaid or unresolved between us. As the line in the book When Parents Die says, "We shared what we had the sense to share. And it was a lot. And it was good."

I still love her and miss her terribly, especially on Sunday nights when she would invariably call in the middle of the Sopranos, the one hour during the week when I was not to be disturbed. Unlike the divorce situation that Mom told me would leave a "permanent hole in my heart", though, the hole created when Mom died has been filled. By the rest of my family, especially her sister, my friends here in Dallas who have become my family, Mom's spirit, and a renewed faith in God. Which is probably the best testimony Mom could have to the great job she did as a parent: I survived her death, and I will always remember her, but I have grown since then, too.

One moment Mom always used to remember and laugh about came when I was twelve, and my class went to visit the town mental health center on a field trip. When the trip was over and I got into the car with Mom, I was visibly shaken--freaked out, actually. Mom asked me why, and I told her: "the woman at the mental health place didn't just say goodbye, she told me she would 'see me again soon'! Am I insane?" Mom carried that piece of pat psychiatric diagnosis with her the rest of her life, telling me about it whenever I got unduly exercised about the opinions of those supposedly in authority.

So, Mom, if you're reading this in Heaven, I'll see you again soon. But not just yet.

 
Mom on blog

I even think she would have enjoyed this weblog. The comment over the phone would have gone something like this:
It's nice, dear. But don't be so damn wordy--no one's going to read all that, get some sleep, quit writing at such odd hours, quit watching so much Fox News or you'll go blind doing that, lose some weight, stop smoking (I can smell it), ask out that nice girl I met at that dinner party the last time I was out there in Texas, and whatever you do, please, please, PLEASE, don't write some sad mushy tribute thing to me, damn it! I know how you feel, but I hate hearing that kind of treacly sincere crap, nobody ever really reads it, no matter what they tell you to your face, and the only person it does anything for is yourself, and you should be getting on with your own life and quit worrying about me.

And since you have this web thing, why don't you put your margarita recipe on there? I hate having to call you when I'm trying to make one here in Richmond. And while I've got you on the phone, how do I get the DVD player to record "In the Heat of the Night"? What? It doesn't record? Then why did you get it for me if it doesn't record? Why would you spend that amount of money if it can't even do what the old thing did? I'm your mother, but I swear, I don't share your technology/gadget fetish... OK, Tell me how to hook the old VCR back up to the TV, wait, hold on, I'm getting on the cordless..."
Either that, or:
"Well, I tried to get on, but it didn't come up after a couple of seconds, so I thought it was broken and went back to EBay."
Gotta love your Mom, the good, the bad, and the rest of it. If your mom is still around, give her a call or, better yet, give her a hug. It matters.

And put on a sweater. Your Mom feels cold.

 
Save a fish, sign the guest map...

 
For the children, for your country, drink like hell

Mark your calendars: Wednesday, May 28 is Drunkards for Economic Growth Night. Because we need a bit of irrational exuberance right now.

Hat tip: the lovely, vodka-swilling, sinuous, dangerously dressed, island diva Venomous Kate, who has been slithering in my landlocked neck of the woods recently in a quest for firepower.

 
Sherbet alert, day 4


Still vigilant? Good. Frank at IMAO weighs in with a few helpful tips on keeping that vigilance honed to razor sharpness, at least when you're not out drinking to help the economy:
I see a stranger outside.
*Green: Maybe he could give your kids a ride to school.
*Blue: He might be lost; ask him what he's doing here.
*Yellow: Stay in your house and avoid him. Strangers bad.
*Orange: Run outside and pistol-whip him while questioning his involvement with terrorism.
*Red: Kill him; no questions asked.
Read the whole thing; it rocks!

 
Paging Dr. Blix, the gods must be crazy

Pygmies in Congo (the nation formerly known as Zaire) are begging the U.N. to investigate incidents of cannibalism among soldiers and rebels fighting them.

Horrible, yes. But the U.N.? Do they really want twelve years of hand-wringing? Twelve years of questioning and lecturing from the French, the Belgians, and whoever else in the E.U. has contracts with the current Congo regime for the fava beans and Chianti concession about how we shouldn't rush in like imperialists to impose our value system on this indigenous culture? Twelve years of trying to understand the "root causes" of cannibalism? Twelve years of... oh, screw it. This is just bad. Another reason for "Drunkards for Growth." Call George, guys, and save yourselves now.

U P D A T E
By the way, isn't there a more politically correct name for these guys? "Pygmy" sounds so, well, colonial. Aren't they now referred to as Bushmen or Bushpeople? Er, probably not the best choice for the PC crew, either, but we just don't use those clicking sounds in our language...

 
Norway, land of intrigue

Ever since the Vikings quit marauding in the 10th Century, most of us in the English-speaking world outside Minnesota haven't really had to worry too much about goings-on in Oslo. They don't even make boxy cars that break down far too often like their Swedish neighbors, or cool cellphones and soothing saunas like the Finns. Just fish, oil, and cute fjords for cruise ships to sail around.


Until this week. In the space of a couple of days, this placid, happy, blonde land has transformed into the weirdest community since Twin Peaks. Brain snatchers. Giant mutating dogs with strange bowel movements. Dire threats from al-Qaeda.

The brain-snatching and canine gigantism remain unsolved, but the Norwegian government feels like they've solved this al-Qaeda thing and nipped it in the bud:
1. They're promising to "take the matter seriously."
2. They're claiming that the terrorists have them confused with Denmark, an easy mistake, because, hey, we all look alike.
Sounds like Norway has already joined the European Union.

 
There is no word in English for "rapprochement"

Agent Smith, I mean, French Foreign Minister Dominique "Wilkins" de Villepin de Sarcelles de Vichy de Cul, failed to assimilate Colin "Morpheus" Powell yesterday. It had to have been tough, but Secretary Powell is still representing humanity:
You are not forgiven...

"Let's not paper it over. Let's not pretend it didn't happen". Asked if he continued to believe that France should be punished for opposing the United States, he said it was "appropriate to draw conclusions and consequences follow"
In diplo-speak, I think that's what is called a b***h-slap. The French keep thinking that we'll just let bygones be bygones, just like Clinton did, to their ultimate misfortune. They just can't get it into their têtes petites that W, like Reagan, says what he means and means what he says. Heck, they keep forgetting the signal trait of the Bush family politicians, helpfully written down about Bush 41 by Bob Woodward ten years ago:
Bush remembers and you have to be careful.
Sure, they voted our way at the UN (gosh, merci) yesterday and expect all to be made well, but we tend to look at what they do, not just what they say:
The emerging European superstate is seen by France as a rival to the US, not an ally. The euro is seen less as a facilitator of intra-EU trade than as a rival to the dollar. And the new European Defence Force is clearly aimed by France at becoming a substitute for, rather than the supplement to, NATO that Tony Blair hoped it would be.

M Chirac has been busy wooing leaders of the anti-capitalist movement who want to turn the Evian summit into a jamboree of protest.

Over the past two days, M Chirac and M de Villepin have again set out the French view that the world needs a "multi-polar" system, code for the idea that American power must be balanced by that of Europe, China and other centres.
Unforgiven, damn skippy. When addressing the G8 Summit in France, I suggest the President take his inspiration from Frank over at IMAO:
Well, Carrie, you understand that batteries are a great scientific accomplishment and they cost lots of money. You also understand that to play around and stick them in your mouth is wrong, so that tingle you feel is your conscience.
No, wait, that's not it. The President should really try this tack:
It's much easier for everyone to hate us rather than dwell on their own incompetence, but don't think we're going to go out of our way to be liked. We'll give foreign aid as always, because, well, we're just too nice of guys to just watch everyone starve. And you people can spout off all your hatred of America while you eat the food we donated to you, and we'll still be back to feed you again. There is just one thing you have to keep in mind, though: if you ever act on that hatred and try to harm us, your worst visions of hell will pale in comparison to vengeance we will wreak upon you.
And if that doesn't work, there's always Rummy.

U P D A T E
FYI, French people, you think I'm bad? I'm one of your friends. I've visited your country several times, and when your leaders aren't acting like connards, I usually prefer Pouilly Fuissé wine and Veuve Cliquot champagne to their California counterparts, think Kronenbourg 1664 is an extremely tasty beer, wear tons of black, even in the Texas summer, smoke, brunch at La Madeleine, and speak your language because maman was a French teacher who taught me to love your language and your country from infancy onwards.

And if I'm this ticked off, imagine what my pickup-driving neighbors here in the Lone Star State, even the ones who have a ranch 90 miles south of here in Crawford, must be thinking.

Don't mess with Texas, or America, anymore, Jacques. You have been warned.

 
Taking back the Net

As Cartman would say, kick a**. That, plus the fact that I don't need your viagra or genital-lengthening devices, thank you very much.

 
Aiding and abetting


Of course the Washington Democrats were helping out the AWOL Texas legislators. No one from Texas ever goes to Oklahoma on vacation. Heck, we even play the OU-Texas game in Dallas.

 
If the night falls and the bomb falls, will anybody see the dawn?


Just got done reading a couple of great pieces that really made me think, by Misha, the "anti-idiotarian rottweiler" (and Dallas guy who hasn't returned my e-mail) and here. The subject? The fact that our children (and, heck, most folks under age 30) will never really know the fear of the apocalypse that we lived with on a daily basis from 1945 until the late 1980s. And the fact that we have Ronald Reagan to thank for it.

I was in junior high and high school for the first half of the 1980s and in college for the second half, and the first half was scary. The Soviets (and almost everybody else) still thought they were going to rule the world. Reagan was standing tough, but everyone in the media (3 networks, CNN, Time, and Newsweek, no web, no blogs, just those guys) were telling us that Reagan was going to push the Soviets over the edge. One false slip from "Bedtime for Bonzo" boy like the one he made, say, just the other day, by golly (remember that "we begin bombing in 5 minutes" joke"?), and 30 minutes later, civilization, and maybe humanity itself, vanishes from the face of the earth.

Somehow, the quick death was easier to comprehend and live with. A flash of light, and you're an X-Ray, hello, Saint Peter. Living down the road from NATO Atlantic Command in Norfolk, Virginia and up the road from the B-52s at Seymour-Johnson AFB, we all thought we wouldn't be around very long. FYI, kids, B-52s back then didn't mean precision surgical bombing on 18-hour missions. They were sitting on the runway around the clock, engines on, ready to take off with 25-megaton H-bombs to hit what the missiles missed. But that was death, and while uncertain, it would be quick, and there wasn't much you could do about it anyway.

Shoulder pads, hair gel, Tina Turner albums for the survival kit
Most of the pop culture about the bomb was often silly and hard to believe. The Day After? Please. For all the hype and the special effects, not that scary. Sure, there was Jason Robards, so you knew you were supposed to look frowny-faced. But there was also John Lithgow as a scientist, and you just knew that given another 30 minutes or so in the film, he would have hacked something together to fix everything and make it right. And then there was Steve Guttenberg, whom we were supposed to feel sorry for because he was dying of radiation sickness, but you could never get it out of your head that he was the Police Academy guy. Even the missiles taking off right behind the football stadium was hard to believe. Maybe they were right there in Kansas, but a full stadium? Watching a football game like that while we were in a shooting war in Germany? Come on.

You also had Mel Gibson's Mad Max movies and the hordes of copycats, which seemed to suggest that the best course of action in the event of Armageddon would be to run to a sporting goods store to stock up on football shoulder pads and hockey masks, even if you lived in the Australian outback.

The desert of the realistic
The horror for me was the possibility of surviving the insta-war in a world where civilization, law and economics reverted to the Dark Ages, best made clear in the BBC's version of The Day After, Threads. The Day After took you out about a couple of weeks; Threads took you out a couple of decades, to show the horrible synergies when all the threads of civilization were unraveled. Darn those depressing Brits.

That was the real horror. Not mutants or Tina Turner in a very different post-Ike comeback mode, but more prosaic fear, want, and squalor, with no hope of relief. Food riots. Hiding in a basement shelter, fearing death from radiation or the sudden footsteps of looters above. Tennis courts turned into concentration camps by the police. Forced labor for all as serfs, using our Nike gym bags to gather wheat. Soldiers turning into bands of gangsters to survive and dominate. Future generations not knowing or caring about language, culture, or democracy, only "work" and "eat".

Still freaks me out to think back. Day in, day out, 30 minutes from now, any day, any time, fast-rewind from the Macintosh to Medieval Times, only you're the busboy, with no breaks for you or your family. Ever.

Scrambling eggs
And we lived with it for years, some lived with it for decades. And then, in the mid-80s, it changed. Sure, you had Gorby. But we all knew (or should know) that he didn't come around by accident. He was the first sign we all could see of Humpty-Dumpty being pushed. '85, '86, '87, '88, you could see him slipping. In '89, the wall fell. and in '91, Humpty hit the ground and broke to pieces, with the final act on Christmas Day, no less, as the hammer and sickle went down for good at the Kremlin.

Who pushed Humpty-Dumpty off the wall? Ronald Reagan, who stood tough, with a smile and a faith in America's inner strength that never wavered. Margaret Thatcher, same thing with the English. Pope John Paul II, bringing God into the fight on our side. All those men and women who served in the armed forces for 50 years, and all those who died, from Korea to Vietnam to El Salvador.

And there was also another factor, which all of the folks listed above believed in: Western Civilization and the dynamic culture it has created. As P.J. O'Rourke said when the Wall fell in '89 (kids, that graffiti thing in the museum that used to stand near the Reichstag in Berlin, where either the Mercedes building or the Sony Center), 70 years of Communist indoctrination were drowned out by a three ounce Sony Walkman. The horrible, soul-crushing brutality and oppression of the Soviet regimes could no longer stand because nobody east of the Elbe wanted to wear Bulgarian shoes any more.

Happy meals trump "holy" war
When I think about 9/11, the terror alerts, the duct tape and stocking up on bottled water, I think about those darker days, when you had more to fear than a few crazies on an airliner taking down a few city blocks. And if war with Afghanistan, or Iraq, or some other rogue terrorist state now is what it takes to keep the danger and subtext of dread of those darker days from returning to haunt my offspring, then it is worth it. The sooner the better, in fact.

I remember how we won that Cold War and ended those dark days the last time around: with conviction in our inner strength and the universal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, by being true to who we are and what we say, and by the power of our culture, that already brings people in from all corners of the globe and gives them a better life (go see Bend It Like Beckham, if you haven't already, or just think about Baywatch, even more beloved in the Middle East than here in America).

We beat back Nazism and Communism, evil ideas armed with the ability to take us back to the Stone Age in a matter of minutes. Today we face an equally evil threat from Islamic Fascism, which does not have the same technology but shares the same desire to take us back to those days in the name of their twisted vision of Allah.

With men like George Bush and Tony Blair standing firm as they lead us, and men like MarineTad fighting the battles, we will win through, with the help of God, a few U.S. Marines, and the indomitable spirit of our happy culture. We did it before, and we'll do it again. Thanks, guys.

22.5.03
 
Shave and a haircut, two bits

Geoffrey got his hair cut. And he's grumpy about it. Almost curmudgeonly.

 
Fox and friends


What is the deal with Fox News morning host E.D. Hill's new and extremely retro 'do? Is Fox n' Friends doing a cross-promotion with the upcoming Charlie's Angels sequel? Apparently so, and it looks like the promotion goes both ways:


 
Orange Alert, Day 3

Everybody vigilant? Good. The Department of Homeland Security is on the case, and so, it seems, is J. Crew.

 
Update

Thanks to all who have signed my guest map and commented on my logo buttons. Interesting people and places, and "SRG" from somewhere up in Wyoming/Idaho/Montana felt the need to warn me that all the women in Plano are actually fembots.

No need to fear the Plano fembots, SRG; they're another reason I love Dallas. I personally believe the way to overcome your fear is to embrace it. Several times on Saturday night and Sunday morning, if necessary.

And if you haven't signed my guest map yet, please do so. The fish are still in danger.

 
SSDD

The sherbet alert is based on lots of chatter from our friends at al-Qaeda, who helpfully issued a statement yesterday:
Al Qaeda Leader Tells Muslims to Attack U.S., Jews
Not exactly NEWS, though, and it's getting a little old. Why not show some creativity and find someone different to hate? Like the Swiss? Or the Romulans? Or the people at Wendy's who insist on placing people who do not speak English as their first language at the drive-thru window, forcing me to lapse into extremely bad Spanish every time I want a double and a Frosty?
The crusaders and the Jews only understand the language of murder, bloodshed... and of the burning towers.
Aside from Texas fast-food restaurants, we understand lots of languages. But we did get your message; that's why we've taken down Afghanistan, Iraq, and half your network already.
Attack the missions of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Norway and their interests, companies and employees.
Norway? You never hear about prejudice against Norwegians. Is al-Qaeda just randomly picking Western countries to hate at random? Is it now a fatwa on blondes in general? Did the vikings do something to the Arabs back in the 9th Century? Did Osama lose money on the Vikings in the playoffs?
O Iraqi people, we have defeated those crusaders several times before.
When, exactly? Murdered, sure, but defeated? In this millenium? In the last?

 
Time for a sit-down

Time for the upcoming G8 Summit, which should be fun:
Chirac to embarrass Bush at G8 conference
Well, at least he won't be embarrassing France anymore. Wonder what M le Président has in store. Maybe he's asked the head of the French FCC to make the party arrangements:
The current head of the French CSA (equivalent of the FCC) and ex-mayor of Toulouse is the target of accusations alleging that he organized S&M parties, committed acts of assorted violence, dealed cocaine and carried out money laundering, and participated in the murder of a transvestite.
Hat tip: Merde In France
M Chirac said the summit was a chance for "nations to show that they can and want to get along, to act together in the service of mankind".
... as opposed to what the French government has been doing the last few months.
French diplomats remain baffled and exasperated at how the Americans have frozen them out since the Iraq war
They're shocked, shocked!

At least the summit is in Evian, not Vichy.

 
To die for

Love Maripat over at Right We Are!. Good linkage, good advice, and a wonderful rant/fisking about political correctness and smoking stemming from the "controversy" about Nicole Kidman lighting up during a press conference in Cannes:
Footage was beamed around the world yesterday of Kidman lighting up at the annual event while promoting her new movie, Dogville. The Oscar-winning actress was immediately admonished by the film's Danish director Lars Von Trier, but Kidman shrugged her shoulders and kept smoking.
Not sure what the big deal is, myself, since everyone in France smokes more than Denis Leary, but a wonderful gesture for free choice. The film Nicole was promoting still sounds awful, but she has now redeemed herself.

I couldn't find a picture of Nicole smoking, but here is a picture of her in Cannes, along with a picture of another blonde Aussie celeb (Kylie Minogue) smoking. Since I'm too lazy to Photoshop them together, you'll just have to imagine.


And try to ignore Kylie's horrendous tan lines.

Right We Are! also turned me on to this blog, which somehow manages to combine sexual commentary and wistful thoughts about Billy Graham. And that site led me to this site, an interesting female blog about sex (but with R-rated commentary, so don't open it at the office).

 
American idolatry

I personally am not into this show, but it is a major cultural meme, so I am forced to comment. The big guy from somewhere I've never lived barely beat the guy from North Carolina of ambiguous sexual preference. The end.


Personally, I find it much more interesting that the Dallas-area winner of last year's contest, Kelly Clarkson, has had her rear end photoshopped by Fox. She and the weird-hair guy are in some sort of movie about last-year's contest, apparently made for the eight people who are still unaware of the show. If you are over the age of 13 and go to an actual theater and spend actual money to see this, you will be banned from the gene pool.

 
PETA gets a clue

PETA's newest idea: drink beer, not milk! This sure is a crazy year. First, I admire an English socialist (Tony Blair), and now, I have to admit that PETA has a good point. Coming soon: flying pigs.

 
Wal-Mart v. Target

Michele says Target, Maripat says Wal-Mart.

The only Wal-Marts here in the Metroplex (yes, that is the local term for the DFW metro, yes, it sounds like a bit of female anatomy) are in the far-outer 'burbs, so the only real Wal-Mart experience I have is with their warehouse store, Sam's Club: "ridiculously low prices on huge quantities of brands you never buy!" But they have incredibly cheap gas, and I love the fact that you can buy mattresses, tires, and meat in the same building.

I agree with Michele: the greeters are creepy. Everything in the retail experience is designed to communicate a message, and the subtext of the greeters seems to be: "save money here and sock it away for your retirement now, or you'll be doing this somewhere in Florida when you're 80".

There's also the issue with checking your receipt against your shopping cart on the way out the door. They do the same thing at Fry's, and while I understand the motivation behind it, it just feels demeaning.

 
Sixth sign of the Apocalypse

A Roseanne Barr reality show. Words cannot adequately express how disgusting I find this woman.

21.5.03
 
Orange alert, man your battle stations


Another alert. Good to see the government being prudent, and good to see us taking this in stride this time (the Dow fell only two points yesterday). Exactly right. Be alert, not batty like in February. And hey, we've already got the duct tape.

And the evening news tonight, the crack Dallas police say they're ready for anything:
"We're always on the lookout for terrorists; this just means we're going to be looking real close now."
Whew. In New York, this means smokers, small business, and people sitting on milk crates will likely get a brief respite from Mayor Bloomberg's reign of terror as the police deal with real concerns instead of enforcing Hizzoner's personal aesthetics.

 
Mapquest

Thanks to everyone who has signed my guest map so far.

There are many, many more of you regulars who haven't signed it, though, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to resort to drastic measures.


Sign my guest map NOW or more fish will suffer. We have the capability and the will (note the happy smile). Maybe fish don't feel pain, maybe they do. Are you willing to take that risk? And remember, in Europe, this sort of thing qualifies as something even worse: performance art.

 
Kermit the Frog on war crimes accusations: "It's not easy being green"


Amnesty International was a bit silent this winter about the mass killings, people shredders, rape rooms, and all that under Saddam's regime, but they're all over this case like Andrew Sullivan is on the New York Times brouhaha.

And no, this is not a joke. I don't know which is worse: Amnesty International actually looking into this as evidence of torture, or the editorial slant that led the BBC to take time out of their busy day making up false accusations about the Jessica Lynch rescue to confer with AI about the moral ethics of Barney songs as a weapon.

In the war or terror that's actually happening, we are actually reaping benefits from what we've sowed. Terrorist offices shut down in Damascus, Palestinians getting fed up with Hamas, and al-Qaeda getting desperate. Thanks again, Tad!

 
More pre-season IronyFest action

Clinton homie and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe, showing us why the Democrats are the pre-season pick to sweep the North American conference:
Let me tell you folks, that is a disgrace. This is George Bush's Washington. We're going to beat George Bush, but we're going to do it on principles and we're going to do it on morals.
Morals and principles like this, and dry-cleaning tips for this... so many responses, so little time!

 
No doot a-boot it

Even though they may have lost Wayne Gretzky years ago, have to put up with a their delusional (and suspected Frenchman) Prime Minister's with a huge inferiority complex about America and face months-long waiting lists to see a doctor, at least their s**t stinks less than America's. Literally.

 
Creative development

The lovely ladies at Right We Are! have asked for small graphic "buttons" for some of the sites they link to, so I thought I'd develop one for my blog. Problem is, I can't make up my mind. So let me ask you: which button do you think expresses the essence of this site in the most compelling way?
1. The Scream

Represents many things: the pain of leftists when they are confronted, my tendency to rant about almost anything (Buffy's gone, aaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!), and your pain at having to wait for hours on end while my site struggles to load yet another freaking picture of Laurie Dhue or, worse, some actress or a fembot badly photoshopped into a Fox News set.

2. Red Pill

The red pill, as fans of The Matrix and its sequel doubtless know, is the device used to wake up from the computer-generated dream world of the Matrix. It's the alternative to the blue pill, the one you take to remain in PC Hollywood/de Villepin/liberal la-la land and forget that any other viewpoint ever existed.

Not to bias you or anything, but this is my favorite. Cool and hip, with a penchant for obscure references... that's what I aspire to, anyway.

3. Big Gun

I'm a guy, and it's summer movie season -- time to blow stuff up!
If you have a preference and are so moved, please feel free to e-mail me, let me know what you liked, and, most importantly, why.

I know I'm asking a lot with this and my guest map, but you all are brilliant, kind, and generous, and you don't want me to threaten any more innocent fish, do you?

20.5.03
 
Roam if you want to...

I now have a guest map! Click NOW! But wait, there's more! Actually, there isn't, but it's still kinda neat.

I've been wondering where all of you are from; there are just too many darn visitors these days to be accounted for by family and friends. So if you have a moment, please click on the link here (or the permanent link down and to the right) and let me know where you are. Are you Texans? Yankees? Belgians? Klingons? Now you can let me know.

Some of you have also asked when I'll be adding a "comments" feature for each post. I'm sorry, but Blogspot doesn't support that yet. When they do, I'll add it. Until then, you can always send me e-mail. Not as cool as a comment/message board, but I do read them, save them, collect them, and trade them with my friends!

 
IronyFest 2004 preseason begins

From today's Arab News:
Makkah [Mecca] Governor Prince Abdul Majeed yesterday urged Islamic organizations in the Kingdom and abroad to coordinate their efforts to spread the message of Islam and confront the smear campaigns against the religion and its followers.
A jihad on the skeptics! Confront the infidels, the Zionist unbelievers and Crusader infidels, drive them into the sea, burn them and their children with fire, ten thousand generations with fire, if they do not admit that Islam is a religion of peace!

Not sure if "confrontation" is the right way to go about this, fellas.

But it looks like Saudi Arabia is making a fine start towards regaining the IronyFest dominance of the Arab Conference that they enjoyed in the 1990s and the world championship in 2001. You know it had to hurt for them to watch league rivals Palestine and Iraq grab the glory the last couple of years.

Rather like my beloved Tar Heels under Doherty. Makes me wonder if the Arab League is going to emulate the ACC and start inviting new members. You just know that France, like football champion Miami, is just itching to bolt the EU "Axis of Weasels" for greener pastures.

 
French film criticism

Someone in Paris other than Merde in France is writing about me. Oh, yeah, and that new Matrix movie, too:
Another fun feller freshly aroused to enjoy disagreeing with is chipstah!, for whom 'Reloaded rocks', but who then does a rewipe to drop a heavier load of it all on things French and the Matrix at Blogcritics. Wake up, Lee! The eagle's unloaded its ***hole, hauling in De Villepin "Smith", 'Merde in France' (blogrolled) and 'scrappleface' (ditto) in one funny foul-smelling swoop.
Actually, I kind of like this guy. "The eagle unloading its ***hole"? VERY nicely put, sir!

Pretty decent review of the movie, too. And FYI, lots of good reviews collected in one place over at Blogcritics, if you really want to bake your noodle.

 
Punish France, ignore Germany, forgive Russia

American Thatcher and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, on dealing with the Axis of Weasels. If she is not the GOP nominee in 2008, then we should just give it up as a party.

 
Another sign of victory

If all the Matrix hoopla in the media last week wasn't enough to convince you that the war is over, then maybe this will convince you. News space devoted to the economic impact of bull semen in the Third World. Instead of making my own lewd and/or condescending remark, I invite you all to e-mail me yours, and I'll print the best ones.

 
Signs of victory galore and more

STILL not convinced? Why is it that I know about this? Legally, in Denmark (and thus throughout the European Union), tossing goldfish into a blender does not constitute cruelty to animals because, hey, it's art. Take that, PETA!

 
Bride of signs of victory galore and more

OK, one more example. Terror stalks the streets in Norway: brain snatchers on the loose!

Norway also has the world's best euphemism for women to use when it's that time of the month: "The communists are in the summer house". Of course, the French, connoisseurs of all things genital-related, are not far behind with their euphemism for this phenomenon: "les anglais sont arrivés" ("the English have landed").

 
Brain-snatching epidemic spreads

Like SARS, this phenomenon appears to be spreading around the world. From the Cannes film festival comes news that Danish film directors are victims of the noggin-nabbing fiends:
I would love to start a `free America' campaign. Because we just had a `free Iraq' campaign. I'm sure it's a beautiful country. I would love to go there. But I'm afraid to go there. I don't think I can go to America right now because I don't think it's how it should be.

If you are strong, you also have to be just and good, and that's not something you see in America at all. ... I don't think that Americans are more evil than others, but then again, I don't see them as less evil than the bandit states Mr. Bush has been talking so much about.
The epidemic has even appeared in Berkeley, California, where columnists appear to have lost touch with reality:
An unelected president, acting as if he had won an overwhelming mandate, leads our country into an aggressive war, trashes the international system, turns a huge surplus into an out-of-control deficit, and showers tax relief on the rich while the economy tanks. The Democrats? They head for cover. What am I missing here?
She goes on to claim that the brain-snatching is much more widespread than previously thought, and reaches right up to the gates of the White House:
Ah, yes, September 11. That sacred memory and the American flag have been cynically and ruthlessly used to transform the president and the nation. It's as if both were subjected to simultaneous lobotomies, the president becoming the recipient of a brain and the nation losing its.
Wake up, America, they're here, they're HEEEEEERRRRREEEEEE!!!!!

Then again, maybe not. I just glanced at the article again. The newspaper is in Berkeley, and the author, Vicki, is described as "a retired diplomat, lives in Vallejo, writes poetry, and tends Mimi's garden".

So everything's normal, or at least what passes for it in the Bay Area. Sleep, liberals, sleep...

19.5.03
 
Merde In France visitors: Blogspot is acting loco again, so if you have trouble finding the Villepin/Matrix article, try here, or if that doesn't work, it's also posted on a more workable permalink over at Blogcritics.

 
Muppets in wartime


Proud to be an American. Only the nation that gave the world the Happy Meal could have thought of this.

Not sure what the Geneva Convention says about it, but I love the fact that our most effective tool in rousting Ba'athist and Fedayeen evildoers from their hidey-holes involves the lines to this song:
Sunny day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way
To where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street

Come and play
Everything's A-okay
Friendly neighbors there
That's where we meet
Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street...
And this probably will drive Margaret Drabble over the edge. Bonus.

 
How many licks does it take to get to the center?

The debate rages. Of COURSE fish feel pain when you hook them or rip their tails off. But hey, they're fish. Everybody in the scientific community got that? Good. Now go cure cancer.

 
Deutschland, Deutschland, über Sheffield...

The controversial Hitler miniseries on CBS is pretty compelling. As a history buff, I knew a lot of the facts already, but this brings things to life quite well, especially the way a jerk like Hitler (he was like that before he got into politics) could have risen as he did. Interesting stuff; final two hours are Tuesday.

Of course, I did learn something new: in addition to trying his hand as a painter in pre-WWI Vienna, Adolf tried his hand as a male stripper in Sheffield, England.

 
More than a river in Egypt

For the last three years, the one constant of the opposition's criticism (often the only criticism) has been "Bush = Stupid". So why now these pieces from Eleanor Clift and Maureen Dowd claiming that the President is a great communicator on Ronald Reagan's level?

We all know that the President is going to win and win big next year, but the real fun will be watching the left try to rationalize it in their minds without calling the rest of us a bunch of idiots. This is only the beginning.

 
We all go to NC State

As a proud Tar Heel and son of a Tar Heel, I usually hate North Carolina State University. That's what you do with rivals.

But I've lived in Raleigh, had tons of fun on Hillsborough Street and have a lot of very good friends who went there, so I don't hate them like I hate, say, Dook, the focus of evil in the modern world, worse than all the Axes of Evil and Weasels put together.

And sometimes you just have to love the Wolfpackers, when you read about things like this: people booing and walking out on Phil Donahue when he tried to inject his politics into the school's commencement address Sunday. Not sure why Phil was at State in the first place; Chapel Hill, twenty miles down the road, would have been much more receptive. After all, we're the school that prompted Jesse Helms to exclaim back in the 1970s, "If North Carolina wants a state zoo, all we have to do is put a fence around Chapel Hill."

But Donahue decided to come and speak his mind anyway:
Without mentioning George W. Bush, he said only Congress can declare war and not the president. He said basic liberties are being undermined by the war on drugs and by a "trend toward the sword rather than a trend toward civility."
No wonder "boos rained down like confetti". The graduating seniors may not have taken as many poli sci classes as we Tar Heels, but they were listening and they can detect BS when they hear it.

We're all in favor of civility, Mr. White Mop-Top, but when crazy foreigners kill 3,000 of us in a single day and threaten lots more of the same, a "trend toward the sword" might just be what the doctor ordered. I mean, what is "civility" in this situation? Asking bin Laden and the rest of the jihadis to please make sure they don't get blood on the carpet when they slaughter us, accompanied by heartfelt apologies for being infidel Christians?
...no one in authority should tell you to 'shush,' that executing retarded teenagers is wrong, and that unions give workers a deserved place at the bargaining table."
I would think that all of us agree that no one in authority should tell you to "shush". Actually, I think the students were exercising that right, right then.

Of course, the students and I also realize that most of the people in some sort of authority telling us to "shush" are on the left, unless you agree with what they have to say. If you speak up with anything other than the liberal orthodoxy, you'll be labeled a fascist, racist, warmongering hick. At least that's what I picked up watching your now-cancelled show on MSNBC (yes, I was one of the 12 viewers; you and your guests were always good for a laugh).
Your mission is to challenge your public servants and bring America back to basic constitutional values.
Actually, that's what George Bush is doing, if the Democrats ever let one of those judges come up for a vote.
I came looking for liberals, and here at N.C. State I found friends.
Well, you surely didn't find any liberals. And what "friends" are you referring to, Phil? From the sound of it, you had about as many "friends" there as you had viewers. Unless, of course, you count your imaginary pal Bobo and his buddies who tagged along.

Way to go, Wolfpack. As the school's commercial says, we all go to NC State.

 
She'll be bahhhhck


Pretty good summer movie season so far, and it's not even Memorial Day. And coming in July, Terminator 3. No, not as deep and textured as the Matrix series, but still a fun romp through technological dystopia. Cool trailer, too.

The part I'm looking forward to the most? The newest Terminator, the T-X. A she. A very attractive she. Who kicks butt. 21st-Century Pilates and the Buffy ethos taking on Ahhhhh-nuld, the bodybuilder spawn of the 1980s. Interesting clash of memes.

I was fascinated by the Terminatrix. Sort of an evil version of Seven of Nine and Buffy the Vampire Slayer rolled into one. And blonde, which got me to thinking about Fox News, the real-world home of smart blondes who kick butt:


Of course, we on the right don't need to create a Terminatrix; we already have one: Ann Coulter, she whose "bomb their cities, kill their leaders, convert the rest to Christianity" line after 9/11 got her banished from National Review, but spoke so eloquently what we felt in those dark days.

Yesterday, she was profiled in The Guardian, the daily non-tabloid paper of the English left. Sure, there was some sneering, but it was also a good take on why she is such a happy warrior and a delight to read. Also had a bit of cultural commentary on the rise of extremely smart, persuasive (and, oh, yeah, attractive) women on the right:
She is also the poster girl for a specific offshoot of the US right wing: the Republican babe-ocracy. She, along with pollster Kelly Anne Fitzpatrick and fellow pundit Laura Ingraham, is a new face for US Republican politics, easing out the blue-blazered, boardroom males who used to represent the rightwing presence on TV.
And, most shocking of all in a paper like the Guardian, makes the point that her (well, ours, probably, if you're reading this blog) opinions are not some weird, unbalanced nerve twitch in the American body politic:
But above all, Coulter is thriving because America itself is changing. The country is shifting rightward, the more so since September 11. The Bush administration is not a freak of nature; it enjoys wide public support. Its belief, put crudely, that the US is number one on the planet and that anyone who stands in its way is either a terrorist or an appeaser of terror, is not on the wacky fringes but commands broad endorsement. And Ann Coulter gives it a voice. We may not want to hear it, but if we are going to understand where the mightiest power on earth is heading, we may have to start listening.
Smart, not afraid to speak her mind, bitingly funny, right-wing, tolerant, and single... if Mom were alive, this is the kind of woman she'd be nagging me to ask out. My Mom was the cool mom, but still a mom.

 
Desperate times, desperate measures


I haven't forgotten about MSNBC, though. MSNBC made great strides during the war coverage, but the network's anchors are still giving off a bit too much of the passive-aggressive shrink-wrapped-blow-dried flight attendant vibe to truly surpass Fox's all-conquering blonde horde during sweeps this month.

My solution? Take a page from corporate cousin NBC, and switch celebrities for newspeople, à la Couric/Leno. And since summer movie season has begun, AND the network is partial to brunettes (Bianca, Natalie, etc.), I suggest bringing in Monica Belluci from the Matrix ("Persephone") and Kelly Hu from X-Men 2 ("Lady Deathstrike").


Monica gives you the sexy, Kelly gives you the kick-butt Terminatrix vibe (politics TBD).

Not sure what to recommend for CNN. I hear the crowds in the stands chanting "Rudi! Rudi! Rudi!", but I'm not sure anyone is listening now that Ted's gone.

 
In and out

As predicted, the ACC invited Big East powerhouses Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College to join the conference.

Virginia Tech was not invited (take THAT, Frank Beamer). The "Hokies" shouldn't feel too badly, though. There's always Conference USA, which my ECU friends say is much better than the ACC anyway. Actually, they say it all the time. Even after I prove otherwise. Even after I ignore them. Even after I put my hands over my ears and sing, "la, la, la, no one is listening, la, la, la..."

 
TV Guide

Maybe I'm weird (OK, I am, get over it), but I sometimes find the truncated program descriptions you get on your on-screen program guide to be quite amusing, especially considering what people choose to include and leave out. A sampling while channel-surfing the other night:
Cyborg Cop (1993) (R)
ActionMAX East
12-1:40am

Sibling DEA agents take on a druglord, who transforms one brother into a robot. David Bradley, John Rhys-Davies, Todd Jenson, Alona Shaw. Directed by Sam Firstenberg.
How the Academy missed this one for the 1994 awards, I do not know. Sure, it was up against Schindler's List, The Fugitive, and The Piano, but come on... this picture had it all. Brothers! Drugs! Cyborgs! John Rhys-Davies! Guess Spielberg was just overdue for an Oscar that year.
Jerry Springer
KDAF 9 (WB)
12-1am
Topic: relationships with exotic dancers.
In this crazy, mixed-up world we live in, it's nice to know you can always count on Springer.
Love Street (ADULT)
Showtime East
12:30-1am
Two couples head for a seaside retreat.
And do what, exactly? Swim? Fish? Get a tan? Collect seashells?

The header says it's an "adult" movie, but that doesn't help too much; the "adult" descriptions never do, for some odd reason. It does narrow things down a bit (they probably aren't watching cartoons), but what "mature" things ARE they doing? Discussing the unbearable lightness of being in a postmodern culture? Pondering the nature of interpersonal relationships while gazing upon the sunrise? Deconstructing Sartre? Drinking wine? Practicing firearm skills? Debating politics?

This description induces the same kind of confusion I get when driving past all those "gentlemen's clubs" on Northwest Highway here in Dallas. Somehow, I get the suspicion that the patrons of "Baby Dolls" aren't settling into large, heavy leather armchairs with a cigar and a snifter of brandy while reading the Wall Street Journal and meeting with business colleagues that late at night. But you never know.
Kim Possible
The Disney Channel
12:30-1am
Ron is afraid to fight mutant ninja monkeys.
Mutant ninja monkeys... always a cue to top-flight entertainment. Plus, monkeys scare the hell out of Frank, who needs some scaring since he hasn't put me on his blogroll yet.

And what did I actually WATCH that night before going to bed? You'll just have to wonder.

 
How about a nice, tall glass of shut the hell up?

I'm just another American Jethro, so maybe French subtlety is beyond me, but what the hell is up with you people? Sure, we disagreed about the war, and we went to war and won the war despite all of the French government's best (and worst) efforts.

If we're supposedly allies, shouldn't we be making up now? Shouldn't an apology be in order, or at least silence and a bit of back-channel grovelling?

One would think, but then, one is not French. Their response is to accuse us of lies, disinformation, and malice while throwing the diplomatic equivalent of a hissy-fit. Not the way to win amis and influence peuple

So in the interest of peace between America and our oldest "ally", I decided to examine the FULL range of press reports and commonly held attitudes about the French here in America. I indeed found a few misperceptions, or "lies", as the French Foreign Ministry would call them:
Top American Misperceptions of the French

French cuisine is far superior to American food. Not really. Sure, they have some good spices and sauces, but have you ever translated the names of the main courses? Goose liver? Snail? Frog? If that was my cuisine, I'd get pretty good at spicing and saucing, too. The coffee is good, but we have Starbucks. The bread is good, yes, but that's because they have little bakeries on every block. And remember, French fries and French toast are 100% American!

French people are stylish and elegant. And so are New Yorkers, during Fashion Week. One visit to a French beach will demonstrate reality and likely scar you for life. If you do happen to see clothes on anyone, even 70-year-olds, it will be a pair of Speedos, which only makes things worse.

French men are much more suave and sophisticated at the art of seduction than their American counterparts. Sorry, ladies. The movies are a fantasy, at least from what I've seen. The only time I've ever seen men shout at their wives to "go make me and my friends some dinner, b*tch" while watching a ball game was in Paris. And these were énarques in the 16th Arrondissement, the Paris equivalent of Harvard grads living on Park Avenue. Of course, the French women do happen to be fairly sophisticated about these things. When I asked one of them why she puts up with behavior that would result in a Lorena Bobbitt incident over here, she batted her eyes and sweetly responded, "Well, I can always have an affair if I like. And what are you doing later on tonight?"

America has nothing that compares to the Côte d'Azur. Actually, we do. It's called Southern California. Leave Long Beach, South Central and Orange County where it is, move Malibu, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica up the coast toward Santa Barbara, et voilà.

The French have a better quality of life than we Americans. A 30-35 hour work week, two months' paid vacation, and free healthcare are nice, but it all evens out. With that, you also get unemployment that will not go below 10%, a tax rate of 55%, business activity strangled by regulation, and a level of government/business corruption far beyond the Enron critics' worst nightmares.
As for the other misperceptions about France colluding with Saddam, that's all true. There is a ton of evidence, which makes de Villepin's ranting so baffling.


Comment dit-on "methinks he dost protest too much?" en français?

 
Blogrollin'

New link: PeterThink. Interesting thinking on advertising, marketing and the culture. Smells like a fellow planner, and a good one, too.