Friday, November 18, 2005

a quick comparison

a quick comparison of two members of congress: one deserves respect, the other deserves a full-service stay at the guantanamo hilton.

rep. jean schmidt, (r-ohio) is the least experienced member of the house. in a prohibitively republican district she squeaked out an election win over democrat paul hackett. during the campaign, ethics questions swirled around schmidt and her campaign:
Controversy arose over whether Schmidt had failed to list gifts received when she was in the Ohio General Assembly on her financial disclosure statements. Another controversy was her ties to Tom Noe, a major player in the Coingate scandal. Schmidt initially denied ever meeting Noe, but Hackett produced minutes of a 2002 Ohio Board of Regents meeting attended by Schmidt. Noe was a member of the board at the time.
schmidt, obviously a student of the republican school of ethics, recently ran her mouth on the subject of rep. john murtha (d-penn).

on the floor of the house, schmidt recounted a conversation she allegedly had with a marine colonel:
"He asked me to send Congress a message: stay the course," Ms. Schmidt said. "He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message: that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."
schmidt, incidently, never served in the military.

murtha's record in that regard is more substantial:

Marine Corps 1952 - 1955
USMC Reserve 1955 - 1966
Marine Corps 1966 - 1967
USMC Reserve 1967 - 1990

Combat Service: Korean War, Vietnam
Awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal

murtha, for better or worse, has been called a "valued ally" by the likes of dick cheney, "one of the pentagon's best friends", and "one of the most hawkish senior Democrats."

what did he do to incite the outburst from schmidt? he dissented from the bush administration policy in iraq. he called for pulling out american troops within six months, saying they had become a target for continuing violence in Iraq.

for that he is labeled a coward.

end of comparison.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

valuable lessons from victoria

photo | victoria

last weekend our kids had a karate tournament in victoria, bc. the event was, um, eventful.

the trip was supposed to begin friday morning, but it really started thursday night. preston, our 7 year-old, couldn't sleep. too excited, too wound up. eventually he crawled into bed with us, and we all got a short, restless night's sleep.

no big deal, but then came friday and the oh-dark-30 ferry ride. the seas were angry, my friends...both preston and my wife got seasick. oy, such trauma. but again, by itself no big deal.

we disembarked in victoria, checked into a nice hotel, and charged off to the pool so the kids could swim (and burn off some energy). all went well for awhile, but the pool deck was badly designed...slippery tiles with a curving slope near the pool edge. preston slipped and whacked his head on the deck. it looked kinda bad, but he seemed fine the rest of the afternoon and through the evening.

at 12:30 a.m., however, he was not so fine.

for the next 3 hours he woke up off and on, crying miserably and complaining of a "horrible" headache. he really was beside himelf, and we were certain he had a concussion. at 2:30 a.m. in a foreign country, however, there was little to do but work the tylenol, cold compresses, and eventually a warm shower. finally, three-ish, he fell asleep for the rest of the night.

the wake-up call for the tournament came ridiculously early. avery (our 5 year-old) was raring to go, but preston was a mess. big dark circles under his eyes, overly emotional, obviously exhausted. we told him he didn't have to participate in the tournament, that there'd be other times, that he could stay at the hotel with mom or go to the venue and watch.

but no, he wanted to participate. so off we went.

avery's division went first, and she did her little teno kata routine. about halfway through she lost track of what she was doing....and just kept going. the girl had no earthly idea what she was doing next, but she pieced together something the judges found appealing, and won a bronze medal.

preston wasn't so lucky. he got about two-thirds of the way through before blanking...and melting down. he just put his hands over his face and started crying. he walked toward us, and i wanted to pick him up and carry him out. but i didn't. we told him to go back to the middle of the ring and show he was done, and wait for his score, which he reluctantly did. crying all the while.

man, that was hard. but after crying in mom's arms for awhile we got him pumped up to do his sparring (kumite), which he enjoys and is pretty good at.

again, avery's group went first. she wanted to give preston her bronze medal, so she was determined to go out and win a silver or gold. girl was banging her gloves together like rocky balboa, ready to mix it up with girls much bigger, older and more experienced than she is. she's a tiny thing, but like rod tidwell she is all heart. on command she'd charge across the ring and flail away, absolutely no fear. she didn't win a match, but she scored a lot of points...and won another bronze medal.

meanwhile...preston was mis-registered and got closed out of his division. he got thrown in with some much bigger boys, and was ready to get after them. but we and the sensei thought it would be a bad idea for him to go out and get his clock cleaned.

so he didn't get to spar.

next day we went back home. and the boy got seasick again.

tough trip. valuable lessons.

i hope.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

young philosophy

"do you enjoy other people's misery, preston?"

"why do you ask?"

"do you?"

"why do you want to know?"

"just answer, do you enjoy other people's misery?"

"i'm not going to answer, because you know what the answer is..."

does this sound like a conversation between a five year old and a seven year old? it doesn't to me, either.

but it was. at dinner. tonight.

later there was a deep discussion about "knowing your threes."

three, six, nine, 12, a gazillion.

later, still: "you farted. i've got to get out of this room."

more things that will never be the same

photo | rose

months after the fact, death still sneaks up on you.

out of the blue, say around the holidays, you're jolted by the realization that important events in your life will never happen again.

today my wife was sorting through the mail, looking at the grocery inserts for thanksgiving. it reminded her, she said, that she would never again be able to go home for thanksgiving.

she's right, in a way. without joan, there's no one to carry on the tradition. other family members could cook the turkey, but no one makes sliders the way joan did. her dad could act as host, but no one could make you feel at home the way joan did. the wine would still flow, the conversation would range far and wide...but no one would bring people together the way joan did.

it would be comforting if we could find some things that would, somehow, be the same.

Monday, October 24, 2005

mommy travels

photo | take-off

[phone rongs, machine picks up. it's mommy.]

daddy: hello...

mommy: hi. how are you?

daddy: [pauses] fine. how are you?

mommy: fine. tired.

daddy: you need to go to bed immediately.

mommy: i'm waiting for dinner.

daddy: you need to go to bed immediately after you eat dinner.

mommy: i know. how are the children?

daddy: fine.

mommy: did they have a good day?

daddy: they did. do you want to talk to them?

mommy: sure.

avery: hi mommy. good. yes. uh-huh. okay. i love you. here, daddy.

mommy: she was a little distracted.

daddy: that's because she was watching tv. i told her to talk in here.

avery: preston wants to say hi to mommy.

daddy: then you tell preston to come in here.

preston: [near tears] hi, mommy. no, daddy wouldn't let me. he said i couldn't go until next year. yes. i love you too. okay. bye.

mommy: didn't preston go to chess club today?

daddy: didn't we say he'd missed too many, and he'd go to the next session? didn't we talk about this?

mommy: okay, that's fine.

daddy: yeah, well, he's all bent out of shape about it.

mommy: it's fine, he can go to the next one. my dinner's here.

daddy: all right. eat dinner and go to sleep.

mommy: i will.

daddy: all right.

mommy: you doing okay?

daddy: yup.

mommy: i'll call you tomorrow.

daddy: that'll be good. sleep well.

mommy: i'll try. you too.

daddy: oh, i will.

mommy: love you.

daddy: love you too.

mommy: 'kay. bye.

daddy: bye.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


photo | bloom

i saw joan this weekend.

she was at the front door when we drove up to her house. she opened the screen and stepped out, waving. "hi, guys!" she said, just like always.

she was working in the kitchen in the morning, making coffee, teasing me that it was decaf. she laughed when i told her she wasn't funny, that she shouldn't mess with my caffeine addiction.

she padded up and down the hall in her slippers, bringing out more cereal, paper towels, chips, all of which she kept who knows where.

she was on the back patio, by the pool, reading the morning paper. kitty frank wove in and around her legs, looking for attention.

she tended to her desert landscaping in the back--the gardens were gorgeous and quiet and comforting as i wandered through them.

i jogged through the park north of joan's house, and thought of her. i shopped for groceries at fry's and remembered her there.

the toilet overflowed one night, and joan laughed loudly while don crossly and unsuccessfully used the plunger. quite amused, she was.

there won't be any more halloween cards from granny joan for the kids. no more thanksgiving visits, or christmas boxes in the mail. no more birthday cards with inflammatory political news clippings. joan was a constant presence at our house, no matter how far away we lived.

sunday morning, joan cried a little and hugged us tight. she wished we didn't have to leave so soon.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Rothschild: “People want leadership, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.”

President Shepherd: “Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.”
our society is a mess.

recognizing this fact is easy. changing it is hard. complaining is not enough. effecting change takes people with vision, intelligence, courage.

more importantly, it takes the ability to deliver truth to a public conditioned not to hear it. today’s u.s. public refuses to hear the truth. they want government without taxes. they want war without death. they want an end to poverty and disease and suffering, but without being bothered with the messy details.

and they want politicians who will promise these things regardless of the fact that they can’t be delivered. since the reagan era we've steered hard toward social civil war—economically, philosophically and spiritually. where once we aspired to achievement, now we aspire to accumulation. where once we demonstrated for civil rights, now we reallocate to the very wealthy.

the wealthiest in our society are particularly problematic. of the well-to-do people i know, most would pay zero taxes for any purpose whatsoever, if they could arrange it. they are completely focused on sheltering every last dollar for themsleves; they have no interest in, say, housing the homeless or pre-emptively shoring up the levees in new orleans.

they want the benefits of living in a country that makes their success possible, but none of the responsibility for maintaining it. this attitude of entitlement starts at the top: the president of these “united” states says every day, in effect, that no one is responsible for sustaining this country.
President Bush didn't say the other night how he would pay for his promise to rebuild the Gulf Coast states. Allow us to explain: Every penny of aid approved by Congress so far and all subsequent aid - perhaps as much as $200 billion - will be borrowed, with most of it likely to come from Asian central banks and other foreign investors. That means additional interest of about $10 billion a year indefinitely. The bill will hit current and future taxpayers in the form of higher taxes or cuts in government programs, or both.
we have gaping holes in the infrastructure of our society. government has the duty and the responsibility to fix those holes for the greater good. bush and his ilk, however, don’t share this view of government’s role. in fact, they don’t believe in government at all. government, they insist, is corrupt and incompetent. we must deprive it of the money needed to run it. no wonder, then, that the government we get is corrupt, incompetent and bankrupt.

it’s odd that people so invested in acquiring and holding power are so intent on destroying the legitimate expression of that power. but therein lies the fundamental illogic of this administration. they cut taxes, but spend more prolifically than any administration in history. they want less government, but have overseen an unprecedented expansion of bureaucracy. they speak of spreading american-style democracy while undermining democracy at home.

meanwhile the voters charged with keeping the government in check just yawn and go back to watching survivor and desperate housewives.

our society is in trouble. and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that we can save ourselves from it.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

eulogy for a presidency

five years of sanctioned vandalism summed up here:

"Bush has a very well defined vision of what government should do and how it should do it," said Michael Franc, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research organization consulted by the White House. "This is a moment to teach or explain to the American people how his values apply to this catastrophic situation."
there will never be a more damning indictment of this administration's humiliating, abject failure.

Monday, September 12, 2005

"we've got plenty of troops..."

during today's spin through the wreckage of new orleans, george bush said it was "preposterous" to claim that the Iraq war had drained military resources, leaving too few troops to help out with the hurricane.

"We've got plenty of troops to do both," Bush said during a tour of the areas of the city ravaged by the hurricane.

where did he hear that, do you suppose? since before the start of the iraq boondoggle, military experts have been saying, "not enough troops to do the job." national guard troops have been forced into far longer duty tours than they signed up for; regular armed service personnel have done multiple tours without relief.

military recruiting is in crisis mode...and now the federal government has drop-kicked katrina relief.

but we have plenty of troops for any and every mission, huh, george? preposterous is right.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

compassionate, aren't they?

richard baker, nice guy.

our gop conservatives are real humanitarians.

as their response to hurricane katrina shows, they never met a victim they wouldn't kick.

take rick santorum. asked about survivors still in new orleans, santorum said,
" have people who don't heed warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."
so, those who survived the storm should be punished. apparently those who died have been punished enough.

and then there's louisiana rep. richard baker (R), quoted in the wall street journal as telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

and house speaker dennis hastert said straight up that parts of new orleans should be bulldozed.
"It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level," Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.

"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican concluded.
after the fact, of course, all three issued "clarifications" to their previous statements. baker disdainfully said,
"What I remember expressing, in a private conversation with a housing advocate and member of my staff, was that 'We have been trying for decades to clean up New Orleans public housing to provide decent housing for residents, and now it looks like God is finally making us do it.' Obviously I have never expressed anything but the deepest concern about the suffering that this terrible catastrophe has caused for so many in our state."
oh, obviously.

santorum's backtrack amounted to, "i didn't mean the people who were unable to leave." hastert: "did i say bulldoze? i meant plant roses."

it's not enough that these three and their legion of like-minded compassionate conservatives issue statements from afar. to demonstrate their sincerity and good faith, it is entirely appropriate that they travel to new orleans, hold a town hall at the morial convention center, and explain to the displaced residents of the city exactly what they meant.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

actually, he doesn't understand...

george bush recently took a stroll around poplarville, mississippi.

and he understands that.

"I understand. I understand the damage. I understand the devastation. I understand the destruction. I understand how long it's going to take. And we're with you. That's what I want you to know," he told the residents of Poplarville, where some trees fell on carports.

in a related note,the war president also visited with a couple folks in biloxi...

cnn video footage recorded this exchange:

[Bush strides up to two African American women, who are sisters. Hovering nearby is a white guy wearing shades and shorts.

With the cameras rolling, Bush hugs the two women, one of whom starts sobbing.]

Bush to women: "There's a Salvation Army center that I want to, that I'll tell you where it is, and they'll get you some help. I'm sorry . . . They'll help you. . . . "

Woman 1: "I came here looking for clothes. . . . "

Bush: "They'll get you some clothes, at the Salvation Army center. . . . "

Woman 1: "We don't have anything. . . . "

Bush: "I understand. . . . Do you know where the center is, that I'm talking to you about?"

Guy with shades: "There's no center there, sir, it's a truck."

Bush: "There's trucks?"

Guy: "There's a school, a school about two miles away. . . . "

Bush: "But isn't there a Salvation center down there?"

Guy: "No that's wiped out. . . . "

Bush: "A temporary center?"

Guy: "No sir they've got a truck there, for food."

Bush: "That's what I'm saying, for food and water."

Bush then turns to the woman who's been saying how she needs clothes and tells her: "You need food and water."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

we are four

"we are four."

we are an unbreakable whole, united for life. we are a family.

i wish i could take credit for this profound truth, but it belongs to a friend who is setting a very good example.

our family is four, as well. and as the patriarch, one rung below the matriarch, i feel a certain responsibility to build and maintain the fabric of the family. but until recently this concept had never felt so immediate. so urgent.

i always understood the importance of this duty, but i didn't know how to put it into practice. how to make it real and meaningful. my own upbringing was lacking in this regard; to this day my parents and i are distant. i don't speak to my only brother.

this circumstance is sad and completely avoidable. it's history i don't intend to repeat.

my children and i recently watched a particularly apt installment of lelo & stitch. while the medium was transitory, the message was not:
Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.
my son picked up on this phrase, and has it memorized. i'm encouraging him to remember it.

"preston, what does family mean?" i ask him.
"family means nobody gets left behind. or forgotten."

we are an unbreakable whole, united for life. we are a family.

the thoughts are profound. instilling them in my family is imperative.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


joan died thursday, august 18, in the evening.

she spared herself months of debilitating pain by, it seems, self-medicating. the symptoms of an overdose were at first mistaken for a stroke, but eventually the family and staff put two and two together.

when it came to serious matters, joan was no-nonsense. she became a single-minded stoic, and it behooved no one to get in the way. same with the cancer. she was not about to take it lying down.

her husband and children flew in from all parts of the country to be with her at the end. the family didn't always get along, and this gathering was no different. emotions ran high, and disagreements flared. joan, in her silence, ended every discussion. she would have things her way, and that was that.

joan will be cremated, and the family will gather again to spread her ashes in the arizona desert. probably near camelback mountain, one of her favorite hiking spots. maybe it'll be in the fall, her favorite season, sometime in the evening.

it would be nice to think that she's still there, somewhere, breathing easy, enjoying the warmth of the sun, limbering up her metaphysical being for a long, peaceful hike through eternity.

she would like that...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

mother and country

it didn't take long for the neoclowns to start trashing cindy sheehan.

following her son's death in iraq, sheehan took her grief and protest of the war right to george bush's doorstep. she set up a camp near crawford texas, alongside the road bush drives to and from his much-used vacation ranch.

there she has created a rising storm of anti-war activity, in a manner impossible for bush to ignore.

sheehan has said that the president is isolated from opposing points of view. people are restricted to free speech zones a mile away, and he never hears anything but people who agree with him.

she's right. but with this persistent, now very visible protest, sheehan has changed that dynamic.

and it has the neoclowns frothing at the mouth.

"Despite what the headlines say, Sheehan, 48, is more antiwar protester than grieving mother," said a column Friday in the online version of the American Spectator. "She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization that seeks to impeach George W. Bush and apparently to convince the U.S. government to surrender to Muslim terrorists."
got that? sheehan is with the terrorists. sounds familiar, doesn't it?
The photo Cindy Sheehan did not want the world to see: President Bush plants a consoling kiss on the cheek of grieving antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan last year at Fort Lewis, Washington.
i'm not sure of the point of that one. i mean, would you want george bush putting his mouth on you?

the takeaway here, the message bush and the neoclowns would deliver is this: it's not enough that sheehan's son was sacrificed needlessly by a corrupt administration--she also needs to like it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


joan is dying.

this week she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, from which virtually no one recovers.

joan is my wife's mother, and she's too healthy, vital and vibrant to suffer the death that's in store. the online cancer resource sites spend very little time talking about survivability or recovery. they jump immediately to "palliative care", which essentially is about comforting the dying.

joan is in her 70s. for some people that's old; for her it's not even an inconvenience. she backpacks yosemite, she camps, she skies, she travels. she sets the kind of example anyone would be fortunate to follow.

for her to die this way, in fact to think of her dying at all, is outrageous.

my wife is beside herself. i can't talk about it easily. i can barely write about it. the children know granny joan is sick, but of course they don't know anything. they couldn't process it if they did.

we can't seem to process it either.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

intelligence, bush-style

my wife and i work in clinical research. drug testing, if you will. our companies help invent and market pharmaceuticals and medical devices that (in theory) help prolong life and improve its quality.

in this business it is expected and required that manufacturers prove, scientifically, that such products perform as intended. that they help sick people feel better, if not actually get better. if companies can't prove efficacy, scientifically, their products tend not to leave the laboratory.

george bush is philosophically opposed to this dynamic. by the logic of the president of the united states, it would be perfectly reasonable to market drugs and medical devices that haven't passed muster, science-wise.

similarly, bush isn't all that interested in the "science" of biology. he says "intelligent design" is responsible for all things, and should be taught in science class alongside that fraud "evolution."

The nature of the "evidence" for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming, and so powerful, that it informs all of modern biology. To pretend that the existence of evolution is somehow still an open question, or that it is one of several equally valid theories, is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century.

To give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt, he may have been catering to his Texas constituents, a group of whom, in the city of Odessa, were recently found to have turned an allegedly secular public high school Bible studies course into a hodgepodge of myth and religious teaching.

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, i hold here in my hand a miracle. that's right, i said a miracle. it's a secret formula brought to america by the healers of [insert third world country here], and it will cure your most dreaded afflictions. the fda? they are elitist eggheads who don't understand the problems of real life like you and i do. they say, "you can't sell that here, we haven't tested it!" well i'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, you can't test what you don't understand, and that's the healing power of GOD!

just $50.00, ma'am, and your husband won't bother you ever again. thank you very much. who's next?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

wassup, dawg?

my dog bit me yesterday.

today, after a visit to the emergency room and the pharmacy, my thumb is throbbing.

but at least it's still attached.

for the record, gunnar isn't mean, he's just stupid. he wanted to eat a dog license form, and my thumb got in the way.

he grabbed the form, and the last half inch of my nail, and clamped down. oh, yeah, he got me good.

the emergency room physician did a fine job with the repairs. first, with the local anesthetic; okay, that hurt. he needled "the four nerves in the thumb," one at a time, each more painful than the last.

then he cut back the nail to expose the nail matrix, which gunnar had made a mess of. then he sutured the whole thing back together. that kinda hurt, too.

bla bla bla, long story short, my weekend is shot. the dog is oblivious. and i'm on augmentin and vicodin.

and the thumb is still throbbing.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

not so fast

the idiot bush, attempting to deflect attention from his treasonous henchman karl rove, today accelerated the selection of a supreme court nominee to replace sandra day o'connor.

so over the next few days/weeks we'll be overwhelmed with rhetoric about the suitability of the nominee, and, in theory, rove's outing of a cia agent will fade to black.

before that happens, let's look back to 2001 when the idiot bush was babbling about the level of discourse in his administration:
"[W]e must remember the high standards that come with high office. This begins with careful adherence to the rules. I expect every member of this administration to stay well within the boundaries that define legal and ethical conduct. This means avoiding even the appearance of problems. This means checking and, if need be, doublechecking that the rules have been obeyed. This means never compromising those rules."
karl rove, the president's brain, blew the cover of a cia agent for political gain.

now, through administrative and procedural sleight of hand, the president would like everyone to forget this fact.

the president, therefore, is at the very least an accessory to treason.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

my favorite thing about chicago...


and while that's totally unfair, and generally unsupportable, it is nonetheless true.

let us stipulate that chicago is a great city. the architecture is spectacular, it is teeming with friendly people, and there are some great restaurants.

i spent three days there this week, amidst all that splendiferousness...and i still couldn't wait to leave.

i know. the failing is mine. apparently the charm of business travel has deserted me, so no matter how accommodating the location, i can't wait to get the hell out of there.

thus the paradox: i'm having a great time, let's leave.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

which way today?

dick cheney says the insurgency is in its last throes. donald rumsfeld says the insurgency could go on for a dozen years.

which is it, fuckers?

i ask this not because of the 1,700 american dead in iraq, but because the wild rhetoric from the bush administration is giving me whiplash.

this war is about WMD.

this war is about freedom.

this war is about terrorists.

this war is about 9/11.

which is it, fuckers?

1,500 US deaths ago it was "mission accomplished". now it's an open-ended commitment to some undefined objectives.

previously, taking down saddam would make the US safer. now iraq is the main battle field against terrorism.

which is it, fuckers?

Monday, July 04, 2005

what's that ringing?

if it's the fourth of july, it must be freedom.

even if the ringing is muffled and muted this year.

freedom of speech is under attack, and if congress has its way, burning an american flag will become a criminal act. apparently some political speech is too unpleasant to hear.

to be sure, not all speech should be protected. for example, you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

but for some reason, george bush can yell "9/11" any time his poll numbers drop.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

i bought my first flag in september, 2001.

and now it looks like i may have burn it.

what a waste of $75.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

looking good, louis...

i spent a boatload of money at nordstrom this weekend.

black suit. shirts. ties. shoes.

i. look. good.

yeah, kinda like that, but white. and without the gun.

i don't have near enough occasions to wear this stuff, mind you. i may start a trend at the dog-walk park. the gym on the weekend. the neighbors' house for dinner.

i'll be overdressed, but still. i'll look good.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

running, man

actor portrayal; not the actual author.

yesterday was my birthday. i'm now 44.

today i went for my first run as a 44 year old. the results were decidedly mixed.

on the one hand, i trudged like a clydesdale. on the other, i did over four miles in 34 minutes, on a hilly course. and i didn't get hurt.

i can't complain.

along the way i asked myself why i continue to run, to work out, to play basketball. the first thing that popped into my head was, "so i can run with my son one day, when he's getting in shape for his sports."

that's partly true. but i also like feeling as though i could run from something dangerous if it were chasing me: a land shark, or a republican, or an angry toddler.

of course i'm also running from death, and damned if satchel paige wasn't right: every time i look over my shoulder, the grim reaper is gaining on me. relentless bastard. doesn't matter. i'm going to delay the inevitable as long as possible. when it arrives, i intend to insult it with rude comments about its wardrobe and personal grooming habits.

by the time my son (and then my daughter) is old enough to run a couple miles, i'll be at least 50. damn, fifty. it seems's hard to imagine i could ever be so old. but being 44, and one day 50, beats the alternative.

hey, death, you need a flea bath. and that cloak looks ridiculous. something in pink plaid would be an upgrade, jaggazz.

see? death may be on his way, but he'll get no satisfaction from me.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

we can't hear you, la la la la...

"shut up! shut up! we will not listen to any more of this! shut up, or i'm leaving!"

this is house judiciary chairman james sensenbrenner (r-wis).

despite the burly, manly demeanor of his photo, he's actually a dainty, fussy, mama's boy, prone to taking his microphone and going home. hard to believe, isn't it?
After repeated criticism of the Bush administration, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday gaveled a hearing to a close and walked out while Democrats continued to testify -- but with their microphones shut off.

C-SPAN2 continued televising the proceedings for six minutes after Sensenbrenner had departed, with lettering on the screen explaining the strange circumstances.
big jimmy, it seems, won't hear any criticism of the bush administration, nor brook any questioning of the "patriot act", no matter how relevant it may be. in this case, a hearing on the renewal of that act provided the relevance.

during the hearing, several republicans testified to the brilliance and necessity of curtailing the civil rights of americans. but when democrats attempted to provide couterpoint, sensenbrenner had a meltdown...
He urged witnesses to "wrap it up" and repeatedly told committee members that their time for questioning had expired.

"We ought to stick to the subject," the chairman scolded at the end. "The Patriot Act has nothing to do with Guantanamo Bay. The Patriot Act has nothing to do with enemy combatants. The Patriot Act has nothing to do with indefinite detentions."

"Will the gentleman yield?" Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) asked.

"No, I will not yield," replied Sensenbrenner, 61, the heir to a paper fortune who is known for a brusque insistence on decorum. He completed his reproof of the witnesses and left the Rayburn House Office Building hearing room amid a cacophony of protests from Democrats seeking to be recognized.
as noted by rep. debbie wasserman schultz (d-fla), the minority was allowed to call zero outside witnesses during the hearing.

decorum, it appears, is reserved for republicans in our government.

Monday, June 06, 2005

just sit there and look pretty, honey...

george w. bush thinks women make damn fine reporters.

as long as they don't ask any troublesome questions or write about anything but home ec.

that's probably why he doesn't call on women at press conferences. either that or he's a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot.

as an evangelical, he no doubt believes it's the man's role to be the head of the family, and the woman's role to be its heart. it's a woman reporter's role, therefore, to sit down and shut up while the president calls on another guy.

like biffo or goomba or hammy. one of the guys he's given goofy nicknames to. meanwhile, maureen dowd can't get a white house press pass.

bush demonstrates how he milks bulls in crawford, texas.

the real reason bush doesn't engage the female members of the media? he's afraid of his wife. first time he gets all cute and smarmy with one of them filly reporters, laura bush turns george into a gelding.

not that anyone would notice the difference.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

man on edge

i am so screwed.

my wife is out of town this week, so i'm a temporary single parent. this was a challenge when i was at home, playing mr. mom. now that i'm working full-time on the other side of town, all the components of a modest cluster fuck are in place.

our child care situation is a badly knitted fabric of luck and catch-as-catch-can. snag one thread and the garment catches fire, emits toxic fumes, and splatters poop hibbity-gibbity.

all i need is a visit from the irony gods to make things really interesting.

a little perspective from brother stevie ray vaughan...
Caught up in a whirlwind, can't catch my breath.
Knee deep in hot water, broke out in cold sweat.
Can't catch a turtle, in this rat race.
Feels like I'm losing ground, at a breakneck pace.

Walkin' the tight rope, steppin on my friends
Walkin' the tight rope, was a shame and a sin.
Walkin' the tight rope, between wrong and right.
Walkin' the tight rope, both day and night.
here's some free advice: never taunt the irony gods. in fact, don't even try to get their attention. the irony gods like nothing better than to show off their mad irony skillz. who can blame them? they've had millennia to practice, and are proud of their work ethic. when they're not busy screwing around.

and i mean that in the nicest possible way.

deep breaths...

i'm okay...

p.s. i want my mommy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

the power of suggestion

watch the pretty coin of gold
and you will do as you are told
you are brave, and that's a fact
you will do the high wire act!

all across the country, neophyte neoclowns line up to share a stage with george bush. they appear anxious to mouth his engorged social security epistles, and regurgitate his most profoundly ignorant talking points.

despite the fact that most americans have dismissed bush and his eye-rolling, repetitive drivel, he continues to insist that social security is a crippled system that, if left alone, would be reduced to a 'group of filing cabinets with a bunch of IOUs in it.'

is it any wonder that most of the civilized world has turned on us? really, if americans are so easily duped by a band of self-serving, self-parodying assklowns, we're too much trouble to bother with.

Monday, May 16, 2005

gainful employment--redux

pursuant to the job i was pursuing...i caught it. or it caught me.

either way, the relationship got underway today, and it's causing me severe cognitive dissonance.

for years i've identified myself as a writer. "what do you do?" "i'm a writer." "oh, really?! how interesting!..." nice conversation starter.

now, however, i am a marketing director. that's what the business card says. marketing director at a clinical research organization. (you got problems? we got clinical trial medication.)

i like being a "writer" better. but after nearly a year out of an advertising agency and too few freelance gigs, it was clear that my self-descriptor had to change--or at least evolve.

p.s. did i mention there's a commute? frick, they're not paying me near enough.

Friday, May 13, 2005

mcclellan squeezed

it's always nice when slimy, squirming scott mcclellan gets put through the wringer. give the boy credit, though. he just learned the word 'protocol' and he's trying to work it into every stumbling sentence he utters.
Q I think there's a disconnect here because, I mean, yesterday you had more than 30,000 people who were evacuated, you had millions of people who were watching this on television, and there was a sense at some point -- it was a short window, a 15-minute window, but there was a sense of confusion among some on the streets. There was a sense of fear. And people are wondering was this not a moment for the President to exercise some leadership, some guidance during that period of time? Was this not a missed opportunity for the President to speak out and at least clarify what -- that he was informed, and what was taking place at that time? If not even during the 15-minute window, why not later in the day?

slimy scott mcclellan: The President did lead, and the President did that after September the 11th when we put the protocols in place to make sure that situations like this were addressed before it was too late. And that was the case -- that was the case in this situation. And in terms of during this time, this was a matter of minutes when this was occurring. And all the appropriate security personal and Homeland Security officials and others were acting to implement those protocols. And we commend all those that worked to follow those protocols and make sure that this situation was addressed. And it worked, in terms of the protocols.
got that? the president did lead. he led the bike ride he was on, all the way back to the candy store. and when he got there he sat down and read his favorite book, "my pet goat."

i like goats. and riding my bike!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

the dark side

the head of hasbro’s u.s. toy division doesn’t know the first thing about children.

brian goldner gets paid a lot of money to market molded plastic to kids, but cannot possibly have any offspring of his own. according to goldner, the sale of star wars "sith" toys to young children does not send the message that "sith" is a movie for them to see.
"We sell a tremendous variety of toys for 'star wars,' and we sell different toys for different ages as well as for collectors," Goldner said. "I don't think anyone expects those children to be at the movie on opening day. The toys are a way to participate too, for the kids that won't be at the theater."
is brian really this dumb? probably not. more likely he’s just a liar, and not a very good one at that. feigning innocence in the face of such a whoriffic and obvious untruth isn’t clever. but given his position and salary, we probably shouldn’t expect him to be truthful about the mega-bucks that are about to roll in.

goldner: "sure, this movie is totally inappropriate for young kids, but george lucas spent a ton of money getting it made. we’re gonna drive the hell out of demand, and kids are gonna drive their parents nuts until they get into the theater.”

goldner prior to his role at hasbro:

Sunday, May 08, 2005

neoclown welfare warfare

new york times editorialist david brooks waxes rhetorically:
Don't take people at their word. Don't listen to them when they tell you how to be virtuous.

They're faking it. They don't care about virtue, or you or the common good. They're just taking opportunistic potshots under the guise of sermonizing. They're just a bunch of hypocrites.

This little bit of moral philosophy is drawn from the political events of the past few years.
now, without looking, which political party is brooks describing?

if you said "republicans," you'd be forgiven, since they are the poster party of faux morality and vulgar opportunism (see "schiavo, terri"). brooks, a slurping, gargling suck-up of the worst kind, actually was describing democrats, and their "failure" to rescue the president from his social security crapwallow.

george will spews in as well, describing most effectively the republican vision of this program...
Whatever is done, or if nothing is done, to reform Social Security, it will be increasingly perceived as a welfare program, important primarily for the least self-sufficient minority.
so much for "the common good" envisioned by the founders, not to mention the party of compassionate conservatism.

then there's debra saunders, who apparently was out sick the day they taught journalism at j-school...
While 99 percent of Washington pols have been talking as if Americans have a sacred right to expect something for nothing, Bush backed a plan by a Democrat, lawyer and mutual-fund executive Robert Pozen, called "progressive indexing." Pozen's plan would maintain Social Security benefit increases for lower-income workers, while limiting increases for high-income and middle-income workers, by tying the growth in their benefits to a price index. The White House claims this plan would fix 70 percent of the system's projected shortfall.

Bush "definitely put his neck out and he deserves a lot of credit for offering a concrete suggestion for how to rein in benefits," said Zeeve. No lie.
is it any wonder that professional journalism is respected every bit as much as a good case of vaginal warts?

in those two paragraphs debra disgraces herself more often than in her entire career as a crack whore. something for nothing, debra? limiting increases? bush deserves credit?

once more: bush deserves credit for failing to produce anything resembling a plan to "fix" social security. that's because bush is not interested in "fixing" social security, he's trying to drive it over a cliff and blame the democrats for faulty steering.

in refusing to "save" bush and his non-plan, the democrats are doing exactly the right thing. the sooner middle class voters realize this president is stealing their futures so the richest 1% of americans can have lavish tax cuts, the sooner the neoclown circus will fold up and scurry out of town.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

gainful employment

i'm poised on the brink of a new job.

this is somewhat surprising, since my last job was a less than fulfilling experience. more, it was demotivating, dispiriting, and disincentivizing.

to be accurate that was my penultimate job. my current gig is much more rewarding...but the pay sucks.

i'm a nanny for my children. back in the day this would have been referred to as "unemployment," and/or "parenting." today, however, i'm mr. mom. or nanny daddy. or some variation on that theme.

i insist.

but, due to economic variables, some of them out of my control, i'm poised, job-brink-wise. also, because my wife insists. something about being able to continue living in our house.

that got my attention, and was persuasive. i would not like to tell my children to go to their room if their room were a cardboard box.

so, i'm haggling with a healthcare company, with the end result ostensibly being a marketing position.

don't worry, though. my first priority will still be this lucrative blog stuff.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

the better to screw with you, my dear...

how some people qualify as quoteworthy is beyond me.

take patrick ruffin...please.

the guy was webmaster for bush-cheney '04. not just a geek, mind you, but a neoclown geek. (not that i have anything against geeks.)

here's his take, quoted in the washington freaking post, on the intelligence of americans...
On lofty questions of policy, perhaps it isn't that the American people are for or against – but that they just don't care. Americans care more about Michael Jackson than judicial filibusters. They are more concerned with Paula Abdul than with the Pozen proposal for progressive indexing. And that is as it should be.
don't you just want to smack him upside his smarmy, smirking head?

what's really disgusting is that he's half-right: americans are more interested in wacko jacko and the runaway bride/freak and laura bush's observations of male horse anatomy.

and that is as it should be, patrick?

actually, that makes some sense, too. because the more americans are raptly fascinated with this kind of mind-shredding crap, the easier it is for devious little snots like you and your boss to eff up this country.

twitchy little twit...

Monday, May 02, 2005

white house insecurity

carol towarnicky is aghast. agape. agog.

she's the chief editorial writer at the philadelphia daily news, so she has some experience in discerning the newsworthiness of a story.

so why, carol wonders, has the mainstream media totally punted on james guckert, aka jeff gannon, the white house's favorite gay porn/escort shill?
IF A REPORTER who doubled as a gay hooker had visited the Clinton White House nearly 200 times, think it would have made the news? And if 39 of those White House visits were mysteriously unrelated to his "reporting" duties, imagine what innuendoes would be issuing forth from Planet Limbaugh. Imagine the organized phone call campaign demanding newspapers and TV stations report the story.

But Gannon/Guckert isn't being unveiled or innuendoed or even blipped on media radar screens, even among liberals.
if the post-9/11 fear factory, aka the white house, has an imposter running around within spitting distance of the president, why isn't that news? in the post-"moral values" election white house, did the secret service know a gay porn star was within kissing distance of the president?

the people who let this guy pass 196 times have some serious explaining to do, and so far they've refused to do so. and it's because the media is complicit in giving the story a pass.

so, either the "liberal media" is dead, or every white house correspondent is being paid from the ari fleischer memorial slush fund.

either way, towarnicky is right, and you've gotta wonder what kind of parties they're throwing at 1600...

Friday, April 29, 2005

repetitive motion

there's a point in ayn rand's "atlas shrugged" when people realize they're just going through the motions, doing what they're accustomed to doing, no matter how ludicrous it is. no one believes in the charade. but no one steps up and says, "hey, this is stupid."

are you living like this? one part of your brain is screaming, "hey, homer! you're acting like a circus monkey! cut it out." another part is saying, "don't listen to him, he's crazy. go back to your very special episode of 'blossom'."

(don't worry, it's a rhetorical question.)

which brings us to george bush's latest press conference.

reporter: mr. president, what about iraq?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about increased terror attacks?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about drilling in anwr?
george: we're making great progress.
reporter: mr. president, what about your dispicable lack of character, morals or brain cells?
george: we're making great progress.

oh, sorry. there was a point to the ayn rand reference, and it was this: soon thereafter, the whole u.s. social and business structure came crashing down, because it was built out of bullshit. kind of like the current u.s.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

laughing with the enemy

david broder is a funny guy.

he thinks (get this) that democrats should trust republicans to do the right thing. [insert snorting guffaw here.]
Instead of sending a message that they do not trust their Republican colleagues' judgment -- and therefore feel justified in preventing a vote -- the Democrats would be saying to their colleagues and the country: We trust you to take your "advise and consent" duties seriously.

And they should feel such trust. The balance of power in the Senate is not in a right-wing cabal; it is in the moderate center. You can see that in the careful way the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is weighing the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations. You saw it also in Senate debate on the budget resolution.
lol. good one, dave.

can anyone imagine why democrats wouldn't trust their republican colleagues? besides iraq, social security, bankruptcy, tax cuts for the rich, terri schiavo, tom delay, bill frist, "justice sunday", anwr, donald rumsfeld, and dick cheney i mean? yeah, those are some pretty impressive credentials, aren't they?

dave, it was hilarious when your boy newt gingrich and his friends were busy obstructing two clinton administrations. remember how funny that was? that was back in the days before pre-emptive wars, and an undeclared war on non-wealthy americans. that was back in the days of budget surplusses and uninterrupted prosperity. thank god those days are over, huh?

what's that you say?
The Republicans -- with Vice President Cheney in the chair -- could well muster the 51 votes needed to change Senate rules and abolish judicial filibusters. If that were to happen, Democrats have said they would use every rule and procedure available to them to bring the work of the Senate to a halt.

Building such a roadblock to consideration of such important legislation as energy, Social Security, welfare reform and the routine financing of government would bring down deserved public condemnation, and the mighty megaphone of the White House would ensure that Democrats took the brunt of the blame.
dave, you're not keeping up with current events. americans will be very unamused if republicans trash over two centuries of history to facilitate the neoclown agenda.

so i think you can forget about senate democrats bending over for theocracy-promoting, environment-wrecking, science-hating, torture-loving republicans and their pet judicial nominees.

sorry, dave, but this bit of high comedy is not the democrats' responsibility. if the senate republicans are as infused with integrity and fairness as you say, it should be no trouble at all for them to turn back before their little car bursts into flames and plunges off the cliff.

even though that would be really funny to watch.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

whither winthrop in winter?

according to local legend, winthrop, washington is a winter wonderland.

this is a seasonal designation, interestingly enough, generally occurring during the winter months.

but not this year. this year there was no snow in winthrop. no cross-country skiing. no snowmobiling. no horse-drawn sleigh rides. no winter retail. no more fun of any kind.

and so, predictably, the locals turned to cannibalism.

no, not really. but given the slowdown in the local economy, it wouldn't really surprise to read tales of the dark side in the methow valley news, would it? instead of reading about how udell and georgia sanders were grand marshall and grand lady of 49er days, we might easily imagine how georgia cooked up old udell in a vat of barbeque. mightn't we?

georgia and udell in happier times.

okay, i hyperbolize. but the fact is, without tourism, the towns of winthrop and twisp (8 miles apart, according to the road sign, but really only 5 miles separate), are sunk. bereft. desolated.

or so one would think. as it turns out, these twin towns of different fathers have more going for them than is obvious at first or even second glance. particularly if the glances are cursory or dismissive (i speak from experience in those areas).

in winthrop, the kitschy neo-faux western town, you can dine on excellent thai cuisine at the topo cafe. at least i think you can. we had take-out from the topo recently, and received the last entrees of the evening...because the chef cut herself and had to be rushed to the emergency room. prior to this unfortunate event, however, the food was excellent.

twisp counters with the II bees cafe. it's a breakfast joint, it's an art gallery, no's both. totally non sequitir in this burg, this outpost, i thought. before thinking again.

then there's the duelling brew pubs.

the winthrop brewing company and the twisp river pub. both with a river view, and both serving up home-made beer. if you like that sort of thing.

and we do.

the ultimate head-scratcher, however, is the sun mountain lodge, just outside winthrop. if at first you thought there was no reason for either of these towns to exist, you could be excused. but the sun's out there. way. out. there.

looming out of the fog, with a presence like the overlook hotel, the sun mountain is a stunning destination resort. it hosts a 5-star restaurant, plush accommodations, and an array of activities for anyone interested in activizing.

keep in mind, seattle is the closest thing to a city anywhere within a 5-hour drive. so the market for these businesses has to come from far away. i don't know how they turn a profit. but i do know this: the food at the sun mountain dining room is as good as the view. and the view is spectacular.

sure, alferd packer was the head chef, but i wasn't concerned...i had the halibut.

winter in winthrop is over, as if it never happened at all. okay, this year it didn't happen at all. despite that, the locals seem to be getting along nicely. whether we know about them or not.

Monday, April 11, 2005

days with dogs II

two hairy dogs and one harried owner visit the local park...

twice a day, every day. morning and evening. different crowds, one goal: get the dogs to pee and poop at the park, instead of in the yard.

oh, it's also good that the dogs get some exercise, socialize, and give their little doggy brains something to ponder besides their next meal.

it works out well for the dogs, who are often better-behaved than their owners.

wally is a smart, funny little jack russell terrier. dennis, his owner, is a lapsed advertising copywriter who recently completed his first book. wally runs around, plays, and generally disregards dennis' instructions. dennis, a bit of a control freak, gets uptight if other dogs attempt to play with wally's rubber bone.

dennis is spiritual kin to "garbo," an astringent woman with an enthusiastic border collie. garbo (she wants to be alone) gets extremely flustered if another dog attempts to intrude on her game of fetch. in a park full of dogs chasing thrown items, this attitude is problematic.

sam, a long-haired dacshund, likes to hump other dogs. it's semi-amusing at first, as the targets of his affection are often males, and always bigger than sam. but soon it becomes clear that sam's owner will do nothing to discourage this behavior--and becomes indignant if the target dog objects.
"there are no bad dogs, only bad owners."

this is a true statement. and while these people aren't bad owners, they're dragging down the average. i applaud them for providing a good home and excellent care for their pets. but i have to question the world view of a person who lets a dog act like it's on a bad episode of 'animal cops.'

bad dog, bad dog, what'cha gonna do?

which brings us to me, and my dog, gunnar. gunnar is a thief. he has been since he was a pup. despite nine years of my best intentions and efforts, he still steals anything he can get his mouth on. oh, and he's also a canine disposal--he tries to eat the things he steals.

nothing is safe. tennis balls, leashes, poop bags (unused), dog toys. also books, cell phones, sunglasses, footballs. the dog has been split open from stem to stern at christmas time to remove an assortment of recreational equipment from his digestive tract. and he remains undeterred.

the one and only factor saving me from further embarrassment is that gunnar is going blind, and can't see to steal nearly as much or as often. it's an unfortunate but useful tradeoff.

so, upon further review, it's likely that other dog people look at gunnar and say, "bad dog." if they're more philosophical they may just look at me and say, "bad owner." either way, i suppose i'm dragging down the average.

but look we're trying. we play well with the other dogs, and with most of the people. we're not perfect--but then again, it's an imperfect world. and we're just doing our best to keep the poop off the bottom of our shoes.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

house new-tiful

when we moved to seattle, i didn't anticipate renovating an entire house in less than a year.

but i'm a man, and we don't experience the female biological imperative to change for the sake of change.

so i was unprepared for my wife's implacable and constant drive to re-do the whole place. i mean, sure some cosmetic stuff had to go. the floral print wallpaper borders and complementing fruit cabinet hardware, for example, were tres cheesy. the wicker cabinets in both baths were inarguably bad. and the electric faux-fireplace taking up a huge chunk of living room space? that was just stupid.

but these were mere prelude. little did i realize the wholesale and wanton upheaval that was to follow.

in the past few weeks we have met with representatives of the ironworks industry (spiral staircase to the basement); the decking industry (trex deck and oh-what-the-hell, a hot tub for the back yard); a general contractor ("a second story on the house? sure, we can do that!"); and an architect ("push out the front of the house about 8 feet and you could have a fabulous kitchen!").

get a bobcat and dig out the front of the house. add a couple french doors, instant walk-out basement. switch the arrangement of the laundry room and downstairs bath. built-in cabinets and a gas fireplace for the family room.

there's more, but i'm scaring myself now.

for the sake of convenience, many of these little projects were coming in at $4,500. estimate after estimate, $4,500. it was eerily reminiscent of the old richard pryor bit, in which every change to his new house was $500.
contractor: what'cha want? it's $500.
pryor: i haven't even told you what i want yet.
contractor: i don't give a fuck, it's $500.
apparently there's been some inflation in the house renovation industry over the past few years.

all we need is a roll of $4,500 bills and we'll knock this whole thing out right quick. here's one for you, and one for you, and one for you...oh, what the hell, take two. it's only money. of course some of these improvements will exceed $4,500. the second floor and the kitchen, for example. oh well. we'll simply have to scrounge up some more $4,500 bills somewhere. lots more.

can we spend it? yes, we can!

change is inevitable. i know that. my wife wants this house to be a dream home. i'm down with that, too. but does it have to happen all at once? can't we spread it out over, say, the next 10 years?

sorry. bad attitude. if i want to embrace my wife, i will have to learn to embrace these changes. and i do. so i will.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

a passing

my friend ed and i have known each other since kindergarten. i still remember him sitting on the floor in the front row, tall and impressive for a five-year-old. one day our teacher, mrs. phillips, complimented him on sitting up nice and straight. so, i sat up nice and straight, hoping she'd say something about me. didn't happen.

there's a picture of ed and his dad, taken in about 1963, featured prominently in ed's living room. next to it is a shot of ed and his son, staged to look just like the previous generation of father-and-son. it's a simple display, but also charming and endearing.

it's also sad, because ed's father died easter weekend.

the fact of his passing was not so sad, in that he was suffering from a painful, debilitating disease. it would be much more tragic if he were obliged to stay, interminably, tormented by his condition.

i've known ed for almost 40 years. we went to school together, played sports together, drank together...we even dated the same girl in high school. that's an incidental detail i don't hold against him, because he married the girl and i got to be in the wedding party. i also got to be godfather to their two kids, and they are two of the most beautiful children i know. our families have vacationed together, and one day we may buy a snazzy vacation home somewhere. together.

anyway, the point is we have a lifetime of shared memories--but in all that time, i never knew ed's dad. he moved away years ago, and my understanding is he never really looked back. so he didn't have a good handle on the person his son grew into; the committed father and husband and friend he became as a man. ed's dad died without being able to look at his son and say, "that's my boy, and i'm proud of him."

it's sad, because there's a lot to be proud of. ed is intelligent, and funny. he's a good writer, and he makes a mean mai tai. back in the day he was a hell of a basketball he coaches his two kids, who have in turn become basketball prodigies.

so, i went to a funeral yesterday. funerals being what they are, it was a sad occasion. for a lot of reasons. but there was one aspect of this passing that was not at all unhappy, and it's this: buried with ed's father is a legacy of distance and indifference that could have easily been inherited by his son, but was not. that torch was not passed on to his son's children.

conventional wisdom is that we all want our children to do better, to be better than we were. i hope ed's father now knows that his son achieved that goal, and much more.

Monday, March 28, 2005

what we know

the old advice for writers is to write what we know. i don't know if this is such great advice, but it's a good place to start.

i know a few things.

gimme a minute, i'll think of something...

pfft, come to think of it, i don't know a damn thing.
okay, that's the disclaimer. now, on to things i claim to know, but cannot provide a link to, clinical trial results from, or divine insight of...

number one (and these are in no particular order): the ncaa basketball tournament is one of the greatest sporting events of any year. the games themselves provide industrial strength drama, pathos, and exhilaration. and the office pools are great entertainment. fact is, big dance pools are a pretty good metaphor for life, aren't they? everybody makes their picks according to what they know, what they feel, and at the end, most times, everybody's brackets are a shambles. just. like. life.

letter b: orcas are damn fine representatives of the pacific northwest. sea otters are more easily anthropomorphized, river otters are more charming, but orcas are awe-inspiring. having seen them up close, from the cockpit of a sea kayak, i can say i've never been the same since. make of that what you will.

number 3: neocon politics and politicians are a threat to this country. they have demonstrated they have no respect for the poor, for children, for the geneva conventions, for the constitution, or for our intelligence. they must be stopped.