Sunday, February 28, 2010

this is one of those times

there are times when so many difficulties swirl about us that it feels like the inside of a tornado.

and from your tilt-a-whirl perch you wouldn't be a bit surprised to see almira gulch on her bike, pedaling endlessly, as if it were possible to ride out of the storm and into, oh-i-don't-know-what. freefall, maybe.

perhaps you're familiar with times like these. perhaps, you'd say, this life is solely and entirely composed of times like these. that anything else is illusion.

you'd get no argument from me.

just by way of example: a friend of mine, kary, has leukemia. she's been battling it for months, putting up a hell of a fight. recently a nice doctor told her there was nothing else he could do for her, that he wanted to call in hospice, and that oh-by-the-way, she had a week to live.

way to go, nice doctor.

trouble is, kary wasn't prepared to play out her part in that particular script. she wasn't quite ready to stop living, see, so she basically told the nice doctor to go fuck himself. she got on the phone with a different doctor, who agreed dying could wait. to that end, she told kary to hop in the car and drive from flagstaff, arizona, to phoenix, for a red blood cell transfusion.

so, kary and her mom madly drove to phoenix only to find that, hospital protocols being what they were, she'd have to keep driving. to tucson. everyone must adhere to protocols, mustn't they? even the dying. because protocols and formalities and rule-following should be a top priority for the dying, after all.

kary's mom drove on to tucson, to the university of arizona medical center. kary checked herself into the emergency department and got her transfusion.

it's been more than a week now, and kary still refuses to lay down and die (the nice doctor notwithstanding). apparently the U of A physicians and protocols and treatments are focused on keeping the living alive until such time that they're no longer alive.

if you can imagine such a thing.

according to her sister, kary is scared and "in need of hope--lots of hope." which is what i was thinking about as i ran errands today.

on my way to somewhere, i passed a car with a bunch of bumper stickers on it. most of them were old and faded, but one looked brand new, and that's the one i read in the 1.2 seconds it took me to pass by.

it said, "be brave."

it was one of those surreal moments that go by in slow motion, to make sure you don't miss it. no, i don't believe in such things, but there it was, and there i was, and the moment vibrated like a cosmic tuning fork.

maybe it was a quiet call for me to send whatever good karma i've accumulated on to kary.

and maybe it was a reminder that the challenges facing the spaceneedl family are really nothing by comparison. that we should acknowledge and embrace our ridiculous good fortune, and stop bitching about our diminutive problems.

and maybe, since i don't believe in such things, it was a coincidence.

probably that's exactly what it was.

but there are times when i'd like to believe otherwise.

this is one of those times.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


journalism isn't dead.

not at all! it's merely alive in a different form: newszombie! the cool thing about this news is, it eats your brains!

don't take my word for it!

"kill the killer whale?" soul-searchingly asks, "should we kill the intelligent animals we hold captive for our entertainment and profit?"

"seaworld suspending all of its killer whale shows today after after one of the park's star attractions turned on its trainer and killed her in front of a horrified audience...hln news shows are asking viewers if the whale involved in wednesday's incident should be put down."

did you feel it? part of your brain was just consumed! you'll never get it back again!

but wait...there's more!

"what caused killer whale to attack?" wants you to believe that a bloodthirsty animal viciously turned on its trainer.

"Trainer Dawn Brancheau understood the power of SeaWorld's biggest killer whale better than most. She worked with Tilikum for more than 10 years. Yet on Wednesday, as she stood knee deep in water rubbing the massive animal's head as a reward for a good training session, he turned on her.", that's not the whale having a snack, that's newszombie eating more of your brain!

"gatorade dumps tiger woods" is a lurid tale of a major brand cynically used by another major brand, then callously tossed aside.

"We no longer see a role for Tiger in our marketing efforts and have ended our relationship," a Gatorade spokesman said Friday in a statement. "We wish him all the best."

gatorade contains high-fructose corn syrup which has been linked to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease. so, the tiger brand got dumped by the brand that contributes to death and disease all over the world. "yes, but our fine beverages have never had sex with porn stars, strippers and escorts," said the spokesperson. "we just can't be associated with that kind of behavior."


on an encouraging final note, congressional republicans have finally come up with a substantive proposal for healthcare reform. let's roll the newszombie video on this plan...

are you clear on the plan? "let's start over, from a clean sheet of paper, scrap the bill, go step by step, and start over."

it was not widely reported, but the plan also calls for zombies to eat the brains of anyone with pre-existing conditions, anyone who gets sick, and anyone not covered by dick cheney's health plan.

the 24-hour newszombie. burp...ahhh!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

in the history of history...

...has anyone ever celebrated a nice achievement with a little bubbly and a cigar?

or is that kind of thing so unprecedented as to be scandalous?

i ask only because a bunch of canadian women just won the olympic gold medal in ice hockey, and had just such a celebration on the ice afterward.

cut to the horrified faces of the IOC, their collective panties in a pious twist.

A reporter asked the executive director of the Olympic Games, Gilbert Felli, about the incident. He responded, “It is not what we want to see. I don’t think it’s a good promotion of sport values.” He promised an investigation. This occurred the same day the president of the IOC said women’s hockey might be removed from the winter games.

as reported, the celebration occurred a half-hour after the arena had cleared out. it's not like the fans were still in the stands, parents covering the eyes of their innocent children.

maybe the IOC is outraged because they dislike fun. or because the celebrants were women. can't have the girls acting like the guys, after all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the kitchen pit

this is not going well.

the kitchen remodel that was supposed to be simple and scaled-down and therefore more achievable in a short time is none of the above.

as a result, mama ain't happy. and you know what that means.

everybody hides and/or cowers. if they're smart. and fast.

i'm neither.

* * * * *

the problems are many and varied.

turns out, our wiring is a joke, and will cost much money to fix. myriad electricians and previous inspections failed to reveal this issue. why now? couldn't we have remained blissfully ignorant, burned down the house, and collected the insurance?

no, of course not. we have to be offered the opportunity to do things the right way. as if we weren't hard-wired to do exactly that. it's not even an interesting dilemma. we'll bitch about it a little, then spend the money. while bitching a little more.

* * * * *

the new cabinets on one wall don't work. which is to say, they were mis-measured. so they don't fit properly. replacement cabinets must be ordered, pushing back the install, ergo pushing back the delivery of the countertops. the next available delivery is three weeks out. meaning we won't have cabinet-closure for a month.

while all this is going on, the kitchen is unusable. we can't cook, because the stove is in the middle of the room. we can't do dishes, because the dishwasher is out on the deck.

dinner is a debacle. monday, we got take-out, eaten on paper plates. last night we had pizza delivered, eaten on three paper plates and in one paper bowl -- because we only had three paper plates. tonight was a culinary collage of unsatisfying, disparate quasi-food, eaten in two paper bowls and on two paper towels.

we definitely need to purchase more paper plates.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

there are things you just don't do

so the pain begins
as the music fades
and i'm left here with
with more than i can take

if you lift me up
just get me through this night
i know i'll rest tomorrow
and i'll be strong enough to try

there are some things in this life that are just not okay.

it's not okay to torture people.

you don't crash your plane into a building.

and you never shoot the children.

what manner of insanity is afoot when someone will take a high-powered rifle to a school and open fire on children?

why does this scenario play itself out, again and again, in this country?

how have we become so desensitized to the violence that we just shrug it off and pretend nothing happened?

it's one more thing we shouldn't do. but we do it all the time.

and we'll do it again tomorrow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

yes, i do...

yesterday's 30-year retrospective on nbc was maudlin and manipulative.

even so, even all these years later...every time i hear al michaels' call, i get chills.

every. time.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


geez, that sucked.

there are so many movies available through comcast on-demand, and i picked 'inglourious basterds'?

i want my damn money back, and more importantly i want my damn two and a half hours back.

what's doubly vexing is that the word-of-mouth on this thing was so good. everyone i know was all, "OMG, that was so great! oscars for everyone!"

i mean, i get why so many people liked it. if you like your violence gratuitous and your philosophy morally untethered, it was probably a hoot.

who, after all, could help but cheer wildly for an orgy of scalpings and torture and suicide bombings---a cinematic imitation of justice, or, at least, vengeance over the architects of the thousand-year reich? yay, good guys. if, you know, good guys who adopt the cold-blooded tactics of bad guys can somehow remain good.

but even as a simple revenge fantasy, 'basterds' fails. breaking news: hitler and the nazis were really, really bad. wouldn't it be high-larious if they all died horrifically at the hands of their aggrieved victims?

of course if you can accept the premise that torture and suicide bombings and civilian casualties are "justified," then you've also accepted the premise that terrorism is in the eye of the beholder. that one nation's terrorist is another's avenging angel. that, really, in a world of gray shades, there is nothing that can be categorized as just plain "wrong". in that world, anything goes, including self-indulgent machine-gun masturbation.

or, "the u.s. foreign policy during the bush years" if you will. and even if you won't.

another philosophical problem with this particular fantasy is that the victims' revenge came too late. to justify its rollicking good slaughter, the movie required that millions of people still die needlessly.

i mean, if you want to really torture hitler and his minions, wouldn't it be more fun to deprive them of their millions of victims? to stop their killing before it ever started? as long as we're playing "what if...", what if the basterds came across hitler in the early days of the third reich, discerned that things were heading down a demonic rathole, and killed der crazy furher on the spot?

the ethical trouble with that, obviously, is that at that point the epic crimes had yet to be committed. instead of preventing an historic catastrophe, the good guys would have been guilty of nothing more noble than pre-emptive murder (or "the bush doctrine" if you prefer. and even if you don't).

according to imdb, it took quentin tarantino ten years to come up with the script for this film. really, qt? ten years? for a premise that countless college freshmen have pondered for decades? nice work.

inglourious basterds grossed over $320 million in theaters, and now it's got five bucks from me. i don't begrudge tarantino his hundreds of millions for catering to moral tone-deafness. there'll always be an eager audience for that.

but i want my five bucks back.

Friday, February 12, 2010

daddy's night in

this never happens.

it's friday night, and no one's home but me.

all the other needls are out on the town. the boy child is up skiing in the rain. missus spaceneedl and the girl child are at the ballet.

it's daddy time.

we're starting with a frozen pizza. something from california pizza kitchen. it has chicken on it.

red wine. a rioja i picked up at trader joe's. it's not bad.

salad. something i made from ingredients in the veggie drawer. i know, crazy right?

and finally, the evening's entertainment...something i'd never get to watch with the missus.

inglourious basterds.

this is not on par with a night spent skiing, and certainly cannot compare with the ballet.

but i'll take it.

* * * * *

update: regarding "inglourious basterds"...i chose poorly.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


super bowl sunday is a threat to america's security.

because while everybody in america is sitting goggle-eyed in front of their televisions, nefarious non-watchers have free rein to run amok.

first off, what kind of people don't watch the super bowl? it's an american institution, watched over by god, who has a big stake in the office pool. if you're not watching, you must be up to no good. unless you're on a beer run, of course. even then, you're guilty of poor planning.

the country is conditioned from birth to participate in this ritual. if you don't participate, others look at you with suspicion.

full disclosure: i didn't watch the game. i saw one uneventful play at the end of the first quarter, then went on a multi-state crime spree.

no one noticed.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

because it's there

i dislike running.

i may have mentioned this before, i realize, but it bears repeating.

i do not like running one bit.

but i like being able to run.

to that end, i ventured outdoors at lunch today, and ran two miles.

i realize that a two-mile lunchtime run is not terribly impressive. but to me, it was very exciting---because it was the first time i've run outside in 7 months.

i ripped up my knee on june 24 last year, and the rehab has progressed from the stationary bike to the elliptical to the treadmill.

my first stint running on the treadmill, a couple months ago, lasted 5 minutes. it was not pleasant. by that i mean, it hurt. the surgeon warned me this would be the case, and like everything else related to my recovery, he was right.

still...i wanted to be able to run. so i did. six minutes the next time, then 8, then 12, 15 and 16 minutes at a time.

the thing is, if running generally is tedious, it is moreso on the treadmill. having espn on the tv monitor in front of me reduces the tedium only slightly. by comparison, running outdoors on a springlike day is almost enjoyable.


today, two miles, twenty minutes. painfully slow, but other than that, not particularly painful at all. i passed several people out walking, a mother pushing a stroller, a high school gym class, and a bunch of ducks.

my return to the parking lot at the Y coincided with the current limit of my endurance. i was totally gassed, but at the same time...

it felt good to run. because i can.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

must-see hgtv...

recently i may have said something like "there's nothing worth watching on tv."

that was before we stumbled across home & garden television.

now it's all we watch, all night every night.

we can't tear ourselves away from holmes on homes, house hunters, house hunters international, curb appeal, bang for your buck, and property virgins. every night we watch way past our bedtime, and every morning we wake up with a horrendous hgtv hangover.

part of the reason it's come to this is that there's nothing else on. i mean, really. nothing. our cable package is a wasteland of digital noise. except for the weather channel, of course. but after you've seen your local on the 8s eight or ten times, you've got to change the channel or throw something through the screen.

i suppose our incipient plan to move out of our current home and into something bigger and better may be contributing to this new obsession. through hgtv we can participate vicariously as an endless procession of families and couples wanders through their dream homes (no matter how lacking in taste those dreams might be).

this is enough, for now, since we're not ready to participate any other way. the shows enable us to compile a running list of nice-to-haves, have-to-haves, and would-never-have-under-any-circumstances. they let us practice our high-maintenance demands and our snarky complaints. or maybe they just let us get all that unpleasantness out of our system before our own search begins.

either way, it's very therapeutic.

thanks to hgtv, it's become obvious that we absolutley must have a walk-in master closet the size of a large barn. we should be able to get dressed there and live there, if necessary.

clearly no civilized family can live without a 4-piece master bath with double vanities and a vaulted water feature mistakable for snoqualmie falls.

we must have a man-cave, a place (usually in the basement) where men go to do manly things like watch football games and drink beer and talk wistfully about women.

we've learned that no home is complete without some kind of stone countertops in the gourmet kitchen. complemented by so many stainless steel appliances that the reflection from the custom lighting makes it impossible to see the stone countertops.

and backsplashes. lots of backsplashes.

there are other mandatories, of course, but we have a budget to keep in mind. given the cost expansion factor typical of the seattle area, all this will be affordable just as soon as we win the lottery.

or some future "win your dream home" promo on hgtv.