Saturday, August 28, 2010

brownie bites...

michael brown sees dead people.

and he thinks, "i can make a pile of money off of those corpses."

the bodies in question would be those of the people of new orleans who died of an acute case of ineptitude inflicted by brown and the bush administration.

those facts are not in dispute, so we'll not relitigate them here. more currently, however, brown is attempting to rewrite history, returning to new orleans to broadcast his radio show and to pimp his upcoming book.

“This is a part of my life. This was a very significant part of my life. Everybody in the world knows it was a part of my life. So I’m going to show up.”

no matter how many died, no matter how many lives were wrecked, it's still all about brownie, who's showing up five years after he watched an american city drown.

as the head of a major government agency designed to help in times of emergency, it seems a shame that he didn't show up in a meaningful way when it might've made a difference. but brown takes no responsibility for any of it, including the part where he was completely unqualified to hold that position in the first place.

by brown's own description, his book will attempt to deflect blame for a delayed and pitifully inadequate FEMA response; to deny mismanaging the resources that were available; to bury the formaldehyde-laced trailers sent to house the thousands of homeless. and typically, to blame government for the corruption of an administration that raised haplessness to an art form...
"Whatever your persuasion is, we have to recognize is that this federal government of the United States is so large and cumbersome that we really can’t and should not expect it to be this kind of well-oiled, well-running machine. It’s not."

of course it's not. especially when it's peopled with grotesque incompetents who live to prove how useless government can be. note to those who like democracy: never vote for people who brag about how much they hate our government.

sidebar: remember this one? "no one could've predicted the failure of the levees"? yeah, that was a lie, too.

even with the benefit of five years' reflection, brownie insists the real problem in katrina's aftermath was not a failed response, but rather, bad PR.

Brown said one of his regrets is not being more straightforward with the public. "Even though we told the facts, we didn't tell it in the right context," Brown said. "We should have said, 'This is what we are doing, but its taking longer ... than we expected it to."

funny how everything takes longer when you have no idea what you're doing.

but that no longer matters. five years is forever ago in a country that can't remember what happened last week, let alone during the last administration. and hey, history notwithstanding, life's all good in brownie world...

"I'm on the number-one station in Denver, I have one book that's in print now, a second book that I'm starting to work on already, I still speak around the world, I have clients around the country, I have a company here in Denver, I have two grandkids. What's the problem?"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

feed me, seymore

the little needls are away at camp.

so the routine of "turn off the tv, shut down the DS, wash your hands and get in here for dinner" is temporarily suspended.

in its place is a new routine, a completely random assortment of "what are you hungry for, i don't know what do we have, we have leftovers, i had that for lunch, we need to eat this before it goes bad, and is there more wine?"

each night the missus and i scurry around cobbling together a meal generally characterizable as healthy, tasty, but mostly hasty.

tonight's menu, such as it is, includes leftover fresh pasta, leftover soup, leftover salad, and a better-than-good italian zinfandel. when the wine is good, the food gets better. this is not a coincidence.

we worry the children, by comparison, are losing weight. the list of foods they consider edible is about four items long. if the camp dinner wagon is serving up something not on the list, it's a safe bet the little needls ain't eating it.

another possibility we suspect, but cannot confirm, is that their dietary habits change away from home. that when they get hungry enough they temporarily expand their menu by an item or three. surely these children would not be that intellectually inconsistent.

but, it's camp. what doesn't kill them makes them complain louder.

programming update: the leftover salad on tonight's menu has been replaced by stir-fried brussels sprouts. the leftover pasta has been replaced by fresh bread with cheese, olives and roasted tomatoes. we now rerturn you to your regularly scheduled torpor.

the children are away four more nights. in that time we plan to make this new routine permanent.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

tough on the outside

my wife is a tough chick.

the toughening started early, as the youngest of five children~four of them girls. her parents were hoping to add one more boy to the mix, see, and her mother, so disappointed by the announcement ~ "it's another girl!" ~ allegedly was despondent.

i'm not saying the child was subesquently neglected, but if she didn't finish the bottle quick enough, her mom gave the rest to the dog. her hand-me-downs came from a pack of javelinas. and on cold swim team mornings, she was the child voted most likely to test the water temperature.

somewhere along the way her mother told her, "you'll never be pretty, so you better be smart." nice, huh?

unfortunately, my wife believed it. and even though she grew up to be quite lovely, she's always seen herself as the ugly duckling. she also turned out to be a biomedical engineer, so at least her mom was half-right.

mrs. spaceneedl grew up in the arizona desert at a time when sun exposure was maximized and sunscreen was unheard of. years of cumulative skin damage eventually manifested itself as a series of basal cell carcinomas. on her arm, her back, her shoulder, and her face (three times).

off to the dermatologist she'd go, for assorted cryosurgeries, excisions and grafts, endured matter-of-factly.

sidebar: we've been together a long time-~26 years, if you can imagine~further proof of her courage. the years have been good, mostly, with enough bad to make us appreciate the difference. the missus has stoically dealt with adult-onset asthma. a thrice-broken tailbone. four miscarriages. the loss of her mom to cancer. three primary cancers for her dad.

there's more, but you get the idea.

last week she went in to have another basal cell growth removed from her nose. it was supposed to be a relatively quick procedure...excision, a couple sutures, a few uncomfortable days. no big deal.

turns out, it was more complicated.

the growth was larger than expected, so the doctor had to remove more tissue from a place where there isn't much excess to begin with. this meant that the fix was more involved, as well. there were a couple graft options, one of which was invasive and barbaric-sounding. the other was no picnic, either, but seemed slightly less horrific.

she came out of the hospital with a large white wrap on her nose, swollen cheeks, and eyes just starting to blacken. so much for the minor procedure.

this morning it was time to change the bandages.

"i dreamed there were just three little Xs on my nose," she said, "and i thought, 'wow, that's not so bad after all.'"

standing at the mirror, i told her, "this is not the time to assess how it looks. two months from now you can make an assessment. this morning is as bad as it's going to be. from here on it gets nothing but better."

she paused, then peeled back the gauze. her nose was criss-crossed with stiches and red, raw-looking tissue. it looked intensely painful, and you could see her calculating how ugly it'd make her by her mom's standard.

after a few quiet moments, she cried.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

plan B

plan A never goes according to plan.

most often, plan A goes sideways the millisecond after you put the finishing touches to it. good thing you've got a back-up plan, huh? 

nuh-uh. same thing applies to plan B and plan C and so on through the alphabet.

because no plan can account for the many variables you can think of, and all those you'd never conjure up in your most intricate anxiety dream. 

so while planning is very conscientious and comforting and human, it's mostly an exercise in delusion. the next time you think you're in control of the situation, no matter how innocuous the situation may seem, take a step back and allow yourself the languid terror of imagining how many ways you might be wrong. 

it won't make you feel better, but it'll bring you into the moment like a rake handle between the eyes.

and what could be more fun that that?

let's say, by way of example, that you have a deep, oppressive fear of flying. despite your fear and your careful avoidance of airplanes, some improbable set of variables aligns to absolutely require air travel. so you suck it up and get on the plane. settling into your seat, every sound you hear~from the loading of bags to the closing of the cargo door to the hissing of the ventilation system~confirms what you already know: the plane is seriously malfunctioning and inevitably going down.

take-offs and landings, you know, are the most dangerous. so as you roll down the runway, gaining terrifying speed, you hold your breath and wait for the end...which doesn't come! yet.

in flight, you're quite certain that every bump is the one with your name on it, the one that will put the plane into an unrercoverable dive. next thing you know, however, the captain is asking the flight attendants to prepare for landing. already? is it possible? still, you're not ready to be grateful, as the landing will shirley be disastrous.

but no, the landing is flawless, and as you taxi toward the gate, you're ecstatic. everything went according to (somebody's) plan. you take a deep breath and smile. almost simultaneously, you hear shouting. there's a disturbance behind you. people are fighting!

is it 9/11 all over again? the world goes dim, and you faint... only to learn later that the hijacking was just a flight attendant having a hissy fit and exiting the plane. down the escape slide with a couple beers in hand.

not part of the plan. and now you're traumatized in a whole new way.  

moving on, let's say you're sitting in the waiting area of a local hospital. it's quite luxurious, really, compared with, say, the rest of the world. you got your comfy chairs, your cable tv, your multiplicity of outlets powering everyone's wifi-enabled devices. hungry? there's a nice internet cafe. bon apetit.

there are so many creature comforts and distractions, it's almost possible to completely compartmentalize where you are and what might be happening just beyond the big gray door over there on the right side of the room. almost. because someone you care about is having surgery right through that door. 

and if you accidently allow yourself a stray moment of high alert~entirely appropriate given the surroundings~you remember that anything can happen the next time that door opens and someone in scrubs walks through.

it's a slow-motion moment in which you can hear yourself breathe and feel the blood moving through your veins and you experience the same feeling your ancestors did when they realized the wolf pack had caught their scent and was turning in their direction.

not part of the plan.

this is not to say that every plan goes upside down whenever the wind blows, ushering in an epoch of suffering and darkness (the bush administration notwithstanding). most plans play out just he way they're constructed, blithely unperturbed by the infinite variables whizzing past. any one of which could send the planet spiraling into the sun, but somehow doesn't. 

no, this is simply to say that as responsible as we all are, planning and forecasting and predicting with such adorable certainty...there's really no such thing. and the sooner we realize that plans A through Z have gone hilariously awry, all through history, the sooner we get to beer o'clock. metaphysically, that is.

speaking of which...


it's good to have a plan.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

this side of history

you almost have to laugh.

at a time when teabaggers and racists and hatemongers of other varying stripes are campaigning viciously against anything and everything not lily white, it turns out we're all africans.

that's right, billy're one of them coloreds.

in this context one could stipulate the "color" might be that of the sitting u.s. president, or of immigrants from anywhere but western europe, or of those marching under a rainbow banner.

but for the moment we'll stick to the science at hand, which suggests that all of humanity is descended from a population of homo sapiens, perilously close to ice age extinction, on the extreme southern tip of africa.

is it not a laugh riot? is it not a screaming outrage? is it not at least a deep (dark) shade of ironic?

take, for a moment, the long view of that premise. that all seven billion of us currently overwhelming this fragile little planet can trace our lineage back to a small band of humans hanging on by their gnawed-to-the-bone fingernails at the far end of some long-melted glacier. 

in africa. 

that means you, bobbie jill, are royalty. in that you're related to queen latifah.

how do you like you now?

despite this collective brush with greatness, some are still having trouble processing.

you there, waving the "obama, monkey see monkey spend" poster...if the harvard-educated president is a monkey, what does that make you? wait, don't answer. it's a trick question! it makes a monkey out of you, too! only more so!

and you there, stoically holding the "god hates fags" sign. setting aside the presumption that you know what god thinks, if he does hate fags, guess what? he hates you, too! whoops! boy, are you gonna look silly sharing a sauna in the gay section of hell, huh?

and hey, does this sound at all familiar? 

"We need the National Guard to clean out all our cities and round them up...They have no problem slitting your throat and taking your money or selling drugs to your kids or raping your daughters, and they are evil people."  (Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.)

hey, chris! you sound exactly like a historical figure from the last century who also thought it'd be a great idea to "round them up and clean out our cities"! any chance you're related? wait, don't answer. it's a trick question! you actually are related! ain't science grand? 

americans (like every other nationality) are a confused, conflicted people. we don't know who we are or where we come from, let alone where we're heading. but one thing we do know is that we hate the people who are trying to destroy us...and they're everywhere. most of them are muslims. and blacks. and browns. and gays. and democrats. and socialists. and teachers. and firefighters. and cops. you know, real subversives. and they all want to build a religious community center near your house.

that, as we all know, can't be allowed under any circumstances. the ground surrounding our homes is hallowed, and the building of a religious structure anywhere within a 100-mile radius is a grave insult.'s a ymca. ha ha.   

random question from a true american: "is guatemala close to greece? they both begin with G..." no, seriously.

elena kagan. nancy pelosi. harry reid. judge vaughn walker. barack hussein obama. the list goes on and on...they're not like us, you know.

well, except for the fact that they are us. literally.    

it's an african thing, bubba. turns out you would understand after all.


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