May 29, 2007


Name that Tunesmith

On the heels of cash cows like Walk The Line and Ray, Hollywood is ramping up to cover the 1960s to the 1980s with a feverish release of popular music biopics. To celebrate, try and match the icon with the actor who is slated to portray them. There are a few extra of each thrown in to make things fun. Post your guesses in comments here - answers are stashed in this backdated post. Good luck and NO PEEKING!


Jimi Hendrix
James Brown
Bob Dylan
Janis Joplin
Keith Moon
Miles Davis
Freddie Mercury
Ian Curtis (of Joy Division)
Debbie Harry


Johnny Depp
Sacha Baron Cohen
Wesley Snipes
Cate Blanchett
Lenny Kravitz
Mike Meyers
Zooey Deschanel
Don Cheadle

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May 28, 2007


Memorial Day

I had to work today, which pissed me off, and then I felt guilty about such a shallow take on Memorial Day. I was reminded this morning about how grateful I should be for those who gave their lives (or are otherwise gone) in defense of our wonderful nation. And regarding our current situation in Iraq, we should open our minds to what the other side thinks, be it pro-war or not, in order that the pain of loss be more easily reconciled. It was suggested that we devote a small bit of our time today to find out about a deceased American soldier and reflect on their sacrifice. In a way National Public Radio beat me to the punch, except that the fellow they reported on is still alive. My feelings of being pissed off returned, but this time with the force of indignation toward our leaders who have wasted precious lives on their fool's errand. So today I choose to remember the sacrifice of Peter Mohan and his wife Anna, a couple in their 20s who married just before Peter went to Iraq with the Army. He has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and in the report the couple talks about how PTSD almost destroyed their marriage. Perhaps Memorial Day would be better served, at least in part, by remembering those lives that were very different before they went to serve their country.

Listen to The Rest of Their Story at NPR

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May 26, 2007


Keep an eye out for "The Insurer"


From The Progressive last week:

Bush Anoints Himself as the Insurer of Constitutional Government in Emergency

May 18, 2007 By Matthew Rothschild

In a new National Security Presidential Directive, President Bush lays out his plans for dealing with a “catastrophic emergency.”

Under that plan, he entrusts himself with leading the entire federal government, not just the Executive Branch. And he gives himself the responsibility “for ensuring constitutional government.”

He laid this all out in a document entitled National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51" and "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20."

The subject of the document is entitled “National Continuity Policy.”

It defines a “catastrophic emergency” as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.”

The document emphasizes the need to ensure “the continued function of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government,” it states.

But it says flat out: “The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.”

The document designates a National Continuity Coordinator, who would be the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.

Did you know about this? I sure was surprised. I try to be careful where I place my paranoia, but this all sounds so very brown-shirty, so very Berzelius Windrip to me. Ye gods, just what the fuck is a "National Continuity Coordinator" anyway? Perhaps they distribute rolls of Bill of Rights toilet paper equally and fairly, or organize the "The Best of Luigi Pirandello" summer stock series?

Read Rothschild's whole article, and if you think it's just the left that's raising an eyebrow, check out Jerome "Swiftboat" Corsi's commentary, which points out a few more salient facts:

  • The directive issued May 9 makes no attempt to reconcile the powers created there for the National Continuity Coordinator with the National Emergency Act... which allows that the president may declare a national emergency but requires that such proclamation "shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register."

  • Under the National Emergency Act, the president "may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens."
  • But the National Emergency Act sets up Congress as a balance empowered to "modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority," if Congress believes the president has acted inappropriately.
  • NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position. In fact, NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 also makes no reference whatsoever to Congress. The language of the directive appears to negate any requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists, suggesting instead that the powers of the executive order can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.

It's been reported that the White House had no comment. I'm nearly as speechless, at this point still by choice.



May 25, 2007


Friday Five plus two

Here is this week's linky love for some of my favorite, thinking, prolific, hilarious, talented and/or otherwise worth reading bloggers:

And while I generally don't give a crap about blogrolls, as a bonus (this week only) you get two new additions to the MTIH roster:


May 24, 2007


Not Penny's Boat

So I heard ABC's blockbuster series Lost, one of the shows to which I am hopelessly addicted, signed on for another three seasons. I was grieved at the prospect at first, but after last night's season finale I think they've laid out some good highway and will get good mileage out of the new story twists, especially the flash forward with Jack the oxycodone addict back from the island (and trying to convince Kate, who appears to have moved on, that they must go back). Good stuff.

If my count is correct, barring the red shirts* who got blown up on the beach, we lost the two chicks in the Looking Glass station, the parachute chick (name?), Tom the bearded one of the Others and sadly, Charlie. He was one of my favorites (speaking of which - hooray for Hurley!). Oh, and Mikhail, though my theory at this point is that he is unkillable (and I nailed the call in the climactic scene in the Looking Glass).

I had figured on the return of Michael and Walt at some point. Michael remains to be seen, but Walt (or his apparition) showed up, so I was half right.

So, thoughts from any of you other Losties out there?

And all you people with your HBO and your Sopranos - pffft! (just kidding - I'll probably buy all the DVDs next Christmas).

*obscure reference to expendible Star Trek extras.


May 10, 2007


A Remembrance

One of the first solid memories I have of her is when I was about six or seven years old. It was a crisp autumn day and I was out playing by myself when I spotted her waiting at the corner bus stop just a half block from our house. I yelled down to her, asking where she was going. “Downtown to do some shopping,” she answered. “Would you like to come with me?”

Wow, downtown. Now that was a treat I had previously only enjoyed with mom, and seldom at that. I tossed my mitt and ball up on the stoop of our house and went running down to meet her. “I don’t have any money for the bus,” I said, almost out of breath from the jubilant sprint caused by her invitation. I half expected my indigence to be a deal breaker, but was also half sure that big sister could figure out a way to get me on that bus even if it meant stowing me away.

She produced a roll of dimes and opened the end, then counted out six and handed them to me. “That’s three to get there and three to come home,” she said with a matronly tone that was appropriate considering the sixteen years between us. I had scarcely ever been more wealthy in my short life. I don’t recall too many more details of that day except having had lunch at the Woolworth's counter and coming home with a small bag of booty, all financed by my awesomely adult big sister with the rolls of coins.

She had just graduated college that spring. Though the school she went to was a city bus ride away, she lived in the dorms at first. But she moved back home due to financial constraints, which I suppose was not atypical for a lower middle class single white female in the early 1970s. God knows she was on the lookout for a way out as soon as the job market provided the means for her to share a pad with one of her girlfriends in a similar predicament. That or Mr. Right would come a courtin’ yes indeed.

Around that same time she was planting the unseen seeds of rebellion and training a sympathetic ear toward her younger siblings. I remember hearing in later years of her decision to vote for anti-war candidate George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election and how well that did not sit with my parents, card-carrying members of Nixon’s silent majority. In a lot of ways she was swept up in the flow, for our Republican mother and father were the odd ones out in our heavily Democratic city. Though she would not latch on to the radical elements of the day that were ostensibly maturing into the future leadership of the Democratic party, she cultivated a healthy skepticism through observation of the ruts created by the spinning political wheels of the Nixon-Goldwater ilk.

Being the eldest of seven would be a daunting task by itself. Add the separation of 18 years from the alpha to the omega, top it with a zealously religious mother who had, after spending more than five years of her life pregnant, finally succumbed to post-partum depression (undiagnosed in those days) and you have the bona fide recipe for exasperation of a teenage girl in the 1960s. Her Beatles records were smashed and she became default babysitter, often near full time, for the littlest of us. Despite whatever clashes she had with her mother she maintained a loving rapport with us, and when she finally did meet Mr. Right (and I’m talking right as rain here), she no doubt relished the rescue.

Little sis, third from left, with big sis and family (mid-1980s).

They began their own family, and as little aunties and uncles we had a blast with our new nieces. The mother-daughter tension was still prevalent, and made grandma’s presence just a shade less welcome than the rest of us while also affecting my sister’s parenting skills. Still, family gatherings were happy if somewhat jejune. We lived for the visits from and especially our visits to a suburb that seemed light years away to those of us without driver’s licenses. When the license finally did come, I remember it was a great treat for a request for chauffeur duty to be granted.

To some degree in our family each consecutive sibling’s coming of age was accompanied by a corresponding increase in the level of rebellion. By the time my younger sister and I were entering adolescence, our parents were at wit’s end from the cumulative effect of all their children’s various levels of apostasy. Some who will remain nameless were looked upon suspiciously as “The Golden Child,” the Jacob to another’s Esau. Fortunately such dysfunction never led to any unsavory wielding of pottage over another – we were just checking the width of the guardrails on our way to adulthood. But that wearing down of the parental units put my eldest sister in the position of surrogate counselor. Her wisdom was often helpful but never totally pure, as her lens was smudged with the grime of her relationship with our mother. Still it was comforting to have that sympathetic ear to contrast professional family counseling sessions with mom, who stuck tar to her heels on the position that we just didn’t want to do WJWD.

An example of the aforementioned rapport that will forever be in the family oral, and aw hell now written, history is the time of my first arrest (yes first, shut up). I was away at college, so what do you suppose the offense could have been? DUI? No. Drugs? Perhaps later. Public intoxication? Well, I was, but that was not what the cop who put his burly hand on my shoulder as I was turning from the wall and closing my zipper booked me for. That’s right, I got busted for public urination. Seems the owner of the garage that I and twelve other guys were pissing on was himself pissed at having to live adjacent to a popular fraternity house with just two toilets. I mean the joint was jumpin’ – what’s a drunk nineteen-year-old with a maxed out bladder to do? The fine wasn’t a whole lot, but more than your average indigent college kid could scrape up for cigarette money. And I couldn’t have the parents knowing about this, no sir. Hello sis? Heppabrutha out, eh? She got a good laugh out of it over the phone, one which no doubt bubbled up again as she closed up the package containing a check to cover the legal expenses. That’s right, a package, which I also thought strange as I picked it up the following week from the front desk at the dorm. I thought I heard her giggling as I opened it to find the check inserted inside a disposable diaper.

While Dad supervises Jan helps me get it just right on my wedding day (1993).

Little sis had her share of troubles, too, and our big sis was a mediary and often outright fortification against the mom brigade. Mom wasn’t totally wrong. She saw her daughter making some unwise choices and was jaw-set to right the wrongs. She grew up during the Great Depression, and had her last baby when she was nearly 41, so along with the tumult of change that was 1970s America there was created a generation gap theretofore unseen. Big sis’s house was frequently a refuge for the baby, and I’m thankful for that.

The years have combined and melted into a dream like I suppose they do for most people, and in our now solid adulthood we have substantial geographic distance separating most of us. As a result of the family diaspora, the emotional distance has increased and lives get lived with only brief reports to fill the spaces. I know one report that consistently impresses in me the size of my sister’s heart is the enormous number of people she knew and the number of those people who have nice things to say about her. Our family reunions are not frequent enough, but at least the fond hearts have cause to celebrate the long absences from one another. This next one will be minus one heart – an unfillable space that over time will hopefully seem less obtrusive if no less poignant.



May 03, 2007


Parental horror

I can't think of another situation that messes with my emotions more than accidental parental neglect. Beyond the absolute horror of the ordeal I think the first reaction of most people to stories like this is utter contempt for the carelessness of a parent that makes such a fatal mistake. It boggles the mind to imagine how an infant could be left alone somewhere, much less that it was inside an automobile on a warm spring day and that it was for seven hours and that the father ignored the fancy motion alarm with which his car is equipped. It also boggles the mind that 29 American children died last year under similar circumstances. Consideration that incidents like these have been on the rise since the advent of front passenger airbags (necessitating rear seat child safety carriers) does little to clarify the senselessness.

The flipside is sympathy for the family. I can't comprehend what they are dealing with right now in the swirling mass of guilt, sorrow and public outrage, not to mention the criminal charges that will likely break this already broken family. Coping with the death of one's child would seem to be the ultimate despair, but imagine topping that with the fact that it was your fault and that it was very, very avoidable.

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May 02, 2007


ANSWERS to Name That Tunesmith

Jimi Hendrix - NOT Lenny Kravitz (he opted out)

James Brown - No lead named yet, but Spike Lee will direct

Bob Dylan - Cate Blanchett (yes, she will be the 60s era Bob)

Janis Joplin - Zooey Deschanel (Rene Zellweger was in the running)

Keith Moon - Mike Meyers (I'm not sure if he's manic enough)

Miles Davis - Don Cheadle (Wesley Snipes also ran)

Freddie Mercury - Sacha Baron Cohen (if he likes script - J. Depp opted out)

Ian Curtis (of Joy Division) - No lead named yet, Anton Corbijn directs

Debbie Harry - Sandra Bernhardt (JUST KIDDING!)

May 01, 2007


The Monthly Max

Can y'all handle a once-a-month photoblog? Why, sure you can.



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