April 30, 2007
A conservative pundit's column on Sunday was decrying the Democrats' glee over Bush and Iraq's falling approval ratings. I think that long ago "rising disapproval ratings" became the more accurate nomenclature, but what's a little spin among friends in the choir at the First Church of Theohypocrisy? Anyway, the pundit (read gasbag) says, "The economy is in good shape, and despite all the predictions of disaster ahead, President Bush is certainly entitled to the lion's share of the credit."
I'm no expert (though I play one frequently among the unsuspecting), but it seems to me that a bad place to be politically on the economy is to have a bunch of numbers ostensibly saying that it's raining but the bulk of the public feeling like the government is pissing in its ear. Another pundit continued the conservative's three-card monty game by saying that with inflation adjustments, gas prices aren't higher compared to this year and that year. He didn't go into detail on how middle class wages have stagnated or the cost of living is out of whack with this year and that year.
Specifically, higher gas prices are chipping away ferociously on the income of the working poor and middle class. I can say they're definitely harsh on me and the S.O., as we drive a combined 122 miles round trip per day for work. Add to that insurance premiums of all stripes going up, and a 1980s-level reimbursement from my company for on-the-job mileage ("just deduct the remainder on your taxes" the higher-ups say, which I'll be sure to do once my salary gets me to the level where itemizing outshines the standard deduction). It adds up and we're jacked up, with a big bummer in being stuck at home a lot now because it's too expensive to drive to the mountains or other places we like to go.
That said, I'm relieved to know that we are doing our part in fighting the good fight for Middle East stability, and hence the reliability of our fossil fuelture.
April 26, 2007
Help me, Yoshimi
The spambots are back at MTIH in all their blue link glory. I'm curious - is there any danger of leaving these on the blog? If so, I can re-activate the Blogger word verification, pain in the ass that it is. The bots always place their "comments" on some post from several months ago, so it's not really that annoying. Besides, they're sometimes entertaining. Maybe I should create a cybertwin to deal with them.
A recent sample:
Talk about your nonsequiters (which I heard you can get on eBay, BTW).
Where did you find it? Interesting read. (<-- love the personal message touch)
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April 24, 2007
April 20, 2007
Five little questions
Putting down my own pen and notepad for a spell, I've summoned Jeff Kos to interview my fascinating self. He's come up with five psyche-probing questions to try and reveal the real O'Tim. Let's see how he does:
1. If you could commit one act of vandalism without any fear of repercussion, what would it be?
I suppose since I regard vandalism as the most immature form of self-expression, I'd like to turn the diving pool at the Olympics into lemon Jell-O with Baby Ruths in it.
2. What is your favorite holiday, and why?
Labor Day, because of the giddy irony of not working that day and because I can tack on a vacation day or two for a splendid long weekend of camping at any number of awesome outdoor music festivals and because it signals the end of the hot-ass summer although really in the south that won't be until October.
Or World Sauntering Day (June 19).
3. What is the single most profound discovery having a child helped you make?
It has made me aware of the humongous potential capacity of my heart and soul to love and care for another human being, and it has confirmed beyond any shadow of a doubt that we come from an intelligent spark that thought it would be cool to have us around.
4. What annoying word/phrase/expression do you use that you wished you didn't?
"Okie-dokie" and "Seriously," of which the latter is the fault of watching Grey's Anatomy too much.
5. What kid did you hate in elementary school?
Holden Cox. Seriously. No, Just Kidding - I didn't hate Holden until high school. But that is his name. And his middle name is James, which by ending with 's' makes the whole a sort of perfect storm of bad names to give your child. He was always so proud to have supposedly been named after Holden Caulfield. I never figured out why someone would be proud of being named after a misanthropic hypocrite, at least without displaying some of the streak of cynical genius with which Salinger imbued his character. We were best friends in elementary school into junior high. I don't know, maybe I did hate him.
This is part of an experiment that also has PJ, UV Paula, Joe the Troll, Looney, Hippie Don, Ole Blue the Heretic and Jodie in its grips.
Interested in keeping the flow going? Here are the rules:
Leave a comment saying something like, "Interview Me, O Curious One."
I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
Update your blog with the answers to my questions, and let me know that you answered.
If you don't have a blog, but would still like to play, I can send you the questions, and you can answer 'em on my comments page.
You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else
in the same post. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will
ask them five questions, I mean three. No five! Aahhhhhhh.
April 18, 2007
Hip hip hooray for the NRA
The National Rifle Association is resembling more and more Glenn Close’s bunny-boiling character in Fatal Attraction. The bitch just won’t stay dead. The NRA obviously doesn’t hesitate to bully legislators who resist its agenda. As pretty much the heavyweight of special interest groups, and going against them is political suicide at both the state and national level. Check it out:
Georgia gun bill shows reach of Virginia shooting, NRA
The Associated Press
ATLANTA - Tempers were flaring as roughly a dozen Republican lawmakers huddled near the back of the Georgia state Senate contemplating the end of an all-day session that had stretched late into the night.
At issue was a motion to cancel a vote on legislation that would have given more freedoms to gun owners. The testy exchange late Tuesday was an example of the extent to which Monday's gun rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech had changed the gun control debate across the nation.
The measure would have allowed motorists who are otherwise legally permitted to own guns to store a weapon anywhere in their vehicles instead of leaving them in plain sight or in a front-seat compartment, as current law requires.
It also would have required employers to allow their workers to keep firearms in their cars while at work.
Read the whole article
I think this may finally be the straw that broke the camel’s back with regard to the NRA’s inexplicable hold on the politics of this country, and their desperation on this bill shows that they know it. I’m proud of the generally pro-gun Republicans for standing up to them on this, and proud they forced a silence on the issue while the dust settles in Blacksburg. Others such as NRA hoop-jumper (and Democrat, no less) J.B. Powell are too worried about watching out for special interests and getting elected again. What a tool - Georgia senate District 23 must be proud to have such a lapdog representing them.
It seems the NRA was more concerned with their own political agenda than with taking a moment to respect those who died in Virginia, proving that all they are about is power and controlling our legislators and blackmailing them with “F” grades in their newsletter. It probably wouldn’t be such a bad organization if the majority of its leadership wasn’t clueless gun fetishists who don’t respect any other right that falls outside the second amendment. Who in their correct mind would demand the legislature address this bill at such a politically stupid time? IF I owned a gun, I’d never belong to an organization that has less common sense than politicians. Their full court press on the heels of the VA Tech shooting is reprehensible - defending themselves and turning this tragedy into a reason why every American should be allowed to walk the streets with a gun. I’m very uncomfortable with the idea of a bunch of 18 to 24-year-olds packing heat. In the recent New Jersey incident where the FBI agent was killed, it was found that he was killed by one of his fellow agents. If these highly trained officers of the law make mistakes and shoot their own people, how much more often will it happen if every untrained yokel you meet on the street is armed?
April 16, 2007
Tagged for rage
On the surface one might presume that my musical tastes run screaming from anything resembling “rage.” In general I like to listen to and play mellow acoustic guitar stuff –Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Van Morrison, John Prine. But, thanks to The Fez Monkey (via the loverly Lucy) I’m the tagee/victim of a call for 20 songs that I’d put up for play on rage webradio, and it’s made me think – yeah, there’s some rage in my collection. So here’s my 20 - there’s a bit of the punk mixed in, but other than a small folder of MP3s on my computer, when I’m in the mood for punk I just grab the Repo Man soundtrack (not a bad song on that puppy). Regarding rage, rage can piss off if they think my 20 will be something they’d wanna play.
The Clash – The Guns of Brixton. The great thing about The Clash is that they were musicians, a rare thing in the punk world. The bad thing is that Fez hogged three of their songs for his list, which I’m not gonna do here.
Lemonheads – Stove. From their obscure early album Lovey, on which there is hardly a bad tune. Technically, the rage song on this album would be “Ballarat.”
Black Flag – TV Party
Dead Kennedys – Kill The Poor. Run, Jello, run.
Matthew Sweet – Knowing People. A great hard-driving rock song with some of the most in-your-face lyrics I’ve heard - the kind that make you say, “Gee, I’m glad I’m not THAT guy.”
Sex Pistols – My Way. Who better to cover this Sinatra classic?
Fear – Let’s Have A War. Hey, we need the space.
Blues Traveller – Whoops.
“But the possibility exists no matter how scary it may seem
That paradise was once the world and it wasn't just a dream
The earth was our heaven and we didn't know there were rules for us to break
And maybe now we'll find out too late what a clever hell we can make.”
Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized
Butthole Surfers – Pepper. This is just one of the coolest fucking songs ever.
Black Grape - In The Name Of The Father. Shaun Ryder’s a thug. And he can write some catchy shit. Alternate – “Shake Your Money Maker.”
The Charlatans UK - Can't Get Out of Bed. Another Madchester fave of mine.
The Plugz - Hombre Secreto. A classic.
The Clash – Police & Thieves. Hey, I said I wasn’t gonna do three, OK? This song utilizes the band’s talent for a dark, funky Caribbean beat.
Elvis Costello – Radio, Radio. I’m with Fez on EC, he’s punk at heart.
The Who – Young Man Blues. Another hat tip to Fez for picking Tha’Ooh. Of course this is a Mose Alison original, but in playing it live the group turned it inside out and made it their own song. One of classic rock’s greatest jams IMHO.
The Pixies – Where Is My Mind? The perfect song for the Fight Club soundtrack.
Violent Femmes – Add It Up. I’ve been a fan of these fellow midwesterners since seeing them in college decades ago. Their simplicity of a guitar, stand-up bass and a snare drum mixed with deep lyrics and high energy made them a singularly fresh resurrection of a nearly comatose punk scene in the mid-80s. They also proved that their honky-tonk/gospel tinge wasn’t just schtick.
Pearl Jam - Alive
Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’? - Because it’s the most kick-ass Stones song ever. No, you’re wrong, it’s Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’?
April 12, 2007
So it goes
What five dead people would you want to have as dinner guests? The whole of that discussion is for another day, but with convergent emotions I can now say with confidence that Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. has made the list.
Vonnegut is one of those writers that writers like me (fanciful dreamers, I surmise) read and think, “Oh great genie in the bottle, give me this!” For a hippie wannabe born about 10 years too late, Slaughterhouse Five continued the subversive assault that my youthful skepticism, pessimism and cynicism had brought feebly against the Establishment. The man had what I would (admittedly, oxymoronically) call an even-tempered rage. Combined with a switchblade wit, he penned what are undoubtedly some of the most excellent novels of the late twentieth century (Modern Library ranks S5 18th on its list of the hundred best novels of 20th-century American literature). But in the midst of his irreverent skewering of hypocrites, he maintained a friendliness in his writing, expressing his own nuanced humanist views through sympathetic characters, as with two of my favorites, Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater.
I have more Vonnegut to read, that is certain. And I regret not having taken the opportunity to attend a lecture he gave within driving distance years ago. His craft was the second major influence in my life. The first puts me in total agreement with the cosmic view he expressed as his epitaph. “The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.”
Congratulations old man, you have become unstuck in time. You had a good run even if, as with countless others, the finish line seemed to come up a little too quick. Oh, and set a place for me, if you please, right next to our compadre Mr. Twain.
“If you really want to disappoint your parents, and don't have the nerve to be gay, go into the arts.”
“The good Earth, we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy.”
“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”
“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.”
“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
“Life happens too fast for you ever to think about it. If you could just persuade people of this, but they insist on amassing information.”
“The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”
“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”
“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”
April 10, 2007
April 07, 2007
Fairly accurate, I'd say:
You Are Samuel Adams
You're fairly easy to please when it comes to beer - as long as it's not too cheap.
You tend to change favorite beers frequently, and you're the type most likely to take a "beers of the world" tour.
When you get drunk, you're fearless. You lose all your inhibitions.
You're just as likely to party with a group of strangers as you are to wake up in a very foreign place.
And on that note, I am quite excited about Boston Beer Company's decision to once again brew Samuel Adams Honey Porter, one of my favorites that for some still unexplained reason they discontinued a few years back. Bearing witness to their fine decision to reintroduce it is the fact that HP took top honors in Boston Beer's Beer Lover's Choice contest, which means HP is now available in their Samuel Adams Brewmasters Collection, a twelve-pack of six varieties available year-round. I have heard rumor of HP returning to full six-pack production sometime this year, which is great because two of these delights out of twelve just isn't fair.
Don't get me wrong - I love just about every Sam Adams variety, but my Honey Porter deserves her own slot in the fridge case. She's an English-style porter beer - deepest opaque brown with a large roasted malt character and a very smooth, rounded finish. The beer is brewed with traditional English Ale hops such as English Goldings, which give it a spicy flavor. Scottish heather honey is also used in the brew to balance the spice. Honey Porter won a gold medal from the 2003 Australian International Beer Awards and a gold medal at the Monde Selection in 2002.
Honey Porter joins five other Samuel Adams beers in the Brewmasters Collection - Boston Lager, a full-bodied brew containing Noble hops from Bavaria; Boston Ale, a traditional stock ale with citrus aromas and full-bodied flavor; Scotch Ale, a beer brewed with peat-smoked malt, which is used in Scotch to give it the smoky flavor; Samuel Adams Black Lager, a style of traditional beer from Eastern Germany; and Samuel Adams Brown Ale, the 2005 winner of the Beer Lover's Choice contest.
Which art in barrels
Hallowed be thy drink
I will be drunk, At home as it is in pubs
Give us this day our foamy head
And forgive us our spillages, As we forgive those who spill against us
And lead us not to incarceration, But deliver us from hangovers
For thine is The beer, The bitter, The lager
Forever and ever
April 03, 2007
Southland In The Springtime
Even though autumn is my very favorite season and I can't for the life of me figure out the attraction of boiled peanuts, it's a damn fine time to be alive down h'ayhr.
In Georgia nights are softer than a whisper
Beneath a quilt somebody's mother made by hand
With the farmland like a tapestry passed down through generations
And the peach trees stitched across the land
There'll be cider up near Helen off the roadside
And boiled peanuts in a bag to warm your fingers
And the smoke from the chimneys meets its maker in the sky
With a song that winter wrote whose melody lingers
And there's something 'bout the southland in the springtime
Where the waters flow with confidence and reason
Though I miss her when I'm gone
It won't ever be too long
Till I'm home again to spend my favorite season
When God made me born a Yankee he was teasin'
There's no place like home and none more pleasin'
Than the southland in the springtime