Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Back to Work

I've been working this week... and really working. Half-way decent office job, but not an office monkey job. It isn't feast-or-famine, it's mostly feast... which is pretty fine. Not bad money... and I don't have to pay for parking. However, I barely have time to read many columns, articles, stories, and blog entries. (God forbid, there is actual work to do! lol!) Of course, that's not bad... I tend to prefer to work when I'm getting paid.

Now, if I could only get this other offer straightened out soon.

And fix the window screen broken by the effing punkass bastard who broke into my home.

And then fix the effing punkass bastard who broke into my home. (Probably some snotty DNC kid with flexible ethics... but I repeat myself.)

And then get my printed connected.

And then get my cords untangled.

And then get my CDs all put away.

And then get the poker table cleaned off.

And then play poker.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Back in Town

I just got some of the best personal news possible... my good friends Hip J. and The Doll return home next month. Not just a visit, they are moving home to Minneapolis.

He's been gone for almost three years, I think. It's been odd just talking to him on the phone. We're good friends, but we rarely talked over the phone... it just didn't seem right. Plus, we're probably two of a kind when it comes to expressing too much. He and I have had many real conversations, but having to rely on phone conversations just didn't do it. We didn't want to talk all the time and we're both a little busy.

We're both part of a group of friends who we might as well call D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers... in fact, our D'Artagnan named us. He's in his early 70s and he claims he's the aged youth in our midst. The truth is he could kick all three of our asses from here into next week. I can't wait to get the four of us together for poker, drinks at the Monte Carlo, an evening dinner, an old film, or just talking into the evening at D'Artagnan's house.

All in all, this has been a good year!

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Man to Man

Last night I put the boy to bed on my own. I haven’t needed to for some time, so he was out of practice… or, more accurately, I was out of practice. The wife enjoyed the story.

After giving him a well earned, and needed bath, he wanted to goof around quite a bit. Before the bath I promised him some milk once he was clean and dressed for bed. He ran out of his room to the living room couch (where he often crashes into the cushions) and said, “Milk please, Daddy.”

With that kind of politeness I snapped to it.
“That’s right! I promised you milk, so I’ll go get you a little bit of milk.”
He instantly entered whinification.
“Noooo! Don’t want a little milk. Want a lot of milk.”
Must. Resist. Laugh. Urge.

After some disagreements (“Leave my dinner plate on table, Daddy,” in spite of the fact that dinner ended some two hours prior), his sudden desire to wear his straw cowboy hat (or as he calls it, his cow hat), and frequent delays (activating the sounds and songs of the Fisher Price pirate ship as well as calling, “Run out the guns!” when he plays with the cannon) I eventually get him medicine, read him a couple of stories, let him turn out the lights, say prayers, tuck him in, and sing a little song. Done and done. Downstairs for me… that set of season five Columbo DVDs won’t just watch themselves.

Within five minutes I hear something like, “Bump-bump-bang! Bump. Bump. Crash!” No crying, whining, screaming, or yelling… all the same I rush upstairs. I can see light from underneath his bedroom door. Quietly and quickly, I open the door… where I see him sitting up against Reagan the Dragon and his foam mini-couch playing with toys. Just as quickly, he suddenly looks up at me and says,
“What was that noise, Daddy?”
I know what made the noise. I know he knows what made the noise. He might know that I know what made the noise. He might even know that I know he knows what made the noise.

Cute little shit trying to pull a fast one on Dad.

I put him back to bed and turn out the lights… but much good that does. Within ten minutes I hear the unmistakable sounds of his mighty thunder feet as he runs about his room. It never really stops, so after about fifteen minutes I go upstairs to put an end to his goofing… a few toy cars and trucks (including a tiny Lightning McQueen), a small barrel of wood blocks, and his messy bed. He doesn’t complain when I put his toys and things away… as a matter of fact, I even get him to quickly agree to brushing his teeth. He resists a little, but essentially plays along.

I confirm with him, “What do you do after this story?” He looks me square in the eye and says, “Go to bed”. That’s right, pally… and it is about effing time.

Sure enough, once we finish a story from a book of Thomas the Tank Engine he wants to hear another story he asked for much earlier in the evening. Fine. We did talk about it earlier, but never got to it.

“Now, what do you do after The Crack in the Track?” (Yet another story with Thomas.) Again, he looks straight into my eyes and lies like a pro, “Go to bed”.

We finish the tiny book, but before I can pick him up he looks over to his book shelf, points and says,
“Look at all those books over there.”
You’re putting me on, Stinker. Honest to Pete, he keeps me laughing… but I can’t let him know that!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Breaking and Entering: Better Luck Next Time, Jackass

Now, I might be wrong about this, but it looks distinctly like someone broke into my house today.
  • Knocked over grill (as if someone climbed on it)
  • Patio chair placed underneath kitchen window
  • Cut/Riped kitchen window screen
  • Baby gate partially pushed out of door frame (as if someone couldn't open it)
  • Unlocked side door
If ever I was glad my house was a mess it is now.

All of this after I make a post taunting Islamic-fascist terrorist assholes. Perhaps next time this stunod might find a couple of barrels... and I don't mean beer.
Rifleman Sergeant Patrick Harper... three rounds a minute, sir! (Hopefully, with his Noch's volly gun.)

Reform and Read! Irshad Manji Calls for Islamic Action

Heard this Muslim woman speak on Laura Ingraham's show this morning... I must have heard her before. She calls for the Islamic world (specifically, those who would tarnish the name of Muslims with vicious threats and violent attacks) to use more independent thinking (ijtihad) and to reform.

Irshad Manji blogs at the Huffington Post,
She has her own site called Muslim Refusenik,
You can find various entries for her via Google, and
Her book, The Trouble With Islam Today, is available at Amazon.

One reviewer (Bill in New York) notes the apparent campaign against her and her book:

Thirty reviews are positive--3 to five stars--and 14 (nearly 50%) are by people who have reviewed for Amazon before. Only 7 (less than 25%) are anonymous, signed "A Reader"). In general, the reviewers discuss the merits of the .

Twenty-two reviews are hostile--almost all only 1 star--and only 5 (about 23%) are by previous Amazon reviewers. (One claims a children's game caused repeated vomiting by her child; reviews a $2.79 screwdriver; and attacks a book she admits not having read. In short, she doesn't review--she rants.) Nine (about 40%) are anonymous. Many are merely ad hominem attacks on the author, who is described as dishonest, ignorant, money-hungry, publicity-seeking (even fatwa-seeking) and fostering a "craze for Islamophobia." One calls Manji "simply not a Muslim" because of her "inability to read Arabic, absence from active Mulim worship, embrace of the West and its secular values, not to mention her identity as a Lesbian feminist."

Hey, I'm willing to look at her crookedly because she's had her picture taken with Eve Ensler, but defeating Islamo-fascism is probably going to create strange bedfellows.

Irshad posted this last week on 9/11/06:
Since September 11, 2001, many around the world have been asking: Where are the Muslim moderates? Then, when I went public with my book, they asked: Are you alone?

No, I’m not alone. I get more letters of love from fellow Muslims than I do death threats. Still, the world needs to know that Muslim reformists are willing to speak our minds — out loud.
After this she quotes from a Muslim woman in Boston who adapted the Serenity prayer for Muslims.

She also includes a petition to stand against the New Totalitarianism (and, of course, the death threats)... a few Minnesotans have signed, too.

Most importantly, at least regarding recent events, Irshad mentioned the Pope's speech.
As a faithful Muslim, I do not believe the pope should have apologized. I've read what’s been described as his inflammatory speech. Actually, he called for dialogue with the Muslim world. To ignore that larger context and to focus on a mere few words of the speech is like reducing the Koran, Islam's holy book, to its most bloodthirsty passages. We Muslims hate it when people do that. The hypocrisy of doing this to the pope stinks to high heaven.

Yet some Muslims have gone further. In the West Bank, churches have been firebombed. During a big protest in London, placards proclaimed "Islam will take Rome." In Somalia, a Catholic nun was murdered shortly after a Muslim cleric urged violence against the Vatican.

Coincidence? I think not.

And thinking is what the Quran encourages. It asks Muslims to reflect far more than to retaliate. Even if someone mocks your religion, the Koran says, walk away. Later, engage in dialogue. Wasn't that the pope's point?

We Muslims should remember that God told the Prophet Muhammad to "read." My advice to fellow Muslims: Read the pope's speech — in its entirety — and you'll see that his message of reason, reconciliation, and conversation would make him a better Muslim than most of us.

Now if only I could make him a feminist ...
Like I said, there are a few things I'm going to have to wrinkle my nose about... but she clearly is our kind of gal. And my kind of Muslim.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Doom! Al-Qaida says Christians, West Doomed

Hey, al-Qaida… come try to convert me!
…Muslims would be victorious… "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. … We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."
(Emphasis mine.)

Now go get your effing Islamic shine box.
(الآن ذهبت يحصل [شينبوإكس] ك [فوكينغ])

This Is London: The Pope Must Die, Says Muslim Iran Leader Says Pope Remarks Part of US-Israeli Conspiracy

My Way News: Vatican Tries to Calm Pope Row as Militants Vow War

Reuters: Italian Nun Slain in Somalia, Pope Link Speculation

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wrong Number Again?

Who in the flamming hootie-hoo keeps calling me... around 11:00 pm central? According to the number that came through:

Roadway Communications Inc
626 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90017-3209
Phone: (213) 629-2696
Business Types: Telecommunications Telephone Equipment Services & Systems

Let's take a little bird's eye view.

Whoever it was didn't immediately say anything, and when the person did it wasn't in English. The connection wasn't good either. The person might have said something in Spanish, however it might have been Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, orHotethk Indian.

The kid's sleeping, dumbass. Stop calling.

Monday, September 11, 2006


NRO includes James Lileks in its collection of writings about the terrorist attack.
Half a decade later the changes seem small, and perhaps that’s a blessing. If 9/11 had been followed by 10/17, 11/02, 12/24, the Smallpox Epidemic of ’02, the EMP blackouts of ’03, and so much promiscuous anthrax distribution that mailmen tottered around in Hazmat suits on the hottest day of July, America would look quite different. But the other shoe didn’t drop — or rather, Richard Reid was KO’d before he could light it — and consequently we don’t look at the paper for news about the latest attack. We look at the ads in the paper for news about plasma-TV sales.

If 9/11 had really changed us, there’d be a 150-story building on the site of the World Trade Center today. It would have a classical memorial in the plaza with allegorical figures representing Sorrow and Resolve, and a fountain watched over by stern stone eagles. Instead there’s a pit, and arguments over the usual muted dolorous abstraction approved by the National Association of Grief Counselors. The Empire State Building took 18 months to build. During the Depression. We could do that again, but we don’t. And we don’t seem interested in asking why.

The good news? We returned to our norm: cheerful industrious self-directed Americans who think in terms of fiscal quarters, not ancient grievances, and trust in Coke and Mickey to spread our message of tolerance and prosperity. The bad news? Same as the good. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

Lileks also has a few comments (as well as a video clip) in today's Bleat.
I’ll tell you this: if I ran Time magazine, I wouldn’t have run a cover story titled “What We’ve Lost.”

What We’ve Done, perhaps. Who We Are. Why We Fight. What They Want. But “What We’ve Lost”?

I expected many things five years ago, but an epitaph in the face of survival wasn’t among them. Of course, when you recall the post 9 /11 cover "Why They Hate Us," you do have a nice set of bookends. Forgive me if I've little time to reread the tomes bracketed between those sentiments. Today is what it is. Tomorrow, however, requires our attention.

Last week he wrote an interesting alternative history for Newhouse... the columns that often become his Screed after a few days. Now, a few days later, he features the piece at his Screedblog.

Hell, let's cut to the chase: James Lileks' piece, probably inspired by John Lennon and Star Trek's mirror universe... and, of course, the genius that is John Kerry, Al Gore, and any number of folks from Kos and DU.
Imagine if America had taken a bellicose path after the tragedy of 9/11. Imagine if the red mist of madness had descended, and the US had invaded two sovereign states to impose “democracy” on unready people best left to their own traditions. Imagine if the government had built military bases near Iran, forcing the popular secular reformers to embark on a crash program to build nukes. (They’d just replaced “Death to America” with “Health to America, and A Nice Fig Torte, Too” as the national slogan. Now this!) Imagine if we had given in to paranoia and suspicion, and intercepted the conversations of suspected “terrorists” without asking the permission of the New York Times editorial board. How many attacks would we have suffered?

We have no time to ask such questions, of course; we’ve other pressing matters. There is still the war in Sudan, where US troops have been engaged in a peacekeeping mission for the last three years at the cost of several thousand lives. President Kerry vows to stay until the nation is stable, and he is correct. As a wise man once said: we will pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Unless the price is too high, the burden too great, the hardship too hard, the friend acts disproportionately, and the foe fights back. In which case, we need a timetable.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Don't Be Jewish on Air Canada

Passengers on an Air Canada Jazz flight don’t want other passengers to be Hasidic Jews. Sort of.
Some fellow passengers are questioning why an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying.
Probably praying that no terrorists were going to take over the plane... or steal his kosher meal.
"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.

"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.
Maybe he figured if he did the plane wouldn't lurch back and forth.
The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.
Huh? No one was bothered, yet he apparently made others nervous. That's the kind of response you get from a wife. You ask, "Honey, do you mind if I play poker with the guys tonight?" She responds with a, "No," that clearly means she's pissed off.
Jewish leaders in Montreal criticized the move as insensitive, saying the flight attendants should have explained to the other passengers that the man was simply praying and doing no harm.

Hasidic Rabbi Ronny Fine said he often prays on airplanes, but typically only gets curious stares.

"If it's something that you're praying in your own seat and not taking over the whole plane, I don't think it should be a problem," said Fine.
Rabbi Fine... you've got a cheeky sense of humor.

These folks were probably a bunch of Godless Commies bitching about a separation of church and business class.

Clearly, one place that folks ought to pray is on an airplane. Take folks off the plane for talking to me while I'm trying to read or sleep.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dino and Memories are Made of This

What more could I ask for? If the guy behind Fat Tony is behind this I'm inclined to relax and look forward to the biography.

Apparently, the script is scheduled to be finished by Christmas (which is the anniversary of his death), and production will start next year.

It is about time for Dean to get his due from our modern audience... perhaps this will help.

One, Two, and Three: Coppola's Godfather

Watching The Sopranos you might notice that some of the Soprano crew refer to life and work in relation to various mobster movies, specifically Godfather I, II, and III and Goodfellas. (This is funny for a few reasons including the fact that the actors who play Uncle Junior, Doctor Melfi, Christopher, Paulie “Walnuts”, Big Pussy, and quite a few others turn up in those films.)

When they refer to the Godfather films they sometimes refer to them as One, Two, or Three. Apparently they talk about them often enough that the number of the series is enough to clue in the rest of the guys.

Recently, I watched Goodfellas with my father-in-law… who had never seen it before. I mentioned A Bronx Tale to my father-in-law, too. Earlier this year I watched Casino (for the second time). A little earlier I watched some scenes from Two. Now, someone quotes One to me in a comm-box at Anti-Strib. What’s more he misquoted the line.

Now what? Now I’m thinking of The Godfather.

Folks often say that Three was terrible. However, that’s really not the case. The film itself is quite good, especially as an epilogue to One and Two. A good friend of mine often says the excesses of Three (namely the helicopter attack) make the film look ridiculous, while many folks criticize Sophia Coppola’s performance. Those points are not to be taken lightly. However, the folks at Paramount wanted more guns, more gangsters, more crime, more of the revenge and trouble that we all ate up in One and Two. Coppola didn’t want to re-do stuff that was already great… to compete with a classic (not to mention two classics) on those terms is a recipe for failure. However, to compete with a classic (or two) in a different manner gives you a chance.

Coppola wanted to call the movie The Death of Michael Corleone, not The Godfather, Part III. He wanted to show the full tragedy that was Michael’s life. I suppose the helicopter attack scene was to appease Paramount… bigger than anything in any of the great scenes in the previous films. Evocative of both Sonny’s death and of the attack on Michael’s family at his home in Nevada. Effing huge! For better or worse. I think some of that scene doesn’t fit the tone of the rest of the film, however it certainly fits the grand style that all of Three has from beginning to end. The film was effing huge, however, it didn’t need to be. Coppola probably gave in to Paramount in that respect. It makes the film less than it should be.

Now, the Godfather series consistently refers to religious ceremonies to show the conflicting parts of Michael’s life, and his father’s life. A wedding, baptism, first communion… and they all help focus the film. In Three we have Michael’s knighting at the Church (and the family reunion which follows) and Michael’s confession. (To a certain extent the opera at the end is a ceremony, too.) The confession is one of the greatest scenes in the series. Simply shot, it calls back to Two, the dialogue speaks for itself, the performances work very well, and it marks a turning point for Michael. From here on he knows he can not change. He is the man he made himself to be… he delayed redemption so long it lays beyond his reach.

He becomes doubly-damned at the end… everything he did for his family (extended and immediate) leaves him empty. He killed his sister’s husband (who deserved it), he killed his brother, he lost his wife, she aborted their third child because of his life, his sister became more like him, and his daughter was murdered… all because of him.

Damn, this isn’t enough. I’m going to need to revisit this subject.

How did you get this number? I’m not sure how you got my name.

All I did was look up a department and called (and e-mailed) with a question. I didn’t expect to get it solved, but I figured someone in the actual department could send me in the right direction.

Here’s the story. Two cardboard boxes (long and wide enough to hold 8.5” by 11” paper, with one about 9” tall and the other about 12” tall) with enough pin-feed (landscape) paper to print up a phone book. Unfortunately, the delivery address didn’t include a name (just a department, mail-stop number, and address)… inside offered no note, invoice, or print order request. Nothing. When I asked the folks in the department who it should go to they looked at me as if I delivered them a shrunken head or a 16-ton weight.

What to do? Simple, contact the folks at the address of origin. That included the department name (a wonderful little euphemistic name including the word Services), mail-stop number, and address. I looked up the department on the company intranet site and found one name (among ten or so) with a phone number at the address on the label. Progress!

He’s out. His voice mail message said he’s out of the office until… Tuesday September 5th?!?!?! It was the 5th. Oh, well… I left him a message anyway, and then I e-mailed him the information. Luckily, he left a name of a guy to contact while he was out. So, I e-mail and call Guy #2. After a while, I follow-up by sending another e-mail to Guy #2.

This morning I receive two e-mails and a voice mail. Guy #1 says I didn’t leave much information (yeah, Columbo, I know that… I mention that there isn’t much to go on in the first place and that I’d be glad to get additional information at your request since you know your department’s procedures better than I do). After that he uses those ever-so-friendly-and-attentive-words: “How did you get this number?” and “I’m not sure how you got my name.”

No, he wasn’t hostile, but he clearly wasn’t a guy well versed in customer service. Maybe he was surprised… as surprised as I was to receive these two boxes of nonsense.

The e-mail from Guy #2 was even better. It included the words, “Is there something on them that would lead you to believe Art, Design, & Print is involved somehow?” No, but like I said in the message I just wanted to check this print order. Sure, I should have said, “What information does Mega-Conglomerate Print and Additional-Services Services Department need to check this?” as opposed to “What information do you need to check this?” so that’s a double-dumbass on me. Sometimes communication via e-mail is not elegant and requires nuance. (Not the kind of “nuancing” John F. Kerry claims to be capable of, I’m talking about people who work, folks who actually communicate, as opposed to puff themselves up all day.) This shows the limitations of e-mail… which was a limitation that letter writers worked around. A curse on our modern house.

This whole affair might be something as simple as e-mail confusion. More details from me? More straight-forward? More direct from them? Less assumptions from all of us? I don't know... but it was a so-called Service department. You expect something different.

Then an e-mail from Guy #1 including the words, “Is my name on this file or shipment?” Sure, maybe he didn’t mean to distance himself from this order… however, it sure sounds like it.

Fine. This is the way some folks work these days. This makes me appreciate good communication, good service, and regular folks more and more every day.

Guy #1 puts me on to Guy #3, who should be the right person. His message was very brief. The brush off. Here’s the guy… get away from me kid, you bother me. Guy #2 followed-up by saying, “I believe that [Guy #1] has already referred you to [Guy #3] in [truncated department name] and I believe he’s your best [bet] for information… but if there’s anything else we can do to assist you, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

I gotta admit, Guy #2 follows-up pretty well. That’s exactly the kind of deal folks expect. Hopefully, Guy #3 knows what this thing is. However, even if he doesn’t I’m probably out of here fairly soon… and there could be good news on my horizon.

Not only that, but one of my best friends might move back into town sometime in the next nine months.

Not only that, but you can smell autumn on the wind.

Not only that, but if this customer service is the worst my day gets then I’m actually in pretty good shape.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Airline Civilization: Smoking Allowed

Say it isn't so! Smoking allowed on a plane?!?!?! See for yourself at the International Herald Tribune in the Business section: "Smoke and enjoy the flight".

Smoker's International Airways (shouldn't that be Smokers' International Airways?) will not only allow smoking, but SIA (or Smintair) only plan to have Business and First Class sections... configuring their 747s to hold 138 seats as opposed to the normal 415 seats. The Business Class seat should run about $5500... I think that works out to $8260 for First Class.

What looks odd is a statement from a German government minister.

Meanwhile, the anti-smoking movement appears to be gaining ground in Germany. The country's consumer affairs minister, Horst Seehofer, said in July that the government planned after the summer break to propose a nationwide ban on smoking in public places beginning next year.

"I would love that," Schoppmann said. "They are playing into our hands."

(Emphasis mine.)

That sounds like the government is either licking its chops at the prospect of eliminating a legitimate business in the airline industry or legitmate businesses in the tobacco industry. Either way, is that the business of effective government?