Wednesday, June 30, 2004
I read this headline in the NYT today:
Daughter Says Father's Confessional Book Didn't Confess His Molestation of Her
For some reason, I immediately thought it was about Chelsea. Yes, that Chelsea.
Trump hints that former 'Apprentice' contestant should dump weakly boyfriend.
"I'm disappointed, too, her boyfriend lost the fight. It must have been awful to see your future husband unable to help while you get the s- - - beat out of you."
Katrina Campins and her fiance were allegedly beat up by men in Miami who wanted to tow her car for parking violations.
Could it be that 'The Donald' has been reading 'The Karol'?
My head hurts.
I was very sure that I would win the lottery yesterday. So sure that I blew off a project that was due until the Mega Millions drawing at 11:00 PM.
I did not win.
I did however, have to stay up until 2 a.m. and then wake up a 7 a.m. to get my stupid project done before the partner got in this morning.
My eyes have ceased being able to focus.
But I now face two issues: 1) Since I would quit this job so fast if I won the lottery; 2) Why am I still here now that my loans are paid off...
I need a nap.
Did you ever notice how loud your CD starts to sound when a partner stops by your office and Emimem's "Ima Kill You" is playing on the computer?
"Think they'll have a five-second delay?"
---Iocaste on the news that Cheney will be one of the Convention speakers.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
So far the one clear overwhelming mistake "purchase" (I count it as one of the 12 free) has been "The Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds."
Yuck, yuck, yuck. With apologies to Peter, my finger is getting tired from all the interaction with my fast forward button.
***UPDATE*** Ummm...what the hell? He kills her with a rock because "all beauty must die"?
Then, I have my "likely mistake" candidate, "dierks bentley." But I do like two songs on it...
That one has speculated on how one might get rid of one's future spouse at one point in one's life, should not count as admissible evidence in one's trial should one's spouse actually turn up dead one day.
I think I speak for Karol on this one, too.
"No, you let go first."
"Quickly, I think the First Lady is a fembot!"
Currently listening to "If I had" from "The Slim Shady LP" (I accidentally typed LLP on that...hahaha) My original copy was destroyed in an unfortunate moving incident.
I miss the poor, pissed off Eminem.
Tired of not drivin a BM/Tired of Working at GM/Tired of wantin' to be him/Tired of not sleepin without a Tylenol PM
Millionaire's Tax on those earning $500,000 or more.
I'm not against the tax, but dude a million's got 7 seven digits. I can barely match six tickets to six people, and even I know that. And then, they're using the money for...schools? housing? healthcare? NO!! Tax cut rebate checks!
Lordamercy, get on the trolley people.
(Incidentally, my trip to San Fran has taught me that getting on the trolley ain't as easy as Bart Simpson would have us believe.)
P.S. For all you Jerseyites out there, do you guys have your own newspapers or do you just rely on the Post, the Daily News and Newsday? If so, what's it called?
Just got one of his 'best of' CDs: WOW.
On an unrelated note: Must stop ordering CDs from BMG website. Evil.
On related note: Best of Paula Abdul will be delivered within 7-10 business days.
Thomas and Scalia divided on two recent cases. First Tom and Nicole; then Britney and Justin...now this. Go figure.
Dreams, vivid they come
But go with the eye's waking
and yet, they linger.
Monday, June 28, 2004
Read the whole thing.
For non-link clickers, it's an interview President Bush gave to an Irish journalist:
REPORTER: Do you believe that the hand of God is guiding you in this war on terror?
BUSH: I think, listen, I think that God, that my relationship with God is a very personal relationship. And I turn to the good Lord for strength. And I turn to the good Lord for guidance. I turn for the good Lord for forgiveness. But, but, but, but the God I know is not one that, uh, that, uh, the God I know is one that promotes peace and freedom. And, uh, but I get great sustenance from my personal relationship -- that doesn't make me think I'm a better person than you are, by the way, 'cause one of the great admonitions in the good book is, 'Don't try to take a speck out of your eye if I've got a log in my own.'
Actually, since it was said to me, I guess "Heard" is more accurate.
"How are you supposed to get breaks at work if you don't smoke?"
---Newly employed Karol between loudly exhaled puffs.
Hate Crimes Increase in Islamic Neighborhoods.
"I believe the time is coming when Muslims will not be safe inside the U.S. borders," one man wrote to the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. "I see nothing wrong with us doing the same things to them that they are doing to innocent people."
"It is high time you people wake up and smell the blood," another man wrote to Assaf's group in New Jersey. "Turn in the terrorists. They are your relatives, in a lot of cases. Cousin Omar. Uncle Mohammad. You know what I mean. Until you come forward to help us stamp out this vermin, you are as bad as they."
Hopefully, these criminals will get a one on one lesson in tolerance if they are convicted and housed in cells with Muslim inmates.
Condi sends Bush a note and he scribbles all over it.
If they can do it, so can we.
Sent to me my commenter pearatty:
My name is Nadia Jensen and I have an idea for a quiet revolution.
Please take 5 minutes to read my email and then help me if you can:
Here's some history behind this idea: When Norway was occupied by
Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as
a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening
in their country - that they didn't like having their freedom taken away
by the Nazis.
My great aunt, Karin Knudson Myrstad, was one of the women who knit red
caps for her children and others. Similarly, in Denmark, women knit
red-white-and blue caps (colors of the Allies) for the very same reason.
The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes --to
go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed
what was going on in their country. As you know, both countries
organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history -- everything
that happened began simply by wearing red!!!! (or the colors of the
Allies, in Denmark).
I believe, as many of us do, that at the very heart of our democracy is
our right to oppose certain policies of our government. Increasingly,
our Government is redefining "freedom" in ways that make too many
Americans perceive that it is risky to oppose his policies -- and, in
particular, current inroads about individual freedoms and policies in
the U.S. and abroad.
However, many of us DO oppose what our government is doing to individual
rights--and I have an idea that will allow all of us to recognize each
other very easily so we can see that WE ARE THE MAJORITY.
SO... I have been thinking that it's time to take action in a way that
is effective and easy for all of
us to do: Just wear red every Friday between now and election day. Wear
a little or a lot-- just be sure that when you leave your house to go
about your day -- to work, to school, to the store, to the gas station,
wherever you go in your daily routine -- that everyone who sees you will
see that you are wearing red because you believe in freedom and you
don't agree with our current administration's policies at home and
I'm really certain that we'll see that lots of us wearing red for
freedom -- because WE ARE THE
MAJORITY. We just need a way to show each other who we are!!! Between
now and election day, ask everyone you know to wear red for "Freedom
(I didn't see anything about this on snopes.com -- but hey, even if it's a 'hoax' it's still a good idea.)
There was an awkward moment in the movie where an Iraqi woman is giving an interview in Arabic. Subtitles provide the explanation that her house has just been destroyed in a bombing attack even though there were no weapons or terrorists there.
The reporter asks her something (it wasn't translated but based on American journalists I assume the question was something along the lines of "How does it feel to have lost your home and everything inside?") and she begins beating her chest and crying out to God.
"Why has this happened. Oh, God. Where are you, God. How could you let this happen to us?"
Then her lamentation takes a turn.
"Oh God, revenge us. God, make them pay for what they have done here, Oh, God make them suffer."
At this, a few people in the theater start applauding and doing that whistle sound of support.
After the movie, I said something like "umm...wasn't that weird when those people started applauding that woman's call for vengeance?"
"Yes! Did you notice that, too?"
"Uh huh... I wonder if they understood the whole vengeance for her would likely mean death for them?"
"Yeah, I have to say, I'm all for nobody's house being bombed down, but to the extent that her house has already been destroyed, there is no need to further the cycle of violence by destroying, say, I don't know...my house."
We laughed and then in a moment of pure genius (probably due to my TV-free mind enhancement), I devised a plan of a volunteer victims organization.
Like the volunteer military, these fine people who wish to help this lady get her vengeance could sign up to have their houses destroyed as retribution.
Standing on line to get tickets to "Farenheit 9/11," (Sidenote: is "on line to get tickets" a New York phrase? Or does everyone else in the country, not born in Britian, say the same thing?) I noticed a gaggle of press milling about. As my friends and I waited, cameras started flashing and the crowd rushed forward. I ran up to see what all the fuss was about and imagine my surprise!
Michael Moore himself had come down to say hi!
He shook all of our hands and cooly asked if we were on line to see Dodgeball (truthfully, after seeing the movie, I was thinking that wouldn't have been such a bad idea...)
The woman behind me gushed about having seen it twice already and what an important movie it was and the guy I was seeing the movie with, prematurely congratulated Moore on a tremendous job (we all teased him after seeing the movie because it turns out not to have been so tremendous). In between though, I stood silently shaking his hand. It's a peculiar affliction of mine when confronted with celebrities to lose all ability to do anything except giggle like a fool.
As soon as Moore passed me on the line I wanted to run back up to him and tell him to go on O'reilly's show and mop the floor with him -- or to do another television show like TV Nation or to hire me as I am black and in his second to last book he expressed an interest in having an all-black staff.
But in the end, I knew it would all just come out: heee heee heee heee.
(I took a picture, but Karol refuses to host it and I don't know how to get it from the Treo to blogger...)
Less Would Have Been Moore
There's an episode of the Simpsons where the children are removed from Marge and Homer's house and placed into foster care with the Flanders. They are cut off from talking to their parents by phone, so Bart and Lisa use the Flanders boys' printing press to do a mock-up of a newspaper telling their parents that they miss them. Bart prints the sweet message to mom and dad on the back of a previous article he had already written about Todd's lack of hygeine.
"Todd Smells? Ugghh, I already knew that," whines Homer as he reads the wrong side of Bart's fake newspaper.
I had a similar feeling yesterday after watching 'Farenheit 9/11':
"Bush Blows? Ugghh, I already knew that."
But there was no other side to the movie for me to slip to... maybe I should have asked that it be played backwards...perhaps to discover that Paul really is dead, after all.
Maybe I just wasn't the target audience. Madonna liked the movie for getting her dander up and showing the emotional toll of war in a mother's face. Karol's younger brother said it is making him question what he's heard from his Bush lovin' sis (I don't mean that in a gay way...not that there's anything wrong with that): "He said I have some explaining to do," she told me on Friday night.
But my dander was already up, I know first-hand the emotional toll a child in war causes a mother because my aunt suffered a massive heart attack early this year one day after my cousin's stay in Iraq was suddenly lenghthened past his year. And I definitely knew that Karol has some serious explaining to do -- so Moore's movie fell flat with me.
Hitchens was right about the movie's treatment of the foreign-policy aspect of the "War on Terror:"
It must be evident to anyone, despite the rapid-fire way in which Moore's direction eases the audience hastily past the contradictions, that these discrepant scatter shots do not cohere at any point. Either the Saudis run U.S. policy (through family ties or overwhelming economic interest), or they do not. As allies and patrons of the Taliban regime, they either opposed Bush's removal of it, or they did not. (They opposed the removal, all right: They wouldn't even let Tony Blair land his own plane on their soil at the time of the operation.) Either we sent too many troops, or were wrong to send any at all—the latter was Moore's view as late as 2002—or we sent too few. If we were going to make sure no Taliban or al-Qaida forces survived or escaped, we would have had to be more ruthless than I suspect that Mr. Moore is really recommending.
The twenty minutes spent interviewing experts and showing clips of old Dragnet movies about how we should have detained those members of bin Laden's family because they were Saudis -- bordered, if not crossed the line right over into it -- on the xenophobic. "I wouldn't have lost any sleep if the bin Ladens were inconvienced." That is not the American way -- calling in favors and getting preferential treatment -- now that comes a tad closer.
I wish he had delved into his innuendos and found some there, there. What is George H. W. Bush telling people on these trips abroad as a member of the Carlyle Group? Moore says he has George W.'s national guard records -- well? What's in 'em? Why was he suspended from flying?
What happened to that Corporal who said he would go to jail rather than go back to Iraq? Are there others like him? (Yes, of course, there are) Well, let's go interview them.
Show me more of the wounded soldiers than there missing limbs. What's their story? Why did they sign up? Was it worth it for them? Did Bush succeed in cutting their combat pay?
Instead of a quick panoroma of the Bush administration starting on election day 2000, which in a two-hour format necessarily means short segments on a whole range of topics, he should have picked one thing and turned a critical eye to it. Election malfeasance. Iraq. 9/11. Afghanistan. Big Business. Bush's vacation policy.
One thing and then hammer it.
Compare the length of the average American vacation. Followed an Iraqi family from pre-attack to hand over. Investigate voter registration rules.
Basically, tell me something I don't know.
On the whole, the movie felt, alternatively like a trailer for a really groundbreaking documentary for deceptive tactics of military recruiters or the ruin of Baghdad to a lengthy episode of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart-- but not as funny.
The movie is great for anyone who hasn't really been paying attention for the last four years. (Psst...Britney...I'm looking at you...) But if you're looking for answers or action, forget it. Moore isn't a journalist, I guess and maybe the movie is merely a blueprint for an enterprising reporter to follow the money or the blood or the oil to the X marks the spot where the skeletons are buried.
But until then I am left with more questions than answers, not the least of them -- what was so artistic about this movie? At least Bowling for Columbine had funny little original cartoon drawings, there wasn't anything in Farenheit that I couldn't have seen or did see on Meet the Press on any given Sunday.
I also wonder what the parents of some of the soldiers shown in the film are thinking (especially that "burn, motherf-, burn" guy) Are any of those soldiers dead now...
I also wonder if the family of that dead soldier whose pay was docked for the five days of the month he didn't work because he was dead -- will get that money back now that it has been made public?
See? more and more questions. I mean, Moore and Moore.
Iocaste also has a great review.
Friday, June 25, 2004
Mr. Crystal returned to introduce the man of honor, whom he chided earlier by saying, "You're the front-runner, you've raised $200 million — if you're having a good time, tell your face."
Showing that essential Hollywood skill of self-deprecation, Mr. Kerry's opening line was, "I just want you to know, I'm having a ball — I'm having fun and my face got told."
It's so on.
All It Takes Is An Illness And a Dream
Bush announces 'lottery' that will cover drug costs for lucky winners.
Up next, 'Russian Roulette' to help thin the elderly population in an effort to lower the costs of the Social Security program.
Government forced to revise its economy growth numbers. Downward.
Sadly a continuing series.
Hold On for One More Day or 30
Grandpa's back in the hospital. It looks bad. Of course, everyone is eyeing July 1st (the anniversary of my grandmother's death). I have to say, I would be bitter.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
Ted Olson to leave in July.
Could he be behind the new "interpretation" of the Geneva Conventions?
US NO DO GOOD
Actually, I got 8 out of 10. How are your grammar skills? Fun with quizzes, take 20.
Via Bark Bark Woof Woof
The Reagan death also prompted public criticism of Bush from Ron Reagan, the late president's son. While not endorsing Kerry, the younger Reagan told CNN on Wednesday night he plans to vote for ``whoever the viable candidate is who can defeat George W. Bush.''
The Reagan factor.
I don't even know football that well, but damn, these guys punt more than the Yale Football team.
OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY
I hate my educational loans. Loathe. Despise.
As a student I signed dozens of promissory notes for more than a hundred and thirty thousand dollars that I never saw. I
signed, money was wired to my school. Sign, wire. I didn't think twice about doing it, until six months after graduation and the first monthly statement and payment envelope arrived in the mail.
I was working for a judge, earning a little more than eight hundred dollars every two weeks. Yet, somehow my kindly lenders wanted twelve hundred dollars every month. Nevermind rent, food, gas, car insurance, medical co-payments, phone, light and of course, cable.
I laughed. At first.
I dropped the envelope on my living room coffee table and didn't go even go into the room for the next two weeks.
This was "repayment," the "Promissory-note land."
Every educational decision I had made in my life was back to haunt me. Why didn't I stay in New York for college, take the full scholarship at Emory for law school, "East Coco Beach Community College" couldn't be that bad, right?
Of course, pride was the answer. I went to the best schools I got into and did whatever I had to in order to pay for them.
Luckily, all I had to do was mortgage my future.
I've known women who had to work or strip or sell their eggs because their credit rating wasn't good enough for graduate school loans. Others have certainly paid an even higher price for education.
In that very real sense, the only thing worse than taking out student loans was being unable to take them out.
But still, they sucked.
I checked my loan balance today, which I have done everyday since I entered repayment four years ago.
Today the balance was zero. (Actually, it turns out that they owe me a couple of hundred dollars...hmm, think they'll pay me eight dollars a day until it's paid back?)
I used to joke with a friend of mine that when this day came I would just walk out of the office and never return.
(I've blocked my egress with deposition documents just in case... Although, in a very Catch-22 way, staring at those boxes is increasing the desire to bolt.)
I wish I'd kept a list of all the things I said I couldn't do throughout the years because "I've got a crapload of loans," I would start doing them right now....well, after I moved the boxes out of the way.
I just saw a homeless guy watching television. He had plugged his set into a lamppost on the corner of 43 & 6th and was watching Jerry Springer with rabbit ears!
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
This is his message:
"Ah believe in life from conception... Ah wanna slam the brakes on trial lawyers,...I wanna shut down the IRS"
Don't worry Ari, I think Karol will be back in New York a lot sooner than you might imagine.
When asked what she thought about Monday's SpaceShipOne flight which could usher in an age of privately financed space travel. Fake "woman on the street" Maryann said:
"Hey, any idea that involves blasting the wealthiest .01 percent of the population into the cold, lifeless vacuum of space is all right by me."
The federales have not cashed my loan payoff check yet. I am still accruing interest charges of more than 8 dollars a day.
The first person to mention Electronic Payment gets a lemon juice squirt in the eye.
:-Z (That's my growly face.)
For real this time.
So Michael Moore's big day is coming up. Farenheit 911 will heat up theaters this weekend. It's even got the 'R' rating to prove it.
UPDATE: According to SINGLEGALNYC, the movie opened in this fine city, yesterday.
I haven't seen it, but I will. Until then, I have been reading the reviews. They are universally glowing...except one... So, not so much "universal," Hitchens' voice is well-respected (I certainly don't think Bill Clinton's reputation, in my mind, will ever recover from the Hitchens fisking.), but near universal.
Of course, whose review is being repeated again and again and again?
I'll give you one guess.
So what to make of this relentless "Moore lied" chorus on the right-wing side of the blogosphere? Surely, if as Richard Clarke said, he, not Bush was responsible for letting members of the bin Laden family leave the country, a documentary that says otherwise should be taken to task. Raked over the coals, browbeaten with a truth stick.
But having exhausted themselves with such discipline, I wonder when these defenders of all that is true and honest, will turn to Colin Powell's latest mea culpa.
"The number of attacks originally reported was the lowest total since 1969, but Secretary of State Colin Powell said earlier this month that the reported decline was incorrect.
Researchers Alan B. Krueger of Princeton University and David Laitin of Stanford University reported in May that the number of significant attacks represented a 36 percent increase over 2001, up from 124 that year."
Not to mention the game of "hot potato" the Bush administration has been playing with the "torture order." Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Tenet...No, it was specialist Lynndie!!
Or the Niger Uranium
Naming of Valerie Plame
Weapons of Mass Destruction Related Programs
Bush met with Chalabi "once or twice"
Patriot Act library book/business record provision has never been used
Hiding Iraqi prisoners from the Red Cross
I guess the truth only matters when you're making a movie about it.
Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.
YOUNG POET DIES
THEN THEY CAME FOR ME
I was at a diversity conference this weekend and had an interesting conversation with a young Sikh lawyer. He said that since September 12, 2001, he can't go five minutes into meeting a new person without the words "nine eleven" coming up. They either come up in that annoying patronizing way "oh, man I bet it's been tough since 9/11" or in the infuriating disgusting "Sir, do you mind taking the later flight, the airline will upgrade you to first class, but some of the passengers are extremely nervous about ... well, you know since 9/11 everyone is a bit on edge." (That was about two years ago. He took the upgrade and got off and hasn't flown anywhere since then.)
He said that it was strange, he was born in L.A., grew up in the city, wore Air Jordans to school, gorged himself on Coca-Cola, did all the American things. His family had been Republican because they thought the Democrats were soft on crime and too identified with the black people that he blamed for all the gang violence in the neighborhood. (At this point he was looking down at his feet. I told him not to worry about it, because I was literally seconds away from saying "man, I bet it's been tough since 9/11.")
The funniest part of his story, and this is what stuck with me, was that he wasn't even trying to get people to be all open-minded and fair about Muslims or Middle Eastern men-- he just wanted a way to get the word out that he was neither.
I told this story to a friend of mine, also American, but her parents are of Pakistani-descent and she seemed resolved to living her life under a cloud of suspicion for the next generation or so.
I told her a story that I thought of after that conference:
When I was little, I spent my summers in a neighborhood day camp. Basically, we wore bright yellow cotton T-shirts with the camp's logo emblazened on the back and front, spent our sunny days in public parks and spent the rainy ones in a church basement playing monopoly and watching cartoons.
The kids were mostly the same from year - to - year: siblings, that weirdo girl with the mismatched sneakers (shut up, it was cool), idiot Tyrone who snatched hats and lunch bags, until the owners chased and beat him into giving them back, the quiet boy who never talked to anyone. One year, though, we got two new girls. They were Muslim sisters who wore dark blue headscarves and long dark blue skirts.
On one of our "field trips" to the park (it was across the street), Tyrone grabbed the headscarf off the oldest girl's head. She ran after him, and he gave it back when the counselor threated to trash his lunch. As the girl adjusted the scarf back on her head, I wondered why she didn't just leave it off -- it was like 100 degrees outside and she was sweating from her Tyrone chase.
So I walked over to her and said "Isn't that hot?"
"Yeah," she said and ran off to play kick ball with her sister.
My point being that Tyrone is always going to be a jerk, stand up for yourself (hopefully, the authorities will do the right thing) and live your life -- it may be uncomfortable at times, but kickball is fun.
She looked at me like I was crazy, but then, she smiled.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Early on the morning of August 19, 1946, I was born under a clear sky after a violent summer storm to a widowed mother in the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, a town of about six thousand in southwest Arkansas, thirty-three miles east of the Texas border at Texarkana.
First Chapter of Bill Clinton's 'My Life'
Who actually starts their autobiography with their birth? I mean, really.
Don't get me wrong, Bill and I go way back. When I was 18 years old, I sat for hours on a cold, rainy granite floor in front of Yale's Commons Hall, just to shake his hand. At 19 I went to work as an intern in his White House and I voted for him once. I don't think he's the anti-christ or anything, but the overwhelming feeling that came over me as I slogged through the first chapter of this book was: boredom.
My suggestion, take the book money and go see Farenheit 911 a couple more times than you were gonna.
Connecticut Governor Resigns
NYC Mayor cancels Republican fundraiser after Congressman votes against amendment that would increase aid to big cities like New York.
"Bloomberg had been scheduled to host Thomas Reynolds (search), National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, and Bob Ney (search), co-chair of the NRCC's incumbent retention committee, at a lunch with wealthy politically active New Yorkers.
The fissure comes at a particularly sensitive time in the relationship between the Republican Bloomberg and national Republicans, two months before the party visits New York City to renominate President Bush.
In the past, party leaders have complained that Bloomberg is not enough of a team player, and Bloomberg has pledged not to help Republican candidates raise money in the city if they fail to support the city's interests.
Sources who were to have attended Monday's meeting said it was scrapped after Bloomberg told officials that Ney would not be welcome at the event."
Days like these I'm almost a Bloomberg Democrat.
IRAN CHARGES BRITISH SAILORS FOR 'TRESPASS'
Embraces doctor who kills them.
I thought this was the party of "life" and personal responsibility...
If we're talking about not telling a police officer your name, then yes.
A continuing series on John Ashcroft's America.
I have so much to say, so many things to write, that they have all become jammed in the small nerve that goes from my brain to my fingers and now I cannot write about any of them.
Is that what a logjam is?
Sunday, June 20, 2004
WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR A KLONDIKE BAR?
Facing 8 free hours in San Francisco yesterday, I decided to play tourist. I waited 40 minutes in a line so I could stand outside clinging for dear life to a trolley car pole and then I walked around Fisherman's Wharf looking for a way to get to Alcatraz.
I entered one travel agency that loudly advertised tickets to "The Rock" in its storefront window.
"Sorry, we're sold out today."
Disappointed, I turned and headed back to the door.
"Pssst," I heard from behind me.
I turned and another agent in the store (which now appeared to be housing three or four different agencies) summoned me to his counter.
"How many in your pahty?" he said in an unmistakeable Boston accent.
"It's just me," I chimed, figuring he had some secret, backdoor way to get one little lady a ticket to Alcatraz...
"Yes." (well, at least 25, but he didn't ask all that.)
"You got a credit card."
Hmmm... what is that bell ringing in my head and that nagging feeling in my gut...
"You want a $75 gift card to Macy's?"
Hmm, must be a fire somewheres about... alarms. going. off.
"Great," he reaches down behind the counter and produced a clipboard-full of paperwork.
He starts to fill it out.
Name, Address... then he looks up.
"Would you prefer cash?"
"How much cash?"
"OK, take this form over to the Cannery and you'll watch a video -- maybe 30 minutes and then, you'll get the $75 and a free cruise around the bay. It circles Alcatraz."
All that for the low, low price of?
"One thing, though. A lot of people say they are going to go and then they don't show up, so we ask that you put down a small deposit. They'll give it back to ya when you get there, but I need to put it down."
"1o dohlars, is that a problem?"
"Well... and I'll get it back? Do I have have to buy something to get it back?"
"No, you get it back once you show up. We are a very reputable company."
I think I heard one of the other travel agents in the office snicker, but when I turned around he was dutifully writing something down on his glass top. In pen.
"OK," I said handing over my Alexander Hamilton, "I'll head over there now."
"No, they've got to set things up. Go over in about an hour and a half."
"Well, there's cookies and brownies, coffee -- stuff like that and they need to cater it for the right amount of people. You understand."
I most definitely did not.
"Oh, yeah. OK."
I left there holding my appointment slip and receipt for $10. I walked out to the docks and then back up to the waterfront park. Then I decided to call for a second opinion. I relayed the whole story to Karol, once she stopped laughing and telling everyone in attendance at Chez Karol that I was a moron ... ok, I don't really remember what she said, there was too much laughter in the background.
But I headed to the Cannery, well in advance of my appointment -- to find ten or twenty other people seated in the lobby.
I checked in. Spelling my name with all kinds of silent letters: Daiwzn Sczummears.
I called Karol back: "Ha! It's a real place, there are real people here and I see the cookies."
"Look around, are these people you want to be surrounded by? How many are wearing Hawaiian shirts and sweat pants?" She paused for a moment and asked: "Are you wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sweat pants?"
I uttered a few profanities and hung up.
I looked around and realized the immigrant Russian girl definitely had a point. I was surrounded by all manner of society's least gifted. Toothless women, men with dirty, grey ponytails, a lady absently holding a kid on her lap whose hand was elbow deep in his nostrils. All of them, ostensibly waiting for 75 bucks and a free cruise.
As I contemplated going back to the storefront to get my ten bucks back, a woman called out:
"Terrific, pleased to meet you Da-Zawn."
We sat down at a small round table. There was a computer monitor, a clipboard and a black leather portfolio.
"So you're from New York?"
"I love New York, my daughter and I ... do you have any kids?"
I shook my head and she continued.
"We really want to spend Christmas in New York. I just imagine the store windows with the Christmas themes, the big tree in Rockerfellar Center and the ball dropping in Times Square."
"Yes, it's very beautiful."
"Tell me about your dream vacation."
"Umm... I would be on my way to tour Alcatraz prison and end up at a time-share presentation, waiting to get my ten bucks back and a free cruise."
She laughed. Then stopped laughing.
"OK, where in Hawaii, describe it."
"Dunno, never been."
"Well, we're going to change all that. Here at Star Vacation Owners, we believe that when it comes to vacation, you've earned a great one. We'll make all your dreams come true."
Hmmm... Hello, I am Mrs. Jesse L. Martin. President of the United States of America, call me Dawn.
For the next 50 minutes, she showed me an interactive computer program about vacations and told me that with their patented "points system," I would never spend another dime on hotel rooms. She told me this was the best time to get into the ownership market and I would never regret it.
During the presentation I kept hearing louds pops, followed by applause.
"New owners," she explained. With every pop, I looked around for the champagne bottles and lucky buyers. My eyes were never quick enough to find either.
Then we went across the street to a "model home."
Exhausted, I sat on the couch.
"Comfy. Isn't it? And these doors here close, so you can tell the kids to go to bed and then (she grabbed a couple of bathrobes hanging in the closet) va-va-va-voom"
"Ok, since no one is here I'll put in the video."
"I thought we watched the video already."
"No, that was the presentation."
The video was scene after scene of a family of four (of various races and sizes) in a variety of vacation scenes. Skiing, hiking, water rafting, amusement parks. I was dizzy and tired. When it ended we headed back over to the main building.
More interactive computer "presenting."
I finally put my head down and slumped over the desk. My arms flailed across all her paperwork and pictures and my pointer pen clattered to the floor.
"Are you ok?"
"Yes, just tired," I said with my cheek pressed against the desk.
"OK, why don't I get the "financing person" so we can talk about what all this cost."
I sat upright: "yes."
The financing lady had a lazy eye. She sat down; my salesperson, Lisa left to "get coffee." She never returned.
"So, Da-zawn, do you like our program?"
"Great, what would you think it cost?"
"Well, monthly it's not very much more than that."
She then layed out a financing sheet in front of me:
Total Cost: $46, 889
Monthly Mortgage: $578
This would get me 2 weeks of high season, gold standard real-estate or 12 weeks of off-season "bronze-standard" real-estate.
I started laughing so hard the surrounding tables turned to stare. (Even now I am laughing just thinking about it.)
"Ok, I can show you something more moderately priced."
But I was laughing so hard, my eyes were sealed shut. My side started to hurt. Then, I started to cough.
One of the other managers brought me some water and the lazy eye woman continued with her financing sheets -- one after another until I was down to 2 weeks, bronze-standard, that cost $18,000, with a $4000 down payment and a $99 monthly mortgage.
"Ms. Soomars, don't you want to own a second home?"
I'd like to own a first home...actually, I'd like to rent a first home. Did I mention I live with my mommy?
"Ms. Soomars, I really don't understand how you can pass up this opportunity. I am practically giving all this away for free."
"Well, when you do give it away for free, call me. You have my number." (Actually, they had all the digits that made up my number, but not necessarily "my number.")
Lazy eye left and an African-American "corporate" guy came by.
(See, ladies and gents, this is why diversity is so important in business)
"Hey there, I understand we haven't convinced you to become an owner yet, is there anything I can do?"
"No. I just need to think about it."
"But no one ever purchases once they've thought about it."
I searched his face for any sign of irony or realization about this admission. Finding none, I simply said that as a lawyer I could not buy property on a whim after a 100-minute sales pitch.
I chose my words carefully, "I need to investigate further."
I heard a pop from directly behind me and saw that it wasn't the sound of a champagne bottle being uncorked, it was a balloon meeting the wrong end of a pin. These owners were an elderly mother and her middle-aged daughter (or as Rick Blaine, who I had dinner with, might say: "It's San Francisco, where you see mother and daughter, I see Luvahhs."
The corporate guy gave it one more shot:
"I could pop this balloon for you, Ms. Soomars. Just pick the package that most suits your budget."
"Tempting, but no thanks."
"Ok, just head to the back and our cashier will give you your free gift."
I collected my $75 bones (and my "deposited" ten-spot) and received a voucher for the free cruise.
The exit sign pointed to heavy metal door with a push bar in the center. I pushed the bar and found myself standing in a dark, cement stairway. I began to wonder if I had finally stumbled into the real scam: alone, in a desolate stairwell, thugs beat you to a pulp, take your money and credit cards and then rip your free voucher into bitty pieces which were then sprinkled onto to your unconscious body. I hurriedly ran down the stairs to the next landing. I exited into the main building and looked in vain for an escalator down to the street level.
Twenty minutes later I was on the street, I realized my free cruise left in about ten minutes, so I ran to Pier 43 1/2 to catch it.
I sat on the top deck with my feet up on the railing. The Bay is beautiful, (cold as hell), but the scenery was breathtaking. I took a picture of myself on my Treo.
I relaxed as the wind beat my face. After all, this is my vacation. And I had earned a great one.
Friday, June 18, 2004
The in-flight feature was "Miracle." The movie about the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team that beat the USSR to win the gold medal got me thinking about how different the "War on Terror" is from the "Cold War."
Then the enemy was a player on the world stage, we could look their leaders in the eye, they could bang their shoes on our tables, and once every four years we could kick each other's ass in sport.
Those were the days.
Also, why don't new rappers re-rap any of the Old School rhymes? Like Mase could do a little "Children's Story or Mona Lisa," or Eminem can rerap "Ghetto Bastard."
That would be neat.
If I had any doubt that New LLP was a west coast based firm, all of them have been dispelled by my third trans-contintental flight in about a week.
Remember when I wrote that the last time I had the "worst.seat.ever?" But then calmly stated "at least it wasn't next to the bathroom.
Well... last night I had the Worst. Seat. Ever.
That's right, I had a full 6 hours as bathroom monitor girl.
Human beings produce very foul smells.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Looks like Fox News is now a propoganda machine to help elect John Kerry. Or maybe it is a good movie.
I asked a question last December about eye doctors:
A Reader responded:
You asked : What is the difference between an optometrist and opthomologist?
Answer: The difference is that an opthomologist is an MD - a medical doctor and went to medical school for 4 years, then went through 3-5 years of training to do surgery and treatment of eyes. An optometrist is someone that went to optometry school for 4 years and did not do any training in surgery or advancement treatment. This is why optometrists cannot operate on a person's eye. It's like a nurse doing surgery on you instead of a surgeon. Optometrists only prescribe glasses and look at basic things.
Hope that helps! =)"
It did, so I thought I would share.
Clareified, all about education and information.
One of the senior associates at New LLP ends every conversation with thanks -- even when none are in order (i.e. "Dawn, I'm calling to let you know the conference room is changed. Thanks." "I'm going to order in pizza, do you have any preferred toppings? Thanks")
Of course, having been recently refugeed from the decidedly ungrateful, Old LLP, I was very impressed by sentiment.
Now that I've settled in a bit, I realize this is most definitely some kind of reflexive, OCD tick.
Lately right before I get the "thanks," I've been quickly saying "thank you," causing an uncomfortable silence on the phone or befuddled look in person.
How do you thank someone who has just thanked you?
Usually I end up getting the mumbled thanks, anyway.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
That's right, forget the primaries, forget the Convention -- Kerry for President...Right, now!
Maybe they'll open the polls early? I am so there.
I rolled my eyes so hard today, I strained them. It hurts now to even glance from side to side slowly. Actually, maybe it wasn't the force, but the frequency that caused the injury.
Troops in Afghanistan get very, very worried.
EACH ONE, TEACH ONE
Karol: So, what's the deal? When you go out in the sun, you get darker?
Karol: Huh. White people always wonder about that. Good thing I have black friends.
Me: Great. Glad I could help.
Similarly, two months ago a junior associate at New LLP:
Her: It was so humiliating. I had put on too much bronzer, so I kept trying to even it out with my hands and then when I went to shake his hand, my palms were practically orange.
Me: That sucks.
Her: Yeah, you are so lucky you don't have to deal with that kind of stuff.
Me: Wanna trade?
Her: Face turns bright red.
Evidently, Republicans and Democrats have a tacit agreement not to report one another for ethic violations.
Nice to see bi-partisanship in Washington.
Trucker barely escapes with his life
A continuing series on the impending human/beast war.
Every now and then, perhaps even yearly, Safire has a printed conversation with Old 37, it's always amusing -- but the frequency of these "conversations" is starting to make me worry about Bill:
Q: Did it warm your heart out there in Purgatory, President Nixon, to see the friendly banter at the White House unveiling of the Clinton portraits?
RN: Same as at my funeral; everybody was forced to be gracious. Nobody would say what everybody thought: that Hillary's portrait is fine but Bill's is awful. Now ask me about Karzai.
Q: President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan spoke to a joint session of Congress yesterday——
RN: It was a joint meeting, you know — joint sessions are only to hear the U.S. president. But wasn't Karzai terrific? He was grateful for America's liberation of his country, and you don't hear a lot of that these days. He asked NATO to put its troops where its mouth is, which it won't. That's why we need a new Mansfield Amendment — to threaten the French and Germans with an American pullout from Europe.
Q: But hasn't Bush begun to do that already?
RN: Not fast enough. You saw the results of the European Parliament elections? Schröder is finished. Chirac has had it. Next year they'll be begging Bush for support. And that's when we should crack 'em hard to bolster our friends in Afghanistan. This Karzai fellow should make a deal with his warlords to get some breathing room this fall for his election. Then he can attack his real problem, which is not so much the Taliban terrorists as it is the damned poppies. We have to help him eradicate the huge opium trade before that place becomes a criminal state. Only then can we have a Muslim model for democracy in Iraq.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
For the past month I have been cheating on Netflix.
But, much to the relief of my future significant other, this experience of infidelity has been so problematic, frustrating and irritating, it has completely soured me on side relationships.
Here's the sitch: Netflix announced six weeks ago that it was raising prices. At the same time, Walmart decided to enter the market of shipping DVDs, allowing you to keep them as long as you wanted and get as many as you can receive and return in a month.
And the first month was free!
So I signed up and requested the Gilmore Girls Season 1 -- 6 Discs...
The Walmart confirmation e-mail said "Disc 1- Long Wait", "Disc 2- Short Wait", "Disc 3 - Out of Stock", "Disc 4- Shipping," "Disc 5- Long Wait", "Disc 6-Shipping."
What the Bleep??? I don't need Disc 4 and 6 -- idiots (and why did they buy only 5 of the six Gilmore DVDs, such that they didn't have 3?)
So, of course, I quickly changed my Netflix queue so I would get Discs 1, 2 and 3.
I watched them all (except 6) over one "Very Gilmore" weekend and mailed them all back on Monday morning.
When I got to the office I re-ordered the Walmart queue so that I deleted Disc 1 and 2 and moved up Disc 5.
On WEDNESDAY, I received an e-mail saying Disc 1 - Shipping; on THURSDAY, I received Disc 5-Shipping.
When Disc 1 arrived on Saturday, I immediately mailed it back. Disc 5 didn't come until Monday.
All told, it took more than two weeks to get the Gilmore series from Walmart; meanwhile, Netflix had faithfully sent 6-8 DVDs in the same time period.
After the Gilmore's fiasco, I decided to just use Walmart for single DVD events, like movies.
One of my choices was "Jersey Girl." It was listed as a long wait, but finally came a week ago -- but since I was away for the weekend I didn't get a chance to watch it until last night.
I sat through previews for "Sleepless In Seattle" and "My Best Friend's Wedding," I thought it was a tad odd that the MBFW preview said "Coming to Theathers," but I wasn't overly concerned...until the Queen Latifah rap came on... as distorted cut-out magazine images flashed and the Queen "laid down the beat" ("From Hoboken, startin' sumtin" are representative lyrics...) I knew something had gone, very, very wrong.
That's right -- no Bennifer, no Kevin Smith, no lips-too-big-for-her-face Liv -- I got some early 90s direct-to-video "Jersey Girl" starring Jami Gertz...and Dylan McDermott.
Of course, since I also have some crippling OCD which prevents me from stopping a movie once it has started, I had to watch the entire 92 minutes of Jami Gertz (the Jersey Girl) trying to snare a boyfriend from New York City. To this end, she goes to the Mercedes dealership in Jersey where (ohmigosh) Dylan McDermott is there buying a car. She then wrecks his brand new car, so that she has a reason to give him her number (of course) and then stalks him. For his part, Dylan is dating a WASP from the right side of the tracks and sees Jami (whose character is called Toby) as a refreshing change....still awake? Great.
Now, the WASP tells Dylan that Toby is trash and won't fit in and he says...ready? "I don't want her to fit in" before quitting his job and driving to Jersey to tell Toby he's sorry he broke up with her.
Toby, of course, has, during the brief relationship, alienated her Jersey friends (played by the lady cop in Third Watch and Tony Soprano's sister (the one with the rage problem... "je suis mi mama")), so when Dylan comes crawling back, she says.... "I don't want you back. You care more about your car than you'll ever care about me."
So Dylan crashes his Mercedes into a fire hydrant for her sending water cascading all around and drenching him (yes, the wet Dylan is worth the price of admission here) and they ...really? you're still awake?
Needless to say, I canceled Walmart this morning and renewed Netflix at whatever price they want me to pay.
Spare Change helps brain storm for David Chase, the best idea so far:
"Tony gives up the Mob life, thanks to outstanding success on The South Beach Diet, declaring. "It was a vicious cycle...I'd eat and murder because I was depressed, and I'd be depressed from eating and murdering!"
Via Karol and her wacky, wacky bonfires.
ABU GHRAIB LLP?
In the months before I left Old LLP, I was regularly forced to work 23, 24 hour days. No sleep, no shower, no visits home.
Evidently, that qualifies under the Geneva Convention as torture.
Writing the Check: $45,000
Mailing the Envelope: .37
Freedom from Educational Debt: Priceless
Monday, June 14, 2004
He'd better be careful what he says about G Dub, the Republican attack machine will take him out:
"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," he said during a recent interview with Salon. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."
More (Patti Davis was cute.)
Supreme Court decides pledge case on 'standing' issue.
Cigarettes and Whiskey
I think I have one of those faces. You know: soft, friendly, empathetic, inviting. The kind of face that says, "hey, I've got nothing better going on. Tell me about yourself, what are you thinking about? I'm listening."
Which, of course, is unfortunate, as I am very much hard, anti-social, judgmental and aloof. I have tried furrowing my brow, pursing my lips, baring my teeth, closing my eyes, wearing headphones -- but when the all-too-familiar tap on my forearm comes from the stranger sitting next to me on the flight home last night -- once again, I knew it was all for naught.
"You going to finish that?"
I was sitting in the middle seat of the center rows, four aisles from the back.
Read: worst. seat. ever. (Ok, at least I wasn't next to the bathroom).
The owner of the tapping finger was probably in her mid-sixties, her thinning hair was combed all the way back and she reeked of cigarette smoke.
The whole ride I had been leaning to the right, with my head tilted in the air to avoid inhaling the smell. But now, I was facing her and the only thing that lessened the cigarette smell was the equally putrid smell of whiskey (she already had three empty mini bottles of the stuff scattered on her tray and was well on her way to finishing the fourth.)
Her wrinkled finger was pointing at United's version of the "cheesecake." I had tasted a fork-full before reclosing the container on the airline's pointedly failed experiment.
"No, do you want it?" I replied.
She reached over and took it off my tray. Guess she wanted it.
I resumed the position of olefactory self-preservation and turned the volume up on the headphones (interesting note: the airline had a feature called "Spotlight On" where they would dedicate one in-flight station to a single artist. This month's spotlight was on Alanis Morissette. They played a bunch of songs from her new album, with the rest of the hour filled with her previous top forty hits. However, when they got to 'Ironic' they deleted half the song. But the omission was done so poorly, that I couldn't help trying to figure what they had cut out. Then it hit me: they deleted the entire verse about the old man who was afraid to fly "waited his whole damn life to take this flight, and as the plane crashed down, he thought, well isn't this nice..." )
Moments later, the tapping resumed. I removed the headphones and looked over.
"You know, you girls shouldn't be dieting so much. You need to enjoy your life and food is part of it"
The cheesecake was gone, but I could see remnants of the cherries clinging to her brown teeth.
"Umm... yeah...I just didn't like it"
"I have Cancer, you know"
"Oh...I'm so sorry.."
"Don't feel sorry for me. I'm travelling now. Spent every penny in the savings. Now, I'm running up the credit cards. That sonabitch is going to get a big surprise when I die."
She snorted loudly and downed the last swallow of the Johnny Walker.
I went to put back on the headphones...
"I've been married 36 years. You married?"
"Good, marriage is a black hole. They drop you down it and then you realize that at the end is your grave. No, stay just the way you are. Eat your cake. I had four kids and you know, what? I can't even remember the third one's name."
Now she was laughing (well, or hack coughing and wheezing...but I think laughing because I had a clear view of both rows of rotting teeth.)
"Don't wanna know it either, probably just as dull as the others. But God help me, they'll have nothing to fight over when I'm gone, 'cept my cold body. That'll shock 'em."
Note to self: take up parachute jumping.
"I should've sticked a screw driver right between his shoulder blades, years ago."
Whose? The third kid? The husband? I didn't ask.
"That penny-pinchin' sonabitch, he'll be in for it. After New York, I'm going to Florida. I'm going to see the world and he'll be paying for it till he dies."
She hadn't looked at me in a few minutes, and I could tell that these last few sentences she said more to herself, so I put on the headphones and closed my eyes.
I heard her order two more whiskeys.
I stayed perfectly still, hoping to avoid anymore conversation.
Luckily, I fell asleep for real.
My cab ride home was uneventful, but my jean jacket still smelled like smoke and the scent swirled with the memory of the rotten-toothed woman with the whiskey breath.
I felt nauseated.
I rolled down the window and heard Alanis blaring from a passing car.
"I don't understand why bear hugs enjoy such a good reputation"
Homer Jay Simpson
The grandeur of Yosemite National Park: the fresh air, sunshine, open spaces, majestic mountains, roaring rapids, starlit sky,... thank God that's all behind me.
The day after I return from vacation is always so disorienting.
I am catching up on e-mails, blog reading, voicemail returning and trying to get my ears to return to pre-landing hearing capacity.
Add to that the leg soreness and back pain of a sedentary New Yorker climbing to the top of Mist Trail because "well, if everybody else is doing it." (How on earth did I avoid the whole drug taking/shoplifting scene in high school, again?)
For the record, climbing 1000 FT at 9 in the morning, to look over the top of a waterfall --- so not worth it. Oh, and the reason they call it "mist trail," is because the spray from the waterfall drenches you as you ascend the mountain.
So, again: Wet, tired, in pain, top of waterfall...not worth it.
I also grew more and more impatient with the people who were ooohing and ahhing the whole way up
"This is breathtaking."
"Oh, my God this is amazing."
"Wow, the East Coast just doesn't have anything comparable."
Yeah, great: mountain pretty; city dirty. Where's the elevator? Escalator? Helicopter???
At one point, I looked up and saw that the stairs stretched past my line of vision into the clouds, I started hearing Samwise encouraging me "You can do it, Mr. Frodo. Just a lit bit further."
I hate Samwise.
When we finally reached the summit, I remember looking down the cliffs at the rushing water and thinking -- if I could find a sturdy log and some vines, I could strap myself on and then head down the falls. They did it in the last Rugrats movie and everything turned out fine.
I think the hike leader could read my mind, because he suddenly pulled me ever so gently away from the edge.
Ironically, the hike down was even worse and at the end, I realized, I am right back where I started. Had I not climbed up, I wouldn't have had to climb down and I would still be in the same place.
Of course, there was no news from the outside world available inside the park and coupled with my week of non-TV watching (I can't believe it's only been a week...) I feel quite out of the loop.
At the airport on Sunday I noticed all the front pages still had Ronald Reagan or Nancy Reagan on them... what's up with that? Did he die again? Is there anything "new" about this "news?"
From the voice messages that have accumulated since last Thursday, I now know that my friends are not reading the blog. Will have to resort to drastic measures to ensure compliance.
Two Words: pop quizzes.
But they will have to wait until full feeling returns to my arms, legs, back, feet and nose (don't ask.)
My hearing would also be nice.
Friday, June 11, 2004
Last night I had dinner with a few of New LLP's summer interns. At some point in the evening, one of them mentioned that he had published X,Y or Z on his "weblog." The conversation went on for a few paces after that, until a lull when I asked him what his blog was called.
He paused and I could watch as his face went through the stages of a blogger with a real job: 1. Oh, colleague knows what blogs are
2. Have I written anything about the job lately?
4. But... I would get a hit.
5. I do like hits.
He then sheepishly told me the site name, with the caveat that the humor was a "little blue," so he didn't usually like work people visiting. I explained that I understood because I had started one 8 months ago (gosh, time does fly), but then I jumped right to number 5 and told him the url.
Anyway, I've got to go now and erase all negative references to New LLP! :-)
THE SAN FRANCISCO FEAT
Evidently, hundreds of thousands of people live here. A million more visit. Only the Good Lord knows why.
The city has the temperature (cold), climate (foggy/cloudy), color (gray),feel (hilly, hilly, hilly), and temperment (recycle this/love your animal that) of Seattle, but without the same hipster, artsy, bohemian cred of Seattle and it's like 20 times more expensive to live here.
Its architecture and layout attempts to mimic New York City's -- but without the history, culture, diversity and wealth of the Big Apple, it fails to even come close to the city's essence, but again it's just as expensive (if not more) to live here or go out for dinner and drinks. Plus, you need a car.
Ostensibly, it takes the same amount of time to get from the East Coast to San Francisco, as it does to get from there to Los Angeles -- but here has no sunshine, no beaches, no glitz and glamour of Hollywood.
So how did San Fran get itself such a shiny reputation as a national "hotspot"? That, my friends, is the San Francisco feat.
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Take the quiz: "Which American City Are You?"
You Shine bright and partake in all the vices. You'd rather burn out then fade away.
Day three of the grand experiment.
What the hell was I thinking? I went away to a private Villa in Negril, Jamaica for two weeks to celebrate the faux new millenium (i.e. year 2000) and I made sure we had cable television which I watched for a couple of hours each day, including the night of New Year's Eve. Why on earth did I think I could do without it whilst chillin in the E.C.B.?
(Although in the spirit of full disclosure I am currently 3000 miles away from the E.C.B. in San Francisco of all places...)
The most notable change is that I am constantly thinking. Miles a minute, deep important thoughts, for instance:
If I focus really hard on something else, I don't need to breathe. After going a full six minutes, I realized I could train a personal army of non-breathing soldiers to take over the world in the event of the big ice cap melt flood.
Also, I solved the whole Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Really, it's just a matter of shuffling some things, but if say you gave the Palestinians, Haiti -- moved the Haitians to Kenya and relocated the Kenyans to France, I think we'd see peace in the middle east in a matter of days.
I am paying per blog minute, so you'll have to stay tuned for my other key revelations. I am headed back up to my hotel room so I can stare out my brick wall facing window and not look at the television.
P.S. If anyone has any useful bear-evasion techniques, I'd love to hear them before I head out for a weekend of camping and hiking in Yosemite. No whistle or bell suggestions please.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
State Department to revise April report claiming that terrorism had decreased.
Looks like they may have misunderestimated the figures a bit.
Judge sentences man to celibacy.
Dear Times Square Tourists,
I know when I say "Sorry, Excuse Me," my voice sounds friendly and pleasant. I know I am usually smiling.
However, let me be very clear: "Sorry, Excuse Me," means -- "Get the hell out of my way. Now. Idiots."
If you want to crane your necks to see the shiny neon signs and fake steam oozing off the Cup of Noodles sign or catch a glimpse of the latest tween icon basking in their fifteen minutes at the TRL studios, fine, great, terrific. Just don't do it in the middle of the block. Move to the side or against a store front. Or in the middle of the street (it's Times Square, traffic never moves anyway.)
But if you see me walking briskly down the street, about to make it to work on time for the first time in a long while, and I say "sorry, excuse me" and you don't move within seconds, don't look around all confused when I step on your heels or elbow you in the ribs.
You have been warned.
* Message brought to you from a woman who has not watched TV in 34 hours.
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
I don't know if it was seeing that CBS planned to bring back Big Brother for a 5th go round or if it was the promos for "Marry My Dad," or maybe with one month to go until my annual turning one year older, I'm feeling especially contemplative, but I have decided to give up television for the month.
Last night at 11:59 p.m. I unplugged the set from the wall and placed the cord on top of the box.
I've suffered no ill effects yet and this morning I realized that it is not watching 3 hours of television in the morning that has been responsible for my failure to leave the house at a decent hour.
I am just a slacker.
Monday, June 07, 2004
North Carolina Republican Slams Mexicans in bid to win Senate Seat.
Listen to vile ad here.
Sentencing moved to July 8.
Something about that date just sounds lucky.
To honor President Reagan's memory John Kerry temporarily suspends campaign.
A week without Kerry talking. If we can get one former President to die a month until November, Kerry might win this thing!
Ok, probably not, but the only angle on the Gipper's timely death and J-Lo's third trip down the aisle that hasn't been beaten to death is the connection between the two.
It surprises me that for a self-proclaimed liberal blogger, how many posts I have already written about Ronald Reagan.
But I am an 80s kid, so I guess it's understandable. So on the cusp of the "week of mourning" or whatever the hell has been proclaimed by President Bush, I am compelled to reflect on the old guy one last time.
Karol has a good post about how the montages and looks-back played and replayed all weekend seem to miss the essence of the 40th President.
I certainly don't remember him as a squishy, touchy-feely huggable teddy bear. Dude, this guy was all -- "Mr. Gorbachev, maybe both sides will die in a nuclear war, but we'll kill you deader."
Reagan was steely and scary-- he declared war -- WAR -- on drug addicts and dealers. He basically said "that's what you get for being gay" to AIDS infected homosexuals and shrugged his shoulders to questions about whether he had broken the law.
And America liked it.
No doubt about it, if he could have run again, he would have won -- hands down, mind gone.
Even I was sad to see him go. By his second term, I had mastered my Reagan impression and my dual Reagan/Nancy skits made me a hit in improv class every year. Bush was boring (until the throwing up on the Japanese Prime Minister...) Who knew what Reagan would do or say next?
Ahhh, and Nancy? Well, she was Hillary Clinton before anybody knew what that term meant. Nancy was pretty steely and scary herself.
Remember when she co-starred with Arnold Drummond? (hmm...didn't she also march with Punky Brewster?) Oh and the hats... tee heee.
I have to say I've been a bit overwhelmed by all the news coverage and this five-day, bi-coastal jubilee that's been planned. It's not like nobody saw this coming, right? He was 93. What'd Nixon get? A pine box and a trumpeteer, I think.
But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It's Reagan. Larger than life, larger than death.
There he goes again.
Friday, June 04, 2004
ABOVE THE LAW
Iocaste has an easy-to-follow play-by-play of how the Bushies have ignored, if not violated a host of laws and regulations.
So it comes as no surprise that they are trying to skirt Illinois law too.
Police say Philly man's dog, 'Buddy' ate him.
Now, we all know how Dawn feels about animals, but if this ain't proof positive that man and beast should not co-habitate, I don't know what is!
Or put another way.
I call my friends racists all the time. They leave me on hold. Racist. Make fun of my clothes? Racists. Throw rocks through my windows and light crosses on my doorstep...ok, I was just kidding about that last one, but you get idea. Sometimes, I regret that I've taken such a cavalier attitude about a serious issue, because it does lessen the impact of that charge when it's applicable. One of Spot On's newest commenters ss, responded to a comment I wrote with the following missive. Now, I don't mean to pick on ss, because it isn't the first time I've heard (read) these arguments and I don't believe ss comes from a hateful place. In fact, I was tempted to ignore it or respond with a sarcastic quip, much like my original comment which prompted this response. But in some ways, that ss and people like him, so sincerely believe these things means that someone should respond in a respectful thoughtful way.
So here goes. I've posted the relevant ss comments in italics. You can read the whole comment over here.
The Democratic Party is the party of the victims. It's their job to point out to everybody how their shitty life is the result of some external oppression. Blame it on the racists, the sexists, the homophobes, the wealthy, the alien abductors, the government, anybody but the individual. "Hey, now! Everybody line up by race, class, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. We intend to win your vote and improve your wretched lives by identifying the reason you are being oppressed (i.e., your "affliction"), lumping you together with others who have the same affliction, and then belittling your oppressors and making them give you their shit."
I don't know which Democratic party ss is talking about, but the one I contribute to and vote for and am part of is about closing the rich/poor divide, ending subsidies to corporations evading taxes, spending more money on schools and medical research, protecting the environment and drinking water, safeguarding the U.S. and restoring America's honor and reputation on the world stage. The Democratic party is about using the vast power and strength of the government to better its citizenry. If any party is about blame and division it's the Republican party. In the 90s Jesse Helms ran a television ad essentially telling North Carolinians that if they didn't vote for him, black people would take their jobs. George H. W. Bush ran ads that insinuated that if people voted for Dukakis, black men would break into their homes and rape their daughters. George W. Bush has all but declared war on gay people, going so far as to call for a constitutional amendment against them marrying "to protect" America.
As for ss's comments that:
...all the blacks that went to my college got in with lower grades and test scores than many whites and Asians who were rejected. Or am I being racist in assuming that? Do I get to recognize racial correlations or are only liberals allowed to do that? I read the news. I know affirmative action helped get them in. Maybe some of them had better grades than me, but I'll always have doubts as to whether they weren't given a little boost. And I know that if I only got in because of my race or because my daddy gave big money to the university, I'd be ashamed.
Yes, sadly, ss saying that "all the blacks that went to my college got in with lower grades" is textbook racism, i.e., you see someone's skin color and assume inferiority. The affirmative action discussion is a long one, certainly deserving of more space than a paragraph in a post, but I will tell you, this summary is widely off-mark. In school admissions, much more than grades or scores are taken into consideration. For instance, I bet many of the varsity athletes on the football or basketball teams had lower scores or grades than you, but they contribute enormous value to the school. I bet some of the kids of alumni of your school, similarly, scored lower or performed less well than you, but their presence has a value -- of course you can't see legacy or athleticism, so you stick your nose up and cast blame at skin color or gender, because you can see those. That is not a flaw of affirmative action that beneficiaries need be ashamed of, it is a flaw of your character that you should be ashamed of.
Racism is insiduous and you will constantly miss out on meaningful relationships with people if you assume that because they are black and happen to have made it to the same classrooms or offices as you, they are inferior beneficiaries of affirmative action. Why not assume that the same admissions officers that thought that you had something to offer, also saw that same potential in your classmates and try to learn something from them?
I have received countless opportunities due to affirmative action polices, but I can also tell you that I have never scored below the top ninety percentile of any standardized test I have ever taken, including APs, SATS, LSATs and the NY Bar Exam. My grades have also always been stellar. But without affirmative action policies that encouraged advertising of certain programs in my neighborhood that I would never have even known to apply for despite being amply qualified or that provided funding for after school activities like chess or debate (not usually found in the ECB), I would never have discovered my particular strengths or passion for either.
why do Asians succeed? They succeed because they don't think they're helpless victims. They assume the world is their oyster and they go out and thrive, despite racism. Why doesn't the left act with the same alacrity to jump to the defense of Asian-Americans when there's a racist Asian stereotype on TV? 'Cause, even though Asians know racism exists, they don't get hopeless over their misfortune. They just keep succeeding. The Democrats can't get a solid Asian vote because liberals can't convince Asians that they're oppressed.
Again, this rehash of the "good Asian" stereotype is classic racism, despite the "positive" tilt of it. Your stereotype does not seem to include the many Chinese immigrants languishing in tenements in lower Manhattan or those who work in sweatshops and slave-like conditions all over this country. Sadly, many don't have a voice because of language barriers, but also because of this steoreotypical mentality. Fortunately, that is beginning to change, lawmakers in Chinatown, for instance, have begun to mobilize the shop owners and residents in the area to demand that federal funds designated for lower Manhattan also apply to Chinatown (geographically it's ludicrous that they even had to wage that fight, but culturally it's par for the course that the Asian community is forgotten.) Recently, Asian-American activists have been quite succesful in ending racist campaigns by Abercrombie and Fitch and magazines that perpetuate Asian stereotypes. It's not about being "hopeless" it's about being aware and active.
Blacks are indeed oppressed. And it is racism. But the oppressor is not the conservatives who want to take away affirmative action. They're oppressed by white liberals who insist on "helping" those who "can't help themselves." They're oppressed by other blacks who see the Democratic party as their gravy train and who resent conservative blacks who risk derailing it. It's sad. And you'll probably call me racist.
Until everyone is afforded equal opprotunities and subject to equal penalties, people will always be oppressed. If they are mobilized and informed they will always vote for the party or politician that can best afford them that equal opportunity. For me that means voting for the Democrat. The oppressor is not conservatives or white liberals, "the oppressor" are fill-in-the-blank-ists who take actions to worsen peoples lives because of their race, creed, color, religion,sexual orientation or gender. If you let these racist views guide who you hire (if you're in a position to hire) or who you accept, then the oppressor, is you.
These weeks are always a tough transition for TV junkies. The good shows have either ended their runs permanently or for the summer. The herculean efforts made during the season to record or watch every episode of 15 or more shows, makes watching reruns unbearably embarrassing.
So what's a girl to do? Surf around for new fare, of course!
Last night's sampling included "Come to Papa" a "new" "comedy" from stand-up comedian Tom Papa.
Not really new because it steals shamelessly from the likes of "Just Shoot Me," "King of Queens," and, God help us all "Suddenly Susan." Ugly guy lives with decent looking wife while writing for newspaper and working for a crazy boss.
Not really "comedy" because the episode about the old man burning down his store didn't make me laugh once. Not once. Even Steve Carrell was uncharacteristically (damn, that's a long word) unfunny.
It was the longest three hours of tv of my life....until....
Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Every few months or so I "give this show another chance." Certain of my friends, whose judgment in funniness I highly respect, think this series is pure comic genius. I usually watch, stone-faced and bored (and believe me, I laugh at anything remotely funny. I mean, there is one line from a Simpsons episode eight years ago, that still kills me...see I'm giggling right now...)
"Oooh look at me, I'm Larry David. I'm a misanthrope...ooh I said the wrong thing. Now, everyone stares at me."
Time and again I hear "Oh, you just saw a bad one. C'mon, give it another try you're going to love it."
But I don't -- after Come to Papa, I figured I was in the right mood to be wow'd by paint drying on the side of the house, so let's give Curb Your Enthusiasm another shot.
"oooh, I'm Larry David. Black people make me uncomfortable, so I'm going to say the wrong thing and people will stare at me. Now, I'm digging through the garbage."
For the love of Mary people, this show sucks. I know you all miss Seinfeld, but this show ain't it. (Frankly, even Seinfeld wasn't all that in the last two years...)
Actually, that Robert Wuhl show that comes on after CYE is much, much better....not good, but better.
I guess it's time to start... umm... reading?
Unless one of them is "really crappy video for this song," which at least would be refreshing honesty, this ranks as the worst Jay-Z song and video ever.
FYI, not that this site provides legal advice that anyone should use in lieu of consulting a lawyer, if you're stopped for speeding, no cop's going to care how tightly locked your trunk is.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Teen kills baby conceived with her brother; she faces murder charges, he faces incest charges:
PORT ARTHUR, Texas (AP)--A teenager impregnated his younger sister, who later killed the baby and hid the body in a duffel bag in her closet, authorities said.
Prosecutors said the girl, now 16, had a sexual relationship with her brother, 19, and conceived a baby boy born at home in November. She is accused of smothering the baby.
The birth was discovered when the girl needed treatment at a hospital.
The girl has been charged in juvenile court with murder. Prosecutors are seeking to try her as an adult. The maximum sentence in juvenile court is 40 years, while in the adult system she could get life in prison.
The brother faces trial in September on incest charges and could get two to 10 years in prison. He is free on bail.