Monday, December 31, 2007

2008: Are We Ready?

Happy New Year, Mindy McCready!

And to Sara Jane Moore!

Let's see if we can all stay out of trouble in '08.

Would I Lie to You?

I was tagged by Phydeaux to present you with seven facts distortions lies about me.

1. The happiest year of my life was in 1987 when I worked as a greeter at Wal-Mart for about six months. Unfortunately, I was discharged after it was discovered that I was stealing women's lingerie. (Hell, I couldn't afford to buy it on my income.)

2. I used to perform as a cross-dressing lip-synching stripper at a gay club in Little Rock. The big crowd-pleaser was my greased pole routine.

3. As a teen I was once thrown out of the public library by the librarian who threatened to call the police if she ever saw me in there again. All I was doing was making out with a friend of mine in a corner. Oh, and I had taken some of my clothes off.

4. I received a brief phone call from President Reagan thanking me for my efforts after someone on his staff learned that I had set up a Reagan for President headquarters in my hometown when I was 19. It was big news because there were probably only 2 Republicans in the entire county.

5. I got really drunk at a party in London and fell out of a 2nd floor window, hitting an awning before rolling onto a sack of garbage which probably kept me from having serious injuries. Some guy helped me back on my feet and asked me if I needed any help. I realized later that person was Boy George. If only I could return the favor.

6. I am self-taught in reading and writing Samoan. And for no reason other than I thought it might come in handy some day.

7. In 1979 I visited a pen-pal in Germany. He lived very close to the East German border. He drove me to the border area so I could see it. As a joke, I jumped out of the car and ran towards a guard tower, pretending like I needed asylum. The guard fired two shots in the air and I soiled my trousers.

Actually, there is a grain of truth in 6 of the 7 lies, but only a grain. Some of the situations were true, but the facts are grossly distorted and essentially one big lie. Any ideas which one is a complete fabrication?

A le tonu lau tali o le a ou ita.

Tag yourself, if you are so inclined. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemies!

Farewell to 2007

Thanks for all the turmoil and upheaval. What would a year be without it? Peaceful?

We'll know early tomorrow whether the election in Pakistan will be delayed.
Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, like Bhutto also a former prime minister, said Monday that the election should be held Jan. 8, while also saying Musharraf should resign and be replaced by a national unity government.

"He is a one-man calamity. He is responsible for all the trouble in Pakistan. The country is burning," Sharif said.

Kenya really showed the rest of the world the importance of voting. And President Mwai Kibaki must feel pretty damn good right now. Because when you get 115% of the vote in a precinct, you must be doing something right!
Suspicions over rigging were fueled by the fact that the opposition took most of the parliamentary seats in Thursday's vote, but Kibaki still won the election.

As our little world spins today, 2008 arrives slowly but surely. And aside from a numerical difference, we can probably expect a lot more of the same.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pretty in Pink

Our wireless contracts are up this month so we're eligible to replace our phones for free -- well, close to free. I've been having issues with my battery staying charged for more than 24 hours so I'm eager to get the new phone.

I'm also adding my mother onto our plan. She's never had a cellphone and since she's approaching her mid-80s and still drives, this will give her some added peace of mind. She's getting a blue one.

My old one is silver and I'm going for black this time. txrad had a black one and he going for this now:

We are soooo gay. And we do like to challenge the silly antiquated correlation between gender and certain colors. Real men can like pink. It's OK. Besides, he'll look very sexy using this phone while wearing his new glasses with the very dark blue frames. And he seems to have determined that those are also women's frames as well.

Mercy, what is the world coming to. We queers cannot stay within our designated confines.

This Road Leads To Life

For 18 years of my life, this was the only way out. It was the road I would travel to school, to get groceries, visit friends, have my teeth cleaned, or go to the library. It was the road to Little Rock, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Austin. It was the road to the world. This road has lead to pleasure and pain, sorrow and joy, proud accomplishments and colossal mistakes.

2008 will mark 30 years since I journeyed down this road, leaving behind one life to go in search of where I am right now. And in a few days, I will travel back to this road, and stand in this exact spot. I will stare at this road through the same eyes I had as a child and marvel at where this road leads. I will embrace each gentle breeze and absorb the silence. I will feel no pleasure and no pain. I will have no joy or sorrow. I will feel no pride or shame. For a few moments, I will unplug and disconnect. When I am done, I will leave nothing behind nor will I take anything away except for a clear understanding of my own personal concept of Ground Zero.

Then I will start my engine, shift into drive, and travel this road again, slowly, wondering where it will lead next.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Most Irritating Headline Today

Is this one. (Click the graphic to view the story.)


There is seriously something wrong and flagrantly undemocratic about our election process if Iowa can "make or break Democrats."
While the state has long played a key role in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee, it has unparalleled influence this year, even after several larger states moved up their contests to try and muscle in. Those efforts have done little more than compress the calendar into a five-week sprint that ends with the multistate primary Feb. 5 — strengthening Iowa's position as the leadoff caucus state rather than diminishing it.

Even New Hampshire, which holds the first primary of the season, has seen its once-mighty position diminished somewhat by Iowa's outsized role this time.

The United States has 300 million people and Iowans represent about 1% of that total, and New Hampshire about half as much.

If these two states have that much influence over who stays and who goes, then it's obvious we need an overhaul. And here's just one reason why:
Trailing in the polls, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd have also concentrated nearly all their resources in Iowa in hopes of scoring an upset.

This is soooo not right. So, what's the value of the preferences of the other 98.5% of us who don't have the luxury of being able to stack the deck for the rest of the country? And Iowa doesn't exactly reflect the ethnicity or the concerns of the nation as a whole.

We should have one primary which includes all 50 states. All at once. And if that's not an option for whatever reason, then at least limit us to 3 primaries. Take the 20 least-populated states and have a primary, following up a week later with a second primary consisting of the next 20 least-populous states, and finish off the following week with the final ten. Give everyone a shot at this. Because nothing, absolutely nothing pisses me off as much as going to vote in my primary after my candidate already dropped out 6 weeks earlier due to a defeat in Iowa or New Hampshire.

At least all the candidates wouldn't need to be spreading limited resources trying to convince 2.9 million Iowans why they should tell the rest of the country who is best equipped to lead our nation.

We need to fix this. And then we need to address the electoral college, which happens to be the next kink in my political chain.

Another Non-Surprise

I can only think of one thing less surprising than the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and this is it.
The Islamic militant group blamed by officials for the attack that killed Bhutto denied any links to the killing on Saturday, and Bhutto's aides accused the government of a cover-up.

President Pervez Musharraf ordered his security chiefs to quell rioting by Bhutto's grieving followers that has killed at least 44 people over three days and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

"Criminals should stop their despicable activities, otherwise they will have to face serious consequences," Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said.


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that an international probe was vital because there was "no reason to trust the Pakistani government," while others called for a U.N. investigation.

Cheema dismissed the suggestion.

"This is not an ordinary criminal matter in which we require assistance of the international community. I think we are capable of handling it," he said. An independent judicial investigation should be completed within seven days of the appointment of its presiding judge, he said.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Pakistan had not asked the United States for help.

"It's a responsibility of the government of Pakistan to ensure that the investigation is thorough. If Pakistani authorities ask for assistance we would review the request," he said.

I have no doubt they are "capable of handling it." Yeah, right.

Pop a Cork for konagod

A milestone has been reached.

About 9:22 AM CST today, I had my 50,000th visitor -- someone from Charlotte, NC.

I will be drinking a shot to you tonight.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Location is Everything

Friday Pussy Blog: The Money Pit Edition

A couple of weeks ago when I did the Cat Box Edition, Rebecca had sent me a cute photo of Gidget in Rebecca's sheet music bag. I already had my blog post up so I'm adding this as a late entry to that post.

One of the reasons I love using Quicken to track my spending is so I can put my finger on specifics within a matter of seconds. My year-to-date expenses in the category of "Pet Supplies" is $605.22 which is about a third of what I spent on utilities this year -- utilities being electricity usage, water, garbage collection and recycling pickup. And those are after-tax dollars.

It's safe to say I need to earn $1,000 to properly care for my felines during the year. Another way of looking at it is that $1,000 goes in the mouth, out the ass, and eventually into the dumpster. Some of it goes in the mouth, stays in the stomach a short while and then comes back out of the mouth. But in general it's a point A to point B trip.

No feline is better equipped to illustrate this than Tater Tot.

Some of my money is heavily invested in the Tater Tot Bank and Trust where it earns a reasonable rate of interest.

But there is never a penalty for early withdrawal, and twice a week I take out bags of money for disposal.

I always know when it's time to make a deposit because the feline dance will be in progress. Tater Tot and Sweet Pea, on opposite sides of the glass, have a common desire.

We had a bit of canine drama this afternoon when I started writing this post. I had left the garage door open after lunch -- and that's not usually a problem if the neighbors would obey the fucking law and keep their dogs fenced in rather than allowing them to roam the neighborhood.

Four very large dogs came into the garage and entered our fenced back yard via a door from the garage which we we keep opened enough to allow our outside cats to have access to the garage. txrad and I ran out trying to have a canine round-up and after a few minutes we were successful.

I have no idea where Sweet Pea is. He had been relaxing in a sunny spot on the ground prior to the canine fracas. But I did find poor old Tiger high up in a tree next to the garage. I had to use the zoom lens to get this shot. He's probably about 20 feet up the tree. I hope it's as easy getting down as it was getting up.

I waited about 45 minutes before posting this and I'm happy to report both cats have come back down to earth and are both in the contented & meditative Cat Loaf position. Whew!

Happy Friday everyone!

This Is Not a Perch

I must have known while growing up that Bayou Bartholomew was the world's longest bayou. I forgot that fact and was reminded while doing research for this post.

One of the bends in the curvaceous bayou approached the western end of our farm. My brother said he used to wade around in it while hunting and fishing. Not me.

I have issues with murky water, especially murky water filled with cypress trees. You won't ever catch me in it, and I don't particularly like being in a boat in such nasty waters. But the bayou is popular with local folks who like to fish.
Over 100 species of fish have been found in Bayou Bartholomew making it the second most diverse stream in North America with regards to fish. The first inhabitants were the Native Americans.

Aside from the fact that my biggest fear of either snakes or other carnivorous reptiles has been eclipsed by this catch, I seriously think this could jeopardize many of the other species found in the bayou, if there are indeed more of these.

Although this bayou is about 359 miles long, this particular fish was caught in the general vicinity of where I grew up.

Fisherman catches strange fish.
Manard Whiffle of Dermott, Arkansas poses with fish he hooked while fishing Bayou Bartholomew, south of Seven Devils Swamp. Interviewing Mr. Whiffle, he stated, "I've caught a lot of strange things out of that old bayou, but it's the first time I caught a perch this big with teeth".

An Arkansas Fish and Game official arrived and took possession ot the animal and stated, "this is not a perch. People with fish tanks have got to quit dumping them in our streams and lakes."

Yes, please. Because there's already enough to worry about while navigating through the swamps.

Hispanic Business Owners Unfairly Targeted in Northwest Arkansas

Northwest Arkansas has always been a Republican stronghold while the rest of the state usually swings the opposite direction. Not surprisingly, aside from some diversity in the Fayetteville area, thanks to the University of Arkansas, the area has always been overwhelmingly white and bland -- particularly Benton County just north of Fayetteville, home base of Wal-Mart.

For the past decade or so, population growth in the region has been staggering. More people, more jobs, and with that, an influx of people bringing much-needed change to the area. Sadly, multi-cultural acceptance doesn't seem to be one of the changes.

One Hispanic family establishing a chain of Mexican restaurants in the area are experiencing some rather unpleasant harassment. From the Morning News:
“To lose one’s home and/or livelihood and to be unfairly characterized as criminals for mistakes in accounting practices is not only unfair, it is entirely irresponsible,” according to a news release handed out Thursday morning before a hearing involving Arturo Reyes Jr. and Silvia Reyes.


Jim Miranda, a self-described minority rights activist, said the recently implemented 287(g) program was sold to the people of Northwest Arkansas as a tool to help law enforcement tackle serious, violent crime such as human trafficking, drug dealing and gang activity. But, so far, officials have used it to unfairly target Hispanic-owned businesses, he said.


Miranda was particularly critical of the government’s use of informants, which he said pits neighbor against neighbor and creates a climate of fear and suspicion in the community. He also criticized the conduct of task force officers, accusing an unnamed officer of going through an old woman’s purse and taking the few dollars it contained.

Miranda also said families have been terrorized and seniors have had their doors busted in, their assets seized and their homes threatened with forfeiture.

Immigration officials had no comment on the allegations or the Acambaro case Thursday.

Are Mexican restaurants welcome in the area, but only if their owners are white Americans? Seriously, this reeks of an official government effort to drive non-whites from the region.

And if you seek additional disgust with people's attitudes, read the comments at the end of the article. Here's a taste, but I'm not about to read them all. I'm disgusted enough already.
Reyes and his family were breaking laws in the very country they decided to take advantage of. And they got busted as a result. Good for the police.

The amount of hate in this country, and especially those who fan its flames, are what threatens our very foundation, and it would be refreshing to see all the presidential candidates -- Democrats and Republicans -- address it as a serious issue. Not likely to happen. It's way more fun to blame the ills of our crumbling society on gays and lesbians trying to legally marry.

But we are clearly moving in the same direction as so many other less stable nations which are afflicted with chaos, with various ethnic groups pitted against one another. We are lost and speeding down the wrong road. There's still time to correct this, but we don't seem very inclined to make the effort.

I know for a fact my accounting practices with my old business were far from accurate and I could not afford a professional accountant. And I will not face harassment or the risk of having my home or assets seized as a result. It helps to be white. You get cut a lot of slack.

Maine: The Whitest State May Stay That Way

I frequently fall into the trap of assuming that red states are bastions of intolerance while blue states are a liberal oasis. Of course, that is a messy and inaccurate assumption based on broad generalizations. Take Maine for instance: Less than 1% of Maine's population is black, and that's apparently too many for some.
In October, the N.A.A.C.P. chapter for northern Maine got shocking news. A man from a nearby town had threatened to shoot “any and all black persons” attending the group’s meetings at an old stone church here, and state prosecutors were worried enough to seek a restraining order.
“It’s discouraging and it’s heart-wrenching,” said Joseph Perry, president of the chapter, which has 175 members from Augusta to the Canadian border. “There are still people who aren’t comfortable, who don’t feel safe.”

The man who made the threat was Kendrick Sawyer, 75, whose doctor at a veterans hospital in Augusta reported it to the police. Mr. Sawyer also said that Maine “should be a ‘white’ state,” according to court documents, and that he owned a .45-caliber handgun. No criminal charges have been filed, but law enforcement officers removed the gun from Mr. Sawyer’s home in Brewer, across a river from Bangor, and the Maine attorney general’s office filed a civil complaint against him.

Unfortunately, racism in Maine isn't limited to this single crackpot. The assistant attorney general for civil rights education and enforcement said his office gets between 250 and 300 bias incidents reported each year. Some of these are outrageously savage.
Many come from Lewiston, where more than 3,000 Somali immigrants have settled in recent years. In July 2006, a group of Somalis were worshiping in a storefront mosque there when a white man rolled the head of a pig, an animal considered unclean in Islam, across the floor. And last month, a Somali student at Lewiston High School said, a white man threw sand and dirt in his face as he ran at a cross-country meet.

Last year, a white man shouted racial slurs at a pregnant black woman in Hancock, near Bangor, and kicked her in the abdomen, according to Mr. Harnett’s office. And in March, Assata Sherrill, a black resident of Bangor, told the police that three white boys had thrown stones and shouted racial epithets at her as she walked her dog near the city’s waterfront.

I would venture to guess the white man who kicked the pregnant black woman in the abdomen would consider himself a pro-lifer, as long as the life worth saving happens to be white.

And not to suggest that any of these incidents are worse than the other, but Jesus Christ! Making life more miserable for Somali immigrants who came to these shores for safety is sinking to the lowest depths of depravity. Not surprisingly, many blacks in Maine (what few there are) want to escape.
Ms. Sherrill — who lives here with her teenage daughter, a high school senior who “hates every minute of it” and wants to attend historically black Spelman College in Atlanta — says she moved to Maine from Detroit in search of tranquillity. After the attack on her, she organized a series of community forums to discuss race issues in Maine. This month she held an alternative Kwanzaa celebration after Mr. Sawyer’s threat led the N.A.A.C.P. to cancel its larger version.

“I’m not about to stop living and holding celebrations because somebody else is sick,” Ms. Sherrill said. “As long as your skin is black and you live in the United States of America, you are going to be confronted.”

Here we are in the 21st century and, if your skin is black, tranquility is elusive.

Bhutto Is Buried

Photo credit: Harish Tyagi/European Pressphoto Agency

Pakistan has had lots of unrest in the past 24 hours and there remains much uncertainty about how things will progress in the near future. WaPo
"If there's a lot more violence, then it's possible the whole democratic process will be derailed," political analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi said.

Other observers saw glimmers of conciliation. "This can turn into anarchy," said Talat Masood, a retired general and political analyst. "Or it can turn into something Benazir Bhutto could not achieve in life but may achieve in death. It could provide the momentum needed for a return to the rule of law and democracy. It could go either way."

The News Analysis piece by Helene Cooper and Steven Lee Myers in the NY Times is far from optimistic.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto on Thursday left in ruins the delicate diplomatic effort the Bush administration had pursued in the past year to reconcile Pakistan’s deeply divided political factions. Now it is scrambling to sort through ever more limited options, as American influence on Pakistan’s internal affairs continues to decline.


The assassination highlighted, in spectacular fashion, the failure of two of President Bush’s main objectives in the region: his quest to bring democracy to the Muslim world, and his drive to force out the Islamist militants who have hung on tenaciously in Pakistan, the nuclear-armed state considered ground zero in President Bush’s fight against terrorism, despite the administration’s long-running effort to root out Al Qaeda from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

I just hope we don't start 2008 with yet another out-of-control crisis in the region. However, optimism is difficult to maintain these days.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Pissing Contest. How Presidential.

Benazir Bhutto's body is barely cold and the 2008 contenders for the White House are already measuring their national security dicks. And I have come to the conclusion that Rudy is fucking N.V.T.S. nuts!
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan jolted the race for the White House on Thursday, sending candidates in both parties scrambling for political advantage while condemning the attack.


Giuliani issued a statement that said the assassination was further evidence that the United States needs to increase its efforts against terrorism — and he began running an a new TV ad focusing on the Sept. 11 attacks.

The "war on terror" is a recipe for a bankrupt nation, and I can only assume that increased efforts go hand in hand with increased funding.

How many nations do we need to occupy to defeat terrorism?

And the Bloggers Have Spoken

Jon Swift did a pretty amazing job of soliciting bloggers for what they feel were their best blog posts of 2007, and assembling the list. And this is why we love Jon's humor.
I think this round-up reflects what is best about the blogosphere -- that it gives so many talented people a chance to express themselves and makes it so much easier for the government to know who to arrest first in case of a national emergency.

Swing on over there and check it out.

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated in Pakistan

And there will be hell to pay. On so many levels.
Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at the end of a campaign rally, aides said.


"At 6:16 p.m. she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.

Her supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog, Musharraf, dog," referring to Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf.

Expect plenty of unrest.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Message From Brett Dennen

Red State/Blue State: Capital Punishment

As Phydeaux noted in the comments of this post, Texas is responsible for 60% of executions in the U.S.

Thankfully, the New York Times seized an opportunity to report on this with a front page article in today's edition.
But enthusiasm for executions outside of Texas has dropped sharply. Of the 42 executions in the last year, 26 were in Texas. The remaining 16 were spread across nine other states, none of which executed more than three people. Many legal experts say the trend will probably continue.

Indeed, said David R. Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston who has represented death-row inmates, the day is not far off when essentially all executions in the United States will take place in Texas.

“The reason that Texas will end up monopolizing executions,” he said, “is because every other state will eliminate it de jure, as New Jersey did, or de facto, as other states have.”

And when virtually all executions in the U.S. are taking place in one state, this has got to raise a few eyebrows, particularly in the Supreme Court.

Pardon the poor quality of this graphic. Click here for a clearer version.

The countries in blue have abolished the death penalty entirely, while the countries shaded in brick red maintain the death penalty for certain crimes. And it's quite clear the United States is not among the progressive leaders of the world on this issue. In fact, we are bedded down with some of the most horrific purveyers of death on the planet.

From Wiki:
Executions are known to have been carried out in the following 25 countries in 2006:

Bahrain, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, North Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, the United States of America, Vietnam, Yemen.

And as mentioned in the Wiki entry, 91% of worldwide executions were carried out in only six of these countries. The U.S. was 6th in the list contributing to that 91% total -- thanks in very large part to Texas.

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Krishnamas

Merry, merry, quite contrary,
How did your shopping go?
With carts piled high, filled with crap you shouldn't buy,
And cashiers all in a row.

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

And a trashy white Austin Christmas to bring you good cheer:

Monday, December 24, 2007


This is dedicated to all my peeps who have that white stuff on the ground. Brrrr!

Overnight Sensations

I don't think I have ever awakened in the middle of the night wishing I could go to Macys. (I'm lucky if I make it to the bathroom.) However, that has been an option for New Yorkers this weekend.
It was at a slightly more reasonable hour (shortly after 2 a.m.) that a Brooklyn man in a Jets T-shirt, Luis Negron, 40, strolled through the first-floor men’s department at Macy’s Herald Square on Saturday. The store was in the middle of an 83-hour holiday shopping marathon, opening its doors Friday at 7 a.m. and keeping them open until Monday at 6 p.m., the first time that Macy’s 105-year-old flagship store on West 34th Street has been open around the clock.

I suspect Macys might be having slower sales this year, and this gimmick is more about trying to squeeze the last bit of juice from their lemons rather than offering real convenience to people who work odd hours and shop odd hours.
Mr. Negron and other shoppers, many of whom said they worked night shifts, seemed appreciative, even downright grateful, that one of the city’s busiest stores was reaching out to their often-overlooked demographic: night-owl procrastinators. They disputed the old saw about the city that never sleeps.

“You can’t go shopping,” Mr. Negron said of New York’s usual nighttime options. “Sometimes when you get out of work there is nothing open. Do you know how many times I’ve bought my wife birthday presents at Walgreens or Eckerd? It’s embarrassing. It’s either that or go to the Village, and what am I going to get, a bong?”

Hey, what's wrong with a bong? Be sure to load it up though. Otherwise it's like getting the latest electronic gadget but forgetting to include the batteries. And we all remember how much fun that was on Christmas morning.
“That’s a really classic watch,” a clerk told a woman trying on a watch at 2:43 a.m. A few minutes later, another woman, clutching two shopping bags, talked on her cellphone while stepping onto one of the store’s old wooden escalators. “It’s the city,” said another shopper with a shrug, as she stood at a bank of cash registers on the seventh floor. “Everybody’s up this late.” Everybody, that is, except for the boy who slept soundly in the stroller she was pushing.

Crazy. And who the hell was the woman talking to on her cellphone at 3:00 a.m.?

Needless to say, you can't be open all night without having the de rigueur "B.W.I." episode.
At this hour, there were instances of what might be called B.W.I., or buying while intoxicated. One man with an unlighted cigarette in his mouth had trouble standing while trying to purchase some items at a designer handbag counter. He leaned on his two female friends for support. After the cashier rang up the items, he was told the amount: $884.

“Why?” he muttered. His mood seemed to sour, and he and his friends mumbled to one another and left without buying the handbags.

What I find most amusing this holiday season is the trend of "reverse shoplifting," or "shopdropping." I'm about to do some of that by taking a load to Goodwill, but shopdropping is a bit different in that the stores are unknowing recipients of merchandise. Pretty funny stuff.
Otherwise known as reverse shoplifting, shopdropping involves surreptitiously putting things in stores, rather than illegally taking them out, and the motivations vary.

Anti-consumerist artists slip replica products packaged with political messages onto shelves while religious proselytizers insert pamphlets between the pages of gay-and-lesbian readings at book stores.

I can only imagine how many gays and lesbians are going to experience a conversion as a result of this practice. "Oh my goodness! I can't buy this book now; I'll go to hell!"

But I seriously would like to get my hands on one of these anarchist action figures; it would be a nice complement to my Anarchist Cookbook.
But Packard Jennings does. An artist who lives in Oakland, Calif., he said that for the last seven months he had been working on a new batch of his Anarchist action figure that he began shopdropping this week at Target and Wal-Mart stores in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“When better than Christmas to make a point about hyper-consumerism?” asked Mr. Jennings, 37, whose action figure comes with tiny accessories including a gas mask, bolt cutter, and two Molotov cocktails, and looks convincingly like any other doll on most toy-store shelves. Putting it in stores and filming people as they try to buy it as they interact with store clerks, Mr. Jennings said he hoped to show that even radical ideology gets commercialized. He said for safety reasons he retrieves the figures before customers take them home.

What if I found one in a store and stole it, if it didn't belong to the store in the first place? Would that make me a shoplifter? Not by my definition.

Monday Is The First Day Of My Week

Having been raised in a Christian family, Sundays always had special significance as the day of worship and rest from work. "Six days shalt thou labour" was something drilled into my head from childhood. Back in the 60s and 70s, I recall my mother being very uncomfortable going into a store on Sunday to buy something.

Being a rebel at an early age, it should come as no surprise that I used to question why so many people had Saturdays off from work. Not that I would complain later in life when I moved into the workforce. But it did serve to reinforce my belief that many religious people pick and choose the scripture to which they adhere while dismissing those which are deemed inconvenient as if religion was akin to ordering à la carte from a menu.

I never understood the logic of Sundays being referred to as the first day of the week while simultaneously referred to often as the 7th day . Why should the weekend be broken in half? kona needs things logical and simple.

I guess it was a natural that I would eventually become employed in some aspect of the heathen television broadcasting industry which uses a very un-Judeo-Christian broadcast calendar in which every week starts on a Monday, and the vast majority of months begin in the last week of the prior month.

Those of us using the standard broadcast calendar are in a world of our own. 2008 begins on December 31st this year. December began on November 26. And Sunday didn't turn into Monday at midnight this morning. It was still Sunday when I woke up at 5:45, but it was Monday by the time the coffee finished brewing a few minutes after 6:00.

Nice and simple.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fearing the Gender Police

RachelPhilPa has a deeply moving and personal post up at Shakesville describing her daily anxieties as a trans person. It goes without saying that even those of us who have made efforts to educate ourselves will forever be challenged to completely understand the hardships and the harassment they face from people who don't have a clue, and don't wish to learn -- the ones who live happily in their ignorance and bigotry.

And while Rachel writes so beautifully on the subject, it is the subject itself which is so disturbing and mindboggling. While I can certainly understand the policephobia (there's probably a term for that) since I tend to have it, I am certain few of us are ever reminded of a major source of trans anxiety each and every time we use a public restroom.

I think her idea of maintaining a "harassment log" on her blog is one of the best ideas I've heard all year.

Go forth and read. Because life is way more complex than this:

My Best Blog Post Of 2007

No, this isn't it.

Jon Swift is surveying bloggers to assemble a collection of their best posts of the year and has asked me to participate.

I'm stumped. Help!

It hasn't really been a productive year for me with the job workload and then subsequent anxiety about losing the job for the past 4 months. I've just scanned through my monthly archives for 2007 and found a few that I like, but I have no idea how to define my "best."

Do I go with personal stories like Meet the Grandparents or one of my rants against stupidity with Press 1 for ignorant bigotry?

Marketing Meat was a fun one. America's Culture of Death was far more serious.

Our oil dependency comes up frequently, as does our wasteful spending, which was the only post of mine linked from Crooks & Liars this year. That carries some weight.

Size Does Matter and my recent rambling obituary to a street musician I knew from Arkansas.

If you have another favorite you think I should select, feel free to drop a comment. You search this blog by putting in any key words you remember in the Blogger search box at the top of this blog. Typing in "lizard" for instance will take you to the Lizard in my pants post.

There were other posts that I feel were worthy. Unfortunately, a lot of them link to outside sources of news and the links no longer work, so I'm excluding those from consideration.

I'm actually very fond of "Size Does Matter" but I am having trouble deciding.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Worship The Giant Sperm Wad In The Sky

Maybe the post title says it all. I was outside last night, probably intoxicated (OK, very intoxicated) and txrad was taking pictures of the nearly-full moon just prior to the Winter Solstice, and this was one of the images on my camera this morning.

The Solstice arrived with a vengeance today, bringing a very nice day, but uncomfortably gusty winds, and probably a freeze tonight.

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don't It?

This makes me very glad I'm not flying during the holidays. This is the scene from O'Hare in Chicago. One airport. One day. One moment. I'm sure it replayed many times in every airport.

God, we Americans have a lot of stuff!

And let's not forget a pair of security tips:

•Remember, food items are subject to screening. Pumpkin pie (which has a gel-like consistency) and fruitcakes (which are very dense) are allowed, but may require extra screening.

•Dress the part. You'll have to take off your shoes, coats and any bulky sweaters and sweatshirts before screening.

So what exactly does extra screening of a pumpkin pie entail?

And the second one should probably read: "UNdress the part."

Save time, fly naked.

Friday, December 21, 2007

kona's Huggy Feely Squishy Moment

This blog will never be any one's source for news or political commentary. I throw up (pun intended) news that yanks my chain, put in my two-cents worth, and move on. I mainly just try to have fun here and be more entertaining than anything else. And vent.

So I wanted to take a brief moment to thank ALL of the visitors who come here intentionally, or stumble across it, from time to time. It certainly wouldn't be quite as much fun -- nor would I take it quite so seriously if I was getting 10-15 visitors daily.

My SiteMeter took a rather nasty spill this year when I started working full-time out of the house. My visitor counts dwindled and finally settled in around 50 per day -- and that's not bad. After getting nominated for the Best of the Rest 8751+ in November, the number of visitors started to increase dramatically, the same as last year when this blog was nominated for Best New Blog. Only this year, there has not yet been a drop in daily visitors after the fact.

In the TTLB Ecosystem, I've been hovering near, and occasionally in, the Slithering Reptiles category, and then slipping back to the Crawly Amphibians. If nothing else, I prefer to be out of the water, and slithering rather than crawling. Unless I'm a crawling king snake. That's acceptable.

At the time I'm writing this, my ranking is #8845. Prior to and during the Weblog Awards, I was in the 10,500-12,000 range. So I'm proud of what I have done. And I'm proud that visitors still come here, for whatever reason. And my daily visitor counts have remained fairly steady at around 150. That's a huge jump from 50!

So, I just wanted to thank you all, and invite you to delurk and say hi. Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Let 2008 rock out loud.

And now this slithering reptile would like to play some music. Jim, on his deathbed.

And John Lee Hooker, laying it down.

Friday Pussy Blog: The Lap Cat Edition

Tater Tot was helping me with my Zappadan post this morning. I think he wants to be a blogger in his next life.

Digging into the kona archives (November, 2002) for these next two. txrad giving Jezebel some lap action.

And him with Samantha. She loved to be cradled like a baby.

Until next week, Happy Friday! Happy Holidays! And let's hope none of us ever wake up to this sight.

Zappadan Draws To A Close

Interviewer: "So Frank, you have long hair. Does that make you a woman?"
FZ: "You have a wooden leg. Does that make you a table?"

The creation and destruction of harmonic and 'statistical' tensions is essential to the maintenance of compositional drama. Any composition (or improvisation) which remains consonant and 'regular' throughout is, for me, equivalent to watching a movie with only 'good guys' in it, or eating cottage cheese.

Frank Zappa was born on this day in 1940. Thus endeth another celebration of Zappadan.

Schmuckabee Quotes

Huck is in Iowa busily reminding everyone about Christ. Here's a few jewels for your reading pleasure.

“I know this is probably a very controversial thing, but may I say to you, Merry Christmas!”


“What’s wrong with our country, what is wrong with our culture, is that you can’t say the name Jesus Christ without people going completely berserk.”


“Wait till all these aging hippies find out they’ll get free drugs for the rest of their lives.”

Imagine, if you will, what life in the USA might be like in 2012 after four years of a Huckabee administration. That's enough to get people going "completely berserk."

And Huck, I can't speak for all aging hippies, but unless you are planning to legalize the growing of marijuana, your humor doesn't mean much to me. I'm really not interested in free pharmaceuticals.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Free the West Memphis Three

I cannot believe the West Memphis Three haven't been released after I read an article in the New York Times back on October 30, which essentially proved (to me at least) that all three of them were innocent. They were victims of satanic panic.


Bold emphasis mine:
Supporters of the defendants hope the legal filing will provide the defense with a breakthrough. Two of the men, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, are serving life in prison, while one, Damien W. Echols, is on death row. There was no physical evidence linking the teenagers, now known as the West Memphis 3, to the crime.

“This is the first time that the evidence has ever really been tested,” said Gerald Skahan, a member of the defense team. “The first trial was pretty much a witch hunt.”

Brent Davis, the local prosecutor, did not respond to requests for comment about the new evidence and the case, but in general prosecutors and investigators have continued to express confidence in their investigation.

The story the defendants’ supporters have presented — of three misfits whose fondness for heavy-metal music made them police targets — has won the men the support of celebrities like Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Marilyn Manson and the creators of “South Park.” Many learned of the case through an HBO documentary, “Paradise Lost,” and a sequel.

The prosecution hinged on a confession riddled with factual errors and a Satanic cult expert with a mail-order degree. Mr. Echols’s own lawyer called him “weird” and “not the all-American boy.”

If being "weird" and "not the all-American boy" is all it takes to wind up on death row, then I belong there myself.

Thankfully, this injustice continues to gather attention, and Natalie Maines is involved, which hopefully will not prompt another round of CD burnings for the Dixie Chicks.

A Swarm of Contradicting Emotions

These last several weeks have been very strange in terms of my employment. It's one thing to be fired or laid off suddenly -- been there, done that. But it's quite another to be told 5 or 6 weeks ahead of time that your last day is December 28. And it's different again to find out this week that because the office has decided to close the entire week for the holidays, my last day will now be.. tomorrow.

There really hasn't been much work this month. I've spent several days during these weeks "working" from home which basically entails simply keeping an eye on emails. On the days when I have gone in, I've only stayed 3 or 4 hours -- going in around 10:00 and leaving by 2:00.

While this sounds lovely, and it has been on some level, it's also been stressful because I'm still attached and yet in a state of limbo, and that's how I've felt since August when I suspected my services might no longer be needed at the end of the year due to the probable loss of an enormous account.

It's an odd feeling knowing that I will drive in tomorrow for the sole purpose of being discharged. On one level I'm sad and emotional about it. No longer seeing my co-workers or working on an account which has been the highlight of my advertising career is a tough reality to face.

On another level, I'm absolutely thrilled to exit limboland, have some untethered downtime in January, and plot the path for the future which, at this moment, is about as uncertain (and scary) as driving in thick fog.

So I guess my current state of mind would best be described as sad, excited, and cautiously optimistic with a light dusting of fear. What a combo.

Rest in Pieces, O Great Smasher of Atoms

Smash it up.

Photo credit: Steve Duncan

Columbia University has decided to junk a 70-year-old atom smasher that is the nation’s oldest artifact of the nuclear era, ending weeks of internal debate and lobbying over its fate.


Covered by dust and graffiti, it weighs 30 tons and stands seven feet tall and 12 feet wide, its giant arms holding aloft a huge electromagnet that once helped guide subatomic particles and split atoms.

Actually, I'm sort of on the fence with this one. Many preservationists want to keep this historical "icon." Its contribution to the atom bomb, in my opinion, makes it about as deserving of presevation as the Berlin Wall.

“It’s an extremely important cultural icon,” David J. Brenner, a medical physicist at Columbia and the chairman of its radiation safety committee, said in an interview. “It represents one of Columbia’s biggest contributions to world history.”

On the other hand, I am open to persuasion. I do have a sentimental side.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Pefect Antidote for the 4-Hour Viagra-Induced Hard-On

Since dicks seem to be today's theme, it would have to be Time Magazine's Person of the Year. Thanks Petulant. That's as refreshing as a cold shower in December.

Photo credit: Dmitry Astakhov/AFP/Getty Images

Putin, 55, whose party recently won a big victory in parliamentary elections, is riding high on an oil-fueled economic boom and soaring popularity from a no-nonsense approach that has restored national pride with a big military build-up and verbal attacks on the West reminiscent of the Cold War.

We'll see where this is going soon enough.


Graphic source: FreakingNews.

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog

Penis Envy

Mother Nature must have it. This is way more entertaining than a Mary and Jesus pretzel.

Remember these from last June's garden blog post? Nature keeps on churning them out.

Keep away from the potato peeler. Ouch!

Via my bruddah.

Gay Civil Unions Advancing... Elsewhere

Hungary took a step in the direction of marriage equality, and so did Uruguay.

Neither law is perfect, but far ahead of the United States as a whole. In Uruguay:
Under the new law, gay and straight couples will be eligible to form civil unions after living together for five years. They will have rights similar to those granted to married couples on such matters as inheritance, pensions and child custody.

And in Hungary:
Registered couples will have the same rights as married heterosexual couples in inheritance, taxation and other financial matters.

But they will not be allowed to adopt children, unlike married couples.

Again, not perfect, but moving in the right direction. Put in a slightly different context, it was actually a crime for txrad and I to have sex in our own home in Texas until Lawrence v. Texas was overturned less than five years ago.

US Death Penalty Support Is Embarrassing

And look at our allies in this one.
In a vote that made for unusual alliances, the General Assembly passed, 104 to 54 with 29 abstentions, a nonbinding resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. Among the countries joining the United States in opposition to the European-led measure were Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Good company, America! Let's keep our human rights beacon shining brightly for the rest of the civillized world to see, because God knows, those other five countries are doing their part.

And let's disregard the fact that executions in the US are at a 13-year-low.
On Dec. 17, Gov. Jon S. Corzine of New Jersey, a Democrat, signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in the state, a development the report said exemplified a trend of states shifting away from the death penalty. Legislatures in other states, including New Mexico, Montana and Nebraska, came close to abolishing it this year.

Meanwhile, 40 of 50 states had no executions this year, while 86 percent of executions occurred in the South, the report said. Texas had by far the most executions, with 26.

But I still have a reason to be a proud resident of Texas. I'm quite sure we'll keep knocking them off in order to remain numero uno.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Silence, Please! We're Running for President!

more at Phydeaux and Phriends. Throat clearing is allowed.

Merry Christmas, Media Conglomerates!

Media CEOs and other highly paid suits can pop those champagne corks early this year. The vote was 3-to-2. (Who says one vote can't make a difference?)
Michael J. Copps, a Democratic commissioner who has led a nationwide effort against relaxing the media ownership rules, said the rule was nothing more than a big Christmas present to the largest conglomerates.

“In the final analysis,” Mr. Copps said, “the real winners today are businesses that are in many cases quite healthy, and the real losers are going to be all of us who depend on the news media to learn what’s happening in our communities and to keep an eye on local government.”

All the news they want you to hear or read. Great. Go ahead and start shaping the outcome of the 2008 presidential primaries while you're at it.

Oh, I'm a bit late on that one.

Iraqi Gays Facing Tougher Life

Chalk up one more group in Iraq who are who are facing tough times since the American-led invasion: gays and lesbians.

And while that probably isn't a big surprise, it certainly speaks volumes about our "progress" in building a safe, Democratic Iraq where freedom and equality rule.
Mohammed, 37, has been openly gay for much of his adult life. For him, this has meant growing his hair long and taking estrogen. In the past, he said, that held little danger. As is true throughout the Middle East, men have always been publicly affectionate here.

But, at least until recently, Mohammed and many of his gay friends went one step further, slipping into lovers’ houses late at night. And, until the American invasion, they said, Iraqi society had quietly accepted them.

But being openly gay is not an option in the new Iraq, where the rise of religious extremism has left Mohammed and his gay friends feeling especially vilified.


In 2005, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the “worst, most severe way.”

He lifted it a year later, but neither that nor the recent ebb in violence has made Mohammed or his friends feel safe. They yearn to leave Iraq, but do not have the money or visas. They agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their last names not be used.

These extremists are an unpleasant lot, for sure.
His hand drifted to his newly shorn hair. He had lopped it off days earlier. There had been reports of extremists stopping long-haired men, shearing their hair and forcing them to eat it.

At least 400 people have been killed in Iraq since 2003 for being gay, according to an Iraqi gay rights group.

And some in the American military are not really helping matters with their adolescent condescending attitudes toward gays.
The American invasion was expected to usher in better times.

“We thought that with the presence of Americans, life would become paradise, that Iraq would be Westernized,” Mohammed said. “But unfortunately the way things were before was so much better than where we are now.”

One night shortly after Saddam Hussein fell, American soldiers burst into the apartment that Mohammed shared with his two brothers. They were looking for insurgents, but took one look at Mohammed, with his long hair and shapely body wrapped in a robe, and teased him, he said.

“What are you, a lady man?” he remembered them barking. “A boy? Or a girl?” They turned to one of Mohammed’s brothers, “Who is this?” they asked, “Your girlfriend?”

Being gay in Iraq now keeps them constantly on the move seeking safety. Not surprisingly, many of them want out of Iraq.
One of Mohammed’s friends, a 25-year-old law student named Rafi, said he was especially desperate to get out of Iraq. It is a sentiment shared by millions of Iraqis, but Rafi believes his future here is especially bleak. The influence from Iran is growing, he said. And in Iran, homosexuality is often punishable by death.

“I want to get out, but not just out of Iraq, out of the Middle East,” Rafi said, “to a country that has respect for human rights. And for us.”

Good luck. And if you are casting an eye on the United States, I'd wait until January 2009 -- at least.

Crossposted at Big Brass Blog

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Jersey Makes Nice

The Garden State lives up to the name.
Gov. Jon. S. Corzine signed into law Monday a measure that abolishes the death penalty, making New Jersey the first state in more than four decades to reject capital punishment.

And as Quaker Dave said, "We did it here. Who’s next?" Aside from being one of my favorite albums ever, it's a fine question if ever I heard one.

Thank you Governor Corzine. Hopefully, having been close to death is not a prerequisite for opposing this absurd--and unconstitutional--punishment.

How Dare You Get Raped: Prepare for a Lashing

Or not.

Gee, I love having "allies" in the world who believe victims of rape need to be punished for having a crime committed against them.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pardoned the victim of a gang-rape whose
sentencing to 200 lashes caused an international outcry, a Saudi newspaper said
on Monday.


The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman was abducted and raped along with a male companion by seven men last year in a case that has drawn criticism from around the world.

Ruling according to Saudi Arabia's strict reading of Islamic law, a court sentenced the woman to 90 lashes for being alone with an unrelated man and the rapists to prison terms of up to five years.

Christ. Let's keep up the support for such allies by buying their crude oil and shit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A World of Commonality (And Some Strange Coincidences) + Some Elton and Betty White - Who Could Ask For More?

What could a man who grew up on a farm in southeast Arkansas, and a man of Norwegian ancestry who grew up branding cattle (among other things) in western North Dakota possibly have in common with a woman who is a Croatian refugee and a man from Holland who is a software/mechanical engineer?

Read on. This may be of interest to no one but myself, by the way.

One of the aspects of life which fascinates me so much are the strange little twists and turns and the discoveries that perhaps none of us are really so very different. We all have our life experiences and when they entwine with those experiences of others, it's a joy, if nothing else.

I don't remember how I discovered Nicole's photo blog, or what endeared me to it. But I've had her on my blogroll for at least a year. Perhaps it was because she was living in Amsterdam, a city I love, and I enjoyed her photographs of her daily life, the street scenes, and the cafes. Plus I have a fascination with the Dutch culture and language.

When I lived in Denver in the late 80s, prior to moving to California, I had a job at a university bookstore. The university had a lot of students from Holland, and it seemed as if most of the employees in the bookstore were Dutch. Being a language buff, and having studied a bit of Dutch on my own, I began to make friends with many of my co-workers. While they spoke fluent English, they would often converse among themselves in their native language. I began refreshing myself on the language and while I was never able to speak more than a few sentences, I think my friends were impressed that an American was taking the effort, particularly since it wasn't necessary. I was better at reading and writing in Dutch.

After I moved to California, I kept in touch with a few of them for about a year, and I still have a postcard and a letter written to me in Dutch after a couple of them had returned to Holland.

This of course is not the reason I was fond of Nicole's blog because she didn't post in Dutch; it's just a small part of the connection. Perhaps it's my attraction to Virgos. Before I met txrad I knew the love of my life would be a Virgo. So I wasn't surprised that he was one. I tend to get along with most Virgos pretty well. And Nicole is a Virgo. Vincent, her partner, is also a Virgo. Virgos all around! And Vincent is a native of Holland and therefore speaks and writes Dutch. Rather fluently I would assume.

A few months back, Nicole announced that they would be immigrating to Australia. My first thought was that I'd really miss the pictures of life in Amsterdam. Later I was quite excited to learn that they were moving to Adelaide, one of two cities in Australia for which I have always had a strange fascination (the other being Perth) which is odd considering I know nothing about either place, and have never been to Australia. Oh well. Life is full of oddities. But I was certainly looking forward to pictures. (By the way, shortly after moving, Nicole and Vincent flew to Perth to visit friends, so I got to see some pictures there as well, and it did nothing to diminish my intrigue.)

Upon arriving in Australia, I noticed that Vincent had started up his own photo blog, and around the same time, I had been inspired to dedicate my Black Soap blog to personal issues and photography after having enjoyed Nicole's for so long. I began reading their blogs more regularly and leaving more comments, and vice-versa -- in short, getting to know them a bit better.

One interesting fact I learned is that Adelaide and Austin are sister cities. The coincidence is that txrad and I had been together 7 years when we moved to Austin, and Nicole and Vincent had been together 7 years when they moved to Adelaide. Ahhh, you've got to love the numerology! Seven is probably my favorite number.

Nicole also worked for an advertising agency in Amsterdam. I work for an advertising agency in Austin. Surprise! Another coincidence. Now that we are all blogging back and forth, I learned that Vincent has a map fetish. So do I. I also learned that Nicole likes to meander slower through the supermarket. So does txrad. I'd rather wait outside. So does Vincent. But let's get to the larger coincidence.

Carlos Vamos and Andy Salvanos are a couple of musicians. Carlos is a musician they knew from Amsterdam. Andy is a musician they recently saw performing on the street in Adelaide. Here's the coincidence directly from Nicole:

So we tell Andy how much he reminds us of Carlos and Andy actually knew who Carlos was! And then by freak coincidence Andy found my blog and wrote a message that Carlos flew in from Amsterdam and is playing here in Adelaide for about three weeks!

And this reminded me of a coincidence of my own involving street musicians. (Hey, I never said this post was going to be short!)

When I was living in Little Rock prior to moving to Denver, I lived in the central part of the city -- a bit more eclectic than the suburbs. One of my favorite sights was the guy who lived near me, and rode around on his bicycle carrying a guitar and wearing a sombrero. His name was Elton White.

He hooked up with another local eccentric named Betty White (coincidentally; she didn't take his name I guess!) and they married and started performing together.

Fast forward a few years to Los Angeles after txrad and I had moved there from San Diego. I'd been gone from Little Rock for 2-3 years and had no idea Elton and Betty had moved on to some fame.

txrad and I were were walking down the street in our Hollywood neighborhood when we spotted a couple who would tend to catch your attention. It was Elton and Betty! I rushed up to them, introduced myself and txrad, and told them how I knew them from Little Rock. They had moved to LA to pursue fame and fortune and were performing regularly on Venice Beach.

They also were starting to attract some media attention as well. The fact that they briefly ran for political office while in Arkansas might have encouraged the attention. Elton ran for a seat in Congress. Betty ran against Bill Clinton in an Arkansas gubernatorial race. Her one and only issue was to lower the age of consent to 14. She lost, obviously.

I hadn't thought too much about Elton and Betty after we moved from LA 10 years ago. After reading Nicole's post, and realizing the vast wealth of knowledge on the internet I decided to take a look and see if I could get caught up on the dazzling duo. And I succeeded.

Betty White died in 2004. That makes me sad. BoingBoing actually had a post about them in May of this year. So did Honky-Tonk Dragon.

In the early 1980's, Betty was a more or less normal, married secretary in her late 50's/early 60's at a Little Rock law firm (allegedly working with Hillary Clinton) with a slight psychiatric problem for which she took medication. At some point, though, she stopped taking her medication and experienced a psychic and sexual renaissance of grandiose proportions: out with the husband and respectable job, in with the matching hot pink hair-do and spandex pants.

Elton, meanwhile, was a much younger (30 years younger, to be exact!) man renowned in Little Rock for his phenomenal basketball skills until the day he claims someone "put something in his drink." Elton met Betty in a homeless shelter, and it was love at first sight. The two were married and became notable Little Rock eccentrics, playing music all around town while sometimes delivering newspapers on the side.

Part of me wonders if Carlos Vamos or Andy Salvanos ever crossed paths with Elton and Betty. That would be too much of a coincidence. I'm just glad that Nicole's coincidence and subsequent post about it reminded me of my own, and that I am able to share a little more kona magical moments.

Rest in peace, Betty.

I'm happy I got to meet you once upon a time in Hollywood.

Des Moines Register Endorses Experience

Hillary Clinton and John McCain received the highly-coveted endorsement of the Des Moines Register.

Meanwhile the Boston Globe has endorsed Barack Obama and McCain which is likely to wield some influence in the New Hampshire primary on January 8.
The Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest newspaper, endorsed the two candidates for the fast-approaching Iowa caucuses, calling them the best prepared and most tested of the White House contenders.


The Register's endorsement was especially bad news for Edwards, who won the newspaper's endorsement in the 2004 race, helping him make a late rush to finish second behind winner John Kerry, but the paper's editors said this was a different race and "we too seldom saw the 'positive, optimistic' campaign we found appealing in 2004."

txrad predicted months ago the Democratic ticket would be Clinton/Edwards. It's going to be very interesting to watch all this unfold as the voters make their decisions.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

5 Little Known Things Meme

What is this? National Meme Week or something? Blueberry got me earlier this week, right before my busy spell, so I'm getting caught up (and already got my revenge, incidentally).

The 5 Little Known Things About Me Meme (ummm deja-vu) apparently begins with a haiku now -- that's a twist. Actually Blueberry ended hers with a haiku as well. I can't promise that, but we'll see. There's also 8 more things which brings the total to 13. So if I just do 2 more things right now, that's a total of 15 which is the equivalent of doing the 5 Things Meme 3 times, right?

A love of numbers
konagod speaks in riddles
only for humor

1. In an effort to conserve laundry detergent and water, I've started wearing the same clothes over and over again, day after day, but not always several days in a row. I give them a chance to air out. If I'm going out on errands or eating out, I will often put on something clean, and then take it off as soon as I'm home and put on yesterday's clothes again. I could be wrong but I doubt anyone would notice, particularly since I rarely go out in public wearing the same shirt two days in a row. And even when I do, it's not like I'm going to the same places and seeing the same people, so who would know? And unless I stink (and I don't), then there's not a problem. This really does cut way back on the laundry duties.

2. As much as I love to drink and partake of God's herb, preferably simultaneously, I generally only do them at night. I know people who wake up in the morning and smoke a big doobie. I've known people who wake up, have a beer, or sit around drinking beers all afternoon watching football. The only time I ever have a drink in the morning is when I'm in Vegas, and I'll have a bloody mary, but only if I'm just planning to sit on my ass and gamble. And I haven't been to Vegas in probably 6 or 7 years. The only time I drink around noon is when we go to Curras Grill for lunch and I'll have a margarita. But I haven't been there in months. The only exception to this was a few weeks ago when I went out to lunch with one of my co-workers and I had two beers -- and I think that was the day we found out we were losing our jobs at the end of this month.

OK, since I'm on a roll now, I'll see if I can pinch off 3 more just to complete this meme fair and square.

3. This is something I just told the Minstrel Boy recently. I grew up in the Mississippi Delta in southeast Arkansas. Before I was born, my parents lived for a brief time across the river in Clarksdale, Mississippi: World Capital of the Blues and location of the famous Crossroads intersection of Highway 61 and 49. And yet, I never knew of the Blues genre until well after I'd started exploring rock & roll and got my boner for Led Zeppelin. I thought their shit was innovative and original. I thought that sound was British! I don't think I'd ever heard of Robert Johnson until I was in my 20s at least, and to the best of my knowledge, I never actually heard his music until this decade, unless the pot has rotted my brain. I'm serious. To this day I don't know why my father didn't teach me a little about music history, given how interested in music I was. Oh, I guess he did when he'd describe what I was listening to as "nigger music" -- only I didn't get the reference since most of the bands I was listening to were white hippies.

4. If I were asked to name the greatest technological achievement during my life, I'd have to say the personal computer. Cell phones are nice but I could honestly live without those. And GPS, why the hell do I need to be told where I am and where I'm supposed to go from some electronic gadget? We have maps for that purpose. Nintendo? Blah.

When I was starting grade school, computers were the stuff of science fiction. Enormously big scary things making funky noises and with weird lights (well, some things haven't changed, and size is relative) -- straight out of Lost in Space. I remember the first real personal computer I ever had in my house -- it was around 1976 and my dad, always having a love for the latest toys, bought one at Radio Shack. Yes, this is the same dad who got me a touch-tone phone for my bedroom around 1972-ish, and also got me a basic calculator (adds, subtracts, multiplies and divides, and that's it) for Christmas around that same time, and paid $50 for it.

This computer required a cassette player to upload software. The sounds on the cassette were not unlike two fax machines trying to copulate. And if you could see these games or other programs today after waiting 20+ minutes to upload them, you'd shit yourself laughing.

The fact that I only had to wait about 15-17 years from that moment until I was checking weather online, buying plane tickets, and doing all my banking, is quite frankly, amazing to me. Not to mention the free porn.

5. And speaking of technology and fax machines in particular, I bought my first fax machine very early in 1991. For those of you who don't remember, this was when fax machines were still sort of faddish for individuals to own. When someone would yell out in public, "I'll fax you," that was enough to turn some heads. I'm not kidding. Oh, so very coooool....

I had just hooked up with txrad a few months earlier in San Diego. I had moved to Los Angeles with a friend so I could find a job, and then txrad could move up. This was right before I got into the advertising field. Apparently, I didn't want to be inconvenienced by having to go someplace and pay them to fax my resume to various companies. So, despite being unemployed and living on credit, I paid $399 for a thermal paper fax machine. Horrid little thing that was. But I got a job in advertising. So I guess it paid for itself. (My, my, how we justify our irrational behavior!)

And as this meme began, so shall it end:

Cassette tape squealing
as it uploads the data
like impregnating

Tagged: anyone who hasn't done a 5 or 8 or 13 things meme before. You know who you are.
And you haven't lived until you've tried it.

Finish The Thought Meme

Toast tagged me for this one. And any thoughts in italics were left intact from Toast's meme because they apply to me. This is one of the better memes to cross my path in a long time.

I Never... give up on anything - stop wondering what's next in life - can keep a New Year's resolution - enjoy watching animal documentaries when the animals are stalking and killing other animals - stop thinking about sex - throw up after drinking too much - could have a relationship with an evangelical Republican - can untangle wires, string, or chains without saying "fuck" - intentionally kill anything - can take a cat to the vet without stressing out.

I Rarely... remember eating dinner the previous night if I drank too much - remember what I might have commented on a blog the previous night if I drank too much - remember what I might have posted on my own blog the previous night if I drank too much - have a truly evil thought - enjoy a cold cloudy day - wake up feeling REALLY hung-over - read the instructions - get ill with a fever - trust a weather forecast - leave town - attend funerals - floss - have a genuine out-loud laugh - eat sweets - have indigestion - answer the phone when it rings - stay up past 11:00 PM - sleep past 6:30 AM.

I Cry... when a cat dies - during certain films - listening to certain music - thinking about what the fucking Taliban did to the Buddha statues.

I Am Not Always... Sober enough to function - a joy to be around - able to shut my brain off - in the mood to talk to people - pleasant to be around when out in holiday shopping-related traffic.

I Lose... My mind whenever anything goes wrong with my computer - small things I rarely use - at gambling - at strip poker, on purpose - according to txrad when we argue about anything.

I'm Confused... by the 20% of Americans who think Bush is doing a great job - by Democrats who can't grow a pair - when trying to comprehend infinity - for at least 3 days after switching to or from daylight savings time.

I Miss... having high-quality, high potency pot - the Wheatberry restaurant in Little Rock - being young - flying pre-9/11 - living at the end of the road - Samantha and Jezebel - my grandmother - my farm house - my Celestion SL-600 loudspeakers - every opportunity.

I Need... A politician I can believe in - to stop procrastinating - a job - $200,000 - a garden in the ground - to not have a mortgage - the Dish Network HD package - stability in my life - a haircut - bifocals - to take a bunch of stuff to a charity - thicker skin - patience.

I Should... become fluent in Spanish - floss - call a lawyer - sue someone - move - adjust my lifestyle to enable us to live on $30,000 a year or less - exercise - drink less - stop sucking on cancer sticks - either watch the friggin' Netflix films I have or send them back and cancel it - tell American Express to go fuck themselves.

I Love... txrad - technology - blogging - architecture - art - music - photography - tequila - good beer - Tater Tot - all my cats - organizing things - minimalism - marijuana - instant karma - maps - orgasms - sexual fantasies - being warm - when Republicans get caught with their pants down - Indian food - Mexican food - Italian food - most liberals - cheese - pickles - New Mexico - mountains - the sound of the ocean - cacti.

Tagged: JackGoff, Blueberry, Seventh Sister, Sherry, and (drum roll, please) Pidomon!!!!


For the record, folks; I never took a shit on stage and the closest I ever came to eating shit anywhere was at a Holiday Inn buffet in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in 1973.