now playing: lindsey buckingham, "trouble"

josh marshall gets it right, yet again:

I haven't written as much lately as I usually do about Iraq because it is, quite simply, hard to know quite what else to say.

Anyone who can't now see the Lebanonization of Iraq for what it is will never see it, is incapable of seeing it.

...the Post today has another example of the Orwellian moment we're passing through. On Monday the Post ran a story about the sheer scope and spread of the insurgency in Iraq based on data from USAID compiled by the security contractor Kroll Security International.

The response, according to today's Post, is that USAID will stop making the data public.

That's their solution. Just think about for a second. That's their response.

go read the whole post. you'll be really fucking sorry that you did.

four more years, man! kick ass! whooooo-hoo! FOUR MORE YEARS!


now playing: blake allen, "on a stone"

it always strikes a chord in my head somewhere when i read or hear that i share one of my personal quirks or idiosynchrasies with someone else. not sure why, if not for what must be the obvious reasons...but with that in mind, i had to smile when i tripped over this on richard shindell's site:

I'm interested in the process you employ as you shape your songs. Have you found a particular method that works well for you, enabling you to most effectively chisel and sand your ideas into the finished piece?

rs: Deadlines! Well, deadlines get me started anyway. Once I'm on the trail of something, I think about nothing else 24/7 until it's done. I use a shameful amount of paper in the process (8x11 yellow legal pads, nice and smooth, college ruled). (emphasis mine)

i can sit here and peck away all day long without slowing down, but if i'm writing a song, it has to be in pencil, and it has to be on a yellow, college-ruled legal pad. i don't have many demands in life, really...i know how to settle in many, many areas of my life, but this is not negotiable.

and yes, it has been pointed out how much of a freak i am about this.

but as of today, i'm not the only one.

it's me, richard, and marty higgins.

freaks, every one of us.

but at least a couple of those guys are kickass songwriters.


unlikely endorsements

now playing: nanci griffith, "deadwood, south dakota

it looks like the lone star iconoclast, dubya's hometown newspaper, has decided to back a different horse this year.

would you buy a used car from this man?

now playing: marshall crenshaw, "monday morning rock"

from an article in the american prospect by mark goldberg:

“We're improving benefits and the quality of life for our nation's citizen-soldiers,” Bush said. “ … We have expanded health-care benefits for Guard and Reserve forces and their family members, giving them access to the military's TRICARE system for up to 90 days before they report and 180 days after deactivation -- and I will ask Congress to make that expansion permanent.”

wow...what a nice guy, huh?

that shit sounds reeeal nice when you're speaking to an auditorium full of national guardsmen, as bush was when he made this statement. but, as usual, actions speak louder than words:

In 2002, a General Accounting Office report found that as many as one-fifth of the nation’s 1.2 million part-time soldiers lacked health insurance. This startled many lawmakers into action, and, in May 2003, Senators Tom Daschle and Lindsay Graham successfully pushed for an amendment to the Senate’s version of the fiscal year 2004 Defense Authorization bill that would protect reservists from going uninsured by allowing them to buy into TRICARE when not on active duty.

Though the “Graham-Daschle amendment” had overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, the administration sought to scuttle the proposal as it moved to the House. That June, in a letter to Representative Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the Senate’s efforts to expand TRICARE a “troubling provision” because the amendment amounted to an unfunded entitlement that would drain resources from other, presumably more important Department of Defense activities.

so, as usual, what they say and what they do are worlds apart.

The temporary expansion of TRICARE that President Bush referred to in his speech is set to expire in December (that is, a month after the election). The president’s calculated remarks to the National Guard Association were meant to give rhetorical support to “expanding” health-care availability to reservists, while still opposing legislation that addresses the health-care crisis facing uninsured reservists in a meaningful way.

For his part, John Kerry is much less ambiguous about his intentions to expand TRICARE to reservists. Though he missed the Graham-Daschle votes while on the campaign trail, he’s supported the amendment’s intentions. In his speech to the same association two days later, John Kerry offered the kind of clarity on this issue that his campaign has been so sorely lacking in other areas. “When you sign up for the Guard,” he said, “you should be eligible for TRICARE every day that you serve -- before, during, and after mobilization. End of story.”

so once again, the pseudo-fighter pilot aligns himself with an effort to diminish veterans' benefits.

how can anyone who puts on a uniform every day vote for this douchebag with a clear conscience?

CNN: o'reilly viewers are broke dumbasses

now playing: grateful dead, "bird song"

this, of course, should come as a surprise to no one:

"In a recent survey, viewers of Stewart's "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central tested better than Letterman and Leno viewers on a six-question politics quiz.

...Dannagal Goldthwaite Young, a senior research analyst at the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, said "Daily Show" viewers came out on top "even when education, party identification, following politics, watching cable news, receiving campaign information online, age and gender are taken into consideration."

...Forty-nine percent of Leno and Letterman viewers got a perfect score on the quiz.

But 60 percent of "Daily Show" viewers answered all six questions correctly.

Just 42 percent of those who read a newspaper four days a week aced the test. Only 40 percent of those who watch network news four days a week got every answer right.

Comedy Central was waiting for news like this. On September 17, Stewart appeared on Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" only to be told his viewers are "stoned slackers" and "dopey kids."

"You know what's really frightening?" O'Reilly asked Stewart. " You actually have an influence on this presidential election. That is scary, but it's true."

Comedy Central used its viewers' test scores Tuesday to strike back at Fox News Channel and O'Reilly's viewers.

It also trotted out stats from Nelson Media Research to show that Stewart's viewers are not only smart, but more educated than O'Reilly's.

"Daily Show" viewers are 78 percent more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education, while O'Reilly's audience is only 24 percent more likely to have that much schooling.

Plus, the network noted, "Daily Show" viewers are 26 percent more likely to have a household income more than $100,000, while O'Reilly's audience is only 11 percent more likely to make that much money."


from the rear view mirror newsroom: o'reilly watchers are batshit stupid, according to CNN


john kerry, are you lissenin'?

now playing: dee carstensen, "time"

paul waldman is a genius.

i sure do hope that there are those in the kerry campaign who actually read posts like this.

why fast food is like casual sex

first of all, it's a lot more enticing when you're younger.

then, as you get older, every time you have it, it's less and less what you remember it being like when you were younger. and whatever motivation you might have to seek it out at all is colored by some memory you have of it being better than it actually is. and, if you're hungry/horny, it's all good while you're in the middle of it...but once you're done and you clean up the mess, you're already starting to feel bad about having done it in the first place...and half an hour later, you've got a rock in your gut, and you wonder what the hell made you think this was a good idea.

and the more of it you indulge in, the greater risk to your health.

(these are the things you think about when you're driving home at 1am and every fucking radio station within a gajillion mile radius sucks so bad that you can't stand to listen to another minute of any of them)

i'm gonna go to sleep now.


losin' stuff...

now playing: bruce hornsby, "jack straw" (from deadicated)

first of all, that's a great version of that song...with a kickass guitar solo from one of my heroes, george marinelli, from his days with bruce's band, the range. george also did all the guitar work on charlie degenhart's album, bridge street main, so i got the opportunity in charlie's band to recreate his parts live. quite a kick.

rachel had a fatal crash on her computer and lost some pretty important data over the weekend...including a bunch of her notes for a book she's working on and her notes for some of her freelance work.

kinda plants a rock in your gut, just thinking about it.

a couple of years ago, when i was installing removable hard drive bays in a couple of my machines at home, i had put the disk drive that had my entire MP3 collection (which, as it stood at that time, was around 4000 files) into one of the removable drive bays in my computer upstairs in the studio, and it proceeded to rename every single file on the drive to something like this:


every one of them. 4000 files named "gibberish".

what did i do, you might ask?

well, after the paramedics left and my therapist managed to coax me out of the fetal position and i stopped sucking my thumb and gently singing to myself, i had to go through each and every file - all 4000 of them - right click on them and select "open with" and point them towards winamp to get them to open, since the file extension had been wiped out. since they were MP3 files, winamp recognized them as such and would play them back...so i had to listen to them and then close winamp (because you can rename the file if it's in use) and then rename the file to what it was to begin with...provided i knew what it was (which wasn't the case for a handful of them, believe it or not).

so, take that process and multiply it by 4000+, and you've got roughly two weeks of time spent recovering from a data disaster that, in all honesty, could have been much, much worse.

there was an ad that i saw a long time ago that left an impression on me - the headline said "there are two kinds of people that you meet in this world - those who have lost data, and those who will."

scary stuff, if you think about it....get out those CDR's and start backin' up your stuff, if you don't do so regularly. if you have a ton of stuff, there are companies that make small (and somewhat affordable) backup servers with hundreds of GB's of storage space on them that you can either attach directly to your PC or to a home network...i'm thinking about getting one of those myself...once i lose something else and spend a few more hours in the fetal position....


moment number 7,832

now playing: sarah mclachlan, "fallen"

today i rolled out of bed, early for me on a saturday, but rested nonetheless.

i showered without feeling rushed, pulled on some comfortable clothes and walked out of my house right into a beautiful day...the temperature was perfect, the sun was out, and the rest of the world felt like a serene place.

i got into my van, started driving towards my kids' mom's house - people were washing their cars, kids were playing...a beautiful little nichole kidman lookalike smiled at me while she was playing jumprope with her friends a few blocks from my house in this new neighborhood where i live...where i still can't believe that i live.

i picked up my son and brought him along for the ride with me - i had to drive to phoenixville to pick up a computer from one of my "golden girls"...and i decided that we were taking backroads to get there, since we were still in no particular hurry.

he sat there in the shotgun seat, this miniature likeness of myself, looking out the window and taking in the sights...we listened to the radio, he sang along with "rock and roll hootchie koo", half singing and half laughing. we passed a man with a huge tree trunk lying on its side behind him, carving frog scupltures with a chainsaw that were three or four feet high...

...we drove along in general silence, taking in the calm of the day. i passed houses with 'bush 04' signs on the lawn, and just couldn't muster the necessary irritation to be angry at these people that i didn't even know for their misguided faith.

as we were driving home from out appointed round, we took 113 to 401 and drove through the relative quiet and took in the breeze - we passed a vintage passenger bus converted into an RV and painted bright red and yellow and we looked at each other and laughed...

at some point, as we snaked up this two lane road, bob dylan's "just like a woman" came on the radio, and i looked over at dylan, who looked back at me with a slight grin on his face...i said, "you know who this is, dude?"

he smiled bigger and said, "dad...nobody else sings like that."

i turned my eyes back toward the road and smiled...content that perhaps i'm not doing as poor a job at passing on the important things as i sometimes like to believe. i watch him as he moves his hands in rhythm to the song, tapping on the door of the van where his elbow rests as he looks out the window.

he's getting it.

and i think that from tomorrow on, "just like a woman" belongs to today, to this afternoon, riding in the VW van down a narrow backroad, taking in a day that comes but a few times in the space of a year.



now playing: crosby, stills, nash and young, "tell me why"

the best gifts have nothing to do with christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, none of that.

the best gifts are the ones you get that have no occasion or expectations attached to them.

todd came over this morning with a handful of CD's, one of which was a pristine soundboard recording of a 1970 CSNY show at the Fillmore. it sounds amazing, and while it's obviously from the same tour as the famous lakehurst, nj show (the "one thing the blues ain't is funny" show), it sounds better than any of the other boots i've heard from that 1970 tour.

now that i'm at work by myself, i've been listening to tell me why very loudly, over and over again, for a few spins now.

i know i already owe my blog a lengthy, explanatory poco post, but i think at some point i have to do my lengthy CSNY post, too...they've just been written into so many of the rings of my tree - what an amazing band they were.


dashed hopes and missed opportunities always make great fodder for writing, huh?


now playing: jackson browne, "call it a loan"

in lieu of a lunch break today, i was asked to drive out to kutztown and pick up a laptop for use in the circuit board fabrication shop on a project they've taken on. i wasn't unhappy about it, as my boss had already called to let me know that he was taking the rest of the afternoon off, and he's really the only person to whom my unavailability would cause me any undue stress. so off i went.

i left at 2pm and got back about five minutes ago. traffic in kutztown was incredibly thick, for some reason, and it took me twenty minutes just to get from the LANtek building back to the highway. since things were so bogged down, i stopped into the kutztown democratic headquarters and picked up some extra stickers and lawn signs...while i was there i saw the most recent column by my soon-to-be adversary, clipped and lying on the desk. i had to smile a little, knowing that soon he'd have a foil across the page from him.

so i put my signs into the back of my trusty VW van and eased back out onto main street, remembering that jayda would be making this trip tomorrow herself, as she begins upward bound - weekend edition in earnest tomorrow.

i was waiting for the traffic at the light to start moving again, and this gorgeous geeky-hippie girl was walking up the sidewalk opposite me, wearing a purple bandana, baggy pants and thick-rimmed glasses...she had long brown hair and had obviously spent some time outdoors this summer - she was glowing.

i stuck my head out the already-rolled-down window of the van and said, "if you can get past the weirdness of my saying so, i think you look beautiful today."

she smiled at me and said, "i like your van".

i chuckled and said, "thanks, so do i on the days it starts."

and then the traffic started moving, and so did i.

whenever i have to come back to work from that direction, there's a specific road that i take to get back here. now i don't know why - this doesn't happen as often as it did when i used to drive four hours home from gigs in god-knows-where, but there are times when i'll be driving and i'll be so far gone to some other place in my head that it's almost as if i've blacked out. i'm aware of my surroundings, and the fact that i'm operating a motor vehicle, but i settle into a daydream and i'll just drive...without much thought as to where. this used to happen a lot - i'd wake up in the morning after coming home from a gig and would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that i came home a specific way, but would have no recollection of having passed certain landmarks on the way.

so, today, i'm driving along, windows down, and i come to a "T" in the road, and it strikes me that there are no "T" intersections in the road back to work...so i made a left and decided to make the best of it.

not far down the road, i ran right into the Adams Hotel - immortalized in the frog holler song, adams hotel road.

there at the mouth of the hotel Road
the adamses lived and the adamses sold
out to a deal, left out in the cold
the ghosts of the bar and the stories it told

i knew it was an actual place, but i'd never seen it before. yet, by God, there it was.

i kept driving around until i saw the lake that i knew to be just off route 61, and i kept it to my left as i drove back towards leesport - past the cemetary with fresh american flags on the tombstones, and the trailers with satellite dishes haphazardly tethered to the shoddy excuses for porches, until the road i was on eventually spit me out practically into the parking lot of the village tavern ( a stone road mainstay), right up the road from where i work.

i was actually hoping to have been a little more lost than it turned out i was...

...but it's not as though i'm finished driving for the day.

bonus fact that may interest only me (with apologies to peter king):

dylan and i wore the exact same clothes today...khakis and a black polo shirt...but neither of us knew it until we walked out to the van to go to school this morning.

late night humor

now playing: me, "is that enough" (from the live at longview sessions)

now, now...let's not be judgemental...right now, that's my job...

all i really wanted to say is that jayda is definitely ready for bed when she uses the word overneath in a sentence.

i've mentioned lately, i'm sure, that my kids rock...i guess i'll just have to deal with whatever allegations of broken-record syndrome that might come my way.

there will be new MP3's on the site available for download by the end of the day tomorrow...promise.

i'm workin' on it.


you read it here first

now playing: sarah mclachlan, "plenty"

OK, guys...for your reading pleasure, here's my maiden voyage...(this is pre-editing, obviously)

The Emperor’s Invisible Beret

Tom Hampton, Kutztown Patriot

As our forces descended on Baghdad over a year ago, we can all recall with a chuckle the antics of Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi Information Minister. Omnipresent in the news with his ubiquitous beret and his calm, collected manner – and those quotes. Ever the master of the soundbite, he became the trendy quote at the watercooler – what with all his talk of “stomachs roasting in hell” and all.

As he raged against the machine, declaring with authority that there were no American troops in Baghdad even as smoke from the shelling could be seen on camera behind him, we all had a hearty laugh – how could he expect to be taken seriously when every shred of credible evidence exposed him as a liar?

This month, as President George W. Bush addressed the United Nations with regard to the state of affairs in Iraq, it was hard not to recall the grim determination of the Iraqi Information Minister. You could almost picture the beret on Bush’s head as he spoke before the international community – “Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan”, he said. “The Afghan people…are reviving their economy. They’ve adopted a constitution..” He reiterated the long-debunked association that he used to build support for the war, saying that “a terrorists group associated with al Qaeda is now one of the main groups killing the innocent in Iraq today.”

One must assume that President Bush thinks that the member delegates of the United Nations gets their news from FOX.

A reasonable person, when confronted with the statistics from Iraq, would have a difficult time ignoring the facts and signing off on President Bush’s rosy synopsis of the Iraq situation. And it would appear that most of the President’s audience at the UN are reasonable people.

Reaction elsewhere ran the gamut from lukewarm to vindictive: the New York Times editorialized that “Mr. Bush seemed more interested in praising his own policies than in assuming the leadership of an international effort. The speech would have drawn cheers at an adoring Republican National Convention, but it seemed to fall flat in a room full of stony-faced world leaders.” Headlines around the country seemed to concur: the Roanoke, VA Times called him “A President in reality denial”, while the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote that “Bush was unwilling or, for practical political and diplomatic reasons, unable to admit that there is really anything wrong with the situation in Iraq, or even in Afghanistan.” The Chattanoogan went even further, in an editorial entitled “Bush Has No Shame”: “They must have been amazed that he had the gall to speak to them as if they were just a league of powerless states sitting at the foot of America, with Bush sitting on the throne, with complete enforcement power of any resolution he chose to enforce, regardless of what the UN thought about it.”

It probably goes without saying that world opinion hasn’t been any kinder to the President as he laid out his optimistic vision of the future of democracy in two nations that are struggling to keep their fingertips on the ledge above what appears to be the inevitable chaos below. Bush squandered an opportunity to level with the increasingly cynical international community, instead adopting a self-righteous stance that appeared to denigrate them for refusing to jump on the bandwagon in the first place. And, as he has done time and time again, he chose to completely ignore the escalating violence, the increases in casualty figures, the “no-go” zones where coalition troops are unable to operate…glossed over before the United Nations just as they are at home.

In fact, the more President Bush reiterates Iraq’s rosy democratic future, the more visible his Information Minister-esque beret becomes. Again, we have to ask - how could he expect to be taken seriously when every shred of credible evidence exposed him as a liar?


ok, ok, i know...the Baghdad Bush thing has been played already quite a bit on the internet, but i felt as though the comparison needed to be explored further in the face of the UN speech.


diggin' up bones

now playing: charlie degenhart, "alaska" (live from the colonial theatre)

nik called me on my cell phone last night, on my way home from rehearsal (as he's prone to do) and we chatted a little bit about the band, among other things - i was harboring a secret plan to pull a whammy on him during the release party, but i spilled the beans at rehearsal last night, and he loved it. essentially, all it involved was switching from guitar to lap steel for the closing solo on the title track of the record, but it made a pretty huge difference. (i pulled a similar stunt on the guys in shame during the release party an album they did that i was heavily involved with - i was playing with them as a sideman, and there was a song that they'd cooked up an alternate ending for that had their drummer playing guitar for the song...during the transition i jumped over to the drums and a blanket of panic fell over pete, the lead singer - they had no idea that i played drums, and i hadn't told them. it was totally spur of the moment, and it was the high point of the gig...it worked out perfectly.)

lap steel, though...it's such an expressive instrument - it can invoke a lot of different textures, and it can totally transform a song if it's applied in the right place...and it works on that song. nik was quite impressed.

he and i have developed a pretty symbiotic, almost telepathic relationship as players in a very short time. until he started putting this band together, i hadn't seen him in ages, but it's really been as if barely a day had passed.

i think i've finally found a band that can compete with that great band that charlie put together some four years ago. this band has a lot of potential.

i made a cursory sweep of the pile of CD's that sit on the table in the office at home and grabbed some of the stuff off the top to bring to work today. (i really didn't even have time for a cursory sweep, but i did so nonetheless.) i found the live recording from the charlie degenhart show at the colonial theatre in phoenixville, the first marty higgins album that i attempted to master myself, and the recent CD of roughs from the blake allen record.

the blake stuff is postable in its current form...the other two discs are gonna require some smoothing action before i can really post any of that stuff. and i'm really disapointed in "alaska".

that's always been one of my favorite songs of charlies' to play - it's a great song, and there's ample opportunity for me to shine in it, but my tone on the recording is awful, and i feel like i hear some "nerves" as well, in retrospect. i don't really remember being nervous - just the opposite, in fact. (and certainly, dylan wasn't nervous for me - he and jayda were sitting in the front row, and i looked down during the third or fourth song and dylan was fast asleep.) the tone thing has me baffled - i was playing through a dual amp setup, and i had explicitly asked the soundman to mike the proper amp during soundcheck. in retrospect, it sounds like that might not've happened...and i can't really remember checking his work. it definitely sounds thin on the recording, though, and i'm pretty sure i would've reacted at some point during the song to correct that.

damn shame.

on a happier note, though, i can salvage the mastering job on marty's first record relatively easily...i have much better equipment now than i did when i did this, and i can do this much more accurately now than i did.

and while i don't often blow my own horn, i gotta tell ya - the combination of marty's voice and mine on the end of "voice in the air" and "don't you notice" makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. serious goosebump material.

this record will forevermore be on my "all time top five" list. these songs invoke so much for me...marty, todd, and myself at the height of our collaborative powers...great songs...good times.

ok, i must mop myself up off the floor and get to work here...can't spend all day inside my head...

well, actually, that's always a very real possibility...


now playing: marty higgins, "broken down buick"

i just got an email from nikki murray, the managing editor of the kutztown patriot newspaper...and yours truly is the newest addition to their editorial columnist roster.

with that news, however, comes my first deadline, which is tuesday. (i also have to get them a headshot by then.)

they don't give ya much time to bask in the afterglow, do they?

one rehearsal left

now playing: super seventies internet radio

one more nik everett rehearsal before the big "coming out" party.

it's commonplace in the music industry for an artist to have a "cd release party" on the release date of the record. i don't know where this whole thing got started, any more than anyone could tell you where this tradition of the "dollar dance" originated at wedding receptions. strange stuff. BUT - once again, i digress.

anyway, the band plays the record - live - for the folks who come to the party, who typically pay a single cover price for admission to the show and a copy of the brand spankin' new record.

and thus it shall be with nik, on friday, october 1st at the point in bryn mawr, pa at 7pm.

i must say, the band is coming together nicely - we have mostly old pros in this incarnation, with the exception of anton, the bass player...a band of this caliber is a first for him, but i gotta give him credit - he's busting his balls to be ready for this gig. besides myself, he's the only other vocalist amongst the sidemen, and he's having some confidence issues, but he's coming along.

tonight was the first night of rehearsals for our keyboard guy, leigh goldstein...although he'd been playing with nik one-on-one for a while, and he's a great fit. he recognized me right away, but couldn't place me for a while...finally at the end of the night, i put an end to his head scratching and told him where he remembered me from.

he chuckled and said, "man...i thought you were dead."

so, after rehearsal, it was agreed that i, tom hampton, truly am the Snake Pliskin of the philadelphia music community.

(for those not in the know, snake was the principal character in that wondrous piece of 70's cinema, escape from new york. every time his name was mentioned aloud, it was invariably met with "pliskin...yeah, i've heard of you....i heard you were dead.")

tonight will be stone road rehearsal - and i have to ask about whether or not i can swap nights with jill to get the kids on friday night instead of tomorrow. i would really prefer to get them on friday and take them to a movie or something enjoyable, as opposed to taking them to rehearsal with me.

this weekend i know i'll be working on saturday, then gigging saturday night...and next week i might have my first actual recording session downstairs. i have some friends coming over to record some music for a wedding...very low key, and it's people i know...good way to ease into it.

i'm gonna spend a big chunk of the next couple of weeks getting some of my more neglected guitars whipped back into playing shape, too.

right now, though, i'm takin' my sad ass to bed...to dream about the prospect of making another record. i'm starting to itch in that particular part of my brain again. i think i'm going to record some covers that i've always wanted to do and see if anything comes of that first, though.

i still have to finish sorting through and unearthing some of the stuff i want to post on the download page on the website.


work, interrupted

now playing: jackson browne, "late for the sky"

...speaking of being "late for the sky"...i guess you could say that cat stevens would have fallen into that category yesterday...

apparently mr. stevens has the distinction of having been placed on uncle sam's "no fly" list...which created a bit of a stink when it was determined that he happened to be onboard a plane headed for dulles international airport.

i will be strong, and i will resist the overwhelming temptation to work a really bad "peace train" pun into this report...

posting has been a bit light of late - and for this i apologize. i have a ton of stuff on my plate at work at the moment, and an equal amount of things on my mind that i'd like to take the time to ruminate over, but i can't seem to maintain a train of thought for very long before i'm interrupted these days...

i had to apologize to my kids this morning when i dropped them off for school - we got home last night, ate dinner...and jayda went out to the porch to talk on the phone and dylan sat down to do his homework, so i went over and sat down on the sofa nearest the front door (having just told jayda that if she heard so much as heavy breathing from anyone that i wanted to know ASAP), and fell asleep...and slept there until after 11 o'clock. dylan apparently woke me at some point to tell me that he'd finished his homework and was going to bed, but i don't even remember that.

there are times when i just go and go and go and go until i completely run out of gas and i end up sleeping straight through from the end of one workday to the beginning of the next...it doesn't happen often, but when it happens on my nights with the kids, i feel highly guilty about it - i don't want to waste the time that i have with them snoozing on the sofa.

i'm going to try to swap thursday for friday with their mom so that we can do something together to make up for it...

i'm having some serious flashbacks to an ill-fated phone call from seven years ago as a result of rachel's most recent posting, and i'm not sure how, or if, i should elaborate on any of that...her situation sounds eerily familiar to that of someone i was once romantically involved with, and i don't really know if i want to drudge any of that up just now.

not that i won't eventually, though...but right now, i have to revive a couple of corpses and get them back out onto the floor before i hear about it from outside of the department.

i hate when work intrudes on my introspection time.

UPDATE: the post in question has been removed...rachel explains.


cameron crowe

now playing: marshall tucker band, "runnin' like the wind"

i've updated the link on the sidebar to the official site - now that it's online. i'm thrilled to say that cameron has joined the ranks of those of us who post our thoughts online nowadays...(i hate the word blog almost as much as the term bloggers - it's just a strange sounding word. jayda has the word moist, i have the word blog.)

here's a sample...and some reaffirmation as to why i think cameron crowe is just the shit:


August 7, 2004:

Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

This is the sequence we’ve nicknamed Drivin' and Cryin'. It involves Orlando as Drew being hit by a wave of emotion he didn’t expect. Here on the Nebraska flatlands, the emotion catches up with him. He laughs and cries, and in the middle of nowhere, he gets hit by a freight train of feelings. In one of my conversations with Orlando when he was making the Ridley Scott movie he’d mentioned casually, “I’m not sure I can cry on demand.” I put it out of my mind at the time. Today, I’m wondering if it will be a problem, or at least something that we spend a lot of time working out under that huge sweltering sky.

Speaking of the sky. It’s really beyond words, this Nebraska sky. Music sounds different here. Everything feels different here because the bigness and the spaciousness naturally fills you with thought, and a sense of where you fit in the big picture.

Listening to the radio on the way in, a local station is right on the money. “Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing, and I’m not sure I’ve ever loved the song more than I do on this day. Driving down the stretch of road to the Scottsbluff Airport base-camp where we’ll start to tow the car and film Orlando’s big sequence — trying to forget that it’s a huge moment in the movie and we’ve got to get it right and what if we don’t… The feeling of the song just washes all that other stuff away. “Tuesday’s Gone” sets a bar for authenticity and raw honesty for the whole day… and I can’t help but let some old feelings wash over me. Van Zant was one of the first artists I’d met as a young journalist who really believed, and read and rooted for my writing… I wrote about him a lot, knew him well, and we pay him tribute in the movie. When the song is over, the disc jockey announces that Lacy Van Zant, Ronnie’s father, had passed away recently. That’s big news. Ronnie talked about Lacy a lot, was deeply influenced by the dad who ironically outlived his powerful and poetic son. It’s a lot to think about and remember. There is a lot going on here in Nebraska, it’s in the air. It’s in the 2000-mile stare in the eyes of most of the crew as I arrive on the set at just after seven AM. Woody and Herb Ault and John Toll will still be rigging the car and camera for some time. It’s already hot, and that big sky beckons, so I decide to take a walk.


i can't wait to see this movie.

operation orphan

now playing: dan fogelberg, "wysteria"

it's amazing, after what they've gone through in-country, that one of our guys would see fit to do this...and yet:

The other day I took my platoon out on a patrol in the town of Diwanijah and we stopped off at an orphanage to assess the organization, and see if any coalition funding was needed there. I went in and met dozens of beautiful children of all ages that have virtually nothing. The toys and coloring books you see our American kids with back home is a something you don't see kids with over here. After stopping in that orphanage and at a few day care centers, I quickly thought to myself how great it would be to be able to give these kids some toys, coloring books, or anything that would make a difference to these children. An Iraqi child would have a year's worth of stories to tell from just being given a ball, or one coloring book.

That is why my platoon has started "Operation Orphan" here in Iraq, trying to draw any type of support and assistance we can from the kind hearted Americans back home in Cerritos. I have already contacted some friends, family members, and neighbors back in Cerritos to see if they can assist my platoon in any way getting some toys out here for these kids. Some local churches have been contacted and I am hoping the word will spread to a lot more people.

For anybody, or any organization that would be interested in sending toys or other items to support Operation Orphan, this is what we are suggesting:

- Coloring books and crayons
- Water painting supplies
- Dolls/ Figurines
- Balls ( rubber, soccer, etc.)
- Hot wheels
- Jumping ropes
- Yo-Yo's
- And all the normal stuff a child would enjoy playing with. It doesn't have to be new. Used toys will do just fine also!

Please know that simply ANY type of support, or passing of this information would be greatly appreciated.

Anybody who would like to assist the United States Marine Corps and my platoon with Operation Orphan can send their packages to:

1st Lieutenant Chris Smith
"Operation Orphan"
Alpha Company, 1/4, 11th MEU
UIC 40255
FPO-AP 96610-0255

Email Address: alpharaider1@yahoo.com

If you could please disseminate this information to as many people as possible it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much.

Semper Fidelis,

Christopher M. Smith

****SHIPPING DEADLINE: OCTOBER 7, 2004**** Do not send out items after this date.


i just posted a flier in the cafeteria at work asking for donations - i'm going to collect as much stuff as i can over the next week and send it to Lt. Smith at my own expense.

if you have stuff, though, please send it on yourself unless you can give it to me personally...it's going to an APO address, so it'll be no more expensive than sending it to your aunt mildred.

and take note of the deadline he mentioned.


kick 'em when they're up...kick 'em when they're down...

now playing: red sox-orioles on mlb.com

i just don't understand this whole business. i know there's a curse in place and all, but why can't the red sox play decent ball in september? what is it with this whole "september slide" business?

they're handing a game to the lowly orioles as we speak, even as the yankees are losing to toronto, if you can believe that.

they were completely outgunned during the series at yankee stadium this weekend, and they seem to be insisting on further proving their inferiority to the bronx bombers by exposing their naked buttocks to baltimore, who are currently 24 games back in the AL east.

ah, well. i'm on my way home, finally - my work here is done.

forgiveness...or the lack thereof

now playing: counting crows, "sullivan street"

it feels like a good day for introspective music.

it's nice outside, from what i can see - i haven't gone to lunch yet (i usually don't until well past what's considered the norm), but in walking past the one part of my building that actually does have windows, i can see that the sun is shining.

this morning, when i got out of my van, i happened to notice as i was walking around to the other side to remove a computer - that i could see my breath! i couldn't believe it.

i also drove all the way home from philadelphia on sunday night with the window up and didn't come close to breaking a sweat.

i guess this means, as beth recently pointed out, that summer has "packed up and vacated" for the season.

i won't pretend i'm sad to see it go.

this is my favorite time of year - the leaves start to litter the walkways, the air takes on a chill...and there's a palpable sense of melancholy in the air. the days get shorter, the sweaters and blankets come out.

it's always been a reflective time for me...i don't know why any of this could be considered a reason to make this my favorite time of year - there's nothing about that that's sensible, from a traditional standpoint...but that's the way it is.

i've thought a lot about what happened yesterday, and my general attitude towards the kid who was part of that whole mess...and a couple of people have brought my capacity for forgiveness into question. and that's fine - i don't mind being called on something like that - in fact, i welcome it, if you have a valid point to argue.

for better or worse, i suppose that's true - i think that i probably do have a limited capacity for forgiveness. when i'm wronged by someone, that never really goes away. i may put it aside, let bygones be bygones, not think about it on a regular basis - but it doesn't really go away. if someone does something hurtful to me (on purpose, mind you...i can put accidents or regretful things aside, unless they become habitual), then it goes into the database. and if you prove yourself to be a repeat offender, chances are pretty good that i'll end up freezing you out eventually.

now, it should be said that i know other people who do the same thing who carry themselves completely differently - people who harbor grudges and ill will that goes back years, in some cases...i'm generally not like that. i won't hate you or plot your demise if you end up in this category...i just won't offer you opportunity after opportunity to continue to wrong me. you can go your way, i'll go mine, we'll agree to disagree (or at least I will), and that'll be it. i won't bristle at the mention of your name, nor will i recount the story of how badly you screwed me over...i'll just make sure that you won't have the chance to do it again.

my rationale for this is that there are too many wonderful people in this world with whose company my time would be better spent than to harbor a relationship of any kind with someone who ends up on the other side of this particular fence. it's not about grudges or punishing anyone or anything of that nature...it's just about surrounding myself with genuinely good people.

now, there is one exception to this...i do have a friend with whom i've ended up at odds with a number of times and we've always managed to put our crap behind us and move on. i've known him since before he had facial hair, and we have a lot of water under the bridge - we've been at bitter odds several times during our friendship, but we always seem to reconcile ourselves to an understanding after a while. the fact that we always seem to be able to do that, though, is probably more of a testament to the petty nature of the stuff that seems to come between us than to anything else. all of our scraps have been over pretty trivial stuff.

and, chances are, if the kid down the street demonstrated a sincere humility in the face of what happened yesterday, i might actually be willing to put it behind me...

...but i might be just as willing not to.

speaking of long-time friends - terry sturgis, if you're reading this, i promise that very soon i will sit down and write that long "what i've been up to all this time" email that i told you i'd send you when you hunted me down on the 'net. if you've been reading here lately, i'm sure you understand why that hasn't happened yet, but it will.

and, friends - if you're reading this and thinking to yourself, "man - i haven't heard from tom in a while...i wonder if - "

don't. i still love you. promise.

but does it have built in kung-fu grip?

now playing: counting crows, "perfect blue buildings"

well, one thing i know this morning - my kids are gettin' one of these for christmas this year.

the more things change, the more people stay the same.

now playing: super seventies internet radio

so it's after midnight, and another weekend is officially over.

i took everyone out to dinner when i got back from philadelphia tonight - the nik everett group had their first unofficial gig today at a club in philadelphia called finegan's wake in the northern liberties section of town (we were thinkin' about you, mitch), and it went off, for the most part, without a hitch...there was a strange low-frequency rumbling that perpetuated pretty much the entire set, but it was a large room with a large PA (which is to say, it was a loud set), and the vocals could've used some attention from the soundman in terms of their placement in the mix...but, considering it was a benefit, it wasn't bad for free help.

but - the gig has come and gone, everyone has been returned to the place where they shall sleep for the night, and i'm taking in the final few quiet moments before the insanity of yet another week sets in.

before i left today, i took jayda and her (for all practical purposes) stepsister chelsea to the mall. jayda wanted to get her fingernails done (she's such a teenager now), and i told her that i'd take her if she'd get in touch with her mom and make sure that she could retrieve her from the mall and bring her home with her or drop her off back here. the gig ran over (multi-band bills always do), so i called the house a little before seven to see who was or wasn't here, and talked to jayda...she told me that dylan was still here, and that chelsea had returned here with her.

all very good - she asked where i was and how long it'd be before i got back, and i proceeded home.

it was a nice night for the drive - the roads were more littered than i'd have preferred with people with no agenda - nowhere to go and perfectly content to force their lack of agenda on those who wanted to actually be somewhere by driving below the speed limit in the left lane, oblivious to the volkswagen van defying the laws of physics by flying into their rear view mirror at an allegedly impossible speed. i had a couple of instances where i had to do some pretty deft maneuvering to slip out from behind what i like to call "bingo rangers" (folks of a usually elderly nature who - in my fantasy of who they are - travel the nations' highways with their cataract-friendly sunglasses on, driving insanely slow in the left lane on their way to the next bingo hall).

but, i got home and jayda and chelsea were sitting on the front porch and something was obviously wrong. it turns out that there was something of an altercation - not a physical one, but essentially an exchange of "you got a problem?" type verbage with some punks across the street. apparently, the girls were on the front porch, listening to music through the front window, and these kids yelled "nigger" out the window of one of the upper floors of the house across the street. jayda looked at chelsea and they confirmed that they heard what they heard.

now, i don't remember the exact details of what was said to whom and in what order the events that took place actually happened...jayda recounted the whole thing to me, but that was the one incident that i remember very clearly. there were other things (them shining flashlights across the street, stupid shit like that...

a few things to point out, as background: chelsea is, in fact, black - jayda's mother is currently involved in a mixed-race relationship. also, there were three kids involved in this little game, and one of them was mike - garrison's brother...one of the kids who lives two houses away. mike and garrison have been inside our house, we've made them welcome here, we've allowed them to hang out on the porch with the kids well past when i would usually allow anyone on the porch on a weeknight...i'm extremely conscious of noise, and don't want to be the neighborhood asshole whos' constantly raising a ruckus. as such, i typically don't condone anything like that. in fact, if the truth be told...were i to have been here, i probably wouldn't have allowed them to be on the porch pumping music out through the window. no, not probably - it wouldn't have happened, period. i live in this neighborhood because i don't want to hear what the neighbors are listening to, and i'll assume, for the sake of argument, that they probably live here for similar reasons.

but that doesn't give anyone license to be an asshole. "could you please turn that down?" and "nigger!" come from two entirely different motivations.

so i found out about this when i got home....and, just as i was being briefed by the girls on the front porch, the three jackasses come dragging themselves across the street to the sidewalk in front of our house, trailed by mike's mother, heather, and her boyfriend, vinnie.

"sorry", he says.

"sorry? you're sorry? sorry don't get it...you should get your ass kicked," i said to him right in front of his parents. "what is it that gives you the right to say that to somebody, man? do you really think that's ok?" then heather chimed in, and she was livid. she apologized profusely, repeated that she didn't raise her children to be that disrespectful, she couldn't imagine what he was thinking, so on and so forth...and i could tell that she was both humiliated and shamed by what he'd done. i told her that this wasn't about her at all, and i knew that she wouldn't stand for something like this...and that there were no hard feelings between us. we all stood on the lawn and chatted for a while before we left for dinner and to take chelsea home, and all is well between the parents involved.

but mike can kiss my ass. he won't be in this house again, and i don't have anything to say to him. i don't care how sorry he is. i don't care if he's just a kid. i don't care if it was his friends who said it and he was basically the ollie north of the whole caper.

if you're the kind of person who can be swayed by another human being to act like that towards someone who's been nothing but hospitable to you, then i have no room for you in my life. i'd rather fill it with people who have enough sense to think for themselves and who know the difference between a joke and a slur...among other things.

is this where i live, though? have i moved into a nicer neighborhood, really?

i know that by the standards of the world as a whole, this is probably a pretty trivial incident....but what the fuck? i mean, is this never gonna go away? are we doomed to our own ignorance as a race?

i told the girls tonight at dinner that in another half dozen generations or so, as mixed-race becomes more commonplace, that a time might eventually come when the race pools are so convoluted that no one will be able to tell anyone apart from one another....i suppose that this could be a real possibility, but it'll take a lot longer than that. and if we all survive as an entity that long, i'm sure we'll have come up with plenty of other reasons to hate each other by then.

it's one of the things we're good at.



now playing: nik everett, "excellent night"

which reminds me, i had the weirdest dream a few nights ago...i was in the cafeteria of the kids' middle school and niks' band was playing that song, but i wasn't in the band - i was sitting at a table in the cafeteria with a guy from work, troy dunlap - and we were complaining about the sound, because the band was playing through the crappy PA speakers that they have hanging from the walls in there (the root of which could probably come from my complaining about how awful they sounded last year when jayda sang norah jone's "i don't know why" with the band, and then they had a musical review in there at one point as well, where jayda sang the flashdance theme...but i digress).

anyway, troy got up to go adjust the PA and the whole thing died when he reached over to fix it...and nik got pissed at both of us. now, why the band was playing and i wasn't playing with them, i can't recall. but then since when do dreams have to make sense?


considering that it seems to be accepted at this point that these documents were forged or altered in some way, this can't be good news for our incumbent...

...especially when you consider that a healthy number of people who voted "no" probably did so in the spirit of recognizing the documents as fake, for the purpose of the poll.

digby has an excellent variation on the CEO analogy regarding bush, as well.

so i thought today i'd try to do a little digging to see if there were any fresh rumors or (who knows? maybe) actual news on the web regarding the status of dan fogelberg, and - as i'm sure you would surmise - rumors abound. i was taken, though, by how many other artists have posted get-well wishes on their own sites...stephen bishop, cowboy junkies, pat metheny, bodeans, garth brooks, david crosby - even lenny kravitz's bulletin board has a mention of it. i also found one of the only newspaper articles that wasn't a rehash of the wire story.

but not a word of news by way of an update on his condition.

the end of the day approaches...it's been one of those days where i've literally typed a handful of words at a time, and rather than try to continue a patched-together collection of thoughts, i think i'll allow myself to live to fight another day.

master and commander, signing off...


links and thoughts

now playing: dan fogelberg, "hearts and crafts"

i'm going to record that song myself very, very soon.

today, lane at eat your vegetables has a link to a great NYT editorial from larry david (creator of seinfeld) called are you undecided? or not?

"....You may be fooling everyone else with your little "undecided" act, but you're not fooling me. You know perfectly well whom you're voting for. The only reason you say you're undecided is that it's a cheap ploy to get attention. How do I know? Because I'm the most indecisive person in the world. I set the template, baby, and you're not passing the smell test.

...Anyone who can't make up his or her mind at this point in the campaign should forget about the election entirely, buy a pint of ice cream and get into bed."

read here.

most of you will be aware of this already, but it would appear that nader is off the florida ballot again...as of today, anyway.

johnathan weiler at the gadflyer has a pretty good bead on what dubya really stands for.

how's this for a flip-flop?

"...While he claimed during the 2000 campaign that, as CEO of Halliburton, he had "imposed a 'firm policy' against trading with Iraq," confidential UN records show that, from the first half of 1997 to the summer of 2000, Halliburton held stakes in two firms that sold more than $73 million in oil production equipment and spare parts to Iraq while Cheney was in charge. Halliburton acquired its interest in both firms while Cheney was at the helm, and continued doing business through them until just months before Cheney was named George W. Bush's running mate.

Perhaps even more troubling, at the same time Cheney was doing business with Iraq, he launched a public broadside against sanctions laws designed to cut off funds to regimes like Iran, which the State Department listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. In 1998, Cheney traveled to Kuala Lumpur to attack his own country's terrorism policies for being too strict. Under the headline, "Former US Defence Secretary Says Iran-Libya Sanctions Act 'Wrong,'" the Malaysian News Agency reported that Cheney "hit out at his government" and said sanctions on terrorist countries were "ineffective, did not provide the desired results and [were] a bad policy."

also, if you haven't seen it yet today - whatever lead bush had coming of of HateFest'04 has vanished for the time being.

sat down today and read through a bunch of my recent posts and realized that i've discussed nothing but politics here for quite some time...i'm not sure how that's playing among those of you who stop by here occasionally - but i do have some other things on my mind that i'll hopefully find time to commit to cyberpaper at some point in the not-too-distant future. work has its foot pretty firmly on my throat at the moment, though....


tricky dick redux

now playing: allman brothers, "little martha"

oliver willis says out loud something that i've contemplated for some time now...that with the media's eagerness to be complicit in their unified bobbleheadedness, watergate would never happen in the current media climate....

...unless, maybe, nixon had received some sexual favors on the side...now that's newsworthy - impeachable, even.

sometimes i love to say i told you so...

now playing: lionel richie, "you are"

remember when i said that i'd be surprised if kerry didn't end up hiring the alabama woman who lost her job because of the bumper sticker?

so shall it be done.

...late this afternoon, Kerry himself phoned Gobbell. "He was telling me how proud he was that I stood up," Gobbell told me. "He'd read the part where Phil said I could either work for him or work for John Kerry. He said, 'you let him know you're working for me as of today.' I was just so shocked."

Gobbell accepted Kerry's job offer, "so I reckon I'll be working for John Kerry."

now i can lay me down with a smile on my face.


et tu, ralph?

now playing: blue rodeo, "hasn't hit me yet"

a couple of things before i wrap up and get ready to head home here....

apparently, some folks finally find it newsworthy that you don't see dubya very often at 1600 pennsylvania avenue these days....

hell, i thought that was common knowledge...what with this guy having the most vacation days on the books of any other US president...well, EVER.

also, the founder of texans for truth is offering a $50K reward for anyone who can prove that dubya fulfilled his guard duties.

i'm sure that'll find its way into the same bank account that the ten grand michael moore never got to pay out in guarantee money that every fact represented in his movie was on the money...

sorry, bad pun....

oh, and it looks like the florida democratic party is opting not to get the word "welcome" inlaid in astroturf on their collective asses, and will be at least making an effort to fight the underhanded addition of nader to the florida ballot.

now, we've discussed this a bit in the comments...and i think that, at this point, should nader be removed from the ballot, then the folks who would've voted for nader will end up just staying home.

and frankly, after watching the crap that ralph has pulled thus far this election...taking GOP money and volunteer hours to bolster his petitions and the like...i have to say this won't bother me one bit.

backdoor WMD

now playing: pat benetar, "if you think you know how to love me"

here's a way to supplant your iraq-has-wmd argument...

give them to 'em yourself so they can shoot back at you.

as the now-defunct fallujah bridage has fallen apart and joined the insurgency, hundreds of AK-47 rifles and other munitions provided to them by the so-called "coalition forces" have been used against the very soldiers who provided the weapons for the iraqi security forces.

never assume that it's the absolute worst it could be...

now playing: newsnight on cnn

well, i knew it. i knew that the minute something happened so screwy that i couldn't imagine anything more unbelieveable happening, that i was askin' for it.

and boy, did i ever get it.

it appears that Brother Jeb has ignored the orders of a florida judge who issued a court order removing ralph nader from the florida ballot, and has ordered the state elections commissioner to include him on the florida ballot anyway.

does no one see through this crap?

this really is a long, shitty nightmare.


suburban dwelling, part one

now playing: john madden and...that other guy

how to tell that you've moved to the suburbs, item #4589-a:

the song blasting from the car stereo that passes you as you're arriving home from work at 9:15pm isn't the latest spanish reggae smash, or the new dance mix by dj arson, or any of the myriad macarena soundalikes that crawl the streets over the bridge and far away...

no - instead, it's "hello" by lionel richie.

sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

when you think you've heard it all...

now playing: dan fogelberg, "make love stay"

posted in a thread at daily kos:


MOULTON -- Lynne Gobbell never imagined the cost of a Kerry-Edwards bumper sticker could run so high.

Lynne Gobbell said her boss fired her last week because of the Kerry-Edwards campaign sticker on the back of her car.

Gobbell of Moulton didn't pay a cent for the sticker that she proudly displays on the rear windshield of her Chevrolet Lumina, but said it cost her job at a local factory after it angered her boss, Phil Gaddis.


"We were going back to work from break, and my manager told me that Phil said to remove the sticker off my car or I was fired," she said. "I told him that Phil couldn't tell me who to vote for. He said, 'Go tell him.' "

She went to Gaddis' office, knocked on the door and entered on his orders.

"Phil and another man who works there were there," she said. "I asked him if he said to remove the sticker and he said, 'Yes, I did.' I told him he couldn't tell me who to vote for. When I told him that, he told me, 'I own this place.' I told him he still couldn't tell me who to vote for."

Gobbell said Gaddis told her to "get out of here."

"I asked him if I was fired and he told me he was thinking about it," she said. "I said, 'Well, am I fired?' He hollered and said, 'Get out of here and shut the door.' "

She said her manager was standing in another room and she asked him if that meant for her to go back to work or go home. The manager told her to go back to work, but he came back a few minutes later and said, " 'I reckon you're fired. You could either work for him or John Kerry,' " Gobbell said.

"I took off my gloves and threw them in the garbage and left," Gobbell said.

Though she is unemployed and uncertain if she will get her job back, Gobbell said, she doesn't regret her decision to keep the sticker on her windshield.

"I would like to find another job, but I would take that job back because I need to work," she said. "It upset me and made me mad that he could put a letter in my check expressing his (political) opinion, but I can't put something on my car expressing mine."

She was referring to a flier that she said Gaddis placed in employee envelopes to remind them of the positive impact that President Bush's policies have had on them. An employee at the plant who would not identify himself confirmed the contents of the letter.


ya know what? i have nothing to say about this. i'm just plain fucking shocked.

i challenge anyone - ANYONE - to find me a verifiable example of this kind of behavior from supporters on the left of this ticket.

the thing that kills me is the repubs consider themselves to be God's chosen party.

what a bunch of assholes.

that is all.

the will of the american people is consistent with bustin' a cap in bill frist's ass...

now playing: shawn colvin, "dead of the night"

ya know, those darned republicans...you just can't help but marvel at the authority with which they maintain their grip on the pulse of the american people.

good ol' bill frist (senate majority leader guy), was busying polishing the turd that was his refusal to extend the ban on assault weapons today, saying that "I think the will of the American people is consistent with letting it expire, so it will expire."

now, if anybody knows the will of the american people better than a republican senator from tennessee, it'd have to be cnn, right?

now there's a guy who knows how to give the people what they want.

from my inbox

now playing: janis ian, "when the party's over"

got this letter from my friend jon delong over the weekend, and felt compelled to reprint it here (with the author's permission):

Well, I wish I were kidding, but I've gotta say a few quick words about the presidential election. Now, I won't insult you by insisting you should vote for so-and-so, giving you a rah-rah-USA spiel, or anything like that.
But I will relate an opinion I've heard from a number of Americans on my recent travels: More than a small handful of people have told me recently, "I really don't like either Bush or Kerry, and I feel like I should vote, but I'm just not thrilled with either candidate." Voter apathy--it's not just for kids anymore.

Seriously, though, I'm not quoting stoned-out mall-rats here. I'm talking about people who ALWAYS vote, people who have been registering and voting since they were eighteen, and people who, I'm guessing, will vote in this election as well, no matter how apathetic they feel. Nevertheless I think apathy, a general sense of disengagement from politics, the feeling that American citizens have no power over their own government... these emotions are quite likely more pervasive now than they have ever been before, at least during my lifetime.

And yet, amid the apathy, I think this election is important. Gravely important. And I think the press, and even the candidates much of the time, are distracting us from the issues that make this election truly monumental. Kerry's service in Vietnam, Bush's record with the Texas Air Guard... these are not the issues that define a watershed event in American history.
Neither are quips about Bush's English ("I understand small business growth. I was one."), or Kerry's "Waffle House." More surprisingly, however, taxation, government size, abortion, gun control, gay marriage, job creation, education, the environment--all the issues that classically divide Democrats and Republicans--these are important issues, to be sure, but they're not the issues that lead me to believe that this election will have a historical impact greater than "just another presidential selection."

I hate to get up on a soap box in front of you, my friends, and I promise to keep this as brief as I can (although that's not saying much)... here's my point. This election is important because I believe that, to a greater degree than my generation has ever experienced, in 2004 we are voting about what kind of country we want to live in. Over the past four years, we have experienced profound tragedy, and we have responded to that tragedy in a number of unprecedented ways. We have declared war on an entire nation in response to the actions of a small number of terrorists who may have no ties to that nation at all. We have parted ways with the United Nations, with the Geneva Convention. And we have repeatedly dismissed the objections of our international neighbors and allies. And that's just the tip of the iceberg... I'm leaving out the Patriot Act, the Department of Homeland Security, the Terrorist Screening Center... the list goes on.

Why have we done these things ? I think both Democrats and Republicans essentially agree on that, in principle at least: we have done these things to try to protect ourselves. National security, safety, fear... call it what you will, the spectre of terrorism has raised the question of where to draw the line of response, and our response has been dangerously close to, "we are willing to draw that line ANYWHERE, so long as it's in the hope of protecting ourselves."

Now, I say that "we" have done these things, but as we all know, our government is more Republic than Democracy... WE didn't get to vote on whether to invade Iraq, and WE didn't get to vote on the methods that were used to interrogate Iraqi prisoners. But on November 2nd, 2004--on that date we do get to vote, and I submit that this election is a referendum on the direction our country is headed. Maybe you believe, as I do, that while many individual Americans have responded to the threat of terror with courage and patriotism (firemen, policemen, and soldiers head the list, but there are plenty of "normal" everyday Americans on that list as well), I believe the White House, on the other hand, has turned its back on many of the core values that make our nation great. I believe this White House has, through its actions, proclaimed in no uncertain terms that it answers to no one. Not the international community, not the United Nations, not even the American citizens.

I believe we are headed down a dangerous path that asks us to forfeit not merely our historical role in the international community, but truly our freedom and our humanity.

Then again, maybe you disagree, and you're pleased with the new direction our country has taken.

Either way, I respectfully urge you all to get involved in this election.

Knowing many of you as I do, I'm quite certain you're already thinking seriously about these issues. But more importantly, please encourage others to get involved as well. I believe we are at a crossroads in the history of our nation, and this election will determine which path we take. It is both an exciting and a frightening time to be alive, and this is a time when our country desperately needs our thoughts, our prayers, and our votes.

shout-out to Mr. Errich

now playing: eastmountainsouth, "too soon"

hello to the students of Pete Errich's class at Governor Mifflin, whom i understand will be peeking in here in the not too distant future. i apologize for the profanity.

these are profane times.

a few links for you guys to check out:

the curse of dick cheney in rolling stone

our government makes no distinction between terrorists and the governments who support them...even if it happens to be our own

the first amendment is for pussies

enjoy...and welcome!

(and i'll do my best to get those dvd's done in a reasonable amount of time...)

some anniversary thoughts

now playing: aunt pat, "satellite"

i really wasn't planning on throwing my hat into the 9/11 retrospective ring, but what with all the news headlines of the past few days, i thought i'd bring up a couple of things...

first of all, iraq continues its downward spiral - news reports point out 59 dead in a series of attacks over the weekend, for one thing. and in case you didn't hear, the casualty statistics point to a worsening situation. and regardless of what you might be hearing elsewhere, the soldiers on the ground aren't telling a very pleasant story.

and what of that bin laden guy? anyone remember him?

meanwhile in afghanistan (another name that might jog your memory if you've been following this little escapade), things have largely returned to lawlessness - car bombing incidents are becoming commonplace again, one of them last month and one the month before. and the resurgence of the taliban has been reported for almost a year now. now, if you're a heroin addict, the resurgence might be good news - because while the taliban had all but brought opium production to a halt, the post-taliban era has seen production go right through the roof.

maybe dubya can state unequivocally that america is safer...but everything we've touched since he came to power has turned to shit.

i wonder how i'd feel, as a family member of someone who died on 9/11, having observed what i've seen in the time since. i know how i feel already...i don't know if i have the capacity for the anger and rage that would accompany having that kind of elevated personal stake in what's happened in the past three years.

in the past month, i've taken some pretty deliberate steps toward becoming an active democratic campaigner, in terms of going to meetings and training and the like - and the message is pretty plain: this election will be won or lost on the ground. the subtext of this is to say that we have to take our message to people on a one-on-one basis and shake people loose from their apathy, and try to reason with those who have taken the message of the power in party to heart and actually believe their propoganda.

now, this is easy to conceptualize, and sounds good on paper, but i'm having a hard time with this.


because i'm not sure i want to know where certain people stand. i've witnessed the respect that i've had for certain people absolutely wither when i've found out where they stand politically. i know how that sounds, and i struggle with it myself, but it's true. especially when we're talking about someone whos' an acquaintance - someone i don't know well enough to have formed a real bond with. they don't stand a snowballs' chance in hell. they're automatically off my list.

seriously, i'm finding myself evaluating people entirely based upon their political stances. obviously this isn't true across the board...i do have misguided friends that i've known for a long time who have positive attributes that outweigh their sad-assed political positions, but that's been because i've known them long enough that time has allowed this to happen. nik is a great example. the last time we talked about this, he told me that he's all but made up his mind that he's probably going to vote libertarian in this election, simply because he doesn't feel at ease voting for either of the major-party candidates. i'd question the logic of this with anyone else, but where niks' concerned, i know that he's come to this decision after giving this some serious thought, and that it reflects his true position and not some knee-jerk reaction to his rebellious streak.

so i can accept nik's position without any compromise of our friendship. it's the people who constantly invoke the "flip-flop" thing as if they've spent hours researching kerry's record, but yet can't provide you with a single example other than the oft-touted "87 billion dollar vote". yet when you hit them with the avalanche of bush flip-flops that have occured over the last three plus years, they're completely unmoved...as if you made the whole thing up.

these are people to whom facts mean nothing.

so, like i said...maybe knowing where people stand on this stuff isn't necessarily a good thing, for me.


for king midas in reverse, the third time truly is the charm

now playing: crickets...real ones...outside the kitchen window

ok, before i start here...this shit is just too funny.

swallow what you're drinking before you read any further....



bob novak...you know novak, right? the guy who blew CIA operative valerie plames' cover in his national newspaper column? the guy who still hasn't revealed the identity of the individual who passed this information on to him - and individual guilty of a federal crime as a result of revealing the identity of a CIA operative?

yeah, that bob novak.

today, this guy sits in front of a tv camera in front of a nationwide television audience, and says that CBS should reveal its source for the document analysis on the killian papers.

does that just slay ya or what?

as brodsky would say, "how's that for a fuckin' black fly in your chardonnay?"

oh, and bobby? just as an aside, cbs has already given their analyst a name, if you haven't noticed.

alright. i feel better now.

anyway, tonight makes the third night in a weeks' time that i've missed a musical appointment of some sort...rehearsal with nik early on, then with one of my bands last night, and tonight with blake. i left work at 7:30, drove straight to phoenixville (got hung up there because of a stupid problem with a previous (hidden) installation of norton systemworks that totally screwed the computer after i installed another AV client on it without checking for the older norton install), then from there to collegeville to straighten out a printer situation and an eaten-alive startup file. when i booted up her machine after installing her printer drivers, i attached it to the internet for around ten minutes or so, monitoring the packets sent over the connection...the sent packets outnumbered the received packets by 3 to 1 easily. no mystery there. ran hijack this and removed over a dozen lines of offending browser hijackers and all of a sudden, she was back to normal.

she gave me $20 and three bottles of jimmy neutron children's chewable vitamins as a token of her appreciation.

i really am the adam "wedding singer" sandler of computer repair.


so if anyone has a small child who would benefit from three boxes of jimmy neutron chewable vitamins, email me. they're yours, free of charge.

(but if you wanna send me one of your special, homemade meatballs in trade, i promise to carry it around in my pocket for at least a day.)

tom hampton, ladies and gentlemen. computer tech to the golden girls.

anyway...nik, darryl, and blake...guys, i publicly apologize for everything that's gone down this week to keep me from being where i was supposed to be at the various times i was supposed to be somewhere other than where i was. (or, in certain cases, for not being able to be in two places at once.)

i think i'm going to try and repair some of my karma by getting up in the morning and offering to take my ex-girlfriend and her daughter out to lunch for her birthday. every little bit helps. i hope.


just checkin'...

now playing: dan fogelberg, "dancing shoes"

i don't know if i mentioned earlier that i'd taken the kids back to their moms' last night as the whole "fire mystery" was unfolding...but this morning, dylan called at around 6am to "make sure we hadn't burned up".

so the schedule for this weekend is already reeking of non-productivity, in a domestic sense...two PC stops tonight and one on sunday afternoon...a gig at the Village in Leesport tomorrow night (during which we may or may not be celebrating my work bud Angela's 30th birthday with her) and a Get Out The Vote benefit in philly at the point with my buddy nik everett.

i'm probably gonna end up back in here tomorrow for a bit, as well...you should see the pile of crap that surrounds my bench. it's not funny.

goin' out with ashley simpson

now playing: dan fogelberg, "illinois"

moby posted this on his journal some time back, and i think it bears repeating:

you know what politics is/are like in the united states?

it's like pop-music and/or dating.

example a: pop-music.

republicans are like ashley simpson, and democrats are like radiohead. radiohead fans will forever be mystified as to why someone would buy an ashley simpson cd, but ashley simpson's handlers/managers understand what the lowest common denominator are looking for and they give it to them. radiohead fans think 'that disposable pop music is terrible, and someday people will see the error of their ways and buy radiohead cd's instead of ashley simpson cd's', meanwhile ashley simpson and her managers are selling millions of records.

example b: dating.

democrats are the bright, conscientious, responsible guy in the corner of the party and republicans are the loud, boastful, arrogant guy in the middle of the room. the bright guy in the corner thinks 'that loud guy in the middle of the room is a jerk and eventually everyone will see him for what he is', but the loud guy goes home with the hot girl and the bright guy in the corner goes home alone.

my point?

yes, radiohead are better than ashley simpson.

and yes, the bright, interesting guy in the corner is better than the loud jerk in the middle of the room.

but ashley simpson and the loud jerk in the middle of the room know what people want, and that's why they(and the republicans)are winning.

democrats are nuanced and complicated and republicans are simple and sound-bitey.

people want bright shiny simplicity, not dark obscure complexity.

the democrats put their trust in people's better instincts whereas the republicans put their trust in people's basest instincts.
and that's why the republicans are winning, because they're not governed by ideals, they're governed by results. the republicans want to win no matter what, whereas the democrats want to win because the public will, hopefully, recognize the primacy of their ideas.

and that's why democrats are the step-child party. that's why democrats are the avis to the republicans hertz. that's why democrats are the runners up. because the republicans know how to sell and they know how to win.

of course my hope is that the democrats will learn from the republicans and learn how to win.

but too often it seems that democrats take the 'high road' when the noble and effective thing would be to join the battle in the trenches.

republicans are dirty, and will stop at nothing to win. we saw in 2000 that when democrats take the 'high road' that they lose.
so that's the choice, democrats: take the 'high road' and lose, or learn how to compete in the real world and run the risk of winning...

bill clinton did it, and he won.

al gore didn't do it, and he lost.

i hope that john kerry learns from bill clinton...


oooooooh, that smell....

now playing: harry potter (via audiobook)

nothing caps off a 14 hour workday like coming home to the smell of an electrical fire.

it's a nasty-assed smell...and it smacks you in the face pretty hard the second you come across it.

i came home with dylan at around 9:15 or so, after spending over two hours sitting at dave walton's house, trying in vain to coax the onboard USB adapter into talking to dave's new printer. oddly, the one thing that i thought would present a challenge - trying to read the mind of dave's other PC-literate friend who'd set up his cable modem and wireless router - turned out to be a piece of cake. he didn't bother to change any of the default settings, so it detected everything right away, and his PC was on the 'net in no time.

it was the printer - the thing that was supposed to be a no-brainer - that turned out to drive me to the edge of insanity.

now the plan (as it existed in its initial, naive form) was to pick up the kids (done), drop jayda off at a friends' house (done), and then go back to dave's house to drop off the PC and install everything and get his printer and internet connection squared away (herein lies the rub).

dylan came along - after all, we weren't going to be there long - and waited more patiently than any kid should have to while i did battle with a stubborn-assed NTKERN.VXD file that refused to load the USB root hub driver...and, as such, couldn't talk to the printer.

i tried EVERYTHING. i uninstalled and reinstalled it in device manager, i abided by the micro$oft sanctioned solution, and renamed the three specified driver files to *.old, and then used system file checker (yeah, it was a win98 machine) to extract fresh copies from the disk...i downloaded the chipset drivers from the motherboard manufacturers' site, just in case...none of this worked. i had the dreaded yellow exclamation point staring back at me after every restart.

what was supposed to take roughly half an hour, after which time we'd bolt from daves' house, stop at home and pick up a guitar for rehearsal and dash to darryl's house for band practice. then, when practice was over, we'd pick jayda up and i'd drop the kids back at the house while i went to work and finished the end-of-day formalities (stopping long enough to toss a load of laundry into the washer, which would be finished by the time i got back from work, in time to throw it into the dryer, thus sparing me from the need to dip into my emergency stash...and waddle off to work on "tightey whitey friday").

well, nothing in my life ever goes as planned...as i seem to have occasion to say all too often.

dylan patiently sat as i rebooted, reinstalled, deleted, rebooted again...until 8:45 or so. dave walked in just as we were leaving, and i told he and his wife what had happened, in terms of the printers' inability to talk with a USB port that refused any and all drivers thrown at it...and we bolted after jayda, unable at this point to even make a half-hearted effort to salvage a band rehearsal (which will earn me points with the boys, i'm sure.)

(now it should be mentioned that this is two rehearsals i've missed within the space of a week, for two separate bands...why the fuck does anyone call me at all anymore?)

anyway, after getting back to the house with the kids, the smell filled the whole downstairs of the house.

i don't freak out easily, but i was freaked out.

the thing that got to me was that i couldn't pinpoint the source of the smell...it was definitely coming from the kitchen, and it started right after starting the dishwasher, so that had to be it, right? well, ok...but there was no outward evidence that it came from there, and we were all having a hard time figuring out where the smell was most intense...and i had resigned myself at this point to the fact that it had to be some kind of wiring behind the drywall, and i was on the phone to the kids' mom, telling her that i was bringing them back to her house for the night, as i didn't want them sleeping in this house until i knew what the deal was.

SO - i dropped them off at their moms', and went back to work to finish end of day...that took me past midnight - totalling my workday out at sixteen hours, all together.

it's now 1:30 in the morning, and my tightey-whitey bailout load of laundry is spinning beneath my feet in the basement...

...and people wonder occasionally why i sleep until nearly noon on weekends sometimes.

dylan and i were talking on the way back from daves', and dylan said, "whatever happened to your plan to do freelance computer stuff and sell guitars on eBay?"

and i had to say - in my head, anyway - that i didn't realize he was paying attention quite so closely.

but i told him that right now, it feels more secure from where i sit to be able to work during the day and have that job available to me and then take on the work after-hours so i could have the financial security to be able to do things for them...and that maybe after they were out of school and established, then it might be time for me to scale back. but right now, i'm really enjoying being able to provide for them and to make sure that they don't want for anything.

another interesting dylan moment from the evening...we went into daves' study to begin working on his computer, and there's a picture of dave and lilliane on dave's desk...now dylan met dave as he was walking out of a chinese restaurant that we were walking into many moons ago, and to the best of my knowledge, i can't remember any other time that dylan's had occasion to bump into dave for any reason.

but we walked in there and dylan saw the picture and said, "that's the guy we met at the chinese restaurant that time...."

people who don't have kids just don't understand how that feels, man.

my kids kick ass.


the trouble with practicing what you preach...

now playing: poco, "ride the country"

i guess one man's america is another man's afghanistan...or so our actions would seem to say.

i actually read about this on CNN yesterday...but it's been a pretty politically overwhelming week already.


"The search is under way for those who are behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law-enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice," Bush said in a nationally televised address less than 12 hours after what is being called the worst act of terrorism in America's history. "We will make no distinction between those who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

but, hey....how 'bout them red sox, huh?

the sox have 24 games left, and of those 24, only six of them are against a team that's over .500.

and guess which team that might be...

would a cubs-red sox world series be a sign of the apocalypse?


now playing: jackson browne, "doctor my eyes"

so, this morning, i took a few minutes to read the transcript of last night's CBS interview with dan bartlett over at josh marshall's site. here's the crux of the interview, in a nutshell:

CBS: so you've looked at the memos...

BARTLETT: yeah. this guys' dead, though.

CBS: but the memos say...

BARTLETT: the memos are irrelevant, because the guys' dead.

CBS: but they clearly state that...

BARTLETT: look, let's not try to put words into the mouth of a dead man, ok?

CBS: but these are official documents...

BARTLETT: rumor and innuendo from partisan politicians. did i mention that this guy is worm food?

CBS: what about these official documents is rumor and innuendo?

BARTLETT: election year, blah, partisan politics, blah blah...dead guy! DEAD GUY!

CBS: but he had a direct order to report for a physical...

BARTLETT: let's not rush to try to read the mind of a DEAD GUY! DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!

CBS: but it says the president actually approached him with regard to getting out of drills...

BARTLETT: honorable discharge! fulfilled his requirements! records show hundreds of cockpit hours! partisan politics! character assassination! DEAD GUY! these papers are the words of a DEAD GUY! what opinion could a DEAD GUY possibly have in this matter? his contributions to the record as it stands are irrelevant because he's DEAD! DEAD! DEAD!

OK, so maybe that wasn't exactly how it went, word for word....BUT - during what was a pretty brief line of questioning, he did refer to the fact that Lt. Col. Killian has shuffled off this mortal coil seven times. it would appear that this means that your observations and recorded opinions on the matter at hand are somehow irrelevant.

as dana carvey's church lady would say..."how convieeeeenent."

boy, that smear shoe sure is tight on the other foot, isn't it?



now playing: gordon lightfoot, "carefree highway"

so - in case you haven't heard, a vote for kerry is a vote for the terrorists, according to dick "boogeyman" cheney.

"If we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again -- that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States," Cheney said.

the response from the challengers?

Edwards told reporters that "Dick Cheney's scare tactics crossed the line."

"What he said to the American people was that if you go to the polls in November and elect anyone other than us, and another terrorist attack occurs, then it's your fault," Edwards said during a stop in Chillicothe, Ohio.

"This is un-American. The truth is that it proves once again that they will do anything and say anything to keep their jobs."

Edwards said a Kerry administration "will keep the American people safe, and we will not divide the country to do it."

this in light of the news that we now officially have 1000 dead in iraq, and at least 335 dead in beslan...yeah, the world feels like a reeeeal safe place right now.

(if you'd like a closer look at the casualty debacle, stop by here or here.

we're part of the problem, not the solution.

if this is what we get with four years of a president who has the added benefit of a majority representation in the senate, the house, and the supreme court, then i'll pass.

oh, and it now looks like president chickenhawk is already trying to squirm out of at least one of the debates.

maybe he's got other shit to think about.

also, i could swear that when i opened up CNN's home page, they had a story about bush wiggling out of the middle debate...but it seems to have disappeared - not unlike their mysteriously missing story on dubya's illegal abortion.

just got back from picking up lunch at the convienence store down the street, and couldn't help but notice that MiserableFailure's picture is on the cover of both Time and Newsweek (who does he think he is? bruce springsteen?)

i opted, instead, to pick up tracks magazine (with willie nelson and los lonely boys on the cover). henry rollins has a back page column where he discusses a recent trip to baghdad. an excerpt:

...by the time i left to return to kuwait, my thoughts were conflicted and confused. i don't see a winnable situation in iraq. you could nuke it or your could leave, but there's no real way to win. it seems to me that as long as our troops are there, they will be the targets of iraqi aggression.

please vote this year. who you vote for isn't my business, but please value your voice and the chance to make it heard. if the draft comes back, please remind our leader that he has two very draftworthy children who i'm sure would be proud to give something back to america even if a hole has to be dug.

my name is henry rollins. i am not a journalist, a political know-it-all or a salon.com hipster - just a concerned american who loves his country and hates weaklings who sell out the strong.

why does henry rollins hate america?

i mean, it should be obvious who the REAL enemy is...

i'm finding that i feel a real reluctance to write lately (and it seems i'm not alone in that regard).

i think it comes down to being overwhelmed by so much of what i feel is wrong right now. i recall hearing david crosby saying last year that he felt like he was "riding in a car with a drunk at the wheel", and i think that really sums up the sense of anger and powerlessness i feel on an almost perpetual basis right now.

i've also resigned myself to the sometimes difficult task of actually talking to people about their political leanings on a regular basis. i've had a lot of great, informed conversations with people who give their political leanings a lot of thought (nik and blake come to mind, among others), but i've also talked to some people who've already made up their minds to vote for Chimpy, but can't explain why.

it sure is hard - no, HARD - to keep my cool during those conversations.

first of all, why would you vote for someone without having a handy explanation available? i'd rather have someone tell me that they weren't voting at all because they didn't like either candidate (tonya) than to hear that. while i don't have to be told what a huge problem apathy and indifference has become here, i still hate to see it personified.

generally speaking, i have my vocabulary of comebacks on alert for these conversations, and i generally do pretty well with them...for instance, when someone tells me that he represents their values, i gently remind them that they're talking about someone with a history of substance abuse and at least one DUI on the books - and besides, if he's so concerned about values and the american family, how does he explain away the fact that families have taken the biggest hit during his administration since herbert hoover, who presided over the great depression?

if security or terrorism comes up, i gently remind them that 9/11 happened on his watch, right after he came back from a month-long vacation at his ranch in texas, during which he couldn't be bothered to read the 8/6 PDB (presidential daily briefing) titled "bin laden determined to attack targets within the united states" - and that he bucked every attempt to (first) attempt to assemble the 9/11 commision and then to testify before it, until it became obvious that he'd eventually have to - although he was able to evade doing so either alone or under oath.

i've never done volunteer work for a presidential campaign or anything of that nature - but i've gotten involved with the kerry/edwards campaign on a personal level. i played at a country rally for kerry/edwards on monday attended by state senator mike o'pake and our democratic candidate for the house, lois murphy. i've attended dem strategy meetings (one of which was suffered through in solidarity with my buddy pete from shame).

i'm not sure where the line is drawn, in terms of what i won't do to unseat this president.

but i sure do hope that i have something a little less depressing to write or think about soon.

also, i'm adding a blog to my sidebar - soul's road. it's written by rachel in british columbia, and she's brilliant. you won't find any significant political diatribes on it (i can hear the palpable sigh of relief from here) - she writes fearlessly, though, and i love that. i'm not sure what motivates those of us who do this to put ourselves out here like this, for the scrutiny of God-knows-who...i know that when certain friends of mine mention to me that they enjoy reading my journal, it sometimes leaves me with a tangible sense of awkwardness. not my close friends, certainly, because i don't say much here that i wouldn't say to them in person...but when someone from work, for instance, who i don't know particularly well, comments to me about what i write, i immediately wonder if there's an approval deficit - and wonder if what i wrote might have the potential to knock me down a notch or two in their eyes. all residual childhood issues, i know..i've been informed. the great thing about rachels' blog, though, is that it seems completely untouched by any similar concerns. i certainly can't speak for her motivations, but i get the feeling when i read her journal that it's a catharsis for her, in the sense that journals are supposed to be. that was what drew me to beth's journal initially, as well. (she's moved, by the way - the sidebar still has the old NCE address for now, but i've added the address for her new one to the sidebar as well.

my day just went to shit - the phone just rang and it's my favorite end-user.

i know what i'll be doing for the next 45 minutes...listening to fuckin' woe-is-me sob stories and complaints that her dialup internet connection is too slow.



years since we were born

now playing: counting crows, "a murder of one"

"...are you happy when you're sleeping?
does he keep you safe and warm?
does he tell you when you're sorry?
does he tell you when you're wrong?

i've been watching you for hours
it's been years since we were born
we were perfect when we started
i've been wondering where you've gone..."

i just needed a break. really.

i turned off the news for the weekend - no reports of destruction in florida or the murder of hundreds of children in Beslan or wolf blitzers' smarmy mug on CNN (how can you expect a man who literally owes his career to an overdose of "face time" during desert storm to be impartial in a political discussion that features an identical war as its centerpiece?)...

so i essentially took the weekend off from the outside world.

wendy skipped town for the weekend to go to maine, so it was the kids and i. me n' the kids. just the three of us.

and ya know, the interesting thing is that it seems like we did a lot of stuff, but as i sit here now - first day back at work - it doesn't feel like much for three days. i took the kids clothes shopping, for one thing...and that felt good. that's something that's typically been hijacked by their mom in years past, but this year, i just took them for stuff, no questions asked. i feel like (by now, anyway) they should be the best judges of what they will or won't wear, and as long as it fit and didn't look as though they'd only be able to wear it for half an hour before they outgrew it, we got it.

i have no idea at this point how much money we spent. i didn't spend any money i didn't have, but i'm sure the final figures aren't in yet. i would estimate at this point that it was around $350 or so...but that bought a LOT of clothes, man. my daughter is a bargain hound, and she knew almost by instinct exactly where to go and what she could buy at specific stores.

...and dylan really, really, really wanted the network adapter for his PS2 - so i struck a deal with him. do the lawn work for the remaining days of the year and it's yours. i was surprised that he agreed to it, but he did. and on sunday, dylan was outside mowing the grass. if i'd had time, i was going to dig in with him and do the weeds around the edge of the house, but i decided to wait on that until i could get some input as to what i'm allowed to destroy and what should be staying.

(i have a third degree black thumb...i don't know a weed from a tomato plant, an azalea from a marigold, none of that. in fact, at the last house, i would have preferred that the whole back yard have been paved. it was one of those typical row-home back yards, but it resembled a very, very large grave - curved like the top of a pound cake. yeah, the whole thing. and i'm happy to do my part with the yard work, but i lean towards the overzealous - if it's not in the "to be mowed" category, i'll rip it the hell out and scatter mulch over the hole.)

i did hit one rough patch with jayda, when i said something that i really had no business saying - at least not the way i said it.

on sunday, she wanted to hang out with her friend marissa, which i was only too happy to be a party to...originally, marissa was coming to our house, but her friend javier called and the two of them decided they wanted to go to his house. OK, no problem - dylan and i were going to pick up his new desk and the new box springs for the full-sized beds upstairs anyway.

so i asked where he lived, and she then asked him where he lived...i knew he lived in mt. penn, but that's all i knew.

well, apparently this kid didn't know how to tell her to get there. he ended up telling her to go to the wendy's on perkiomen avenue (the main thoroughfare through mt. penn) and he'd meet her there.

i was astonished..."how old is this kid?" i asked her. "sixteen", she said.

i said, incredulously, "you mean to tell me this kid is sixteen and he can't tell you where the hell he lives?!???"

without getting into too much detail, let's just say that i said some things that could be construed as an insult to his intelligence.

and i don't regret anything i said about him, because - as far as i'm concerned - if you get to be that age and you don't know where you live, you don't have a leg to stand on to argue the other side of that coin.

further, as it turns out...the kid lives right on perkiomen avenue...the main drag in mount penn.

i'm sorry, man, but you gotta be pretty damn thick...

but anyway, like i said...i don't really feel bad about what i said about him, but i did say some things that i think she found personally insulting, and that wasn't my intention at all. thankfully, it became water under the bridge in pretty quick fashion, but i do have to be aware of my words and try to be a little more thoughtful of their effect.

where the kids are concerned, anyway.

it's probably wrong that i still have no remorse about what i said about this javier kid, but it's the truth. and i feel like i probably have a bead on jayda's motivation...because i've had a tendency in similar directions, in my life. i always had a tendency to "take in strays" (as blake would say) - to consult with the underdogs. in a lot of ways, there was a sense of purpose in aligning myself with the "strays", so to speak...in a lot of ways, they were a lot more interesting, from a character standpoint. they spoke to my antiestablishment sense, and being part of that rung of the food chain gave me something to rail against.

now, though, as the protective parent, i have a hard time sympathizing with any kind of bond with a sixteen year old kid who can't tell you how to get to their house that's six houses away from the fast-food restaurant they asked you to meet them at.

i guess it could be said that being a parent has sharpened my protective genes, and that i make what could be outwardly safer choices for my children than i would make for myself.

did i mention that dylan's new desk rocks? he says that it reminds him of the swimming pool. if you could see a picture of it, you'd understand why.

now, though, i have to finish his bed and get him off the futon and into his real bed...then the house will be in order.

well, i'm also gonna reinstall windows on both of the kids' (and my own) computers and get our network in order. i'm gonna put another PC in the studio that's going to act as a file server, as well. yep, user directories and the whole nine yards.

i'm such a geek.

anyway, now that i'm back, i guess i have some catching up to do. stand by....



now playing: john mccain on the late show with david letterman

is anybody watching this?

i think this interview is gonna come up in conversation any number of times in the not-too-distant-future....


the face of the republican party

now playing: train, she's on fire"

when you think about the true meaning of compassionate conservatism, consider this for your poster child:

note that she's wearing one of the wingnut-distributed "purple heart band aids", handed out by condescending virginia republican asshat puppet morton blackwell. they were distributed with the message, "It was just a self-inflicted scratch, but you see I got a Purple Heart for it."

i spent four years in the navy and got out with nary a scratch, but were i a purple heart recipient, i'd be pissed. as it is, i guess i should only be annoyed.

ladies and gentlemen, meet the compassionate conservatives of your republican party.

the Daily Stinger

now playing: nik everett, "excellent night"

welcome to a new feature here at the Mirror...the Daily Stinger.

i suppose i could call it the Daily Plagiarizer, save for the fact that links are supplied for the sources...but the plan is to compile all the little nuggets that i trip over on a somewhat regular basis into a "greatest hits" format.


because, seriously...some of this shit is just too good to pass up.

a couple of prizewinners from kryptonite-bearing oliver willis:

"I would like to thank the media, who for four nights of the DNC convention, brought on Republicans to bash John Kerry. And now, during the RNC convention, bringing on Republicans to... bash John Kerry."

"Where's the "shut up & sing" crowd when Jason Sehorn, Angie Harmon, Bo Derek, Ron Silver, and Ahnuld are shooting their mouths off about how we should all be good little stepfords and vote Republican?

I'm just saying."

digby on the "swing" voters:

"They say they want specifics. They always say they want specifics, but they don't understand the specifics when they hear them so they just pretend that they didn't hear any and piss and moan again about the candidate not addressing 'the issues.'"

atrios at the fox news protest:

"Was sizeable and growing crowd. I enjoyed the much more effective "The More You Watch The Less You Know" chant rather than the "Shut Up!" one. The latter is funny, but only if you realize what the joke is, otherwise it's just those crazy liberals trying to stifle free speech."

from the daily show:

"Corddry: How does one report the facts in an unbiased way when the facts themselves are biased?

Stewart: I’m sorry, Rob, did you say the facts are biased?

Corddry: That’s right Jon. From the names of our fallen soldiers to the gradual withdrawal of our allies to the growing insurgency, it’s become all too clear that facts in Iraq have an anti-Bush agenda."

from a commenter over at matt yglesias' blog:

Democrat: Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?
Republican: No, but how can you be? We're at war, you traitor.

from paul waldman at the flytrap:

"One final note on the Republican 2008 sweepstakes: much as reporters like to talk about the idea, Rudy Giuliani has about as much chance of being nominated as RuPaul. Forget about Giuliani being an adulterer who's pro-gay rights - no pro-choice candidate is ever going to get the Republican nomination."

on the incarceration of a friend during the NYC protests:

"In among his group of detainees was a large contingent that had staged a same-sex makeout session to shock and awe GOP delegates exiting Broadway shows. While it is unclear whether any of the delegates had a change of heart on gay marriage, upon the protester's arrival at the warehouse serving as a holding area, the men were sent to one pen and the women to another. Reports of continued making out could not be confirmed."

in closing for the moment, how do we put a stop to this?

from the permanent records newsletter

now playing: dan fogelberg, "dancing shoes"

"necessity is the mother fucker of invention."

--adam brodsky, songwriter - author of "fuck you and the sport utility vehicle you rode in on", "jesus owes me fifty bucks", "clap you fuckers clap", and "the girl i like is a diesel dyke"

i was gonna take off the fogelberg earlier, but i know adam would be honored to have his name mentioned in the same post, so there be it.

homegrown democrat

now playing: dan fogelberg, "hearts and crafts"

links to this article are turning up in other places, but just in case:

"The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good."

--Garrison Keillor

of warren zevon...

now playing: dan fogelberg and tim weisberg, "paris nocturne"

came in early this morning, involuntarily...as today is my first day of school. the kids started back yesterday, but this morning was my first day to take them to the bus stop...so i had a very relaxing drive in to work, as i had no reason whatsoever to be in a hurry.

i'm remembering a t-shirt i saw once...."it sure makes for a long day at work when you show up on time."

amen, brother.

so i came in and sat down and went through my usual morning internet stops....it seems that one of a handful of my most recent set of favorite reads, spencer, went on a caffeine binge that tossed him into (in his words) a five hour "nauseated haze"...he bought a six pack of jolt at a bargain price and drank all of them in a two hour window. (for those who read labels, that's 720mg of caffeine in what could be called one shot.)

as i was sitting here chuckling at his misfortune, i remembered an interview that jackson browne gave bill flanagan for the late, great musician magazine, where he told a story about warren zevon's experience with herbal tea...amazingly, i found a snippet of it on the internet:

JB: "Zevon tole me that he'd had this sort of conniption fit at the airport...I think it was because of a herbal remedy given to him by a Chinese doctor friend of mine and David Lindley's. Chinese medicine - we're talking very sophisticated drugs made with herbs. You're supposed to drink half a cup of this tea, get under the covers and sweat it out. Well Warren of course , says "If half a cup will make you better..." So he drinks cup after cup of this stuff. Then he's going to get on a plane and go to New York! He has a seizure!

So as he's going down, and the medics are putting that thing in your mouth that keeps you from swallowing your tongue, he says, "my last thought was, 'Oh, God, please don't let me die and have Jackson write a song about me!'

I had just come from crying my eyes out with Paul Barerre and Billy Payne at the Lowell George memorial concert - I left there and went up to Warren's house and he said that to me.

Just for that I will definitely write a song about Warren."

BF: whether he dies or not?

JB: "especially if he dies."

so be careful, huggy bear...i may have to write a song about you.