Monthly Archives: October 2012

Boardwalk Empire Thread: Easter Sunday Bloody Sunday

Boardwalk portrait

It’s
Easter Sunday, 1923. It’s a day for family gatherings, which can be weirder
than hell. Since we’re talking Boardwalk Empire, they, quite naturally,
veer off in odd and unexpected directions. Sort of like Easters in my family.
Of course, it was all very Greeky Greek complete with the e gg crushing Christos anesti thing
and roast leg of lamb. But I digress; anyone surprised by that? I thought not.

Okey
dokey. On to this week’s rantings, ravings, and other R words to be named
later.

Thompson Family Values: The episode
opens with Eli skulking about his yard in his bathrobe. He’s hiding something:
booze; cash; a gat? What the hell is it? Easter eggs, that’s what. It’s time
for the annual Thompson egg hunt and if you find the red one you get a whole quarter.
Golly, Wally. I would have thought that Eli’s family would have its own
softball team since he has 444 kids.

Nucky,
Margaret, Emily, and Pyro-boy come for the day in-what else?-their Sunday Best, which is-you guessed it-the episode title. It’s the first time that the
Eli Thompsons have met Margaret and her brood. Not a big surprise since Eli
just got sprung from the pokey after betraying the Nuckster. Despite that
unpromising start, things go pretty darn well. Eli’s wife, June, flatters Nucky
and Margaret into submission. The latter, in fact, blurts out to June that
Nucky has nookie on the side. It’s the first time we’ve seen Margaret open up
to anyone but IRA Man Owen and, well, never mind…

The
Thompson brothers finally bury the hatchet. Eli grovels, Nucky rants, and they
kinda sorta kiss and make up since Nucky needs someone/anyone with half a brain
in his criminal enterprise. And Eli qualifies…

Nucky
and Margaret, however, do NOT bury the hatchet. She’s amused to learn that he
can juggle and tell a few jokes; and he’s amused to learn that she can sing the
old Irish ditty I’ll Tell Me Ma. He
again tentatively reaches out to her and she goes all Carole King on him and
sings “It’s Too Late.” Not really but it *is* what she says…

Continue reading

More Adventures In Social Media; or, Please Let Me Find Out That I’m Adopted


Apparently, this is George Clinton’s DNA; I don’t think you or I are funky enough to have major AND a minor groove in all of our cell nuclei.Via.

In my ongoing quest to get disinvited from all future family reunions, I’ve started responding to moronic things that relations post on line. If you know anything about my family, you’re probably thinking that I’ll need to take a sabbatical from work for a while if this hobby is going to continue.

Today’s idiocy comes from a first cousin, with a special guest appearance from my older brother (they are anonymized in red and yellow, respectively. Behold!



Logic is your friend. Well, my friend, anyway.

Not to defend the person in the original accusation–if indeed that is true, and I’m betting it’s not–but I just don’t get the goddamn mental disconnect here. Then again, there’s a lot about zealots that I don’t understand.

I fully expect to be de-friended by almost all family members by election day. I can only imagine that I will cry myself to sleep every night after that happens. Anyway, my current working theory is that I was switched with another baby in the hospital when I was an infant; there’s pretty much no other way to explain how I have so little in common with so much of my family.

One final note: Of all my relatives that I know are conservative, pro-war, pro-gun, and (so they assume) pro-military, precisely zero of them were in any branch of the armed forces. The two of us who are liberal (myself and my younger brother) both did hitches as enlisted folks. Make of that what you will.

Boo From Dave Edmunds and The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Please don’t egg my house; my neighbors are the ones who never give out treats:

Boo From Dave Edmunds and The Creature From The Black Lagoon

Please don’t egg my house; my neighbors are the ones who never give out treats:

Halloween Election Update

If you’re like me, you’re mainliningNate Silver’s awesome 538 blog. Nate has applied the principles of baseball Sabermetrics to polling data. Thing continue to look pretty good for the Dems and not so good for the serial liar Willard Rmoney. I’ve been doing this particular update on Facebook but decided to share with y’all:

Only a 22.6% chance of electing our first robot President.

That’s all.

Adventures In Social Media; or, Dear Meteor, Come Quickly


Ah. Vesta. You’ll do nicely.Via.

Hey there, good people. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been by here, but, you know, life keeps us busy. Until we get a sick day! Then it’s time to catch up on all the crazy you’ve seen for a while, and maybe–just maybe–to write a thing or two about it. First of all, here’s hoping the effects of Hurricane Sandy won’t be as bad as advertised, and that those people without power and water get those services reconnected pronto. Now–on to the adventure.

I begin, as many such stories of crazy do, with my family. Specifically, one of my first cousins. She’s a full-on Vatican fetus-sniffer. She’s always posting crazy anti-choice shit with the oh-so-clever tag “RESPECT LIFE.” Then it’s a link to “GodVine” or “LifeNews” or some other completely reputable source about, oh, aborted fetuses being burned in a regular incinerator at a hospital as opposed to a crematorium at a funeral facility.As if that makes half a fuck’s worth of difference. I mean, they’re not alive, right? Who give a shit what you do with the remains? I know some people are more sensitive about corpses than I am, but it’s not like they’re turning them into cat food–they’re doing the exact same thing, just in an incinerator that at other times burns trash. Well, I don’t begin to understand the mind of the religious fanatic. In fact, to show all you good people exactly what I mean, let’s go to a screencap, shall we?


Well. That’s pretty self-explanatory.


Somehow, I resisted the urge to post anything in reply–anything like, say, “Romans 3:23” or “Matthew 7:1.” I also managed not to call her an astonishingly arrogant asshole for presuming to be the arbiter of who is and is not a “serious” Catholic. Does that mean you can’t ever tell a joke about god? What about if you go to a Catholic school or university, and there’s a cafeteria there? Do you get to go in? Or do you have to subsist on that little cracker they gave you in the chapel? While that would do a lot for obesity in this country, I’m not sure that’d be okay with Jesus–I mean, after all, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” right? Anyway, I didn’t comment, because getting in a theological discussion with a zealot is a lot like pissing up a rope, but you don’t get to get the relief of emptying your bladder.

A further word about this cousin: this
is a person who unfailingly supports the Republican Party. While one
may find one’s own reasons for doing so, one can’t back a party that is
disdainful of the poor, supports the death penalty, works to increase
income inequality,
and relentlessly warmongers and then call oneself a “serious” Catholic
who agrees with all of Holy Mother Church’s teachings. What you have
here is just garden-variety hypocrisy.

So, I passed that one by, but this is getting a little long, so why not have a jump? Trust me, people–you will want to hit that link.

Continue reading

‘I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed’

See, it’s just a funny joke, killing journalists who don’t write what you want to read:

It is improbable that the framers of the Constitution anticipated a situation in which the press were entirely given over to seditious, anti-American policies. If they had, it is likely that their modus operandi would be similar to that for any faction found guilty of high crimes. Trials for treason and the requisite sentences would apply, and I would have no qualms about seeing such sentences executed, no matter how severe.

Except when it’s not:

CPJresearch shows that this year alone, five journalists have been targeted and killed for their work in Pakistan–three of them in Baluchistan. More than a dozen journalists have been killed in the province since 2008. Local groups tend to put the numbers of journalists killed higher, but because of the political turmoil it is often impossible to discern the reason for an attack as many journalists straddle the line between political activism and reporting.

Just last month, Baloch, also a longtime local correspondent for ARY Television, was shot by unidentified assailants. Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, wrote after Haq’s death that the journalist had been threatened by the state-sponsored Baloch Musalah Diffa Army in November 2011 and had subsequently been named on a hit list issued by its spokesman.

I’ve watched with disgust as journalists laugh off verbal attacks on their trade from wingnut critics who can’t handle facts, as if violent rhetoric never leads to violent acts. I’ve watched as news bosses cozied up to people who denigrated their employees and devalued their work. And every time some angry right-wing crowd turns on a reporter, or a crew member, or an editor, I wonder when it will finally get to be too much, the “lamestream media” and the “rope, tree, journalist” and the dark muttering about treason.

I know I talk a lot about what we do wrong, in the news business. I talk a lot about all the awful things that are done (and not done) but never for one minute do I think good journalism is unimportant or passé or no longer necessary. Why rage against the dying of the light if you hate the sun? Why bother criticizing something unless you want to make it better? I despair at the failures of our national press corps in no small part because i know how critical its function was once and could be again.

And I know about other places, where “jokes” about executing reporters aren’t funny, they’re THURSDAY, and the men and women who get up every day and go out and try to tell the world what the hell is going on around them despite the very real possibility they might end up dead for it deserve better.

A.

If It Wasn’t Over Before, It’s Really Over Now

Bye Mitt:

Several others again asked Romney whether he would eliminate FEMA.

“Governor, you’ve been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?” one asked.

Romney ignored the reporters’ queries and continued loading up the truck. Earlier, during the event, he ignored similar queries.

During a 2011 primary debate, Romney supported the idea ofcurtailing federal disaster response and letting states and the private sector take on a bigger role.

“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction,” he said. “And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.”

Bye, Mitt Romney. See ya. Buh bye.

Exit stage right now, and take Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and all the other clowns who came spilling out of the Volkswagon Beetle with you.

Take your WE BUILT IT convention, and your little teabag cotillions, and your howling about taxes, too.

Take your fear, and your rage, and your insistence that you earned yours and everybody else is stealing something. Take your list of all the things we cannot do, and all the qualities we cannot have, and all the places we cannot go.

Take the idea that we’re alone.

Take the idea that any of us deserve even for a second to be hurt.

Take the conceit that all of us together can’t do anything we choose to do, and get the fuck out of town.

I take very little satisfaction saying that, by the way. In the first place, it shouldn’t have taken the flooding of the Eastern seaboard to show us all that Mitt Romney was a fool and a douchebag. In the second place, that Mitt Romney now, more than ever, looks catastrophically unsuited to high political office does not ever make it okay that there was a second we considered him seriously for such officeat all.

The polls may bear this out, they may not. But the fact of the matter is we’re done now, and so off you toddle, Mitt, back to your world, while the people whose lives have been ruined by the storm rebuild their own, with the help of everybody around them.

Or as we like to call it, government.

A.

Waves of empathy

I don’t usually go in for even a semi-poetic tone but the images
of NYC
and Atlantic City have got me thinking about our little thing here
in NOLA 7 years ago. 7 years? It was really another lifetime but whenever
there’s a big disaster-especially in a place I’ve spent time in like Manhattan-my stomach gets knotted and my expression gets grim.

There’s always an adrenaline rush before and during a massive system like
Sandy. The next day comes the hangover, when the scope and extent of the damage
is clear. This is a particularly strange event since it started as a tropical
system and then morphed into a blizzardy, wintery mess. I don’t envy folks who
are digging out from this system having to deal with cold weather. Sarcasm
alert: Climate change obviously does not exist.

There seems to be an immutable rule that the worst parts of a storm system
come in after sunset in order to be even scarier. Another immutable rule is
that some teevee journos will do and say stupid things. Southern Beale has a
few scathing
words about that over at her joint.

Speaking of stupid things said on teevee. It is *not* better to lose power
when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk than when it’s cold. It’s
just different. As someone who lost power for 5 days after Isaac, I know that
from personal experience. Either sucks the big one and there’s not a whole
helluva lot you can do about it but be patient until you’re not.

Athenae has posted a bit about the politics of the Frankenstorm but I’ll
chime in too. I usually cannot stand Joisey Governor Chris (STFU, I’m the Gov)
Christie but he has called Obama’s
response thus far “outstanding.”

Thanks, Governor; good way of hedging your bets and looking towards 2016 if
Willard goes down. Of course, it helps when the Prez appoints the most qualified
person in the country, Craig Fugate, as FEMA director. One final thing about
Christie: lose the shirt with Chris Christie, Governor stitched on it. It looks
like a maternal camp name tag or something. You don’t wanna look like Edward
Norton in Moonrise Kingdom, after all.

Willard is already circling around how to pretend he hasn’t called for
FEMA’s functions to be returned to the states or, better still, in his view, to a
private company. Bad idea. We saw enough FEMA crony capitalism in post-Katrina
New Orleans to last a life time.

I assume that Mittbot’s plan is to lie, deny and later vilify his way out of
the corner he painted himself into. It’s what he does. At the risk of sounding
like a religious bigot, it’s classic male LDS behavior. When Joseph Smith got
caught with his pantaloons down, he had a revelation from God that plural
marriage rocked. In the 1970’s when the Mormon church was under fire for its
racist policies, then President
Spencer Kimball
had a revelation from God that they should change that.
It’s a form of self-righteous denial that has served Willard well. It’s the
main reason why he seems to *believe* his whoppers. Politico just believes them
because they’re biased and want the drama of a close election. There’s enough
drama without that right now, y’all.

Enough nattering from me for now. I hope all my Northeast peeps are high and
dry. Just gird yourself for a long, slow process and be thankful that
the infra-structure in Joisey and Noo Yawk is better than that in NOLA. I
somehow doubt that we’ll be able to comply with Springsteen’s request to
“meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”

Boardwalk Empire Thread: Ging Gang Goolie

Gil2

It’s hard being a corrupt Attorney General. Harry Daugherty is under investigation and his pudgy bag man, Jess Smith, has a meltdown at a Boy Scout shebang, which was probably caused by the Scouts rendition of the excreable dirt sleeping anthem, Ging Gang Goolie. I know that it gave me nightmares. My skin crawls at the very thought of camping. I am a city boy and damn proud of it.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, Nucky is pissed off at Harry who reciprocates by having the Nuckster tossed in the hoosegow. Nucky chills in the cooler, and then is fined $5 at the night court by a judge who looks nothing like Harry Anderson.

The Nuckster runs into his old nemesis, Esther Randolph, who has been demoted to trying cases in front of Judge Not Harry Anderson. Hey, at least Dan Fielding isn’t there to pinch her ass. Anyway, Nucky is concerned that Daugherty is planning to throw him under the trolley car and comes up with a plan to make this boomerang on the crooked AG. His attempt to sell this idea to Ms. Randolph flops. For now, for now.

Okey doke, on to some brief comments:

Seeing Double: Madam Mommie Dearest Jillian’s life continues to suck ass. She catches Charlie Lucky encouraging one of her “hoors” (his word, not mine, Imam) to sell heroin to the johns. Jillian wants to run a respectable bordello and fires her ass after being mocked by Charlie Lucky for having “hoors” who dress like school marms. Roaring Twenties snap.

After her encounter with the future boss of bosses, she gathers Jimmy’s pictures and puts them in a jar that she keeps by the door. What is it for? Oops, that’s Eleanor Rigby, not Madam Mommie Dearest Jillian.

She hits the boardwalk, meets a young Hoosier named Roger who resembles Jimmy. She beds him and calls him James because “that’s the name of a king.” I shall call him Roger James.

Jillian is a fascinating, twisted and very disturbed character. Her sick and incestuous relationship with Jimmy was deeply creepy, and the new thing with Roger James is as well. I love casting the sweet faced and adorable Gretchen Moll as the skeezy, hopelessly messed up Jillian. And Gretchen rocks the part, y’all.

Scrapbooking with Richard Harrow: Speaking of creepily endearing characters, Richard has a new fixation. He meets a nice young lady when he helped her drunken lout of a father after he got his blotto butt kicked at the Legion Hall. Stomp. Hmm, that sounds like a country song; maybe something for George Jones…

Richard likes this woman because she’ll look him in the eye, and not call him “half moon” like her drunken lout of a father did. Hereinafter referred to as DLOAF. DLOAF? That sounds like day old bread or well-worn, uh, loafers.

Richard goes home, takes off his Guy Fawkes mask, and breaks out his scrapbook. Jack Huston is astonishing as Richard. He’s a third generation thespian and has a silent film star vibe going on. He moves very gracefully, sort of like Charlie Chaplin and has that shell shocked John Gilbert look. I hope Richard finds his Garbo.

Btw, if you’d like to see an *excellent* silent film, Gilbert is awesome in King Vidor’sThe Big Parade. It’s the first great Hollywood war film, and it was fresh and contemporaneous when it came out in 1925. It’s set in what Wilson called the war to end all wars. Woodrow was meshuggah when he said that…

Striking Matches:It’s the case of the burning greenhouse. Nucky and Margaret have a greenhouse? Who knew? I wonder if Teddy will eventually become the marijuana king of Atlantic City? Probably not. Enough with the questions, already.

Margaret suspects her creepily endearing pyromaniacal son of setting the blaze. Teddy loves matches but is not guilty: a “vagrant” did it. An aside: Not a word we use today but perhaps I should revive it. I got nothing better to do right now. Plus it rhymes with fragrant and flagrant…

Speaking of fire, Margaret and IRA Man Owen (I’m dead serious about this multiple name thing, y’all) reignite their smoldering passion in (where else?) the greenhouse. We didn’t see much of Nucky’s greenhouse: I wonder if it was anything like the one in The Big Sleep wherein Bogie sweated like Willard Romney during the last debate. Pardon the digression but what’s a little digression among friends? The Crack Van is all about digression, yo.

I’ll let the great Chris Difford have the last word with a croaky voiced rendition of a tune from Babylon and On, which is what I just did:

Hurricane Sandy: Politico is All Over the Important Shit

Nature is currently trying to kick the shit out of an entire half of the country, and it’s time for the big question:

1) Will Mitt Romney’s momentum be stopped?

It’s hard to see how the storm helps. The Republican nominee has more than closed the gap with the incumbent over the final weeks of the campaign, taking a slim lead in most national polls. But his national boost hasn’t been mirrored in two pivotal states: Ohio and Virginia. Already Romney had to scrap a full day’s worth of events in Virginia Sunday.

Obama has had to change his schedule, too, but he’s not the one trying to make up ground.

And even though there are multiple schools of thought on how Sandy could affect voters’ feelings about the candidates or the nuts and bolts of getting folks to turn out, it’s still hard to see how the storm could help Romney. That is, unless the government botches the response and voters blame Obama.

Let’s be clear about this: If government botches the response, voters should blame Obama. Also, please kill me quickly. It’s hard to see how the storm would help Romney? That’s because THE STORM ISN’T ABOUT ROMNEY. It’s about how lots of people are getting their asses kicked and New York is going full zombie apocalypse and we have long lists of folks who are basically being reduced to Little House on the Prairie-style living for who knows how the fuck long. But hey, don’t let’s let that interfere with your need to make everything about OMFG HORSE RACE!

Speaking of which:

2) Does Obama have a natural advantage because he’s president?

It is so rude of Hurricane Sandy to make Obama look good by being in a particular chair at this particular time. So unfair to Republicans.

The short answer: yes. The longer answer: not if he makes an unforced error. While George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina ranks among the worst blunders in modern presidential history, it has also ensured that no president or candidate will under-react to the threat of a devastating natural disaster.

SO IT WAS A WIN, AFTER ALL. That Politico, always finding a silver lining in some dead people. I bet they’re super-glad they’re dead if it gave politicians the wake-up call they needed to realize that making sure people stay alive is the number-one job of fucking government.

5) Does this throw a wrench into Obama’s vaunted ground game?

Maybe.

Well, that clears that up. I’m so pleased we have learned political authority figures to tell us what we need to know.

You know whose “vaunted ground game” this storm throws a wrench into? (How does one exactly throw a wrench into a game? I mean, do you just fling it out on the basketball court or …)The entirety of Atlantic City:

It’s like nothing exists except as holograms in the goddamn TV studio. What’s really fucking depressing? The most grown-up person in this entire story is Mitt Fucking Romney:

“Governor Romney’s concern is the safety and well-being of those in the path of this storm, not political considerations,” said Andrea Saul.

Silly Andrea. That’s not how you WIN THE MORNING AND THE AFTERNOON.

A.

Civic Pride (Part II)

(Ed. Note: Get me talking about politics, it’s over in about four paragraphs. Get me onto a car as a metaphor for life, and you get this. I promise it will be three installments (four max) and next week’s will be posted earlier. If you missed the first part, here’s the link.Thanks for reading. -Doc)

I remember hearing once that every breakthrough happens
about six seconds before a breakdown. If you miss that moment, you really lose
your shit.

The car was in pieces, the time was running short and I
realized that despite the sheer volume of bloodletting I was performing, I was
never going to get this thing out without cutting a few corners.

Or a few pieces.

Honda requires that you remove the entire plastic housing to
best access the heater core. I said “OK, that’s fucking impossible” and instead
removed all the screws and clips I could before standing on the housing and
bending it down and out of the way.

Honda notes that in removing several parts of the steering
column, the screws on the inlet and outlet tubes can be slid out of the holes
in which they rest. I knew that was borrowing trouble unless I had an alignment
machine and about three more days with Mr. Goodwrench. Thus, I slid under the
dash, pulled out all the additional rubber insulation and pressed the tubes
down and away from the firewall with a prybar.

The thing was moving, but then something occurred to me:
Honda had done a shitload of plastic tapering with the casing for this heater
core to make things fit a certain way. Do it their way or don’t do it at all,
this plastic seemed to be telling me.

This wasn’t going to work. I had done everything I could.
She was going to Wally’s.

I flung a wrench across the room and screamed, “GODDAMMIT!”
at the top of my lungs. I started kicking tools, cords, portable lights and
everything else I could get a foot on.

Who the fuck designs a car this way? I screeched in my head.
Who the fuck… If that fucking plastic shroud, which serves no goddamned purpose
wasn’t fucking there I could…

I found my six seconds with about a second to spare.

When the Missus and I lived in Indiana, we had a toilet that
would leak from the tank into the bowl. After about a good couple hours of not
being flushed, the tank would dip low enough to trigger the float to engage and
thus force the water to start refilling the tank. This usually happened in the
middle of the night, waking us both up and pissing us off to no end.

I had no plumbing skill at that point, but I had a “Good
Housekeeping” repair manual that was bought with a gift certificate to a local bookstore. I looked at how to go about
disassembling and reassembling a toilet. It seemed easy, provided you had
another crapper in the house in case you needed it and that the plumbing was new enough to have
a local shut-off valve next to the bowl.

We had both, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

About half way through this, I found that apparently another
amateur plumber was responsible for assembling this porcelain gem. My book
clearly stated, “On the plastic nut between the bowl and the tank, do NOT use
plumber’s compound or any other sealant.

Apparently what this guy’s book said was, “Load the hell out
of the nut’s threads with epoxy or some other shit that will never come off.
Hell, you don’t plan to own the house forever, do you?”

I tried to remove this 3-inch plastic nut in about four or
five “approved” or “suggested” ways, only to find that I had cracked the nut
and yet was no closer to removing it. Thus, it was broken and yet not broken
enough.

With sweat dripping from every pore of my body and feeling
like there was no hope, I had a violent epiphany: If I couldn’t turn the nut, I
could break it somehow.

The “somehow” became an old tree saw I had inherited from my
great-grandfather’s house. It had a jagged blade and a reversed handle, making
it the only weapon in my arsenal capable of sliding between the bowl and the
tank to shred the plastic and separate these entities.

I was hunched over the bathtub, cradling the bowl in my lap,
hacking at the nut and screaming, “Get off there you fucking cocksucker!” when
my lovely wife came home from work for a brief lunch.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked. A concise question not
without merit.

With the calm and stillness of your average serial killer, I
turned slowly to the door.

“Please leave now,” I said. “You don’t want to see me do
this.”

She left.

I managed to break through without cracking either piece of porcelain and
a few hours later, you would have never known what it took to get us a
functioning toilet.

Thus, we established the rule in the house: If you want me
to fix something, you can’t be around to look at me while I’m fixing it. That
will only make both of us crazy.

The car’s epiphany was a simple one: If the plastic is
impeding you, get rid of the plastic.

The harder part? Answering the “how” portion of this
problem-solving moment.

I looked around the garage for about ten minutes, weighing
the pros and cons of every tool I had. Even the old tree saw came out for a
looksee.

The problem with the problem was that there was no room to
move under the dash of the car. Even twisting a screwdriver or turning a wrench
took special effort.

So what I needed was something to remove plastic that moved
on its own and that would be able to handle the rough stuff. In other words, a
fucking Sawzall…

It was at that moment that I wasn’t sure if I was crazy or
brilliant, but I figured in for a penny, in for a pound.

I grabbed the rotary tool I kept in the garage for special
projects. Usually, I used it with a hook and loop pad and did detail sanding
with it. Today, I was going to use it break some shit.

I swapped out the pad for a long thin metal blade with a set
of jagged ends on the top. It had the look of a set of barber’s clippers, only
slightly more deadly.

I plugged it in, slid under the dash and held on for dear
life.

The first cut slid through the plastic and grazed the piping
of the heater core. The sparks kicked back and flew at my eyes.

For some reason, I didn’t notice.

The following cuts took out nothing but plastic, wads of
ruined black crud flailing about. I cut and I cut and I cut.

Then, a literal breakthrough.

The tubes were exposed and could move up and down. The
heater core was sliding around in its sheath. Still, it wasn’t free. The bends
in the tubes prohibited me from just popping the core out. If the tubes were
there, the core wasn’t going anywhere.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

I cringed a bit and averted my eyes and gritted my teeth.
I’m quite certain I looked like a porn actress who was waiting for the money
shot she had loudly demanded a few seconds earlier.

I pressed the vibrating blade into the metal tubing.

The car and the tool both screamed their disapproval. Smoke
began to snake out of the point of friction as the tool cut through the metal.
The tubes began to vibrate and let loose with what little coolant was left in
the core. Green liquid splashed everywhere as I notched through the first tube
and entered the second.

The second tube snapped free from its soldered connection to
the core. It bounced around harmlessly while attached to the end of the blade
before it fell harmlessly to the floorboards.

I shut off the tool and ran around to the other side of the
car. I tugged on the core, once, twice… A pop rang out as part of the plastic
sheath broke off and more green slime oozed out of the open holes at the core’s
base.

I had it out.

The next two days were a whirlwind of calls to parts places,
junkyards and people I knew who knew people. Eventually, we located a new
heater core for about $80 and I had about a day or two to figure out how to get
it in there.

After basically disassembling my car with a chainsaw, it
dawned on me that I couldn’t reassemble it in quite the same way. Even worse,
some of the damage I had done under there might be detrimental to the
installation itself.

The problems kept adding up. The core didn’t fit right. The
lines wouldn’t line up with the holes through the fire wall. The jagged plastic
was threatening to poke through the core, which would negate the point of all
of this.

After about four hours, I managed to have the core in its
proper place, but the core lines wouldn’t go through the firewall. I had to
take The Midget to karate and then I had a ton of work to do. The Missus had
been sick most of the day. Everything seemed to be devolving.

If you ever spent any time in kids-based karate class, you
know you need a few things to survive: headphones and Advil. Of course, I had
neither and the spawn of other people had pushed me to the point of wanting to
castrate myself in the parking lot with a beer can tab.

My head pounding, my child chattering and my stomach empty,
I drove us home. Daylight was waning and nothing had been accomplished that
day.

When we arrived, all I wanted was something to go right. My
wife, feeling better and able to talk for the first time in about two days,
decided to take advantage of her newfound health to ask me 6 million questions
about everything and anything.

It wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t a smart move on my part. It wasn’t
normal.

But I completely lost it on her.

She sat there stunned.

“Are you off your meds or something?” she asked.

“Look,” I told her. “The Stang is broken. My computer is
broken and won’t be repaired for a month if that. The Civic is shot. Your
mother needs stuff. The kid won’t stop yammering and NOTHING HAS FUCKING WORKED
RIGHT TODAY. The only thing that is holding me together by the tiniest fucking
thread is the idea that I will somehow, some way pull two metal tubes through a
fucking firewall and make that fucking core fit.”

She looked at me like I was demented. Truth be told, I was.
I was waiting for her to call me Captain Ahab.

“Go,” she said, dismissing me with a wave of her hand.
“Just… Go.”

Time goes by a lot more slowly when my wife is pissed at me.
In this case, that was helpful because I managed to do a lot of work in a short
period of time.

Don’t ask me how, but I managed to get the lines back
through the firewall of the car and hook up the hoses. I put the plastic pieces
back together as best I could and got most of the car assembled. Normally, I couldn’t
sleep until I had tested the system, but very little of what was happening to
me these days could be classified as normal.

I left the car and went inside. The Missus was still
reading.

“I’m sorry,” I told her.

“Don’t tell me,” she said not bothering to look up. “Tell
your daughter. She’s not sleeping because she thinks Daddy is mad at her.”

I opened the door to The Midget’s room. Her bed was lofted,
but I could see a flashlight beam weaving through the darkness as she read
aloud to herself.

“Peanut?”

“Hi Daddy. I’m sorry I was bad…”

Christ, that hurt. I climbed up the ladder to her bed,
clearly exceeding the weight limit Walmart had placed on this fine item. I nestled in next to her and cradled her in the nook of my shoulder.

“You weren’t bad, honey. Daddy was. I shouldn’t have yelled.
I’m sorry. This is all my fault.”

“Oh… It’s OK. You were just having a bad day.” She looked at
my hands. “Did the car hurt you again?”

“No, honey. That’s from before.”

“Oh. Can I have a bednight snack?”

“Sure. Go pick something out from the pantry.”

“THANK YOU!” she squealed as she hugged me quickly and then
scurried down her ladder.

I know there will be a time in life where some snuggles in a
loft and a bednight snack won’t cure all her problems.

I’m really not looking forward to that.

Stay Safe, Everybody

You hit us up on this blog or via e-mail if you need something, you hear?

Because yikes.

A.

Adventures In Social Media; or, Dear Meteor, Come Quickly


Ah. Vesta. You’ll do nicely.Via.

Hey there, good people. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been by here, but, you know, life keeps us busy. Until we get a sick day! Then it’s time to catch up on all the crazy you’ve seen for a while, and maybe–just maybe–to write a thing or two about it. First of all, here’s hoping the effects of Hurricane Sandy won’t be as bad as advertised, and that those people without power and water get those services reconnected pronto. Now–on to the adventure.

I begin, as many such stories of crazy do, with my family. Specifically, one of my first cousins. She’s a full-on Vatican fetus-sniffer. She’s always posting crazy anti-choice shit with the oh-so-clever tag “RESPECT LIFE.” Then it’s a link to “GodVine” or “LifeNews” or some other completely reputable source about, oh, aborted fetuses being burned in a regular incinerator at a hospital as opposed to a crematorium at a funeral facility.As if that makes half a fuck’s worth of difference. I mean, they’re not alive, right? Who give a shit what you do with the remains? I know some people are more sensitive about corpses than I am, but it’s not like they’re turning them into cat food–they’re doing the exact same thing, just in an incinerator that at other times burns trash. Well, I don’t begin to understand the mind of the religious fanatic. In fact, to show all you good people exactly what I mean, let’s go to a screencap, shall we?


Well. That’s pretty self-explanatory.


Somehow, I resisted the urge to post anything in reply–anything like, say, “Romans 3:23” or “Matthew 7:1.” I also managed not to call her an astonishingly arrogant asshole for presuming to be the arbiter of who is and is not a “serious” Catholic. Does that mean you can’t ever tell a joke about god? What about if you go to a Catholic school or university, and there’s a cafeteria there? Do you get to go in? Or do you have to subsist on that little cracker they gave you in the chapel? While that would do a lot for obesity in this country, I’m not sure that’d be okay with Jesus–I mean, after all, “Man shall not live by bread alone,” right? Anyway, I didn’t comment, because getting in a theological discussion with a zealot is a lot like pissing up a rope, but you don’t get to get the relief of emptying your bladder.

A further word about this cousin: this
is a person who unfailingly supports the Republican Party. While one
may find one’s own reasons for doing so, one can’t back a party that is
disdainful of the poor, supports the death penalty, works to increase
income inequality,
and relentlessly warmongers and then call oneself a “serious” Catholic
who agrees with all of Holy Mother Church’s teachings. What you have
here is just garden-variety hypocrisy.

So, I passed that one by, but this is getting a little long, so why not have a jump? Trust me, people–you will want to hit that link.

Continue reading

A Debate For Idiots

Okay kids are we ready for the second debate tonight? I know we’re all supposed to be super-excited about it because of the town hall format and the fact that the questions will be asked entirely by that chupacabra of politics, the undecided voter. Or, as the rest of America calls them: those idiots who still haven’t made up their mind three weeks before the election.

If there is anyone in network news reading this post I would just like to tell you folks that the absolute last people we want to hear from right now are undecided voters. These are people for whom “paper or plastic?” must constitute a dilemma of existential proportions. Pretty much 90% of Americans made up their minds one way or the other a year ago. Of those who didn’t the question was not, Romney or Obama, but rather, Romney or Ron Paul? Romney or Gary Johnson? Obama or Jill Stein?

Here’s what I don’t get: you folks in the media keep telling us that we live in an era of partisan, divided politics, the most partisan era in recent memory, blah blah. And yet every four years you trot out this fantasy of the undecided voter. It’s really bizarre.

Why don’t we chuck the charade and hear from decided voters for a change? People who have been paying attention to their version of the news, be it Breitbart.com, Fox and WingNut Daily or Democracy Now!, Truthout and Alternet? What are you guys afraid of? Let’s hear some Breitbarters ask Obama about his birth certificate or some lefties ask Romney about Sensata? (No, I’m not making a false equivalency between the two issues here. It does seem to me that the left’s issues with Romney are far more reality-based and substantive than the right’s issues with Obama.)

For that matter, let’s have some on the left ask Obama why, exactly, he believes the economy didn’t recover faster. Let’s hear someone on the right ask Romney about his RomneyCare plan and shifting, er I mean evolving position on abortion. I would like to hear the answers to these questions.

I mean, come on, already. Maybe I’m wrong but it just seems like we’d get a far more substantive debate if we took questions from the people who’ve been paying attention versus the people who can’t figure out how to tie their shoelaces in the morning.

Waves of empathy

I don’t usually go in for even a semi-poetic tone but theimages
of NYC
and Atlantic City have got me thinking about our little thing here
in NOLA 7 years ago. 7 years? It was really another lifetime but whenever
there’s a big disaster-especially in a place I’ve spent time in like Manhattan-my stomach gets knotted and my expression gets grim.

There’s always an adrenaline rush before and during a massive system like
Sandy. The next day comes the hangover, when the scope and extent of the damage
is clear. This is a particularly strange event since it started as a tropical
system and then morphed into a blizzardy, wintery mess. I don’t envy folks who
are digging out from this system having to deal with cold weather. Sarcasm
alert: Climate change obviously does not exist.

There seems to be an immutable rule that the worst parts of a storm system
come in after sunset in order to be even scarier. Another immutable rule is
that some teevee journos will do and say stupid things. Southern Beale has a
fewscathing
words about that over at her joint.

Speaking of stupid things said on teevee. It is *not* better to lose power
when it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk than when it’s cold. It’s
just different. As someone who lost power for 5 days after Isaac, I know that
from personal experience. Either sucks the big one and there’s not a whole
helluva lot you can do about it but be patient until you’re not.

Athenae has posted a bit about the politics of the Frankenstorm but I’ll
chime in too. I usually cannot stand Joisey Governor Chris (STFU, I’m the Gov)
Christie but he has calledObama’s
response thus far “outstanding.”

Thanks, Governor; good way of hedging your bets and looking towards 2016 if
Willard goes down. Of course, it helps when the Prez appoints the most qualified
person in the country, Craig Fugate, as FEMA director. One final thing about
Christie: lose the shirt with Chris Christie, Governor stitched on it. It looks
like a maternal camp name tag or something. You don’t wanna look like Edward
Norton inMoonrise Kingdom, after all.

Willard is already circling around how to pretend he hasn’t called for
FEMA’s functions to be returned to the states or, better still, in his view, to a
private company. Bad idea. We saw enough FEMA crony capitalism in post-Katrina
New Orleans to last a life time.

I assume that Mittbot’s plan is to lie, deny and later vilify his way out of
the corner he painted himself into. It’s what he does. At the risk of sounding
like a religious bigot, it’s classic male LDS behavior. When Joseph Smith got
caught with his pantaloons down, he had a revelation from God that plural
marriage rocked. In the 1970’s when the Mormon church was under fire for its
racist policies, thenPresident
Spencer Kimball
had a revelation from God that they should change that.
It’s a form of self-righteous denial that has served Willard well. It’s the
main reason why he seems to *believe* his whoppers. Politico just believes them
because they’re biased and want the drama of a close election. There’s enough
drama without that right now, y’all.

Enough nattering from me for now. I hope all my Northeast peeps are high and
dry. Just gird yourself for a long, slow process and be thankful that
the infra-structure in Joisey and Noo Yawk is better than that in NOLA. I
somehow doubt that we’ll be able to comply with Springsteen’s request to
“meet me tonight in Atlantic City.”

Boardwalk Empire Thread: Chalky White Meets Eddie Cantor

Chalky comes a callin

I hate to be repetitive, but Nucky Thompson is still in a vile mood. Given the episode title, You’d Be Surprised, that probably shouldn’t be so, BUT the man is in a world of shit. He’s called on the carpet by Arnold Rothstein in the wake of the Taber Heights massacre and told he’s acting like a lovesick schoolboy in carrying on with Billie the showgirl. She, however, fits neatly into Nucky’s pattern of bringing home strays and rescuing damsels in distress. Speaking of distress, Margaret meets Billie in the company of Nucky at the snooty French boutique. Poor form, says Nucky.

On to this week’s random notes and general nattering.

Denial Flows In Jersey: Speaking of deep shit, Jillian’s venture into classy bordello land isn’t going well. Making matters worse is her refusal to admit that Jimmy is dead. She writes the corpse a letter instead of having him declared dead so she can borrow money on the house, and make it an even bawdier house. Luciano is no help, I wonder if she’ll turn to Gyp since mutton chopped Junior Soprano dude will not bail her out.

From Hunky Dory to Yumpin’ Yiminy: We visit the Van Weirdo family in Cicero. They have a vistor, the corrupt agent who shook down former Agent Van Weirdo at the speakeasy. Van Weirdo and wife think that he’s on to who he really is, so she whaps him upside the head, and insists that her husband finish him off. It turns out that he visited to return a really crappy iron Van Weirdo sold him weeks before. Oops.

This paved the way for Van Weirdo to hook up with Dion O’Bannon again. Who better to help you dispose of a dead body than a florist/wise guy? Nobody.

I’m glad that they moved the buxom Mrs. Van Weirdo out of movie Swede-land (anyone else remember the Swedish sodbusters in Shane?) and fleshed the fleshy former nanny out a bit more as a character. It’s a pity that she didn’t have Van Weirdo suffocate the guy with a slab of lutefisk. That shit could kill anyone…

Eddie croons

Milky White: Chalky and his henchman pay a visit on Eddie Cantor at Nucky’s behest. The latter is making like Charles Foster Kane and trying to prop up his doxy’s failing musical, which was on the verge of folding during previews in Atlantic City. Nucky had already tried bribing and sweet talking the Vaudevillian into helping out but Eddie refused. For a good reason too: he was set to star in a show with music by Jerome Kern, the King of Broadway in 1923.

Now that Nucky is all gangster, he calls on Chalky and pal to “convince” Eddie to give in. After mildly humiliating him by making him perform a really goofy number, Eddie folds his weak hand to avoid getting his ass kicked. Wise choice, Eddie; especially since you thought Mr. White’s nickname was Milky. Chalky don’t play that.

We see Eddie and Billie at the end of the episode performing You’d Be Surprised. She thanks Eddie for helping but our boychick ungallantly mentioned the name of Lucy Danziger, Nucky’s previous showgirl mistress. After seeing the blank look on her face, he said “The one before you. The next one will never hear of you either.” Snap.

Kinky Gyp: Our boy Gyp Rosetti is on top of the world when the episode commences. He thinks, wrongly, that he’s convinced Rothstein to betray Nucky. Arnold dislikes them both but would rather deal with the semi-predictable Nuckster than the crazy Gypster.

Speaking of crazy, Meyer and Charlie Lucky dispatch Benny Bugsy to whack Gyp at the end of the episode. Benny cackles while shooting 4 people dead but Gyp survives by using a human shield, the cute redheaded waitress who was, uh, restraining him when Benny burst in. Gyp is into some form of auto erotic asphyxiation like a proto Mick Hutchence. From excess to INXS, all in one episode.

I knew Gyp would survive since it’s only mid-season but it’s a full blown gang war now, and the bodies are only beginning to drop. I’m not sure whose will fall first, Rothstein or Masseria, but neither has much shelf life left if you catch my drift.

Hurricane Sandy and No We Can’t

Seriously:

Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.

It’s an absurd notion, but it’s fully in line with decades of Republican resistance to federal emergency planning. FEMA, created by President Jimmy Carter, was elevated to cabinet rank in the Bill Clinton administration, but was then demoted by President George W. Bush, who neglected it, subsumed it into the Department of Homeland Security, and placed it in the control of political hacks. The disaster of Hurricane Katrina was just waiting to happen.

The agency was put back in working order by President Obama, but ideology still blinds Republicans to its value. Many don’t like the idea of free aid for poor people, or they think people should pay for their bad decisions, which this week includes living on the East Coast.

Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness. Representatives Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other House Republicans have repeatedly tried to refuse FEMA’s budget requests when disasters are more expensive than predicted, or have demanded that other valuable programs be cut to pay for them. The Ryan budget, which Mr. Romney praised as “an excellent piece of work,” would result insevere cutbacks to the agency, as would the Republican-instigated sequester, which wouldcut disaster relief by 8.2 percent on top of earlier reductions.

You know what? Fuck this. People should pay for their bad decisions? Okay. And THEN WHAT? God Almighty, then what? Then they’ll have paid, and there will still be flood water over everything, and people will be broke and homeless, but hey, at least we can go to sleep at night knowing somebody’s paid … how? What is the practical benefit to anybody of saying to someone who’s been fucked over by nature or life too bad, so sad, I’mma take the ten bucks we would have spent on that and throw it at Starbucks?

I do not GET THIS. I don’t. What the TITS. When a disaster strikes I want big government, small government, medium-sized government. I want all the government ever. I want the neighbors and the charities and the churches and the families and the friends, too. Every crack in the plaster needs to be patched and every problem needs to be solved, and I want as many people putting that puzzle together as possible. All hands on the fucking deck. Here’s a bucket. Start bailing the water out.

I wanteverybody to be figuring out how to do more, instead of fighting over the best way to do less without looking like too much of an asshole about it.

And you know, I think the majority of Americans want this, too. It’s just that for the past 40 years we’ve had this constant drumbeat of no we can’t, it’s too hard, we can’t afford it, everybody fends for themselves, there’s no help for anybody, let’s all just go home and if you have to step over a homeless dude to get to your car then do it because that’s the price of doing business. People deserve to have their homes submerged and their shops wiped out and their lives ruined because of where they live or what they do or who they are, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, because only government is big enough to solve this problem and we all know government isn’t the answer to anything anymore.

But deep down we’ve still got that nagging feeling that somebody somewhere ought to be on top of shit, that most of the time people don’t deserve what they get (and thank God for that, by the way, she says while conducting the express train to hell), that we are better and bigger and stronger than this, and we’re just straining against the goddamn harness to do something. And disaster preparedness and emergency management are some of the most basic things government can do to prevent us from tearing ourselves apart when something shitty happens, to take that instinct and direct it outward instead of inward.

To make us help, rather than letting us hurt.

A.

The Hands-Down Dumbest Story about the Debate, via A Very Serious Blogger Ethics Panel

Walmart Moms, guys:

Undecided “Walmart moms” in Milwaukee, Wis., gave the presidential debate win to President Obama by a narrow margin – but they’re not sold yet.

What are “Walmart Moms,” you guys?

In a bipartisan focus group conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Momentum Analysis and sponsored by Walmart, a group of undecided female voters were asked to vote for who they thought won the second presidential debate. Five women in the group said Obama, three said Mitt Romney, and two said they thought it was tie.

Emphasis because YOU DON’T FUCKIN’ SAY.

It couldn’t possibly have been designed to get Walmart’s name in the headlines, could it have? Because that would never work. Very serious journalists who are the guardians of our democracy would never fall for such an obvious marketing ploy.

They certainly wouldn’t fall for it twice.

And you know, I’m sure some defenders will say the disclosure makes it okay. It doesn’t. This is about story selection and agenda-pushing, and allowing Walmart this much of the national conversation is still letting them get away with something, even if you point out in paragraph one or two that you’re letting them get away with it.

A.

Sending It Out To New York City Tonight

Witnessning the unraveling of the city, those of Harry Penn’s reporters who were not killed (as many of them were) returned toThe Sun to write about it. They sensed that this was the proper thing to do, even if everything else had gone to hell, because they knew enough to know that whenever the world ends it always manages to begin again, and they had no intention of being left out.

Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin

TheNew York Daily News is updating from a darkened newsroom. There are floodwaters in the subway tunnels and hospitals are without power. Various jackasses are making various kinds of jackassed remarks for which it is not only too soon, but will never not be too soon. And as always, there areacts of extraordinary bravery happening amidst the chaos.

Remember tonight that there is no part of America that America can live without. Donate to the Red Cross for disaster reliefhere.

A.