Monthly Archives: December 2012

Why I Hate New Year’s Eve

Hate is probably too strong a word but I wanted to get your attention. I’m really more bored than anything by NYE. I’m not a fan of firecrackers since my boyhood pal Kirk blew off 2 of his fingers with them and they’re an integral part of NYE. I’m also not wild about the forced jollity and the public drunkenness, which this year is magnified in NOLA by the presence of Florida Gator fans who *almost* make Bama fans look civilized. Almost. Btw, I have nothing against drunks but stupid drunks I’m not crazy about.

Dr. A and I had a quiet day watching some old movies and making corn bread (her) and a massive pot of (Fergie-free) black eyed peas and green onion sausage (me.) Yummy if do say so myself.

A more recent reason to dislike NYE is the fact that LSU keeps getting invited to the Chick-Fil-a Bowl in Atlanta when they have a semi-off year. What the fuck kind of name for a bowl game is that? I’d rather go to the Tidy Bowl or some such shit.

Anyhoo, NYE has been all downhill for me after all the times I saw the Grateful Dead on that day when I was a tadpole. Of course, that was before I became a consummate curmudgeon so that may not be the real reason BUT it sounds good, has a beat and you can dance to it, which reminds me: Dick Clark is as dead as Guy Fucking Lombardo who was the main man on NYE before America’s oldest teenager.

Where is all this going? Nowhere in particular. This is a pretext to post the Dead from the closing of Winterland on-when else?- New Year’s Fucking Eve. Okay, time to push Chinless Mitch and Speaker Boner off the fiscal cliff/curb/slope. Happy Fucking New Year:

Save Traditional Journalism!

I swear, there are days I wonder what exactly I’m supposed to be mourning, when idiots like this are at the head of the class.

Decent journalists should turn away from Gregory in the street. Had we all started shunning morons long ago, we most likely wouldn’t be forced to defend ourselves from all comers quite so hard now.

A.

‘All of it is an act of love’

Go. Read. NOW.

There was something disturbing about Romeo and Juliet’s relationship—if you can even call it that. Within less than a week, they profess their undying love to each other and get hitched. Juliet delivers her famous “parting is such sweet sorrow” line, and the next time Romeo sees her, she’s unconscious from a potion that was designed to work for 42 hours, just enough time to trick her family into thinking she’s dead so that she won’t have to go through with the arranged marriage to Paris. Romeo, with whom she has had about three conversations, was supposed to find her alive and whisk her away to a life totally cut off from her friends and family for all of eternity. GOOD PLAN.

I think we celebrate tortured romance in art because conflict is inherently dramatic, whereas doing the laundry for 20 years really … isn’t, but we’ve fallen down somewhere when our ideal of love is agony. Worse than that, is uncertainty: Do you know how exhausting it is to be with someone you’re not certain of? It’s so exhausting. It doesn’t leave you room to have a life of your own because you’re so busy watching your own soap opera. Some of my Facebook acquaintances, I don’t know how they hold down jobs and still have time to keep track of who lied to them about who was still sleeping with his ex even though he promised last time was the last time and whatever.

Before Mr. A I kept auditioning losers and wondering why it wasn’t working, and I’m talking about a cokehead poet and a guy who made a lot of money and thought that was as good a reason as any to order me around. In actual fact none of those relationships were designed to be relationships at all. They were designed to be sideshows, distractions from life. They weren’t life. They weren’t about building a home or a life or a place or anything bigger than ourselves together. It’s no wonder we would end up making each other miserable even though we had all kinds of chemistry and things in common. We didn’t have a life in common, and we didn’t know how to make one. We didn’t even really know we had to.

A lot of our ideas about love are poisonous. It’s not just the “love is drama and heights of ecstasy and depths of despair.” It’s the “love is HARD WORK” stuff, too. People say relationships are work, that marriage is work. They usually mean drudgery, like ha ha, sometimes he wants to watch the game instead of Sex and the City with you. But work is joyful, work is purposeful, work gives shape to your waking hours and improves the world around you, or at least it should. It should reward you as much as it wears you out.
It should be the good kind of worn, like after a hard workout, when your muscles are tingling and you feel like you could go another mile even though you know in a minute you’ll collapse into the embrace of a pizza. If it just grinds you down, if you’re always watching the clock, if you’re making cute little jokes about hanging in there until Friday, you need to find something else to do, and if you’re dragging yourself through your relationship with the idea that suck and yawn is what it’s supposed to be like, oh God, no it’s not.

I think we spend so much time rationalizing the bad stuff, calling anything that isn’t constant implosion boring, making the lows about the corresponding highs as if the latter justifies the former, we overlook all the ways in which love is every day:

I think there’s another kind of cherishing that is possible, one that doesn’t kill us. Last month, I went with my parents to the dentist to get a cavity filled. My mother went to get some groceries while my father and I were in the waiting room. I noticed that he had his phone clipped to his belt.

“That looks so dumb,” I said.

“Well, I don’t miss your mother’s calls this way.”

A.

Weekend Question Thread

Got any resolutions for the new year?

I have got to finish a writing project. I’ve spent the past year working my ass off at my day job, which is great because a) money and b) I don’t want to suck at anything really. The result, though, is that I don’t have a major writing goal in mind, so I need to set one and carry it out.

The fitness thing, should I ever stop hacking up a lung, is kind of taking care of itself, as I feel bad now when I DON’T get a workout in. Eating less like a five-year-old is a lifelong process.

A.

Not That I Shopped There Anyway …

But suck it, Hobby Lobby.

They’ve always been sanctimonious assholes and look, at times convenience overrides my conscience and I go get something somewhere because it’s cheaper or closer, but this kind of thing’s a no-brainer. These people, and the pizza dicks, and everybody else braying all day long about their religious freedom, are just begging for attention. They don’t actually want to help anybody, they’re not actually concerned about their immortal souls, and they can’t see the difference between the freedom to do what they want to do (like, don’t take birth control pills if you think they’re putting you in danger of hell) and the ability to coerce others into behaving like you would. Giving someone coverage for something is not the same as mandating they do it, whereas denying them coverage may well prohibit it.

To Michael’s for yarn I shall go.

A.

Save Traditional Journalism!

I swear, there are days I wonder what exactly I’m supposed to be mourning, when idiots like this are at the head of the class.

Decent journalists should turn away from Gregory in the street. Had we all started shunning morons long ago, we most likely wouldn’t be forced to defend ourselves from all comers quite so hard now.

A.

Love Wins

MAINE!

Look at them. Just look at them. How happy they are. Years from now, we will never be able to adequately explain to anyone why we ever thought this was a problem at all.

A.

Love Wins

MAINE!

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

Look at them. Just look at them. How happy they are. Years from now, we will never be able to adequately explain to anyone why we ever thought this was a problem at all.

A.

Sunday Morning Video: Louis Armstrong Live In Belgium 1959

A bit of Satchmo on the penultimate day of 2012:

Sunday Morning Video: Louis Armstrong Live In Belgium 1959

A bit of Satchmo on the penultimate day of 2012:

Stupid Centrist Tricks

There’s a group of people inside the Beltway who are in favor of removing
politics from the political process. Talk about a mission so impossible that
neither Peter Graves nor Tom Cruise is up for the job. But these centrist
fethishists have a crush on “moderate” Republicans like Jon Huntsman.
I’m not sure what’s moderate about him but Norm
Ornstein thinks he should replace Boner as Speaker. I am not making this up,
y’all:

What if Boehner doesn’t survive? Go to Article I, Section 2: The
Constitution does not say that the speaker of the House has to be a member of
the House. In fact, the House can choose anybody a majority wants to fill the
post. Every speaker has been a representative from the majority party. But
these days, the old pattern clearly is not working.

Even in a multi-ballot marathon, there is no way 17 or more
Republicans in the new House would opt for Nancy Pelosi, or any other Democrat.
The danger is that a fatigued GOP will settle for a take-no-prisoners firebrand
or find another candidate willing to pledge fealty to the radical minority
within the majority, turning the current, really bad situation into something
worse.

The best way out of this mess would be to find someone from outside the
House to transcend the differences and alter the dysfunctional dynamic we are
all enduring. Ideally, that individual would transcend politics and party — but
after David Petraeus’s stumble, we don’t have many such candidates. It would
have to be a partisan Republican.

One option would be Jon Huntsman. By any reasonable standard, he is a
conservative Republican: As governor of Utah, he supported smaller government,
lower taxes and balanced budgets, and he opted consistently for market-based
solutions. As a presidential candidate, he supported positions that were in the
wheelhouse of Ronald Reagan. But a Speaker Huntsman would look beyond party and
provide a different kind of leadership. He would drive a hard bargain with the
president but would aim for a broad majority from the center out, not from the
right fringe in. He could not force legislation onto the floor, but he would
have immense moral suasion.

I wonder which state Ornstein
got his potent legal weed from: Colorado or Washington? All I know is that I want
some since it’s super hallucinatory and gives you delusions of grandeur to
boot.

The whole thing is totally bizarre since Ornstein is a noted Congressional
scholar and the House has never and will never elect a non-member as Speaker.
Besides, Jon Huntsman? Really? Jon Fucking Huntsman? The dude who won the 2012
media primary and was a total disaster as a Presidential candidate. He was a
centrist’s dreamboat then and apparently Ole’ Norm has been pining for him
ever since but all this suggestion does is make Normy look like a barmy idiot.

I guess Ornstein will get points in some quarters for thinking “outside the box” a phrase that should be buried forthwith. It’s only a matter of time until centrist fuckwits like Bloomberg and Tom Friedman will take up the cudgel and support Stormin’ Norman. Me, I’d rather watch Cheers:

Weekend Question Thread

Got any resolutions for the new year?

I have got to finish a writing project. I’ve spent the past year working my ass off at my day job, which is great because a) money and b) I don’t want to suck at anything really. The result, though, is that I don’t have a major writing goal in mind, so I need to set one and carry it out.

The fitness thing, should I ever stop hacking up a lung, is kind of taking care of itself, as I feel bad now when I DON’T get a workout in. Eating less like a five-year-old is a lifelong process.

A.

Brave

Five years ago, a former student of mine teetered on the
edge of ending her own life.

I never knew it at the time, as she had slipped through the
cracks of life like so many other kids who sit in my classes and stare back at
me as I pontificate about something or other. She was a great student, a funny
kid and an amazing journalist. She had that weird “quirk” about her that
predisposed her to a life spent with coffee and cigarettes and off-color jokes.
She oscillated between self-deprecating humor and claims of being a Golden God
of design. She just had that odd newsroom sense of being annoyed with herself
and being proud of herself all at the same time.

Turns out, some of that was the doing of a mental illness.

In a column she wrote a few years back, she did the scariest
and bravest thing I could imagine:She told people she was broken.

(The DM didn’t keep the full version on its site.She added this note to her Facebook page that was the “uncut” edition. Read it if you get a chance.)

She explained the nature of her bipolar disorder and how the
pills weren’t helping and how she had neatly arranged the bottles and pondered
how best to end her own life. She explained that this wasn’t a mental snap, a
one-shot deal where she “had a bad day” but rather a slow build that had taken
half of her life from her. She provided details of life as a kid, a young woman
and an adult who was forced to live a silent struggle against a societal
shaming.

You break a leg? Ouch! There’s a doctor for that.

You contract an illness? Oh, you poor thing! There’s a cure
for that.

You have a mental “issue?” Snap out of it. Jesus… Quit being
such a crybaby.

I hadn’t thought about her for a while until I read the
story of Officer Jen Sebena and her husband, Ben, who is now charged with her
murder.

We were watching TV on Christmas Eve when the news of her
death came across the screen. She was found dead while on duty, having been
shot multiple times outside a Wauwatosa fire station. Two days later, her
husband sat in a courtroom, while the details of his disturbing behavior had
been revealed.

Ben Sebena was a highly decorated Marine, who was part of
the invasion force at the start of the 2003 Iraq War. He received a Purple
Heart after surviving a mortar attack that left him with scars all over his
body.

In a YouTube video, he talks of seeing friends killed all
around him, of having to kill a child, of learning that “death is OK.”

Over the past month, Jen Sebena had told fellow officers her
husband had become more erratic.

He abused her, held a gun to her head and threatened to kill
her.

He claimed to be jealous of “other men” although no evidence
has come to light suggesting any other men in his wife’s life.

He punched holes in the walls of their home.

In the days leading up to the murder, Ben stalked his wife,
following her in the couple’s 2012 Prius. He then emerged from the shadows on
Christmas Eve around 4:30 a.m.

He shot her twice in the back of the head before removing
her service weapon from its holster and pumping three more bullets into her
face. He later told police he wanted to make sure she was dead and that she
didn’t suffer.

Ben Sebena has been charged with first-degree intentional
homicide and although no one has made mention of it yet, I would be willing to
bet every dollar I have that his “mental condition” will come into play at some
point.

Chances are, those events he spoke of during that video and
many more he couldn’t bring himself to discuss hurt him in a way far deeper
than that mortar attack ever could.He told people that he had been “into the
dark places,”
and it’s unclear if he ever truly recovered from that. Even more,
he might have had issues before he entered Iraq or before he entered the Corps
or before he entered high school.

In the end, this hulking man who had been trained to kill
couldn’t or wouldn’t come to grips with the idea that he probably needed mental
help.

In reflecting on her decision to publish her story, Nicole
talked about how mental illness is one of the last giant stigmas in our
country. In fact, it was the death of a police officer prior to her column that
inspired her to come out about this issue:

Last year, a man with bipolar disorder
shot and killed a state trooper. In the interviews with his family afterward,
they said they had been trying to get him help, but the public response seemed
to be “crazy people shoot cops.” I’m not saying I’m crazy, but I do believe if
the man had gotten the help he needed, he could have managed the disease.

In the five years since she was able to crawl back off that
ledge, Nicole has been climbing the ladder at a prestigious newspaper, spending
time with her boyfriend and advocating for the mentally ill. This year, she
also donated a kidney to her father.

She touched many lives and made so many people so much
better because she figured out she needed help and she got it.

Ben Sebena probably needed help and he had access to it.The
VA in Milwaukee is renowned for being one of the best in the Midwest in terms
of providing services to veterans. Those who have served have access to
counseling, medicine and health care professionals.

In many cases, though, the vets don’t take advantage of
these opportunities due to a distain for bureaucracy. In other cases, I would
imagine, the societal equation of mental issues with weakness would be another
reason.

I’ve spent more than enough time with “guy’s guys” to know
what gets said over beer when the subject of someone seeing “a shrink” comes
up:

“Does his husband go with him to see the shrink?”

“Hey, did the doctor give him a box of tampons too?”

“I just figured he was tougher than that…”

In other words “mental illness equals pussy.”

And yet it was this diminutive kid with a pixie haircut who
was stronger than all of them, a woman who laid bare her fears and shared a
story that most of those manly men can’t tell. She was tougher than people who
earned a chest full of medals by being willing to stand up in the face of death
but are unwilling to sit down with “a shrink.”

It was probably the bravest thing I ever saw.

Friday Ferretblogging: House of Sick Edition

No, not the weasels, thank God. Just the humans. I contracted some kind of vicious plague on Christmas Eve, managed to tough it out through Christmas morning and then collapsed into a NyQuil haze for 72 hours. During which time Mr. A had to pack the car, cancel the remainder of our trip, drug my sick ass up and drag me home and into bed. He then spent the next couple of days handling our whole lives like a boss while I whined and complained and hacked up bits of my lungs.

As a reward he’s now come down with whatever unholy hybrid of chest cold/flu/fever this is. Everybody take handfuls of vitamin C RIGHT NOW. I haven’t been knocked on my ass like this in ten years. When I said I wanted to spend a couple of days in bed eating Christmas cookies and still lose five pounds, I should have been more specific.

The beasties have been remarkably patient with the lack of attention they’re getting, is the upshot. They’ll probably give me another day or so before they trash the cage and hide the car keys under the piano, but for now they’re using their adorableness to cheer me right up:

IMG_20111006_120052

A.

Friday Guest Catblogging: The Unknown Torti

Dr. A and I saw this oddly marked Torti during a recent walk around the neighborhood. She lives around the corner, the shadow is cast by my spousal unit:

Laurel st torti

Friday Ferretblogging: House of Sick Edition

No, not the weasels, thank God. Just the humans. I contracted some kind of vicious plague on Christmas Eve, managed to tough it out through Christmas morning and then collapsed into a NyQuil haze for 72 hours. During which time Mr. A had to pack the car, cancel the remainder of our trip, drug my sick ass up and drag me home and into bed. He then spent the next couple of days handling our whole lives like a boss while I whined and complained and hacked up bits of my lungs.

As a reward he’s now come down with whatever unholy hybrid of chest cold/flu/fever this is. Everybody take handfuls of vitamin C RIGHT NOW. I haven’t been knocked on my ass like this in ten years. When I said I wanted to spend a couple of days in bed eating Christmas cookies and still lose five pounds, I should have been more specific.

The beasties have been remarkably patient with the lack of attention they’re getting, is the upshot. They’ll probably give me another day or so before they trash the cage and hide the car keys under the piano, but for now they’re using their adorableness to cheer me right up:

IMG_20111006_120052

A.

Brave

Five years ago, a former student of mine teetered on the
edge of ending her own life.

I never knew it at the time, as she had slipped through the
cracks of life like so many other kids who sit in my classes and stare back at
me as I pontificate about something or other. She was a great student, a funny
kid and an amazing journalist. She had that weird “quirk” about her that
predisposed her to a life spent with coffee and cigarettes and off-color jokes.
She oscillated between self-deprecating humor and claims of being a Golden God
of design. She just had that odd newsroom sense of being annoyed with herself
and being proud of herself all at the same time.

Turns out, some of that was the doing of a mental illness.

In a column she wrote a few years back, she did the scariest
and bravest thing I could imagine:She told people she was broken.

(The DM didn’t keep the full version on its site.She added this note to her Facebook page that was the “uncut” edition. Read it if you get a chance.)

She explained the nature of her bipolar disorder and how the
pills weren’t helping and how she had neatly arranged the bottles and pondered
how best to end her own life. She explained that this wasn’t a mental snap, a
one-shot deal where she “had a bad day” but rather a slow build that had taken
half of her life from her. She provided details of life as a kid, a young woman
and an adult who was forced to live a silent struggle against a societal
shaming.

You break a leg? Ouch! There’s a doctor for that.

You contract an illness? Oh, you poor thing! There’s a cure
for that.

You have a mental “issue?” Snap out of it. Jesus… Quit being
such a crybaby.

I hadn’t thought about her for a while until I readthe
story of Officer Jen Sebena and her husband, Ben, who is now charged with her
murder.

We were watching TV on Christmas Eve when the news of her
death came across the screen. She was found dead while on duty, having been
shot multiple times outside a Wauwatosa fire station. Two days later, her
husband sat in a courtroom, while the details of his disturbing behavior had
been revealed.

Ben Sebena was a highly decorated Marine, who was part of
the invasion force at the start of the 2003 Iraq War. He received a Purple
Heart after surviving a mortar attack that left him with scars all over his
body.

In a YouTube video, he talks of seeing friends killed all
around him, of having to kill a child, of learning that “death is OK.”

Over the past month, Jen Sebena had told fellow officers her
husband had become more erratic.

He abused her, held a gun to her head and threatened to kill
her.

He claimed to be jealous of “other men” although no evidence
has come to light suggesting any other men in his wife’s life.

He punched holes in the walls of their home.

In the days leading up to the murder, Ben stalked his wife,
following her in the couple’s 2012 Prius. He then emerged from the shadows on
Christmas Eve around 4:30 a.m.

He shot her twice in the back of the head before removing
her service weapon from its holster and pumping three more bullets into her
face. He later told police he wanted to make sure she was dead and that she
didn’t suffer.

Ben Sebena has been charged with first-degree intentional
homicide and although no one has made mention of it yet, I would be willing to
bet every dollar I have that his “mental condition” will come into play at some
point.

Chances are, those events he spoke of during that video and
many more he couldn’t bring himself to discuss hurt him in a way far deeper
than that mortar attack ever could.He told people that he had been “into the
dark places,”
and it’s unclear if he ever truly recovered from that. Even more,
he might have had issues before he entered Iraq or before he entered the Corps
or before he entered high school.

In the end, this hulking man who had been trained to kill
couldn’t or wouldn’t come to grips with the idea that he probably needed mental
help.

In reflecting on her decision to publish her story, Nicole
talked about how mental illness is one of the last giant stigmas in our
country. In fact, it was the death of a police officer prior to her column that
inspired her to come out about this issue:

Last year, a man with bipolar disorder
shot and killed a state trooper. In the interviews with his family afterward,
they said they had been trying to get him help, but the public response seemed
to be “crazy people shoot cops.” I’m not saying I’m crazy, but I do believe if
the man had gotten the help he needed, he could have managed the disease.

In the five years since she was able to crawl back off that
ledge, Nicole has been climbing the ladder at a prestigious newspaper, spending
time with her boyfriend and advocating for the mentally ill. This year, she
also donated a kidney to her father.

She touched many lives and made so many people so much
better because she figured out she needed help and she got it.

Ben Sebena probably needed help and he had access to it.The
VA in Milwaukee is renowned for being one of the best in the Midwest in terms
of providing services to veterans. Those who have served have access to
counseling, medicine and health care professionals.

In many cases, though, the vets don’t take advantage of
these opportunities due to a distain for bureaucracy. In other cases, I would
imagine, the societal equation of mental issues with weakness would be another
reason.

I’ve spent more than enough time with “guy’s guys” to know
what gets said over beer when the subject of someone seeing “a shrink” comes
up:

“Does his husband go with him to see the shrink?”

“Hey, did the doctor give him a box of tampons too?”

“I just figured he was tougher than that…”

In other words “mental illness equals pussy.”

And yet it was this diminutive kid with a pixie haircut who
was stronger than all of them, a woman who laid bare her fears and shared a
story that most of those manly men can’t tell. She was tougher than people who
earned a chest full of medals by being willing to stand up in the face of death
but are unwilling to sit down with “a shrink.”

It was probably the bravest thing I ever saw.

Friday Guest Catblogging: The Unknown Torti

Dr. A and I saw this oddly marked Torti during a recent walk around the neighborhood. She lives around the corner, the shadow is cast by my spousal unit:

Laurel st torti

He Once Cried a River of Tears…Actually, He Did That a Bunch of Times

From Album4

With the Fiscal Cliff countdown at T Minus 5 days and counting, here’s Andy Borowitz channeling his inner Most Incompetent Speaker in the World:

Dear American People:

It’s Speaker Boehner here, writing my first and last ever holiday letter to you. Why am I doing this after all of these years, you might ask? Well, I won’t mince words. I’ve started drinking a little early this Christmas.

Yes, I’m sitting here in my man-cave, panelled in mahogany the color of me, doing a rack of Canadian Club shooters and smoking my way through a carton of Lucky Strikes as if they were the last Twinkies in creation. If my chief of staff knew that I was writing to you while I was this polluted, he’d shit a phone book. But guess what? I don’t fucking care anymore.

Otherwise, have a Happy New Year and thanks as always for giving me the chance to put in my .000002 cents worth here at First Draft. Cheers!

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Forty Guns

Samuel Fullerwas the ultimate cult film director of the 1950’s and ’60’s. He made dark, quirky, and complex low-ish budget movies. Dr. A and I saw this little noir Western gem for the first time last night on TCM. It’s to die for and must-see. Holy contradictory sentiments, Batman. Btw, Fuller’s original title wasWoman with a Whip but it made the studio queasy. Hmm, I wondered if he asked Betty Page to be in the cast? Probably not.

The always awesome Barbara Stanwyck’s character is a cross between a a badass rancher chick and a Tammany Hall sachem. She did all her own riding, whip wielding, and stunts, including being dragged by a galloping horse during a dust storm. I kid you not. Fuck yeah, Miz Stanwyck.

Forty gus

Here’s the trailer:

And for the cherry on the pulp sundae, here’s a song written for the flick, High Ridin’ Woman wherein the aforementioned whip was,uh, whipped out in the lyrics or something like that: