Friday, May 30, 2003

Original Plans for Weekend:
Friday Night: Hit local bar for mojito special, party like rockstar
Saturday Day: Dry cleaning, walk in park, bookstore browsing
Saturday Night: Orioles/Rangers game, party like rockstar

Revised Plans for Weekend, post-violent-encounter with living room armchair:
Friday Night: Sit on couch, watch swollen middle toe turn black and wiggle it whilst listening for rattle of disconnected bone parts
Saturday Day: Ditto, plus reading
Saturday Night: Ditto Ditto, plus mixing whiskey and medication like rockstar

May you all have more pleasant weekends than I. For now, I leave with you inspirational words from our Fearless Leader, first uttered at a campaign speech in Greensboro, NC:
"Our Priorities is Our Faith."
Yes, they is. Yes they is.
Paul Krugman is dumb today. "Hey, remember that movie 'Wag the Dog'? Where they use a war to distract from domestic scandals? That's like what the Bush administration is doing!"

Okay, yawn. Is he totally forgetting the obvious point here? The fact that everyone was noting the eerie reality of this movie when it came out, seeing as how it just preceded the Clinton Administration? And seeing how the movie's president has just been involved in a sex scandal that he covers up by bombing some country people aren't that familiar with? And seeing how Clinton ordered the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan almost precisely on the day that his grand jury testimony was set to begin? And then bombed Iraq right when the impeachment hearings started?

Of course I'm not saying Clinton did this for the reasons in the movie, but it's a far better comparison and one that has been made ad nauseum, and it's embarassing for Krugman to essentially say: "Look! Bush did it too!"

Thursday, May 29, 2003

disappointed plan

Blew my chance to see Dismemberment Plan play their farewell show in their hometown. Why? Reasons are twofold:
1) Am too dense to assume that extravagantly popular D.C. band might sell out their hometown farewell show.
2) Despite having an inkling re: sell-out, am too cheap to pay ticketmaster fees.

Then, blew my chance at securing D.C. sugar daddy. (because I'm deliriously happy in satisfying relationship) After walking fifteen minutes to the bus stop, then riding bus for fifteen minutes, then walking for five minutes, then arriving at club and seeing wild packs of kids foraging for scarce resources (D-plan tickets), I stopped in at a local bar for a beer so the evening would not be a total waste. I even had my "don't talk to me" armor prepared. I always carry a book with me so that when I go to bar/cafe/show alone, no one will be inclined to approach me because, frankly, I hate strangers. But my Alabama (the band, not the school) shirt was more magnetic than the repelling power of my book, and gentleman in suit approached to discuss the merits of this supergroup.

OLD GUY IN SUIT: You're an Alabama fan?
MOI: Um. Sure.
OGIS: Boy, don't see those shirts around much anymore.
MOI: Nope.
OGIS: You remember their 40 Acres tour? [unsure if that was name of tour. know nothing about alabama, and wasn't concentrating on conversation.]
MOI: Sure don't.
OGIS: [chortle, chortle] Yes, I suppose that was before your time! You're too young for that!
MOI: [internally] ergo, you are far too old to be pulling this juvenile crap at a bar. I must have looked an easy target, as in 'that unattractively dressed young lady must be desperate'
OGIS: blah blah blah blah blah classical piano blablah north carolina blah blah journalism
MOI: glug, glug, glug, glug
OGIS: Want to go downstairs? It's very nice.
MOI: Can't. My boyfriend is being released from prison tonight and he gets very jealous if I'm not home waiting. I'm out.

Shame on me. Need to drastically hone sugar-daddy-securing techniques or will never get a dream job.

DISCLAIMER : I am not looking for a sugar daddy. I am in a perfectly happy, living-on-love, poverty-stricken relationship where we gaze dreamily at each other and eat Slim Jims. However. I have a cutie pie little sister that will be joining me in the district in the fall, and she might be taking applications. [sueandnotu ducks to avoid flying cyber projectiles flung from Erik]

Tax laws generally aren't especially interesting to me, but things like this get my blood boiling.

Written into the new tax cut is a $400 child credit - the allowance for households with children had been $600 and is now being raised to $1000; thus, these households will get a $400 check in the mail.

But wait!

In a last minute revision, this child credit will now be denied to those taxpayers in the lowest income brackets (those making $10,500 to $26,625. People with incomes less than $10,000 don't pay taxes, so they aren't eligible for refunds anyway.). The poverty line right now is around $18,000 for a family of four. So many of the taxpayers in this bracket that have children also live in poverty. And the largest group of people populating the poverty rolls are single mothers. So, a whole lot of single Moms just got the big middle finger from legislators.

"I don't know why they would cut that out of the bill," said Senator Blanche Lincoln, the Arkansas Democrat who persuaded the full Senate to send the credit to many more low income families before the provision was dropped in conference. "These are the people who need it the most and who will spend it the most. These are the people who buy the blue jeans and the detergent and who will stimulate the economy with their spending."

The legislators blame the unkind cut on the senate for capping the tax cut at $350 billion. After including the massive dividend and capital gains tax cuts (read: oodles of money for rich people), there wasn't any room left for the costly matter of giving some much-needed cash to the neediest.

Granted, giving $400 back to the poorest families is not going to stimulate jobs and growth. (Of course, neither is giving dividend breaks to the wealthy, but let's let that slide for now.) All the same, as the president of the the Children's Research and Education Institute points out in the article, it's unjust to include some children in the cut and not others. Conservatives often complain about the lazy poor leeching off society, but these taxpayers are the folks who are receiving an income, trying to "play by the rules," and they still can't catch a break.

Welcome to compassionate conservativism, eh? I know it's not in the conservative agenda to construct elaborate safety nets for the poor, but do we have to be actively disenfranchising them?

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Okay. Who bought me the subscription to Men's Journal? It showed up in my mailbox, with my name and address on it. Is there somebody out there who really thinks I need to know more about shaving testicles? (I already asked Mom, wasn't her. Out of suspects.)
News Item! Bravo is planning to launch a gay-themed reality dating show called "Boy Meets Boy." I am certain that I will watch it, though I'm skeptical as to whether it will be more engaging than my current favorite reality show, America's Next Top Model. (It's on UPN for some reason, and mixes bible-beater models with atheist indie-rock models and is so much better than Sorority Life.)

The usual suspects, of course, are up in arms. The fun party people over at the Traditional Values Coalition plan to protest the series. Says Andrea Lafferty, the group's executive director, "Clearly they've hit a new low. What's next after 'Boy Meets Boy'? 'Boy Meets Sheep'?"

Oooh! Boy Meets Sheep! Way to integrate the Santorum slippery-slope talking points, you NARROW-MINDED BIGOT. Besides. She ought to know the reality TV demographic better. I would so watch 'Boy Meets Sheep.'
hip hip

Did anybody catch that NYT magazine story this weekend about the "Hipublicans?" I didn't get a chance to read it, but I saw it and I think I got the point. Young conservatives on campus are cool. Now, everybody who knows, ever has known, or wants to place money on the chance that they ever will know a "hip" republican, please raise your hands. Thank you. I mean, really, you could say the same thing about people who identify themselves as "democrats" rather than just liberals or progressives -- I'm sorry, but most kids who take an inordinate interest in politics and punditry and Beltway brouhahas (go alliteration!) in college are generally not the vanguard of cool. I mean, are our heads really supposed to spin at the earth-shattering cultural trend of Young Conservatives shedding their cardigans, white linen, and tennis rackets? Do we marvel at their willingness to look just like normal people? Now, I don't want to pick on on them, but let's face facts. I've met a lot of republicans. There are friendly, engaging, principled, generous, fun, and charming republicans, but hip? Methinks the NYT just couldn't resist coining a new term, even at the expense of relevance. (gasp! The NY Times??)

Want some hard evidence? Try this on for size. The gaggle of Republican fundraisers/lobbyists/staffers with whom I've become acquainted recently attended a concert at the respectably cool 9:30 club. Who did this hipster squad flock to with such exuberance? What band have they been gushing about for the past two weeks as the most fun ever? The Faint? Fischerspooner? The Rapture? No, ladies and gentleman, it was a Neil Diamond cover band called Super Diamond, and it was not attended with the slightest hint of irony. Actually, that might just be so lame that it's cool. Republican staffers: hopelessly without taste, or forefront of detached ironic hipster geek scene? I'll do more investigating if Neil Sedaka comes through town.
Buh. Why I've been in a bad mood for a month: (from the WPost) Washington Metro area hasn't had a fully clear, sunny day since April 28. If it weren't for the odd escapes to beaches/Austin, I'd probably be borderline psychopathic by now. If memory serves, even wretched Chicago was lovely by this time of year.
The Fan's Prayer

Our Mavericks, who art in Dallas,
Hallowed be thy game.
Thy Finley come, Cuban's will be done,
on jumpers as it is on fade-aways.

Give us next game another win,
And forgive us our free-throw dominance,
As we forgive Spurs who dominate inside.
And lead us not into foul trouble,
But deliver us from technicals,
For thine is the Nowitzki and the Van Exel and Nash
Now and Forever

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

From Gawker, a great quiz: Art or Crap? I only got 50%. I am crap.

Kriston got 9 out of 10. He sure knows his crap! (expect an overzealous post shortly from him re: modern art is NOT crap, it's just hard to contextualize the executions of deconstructed ideas! (I made that up)
I first read about it in a hysterical-sounding Harper's article. Now I'm reading about it in Krugman's column. And he's citing the respected Financial Times. So maybe it's time to believe.

The Harper's article accused the Bush administration of a diabolical sabotage: enact tax cuts that current spending levels can't handle, and use the ensuing fiscal crisis to dismantle the Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security programs that are antithesis to the hard-line conservative agenda. Pah! I thought. They just want to put through tax cuts because that's what Republicans do! They would never do something as politically risky as sabotage this social programs that are wildly popular, especially among the pivotal senior demographic.

Ah. But what if a fiscal crisis forces their hand? What if they have no choice? And what if they can rely on the fact that the majority of the populace won't put two and two together to figure out that it was this very administration's tax cuts that caused the crisis? Or as the Financial Times puts it:
..."more extreme Republicans" actually want a fiscal train wreck: "Proposing to slash federal spending, particularly on social programs, is a tricky electoral proposition, but a fiscal crisis offers the tantalizing prospect of forcing such cuts through the back door."

Krugman's closer:
How can this be happening? Most people, even most liberals, are complacent. They don't realize how dire the fiscal outlook really is, and they don't read what the ideologues write. They imagine that the Bush administration, like the Reagan administration, will modify our system only at the edges, that it won't destroy the social safety net built up over the past 70 years.

That's exactly what I imagined, but perhaps it's time to start thinking more critically. Three guesses as to who would benefit from this agenda, and who would be left out naked in the snow.
From the NYT: Seeing Islam as 'Evil' Faith, Evangelicals Seek Converts. The holier-than-all-of-thous are organizing and coordinating their underhanded attacks on Islam. Before, it was just an evangelist here and there, flying off the handle. But the Southern Baptists are nothing if not organized.

Evangelical Christians are hosting seminars "on how to woo Muslims away from Islam."
But although the teacher, an evangelical preacher from Beirut, stressed the need to avoid offending Muslims, he projected a snappy PowerPoint presentation showing passages from the Koran that he said proved Islam was regressive, fraudulent and violent.

"Here in the Koran, it says slay them, slay the infidels!" said the teacher, who said he did not want to be identified because being a missionary to Muslims put his life at risk. "In the Bible there are no words from Jesus saying we should kill innocent people."

I'm not biblical scholar, but it seems to me that there was some nasty violence in the OT. Maybe nothing so blunt as "kill the innocent," but I imagine there was some "defend the faith by any means necessary" kind of action, which is pretty much what the Koran is getting at.

But as is usual for these bastions of cultural sensitivity, they seem to be shooting themselves in the foot:
Akbar Ahmed, chairman of the Islamic studies department at American University, said he grew up attending Catholic and Protestant missionary schools in Pakistan, but never heard a negative word about Islam from the missionaries. Now, he said, the new hostility to Islam and, in particular, the insults to the prophet Muhammad have outraged the Muslim world.

"The whole range of Muslims, from orthodox to liberal secularists, are all lined up against these attacks coming from the American evangelists," said Mr. Ahmed, the author of a new book "Islam Under Siege: Living Dangerously in a Post-Honor World" (Polity Press). "Unwittingly, these evangelists have unleashed a consolidation of sentiments for Islam. Even the most moderate Muslims have been upset by this."

Pat McEvoy, high school secretary from Ohio and Christian Warrior, says "she felt an obligation to save them from an eternity in Hell" via chocolate chip cookies and invitations to home-cooked meals. "Our job," says one teacher, "is not to make the Muslim a Christian. Our job is to show them the love of Christ." You know what he means. It's lip service to cultural sensitivity, when what he *really* wants to say is, "Our job is not to make them vegetarians. Our job is to keep them from eating meat." This is, like everything Evangelical Christians do, an outrageous spasm of self-righteousness and hypocrisy, but as an advocate of anything that keeps them from bothering me, I'm all for it.

Ow. Ow. Ow.

My beach weekend on the Outer Banks was a great success, and although half the participants were Republican fundraisers, we avoided any talk of politics and instead focused on our shared interests: slushy cocktails, jacuzzis, seashells. Coming from a land-locked upbringing in decidedly non-coastal Colorado and central Texas, the beach is foreign terrain to me. I would like it very, very much if they could just eliminate the disgusting creatures that live in the ocean and periodically slime their way on shore. Probably 50% of my time on the beach was spent watching those sand crab things out of the corner of my eye. They would slither out of their holes, all 234 legs working furiously, and scamper two feet across the shoreline, then bury themselves again. I was mesmerized by their utter vileness. They were the Platonic form of nasty. Legs, and shells, eyeballs and heft--if one ran across my toes I was going to have to singe my flesh off. Yes, I'm a city girl.

At dinnertime on day 2, the girls were going to order mounds of fresh seafood from a local place. The organizer asked everybody if they preferred crab or shrimp, and I, having recently more-or-less cured myself of my seafood phobia, proudly announced that I would eat crab. I've had crab meat before. I've had crab cakes and crab dip, and liked them. My seafood phobia hasn't cured me of shrimp yet, so I felt on solid ground with crab meat.

Then came the food. Pounds and pounds of veiny, curly, bulbous little maggoty-like shrimp bodies. Thank God, I have my crab meat! I thought. "Where is the crab?" I asked. Oh, you simple, naive thing. "They're in the bag," our food-getter answered. I thought this was strange phrasing. "They?" Hmmm. Nevertheless, I peeked into the large paper bag and too my neverending, pulsing, living horror, there were piles of CREATURES that looked like boiled red versions of those monstrous aberrations of nature I had been eyeing on the beach. It was too late for me to make a dinner of hushpuppies alone. They were all gathering around the table and someone plopped one of those...those THINGS right in front of me. "Are you a crab girl, Susan?" asked one. "NO!" I wanted to scream. "I just spent the afternoon praying for the extinction of these overgrown insects and now I have to EAT one? I have to pull its legs off and rip out guts and look at nasty slimy innards?" I started glaring out the window at the nearby ocean, praying for a tidal wave to come knock over the house. Or for Satan to appear and carry his minions of evil off my plate and back down to the underworld where they belong. No such luck. With ever-dwindling appetite, I followed the lead of crab-cracking table companions and tore limbs assunder and ate tiny little pinches of what was actually pretty tender and flavorful meat. I survived, but let's just say I'm not a fan.

So I didn't have any live crabs run over my feet or touch me in any way, but I apparently found it necessary to singe my flesh all the same. It is all the more painful now that I am not anesthetized with a regular influx of booze. My knees burned the worst and now I can't straighten them. I cut quite the professional figure this morning, waddling bow-legged in a half-squat to work down Pennsylvania Ave. In heels. All I wanted was a merciful end to this walk of shame, but I was held up on the street corner, for the second time this year, by President Bush. His motorcade comes screaming down Pennsylvania, while I wait miserable and tottering on the corner, gritting my teeth and muttering to myself. The secret service guys come by in their vans, every window open and the back flap flipped up. Out of every window and out of the back, two or three secret service heads stick out and these guys shoot intimidating "move and I'll f&*ing kill you" looks to the passers by. I for one kind of wanted them to put me out of my misery, but to no avail. I'm going to have to see about getting a temp to wheel me about the office in my rolling chair.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Happy Holidays

The preparations are coming together for Estrogen Fiesta. I'm on orange/lemon squeezing duty for the Sangria tub, we've found a use for "Walt," the lone male participant [cabana boy], and my frosty mug is currently frosting. I've also been placed on margarita duty for the weekend, since none of the other participants were ever bartenders/Texans.

Meanwhile, SueAndNotU, is checking out.

So long suckers, see you next week!!
Via Salon, Republican Senate hopeful Mark Foley refuses to answer questions about his sexuality. It seems this is an issue that has followed him for years in the Florida legislature. This of course brings out interesting questions regarding how much we have a right to know about our elected officials. My take on it is that there is no such right regarding a legislator's sexuality, and I don't know that many people would argue otherwise. Obviously, his views on homosexuality in public policy are far more significant than whether or not he is one. His views on anything in public policy are far more significant, and his sexual orientation is not something that would color his political views in such a way that necessitates the public's right to know.

That said, while I don't care whether or not he is gay, I admit I'm personally curious as to why he's keeping it quiet. The public assumption will of course be that he is gay, and it would a strangely noble position for a straight man to be involved in this debate in order to make a point about privacy. If he is gay and keeping it quiet, it's too bad that he doesn't feel comfortable enough with himself or his party to go public. But of course it's his business, and I'm kind of glad to have somebody put a foot down and insist on a sphere of privacy. Now if somebody would do that about religion and refuse the call to proclaim themselves born-again.
Name that picture

Owner of Funny Cide celebrating at Preakness, or the Mad Hatter getting ready to whack the Dormouse at the Tea Party?

After the Riots

Although I haven't read all the way through my new issue, I'm willing to bet that the best thing, hands-down, in Harper's this month is the reprint of James Agee's WWII-era essay "After the Riots." I just PDF'd it and e-mailed it to Kriston so I read through it again, and again it floored me. It's a remarkable depiction of racial conflict, guilt, and responsibility, but the truly stunning thing about the essay is the way Agee portrays the humanity of the people populating his story. I won't give it away, but he writes with great sympathy for people who could easily be depicted as mindless bigots. Or see how he perfectly expresses the agonizing discomfort of the black gentleman on the bus with a few quick phrases. What I get from this is an overwhelming sense of kinship that this writer shares with both the fallen and the saved. I saw it in the only other work of his I've read, A Death in the Family, and I'm pleased to see it's not a fluke. Anyway, if anyone wants me to e-mail you a copy, lemme know. (I probably shouldn't publish my work e-mail, so just send any requests to the rusty old college account that I use for back up and spam: s-smith at mail dot utexas dot edu. I'll check it.)
Sometimes people ask me why I'm so fascinated with Russian culture and politics. For me, it's so self-evidently engrossing that I don't quite get the question: it's a country going through a remarkable and unprecedented transformation. How could you not be curious about the repercussions of a 74-year social experiment in utopia that twisted into a dystopia and finally collapsed? Or about an advanced society grappling with problems of both nuclear weapons and third-world social/health/demography problems? Or the astounding things we'll learn as this strange country embarks on its next social experiment: liberal democracy and capitalism?

But more specifically, I enjoy following the day-to-day events of the supremely bizarre Russian political machine. They haven't been practicing for 200 years as we have, and things are a little rough around the edges. The politicians regularly say things that would have a press secretary here in the states go into cardiac arrest. I appreciate this rawness, and not condescendingly as in, "Oh, look at the funny little Russians trying to have a representative democracy! See how they mess it all up!" No, I enjoy it because it's so very, very Russian. As time goes on, I'm sure the politicians will become more polished, slicker, and evasive. But I hope they don't lose this particularly blunt Russian edge I find so refreshing. Anyone who has been to Moscow can tell you that there isn't much hemming and hawing in Russian social interactions; diplomatic statements, appeasing disclaimers, etc., are a rarity. Never mind the bollocks, here's the Russians. So to speak. So I always have to grin when I read earnest headlines such as this one from Gazeta:
Hangovers Must Not Disrupt Election

The Duma elections due in December this year will be brought forward by a week and will now be held on Sunday 7th. The pro-presidential factions have already submitted a bill to that effect. The most obvious reason for the change is the Kremlin’s concern about a low turnout at the end of the Constitution Day holiday weekend: United Russia’s electorate will be too inebriated to vote; SPS supporters will probably spend the break abroad, leaving only the disciplined Communist supporters to cast their votes.

I'm also glad to see that the failure of communism didn't take the wind out of the sails of big dreamers. Can you fault the Russians for thinking small when you see this?:
(from The Times UK) Putin orders the clouds not to rain on his parade

PRESIDENT PUTIN has ordered fine weather for the St Petersburg summit and 300th anniversary festivities next week, and it is unlikely to rain on his parade. Ten aeroplanes will take to the skies, equipped with cloud-seeding agents in an attempt to induce rain away from the city, allowing holidaymakers and visiting heads of state to enjoy dry weather below.

Vladimir Stepanenko, head physicist of St Petersburg’s Geophysics Observatory, said: “Our aim is to empty all clouds of rain before they hit the city borders.” Such practice may strike awe into the heart of every rain-soaked Brit, but Russians take “cloud-bursting” for granted, having enjoyed its benefits over public holidays since Stalin gave the order to research weather control in the 1930s.

I would like to direct Pres. Putin to my Estrogen Fiesta since it starts tomorrow and it's currently 55 degrees and raining and has been all week. I wanted umbrellas for my drinks, not for my head.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Here's a great bit from this month's Harper's. It's from a March 14 report by Scott Murray on an India vs. New Zealand cricket match, published on the Guardian website. I just checked, and this guy is still covering sports for the Guardian, so I guess he didn't get the axe after this doozy slipped through some editorial fingers. I think he should have been promoted. Here's his cricket recap:

It's really simple: India are already through, New Zealand have to win.


No? Only me then. Good.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

slim fast

The Blumenthal book talk tonight was interesting, but it wasn't Sidney that made the strongest impression on me tonight. Before the talk began, I was in the bathroom of the Press Club where, inexplicably, 4 or 5 girls who couldn't be more than 12 or 13 years old were changing clothes.
"You didn't eat anything at dinner tonight," said one.
"Yes I did! You're the one who didn't eat anything!"
"I had a dinner roll! And it went straight to my hips."

This last bit was said without a trace of irony--12 year olds aren't reflexive enough for irony anyway. And it bothered the hell out of me. Those girls weren't the least bit worried about their hips. I know this because 12 year olds don't have hips. Oh, there's always the early bloomer who has to wear a bra in 4th grade and tries to bury her curving body in frumpy clothes until the rest catch up. But that girl was not among this gaggle. These were little sticklings barely out of their training bras.

So no, they weren't worried about their hips. But if I remember anything about that age, I know they are damn well worried about being a woman. Or at least being older. Or definitely not being a little girl anymore. So they mimic the language they hear from our mouths because they believe this his how it sounds to be a woman, and this is a concern you should have as a woman. They're trying this behavior on for size, and it's still just posturing, but not for long: they already have an unhealthy relationship with food if they're only eating dinner rolls. We have to do better. The teen idols of today seem to be trying - they're all "girl power" and "girls rule" and "you're beautiful just how you are," which is of course a good message, but Christina Aguilera can sing "I am beautiful" all day long and it still doesn't take much more than a 12-year-old to note: yes, but you're also freakishly skinny and sexual and womanly and I'm none of those things.

We talk empowerment out of one side of our mouths but fall right back into learned behavior. Fridays, one of the attorneys I work with brings donuts in. I always used to leap out of my office to be the first one to pounce on a fresh glazed. A few months later, I shockingly noted that I was hovering back saying things like, "Oh, I just can't. Oh, hide them, hide them!" Not because I thought those things, but that's just what you do. Young girls see these things, and hear them. The auto-response needs to be changed to something like this: "Donuts? No thanks, I brought a delicious grapefruit, and I'm saving room for my broiled salmon! I enjoy eating, as long as it's healthy and nutritious!" Sigh, looks like those young ladies are doomed to a long puberty of sticking fingers down throats.
Sid Vicious

I'm going to go see Sidney Blumenthal talk about his new book "The Clinton Wars" at the National Press Club tonight. Why? dunno. Well, yes I do. A portion of the book is dedicated to slandering Christopher Hitchens, and I want to see if the Hitch will turn up to defend his honor. (He won't).

The story is this: Hitch and Blumethal were good buddies. Hitch hates Clinton, Sid works for Clinton, but they decide not to let that sour things. Well, when the Lewinsky hearings were going on, there was some question as to whether or not Lewinsky was a "stalker" of sorts. This allegation was denied, but Christopher Hitchens stepped forward and signed an affidavit attesting to the fact that at a recent lunch, Sid had repeatedly referred to Lewinsky as a stalker. Hitch's betrayal of his friend was an explosive issue that threw his colleagues at the liberal Nation into an uproar. Hitch made snide comments about the left perferring to close ranks and protect their own rather than tell the truth. If anybody's interested, here is Hitch's rebuttal to Sid. Not really an earth-shattering scandal, just the kind of personal politics that interest the type of pathetic person that is titillated by the goings-on of B-list intellectual celebs. Namely, moi.

So I don't want to buy Sid's book or anything, but I thought I could sit in the front row and make lascivious faces at him to see if I could make him lose his place. I mean, Christ, I've been in D.C. for like 8 months and haven't ONCE been propositioned by a senator, a representative, or *even* a White House aide. I am clearly going to the wrong parties.*

*Such as the one last weekend where, instead of meeting any power brokers/sugar daddies, I had the displeasure of meeting a guy that looked like a West Side Story reject who introduced himself thusly, "My name is Paul. But my friends call me Jackknife."

A selection from the Sid/Hitchens exchange, regarding the lunch date during which Sid allegedly called Lewinsky a stalker:

Hitchens on Blumenthal: "I don't think I will or could ever forget the transformation...Where was my witty if sometimes cynical, clever if sometimes dogmatic, friend? In his place seemed to be someone who had gone to work for John Gotti. He talked coldly and intently of a lethal right-wing conspiracy that was slowly engulfing the capital. And he spoke, as if out of the side of a tough-guy mouth, about the women who were tools of the plot."

Blumenthal on Hitchens: ""As we ate and drank, they laughed and laughed. Tell us more, what happened then?...Hitchens roared, Carol giggled...It was impressive how anyone could be so lubricated and articulate...My mistake had been to think that he was a harmless entertainer. The surprise was that he was capable of doing harm without conscience or regret."

Hitchens, again: "I had the ability to nail the lie, and when contacted by the House Judiciary Committee, I did so nail it. And I would do it again."

Estrogen Fiesta 2003

SueAndNotU has Memorial weekend plans, that have now been dubbed with the above moniker. 13 girls and one, poor, misbegotten boyfriend that will surely drown himself in agony before the weekend is over, will be hitting the beaches on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. For you Harper's readers, yes, these are the very Outer Banks that were featured in the recent memoir "Rolltop Mantra of the Outer Banks." I don't know much about Carolina, North or South [other than the fact that I must spin things around my head like helicopters], nor am I fully briefed on the beaches in this area, but I *do* know that we have a lovely beach house squatting right on the shore with 6 bedrooms, a jacuzzi, a pool, and all the trimmings. Furthermore, we'll be staying in an area with the absolutely smashing name of Kill Devil Hills, so I really fail to see where this weekend could go wrong. In fact, it might actually get into the upper 70s and AND! the sun is rumored to make an appearance! So there's a slim chance that I could A) put on a bathing suit without collapsing into hypothermia, and B) darken my skin from transparent to shockingly unhealthy! (Please imagine to yourselves how much I'd complain if I actually end up in Russia next winter rather than mild D.C.) I can't wait to flop onto the beach with a tower of books, or wander around avoiding crawly things, or sit on the deck with the barbecue grill raging. It will be a much-needed break and a welcome change of scenery. [But Sue-didn't you just go to Austin? Uh, yeah. Still. I'm tired again. I'm delicate.]

Those of you with Real World images of cat-fighting women in your minds might think that 13 women in one house for a long weekend is a ba-a-a-d idea. And you probably think that the girls will sit around wishing they had boys to flirt with. But to be honest, most of the ladies on this trip don't want to be waxing and plucking and polishing and curling and prancing and preening for the weekend. Most of the ladies bid farewell to the age of 21 a few years ago, and frankly, are tired. Everyone I talked to breathed a deep, cathartic sigh of relief upon hearing that it was a girls' weekend. No games, no pressure, just utter relaxation and slushy drinks with umbrellas. Oh, and pillow fights in our underwear. Of course.

It has been brought to my attention that I should have noted that the main reason I am not interested in boys running around my beach house is because I am deliriously happy in a marvelous relationship. My apologies to all concerned. I was trying to speak collectively of the group.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Salon nails a story for the times: Even worse than unemployment: The job interview. You must read this. It starts:
For months you researched the classifieds. ("Wanted: poofreader, mst Be xclnt with grammer!!!")

You networked with everyone from unhelpful relatives ("Well, have you tried looking in the classifieds?") to telemarketers. ("No really, thank you. By the way, if you're hiring, I too have experience in marketing motivational tapes to house pets.")

You wrote tons of cover letters. ("It is my ardent desire to support SIK Co.'s mission to boost profits to two guys on a golf course in Boca Raton through increased rejection of medical insurance claims.")

You maxed out your credit cards to invest in photocopying, postage, career counseling, résumé evaluation, and -- even though you are living on Top Ramen and tap water -- a "dress for success" makeover that screams, "I am a Republican congressional candidate from the year 1986."

And now, success! You've landed a job interview. It's time to develop a winning strategy. The prize? Confinement in a tiny, windowless cubicle and prolonged exposure to people even more neurotic than you.

This is actually as far as I've read, but I already know that this writer--this Joyce McGreevy, god-love-her, feels my pain. I mean feels it. And Kriston's pain, and the pain of all my over-educated, under-employed compatriots. And for all those of you still in school, thinking (yes, i can still hear your thoughts through the sand in which your head is stuck) "It won't happen to me!" or "I got good grades" or "But I was in Plan II" or "the economy [ha!] will be better by then", in fact any of you thinking anything other than "my trust fund will see me through" or "daddy's promised a plum position at the bank," you all best read on. And take notes.


Jesus Christ. I just read over that and it seems my schadenfreude was flaring up again. I've got a cream for it, don't worry. All is well. You'll all get lovely jobs and meet the man/woman of your dreams, and buy low and sell high. Mazeltov.
Basketball Diaries

Welcome back to your spot for insightful post-game analysis in the 2003 NBA playoff series. Since last night's game was the first I've watched all year, I feel that I bring a fresh, unbiased viewpoint to the table. Now. On to My Thoughts:

--Mattie is peeved that the Mavs basically won due to their free throw shooting since they were pretty weak from the floor. The paint. I agree that it would be frustrating, but when you're playing a team with the top FT percentage in the NBA, you can't give them that chance. Yes, the refs were calling the game tight, but the Spurs should have picked up on that in the first quarter and adjusted accordingly. How do you continue to play aggressively and not foul a lot? I have no idea. Like I said, this is the first game I watched all season, and I actually caught myself yelling "C'mon Texas" throughout the game. Specify, Sue, specify!

--It is hard to feel good about a Mavs victory when that poor Tim Duncan looks so sad! He gets this look on his face like you just broke up with him while he's holding a bouquet of flowers behind his back. You feel like you're kicking a puppy dog. I caught myself cheering, and then I'd see his sad wittle face and feel like giving him a hug.

--The Spurs seem like a classy team. After the first quarter they were talking to that B guy who was being hacked and sent to the FT line. He wasn't being snide about the Mav's unattractive tactic, he just said something like "They're doing the right thing. My stats are bad for free throws." And when the reporter asked him why he was leading the NBA in 3-pointers but couldn't hit it an uncontested 15-footer, he just said "If I knew the answer to that, maybe i wouldn't shoot so bad." Awwwww! Hugs, hugs. For all those guys.

--The Mavs all seem like nice guys too.

--How *old* is David Robinson by now? He still plays? Shouldn't he be golfing or something?

This has been post-game analysis by SueandNotU.

Final thoughts:
I was watching a CNN interview with the first female Supreme Court Justice, you-know-who, and they hadn't flashed her name across the screen yet. I was wracking my brain trying to remember her name as it had slipped my mind. I was mumbling "Rehnquist, Scalia, and the swing vote of -------" uh, I knew it was three names, and all I could come up with was Supreme Court Justice Sarah Jessica Parker. Can you imagine? Sex in the 5th Circuit? Dolce & Gabbana robes? Cosmos during oral argument? Pathetic. Finally they flashed her name across the bottom and I felt mildly stupid, but really, Sandra Day O'Connor is pretty similar-sounding.

I think I have single-handedly set feminism back 25 years with this ridiculous post of mine. So I'll redirect you now. Go see Kriston and give him some love. He's feeling bad.

Friday, May 16, 2003

From Andrew Sullivan today:

BLAIR'S AMEX: Two days after he quit the New York Times, Jayson Blair, whose credit cards were all maxed out and who used national editor Jim Roberts' card for expenses, somehow paid off a $3853 American Express bill. Whence the sudden infusion of money?

Or more importantly: Who gives a rat's ass?
It is true that this whole Jayson Blair story has utterly, miserably failed to capture my interest other than the fleeting, "Huh. What do you know. That guy really screwed up." I understand why some people might be interested in exposing/denying hypocrisy or discrimination or SOMETHING juicy at the NYT, but I'm emphatically not one of them. And I'm emphatically-times-ten not interested in how or why this loser pays of his credit card bill. I want to shake Andrew Sullivan and anyone else interested in this story by their lapels and demand: "Do you really care how he paid of his American Express? I mean really??? And if so, why don't you give your head a good shake, knock loose some of the crap, and go read a book. Take a walk. Listen to some music. See a play. Do something with your brief, precious time on this earth more rewarding than wondering HOW SOME GUY YOU DON'T KNOW PAID OFF HIS CREDIT CARD BILL lest you find yourself, god forbid, on some hospital bed wondering why you wasted your life."

I don't want to have to say this again.
[absence of] Thought for the Day

Recent selections from my GWB quote calendar:

"There is madmen in the world, and there are terror." --2/14/00; reported by the AP

Reporter: A question for both of you. There's been a lot said about how different you are as people. Have you already, in your talks, found something maybe that you--some personal interests that you have in common, maybe in religion or sport or music?
Bush: We both use Colgate toothpaste
--2/21/01; from a joint press conference at Camp David with Tony Blair
The NYT has an article today entitled "Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights." Ignoring, for the moment, the snide reference to Bush's "keepers," this article touches on something that annoys me and countless others about our Fearless Leader; namely, that it all seems like a trick with smoke and mirrors.

Now, I'm well aware that any president's aides have to concern themselves with minute aspects of his image. What tie to wear, what setting for a given speech, etc. That's pretty standard in the era of television. But even before the fighter-pilot stunt on the carrier, you got the feeling that his appearances had become stunts. Here are some examples:
On Tuesday, at a speech promoting his economic plan in Indianapolis, White House aides went so far as to ask people in the crowd behind Mr. Bush to take off their ties, WISH-TV in Indianapolis reported, so they would look more like the ordinary folk the president said would benefit from his tax cut.
The White House efforts have been ambitious — and costly. For the prime-time television address that Mr. Bush delivered to the nation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the White House rented three barges of giant Musco lights, the kind used to illuminate sports stadiums and rock concerts, sent them across New York Harbor, tethered them in the water around the base of the Statue of Liberty and then blasted them upward to illuminate all 305 feet of America's symbol of freedom. It was the ultimate patriotic backdrop for Mr. Bush, who spoke from Ellis Island.

For a speech that Mr. Bush delivered last summer at Mount Rushmore, the White House positioned the best platform for television crews off to one side, not head on as other White Houses have done, so that the cameras caught Mr. Bush in profile, his face perfectly aligned with the four presidents carved in stone.

And on Monday, for remarks the president made promoting his tax cut plan near Albuquerque, the White House unfurled a backdrop that proclaimed its message of the day, "Helping Small Business," over and over. The type was too small to be read by most in the audience, but just the right size for television viewers at home.

Or how about this zinger:
But even this White House makes mistakes. One of the more notable ones occurred in January, when Mr. Bush delivered a speech about his economic plan at a St. Louis trucking company. Volunteers for the White House covered "Made in China" stamps with white stickers on boxes arrayed on either side of the president. Behind Mr. Bush was a printed backdrop of faux boxes that read "Made in U.S.A.," the message the administration wanted to convey to the television audience.

I'm showing my naivete to be shocked by all this, but it smacks of a crass manipulation unrivaled by even Clinton's stunts from the past. Clinton, however, was lauded for his natural speaking ability, charisma, and poise. I imagine his aides didn't need to resort to these extreme manipulative tactics quite so often. The more Bush's aides have to scurry to cover him up, use lighting and props and stagecraft to make him look like a leader, the more they emphasize his natural failings in all these regards.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

A thought

Perhaps, if we followed England's lead, and put pictures of hot, young, privileged men on our postage stamps, people wouldn't complain when the price kept increasing. I'm just saying...if you're going to jerk me around over the price of a stamp, at least give me something pleasant to...lick?
Get Your War On presents: The Bill Bennet Edition:

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Hail to tha Thief

Via Pitchfork, Radiohead announces the track listing for the new album, and releases the cover art. All tracks will have two titles, for some reason:
Hail To The Thief/The Gloaming:
01 2+2=5/The Lukewarm
02 Sit Down Stand Up/Snakes & Ladders
03 Sail To The Moon/Brush the Cobwebs Out Of The Sky
04 Backdrifts/Honeymoon Is Over
05 Go To Sleep/Little Man Being Erased
06 Where I End And You Begin/The Sky Falling In
07 We Suck Young Blood/Your Time Is Up
08 The Gloaming/Softly Open our Mouths In The Cold
09 There There/The Boney King of Nowhere
10 I Will/No Man's Land
11 A Punch Up At A Wedding/No No No No No No No No
12 Myxamatosis/Judge, Jury & Executioner
13 Scatterbrain/As Dead As Leaves
14 A Wolf At The Door/It Girl. Rag Doll

And the cover art:
[let's hope it sticks this time...]
This Year's Nobel Prize is brought to you by Halliburton

It's sad when you get breaking news from The Onion, but apparently, Bush and Tony Blair were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. Not a typo. I swear. At a staggering loss for words, I defer to The Onion's sage "What do You Think?":

"Man, this must've been a pretty shitty year for peacemakers."

"Well, they did go to war when the entire rest of the world was opposed, so I suppose they deserve it. Wait, that came out wrong."

"Nominated by the grateful Iraqi people, no doubt."

"If they win, they would join the esteemed ranks of Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat."

"What, were the Powerpuff Girls too fictional or something?"

"It's about time. I'm sick of them always giving the Peace Prize to all those fucking pacifists."
How low can you go?

Or: Sue in Limbo

Apologizes (to the .5 of you who care) for my recent negligence of SueandnotU. All my thoughts of late have been shamefully self-absorbed and I made an executive editorial position to spare you all. I was going to quote some miserable Hamlet, and lead off with "I have of late/ but wherefore I know not/ lost all my mirth" but I seemed to have found my mirth at the bottom of a couple glasses of mojitos last night, so that would be just a tad melodramatic. It's just that after savoring the promise of finally knowing my Fulbright Scholarship results, once and for all, for better or for worse, I was named an ALTERNATE. Worst of all worlds! Don't even know where the smart money lays its bets on this one. So bombs are exploding in Riyadh, legislators are on the run from the Texas militia (somebody *please* rewrite "Pancho and Lefty"), mass graves are showing their gruesome faces to the world, and I'm reduced to sitting in my cubicle whining and whining and whining. I have become tenfold more annoying than my wedding-planning office mate and her cornucopia of honeymoon brochures. In fact, if I were all of you, I wouldn't return to this blog until, well, late June or so. Meanwhile, I'm going to learn how to put up a Paypal account on my site so I can accept donations that will be put toward a worthy cause: therapy sessions.

Better yet, I'll funnel my excess frustrations into a new segment entitled "Wha' Happened?" It will feature little tidbits of life that you didn't know, and wish you had gone on not knowing. But misery loves company, so I'm sharing:

Wha' Happened?
It's not uncommon knowledge that Capitol Hill staffers of all ranks enjoy "gifts" from lobbyists ranging from concert tickets and fancy dinners to box seats at sporting events. But sometimes it goes even farther. My unnamed source was at a political function when one of the guests became a bit sloshy and let loose a story he probably wished he hadn't. Turns out he and some of his co-workers (senior staff for a congressperson) were enjoying a night on the town courtesy of some lobbyists. Coming out of a bar, one of the lobbyists pointed at a plain building and informed the others that the unassuming establishment was actually a brothel. "Really?" "Yes, really." The lobbyists then ushered the gents inside and, yes, had them entertained. That's right, boys and girls, on a very special episode of Schoolhouse Rock: this his how democracy works! Somebody writes a bill, sends it to the House of Representatives, a lobbyist BUYS WHORES for the swing vote senator's staffers, and POOF! Suddenly AT&T has been declared Speaker of the House! Call me crazy, but I'm going to file this under thing #23432 that wouldn't happen if women were in charge. Can you even imagine some gals on the town and one of them proposes "I know! Let's all find a bunch of man-whores and do it! Yaaay!" Not bloody likely.

To all you recent graduates out there, welcome to my hell! BWAHAHA! New York Times reporting on the Worst Hiring Slump in 20 Years.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Texas, Texas YEE-HA!

Fire up your margarita machines, pull out your swimmin' trunks, and haul out the welcome wagon: SueandnotU is on vacay in Austin until further notice. I will not be posting, as I assume nobody's really interested in reading variations on:


See ya next week, faithful readers.
This Salon article chronicles a pretty remarkable event that won't get a lot of press. I would have done anything to be in Baghdad for this (and to understand the language, I guess.) In the ruins of Baghdad's most famous theater--considered a national treasure--a group of dissident artists staged the first uncensored play performed in Iraq in decades. Performing on top of the ruins--surely a dramatic and poignant setting--the actors enacted this impressionistic, avant-garde production:

When the lights came up onstage, what unfolded was not a simple story. It was a furious burst of moments. A Painter painted on a canvas and a Sculptor sculpted. A Poet played a guitar and a pair of Dancers danced on a scaffold. A Filmmaker crouched in the coils of a print that had been destroyed in the looting of the theater. The Artists worked away in the background while a Dictator castigated a Soldier to help him conquer the moon. The Soldier's Wife bathed her husband with water as he ran through the motions of a war, and said he refused to leave his post but that he was sick of all the "Yes, sir. Yes, sir." Before the soldier died trying to execute the Dictator's wish, he asked over and over again: "Just tell me where I can find a human being."

The Dictator announced: "It's so easy for me to kill because it's so difficult for me to die. I will kill you all to save my life." A character stood at the lip of the stage and yelled, "My freedom is not the real freedom! My freedom is not the real freedom! My freedom is not the real freedom," and the audience exploded into applause. The Poet shouted, "Between any two of us there is a nation of loneliness full of forsaken people." The Dictator pointed to the audience and said: "You are also guilty!" The Poet performed a cover of "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles. The entire cast came to center stage, and kept shouting in a chorus, "War? War? What is War?" and this was answered by a blast of applause that burst like firecrackers. Iraqis in the theater wept. One man, an Iraqi poet, was so overcome he had to leave; he buried his head in his hands outside the smashed doors of the theater. After the Beatles cover, a Singer walked into the stage and sang the Ouboudiyya, a traditional song of Iraq, and it was mournful and exquisite in its sadness. Lennon would have loved it.

As much as I hate to quote a musical at this point, I can't avoid thinking of a line from Jonathan Larsen's "Rent": "The opposite of war isn't peace--it's creation." I have boundless admiration for these artists whose first reaction when the clamor of war settles is to create a response that is timely, cathartic, profound, and most importantly, communal. May there be much, much more where this came from. The article closes with this:

Before we left, I had a last question: Why had the Dictator tried to conquer the moon? "The moon is the symbol of death and the Dictator was trying his best to seize the symbol for himself," the painter, Durgham Abdul-Wahid, answered quietly. "But he could not succeed. He could only succeed in leaving his fingerprints on our memory."
Talkin' 'bout my de-generation...

Pete Townshend cleared of kiddie-porn charges'

Now he ought to give legal counsel to Jacko.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Bored at Work?

The perfect solution: play
20 Questions against a computer!
Hungover, red-eyed, dog-tired, satisfied

We've all been there with the beastly mornings post-binge, but none of us quite so often or so heroically as Kingsley Amis, British novelist and father of Martin. With all the practice he's had, it's no wonder he's able to pen one of the best descriptions of a hangover I've read [from Lucky Jim]:
Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as loking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.

Epochal moments ain't what they used to be.

Via CalPundit, NYT writer Chris Marcil reminisces on V-I Day:

I'll always remember where I must have been when I heard the news on the radio — the announcement that President Bush would, later, announce that the war in Iraq was just short of the technical legal definition of victory. I must have been near Jonathan's office — I was at work, and Jonathan's assistant listens to NPR for some reason. "This changes everything," I think I said. "Stupid pledge drive," replied Jonathan's assistant.
More Hitchy ass-kissing

So, assuming Hitchens is done being insane about Iraq, I'm going to go ahead and resume kissing his ass. Hope I haven't jumped the gun.

Anyway, there was a fine article in the recent Harpers by Cristina Nehring discussing the state of the essay as literary form and the essayist as writer of ideas. I thought it was a great article bemoaning the current crop of essayists. The Thoreaus, Emersons, etc., of the past were essayists with a bite, Nehring argues. When they related the trivia of daily life, it was to use as a wedge to get at something broader and more universal about the human experience. Perhaps they missed the mark at times, perhaps they overgeneralized, but they weren't afraid to make these generalizations or to muse on what it is to be human. In contrast, Nehring sees the modern essayist as a writer who seems ashamed of his craft. He [pardon the gender specific pronoun, I mean it universally] now writes almost entirely of trivia with no broader meaning: idyllic coming-of-age in the country seems to rule the day, as do pointless offerings such as "I prefer feather beds" and so on.

Essayists in their own words often view their work as inferior to the poets and novelists, but Nehring cites several moving examples of essay-writing that are virtually peerless in capturing their subject. (wouldn't this post be better if I had the article in front of me?) In the politically correct climate of the times, Nehring muses that essayists fear to make the broad, cutting pronouncements that defined our prized essayists of the past. Is it not true, she asks, that there are aspects of human existence that transcend ethnic/gender/national boundaries that are still worth exploring? Surely there is still something unifying and human about us all that we should not fear to probe. She offers a few modern essayists who remain unafraid of opinions and generalizations, and among them, she cites Christopher Hitchens. Now, it's no difficult task to come up with an opinionated Hitchens quote, having just run across this bit, I'll offer this from "Letters to a Young Contrarian":
"In some ways I feel sorry for the racists and religious fanatics, because they so much miss the point of being human, and deserve a sort of pity. But then I harden my heart, and decide to hate them all the more, because of the misery they inflict and because of the contemptible excuses they advance for doing so."

Now, you may not agree, but isn't it refreshing to have something concrete to agree or disagree with, rather than mealy mouthed statements so diluted as to not offend any party? Why, you may ask, is this refreshing, when Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and their equally opinionated ilk are so contemptible? Well that's easy. Challenge the Hitch on any statement and he'll come back at you with mountains of research, facts, supporting opinions, and apt comparisons. He'll offer intellectual and moral honesty as well as clarity. Those others of course, obfuscate rather than clarify, twist facts rather than straighten them out, and avoid truth and evidence like leprosy.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Mo' shizzle

When I put my own site through the Shizzolater, I find that this post becomes pretty funny. It was the quote from the Scottish lead singer of the Delgados, reminiscing about his D.C. show:

Got da show at da Black Cat, a club owned incidentally, by MistaDave Grohl, know what I'm sayin'? Speaking of MistaGrohl, I has be like how much I’m totally loving da new Queens Of The Stone Age album n' shit. I’ve gots a fucking bomb diggity story 'bout da QOTSA by da way…apparently they wuz touring wit And Yo' ass Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead 'n two shows into da tour, AYWKUBTTOD had been smashing up they gear (as per normal) after every show but had been hitting da QOTSA’s gear while they wuz at that shiznit, know what I'm sayin'?

I is a poet

Sueandnotu, run through a Random Poetry generator:

greasy palms together
and political revolutions were
finally heard, and I mean, really! seen pictures
of Long as in the officer
corps, if one of a talk about a
great story
but despite having applied for a
young woman
named James Frey
tired of the raving loony
howling torrent
of bitching and
if your MetroCard
turns out
Santorum: that he writes
as one might
mention something that, if you are
talking rule in which no
posted by a differenceThis is
Mine!Karma has order, kept by
an amusing story
about the student union.

Better still, I give you The Grammar Police, sent through The Shizzolater:

And Then There Was X2

Frankly, da movie owned." Pure 'n simple, know what I'm sayin'? I'll go on record as saying that I winced through da original ("What happens when a toad gets struck by lightning?" Worse than any line from a Star Trek movie) n' shit. Kevin has that shiznit right when tha dude be like that X2 made X-Fools look like a made-fo'-Televizzle movie."

After seeing da movie, which owned, we talked a bit 'bout da comic-book movie bubble n' shit. It's hard be like if that shiznit's really at its zenith right now: X2 will pull in Ft n' shit. Knox at da theatres, 'n 'bout as much in Porno Disc sales; Spider-Man 2 will probably top X2, 'n then yo' ass can expect another sequel fo' each after that n' shit.
Death of the Ciggie

Having done his work for oppressed Iraqi Kurds, Christopher Hitchens is now free to turn his Bono/Messiah complex to those huddling masses that really need his help: the downtrodden smokers of New York City. Now this is the Hitch we knew. Hard drinking, hard smoking, no apologies. I remember when I went to see him at a talk here in DC. I hadn't really seen pictures of him before, and I was caugh off guard by the characteristic blood-shot eyes, the mussed hair, the slovenly dress. Like my old boss during my bartending days at the Cactus, he was one of those who probably looked and acted drunk even while sober. He gave his spiel, he took questions from the audience, and when he grew tired of the performance, he took the cigarette that had nestled behind his ear and stuck it underneath his drooping upper lip while he answered the final question and the rest of us got the point. Book signings took place outside so he could puff freely. So it's only natural that he finally steps up to bemoan the new smoking ordinances in New York City and those that will begin next year over all of Ireland. No more will we have the days of yore, as when he first visited the "Pearl Bar next to the offices of the Irish Independent" and there was
a fine competition between the leathery lungs and the heroic liver, a joust of organs in which no faintheart would dare compete.

The article isn't a tirade so much as a fond farewell to the smoking culture:
So farewell then, Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table. Farewell to the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Centre. Farewell to the Stork Club and to Damon Runyon and to Guys And Dolls.

Farewell to the Apollo Theatre and the Harlem Renaissance, and to all the blues joint and speakeasies.

Farewell to Mulligan's Shamrock Lounge and to the cafes of Little Italy and indeed the back-rooms of Chinatown.

Farewell, if it comes to that, to the bars and bookstore coffeeshops and hangouts of the Village, where so many failed cultural and political revolutions were plotted.

I don't even smoke and I'm ready to light one up for the resistance.

Austin, 5/10

Anybody want to go tubing on Saturday?
What a difference

This is mostly for Kriston's amusement, but, via Andrew Sullivan, some notes on the differences between religious discourse in public life in Britain and the U.S.
Sully writes:

At the Dems' debate, there was an interchange of quotes from the Bible - Lieberman and Sharpton swapping chapters and verses. In most other countries, this kind of public theologizing would be unimaginable. "We don't do God here," remarked Tony Blair's media adviser in the middle of an interview of Blair by Vanity Fair's David Margolick. According to a story in the Times of London, Blair was even barred from ending one of his addresses to the nation during the war with "God bless you:"
While having make-up applied for his screen appearance on the eve of hostilities in Iraq, the Prime Minister reportedly told his staff: "I want to end with, 'God bless you'." At this point, according to The Times article, there was "a noisy team revolt in which every player appears to be complaining at once". Staff said that this was "not a good idea", to which an irritated Mr Blair - raising his voice - responded: "Oh no?" One unidentified member of the Blair team reportedly replied: "You are talking to lots of people who don't want chaplains pushing stuff down their throats." When the Prime Minister responded by saying: "You are the most ungodly lot I have ever . . .", his speechwriter Peter Hyman, who is Jewish, replied tartly: "Ungodly? Count me out."
I have not seen X-Men 2 yet, but I anticipate that I will be, ahem, encouraged to see it during my upcoming trip to Austin. Most of the word-of-mouth reviews have been very positive, but at least one Salon columnist thinks it doesn't quite hold up to the original:

"X-Men" was undoubtedly the most elegiac comic-book adaptation of the past few years. When the characters spoke to each other -- or, better yet, touched each other, as in the scenes between the thinking-girl's redneck Wolverine and Rogue, with her lethal fingertips -- the connections between them often shivered with lyricism. As anyone who loves comic books will tell you, there's poetry in them, but you don't always find it in the words you read panel by panel, which can often seem clumsy and stiff. The lyricism of comic books is something that emerges only after you give yourself over to it, opening yourself to the overarching mood and delicate subtones that emerge page by page (it's not unlike the pleasure we get from moviegoing).

Seeing as how I am far, far, far from "giving myself over" to the "lyricism" of "comic" books, I don't think this disparity will be a problem for me in my X2 viewing pleasure. Usually when I get the impression that critics are thinking too deeply about comic book movies (or fantasy, or sci-fi), it has more to do with their obsessions over minutiae. Like, that one guy's fins aren't supposed to come from his elbows, they're supposed to come three inches above, or some trivial crap like that. I never thought I'd catch a reviewer bemoaning the lack of elegiac, poetic beauty, in say, Star Trek XXVII. weird. But you can definitely tell that this reviewer is a fan, and fellas, did I mention she's a lady?

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Northwestern Students Against Bar

When I was a freshman at Northwestern, there was a great deal of bitching and moaning (sometimes coming from someone other than me) about the lack of a nightlife in Evanston. You could hear a pin drop in the town post-8pm, and nobody ever wanted to take the short el ride to Chicago. Strict laws in Evanston forbade establishments such as pool halls, or 24-hr dining establishments from setting up shop. Some folks publicly called for beer to be served in the student union. This was laughable to me, as beer was hardly served in the town. However, today I was looking for some Northwestern-bashing fodder (didn't have to go far), and I found in
this editorial that students' demands were finally heard, and a bar is slated to open up in the dismally depressing structure that passes for a student union. Problem? The students are against it. They complain that it's a stupid idea, because anybody who wants to drink can just go into Chicago or another Evanston venue. I think about my bartending days at the ol' Cactus and this reasoning boggles my mind. Don't they *see*? You can drink during the day! You can meet professors there for a beer! You can have a shot to calm your nerves before a presentation! You can have live music play in the evenings and have a drink while watching! Bar=good, in almost any conceivable formulation! What's so hard about that one? These fancy private school kids with their book-learnin'....