Friday, September 26, 2003

Taking the plunge

Holy moly! Look out Sports Illustrated! There's a new swimsuit issue in town. Or Gen. Clark just got the campaign poster he needs to win the gay vote.

[Warning. You may want to stop watching after the first picture fades away. It gets ugly.]
And suddenly, Andrew Sullivan kinda sorta likes Wesley Clark. But not like likes. Apparent Gen. Clark's performance at the debate impressed Sullivan immensely, which is curious to me. I was satisfied with Clark's performance--he was popping his political cherry, after all--but it wasn't the performance of a man who will win the nomination. He's still cautious, still trying to get his sea-legs, and still vague. I'm not too concerned--he still has a lot of policy to hammer out, and he'll get more comfortable with the game as time goes on. As Dean put it after the debate, Clark's job was to not make any mistakes, and he did that fine.

But after days of unrelenting tirades against the General, I just thought it would take more than that disarming smile and a flash of those dreamy eyes to turn Andrew Sullivan around. Sullivan claims that his second thoughts are a result of Clark's positions on yadda yadda blah-de-blah blah, but we all know better. You're just one of the gals, Andy.
Check out the University of Minnesota's great collection of early American social hygiene posters. Most entertaining are the WWII-era warnings against the dangers of prostitution, most all of which feature our good, strong boys at the mercy of the malevolent seductress.

The NY Press has a good "Best of" list that includes:

Best Classroom Experience:
Methods of Expository Writing and Styles of Cultural Criticism
Co-Taught by Christopher Hitchens
[yes, he is actually a professor at New York's New School]

Apparently the course is a seminar rather than a lecture. As we all know, this means that students are expected to, lord-save-us, participate in a discussion moderated by The Hitch. The Press has a convincing scenario in mind:
Imagine the poor little Sylvia Plath-quoting girl who signs up because it both fits a core requirement and looks like fun. She doesn’t know from Hitchens, she’s never heard of the Nation, neither knows nor cares about his political trajectory. One day, she lets slip that she thinks war is bad for children and other living things.

Seconds later, she’s rushing from the room in tears after Hitchens announces that her "semi-coherent ad hominem attack on my argument is an admission that you would rather not engage with my arguments and would rather suck off academia’s tit!" Et cetera, et cetera.

Plus! In a surprise victory from behind, Ann Coulter wins "Best Ignorant Banshee of a Pundit"

Quote of the Day

Sometimes it's refreshing to hear the truth:
"Every now and then I will catch myself and look around and just smile. Anyone who says it's a burden having this much money is a moron" - Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in Ramp magazine.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Andrew Sullivan's latest whine about Clark, under the heading "Worse than Clinton?
"Relentlessness is Clark's greatest virtue, also his greatest flaw. Speaking to a NEWSWEEK reporter on the night he announced his candidacy, Clark did not want to let go until he was sure the reporter understood him — not just understood him, but respected him, believed him, appreciated him, liked him. Clark quivered with a desire to please. He tapped his feet, jiggled his knee, leaned forward, his bright eyes searching imploringly. "Am I being too theoretical?" he asked. "I want to make sure I answer all your questions," he insisted, two hours into an interview into which he had touched on Plato, the higher calling of the soldier-statesman, the art of persistent diplomacy and, in Clark's view, the many failings of the Bush presidency."

Wow, a candidate that can engage a reporter for two hours, citing philosophy, history, and sociology? A feat that betrays an inquisitive nature and a thoughtful intellect? Goddammit, didn't we get rid of that crap when Clinton left office? What a miserable candidate! Bring me your dense, your incurious, your rhetorically challenged! (If you missed the editorial in today's NYT on Bush's insulated mind, you have to read it.)

Does this seem like a strange criticism coming from an Oxford man?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

I don't even know where to go with this one

From the Washington Post:
Under new rules being drafted by the Vatican to crack down on "abuses" in the Roman Catholic Mass, altar boys will be given preference over altar girls

Good job, Pope JP. Get rid of the 10-year-old girls. That oughta take care of everything.
I'm glad there are people to handle this for me

Charles Taylor in Salon on William Safire's insane conspiracy theory editorial on Gen. Clark:
The difference between William Safire and the average crazy old coot to be found in any New York City diner explaining to anyone who listens that the aliens have taken over is that Safire gets paid for his ramblings and has a better tailor.
No he didn't!

Yes he did. A U.S. District Court judgeruled that the FTC overstepped its bounds in enacting the National Do-Not-Call Registry that was set to begin next week. This will of course be appealed. The Registry to date contains more than 50 million numbers at this point. If this ruling isn't overturned, those will be 50 million seriously irate citizens. And as much as I would hate getting more solicitations, I know that the real losers would be those poor souls making the calls. Because you know, not all 50 million Americans are tuned into this wrenching drama. Imagine, two months from now, if the Registry is struck down:

ring ring
Joe: Hello?
Telemarketer: Hello Mr. or Mrs. Jones! I am calling from Asshat Insurance, and I
Joe: woah woah woah. You can't call me, I'm on that list!
Telemarketer: Actually, Mr. Jones, the Do-Not-Call Registry was invalidated by a U.S. District Court decision in September. Now, as I was saying--
Joe: MOTHER$@#$R! CALL THIS, YOU G!@#$MN PIECE OF !@#$-@#$

On the other hand, as the most popular government initiative EVER is undermined, and as citizens are reminded of this fact every evening at about 6pm, we can only hope that they'll continue their habit of false attribution of guilt (Saddam and al Quaeda anyone?) and blame it all on Bush.
Polite company

I was proud of deputy assistant secretary of state Steven Pifer when I read that he challenged President Putin on "deplorable violations of human rights" in Chechnya. This is a sticky issue that fell by the wayside when American courted Russian support in the lead-up to the war in Afghanistan. But Putin likes his yes-men, and doesn't take no guff from no-men with deputy-assistant-anything in their titles.
"I wouldn't like to comment on mid-level State Department officials," Putin sniffed. "I'll let Colin [Powell] deal with him," said Putin, a former KGB thug and now champion of democracy. "He's a pro and a very decent man. . . . But we have a proverb in Russia -- in every family there will be somebody who is ugly or retarded."

Pifer reportedly "declined to comment," but we imagine it would have been along the lines of "Am not!!!!!! U are the retard!!!!!"

In other news, Russia discovers Flash Mobs, takes them waaay too seriously.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Was it something he said?

Andrew Sullivan on Wesley Clark:

HOW LOOPY IS CLARK? The answer, I fear, is that he's Ross Perot without the emotional stability.
Still, he's strong in the polls, whatever that means at this point, even to the point of besting Bush. If a wacky, unknown, fill-in-the-blanks general is running ahead of the president, you get a pretty good idea of how adrift the White House's political operation now is.
STILL IN THE BALKANS [aka, Clark's war] Geez, do we have an exit strategy yet? Four years later - four years later, president Clinton is telling the world we'll stay there as long as it take to finish the job.
To my mind, the most important thing about Clark is that he was a Rhodes Scholar. Almost to a man and woman, they are mega-losers, curriculum-vitae fetishists, with huge ambition and no concept of what to do with it.
More pathetic, however, is the notion that the Dems really did think of this guy as their savior. Are they that weak on national security issues that a general - even as hapless as this one - is their only chance? What does that say about their own self-image?

Good God, whence this animosity? Isn't it fun to watch Mr. Sullivan paint our Rhodes Scholar, 4-star General, West Point valedictorian as the loopy, hapless, wacky one? I'm always amazed at the contortions Andy is able to bend his mind into when he wants to. Hell, he's a homosexual member of a party that hates homosexuals; he uses his devotion to true conservative values (fiscal responsibility, small government) as a rationalization for his allegiance to administration that eschews them; now he follows a few months of war-love (publishing anonymous letters from soldiers in the field with rapturous commentary) by trashing a brave public servant in favor of everybody's favorite draft-dodger.

And not surprisingly, he's talking out of his ass most of the time.

I won't even touch the suggestion that a Rhodes Scholarship is a bigger liability than flopping your way through college on a legacy admission, nor will I bother with the ridiculous personal slurs that will sadly be appearing all the more frequently, but I do want to touch that Kosovo issue.

Sullivan notes correctly above that we still have a troop presence in the Balkans, years after the bombing mission was completed. By his snarky tone, we know that he means to compare the ongoing peacekeeping mission overseas with the current occupation of Iraq. Why is nobody harping about our nefarious occupation of Kosovo?? Hmmm?? Bush-Hating liberals, of course!


If you actually look at some numbers, you'll see that we currently have between 2,200 and 2,500 troops in Kosovo, down from 4,350 troops a year ago, when the U.S. forces were already only 15% of the total peacekeeping force. There are over 30 countries participating in the operation, the U.S. suffered a grand total of zero combat deaths, and the peacekeepers are actually wildly popular in Kosovo. (You can find a gigantic mural of Bill Clinton in Pristina, my sources tell me.) This compares to Iraq insofar as they both involve guns.

I hope people do keep bringing up Kosovo, because I've heard Clark convincingly defend it as exactly the model for modern warfare. Sullivan fears that if we'd had to get an international consensus on every bombing target in Afghanistan, nothing would have been accomplished. But he ought to recall that Belgrade was effectively leveled, so with goodwill amongst nations, there are no limits to the number of cities we can destroy. Sleep easy, Sully.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Color me bored

I am utterly unimpressed with this hurricane business. I was all set to be awed by the wonder and fury of nature. Puh-lease. I've taken fiercer showers. Yes, yes, there are quite a few leaves on the ground, but that isn't exactly the kind of aftermath that makes you realize what's truly important in your precious, precious life. I'm not listening to any more Floridians whine about hurricanes. You heard it here first, it's all a big, fat LIE.

[The power did flicker briefly, striking terror into our hearts that we mightn't see how things turn out for plucky Bridget Jones...]

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Please continue to excuse my delinquency with regard to SueAndNotU. I have to maintain the veneer of productivity at work for at least a good week or two.

Thank you for your patience.

In the meantime, items of interest:

1) It's the big day! General Clark unleashes himself upon the world; look upon his works, ye mighty, and tremble.

2) Blogging may be further interrupted if I am swallowed by Isabel on the morrow. I bought bottled water, and maybe we can finally use all that Code Orange duct tape for something useful.

2.1) Okay, Isabel is totally going to be a pussy hurricane by landfall. I've just never been in a hurricane's path before and I like to exaggerate my personal danger to antagonize my Mother.

3) I was scoffing at a dumb Republican girl acquaintance who named her car "George" in honor of the president, when I remembered that I named my car "The General" in honor of you-know-who. Felt quite lame. But, if ignominy follows the primaries, I can always say it's named after Patton. Or....MacArthur. Don't know a lot of generals, me.

4) My new job is scrumtrilescent.

5) I don't care what anybody says. Metamucil snack bars are totally yum.

That's it for tonight. I promise future posts soon, and if they reflect my life at all, they will be about Charlottesville, Rufus Wainright, Elia Kazan, and Ukrainian election code. And Bennifer, should the situation warrant.

Friday, September 12, 2003

My office, 12:30pm

Secretary: You hear about John Ritter?

Receptionist: No, who's John Ritter?

Secretary: You know, that Three's Company guy?

Receptionist: Oh yeah. What about him?

Secretary: He died last night!

Receptionist: [Gasp!] No! Oh no! Really???? Oh my!

I don't know which is worse: that she was rattled to the core by the death of a man she couldn't identify 10 seconds earlier, or that they completely missed the far more grievous loss of the Man in Black.
Sorry for the dearth of blogging lately. I've had lots of thoughts, but have been more or less satisfied to keep them in my head. This has been my last week of work, and although I thought I did nothing here, I managed to uncover a lot of things that need doing prior to my departure. I'll probably break my ban on weekend blogging and update soon.

So today is my last day at this godforsaken job, and my co-workers took me out on one of their patented 10-hr long happy hours last night, and I therefore wish that I was dead.

Boy oh boy.

In honor of my current condition, I am going to reprise something I posted a while back; namely, the best description of a hangover in the English language. From Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis:
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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Yesterday I thought I was being creative in comparing the current administration to the reign of Henry VI. Today, I see I was merely stating the obvious. In this article on the defeat of the Republican Alabama Governor's resolution to raise taxes, bush groupie Grover Norquist revels in this divine justice by saying:
"Every Republican governor who thinks of raising taxes next year will walk past Traitor's Gate and see [Alabama Governor] Bob Riley's head on a pike. The voters of Alabama have saved taxpayers from California to Maine billions of dollars."

This is the same guy, mind you, who said: ""I don't want to abolish government, I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."

Heads on pikes, gruesome watery deaths - is anyone else disturbed by the macabre imagery? Doesn't it seem a little, I don't know, flashy for tax policy talk? Do I detect the telling scent of over compensation? The guy is president of Americans for Tax Reform, for chrissake. He obviously had thwarted dreams of being a covert operative, or a medieval warlord, not an overly excitable accountant. What do you want to bet he drives a flashy sports car and has lifts in his shoes?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A right-on, strongly worded editorial in the Post today aptly captures the frustrations of D.C. residents.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved funding for a school voucher program in D.C. This is a radical experiment, whether you are for or against, and one in which D.C. had no say. Here's how the editorial begins:
ALTHOUGH D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and this editorial page are on opposite sides of the school voucher issue, we nonetheless think it is an outrage that she is unable to cast a vote on a matter of such critical importance to the District.

Outrage is right.
Last Friday Mrs. Norton offered a floor amendment to remove the funding from the bill for a pilot school voucher program in the District. It was the central issue of the morning, attracting more than 30 members to the intense discussion. Mrs. Norton's amendment failed by a 203 to 203 vote, and the voucher provision was adopted by a razor-thin, nearly party-line 205 to 203 vote. In both instances, Mrs. Norton, while the principal sponsor of the amendment to strike the voucher program and the lawmaker whose district is most directly affected by the measure under consideration, was not allowed to vote. As an example of the District's disenfranchisement, it can't get any worse than that.
To keep more than 500,000 D.C. citizens voteless in Congress while sending them to fight and die on foreign battlefields to extend that privilege to others is patently unfair and just plain wrong.

Right on, Washington Post. It's too bad that with the exception of one Republican in congress who recently drafted a proposal that would grant DC a voting delegate, nobody actually cares to do anything about it. And you can bet that if we had a say in our own government these retarded "taxi zones" would be gone in a New York minute.

History redux

I just finished reading a history on the War of the Roses, which if you've forgotten your 15th century English history lessons, was the struggle for the English throne between the houses of Lancaster and York, and later between York and Tudor. I thought it would be fascinating to learn about the intrigues, the deceptions, the incestuous marriages, and the power grabs that characterized those days of yore. More often than not, though, it read like a medieval version of any old congressional session, plus or minus a few beheadings with rusty swords and uncooperative magnates being drawn and quartered.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: the Lancastrian King's claim to the throne rests on questionable foundations, his grandfather having usurped the throne from the rightful line of kings. The populace doesn't really care because the office of king has such mystique that he is venerated without question, and his father was a powerful wartime king. But this king, Henry VI, is not a strong leader. He is not terribly bright, and clueless as to matters of the state, although he is renowned for his piety. Born-again, you might say. His decisions are largely made by his court, and those for their own benefit. Things start to crumble when crime escalates, the economy goes south, and the king only seems interested in rewarding his court with even greater tracts of land and wealth. And don't even get me started on Medicare.

Enter the Duke of York, descendant from the true line of Plantagenet kings and a war-hero to boot. (I put Wesley Clark here, but you can pick and choose. Don't think Nader works, though.) The country is being horribly mismanaged, attempts at reform are falling on deaf ears as the ruling class does not want to sacrifice any gains, and only drastic action will carry the day. York sweeps in (well, his son, as York Sr. was killed in battle and had his head displayed on a pike), deposes the usurper, and wins the day, to the adoring cheers of the people.

From here, things get complicated, with a couple more back-and-forths and the fickle populace cheering whoever has the crown on their head. But it's uncannily familiar, down to France being a major pain in the ass even back then.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Feminists v. Fashionistas

This article in today's NYT will do little to dispel the myth of the no-fun feminist. The writer, Catherine Orenstein, seems to have a bone to pick with "Sex and the City," but she can't quite get her own arguments straight.

The thesis is essentially that the supposedly liberated women of the show, and the show's feminist philosophy in general, are deeply flawed and limiting visions of femininity.
But under the guise of being salaciously liberating and radically feminist, the vision of modern femininity in "Sex and the City" is in fact surprisingly retrograde. The heroines spend most of their time on shopping, cocktails and one-night stands. Charlotte dreams of bridesmaids' dresses. Miranda frigidly "dates" her TiVo, while nymphomaniac Samantha — a blond bimbo who combines old-fashioned objectification with postmodern "do me" feminism — plows through the Kama Sutra. And in one episode Carrie discovers that she has only $957 in savings — but $40,000 in designer shoes in her closet.

Orenstein would be absolutely correct if, in fact, these women had no choice but to lead the hedonistic lifestyle. If they were barred from child-bearing and meaningful careers. But feminism is about the whole spectrum of choices, including the choice to lead a potentially self-destructive lifestyle. If they adopted this lifestyle voluntarily, what's retrograde? What's limiting? Sure, you may not consider it ideal, and the show does not promote it as such, but the makers of the show are not suggesting that this is How To Be a Woman. I never understood Sex and the City to be a contemporary stand-in for Gloria Steinem. Anytime a book or movie or TV show is produced that focuses primarily on women, it is evaluated in regard to its success as vehicle for feminism. And Sex and the City definitely contributes to that dialogue - sexual empowerment, freedom for women to make choices, and most importantly--and the point I think Ms. Orenstein misses--freedom to make harmful, bad, non-feminist choices. But it is not feminist screed, and thus won't toe the party line. It is HBO.

Everybody out there who wants to see the version of Sex and the City where Samantha judiciously selects suitors based on their ability to affirm her womanly ideals, where Charlotte sheds her endearing romantic visions, and Miranda is socially and emotionally well-adjusted and at peace with herself, raise your hand.


I must have missed the part where S&TC announced their discovery of the ideal lifestyle for women. They makers of the show are hardly making the argument that one-night stands and Manolo Blahniks are the only paths to womanhood. They simply give their viewers more credit than Orenstein does, and assumes we all know that the last 50 years did happen, and if Samantha wanted, she could be a successful PR exec. Oh wait. She is. Of course some of this behavior is self-destructive, of course there is a pay-off for the countless nights of cosmos and one-night stands. What kind of lifestyle choice doesn't have trade-offs? What kind of crap television show would ever parade a bunch of completely adjusted, confident women with no problems or inner conflicts? We would hate those girls. The impulses of these women, if not their lifestyles, are far more believable for their contradictions.

Then, Orenstein promotes as her ideal the "Mary Tyler Moore Show," where Mary played a single journalist in her 30s.
Sure, there were also jokes about her single status. And she and sidekick Rhoda were once so desperate for dates that they joined a club for divorcées even though neither of them had ever been married. But the jokes came with a light-hearted confidence in Mary's future. Whether or not she married, her theme song promised, she would "make it after all."

Reading that, I thought, "Well, what's the difference?" Except for the lurid sex-talk that obviously wasn't likely back in the MTM days, it sounds rather like a zany S&TC plot! But look closely at the last sentence. For some reason, Orenstein thanks that our fearless foursome in S&TC won't make it after all. Well, aside from the fact that such uncertainty might make for more interesting television, why does Orenstein seem so convinced of this? Read on for the "a-ha" moment:
"Sex and the City" glamorizes this condition — but to what end? Lacking substance and dimension, defined by sex appeal and revolving around men, Carrie and her friends are stuck in a surprisingly old-fashioned, Jane Austenian trap: having failed to leverage youth and beauty into something more substantial, they are now in danger of becoming spinsters. Indeed, they are already there, according to a recent New York Times article that compared them to the sexagenarians of "The Golden Girls."

Before the series comes to an end, it would be gratifying to see Carrie and her friends grow up into something more than restless partyers, man-hunters and shoe-shoppers, and find something more enduring to glamorize: a cause, a family, a career that is more than a backdrop for sex, or even just a story worthy of the girl reporter's legacy. Something that broadens our idea of what makes a woman sexy. Something worthy of the feminism our mothers bequeathed us.

I read that first paragraph about four times to make sure I believed it. These women, you see, might not get married. By preceding that statement with the question, "to what end?" I don't think it unfair to assume that Orenstein believes marriage and family are the trophies of a life well-lived. And she accuses Carrie of remedial feminism!

Despite her last paragraph I don't thinks Orenstein actually wants or expects Carrie to adopt a grand cause, Samantha to settle down, and Miranda to stop having sex with strange men. I think she just feels that that is an appropriate opinion to have. Orenstein does not believe that these women are leading appropriate lives, because they are falling short of Orenstein's conception of womanhood, as defined by Mary Tyler Moore. And still she accuses the show of a limited vision of femininity! Moreover, S&TC has fairly regularly explored the issues Orenstein brings up. Two episodes ago, Carrie confronted her married friend and affirmed that singlehood and designer shoes were her lifestyle choice and not a tragic life gone awry. Mary Tyler Moore's point has been made and largely won. Carrie's point obviously hasn't. I think this article just proved why S&TC exists.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Via Salon, I see that the knees of the fine folks at ANSWER are once again jerking, and we are slated for anotherantiwar protest in Washington on October 25.

This is a no-brainer, folks, which now that I think of it, is an apt characterization of this movement in general. Look, I supported the anti-war protests in the weeks building up to the war. The "professional protest" folks aside, I continue to view the phenomenon as an apt and important part of the political dialogue.

But this is just stupid. Anticipating the very question that many of us would have, ANSWER thoughtfully put together a rationale for Why We Are Marching on Washington. After reading through several paragraphs detailing the spectacular history of, well, themselves, you find that ANSWER advocates a wholesale, and presumably immediate removal of the troops in Iraq.

Guys, seriously?

I loved the analogy I read somewhere, probably on Kevin Drum's site. Okay, say you've got foundation trouble in your house. The contractor thinks the solution is to tear a big hole in the floor. You think this is a horrible, extreme measure. He does it anyway. Now you've got a big fucking hole in the floor. Do you A) Leave the hole in the floor because you were against it from the start, or B) fix the damn hole, because having no hole is better than having a hole and bitching about how there never should have been a hole. The ANSWER folks are choosing A.

Look, I agree that our money is far, far better spent on education and health care here at home. But we created this mess, and we need to immediately boost the military force to stabilize the country, quadruple our efforts to train Iraqi security and military forces to take over for our guys, and get the international help necessary to ease the manpower/financial burden.

I know it's a waste of time to try and argue with ANSWER--they're coming from a ridiculous position that nobody else really shares anyway. But scratch the surface of all the howls and complaints, and if you can find a solution, a viable policy, or hell, even a HINT at what should be done to stabilize Iraq, you'r a better detective than I.
We Have 200 Couches Where you Can Sleep Tight

Fall is apparently the time of rock, and a glance through the local schedules seems to suggest that I will be spending the next two months in clubs. Or most likely, parsing down the humongous list of shows I want to see into a more manageable and cheaper list of shows I can't miss. Here's what I'm looking at:

9/15 - Dale Watson (I used to go hear this honky-tonk true-blue Austinite at Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon for free. I would see him getting breakfast at the Omelettery on Saturday mornings. I can't believe he's coming to DC! I'll probably cry!)
9/23 - Cursive, Blood Brothers (This one will probably be cut. I already saw cursive this year.)
10/3 - Rainer Maria (for fucking sure. Every time I see them they get better. I don't care if it's not cool to like them anymore.)
10/4 - Built to Spill
10/9 - Radio 4 (One of these Brooklyn dance-rock bands. I heard one song on the Yes New York compilation, and it's fun. I'd like to hear more.)
10/10 - Hot Hot Heat
10/13 - Beulah
10/15 - Pretty Girls Make Graves (Might also get cut. I'm kind of over them, but it might be a good live show.)
10/16 - Holly Golightly (This would be for Kriston. I don't really know their stuff.)
10/18 - Interpol!! (This will be a great night.)
10/20 - Death Cab for Cutie, Mates of State

If I were to actually follow this schedule, I would be dead by Halloween. Put your money on me hitting Rainer Maria and Interpol and watching Queer Eye re-runs during the other show-times...

There comes a day in every girl's life when, upon reaching a certain age, she must say to herself, "I will never begin a sentence with 'When I was the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe...'"

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Here's a photo from the Dismemberment Plan's final show in their hometown on Monday night. They were doing "Ice of Boston" here. As you can see, it was a rockin' good time. Though probably less so for my poor sister who was curled up in crippling pain in the lobby while we danced on and on, obvlivious to her misery. Oops.

Austin hipster rockers Those Peabodys SUCK according to Pitchfork.

It's like I said to my friend when I saw them at Emo's and took a gander at one particular Peabody. "--------, what were you thinking? He was a virgin for a reason."
blogging with borges

I just got a tip that THE GENERAL may be announcing his candidacy at 4pm on CNN. Is this shameless rumor-mongering, or a clarion call of the bright and shining future? We'll see. I told myself that when the General announced his candidacy, I would link back to the first time I posted about his positively peerless presidential potential, back in March sometime, and make some obnoxious nyah nyah comment about how I was into Wesley Clark before all you kids.

But the proof is in the pudding, and my pudding has gone sour.

In other words, my archives seem to have vanished, leaving me hollowed out inside. First the comments, now the archives. On my blogger editor thing, I can get to posts dating back to April, but anything earlier is lost in the mists of time, leaving me feeling rather hollow and violated. Those early months spent ruining my corneas here at Sueandnotu were all that stood between me and acknowledgment of the cruel howling solitude of my trivial little world.

Or, more accurately, kept me occupied in between margaritas.

Still, this eradication of history has me vaguely troubled with its latent Soviet overtones. Now I have no way to independently verify the past. Is it just a construction of my own prejudices and false memories? Who's to say what happened? Maybe I didn't endorse Wesley Clark! Reality is being auctioned of to the highest bidder, ladies and gentlemen, and the history of SueAndNotU is today's Blue Light Special for any budding Stalinists out there. Perhaps I could undertake a postmodern project and retroactively recreate my early posts, and, like Borges map, they will replace the original. Sad little posts about public transportation sightings will become all-night coke binges with the Hilton twins. Am I above that kind of blatant manipulation? Nyet!

I just checked CNN's schedule, and Gen. Clark is slated to speak with the anchor about the possibility of a white house run. He is always speaking with anchors about a possible White House run. Even though it's apparently vogue to announce candidacy on television programs (see Arnie), I doubt Gen. Clark would do it on CNN instead of at a speaking engagement. Though I would like to see him announce on The Daily Show. He would get some serious street cred for that in the crucial "me" demographic. Anyway, I think my "source" was just misled by too many endorphins shooting to her brain on her afternoon workout.

Well, there was an announcement of sorts. Apparently the General announced that he IS definitively a democrat! Baring his soul in such a manner, General Clark has inspired me to do the same.
SueAndNotU would like to announce that she is all woman. So let the speculation end.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Gone so soon?

Normally, this time of year, I'm praying for a blast of cool or even a few spitting dribbles of rain to take the edge off the summer inferno. I'm used to picnic weather 9 months out of the year. I'm not used to celebrating the bright warm days as something rare and wonderful. And now, when everybody is musing on the death of summer, I'm mourning it instead of dancing around its grave as usual. And this is only temperate DC! Imagine if I had made it to Moscow this year after all!

As all the store windows replace the strappy sandals and the micro-minis with smart jackets and argyle patterns, I tally up the days spent by pools or on beaches, performing some mental arithmetic to decide if the fleeting summer was enjoyed enough. Two beach trips. Good. Only two pool trips. tsk tsk. I never made it to the river, though the best time for Shenandoah camping is still to come. Indulging my simplest and most immediate forms of pleasure, I spent more time on sidewalk cafes than God intended, and I plan to stay out there through the fall, until they truck me inside, butt firmly planted in chair.

I've almost reached my one-year anniversary in this town, and I'm glad that when the first familiar season rolls 'round again, I won't be in the precise spot I was a year ago. I'm thankful that the inauspicious omen that greeted my arrival here (my flight landed on the first day of the D.C.-area sniper shootings) did not produce an entirely disastrous year. Or death.
Russia's first trial by jury since the Bolshevik revolution recently concluded in Moscow City Court. Taken in the context of the many anti-democratic reforms and measures of the last 3 years, this very modest foray into judicial reform is an important step forward.

For the last decade, judges have enjoyed sole discretion over the accused. As with many civil servants, the judges are very poorly paid and susceptible to bribery. They often aren't educated on nuanced legal reforms or expected to particulary uphold precedent. Defendants in Russian courts are convincted 99.5% of the time, and spend their trials locked in cages in the court room.

Reports from the first jury trial suggest there is plenty of room for improvement: the jury repeatedly failed to rule on all the charges, and had to be sent back to deliberate several times. The cage is still there in the courtroom, with the obvious psychological influence on jurors. And corruption, well, that's a hard nut to crack:
Even the attorneys defending Bortnikov were absorbing alien concepts. Conviction requires a simple majority of jurors here. Told during a break that U.S. juries must rule unanimously, defense attorney Vladimir Zherebenkov seemed astonished and translated that into the Russian context. "Then," he exclaimed, "you only have to buy one."

Furthermore, there's no "double jeopardy" protection as in the states, and a defendant can be re-tried by the state if a jury acquits him.

In the end, the young man accused of murder was acquitted because the jury thought the evidence and confessions were coerced. The jury probably has good reason to suspect this.

Nevertheless, the prosecution will appeal, and can keep doing so until they get the verdict they want. Like I said, it's far from ideal, but it's a start.

Hands off our God! You buncha-buncha-buncha-buncha GOD HATERS!

Does the removal of Alabama's 10 Commandments monument cause your blood to boil like a river of fire? Looking for a soundtrack for your righteous Christian rage? Ken Barnett, a 58-year old Alabama state employee has thrown down the sick beats, and now you can rock hard to his tune "Put it back."

Christopher Hitchens on diets: "I'm against them!"

(Believe it or not)

He makes a spirited case for the epicurean lifestyle ("RELAX. There's nothing amiss that a solid martini, followed by a thick sirloin and some crusty bread - washed down with some fine, old bloodstained Burgundy - wouldn't cure."), but he doesn't do so before ripping off Willie Nelson.

"The best way of getting through is to eat and drink heartily, in order to keep up your strength, and to ask yourself why it is that you meet more old drunks than old doctors."

Willie (from "I Gotta Get Drunk"):
There's a lot of doctors that tell me
I better start slowin' it down
But there's more old drunks than there are old doctors
So I think that I'll have another round!

Sure, this phrase might just be an old saying, but I like to trace my old sayings back to Willie and stop right there.