Thursday, October 31, 2002

Streaming by RCA-Victrola
I've found a great streaming audio source for 20's, 30's, 40's music. Great stuff from the days when Radio was king. Go to this link for the streaming audio. And also read a fantastic post about this music from James Lileks who should be bronzed and worshipped in the same fashion North Koreans exhibit for their leader.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The Democratic Circus
More gay-bashing from Democrat candidates to try and win elections. This time in South Carolina

Forget mudslinging. Try "cockfight" or "bloodbath" if you want to describe Friday's fifth - and final - U.S. Senate debate between Democrat Alex Sanders and Republican Lindsey Graham. Take this slap early in the debate, during a discussion about whose friends are more liberal: Sanders said Graham was the one running a TV endorsement from Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City.

"He's an ultra-liberal," Sanders said. "His wife kicked him out and he moved in with two gay men and a Shih Tzu. Is that South Carolina values? I don't think so."

Monday, October 28, 2002

Gods & Generals
I cannot wait for this film. This story (as detailed in the book of the same title written by Jeff Shaara) marks the years and events leading up to the pivotal battle at Gettysburg. Jeff Shaara's father, Michael Shaara wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning book "The Killer Angels" which provided a moving and personal offering of Civil War fiction based on the real events of the famous Gettysburg encounter. When Michael Shaara died, his son Jeff picked up where his father left off and set out to provide the same style and voice in further writings. "Gods & Generals" was his first offering. In the upcoming movie (Feb 2003 release date), Robert Duvall plays Robert E. Lee and Jeff Daniels reprises his role as Joshua Chamberlain (Gettysburg). I look forward to this flick, especially the Battle of Fredericksburg scene which I hear clocks in at over an hour in length alone.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Cujo: A New Beginning/A New Species
We are getting our cat Atticus this Sunday. I hope he is this psychotic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I Saw the Sign
I did not like what I saw coming from the sky this morning. I did not like waking up to the frozen stuff. I do not look forward to 5-6 months of cold.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Short Fiction from GraniteRants: A first in an occasional series of original short fiction

Jagged, Gritting Teeth
The intoxicating fumes engulfed his lungs. His jagged, gritting teeth clenched on the rusted metal of the tailpipe. He could feel the rush surge through his body with each exhalation from his lips, all the while making sure not to release his jaw and grip.

Finished, he pulled himself up from the cold concrete of his garage. Dizzy and incoherent, he ambled over to the driver's side window of his automobile, reached in the open window, and turned off the motor with a twist of the ignition. He had great difficulty putting on his shoes and slacks. He had greater difficulty navigating the hallways of his fetid house. Garbage, scraps of food, newspapers, cans, and other assorted refuse littered the rooms. The man felt his way from room to room, holding onto grubby walls - steering himself to the front door.

Now for the difficult part. The man had managed to stagger from his house, down the boulevard, and on towards the Nickelodeon Theatre. One of the greatest bargains in town was their $1.00 matinee. The usual features were old classics and westerns, but today was the opening of a children's picture - Ernest Goes to Camp.

Struggling with words and with great difficulty, the man was able to collect his admission ticket. Armed with his ticket stub, the man walked through the curtain and took his seat at the middle of the theatre.

The employees of the Nickelodeon were well acquainted with the mysterious man. Every once in a while (usually with the opening of a children's picture), the man would show up - disheveled, vacant, and always in the state of forlorn dementia. At first the management was quite alarmed with his arrivals, especially with so many unsupervised children in attendance. The manager used to make sure that the theatre ushers kept a close eye on the man - to make sure that he did nothing to the children in the darkened theatre. But after months of his mysterious appearances - always in the same state - always grinning that crazy rust-stained toothy grin, the management began to ease up. At not one time did the man show any interest in the children. In fact, he never even showed interest in the films on the screen. Once, a few years back, the man fell asleep during a particular showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but that was the only deviation ever noticed from the usual blank staring at the screen. Oftentimes, when the movie was over and the theatre lights we up, the man would sit alone for up to an hour. Everybody thought the man was crazy.

For an hour and a half the children ate their popcorn, laughed, giggled, climbed over seats, threw popcorn, jumped over seats, poked each other, stared in amazement at the screen, or just generally goofed off. The only person motionless in the theatre was the man; the multicolor reflection of the screen illuminating his face; sparkles of light glinting off his rust colored, jagged teeth.....

When the picture was over, and after the children had filed out of the theatre did the man begin to stir. Blank and akin to the behavior of a zombie, the man exited the theatre - continuing up the boulevard and out of sight. The ushers swept up the popcorn and other garbage off the floor and the theatre manager went through the usual procedure - making sure the theatre was ready for the next showing. As he did this, the manager shook his head in wonderment. It never failed to amaze him how many freaks and weirdos there were in the world. Oh well, he thought. He would go home to his dinner and his wife, and tell her about the most recent sighting of that crazy guy with the jagged, gritting teeth.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Channel Z
Unbelievably fascinating article detailing how Saddam manipulates the media. The only way you get a reporter into Iraq is by visa. And the only way a visa can be secured is if that particular reporter has a history of reporting on Iraq without any hint of criticism. This explains all that infuriating coverage of Baby Milk Factories and Saddam's recent "unanimous reelection" - reports all done without any hint of balanced journalistic critique. CNN plays this game to maintain a presence in Baghdad, and to an equal extent further the propaganda aims of the Iraq Ministry of Information. A must read.

Hey Sickos, SCRAM!
I get plenty of whackjobs Google-searching their way to this site looking for the "R*ssian D*capitation V*deo" that I commented about several months ago.

Word to these individuals: Get a life. Get some counseling. Want to look at snuff films? You won't find them here.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Quote of the Day
The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.
- Vaclav Havel

What Muppet are You?

You are Fozzie!
Wokka Wokka! You love to make lame jokes. Your sense of humor might be a bit off, but you're a great friend and can always be counted on.

Shameless Self-Promotion
The Age, a leading Australian newspaper today published my Letter to the Editor on their Letters Page Here is the text:

Even if Imbruglia were PM...

This bombing has nothing to do with Bush or Howard, war on terror, Iraq, the Kyoto treaty or what have you. It would have happened even if Natalie Imbruglia or Britney Spears were at the helm of our respective countries.

We are faced with an ideology that embraces a death cult of suicide and martyrdom. It even seeks to avenge the loss of Andalucia to the Spanish for Pete's sake! That was more than 500 years ago!

Let's be clear what we are up against: extreme and murderous irrationality.

We here in the US are appalled at what has happened in Bali. It is a disgusting and horrifying act - and we stand with you 100 per cent.
Jim Sellers, Dover, New Hampshire, US

Update: Montana Senate Race
It gets worse and worse. Even after having already dropped out of the race, Republican Mike Taylor, former candidate for US Senator continues to be savaged by the Montana Democrat Party. A latest mailing piece uses Drag Queen imagery and the still shots from the infamous gay-baiting ad to further paint Mike Taylor as some sort of untrustworthy deviant unsuitable for office. News Flash: the guy has already dropped out of the race!. Why continue to do this?? It amazes me what the Democrats are getting away with here. That they even would contemplate this tactic to begin with. What about those principles of diversity, tolerance, open-mindedness, and inclusion that they like to boast about? HA! What a bunch of hypocrites. I'm sick and tired of hearing those lies. I'm tired of Harry Belafonte getting away with calling Colin Powell a "House Slave". I'm tired of inferences from Ted Kennedy and former Virginia Governor, Doug Wilder that Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom. I'm tired of them getting away with their racism and homophobia. All that self-righteous crap about "celebrating differences" is just bullshit and smokescreen. They can't deal with anybody who disagrees with them (ever hear of Diversity of Opinion, guys?) and they'll use any tactic, any slur to attack - knowing they'll get away with it due to the smokescreen they've cleverly manipulated all these years. No More!

GraniteRants Inc. - A Global Manufacturing Concern
I received this email solicitation for agreement to do business:

Dear Sirs,

We learn from Internet that you are business in stones, these items fall within
the business scope of our corporation, so we would like to establish business
relations with you.

Our company, Xiamen Sunward Imp. & Exp. Trade Co., Ltd is located in Xiamen,
the southeast of China. Specializes in the import and export of various stones,
such as granite tile & slab, marble, tombstone, column, stone carving, mosaics
door pillar, countertop, paving stone and so on. We have our own subsidiary
processing plants: Success Building Material Co.,Ltd; Qiaoxiang Tombstone
Factory; Success Handicrafts Factory; Dolphin Carving Factory etc, all situated
in the home of Chinese largest building materials------Nan'an city of China and
also many long-term cooperators both at home and abroad. We take equal and
mutual benefit as our management principles. We are taking pride in our
exceptional service, high quality and reliable delivery.

Our products have won wide popularity all over the world through our many years
efforts. And we have the advantage of the high quality and competitive price.
We believe that you will find the interest through our website and we hope that
our products will add to the categories of your sample. You are also warmly
welcomed to visit our factory and negotiate business with us .We would like to
be your supplier in China. Quotations and samples will follow upon receive of
your concrete inquiries.

Maybe it is our first time to do business with each other, so should you have
any questions, pls feel free to contact us via fax or mail or viewing our

As we know, there will be held "The Big 5 Construction and Contracting
Exhibition" from Oct 27-31 in Dubai, UAE. And we will take part in it for
showing our products, so if you are interested in any of our products, welcome
to visit and negotiate with us at that time. Our position in exhibition is the
7th hall, 7D369.Welcome to negotiate with us.

Thank you for your time.
Yours faithfully,

Beiguo Tong

Xiamen Sunward Imp. & Exp. Trade Co., Ltd.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Progressive & Tolerant? Yeah, righhhhht
Tis' the season for really bad political attack ads. The one the NH Republicans have put out savaging Martha Fuller Clark, "Here comes Martha!" is pretty low. But I don't think they can get as low as what has happened in Montana. Mike Taylor, a Republican, has dropped out of the race for Montana's senate seat due to a Democrat ad that utilizes a thinly veiled gay-baiting technique against Taylor. Apparently, Taylor ran a hairdressing school in Colorado years before and advertized his services on a local TV station. The Democrats have taken footage from these local access broadcasts and fashioned them into the recently aired political attack ad. In the ad, Taylor is seen performing a facial on a man: massaging his eyebrows and forehead. Another clip shows Taylor reaching down towards a seated man's crotch area with his hand. In the background of the ad, a 70's style porno movie soundtrack is played.

In any case, the shameless gay-baiting tactic has had an effect on Taylor's poll numbers and he has dropped out of the race. It is unfortunate that a political party who champions its own "tolerance" and "open-mindedness" has hypocritically ignored those self-proclaimed ideals - and all in order to win an election.

Get the back story here.
See the ad here.

Monday, October 14, 2002

Columbus Day or Cabot Day?
Here's an interesting view. The author makes the case that we are celebrating the wrong Italian. We should instead be honoring John Cabot, the "English" explorer of North America. John Cabot was in fact named Giovanni Caboto and entered into service for the English, much in the same way that Christopher Columbus entered into service for the Spanish....

Thursday, October 10, 2002

On Red & Blue
As the Quote of the Day reveals, I am interested in what people have to say on the idea of America and what we as a citizenry are (and what we may evolve into). I've heard it said before that Tiger Woods or a Vin Diesel are going to be the future face of America: of mixed race and identified with no particular one. I think one of the greater trends happening today is the increase in the numbers of people who either refuse to answer demographic questions based on race or check the "Other" box and leave it at that. The faster this country overcomes its obsession with race the better.

Furthermore, the view of America (particularly held by the Europeans) post 9/11 has been highlighted in press reports and such, particularly the nonsensical view that we are cowboys, unenlightened, unsophisticated, etc. It is in this environment that a few writers have ventured to describe the prevalent American character - what is happening demographically, culturally, geographically, socially, etc. I think one way to look at it is to remember how the Electoral Map looked like during the Bush/Gore race for President. The Blue states for Gore were located on the fringes of America - the West Coast, the Northeast. The Red states that went for Bush were from the geographic center: the agricultural West, the Heartland, the SunBelt. Since these areas also are seeing the greatest increases in population growth (while the Blue/Gore states of the Northeast and Industrial Midwest are shrinking in population), its interesting to identify what may be the underlying factors behind this Blue State/Red State divide. Since I'm a New Englander, its even more interesting to view this relationship because I feel in many ways New England is a lot less similar to the rest of the country. (In terms of politics, idea of individualism, land usage & growth issues, religious affiliations, etc.). New England may have been the cradle of the American Revolution, but it is pretty much the casket of the American evolution right now. By this I mean the dynamism and evolution of American society will be predominantly decided by movements/actors residing in the expanding Red States of the Midwest, the SunBelt, and the Rocky Mountain West. Think about it, look who we elect and who lead us:

Sen. Tom Dashle (D - Majority Leader): South Dakota
Sen. Trent Lott (R - Minority Leader): Mississippi
Rep. Dennis Hastert (R - Speaker of the House): Illinois
Rep. Dick Armey (R - House Majority Leader): Texas
Rep. Tom DeLay (R - House Majority Whip): Texas
Rep. Dick Gephardt (D - House Minority Leader): Missouri
Rep. David Bonior (D - House Minority Whip): Michigan
President George W. Bush: (R) Texas
President Bill Clinton (D): Arkansas
President George H. W. Bush (R): Texas
President Ronald Reagan (R): California
President Jimmy Carter (D): Georgia

Clearly, many of our leaders come from the Midwest, the West, and the South. New England is hardly represented nor influential in the political guidance of this country. (Save for brief flirtations with shaky types Ted Kennedy or Mike Dukakis). The fact is, America is decided out there. In suburbs and hinterlands not close to NH. In this regard, I am indifferent. While on the one hand I would sure like to be relevant, the flipside is that New England can enjoy its own pace and its own environs without too much disturbance. This is reassuring.

For an interesting read on the changing face of America and the evolution (and perhaps revolution) underway in the Red States, I highly recommend the lengthy and detailed account written by David Brooks on the American creatures he has termed Patio Man and the Sprawl People.

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Quote of the Day:
On American equality:

(Equality) "may be very daintily discussed by English gentlemen in a London dining-room, when the servant, having placed a fresh bottle of cool wine on the table, respectfully shuts the door, and leaves them to their walnuts and their wisdom; but it will be found less palatable when it presents itself in the shape of a hard, greasy paw, and is claimed in accents that breathe less of freedom than of onions and whiskey. Strong, indeed, must be the love of equality in an English breast if it can survive a tour through the Union."
- Mrs. Fanny Trollope

I should celebrate the idea of America by walking around drunk and smelling of onions....

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Pop Goes the Weasel Cuz the Weasel Goes Pop
Being a New Englander, I say Soda. But I have heard others call it Tonic. Frankly, Pop sounds a bit too toddler-ish. Check out which regions of the US weigh in linguistically on their favorite carbonated beverage.

Armed & Dangerous
The Islamofascists' worst nightmare may be flying over Saddam's "palaces" pretty soon.

Mexican Restaurants
Restaurant interiors and the styles/atmospheres they convey are sometimes incompatible with the food they serve. There are some types of food that should not be served as haute cuisine. Mexican is a perfect example. We recently tried out a new restaurant in Newburyport, MA called Agave. The food was excellent and perhaps some of the best Mexican I have had. But the interior decor clashed with what I was eating. For the most part, what we call "Mexican" food is by and large peasant food - beans, rice, tortillas, meats, cheese, etc. No matter how you dress it up or how stylish the plate is; how fancy the silverware is; how minimalist the artwork on the wall is, a taco is still a taco and a burrito is still a burrito. Mexican food should not be served in restaurants that look like SoHo art galleries. Mexican food is festive food. It is messy food and stuff you dig into. Not stuff that you should be too concerned with how often you use your napkin or knife and fork with. Fancy restaurants and Mexican just don't go together. You want to be in a cantina type atmosphere. Some place that looks like the inside of the Alamo - not the Louvre.

Mercedes Bent
Ever wonder about taking that extra insurance on a rental car when offered? Usually the sales guy says that everything is covered - I mean everything. Whatever happens to the car, you just walk away from it. So you get to thinking, "Yeah, I could really beat on this thing and have no worries........"

Such an opportunity came up for my friend. He was visiting from Colorado and happened to be offered an Mercedes SUV because they did not have the car he reserved. So he snatched it up with the optional insurance. Well, what do you do with a fully covered rental SUV? You beat on it of course. And when all was said and done with the car was toast. Mud, torn undercarriage, the works.....

Yeah, that's right. Torn undercarriage. But with the insurance you do indeed walk away.

Friday, October 04, 2002

More linkage between Oklahoma City, 9/11, and Iraq.....

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

E. Honda
I own a Honda. My fiance owns a Honda. Many of my friends own Hondas. These are glorious Grocery Getters. They are comfortable to drive, have suspensions that feel solid, and last a decent length of time. I feel good knowing that I drive a popular car. But now I am looking around at other people's Hondas and am starting to notice some striking differences between their's and my own. Namely, my Honda doesn't have a huge Spoiler fin on it.. My Honda doesn't ride low to the ground. My Honda doesn't have an enormous tailpipe sticking out of the back. My Honda doesn't have the fancy low-profile tires and the human skeletal system inspired alloy rims. My Honda doesn't have the tinted glass, the running lights, the tiny chrome steering wheel. Where was this model on display in the showroom at the dealership? Was there something about my appearance that said to the salesguy, "He's in here for the Grocery Getter." I mean, couldn't they have at least let me peak into that Shangri-La of Showrooms? That place reserved only for the Vin Diesels of the world? Why was I shown the generic models when I can clearly see off in the distance (oftentimes when I am at Shaws Supermarket - peering towards the Inferno) a parking lot of special Hondas, glorious Hondas, souped-up Hondas, high-performance Hondas.

I feel gyped.....