Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Wind Cries Kerry

If you’re in that perceptive group that truly sees the danger of this current administration for the twisted bully/cowards that they are - you were probably more than a little freaked out to hear John Kerry talk his way into another jam recently. I know I was, and my level of frustration was much more personal than for most.

See, there was a time starting in 2003 that I made it my mission in life to save John Kerry from himself. That sounds like I take myself way too seriously, but that’s how it came down. I became convinced that a second Bush term would be a national tragedy so I applied to several of the Democratic candidates and offered my services as a writer of one-liners. Sound bites with real pop to them. Frankly, I’d prefer to stay out of politics, but these are desperate times, and so I made the leap. My plan was to sit in my basement in Portland and crank out the lines, to counter the latest Republican spin. I may not be great at it, but the Kerry camp was turning out crap. I'm being completely serious when I say this: I imagined writing a magic line that could save America.

Coincidentally, this is the week that my normal computer went gigs up, so I’m back on the old rig, which has my email exchanges with David Wade - a key player in the Kerry campaign who remained part of the team even after 2004. Here are excerpts from some of the emails. There were a bunch of others, including one that was a vent during the Swift Boat summer of 2004. I don’t normally apply with this level of frustration but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing out of the Kerry camp. So it was a little like today:

* From June, 2003, addressed to Kerry himself.
Dear John,
A few weeks ago I faxed three of your offices and
e-mailed your site, with an offer. I am a professional joke writer
with over 300 jokes sold to Jay Leno. I also write for 115 radio
stations around America.
My idea was that you should have a professional joke writer
on staff to garner you the attention from the national press that a
campaign ad won't. I was responding to the negative attention you got
for your "regime change" quip. Not only can the right joke win you
support, but a good line said in the papers is free. My work has been
quoted on Imus, Larry King, and in the USA Today.
I also wondered what response I'd get. Since none was
forthcoming, please take me off your e-mailing list. This is a very
serious time in this country. I didn't offer to help for the e-mail.
Bill McDonald

* That’s when I first heard from David Wade.


Thanks for emailing our website - I'm glad that your email made its way
through the volunteers to the Communications office --

Writing help is hard to come by, so I'm grateful and would be very
interested in hearing your ideas re. humor and the campaign -


* The next is from March of 2004.

Dear David,
Bill McDonald here, the freelance comedy writer who
wants to help you win the White House.
I am coming off a stretch where I sold Jay Leno 8 jokes
in a week and a half. The last one(Do you realize the Bush
administration has now produced more gay marriages than jobs?)
got a highly favorable review from James Carville.
That got me thinking. Back during Campaign 2000, I asked
James Carville if he could get me a job writing for Al Gore. It didn't
work and you saw what happened.
Don't make the same mistake. Hire me and let me help you
win this. Don Imus keeps kidding John Kerry on how dull some of his
statements sound("Bring it on!") Let me help turn that around.
Another "Regime change" crack could really hurt, while the
right line could win a swing state.
You don't want to lose and then be sitting there 3 years
from now admiring one of my jokes and wishing you had hired me.
Bill McDonald

P.S. Here's a point for free: Democrats should call
President Bush "Reckless George". He's reckless about the deficit, the
economy, the environment, our soldiers, the Constitution, and on and
on. If you can brand him with the nickname Reckless George you can
break through this preposterous steady-leadership jive.

Thanks for your note -- is there someone at The Tonight Show you'd suggest as a reference?
Obviously we may be enlarging staff at some point as soon as we can, right now we do rely on a lot of volunteer help from writers willing to give the campaign their creaivity and time --

* I arranged to have Jay Leno take the call from the Kerry campaign. They never called. After asking for a reference they never followed through. My emails continued - here’s one after another Kerry bonehead line. It’s from July of 2004 - the Summer of the Swift Boat.

Dear David,
So here I am closing in on 400 jokes sold to Jay Leno and he's playing a clip of John Kerry's S.A.T. joke, commenting on how difficult it is to write comedy.
Meanwhile I've offered to write comedy for the Kerry campaign but to no avail. I even got Jay Leno to agree to take your call for a reference, but you never called.
My advice would be to hire a professional rather than send John out with a joke that gets him ridiculed in 70 countries around the world.
This is too important to try and wing it. Hire a pro.

* Epilogue: After the defeat I took the high road and wrote David a sympathetic note, even though I wanted to vent. I did call it "The Road Not Taken" - referring to their decision not to hire me. I haven’t printed all the emails here - some were just suggestions. I never gave up and they never gave in. David sent a nice reply back.

Bill, Just a quick note to say thank you - for your suggestions, your jokes, your good advice, and for your very thoughtful note after this thing ended. I appreciate it. keep in touch - I'll be back with John Kerry, who is very much in a fighting mood.

* I remember being so steamed. Now that it was over John was ready to fight? At least he responded today, but it’s the same old movie. I could write a better line than the one that caused the problems. If that’s being full of myself, than so be it. Election 2006 is so important - the idea that this same man could screw it up doing the same things? Let’s just say, I find it personally quite aggravating. I also still have David Wade’s contact information. Sounds like it’s time to apply again. The Portland Freelancer did not get this far by giving up.

Remain in the Game

Ahh, this is good. When one of my clients comes back from a week off, his bigtime writers in LA are often refreshed and ready to shoulder the burden unassisted by the freelancers. Or so it appears to me. So to have a joke on the first night is a sign that I am currently in play. To have the joke be about Dick Cheney waterboarding trick-or-treaters till they give up their candy? We are venturing into comedy hero time here.

It's been quite a day. I put my bad-ass computer into the shop for 7 to 10 days but I'm pressing on with a dial-up. I was hating life for a few moments today but I made them chuckle at the Apple store by voicing an emotional farewell to my Mac as if it were alive. Then as the tech carried my wounded warrior towards the back, I had one more thing to say to the computer: "Don't tell them about the porno."

7 to 10 days and I've gone from a great machine to my old reliable. The high-speed connection lies uselessly on the floor, and I am working with something so slow that the provider should be called Amish Online. You know it's bad when you have to feed the live hamsters in the monitor. How screwed up is this computer? Instead of Windows, it has Drapes.

Still, I landed a waterboard joke on Dick Cheney tonight, so I remain in the game. Ahh, this is good.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Memories From a Lost America

Halloween gives President Bush a chance to pretend he's something he's not and frighten people - so it's a lot like every other day. I had two Halloween flashbacks lately that capture the rapid descent from a more idealistic time. One was when Candidate Bush appeared on the Tonight Show on or around Halloween and put on the Al Gore mask. Does anyone remember that? Anyway, I had two jokes on that night and one made direct fun of the Cheney half of the ticket. At the time Cheney's voting record was in the news - he barely voted at all. My joke was, "This election is going to be so close even Dick Cheney is thinking about voting."

When I look back on that, it's like another world. I remember marveling that a humble freelancer like me could take a verbal jab at a big political candidate's ticket while he was there as a guest. It actually is quite a statement about America that you can make fun of the leaders. Of course that was before the ticket was awarded office by the Supreme Court, and then went on a massive power drive such that the executive branch now has unchecked powers to arrest and torture any of us for the rest of our lives. That takes the steam out of the nostalgic reminiscing. And that was before light-hearted dissent was treated - not as an American way of life in the tradition of Will Rogers or Mark Twain - but as the unacceptable sniping of terrorist appeasers. Okay, that's a little strong, but I miss this country.

Who could have known that Dick Cheney's lack of interest in participatory democracy was a hint of a bleak future in which our system would be replaced by a de facto dictatorship? By the way, Dick Cheney enjoys picking a fun Halloween costume. It's the only time of year people don't think of him as Darth Vader. He also has a nasty surprise for trick-or-treaters who come to his house. He dunks them in water till they give up all of their candy.

My other Halloween memory was the night I got dressed down on the phone by Miss America's mother. I had written a front page story for the Portland Tribune about Donald Trump's refusal to let Miss America appear in the big Thanksgiving Parade because Miss Universe would be there. The details escape me but I sided with the hometown girl, Katie Harmon, and couldn't have been more generous in my support for her, and my disdain for the Donald. One thing about my Tribune columns - it seemed like someone was always upset - often the people you praised the most.

By the way, I always try and side with Portland in my jokes. I love the place so why not? My first joke I ever sold Leno made fun of Nancy Kerrigan, so I took Tonya's side early because she was the hometown girl. Later of course, I dumped on her as well, because it was good for business. But when a Portland State student wins Miss America, I'm not going to diss her in a local column and if I had they wouldn't have put it on the front page. So what was Katie's mom upset about?

As I remember, the Donald had come up with a counter offer that was demeaning and unacceptable and I wrote that Miss America had told him to stick it. I didn't quote her. I just described her reaction in those terms. Well, Miss America's Mom was not pleased and told me that she liked the article except for that one phrase and that Katie would never, ever say anything like that.

While she was talking the doorbell would ring in the background and she would go give candy to some trick or treaters. I could hear her talking to the kids, and this gave me time to notice how sweet a lady she was, but also to think about the weirdness of having Miss America's Mom upset at me.

That and making fun of Dick Cheney on the Tonight Show while George Bush was there are my two Halloween memories of the last 6 years that now seem so quaint and innocent that it might have been a Frank Capra film. Of course that was before we landed in the horror movie we're in right now.

Great News: The Tram Cars Are Here

The tram cars have arrived and I don't know about you, but I think it was worth the wait.

Get Me Steve Jobs on the Phone....Now!

I've got a bad feeling about this one. My Apple computer has been shutting off unexpectedly. It combined with a weird publishing problem on the blog today to give the overall feeling of the wheels coming off this operation. I never used to do so much on the computer before I had high-speed. I felt if you're using a computer to make a living, you shouldn't be wearing it out doing the irrelevant things like....well, like this. So now I've got Jay returning to the airwaves, the radio network expecting good things after giving me some time off, and the election coming up, and my computer is headed for the shop. Oh well, I always believed in redundancy. I've got a little laptop that I can do work on, but it's not the same. I've also paid for two email accounts all this time in case one goes down. Plus I can send things over cable or the phone, so that works. There was a time when I didn't have the cable high-speed and a couple of mornings I ended up going to Kinko's at 5 a.m. to use a local phone line when mine crashed.

You know it'll be 10 years this December that I've written for the radio. In that time I've missed maybe 2 days due to technical meltdowns. I've asked for maybe 8 days off the whole time. I missed sending Leno something maybe twice since 1993. Yup, it's official. I'm a working class hero. I hate to think of how many jokes that is but it's over 100 thousand. Yikes, how long till my brain starts unexpectedly shutting off as well? The blog thing has been a lot of fun, and beneficial for the head, but here I am past 1 in the morning and I probably shouldn't be running this machine. This is the part where something minor turns into a complete meltdown. Oh well. I'll probably try to do some stuff from the laptop but every now and then you have to be responsible, and I'm afraid this is one of those times. See you down the road.

I got through to Apple support and this sounds like a capacitor problem in the logic board which was my first quess - NOT! I'm still covered through Feb of 2008 by the maintenance plan so all is well. Oh, and I can still use it without hurting it any worse. The shutdowns will just occur more and more frequently till one day it won't work at all - kind of like what I'm experiencing with my brain.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

How to Spot a Republican Talking Point

It's easy to spot a Republican talking point. They roll through our TV sets with the changing tides. Yesterday on CNN Lynne Cheney got all earnest and asked her interviewer, "Do you want America to win in Iraq?" Last night on David Letterman, Bill O'Reilly asked, "Do you want America to win in Iraq?" This is the new version of when the right wing used to say, "Losing is not an option in Iraq." These things evolve in time like the song of the whales. "Stay the course" flows into the TV with the rhythmic pulse of waves washing over the American psyche, then that recedes and a new wave comes in. I believe the talking point now is that we are constantly refining out strategy in Iraq. We'll know the new slogan soon. Let's see...how about "Tinkering with Victory!" or "Staying the course is not an option in Iraq." No, that one makes too much sense.

We've all had problems that have required our maximum efforts. There are talking points for those too, in the form of commonly heard sayings: "This means the world to me." or "This means everything to me." You "throw everything at a problem" because "your life depends on it". The rhetoric of the "War on Terror" is sort of like that. It is the "calling of our times. The calling of our generation. It is a war that will not end in our lifetimes." Saddam has been compared to Hitler, George Bush has been compared to Churchill, and the Invasion of Iraq has been compared to the Invasion of Normandy.

Of course, it's all total crap. The first wave comes crashing in looking good but it has a giant whale turd on top of it. BS just doesn't cover the Bush administration - they deal in whale crap. As with most Republican talking points the goal is to deflect from the truth and spin the American Public into a pre-approved way of thinking. And then the next waves full of whale crap start coming through the TV sets. George says the new slogan over and over in the same speech. Condi repeats it, Cheney chimes in. Rumsfeld is often one slogan behind - he's still wading through "stay the course" right now - but eventually the next wave will wash over his barnacle-encrusted brain and he will repeat the new slogan. These aren't leaders here - they're telemarketers. That's what they're good at, so it's easy - like selling cereal: Snap, Crackle, Shock, and Awe.

The Bush administration never really gave a damn about Iraq. They wanted a war, they wanted to win, and it didn't work out. Does it mean everything to them? Does it mean the world to them? No, or else they would have sent more troops. Wait, I thought Iraq was part of the War on Terror. You remember that talking point: The frontlines of the War on Terror, right?

Doesn't that make Iraq the calling of a generation? We didn't even send enough troops to drive in safely from the airport. Why didn't we change the course earlier if this was so important? Because it's not. The "calling of a generation" thing was some talking point somebody made up to help sell this. Hey, "calling" even sounds religious! Perfect! The only calling George ever heard was "Last call".

Besides, correcting a disastrous plan would have been an admission of a mistake, and this group hates admitting mistakes. They would rather leave our troops twisting in the wind, than damage their image. Tell me that's not true. Go ahead.

The Bush team has never acted all that concerned about the thousands of Americans who have been ground up over there - they're main goal is that they keep the power here through this next election. And that's the only reason they're so concerned about Iraq right now.

The American People are so mad about Iraq that the Congress could go Democratic. This is what is driving the hand-wringing in the Bush administration - not the terrible carnage their stupid plan has wrought. When they ask, "Do you want America to win in Iraq?" it is a deflection from their level of commitment there. Winning in Iraq doesn't mean the world to the American People and guess what? It doesn't mean the world to the Bush administration either. Otherwise we would have all been acting differently. Democracy in Iraq? They don't even want democracy here.

Our way of life isn't being threatened by Iraq - it's being threatened by the Bush administration. Nothing from the mouths of these people can be trusted or believed. You have to flip the content of their slogans to tell what they are really saying. So what does matter to them above all else? What is their true calling? That one is simple: Power.

When you hear a Republican talking point insert the phrase "keep the power" and you'll hear their inner most thoughts. It's like the old phrase "Keep the faith", and ironically they're using faith to keep the power. Suddenly the talking points make a lot of sense. Keeping the power is the calling of a lifetime. They're not asking us if we want to win in Iraq. They're asking if we want Republicans to win the Elections. Are you going to take some of their power away? That's the level of concern here.

Stay the course was never about staying the course. It was about marketing a decisive image. Winning the War on Terror was never about winning the War on Terror. Where would the fear come from if the War on Terror was won? Things are getting worse so for the Republicans things are getting better.

How about national security? Just look at the ports and our border situation and tell me they're truly serious about national security. Think of your own home security. Are the Bush people even close to being as concerned about our national security, as you are about your house? The first thing you do is control who comes in. The Bushies outsourced port security to a company from the part of the world that is supposed to hate us for our freedom. Think about that. You probably remember the talking point: "They hate us for our freedom"? None of it's real.

If the terrorists hate us for our freedom, then why does the Bush administration want to curtail our freedoms? They call us terrorist appeasers for not going along, but if they're damaging what the terrorists are supposed to hate, that makes them terrorist appeasers.

Everything is the opposite of what it's supposed to be. Winning in Iraq has never been about winning in Iraq. There has only been one real change in the endless waves of right wing talking points: "Get the Power" became "Expand the Power" and that's now been replaced with "Keep the Power". Like the song of the whales the talking points evolve and the waves continue to bring the whale turds to your TV set.

Friday, October 27, 2006

"If I was the President of this land..."

Critics of the federal government and the President are often asked, "So what would you do differently?" That can be a tough one. I admit I would screw up many things 10,000 times worse than they are now. Anything involving meetings would soon fall apart - I've spent my life avoiding meetings. The fact that I have to record my cable access show today at a certain time, and then go edit it at another time, puts today in the category of total loss - and that's before you count the quality of the show.

I've searched my brain to find ways to do that telecast without putting in a full 2 hours a week, but I simply can't do it. I guess it's just part of the sacrifice I make to pursue an Emmy. And yes, I am kidding. So anything involving the President actually attending meetings would eventually disintegrate into utter chaos. I would not hide that from the voters. In fact I would campaign on it, as long as the campaign did not involve me showing up somewhere at a specific time. So, I freely admit a Bill McDonald presidency would be a disaster.

However, there are a couple of areas where I can guarantee you that I would have made a great President. First, we would not be in Iraq. I am very good at smart decisions that involve not doing anything - and that includes not doing anything stupid. In fact, the decision not to act unless there's a damn good reason, is what I am best at. I could have saved this nation so much trouble simply because I knew Iraq was a bad idea from before Day #1.

The second area that I would excel at would be fighting forest fires. This has been my pet peeve for many years. I wrote a column about it for the Tribune, and I wrote a script about it that didn't sell to Hollywood. Do you realize how much we could do with the money we're throwing away in Iraq, when it comes to fighting forest fires? Doesn't it piss you off seeing these vintage prop planes dropping the red stuff? How about when a single helicopter drops a bucket on the fire?

My plan involves rapid response with overwhelming force. Satellites to spot the fires early. Fighters dropping high tech materials on them. Strike forces that go in and mop up. And when a forest fire gets out of control, a massive fleet of cargo planes and bombers that hit it with an amazing round-the-clock supply of water till it is out. No more red stuff. God knows what's in that. We would fight fire the natural way and unlike in Iraq, we would have a winning strategy. One of these out of control fires was racing towards Los Alamos labs a few years ago. This is a national security matter for real, and remember: This latest tragedy in Southern California that killed 4 fire fighters was arson. What if that caught on?

While we are halfway around the world dropping billions of dollars on Iraq, we should be spending a fraction of the money to eliminate the problem of forest fires. A few years back, the satellite pictures showed one third of Oregon covered in smoke. What else do you need to realize there's a problem? My administration will not tolerate that ever again. This is your President wishing you a good night, and God Bless America.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Time to Gut This One Out

I think I know why liberals have fared poorly in match-ups with Republicans lately. I believe that liberals are inherently better human beings than conservatives, and they tend to come up queasy during the last sickening weeks of a political campaign. That's the main reason for recent defeats, other than the vote-rigging. While conservatives delight in their hero Rush Limbaugh going after Michael J. Fox, the rest of us are actually appalled into stunned silence. The urge to disengage from this process is powerful. It is not going to be easy to stomach these last couple of weeks before the election, but stomach them we must.

After all, the religious right manages to keep focused even though their misguided antics have helped set the laws of this country back to Europe in the 13th century. Ahh, religion. It's the ultimate scam. All a low-life loser like John Ashcroft has to do is announce he's a fundamental Christian and the conservative base flocks to his side. Meanwhile if he had been allowed to have just one slow dance with a girl in high school, he might have turned out less weird and America would have benefited immensely.

What the religious right has wrought in the name of morality would make Jesus weep tears of blood. Torture, preemptive wars, and an open assault on the poor in favor of the mega-rich? Be proud. If your cherished religious beliefs even come close to being true, you will be holding all future meetings of the modern GOP in hell where it belongs. Do you get it? You are the worst enemy America has ever had. All our other enemies made us just believe more strongly in the ideals that made America great. But you insidious holy rollers have helped destroy America from within, giving unlimited power to a man who shouldn't be allowed to ride a bicycle without a helmet on his ass, for that is where his head resides.

Isn't it disgusting to see the level of caring about Iraq suddenly climb to such heights with the Bush crowd? The burns and the amputations and the deaths from IEDs were okay early on when they were helping keep the Bushies in power. Now it appears they are hurting the cause and may actually threaten Republican control of Congress. Ahh, the anguish! The President even gave two press conferences in as many weeks to try and spin the unspinable and defend the indefensible.

Let's review Iraq, just in case you're still throbbing with joy after hearing your Republican Messiah explain that he never meant "stay the course" to mean "stay the course", or whatever jive you're buying off this corrupt moron this week. Iraq was based on three things: Lies, Lies about the Lies, and Lies about the Lies about the Lies. The fact that this President and his pretend Daddy Cheney aren't sitting in a federal prison by now is a mark of shame on this country. Hopefully, the system will work and one branch of government will return to being the checks and balances that have gone so out of control lately. If that happens, it will be a great day. If that doesn't happen it will be because of voter fraud. These poll numbers are looking too decisive for the House to stay Republican. I believe it would take a major crime for that to happen, but major crimes are what this administration is all about.

It's up to the progressive liberals - the people who can see the inherent twisted meanness in sick weirdoes like Rumsfeld and Limbaugh - to hang in there for a couple of more weeks. It is disgusting to watch these GOP monsters release their toxic spew. It is downright nauseating, but it is necessary to endure it and not walk away, despite what your superior goodness tells you to do. Remember, history has shown that even the vilest of criminal enterprises eventually crumble and fall, and with any luck, the same will be true for the Bush administration.

A Profile of Gary Trudeau

Here's a long profile of Gary Trudeau, the cartoonist who came up with Doonesbury. I thought his greatest contribution was during Watergate, but the latest topic about American soldiers wounded in Iraq may change that. At any rate, it's a fascinating look at a major player in our society - whether he's comfortable with that role or not.
Doonesbury's War - washingtonpost.com

Big Brother: "It's Worse Than You Can Imagine"

I was talking with someone recently during my mini-vacation who said he was a computer expert. He obviously knew something about the computer business from the inside - data bases and the like. The person appeared credible although who really knows? The subject of the NSA came up and this guy said he had a family member who was also in the business, and who had been given a demonstration of the NSA data base as part of a pitch for some kind of system. They entered his relative's name and the NSA base came up with several choices. They entered his address and there was a display of tons of personal information, including who had lived there before. This was disconcerting enough but then they saw a flag on his data with some kind of phrase like "Propensity to commit a crime" or "Potential to Commit Crime". This was apparently based on a parking ticket that he had disputed. Welcome to the Jungle.

Humans, Whales, and the Gig of Life

I spent a lot of time this past few days at the coast thinking about gigs - the various activities we all do to survive - and what they do to our brains in return. The Inn at Otter Crest is a perfect place for this - especially when the sun is just coming up over the hills and catching the waves rolling in. I would go out there early in the morning before the restaurant opened and I would think about everything. You can't get a deeper perspective than staring at an ocean. It frees you immediately from the pompous strut of humanity. We really are mighty, egomaniacal, foolish beasts. In terms of surviving in the ocean, the human body is a pathetic joke.

Yet, we've invented ways of having the most power of any species in the world, by far. Humans have the brains to build ships, submarines and survival suits. We've got terrible powers without the sense to go with them. We're successful to the point where we can even harm something as vast as the environment. These are heady times for mankind - we're basically adding a billion more people every 14 years. Could you imagine a billion more whales turning up? However, we're also going to find out sooner or later what these terrible powers will do. Yes, we're powerful, but looking out on the ocean in the morning, it was impossible not to conclude that humans are really quite insignificant and small.

Plus we are not alone in terrible powers. For a sea lion a Great White shark has terrible powers, too. Ahh, the age-old problem of life - we all have to eat. That is part of the gig. Up and down the coast, creatures big and small were starting the day and thinking about sustenance. Either you were ripping a sea lion in half, or you were waiting for the restaurant to open. It was all the same.

The ocean makes another humbling point about humanity: These waves were crashing down before we showed up, and they'll be here long after we're gone. A narrow strip of the parking lot has crumbled - it has been fenced off and you can see where it fell down a cliff. Along the beach a few miles south, houses poke out near the edge of eroding cliffs. Trees stick out sideways as the ground they grow on gives way. The ocean does its work and yet we go right on thinking it's all about us. Someday the Inn at Otter Creast will be eaten by the ocean. We've all got to eat.

The vista makes another instant point: It really is an incredibly beautiful planet. We try and make it an ugly place with our cluster bombs and our depleted uranium, but looking out on Seagull Rock and the intense October waves crashing in, it was obvious that we will not be able to destroy the beauty of this earth - without destroying ourselves first. Many eons from now I suspect the waves crashing in will look every bit as magnificent as they did last weekend and all the mornings before humans arrived. The houses along the coast will be gone - maybe in a million years, or maybe later this morning, depending on the earthquake-tsunami scenario. The waves will still be there.

The next great subject that I contemplated was the whales. I've been to the coast and seen a whale. I've been to the coast and seen several. But I never saw them like this. We pulled over at one of the viewpoints and within 5 minutes of arriving we had spotted a spout and seen a big back and a tail. Next at Cape Foul Weather, we saw another one towards the South and then spotted one out of the gift shop window. I even just happened to see one in a quick break in the trees along the highway as we were driving south.

At Otter Crest there was a whale that didn't seem to move more than 500 yards in 3 days. They call them residential whales but I suspect we had a slacker here. By the way, that is the kind of whale I would be. Migrating from Baja to Alaska? Sure, maybe once. But then I would settle into a nice groove off the Oregonian coast. I got so I started identifying with this giant beast, and each trip out to eat at the restaurant made it more real. The last morning we were there I couldn't see the spout. The incredible weather had finally turned gray and the spouts were hard to see. I felt sad, like it was time to go home.

Seeing a creature this amazing in the wild is incredible of course, but being humans we start getting used to it. I won't say I was nonchalant about it, but sitting at the table in the hotel room I could look out and see three different whales hanging out for hours. I started wondering how they felt about it. How much joy were they experiencing day after day out feeding off the Oregon Coast? This was the starting point for thinking about gigs. What was the gig like to be a whale? Was it boring? Is that why they invented the whale songs - as a way to keep their spirits up and express themselves artistically? What was the daily, longterm gig like?

First, it's incredibly inefficient to live full-time in the water but need to return to the other world above to draw a breath. Sea lions do it, but they can take a break. They can get out and sun and breathe easily for a few hours. Those whales are out there 24-7, at night and in the worst storms. Every so often they have to propel their giant bodies to the surface - even in a hurricane - and draw some mighty breaths so they can go on living. Imagine if humans were driving and we had to pullover every few miles. It would be like having bus stops on the freeway of life. The whales are continuously being interrupted in what they are doing, just to go somewhere else and get a breath. I wondered if some of the dead ones that wash up, are just a result of not making it up in time to get that next breath. That is a flaw in the gig. Next, I will look at flaws in the human gig. For example, people can't go on blogging forever in the morning. At some point we must go out and get coffee. That is something whales do not have to face, but I do.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Back From the Coast

I'm back from the Oregon coast. My wife and I saw a lot of whales and the weather was great. I had a lot of time to think without writing 50 jokes a day, so that was good. I didn't bring my laptop and that was also helpful. I need to spend less time thinking about politicians and more time watching whales. It's too easy to forget how great the world is.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Birth of a Protest Song and a Time Out

It's time to stand down for a few days. As usual with me, it's not a matter of needing a break. It's more of a lingering concern that I don't want to stop. Sometimes you have to force yourself to walk away in the interests of your own mental well-being. Ahh, why be so dramatic? I'll explain later - sometime on Wednesday - what happened.

Plan A was to have a new protest song done, but that has been postponed. It's not like the old days when I would strike at any hour of the day or night. Back then I could rescue a wasted day at the last second, often turning on the recorder after midnight. Of course, some of those sessions were a little hazy, if you know what I mean. Hell, oftentimes they were just recordings of parties with whomever was around wailing away on vocals. I remember listening back the next day to one particularly rowdy version of "Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again" by Kris Kristofferson - who incidentally used to live at the Dhahran air base near where I was born in Arabia. I was butchering the lyrics in a drunken, stoned - although quite impassioned - vocal presentation. The words came out:
"I can see her in the faces and the burned out empty places in my mind." I always remembered that phrase: "The burned out empty places in my mind." And they say there's only one Bob Dylan.

Actually, Bob Dylan was in Portland the night I wrote these next lyrics. Talk about being pretentious - the greatest lyricist of all time is performing several miles away, and I'm sitting in my basement cranking out the words to this piece of crap song. Actually, this one is okay because it's honest. In a political climate that needs screaming about, all we're getting from this generation is bling. Where's the great protest songs? Vince Gill has a new one called "Take Our Country Back", but it's about taking country music back to its roots. That says it all, doesn't it?

Am I missing something? This past week President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act into law. It was the last piece of legislation rammed through because of the War on Terror. John Ashcroft recently said we must trust that President Bush won't misuse these powers - powers that basically mean he can arrest anyone at anytime without charges and hold that person indefinitely while torturing them. Listen, if you want to rely on trusting the all-powerful person in charge, then go live in a dictatorship. Or stay here. Same difference. Our system was designed to check the power of the people in charge, but that's all gone now. Put your trust in these people - are you crazy? The fact that they asked for these powers means they can't be trusted. It means they didn't protect the Constitution.

In a recent episode of the Born to Slack cable show, my co-host James Shibley and I finally put some original stuff together in real time. 130 episodes in, we finally winged some gold. Here are several points that I'll remember from that free-flowing rant:

1. The Bush administration loves to say the terrorists hate us for our way of life. The President also says 9/11 changed everything. What is really going on is that 9/11 didn't have to change everything - the Bush administration used 9/11 to change everything. If the terrorists hate us for our way of life, then changing our way of life is the same as appeasing the terrorists. If we really wanted to fight them, we would remain as free as before.

2. The macho-sounding tough talk of the right wing actually is incredible cowardice. They're saying we should be so afraid that we give up our freedoms, but what are we really afraid of? As I said on the show, "When you and your family get in the Suburu to go watch some Hollywood piece of s***, do you look at your wife and say,'Honey, which way should we drive to the theater today so we can avoid al Qaeda?'"

3. The fact is we're not really being threatened like villages used to be when the Vikings or the Roman Empire attacked. So we're giving up our freedoms for fears that aren't really that immediate. We're giving up our freedoms based on talk of being afraid. Contrast that with the generations before us - they really faced some serious situations and showed unbelievable courage.

4. This led to a riff of the concept of Liberty Sluts - giving it up too easy. And thus a protest song was born. I recorded one version, then I dumped it and started again. I wanted it faster because it just wasn't sounding angry enough. Here are the words. I'll be back on the blog in a few days:

Liberty Sluts

Why are you so scared?
You give your own freedom away
It’s painful to watch you
sell out the USA

What about the men who fought
on Omaha Beach?
You’re letting what they died for
slip out of reach.

It’s such a disgrace
and you’re so cowardly
You call yourselves patriots
but you’re the worst enemy

You’re Liberty Sluts. You’re giving it up.
Way too easily, you’re Liberty Sluts

The fate of a nation,
comes down to moments like this
but you don’t want the hassle
so you blow it off with a kiss
What about the men who froze
at Valley Forge?
Now you’re going to sell them out for King George?

You’ll never be safe if you’re no longer free
You should try growing a pair for Liberty

You’re Liberty Sluts
You’re giving it up
Way too easily,
You’re Liberty Sluts.

See you down the road.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bass Player For Life

I recorded music last night and I got pretty nostalgic because I revisited my original identity for a few minutes. Here's how that first came about: I got an electric guitar fairly early in life, and even played a gig at the tender age of 11 or 12 - I'm not sure which. Anyway, it was early, but I wasn't that great at it. I didn't take to it the way you're supposed to if it's meant to be. There were two other guitarists in my town who were terrific friends so I ended up switching to bass and joining their band. When I got my hands on a bass, the world became clear. Why pick away at some tiny little string with a little piece of plastic? You could get your hands on the bass and really get into it. I loved throwing the strings around, and I was a happy boy. Life was going to be easy.

Hey, I was good. There's no point in denying it now. I couldn't play guitar like the records but I could cover any rock bass line I heard. I would also throw in an occasional lead guitar lick on the bass for good measure. Life was like a movie and my path was clear. Incidentally, my idea of a great bass line involved all the traditional rhythmic foundation stuff, plus I liked the melodic high parts mixed in. One example would be "Ramble On" from Led Zeppelin. That has one of the best bass lines I've ever heard. Plus there was a Simon and Garfunkel song that had a major influence on me. It was the bass line from "The Only Living Boy in New York". I also really admired Jim Fielder of Blood, Sweat and Tears. By the time I was in college I was a professional-caliber rock bass player, who could have worked in any rock band that needed a bass. By the way, guitarists are everywhere, but good bass players were in much shorter supply, so my future was set.

Eventually I ended up in a trio of congas, harmonica and bass. That's it. We had to scramble to pull the sound off, and I would take a solo in virtually every song. One night I was at somebody's house and I was playing the piano to "Compared to What" along with the record and my wrist stretched. This would lead to a lifetime of problems - essentially my wrist was blown. I could no longer handle bass strings. Maybe for 5 minutes at a time, but when the wrist stretched it would take literally months to tighten back up. In short, I was screwed.

I switched to guitar and continued as best I could. It's been about 30 years since it all went down but my primary identity is still that of a bass player. I'm not whining about it - that's just what happened.

Last night I decided to play a bass line on the low strings of the electric guitar, and it was all still there. I just cranked the bass EQ and it sounds almost like a real bass. Hearing it back was quite a trip. My style exists as a complete product somewhere in my brain like a software program that is never used.

Of course, bass playing has evolved. The thundering thumb-slap technique has taken over, and the Jack Bruce school is less a factor. So my style is old school but it's legit. I asked my wife to come down and listen to the bass part last night - something I don't usually do. I told her the simple truth: "Do you hear the spirit in that line? That's left from when I was a bass player. See, I wasn't always a loser."
She heard it.

So last night was sort of emotional. I got to visit the real me, and I plan to do more now. It's ridiculous to struggle through these guitar parts and then nail a bass line off the top of my head, but that's how it is. All these years later, a bass player is still my core identity. Sure, I make a living writing comedy but let's call that what it really is: A joke. I'd trade it all in a heartbeat to be able to throw the strings around again.

Friday, October 20, 2006


This could be a weird problem or not.

From the Songbook of Zimmerman: Behold a New God

It's interesting how religions gang up in each other. Currently we have Christianity and Judaism squaring off against Islam, but if there was no Islam, the remaining two would turn on some other faith or each other. If there was just Christianity, it would break off into various sects that would also fight. In fact, that's already happened many times, but right now the fundamentalist Christians who gave us the Bush administration are currently focused on Islam. In that sense, we owe the Muslims for giving us peace between the warring Christian tribes, although it has played havoc among the warring Islamic tribes.

The key thing about religion is that it pays to have one. If you just say you're a spiritual person it sounds so new age. If you say you're an atheist they see it as communism. If you say you're a person of faith, you get automatic points no matter how insincere you really are. Just look at George Bush. His actions have about as much to do with Christianity as they do with 15th century ceramics. That is - not much. Yet, he sold himself as the Pastor-In-Chief, and that meant guaranteed support among the religious people who followed him. In fact, he's counting on Christians again to keep Congress Republican and allow him to go on ignoring Christian beliefs for another 2 years. It's obvious: Being religious gives you an advantage in life, and it gives you social standing and power. And the cool thing is all you really have to do is announce that you're religious. If it were based on deeds, President Bush wouldn't stand a chance.

So in this society religion sells even when you're selling out the religion. Thou shalt not kill? Help the poor? As quaint and out of date as the Constitution or the Geneva Convention. But talking about it can make you a big success. Talking about helping the poor and weak can make you rich and powerful.

That's why I've made a decision to answer all questions about my religion with a reference to the Bob Dylan song, "The Mighty Quinn". This is not New Age. This is Classic Rock. If I were being flippant I could say, "Upon this Classic Rock I will build my church" but that would be a mistake because it would be seen as making fun of Christianity and that is not what this is about. I repeat: I am not making fun of other religions here. I am just making use of my freedom of religion until that is revoked, which at the current pace could happen sometime next year. Why shouldn't I take advantage of religion? Our political leaders do it, and it sure works for them.

So who is Quinn? Quinn is an Eskimo, but he's not just another person. Quinn is mighty. That's why they call him the Mighty Quinn. Here, maybe I should let you read the lyrics:

Ev'rybody's building the big ships and the boats,
Some are building monuments,
Others, jotting down notes,
Ev'rybody's in despair,
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

I like to do just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet,
But guarding fumes and making haste,
It ain't my cup of meat.
Ev'rybody's 'neath the trees,
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
All the pigeons gonna run to him.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

A cat's meow and a cow's moo, I can recite 'em all,
Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey,
And I'll tell you who to call.
Nobody can get no sleep,
There's someone on ev'ryone's toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here,
Ev'rybody's gonna wanna doze.
Come all without, come all within,
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn.

Uh oh, I just heard another group of people have adopted these lyrics as the basis of their religion, too. Of course, where I just see them as funny and whimsical, I hear these people are deadly serious. In fact, they accuse me of worshiping a false Eskimo because to me the Cup of Meat line is just a line, whereas they believe Quinn should be worshiped with an actual cup of meat. Last I heard, they were coming this way, and they plan to kick my ass.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Lars Larson Interviewing Alex Jones? Strange Days Indeed

I don't usually listen to the radio in the evening but last night I flipped it on and heard the gruff familiar voice of Alex Jones, leading media presence for the 9/11 movement and founder of the Prison Planet website. The surprising thing was the other familiar voice - Lars Larson. Of course, Lars was being fairly dismissive of Alex and his spiel. The callers to Lars' show pointed out that Alex was talking like a lunatic, but the poor guy is just so wound up and frustrated that he can barely contain himself. He ended up begging the audience to check out his latest movie, "Terror Storm", for free on his website, and pleading with them to check into 9/11 and related issues.

Lars took a playful tack at one point asking how we could tell if Alex wasn't working for the government? This went on for a bit till Lars asked Alex if he had ever been visited by the Men in Black. That was standard - you had a controversial guest on so you ridicule him a little to keep your corporate credibility. I thought this drew one of the better and most heartfelt replies from Mr. Jones. He said that yes, the Men in Black do visit him but that most members of the government are patriots who agree with him and are secretly just as disgusted as he is by the criminal enterprise that is currently underway. I thought that set Lars back a little and it had the ring of truth to it.

They actually finished up in agreement on the immigration issue and the potential end of the sovereignty of the United States as a result of the lack of border enforcement. It is odd that an administration that talks so much about Homeland Security doesn't concentrate more on the borders. Of course, this group never really means what they're saying anyway, but it was a note of agreement between the radio host and his guest.

Hearing the interview, I felt a very unusual sensation. I actually felt grateful to and appreciative of Lars Larson. See, all the various "conspiracy theorists" want is a place at the table. At least, that's what they need most right now. They believe - and so do I - that if you really take the time to examine how America has changed and what it means, you will become aware of the dangerous times we are facing. Alex Jones is simply a man who believes his country is in grave danger and he's just trying to wake people up to it. In an age when mainstream media basically shuns anybody who has this sort of thing to say, I thought it was remarkably hip of Lars Larson to give Alex Jones a platform to voice his opinions.

I'm going to keep this in mind in a couple of months when Lars is back to his old ridiculous self - doing brave battle in the gravest threat our country has ever faced: The War on Christmas.

A Memo Portland Needs Right Now

It's official: When it comes to death by our police, there is now more of a chance for the family of an Iraqi citizen killed illegally by coalition soldiers in Bagdhad to get some justice, than there is for an American citizen to receive it in downtown Portland. At least in Iraq there is a chance of an indictment.

I'm not going to wade through the details of the James Chasse case. What happened here was obvious. The city's presentation to the grand jury was based on a description of events that the officer himself first denied. What more do you need?

To the people in charge of this town, here is some advice: I'm sure there are a lot of things about your jobs that you enjoy - the power, the prestige, the fun of being a big deal. But if that bargain comes with participating in something like this, it is not worth it. In fact, it is one of the worst deals you could ever make.

Now there is a silence as the stench of this recent decision hangs over the city. Why can't you civic leaders do something? You're bureaucrats for Christ sake. Can't you at least fire off a memo? I'll even help you write it, okay? Here goes:

"Dear Portland Police Officers, This is from the offices of the Mayor, the Chief, and the DA. It's come to our attention that some of you have been killing unarmed citizens. Now, just because you have gotten away with that in this city in the past, doesn't mean we want you to count on it. In the future we'd really appreciate it if you didn't kill anyone unless it was absolutely necessary. Yes, we know there are tons of rules and regulations and it's sometimes hard to keep track of all the details. But we'd really appreciate it if you tried to remember this one. In fact, the entire city would be grateful.

Of course, we're the first to admit that maybe we haven't stressed this enough lately, so we're instituting a new incentive program. If you're not involved in any blatant killings of unarmed citizens for a whole year, we're going to ask the council to give you one extra paid day off. I know it's not much of a display of gratitude, but it's a start.

Finally, we're also going to have human resources draw up some posters as reminders - maybe a little something you can put in your locker. They'll say helpful easy to remember phrases like, "Please Don't Kill the Unarmed Citizens - They Live Here Too." We'd also like to declare the first Friday of every month as "Don't Kill Any Unarmed People" day.

Now, this city has created a legal climate where police officers can kill citizens and never be charged, and it's something we could protect if it doesn't get out of hand. Lately, however, this exemption has been abused. We hate to have to complain to you as a group because it's always a few bad apples who make everybody look bad, so don't take this personally if you're not at fault. But we need you to work with us, too.

These recent cases like what happened to James Chasse, are just becoming too obvious. Do you realize how hard we have to work to concoct these stories to keep you out of court? What about our needs? Do you think we're not busy enough as it is? Do you think we like manufacturing or selling these ridiculous stories just because you go out and kill somebody? We're busy too, you know. So how about some cooperation?

From now on, if you kill an unarmed citizen in a dubious way, you will be required to provide an airtight cover story that makes sense. No more sloppy testimony that we have to work overtime to explain. All Portland Police officers must do their part and present a plausible explanation at the time the investigation begins. Here's a simple rule we want you to follow: If you can't justify it, try not killing the person. We understand that there still might be some questions but at least give us a version of what happened that we can work with. On some level, it has to make sense. We're serious about this. This last case made very little sense and that makes us all look bad. Frankly, if these were regular citizens kicking and beating someone, and he died, we'd indict them in a heartbeat.

Oh, who are we kidding? Some of you still won't get the message. Look, we hate being sticklers for discipline, but, need we remind you, if you happen to kill someone who isn't armed - in a way that a normal citizen would be charged with murder - it will end up being part of your permanent record. No exceptions. And that's not all. We hate suggesting this, but we may be forced to take legal steps. No, really. This time we mean it."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

And Thus the Hawthorne Rebellion Was Born

There were two articles in the Oregonian today that might encapsulate these times and what needs to happen right now if we're to save America. The first was about the CEO of some healthcare corporation who's leaving with a 6 million dollar bonus, 5 mill a year for life, and - oh yeah - over 1 billion in fancy stock options, that were backdated to maximize the greed factor. The other story describes how the small businesses of Hawthorne rose up against Sam Adams and his attempt to nickel and dime them for a little more revenue for the city. Sam wanted to install parking meters on Hawthorne. I was in Showcase Music the other day and I told the owner I had seen him talking about the issue on TV. What I heard from him and others working at the store was the same level of deep frustration and anger I hear from different people about the Bush administration.

Incidentally, the Detainee Torture bill that was passed back on September 28th - in what is being called the Day America Ended - was signed into "law" today. It is now called the Military Commissions Act to disguise the fact that the provisions can be used against ordinary American citizens. At this point, the President can arrest you and hold you indefinitely without habeas corpus, and - oh yeah - torture you for the rest of your life. It is legal now, so it's time to close the scrapbook on the American experiment. Unless....

When I see the government, even on a local level, try and jam a plan like parking meters on Hawthorne down our throats, the response gives me hope. This was an open rebellion and the People of Hawthorne spoke. Wouldn't it be cool if that same spirit rose up nationally and told President Bush where he can take these violations of our constitutional rights? We're tired of him working for these rich bastards like the wretched CEO with a billion plus in stock options, while this government grinds down everybody else.

Maybe we should get out front of this and market it. It's like that old Arlo Guthrie song: What we've got here is a movement in the making. Someday people could come from around the world to visit Portland and see where it all started. Visit the place where the Hawthorne Rebellion began - and went on to sweep the country and save the free world. These tourists could spend their dollars here, but one thing's for sure: If they rent a car and drive over to check out Hawthorne, they won't be putting any money in a parking meter. The People have spoken and that's not going to happen. And thus the Hawthorne Rebellion was born.

Review: Studio 60 on Sunset Strip

At the edge of the awards banquet he strode - one of the few people there besides me who didn't belong in a tuxedo. He looked edgy and nervous like a psycho loner walking off some kind of amphetamine buzz. The room was full of calm silver-haired men with deep tans - powerful handsome older gentlemen with their gorgeous young wives. The hyper man on the edge of the room didn't appear to fit, and in Beverly Hills where the valets can look like movie stars, he was a decidedly unattractive sort of person. But he more than belonged. This strange wired-looking guy represented the best of television writing. The banquet was the Producers Guild Awards and this was Aaron Sorkin, best known for the show "West Wing".

There was a time, according to show biz legend, when Sorkin - high on cocaine, mushrooms, and God knows what else, would hunker down in an expensive hotel suite and bang out some of the most compelling television ever. "West Wing" at its best was brilliant, and it was Aaron Sorkin who made it happen. There were usually two or three stories in each episode and there was nearly always an emotional climax to the most dramatic of the sub-plots that was stirring, surprising, and executed perfectly. Aaron was a foreshadowing god. He loved the witty, wordy dialogue of the show, but what he really excelled at was creating an hour-long tension that would often resolve itself with a multi-layered twist that made sense and could be downright inspirational. After he left the show, the difference was obvious. Sure, the same trademark moves were attempted but the results were usually out of whack. In short, Aaron could bring the television magic.

Now he's got a new show, "Studio 60 on Sunset Strip", and the hype machine has instructed us to find it hip. The Heartland has not taken to it, and that is explained away as the inevitable result of the show's profound bi-coastal sophistication. Maybe, but I think the Mid-West may be onto something. While the cast is strong, the new work seems weak. The great thing about "West Wing" was the incredible scope. The problems covered anything in the world so it was big and as bold as it wanted to be. Just hearing the theme song was more moving than most dramas.

The new effort is a behind-the-scenes look at an SNL-type show, so the drama is inescapably tied to sketch comedy. Frankly, watching the "genius" writer character struggle to come up with sketches is ludicrous. There's nothing that he produces that justifies his description as a great artist. Instead of West Wing-level issues like nuclear war, and assassination attempts, we have the tension of whether the weekend update bit is going to get them in trouble, or whether to cut the Nancy Grace parody.

Of course, it's still Aaron Sorkin. He still has the ability to engineer those climatic moments but they seem to overpower the subject matter. I believe one recent plot was about who wrote a question that was asked of a focus group looking at the SNL-type sketches. It was Sorkin-level execution but the gravitas the characters felt, did not extend to the viewing audience. Come on. A TV focus group's reaction to comedy sketches? You'd have to be demented to get too worked up about that.

Maybe it's because I think SNL - for the most part - is lame, was lame, and will always be lame. It could be my problem - I guess I'm just not a big fan of sketch comedy. Sure, if you take the best of the stuff during the golden era you had something, but I saw some of those shows the first time around. With comedy you don't get away with sucking for 15 minutes between good work. Call me a snob but I think most sketch comedy is horrendous. This new "Studio 60" show is in trouble - in my opinion - because the essential driving plot mechanism is whether or not the sketch with the lobster costume is going to come in long enough. After the greatness of "West Wing", it seems so insignificant. I find myself asking, "Who cares?"

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Portland Freelancer Gives Back

I've noticed a lot of good work done by people with noble hearts to help in times of great need. It is in that spirit that I am volunteering to go to Hawaii for 2 weeks to help with the earthquake. Just as soon as they get the placed cleaned up and stuff.

Bill Murray: Maniacs Abroad

Here's a perfect story for a Monday morning. Murray parties with Scottish students - Yahoo! News

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wake Up and Cringe: Election 2006

It's 5:45 on a Sunday morning, and I'm up worrying about Election 2006. No one can say I don't live the glamour. Once again, the situation calls for the #1 question in all of life: How weird is this going to get? The problem for me is that it's a collision between what I suspect rationally and what I believe emotionally. The big creature from the bottom of the swamp is going to come up to the surface in early November and show which one is right. I should add that the idealistic, emotional side of my brain is currently on an extended losing streak. I really just keep it around for old times' sake. Here are three ways this could go:

1. The American system will work, despite a severe battering, and the House and Senate will swing back to the Democrats. Even if it is just the House, this will allow some kind of impediment to the monsters who run free in Washington. This is my idealistic, naive, emotional best hope for what could go down here. The wisdom of our forefathers will come through once again and America will self-correct. By the way, I am fully aware of all the arguments that this still won't make a difference. America has been lost anyway. I've even read that the powers will allow it just to continue the charade of a constitutional America as they prepare to take this country further into fascism. We'll continue on into some new world order where the nation state is as obsolete as black and white TV. As you can probably sense, my idealistic side is not doing all that well these days.

2. There could be an October surprise in which Rove and company pull something so demonically clever that the forgiving public actually says, "These guys aren't that bad after all." The system works in the sense that democracy prevails even though it wouldn't have happened without some grand trick. I could accept that because in the final analysis you have to acknowledge the public's right to be stupid. That is the true threat of television, by the way - that with enough money and drama a vast amount of people can be made to believe in something that is diametrically opposed to their best interests.

In fact, that is Job Skill #1 for the Bush administration: The ability to manipulate lies to achieve the desired effect. When Karl Rove has a good day it is not because he helped the American People through good government. It is because he did something slick that put one over on the public. This is the high he has chased for decades and in 3 weeks he faces his last big injection. Of course, 2008 will be huge for him, too, even though W. won't be running. Rove wants badly to hand off to another Republican, but at least this team of cretins will be gone. That's part of our forefathers' wisdom not even these arrogant little jerks will try and ignore. I have to believe that anyway.

Of course, it's not just one slick move that Karl Rove celebrates when he gets his rush - when the high of another success courses through his unhealthy veins. It is the end result of 100 thousand moves. Make that 1 million. 1 million little plots to exert power and influence all designed to merge at the same time on Election Day. He's been working on this for years. In 3 weeks, we'll see the big cake come out of the bakery, and the icing will shine, and all the candles will be lit.

3. The Washington Post has an article about how confident President Bush and Rove appear going into this. I believe the phrase is "inexplicably upbeat." That brings us to the outer limits of the question: How weird is this going to get? One other phrase in the article sent a chill up my spine. The paper assumes their confidence is "based on Bush's and Rove's electoral record and knowledge of the money, technology and other assets at their command." Ahh, the technology at their command. I don't think we're talking about television anymore. The favorite word of Bush supporters is "debunked" as in, "Those stories about stealing the elections have been debunked." Never mind that a computer expert has appeared before Congress describing how a current Republican Congressman hired him to write a 51-49 voting-machine hacking code back in Florida 2000. The stories have only been debunked in the sense that the PR machine says they're not true.

Now we get to the scary part. I have often voiced my opinion that this country has been hijacked by an internal enemy - one that makes the terrorists look tame. This group of Neo-Cons is on a power binge to run the world. It sounds like a bad movie plot, but the rational part of my brain senses it is true. I also believe it is the trusting and basically decent side of the American People that prevents this from being seen for what it is. We simply don't want to believe it. This experiment in democracy has been so sweet that it's like a beautiful romance and we don't want to see the signs that it's almost done. We've had it good - better than any other group of people in the history of government.

Unfortunately, these last few years, we have returned to authoritarian rule - we have a dictatorship in which one man can essentially do anything he wants in the name of national security. To get here the Neo-Cons have had to do a bunch of horrendous stuff, including participate in 9/11. What? They would be involved in the murder of 3 thousand innocents? Listen, hundreds of thousands of people have died because of this group. Trillions of dollars have been stolen, and America, as we know and love it, has probably been lost. It's like waking up alone one morning, and that beautiful romance is done.

All this sounds a little crazy, but that's my rational - not emotional - reaction to what has gone on. My emotions do not want to believe this is true. I just want to wake up and have things back to where they were. I don't want to be up this early on a Sunday morning, but I'm worried. I suspect the elections of 2006 will be rigged, and this time - unlike 2000 and 2004 - it will be impossible to ignore. This will be blatant. Everyone will know it. The big creature from the bottom of the swamp will be staring us right in the face as if to say, "Whatcha going to do now?"

When the recent Mexican elections were rigged by the same company - the same people - who stole Florida in 2000, there were vast protests. I don't know what could happen here. I suspect that shortly after Election 2006, the American People will be forced to confront the vile corruption of the Bush administration like never before. The wretchedness will be out in the open and what happens next will be up to us. Karl Rove will be coming down off his high, and he'll be monitoring how well the crime went down - tracking how many people are in the streets. He'll probably be asking himself, "How weird is this going to get?"

White House Upbeat About GOP Prospects - washingtonpost.com

Saturday, October 14, 2006

American Arrogance: Where Does It Come From?

One of the most irritating responses from the early days of the Iraq War, was to the question of victory. From pompous geeks like George Will to flawed American heroes like John McCain the answer was the same: "We will win in Iraq because we must. Losing is unacceptable." That answer encompassed the fatal arrogance of the post-Cold War. It's a product of what Gorbachev calls "victor's syndrome." We have to get at the heart of our arrogance if we're going to coexist with other countries on this planet. Here's my take on what's wrong.

I think it comes down to our mountain of nuclear bombs. When we first realized we had the power to wipe any country off the face of the earth, it changed us. When the Soviets collapsed and we were the sole remaining super-power, the phony-macho chicken hawks went crazy from the excitement. The Neo-Cons took over, and their logic was simple: If we can end all life on earth, then we get to tell everybody what to do.

It is incredible how far this has gone. Not only do we sit on a mountain of nuclear weapons, but we spend much of our time preaching at others who might want them for themselves. There's not a hint of hypocrisy. Apparently ours are good Christian nukes while North Korea's would be in the hands of a madman who could attack other countries with a preemptive strike.

This is hypocrisy on a scale never before seen on earth. It has to be fueled by a religious zeal that God wants us in charge - why else did he give us the most nukes? Warnings about pride coming before a fall are ignored. The Neo-Cons feel that our destiny is to run the world, and the world is supposed to accept this, and go along. This is the heart of the arrogance. We put our bases around the globe, barely even thinking of how irritating it would be if - say - France put a base here. How would you feel if you had to go through French checkpoints to get on the 205? How about if your neighbor was speeding home from work one night and soldiers from the French base opened fire on his car as a precaution? It would be irritating as hell, if it happened to us, but it's assumed other countries should have to take it. More than that - they should appreciate it. We talk about freedom and the human spirit, but we don't factor in how humans really are. We're ignoring the human spirit that says, "Don't come here and boss me around. I hate it."

The craziest part is that we talk about spreading freedom as if what we're doing is winning us friends. Oh look, the automatic good guys are here! Do you sense an underlying ego-trip of gigantic proportions? It's as if we feel our mere presence is so wonderful that the locals should break into dance. We can't figure out why they don't love us for occupying them.

The trouble with basing your power on nukes is that you can't really use them. At least I pray these bastards don't plan on using them. It certainly is a possibility. If you feel you can strike out preemptively at anyone you wish, then mass murder with a nuke is just another corollary in the Law of the Jungle. But let's assume that somehow we get through the Bush administration without them dropping any nuclear bombs. That relegates the weapons into the category of implied threat and suddenly we're just fighting a conventional war on the ground in Iraq.

So how's that going? James Baker is now exploring the situation and the leaked draft talks about not being able to win in Iraq. A top British military general just said we have to get out. By the way the Brits have already gotten out. I believe they're down from 40,000 to 7 or 8 thousand troops, which is almost a symbolic level. What has happened is what always happens when arrogance meets up with reality. You don't just get to declare that you will win, and have it happen. I don't care how great you think you are. Pride takes a fall. We are now in the process of accepting that we're losing in Iraq. The other day President Bush said, "Stay the course means keep doing what you're doing. My attitude is, don't do what you're doing if it's not working; change. Stay the course also means don't leave before the job is done. We're going to get the job done in Iraq. And it's important that we do get the job done in Iraq."

Sometimes you lose because you can't win. Whether or not you accept defeat doesn't really matter. It's a defeat nonetheless. For a second there, President Bush slipped into reality, before going back to the dream of getting the job done. It was a momentary lapse but when the arrogance returned it sounded more like wishful thinking.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thought For The Day

Doesn’t it seem like Fox News will do anything to help the Republicans win the election? You know the words at the bottom of the screen? Well, lately they’ve been identifying President Bush as a Democrat.

Today's Trauma: The Accidental Outfit

There is nothing worse than an outfit on a man. That's my humble opinion, and if it's sexist, so much the better. I'll give you an example: Kim Jong Ill, the current leader of North Korea.
Yet today, through a dwindling supply of laundry, I was forced to wear clothes that actually match. It's quite humiliating, and believe me, the washing machine is on in the background so that ends soon. My wife was first to make a comment about my accidental ensemble: "That's quite a get-up you've got on." I don't do "outfits" and I certainly don't do "get-ups". There can be no connection or design theme in my appearance or I feel like I'm letting myself down. I feel like staying indoors. Unfortunately, life demands me to venture out, so all I can say is that I'm so glad it's autumn. At least I can throw on a scruffy old jacket. I would hate to subject my local coffee shop to an involuntary fashion statement. They don't deserve that and frankly, neither does Fred Meyer's.

I really get put off by seeing little kids wearing outfits. You know, when the shoes match the pants and shirt. Some even have little matching shades. It's a guaranteed way to screw up their values. Kids should be wearing a mishmash of whatever scraps their older siblings didn't destroy last year. Why? Because they're growing and won't fit in them next week. Then it's back to the mall for another outfit. I think kids should feel loved but not special in a glam way. That's a guaranteed path to a poor self image.

Outfits should be for adult women if they want them. I'm cranky this morning so if that sounds sexist, I don't care. Teenage girls are being harmed by this tribe of Paris Hilton bimbos, and it actually can kill them. 10% of teenage women who become anorexic die from it, so we're foisting this image thing on them, and it's ridiculous. It's a perfection pressure cooker. When I see some rich girl all blinged out in an outfit, it sort of makes me assume her head's messed up. We've got to start worrying about these images the Paris Hiltons of the world sell these vulnerable types.

At least with little kids, they are less impressed. They don't get it about the matching outfit - they just want to go outside and play in the mud. Their outfits are a symbol of our rampant materialism, but they're also the first inroads into their brains to train them to be obedient consumers by their teen years. I think the kids should be protected from the fashion industry for as long as possible - not have it projected onto them.

Now, adult women? That's who outfits are for - if they want them. But for a male comedy writer to have to venture out in a white shirt and faded yellow jeans, is just a crime against humanity. Especially with the white sneakers I got on sale a few weeks ago. I truly look ridiculous and I feel like carrying a picket sign: "This is not a fashion statement. It was a mistake - I am doing the laundry. This is an accidental outfit."

Of course, that would be an acknowledgment that I care what people think, and that's humiliating enough already. I'm supposed to be way too cool for that. Way too cutting-edge. The problem is this outfit makes it look like I care what they think. That's it. I'm okay with blending in, but the idea of someone thinking, "My God, he planned that" is sickening.

I wish there was a service that would just drop off coffee and the paper if you're having an accidental outfit day. If - through no fault of your own - you find yourself in a "get-up". I should not have to go out wearing these clothes. What the hell is wrong with this society?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Adam Morrison Lights It Up In Debut

I'm not going to dwell too much on what might have been. Not because it's time to move on, but because soon I believe everyone will know what a mistake we made not taking Adam Morrison.
Brandon Roy and Adam Morrison could have been the nucleus of a great new Blazer era, and we could have had both. I wish LeMarcus Dandridge a quick recovery from his surgery and I hope he has a long and noble career. But we could have had an impact star player who can score for days. Here's part of a news story from his pro debut the other night: "The 6-foot-8 Morrison gave the Bobcats instant offense coming off the bench. He scored 10 points in his first five minutes, including a fall-away 3-pointer at the buzzer to close out the first quarter. Morrison hit seven of his first 10 shots from the field, including two long-range bombs, and finished 7-of-14." The reason passing on Morrison was so stupid as a decision was that it made so much sense to take him on so many levels. If the Blazers had just gotten it right on any of them, we would be having a lot of fun following the new team. Imagine a Washington star like Roy combining with a Gonzaga star for a Northwest tandem? Okay, forget all the basketball sense this made. It would have been good business in a situation where a team is losing money. How many clues do you need? I hate seeing a bunch of executives getting big bucks to be dumb. Dumb should cost less.

"Tempting Faith" : How Karl Rove Played the God Squad

It looks like the Religious Right has to repent again, but they're good at that. A new book called "Tempting Faith" describes a White House that used evangelicals like cheap sluts and didn't even give them cab fare home. The author is David Kuo - the former #2 offical in the White House's Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. He claims Karl Rove's people viewed the evangelicals as vote-delivering whack-jobs. The deception's not much of a surprise, really. This White House lives to decieve.

I always suspected President Bush was just using religion to get off the booze, and the Christian rap wasn't real. He wasn't following in the steps of Christ - he was following the 12 steps. This became clearer when he got into office. Even basic tenets like "Thou shalt not kill" seemed to be inoperative, and rather than appear Christian, he now seems like the head of his own religion with the Messiah being himself. The only thing W. worships is power. How else do you get to be the living law of the land?

If we had to have a religious leader as President - and I think it's a terrible idea - too bad it wasn't the Dalai Lama. In that religion, they believe they have to come back, which is a damn good incentive to try and get the national debt under control. But if we have a religious president can we at least get a real one? Right now, we've got a phony Christian who hurts the poor and helps the rich. He also believes in preemptive strikes. The only genuine part of the Christian religion that he seems to be following is the belief in the end of the world. President Bush may actually be one of those twisted mean people who use religion because they can't deal with who they really are. They need to con society and themselves into thinking they are good so they present a holy person to cover up the wretched true nature of their tormented souls.

But why dwell on one individual? Let's leave President Bush out of it, which shouldn't be too hard. Let's say that he's a genuinely devout Christian man. Maybe he ignores the Bible the same way he ignores the Constitution - because Condi or Laura never got around to reading it to him. Let's say he's sincere when he says God told him invading Iraq would be a good idea. And maybe Jesus told him to give the downtrodden millionaires a break so they could become billionaires. But what about the rest of the staff? You know....the A Team as in A-holes?

The new book says Rove's people refer to the Christian leaders as the "nuts". Apparently being religious gives you a proclivity for being gullible, because Rove and his team of weasels played the religious crowd like street hustlers taking care of some easy marks. They might think they're doing God's work, but Karl Rove played them for suckers. And I don't care how blinded by the light you are, you have to take some blame for letting this happen. By now the Religious Right should have denounced these page-humping scum-bags for what they really are. Instead they continue to support the Republicans and make excuses for their horrific behavior. Maybe these celebrity religious leaders have fallen in love with the power themselves. Why else don't they denounce the doctrine of preemptive strikes and torture? I don't recall reading about Jesus torturing anybody.

The sad part is that the Religious Right sold out so cheap. They really only get the flash: The access, the meetings, the appearances. If the Supreme Court doesn't ban abortion outright, they'll know. In fact, they're beginning to wonder what's taking so long. But they still get those fancy meetings at the White House. Then after they go Karl Rove grins, knowing this was how he duped his way into power. He also knows these same lost sheep could still help win the next election. As long as Jesus tells them it's the right thing to do.

Crooks and Liars � Olbermann Exclusive: Dissecting new Book: Tempting Faith

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How to Get Hurt Doing Comedy

Alan King was on a TV show decades ago and made a joke about coal miners. The audience gasped in horror. Unbeknownst to him there had been a coal mining accident that day, putting his joke into the "Don't Go There" category. Sometimes you should know better. Recently Robin Williams was asked if he would ever run for office, during his media blitz to promote his new movie. He mentioned some politician known for his bad behavior and said compared to Robin's past, he made the guy look Amish. Folks, it might be 6 months before anyone should make a joke about the Amish. Yes, I know, they don't watch TV, etc...but right is right. I think Robin Williams made a mistake there.

Have I made mistakes? As a matter of fact, there's one going on right now, that could make for an ugly day tomorrow with the radio gig, and I'm powerless to stop it. One of the stories we wrote about today was a study that claims visits to ER during a big sports game go way down for men, and then right afterwards they are above normal. I mean if the point is that men love sports, I think we got that already. But this was the assignment.

I fired off a little "gem" saying that sometimes a group of men skip ER and go right to the morgue after a big game, but enough about the New York Yankees. First of all, the joke is slightly dated as tomorrow is Thursday, and the Detroit win was last weekend, but this was a monumental collapse. This actually does stick around, with A-Rod references and the whole bit. I mean what did A-Rod do? He had more runs in his pantyhose than anyplace else. Damn, I'm going to have to remember that one. Maybe not. That one could also cause problems.

Incidentally, I had already gotten hurt by believing all the New York sportswriters who said Joe Torre was gone. I made a joke that he may not be going to the World Series but he could end up on the World Poker Tour. That went straight into the garbage can, when Steinbrenner decided to retain the beloved manager. I mean it's ridiculous - I got burned betting that George Steinbrenner would fire someone. How can you go wrong on that? Still, that mistake was no big deal.

However, when one of the Yankee team flies his plane into a high-rise building in New York, you do not make a Yankee morgue joke and present it to the DJs the next day. Comedy is timing and I wrote the joke around 45 minutes before the event. The radio network could have killed it but the details probably weren't know by the time they put the sheet to bed, and sent it out to over 140 radio stations around the world but mostly in the United States.

I'm not worried about the stations in the other countries. The way the world hates us now, they might even enjoy it. But several things could happen tomorrow with some of the American affiliates that use the material in the morning commute, and none of them are positive. The best case would be the DJ just doesn't go there on his or her own. As you know you can always count on DJs to show terrific judgment - NOT! The second level would be that the stations would call us sick bastards for sending this, and cancel the service. That would definitely irritate my bosses. Every now and then they relay an angry email they get when we did something unforgivable like make fun of Cher. There is a radio person in the Mid-West who is a huge Cher fan. After one joke I wrote about her - let's just say if he ever got his hands on me, I would have less original body parts than Cher herself.

The third thing that could happen is that the DJ could read the joke on the air, causing all kinds of bad reaction. The nightmare scenario is the station making apologies, and the DJ getting fired. It's unlikely but it does happen. If you follow the wacky news, you know there is a regular stream of DJ pranks and comments leading to trouble. It is what they do, and the trick is not to go too far.

Sometimes that's hard. One thing I know for sure: When I wrote that joke it never crossed my mind that one of the team I was making fun of was going to crash a plane into a New York building an hour later. That also qualifies as buzzard's luck, but it does show how you can get hurt doing comedy.

Here's a Bad Sign - I'm Writing Songs Again

You know things are going badly when I start writing songs. I've probably written around 130 tunes and I look back on the early stuff and come to several conclusions: 1.) I made the right decision to quit marijuana, and 2.) There is nobody as pretentious as a young song composer. Once in a while, I see an old verse and get a mild little kick: "We can go on, just the way things stand, splitting the rent, but would you want a man, performing for you like an actor in a play? Would it be a good scene then? Would you be swept away?"

I do admit if I ever won Powerball I would spend a fortune to track down major artists and hire them to record one of my songs or another. I have a song that Smokey Robinson could tear up - like that's going to happen. This is just a personal little dream of mine. When famous songwriters die and the obit lists their lasting contributions it's always pure magic - the best sort of life. More than a film or a book or a statue, the idea of leaving behind a high-impact song really sends me. By the way, do you know who else here in town is a secret songwriter? John Callahan, the cartoonist. He's told me some of his lyrics and as you would probably suspect, they're amazing.

I once was present when Mel Torme rehearsed a band he was performing with that night, and it was quite an experience. Yes, he was demanding, and the scores had extra notes written on them in pencil which made it somewhat difficult for the musicians. He even said to one trumpet player, "If you can't play it, give it to someone who can." Awkward! But the thing that knocked me out was thinking, there's the guy who co-wrote "Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire." How many composers bang out a Christmas classic?

Of course, I never found a way to get my songs recorded right. It helps to be a music star yourself, and there's nothing like sitting out in a crowd watching someone like Paul McCartney, or Paul Simon go through his song catalogue. Could you imagine being a songwriter/performer like Carole King and know everyday of your life that the Beatles recorded one of your songs, "Chains"? Or Aretha Franklin, although I doubt I could have written, "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman". Imagine the composers out there who had a song recorded by Sinatra or Elvis? Wouldn't that just rule?

The "Chestnuts" song - also called "The Christmas Song" - was recorded by Nat King Cole. So I was looking at a person in Mel Torme - a monster singer of his own - who had written a classic recorded by Nat King Cole. Ridiculous.

Admittedly, I don't bang out any holiday songs. And as much as I love my wife, after you're married a while, you don't hop up in the morning and say, "Honey, today I'm going to write you a love ballad!" The only thing that still moves me enough to write a tune is politics - the sorry state of America. The awful, worrisome, tragic, frightening slide this country is taking into fascism. Sorry, but if there's anything roasting on an open fire now it's probably a torture victim. We are in deep, deep trouble, folks. How does the song go, "It takes a worried man..."?

So yesterday during my walk up Mt. Tabor, I banged out a new tune, "Whatever Happened to Liberty?" Here's a verse: "Why are you so scared? Don't you still want to be free? You want to be safe, so you're giving up your liberty? What about the men who froze at Valley Forge? Now you want to sell them out to King George? You'll never be safe, if you're no longer free. Whatever happened to liberty?"
Now if I could just get Pete Seeger to record it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Organized Religion and the War on Terror

I am not writing this to offend anybody. The only reason I care about organized religion is because of the threat it poses to our survival on planet earth. Even the fact that many people in this country believe in Armageddon, doesn't really bother me. Sure, I think it's defeatist and sort of weird, but what bothers me is that one of them currently has his hand on the nuclear button and could make it happen. I don't think anybody who believes in the fiery end of the planet should be given that power. To me that's like giving an arsonist a can of gasoline and a book of matches. It doesn't help that the person involved - President Bush - has proven to be such a malicious screw-up. When I was young, World War 3 meant the end of the world. We now have a leader who believes World War 3 has begun.

The Religious Right is running the Republican Party, and that's too bad. One of the classic dumb interviews our esteemed President gave was with Tom Brokaw about what Iraq's future government should look like. This was back before the real situation there became apparent. President Bush said that Iraq must have separation of church and state. See how stupid that is? Everyone can spot the dangers in having someone else's religion run the government, but when it comes to theirs, it's just fine. Religion and politics is a lethal mix.

All this is not what has me up so early on this cold Fall morning, with a space heater to warm my basement office. I've been thinking about how the War on Terror uses the playbook of organized religion to manipulate the public. Let's face it, organized religion in most cases is driven by fear. We are not being good for goodness sake, as Santa Claus would want it. No, we are being good because we don't want to spend eternity in hell, and we are warned over and over again that this fate could happen if we're not careful.

Isn't it interesting that a political party dominated by the Religious Right is now using the religious model to sell the War on Terror? First, the public must have the hell scared out of it. If you don't pay attention to this threat we're facing, the evildoers will come to your house and behead you. Second, there is only one way to fight them - and that is with the Republicans. That mirrors the tenet that there is only one way to salvation. Third, to compensate the ones who are going to save you, you must give up some of your money to the collection plate or give up some of your liberty to the authoritarian rulers.

The next comparison might offend some of you, but frankly, some of you offend me. Religion involves a lot of spin. I mean a lot of spin. That is how two different versions of the "truth" often are generated, leading to fun religious differences like with the Shia and the Sunnis. It's always so heart-warming when people who worship the same basic version of God, kill each other over the smaller details. That is evidence of the spin becoming a nasty, lethal reality. The Protestants and the Catholics have a similar dynamic, as seen in Northern Ireland. Spin leads to violence. Spin is used to sell religion, and spin is used to sell the Bush administration.

Now for the truth. It's always interesting when people keep saying they are telling the truth. If it's really true, they shouldn't have to keep insisting on it. I've often felt that when President Bush tells a lie, it is much more than just a simple lie. Somewhere deep down inside, he believes it is actually true, simply because he says it is true. He has that power because he is a godly man. It is very similar to the way religious people believe something, as if the ernest tone with which they say it, and the endless number of times they repeat it, makes it real.

Remember how they sold the need to get Saddam? Endless repetitions about 9/11 and the weapons of mass destruction. To the congregation - in this case, viewers of the FOX network - it became the truth, and remains so to this day. For them, it is true because they believe it. The telling part was the intense way Republicans reacted when they were challenged with the facts. There was an element of "How dare you?" It was like when you challenge someone's religion. These things become true to the person in a similar way as faith. Any implication that the information is not accurate leads to a dramatic outburst. The War on Terror and the War on Iraq were sold with spin, just like an organized religion is sold with spin: "You don't want to spend eternity in hell, do you?" "You don't want the first sign we were right to be a mushroom cloud, do you?"

One final point: When I was young, I would go to a chapel and see an 8-ft crucifix with a realistic, life-sized statue of a human body that was being brutally tortured to death. Isn't it interesting that the people who were raised looking at that every Sunday, have now legalized torture?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sports Round-Up

This is the best time of the year. The weather is cinematic, and the sports are legendary. Here's a few observations from this weekend:
1. The New York Yankees have made it home. Detroit is a long way when you're hitchhiking.
2. Here's a safety tip if you're standing on a dugout with a bottle of champagne, getting ready to spray people. Do not take the wire off without covering the cork with a towel or at least your hand. That cork can shoot out of there at any moment with enough velocity to take someone's eye out. I hate to be a downer but safety always comes first.
3. Terrell Owens was wide open all game and Dallas didn't get him the ball. No wait. Make that, "His mouth was wide open all game." After that performance, I bet Donovan McNabb said, "Skip the chunky soup. We're going out to eat."
4. The Oregon Ducks played a terrible game. The only guy who enjoyed it was the booth official from the Oklahoma game. He was watching at home, and he had the Ducks ahead by 21.