Future Corpse

Cake, please.

18 November, 2006

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go....

No offense to the fine folks at Google, but I'm jumping ship and heading over to Wordpress to continue the dreaded drop-in-whenever-the-fuck-I-feel-like-it style of blogging.

I've played around with Wordpress a bit for the past two days and I think it's a little better. It has better features, and the template choices are a bit more varied and a bit less ..ahem.. garishly pink.

Here is my new address: http://futurecorpse.wordpress.com

And here is a direct link

Many, many thanks to all who've read, commented, and e-mailed and I hope you'll come visit the new place.

11 November, 2006

Letting Go of the Anger (keeping the sarcasm)

I wish I were a listmaker and had kept count of the grievances I've had about the Bush administration over the years. It would be interesting, in these heady first days of lame duckacy, to revisit and reflect on it over a nice bottle of wine for a few hours. Most certainly it would have been a long list.

If I had to choose just one, I think it's the rudeness that has always peeved me the most. All of them, with the exception of Condi Rice, are appallingly lacking in the social graces.

Below is a link to video of George W. in 2000 on the David Letterman Show. In it, he is taking his customary liberty with peoples' personal spaces to a ridiculous end by wiping his glasses on a show staffer's jacket during a commercial break.

He doesn't ask permission, let alone even acknowledge the woman. And the blank look on his face indicates that there was absolutely no consideration whatsoever that this woman might consider an oily patch of George Bush DNA on her jacket repulsive. Which, I shudderingly hasten to add, it is.

Classy guy!

And here's cuddly old Dick cheney waiting to catch the bus to a Bears game:

Wait, no, I'm sorry. That is Dick Cheney while he is REPRESENTING AMERICA at a ceremony of international leaders gathered to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of AUSCHWITZ. Somber and oozing with respect, huh?

To be fair, though, his fancy knitted cap is embroidered: "Staff 2001". Siiiiigh. You'd think, wouldn't you, that at least Lynnn would have had some innate sense of decorum to take Dick aside and tell him that he was dressed a bit innappropriately. And like an asshole. But clearly not. For fuck's sake, what is wrong with these people? Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't add that shooting one's friend in the face is also a bit of a faux pas.

In the latest example of Bush Admininstration rude thoughtlessness, we have Donald "Mr. Condescending" Rumsfeld from a few days ago. These are his parting words to us about the Iraq war during his deliciously uncomfortable farewell press conference:

"It is not well known, it is not well understood, it is complex for people to comprehend"

Oh Donald, now that's just plain mean. I'll grant you that we were dumb enough to elect George W. Bush twice, but it's unfair for you to take the next leap and assume that average citizens are a bunch of window licking retards. If you'll recall, you creeps gave us at least 4 different reasons for going to war in Iraq and most of them turned out to be absolute lies. And the one that you've decided to stick with is proving to have a rather lofty and unnatainable finish line. Yet whenever we ask you to explain to us once again, pretty please, why we're over there, you get defensive and irritated and insinuate that we must want the terrorists to win.

What nerve you have to blame the American people for failing to understand the war when it's your fault that we don't. How can we possibly understand when we've never been told the truth?

You, and the rest of those barnyard animals you call an administration, have a very bad habit of blaming everyone but yourselves when things go badly. And it's for that very reason that voters came out in droves and you were so deservedly stripped of your power. 'Cos, see, we may be stupid, but we're not that stupid.

08 November, 2006


As shitty as things have been on planet Earth of late, it's really quite a magnificent time to be alive in America right now. The crushing lows and the sweeping highs that roll, dip, and wash over us in waves (of amber grain - I swear, it's amber fucking grain!), gives one a sense of what living with manic depression might be like.

Many of us are in in a full-blown manic state this morning.

Being at best sarcastic, and at worst, curmudgeonly, I rarely begin sentences with the words "I am bursting". But there's just no better way to put it. I am simply bursting with faith and pride in America today. Once again, we have hope.

As I type this, C-SPAN is drifting in from another room, and I can vaguely hear a press conference featuring a conservative group who are angrily expressing their disappointment in the Bush administration. I just padded over to the TV and saw their faces all pinched and bitter. They are seriously pissed off.

I guess it's now A-OK to come out and lay the fuck right into George W. Bush. It's funny how that works, ain't it? Even Rush Limbaugh has turned on Bush. He said on his show today that he feels liberated by the trouncing because he no longer has to "carry the water" of those who he feels don't deserve to have their water carried. My my my!

There will, in the coming days, no doubt, be many more attacks on Bush for betraying the cause of conservatism. But it's all just self-serving snivel by people who've put all their eggs in one philosophical basket.

George W. Bush betrayed America. And the people and groups coming out in droves to denounce him now should be held accountable for their dishonesty and their patriotism should, as happened to so many who dared speak out against Bush from the start, be questioned!

September 11th was the defining moment of America's future. But Bush only saw it as the defining moment in his life; his God-given destiny to become the next Lincoln. There was hope for positive change and renewal after the attack and the chance to make us better. But he wasn't smart enough to see it, nor humble enough to imagine that bringing about a quiet revolution could be just as glorious as trying to achieve it through tanks and guns and force.

So instead, he made us ever aware of our fear, and pitted us against each other. And we voted for him again. And Iraq became the problem it was destined to become. And hope dwindled.

And last week, Dick Cheney said that it didn't matter what the public thought about the administration's plan to continue "full speed ahead" in Iraq because they weren't running for office.

Such astonishingly naked arrogance from a charmless, malignant prick. But the American public have stood up to it.

Conservatives in high numbers, people who voted Republican their entire lives, either abstained or voted Democrat or Libertarian. Young people, also in high numbers, sensed the importance and came out to the polls. In Michigan, it was the highest voter turnout in a non-presidential election ever.

We The People are paying attention and the Democratic process worked. And again, we have blissful strands of hope to cling to. Unfortunately, we also have two more years of Bush.

I have no illusions that he'll learn any lessons from this and that he will put America's needs over his own need for political surival. But at least we've got some brakes on the locomotive. It says a lot about the state of this country that that alone is worthy of wild celebration.

14 August, 2006

Four people in the world regularly think about these tennis shoes

The guy who owns them.

The guy who threw them up there.

The grounds-keeper who's got them on his to-do list.

And me.

13 August, 2006

Bitch on, Brother.

Al Gore can suck it. And so can you, Laurie David (no matter how much I love your husband).

More and more are climbing aboard the Global Warming Express Train to Doom and Annhilation. The dumb twattery shows no sign of abating.


People, just because we think we're a big deal, doesn't mean nature agrees with us.

Here are the words of a great American thinker, Howard Bloom:

There's a simple fact we all ignore, just like we ignore the fact that war is in our genes and that our egos are gene-products.

There have been 144 mass extinctions of species on this planet that we can count and probably many many more that we can't count. There have been periods in which the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was 200 times what it is today. There have been ice ages and periods of flood that have turned the continents into marshes. In other words, drastic change is nature's way of doing things especially when it comes to weather.

So we make a big mistake when we assume that by lowering our insignificant carbon emissions we are going to bring about climatic stability. The climate of this planet has very seldom been stable, it has dived and soared from cold to hot.

So our task is to prepare for change. Change is what made us human to begin with. Your ancestors got you here by making it through over 20 ice ages.

He's right. We've got to just relax and, as Reo Speedwagon advised, roll with the changes. Because nothing we (yet) do is going to best -or worst- nature.

Howard Bloom

Big Bang Tango

12 August, 2006

Terrorists: 1 | Maybelline Wearers: 0

George Bush in October of 2001:

"The object of terrorism is to try to force us to change our way of life, is to force us to retreat, is to force us to be what we're not. And ... they're going to fail. They're simply going to fail. I want to assure my fellow Americans that our determination ... has never been stronger to succeed in bringing terrorists to justice, protecting our homeland. This is our calling. This is the time for us to act in a bold way, and we are doing just that".

Random American citizen in August of 2006:

At the airport in the immediate aftermath of the foiled terrorist plot, she's using her favourite lipstick one last time before relinquishing it to the bin liner held by that Kapo in capri pants (who, if I may digress for a moment of snark, is wearing a face that evokes such hostility in me that it makes me wish a little bit that that passenger actually had turned her tube of Shimmering Coral Passion into an explosive device).

From an AP Report:
"I've just spent 20 minutes in the middle of an airport trying to repack my bags. I've had to sort out my money, my wallet and my possessions," said New Yorker David Hailes, flying from Edinburgh airport. "At the moment I'm not happy, but I can see the point of it. We can't let these people win."

In the countless quotes I've read from travellers since 9/11, any expressed outrage over an inconvenience is almost always softened with "...but I understand." I fear one day I shall read: "Well, the anal examination was uncomfortable and emasculating, but I totally understand why they needed to look inside my ass."

Do we really understand?

I'm not sure we do. I think we average citizens understand very little about the conflict we are involved in, and how we are addressing it.

And no effort has been expended by our government to help or encourage us to understand. Because if we did, we might dare to question the folly of airport security as it currently exists.

You and I know that woman isn't going to use her lipstick as a weapon. Even the stone-faced bitch holding the bag knows she isn't going to use her lipstick as a weapon. So all the wasted time, energy, expense, and the confusion and fear that results from it is nothing more than perverse theatre that accomplishes little.

Has a terrorist been plucked out of the inspection line at an airport ever? I have never heard of it happening. And one would think that if it did, the news would be shouted far and wide from the hills, so proud would the airlines be that their system does something more than just irritate and inconvenience their paying customers.

09 August, 2006

New Toy (oh ee yo)

Ladies and Gentlemen, as the newest member of your 21st Century, I'd like to ask your indulgence in allowing me a moment to say a few words about a beloved old friend: My 35mm camera.

We shared some good times, my Minolta and I. I am forever indebted to it for it's sharp focus, it's operational simplicity, and it's endless hours of darkroom creativity.

But, as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Please know, Minolta SLR, that I resisted the call of the newfangled for as long as I could. I was, and still am, your champion. But I can no longer go on pretending that you fulfill my needs.

The truth is that my needs have changed. I have changed. And you haven't.

I've been seeing another camera.

*cue Sarah Mclaghlin's 'I Will Remember You'*

(here's where an evocative display of pictures I've taken through the years should go, but my scanner isn't working. And since I don't feel like hauling my carcass down to Kinkos to get prints scanned, I guess ceremony can go fuck itself.)

Here are the first fledgling captures of my new digital camera.

7:00 AM this morning. The creepy handiwork of multi-legged beings:

7:45 AM. Still life with quarter, ink pen, 5 pound barbell, & two dogs kvetching on a coffee cup:

The camera was a very generous gift. I'm tight-wad-inclined and probably wouldn't have bought myself one for another year or two.

I like it, except for one major complaint: I absolutely despise focusing through that monitor.

The intimacy between photographer and subject is lost in the digital age. With a manual, ie "real" camera, one eye is held tight against the view finder and the other is squinted closed, which shuts out everything in the whole world. The only thing that exists in that moment is what's in the lens.

Digital cameras are like mini-TVs. And every passer-by can stop and watch with you just by hovering over your shoulder. Such an invasion!

But...there is always a sacrifice for convenience, I guess.

And just think, in a few short years, we will meet young people who won't know what a "negative" is.

turn, turn, turn...

06 August, 2006

A fascinating story that sits quietly, waiting to be told

Thanks again to the Internet, I've stumbled upon the existence of a man from the recent past whom I had never heard of.

His name was Michael Brody and, according to a BBC documentary that devoted a few seconds to him, he was a young American millionaire who, in 1970, announced he was going to give all his money away.

The film aired a portion of an interview he granted in which he explained his reasons:
"Money is the least thing I'm giving away right now. What I'm giving away is good feeling to mankind.

Like, if you wanna do anything, I mean, if there are any murderers out there, if you want to stab somebody in the throat, don't stab the person you're stabbing in the throat. Call me and put me in his place. I'll die for you."

The film freezes on a close-up of his face and text appears on the bottom of the screen. It tells us that he later went on to commit suicide.

It was quite a compelling bit of footage and I paused the film to do an immediate web search for this young man. I found very little. But what I did find out was so shocking that I can't believe there's been zero effort to document his life.

After all, a life that includes inheriting a fortune, stints in mental institutions, making threats against Nixon, burning down your (rented) home, an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, and a self-inflicted rifle shot to the head at age 24 is a life that is probably worth a closer examination.

Happy Birthday, Elliott Smith

there's nothing here that you'll miss
I can guarantee you this
is a cloud of smoke

He would have been 37 today. The brave, beautiful man who, at a time when everyone else was screaming and pounding their fists in rage, was sitting alone, quietly pulling his rib cage apart, laying bare his heart and soul in soft, bleeding whispers.

sunshine, been keeping me up for days
there is no night time, it’s only a passing phase
and i feel pretty, pretty enough for you
i felt so ugly before, i didn’t know what to do

He was just a man. But oh, the music that man created...

Happy birthday, sweet Elliott - and, as ever, thank you.

03 August, 2006

1000 freakin' % humidity

The past few days have been insufferably hot.

You go outside from the mildewy comfort of cold, manufactured air, and immediately a thick, sticky swarm of humidity rushes at you, encircling and clinging to you like a gang of poor native children mobbing a fat tourist at a posh beach resort.

The air is so wet and heavy that everything I see looks like a Cybil Sheppard close-up on Moonlighting, all soft-focus and fuzzy. It would be beautiful if I weren't so god damned irritable.

And lethargic. The only thing I've had the energy to do is lay down and blink.

The one positive about these humid spells, is that a raging, torrential thunderstorm with gusting winds eventually forms, blowing all the nastiness away like a forgotten scandal.

The winds have started. I stepped out for a cigarette earlier and the air was slightly lighter. The northern sky was dark and cloudy and bolts of heat lightning were zapping every few seconds, a weather phenomenon I was able to appreciate properly thanks to the lifted oppression.

And naturally, my thoughts drifted to Mel Gibson.


By all means, I should be dancing in Schadenfreudestical glee about the spot of bother he has landed his Passionately Catholic arse in.

But I just ain't feeling the fury.

Not that I don't want to join in the fun of hurling a few stones at a weakened Goliath, of course, but I think it's a waste of energy. I don't believe he will suffer true backlash from this.

For one thing, he's anchored in Christ. The Christians know he's a brethren, they LOVE him for that fucking movie and what it has done for their Lord, and they are all about forgiving a lamb who's lost his way.

Plus he's got oodles of money, his still-strong movie star image, and a whole team of handlers and PR douchebags willing to do/say almost anything to keep his name as untainted as possible, and themselves in his employ.

Many in the print media appear to be sympathetic. Susan Estrich, in a column on the Fox News website, ended her article on Mel by saying, "He still looked good in that mugshot." (the serious journalist's equivalent of: "I <3 Mel 4-ever!").

The one aspect of this I am most interested in is whether the major Hollywood film makers, producers, and studio execs (mostly Jewish, as I understand) will stand by him. If all the behind-the-scenes accounts written by bitter Hollywood insiders are true, then I think money would be the deciding factor on that one.

If the public doesn't abandon Mel, Hollywood won't either.

And I don't think he's going to lose his audience. A gossip blog recently posted this article about Mel Gibson's negative comments about homosexuals. Here is a reader's comment:

"Mel's offences continue to mount, and I continue to not care; I love him anyway. I think I'd have to witness Mel kick puppies and set kittens on fire before, in my eyes, his image could be tarnished."

That sort of devotion is reminiscent of the people who continually turn a blind eye to George W. Bush's fuck ups.

He is an actor and knows how to elicit a desired reaction. He's already issued a couple very convincingly heart-felt apologies. When he gets out of rehab, he'll meet with some Jewish leaders, maybe donate money to a Holocaust foundation, and then appear on The Tonight Show, remorseful & sincere, and Jay Leno will, just as he did with Hugh Grant, toss a few softball questions and crack a few light-hearted jokes to ease the tension.

America was able to bounce back (as it were) from the shock and horror of Janet Jackson's breast. I think we'll recover from finding out one of our Hollywood icons is a bit of a racist prick.

After all, it isn't a crime to be an asshole.

02 August, 2006

Things are looking up.

This is an article that makes me feel optimistic (also slightly uncomfortable as it is a revisiting of the shame and embarrassment I felt over my country being really fucking STUPID!).

And something else really good happened. Truly something to celebrate.

But, sadly, we ain't out of the woods yet.

31 July, 2006

Does this make my bum look 200 million light years wide?

If you (or your ladyfriend) constantly whinge about the size of a particularly troublesome body part, you (and she) can relax. The most massive object in the universe has been found, and it's not jiggling in any bathroom mirror.

From Space.com:

An enormous amoeba-like structure 200 million light-years wide and made up of galaxies and large bubbles of gas is the largest known object in the universe, scientists say.
The galaxies and gas bubbles, called Lyman alpha blobs, are aligned along three curvy filaments that formed about 2 billion years after the universe exploded into existence after the theoretical Big Bang. The filaments were recently seen using the Subaru and Keck telescopes on Mauna Kea.

The galaxies within the newly found structure are packed together four times closer than the universe's average.

Some of the gas bubbles are up to 400,000 light years across, nearly twice the diameter of our neighboring Andromeda Galaxy. Scientists think they formed when massive stars born early in the history of the universe exploded as supernovas and blew out their surrounding gases. Another theory is that the bubbles are giant gas cocoons that will one day give birth to new galaxies.

Some of the gas bubbles are 400,000 light years across. It's just...inconceivable.

Someone I know once told me she has panic attacks whenever she thinks about how big the universe is. My stomach kinda goes funny when I think about it, too. Especially when thinking about something bigger that our universe might be inside of.

In the immortal words of Kelly Bundy, the mind wobbles.

Dizzy now. Must lie down.

30 July, 2006

The End Of The World - in flash animation

Hokay...so here's this.

It's from a few years ago and it popped into my head just last week and I wondered how I could find it again. And then I literally stumbled upon it tonight. Weird.

It's still funny.

The website that is hosting it did not create it. So if you know who the artist is, drop him/them a line.

29 July, 2006

Say it with me: Spoooooooon, spooooooon

A group of work colleagues and I were discussing a strange and wonderful thing this morning. It's something that each of us has experienced, but no one could think of whether it has a name or not.

I kinda hope it doesn't have a name. It shouldn't have a name.

We were discussing what happens sometimes when you repeat a particular word a number of times and how it becomes meaningless; nothing more than a grouping of random letters.

It usually happens with an everyday, ordinary word. Take 'spoon'. You say it enough times and it starts to sound funny.

It's a quirky little phenomenon and it always makes me laugh when it happens.

Believing, as I do, that life is random and that there is no vast guiding hand at the controls of the rock on which we spin, when I experience those tiny moments where my brain loses all personal connection to a word that had previously meant something, it reinforces my view that everything on this planet has meaning only because we have chosen to give it.

A very good friend of mine who is a staunch believer in God is terrified by the idea that there could be no ultimate meaning in this world. To think we are alone and adrift is intolerable to her.

I feel the exact opposite.

How does one find comfort in the idea that a god, with some mysterious "plan" that he's not sharing with any of us, is orchestrating events in our universe? Sitting on his cloud, one hand on his chin judgementally, the other hand pointing out who shall live and who shall die, what village shall be obliterated with a mud slide, what town shall be bathed in 70 degree sunshine.

In my eyes, it's better to be powerless under the arbitrary, callous laws of nature than powerless under an easily-offended god prone to mood swings (after all, even He admits he's jealous, angry, & vengeful, as well as loving and merciful..).

Is it really so scary to think we're alone? That when we die, we simply fade to black? And a bonus question just because I feel like it: Are we really so infantile that we need the threat of eternal punishment or the promise of reward from a father figure to stop us from being uncool to each other and other living creatures?

We are given a few short years to spend here, and when we die, the spark in our eyes is snuffed out, our bodies disintegrate, and all of our molecules disperse far and wide and eventually become a part of new stuff.

Just like the stars that are born and burn brightly until they die, or a mountain that slowly forms and slowly crumbles, we are simply another form of matter and energy on a planet that hums with random, chaotic movement.

It's amazing and beautiful that we and everything we see and touch exists at all. It seems rather selfish to insist that it has to mean something, as well.

We human beings like neat, tidy happy endings, though. But since they hardly ever occur in life, why would we think they occur in death?

14 July, 2006

"We were so happy on April 9, 2003 when the Americans came. But I've given up."

An article from The Times detailing the horror of Baghdad today.

Written strictly from the perspective of average citizens, there are - mercifully - no quotes from American military or government personnel trying to give it a whitewash glaze.

Every time I read an article like this, I always ask the same question: Did we really think we could just waltz into another country with a red, white, & blue bow-tied gift basket and say, "Here. For you. Freshly-baked Democracy!" and expect it would take a strong, firm hold?

It seems to me that it flies directly in the face of a psychological truth: one can't truly appreciate and properly care for something that hasn't been achieved as a result of one's own hard work.

These are innocent peoples' lives uprooted and destroyed by the pen strokes of a few power-hungry suit-wearers in the West who clearly didn't think this idea through.

And then, the other question: What is The Decider and his crew gonna do about the mess that's been created? Continue to point his fucking finger of strength and defiance in our faces right to the bitter, bitter end, I imagine.

Not that finger!

This one. The one that says, "Lemme tell ya what I been told is wrong about what yer sayin'..."

12 July, 2006

Syd Barrett, reunited with his mind

Very sad (and unexpected) to hear that he's gone.

If the story of him burning his diaries and paintings is true, he took all his reasons and answers with him, cruelly rendering us forever vexed over the mystery, leaving us to continue combing through decades-old lyrics for hints and clues.

He will continue to be missed.


She took a long cold look at me
and smiled and gazed all over my arm
she loves to see me get down to ground
she hasn't time just to be with me
her face between all she means to be
to be extreme, just to be extreme
a broken pier on the wavy sea
she wonders why for all she wants to see
But I got up and I stomped around
and hid the piece where the trees touch the ground

The end of truth that lay out the time
spent lazing here on a painting dream
a mile or more in a foreign clime
to see farther inside of me.

And looking high up into the sky
I breathe as the water streams over me

11 July, 2006

Your identity crisis is over, Upper Peninsula of Michigan

The 'Michigan is shaped like a mitten' thing bothers me.

Michigan is more than just a hand, you know. It's cute, but it must be like tiny daggers to the heart of the U.P. folks' self-esteem every time they see someone pointing to their palm, big dopey, happy grin on their face, saying "I live...there!"

The people who live in the remote areas of the Upper Peninsula should have some cutesy ways of describing where their towns are located.

Thus, I propose: The Flying Scottie Dog. Or the Jumping Scottie Dog. Or, the somewhat troubling albeit rather more accurate, The Punted Scottie Dog.

Can you see it? He's facing to the right.

Way up in the tip of the tail is Copper Harbor.

In the tip of the front paws lies Menominee.

The tuft of beard in the front is Drummond Island.

St. Ignace is in the jaw.

Sault Ste. Marie is in the nose.

Ironwood lies in the back paws.

And -everyone's favourite- Ontonagon is in the ass.

Think of the T-shirt sales Ontonagon alone could generate.

Personally, I love it. Going up to The Dog sounds so much better than saying "The Yoo-Pee". And suppose you're going to Detour or Hulbert (and why the hell wouldn't you?) - when people ask where specifically that is (and they will), you can just say, "The snout." and they'll know!

And how ridiculously cute does that sound?

Really, this should catch on. It's adorable.

By the way, I camped all through The Dog a few years ago and spent considerable time in The Ass. It was lovely...

06 July, 2006

I Kill Sick Children

Me: Good evening, St. Jude Medical Pacemakers.

Mumbling Man, Probably Drunk: (slurring words) Hi. I donate. I'm a Vietnam Vet, and I just received notice that my donation card information has to be updated 'cos it's expired.

M: (puzzled) Err...you donate? To St. Jude Medical? The pacemaker company?

V.V.: Yeah. The children's hospital. I'm a Vietnam Vet - a disabled Vietnam Vet - and I donate and they sent me a card that I needed to update my card and I'd like to do that now.

M: But this isn't St. Jude's children's hospital. This is St. Jude Medical, a pacemaker company. It's an entirely different organization.

V.V.: Okay, hold on. (he begins grunting softly as if shifting his position, the sound of papers shuffling and a drawer being opened is heard) Hang on, I can't find a pencil. I'm disabled. Let me go look for something to write the number down.

M: Wait! Sir, I-
(he sets the phone down, the sound of a tv playing softly in the background is heard)

M: Sir? (sighing)

(a full minute ticks by before he returns)

V.V.: (breathing heavily) Okay, what's the number?

M: I don't have the number to St. Jude Children's Hospital. You've called St. Jude Medical which is not affiliated with the children's hospital.

V.V.: But I've got a card right here.

M: Did you call information to get the number you called me at?

V.V.: Yeah.

M: They gave you a wrong number. You'll have to call them back. Tell them it's St. Jude CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL that you need.

V.V.: Can you transfer me?

M: I'm sorry, no.

V.V.: But you're a part of St. Jude, right?

M: No, this is St. Jude pacemaker company

V.V.: (angry, indignant tone) Fine, whatever. Let children die, then.

And then he hung up.

And then I hated humanity just a teensy bit more.

05 July, 2006

A random citizen angrily sounds off

'Soundoff' invites readers to call a telephone # and record a message to vent about the serious hot-button issues of the day or anything that concerns them. The comments are then published, verbatim, in the paper.

Here is my favourite from last week's edition:

"I hope the thieves who stole my gnomes and yard animals gain as much pleasure as they brought me."

Poor old dear. You can almost hear the poyester bathrobe.

Perhaps she will soon begin receiving post cards from them as they travel the world.

02 July, 2006

The Freedom Fighter

It was very early morning in the deserted suburban Detroit parking lot. Parked about 80 feet from the row of closed shops, I was sitting behind the wheel of my car, drinking coffee, the radio playing quietly.

It's a good way to organize your thoughts, sitting in parking lots, watching the mesmerizing flow of traffic, and I do it every so often.

There was another car two rows across from mine that had been there when I drove up. A man sat inside, not drinking coffee, not looking particularly relaxed.

He's here pretty early, I thought. The shops wasn't due to open for another hour and a half and it seemed odd to think a man would wait that long to get a garden hose or paper towels that were on sale. A woman might, sure. But a man? Never.

About 10 minutes after I pulled in, a late model Chevy pulled into the lot's north entrance and drove straight to the side of his car.

The man got out and walked over to the Chevy's driver side window and bent his head down to say something to the driver. Reaching through the window opening, he shook the driver's hand, then put his hand into his pocket.

He bent down and said something else to the driver. And withdrawing his hand from his pocket, he reached in to shake the driver's hand again.

The man straightened his posture and began to walk back to his car. The car that had met him turned around and drove back toward the north exit. The man got into his car, started the engine, and drove toward the south exit.

Hmm, I thought, 30 seconds of interaction and two handshakes in the middle of an empty parking lot could only mean one thing: I had just witnessed one of the tiny battles that are waged every day in the War On Drugs.

I don't advocate drug use. I don't do them, and if asked for my advice, I would certainly caution most people against using them regularly enough to risk becoming addicted. But I certainly understand the appeal.

And I don't believe they should be illegal.

Even the really hard, nasty ones.

Our current laws are a joke and an insult to the intelligence of the American people. Arbitrarily sanctioning some substances, but criminalizing others is hypocritical. That it's occurring in a country that so loudly boasts about how free it is, makes it disgustingly so.

The War On Drugs hasn't worked. It's another wasteful government program and a way to make nanny-state-loving, middle-American busy-bodies feel like something is being done about the problem.

Until we, as citizens, start behaving like adults and look at the issue honestly, and our politicians and law enforcement agencies stop deluding themselves that the bullshit is actually working, it will continue to fail.

We allow alcohol to be freely sold, possessed, and consumed. So that means we agree that it's okay for adults to alter their reality if they so choose. Alcohol is much more detrimental to a person's health and far more addictive a substance than, say, marijuana is. So why have we decided that alcohol is okay, but pot isn't?

As an intelligent, responsible, law-abiding American citizen, it's infuriating.

So in thinking back on that quiet, early morning parking lot rebellion that I witnessed, the good guy won, as far as I'm concerned.

The freedom-hating oppressors were not able to block that citizen's chosen method of pursuing happiness and I was thrilled.

And whilst watching his tailights disappearing into the morning fog, I took a sip of my coffee, lit another cigarette, and silently wished the brave rebel soldier a good time as he went home to celebrate his victory.

The November Coalition

Stop The Drug War

Two dollars, please, on Surly Gal to show in the second.

There is no way to introduce this without sounding like a whimpering 8 year old, so I'm just gonna say it:

An old woman on the betting window at the horse track was really mean to me tonight.

I'm still not quite sure what sparked her fuse. But her exasperated sighs and impatient demands of "What is it that you want?!" suggested it was my fault.

This was my third time betting on the horses. And since no one yelled at me the first two times, I thought I was doing it right. But apparently not.

It's very petit-bourgeois, I realize, to expect any degree of customer care at a shabby, rundown horsetrack. Establishments whose toilet-paper dispensers are dotted with dozens of cigarette burns aren't generally the sorts of places that offer their guests a complimentary pen, a comment card, and a smile.

But in my defense, I really wasn't looking to have my ass kissed. Just civility.

People in customer service have it rough. In the list of shit jobs, it ranks right up there. Every bit as monotonous and tiring as working on a manufacturing assembly line, but bumpers and windshields don't complain, whine, or threaten to have your job if you're rude to them as they glide by.

It doesn't normally bother me if someone behind a counter is short with me. Having done customer service, I know your last customer will affect how you treat your next. And if I'm ever not treated very well, I generally blame it on the asshole that was standing in line ahead of me.

But once in a great while, someone crosses the line and I get upset.

Since I'm still rather intimidated with race track procedures, I like to take a few minutes to scan the employees in the betting windows. I hope to find a kindly-looking older woman. Preferably for one who is smiling. I somehow think she'll lovingly & gently guide me through the betting process, patiently understand my nerves, explain the things that are confusing, and wink to reassure me that, yes dear, you're doing just fine, and your Nana is so proud of you!

But I now realize that woman doesn't work at the race track. That woman works at Hallmark.

As I stepped into the mean lady's queue, I saw her smile at the man ahead of me as he was leaving her window. I heaved a sigh of relief, thinking I'd found my kindly Aunt Bea.

I was intending to place bets with her for six races, but we only managed to get through the 1st before she turned into Patti Duke Astin in 'Please Don't Hit Me, Mom'.

"Okay," I said slowly and clearly. "In the second race, I'd like Number Four to win. I'd like Number Two to place. I'd like--"

She interrupted me.

"Ho, ho, hold on a minute! Are you now betting on the second race?", she demanded.

"Yes.", I said.

She asked me to repeat what I wanted. I did, and again she interrupted me.

"You're not making this very clear at all!", she barked, lifting her hand off her little machine and slapping it on the counter, as if surrendering all hope of ever being able to comprehend my nonsensical ramblings.

Her irritation with me was so over-the-top that I did something that I rarely do. I told her off.


As her outraged fit concluded, she asked me to explain *sigh* once again my confusing wishes.

Instead, I took a breath and raised my palms in a let's-just-stop-here pose, and quietly said, "Forget it. I'm going to go to another window." I pulled some money out of my wallet, avoided eye contact, and then I squeaked, "Because you're very rude."

She acted surprised; shocked to be receiving such a blind-sided blow. But her voice softened, and she said, "I'm not being rude, but you've got to tell me what you want."

I kept my eyes downcast as I paid for the bet that she printed and stepped away from her window without saying another word.

It felt liberating, until, out of the corner of my eye, I saw her lean back in her tattered chair and turn her head. "What a cunt!", I heard her say to the woman sitting in the next window.

She called me a cunt.

In my head I imagined walking back up to her and asking, "What did you just say?" And then I imagined her leaning forward, defiantly crossing her arms, giving me an icy glare, and replying: "I said 'What a cunt.', cunt."

To which my only reply would have been: "Okay, that's what I thought you said." Which would have been embarrassing. Because what was I going to do? Ask a 60 year old lady to step outside? I just let it go.

It's not in my nature to get in anyone's face. And this woman, obviously hardened by years spent sitting in a grimy window, is probably a zen master in the confrontational arts.

I considered reporting her to a manager. But looking around at all the rough, seedy characters lingering about, intently studying racing programs, and twitching with pent-up expectations, the idea of complaining about being called a name seemed very suburban-white-womanish and trivial.

No, best to just let this sleeping cunt lie, I decided.

So I went two windows down to another joyless, dour-faced woman, and nervously placed my bets with her without incident.

Happily, two of my bets came in winners. And there were four more races left, but I didn't bet on any more horses.

I was spooked.

27 June, 2006

Hint: It ain't Hitler

Welcome to another edition of the exciting new game show, "What The Fucking Fuck?!"

Hands on buzzers, contestants.

What famous pop culture icon said the following when asked by Jambands to describe the last Grateful Dead show they attended?:

"I have no recollection of it whatsoever, other than that it was awesome. ... I flew out to the Jerry Garcia memorial in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco with a fellow Deadhead from D.C. the weekend after Jerry went to the great psychedelic rock concert in the sky. ... it was great to be with my fellow Deadheads."

Was it:

A. Phish lead singer, Trey Anastasio?
B. Closeted homosexual & 'Uncle Arthur' from Bewitched, Paul Lynde?
C. Brittle, gun-toting polemicist, Ann Coulter?
D. German Madman & obligatory option in these lists, Adolph Hitler?

Before we reveal the surprising answer, please enjoy this soothing musical interlude featuring many Deadheads in full, spasmodic flailing:

So, who is our mystery Deadhead?

The answer is, of course: C. Ann Coulter.

Yes, Ann Coulter is all about the peace, love, and harmony. And rainbows.

Thanks for playing, everyone! See you next time on "What The Fucking Fuck?!"