Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Folly of War Joint Partnerships

Each morning and afternoon on the way to and from work, I pass by the outdoor reading garden situated next to the main branch of the Cleveland Public Library.

With plenty of shade, it's quite calming and thus very easy to get lost in the pages of the tome resting upon your lap. Well, yesterday afternoon, after an arduous yet rewarding day of helping my fellow humans to the best of my meager yet eager ability, I witnessed a young couple accompanied by an entourage of friends and relatives, everyone celebrating the momentous occasion of their wedding by taking photographs within this picturesque garden, precious and eternal memorials to their undying love.

The first thought that popped into my head as I strolled through the sharply-dressed crowd filing out onto the sidewalk was this:

Surprisingly, my sometimes-better-half didn't laugh when I told her.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Even More Rock You Like A Hurricane

No, George, one of the bad ones.*

I know you don't remember from last time --

"I already declared a state of emergency. What more do you want?
I love Tom and Jerry, heh heh. C'mon Jerry, get 'em!"

-- but this is what they look like on radar

and in real life.

Maybe once the Astrodome runs out of space, you can ask Johnny if FEMA can borrow five or six of his homes; I'm sure he'd manage to get by with only two or three, considering he was homeless for five years. Did you know he was a POW?

It's certainly plausible that you could jam plenty of those Obama-looking folks in all that square footage -- assuming there are any left on the Gulf Coast; kudos on getting rid of so many last time, now Nawlins is safe for well, you know, us to visit, wink wink nudge nudge -- but that's for the scienticians to figure out. I don't feel like dirtying my beautiful mind.

Do we even have any scienticians?

If you ask me, that sounds a little too elitist. Better let them all fend for themselves. That's the American way. God Bless America. Sniff.

*yes, I understand that it's not a very good song, but at least The Scorpions never killed anyone outside of their native Deutschland.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hair Superiority

"Air show? Buzz-cut Alabamians Ohioans spewing colored smoke from their whiz jets to the strains of Rock You Like A Hurricane? What kind of countrified rube is still impressed by that?"

We've got the Cleveland National Airshow flying over our heads this weekend and if one takes a leisurely stroll downtown, one can see -- and hear -- various whiz jets practicing for the next war.

Being the archetype of patriotism made flesh that I am -- don't believe me? Look it up, pinkos -- I feel conflicted, for the harsh noise of screaming General Electric turbofans constantly interrupts my smooth, efficient paradigm shifting, yet without these planes, I'd be speaking Algonquian French German Russian Arabic. Furthermore, while completely understanding the utility of this weekend given its extended length -- settle down, Dole -- further confusion arises from the fact that we are celebrating our freedom-spreading capabilities around a day that remains a heinous affront to hardworking capitalists, the lamentable creation of lazy and corrupt unions still slacking on the effete, lie-brul East Coast.

Guess I'll do what any good American would do if he or she was in my shoes.


"Randal, worked for me for eight years, heh heh."

Oh, happy birthday, Johnny, you fucking lunatic.

I'd say get to the huffin' and puffin', but, that's like breathing for you.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Would you fucking stop it already?

For the record, I blog in front of Greek columns.

And the Vestals? Well, *zips lips*

"John, you can't text someone using an abacus!"

Joe, Barry, Carroll -- no one got that, huh -- this shit makes me so livid that I'm tempted to *gasp!* use vulgarities. And drink. In front of the children:

John McCain is my friend. We've known each other for three decades. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me.
Believe me, I completely get all that 'friends close and enemies closer' tough guy jazz -- though I'd personally prefer that every mention of John McCain be prefaced with the fucking lunatic -- but what's most offensive to me, what gnaws at my very soul, leaving a gaping wound easily infected with a debilitating sadness, is the fact that someone would publicly admit to being his friend.

DC is even more shallow than I thought.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lou Dobbs just had an orgasm

"Oooh yeah, that's it baby, speaka de English!"

Concerned about its appeal to sponsors, the women’s professional golf tour, which in recent years has been dominated by foreign-born players, has warned its members that they must become conversant in English by 2009 or face suspension.
For the record, golf is not a sport but a game of skill, akin to lawn darts and permutations of various drinking games. Hitting a round ball then walking to where it landed while someone carries the heavy stuff is not an athletic endeavor.

Let us compare this to actual sports, with actual physical exertion:
Major League Baseball, which has a high percentage of foreign-born athletes, said it had not seen the need to establish a language guideline. Pat Courtney, a spokesman for M.L.B., said baseball had not considered such a policy because it wanted its players to be comfortable in interviews and wanted to respect their cultures.

"Given the diverse nature of our sport, we don't require that players speak English," he said. "It's all about a comfort level."

The National Hockey League, which is based in Canada where English and French are the official languages, also places no such requirements on its players, although several clubs provide players with tutors if they express a desire to learn English.

The National Basketball Association, which had 76 international players from 31 countries and territories last season, follows a similar approach to the N.H.L.

"This is not something we have contemplated," said Maureen Coyle, the N.B.A.'s vice president for basketball communications.

What, you thought I'd waste time talking about the Dumbass National Convention? Don't be silly. On second thought, be a wee bit silly, mischievous, even. Some might go so far as to say elfin. Listen to the elf man who would require the least amount of nose-holding in November.

Unless, of course, Kodos were running and Diva/Nunly had been abducted by said creature from outer space:

Oh, Dennis, if only you didn't have a bad haircut. I feel your pain, my brother.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What I learned on the first day of school

College kids are strange. All the dudes look like 50 Cent's hangers-on or a Jonas Brothers cover band auditioning for a remake of Pretty In Pink -- upturned collars and little alligators? I honestly had no clue they still made these shirts. I remember wearing some once, when I was seven -- and all the chicks look like extras in a Britney Spears video -- shut the hell up, I'm allowed moments of curmudgeonry, and so are you, so drop the eye rolling. Crap, my black socks just dropped. No wonder it's square peg and round hole with you whipper snappers.

Dig my swanky duds. If I had a lawn down here, I'd tell you to get off it. And next time, I'm keeping the fucking hacky sack cell phone. Doesn't anyone listen to music anymore? You really want to talk to other people all the time?

Boy, I'd love it if everyone's phone simultaneously cut out for a lousy five minutes. There'd be a riot and I would laugh loud and often. Until I got trampled. Anyway, after having the brain reside in sleep mode for a good portion of the summer, educationally speaking, here's what else I discovered both on my way to, and inside, the classroom yesterday afternoon.

1. I am abysmally poor at spoken French -- let's not even mention listening comprehension -- on an epic scale not seen since The Iliad. Probably doesn't help that the only skilled person I can practice with speaks my language with far more ability than I can speak hers and lives a few time zones away. Maybe I need one of those cellular telephone doodads. I think she takes pity on me. Or is having sadistic fun, I'm not quite sure.

2. On the flip side, my prof is appreciative of my efforts to actually participate. Hey, it's the only way to keep the grade from sliding into Bush territory outside of cash bribes and no one is taking dollars these days.

3. I am glad that this is an upper level class and not 101, as I'm certainly not old enough to be the parents of these particular students. Yet.

4. For the eleventh class in a row -- thus proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that French is the language of choice for the discerning linguistic connoisseur -- the male/female ratio is positive for yours truly.

"What's your point, couch jockey?"

Merely making a sociological observation, my sweet, such as the following:

5. I pity the clowns who drive instead of taking public transportation. Good luck finding a spot after having missed your first two classes. I'd tell you that lots B through Z are closed for construction, but you probably figured that out the 73rd time you circled the campus.

"But we have a future --

--whereas you don't."

Not if Johnny Mac blows everything up.

Personnes âgées 1, jeunesse idéaliste 0.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What's on the teevee?*

"The Dumbass National Convention starts tomorrow."

"I'd rather watch reruns of Gimme A Break."

"Better than reliving them day after day."

"Oh, behave. I'll tell the Denver PD you've got a map."

"At least I don't have a football helmet. Then I could really do some damage."

"Or we could send you guys and you could argue."

"I thought I told you to stop encouraging your sister."

"You know I never would. What's Gimme A Break?"

"What I say every time your mother opens her mouth."



"But I need the alarm for work."

"You don't have work tomorrow. I guess Father doesn't Know Best."

*dramatization may not have happened exactly as described. The kids mostly yelled their contributions from other rooms and my sometimes-better-half and I slung a few choice obscenities at each other. I like to keep this a family-friendly blog, you fuckers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Jazz, pfft. They just make it up as they go along. I can do that."

The humidity inside our suburban home, if not exactly stifling in a 'what the fuck are we still doing here in August' kind of way -- because we don't have enough loot to fly to Europe for vacation, that's why -- was all the convincing I needed to get me to leave a few minutes early for the bus. Thus, the CD I had chosen, if I could accurately remember its duration, would likely finish before I arrived, smiling like the Joker, and feeling just as loopy, at work. Lo and behold at E. 6th, Carolina Drama fades out -- dude, milkman, so what happened and why didn't I ever review this one? -- and I push play to restart the sucker. BEEP!

LOW BATT written in that futuriffic LCD lettering. Dammit.

The ubiquitous battery. An afterthought? Not anymore, not after I had to walk at least five blocks without tunes. Not a big deal, you say? You've got some nerve. Not starting so many sentences with 'not' might not be such a bad idea, no? No. You see Not having music to listen to when I'm not directly engaged in conversation with someone or something -- you've all talked to inanimate objects before, filthy liars -- is hellish, akin to a mashup of passers-by, rockers, pimps and businessmen rolling past in their swanky new wheels and all the ambient sounds of the city -- okay, Cleveland is pretty dead at 7 am on a Saturday -- being transformed into an endless loop of George Bush press conferences. When he's drunk. But I repeat myself.

And writing without music? Might as well ask me to clean up aisle six in Cheney's Good Time House of Torment where they give me a mop, a bucket filled with tepid water, maybe some of that gritty prison soap and about five minutes before they release another morsel for him to swallow whole, and if there's a second -- you know, moi -- then he likes to play with that one the way a starving sabre-toothed cat might have wanted to bat around cornered primitive man with his foot-long, flesh-rending claws.

I had no post ready today --

"Gee, it's not at all obvious."

-- are you really one to be questioning someone's mental faculties? I think I hear a mirror calling your name. Pendant que je pensais à la suggestion de La Belette Rouge, faire un post en français, j'ai reconnu que cette idée était l'idée d'une femme folle. Pourquoi ? Au début, je n'écris pas le français bien. Ensuite, si je veux écrire mes pensées complexes -- cessez de rire ! -- cela me prendrait beaucoup de jours.

Guess how many grammatical errors are above and win a case of Turtle Wax nothing. Hey, if I knew, I wouldn't need to practice. Sorry, mon amie.

Okay, let's check the news wires.


Given my natural cynicism and utter lack of faith in the American voter -- I still think McCain is going to be the one eyeing the red phone in January -- I'm not at all surprised that Obama picked an old white dude. But at least it's Biden so there's always a chance that he'll say 'bullshit' with a microphone around and if politics is anything, it's entertainment.

Apparently someone blew a bunch of folks up in Afghanistan. I had thought we fixed everything over there; you know, eradicated all the poppy fields -- WAR ON DRUGS! GRRR! CRUSH! KILL! DESTROY! FLEX! hey, Cindy called, she ran out of her supply already -- had the Taliban and their wonderfully full and manly beards on the run, killed The Greatest Threat Since Ahmadinejad's Persian Empire was single-handedly defeated by Victor Davis Hanson's kung-fu grip.

"Barack should have picked my full and manly beard. Sniff."

Oh, relax, Bill. You've got all those UFOs to deal with. Speaking of Unidentified Flying Os, are the Olympics still on? Just go away you bloated, corporate hulk so we can start talking about streamlined, populist American football. I wonder if Brett Favre is coming back to play this season. How about another will he/won't he story, Nashville Predator winger -- don't know if he's right or left, or if he's even eligible to vote -- Alexander Radulov who, while still under contract to his NHL team, signed a second with a squad in the new Russian league.

Maybe we should take on Pooty-Poot. First that whole Cold War gig, then the illegal and immoral invasion of one of our staunchest allies, Iraq Georgia, and now they're stealing our hockey players! Our hockey players!

"I must break you."

Aw, fuck it. Another war sounds like effort. Plus Vlad looks pissed off. And we don't have any money left. Pass me that bottle. I know I'm at work. Where do you think I need it the most? Oh, you honestly thought I'd say there? Are you fucking nuts? I'd lose mine!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Angry Chair

Yeah, more YouTubes. If you want incisive and witty commentary on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place, mes amis. You should know that by now, you bastards, especially since I'm busy getting my noggin ready to parler français next week. En plus -- wow, practice does make perfect! -- it's birthday time for two of my musical favorites. POP, get dry, the cake is on me.

Happy birthday, you dead American dude.

Just say no. Except to you-know-what.

Bonne anniversaire, vous dude français mort.

Homme, j'adore Nuages. Quelle beauté éphémère, n'est-ce pas ?

Also born on this day ninety-two years ago, native Clevelander Urbain Jacques Shockcor, better known to you and I as New York Yankee and St. Louis Brown starting pitcher Urban Shocker, a name certainly on the Mt. Rushmore of sporting cool despite having hurled for The Fucking Yankees.

On second thought, I'm going to go hurl.

Speaking of hurling -- I really need to come up with a better segue --

"And a better blog!"

-- ahem, a dude on the bus this morning was hurling his chutzpah around by wearing a jersey I haven't seen in public in a shade over fourteen years:

I see the real killer searching has been outsourced. Damn you, NAFTA.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Since lovely and talented Vacuum Vixen Freida Bee believes me to be lazy -- hey, I told my wife I'd clean the basement a little later, I swear -- right after this MLB tripleheader -- I've decided to prove her instincts correct and steal from her the concept of legendary comedian Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr. invading other creative territory then, through harnessing the awesome power of Jello Pudding Pops, fabricating an entirely new and fantastic realm of entertainment. Thus, Two Great Tastes, anime style.

This is more of The Artist's gig, but I watched me some Robotech growing up. Was Minmei annoying as fuck, or what? Whined as much as we Americans do on the economy.

Since we're on the subject of annoying whiners, how 'bout them neocons?

"And that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped."
"This new learning amazes me, Sir Bedemir. Explain again how manufacturing lies may be employed to prevent diplomacy."

Since we're on the subject of science fiction -- no, that was first thing, damn you, linear progression of time! -- I've recently noticed not one, not two, but three reports of scary-as-Cheney-in-your-house insect hubris. This is what happens when you screw with the environment -- the environment fights back! Don't believe me? Then you need to watch this short documentary!

Don't take Mother Nature for granted, or she'll send you to your room!

"Without any supper?"

"Oh, there'll be supper!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Night songs

One of the most painful occurrences in the otherwise wondrous realm of music is when an act that you absolutely love teases you with a few choice words and measures, this glittering confinement hinting at a greatness that you know will consume you, lead you to other locales and times where both the mundane world around you and your memory, verifiable moments usually banal, and imagined ones always scintillating, mingle in a delicious, heady stew, burning your tongue as you begin to get drunk on that aural elixir -- then disappears.

So, after releasing an introductory three-track single a few years back and assorted songs, some originals, some covers, on various compilations since -- okay, so I was being a bit melodramatic; a little melodrama never hurt anyone, you ironically jaded postmodernist, you -- the team of Black Tape for a Blue Girl mastermind Sam Rosenthal and raven-haired chanteuse Nicki Jaine, under the guise of Revue Noir, has gifted to us a compilation of everything -- well, everything that isn't sitting half-finished on a roll of tape or in a Pro Tools file -- that they've ever recorded, Anthology Archive, for posterity, mom, apple pie, fuzzy little bunnies, though hopefully not the final nail before the coffin is lowered into the cold, hard ground as they move on to other projects.

The album -- compilation sounds so greatest hits only available at big box store! -- starts off with the five songs that have previously graced our ears. The sparse rhythm, sexy and languid, of The Gravediggers, originally recorded for Black Tape's last(?) album, Halo Star, blows the doors off the excellent original for two reasons: the incorporation of a theremin, an instrument that seems to have been created specifically for this song, and Nicki's sultry, Marlene Dietrich-esque vocals. Strangely, there seems to be, beyond a slightly different mix that augments the stray violin progression, an added keyboard line during the penultimate fifth of the song that didn't appear on the single version that, if not exactly off putting, shoves the strings into the background a bit more than I'd like. Either that, or my hearing is shot.

A track that Mademoiselle Jaine pulled off her solo album is next, and not all that sonically different than the original -- though this seems to be a different mix as well, you sneaky bastards, but I ain't selling my original on eBay -- the beautifully wistful Amsterdam, whose tale over a gentle piano line has nothing to do with either of the two things most associated with that European metropolis but something far more universal, that most desired and loathed of emotions. The darkly uptempo A Girl, A Smoke swings chords and lines like 'a year, a night, a get well card/a book of dirty poetry/forgetting me can't be that hard' until a jazzy flurry of piano notes and the lamentation about 'the way that we come back asking for more' ends the performance.

A slow, mellow cover of Bowie's Rock 'n' Roll Suicide is next, stripping away a few layers of classic rock bombast -- not that the original was the thunderous Suffragette City, bien sûr -- and turning it into the signature piece of Aristide Bruant -- if he had been a rock and roller. The clothes may have changed, but the soul is the same. This soul might have once wandered into an old cabaret lost on some unmapped street, now found, its rotting planks being torn out one by one to help expedite a complete modernization, and behind the agèd wall, a dust-encrusted worker finds the sheet music for Sometimes, Sunshine. At times jaunty, depressing, danceable with some Zeppelin-esque, stop/start piano riffs thrown in for good measure, you can't help but want to tap your foot while you sip on your overpriced drink.

As for the unreleased tracks, there is a less fleshed out rehearsal version of A Girl, A Smoke, professional live cuts of the Velvet Underground's All Tomorrow's Parties, the Weill/Brecht standard Alabama Song, and Black Tape's Halo Star. The new/old originals are wonderful, starting with the gently undulating, downbeat I Have No More Answers, the piano punctuated with an ominous organ riff before the black and white keys return to close proceedings on a haunting note.

Strange Little Show and its concoction of melancholy, yet propulsive, trappings provides a memorable apéritif -- a lithe, husky-voiced singer bitter as unsugared absinthe? Whew -- before the album's double-barreled closer, the nearly instrumental Sunshine IV, a happy little bridge (curse you, Bob Ross!) laced with somber, echoing vocal undercurrents weaving sentimental motifs from both the previous track and the album finalé, the monumental She is the Madman. This eerie, disjointed journey has us steal through the singer's head, cries for help voiced through single notes plucked on the guitar writhing in restrained agony within Sam's ethereal, electronic swells that have crawled up from the chthonian abyss, painting this eternal conflict between the illusion of sanity and that cold, dark place we fear to face, refusing to turn around to see the source of its shadow perpetually engulfing our own, a crash of cymbals, thicker chords, before a respite and the slow, quiet acceptance of our descent into the depths of the creative process, into madness.

It would be a crime if we were to not hear anything more from this duo, but if that ends up being the case, they've left behind a document worth remembering and hearing during those evenings awash in spent adrenaline and empty pages, of which there are far too many it seems, where pain and regret, not a joyful smile, are what we see reflected back in the liquid mirror of our glass.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New boss, same as the old boss

It's always good to know than when the well is drier than my bank account, there's always an eerily familiar pain I can count on to save me from a wretched, post-less state.

Merci for pointing that out, Mr. Eight-and-oh-with-the-one-point-six-ERA.

Talented pitcher, toiling for a fumbling squad, gets traded across leagues to a doe-eyed, hopeful gang of beloved -- I know that's pushing it where the Brewers are concerned -- underachievers and proceeds to tear it up like kleenex at a snot party in leading his new teammates to a long-overdue playoff spot.

Where they promptly rip out the beating heart of their fans, show it to them in the rapidly decaying seconds of life that crystallizes such horror into the last thing they'll ever breathe, and toss it on the ground, stomping on it, muscle fibres that once pumped precious joy throughout their veins now frayed, empty strands shredded by the polished steel of sharpened cleats, twitching in dark, coagulating pools of blood, mocking.

Sorry, boss. But don't worry, the unholy beast that is karma is striking my soul as we speak, for verily it is the height of folly to assume that a Cleveland sporting team could go through a preseason without getting smacked in the skull.

I hope DA is all right because I'm not sure I could take a quarterback controversy and, given the intelligence of the average sports fan, any lingering effects from the ringing of the bells would turn that slow burn into a full-blown conflagration.

Brady Quinn is the savior!

No, he's the messiah, you dumbass!

Same thing!

Them's fightin' words!

Touchdown Jesus Brady!

I blame the pants.