Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sushi For Everyone!

Yay!  It turns out that if you live in NYC, you're the proud recipient of FREE SUSHI!  Here's the deal.

NYC gets its water from a bunch of upstate reservoirs.  The water is so clean that its exempt from Federal and State filtration requirements.  It's pumped into pipes from roughly 60' below the surface of the reservoirs and, basically, comes straight to your tap. I know they add chlorine and fluoride somewhere along the line and there must be some kind of screens involved, otherwise, the pipes would get clogged with fish.  But, otherwise, we're drinking water straight from the lakes!

I'm not going to go look for the stuff, -- you guys know how I hate documenting things -- but NYC tap water also rates among the tastiest in the nation year after year.  (There's blind taste testing and stuff and somebody with time on their hands does that stuff and tells the rest of us about it eventually.)  Some podunk in Wisconsin apparently has the best tasting water, but since there's only like 12 people living there, who gives a rat's ass?

So, back to the sushi.  It seems that some itty-bitty microscopic shrimp get through the screens and we're all drinking shrimp with our water.  They range from .8 to 1.4 mm in length (the females are the bigger ones -- stupid big females). They're actually known as copepods (who knew?) and they do nifty stuff like eating mosquito larvae.  Yay copepods! (cough, cough, gag.)

Of course, the first thing I thought of when I read about this was, "Holy Crap!  Does that mean the water isn't kosher?"  I thought I was kidding, but no...it turns out I"m not.  OUKosher.org recommends installing a water filter and some other stuff, which, I guess is reasonable.  I mean, keeping kosher requires jumping through quite a few hoops already; is adding a water filter to the mix really that much more work?  (When I was in working in Cincinnati, we had to use bottled water to make coffee.  I don't know if things have changed there, but in the mid-90's, their tap water was nasty!)

I'm not going to go back to keeping kosher, so I'm not going to bother with the filters.  In fact, I'm going to consider the sushi a freebie!  And my doctor said I should be eating more seafood!

P.S.  Thanks to Steve, I was able to participate in yet another utterly pointless exercise!  If you download IOGraph, you can create a visual record of everywhere you mouse has moved for as long as you like!  Here's what it looked like creating this post:

The great thing about this, is, that unlike other pointless stuff on the internet, this one does its bit while you're doing other stuff.  It isn't even a waste of time!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today Is Annoying Me.

What?  You need more than that?

Today has been (and continues to be) an utterly annoying day.

That is all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Imagine I Have A Lawn. Then Imagine I'm Yelling At You To Get Off Of It.

I'm feeling old.

Last night, GF and I went to a neighborhood place for dinner. It's a casual Bar & Grill kinda place we like.  I wasn't really paying attention, but at some point, I realized that all of the music that was playing in the background was from approximately my college days -- the late 70's and early 80's.  We're talking some Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Talking Heads.  That sort of stuff.  None of this sounded like Oldies to me; it just sounded like music that was part of my life.

Then, I looked around and realized that most of the other people in the place probably weren't born when those songs first came out.  Or they were infants.  For them, this music was like me listening to Fats Domino, Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers.  It's not like they weren't familiar with the stuff; it's just that they thought of it as nostalgic. And a little ancient. Quaint, even.

I felt mildly bad about it until I realized that one day I'll be able to point to songs like Psycho Killer and Broken Hearts are for Assholes as the music of my youth, while "The Greatest Generation" is stuck with Mairzy Doats and How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Also, there was an article in the NY Times a couple of days ago about how nobody remembers phone numbers any more, since they're all stored in our phones now.  When I was the Rental Manager at Blake Films, I had hundreds of phone numbers committed to memory.  If I needed to call Bobby, or Phil, I just picked up the phone and I dialed their number.  If you asked me for their number, I probably would have hemmed and hawed a little, but if I didn't bother thinking about it, I could just dial it right.

I can't remember diddly any more.  Phone numbers, account numbers, passwords...I'm hopeless.  And, of course, other than the phone, for numbers, I don't have any kind of central repository for all this info any more.  I'd say, "If I ever lost "X", I'd be in real trouble", but it's not really true.  All this stuff exists on scraps of paper, on stuff in my wallet, in my computer, on the phone...it's all over the place. 

I will feel a little bit better when we all get chips implanted in our heads.  I mean, hey -- if I lose my head, what will I need all those numbers for, right? 

But I doubt it'll make me feel young again.  While most people will be worried about the government tracking them with their chips, I'll just be thinking of it as On-Star?

Where was I?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saturday Pedantry.

Think you know words?  Well, there are folks out there determined to prove you wrong.  And they're leaving me with a choice of either accepting that I don't know as much as I think I do, or just telling them they're full of crap.

Knowing myself as well as I do, I think the latter is more likely.  Here's a couple of opportunities for you to go up against the Big Heads.

First, a series of word, grammar and punctuation tests.  There are 10 questions in each quiz with multiple choice options to fill in the blank.  I took the first 10 quizzes, which are each rated as easy or moderately difficult.  My results:

Quiz 1: 7 of 10 Easy
Quiz 2: 10 of 10 Easy
Quiz 3:  8 of 10 moderate
Quiz 4: 6 of 10  moderate
Quiz 5:  9 of 10 moderate
Quiz 6: 9 of 10 moderate
Quiz 7: 9 of 10 moderate
Quiz 8: 9 of 10 moderate
Quiz 9: 7 of 10 easy
Quiz 10: 5 of 10 moderate

A couple of things may be worth noting.  1.  In a few instances, I think more than one of the answers might have been equally correct, but the test defaults in favor of simplicity.  1. I'm betting Conservatives do worse on the test, since they'll spend more time fuming over the wording of the test questions.

Second, Cracked.com has "9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think They Mean".  I have to admit I got caught on a few of them -- they totally got me on the meaning of peruse.  I'm also repeatedly shocked to discover that Cracked.com is actually a worthy authority on anything.  It does weird things to my worldview. (They do, however, take the sting out of being all smart and stuff by filling the article with boobs.)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Prepare To Be Assimilated. Resistance Is Futile.

So, you all know I got a nook™ for Christmas (which had to be back ordered, so I actually got it for my birthday in February).  Apparently, I have grown accustomed to reading things the "nook" way.  See those little arrows on the sides?  You press those to advance or go back a page.  Today, while reading one of those practically obsolete books made out of paper, I found myself pressing a non-existent button in the margin and trying to figure out why the words on the page didn't change.  I repeated this useless action 3 or 4 times before I remembered I had to physically turn the page if I wanted to read any further.

It was exhausting!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Can One Quiet Voice Be Heard Over The Uproar?

Odds are, most of you have never heard Mayor Bloomberg speak before.  For the uninitiated, let me tell you...he speaks quietly and, usually, in what I'd consider to be an annoying drone.  There's just something grating about his speaking voice.

But, as I mentioned the other day, he has been a lonely voice of reason...one of the few shining lights...in the verbal combat surrounding what I'll be calling the Burlington Coat Factory Mosque from now on.  There are any number of things that have gone on under Mr. Bloomberg's watch that I haven't been thrilled with, but at this moment, in this place, I'm thankful and proud that he's the Mayor of NYC.

Tonight, in what is an annual event, Mayor Bloomberg hosted a Ramadan Iftar (evening's breaking of the fast) at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor's official residence. Once again, he proved to be the clearest speaker in America about why opposition to this mosque is completely wrong.  He took it a step further, clearly stating why he feels that now, the project must go forward.  You can read his full comments here, and I recommend you do -- they're not all that long--but let me excerpt a couple of his points.

Addressing the question of moving the mosque to an alternate location, he said,

"...I understand the impulse to find another location for the mosque and community center. I understand the pain of those who are motivated by loss too terrible to contemplate. And there are people of every faith - including, perhaps, some in this room - who are hoping that a compromise will end the debate. 
 "But it won't. The question will then become, how big should the 'no-mosque zone' be around the World Trade Center site? There is already a mosque four blocks away. Should it be moved?
"This is a test of our commitment to American values. We have to have the courage of our convictions. We must do what is right, not what is easy. And we must put our faith in the freedoms that have sustained our great country for more than 200 years."

He also addressed the subject of Imam Rauf, who has had his loyalties and motives openly questioned...everything short of actual accusations of being a terrorist collaborator.  And while the previous and current Administration have entrusted him as an emissary, neither has bothered to come to his defense.  Mayor Bloomberg took that on as well in closing his remarks.
"...a few of his [Rauf's] statements have received a lot of attention... I would like to read you something that he said that you may not have heard. At an interfaith memorial service for the martyred journalist Daniel Pearl, Imam Rauf said, quote, 'If to be a Jew means to say with all one's heart, mind, and soul: Shma` Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ehad; Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One, not only today I am a Jew, I have always been one.'
He then continued to say, 'If to be a Christian is to love the Lord our God with all of my heart, mind and soul, and to love for my fellow human being what I love for myself, then not only am I a Christian, but I have always been one.'
"In that spirit, let me declare that we in New York are Jews and Christians and Muslims, and we always have been. And above all of that, we are Americans, each with an equal right to worship and pray where we choose. There is nowhere in the five boroughs of New York City that is off limits to any religion.
"By affirming that basic idea, we will honor America's values and we will keep New York the most open, diverse, tolerant, and free city in the world."
I don't have any personal stake in whether or not this, or any other mosque, church or synagogue is built.  I don't have any personal stake in where any mosque church or synagogue is built. I do have a personal stake in whether or not I'm a citizen of the country I thought I was. Mayor Bloomberg's voice seems awfully lonely right now, but his clarity needs be heard above all of the other noise.

The Dog Did It.

I got home a little before 6:00 this evening, and as I was walking down the street, it was that kind of dead quiet you get when there's no traffic at all accompanied by 90% humidity.  My footsteps seemed loud and I was wearing sneakers.  So I was stopped dead in my tracks a few steps from my front door when I heard "Please get off the shed", hollered from a upstairs window.

I knew I wasn't standing on anyone's shed, so I didn't take it personally, but I was taken aback, nonetheless.  I looked up and didn't see anyone in any of the windows above me...not in my building or in any of the other neighboring buildings.  And I realized that I couldn't see anyone else on the street besides me.  So, I ended up standing there really perplexed for a couple of minutes.  Where had the holler come from? At whom was it directed?  And for that matter, where the hell was there any shed in sight?

I still don't know the answer to any of those questions.  I just know that someone was deeply offended by someone standing on some shed.  Somewhere.

Life's little imponderables.

The other thing that occurred to me this evening is that we need a dog.  LuLu (you've met LuLu, our cat, right?) has...uh...a weak gastro-intestinal system.  She's gassy.  She's the gassiest cat I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.

If you pick her up without warning...she farts.  If you sneak up on her (even without meaning to)...she farts.  When she jumps onto or off of things, this causes a sudden displacement somewhere in her innards, and...she farts.  And I don't think I'm overstating her particular talents when I tell you that her farts are particularly pungent.  LuLu stands highly in my affections, but when she stinks, she stinks!

And the odd thing is that she seems to be aware that she's done something gauche and looks visibly embarrassed. Dogs never get embarrassed when they fart.  Or when people fart and blame the dog for it.  Or pretty much anything else.  They just wag their tails at whatever they think they might have accomplished.

We need a dog, if for nothing else, then for LuLu's self-esteem.

Postus Interruptus.

I've tried to make it clear that Polybloggimous is all about you!  I don't mean it's about you -- clearly, most of the stuff here is about me -- but I really try to make sure I'm taking you into account before ever hitting that PUBLISH POST button.  I really don't want to put stuff here that's just going to leave you scratching your heads or wondering WTF, or especially thinking, "Holy Crap. why is Nathan bugging us with crap like this?"

Yesterday, I wrote a post that was intended to riff on PBS's Sunday cooking shows and then introduce you to an idea I had for my very own cooking show --  Medieval British Cuisine.  On the face of it, this should have been at least mildly promising.  Primal Grill really is episode after episode of Forty Guys Make a Hamburger.  New Scandinavian Cooking really is a weekly exercise in cooking outdoors for no discernible reason whatsoever. Not only do they cook everything outdoors -- last week, they buried a roast in a hole in the ground to cook it -- they also have their chefs stand knee-deep in a fjord if they're making seafood.  'Cause you couldn't possibly understand how seafood might have made it all the way to the shore.  And I actually like Colameco's Food Show, but I'm willing to admit that the show consists entirely of the host watching chefs make things, and then he tastes the stuff and then he grunts a lot.  It's Tool Time, just about making food instead of building manly stuff.

So, anyway, I figured I could come up with some ideas for a show about Medieval British Cuisine -- surely an oxymoron if there ever was one.  I kind of envisioned episodes about peasants poaching deer from the Lord's estates.  There'd be stuff about how to prepare a hearty acorn stew with rocks!  Maybe some tips on dealing with spoiled food -- eat it, of course, do you want to starve?

And my "best" idea had something to do with making your livestock last.  If you wanted meat, you could just amputate one of your goat's legs.  That would give you enough meat for a couple of meals, and your goat would just limp a little until you got hungry again.  Not to mention, if you propped up the goat's rear end, you could still milk it.

As you may be realizing by now, the entire idea of the post was a recipe for disaster (no pun intended - really).  I have deleted the whole thing with impunity.

And, no matter how painful you may have found this post to read, it doesn't hold a candle to the sheer craptaculous-ness that the actual post would have inflicted upon you. You may thank me at your leisure.

P.S.  I may have deleted the post, but I'm still willing to use my blog-fail as blog-fodder.  This may be crappy content, but it is content.

P.P.S.  Here's a picture that would have made it into the post somewhere.  Consider it the visual equivalent of pounding a square peg into a round hole.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Story Not Likely to Be Repeated.

On August 17th, Bill Millin died at a nursing home in western England.  He was 88 years old and the cause is listed as stroke.

On June 6th, 1944, D-Day, Mr. Millin was a 21 year old private in Britain’s First Special Service Brigade and was among the first troops to land on Sword Beach. Shortly before the landings, Millin was approached by his commanding officer, Simon Fraser, who was also Lord Lovatt, hereditary chief of Clan Fraser and informed that his assignment was to play his bagpipes during the landings. Millin pointed out that regulations had forbade pipes playing in forward areas since WWI, but Lovat replied, “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

 Millin obeyed his orders.
Private Millin in the right foreground debarking from landing craft.

Throughout the landings, Millin marched up and down the beach playing highland tunes on the pipes.  Later, captured Germans said they hadn't shot at him because they thought he was crazy.  As British troops moved inland, Millin found himself alone on the beach.  "As they moved off, I found myself left on my own", he later said.  "No one told me to stop playing, so I had to run after them and catch them up."

As the Allies moved inland, Millin's unit was tasked with relieving British Paratroopers who had taken a bridge near the Village of Ouistreham.  The Germans were trying to retake the bridge as it was a key route to any counterattack on the beaches, so the Paratroopers were under heavy fire.  Once again, Millin was assigned to play his pipes as his unit crossed the bridge under fire.

I don't imagine anyone will ever again be issued similar orders, but you've got to be awed by the man's courage, not to mention chutzpah!  What brilliant lunacy!

Millin continues to be regarded as a hero in France where he was awarded the Croix d'Honneur and two other decorations for gallantry. There are plans to erect a statue of him there.

Cheers Mr. Millin!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Hope We Have A Better Blow-out Preventer Than BP Had In The Gulf.

A little over a month ago, I wrote about the Park 51 Project, the proposed Islamic Cultural Center that has, cynically (and disingenuously), come to be known as the "Ground Zero Mosque".  Truth, be told, I was pretty incensed about the whole thing at the time, but it was mostly a local issue and all of the official City and State Agencies seemed to be doing and saying the right things at the time...namely that the government had no right whatsoever to stand in the way of a Cultural Center or a Mosque or whatever to be built anywhere that was zoned for it.  Most of the anti-mosque crowd consisted of random loudmouths and a couple of local political opportunists who didn't really seem to be gaining all that much steam.  I figured the mosque would overcome any official hurdles and the whole furor would die a quiet death and we'd all move on to something else.

As you know by now, I was completely wrong.

Since then, I've got to admit that I haven't been entirely sure why I was so worked up about it.  I don't have any personal stake in it...I'm pretty sure I could count my Muslim friends on one hand and have fingers left over.  The fact is, that, aside from not believing that Islam exists solely to subjugate the rest of the world, I rarely think much about them at all.  I don't spend a lot of time thinking about Catholics or Baptists or Seventh Day Adventists or Hindus or Rastafarians either.  They're just not terribly relevant to my daily life.  Nor can I think of the last time I counted houses of worship in a specific area and thought that one group might be winning because they had more square footage in the neighborhood.

Nonetheless, every day I seem to read something new --  to watch the rhetoric ratchet up another notch and I grow more depressed over it.  The truth is, I think the debate, if you want to call it anything so genteel, has become scary.  Every time I've considered chiming in again, events have overtaken me...meaning some other jackass has started spouting nonsense  and gotten me too worked up to attempt coherence.

I'll try to keep from nattering on for too long, but I wouldn't feel right if I didn't say anything at all.

For starters, I know a number of people, myself included, have made the point that the proposed Cultural Center is hardly at Ground Zero...it's a couple of blocks away.  I won't go into how geometry and sightlines work, but here's a clue.  If you enlarge this handy little screenshot I took from GoogleEarth, you'll notice that, in order to see the mosque over that 17 story building in the way, you'll need to get up to a pretty high floor in the new World Trade Center...if they ever finish building it.  If that's supposed to be taken as some triumphal monument to our attackers, I'm unclear on the concept.

More importantly, a lot of people have objected to the fact that suddenly, politicians from all over the country are expressing opinions.  I remember, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, how much it meant to New Yorkers to have the support of the rest of the country.  There was a sense of unity in the country -- we weren't in this alone.  There was moral and material support from all over the country.  So, I guess I'd feel like something of a hypocrite if I said only New Yorkers should be allowed an opinion now.  But it's not the fact of these opinions that bothers me...it's the fact that they're not genuine.  I don't doubt that some of the rhetoric is heartfelt (if completely wrong), but most of it is cheap Political Theater...plain and simple.  Let's look at some of it.

Newt Gingrich finds no contradiction in stating his staunch support for Freedom of Religion while proposing what amounts to a "Mosque-Free Zone" in some ill-defined radius around Ground Zero.  He says he wouldn't have any objections to a new Mosque near Central Park or up near Columbia University.  Thanks Newt.  He also points out that you wouldn't be free to build a Synagogue or Church in Mecca.  Really?  Really Newt?  I'm capable of swallowing a certain amount of bile to acknowledge that the U.S. is better off having a friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, but are we supposed to emulate them now?  Are you really taking your fucking lead from what the Saudis think is right and proper?  Unless I was lied to about everything, I was taught that America was supposed to be the example the rest of the world aspired to.  Thanks for clearing that up.

Rick Lazio -- at least he's a homegrown asshole -- is running for Governor on the GOP ticket.  He thinks we should investigate the Mosque's finances before allowing them to proceed.  Will we be doing that for every church that wants to build from now on?  Is there a new set of rules nobody told me about.  Feh! (Since I first wrote this paragraph, Nancy Pelosi called for an investigation of who is funding the anti-Mosque clique.  Nancy's statement caused Peter King (R-NY) to find the first thing in this sad affair that he calls "reprehensible".  He should listen to some of the things his constituents have been saying if he really wants to know what reprehensible sounds like.)

Sarah Palin Tweeted, “Peace-seeking Muslims, pls understand, Ground Zero mosque is UNNECESSARY provocation; it stabs hearts.”  I actually don't have all that much to say about Sarah, except that her qualification about "Peace-seeking Muslims" reminds me of a time when people talked about "innocent AIDS victim"...because even devout Christians could discern between poor babies who got AIDS from transfusions and evil faggots who deserved what they got.  She seems to be saying, "There must be some Muslims who don't want to kill us all...I've heard about 'em".  STFU Sarah.

Rick Scott, who's running for Governor of Florida, ferChrissakes,  released a commercial called "Obama's Mosque".  I'd say I was at a loss to figure out what any of this has to do with running the State of Florida, but I guess the opportunity to run against Obama and to paint him with a Muslim brush again was too much to resist. (Scott apparently feels the need to comment on events in NY, but I can't find any comment of his regarding the May firebombing of a Mosque in Jacksonville, Fl.  I, for one, want to know if he's for it or against it!)

The thing is, I don't believe any of the politicians toeing the anti-mosque line have any heartfelt opinion on the issue one way or the other.  You can bet your ass they're just jumping on a bandwagon of political expedience and appealing to the lowest common denominator.  It's cynical and it's short sighted -- but I'll get back to that.

Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement calling on the developers to place their mosque somewhere else "out of sensitivity".  Since then, he's issued a statement attempting to clarify the League's position.  Sorry Abe, I'm not buying it.  I've questioned some of the  ADL's positions before as over-reactions or paranoia, but I've never doubted the moral clarity behind those positions.  I don't care how many statements or acts you can point to in the past, you're still wrong on this issue.  Freedom of Religion doesn't come in shades or degrees -- it's either absolute or it doesn't exist at all.  If you want to regain your moral high ground, you'll reverse your position. (Since writing this paragraph, Gov. Paterson (NY) offered to help find an alternate site - on State property? -- and was rebuffed.  Archbishop Timothy Dolan also wants to see if he can mediate finding an alternate location.  They both may be well meaning, but they're wrong.)

All of these statements boil down to what I heard one "man-on-the-street" saying on the local news last night..."I believe in Freedom of Religion...just not here." And all of these politicians are falling all over each other to pander to this deep-thinker and his ilk.

If you want to know what constitutes an actual desecration of Ground Zero...it's the fact that we're still referring to it as Ground Zero.  Nine years after the attacks, when we should be looking at a towering new World Trade Center...something like this:

We're still looking at a hole in the ground.  This is an AP photo from a week or so ago, showing the progress, or lack thereof. One of (I think) five new buildings has reached 20 stories of structural steel.  Impressive, huh?

Immediately after the attacks, I had the knee-jerk, childish idea that flags should be flown at half-staff until there was a topping off ceremony for the new World Trade Center.  Something about replacing those buildings as quickly as possible seemed an important goal to me and the idea of raising the flag back to the top of flagpoles only when the last beam was hoisted to the top of a new World Trade Center seemed an appropriate memorial and statement of resilience.  But then, I figured that was a stupid idea, since it would probably take four or five years to actually put up the new towers.  At the rate they're going, my stupid idea would have had the flags at half-staff until 2017 or so. 

And I'm realizing that even that isn't what gets me so worked up every time I hear some new proclamation from another blowhard.  It's this.  Since the last election there's been a lot of talk about "taking back our country".   There were lot's of slogans that obliquely (and not so obliquely) hinted at armed revolution to prevent our country from being taken from us.  Right wing politicians latched onto the anger and fed it with more and more mindless slogans...while disavowing any consequences that might result.  And as soon as that had a chance to die down a little, we start this shit.

There are a lot of politicians grabbing onto this issue because they've got nothing else.  Some of it is opportunism.  Some of it's a lack of imagination.  Some of it, as I said, is an appeal to the lowest common denominator.  And some of it is the craven fear that if they don't jump on the bandwagon, they'll be seen as soft on Terrorism. (Harry Reid is just plain terrified and will apparently take any position to avoid unemployment.)

Regardless, it's all really fucking dangerous.  During the 50's and 60's, all a Southern DixieCrat had to do to get reelected was to spout off about segregation.  It was easy and it got populist votes from poor and lower-middle-class whites (when there weren't many black votes to worry about), and the people mouthing off about it didn't really give a shit one way or the other...their socio-economic position wasn't threatened by an empowered black population.  So, George Wallace stood in the school's doorway and when the National Guard made him move, he smiled and waved at his white constituents and announced that he'd done his job -- safe for one more election.  Eventually, Black America decided it had eaten enough Jim Crow, resulting in a horribly painful period of American History.  Let enough pressure build up because it's easier to ignore it and eventually, things are going to blow.  And nobody gets off easy.

It's easy now for politicians to go after easy votes over an issue they may or may not honestly care about.  It's easy now to claim you're not anti-Muslim...just "sensitive" to the emotions of some people you've never met or spoken to.  It's also easy to claim that you've never vilified all of Islam -- while making it clear that they're actually all suspect unless they make a daily declaration renouncing terrorism and account for every dime they spend on anything larger than a Halal pushcart.  They're not suspect as long as they can prove they're not suspect.

Mayor Bloomberg, who has been one of the rare lights of reason in all of this, gave a speech on  August 3rd, the day the NYC Landmarks Commission rightly decided that 51 Park Place is a building of no historic significance and removed any block they might have made toward the mosque.  One of the things he had to say was, 
...I believe that this is as important a test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime ... and it is critically important that we get it right.
The reason the Founding Fathers felt so passionate about the idea of Freedom of Religion was because they, themselves were escaping centuries of State-sponsored despotism in the name of religion.  They had a variety of religious convictions and had no intention of letting anyone dictate to them or their children on that score ever again. (I'm personally aghast at the idea that crowns actually changed hands over things like the question of Transubstantiation.)

BP thought they could continue on the path of least resistance in the Gulf of Mexico -- drilling away happily while refusing to make sure there was a working Blow-out preventer in place.  We've all seen what that got us and how difficult it was to cap the well once it got out of control.  Now a bunch of politicians are blithely hollering the first thing that comes into their pointy little heads and thinking that getting their constituents angry won't  have a blowing-point.
There is no truth to the idea that all of Islam is at war with America, but if we keep trying hard enough, I'm certain we can make it true.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Today's Exercise in Impotent Rage. (with Updates)

Note #1:  Some of you know exactly who and what I'm talking about here.  Whether you know, or think you know, please refrain from making comments that might identify anyone.  I'm not naming names until it's time to pull the gloves off.

Note #2:  I'll also endeavor to refrain from calling anyone a scumbag, asshole, fuck-knuckle, jerkoff, douchebag, syphalitic thieving whore, or pustulent liar in this post.  That might be perceived as rude.

For the moment, I'm only going to give you the short story.  I'm pissed off and there isn't a whole lot I can do about it right now.  I worked for a certain company 50 days ago and they haven't paid me (in spite of telling me "next week" at least 3 times).

Last Friday's excuse was that the studio hasn't given them the payment they were owed in mid-June and they'll pay me as soon as they receive that.  Even if that is the case, a few things occur to me.

1. In spite of having no income from their intended source in mid-June, they continued to hire people to work for them through the end of June...with no idea how they might be able to pay them.

2. None of the people I buy shit from let me have the stuff and then pay them whenever I get some money.  If I want the pipes to stop leaking, the plumber wants money.  The guy at the grocery store has this really obnoxious attitude that I should give him a couple of dollars if I want to walk out with a loaf of bread.

3. Each of the "Producers" who have promised me I'd be paid "any time now" is in a position to (eventually) reap a profit from this project in addition to any negotiated fee he's getting.  Why the hell am I financing your little show with no expectation of ever getting anything more than my rate.  And who do you think you are that you get to decide that I should do without the money for a while instead of you.  Here's an idea:  If you need a loan to finish your show, call your Mommy. Pull the money out of your own bank account and PAY ME.

There's a ton more about this that stinks, but I've been obsessing about it a little, so I just felt like getting it off of my chest.  Their last email had the definitive statement that I'd be PAID IN FULL THIS WEEK.  If they don't live up to that, I'll pull off the gloves and start going after them from every avenue of attack* I can think of.

It's been something like 23 years since I've had to fight a Production Company to get paid and I'd forgotten how impotent a feeling it is.  There are avenues of recourse, but I hesitate to go in any of those directions until I'm reasonably convinced that they really intend to stiff me (instead of just being unconscionable scumbags -- oops, that one slipped).  If they don't pay, most of the options for recouping my money are time consuming and will cost me money to pursue.  On the plus side, most of those same avenues will cost them a bunch more than it would to just pay me in the first place (triple damages in some instances) -- not to mention, they'd have a difficult time hiring crews in NY in the future with a Class E Felony for Theft of Service conviction.

*While I'm not looking for advice on legal recourse, I will take any ideas you've got on how to harass, annoy and/or embarrass them.  I already know how to publicize their misbehavior (and yes, there are some names involved who would probably hate being associated with that type of publicity).  I also know some rather easy ways to spread the word through the film community that these people don't pay their bills. No, I'm thinking "Oceans Eleven" type comeuppances -- only legal.  If it comes to it, I'll be delighted to have them know who is behind their discomfort as long as I don't give them any rope to hang me with.

P.S. On the very remote chance that the producers involved are reading this, all my thoughts of unpleasantness will fade away the moment your check clears.  On the other hand, any thoughts I may have ever had about not wanting to "burn any bridges" are long gone already.  I'm not exactly pining for an opportunity to work for you again.

[/end venting]

Update #1: (8/20) Remember that thing where they said I'd be "paid in full" this week?  They also said they'd send me an email when the check went out.  So yesterday, Thursday, August 19th, I realized I hadn't seen any email yet.  I sent them a note mentioning that and asking whether they were FedExing the check for Friday delivery...otherwise I couldn't see how I'd be paid this week.  I got an email a short time later saying they'd be "sending out your check today as promised".   I'll wait to see if I actually get anything (and I'll check the date of the postmark), but I think they've got some difficulty discerning between "sending" and "receiving".  I'm not sure about you, but most of the people I have to pay money to don't consider it "paid" until it's in their hands.  Oh, well...if I get the check (and it's good), I'll just consider that a quibble.  After all, a week earlier, they had asked me for a new invoice -- they had "lost" the one I submitted 6 weeks earlier -- because they were "doing payables".  Most people I know define "doing payables" as paying them -- not just figuring out how much money you owe to how many people.

I'll let you know how it all works out.

Update:(8/21)  So, FedEx showed up yesterday a little before 3:00pm.  With an Envelope.  And inside the envelope --- A CHECK!  (which I promptly deposited).  It's worth noting that this was a personal check from the producer I've been hectoring via email.  This would seem to indicate that the network still hasn't paid the production company (?).   I'd spend a moment or two feeling mildly guilty about this...but I don't.

Move along now folks.  Nothing here to see.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh Well...Here's a Cat.

I'm at a distinct loss for anything to write about. (Have been for a day or two.)


It is, however, important that I put up something new...if for no other reason than to get that picture of Steven Slater to slide further down the front page.  Eventually, to disappear, forever...but, in the meantime, I'm sick of finding him mugging at me every time I scroll down just a teeny tiny bit.

So, while I wait for inspiration to strike...here's a cat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

JetBlue: The Movie

Personally,  I don't really care whether Steven Slater is jerk or a hero for storming off of his JetBlue flight early the other evening.  I don't care whether or not one of the passengers provoked his hissy-fit.

None of that's important.  I'm most concerned with two important aspects of the story that the media are either getting completely wrong, or missing altogether.

 First, The Today Show is all excited because they've got Slater's Ex-Wife on the show this morning.  I have no idea what she's got to say about the whole thing, but her very existence makes me wonder something...

Did this guy ever really think he was straight long enough to walk down the aisle with a woman?  Holy Liberace!

Second, everyone is falling all over themselves looking for comparisons to Howard Beale.  Well, everyone is dead wrong.  Slater's no Howard Beale...He's Johnny!

  Ted Striker: Mayday! Mayday!
Steve McCroskey: What the heck is that?
Johnny: Why, that's the Russian New Year. We can have a parade and serve hot hors d'oeuvres...

 This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...

 Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
 Where did you get that dress, it's awful, and those shoes and that coat, jeeeeez!
Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, Toto! It's a twister! It's a twister! 
 Or maybe most appropriately...
Steve McCroskey: Johnny, how 'bout some more coffee?
Johnny: No, thanks!
How are we to trust the media when they continue to get things so obviously wrong.  Didn't anyone ever teach them subtext?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You've Seen The Omen, Right?

Damien's really cute at the beginning of that movie too!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Head-Butt Man: Hero to Oppressed Upper West-Siders, or Unsuspecting Stooge of THE MAN?

 Heroic Production Assistant Holds Back Hordes of Upper West-Siders Who Can Walk Where They Wanna Walk, Motherfucker!

I don't think this got much national press, so you'll be forgiven for having missed it, but, over the weekend, one New Yorker took offense at being asked to wait a moment before crossing the street. It seems he had come upon a movie shoot in progress for Premium Rush, an action movie being shot in the city right now.  The short story is that the production was shooting a scene in which Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, plays a bicycle messenger and he's being chased by someone for some reason or other.  Breffny Flynn (what kind of fucking name is that anyway), got pissed off about being inconvenienced and head-butted the Production Assistant who tried to get him to wait before walking into the street.  The PA was treated for injuries and Breffny (say that three times, fast), was arrested and issued a desk appearance ticket before being released.

The production was shooting a scene in which Leavitt's character is riding southbound on Broadway and doing all of that exciting traffic-dodging stuff that bicycle messengers do.  The camera was, apparently, mounted on a motorcycle tracking the action from the northbound lanes of Broadway.  There are a couple of things to note here.  1.) The article makes it clear that none of the stars were present on set at the time, which would seem to indicate that this was a 2nd Unit or Stunts Unit shooting (i.e. all the most choreographed dangerous shit), and 2.) Since there was action on one side of the road and a camera operating on the opposite side of the road, the production might have needed control of all traffic in the immediate vicinity to prevent...uh...killing and/or maiming a bunch of people while getting the shot.

Depending on who you want to listen to, Breffny is a hero to the masses who are constantly inconvenienced by movies shooting in their neighborhoods (and then, inexplicably, are willing to stand in line for three days to plunk down $20/head to see on a screen), or a menace to Production Assistants world-wide, who are just doing their jobs!  I've seen reports (although I can't find one right now), saying that Breffny is a member of IATSE Local One -- the NY Stagehands Union -- which would make for a delicious bit of irony. ( While roughing in lighting for a revival of Miss Saigon, Mr. Flynn suffered massive injuries when the helicopter from the show's finale was lowered onto his head. Other stagehands had considered warning him to stay out of the area, but chose not to "tell..Flynn... where to go, motherfucker")  The article also states that  "Lafferty’s (the injured PA's) job was to keep the six-block area clear of pedestrians and vehicles".  I'm certain there were a minimum of  4-10 P.A.s doing crowd control on each block, but this just gives me the mental image of Lafferty riding a horse up and down Broadway trying to keep thousands of cats on the sidewalk all by himself.

Anyway, people seem to be choosing sides, but I see a third possibility.  For years, Producers have had P.A.s put up signs at the entrance to filming areas stating that there was filming in progress and that "by entering the area, you consented to having your image used in the movie".  (As a side note, this probably has some legal weight when posted at a clearly definable entrance to some bit of private property, but I've always doubted it's effectiveness when they're just posted on a public street.  Well, that, and they seem a little rude.)  Regardless, we've always, more or less, made do with asking people to hold up a minute or so, and since most people aren't complete douchebags, it's worked out OK.  And sometimes, some douchebag has come along and ignored the PA and made a lot of noise while making sure that his right to walk unimpeded included bashing into c-stands and other demonstrations of his own particular douch-i-ness.  Instances of head-butting have been noticeably rare.  Regardless, in most cases, you're just blowing a take when said douchebag interrupts your ingenue finally kissing the leading guy.

In this particular case, it sounds like the public was being kept out of "the line of fire" as it were.  It's a lot easier to have two stunt drivers avoid any actual carnage when they only have to watch out for each other than it is to have babies, grandmothers and douchebags thrown in for extra points.  But who's to say that Breffny wasn't acting at the Producers' behest?  Hmmmmm?  Maybe they're sick and tired of hiring a bunch of PA's to keep the public out of the shot, much less off the grill of a speeding camaro?  They work for peanuts, relatively speaking, but I can't tell you how many Production Managers have balked at hiring 20 additional PA's for a scene.  Those peanuts add up!  And maybe the Producers want all the on-screen mayhem they can get for the minimum of dollars. (The "maybe" is purely rhetorical.)  The stunt coordinator probably asked for a few more pedestrians to be dodging traffic or getting hit by cars and the Production Manager surely nixed a few of them based on budget.

If only we could put up a few dozen signs near the filming periphery warning people that they "consent to being in the movie and being hit by cars and stuff" by entering the area, everybody would win...the Producers and the "don't tell me where to walk, motherfucker", crowds alike!  (OK, maybe a few PA's would lose out on a few days of work, but they don't even have a union, so fuck 'em!)

P.S.  I had a little difficulty choosing which bit of news to be all snarky about today.  This story had ample competition from the Jet Blue Flight Attendant who had to quit his job before the plane had quite arrived at the gate and the story about the NY cops who showed up at a shootout, and returned fire.  The only reason the original victim wasn't killed is that the cops only managed to hit him 21 times out of the 50 shots they fired.  That's some fine shootin' Lou!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Six Dollar Man!

See this really cool bionic-type hand?  I didn't get one of these this week.  It looks like it could do all sorts of nifty shit if you had one...but I wouldn't know.  I didn't get one.  I will, however, point out, that if I had gotten one of these, I'd think the test of it's awesome powers would be whether I could bend iron bars between my fingers, or open beer bottles without the proper tools, or whether I could leave an indelible fingerprint etched into titanium with no effort whatsoever.  But that wouldn't be the test at all.  Oddly enough, the test would be whether or not I could peel a banana with my super hand without crushing it...which I can totally do with my natural-normal non-bionic hand!  And that leaves me wondering (a little) what the point would be, but nobody pays me to wonder that sort of stuff, so I'll wonder more when I get offered a better contract.

Anyway...I didn't get anything remotely bionic this week.  The truth is that I didn't really get any kind of replacement or augmentative parts, but I kinda felt like I was getting things like that all week. Only, the bionic parts I felt like I was getting, were distinctly non-powered parts.  Like, if I had  gotten a bionic hand this week, it would have been just oatmeal stuffed into a rubber glove.  And if I'd gotten a bionic leg, it would have been like those sticks the guys carry in the parks with nails on the end to pick up litter...and every step I would have taken with my non-bionic nail-stick leg, would have involved stopping for a minute or two to unstick my leg from the ground and from whatever litter I might have picked up along the way.

I don't have bionic eyes, but my glasses work pretty well when I wipe the schmutz off of the lenses.  But, you know what?  I'd like something bionic.  Or at least something that seems bionic.  Hell, I'd settle for the sound effects.  Remember when Lee Majors was gonna run really fast, but they were too cheap to actually make it look like he was running really fast, so they made that noise like "nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh", and he moved in really slow motion, but they made the bad guys move in even slower slow motion, so he totally looked like he was going super bionic speed (well, not really, but I was like thirteen years old so I was pretty easy to fool).

Yeah...I'll settle for some bionics good enough to fool pre-adolescents.  Please let me know when to expect delivery on that.

Michigan J. Frog! With Hebrew Subtitles!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Little Boredom on a Saturday Evening.

Ennui.  Tedium.  Mental Fatigue.  The Blahs.  The Blues.  Dullness.  A State of Ho-Hum-ness. Wearisome-ness. 

I believe there are any number more words that will fit here.  Feel free to contribute to the...uh...highly descriptive of that which one might wish needed no description.

But, yeah...I'm bored.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Am I The Only One Who Is Bothered By This?

I don't know what, but something got me thinking about the Micro-States of Europe the other day.  And, frankly, I'm growing suspicious of the little fuckers.  Just what might they be up to?

You know the places I'm talking about, right?  Places like Andorra, and Lichtenstein...mere little accidental pinpricks on the map.  I mean, first of all, with centuries of warfare all over Europe; with nations rolling over each other again and again, absorbing each other and spitting out the parts they don't like, how, on Earth, do those little places continue to exist? And why are they there to begin with?

Let's start with the easy ones, shall we?  Monaco, for instance is easily explained.  First of all, it's all glamorous and shit on the Mediterranean, but without all that French snottiness.  It gives us somewhere to send glamorous movie stars when someone needs a proper breeding program for the next generation of Royalty.  And Monte Carlo is tres important!  Where else would James Bond go to play Baccarat?  or Roulette with only one "zero" on the wheel?  Hmmmm?  And half those other casinos around the world don't even care if you wear the proper evening clothes any more.

But let's think about the more evil side of things for a moment.  If I were to ask you to tell me exactly where The Principality of Monaco is located, most of you would probably make some vague waiving gesture the Mediterranean coast of France.  But would you put it nearer to Spain or to Italy?  Would it matter?  If I actually tried to tell you Monaco actually is on the Italian coast instead of France, I bet it wouldn't take all that long to convince you.  I mean, really, just how much do you have invested in keeping Monaco attached to France?

And that's kinda what got me thinking.  These are truly sneaky little places -- stealth nations.  They could pop up anywhere tomorrow and you'd never know the difference.  Now, granted, where Monaco chooses to be on any given day of the week really makes no never-mind to me, but what if Vatican City decides to re-assert some ancient something-or-other and pops up in Byzantium tomorrow?  I could see where that might be somewhat disruptive.

Lichtenstein is kinda wedged in between Austria and Switzerland. I'm betting that's been useful sometimes.  Say, for example, Austria and Switzerland are having some sort of border dispute over who actually owns some historic rock in the middle of a river.  Or maybe the river alters it's course just a little and suddenly some little podunk town is on the Swiss side of the river instead of the Austrian side.  You just let Lichtenstein ooze up into position and suddenly the entire disputed portion of the border in Lichtensteinian property and no-one's the wiser.  Border dispute diffused.  Hell, I bet Lichtenstein could make sure that Austria and Switzerland are actually separated along the entire border if they ever needed a proper time-out.  I bet little old Lichtenstein could even slide down around the corner to Italy or Slovenia if they'd come in handy there.

And I'm not particularly worried about San Marino either.  First of all, Italy's got them completely surrounded. (Although, I'm betting San Marino could sneak away in the middle of the night without Italy noticing.)  But they're also, officially, The Most Serene Republic of San Marino.  It was named that before George Orwell wrote 1984 -- they must be telling the truth.

OK, so it's not really these little places we know about that have me worried.  Hell, most of them have militaries consisting of 12 guys wearing velvet pantaloons and carrying crossbows. But if we can't keep track of the Micro-States we know about, just how many more of them are there out there and what are they up to?  I'm sure some of them are completely altruistic at heart --- little super-hero countries.  But for every one of those, I bet there's another little tiny country harboring an evil genius.

(P.S. My internet connection at the moment is not behaving.  I'm going to hit "publish", and I have no idea what will actually happen.  If, however, this post is filled with typos, or nonsense, or is in any other way, sub par, blame it on the denizens of The Most Beneficent Tyranny of the Moveable Geography of Glendorrianna.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

And Now...An Overheard Snippet, Completely Devoid of Context.

Delivered at very high volume.
If somebody doesn't get me some ice right this Goddamn minute I'll get it myself...I swear I will!  I'm fat and I'm naked and that won't stop me!  It'll all be on YOUR conscience!