January 30, 2005

Democratic Undermineground Bemoans Freedom

The tyranophiles at Democratic Underground are in top form today. ShinerTX is disgusted that Iraqis are voting. Honestly, I don't know what type of nutritional deficiencies are required to allow the ideas espoused in his forum entry titled "The Iraq vote is making me sick this morning". Take a gander at these choice lines:

I had to turn off CNN because they kept focusing on the so-called "voters" and barely mentioned the resistance movements at all. Where are the freedom fighters today? Are their voices silenced because some American puppets cast a few ballots?

Wow. The Ba'athists and foreign terrorists are "freedom fighters" and voters are "puppets". "If you try to vote I will kill you! I am a freedom fighter and you will do as I say!" Er... Shiner? The freedom fighters are voting.
ShinerTX just can't wrap his mind around what he's witnessing:

I can't believe the Iraqis are buying into this "democracy" bullshit. They have to know that the Americans don't want them to have power, because they know that Bush is in this for the oil, and now that he finally has it he's not going to let it go. This election is a charade.

Yeesh. That's right, folks. Obviously we're there to, somehow, steal their oil (though, I've never understood the logistics of how that might happen), and thus the elections are moot. Wont matter. It's all a distraction meant to lull the Iraqi people into a false sense of security so we can catch them unaware when we finally enslave them, mwah hah hah hah hah!!

Dazed and confused by the behavior of the duped Iraqis, ShinerTX then wonders if the Iraqis are onto the Americans' evil plans:

Maybe they're afraid and felt they had to vote. That's the only way I can explain it to myself.

See, it's fear of the coalition forces and the new Iraqi government -- with their long histories of feeding people into plastic shredders -- that is frightening them to the polls where they are in danger of being blown up by "freedom fighters". That's the only thing that makes sense, dag nab it!

Or, ShinerTX hopes, maybe they're dancing in the streets because they're voting for anti-democratic candidates...:

They're voting in candidates who they know will widen the resistance, take the fight to the streets, and finally drive the occupying forces out of their country. Perhaps they're smiling because--right under the American's noses--they're planting the seeds of a bigger and more effective resistance movement. Wouldn't that be fitting? Use *'s own tools against them?

Y'know, faith in a false premise can lead you to some really interesting revelations. If God Himself appeared and told a JFK conspiracy theorist that Oswald acted alone, he'd shout "Why, this conspiracy goes even further than I thought!" ShinerTX can't understand what he's seeing because he can't accept that Bush isn't Hitler. Pathetic. I almost feel sorry for the guy.

After spewing some rot about how Bush's inaugural address was an announcement of a world war on all non-democratic governments, ShinerTX concludes:

Let's hope the resistance got voted in, or if not, they only increase the fight and take down those who betrayed their country today by voting in this fraud election.

"Please let them vote for tyrants and terrorists who'll kill more Americans!" This is what "Democratic" Underground stands for, folks. Well... at least the member sobriquetted (sobriqued?) ShinerTX. I'm a-gonna explore a little more and see what else is there...

UPDATE: Thankfully there are some DU'ers who aren't so wacked out. While most of the other posters I've read echo many of ShinerTX's points (ie: the election is a sham), some commenters are genuinely appalled at what some posters and commenters have written. One example from ermoore (a regular with 383 comments under his/her belt) responding to another commenter:

Hey, it's fine to oppose * and repukes, but you need to step back and look at what you're saying. This is sad and ridiculous.

"They are fighting against all odds to preserve the integrity of their country from an occupying force. What is not to admire and respect about that?"

WTF?!!! Are you serious?!

You do realize that we invaded Iraq and not Sweden, right? There's a helluva lot not to respect and admire about people who would rather have Saddam in power than a democracy (yes, even an American-imposed democracy), especially when their means of opposition is killing civilians.

Are you one of those people who think that Stalin was a great hero and that the USSR was people's paradise to be emulated by all?

"Do they make mistakes? I'm sure they do. Do innocent people get hurt? Probably."

What we have here is a failure to communicate. You see, their mistake isn't when civilians are killed. They're trying to kill civilians. Civilians are the targets. "Probably"? You make me sad for the state of DU. Disgusting.

Thank you, ermoore, for restoring my faith in rationality among Democrats.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:10 PM | Comments (4)

Hitchens on fire

Christopher Hitchens in on c-span right now. He's blasting the liberal media and he is Loaded. For. Bear.

"They called it a quagmire and couldn't get away from it. There are many reporters and news organizations who want this to fail because if it doesn't they'd be proved wrong."

"The New York Times, for instances, didn't even want these elections to take place all. They wanted fear of violence to cancel or postpone the elections, contradicting the conventioanl wisdom in our own country."

"They politely call Zarqawi an "insurgent" when he isn't even an Iraqi."

Go Hitch!!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 29, 2005

When I Got Nothin', This Is my Go-To Meme

This is fun! (For me, anyway...)

1. Pick 13 movies that you enjoy.
2. Pick a line of dialog that you like.
3. As people guess the film, strike out that entry.
4. NO cheating!!! That means NO: Google, IMDb, etc.!

1: "If he was much of a friend he would have given you the directions himself."
2: "What does Johnny Rocco want? I know what Johnny Rocco wants. He wants more."
3: "Where's the rest a'me?!" [david]
4: "Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find." [Steven Macklin]
5: "I may go broke.... in 60 years!" [Victor
6: "All for one man.... Fubar." [Stephen Macklin]
7: "In the beginning it was great. We had fun. But then you started in on the clothes!"
8: "Not even if some fudgepacker you used to date has just been elected the first queer president of the United States, and he's invited you down to Camp David to celebrate, and you need someone to share the moment with. Not even then."
9: "Yes. Why is the top down? I'm fucking freezing."
10: "No. We've made too many retreats already. They invade our space.. and we fall back. They annex entire worlds.. and we fall back. Not this time. The line must be drawn... HERE! THIS far, No farther! And I-I-I-I-I will make them PAY for what they've done... [Squire Trelane]
11: "For some: their El Guapo is shyness. For others: it's a lack of education." [Bill]
12: "I think Jack's been pissing in my relief tube..." [Ted]
13: "Hey, I can walk you...!"

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:51 PM | Comments (9)

January 28, 2005

Even morer fun! (I hope)

Okay, so the quotes in the previous post were a bit obscure even though they (mostly) come from very popular movies. F'rinstance, "That's my boat" has probably been said in hundreds and hundreds of films, but the one I had in mind was Forrest Gump.

So, I'm gonna try again with some more unique dialogue. Some of these will be from the same movies as below, only they should be easier to recognize.

So, once again, here's the deal:

1. Pick 13 movies that you enjoy.
2. Pick a line of dialog that you like.
3. As people guess the film, strike out that entry.
4. NO cheating!!! That means NO: Google, IMDb, etc.!

#1: "I'm a zit. Get it?" [Trelane]
#2: "She was the only thing I ever loved, my Linda, and you killed her... you killed her... you killed her... you killed her... you killed her."
#3: "Hey, where are all the white women at?!" [Trelane]
#4: "It's only an island when you look at it from the water." [Stevie]
#5: "Until you told me that we weren't good enough, I thought high school was a blast." [Jody]
#6: "I'm your density." [David]
#7: "They say 'time is the fire in which we burn'." [Trelane]
#8: "Wait! Pull the string! Pull the string!"
#9: "No papers... state to state." [Trelane]
#10: "I had a dream that someone was playing with me gulliver."
#12: "Twelve cabins; twelve vacancies." [Ted]
#13: "'Transparent aluminum'?" [Trelane]

Come o-o-o-o-o-o-n!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:18 PM | Comments (9)

Fun, Fun and more Fun

Yay! Found a cool meme at Jen's that she found at Jim's that he found at this place. (Sorry, Dairylander. Didn't catch yer name.)

1. Pick 13 movies that you enjoy.
2. Pick a line of dialog that you like.
3. As people guess the film, strike out that entry.
4. NO cheating!!! That means NO: Google, IMDb, etc.!

Most of my favorite movies are pretty well known. So I'll try to pick more obscure lines from them. See if you can get 'em all in one shot!

#1: "Once a place like this touches you, the wind never blows so cold again."
#2: "And you were a very apt pupil, weren't you?! You were a very apt pupil!"
#3: "This is not your bedroom."
#4: "That's my boat..."
#5: "Let's fold scarves!"
#6: "What is it?!" "A relic..."
#7: "Earth, Hitler, 1938..." [Squire Trelane]
#8: "Nothing. We're just talking."
#9: "I was gonna go 50/50 with a copper...!" (This is a gimme...)
#10: "Because men don't have them."
#11: "...they'll wish their fathers had never met their mothers..."
#12: "No. It is smaller than Earth, but 6,000 times it's mass!" [Ted...?]
#13: "That's not much of a compliment, either."

Fish in a barrel. C'mon!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:02 AM | Comments (5)

January 27, 2005

Revising History Is Easy

Just lie. There are times when we peoplethings wont opt to remember the past when it's easier to hear it recounted by someone else in the present. Especially, of course, if the recounting is in line with how we want the past to have happened.

Critics of the war in Iraq, these days, often claim that President Bush made WMD the central reason for going to war. Some even assert that he claimed that the threat from Saddam's WMD was "imminent". (That second point is easy enough to refute, but it still gets repeated ad nauseum by demagogues who don't care that it's a lie, but only that it's bad if it's true. And, as long as someone might believe it, it's worth repeating...)

Exploring my own memory -- tricky business sometimes -- I think I've realized something.
The reasons given for the war were many. Yes, Saddam had ignored 17 U.N. resolutions; he had used WMD on Iraqis and Iranians; he was a murderous tyrant who mercilessly tortured men women and children and filled mass graves with their remains; he would be a menace to the region if and when the sanctions were to be lifted. Most of the reasons given were not in dispute. But, the present existence of WMD was in dispute.

Nevermind that Saddam had documentation "proving" the existence of WMD and that he had failed to provide documentation of their destruction. Maybe they never existed; maybe they were smuggled out before the war. I dunno.
The existence of WMD in Iraq was never central to the justification for Iraqi liberation. (That was Saddam not satisfying the conditions of the 1991 cease-fire.) But, since WMD existence was actually in dispute, their existence became central to the debate about the justification for war.

I looked back through my archives during the period leading up to the invasion and found a post I'd written on February 27th, 2003. It's about why I came to support the impending mission in Iraq. Conspicuously absent are references to WMD. They're not mentioned at all except for an aside, in passing, that they may, in fact, not exist.

So, at least for me, at the time, WMD in Iraq was not considered to be a major, or deciding, factor.

This was posted on the old blogspot edition of Blather Review, which means that nobody read it. So, in the interests of remembering history rather than revising it, I present a reposting of:

WHO ARE WE TO DO THIS? (The Overdue Choice of a Reluctant Warrior)

Who are we? We're Ted Bundy, and we're Todd Beamer. We're Charles Lindberg and Charles Manson. Ghandi and Stalin are in there, too, arguing...the one determined to topple the other. When examined down to the brass tacks, is there any meaningful difference between them? Are they seperate but equal philosophers, each "right" in his own way, according to his point of view? Since they each sprang from the same human gene pool, who among us--sprung from that same muddled puddle--can pass judgement on what is right and what is wrong? On what then should our moral choices be based? Should we even bother to agonize ourselves over "moral" choices at all?

Werner Heisenberg, the great German physicist, had a choice to make. Nazi Germany was taking shape...a twisted shape. With war raging and Hitler expanding his reign and his weaponry and what with concentration camps filling up with people and all, Albert Einstein fled Germany for America. Neils Bohr fled Denmark for America. Nuclear physicists, under cover of some of the darkest of all European nights, were escaping Hitler's realm, lest they be "invited" to work for the Nazi nuclear program.

Heisenberg's main achievement was his "Uncertainty Principle"; the realization that the more we established a particle's velocity, the less we are able to determine it's location, and vice-versa. And not just because of a technically limited ability to measure those properties, but because uncertainty is a basic property of sub-molecular form. Uncertainty at the base level of matter was a new and fascinating notion. Extending the idea from the microscopic to the macroscopic world was philosophically inviting. Nietzsche's "Beyond Good And Evil" was a popular read among the intellectuals of 1930's Europe, and it had two well-placed admirers.

Heisenberg found Nietzsche's thesis intriquing. Hitler found it useful. Finding no certain justification to condemn the morality of Hitler over any other, Heisenberg led Hitler's nuclear project, his quest for the atomic bomb.

In America, Albert Einstein implored President Roosevelt to get to work on an atomic weapon...as Heisenberg would surely be making significant progress. Although having made a late start, the Robert Oppenheimer-led Manhatten Project succeeded where Heisenberg's project had failed. Perhaps it was because the best scientists had fled Europe, or perhaps it was because Heisenberg's heart wasn't wholly in it. Either way, one thing that the Nazi atomic bomb project lacked was moral purpose.

It isn't very "intellectual" to talk about moral purpose. Intellectualism is, by default, academic; thoughtful, unextreme...inconclusive. But one wonders in what way that kind of academic non-definitiveness applies to the real world. Moral relativism may be a kind of denial; an "intellectual selflessness". But since when are we ever not ourselves? That amorality is a kind of unreality poetically seems to be self-evidenced by the fact that when a particular point is moot we call it "academic." Thought experiments that don't interface with life experience are moot. They are academic.

France (at times anyway) doesn't consider morality to be a moot point. When Princess Diana et al were killed in a car crash resulting from a high-speed evasion of paparazzi photographers on motorbikes, French (or, perhaps, merely Parisian) law was to come down hard on the bystanders, including the paparazzi, who offered no assistance to the crash victims. Parisians agree, then, that bystanders to a tragedy are not innocent, they are involved in the moment at hand just as much as are the victims and victimizers. To excuse one's self from the events at hand, especially moments of tragedy and/or atrocity, is to have chosen alienation over empathy; selfishness over selflessness. Amorality then reveals itself to be more than a bit self-serving.

Elie Weisel spent some time in a Nazi concentration camp. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning author whom wrote, in "Man In Search Of Himself", about that experience; and his education as a result of it. I remember clearly he imploring President Clinton (at--if memory serves--the 50th anniversay of D-Day commemorative service on June 6th, 1994) not to look the other way while "ethnic cleansing" scourged within what was left of Yugoslavia. What struck me the most was that I discerned a curious expression on the President's face as Weisel, staring to his right and directly at the President, called for what sounded like international intrusiveness. Clinton's expression seemed thoughtful...yet agitatedly so. Actually, the expression had an almost nervously self-conscious dismissiveness to it. Aw hell; Clinton seemed downright irritated by the appeal, as if he were mulling through his mind "Who are we to do that?"

Bill Clinton did eventually do it. He knew he had to intervene because, morally, it was right. And, instructively, he didn't waste time trying to corral the U.N. He simply chose not to join in the synchronous writhing of the Security Council's endlessly contorted academic self-doubt.

Today, with respect to Iraq, the U.N. is trying to decide if it cares whether or not it enforces it's own resolutions. It seems to me that the time has come to either enforce them, repeal them, or just whistle merrily down the same path to obsolescence first blazed by the League of Nations. Wake up and smell the East River, boys. To lead is to choose.

I've seen coverage of the large anti-war rallies that have recently filled world capitals...heard their arguments...witnessed their vitriol at the very idea that we have a "right" to depose a "sovereign" tyrant. In New York I saw Americans; Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, German-Americans. But we have to ask: where were the Iraqi-Americans? More specifically, where were the Iraqis whom are free to protest?

They were in Jordan, having crossed the border under cover of the darkest nights they've ever had to find the strength to see each other through. They were in American cities, too, pleading for the libertation of their country and their countrymen. We won't find Iraqi-Americans at the anti-war rallies, because they know all too well something every willfully ethically conflicted academician will never know: moral purpose. Iraqis know what evil is because they've seen what it does.

And so have we. Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, and the others...all the others; the guy with a steak knife ready to take on his first fight since 2nd grade...the flight attendent with the pot of piping hot coffee--ready to splash it over a high-jacker's face and hands...the Air Force pilot who would take the hot seat if the insurgence were to be--fingers crossed--successful.

Each woke up that morning an average Joe, a plain ol' Jane...same as we had. They, too, had grown up with cats and dogs and slingshots and Mr. Rogers... only they suddenly found themselves in a circumstance where they'd make themselves fully locked and loaded and determined to assault their captors with a brutality that they, up to that moment, probably thought could only arise from within a darkened heart. Yet, all they did was refuse to accept that their fates were sealed.
They knew that they were likely to die trying. And if they couldn't take back that plane, they would at least spare the lives of others at the hijackers' intended target.

Morality is something we can--and should--examine; but not as a maze of semantic vaguery that we'll never be able to exit. Sometimes we don't think we know that as clearly as we do. The passengers of flight 93 weren't constipated with some academic uncertainty when they faced their moment of decision. They made a choice (perhaps--I hope--the only choice that we could have made), and it was correct. We know that because we honor their choice.
And not just because it may have saved others on the ground. We, I think more deeply, honor their choice because of what it showed us about ourselves. We may have Ghandi and Hitler within us, hiding and arguing somewhere in an unexplorable recess of our psyche; but we know now, through vivid example, that we have every reason to expect that we too can rise above isolation, alienation, and fight...yes, fight...for the reclamation of life, liberty and dignity.

I am a very reluctant warrior, and it's taken me a long time to come around to supporting the mission to liberate Iraq. And it will be a struggle; ground troops will have to go in -- and lots of 'em. But I believe that the degree of horror that is Saddam's method -- judging from what is known of it and what is feared to be discovered -- as it terrorizes a nation, is enough madness to call us to reclaim the very human nature of moral clarity from the circular doubt of a cynical academic approach.

Do we have to free an entire nation or region's population from the terror in the mirror we call Saddam? No. But we do know that we can do it. And maybe that's all we need to know because, I think, we want to find the will to do it because that's who we are.

[End Note: It's interesting the idea of changing the nature of the Middle Eastern regimes, using Iraq as the focus, isn't mentioned either. I believe I considered that as an aspect of the mission only after the war had started. --TS]

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Kristina Goes Home A Bride of Tragedy

Newsmax laughed heartily when a Chappaquiddick-like tragedy struck us a couple of days ago. I can't believe I still have them as my IE Homepage...

For the unintiated: In local news: Kristina Kalganova will fly back to her native Russia in a wedding gown.

This is how the 21-year-old Russian expatriate's parents, Larisa and Valeri Kalganova [sic. The masculine form would be "Kalganoff" - TS], want to see their tragedy-struck daughter for the last time.


Please read this Link. Kristina came to America as an exchange student at the prodding of her on-line friend Jane. She lived with Jane's mom right here in Bridgeport.

Apparantly, she didn't pick her boyfriends very well 'cause she drowned in a pond in Stamford a few days ago because Lucky Loaiza abandoned her when she needed him most.

Kristina Kalganova died horribly on Jan. 15. Her boyfriend, Francisco Loaiza of Stratford, stands accused of manslaughter with a motor vehicle in connection with her death in a car sinking to the bottom of a Stamford pond.

Friends of the nearly penniless Kalganova have rallied to raise money to send her remains home. A Stamford woman whose husband died in the World Trade Center disaster of 2001 is among the major benefactors.

A pledge drive began to send the girl's remains home so her parents could see her one last time.

And she's going home; escorted by her friend Jane.

The most difficult part for Jane Oleksy will come Friday night. That's when she boards a flight at Kennedy International Airport in New York to bring Kristina home.

Meeting her best friend's parents is likely to be especially awkward. Though she's spoken to them before, this will be the first time they'll meet face-to-face. Over Kristina's silver-toned casket.

"Kristina would say she'd want me to come to Russia with her and visit her family. But it's bad to meet them like this," Jane Oleksy said. "But this is the least I can do for her and her family. I wouldn't want somebody else to go with her. That's not even a question for me."

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:53 AM | Comments (2)

January 26, 2005

Darn it

All the time in the world to think up posts and no time left to frickin' blog!
I'll be crawling out of bed in a few hours if anyone needs me.

Oh, and did I mention that, yesterday, I've met the girl of my dreams?! I'd seen her before, plenty of times, riding the #11 bus. She's a pretty 30-something emigre from the Ukraine who fi-i-i-i-nally got around to bumming a cigarette off me.

"May I ask to bum a cigarette from you, or pay?"


This dirty-blonde, dark-eyed, petite, slavic goddess just asked me for a favor. Punch me, I'm dreaming.
Of course, I waved off her offer of the quarter. Please oh please just speak some Russian to me!

We had a nice conversation about language, and how I tried to teach myself Russian some 15 years ago just 'cause it sounded so beautiful, but I never got her name and never told her mine.

So now all I gotta do is figure out how I'm gonna meet her again...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 02:15 AM | Comments (5)

January 23, 2005

Johnny Carson (1925-2005)

"I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex and rich foods. He was healthy right up to moment he killed himself."
-- Johnny Carson

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:10 PM | Comments (1)

"Smell The Sound" (...and other quotes out of context)

So anyway, one day about ten years ago I was driving along tht Merritt Parkway and I could smell the beach. Seaside Park is, I guestimate, about two miles south of the Parkway, but it was a warm clear day and, for some reason, the smell of the saltwater of Long Island Sound came wafting through my open windows.

"Hey," I thought, "I can smell the Sound!"
Taken out of context, that phrase might make someone wonder what kind of acid I had dropped.

Friday night Tex's girlfriend Jessie - who works at a daycare center - was telling me about all of the sentences she hears on a daily basis that, she's certain, must have never been spoken aloud before. These are the "daily quotes" that Tex just has to hear from Jessie at the end of each day.

"Stop riding the refridgerator!" was Friday's quote.

The only other one I can remember was one mentioned by Norm: "Could you hand me that piano?" (I have no idea what the context of that one was.)

Anybody got any good ones you wanna share?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 02:31 PM | Comments (1)

January 20, 2005

And can we say enough about this guy?


Now that's optimism.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:31 PM | Comments (0)

Like....Mirror.... pt 2

I ended my last post stating that the last 1/3rd of the Inaugural Address addressed domestic issues. Having read the text I realize that the domestic policy issues were limited pretty much to a single paragraph:

"In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights. And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools, and build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance - preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear, and make our society more prosperous and just and equal."

Bush goes on to discuss the situation at home not in policy terms, but in personal terms. For the duration of the speech Bush sounds more like Joel Osteen than Condi Rice.

"In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private character - on integrity, and tolerance toward others, and the rule of conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the governing of the self".

Here is where GWB transforms from a mere freedom-fightin' chief executive to a would-be national and personal spirit guide.
"That edifice of character is built in families, supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.

Americans move forward in every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came before - ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Andrew Sullivan and others will, no doubt, interpret that as "code words" for anti-gay marriage, I expect. Bush is saying that the truth that was true yesterday will still be true tomorrow so let's keep it true today. I don't think he meant it to be specific to any aspect, but I can't speak for the speechwriters, mheh. (I support civil/legal unions of loving homosexual couples so shut up.)

I call myself a "Social-Federalist". I jokingly say that it's "just to confuse people," but I mean it. Freedom isn't just about liberty, it requires the opportunity to build on it. Some, by virtue of their circumstances, can find few opportunities. Yet, they deserve freedom from want and freedom from desolation. Why? Because we, as Americans, believe that Freedom is our best future, so we'd better take good f#*@&ng care of those who find their talents and/or starting points to be just a bit too hard to overcome in an opportunistic world. It's all about balance, m'friends. I could tell ya the story of Kevin, but nevermind.

Anywho, George speaks:

"In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by service, and mercy, and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not mean independence from one another. Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love.

Beautiful. Nixon once said that, among the world's leaders, "there are poets and there are pragmatists. Mao is all poet." I'd say that Bush is more poet than pragmatist, meaning that he is an idealogue more than a wonk. I'd put him up there with Reagan, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Madison and Lincoln. Plato's "philosopher kings" dream come true.

Pragmatists might include Nixon himself, Clinton, Wilson and Johnson. But, mainly and thankfully, they've been left to reign in other lands.

"Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth."

Ooo. A not so thinly veiled abortion reference. That's tact.

"And our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time."

The conviction with with he delivered this line almost made me get up and cheer. I thought that his delivery, overall, was a bit lacking. But this was one is his bestestly delivered lines. Woo Hoo!

And, as if invoking the "thousand years is as a day and a day is as thousand years" line from the Bible:

"From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"

Celebrating everyday's generous and unselfish character is his mission in life; you can see it in his eyes. He believes in love and People and has faith in Humanity. A dreamer. Just like us.
Some comentary I've heard asked why GWB never addressed the "great divide", the purpleness of our thought and country. Well, he did right next:
"These questions that judge us also unite us because Americans of every party and background, Americans by choice and by birth, are bound to one another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be healed to move forward in great purposes - and I will strive in good faith to heal them. "

But it gets better...

"Yet, those divisions do not define America."

"We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack, and our response came like a single hand over a single heart."


"And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free."
"We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul.

When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on Liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner "Freedom Now" - they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled.
History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if it meant something."

In our time it means something still. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world, and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength - tested, but not weary - we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.

This man is neither ahead of his time nor behind it, and neither are we. This is such a moment for now. I live my life to be a good person, and I know that we're all alike in that. So, we know that it's not up to government to see after us; it's up to us to after each other.

Kerry supporters are welcomed and will be respected. But, please, wont ye at least aknowledge that Freedom can't be attained by cowering from conflict? Wont you finally admit that Peace is present only when Liberty is secured? Wont you admit that beating the shit out of tyrants is the only way to preserve our own sacred Liberty?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:37 PM | Comments (1)

Wow. It was like looking in the mirror

I've watched every inaugural address live on TV since 1976, with the exception of Reagan's 2nd in 1985. (I was in the Air Force then and, y'know, couldn't take the day off from work.)
They're usually great speeches and I like to hear them in their entirety rather than in sound bites on the news, or read them in dry text. So, I took the day off from work. We've been slow for a couple of weeks now so 'taint no biggie.

The first part of today's Inaugural Address was like listening to my own thoughts psychicly channeled into the speechwriter's hand. Now I know that GWB is clear in his vision. I (and many of us, I know) could've written that thing.

The first part of George W Bush's speech was a proclamation of bold new mission for America and all free nations. President Kennedy, forty-four years ago today, promised the world that "we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." President Bush goes even further.

Not content to preserve liberty where it exists, Bush stated that it was now, in these times, in our national interest to see that freedom is expanded until it, one day, reigns worldwide.

I was going to pick out a few lines here and there, but ended up copy/pasting the entire speech. So, for those who missed it, here is the first half -- or more -- of President Bush's inaugural address, sans the introduction. Bolded lines are my emphasis, of course. And I dang near ended up embolding (?) the whole thing!.

"Our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together.
For a half century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical. And then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one.

From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen, and defended by citizens, and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test America's resolve, and have found it firm.

We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation: The moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right. America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies.

We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies, yet rights must be more than the grudging concessions of dictators; they are secured by free dissent and the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice without freedom, and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty - though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt.
Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world:

All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: we honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel, and we depend on your help. Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies' defeat.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens: From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it.

By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well - a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress, and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause - in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy … the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments … the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths that honored their whole lives - and we will always honor their names and their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism, and some for the first time. I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers. You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself - and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage, because we have essential work at home - the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

That's about 2/3rds of the address. What follows is the domestic agenda, which has some very interesting lines.

But, C-SPAN is re-running the address now, so I'm gonna watch!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:52 PM | Comments (0)

Home Late Again

And not enough time to spend writing Moby Chicken, pt 4 -- though I do have the rest of it all nearly worked out. (Trying to work in more laughs.) Pts 4 and 5 might have to wait 'til Saturday and Sunday as if anyone cares.... :P

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Moby Chicken, pt 3

"Ishtar," Habanero sighed, "I've been working for Baja for seex years. He knows how to run a company and, like I always say, I'd follow heem into battle any time and anywhere."

We'd been driving along the narrow paths in the woods for about half an hour. "How far is that 'hilly area' Baja mentioned?" I figgitted.

"About five or six miles," spoke a voice from the back seat of our Jeep.

"Yeah, five or six miles," chimed in another. Pete and Repeat were egg packers, and they always seemed eager to do whatever they could to make Baja proud of them. "We're not even close, yet. In fact, we're still near the farm."

"Yep. Still near the farm," echoed Pete. "And it looks like we're stopping again."

The convoy came to a halt along the edge of a long 2-foot high stone wall just as a fella came running up on the other side.

"Frapple!" he called out. "Got a question about some of these returns!"

"Who's that?" I asked Habbi.

"Dat's Silo," he replied. "He runs de recycle area. You'fe never been out here before?"

"No," I confessed. "What are they recycling?"


Frappled stepped over the stone wall and began walking down the opposite hill with Silo. Then he turned around and shouted, "We're gonna be here for a few minutes if you all wanna stretch your legs!"
We all got out of the Jeeps and stood around for a few minutes.

"You wanna see what goes on here?" asked Pete.

"Yeah, wanna see?" asked Repeat. Habbi, Pete, Repeat and I stepped over the wall and followed Frapple and Silo down the hill to an assembly of large machines. They were droning along somewhat loudly but smoothly.

I noticed an open box of packaged whole chickens and cornish hens. "They're going to spoil in this sun," I said aloud to no one in particular.

"Too late to worry about dat," Habbi said dryly. "Dese are de returns. When de expeeration date passes and de cheekens haf not been sold, dey get sent back here, where we recycle them."

"How do you recycle expired meat?" I asked quite confusedly.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." he answered.

I meandered my way closer to the machinery. I could hear Pete and Repeat's voices talking about what is done with the old meat -- something about fertilizer and "bio-mass" research were mentioned -- but I was too focused on the box of packaged whole chickens.

A stark sense of futility came over me as I thought about what I was seeing. These were not rows of drumsticks or wings, they were whole chickens who were raised, fed, killed, beheaded and befooted, plucked, gutted, cleaned, packaged, shipped and returned for discarding. They were large, plump and, in all likelihood, still perfectly good for roasting and eating. They sat in the refridgerated bins in area markets for a week or so, and remained unsold. I couldn't turn my head. These big birds died for nothing.
I could feel someone breath on my neck.

"Don't stare for too long at this waste," Frapple said. "or soon waste will be all you can see. I've seen it happen to others."

"It's just so.....sad," I muttered still staring into the box. "We're supposed to eat what we kill. We learn that when we're young. These were, in the end, slaughtered and thrown away."

"The butcher shops, restaurants and supermarkets can't prepare live chickens to each order," he said calmly. "These aren't lobsters, y'know. The best we can do is estimate the demand, and to match supply as close as possible without going under.
Don't worry."
he said as he put his hand on my shoulder, "the chickens don't know the difference." as a voice from the path above boomed out.

"Frapple!" Baja's voice boomed out from the path above. "Are you finished down there, yet?!"

"We'll be right up!" he called back. I turned to face him and he sort of smiled sheepishly.
"You'll be happy to know," he smiled, "that there's a box in the refridgerated truck that's being sent to a catfood plant. The meat's still good, it just can't be legal sold to people anymore. Baja doesn't like to waste anything either, okay?"

We walked back to the Jeeps and were soon on our way again.

It must have been three hours of rough trails, no trails, and inane conversation among our Jeep's compliment, before the lead truck came to another stop. Baja, Frapple and their front-seaters stepped out. Baja waved us all to join them.

"Gentlemen," he began, "We're getting near to where I believe Moby Chicken is hiding. I want you all to begin keeping a keen eye on our surroundings. We're looking for a large chicken, nearly the size of a turkey. She's got bright white feathers and a red 'BajaBird' tag on her left leg. If you see her, have the driver honk the horn once."

"Baja," came a voice from behind me. It was Hargus, a gutter/cleaner. "Forgive me, but it'll be getting dark soon. Shouldn't we be heading back to the farm before night falls?"

Frapple visibly bristled at the question.

"Baja knows what time it is, Hargus," he said sternly.

"We wont be heading back tonight," Baja assured us, "unless we find Moby Chicken today."

There were some groans. None of us had eaten since our chicken sandwiches at lunchtime, and we hadn't packed any food to take along on this little adventure. But, Baja had spoken, and the entire crew seemed resigned to the fact that we would likely be camping out tonight without dinner, or breakfast in the morning.

"In return for your loyalty," Baja interjected, probably sensing the hit to our collective morale, "every one of you will receive a double-sized Christmas bonus come December, and," he continued as mild cheers began to sound, "the man to first spot Moby Chicken will be paid one thousand dollars on top of it!"

The hazzahs and applause had turned nearly into a Marine Corps shoutfest. Nine employees high-fiving and carrying on like a highschool football team at a pep rally. Baja stood triumphantly. Frapple looked me in the eye after seeing that I was the only other team member struck silent by all of this.

Back into the Jeeps we piled and headed onward, all of us looking out for a big white chicken with a red tag on her left leg. This bird could be anywhere amid who knows how many hundreds of acres. My heart sank into my stomach, and it only felt emptier.

[To be continued....]

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

Moby Chicken, pt 2

About a dozen of us had set out for the surrounding woodlands, in three Jeep Wranglers, in search of Moby Chicken. Frapple and Baja were in back seat of the lead truck while I was in the passenger seat of the middle truck. The others with us were various farm employees. Butchers, feeders, packers, drivers, etc. Habanero, a chicken feeder was driving our vehicle.

"Tell me more about Moby Chicken," I asked him as we wended along a path through a field that led us to the woods.

"'T'was about a year ago, just before you joined de farm, amigo," he began as he lit a cigarette with the dash lighter. "We had a cheeken dat we used to use for breeding. She was one of our top egg-layers and she gave us many healtty cheeks to raise. Sweat meat.
She grew to almost de size of a fawking turkey, I say truefully to you. So, we called her 'Moby Cheeken'."
Habbie paused for a moment to savor a long drag from the Marlboro menthol.

"Den, one day," he continued, "Moby Cheeken began to act strangely. She woold cackle all day and all night, ronning around de henhouse and de outside range area getting all de other cheekens in an oproar. Den she started to try to break down de fencing around de coups and de yards...
"I tried to catch her one day. Frapple wanted to haf her examined for a virus or someting. She pecked my right forearm good, do you see?"
He extended his right forearm out before me to show me the underside. It was dotted with scar tissue.
"I was de lucky one," he said, shaking his head.

"And, Baja?" I asked.

"Baja was more of a hands-on presidente back den, before dat day," Habbi said wistfully. "He was in de office in de farmhouse and heard de comotion and came ronning out. Frapple tried to stop him from getting near Moby Cheeken, but Baja was a big man. He tought he coold wrestle a crocodile, you know, and ween? Moby Chicken got him in de eye and finally escaped up de meadow and into de woods."

The lead truck was coming to a stop just up ahead. We were about 50 yards from the edge of the woods and came to a halt. Baja and Frapple stepped out of the truck and walked to our hood. There, Baja unfolded a large map and spread it onto the hood of our truck.

"We're here," Baja said to Frapple, pointing to a spot on the map. "The way I figure it, Moby Chicken will probably be up in this area somewhere." Baja was pointing to an area of the map that was close to it upper-right corner. We, in the truck, had no idea at the time where this place might be.

"Why there?" Frapple inquired of our excited and fearless one-eyed leader. Baja began pointing at different areas of the map as he explained:

"She wont be hiding over here, that's too close to the road. She wont go over in this area, it's low-lying and the aroma from the sewage plant lingers there. These areas along here are too close to the edges of the woods where fox urine would ward her off. Over here is too close to our butcher rooms, and up here is where the sheep farms are. She wont go near there for fear of wolves. No, Frapple, up in this hilly area over here is where we'll find Moby Chicken," he concluded, poking the spot with his finger.

Frapple turned away slowly with a concerned and puzzled look on his face.

"What's the matter, Frapple?" Baja asked, reaching out his hand. "Aren't you feeling all right?' Frappled turn to look Baja in the eye. Baja perked up. "Oh," he sighed, "You think I've gone wacky. Don't you?" Frapple stood silently. "I'm not wacky. I'm wackiness whacked."

"Moby Chicken is a dumb bird," Frapple protested. "It was acting strangely and attacked you out of thoughtless self-defense. We need to get our work done down at the farm, Baja. Why are we pursuing this crazy bird?"

"Because she dares me to find her, Frapple," he said intensely. "She dares me to come and get her and make her pay for what she's done to me."

"A dumb bird," Frapple repeated, "who doesn't make plans, or demand explanations, and with little more awareness of it's own existence than a fish."

"No, not this one, Frapple," Baja retorted, shaking his head. "This one is different. The chicken's likeness is a mask, to hide the soul of a fox. Now let's get moving; there are only so many hours of daylight left," he concluded. Frapple walked slowly as Baja folded up the map and hurried back to the truck.

Habanero and I looked at each other silently for a moment. The lead truck began to move. Habbi revved up the engine and into woods we followed.

[To be continued....]

Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:13 PM | Comments (2)

January 15, 2005

Moby Chicken

Call me Ishtar. I'd gotten into the chicken farming business because I wanted to see the world from a different point of view. A view with a pool and garden and, maybe, a tennis court.

Okay, it's just a local chicken farm so the tennis court might have to remain a dream. But, what with the Mad Cow Disease scare in full swing, I thought I'd invest myself in a safe meat. Safer, anyway, so long as it's cooked to 160o.

I wont inflate myself; I didn't own the farm. But, with a little guile and midnight oil, I'd managed to get myself up into where my services were highly appreciated and compensated for. Mainly because I came up with the company's slogan and local billboard: "Afraid of beef? You are what you'll eat!" above a photo of a luscious steaming oven-roasted golden-brown chicken.
Nevermind that the slogan insulted the reader, the picture was too delicious to ignore. The farm went into high gear.

Leading the team was the owner, Baja. (That's pronounced bah-hah. His parents were southern California hippies who liked to hang out in Baja -- the Mexican Florida.)

His second in command was Frapple. Soon after joining the team I'd come to realize that Frapple did most of the delegating while Baja seemed to spend endless hours stewing in juices whose heat only he could feel. I was like a glorified foreman; I took Frapples guff and gave it to everyone else. Still, I felt that I was the one who kept this operation going.

"How come I never see Baja?" I asked Frapple one morning.

"He is a learned man, Ishtar. He went to Harvard Business School. Built this farm by his own sheer will Almost got on Jeopardy last year. He sees things from a higher vantage than you and I." Sumpm' was up.

One morning -- oh, it might have been in mid-autumn sometime -- Baja called a companywide meeting. Companywide meetings were rare. Mainly because they were usually simple procedure checks. And we had our procedure down pat. But this time was different.

Baja commanded a room as soon as he walked into it. As imposing on us as the grill is on a rack of drumsticks. He was a strong man with an eyepatch. A frickin' eye-patch. Now there's the maverick spirit for ya. He strode about the casual assembly for a few moments and finally spoke.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you do great work," he said. I, and I think all of us, were relieved to hear the meeting begin that way. "But there is now a great task ahead of us," he continued. "Our mission now is not to simply produce edible fowl, but to avenge an effete foul."

We weren't sure what he was talking about as he paced and muttered under his breath. His twitching was setting some of us wrong, but Frapple would occassionally nod an indication that this was all in his way. Was it a comforting glance? Even Frapple seemed unsure. It was just a glance.

"Our mission now," Baja continued, "is to find that renegade, Moby Chicken. By all that is holy, I swear; she has laid her last egg!"

"Sir," Frapple interjected, "Wasn't it Moby Chicken who pecked your eye and, since then, you wear that patch?"

"Moby Chicken," Baja muttered with disdain. "I'll not rest until a roasting fire is all Moby Chicken can see. She is of another world, I truely tell you, friends. Suspicious, suspecting and wise she attacks my own eyes."

Baja drew a cleaver from within his jacket and raised it to the air.

"She escaped into the woods and there will we find her!" he wailed as he slammed the cleaver into a wooden desktop. "A chicken for an eye! Are you with me, men?!"

The clarion shouting in the room drowned out any forming questions that may or may not have been coming to me.

I, humbly relaxing, watched the room become Baja.

[....to be continued......]

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:02 PM | Comments (1)

Slept Late

Slept late this morning;
slept late.
Dreamt about what I don't think about when I'm awake.
Somewhere I stopped looking for someone with your embrace.
Someone who could make me pursue what I was always afraid to chase.
Someone who could sweep away my daydreams and leave memories in their place.
Slept late this morning. Had a dream to face.

Smoked a cigarette today;
smoked a cigarette.
I thought about the fire we lit on the day we met.
We built it high, we fed it fast, 'til it lit up the night.
And in it sacrificed our tomorrows and all the wrong and right,
but it burned out too soon like a star that burns too bright.
Smoked a cigarette today...
...had to bum a light...

Never meant to do you wrong,
never meant to lie.
Never meant to go where I don't belong,
but didn't I go and try.....?

Drank a glass o' wine tonight;
drank a glass of wine.
Hey, wasn't it a night like this when you left for the last time...?
Maybe I said too much. Y'know, I could really bend your ear.
Maybe the things I never said were the things you needed to hear.
So, like a dream, you came to dance in my heart and disappear...
Drank a glass o' wine tonight
and it was all mine.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Year In Review

Sometimes it's fun to trace a meme.

I found this at Stephen Macklin's Hold The Mayo, who found it at the Cheesemistress of Chaos' The Cheese Stands Alone, who found it at Cobby's Don't Panic, who found it at Laura's Sweet Surprise, who found it at Jenn's HaloScan.

That's as far back as I could trace it. Either Jenn invented it, or she forgot to mention where she found it. I'll assume that she invented it and say Yay for Jenn!.

So, here 'tis:

List the first sentence from the first post of each month of 2004. That's your Year In Review!

January: If you're reading this then you've shown up here dispite my warning that I wouldn't be posting for at least a week while I try to put my f'd up life into some f'n order.
February: What are Sun Spots?
March: So, anyway, I woke up at 4:00am this morning to the sound of squirrels manicly running back and forth in the crawlspace above my bedroom.
April: I just watched Greta Van Susteren interview Karen Hughes, and Karen said something that's got me thinking (uh-oh).
May: So, I was sitting there:
12 years old and sitting in my mother's chair and worried about stuff.
June: Here's an AP item about some wacky officials at Virginia's Falmouth Waterfront Park telling a Baptist pastor who was performing baptisms in the river to get off our property.
July: I finally got my hands on a legitimate Windows 98 set-up disk and it worked!
August: I just finished my guest spot on John Strauss' "First Day" program on WIBC (AM-1070) in Indianapolis to talk about my Fred LaRue was Deep Throat theory.
September: Between getting home later than usual and being distracted by the Convention coverage, I haven't finished this fershlugginer treatment of The Wall.
October: Yep, went looking for a photo again, caught a virus within minutes, had to reformat.
November: A quarter century ago the Iranian Hostage Crisis began the modern era of Islamist terrorism.
December: Her name was Mary, but I always called her Mare.

That last one's only half-accurate. I wrote that one just before Thanksgiving and post-dated it to Dec 1st because I was on a hiatus 'til then. The REAL first post of December begins:

December: In a world without Bs, if I may be so old, girlfriends would raid each others' hair, you would eat your eggs afore ya fried 'em, and kids would construct castles out of locks.

Aah, the year that was....

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2005

I Can't Cook Anymore!

I don't know what it is, but for the past six months or so I haven't been able to cook any edible meat except pork chops.

I actually thought of keeping kosher for health reasons a little while back. But, no matter how much I try to clean my broiler pan, everytime I cook a steak I end up filling the house with smoke. And I can't seem to cook chicken that doesn't come out rubbery anymore. I miss good chicken!

My roasted beets and taters, peas in butter and fried mustard green patties still always come out perfect, btw. Veggies, I can still do goodly. But, as for meat, from now on it's all pork chops all the time. (Baked 60 minutes at 350o with a slathering of Hemmingway Idaho Sauce.)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:56 PM | Comments (3)

January 09, 2005

That Which She Thinks

Late to the party again. Not keeping up with the news.

So, like, Kid Rock was invited and then disinvited to perform at the inaugural? Making a case for his disinvitation, Michelle Malkin has posted some lyrics of his that are particularly repulsive. Some commenters have made a case that KR's early lyrics be dismissed as he as just a youngun' at the time, and he's since mellowed out a bit.

Okay. So, maybe those lyrics were the product of just a 25-yr-old hell-bent on making it in the music biz. Well, I was was 25 once and I never wrote crap like that.

Which brings me to the point of this post, yay! I present a lyric I wrote when I was at the unripe old age of 25:

[This also happens to be set to one of the greatest tunes that Freedom's Slave has ever conjured up...!]

The eyes that watched me dressing are now staring 'cross the room at the portrait of a lady in a white lace galoon She has spoken of her history her sad and sordid tale I have promised that it's ended or at least it will be soon

and her fingers drum the table
leaving marks in settled dust
an expression of an emptiness
that I think she's come to trust
As she weighs the tired adversities against the possibilities
she seems to, once again, conclude that what she is in need of isn't me.

She knows I've tried to love her
she knows I want to care
One more look in the mirror and we'll be off somewhere
There's a sense of certain confluence when there's no time to think
but everytime we settle here
her look becomes that stare...

...and her fingers drum the table
leaving marks in settled dust
an expression of an emptiness I think she's come to trust
As she weighs the tired adversities against the possibilities
she seems to once again conclude that what she is in need of isn't me.

I should put up the original recording of that some time...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

You Can't Handle The Truth!

Sometimes I forget that it's okay to write short posts. So, here's one:

Children's Questions That It's Best Not To Answer Honestly:

Why do you throw the lobsters in headfirst?

Why is Andrea Yates in jail?

What's sausage made of?

That's all I got for now. Got any more?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Surf's Up! (an interpretation)

[I tried to post this last night. I thought I did, buy it looks like I didn't. D'oh! Luckily I saved it in wordpad! :)]

It was the spring of 1981. I was a senior in High School and had become disenamored with the current trend in punk rock. All L.A. hardcore all the time and all sounding the same: crash and burn and scream and moan. So, I looked backward and re-discovered the Beach Boys.

All I had at the time was the double-album Endless Summer and the single disks Best Of... and Best of...Vol. 2. (They were mainly what was on Endless Summer, but was some added flair -- most notably "Kiss Me, Baby".)

So, in the spring of '81 I borrowed the Beach Boys' album Surf's Up from the local library.

I liked Mike Love's opening song "Don't Drink The Water" just 'cause it was an environmental song with a neat message. I also liked Bruce Johnston's "Disney Girls" for some reason.

But there were two tracks on that album that stood head and frickin' shoulders above the rest; "'Till I Die" and "Surf's Up".

"'Till I Die" is a morose little ditty. Perfect listening for an angst-ridden teenager who wants to "relax". Beautiful harmonies put to a swooning melody. A boy could sink into oblivion listening to that song in the headphones.

I like it less today because it's so pessimistic. Just the idea that a man older than I was at the time wrote that. But I also like it even more today because I can better appreciate the craftsmanship of the arrangement. It can still make me swoon so long as I forget about the meaning of the lyric.

So, there were four songs from that album that I taped to cassette. By far the most interesting one was "Surf's Up".
I didn't know anything about Smile at the time. To me this was just another song on their album of 1971. But, this one was different from the rest. While my fascination with it was mainly for the sound of it, I'd also always been fascinated by the lyric. It was like a painting set to music; and a puzzle of sorts. For years and years I've listened to this song and figured that the words were just word-association fun-time gibberish along the lines of "I Am The Walrus" or "Come Together".

I now know that I was wrong. Having heard Brian Wilson's new rendition of Smile on New Years Eve, I've been running this tune through my head nearly non-stop, and I think I finally get it.

Now, and without further ado, let's delve into Van Dyke Parks' masterpiece: the heel-to-the-brimstone-written "Surf's Up". It takes place, initially, in a concert hall. Imagine you're in Royal Albert Hall watching a symphony sounding....

A diamond necklace played the pawn

Firstly, I think of a chess pawn: the player of least value; the one that's most easily sacrificed for the good of the whole. Then, there's the diamond necklace; presumably a thing of great value. The most becomes the least in this "play".

Or, maybe it's just that the narrator has pawned a diamond necklace for the price of admission to this song. Either way it works for me, though it's probably just a pun that was thrown out as an opening line. Word has it that Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson wrote this at a piano in, like, five minutes or something.

Hand in hand some drummed along,
o-o-oh.. To a handsome man and baton

See the conductor waving the baton whilst noticing that others in the hall are drumming along. But there's something more to be heard: the background vocal sighs "by God, by God..." God is the conductor, or the music, or the orchestra, or, most likely, I think, the entire package.

A blind class aristocracy

As opposed to a "class blind" society, we're imagining a more real and immediate "blind class aristocracy". The wealthy dowager raising her glasses to her eyes.

Back through the opera glass you see
the pit and the pendulum dra-a-awn...

The orchestra pit is reflected as the pendulum motion of the baton is swaying upward. This also introduces the painting theme with "pendulum dra-a-a-a-wn...". The conductor looks a painter making very broad strokes that result in the fine intricacies of the music. Which brings us to the most seemingly convoluted lyric of '60s popular music:

columnated ruins domino

Imagine Carnegie Hall or some other grand music hall. There are columns, and what happens inside them is what's going on here. The narrator is sleepy and wondering where and when the next music will be made. So, Van Dyke Parks and Brian Wilson weren't writing about themselves, they were writing about this song! As they wrote it! (It's a neat thought, anyway.)

Okay. That goes along with the visual image of ancient columns falling into each other like dominos. But, a "domino" has another definition. It's a masquarade, a cloak, or "half-mask". (Think Phantom Of The Opera.)
The "domino" in the lyric is could be the half-mask; or, that eye-mask on a stick that looks like an opera glass.

Or, the entire theater, or life itself, could be the domino - the masquarade. What kind of domino is it? Why, it's a columnated ruins domino. And this song is about getting past the very mask it presents, and so we have the outward and encouraging:
(I imagine the conductor's pendulum-like baton movements to be not unlike a painter's brushstrokes and, on first hearing it, "canvass" sounds like "canvas".)

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop

Taverse the town, search it's essence, yet just brush (ssshh) the backdrop like a passing stranger. Just a passerby to what may or may not be permanant, for the sake of interacting with what may or may not be beautiful. I wonder if the next line is partly an in-joke...

Are you sleeping?

Nope, silly. The narrator is in a drowse. He awakens to the strains that seem to fade from here there, now to then, and the ornate music hall surrounds him:

[Incidentally, if that last bit seems out of place it's it is. Originally there was supposed to be a lyricless interlude there, and the whole "canvas the town..." part was to appear only where it appears the second time. In the Brian Wilson solo piano version that appears on the CD box-set Good Vibrations, Brian doesn't sing that part at this time.]

The second verse begins:

Hung velvet overtaken me,
Dim chandelier awaken me
to a song dissolved in the da-a-a-awn

Again, this is followed by the Carl Wilson's soaring and angelic "by God, by God..."

Have y'ever been half-asleep and heard a song on the radio? You're not sure of you dreamed it or not, and if it's a particularly ethereal piece it can be an enchanting experience.
(My most amazing experience of that was hearing Paul Simon's "Run That Body Down" while "half" asleep. If you've never heard a song while half asleep then y'need to take naps more often!)

The "dawn" is, of course, his awakening. This poor sap is still dozing off, though. Either in spite of, or because of, the orchestral beauty that has him surrounded.

The music hall; a costly bow
The music; all is lost for now
to a muted trumpeter's swa-a-a-n

This might be my favorite line. A "swan song" is a farewell; a final performance; a last work; a death wail. The angelic - though "muted" - trumpeter announces the esteemed arrival of the ending of something.
It also introduces the water theme, however slightly. The bow of a ship points where it's heading, but, is it heading for the swan's song?
Again the Music Hall's masquarade establishes it's presence:

Columnated ruins domino-o-o-o...

But the following is a bit curious...:

Canvass the town and brush the backdrop
Are you sleeping, Brother Jo-o-o-ohn...?

We all know the French lullaby that the is lifted from, and maybe Van Dyke Parks just through it in for laughs. But, I suspect this line may refer to John the Baptist.
Brian always said that Smile was "a child's symphony to God". Invoking John the Baptist would make sense as he is, obviously, associated with important things that happen in the water. The narrator is then asking if the baptism has left him, if John is "sleeping", since he feels so disconnected from the conductor's music.

The song shifts in tempo and meter, and becomes less lush as we are now outside the theater and cabvassing the town at midnight.

Dove nested tower,
the hour was.
Strike the street, quicksilver moon.

Gawd, I love that line. The tower is a clock tower with doves (or pigeons) nestled in it as the hour strikes. It sounds like midnight. I'd always heard the line before as: "the hour was strike. the street. quicksilver moon," which made no sense at all. But, hearing like I wrote it makes all the difference.

In the darkness of midnight the silvery moon is shining above. The beauty of the line is the phrase "quicksilver moon". Quicksilver is metalic mercury. We use mercury in thermometers because it is so close to it's freezing point in our normal temperature range that it's sensitive to subtle changes in ambient temperature.
(The moon is very cold in the shade and very hot in the sun, but we can think of it as being a very cold place for our purposes here.)

So, the light of the cold "quicksilver moon" is invited from above, and then contrasted to light from below:

Carriage across the fog,
Two-Step to lamplight's cellar tune.

The moon slow-dances across the sky while houselights come up from a basement apartment where music is being played/sung, and the narrator makes this observation:

The laughs come hard in Auld Lang Syne.

It's not only midnight, it's New Year's!
I'm not sure why the laughs are coming hard, though. My best guess is that hearing the sound of laughter from the cellar is difficult for the narrator, as he's in no festive mood at the moment and is feeling left out in the cold.

Then the tempo speeds up dramatically for this phrase:

The glass was raised, the fired rose,
the fullness of the wine,
the dim last toasting...

Woah. A wine glass was raised for a toast as the embers in the fireplace were also rising and toasting. Light from the cold quicksilver moon above, light from the toasty warm cellar below, and the narrator caught between them.

Then there's this delicious pun:

While at port adieu or die

It's a port wine they're toasting with, and the narrator is (nautically speaking) "at port" He then expresses the idea that change is essential to his survival. Either ring out the old and ring in the new, or die. (Which reminds me of the Dylan line "he not busy being born is busy dying".) Our narrator is in need of a change:

The choke of grief, heart hardened,
I, beyond belief, a broken man too tough to cry.

He is "beyond belief", without faith; cold and alone. Then the music shifts slightly and a gentle tune of baptismal realization comes in with:

Surf's Up, mmmm...
board a tidal wave.
Come about hard and join the young and often spring You gave

Onto the water he goes in a big way. The music he heard at the beginning and middle become, in the end, a new beginning:

I heard the word,
Wonderful thing;
A children's so-o-o-o-ng....

The cry that Brian Wilson wails is reminiscent of the last "oh, Caroline, no-o-o-o-o..." from Pet Sounds. But this time it's an epiphany, not sadness. It sounds similar, though. I guess it's because they both represent a kind of surrender; one to fate, one to the future, and sounding like a promise that they're not the same thing.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2005

Is this what we've become?

Drudge links to this article that asks several commentators in the U.K. if the earthquake-tsunami tragedy might bring about a global effort to address poverty throughout the world.

I don't want to appear to be at all flippant during the ongoing rescue and relief efforts, but I am compelled to comment on how this question was answered by a few of the respondents. I wont address all of them, of course, just the ones that I feel like.

First up:

THE RIGHT REV TIM STEVENS, Bishop of Leicester

I am hopeful, but we must see a real commitment to changing the economic relationships between the West and the poorer countries. As well as charitable giving, we need to tackle these fundamental issues.

I'm not sure that it's the "economic relationtionships" that need changing more than changing the economic basketcase-ness of the "poorer countries". In the long term, tackling that fundamental issue is more important than charitable giving -- unless that charity is in the form of the proverbial teaching a man to fish.

RORY BREMNER, Comedian On an individual level, it is not just about what we are prepared to give, but what we are prepared to give up. Having left Afghanistan and Iraq in their wake, can our leaders be trusted to fight a war on poverty?
Let's give this guy some slack for being a "comedian". Let's forget that to "give" something is the same as to "give up" something. Let's even ignore the ianppropriate and inaccurate characterization of the progresses in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only response that needs to be made to this one is that misunderstanding the term "war on poverty" is what keeps prosperity away from the impoverished. Poverty is a natural state of being in that it is the absence of pro-activity. Poverty, then, is not something to be "defeated" so much as something to be transcended through opportunities being available and seized.
STEPHEN TINDALE, Executive director, Greenpeace It seems churlish to say it, but while it's relatively easy for most of us to give £50, it would be much harder for us to make the changes in our modern lifestyles that are needed if we are to move to a fairer world.
Not sure if it's churlish so much as it vague. What lifestyle changes do you have in mind, Stephen? Is it about oil, again? If we less of the poorer regions oil they'd be better off? And what does this have to do with Sri Lanka or Bangladesh? I don't see how our prosperity hurts anyone else. We created our wealth, we'll enjoy it, and we'll try mightily to spread it around just as we've been doing all along thank you very much.
DR GHAYASUDDIN SIDDIQUI, Leader of Muslim Parliament

Compassion, care and concern for mankind joins each of us - whatever our faith or ethnicity. The tragedy has shown there is a formula on which all mankind can be united to help each other. Mankind has moved forward.


It was the same after 11 September. Everyone said it was a great opportunity to try to understand the world but it was used by the US as a reason to go on a rampaging adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, I guess we'll go on a rampaging adventure through the Indian Ocean basin when we should just stay home and mind our own business. God I hope I'm never that cynical.
MO MOWLAM, Former cabinet minister

I think most people will simply forget. Some charities say people will even forget how much they pledged to give. I wish it would change our attitudes to other people in other countries, but I'm afraid that it won't.

One problem, I think, is that we're discussing poverty generally in the context of a specific natural disaster. I think this is clouding the issues a bit.
The impetus for the question is the current relief effort. The question itself is about poverty. The above statement makes sense when taken as an assessment of broader a concern. (Witness all those who think that America should just "get over" 9-11.)
But to address poverty, world-wide, demands the attentions of governments and the impoverished, not the relatively wealthy except in terms of charity. I'm just thinkin' out loud here, folks...

Western capitalism demands that people must be impoverished. I cannot think that anything will change this year, because we are the ones who have made the world the way it is. I don't believe in altruism.

Wow. "I don't believe in altruism." I can't bring myself to raise the Cluebat to someone that I pity. Next...!
LORD HURD OF WESTWELL, Former foreign secretary
The danger is that resources which might have gone to Africa will go to this instead. While huge publicity continues to be given to the tsunami, human beings are killing each other in Iraq, and places like Darfur.

Read that again. I'll wait.

It's a weird response, eh?
I think he means that, being so focused on the tsunami victims, we might forget about those suffering in other places. In that he has a point. But, otherwise, he sounds impatient and not thinking through his thoughts before answering. Or maybe he's just an idiot I dunno.

SIR MAX HASTINGS, Journalist and historian

We have to bear in mind that we have been here before. There have been tragedies before, and many fine things have been said, a lot of them by the US. We just have to hope that in this case they will follow through.

We always have, fucktard. But what's that got to do with the question at hand? Nothing? Oh, right, it doesn't matter.
J G BALLARD, Novelist

It would be one of the biggest breakthroughs mankind has ever experienced if we pooled our wealth in order to look after the poorer people of the world. Sadly, I don't think it will happen.

Well, if more countries (who'll go un-named) would like to jump in the pool with us, other countries might develope a working infrastructure. Then, maybe, we could accomplish something. Other than that, we'll always be back where we were: complaining about how the non-impoverished just don't do enough..
TONY BENN, Former cabinet minister

It may make people realise that the UN needs to be well-equipped and funded. If people diverted money from weapons and war, we have the technology and money to be able to help - if we decide to do that.

...and then be slaughtered in the process. These are the words of a willing slave former cabinet minister of a sovereign country. Sedition, anyone?

But I don't want to leave on a sour note. So, we have this final entry:


I think that politicians must realise that people do care about these issues and want them to do more. If 2005 could become the year when people make a real effort, then it could make a real difference.

General enough to be acceptable. Vague enough to be harmless. That's tact, pure and simple. Spoken like a true entrepeneur.

To sumerize: Nothing was revealed and noone was saved. What a waste of potential ad-space.

I hope I'm never this cynical again...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:44 PM | Comments (4)

January 02, 2005

An Imaginary Conversation (Just For Fun)

Tuning Spork answers his cellphone:

TS: Hello?

Freedom's Slave: Yo, Spork.

TS: Yo, Slave. 'Sup?

FS: I'm up at the Trumbull Mall right now, but heading to the rock concert in a little while. Wanna come with?

TS: Groovy! I'm not home right now, though...

FS: Well, just tell me where you are and I'll come pick you up.

TS: 'Kay. Leave the mall over by where Circuit City is. Turn right and go until you get to Warehouse Liquors, turn right and then bear left so's you come out over at Super Stop & Shop. Turn left and go all the way 'til you get to the Splash Express Carwash -- across from M&R Convience Mart -- and turn right. Go all the way past A&P until you get to Pizza Post and then turn right. I'll meet out in front of Kohl's.

FS: Spork, I have no farkin' idea where any of those places are. Remember, I've been out of town for a few years.

TS: Oh, right. Okay. Leave the mall over where the UA Trumbull Theater used to be and take a right. Go past where Crazy Eddie used to be until you get to where Pathmark used to be. Turn right then bear left so's you come out where Dewhurst Dairy used to be. Turn left and go past where the Three Door Restaurant used to be until you come to where the Shamrock Pub used to be -- across from where Tom Thumb Variety used to be -- and turn right. Drive all the way past where King Cole Supermarket used to be until you come to where Fitzwilly's and the Community Theater used to be - over by where Bradlee's used to be. Turn right and I'll meet you out in front of where Caldor used to be.

FS: Got it. See ya in a bit.

TS: If I'm still here...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:59 PM | Comments (3)

January 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone had a rollickin' and safe New Year celebration. I know I must've 'cause I slept 'til 1:30 this afternoon. Well hey, I didn't get home 'til 4:00 in the morning.

One highlight of the shindig was listening to Brian Wilson's Smile. I've heard to old Smile tracks many times over the years and this new version is awesome. It's faithful to the original arrangements with only a few exceptions, such as rewriting the lyric to Good Vibrations. Highly recommended!

I don't know why, but one mother at the party allowed her 14 yr-old daughter to have a vodka jello-shot. Within 15 minutes the girl was falling on her ass giggling and wondering why everyone was looking at her. While pacing back and forth and trying to push the right button to answer her cellphone, her dad said "Why don't you just plop yourself into that chair take a nap, Sweetie?" To which she replied "I think I'll just plop myself into this chair a take a nap..." Of course, she never took a nap.

After midnight a bunch of us gathered upstairs in the "band room" and Tex and I played a few numbers. We started with me on his drum set and Tex on guitar, then switched places. By that hour I was as well-lit as Times Square and had trouble remembering the first line to Night Moves. Sheesh, I've been singin' that song regularly for 15 years.

Originally the plan was to crash at Tex's and go home in the morning. But, as the party wound down, Norm, who was driving, said he was completely wide awake and sober and would rather just drive home that "night". So, at 3:30 am we drove back to Bridgeport.

So now I'm happy and sated and it's 65 degrees outside. But it's 4:30 and I haven't eaten yet so I'm gonna go whip up some chicken and stuffed 'shrooms.

Happy New Year!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:16 PM | Comments (0)
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