February 26, 2005

Peace On Earth (pt 1)

And, so, I ask myself: What is 'Peace'?

Many of us have seen the photograph of Kim Jong Il sipping wine as a toast to North Korea having successfully built a nuclear weapon. During Kim's initial effort to devise a nuclear weapon, President Clinton sent former President Jimmy Carter on a "peace mission" to persuade Kim to abandon his nuclear program or face "serious consequences". Kim agreed to halt his nuclear program.

Today, Jimmy Carter has a Nobel Peace Prize. Kim Jong Il has the bomb.

"My ancestors have an old saying: 'Only Nixon could go to China.'"
--Spock, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The problem with sending someone like Jimmy Cartre to negotiate an arms agreement is that he is the kind of man who believes in the innate goodness and fairness and trustworthiness of all men. In short: He is a fool. To accept a promise from a tyrant, without any means of verifying that the promise is being kept, is a failure of diplomacy due to the failure to grasp the worst lessons of history, or to understand the base nature of tyrants.

I can almost hear Ronald Reagan's voice as he must have said, at some point, to Mikail Gorbachov: "Mikail, I believe you're a good man and I consider you my friend. But, and now don't be insulted, there's a lot at stake and I may be a fool. So, if you seek peace, I must insist: Doveriay no proveriay; trust but verify."

The real danger in North Korea's nuclear capability is not that Kim Jong Il will use them in a war against South Korea and/or The United States. (He knows that that would only result in the creation of The Great Pyongyang Crater.) The real danger is his ability and willingness to sell weapons and/or secrets to governments in places like Iran and Syria.
Kim may claim that he needs the weapons in order to defend his regime against an aggressive American foreign policy, but he knows that he was lumped into the "Axis of Evil" only because of his quest for nuclear weapons. Without the nuclear program there is no threat; there is peace. So, making money, not weapons per se, is likely his primary concern. And, for his profit, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people will be put in grave danger; there is no peace.


"Not in our name!" the war protesters cried. No matter how many hundreds of thousands were tortured, slaughtered and buried in the mass graves of Saddam's Iraq, it was the current state of "peace" that they wanted to maintain.

"Peace in our time," Neville Chamberlain said. Now, to be fair, we must acknowledge that Chamberlain's bargaining position was a poor one. He couldn't give Hitler ultimata about Germany's troop movements and weapons arsenal, and that they push outward no farther. He could only ask for a promise and hope that Hitler's signature was good. Unfortuanately, it was only as good as his word.

As I saw it, the irony of the "Peace In Our Time" signs carried by recent protesters of Operation: Iraqi Freedom is not, so much, that they reeked of the appeasement of Chamberlain's land for peace deal, but that they supported the continuation of the horrors of Saddam Hussein. Chamberlain sought peace for all; the war protesters sought peace for us.
To them, it was not "peace in our time", but, merely, "peace in our place and time".

While Americans enjoyed peace and prosperity, Russians and eastern Europe had Stalin. Cambodians had Pol Pot. The former-Yugoslavians had Melosevic. Iraqis had Saddam Hussein. For Americans, there was no peace in our time, only peace in our place and time.

It was easy to ignore the plight of a billion people when their plight didn't matter to us. They might as well have been living on another planet.
Most of us grew up in world that consisted of America, Western Europe, Japan, America, Australia, Mexico, America, Israel, Canada and America. We knew there were people in the Soviet Union, continental Asia, the middle east and Africa, but they weren't a part of our experience; they were in that other world where horrors happen that we didn't have to address because we had peace in our place and time.


"So, what is peace?" I asked my liberal, anti-war friend and housemate, Chris.
"Well," he muttered, "it's the absence of war, when nobody's dying in a war anymore."
"If, instead of a thousand people dying in a war, thirty thousand died at the hands of Saddam, would that be peace?"
"Well, that's not our business," Chris griped.
"So, an American life is worth 30-times an Iraqi's life..." I said in mock agreement.
"Dude, you don't understand," he flustered. "It's not our place to go around like we have 'The Answer' and fight wars about it."
"So, there is nothing special about us?" I asked.
"No. What's so special about us? We just go around imposing our rules on them like a bully... like every other two-bit dictator."

I have several friends like Chris. They are anti-war through-and-through. They believe in their principled position 100%. They are my friends and I respect them -- mainly because I understand them. I was one of them many many moons ago. But, I contend, their "principles" are conveniently self-serving.

So, I ask them: "If war is bad because people die, then isn't 'peace' even worse when even more people die because of it?"
Usually I get a groan and a shake of the head. But, I was born to be a pain in the ass so I usually press it.

"Well, then, when do we EVER have a right to go to war?"
"If we're attacked."
"Why go to war if we're attacked?"
"Because we have a right to defend ourselves."
"Against what?"
"Against whoever is attacking us."
"Why defend ourselves? What's so special about us? Why not just let them take us over?"
"Because..... What?"
"To defend our freedom?"
"Because we like freedom, man."
"Well, who wouldn't?!"
"Wouldn't everyone like to be free?"
"Well, of course!"
"Wouldn't everyone defend their freedom?"
"I hope so..."
"But, what if they can't?"
"I mean, what if we couldn't? Wouldn't we want a little help in that regard?"
"Dude, this isn't about defending our freedom. It's about dying on the other side of the world for nothing."
"For freedom!"
"But, not ours!"
"What's so special about us?!"

At this point the debate usually collapses under the weight of each of our position's well-anchored heuristics.


It's a small world afterall.


Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:37 PM | Comments (2)

Just checking some things out is all. Nothing to see here.

A piece of Bazooka Gum® costs 5¢, not £5, and is made by Topps, Inc. Some trading card sets they made were:

  • Wacky Packages
  • baseball cards
  • Gargage Pail Kids

Maybe I'll look for some mañana, if it gets above 30°F, then I'll listen to some old Hüsker Dü.

¶ This post is ¾ finished, ±.

Or more.

© 2005 §-Sofa Productions&trade

UPDATE: Hmm, the "trademark" doesn't work. Guess I'll just hafta use SuperduperscriptTM.

UPDATE #2™: Dave, you rule! Thanks! I guess the site I got these codes from had just a semicollection™.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2005

Note to self: Compose posts while off-line

I had a great essay going. A classic about the defintion of Peace. Spent three hours on it.

Computer froze. On-line page problem. Had to reboot. Lost my essay.

I hate this computer and I almost hate blogging. You want Goth Girl Blog Day? You got it.


P.S.: I think I'll try again with that post tomorrow night. It's worth the wait, I hope. At least for me.

Did I mention that my computer sucks?

I'm using an old version of IE (4.0) because it's more impervious to viruses (virii?). Problem is that it keeps not wanting to do what the internet wants it to do.

Mozilla and Firefox, here I come (again)!!!

Sorry. Just had to vent a little. Did I mention that my computer sucks?!

Okay, here's a bit of what I had:

You do not send a dove like Jimmy Carter to negotiate anything with a tyrant. Carter believes in the goodness of man. He is a fool.

If history, or common sense, is any clue; you send out the raven ahead of the dove.

"Trust but verified."

Deal from strength and self-interest. Not from idealism and (naive) notions of what we want Peace to be.

Yes, I've decided to try again tomorrow. I was gone but now I'm back! Woo hoo! If I'm not an optimist I'm nothing.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:57 PM | Comments (2)

Goth Girl Blog Day

Today is Goth Girl Blog Day. To find out what that means, read the comments to this post.

So, here's my Goth Girl post:


I got up, took a shower and got ready to head off to work. Missed the bus and had to wait an hour for the next one. Missed that bus.

Went home and called in sick.

I needed cigarettes so I walked to the nearest Stop & Shop. It's a 30-minute walk. When I got there I found out that it had been torn down.

I stared at the rubble and cranes for a few minutes before turning and heading back home. What a waste of an hour.

I'm bored. I really want a cigarette.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

Terri Schindler-Schiavo has two more days of food and water

A new 48-hour stay of starvation and dehydration has been issued by Judge Greer. Woo hoo! But, it's still only a matter of time. Get blogging, people!

The court wants to explore the disturbing appearance of abuse and neglect on the part of Michael Schiavo, and Terri's parents' claim that he is unfit to be her legal guardian.

Well, duh! He deserves to be removed as Terri's guardian due to the little factoid that he is chronically hazardous to her health.

For updates and info on her case visit BlogsForTerri (formerly TerrisFight.org).

We need the "big dogs" of the Blogosphere in this fight. The MSM has ignored these critical last few days (though today was a little better). They'll be forced to focus on this story if we all put it on the front burner. Let's not forget what the blogosphere can do. (Glenn, Powerline, I'm looking in your direction...)

So, come on, cry Havoc!, and let slip the Big Dogs of the Blogosphere!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2005

The is a Job for the Alliance of Free Blogs if There Ever Was One


Read all about it at Committee to Protect Bloggers.

Iranian bloggers Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad have been jailed for expressing their opinions on the internet. Mojtaba has been released, but still faces charges. Arash is still imprisoned.

Tip o' the tam to Michelle Malkin.


(New York, February 24, 2005 - Reuters)--The Iranian government sentenced the prominent blogger Arash Cigarchi to 14 years in prison for expressing his opinions on the Internet and in the international press, marking a new low for freedom of expression in Iran, Human Rights Watch said today. "The Iranian government is sending a message to its critics: keep silent or face years in prison," said Widney Brown, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch.

In the northern province of Gilan, the revolutionary court issued the sentence on February 2. However, the court made its ruling public only on February 22. Charges brought against Cigarchi include espionage, "aiding and abating hostile governments and opposition groups," endangering national security and insulting Iran's leaders. The court based its decision on a report by the intelligence ministry agents who arrested Cigarchi on January 17.

14 years in prison for blogging. Arash's sentence is meant to be an example to all other uppity Iranians who want to criticize their exaulted leaders-from-on-high. Surmising the self-preservation instinct that must exist in people who are raised in an oppressive environment, I'd guess that revolution from within is less likely today than it wsas yesterday. More and more it looks like a rscue from without may be the only way to secure liberty to the Iranian people.

Another decade of tyranny is well-underway. What should we do and how should we do it?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:25 PM | Comments (0)

Crunch Time for Terri Schiavo


Michael Schiavo wants to kill his wife by starvation and dehydration. He claims that a feeding tube, to keep her nurished, is "artificial life support" and, therefore, against her allegedly stated wish not to be kept alive artificially.

Nearly a year and a half ago Michael Schiavo had succeeded in getting a court to order that Terri's feeding tube be removed. Her starvation and dehydration had begun to cause great pain and discomfort until Governor Jeb Bush led an effort to reinsert her feeding tube.

But that was then and this is now and Terri Schiavo is once again in grave danger.

For background on the case during the 2003 deathwatch, read these excellent articles by Nat Hentoff, Wesley J. Smith and Jennifer Smith.

Michael Schaivo's efforts to kill his wife may finally "pay off", if you know what I mean. She may, once again, begin to die horribly in less than 24 hours.

For a complete history with timelines, constant updates and info on what we can do to try to save Terri's life, visit Blogs For Terri.

Her parents can't love her enough to save her. It's up to us, folk.

Praises to Jody and many others for keeping this story on their front burner. Time is critical and it isn't getting any coverage in the MSM, nor is there much coverage in the Blogosphere.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:44 PM | Comments (1)

February 21, 2005

Happy Washington's Birthday


Okay, let's be perfectly clear about this. Today is a federal holiday. But, it is not called Presidents Day, it's called Washington's Birthday. So, how and when did we end up with this thing that we now call "Presidents Day"?

Back in the 19th century George Washington's birthday, February 22nd, was celebrated throughout the States with all the patriotic fervor of Cinco de Mayo. The hardy partying -- complete with fireworks, wild womanizing and homemade gin -- was so irresistabley joyous that, in 1885, President Benjamin Franklin Pierce declared it federal holiday.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12th, was celebrated in many States, as well, though mainly those states in the north. (Jefferson Davis' birthday was popular below the Manson-Nixon Line). By the early 20th century, the Washington and Lincoln holidays were observed by, among other things, giving the kids a day off from work and their parents a night off from school. (Child labor laws would soon shift that pardigm a bit.)

In the 1960's, the Warsaw Pact sought to create "uniform holiday laws" that moved Washington's Birthday, Independence Day, Veteran's Day and Memorial Day to fixed Sundays. As the Christian sabbath was already a day of rest, many clamored that they would lose not only a paid day's vacation, but the chance to take advantage of department stores' holiday sales on items such as linens, flashbulbs, fondu sets and stereophonic record players. New proposals would suggest fixing the holidays to Mondays.

While some federal holidays were eventually fixed to certain Mondays (Memorial Day, Columbus Day, Labor Day), others retained their fixed dates (Veteran's Day, New Year's Day, The Fourth of July).

It was the establishment of Columbus Day as a federal holiday, and the wide support for a federal holiday honoring Lincoln's birthday, that made the beancounters in Washington D.C. suggest that Washington and Lincoln's birthdays be observed as a single holiday, thus avoiding the need to add more paid days off for federal employees. This had the added benefits of a:) creating several nifty three-day weekends throughout the year and, b:). providing parents with an opportunity to give their children a lesson in how the true meaning of a holiday can become lost in the mist of personal priorities.

In February of 1971, President Richard Mojo Nixon signed an executive order authorizing the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg's endodontist. But it was his next move that would have far-reaching consequences.
Announcing that the third Monday in February would celebrate both Washington and Lincoln's birthdays, Nixon suggested that this rescheduled holiday might be referred to as "Two Predecessors' Day", or "Marvelous Monday". "Presidents Day" began to become the favored moniker.

However, the holiday is still officially called "Washington's Birthday". The irony of fixing it at the third Monday in February is that Washington's birthday can no longer be celebrated on his actual birth date: February 11th, as we are no longer on the olde Julian Calendar.

But the biggest drawback is that many people no longer understand just what it is that we're celebrating on the third Monday in February. Are we celebrating George Washington's birthday? George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's birthday? Are we celebrating all presidents, including Teddy Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Fidel Castro and Leo Weiser? It can be confusing and many, if not most, of our nation's children are in the dark about all of this.

Officially, today is when we observe the birth of George Washington; General and Supreme Commander during the Revolutionary War, first President of the United States of America, "Father of our Country" and all-around good guy.
Unofficially, we are to take this time to also honor the birth of Abraham Lincoln; 16th President of the United States, Commander-in-Chief during the Civil War, preserver of the Union, abolitionist exemplar and all-around good guy.

So, take a moment today to reflect on the strength, confidence and dogged courage of these two great men. In the face of two great trials in our nations birth and in it's preservation, they stood with firm leadership to take us - ninety years apart - from the tyrannies of subjecthood and slavery to citizenship and liberty.

"How soon we forget history... Government is not reason. Government is not eloquence. It is force. And, like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master
--George Washington.

For a more... er... accurate account of the coming "Presidents Day" see HERE.

P.S. Yeah, I know the colon-perentheses turned into smilies. I like it so I'm leaving it. :P

Posted by Tuning Spork at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2005

Fisking Kinsley... er... sort of

I went searching something to fisk and went to my favorite target, Michael Kinsley. Unfortunately, Michael has a well-reasoned argument with himself, in today's column, about when and why journalists should be allowed to protect an anonymous source when protecting that source's identity might impede the investigation of a crime.
His WaPo article, titled Privilege and Presumption, is HERE (registration required).

I love his opening line:

American democracy is a conspiracy of special interests against the general interest, but every special interest thinks that it is the general interest.

He gives an example of a special interest (farm subsidies) and then compares how journalists' belief in the nobility of their profession is no different than a farmer's belief in the nobility of farming and, thus, journalist's feel equally entitled to special treatment by the law and by public policy.
That is why, even at this low point in public esteem, many journalists are unembarrassed to assert that they are above the law.

Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time have refused to testify about their conversations with government officials that might have concerned who leaked the identity of an undercover intelligence agent to columnist Robert Novak. Last week a federal appeals court ruling upheld a lower-court order that Miller and Cooper must testify or go to jail.

If Miller and Cooper were out of bounds in promising anonymity to their sources, Kinsley ponders, shouldn't the law in such matters be made clear? Kinsley is upset not at Miller and Cooper for arrogantly placing themselves above the law, but for the principle of "journalistic privilege" not being a part of the law in criminal cases.

The fact that Miller and Cooper believe in Reporter-Source Privilege, so much so that they might be willing to go to jail rather than identify their sources, is laudable:

Having made that promise, they feel obligated to keep it. If they shouldn't have made that promise, society should have sent them a clearer message to that effect. The message is still a muddle.
Why these two, who never published the secret name, and not others, including some who did? Before we start jailing journalists for keeping promises, we need to decide when such a promise should be made.

But, he writes, in any balanced approach, there are a prices to paid:
Journalists are claiming to be above the law in two senses.
First, there are laws requiring citizens to supply information under oath. Journalists are saying we get to decide whether and when these laws apply to us.

Second, testimonial immunity for journalists can make it difficult or impossible to enforce other laws.

On the other hand, he follows with:
So what? Lawyers and ministers are allowed to keep their secrets, even if that lets some criminals off the hook. What is so unreasonable about a similar privilege for journalists?

Kinsley then offers an "answer" to the difference between lawyers and ministers one the one hand, and journalists on the other. But, I don't wanna get sued for copyright infringement by posting the entire essence of the column. Ye must go read the rest.

While Kinsley supports recognizing, in Law, a balanced, reasonable "journalist-source privilege", he laments the arrogance by which it's being requested -- or, perhaps, the arrogance with which it needs to be requested in these ol' newfangled times. Noting that journalists aren't held in very high regard these days:

Very often the social benefit of encouraging whistleblowers would win such a balancing contest. But journalists mistakenly see the privilege as their right and refuse to contemplate such a balance.
Or they assert the authority to weigh the considerations themselves, which seems even more arrogant.

Read the whole thing. His last paragraph sums up - as if he's shaking his head - just how he sees the Miller-Cooper conundrum as it's being played out. Hat-tip to Michael Kinsley.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Magic Happens ---- Until You Know It's Just A Trick

I wrote previously about Yelena HERE. If you haven't read it yet it'd be best, for this post's purposes, that you did. G'head, I wait!

Condensed version: She's a gal I met at the bus terminal who asked me for a cigarette, revealed herself to be a Ukraine emigre, seemingly was a non-smoker, is smart, pretty and fun to talk to. Cosmic tumblers were falling into place and, I finally let myself believe that she was the gal I'd been waiting for for 14 years. I got her email address. This was Friday before last.. almost two weeks ago.

Here's the thing: I sent her an email on Saturday saying something like: "Hi, Yelena. You're so fun to talk to. Maybe we could meet at a coffee shop somewhere on Black Rock Turnpike -- away from the bus terminal. It'd be fun!" etc etc. The email was returned as undeliverable.

I tried it again. Same thing. I tried a variation on what she'd written that seemed logical and it went through. But I had no idea if it was her address. Did she make a mistake when she wrote her email address? Did she give me a bogus email address when she realized that I was interested in her in a way that she hadn't expected?

No! Couldn't be! If you read the link you'd know that I could not possibly have been THAT wrong about her non-verbal communication.


I met her, for the third time, two nights ago.

I was outside smoking a cigarette when I noticed her enter the terminal from the opposite side. I threw away my ciggie and walked inside and toward her.

"Hi," she sorta smiled, and then buried her face back into the magazine she was scanning.

"May I join you?" I asked.

"Sure," she said almost dismissively.

Ooookay. I sat down beside her. "Did you get my email?" I asked. "N-n-n-o..." she said with an air of either a) confusion, or b) annoyance.
I took out a memo pad and pen from my jacket pocket and wrote her email address just as she'd written it.

"Is this it?" I asked.
"Yes," she nodded. "Maybe it's because I haven't checked it in so long that maybe it was discontinued I don't know..." she rambled while looking at nothing in particular.
"Do you still have my email address?" I asked suspiciously.
"Yes," she assured me.
"Then you should write to me, so I'll know that I have your correct address."
"Okay," she nodded into her magazine, "if I ever get near my computer again..."

Shit Almighty.

I began to accept that I had been so-o-o-o wrong about her signals. But.... how?!

"Well," I sighed, "I think I'll go outside for a smoke. Care to join me?"

"Nooo, it's so cold," she demurred.

Well, of course I couldn't leave her 'til I knew if and how I'd gone so wrong. I noticed the title of an artical she was trying to read: Strategic Defense.

"Do you follow politics?" I asked.
"Oh, yes, you know, somewhat, you know, when I can..."
"What are you reading?"
"Business Week."
"Aah. And just what do you do for business?"
"What do I do?"
"I study,"
she laughed.
"Oh, are you in school?" I asked.
"I was... I hope to go back again, yes. Maybe next semester..."

I began to wonder if she was a lot younger than I thought she was. I dunno. All women 18-35 look alike to me.

"Well," she chimed, "I think I'll have a cigarette now..."

We got up, she collected her bags, we walked toward the door, I waited and held it for her and she gave me a delicate "thank you".
I then walked to where we had talked the previous time. I leaned on the newspaper dispenser and pulled out two cigarettes; one for me and one for her. But, she was busy pulling out her own cigarette.

I was wrong. She's a smoker. Dammit.

She stood just about where she did the last time, but, further away. Maybe three or four feet. I got the feeling that she wanted to be close enough to help me not to think that she was ignoring me, but far enough to tell me that she wasn't WITH me, f'ya know what I mean.

I made some idle chat about the differences between daily life in the Ukraine as opposed to the U.S., and she was responsive yet more distant than before. Her attention wasn't on me, but on the greater surroundings. She was on the lookout for the bus.
Our bus arrived and we boarded.

We sat inn the same seats as we almost two weeks ago. I knew that it'd be a while before I ran into her again, so I decided to get things straight. I wasn't about to keep on wondering if she's just too tired or just too disinterested.
I turned to her.

"Yelena, may I ask you something?"

"Sure," she said with her eyes closed and her voice decidedly seperated from me in a way that it never was up 'til this point. I took a deep breath and slowly began:

"That first time that you asked for a cigarette; I didn't know that you smoked. In fact, I thought that you didn't because I'd never seen you smoking before."
She closed her eyes and smiled knowingly.

"And I thought," I continued with our eyes now locked, "I thought that maybe -- just maybe -- you were using it as an excuse to meet me... to talk to me."

"Oh," she smiled in a way I hadn't seen her smile since our last encounter. "I had finished my pack and didn't have any..."
"You just wanted a cigarette," I nodded.
"Yes..." she said sheepishly bowing her head almost appologetically.
"Y'know, I used giving you a cigarette as an excuse to talk to you."
"I know, yes, yes,"
she winced.

"Well," I sighed pensively before turning back to her and shaking my head in her favor, "You don't have to write to me then."
"No, no. I, I...." she trailed off as she returned herself to Business Week.

We rode the next few minutes in silence. When the bus was coming to a stop at my stop I turned to her one last time and said:

"I'd really like to get together and talk over coffee sometime. It'd be fun!"

"Okay," she smiled brightly. "Bye.


"You said all the right things," Lawruh tells me. Yelena put up the wall because she may encounter so much rot from guys who just don't know the difference between courtship and stalking. And, believe you me, Lawruh is an expert on the rap (wrath) of forward guys.

I know that my regular male readers see it the way I do. A woman is always a lady. And you treat her like one. My friends are like that, too. But, yes, I see the other side all the time: Guys that talk to gals in ways that are repulsive and, no surprise, the gals usually get up and walk away after too many minutes of taking the insulting banter of horny feaux gentlemen.

"First he's all sweet," Lawruh said, "and then, suddenly, he's telling me about how 'big' he is!"

"You said all the right things."

I hope so. Even if Yelena never emails me (and I expect that she wont), I hope that she at least understands why I asked her for her email address: That I sincerely believed that she saw me the same way that I saw her. I think I did it right. Gals can find "the field" hard to deal with, and hope that I let her let me down easy.

I'm not upset that she's not destined to be the girl of my dreams. I barely know her. I'm more disappointed that she isn't who I thought she was: a dreamgirl making excuses to talk to me.

Two nights ago I was mad at myself for allowing myself to believe that I'd found the girl of my dreams; for opening my heart to that possibility. Last night and tonight I'm actually happy for having had this experience. For four weeks I've been dancing on air convinced that magic was happening.
It wasn't, of course, I only thought it was.

But, still, I wouldn't trade the past four weeks for the previous four weeks or the next four weeks. I'm glad I had the chance to dream a little dream and believe it was real.

Disappointed? Yes. Regretful? Nope. Not by a long shot.
Even if I never ever never see her again, Yelena will always be special to me. I only hope that my behavior, in the face of my obvious disappointment, has made me special, in some way, in the name of chivalry, to her.

I said all the right things; I let her go. I know she appreciates it. I'll just keep telling myself that.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:30 PM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2005

Peggy Noonan on Bloggers

She begins:

"Salivating morons." "Scalp hunters." "Moon howlers." "Trophy hunters." "Sons of Sen. McCarthy." "Rabid." "Blogswarm." "These pseudo-journalist lynch mob people."

This is excellent invective. It must come from bloggers. But wait, it was the mainstream media and their maidservants in the elite journalism reviews, and they were talking about bloggers!

Those MSMers have gone wild, I tell you! The tendentious language, the low insults. It's the Wild Wild West out there. We may have to consider legislation.

When you hear name-calling like what we've been hearing from the elite media this week, you know someone must be doing something right. The hysterical edge makes you wonder if writers for newspapers and magazines and professors in J-schools don't have a serious case of freedom envy.

The bloggers have that freedom. They have the still pent-up energy of a liberated citizenry, too. The MSM doesn't. It has lost its old monopoly on information. It is angry.

But MSM criticism of the blogosphere misses the point, or rather points.

And it gets better from there. You go read Peggy-y-y-y-y... NOW!

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

February 15, 2005

The Near-misses Just Keep A-Comin'

I'm thinking of putting up a Death Pool for myself. Whoever guesses the date closest to when I finally get slaughtered by a vehicle being driven by some indigenous alien who's too busy yakking on their cellphone to bother watching where they're going wins. I'll keep the prize a secret until we have a winner.

The mainstream media has their pink panties in a bunch over the "reckless and unacountable" blogosphere getting the story right again. Eason Jordan would rather resign than have his CNN access and release a tape of his "alleged" comments accusing the US military of sniping off journalists. Bloggers didn't call for Jordan's head, only for him to release a tape and get the truth out. Then we'd've call for his head, but not sooner.

I'm sick of the whole Eason Jordan kerfufflenutter. I don't need to see a tape of Davos. Chris Dodd, David Gergen, Barney Frank and that blogger who started the whole thing gave indentical accounts of Jordan's blabbering. He resigned, I hope, embarrassed and ashamed (even if he never admits it out loud).
Jordan and the blogosphere are through with each other as far as I'm concerned. CNN, on the other hand, has a lot of explaining to do about why they stonewalled, rather than investigated, the story. Perhaps Mary Mapes would like to launch a probe in search of missing CNN memos. Her sources could have 'em by 7pm Wednesday.

And what's the deal with these newfangled city buses? I gotta sit sideways and keep my knees elevated like a leg trauma victim. Who designs these things, the Lullaby League? I'm a skinny 5'11'' guy made to feel like Chris Farley in that airliner's bathroom in Tommy Boy. I turn the page of my newspaper too fast and I'm libel to explode out into the aisle.

The Navy wants to christen an "attack submarine" the USS Jimmy Carter? Why? If there's such a thing as poetic injustice the thing'll probably run aground somewhere in the Iranian desert in less than four years while trying to target North Korean nuclear missle launchers.

Oh, and one more thing. Lucid dreaming can be fun. It can also, at times, be a little frightening. Half-lucid dreaming can be downright terrifying. Make it stop!!!!

(I might actually explain that last one if anyone cares.)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:32 PM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2005

When You Move, Try To Remember Where You Put Things. You Might Want To Unpack Them Someday.

So, here I am, ready to record some music for the first time in years.

I haven't recorded anything since I moved here, almost three years ago, and I've been looking for my equipment. I know where my guitars and keyboard are, of course, but it took me two days to find the drum machine. Problem is: I can't find the adapter to plug it in.

I also can't seem to locate all the various chords and microphones. I thought they were in a box in my bedroom, but, nope. I don't even know where my frickin' microphone stand is. It's probably way back in the corner of the "den", which Chris and I use for storage. *sigh* It's gonna take a heap o'movin' stuff around to get to it. I don't need the mic stand, but my microphones and chords might be somewhere in a box nearby. This sucks.

Found my digital delay and a distortion box, though.

Fired up the recorder on Saturday and it still works. Woo hoo! I put in an old tape I had lying around and listen to a couple of songs while moving the tracks' volume levels up and down. There's the guitar and vocal and he-e-e-e-re comes the piano on track 5! Now out fades the vocal on track 3 and up fades the harmonica on track 6! It's fun.

I've had these two new songs going through my head all day every day for almost a week now. I jus' gotta get 'em recorded so's I can stop thinkin' about 'em.

I planned on making a pizza tonight but then realized that I had no tomato paste or sauce. My stuffed mushrooms came out terrible -- too dry. The chicken is rubbery and even the baked potato wasn't very appetizing. Maybe it's just my mood.

Where! Are! My! Microphones?!!!

Sorry. I picked the wrong day to give up drinking.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:54 PM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2005

Did You Know That....?

Boiling diced potato chunks in chicken broth, instead of water, for your mashed potatoes is a good idea. Yum!
Pan frying diced strip steak chunks in corn oil is a bad idea. A very very bad idea. Trust me. I tried it so you wont have to 'cuz:


Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:15 PM | Comments (2)

Did You Know That...?

The Russian word for "telephone" is "telefon". It's perfectly understandable that they'd just use the English word for Bell's invention.
The Russian word for "doctor" is "doktor". That's a troubling thought, and,


Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Did you know that...?

Tomatos were discovered in South America and brought back to Europe. They were popular there for many years before they were introduced to North Americans. So, without tomatos or tomato-based sauces, what we think of as traditional Italian cooking didn't exist until after the discovery of America.


Posted by Tuning Spork at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

Clean-Up Time

So, I'm writing songs again. Woo hoo! Haven't finished a song in about four years.

Unburied the Yamaha 8-track recorder. Yay! Haven't turned it on in over two years. Hope it still works.

I spent the day cleaning my bedroom and the bathroom.

Hey, I just realized that some of the keys on my keyboard don't work. The delete key and the arrows just beneath it don't work, except for the left arrow key. But it doesn't move the "blinking place indicator" (or whatever it's called), it types this -> \. WTF? I've got this thing covered in plastic wrap. There's no way I spilled something on it! Oh well.

Man, I got nothin'. 'Cept to say that there might be some big changes in my life soon. I'm gonna see about getting a job closer to home so's I can be sure to get all hours so's I can make more moolah so's I can a car and take the princess out to dinner some time. Nothin' in the paper. Maybe I'll just cold-call some print shops and see if they're looking for a good pressman. Them jobs is hard to come by these days what with computers taking over the old mechanical world. I'm in the wro-o-o-o-ng business.

Aah well. Gonna go eat my steak and mashed potatoes, yum, straighten-up some more and fire up the recorder. Got a tune in my head for a lush instrumental called "Nevermore". It's something that tries to capture the mood immediately after the lovin', 'fya know what I mean. The words come in only toward the very end and reapeat, in three-part harmony:

I will doubt or be without you

I can hear the chord changes in my head. Hope I can figure out what they are so I can play them!

Posted by Tuning Spork at 03:48 PM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2005

All-American Girls

[Started this lyric today. It's got a glorious tune. Very Beach Boys inspired. I'm definitely going to record this one and post it, though the lytic is still a work in progress. Not sure if the words hold up without the melody and harmonies, but here's the lyric so far.]

The beautiful girls of summer
are dark-haired and they're strawberry blonde
Far too many to number, but,
all the better to have to move on

Like the birds of the air I see them ev-er-ywhere
and I can't stop falling in love
I believe I can say they'll never get in my way
'cause there's always never enough...

All-American girls (girls, girls), All-American girls (girls, girls)
All-American girls (girls, girls), All-American girls (girls, girls, aah. ooo...)

Her blood took form in the summer
on a dark continent at dawn
Many there were left to wonder
where so many of them had gone

Her mothers and fathers sailed over the seas
for the life with the jimmy crack corn
'Twas a long journey 'til everybody was free
to celebrate on the day she was born...

an American girl (girl, girl), an All-American girl (girl, girl)
She's an American girl (girl, girl), an All-American girl (girl, girl, aah, ooo...)

[This part slows down for some intricate harmony stylings!]

For the darkest wonder, look into her eyes
at the grace of a samurai warrior's bride
And, just over yonder, from the islands I see
bella vista, baby-y-y-y....

How in the world is it possible
that there are so many ways to be beautiful
Can't imagine where I would roam
All the different girls
from all over the world
keep me happy at home

[Back to the peppiness!]

Through winter, cold war and wormwood
she could never get past the bloc
She left the abacus in the marketplace
as soon as the opportunity knocked

Now she drinks tea, not chai, with a slice of apple pie
If she can think it she can say it aloud
Feasting on the fruit of the tree of sweet liberty
she crossed the world just to taste it and now...

she's an American girl (girl, girl), an All-American girl (girl, girl)
She's an American girl (girl, girl), an All-American girl (girl, girl)

All American girls (all American girls)
are All-American girls (are All-American girls)
All American girls (all American girls)
are All-American girls (are All-American girls, girls, girls)

aaaaaah oooooooooo...


Posted by Tuning Spork at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2005


You need lyrics...

She belongs there, left with her Liberty. Never known as a non-believer. She laughs and stays in the one, one won, wonderful.

She knew how to gather the forrest
when God reached softly and moved her body.
One golden locket.
Quite young and loving her mother and father.

Farther down the path was a mystery.
Through the recess, the chalk and numbers,
a boy bumped into her one,
one won, wonderful.

All fall down, and lost in the mystery,
lost in all to a non-believer,
and all that's left is a girl
who's loved by her mother and father.

She'll return, in love with her Liberty,
just away from her non-believer.
She'll sigh and thank God for one,
one won, wonderful.

---Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks (Listen to it!)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2005

Magic Happens

"There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens it’s self up for a few seconds to show you what’s possible."

I wrote last tuesday about a gal I met at the bus terminal. I'd seen her before. In the evening, she takes the same bus home that I usually take. But, I only see her maybe once, twice, maybe three times a month. She looked Russian, and I'd thought, now and again, of striking up a conversation with her. Not just because she was pretty, but because I just lo-o-o-o-ve Russian accents.

So, I was standing outside in the blistering cold last tuesday and she walked up to me slowly. As I turned to face her she asked, "Excyuss me, may I baum cigardrette frdrom you, ordr buy?"

When I heard her voice and looked into those hazel Slavic eyes I just about melted. I, of course, gave her a cigarette, refused the quarter that she offered and lit the cig with my lighter. "Thank you," she smiled.

I'd never seen her smoking before. Maybe it was just because she didn't want people asking her for cigarettes every few minutes -- as is the norm at the bus terminal. I hoped she wouldn't walk away. She put her grocery bag on the bench - next to mine - and sat down. A minute passed.

"Dammit, talk to her!" I said to myself. Leaning over to catch her attention as she stared forward at nothing I asked, "Did I detect an accent?"

Long story short (and since I wrote about this already), she is originally from the Ukraine and came to America about three and a half years ago. We talked about language, I told her that I'd tried to teach myself Russian about ten years ago. We just, generally, had a nice conversation that lasted about ten minutes (until our bus arrived). She laughed at my jokes, and she's so cute when she smiles.

What I didn't mention a week and a half ago was this: When we got on the bus I sat in the seat just in front her. I faced mainly forward, but slightly to my left just in case I found the nerve to continue talking to her. She buried her head in a magazine and, I guess, I'd lost my confidence that she wanted me to talk to her. We rode the eight or ten minutes to my stop in silence.

After I'd pulled the chord to signal the driver to stop I turned sideways and put my leg out into the aisle to signal her that I was leaving. She didn't look up.
When the bus was coming to a stop I got out of my seat and stood at the back door -- just in front of where I was sitting.

It was only after the door had opened that I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that she'd finally looked up at me. I wanted to turn to say "goodnight", but by then the door was open, the snow pile was in front of me, and I just stepped forward and exited the bus.

"Idiot! I screamed at myself. "Now she thinks you weren't impressed. She knows that you know that she doesn't smoke! She went out on a limb and now she thinks you blew her off. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"

But I didn't want to think about that. She could have stayed focused on her magazine. The fact that she finally did look up to get a "goodnight" meant that she wasn't unimpressed with me. I was on cloud nine all the way home.

Wednesday night I was at the bus terminal at the same time as tuesday night, hoping that she'd be there. She wasn't. Maybe she usually takes the bus that runs an hour earlier? I took Thursday off, but on friday I was there an hour earlier. She wasn't there.


Just as an aside, lemme tell ya where I'm coming from -- no long story, I promise.

I've been celibate for the past fourteen years. (Well, with one exception. But, that was with my "ex" so it doesn't count.) Over the past nine years I've become more and more convinced that I would never meet a woman that could possibly make me want to pursue that whole "relationship thing" again... until now.

I don't know this mystery gal. We talked for ten frickin' minutes. But, they were ten very special little minutes and, just from the way she talked and the way her body and face moved and all things intangible, it just felt like she was the one I'd been waiting for. And she walked up to me!


Okay, we're back.

Monday arrives. I got in at "our time". She wasn't there.

Tuesday, I got in an hour earlier. But... It was one week since we'd met and maybe she'll be there at the same time as last week! As I sometimes do, I decided to get a sandwich at Subway and a coffee at Dunkin' Donuts because it's usually 2 1/2 to 3 hours before I'll be eating dinner and I get hungry. And, maybe just maybe, she'll be there an hour later. She wasn't there.

On wednesday I did the same thing; sandwich and coffee to kill an hour. She wasn't there. Thursday (yesterday) I got in at "our time" and she was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she usually gets in an hour later? I had a sandwich and coffee which meant that I wouldn't be having dinner until about 11:00. She wasn't there.

"That's it," I thought. "She's gone." Unless I'm having some really serious-ass hunger pangs, tonight I'm going straight home. I've had it. Maybe she bought a car and wont be riding the bus anymore and we met last tuesday because she knew that that was her last chance to talk to me... and I blew it. "Now stop thinking about her, Dumbass!"


I got in at "our time" tonight with only one thought. If I convince myself that she wont be there, and don't even bother to look around indoors for her because she is obviously not going to be there, she might actually be there.

I walked into the terminal and there she was.

Her head was buried in a magazine. I walked over to get closer. As I approached within about ten feet of her she looked up and saw me. Her face lit up!

"Hi-i-i-i," she smiled. "Izdravtsitsya," I smiled right back.

I passed her slowly and she returned to her magazine. I set my grocery bag down on the floor by the soda machine just behind and to left of her. A minute passed.

"Talk! To! Her!" I berated myself. I paced a little bit and noticed that every ten or fifteen seconds she'd lift her head and turn it just ever so slightly in my direction.

As my friend Lawruh told me the other day: If you want to talk to her then talk to her. The worst that can happen is that she'll tell you to bug off. Let her reject you, don't reject yourself for her.

I picked up my bag, walked over to her, leaned down and asked, "Would you like to join me for a cigarette?"

"Sher-r-r-r-r!" she beamed closing her magazine with her smile wide and her eyes closed. It was like the game was tied for 27 innings and I'd just hit a triple with nobody out. Er.. and somehow I'm still at bat. The cosmic tumblers were falling into place. And "sure" is my new favorite word.


I'd anticipated this for a week-and-a-half. I knew how to begin the conversation and how to keep it going. I'd had time to think and rethink it.

I told Lawruh that "I hope she has a pretty name... like Elenya. That way I can say 'Elenya, that's so pretty... You LOOK like an Elenya,' so's I can tell her she's pretty without saying it bluntly." "You're allowed to tell her she's pretty," Lawruh encouraged. "No, not yet!" I protested.

When mystery gal and I got outside I turned, with cigarette pack in hand, and said "My name is Bob, by the way." She nodded.

"I'm Yelena."

**insert dumbfounded pause here**

"Yelena?" I stammered. She nodded. "I... actually thought that that might be your name.... I swear to God..." I don't know if she thought I was BSing or not, but she seemed to believe me and thought that it was as weird a coinkidink as I did. I focused my thoughts and got out the "it's so pretty" line. I then, trying to control my glee, got to say "You look like a Yelena," and mean it. Cosmic tumblers were falling like rain.


One thing I'd planned to ask her was about how life, in general, was different in the Ukraine than it is in America. "There's so much," she said, trying, I think, to think of an example. "The culture is so different; the people act so different," she said as looked around the crowd of noisy obnoxious Americans milling about.

Just then a stranger came up to me and asked if I had an extra cigarette. I pulled one out of the pack and handed it to him and thought of giving giving Yelena a knowing glance. But, um, I remembered that that's how we'd met.


At one point a got her to play a little game. I would say something in Russian and she would say it back to me in English. That way I'd know if I was sayng it right.

I turned on my best Russian accent and the first thing I said was "U menya yest Anglo-Russki slovar." She actually gasped, suprised at how clearly I'd spoken it.

"That's so yes, yes... 'I have a, a, an Anglo-Russian dictionary!"

We did some more phrases and words and it was fun and we both lamented about how bilingual dictionaries will, when a word has more than one meaning, list all of the possibilities without telling you which word applies to which definition. "There are so-o-o many synonyms!" she cried.


Longer story shortened: I have her email address. (I'll get the phone number later. Playin' it cool... all in good time... ) We'll be chattin' over coffee in no time.

Life is good. :)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:18 AM | Comments (3)

February 03, 2005


Note to gals:

Don't ever cut your hair short. No matter how old you get, just don't do it. Ever!
Even if you don't wanna hafta pin it up 'cause it's such a hassle, leave it long anyway. The chance that it might, sometime, somehow, when we least expect it, drape your shoulders is worth the pins and barrettes. Please trust me. Just saying is all...

Anyone agree or diagree?

Posted by Tuning Spork at 02:16 AM | Comments (9)

February 02, 2005

Oh, I Wish You Could Hear this Played on a Piano

The tune is set. It used to be called "Empty", but I'll retitle it soon. Just a simple little lyric -- still a work in progress...

One half was born a little boy
the rest of the joy
was born a little girl
No use to ever wonder why
they were seperated by
a half a world

The wall came down and she
was finally free

She found him standing all alone
waiting to go home
without a care
She didn't know it was his secret wish
to live like this
She climbed his stare

The wall came down and he
was finally free.

I might retitle it "Busy"... :)

Posted by Tuning Spork at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)
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