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February 2005
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April 2005

carpenter fans

I used to cross-post stuff on Blogcritics ... quit when some guy posted a so-called review of a book about Internet "secrets" that led the reader to a link where the guy was selling Gmail invites. I complained, referring to the guy with a play on words that took his moniker and turned it into something not so positive (it probably didn't help that the guy's nickname was based on what he did for a living, since that occupation was the same one my father purported to do before he went to jail for fleecing people out of their money) ... the ensuing argument devolved into the guy informing me that he had his "family attorney" on the case, although he was "not pursuing anything at this point." I figured it wasn't really worth it to me to have the added readership that Blogcritics supplied, if I was gonna be threatened with a lawsuit every time I complained about people posting advertisements disguised as reviews.

Anyway, Scott Woods mentioned the Carpenters in passing today, and it reminded me of the time I posted my Tony Peluso comments on Blogcritics (Peluso played the guitar solo on "Goodbye to Love," and my post was half Peluso-positive and half I-hate-the-Carpenters rant). I got some of the best comments ever for that one ... once in awhile, someone adds to the list, since Blogcritic reviews are always accessible and there are apparently a lot of Carpenters fans out there who find that post through the joys of Google. Here's a representative sampling:

Steven you have no musical taste what so ever, you wouldn't know something good if it hit you upside the head.

Ignorance can be a hinderance especially when it comes to music.

Philistine! get beyond your myopic worldview

you are talking so much crap, you are just so ignorant.

Steven, you're talkin out the back of your arse.

Well Steve you are entitled to your opinion. But in the reality of music theory and vocal interpretation, the Carpenters were one of the finest and most accomplished groups in the history of music.

I think the last one is in some ways the best ... avoiding the quick-hit name calling of the other commenters, this one just looks down on me from above, which is, of course, exactly what I'm doing when I pick on the Carpenters in the first place so it serves me right.

I'd just like to note, for the record, that you can take the reality of music theory and vocal interpretation and stuff them up yer ass, although you'll probably have to remove your copy of The Singles (1969-1973) to make room.

Yes, I'm in a bad mood, thanks for asking.


easter

This is the fourth Easter since I started this blog. This is the first time I've posted on the subject of the holiday. I guess that means I don't give a shit about Easter.

Sara took time off from her holiday to come over and help dismantle the kitchen in preparation for the big overhaul to come. I just wanted to thank her.


first impressions of office

I never saw that remake of Psycho where they did all the shots the same, but the first American episode of The Office felt like what that must have been ... while changing a few cultural references (and turning "redundancy" into "downsizing"), this first episode was a carbon copy (pun intended) of the original first episode. And oddly enough, it didn't stink. A better evaluation still awaits next week's first "non-copy" episode, but that was a decent start. People who never saw the original won't know what they missed ... people who did see the original will spend a lot of time wondering why Tim is now Jim and Gareth is now Dwight and Dawn is now Pam, but honest, it's not bad.


still feel like going home

Lord I tried to see it through
But it was too much for me
So now I'm coming home to you
Yes I feel like going home
— Charlie Rich

I used the above quote as part of what turned out to be my goodbye piece to Bad Subjects. The essay, "Feel Like Going Home: Notes on Self-Marginalization," was written in early 2001, after George W had "won" his first presidency (and it amazes me to realize it's been four years since my BS days). About that election, I wrote the following regarding my vote for Ralph Nader:

I was attacked for my choice, it is true. To have opinions is to be open to attack, that's understood. What was surprising was the direction from which these attacks came. For it was members of the leftist community that were most virulent with their snarlingly vicious screeds. Everything that went 'wrong' in the 2000 election was somehow the fault of Ralph Nader, the Green Party, and everyone who 'wasted' their vote on anyone but Al Gore. In the very pages of Bad Subjects, for example, Nader voters were taken to task for not accepting a simple fact, that "Progressivism recognizes that its strength comes from the quality of ideas and expression, not from simplistic righteousness that alienates neighbors." There certainly is a problem of recognition here. The endless rants of Gore supporters against people who voted for Nader reek of the simplistic righteousness that constitutes the large portion of Demo VP candidate Joe Lieberman's entire political career (Joe, free of the rigors of the campaign trail, has already gone back to what he does best, trying to get Jackass off our televisions). And as for alienating neighbors, what has been more alienating to leftists like myself, who voted for Ralph Nader, than to listen to daily sermons about our perfidy?

If indeed Bad Subjects was correct back in Issue #1 when it rejected self-marginalization in favor of community, how can we reconcile this with the stance of those who, in the name of leftist community, alienate their neighbors in such a comprehensive manner? How do these tirades help the cause of Progressivism, if Progressivism is a concept that rejects the simplistic alienating of neighbors? The attacks on voters like myself do nothing to foster community; they only serve to make me question the very notion of community itself.

It must be admitted here that I was more than a little intolerant myself by the time 2004 rolled around. A lot my bitterness about the "fucking assholes" spilled over onto the pages of this blog. And it's also true that nothing Bush and company has done since winning the most recent election makes me feel any kinder towards them.

But I thought about how I felt four years ago, when I came across a blog post by Michelle Catalano called "I Should Have Kept the Receipt." I don't know much about Michelle ... I found the piece because Dr. Frank linked to it ... but I flashed back to my 2001 self when I read her description of the "buyer's remorse" she's suffering after having voted for Bush in 2004:

It's a combination of things, and most of it stems from the fact that I was a one issue voter in 2004. And now, the issues I ignored in order to give my support to the war on terror are coming back to haunt me.

Social Security. Bankruptcy. The insistence of the far right that they have some kind of religious mandate now and we need to revert back to our Christian roots and morals. And yes, Iraq. I know all about the good things in Iraq. I know about the schools and the hospitals and elections. And I love that. I love the slow spread of democracy. I love the trickle down effect of taking Saddam out of power. But more and more, I'm thinking, at what price? Every time another soldier dies, another bomb goes off, another hopeful Iraqi policeman is murdered, another hostage is taken and another day looms on the horizon with no end in sight, I think at what price?

I'm not about to go stand on some street corner and protest the war. It's not like that. But my all-out support has certainly waned. I see no clear exit strategy. I just see more of our men and women dying. I just see more innocent Iraqis dying.

She then hits home for me with this:

This is where some people are going to expect an apology. Don’t hold your breath. That’s not what this is about. When I made my vote, I did so with the best interest of my family in mind. I honestly believed I was making the right choice.... I placed my wager and lost. Unfortunately, there was no real winning wager this time around. Is there a person out there who will make us all feel like winners? Or is that just a pipe dream? Will there every be a candidate who will please mostly everyone?

Some people are reaching out to Michelle, and others are ... well, here's another one that Dr. Frank linked to, from a blog by Amygdala. Amygdala cited Michelle's piece and said that "what I wish to urge all my fellow Democrats in regard to those who feel like Michele is that they respond like this: castigate them not. Speak not to them with chastisement of any sort. Welcome them as allies on any issue you are of like mind about. And take it from there." What got Frank riled, and what prompted this long blog post, was the comments Amygdala received regarding his "castigate them not" overture:

... lets not seek any allies we don't need unless they acknowledge the wrongness of their decision-making process. As I read Michelle, she can't or won't do that - she says she won't apologize b/c she did what she felt was right. Who cares? She was wrong ...

It's too damn late, anyways. Too damn late. I see things like this and I can only shake my head. It's no political victory. Leaves an ashen taste in my mouth....

I have a friend just like Michele and I expect this conversation with her any day now. What's rolling around in my head is, 'peddle your remorse elsewhere, because it doesn't do a damn bit of good now. And these next four years? Yeah, thanks for that.' ...

I doubt Michelle Catalano and I agree about very many things. But I empathize with her current position. I have no idea what her ultimate move will be ... but I know how it's turned out for me. Bad Subjects was pretty much my only attempt to pull myself out of the mire of self-marginalization in the last 20 or so years, and since I re-embraced my demons in 2001, my life is a lesser thing in lots of ways, but I'm still agressively marginalizing myself. I hope Michelle finds a happier way out of her predicament.

Someday girl I don't know when
we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
and we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were born to run
-- Bruce Springsteen


office usa

Tonight is the premiere of the American version of The Office. Reviews are generally positive without being too glowing. Apparently the first episode is a direct copy of one of the original episodes, after which they start writing their own scripts. So I figure I should watch two episodes, even if I don't like the first one, just in case.


amazing grace (shield spoilers)

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

The Shield's new season kicked it up a notch with episode two, directed by the always-fine Paris Barclay (Emmy winner for NYPD Blue, nominee for West Wing, a GLAAD media award winner and a recent recipient of the Pioneer Award at the LA Pan African Film Festival ... he's got a fascinating resume, and is that rare director who stands out on television, which is primarily a writer's and/or creator's medium).

Vic Mackey chases a drug-dealing perp into a convenience store ... he catches the dealer over by the sodas, having just drunk down all the drugs he was holding. Vic needs the evidence, so he grabs a squeezable mustard off the shelf and forces the perp to take a good long drink ... perp pukes, drugs appear in the yellow barf. As Vic drags the bad guy away, he shouts out to the store clerk, "Cleanup on aisle four!"

Katey Sagal makes a uncredited cameo appearance. Glenn Close is still around.

The poor sucker who was raped last season is having problems at home ... his wife didn't exactly react kindly when she heard the news last season, and now she's saying something has to change. I don't think this is what she had in mind, though ... the guy gets ahold of a videotaped rape and jerks off while watching it.

Then there's the kindly aging gentleman who turns out to be hiding a cross-dressing boy hoping for a sex-change operation, and Vic's old running buddy who was apparently trained all too well by Mackey (he's pocketing drugs confiscated on the job and cutting deals with bad guys), and the return for one shot of John Diehl, who was once a regular as Ben Gilroy but shows up now in the morgue (Sagal plays his grieving widow ... she says she hopes he suffered before he died). When asked by Mackey what killed Gilroy, the medical examiner says "Take your pick. Sclerosis, malnutrition, official cause was suffocation. Aspirated on his own vomit. Christ, this guy was the Assistant Police Chief? What happened?" Yes, it's a vision of Vic Mackey's future.

Just another day on The Shield. At least they didn't shoot a dog or strangle a cat this episode. Finished off with a punk-rock version of "Amazing Grace" by the Dropkick Murphys. A wretch like me, indeed ...