when down is up and up is fucked


It is 108º F (42º C) in Portland today—with a humidity level of about 25%. Phoenix, Arizona and Death Valley Junction, California, are maybe a degree hotter (but their humidity levels are 10-15% lower...oh yea, and they have air-conditioning).

The taste for worst-case scenarios reflects the need to master fear of what is felt to be uncontrollable. It also expresses an imaginative complicity with disaster. — Susan Sontag

definitely no jargonistic surjection


Contemporary art, no matter how much it has defined itself by a taste for negation, can still be analyzed as a set of assertions of a formal kind. — Susan Sontag

Fumkin Parts


Kinda drunk in a relatively terrible local brew pub in the city of Newport (yea every city in the entire state has port jammed into it somehow, even Eugeneport). I'm stumble-wondering how the idea of hazelnut beer and hazelnut rum could have sounded attractive, and stumble-deciding on the silver lining: at least I (now) know two things that should never be flavored with hazelnut.

The back hallway has two doors.

-Hops- -Barleys- no other symbols. Which is which? My mind strains. I imagine other drinking establishments (Skippers, Mermaids) and languages (Damen, Herren) but nothing clicks except that the word 'men' is shorter than the word 'women'; that couldn't be it, could it? What-the-fuck were they thinking? A waitress says, in a 187th-time-today tone: you're hops.

Inside, I dry my hands on paper towels from a jack-in-the-box-crank dispenser. Haven't seen one of these in a decade or three.

Two days later—after a wonderful bakery-lunch in Corvallisport—I enter the back hallway and recognize the two bathrooms are marked only with: restroom. I assume this restaurant has chosen to go the unisex/first-available route.

I join a small line and quickly learn there's a hitch in the giddy-up.

One of the doors has an apologetic sign reserving it only for Barleys. (And later, after comparing notes with my paramour, I learn they're both identical inside: one toilet, one sink, nothing else.) Women can use either. Men can only use one.

I can only come up with one reason for this: The women who run this establishment don't want to get man-cooties but believe it's OK for men to get women-cooties - or - think women don't have cooties. I suspect these assumptions are specious, so I'm open for alternatives (because I vividly remember learning at recess that women have cooties and men can get them).


On a more artistic note, this is a wonderful camera mistake. The design is perfectly weighted. The visual movement is dynamic. And it hardly matters that the person standing on a country roadside, twirling a pizza-company placard (miles from any business, let alone that pizza place) was not properly snapshotted.

Photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. — Susan Sontag

Color Comments on the British Open


I was highly entertained by Peter Alliss's comments over the last two days of golf-watching. (I know, I know; but it's guilty pleasure #38.)

Normally a BBC commentator, this past weekend he did some guest commenting, at the British Open, for TNT.

Who won or lost is unimportant (to me, at least) but these comments of Mr Alliss were golden:

(In response to another commentator's statement that Peter, 'didn't really understand the situation because he was English, not Scottish'): Hey...I could have gone the whole way, could have changed and had the operation and everything — I just chose not to.

(Abstrusely pointing out a terrible second-hole score): Four nine three four four three . . . hunh — that used to be my telephone number.

(A conversation with a US commentator who'd been referring to a player that twitters, then asked Peter, 'You were twittering earlier, too, right?'): I don't twitter — we've only recently just got gas at my house.
To which the US commenter replied, with a chortle: Natural gas?
Peter's retort was a dry: Don't be silly — lamps!

(Referencing a logo-type design on the sleeve of a young Japanese player): I wish I knew what that said, on his shoulder. David Beckham has tattoos there — but . . . apparently . . . he's satisfied with it . . . there, on the material.

The Criminal Investigator's #1 Rule of Thumb

          If I were to impart one thing about detectingfrom my years as a criminal investigatorit is this:   there's always one thing, which proves or disproves a persons guilt or innocence.  And, that one thing needs to always be the lens, with which the rest of the investigation is examined through.

          This is not to infer that an investigator doesn't have to collect every item of evidence, interview every possible witness, and always remain impartial.  But, I recall what happened when investigators (and lawyers, and judges) failed to keep the investigation (court proceedings, trial) focused through that one thing; the result was almost always the same: guilty people were not held accountable for their crimes.

          Bad people go free when they (or their lawyers) cause law enforcement to lose focus on the one thing.

          When I explained this #1 Rule of Thumb to my subordinates, I referred to it as the Bloody Socks RuleI contend that the OJ Simpson trial would have resulted in a conviction if the prosecution spent a few days showing the jurors what the crime scene looked like and then explained about the socks collected from the floor of OJ's bedroom—which had the blood of OJ, Nicole, and Goldman on them—and then said, "the prosecution rests your honor."   Forget about the Bruno Magli shoes, Kato Kaelin, Mark Furman, and the bloody gloves; the one thing is the socks with three peoples blood on them.

          Any case can be fogged by the "what about..." and "explain the..." but as long as the one thing is kept in the forefront—bad people are caught and put in prison.

          The assassination of President Kennedy is a famous example of an investigation that has been so incredibly inundated in evidence and investigation and re-investigation, that most people believe there was a conspiracy (by some large government organization).

          I know there was no conspiracy.  Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.  Jack Ruby acted alone.   The reason I know is because of two one thing's (one for Oswald and one for Ruby).

          Oswald moved (back) to Dallas Texas in October of 1963 and got a job at the Texas Book Depository.  Over six weeks later (mid-November) the "parade route" of the President's motorcade was published in the Dallas Newspaper, showing it would pass in front of the Book Depository.  Oswald arrived at work the morning of 22 November 1963 with a long item wrapped in newspaper; he told co-workers it was curtain rods.  [Although it's a second thing it is helpful to also know about Oswald's mindset:  that (according to his wife) he tried to assassinate Retired General Edwin Walker with the same rifle in April 1963.   The bullet hit a window frame; fragments injured Walker in the arm.]

          This is Oswald's one thing because when he got the job at the Depository, the route was not yet decided by the Secret Service.

          Ruby always carried a pistol and was a "cop groupie" (cops drank at his strip club for free; Ruby frequently hung around the police station).  The morning of Sunday, 24 November 1963, Ruby got a phone call from one of his employees, asking him to wire her $25.   He took his favorite dog, Sheba, and wired the money a little after 11am.  Then, leaving Sheba in his car, Ruby walked a block to the police station, arriving about four minutes before Oswald was escorted out.

          This is Ruby's one thing.  His timing and the presence of Sheba shows that he was acting on impulse.

Most people in this society who aren't actively mad are, at best, reformed or potential lunatics. — Susan Sontag

A lap dance is so much better when the stripper is cryin


Heard this terrible-funny Bloodhound Gang song for the first time at Karaoke.

I'd already had four and a half shots of Jaegermeister, and I chuckled gargantuanly-huge, I-shouldn't-be-laughin-so-hard, guffaws of glee.

The lyrics:

I was lonelier than Kunta Kinte at a Merle Haggard concert that night I strolled on into Uncle Limpy's Hump Palace lookin for love. It had been a while. In fact, three hundred and sixty-five had come and went since that midnight run haulin hog to Shakey town on I-10. I had picked up this hitchhiker that was sweatin gallons through a pair of Daisy Duke cut-offs and one of those Fruit Of The Loom tank-tops. Well, that night I lost myself to ruby red lips, milky white skin and baby blue eyes. Name was Russell.

Yes a lap dance is so much better when the stripper is cryin
Yes a lap dance is so much better when the stripper is cryin
Well I find it's quite a thrill
When she grinds me against her will
Yes a lap dance is so much better when the stripper is cryin

Well, faster than you can say "shallow grave" this pretty little thing come up to me and starts kneadin my balls like hard-boiled eggs in a tube sock. Said her name was Bambi and I said, "Well that's a coincidence darlin, cause I was just thinkin about skinnin you like a deer." Well she smiled, had about as much teeth as a Jack-O-Lantern, and I went on to tell her how I would wear her face like a mask as I do my little kooky dance. And then she told me to shush. I guess she could sense my desperation. Course, it's hard to hide a hard-on when you're dressed like Minnie Pearl.

(chorus)

So, Bambi's goin on about how she can make all my fantasies come true. So I says, "Even this one I have where Jesus Christ is jack-hammerin Mickey Mouse in the doo-doo hole with a lawn dart as Garth Brooks gives birth to somethin resembling a cheddar cheese log with almonds on Santa Claus's tummy-tum?" Well, ten beers, twenty minutes and thirty dollars later I'm parkin the beef bus in tuna town if you know what I mean. Got to nail her back at her trailer. Heh. That rhymes. I have to admit it was even more of a turn-on when I found out she was doin me to buy baby formula.

(chorus)

Day or so had passed when I popped the clutch, gave the tranny a spin and slid on into The Stinky Pinky Gulp N Guzzle Big Rig Snooze-A-Stop. There I was browsin through the latest issue of Throb, when I saw Bambi starin at me from the back of a milk carton. Well, my heart just dropped. So, I decided to do what any good Christian would. You can not imagine how difficult it is to hold a half gallon of moo juice and polish the one-eyed gopher when your doin seventy-five in an eighteen-wheeler. I never thought missing children could be so sexy. Did I say that out loud?

(chorus)

Somewhere in America

The Griffin Family lives in Rhode Island.

South Park is a city in Colorado.

The Simpsons reside in the ubiquitous city of Springfield, in an unknown state (31 states have a city named Springfield).

The Hills live in Texas (for a few more months until their time-slot is taken over by The Griffin's Neighbors. But they could be back; Family Guy has been canceled twice).

Americana is what is depicted.

All of these series let us peek at American crazy-vulgarity, foolishness, idiocy, and teach us how to behave (sometimes by showing us how not to).

The television network FOX (the largest "news" network . . . solely responsible for the new requirement to use quotations around the word news) produces three of the animated series.

South Park is produced by the Cartoon Network.

ABC decided not to pick up King of the Hill after it was canceled.

I don't find it strange that these television programs have lasted for as long as they have. They have quality; script quality. The writing is topical and usually fresh.

I fault some of Family Guy's humor. But just because I don't laugh at one of the types of gags they use, which I refer to as kicking the dead and buried skeleton of a horse (and if you have ever watched an episode, you know what I mean) doesn't mean I don't think much of the (rest of the) writing is funny.

My favorite characters are everyone else's favorites.

There are episodes that stick with me.

I didn't know what the Mormon Church based it's doctrine on — until Stan Marsh told me.

I'm as lazy as Homer (and share his love of doughnuts and beer).

Stewie is guaranteed to make me chuckle and cringe simultaneously.

I'm a liberal-democrat Hank Hill.

How things really are — and always will be — is neither all-evil nor all-good but deficient, inconsistent, inferior. — Susan Sontag

extreme adjective noun


I intend to do everything ... to have one way of evaluating experience: does it cause me pleasure or pain — and I shall be very cautious about rejecting the painful — I shall anticipate pleasure everywhere (and find it, too) for it is everywhere! I shall involve myself wholly ... everything matters! — Susan Sontag

Word To Your Mother

My latest telephone call with ma mère resulted in a notable exchange. It began by me trying to clarify my half-sister Kim's most recent reunion desires:

Me: Well Kim's just trying to herd the family together at holiday-family-time. She's done it in the past and she'll do it in the future. This coming winter she'll have a teenage exchange student in her house and I think she's also interested in us all meeting her.

Her: But she doesn't seem to understand people's situations. My situation. I certainly can't afford it, and my brother is in no health to...

Me: Mom...It's just Kim—your daughter—being who she is. There's no reason to get all bent out of shape...

[Bent out of shape? When was the last time I used that phrase? 1987? How and why—when talking to my mother—do words that have been in long-term storage find their way to my tongue?]

...just because she wants to get her husband, and her husbands family, and you, and me, and your brother, and his family...all of us...all seated around a table for the first time in, er decades—that's no reason to get upset with her.

[when I said er I was thinking... we have never all been around a table. We have never been in a room together. We have never even occupied the same state of the union at one time. And I almost said: 'ever'. I suspect my 70-year-old Mom has never realized that fact. It caused me to add this ramble-rant...after she said:]

Her: I still don't think she gets it. She thinks that her jobs, and husband, and all the things that fill her days are so much more important than the things that I do. My days are full! The things and people in my life are just as important. She does not appreciate any of that. She thinks I can just drop what I'm doing and drive out there.

Me: But I think you are overlooking something. What I think she doesn't appreciate is that we—as a family—do not have what it takes, genetically, to get together. It's both genetic and environmental; but mostly it's genetic: Papa's (my grandfather) mother and father sent him to boarding school and he sent his son (my uncle) to boarding school. To send your child away—to be raised by others—requires an un-attach-ability that most parents don't have. Your grandmother passed it to your father. And, it's clear to me—that you passed it along to your children. Definitely to me. And, just look at Nanett. When was it? How long ago was it?

Her: Ahhmm mid 90's, maybe a dozen years ago?

[In 1995 my sister, Nanett, sued my mother and Kim (the executrix of the estate) because my deceased step-father (whom my mother divorced 6 months before he died) left my mother as sole beneficiary on a 401K...the money was given to my Mom, and Nanett wanted it. Three years of contentious court proceedings resulted in a 'win' for Nanett. Most of the money went to lawyers and court costs. As one would expect, it drove a wedge.]

Me: Mom, I have not exchanged a word with Nanett since then. Fourteen years, and I don't miss her. She and I never really got along, and I—clearly—remember how she was: When I visited, and we'd go out, it would always be: Oh hey, I forgot to cash a check like I intended to this week. Could you get this and I'll get you back next time? Only the next time it would be, I just spent all our money on the new carpeting, do you mind paying for this?
And then she would seem to always need 'a loan' or would ask if I could, 'spare a hundred bucks so she could fix something...like her car' always with the I-wouldn't-ask-but's attached. She divorced us, and I like being divorced from her. And I, obviously, have the genetic un-attach-ability gene because of Bram and Ian. I'm pretty sure I passed it along to them, too.

[Bram (born 1982) and Ian (born 1984) are my sons. I exchanged fluids with their mother for 16 months of the four year time-frame, that exists between the dates on the marriage and divorce certificates that bear our names. She remarried. He adopted. I signed an agreement to not interfere. When Bram and Ian each turned 18 I attempted contact and have made feeble attempts a few times since. Their messages are always clear: we don't want to know you.]

So, the way I see it, we prefer not to associate with our own family members because we genetically have the un-attach-ability gene, which has the lovely side-effect of causing a environment where we never witness our own extended family members relating to each other in any way, and that results in absolutely no extended-family memories to come into existence.

[It's not like I don't know what people without the un-attach-ability gene behave like: I have a friend who tells stories about his Italian-American family that always make me laugh. They fight and hurt each other (both physically and emotionally) every time they get together—and they get together all the time. They absolutely don't have the un-attach-ability gene...but I think one of them is going to eventually get killed because of it. Also, I recall accompanying a college friend to his home, in upstate Wisconsin, occasionally. He had an extended family that cared about each other, and—in his family—each member was honestly concerned about the well-being of each of the other members.]

Her: I don't know if it's genetic, Veach, it's just that Kim doesn't understand.

Me: She can't understand, Mom. She didn't get the un-attach-ability gene. Her Dad's family all liked to get together and reminisce...all the cousins and the brothers. They had family reunions! Don't you remember? If his family had been more cautious and healthier (they're almost all dead of accidents and diseases) Kim would be able to have get-together's with that half of her gene-pool.

I took a trip to see the beautiful things. Change of scenery. Change of heart. . .And they're still there. . .but they won't be there for long. . .that's why I went. To say goodbye. Whenever I travel, it's always to say goodbye. — Susan Sontag (I, etcetera, 1978)

A family's photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it. — Susan Sontag

The Hurt Locker


An exceptionally well told character-based story about a small unit of Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) soldiers in Iraq. The characters are surprisingly solid, the dialogue is perfect, the setting is beyond better-than-believable. There are several emotional high points as well as suspense, tension, and truth.

For me, the best thing about it is: a film-maker has successfully handled this chilling war story, while the war is on-going. Where others have tried and failed (Stop-loss, Redacted, etc) this one succeeds.

Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible. By getting us used to what, formerly, we could not bear to see or hear, because it was too shocking, painful, or embarrassing; art changes morals. — Susan Sontag

fip



Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship; in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. — Susan Sontag

Analogy, Metaphor, or Simile?

Almost twenty years ago, the leader of Texas—who referred to himself as Chief President-General of the Lone Star Nation—ordered his troops to attack Oklahoma. At the time, he said the, '...little finger of land just never looked right up there.' And, he claimed, it had always been part of Texas.

It took the combined forces of California, New York, and Canada to force the Texan Militia back inside its borders (Oklahoma helped with money, but it never had much of a military).

Six years ago, the Californian President decided to return to Texas and conquer it. Although the stated reasons were mostly propaganda-lies, the real reasons were to depose the Texas President-General (who was still acting very dictatorially villainous in the eyes of the California media), to gain access to Texas natural resources (which Californians were in need of), and to impose a democratic Texas government (that would be more user-friendly to Californians).

The war lasted several years. Although almost two hundred thousand Texan-Christian soldiers and civilians were killed by Californians, only about five thousand Californian-non-theists soldiers were killed by Texans.

As soon as the Chief President General was executed, California's government and military began to take steps to build a veneer of democratic government around the existing Texan-Christian system. It was a very formidable goal.

The next Texan problem the Californian military had to contend with were the violent battles between Texan Catholics, Baptists, and Presbyterians—each attempting to insure the “new democratic Texas” was governed by their beliefs. Thousands of Catholics were killed by Baptists (the majority of Texans are Baptist) and many more thousands of Baptists were killed by Catholics (some Presbyterians were killed but, mostly—as the obvious minority—they kept out of the way).

The new Texas Constitution proclaims that Texas will make no laws that conflict with the New Testament Bible and proclaims Christianity as the sole source of Texan governance (without delineating between Baptists, Catholics, and Presbyterians). It includes a paragraph that allows the people of Texas to practice any religion they desire (within a small list...non-theism made the list...probably at California's insistence).

Now, over 130,000 Californian-non-theist soldiers patrol and guard different Texas cities and California-Military-built-strongholds. The President of California has stated their continued presence is (among other things) to, '...prevent Texas-Christians from killing each other...,' but most of the world knows it is to ensure Texans continue to sell oil to Californians at the price Californians want to pay.

A small number of Californians continue to be killed every week. It appears most of the deaths—now—are being committed by Alabamian, Missourian, and Arizonan Christians, (even a Michigan Christian or two has made the trip). There is a fundamental Christian ground-swell—throughout many of the world's Christian members (but mainly from the formerly united nation-states) to, “go to Texas and kill some non-theists.” In some instances, the militant terrorists have little-or-no religious motivation, but are merely taking advantage of an opportunity to “eradicate meddling Californians.” Every day, the Texas borders between Mexico, New Mexico, Louisiana and Arkansas are crossed by citizens of the world who have been recruited by (what Dallas-based FOX News has termed) "staunch and staid Christian leaders" to blow up, snipe, or ambush Californian soldiers.

In the words of one West Virginian Catholic priest, “...removing the infidels and heathens from the blessed Christian land of Texas is a saintly calling...there's no sin in the act of killing non-theists because they have no soul...”.

Although Californian soldiers in Texas have much less to worry about from the (now, mostly, un-armed) Texans. Many Texans now provide food, shelter, and assistance to foreign-Christian mercenaries who are surging into Texas to (in their words) 'get some payback and legally hunt Californians.'

A Kentucky Methodist who blew up a convoy of Californians last month, said to reporters (after returning to Paducah) “You jus can’t get the same adrenaline rush playin Grand Theft Auto, now can ya? This is my generation’s callin—know whut I mean? An when I get the chance to do the lord’s work, even though it don’t pay as well as workin ov-to the WalMart, I...well...guess my reward was sendin some-a dose damn non-believers straight to hell without passin go! I'm on Jesus's team, that’s what! Dan-il Boone went to Texas to protect the Alamo...an I’m just fallin-in his footsteps.

The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art—and, by analogy, our own experience—more, rather than less, real to us. The function of criticism should be to show how it is what it is, even that it is what it is, rather than to show what it means. — Susan Sontag (author, philosopher and activist, 1933–2004)