Dear Diary...

February 28, 2001

I decided I want to be an Evil Mutant. I want Charles Xavier's powers, but I want to play for Magneto's team.

Cybermoron Dubya announced yesterday that the US would not be paying off all the national debt at this time. Instead, we're just going to pay off some of it. Now this may make sound fiscal sense. As the White House's Ari Fleischer said: ``The president does not think it's in the interest of the taxpayers, the bond holders or the country to eliminate all of the debt because of the penalties and the premiums that the nation would be forced to pay."

I wish I had thought of that when I had credit card debt. I'm sure Discover would have been very understanding.

So, if I had Charles Xavier's mind control powers, then last night, I would have taken some Republican dimbulb, probably Bob Barr since he embarasses any Georgian with a fully functioning cortex, and because I am unimaginative in my targets, and have him heckle Dubya with a scream: "Hey! Young Georgie! Can I do that to my credit card company, too?!" (Note: I am told by reliable sources that it's not just me; most people who write superheroes come up with these little what-ifs regarding crazy powers.)

Take a couple of seconds and imagine the ramifications. Dubya is embarassed in front of the nation by a member of his own party. What happens next? And incidentally, why is Congress always so nice and respectful to the president? Watch the Prime Minister's questions on C-SPAN sometime. I used to watch that in college and think "Any second now, and John Major's gonna leap across the floor and bite that guy's ear off." Bob Barr wouldn't last ten minutes in the House of Commons. British politicians leave the tact at the door, as well they should.

The other great super power would be teleporting other objects or people. That would be too perfect since you'd never want for any material possession, and if you felt like, say, a very good and very expensive meal, you just teleport the cash out of some convenience store register to pay for it.

If revenge is what you want, then teleportation is definitely the way to go. If someone cuts you off in traffic, send 'em to Kansas! All that mud in the new parking area at the J&J would look perfect in some boss's office. Jilted by some heartbreaker? Give her the gift of public exposure by teleporting away her clothes every couple of days. Did she leave you for another man? Why not dump that man into the costume of a baseball mascot and then send him to his job interview? Alternately, teleport an infinite number of hot dog buns into his underwear, followed by a note saying "This will keep happening as long as you're seeing her." Eminem? Meet Antarctica. You are the weakest link. Goodbye.

Actually, he's more like the missing link, isn't he?

For a variant, I'm in favor of the "other planets" power. With this - you can tell by now that this job doesn't exercise my mind much - with this, you create two alternate versions of Earth. One is for irritating people, and one is for hateful ones. These alternate versions are exactly like Earth is right now, only there aren't any people on them. Cars, trees, buildings, etc. are all intact. So are the animals, and unfortunately all the little Rovers and Fidos are gonna turn feral when nobody feeds them, but there will be plenty of guns and stuff around for people to defend themselves from rabid squirrel attacks.

So on Hateful Earth, we dump everyone on death row. Don't waste the pentathol, just dump them there. We can also send Osamu bin Laden, the Iraqi government and everyone associated with the Taliban, about whom more in a few moments.

Irritating Earth is where that grad student I had for US lit can go. He can be joined by half the drivers on the perimeter, Jesse Jackson, Rush Limbaugh, that horrible 13-year old singing child, Aaron something, Joe Isuzu (Matt informs me he's coming back), every dog that has been trained to walk on its hind legs, Michael Jackson, the corporate trainer who informed us "they got this thayng called th'Internet, and that's the craziest thing ya'll ever seen!" when I started here in the summer of 2000, the Olsen Twins, every rapper whose rivalry involves guns, and everyone who drinks Zima. Every president would go here upon leaving office. Except Dubya, who might go here now.

So yeah, call me selfish and evil, but that's what I'd do.

Also selfish and evil: the Taliban, the Islamic psychopaths who control Afghanistan by force following a military coup and who have successfully returned the nation to an Iron Age-level of technology, culture and sense.

Please don't think me bigotted or anti-Muslim in my comments. I have no objection to Islam. In fact, if you are willing to accept that Mohammed was the last prophet and all his holy words came from an angel that talked to him in a cave, then Islam makes as much sense as any religion that has been founded in the United States of America, and it makes a hell of a lot more sense than Scientology, the "religion" for the terminally pea-brained. There are, in fact, quite a few intelligent Muslims, but there are, to my knowledge, no intelligent Scientologists. (Oh, I know there are some famous ones, but these are people who honestly believe all that space-colonization-Xemu lark, which Scientologists don't like to talk about in public because it makes them sound stupid and because it's a copyrighted trade secret.)

Well, perhaps I should talk about Scientology some other time. At least Scientology's extremists - such as they are - only resort to extreme measures in court to keep their beliefs secret. The extremists of the Taliban should all be lined up against a wall and shot dead - yes, I mean that - for their abhorrent treatment of women anyway. Their new announcements that the regime plans to destroy some giant and beautiful 5th Century Buddhist statues and artifacts - priceless in every sense - that had the misfortune of being built in what are the 21st Century borders of Afghanistan is bloodcurdingly sick. I read a lot of sick news yesterday, but this disgusted me absolutely.

The Taliban schemes to create a pure Islamic state, free from any influence by any other religion or culture, past or present. Again with that stupid idea of a homeland! Afghanistan had female doctors before these psychos took over. Now women cannot leave the home unless on household business approved by their husbands, and never without one of those sick tarps that cover them completely. They get this subjugation-of-women thing, along with all their other mentally deranged ideas, from some interpretation of the Qu'ran which is nowhere to be found in the text. I have read a fair amount of the Qu'ran - to be accurate, I have read a fair amount of an "interpretation" of the Qu'ran, as Islamic law states that the Qu'ran is an Arabic document and translations are only interpretations, nothing more - and I never saw anything about treating women as less than dogs. I am also informed by a reliable scholar of Islam - Eunice Wirtz, formerly of the University of Georgia religion department - that this isn't anywhere in any other part of the Qu'ran either. I guess the Taliban found it in the same book that the psychotic "Christians" who hold "GOD HATES FAGS" signs and scream at homosexuals found their hate. Neither book is holy and neither view should be considered representative of the beliefs held by the majority of the religion's subscribers, because neither book exists.

No, I've not read the Qu'ran in its entirety. I've not read all of the Bible either. I got lost in Corinthians and I decided that Paul's letters don't half go on, and I got bored with them.

The destruction of these statues - I don't mean little mantelpiece trinkets, though these too, like all images, are banned by the Taliban, some of these are gigantic monuments in the desert - is profoundly sick. There is no culture and no belief system that deserves to be wiped out, only the extremist subsects of them. To destroy these relics is an affront to our planet's rich history and to our people's heritage.

I suppose I could sign some petition or write some letter, but I very much doubt that anything short of massive military force can stop the Taliban anymore. Perhaps the Afghan government-in-exile can raise international support, but it will be messy.

Which is why I need super powers. The Taliban would be more than welcome to a very large pure Islamic chunk of Hateful Earth. They can wreck all the statues they want to, but since the women won't be going with them, I suppose they won't be there for very long.

But if the variant "other Earth" power is out of the question, I'll settle for simple teleportation. Maybe if those Russian tanks never left, this wouldn't have happened. I'd be very happy to see them put back.

Now playing: Pet Shop Boys: Introspective

February 27, 2001

Let me report this again.

On January 27, an independent and objective study by the Palm Beach Post showed that, had the recounts continued in Palm Beach County, then Gore would have gained 2500 votes and Bush gained 1818; a net gain of 682 for Gore, more than enough to take the state.

On February 26, an independent and objective study by USA Today showed that, had the recounts continued in Miami-Dade County, then Gore would have gained 49 votes, not enough to take the state.

It's how these events were reported that sickens me. Reuters and Yahoo jumped all over the new figure and it was the front page headline on the afternoon and evening editions of The Atlanta Journal. Excuse me… where was the national reporting of the earlier study?

Bear this little fact in mind the next time someone refers to "the liberal media."

Yesterday was so frigging busy. I hate being at work when I have a stack of personal art deadlines to meet. I finished lettering and partially inked most of a stack of thirteen pages. People have told me to give myself a break on the GMS Legion deadline, and it looks like I'll have to, and post an announcement to the eGroup tonight that Book 13 will be delayed to March 15. This will be the first time in over three years I will miss a deadline. That means Brooke Williams has nine extra days to get me her final six pages. It also means that I spend all Saturday the 17th doing my least favorite part of the chore: sending the hype to Digital Webbing, Gravitywell, CBR, the newsgroups and so forth. Nothing sucks half as much as publicity, particularly when you're as crap at it as I am. Which reminds me that in all the utter bleeding chaos of the last two weeks, I've left the Announcements page sorely abandoned and I have two new things to report. Arggggg!

Now playing: Blue Condition: Ed

February 26, 2001

I hate spam so much. Nothing pisses me off more. Tell me they're moms working from home with kids to feed and I don't care. I advocate nothing short of death for spammers. The occasional giggles the subject lines generate aren't worth the time it takes to delete them. I kind of enjoyed "GET OUT OF BEBT," while "Are you tired of debtors calling/harassing you???" only made me say "Since I have no debt - or bebt - no, but I am tired of YOU fuckers harassing me!"

I should point out that Hotmail's filter sends 95% or more of the spam I get to a Bulk Mail folder and I only see it once in a while when I just delete some of it. However, one arrived a few weeks ago and bypassed the bulk folder. It was titled "I love you and I don't want you to die!" and I bit. Since I've spoken frankly about my occasionally poor mental health here, and since I've been looking over my metaphorical shoulder for quite a while about some (quite possibly unrelated) weirdness by e-mail, telephone, CrushList, rude things in search engines and mystery flowers, this was the sort of thing I thought I should read.

Nah, it was more spam. Apparently, as legend or truth would have it, once upon a time, fitness expert Richard Simmons was really overweight. One day he went to his car and there was a handwritten note from an anonymous party in his wiper. It read "I love you and I don't want you to die" and urged him to take better care of his body. That note, so the legend goes, saved his life. The spam relates this story and urges the reader to send money for a weight loss program.

I have a massive hatred of any day where my spam outnumbers my new e-mail. Less than ten and my self-esteem crashes into "nobody cares" mode. But when I get something that purports to be a personal message of concern but is actually just more junk, that really angers me. And the occasional "clean out the Bulk Mail folder" days just show that the same e-mail is coming from a host of different addresses. Death's too good for the asswipes behind this.

In other health news, nobody's infectious anymore. I still hurt when I sneeze, yawn or laugh. Julian actually did have strep, and that developed into scarlet fever. He's on amoxicillin. Ivy's combination of drool and eczema combined with the bacteria (I think) and created impetigo. Look for Impetigo Ivy to plague (sorry) the Legion in Book 42! And Deb's dad came home, his short-term prognosis considerably better than the zero-chance they gave him a few weeks ago.

Now playing: Dido: No Angel

February 22, 2001

Let's see...

It's not strep. It is a very major infection which has invaded most of my body. It is exhibiting symptoms in my throat and in my prostate.

Yeah, you read that right.

So. I have the acetomeniphen, the tylenol, the codeine, sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim and a thick syrup called xylocaine which numbs my throat and makes molasses look like water.

Men: it ain't pleasant (it's really, really, really unpleasant), but if you're thirty, go get your prostate checked. Mine is merely infected (and, owing to some side effects I've been seeing, has been for a while), but it could be a lot worse, and what I've been reading on the CDC public pages indicates you don't want problems with your prostate.

Just... don't try to make light of the unpleasantness by telling a joke and making your doctor laugh while he's doing the exam.

Meanwhile, I actually did a couple of page updates since I had nothing better to do and I can type better than I can ink today.

I hope Deb gets home soon. She might bring soup.

Now playing: Kindercore Fifty -- We Thank You

February 21, 2001

I'm supposed to be drawing GMS Legion. Instead I'm down with strep and in absolute agony. Every time I cough or swallow, and every time I sneeze especially, it feels like hell. And I'm cold and tired and unloved and unwanted.

The doc gave me a prescription for codeine. See you in 2003.

February 19, 2001

Last minute rejuggling on GMS Legion has left me coming up with two replacement episodes with virtually no time to spare. On Friday, I wrote a 4-page "weirdo" not-strictly-canon-but-maybe-kinda story, and then fed out pages after a panicked "who wants to draw this" request. Well, I gave page 4 to Neal since he can draw big expensive houses and since his recent illness is the cause of this current scrambling.

The other story… well, heck, it's an odd one. I spent all weekend with nothing in my head other than "Shamrock returns to duty." I had a song in my head and that inspired the title, which inspired the situation. Then Shamrock ran with it. I only had to do a little bit of editing. Shamrock had a fair amount to get off her chest with me, and she confessed a thing or two that I did not know.

Anyone who doesn't believe that characters have their own life simply has not found the right characters. Whenever this happens, I get a little thrilled and a little frightened. It also – since I've written several episodes that take place after this one – means that those episodes will be read in a new light of sorts. That's actually a little frustrating.

On the other hand, well, shit. I wrote eleven pages in four hours. I couldn't have done that unless Shamrock was helping me. Now I just have to find time to draw it.

Now playing: The House of Love: Audience With the Mind

February 17, 2001

I don't like MARTA anymore. I've tried and tried, but two little things this week have pushed me over the edge.

Mind, the first is a minor thing by comparison, and one which I would overlook normally. MARTA has a 10-part customer service pledge, and #9 and #10 have to do with answering community inquiries and such. I wrote them several days ago from my work address, wondering when they were going to announce plans for new rail stations, and what happened to the five-year old plans for lines to Tucker from Decatur, and to Hapeville from College Park. I got a "someone will get back to you" e-mail, but nothing further.

But tonight... this is one for the books. Everyone thank whatever God you hold sacred that Grant doesn't own a firearm, because if I did, I would have shot a MARTA employee dead in self defense earlier tonight.

Here's the situation: Deb wanted to go to Nearly New, which is in Lindbergh Plaza. I suggested that she take the train to the Lindbergh Center station and the kids and I would drive down from Alpharetta and meet her at the Kiss-Ride at 6.30 pm. Yeah, right in the middle of the tornado watch. Well, we're stupid and didn't know about it until it was too late to revise plans.

By 6.15, it was dark and pouring down rain. I travelled south down Piedmont and saw the commuter parking signs for the train station, which lead you to a parking deck behind the Pizza Hut there. Admittedly, I am not at all familiar with the Lindbergh station, but I did not know where the Kiss-Ride area was. There were certainly no signs directing us to go further on; in fact, from all commuter evidence and the signs in and around the parking deck, there is no Kiss-Ride.

But this is a small matter. What I elected to do was grab a space overlooking the station on the third floor, and look down at the pedestrians to see my wife while entertaining the kids as much as possible. (Irregular visitors should note that my kids are 2 and 3-going-on-4 years old, and require much entertaining.)

Now, sitting in the deck where there were no Kiss-Ride signs was exhilirating for a time, but it was also frustrating and very, very wet. The winds blew sheets of rain in on top of me. After a few minutes, I was no longer able to see because of the rain blowing straight in my face!

Then the power went out. The deck lights switched over to a generator within two seconds, but it still scared the heck out of the kids. No sign of Mommy, either, and I suspected that she should have been at the train station before me. Obviously there must be a Kiss-Ride area somewhere else, so we set off to find it.

The blackout was really something to experience. Everything for about a block north and south of the deck was dead: street lights, traffic lights, all the restaurants and signs. It was eerie, weird, pitch black save for headlights, loud as hell and very disorienting. The screaming kids didn't help. It was 6.45 when I pulled back onto Piedmont, drove south, and took the next available right.

I knew immediately I'd made a wrong turn. There is huge construction going on at the Lindbergh Center, for a mixed-use development project. Ahead of me, my headlights illuminated an orange sign reading STREET CLOSED. I rolled to a stop in front of the sign -- I did NOT pass the sign -- and looked for a place to turn around. I didn't see any, so I figured I'd have to back up and three-point it.

Suddenly a man in a red plastic raincoat emerged from a plastic tent and started walking my way. Hey! He worked here; he could tell me whether there was a Kiss-Ride -- heck, the important thing was to just find another parking lot. I rolled my window down and shouted "Excuse me!"

He said "You need to get on outta here! This street's closed!" Now I could see him though there were still shadows: a big guy, black, a good bit older than me but obviously built for strength.

"I know," I replied. "Can ya help me? I'm trying to find another parking lot. We just came from there -- "

"Turn your car around and leave. This street is closed." He was pissed.

"I don't want to use this street. Is there another parking lot?"


"Look, I just need to know where the parking lot is!"

"I SAID get your car turned around, RIGHT NOW."

Here I paused. I couldn't believe this. All he had to do was point. By now, I was leaning well out of the window and was about to get out of the car. (Please note that, however stupid this was, I had not penetrated the sanctity of the STREET CLOSED region, I was very pissed, very worried, very lost and was asking a perfectly reasonable question.)

"Gladly," said I. "But I've been in that parking deck and I'm trying to get to another one, and I'm asking you to just tell me if there's another."

The man then stuck his right hand in his red raincoat. I froze. Every instinct in my body -- call it a race memory as I don't own a gun -- sent my right hand to my hip. If there had been a gun there, I'd have had it drawn and the trigger pulled before the man fumbled out and produced his badge. The asshole even pulled his badge out like it was a gun, clenched between his thumb and forefinger, arced out straight forward. I'll have to assume, therefore, he was a MARTA cop. No real policeman could possibly have been so stupid as to pull that trick. He was also sitting in a plastic tent twelve yards from Piedmont Road while there's a blackout going on. Nahh, he was a MARTA cop.

Anyway, while my eyes were raised and my right hand was on my hip, he shouted "Do you want me to arrest you?" I didn't say a word, I just leaned back in and pulled away.

If I had a gun, that man would be dead. I legitimately feared for not just my life, but the lives of my kids when this unknown man -- remember, he did not identify himself as representing anybody -- reached in his raincoat. In retrospect, what I should have done -- when some moron shouts at me and then goes for what could have been a gun -- was floor the accelerator and hit him with my car.

Let's just assume he was a MARTA cop, though. What happened from his perspective? Someone came down the wrong street, came to a complete stop, leaned out the window and asked for help. And that's all. Maybe the cop had a bad day. Maybe, like me, he was completely drenched. Maybe he had people coming down the street he's supposed to guard all day long and he was sick of it.

Does that excuse his insane behavior? Not even remotely. All the guy had to do was say "Parking lot's over there, now turn around."

But I guess when you get the massive superiority complex and power trip that a little tin badge gives you, you forget manners, you forget common sense, and you forget the customer service that your employer, MARTA, swears that it tries to provide. You just do something so incredibly stupid that you ensure your employer's gonna get an even worse name since this incident will be archived here for a very, very long time for the whole world to read.

Was the little rush of kicking around the little guy in the red Mazda really worth it in the end?

February 16, 2001

First: this from Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) - A car dealer took a Dalek alien from the Dr Who television series in part exchange for an E-Type Jaguar. Gary Davis is now offering the robotic space creature for sale for 4,000 pounds and getting a flood of calls from imitators pretending to be Daleks. "The Dalek is next to an 80,000 pound Ferrari in the showroom but nobody's interested in the Ferrari," Davis told BBC News from his showroom in Poole, Dorset.

We've been having disconnection trouble with Mindspring, which is nothing short of maddening. Sometimes when we connect - and mind, we have two computers, so I think it's unlikely the problem is on our end - we stay on just fine. Other times, and often, we'll stay connected for about 17 seconds before it just goes off. Uploading should not be a race against the clock.

It was particularly annoying last night because I wanted to do the Yahoo George Harrison chat. I kept getting disconnected, but I submitted over a dozen questions, and of course the moderator accepted none of them and kept lobbing softballs at George. "Will you tour Argentina?" "Which version of My Sweet Lord do you prefer?" "Do you surf the net?" "Will you reunite with Paul and Ringo?" "Will you tour Russia?" My own queries, which I swear started sweet, got increasingly nasty as I kept seeing these little baby-ass questions being offered. "How'd you feel when the Dark Horse LP failed to chart in England?" "Is Layla one of the great rock anthems?" I really thought George was too rich when he said he preferred the new version of "My Sweet Lord" because it's new. "What new music do you listen to, George?" "What do you think of Oasis?" "If you prefer new music, why not give us some new tunes instead of reissuing your 70s catalog?" "What was the last show you saw in a club?"

Stupid moderator.

See, Roxy Music have reunited - three of them, anyway - and they had a press conference in London on the 12th. Heather James posted some pics; this was a huge affair. Reps from every conceivable commercial media concern in Europe were there, and while the overall tone was one of curiosity and coolness ("Holy shit!! Roxy Music - one of the best bands of the 70s - are back together!!"), the journalists still acted like journalists should and let Bry, Andy and Phil have it from time to time. Referring to the absence of their original drummer, sacked in 1980, someone asked "Don't you have Paul Thompson's telephone number?" Bry immediately responded, "Yes, I do. Do you need it?"

And that's the difference between chats and conferences. Moderated chats do nothing but stroke egos and let celebrities know how brilliant their fans think they are. George stopped facing the press as soon as it turned on him, and has only willingly done it since when he can be assured - as with the Wilburys - of a positive reception, but the media should be questioning artists, since nobody else is willing to try. If an artist can defend his art, that only means that both the art and the artist are that much stronger. Now, admittedly, Extra Texture, as an artistic decision, was about as defendable as the remake of Psycho or one of those unsold pilots with talking dogs and Steve Guttenberg, but avoiding artistic inquiry is no way for the man who wrote "Taxman" to behave. George should be able to deflect any level of criticism from anybody, because he's got the wit, he's got the brain and he's got the talent. He should have told me "When Dark Horse failed, I couldn't have given a shit. I think it's a great album and don't care what the critics said." Shut my mouth.

Ah, what do I know? I heckled Elvis fucking Costello.

I did an unmoderated chat with Deidre Hall once. Naturally, I was lost in a torrent of Days of Our Lives fans, but she answered several questions from me about Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. What an awesome woman.

In lighter news, my wife and I take turns being each other's straight man. I admit she ends up on the receiving end more often, but on the other hand, she's nothing short of gale-force destructive when she nails me. My usual trick, since she always e-mails me without a specific reference, is to answer a different question. It never fails to annoy the heck out of her. Prior to starting this paragraph, I got a nasty nosebleed. But before that, I asked if there was anything I should do specially to handle a delicate situation with Julian's day care class (to be explained later). Then I wrote again "Aieeee nosebleed!"

So Deb writes back "You just need to be as positive as you can." My reply: "How can I be positive about a nosebleed??! I'm losing buckets here!" Still, she catches on quick: "you need to need all the buckets you can get!" Well, hardy har.

The other fun trick is to play off her occasional typos. I mentioned once I needed a plant… I couldn't say why, it was just very important, remind me about the plant. She asked "What is the deal with Plant?" I just said "He wrote a whole lotta songs with Page." I couldn't have planned better.

Now playing: Elf Power: The Winter is Coming

February 15, 2001

Deb was supposed to leave for Athens this morning. She has to sign consent and agreement forms at the hospital detailing the family's wishes as they remove the breathing tube from her dad, but they have delayed this to Saturday.

Somewhat bummed, I did another check on my 00page stats. People wanna see Sheryl Crow, Neko Case and Juliana Hatfield without their clothes this week. It's very annoying, since I think the only reason I should edit my own reviews is for clarity or expansion, but I think I'm gonna have to censor the n--- word in the Paula Cole entry to deflect this traffic. I also had visitors to the pictures page looking for Jessica (again - should we worry?) and Meredith. And someone looked at November's diary after entering a search for Jodi Ann Patterson, who is cited therein for her appearance on the cover of Zebrahead's album.

Anonymous love and hate: At 9.26 pm last night, I had a visitor to the page (to the Draino interview) who came by after entering "screw grant goggans" into the Yahoo! search engine. The visitor came from IP address, which is apparently in Knoxville. I don't even know anybody in Knoxville!! Anybody know how to identify that address? Oh well, I did get flowers and balloons at work yesterday. Deb says she doesn't know anything about them. Thanks, secret admirer… I hope!

Now playing: Depeche Mode: Ultra

February 14, 2001

Nothing new to report from Athens... they phoned the family to say he would not recover, but he's been slightly improving.

February 12, 2001

Anna didn't stay benched for long. Deb's dad had a major and massive recurrence of pneumonia and he's in the Athens Regional critical care unit. So we were back in Athens yesterday, with no time to play. Recovery's only a possibility at this stage.

Even though this was hardly a social visit to town, while we there, we indulged my craving for Steverino's. It was sparked by getting a Jersey Mike's sub Saturday night and disliking the bland bread so much that I desired that oven-crisp, almost burned "sub toast" they use at Steve's. Mmmmmm. It was so good that I didn't mind having my cup split four ways and spill Coke all over myself when I tried to put the lid on top.

The kids and I had a pretty good day together while Deb worked on Saturday. After taking Deb to the train station, I let them watch TV for an hour and then gave them the bath to end all baths. I'm not quite sure how they got so filthy, but they required scrubbings with wire brushes and brillo pads. Lucky for them, I was fresh out, so they had to make do with soap and water. Oh, and they bawled. I don't bathe them right, apparently. Nevertheless, they were as clean as humanly possible by the time I got done with 'em. Then they got nails cut and hairs brushed, and, since I was in a "cleaning the dependents" mood, I scrubbed down our cats' faces and cleaned out their eyes. Truly I was a cleaning fool.

They got another hour of play and cleanup before we went to Chic-Fil-A and they got twenty minutes of playground time before we went home for a two-hour nap. Then we went CD shopping over in Duluth and we picked Deb up. The day just flew by!

Pleasant Hill Rd. is the only place I've seen with two used CD places across the street from each other. There's a great CD Warehouse in a Kroger shopping center where I bought a few fun things - Blue Nile, Julia Fordham, and Rasputina's first album -- for $2.99! A quick hop across the four-lane takes you to a Wherehouse Music, though sadly one that's not kept in very good order. I did find the Manic Street Preachers' Gold Against the Soul, but they could well have far more of interest than even that hiding in the bins. The kids, however, wouldn't afford me the time to properly investigate.

Now, the day before, I stumbled across a wonderful used CD place on Holcomb Bridge Rd with the slightly unoriginal name of Musica. Their selection isn't very extensive yet, but they make up for it by providing a great ambience and a "stamp" program like the one CD Warehouse discontinued. The owner was extremely friendly and, unlike some of the guys in this fun bizness, actually seemed to enjoy his job. I was all too pleased to pick up a Woggles disc and PJ Harvey's last one.

A great Julian anecdote from Musica: we keep our copy of The Beatles 1, which Scott gave me for Christmas, in the car for Juju to listen to and sing along with the songs. He knows the first five tracks pretty well, even if it's a little tiring listen to him bitch "No, Daddy! The Beatles!" every time I try to put something else on. On the other hand, Julian has something to look for in CD stores: when he sees the disc on the shelf, he goes "Daddy, look!! The Beatles!!!!" I think that he thinks that the Beatles are like our secret thing or something.

Well, a regular customer stopped in to Musica while we were finishing up and asked about the store's new Beatles posters. Julian overheard their conversation and squealed "Daddy! He said the BEATLES!!" I probably should have rewarded Julian in the car with a quick run from "Love Me Do" through "Can't Buy Me Love," but I was selfish and put on PJ Harvey instead. "She's PRETTY, Daddy," he declared. Deb wasn't all that amused when I picked her up later. "Not PJ Harvey," she said. "My son doesn't need the angst."

Which brings me to the astonishing thing that Juju, who, I remind you, is three, told his day care class Friday: he said that Deb and I are his new parents. He let the class and their teacher know that his old parents were shot and killed by bad men and their hearts exploded. He was very sad. Then Debi and I came from Florida in April and he was happy then because he has a new family. His teacher took it at face value and simply assumed he was adopted - he's not, of course - but wanted to talk to me about the whole "murdered parents" aspect and try to get Julian to not speak of such violent things in school. I'm sure the color must have drained from my face when she told me!

In other-people-news: Matt C's en route to Hawaii in a few days on his company's buck. His pal from Columbus PJ, who is, truly, Mr. Disco, is going with him to that land of leis and luaus. Dave and Melanie, who are mercifully being friendly, came by Saturday night with CB and Elizabeth. Everyone agreed that yes, Lugg is one messed-up ugly cat. He stayed in CB's lap most of the night. Victoria wrote to inform me of an unpleasant obscene phone call that she received. It's never good news from her, is it? Whoever's doing that, cut it out. Randy, whose ongoing lack of funds will hopefully be turned around by a soon-to-arrive paycheck, is doing a week of Valentine thayngs up in Nashville. I'd say he's gonna wine-and-dine Brooke, but I suspect there will be a fair amount more dining than wining, since sparkling grape juice makes Brooke tipsy.

There's little else to say now, other than: I changed my mind about the Understanding TV 101 thing for now, but it may appear in the near future. So stay tuned if you wish.

Now playing: R.E.M. : Fables of the Reconstruction

February 10, 2001

Bernice Surprise Summerfield Sticky Note:
See how all my entries have names attached?
Notice that, except for a few from my past, this one doesn't?

I feel the need to bitch. The subject is gender politics. Your comments welcome. Particularly if you're named in the list below and surfed here by some very bizarre twist of net fate. For consistency's sake, the following terminology shall be constant in the entry following:
"the guy" -- a male, any male, who honestly desires a nice relationship with
"the woman" -- a female, any female, who has agreed that a relationship would be a good idea, but who is opposed by
"the so-called-best-friend," who is almost always female and disapproves of, not necessarily the relationship, but the guy. And here's the critical part, lacks even one shred of anything that looks like a solid reason why.

This was brought up the other day, since I know a "guy" whose relationship is souring thanks in no small part to the "so-called-best-friend" "not trusting" the guy and I agreed that I had put up with it a few times myself. Then I chatted around at work and found it was universally common. I even did a lot of soul-searchin' about my own high school and college relationships and found that every last time, bar one, when I was hanging out with somebody, there was always some so-called-best-friend disapproving.

And who were these disapproving so-called-best-friends, and why didn't they want the woman going out with (here, me) without their approval? There was Sonia, who never said why. There was Jennifer N---, who didn't like me because I was a geek (which was rich coming from a conslut who only attended SF cons for beer). There was Sherida, who never said. There was Sarah Clinger, who later became a great friend and confidante, but who was convinced I was a drug fiend who was only trying to get into the woman in question's pants (which wasn't true). There was Rhonda, who never said. There was Ruth, who never said. There was what's-her-name-who-roomed with her, who never said. There was my sister-in-law, who's a case study in aberrant behavior anyway, who hated me ever since I broke up the family and dared to cast aspersions on the same neighbors she already disliked, the nut. And a couple of others besides, and in the majority of the cases, it was always that I had committed some imperceptible but nevertheless egregious error which the so-called-best-friend decided to hold against me, but not reveal to anyone, even the woman.

Deb says this is a defense mechanism. She thinks that when a woman falls in love, she loses not just her evil edge, but her common sense, which is possibly true. So it apparently falls down to some so-called-best-friend to make life utter fucking misery for the guy, regardless of his motives. And hey, I'll be the first to admit there are hordes of dumbass males just looking for sex as cheaply as they can get it.

That does not mean that so-called-best-friends should immediately put up the red flag and, whenever a woman falls for or starts a relationship with a guy start the "I just don't trust him" bullshit. Hey, if the guy legitimately does something shady or shitty, then by all means, best friend, let the guy have it and tell the woman what he did. Every time. Don't be afraid. That's what a real best friend would do.

What a so-called-best-friend does is totally different, and altogether sick, I think. They do the "Oh, I don't know about him" shit. The "Do you really think he'll make you happy?" shit. The "I don't know what it is, but I just don't trust him" shit. The "I'm sure he's a nice guy, but is he really what you want?" shit. The "I just get a funny feeling around him" shit. And shit? It's too nice a word.

But, ladies, here's a crazy fact: there really are some nice guys out there. Take me. Sure, I'm not at all proud of some of the things I've done. But I've never said "I'll call" and didn't. I never picked up someone and used them. I never slept with anybody's best friend. I never dumped anyone out of the blue and you know what? I'm not the only one!

Lemme also remind you that we do live in a nation where innocent until proven guilty is a federal right.

Since Deb and I sorta swear "till death us do part" at least weekly and since I don't ever have to put up with her sister ever again, I don't have to endure this shit anymore or, God willing ever again, but I do not like seeing it when people don't deserve it. If you're a so-called-best-friend reading this and you're in one of these situations, why don't you grow a fucking backbone and tell the woman -- hell, the guy, too -- exactly what your fucking problem is. If you're a guy in this situation, my heart's out to you, but be man enough to not give the so-called-best-friend a leg to stand on, and don't ever, ever screw up so bad that the so-called-best-friend gets the "I told you he was a creep" points.

But if you're the woman caught in the middle, maybe it's not just time you thought for yourself, but maybe it's also time you realized that anyone who wants you to get away from the guy making you happy without telling you why cannot be called a friend by any definition I use.

Now playing: Brave Ulysses: Ulysses' Last Stand

February 9, 2001

Being as sick as I am takes me back about ten years… to the "sickest I've ever been" story.

It was my sophomore year in college. Bush Sr. was president and I'd only recently started figuring out how to win Illuminati. I had spent about a week that January being very poorly. Not necessarily sick yet, but completely washed out and weak. For several days, my routine was as simple as going to class and going to bed. I was casually seeing a wonderful girl named Lisa at the time and she frequently stopped by, insisting I subside on bland foods until this malingering passed. So I sipped at soup, and ate dry toast and saltines and rice cakes. I had more Benadryl than blood in my body, but neither that nor ibuprofen could get my fever below 100.

So one night I decided I'd had enough of this bland food crap and went out for nachos.

There's a story around the UGA campus - it may be every campus -- about the "freshman 15." Allegedly, new frosh tend to gain weight when they go to university. I didn't because I had an aversion to taking the campus busses anywhere when I lived in the dorm. There was absolutely no reason why I couldn't walk. In fact, the reverse was true in my case: I'd put on several pounds the spring and summer before going to school and I took it all off before my sophomore year. At any rate, it was January 1991, the sun was going down, and soon the only bus in service would be the Night Bus, which I wouldn't take anyway, and I bundled myself up and walked to the downtown Mean Bean.

Suffice it to say that those were the best nachos I'd ever had. That Mean Bean - since closed - shared a similar problem with a lot of downtown restuarants that didn't have liquor licenses: their dinner clientele was incredibly small and this certainly contributed to their closing this location down. That evening, it was juts me and the staff. I read Flagpole and chatted with them, savoring every burn of jalapenos and extra-hot salsa, knowing none of it was remotely advisable to eat, and then looked out the window to see the rain start to fall.

I'll never forget the walk home. The spices had an immediately negative effect on me, the temperature had dropped drastically and it was pouring buckets. I vividly recall the sheen of the lights on the wet asphalt contorting as my vision blurred.

I didn't get all that far before I had to get out of the rain for a while. I took shelter in the academic building foyer and shivered while I coughed and hacked and blew my nose with the napkins I'd taken with me from the restaurant. Eventually, the rain eased up and I started making my way back in just a mild drizzle. Typically, it opened up again and came down, heavier than ever, between Leconte and the J-school, where there was no immediate shelter until I crossed the street. All the while I was thinking "If you watched the news instead of goddamn O'Hara US Treasury repeats on A&E, you'd have known it was gonna rain."

I got home, had a hot shower, and curled in bed under nine or ten blankets for a fourteen hour sleep. When I woke up at noon the next day, I knew I was in too bad of shape to look after myself and phoned home, begging Mommy to pweese come get me. Of course, this presented an extreme hardship because my parents are asses, but she called back and said Dad would be there around six to get me. In the meantime, I was to go to Gilbert.

Current UGA students accustomed to the by-comparison awesome University Health Services really missed out on the fun of when UHS was working ten times as hard in the wholly inappropriate Gilbert Hall on north campus. An architectural melange of varying styles, this building was far too small and cramped for UHS to do its job smoothly, but its staff were troopers and champs to the last man. Everybody from my day has a favorite Gilbert story. Deb's quite fond of sharing an elevator (en route to the women's clinic on the top floor) with a mob of hulking Bulldawg defensive linemen, all silently holding little cups of urine.

Well, you know the drill about cold and flus, and the UHS staff know it better than you. It's a virus, so antibiotics don't work, take aspirin - always free from UHS - get rest, here's a note excusing you from class today and tomorrow, next!

Dad got there around six and packed me up. Unfortunately, since it was Dad, I knew my ride home would take at least two and a half hours. Dad didn't like the standard drives to Athens of the day (then, either 78 from Stone Mt or 316 to Lawrenceville - as far as it went then - and then 29 through Winder) because both of them went through "that shitty side," which would be Broad Street between Alps and Milledge. "Looks like Bankhead Highway," he muttered, never having been down Nellie B. No, Dad's mode of travel was to take 85 all the way to Pendergrass, then go through Jefferson, which he adored, and follow that until it becomes Prince Avenue, turning on Milledge at the Dunkin' Donuts. And, I have to grant him, that's a far prettier drive, but it takes so much longer and I was sick.

Oddly enough, I realized as we lazily cruised towards Jefferson, this was the first time I'd been in any form of motorized travel in about two weeks. And I was getting carsick. Dad stopped at the Arby's in Pendergrass for a roast beef sandwich and for me to empty my stomach of everything I'd ever eaten. This made me real sick dizzy and I wanted nothing so much than to just be put out of my misery. I stumbled and staggered out of the restroom and felt more drunk than I'd ever been. I could barely stand and everything swayed and waved in my sight line. A dark-haired elementary school kid holding a bottle of Arby's sauce walked up to me - no joke - and asked if I knew where any Horsey sauce was. Dad walked me out to the car and made me as comfortable as possible for the drive home.

It wasn't very long before Fox 97 stopped playing their repertoire of Golden Moldies to broadcast live CNN coverage: the Gulf War had begun minutes before. I bawled all the way home. (By one messed up coincidence, I'm listening to Marianne Faithfull singing "Broken English" right now and the refrain lines "What are we fighting for?" played just as I wrote that.)

The next few days were a total blur. I wanted to watch regular TV, but all channels had nowt but Gulf War coverage. I just stayed on my parents' couch in the den, wrapped in blankets and blowing my nose, barely able to talk or concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes, for the rest of the week.

That's why, no matter how sick I've been since, even when, in 1999, I spent a week in the hospital with a nasty stomach thing, I can always say "I've been through worse." I'll never forget blowing my nose in the rain that January, or not being able to stand without support in that Arby's. And while I like sick days as much as the rest of us, I can probably go on in to work. If I'm tough enough to live through my "Gulf War Sick," I can live through my February flu.

Speaking of which, **cough**.

Now playing: Michael Hoppe: The Yearning and Marianne Faithfull: Blazing Away

February 7, 2001

"Rik, they threw us off the train because you said Aslef was an anagram of Total and Complete Bastard." - The Young Ones

It occurred to me when we were in London in 1995 just how easily the city could be paralyzed by the shutdown of its underground railway, which is colloquially called the Tube. Since I adore mass transit - well, the principle of mass transit, if not always the application - I've paid close attention to the Tube, which may sometimes smell and is damn dirty, but is shockingly efficient and holds enough of a weirdo mystique that, should there really be Yeti down there as Doctor Who showed viewers in the sixties, nobody would be very surprised. It would help explain the incredible howling and gale-force winds that whip through the tunnels anyway.

The London Underground has been going through massive internal chaos since the government elected to privatize it, and, most recently start a public-private partnership, where different governing bodies are in charge of different aspects of operations. Track upkeep, signal operations, the trains themselves, everything is to be handled by different organizations. Fearing that this will create unsafe conditions (ya think? Duh!), Aslef, the union for train engineers and firemen, struck for 24 hours on Monday to make their position known.

The reports I read yesterday were crazy. Anticipating the rail delays, people took to the cars in a city which already stands at traffic gridlock. There were 30% more cars on the roads. People tried to use the buses instead, but commuters stranded at bus stops began fighting when buses jammed beyond capacity wouldn't allow them all on. The news reports were not shy about using words like "paralyzed" or "nightmare."

I had a terrifying thought when I was at Waterloo Station that spring. I knew exactly how to completely and irreparably shut London down. It would make the most incredible movie ever made. But I'll never, ever say what it is in print. I'm wracked with guilt all the damn time anyway. Knowing my luck, some fanatics with the IRA or Hamas would pull the stunt and I'd never be able to sleep again. Ask me nicely one day and I'll tell you. But never in print…

I don't watch reality or game shows on the networks. Those, newsmagazines and feature films should never be on network television, because they deprive television writers of work. So I'm certainly curious about Stacey Stillman's lawsuit that the first series of Survivor was rigged so that she would be voted off in place of one of the older contestants. I don't think her allegations will have much effect on the ratings - I mean, do the show's 35-odd million viewers really give a poop whether it's rigged - but, if they're proven true, it could mean very bad federal fines against CBS and the show's producers, which could end up killing future reality things. That could mean more places on the schedules for original series. That's incentive for me to say "Go, Stacey!"

Clinton's been out of office for 17 days, not that you'd know from listening to AM radio. I'm about ready to give up on Neil Boortz's notes - I usually read him and Rack Jite daily for good balance - since he seems incapable of shutting up about Clinton. Ooooh, they stole gifts meant for the White House, not themselves, ooooh, Clinton's office costs soooo much. Geez! Part of me thinks that Cybermoron Dubya could initiate public executions of jaywalkers and Boortz's listeners may never even know about it, since the conservative masses are too busy looking for the smoking gun in Hillary's hand whut done did Vince Foster in.

In short, politics be damned. Talk radio has proven itself a powerful force for truth in the US. We need powerful broadcasters who are not afraid of reporting facts and loudly calling when someone is wrong. In this, Boortz and co. have proven themselves very worthwhile. But, man, if they could cut the staunch conservatism and concern themselves with simply bringing to light public wrongs, they could do so much more.

I dunno if Boortz is up to it. The Senate was grilling Ashcroft, a racist thug with a penchant for inappropriate jokes whose dispassionate brand of hateful fundamentalism scares the hell out of me, and all Boortz wanted Ashcroft to do is reopen the Chappaquidick investigation. Oh, heaviest of sighs, come on! If the Republican Party haven't been able to get rid of Kennedy in the last twenty years, they ain't doing it now. He got away with murder. And like O.J. Simpson, there's not a damn thing we can do about it, so leave Ted Kennedy to God. Ah well, at least Boortz isn't afraid of John McCain or Jesse Jackson… and at least Camille Paglia is back from vacation. Thank God. I need my regular dose of Camille to keep me sane.

Now playing: The Wallace Roney Quintet

February 6, 2001

Now that was a busy weekend! Anna doesn't want to go anywhere for many days. She's had enough miles forced upon her.

Randy stopped by on Friday, flush with excitement for finishing the new short film from Nomad - entitled Akfak -- and submitting it to a local film fest with only an hour to spare. We went to Chic-Fil-A, where Ivy impressed and disgusted us with a shocking display of projectile orange vomit. Deb pulled another "funny" on me in front of company by handing me the AJC Food section. "I saved this for you," said she. "Read the caption there." So I took the paper and read "A respectable Reuben…" aloud. "Nope, ya never had one of those," she interrupted. Ho, ho, it is to laugh.

On Saturday, we all went to Athens for the day. This was forced upon us because we owed money to a pawn shop. Let me break for a moment and implore you, sternly, to never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never pawn your car title unless you absolutely have to. Deb and I have found ourselves financially strapped for what we saw as a short period and did this very, very, very stupid thing twice before December. I liken it to selling my soul. Anyway, we were massively short of moving funds in December, so I borrowed $400. As of this weekend, I didn't have it back (though I knew I would in thirty days), so I thought I'd have to pay $100 for a month extension.

Fortunately, we stopped at H&R Block first. There, we learned I would be getting back quite a fair amount in federal tax and $200 in state, and thanks to a Refund Anticipation Loan, we would get back a chunk of it on Monday. That would be more than enough to pay off the pawn shop and get my soul back; it would just require another trip to Athens in 48 hours. I was cool with that; it'd save me $100 and I'd have my title back that much quicker. So, hooray!

Deb and I celebrated with lunch at the Mean Bean in Georgetown Shopping Center, which now, more than ever, is Earth's finest restaurant because they finally -- after eleven years -- made me customer of the week! Wa-hoo! Preserved in Polaroid for everyone to see, so everybody go to Mean Bean and see my ugly face this week.

We picked up Dave Prosser for further celebratory comic buying and a fruitless quest for cheap bootleg CDs and a fruitless quest for Melanie, who couldn't be found. Eh bien; we consoled ourselves back in the Big Peach with a trip to Tower.

Sunday was comparatively lazy. I had to do the art editing thayng with Tory's and Brooke's latest sets of GMS Legion pages, though in truth, very little other than whiting out some rough edges was needed. Most aesthetically difficult was the reversal of a pair of word balloons in an "everyone talking at once" scene. On the other hand, making 19 pages "print ready" in just over an hour must be some kind of record, indicating just how sharp my talented buddies were in putting their awesome work together.

Dave came by in the early afternoon; the first time we'd seen him since he and Melanie split. We sauntered up to Cumming to the "Antique Super Mall." Dave found a stack of mostly uninteresting underground comix, but was taken by one that featured some very unlicensed depictions of D*sn*y characters. I found a few cute things, but nothing that truly stunned me, until the surprise appearance of a Mayor McCheese drinking glass. Now that's a Holy Grail. I've never had luck finding any visual reference to the good mayor. Y'see, since Sid & Marty Krofft successfully sued McDonald's for ripping off H. R. Pufnstuf and calling it McDonaldland, all the characters who could conceivably have a basis in Puf, and the land itself, have slowly been phased out. Mayor McCheese was probably first to go, since he looks exactly like Mayor Pufnstuf, only purple rather than yellow and with a big hamburger head instead of a big dragon head. So this was a fabulous find, and I was pleased that, without visual reference, I drew his cameo in GMS Legion pretty darn close to the real thing!

So Monday came, and with it, the realization that we'd have to do a shade more driving than planned. After dropping the kids at day care, we went to Smyrna, first to make a correction on our car insurance, and then to withdraw the money - more than the ATMs will give ya, y'know - to pay off the car. Then it was straight to Athens to pick up my IRS check (yay!) and to get back my title (yay!) Unfortunately, Anna's stereo died on us, and the clock too. We stopped by the Mazda dealer out by Bogart who said that it was probably an electrical systems short that our own dealer should be able to handle with no problem (Anna, after all, has been with us less than a month). We then raced back to Alpharetta, got the kids, and got back to the bank in Smyrna with more than enough time to deposit the IRS check. Soon as I get time, I'm definitely opening a new, closer account!

Since we were right next door to Vinings, and since we actually like, had spending money, we picked up Scott and spent the day looking around and I bought some new music for the first time in ages. First we stopped in CD Merchants, where I picked up some stuff from Madonna, Wallace Roney and Suede. Then we went to Lenox, where the kids marveled at FAO Schwarz and where Ivy refused to let go of a propeller-baseball cap, screaming "MINE" as two-year olds are wont to do. We also had to drag her and Julian out of Marvin the Martian's rocket at the Warner Brothers store kicking and screaming. Warners has not started any massive clearances since, in the wake of the AOL-merger, they announced the stores will be shutting down, but when they do, I think a whole pile of superhero beanies are mine!

On to HMV, one of Earth's most overpriced record stores. They had oodles of imports, however, and so I picked up some more Amanda Ghost, Paul McCartney and Kylie Minogue. (US readers are probably unaware that Kylie, doomed here by her flotsam late '80s Stock-Aitken-Waterman bubblepop cover of "The Loco-Motion," has charted an impressive run of hits in Britain, all with a much more credible edge. I was shocked, too.) Then we skedoodled over to CD Warehouse, where I picked up that anthology of everything that Bowie released on Deram, along with a live Patricia Kaas double and Suzanne Vega, and finally wound down at the Disc-Go-Round at Cumberland, where I nabbed more Julian Cope, Miles Davis and Elf Power.

The whole time, Julian was in his best "be my friend" mood, wanting more to do with Scott than anybody. He usually does this when we're out with friends. He doesn't want to hold Mommy or Daddy's hand in the parking lot, he wants to hold hands with whomever we are shopping. Poor kid; he still has trouble comprehending that people have their own lives. At least twice a week, he'll wander in confused and ask "Where's Neal?" or "Where did Matt go?" I think that he also thinks that all of our friends live with their parents, perhaps since none of them have kids. He associates Deb and I, and the parents of his daycare friends, as "mommies and daddies" and since our friends are not mommies and daddies, they must therefore live with their own mommies and daddies somehow. This was exacerbated when, on Sunday, Dave left our place to go have dinner with his folks in Smyrna.

For dinner, we stopped at Cheeburger Cheeburger, which is sorta between Alpharetta and Duluth on 120, and which several of my local students have highly recommended. Boy, it's good! This is apparently the only Atlanta-area store from this Florida-chain. They go for the "50s diner" feel, but specialize in pricy, mammoth, cooked-to-order burgers topped with an olive on a toothpick, big fries and tasty onion rings. Mmmmmmmmmm. They offer a $10 one-pound burger and put your Polaroid on the wall if you can finish it. Not me. I could barely wrap up a 1/3 pounder, I was so exhausted.

Unfortunately, sleep has been in short supply the last two nights. Ivy has woken up with simultaneous night terrors/security issues. The result is immediate and very, very loud screams of "NOOOOOOOOO! MIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!!" This tries my feeble-parenting-skilled patience like you wouldn't believe. There is nothing wrong with her, physically, that we can tell. It's not teething pain; in fact it isn't any pain at all as far as we see. She's just come out of a nightmare, fully awake, decided everything in the world is about to be stripped from her, and is gripping sheets, pillows, pyjamas and sippy cups in a vice-like grip while screaming "no" and "mine" louder than you can imagine. Deb or I can settle this for about 90 minutes before she goes off again.

First, we have to stop the screaming. Unfortunately, no amount of sweetness and sugar helps at all and so consequently this requires spanks and firm "no"s. "You do not scream." Then Ivy starts curling her lip and stating "mine" very matter-of-fact, stubborn little Lucy that she is. Last night, I spent twenty minutes with her, making sure everything was how she needed it. She held her sippy cup in a grip of death but didn't want her pillow, so I rolled up a towel and put her head on that. "Is that good?" "Yeah. Mine. (bawl)" "No. Do not cry. What's wrong?" "Daddy?" "Yes?" "Mine." "I know. Are you happy?" "Yeah." "Can I lay down on the floor?" "Yeah." "Okay, Ivy." "NO! MINE! (bawl)"

All children are different, and Julian spoiled us. I guess since he went through so much in his first couple of years, he just ended up more laid-back. Ivy is Little Miss Extreme. Consequently, she demands more of us than Julian, but it isn't fair to deny him anything.

On the other hand, Julian started composing his own songs. The other day, he picked up his toy guitar and started singing "I miss my mommy… she went to the store and I was so sad…" Poor kid's got the blues!

Now playing: Margaret Becker: Songs of Faith

February 2, 2001

Holy crap. The national media's keeping it quiet, but it looks like Gore did win Florida. The Palm Beach Post reported on Jan. 27 that in Palm Beach County, 4513 dimpled ballots, which, the argument goes, proves voter intent, were disqualified over Democrat objections.

Of these 4513 ballots, 195 were for small party candidates. 4318 of them were split between Gore and Bush. An even 2500 of these were for Gore and 1818 were for Bush. If these numbers were added to the state total, then Gore's overall gain is 682 votes. Cybermoron Dubya only "won" by 537 statewide.

So there. Perhaps if those well-meaning voters had actually punched through the GODDAMN BALLOT, then Gore would have carried Florida by 145 votes.

Meanwhile, the latest results from the world of "people coming to my pages looking for n*** celebrities" are in. Remember, these are real things people entered into search engines that brought 'em here!
Maow+N*** (Maow was Neko Case's old band)
sheryl+crow+n*** (only once this week!)
a+close+up+of+geri+halliwell%27s+breasts (LOL!!!)

Anyone have any idea how I can insert some kinda meta-tag to deflect these guys?

Anyway, some other yokel came to the Legion page researching "kenneth+stone+hospital." Such a place doesn't seem to exist. The name is a corruption of Kennestone Hospital in Marietta. Amusingly though, retracing that searcher's steps results in only one other match for Kenneth Stone Hospital, and that is an obituary of a native American named Aaron Two Elk, who died in Marietta in 1999 and the writer got the name of the hospital wrong... and who, I say again, who the fuck entered "grant ivy me pizza" into Yahoo??

Oh yeah, two more visits to the Funny Pictures looking for Jessica. Who knew she was in such net demand?

In other weird web news, I did a web search for the various characters of The GMS Legion, to ensure they were all showing up in the right search engines. I (ahem) learned that several characters have, in fact, survived to the present day. Here are some very surprising results. (Pardon my laziness in not writing proper links, but if you really want to see these, just copy and paste…)

Speedy is now in charge of an Italian motorcycle club.

Nova Girl is a regular correspondant to the radio series Car Talk. (link down)

Panthera is "a Reclaiming Initiated Priestess, a Licensed Minister in the State of California, a member of the Assembly of Solitaries in Covenant of the Goddess, a Berkeley Psychic Institute trained clairvoyant and spiritual healer, adoption activist and much more! She is a San Francisco native who lived on the island of Alameda for 13 years but as of October she now resides in Vacaville!"

In similar spiritual news, Mary Thunder is a respected native American spiritualist. While formerly a mayoral assistant in Indianapolis… "(i)n 1989, she followed the Vision of Spirit, the Advice of her Elders, who interpreted the Vision, & the Sacred Pipe that she carried, to land which was to be the foundation & "grounding" of her work. The Thunder Horse Ranch, was birthed into life when all of her Elders made journeys to Spiritually Bless the Land, for her work & for the ceremonies. Thunder & her husband, Jeffrey "White Horse" Hubbell, along with the foundation that was formed, Blue Star, Inc. & many wonderful friends, students, supporters, & family, founded the Sacred Land & a Spiritual University located in West Point, Texas USA."In 1999, Mary crossed paths with the crystal skull again, only now it's named Max. (I'm not kidding. There's a photo.)

California Girl runs an international dating service.

McMoney High's Captain Fantastic named himself after an Elton John album. Today, he fronts an Elton John tribute band.

A software company named itself in honor of fallen GMS Legion founder Sunstorm.

Gas Boy is now a line of printer products.

Defense Force leader Ocean Boy is… well… in Japan.

Inferno Kid is a wrestler.

Hollywood Queen is now a breeding cow.

Now playing: Pet Shop Boys: Disco 2

February 1, 2001

If there are any indie record stores in Alpharetta, I haven't found them yet. Heck, the only place with used CDs seems to be Media Play, and their selection tends to suck, since the staff (high school kids, mainly) will only buy discs from artists with whom they're familiar. My students can't point me to any secret hidden place, since they all think Dave Matthews is cutting edge and they don't know what bootlegs are. I'd prefer to buy my CDs from either independent stores or from Tower, but, as I did not feel like a twenty mile drive south, I stopped by Circuit City last night to buy the remastered, 30th anniversary reissue of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass.

There was a time, roughly from 1971 to 1975, when this album was considered an indisputable classic, but the rise of punk, coupled with George's own self-destructive course of incredibly crap albums, consigned it to the history bin. That became the standard, in those heady DIY days: triple albums like this, and the compleat Chicago catalog, were seen as pompous, overblown statements. So in retrospect, maybe the Clash were doomed when they recorded Sandanista!. Every so often, however, someone stumbles upon it (likely by accident) and is all the better for the discovery. When I was 16, maaaan, I was like, totally convinced, maaaan, that this was like the greatest album ever made in the yooniverse, maaaan. Nowadays I know better; it's not even the greatest album of 1970, but it's still really good.

This reissue, which is remastered with the inclusion of five bonus tracks, lists for $10 less than the previous release, sounds better and includes some good liner notes. On the down side, George has tampered with the packaging, so the old black-and-white cover is now presented in gaudy colors about as subtle as office highlighters. Worse, the cover is reproduced in increasingly altered form on the actual CD sleeves and the booklet, making some hippie statement about concreting over the Earth. Worse, like the reissued Band on the Run, it's in a thick box which can't be filed in any CD tower. Why Capitol just can't use jewel boxes for these "special" issues, I don't understand.

George's recent interviews, promoting the reissue, help to show what an out-of-touch old fogey he's become. Now admittedly, he was always happy to avoid the current music scene unless he could be assured of a little help from the likes of other relics like Dylan, Clapton, Lynne or (shudder) Leon Russell, but by insisting that he never even considers what's on the radio anymore, he's just proving himself unwilling to let his music grow and mature. A few years back, he made some catty remark about Oasis. The Gallagher brothers, whose music is far more intricate, passionate, powerful, moving and downright listenable than anything George has consistently done since 1973, missed a prime opportunity by not simply sneering "Sorry we hurt your field, mister."

He's admitted that he has quite a lot of recent unreleased material in the can. It might well be good stuff; 1987's Cloud Nine was often charming and overall quite palatable, and the first Traveling Wilburys album from 1988 had some great stuff, even if the second didn't. Unfortunately, George is more interested in "revitalizing" his back catalog and reissuing his solo work.

For those of you unfamiliar with George's solo work, let me tell you why this is a bad idea: most of it is utterly unlistenable shit.

After the heady critical and commercial praise for All Things Must Pass, all of it deserved, George stepped away from rock's center stage for a while, doing guest work with everyone from James Taylor to Ringo, and doing charity work for Bangladesh. His next album, Living in the Material World, came out amid all the glam and pomp of Ziggy Stardust's London in 1973 and was his final British hit for a real long time. World is produced and played extremely well, but an album's worth of half-gospel odes to Sri Krishna were not what the pop doctor ordered. These were the worst sort of religious lyrics: the preachy, sanctimonious demands that nobody wanted to hear. George couldn't have shot himself in the critical or commerical foot faster if he'd changed his name to Yusef Islam like Cat Stevens would later do.

Very little of what followed is worth the $3 apiece for used vinyl I paid for them in the late 80s. 1974's humorless Dark Horse lacks even a single interesting tune, and George, who lost his voice while recording, lacked the sense to come back to the material when he could sing in anything other than a pained croak. The next year's Extra Texture is musically dated, sounding like something recorded without concern hundreds of years ago and lacking even a single original idea. 1976's Thirty-Three and 1/3 contains a pretty good single called "This Song" which reflected amusingly on his being sued for stealing the melody of "My Sweet Lord" from "He's So Fine," but the inertia of the music promises it is only of interest to people who think Carly Simon and the Eagles were really rocking, and of course idiot teenage Beatlefans who haven't tasted real ale or heard the Sex Pistols or the Jam yet.

Speaking of which, George hid under a rock during the punk explosion, emerging in 1979 with the easy listening borefest George Harrison. He then had an album rejected by Warner Brothers for being so out of touch; this was reworked into 1981's maudlin Somewhere in England, which at least contained the decent single "Teardrops." A year later he had become so disenchanted with the music business that he refused to do even a lick of promotion for the execrable Gone Troppo, an album with more steel kettle drums than ideas, and the turkey missed the top 100 in both the US and England.

After five years, he resurfaced with some tunes which, as I said above, were markedly better, often charming and well thought-out. However, I must ask why he thinks his back catalog needs reairing. He should take a hint from Ringo. Ringo tours on the oldies circuit, he lives by the mantra "with a little help from my friends," he stops by VH-1 for a show every other year, and every so often he puts out a new album that nobody under the age of 50 touches. Ringo's 1970s albums, which, apart from 1973's Ringo, rank among the worst pieces of out-of-step garbage ever released on a major label, are out of print for the simple reason that nobody with a lick of sense bought them then, much less now.

I dunno… maybe George's new material is even worse. Or maybe he seriously thinks that a new wave of Beatlemania might make people realize Extra Texture is an undiscovered classic. George could fill that one and Dark Horse with a dozen bonus tracks and they'd still suck. The only reason I'd touch the awful things again would be the absolute guarantee of a Wonka golden ticket in my copy. Damn if I'm marching into the 21st Century all psyched up for the rereleases of an old hippie who was out of touch in the 1970s.

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Pages maintained by Grant Goggans, update Jan. 2001.