Dear Diary...

March 30, 2001

Here are a few words from Competetive Enterprise Institute analyst Paul Georgia, as excerpted from his column in that bastion of the intellectually challenged, The National Review:

"Global warming is not an urgent matter. The current energy crisis is, however. President Bush would do well to refrain from further negotiations that would only harm this country's economic future and that of the rest of the world."

In the first place, global warming is a fucking urgent matter because we've got until about 2010 to do something about it, otherwise Paul Georgia's grandkids swim to school in 125-degree heat and learn to breathe nitrogen.

In the second place, there wouldn't be an energy crisis if more people used public transportation, turned their TVs off when they weren't using them, and left the thermostat alone. That's how you curb the energy crisis, by cutting consumption drastically. It's not easy, I know, and Deb helps me learn by getting on to me every time every time I leave the room with the stereo on.

In the last place, if our (America's) economic future is based on the mass consumption of Earth's resources and the subsequent destruction of the planet, then we deserve the planetary extinction we're causing.

If there's one thing worse than having a president as goddamn stupid as Dubya, it's having a coterie of dumbfucks writing columns defending the destruction of society. Economic future be damned, Paul Georgia. If I could time travel, I'd go fetch your descendants and let you explain yourself to them.

Of course, if I was Matter Lad, I could fix the energy crisis. Chiefly by turning a few morons into whatever chemical we needed.

Now playing: David Bowie: Station to Station

Part two

You ever have one of those days where, having worked yourself into such a fury about how the Republicans are destroying the future and the planet that you can barely work, you just take two minutes to listen to the storming, stomping end of the live version of "Stay" that's a bonus track on Station to Station, then while you're changing CDs, the phone rings and you just grab it and it's your father who hasn't got the point that you never want to hear from him again, prattling on about talking to his grandkids and you ask him why your son has developed a desire to have "a new gun like granddaddy," which inevitably he showed off when you were very weak two weeks ago and pulled into their house when you knew you shouldn't but because you had to phone your therapist, you felt you had no choice and ever since then, they've been thinking that "things are getting better" and they keep fucking phoning and he tells you that "oh, it's just a little gun, Julian can have it if he wants it" and you raise your voice really loud and tell him to leave you the fuck alone and he goes on all innocent like he doesn't know what's wrong and you slam the phone down and the next CD is Pulp's Common People and, as if you weren't furious enough, the first song is "Mis-shapes" ("They think they've got us beat, but revenge is gonna be so sweet…we won't use guns, we won't use bombs, we'll use the thing we've got more of, that's our minds…") and you get even angrier and the next song is "Pencil Skirt" ("Oh, I know you're engaged to him…but I'll show you how you're doing it wrong…") and then you sort of half-cry and half-laugh about the sick, sick, sick irony of hearing that song this week and then "Common People" starts and then you just realize that this is your life and it's not getting any better and the world can just go fuck itself?

I hate those days.

March 29, 2001

An interesting story from a libertarian standpoint involves a local "church" called The House of Prayer. It was apparently earlier this year when the state siezed 41 children of "church" members and took them into custody after evidence of abuse and neglect.

Now, I say "church" in quotes because this particular band of believers would be more properly classified a cult. You see, a judge gave the House of Prayer and its attorneys three simple conditions for the children to be returned:

1. The children must attend some form of recognized school or receive state-approved home schooling.
2. While the court recognized the parents' right to discipline their own children through corporeal punishment, the church members must agree to discipline only their own flesh-and-blood in this manner, and not spank the others' children.
3. The church members must agree that they would not force their children into arranged marriages at age 14.

The cult refused all three conditions, claiming they only took directives from God and the court had no right to intercede.

If they didn't have an occasional tendency to start brainwashing and murdering their members, I'd be all for cults. I think in a lot of cases, they could help identify and weed out the weak-willed and the stupid. See, I can look at a picture of John Travolta any day of the week and say "That man is an absolute moron because he believes that Christ was the final incarnation of the evil emperor Xenu of planet Helatrobus and that Christ's birth father was a fella named Steven Fishman." (Yes, this is the central tenet of Scientology; there are links at the end of this article to read more about this Satanic cult.)

Unfortunately, cult members have a tendency to have children, and people should have no right to endanger children in any fashion. That means no kids in Jonestown, no kids in Waco, and no kids in the House of Prayer. When your sprog turns 18, if they wanna join you in the compound, then that would be tragic, but I couldn't deny them that right. However, children who lack the physical, mental, financial and emotional means and maturity to support themselves should never be placed in unsafe conditions.

I feel so sorry for these 41 kids. State care isn't a good place for kids. They'll be eligible for adoption in 2002. They'll have a rougher road than I ever had, and that's not right. However, society and the state were right to step in when they did, because the road of brainwashing and cult life is far, far worse.

Readers interested in learning more about what Scientology really is are urged to visit these sites:

Now playing: The Jody Grind: One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

March 28, 2001

I think I've hit the point of total mental exhaustion. I am fucking beat.

Things started yesterday morning around 3.40, when everynightmare took on a violent and terrible turn it had never taken before. I was up and there was no chance of getting back to sleep, so I puttered around and left for work around 5.30.

As you may have read, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia, which is the parent company of Greater Georgia Life, merged with WellPoint of California. There was a middle management corporate bloodbath, but mercifully I'm deep enough in the trenches to miss it. We had a human resources meeting in Buckhead yesterday morning. Happily, it transpires that, atop the salary increase I am due in May and the potential salary increase that could result from the new positioning with Wellpoint's system, I will definitely receive a further 3-5% increase in June, as the GGL bonus plan is folded into our salaries and replaced with a different WellPoint plan. On the other hand, there will be a three-plus week lag time between paychecks in June as we get on the new system. Yuck!

Work went on as usual, and I dragged my tired self home for a 20-minute nap before it was time to rush out for my final session with one of my favorite students. I agreed to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter on my own nickel and we spent 45 minutes discussing it before the actual SAT review, which is what I was being paid for. This is how I can justify calling myself Earth's Greatest Tutor. Especially when I learned earlier that day that the office hasn't received a blessed thing I've sent them in a month. Including payroll. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The SAT review, as I do it, is actually taking an SAT with the student, sight unseen. They tend to be stressful and exhausting, particularly because this is where I put the "mean" hat on when the student makes errors that I know they shouldn't.

So I was physically and mentally drained before I drove home to find out about all the really bad news from Deb and daycare which got dumped on me.

The kids have attended Childtime here in Alpharetta on Abbotts Bridge Rd, and Deb started working there last week. She has not liked what she has seen. Now, Julian had spoken once of a teacher, a Mr. N--, before that man left on a lengthy vacation. Julian didn't like him. But Mr. N---- came back, and Julian has begun freaking out in absolute screaming terror and hitting Deb rather than go into his classroom. (In a case of "why the fuck now" timing, Deb tells me this while I'm eating my 10.30 pm dinner of Froot Loops.)

So we woke Julian and had a little conversation about day care and school with him; what he likes and what he doesn't. It took a little time, but not much prodding, for Julian to say he doesn't like Mr. N-----. "He yells at me," Julian said. "He said 'Are you big or are you a baby'." And he had a couple of other weird examples.

Deb has been talking to the other teachers and the center director at Childtime, all but one of whom (Julian's afternoon teacher) dismissed this… they've said Mr. N----- is simply gruff; "that's just his way." But Juju's afternoon teacher has said that she thinks Mr. N---- is way out of line and that there have been other complaints. The other teachers call the afternoon teacher a troublemaker with a big mouth. As you might expect, I did not get a very good night's sleep. Again.

Everynightmare came back with yet another new twist. I was up for about half an hour from 1.30.

Today, Deb watched very carefully from the toddlers' outside play area as half of Julian's class was allowed on the playground with some of the older kids, under Mr. N----'s supervision. One of the older kids socked Julian and knocked him over and Julian started to cry. Mr. N---- reprimanded Julian, telling him to "grow up." Julian slowly walked to the fenced corner of the playground and quietly cried to himself.

Somehow or another, Deb refrained from pulling this motherfucker's spinal column out his sphincter. Instead, she took an early lunch and called me. (And I pulled the motherfucker's… no, no, but I'd like to…) We spoke about our options and agreed that, well, we'll just have to come up with our bill money somewhere else. The center won't do a damn thing about Mr. N----, so we have to pull the kids out. Deb picked them up, and some applications for area retail jobs for nights and weekends. Does anyone wanna babysit Friday afternoon so Deb can talk to people???

So I'm working here in absolute financial panic; worse than last week because at least then we had child care and Deb could spend all day looking for work. Now, Deb's gotta move around my schedule and the floating holiday I'm taking Monday. I'm scared about bills and I want to hug my kid and I want to beat the absolute tar out of this ass Mr. N----. I'm a wreck.

1.00 came and so I checked my Hotmail. Look, anonymous stalker guy's back. Anonymous stalker guy has a small album of photos of you-know-who and he likes to send them to me, although I haven't gotten one since early February. This time, anonymous stalker guy wrote from The subject was "I hope this doesn't depress you too much grant". The letter had no photo; it simply read "vickis getting married could have been YOU"

Hey, babe, if it's true, best wishes…

Now playing: John Coltrane: A Love Supreme

March 26, 2001

I knew this CD player-at-work thing was a bad idea. After months of quietly listening to music on headphones while "working," I got caught singing. To "The Ghost in You" by the Psychedelic Furs. "In-SIDE you, the TIME moves and SHE don't FADE…" Sigh. Bullets wouldn't cure my humiliation…

Following up another entry, kinda, Boortz reported today on a elementary school student in West Monroe, LA, who was suspended for drawing a picture of some relative, a veteran, holding a knife and with a gun nearby. A picture. Pictures of guns - drawings of guns by small children - are now verboten.

OK, I've admitted that 6th graders probably shouldn't draw stories about blowing up "evil teachers." But now combat stories are out, and, by implication, so are space adventures with lasers. I guess kids drawing Batman stories - and kids do - will have to find some other weapon for henchmen and thugs to carry. Rubber chickens, perhaps.

The library's definitely next. The Griffin "media center" had plenty of those CB Colby books with lots of great combat photos and black and white pictures of various submachine guns we could use for visual reference. I guess they'll be pulled from shelves, assuming they haven't already. From that, it's not a long leap to any fictional reference to guns being used…

Damn good thing I went to school when I did. I'd have been expelled by now. Think about it. And I hurt nobody and am reasonably well-adjusted. Keep giving me arguments to home school my kids, please. I don't want them being taught in a system run by utter fucking morons.

Now playing: Suede: Head Music

March 23, 2001

It seems almost certain that a previously missing Avengers episode, "Girl on the Trapeze," has been found. The UCLA film and television archive has a 16mm print! Now let's just hope they'll work with the copyright holders and see about returning a copy so that we can all share it.

There's very little of major interest going on… last night's Gilmore Girls (which was renewed for a second season) was extremely funny. Ivy went to sleep without bawling about it for the first time (other than those times when she's just passed out). I've been doing album reviews and deciding what to do about the Bryan Ferry page.

Deb can't get our printer to work. Heck and dangnation!

Now playing: Psychedelic Furs: World Outside

March 22, 2001

I don't believe I know anyone who voted for Ralph Nader, but if you did, my heart's out to you. Cybermoron Dubya's latest brain-dead scheme to wipe out Clinton's last several environmental regulations are sick and twisted from any intelligent perspective. Well, obviously I'm not a multinational oil company or mining conglomerate, and from their points of view, this is the greatest thing to happen since the last time we had a Republican dimwit in office. Hoorah for the raping of mother Earth!

I think the best thing we can do for the world right now is lock the fraudupresident in a room with Julian Cope and only let one of them out.

I've got a roughly libertarian philosophy that says I should be able to do whatever I want as long as I harm nobody else and respect their personal space. This notion gets up the backs of Republicans. For example, many years ago, a family in our neighborhood decided to get a pair of goats. The family daughter was in my kid brother's class, and she explained the family drank goat's milk. Their property was on the corner of West Lane and the busy Paces Ferry Rd and set somewhat below the street level. The goats were fenced in on the Paces Ferry side, with a steep slope forming one "wall" of the fence. Neither the neighbor on the Paces Ferry side - where indeed there was also a thick crop of trees between the fenced-in goats and their property - nor the neighbor on the West Lane side were inconvenienced in any way by the goats on the corner lot. Additionally, the animals were practically invisible from the street.

Months and months later after the family got the goats, I pointed them out to my mom as we were running some errand. Mom was unaware of the goats, not just because we lived about three blocks away, but because none of the other interfering Gladys Kravitzes in the neighborhood gave a shit about them. But Mom went completely nuts. She was on the phone with some county extension agent or other within minutes and the goats were gone later that week because there are county and state ordinances about keeping livestock in a residential neighborhood.

There are some, like the brainless sycophants of the Cobb Republican Party, who would - and did - champion my mom for doing the right thing. Those evil goat-milkers were breaking the law and she brought a great social injustice to light, they'd say. But she didn't do any such thing. In the first place, there shouldn't even be ordinances about whether you can keep goats on the property you own. That's government interference into your personal rights. But accepting that they're on the books, my mother was not inconvenienced at all by the family with the goats. It made no impact whatsoever on her life, and even none for the immediate neighbors who did not mind the animals. The family was minding their own business and harming none, but some interfering Republican freak up the street damaged their way of life. I've never forgiven my mother for that, and I've never respected her since then either.

Now, I understand why someone might desire some ordinance, but remember that the credo here is do what you like as long as you harm nobody else. If the family had a herd of braying animals on their front yard, then that would interfere with their neighbors' lives. That would be wrong. Use common sense.

Apply this to the anti-environmentalist crowd lobbying Washington and cashing in debts with Young Georgie. Of all the government agencies, the most important, and possibly the only one worth retaining, is the Environmental Protection Agency. Of course, saying even that much is enough to get some of the slightly more hardline Libertarians I met at UGA shaking their heads, but I say this because the big mining corporations and polluters take only one side of the credo - it's my property and I'll do what I want - without considering the rights of anyone else. Left unchecked, miners, refiners, drillers, loggers, etc. would happily strip North America of all its natural resources within decades, blanketing the world in a carpet of chemicals and pollutants, and all in the short-term quest for as much money as possible as quickly as possible. The CEOs of Texaco and United Carbide and their ilk don't care that our grandkids will be wearing gas masks to school. There's not much might about it; it's a virtual certainty. I'll be pulling mine off my head in thirty years, a grizzled old man on my porch, telling my young whippersnapper grandtykes what a blue sky looked like.

I can't vote Green, however, since their policies go beyond "care for the environment" and into the realm of staunch anti-business, whatever the business. In California last year, the Greens got into a tizzy when the courts voted against an abhorrent policy of theirs which would have forced any business, when accused of environmental infractions, to shut down completely for as long as it took to complete an investigation. That's not just an unconstitutional suggestion ("innocent until proven guilty"?), but one which extremists like the Sierra Club would use to routinely shut down whoever they felt like for whatever length of time they desired, putting common joes out of work. There was a rider suggested by the courts that the party which made the allegation should pay a bond, so that if no wrongdoing was found, then the bond would be used to pay back wages for the employees who were inconvenienced. You can bet that didn't go down well.

Republicans don't care about the planet or the future. Greens don't care about people or about reality. And while a Green's probably far more compassionate than any Republican, and almost assuredly more intelligent, they seem to lack common sense.

Speaking of green stuff, a pair of hundred-year old oaks in front of Peabody Hall on UGA's north campus were felled by the winds and heavy rain in Athens this week. What a sad thing. Those were beautiful trees. I slept under one of them once.

Now playing: Jucifer: Calling All Cars on the Vegas Strip

March 20, 2001

Special fabulous announcement! Roxy Music have changed their North American tour dates and they'll now be playing Atlanta's Chastain Park on Thursday, July 26!!! Yay!

In the fastest turnaround in unemployment history, Deb got a job at our kids' daycare. She starts Wednesday, working in the infant room. She'll get to see much more of the kids this way. The pay is about 30% less than what she was earning, but she'll keep 50% more of her pay. I am gonna miss that corporate suite at Phillips Arena though.

If you'll excuse my utter flipping exhaustion, yesterday's mammoth attack of financial nerves hasn't left me with much to talk about, and I still have to figure out tonight's lesson plan.

Now playing: Prince: RAVE un2 the JOY fantastic

March 19, 2001

I've got one of those "uh-oh" feelings; that a tidal wave of depression's about to hit me like a train.

Deb quit her job today. They have telecommuting, but despite every conceivable reason why she should work from home (\$1000/month day care represents over 40% of her salary, commute is 35 miles, her work day is 12.5 hours factoring the commute, she does not see the kids much), the company said no, they had stupid reasons and they offended her. Of course, that last point is kinda simple to do.

I figure she has about four days to find a night retail job or we're in serious doo-doo.

I didn't even get to properly speed on my speed road, Hwy 211 between Winder and I-85 (at Chateau Elan). Since I usually stay around 85-90 on this road, I was infuriated by some slowpoke Sunday merrily jaunting along around 50. Ah, well. At least I found an old Hamburglar glass.

Happily, GMS Legion 13 has begun distribution, and early estimates look good. I hate hate hate doing promotion. I got some tentative information about the possibility of moving the 2000 AD series index to the forthcoming Official 2000 AD web page, which would be groovy. A guy I know who knows a guy I know of has indicated the possibility of passing along a small assortment of very interesting-sounding foreign import CDs "for promotional use only." Hmmm.

Now playing: Milla Jovovich: The Divine Comedy

March 16, 2001

"I kiss you... you're beautiful...

We've got FIVE YEARS...


Now playing at maximum volume: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

March 15, 2001

"Funny, isn't it, how beer can make a concept like zombie cheerleaders attacking the opposing team seem relatively plausible?" -- Joe Average

I lost touch with Aaron Holm's fantastic online strip Joe Average over the last several months. Aaron was stuck in an endless storyline called "Road Trip" (which reads a lot better in one sitting than over months), and occasionally missing updates. He took some time off, wrapped up "Road Trip," and everything since then has been excellent work. It's taken a very unusual turn, since characters like Joe seem doomed to the stereotype of misery, but Joe himself has gotten unexpectedly happy since meeting a new girlfriend and some of the resulting strips are sweet and optimistic. Joe's attitude is resulting in over-the-top, and hilarious, disbelief from his friends, and while the direction of the current storyline is a little unclear, it remains charming, funny and very well drawn.

I still contend that Joe Average is the best online comic I've ever seen and I heartily encourage all my readers to check it out.

My Pointy-Headed Boss put in her resignation. One hopes her points retract as she finds some other work elsewhere.

Now playing: Pam Howe: Human

March 14, 2001

"They" printed my letter, hee hee! Drop me a line if you saw it!

One of my students has a very liberal final project for junior English. Basically, he gets to read whatever he wants. These are the suggestions I'm giving him:

The Scarlet Letter
I, Claudius
To the Lighthouse
All the King's Men
The Long Goodbye
As I Lay Dying
Gaudy Night
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
The Killer Angels
Black Betty
Literary Murder
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Whaddaya mean, biased?! I can't bloody stand As I Lay Dying! I've actually never read Lonely Hunter, either, but since I agreed to read it to help out another student, I thought I might as well give this student the opportunity.

And yes, I'm perfectly aware that Woolf and Joyce are over the heads of high school juniors who need tutors. I listed pros and cons for every book on the list and the cons for the three novels from these authors are: "Very dense and probably above your reading level." Still, I'd like a good excuse to crack open Ulysses again.

And now, something serious.

According to Creative Loafing, on March 9, a high school student in Warner Robins (near Macon) was arrested for writing a song about blowing up a school.

I mentioned in an essay elsewhere on these pages that when I was in high school in the late 80s, my wacky chums and I, jolly japesters every man jack one of us, would regularly bring toy guns to school for secretive games of Assassination. (Well, I say secretive, but give Travis Vanzo a target and he stood dead center of the 300 Hall waving a dart gun around shouting "Ah'ma gonna kill me Lynn Bender! Whar is he?!") Assassination was a great game. You had a target, you were someone else's target, and when someone died, they passed the name of the target to their killer. Ah, such hijinks. I nailed the late Joe Godfrey from across the library with a full clip spray of little plastic discs, but was later tragically shot in the back at no-range-whatsoever by an assailant, whose name is lost to time, who came up behind me while I was brainlessly chattering in the hall.

There was another occasion when a fella named Jordan P---- opened up Blake's locker and inserted a prop arm, made from cloth and stuffed with newspaper, holding a realistically designed pistol (one made, however, of white construction paper). The arm was pressed against the inside of the locker door and tied to the hook at the top. When Blake opened his locker, the gun-wielding arm fell forward, pointed right between Blake's eyes and Blake screamed like a little girl. Every couple of months, I kick myself for not thinking of it myself.

Nowadays, students get expelled for life for holding a breaded chicken strip between their thumb and forefinger and pointing it at someone. I guess you were only allowed to have our kind of fun when there was a Soviet Union and you were playing at spies for the KGB.

I'm naturally biased, since I honed my nascent and infantile writing skills with crazy stories of military conquest, space battles, superheroes, and the villainous schemes of various principals who were hooking all the students onto narcotics and rebel students who… yes, that's right… blew up schools. Or parts of them, anyway. And students who murdered teachers.

I can't think about the earliest GMS Legion stories without massive regret. Apart from being stunningly unoriginal and bereft of the light comedy spark which makes the series work, I don't like the use of drugs around middle school kids - which I did retcon as being "addictive sniffing glue," whatever that's worth - and I sure as hell don't like the deaths of teachers. I also seriously regret the "boiler room explosion/base self-destruct" which ended episode five. But I rather think I had the First Amendment right to make those mistakes. You know, if some teacher had seen those notebook paper episodes when I was 13, then I'd have been sent to the counselor's office for some dispassionate therapy and forced to explain my actions to idiots and fools who were probably unable to see the parody and piss-poor attempts at humor under the disagreeable surface. If a 13-year old does it now, however, then they'll get arrested and they'll have to try to explain it to the police.

I checked my web stats for 00page again. Oh, for pity's sake! Who in the world is looking for n**e pictures of Margaret Becker??!! I mean, come on!! Of all the professional singers on Earth who are likely to take their clothes off for a camera, Miss Becker is probably at the bottom of the list, below Marie Osmond, even! Get a life! The usual gang of nimrods looking for Pl*yb*y models dropped in, as indeed they'll continue to do until the search engines re-archive the pages that previously had their mentions. Sheryl Crow's still much in demand - so much so that Pl*yb*y should offer her many millions to pose as they'll obviously make a packet off it - as are Cerys Matthews and Kate Bush. Stalkers continue to pop by looking for Jessica H. (only once this week), and for Dave M., Ron H., and a whacking six for Victoria R. I can imagine the latter being a bit concerned about that.

Now playing: Edwyn Collins: Gorgeous George

March 13, 2001

Happy thirtieth birthday, Neal!

GMS Legion 13 is now finished. I stayed up late inking the last 10 pages of "Nova Girl's Lonely Heart," lest it become the "Shada" of my book, and printing continues at a good pace. Today I'm sending out the press releases to the relevant fan sites, and I will update their site tonight. Unfortunately, I got a little stymied as the server at work just crashed, so now I'm a-sittin' around. That's not to mean I'm not working, but when the computer program is taking its time (as it does), I can either twiddle my thumbs, type or surf. Even though I'm not supposed to surf. That's stealing from the company.

Geez louise, I hate promoting my own book. Hate it hate it hate it. It's so tedious.

Now playing: David Bowie: Space Oddity

March 12, 2001

And even more proof, as though more were needed, that we've got a thief in the White House! If you haven't seen the evidence that supports the contention that Bush lost 1600-odd votes, and Gore over 8000, in Palm Beach County, then I assume you're hiding under a rock. For more commentary discussing even more stunning evidence, please see, as well as Greg Palast's shocking story in

Giving further credence that every member of their party is insane, the Republicans have not - to my knowledge - produced an argument more potent than "get over it." This is why I never won an argument with my father. I could produce reams of factual, unbiased evidence, statements from the most learned scholars and statisticians on top of any ethical or moral base that I could find, and my dad would say "And?"

What shocks me the most - and shock is not too strong a word - is that so many Americans are happy or settled with the "Gore's a sore loser and Democrats whine, get over it" argument. Sweet heaven have mercy! Why are we surprised that American education is in such a poor state when twelve years of school turns out so many people incapable of an unbiased look at factual evidence?

Oh, wait, I'd forgotten about the other Republican argument: We should put this behind us, for the "good of the country." Yeah, follow that argument a shade further and tell me why it's good for the country to not find the truth.

Sure, I was biased in the voting booth - the Libertarians got my vote - and on the road back from tutoring that Tuesday hearing the results announced. Ever since then, I've just wanted to hear the truth. On one occasion, the evidence was against what I wanted to hear (Miami-Dade, only one of the many counties with challenged results, showed a Gore gain of only 49, and Cybermoron Dubya called that evidence enough to put "this" behind us). On every other occasion, the proof has been overwhelmingly for Gore, and it's being ignored by a nation of conservative dumbfucks who are reading unbiased, independent statistical studies and denouncing them as liberal whining.

I keep saying that there surely must be a few intelligent Republicans out there somewhere, though I've yet to hear a reasoned argument from them. There again, considering how many mindless balloon-heads cast votes for someone as morally base and disgusting as Bob Barr, perhaps the intelligent Republicans are in other regions of the country, and do not concern themselves with pop culture pages that are primarily focussed on the southeast.

Speaking of pop culture in the southeast, GMS Legion Book 13 will be published Thursday, not that the damn thing's finished yet. Still, I'm soldiering on, with... ermmm... pages 8-10 of "Nova Girl's Lonely Heart" pt 2 left to finish inking and it'll be done. Maybe I'll have enough energy to start hyping it tomorrow.

Now playing: Bryan Ferry: The Bride Stripped Bare

March 9, 2001

I must have missed the part in the Bible which says God doesn't want us to experiment with genetics, re-engineer Tasmanian wolves or woolly mammoths, or clone humans.

Granted, I'm hardly Earth's most shining example of a believer. My relationship with God is fairly akin to a small child impatiently whining "Are we there yet?" while the Holy Father tells me to relax and enjoy the scenery. And He never, ever, ever pulls over for an ice cream, though He does at least drive through interesting towns.

However, one key facet of my faith is that God does have a great plan, not just for me as an individual, but for humanity as a species. We have massive potential which has allowed us technological advancements that one hundred years ago would have been unthinkable. Granted, we've squandered our gift of intellect and advanced in very stupid ways sometimes (ooo, look, another Starbucks), and every so often another tribe of bigotted imbeciles try their best to destroy every trace of culture and beauty in the world which isn't exactly like them, but I'd like to think for the most part that we are a learning and growing people, and that the Lord would never have given us the potential to explore the universes around us if He didn't want us to do just that.

In the news today: the Taliban have reportedly succeeded in destroying the sandstone buddhas. Imagine a sculpture taller than the Statue of Liberty, 1500 years old, being blasted to oblivion. Actually, imagine a horde of fundamentalist psychopaths siezing 90% of the USA by force and blasting the Statue of Liberty to oblivion. I haven't felt so powerless, small, empty and useless in my life.

Also in the news today: a joint US-Italian venture to clone a human. This has brought along the expected (mostly Catholic, Spanish and French) objections, including a harsh warning from Bishop Elio Sgreccia, head of the John Paul II Institute for Bioethics at Rome's Gemelli hospital. I just don't get it. See, I don't believe cloning is "playing God." Rather, I think that eradicating civilization's rich history is playing God, in a really violent, Great Flood and Plagues of Egypt sense. How is re-engineering the extinct Tasmanian wolf playing God when hunting the damn beast to extinction was all right?

We were given minds. We have the ability to create art, life and a culture. We pass our knowledge to subsequent generations and hopefully we can grow and improve. Maybe we don't, but we should try. There shouldn't even be an institute of bioethics when the full force of the Vatican should be weighed against the Taliban. (Maybe if those were 1500-year old statues of Christ, things would be different.)

"When will we get there, God? Why can't we stop people being so ignorant and stupid? Are you ever gonna answer another one of my prayers or am I just pissing in the wind? And I want an ice cream cone!"

Sometimes the only answer I hear is "Be patient." Most days, like today, I don't hear anything at all.

March 8, 2001

Some time back, I grumbled that MARTA should do something about congestion on the top end perimeter, specifically lay down a rail line from Cobb to at least Doraville. Darn if the Atlanta Regional Commission hasn't felt that way for ages. They commissioned a transportation study to look into the problem of top-end congestion and have come up with four proposed avenues for a Marietta-Lawrenceville corridor. Maps for the proposals and more can be found at: Fill out their survey, and also check out the plan for an Atlanta - Chattanooga line from their sidebar! I learned about these sites from the Perimeter Transportation Coalition, who gave a "lunch and learn" presentation today at work. If you work in the horribly crowded Dunwoody area like me, you really need to stop by and see how this group is working to improve conditions in the region!

Speaking of transportation, it may be worth noting that I did forward MARTA a copy of last month's journal entry about the psycho attitude cop. Three days later, customer service wrote back and asked for a phone number, as police services wished to talk to me. I gave them my work # but they have not called. Nor did they come through on their promise about future expansion goals, the big jerks. Oh well, maybe only a few hundred people read this a month, but if MARTA wants to give me the ammo, I'd be happy to take potshots.

I watched Politically Incorrect last night, hoping to see Neil Boortz and Bill Maher beat each other with baseball bats. What aired was cordial, civil and slow as hell. It didn't help that two of the guests had about a kitten's brain between them and dominated the conversation with inanities and stupidities. The rock musician was fairly bright, but it was obvious Boortz was the only one there capable of going toe-to-toe with Maher, and it just didn't happen. I should have slept.

Now playing: Bryan Ferry: Let's Stick Together

March 7, 2001

So I picked up the new Creative Loafing, with a cover story on adults who are still Duran Duran fans, and couldn't help but wonder if they profiled my first proper girlfriend in high school, a redhead named Brenda. They didn't, but astonishingly they did include, as one of their four profiled women, an old acquaintance named Angela Wright. I used to work with her at the Dial. Hello, Angela, and rest assured that the article did not make you all out to be too weird. Duran's playing five shows in Atlanta next week. Tickets start at \$53 -- yes, fifty-three -- apiece. Enjoy the concerts!

I've been reading about a remarkable nation, one which I'd never heard about before today. Smaller than Lichtenstein, smaller than the Vatican, Sealand is located on an offshore platform in the North Sea and has existed for over thirty years. There's a lot to read by following the links here and in a WorldNet column about its new privacy venture with the Haven Corporation. Have fun!

Also of note is The Kingdom of Talossa, which encompasses much of Milwaukee and which peacefully seceded from the United States in 1979. These guys seem to have a lot more fun than the rest of us, even if most of their activities seem to involve electing each other in their constitutional monarchy.

No, I don't have crap else to talk about, actually. I've been moving at breakneck speed for a week and I'm about to completely drop if I don't get a decent night's sleep, which would involve not lying awake worrying about Legion, about hype, about friends, about printers that won't install correctly, about CD burning programs that aren't extracting properly, etc.

Now playing: Japan: Quiet Life

March 6, 2001

I’m gonna revise my wish list. Forget the mind control, forget the teleportation, forget even having some Hollywood bozo offer me money for GMS Legion so that I may say “…goooo… fuuuuuuuuuuuck…. yooooooore…..seeeeeeeeeelph” very slowly. I want one month without drama, angst or anything from anybody. And with that, hopefully I won’t ever have to say another word.

Looked up my 00page site statistics again. Being stalked last week: Jessica (again, making at least seven searches), Dave M. (twice) and Matt C. There are also some dimbulbs who apparently think that the character of Rich Uncle Pennybags is named Mr. Monopoly. No. Mr. Monopoly is my costumed alter ego. Sheryl Crow and Neko Case still lead the charge for naughty pics, with Rene Dif (whoever that is; I don't care) and Dido placing. Someone also entered “MARTA AND Cobb AND racism.” That diary entry about who should be Playmate of the Year is also increasing traffic like you wouldn’t believe. Part of me wants some of these searchers to send me nasty e-mail about how I shouldn’t talk about Shannon Stewart or Gabrielle Reece unless I had n**ed piccies. I wonder if they’re reading my journal or just going “WAAAAAA! I wanted n**e pictures! All this is is some jerk talking!”

I was happy to pick up an old promo CD single of Bryan Ferry’s “Limbo” at a Decatur indie record store called Ella Guru. They’re on Lavista on the 285 side of Clairmont and deserve your business. Check em out!

Now playing: Poe: Hello (again)

March 5, 2001

For the sake of my occasional readers, who seem to surf in months later after punching some topic I discuss into a search engine (hello to you!), I'll cover a couple of upbeat subjects before I get some emotions off my chest.

Debi and I decided to skip the northern part of the MARTA ride and drive to Dunwoody, but were delayed getting to work today by a police chase that began right near the neighborhood where Randy grew up! Since the traffic on our stretch of 400 is wretched around 7 and doesn't clear until 400 gains its fourth lane at Holcomb Bridge, we planned an overland route: Old Milton to North Point Parkway to Mansell to Warsaw to Holcomb Bridge.

Things went swimmingly until a police cruiser came behind us on Mansell and I got one of those "he ain't just patrolling" feelings. He was joined by a friend. Ahead of us, about a block north of Warsaw, we saw lights. Deb saw a truck in the little strip-mall office-parks spin around. Suddenly the cruisers behind us put their lights on and tore around us. Another cruiser and first two, then a third motorcycle cop came whipping through the traffic from ahead of us. Every pedestrian and commuter prayed silently nobody would collide with them.

The brown-red truck skidded from one parking lot, crossed Warsaw, and sharply turned through the lot beside us, weaving around the two aisles and reminding me briefly of the very silly car chase in an episode of The New Avengers before, tires squealing, it hit Mansell and roared off eastwards, three cruisers and three bikes in pursuit. We quickly got onto Warsaw and the heck outta the way as soon as the light changed, fearing other cops would be on their way.

Yesterday was much, much calmer. I spent the morning inking, and I'm only three pages shy of finishing my replacement episodes. Matt came by in the afternoon and we went CD shopping and had a bite at Taco Stand. Now, for those unaware, Taco Stand is an Athens legend. You're not supposed to live there for any length of time without either working at Taco Stand or DialAmerica, or without playing music somewhere. Some homesick businessmen invested in the first Atlanta location, located on Roswell Rd in Buckhead. However, some nut had the rotten idea of providing full service on weekends. I'm sorry, but this is just so wrong. Never mind the tradition of giving your name, whether it's for here or to go, and mild, hot or extra hot, I tell ya, man, this is not full service food. It's wonderful, but it's cheap and no-frills and heated with microwaves and served with wax paper.

OK. If you don't like my emotional shit, go somewhere else and come back later. If you care, I was listening to Poe's Hello during this portion of the journal.

Marriage was a little tough for Deb and I the first time around since we didn't know many other couples in Athens. Everyone will tell you that that's among the best ways to strengthen a bond between a couple; to spend time with others. We knew a few paired-off folks in Atlanta, but we only came down once a month and had a million things to do.

Having kids made this a little worse, because we didn't know - and still don't - anyone else with kids. There are so many things that childless couples get to do that we don't, and so many things we want to share with people who understand first-hand how raising a family is really fucking hard.

Deb and I split up in 1999 for a number of reasons. I'm not a coward; I can't say "it's all her fault," even though (frankly) she was treating me, well, less than how I wished to be treated, and I was treating her dismissively. But one day I decided I'd had enough, decided that my own interests and happiness were paramount and ended the relationship.

And let's pay very close attention to that reason: I wasn't happy and, rather than working at the marriage and solving my problems and Deb's, I selfishly decided that Deb's happiness - and, mind you, the kids' - was no longer important to me. I wanted to be single, and spend hours in coffee shops without telling anyone where I was, and drink like a fish, and date that brunette in French class, all four of which were selfish and stupid and done without any consideration for Debi.

And every single solitary person who knew me through the marriage massively disapproved of this course of action. A few people were outwardly supportive, but planet Earth wanted Grant to stop being an ass and get back together with Deb.

And, all things being fair, I honestly don't think we knew anyone during those fourteen months who split up. It was almost like some great karmic show of support for Deb and I; that relationships do work, and not everything is doomed to pain and unpleasantness. That sometimes you should give up a little personal happiness in recognition of how happy you make someone else.

That selfishness - concern for your own ego and goals over the happiness of the person you're spending time with - is wrong. And nobody needs to feed some bull about how circumstances are always different, because the base is always the same, and if I was wrong to say "fuck my marriage, I'm sick of being hurt and I'd rather make a free play for Victoria than try to find happiness with the one I'm with," then a whole mess of people have been wrong of late.

I took Dave and Suzuko's splitting up really badly, since they were the only married couple we knew and we loved 'em both. Dave told me little about Suzuko's reasons, and they're none of my business, other than she selfishly had some other European plans in mind. I guess that half-steeled me for Dave (other Dave) and Melanie splitting up, this time because Dave fell for someone else. There again. Selfish. Self over the relationship. Just like me. But I was still wrecked to hear about it.

I'm not hiding anything. Deb and I still have no idea how to communicate with each other, and although we are trying very hard to not step on each other's feelings, we still fight like cats and dogs sometimes and it is not easy. I'll absent-mindedly weasel out of something like some really crappy sitcom dad, or she'll roll her eyes and go "uh" like a rebellious 15-year old, and our original point is totally lost as we debate how we're not respecting each other. Happy all the time? Hell, no. If I could just give someone my left arm in exchange for never having to go through this bullshit again, I'd do so gladly. I'd rather fight about anything - anything! - than how she and I talk to each other. It's easily half the reason we split up in the first place.

Randy and Brooke have been having problems, owing in no small part to the hundreds of miles separating them, and the thirty miles separating Brooke and her computer. (These problems are but dust blowing in the wind compared to the tragedy that Brooke's life shall become if I don't have six GMS Legion pages in my hand in one week.) And they make me so cross and surly. Again, selfishness rears its ugly head between people, as Randy cares about filmmaking and has an unquenchable thirst for making a thriller about Mexican men with guns and sombreros, and Brooke cares about… well, I'm not entirely sure, but apparently that mall job at Johnny Rocket's must pay pretty damn well. Why can't people just be happy and find great happiness with the simple fact that they make other people happy? Why couldn't I have been happy knowing that Deb loved me? More pressingly, why can't anyone else?

A final note on the subject of selfishness: can you imagine what would have happened if, in some parallel world, things moved in '99 in a slightly different order, and, during the time Deb and I were still together, Victoria had told me she had feelings for me? Two things would be very, very different in that world. In the first place, I'd probably not have done diddly with her, study groups or anything, since it would have been massively disrespectful to the person with whom I was in a relationship. And the more important thing that would be different in that world is that she'd be spending a few years in a wheelchair after Deb snapped her spinal column in half over her knee. And nobody, save perhaps the criminal justice system, would call her wrong to do so, because, hello! When somebody is in a relationship, you back the fuck away, all the way to Pittsburgh, if necessary.

So, Mark from Nashville, since nobody else seems willing to address the issue, it's a testament to moderation that you've still got your teeth, you dumb pillock. Back the fuck away.

See, Tory? Told you I'm not afraid to use names. Now playing: Jamiroquai's "Supersonic" single.

March 2, 2001

I’ve picked up the first two issues of Ultimate Marvel Magazine from the Publix newsstand. I’m not absolutely sure why, but I do support the idea of a great big magazine stacked full of comics on newsstands, and I imagine Julian may want to read them in a few years. He likes the idea of comics, and seeing his favorite characters, but he’s still working on his alphabet, so he buys comics that cost a quarter while the \$3.99 magazines will be mine for now.

Ultimate Marvel Magazine reprints several issues of the various comics in the new Marvel line, roughly three issues a month. Magazine #1 featured the double-sized Ultimate Spider-Man #1 and #2, while Magazine #2 (on sale now) reprints Ultimate X-Men #1 (also double-sized) and Spider-Man #3. You’re not wanting for quantity: it’s actually cheaper to get the comics in this format and the pages are bigger.

Now the “Ultimate” line is one of Marvel’s stranger innovations, and I understand one of their less popular among longtime Marvel zombies. Recognizing how impenetrable their soap opera continuity has become, these are “reboot” books, starting from scratch to catch new readers while the old titles continue uninterrupted. They also address a major problem that these long-running books have always hemmed and hawwed about: since the comics are supposed to be contemporary, it doesn’t make any sense for the characters not to age. Spider-Man must surely be in his fifties by now, but they just try to ignore that he was in high school in 1964 and tell stories as best they can. (Another reason to recommend Judge Dredd: every year that passes for us equals another year for him. He’s now in his early fifties and has been dealing with the problems of a body that’s gone through as many beatings as his.)

So Ultimate Spider-Man #1 shows us Peter Parker, a high school student in the year 2000, living with his aunt and uncle and getting bit by a spider. It has its faults, to be sure, but I never liked high school Peter being such a nerd in Ditko’s original series, fuming that he couldn’t dare stand up for himself for fear of revealing his super strength. Today’s Peter has found a backbone and “came out of his shell” to lead the basketball team to victory. On the other hand, the original series had an economy of storytelling that I quite miss. Over ninety pages of story into the new series and Uncle Ben is still alive. Admittedly, this approach has its advantages, and it allows the writers to sow the seeds of future plots. We’ve already met Norman Osborn and Dr. Octavius, though neither in criminal guise yet.

Ultimate X-Men, written by 2000 AD and Flash vet Mark Millar, is even better. In this edition, the team, assembled by Charles Xavier to save Earth from the really dangerous, Capitol-bombing terrorist Magneto, consists of Cyclops, Storm, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey, radically redesigned, thank God), Beast and Colossus (who was a freakin’ arms dealer prior to Jean finding him!!!). Magneto’s team, operating from a base in Antarctica, is Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad and Wolverine. Yeah, no bets who’ll be switching sides in future installments, but it’s still nice to see the effort made.

So in episode one, we see a US government that has taken drastic action already. Mutants aren’t being registered in this continuity, they’re being murdered by Sentinels following Magneto’s terrorism. The X-Men rescue Bobby Drake, who’ll become Iceman, in their first outing. Its only real fault was not redesigning the Sentinels. They always looked incredibly stupid - they needed to be black and silver, with Go Nagai horns and spikes - and I’ve never been able to believe a US government agency designing great big purple bipeds who say things like “HALT! MUTANTS!” How much more freakish would it have been to issue all police forces with DNA-scanners, called, of course, Sentinel, and force the X-Men to fight human police who have orders to kill them with bullets?

I do like these new stories, but with reservations. I truly fear that, this being Marvel, we’ll soon learn that these characters share a universe, and that will sow the seeds for everything going to hell again. Why? Because, given the horrified outcry from the world population towards mutants, superheroes and mutants cannot possibly share the same universe. It doesn’t make sense. Never did.

Why? Because in the Marvel Universe, superheroes are idolized. Well, Spider-Man creeps out New York thanks to his shadowy nature and newspaper editorials, but everyone loves the Fantastic Four (who stole a rocket and were mutated by cosmic radiation), Captain America (who volunteered for government experimentation), and Iron Man (the mysterious bodyguard of a millionaire industrialist - actually he is the millionaire, but the public doesn’t know that, and would you trust a big shiny guy with rockets and lasers who protected Bill Gates or Ted Turner?), not to mention various second-tier characters who’ve gotten powers from aliens, drugs or ancient artifacts.

And then there’s Thor. Come on, the suspension of disbelief goes only so far. Hey, I’m perfectly willing to say “Sure, Asgard exists and the god of thunder works as a superhero and physician in New York.” What I don’t believe is that the population of the most Catholic city in America is so pleased to have proof that the Norse gods exist that they’ll let this preChristian deity occasionally throw buildings at Thanos and Galactus and cheer him on, then turn around and freak out when the X-Men show up to help. It’s perfectly fine in the Marvel universe if some lab accident gave you the power to walk through walls, but if you’re born with it, your name is Kitty Pryde and the world hates you. That does not make a drop of sense.

So I’ve just read an interesting and action-packed X-Men adventure where the quintet rescue Bobby Drake from a battalion of Sentinels. The robots, who don’t seem to care about killing innocent bystanders, are destroyed. Dozens of lives are saved on this rescue mission and the X-Men are immediately pelted with rocks and garbage, as mobs in this universe are wont to do, since they know and fear mutants. Not many pages in the Magazine later, Peter Parker, who in the previous issue caught a fist from Flash Thompson and broke the bully’s hand, makes his spectacular basketball debut and does things humans aren’t supposed to do.

Sorry, but in the world of the Sentinels, then someone’s gonna say “that kid’s a mutant” and pelt him with rocks and garbage. The realities presented by the two fictional universes simply do not mesh, and I hope and pray Ultimate Marvel never, ever merges their worlds, though I think we can all state with categorical certainty that the company plans to do just this, as quickly as they can come up with a good team-up.

Until that time, Ultimate Marvel Magazine remains good value for money, has some pretty good art, and should be supported at newsstands, since that’s where any new readers are gonna come from. And be sure to let the managers know that you appreciate them carrying it!

Now playing: The Platters: 20 Greatest Hits

March 1, 2001

Got a little political yesterday, so at some point I'll change gears and get to music. I'm still in a raging state of liberal fury over the Cybermoron president, and was pleased to read a recent column from NewsMax's Steve Farrell, which points out Dubya's complete misunderstanding of the difference between a "democracy" and a "republic." If this were a true democracy, Gore would have won, but thanks to our republic's Electoral College, Dubya took it. So why does Dubya insist on calling this republic a democracy at every opportunity?

Regarding yesterday's entry, fellow Popocalypse member Dave Prosser notes that, indeed, paying off the whole of the national debt does not make sound financial sense because a portion of that is debt owed to citizens in the form of interest-yielding bonds. However, we agree that this portion is not the bulk of the debt, and I stand firm that as much of the debt should be paid off as quickly as possible. If that means some government programs have to be slashed for a few years, or forever, then so be it. I think the farm subsidies can be stopped, for example. If you can't make a living selling food, find another job. Nobody's subsidizing GMS Legion, that's why I'm an insignificant corporate gnat by day. (Though some may argue I'm an insignificant gnat all the time…)

Explaining the debt to the masses is such an uphill battle. My father never saw the point when young liberal rebel me gesticulated madly about how the debt had skyrocketed under Reagan and we owed so much money to other nations and creditors. "So what," said Dad. "You think they can foreclose on the United States?" Yeah, ditto.

So anyway, I was listening to the Pet Shop Boys' Introspective yesterday; it's the album with the really long songs on it. Each one follows a clear pattern: they start out as very interesting and intelligent pieces, and six minutes later they've found the point, made it, re-emphasized it, regurgitated it, and are nowhere close to shutting up about it.

I should point out, before I lose it, that Introspective was the last true hit Pet Shop Boys album in America. Later albums might have charted higher, but they fell faster, and radio didn't touch them. I've got a theory about this. Introspective shows a massive miscalculation on Neil and Chris's part about the audience's willingness to indulge people screwing with the perception of truth in advertising.

See, the album ostensibly contains a pair of top ten singles, which were massive at radio and MTV: the sublime and majestic "Always on My Mind" and the quite good "Domino Dancing." I say ostensibly because the versions on the album are far longer, remixed, and altogether incredibly inferior to what they played on the radio.

People buy an album - the US has arguably not been a singles market since Led Zeppelin - because they heard a song on the radio and liked it. The song is an advertisement for the album. So people brought Introspective home, got to "Domino Dancing," and after an extended intro - which is acceptable, we're cool with radio edits - the song starts, but then after a couple of minutes it goes all bassy and stupid and suddenly we're listening to a dub version of the song. What the crap is this? Where's the radio version? Even worse is "Always on My Mind/In My House." The version is completely different, with Neil practically a capella for several minutes before the chorus changes to "You were always in my HOUSE-HOUSE-HOUSE-HOUSE" and there's some stupid thumping and then Neil, his voice sped up and then slowed down, starts this stupid rap that goes "You were always on my mind, it's true, I never thought of anyone else but you" and this high-pitched sample screams something like "You were AWIIIY!" Eventually this embarassment ends, the proper musical background of the "Always on My Mind" single finally starts and we get the chorus a couple of times and it fades out. Completely wretched.

See, I have no objection at all to extremely long songs as long as the artist is doing something. All we have here - and to be fair, all we have in a lot (90% or better) of twelve-inch extended mixes - are excuses to stay on the dance floor longer. It's like that godawful jam on the end of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. None of those "songs" have any point at all. They don't create new worlds, they have no interesting textures, you can't feel the artist making a musical - or any sort of - point, you just hear a lot of stoned longhairs looking for the ultimate chord. As quests go, it's kinda fruitless. That's why I get nothing whatsoever from Phish, or Panic, or the Dead. It's almost like pot completely kills your rational ability to say "We've played long enough. We can do a different song now." I am reminded of nothing less than the thirty-plus minute rendition of "Straight to Hell" performed by two stoned morons on acoustic guitars down the corridor from me in the Reed Hall basement of 1990.

That doesn't mean long songs're wrong. In the instrumental vein, Moby or William Orbit can make beautiful soundscapes, something Brian Eno taught them how to do. Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists did all sorts of interesting things, and every time Miles Davis decided to tell the establishment to go fuck itself between 1969 and 1975 (which would be about weekly), he created utter magic, with only very sporadic stumbles, usually involving a Hammond organ or a wah-wah pedal.

Don't think I'm playing favorites, well, outside of the fact that I'm obviously going to talk from a perspective of the music that I enjoy. I've never successfully navigated the Cure's "Carnage Visors," for instance. Stephin Merritt, who understands how to hit a beautiful point succinctly, closed the last 6ths album with some monstrously repetitive thing, I think it's called "Oahu," that I can't stomach. And not a day goes by where I don't wish I could have back the thirty-four minutes I gave David Sylvian for "Approaching Silence."

Long vocal works fare better, because even if the vocals only provide a brief intrusion, they make other points and provide other regions of focus. The Cure understands/understood this better than damn near anybody, and so you can be assured that a huge monster song like "Prayers for Rain" or "A Forest" will have a really long, mood-setting intro, a hell of a lot of verses, and minimal repetition. Julian Cope's "The Tower" is over ten minutes and never feels like it. His "Reynard the Fox" changes tempo twice (so does Bowie's "Station to Station" and the Banshees' "Rapture"), ensuring the piece never gets boring or stale. In the realm of remixes, as I said above, most of them suck, but you may not have lived until you've done the twelve-minute mix of the Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion," which builds like a freight train and like nothing else in the late 80s. (Why are there still goths? Don't they know this was the genre's ultimate statement?)

I've heard some real turkeys in the remix arena, generally because, for the most part, remixers aren't musicians. A small number may become musicians, and some may be musicians who are experimenting, but most remixers - particularly in the 80s and early 90s - are studio engineers on an assignment to make a real long song for club DJs to play. Here, the artistic statement has already been made. Are the remixers adding anything other than percussion?

MC Hammer's "Pray" may have the honor of worst remix ever; I heard it in the Wherehouse in Sandy Springs and was literally driven from the store by it. Remember "Pray?" The other MC Hammer song? It sampled "When Doves Cry" and ripped the rest of the sound off "Like a Prayer," meaning there wasn't a whole lot of originality going into it in the first place. The mix was basically an extended version of "When Doves Cry" with a choir singing "Pray" while Hammer, presumably wearing those giant pants, insightfully pointed out "Pray… oh yeah we pray… we gotta pray just to make it today." It was like some horrible endless loop and now I can't hear "When Doves Cry" without hearing that damned choir. For this sin alone, Hammer deserved career ruination.

Dance mixes and Phish jams may be technically fluent, but they lack movement and direction. Take Coltrane's A Love Supreme for example. Trane and McCoy Tyner go off in all sorts of avenues and directions, but every few minutes, that amazing bass of Jimmy Garrison starts up with its "ba-BAHM ba-BAHM" and pulls them back in. It focusses the music briefly before freeing it to go somewhere else. But all most dance music, and especially the "extended" variety displayed on Introspective does, is give us the "ba-BAHM ba-BAHM" without the exploration.

Get to the point or take me to brilliant new places. That's what I ask of music. If you're just gonna stand around hip-hopping the same thing, shut up and get out of the road.

Now playing: Lloyd Cole: Love Story

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Pages maintained by Grant Goggans, update Apr. 2001.