27 March 2006

Bridezilla lives

Since my ladyfriend is just now going through it with a daughter (and I'm currently working for a purveyor of wedding outfits), I finally understand that women actually believe that, on their wedding day, they truly become some sort of medieval-style princess, with all the rights and privileges thereof. Imagine Princess Buttercup mixed with an equal amount of Elizabeth Taylor (just divorced from Richard Burton) and you begin to get the picture. (As shown by the photo at left.)
They believe can order around lesser beings (family, mostly, but wedding planners fall nicely into the serf category), stamp their feet and demand three impossible things before breakfast, command the slaying of dragons and the summoning of unicorns, and other mythical (or fairy tale, depending on the wedding planner) behaviors.

All to the tune of twenty or thirty thousand bucks, at a minimum.

The groom, of course, is merely supposed to show up (typically hungover) and conform to all fairy tale expectations.
This is where the fairy tale begins to turn into something out of the Brothers Grimm...

Quote for the day

"We have the fossils. We win."
A noted scientist, weighing in on Intelligent Design.

Couldn't have stated it better myself...

26 March 2006

Yes, I can carry a grudge, thank you...

In the random way of Google searches, I ran across a reminiscence by Dick Peabody, a supporting character (Littlejohn) in Combat, one of the favorite television shows of my youth. In it he discussed the funeral of Vic Morrow, the star of Combat (as Sergeant Saunders, a childhood hero of mine), who was tragically killed (along with two child actors) during the filming of a Twilight Zone segment directed by John Landis. (Landis was, unfortunately, declared not guilty when he was tried for involuntary manslaughter in the three deaths.)

But the behavior of Landis at both the movie set (he was observed shouting "Lower! Lower!" to the pilot of the helicopter that crashed and killed Morrow and the children) and at Morrow's funeral has kept me from watching any of Landis' old movies (including Blues Brothers), as well as any he may (lamentably) be allowed to make in the future.

I still hold a grudge (note to Landis: do not cross my path), more than twenty years later, because sometimes you must draw a line in the sand...

Quote for the day

"It is impossible to get enough revenge."
A young girl of Beslan

This is from another of those "little wars" we don't hear much about, between the Russians and the Chechens.
The girl, a Russian, draws the Chechen terrorists (male and female) who blew up her school, along with her classmates and their parents, then tears up the drawings and burns them.
Out of their nightmares, of course, the Chechen children draw Russian soldiers...

25 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Get used to disappointment."
The Dread Pirate Roberts to Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride

24 March 2006

Quote for the day

"There's not a lot of money in revenge."
Inigo Montoya to the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride

23 March 2006

Quote for the day

"The sorcerers' revolution," Don Juan continued, "is that they refuse to honor agreements in which they did not participate."
from The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Casteneda

Imagine if we all did that. (Hell, imagine if I did that...)

22 March 2006

Just a glimpse of Old Glory

One of the big tear-jerking moments in my life was the first time I ever saw the American flag flying outside the United States. (Over the embassy in Stockholm, to be precise.)
An experience that crystalized a sense of being American like no other.
This image, from Ulli Mueller's blog, feels much like that:

And if you don't get that cold rush up your neck at the sound of "the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave", reread Sgt. Pete's post below and consider how lucky you are to have the luxury of indifference...

Another candidate for Dhimmi-of-the-Year

According to an article by the Associated Press, an Italian clothing designer has come out with a line of Al Quds jeans, designed especially for Muslims.
"They're high around the waist, wide around the leg and have lots of pockets for holding watches, bracelets, glasses and other knickknacks," according to Luca Corradi, who designed Al Quds jeans. "The bagginess is to ensure the wearer avoids stiffness while bending down repeatedly during prayers. The pockets are for holding all the accessories Muslims have to take off while they worship. And the jeans have green seams - because green is the sacred color of Islam."

I can just see the Brooke Shields-lookalike spokesmodel now: "Nothing comes between me and my Al Quds but four kilos of Semtex..."

So how's your job?

Ran across an earlier posting in one of my linked blogs, Sergeant Pete Puebla's journal of his time in Iraq, and thought his story bore repeating here:

"I am now a combat veteran. We got hit by an IED, and I’m not just talking about the platoon either. I’m talking about our Humvee. It got hit. Me, I, we. We were within 10 feet of the thing. How we survived without a scratch, I don’t know. The Humvee wasn’t damaged and no one got hurt. No broken windshield, damaged body, no cuts or concussions. Thank God. We all made it in one peace. We pulled up right on the darn thing. We were just sitting there then all of a sudden there it was, pow! I immediately got down. I knew we had got hit but I didn’t expect it to be so close. It had our name on it. We were engulfed in a cloud of smoke and debris.
Some of the guys in other trucks that saw it happen thought we were gone for sure. Some said that they couldn’t even see our Humvee at the time of the explosion. Some thought that our Humvee had got blown to pieces and thought that the turret was the hood of the vehicle. I couldn’t seen anything myself for a few seconds. It was freaking loud too. It was so loud I felt the vibrations in my chest. What can I say about it? It was like something exploded. Obviously.
I don’t see why T-Rex didn’t see it. I told him after it exploded too, “Didn’t you see it! It was right in front of you!” I was alright after a little while though. I regained my composure immediately since this wasn’t the first experience in the field. I still can’t believe that he drove right up on it. Unbelievable. And to have us all walk away like nothing happened, miracle. I don’t know why. That thing had our name on it. Heck we were right next to it and T-Rex and the Lieutenant had front row seats. They were facing the thing when it went off.
Divine intervention is all I thought about. That’s all I thought about all day. Hadji must be wondering what happened. I don’t know how and I can’t explain it myself. We were in a cloud of smoke. How could we just drive away, like nothing happened? Hadji probably thought we were laughing at him. Instead, I think we were all thanking God for giving us another day. How unbelievable. A miracle.
It’s changed my perspective on life. To be thankful for every day we have. To cherish what we as Americans take for granted. Thanks be to God."

So, anything exciting happen at work today?
Remember what Orwell said: "We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us."
Tthough he'd never admit it, Sgt. Pete is one of those 'rough men'...

Quote for the day

"I cruise the wine aisle at Draeger's Market, hoping to meet my second husband."
Maire Kushner

Another contributor to Women's History Month...

21 March 2006

Quote for the day

"We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call, no way out; just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it."
Tennessee Willams, quoted in Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins

"In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. But, oh! What a view from that upstairs window!"
"What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see; then it doesn't matter that the house is burning down around us. It doesn't matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!"
from Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins

Could not have said it better, either thought, myself...

20 March 2006

Quote for the day

"The protection of the weak and unarmed is the very essence and reason for a soldier's being."
General Douglas MacArthur

And, I would submit, the reason for any man's being...

19 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Before humans,
dogs flew everywhere.
Their wings of silky fur
wrapped hollow bones.
Their tails wagged
like rudders through wind,
their stomachs bare
to the sullen earth.
Out of sorrow
for the first humans—
stumbling, crawling,
helpless and cold—
dogs folded their
great wings into paws
soft enough to walk
beside us forever.
They still weep for us,
pity our small noses,
our unfortunate eyes,
our dull teeth.
They lick our faces clean,
keep us warm at night.
Sometimes they remember flying
and bite our ugly hands."
Why dogs stopped flying by Kenneth W. Brewer

Ken Brewer, Utah's Poet Laureate, Professor of literature, writing and poetry at Utah State University for 32 years, and a delightful human being, died recently of pancreatic cancer. (from Rigor Vitae: Life Unyielding)

18 March 2006

Gremlins in the wires

I am continually amazed by how much we take for granted, how much stuff in this society just works.
As an example, we changed out our wireless router the other day. It worked fine for a few days, then the connection just died. No reason, just couldn't connect. Much hairpulling and badwordsaying. Then, this morning, I plugged everything back in, turned it on, and voila, back in business. (Thus this blog entry, and others that've been piling up.)

But let us remember how few years ago (say, 1983, and thus pre-Macintosh) none of this was possible.
Not for love nor money.
No internet, no cell phones, no movies-on-demand, no text messaging.
Amazing we were able to survive at all, in those Dark Ages...

Yet how many other systems in this society (traffic lights, food delivery, gas distribution, sewerage), that we totally depend upon, are just as invisible and mysterious?
That's why the bird flu is so scary.
If everyone takes the government's advice and stays home to eat the tuna under the bed (almost as good advice as the plastic and duct tape for the anthrax scare), who's going to keep the power plants (let alone the sewerage plants) running, the gas trucks rolling, the milk and cereal deliveries made?
We could be in serious trouble...

(Of course, after fifty percent of the population dies off, think of the better house and car you'll be able to afford...)

Quote for the day

"I've run to men, money, and even a nice pair of shoes for a sense of relief..."
from the Sex and the Seven blog

A point of view you're unlikely to hear from a man (a straight one, anyway), but appropriate for Women's History Month...

17 March 2006

Quote for St. Patrick's day

"If the Dutch had lived in Ireland, they'd've conquered the world. If the Irish had lived in Holland, they'd've drowned."
told to me in The Old Stand, a lovely traditional pub in Dublin

16 March 2006

Quote for the day

"If it’s ever going to be truly worthwhile, it’s going to hurt, it’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to take sacrifice."
David Brown

Maybe someone should send this to the New York Times; it's a concept that they, like many people, seem to fail to understand...

15 March 2006

Groucho knew more than Karl

Marx was wrong.
Religion is no longer the opiate of the masses.

As evidenced by the theofascists of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, religion is now the steroid of the masses.
On it, people commit acts they wouldn't if they were in their right mind.
Unfortunately, these days, that includes rape, pillage, and murder. And, when they get really cranked on the stuff, genocide. (Hell, in the right circumstances, even Buddhists can succumb to it.)

So if you're wondering why we're not winning the War Against Terrorism it's because, just like with the War On Drugs, the users don't want to stop...

Quote for the day

“Human beings are beings that are going to die. Sorcerers firmly maintain that the only way to have a grip on our world, and on what we do in it, is by fully accepting that we are beings on the way to dying. Without this basic acceptance, our lives, our doings, and the world in which we live are unmanageable affairs."
Don Juan in The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Castaneda

A hard thing to accept, in one's own case. You dying I can grasp (some of you more easily than others), but me?

14 March 2006

Quote for the day

"That which is overdesigned, too highly specific, anticipates outcome; the anticipation of outcome guarantees, if not failure, the absence of grace."
from All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson

I try not to anticipate, but I do anyway.
(Though, if my flinching whilst cowboy shooting is any indication, I am getting better...)

13 March 2006

Quote for the day

“One of the high arts of sorcerers is to know when to stop.”
Don Juan in The Active Side of Infinity by Carlos Castaneda

Proving, yet again, that I have not achieved the status of sorcerer, by a long shot...

12 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow."
Mahatma Gandhi

Because, one day, you'll be right.

11 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."
Carl Sagan

So much for religion.
And don't give me that Word of God As It is Written in the Book crap, either. A few smotings, complete with fire and brimstone and a loud voice from the sky (which will probably have to sound like Charleton Heston, just to be taken seriously; who'd believe in God if He sounded like Woody Allen or, just to be politically correct, if She sounded like Goldy Hawn?) declaiming His and/or Her wrath, that'd be a good start, but we haven't seen that sort of action out of the Supreme Being in awhile, have we?

(But I guess I'll sure be surprised when that 'Rapture' thing happens...)

10 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Courage, among women, is often mistaken for madness."
A psychiatrist, after examing Alice Paul, one of the suffragists staging a hunger strike in 1917 in support of the vote for women.

After all, it is Women's History Month...

09 March 2006

A fine madness

Flipping back and forth between Christopher Walken's performances in Robert Redford's Milagro Beanfield War and Michael Cimino's unsung Western saga Heaven's Gate, and having watched his over-the-top performance in Last Man Standing (a poor remake of Akira Kurosawa's famous masterpiece Yojimbo) the night before, I am reminded that there is a fine line between genius and madness, and I'm never sure which side Walken is on...

(And doesn't Deadwood owe one hell of a a debt to Heaven's Gate?)

Quote for the day

"If the rich could hire others to do their dying for 'em, the poor people could make a wonderful living, I tell you."
Richard Masur as Cully the train conductor, to Christopher Walken, in Heaven's Gate

08 March 2006

Sometimes the magic works...

We are now officially back on-line, after several weeks of progressively more dismal (and irritatingly uncertain) wireless connectivity.
Replacing our wireless router with a new one from NetGear has instantly changed our house network from an intermittent weak signal to a solid 'all-bars' connection.
Adding injury to insult, a USB wireless card made by the same company gave my Macintosh a major set of gremlins last year until I junked it for an AirPort card.
I'm not saying their equipment is crap, but then again I'm not saying it isn't, either...

Another loss

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks died yesterday, at a spry 93.
A true American genius (and the best-looking whitehaired old man since Samuel Clemens and Lee Marvin), his artistry with a camera will remain legendary.

Quote for the day

"Whatever man is not on our side and will not spend himself in the interests of justice, we take him to be a man against us. Therefore, wherever you do good for yourself do us ill to the best of your ability, and we will do you ill to the best of ours, with God's will."
Hugh O'Neill, an Irish clan leader, in a letter to one of his enemies, 1595

A good attitude to take into the next century or two of the War Against Terrorism.
And here you thought it was going to be "bring the boys home by Christmas"...

07 March 2006

A loss

I was just informed that Christopher Reeve's wife, Dana, died today, not even two years after his death. (An environmental group I helped form had him on its board of directors, and he was always very supportive.)
A beautiful woman who showed great compassion and courage during his disabled years, her death from lung cancer sadly leaves their young child orphaned.

In the "you never know" category, yet another lesson in why you need to live your life while you're in it, as today's Quote for the Day points out...

Quote for the day

"Get busy living or get busy dying."
from Stephen King's Shawshank Redemption (both the book and the excellent movie)

06 March 2006

The Lone Ranger had the same issue

The French (who would have guessed?) have handed down a ruling by their Council of State that Sikhs must remove their turbans when having their photograph taken for a driving license.
(It's been awhile since I've been in a cab in the Big Apple, but I wonder if the Taxi Commission in New York City will ever take the same stand.)
In Pennsylvania, they're having trouble forcing Black Muslim women to take off their veils for a driver's license photo, and the women are still insisting on being allowed to go into a bank and cash a check with their faces veiled. (Try wearing a mask into your local branch some quiet afternoon; write and let me know how it turns out.)
West of here, some of the Amish are rebelling against having to put reflectors (let alone a strobe light) on the back of their carriages, yet still insist on driving on public roadways at night.
I don't think all this was what the Founding Fathers meant by freedom of religious expression...

Now it comes home to roost

Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, born in Iran but having spent most of his life in the United States, has been arraigned on nine counts of attempted murder and nine counts of vehicular assault in an apparent hit and run attack on fellow students at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
He said he was "thankful for the opportunity to spread the will of Allah", and intentionally ran people down to "avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world".

Study his mug shot; this is the new face of theoterrorism:

Quote for the day

"Major Ian Hay, back in the War to End War, described the structure of military organizations: regardless of their Table of Organization, all military bureaucracies consist of a Surprise Party Department, a Practical Joke Department, and a Fairy Godmother department. The first two process most matters, as the third is very small; the Fairy Godmother Department is one elderly female GS-5 clerk usually out on sick leave."
Glory Road by Robert Heinlein

Seems my file got sent over to the Fairy Godmother department; I start my new job (after a long time on the beach) today...

05 March 2006

Quote for the day

"Must be Texans. The lowest form of white man there is."
Robert Duvall as Al Sieber, Chief Scout, in Geronimo: An American Legend

My friends in and from Texas (being a Texan is like being a Marine; there are no ex-Texans) will be outraged...

04 March 2006

Quote for the day

In this world
we stroll along the roof of hell
gawking at flowers

A haiku by Kobayashi Issa, one of Japan’s three greatest haiku masters

Ah, but such flowers...

03 March 2006

Made in America

Sometimes you see something so well made, so well designed, that you want one whether you need it or not:

Actually, this will do nicely for making those naked swimmer videos in the Bahamas, once I win the lottery...

Quote for the day

"Having engaged in bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, misconduct of mind, or whatever else is flawed,
not having done what is skillful, having done much that is not,
at the break-up of the body, the undiscerning one reappears in hell."
Buddha, in the Itivuttaka

It's that becoming 'discerning' I need to work on...

02 March 2006

Too special

I am tired of 'special' people. Mostly drivers now, since I stopped taking the train into town last year and thus avoid 'special' pedestrians.
'Special' people are those who consider themselves too 'special' to obey the traffic laws that most of the rest of us work with on a daily basis.
Nah, I'm not talking speeders (though those kids with their little rice-rocket cars zooming through traffic certainly qualify), as nearly everybody speeds at one time or another.
I'm talking about people who:
  • make a right hand turn from the left-turn-only lane across two or three lanes
  • take their half of the road out of the middle
  • change lanes without a turn signal or without looking
  • turn suddenly into a street or driveway without a turnsignal
  • mosey onto the freeway at half the speed of traffic, then suddenly accelerate to more than the speed limit
  • stop in the middle of the street to have an unnecessary conversation, whether with their passenger, an oncoming car, or a pedestrian

There are other styles out there that make the list, but this will do for a start.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no clear consensus on reinstituting the old system of "heads on stakes at the city limit"...

Quote for the day

"Now and then we had a hope that, if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates."
from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain.
(Quote suggested by Brimstone, at the right in the photo)

"In my time I have had desires to be a pirate myself."
from Mark Twain's Autobiography

Me, too... (At the left in the photo)

01 March 2006

Black dot, red dot

I always forget, from year to year, and thus am annually surprised to see all those people downtown walking around with dirty faces. Then I remember it's Ash Wednesday, and those dots and crosses are deliberate, rather than merely bad washing habits.
Technically, the spots are the ashes of the palms that were paraded around the church the previous Sunday, sort of the Catholic equivalent of the tilak the Hindus wear (that 'red dot on the forehead' thing), only once a year rather than daily.
(Few Catholics these days, of course, know that Palm Sunday was originally the Jewish holiday of Sukkoth, and the palm leaves were used to build huts outside the temple, representing those the Jews lived in during their forty years wandering in the desert.)
This city has a much larger concentration of Catholics (Irish, Italians, and Poles) than I was used to on the West Coast; the prevalence of the Black Dot is much higher.
These overt displays of religiosity give me the shudders; I keep waiting for the drums to start beating. It's only a notch or two from there to the self-flagellation we see in the Shi'ite communities in Iraq, and even Catholics have a history of that.

These days, given the anti-Christian outlook of our Moslem brethren, it could also be the Catholic equivalent of 'shoot here, please'...

Quote for the day

"We eat, shit, fuck, kill, and die."
Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade in Quills

A succinct, if limited, view of the human condition...

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