Sunday, August 31, 2008

And so it begins...

Remember how I said it would take me some time to put my thoughts about the increasingly fascistic rule of Putin and his puppet? Here's some more fuel for my fire.

You know how it goes.

Just big boo-boo mistake, da? You kidnap opposition blogger, put gun to head, and, damn, it go off accidentally!


By the way, on ABC News this morning, Cindy McCain stated that Sarah Palin has a really good grasp of national security issues because Alaska is close to Russia.

I work three blocks from the White House. Does that mean I should understand what goes on inside Cheney's head?

God help us. Please, Democrats, don't screw the pooch on this election!

The Oxygen network sure has some interesting home shopping shows...

Late last night, I could not sleep. Pretty much the norm for me these days. Flipping channels I came across "Adventures in Babysitting." It's a fun 80s movie, with an interesting cast - Elizabeth Shue, Penelope Ann Miller, a very young Bradley Whitford as a complete asshat. Even has Clark "Homicide" Johnson in that great role "Black Gang Leader." Yes, a proud moment for a really talented actor. The best part of the film is Vincent D'onofrio as the mechanic Dawson who might also be the mighty Thor. His entire part in the film lasts, maybe, two-three minutes, but he certainly cut quite the stunning figure:

Yes, believe it or not, that blond god is Vincent D'onofrio.

This Vincent D'onofrio:

Wow, huh? Don't get me wrong, ah luvs me mah Vincent D'onofrio. It's just a pretty amazing change over time. Of course, Vincent holds the Guiness record for most weight gained by an actor for a film - 80+ lbs for "Full Metal Jacket." Private Pyle is one serious m-f'ing actor, kids.

But I digress...

I fell asleep on the end of the film and woke up to late night home shopping on Oxygen. Yes, "Adventures in Babysitting" was showing on Oxygen. 80s squeaky clean teen movie. Cute and family-friendly.

Unlike the home shopping Oxygen featured immediately following the fuzzy, funny fare.

Sex toys. Lots and lots of sex toys. Really expensive sex toys.

Until last night, I had no idea there were vibrators embedded with mp3 players. Or ones that light up with pretty LED lights. (I wasn't quite clear on that one - I mean, is it for use in very dark spaces, like one of those orange flashlights for directing aircraft?) The best one? (Your definition of "best" may vary.) It's an "Internet-ready" vibrator that can be remotely controlled by someone on the other side of the planet.

Can you imagine the nightmare of a vibrator hacker?

Not cool, man. Just not cool.

Of course, I watched with great fascination. Actually, I think it's pretty cool that it's a very straightforward show, presented with no titilation. The female hosts could be selling commemorative coins, they were so mellow. They were dressed like normal folks and it was clearly women-friendly. They even had segregated toll free ordering numbers specifically for men and for women. "Ladies," one of the hosts chirped, "When you call your toll-free number, there will be a woman at the end of the line to take your order." I noticed they didn't say anything about the men's toll-free number. I imagine there are women at the end of that line, too.

What amused me most is that the hosts are holding up dildos and vibrators that look exactly like veiny penises, yet they would say things like, "And you know where to put these, ladies." I'm like, wait - you have no problem holding up a wobbling, rubbery penis, but you can't actually use the terminology that might go along with the receiving end of these critters? Maybe there's some strange FCC late-night TV law against that. "You can show the enormous, anatomically accurate phallus, but don't use any words for the hoo-hah, okay?"

The strangest thing they showed? Jesus, it actually ooged me out. It's this device called "Aria's Pleaser." I am posting the most tasteful photo of it that I could find. Honestly, a still photo doesn't do this thing justice. It's a pink rubber sheath that looks like the lower half of a human head. It has a nose, a jaw... and a wide open mouth with a battery-operated tongue waving around inside. I stared at it as they turned on the tongue and was horrified. It looked like a birth defect rather than a sex toy. Some stop motion demon straight out of a Wes Craven film. I may actually need therapy.

And, because I'm not going there alone, here's a photo of this sucker (as it were):

Now, just imagine that tongue lolling around and making the whole thing move.

Good luck sleeping tonight, kids. If you have nightmares, blame Oxygen! That's what I'm doing!

(You can blame my mechanic for this post. If my car had been ready, I was going to drive up to the state fair in Timonium today. Instead, you get creepy sex toys and comparison photos of Vincent D'onofrio.)

You bet my sweet asteroid!

A menu was just shoved under my door. It's a colorful thing. Wish my scanner was working so I could share the joy directly with you.

It's for a middle eastern/mediterranean delivery joint with the very strange name of Asteroids. Yep. Asteroids. According to the flyer, the website is, but don't bother going there - it's a dead site.

The colors on the menu flyer remind me of doctored Soviet photography, bright, but muddied like the poster for a 1950s monster movie. Let's just say the kabobs featured on one star-shaped segment of this design mess look... well... pre-digested.

But apparently, looks can be deceiving, and this is not just any carry-out joint! This is MIRACLE food! In a rainbow of colors and capital letters, the menu tells me:


Well, holy crap! I want to be sexy! I want a fresh body! And god knows, I've been looking for a place to rest my mind! Who knew that shawarma pizza could make you sexy! Do you rub it on yourself to achieve this effect? See, I would think that would give you that not-so-fresh feeling. If the copy is to be believed, I'm totally wrong. And hey -seriously, if eating their food makes your body fresh, I guess you can skip showering! WOW - what a water and energy saver! It's GREEN FOOD!!!


A gem on the inside is the description of the kabobs they sell:

Beef kabob "Secret!" (What - will the beef explode if not eaten in 15 seconds?)
Lamb kabob "Surprise!" (Ummm... I dunno - it's not lamb?)

I have a funny feeling I'm going to pass on ordering from Asteroids. Any restaurant that reminds me I may need Preparation H after eating their food is gonna get a pass.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

You used to think it was so easy

I've written before about how much I love Gerry Rafferty's album "City To City." Not a bad track on the whole recording, from "Baker Street" to "Right Down the Line" - it's all good.

Here's the great vintage video for "Baker Street", a song that still gives me little chills for reasons I can quite explain, thirty years later. Shoot, I was only twelve when I got hooked on his stuff!

Still pretty damn good, today, no?

Every once in a while I scan the Internet for musicians I've dug since childhood, to see if they're going on the road or have any new tunes available.

With Gerry Rafferty, I haven't really had that expectation. I read a couple of years ago about his serious problems with alcohol and public scenes he's created, including one where he had to be kicked off a commercial airliner. Sad, really.

For some reason, I decided to search for him again today, only to find more sad news - Rafferty is officially listed as a missing person after he vanished from a London hospital where he'd been undergoing treatment for liver failure. Apparently, he'd ended up there after what was described as an "alcohol and urine-soaked bender" in a posh London hotel, trashing a suite to pieces. And now, Rafferty is lost, for more than a month now. He left his belongings behind at the hospital and is gone.

Booze or drugs don't always enhance talent. Amy Winehouse is a poster child for that refrain.

Here's hoping Gerry finds his path.

Enjoy another song from "City To City", "The Ark":

Ponder Mode

There are so many things I want to blog about right now:

1. John McCain's stunt casting of a woman with absolutely no national or international leadership experience as his VP running mate (and, women of America, if you're foolish enough to fall for this made-for-Lifetime ploy, you deserve a collective ass-kicking!) But my friend Spencer has done a much better job than I ever could have. Read his entry here.

2. Vile Vladimir Putin, his puppet Dmitri Medvedev, and paranoid Russian nationalist idiocy as they annex South Ossetia. This one will take some time for me to organize my ire into cogent text rather than a diatribe. (As if that's stopped me before!)

3. The irony of a man starring in a TV show about a sex addict having to go into rehab for sex addiction. (Reality or ratings-friendly publicity? Oh, it gets my conspiracy theorist spidey sense a-tingling!) Maybe, at the very least, we'll get some great PSAs out of this. "Hi, I'm David Duchovny - actor, sex addict. Just remember kids, if you suddenly want to have pointless sex with a total stranger... or several strangers... just close your eyes and envision anything devoid of joy and totally unfunny - dead puppies, Scientology, a McCain presidency, two hours locked in a closet with an alcoholic circus clown... It helped me. It can help you, too."

I still have one full day trapped at home. I'll continue to ponder...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey, maybe this *is* party I can get behind

Just sayin'... (Go down to the title of the reviewed article at the bottom half of the page...)

I wonder if they are pro-Bush.

Maybe they can shave off a bit from McCain's surging pole, errr, poll results.

10 points for each tasteless comment.

Play on.

Thursday night, downtown DC

It's 7 o' clock and I'm in a coffee shop at 17th and L. It's gloomy outside, and the sky is so overcast, so heavy and gray, it almost seems tangibly gritty. It's remarkably cool for DC in the last week of August. There's actually a breeze, and it drifts over the end of rush hour, a harbinger of the rain that will come again tonight and tomorrow.

I've bought the cheapest iced coffee they offer and I'm nursing it slowly as I watch the clock. There's a recycled shopping bag at my feet, stuffed with damp clothes from my late morning commute. My car has been in the shop all week - it'll be $850 to replace the radiator, water pump, hoses, thermostat... basically, the whole cooling system. It's at a new-to-me garage, but one that has more than 150 solid positive reviews on Washington Checkbook. The garage is tiny - smaller than my apartment, I swear. And they were willing to take the car as soon as I called on Monday. But I don't know their turnaround times, and I still don't know if I'll have the car back for the long holiday weekend. And so, I've been hauling my aching carcass to the bus stop and the Metro and walking more than would please my physical therapy doc. By Tuesday night, I was so crippled with pain, I was almost sobbing on the Metro. I felt terrible for the Sasquatch, who rode the Red Line with me. He was, in his incredibly generosity, driving me home from downtown Bethesda to my place after work. As we walked to the trolley shuttle to his apartment building parking lot, I hobbled and grunted and made horrid squeaking sounds, all I could think was, "Poor guy! People are going to think I'm mentally disabled, and he's my helper."

Seriously, I owe him so much. He puts up with a lot being my friend.

This morning found me waiting for the often-late (or missing) Ride On bus in my neighborhood in the pouring rain. The cold, pouring rain. Without an umbrella. My umbrella is in my car. Initially, a neighbor I'd encountered the night before in the trash room had offered me a ride to Friendship Heights. But she forgot about me and left early for an appointment.

So there I stood. In the cold, pouring rain. Without an umbrella.

I hadn't figured on rain when I dropped the car off for repair on Monday. When I handed it over for nearly a whole nonprofit paycheck's worth of repairs.

I covered my head as best I could with a kitchen towel, surely looking like some crazy cat lady, clutching my cane in one hand and a recycled, reusable blue Giant grocery store bag in the other, stuffed with a notebook and a clean, dry blouse. As the time ticked away on the late bus, all I could think about was how good it would feel to be in dry clothes again.

Someone walked past me wearing a sliver of a thin safety orange rain slicker as I waited. It barely fit over his head and only covered his shoulders. He noted my discomfort in the rain and said, "No umbrella either, huh? I don't know which one of us is worse off. This is my kid's crossing guard slicker."

We both looked like total suckers. But at least his head and shoulders were dry.

Eventually, I ended up on a dank Metro car - lights out, smelly, cold. The driver apologized at each stop for the darkness. I gave up on reading the soaking wet copy of Express I'd picked up at Grosvenor. I closed my eyes and tried not to breathe in the miasma that floated up from the wet floor. I felt dirty.

I've never been so glad to reach Farragut North. I hobbled to the elevator to K Street and, as the doors closed, I realized that this confined space had recently - and pungently - been used as a porta-potty some transient with serious digestive issues. I tried to hold my breath as I rose to the surface. K Street air never seemed so sweet and fresh as this morning!

But the stink was clinging hard to my wet shirt (and not to my hair, I prayed.) The rain had started to pour down again, and I gave up.

I took a taxi for the five blocks to my office.

It was worth the trouble to schlep a spare shirt with me. After this commute, dry clothing felt and smelled so good. It felt almost as lovely as pyjamas fresh from a hot dryer. It was, honestly, the highlight of the day. Possibly the whole week. That's saying something - and I'm not sure if it's good or bad - that a dry shirt is the high point in my life today.

I've had trouble focusing this week. Absent-minded. Downright forgetful. And so very tired. I get stressed out any time there is a financial bump in my path (and $850 is a fairly significant bump these days.) It just exhausts me. Defeats me. And combined with the total sense of defeat about my back, neck, shoulder... Oof.

I fantasize that the settlement for the first accident will be enough to take a real vacation. Alone. Alone. Alone. Like many of my most interesting travels. To a place with crystal clear water and lots of fish to join me as I snorkel. And fabulous cheap seafood. And an empty beach. Like Phuket used to be before that awful Leonardo di Caprio movie brought gazillions of young backpacking things to trample southern Thailand into decayed submission.

Ah well! That's the march of time and progress and the victory of cinematic truth, right?

I can still hold on to the fantasy.

For now, reality is about taking baby steps.

So here I am, drinking the cheapest (and yet, still overpriced) iced coffee Caribou offers, listening to some piped-in smooth jazz/adult contemporary music that makes me think this might be what they'd play for Kenny G if he was being euthanized. I'm waiting for the evening crowds to thin on the Red Line - fewer aggressive commuters to bump and jar my fractured shoulder as the evening wears on. Better chances at a place to sit and cut my spine a break. By the time I get to my stop, I'll have missed the last bus to my neighborhood, so it'll be another cab ride back to my place. I think both my back and my physical therapist would kill me if I walked the mile home from Grosvenor tonight. I feel like I'm tossing cash out the window, since the cab ride itself is less than three minutes. But that's life, eh?

I'm staring at the cell phone, willing the mechanic to call and tell me the car is ready, but the likelihood is that I won't have it back before Labor Day. I may go completely bananas without the car for four more days, but at least it will keep me from spending any money.

Yin, yang. Good, bad. Lemons, lemonade. I'll be opening my own stand soon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Close Encounters of the Tabatha Kind

I realize there are more important things I should be blogging about right now, but first, for my Bravo-viewin' brethren...

Has anyone else noticed that scary-ass hair stylist Tabatha looks like one of the aliens from the end of Close Encounters?

Handy hint, if you pluck and arch your eyebrows to the point that you no longer look completely human, comparisons will be made.

Hmm... put that alien in a blue suit in the last frame, and it could be Janet Reno, too...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thanks, everyone!

Congratulations to Stemish, old school Dolby fan, for being hit 100,000 here at the Church! And thanks to each and every one of you who visits, reads, participates, and encourages my writing. I can't tell you how much your support means.

I know 100,000 hits is nothing for some bloggers. That's probably what Dooce gets within fifteen minutes of posting an entry about boobs or her baby. But for me, Middle Aged Schmo Girl, it's quite the benchmark. Will I still be blogging in a year? Who knows? As Yoda says, "Always in motion is the future." The likelihood is yes. Unless I win the lottery and move to Bora Bora, I'll probably still be a crap magnet with weird experiences to relate, bad 7-11 trips to describe, and new demons to exorcise through writing.

Thanks again, guys. I appreciate you all coming along for the ride. (The virtual ride, that is. I highly doubt any of you ever wants to get into an actual car with me. Too damn dangerous.)


So, apparently I lied...

Mr. Angry Back and his super-fun buddy Screw You Shoulder just woke up me. Good thing, too, since I'd fallen asleep on the sofa watching the gold medal match for men's beach volleyball. (Hey, why don't the men wear Speedos while playing this, since the women wear bikinis? That seems like a "viewer inequity" to me!!) Now, I have to go check and see who actually won.

(And I need to brush my teeth. And put on jammies. And pray that throbbing body parts will settle down enough for me to get some quality snooze time.)

So, kids, I got overconfident - I didn't hit 100K yesterday. I still have 13 hits to go. Eh, that's okay -- it's quality over quantity, and I got fewer pervs that usual. (Although I must say, shame on the one particular searcher from New Zealand who ended up here yesterday! I won't even repeat what you were searching for when you hit my blog, but you certainly didn't find it! Bad Kiwi, bad!)

Time for sleep. Noch einmal, bitte!

G'night, kids. And g'day and happy birthday to the lovely Talking Budgie in Australia! Cheers!

P.S. Yay, we won beach volleyball!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Will you be my 100,000th customer?

Sometime tomorrow, Church of the Big Sky will reach 100,000 hits. It only took 3 1/2 years and lots of perverted searches by lonely men in the Middle East and India looking for boobies.

The truth is, the blog probably already hit 100K, but there was a 48 hour period a couple of months ago when Statcounter went on the fritz (only time I've ever known it to have a problem), but, by the books, 100K will be tomorrow.

If Customer 100K is someone I recognize, I'll send that person a little something to say thank you for the continued patronage throughout my random periods of whining, whinging, and complaining about my medical and financial woes. If it turns out to be a Middle Eastern boobie searcher, well, then they're just SOL.

Shoulder is screaming, back is screaming... time to rest and watch Project Runway. They're designing for drag queens tonight. This should be fun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Photos of the Thai silk and cotton for the textile freaks!

All the silk is now sold. However, I still have the cool, insanely long length of the cotton, which I'm selling for $100. Shipping will be additional, but it'll fit nicely into Priority Mail flat rate packaging. And if you're in DC, we can arrange a hand-off.

Note: the cotton is 20" wide.

If you're interested, my contact details are on my profile page. I will e-mail a link to this entry to those who have sent me correspondence with interest. Please note: I will update this page and remove images as pieces sell.

Please click on photo for a larger view.

Thai matmee cotton. This piece of cotton (20" wide) is INSANELY long at approximately 17 yards. 13 yards are in blue and green shades and 4 yards are in autumnal, earthy tones. A little fabric surf and turf. I can only imagine that the weaver said, "Eh, what the hell, I ran out of the blue/green stuff, let's do some more with that other stuff I have left over!" It's a medium-weight loomed cotton, and I could see it used for a gazillion things. Considering the length of this fabric, "gazillion" is not an understatement.

Size: 612" (51 feet or 17 yards). Price: $100.

Thanks for your interest!

How do you deal with blog entry theft?

Especially when it's been run through some crap translator and back into half-assed English?

This came up on my "Merujo" Google Alert early this morning. Yeah, I have a Google Alert for myself. And crap like this is exactly why. I had some spamtastic loser in the Netherlands post an entry of mine (in real English) once on his page, and he still refuses to take it down or acknowledge my ownership. It's a "made for Google Adsense" website. Periodically, I consider sending a complaint to the legal authorities where he lives (his address is available on his site registration), but I understand that the Netherlands is pretty loosey-goosey about dealing with stuff like that.

This morning's theft may not be immediately recognizable to you, but it is to me. It's this post, just run through some bad translation device once or twice. And I find it incredibly irritating.

What the culprit gets out of doing this, I don't know. But I don't like intellectual property theft, regardless of the form. The Internet makes it far too easy for idiots and assholes to get away with a lot of ridiculous crap. Frankly, I think every spammer and thief caught should be forced to sit for a couple of days with big buckets of crap over their noggins. They are big shitheads, after all.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Holy crap, this hurts!

Good news, bad news...

Good news: I do believe the swelling is going down on my shoulder.

Bad news: now, the pain from the shoulder fracture has a more direct route to all those angry nerves.

I was sound asleep, and shooting pain from both the front and back of the shoulder woke me up. I have just slathered the offending shoulder (which is making crunching noises, btw) in Icy Hot goop. So far, no effect. I have a feeling I'll be up quite a while watching obscure sports on cable... (Seriously - there's an Olympic trampoline competition? Oh, c'mon!)

In my next life, I want a poolboy* named Raoul to be available to apply Icy Hot to all my car accident injuries. I tend to forget I have this gunk on my hands and then do moronic things like rub my eyes. (Yeah, ouch.) So, if anyone wants to apply for the role of Raoul, massaging poolboy, be sure to drop me a line...

*Whatever you do, don't look up "poolboy" on Google images. Unless you're looking for gay porn. Which is fine, if you're into gay porn. I just wanted a photo of some dude cleaning a pool. Not really a fan of gay porn. Although I once saw some, courtesy of Netflix. I asked for "Better Off Dead" with John Cusack, and they sent me "Better Gay Sex" instead. Go figure.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Return of the Banana Splits

Some of you will be too young to appreciate this, but one of the most freaking surreal TV shows of my childhood, The Banana Splits, is making a comeback, according to Gawker. That show was weird shit, man. It was like an acid trip for young children.

I guess peeps my age are supposed to have children by now. And, Warner Brothers, being a savvy money machine, has chosen to cash in on our middle-aged need to force the strange culture of our youth on the next generation. Hence, the rebirth of one of the single most bizarre programs ever.

Missed out on the Banana Splits phenomenon? Too young to have nightmares about it? Don't worry - YouTube is here to save you:

Scariest thing? I can sing along with the theme song without missing a single word. And yes, that's April Winchell's father Paul at the end. He was the voice of Fleegle, the beagle.

Updates from the "China has a funny perception of truth" zone

In case you missed these tidbits...

A dancer was paralyzed in a bad fall during rehearsals for the Olympic opening ceremonies. In fine whitewashing style, the Beijing Olympic Committee initially reported that she'd just broken her leg and she'd be just fine! Riiight.

Then, there's this gem, too. You know all those kiddos who handed off the Olympic flag to the scary-ass soldiers? They were supposed to be representatives of all 56 nationalities/ethnic groups in China. They weren't.

Look, I don't really care about the faked fireworks. There were plenty of real fireworks that went off - special effects enhancements are just that. Enhancements. But telling the world in your official docs that the kids were actual representatives of 56 ethnic groups, but just using your "comfort zone" majority ethnicity exclusively? That's just stupid. I loved the dork from the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee telling reporters they were being "too meticulous" in noting that these kids were described as real ethnic minorities. "Too meticulous"?!? WTF?

And lying about someone's life-changing injury? Man, when pride and honor get in the way of a truth that leaves a dancer unmoving for life, that's just plain pathetic.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Textile freaks, anyone? I'm selling some Thai tribal silk & cotton

Mama needs a new pair of shoes (well, orthotic-friendly sneakers) and new brakes for the Crapmobile Mark II (which is back from the insurance company's body shop.) So, to finance happy feet and an even happier car, I'm selling some gorgeous lengths of handwoven Thai tribal silk (matmee or mudmee, depending on your choice o' spelling) from the north of Thailand and one astoundingly long length of handwoven Thai tribal cotton.

I'm planning on putting these on eBay, but I figured I'd check and see if any readers had any interest before I post them for the eBay rabble. The pieces are currently at my office -- someone at work indicated they wanted to buy them on behalf of a tailor/friend, and she's blown me off for more than three months now, so I've given up. Amusingly, other folks passing by my office bought some of the pieces when they saw it draped over my guest chair. Two of the ladies are planning to have really swanky "goin' to a DC cocktail reception" suits made for themselves. They will look stunning.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in seeing the fabric/prices, let me know. I initially bought these pieces for myself, when I thought I could actually make a go of a wearable art business. That failed miserably, but the gorgeous silk & cool cotton remain.

Fun story - I was mugged at knifepoint by a member of an ethnic Chinese meth gang at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok the day I bought this fabric. The silk vendor I loved to work with came down from the north every weekend to sell handwoven marvels on behalf of the ladies in her village, and she worked on a cash-only basis. Let's just say I was relieved of a considerable amount of money that day by some punk with a bad 80s haircut - complete with pink streaks - and wraparound shades. And a knife. A really big knife.

Good times, good times!

I won't say any more about that day -- eventually, it'll end up in a book, I hope.

For now, my lovely fabric needs a new home or two or three. Drop me a line (addy is in my profile) if you have a hankering for some textile goodness. Most expensive piece, fyi, would be $51, plus shipping. I'll take photos once I'm back at work for anyone interested. Variety of cool colors, each length with a segment of plain brilliant color and a segment of an even more brilliant traditional ikat-style pattern.

UPDATE: click here for photos of the silk & cotton, with info and prices.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

There is no honor in dishonorable behavior

China is a empire with a long history. Silk, dragons, pasta, gunpowder, a remarkable ancient wall, good food... yeah we get it. But, dear China, I don't really give a crap about your thousands of years of history and "honor" when you twist the Olympics to make yourselves look better than you are.

If it turns out to be true, faking passports for underaged gymnasts is pretty foul. Unsportsmanlike. No honor there. Hiding away a small child who sang in the opening ceremonies because she wasn't attractive enough for the beauty standards of a member of the Politburo? Sick. Definitely no honor there, either. Claiming the filthy pollution that hangs in the Beijing air, a tangible sign of your horrible environmental practices, is just harmless "mist"? Ludicrous. Only allowing the English-language version of the state-run news to mention the murder of an American during the Games? Pathetic.

Deemed too unattractive for the Olympics

But the truth is, I expect no less from an enormous, dysfunctional communist country. I lived in one for several years, and I saw how it was rotting from the inside. Corrupt, blind, diseased, bloated with that weird sense of pride and need to win that comes from desperation, with most people living in toothless poverty. China now is worse than the Soviet Union ever was. The West is scared of what this regime can do. They have weapons - but not only of the conventional and nuclear variety. Their greatest weapon is a teeming population and an industrial base that churns out crap products that flood the world's markets each and every day. Turn over every shoddy product you find in your local dollar store, and I'll bet you dollars to donuts, 9 out of 10 will have been made in some slave wage crap factory in China.

And yet, right now, here is the whole world, smiling in Beijing.

I was nauseated during the opening ceremonies, listening to NBC veteran Bob Costas and NBC's China analyst Joshua Cooper Ramo fawning over all the pageantry offered up by the Chinese government. Repeatedly, they noted how the artistic presentation would be a tribute to Chinese history, broken into the "historical era" and modern day China. Amazingly, the segment on modern day China somehow bypassed Tiananmen Square. Oh, how I love the selective memory of totalitarianism!

Perhaps the most sickening moment of the opening ceremonies came when the Olympic flag was handed over by a group of childen to a squad of goose-stepping soldiers to run up the flagpole. NBC's smarmsters for the evening oohed and ahhed and said how this transfer of a flag of peace and sport from children to soldiers was symbolic of how the people of China are grateful to their government.

Quote from Ramo: "I think it's a profound statement that will resonate in the hearts of the more than 1 billion Chinese watching this tonight, the idea that the state is the guarantor of the future of those children in a country that for so long could not guarantee the safety or stability of the society for generations of children."

What the hell?!?

Joshua, dude, are you out of your fucking tree? What safety is there for anyone with independent thought in today's China?

Look, it's true, goose-stepping soldiers always make an powerful impression. History (and science fiction films) confirms that fascists always look spiffy. Great uniforms, snappy marching songs, trains that run on time... But they also scare the living crap out of thinking people everywhere and leave their own people oppressed, confused, underinformed, and trapped in the rough, crushing grip of their massive hand.

Anytime we give them a pass so we don't offend them, the shame and dishonor falls squarely on us. Shame on NBC for that opening night fawning. Shame on the IOC for letting the Chinese get away with doctored passports for underaged gymnasts. Shame on the IOC for being afraid of offending the paranoid "host country."

Screw them. The IOC did not have to offer the games to China in the first place. Hey, China! You guys treat the majority of your people like isolated pieces of garbage - here, have some Olympic goodness and lots and lots of money!

We have long known what a despicable regime runs China. A regime so scared that free information to its citizens will weaken its pathetic hold over the world's most populous nation, yet such a delusional bully that it staunchly defends the limited freedoms offered to its people. Why reward them? I know that some will argue that having the Games in China is a boost to the Chinese people themselves. While that may offer a feel-good fortnight, it's a temporary high for people in need of regime change.

Did any of you catch the press conference after the women's team gymnastics competition? As you might recall, sometimes I accidentally end up watching Chinese TV (or free porn) on one of my cable channels. Yesterday, I found myself watching the press pepper the gymnasts with questions. I couldn't understand a word, yet the faces of the athletes said everything. The Americans, while disappointed by their loss, were still smiling, flexible, vocal. The Chinese girls - the gold medal winners - all looked scared and nervous. Part of that may be a function of their extreme youth. But most of it seemed to be fear of saying anything wrong. You win a gold medal, you should be beaming and proud, not terrified. I feel very bad for any Chinese Olympians who don't finish these games without the medals their government expects.

For the record, yes, I know, in this dark, horrible era of U.S. history, it may not be the place of any American to cast stones at China. Our government has suffocated Iraq under a cancerous blanket of "freedom", and I flinched when President Bush chose to chastise China only when he was already at their doorstep, about to arrive to celebrate the Games. Frankly, no one in the Bush administration should be the first to cast a stone at China. But I don't work for this president, nor did I vote to elect him.

And I will gladly throw a stone at the Chinese government. You dishonor the spirit of the Games with fake passports and fake singers. Shame on you.

And shame on those who tacitly condone it. Or, worse, ignore it.

Shame, shame, shame.

It is my sincere hope that, someday, China's people will experience true freedom. It also scares the bejeezus out of me because when (not *if*) it happens, it will usher in an age of chaos and Wild West behavior that will make Russia's transition from the Soviet Union look like a trip to Romper Room.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Handy Hint for Accident Victims

We all know the advice to always wear clean undies, just in case of an accident. (And dear god, I hope all of us are wearing clean undies at all times, frankly.) But here's another choice sliver of accident wisdom: if you have big, mysterious bruises on your leg and your lawyer wants photos of said bruises, make sure you shave your legs and get a little sun before you start snapping away. Otherwise, your leg might resemble the flesh of a hairy, sun-avoiding, vampire chicken.

I'm so horrified, I'm not even posting the photo where you can clearly see my goosepimply white chicken leg. But this dark, flashless photo will still give you a good idea of the type of bruises I ended up with this time around:

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Back from the ER..

No nice drugs this time. I had an EKG because of the chest vs. steering wheel impact and x-rays to see why my gut hurt so much. Hopefully, that is just more temporary damage from the steering wheel. However, since they're not sure, no zippy pain-relieving pharmaceuticals. Just me, ice packs, the sofa, and the generic ibuprofen I bought last night in what appears to be a fleeting moment of brilliant foresight.

While I was at the ER for three hours, there was quite the parade of injuries:

1. A man who cut his leg on the ferris wheel at the county fair (where I'd hoped to be tomorrow evening, taking neon shots)
2. A guy who'd burned his hand on an industrial incinerator (EEEK)
3. A teen who had been hit by a car and did a somersault over the hood of said car
4. Someone who'd been knocked in the head by a railroad crossing bar (I think you get extra style points just for the bizarreness of that!)

I was very boring in comparison.

Time to stop. Five minutes at the keyboard is enough.

Thanks, folks, for the nice words and sympathy! I'll be beaming you very kind thoughts in return, from the safety of the sofa. The comfy, comfy sofa. Where I will be for the next couple of days...

Before I slip into incoherent power-lounging with ice packs, a serious moment:

Rest in peace, Bernie Mac. He seemed like a pretty decent soul, and I really dug his show - in fact, I was watching an episode late last night. Folks, never take respiratory ailments for granted. Take it from someone who's had a scary bout of pneumonia - it moves fast and will mess you up.

Sorry to see yet another talented person die far too soon. Adios, Bernie.

Could I go six months without an accident, please?

Coming back to my apartment after a doctor's appointment this fine Saturday morning, a young man decided it would be smart to whip out of street parking and make a u-turn directly in front of my on-coming vehicle. Result: his car is trashed, the front end of mine is fucked up, he's been ticketed for failure to yield, and I'm about to leave for the emergency room.


My head hurts, my neck hurts, and my lower back now feels like someone is stabbing me, over and over again.

Seriously, this is happening with way too great a frequency. I'm just not amused. At all.

Fucktard drivers of the DC metropolitan area: stay the hell away from me. PLEASE!

Just what I wanted: more quality time with pharmaceuticals and ice packs. Feh!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Radio commentary link added to blog

The link for my "tourist advice" commentary has been added to the "RADIO, RADIO" menu on the right. You can also click here to listen. They had to edit a couple of bits for time, alas. It's not my finest piece, but I'm just warming back up.

And yes, for those who want to know - the stuff I mention in the commentary? All painfully true. Ask me sometime about the would-be panda owner and his explanation for the rarity of pandas in China...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Radio, Radio: Tourists Say the Darndest Things Edition

Holy moley, it's been a loooong time since I've been on the air! But, lo and behold, just in time for the height of tourist season, I'm back on WAMU's Metro Connection show tomorrow with a short commentary kvetching about insane, yet true (horribly, hilariously true) things I've heard and seen tourists do here in DC.

I'm willing to bet most of us here in DC (and any of you living in a tourist town) have encountered episodes of appalling tourist behavior and/or displays of willful ignorance (or the fine work of the American education system.) Bummer that I recorded this commentary before the tourist kid did the rainbow yak all over me in the Metro station recently. That would have been the perfect capper to this piece. "Whatever you do, do not stuff your child with fruit punch, popcorn, and cotton candy on a 95-degree day. In fact, don't ever stuff your child with this particular variety of carboliciousness. And if you do, please do not point this volatile vomit comet in my direction in a crowded public venue."

Ah, opportunities missed!

Metro Connection is broadcast at 1 p.m. on WAMU, 88.5 FM here in the DC area. You can also listen live at Or, for your listening convenience, Metro Connection is now available as a podcast! You can subscribe to the Metro Connection podcast or download the latest show here on NPR's website. How cool is that? Now, I can aurally harass you at your leisure in your car or on the Metro! Neat!

Thanks, as always, for listening.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Interview With a Silverback

Recently, wildlife researchers made the astounding discovery of an estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas, living in a swamp forest in the Republic of Congo. This mindboggling revelation doubles the number previously estimated for the worldwide population of these rare creatures. Sadly, Western lowland gorillas are still endangered, even with their known numbers increased, and they face extinction because of the tremendous threats to their well-being and environment.

Today's remarkable news has sent a shockwave through the wildlife conservation community, and the question remains: how is it that no one has ever found these gorillas before?

To uncover the answer to this and other burning questions, I have turned to Modubowange, senior silverback in this enormous newly-found gorilla community.

Merujo: Modubowange, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me.

Modubowange: My pleasure, and please - call me "Modub."

Merujo: Thanks, Modub. I have so many questions!

Modub: No problem. Fire away, and, just so you know, I may need to make this short. There's been a lot of press today, and the battery on the satphone is dying.

Merujo: So, how is that we're only finding out about your community now?

Modub: Well, it's not as if we're invisible, you know. I mean, we're gorillas - large, black animals on a lush green background? It's not like a "Where's Waldo?" game. The Congo *has* been mapped before, you know. I've been expecting guys from some cable channel to show up and start filming us for ages now. I have no clue what took you guys so long. A 125,000-gorilla encampment? It's the size of a liberal arts college town, for god's sake.

Merujo: So, you weren't trying to hide?

Modub: Uhhh, not really. Like I said, we're gorillas. We go where the food and water is plentiful. It's not brain surgery. Something to chew on, something to drink, and yeah, we're pretty happy. Sure, I've been aiming to stay "off the grid" but that's just because I'm so tired of the reality TV lifestyle that plagues most African wildlife. All these goddamn nature show TV guys angling to catch us in glorious hi-def. Look, if you're relaxing at home, do you really want some stranger with a camera filming every clogged pore, scratched ass or monkey fart for middle America to ooh and ahh over?

Merujo: Point taken. Well, it's clear you've stayed well off the grid until now. Yours is a totally renewable lifestyle, right? Living off fruits, leaves, shoots... a solar-powered life, if you will...

Modub: And wind-powered, too.

Merujo: Wind-powered?

Modub: Ever been around 125,000 gorillas who drink swamp water? Yeah, we got wind power, alright! Heh heh, I kid, I kid! I'm a kidder. But seriously, jeeezus, gorilla gas is powerful bad.

Merujo: 125,000 gorillas. That's an impressive number. It seems there's no problem with fertility and reproduction.

Modub: Why, thank you!

Merujo: Pardon?

Modub: I said, thank you. For complimenting my mighty manhood. (beats chest, shrieks)

Merujo: Uhhh... are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?

Modub: Why, yes!

Merujo: There have to be thousands of infants and juveniles in that group. Are you saying--

Modub: Yep. All mine. Mine, mine, mine.

Merujo: That's inconceivable.

Modub: That's what she said! (stops, snorts, and beats chest) Sorry, I just love that joke. I know, it's so tired! So dumb! But yeah, seriously, they're all mine. What can I say: Modub, mo' luv. I am a machine. Sure, I am one tired-ass silverback. But satisfied. Deeply, deeply satisfied. Two words of advice for all the guys out there: rest and hydrate.

Merujo: Huh. Hydration is key, huh?

Modub: Why do you think we live on a swamp? Heh heh heh.

Merujo: Well, now I've gotta ask - how do you keep so many females satisfied?

Modub: You know, I'm just a guy. Just a guy. Anyone can achieve satisfaction with their mate. Or mates. Or favored alpha females. It's about technique and variety and really being a caring, loving partner. Plus, I've watched that kama sutra "instructional video" on Netflix download a few times.

Merujo: Pardon?

Modub: Get this - we "appropriated" this laptop from some trust fund baby pseudo-researcher while she was taking photos of bugs. Bugs! She's spending 10 minutes setting up some macro photo of some friggin' fly on a leaf like she's Ansel Fucking Adams and completely misses the gorillas cruising her tent. Good job, Wild Kingdom Girl! People forget - we have OPPOSABLE THUMBS and we can grab shit. Handy hint, Ranger Rick: we are stealthy and mysterious as midnight, and we can steal stuff from your camp so fast, your head will spin! I'd like to thank this particular chick for the solar batteries and charger, too. We've hacked her Netflix account and used up all her iTunes store credit. There is just so much Congolese drumming that anyone can handle, you know. I've discovered I really like the whole singer-songwriter genre. You know, a little Elliott Smith, Aimee Mann, Michael Penn... it's nice. But the ladies still love Barry White and some Love Unlimited Orchestra when the time is right, and you know what I mean, dontcha?

Merujo: Strangely, I think I do. So, what was your reaction when the conservationists showed up to do this head count survey.

Modub: (sighs) Oh man, I knew it was coming someday. I mean, 125,000 gorillas wandering around a huge swamp... some tool is eventually going to find you... First dude who showed up? He tried to lie down next to me and do the whole Dian Fossey routine, you know, "become one with the primates." I got right in his grill and was like, "Man, I knew Dian Fossey. Dian Fossey was my friend. And you, sir, are no Dian Fossey." He backed off pretty fast. Don't fuck with the silverback, man! I will cut you! Well, not really, but... you know what I mean. Gotta look tough.

Merujo: Now that you've been outed, what are your plans?

Modub: (sighs again) Well, I'm not sure. We're gonna have to move, of course. Ever try to relocate 125,000 knuckle-walking primates? God, that will suck, but we'll have to do it. Cuz now, there will be a sea of eco-tourists showing up, dressed like goddamn Marlin Perkins, wanting to pet us. Gaaaah, makes me shudder. I need time to think, and I have to wait until the media circus dies down a bit. I've been considering hiring a PR guy. I have no idea how the press is going to portray us. I need to be clear with people that we're not like some strange cult, hiding out and trying to evade taxes or re-write the constitution. I don't have any delusions that I'm a biblical prophet. Although, I've gotta say, considering my family situation, I do have some sympathy for the crazies in the Little House on the Prairie gear down in Texas... Right now, I have Smithsonian calling in a few minutes, and then National Geographic. Discovery is sending out some film crew - they want to do "Gorilla Week" to follow up their insanely popular "Shark Week." I'm not sure if that's gonna work. I mean, we're mammals with brains larger than a frigging pea and, as I mentioned before, we have opposable thumbs. We're not just going swim around in the swamp and bite at chum for them. Unless the price is right. And hey, I'd like to meet those Mythbuster guys. I'd love to blow something up.

Merujo: Well, it's been a pleasure speaking with you. Is there any message you'd like to send to the people of the world?

Modub: Yeah, we could use a couple more laptops. PCs please, Netflix isn't configured for Macs. And a Wii. The kids really want a Wii. Look, I've gotta go. Food Network is interviewing one of my alpha females, Tongkowesi, for a show on raw food diets.

Merujo: Sure thing, Modub. Thanks so much. Hope we can do this again sometime.

Modub: My pleasure, babe. If you're ever in the Congo, you have my number. Peace out.

Modubowange: "I'm just a guy. Just a guy."