Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ugh

Hey kids,
I've been dealing with some kind of flu since Thursday night. By the time I finished the paper Friday night, I was miserable. No puking, although I got close yesterday. I've eaten twice today and my stomach seems okay, but I still feel I've been hit by a truck. If this is the swine flu, I don't think we have much to worry about. It's the first time I've been too sick to get out of bed since I can't remember when, but I'm slowly getting better. Not better enough to go to the laundromat, mind you, but better nonetheless.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nelson

Ben Nelson is a worthless, triangulating clown.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I hope this isn't a joke

I really, really, really, really hope this is for real and not some cruel internet joke.

Nice job, Scott

I gave Scott Powers his first job in the newspaper business, and I shoved him out the door when he got too good to remain stuck at a twice weekly.
He's becoming Errol Morris now. Here is a film well worth a bit of your time:

The Western Warrior - A boxer's journey to Northern Ireland from Scott Powers on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Little Man

Not seeing your wife and kids for several months makes you appreciate their presence more than I can sum up here.
Josie and I split up over a year ago for some good reasons, and reconciliation isn't likely, but I still love her and being around her. Not in a pining or desperate way, but in a "we were together a long time and she knows me better than anyone else" way.
I really miss the kids, but I think I miss their miniature versions more. Josh and Jmo (whom I did not get to see) are teenagers well into their own worlds, as they should be. Joshie is driving his mother and I crazy, but that's always been his role in life. I wish he took school seriously, but he doesn't and we can't make him. I know in my heart he will do just fine out in the world, but I wish he would work more now to make it not so hard later. Jmo is Josie Jr.; anyone who knows Josie probably gets what I mean by that.
I miss the little versions of the kids. The ones who relied on Josie and me, who would come up with some insight about the world and seek us out to share it. When you think about your kids, isn't that really the time you miss most? You know, when just your presence was so reassuring to them that they craved you like a drug? When you craved them like a drug?
Those days are gone, sadly, but those kids are heading out into the wonderous, maddening, scary world and I couldn't be happier for all of the things they will get to see and do and learn.
I just wish I could have one more day at the beach with six-year-old Josh and five-year-old Jamison. I think I would give the moon and stars for that.
Oh well...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Reminder

I just want to remind everyone who is not watching Sam Seder's Pilot Season followup on mydamnchannel.com that they are missing out on the reason why streaming internet content is the best thing since sliced bread.

Thanks

I want to thank all of the men and women past and present who serve in our country's military. America would be a much better place if our commitment to you was as strong as yours is to us. Here's hoping that Obama is serious about fixing the VA.
Anyway, today's a holiday. If it's raining, pass the time by going here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The curse

Just got in from Indy. The Crown Vic ran pretty hot the whole way, but was fine otherwise. I think I need to replace the thermostat this week.
Got back to the North Pole in time to catch the end of the Danica Patrick 500...er, I mean Indianapolis 500. No offense to Danica, she's legit and doing what she needs to do to insure money for a quality car every year, but the race is compelling enough on its own.
Looks like Helio is The Man. Good for him.
Marco crashes on the first lap? The Curse lives.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welcome Race Fans!

I'm home in Indy for the weekend, or most of it anyway. I got stuck at the day job for a half day yesterday before getting on the road, then had to run the heater for most of the eight-hour drive because the Crown Vic got a little too warm.
I got home around nine and caught up the wife and my super puppy, Butters. The house looks really good, as does Josie. She updated me on the local gossip and we discussed a few personal/financial matters. I was glad to be in the old house with the old dog and old wife. Very soothing, although ultimately fleeting.
Oh well, such is life.
I've written a bit about the contrasts between rural and metro living, but I really, really forgot how vulgar metropolitan Indianapolis is. It is so fucking loud. The town is extra packed with 500 fans this weekend, clogging the streets and bars.
As tough as the day job gets, I am grateful for it because it delivered me to the North Pole to enjoy the spring and summer. Don't get me wrong; I miss Josie and the kids, my mom, my sister and her boys, Starbucks, White Castle, Butters, Shapiro's Delicatessen, Iaria's, Colts and Pacers games on TV, Rita Eads and Mary Valeria Springman. But the actual bare essentials of North Pole life -- steady breezes off the Great Lakes, deer, eagles, skunks, no traffic, ridiculously nice and laid back people and all that water -- are terrific.
I'm about half way through my rounds. I saw Mom, Emy, Phil and the boys this morning, missed my Grandma Eads at her house and am about to deliver some Michigan scratchoffs to my generate gambler Grandma Springman. After that, I plan to connect with the noted military scholar James Tuttle and perhaps take in a party at one of our old classmate's homes. Tonight will be Josie and Josh time again, then on the road again tomorrow.
Cross your fingers for my poor old Crown Vic.

Torture

There's a scene in Reservoir Dogs where the late, great Christopher Penn cusses out his lackeys for torturing a cop, pointing out that the treatment would compel the poor guy to confess to starting the Chicago Fire.
Now we have a Chicago icon (and former skeptic) who has reached the same conclusion.
I know Reservoir Dogs a movie, but many a truth are said in movies. I quit taking torture (or 'enhanced interrogation techinques') advocates seriously years ago. Waterboarding is self-evidently torture, the U.S. executed Japanese soldiers for it after WWII and I'm appalled that my tax dollars paid for it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Another reason why the national media sucks ass

Cheney tries once again to defend his criminally mean and stupid conduct by taking pot shots at Obama. Who catches the shit for it? Obama's spokesman, of course!
Hannity and O'Reilly are right about the media, but wrong about who fucked it up.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

13 Days

I'm cruising On Demand and what do I find? 13 Days!
This dramatization of the Kennedy White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis is worth any history buff's time.
Bruce Greenwood is terrific as Pres. Kennedy. His Boston accent is just about pitch perfect, which is no mean feat. He accurately recreates Kennedy's deliberate, but not quite tentative, demeanor in the face of very, very strong demands from virtually all of his advisers to bomb the shit out of Cuba, no matter the consequences with the Soviets. Greenwood's Kennedy makes use of every minute he was, just as the President did during the crisis.
The supporting cast is pretty good, too, despite Kevin Costner's execrable stab at sounding like a Southie (he's good as the heart of the movie and I like most of his work, but the accent sucks in this one). Steven Culp (Desperate Housewives, Star Trek Enterprise) offers up a fine depiction of Bobby Kennedy wrangling with the hawks.
The real standout is Kevin Conway as Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. LeMay was the Pentagon's top nuclear zealot for years. He never bothered to hide his disgust for the Kennedys and later ran as George Wallace's VP candidate in 1968. Sterling Hayden's character in Dr. Strangelove was based partly on LeMay. Conway gets him perfectly here, summing up the hawk's inability to grasp the impact of instigating nuclear war.
Dylan Baker is also very good as Robert McNamara. McNamara is only remembered today as the guy who sold LBJ on Vietnam and then changed his mind too late. During the missile crisis, McNamara served much the same role as Bobby Kennedy, buttressing their president against an almost irresistible chorus for war. Baker's McNamara is uncertain, but never panicked or paralyzed.
The clip below is the best I could find on YouTube. Ignore Costner's accent and look for the movie the next time you're at the video store or on NetFlix.

Not soon enough

I bitched and moaned about the winter weather here at the North Pole, so, in fairness, I must say that spring is all the way here and it is gorgeous. The trees are full of birds one never sees in the Corn Belt, the breezes of the Great Lakes are just strong enough to bring relief without distraction and the water, while very cold, is turning a brilliant blue.
The day job is getting on my last nerve. My rag is an earner for the company, which keeps slashing our expenses nonetheless. I'm sorting through some personal stuff ahead of a trip home this weekend. Don't get me wrong; I'm looking forward to it. The personal stuff has to do with just how much my time and talent is worth. It's a buyer's market, I know, but working for people who all but dare you to quit is frustrating. The local boss is good, but his masters know they have me and rest of the help by the nuts and they aren't about to let go.
This is no ordinary time. I know there isn't another day job waiting for me out there like in years past. I'm glad to have the job and like the town. It's the wondering why non-newspaper people make all the money in the newspaper business today that gets to me.
Accountants and financiers have fucked up this business royally and it really pisses me off. What's the answer? I doubt there is the public will necessary for show trials and firing squads, so I'm reduced to bitching.
It sucks.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another reason to hate the media

Anyone who thinks NPR is liberal really, really needs to read this.

The World's Toughest Milkman

I think Grandma Springman would have been much less of a bully had Golden Guernsey sent Reid Fleming with the morning's milk back in the day.

The Tick

Why can't the Tick run 24 hours a day somewhere?

Checkers vs. Chess

The peerless Al Giordano explains the whole torture photo kerfuffle rather well here:
I also feel fairly confident that those photos will see the light of day during Obama’s first term, whether by court order or by whistleblower leak. And I think the President knows that very well, too, and is not bothered by it. For the President, the matter is tactical: whether the photos, once out, are perceived as having been released by his decision, or by somebody else’s hand, and tactically, the latter is so much more desirable in the context of other moves he is making to regain civilian control over an Armed Forces brass with rogue tendencies.
That’s a very different motive than the simpleton accusation that the President seeks to “cover up for Bush crimes.” This is the very same President, after all, that recently released 250,000 classified documents that tell the story behind those photos in far greater detail than 29 images ever could. If that's a "cover up," then give me more, please. So those that accuse that the motive is “cover-up” can bite me. I have zero respect for them and their effort to be make-believe prosecutors in the tradition of Roy Cohn. It’s a childish impulse and I choose, once again, to disassociate myself from anyone that plays that petulant game. If they really believe that Obama wants to protect Bush, they're idiots and I'll leave them at the children's table with cookies and milk.

As I've said before, Obama is playing chess and the rest of political-media junta is playing checkers.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Amen and double amen

Gee, who would have guessed that the banks we are propping up now don't give two shits about us?
Usury used to be against the law. Thanks to Bill Clinton, Phil Gramm, George W. Bush and several other cretins, it is now legal...and you and I are subsidizing it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prestigious

So, editing a newspaper sounds really glamorous and prestigious, huh?
Dig this little chestnut:
I'm doing a bit of shopping on my lunch break when I notice this guy out of the corner of my eye. He's staring daggers at me. He comes up and introduces himself as a regular writer of letters to the editor. He hates the paper, but wants his letters about Al Gore and the New World Order published. I told him that I read his latest screed and just could not run it...it was packed full of the unattributed crap you can find at freerepublic.com and townhall.com.
He starts screaming at me, accusing me of being a part of the new world order. He told me to go back to Indiana with all the other liberals.
Huh?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mouth breathers

Here is yet another reason why I don't take mouth breathers like Sean Hannity and his groupies seriously:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Good fucking riddance

Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake has picked up on a piece from Brian Howey's Indiana politics website about Evan Bayh and his future in the Democratic Party. Hamsher speculates that Bayh might see the Republican Party as his path to the presidency he has been running for since 1986.
Indiana and Utah are the only two places in this country where Bayh passes for a Democrat; he's a solid Republican everywhere else. Good fucking riddance to him and he can take Lieberman and Ben Nelson with him.

Idiotic

This is just idiotic. What does this guy's sex life have to do with his ability to translate? Honestly, what does it have to do with his ability to do his job?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Another scoop of my shit

Here's some more of my work in eternal progress, Black Helicopters:
Junior Kilborn had lived long enough to accept that his insufferable father outlived his sainted mother, but actually being around The Reverend Clayton Kilborn Sr. was still a chore. As a favor to his older and only brother, Junior invited their dad to dinner as a sort of test run for Thanksgiving, which was coming up in a few weeks.
It went okay. Junior was able to endure the Reverend's pious indignation and Lester's eager chatter with Kellie, Junior's girlfriend, about what the government had housed at Area 51.
By the time the men retired to the front porch, however, Junior was about done with his hosting duties.
“I think you’re both full of crap,” Junior grunted from his porch swing. “They’re ain’t no demons and there sure as Hell ain’t no little green men.”
“My God, I’m glad your mother can’t hear your filthy mouth,” the Reverend spat at his younger son. “You never heard such language in my house.”
Lester rose from his lawn chair and walked out under the clear, crisp Thursday night.
“Junior, are you tellin’ me that they aren’t other beings around any of these stars? As large as the universe is, there has to be other intelligences out there.”
“Lester, I’m more surprised at you,” the Reverend said, turning his attack to his older son. “All of those things in your books — rape, mutilation, kidnapping — how can you say that’s not Satanic? Any decent person should be able to see that…”
Junior spoke up to draw the fire away from his big brother.
“Like I said, you’re both full of crap. Les, if there is intelligent life out there, it’s too far away to git here. And there ain’t no such thing as demons; that’s jist some shit they say at church to scare people.”
The Reverend, perched precariously the old redwood bench at the end of the porch, was seething.
“My God, you don’t believe in anything, do you?” the Reverend said. “I can’t believe you’re my son.”
Silence fell over the porch like a wet blanket. Junior shook his head dismissively and took a sip from his vodka and grapefruit, making certain to look nonchalant and not to lose his rhythm on the swing. The Reverend glared at Junior and Lester shrugged his shoulders, knowing any comment would draw more fire from his brother or father.
With unwittingly bad timing, Kellie came out onto the porch and plopped down next to Junior on the swing.
The Reverend, already worked up by the whole discourse on aliens vs. demons vs. nothingness, stood up from the bench at the end of the porch.
“Lester, I’m ready to go home,” he announced.
Les looked over at Junior, who knew why his father could no longer take anymore of the conversation.
Junior had just enough vodka in him to bark, “What, Dad? She can cook your fuckin’ dinner, but she ain’t allowed in yer presence?”
“Clayton, I'm tired; it has nothing to do her,” the Reverend began icily as Lester helped him off the porch, “I’m sure Kellie is a nice girl, but as long as you brought it up, she had a husband when she took up with you. I will have no part of anyone with so little regard for marriage.”
Kellie, having heard this sermon before — many times before — grabbed Junior’s left arm in a feudal attempt to hold him down. Lester kept leading his father to the driveway.
“Yeah?” Junior barked. “Well she ain’t married to that drunk no more and even if she wuz it still wouldn’t be none of yer goddamn business.”
Junior was on his feet, despite Kellie’s best attempts to get him to sit back down.
Lester cringed as the Reverend glared back at Junior. Kellie was about to cry. The Reverend then uttered what they all assumed were the last words he would ever said to his namesake, Morgan County Sheriff Clayton “Junior” Kilborn:
“You have been nothing but trouble for me since your mother died. I have always tried to overlook the fact that you blame me — incorrectly — her death.
“When you got home from Korea, I arranged for you to get on with the Sheriff’s Department. You never bothered to thank me…
“THANK YOU?” Junior burst as he shot up off the swing. “I earned that goddamn job by almost gittin’ my ass shot off in Korea…and I earned every fucking promotion I ever got without you…”
The Reverend continued undeterred. “…for my help. I even kept quiet when you betrayed me and ran as a Democrat for Sheriff. God only knows what you promised that redneck Duffy to get him out of the race.
“But I will not ruin my good name by blessing your co-habitation with a married woman. Your brother here embarrassed me enough with the way that ex-wife of his carried on; at least she had the good taste to move over to the next town.”
Kellie could hear the white noise crackling in Junior’s brain, but she was able to keep him from lurching forward off the porch.
“Reverend, I think you should go now,” she said before things got any worse.
“Gladly,” he replied.
Kellie kept a firm hold on Junior's left arm as he stared daggers at his father, who crept slowly, but steadily, to Lester's truck.

Malloy

Mike Malloy won't allow for one second that Republicans and conservatives are reasonable, sincere citizens who just want a better world. That's why I worship him as my personal secular messiah.

Friday, May 8, 2009

5000

Check out the counter. I just hit 5000, which is not bad considering how sporadic my attention to this blog is. I want to thank my mom, Aunt Rose, Mike Bergen and myself for visiting everyday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

As I was saying before

You just can't make this stuff up.

More proof that the national Republican Party will be dead in a decade

I'm sort of amazed at the Republican leadership's inability to recognize how really fucked it is. Their fear of and fealty to Rush Limbaugh is really puzzling. He's not going to run for anything. His audience, while substantial, is mostly fixed. There is no groundswell to him, aside from congressional Republicans afraid of being mocked. They've lost the last two election cycles badly with him as their lead shill, but they just can't quit him.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The business as most of you know it is probably dying...maybe

Lapsednewsguy is a bit of a misnomer, as most of you know that I am currently editing a daily newspaper in northern Michigan.
The name reflects my conflicted relationship with the newspaper business, which has been wonderful and awful for me. It has fed my family, brought me professional recognition and respect, introduced me to thousands of nice, interesting people and, a few times, driven me very close to nervous collapse. There is no good without bad, I guess.
My work is different from most; brake pads and t-shirts can be made anywhere in the world, but local journalism has to be done locally. A rewrite guy on some desk in Chicago or Mumbai wouldn't be able to cover the school board well enough to attract the readership necessary to make any money. To sell ads and subscriptions, my readers need to know that I not only know my shit, but that I give a shit, too.
That's why my paper makes money. You heard me correctly: we make money every month. Take away the debt service of most corporate media parents and the big papers would make money, too. Most of the big newspapers you keep hearing about are operationally profitable. The idiots who run them racked up huge debt buying up other properties, stripping them down and trying to pump up ridiculous profit margins, all to justify oversized compensation and artificially high stock prices.
There was a time when a good year for a newspaper meant a 10 percent or so profit. That 10 percent today would get many publishers close to the chopping block.
Yes, the internet is hurting print products and said products may go away in another generation or two. That's the way our society is going; however, the daily newspaper's demise is not nearly as imminent as CNBC would have you believe. If the MBAs and salesmen who ran this business into the ground would get out of the way, you could probably read a newspaper every day to pass the time when you wind up at the old folks' home.

More writing on the wall

I have no use for Jane Harman, the conservative California Democrat who cares more about the Israel lobby than children, working people and students, but this story just fuels my inner tinfoil-hat-wearing conspiracy suspicions that the Bushies were using the Patriot Act to monitor and bully their domestic opponents.
I can't shake the notion that we are going to learn in the coming months and years that the political operation in Bush's White House was wiretapping every Democrat in D.C.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A glimpse into my muse

I've been working on one of my old literary classics, Black Helicopters, recently. Part of it deals with how much it sucks to be a young reporter working for a crappy paper owned by cheapskates. The young reporter in this story, Mark Wood (my dad's brother Mark attended Wood High School in the late 70s -- also the first and last names are monosyllabic and easy to remember), hasn't yet learned how to get older interview subjects to get to the point:
Mark needed to talk to someone who had actually seen a little green man. He went back out into the living room, opened the drawer to his little end table and pulled out the Morgan County phone book. He looked up Bill McCracken’s phone number. There was a slight problem: there were about 100 McCrackens in the county with listed numbers. Luckily for Mark, only three of them had the first name “William.” He dialed the first number. It was answered on the second ring.
“Hello? Is this the Bill McCracken residence?” Mark asked.
“Yes, who is this,” the person asked.
“My name is Mark Wood and I work for the Spotlight,” Mark said. “I’m calling about a report on the radio station about a big sinkhole out your way.”
“Oh, that was my son’s place. I’m Bill Senior, Mr. Wood,” he said. “Yeah, he’s jist across the road out here. I’ll tell ya, it was the damndist thing I ever seen. I was over there getting’ his copy of the Spotlight — ya know, I’m retired and I cain’t afford that $40 y’all want every year fer the paper — and we were jist out there talking ‘bout his family bein’ gone down in Florida an’ ya know how bad the corn was this year? Well, it was bad and we was jist talkin’ how everybody out here to Monrovia and Hall is doin’…
Mark was in Hell. “Why can’t this old man tell me what I want to know?” he thought to himself.
The senior McCracken just kept going. “…then all the sudden, the ground starts shakin’. Well, I don’t know where yer from, Mr. Wood, but the ground don’t shake ‘round here. I’m 75 and I kin remember maybe one little-bitty earthquake in my whole life. Now, if this was California, well then I could see it, but not ‘round here...

Nicely

Here's a snippet from Frank Rich's NYT column this morning that buttresses the previous post rather nicely:
You can’t blame the president if he is laughing, too. As The Economist recently certified, the G.O.P. is now officially in the throes of “Obama Derangement Syndrome.” The same conservative gang that remained mum when George W. Bush praised Putin’s “soul” and held hands with the Saudi ruler Abdullah are now condemning Obama for shaking hands with Hugo Ch├ívez, “bowing” to Abdullah, relaxing Cuban policy and talking to hostile governments. Polls show overwhelming majorities favoring Obama’s positions. But his critics have locked themselves in the padded cell of an alternative reality. Not long before The Wall Street Journal informed its readers that 81 percent of Americans liked Obama, Karl Rove wrote in its pages that “no president in the past 40 years has done more to polarize America so much, so quickly.”

Bingo

I saw this item at Firedoglake.com this morning. It's a nice sample of just how deranged the wingnut right has become since it came to grips with its growing irrelevance.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Break Room Live

Another of my obsessions is Break Room Live, Marc Maron and Sam Seder's daily hour of fun and frivolity. Air America doesn't deserve them, but such is life, I guess.