Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Order of the Great American Chickenhawk?

Courtesy of Tom Tomorrow's blog, The Generik Brand has learned about a contest sponsored by Operation Yellow Elephant to encourage college students and others to post signs on or near campuses around the country exposing the hypocrisy of College Republicans and other young conservatives who loudly support the war in Iraq but have no plans of enlisting themselves. Writers at OYE and the Freeway Blogger will pick a winner (with valuable prizes being offered!) from photographs of these signs submitted to them before September 30, 2005. Show these hypocrites as the cowards they really are!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Time to Take a Stand

The great Helen Thomas has a column out today that cuts right to the chase and tells Democrats in no uncertain terms that they need to start calling for a withdrawal of military forces from Iraq or face the prospect of remaining forever a minority party in Washington. Here at the Generik Brand, we couldn't agree more. With the numbers growing day by day (37% approval for the administration's handling of the war, 58% disapproval), it should be a slam-dunk cinch for the opposition party to start demanding a withdrawal of our troops, or, at the very least, some answers from the motherfucking bloodthirsty chickenhawk bastards folks in charge. It's been sickening for us to have to listen to the tortured mewlings of Joe Lieberman and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton (and too many others) as they try to rationalize their stance of supporting Preznit Bring 'Em On's war. During the '04 election, we were convinced (and remain so) that if Kerry had come out strongly against the war -- the way Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich did -- that he would have been successful in his quest.

Here are just a few quotes from the estimable Ms. Thomas:

"Would the Republicans have hesitated to challenge the Democrats if the shoe were on the other foot? Did the opposition party give President Clinton any slack while he was in office?

"What is the logic of Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Joseph Biden, D-Del., and other so-called moderate Democrats still backing the unprovoked war in Iraq when they know they were sold a bill of goods?

"Both Clinton and Biden are presumed presidential contenders in 2008. That leaves Democratic voters -- many of whom are anti-war -- with no choice if either wins the party nomination.

"Can Biden and Clinton give young men and women any valid reason why they should lay down their lives in a war that we didn't have to fight in the first place?"

This is very much like a discussion that has been going on over at fellow BARBARian Shystee's blog (which itself was carried over from a conversation at Digby's) for a few days now. On the one hand, it seems like now is the time to go after the Republicans and try to regain the majority in DC by electing Democrats in '06 and '08; on the other hand, how, in good conscience, can those of us who have opposed the war since before it even started vote for Dems who want to continue to send troops over there to fight and die for a lie? How can we vote for Dems who are still skipping down the garden path, holding hands with Preznit Yellow Streak? The argument that "we have to keep getting our kids killed so that the kids who have already been killed will not have died in vain" holds no water here (and has already been dealt with on this site in the recent past). It's time that we, the people, let our elected representatives know that we expect them to follow our lead and end the bloodshed in a timely manner -- and stop perpetuating the travesty that Bush and his neocon cabal have foisted upon us and the rest of the world.

(Thanks to Pete for the Helen Thomas link.)

Monday, August 29, 2005

Face of a Nation

73-year-old Bill Moyer, a veteran of Korea and Vietnam, wearing his Bullshit Protector at Preznit Smirking Bully's speech to the VFW in Salt Lake City a week ago.

I can't get over how much I like this picture (I like it so much I'm posting it again). The story about some members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars wearing these things on their ears and showing blatant disrespect for the Chickenhawk in Chief warms my heart. You've got to love gruff old guys like Bill Moyer who see through all the jingo and the platitudes and the cliches and the fake patriotism that Commander Bunnypants spouts in lieu of any real, meaningful information. When guys like him and other VFW members turn their back on the Preznit, you know the shark has been jumped, the tipping point has been reached.

Apparently Bill and his pals caused quite the Presidential snit by their actions, too. Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue reports that Dumbya unleashed a tirade of obscenities on his aides after the VFW affront, saying "...tell those VFW assholes that I'll never speak to them again if they can't keep their members under control." Thompson says that these behind the scenes hissy-fits are becoming more and more common as the country finally wakes up to what a fraud and a phony the Preznit is, and his poll numbers continue to tumble. (In the same story, Bush is quoted as saying about Cindy Sheehan, "I'm not meeting again with that goddamned bitch! She can go to hell as far as I'm concerned!" All class, that guy.) If only they'd seen that a year ago...

Of course, there's also this clip, showing just what a classy and upstanding guy Preznit I Hate America really is. Like we didn't know already.

Let Their People Go

My good friend Eric the DiscoBoy forwards this link to a story about a group of ultra-right wing fundamentalist Christians who want to take over the government one county at a time. They're calling themselves Christian Exodus, and they have plans to move by the thousands to a couple of small counties in South Carolina, where they hope to elect people beholden to their radical beliefs and ultimately provoke a "constitutional crisis." Whether they expect the Supreme Court to then rule in their favor and allow the US to become a full-fledged theocracy or rule against them and give them cause to secede from the Union is unclear; but either way, they honestly believe that they are going to force the government's hand on the matter.

Personally, I say let them go, let them have South Carolina (and North Carolina, too, for that matter). I'd rather have all those idiots in one place, where we can keep a watchful eye on them, and observe the inevitable implosion that will result from their attempts at creating a Taliban-style state.

(Not that I really believe they'll be successful... but wouldn't it be nice to think that all the fundies who are now your and my neighbors would soon be packing up and moving away? Of course, if you actually live in South Carolina now -- hello, Joe Nance! -- you might not think this is such a swell idea.)

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Horrors of War

I debated and debated on whether to post this link here or not, and I've finally decided that it is important for this to get out. A friend passed the link along to me, with the warning that the pictures posted at this site are extremely graphic and disturbing. I took a look at just a couple of them, and they are stomach-turningly horrific, much more gruesome than anything that we've seen from Abu Ghraib or in the general media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The site is a bulletin board that many military members have used in the past to post nudie pictures of their wives and girlfriends. Personally, I find that a little bit lowbrow (amusing though it may be), but whatever; I have no real problem with pictures of naked women. However, it has now become a site where images from the two wars are posted, and the photos are chilling. What is just as chilling, if not more so, is the attitude of the folks who post there, all swagger and chest-thumping bravado at the killing of other people. This is what war does to our sons and daughters; it dehumanizes them, it makes them capable of taking pictures like these and of being proud to have posted them for the world to see. Would you want to spend much time with a fellow who proudly posts pictures of what he terms "barbecued hajis"? How will these people impact society if and when they return from combat?

I have to wonder how even the most rabid 101st Fighting Keyboarder would react when confronted with images like the ones posted there. Or how the war supporters in DC would feel upon viewing them, not to mention your average American out there in the heartland. Surely some of them might rethink their support for the travesty in Iraq if they were to view the horrors exposed in these photographs. If that's not the case, then we certainly have lost the moral high ground and nearly all sense of humanity, and we don't deserve the status or the responsibility of being the world's most powerful nation.

MoDo Gets It Right

I'm not generally a big fan of Maureen Dowd, finding her too often vapid and lightweight, but her column yesterday really hits the Preznit nail on the head.

"For political reasons, the president has a history of silence on America's war dead. But he finally mentioned them on Monday because it became politically useful to use them as a rationale for war -- now that all the other rationales have gone up in smoke.

"'We owe them something,' he told veterans in Salt Lake City (even though his administration tried to shortchange the veterans agency by $1.5 billion). 'We will finish the task that they gave their lives for.'

"What twisted logic: With no WMD, no link to 9/11 and no democracy, now we have to keep killing people and have our kids killed because so many of our kids have been killed already? Talk about a vicious circle: The killing keeps justifying itself."

Check it out for yourself (and a tip of the Generik hat to Pete for pointing that out).

227.50 Cans of Jolt Cola + Me = Death

Cafe au lait... or cup of steaming death?

How much caffeine would it take to kill you? How many cups of coffee or cans of Diet Pepsi or glasses of iced tea would it take to put you down? Take this quick and easy test and find out.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Onward Christian Assassins

So it would appear at first glance that Rev'runt Pat Robertson has apologized for his intemperate remarks about assassinating Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Of course, if you look a little closer, you discover that what he has actually done is taken a page from the Rush Limbaugh CYA School of Newspeak, by denying that he said what actually he said, and expressing regret that the media and the public may have taken the remarks that he really didn't say and didn't mean that way anyway out of context.

In the course of his "apology" he also referred to Chavez as a "strong-arm dictator," ignoring the fact that the people of Venezuela fairly elected him twice (which is more than our own strong-arm dictator can say), and by a larger margin than Pat's Preznit got here in America.

Then there's this post over at Ishbadiddle explaining the whole thing in quite another context... (thanks to UnReal Fred for that).

Guide to Wingnuttia

Our respected colleague (and former -- but still honorary -- BARBARian), John C from Blogenlust, sends us this link to an extremely useful guide to Wingnut Logic that he's put together, and I would urge all of you to check it out. You can also add your own laws or corollaries, or just a leave a comment on what's already been written. For instance:

Blogenlust's Law:

As an online discussion among wingnuts grows longer, the probability that a Clinton will be blamed for something approaches 1 (i.e., certainty).

Great stuff there, take a look!

An American Hero

Who provided this guy with his protection from Bush's aural assault? Can we get these things produced in mass quantities and distributed to red state residents ASAP?

No surprise here that the story published in the Canada National Post yesterday told once again of Dear Leader repeating his lies and distortions to mostly-adoring crowds in the few strongholds of popularity that he has left. Preznit Dumbfuckya has been demonstrating again and again lately that his divorce with reality is all but final -- it appears that it's all over but the paper-signing. If I may quote from any one of his many recent speeches: "9/11, 9/11, stayin' the course, 9/11, as long as I'm preznit, 9/11, fightin' 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here, 9/11, 9/11, bring 'em on, 9/11, full of resolve, not gonna leave until we win the war on terra, 9/11," etc. etc. etc., what a maroon ad infinitum.

No, what's surprising is the accompanying picture of the guy wearing a Bullshit Protector over his ears. How did he get past the Gestapo Secret Service and other various handlers and watchdogs who keep the Preznit from ever coming too close to reality? I wonder if he got kicked out before the rally was over. Whoever he is, that guy is my new hero.

(Thanks to my friend Scott for sending me the link to this.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Republican Liars and Hypocrites (But I Repeat Myself)

Last week I made a post about the current crop of thin-skinned Republican crybabies occupying the elected offices and bully pulpits of the nation, and at one point I referred to them as "hypocrites." Thanks to the good folks at Crooks and Liars (and thanks also to my pal Dean in Connecticut for pointing this out to me), I have solid evidence to back up that claim of rank hypocrisy. Here is a long list of comments made by Republican lawmakers and their media shills about Bill Clinton's foray into Kosovo; see if they don't seem awfully familiar to you... and then try to imagine what these same people would say if their own comments were now directed by Democrats at our current Thief Executive.

For instance:

"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it."

- Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/5/99

"If we are going to commit American troops, we must be certain they have a clear mission, an achievable goal and an exit strategy."

- Karen Hughes, speaking on behalf of presidential candidate George W. Bush

"I had doubts about the bombing campaign from the beginning... I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."

- Senator Trent Lott (R-MS)

"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our overextended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today."

- Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

"Explain to the mothers and fathers of American servicemen that may come home in body bags why their son or daughter have to give up their life?"

- Sean Hannity, Fox News, 4/6/99

"You can support the troops but not the president"

- Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

"Bombing a sovereign nation for ill-defined reasons with vague objectives undermines the American stature in the world. The international respect and trust for America has diminished every time we casually let the bombs fly."

- Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX)

There's plenty more, check it out.

Nine Out of Ten Ain't Bad

Is anyone surprised anymore by anything Pat Robertson says? Now he's calling for the covert assassination of a leader of a sovereign nation, and where, oh where, is the outrage? His 700 Club supporters just nod their heads, say amen and write him checks. His pals in Congress and the White House grin and shake their heads, saying, oh, that's just Pat. You know, you can't take him too seriously, heh. Remember when he suggested that a small nuclear device be exploded in the Foggy Bottom area of DC, thus eliminating the State Department? Ha, that was a good one! How about asking God to kill off one or more Supreme Court justices a while back?

Maybe Pat should have a copy of the Ten Commandments posted in his office, with special emphasis, like bold, italicized lettering, for the one about killing.

And people actualy take this loon seriously?!?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Two Cents, Fifteen Minutes

For those of you who missed my appearance in the Two Cents column of Saturday's SF Chronicle, you can find it online here. I swear, they keep cropping that picture closer and closer every time they run an answer of mine. Before long, the entire picture will consist of nothing but my left eyeball.

Does That Come in XXL?

Around the corner from my front door, on Polk Street near Post, there is a head shop that has been in the neighborhood for, oh, probably 15 years or so. It's called Sardar's Hi Times, and is run by a couple of Sikh fellows who I assume are probably brothers (or maybe cousins, I don't know). Lately, among the bongs and roach clips and hash and crack pipes on display, among the ceramic statues of undressed women and dragons and barbarians wielding axes (none resembling any of the BARBARians I know and love so well, of course), among the patches reading "Fucker" and "Lick Me" and "Rock Out With Your Cock Out", nestled prominently amidst the Slipknot and Slayer and Metallica T-shirts, is a bright red T-shirt that sports the smiling visage of George W. Bush surrounded by the words "BEST PRESIDENT EVER!!!"

I'm not sure what to think of that. On the one hand, I find it highly amusing that such a shirt would be sold in what he and his supporters, I'm sure, would consider a den of iniquity. Were former Attorney General John Ashcroft to walk into the store, you can bet the feds would be there moments afterward to shut it down and take the proprietors to jail. But I also have to wonder if Sardar the Sikh and/or his brother/cousin are serious. Do they really believe Bush is the best president ever? Is the shirt supposed to be taken ironically? The picture of him is fairly goofy-looking, but not so much as to immediately turn the shirt into a joke. I can easily see some know-nothing 22-year-old with a neck the same color as the shirt buying it and wearing it proudly. So I'm puzzled and bemused -- not that this is a foreign state of affairs for me, I'm often puzzled and bemused at any number of things and events -- and just wondered what, if anything, you readers of this site might have to say on the subject. Do you think the shirt is to be taken at face value, or is it meant to be an ironic comment on the man who, IMHO, is by far the WORST PRESIDENT EVER!!!...? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller...?

***UPDATE*** As of this morning (Tuesday, 8/23), the shirt in question, which had been prominently displayed right in the middle of the window for the past month or more, is gone. It's been replaced by a completely innocuous (not to mention vacuous) black T-shirt that reads "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation San Francisco."

And though Mr_Blog (in comments) has a point about Sikhs in this country perhaps playing it safe by opting to demonstrate that they are on the same side as the current administration in the so-called War on Terror, I wonder if that position plays as well in SF as it might in, say, Omaha or Toledo.

Not a Date Movie

Over the weekend I had the occasion to see what might be one of the best movies out right now, The Aristocrats. It also might be the most repellent and off-putting movie of all time, simply because of its subject matter. The movie is a documentary of sorts that focuses on a single joke, apparently known far and wide among stand-up comics and show business folks, but largely unheard (until now) by the general public.

Let me just start off by saying that joke in question is (or can be -- there are infinite permutations to the telling of it) easily the most disgusting, raunchy, filthy, crude, vile, ugly, nasty, obscene -- did I mention disgusting? Did I mention vile? -- joke that anyone has ever heard, anywhere, any time, ever. The initial telling of the joke by George Carlin is potentially a deal-breaker in itself, enough to make anyone without a strong stomach and a broad sense of black, gallows humor walk out before the film even gets started. If you can grimace and cringe and scream your way through Carlin's version of it, it's all downhill from there. But make no mistake, it is a bad, bad joke.

That said, the movie itself is one of the funniest films I have ever seen. It features a veritable Who's Who of comedians, comic actors and writers and other folks either telling the joke themselves or telling stories about others telling the joke or otherwise commenting on it in some fashion. The cast ranges from old-timers like Shelley Berman, Phyllis Diller, Don Rickles and Larry Storch to more current practitioners of the comedic art like Dom Irreira, Jake Johannsen, Larry Miller, Andy Dick, and dozens of other stalwarts and lesser lights. Robin Williams. Whoopi Goldberg. Jason Alexander. Michael McKean and Harry Shearer. Billy Connolly. Eddie Izzard. Bruce Vilanch. Bobby Slayton. Paul Reiser. Bob Saget (!!). Fred Willard. Rita Rudner. Carrot Top (??). Sarah Silverman. Chris Rock. Dave Thomas. Rip Taylor. The Smothers Brothers. Jon Stewart. Merrill Markoe. Penn and Teller (Penn Jillette produced and Paul Provenza directed). Lewis Black. David Steinberg. David Brenner. Drew Carey. Carrie Fisher. Dana Gould. Eric Idle. Bill Maher. Andy Richter. Martin Mull. The editorial staff of The Onion. And the real star of the movie, the incandescent Gilbert Gottfried (yes, that Gilbert Gottfried), for whom I have a new-found respect after seeing his performance.

The movie is more than just a telling and retelling of one joke, though. It is, in a larger sense, a commentary on the nature of comedy itself, on how people can find amusement in subjects that don't -- or shouldn't -- necessarily lend themselves to comedy, on taboos and changing mores in society, and a complete deconstruction of the joke through the course of the movie. There is also an element of tribute to the people who have made modern comedy what it is today, a tip of the hat to the early vaudeville comics that paved the way for today's situational observers and comic actors that make us laugh at ourselves and our shortcomings. Plus, by the end of the movie, you feel as though you're a member of the group, a comic insider with a secret shared only by other insiders and members of the comedic brother- (and sister) hood.

Which is why I won't tell the joke here. Because that would A) spoil it, and B) let you into the circle without your having paid the price of admission. Instead, I highly recommend that you pay the price of admission and go see the film. I give it two thumbs up... and you can use your imagination to figure out up where those thumbs might go...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Whiny Republicans and Their Fantasies of Martyrdom

What is it about the current crop of Republicans, that they continue to whine and cry about how put-upon and victimized they are, even as they consolidate their power in the halls of government and the corporate media outlets? After all, they run virtually everything these days -- the White House, Congress, the Supreme Court, most major corporations and the majority of news organizations. Is it that they must keep up the appearance of being the underdog to continue to generate sympathy from the red-staters, the mouth-breathers, the folks who just can't be bothered to pay too much attention to realize that they've been voting against their own best interests for years now? The canard about a so-called "liberal media" is easily disproven, and would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that so many Republicans and even moderates and apolitical people seem to believe in it whole-heartedly. The concerted effort to demonize and marginalize anyone claiming the title "liberal" or "progressive" or even "Democrat" has worked so well that it has left many voters feeling that they have no choice but to vote for the Republicans even when they can see that they aren't truly representing them and their interests, because they fear the amorphous and not very well-defined presence of "liberal oppressors" more than they fear the very real incompetence and demonstrated disregard of the Republicans they keep electing.

In Crawford, where our "disassembling" Preznit rails on about the noble and ever-shifting cause that Cindy Sheehan's son Casey supposedly died for, the backlash against Cindy from these poor 101st Fighting Keyboardists grows daily. How dare she try to confront our Preznit, they scream. She met with him once already! Let it go! She's just a tool of the left, someone being manipulated by a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy for their own treasonous ends. They are attempting to portray our Moron in Chief as somehow being a victim of this poor woman and her hordes of protesters. Unbelievable.

(Funny how they raise such a hue and cry against Ms. Sheehan being used as a "tool of the left," yet many of those same people were more than happy to jump on the Terri Schiavo bandwagon when their own right-wing darlings were using her tragic case to promote their own agenda. Hypocrisy, thy name is Republican.)

Another current example of how they play the victim card is this ridiculous comic book (and many thanks to Eric the DiscoBoy for the link), described thusly in the breathless opening paragraph of the website about it:

It is 2021, tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It is up to an underground group of bio-mechanically enhanced conservatives led by Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North to thwart Ambassador Usama Bin Laden's plans to nuke New York City... And wake the world from an Orwellian nightmare of United Nations-dominated ultra-liberalism.

Jeee-zus. Spare me the strawman scenarios, the histrionics about traitorous liberals and the faux-heroics of the mighty chickenhawk heroes of the right. This is pure and simply a load of unadulterated crap, with no grounding in reality whatsoever. As such, it will probably hold broad appeal to those mouth-breathers and know-nothings mentioned above. They like their ideology simple, their sound-bites short and punchy and their world views all in black and white.

It reminds me of a time, a few years back, when I was helping out a friend by sitting in on a panel judging short films for the unfortunately now-defunct Taos Talking Film Festival. There were about eight or ten of us, and we would spend a day or two each year viewing dozens of entries to the festival, mostly short fictional films, animations and documentaries from all over the world, then giving our recommendations to the folks who made the ultimate selections. One film that we watched still stands out for its political slant, despite the poor production values, the stilted dialogue and bad acting, simply because it was so over the top. The basic premise was similar to the one posited in the comic book above -- "liberals" had taken over America and turned it into a nightmare state of oppression, and most, if not all, of the current freedoms that we as Americans now enjoy had been severely curtailed. There was the sound of black helicopters overhead throughout this overwrought piece of right-wing agitprop, voice-overs from the radios and TVs in the film intoned about current events such as Rush Limbaugh being captured and put to death (hmmm...), Congress mandating abortions for all girls under 14, all that sort of ludicrous bullshit that so many Republicans seem to believe will happen if they ever lose the majority in DC; and the plot -- what there was of it -- had to do with some conservative freedom fighter meeting clandestinely with a series of people trying to get a load of contraband into the hands of one of his compatriots. The end of the film revealed that the forbidden substance he was so desperately trying to pass along was... cigarettes! In this right-wing vision of an America taken over by lefties, tobacco had been effectively banned, and was only available through the efforts of brave and dangerous black marketeers. The message of the film was apparently "God damn those wrong-headed PC liberals for taking away our rights and our smokes! We must rise up as one to prevent this from happening!"

The irony of depicting tobacco as contraband in a liberally-controlled US compared with the very real prohibitions on marijuana under the current War on Drugs (which, to be fair, plenty of Democratic politicans support as well, not to their credit) was obviously lost on the film-makers. That particular piece was made before 9/11 and the Patriot Act, so the comparison of Americans losing many of their civil liberties in the film versus what has already happened in reality in the past five years wasn't able to be made; however, in retrospect, it seems obvious that it has been the Republicans who have been most instrumental in turning this country into a fascist (and leaning more and more towards the theocratic) police state than any Democrats to the left of Joe Lieberman would ever have dreamed of doing. But the overriding theme of the movie -- just like the comic book -- the fiction of right-wingers as some sort of oppressed minority in this country, continues unabated to this day.

I think Tom Tomorrow may have put it best when he said, "The only thing Republicans like to whine about more than the politics of victimization is about how victimized they are."

Don't you feel sorry for them?

The Great Disassembler

This came in the weekly notice for the local SF chapter of Drinking Liberally, and I thought it was worth sharing. Here are "a few thoughts from the Drinking Liberally founder Justin Krebs on 'intelligent design'...

Recently, Bush said schools should teach 'intelligent design.'

Since then, the GOP designed an energy bill that doesn't give us energy independence, reduce prices at the pump or promote conservation.

Events in Iraq have continued to demonstrate that Bush's team designed an invasion without enough troops & with no exit strategy.

And in the midst of it all, Bush designed himself a nice long vacation.

Their intelligence has been bad; their designs worse. Maybe teaching 'intelligent design' is a good idea... our own administration could use a lesson in it."

Speaking of intelligent design, here's a little flash animation that perfectly illustrates just how intelligently whoever designed our current Preznit must work. Mysterious ways, indeed.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sober No More

Jesus Jumpin' Christ on a pogo stick! Can it really be more than a month since I lasted posted here? Wha' hoppen? Last thing I remember was sitting in an Internet cafe just off the Charles Bridge in Prague, trying to make sense of what turned out to be a particularly horrific day in the London transit system and thinking about how best to spend my last night in the Czech Republic. The next morning, Mrs. Generik and I stood outside in the rain waiting for an hour for the guy from the apartment rental company to come pick up the keys and take us to the train station. He never arrived, so we ended up desperately searching for (and finally finding) a cab to take us there -- with the keys in hand and minus the deposit we'd left for them. At 50 Euros, those two sets of keys turned out to be a rather expensive souvenir.

In any event, we made our train to Berlin, which turned out to be a fascinating city (I was especially moved by the hundreds -- or maybe thousands -- of WWII-era bullet holes still very visible in the Bundestag building) that we didn't get to spend enough time in. From there we journeyed on to Amsterdam, which we both loved immensely. It's probably a good thing that I never visited that city while I was in my 20s, as I most likely never would have left. Or maybe that's a bad thing, I don't know... Anyway, from Amsterdam, we went to Brussels and experienced the nicest hotel room of the trip, by far, and enjoyed mussels and good beer and Belgian chocolate and the convivial friendliness of the Belgian people, not to mention obsequious hotel employees. We took the Chunnel from Brussels back to London, and were there a mere twelve hours before we boarded a plane at Heathrow, hopped over to Dublin long enough to change planes, then winged our way back Stateside.

From then, the vacation continued until the end of July, and included a brief stay in San Francisco, but not in our own home. The remodeling work that had been scheduled in our absence was not nearly complete, so we were forced to stay in a hotel for the two nights we had in town. We looked at it as just one more quick stop on a long and arduous vacation, much like visiting Edinburgh or Venice or Amsterdam. Two nights, enough time to visit a museum or two (or, in the case of SF, a couple of baseball games), maybe take a city bus tour, have a few nice meals, and boom, head on to the next destination. That next destination turned out to be Paradise (directions: drive north to Chico and make a hard right once inside the city limits), where by buddy Jon was about to get married to the lovely Mary. The ceremony went off without a hitch, and as the best man, I gave him a roast toast that, as his new mother-in-law put it, he really "...took in the neck." Heh. What are friends for? Their honeymoon consisted of a week camping at our favorite spot in the eastern Sierra, Twin Lakes, and that's where our long vacation finally came to an end. Nine weeks away from work, two-thirds of it spent out of the country, and at long last we ended up just folding our tent and going home.

So here I am. I'm back. Back at home (though the apartment is still in a state of chaos and flux), back at work (where the workload seemed to increase exponentially while I was away) and back on the computer at last. I had to call tech service two or three times just to get my connection back to normal, and I'm still not one hundred percent sure I'm done, but so far it seems to be working. If you don't read this message because of technical errors (like my computer shut down and lost everything) you'll know I'm still having trouble. Or wait -- if you don't read this, you won't know anything at all... hmmm...

But enough about my technical troubles. It's time to get back to business, to start complaining about the treasonous Karl Rove and Traitor Bob Novak and Turncoat Joe Lieberman and Preznit Not On My Watch (whose popularity is apparently in free-fall of late); time to snicker about the avaricious Governor Arnold, who never saw a special-interest pocket he didn't want to dip his hand into; time to laud the courage of people like Cindy Sheehan; time to talk up my fellow BARBARians and their blogs; and of course, time to drink heavily.

Wait -- drink heavily? Was that out loud?

Seriously, though, at the urgings of many thousands hundreds dozens ones and twos of you, I'm officially back to the blog. It may not look like it just yet, but I promise that in the very near future this site will dispense with the faux-Rick Steves travelogue style (although I may post some pictures from the trip at irregular intervals once I get through editing them) and return to the hyperbole and bombast that you have all come to know and love expect from The Generik Brand. Just see if I don't.
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