Monday, January 30, 2006

If you're lucky....

“If you’re lucky, people like something you do early and something you do just before you drop dead,” he said. “That’s as many pats on the back as you should expect.” - Zevon

I just needed to find this quotation today, really I did.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Franzen Affirmed?

Jeez - James Frey. I feel sorry for the guy. The writing world is, as one friend aptly remarked, "a small, muddy pond with too many animals lapping at its shore." I read his first book when it was originally published (Frey's not the friend's) and thought it was pretty cliche so not surprised he couldn't sell the thing as a work of fiction but, man, it's better than, say, Dean Koontz. Don't ask how I came to read one of his books.

Maybe lying was not the best thing in the world for him, but billionairess, badass Oprah Winfrey has a hell of a lot more to be ashamed of in my opinion. The whole message to her madness seemed to be I'll stand by you as long as it's not going to make me look bad or effect my ratings.

Jonathan Franzen, man, he must be finding this entire episode rather, well, affirming.

It you don't know what I'm refering to check out his book of essays, How to be Alone and in particular the one about his brush with HARPO. Hell check out my Blog archives and check out my brush with the big O. Those very Oliver P frames are in the display case at MacDonald Optical as I write this, oddly enough.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New Link

Okay - I've added a link for my friend, Lisa's upcoming book, Public Radio: Behind the Voices. For those of us who listen to Public Radio (are there any other stations on the tuner thingie?), who doesn't want to read a little gossip about our favorite reporters and personalities. Check out the link. Sadly, no dirt on Sedaris' enigmatic boyfriend, Hugh. I asked, alas.

Well, that's about it except, Howard - that was a really sweet metaphor you used about a certain category you're in but I'm not gonna publish it here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

America's Best TV Show

Yep, I love the Jewish World Review. Where else are you gonna find stuff by Pat Sajek next to the Chevelier of NO Bohemia? A little bit of a dream world ain't the worst thing in the world. This is a hilarious essay and I swiped it outright. Sorry, Andrei. Nobody much reads this thing anyway. More free publicity?

Disclaimer: I've never seen Extreme Makeover. I've never even seen Dr. Phil. I really am living in a dream world.

Extreme makeover: New Orleans

By Andrei Codrescu | The votes are in. Extreme Makeover is America's best TV show. The premise is universal: men and women with good intentions and lots of money swoop down from Hollyood on the ugly and the hopeless and transform them through surgery and advice into beauties to die for. Or is that the Swan?

No matter, the concept is in play. Huge billboards in Arkansas display side by side a normal-looking teenager and a hideously deformed and prematurely aged woman. The caption: Extreme Makeover: Meth. In Iraq, sci-fi American soldiers are transforming that country from a nest of intrigue and terror into a brand-new gas station. Extreme Makeover: Iraq. Sleepy Chinese hamlets are waking to find themselves transformed overnight into humming producers of chachkas and putrid air: Extreme Makeover: Walmart, China. Extreme Makeover: Walmart (name a country here) will be soon coming to a country near you. Extreme Makeover: Mexico, has already transformed that country from a dusty nightmare of siesta-takers into a dynamic hive of supermercado shoppers.

The Extreme Makeover concept has been around for thousands of years under diverse names such as "imperialism," (we are coming to your place to clean up), or "urban planning," (we'll fix your city), or "no urban planning, but we'll make you over (extremely) anyway".

For at least a century, the concept was integral to the functioning of the Mafia where it was known as "re-arranging da face." Those forms of extreme makeover were but the beginning of possibilities for the TV-version that has begun, modestly enough, with individuals. The problem with the extreme makeovers of the past is that the results were often unseemly. A Mafia makeover, for instance, couldn't be shown on television because a "mob re-arranged face" made people throw up. Better leave the business of making someone or something over to the professionals of beauty.

In the future, entities wishing to be made over should appeal directly to the TV show's producers and insist until they are given a shot, like the teenager who importuned them until the maimed in her trailer were changed into cover girls. Even the U.S. government could benefit from the show's expertise. Let's say we want to make over another middle eastern country: the show will produce a clear "before" and "after." There will be no confusion, and there will be ratings. I suggest that New Orleans get on the waiting list as quickly as possible. If we leave our future to the current planners, we'll come out looking like a cross between Kabul and Detroit.

What we want is to look like New Orleans, Las Vegas, and only Extreme Makeover can do that for us.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Logic Smogic

or...."It's my party and I'll spy if I want to"

from the January 2 edition of Common Dreams who apparently swiped it from the SF Chronicle. Happy New Year!

A Brief Primer Designed to Help You Understand the Workings of Our New, Streamlined American System of Government
by Jon Carroll

Perhaps you have been unable to follow the intricacies of the logic used by John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who has emerged as the president's foremost apologist for all the stuff he has to apologize for. I have therefore prepared a brief, informal summary of the relevant arguments.

* * *

Why does the president have the power to unilaterally authorize wiretaps of American citizens?

Because he is the president.

Does the president always have that power?

No. Only when he is fighting the war on terror does he have that power.

When will the war on terror be over?

The fight against terror is eternal. Terror is not a nation; it is a tactic. As long as the president is fighting a tactic, he can use any means he deems appropriate.

Why does the president have that power?

It's in the Constitution.

Where in the Constitution?

It can be inferred from the Constitution. When the president is protecting America, he may by definition make any inference from the Constitution that he chooses. He is keeping America safe.

Who decides what measures are necessary to keep America safe?

The president.

Who has oversight over the actions of the president?

The president oversees his own actions. If at any time he determines that he is a danger to America, he has the right to wiretap himself, name himself an enemy combatant and spirit himself away to a secret prison in Egypt.

But isn't there a secret court, the FISA court, that has the power to authorize wiretapping warrants? Wasn't that court set up for just such situations when national security is at stake?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court might disagree with the president. It might thwart his plans. It is a danger to the democracy that we hold so dear. We must never let the courts stand in the way of America's safety.

So there are no guarantees that the president will act in the best interests of the country?

The president was elected by the people. They chose him; therefore he represents the will of the people. The people would never act against their own interests; therefore, the president can never act against the best interests of the people. It's a doctrine I like to call "the triumph of the will."

But surely the Congress was also elected by the people, and therefore also represents the will of the people. Is that not true?

Congress? Please.

It's sounding more and more as if your version of the presidency resembles an absolute monarchy. Does it?

Of course not. We Americans hate kings. Kings must wear crowns and visit trade fairs and expositions. The president only wears a cowboy hat and visits military bases, and then only if he wants to.

Can the president authorize torture?

No. The president can only authorize appropriate means.

Could those appropriate means include torture?

It's not torture if the president says it's not torture. It's merely appropriate. Remember, America is under constant attack from terrorism. The president must use any means necessary to protect America.

Won't the American people object?

Not if they're scared enough.

What if the Supreme Court rules against the president?

The president has respect for the Supreme Court. We are a nation of laws, not of men. In the unlikely event that the court would rule against the president, he has the right to deny that he was ever doing what he was accused of doing, and to keep further actions secret. He also has the right to rename any practices the court finds repugnant. "Wiretapping" could be called "protective listening." There's nothing the matter with protective listening.

Recently, a White House spokesman defended the wiretaps this way: "This is not about monitoring phone calls designed to arrange Little League practice or what to bring to a potluck dinner. These are designed to monitor calls from very bad people to very bad people who have a history of blowing up commuter trains, weddings and churches." If these very bad people have blown up churches, why not just arrest them?

That information is classified.

Have many weddings been blown up by terrorists?

No, they haven't, which is proof that the system works. The president does reserve the right to blow up gay terrorist weddings -- but only if he determines that the safety of the nation is at stake. The president is also keeping his eye on churches, many of which have become fonts of sedition. I do not believe that the president has any problem with commuter trains, although that could always change.

So this policy will be in place right up until the next election?

Election? Let's just say that we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. It may not be wise to have an election in a time of national peril.

Copyright © 2006 San Francisco Chronicle