Saturday, January 27, 2007

People are Sick Motherfuckers

Earlier this month I wrote about my mom's new doggie, Tiger. He's a mixed-breed doggie, short and stubbie, with gigantic paws and about seven months old now. He's a great dog, very loving, and craves underarm scratching. He loves to play and will grow up to be a giant dog.

That is, IF he grows up.

On Thursday afternoon, some motherfucker took him out of our backyard. Stole him right out of the backyard, where he had been cheerfully playing in the snow. Some asshole climbed over a 12 ft. stone fence and took him from his home. He's out there, somewhere, and I don't even want to think of what may be happening to him right now, at this very second. I hope that whereever he is, he's being treated well, but if some asshole motherfucker had the nerve to steal him, some asshole motherfucker has the gaul to treat him badly. I hope that their lives are forever ruined for what they did. I hope one day this comes back to them twenty fold. That may not be good for my karma, but at this second, my karma is pissed off and sad.

We're trying to find him, but in a situation like this, I fear it's going to be impossible.

Good luck, Tiger. I hope you can find your way back home. Your play toys and your backyard and all the love my mom and I have for you are waiting.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: A Year Without Zanzibar

Zanzibar, Brooklyn, New York 2005

It's been a year since my wonder kitty girl, Zanzibar, said her last goodbye. I can't believe how much I miss that girl. I still cry sometimes when I think of her. Paikea is wonderful and I love her dearly, too, but having had Zanzi since the day she was born until the day she died was so special to me. Zanzibar was the first kitty friend that I didn't have to give away because I moved from place to place or my rooommate got the cat. She was the one who slept every cold night in the crook of my arm or nestled herself into my waist while I slept, waiting for me to wake up to feed her. She was the power purrer, the green-eyed pretty calico, the Godzilla look-a-like, the sweet thing, the baby kitty.

Anyway, I still miss you, my wonder kitty, I still miss you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are These American Idol Wannabees CRAZY??

The answer is... YES.

I have never been an avid watcher or fan of American Idol. If I do watch the program, it's usually one audition episode, one beginning episode, a few in the middle, and then the big finales. I watch usually because of my theater background. I find certain aspects compelling: the audition, the bootcamp learning, the competition, and the stage. One thing I learned from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts is that the world of performance is not easy. Sometimes it's not glamourous, and sometimes, it's downright cruel.

Over the last few weeks of the American Idol auditions, the judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and whatever the other guy's name is, have been getting a lot of bad press lately over their late nights, cruel jokes, and mocking of former Special Olympics contestants in the form of Jonathan Jayne.

While it sounds cruel (and in some respects, it was), here's what the Special Olympics had to say:

"While polite isn’t a word one would normally associate with Cowell and company, a viewing of the episode in question shows that the judges were in fact gracious and very encouraging to Jayne during his rendition of "God Bless America." At one point, Abdul commented admiringly about Jayne’s spirit and advised him to "Always believe in yourself."

"Whether on the stage of American Idol or on the field of competition for Special Olympics, people with intellectual disabilities don’t want to be pitied. They want to be judged for who they are and appreciated for what they can achieve. American Idol should be commended for providing Jayne with the same opportunity to succeed as any other contestant."

Kudos to Jayne for trying, but frankly, some of the contestants are just plain crazy.

I'm not condoning the judges in their sometimes vile remarks, but auditioning is not an easy thing to do. You've got two minutes at most (and sometimes much less time than that) to prove yourself to a director, an assistant director, a casting director, a stage manager, producers, etc., to prove your worth. Sometimes it's not a matter of whether you can act or not, but a matter of if you're right for the part, whether you are professional, whether you are known. Going into an audition, it's best to take whatever happens there with a grain of salt. After an audition sometimes, it feels like that salt has been ground into an open wound. Performance takes a thick skin, and if you don't have a thick skin, you better not show up in the first place.

Sometimes directors and judges are assholes, plain and simple. They have egos the size of the Grand Canyon, and like to throw their assholery in your face.

American Idol's casting directors, particularly Simon Cowell, can be assholes. There's no 'bout a doubt it. Think of it from their point of view, though. What the hell would you do after days of watching every crazy-assed, demented kook-wannabee Idol who shows up for YOUR audition demanding to be seen for two minutes and singing in alien costumes, butchering tune after tune and/or presenting some experimental claptrap not even worthy of experimental claptrap? (Disclaimer: I studied experimental theater, and let me tell you, I'VE SEEN SOME FREAKING EXPERIMENTAL CLAPTRAP IN MY LIFETIME.)

Now I know it's a dream of these auditioning folks to be stars, to be singers, to be seen. There's no 'bout a doubt that either. And as I said, the casting judges of American Idol can be assholes. However, if you actually watch the auditions, whenever a SINGER actually auditions, it is like hearing magic and it fascinates you and fascinates you. Hearing real singers sing makes you want to hear them sing more and it makes you happy. When you hear the crazy ones, you want to laugh, you want to cry, to want to scream, what the hell where they thinking in the first place?

When you hear some of the terrors that walk through the auditions at American Idol, can anyone blame the judges for acting like assholes sometimes? Yes, I know how much of a schmuck Simon Cowell is, but truthfully, I can't blame him sometimes.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Doesn't Paikea look peaceful? All Buddha and Zen-like, eh? Well, don't believe the hype. All my baby wants to do is play, play and play some more, don't you know it! Instead of Paikea, she should be named, "Play-ah" but it's too late to change her name. And don't EVEN try to pet the Play-ah... no no no!

Really, she is sweet, she's just one of those kitties who would prefer not to be petter.


I've been a bit busy this week, so light blogging for me. I've noticed a few friends have nominated me for a "Human Equality Award" over at the Koufax Awards. While I'll never win, it's just a honor to be nominated, thank you, thank! Hmm... where have I heard that before?

My time this week has been taken up with working with the people from Metropolis in Motion. Do you know that in the five boroughs of New York, it's illegal to dance in bars and clubs that don't have a cabaret license? Yeah, you heard, me: ILLEGAL. It stems from the 1920s, and there's a whole bunch of history and reasons behind it, but we're working to abolish this portion of the cabaret laws to allow dancing in the local bar if you want to. Find out more at the website, and be sure to sign the petition here.

OK, gotta run, but until we meet again... which should be sometime this weekend.


Friday, January 12, 2007

The Code Pinker, The Secretary and The General

You go, Gael. Amazing. I'm on the verge of tears a lot lately, and seeing this made me cry. I briefly saw this on CNN earlier, and I haven't been able to find the piece of footage from the Senate Committee online yet. Code Pink has always been an exceptional organization, and Billionaires For Bush were always only so happy to throw ourselves in front of the Code Pinkers for a good show.

From the AP via the Rapid City Journal:
Peace activist Gael Murphy, right, talks to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace, left, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 12, 2007, prior to Gates and Pace testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Iraq. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Leftists Protesters Trying to Demoralize the Troops

United for Peace and Justice Anti-Escalation Protest, Times Square,
January 11, 2007

United for Peace and Justice, in association with, staged several demostrations in New York City today to protest President Bush's escalation of troops in Iraq. The protest met at the Times Square military recruitment center, and of course there was a small band of right-leaning folks claiming that 'leftists' were demoralizing the troops. Yup, that would be me. I'm trying to demoralize my two nephews, one of which is currently stationed in Iraq right now. Right. STFU.

Anyway, the protest brought about 500 people to Times Square, with the usual chants and the usual suspects, sane and otherwise. I can admit that the left, along with the right, has some crazies. My friends and I ran away when a sign stating, "9/11 was an Inside Job" came too close to us. Alas, it's the price to be paid in activism today, I suppose.

The back of the anti-anti-war protesters' sign was interesting. It read, "Complete the Mission First and Then They'll Come Home." Sounds great to me! Sure, let's complete the mission. Uh... what's the mission?

If only we had been told straight up from the beginning of this 'mission' that we would be in a neverending war with a neverending trail of bad management, bad decisions, and bad judgements, then maybe, just maybe, I could have been suckered into supporting the everchanging 'mission.' The lies and the incompetence have me wanting desparately to bring the troops home.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pre-Escalation Speechifying Advice

Tonight, as many [may] know, is the night that President Bush doles out yet another speech regarding troops in Iraq. At 9:00 PM EST, he's more than likely going to call for additional forces, an... escalation, if you will. If you watch, I have one piece of advice for you: make sure there is nothing within throwing distance between you and the teevee. Trust me, you're going to want to hurl something.

UPDATE: Well, I watched it and I didn't physically hurl or throw anything. There was a moment when I was tempted to throttle the teevee, but that's kinda impossible to do.

I was a bit disturbed by President Bush's talk of how "we" made mistakes and how "our" mistakes will be rectified. No, Mr. President, not 'our' mistake. Your mistake, and a lot of people said that your plans wouldn't work in the first place. I don't think you listened. He said in his speech that he has talked to people (now) in order to come together with a new plan, yet if he has, it just sounds like the same old same old plan. At one point he said, "Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons," and before he could rattle them off, I thought to myself, yea, and they are you and Rummy. The two mistakes he really cited? Not enough American and Iraqi troops (d'oh) to clear neighborhoods that had already been cleared (double d'oh) and too many restrictions on troops. Anyway, I think after that I blacked out. Can't remember the rest of the speech.

Just kidding.

The only way his new 'plan' will work is if the Iraqi police force that he's talking about deploying (or having the Iraqis deploy... even trickier), can control secured neighborhoods. That's saying if the police can control neighborhoods secured by U.S. troops. Or even IF the neighborhoods can be controlled in the first place. There is no guarantee that they can (and yes, I support the troops, dammit), and I am not inspired by the Iraqi police forces. The police seem to be too infiltrated and fractioned to control neighborhoods that have solidified along the sects of Iraqi Islam, let alone al Qaeda or Iranian or whatever forces. Can Maliki rally his Iraqi troops along nationalist lines as opposed to religious divisions? That's the one thing that Hussein did as dictator that effectively (though brutally), quelled the bad blood between the sects. Baathist belief, based on Marxist thought, was able to smother religious urgings, under a secular and nationalist Iraqi rule.

Can Maliki unite Iraq democratically as Iraqis and not Sunni or Shia Iraqis? Unless someone comes along to unit these opposing religious brothers and sisters as Iraqis, the experiment won't work. And that's not even taking into consideration Kurdish Christians in the North.

Chris O'Donnell, on MSNBC, brought out an interesting numbers thought tonight. New York City has 45,000 police officers to police 7 million people in the five boroughs. The city is 309 square miles, separated by several rivers and estuaries. There is no bloody sectarian violence, though there can be moments of kavetching about which borough is better. There is crime. In 2005, 537 people were murdered. Baghdad also contains 7 million people in 204 square miles. I don't know how many police are ready to take to the streets in Baghdad. There is violence, more violence, and crime. Some people say as many as 700,000 people have died, as 'few' as 200,000. If there are not at least 80,000 police, don't expect success, either.

We're in the perfect quandary and there's no easy way out. Monumental mistakes have been made and it's really too little too late in regards to Iraq. I hope I am wrong. I don't think the Democrats will be able to stop this 'surge,' a word I read somewhere today is not in the military handbook of military terminology.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Yvonne De Carlo, 1922-2007

The wonderful Mrs. Munster (among other iconic roles such as the wife of Moses) has passed. According to a few highlights on, she was born in British Columbia, was crowned Miss Venice Beach 1938, and made $25,000 (a large sum then) for her role in 1956's Ten Commandments. One thing they fail to mention (though they do mention her measurements): she was hot, even in that Munster getup. Hermann Munster was a very very lucky man. When I searched for photographs of Ms. De Carlo, at least one was a little risque, if you know what I mean. And no, find it yourself.


Ms. De Carlo died in a facility close to many actor's hearts, the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital, a retirement community in California. Thank God for actor's guilds such as SAG, AFTRA, and EQUITY. Of course, I'm not a member of any of them, but they come in handy for working actors.

You may remember that it was only last year that Grandpa (Al Lewis) died.

We will miss you, Ms. De Carlo, and thanks so much for the celluloid.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Resident of the Unit*

When I first saw the photograph below at Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish," I was flabbergasted. The things that pass as patriotic wall art these days. Whoa. One of Sullivan's readers saw this piece of... uh... 'art'... and sent it to Sullivan as an illustration of winggy America.

Mountain Gate Family Restaurant in Thurmont, MD
Andew Sullivan's "Daily Dish," sent in by a reader

When I sent the link of said 'art' to some friends, SpankySunrise* brought it back down to Earth by noting that the way Washington and Lincoln are positioned, instead of "President of the United States," it reads, "Resident of the Unit." I told SpankySunrise that she should write to Sullivan, see if he posts it. She didn't, but N_O_I did.

Anyhoo, I don't know if Sullivan will post or write back about it, but you'd have to be a little psychotic to hang this up in your living room, especially for the $199 price tag.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

"Hum" It Along With Me

A girl with an acoustic guitar sometimes makes me want to run for the hills. I mostly kinda like my music with a heavy beat, grinding guitars, and drums that knock your head about. The majority of artists on my iPod are guys: Green Day, Outkast, Queen, Gnarls Barkley, songs from James Bond movies and Monty Python. So, when a friend announced his wife's new album, Alison Lewis's Hum, I didn't know what to expect, but the first thing I heard was an acoustic guitar. The second thing I heard was Alison's wonderful voice singing the first line to "Home":
Weeds are growing through the screen
On the back porch the yard is
full of landmines
broken bottles
Buried bones and empty homes
and I thought to myself, I could get into this.

Lewis is from my home state of Michigan, and though I knock the State for a variety of reasons, there's one thing that I love about Michigan: the music that flows out of it and its largest city of Detroit. Lewis may be influenced by a Michigan sound (as well as touches of Appalachia and Oregon), but throughout the album, Lewis maintains her own uniquely blended voice. The songs may be somewhat 'quiet' as acoustic music usually is, but the juxtaposition of those 'quiet' moments with her hard hitting lyrics create haunting melodies and heart-wrenching portrayals of people in seemingly hopeless situations, barely holding on. In Lewis's voice, though, they find their redemption of sorts, as her voice pulls them through the dark nights of their souls.

"Dear Janie" anchors Hum. The song centers around a 'ghost,' a young mother and talented painter who dies too young. The town calls her crazy; Lewis calls her brilliant and we in turn are better for having met Janie through Lewis's eyes. There is always a chance that a tricky lyric such as "You are a shadow. You are a ghost" could easily delve into ghostly parody; Lewis's voice cries out so plaintively in a wish to have met this woman whose painting she cannot afford, that our only wish becomes one of wanting to have known Janie ourselves.

In "Rubberband" Lewis sings: "She's got a rubberband around her heart/to keep from falling apart/She takes it all so hard, tries to fix it/she doesn't know where to start." Not only has her protagonist's dreams fallen apart, she may not be so nice ("she's got a million friends/they just keep leaving") and she seriously needs to reconsider the direction of her life. Lewis doesn't judge her for the possible mistakes she's made, but gently suggests that it's time to change: "When do you stop believing/that things will turn out how you planned?/when do you realize/that everything must come to an end?"

In "Witches," the only hope is to pray hard "To the goddess of forgiveness/the witches who can heal us/to the memory of those lost along the way," because we're all seriously in trouble. We've lost our way spiritually, and Lewis is only too happy to lead us into a druidian prayer to restore the nature of things.

My favorite song is "Shiner," a protest song to jumpstart the soul. It starts out deceptively quiet and gently builds a controlled ferocity as Lewis encourages the listener to remember their spark:
We rarely verbalize our greatest desires
like what would you take with you if your house catches fire?
where do you feel you fit in to the big design?
how far can you be pushed 'till you finally cross the line?

What would you remember most, if you lost your sight?
How firm will you stand when they take away your rights?
How many times have you said goodbye?
and where would you go if you could fly?
After her admonishment, Lewis brings it back down and touches on those things that might have caused us to lose our way, with a gentle hand on our fevered brow of despair. Every time I listen to "Shiner," particularly if I am thinking about how crappy the world is, it boosts me up a bit and encourages a productive rage ("what color would you pick if you had to pick just one?/what would you want to leave behind when all is said and done?"). If I could take only one song with me into the trenches, there's a possibilitiy that "Shiner" would be it.

Hum, to me, is primarily about partnership, and each song describes relationships to self, to anger, to love and humanity, and celebrates the joining of all souls. The pictures Lewis paints about love ("My heart is a Black Dog/sleeping under your truck/She's helpless, defenseless/knows that true love is luck") and the healing effects of 'merging tribes' ("Of all the people I have known/I stay with you/it feels like home") make this one great acoustic album full of pain and passion and poetry. And once you've heard it, you'll be humming it along with me.

Buy a hardcopy of Hum at CDBaby or search for Alison Lewis on iTunes.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I was just saying on New Year's Eve...

... that I would like to one day eat at Sardi's... when word came along today that Vincent Sardi, Jr., son of the founder of that famous Times Square establishment, passed away. Another New York ending, another New York era.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Sardi ran one of the world’s most famous restaurants, a Broadway institution as central to the life of the theater as actors, agents and critics. It was, the press agent Richard Maney once wrote, “the club, mess hall, lounge, post office, saloon and marketplace of the people of the theater.”

Mr. Sardi understood theater people, loved them and was loved in return. He carried out-of-work actors, letting them run up a tab until their ship came in. (At one point, Sardi’s maintained 600 such accounts.)

He attended every show and made sure his headwaiters did the same, so that they could recognize even bit players and make a fuss over them. At times, he exercised what he called “a fine Italian hand,” seating a hungry actor near a producer with a suitable part to cast.

He commiserated with his patrons when a show failed, and rejoiced with them when the critics were kind. He distributed favors, theater tickets and food, rode on horseback with the local police, and acted as a spokesman, official and unofficial, for the theater district.

Mr. Sardi was born on July 23, 1915, in Manhattan and spent his early childhood in a railroad flat on West 56th Street, where his parents took in show-business boarders. In 1921, his father took over a basement restaurant in a brownstone at 246 West 44th Street.
The Great White Way bows its head to you in thanks and farewell.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mind Popping Items

1. Negroponte as Deputy Secretary of State. I literally laughed out loud when I saw Olbermann announce this little doozy this evening. I don't know why it makes me laugh so hard. Deputy Secretary of State? Where has our compass gone? Hell, I'd take a leakless boat at this point.

2. Middle Schools Are Unnecessary and Hateful Places. OK, I added that last part. I read about this through a link from Gothamist. At first my brain froze a bit and remembered that I danced for joy when my former middle school building in Detroit was razed flat to the ground, never to be seen nor heard from again. I think they rebuilt it somewhere else, but at least the edifice that tormented me so itself has been obliviated. Bwahaha. Seriously, this sounds like a good idea. I never could figure out why anybody in their right mind would tear a 7th or 8th grader from all they knew and then throw them all together into one gigantic hormone pit. No. No. No.

3. Pat Robertson Needs to Lay Off the False Prophecy. I hear it's a sin. Of course, I don't know if what he prophesied is false or not. Who am I to say whether Robertson was actually chosen by God to send this revelatory message of death to the people or not? I can strongly doubt it, but I will leave it at that. I've heard enough prophecy come and go to say that the only thing I can trust is the television schedule.

4. Thomas Jefferson's Quran. Jefferson's personal, annotated copy of the Quran will be used in a private swearing in ceremony (after the big mass swearing in earlier in the day) by the first Muslim to sit in an American Congress, Keith Ellison. (That, Mr. Goode, is called a bitch slap, by the way. You better be glad civil folk don't duel anymore.) Joe in DC wonders: why is this in the gossip column?

My Wonderfully Crazy Friend

We went to theater school together. Both somehow still in New York and still wanting to perform. I haven't seen her for a good ten years (except that time during that protest recently), but this is why I think she's wonderful...
Coney Island Polar Bear Club Takes A Dip in the Winter Water
Coney Island, New Year's Day 2007
Photo by: (will get back to you)

... and CRAZY!!! You go, girl!

Carolyn took part in the Coney Island Polar Bear Club's annual New Year's Dip. What's the Polar Bear Club? According to their website, it's the "oldest winter bathing organization in the United States. We swim in the Atlantic Ocean at Coney Island every Sunday from October through April." And their founder, called during his time the "Father of Physical Culture," was way hot and manly for 1903. Here's more on Bernarr Macfadden.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Just Playing Around

Colors, things to learn, things to do. It's so much fun to play around. One good thing about upgrading blogger is that for non-coders (or those not proficient with xml), it's easier to play around. Of course that could mean disaster, too, so watch out. Could get really ugly 'round here...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Finally, I See That St. Louis Apologized...

Old Tiger Stadium, Street Light Night, December 2006

...for winning the World Series when EVERYONE knew that Detroit should have won. Darn you, Cardinals, I'm still sore!

This brought to you by CNN by way of The Onion's 2006 Sports News in Review...

Old Tiger Stadium Box Office, Street Light Night, December 2006

Visit: Save Tiger Stadium. Like New York's old Penn Station train terminal, once it's gone, it can't be wished back, sadly.

Haloscan and the New Blogger Are Mean...

Finally got my Haloscan back today, and all my previous comments are gone. I hope they tweak that soon. I'm sad.