This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Holy thuddawwwappppp, Batman!

As mentioned earlier, I tend to think in the style of whatever book I'm reading, and as also mentioned earlier, I'm currently reading a lot of graphic novels... lately, I've been picturing my life as a series of panels, featuring me and mine at interestingly askew angles, with thought and speech balloons which feature random words boldfaced and italicized...

Spin your primary, do si do...

I suppose I might be looking at what I linked to in the last entry in the wrong way; after all, Dean never said that he was the "atheist candidate," but I guess I was hoping he would be different than other candidates in bowing to the Obligatory Jesus Reference.

But, perhaps, his acknowledgement that he will be talkin' 'bout Jebus while in South Carolina proves that he is what all the conservatives have been gleefully asserting he isn't--a savvy politician.

After all, if emphasizing your religion in the South while downplaying it in the North isn't the tactic of someone who knows what they need to do to be elected--then what is?

It's really sad when a patently false move makes me more confident in a candidate, not less... because it makes him seem more "electable."

The atheist candidate?

$%*&#$* Howard Dean...

(link courtesy The Raving Atheist)

Monday, December 29, 2003

From her to me.

The best Christmas gift of all is the one you really, really wanted, but didn't know you did.

Somehow, this year my wife managed to score a hat trick. Oh sure, there were the things I had hinted and hinted in a subtle fashion (subtle like those advertising planes over Ocean City), like the Indiana Jones and Looney Tunes box sets (hey, is that the fourth DVD, Indiana Jones and the Looney Tunes?), but she also managed to get me the latest They Might Be Giants compilation, which she bought before I started listening to Flood and Lincoln obsessively two weeks ago. But I've liked TMBG since college so that's not too much of a stretch. The real surprise...

...well, it just left me speechless.

It started with the DVD for Unbreakable, which was a movie I really enjoyed but hadn't hinted about at all. For those not in the know, Unbreakable is in large part about comic books. Then, I opened my next present, a history--with illustrations--of D.C. Comics, home of Superman, Batman, and other favorites. And another--a treasury of the art of Alex Ross, a well-known comic artist whose background is painting, not cartooning.

How did she know?

I was never a collector of comics at all. But in my youth (I hate that phrase, "in my youth," mostly because at nearly 32 I don't feel like I've left it) I devoured anthologies of all the classic D.C. and Marvel superheroes, including gigantic ones of Superman and Batman which included comics from the thirties to the seventies; and of course, like everyone else in the eighties, I was stunned by Frank Miller and his work on Batman, and later on by Alan Moore's Watchmen. In other words, I wasn't enough of a fan to have brought my interest into adulthood, but I still have a keen interest in the history of both the characters and the books themselves. And K bought me not one, not two, but three comic book related gifts that I hadn't even thought of. I read the books immediately; we haven't watched the movie yet because of the severe backlog (I bought her what amount to the complete works of Joss Whedon on DVD).

This blog entry seems so inadequate for the rush of feelings I have--not for the gifts themselves, but for their appropriateness--so perfect, yet I didn't even know. I don't have words to express how happy she made me--so happy that I continued the comic book theme and bought graphic novels with the Barnes and Noble gift cards I got from other relatives (including the aforementioned Watchmen, which I always wanted but never got around to buying). Nine years of marriage, and she still surprises me. What else could I ask for?

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Blank verse.

I don't believe in God or Fates,
I only believe in Bill Gates.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Silver and crunch.

This year, our Christmas tree is a real beaut--a Fraser fir, probably about six and a half feet tall, perfectly shaped and full. It is also drunk, based on the number of times it's fallen.

Christmas Eve, it fell directly onto our son D as he was fooling with the lower branches. I was right there but I wasn't in time to stop it. Instead, I used my superhuman strength to pull it off him and return it to its place while K used her superhuman vacuum to clean up the broken ornaments.

The second time it fell was last night, apparently because of the cat, as K and I were settling down for the proverbial long winter's nap. It was a thunderous crash, and we went downstairs; this time I employed the vacuum.

We have a particular favorite ornament which we got for our first Christmas together back in '95; it's a simple glass ball with silver stripes, but very classy. Remarkably, it stayed on the tree after the first fall; after the second it was on the floor and I picked it up.

"Is it okay?" K asked.

"Yep," I said, examining it. "Not a scratch. Incredible!"

I put it down on D's drawing table while I started to help cleaning up. I placed it a little too close to the edge.

Do I really need to describe what happened next?

Thursday, December 25, 2003


Well, this annual thing that our family does, which we call "Christmas"--I don't know why, no one's named Chris--went well. We bring a tree into the house for a few days, usually an evergreen of some sort, and then we put presents under it, wrapped up. This year K and I had a brainstorm and told the kids that a magical person would come down our chimney and leave extra presents for them, but only if they were good.

"Why a chimney?" I asked. "We don't even have a chimney."

"Because I don't want to leave the door unlocked," answered K.

Anyway, it didn't work as behavior modification; the kids were just the same as always. But watching their faces as the presents were opened was worth it. I wonder if anyone else does this sort of thing; it could really catch on, I bet.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Don't worry, folks, I'm still alive! As always, the holidays make it tough to do much of anything. But I have many a blog on the hopper. So to speak.

(vast, canyon-like silence)

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

The weebles, falling from the oyster...

I've never done drugs and these days I don't drink, so this pleasant buzz from Tylenol Cold is about the most dangerous high I've had in many a month. Wonder if I shouldn't drive at the moment.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

No, waiter, it's not a fly.

This is how my son renders Buddy Holly's most famous song:
Baby Soup,
Baby Soup,
Pretty pretty pretty pretty Baby Soup...

Dear me. Is that an appetizer, or a main course?

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

At the start of 2003... [George W. Bush] was prosecuting a mostly clandestine war on terrorism, which even included--on at least one known occasion--the CIA covertly assassinating suspected enemies with remote-controlled drones in Yemen. (David Corn, The Lies of George W. Bush, page 241)

Remote-controlled drones? Doesn't that seem like it deserves an "according to..." or at least a footnote? Suddenly, in the middle of an otherwise carefully cited book which seeks to base its criticism of President Bush on facts instead of rhetoric, we're deep in the mud of Conspiracy Land.

It turns out this sentence is true, admittedly. But gee whiz, David, couldn't you have at least said "as reported in Newsweek"?


If things have been slow, it's my fault; I've been busy sharing bandwidth with people.

Isn't this the coolest thing?

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Dear Santa...

First comes Godfrey with a link to this video about iPod's battery life. Then comes Medley, confessing to the world her newfound iPod lust. Now Mike has linked to this NYT article about the iPod.

Is the blogosphere trying to tell me something?

Friday, November 28, 2003


Funniest travel advisory sign of the holiday:


Okay, so it's not exactly Rowan and Martin, but it was somewhat incongruous when we were on I-95 Thursday evening, and the only car in sight.

That's a tip to remember, kids: go home right after dinner time, and you'll never get backed up, even at the tolls. 'Course, you may fall asleep while you're driving because of the food...

We went to my parents' house in P--------a for Thanskgiving, dragging along the dawg because the kennel was filled up. He was surprisingly well-behaved; this is a canine who jumps on two-year-olds for fun and can reduce a squeaky toy to its constituent atoms in 1.6 seconds. We were somewhat worried, but about the worst thing he did was vomit something unidentifiable onto the floor. Fortunately, we found it before the kids did.

My brother and I agreed that the only reason to have a large television is to watch movies on it. And we also agreed, after watching a few scenes from the Ring of Fire DVD, it's a pretty good reason.

Dinner was wonderful and nicely low-key; it was just the immediate family this time, rather than the huge extended Turkey Day we had last year. I'm glad that pretty much everyone in my mother's family is within three hours of each other, but it can get unwieldy at times, too.

My sister suggested we all say what we're thankful for at the dinner table. As usual, D was the most honest of us all, in the way only a four-year-old can be; he said, "Are you thankful for... mashed potatoes?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I thought Lieberman had the hot line to God?

The Cleveland Plain Dealer mistakenly quoted Sen. Tom Daschle as saying, "The evil ones now find themselves in crisis, and this is God's will for them," according to the Washington Post. Should Daschle ever run for President, this may actually help him in the Deep South.

Gobble, gobble, chop.

A turkey will live, but John Allen Muhammad won't.

Mind you, I'm not going to argue that the sniper is a good poster boy for getting rid of capital punishment. He isn't. It's just that, of all presidents, I expected W. to cut off Stars the turkey's head with relish, possibly by his own hand!

Sunday, November 23, 2003

...the payoff.

Forty years ago today, an event occurred which changed a nation and defined a generation. Saturday, November 23, 1963 is a day which forever signifies a turning point in science fiction, even for those, like me, who later abandoned the TARDIS for Star Trek. Let us never forget the first episode of Doctor Who.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

The setup...

Forty years ago today, an event occurred which changed a nation and defined a generation. Friday, November 22, 1963 is a day which forever signifies a turning point in history, even for those, like me, who weren't born at the time. Let us never forget the murder of John F. Kennedy.

From the jaws of...

It's somewhat depressing when you think you've made a Great Literary Discovery, and you're about to recommend something as The Best Book You've Never Read, but then discover it's number 15 on the Today show book club list.
I usually try to avoid direct lifting from other blogs, but this entry by Godfrey is just too good to let slide:
"The consecration of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese of the Episcopal Church is an affront to Christians everywhere. I am just thankful that the church's founder, Henry VIII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon, and his wife Anne Boleyn, and his wife Jane Seymour, and his wife Anne of Cleves, and his wife Katherine Howard, and his wife Catherine Parr are no longer here to suffer through this assault on traditional Christian marriage values."

� Paul Emmons, Westchester University

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Sinister buttcheek.

Well, I finally decided to see what all the shouting was about, and read the first book of the "Left Behind" series--you know, the one which aims to tell the Book of Revelations in fictional form, the heroes being the folks left behind after the Rapture who become born-again Christians and oppose the Antichrist. Naturally, it shook me to the core and I now accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.

Gotcha! Bet I'll get a lot more Google hits now, though.

Seriously, the book is very well-written--a definite beach-novel style page-turner. And you can approach it as just that and enjoy it; if you're not an atheist like me, just replace every instance of "Christ" with "Gandalf," say, or "Odin" if you're into Norse mythology, and you'll get an idea of how I approached it.

But what struck me is how it must seem to believers... this is a world in which things are exactly as a certain kind of Christian wants them to be. As the End Times begin, orthodox Jews in Israel fall to the ground and weep as they accept Jesus as their Messiah. Islam does not appear to exist. A cabal of international financiers control the world and bring the Antichrist to power. A journalist I heard on Fresh Air called this "a world in which certain dissonances have been removed," but I tend to look at the immediate wish-fulfillment and call it Christian pornography, in essence.

And as for the question of why the Jews didn't accept Jesus as their Messiah, well, that'll be fixed, because all the Jews must either convert to Christianity, or they will die. Gee whiz. Ain't that a bummer.

Another thing I didn't get was why the Christians were so eager to oppose the Antichrist. Throughout the book, a main theme is "this is what will happen, because the Bible's prophecy is true." Well, Revelations said there will be seven years of tribulations, then Jesus will bop on down to earth and defeat the Antichrist, and then it'll be a thousand-year reign of peace and harmony. Okay. So if that's all destined to happen, why bother trying to stop the bad guy? All you have to do is wait seven years. One might even think you would hope the Antichrist would come to power; even if he kills you, it's no big deal, because you're going to heaven anyway. (Just ask Antonin Scalia, who gave this reasoning when asked about the execution of innocent people.)

Still, as a book, if you ignore the implicit anti-Semitism, appeals to ignorance (a character wishes his daughter would stop thinking so much and just come to Jesus), and long passages on conversion and preaching strategy, it's not bad. And yeah, I admit, I probably will read the rest of the series.

Know thy enemy, and all that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Why don't you write anymore?

It's been a few days. Has it EVER been a few days.

D had his first big, bleeding-from-the-head fall on Sunday. He hit the corner of the piano. Our angelic neighbors came by to watch E while we drove him to the emergency room.

It was a relatively minor laceration that required two staples, but boy, did it bleed. He's fine now, as wacky and energetic as ever. Now he'll have a scar on the back of his head, just like his Dad, although mine was allegedly from falling down the stairs (I like to think it's from an alien abduction probe). Poor kid. I think K and I cried more than he did, though.

Then, yesterday, E took her first unaided steps while we were at a local playground. Wow... the height of amazement. She's fifteen months old, right on the money. D was quite a bit later. Naturally, once K got home from work, E refused to walk for her. Instead she preferred to fall face-first onto the carpet. She didn't seem to mind...

Meanwhile, in the wider world, John Allen Muhammad (and why do we insist on calling these maniacs by three names? Hell, nobody called Lee Harvey Oswald that 'til after the assassination--he was just plain "Lee Oswald") is finally no longer presumed innocent. I hope they put the S.O.B. away for the rest of his life, even if the "terrorism" charge against him was a little suspect. (I'm not a fan of capital punishment, in any circumstances.)

And in Sunday's Washington Post, there was a reference to a survey on attitudes toward democracy in the world--unfortunately it was just a graphic, so there's no direct link (it's credited to the University of Michigan's World Value Survey). But according to the graphic, democracy is considered the best form of government throughout the world, with Arab countries affirming it the most, at 60%. Good news, no doubt. But here's the kicker--under 40% of people in the U.S. consider democracy the best form of government!

Surveys should always be viewed with skepticism. Even so, what government does that other 60% prefer--and for whom are they going to vote?

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Can we call them that now, or are they still "freedom" fries?

Like any good American kid, D's favorite food is hot dogs and french fries. He thinks of them like that--as a unit, never to be parted.

Today, I was engaging in an act of civil disobedience by ripping some Elvis songs in iTunes, one of which was "Hot Dog." I was trying to distract D, so when it played, I said, "Hey, it's the hot dog song!" He stopped what he was doing and listened intently; when it was over, he looked at me with the air of one wronged, and declared, "Want the french fries song!"

Friday, November 14, 2003

The height of paranoia.

George W. Bush stands 6 feet 0 inches tall.

In every modern presidential election (except 1976), the taller candidate has carried the popular vote. (Yes, that includes Al Gore.)

Howard Dean is five-ten.

This is why George W. Bush will be reelected.

There's still time to get behind Gephardt (6'-1") or Kerrey (6'-5").

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Congratulations, it's a bill!

So, want a good example of how fouled up our healthcare system is? A co-worker of my wife's is expecting twins. In order to have twins, this couple has to see a specialist. There aren't any such specialists in our area that participate in their HMO, so they have to go out-of-network. So, the insurance company flatly refuses to pay. This is for something they have to do in order to have the twins safely!

And of course, it's twins, so... they have to pay for everything twice, including things like ultrasounds. Ultrasounds! It may be two kids, but it's one mother--how the hell do you justify that?

Combine that with importing drugs from Canadian pharmacies, because the same drugs cost twice as much in the U.S.; it's enough to make one think about Gephardt for President.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Squelch, are you on acid?

When you see a bloodhound playing double bass, a guitar-playing stone with a gray shirt stamped "Property of Louisville Penitentiary," and an old building (on drums) with a neon sign that says "HOT L" along with a shape resembling a heart cloven in two, what do you think of?

Monday, November 10, 2003

No more politics, I promise!

Usually by this time in an election year, I know exactly who I'm supporting in the primary. (This may have more to do with the relative smallness of the Democratic field in the elections before this one, although I do remember being a staunch Gary Hart supporter long before I could vote. I also liked Bob Kerrey in '92. Perhaps the candidates should actively not seek my endorsement.) Anyway, I haven't a clue who to like just yet. Right now, it's very tough to be a Democrat who still believes the war in Iraq was a neccessary thing. Let me point out, though, before my loyal readers gasp in shock, that I believed in the humanitarian case for war, separate from the WMD case, although I admit I found Colin Powell's speech at the U.N. pretty damning. In any case, there is plenty of evidence that the U.N. sanctions were hurting Saddam far less (if at all) than they were hurting the Iraqi people. Therefore, one either needed to get rid of the sanctions, or get rid of the regime (and thus eliminate the need for the sanctions).

In other words, to get back to the main point of my post, Howard Dean and I have a disagreement about starting the war. But fortunately, we agree on two points: the Bush administration had no plan for starting the peace; and now that we're in there, we have an obligation to clean up the mess we made. So, though I admit I'm speaking from a position of great ignorance about the candidates, I suppose I can say I'm a fan of Howard Dean.

But watch out. I just endorsed him, and you know my track record. Ah, you say, but he's poised to conquer New Hampshire.

What do the following people have in common: Estes Kefauver, Henry Cabot Lodge, Edmund Muskie, Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, Pat Buchanan, and John McCain? That's right: they all won the New Hampshire primary. In fact, if you count sitting vice presidents as incumbents, since 1952 only 6 non-incumbents who won New Hampshire went on to win their party's nomination (out of a total of 14 non-incumbents running), although 5 of those did go on to win the presidency (Mike Dukakis was the lucky loser). If you don't count Veeps as incumbents, that's 17 non-incumbents who won New Hampshire, and only 8 who also won the nomination. (Two of those were Richard Nixon, who was essentially uncontested for the nomination at the time of the 1960 and 1968 primaries.)

Of course, this distribution of winners and losers is probably well within the laws of probability, but you'd expect, given how overblown the coverage is, and how important the candidates consider it, that the winner in New Hampshire is almost always the nominee. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth.

Remind me why we care who wins New Hampshire, again?

I hear... trumpets.

I may as well admit that National Novel Writing Month hasn't inspired me this year (unlike last year, where I was inspired, but also driven insane). Oh well; maybe, instead, I'll join National Short Story Writing Fortnight.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

And, oh, have I mentioned that my novel is stalled? Sigh...

Umbrella Man! Get out of my head!

Arrrrgh. I searched for a link on "JFK" inaccuracies for the post below and I wound up spending the entire day reading material debunking the Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories. My head is now so crammed with facts and assertions related to Dealey Plaza, Jack Ruby, and Lee Harvey Oswald that my dreams will be like the Zapruder film, played at double speed in 3-D.


I suppose I really ought to say something about CBS's decision to not air the miniseries on Ronald and Nancy Reagan. I don't feel all that qualified to do so, since unlike those who advocated canceling it, I've not seen the finished film. Oh, wait--they haven't seen it either!

On NPR, a Republican stated that it wasn't just about Reagan, but about historical accuracy. Funny, how they didn't have a problem with the hagiography of the 9/11 movie that aired a few months ago (which, like the Reagan film, was allegedly created by someone with a partisan agenda). I wonder if they'd have a problem with, say, a film that depicted Bill Clinton dealing drugs and killing Vince Foster with his bare hands. Somehow I doubt it.

Of course, movie producers playing fast 'n' loose with the truth is nothing new. Seen JFK lately? Or, in a slightly less ridiculous fashion, did you know that two white FBI agents single-handedly saved the Deep South from racial warfare? But in those cases, the historical flaws were aired in the proverbial "marketplace of ideas." And yeah, especially with Mississippi Burning, one could have some serious misperceptions about what actually happened.

But, damn it! In those cases no one demanded that the movies never be released, or a disclaimer added that explained the films were fictional!

What the Republicans did was just plain wrong, and it would be just as wrong were had they been Democrats, Libertarians, Catholics, Jews, or anyone.

And as an aside, it was a bit disingenuous for CBS, at its 75th birthday party, to celebrate the Smothers Brothers, who were fired for political reasons, as wronged heroes, even as it nixed "The Reagans" for political reasons...

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Keep up the pace, Hercules! And the heater.

The problem with trying to make a goal of 6,000 words in one day (idiot!) is that I have very poor circulation, and when typing for long stretches, MY FINGERS GET SO FLIPPIN' COLD.

Friday, November 07, 2003

It's always good to see reasoned theological argument:
Bad things happened today.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Hermanos! The devil has built a robot!

What exactly does a swelling hijink look like?

When a stay-at-home Dad thinks about re-entering the workforce (doesn't that sound like a promo for a sitcom?), watch the laughter fly and the hijinks swell! Can you teach an old Dad new tricks? Find out next week on "Rooster Spices," America's favorite comedy!

Ahem. As I was saying. When a stay-at-home Dad thinks about re-entering the workforce, what does it entail? I haven't had a job since November of 1999. Yes, yes, I know--you'd love to have my problems. But if I were offered my dream job, would I take it?

This isn't really an idle question. Some comments from professionals I respect have started me wondering whether I really am qualified to do what I want and make money from it. Up 'til now it's only been a hobby. (And no, I'm not saying what the dream job is.) I wouldn't wonder too much were the professionals not in a hiring position at a company looking for new hires.

My wife is saying, "Pursue this, you idiot!" But even if it means moving away? And more importantly, even if it means putting D and E in day care? I'm glad she supports me, though.

As lame as it may sound, working for someone again scares the hell out of me. It's a dirty little secret that parenting, often called "the hardest job in the world," is in fact easier than, say, rescuing people from burning buildings or keeping people in drug-treatment programs. Nevertheless, it is tough sometimes, and in a very real sense, a stay-at-home parent never gets a vacation from his or her job. But I've gotten really used to answering to no one but myself (and my kids), and regulating (not always successfully, I admit) how many projects I take on as well.

Or, it could be that I'm just a lazy bastard. What do you think?


My favorite review from the 273 Amazon "Finding Nemo" customer reviews:
This movie is awsm my favorite, favorite part is when their in the submarine and the shark is chasing them and the shark hits the door and dory goes (Who is it?) who ever thinks this movie is dum is very, very SSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTTTUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Here, The Cheat, have a trophy.

A Yankee wrote Dixie, you know.

Did the South win the Civil War?

I ask because of Governor Dean's comments about the Confederate flag and emblazoning of pickups thereof, but I actually have wondered this for a while. You look at how "solid" the South is, and realize that, since 1964, the only way a Democrat could be elected President is if he were a Southerner.

Now, I don't have any opinion (yet) on the Democrats in the race, though my estimation of Sharpton went up a little when he said he uses a Mac. But given that the South is so solidly Republican, Governor Dean may have a point, though he certainly could have phrased it better; the Republicans' "southern strategy" of demagoguing race has been so effective that the people who are voting Republican aren't even realizing that Republican economic policy is screwing them over.

Then again: do I really want people who fall for racial demagoguery in my Democratic party?
Somebody from University of North Dakota came to Rooster Spice without a referral. Who the hell do I know in North Dakota?



Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Just some random thoughts inspired mostly by other bloggers:
  • There's a section on Well, La Di Da! (who linked to us on Halloween--danke!) which addresses the whys of blogging (well, to be more accurate, the "why" of this particular blogger), which boiled down, in her case, to "Well, I put interesting stuff here rather than spam my friends," which is certainly a Noble Sentiment™. But it got me thinking, as someone who never sent interesting facts over email, exactly why I blog. It was therapy, and may still be to some extent, but I discovered that if you put worrisome things on a public web page, (shock and awe!) people worry. But somehow it wasn't as therapeutic if it was private; if I wanted to write without an audience I'd be a novelist (oh, wait...). So now I'm pseudonymous, but of course if I vent and rant and rave, the readers who knew me before will still get worried, although presumably if I say "don't worry about me" often enough, they'll just tell me to go to hell. So the question remains: why do I blog? The answer: "That's a stupid question."

    Well, the real answer is, like so much else, the audience. I hope for fame (I've given up on fortune), and I strive to entertain. But how do I entertain without revealing so much of myself that I destroy the anonymity that I hope for?

  • Karen, another longtime reader (or at least I've been a longtime reader of hers), has a nice piece on trying to explain the weblogging phenomenon to non-webloggers. That's something I've not yet had to deal with; there's only two, possibly three, people who I know face-to-face who know about my blog. One of them inspired me to start one, one found it on his own and has been mentioned in these pages before, and the third, like Karen, met her luv via weblogging and so doesn't really need an explanation. (No link in this case to protect her privacy; besides, like I said, I'm not sure she even reads Rooster Spice and/or makes the connection. [Was "and/or" called for there, or would "or" have sufficed? Discuss and compose a three-part essay.]) There are also folks who I met over the 'net who I consider... well, if not friends, at least people I'd like to meet someday. But what worries me (and it's only a matter of time) is when a friend Googles me and comes to Rooster Spice to find out what I really think about them.

  • More on the above: My wife and I actually met via e-mail, but this was OLD school, before most of the world even knew what it was: 1991. On a UNIX system like the school's mainframe, you can issue a slightly obscene-sounding command called "finger" to get information about a person; i.e. "finger squelch". Well, back in the day, you could also customize your profile, or "plan," and I had made a plan that covered an entire screenful of text. So, K, curious about the various people logged in, no doubt, typed in the finger command, saw my plan, and wrote the following email (an approximation; I didn't know its significance at the time):
    Subject: wow...

    what a plan!

    And so, having blazed that trail, we fell in love immediately, if by immediately you mean "next year when we coincidentally were on the same floor of the same dorm."

    (Well, come on... I wouldn't have gone out with her after one email. That'd be, like, creepy.)

Monday, November 03, 2003

Thank yuh, thank yuh very much.

It couldn't be "Hound Dog" or "That's All Right, Mama," or even "Love Me Tender." No, the Elvis song in my head is "Let Me," which sounds like it must have come from an album titled "Elvis Sings Everyone's Favorite Polka Hits!"

(And no, Godfrey, I don't need your help removing it.)

Positive reinforcement?

D may or may not have an obscure form of autism called hyperlexia, but we've been proceeding as if he does, correcting and coaching his speech patterns:
D: You want some Halloween candy?
Squelch: Say, "I..."
D: ... want some Halloween candy.
Squelch: No, say "I want..."
D: ... some Halloween candy.
Squelch: The whole thing, honey.
D: I want some Halloween candy.
Squelch: Please.
D: Please.
Squelch: (raises eyebrows)
D: I want some Halloween candy, please.
Squelch: Great job, son! No.

Very long driveway. Very small house.
Today, the Blog*Spot ad is letting me know about Vermont bed & breakfasts that are "perfect for civil unions." I'm actually kind of pleased about that.

A smile, at last.

And yet, when E falls asleep next to me as I practice Brahms on the piano, it somehow seems all right.

As Ted Danson said: Should I have gone to England?

It must be NaNoWriMo month, because I'm getting life-stiflingly depressed. (Is "stiflingly" a word?) And it's only Day 3.

I wrote a little program on my Linux box that reminds me where I should be at the end of any given day; today we need to hit 5,000 words. Not that it really matters; the point is to write, not to compete, yeah?

Yep, keep telling yourself that.

Unfortunately, this book is autobiographical by definition. No, I mean it; the story won't work unless I take a long hard look at me, for reasons that would become clear were I to explain the plot to you. I mean, I could make myself up, but to a certain extent verisimilitude demands: write what you know. Then I throw "what-ifs" and "might-have-beens" at the skeleton, and I don't know about you, but nothing gets me more depressed than "might-have-beens."

Yes, it's absolutely essential to the story.

Any of you who were wondering when the old Rooster Spice would return (you know, the blog that launched a thousand suicide watches), well... let's hope not, anyway.
I am so frippin' sick of political blogs.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

They're a little dated, but still...

I recently added Chairman Mao's Little Red Book to my library of books by dictators and/or tyrants (unlike so many on both ends of the political spectrum, I find the best defense against enemies is to listen to what they have to say). In the introduction (written in 1967 by A. Doak Barnett of Columbia University), I was forcefully reminded just what a difference a copy editor makes:
In the "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" convulsing Communist China, Peking has flooded the country with literally tens of millions of copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, in an effort to defy Mao and all his works.

Excuse me? "Defy"? Who knew that one little letter, in this case a missing "i," could so completely change the intent of a sentence--or, indeed, of a revolution?

Saturday, November 01, 2003

And now it begins.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Three and a half hours... and counting...


Today on NPR, there was a segment that confirmed what I've always suspected, and let's put it on its own line to make sure everyone sees it:
There has never been a death or serious injury due to tampered Halloween candy. Never, ever. Not even once.

This in a study going back to 1958. It's all an urban legend, ladies and gentlemen.

There was also a long segment on gay marriages, which convinced me that it's only a matter of time until they are as culturally accepted as, say, interracial marriages are today. (And yes, if you're wondering, I think that's a Good Thing.) It also featured a couple who was A-OK with gay "unions" but said, "don't you dare call it marriage, because marriage means this, this, and this"; their "this"es were:
  • A coming together of opposites,

  • A legal, social contract, and

  • "Fruition" of the marriage, i.e. children or... uh... something else.

Never mind that they gave no references for these supposed "universal assertions"; take a look at that last one. Rather like Rick Santorum, these folks were stepping all over themselves to say, well, yes, "fruition" could mean children, but it doesn't have to mean it, of course it's all right for people to marry with no intention of having children, but, but, um, the women in the first part of the segment, who had a child via artificial insemination, that, um, doesn't mean fruition, that's only something that a man and a woman can have, because... um...

So a man and a woman who don't want to have kids can and should get married, but a woman and a woman or a man and a man who do want to have kids cannot.

In an odd coincidence, I was recently defending people who do choose to have kids (or have them accidentally, for that matter--hello, mirror!). But, really, can someone explain to me: if the point, as many folks have said, of a marriage is to have kids, and that's why gays shouldn't be allowed to marry... well, why should heterosexuals be allowed to marry if they have no intention (or ability) to have kids?

Come on, social conservatives! Convince me! Really! I'll enjoy telling many of my friends (and more than a few readers of this blog) they they have no right to be married if they're not breeding!

Alert! We have Jennifer Garner rampaging through the Senate!

So a toy gun shut down Capitol Hill yesterday. I wonder if the security guard who was "distracted" and let the "gunslingers" through is contacting a temp agency today.

Seriously, though, how the hell did this happen? I don't have any doubt that security guards are human like the rest of us, but gee whiz, you kind've expect them to at least look at the X-ray monitors for guns.

And more importantly, how the hell did everyone get their stories wrong? It was first reported as one unknown white male who grabbed the bag and ran before the guard could react; it turned out to be two white females who worked there who took their bags and leisurely walked on into the building. There comes a point (male vs. female is one of them!) where bad eyewitness testimony goes beyond "mistakes" and into "willful self-deception." I'm surprised they didn't have the imagined culprit become an Arab with an AK-47. (I'm sure that's what Ashcroft would have seen had he been on the X-ray machine. Or maybe he just would have seen the women as nekkid.)

As if that wasn't bad enough, at almost the same time there was an unattended U-Haul truck that sent the Pentagon into a tizzy; that turned out to be completely benign, too, but these two unrelated events were enough to bring me close to panic, I freely admit. Sometimes I hate living in the Washington area; yesterday was one of those times.

Angel in the morning.

It would have been funnier had Wesley said, "Including this, I've had... this?"

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Apropos of nothing.

This was my first computer.

Is that a hypothetical, or a threat?

One of those questions that always got asked late at college parties was, "Which would you rather be, blind or deaf?"

(Well, that's what I got asked. Never once did anyone ask, say, "You have a condom, right?" Although people did often ask me why I wasn't dancing. Clearly, I went to less exciting parties than the rest of you.)

I was thinking about this after I read a profile of a blind acquaintance in the Washington Post Magazine. Well, strike that. He's not really an acquaintance, but rather someone who I recognize around town; in Greenbelt, by default, you recognize people who spend a lot of time in the town center, especially if you do, yourself. It's that kind of community. Anyway, a copy of the article is posted in the building where D's nursery school is, and I read it this morning.

Interestingly, my answer to the "deaf vs. blind" question has changed as I've gotten older. Throughout high school and college, it wasn't even an issue; I'd rather be blind, no question. Music was far too important a part of my life to lose. And though I was first and foremost an actor, I had very little interest in the visual arts.

Now, music is still an important part of my life; arguably more so, since I can play both the guitar and the piano (in high school, all I could do was sing). Yet my perspective has changed; I would choose (if it were a choice) to be deaf.

I'm not sure why; maybe because I've become more interested in film and animation in recent years, or maybe I don't want to miss my children's faces. I suppose, if nothing else, it's a metaphor for how I've grown and who I've become.

Naturally I'd choose to lose neither sight nor hearing, in the real world. But you can take my sense of smell any day (he says, changing his daughter's diaper).

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I'm sure these are urban legends, but who cares?

Tip of the Spice to Stephanie for these:

  • A kindergarten pupil told his teacher he'd found a cat. She asked him if it was dead or alive.� "Dead,"�she was informed.

    "How do you know?" she asked her pupil.

    "Because I pissed in its ear and it didn't move," answered the child innocently.

    "You did WHAT?!?" the teacher exclaimed in surprise.

    "You know," explained the boy, "I leaned over and went 'Pssst!' and it didn't move."

  • One summer evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her son into bed.� She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a�tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

    The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

    A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

  • It was that time, during the Sunday morning service, for the children's sermon. All the children were invited to come forward.� One little girl was wearing a particularly pretty dress and, as she sat down, the pastor leaned over and said, "That is a very pretty dress.� Is it your Easter Dress?"

    The little girl replied, directly into the pastor's clip-on microphone, "Yes and my Mom says it's a bitch to iron."

  • When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old came into the room when I was just getting ready to get into the shower. She said, "Mommy, you are getting fat!"

    I replied, "Yes, honey, remember Mommy has a baby growing in her tummy."

    "I know," she replied, but what's growing in your butt?"

  • A little boy was doing his math homework. He said to himself, "Two plus five, that son of a bitch is seven.� Three plus six, that son of a bitch is nine...."

    His mother heard what he was saying and gasped, "What are you doing?"

    The little boy answered, "I'm doing my math homework, Mom."

    "And this is how your teacher taught you to do it?" the mother asked.

    "Yes," he answered. Infuriated, the mother asked the teacher the next day, "What are you teaching my son in math?" The teacher replied, "Right now, we're learning addition."

    The mother asked, "And are you teaching them to say two plus two, that son of a bitch is four?"

    After the teacher stopped laughing, she answered, "What I taught them was, two plus two, THE SUM OF WHICH, is four."

  • One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class.� She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer. She read, ".... and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"

    The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think that farmer said?"

    One little girl raised her hand and said, "I think he said: 'Holy Shit! A talking chicken!'"

    The teacher was unable to teach for the next 10 minutes.

It's depressing when you get more comments on one post in someone else's blog than you've gotten on all the posts in your own.
I'm getting scared...

No, really, why not?

E. J. Dionne, in yesterday's Washington Post, asked a trenchant question: if you believe that God is on your side, and that your God is the one true God, why shouldn't you try your best to kill or convert all non-believers?

After all, as he put it, "if you believe that you are in possession of something like the absolute truth -- and have an obligation to proclaim it and a duty to convert others -- religious toleration ultimately involves tolerating 'error' and allowing error to propagate itself." And who wants to tolerate mistakes?

The context, of course, was the certifiably nuts Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin (which reminds me, I need to ask him what the "Jerry" in "William" stands for), who has publicly stated that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that Allah is just an idol. Of course, I disagree with him on the first statement, but in the interest of fairness, I should point out that in a sense, I agree with the second; but then I think all gods are idols, or more generally silly fantasies.

From that perspective, a letter to the editor, also in yesterday's post, got it even more right than Dionne:

Although Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin's remarks have been widely condemned as offensive, the extent of the national security problems created and revealed by those remarks appears not to be widely appreciated. One of those problems is that the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence believes he saw a supernatural entity on a surveillance photo.

If he had reported seeing a leprechaun in Belfast rather than a demon over Mogadishu, I suspect that the administration would have taken more immediate and drastic action.



I was wondering how she got so prolific.

Good gravy, is nothing sacred?

Now we have bloggers letting their blogs out for rent. Surely, this cannot stand. It's an affront to the American way of life. And don't we all want to be Americans?

Then again, maybe I should take up the offer and troll for links. Nah... I like to earn my stripes. (I have also earned some lovely polka dots in my time.)
Sick, sick, sick.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


I keep forgetting to rig the vote!


La la la, la la la, la la la, la la...

The integral of geek.

A recent Singing Potatoes has reminded me just how glad I am that I use Mac OS X. But as if that wasn't enough, I went and turned my old iMac into a GNU/Linux box over the summer.

My primary motivation was so I could port some of my Cocoa programs to GNUstep, but since I haven't actaully released any Cocoa programs yet, that may be a little premature. My second motivation was so I could use LyX to write a novel, but as LyX is also available for OS X, that's a trifle unneeded to say the least.

How much have I used GNU/Linux since I installed it? Almost never. Part of this is 'cause I kept OS X around on that machine as a dual-boot solution, and I've been busy with other projects that require Mac OS X on two machines. But the rest, I suppose, is because I am brainwashed by the Man into believing that I can only work on proprietary systems. Dammit, I should write MY OWN animation software instead of using someone else's non-free software, even if it is perfect for my temperament!

Speaking of novels, if anyone would like to read my effort from last year's NaNoWriMo--you know, the one that nearly forced me into a mental hospital--it's now online in a handy portable text format. Be warned, it's an unfinished novel; 15,000 words of 50,000 required. But some of it's actually pretty good, I think. (Karen: if you read it, feel free to count it as one of the fifty books.)

I haven't decided whether or not I want to go insane this year... only a few days left to weigh the pros and cons.
Darth Vader: Luke! I know what you're getting for Christmas.
Luke Skywalker: How, Father?
Darth Vader: I have felt your presents.

I don't know what I'll get for Christmas, but I know what I want.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Chili gives you wings.

We went to a neighborhood chili party last night. Damned good food. And, by George, we actually know our neighbors enough to go to their chili party, which is a rarity in today's suburban America. Might help that we share one inch thick walls with them, I guess.

The brother-in-law of one of our neighbors is a professional jazz guitarist, based in Minneapolis... in his words, he spent most of his life working for IBM, and now he does music, usually playing in the various musicals that tour on their way in to Broadway. He had brought along a beautiful Ibanez jazz guitar, and our neighbor invited me to bring my axe over so we could play together (which I guess means she doesn't mind my late-night practicing sessions). He had chops, to say the least. We jammed a bit, starting out with a little twelve-bar-blues and "Blue Moon of Kentucky." He was kind enough to let me take the lead (in the sense of calling the tunes, not lead guitar--I'm strictly rhythm, or at least I should be) at first, then I came to my senses, and said to myself, "Squelch, you idiot, you should be learning from someone this good!"

So he taught me the progression to "Tequila" and a whole new kind of twelve bar blues from G, with ninth chords and thirteenth chords and... I realized just how much of a world of guitar-playing there is that I don't have a clue about; that's even without playing solos. (He could play solos. Damn, but he could play solos!)

It was an interesting way to jam with someone, no doubt, while people were munching on hot dogs, corn bread, and chili, crammed into a tiny living room because it was raining outside, and my son trying continuously to grab my pick away or play along.

I'm very much self-taught, musically; there's a certain honor about that, especially if you're a rock-and-roller, but I often, in jam sessions, am acutely aware of how limited my vocabulary can be. Not to say that I can only play I-IV-V--though there's a lot of songs you can sing on I-IV-V--but I certainly don't know jazz chords at all.

After the party was over I exercised the Stay at Home Dad's prerogative and took a night off to see a movie. There's an art house within walking distance from my home and they were showing Winged Migration, which, if you have any interest in avian biology, animation, culture, whatever, you must see. I don't know how they did it, but Canada geese and other species were filmed so close you could see the muscles on their backs working as they flapped their wings. Absolutely incredible, and with some beautiful touches of humor... I'll never forget the ballet music that played as a bird landed, stuck its tail feathers in the air, and strutted in perfect unison with its mate.

Migrating thousands of miles isn't all ballet, of course. A scene where a penguin cub is killed by some sort of gull (as its parents look on, helpless) is heartbreaking. They also had some pre-9/11 shots of New York City, too, which were heartbreaking for entirely different reasons.

All in all, it was insert pithy rejoinder here before publishing

Nobody's Butt-Monkey!

Did you know that Buffy the Vampire Slayer merits its own e-book genre?

Haith of the fart.

Is there anything worse than having the theme to Enterprise stuck in one's head?
Oh, also added, where there are two blogs run by an old college semi-crony. I couldn't decide which one to link to, so now it's up to you!

Keep those bloggies rolling...

In keeping with the New Improved Rooster Spice, I thought it might be time to cut out the dead wood from the Seal of Approval blogs, i.e. kill off those links which are dead or taking indefinite vacations, and put in links that deserved to be added long ago.

Unfortunately, there was a flaw in my plan; some folks who I wanted to add in, notably Mr. Nosuch and Inane Comments, seem to have vanished, and the only blogger whose link really was dead seems to have simply moved and taken yet another new identity. I suppose I can't nag her about that, having taken a new identity of my own.

Godfrey and Laura are of course still pluggin' along, which we're happy about, and Mike has managed to keep posting for about five days now, so he's looking up. In addition, during my time off, I discovered Brian Flemming, who was a California gubernatorial candidate with a unique platform: "If elected, I will resign." He's a playwright and filmmaker, so he reminds me of what I might have been if I were funnier, more together, and a lot more liberal.

So that's it; one addition, one switch, no removals. What was that about dead wood?

Rock, paper, choppers.

K is lucky, in that our daughter doesn't bite while breastfeeding; but I'm unlucky, in that E takes the bitin' out on me.

Man, but that girl could give a T-Rex a run for its money...!

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Remember when the switch from Daylight Savings Time meant you got an extra hour of sleep?

Now, it just means the kids seem to get up an hour earlier.

Unless, of course, they really do get up an hour earlier, in which case you're bopping around at 4:30 AM. Yeehaw!

Saturday, October 25, 2003

The old stuff is always the best.

The Greatest Hits are now online. They're skewed pretty heavily toward the early days of the blog, when I was young and stupid and had only one kid. Still, it's nice to read some of these. Many are actually pretty good.

I'm taking nominations for a better category name than "Greatest Hits."
This is a very cool thing, and very handy, too. But I wonder how they do it; is it some kind of compression algorithm, or a gigantic hash table? I'm betting the latter, as the links seem to appear in sequence. But that worries me; the hash table has to be stored somewhere, and that means they will, eventually, run out of space.

This has been an example of "high-context"; the David Mamet of blog entries.


Well, I have, I think, eliminated all references to my family's true names, from wife to siblings to kids. My own name does remain attached to one post, because the joke wouldn't work if it wasn't.

There are many good things about Blogger's search capability, but it's not the smartest of algorithms. For instance, searching for "uncle" also gives you a hit for "unclear." That's not so bad, but what if you're searching for your brother's name, and hit every post you wrote about--

Wait, I can't say it, or I'll reveal his name! But--AAAARGH! (head explodes)

There is a story here, but you do not want to hear it.

The world's best and least-known laxative.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Royale with cheese.

Wondering why AOL doesn't have software for Linux is a little like wondering why Maxim's doesn't serve a Whopper.

Forty watt.

I tend to alternate between periods of frenzied creative activity and complete lack thereof. At the moment, I must be coming up on a frenzy, 'cause Ideas (for animations, mostly) have been dropping into my head like... like... things dropping into heads (I said I had ideas, not metaphors). Here are some, mostly just so I'll remember them, not so you folks can comprehend them:
  • Shaggy on a cell-phone

  • Clubbin' Baby Ceil

  • The Book of His Life

  • The God Note

  • 24 to 30 inverse telecine program (for transferring animations to DV)

  • Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue

There will be a quiz later.
What do you guys think of a "Greatest Hits" section on the right, there, containing links to some favorite posts?

Squelch sits and waits, realizing the surefire way to expose how few people are reading is to ask a question.

I'm not really here.

People have wondered why I'm bothering to conceal my name, considering that most people who read this blog read it before last April, when it had my name proudly emblazoned all over it. It's usually futile to try to conceal one's identity in the best of circumstances; I've been told to never try to hide one's blog from those you don't want to read it, because they'll find it all the quicker.

That's all true, no doubt. But I find myself wondering what will happen ten years down the line, when D and E are awkward teenagers; will they really want their friends searching Google for their names and discovering memoirs of their potty-training? (All this assumes Google still exists, and for that manner Rooster Spice still exists.) More immediately, do I really want immediate family stumbling across entries like this one and worrying about me on a daily basis?

Not to mention that I think one Google search already ruined the wife's chances for a little interview.

Yeah, our real names will still show up in the Google archives. But this will make me feel a little better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Going, going...

I've begun the quixotic task of removing any references to my name, or my immediate family's. (The posts won't be removed, but the names will be changed to protect the innocent.) So if you have anything you'd like to keep unadulterated, get it now.

Or, just visit the Wayback Machine.

Could I have Aging Gracefully for $400, Alex?

Arthritis. Overactive bladder. Erectile dysfunction.

Somehow I don't think I'm in the demographic which "Jeopardy" advertisers covet.

King Jeb?

Yes, I know the law only applies to Florida, and I know that it's narrowly focused on one particular (very particular) class of court decisions, but gee whiz, it's still dangerous to allow the governor to override the courts!

I have an opinion, sure, about whether the woman in a vegetative state should be on or off the feeding tube, but frankly it's none of my business, so I don't really care to share it. Do I wish the family could have resolved it without getting into a legal battle? Sure. Do I think it's worth running roughshod over the separation of powers? Hell, no.

After all, remember the last time there was a court battle in Florida? Did we want Jeb Bush to be able to override the judges then? (Then again, the outcome would have been the same...)
All right, we've moved to a new commenting system, which, for the time being, seems more reliable, if butt-ugly. One warning--don't put your true email in the box. The current template has no spam-stopper. (So don't put someone else's in there either.)
I'm told there are currently issues with the commenting engine. I have opened it up and applied oil, but am waiting for the repairman to get back to me. Watch this space for further development.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Where have you been?

None of your damn business.

But, if you must know, I did make it into the 48 Hour Film Project, we made a great film which didn't place at all (I'm not bitter, no sir!), I've returned to animation after a long hiatus (longer than the blogging break), the Band has not been together all summer, D is going to a new school, and that's about it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need lunch.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

I didn't hear anything. Did you?

Welcome back to Rooster Spice! All-new, all-impersonal! No more wailing self-pity! No more threats of suicide! Just events and commentary, with nothing inside the author's head!

With any luck, we can have no worries from readers--and no interest, either.

Okay, fine, some of you know who I am, but who cares? I don't! Anyone new will have to DIG DEEP to find out the Truth.

As deep as this page, for instance. Yes, one of those entries is by your faithful blogger! Enjoy it while you can, before I get into a snit and decide to pull the site down again.

Ta-ta for now!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Friday, September 12, 2003

Shit, look out, I think it's about to topple over--

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hmmm... is the top swaying, or is that my imagination?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

It's very pretty! The roots look a little rotted, though...

Monday, September 08, 2003

Look at that big ol' tree.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Hmm... we seem to be in a forest.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Announcing the inevitable. One year ago today, I started this blog. And one year later, I finish it.

Of course, as anyone who's still checking for updates knows, it really ended a few months back, but this swan song appeals to my sense of symmetry.

I'm mourning, a little. But really, this whole thing started as a exercise in writing every day, and then morphed into something that (a few, anyway) people actually read, and then I started worrying about sharing all my innermost thoughts on the Web...

I could, I suppose, simply not share quite as much or in quite so much detail, but that, frankly, isn't my nature.

Really, it isn't fun anymore, and if I need to keep another journal, I'll do it on paper, in a notebook, which worked fine before.

I may start another blog someday, but if I do, it will be anonymous, so don't look for links to it. I'm kind of bummed that I won't be able to use "Rooster Spice" again. I really liked the name.

And so, with probably no one listening, I shut down the computer ("put down my pen" sounds better, but isn't accurate), secure in the knowledge that no one will ever again email, call, or worry over me because of some stupid thing I wrote when I was tired.

See you in the funny papers...

Monday, April 07, 2003

This article is old, but a hoot.

God is Dead, After Weather and Sports
Oooh, look! Conspiracy theories aren't just for the far right anymore!

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

HOW many hours? I'm hoping against hope that I'll be selected to do a film in this year's 48 Hour Film Project. I mailed in my application by Priority Mail the day of the announcement, so with any luck I'll be one of the first fifteen applications received, and thus guaranteed a slot.

I've already started lining up a crew, and thanks to Greenbelt Access Television, which loans out prosumer cameras and equipment to members, I actually might be able to get some good-looking footage.

I attended GATE's annual meeting on Sunday. I expected it to be a Mickey-Mouse organization, and man, was I mistaken. They have two Sony VX2000s, a Power Mac G4 with Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro, and a very active and knowledgeable membership base, including people who actually get PAID to do film and video. One of the members demonstrated the new Panasonic camera that shoots in 24 frames per second--the same fps as film. (Standard video in North America is 30 fps--actually 59.94 fields per second, but let's not get too technical.) And afterwards, she offered to help with the 48 hour project, and more importantly, offered me an editing gig.

Things be looking up, they be.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Thursday the 13th, and I've been a-busy burning DVDs with command-line tools. What fun!

There, that takes care of my blogging obligations for another week, and I don't have to write about the war.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Bushwhacked. I suppose I really ought to write something about the new "Let's Make a Deal." Not because I watched it (I didn't) and not because I think it's brilliant television (I don't). Rather, because of Billy Bush, former Z104 morning man turned game show host.

And, no, I'm not going to write about his relation to our Commander-in-Fief. I'm going to write about his relationship to me--he went to college with me, and graduated with my class, even. We never hung out or indeed even met. We ran in very different circles.

I was a theater major, and once I was involved in a horrible, nightmarish production of Romeo and Juliet. I was working on something else at the time and joined the cast basically as a favor to the professor who was directing. I had a cameo as the Prince, a small but important role.

As the rehearsals went on, it became clear that I had made a bad, bad decision. So I arranged to be fired--I told the director I was taking a day off for family reasons, he got angry, and I said, look, you can find someone else to play the Prince. So, he fired me, and I waltzed away. I'm not particularly proud of that, in hindsight; it was horribly unprofessional. But, from a student's standpoint, it was the right thing to do.

I went to see the production when it opened. The guy who replaced me (and who played the Prince woodenly, though like a soft wood, maybe pine) was Billy Bush, who had never acted in the four years we had been at Colby, as far as I know.

Do you suppose if I had played the Prince, I would be hosting "Let's Make a Deal" now?

If so... I definitely made the right choice.

(By the way, my graduation speaker was noted atheist-hater George H.W. Bush. What an amazing coincidence!)

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

It turns out that the Walt Disney Co., which shoots off spectacular fireworks displays every night of the week at its Epcot and Magic Kingdom theme parks in Florida, is one of the biggest private owners of explosives in the world. -- The Washington Post, 25 February 2003

NEW YORK--Today, in a stunning move, the United States opened another front in the war on terror, proposing a U.N. resolution demanding that Disney World immediately disarm itself of all weapons of mass destruction.

"The Mouse has roared in the past," said Secretary of State Colin Powell, addressing a special session of the U.N. Security Council, "and it shall roar again."

In contrast to the debate over war with Iraq, most European nations wholeheartedly endorse the resolution. "Disney has been implicated in numerous crimes against good taste and commerce," said French President Jaques Chirac. "Why is it so hard to believe they would make their next piece of merde Broadway musical open at the theatre of war?"

Disney Chairman Michael Eisner could not be reached for comment, but through a prerecorded statement said, "The Magic Kingdom will never fall as long as there are children to breathe the gas--er, air of Disney World." There was then what sounded like a high pitched giggle and the tape ended.

Disney is well known for its relentless campaign to stamp out the Public Domain, an effort that the International Criminal Court has likened to genocide, though the U.S. Supreme Court has call this charge "bull hockey." In addition, numerous claims of worker cruelty abound at their headquarters in Orlando.

"They make us wear these horrible baroque uniforms in the Florida summer sun," said one source on condition of anonymity. "Our heads are completely covered with graven images from Disney's past, and we have to laugh and interact with tourists, but we're not allowed to tell them how it really works."

Lately, analysts have noted that the Magic Kingdom's power has been waning, pointing to such desperation moves as funding the construction of Spanish galleons that fly through space and their request that Peter Jennings either work for half his current salary or deliver the news with the voice of Donald Duck.

Reaction from Democrats on Capitol Hill has been generally supportive, but skeptical. "It seems, again, that we're going after an Iraq while ignoring a North Korea," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (N.D.). "Ask any journalist, and they'll tell you the real danger is not Disney, but Fox."
Are you gonna believe what you see or what I tell you? I went to see the film Chicago the other day, at last. Chicago, the musical, is somewhat dear to my heart since I performed in it back in high school. I played Harry (in the film, he's the guy who Lucy Liu perforates), which meant I only had one line. That was OK with me, though, as I got to deliver that line whilst in bed with two scantily clad girls. You tell me, is there any better way for an adolescent boy to spend his time?

As for the movie, I thought it was fantastic. They made a few changes (cut a song here and there, mostly) but I felt they worked to make it a better film. I particularly liked the re-purposing of "Razzle Dazzle."

One thing which fooled me a bit (MINOR SPOILER): if you're familiar with the play, you know that the character of Mary Sunshine, a female reporter, is played by a man in drag (and revealed as a big surprise toward the end of the show). Well, naturally, I checked the character out thoroughly throughout her scenes, and finally I said to myself, "Aha! That's Hugo Weaving." I figured it made sense, given that he was in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Imagine my embarassment when the credits came up and listed Christine Baranski. Sorry, Ms. Baranski, that I think you look like a man.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Monsters from the id.

So much snow, of course, has its casualties. Chief among them? My back. I shoveled snow on Sunday and wound up in severe pain throughout Monday, Tuesday, and today. I've been squeaking "Ouch" with each movement until very recently, and been more intimate with a heating pad than I care to relate.

Other than that, the snow was gorgeous. K and I curled up with a vintage sci-fi flick (Forbidden Planet) and watched the world get buried. Our court wasn't plowed until yesterday, and the job was too tough for the regular fleet, so they called in a backhoe which poured the snow into gigantic piles that look like nothing so much as mashed potatoes. Someone get Richard Dreyfuss.

D, of course, loved it. We had to borrow a sled from a neighbor and we didn't spend nearly enough time at it. I should clarify--I didn't spend any time at it, as I was in the throes of severe back pain. K went out with D and nearly hurt herself as well, pulling him in the sled to a decent hillock. (It's somewhat difficult for D to walk through two-foot accumulation as he's only a bit over three feet tall.) And the latest is that his nursery school is closed for the rest of the week.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

And ta-da; I now have that much more disk space to waste on video and digital camera pictures.
Three unrelated links about unrelated things:

First, my buddy Pat, known to these pages by an alternate name, wrote a short story which was published in a literary magazine. You can view it online here (scroll down to the title "The Return of Mavis").

Second, last night's show raised about $2500 to help Topher put his life back together. A smashing success.

Third, I'm about to perform an act of terror, at least in Apple's eyes; I'm going to replace the hard drive in my vintage iMac. Wish me luck.

(I wonder how quickly my page will be Googled for "perform an act of terror," and whether I'll get hits from,,, etc...)

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Three unrelated links about the Columbia:

First, courtsey of Mike, here's a link to the actual mission report. Scroll down towards the Event and you can get a sense of what people were thinking as it happened, before anyone knew what happened.

Second, Godfrey on an oddly prophetic episode of Cowboy Bebop.

And finally, courtesy of Mr. Nosuch, one of the few things to laugh about.
One Operator on Call the Day of Fatal Fire

My friend Topher lost his home and all his belongings in this fire on January 15. Not to mention his housemate. A few excerpts from this article:

Nicolas Gutman, who lived in the burning rowhouse's basement, has said he called 911 shortly after he was awakened at 5:15 a.m. But, Gutman said, he heard a recorded message and never spoke to police or fire operators....

According to 911 tapes released this week, the first word of the fire came from a D.C. police officer, who reported at 6 a.m. that smoke was coming from behind the Colombian Embassy... around the corner and one block east of the actual fire....

City officials said yesterday that the problems did not appear to have had an impact on the outcome of the blaze.

"We're continuing to look at this, but there does not seem to be any significant delay, if any, in the response of Fire-EMS," said Deputy Mayor Margret Nedelkoff Kellems. [Gutman called at 5:15, and the system wasn't notified until 6? That's not "significant"?--Z.]

... Gutman also has said that he ran up to the window of an idling D.C. police car after fleeing the rowhouse and tried to ask for help. "The policeman just rolled up his window" and left, Gutman said. [Police Chief Charles] Ramsey and other officials have said they are investigating.

What a frickin' mess.

Topher's improv comedy troupe, Washington Improv Theater, is holding a benefit performance for him tonight. All proceeds go directly his way. If you're in D.C., come on by. Here's info from the email they sent out a few days ago:
WIT's Benefit Extravaganza for Topher

Source Theatre
1835 14th Street, NW
Metro: U Street-Cardozo (Green Line)

Gathering begins at 7:30pm.
Performance starts at 8:00pm.
No reservations necessary.

$15 suggested donation, but give more if you can!
Cash and check donations only (please no other donated items at this event).

All proceeds go to help Topher

P.S. If you're unable to attend but want to help Topher financially, please send
a check, made out to Christopher Bellavia, c/o WIT, P.O. Box 73156,
Washington, DC 20056.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Maybe you've noticed I'm taking a vacation. I wish I had a super-cool reason for it, like being in Hawaii or Prague or even Duluth, but alas, it's simply because of lack of sleep and time. E's still waking up at all hours, and I've been consumed with yet another project (this time it might actually be useful to you, at least if you use Mac OS X--more later).

My friend Rex threw a party Saturday, and the Gonnas played to an appreciative audience which included my wife--yes, we got out of the house! How about that? Unlike Art-O-Matic and the previous party, this time we couldn't even give our CDs away (though I'll admit, most of the folks at the party already had 'em, which might have been a factor). I was excited because our newest song, mostly written by yours truly, was a big crowd-pleaser. I even got to sing a couple tunes, and sat in on the drums for "Safety Dance." And, you know, I really can dance if I want to. I can leave all my friends behind. Why? Well, because my friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, they're no friends of mine. At least, they didn't dance at this party, despite all our exhortations.

A joke goes here to wrap things up. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

D'oh, looks like Kathy caught me... the story for February is coming soon.
And now for something completely different. My 8-track recorder arrived today, and now you can hear its first mix. Okay, so it won't win a Grammy.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

X-Plane is a flight simulator which boasts a comprehensive flight model. It even allows you to simulate flying the Space Shuttle.

Which is why you should visit its website, today, to see a great example of true class.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Today our DSL started behaving like DSL again. While a week of 14.4-style modem speed gave me that warm nostalgic feeling, to be back at real speed, especially with Safari, is stunning.

Squelch, write post. So, we return from another binge of non-postings. I've been distracted; I discovered my lost love of adventure games after I went looking for a way to play Zork on the Unix layer of OS X. I found that (as well as a way to play them on Palm OS), but discovered there a whole sub-culture out there, who refer to such games with the somewhat lofty title of "interactive fiction," and a whole sub-subculture of folks who write new programs for the "Z-machine," the virtual computer which the old Infocom games ran on. There are free Z-Machine interpreters for nearly every platform out there, and not only are the first three Zork games released to the public, but so is The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, which was actually the first adventure game I ever played.

So now, I'm thinking: Hey, I'm a writer and an actor and a programmer to boot. What could be better than trying to create an interactive world? I can see it now! I'll learn the language. I'll enter contests! I'll take them all by storm!

All the while, never revealing that I never actually finished an adventure game except Hitchhiker's, and that only because I bought the hint book and read every darn hint...

Monday, January 27, 2003

Literally? Heard on All Things Considered last Friday:
You have a situation where the President and CEO of an organization are literally dropping boulders on each other in public!
-- David D'Ellesandro of John Hancock Financial Services, speaking of what must be really nasty infighting at the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Sunday, January 26, 2003


Saturday, January 25, 2003

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Yesterday the Gonnas performed at a party. It was like we were rock stars, man.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Startin' early.

D stopped going to a developmental pre-school (which was doing him no good at all) and started going to his regular nursery school five mornings a week. He had been going there three days a week--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, in a very small class with only three other boys (no girls). Yesterday was his first day at the Tuesday-Thursday class. There are two other kids who go all five days, and the rest are new.

So we asked him who he saw at nursery school, and he answered, somewhat rakishly:

"Malcom, and Marcus... and girls!"

Monday, January 20, 2003

At what point does a mom-and-pop store become an evil, profiteering monolith from whom it's OK to steal? I mean, would you have ripped off the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) when they were building machines in their garage? Or, would you have made (if you could) and released an MP3 of "My Guy" when it was the first hit for Barry Gordy's upstart record company?

Think about it.

As for me, I encourage you to steal content from this blog. I've given up on riches, and I'll settle for notoriety.
This is worth a look. I don't neccesarily agree with the implication, but it is food for thought.

Funk soul brother.

Have a good weekend?

There was something profound I wanted to say. Alas! I don't remember what.

Someone asked me the other day to help work on a Star Wars fan film. Except it's not a film, but a radio drama. They had seen Star Wars: Episode One and a Half and enjoyed it, so they asked me to do some dialogue editing.

I'm touched. I'm also busy. But I'm afraid I have the Michael Caine disease (I Just Can't Say No). Still, I really really want to finish my current projects before I embark on anyone else's. So I'm thinking I should decline on this one.

On a side note, I found out today that my older brother, who I haven't seen in well over twelve years and haven't talked to since 1995 (nor has anyone in my family), got married in 1998. My Dad told me this, and he found out vis a Google search, of all things. Yes, I love the family communication skills.

Really, though, my brother (whose name I won't mention in this blog, to protect his privacy--he is not my younger brother C---s who I've previously mentioned) is a stranger to me. We didn't grow up together, he's twelve years older than me, he lived with his mother while I was growing up, and he doesn't keep in touch with anyone in our family but my older sister (also a product of my father's first marriage). I do have a few happy memories about him on the rare occasions he would visit my Dad; one particularly vivid image was one spring day, and all of us were running under the "helicopter trees" (you know, those seeds that spin around as they fall through the air) which were showering down like mad, and I ran straight into him and we bonked heads somehow (he must have been bending down). I can still hear the clonk! sound it made.

That's actually one of the few happy memories I have from childhood. Not that my childhood was unhappy; it's just that when a divorce happens, it tends to crowd out all the other memories. So I imagine my brother doesn't remember that moment, since his folks (obviously) divorced before mine... not to mention that if his folks hadn't divorced, his little brother Squelch wouldn't have even existed.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Bumped. Well, the NPR story came and went and they didn't use K after all. However, she did pop up in this USA Today article, where she even got a promotion (she is most definitely not "head of the [National Marine Fisheries Service]'s highly migratory species office").

Thursday, January 16, 2003

(Burma Shave)
and a lot of things, at that.
I actually have things to say
so it will look like
post tiny little sentence fragments
I think I will just
Oh, and I actually made some progress with the music for the movie. Sounds like utter carp [sic] but hey, it's a start. There's time to finesse it after I get Directorial Approval.
K's NPR bit didn't happen tonight, so presumably if you listen to Morning Edition tomorrow, you'll hear it.
More! More! Give me more, I want more! (You know who you are, you PIRATE!)

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I want to perform again. I want people to tell me how wonderful I am and how privileged they feel to just be in the same room with me. I want to make people laugh and cry and love. I want to be flattered because people think I'm in a position of power. I want to be surrounded by fakes and hangers-on. I want to have an agent, a manager, a personal assistant, a makeup artist, and various other people whose sole purpose in life is to make me look good. And then I want it all to go away in a flash, so I can spend the rest of my life trying pathetically to recapture my glory days.

Oh, wait. That already happened. It was called "high school," when people used to stop me in the street and say how much they enjoyed my performance in the school plays. And I was sure I was the best performer in the school, nay, in the state. And when I was on stage and people were laughing, there was no one who could touch me, damn it.

I mean, sure, I never kissed a girl 'til I was nineteen, and my father would occasionally throw me out of the house, and my sense of self-worth when off stage was nonexistent... but so what?

Whatever that ineffable Thing is, that It, that thing that's generally translated as Talent, but also encompasses charisma, confidence, presence: I had It then. Then I came to college and It started to weaken as I realized there were folks around me who were better than me; and then college ended, and I gave up, and now It's gone forever.

I want validation, and yes, it is painful, and no, no matter how good it is, it will never be enough.

I'm like a drug addict, and my whole life has been a search for that high...
You know, people pay ridiculous amounts of money to have video edited. Maybe I should hang out a shingle?
Violin, lin, lin... My friend Rex and I have a film we've been trying to finish for over a year now, gathering dust (metaphorically) on my hard drive. We finally did two re-shoots a month or two ago, so now all that's holding it back, really, is the score, which is up to me to write. Have you ever tried to compose music whilst caring for a toddler and an infant?

Sometimes I do wish I had a genuine STUDIO where I could compose, edit, animate, and write to my heart's content. But would I do those things, or just fritter the time away like I do now?

I'd love to not have to share this computer. But then, I'd love to not have to share time, either, to not have any obligations, to just do MY THING whatever it may be.



Anyway, needless to say I didn't do the music yet. I have the tune and beat that I want; but I have to actually get it into the computer with my *&@$#% software synth and sound-editing suite that only works under Mac OS 9. So does my video editor, for that matter, so I have to reboot the computer every time I want to work on the film. This is what I mean by not wanting to share; I can't just let the machine linger, knowing that K will use it if she needs to and won't disturb my projects. As long as it's sitting in OS 9, K can't use it.

And now stupid Apple says that the newest Macs won't boot up in OS 9 anymore. So if I ever get a new Mac, I'll have to get a new video editor, sound editor, and software synth.

It's enough to make one turn to piracy. Hello, LimeWire?
Miss K is supposed to be on All Things Considered tomorrow, or possibly Morning Edition on Friday. Enjoy.
Cool shit:

Forwarding Address: OS X
The Humane Environment

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Talk to me instead! So my wife will be interviewed on NPR in the next few days, though I don't know for which program. It's always been my dream to be on NPR. I've been reminding her of this ever since I found out. I wonder if she's annoyed yet.

Anyway, I think she'll probably be dropped at the last minute. Why? Well, I was checking my referral logs today, you see; and there were three page views from someone searching Google for her name. With some dread, I checked what server this person was using. Guess what it was.
Bits. Another birthday present was a new SmartMedia card to go with my new digital camera. The one that came with the camera had 8MB--the new one has 128MB. For comparison, consider that I could take about 16 high-quality pictures with 8MB, and now I can take over 250.

What really brings it home, though, is that this little chip, about half the size of a business card, has ten times the storage capacity of the computer I used throughout college. And 1024 times the RAM of my first Macintosh. And an insane amount more than my first computer, a VIC 20 with 5K of memory, of which 2K was video...

Sunday, January 12, 2003


I turned on the baby monitor, thinking both our kids were asleep. The moment I did, D broadcasted this important message:
"I love potatoes. PO... TAAAYYY... TOES!"

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Another day older. Things aplenty have been a-happenin' here. First off, today is my birthday. Had a nice chocolate cake and a few presents, the best of which was by far being able to go to a movie alone with my wife while someone else watched the kiddies. (We saw The Two Towers, but that's neither here nor there.)

Secondly, I'm finally able to burn DVDs and SVCDs on my iMac. I have a G3 processor and an external DVD-RW drive and those programs like iDVD only work for G4s with internal drives. BUT there are now, apparently, open-source DVD burning utilities which, though primitive (no menus, yet) do allow one to burn video DVDs that can play in your regular player. I did a test with a clip from the Star Wars spoof project, and man, was it ever exciting to see that in pristine 16x9 video! So that'll be my first full DVD burn, I think.

Thirdly, The Gonnas are gettin' serious. We're gonna invest in a digital multitrack recorder and make a decent demo CD. And--ta da!--you can now listen to our songs at So stop on by!

Phew! If I posted more often I wouldn't have to write so much at once. And I didn't even mention the silent movies...

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Pet peeve. Fully loaded with a 1GHz PowerPC G4, 1MB of L3 cache, AirPort Card, Mega-wide display, Radeon graphics and a slot-loading SuperDrive, the 15-inch Titanium PowerBook G4 boasts jaw-dropping features -- including it's price: all this is now just $2799.

They make good software, great computers, and the world's best operating system; but they still don't know the difference between it's and its.