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

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.