Monday, January 31, 2011

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Via an article in Wired:

An unexpected and unwanted text message from a wireless company prematurely exploded a would-be suicide bomber’s vest bomb in Russia New Year’s Eve, inadvertently thwarting a planned attack on revelers in Moscow, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The would-be suicide bomber was planning to detonate a suicide belt bomb near Red Square, a plan that was foiled when her wireless carrier sent her an SMS while she was still at a safe house, setting off the bomb and killing her. The message reportedly wished her a Happy New Years, according to the report, which sourced the info from security forces in Russia.

I find that at once hilarious and a sign that our electronic devices are plotting our eventual destruction. 

Randomly Awesome

In celebration of submitting a short story today, here's stuff I find randomly awesome.

1) Vincent Price explains cricket.
2) An album I wish I had.
3) Every Doctor Who theme ever.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bad Vibrations

So the spymobile had to go to town for a check-up this week, and since the tires were as smooth as Howie Mandel's head, the S/O kindly offered to take in and have the fluids changed and new tires put on. Unfortunately that meant that for the day I was stuck driving the Vibe.

The Vibe and I don't really get along. The clutch is alternately too stiff or too spongy, and the gears are all squinched together so that if I'm aiming for third, I'm far more likely to hit fifth. Reverse is down and to the right instead of up and to the left like it is in the Volkswagen, so I have to mentally prepare myself to back up so that I don't shoot into whatever's in front of me. Add to that the S/O had some kind of arcane Star Wars stickers on the back, so that I look like a nerd, but not the cool nerd I actually am. (To be fair, I'm sure my nice Catholic sweetie isn't thrilled about my favorite bumper sticker, depicting Cthulhu snacking on a Jesus fish.)

I make my initial foray to the Piggly-Wiggly down the street because A) it's expired meat day, when you can get slightly brown ground beef for like 79 cents a pound (it's fine as long as you cook it long enough), and B) I need to re-acclimate myself to driving someone else's car.  Ah, I miss my fine German engineering. Nazis make great cars, but terrible popes. (Just kidding. I'm sure there probably aren't any actual Nazis left making Volkswagens.The pope, however, is still a Nazi.)

It doesn't go badly, so I set out for the afternoon trek, which is actually more like the Bataan Death March, but in a car full of children. First I have to pick up the small child from kindergarten, then pick up my daughter at college, drop her off at work, run errands, go back and pick up kid #4 from drama practice, take the small children home, then pick up my daughter from work. (I have a flow chart, lest someone get left behind).

I soon realize that things are going to be fine as long as I don't have to actually stop.

For some reason, if I come to a complete stop, downshift to first and then try to move,  the Vibe dies. I try different combinations of clutch/gas. I recall the gear ratio being vastly different than the spymobile, but I don't recall ever having so much trouble accelerating in first. I'm getting nervous, because I really don't want to leave my sweetie's transmission in little smoking bits on the roadway. To make things worse, it's all stop and go for the next four hours.

I figure I'll get the hang of, I just need to adjust. I figure wrong.

I stall at every red light and every stop sign. People honk. I'm frustrated, because I can zip around town in the spymobile like nobody's business. I want to get out and scream at them, "I'm not a bad driver! It's a the stupid car!" Because obviously it IS the car, and the car is laughing at me.

Also, too, there is no clock in the car. My car has a clock. Everything has a clock: cell phone, microwave, computer. Why does this car have no clock? How do I know if I"m running late? I either have to flip open the cell phone or keep circling past the funeral home, which does have a clock. Unlike this car.

Finally, one kid in the car. Now off to the college, where it's 3-ish and everybody is getting out of class. Everybody. I park in my daughter's dorm parking lot to wait for her to do whatever she does. I pull out the cell phone to text her that I'm not driving my car. It takes forever, because I believe texting is no excuse for bad grammar. Unfortunately, my phone has some kind of predictive text function that I can't turn off (because I'm old, dammit) and it refuses to let me type Vibe, replacing it with "vibes" every time. Eventually, I just send the stupid message. "I'm outside your dorm. I'm driving the vibes."

In frustration, I drop the phone. This is when I notice there is a ginormous, wicked-looking knife on the passenger-side floormat, the kind that some greaser hoodlum out of Stephen King's "Stand By Me" would pull out after he was done rolling his pack of cigarettes up in the sleeve of his white t-shirt. This surprises me, because the most dangerous weapon the S/O is likely to be in possession of is a pair of nail clippers.

I call the S/O and ask, "Why is there a huge knife in your car?"

"Oh, I found that in the Piggly-Wiggly parking lot, and thought I better not leave it around for kids to find. There's no blood on it, is there?"

This is good question, because now I'm imagining it's the weapon from a trailer-park triple murder, ditched quickly in the parking lot when the hoodlums stopped for expired ground beef. I am now calculating the likelihood that I'm either going to slam into somebody while trying to reverse the car or be hit from behind while I'm stalled in the intersection, and the investigating officer is going to say, "Ma'am, why do you have that giant knife in your car? It look just like the one that killed them folks out to the HappyTime trailer park."  I quickly shove it into the glove compartment under the owner's manual.

Finally, my daughter arrives. As I said, everyone is leaving the campus. I stall the car roughly 8 times between the dorm parking lot and the cross street. I let out a string of expletives, mostly creative variations of the word "fuck." My daughter arches an eyebrow at me and says, "What happened to you trying not to curse so much?"

I reply, "All rules are fucking suspended until I'm out of this fucking car!" and wave my hands wildly in the air like Bill Paxton at the end of Aliens. It's 3:30, and I've been in the car for almost exactly an hour.

We painfully make our way in bumper-to-bumper traffic to her place of work, where she gratefully exits the car. Since there's not enough time to go home, I set out on the errands. I have realized that in addition to lifting one foot off the clutch while slowly depressing the gas pedal with the other foot, I must also focus all my mental energies on willing the car forward. The car has become Tinkerbell, and if I don't clap loudly enough it will die.

I'm still stalling at roughly every third stop. People are still honking. I resist the urge to get out of the car and walk up to them and scream, "IT'S NOT MY CAR." I resist the urge to pull into the Home Depot and buy a sledge hammer and beat the Vibe into a piece of stationary modern art. 

Albertson's has no mini-eggrolls. At Burger King  the small child enjoys a kid's meal, drinks too much orange Fanta, and tells me about his day. I don't want to leave the Burger King. Winn-Dixie has an amazing deal on toilet paper. Finally, it's time to pick up kid #4.

Drama is in the old chapel, which sits on a one-way street. I manage to park, and once kid #4 is the car, find I cannot pull out because A) I'm on a slight incline, and B) the 20,000 cars attempting to pick up kids are all enormous SUVs waiting to crush me. I finally dart out, and amazingly enough, we are not instantly killed.

I run the small kids home, thinking I'll be able to sit down for 45 minutes -- my leg is completely numb and I have a cramp in my foot from riding the clutch -- but when I pull into the driveway, the phone rings. My daughter is off work early. I fling the children, the 45 rolls of toilet paper, and my daughter's laundry onto the porch and leave again. (Kid #1 + fiancee are home to watch them -- I'm not totally irresponsible.)

Finally it's 6:30, and after four hours and roughly 90 stalls, I am home. I've survived and the transmission doesn't seem to be on fire. The S/O finally makes it home. The good news is the mechanic said that the spymobile is in pretty good shape for a car with almost 300,000 miles on it. The bad news is it needs a little front end work and the parts on are order for next week. Sigh.

So next week, if you're in my neck of the woods and you see a woman in a blue Vibe stalled in an intersection, don't honk. She has a knife.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Midseason Doldrums - Tales from the DVR

Used to be, TV series rolled out on a predictable schedule. Fall premieres, the occasional mid-season replacement, and the burn-off of the unwanted during the summer, when decent people weren't inside watching TV, but rather out catching fireflies or having ice cream socials or some such.

No more. Now TV is like one of those endless sushi conveyor belts. And while what you get is mostly the same old Spicy Tuna or California Roll, you keep looking in the hopes that something fresh and exciting is just around the bend. 

My DVR is hovering at that 50% level (about 100 hours), the level where I start to get nervous, so I figured it was time to start clearing it out. (Not all of that is mine - the S/O has like 20 hours of old newsreels and the entire America: the Story of Us miniseries that he may never get around to watching. And quite a bit of it is stuff we watch together -- the full season of Mad Men, the full season of Castle, among others -- because a hot date night around here usually consists of dozing off in the middle of an episode of White Collar.)

First off: Unfinished and Finished Business.

Fringe - I am so glad Fringe is back. In it's third season, it's really hit its stride, and good Friday numbers (Shock!) mean that it's moved from the cancellation heap to the maybe-not-cancellation heap. Hope springs eternal.

The whole Fauxlivia storyline was nerve-wracking (in a good way) and the aftermath is just heartbreaking. Yeah, I don't know if I could get over finding out the man I love was sleeping with the fake evil me from an alternate universe and didn't even realize it either.

Best line? Peter asks Walter if he's all right and Walter responds, "If by all right you mean despondent, then yes." Did I mention how much I love Walter?

Medium - Medium has been a dependably good show, a happy little workhorse. I always found it worth watching. Joe and Allison Dubois (played by Jake Webber and Patricia Arquette) were hands-down the best TV couple: real, messy, devoted. I was terribly fond of them. So I faced the series finale with some trepidation. Would it do justice to the seven years that preceded it?

Er, no. In fact, if I had a time machine and could go back and not have watched the finale, I would. I want to find Glenn Gordon Caron and kick him repeatedly in the shins. And I LIKE Glenn Gordon Caron (Moonlighting and the criminally canceled Now and Again).

But this was just, well, a mess, and a mean-spirited mess at that. Like a pie made completely of "Fuck you, viewers." The last two minutes were nice, and it was sweet that everybody got to wave goodbye at the end, but that didn't make up for the preceding 58 minutes of crap. Me, I'm going to pretend it didn't happen and write my own ending, and like Allison, I'll have woken up and it will only have been a dream.

Now onto the new shows....

The Cape -- Reviewed it once, and the second episode didn't change my opinion much. I say just give Keith David his own show and do away with all the sappy earnestness. Verdict? Off the DVR.

Harry's Law -- The previews for this looked cute and I like Kathy Bates. I look at David E. Kelley with a jaundiced eye, because the last show if his I actually liked was Picket Fences. Since then it seems like everything he done as been a sackful of quirks in search of substance.

How to best describe Harry's Law? It's like an update of the White Shadow, but with a grumpy old lawyer instead of a grumpy old basketball coach. And not in a good way. I had the uncomfortable feeling that it was written by old white liberals who tell you, "But I have black friends!" It was creepily paternalistic and hackneyed. It wasn't horrible, but I felt a little embarrassed watching it.

Add to that, it was, again, a sackful of quirks (it's a law office and shoe store!) and a huge lack of character development (why was Nate Corddry hot to work there again?) and so many old TV tropes you'd need a passel of sticks to wallop them with. Verdict? Off the DVR.

Off the Map - Do not want. Didn't watch. From the people who brought you Grey's Anatomy, of which I saw an episode once, I think the one where Kyle Chandler exploded. It was enough to make me swear off things of this ilk, much like I quit doing tequila shooters once I got to college. Here's a sample of an episode blurb:

"Lily and Ben help a wildlife photographer who is being attacked by an anaconda; Tommy learns a cultural lesson." Er, what?

Verdict: Never on the DVR.

Fairly Legal - this one surprised me, as I'm naturally distrustful of "law" shows since Perry Mason went off the air.  I'm looking at you, David E. Kelley.

But this was pretty delightful. First off Sarah Shahi is adorable, kind of like a Mary Tyler Moore for the new millennium. It was sharp, interesting, witty, the characters did not seem like they'd been invented by throwing darts at the big ol' wheel of personality traits. Oh, and San Francisco is lovely. If I ever get back there again, you're going to have drag me out kicking and screaming.

One question, do women really enjoy wearing the fuck-me heels? Really? I guess I just don't get the whole shoe thing. Although I did once have a pair of Acme roping boots that I wore so much I had them resoled three time before they finally fell apart. Somehow I think that's not the same thing. Verdict? On the DVR.

Being Human (American version) - I sat down with an open mind. Really. I'm biased against Yank remakes of Brit shows (there must be a good one somewhere, but I can't think of one off the top of my head), but I wanted to give this an honest shot.

So, is it any good? I don't know. You're going to have to ask somebody else. I got through maybe the first 20 minutes and was so distracted by the fact that it wasn't the original that I found I couldn't watch it. Again, doesn't mean it's bad, it just seemed...unnecessary.

I was a bit leery of the original at first, I mean, a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost all share a flat? What kind of adolescent Twilight-lite is that? But it works, and occasionally it works splendidly. It's engaging and funny and tense and moving. Russell Tovey is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant as George the werewolf, trying desperately to live a human life. Lorena Crichlow as Annie the ghost is lovely and alternately vulnerable and kick-ass. Aidan Turner as Mitchell the vampire it at once vaguely dangerous and utterly hapless. Seriously, the worst leader of the vampires ever, where every decision he makes seems to turn out in the worst possible way.  I find that weirdly endearing. Oh, and Adrian Lester as Herrick is a grinning jack-o-lantern of a villain. If I ever happened upon Adrian Lester walking down the street, I'd instinctively run the other way.

The Americans playing their versions of these roles seem like ghosts themselves to me, shadows of what they're supposed to be. Add that to the fact that the plot lines are going to be fairly similar, and there are no surprises to look forward to. So no thanks, I'll stick with the original. And if you get the chance, you should check it out. It's really surprisingly good. And, yay, it's been renewed for a third season and will premiere on February 19th on BBC America. Huzzah!

Monday, January 24, 2011

You've Been Hit By...A Smooth Criminal

Via the most excellent Angry Black Lady Chronicles, I too find this awesome. And if I was an 19-year-old girl, those guys would be so freaking hot.

I prefer the Alien Ant Farm version to Michael Jackson's, but I swear I am not now nor have I ever been a sk8ter grrl. I do, however, want a light-up sidewalk.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's Still Earworm Saturday - the Old 97s

Hey, kids, it's the '70s! Stock video is the coolest. (My kids have threatened to jump from the car while it's still moving if I ever sing this while driving again. I don't think they appreciate my musical stylings.)

Earworm for the Day -- The Decembrists

Another song I can't get out of my head, plus the bonus of my favorite Decembrist's song, because one thing we definitely need more of is peppy little neo-folk ditties about blood feuds! Hint: it doesn't end well.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Was out shopping, stopping by the Winn-Dixie because when you buy two bottles of Ocean Spray, you can get a free 5# bag of grapefruits. I am a shameless sucker for free stuff. Really, I will trample old people for a buy one/get one free sale.

So I'm dragging two cranky kids who've just spent 70 minutes watching me dither and match coupons -- a whole $1.50 off Dog Chow! -- and pick out just the right kitty treats for the new kitty. I've promised them this is the last stop, but they're busy pegging old Happy Meal toys that they found under the back seat at each others heads. I also have a headache, because today I finally did my taxes (which for the self-employed is a pain in the ass -- and besides me and the maths aren't really on speaking terms.)

So I'm stepping out of the car, trying avoid a flying Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Wind-Up Blu, when the cell phone rings. You know what's scary? When you answer the phone, and your 21-year-old son says, "Mom, I don't want you to freak out or anything, but...."  Seriously, for somebody with an imagination like mine, that just digs an absolute pit full of frightening possibilities. Car wreck? Girlfriend pregnant? House burning down? Zombie attack? Perhaps the new cat IS an alien interloper and has taken hostages?

So, how does kid #1 finish the sentence? Any guesses?

"...but Peter Forsberg is practicing with the Avalanche."

OMG. That is so much better than a zombie attack. Feeling faint, I sit back down in the car. I need a moment. See, if I had to choose between world peace and Forsberg returning to the Avs? Well, let's just say it's a good thing I don't have to make those kind of decisions.

Really. OMG. These are the times when I wish I had a belief in a specific all-powerful deity who might be open to negotiations, because I would so be making ridiculously unrealistic promises right about now.   

Kitteh Update

The little cat has made himself at home, although he's still not thrilled about the dogs. The three dogs really, really, really want to SEE him, while he does not so much want to be seen. Luckily, we have myriad walk-through baby gates so he can escape if he's feeling a little slobbered upon.

He seems to be pleased with the placement of litterboxes and food dispensing modules, and the wide variety of furniture that he can lounge upon. Although he does seem to have some food issues, as in having to immediately consume all food and foodlike products in his immediate vicinity. If offering a morsel of King Cake, be careful lest you pull back a hand missing a few digits. After finishing off his dry food, he snagged a piece of garlic bologna and what was supposed to be my bowl of Special K. He is rail thin but not malnourished, so he's probably not been on his own for too long.

He shows no signs of wanting to go back outside. "Outside? It's cold, and there's no food or cuddles!" And he is quite the cuddler. He will immediately attach himself to you and crawl up with his little paws around your neck and his head on your shoulder and purr for all he's worth. I've tried to explain to him that he's already secured the job.

He plays fetch, does not mind being piled beneath a mountain of stuffed animals, and spent the night sleeping curled up next to the five-year-old.

He does, however, make Spike look like a giant, radioactive mutant cat. Spike's about 17 pounds and change, while the little cat is, well, little. I figure he's a small six months and on the shy side of 5 pounds. Spike's like, "Yeah, yeah. A cat. How novel. Now where's my cream cheese?"

The S/O has mentioned that he seems quite comfortable, maybe TOO comfortable. He's suggested that he could possibly be an alien infiltrator just pretending to be a cat while sizing up our soft, inner organs. In his words, "He's probably just waiting to eat our faces in the middle of the night. Sure, you laugh, but it'll be hard laughing WITHOUT A FACE."

I've asked him where he came from, but he's not talking.

Names bandied about? Pedro, Pete, Dash, Eliot, Mr. Jumpy (or as my daughter said "This is why you don't let five-year-olds name pets."). The S/O finally dropped "Adolph" and is lobbying for Mr. Bingle. This is why I don't let him name pets. (His dog is named Bismarck -- an enormous black lab mix with a white splotch on his chest--  although for 10 years my daughter has insisted on calling him Oreo). Most likely pets are not so invested in their names as we are, they just want a steady supply of snacks and love.

I figure in a week or two he'll seem like somebody specific. Until then, you don't have to call him so much as just open the refrigerator.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You Will Meet A Small, Dark Stranger

We were out walking the dogs last night, and at the end of our road there was a little cat. He was very talkative and seemed unperturbed by the herd of canines, who had their usual "Hey! It's a cat!!!" response like they've never seen one before, even though they routinely bow down to their cat overlord at home. We live in a semi-rural area, so there's tons of strays, most completely feral, yet the dogs seem to find them quite exotic and worth hysterically chasing.

Back home for the night, I was feeling a twinge of guilt because it was cold and the little cat had seemed needy, so I briefly toyed with the idea of setting out a bowl of food. I talked myself out of it because, next to an outbreak of malaria, the last thing we need is another critter to be responsible for. Ha.

Some time after 11:00, kid #1 finds me at the desk and says, "I think there's someone at the door for you." It seems the little cat had astutely discerned which house we lived in and which door was the front door, and was busy whacking the screen door open and closed, punctuated with a pathetic "Mauo."

Ten minutes later it was all, "Oh, you've got chicken! I declare this chair mine!" and various other unspoken kitteh thoughts. I told myself if Spike was unhappy, the little cat was out the door first thing in the morning. But because this is all a vast kitteh conspiracy, the first thing Spike did when confronted with the little cat was to lick his head.

So now it's all over but the naming and the neutering. Kid #1 is going to call him Pedro regardless of what I say, although I was leaning toward Pete anyway. The S/O suggests Adolph, because he's singularly unhelpful in situations like this. Regardless of what his name ends up being, I guess he's here to stay.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Alexander Ovechkin is the Samuel L. Jackson of Commercials

Stephen King once said that maybe every movie would be a little better if it had Samuel L. Jackson in it. I posit that every commercial would be enhanced by including Alexander Ovechkin.

I like Ovechkin because in a world that seems to gravitate to the duality of black/white, red/blue, Twilight's Team what's-his-name/Team the-other-guy, in the inevitable Ovechkin/Crosby matchup, Ovechkin could grind SidneyfuckingCrosby into a fine paste and brush what's left of his teeth with it.

Thank you, Russia, for vodka, Lomonosov porcelain animal figurines, and Alexander Ovechkin.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Cape or Not to Cape? A Very Quick Review

Finally saw the two-hour premier of NBC's The Cape, and I'm of two minds about it. I didn't hate it, in fact I kind of enjoyed it. Well, selected parts of it.  Am I willing to keep up with it and have it sit there glaring at me on the DVR? (hello, 13 episodes of Mad Men!) I'm not sure yet. I'll postpone my decision until next week's episode.

What works? Max Maldini and his Circus of Crime! Keith David gives it his all ("What, I'm using my stage voice!") He's obviously committed to the whole comic book premise, and everything about the underground circus of bank robbers is cool and suitably over-the-top, especially the mesmerist and the strongman midget. I also like Vinnie Jones as a henchman called "Scales" for reasons that are obvious looking at him. But then I never don't like Vinnie Jones.

What doesn't work? James Frain is a terrible villain. He was a terrible villain on Invasion too. He's just too goofy and prissy to be a scary mastermind. Imagine Blackadder's Prince George as an evil amoral genius. Yeah, not so much.

Flashback much? The most flashbacky flashbacks I've seen in a long time. And they were flashbacks that told us nothing, refused adamantly to advance the story, and even reminded us of things we saw in real time just moments before. NO MORE FLASHBACKS UNTIL YOU LEARN HOW TO USE THEM RESPONSIBLY. Seriously, this is an intervention.

What the fuck is with the single tear? Everybody has one lone tear sliding down their face, like they were forced as children to watch Chief Iron Eyes Cody looking out at a sea of interstate trash and were scarred forever. We get it, people are sad. Please let go of your Emotional Moments trading cards.

Lastly, Summer Glau is completely wasted. As the super-secret blogger "Orwell" (look at us, we're hip to the powers of the Interwebz! And irony! We're cool AND ironical!) she maintains absolutely secrecy, but the minute she see's some loon in a cape, she's like "Oh, you're so cool. We can be BFFs forever!" No, don't buy it for a minute. Instead of spending so much time showing us weepy wife and weepy kid (who we take for granted are weepy), why not give us a a reason to believe a paranoid conspiracy theorist would suddenly just throw caution to the wind and spend all her time tailing around someone who's just rashly exposing himself left and right?

The S/O adds, what's up with Orwell "disguising" herself by wearing a wig the same color as her own hair? And how long has Mrs. Cape been out of the lawyering business if she can just run out and set up shop with the district attorney? She is a lawyer, right? They kinda skipped that part. Maybe she printed out a diploma at home. All right, I've suddenly ceased to care.

Maybe they could just make the show about the Circus of Crime, and we could forget about all the earnest weepiness.

We'll see what this week brings....

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Best News I've Had This Week

Kid #2 called from Afghanistan yesterday and pronounced it "boring." Here's hoping that everyone's life is really boring for the next good long while.

Vidoes I Love For No Good Reason - Puddle of Mud

The perfect realization of teenage love angst -- the primal scream that seems so acutely uncontrollable when you're maneuvering the rapids of adolescence.

I especially love the kid at the fast food joint, and the quarterback who just randomly tackles some guy. Because randomly tackling somebody cracks me up every time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Because What Today Needs is More Cee Lo Green

I find this unaccountably awesome.

(h/t to Balloon Juice commentator MattR)

One Last Thing, In Levity

I'm only posting this tweet because I find Patton Oswalt darkly hi-larious. 

Patton Oswalt
Took video down. Sorry for offending Jews. My camp is concentrating on better one. Final solution soon.

(h/t to Balloon Juice commentator Zuzu's Petals)

Now I will commence to posting only peppy music videos, reviews of bad TV shows, and odes to Peter Forsberg.

No More For Me, Thanks, I'm Driving

The events of the last five days have left me stunned. When faced with a gut-wrenching tragedy, my first response is generally an agonized empathy, but I've become good at internalizing it, because if I let it take hold, I end up a weeping puddle on the floor. My best defense has always been anger, because at least anger is energizing. It's clear and hot and it burns away the awful feeling of helplessness, the fog of despair. On the downside, it burns so hot that it must either burn itself out or it will consume me. So eventually there's only so much stoking that can go on, only so many small horrors and insults that can be banked and railed against. There comes a point when it's time to break out the extinguisher and walk away.

Today's the day for me. I've read and listened, been shocked speechless, then read and listened some more, even when I thought I couldn't stand another minute of it. As humans, we look for meaning. We get under the table and lift up the rug and look for that last piece of the jigsaw. We search and search and worry, because we want things to fit together, we want a clear picture, we want closure, we want justice. Eventually we want to make the best peace we can. Because terrible, unspeakable things happen. Every day. The best we can do is try to make things better. At the very least, we can try not to make them worse.

Again, today's the day for me, the snapping point. When I perused the news this morning, I hit the wall. I can take no more.

Regardless of the exact reason why an unbalanced individual took a gun down to a grocery store and opened fire, this event did not happen in a vacuum. Things have been heating up for while, and by the laws of physics, that energy goes somewhere. Call  it the law of unintended consequences, or sometimes the law of secretly intended consequences, call it any damn thing you want. Gabby Giffords, speaking of violent rhetoric embraced by Sarah Palin and her ilk, said herself that there are consequences, and now she lies in a hospital bed after having been shot point blank in the head.

We are currently existing in an atmosphere where the unthinkable has become possible, where the unthinkable has been tacitly encouraged. And now that the unthinkable has happened, all those who liked to talk big and hard and viciously have doubled down. Blame anyone but them. Blame the other guy. When things end badly, blame everyone who said, over and over, "This will end badly."

The big web we live in filled with sticky threads. We are bound in them. We are tied together, the good and the bad, and actions have consequences. Words have consequences. Decent people feel guilty when they wish ill and ill occurs, even if they did not directly, with their own hands, commit the ill.

To me, the most telling aspect of the immediate aftermath of the shooting was wailing of Alaska's own Lady Macbeth, wringing her hands as she scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. "Don't look at me! I had nothing to do with it. DON'T LOOK AT ME." Well, even if she doesn't have blood on her hands, there's some spatter, and those spots don't wash out.

Today, and this was the straw that finally crippled my personal camel, Palin accused someone -- the media, Democrats, whoever was handy -- of committing "blood libel" against her. This is wrong on so many levels that new levels need to be invented for it to be wrong on. This is so wrong, I can't quite get my head around it.

A generous interpretation would be that Palin saw two words she liked -- blood and libel -- and put them together without giving it a further thought. After all, she's shown herself to have a nearly unfathomable lack of knowledge about what any word means. A less generous interpretation is that she's trying to hijack history and take on a mantel of persecution that an entire people have labored under for hundreds of years and carelessly pull it on like a party frock. We'll likely never know if she read the Wikipedia definition of "Blood Libel", but it hardly matters at this point.

What is truly appalling is that she has taken a tragedy in which a child, several elderly people, a judge, and a congresswoman and others were ruthlessly gunned down and made herself the victim. It's all about poor Sarah. And for the moment it is all about Sarah, as she has somehow become the emblem of all that's wrong and obscene with public discourse at the moment. She's the icon of our lost sense of decency, of our lost powers of discernment. She's the poster girl for all that is facile and spiteful and selfish and viciously tribal in our pop culture society today. She wants us to forget about what binds us together and focus on what tears us apart. She'll be all the news is talking about today, and I've had enough.

A very fine man summed it up simply today. Via TalkingPointsMemo, Congressman James Clyburn said,"You know, Sarah Palin just can't seem to get it, on any front. I think she's an attractive person, she is articulate, but I think intellectually, she seems not to be able to understand what's going on here."

Inside my head, I am a less generous person than Mr. Clyburn, but I'm letting it go. I am going to face the fact that I've used up all my righteous indignation for the moment, that I can't physically or emotionally afford to be as angry as I have been the last couple of days. I'm going to try to think good thoughts and see the positive things in life. I'm going to hug my kids and help them with their homework. I'm going to write. I'm going to cook dinner tonight and be thankful for the meal and for the fact that I'm eating it with people I love, and then I'm going to walk my dogs. For today at least, that's enough for me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

There is No Memory Hole on the Interwebz.

"Sarah Palin rummages online frantically erasing her rabble-rousing Tweets like a Stalinist trimming non-persons out of photos." - Roger Ebert

Sunday, January 9, 2011

At Least The Opening Credits Work

The Cape is the mid-season show I'm most looking forward to, which means it's doomed. I figure it's either going to be really cool (think Heroes season 1) or godawful (think Heroes any season other than season 1). I guess we'll find out tomorrow.


Friday, January 7, 2011

That Word, I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together is probably aware of the fact that  Rep. Steve King (Dumbass -Ohio) is pretty much, besides being a lousy human being, also an idiot.

Via TalkingPointsMemo, we find that this week he lauds the "mendacity" of Republicans in Congress. Can't say I argue with him much on that. I never, ever doubt the mendacity of Republicans.

Let's allow Burl Ives to explain the concept to Mr. King:

If you'd like more of the trainwreck hit parade that is Rep. King, you can point and laugh here. 

Craig Ferguson, Now with More Doctor Who

BBC America Programme Note -- Proper Top Gear; Luther Marathon

First off, on Sunday, January 9, BBC America is running a marathon of the 6-ep series Luther, starring Idris Elba. If you missed the series, here's your chance.

Second off, proper Top Gear returns on February 7th, just in time to help you forget the mundane horrors of Americanized Top Gear. You can watch the thrilling Season 16 promo montage HERE!  My favorite line? "Could we have murdered someone a bit smaller?" You might be surprised at how many times I look at a car and wonder about the logistics of putting a body in the trunk. Vroom.

Black Keys Rock

Can't get this song out of my head. Maybe they should be nominated for a Grammy or five.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This Makes Me Want to Take Josh Groban Out and Get Him Drunk

You know those things that are goofily cool in some meta way,  and you can't explain exactly why because doing so would involve some stripe of philosophical pop-culture gymnastics and a half dozen or so shots of cinnamon schnapps? This is one of those things.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy Twelfth Night, or For Those Who Have Trouble Letting the Holidays Go.

Tonight is Twelfth Night,  which according to the English Oxford dictionary is "The evening of the fifth of January, preceding Twelfth Day, the eve of the Epiphany, formerly the last day of the Christmas festivities and observed as a time of merrymaking."

This means two things: an excuse for "merrymaking," which I believe should be interpreted as liberally as possible; and a reminder that if you haven't taken your Christmas lights down by now, you are officially poor white trash.

Bye, Chrishanakwanzayulica!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Farewell, Pete Postlethwaite

Able to play both the exotic and the mundane, Pete Postlethwaite, OBE, left an indelible mark with every role. My favorites include The Usual Suspects, Brassed Off, The Lost World, and Alien 3, and most recently, The Town and Inception. Regardless of the film, he was one of those actors who made everything he appeared in just a little better.

Pete Postlethwaite, 1946-2011

Farewell, Anne Francis

From her first uncredited role in 1947 to her last TV appearance in 2004, Anne Francis was a class act. The cool blonde, America's answer to Emma Peel, was a fixture on television from the '60s through the '80s. I'll remember her fondly as Altaira in Forbidden Planet, from the Twilight Zone episodes "Jess-Belle" and the haunting "After Hours," and as the iconic Honey West.

Anne Francis, 1930-2011

Change is Stupid

Mattel, apparently because it has too much spare time on its hands, has decided to change the rules of Scrabble. Apparently now you can use proper names.

Fine, Mattel. Be that way.

A spokeswoman for the company said the use of proper nouns would "add a new dimension" to Scrabble and "introduce an element of popular culture into the game".She said: "This is one of a number of twists and challenges included that we believe existing fans will enjoy and will also enable younger fans and families to get involved."

Yes, by all mean, Mattel, try to cater to the lowest common denominator in a vain attempt to get the cool kids to spell stuff. And not even real stuff, but fake stuff like "nodoz" or "eminem" or "spanx."  I see endless arguments in my future. They do mention that they'll still sell boards with the old rules, but the genie is already out of the bottle. Or as Simka from Taxi would say, "It's like closing the barn door after the horses have eaten your children."

I just want to know how Mattel is going to reimburse me for the bajillion points I've lost out on over the years not being able to use proper nouns. Now get off my lawn.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Because Some People Have Too Much Damn Free Time

This is especially for my sweetie, who got a new Android phone for Christmas and obsessively stayed on the damn thing like a 15-year-old girl in a teenage love triangle. Even when he was yelling at the kids, he was still playing Angry Birds.

I have not played Angry Birds, because I'm a responsible adult who has, you know, stuff to do, but I can always appreciate puppets repeatedly screaming,"Fuck Off!"

Apparently It's Cold Here

Because Spike is sleeping on the stove.

The Winter of our Discontent

The week between Christmas and New Year's is an odd kind of limbo. All the build-up and excitement of Christmas has been brought to an abrupt halt, but there's still that extra week tacked on, the no-man's land before you can start breaking your resolutions in earnest.

I can't say I'm sad to see it go. Sure, now I've got to pretend to be diligent and sincere again, but at least that makes me feel like I'm swimming against a tide I can actually feel instead of some airy, amorphous mist comprised of vaporized pine needles and the raisins that fell out of the stollen and rolled away unnoticed under the cabinets. 

So Happy New Year one and all. And while I would have preferred to make resolutions like drinking more, telling people to STFU more, and perfecting my hermit skills, I suppose that would be bad form. Instead, I'm going to try to let go of past resentments, even though they're nice, hot little coals that keep me warm at night. I'm going to try to be less self-critical, because I'm never going to be a Catholic martyr. I'm going to try not to say things in anger, because it's a waste of words, especially when you can think up something so much more cutting if you just wait a few minutes. OK, joking. Really. Sort of.

Mostly I'm going to try to use my time better, more wisely, more usefully,  because as the passing of another year shows us, time is something that slips away so quickly, leaving either accomplishments or regrets.  I've run out of room for regrets. Unless I clean out the closet, and let's face it, that's not going to happen.