Friday, September 29, 2006


Twelve Democrats in the senate voted to give Bush unlimited power to torture alleged terrorism suspects to his cold heart's content. Damn their wretched souls to hell forever, but even more pathetic is the reaction of the Democrats who voted against it.

According to today's New York Times, they are putting more enthusiasm into patting themselves on the back for opposing it than they actually spent fighting the damn thing. They're congratulating themselves on their courage in offering half-hearted opposition to a bill that essentially gives the president absolute, unfettered power.

Here's the thing: He won. You voted against it--so what? Beyond offering empty sound bites after the fact, what else did you do? You just sat back and let it happen. This is not a time for celebration, this is a time for despair. And you should be every bit as ashamed as the Democrats who voted for it, because at least they were honest enough to admit that they just can't get enough presidential dick in their mouths. But letting something terrible happen but trying to take the moral high road because, well, it wasn't your idea--that's a defense devised by a five-year-old whose buddies were caught shoplifting.

Or German citizens who pretend not to know what the smoke billowing from the camps signifies.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


The house has passed Our Beloved President's legislation on interrogation and trials of terror suspects. Though John McCain and others claimed Bush made some concessions on the side of humane treatment of those not officially charged with any crime, those concessions were virtually non-existant. Bush got what he wanted, and he'll run with it.

He does what he wants, anyway, and no one seems interested in stopping him.

Take his press conference Tuesday. Bush declared he would release part of the intelligence agency report suggesting that the invasion of Iraq has been a recruiting tool for terrorist groups. Somehow, Bush claims that this report suggests no such thing. "Read the whole report, you'll see," he said. But of course, he's not releasing the whole report.

At one point , Bush angrily responded to repeated questioning about the document by testily proclaiming, "We're not going to let lies and propaganda by the enemy dictate how we win this war."


This one sentence prompts at least three questions off the top of my head:

1) Which war are you talking about? The one in Iraq or the "war on terror"? Because they're two different things, you know.

2) What do you mean by "how we win this war"? Democracy is failing to take root in Iraq, but civil unrest sure is, and U.S. troops are pretty much caught in the middle of a shit storm. I'd say we're losing that one. And as for the "war on terror"--read your own government's report, Mr. Decider. Your policies serve only to make the terrorists stronger. As long as you're in office, they've got the strongest recruiting tool imaginable. So, uh, I'd say we're losing that one, too.

3) Okay--"lies and propaganda from the enemy." As near as I can tell, the propaganda here is the intelligence report in question, prepared by agencies of the U.S. government. How is this propaganda from the enemy? Unless he means lefties and others who would dare to suggest that the document means what it says, not what Bush tells us it means. In other words, don't believe what you see, believe what I tell you you're seeing.

So three questions arising from just one sentence uttered by the president. One sentence that suggests, again, that he may be nuts. At least if he really was crazy, he'd have an excuse. As for the people who continue to support him, there's no excuse at all.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Home sick from work today, so this is another one of those posts that might not make a lot of sense. Last Thursday I felt okay at work, but kind of queasy when I got home, and I wound up crashing in bed by 7:30. I slept later than usual Friday morning, and very nearly took the day off from work, but new management has blown in like an ill wind at my house of employment, and apparently they don't take kindly to unannounced days off.

(I almost wrote, "Word on the street is, they don't take kindly to unannounced days off," because I thought it would make me sound edgier, you know, connected to the pulse of the street, like a 1970s cop show informant, a Huggy Bear or a Rooster. Oh, this is a weird tangent. Sorry...but I did warn you that this might not make sense.)

I felt better--not great, just better--by Friday night, and I thought I was feeling okay over the weekend. I even managed to consume fast food Mexican, which is not possible on a trippy stomach. But yesterday, I got home from work, sat down on the toilet and...well, if I wanted to go off on another obscure tangent, I'd mention a Chester Brown comic strip, The Man Who Couldn't Stop, which is about...the title pretty much explains it.

Anyway, I found myself making toilet runs at least twice an hour last night, and this morning it was joined by vomiting. And I hadn't even eaten anything! So, risking disapproving looks from my new boss, I called in to work, left a message and went back to bed.

Whereupon I woke, several hours later, to realize, "It's Tuesday! This is the day new DVDs are released, and I made a vow to my readers--both of them!--that I would use this day to tell them what's worth watching!"

Wow, that was a long way to go, wasn't it? Anyway, the fact of the matter is, it's not a terribly exciting day on the new release front. You can't go wrong with Universal Home Video's umpty-umpth reissue of the 1931 versions of Dracula and Frankenstein; both of these were originally released on DVD in the late nineties, and though Frankenstein is a terrific movie in every way, it's really Dracula that shows how a movie of great historical interest (but relatively little entertainment value) can nevertheless make a swell disc, as the jam-packed extras are all fascinating in and of themselves. The versions released today are allegedly upgrades in picture qualities, and have a few new extras, but I would guess if you have those earlier discs, you don't need these. (If you don't have them, well, what are you waiting for?)

Otherwise it's a slow release day. Things will get more entertaining soon, I promise. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go see if my stomach can handle food yet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


I really don't mean to sound like some paranoid, conspiracy-theorist whackjob, but is Bush doing all this on purpose?

Today's New York Times details the contents of a report by U.S. intelligence agencies that pretty much lays it on the line: Everything the Bushinistas have done since 9/11 has only made recruitment easier for Muslim terorist groups. The invasion of Iraq is Number One on the Hit Parade, but individual results from that, such as Abu Ghraib and the massacre at Haditha, plus Bush's end run around the Geneva Conventions to prolong the horrors at Gitmo, are all strong contributing factors. The bottom line, according to the report, is that we're more open to attack than ever before.

Most sentient beings have already sensed this, of course, but this is the first time that government agencies have come right out and said it, though in the context of a top-secret, eyes-only memo, as opposed to having the cajones to tell the American people they are at risk due to government action. At least it's a first step.

What's scary is, it's starting to seem plausible that maybe the Republicans are doing this on purpose. Since the only game they seem to know is the politics of fear, doesn't it make sense that they would deliberately amp up the danger, giving us all the more reason to be scared, all the more reason to turn to them to save us? The fact that they wouldn't be able to save us--we all remember how they handled Katrina--is beside the point. All they have to do is seem marginally more competent than the Democrats, and at this point I would trust a deflated innertube to have more political sense than the average Democrat.

No. A theory like that, it just seems...unbelievable. Doesn't it? Why would Bush continue doing things that his own advisors are telling him make the world more dangerous, while at the same time saying he's making the world better? I can't think of too many possible answers to that question, and none of the ones that come to mind give me comfort.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Aside from giving big props to Noam Chomsky (even if he did seem to be under the impression that the Great Man was no longer with us), the fallout from Hugo Chavez's speech at the U.N. the other day continues.

Right-wing gasbags--and unfortunately, quite a few wishy-washy kinda-sorta liberals--are bent out of shape because Chavez called Our Benevolent Leader a devil. "It's one thing to disagree with Mr. Bush's policies," they whine, "but this was a juvenile personal attack."

No, a personal attack would be Bush personally supporting a right-wing coup to overthrow Chavez, who was, after all, democratically elected by the people of Venezuela. That's the kind of thing that can make a guy a little bit testy.

"But," complain Chavez's critics, "Mr. Bush represents America. By calling him the devil, he is attacking every one of us."

Well, no--by calling Bush the devil, he's simply attacking Bush. (And again, with good reason.) But look, if you really want to play the Moral Equivalancy Game, fine. If it's wrong for Chavez to call Bush a devil, then how is it okay for Bush to demonize Saddam Hussein? And if attacking Bush is somehow attacking all of us, what to make of it when Bush called Iraq, Iran and North Korea the Axis of Evil? Was he claiming that every single person in these nations is beyond redemption?

Or was he just deploying some cheap rhetoric, something to win easy applause from people who already agree with him? Which is basically what Chavez was doing, but since he's on the other side, it's wrong when he does it.

Which pretty much sums up the Bushinista's concept of democracy: You're free to believe what we tell you to believe.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Sorry, folks, I just feel sick today, so I'm not going to be able to post anything coherent. Oh, I tried to feel out all the details of the deal struck between the senate and the White House regarding interrogation of prisoners--and as near as I can tell, the president got enough wiggle room to go ahead and do whatever he wants--but really, the facts were overwhelming and depressing, and my poor brain just couldn't handle it.

So maybe tomorrow. Actually, hopefully tomorrow I'll have something more cheerful to write about, but don't count on it. Bush crushes all joy and...Is this making any sense? Did I mention I was sick? The feel-like-you-need-to-vomit-but-can't sick. I'll-never-eat-again sick. Or am I sharing too many details?

Okay, I'll just shut up now. Pretend this never happened.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Cinematographer Sven Nykvist has died at the age of 83.

As Ingmar Bergman's regular collaborator, Nykvist is one of the most important figures in film history. He shot The Silence and Through A Glass Darkly and Persona and Cries And Whispers and Fanny And Alexander--and these are are among the greatest works ever commited to film.

Bergman wrote the scripts and directed the actors, but the astonishing visual sense was largely Nykvist's. His philosophy was simple--he liked to use light as simply and naturally as possible, to make sure the actor's faces were visible so they could do their thing.

Ah, but he could do much more if asked. One of Bergman's most underrated films, Hour Of The Wolf, the story of an artist's descent into madness, is essentially a horror movie, and Nykvist pulls out all the stops, overexposing one key scene, creating expressionistic pools of darkness, bathing the whole film in a palpable sense of dread.

Much of the work Nykvist and Bergman did together was in black and white, but when they made the switch to color, the results were astonishing. Maybe the best thing they did together was Fanny And Alexander, the lighting and color so warm and inviting you want to move into the movie and live your whole life there. (As a portrait of a family in turmoil and harmony, Fanny And Alexander has always reminded me of Vincente Minnelli's Meet Me In St Louis, and I've often wondered if Nykvist was influenced by its rich but subtle color schemes.)

Nykvist worked in America as well, largely with maverick directors like Bob Rafelson (he provided a deep noir look for The Postman Always Rings Twice) and Bob Fosse (stylized sleaze for the superb Star 80). And he could even do glossy Hollywood crap, too, as his collaborations with Nora Ephron proved.

In the age of digital video, movies look both better and worse than ever. It's easier to capture the nuances of natural light, and let's face it, even the most craptastic shows on TV look better than a lot of movies from twenty years ago. Most movies today have a distinctive look.

But real artistry, that's harder to come by. Sven Nykvist could find a thousand shades of gray in a single human face, and knew that face told a story in itself. The art of film is immeasurably poorer for his loss.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


My cat Monika seems perfectly sweet--fuzzy, gray, eager to be petted, with large soulful eyes that conjure visions of motel room art.

Delmar, of course, is Psycho Kitty--wiry, large, prone to rage.

But Monika has something Delmar doesn't--a sense of Zen Cool worthy of James Coburn. Coburn, at least in his movies (and I like to think in real life, too) could be as big a bad ass as anybody, and could pretty much take anybody down. But he preferred the path of enlightenment, to give his potential adversary the Look that said, "You really don't want to mess with me."

Monika, despite the sweet soulful eyes, is perfectly capable of delivering the Look. But does Delmar ever learn? Of course not. He's all the time up in Monika's face, trying to start something, and Monika just sits there. Del stays at it, until Monika shifts her weight and fixes him with the Look. Del hesitates briefly, then keeps it up, going in, starting to attack.

One well-placed thwack later, Delmar is scurrying away with a pathetic whimper, while Monika sits, confident, quiet, cool. I like to think she's meditating, but she is, after all, a cat, so chances are she's just thinking about tuna. But still...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


A guy with a loaded gun made his way into the capitol building in Washington.

Let me make that more clear:


The guy, one Carlos Greene, not only got into the building yesterday, he got all the way through it, past congressional offices, down to the basement. Pretty much top to bottom, all the way through the joint, before he was finally caught.

The mind reels.

We're spending billions on a war in Iraq because it is, according to our beloved president, the "front line" in the war on terror. Of course, Iraq has never attacked us, but...I'm getting a headache...the people who did attack us are still running


This is the sort of thing that isn't supposed to be happening, right? I mean, let's say he had actually, I dunno, been firing the gun as he made his way past the halls of power. Let's say, instead of a handgun, he'd had a converted semi-automatic rifle, the kind so beloved by the NRA lackeys in congress, and been firing away with that. Or that he'd been rigged with explosives. And instead of a mentally-damaged guy with no apparent axe to grind, he'd been some kind of zealot.

Because the reaction in congress itself today was pretty subdued, basically passing this off as an "unfortunate incident," but you know, nothing to really be alarmed about. Hey, why worry? It's not like it represents a pathetic waste of the fortune being dumped into Homeland Security or anything. Man, what a bunch of douchebags.


Incidentally, I realize this is the second week in a row that I've violated my already weakly enforced rule of using Tuesdays to review new DVD releases. So, briefly, pick up the new Boris Karloff boxed set, the fourth season of The Bob Newhart Show and Nobuo Nakagawa's Jigoku. But before you sit back and enjoy them, be sure to drop a line to your representative in congress and ask how the hell they figure it's not that big a deal that a gun-wielding nutjob is running down the halls.

Betcha they don't answer.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Just a quick update on my last two posts:

1) Saturday I wrote about spending the previous evening with my girlfriend, Tabbatha, and her son, Paul, and my speculation that, had they chose to stay the whole night at my place that evening, it would have felt right.

Well, Saturday night, they wound up doing just that. Obviously, with a kid present, Tabbatha and I couldn't indulge in any improper activity, and remained clothed the entire night. In fact, we spent much of the night just talking. (We do that a lot.)

Originally, Tabbatha wanted to get home early on Sunday to do some work around the house, but she and I wound up laying in bed half of the day on Sunday, occasionally sleeping, mostly talking, while Paul played games on the computer. (This is actually the reason I didn't post anything yesterday.)

What's weird is, not only does this seem awfully domestic for me--I'm ordinarily the bitter loner type--but I felt rather relaxed the whole time. And I never relax! And more impressively still, as Tabbatha pointed out, she and I haven't even gotten into a fight yet, apparently a personal milestone for both of us this far into a relationship.

So summing up, in my world, things are going great.

2) The previous day, I mentioned my skepticism regarding Republican opposition to the Chief Decider's pro-torture initiatives. Sure enough, the Republican majority has been quick to distance itself from the chief critic, Senator John McCain, while McCain himself is saying he believes there is room for "compromise" with the White House.

Expect a big ol' love fest between congress and the president, with the Republicans giving Bush all the post-coital snuggling and sweet nothings murmured into his ear he could possibly want. And expect most of the Democrats to cave at the last minute and join in, with the few Democratic dissenters just standing by, helpless, hapless and worthless.

So summing up, in the world beyond my world, things couldn't be any worse.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


Tabbatha is going to be out of town next weekend, so since her usual babysitter will be caring for her son for three full days, she figures it's best to not push it this weekend. In other words, she told me, of I want to go out with her this weekend, Paul will be coming along.

This is significant because it forces me to deal with it: If I want to date Tabbatha, if I want her to be part of my life, I have to let Paul be part of my life, too. And while I don't think I'm terrible with kids, I admit I tend to feel a little awkward around them. And this particular kid, of course, could become a very important part of my life.

Our date--if that's the right word--last night was basically this: They showed up at my apartment, Paul started playing games on the computer, Tabbatha and I watched this week's House which I had taped for her, then we went out to eat.

On the way, Paul started singing how much he loves Mommy, how much he loves Daddy. "You love Daddy?" Tabbatha asked, somewhay incredulously. "I love New Daddy!" "New Daddy?"
"Edward! Bcause Edward's going to marry Mommy!"

"Oh," I cut in, "you'll have to ask Mommy about that." Tabbatha laughed.

We got to the restaurant--Bennigan's, the sort of place I'd normally make fun of, but I must admit, they make a good Monte Cristo--and Paul insisted on sitting beside me in the booth. (Which was good, later on, because it meant it was easier for me to steal bites of his ice cream.)

At one point, Tabbatha asked Paul, out of nowhere, to name his favorite baseball team. "The Yankees!" he said proudly.

"You told him to say that!" she yelled at me in mock indignation.

"What? No! When?" (Honestly, I hadn't told him to say that, but when he did, I almost broke into a victory dance.)

"Okay, let's try this again," she said. "Who's your favorite baseball team?"

"The Mets!"

I was crushed. "You just said the Yankees."

"I like them both."

"Oh no, that's not possible."

"Why not?"

I then proceeded to lecture a seven year old on New York baseball arcana. Later, when I thought about it, I realized that sharing sports trivia is one of the stereotypical ways for fathers to bond with sons. Technically, my trivia was more about New York than about sports, but still...

Dinner continued, we went back to my place. Tabbatha insisted on checking her MySpace site before Paul could continue playing games--Kids today with their crazy blogs and web pages!--so he and I hung out with cats and looked through old photos so he could see what I looked like before I started shaving my head. While plowing through all the pictures, which included lots of photos of cats, he was struck by a picture of my much-missed, much-beloved kitty Pinback. "That looks like Delmar!" he said.

"Yeah, she kind of acted like Delmar, too."

"You mean kind of mean and kind of dorky?"

I laughed. "Exactly like that."

Then he got back on the computer--the Disney Channel site--and Tabbatha and I sprawled on the bed, talking, snuggling, relaxed, interrupted only occasionally by Paul asking a question. ("How do you spell 'stinky'?") After an hour or two, we pried him off the computer and they went home.

But as she laid on the bed, Tabbatha was so tired she almost fell asleep, and if she had, I wonder if Paul would have eventually curled up with her, with the cats and me laying beside them, almost like...well, almost like a family.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Yesterday's surprise dust-up in the senate, during which three key Republicans openly questioned Mr. Bushie's demands for an expanded definition of "interrogation" regarding the detainees at Gitmo, smacks of political theater. Yeah, these senators, including self-proclaimed "maverick" John McCain, may indeed have some qualms about Bush's intentions. But it still feels like a smokescreen, a demonstration designed to prove that, yes, the Republicans have hearts and care about the constitution--right before the body of the senate goes ahead and gives the president exacly what he wants.

All the president is asking for is congressional approval to go ahead and contnue what he's already doing in the first place, to give some sort of official imprimatur to the unfettered power he's already seized. If congress signs off on torture and warrantless wiretaps, Bush is no longer an imperial president; with even more power granted him, expect him to rule with the wisdom and sanity of Caligula.

Why he wants this, I don't know. James Bond villains don't want world domination this nakedly. Bush has been claiming in recent weeks that the expanded powers he's asking for are part of the war on terror, that it's all about "keepin' America safe." (Dropped g courtesy of our folksy Decider-In-Chief.) He's claimed that CIA-run secret prisons (the very existence of which he denied until now) and illegal wiretaps have yielded tons o' info, have busted up numerous terrorist plots, but has been provided zero details. Given that this administration has never been shy when it comes to hyping details of alleged terror plots--Remember those guys that they claimed were plotting to blow up the Sears Tower, but who really seemed more interested in dressing like Welcome To The Terrordome-era Public Enemy?--the president's claims begin to seem like lies.

Lies told by a madman, a dangerous lunatic who amasses power for its own sake, who struts around the world stage, preening, arrogant, despised, but confident in his ability to silence any and all who oppose him, Idi Amin on a global level. Even more terrifying than Bush's behavior, or the bullying of his subordinates, or the sychophantic fawnings of his lackeys in the press (that would be you, David Brooks) is the nation's response: We're letting this happen.

As the president is fond of saying, history will judge us. On that point, at least, I'm sure he's right.


Sometimes you hear a song from the past, a song that you absolutely hated when it came out, but you hear it again in a different context, and you think, "Hey, that's not so bad."

Then again, sometimes you hear a song you hated and realize it was even worse than you thought. This was certainly the case when, stumbling from one radio station to another, I came across Rod Stewart's 1978 crapest Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? Man, I hated this thing at the time, from its unbelievably stupid title (Da?) to its flowery strings and disco beat arrangement and especially Stewart's arch, full-of-himself delivery...As Mary Worth once said, Sheesh!

And now, with almost thirty years (!) of godawful Stewart posturing following it, this song plays more than ever like a narcissitic relic of a narcissitic time, a snapshot from the era in which the superficial quest for immediate gratification was born, sins of the fathers that have borne fruit in the rapacious, all-we-can-get attitude of a cynical era, best represented by the Bushinistas endless grab for more and more of everything, the world and everything in it.

Okay, I realize that's a lot of weight to pile on one song, but it's a really bad song.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


In case you're wondering how quickly America gets over a national "day of mourning," the first half hour of the Today show--which yesterday was all touchy-feely weepy-gooey for its entire length--devoted maybe three minutes to Bush's sabre-rattling 9/11 memorial speech, maybe three minutes to the (hapless) Democratic response, and three or four minutes to a toothless Matt Lauer interview with The Decider In Chief, in which it was difficult to tell which one of them seemed more like an arogant, condescending frat boy.

Then it was on to a "lifestyle" story about downloading movies onto IPods, and a heartwarming story about pandas. This in the first half hour, usually the portion of the show devoted to, um, "hard news."

I mean, honestly, if 9/11 was the day we "lost our innocence," as Matt told us yesterday, doesn't it deserve a little more than one day of remembrance?

Apparently not: "Coming up in the next half hour, the tragedy of Anna Nicole Smith.

Monday, September 11, 2006


The networks' coverage of the 9/11 anniversary this morning was exactly what you'd expect: ABC went with the usual familiar footage accompanied by Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings, which I thought had long passed its sell-by date as official mournful music for sad events. Over on NBC, Matt Lauer was the first (regrettably, not the last) person I heard today utter those contemptable words: It was the day America "lost its innocence."


A nation whose very birth carried with it the attempted genocide of a continent's native peoples? A country whose economy was supported in the first century of its existence by slavery? Is that innocent? Or more recently, Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador? Nixon being forced from office? What were these things, mere blow jobs or finger bangs? Does America get to call itself a technical virgin despite the evidence of its own behavior?

Are we really that fucking naive? The United States is just like any white imperialist nation that has built its fortunes on the backs of those with darker skin. Sooner or later, the oppressed really do rebel. We have allowed our representatives to treat the whole world as something to exploit, and are shocked--shocked!--that the rest of the world resents it.

Stupid, jaded maybe, but innocent? This country has never been that.


Everyone today will be remembering what they were doing on this terrible anniversary, so here's my memory.

I slept.

Sue Ellen, my now-ex, and I were living in a suburb of DC back then, and much of my time was spent suffering from allergies I didn't know I had. (Apparently this is common in the DC area; the combination of air from the industrial North, the more rarefied Southern air, the proximity to the Atlantic and all those damn cherry blossoms frequently take a nasty toll on newcomers.) As a result, I spent a lot of time home sick from work, as I was on this particular sunny September day.

I was so dizzy I was barely able to walk straight, and almost overwhelmingly tired. Once Sue Ellen left for work--she caught a shuttle bus, which meant she left early, by 6:30 or so--I stumbled back to bed and stayed there, occasionally waking, looking at the beautiful sunshine, thinking maybe I should go out and get some fresh air. But I didn't, and I didn't turn on a TV or radio all day.

I was awake but still in bed when I heard the front door opening. Stumbling out into the living room, I greeted Sue Ellen with a generic, "Hi, Dear, how was your day?"

She stared at me. "We spent the day in lockdown, until they finally gave us the go-ahead to travel."

I stood blinking, confused.

"Because of what happened," she continued. "The planes, the planes that smashed into the World Trade Center--The towers, they're all gone. And the plane that hit the Pentagon. And the other plane..." Her voice trailed off.

Swear to God, for a brief second, I thought she was just saying all this, a way to make her day sound a whole lot more interesting. But here eyes made it pretty clear, and lamely, I said, "You're not kidding, are you?"

"We're under attack," she said.

We turned on the TV and watched the footage, over and over and over, as everyone else did that day, each time we saw the planes hit or the towers fall as horrifying as the first, the dust and paper descending on lower Manhattan, the muted, disbelieving reactions of people on the street, the crowds shuffling like zombies across the Brooklyn Bridge, as if they could get away from the terrible new reality that still burned behind them.

We watched and watched, and beyond that, I have no memory of the rest of the day.  Presumably we had dinner at some point, and finally went to bed. Our lives seemed insignificant compared with what happened, and living so close to the nation's capitol, there was no small amount of fear, a fear that would get worse with each passing day, as we wondered what new terror might come from such beautiful blue skies. But as that day turned to night, there was something else, a feeling that whatever had happened would somehow make us stronger, that out of the smoking remains of Ground Zero would emerge...something.  A feeling, a sense that we had taken the worst, and yet we would endure.

What would happen next, well, that didn't matter.  We knew, in the moment, who we were, and what we had to do.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


We'd only actually gone out a few times before last weekend, but Tabbatha and I had been talking on the phone more and more often, every day, usually a couple times every day. The conversations had grown longer, and had gotten into ever more personal territory. We were feeling each other out, and satisfied with the results, continued to dig even deeper, both of us perhaps looking for something to discourage us, finding instead reasons to continue.

I was going to be gone last weekend, and felt some sadness at leaving her for so long. (Sad, isn't it?) She invited me to a birthday party for a friend of hers on Friday night, a chance to get together before I left on Saturday morning.

After the party, and the consumption of much alcohol, we were bleary-eyed and exhausted when we finally crashed at my place at three AM. Common sense would have told us to get some sleep, but we didn't. We talked and talked, interrupted by ocasional bursts of physical activity, until Tabbatha finally wound up falling asleep around six, and I drifted off shortly thereafter.

But not for long, since I had to leave later that morning. I was up and about while she still slept, but eventually she awoke, and I layed beside her in bed. And--here's a surprise--we started talking some more, trying to define the exact nature of our relationship:

"So," I said, "are we, like, seeing each other?"

"Well yeah," she answered. "Obviously."

"But I mean, seeing each other seeing each other? What should I call you?"

She shrugged.

"Are you, like, officially my girlfriend?"

"Yeah. I suppose..."

"Then I would be--"

"--You would be my boyfriend."

Okay, I realize how tentative this conversation must seem, how pathetic and lame on my part, but damn near five years after my marriage ended, this is the first time I've wanted to call someone my girlfriend. There have been women I've seen, women I've been interested in, women I've dated on a regular basis. But not this. This is something more, something wonderful and exhilirating and terrifying.

Terrifying, I suppose, because of its intensity. I've felt this strongly before, and ultimately it led to overwhelming pain. And there are unknowables here. Tabbatha has a seven year old son. I've met him, he seems like a great kid, but my ex and I were childless by choice, and I've never lived with a kid before. And Tabbatha wants more children.

That would have been a signal to cut and run once, but now...things have changed. Part of me is afraid that my feelings for her are so strong I'll agree to any damn thing she wants without thinking of the consequences, but no, I don't really think that's it.

My mother's death caused me to reevaluate my life. I'd thought I would live a kind of gypsy existence, moving from one place to another, always exploring, unsettled, vaguely unfullfilled, but full of incident--a life lived without compromises, except for emotional ones. But Tabbatha wants to stay in one place, to put down roots and be part of a family. And suddenly that doesn't sound like a bad thing. In fact, it sounds...good.

We continued to hang out last Saturday until I realized I was beginning to run late, I packed, grabbed some things for the weekend away and it was time to go. I walked Tabbatha to her car, we kissed and I watched her drive away. I got in my car, started it and the song that immediately came on the radio was Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, one of the most perfect pop songs ever, and an amazing evocation of the thrill of falling in love.

Coincidence? After that song, the station went to a commercial, so I flipped the dial. Literally the next song I heard was Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now, with its insanely optimistic lyrics:

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

No, I decided, this is not a coincidence. Things will be okay. Life awaits, and right now, it's looking like better days are ahead.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


You may have noticed--those of you who actully read this thing on a daily basis (and a big hello to both of you!)--that I didn't post anything yesterday. This wasn't entirely by design--I overslept--but still, I found it somewhat liberating.

I bought a computer in March, in the wake of my mother's death. I started writing this blog in April, as a way to deal with my emotions, but it quickly evolved into...well, whatever it is. It had been so long since I had written anything, and I was surprised by how good it felt, at the exhiliration I would feel when I nailed the point I tried to make, and realizing that, oh yeah, this is something I can actually do.

Writing every day was a discipline I needed, and still do, I suppose. Yet I suspect I won't be posting here every day anymore, at least for the time being. There has been at least one major change in my life--I seem to be in a relationship. (More on that, of course, in a future piece.)

But it's really more about the little things in my life. I bought three CDs over the wekend, and I'm eager to listen to them, but I haven't so far, and they're joining other albums and movies I've acquired in recent months that I just haven't found the time for. Sometimes I'll have music playing while I'm on the computer, but at those times it's just there, heard but not appreciated, background noise while I'm doing a web search for information on Terrytoons or some such.

And I'm thrilled that I can find this information, and amazed at what is out there on the web. I've found clips of Phil Ochs and Sandy Denny and Tim Buckley, stuff that I didn't even know existed. It's a lot of fun, but I feel like it's taking over my life. I need to cut back and rediscover the other pleasures of life I've neglected, and to enjoy life as a participant.

Of course, I say all this, and yet here I am, up way too early, posting this piece. So yeah, business may continue here as usual. But if it doesn't, it probably means that I'm too busy--gasp of disbelief--having a good time elsewhere.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


For monster movie geeks like me, there is no bigger news than today's release of the Gojira/Godzilla, King Of The Monsters DVD. This is the first authorized release in the U.S. of the original Japanese cut of Godzilla (Yeah, I know, the official Japanese title is Gojira, but come on, we all know the Big Guy as Godzilla!), and as such is an important piece of film history.

For no film ever captured a nation's mood as eloquently as Godzilla did upon its release in Japan in 1954. Devastated by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, humiliated by the post-war U.S. occupation, Japanese audiences couldn't help but respond to images of cities destoyed by a force beyond comprehension, and a military and government powerles to stop it. (American audiences may find some connection to the destruction wrought by Katrina, as well.) Godzilla amps up the anxiety by introducing the tragic, possibly demented scientist Serizawa, whose oxygen destroying invention may be possible of stopping the monster...but which may in itself prove an even greater threat to mankind. There are no easy answers here: We are either puppets to the capricious whims of nature, or we must act boldly, but be blind to the consequences of our actions.


Metaphors aside, this is one terrific movie. Director Ishiro Honda orchestrates a sense of mounting dread, and his charcoal pallette is splendidly atmospheric. Honda was a director of real talent--he essentially served as a co-director on many of Akira Kurosawa's later films, including Kagemusha and Ran, and his psychedelic horror film Matango is a fine piece of work by any standards--but the success of Godzilla unfortunately stereotyped him as the go-to guy for giant monster movies, and he became less of an artist and more of a traffic cop, shepherding dull human characters in between scenes of enormous critters beating the hell out of each other.

One of those enormous critters would inevitably be Godzilla his own bad self, who quickly devolved from terrifying symbol of post-war fear to generic monster, destuctive but misunderstood, and willing to defend the human race at the drop of a hat. Even at its worst (that would be Godzilla On Monster Island), the series was always entertaining, but it is a little unfortunate that such a fine, somber and terrifying movie was ultimately responsible for so much silliness. On the other hand, I have a tendency to break into Godzilla's Happy Dance from Monster Zero, so who am I to complain about silliness?

Friday, September 01, 2006


No, I just can't do it. I'd write about the Bushinista's new desperation tactics in defending the war in Iraq, how they are trying once again to tie Iraq to 9/11, their despicable attacks on the patriotism of any and all who oppose them--but I can't. To do so would involve actually reading the transcripts of recent speeches from Bush and Rumsfeld, and frankly, I'm on meds for my blood pressure, so...

So let's see what's going on elsewhere in the Middle East. According to the U.N., the cease fire between Israel and Lebanon has been violated by the Lebanese four times, and by Israelis seventy times. Today's New York Times has a depressing piece on the continued Israeli presence in Lebanon, firing mortars, smashing tanks into buildings, detaining the occasional citizen, all in the name of defense. Oh, and they're not violating a cease fire, according to government spokesperson Miri Eisen, because a cease fire doesn't exist. This is merely a "cessation of hostilities," so Israel is free to strut around Lebanon acting like a bully, because...No, again, I don't want to go into it. I'll get dizzy and lightheaded, and I'll need to go lay down.

Well, what can I write about? Let's see, Father Gabriel Amorth, official exorcist to Pope Benedict (Did you know the Pope had his very own exorcist? Neither did I.), Hitler and all of his followers were possessed by Satan. He reached this conclusion because, apparently, he couldn't think of any other reason hy so many people would be responsible for so much evil. There's no such thing as free will, according to the Catholic church. When given a choice, people would never choose to do something despicable.

So does that mean when I call Bush and Rumsfeld "tools of Satan", I'm not speaking metaphorically? Thanks, Father Amorth! My blood pressure's doing just fine!