Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Graduation Day 2012 

Today was Graduation Day at school. The most bittersweet of all school days. Joyful that the kids made it to graduation! Despite their disabilities, their medical issues and/or behavior concerns, they have achieved something tangible, something real: a high school diploma. I remember once years back, one of my students was the first in his family to get a diploma. Sad because you know that the students you have taught, nursed and nurtured, developed deep friendships with and at times fought for are moving on to the next stage in their lives. One that you likely will no longer regularly be a part of. Tomorrow afternoon we will put those students on the bus for the final time and some tears will be shed as good-byes are said. The wheel of life spins onward.

Today Jorge, a student I have known for a decade and one of mine for the past three years graduated. His mother asked if I would speak on his behalf. What follows is what I wrote and what was said.

The Principal's Introductory Remarks
Jorge came to Rosedale in 2002. He quickly became well known around campus for his gregarious grin and gleeful laughter. Like many young men, Jorge enjoys slapstick humor. Having an awkward and at times clumsy teacher for the past few years meant many days full of laughter. He loves to use an adaptive switch with his head or his hand to read stories on the computer in English or Spanish. A Spanish story about “El Chupacabra” is always a favorite. He enjoys everything and is a hard worker. He is a great delivery person. Whether he is delivering mail downtown at the school district administration offices, or supplies to classrooms you are guaranteed to receive your delivery with a huge smile. After graduation, Jorge will continue to live at home with his family. With his family and friends he will continue to participate in a variety of community activities.

My Graduation Remarks
I am honored that Jorge’s mother Sra. Ugarte requested that I speak on behalf of her son today. I thank her and all of Jorge’s family for sharing him with us for all these years.

I would like to begin with a story of achievement and one of. . .  well, not achievement. At Jorge’s final annual ARD meeting this spring, all agreed that Jorge understands English as well as he understands Spanish. While he speaks neither, over the past few years Jorge has truly become fluent comprehending a second language. This is a case of the student surpassing the teacher. I have not made equal progress and I regret that I cannot deliver these remarks in the first language of Jorge and his family. I thank my fellow teacher, Claudia for translating this into Spanish for Jorge’s family.

I remember meeting Jorge when he began at Rosedale as a student in Dedra Standish’s classroom. I immediately recognized him as a friendly and handsome young man with twinkling brown eyes and a contagious smile. However, when I think about Jorge my first thoughts are not about seeing him for the first time, but hearing him. It was a few years later, during our school musical jamboree sessions that I really began to get to know Jorge. On Friday afternoons I play guitar and sing for the students along with any coworkers I can convince or coerce to join me. The jamboree is more cacophony than symphony, students are encouraged to join the band, to dance, to sing and to play along on whatever they can strum, shake, or bang. One day many years ago, I remember hearing Jorge’s loud exuberant shouts of “ayaaauh” above the gleeful noise. I remember wondering, “Who’s that?” I looked across the room and saw Jorge sitting in the front row, smiling from ear to ear, singing as loudly as he could. It was at that moment I began to experience for myself the contagious joy Jorge brings to and shares with the world.

For the past few years I have been fortunate to be Jorge’s teacher. I have been more fortunate to be Jorge’s student. Jorge teaches there is joy in all things great or small. Jorge greets each day like he greets each person, with a huge smile. When Jorge does something, he does it enthusiastically, with gusto!
When you first look at Jorge it is easy to perceive a person with significant disabilities. Don’t let appearances fool you. And don’t try to tell Jorge. I doubt he would believe you. Jorge recognizes that he does things differently. He may look a little different than other people. He may do things in a different way. But so what? Many people look and do things differently. And we all need help from somebody from time to time. So what’s the big deal if Jorge, like the Beatles sang, “gets by with a little help from his friends”?

Jorge embodies and teaches the power of the human spirit. He teaches perseverance. Jorge teaches that although the challenge may be great and the obstacles may seem insurmountable, you don’t stop. You always try your best and give your all with joy in your heart and a smile on your face. Jorge teaches, as Monty Python taught years ago, “Always look on the bright side of life.”

(CUE JORGE W/ ADAPTIVE SWITCH) I presented Jorge with an adaptive switch that he activates by pressing it with his cheek. The switch is connected to my Macbook. When he presses it, it triggers a clip from the Monty Python song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” to play through the school PA and Jorge "sings":

            And. . . always look on the bright side of life           
            Always look on the light side of life.
            If life seems jolly rotten
            There’s something you’ve forgotten
            And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
            When you’re feeling in the dumps
            Don’t be silly chumps
            Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.
            And. . . always look on the bright side of life           
            Always look on the light side of life.

Keep looking on the bright side Jorge. I know that you will.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

blind in texas 

(Like me, my dear reader, I am quite certain you never imagined I'd find a way to begin a rant with a reference to a W.A.S.P. song that wasn't "F**k Like a Beast". But here we are. . . )

I just saw this frightening pinhead, Don McLeroy, interviewed on Colbert. Why he agreed to do it will, like the Universe, forever remain a mystery. It was one of the most awkward and edited interviews on Colbert I think I've seen. I can only imagine it was an effort to stage some sort of counter offensive to this new documentary:

Oh, how I long for the days when the Ewings were the biggest thing that made Texans look like ignorant arrogant self-righteous pricks.

"Look around us and look at nature, look at all the plants the complexity, look at us, look at our hand. It used to be you would look out and you would see the God that created it all. And now, people walk outside and see blind purposeless nothingness."

You're staring at plants and fascinated by the complexity of your hand? Cripes man, how fucking high on psychedelics are you? Been there, done that, got the fuck over it. Blind purposeless nothingness? No. Not in my world.

"My sense of God is my sense of wonder about the Universe" - Albert Einstein

Mine too. 

"My religion says that we are created in the image of God."

Really? Mine says you should blow me. So drop to your knees and let's get this over with. Wait. What? You don't agree? You don't think I should impose my religious beliefs upon you?



Sunday, January 01, 2012

here's to the new year 

It's two minutes to midnight. Literally, really it is. And while the hand may not currently be threatening doom, it is still surely making a very exciting night at my house.

Outside the darkness bangs, whistles, and booms. Fucking redneck urban hillbillies and their gahdamned fireworks. At least I hope they're fireworks. . . Although in my part of town. . .

Those bastards. Sounds like a gahdamned war zone. I might as well be Edward R Effing Murrow phoning it in from some rooftop in London. Fuck it. It's New Year's Eve. I'm breaking out the bourbon.

All the creatures in the house save me are in full freak-out mode.

The Boy was quite happy to go to bed. He smiled when I tucked him in an hour and half or so ago. The dogs were also rather content, all snuggled in throw blankets on the sofa. I was just settling down to watch a documentary about the history of television on PBS. Really. Yes, I actually was. I know, I know, how New Year's Eve has changed. Why back in the day we'd. . .

Whoa, getting off course. Back on track.

There had been intermittent bursts of small explosions periodically throughout the night. Perhaps a few more than a typical Saturday night, perhaps beginning a bit earlier than is typical. I mean, the cantinas, clubs, and bars are still open for about another two hours. But such a ruckus is certainly not unheard of in these parts.

Starting about eleven thirty or so, it went up a notch. Fucking fireworks. It started in skirmishes of small arms fire, bricks of black cats blocks away. It got closer, and closer. As the old year waned into the new the louder booms of rockets added to the cacophony like small artillery, mortars and stuff. Again distant at first, then close and all around.


Outside it sounds like Fallujah in April of 2004.

The dogs are glued to my ankles and The Boy shakes and vibrates in his bed as I pace around the house impatiently waiting for his damned iPod to sync so I can set him up with music to drown out the bangs and booms raging all around.

Finally. Ah, sweet Brandi Carlile. Your voice sure is some kind of sonic soma for The Boy. His eyes widen when he hears it. He almost immediately relaxes, and within a few bars his respirations begin to relax.

Well, primary crisis resolved. Like I said, I'm breaking out the bourbon. . .

2012 enters with a bang. Let's hope the Mayans had it wrong and we do this again, same time next year, ok?

Until then my dear reader and friend, raise a toast to the new year! And one for the brothas who ain't here to celebrate it with us.

And always remember my dear reader. . .

All For The Love Of The Boy


Sunday, September 11, 2011

i'm just saying. . . 

um, this is kinda neat:

Did they just do that?

But again, I'm just saying. . .

I take some comfort in the knowledge that I am not alone in my thoughts on this morning. Many Highly Credible People also have many unanswered questions about all the crazy bad shit that went down that day.

So either we are all crazy, or the gods must be.

I'm just saying. . .


Thursday, July 14, 2011

it's the economy stupid? 

So I'm just sittin' on our new couch, because after seven years of being the prime daytime spot for The Boy. . . well, let's just say it was time for a new one.

Stewart and Colbert are over. As a brief aside, tonight's Daily Show bit with a Seinfeld cameo about Michelle Bachmann's husband damn near had me in tears on the floor. Beautiful. Brilliant.

The Wife and The Boy are snug in their beds, so I'm just channel surfing. I land on FOX News. Hannity. As a rule, I avoid Hannity because for me anyways he has this nails on the blackboard way that best exemplifies the arrogant self-important douche-bags who pass for news people and journalists nowadays. Okay, with Beck currently off-air in reality it's probably a toss-up between him, O'Reilly and Olbermann's new old show on the Al Gore channel.

As you are surely aware, my dear reader, I am a media junkie who just can't get enough of the 24 hour cable news cycle. Not because I wish to be informed. I have the internet for that. I like cable TV news because it amuses me.

I'm freaky like that. We all have our hobbies.

I am fascinated by the different news networks ability to take complicated issues, such as the current debt ceiling discussion, and distill them down to sixth grade level sound bites with flashy graphics designed to appeal to their core demographics. Whether they are "conservative" (FOX) or "liberal" (MSNBC) or try for a more "moderate" (CNN) approach, there is one common characteristic that judging from their predominant advertising most of their viewers share: erectile dysfunction.

But I'm watching Hannity for a few moments because I notice that his hair is getting grayer. Recent photos of his nemesis Obama have shown a similar trend towards more gray on the ol' noggin, so I'm guessing Hannity is just trying to keep up. I see from the guide on our digital cable that Family Guy or something comes on the Cartoon Network in few minutes so I leave it because I need something to pass the time.

In the corner of the screen in that big scary block letter font: THE DEBT DEBATE or some such nonsense. Hannity has a panel of guests to discuss this issue of grave importance to our nation. There is an old white guy and a bald black dude. In all honesty, the sound was down because I received a phone call a few minutes prior and the remote that handles our surround sound was slightly out of reach on the other end of the couch. So I will admit that I am going with stereotypes and just guessing. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that the old white guy was playing the "conservative" role and the black dude was the "liberal" on the panel. You know, to keep things fair and balanced.

There was a another person on the panel: Miss America 2008.

Wait. What? Who?

Miss America 2008? I am skeptical, but not so skeptical as to be motivated to lean over two feet to grab the remote and turn the sound up. Perhaps she studied economics in college and is currently comparing and contrasting current policy to the theories of Malthus and Adam Smith.

Cut to commercial.

Cialis. Because you never know when it will be the right time.

There she is, Miss America.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

in regards to the shire 

Many,  many years ago, before the Google gave us the way to instantly connect and hyperlink to all human knowledge, I remember reading an article about J.R.R. Tolkien.

Anyways. . .

I read about this FAMiLY group in Iowa, and this pledge they created for Presidential candidates to sign to earn the support of their organization. It's full of lots of crazy sounding shit about "Humane protection of women and the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy" whatever the fuck that means. I mean really now, in some circumstances the innocent fruit of conjugal intimacy could be referred to as Santorum.

Okay, I'll link to that because it's funny. Almost makes me want to start a contest. What's a Bachmann?

Back to the pledge. The rejection of Sharia Law. What the fuck is that? Where did that come from? Because the President is a secret non-American muslim? Because our nation was founded on The Ten Commandments of Jewish law?  Because we should base our lives on and our laws on one ancient mythology and not on another? It almost makes me want to start bitching that all the trouble in our nation today is caused because we have turned our backs on Zeus. You don't want to slight him. Nope. He's not one one to trifle with. Ask Odysseus. And Zeus was as kinky as he was vengeful. I'm not talking just the standard whips, chips, chains, and dips type of stuff. I'm talking hardcore, like beastiality. He banged Europa as a bull, and Leda as a swan.

But I am really digressing. . .

Back to Tolkien.

For Tolkien the hobbits and The Shire were a metaphor for the English people. Not the Williams and the Kates nor the Harper Sevens of England, but the people of England. The hardworking, honest, and sensible people that made (and presumably continue to do so) the majority of the country, just the people living their lives in the hamlets, villages and hillsides. The hobbits and The Shire represented the fellows who got up every morning and did their job without complaint so long as they could enjoy a pint with a friend at the end of day, the salt of the earth folks.

Some might say Springsteen paints a similar picture of America for our times: "I had a friend was a big baseball player back in high school. . . "

Or David Byrne: "People like us. . . we don't want freedom, we don't want justice. We just want someone to love".


Iowa is that place and those people for me. Iowa is my Shire. Sweet Iowa, the land where the tall corn grows, the land of my birth, the land of my childhood, the land of my idyllic Tom Sawyer days running through the woods to the banks of the river.

"Is this Heaven?" "No, it's Iowa." - Field of Dreams
"I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space." James T. Kirk, Star Trek IV

You know that scene near the end of Lord of The Rings? The books, not the movies. The Hobbits return to The Shire and discover to their horror that it had become the ugly scene that Sam witnessed when he looked into The Mirror of Galadriel.

I feel like that. It cuts me to my core to see the good people of my Shire fall prey to the evil and ignorant, hurtful and hateful speech of such a Wormtongue.


Saturday, July 09, 2011

back yard / rear window 

Have you, my dear reader, seen that Hitchcock film where Jimmy Stewart is stuck in his upper floor apartment because he has a broken leg? You know, the one where he passes the time looking out his window watching his neighbors and becomes convinced that one of them murdered his wife? The Simpsons version where Bart sends Lisa into Flanders house is classic.

Well, we're not there yet. But some shenanigans are going on at the house behind ours.

First, some background information. Our house sits on a large corner lot in a neighborhood that was a country subdivision a few miles from the city when it was built in the fifties. Now it is prime centrally located real estate. Our yard is half a block deep. The back of our yard abuts the back yard of the corresponding corner house on the street behind ours. When we moved here in 2006 an elderly couple lived there. Last May I noticed the house was on the market, and within a matter of a week or two somebody else moved in. The new resident immediately replaced a decades old chain link fence with a large wooden fence. No big deal, right? I personally kinda like it as it adds to the privacy of our own back yard.

It was soon after that I began to notice things that seemed odd, but I fancy myself as a great neighbor in that I keep to myself and mind my own business and don't give a rat's ass what you do so long as you do the same and don't bother me. I was curious as to why I saw cars coming and going from the backyard at all hours of the day, what is going on over there? But again, it don't bother me so it ain't my business.

About a month ago, one afternoon there was a knock on the door. It was our new back neighbor. He introduced himself, an Asian fellow, said his name was Vinny. He asked me about the neighborhood, and asked a curious question about if we had a problem with complaints from the neighbors for entertaining guests. While we have frequent visitors, therapists, case managers and what coming to see The Boy, perhaps a friend or two stopping by for an after work beer, we rarely have gatherings at our house that involve more than a few cars. They are easily parked by our house. On the maybe once a year occasion we have a real party, well honestly no, we've never heard a complaint from a neighbor about the parking, traffic or the noise.

He told me that after being in our neighborhood for maybe a couple of weeks, he had already received complaints about all his guests and their cars, that is why he turned his back yard into a parking lot behind a large wooden fence. While I must admit, at first it was an odd sight to see the lights of multiple cars shining through the wooden slats driving around his back yard on those nights where I sit on my patio having a nightcap, playing on the internet at two in the morning, I never heard a peep of noise. So ya got no complaints from me, mister.

The conversation was friendly but strange. But again, your business is just that. You mind yours, I'll mind mind, never the twain shall meet.

Until one night a week or so ago, sometime around midnight.

I let our little dog out one last time before going to bed. Beasty. A yippie little Yorkie. He was a stray The Wife and The Boy found in February. He's misbehaved and ill-mannered. I can't count how many iPod earbuds he's chewed up. But he is cute, sweet, incredibly good natured, and great with The Boy. He's small, shaggy, adorable and endearing as all Hell. I never wanted a damn yippie little dog, but that is a story for another time.

Anyways, Beasty starts freaking out. He's going ballistic at the side of our back yard. I come out to see what is going on and I see two cars, running with parking lights on sitting on the side street. I approach. It's two police cars. What's going on? I am standing there, flashlight in hand in my jammy shorts and shoddy t-shirt when two of my town's finest walk up the side street from the direction of the new neighbor's house:

"Good evening, sir."
"Everything okay officers?"
"Yes. Have a good night."

They get in their cars and drive off.

Hmmm. . . Most curious. . . Police hanging out beside my house in the middle of the night? Can't say I'm exactly a fan of that. What's going on?

Well nothing, at least not then. But I began to take more notice. I'd go by the house and wonder, "I don't remember the garage windows covered with foil when the old folks lived there?"

All the while I resisted the temptation to just go to the back end of my yard and peer over or through the fence. Because again, I wish to respect the privacy of all my neighbors with the expectation that they do the same for me.

That ended around eight Friday night.

There was a knock on the front door. I open. Two cops stand there, the badges pinned to their uniforms were shinier than I thought they would be, more golden less brassy. That scene with Eddie Murphy from "Trading Places" pops into my mind, "Is there a problem, officers?"

They were very polite and cordial, but guarded in their conversation and answers the way police officers are. The asked for permission to enter our back yard to get a better view into the neighbor's.

While it is my general rule that with all due respect officer if you wish to enter my property uninvited well then I wish to invoke my rights so show me the warrant, these guys were clearly on a mission that didn't involve me or my household. So what the heck, hold on a sec, meet me around back and I'll unlock the gate.

As I let them in my back yard they asked me general questions inquiring about my knowledge of the new neighbor. As I spoke one of the officers, the one that appeared younger and the more junior officer jotted down notes on a small pad. They walked in and spent a few minutes at the fence line. They asked if they could use the ladder from The Boy's still not set up above ground pool to get a better view. Sure, go right ahead. I stayed back by the gate, not wanting be viewed as meddlesome or interfering. The younger officer continued to jot things down.

After a few minutes they came back to the gate and politely thanked me with an apology for interrupting my evening. When I asked more directly what was going on, one of them used the phrase "an ongoing investigation." Then they got in their cars and drove off.

What the Hell were they looking at? An ongoing investigation? Of what? Overwhelmed with curiosity, The Wife and I went to have a look for ourselves. There were at least a dozen cars parked in the back yard. Why? What is going on in that house?

I recalled a conversation I had with a street-savvy former coworker five years ago when I told him we were looking at buying a house in this neighborhood: "Be careful, that part of town is controlled by the Asian gangs."

It still feels uncomfortable, as though this is politically incorrect and smacks of racial profiling, but my mind began to wildly speculate as to what was happening behind us. Asian gangs? Drugs? Guns? Prostitution?

Well early this evening I learned the alleged truth and it blew my mind just a little. A fellow resident posted this to our neighborhood's Yahoo! news group: "I wanted to make the community aware that a new owner has taken over the property & is now operating an illegal gambling operation. He turned his back yard into a parking lot & gamblers arrive almost daily from as far away as Oklahoma."


Last night at this time there were still over a dozen cars parked in the back yard. Tonight there are zero.

Never a dull moment in the big city.



Friday, July 08, 2011

to boldly go 

Author's Note: I have delayed publishing this little rant for a couple of days because I wanted and thought I needed to say more. Upon much reflection and re-reading I have decided I have said enough. I rest my case.

(While The Wife is as gorgeous as she is generous, caring, empathetic, and kind; there are somethings about her amazing husband that even after a decade together she just doesn't get. This late-night mild to moderately drunken rant is an attempt to explain. Or maybe because she is working an all-nighter for some extra cash, The Boy is snug asleep, and I just feel like rambling on a bit . . . )

Join me now my dear reader on a journey, as though we just used the gravitational pull from the Sun to accelerate our humble plastic starship to such a high rate of speed that we slingshot around our fair star and travel back through time. . .

High School.

In a moment of sad irony John Lennon is gone but Reagan survived an assassin's bullet and is in the latter half of his first term. We are deep in the heart of The Sprawl. It is a different world from the one in which we now reside. The internet as we now know it exists only as a vision in an about to be published William Gibson novel. Computers are just beginning to leave the realm of sci-fi and scientists. If you were lucky you got to play with an Apple II in school.

DVDs? Nope, not yet. The Beta/VHS war is beginning to rage. As we are in an affluent suburb, most of the homes had one or the other machines. But there was not yet a Blockbuster on the corner in the local strip mall to provide content to watch on the new marvelous invention.

Hundreds of digital TV channels on demand? Nope. Pink was Bob Geldof, not a spunky tatted-up pop star. When he sang "thirteen channels of shit on the TV to chose from" you were jealous because had like five more than you did. Really. Cable TV had not yet expanded to The Sprawl.

A gallon of gas and a pack of Marlboros both cost around fifty cents. You'd buy one of each. With the other of the two dollars your dad gave you each day to buy lunch in the high school cafeteria you'd buy a Big Gulp and a bag of Skittles at 7-Eleven on your off-campus lunch break. If it was a lucky day, a friend supplemented your soda from a Jif jar filled with a collage of booze stolen from a parent's liquor cabinet. You'd giggly sit as quietly as possible in English class that afternoon, holding your breath whenever the teacher drew near.

Any change that was left was plunked into the Spy Hunter machine in the nook where the ATM machine now sits.

It was a different place and a different time, but sadly, yes very sadly indeed, not all that different from the Planos and Round Rocks of the world that still vapidly exist.

It was like a John Hughes movie, but before John Hughes fully defined and described it for us and posterity. If it was like a John Hughes movie, we imagined ourselves as Judd Nelson and envied Emilio Estevez. We lusted after both Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy although both were out of our league because we were the Anthony Michael Halls.

So what did you do? What did we do?

We watched Star Trek. Because we were the Anthony Michael Halls. We watched episodes recorded from syndication on our new VCRs. Over and over and over again, until they were engrained and we could recite them line by line from memory. We watched Star Trek and talked about music like Rush, U2, Pink Floyd, The Who. We watched Star Trek and we drank dad's Natural Lite beer and smoked his Merit cigarettes. He was a cool dad and didn't really care so long as we left him a couple of each. We watched Star Trek and imagined that we were Kirk and that new girl from the other high school just hired at the grocery store or burger joint where we worked was the bikini-clad green chick.

Star Trek's utopian egalitarian vision of the future stood in stark contrast to the consumer caste system suburban society that surrounded us. It was an escape that helped to soothe the unattractive truth. And that was (and remains) precisely its appeal.

Period. The end.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

am i the only one that hears scary movie music playing in the background? 

So I read that President Perry. . . yes. . . President Perry. . .

(Remember to say it with me now Say so that when it happens you will be acclimated and will be able to say it out loud without throwing up in your mouth just a little. Good.)

Anyways I read that Ol' Pointy Boots, Mr. Perfect Hair, Pandering Perry is giving up on using human creativity, ingenuity, imagination and knowledge to solve and resolve our problems and punting with a plea to the Patriarch Upstairs.

(another "p" word comes to mind, but I shall refrain from using it. Meow.)

Texas Governor Rick Perry to host prayer summit that calls upon Jesus to solve America’s problems


"Gov. Perry also urged fellow governors to issue similar proclamations encouraging their constituents to pray that day for unity and righteousness. . ."
Oh, I see. As long as he's praying for righteousness. Thank God somebody is. There's not enough righteousness lying about just waiting to be offended these days.

President Perry is calling God on August 6?

"Given the trials that beset our nation and world, from the global economic downturn to natural disasters, the lingering danger of terrorism and continued debasement of our culture, I believe it is time to convene the leaders from each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel," Gov. Perry said.
If we're half as fucked as you seem to think we are, President Perry, why wait until August? I mean given the continuing debasement of our culture, can we afford to wait for two more months? Hell, Miley was only a scance this side of legal when those bong and tattoo photos started leaking out. Shouldn't we act now, to save the daughters of Texas. . . just like you did in 2007?

On August 6. August 6?

There's something familiar about that date.

Ah yes. . .


Maybe if the folks of that formerly peaceful and pristine town all gotten together and placed a called to the Big J on that day we wouldn't have murdered them by the thousands.

We all know those jap bastards deserved it. Don't question American Exceptionalism. If you do your a commie or one of them ay-rab terrorist types.

But I digress. . .

So good for you, you hardcore posh Austin neighborhood coyote killer. Good for you, Gov. Praying Perfect Hair Pandering Pointy Boots Perry. Yeah. Have fun. Enjoy God-o-Rama, Prayerfest, Christstock or whatever you wanna call it. Empty vessels ring so loud.

However, there is something about the photo with the story. Something haunting, I have this strange feeling I have seen that image before. . .

Perfect. Wouldn't surprise me a bit.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

perhaps it's not so nutty after all 

Last November, I had this thought, more of a nightmare really.

Well sometimes even bad dreams come true. Let's just be glad it hasn't, yet.

Rick Perry Presidential Push Quietly Gains Steam


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

um. . . 

Look man, I don't want to jump into the middle of the whole we got Osama did we or didn't we mess. I don't. I really don't. I got better things to do with my time.

And I want to believe and believe in my government. Really I do. I want to believe in the America my father told me about when I was a child. Freedom. Equality. Opportunity. All that shit. That whole "truth, justice, and the American way" thing that even Superman has now disavowed. I remember Watergate and my dad telling me that the system worked. Nixon was a devious rotten lying bastard. America found out and we kicked his pale wrinkled sorry ass to the curb. Score one for the good guys, right?

Through the years I have learned about great events involving ships: The Lusitania, The USS Maine, The Gulf of Tonkin, maybe even Pearl Harbor. Hmm, interesting how it seems like sinking some fella's boat is a sure fire way to get him to go to war on your ass. As it turns out, maybe things didn't quite go down like like they were described in the press at the time.

And I learned about things with "Operation" in their name: Northwoods, Mockingbird, Paperclip. Hmm, interesting how it seems that those most entrusted to protecting America have little problem coming up with plans that seem most un-American: plans that involve lying, treachery and deceit.

The phrase that most comes to mind involves ends justifying means.

So let me just say, that although I still fervently believe in The American Dream that is both my father's and Dr. King's, I am seriously concerned that it is only that, a dream.

So I read this:

Diary: Bin Laden eyed new targets, big body count

He kept a diary? Wow. Who knew the world's Most Wanted Man had so much in common with tween American girls? Did they find it under one of those blood-soaked mattresses? How long did it take the CIA to find a paperclip to pick the lock?

Reading. . .

Strike smaller cities, bin Laden suggested. Target trains as well as planes. If possible, strike on significant dates, such as the Fourth of July and the upcoming 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Above all, kill as many Americans as possible in a single attack.


Still reading. . .

bin Laden never yielded control of his worldwide organization, U.S. officials said Wednesday. [T]wo officials. . . described the intelligence to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about what was found in bin Laden's hideout.

Not authorized? But they did! Hagh! Releasing classifed information!?! Bastards! Hunt them down and treat them like Bradley Manning.

No wait. "U.S. officials". . . oh, the government, the good guys, our side. . . For some reason that whole end justifying the means thought keeps popping back.

Keep reading. . .

In one particularly macabre bit of mathematics, bin Laden's writings show him musing over just how many Americans he must kill to force the U.S. to withdraw from the Arab world. He concludes that the smaller, scattered attacks since 9/11 had not been enough. He tells his disciples that only a body count of thousands, something on the scale of 9/11, would shift U.S. policy.

Yeah, I'm sure Jerry Bruckheimer already has the script written. He's in contract negotiations with both Will Smith and Matt Damon for the lead role.

Reading more. . .

The communications were in missives sent via plug-in computer storage devices called flash drives. The devices were ferried to bin Laden's compound by couriers, a process that is slow but exceptionally difficult to track.

Oh, that's how he did it. Thanks AP for explaining it to me. . . like I am six.

I mean really now, I know I'm not the only one who thinks this is crap. I can't be. It's just too freaking ridiculous.

Keep reading. End this lame-ass article and put me out of my misery.

Intelligence officials have not identified any new planned targets or plots in their initial analysis of the 100 or so flash drives and five computers that Navy SEALs hauled away after killing bin Laden. Last week, the FBI and Homeland Security Department warned law enforcement officials nationwide to be on alert for possible attacks against trains, though officials said there was no specific plot.

Um, okay, disregard the admission that there is really nothing here to be afraid of. Wait! That just shows the treachery of our enemies who hate us for our freedoms. There is no specific plot. Nothing specific? Hell, They could be anywhere, anytime! Quick, look under the bed!

For Chris'sakes man, Stan Lee wrote better plots for the X-Men.


Saturday, May 07, 2011


NEW YORK (AFP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad skirted a question about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran on Monday, saying in a speech at a top US university that there were no gays in Iran.


Friday, May 06, 2011

it's not quite uncle walt 

This would be really funny if it weren't true:

Close allies of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have been accused of using supernatural powers to further his policies amid an increasingly bitter power struggle between him and the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Several people said to be close to the president and his chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, have been arrested in recent days and charged with being "magicians" and invoking djinns (spirits).

Ayandeh, an Iranian news website, described one of the arrested men, Abbas Ghaffari, as "a man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with the unknown worlds".

Invoking dijinns? Who got Robin Williams? Please tell him he doesn't have to be "on" all the time. Mork calling Orson, it's been what, thirty years?

Hell, it's even funnier when imagined as a Disney movie.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

the doctor is in 


Thursday, April 21, 2011


My long Easter weekend began, in a terrible accidental way, a day earlier than most folks. Tomorrow may be Good Friday, but now an Okay Thursday will suit us just fine, thank you very much.

This morning, this Maundy Thursday, the Thursday of Mysteries, whatever you wish to call it, began for me in a hospital room. Yep, as the clock crossed midnight into Thursday morning I was in a room at the children's hospital. My folks were there, my dad was nodding and sleeping in a rocking chair on the far side of the room. My mother, The Wife, and I sat huddled around the rolling hospital bed table on the other side of the room. We ate cold turkey sandwiches recently purchased from the sparce late-night fare in the hospital cafeteria.

We tried to speak in hushed tones, but the emotions of the moment were still running quite high.

As for The Boy. . .

Remember dear reader, now and forever, All for The Love of The Boy. . .

He was, as is typical in such situations, the reason for our predicament.

On Tuesday afternoon, a strange lump appeared on the left side of The Boy's groin. We presumed it was one of his testicles, as they are retractile they frequently hide out there. It's just another one of The Boy's endearing biological quirks. He is nearing the end of precocious puberty. It's not uncommon in kids with serious neurological disabilities. It began a couple of summers back when we noticed things were growing and getting hairier than is typical of a seven year old. Monitoring downstairs had become just another thing on The Boy's checklist.

Clearly something's not right, but what? There were no other symptoms. No indication of sensitivity or pain, no inflammation or redness, no fever nor any other sign of possible infection. And as there were no other symptoms, there was no reason to rush of to the after-hours clinic. So we watched and waited.

Wednesday morning, while the lump had grown significantly, it was still more curious than frightening. It looked like someone somehow shoved an avocado up there.

The Wife got on the phone. Lucky break! An available appointment with the pediatrician that afternoon.

The pediatrician did what he typically does with The Boy in novel situations. He punted. While I have no doubt that the good doctor sincerely and genuinely cares for The Boy, I think that The Boy scares him. Consistently rated as one of the best pediatricians our fair city has to offer, the unique medical challenges posed by The Boy I think push him well past the boundaries of his knowledge, experience, and comfort zone. Little Blake fell of his skateboard, Sara has an ear infection, Dylan has a rash, Kaycee ate what? That is the bulk of his practice. When it comes to a kid like The Boy, well that pushes things to a whole different level. As he is a thoughtful and cautious man, he refers and defers to the specialists.

A phone call later and we are off. Another lucky break! The urologist has agreed to see The Boy last minute. So it was that we found ourselves in a urologist's office looking at ultrasound images of my son's testicles. What did you do Wednesday afternoon?

Somehow the left one had become twisted, "torsion" I believe was the word written down on reports. Apparently, with all of this this testicular dancing it was virtually inevitable that this would happen. Veins had become kinked, blood flow cut off. The words "appears mottled" and "necrotic" were used. It had to come out. Now. Now? Now!





I didn't cry then, although please give me a moment if I do now.

We make the short walk across the parking lot from the doctor's office to the children's hospital. Grandparents are called. I put on a brave face and try my best not to break down on the phone. Surgery is the scariest thing in the world.

Two nervous hours. . .

Two hours can be a very long time. . .

To have to wait. . .

And feel helpless. . .

And wait. . .

Did I mention the desperate feeling of complete utter helplessness?

Still waiting. . .

"Prayer, the last refuge of a scoundrel." - Lisa Simpson

The waiting room door opens, a nurse appears, she calls my boy's name. . .

Finally, in the recovery room. Sigh. All went well. Things are good, better than anticipated.

A few hours later and we are back where this story began, Thursday morning, after midnight in a scene I have witnessed too many times. The Boy is in a hospital bed, connected with tubes and wires to machines that beep, whir, and go ping. He peacefully sleeps in the comforting embrace of the waning anesthesia.

6:30 am. The Boy is discharged from the hospital. The Wife is amazing in these situations. Really, she is. She speaks the lingo, and she's charming as all Hell. She had worked a deal to get us out of there before the morning shift change. We are home before 7:00.

Now a few hours later, the morning clouds are beginning to burn off in the mid-morning sun. The Wife is snug asleep in bed. She pulled an all-nighter up with The Boy. Yes I know, it is further evidence of her awesomeness. The Boy also sleeps comfortably in his own bed. Cripes, what a day that kid had.

He has three incisions: on the left and right side of his upper groin and scrotum. Ouch, hurts just to type it. They removed his left testicle, and ended the right's nomadic ways by severing the muscle that caused the wandering and permanently attaching it to his scrotum. Ouch, hurts just to type it.

As for me, well I swear to you I am feeling sympathetic pain, and I feel giddy, almost delirious with exhaustion from the emotional wringer of the last 24 hours.

Soon The Nurse will be here to care for The Boy and I will join my family in slumber.

Until then, I feel no shame in stating that it is five o'clock somewhere and I am enjoying a tasty adult libation. I will most likely have two, both well earned and much deserved.

So good morning to you, my dear reader, good morning indeed.

a postscript. . .

In all seriousness, I must confess that with comic and karmic irony, this is the first song Pandora played when I fired up my MacBook to begin this rant:

"Big Balls" - AC/DC


Saturday, January 01, 2011

on resolutions 

While most would agree on the importance of a proper breakfast before beginning one's day of labors, there has been much debate as to what type of breakfast best restores and rejuvenates.

However, none would argue that a toaster oven reheated Jack-n-The-Box Value Menu taco and eggroll qualify in the least. No sir, not in the least. Yet such is the breakfast I am currently having.

And, and, my dear reader, and I am washing it all down with a beer. Yes that's right, a beer. Although I know it is well before noon I admit this without shame. Today is a Saturday! And it's New Year's Day!

I am also listening to The Replacements, we are the sons of no one, bastards of young. . .

Today, as we are all quite aware, is a holiday. A holiday! A day to reflect upon the past year while you look towards the future; planning, dreaming, and scheming about the year that has just begun.

About that whole looking forward thing. . .

Ah, yes. Resolutions. Solemn vows we all make to ourselves that are meant to be broken.

To better fitness, better habits and better health!

Soon I will find myself fully carb-loaded, ready to take on the new fitness challenge: The Wii Fit Plus. Out of the box and set up yesterday. Tried it out last night for the first time. Fun, entertaining, gets you moving in weird and news ways. Any movement in front of that damnedable screen is better than just sitting there melding with the upholstery, right?

We shall see.

While a great many poets and philosophers have written about the cruel and seemingly fickle nature of Fate as a mistress, none have yet ventured into the similar nature of the Wii Fit Plus.

It is brutal in its honesty, a cruel judgemental bitch.

It called me "overweight" and calculated my Wii Fit Age as some number that looked like "57".

57? What the frack?

Oh well, let's just get to it shall we?

I wish the best for all. . . you, me, for everyone.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

a chill up my spine 

So I'm staying up a little late tonight, as I often do. Most times I find it easier and more restful to stay up until 1:30 or so, check on and turn The Boy, and then go to bed. This generally allows me 4 or so hours of uninterrupted sleep. The alternative is to go to bed earlier, pre-midnight then get up between 2 and 3, check on and turn The Boy, and then go back to bed.

And I'm reading the Winter 2010, vol. 31, no. 2 edition, page 22 of the ATPE News, because they send it to me in the mail, and I think I am a member.

The article is about the different issues impacting public education in this state and lays out the organization's stance and legislative priorities. In January the State Legislature reconvenes and all the strip clubs in town reach into deep pockets and receive a little boost of government spending, if ya know what I mean.

I am reading a section of the article describing the somewhat quixotic and paradoxical way that our elected political heroes treat charter schools: "So they're not really working like we thought? Well hmm. . . that's a puzzler. Wait! That one over there! Is it? Yes! It's working! That one is! More money! More charters! More money!"

While it is ironically equal to their frequently taken position "why throw more money at a failing system, bottom line, results, accountability, results, blah de freaking blah" when screaming about the money spent on public education, this is generally lost upon our political classes.

Amusing stuff, right?

I know!

Cracks me up, I could read it all day.

But then I get to this, and this is an actual quote, not like quotes from above, this is real:

"Most recently, the state has shown interest in using charter schools to provide educational services for special education students and students with disabilities such as autism."

Wait, what?

I teach those kids.

My son is one of those kids.

My life is those kids.


I read on:

"During a June meeting, the committee heard invited testimony from out-of-state experts on the idea of operating charter schools for students with disabilities in the same facilities as existing public schools."

Hmm. . . A separate school in the same facility.


These charter schools will:

"focus on providing high-quality education for students with disabilities. . . "

So separate but, um. . . equal?

Yeah, that worked out great the last time.


Monday, November 08, 2010

shape of things to come 

I just watched Guv'nor Good Hair on "The Daily Show".


I've joked about this since I heard local radio talk show host (and legendary former Longhorn kicker?) Jeff Ward say this on his show on election day, "President Perry".

If you start to say it now by the time it happens you will be acclimated and can say it without throwing up a little in your mouth.

I must say, he's as smooth and slick as his hair, a dubya who can speak almost eloquently in compound sentences. He can also out "folksy" his potential rival and the nation's favorite conservative MILF from Alaska.

Plus, while she may advocate shooting wolves from the safety of aircraft, he killed a coyote, on the ground, with a laser-sited pistol while jogging.

I know, I know, but if your asking why you might need to carry a laser-sited pistol when jogging, you've obviously never gone for a morning run in one of the ATX's most affluent subdivisions. It's scary: coyotes, Land Rovers, snakes, BMWs, wolves, Suburbans. . . lions, tigers, and bears, oh my!

Plus, let me throw out this little nugget to the "conspiracy theory" minded amongst us: Guv'nor Good Hair may have already received the blessing of Bilderberg.

I know, I know, crazy talk.

I believe him, and all his rambling about how Government has become too intrusive in our lives.

I'm sure it's just coincidental that the former chief of staff for the guy who mandated a vaccine for every school girl in the state was the chief lobbyist for the pharmaceutical company who makes the drug when Gov'nor Good Hair issued the order.


What was it Al Jourgensen sang?

Oh yeah. . .

"Thieves, thieves and liars, murderers
Hypocrites and bastards. . . "

That sounds about right.

Perry 2012!

Think I'm joking? Sadly no, but in all honesty I was half wrong in '06.


Friday, November 05, 2010

tough day 

Greetings and felicitations my dear reader! Yes, it has been a while since I last shared my humble experiences. Nothing to share really, just another lost soul busy eeking out a living on the third rock from our Sun. Too busy living life to write about it. Hell, I haven't even been on The Facebook in well over a month, maybe two.

But today. . . today has been a day for the books.

This morning I went to a funeral for a three year old.

Yeah. Damn right it sucked.

Fuck, who am I kidding, it was miles beyond suck. It was brutal. Viscerally, emotionally brutal. To witness and experience so much love turned to sorrow, so much grief. . . excruciating. . . an hour long kick in the nuts.

I must confess, my dear reader, I didn't know the child. Never met him. I think the large photo displayed at the front of the chapel in the funeral home was the first time I saw his image.

Yet I know all about him. I know Lev's story. I know his mother. The Wife and I have worked with her for the past couple of years through our participation with a group of caring and concerned parents who share a desire to change the world to make it a better place for our children with disabilities and serious chronic health concerns. I never met the boy because his ongoing medical issues precluded his ability to attend the few family gatherings we have had.

I went to the funeral to show support for the family. I went out of the greatest respect and admiration for a family who walk a similar road to ours, a life filled with doctor's appointments, medical tests, and endless waiting for the other shoe to fall.

I also must confess, my dear reader, it was very interesting, a first in my 18 years of going to funerals for kids with disabilities. This was the first Jewish service I have attended. The Rabbi sang/chanted several parts in Hebrew. And I believe their was a prayer in Aramaic. I didn't know what the frack he was talking or singing about, but it was melodic, haunting, beautiful and sad. There was something from King David, lamenting the loss of a son, something along the lines of "Lord, why my son and not me? I would gladly trade places."

Because I also would have gladly traded places.

I sat there and felt a tinge of guilt as I thought "there but for the grace of God go I". We have been very blessed that The Boy has been remarkably healthy for the past few years. He hasn't given us a good scare since his last pneumonia in 2007. That was a time I tend not to remember, I choose not to recall how close to the edge we came.

When I think back on that time my first memory is of The Wife basically kicking me out of a hospital room because I was on the verge of punching a doctor who wouldn't listen and didn't seem to care. I remember going outside and walking a lap around the hospital, wishing I had a cigarette, not finding one, deep breaths of cold November air. . .

Cold November air. There is a freeze warning for our area tonight.

As the sun settles into the west the cool air turns cold. I know the sun will rise in in the east in a few hours and the air will warm into a beautiful autumn day. But tonight a family mourns, and I join them.

I can only sit, powerless to help or change the awful reality that this world has lost a remarkable child as I stare into the whiteness of the screen, struggling in vain to find words. . . but as the Rabbi said, there are no words.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

cui bono 

So this preacher in Florida won't back down.

Um. . . okay.

So, my dear reader, as my mind began to wander I began to wonder, "Why?"

Why is somebody who claims to represent the divine truth of one guy on the behalf of a couple billion people want to pick a fight with a billion or so people who believe that other guy had it right?

Have you, my dear reader, ever read stories about The Romans?


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