Tuesday, August 30, 2005

All across America, hearts are breaking

The news from New Orleans, so different from that of twelve hours ago, is unbearable. Hospitals are flooding; they're trying to evacuate all the patients. Talk of evacuating the Superdome is the most recent topic. The poor man who had to make an instantaneous decision between his children and his wife, right as their house split apart.

"Where's your wife?" a reporter asked him.

"In the water. She's gone."

Staggering and heartbreaking.

And it's no better in much of the lower parts of Mississippi and Alabama, but at least the water level is lowering there, rather than rising.

I wish there were something I could do, or suddenly to be Oprah and able to offer millions for aid, or anything -just anything - but to sit here and helplessly watch so much horror and suffering. It's impossible to wrap your mind around the devastation that only increases for New Orleans' residents.

Why couldn't they have offered bus rides out of town for the people too poor to leave? Surely there was room for one extra person in the cars of those able to flee?

As wonderful as the relief workers, National Guard and emergency rescue personnel are, so much should have been and could have been done by everyday people reaching out to one another to help. And much of this death may have been preventable.

It is a dark, horrible day for New Orleans, and really all of the US.

All many of us can do is pray. I wish it were enough.

Monday, August 29, 2005

All eyes on the Gulf Coast area

Thoughts and prayers with those affected by Hurricane Katrina, particularly the citizens of New Orleans. May it pass quickly and do far less damage than expected.

Friday, August 26, 2005

For Deepak and Satish Kalpoe....


(sung to the tune of "Reunited" with apologies to Peaches and Herb)

I was a fool to ever be by your side
You were driving, took me for a ride
The email I had has made me lonesome and sad
I realize now that you guys did something bad, hey, hey

I spent the ev'ning at the Internet Cafe,
Regret the moment that I didn't run away,
Our email was such a way of learnin' so much
I know now that I'm busted 'cuz I lied too much, hey, hey

Rearrested, doesn't feel so good
Rearrested 'cause the cops understood
There's no perfect crime
And, sugar, we're gonna do time
We both were being tested, now we're rearrested, hey, hey

I sat here starin' at the same old email
You needed an alibi to keep you out of jail,
I wished I could climb right through the computer screen,
And slap you in the head for puttin me in between, hey, hey

I can't keep going to KIA', honey, I can't play
I found it very easy to lie to Mama that day
As we reminisce on screwed up moments like this
I'm sad we're rearrested and Mama is pissed, hey, hey

Rearrested, man does this suck,
Rearrested looks like we're out of luck
No more carpools for Joran,
And, sugar, prison is borin'
We thought the polis jested, but we're rearrested, hey, hey

Yeah, yeah, yeah

Over, over, this is a solid case
And we're never gonna be able to save face
If we try to run they will surely give chase
And though we tried not to we must've left a trace...

Rearrested, stuck here in the jail,
Rearrested -- mama just won't post bail,
We're really in deep,
With Joran that creep
And Bubba won't let us sleep
Looks like we've been bested, now we're rearrested, hey, hey

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Reporter foot in mouth disease: Part II

It must be that time of year; talking hairdos from all over the globe are just opening their mouths and totally stepping in it.

First Rush Limbaugh, now Tito Lacle.

You may recognize Lacle, a reporter from the paper "Aruba Today" frequently interviewed for the NH story on Fox. Seemingly likeable fellow, if you ignore his proclivity to hit on women who post at Scared Monkeys. The very first night he arrived was like "The Dating Game: Aruba version..."

But, I digress.

Apparently it really is better to make love than war, as the adage goes. Because after making this comment last night at the SM forum, Tito lost many a fan, including me:





No. You didn't just climb into a time machine and speed back to medieval times.

He actually said that a girl - oh, excuse me, a "good" girl, was "asking for it" by getting into a car with three guys.

Granted, it wasn't the smartest choice in the world. If it really was her choice. Some believe she thought she was getting in an unmarked taxi, a fairly common sight in Aruba. Others believe she may have been drugged, or forced.

All that aside, for a moment. Think about the whole "good girl" versus "bad girl" debate. Which should be something we, as a world and a nation, are well beyond. Unfortunately, not so.

And then ask yourself: If a guy had climbed into a car with three girls never to be seen again, would that make him a "bad" boy who was "asking" to disappear forever?

Nothing Natalee Holloway did that evening, or any other evening, should have resulted in her disappearance or likely murder. It needs to be off the table. Now. Treating female victims of crime differently than males is a cruel disservice.

I have to wonder if the mentality exhibited by one of Aruba's so-called professionals, a quasi-spokesperson for their country during the NH disappearance, isn't precisely part of the reason the case seems to be constantly in neutral, or just stalled. Is that the prevalent attitude with law enforcement and others?

Is that the underlying attitude, internationally, in a case such as this - insidious and unspoken, of course? Hopefully the answer is no, in both Aruba and America.

But when someone prominent makes a statement like this, it does make you wonder.

Teach the world to sing

But teach them Hedwig songs, of course. Lyrics stuck in my brain (and on the Bose) currently:

I'll lay out fine china on the linen
and polish up the chrome...

~~~"Sugar Daddy"

(Hmmm...sounds innocent enough, until you rethink that last part.)

By the gold light of your halo
I want to nail you..

(Pretty racy for a ditty - to Jesus, no less!)

Inside I'm hollowed out
outside's a paper shroud
and all the rest's illusion

~~~"Exquisite Corpse"

I look back on where I'm from
Look at the woman I've become
And the strangest things seem suddenly routine

~~~"Wig in a Box"

Those last two really speak for themselves.
Stephen Trask is a musical genius. Am considering a blog name change, since Incendiary Advice became neither of the two, and "Miss Midnight Checkout Queen" is a fitting Stephen/JCM/Hedwig tribute.

No more excuses, Chris -- get the cd already. ;)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rush...time for a refill!

Nobody spews garbage better than Rush Limbaugh; it's his stock in trade. And like so many other talking hairdo's, he's unashamed of his past deeds, let alone his words.

Forget the fact he's a known procuror of illegal substances (a "worthless shred of human debris" if you go by his own precise measurement of a drug addict).

Like Geraldo, O'Reilly, Hannity and others have proven, one man's complete moral decay is another man's peccaddilo. Especially when the latter has a good PR firm.

With that in mind, how shocking is it that one of Limbaugh's own statements has him self-expunging all records?

It's Paris Hilton in virginal white shocking. Anna Nicole Smith off her meds freakish. Pee Wee Herman becomes a Dominican monk mindblowing.

The words Limbaugh has scrubbed from his own site, and now pretends he didn't say?

The thoughts he'd like to wash away with a fistful of Oxycontin and some gin?

"I mean, Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents, there's nothing about it that's real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it, it's not real."

Can you blame him for running away from himself in shame?

How many drugs does it take to get to the center of heartless idiocy?

Ask him.

Whether you like her or hate her, believe in her cause or believe she's being taken for a ride by those with an agenda, Cindy Sheehan's loss is real. I'd venture to say it's a loss Rush Limbaugh couldn't begin to fathom. Parenthood is as out of his realm as a sensitivity instructor gig.

He must have really been having a bad prescription day, as he goes on to state:

But the longer the Sheehan thing goes on and the longer she's treated as some sort of super-celebrity by the press and the more outrageous things she says, trust me on this, the more people are going to get fed up with it. She's going to become the next Natalee Holloway before it's all said and done.”

What the HELL is that? A riff on another mother's anguish? Two in one day. Did he run out of grandmothers to slap around in his drug-induced fog?

Is it a threat? I'd sure take it like one.

If I were Cindy Sheehan, when finished putting Bush in his place for his own callous disregard of the lives he's ordered off to Iraq to die, it'd be time for Rush's trip to the cleaners. And no, not his fourth rehab stint. Although clearly it's time.

Whether a child is lost in the US, by accident, murder or in war, a mother's anguish and grief should never be desecrated. No other relationship comes close to the bond between mother and child. Sheehan herself knows and honors this; last week she left Texas to be with her own mother who had suffered a stroke. Rush just doesn't get it.

No critic or champion of Sheehan would willingly change places with her - not Rush, not Bush, not you and certainly not me.

I hope if his own mother is alive, she bakes him some Ex-Lax brownies to flush out some of the vitriol.

And then she slugs him. Hard.

Along with Beth Holloway Twitty, Sheehan has earned the right to plaster her own face across the television every night, if that's what helps her cope. And none of us have the right to tell either of them otherwise, unless we truly understand what it means as a mother to lose a young child. Maybe not even then.

All of us grieve differently, but it's certain that none of us would accept or appreciate some slimeball saying that our loss wasn't real. Rush should be ashamed of himself for talking trash about two women who embody what it means to truly be a mother while facing the most devastating losses imagineable.

That's as real as life gets.


A weird thing happened on the way through summer: caught up in the Natalee Holloway story like half of America, I started watching Fox news every day.

Now it seems that I've lost the will to criticize George Bush, or care very much about peak oil, an interminable, increasingly bloody war, the economy and lack of good jobs.

Coincidence? No way.

There's something about Fox News that just siphons the braincells right out of your skull, replacing them with Stove Top. Like a really dangerous drug, Fox sucks you in.

Geraldo and his handlebar mustache, Greta and her non-stop Aruba reports, even - Lord help us all - Bill O'Reilly beckon to you with all the subtlety and seduction of Kurt Cobain's fix kit. You say falafel, I say loofah, but we still both oughtta hate ourselves in the morning.

Everything on Fox is spun in the best possible light. Everything.

If George Bush came out as being gay at noon, by tonight's "Factor" BlO'Reilly would somehow twist into "God came down to earth and directed our President's sexuality. Isn't it great?!"

BlO would bloviate on GWB's longterm anti-gay stance as 'just tough love.'

Hannity would go on location at the White House with a segment called: George Washington: Was he the first Hedwig?

Colmes, Demo-lite that he is, would begin to utter the word hypocrisy, getting just to the 'hip...' part.

Then they cut him off and go to a hip replacement surgery commercial to obfuscate, as always.

At Large with Geraldo would later intimate that Laura Bush might too be gay, if God tells her to and then He locates a nice pair of designer assless chaps.

We might even get some photoshopped pics of Jenna and Barbara Bush at a midnight Rocky Horror screening.

Meanwhile, back in Aruba, Greta would ask Tito Lacle how the US president's sexuality will impact developments in the Holloway case. "I believe this will help wrap it up. We're close to a resolution here; just a few more days...." Tito will say. Just like he's said for 80 days now.

And that, in a nutshell, is Fox news. Plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

One is the loneliest number....

Ever just want to escape? Just for one day, even one moment, be someone else without the ties that bind -and often gag ?

Disclaimer: I love my family, nearly all of them. Would say all, but let's be honest here. That implies several people whom I seldom see and barely know. So, nearly all. Yes. Nearly.

But there are times I could happily run away, giving no forwarding address. Comes from the attendant pressure of meeting everyone's daily needs, or simply trying to, and often failing.

Lest I sound the pathetic whiner (okay, and truth be told, part of it is just that) a little background is in order - the bulk of my family consists of elderly parents and two teenagers, all four of which are working really hard to raise me alone. Or kill me. Whichever happens first.

Being truly present all of one's waking hours is the hardest job any person could ever have. Stuck between layers of parents and children, the solid mass of seeming promise in the middle, spread out so thin that cracks can be seen by the naked eye from miles away, there's nothing left of substance. At the end of the day, just getting through is enough, with or without any presence beyond the physical.

Full sensory engagement is too large a luxury.

Last known person to handle full time work and full time family with a constant smile and souffle was June Cleaver. Rumor has it she didn't get that last name by accident, either. What eventually became of said weapon is classified. The pictures of Ward and the Beaver were leaked to the Internet, at findadeath.com. Ugly stuff, folks.

I'm no June.

Then again, I've no Valium scrips, either. Another mainstay of 50's motherhood.

Forget becoming everyone's tv sweetheart; I'd settle for an uninterrupted night of television, absent the sibling rivalry, barrage of parental phone calls, and all the work that glares accusingly from across the room.

The last full night I've had to myself took place in September 2004. A lot has happened since then. Time to hear myself think? Slated for October, 2007.

When did life become such a daily grind, and how?

Somewhere between 33 and 36, I'd wager. Around the time I started hitting the sheets, instead of the bar, at 10 p.m. Around the same era my kids ceased being cute little bundles of gratitude and giggles, and started wanting bigger and better stuff: high speed Internet, big screen televisions and expensive game systems.

After getting all those things, now I come home to a house with one child on the Internet full time and the other flicking through channels on digital cable. They take turns. Only not with me.

Now that the kids are older, nothing is off-limits and tucked away in my own corner. Not the cd's, taken over by my oldest. Not the computer, of which my youngest is a new fan. My clothes? Appropriated. Shoes? Borrowed "for a sec." Books? MIA. Gilmore Girls and "Party Monster" dvds? Scattered.

All the good entertainment is taken. There's nothing to do. I'm restless. Wind up taking a nightly drive, singing loudly along with "Wig in a Box" for a natural decompression. Driving through nearby hamlets, waiting to be arrested and committed.

At least the cd player and car are still fully mine.

It's weird, being both parents, and suddenly parents to my own parents.

Good thing I'm no Miss Cleo and couldn't have forseen this, ten years ago. Because we certainly are better off, in the non-material ways, where we are instead of where we were.

A lighted crystal ball might've meant freezing in fear, at one point.

After laughing at seeing myself cut through the cord for the parents' electrical hedge clippers, oh, five times, I might've thought: "Whoa - condos here we come." It would've been impossible to imagine, giving someone shots of Procrit in the stomach, or lifting a 180 lb body off the ground, or sitting idly by while my own child was out somewhere until 1 a.m.

Tonight, trying to organize school supplies for one, running around doing last minute shoe shopping for the other, it's just another night in the daily grind. One where bed and duty duke it out, and I'm pulled in 27 different directions all at once, not a single one of them with my own name on it.

The days of silence and reflection after 9 p.m. vanished a few years ago and took my relative sanity with it. If I knew then what I know now, I mightn't have been able to accept doing any of it.

But that's the point, I guess. Because every so often, I do get a glimpse of what the future holds. Like last winter, for instance. It was 57 balmy degrees at 4 a.m. Christmas morning after the ghost of furnace present had given up. Too cold to sleep.

Grabbing the electric blanket, I watched the sun come up to the sound of Bing Crosby's "Would you like to Swing on the Star." It was just me, our dog Marlon and the four felines for hours on end.

At one point, I looked around at the festive, glowing Christmas tree, the old movie flickering onscreen, myself in pyjamas and a room filled with just pets and eerie silence. And I did see the future. One that was empty, too quiet. One where I wasn't needed.

Despite the lack of sleep, extra money, spare time and the luxury of coming home to a clean house and open computer, I really never want to trade the chaos for quiet. Okay, nearly never. Yes. Nearly.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I write the ads that make the whole world sing

Yes, I do all the Netsurfing for you, so you won't feel compelled to -- well, in this case, toss yourself off the nearest building.

While still vaguely religious, I've never really bought into theories that 'the end is nigh' based on world events, despite sites like Rapture Ready (www.raptureready.com) saying otherwise.

Turns out they were right. By my precise calculations, we have only days, if not hours.

What convinced me? Barry Manilow is now selling his own jewelry line.

Yes, amidst the Manilow tees, Mandy bookends and other merch, BM has introduced his original jewelry.


What next, you ask? Well, if I were Barry 'the Merch Man's' ad agency, how 'bout these:

1. "Looks Like We Made It" Condoms . Multi-colored, with a good-natured ribbing, Man-i-doms offer the greatest variety in protection AND pleasure! Embossed with the full array of lyrics from Barry's 1974 hit "Something's Coming Up! these will be a surefire pick among discerning gentlemen.

2."Can't Smile Without You" Denture Cream. . Sure, technically you could smile without it. But that'd be just gross, having your teeth fall out while greeting fans and friends. For folks who want their whites as pearly as Barry's own!

3. Also for Barry's elderly fans comes -- "I Don't Want To Walk Without You" Limb Aids. a fantastic line of canes, wheelchairs and, of course, walkers. Some come with breakaway legs; that Barry, what a kidder! Wheels on the walkers are rhinestone encrusted, and each cane handle is engraved with Barry's uplifting visage, ready to cheer on your attempts at mobility, even the strictly upward variety:

Other products in development: I Made it Through the Rain umbrellas, Sometimes When we Touch Hand Lotion (with aloe!) Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed Waterproof Mattress Pads, Ready to Take a Chance Again Prenuptial Forms, Copacabana Cocktail Glass and Napkin Set, and Daybreak Sleep Tabs.

See, Barry? You've only just begun -- to jump the shark. Better hurry, though. The end really is nigh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

All I want for Christmas

Yes, it's August. Your point? I'm thinking ahead. Or would that be...a Hed?

Secret Santa, if you ever grace my world again with your presents...please give me this, a "Hed Head":

You can get it on Ebay. They're quite rare.

It'll go well with these lyrics, already on my head:

Last time I saw you
We had just split in two.
You were looking at me.
I was looking at you.

You had a way so familiar,
But I could not recognize,
Cause you had blood on your face;
I had blood in my eyes.

But I could swear by your expression
That the pain down in your soul
Was the same as the one down in mine.

That's the pain,
Cuts a straight line
Down through the heart;
We call it love.

--Origin of Love

Monday, August 15, 2005

Commitmentphobes: We're born, not made

After careful consideration, and series-long study of ABC's "Hooking Up", she says "I'm a commitmentphobe." Her voice is framed by a tinge of horror.

"Of course you are."

We've known each other for thirty years; I've known this about her for, oh, maybe twenty of them.

"But why? I understand why you're one..."

She trails off, hesitating before carefully selecting the processional route...."with what happened to you...how you grew up."

That's our shorthand. All friends have it.

In this case, 18 years of a Dickensian history described in four small words: how. you. grew. up. A lifetime, encapsulated by four, seemingly innocuous words - meaningful only in context. Code. And, apparently from an outside view, the root cause.

"It's not that," I reply. "Commitmentphobes are born, not made."

Despite a mostly normal childhood, she married someone who had the conversant abilities of an indoor ficus. A man whose intellectual capacity was limited to drunken discourse on the merits of fantasy football leagues and impassioned soliloquies on video games, punctuated by a burp.

And from that field, what gold had she expected to mine?

Not that I should talk. Really. For my lifelong (or, in reality, decade-long) mate I chose someone whose childhood was so odious it made mine more Austen than Poe.

He had a wealth of emotion, though. Running the gamut from anger to rage, he expressed the depth of his feelings by what he broke. Mildly angry meant small knick-knacks. Enraged? A wall. Funny, no matter how angry he got, he never broke the various bottles that carried his own memory elixirs.

Looking back, it was a sure sign of eventual built-in obsolescence. When the highlight of your respective childhood memories is the fact they both took place against the backdrop of the Vietnam war, you just can't expect much.

Of course she's a commitmentphobe - prior commitments notwithstanding. So am I. Only not for the reasons she's suggested, and not that reasons matter. They don't.

But, like children traipsing through puddles after a downpour, searching for whatever's washed up, we splash through personal history, looking for some catalyst. The flopping fish of personality bedrock, evicted from it's natural environment, it's a mystical, mythical past relationship on which we'll play "Pin the Phobia on the Donkey."

"So, why am I like that?" she asks, more to herself than me.

"Well, here's my theory. . ." I begin.

If you ask me, commitmentphobia is about fear of mortality. Nothing more. Nothing less. For whatever reason, it's marriage - not children - that carries with it the stigma and scent of eventual death. Choose your life's mate and all other choices are insignificant. Now it's just a matter of time.

The common thread for all commitmentphobes is the fear of being trapped. No exit route. Marriage, or even selecting and maintaining one permanent, intimate relationship, is messy business for anyone.

For the phobic, even the idea of giving up free time is threatening. Not being able to get out of the situation induces panic. In life, the only time we're ever really trapped is death. See, it's a very short leap to understanding exactly what's driving the big bus o' fear.

A majority of us even choose the same scenario for both events: dressed in our nicest clothes, in a church, surrounded by those who love us.

"But what about the people who are like serial daters? They have relationship after relationship?" she asks.

"Oh. They're commitmentphobes, too. They just find it easy to commit because deep down inside, they already know they'll eventually move on. It's less mentally constricting. Less pressure. Looks like commitment, but it isn't. So they can do it.."

The only question neither of us asks is how to change it. Too bad. I think I've discovered the answer to that, too.

Long stretches of solitude and isolation provide serious perspective on the issue. When not being able to find your glasses one night, you start tossing accusations of theft at your cats' tiny feline faces, it's the other type of commitment you begin to fear.

After a handfull of years spent being cared about only by pets and bill collectors, a permanent, "til death do us part" relationship would hardly induce the slightest panic in even the most commitmentphobic of humans.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

And here's where things start to get confusing...

Is this not the most stunning thing you've ever seen? Okay, well, probably not. As the cliche goes, "Beauty...eye...beholder..." You know the drill.

But a curious thing happened while watching "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Easy enough to recognize that John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig makes for a damned attractive male, but what to think when you realize you also find him incredibly sexy - as a female? Is that possible for a hetero female pushing 40?

Yes. The answer is...yes. Granted, seeing JCM looking as he does above for an entire movie would be more than fine. Whatever 'it' is, he's got the commodity. In spades. But there's more to it than just good bone structure (no pun intended!), smokey eyeliner and bedhead hair.

From the first scenes....“and then she came up to me and gave me a hug. She gave me a fucking hug!” there's something so vulnerable and utterly yearning in Hedwig; you understand the overwhelming urge to hug her.

In a world filled with cardboard cut-outs, everyone trying to be exceedingly "normal" (whatever that is), it's rare to find a unique, unabashed, genuine eccentric not afraid to put themselves fully out there, warts and all.

Though she hides behind the Stevie, Tina and Farrah hair, Hedwig's humanity is more on display than she realizes. She only needs to recognize that's her true beauty, neither enhanced nor diminished by whatever form she chooses to take.

Because of this, John Cameron Mitchell's artistry in bringing Hedwig to life is truly genius. His vivid creation forces us to love her as either gender, or none - not in spite of her flaws, but because of them.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Must be the 20 yr reunion blues....

Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis Version)

Forgive me,
For I did not know
'Cause I was just a boy
And you were so much more

Than any god could ever plan,
More than a woman or a man
And now I understand how much I took from you:

That, when everything starts breaking down,
You take the pieces off the ground
And show this wicked town
something beautiful and new

You think that luck
Has left you there
But maybe there's nothing
up in the sky but air

And there's no mystical design,
No cosmic lover preassigned
There's nothing you can find
that can not be found

'Cause with all the changes
you've been through
It seems the stranger's always you
Alone again in some new
Wicked little town

So when you've got no other choice
You know you can follow my voice
Through the dark turns and noise
Of this wicked little town
Oh it's a wicked, little town

Goodbye, wicked little town.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Quote of the day

So, I'm a sellout. Sue me. Just doesn't seem to be enough time to adequately keep up with this blog, so here comes the rollout of cheesy, quippy hooks.

Designed to up site visits, placate my writer's soul for the paltry amount of actual writing I've been doing as of Summer 2005 here in what feels to be Dante's Inferno, and bore readers to tears, it's a can't miss.

Or not.

But here's the quote anyway, because I'm thoroughly captivated by the material from whence it came, and have to run off to work. No rest for the wicked, or those of us who have too many pets, kids, parents and other things to care for:

"It is clear that I must find my other half. But is it a he or a she? What does this person look like? Identical to me? Or somehow complimentary? Does my other half have what I don't? Did he get the looks? The luck? The love? Were we really separated forcibly or did he just run off with the good stuff? Or did I?"

Words to ponder, ladies and gentlemen. Words to ponder. Which is why we still do, everyone from Plato in his Symposium to the glorious Hedwig to me. Even though the answer was right there, from the first.

It's a car wash, Ladies and Gentlemen! --Hedwig

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