Friday, December 30, 2005

iForgive Me iFather, For i Have iSinned

Pope Benedict XVI, standing on the spot where he first appeared as the newly-elected pontiff last spring, warned in his first Christmas Day message against technological advances made in the absence of religious belief. "Today we can marshal vast material resources," he said, addressing thousands of people in a rainy St. Peter's Square. "But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart. "Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world."

Now...having said that...I come across the following article:

28 December 2005
By Vanessa Allen

VICARS are putting sermons on the internet so worshippers can play them on their iPods.

Religious leaders believe the hi-tech approach will help those such as the elderly and infirm who can't get to church but also reach out to the young.
Users subscribe to an internet service allowing them to download on to their iPod, a system known as podcasting.

Rev Shannon Ledbetter said: "For the elderly and housebound this is fantastic, all you need to do is fix them up with an iPod and they're good to go.

"For the young also, there is so much information there, which can help to answer their questions about their faith."

Rev Ledbetter, 43, of St Mary's church, Knowsley, Merseyside, added: "This will bring church numbers up, because people who tune in to the podcasts will want to experience the full spectrum of worship." Steve Evans, of Bridge Chapel Christian church in Liverpool, said: "Large numbers of new people are coming down and joining simply because of the downloads and podcasts.

"All our congregation has to do is subscribe to the service and every time they plug their mp3 player in, the updates will automatically be transferred."

God help us, every one. It's bad enough with this whole Attack of the iPod People thing we have going, but combine the fanatical devotion to iTech with...well, with fanaticism and what do you have?

The Bush Administration. But we knew that already.

BTW: LOVE the title of that article. iGod. Hah!

Time Oh Give Me Time

Attention passengers: the world is slowly coming to a halt. Please put your trays in the upright position and prepare to disembark.


On Saturday, at exactly 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, one second will be added to our official record of time — Coordinated Universal Time, kept by a series of atomic clocks, housed in environmentally sealed vaults in about 80 timekeeping laboratories around the world and certified by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris.

The reason for the extra second is simple: The earth is slowing down. Since the days of Sir Isaac Newton, scientists have understood the time it takes for the earth to make a full rotation is getting longer. The gradual deceleration is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. The same force that brings the tides is putting the brakes on the earth, albeit very slowly.

And because time is a function of planetary movement, our days are getting longer and, depending on how you look at it, time is slowing down.

So when you show up late for work on Monday, you now have a valid excuse. It isn't your fault, you're just trying to keep pace with the rest of the world.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Music to Go. Really To Go.

You think your iPod represents the ultimate in music portability? Feast your eyes, true believers, on this special little system:

This is the first luggage with a built-in music system that provides the clear, robust sound of a home stereo. The luggage contains two embedded 3" stereo speakers, an amplifier, and a 4" integral subwoofer for deep, powerful sound with almost no loss of packing space. A connection jack accommodates an iPod or any sound device with a headphone jack. The luggage also includes a jack that allows you to add your own microphone, transforming the suitcase into a public address system for presentations. Sound controls are protected by a cover, and the handle is sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum that extends or retracts at the touch of a button.

It's luggage.

With a built-in stereo speaker system.

Now...I need someone to explain this to me. Because I'm obviously very dense, and not quite understanding something.

What in the hell would I use this for?! Is it for those many, many moments when - frustrated at airport delays and forced to spend too much time and money at the terminal bar - I suddenly have the drunken urge to break out into a karaoke rendition Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly With Me"? I'll be the belle of the airport terminal! "Can I get a shout out from all the peeps from Omaha? Woot!"

Seriously people, someone sat down and thought to themselves "you know, I love my luggage but something is missing..." Speakers. In your luggage.

Don't they tell you to AVOID putting expensive electronics inside your check-in luggage, to prevent damage and/or theft? Does this still apply if your luggage IS the expensive electronic equipment?

I can imagine you trying to get this through customs at the airport. "No really, officer, it's a stereo system. " It's like you're Ben Kenobi, trying to get past the stormtroopers using the Force. "These are not the bombs you're looking for." Those gestapo at JFK International will tear this thing to shreds, offer you up a shrug in lieu of a mea culpa, then forget they ever saw you.

But the luggage handlers will love you for it. After all, now they have a place to plug their iPods into. Party on!

Papa, How Could You?

Yessiree, I had me a big ol' hankering for a slice o' pie. Pizza pie, that is.

If you haven't cottened to it yet, Papa John's has this neat online ordering feature where you just log in, all your info is already there (once you've used it once), and bam! you can place your pie order for delivery in 30 minutes.

Except...I had a coupon. $14.99 large 2 topping & an order of Papa's Wings. Mmmm, love me some Papa's Wings. So I try to order. Price? $22. Wait a minute now, Papa...I gots me a coupon, remember!

Except...there ain't no place to put a coupon! Or is there? "Promotional code"...sounds like ah found mah thrill (dum-da-dum-dumdumdum).

Enter Promotional Code: ?!?!?!?

Papa...there AIN'T no promotional code on your coupons, you lyin' sumbitch! I can either pay full price, or *gasp* PICK UP THE PHONE!! How could you do this to me?!

Not that it mattered. I only had 15 bucks in my wallet anyway. Damn.

Chinese, anyone?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Streets of New York

I firmly believe that the next great reality television show (and I say that, tongue in cheek) should be Homeless in New York. Forget Borneo, Oahu, Fiji...make those contestants spend a few weeks on the streets of New York City. In February. If for no other reason, I'd tune in just to watch them interact with the real homeless; THERE'S where the real entertainment is.

Case in point: today's episode of The Subway System. As I walk down the steps there's a man (and yes Virginia, he WAS a paler shade of grey) very nicely going out of his way to hand a dollar to a homeless man (who was, to further our stereotype, quite a bit darker than your average, um, well you get the point). I can appreciate the effort made by our erstwhile do-gooder, except that said homeless man was sitting smack dab on the middle of the staircase eating a hearty meal. And said good samaritan was on the opposite side, leaning over the divider to cut off people walking DOWN the stairs onto the platform. Jackass.

But I digress.As I stood there, with the D train sitting in the platform and the doors open, our Raggedy Andy suddenly started waxing poetic at some poor schlub on the train. Such poetry! "You oreo cookie cutter, fake black man!" "You ain't a real black man, you a house nigguh!" "Do you even know what it is to be black?"And on, and on.

Of course, in what I personally believe to be an act of cruelty, the train chose then to sit in the platform indefinitely while the mystery man inside the car endured this diatribe. I could only imagine the snickering taking place behind his back as they all stood, shoulder to shoulder packed inside the car. Really, what could the poor fool do? Insult the homeless guy? Defend his "blackness"? Beat the old man senseless for insulting him? It's a total no-win situation, made worse by being trapped on the train with no place to go.

Come on, tell me this wouldn't have made great tv!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dick Tracy, Eat Your Heart Out

This being my first official Droppings post, I should probably write something of great import. Or at least something humorous. Point out where this blog is supposed to go, and wax philosophical with you.

But then I saw this, and this was just waaayyyyy too cool for school.

It's a digital watch, cell phone with wireless earpiece, and a detachable digital camera. If this thing has a web browser, I swear I'll wet myself.

It's such a flashback to the 80s, isn't it? The days when Nerds (tm) roamed wild in the prehistoric internet, flashing their calculator watches like shields against the world.

It's clunky as all hell. It's kitschy. It screams "geek" with every silicon blip. I'd get bored with it within a month, tops.

And yeah, I want one. Like, major jonesy want one.

Oh shut up. You know you want one too.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Maybe It's For "Josie and the Hello Kitties"?

I found this new Fender Stratocaster lying around the web.

Stef - when you start up your girl band, this is a MUST HAVE. Cuz nuthin' says "Hot Chick" like a Hello Kitty Stratocaster!

And yes, Virginia, there is a Bass as well.

Seriously. I don't think even a Puffy AmiYumi knockoff band could make this guitar look cool.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How I Learned To Love The Bomb

Here's a cheery thought that popped into my head this afternoon, when considering the idea of whether or not hydrogen fuel cells will be a viable alternative to the combustible engine:

Wasn't the Hindenburg* filled with hydrogen?

* Fun Fact: The fire that destroyed the Hindenburg back in 1937 wasn't caused by hydrogen. NASA scientists (because they obviously had nothing else to spend those billions on) have found that the Hindenburg's outer shell was coated with a compound similar to what is now used in solid rocket fuel. Solid. Rocket. Fuel. When the ship docked, an electrical charge ignited the coating. Boom.

I mean, it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to realize that surrounding a highly combustible fuel in a shell made from a highly combustible material is pretty stupid. this case...maybe it did take a rocket scientist. Or one of those guys from Jackass: The Movie.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Vita Soy, It Good For You

Joking around with a friend the other day about a particular picture she recently took, I thought I'd poke a little fun at her and blazon the image with all kinds of japanese ad slogans and cartoon characters.

Well I got a little sidetracked from that plan when I stumbled across a site where two ugly Americans (are there any other kinds?) decided to taste, test and review various Asian soft drinks. Several seconds later I'm still looking for the intenstines I laughed onto the floor somewhere; needless to say, I had to share some of their reviews!

Disclaimer: None of the opinions expressed in the following are representative of the views held by Fried Monkey, Trickster Studios, or any of the poor fools chained to their desks under the guise of "working" there. Meaning me. But the opinions are funny as shit, so have fun reading them.

Basil Seed Drink with Honey
If the can on this drink hadn't expressly stated it was a "drink", I would never have believed it. It even shows the stuff in a bowl on the side of a can. I identified the flavor as banana. I thought maybe basil seeds taste like banana. But I just read the ingredients and the final line is "banana flavour added." At first I was amazed that the basil seeds seemed to float serenely and evenly throughout the drink rather than collecting at the bottom. It was only after I tried it that I realized they weren't floating in anything, they were stacked one upon the other. I can only imagine enjoying Basil Seed Drink is exactly like enjoying a jar of frog eggs.

Ah, "Made in Korea", as the can claims, but I wonder...which Korea? For would not North Korea develop a seemingly innocuous, citrusy, foamy, "tastes like kids aspirin" taste sensation in order to entice heretofore U.S. citizens into consuming an "allied" beverage - brewed from spooge? I just bet they're snickering all the way to Pyongyang at the Imperialist Americans. But granted, it didn't taste bad. Not "good", but not puke enticing. By the way, my notes read: "Foamy white." Sounds like manjack to me!

Grand Western Grass Jelly Drink

Drinks ought not to have flesh in them. Seems rather obvious, except to Taiwan. "Wrong" permeates this thing like stink on colon beef. I hate to repeat my cohort in the defense of the World Against Crazy Asian Drinks, but it tastes like flat, lukewarm cola with chunks of gelatin. Chunks-of-gelatin. As you swallow, the chunks invade your mouth, march upon the gullet and occupy your stomach where they celebrate until you upchuck. This drink is very nearly a declaration of war by Taiwan on the Land of the Free and the Home of Coca Cola, and I think we should respond. With big guns firing.

Pearl Milk Tea
I think this drink looks much worse than it tastes. Canned tea isn't my cup, but it certainly isn't on par with Grass Jelly Drink - yet. Chin Chin Brand obviously didn't expect people to look at the stuff. I mean, doesn't it look like someone ate a can of bad corn, then filled their mug with a juicy burst of diahrrea? I wonder if there are fine-dining establishments in Asia that serve this thing by the glass? You'd never know from looking at Pearl Milk Tea that it's just a too-sweet, non-refreshing, slightly disturbing drink filled with grody balls of dough.

Pocari Sweat
Pocari Sweat is easily the most well known Asian drink we've had the displeasure to taste. Hundreds of letters have poured in: "Dude, them's some sick drinks - but have you tried Pocari?" Well we have, and here we go: Are you an athlete who enjoys the taste of semen? We've found the sports drink for you! Japan's version of Gatorade, Pocari Sweat is thick, salty, sweet - and looks like a sumo wrestler wrung out his diaper moisture into a glass after a day of slapping his belly against other dudes. Worse it smells like thos chemicals you're not supposed to sniff, like ammonia.

Shirakiku Soft Drink
I'm not an expert translator, but I have heard Japanese, been to Tokyo and watched Pokemon - so I think I'm qualified to say "Shira Kiku" means "Butt Chrysanthemum" in Japanese. I'm not trying to imagine how these ass flowers are harvested for pre-drink production, even as I admit it was the best tasting drink of this batch. The package shows kids playing soccer and it did seem like the sort of treat given out mid-game with orange slices. "Watashi! sukoro goro! Moru ass furower, purise!"

Yeo's Soya Bean Drink
Beans. Screams "thirst quenching", doesn't it? It stank like day-old barf, baking in the sun. Had it been the 10th drink of the day instead of the first, I would have puked just from the smell. My body already quivering in anticipation of a good retch, I forced myself to choke down a sip and immediately triggered the gag reflex. "Oh Jesus no!" I scremed before all went dark, dark, dark. I awoke some hours later on the floor. The others were standing over me, pointing, laughing, and zipping up.

(this one was so good, I had to post a second review!)

I've never considered distilling my grandfather's underwear into its pure essence and packaging it in a can for ingestion - but apparently some Malaysian named Yeo did. Popping the top on this thing was like sweeping the dust from the top of a bookshelf into your sinus cavity. It tasted like liquid cardboard.

Cheon Yeon Cider
This so-called "cider" (yeah, right) did have a nice, seemingly innocent can. The drink itself looked like mineral water, harmless enough, or so it seemed. But for christ's sake, it went down like rubbing alcohol! And what the fuck is "carbonic acid gas"? It can't be good. Jesus this shit hurt me. I thought my burning nose was going to fall off into my glass. After I finally stopped wincing in pain, I detected the faint taste of chewing gum, which was somewhat nice.

Chaokoh Young Coconut Juice with Jelly
I'll need a psychotherapist to wipe the memory of my big swallow of Young Coconut Juice with Jelly, gagging on the taste and the bombardment of endless jelly bits against my teeth and tongue. Being hetero, I can't be certain - but I'm pretty sure this drink was like gay sex. I believe the name of the drink is just an error in translation - it's probably really called Young Coco's Nut Juice with Semen.

Chrysanthemum Drink
An open letter to Tommy Thompson, US Health and Human Services Secretary: In the interest of saving civilization, please determine if "Permitted Yellow 5" is permitted and, if the next listed ingredient, "Yellow 6", is even a color. We, leading experts in Asian bioweapons/drinks, suspect it is the urine of Vietnamese political prisoners and prostitutes who must drink the piss of their wardens and pimps, then piss the piss, whereupon the repissed piss is then canned and sold as a drink (read: bioweapon) to the West.

Shirakuku Ramune Drink
Ramune Drink, with the coolest looking bottle EVER, had more warning labels plastered on it than an episode of Jackass. Don't swallow small parts! Don't damage your eye! Don't remove the marble - yes, MARBLE - that floats around in the bottle. It took so much effort to open, and the directions were so fucking complicated, that we needed refreshment by the time we were finally able to get the thing open. Unfortunately it tasted like someone had added powdered sugar to carbonated water.

Non-Carbonated Soft Drink
The heart of a hero beats within me, for I have met - and consumed - evil itself, and though I now lay in my deathbed, anguished and fevered, I survive long enough to save humanity from it's false promises. Non-Carbonated Soft Drink is indeed without carbonation, but then, great lies begin with little truths. It's not soft, it's grainy and fiberous. Its not a drink, but is as thick as shit (taste tests conclude that ass-mass may be its one and only ingredient).

Sunday, October 30, 2005


October 30, 2005 - Sunday

It's that time of year again; you know what I mean. It's the annual Yule Race, as the retail megastores rush to be the first to get their Christmas goodies onto the consumer shelves.

In other words, it's Halloween.

A near-to-a-sister friend of mine was telling me, as she does every year, the latest kids costumes that have been banned in her part of the country. You know, the red part? :) And yes, I did indeed mean "banned". Harry Potter costumes are on that list, because witches are evil spawns of the devil and shouldn't be idolized.

I'm frightened for the state of my country and our children, I really am, if this is the degree of intolerance and fear being taught by our communities.

I really don't understand why people are so afraid of Halloween. And forget the church pundits and bible thumpers, those I'm used to; it's the everyday person I'm talking about.

I went to a Halloween party this saturday where costumes were required. Said so, right there on the invite. Yep. So why is it people were showing up wearing their jeans and t-shirts? You ask where their costume is and they shrink several inches into their turtle shells, blushing and giggling with shame. I'm not sure if their embarassed at the thought of being out in public in a costume, or at the thought of being in a place full of people in costumes - and not wearing one themselves. Why does wearing a costume bother people so much?

All year, people wear invisible masks. They smile in the face of adversity, they pretend they like their jobs, their in-laws, their neighbors...their spouses. "That dress looks GREAT on you" they say, then turn around and poke fun at the same person behind their back.

Or let's talk about costumes; the former goth/rocker who traded in their leather and black denim for a Calvin Klein suit, or the chief of staff at a hospital who goes home, takes off his scrubs and pulls out the high-heel pumps and stockings he keeps hidden in the back of the closet. Pun intended.

For one day out of a year, you're allowed to be MORE than who you are. You can be who you wish you were. You can fantasize, and share that fantasy with the world - no penalties, amnesty for all.

I ended up in more conversations walking the street and taking the subway in my Zorro costume in that one day, than I normally would in a month wearing my "civvies". And it's the same thing every year; it's as if you wearing a costume makes you more approachable, friendlier, to others. You're no longer some fellow schlub, you're...

You're a celebrity.

I had to share this little tidbit, somewhat off tangent. My neighborhood likes to decorate for the holiday, which gives me a nice feel-good sensation walking around here. One of the buildings put up a lighted, air-filled pumpkin display outside in the courtyard. As I walked by a large white ghost rose up from inside the pumpkin, with "Boo" written across its chest.

Why is it, then, that the only thing that came to my mind was this: "Holy crap, it looks like the pumpkin just got a woody!"

Happy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


October 26, 2005 - Wednesday

I had this whole scathing, venomous retort I wanted to spew out, thinking about the 2,000 deaths of our soldiers over in Iraq. The number is staggering, considering what we went there to do, and there's no end in sight.

I am angry over it. I despise the man I'm forced to call my President, and I think this was the biggest fuck-up in decades by an American President. This was poorly planned, poorly executed and there is absolutely no exit strategy for the complicated mess we've caused. The war was in Afghanistan, not Iraq; all the excuses and justifications in the world won't change that simple fact. You fucked up, George, and I wish you were man enough to admit it.


Crying over spilled milk isn't achieving anything. I'm forced to acknowledge that we created this mess, so it's our job to finish it - even if there is no finish on the horizon. I'm not condoning the "war", I'm not justifying us being there in any way; given the choice I would send our men and women home, where they belong - tomorrow, if I could.

Except...we stuck our noses in the shit and now we've got a mess to clean up. The Iraqi people, however oppressed they might have been under Saddam, would be up shit's creek with two broken paddles if we bailed out now. Civil war would tear that places to shreds; Saddam may have been a dictator, but he at least offered stability. We've upset that balance, and until we restore it we're stuck there, literally.

I'm saddened that more American soliders are going to die in the upcoming years, the victims - in many cases - of people who feel they're defending their homeland from an invading force. I can't fault the Iraqi's as a people for it, because in the same situation I might be doing the same. If the roles were reversed, if China decided that our expansionist/nationalist ways were a threat to Communism everywhere and, in some future reality, send in forces to "forcibly remove" George W. (gods willing) and keep a policing military force in our country to show us the better way to govern ourselves...

...would we feel any differently than many militant Iraqi "insurgents"?

I'm not condoning what they're doing, either; terrorist actions make you a terrorist, period.

I'm just saying...I understand.

Find a way to bring our troops home, George. Do something right, for once.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

An Onion A Day

An Onion a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

There's a reason why I love reading The Onion. There has been a bit of a...mild controversy...over some news photos published on the web relating to the mess in New Orleans. The gist of it all is that the news seems to be depicting those in the Big Easy with a somewhat darker shade of skin as "looters", whereas those with a paler skin tone have been put in much nicer tones.

I actually emailed Yahoo, on whose site some of these photos appeared; their boilerplate response was their own absolution of responsiblity towards it, saying that they don't review the photos they receive and if I'd like to lodge a complaint I should do so with the news agency who provided the offending photos and captions.

Thanks, Yahoo.

Apparently the Onion picked up on this and pointed it out in their own cynical way:

White Foragers Report Threat Of Black Looters

NEW ORLEANS—Throughout the Gulf Coast, Caucasian suburbanites attempting to gather food and drink in the shattered wreckage of shopping districts have reported seeing African­Americans "looting snacks and beer from damaged businesses." "I was in the abandoned Wal-Mart gathering an air mattress so I could float out the potato chips, beef jerky, and Budweiser I'd managed to find," said white survivor Lars Wrightson, who had carefully selected foodstuffs whose salt and alcohol content provide protection against contamination. "Then I look up, and I see a whole family of [African-Americans] going straight for the booze. Hell, you could see they had already looted a fortune in diapers." Radio stations still in operation are advising store owners and white people in the affected areas to locate firearms in sporting-goods stores in order to protect themselves against marauding blacks looting gun shops.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ben, The Kiss Of Death

Kiss of Death

It's funny, the things you end up talking about at work when you're bored.

I've made a discovery that all of you would-be actresses out there need to be aware of. Ben Affleck has the kiss of death for female movie careers.

Okay, maybe not the kiss of death; more like the Peck of Extreme Pain. Every woman who's played opposite him in a lead movie role spirals downward from there. It generally takes them three movies to pick themselves back up again. Don't believe me?

Poor Joey Adams. She'd just come off a bit role in the movie "Michael" with John Travolta, and this after suriving the horrific "Bio-Dome" with Pauley Shore. Then she gets bit by Ben in a great role in the movie "Chasing Amy"

From there she does the unheard-of "A Cool Dry Place" with the then-unheard of Vince Vaughn, "Reaching Normal" with Ellen Degeneres, and "Emergency Room 2", which apparently never got filmed. She finally salvages her career in the movie "Big Daddy" with Adam Sandler, 2 years later.

Liv Tyler never quite learned her lesson. She hooked up with Benji in "Armageddon" and everyone fell in love with those lips. Then she did a string of movies that you'll struggle to remember such as "Cookie's Fortune", "Dr. T and the Women", and "One Night at McCool's". Then, like a gift from the heavens, came the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Career salvaged, right?

Wrong. Obviously a glutton for punishment, she bonded with Ben once more in the critically acclaimed movie "Jersey Girl". Know what she did then? Completed a movie called "Lonesome Jim" with (get this): Casey Affleck.

It's gonna take her a long, long time to ressurect herself from this deadly combo.

Okay admittedly Sandra Bullock was already on the downswing just before she got the BenBug. "Speed 2" and "Hope Floats" at least made her a little cash, but I wouldn't have bragged too hard about "Practical Magick". But then along came Ben and "Forces of Nature"; next thing you know she's doing "Gun Shy", which I hear was a big hit in Australia. "28 Days" was up next, which ironically enough is about how long it lasted in the theaters. 2000 brought her vindication, however, in "Miss Congeniality".

First let me say, I'm not even sure why "Reindeer Games" got made, let alone got Charlize Theron to star alongside Cursed Ben. The same logic, I'm sure, got her stuck doing "The Legend of Bagger Vance", "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (cuz post-'70s Woody Allen movies are SUCH draws), and "Trapped" with Kevin Bacon. "The Italian Job" is probably the only reason she was able to land the part in "Monster".

Don't go too far folks, I've got more!

You'd figure if anyone was immune to the Curse of the Ben, it might be Gwyneth Paltrow. Doing "Bounce" didn't exactly set the world on fire, but what did she do after her Ben-counter? "The Anniversary Party" (the What?) with Alan Cumming (aka Nightcrawler), "Shallow Hal" with Jack Black, "Possession", "View From the Top", "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow"...

To her credit, she did manage to slip "the Royal Tennenbaums" in the midst of all this - but that was an arthouse film. Call it her way of going back to church and doing penance. "Bless me Father, for I have Ben'ed..."

Why was Ben still getting lead roles in Hollywood? Will someone please answer me that? "Pearl Harbor" was supposed to be his big vehicle, and Kate Beckinsdale was going to ride his coattails into the big leagues.

Well "Serendipity" and "Laurel Canyon" didn't exactly set the world on fire, did they Kate? Thank god for the Dungeon & Dragons and the bloodsucker crowds, because otherwise "Underworld" would still have kept her "underground".

Word must have gotten around Hollywood, because for the next few years no one wanted to be afflicted with Affleckitis. His next few movies were all male-oriented action thrillers (if you're willing to stretch the imagination) with no female leads. That leaps us ahead to:

Comic book fans around filmdom are still sending death threats to his house for "Daredevil". Jennifer Garner was obviously new in Hollywood or she would never have gone near this junkpile.

The infection contined, unlike her movie career. "13 Going on 30" was a sad joke, and "Elektra" was, amazingly, an even worse movie than "Daredevil" was. Now she's reduced to a bit role in "Charlotte's Web". Sad, sad, sad.

"Gigli". Do I even have to say anything more? Jennifer Lopez, I mean, J-Lo, probably left his sorry ass for making her do this movie with him. I'm betting he's hiding from her every time she's in town because the poor girl did the unthinkable - a back-to-back-Benflick! A year later she gets a supporting role in "Jersey Girl", quietly snickering at the downward plunge she knew Liv Tyler was in for. You should'a stayed around the block, Jenny, cuz "Shall We Dance" and "Monster In Law" earned you nothing but a big ol' Bronx cheer!

The banner year of '03 - the Year of the Affleck - continued it's curse as Uma Thurman, on the heels of the fantastic "Kill Bill", found herself sideswiped in doing the ill-fated "Paycheck". Well I hope she got a big one for it, because she followed that piece of crap up with "Be Cool".

Know what she's filming right now? "the Bee Movie", a cartoon with Jerry Seinfeld. And we all know how well he's done after Seinfeld, don't we?

"Jersey Girl". Liv, Liv, Liv. I love the lips...but not too bright upstairs, are we?

So who's next on the Ben Hit List?

2005 brings us "Man About Town", co-starring the unknown Ling Bai, the mysterious assassin in "Sky Captain". I guess Gwyneth loved getting her butt kicked by Ling so much she passed along Ben's contact info. Her next movie? "Edmond", with William Macey. She's listed in the credits as "Girl". Which I guess is better than "Bystander #4".

Next year (yep, he's still making movies!) he plays George Reeves, the original Superman, in "Truth, Justice and the American Way". Co-star? Diane Lane, who's riding high coming off strong performances in "Unfaithful", "Under the Tuscan Sun", and "Must Love Dogs".

Wanna know what she has on her movie-plate for next year? "Killshot". With Justin Timberlake. And Mickey ("somebody hire me please") Rourke.

Please. Ladies. When it comes to Ben...just say no!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sex For Sale THAT grabbed your attention real quick, didn't it?

Here's the deal. Reading the Law Journal as I'm wont to do (usually while bored sitting in my boss' office waiting for her to get off the damn phone) I stumbled across this little tidbit in yesterday's news:
A Manhattan judge has enunciated the legal distinction between prostitution and paying someone to participate in sexual activity to make a pornographic film.

I'm sorry...what?! Here's the deal. A woman in Manhattan's upper east side was on trial for running - I'm sorry, allegedly running a prostitution ring. Multimillion dollar ring, I might add {waggling the finger at some of you}. Her defense came up with what i'd call an absolutely brilliant strategy: that "'no legal distinction' existed between a man who paid for sexual activity to be performed on him and a nonparticipating third party who paid for an actor to participate in sexual activity, because both involved the essential elements of prostitution: sexual activity in exchange for a fee".

Wow. And why hasn't this come up before?

Think about it. Why is prostitution illegal, but pornography a big business - and legal? Seriously folks, is there a difference? In each case, you're paying for sex. Show me the money, honey! The only real question might be who the recipient is, of that sex.

This was the judge's ruling:
Penal Law §230.00 defines a prostitute as one "who engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee." The word "fee," Goodman wrote, represents the key to distinguishing prostitution from paying someone to perform sexual activity in making pornography.

The "fair import" of the word "fee" is "payment in return for professional services rendered," Goodman wrote, quoting People v. Block, 337 NYS2d 153.

"Because the definition of prostitution is generally confined to a bilateral exchange between only two parties, escort services and 'Goliath' corporations are not similarly situated," he concluded.

The "court concludes [that] because the pornographic motion picture industry has flourished without prosecution since its infancy, that industry was not intended to be covered," Goodman wrote. "If it had meant to be covered, the legislature would have taken up the matter long ago."

Wowzers. So because the law didn't specifically cover pornography, and because the legislature hasn't done anything about it isn't illegal.

Now...I'm not even remotely suggesting that pornography should be illegal. Cuz I have enough problems with the RIAA, I sure as hell don't need the Feds busting down my door because of my porn library!

But...does this even make sense?

He goes on to rationalize his decision even further:

Prostitution, as traditionally defined, requires person A paying person B for sexual activity to be performed on A.

Pornography, on the other hand, involves person C paying B for sexual activity performed on A.
Now...if person C ponies up the cash for person B to have sex with person A, and watches it...that isn't prostitution, if person B is getting paid to have sex with A? Are you telling me that the only real distinction, according to this court, is that I can't be the beneficiary of the transaction?

Well hells bells, man. Can you see the buddy system kicking into full gear after that decision? "You spot me this week, I'll spot you next!" The term wingman takes on brand new life! If A pays B to have sex with C, and it isn't illegal - it's porn, because they're going to FILM Talk about having your cake and eat it too!

It'll be like going on one of those rides at Disneyland, where they take a picture of you screaming after a big drop. Your buddy pays, you get to ride, pick up your video on the way out. Have a nice day!

It isn't prostitution. It's pornography.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Painting Amerika Red

When does it end?

There's a new movement taking place to encourage "red blooded Americans" (as opposed to blue-blooded?) to show their patriotism. This has started circulating the web lately, generally titled Red Fridays:
Wear Red on Friday
You will soon see a lot of people wearing RED on Fridays. The Americans who support our troops, are the silent majority. We are not "organized" to reflect who we are, or to reflect what our opinions are. Many Americans, like yourself, would like to start a grass roots movement using the membership of the Special Operations Association, and Special Special Forces Associations, and all their friends, simply to recognize that Americans support our Troops.

We need to inform the local VFW'S and American Legion, our local press, local TV, and continue carrying the message to the national levels as we get this going. Our idea of showing our solidarity and support for our troops is starting Friday, and continuing on each and every Friday, until this is over, that every RED – BLOODED AMERICIAN who supports our young men and women, WEAR SOMETHING RED, each and every Friday,

Let's get the word out and lead by example; wear RED on Fridays.

I sent this out to everyone on my email list; hopefully, you will too.
Please forward this to everyone you know!!

Now...why do I have to wear RED to show my patriotism ? Shouldn't it be Red, White and Blue? If I wear just Blue, am I less of a patriot ? Why do I feel like this is a way of saying the so-called Red States are true Americans, and us Blue-Stater's are less so - unless we switch to Red?

Yeah, I could be reading way too much into it - but then again...if this were a true partisan plea, it would have been more of a Patriot Fridays rather than Red Fridays. wasn't that long ago that when you spoke about the were talking about Communists. Ironic, isn't it?

What're we gonna call the Chinese Government now that Red stands for patriotism?


Monday, July 18, 2005

Truth In Advertising

It was sad enough seeing boxers sell their backs to casino advertising. I remember reading about the guy who sold his forehead space on eBay and thinking "what a maroon!" Then we got the pregnant woman who sold her belly space for advertising, and I thought "where does it all end?"

You'd think municipal governments would be immune to such nonsense, right? But it wasn't that long ago that we started putting electronic ad banners on taxi lights and subway station entrances, and I know how much we all enjoy those "wrapped" buses. Don't forget that we recently sold our school systems to the Snapple Lady, and I swear last winter they rented Central Park for a few weeks to Home Depot.

I could be wrong on that last one.

But today I found myself walking down 55th street and noticed something odd on the sidewalk. It turned out to be a printed ad for a new special on CourtTV.

An ad. On the sidewalk itself.

I gotta hand it to Mayor Bloomy, that was a stroke of genius! Do you realize how much of an untapped potential that is?! I mean, people HAVE to walk the sidewalks, right? All of us natives know better than to look up at anyone; they might be a tourist and ask us directions or, worse, turn out to be a fellow native NYer and take offense! So we all walk around with our heads bowed, looking at what?

The sidewalks! You've got a captive audience right there!

Think of the possibilities now; can you imagine all the other untapped advertising resources this city offers?

Arbor DayThat's right baby, trees! NYC isn't exactly known for it's treeline, but we can change that in one double-edged sword stroke! Remember that idio...I mean, fantastic "cow" thing we had a couple of years ago, with all the struggling unknown artists painting cows (the unheralded mascot of the Big Apple, who knew?) and littering the city with them?

Well let's do some trees! Let's face it, we're paying way too much money to the Parks Department for upkeep on those bug-baiting, ozone-creating eyesores. Dump all those ordinary brown and green anorexic stalks into a wood chipper and let the artists go buck wild, creating trees from whatever their poor little unfunded hearts desire! Tree sculptures, metal trees, carved trees (wow wouldn't that be ironic?), lego trees, trees having sex...

Then slap ads all over those puppies! Hell, you want product placement? Stick a Trojan ad on a sculpture of a pair of metal trees having sex on top of a woodpile, and watch as the sparks fly - bringing in free advertising, and much dinero for the city! Whoo-hoo!

Kids are People Too
Let's face it folks; your kids are running the streets and you have no idea what they're doing, do you? Well let them generate some cash flow! They're already doing it for the fashion industry; I mean, i'm sure Sean John and Tommy Hilfiger already know their own names, what reason could they possibly have for plastering it all over their clothing lines?

Advertising, that's why! Why should you parents and the city be denied a piece of that pie? We're already putting school uniforms on the little rugrats, who says we can't slap a label or two (or twenty) on those jackets? NASCAR does it, why can't we? Hell, make them pay for their own education, I say!

The Sky's the Limit
Does anyone technically *own* the airspace over the city? Can you say, free advertising space? If Batman can do it, why can't Napster? Picture this: hundreds of giant spotlights lighting up the New York City skyline, plastering shadowy images of Corporate America across the clouded night sky! You'll have people BEGGING for a cloudy day, just to maximize our advertising revenue! People in airplanes passing by can't help but be dazzled by our shining display of capitalist largesse! Times Square will look like a hooker's street corner compared to our skyline!

Mayor Bloomberg. Mike. Buddy! I give these ideas to you free of charge. My only hope is that you continue turning this city into a mirror of your own corporate empire, finding new and innovative ways for the City to pad that financial war chest.

Now if you'll excuse me, I had an extra butt-cheek on a 2nd subway seat yesterday, and I've got a $200 fine to go pay off.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Equal Opportunity Insulter II

I was told that puerto ricans weren't fully represented in my last, so for the sake of being politically correct, here you go:

Q: Why are there no Puerto Rican’s on “Star Trek”?
A: They still don’t work in the future.

Q: Why is there so little Puerto Rican literature?
A: Because spray paint wasn't invented `till 1949.

Q: Why don't Puerto Ricans have checking accounts?
A: Because it's hard to sign checks with a spray can.

Q: What do you call a Puerto Rican with $10.
A: A thief.

Q: What do you call a Puerto Rican midget?
A: A speck.

Q: What's Puerto Rican foreplay?
A: "Is your husband back from work yet, Carol?"

Three Proofs that Jesus was Puerto Rican
a)His first name was Jesus
b)He was always in trouble with the law
c)His mother did not know who his father was

8) What do you get when you cross a Puerto Rican and a Chinaman?
A: A car thief who can't drive.

Three men, an American, a Russian, and a Puerto Rican, are standing on a bridge. The Russian removes a bottle of vodka from his coat, takes a sip, and then throws the bottle over the bridge.

The Puerto Rican asks, "Why did you do that? That was a perfectly good bottle of vodka!"

The Russian replies, "There's plenty of that where I come from."

The Puerto Rican doesn't want to be upstaged, so he removes a joint from his pocket, takes a long puff, and then throws the rest of it over the bridge.

The American exclaims, "Hey! What the hell did you do that for? That was a perfectly good joint!"

The Puerto Rican replies, "There's plenty of that where I come from."

Now, the American doesn't want to be upstaged, so he searches through his pockets but he can't find anything. He looks around for a moment, then grabs the Puerto Rican and throws him over the bridge.

The Russian exclaims, "What the hell did you do that for?"

The American replies, "There's plenty of that where I come from."

Equal Opportunity Insulter

WARNING: These will offend. Badly. Unless you've got a good sense of humor, in which case you'll be laughing as loud as I was. Since I haven't been dissin' the brothas lately:

Q: Why are aspirins white?
A: Because they work.

Q: What has six legs and goes: "Ho-de-do, ho-de-do, ho-de-do"?
A: Three blacks running for the elevator.

Q: What's the definition of the word "Confusion"?
A: Father's day in Harlem.

Q: Do you know why so many blacks were killed in Vietnam?
A: Because every time the seargeant said: "Get down!" they stood up and started dancing.

Q: What did God say when he saw the first black person?
A: Ooops, I burnt one!

Q: Why is Stevey Wonder Smiling all the time?
A: He doesn't know he's black.

Q: Blacks took over Toys R us.
A: The renamed it to We B toys.

Q: A black guy and a Mexican guy opened a restaurant.
A: It's called Nacho Mama.

Q: What do you get when you cross an Eskimo with a black person?
A: A Snowblower that Doesn't work!

Q: What do you call an Negro with a peg leg?
A: Shit on a stick.

Q: What does an apple and a Negro have in common?
A: They both look soooo pretty hanging from a tree.

Q: How do you starve a black man?
A: Put his food stamps in his work boots.

Q: Why don't blacks like Tylenol?
A: They have to pick cotton to get to them.

Q: What did the black women get for getting an abortion?
A: Fat cash from crime stoppers.

Q: What does a black person get for Christmas?
A: Your bike!!!

Q: How do you keep black people out of your back yard?
A: Hang one in the front!!

Q: What is the difference between a black and a bucket of shit?
A: The bucket.

Q: Why do you never hit a black on a bike?
A: Because it is probably your bike.

Q: Why are black people so tall?
A: Because their knee grows.

Q: Why do black people wear hats covering their face?
A: So the birds don't shit on their lips.

Q: What is white with a black asshole?
A: The A-Team

Q: How many black people does it take to pave a road?
A: Depends on how heavy the roller is.

Q: When is the only time u concentrate on a black man.
A: Behind the eyepiece of your rifle.

Q: What's the difference between batman and a blackman?
A: Batman can go to the store with out robin.

Q: What's the difference between shit and a black?
A: Eventually Shit turns white and stops stinking.

Q: Is it better to be born black or gay?
A: Black - because you don't have to tell your folks.

Q: How do they say "fuck you" in Los Angeles?
A: Trust me.

Q: What's the definition of black foreplay?
A: Don't scream or I'll kill you.

Q: How do you know Adam and Eve weren't black?
A: Ever try and take a rib from a black.

Q: Who won the race down the tunnel, the black or the Pole?
A: The Pole because the black had to stop to write "motherfucker" on the wall.

Q: What do you get when you cross a black and a groundhog?
A: 6 more weeks of basketball season.

Q: Why do blacks always have sex on their minds?
A: Because of the pubic hair on their heads.

Q: Did you hear about the new black French restaurant?
A: It's called Chez What.

Q: What did Lincoln say after his five day drunk?
A: I freed whom.

Q: What's long, black and smelly?
A: The unemployment line.

Q: Why don't blacks like blowjobs?
A: They don't like any jobs.

Q: What do you get when you cross a black prostitute with a Chinese woman?
A: A broad that sucks shirts.

Q: How do you make a black nervous?
A: Take him to an auction.

Q: What do you call a black prostitute with braces?
A: A black and Decker pecker wrecker.

Q: What do you call a black test tube baby?
A: Janitor in a drum.

Q: Why do blacks smell so bad?
A: So the blind can hate them too.

Q: How did they invent break dancing?
A: Trying to steal the hubcaps off a moving car.

Q: Why did God invent golf?
A: So white people could dress up like blacks.

Q: What do you call a black man in Thailand?
A: A tycoon.

Q: Why do blacks keep their fly's open?
A: In case they have to count to eleven.

Q: How do you stop a black baby from crying?
A: Wet his lips and stick him to the wall.

Q: Did you hear that the KKK bought the movie rights to Roots?
A: They're going to play it backwards so it has a happy ending.

Q: What do you call 4 blacks in a 57 chevy?
A: Blood vessel.

Q: Why do blacks wear white gloves?
A: So they don't bite their fingers eating tootsie rolls.

Q: Why did so many blacks get killed in the war?
A: When the Colonel yelled get down, they all got up and danced.

Q: What's the definition of worthless?
A: A 7'2" black man with a small prick, that can't play basketball.

Q: What do you call a black with a new bike?
A: A thief.

Q: What do you call a black with a new caddie?
A: A better thief.

Q: Why don't black kids jump on their beds?
A: Because they'll stick to the velcro on the ceiling.

Q: How do you get them down once they're stuck?
A: Tell Mexican kids they're pinatas.

Q: Did you hear about Klu Klux Kneivel?
A: He tried to jump over 8 blacks with a steam roller.

Q: How can you tell when a black as been on your computer?
A: It is not there.

Q: Why do black women wear high heels?
A: So their knuckles don't drag.

Q: Why are black guys eyes red after sex?
A: From the pepper spray.

Q: What do you call one white guy surrounded by 10,000 black guys?
A: Warden.

Q: What do you call one white guy surrounded by 10 black guys?
A: The quarterback.

Q: How do you get a black man out of a tree?
A: Cut the rope.

Q: What do you call a black person on birth-control?
A: Crime prevention.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The End of America

I saw this article by Mike Adams, and his opinion of our current political status here in America and it's relation to the holiday that just passed. I thought I'd share, given my previous blog.

Mike Adams, July 3rd 2005

July 4th and the end of America, land of the free

Happy July 4th. On this, the 229th birthday of our nation, we find the very foundation of our nation in grave danger as our (elected?) leaders continue to destroy many of the rights and freedoms our forefathers worked so hard to put in place. It is no coincidence that, this very week, our President has created a domestic spy service called the National Security Service. That's the NSS, not to be confused with the SS of Nazi Germany, which had much the same function in pre-war Germany.

Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Not to be outdone in the race to a police state, the Supreme Court lobotomized the 4th Amendment last week. There is no longer anything resembling "private property" in this country. There is only the illusion of ownership, as long as it is allowed by your government. At the stroke of a pen, any government (city, state, federal) can seize your land and your home, for any reason.

In other words, the State is now the true owner of all land and all property. The very term "owner" refers to the person or organization that controls the use of that land. If you don't control its use, you are not the owner. The State is. You just pay rent. And if you don't cooperate with government takeover of your land, they can always declare you a terrorist and seize your land under The Patriot Act.

Speaking of The Patriot Act, this misguided act allows the U.S. government to secretly tap your phone lines without a court order. It also allows the feds to rifle through library records in order to spot "terrorist readers" who apparently frequent these institutions of knowledge. Libraries are terrorist training camps, didn't you know?

Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Think the Bill of Rights still applies in this country? The 6th Amendment has been nullified by the practices taking place at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. government simply kidnaps anyone they want, ships them off to Gitmo, then leaves them there to rot,
without being charged, without a trial, and without legal representation. By calling them "enemy combatants," the Bush Administration seemingly avoids having to abide by the Geneva Convention as well, which requires certain standards of treatment
for prisoners of war.

Amendment XIV: ...nor shall any state deprive any person of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

As the Bush Administration runs rampant over the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, do you feel any safer from terrorists? Do you feel like this administration is protecting your life, liberty and property? Are you any freer or safer today than you were five years ago?

Of course not. We're all in far more danger, and we're all less free. Our Constitution and its Bill of Rights lie in shambles. The very fact that this is happening reckons back to the purpose of the Bill of Rights in the first place: to ensure that no government tramples on its people.

You see, our nation's forefathers understood that the greatest threat to freedom was not an enemy nation, but rather a nation's own government. The Bill of Rights was created for the sole purpose of limiting the power of government over the people. Our forefathers knew that all governments eventually get out of control and become oppressive regimes. So they purposefully created the Bill of Rights in an effort to guarantee that no government could deprive its citizens of free speech, freedom to bear arms, the right to own land, and other rights necessary for the prosperity of a free nation.

That our own government is systematically destroying the Bill of Rights is proof that our forefathers were correct.

I wonder: when will all the Bush-supporting people in this country realize they're driving us head-first into a police state? No administration in the history of this country has done more to take away our personal freedoms than this one. And yet half the country is rallying behind this President.

The people have no idea what they've done. They've sent this country spiraling down the dark path of a police state. They've looked the other way while our rights and freedoms were stolen. They've supported an unjustified attack on a foreign state that will only serve to breed more terrorists who understandably hate this country and its people. The Bush Administration has created a terrorist breeding ground that will haunt this nation for a hundred years or more.

So happy 4th of July. It's a national holiday that celebrates the founding of a great nation. But this 4th of July, that great nation no longer exists. Instead, we have a police state, operated under the illusion of freedom. The illusion of Democracy. The illusion that your vote counts. The illusion that by giving up your freedoms, you'll gain security.

This July 4th, I'm not watching any fireworks displays. Why? Because I know what they stand for, and I can't stand to witness such blatant hypocrisy in the night sky. Don't people realize they're watching a fireworks display that symbolizes all the very freedoms and rights that are right now being taken away from them?

To watch a fireworks display and smile is to live in utter ignorance of what is happening to our nation. It's an apt distraction, however. What better time to pull the rug of freedom out from under peoples' feet than to catch them staring blankly into the sky?

If you truly watch a July 4th fireworks display this year, friends, watch it and weep. Weep for the memory of a once-great nation that used to cherish the freedoms of its citizens. Weep for the damned souls of those leaders who have misled us.

Weep for our children who will never know a free America.

Weep for the lost dreams of our forefathers who tried an experiment called Democracy, where governments were run for the benefit of the people; where elected leaders represented the interests and needs of the common folk; where our rights and freedoms were guaranteed under rule of law.

This July 4th, that experiment has run its course, and it has failed. Goodbye, America, land of the free. Make way for Amerika, land of Homeland Security.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Pow Bang Zoom

Pow Bang Zoom!

Happy Birthday, America. I hope you all had a great Independence Day.

I was on the phone with a friend earlier and was asked what I thought at the time was a strange question. We were talking about the fireworks; he and his wife were going to watch it on television "for the ninth year in a row", and he asked me:

"So what's the big deal about the fireworks anyway? Why do people watch them?"


Obviously, he's not from around these here parts. Born in China, here in the US for...well, about 10 years. My instant response was to compare it to the fireworks on Chinese New Year, to which I got a non-commital "oh". But the question has been on the brain all night. What is the big deal with the fireworks?

Sure I can tell you why we do it; it's reminscent of the battle for our independence, the explosions of cannon fire and mortar fired back and forth by our founding fathers and the british troops. "And the rockets red glare...the bombs bursting in air...gave proof through the night that our flag was still there". Kudos to Mr. Francis Scott Key, and kudos to my elementary school teachers (go public school!) for this stuff sticking with me through the years.

But why do we go goo-goo over them, every single year? Or do we anymore?

I gotta tell you, folks; I do. Every year. I'm just not happy unless I'm watching some fireworks, some place, for the 4th of July. It seems wrong otherwise.

Maybe it's because I grew up in a typically American household, when it came to the holiday. Every year we'd pile up into my grandfather's station wagon and go...someplace. Bear Mountain, or Tallman Mountain. Or, in the really good years, Asbury Park, or Rye Playland. It'd be my grands, aunts, cousins, my mom, sisters...I swear we fit 20 people in that old-ass station wagon, with us kids piled up in the back facing the road and trying not to get too crammed up in a corner.

I remember this one year, we'd stayed here in the city. A bunch of us walked across the Concourse in the Bronx (where I lived at the time) to Fransiego Park (it probably isn't spelled that way, but who cares) right across from Cardinal Hayes High School. It was a cheap-ass park, favored by the crack-heads just a few blocks down on Jerome, but it had a softball field which for our neighborhood was an oasis.

So it's getting dark, and this year instead of shooting off the fireworks from the Stadium (there's only one that matters) they were going to do it from the park. They set up the fireworks in the outfield, and we were all lined up on the other side of the chain link fence blocking off the field, up on a little hill looking down on the diamond. Surprisingly it wasn't that crowded. Or maybe I was just too excited, and didn't care; hell I was, what, 12? 13?

They started firing off those displays, and we lay there on the grass looking up at the sky, watching the fireworks and doing our part with the ooohs, and ahhhs...then the embers started coming down.

I know they were safe, I know - and knew then - that they weren't actually coming down around us...but damned if it didn't look like they were! We were scared and excited and thrilled at the same time; all us kids just ran around, our hands over our ears while trying to "dodge" the falling embers. It was like magical rain pouring down from the sky, fire sprinkled over us but never actually touching us.

When it was over we just lay there, catching our breath, laughing at each other's cowardice and pretending we weren't scared ourselves.

It was a blast.

And maybe that's why I still still marvel at the fireworks, I look for them so I can smile, and go "ooh" and "ahh". Because it evokes so many good memories.

Hope you all had a few good ones of your own :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

McCapucucchio Anyone?

And you were afraid of too many Starbucks?

McDonald's (my favorite place!) announced, along with the opening of their flagship store in Illinois, the first of many McCafe's. Mc. Cafe.

According to a press release from McDonald's Chicago regional office, the McCafe -- which opened in downtown Chicago this past May -- serves "high-end cakes and pastries, gourmet coffee ... premium teas ... Viva Tiramisu [and] New York Style Cheesecake. ... Food and beverages will be served in fine china along with stainless steel flat ware. The warm decor consists of leather couches, chairs and bistro style tables with accents of mahogany, granite, lace curtains and French vintage posters."

Now...I like my coffee. And I fully admit to being a patron of coffee houses. I can tell you where to find any Starbucks within a 10-block radius of any point in midtown manhattan.


Do I WANT to sit under the golden arches with my laptop and a cup o'mcjoe? Do I want to listen to the soothing sounds of the latest disney pop group broadcast through tinny speakers while McKids romp and play on a multicolored virtual jungle gym beside me?

Do I want to order a McFrap? Will they ask me if I'd like an apple pie with my McMocha? Can I supersize an espresso? Maybe I'll try something off the dollar menu.

Who, exactly, is the target audience for a McCafe? I like plugging into an outlet at the Starbucks on Astor because I'm surrounded by fellow bohemians. There's a certain comraderie to it, you can feel the creative juices flowing in the air around you.

Can you picture the Upper West Side highschoolers you'd find yapping about their latest crush/obsession, and loudly so, in a McCafe? I bet there'll be a tie-in with Virgin, with those music vending machines all over the place too. You just KNOW there'll be some kid-friendly area where the rugrats can go and surf the AOL-web on brightly colored computers with oversized keyboards, sipping on a McFlurrydrink and noshing on a fat-free cookie...


I'm convinced McDonalds is the antichrist. I'm starting my own religion, and my version of hell will be in a McCafe.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Xmas In June

Time for a fun fact. Just because.

With the summer weather finally here in New York, of course my thoughts turn to the Xmas holiday season. Which is a lie, but it sounds good enough to make this oddball transition plausible, so I'm using it anyway. Nyeh :-p

Now, I'm one of the many blasphemous pagans who consistently use the term "Xmas" instead of "Christmas". I honestly mean no disrespect by it, it's just easier. And, admittedly, it makes me feel less like I'm celebrating the (alleged) birth of the Christian Savior and allows me to share in the spirit of the (ursurped) holiday. :)

But there have been times when, after being attacked by the occasionally zealot for "debasing" the name of Christ by reducing it to an "X", I've gone on the offensive for no other reason than to be nasty. Such as telling one particular would-be Crusader who nastily asked why I choose to use the X: "Because to me an X looks like a fallen cross, which is fairly indicative of the state of Christiandom today."

I'm cruel at times.

On to the point. As it happens, there really is no disrespect in anyone using the X as a replacement. I did a little digging once upon a midnight starry night, and lo and behold I found an enlightening discovery.

In various works of Christian art through the FIRST CENTURY BC, the Greek letters X and R - Chi Ro - were used as an abbreviation of Christ's name (Christ = Chi Ro = XR). In time the "X" (as in, Xristos) was used to connotate Christ's name.

So to all you thumpers out there who complain about the "bastardization of Christ's name"...Jesus X, get over yourselves.

Besides, looking at it like that..."Jesus X" sounds a helluva lot cooler, don'tcha think? :)

2005 Darwin Awards

Yes folks, it's that time again - time to hand out the coveted Darwin Awards. Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwins are given to those individuals - posthumously, of course - who, by their own actions, have successfully removed themselves from the gene pool and insured that future generations of humanity will not be subjected to their obviously flawed makeup.

2005 Darwin Award Winners:

* In Detroit, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

* A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who "totally zoned when he ran," accidentally jogged off a 100-foot-high cliff on his daily run.

* Buxton, NC: A man died on a beach when an 8-foot-deep hole he had dug into the sand caved in as he sat inside it. Beach-goers said Daniel Jones, 21, dug the hole for fun, or protection from the wind, and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom Thursday afternoon when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach, on the outer banks, used their hands and shovels, trying to claw their way to Jones, a resident of Woodbridge, VA, but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him while about 200 people looked on. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

* Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed in Lompoc, CA, as he fell face-first through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth (to keep his hands free) rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

* Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed in Selbyville, Del, as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.


* Paul Stiller, 47, was hospitalized in Andover township, NJ, and his wife Bonnie was also injured, when a quarter-stick of dynamite blew up in their car. While driving around at 2 AM, the bored couple lit the dynamite and tried to toss it out the window to see what would happen, but apparently failed to notice the window was closed.


* TACOMA, WA Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more heated and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman's cable lay nearby. One end of the cable was secured around Bingham's leg and the other end was tied to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy river water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. "All I can say" said Bingham, "is that God was watching out for me on that night. There's just no other explanation for it." Bingham's foot was never located.


Overzealous zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt (Paderborn, Germany) fed his constipated elephant Stefan 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally let it fly, and suffocated the keeper under 200 pounds of poop! Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded on him. "The sheer force of the elephant's unexpected defecation knocked Mr. Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as the elephant continued to evacuate his bowels on top of him" said flabbergasted Paderborn police detective Erik Dern. With no one there to help him, he lay under all that dung for at least an hour before a watchman came along, and during that time he suffocated. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that proves that "Shit happens!"

Friday, June 03, 2005

You Do The Math

I should stop picking on McDonalds, really. But they're such an easy target.

I'm in McDs tonight, waiting on line for my food (which, incidently, was taking a pretty damned long time for 10:30ish at night). But it's cool, the manager knew it was taking a while so he was being apologetic about it. No beef here (no pun intended).

So I'm bored, and start reading the menu. I note the dessert menu, and something seriously looks out of kilter. So they're offering ice cream at $1, and if you buy two it'll only cost you $2. Wow. Great bargain hunting there, thanks for the convenience Ronald. But that ain't it, something else is nagging at me.

When I figure it out, I start laughing. The manager is giving me the evil eye, so I call him over. "You prices are screwed up for your value price."

He scrunches up his face. "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" he asks. I'm paraphrasing, so shut up.

I point up at the menu. "Look. You're selling your shakes for $1.98 each, right?" He nods, eyeing me warily.

"Okay. And you're offering two shakes for $3.98, right?"

He nods, a little more cautiously now, scratching his head. "Yeah..."

I laugh. "But 1.98 x 2 is $3.96, not $3.98. People have to pay more to buy two shakes together, than if they just bought two shakes separately."

Now I really get the evil eye.

"I never noticed that" he says, walking away to get my food. I made a point of watching him carefully, I didn't want my sandwich coming from the *special* box under the counter.

I guarantee you I'll go back there in two weeks just to see if they changed the price. Bet'cha two cents it'll be same ;)

McDonald's. I'm lovin' it!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Movie Review: Ep. III, Revenge of the Sith

It should be retitled to "Piece of Shit". All George's are evil. Period. George Steinbrenner. George Bush - senior and junior. And above them all is the master sellout himself, George Lucas.

Okay sellout is harsh. He didn't sell out in this movie; he did that already in Ep. IV/Return of the Jedi, with those moronic Ewoks.

First I'll just say this: the movie didn't totally suck. Not compared to I and II, it didn't...but it was just flat. Dull. There was so much unsaid (and a lot of dialogue that I wish was unsaid), it really felt like he just threw everything possible into it. It felt rushed; I can easily see that sellout fuck (okay he's a sellout!) pushing the Extended Cut 6-DVD Ep. III set, which can be yours for the bargain price of $69.99.

Had this been 2 movies, I honestly think it would have been much better.

But...I mean...what the fuck, man?! Holy crap. I didn't expect much after Ep. I & II, so it was pretty damned hard to disappoint me, George! I remember cracking a gut as we walked out of the theater, some random woman in the crowd was complaining (as we all were) and said "Who wrote that dialogue, George's 10yr old son?!"

It's a sad statement to the quality of the film when, in what is supposed to be a touching scene, Senator Bail Organa says to Yoda: "I'll take the girl (referring to the baby Leia); my wife and I...we were considering adopting a baby girl..."

And the entire audience breaks out in guffaws at how wooden the delivery is.

Episode III is a visually pleasing movie; the backdrops of Coruscant are breathtakingingly detailed. All the panoramic shots are a wonder to behold. The digital effects are smooth as silk, you'd swear Yoda was a real little alien the way he walked, the level of detail they gave him.

But I'm assuming he broke the budget on special effects, because he obviously couldn't afford more than a room full of intoxicated monkeys to bang away on a keyboard and write a script. I don't think I've ever been so bored at a Star Wars movie. Ever. I actually fell asleep at one point in the middle of Anakin and Obi Wan's lightsaber battle, because nothing was happening! It bored the hell out of me!

Natalie Portman got, I'm sure, a nice fat paycheck for her cameo role in this movie. But Nat, here's an acting tip: if you're supposed to play a pregnant woman, could you at least TRY to act like you're carrying around about 20 extra pounds? I'm surprised she didn't grab a pistol and start doing barrel rolls on the ground.

Thank you for not giving Jar Jar any lines. At least you heard us loud and clear on that one.

I want to make fun of Hayden Christensen as an actor, but...there's kinda no point, is there? In fact, I'll give George credit; it took a monumental effort to find someone who, in the true Star Wars tradition, could put on a worse acting performance than Mark Hamill. Bravo, George.

Anakin. Baby. You're telling me it was okay when Palpatine appoints you to the Jedi Council and asked you to spy on the Jedi Council for him...but then when the Jedi turn around and ask you to report on Palpy's reactions, you get all indignant cuz it's immoral?!

And you don't think twice about cutting off Dooku's head when Palpatine tells you to...but when Windu is about to off the guy who's throwing lightning bolts from his hand and telling you "I'm the Sith Lord, I'm gonna kill you all, I'm ruling the galaxy" - then you get a conscience?!

Yoda is da man. But that fight between him and the Emperor was crap. Digital crap. I kept waiting for the Emperor to start coughing out "gollum! gollum! my precioussssss....."

Hayden's got the whole glare thing going, 'tho. I can picture him practicing that stare in the mirror for hours, saying "yeah I can do intense!"

George. Why the fuck did you introduce the Wookies, then do jack shit with them?!!? Wait, again - not true. There was one scene where a Wookie swings down on the droid army on vine and...I shit you not...does a tarzan yell.


For those of you who had the pleasure of watching the Cartoon Network's Clone Wars, you'll be happy to know that General Grievous has a strong role here. At least, he does until he comes up against the Mighty Obi-Wan.

Then he goes out like a punk bitch. Tragic.

The only good thing to come out of this movie was the extermination of the Jedi. While I do think that there could have been some interaction and dialogue while this happens (DIAGLOGUE, George! Look it up and try USING it sometime, you fucker!), you do get a feel for the betrayal. That was some fucked up shit.

Although George did have a Disney moment when it came time to do the "younglings". I hate chickenshit directors. If you're gonna go for genocide, COMMIT TO IT! Don't cop out with a fadeout, that was bullshit. At least let me see the little toddlers cringing in fear, I wanna shout out "Oh no!" not "What the fuck?"

If Anakin and Padme said "I love you" to each other one more time, I was going to shove a lightsaber into the projector and call it a night.

Speaking of lightsabers. Why the FUCK do you nerds bring a lightsaber to watch the movie?!?! Why!??! Are you gonna light it up and make zrrrrm zrrrm noises at every battle?!

We left the theater at Union Sq, it's 3am, and there are a gaggle of nerds in the park having a Mock Lightsaber Battle. They're hacking at each other with their plastic swords as a group of us - strangers for the most part, just walking to the subway entrance - when I just couldn't take it anymore. I must have been louder than I thought, when I told my friend "I swear I just want to walk over, snatch a lightsaber from one of them and beat the living shit out of all of them!"

The whole group started cracking up. Next thing you know we're heckling as we walk past: "Grow the fuck up!" "The movie's over you geeks, go home!"

Fun times.

While I reserve my right to continually make fun of these costumed morons - it's a movie, not a lifestyle - I will say this: if you're GONNA show up to a movie wearing "period garb" yourself a favor. Save up for the year, you knew when the movie was coming out! Don't show up wearing the tattered remains of your kid brother's halloween costume, and think you're cool for doing it!

I mean, sure I'll crack jokes on the guy with the padawan braid, the custom made jedi robes, and a remote controlled R2D2 following along behind. He's earned the right to be joked about.

But don't waste my time if you're wearing a cheap-ass plastic Darth Vader costume that cost you all of $10, the fake lightsaber that isn't even a lightsaber cuz you bought it at the 99 cent store and the box said "lazer sword", and wearing your beat up white Keds and blue jeans.

Cuz that's just sad. I swear I saw a homeless man give the kid a dollar, pat him on the shoulder and walk away crying. "For just 10 cents a day, you can help this poor Jedi find his way back to reality."

Go see the movie, so you can say you did. Then we can bitch about it together :)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Great Lie, & The Downing Street Memo

Saw a bumper sticker recently. "Sure Clinton lied, but nobody died for it. He got indicted, why not Bush?"

Out of respect for friends in the so-called Red States who happily voted for Herr Bush, I've kept quiet on the subject of Iraq, the non-existant WMDs, and the NeverEnding War. Talking about it was putting a strain on our relationship, so I made a promise to keep quiet about it and "stop griping". Toe the company line, and "support our troops".

Well fuck that.

Let's be clear right off the bat. I'm not against our troops. I'm not unpatriotic. I love my country, I love the ideals and principles that goddamned flag stands for. If I could personally bring every single soldier home from this idiotic war we're involved in I would, if it meant no more deaths to our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, cousins, friends, loved ones.

But I hate my government. I LOATHE my president. If I end up on a CIA watch list for this, I could care less. Fuck Bush. I was angry when he popped out of that fighter plane, that redneck grin spread across his face liked he'd just fucked his cousin in the hayloft, declaring the War is Over. I was angry at his shifting reasons why we were spending millions, and now billions, on a war to defeat terrorism[SHIFT]remove WMDs[SHIFT]remove a dictator. If a SCUD had blow up that fighter plane as it landed on the deck of the carrier, I'd have held a party in celebration. The world would be a much safer place if he were removed - and George, I'm talking about YOU, not Saddam. Saddam was a toothless old tiger with barely a growl left in his scarred old throat.

G.W. is the new dictator, wielding his power over the world like countless other despots - only, because he does it waiving our flag, 51% of the country nips at his heels like the obedient lapdogs they are. "Freedom!" they cry, even as the body count rises in Iraq.

Why this renewed fervor on my part? Because the war just became a lot more personal to me.

In November of 2003, my sister got married. She was 21, and married her first love. I fully admit, I wasn't too thrilled; she was too young, I barely knew the guy...but I trust her judgement. He was signing up for the Army, going to be sent off to Basic that January - so they eloped. He got based in Washington state, then got his orders.

He's been in Iraq since the spring of 2004.

Last night, she got The Call. He'd been hit by sniper fire in the back of the head while on a mission. All they knew was that he was in critical condition. "Was he wearing his helmet?"

Yes, he was. But they're not bulletproof.

I don't need to go into detail what my day was like yesterday, trying to calm down my sister long distance. She's 23 years old, and in the 18 months of her marriage she's seen her husband for a total of maybe 5 months. There was a strong possibility that this war was going to make her a widow.

At 23.

So, the kid gloves are off. I'm done being quiet about this. We're not defending America's shores, we're the fucking invading force! Guess what, Bush - America is now the Bad Guy! We're the ones the world hates, and you know what? I don't blame them!

We had no business over there, George. You fucking lied, you goddamned prick. Those aren't your kids over there, those are ours! You cry freedom, and democracy...but this is about your fucking ego, you son of a bitch. You're spending all of our money on a war you refuse to admit you fucked up on, our families are dying over there because you didn't bother to send them over with the right equipment. Familes are buying better equipment on the internet to send to our troops, because our own goddamned government can't find the funds!

Why don't you send Jenna and Barbara over there? I bet you'd suddenly find the best possible equipment for them, wouldn't you you self righteous bastard?

Yes I'm angry. I have every right to be angry. If my baby sister had to end up a widow at 23 because Bush had an itch he wanted to scratch, I swear to fucking god....!

Then I see an obscure article, footnoting a memo released by the London Times just a week ago. Funny how these things don't make it in the news here.

Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy to the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, wrote a revealing memo to David Manning, the UK's Ambassador to the US. It was dated July 23, 2002.

To put this memo in perspective, in February of 2003 Colin Powell made his infamous speech to the UN, denouncing Iraq for hiding weapon production facilities and essentially paving the way to the US invasion of Iraq. 9 months AFTER the Downing Street Memo.

The memo notes the sensitivity of the issues within, indicating that the text was for UK personnel only. Portions of it reads:

"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August. "

The intelligence and facts were being FIXED AROUND THE POLICY.

I dealt with Carter's stupidity. Reagan's disdain for the underclass. Bush Sr.'s deniability. Clinton's indiscretions. They all had their faults, and while I can say I liked some more than others I can also say I didn't hate any of them.

I hate George W. I despise him in a way I've never imagined I could hate a President. I'm ashamed to be an American - and more importantly, I find I've been AFRAID to be an American.

My brother in law's status is updated from critical to stable. The bullet hit lower than intially thought, and it looks like he'll pull through, barring any complications. He'll live, and my sister will have her husband home again. I'm happy for her, and for him.

But every day, hundreds upon hundreds of friends and family members read the news reports with fear in their hearts, wondering if their loved ones will make it home.

I don't support this war. I will NOT support this President. If I'm unamerican for saying it, then revoke my citizenship and ship me out. If being unamerican means turning a blind eye when you see something so blantantly wrong it screams out at you...then I don't want to be an american anymore.

I support our troops, wholeheartedly. They don't belong there, but while they're there - keep them safe. Bring them home, George. Do something right, for once in this godforsaken presidency.

I need a drink. Or a smoke. Or something.



To date, that's the number of U.S. Soldiers killed in Iraq.

One Thousand. Six Hundred. Fifteen.

Not injured. Not wounded. Not total "coalition forces". United States military forces. "Freedom" at any price, right George?

Need a more glaring reminder of this war of ours? We've lost 178 soldiers since the Iraqi elections. That's an average of 1.83 soldiers a day, killed in operations.

The following list of macabre headlines is just from today's news - and doesn't include all the workers, journalists, iraqi soldiers and coalition soldiers killed:

05/12/05 Reuters: Three U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq attacks
Three U.S. soldiers were killed in separate bomb attacks in Iraq on Thursday, the U.S. military said in statements.

A Task Force Baghdad Soldier died from wounds suffered when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in east Baghdad at approximately 1:00 p.m., May 12.

One Task Force Liberty Soldier was killed and another wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated next to their combat patrol near Samarra at about 2:45 p.m., May 12.

A Soldier assigned to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, II MEF (Forward), died May 12 when an IED detonated near the soldier's vehicle. The incident took place during combat operations about nine miles east of Musayib.

05/12/05 DoD Identifies Army Casualty
1st Sgt. Michael J. Bordelon, 37, of Morgan City, La., died May 10 at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, from injuries sustained April 23 in Mosul, Iraq, when a VBIED detonated near his Stryker military vehicle.

05/12/05 CBS: Three Treasure Valley Marines Seriously Wounded In Iraq
Staff Sgt. Chad Brumpton, Lance Cpls. Joseph Lowe and Mitch Ehlke were seriously injured when their M1-A1 Abrams tank, commanded by Staff Sgt. Brumpton, hit a huge land mine Sunday, according to Marine Corps spokesmen.

05/12/05 WPost: Explosion effectively finishes off squad
Every member of the unit -- one of three squads that make up the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment -- had been killed or wounded. All told, the 1st Platoon, which Hurley commands, had sustained 60 percent casualties.

05/12/05 WorldNow: Car bombs explode in Kirkuk
Two car bombs also went off today in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing at least two people. And two security officials were assassinated in Baghdad.

05/12/05 AP: Car bomb kills 17 in Baghdad
A car bomb exploded near a busy local market and cinema in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 65, police said.

Two Marines assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), were killed 11 May when their amphibious assault vehicle struck an explosive device in Al Qa’im during Operation Matador.

05/12/05 Reuters: Mine kills two U.S. Marines in Iraq
Two U.S. Marines were killed on Wednesday when their armoured vehicle drove over a mine in northwest Iraq during an offensive against insurgents ... The military said 14 Marines were wounded in the blast.

05/12/05 DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
Lance Cpl. Marcus Mahdee, 20, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., died May 9 as a result of wounds received from an enemy explosion while conducting combat operations in the vicinity of Al Karmah, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Bat., 8th Marines ...

We still winning this war, George?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Samaritan City

There are times, I admit, when I wonder why I'm still in this city. I love New York, I do; but sometimes the constant noise, the energy, the can overwhelm you. You look at the rat race that goes on here and you think...why am I doing this to myself? Is it worth it? Why do I put up with the grime, the chatter, the squeal of a subway car every single morning? Hell, why do I put up with the people? I could easily move to someplace quieter, where the pace is slower, the grass is greener, where the sun actually seems to shine against a blue sky. A place where there are actual stars in the night, and not the ones on the television or silver screen.

Then comes a night like tonight. I'd stepped off the bus on 23rd, ready to catch the 8th avenue subway line when there was this horrendous squeal of brakes from behind me. I turned just in time to hear the thump as a yellow cab slammed into this woman crossing the street.

I ran around the bus even as the cab driver jumped from his car, rushing to the woman he'd hit. She'd gotten tossed several feet away; she lost both her shoes in the impact. The cab driver tried helping her to her feet; she could barely walk. Other than that...intially anyway...she didn't seem too hurt. Nothing broken that we could see, and she claimed she was fine. "I live just a block away" she kept saying. "I don't have insurance, I'm okay, I just want to go home."

The cab driver was estatic. "Well, if you're okay..."

Oh hell no.

There were about 5 or 6 of us there at the time. We alternated between telling the cab driver he had to stick around and convincing the woman to stay where she was. We had 2 people calling ambulances; myself and another man forced the woman to sit down on the edge of the curb. "I'm fine, please, just let me go home" she insisted.

Nothing doing, lady. We absolutely refused to let her leave.

The cab driver, of course, got pissed. "It wasn't my fault, she's fine" Okay maybe she's fine, but no way was he leaving either. Fill out your accident report, but don't even think about leaving.

Then the blood started. She'd hit her head, because it started to trickle down her face and a nugget the size of a golf ball swelled up on her forehead. We got some ice from BBQ's, some napkins, and used my water bottle to dab away the blood and put pressure on her wound. One guy was using his cell phone to call her family.

To give credit to NYC's Bravest, a fire truck pulled up within about 2 minutes. There were about 2 cops who'd shown up but they were incredibly reluctant to touch the woman, letting the rest of us take care of her. Once the EMT's spilled out we all corralled the cops to give our stories. We stuck around until the woman was safely carried off, and made sure the police had enough witness accounts to satisfy them.

So, my point? This was a small incident, but I honestly believe New Yorkers will instantly bond together in a common goal without a second thought. It was like we were all trained in emergency procedures; there was no arguing, no debate - we just pitched in to do our part, and made sure everyone was okay. It was almost routine, the way we all handled it; strangers all, but in a sudden crisis we were of one mind.

In a small way it reminded me of the events surrounding the former World Trade Center, not so very long ago. If I'd never had reason to be proud of my city, the way everyone in these five boroughs - and beyond - pulled together to support one another was nothing short of phenomenal. It renewed my faith in the human equation, and I was damned proud of my neighbors.

Like tonight.

So why do I put up with the daily grind?

Because there's just no place like New York. And I honestly believe there are no people more willing to give of themselves, as a collective, working together to overcome adversity...than New Yorkers.