Friday, September 15, 2006
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Now, I love a good thunderstorm. I love the oppressive feel of the humidity in the air, the tingle in your skin, the pure lizard brain thrill that comes from watching black clouds roil and undulate, from listening to the sky rumble, thunder grinding like huge boulders in the surf. The crack of lightning splitting the air. And then the roar of the rain coming down, a thousand snares drumming on every surface. Damn but I miss the rain.
But a brush fire is a different beast altogether. Even when she's far out of sight, she makes her presence known. She bleeds into the air, smoke blowing for miles across the valley, outlining every air current, dusting the entire landscape with a coating of fine ash. Skies that should be clear and bright and blue are stained, tinged muddy red brown and gray. The early morning sunlight thinks that its twilight, casting an eerie golden glow on everything. The moon is literally dipped in blood, a baleful reptillan eye hanging low on the horizon. The sunsets are spectacular. Maxfield Parrish meets H.R. Giger. Ominous.
Every morning this week has found my car powdered with specks of ash. As I drive off, they leave perfect parallel streaks on my windshield. I pretend I'm driving some kind of interplanetary fighter craft, and the dust is the result of having fought a dogfight in the tail of a comet. The color of the sky is all wrong, so I pretend I'm on a different planet, and if I wait long enough, the second moon will rise to join her sister. If my commute took me past the alien landscape of Stoney Point, only a few miles away, the illusion would be complete.
As much as I bitch about the Valley, there is beauty here. And I'll miss it when I go. I should really just take a weekend and document the hell out of this little corner of the world.
And I just read that Ann Richards died. Damn. Maybe she can put in a good word with the folks upstairs. Have them do something about the mess.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Sun sign, Scorpio:
Recently, less than five percent of the world's astronomers voted to demote Pluto from a planet to a "dwarf planet." Some Scorpios were alarmed, since Pluto is the heavenly body that traditionally rules your sign. My opinion? Don't worry. I agree with mythologist Roxanna Bikadoroff, who says there's poetic justice in calling Pluto a dwarf planet. In fairy tales, dwarves are often magicians who possess hidden storehouses of riches and act as agents of creative transformation. They typically live beneath bridges, which are symbols of transitional thresholds, and are masters of in-between states. They bestow blessings on anyone who is able to pass their demanding tests. This is an apt symbolic description of you at your most potent, which I expect you to be during the coming weeks.
Moon sign, Gemini:
This week I highly recommend that you NOT sit on a photocopier to create images of your buttocks. For reasons too complex to go into here, doing so would put you out of alignment with the cosmic flow. However, now is an excellent time for you to make other strong statements that involve your backside, at least metaphorically. For instance, you will attract fate's favors whenever you get your ass in gear to get to the bottom of things. Luck will also flow your way in direct proportion to how earnestly and rigorously you kick your own butt.
Rising Sign, Pisces:
"There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept," said photographer Ansel Adams. That advice should be uppermost in your mind as you follow your bliss to the next fork in the road. Although you've got good intuitions about the hopeful scenario that's fueling you, the fantasy still needs to be fleshed out a lot more. Unless you make it more specific and detailed, it will eventually fizzle. Here's your assignment: By the equinox, create a vivid image of a well-crafted, intricately imagined goal.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Friday, September 08, 2006
Picked up the phone to call:
Potential Future Landlord: Hello?WTF, the hair?! Of all the things cats can do to destroy a place, like not using the litterbox (mine don't have that problem) or clawing up the carpets (mine have scratching posts, but they do have their claws), he's worried about the HAIR!? Yeah, thanks no, Mister I Can't Even Be Bothered To Introduce Myself Over The Phone.
Me: Hi, this is (me) calling about your rental ad in the Ventura County Star?
Me: Um, who am I speaking with?
PFL: Oh, I'm Dan.
Me: Hi Dan. First off, is the property still available?
Me. Good. Secondly, it didn't say in the ad -- would you accept pets?
PFL: Uh, well, (hem haw hem haw) maybe a small (hem haw) outdoor dog? (Are you asking me or telling me, Mr. PFL?)
Me: I have two indoor cats.
PFL: Uh, well see, the problem is (hem haw hem haw) y'know, the Hair? (I swear, I could hear the capital.)
PFL: Yeah, the hair is a problem, but....
Me: So the answer is no?
PFL: Yeah, but...
Me: Okay, thanks! Bye! ::CLICK::
And before someone even asks if there could have been a negotiation on that point, do you really want to have a landlord that worries about whether you vacuum enough or not? Seriously. Our lifestyle, what with the leather scraps and the metal shavings and the wood shavings and the molten lead would cause him to have a perpetual facial tic. No thank you.
ETA: Allergies may have been a consideration, but still, just answer the question. It's a simple yes or no thing. Add to list of requirements: Professional Landlord (hopefully cool).
Saturday, September 02, 2006
OLBERMANN: The man who sees absolutes where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning is either a prophet or a quack. Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet. We end the COUNTDOWN where we began, our No. 1 story with a special comment on Mr. Rumsfeld‘s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday. It demands the deep analysis and the sober contemplation of every American, for it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence, indeed the loyalty of the majority of Americans who impose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land.
Worst still, it credits those same transient occupants, our employees, with a total omniscience, a total omniscience which neither common sense nor this administration‘s track record, at home or abroad, suggest they deserve it. Dissent and disagreement with government is the life‘s blood of human freedom and not merely because it the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of his troops still fight this very evening in Iraq. It is also essential, because just every once in a while, it is right and the power to which it speaks is wrong.
In a small irony however, Mr. Rumsfeld speech writer was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis for in their time, there was another government faced with true peril; with a growing evil, powerful, and remorseless. That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld‘s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It too had the secret information, it alone had the true picture of the threat. It too, dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld‘s, questioning their intellect and their morality.
That government was England‘s in the 1930's. It knew Hitler posed in true threat to Europe, let alone to England. It knew Germany was not re-arming in violation of all treaties and accords. It knew that the hard evidence it had received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions, its own omniscience, needed to be dismissed.
The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth. Most relevant of all, it knew that its staunchest critics need to be marginalized and isolated. In fact it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty warmonger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused. That critic's name was Winston Churchill.
Sadly, we have no Winston Churchill‘s in evidence among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfeld demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill. History and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty and his own confusion, a confusion that suggested that the office cannot only make the man, but that the office can make the facts.
Thus did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy excepting the fact he has the battery plugged in backwards. His government absolute and exclusive in his knowledge is not the version of one that stood up to the Nazis. It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.
But back to today‘s omniscient ones, that about what Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: this is a democracy, still, sometimes just barely and as such, all voices count, not just his. Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience, about Osama bin Laden‘s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein‘s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina‘s impact one year ago, we all might be able to swallow hard and accept their omniscience as a bearable, even useful recipe of fact plus ego.
But to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance and its own hubris. Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages to the entire fog of fear which continues to envelopes our nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and their cronies have inadvertently or intentionally profited and benefited, both personally and politically.
And yet he can stand up in public and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just the receipt for the emperor's new clothes.
In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child at whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?
The confusion, we as its citizens must now address, is stark and forbidding. But variations of it have faced our forefathers when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis Lemay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag.
Note, with hope in your heart, that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light and we can too. The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense and this administration are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek, the destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City so valiantly fought.
And about Mr. Rumsfeld‘s other main assertion of that this country faces a new type of fascism as he was correct to remind us that a government that knew everything could get everything wrong. So too was he right when he said that. Though probably not in the way he thought he meant. This country faces a new type of fascism, indeed.
Although I presumptuously use his sign off each night in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claims to the words of the exemplary journalist, Edward R. Murrow. But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other polarities thought they and they alone knew everything and branded those who disagreed confused or immoral.
Thus forgive me for reading Murrow in full.
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty” he said in 1954, “We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not disended from fearful men, not from men who fear to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. And so, goodnight and good luck.”