Friday, March 30, 2007

This is a short story from my Big Fat Stupid Head collection.

Tom Wills Is A Big Fat Stupid Head
When my parents spent about four new Buicks to send me to liberal arts college, they probably didn't expect me to end up editing web-based greeting cards for a living. And yet, here I am, editing primitive jokes for lonely people. The sum total of my creative energy this week has been to edit a series of alcoholism-themed punch lines for our New Year's Eve cards. You'd be surprised how many ways there are to make light of the liver.

OK, to be honest, I've spent about an hour editing liver jokes and most of the rest of the week working on a side project. My friend Tab and I have started creating animated video mashups and posting them on Last month, we made $380 on our Death Row Beatitudes mashup, featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Jesus Christ and Pope Benedict XVI.

Cartoon Jesus goes, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for they shall have their fill."

And Snoop goes, "Rollin down the street, smokin Indo, sippin on gin and juice."

Tab's animations are awesome. She is an artistic genius in the field of blasphemy. Being the editor, I googled "Indo." Turns out it's short for Indonesian marijuana.

This is how I earn my living.

Pope Benedict goes, "Blessed are the poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Then Snoop goes, "Laid back, with my mind on my money and my money on my mind."

It goes on like that. People send this stuff to each other on their cell phones. Next, we're planning to create a web-based Hollywood-gossip generator. It will have proper nouns like "Colin Farrell," "Sting" and "Brandy" and phrases like "split up" and "homophobic harangue" and "anti-Semitic diatribe." Visitors to our web site will be able to generate their own gossip columns, eliminating the need for half the journalists in America.

Greeting cards have come a long way since they consisted of the scatological jokes people paid good money for in drug stores. Now they are the same jokes, but they're online and they're free. Our R&D says they still have the same audience: 60 year old women. If anybody ever tells you little old ladies don't like fart humor, I've got about 800 Excel spreadsheets that beg to differ.

Despite the low pay and insane co-workers and ridiculous projects, this is a pretty sweet job. All I have to do is read greeting cards submitted by freelance writers and give them the thumbs up or thumbs down. Then I work with a team of designers to publish the e-greetings on the web. Tab – she's one of the designers - has really nailed the Pope and Snoop in our mashup. Right now, Pope Benedict is going, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God," and Snoop goes, "Gotta take a trip to the MIA and serve your ass with a motherfuckin AK."

I wonder what the demographic is like on this one. Those little old ladies never cease to amaze me.

Google says MIA is Miami. You probably know an AK is an assault rifle, but do you know what it stands for? "Automatic Kalashnikov." It's named for its inventor, Mikhail Kalashnikov, an overachieving Russian gun designer who also gave the world a vodka that is 41% alcohol. Kalashnikov was shot by a German in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War but we call World War II. Sometimes when you're shot in battle, you think up creative things while you're lying in your hospital bed. There are over 100 million AK assault rifles in the world, and counting.

I love everything about Tab, not counting her habit of playing National Public Radio all day long at work and her unnatural attraction to men who wear eye makeup. I just don't get the whole Johnny Depp/Trent Reznor thing, but whatever. Somebody really should say something to her about the NPR, though. I can't bring myself to point out that knowing too much about Faluja and ozone depletion and the gross domestic product is the number one cause of irritable bowel syndrome.

In my inbox there is a batch of e-greetings from one of our new freelancers, Richard. I click open the first card and see an animation of Justin Timberlake writhing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. He's wearing military fatigues and in the background is a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner. The card cuts to the interior of a Wal-Mart, where morbidly obese and comically bucktoothed customers are placing Spaghettios and Miracle Whip in their shopping carts. Then the e-card cuts back to a dejected Justin Timberlake, his shoulders slumped. The caption says, "Apparently bringing sexy back wasn't as easy as planned."

Not bad.

I optimistically open the second e-card and I am crestfallen to see that Richard has misspelled "its" in the first panel. Richard is a talented writer but now I have to reject the whole batch because of the misspelled "its." We live in a country where 35 million people can tell you who sang out of tune on American Idol last year but nobody can spell "its."

I have a plan to eradicate such spelling mistakes from the English language. When I'm named King of America, it will be illegal to misspell "its," under penalty of not being allowed to watch American Idol. People can choose to misspell "its" or they can choose to watch American Idol, but not both. Harsh, but fair.

"I-T-S" is the possessive form of "it." It's possessive, so it doesn't require an apostrophe, just like "his" or "hers." I-T-apostrophe S is the contraction for "it is." If you can't follow those rules, that's fine, but no American Idol for you.

I fire off an e-mail to Richard explaining the "its" rule by way of letting him know his cards have been rejected. I wait to see if he is one of those people who writes back with only the word "thanks" or if he wisely chooses to let the message go unanswered. I hate it when people send an email just to say "thanks."

Tab is streaming NPR again and I just overheard a very moving essay called This I Believe. I don't have any idea what it was about – something treacly and sentimental no doubt – because I was busy silently imagining the thrill NPR programmers will experience when they read my soon-to-be-composed This I Believe essay, which will become the benchmark by which all future This I Believe essays will be judged. In fact, whole belief systems will be rendered obsolete, as millions of NPR listeners fall into line behind those ideas outlined in my essay. It is only a matter of time until Hollywood calls to buy the movie rights to my This I Believe essay, which will then become a major motion picture starring Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek, with a cameo appearance by Halle Berry as Condoleezza Rice. On Oscar night, I will gleefully accept the screenplay award, during which I'll thank my mom, NPR, my wife Halle Berry, and the Dalai Lama, who later calls to congratulate me and to seek my wisdom at an upcoming teaching in Dharamsala.

Aglow, I've decided to scotch the whole video mashup project and all greeting-card work today. I've cleared the decks to work on my This I Believe essay.

OK, here goes…

I believe…

I believe…

What do I believe?

I'll tell you right now what I believe.

I believe children are the future….

After a silent chuckle, I quickly force myself to hum Little Feat's Dixie Chicken before the Whitney Houston can get stuck in my head.

I believe…

I believe eye makeup looks ridiculous on men, even if you're playing a pirate in a blockbuster movie. But that kind of observation probably isn't going to impress the Dalai Lama. Besides, I don't believe eye makeup looks shitty on men, I know it does. I think what NPR is going for here is the distinction between knowing and believing. So I must not become distracted by what can be empirically proven, such as the fact that celibacy is a formula for disaster or that the $2 extra everything costs at Whole Foods is a small price to pay for having a bagboy who can intelligently discuss The Iliad while slapping a rubber band around your waxed-paper box of buffalo tofu.

I believe…

My problem is I was never very good at science, so I'm forced to believe in so many things. Electricity. The distance to Jupiter. Internal combustion. Microwaves. Health Insurance. No matter how patiently someone tries to explain all these things to me, I always end up slack-jawed, like a NASCAR fan at the opera, trying to make sense of the nonsensical images coursing through my brain.

On Tab's speakers, a vaguely ethnic-sounding announcer is droning on about global climate change. Now I really believe in that. I've practically dedicated my life to it. Like, I put in those light bulbs Oprah likes, and my whole job is to bring poop jokes from paper to the web, saving countless trees. Oh, and I watched the Al Gore movie. So I've done my part.

But have I really done my part or do I just believe I've done my part? This NPR stuff is tricky.

On Tab's computer, a call-in show called Wank of the Nation (or something like that) is streaming proof that NPR listeners are no less judgmental than AM radio listeners. I can't bear the morbidly wet voice of a deeply religious man who's explaining that all babies are born bad until Jesus makes them good, so I take the opportunity to go to the bathroom. In there, Randy from biz/dev greets me with a slightly-too-hearty "whassup" as I take my place beside him at the urinal. Randy has a "Born to Lose" tat on his right wrist that was rumored to be instrumental in his landing his job here. He was voted by his high school class as Most Likely To Get Arrested in Cherokee Park. I avert my eyes in urinal tradition and silently give thanks that the artist spelled "lose" correctly.

Silent peeing with eyes averted always seems too loud. Unable to look, I always wonder: is he peeing with me or peeing at me? So I make idle conversation by asking Randy his opinion on the Wank of the Nation caller's bad-baby theory.

"I think it's just the opposite," he says. "Babies are born good but this world makes some of them turn bad."

"I don't know about bad or good," I say. "But I do believe by the time babies grow up, they're all insane. I mean just look around. Um, but not right now."

"You've got a point," Randy says.

And then I think to myself, "This I believe!"

I rush back to my desk to compose my This I Believe essay about the insane babies but Tab interrupts me with the first draft of the storyboard for our new mashup featuring Julia Butterfly Hill and ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson. Naturally, it is brilliant.

"Take your time," she says. "I'm taking a long weekend. Ross and I are going hiking.
Ross is her new boyfriend. He is completely wrong for her. I haven't met him yet but I have to assume there's mascara involved.

"It's supposed to rain," I say.

"Tom Wills says partly cloudy to mostly sunny," she says. "And he has the American Meteorological Society's seal of approval."

"Yeah, well Tom Wills is a big fat stupid head!" I say. "This, I believe!"

"Well, All Things Considered, I'm going anyway," she says.



And then we laugh. And she gives me a little hug. And just like that, she's gone.
Today's new word

Higgs boson
Pregnant Jazz singer calms cranky blogger
I just read Stephen George's outstanding column on Al Mohler in this week's LEO and chased that shit with a cranked-up Burn Down the Mission by Elton John

but calmed myself down with some Diana Krall before actually burning anything down.
From this week's LEO

The superintendent gap
What if one of the best jobs in the nation opened up and nobody wanted it because it was so oppressively thankless? While that description might sound like the men's basketball head coaching position at UK, it's also what the Jefferson County Board of Education seems to be facing in its search for a new superintendent. After browbeating its current guy into fleeing north for friendlier environs (still not talking about UK here), the board saw two of its three favorite candidates drop out of contention, citing those pesky, old "personal reasons."

That leaves the board with exactly one candidate for the job: Sheldon Berman. While he's got laudable experience in conflict resolution and social justice, he's also a white Yankee who leads a Massachusetts school district that has a total of 46 African American students. Sounds like the perfect candidate to lead the 98,000-student JCPS, where 37% of students are black, right?

Not to leaders of the Louisville NAACP and the Justice Resource Center, who are demanding that the board reopen the search, ideally finding a candidate who's not whiter than the bald spots on the Louisville Country Club's yachting subcommittee. During a blizzard.

So, why aren't great candidates lining up for the JCPS job? The gig is pretty sweet. JCPS is the nation's31st largest school district, with distinguished schools, teachers, administrators and students. It has a history of progressive problem solving, high parent satisfaction, and improving test scores. And the superintendent job pays more than 200K per year - not quite college-basketball benjamins (hey, we have our priorities), but not too shabby.

But then there's this: Like all urban districts, some of Jefferson County's schools are having trouble meeting NCLB benchmarks that most educators agree are unfunded mandates with unrealistic goals. And, well, the last superintendent got the boot after doing what most people believe was an outstanding job. Oh, and there's this: the US Supreme Court might overturn the district's wildly successful racial desegregation program that has served as a model for school districts nationwide. No matter what the court decides, some group of constituents is going to be pissed.

So, who's the perfect candidate? Somebody with outstanding diplomatic skills, a keen understanding of education and the politics of race, and somebody who reflects the racial makeup of Jefferson County's student body. And even though Barack Obama seems kinda busy right now, surely JCPS will expand the search. Right?
Shall not be denied
Nostalgia for the 70s is at a fever pitch: Iraq is Vietnam, Alberto Gonzales is Watergate, and now the House and Senate plan to reintroduce the Equal Rights Amendment.

Renamed the Women's Equality Amendment, here is what it says:

"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Impossible to argue with that, right? It will be interesting watching the Limbaugh/O'Reilly cranky white man's club twist those 24 words into their usual steaming pile of bigotry.

UPDATE: Watch Colbert take off his bra (thanks Mara!):

Sawdust as fuel?
Here's an intriguing little idea buried in Jim Adams' article in today's CJ about yesterday's energy conference in Louisville: "In the past 10 years, Kentucky has lost two furniture factories because of problems disposing of sawdust, which she [environmental engineer and activist Sara Lynn Cunningham] said has an energy value approaching that of coal. She asked why sawdust wasn't used as fuel. No one on the panel had a direct answer."

Sawdust has an energy value approaching that of coal? No way! Um, way. Turns out it also burns much cleaner, produces less ash, and burns in coal-burning equipment. Amazing. Colorado Springs is even using sawdust to help fuel an energy plant, where it keeps James Dobson's hateful, Satanic little arse warm.

I don't know Sara Lynn Cunningham, but I've long admired her environmental activism. Google her name and you'll pretty much end up with a list of how to live. But here's what convinced me she's a hero: I once read that she reuses sandwich baggies until they fall apart. My Mammaw would probably vote for her for president. And so would I.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Atheists for Jesus
A little light atheism for your iPod: My man Richard Dawkins brings his snarky British arse to Fresh Air to discuss evolutionary biology and that "great surveillance camera in the sky."

Spoiler: he admits religion isn't the root of all evil. Just "quite a lot" of it.
Today's new word

Fast food restaurants debate favorite ways to torture animals
The decision by Burger King to buy a tiny fraction of its pigs and chickens from humane suppliers before flame-broiling their flesh into crispy deliciousness has sparked a debate on how best to torture the remaining 98% to death.

While Burger King is fond of the gas chamber, KFC prefers to taser chickens to death, but won't rule out the electric chair, the guillotine, pistol-whipping, tar-and-feather, lethal injection, the hangman's noose, and, perhaps surprisingly, the archaic draw-and-quarter. A Burger King spokesman explained, "we could tie the chickens to the pigs and, when the pigs skedaddle, nugget city!"
Mitch: "Unequivocal victory"
Here's the Americans United for Change ad Joseph Gerth wrote about in today's C-J:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jesus Fish Grooming
Friend, is your Jesus Fish looking a little scruffy? Perhaps it's been on the bumper a bit too long. Or maybe the Darwin Fish chased it until it became so bedraggled it looked like the Gefilte Fish.

Maybe all that sanctimonious driving around and telling everyone how to think has left a patina of creepy Christ-tarnish all over your fish. Or perhaps your religious anti-science activities have so endangered the planet that your fish's chrome tail has deteriorated so badly that it resembles the Flying Spaghetti Monster's noodly appendages.

That's enough to put the "ick" in anybody's ichthys!

Why not bring your Jesus Fish on down to Abra Cadabra Jesus Fish and Pet Grooming in the heart of St. Matthews? We'll groom your Jesus Fish so thoroughly, you'll think it was reborn! That's Abra Cadabra Jesus Fish and Pet Grooming, 100 Bauer Avenue, Louisville.

Abra Cadabra! It's magic, just like Jesus!
Today's new word

Mildly retarded man joins Kentucky governor's race
Declaring, " I shot at an animal that was eating my pig's food 9 times and missed every time," Otis "Bull Man" Hensley has announced his candidacy for Kentucky governor. Despite the poor marksmanship – indeed, the inability to even identify the "animal" that was eating his pig's food – Hensley is running on a second-amendment platform. "If anyone tries to take my gun away from me, he had better bring a bigger gun, a preacher, and his mother because the dam is going to break," Hensley said. Noting the complex mix of metaphors, some experts believe the mentally challenged Bull Man has raised the overall IQ of the pool of governor's candidates by as many as 20 points.

Kentucky, which has a rich history of slightly deranged candidates, already has a crowded field of gubernatorial candidates in this year's campaign, including several repeat felons, a war-mongering fascist, a republican who accidentally declared as a democrat, and an 11-year-old boy.

Perhaps inspired by mildly retarded former Texas Governor and current US President George W. Bush, the Bull Man also declared his intention to run for president in 2017, after he's "run the bull out of Frankfort." But the presidency will have to wait. If he's elected governor, the Bull Man promised to hold a pig roast on the Capitol grounds, after which he'll mow a forest with his riding lawnmower.
Great day for a book banning
What a wonderful day! There's nothing like a book banning to put a spring in my step! It's one of my favorite manifestations of the law of unintended consequences:

1. Some Christian Taliban, anti-wiener, or bestialityphobe parent complains to a school about a novel;

2. A cowardly school administrator bans the book;

3. Journalists have fun with the ban, and the whole story ideally punks a columnist into defending sex with calves.

4. The next week is full of cranky citizens shouting Morrison, Salinger, Blume, Steinbeck, Twain, Morrison, Salinger, Blume, Steinbeck, Twain, Morrison!

5. Kids, upon discovering the book isn't available in reality-TV, video-game, podcast, YouTube, Comedy-Central, RSS, MySpace, Facebook, comic-book, or anime formats, actually read the novel.

Sweet! In this case, the novel is Toni Morrison's Beloved. If you haven't read it, read it. It will take you away to another world, pick you up, throw you down, break your heart and make you want to tongue kiss Eastern High School principal James Sexton for banning the book. The hot man-on-calf action is just a bonus.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Observations of a bike rider

1. Downhill is less fun than when you were 12. Uphill still sucks.

2. Thanks to global climate change, if one pokes one's thumbs through one's coveralls and breathes through one's mouth like Farmer Bob Hill while riding one's bike, one might possibly find one's mouth full of insects, even in March.

3. Drivers aren't the assholes I expected them to be. With the very rare exception of a few cell-phone-talking, gotta-get-to-work-and-start-screwing-people dickheads, most drivers have been courteous.

4. Unless your ass is in the top 1/100 of 1 % of comeliness, it probably doesn’t look good in bicycle shorts. Bicycle shorts have to be the most unflattering garment since the low-rise trouser met the obesity epidemic.

5. Worst moments so far: 1) Almost getting killed at the Douglass Loop shifting into 4 instead of the intended 6; 2) Almost getting a face full of loogie hocked from a Highland Middle student (he didn't see me coming); 3) see item 4 above.

6. Best moments so far: 1) tooling swiftly through a rush-hour traffic jam in Seneca Park, leaving a long line of SUVs in my dust; 2) Not dying in the Douglass Loop mishap; 3. The 1/100 of the 1 %.

7. It is surprisingly fast. It takes only about 10 minutes more than my Jetta commute.

8. As a nation of commuters, we haven't even begun to conserve. It's rare to pass a car, truck or SUV with more than one person inside. Wouldn't just the teensiest effort make a huge impact in reducing pollution, global warming, oil dependency, and those irritating little wars? Socialism be damned, wouldn't this be cool here?

[Apologies to Bob Hill. I love his columns, both Metro and Gardening, and also his radio show. But that photo. Oy.]
Today's new word

SNL TV Funhouse nails Dora
For those of you who've had the pleasure of staring slack-jawed at the TV during an episode of Dora the Explorer, check out SNL TV Funhouse's Maraka. Dora is to the non sequitur what Dumbya is to the malapropism. This just kills me:

Smith leaves Kentucky for Food Service Industry
Fun with Search and Replace: For today's exercise, we'll replace "Minnesota" with "McDonald's," "Gophers" with "Arches," and "coach" with "nugget-fryer."

"MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- With Kentucky fans dogging him after another disappointing finish, Tubby Smith is bolting the bluegrass for McDonald's.

Smith will be introduced as the Golden Arches' 16th nugget-fryer at a noon press conference Friday, ending a 10-year tenure in Lexington that seemed to be in its final days even before McDonald's contacted him… "

Monday, March 26, 2007

Until belts make sense again
Here's some shit to kill time while you're waiting for that wide-belt fad to go out of style: Read "A New Theory of the Universe - Biocentrism builds on quantum physics by putting life into the equation," by Robert Lanza. Spend some quality time at Brigid Kaelin's Myspace. Watch Demitri Martin's The Jokes with Guitar on YouTube. Read Can You Live With the Voices in Your Head? in the Sunday Times Magazine. Learn about Web 2.0. Read The Dullest Blog in the World.
Today's new word

Mitch McConnell hates the earth, rock and roll

Senate GOP Says No to Al Gore-Global Warming Concert at Capitol
Food porn
We dined at Havana Rumba again on Saturday. If that place isn't one of the ten best restaurants in Louisville, I'll buy your whole family dinner at Chili's. The Camarones al Ajillo is one of those dishes you'll have dreams about. Go there. To get pumped up for your visit, check out the food porn on their web site.
Oh, For God's Sake! Live
This Wednesday, March 28, at The Jazz Factory, 815 W. Market Street, Louisville. The Jazz Factory sez:
"Join us for a night of music and readings by outstanding Kentucky writers and musicians. This month's line-up includes novelist, critic and Louisville Magazine food writer Mary Welp; LEO columnist Jim Welp, poet Lynnell Edwards and Louisville yoga master teacher and prose writer Judi Rice. Jazz accompaniment is provided by saxophonist Jacob Duncan and bassist Brian Vinson. Special drink and appetizer prices, as always, are available from 5-7 p.m. Then, at 7:30, we welcome a line-up of writers from around the Commonwealth."
The event is free and there's free parking across Market Street. You'll probably want to buy me a beer, though. See you there!
No Impact Man
I don't care what Gawker, the New York Times or anybody else says, I think No Impact Man is a hero. My beloved brother in law, who was a solar hippie organic dirt farmer living off the grid for 15 years before having no impact was cool, proves it can happen. We should all be so principled. You go, No Impact Man.
Famous Writer's School
Here's a tasty little book: Famous Writer's School by Steven Carter. The novel has a great premise: the proprietor of a writing correspondence school sends writing lessons to his students, who in turn send him their fiction. The book is hysterical in spots and really weird in other spots, which is almost always entertaining. If you like crime fiction (which I don't), you will absolutely love the novel-within-a-novel by one of the narrator's students, which is better than most crime fiction you'll encounter. But either way, you'll dig this book. Steven Carter is yet another talented Kentucky writer (he teaches English at Georgetown College) in an amazing era of great Kentucky novelists.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Justice in the fields
The Coalition of Immokalee Workers are taking their Truth Tour to McDonald's HQ in Chicago on April 13, where they will stick it directly to The McClown. Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello and Zack de la Rocha will be there to, um, rage against the McMachine. The Kentucky Interfaith Taskforce on Latin America and the Carribean is organizing busses from Louisville. If you want in on that action, contact Aramie Bloom.
Heinous '80s moments
Along with 80's music, Ronald Reagan, and working on a cattle ranch, this is something I will never, ever, ever get over:

Slate photos: Exxon Valdez oil spill
Today's new word

From this week's LEO:

Low carbon diet
Here's something to think about next time you're brewing a delicious pot of fair trade coffee... while Tivoing "Heroes," doing the laundry, nuking a Hot Pocket, charging your cell phone/iPod/computer/camera/vibrator, uploading videos to your MySpace, and downloading some porn while glancing at the time on one of the 18 clocks in your 72-degree climate-controlled e-house of the future: The outlook for the coal industry is bleak.

That's the word from the ubergeeks at MIT, who just released a study outlining the myriad ways in which the coal industry is screwed. The rock: carbon emissions and global climate change. The hard place: the electricity monkey on America's back. The other hard place is the inevitable move to clean coal, which nobody has ever burned on a large scale. (And MIT isn't even examining the coal industry's unconscionable disaster known as mountaintop removal mining.)

Coal, which currently accounts for half the juice powering America's e-jones, contributes more greenhouse gas than any other fossil fuel. MIT believes it's possible to produce cleaner electricity from coal by capturing the carbon dioxide emissions, but such sequestration hasn't been done on a commercial scale. Even the Bush administration, which has a storied history of encouraging conspicuous consumption while bitchslapping the environment, has called for an experimental clean coal plant by 2012. The project, called FutureGen, aims to generate zero-emission electricity by capturing one million metric tons of carbon annually and storing it deep underground (near the bunker where Alberto Gonzales stores his conscience). Barring a global carbon fart of devastating proportions, FutureGen promises to become the prototype for clean electricity in America.

The message from MIT to the coal industry is clear as the air over non-coal burning states: Get behind the clean coal effort now, and coal will remain the fuel of the future. Wait for governments to impose carbon caps and watch your globe-choking industry die.
Tomorrow's CJ corrections today

Because of an error at the printing press, yesterday's Sports section ran on page A1.

Because of a transmission error at Gannett News Service, the clause "Thanks to the horrendous state of American movie making..." was omitted from the beginning of the sentence "…Adam Sandler is Oscar-worthy in 'Reign Over Me'" in a movie review in the Friday Extra section.

Because of a reporter's error in a story about downtown Louisville's Iron Quarter development, Mayor Jerry Abramson called developer Todd Blue a "visionary" instead of a "blood-sucking opportunist."

Because of a reporter's error in a story about the University of Kentucky's next basketball coach, UK fan Tommy Bob Grimes said, "I don't care who the next coach is, so long as he is clean and articulate. In fact, Mr. Grimes' actual words were, … long as he ain't clean and articulate."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Me so holy
Well, this just made my day. I'm a little worried about the dreams I'm going to have tonight, though.

Baby Got Bible
Today's new word

sparge (Thanks, Bushford.)
An inconvenient gathering of dullards
Watching Al Gore testify before the House and Senate was like watching a highly intelligent, patient educator teach a classroom of special-ed students how to tell time. You have to marvel at his restraint in not walking over and giving James Inhofe a Ritalin lollypop and a warm glass of milk and asking him to sit quietly and stop fidgeting. Watching Congress in action – on both sides of the aisle – is so disappointing. It's such a bummer to be reminded that our leaders are so brain-and-courage challenged in comparison with their counterparts in the private sector. It's a major failure of the American political system that the smartest and most innovative people in our country go for the bucks. Props to Gore for trying to save the planet. Even more props for making it through a full day in the company of the fools in Congress.

Kleenex hates our planet
Somehow, in all my groovy e-newsletters I missed the scoop that there's been a Kleenex boycott going on for two years. All that snot wasted. But now I read in Laurie David's Stop Global Warming Virtual March e-newsletter that

"Kimberly-Clark, parent company to Kleenex and Scott brands, refuses to stop using virgin paper fiber from the endangered North American Boreal forests, which represent one quarter of the world's remaining intact ancient forests, vital to fighting global warming. More than 700 businesses have pledged not to use Kimberly-Clark products, and we encourage Marchers to do the same. We also encourage you to join Greenpeace in taking action, by visiting and voicing your opposition to Kimberly Clark's clear-cutting."

It's enough to make you look forward to allergy season, just so you can take your boogers elsewhere. Get the details at
Superficial Enough Dot Org
OK, so the latest online meat market is a site called, which is too icky to create a link to, but you can get there if you're enterprising enough. Basically, the deal is: no ugly people allowed. Because, you know, hot people don't want to date people who aren't hot, unless they're rich, in which case they should be able to buy hot.

I congratulate you hot people on your American ingenuity. But what about all those people who aren't hot but also want to date people like them? Seems like a great market niche. Possible opportunities:
SuperstitiousToThePointOfBelievingYourGodIsBetterThanEverybodyElse' (Oh, wait. That one already exists.)

Get busy, you webtrepreneurs!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What not to read
You know, I was going to say you should read Rebecca Solnit's essay Was I a Good American in the Time of George Bush? but it'll only piss you off or make you sad or make it almost impossible to stand being alive until January 20, 2009, so read Fishing on the Susquehanna in July by Billy Collins or Because You Left Me A Handful of Daffodils by Max Garland or listen to James McMurtry talk to Steve Inskeep about Choctaw Bingo instead and you'll feel better.
Solving overpopulation

Even More Scientists Claim Cell Phones Damage Your Sperm
Today's new word

Crisis for women in Sweden
Man, this is heartbreaking. Religious extremists are making life hell for women in Sweden. Aside from the sad news that yet another country's women are suffering at the hands of fools, Scandinavia was one of those places I was counting on being available in case the religious extremists in America completely ruin this country. Back to the drawing-globe…

Sweden Takes Aim at Honor Crimes
This baby loves golf
Golf is the most boring sport this side of NASCAR. Here's a baby who disagrees. Gonna grow up to be a banker, I betcha.
Cal Watch
Cal Thomas does it again:
"No theocrat wishing to impose his or her narrow vision of God and government on everyone ever debates politics and theology with dissenters. They simply slaughter those who disagree, ending debate before it begins."
What a searing indictment of the Bush administration. Go Cal!
Local alcoholic goes until late afternoon without caving
I love the lede on this Not an Onion story.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Conservatives suck
OK, OK, Reagan was a dick, etcetera. Krugman took it to 'em, but good. True dat. And we don't need to feed the rage. But over on HuffPo, Jane Smiley sees Krugman and raises him. It's pretty smokin'.
Today's new word

Gobshite tennis
Krugman on Reagan
This is the Ronald Reagan I remember.
Fingernail dust
Here's a quote that will make you think maybe that staff meeting wasn't as long as it seemed after all. This comes from the great atheist Richard Dawkins in his mind-blowing book Unweaving the Rainbow. Dawkins is mostly famous for giving religion a purple nurple, but he's got some great ideas about biology, ethics, and rational thought if you have an open mind.
"Fling your arms expansively wide to represent the span of all of evolution from its origin at your left fingertip to today at your right fingertip. All the way across your midline to well past your right shoulder, life consists of nothing but bacteria. Many-celled invertebrate life flowers somewhere around your right elbow. The dinosaurs originate in the middle of your right palm, and go extinct around your last finger joint. The whole story of Homo sapiens and our predecessor Homo erectus is contained in the thickness of one nail clipping. Everyone from the Sumerians, who were possibly the earliest civilized people, to the Beatles and Bill Clinton are blown away in the dust of one light stroke of a nail file."
Louisville Under Thunder
The new Derby "Fest a Ville" seems like a godsend for 8664. Nothing like trying to enjoy a party on the river while thousands of tractor trailers drone overhead, spewing exhaust and rubber parts and debris down into your burgoo. There's so much traffic noise and stink on Waterfront Park, it's getting almost impossible to enjoy your fried dough while trying to hear the lite-country cover band of the day. Maybe if enough people go to Fest a Ville, they'll finally take down that monstrosity of an interstate after all.
Zoos, while usually creepy and depressing and often cruel, can sometimes be cuter than a cleavage full of puppies.

Louisville Zoo makes history with successful elephant birth

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bong hits 4 Jesus
This case is just fraught with comedy. Ya gotta love it when a kid punks the top court in the land into such a conversation. I have more problems with the denominator in this equation. But even more precious is the douchebag counsel for the principal: none other than Ken "Sometimes a cigar is so goddam deliciously much more than a cigar" Starr. How could anybody in the room keep a straight face? But best of all is the thought of the Supremes saying the word "bong" over and over and over. Remind me again, is Thurgood Jenkins on the high court?
Today's new word


Mom writes:

"Do you remember Dave Alpers? He was one of Babin's old golfing buddies who hung out in the store nearly every day. I thought of him when I read this:

In times of famine Mediterranean peoples would eat their 'water soup,' simmered over an open fire with a few stones to give it 'flavor.' In better times vegetables would go in the pot of water to make a broth, flavored with some meatless bones.
Dave told me that his mother used to make Wassersuppe. He didn't mention her using stones. I wonder if she did."
The new awesome
I've been calling things "awesome" too much. Especially things that aren't even close to awesome. I've got to stop doing that. It would be awesome to come up with a substitute. MS-Word offers these synonyms: overwhelming, grand, breathtaking, splendid, tremendous, remarkable, amazing, awe-inspiring, astounding, humbling.

None of them are all that awesome. "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case is splendid!" "The seaweed salad at Sapporo is grand!" I don't think so. I could go with Cartman's choice of superlative in the Tooth Fairy episode of South Park, but it might make meetings a little uncomfortable:
Cartman: Look what the tooth fairy left me last night!
Stan: Two dollars!
Kyle: No way!
Stan: For one tooth?
Cartman: For one tooth.
Stan: Dude, every time I lost a tooth I only got a quarter.
Kyle: I only got a jar of gefilte fish.
Cartman: Well, that doesn't matter, because I have an idea that is totally tits.
Kyle: …Totally what?

If you have any suggestions for my new awesome, please post it in comments or e-mail me.
Catching up with... sister! Here are three recent Mary Welp book reviews in the CJ:

Fiction from a revolutionary and a comic
Him Her Him Again The End of Him by Patricia Marx

Jane Smiley's romp with sex and politics
Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley

Overwrought story of adolescent longings
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Mary, Mom and I all loved "Him Her Him Again The End of Him." Occasionally, a Welp is wrong. Two Welps, maybe in a blue moon. Three Welps: never. It's a funny book.

Not up for fiction? How about a delicious Early Spring Salad?
Those Germans. So frugal.

Somebody alert AARP. Oh, and Dirty Jobs.

(Reuters) - A brothel in Germany hopes to capitalize on the growing number of retirees by offering them a 50 percent discount for sex in the afternoon.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Today's new word

Decembrist (thanks Laura)
Rubber, meet road
Ya know how Rubbertown smells like your microwave caught on fire and you put it out by peeing on it? That, plus the fact that people tend to die there a lot, makes some people think the air and water in Rubbertown might not be healthy. So in 2005, the state announced plans to test 30,000 residents for cancer, heart disease, and other health problems, using a $1 million water-pollution settlement with MSD to fund the screenings. Unfortunately, the MSD money will cover screenings for only about 10,000 residents. Now the state has pledged to find the money to conduct health screenings for all 30,000 residents – if that many agree to the screenings -- by June 2008 and to refer any ill residents to health services. The Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness will conduct the tests. With the Governor's goal of "creating a healthy community," the final cost of providing health services could dwarf the initial MSD outlay and would require some serious political and corporate courage: something Rubbertown hasn't seen much of in the past half century.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today's new word

Best non-Onion headline of the week

NPR Says F$%! the RIAA, Albeit in an Erudite, Strongly Worded Letter After Some Tea
Vatican plans new TV network.

Bet this won't be on it:

Hot Mohler-on-man action
Al Mohler is gay. That's the topic of speculation around the Oh, For God's Sake water cooler this morning, after the CJ's lead story about Mohler's fascination with prenatal genetics.

Our thinking goes like this: Back when Garrison Keillor was an unattractive young, heavy-lidded, hoop-skirt-chasing, teen curmudgeon growing up in Lake Schtupmenot, "gay" meant "happy." There were no pesky Hmong. Taffy was pulled. The enemy of gay rights was closetedness. Out of sight, out of domestic-partner benefits. Perhaps as a palate-cleanser, Keillor also appears in today's CJ, in one of those op-ed columns that lures you in like a creepy stranger with a delicious RC Cola and moon pie bucket-seat-Impala snack but ultimately leaves you fleeing in a panic for some emergency Mark Morford.

So, we're thinking the best way to stop homophobia and advance gay rights is to talk non-stop about homosexuality. Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay. Gay. And when you talk all day long about homosexuality and people start ignoring you, come up with ever-more-outlandish proclamations until you land on the CJ's front page, above the fold, even though Dumbya's goons tortured the 9/11 mastermind into confessing on the same day.

Is that Mohler a total homo, or what? He's here. He's queer. He might not know it yet, but we'll get used to it.

So, ol' Al flew under the OFGS Doppler Gaydar 9000. We used to think he was, like all fundies, just an attention-starved, coal-hearted, hateful lunatic. But now we know: gay. Live and learn. Props to the CJ, too, for helping to advance Mohler's pro-gay agenda with the high-profile coverage, knowing that the more we talk about our gay friends, the more likely we are to accept them as people and welcome them into our community of out-of-shape, fashion-challenged sports fans who have no appreciation for antiques.

Now, let's just hope nobody tries to scare Mohler straight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hey, it could happen
Sometimes you're just in a mood to look at 22 identical photos of Mark Hebert.
No fuel like an alt-fuel
With oil destroying the planet faster than a neocon with an intercontinental Christian Hummer dealership, nearly everyone is looking for an alternative fuel source. Enter "For The People LLC," a loftily named Hoosier company that wants to build an ethanol plant at Riverport. The plant, which would employ 60 people and produce 50 million gallons of corn squeezins per year, would produce a fuel that can be mixed with gasoline to burn in conventional automobile engines. The plant would use some groovy technologies not often bandied about in these parts: geothermal, wind turbines, and solar panels. It would also provide a market for regional grain farmers. The bad news: while renewable, corn is inefficient. It takes three gallons of fuel to make four. That creates pollution and greenhouse emissions. Ethanol demand also drives up corn and soybean prices, which can drive deforestation and inflation, especially in the price of that tasty, delicious meat Americans like to cram into their cakeholes seven times per day. And growing monoculture corn requires a nasty dollop of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that are almost as dangerous to the planet as our oil addiction. The good news: ethanol doesn't come from oil.
Today's new words

Bear community (thanks, Katie)

Duck butter (thanks, Brad)
If I were "Buzz" editor
Now here's the kind of shit I want to read about in "The Buzz:"

Best of enemies: The truth behind a 30-year literary feud
The jig and all
Slate has some great photos of "Kerouac Road." To get you in the mood, here's a quote from On the Road:

[Dean Moriarty is rumored to have abandoned his family to join Sal in Denver for a trip to Mexico.]

"Everything was up, the jig and all. Behind him charred ruins smoked. He rushed westward over the groaning and awful continent again, and soon he would arrive. We made hasty preparations for Dean. News was that he was going to drive me to Mexico... We didn’t know what to expect. 'Where will he sleep? What’s he going to eat? Are there any girls for him?' It was like the imminent arrival of Gargantua; preparations had to be made to widen the gutters of Denver and foreshorten certain laws to fit his suffering bulk and bursting ecstasies."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Global Incident Map
Tired of waiting for the nightly news or the morning paper to scare the living shit out of you? Check the Global Incident Map. I'm thinkin' an Orbitz Vacation Package finder would make a nice mashup.
Die laughing
Two items from the inbox: Mary points to the NYT story Suicide Found to Be Less Likely in Heavier People, which reports on a study that claims that the fatter you are, the less likely you are to off yourself.

Meanwhile, Mom read this nugget on Maeve Binchy's blog:

"…if you laugh for 20 seconds, it's better exercise than if you were to row for a whole three minutes."

Does that mean that if you laugh a lot you're more likely to end it all? Seems like a risk worth taking.
Interesting bridge coverage in Loumag
There are a couple of excellent bridge articles in this month's Loumag. I was surprised how much I didn't know. I knew that the plan for downtown was to build a new one-way bridge, with the Kennedy Bridge going in the opposite direction, also one-way. Although it makes sense, I didn't realize that the design required the use of the exterior piers that make it look, as Tiny Elvis would say, "really big."

Friend of OFGS and architecture genius Alan Brake points that out, plus asks this excellent question:
"Considering the obvious maintenance problems with the Kennedy, it seems logical to question the decision to tether the new span to the old. 'The Kennedy Bridge is structurally sound, but no bridge lasts forever,” says [bridge project manager James B.] Williams. 'It’s safe to assume that the new bridge will outlast the Kennedy.' What will happen when it must be replaced? 'It’s not going to be fun,' Williams says. 'Luckily, for right now we can get one (new bridge into Spaghetti Junction).' By implication, then, when the Kennedy fails, a third new bridge will need to be added so that the Kennedy can be taken down. Could we, perhaps, make due with a single eight-lane bridge and remove the Kennedy now?"
Since nobody likes my plan – forbidding people from Indiana to come to Kentucky at all – we definitely need to do something. And if we're going to let them come, we definitely want to make it as easy as possible for them to leave again. So I guess we need the bridges. I was originally opposed to the east end bridge but now I'm for it for safety reasons. I wish the plan included making it mandatory for through-traffic to use the east end bridge, but that would probably run afoul of the Courier-Journal's "Hey, out of towners! Look! We have an arena!" agenda.

Meanwhile, in Loumag's other interesting bridge article, Edie Bingham writes that the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge was originally called the Louisville Municipal Bridge. It wasn't until 1949 that the bridge was renamed for Clark, who was reportedly something of a scalawag.

It's probably just as well, though, since nobody calls it the Clark Memorial Bridge anyway. It has always and will always be known as the Second Street Bridge. Which is a good custom to follow when people start naming all kinds of shit after Mitch McConnell.
OFGS hearts EEK!
Peace, love, gap to my fellow EEK! lovers. Erin, you are so cool. I'm going to totally read my ASS off at the May InKY.
Does this dorky yellow vest make my butt look big?
Rode my bike to work today, just like Owen Wan Kenobi. The fresh air and exercise were nice but the environmental self-righteousness? That was inCREDible. Note to self: Pass the time on future trips planning campaign for seat on Metro council.

Monday, March 12, 2007

So, I'm learning Photoshop, right? Because I don't want to be the only person in America who doesn't know how to superimpose turtle heads onto my children or give Katie Couric an instant makeover. Nowadays, when I see almost any interesting photo, I instantly start looking for signs of tinkering. So, natch, just as soon as I move over to the dark side, news comes that Adobe is developing authentication tools to make it possible to tell if a photo has been doctored. Brilliant! Of course, these sort of shenanigans have been going on for a long time. I don't have anything worth showing yet, but I was able to successfully erase an ugly person eating a double stuft cheesy gordita out of the background of a photo from last year's vacation. If only real life worked that way. If only. Once I get something worth bragging about, I'll post it here.
The CJ Companion
You're an intelligent news consumer. You like to keep up with the world around you. You don't watch TV news because that would make you stupid. So you turn to the area's only source for meaningful news: The Courier-Journal.

But you're busy. You don't have time to sort through Sheldon Shafer's constipated ramblings about some strip-mall opening or Tom Dorsey's dorky witticisms about reality television just to find a nugget about the governor's latest criminal activity. How many times have you wasted your time on an article, only to think, "Goddammit. Why did I just read that gizmo guy's review of the new CrackBerry? Because I'm a feckin' sheep, that's why."

That's where The CJ Companion comes in. Now you can save precious moments with this handy OFGS at-a-glance guide to what – and what NOT – to read in today's Courier Journal:

Section A (A is for Advertising)

Page One:
The front page story about local college sports is an accurate but too-depressing reminder of our regional priorities. Skip it.

Story on dog ordinance: skip it. Spend that time making sure your dog's license is up to date and if you own a rotweiler or pit bull, have it put to sleep immediately.

Story on the death penalty: read it. It's important to be informed.

Iraq story: read it. You can never know too much about the evil America has brought to Iraq.

Pages 2-5: Wire service copy. Scan quickly in case the apocalypse is coming sooner than you'd planned. Use time saved to read The Requirement" by Wendell Berry in the March Harper's.

Op/Ed pages: Skip everything but the letters. Read them carefully, looking for signs of bigotry, hate, illiteracy, and poor grammar. It's important to know your neighbors. Avert your eyes from photos of David Hawpe or Cal Thomas. You don't want your unconscious mind firing that shit back at you in a dream some day. It's a blog day, so pause to chuckle at the very notion of a blog in print.

Back page: admire bra ad.

Section A Summary: Ignore all of page one except capital punishment. Read about Iraq, skim wire copy, skip all of op/ed but the letters. Give the bras another once-over.

Section B (B is for Bad News)
Left side folksy column: Skip it and read "Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut" by J. D. Salinger instead.

Education story: skip it – too depressing. Instead, vow to volunteer for Every1Reads organization. Write post-it note to remind yourself later.

Feel-good stories on Special Olympics and Black Achievers. Skip, skip.

Pages 2-3: speed read to make sure no co-workers are mentioned. Amuse yourself by being on the lookout for funny names like "Pinkstaff."

Page 4: AP copy, poorly written: skip. Instead, read Chapter 7 in "Siddhartha," in which Hesse describes the Pleasure Garden.

Page 5: Obits. Skip. They're all dead anyway.

Page 6: Scan 7-day weather forecast for opportunities to be outraged at gross inaccuracies. Read forecast for a city with a non-Gannett newspaper. Fantasize about living there.

Summary: Skip entire section, other than a quick co-worker scan.

Section C (C is for Cards. Unless you live outside Metro, in which case C is for Can't Read Anyway So Who Cares?)

Skip. Make a note to sign up to coach a soccer team. For a quick pick-me-up, download some photos of Maria Sharapova or David Beckham.

Section D (D is for Dumb)
Angie Fenton recycles some shit she found on the Internet about Jessica Simpson and Kenny Chesney. Skip it.

Sarah Fritschner waxes poetic about pork chops. Skip it and read 10 reasons not to eat pigs instead. Google "soysage."

Wire story about an ab machine. Skip it and do a yoga workout along with one of those hot MILFs on Lifetime.

Tom Dorsey whines about not being able to understand the voices on South Park. Skip it and download something from Comedy Central.

Funnies: skip them all, including Dilbert. They all lost their ability to portray the human condition somewhere along the way. Lament that you have too much Saturn, not enough moon:

If you're worried about alzheimer's onset, do the crossword. (Hint: seven letter word for "perplex:" "nonplus.")

Summary: You can never go wrong skipping this section in its entirety.

Business: Read the stories praising local companies for making billions poisoning their customers or exacerbating the excesses of the military/industrial complex. Scan "Business People" to make sure your co-workers aren't getting a leg up on you. Scan stories about science advancements for influences of religious zealots. On second thought, skip this whole section and read Training the Mind on the Dalai Lama's web site.

Neighborhoods: Skip it. Go for a walk around the block.

Use this guide again for tomorrow's paper. It'll all be the same shit again.
I Chain
We went to the new I Ching restaurant in Shelbyville Road Plaza over the weekend. Think Asian Qdoba. It's very similar to the Yang Kee Noodle joint at Oxmoor, but somehow manages to be a little more soulless. It violates several of my dining rules, most notably Never Buy Asian Food From Blondes. And, alas, it's a chain. It's also one of those fast food joints that trick you into paying full service prices – $8-$9 per dish – even though you have to go to a register to order. That said, it was actually pretty good. Also, the portions are huge, so you could negate that price problem by buying one meal and splitting it or saving the leftovers. Unless you are trying to erase the memory of child abuse by overeating, in which case, too bad, nine dollars. I had the shrimp and calamari which was quite crispy and yummy and served over rice with a decent sweet/savory sauce. Mary had the drunken noodles, which were a Pad-Thai knockoff, and quite excellent for fast food in a non-Thai restaurant. You'd be much better off going to any number of authentic Asian restaurants in Louisville, especially Vietnam Kitchen, Thai Smile, or the excellent Oriental House that's within walking distance of I Ching (not that anybody actually walks on Shelbyville Road and still has an appetite, but you know what I mean), but we got full up and nobody puked. If you're afraid of people who don't look like you and you'd prefer that all your fellow diners wear clothes from the Gap, but you still want to try that lo mein stuff your college roommate always ate, I Ching is your place.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I also hear good things about Fabreze

Priests to purify site after Bush visit
Beer tossing refrigerator
Just because I recognize this as another step in our rapid march toward evolutionary oblivion doesn't mean I don't want one:

Can you toss me a beer?

Friday, March 09, 2007

March 17 march on the Pentagon
The March 17 Iraq War protest promises to be huge. Organizers are promising the largest rally since the Vietnam era and are changing plans because of the huge expected turnout. If Louisville participation is an indication, it should be a big event. Local organizers have filled three busses and are working on the fourth. It's a grueling drive from Louisville, so it's an impressive turnout.

Speaking of the war and the people responsible, here's some pretty good footage of the protests in Louisville when Dumbya came here to raise money for Mitch.

This column appears in the March issue of Louisville Magazine. I'm pasting instead of linking because their web site is such a pile.

You've got snail mail
Normally, I'm not one to look back wistfully as the technology of yesteryear slides into the e-dustbin of today. It's never wise to become too attached to current technology. Before you know it, the object of your affection will become as charmingly anachronistic as free water, say, or paying for music. But when I learned that the US Postal Service was slowly removing its blue mailboxes from America's neighborhoods, I got a little, well, postal. OK, maybe "postal" is too strong a word, so let's go with "nostalgic."

According to National Public Radio (another quaint technology some of you might recall), first-class-mail volume dropped by a half a billion pieces in 2006, thanks to e-mail, online bill-paying, and the not untimely death of 105-year-old Milton Fergis, the world's last surviving letter writer. The precipitous drop in snail mail has prompted the postal service to begin removing tens of thousands of the chubby, blue mailboxes from neighborhoods around the country, robbing us of not only handy mail receptacles but also convenient places for town coots to lean against while complaining about the price of what used to be known as a "stamp."

The demise of those weird blue staples of American communication seems like a tragic loss, not only because of the downfall of the art of letter writing, but also for the goofy, human qualities of the mailboxes themselves. Doesn't their very design resemble Americans -- rotund, mouths agape, patiently waiting for a public servant to wander along and relieve their bloating pressure? How can such a fixture not survive?

And then there's their glorious contents. The letters inside those mailboxes aren't LG&E bills or Valpak coupons or your subscription to Conestoga Wagon and Driver. Obviously, that stuff enters the mail stream from some loading dock. Instead, they're personal letters: a handwritten note from grandma, a love letter from a paramour, or disturbing suggestions from that pervert who's been stalking you. The contents of the corner mailbox aren't sterile, machine-written missives; they're love, hate, fear, happiness, amusement, derangement. In short, they're emoticons. Um, I mean emotions. And they're all so mysterious, locked inside the metal mailbox bowels beneath that magical swinging door you have to reopen after you've closed, to make sure your mail disappeared.

When I was a kid, even the individual mailboxes appeared to have personalities. The one that stood across the street from my parents' store seemed official, like it could have been the mayor of Mailbox Town. The one on the corner near my grandparents' house seemed gossipier, as if it knew but wouldn't reveal exactly which neighborhood ne'er-do-well was most likely to commit a federal offense.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that turned out to be me. One Fourth of July, my cousin JC made acquaintance with the firecracker's revolting sibling, the smoke bomb - a tiny ball of fun that, when lit, emitted a steady stream of black smoke noxious enough to make a kid cough a little bit. (We could take our smoke back then.) JC had a stash of smoke bombs and we set them off wherever they were sure to cause the most annoyance: under the softball field's bleachers, under the lifeguard's chair, under the neighbor's cat.

To our prepubescent way of thinking, no two items were meant for each other like the mailbox and the smoke bomb. Not only was it a sacrilege against officialdom and a thrilling assault on the mailbox's dark mysterious contents, but we could easily skedaddle before things got too smoky. It was the perfect crime.

Wrong. Within about two seconds of the door slamming shut, enough smoke came pouring out to make the mailbox look like the love child of Bob Marley and Rhea Perlman. Within ten seconds, several neighbors were running toward the mailbox, shouting. Within a minute, sirens wailed.

And, alas, one technology that was still fashionable then? Spanking.

Of course, the corner mailbox isn't gone yet. According to the US Postal Service, a mailbox is "performing" if it receives 25 letters per day. So if you want to save your neighborhood mailbox, you'd better get busy. Just send 25 e-mails to… oh, no, wait. Drop 25 first-class letters in your mailbox each day. Feel free to complain about the price of stamps. Sure, it's a little expensive, but the mantle of cootdom doesn't come cheaply.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Potholes in my lawn
LEO reports that De La Soul is going to headline this year's Forecastle Festival. Sounds like a must-see. De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising was the second-best hip hop album ever (PE's "Fear of a Black Planet" was the best). OK, so that was 18 years ago (hard to believe) - it's still as good as ever.

Keep Louisville Queer
Here's a classic: This conservative dillwad has written a massive screed (including chart and photos) about Keep Louisville Weird, all based upon his mistaken notion that "weird" means "gay." It's all part of an argument in support of the Kentucky General Assembly republicans' anti-gay agenda and is quite hilarious in its transparent bigotry.

Of course, the "weird" in "Keep Louisville Weird" means "local" and "independent." The whole idea is to celebrate and promote local, independent businesses that are dying all across America at the hands of Wal-Mart, Applebee's, Starbucks, and the like. It has nothing at all to do with homosexuality, with the possible exception that many gay people have good enough taste not to shop at Wal-Mart.

In this week's City Strobe, I wrote about the homophobic Senate Bill #152, which hoped to ban public universities from extending health benefits to domestic partners (see post below). SB 152 is a thinly veiled way for senators to go on record hating gay people and is another in a series of anti-gay measures in the Kentucky General Assembly. Thanks to Rep. Tom Burch, the bill is now dead.

But the conservative blogger's convoluted arguments and disingenuous Louisville bashing are an interesting glimpse behind the Ann Coulter/Fox News curtain. Why go out of his way to drag Louisville-vs.-Kentucky and Keep Louisville Weird into it? Is the writer really stupid enough to believe "weird" = "gay?" His writing suggests not. Is he trying to whip up bigotry against both homosexuals and the entire city of Louisville? Probably. Or maybe he's just really emotionally stressed from a whole lifetime of secretly longing to suck off the Rotary Club behind the dumpster outside Denny's.
The unfairness campaign
Promoting intolerance while hamstringing education – what could be more Frankfort than that? Kentucky Senate Bill 152 is a poetic bill that props up discrimination, ignorance, second-class education, and second-class healthcare, all in an economical 182 words. It aims to prohibit universities and agencies from offering health insurance coverage to anyone other than a legally married spouse or family member. In other words, no homos allowed. But with 70,000 unmarried couples co-habitating in Kentucky (with 50,000 children) – and with universities and agencies already at a hiring disadvantage -- the bill would exacerbate both the healthcare and education crises going on in the commonwealth.

Why the need to legislate discrimination? Because UK and U of L want to extend health benefits to domestic partners, just like Ford, Toyota, UPS, most Fortune 500 companies, all top universities, and scores of other businesses already do. That's because, as most non-Senators know by now, we need our queers and other marriage haters if we're ever going to claw our way out of the 1950s. Turns out, those people are good to have around. Besides being smart and witty and physically fit and handy with a fashion makeover, they also make brilliant teachers, administrators, researchers, and, well, everything. And, while most visionary national leaders are desperately trying to figure out how to insure everybody (no exceptions), it's extra despicable to go out of your way to forbid an employer from offering coverage.

How do those Senators do it? By a vote of 27-8, that's how. Not outraged yet? Here's the homophobic-Republican money shot: Insurance programs like those at U of L that offer coverage to domestic partners don't cost the state a penny. That's because the employee pays the portion that covers the domestic partner, or as they're known in some states, the "old ball and chain." Still, the Republicans in the Senate – you know, those keep-government-out-of-people's-lives types – went out of their way to pass the bill, which now goes to the House.

Enter Representative Tom Burch, D-Louisville. He's chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee and has promised to kill the bill. Burch at first vowed not to even hold a hearing on the bill, but later bowed under parliamentary pressure, knowing Republicans can force a floor vote to score political points against any member who votes in favor of tolerance. If the legislators really want to make this mistake, they'd better hurry. The regular session ends this week.
Getting naked for the chickens
PETA is bringing its "naked beauties" to the Highlands KFC today at 11 a.m. From the press release:

"Wearing nothing but a banner in front that reads, “The Naked Truth: KFC Tortures Chickens,” and one in back that reads, “Turn Your Back on KFC Cruelty,” two sexy PETA members will lead a protest outside a local KFC restaurant over KFC suppliers’ abusive treatment of chickens in animal factories and slaughterhouses. Other PETA members will hand out leaflets to curious passersby.

"Why are PETA’s beauties baring all in the mid-winter chill? The more than 850 million chickens killed each year for KFC are tortured in ways that would result in cruelty-to-animals charges if other animals were the victims. They are drugged and bred to grow so large that many become crippled from the weight of their massive upper bodies. Many have their throats slit while they are still conscious and are scalded to death in defeathering tanks. KFC has ignored the recommendations of members of its own animal welfare advisory panel for years."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Top Ten Healthy Poisons
Here's something to check out after you google the photo of George H. W. Bush grabbing Teri Hatcher's ass: Coke and Pepsi are coming out with vitamin-enhanced "healthy" versions of their diet beverages. What could be next?

Top Ten Poison Fortificaton Product Ideas

10. Marlboro Lutein
9. Cool q-10 Doritos
8. Folate-i-os
7. Carrots Ahoy!
6. Quarter Pounder with Lycopene
5. Ginseng and Tonic
4. Chicken McNiacin
3. Pabst Blue Riboflavin
2. Gingkoreos
1. Cheesy Echinacea
Headlines from the Future
Mad cow catches bird flu?
Super freak
Here's something to someday admire while listening to Rick James on your iPhone. I stumbled upon this in the highly addictive 1000 Places to See Before You Die:

The Erotic Temples of Khajuraho

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I never said I was a role model
NBC made YouTube take down the Natalie Portman rap video, but it's available on the SNL site and it's worth sitting through the ad. Can't take my eyes off it. Maybe it's the black and white footage. Maybe it's that most of SNL has become as lame as most of commercial rap. Maybe it's the potty words. She's no Sarah Silverman, but it's still great stuff.
Alas, Babylon

Just finished reading Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, a 1959 apocalyptic novel about a post-nuclear-holocaust Florida. Besides the opportunity to think fondly about nuclear missiles taking out Florida, it's got virtues like this insightful little nugget about what went wrong:

"Nations are like people. When they grow old and rich and fat they get conservative. They exhaust their energy trying to keep things the way they are - and that's against nature."
Web VIPs
Those magazine best-of lists are big, dumb goofy fun (I once heard Money Magazine's editor admit they totally pulled their "Best Places to Live" issue outta their collective ass, and changed it year to year to keep cities happy). Now PC World lists "The 50 Most Important People on the Web." Not surprising: almost no grey hair; plenty of goofy words like Skype, KaZaA, and Digg; and the obnoxious Steve Jobs. Surprising: Myspace personality Tila Tequila's myspace has logged over 1.7 million comments.
Mitch hearts money
When Mitch McConnell says money equals free speech, this is what he's talking about. Key quotes:

"...he has received more than $535,000 in campaign contributions from the credit card and commercial banking industries. Just a few months before the bill's passage, McConnell raked in $60,000 from executives at two financial giants, UBS and Citigroup, at a New York City fundraiser. He was served well by his chief fundraiser, former banking lobbyist Alison Crombie Kinnahan."


"Kentucky, it should be noted, ranks 9th in the country in bankruptcy rates, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute."
Buzz alert!
For those of you too young to remember the glory days of the quaalude, might I recommend BBC's Heine Bros. Coffee Stout? Oh, man! This is one fine beverage. One. Fine. Beverage. And while most brewpub food totally sucks ass, I must give BBC thumbs up for its sesame seared tuna. It's spectacularly delicate, sushi-grade tuna on top of a big-ass pile of greens with a side-schmear of wasabi mayonaise. Outstanding. Go get some.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Party like it's 1968
"Hey, Mitch, whaddya say?
How many kids did you kill today?"


"Hey George, what about you?
Tell us: What Would Jesus Do?"

are two possible chants you could sing today outside the Seelbach when Emperor George comes to town to shake his moneymaker at corporate lizard Mitch McConnell. The Louisville Peace Action Community is gathering at 4:30 at 4th and Guthrie with signs and noisemakers. Speaking of lizards, congrats are due to McConnell for being recently honored by humorist Will Durst for "Best Impression of a Sleepy Lizard in Search of a Warm Rock Award." Kudos, sir – well deserved.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What is wrong with our meterologists?
Are they fucking retarded? Anybody who is wrong that often should humbly resign and take up an occupation where accuracy is less critical, like sports news or military intelligence. This year, we've had about a half dozen "winter strorm warnings," all but one 100% wrong. And the one we got was supposed to dump four inches of snow on us but barely managed one. Several times, the city's road crews have been tricked into spraying that brine shit on all the roads, only to watch it wash away in a warm rain. Once, the Jefferson County Public Schools closed early, only to send all the kids home in a drizzle, where they had to endure their incredulous parents cussing out the TV because we didn't even get enough winter weather to work up a good appetite for whiskey.

I like snow. I LOVE snow. So it doubly pisses me off when they come on TV the next day, wipe their retarded brows and go, "We got lucky with this storm. We really dodged a bullet." No. We didn't dodge a bullet. We got fucked out of the snow storm you promised! How can you say we dodged a bullet when it's YOUR BULLET we dodged? You don't say "We dodged a bullet." Here's what you say: "I fucked up. I suck. I couldn't forecast the weather with a fucking time machine and God's crackberry login." That's what you say. You don't say, " Indianapolis got OUR snow." You say, "I fucked up. I suck. I told you we were going to get snow, but that's just because I couldn't find Indianapolis on a map because the map wasn't up my ass, where my head is!"

And fuck Indianapolis. They won the Super Bowl. Do they need our fucking snow, too?

OK, totally sucking at your job is forgivable. Everybody in America does it. It's what makes us special. But the weather marketing weenies actually use their shitty track record to SELL THEIR PRODUCT. By scaring the shit out of you. They're all "Tracking Storms. Getting Results" and "First Alert Storm Team" and "You're-Gonna-Die-Tonight AccuDopplrrr." And when there's a hint of a wisp of a cloud in the sky they come on with their danger music and their frantic, pit-stained, balding nerdboys -- because nothing signals the End Times like a balding nerdboy with pit stains – who scream at you for hours on end in ugly neckties in front of throbbing, purple maps, about how the world is going to get buried in a foot of snow or maybe just a dusting but you'd better stay here and watch these commercials for Chicken McSnacker Gorditas because if you look away you might die.

The funny thing is, it's not just our local meteorologists who've sucked worse than Eddie Murphy in non-Dreamgirls roles. The National Weather Service? They suck. Weather Dot Com? Sucks. The Weather Channel? AP? Yahoo? Suck, suck, suck. Because they're all reading the same fucked up computer data. Last weekend, they all said it was going to be pushing 60 every day this week. Did we ever even crack 50? Yesterday afternoon, it was supposed to be 60 and it was 47. What the fuck? Maybe it's global climate change. The computer models are based on a world that wasn't fucked up by Hummers and cell phone battery chargers and Dolby SurroundSound MP3 toasters. Hey, nerdboys: here's a fun science project: Why don't you figure out how many tons of carbon we paranoid Americans dump into the atmosphere watching your inaccurate forecasts, only to make your future forecasts even less accurate?

And why are they always fucked up in the un-fun direction? They never predict a dusting of snow when we actually get a foot. And it's never 70 degrees when they predict 55. It's always a disappointment, just like the stupid, sheepish looks on their stupid, sheepish faces when the come back on the next day with their stupid, sheepish excuses, followed by their outrageous ads proclaiming their superior accuracy.

You know what, weather nerds? Fuck you. I'm going to watch the sky and sniff the air and maybe look up the asshole of a wooly worm for my forecasts from now on. It'll be just as accurate, minus the marketing hype and the pit stains.