Sunday, August 27, 2006

I Neglect My Blog

Here's the start of a story. Know me now before The New Yorker makes me famous.

President Hugh C. Macklin closed his eyes, leaned back in his chair, and contemplated political suicide. It felt good. He opened one eye long enough to glance at the clock. If he made the call now, he could be the lead story on the evening news.

"That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia," he sang aloud to the empty Oval Office. "That's the night that they hung an innocent man."

There was a pack of Pall Mall filters in his desk drawer. Macklin toyed with the idea of lighting one, put it aside. His desk bleeped.

"Go ahead," he said automatically, wincing at the interruption.


Macklin sighed. "No, Frank, this is Elvis. What?"

"Line three -- it's Mrs. Macklin."

"Thank you, Frank. Put Ol' Sparky through." No time like the present. When opportunity knocks, and all that. He opened his desk drawer and pawed for the pack of smokes. His desk made a blippety sound and then the voice of his wife blared forth.

"Honey, I'm in Baton Rouge at that thing with those people and I don't think I'll be back in town tonight because the weather's really bad and there's this reception that you KNOW will drag on forever and Curtis and and Nisha think it'd be easier to go directly from here to LA rather than having to fly back home and then leave again in the morning."

Macklin heard in the background a sussurus of conversation and the clink of glasses, then the unmistakeable "pop" that comes only from an inexperienced person opening a bottle of champagne. She was in a restaurant. No, that was being naively charitable. She was in a bar. Baton Rouge is to bars like houses are to termites. He lit the Pall Mall and gratefully sucked down its calming, cancerous smoke.

"Okay. Be safe, and call me when you leave for LA," he said, then realized he'd chickened out. "Oh, and honey? I want a divorce."

"Wh..." He hung up. There were no ashtrays in the Oval Office. He tapped the ash into his hand and wiped it on his suit pants. What the fuck. Step One complete. Step Two required further shoring-up. There was a cut crystal decanter half-full of some exotic decoction on the sideboard. Macklin hadn't touched it in in his two years in office, and he hoped it wasn't some sort of colored water. He opened it and sniffed. Ah. Some sort of brandy or cognac. Armagnac, maybe. He left the stopper on the sideboard and brought the decanter to his desk. When he hefted it to his lips, it rolled down his throat like hot honey. Delicious. A fire lit deep in his belly. He thumpoed the decanter to the desk and watched the amber liquid slosh through the crystal facets. He turned his attention back to his cigarette. The penultimate drag, he thought, exhaling, is always the best. People think it's the first drag, but it's not. It's that next-to-last drag.

He addressed the desk. "Frank?"


"Find me some weed."

I'm sor..." He hung up again. Presidents could do that. Hang up on underlings. Issue orders. Start shit. He had the desk page his appointment secretary. She was away from her desk, so it took a message. Sometimes, even Presidents get voicemail. "Sue -- cancel all my appointments for the afternoon, even the one with whats-her-name from Australia. If they ask, tell them I'm drunk."

He took another slug from the decanter and smiled.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Zombies! And Spelling!

Zombie Letters from

I'm spellin' with zombies!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hooray Connectivity

Haven't been online in over a week and I'm jonesing like a junkie for a fix. I lap up some higher mathemetics at the Times, and zip over to MetFilter for a little netly nebbishness. Then to the wonderful Arts & Letters Daily where I find I can serendipitously indulge in that easiest and most satisfying of online endeavors, Coulter-bashing.

I love the Internet.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Casual Violations Of Alzheimer's Disease

We're private people.

Except for me, braying my woes about teh Intarweb, my family has always favored discretion over disclosure. This seems to me a perfectly sensible policy and Dr. Phil can go fuck himself, because we all know that too much familial truth is perhaps more unbearable than not enough. Hell, I was a teenager before I discovered my paternal grandfather had sired seven kids and then hied his sorry ass to Texas. I was in my thirties before I knew my mother had had a brief (and, I'm sure, tempestuous and romantic) marriage to a French soldier at the outset of WWII, before she met the man who would father me and be her husband for 52 years. Neither of these facts are particularly relevant to anything other than filling out the parental backstory, so to speak, no matter how much psychologists would like to believe otherwise.

But now it's different. As I daily dig through layers of stuff that Mom has accumulated, I find the kind of personal reminders and notes-to-self that give me an insight on my mother that I never had before. For instance, my Mom has sorted, stacked and tied with string every Sierra Club newsletter she's recieved in the past five years.

Mom has never recycled a can in her life. We brought him an injured baby bird home once, but the cat ate it.

And not just the Sierra Club. The Wilderness Society, the Nature Conservancy, Give Guns To Pandas, you name it. I haven't asked her where this eco-consciousness is coming from, because I fear that the answer is she probably sent one or more of them money and now she's on their sucker list.

And other things. A drawing. A smiling cat sketched on the back of a white paper bag. Broad, sweeping strokes. Beneath the portrait is written "Suki!" in curly girlish letters, the spike of the exclamation point bouncing on a a squat fat heart. I don't know who drew it. Mom didn't remember. Who knows how long it had been there.

And this is the surface. I've just gotten out the whisk broom. Wait'll it's time for the shovels. And Mom feels this, I think, as a violation. An intrusion, a meddling in her affairs. She squawked about me cleaning off the kitchen table today.

But just on that table I saw the sad neglect that comes with a mind newly unraveling. This all happened so fast. Last Christmas she was in my kitchen with my mother-in-law, clucking over the sweet potatoes and telling me I'd put too much salt in the green beans.

Eight months later, she can't remember what she had for lunch five minutes ago and is agitated when I tell her I've already brought the mail in. You're sure? Did you check? I checked. You're sure? Really, I am.

This will only get worse.

I Love Lester Bangs, And I'd Like To Emulate Him, Except For The Dead Part

A reconsideration of the greatest essayist of our age.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Don't Push The Button

See, I told you not to push the button.

Also, Don't Shoot The Puppy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We Must Defend Our Search Engines


I write heartfelt posts about life-changing family crises, and no one comments (hyperbole). I criticize and two snarks appear almost immediately. This is just like MetaFilter.

Teh Intraweb: Land'O'Perspecative.

I presume that I'm being pwned because actually has a picture of d if you query "d boon" and google does not. How nice for them. Irrelevant. The question wasn't "who is Mike Ness?", it was "how tall is Mike Ness?", a better test of the underlying search heuristics.

The second comment claims that google doesn'tr know who d is. I beg to differ, using the same damn screen.

Assholes. Posting anonymously, of course.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Reason To Love Google

So we're driving home from Weezie's house (Who's Weezie? That, my friend, is privileged information.), and the question arises: how tall is Mike Ness? Rather, how SHORT is Mike Ness? We know he's no giant, because he refers to some height issues in the live Social Distortion CD that's spinning as we drive (referring to fights in the parking lot before shows, he sez something like "Well I was only four foot nine in tenth grade and I kicked the SHIT outta 'em!" thus exhibiting the classic Napoleonic traits of Short Man Syndrome). But how short is short?

And I've been watching this stupid reality show on NBC called "Treasure Hunters" (fuck a corplink) and in a heavy-handed example of product placement the contestants are always saying things like, "Let's try ''!"

I figure "how tall is Mike Ness?" would be a great test of their search algorith. So we get home, I fire up Ol' Sparky, and I type "how tall is mike ness" into's search box. I get this. No help.

I go to Google. I type "mike ness height" and I get this. Bam! I don't even need to click through. He's 5'7", surely a candidate for Short Man Syndrome. Theory confirmed. Elapsed search time: seconds.

Then I figure, well, that's not really fair to since I refined my search term before googling it. So just for shits and giggles, I try "mike ness height" at, resulting in this.

See why Google rules? That's just BETTER.

Driving Miss Crazy

So I've figured out what Mom likes to do: ride in the car.

As long as we're in motion, she's engaged. She reads the road signs, the bumper stickers, signage on shopping malls. Every few minutes she asks, "Where are we going?" and I tell her (lunch, the doctor, Sam's Club for toilet paper and cat food, Mars, Cambodia, it really doesn't seem to matter what I say). "Oh," she responds, "That sounds nice."

And for the duration of the drive she is happy.

So I've taken to going the long way 'round. Extending every drive to its maximum, even inventing destinations so we can drive more.

"Let's drive by the movie theater and see what's playing," I suggest.

"Oh! I've never seen a movie!" Mom beams in anticipation.

Hmm. I know for a fact that Dad and I went to see a Charlie Brown movie (the Great Pumpkin?) while Mom went to "A Clockwork Orange", but I say nothing. I also remember rapturous retellings of "Gone With The Wind" that she went to at the Alabama Theatre. I briefly reflect on the fact that the last movie I saw with my Mom was when she took me and a bunch of my friends to the Alabama Theatre to see the 1976 "King Kong" and Michael Rasberry bought Ju-ju-bees and Mom thought it was strange that the boy didn't buy chocolate and popcorn like a good right-thinking American. Now there's nothing at the suburban gargantu-plex that catches her eye, and there's not even anything I want to see. We were hoping for "A Prairie Home Companion" but it's nowhere near our end of town.

We drive away and do our shopping. Back at the house, Mom is irritable. "The heat! It got to me. I'm going to sit in front of the fan." I unload the TP and paper towels and sundries. I marvel again at the power of the warehouse store: 72 rolls of toilet paper, divided among three people, for only $15.00. That's 4.8 rolls per person, and how long would it take me to go through a whole roll? I was assigned one in jail, guarded it zealously, even slept on it, and still there was plenty left at the end of my thirty-day sentence. Of course, the whole shitting-in-public thing kinda weirded my bowels, but still.... So one roll for one persom for one month. That's a TWO-YEAR supply for our little threesome, for only $15.00!

Of course, I also bought a box of frozen White Castle cheeseburgers, a month's supply of Glucophage and Pravochol, enough paper towels to cover a sizeable portion of Alabama's navigable waterways, and an ant trap.

(I applaud the young woman at the pharmacy who gamefully volunteered to check us out and then demonstrated her competence with one of those cord-free barcode scanners. She was a real time-saver.)

"I have to go home. There's raw chicken in the trunk and it's 100 degrees out here."

"I don't want you to leave," Mom said.

"I know, but I'm getting all my shit packed to move back in with you, and the sooner I get that done, the sooner I'll be here," I say.

Mom smiles.

And that's really all I can ask for.

Best Mel Gibson Headline So Far

Excuse the bandwagon-jumping, but this made me giggle.

From "Hollywood's Power Jews Pause From War Planning To React To Mel"

Now THAT'S funny.