Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Odd Jobs

I've had a lot of random jobs over the years. I've sold pizzas outside the Kingdome in Seattle on commission. I had a gig for a while at the end of the 90s where I basically helped a guy install home appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers for cash under the table. I've spun pizza dough. I worked a coffee cart in front of a Safeway. I purchased office supplies for a law firm. This doesn't even get into the number of children's theatre productions I've directed, selling my artistic soul for a paycheck.

For the last several years I've been a freelance "simulated patient" for several medical schools, to help train med students in their clinical skills. To answer your questions: Yes, kind of like Kramer on Seinfeld. No, it doesn't require that I get anything put up my butt. There, that's the answer to the first two questions 90% of you thought.

I also do a lot of temp work these days. Usually I'm sitting at a reception desk answering phones and surfing the web, my favorite kind of temp job. On Monday I had something completely different.

Some guy hired about 5 of us temps to go to a Jimmy Carter book signing. What for, you ask? Well, he calls himself a "collector" but I think a "dealer" would be a better description. He's one of those people who sells stuff on eBay.

We went to his car where he had a trunk-load of Jimmy Carter books and he gave each of us a huge stack. I had a garbage bag full of the Nobel Peace Prize lecture. Now, when I took the assignment I thought it was going to be something more officially connected to the event, like helping carry around big boxes of books at the store or something like that. And I took it because I thought it would be cool to meet Jimmy Carter.

But this was a little more shady than I thought. As we were walking with the guy to his car he laid out some ground rules. First, he said that we were in the Barnes & Noble we should act like we don't know him. He didn't want the Secret Service to know he brought a group to collect signatures. He claimed that the Secret Service sometimes gets "weird" about it. And then he tells us that if they ask us how we heard about the event we should give them some line about Googling it or some such bullshit. Of course my first thought was "Dude, if the Secret Service ask me a question my ass is going to point to you and say 'that guy hired me to get these books signed.'"

What the fuck was this guy thinking? I'm going to lie to a federal agent to protect some geek for ten bucks an hour? I don't think so.

And he also began a sentence with "If I get removed by the Secret Service..."

What the fu...? I'm doing a gig for a guy who has in the realm of possibilities that he could get grabbed by the feds? What the hell am I doing here?

He then left with his bag of books and told us to all to follow about a minute apart to keep spread out. I called the temp agency to see what the heck this is all about and they assured me that they did this for the guy last year and it is all above board. OK, but I'm still not going to lie to a fed for this guy. They told me I didn't have to do that.

It did turn out to be an OK thing I guess. There were several guys with a huge amount of books to be signed. This guy was right I guess, Carter will sign a ton of books for people and the bookstore will allow it as long as you have at least one copy of the new one.

Still, the former President is going to sign for 90 minutes and then stop. So I would be pissed if I went there to get a book signed and saw all these people in front of me with 50 or so books. So I'm even more annoyed that I am one of these guys. I was so embarrassed. And I know there were some people that had their heart set on getting a book signed by Jimmy that didn't get it because there were ass-holes in line with dozens of books. Ass-holes like me.

But Jimmy was really nice. He talked to me a little bit while he signed my books. My 51 books. I got to tell him I grew up in Georgia like he did. But I did forget to ask him if he could still get his hands on any Billy Beer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Often Dream Of Trains

Music is my savior
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was tamed by rock and roll
I got my name from rock and roll

----Sunken Treasure, by Jeff Tweedy

I walked into Maxwell's in lovely downtown Hoboken on Sunday night with much anticipation. Robyn Hitchcock's show the night before had been great, with a backing band called The Venus 3 that consists of REM guitarist Peter Buck, Minus 5 leader and REM sideman Scott McCaughy, and ex-Ministry and current REM drummer Bill Reiflen. They absolutley rocked, and played some great old song from Robyns days in the Soft Boys and fronting The Egyptians, as well as stuff from the new album they recorded together. Ex-Soft Boy Morris Windsor even joined them onstage to shake some moraccas and tamborines and provide harmonies.

But Sunday night was shaping up to be special. Listed on his website as an all request solo show and on the ticket as "Robyn Hitchcock and friends," nobody was sure what exactly would be going on until Robyn kind of outlined it a little bit at the end of Saturday's show. He basically explained that he would start off alone, then Morris would join him for a little "Morris and Garfunkel" set, and after a break the rest of the band would come on. Oh, and the whole thing is being filmed for a Sundance Channel documentary. Let the high expectations begin.

I was sitting at the bar when the band showed up. I'm always struck by how uninterested Peter Buck looks all the time. When I lived in Seattle I saw him all the time at clubs, mostly the Crocodile since he owns it, when he was playing some side show with Robyn, Kevin Kinney of Drivin' N Cryin' or Scott McCaughy. He always looked like some non-descript guy just kind of standing around waiting for the band to start. If you didn't know he was a multi-millionaire rock star you wouldn't even notice him.

I saw him deal with both extremes of noticability Sunday night. When he first showed up he went to the end of the bar to order a drink. He must have stood there for a good ten minutes waiting for the bartender to notice him. Eventualy the bartender did and got him his drink. But damn, that's Peter Buck. You'd think you could get quiker service. Maybe he should've said he was friends with Michael Stipe. Just a few minutes later a couple walked up to him and talked to him and then eventualy pulled out their camera so they could each get their picture taken next to him. Each separately, so he had to do that forced smile for the camera while getting a picture taken with someone you don't know. I thought to myself that he probably prefers getting ignored by bartenders than bothered by overzealous REM fans. I know I would.

Soon it was showtime. My excitement level was pretty electric by this point. I had emailed in my request about a week earlier and was hoping like crazy that he would play it. I had requested a song called Ghost Ship. It is a haunting ballad, performed by Robyn with just an accoustic guitar and with a slight reverb on the microphone. It clocks in at over 6 minutes long. It's also a b-side track, so I didn't know how big the chance was that he would play it. I had included in the email that it was the song that turned me into a Robyn-head and that it would make my year to hear it played live. I'm a geek when it comes to my music.

Well I didn't have to wait long to find out. After two songs on electric guitar he switched to the accoustic and I allowed myself to hope. He said "this song is a sea shanty" and then started the opening chords to Ghost Ship. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.

I stood there, mesmerized, in the middle of the crowd and just let it envelope me and carry me off. About halfway through the song my eyes actually started to well up. It was a moment I had hoped for for almost 18 years and countless Robyn shows. It was just as great a moment as I hoped it would be. And it made me weep like a baby.

I often try to explain to a lot of my friends why certain music means so much to me, and how I could do things like go see the same singer-songwriter or band on consecutive nights or several dozen times over the years. And I could go into long explanations of how Robyn's music is like someting that was written by a combination of C. S. Lewis and Jack Kerouac and performed by a hybrid of Bob Dylan, Syd Barrett and Roger McGuinn. This doesn't really make people understand.

Really, how do you explain to someone how something makes you feel? Especially when you can't really describe the feeling?

For me I guess it goes back to high school. Going to shows then and in college were my escape. Going to a show put on by Robyn, Billy Bragg, The Replacements, Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Pogues or several other of the musicians I was into took me away from it all. I knew when I went to them that I wouldn't have to run into any of the dickheads from school, because those people were too stupid to know who those bands were, much less get them. Concerts were also places where I would never see my mother. They were my sancuary

Obviously my life these days doesn't require the same kind of escape for my survival. I've got no real complaints about where I'm at and the people I'm around. That's the great thing about being out of school, you're not forced to constantly be around people you hate. Or give you wedgies.

But the feeling is still the same. The songs fill my soul and my heart even more easily with less angst to have to push out.

This is why I'm glad I don't listen to the same inane crap that the moron masses do.

Do you think Britney Spears would ever play a random 18 year old b-side at one of her shows? Hell, do you think she even knows what a b-side is?

The ghost ship haunts the sea
Still come back and marry me

The rust is where her heart should be tonight
Her face is where her fingers were tonight

A glassy chequered engine room
The speechless silence of the tomb
The manuscripts inside the womb unfurl
A girl
Translucent as a jellyfish
That palpitates upon a dish
She stings you with her gently falling curl

And sinking in the waters green tonight
I wonder where my lover's been tonight

The ghost ship changes course
And on the deck there stands a horse
Who's munching on sardines and gorse and hay
The Captain trawls the net across the bay
The bubbles rising from the deep
Where deadmen sing themselves to sleep
From oak and coral they do seep to say
You read my future like a chart
See through my skin; into my heart
That flutters in my ribcage like a bird"

And the ghost ship sails on into someone's life

The air from bottles forms into
The skeletons of all the crew
In white they dance against the blue and wail
Their curling bodies flail around the sail
The figurehead before the mast
Stares back into the golden past
Across the wrinkled sea so vast, forlorn
She mourns

She flutters 'round me like a moth
That beats against mosquito cloth
And tries to eat her way into my dreams

And sinking in the waters green tonight
I wonder where my love has been tonight

The melons on the riverbank
Are bulging through decaying planks

Their beauty is so warm and dank and light
The captain wears a headless grin tonight

And silhouetted on the blue
The cook, the mate, the boss'n, too
They know not where or why or what they do at all
They fall
Like masonry in the abyss
That opens every time we kiss
I hear their laughter echo 'round the bay
And the ghost ship sails on into someone's life

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I know that it's bad luck to be superstitious, but nothing else is working, and my head is really hurting and I'm sick of all this worrying about things I can't control


I've been thinking a lot about superstition and mythology lately. I'm not a superstitious person. I don't have a lucky number, lucky hat, lucky shirt, lucky rabbit's foot, or lucky charm of any sort. I'm sure my wife wonders why the hell I don't wear anything but Wilco or Camp Laurel t-shirts and Chuck Taylors if it's not for luck. My attachment to a few comfortable items of clothing are not steeped in any sort of thinking that they bring me luck or some sort of good fortune. Superstition and silly beliefs in mythology drive me crazy. And I don't understand it in any way.

All of it is so brainless. The baseball players who wear the same pair of socks for every game or won't clean the pine tar off their helmet all season. Pitchers avoiding stepping on the chalk line on their way on and off the field. All because they think this helps them win, regardless of any actual evidence.

"Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck." How could people actually buy into this one? Seriously. How is finding the lowest amount of money possible good luck? If luck exist, wouldn't a hundred dollar bill be a hell of a lot luckier than finding a penny?

Of course the worst of all the superstitions and myths is religion. That there are people out there who believe that some guy was born to a virgin mother, turned water into wine and bread into fish, walked on water, died on a cross to only come back to life three days later is just crazy. That may not even be the stupidest one. The guy who fit two of every species on the planet on one boat probably takes that title. I mean if that were true, ha actually took the time to grab a couple of cockroaches and mosquitoes? And how did he know that he grabbed a male and a female of each of them? And what about maggots and leaches?

See, these are the kind of things I think about when I hear these ridiculous myths. Everyone else just thinks about all the cute giraffes and elephants and monkeys. I'm the kid in the back of the class that asks why Noah bothered to save the stink bug and how he checked it for its gender.

Sunday school teachers hated me.

I sometimes think I'm the only person in the world that doesn't have some sort of mythical, unprovable thing that I believe in. Even so many other non-religious people I run into will have some crazy shit they believe that is just as dumb as the Christ/Noah/Moses stories. Just a few weeks ago I was working somewhere that I got to talking with another person about this stuff and making fun of the Christians and Scientologists. But then this person started talking about, you guessed it, astrology. Fucking please.

If anything is as dumb as the bible, it's that. This whole idea that your personality traits are decided by when in the calendar year you are born is laughable. My wife and I are the same "signs" and have many opposite (albeit, we think complimentary) personality traits. And whenever you challenge people on this nonsense, they pull the usual "It's just like you (insert sign here) to be skeptical."

What's even weirder about the astrology thing, is that it is based on something people believed about stars and planets back when they were these mysterious things in the sky. But come on, we've sent rockets and men to these places now. We know that when "Jupiter is in Saturn" or "Mars is crossing Venus" or whatever the fuck those sayings are, it has to do with the coincidence of those planets' orbits and nothing else.

Don't even get me started on fucking Tarot cards.

And people are so dug in to their beliefs even if you can show them that what they believe is bullshit. And they get so damn defensive about it too.

Nothing is a better example of that today than what people believe about medicine.

You've seen the commercials that are on TV. There are so many of these so-called "medicines" that claim to do things that are just impossible. Most of them involve magical weight-loss without having to diet or exercise. My favorite is the "ionized" bracelets that claim to cure back pain and help a bunch of other stuff like your liver and blood pressure and probably sexual prowess, though I don't remember for sure if they claimed that last one. And people believe, even in the face of a complete lack of evidence.

And people go nuts at you when you suggest to them that there is no proof of some remedy they believe in actually works, and in some cases has even been proven not to work at all. Like those bracelets.

I guess I'm thinking about this because I had a cold last week. And whenever you have a cold, people always offer suggestions on fighting it. And most of the suggestions are usually something that has no back-up from any credible scientific studies.

On one of the two days that I was really getting hit hard by the cold I had a job that I had to go to. Most of the people I was working with that day I had never met before. I did the right thing by not shaking hands when I met people and explained that I had a cold. At one point before starting one of the other guys pulled out a case full of pills, set them on the table and said "you should load up on vitamin C."

I said no thanks, and explained that there is no reason to take extra vitamin C when you have a cold because it doesn't help. You would have thought I kicked his dog. This guy was annoyed with me the rest of the day, just because I challenged his belief with something called the truth. He told me that when he's sick he listens to his body, and his body tells him that it works and that his colds are shorter because he takes vitamin C. I told him that I believe what science tells me. I didn't even try to get into the conversation of how he knows how long his colds would have lasted if he didn't take the vitamin C, because that might have led to some psychic conversation that I definitely wasn't interested in.

I just told him how the only thing that has been proven to shorten the length of colds is zinc lozenges and that the whole loading up on vitamin c thing was just as pointless as taking Eccinatia.

Well, guess what? He is a believer in that too. He actually told me at one point that he knew the stuff worked and he didn't care if any studies proved it or not.

This is what I'm talking about. That moron will believe what he already believes even it research were to show that it makes your dick fall off. Just like the creationism believers, he's sticking to his guns no matter what the evidence shows. He actually ended the night by telling me that I should drink fluids with vitamin C because it is a diuretic and will clean the toxins out of my body. I had to double check with my wife (an MD) when I got home, but I figured the diuretic claim was bullshit, and I was right. The completely false things people will believe knows no bounds.

I just can't buy into things without actual evidence. And I think the world would be a lot better place if everyone else were the same way.

Noah's ark is a fable. No bracelet will cure you bad back. Pennies are not good luck. Being born in August did not decide my personality traits. Loading up on vitamin C does not strengthen your immune system (and it's not a diuretic) Eccinatia does not get rid of colds.

And the Tigers lost the World Series because they kept dropping the ball, not because they stepped on the chalk line.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hooray! (Cough Cough)

Sorry I haven't posted anything the last few days, I've been sick as a dog since about Tuesday. I'm still down for the count today, so this is just a quick "hip-hip hooray" note for the results from election night.

Man, before the election I really wasn't allowing myself to believe that it could go that well. Now of course I don't call myself a Democrat, but that is still the best we can hope for in the ridiculous two-party control over our government. I used an analogy on election night that it was like having tuberculosis for the last six years and then waking up Wednesday morning and now you only have the flu. Sure, having the flu sucks, but at least you're not in that iron lung anymore.

At least maybe now we won't have a Congress that gives Bushie carte blanche for his evil agenda.

Some other good news from Tuesday:

South Dakota, by a bigger margin than people thought, turned back an assault on women's reproductive rights by defeating the horrific wide-sweeping ban on abortion.

Arizona, of all places, said no to the bigotry of a proposed amendment to their state constitution to outlaw gay marriage. Granted, six other states voted for similar laws, but the margins were closer than similar bills in the last few elections, including only passing with 52% in South Dakota. So be patient, homosexual brothers and sisters, the wave is turning. These are sure signs that we are within a generation of full rights for our gay citizens. That may be of little comfort to the senior age couple that have been together for 40 years without having their relationship recognized, but it is something. Susan B. Anthony never got to vote, but her fight was eventually successful for future generations.

One pet peeve (among many, of course) about the media's coverage of the election:

These are supposed to be intelligent people, yet so often there are examples of reporters calling something by the wrong name. Using the word "troops" instead of "soldiers" is a big one. Someone needs to remind them that a troop is a group of soldiers, so one should never say that "ten troops were killed today" if they are talking about ten individual soldiers.

And the thing that a lot of them (though not all) kept doing on election night was using the wrong term for the House of Representatives. So many times I heard that night that the Democrats had taken control of "Congress" but that the "Senate" was too close to call. Attention reporters, the word "Congress" is the term for the branch of government that includes both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Please stop referring to the House alone as "Congress." It makes you sound stupid.

Though now that we know the rest of the results you can correctly say that Democrats have, in fact, taken control of Congress. Hee-hee.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program of me coughing, sneezing, sniffing, and shaking with my fever and chills.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Comments, I Get Comments

So as I was saying yesterday, I love that people are able to post comments on blogs, one of the great things about the medium. Generally I haven't really responded to them, I just usually let them stand on their own. But I've collected a few choice ones over the last several months and figured I'd do a "mailbag" segment, as if this were a real column or something. So lets pull the first letter out of the bag.

This one comes from "Anonymous," in response to my Open Letter To Pastor Rick Warren from last December 7th, though this comment left some 4-1/2 months later:

So are you telling any person that has not had a history of helping with the AIDS epidemic to stay away. If thats the case, dont just tell Rick Warren to stay away from the issue- (it seems as though you may be discriminating against followers of Christ).- tell all of the politicians- conservative and liberal- and while your at it, tell the millions affected by AIDS that you are telling people to stay away from the issue. Is Rick Warren responsible for the statements of Falwell or Robertson? If so than perhaps you are responsible for the statements of Robert Singer, who is involved in the AIDS issue, and/but also a strong supporter of infanticide- OF course you are not responsible. I myself am a follower of Christ and i can say that, it is not for me to decide what is right or wrong for someone else, there is only one Holy Spirit in this world, and i am not it. LOVE-

Well, to answer your opening question, basically, yes. Evangelicals who teach that homosexuality is a sin should not only not be involved in AIDS prevention issues, they should also go fuck off. And you should go back and actually read my letter in full. I didn't tell him he was responsible for Falwell's and Robertson's statements, I pulled out mean nasty statements from those two idiots to refute Warren's wife's claim that evangelicals were somehow "absent" from the discussion in the early days of AIDS. They were very much vocal in those early days, demonizing gay people with all their might. And Warren may dress things up a little nicer and brighter with his Hawaiian shirts and all, but he still teaches a form of intolerance and hate when calling homosexuality a sin. And someone who teaches young people that it is wrong to use a condom is encouraging the spread of AIDS not helping to stop it. All Warren is doing is using AIDS for the self-serving purpose of increasing his number of followers and selling more copies of his stupid book.

And I'm not really sure who Robert Singer is, but I'm betting that what you mean by "strong supporter infanticide" is that he supports a woman's right to make her own decisions about her reproductive system. Calling abortion infanticide kind of refutes your whole "not for me to decide what is right or wrong for someone else" statement, you brain-dead zealot.

On a side note, I never did get a response from Pastor Ricky to my letter.

Here's another Anonymous comment, left on my post about the Foo Fighters' support for an organization run by Christine Maggiore, who claims that HIV doesn't cause AIDS, and AIDS doesn't kill people. I wrote it on June 7th, and this comment was left on September 1st, by someone who was googling for information about Maggiore:

Writing shitty blogs is worse than anything, way to try really hard to be "edgy". When will this blog trend end? Cause it's hack.

Hey, I'm "edgy." Who'd a thunk it?

You would think Dave Grohl would have better things to do than search blogs for things written about him, but I guess not. And Dave, aren't you getting a little old for phrases like "cause it's hack?" And "shitty blogs?" Come on now Dave, I just accused you of making some of the worst music on the planet and being so lacking in morals as to push the ideas of a deadly organization on your web site and tours. You don't have to go and make it personal.

Going back to the religion topic, this little note was left after I wrote the piece about the poor, innocent Canadian who was picked up and sent to Syria to be tortured, per George Bush's orders. It's from someone who calls himself Seven Star Hand (don't feel that you need to read all of this, you can get the gist in about the first two sentences):

Hello Deni,

All three Faiths of Abraham spawn violence and hypocrisy

Christians and Jews are able to smugly lecture and chastise Muslims about violence, because followers of Islam are poorer and more oppressed and are forced to defend themselves in cruder fashion. On the other hand, the rich and powerful nations of the west can train and equip militaries and intelligence services to do their bidding. Likewise, well-funded and smooth-talking politicians expertly equivocate about acceptable collateral damage to the homes, and lives of poor people in other lands. With so many dollars spent, why don't Muslims and others simply shut up and accept being exploited, oppressed, and massacred for such nobly expressed western ideals?

Those in representative democracies tout their governments as extensions of the citizenry. Accordingly, so are the militaries, intelligence services, corporations and other proxies used to expand and maintain the Judeo-Christian Empire. By extension, the citizens of western nations are much more responsible for the actions of criminals, killers, and torturers paid for and authorized by democratic institutions than people who live in less democratic nations who have much less control over the actions of their leaders.

It is undeniable that the Bush administration, its cohorts, and supporters are mostly Christian. Without the blind support of so many Judeo-Christians, the Bush administration would not now be embroiled in the current struggle to retroactively legalize torture, illegal domestic spying, and other crimes. By US law, hiring a proxy to murder or assault someone is still prosecuted as murder and assault. It is undeniable that the militaries and intelligence services of the west that kill and torture at the behest of democratic representatives are hired proxies of Judeo-Christian citizens.

Regardless of attempts to shift blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil.

So, the next time any Christian, Jew, or Muslim, whether president, prime minister, religious leader or follower decides to chastise others for their failings, stop to consider that the logs in your own eyes have blinded you to the full truth about all three faiths of Abraham. Religion has utterly failed to solve humanity's problems because it is a strong delusion that spawns error and evil instead. The sheep's clothing of duplicitous ideals is an obvious deception used to hide the truth. Nonetheless, the veil is readily pierced by discerning the fruits of their deeds.

Here is Wisdom...

That's great dude. Now would you please hit that bong and pass it on? Everyone else is waiting.

This little random tidbit was left a couple of months after I wrote my Love Letter To Lynn From Lowell:

Southie dumbasses!!!, obviously you have not a clue about the history nor the people of this great neighbourhood. These people took me in when I was most in need of it. As an Irishman I hold that in the highest regard..

Well, I know they can't say the words "park" or "idea" right.

One piece of history I know about the people of that "great neighborhood" is how they pelted little black kids with eggs, rocks and rotten vegetables for trying to go to school there. And that was in the 80s.

But hey, they were nice to you, a fellow white Irishman. What fucking humanitarians.

And finally, here are a couple of responses to my bashing on Derek Jeter for his apparent lack of interest in international traveling. First, from mikrokunk:

You know I had the exact same thought when I read that about Jeter. Why hasn't he been traveling the world with all that money? But then I remembered something. Last December I met my husband in San Juan Puerto Rico where he was working an event for ESPN Deportes. Jeter was staying at the same hotel and got booted out of his suite because ESPN had reserved it. Now keep this in mind, the hotel wasn't that nice at all but was by the beach and had a casino. He was there with a bunch of guy friends for the week. I remember asking myself, "why isn't he staying at a nicer place?" But then again maybe he has to pay for all of his buddies to go with him. Can't be cheap. I read that his European trip was with Michael Jordan. I'm guessing he didn't have to pay for MJ's room on that trip... Food for thought!

Unless he was paying for about 500 friends, I don't think Jeter's wallet suffered too much.

And here's a stirring defense of Jeter from someone who calls himself Feynman and Coulter's Love Child (and without irony, if you can believe it). I'll answer this one line by line:

Seeing how for a huge chunk of the year Jeter has a job that keeps him in North America, and that his sport's popularity is in Latin America and north Asia, its not too hard to believe he's never been to Europe.

Yea, that 4 months off from after the World Series (which he hasn't been in since 2003, hee hee) until reporting to spring training is such a short amount of vacation time. And what the hell does where his sport is popular have to do with where he goes on vacation?

Believe it or not, it is possible to be a human being of some sort of value having never toured a castle or museum in some rundown Spanish villa.

No, it's not.

(As for "unlimited resources", the only "European" city on my list is London -- and if Jeter had gone to London the Brits would have told him that he had not been to Europe and kindly stop slurring them.) It's a big planet, and if your biggest slam on Jeter is that he hasn't overpaid for a tiny plate of food in Paris than ol' Derek is doing pretty well.

I'm not even sure what the first part of this sentence even means. But then, there it is. A right-wing nutjob's stereotype of what traveling in Europe is like. Yes, the entire reason to go on a European vacation is so you can buy small, expensive plates of food in France. Boy, you got me. Those damn sneaky French, putting on those interesting things all over Europe just so people will buy some expensive snails.

And how many Europeans have made it to Kalamazoo, MI anyways?

Ooh, great argument. How long did it take you to come up with the lamest place you could think of in America to compare to traveling to Europe. Lots of 16th century castles in Kalamazoo, are there?

See, the thing is, you small-minded little conservative, a lot of those little towns and villas in Europe are actually interesting. If you had actually tried to go anywhere in Europe besides London you would know that. But nice job guessing what it's like.

And that's all the time we've got on this premiere edition of mail time.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Free Speech Ain't Free....Oh Wait....Yes It Is

One of the nice things about blogging is that people can respond to what you write and can post it themselves without hoping for some editor/publisher to print their "letter to the editor." I think it's great that people can respond to something I've written without me, as the owner of this site, deciding whether or not it is a worthy comment. And I don't delete comments, for the most part. The few times I have deleted comments was during the time period when blogs were getting spammed in the comment section like crazy, before blogger instituted the word verification that has saved me from long, idiotic, automated messages showing up. My five readers have better things to do than read ads for hair-loss treatment or work from home opportunities. Besides, if someone wants to put an ad in my blog, I'm damn well going to get paid for it.

Other than spam, I think the only time I deleted a message was when someone posted a comment after a blog I wrote that mentioned David Duke in some context that now escapes me. One of his apparent followers put in a comment that was a collection of links to Duke web sites, as well as a bunch of Holocaust-denial, neo-Nazi, KKK, and other racist and Jew-hating sites. It was surprising just how many the guy linked to, it was something like over twenty.

I wondered where I would draw the line, and I guess that was it. Honestly, if the guy had just written some stupid racist bullshit, I probably would have let it stay and then just made fun of him (much like I did with that dumbass). But I wasn't comfortable with my site being used to link to some horrible racist propaganda like that.

Feel free to let me know if you think that was a reasonable thing to do. Or do you think that it went against the whole philosophy of free speech?

Give me your thoughts. But please, no linking to


Coming tomorrow - I'll go through the old mailbag and write some responses to comments left on my blog over the last few months. Can't you just feel the anticipation?