It All Comes Back To The Simpsons

Saturday, December 31, 2005

"Check It Out...It's Like Looking In A Snow Mirror!"

I haven't posted in about a week, and I can tell from the silence that you're all very concerned about me. But don't worry...I'm just working on a new project. Be sure to check out Monuments To Impermanence, where you'll see locally crafted snowmen and other snow sculpture, plus some of my oberservations and ancedotes that go along with them.

I hope you will all enjoy my documentation of one of America's few native artforms, the others being cartoons and jazz. Ok, maybe not native, but no culture has claimed the snowman as theirs, so I'm taking it for us...which, I suppose you could say, is another native artform of America.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"Christmas Is A Time When People Of All Religions Come Together To Worship Jesus Christ."

Happy Christmas, everybody!!! I'm actually Buddhist, not Christian, but luckily for me, I realize that the world doesn't revolve around my faith, that there's room in my life for the traditions of many cultures, and I won't get all offended just because not everbody celebrates my holiday.

The last two days here in Wisconsin have been warm and foggy and fug-slushy...all the snow we had accumulated in the past few weeks is melting at an alarming rate, but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that there will still be a white, rather than brown, ground tomorrow morning. I love Christmas, what with all the good will and warm-fuzzies and all the pretty lights, but it just feels a little bit off without some snow on the ground...

Hope you all get everything you need this Christmas, and that your family gatherings don't end in tears and the filing of police reports. Don't forget to relax and have fun and play nice. And please, just rip open the damn wrapping paper...we aren't going to save it to use next year...sheesh!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"If You Don't Like Your Job, You Don't Strike...You Just Go In Every Day, And Do It Really Half-Assed!"

Finally, I get to use one of my favorite quotes, one I used to recite countless times a day back when I was working in a box factory!

I am one of the people fortunate enough to have been on strike, back a few years ago when I worked for UPS. That strike was pretty much a farce, it had nothing to do with rasing wages or adding jobs, like both sides said it was. Rather, it was centered around the fact that both the union and management wanted control of the employee pension fund. In the end, the union maintained it's control of the pensions, and UPS continually fell short on delivering the jobs that it promised, which the union did next to nothing about.

Later, at the box factory, I was working for the Teamsters again. I had thought that the union didn't always do what it was supposed to at UPS, but at the box factory, the union was out and out corrupt. That's kind of the dirty little secret about the Teamsters...they get their publicity and make their big noble stands against management with big companies such as UPS, but they make their money sucking up small shops around the country, where they do nothing but collect union dues every month. Hardly the same heroics that built the Teamsters, but then again they have been systematically hamstrung by the government since the 80's.

Of course, the big union issue these days is the NYC transit strike. Here is the TWU local 100 site, and here is Bloomberg News, of which NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is founder and majority owner (actually, he's founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent company, Bloomberg LP, but samey-same). I first went to Bloomberg News, because that's what popped up first on a google search, but I found no mention of the union position on the whole mention of why the strike was called, what the demands were...nothing. Well, that's the liberal media for you.

I actually had to go to the union site to get a less biased view of the situation. It seems that the Metropolitan Transit Authority wants the union to bump up their pension contribution from 2% to 6%, which at first seems fairly reasonable, what with the "recovering" economy that is forcing everyone to be more frugal these days, but the union maintains that back in the 90's the mayor decided on huge tax cuts rather than fixing old, failing equipment, forcing the MTA to borrow much more money that it should have to pay for repairs and upgrades, which would basically mean that the TWU paid for the tax cuts, which is hardly fair. Also, and this is where my blood starts to boil, in 2000, the MTA extended to 9,000 management employees the same pension benefits as TWU employees. Yet, while the union members are being asked to raise their contributions from 2 to six percent, the management is still only expected to make a 2% contribution. So benefits that union members struggled to obtain were handed over willy-nilly to management, and then to help pay for those management benefits, they're making the union members pay out more...those magnificent bastards!!!

Yes, times are tough and unions may have to take it in the seat come negotiation time, but their amount of suffering should be on par with that of management. That said, I think that the TWU would find much more sympathy with the citizenry of New York if it conducted one or two day long strikes every week or two rather than an indefinite one, because there are people depending on subways and buses to get to work so they can afford to live in the amazingly overpriced market of NYC. But until the non-rich start supporting striking workers, we will hear more and more about Tycos and Enrons and massive layoffs with huge bonuses going to management, until our manufacturing base is gone and the rest of the world has us by the balls. And maybe you haven't noticed, but we aren't so popular outside of our borders.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

"I Blame The Internet...And The Return Of Swing Music."

We should have known that an action movie star would make a lousy governor...that's why we need Mel Gibson! Apparently, the Califonia Republican Party is a bit upset with Schwarzenegger. A spokesman for the Cali GOP speculated that maybe they drafted Ahnold without a real knowledge of where he stood on the issues.

On the CBC, they asked him if it was unusual to "draft" Gibson via the internet, given that they hadn't even discussed it with him yet. Without a trace of irony, he stated, "Well, that's how we did it with Schwarenegger".

Apparently, as an added bonus, since Gibson was born in the U.S., we won't even have to amend the Constitution to railroad this poorly thought out strategy into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., like they were trying to do for Ahnold...before they realized they hadn't really thought it through. This time, though, I'm sure everything will work out just fine.

Are you ready for Thunder Dome?


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

"I Know What I Hate...And I Don't Hate This."

Have you ever noticed, and I'm sure most of you have, while in the middle of leaving a comment on someone else's blog, it will develop and blossom into something post-worthy in it's own right? That happened to me the other day, while I was leaving a reply on the esteemed Shannonosphere, regarding the relative positions on the patheon of rock respecting Kim Deal and Polly Jean Harvey.

Half way through my comment, I noticed it was cumberously long, not to mention fairly inarticulate and maybe a little bit Unabomber-esque, what with it's disjointed rambling quality. I had meant to belittle her pro- PJ opinion as gently as possible, but I thought that I should perhaps listen to PJ before I really got into it.

Luckily, I happened to have PJ Harvey's "Rid Of Me", although, for various reasons, I'd never actually really listened to it. When I say really listened, here's what I mean; to really listen to music, you must listen:

*while driving, with the volume cranked up
*under the influence, whether it's liquor or Nyquil, muscle relaxants or head injury, mushrooms or the light of the love of Jesus
*with headphones that cost more than $30

It's also helpful if you regularly listen to three or more radio stations, and even more helpful if your station of preference isn't classic/oldies.

Anyway, back to Polly Jean...
I had put in the CD a couple of times in the past few years, but both times I was distracted, and not really able to give it my attention, and it didn't make much of an impression on me. Not to mention the fact that she is adored by so many audio sycophants, also known as music snobs (by the way, I'm not a snob, I'm an aficionado). I am no bandwagon jumper; in fact, I'll often avoid listening to bands if there's too much hype around them.

Last night, I finally listened to "Rid of Me" in it's entirety, without distraction, and my argument against Shannon sort of dissipated. PJ has a great, raw sound...big yet feminine, and I can really appreciate the "girl" in her music. Kim Deal's sound is a little more polished, which can be good or bad, and is usually bad, but in her case it's good. Kim's voice is prettier, but PJ's has more depth. However, PJ does a capella a couple times on "Rid Of Me", and that takes some points away from her. No one, with the exception of Tori Amos, should do a capella! I've seen Tori two or three times live, and each time my favorite part was when she sang "Me And A Gun". I don't like that song so much on the CD, but live it is such a powerful experience...there's such a palpable tension. The audience seems to be frozen under a spell, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one expecting someone to whoop or yell, but no one does. It's such an incredible experience...I suspect she's a witch...

So, I have to admit it, PJ rocks...hardcore...she's got a genius there. But Kim was a Pixie, and so she trumps all. Like Lennon and McCartney, in spite of the fact that their post-Beatles success, not to mention the overall quality of their work, was spotty at best, and I don't mean to compare Kim's Breeders to, say, Wings, as the Breeders are so much better than Wings, she is as a Saint, and really, on a certain level, above criticism.

And so, I stubbornly refuse to admit that I might be wrong, but at least I expanded my horizons. Thanks be to Shannon!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"In Theory, Communism Works...In Theory."

I found this site to be accounts for both economic and social aspects to the usually somewhat ambiguous "Left" and "Right" labels people like to slap upon each other. I'm always up for throwing a wrinkle into the often watered down political discussion of the times. Although I usually would rather avoid the tired debate all together. (Although I usually would rather avoid the tired debate)...if you don't get that, watch "Airplane" again...

I took the test, and I wasn't too surprised with the results. I'd like to have put my score up here, but I'm soo "stupid" I can't figure that out. So I'll just have to tell everyone that I got a -4.25 on the economic axis and -6.05 on the social-libertarian/authoritarian axis. Oooh...double negative! Turns out I'm a lot more like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama than Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush or the pope...I'm pretty cool with that.

So...are you a Mugabe or a Thatcher? A Paul Martin or Gerhard Schroeder (actually, they're pretty much the same...come to think of it, I've never seen them in the same place at the same time...hmmm....)

Saturday, December 03, 2005

"Jury Duty?!?...I'll See That Quimby Kid Hang For This!!!"

How'd you like to be, as so often happens on television, accused of a crime you didn't commit? Then, how'd you like to look up at the jury box and see this guy?

I'd be a little uneasy...he seems like a "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" kinda guy.

Yep, Bush has been selected for jury duty. Luckily for whoever the accused are in McLennan County, Texas, Dubya is, of course, above the law, and not subject to bothersome civic duties (case in point, Presidency of George W. Bush).

Interestingly enough, loser of the Presidency, John F. Kerry, was also tapped for jury duty recently. The only difference was that he, unlike Dubya, didn't shirk his duty...hmmmm, are you seeing a pattern here? Kerry was even elected foreman...finally a Democrat wins something! Way to be, Kerry!

Even though we all know from Faux News that all Democrats are unreasonable, sue-happy bastards, he rejected the plaintiff's charge that the city was responsible for an accident a high school principal was involved in. Fellow jurist Cynthia Lovell, a registered Republican, had this to say of Kerry: "I just found him to be a knowledgable, normal person. He kept us focused. He wanted us all to have our say." She went on to say she regretted voting for Bush instead of Kerry.

I wonder what Bush's fellow jurists would have to say about him after he lost the foreman election but then promised the judge a high profile appointment in exchange for overturning the decision...but I guess we'll never know...but I'm sure we can imagine.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

"Man's Best Friend, Indeed..."

my pet!

This is my virtual hedgehog (what an age we live in!) Sideshow Cecil. Sy and I have had hedgehogs in the past, and they are great fun to play with, if you are careful. Our first pair were a big hit at college. They are so curious and love exploring places from which they are not easily extracted. They're also excellent climbers and runners, and must be fastidiously supervised, as they are, being so well armed, very brave and tenacious.

If you have never been in the presence of hedgehogs, I pity you. When they get startled, they roll into a tight ball and make a sound sort of like the laughter of Muttley. Thay eat everything from mealworms to cat food, peanut butter to corn nuts. The only bad thing about them is their habit of dying the most grusome, horribly agonizing deaths after about four or five years of life.

Our last hedgehog died due to the fact that it had an undeveloped twin, apparently which died in utero, residing inside of it. Our hedgehog grew around it's corpse while in the womb, and, apparently, that's detrimental to a hedgehog's health. We had another hedgehog die as the result of some sort of problem with it's reproductive system. I take these deaths as proof that there is no Intelligent Designer; I mean, it's got to be hard enough for hedgehogs to throw each other down and make sweet, sweet love in the first place, but then to make them so vulnerable to reproductive problems...what kind of God would do that?

So please feel free to play with Sideshow Cecil, he's right on my sidebar...but no pervy stuff. I'm looking in your direction, ESC...and Shannon (which is where I stole this from)...frankly, you all raise some red flags just by the virtue of your showing up here...