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Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Rutgers Hates Fat Bitches

Friday, February 25, 2005

It's times like this that the normally enormous pride I take in my Alma Mater is shaken.
Rutgers University Grills Sandwich Vendors
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
FOX News

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — A student group at Rutgers University has demanded sandwich vendors on campus change the names of sandwiches that have been deemed offensive.

Some of the sandwiches, which have been voted the best "fat" sandwiches by Maxim magazine, are called; "Fat Dyke," "Fat Phillipino" [sic] and "Fat Bitch." The big bites are sold by so-called "grease trucks" on the New Jersey school's main road.

But a grease truck worker identified only as "Mr. C" told The Daily Targum, the Rutgers student newspaper, that the move was wrong.

"I'm very upset. We're all very upset," he said. "I've been selling [Fat] Bitches for 14 years." Mr. C said he has never had a complaint about the menu names. "Everybody's happy with the Bitches," he said.
Ah, yes. I remember the grease trucks. I even remember Mr. C. I graduated in 1988 and they are still there. Amazing!

As for the offensiveness, that the offended student group has issues with the sandwich names and not the offensive nature of the food itself puts this whole "controversy" into perspective.

Editorial Note: The second quote from Mr. C was taken from the article in The Daily Targum, but the Targum requires registration, so I took some license. Call it alumni privilege.

kansas taliban

Friday, February 25, 2005

what is going on in kansas?

did its citizens go to sleep in america and wake up in fundamentalist-oz? or is the entire state under the control of wild-eyed right-wing zealots?

the state's attorney general, phill kline, recently declared war on women who have had abortions. apparently it's not enough that these women must live with a heartbreaking decision: they also must worry that the state's top cop might get his sweaty hands on them.

having been branded with the scarlet A, they must live in fear of a government witch-burning.

kline is demanding patient records for more than 90 kansas women. these files contain personal details including how the women became pregnant, sexual history, birth control practices, drug use, psychological profiles, fetal abnormalities and more.

the premise for this government intrusion into the private agony of kansans is to "go after child rapists and predators." it assumes that any underage girl who is pregnant was raped. the flaws in this logic are profound, and the precedent this investigation sets is dangerous.

there are valid legal and ethical reasons why patient records and the doctor-patient relationship is beyond the reach of fanatical law enforcement. if that protection is stripped away, the health and safety of the most vulnerable will be sacrificed. this applies not only to pregnant teens and adults but to AIDS patients, people in abusive relationships, and thousands of other compromising situations. instead of seeking help, people will cower and suffer and die.

there are already good laws on the books requiring physicians to report any suspected cases of child rape or other abuse. kline's bludgeoning of the rights of kansas women is in itself abusive. and it's a poorly disguised cloak for his aggressive anti-abortion agenda.

abortion is not a pleasant topic. no one in their right mind is a cheerleader for this cheerless circumstance. but like underage pregnancy, it is a reality that some women endure--and all must have the right to choose.

phill kline, in his self-righteous dudgeon, is pursuing a vindictive kind of "justice." his prosecution of kansas law is looking like a persecution of innocents.

a physician's first duty is to do no harm. in the case of abortion, that scenario is murky at best. there is no question, however, that the kansas attorney general is intent on harm. he's piling legal insult atop the injury already suffered by many women in his state.

he should not be allowed to do more damage.

Gonzo's Happy

Friday, February 25, 2005

I hereby offer this smile to jekyll for his lovely edits to our template. While it's tempting to joke that this is a self-portrait, it's actually a photo of our own spaceneedl. i kid you not.

without fanfare

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

transcendental floss, now available in three columns. read all the old posts. notice how they subtly changed meaning! no, i kid.

BTW, what's with the doctor's recommendation, is somebody anti-dentite?! it is transcendental floss after all. again, i kid.

really, though, i am just a kid. i may be double the age of a low-aged adult, but still...

coding makes me delirious

Bush Admits His Options Are Ridiculous

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I was considering writing an Onion-esque news parody, riffing off this quote...
"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous," the president said with a slight smile. "Having said that, all options are on the table."
...but I think I'll just let it speak for itself.

outlaw regime II

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

did you hear that? it sounded distinctly like the other shoe hitting the floor.

my recent comments on the u.s. government locking up its own people without charges, trial or other niceties of due process were followed today by a fairly important clarification. the prisoner in question, Ahmed Abu Ali, today was charged in a plot to assassinate george bush.

ali had for 20 months been detained and tortured in saudi arabia at the behest of the u.s. government.

A federal indictment, setting forth charges that could lead to decades of imprisonment upon conviction, described the defendant as eager to be a partner in terrorism with Al Qaeda.

apparently ali's friends and family in the courtroom laughed out loud as the charges were read.

if true, the charges won't be followed by hilarity. with recent history as our guide, ali will go into a deep dark hole from which he probably won't return.

but regardless of the verity of these accusations--what took so long? the man has been in custody for nearly two years. is it coincidental that charges are finally brought the day after the washington post ran an editorial denouncing the justice department's role in this case?

if ali is guilty he deserves his fate.

and we deserve better than the jackbooted marching of this justice department over the rights of american citizens.

R.I.P. Hunter

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Thanks to having been blissfully separated from all news outlets from Friday evening until this morning, I'm rather late to the Hunter S. Thompson farewell party.

I can't purport to have extensive knowledge of Hunter's work, but I feel I have read enough to have appreciated what he accomplished - the chronicling of the post-modern era with uncompromising disdain for pretense and fools. It is important to note that all his attitude and eccentricity would not have amounted to anything noteworthy if it hadn't been for his considerable talent as a writer. There are many out there today who like to think of themselves as following in Hunter's footsteps, many a gonzo wannabe, especially in the age of the blog, but I know of no one who comes close to Thomspon's mastery of language and storytelling.

That there was any shock that he took his own life with a gun is amazing to me. He knew he'd had enough and I can't imagine him withering away.

Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men's reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ''the rat race'' is not yet final.

- Hunter S. Thompson

the outlaw regime

Monday, February 21, 2005

which country locks up its own citizens without charges, without trial, without due process?

(hint: don't say china, iran, or north freaking korea. those are too obvious.)

time's up! it's the united states of america.

the details are here. i'm too disgusted to enumerate them for you. read them yourself. after you've had a chance to shower off, think of what this means.

the u.s government is now a rogue state. the precedent has been set, and any of us could be next.

It should be unthinkable that the courts would resolve this matter without hearing from both sides on key legal questions. It should have been unthinkable for the government to propose such a step.

surprise! for this administration it's more than thinkable; it's easily do-able.

we have met the enemy, and it is us.

bush dishonors american POWs

Saturday, February 19, 2005

take a good look at this man. he's everything the bush administration is not.

because this man, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Clifford Acree, actually fought and bled for his country. he was shot down over iraq in the first gulf war, and was tortured in captivity.

acree and 16 other u.s POWs were awarded nearly a billion dollars of iraqi money by a federal judge, as compensation for their ordeal.

now the bush administration is fighting these veterans, trying to prevent them from collecting the damages they earned.

important note: president bush went awol from the national guard during the viet nam war. dick cheney "had other priorities" at that time. other administration chicken hawks have similar histories of non-service.

other important note: this administration endorses and facilitates torture.

according to the l.a. times:

The case tests a key provision of the Geneva Conventions. The United States and other signers pledged never to "absolve" a state of "any liability" for the torture of POWs.

Former military lawyers and a bipartisan group of legislators have been among those who have urged the Supreme Court to take up the case and to strengthen the law against torturers and tyrannical regimes.

important questions:

why does bush hate the geneva conventions so much?

why does bush hate americans so much?

why is the bush administration filled with so many abysmal examples of humanity?

things we don't care about

Friday, February 18, 2005

americans have become a flabby, complacent bunch.

that's mentally, as well as physically.

if you've been paying any attention to current events, it doesn't trouble most people that new york times reporter judith miller and time magazine reporter matthew cooper are headed inexorably toward jail. their crime? refusing to rat out a confidential source in the valerie plame case. even if you don't know the details of said case, it's pretty obvious that if a reporter isn't allowed to have confidential sources, lots of news won't get reported. unless it's by a conservative pundit paid for by the bush administration, and aired on fox news.

that's bad.

most people aren't aware, and wouldn't care anyway, that jim guckert, aka jeff gannon, used a white house press pass to pimp the bush administration since february, 2003. guckert is a gay male escort (not that there's anything wrong with that) and an internet porn figure. how those impressive credentials warrant a press pass to stand a few feet from the president is a topic of considerable discussion. draw your own conclusions.

meanwhile, maureen dowd, an opinion writer of some note at the new york times, was denied a press pass. though why she'd want to be in the same room as the president is anyone's guess.

that's grotesque.

in other news that creationists will deny any knowledge of, it turns out homo sapiens is a lot older than previously thought. new analysis of a couple skulls found in ethiopia showed the bones to be 195,000 years old. that's a good 35,000 years older than they were given credit for. upon hearing the report, one creationist said, "la la la la, i can't hear you."

that figures.

finally, barry bonds prepares to complete his drug-fueled assault on the home-run record held by a legitimate player, henry aaron. most people don't give a rip about steroids, human growth hormone and other designer performance-enhancing drugs, however. so bonds will get the record without an asterisk, and take his place among the all-time greats at cooperstown.

that's a fraud.

but who cares?

not me.

Pictures are key

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I've decided that adding a photo or graphical image to just about any post makes said post immeasurably better.

So, I hereby pledge to take the time to include at least one in all future entries, starting with this one.

Here's the very first hit out of 487,000 from a Google Image Search using the term "abstract":

dojo mojo

Thursday, February 17, 2005

my son is learning karate.

part of me thinks this is like giving him the opener to the can of whup-ass on dad.

another part of me is sure of it.

but he's only 6 1/2, so i still should be able to take him for a couple more years. after that i'm in trouble.

i'm wary of any training that puts my "man of the house" status in jeopardy (notice i didn't say "head of the house," since that refers to my wife). the rules of the dojo hint at the possibility of patricide; for example, dojo rule #3 instructs students to "Get permission before handling weapons."

quick quiz: is that a good rule, or a bad rule? it's good, i suppose, in that it requires prior consent to handle weapons. but it implies, no it says straight up that handling weapons is perfectly okay.

for the record, i'm extremely ambivalent about rule #3.

rule #12: In order to concentrate completely while training you must be silent. Then when it is time to answer or kiai, respond loudly.

my son runs his mouth like a nuclear generator. the only time he's quiet is when he's asleep. the day he concentrates completely and silently, i'm in trouble.

rule # 15: Be nice to other students. Help new students who seem confused or don't know what to do.

the entire class is composed of six and seven-year olds. they're all confused, none of them know what to do. but at least they’re nice about it.

in all there are 18 rules the kids must follow while learning the ancient art. near as i can tell, they don’t follow any of them. not that they don't mean well. it's just that their collective concentration span is about as long as this sentence. more often than not their little eyeballs are focused in 18 random directions--forcing sensei o'donnell to bark a loud "kiotsuke! (come to attention!)" suddenly all those eyes go wide, and they're all looking at the big guy in the white robe.

the sensei is brilliant with children. he's funny and engaging and you can tell he really likes working with kids. he's also big and broad and chiseled from years of training. when he barks, everybody in the room snaps to...including the parents, who were busy reading or chatting or dozing just a second ago.

in the moments that follow, actual learning occurs. the next move and corresponding japanese-language phrase are parroted with surprising precision. the sensei rewards the group with a nod and a compliment. in turn, nine children go all ninja turtle on him.

he smiles briefly, lets it go on for a bit, then snaps them back to attention. it seems to be an effective routine. my son is learning. already he can deflect any of my attempts to smack him upside the head.


i can still smack him upside the head. but it's not as easy as it once was. the time will come. and when it does, i'm in trouble.

Writers & Artists Snacking At Work

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Funnest site I've seen in a while. Writers & Artists Snacking At Work, WASAW for short, offers humorous reviews of snack foods, currently covering 194 products and counting. Discovered them by way of The Sneeze.

Anyone got an extra 5th Avenue bar?

How Bambi fought the Viet Cong

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this incredible story. I think I'll do both.
The tanned old man in the bifocals and cowboy boots could stand as a living emblem for America's loss of innocence. He has worked as a spy in cold war Berlin, and came under fire while fighting in Vietnam. The collapse of Enron ate his savings and he is now struggling to make ends meet. But once, long ago, Donnie Dunagan was the voice of Bambi. He said "bird-a" and "butterfly" and mistook a skunk for a flower.
The entire article, which is not very long, is well worth the read. The unnamed Guardian reporter nails it when he talks about America's loss of innocence, how transient the so-called "American Dream" can be, and we have just one more in a long history of reminders that the attainment of wealth and celebrity is no guarantee of happiness. Do you think Michael Jackson is happy?

And, while we're mentioning Mr. Jackson, there is something in here about the dangers of childhood celebrity. What is it about the experience that has ruined the lives of so many kids? Could it be that they were forced to grow up too quickly? Denied the freedom to be children in every sense of the word?

One thing's for sure, I'll never be able to watch Bambi again without thinking about Donnie Dunagan, about the loss of innocence, the siren call of fame, and the horrors of war.

Aint too proud to beg

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Who was the jerk who, at an early age, taught me that it wasn't cool to ask for help?

Um, more precisely, why can't I bring myself to seek help from...Help files? I frickin' hate Help files. I'm the kind of person that calls up tech support and begs to be walked, step-by-step, through fixing the problem at hand rather than clicking on that ever-present Help icon. I'm the kind of person who offers to mow the lawns of total strangers if only they would come to my house and fix the problem at hand. Anything to avoid Help files written by someone brilliant at writing programming code and not so brilliant at using the English language to write easy to follow instructions.

All this is to explain that, almost 8 months to the day after the launch of Transcendental Floss, we finally have started a links list in our sidebar. When we first waded into the blogosphere, we initially made contact with a number of other bloggers, and made bold promises that we'd add a link to their blog when we figured out how to add it to the template. See, this is how the blogosphere works, a network of sorts, people scratching each others' backs.

Well, until recently, as usual I avoided the Blogger Help files like the plague. I took one look months and months ago at the code in the template and instantly got cold feet. One slip, it seemed, and I could very well bring the entire information superhighway to a screeching halt.

Who woulda thunk it was so easy? The page in Settings where you actually can edit the template code allows you to preview the changes you've made before you save them. So, the risk is very low, especially if you copy and paste the original into a text file and save it elsewhere.

Now, to be honest, the Help files are still lame in many ways. They are disorganized and scattered around in separate small entries that are sometimes linked to other related entries. Additionally, as was mentioned, they are mostly written by programmers who just aren't able to put themselves in the shoes of a someone who couldn't tell the difference between HTML and Farsi. However, with a little persistence and a dose of experimentation, it is possible to get where you want to go.

We look forward to adding to our links lists as we come across blogs and other sites we like.

Editorial Correction

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Color me embarrassed. A good friend of mine emailed me in response to my posts (Post 1, Post 2) referring to Happy Days and JumpTheShark.com.

Apparently, my memory is not as good as it once was, and though that's not always necessarily a bad thing, it appears that I was a little off on the details of Fonzie's jump over the shark.

I'll let my friend expain in his own words:
That is weird, How. And I loved the line in your blog article, "Maybe America has jumped the shark." Genius. Oh, by the way, you wrote, "wherein Fonzie jumps his motorcycle over a shark in a tank." I caught that Happy Days reunion special as well (I'm not bragging, mind you), and they showed the clip of that episode. Turns out, the shark wasn't in a tank and Fonzie wasn't on a motorcycle. I know you would want the facts. The shark was in a roped off section of the ocean and Fonzie jumped it on water skis. (While wearing a leather jacket, shorts, and biker boots, for no apparent reason.)
Notice how I left in that bit about me being a genius? Makes up a little for how badly I screwed up on the whole shark jumping thing.

Anyway, can anybody who watched Happy Days so many years ago understand how I could make such a mistake? After all, there WAS an episode where Fonzie jumps over something using his motorcycle. Wasn't there? Or, was that one of the Tuscadero sisters - Pinky or Leather? (Hint: Those are strictly rhetorical questions.)

Let it be known that we here at Transcendental Floss believe in thorough research and all those other journalistic thingies, and strive to provide our readers with the best quality blo

the anti-american

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

who's tired of me railing against the president? besides me, i mean.

every single day, it's something new. and I’m worn out from reacting viscerally to his spectacular list of screw-ups. i'm like a punch-drunk fighter who's not smart enough to do anything else, getting back up to absorb more punishment.

the latest eye-roller and whiplash-inducer is the 2006 federal "budget."

to sum up, lots of money for war and terrorism, big cuts for the most vulnerable americans.

put another way, more money for the elective war, more tax cuts for the rich, a wrecking ball for social security. and the poor? pfft, they get a texas-sized serving of contempt.

"...we're asking for Congress to cut and/or reduce 150 different programs. The important question that needs to be asked for all constituencies is whether or not the programs achieve a certain result. Have you set goals, and are those goals being met? And the poor and disadvantaged absolutely ought to be asking that question, too. In other words, what is the goal of a particular program? And if that goal isn't being met, the question ought to be asked, why isn't the goal being met?"

got that? the poor and disadvantaged, the people who are struggling to keep themselves and their children off the street, they're the ones who should be taking to task the programs put in place to help them.

it's a joke of a response from this joke of a president who still tries to pass himself off as a "compassionate conservative."

random question: why does bush like iraqis so much more than americans?

he's got hundreds of billions of dollars (strangely unaccounted for in his "budget," mind you) for the downtrodden in other countries, but manages to stiff u.s. education, the environment and health care for children. veterans, the people charged with fighting bush's elective war, get their benefits cut, too. they'll be paying a bunch more for drugs, which they'll desperately need in lieu of the programs their president is yanking out from under them.

it’s remarkable how far from “traditional conservative values” this administration has strayed. once the party of fiscal restraint, the right is now the bastion of big government, big deficits, and big, transparent lies. all at an astronomical cost to average americans.

if approved, this “budget”

“…would lead to the first reduction since the Reagan administration in programs…like local law enforcement projects, the national park system and preschool literacy projects.

"The proposal also calls for substantial reductions in programs like Medicaid and food stamps where spending levels are largely determined by eligibility criteria."

no one believes the president's "budget" will survive in its present form. on both sides of the aisle wagons are being circled, flares are going up, and lines in the sand are being drawn. many, many components of the president's latest assault on americans are considered "dead on arrival" in congress.

but if we are to assume that this is the "budget" bush and his miscreants really want, then it's a stunning demonstration of the low regard the administration has for most people in this country.

another day, another body blow by the anti-american president. frankly, i could use some more rest between rounds, because it looks like it's gonna be a long fight.

Just plain sad

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"It might give you the extra second you need, save your life maybe," Sgt. Marcio Soares said Tuesday after trying on the new all-in-one camouflage uniform that is the first major redesign in Army fatigues since 1983.

Army soldiers are being issued new fatigues with easy-to-use Velcro openings and a redesigned camouflage pattern that can help conceal them as they move rapidly from desert to forest to city in places like Baghdad.
Pinning your hopes on an extra second of safety that might be gained from a new camouflage design. THAT is rough.

My heart goes out to our soldiers, who are still there everyday, killing and dying for nothing.

What the hell is a Super Power anyway?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

An excellent read at The Guardian.

While I rarely avoid an opportunity to sling mud at George W. Bush and his cronies, and the focus of the Guardian article is the importance of the U.S. to recognize the burgeoning power of the European Union, I am more drawn to contemplating this concept of a Super Power.

How "super" can the U.S. be when we are in debt to the tune of $7,625,110,133,116.77? (I'll give you a hand: that's approximately $7.5 trillion.) A quick refresh of the U.S. National Debt Clock and the number has gone up to $7,625,117,185,040.39 just in the time it took me to write that one sentence.
The estimated population of the United States is 295,537,628, so each citizen's share of this debt is $25,800.83.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.88 billion per day since September 30, 2004.
I don't know about you, but for me being in debt sucks. I was once in $8,000 of credit card debt, and the juggling act I was going through transferring balances, the stalling techniques, the pushy calls from my creditors, created enough stress to burn a hole in my stomach.

Here's an idea: Make the President of the United States personally responsible for balancing the country's checkbook just like every other American has to.

There's something very disturbing about this disconnect - where millions of Americans are like I was when I was in debt, many a lot worse, and the impact on their lives is tremendous, yet the very country we live in continues to refer to itself proudly as the sole Super Power while being $7.5 trillion in the red. What a joke.

a day in a dog's life

Sunday, February 06, 2005

our family includes two big dogs. golden retrievers, to be exact. (all of us are, in turn, owned by two cats, but that's another story.)

in a failed attempt to keep the big dogs from trashing our back yard, i take them to a nearby park, twice a day every day. it's a couple-acre arrangement, fenced all the way around. and though the signs say leashes are required, it's rare to see a leash on a dog there. the people are pretty unleashed as well.

twice a day, every day, for the last seven months. you get to know the dogs first, and sometimes their owners. i still know more of the dogs' names than their owners' names. i don't know what that says about us all, but it does say something.

hoover is a sharpei-golden retriever cross. it's an unlikely mix, but she is a beautiful dog with an endearing face. her owner, john, is somewhat physically disabled. he has trouble speaking, and is ungainly in his walk, but his mind is as sharp as anyone's. it took awhile to become attuned to his speech patterns, but once i did it became clear that john has a great sense of humor. he calls hoover his babe magnet, for one thing. he's a liberal democrat for another, and has offered up many a gently scolding comment on the current administration.

right now john is recovering from a broken rib, courtesy of his four-legged friend. apparently hoover, usually the most mild mannered of dogs, got it in her head to chase after a golden lab puppy. unfortunately she, john and the leash had not yet parted ways, and john was yanked off his feet. so he is now at his mom's house in bellingham, on the mend.

a 30-something gal with two labs, (one golden one black), visits the park most afternoons. she and the dogs are slightly plump, but very cheerful, and we all get along nicely. one day the gal wore a "culinary arts institute" sweatshirt, and i cleverly asked her if she were a graduate.

"no," she said, "my ex-fiance is. i put him through school, and then he decided to move out."

ah, geez. my casual conversation starter had taken a turn for the awkward. "well," i recovered brightly. "at least you got a sweatshirt out of the deal."

"that's about all i got. he's at our apartment right now moving out his stuff."

oh, damn. the dog poop was really hitting the fan. "i am so sorry," i said. ("you're going to make her cry, right here at the park, idiot," i thought.) "couldn't you have, i don't know, sabotaged his souffle or something?"

"no, it's okay. i'm at the park with my dogs, it's a sunny day, and it's all good."

clearly it was not all good, but as i mentioned, she's a cheerful sort. she kindly let me off the conversational hook that i had firmly set in my rear, and the dogs played on.

another woman, attached to a scottish terrier, comes around semi-regularly. she's a substitute teacher in the seattle public school system, but would like a full-time gig. she'd heard there was a demand for teachers in seattle schools, but instead found there is a surplus of applications for every opening. so she subs, and surfs the net for teacher shortages in other parts of the country.

we talked about the relative merits of las vegas, new orleans, and hilton head, south carolina. i felt eminently qualified to comment as i've visited each town at least once in the last 20 years. quality of life, whether the people are friendly, housing costs. i don't know anything about these subjects as they apply to any of these towns, but i know there's a casino in downtown new orleans. i've lost money there. there are casinos in las vegas too, as it turns out, but you don't have to actually go in any of them. there are no casinos in hilton head, but they have some big damn gators living there. freaking dinosaurs, as a matter of fact.

she got a call this week for an interview in new orleans. they may have gators there, i don't know. but they do have crawfish. lots of crawfish.

(to be continued...)

Rest in peace, Ossie Davis

Friday, February 04, 2005

Oh, what sad news. I'll let the New York Times article cover the details, but can't help marking the loss of this incredible man. One of the most natural actors I have ever seen, his great gift was his heart, which could be seen shining through every character he inhabited. His portrayal of Da Mayor, in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing was stunning. Amidst the heat and tension of that one day in Brooklyn, with hate flaring up from every corner, one soul wandered through the streets with his soul intact.

That he was a very active civil rights activist on top of being a barrier breaking presence in Hollywood, adds up to a life well-lived, an admirable life, an inspiration. He will be missed.

Bizarre Postscript

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ok. Queue the Twilight Zone music.

Yesterday, I referenced JumpTheShark.com and explained that the name of the site is taken from the Happy Days episode wherein Fonzie jumps his motorcycle over a shark in a tank.

So, last night, I was waiting by the phone for a call from a friend and uncharacteristically turned on the TV. Perhaps I was feeling guilty about the harsh words I had for the medium, given that I so rarely watch anything (see Comments for the Martha post).

By pure chance, or otherwise some profoundly important cosmic message that I have yet to decipher, the show that was on was a 30-Year Anniversary of Happy Days, replete with a reunion of the cast, hosted by creator Gary Marshall. Now, the coincidence in terms of my Happy Days reference earlier that day would have been enough for me to get a little creeped out, but this is nothing compared to what was actually happening on the show at that precise moment.

I swear, I'm not making this up, but the first thing I heard was Gary Marshall refer to the episode where Fonzie jumped the shark, but more specifically, he referred to the JumpTheShark.com website and defended the episode, along with the remainder of the shows that came after, claiming that the show never "jumped the shark".

What are the frickin' chances of that? Had I turned on the show a couple of minutes earlier or later, they would have been talking about something else. Or, what about the fact that my TV just happened to be tuned to that station? No matter how I slice it, it freaks me out!

Damn you, Gary Marshall! Leave me alone!

no, buffs...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

it's been...oh, a few years since i attended the university of colorado. during my time there the football program was atrocious and binge drinking was a serious concern.

kind of like now.

the social climate has changed a bit since then, however. for one thing, the first amendment doesn't seem to have the cache it once did.

and these days a tenured CU professor is on the brink of losing his job because some people don't like his politics.

in 2001 the professor, ward churchill, wrote a scathing assessment of the 9/11 attacks in an online essay. he opined that the attacks on the world trade towers and the pentagon were an understandable, predictable response to u.s. policies in the middle east and elsewhere.

while i disagree with most of the rantings in his essay, i think he had an interesting point of view. i can see how some would find his analysis persuasive.

suddenly, however, professor churchill has been targeted by the colorado state legislature for his opinions, and a firestorm has ensued.

the rocky mountain news says:

From the governor's office to the floors of the House and Senate, lawmakers of both political stripes fumed over what they said were the University of Colorado teacher's "anti-American, pro-terrorist" remarks that "justify" attacks on the U.S.

the denver post says:

The Colorado state Senate today joined the House in passing a resolution denouncing a University of Colorado professor who likened some victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks to a notorious Nazi.

The nonbinding resolution was identical to one passed Wednesday by the House, calling Ward Churchill's comments "evil and inflammatory."

Gov. Bill Owens has asked the university to fire Churchill, saying the school had legal grounds to dismiss him even though he is protected by tenure.

churchill has received a pile of hate mail in recent days, and some clever vandal spray-painted swastikas on his truck.

all of these folks, apparently, vehemently disagree with professor churchill.

quick poll: who's the better american, churchill or the people now trying to shut him up?

never mind, we'll come back to that question.

first, a refresher: the first amendment to the constitution of the united states declares that "congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."

as a result, americans have the right to:

Desecrate the national flag as a symbol of protest.
Burn the cross as an expression of racial bigotry and hatred.
Espouse the violent overthrow of the government as long as it is mere abstract advocacy and not an immediate incitement to violence.
Traffic in sexually explicit erotica as long as it does not meet a rigorous definition of "hard core" obscenity.
Defame public officials and public figures with falsehoods provided they are not published with knowledge of their falsity or reckless disregard for the truth.
Disseminate information invading personal privacy if the revelation is deemed "newsworthy."
Engage in countless other forms of expression that would be outlawed in many nations but are regarded as constitutionally protected here.

as public officials, wouldn't you think the governor and legislature of colorado would be aware of first amendment protections? they're elected officials, after all, and as such are charged with defending the constitution.

they don't have the latitude to defend the parts of the constitution they like, or defending it when they find it personally gratifying or politically expedient. they should know this, right? unless each and every one of them missed "getting to know the constitution" during their post-election orientation day.

the CU faculty, bless them, has issued a statement defending academic freedom and reminding folks that freedom of expression is a fairly important tenet of american liberty.

Today, the University of Colorado has been challenged again to defend the principles of academic freedom to a public that may not appreciate fully the essential requirements and benefits of debate and differing views in an institution of higher education. Professor Ward Churchill's writings contravene accepted thinking and community sentiment. Reasonable people may consider them controversial, offensive, and odious in some of the examples used; indeed, many faculty are themselves offended. The widespread release of these writings through the media has brought calls for censure and punishment of Professor Churchill.

The University, through its Regents and administration, must resist these pressures. If we stand for the dissemination of knowledge, of the freedom to question, and of freedom of expression, then we must protect all, including Professor Churchill and others, expressing the most unpopular sentiments. Anything less than an affirmation of academic freedom for all the University's faculty is an admission that we are not truly committed to the University's mission and philosophy.

at a meeting today of the university of colorado board of regents, lots of interested people were on hand to see what would happen next. some students were hauled off and arrested, and one of the regents, republican tom lucero, said:

"...he will propose a thorough review of all of CU's core curriculum and have departments defend their programs. He also said he will propose a way to terminate tenured professors through an administrative process rather than only through a faculty review." (Boulder Daily Camera)

Four Republican lawmakers went further, saying they will try to cut CU's budget by $100,000 to reimburse taxpayers for Churchill's salary. (Rocky Mtn. News)

let's get back to my question. this is america we're talking about. and, as americans, we've been told all our lives that we have certain inalienable rights and liberties (stop me if i'm straying from fact here).

you might say that as americans, we have a responsibility to help perpetuate and sustain those rights and liberties (unless of course the existence of the country as we know it has been based on a faulty premise all these generations).

so i ask you once again: in this little drama, who is the better representative of the american ideal, professor churchill or the people screaming for him to shut the hell up?

Martha Jumps The Shark

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I'll admit it. Every once in a while, if I was, say, laid up in bed with a bad case of flu, I'd flip the channels and come to rest on Martha Stewart fixing up some yummies in the kitchen. Say what you will about how over-the-top white bread she is, about her arrogant monotone, about the fact that she always seems one misstep away, say, upon dropping an orange zester, from going Satanic, as she does regularly on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, but the bitch can cook. She can hold her weight against Emeril any frickin' day of the year.

For that reason alone, I wouldn't say that her career in TV has, until now, jumped the shark.

For the uninitiated, JumpTheShark.com is a website that catalogues the moment when TV series outlive their welcome - when the quality takes a nose dive. The term "jump the shark" is taken from a Happy Days episode when The Fonz jumps his motorcycle over a shark in a tank, an episode that, many agree, was the beginning of the end for the hit show.

The question now is: Can a TV show jump the shark before it even airs?

Well, if I was to nominate a candidate for a pre-emptive shark jump, it would be The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

It's hard to know where to start on this. Reality TV, as a genre, is such a disturbing freak show phenomenon that I suppose one could argue that Martha's show doesn't jump because she's such a freak and is perfectly cast. True, but that would leave me with nothing more to write about. Wouldn't want that now, would we?

Don't answer that!

You gotta love this country. Commit a felony, host a TV show, make millions more dollars than you already have. The stint in prison will be a small blip for Martha, whereas for other, less privileged people it could mean the end of the road, a police record that will close doors on them faster than Donald Trump can put on his toupee.

I remember that when Martha was first convicted I had a notion that she was being made an example of, that millions of Americans lie and don't get caught. We cheat on our time sheets and expense reports at work, we claim fictional deductions on our tax returns, we make phony insurance claims, and we exaggerate personal injuries to try and make millions in a lawsuit.

But now I can't help reading about this new show, regardless of the fact that it was conceived of and agreed to by Martha before she entered prison, and conclude that this is one of the signs that a true aristocracy is alive and well in America. People like George Steinbrenner, George W. Bush, and Martha Stewart, can run afoul of the law and it won't harm them one bit. Their wealth, privilege, and influence are above the law.

Perhaps America has jumped the shark.

Missing: Yogi Berra's Funny Bone

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Just in case anyone was really out there, holding their breath, a permanent browser session open to Transcendental Floss, waiting on a post from me, I suppose I should apologize right now for what is sure to be an anti-climactic return to the blog. Gone are the promises of a review of U2's latest album. Gone, also, is a medium length post on the importance of parking lots in my life.

Instead, it takes an AP wire piece about Yogi Berra and Sex and the City to drag me out of hiding.

If you haven't heard, Yogi is all in a huff over his name being used in a commercial for Sex and the City reruns on TBS.

Here's what got him so pissed off:
The offending ad, Berra's court papers say, queried readers about the definition of "yogasm." Possible definitions: (a) a type of yo-yo trick, (b) sex with Yogi Berra and (c) what Samantha has with a guy from yoga class. The answer is (c).
Now, I'd be the first to say that it's not even a very funny joke. In fact, it's bloody terrible. But as good a ballplayer/manager as Yogi may have been, despite his overblown legend as an accidental Zen master, he very clearly suffers from having no discernible sense of humor. You have to be pretty uptight to be offended by that joke, to suggest that it "engenders a moral taint that has damaged his otherwise spotless reputation". Give me a break! He wants $10 frickin' million?!

I ask you: What has sullied his image more, that joke or his co-starring with a duck in AFLAC commercials?