David By Any Other Name
One Ring To Rule Them All
The Right To Bear Arms, Abridged
The Ten Songs On My Desert Island
A Question Of Marriageable Intent
Did Someone Say There's An Election Going On?
Who Let The Blogger In Here, Anyway?!?
10 December 2013: David By Any Other Name

My sister Elizabeth has a stock saying for folks that dare call her Lizzie, something like "I'm not an axe murderer, or a cow, certainly not a car..." and so on. A catchy phrase, definitely, although it'd be even moreso if she could put it to music - given how she can say it on autopilot with a certain rhythmic tinge (and annoyance). Fair enough, too, that she should tire of any presumption of altering her name, especially since 'Elizabeth' is the most bastardized given name that exists on the planet (well, possibly - my Google-ing only goes so far!). It's got quite a range, running from Lisa and Liza to Beth, Betty, and Betsy. Or Elise and Eliza to Lizard Breath. Okay, the last one is rather unfairly and uncommonly used under home rules, and never with bad intent, but still: There's really quite an impressive
array of names for Elizabeth(*).

Sadly, or at least to me, there's no such luck with MY pedestrian name, David. Nope, pretty much anywhere I go, it's the same ol' David, Da-vid, or D-a-v-i-d any which way the wind blows, and this even includes when the 'v' somehow turns into an audible 'b' in some languages or dialects. (To this latter point, in Spanish these very two letters are even called "b larga" (B) and "b corta" (V) in the first place, so this shouldn't be all that surprising.)

No, one generally doesn't rumble any further down the nickname trail for "David" than "Dave", and even THAT can be an unacceptable stretch, apparently. In my particular case, and over the many years it evidently takes to notice such subtle things, I've oddly found that most females refuse to call me "Dave". That's funny, although not necessarily ha-ha, as they say, since I always introduce myself that way. After said belated discovery, however, I DID decide on some research and, upon some review (i.e. I asked some women who unfailingly call me 'David'), I've learned the following: 'Dave' rings of a slob, or at least of some other such being which I don't appear to be. So I've been told, anyway, a back-handed compliment in its way to nevertheless refusing to call me what I like to be called.

Admittedly, there IS another general variation, the old schoolyard standby of Davy/Davey/Davie, but those forms of the appellation only seem safely appropriate for a child when not referring otherwise to a sailor of yesteryear. You just don't hear it, or you don't unless the person in question is an 80-year-old Welsh coal miner or something - and there aren't that many of those around anymore. So that's it: David, Dave, Davey.

But should it be? Just how do these variations on the naming theme get started, anyway, then possibly multiplied? More importantly, doesn't "David" merit the mangling?Let me here assert the following: YES.

For starters, this shortcoming of variations can't be based on an objective rating system of merit. Certainly it's the case that, by all appearances, "David" has garnered as many pages - or more - in the bible (the assumed source) than "John" or "Elizabeth". And why not? Aren't we talking about being the second head honcho of Israel, of better acclaim than the first? This is the same guy who slew that offensive right tackle of bygone days called Goliath, and with a freaking slingshot, no less!

And yet there's more! If you really want to go for all-out toppers, how about these apples?: Biblical tradition maintains that a direct descendant of David will be the Messiah and, according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew and Luke (Thanks, Wikipedia!), David is a direct ancestor of Jesus. SHAZZAM! And let's not forget his fathering that egghead Solomon(**), either. Huzzah! Sounds like our boy made his mark, I'd say. And wouldn't you? Need I even mention to any and all his world-renowned statue in the buff, complete with its tactful, modest fig leaf? Didn't think so.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that I don't understand my name's slandering by variation omission, even as - only in the last number of years - I've learned that the odd-seeming moniker "Daahoud" is one more. That one's from Arabic, with serious license in changing scripts, but I guess I'll have to make do with that consolation prize and run long and hard with it one in lieu of any other contenders. Although belated in its accidental discovery(***), it does afford some jib to the jibe of this slight I perceive although, for the record, I'd like to say that I'm not above "Dragon Breath" - said in the right tone of voice, with malice toward none and justice for all. How about Davinator, Davidovitch? Could I interest you in Davimus Maximus?

* In the interests of even-handed play, too, I'll here note that the (at least in) English standby for all that is common, John, has quite its own share of variety. I'm particularly partial to the fact that Ivan is the Russian version. Who knew?
** Let's here agree on opting to skip on how one of his generals was effectively sent off to a certain death in order to marry his (already-impregnated-by-David) wife Bathsheba, who bore the aforementioned Solomon - shhh! Let's agree to ignore such creepy biblical parts like where Israel's previous King, Saul, sent him into battle with a mission of "bringing 100 foreskins of the Philistines" where, naturall, "David brings back 200" was the result. Ew. On a lighter note, for some odd reason the King of Spades in French playing card decks is David - just throwing that out there. Again, kudos to the wiki-brain.

*** Finding out that "Daahoud" actually meant something beyond a weird song title came courtesy of some liner notes about the eponymous song found on a Clifford Brown album. Who's Clifford Brown? Why, he was the fabulous be-bop trumpeter who, in what is considered one of the great tragedies of the genre, died in a car accident while otherwise being one of the rare "jazz" stars of his day who wasn't a junkie. This discovery, by the way, provides infinite proof that it's worthwhile being the nerd who religiously reads liner notes.

7 November 2013: One Ring To Rule Them All...

Or one book does, which namely is generally considered the bible for the believers found anywhere in the "western world". Sorry for the misleading hook line, my hobbit friends, but blogs be show business and this be a troll of a different stripe!

Thus I shiftily slide over to bear witness to a cold day in November, where a woman knocks insistingly upon my door, hoping to spread the word. Sigh. I quickly cut off her spiel that is so greased to roll down the tracks, blurting out that I don't believe in religion. I tell her this politely, of course, more merely rueing my having opened the front door to a stranger when I should know better. She opts for one more stab, though, wanting to know if I "at least" believe in the bible, how it's the word of god. God only knows, I reply, inadvertently tossing her a bone while suggesting that many books may be so inspired. She sighs the sigh of the disappointed, the sadly let down, and trudges with shoulders down off of my porch.

Seriously, though, one book? Written by many hands centuries after the "facts", with notable contradictions even to those who revere and objectively try to study it? And knowing that, if this scene took place elsewhere in the world, the book would likely be different? Could we have a better proof of brainwashing, the putting on of blinders to what else is out there, than the bible-thumpers?

Mind you, I'm not saying there aren't some good things in the bible. I've read it, I believe twice cover to cover back in the day. Turn the other cheek, the Golden Rule... I'm bully on all that. The turning of water to wine, walking on water? Well, I'd love it if I could, although even I would say walking on a sea of wine would be a seriously unnecessary extravagance. "Just saying!", as we all say these days. Meanwhile, and certainly not be forgotten, there's always the Old Testament to keep things extra on the real and down-low: Whoa! Them's some stories! And that's even allowing that there could be some truth to them in there, somehow. No idea.

Personally, however, I'd probably carry around 100 Years of Solitude, given my druthers. I've heard of some who never leave home without it, even - which I've considered as well, if only to have a slice of literary grace at my fingertips whenever I'd like. (You can have your own such talisman - it's a free world, if at least only mentally.) Gabriel García Márquez's masterpiece is human, beautiful, and speaks to my emotions and sense of wonder. It allows for mysteries being out there, destined to remain unknown, with morals up to the reader to make out and decide on. I'm okay with that. Even better, I believe it.

But, best of all, I'm not going to come to your door to deny you the chance of discovering it on your own.

30 August 2013: Authors

For anyone who likes to jot down the occasional word, and especially for those who take the art seriously, we can't help but know that we scribble in the footsteps of giants. Some folks really know how to string a few words together, in stylistic, thought-provoking, nostalgia-inducing ways that can bring tears to our eyes in their beauty and poignancy. We clamor for ever more of their output.

Which runs into a problem when they are, like, dead. There's nothing worse than suddenly being enthralled with a writer's output, only to find that there's no more to come of their oeuvre. Kesey, Twain, Greene - we still get excited if we hear of some forgotten snippet recently discovered. Garcia Marquez, Vargas Llosa, Theroux, Naipaul, Matthiessen - we hope we haven't seen the last of you for a while! How disheartening when such outsized voices go silent.

Just as strongly, however, do I get excited when I discover a new author worth exploring, especially one who has a fleshed-out body of work. This year it's Richard Russo for me, who turns the mundane of small town life into something lyrical. I'll be sad when I come to the last of his published works - which won't be long - but I'm content to believe he'll be around for a while.

Similarly I'm happy to rediscover a voice I've forgotten. Carl Hiaasen recently comes to mind, he of the comic low brow fare that thrashes one and all who sully "Florida Lost" in favor of greed, corruption, and land development (which often is a combination of the first two). No, his isn't deep fare, and yes, he, too, should be around for a bit, but I've just plowed through the five "lost" (to me) novels of his, rendering the need for something new by him that much greater. Same with George Saunders, he of current The New Yorker magazine fame. I worry, probably needlessly, that I'll run out of such engaging voices. So it goes with the drunk with the nearly empty liquor cabinet, forgetting about the liquor store just down the street.

Anyway, good authors are what's on my mind today.

For further reading...
Gabriel García Márquez: One Hundred Years Of Solitude, The General In His Labyrinth
Peter Matthiessen: Shadow Country, At Play In The Fields Of The Lord
Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad, Pudd'nhead Wilson
V.S. Naipaul: A Bend In The River, A House For Mr. Biswas
Ken Kesey: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Sometimes A Great Notion
Paul Theroux: The Mosquito Coast, The Great Railway Bazaar
Mario Vargas Llosa: The Green House, Pantaleón And The Secret Service
Richard Russo: The Risk Pool, Empire Falls
George Saunders: Pastoralia, Civilwarland In Bad Decline
Carl Hiaasen: Double Whammy, Sick Puppy

22 April 2013: The Right To Bear Arms, Abridged

Guns rightfully have been the focus of a lot of discussion of late. To me, the question is why folks haven't been talking about them all along. In any other country in the world - literally this is true! - one can't walk around with concealed weapons that rat-a-tat out clips of dozens of bullets as quickly as one can pull the trigger. Apparently, with less-than-difficult modifications, one doesn't even have to do THAT with more than one finger pull. Criminy.

I respect the fact that the U.S. Constitution allows U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. Hey, there's no shortage of wackos out there with bad intent. But just as one probably couldn't have a cannon placed in the window well of one's house back when, we're not allowed to own hand grenades or bazookas now. Logically, there are and have always been limits to the ownership of weaponry since civilization has existed in closer quarters and weapons have moved beyond the caveman's club.

Like the vast majority of my fellow Americans, I have no particular issue with defending one's home with deadly force - if necessary - or hunting - if humane. These can both effectively be done with rifles and shotguns that don't squirt out rounds in rapid-fire fashion, however. Furthermore, this doesn't require concealment when you are already in your own home. I also assume, I believe quite correctly, that a deer is sufficiently spooked more by one's mere presence in the first place than whether said individual is sporting a rifle, handgun, or really big stick.

The root at this problem, actually, is paranoia. That irksome feeling of "if it all hits the fan", and not wanting to be on the losing side. A gun registry will surely lead them to us, runs one insidious thread of such thinking. The more generalized one is that one never knows when an all-out assault might happen at one's house. Can I sigh out loud here? Yes, I've got news for such radical thinkers: You're gonna lose.

Sorry, that's the facts. If big government is really out to get you, with its hordes of jet fighters, tanks, and amped-up soldiers fired up to get a kill as if life is a video game, all the deep clips of bullets and quick-firing weaponry ain't gonna rate boo. Remember Ruby Ridge and Waco? Most of the folks on the losing side of that battle obviously never will - it's hard when you're quite dead as a result of making a dangerous stand against your fellow citizens.

Indeed it's the case that a citizen will highly likely NEVER be legally allowed to own the kind of firepower need to defend against such an invasion. Or police action - it all depends on one's point of view and level of being spooked out by one's fellow man. Meanwhile, if the thinking is that a gang of nefarious individuals might execute an all-out attack on one's house, the reality is that - unless someone is living in a bunker with a secret entrance and alternate source of air - all the windows and doors simply can't be covered at the same. Eventually food runs out and the toilets clog, too.

Fortunately, the good news is that we live in something called civilization. The vast majority of folks you see every day haven't got a whole lot more on their mind than their job, next meal, or upcoming diversion to make our lives a bit more interesting. Yet, unfortunately for all such individuals, someone having the right to all that sophisticated weaponry increases the likelihood that - even if the owner of such is Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela rolled into one - someone ELSE might get their hands on such a nefarious stash. Therein lies the rub, as it's said.

So yes, we DO know about Sandy Hook, Columbine, the University of Texas tower and so on. These are the nasty exceptions to daily life. But, in speaking to the victims, or their families, one might think such events are worth a bit of diligence to avoid. I mean, sure, it'd be FUN to lob a grenade and watch it blow up. Fireworks are popular. But someone might have other ideas for that grenade, plus I can't be counted on to be sane forever or 24/7 vigilant in keeping track of my armaments. The least I can do is accept those simple facts.

2 December 2012: The Ten Songs On My Desert Island

The beautiful thing about the internet and blogging specifically, is that anyone can yell at the top of their lungs about pretty much anything. So, to stray as far away from politics as possible, let me indulge myself and knock you over the head with the ten songs playing on loop on my little desert island. Until the coconut drops from the lonely palm that keeps me company, falling on my head and killing with a smile as I listen to one of the following...

- Linus and Lucy - The tune that never fails to bring me up, a floating, happy groove with rolling ivories tickled pink in sheer mastery. The timelessly coolest song fucking EVER! Play on, Schroeder! (The slower version is better.)
[A YouTube video]
- Cantaloop, by Us3 (Hand On The Torch album) - The ultimate reworking of a jazz classic, this is a seriously groovy, funky, and - dare I say it - hip rendition of Hancock's Cantaloupe Island. Exemplary trumpet solo. [A YouTube video]
- Guantanamera from Los Heroes De Areito - Yes, the kitchen sink is in there, too. Cuba's all-stars take on the legendary tune, complete with soaring solos, chants, and whistles to the beat of son. [A YouTube video, by the worthy Celia Cruz instead of the stars of Areito]
- El Carretero, sung by Guillermo Portabales - The plaintive quality of this defiant, haunting voice of Cuban folk cannot be denied. This is the simplicity which makes Cuban traditional music so deep. [A YouTube video]
- Mars from Gustav Holst's The Planets - Unbelievably menacing, this conveys imagery like almost nothing else in classical music. The trenches of WWI erupt. [A YouTube video]
- 1812 Overture by P. Tchaikovsky - This one is so long that it's almost cheating, but for grandiosity and finality it's impossible to top this. There are even freaking cannons to cement the momentous point home. Talk about resolution! [A YouTube video]
- Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles - Somehow this is the most uplifting, happiness-inducing, life-affirming song ever. It gives me nostalgic goosebumps, too, a warm wave that concentrates itself on the abbreviated and Hawaiian part of my childhood. [A YouTube video]
- Chameleon by Herbie Hancock - This lays it down, and how. If you aren't moving to this one, you're fucking dead. Fuuuuuuuuun-KY! It's like wearing sunglasses at night, and indoors, for more than a dozen minutes. [A YouTube video]
- Going To California by Led Zeppelin - A thing of acoustic beauty by the band that is said, ironically, to have created Heavy Metal. The imagery is powerful, both overblown and understated simultaneously. [A YouTube video]
- The Sound Of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel - Melancholy, haunting, absolutely gorgeous harmony. [A YouTube video]

15 November 2012: A Question Of Marriageable Intent

One of the interesting "issues" of the recent 2012 U.S. Elections was gay marriage. Both the left and right pushed their side of the question: Should it be allowed or shouldn't it? Would this lead to people marrying their horses or dogs, or enter into unions of more than two people? Could allowing gay marriage lead to such a slippery slope? I dunno, but previously the issue had come up something like thirty-three times before various states (using different slices of verbage to essentially ask the same question) - and the answer was always no. Until now, anyway: Four states have finally said yes. Woo!

Hoo! This is all well and good, no? Progress? Equal rights under the law and all that? It sure seems so. In fact, my state was coincidentally one of those four and I voted yes for it as well. So yay for egalitarian me and all that.

Thing is, voting for it doesn't mean I felt good about it. No, I most definitely didn't. INSTEAD, I felt like something of a undeserving usurper to a throne of Damocles: How on Earth was I given the right to decide that which I shouldn't have a say in in the first place? That's by far the bigger question to ME.

I'm serious. What does marriage - a compact between two people, binding their futures together somehow (admittedly previously almost universally held to be between man and woman) - have to do with the law? Or my giving sanction to it in any form? What does mean to our greater, increasingly heterogeneous society at large? It gives one pause to think at times like these.

More importantly, I find myself wondering THIS: Isn't government supposed to concern the relationship between each INDIVIDUAL and our rights within the context of our neighbors' rights? How does marriage creep into this? Especially since, up until now, it hasn't even been all that monolithic, anyway? Since when have all marriages been equal?

I've seen a grabbag of them up close, but the variety goes up further beyond my limited circle of friends, family, and acquaintances. Certainly some (let's hope most) marriages seem to be between two equals, each compromising as necessary to make the union work for the longer term. That doesn't seem like something that would necessarily lend itself to being exclusively for heterogeneous couples, it's worth noting.

But in other marriages, and we STILL see these here and there in this day and age, the woman (seemingly always the woman, traditionally) has been equated to something of an indentured servant or, more accurately, a slave. The law only steps into such arrangements, however, when blood gets spilt and someone notices - hopefully. Furthermore, one doesn't have to look too hard abroad to find more numerous examples of the rough equivalent of a man clouting a woman on the head and dragging her by the hair back to his cave. It's THAT varied on this planet of ours, and some of those cavemen come to roost HERE. We're a country of immigrants, after all.

So let's not get caught up on this word, marriage, one whose strongest roots were actually almost exclusively of a financial nature until mankind's only recent past. This is even true of the traditional marriages of just one or two hundred years ago in the good old United States - a frightful thing to most of us modern Americans! Our popular culture verifies our general disapproval of such arrangements in spades.

So why is marriage codified under current law in any way, shape, or form? It's understandable, perhaps, that mention was made of it in the tax code in the form of convenience. But times change, and a country grows up some more to recognize its differences. Indeed, it wasn't that long ago that society didn't speak openly of "race"* relations or gender preferences. Even only now is our universally held condemnation of things such as child abuse a reality. (That our constitution held slaves to be 3/5 of a human only a couple hundred years ago speaks volumes, too.)

Fortunately, I think there is a simple solution: Remove marriage from our laws completely. Separate marriage and state just like church and state. There are all kinds of churches; There are all kinds of couples. Ironically, it's generally churches that convey the weight necessary to sanction the institution of marriage in the first place, anyway. I say let's leave it there. Let's restore the conversation of government to being that between an individual and the state.

As for marriage's technical details, those are simply addressed: If two people want to join their finances, they can write a contract or get a lawyer to stipulate precisely how this is to be done - including if the union should fail, if so desired. Beneficiaries can be named explicitly, as could visitation rights should one end up in the hospital, or even child custody. We fortunately already have the civic structure to accommodate these needs; We merely need to avail ourselves of it.

In the process, meanwhile, any church or social organization can be used to bind the spiritual union of people as they prefer and is permitted by that society of like-minded believers - just as the constitution allows under the First Amendment. We're so lucky to have such structures already in place!

So there you go. There's no need to put this issue on the ballot anymore if we just take it out of the necessary documents. Let's return it to the two people to whom it belongs to in the first place... and let people like me only vote on things that I should have a valid voice in deciding. While we're at it, too, why NOT allow three or four people to enter into such an agreement as well? As for marrying your horse, okay, I'll cede that point - unless someone definitively learns to speak horse language and can affirm that the horse is in on the deal as well. I don't know how the signature part of that contract would go, but I think that can wait until that first, lingual bridge is crossed.

Al-RIGHT-y! So... that'll be it for this blog's election-styled coverage for a good long while. Fair enough, too: We all need a break from the barrage of coverage, and I hope my dedicated readership of one or three will find it here. And now, for something completely different... stay tuned.

* I put "race" in quotes because I don't believe there is any such thing. There IS, however, racism - which is ignorant and evil, and which should be stamped on and stomped out with raised voices.

5 November 2012: 4:20

I'm looking at the clock and... well, I see it's not 4:20. Which, for me, might be odd. That's because I have an inexplicable habit of looking at clocks at precisely 4:20. Not 4:19, 4:21, or otherwise - and I'd notice it if that happened, believe me - but 4:20. Sometimes this even happens in the a.m., too - weird!

Yes, I'm quite aware that 4-20 is police code for a pot bust. Thus April 20th, not coincidentally, is "Get Stoned Day" for a certain segment of the population. Cute, if not exactly original. In any event, the only other such codes I know of are 10-4 (affirmative) and 10-20 (location) - which don't likewise lend themselves so interestingly to any particular behavior. Perhaps I'm being a bit foolish, but it doesn't seem likely that a "Yes! Day" is on its way to annual celebrations.

Ahem. Whatever the deal, it's odd that, out of some 60x12=720 choices, 4:20 seems to be my mentally-chosen time to look at time-keeping devices. No, I'm hardly a stoner, nor would I ever pass very well for one in the best of circumstances. This'd be true even if I grew my hair properly long - which I've done by laziness and inertia on occasion, conspicuously always accompanied by an increased appearance of birds flying above my head. They menacingly encircle me with hopes of occupancy in such a copious nest of luscious brown hair, undoubtedly. They're not fooled any more than anyone else would be.

Still, it's not like I've never tried the stuff. I have, and on numerous occasions that have generally failed to give me much of a buzz unless I co-fueling the weed with alcohol. I've hear that's a toxic mix, naturally, but it's only gotten me as far as the giggles... or rather that was the case until the LAST time. Oh, that!

Yeah, a friend of mine left some pot cookies on his table when I was visiting, advising me to try one if I'd like. They'd been left by his friend, an accomplished baker, and were artfully drizzled with chocolate to one side of each. They were such... small things, at best 1-1/2 to 2 inches wide in diameter. I was informed in no uncertain terms as to how they had been "spiced up".

This was all well and good, and my buddy took off for a bit as I sat down to write a bit on my laptop. Spying the treats on nearby plate from time to time, I munched on one cookie eventually. Yep, it was good, and I could taste the "extra flavoring ingredient", too. But being so small, I decided to have another. And then a third. I think I stopped there.

Some twenty or thirty minutes later my friend reappeared. "Hey, did you try one of those cookies?", he asked, smiling at me knowingly. Yep, I had, I replied, still with my nose buried in whatever tripe I was putting together to ostensibly call an essay. I'd chowed precisely three (or so!), I added... which stopped him in his tracks: "Three?" Oh yeah, three! Anything wrong about that? (Here I probably should've asked if I "bogarted" anything, but I of course resisted.)

"Ah... oh", he said hesitatingly. Then he informed of his own experience. He had eaten... TWO. After that, he said, he had to shut down his bong for a couple days as a kind of a reset button. Hmmm. This news flash was coming from someone that I knew got faithfully high about every day to the best of my knowledge (and furthermore could give a certain amount of scientific discourse on THC that's quite convincing in its breadth and depth). Uh oh. I had about another half hour of "daylight" at best, he next told me: "Get ready for a ride."

Which it was. Good god. I soon enjoyed the unique experience that would serve to make me HAPPY that I had had a previous worst experience with illicit substances. That was an ill-advised gobbling of mushrooms at a No Doubt (I know, but Gwen Stefani CAN entertain!) concert at the Gorge with some friends. To call that experience quite the mind mess would be an understatement, let me tell you. The fun hallucinations involving colors and dwelling on the beauty of my friend's wife who was teasing me (Yeah, I know that's üautber-horrible, but they DID divorce not that much later if that's to be some kind of consolation) eventually gave way to an interior dialogue that was, let us say, grossly unpleasant and scary.

ANYway, that rough road of a night served to make this "ride of the pot cookie" roll a bit more pleasantly. Well, not that much, but still: Time stood still, then it raced forward, then it stopped in jerky movements. Repeat, rinse, wash, repeat a lot more. During this temporary unraveling of my INsanity I'd ask my friends from time to time how long the fun'd been going on, to which they'd reply each time that I'd asked the same question about five minutes ago. Some hours of this joy went on before I eventually went to sleep to awaken to a shiny, un-stoned tomorrow. Whew.

So... what beings me to such a topic? Politics, of course. Oh yes! We have a complete legalization of marijuana on the (Washington State) ballot this coming Tuesday. Sure, the Feds technically will override a yes outcome with their jurisdiction, but the wave of the future (i.e. demographics) is showing that the proposition is already headed in the direction of legalization someday. I'm voting for it, I've long ago decided (for whenever such a vote would come up). Yep, ol' "Stoner Trip" is validating his moniker's prefix.

I hope you vote for it, too, should you be in a likewise situation. Shouldn't everyone should have the right to watch time stand still, and - more importantly - get a Get Out Of Jail Free card for such an inoffensive offense? As the argument goes, if cigarettes and booze are legal and taxed, why not pot? Or how about this angle: You haven't exactly seen a preponderance of hell-bent pot smokers in your lifetime, have you? Or try this one on for size: We're spending a hell of a lot of money and other resources to incarcerate people for smoking weed. Lives are more than simply interrupted by this, they are WASTED. What a tragedy!

Anyway, I'm convinced, and I hope you will be too. Not that my story above helped, but really: What did it hurt? And who are any of us to tell the next person what to make of their reality so long as no one else is harmed? Aren't we doing that every time we jolt ourselves with caffeine, nicotine, or booze?

So there you go. Legalize it, mon - even as I'll pass on the stuff m'self. In the interim, meanwhile, I guess that I'll wrap this earnest-if-not-necessarily enthusiastic plea up. It's getting to be about... that time.

27 October 2012 - Robama, I mean Obamney! Did Someone Say There's An Election Going On?

Actually, I really DO think the two contenders are quite different - even if the end result of what gets accomplished might not differ a whole hell of a lot in the end. Remember: It's congress that makes the laws. The president only holds the threat of a veto above their heads, said threat only truely counting on the serious side of things when the prez is of a different party than BOTH houses of congress these days. Which thankfully isn't true.

Okay it might be awfully soon, if the Republicans make any gains beyond the ones they made in 2010. That's when a President Romney would really scare me, pushing for where his heart really lies (which is deep in his pocket from what I can tell) and allowing the gravy to start freely rolling into the trough for his friends with no one in the way to stop them. And he likely would make the current Supreme Court even more of the precedent-breaker than it currently is, further upsetting the fabric of everyday life in the process.

But back to my main point, which might've been missed in the wreckage above. Where doth the candidates hearts lie? Hmmm. Lessee what the record tells us: Romney left college itching to smoke cigars and make a LOT of money, as one photo makes abundantly clear. His ensuing history agrees, with Bain a particularly illustrative (and demoralizing) example. Obama left college to shortly become a community organizer, trying to help poor people get a better shake. One might qualify these different urges as, well, different. Indeed.

Now, Romney may have actually come into contact with some regular folks over the years between being governor and a church leader. Obama, meanwhile has certainly added glizy friends in Hollywood who like the cut of his jib, too. But if anything has come out of these debates and campaigns in general, it's that those first steps out of the gate were the most sure ones to speak to where their consciences lie. I sure believe that both candidates want to promote job creation, but there seems to be an awful big divide on the taxes derived thereof both from employee and employer alike. One approach is to reward only the moneymaker, the other to reward both the moneymaker and the system that makes it possible.

Still... aren't presidents supposed to be like Romney, looking like that and actively angling for the position seemingly their entire life? Indeed, once upon a time, our leaders were generally the white guys who stood tallest in the room, usually with the most hair, debated as if freshly minted out of Eton or Oxford (or their American equivalents), back-slapped with business interests, then retired to their mansions to polish their silver spoon. Presidents, governors, senators, mayors et al over the years have looked that part in abundance. On the presidential level, however, Carter, then Clinton, and now Obama have come from grittier places. They've seen considerably more up close that other side of life that a great number of (sometimes truly suffering) folks have. The guy at the top is starting to look a bit different (if still male), and that appears to make at least some folks nervous. The times they are a-changin'.

As for me, I'm more worried about the have-nots than the haves. I'll admit that it's no coincidence that I find myself voting Democrat these days, what with the steady attempts of Bush and now Romney's energy being spent on treating capital gains far more nicely than paycheck gains, rewarding gambling more than hard work. The Republican party's message today seems to be "How can we help those have benefitted most from our society richer?"

Confusing this position is a rather odd alliance with a right wing that is defined best by the question "How can I impose my religion on you?" Yecch. This unholy matrimony, born of the Reagan years, has to end - and the sooner the better. A curious question in all this is evidenced, I believe, by the numerous rightwing-leaning folks I meet who "don't discuss religion or politics" (the two most interesting subjects there practically can be, by the way) and then vote to impose their religious will on others this way. How unnerving. Anyway, I'd welcome a stronger Republican Party if it's more like the one that came before, a fiscally-responsible preaching right minus the jihad wing it has today. A formidable opposition of that nature would be a GOOD thing, a proper check to the Democrat lean to spend more and give more entitlements than we possibly might not be able to afford.

To the issues of today, the outstanding question is whether the president's policies are working - or if it's worth taking a chance on a Romney agenda. The lack of details alone in Romney's hand-waving is a warning sign - "I know HOW to fix an economy" without numbers - but the details I do know, where the rich lower their percentage of contribution to thus ensure the less rich BY DEFINITION increase theirs, causes me to pause. The rich have been becoming the richer at an exponential rate for the last decade or two. The word outraging the streets, of 1% owning outlandish percentages of this country, IS revolting.

No, to me the answer is clearly on the side of the president. And I say that fully cognizant of the fact that he's not been able to be terribly effective. But congress does pass the laws, and there is a publicly stated opposition to anything the president will try. That doesn't mean giving up the ghost to impossibility, it just means that the sordid business of muddling through an economic catastrophe with an opposition that is unwilling to give an inch is going to make very slow headway almost by design. So be it.

To me this beats a Romney answer that just doesn't exist in any tangible form hands down. Ominously, too, the Romney of the primary campaign flatly has been contradicting the Romney of the last month or so of the campaign. No idea is fleshed out beyond saying "We'll be different people!" How this sells from the pulpit is beyond me, except the Republicans have been doing a great job of doing such things as co-opting abortion and gay marriage opposition as party lines for one-issue voters. They also blithely ignore the financial sins of having entered into two wars for the first time without raising the revenue necessary to fund them PLUS the fallout of the financial deregulation of the last twenty years that has mostly occurred under Reagan and Bush (W).

On social issues, meanwhile, it'd be nice if the right would admit to being a bit more socialist than they think they are. If someone shows up at the emergency room and isn't denied care, a nicely Christian thing to do one would rightly think, THAT'S SOCIALIST! So are the Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment and Social Security Benefits that undoubtedly numerous members of Republican families happily depend on. So why not be up front about all of us sharing the burden in the first place to some extent? That, by the way, is the very point of Obamacare (to ultimately cut out the middleman which renders U.S. health service so fiendishly expensive while acknowledging that we are all picking up the bill anyway)?

Lastly, the drum-beating on the international scene doesn't help anyone: We should be GRATEFUL that China hasn't dumped our debt IOUs they own. They've got plenty of problems of their own that are coming to roost without our help (ethnic disorder, corruption, censorship that is growing both more obvious and onerous, etc). Similarly, talking tough enough to tangle us in a war with Iran surely isn't a winner, either. Most folks don't even know that the U.S. is most popular in Iran of all the Middle East countries! I'm talking the citizenry, not the leadership. Yes, Iran's got its own mess, so why give the political leaders there the gift of a U.S. adversary that is so useful to cover up the internal disaster that will otherwise come to a head and create change from within?

Anyway, I don't think Obama is the better of two evils. He's just the only realistic choice. It's gonna be more muddling, slow progress. Not glamorous stuff. But I'll take that over a step backward.

My short list for improving U.S. politics:
1. ONLY allow for federal/state-funded campaigns, or only campaigns that are funded by small, capped amounts from individuals. Businesses are NOT people. This would equalize the playing field in numerous ways, removing corporate interests from baldly promoting a limited (and obviously biased) agenda and giving a poor man as much of a voice as a rich man. This would also allow more time for a candidate to put together a detailed message and meet more people than constantly having to fund-raise among those who already HAVE made it financially (which continues in office without let-up).
2. Do away with the Electoral College, which means such things as one vote in Wyoming being worth three in California (since all states get a minimum of one electoral vote regardless of population and the number of electoral votes have not changed to reflect population at all). OR at least remove the winner-take-all aspect of the electoral college for each state, making it proportional instead.
3. Make illegal the publishing of polls during campaigns, or at least ones about the ballot contests themselves. The campaigns can poll all they want for their information, just not publish them. These polls do nothing to enhance the quality of the election, instead promoting band-wagonism and posturing.

22 October 2012 - Who Let The Blogger In Here, Anyway?!?

A first blog entry - a first ANY writing - would seemingly need be propitious, bold. There's seemingly almost an expectation of an assertive mission statement, something more daring than a flick of a hat off a head or the toss of the same into a ring to mean business. No mere finger in the chest, we're talking a slap in the face! So herewith let me expound on... bowties.

I know, I know, it's much more trendy to rail on hipsters. They're fresher game, typically younger and vastly more visible. They're easily spotted in the bigger cities, where they naturally get more exposure merely by the sheer numbers of unavoidable interactions with them (however banal they might be, such as walking by one of the breed). Hell, nowadays they've even expanded into smaller, happening towns, plus made the frankly more derelict ones (think Detroit) more chic. Thanks to the internet, they're EVERYwhere! They're... so... POPular!

Oh, rest assured, they'll get THEIRS. BUT... from someone else. Why should I bother? Hipster-bashing has never been as in vogue as it is today. Similarly, the silk tie and Armani bunch aren't worth the breath of railing on much as well. If Gordon Gekko didn't cover that repulsive ilk of mankind well enough, who could?

So back to bowties. For the record, I actually own one. It's a black, rumpled thing buried in a box somewhere, briefly required as performance wear for a big band I played in on more formal-seeming occasions. Indeed, I probably SHOULD own a regular ol' black tie for the same reason - but I ain't goin' there unless I have to. No, the last time I owned any other ties was for my first job out of college too many years ago, where our old school boss (literally an ex-school marm) required us to wear the things. My co-worker friends and I joyfully burned mine in one of their backyards the day I quit after a few years. I've never felt the urge to replace any of them.

So now REALLY back to bowties. Why the hell does ANYone own a bowtie? Is this the 1930s, or 1850 for that matter? They're certainly no more comfortable than their other tie counterpart, which is notoriously crappy on the comfort scale of things. Sure, the history of how these pieces of cloth went from being bibs to fashion statements is certainly an interesting tale of civilization on the march, but... seriously? A #$*&^! bowtie?

Let's face it. We KNOW full well why someone wears a bowtie, just as we can peg someone who only wears J. Crew (preppie), low slung baggie pants (hip gangstah wannabe), Hawaiian shirts (irreverent and laid back) or dyes their hair purple (such a rebel!). A bowtie means inoffensive, fussy, intellectual - with ALL emphasis on the last word there. I'm smart! Serious! Thought-provoking! I won't raise a hand in anger, and I'll probably wear a cardigan from time to time just to prove it! So there!

Here allow me to barf. But please don't think that I don't like serious, thought-provoking, intellectual people who don't want to beat me up. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just don't like bowties. And that's what this blog is about: NO FUCKING BOWTIES! Mission accomplished?

Comments may be sent to I'll "publish" the more erudite, pointed, or poignant ones alongside any entries.

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