Friday, April 30, 2004

Short Rants

1) Is it too much to ask that when any cable news show interviews a member of the GOP, TeamBush, or the DNC for that matter to ask them to back up their claims. I've seen so many interviews where some pundit (mostly on the right) will just spout off some comment (for example, Kerry's medal/ribbon throwing) without ever being challenged as to where they got their information. That isn't being partisan, it's called journalism.

2) How can you pine for and then help orchestrate a unneeded war and NOT know how many American lives have been lost. Shame on you Mr. Wolfowitz. Hell you work in the damn Pentagon!



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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Welcome to the Soapbox

Welcome to my first interview. I haven’t figured out a fancy name to call this series yet, but I will. I have some ideas for another interview that I’m looking into. My goal with their interviews is to give voice to different people’s lives, idea, movements that I may not understand, know enough about, or sometimes not even support My first interview is with Robin McGehee. A few months ago, San Francisco started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. My wife and I were having some coffee at a local coffe place, the great Javawava, where we met Robin, her partner Kathy and their child Sebastian. This interview grew out of that encounter. (And I promise to put up a pic as soon as eveyrone’s schedule allows)


Q: These are the old chestnuts asked of GLBT folks: How long have you known you were attracted to women? What was it like coming "out?" Did your decision to be honest affect your relationships with friends, coworkers, or family?

Honestly, I can remember being attracted to women since I was 5 years old - chasing after the girls who were chasing after the boys - asking my mom if I could call myself "John Seville" because my teacher said only boys could "like" girls - so, my only way of becoming a boy in my mind was to name myself one. I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, so coming to terms with my sexuality was hard. I knew who I was and knew what I wanted, but getting it was a different story. So, I stayed very busy with student activities and such. Once I went off to college (a small Baptist college in Hattiesburg, MS, called William Carey College) I met a women, and as they say, "the heavens opened up." I felt feelings and emotions for her I had NEVER felt for anyone (well, that I would actually let my self come to terms with and feel). Coming out was hard because I was in the deep south and being different is HARD in the south. I continually thought of moving away and naturally the place I wanted to go was the utopia that Mississippians would describe as "where the gay people live, California." The moment I started looking at grad schools, Cali was first on my list. I moved to California and was able, with the distance, to finally be open and honest with my parents about my life. My parents reacted with unsettledness about my security and I lost some friend. Distance developed in some other friendships, but honestly I gained some really deep and powerful relationships in the LGBT community because we had each other to lean on and discuss similarities of our life experiences.

Q: How did you meet your partner, Kathy? How long have you been together?

I met Kathy through a mutual friend in Mississippi. She told me about the grad program at CSU Fresno, so I applied and moved out here and we developed a friendship, relationship and partnership. We have been together for 6 years.

Q: I first saw you at an Edwards rally here in Fresno. You had a sign that asked that you wanted people to honor your right to be married. Many on the other side are saying that this isn't a civil rights issue. They have said that there is a significant difference between civil rights struggle of the African-Americans and that of GLBT people; arguing that color is not a choice but sexuality is. Is allowing gays and lesbians to marry a civil rights issue?

It is absolutely a civil rights issue. Civil rights are federal rights and right now with domestic partnership benefits, I only gain state benefits. I am denied federal benefits and THAT is discrimination on the basis of religious belief of what is right and wrong. If many will read their history books they will remember that our nation is built on the separation of church and state. I am an adult in a relationship with another consenting adult. I deserve the right to marry and gain the over 1400 benefits that married people gain in this country by just getting hitched, whether that marriage takes place in Vegas, on a reality TV show, or in a sacred church setting. For over 40 years ago people argued the same thing about interracial marriage and it was discrimination then and it is discrimination now

Q: Vermont has civil unions, but not marriage for same-sex partners. In the past few weeks we have seen same-sex marriage in San Francisco and Oregon. Attempts were also made in New Mexico, and New York; and of course we are waiting to see what happens in Massachusetts by their May deadline. What can marriage do, but civil unions can't? How frustrating is it to you that a opposite sex couple can easily be married in any city in America, but you two have to see what courts decide as to whether or not any marriage you two may get would be legitimate?

Marriage can provide my family the federal benefits that it deserves. It also gives us franchise in the American way [of life] we are a part of. We deserve to have a formal process that validates our relationship. We deserve to have the right to go down to city hall, apply for a marriage license, and mark the importance of our commitment to one another. It's that simple.

Q: Has there been any attempts, that you know of, to try pursue same-sex marriage here in Fresno? I know, I know, it's laughable especially with Alan Autry and his conservative Christianity. How does Fresno rate in terms of being GBLT friendly?

I do not know of any couple going down to Fresno's city hall and applying for a marriage license. I enjoy Fresno, and I enjoy the climate in Fresno. Granted, I do live in the Tower district which allows me the opportunity to be more open and honest about who I am, but I have never felt the type of overt discrimination and hate that I felt/feel in Mississippi. There are times, when visiting Clovis [a neighboring city to Fresno –editor’s note], I feel awkward, but some of that is my own prejudice around a different environment than I'm used to.

Q: The Central Valley, especially Fresno and Bakersfield, has been described as the buckle of California's 'bible belt.' I know of two GBLT welcoming, or reconciling churches here in Fresno. How does your family's faith & spirituality play into your identities as lesbians?

In Fresno we have over 7, if not close to 10, open and affirming, reconciling congregations. There are more as you head out into the outlining areas. My family is very spiritual and considers our faith to be a strong foundation in our everyday workings, with what we do and who we are. I get really frustrated with people who believe that gay and Christian or gay and spiritual don't go together, or it's an oxymoron. I totally disagree. I am a multi-layered person, as we all are, and my spirituality and my sexuality only add depth into my soul. I know what my faith and my Creator says about my sexuality; and living my life any different from that would be denying the workings of the way I was built. I AM gay, I AM not straight. Trying to be straight is UNNATURAL to me, and going against what or who I was built or meant to be.

Q: Some time ago, I attended an education class at Wesley United Methodist. It was a gathering of gays, lesbians, transgendered, and straight just talking about their experiences. Nearly all of the GBLT people had negative experiences of the church, and yet there at Wesley they seemed to flourish. It made me think about the parable of the sower that planted seeds in different areas, and the ones planted in to soil produced healthy fruit. The members of Wesley UMC seem to be very active in community outreach to the poor and disadvantaged, many of whom are gay and lesbian. And yet, many Christian feel like you can't be gay and be Christian, or even stranger you can be gay, but you must be celibate to be Christian. How does that make you feel? Is it harder coming from folks that are supposed to be your "brothers and sisters in Christ?" Lastly, how much does your faith set you apart from others in the GLBT community?

It is very hard to hear that someone is judging you on the basis of spirituality. The bible, and any other form of religious doctrine, is meant to be used as a tool to spiritual growth. These tools were not developed to be used as swords, yet so often that is what they are used for. Many LGBT people turn away from the church because of the religious persecution that is thrown their way over and over again. It’s kind of like the analogy of the hot stove, once you get burned, you don't take your hand back to grab the burner. Those who are lucky find a spiritual community, such as Wesley, where they can flourish in their spiritual journey. Hopefully, over time, we will get back to the message of Christ and other spiritual leaders to “Love one another.” If anything, being a lesbian has helped my spirituality. I believe I am a stronger Christian because of my sexuality, not only because I am forced to analyze and justify my life through the works of the bible; but also because I have to find a higher power who gives me strength when some of my "brothers and sisters in Christ” can be so hateful.

Q: This is question I've always wondered about, but never found an answer for. Like heterosexual Christians relationship, the aim or hope is to save sex until after marriage. Do homosexual Christians try to do the same?

Another STRONG reason for marriage, because we are not allowed to have that formal validation of our relationship and not given that ceremony to call as a starting point to sexual intimacy. Many don't know where to start that rule. I would argue the majority do not follow this rule, but I also question where that
rule is followed by the majority in the heterosexual community. I believe that many times, couples are married in the eyes of the Lord (or, whatever term one uses for their Creator) before you validate it with a marriage certificate.

Q: I read in Christianity Today's sister magazine Marriage Partnership a short blurb that said that same-sex marriage is harmful to children. The gist of the argument was that the lives of children would be harmed by this "social experiment." Boys would not become Christian men and see a role for themselves in marriage, abandoning marriage for just co-habitation and what not. That same-sex marriage would create even more gays and lesbians. The arguments run on the assumption that: (1) Raising children in a same-sex marriage makes them gay or lesbians gay themselves. (2) Having gay children is somehow bad. Reading it, I replaced the word 'same-sex' with the word 'interracial', and the arguments sounded oddly familiar. Why do you think the church is so resistant to change? Will the church come around? Is the church too concentrated on the sexual act, and not the loving aspects of homosexual relationships? How do you respond to Christians who suggest that homosexuality is a result of bad parenting, or on personal choice not genetics?

I was raised by two heterosexual people, who only knew about and taught principles of a heterosexual life. I will not make my son gay or straight. HE IS what he is, and he will discover that definition, just as his Nomie and I did years ago. Our son is so loved and cared for, and that is what our society should be monitoring. Protect the children who are starving, who have no place to sleep, who are being beaten and abused. Allow my son the right and protection of being raised in a family that is given the same benefits of other families, benefits ONLY given by the right to marry.

Q: Some Christians are frightened that having same-sex marriages would later come and bite them on the ass. They look at the recent ruling saying that a Catholic charity now has to provide contraception coverage in their medical plan, and worry that someday the government will yank their tax exemptions, or take away federal or state funding if they don't allow gays and lesbians to marry in their churches. Do they have a reason to worry?

There are some catholic churches that WILL NOT perform marriages of hetero couples who have been divorced, but that same couple can go down to city hall and get a license with no problem. Marriage and the rights given under that name are not determined by the church, but the type of ceremony and where you can or can not have it IS determined by the church. There IS a difference; the Catholic church has more things to worry about than trying to keep gays out of the marriage opportunity.

Q: You and your partner have a son, Sebastian. Your partner told us the history behind your son's name, care to spill the beans? According to the myth, aren't you all supposed to follow Lillith Fair (when it was going) around like Deadheads, and listen to Indigo Girls 24/7?

PLEASE, I am a heavy-metal hairband loving rocker. Our son is named after Sebastian Bach, former frontman for Skid Row. Don't get me wrong, I love the Indigo girls, but I also love Motley Crue and Barry Manilow. An interesting fact, Sebastian Bach's birthday is April 3rd and our son was born at 9:05am 4/3/03, pretty rad, eh?

Q: Will you two be married this year or in the near future? What are your thoughts on why many consider same-sex marriages to be more as a threat to the "sacredness" of marriage, but not divorce?

We have already created a vow of commitment between the two of us. We will not go to San Francisco until the adoption is final with our son. We are concerned that if the right wing got really nasty they could bring in “breaking of the law” into our adoption proceeding and use that as a justification on why Kathy should not be able to adopt our son. As for the comment about Gay & Lesbian marriage being a threat to the sacredness of marriage, GIVE ME A BREAK. Last night I attended the SOLD OUT Britney Spears concert. This was a concert that had simulated sex on a stage in front of thousands of young females, young males, and their parents. This is a woman who married and divorced a man in 55 hours, yet FRESNO and our nation invest in her. We make reality TV weddings #1 shows, shows that marry people for MONEY. We have so far to go if we want to bring back the ‘sacredness of marriage.’ Remember, in the world, the majority of marriages are arranged. If we are going back to the sacredness of marriage, let's go back to how marriage all began. If you don't know how it all began maybe, you should do some research on that topic.

Q: I also find it particularly funny that some like to say that same-sex marriage ruins the "sacredness of marriage" and yet they tune in each and every week for these reality TV game-shows. Along the same lines, I saw an ad for a show where the woman tries to pick out the homosexual men from the heterosexual men. There's been a weird trend as of late, where gays and lesbians (predominately gay men as of late) are being cast more in more in roles that type-cast them or feature them as an obstacle to happiness (whether it be financial or what-not). Do shows like this help or hinder the lives of gays & lesbians? Is it enough just to be seen? Is it akin to a sort of gay 'Uncle Tom?' Am I wrong to like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy?

I love Queer Eye too, but I think everyone must remember that TV is just one unrealistic look at some type of reality. We don't all live like the people on "Friends", just like I do not live like the people on "Will and Grace" or "The L-Word”. I think that the portrayal of GL(BT) in TV is sometimes very much like the 'Uncle Tom' character, but we had to have the 'Uncle Tom' to one day have the Bill Cosby.

Q: Good luck with the adoption. Could you clarify a couple things, because I think that this goes unnoticed by a lot of folks. This adoption is so that the both of you can legally be the mothers of Sebastian, right? I may have gotten my facts wrong, but wasn't one of you actually pregnant with Sebastian? I know that this happens with some foster children that try to get adopted by same-sex parents, that it is often a long and difficult road to try to get shared (I guess the word some would use) guardianship of a child. AM I totally off the mark here?

I did carry Sebastian, and his father has released parental rights. Kathy is in the process of doing a step-parent adoption which will give her the same rights that I have. She will be the second official guardian of him. We have to go through this process which is very time consuming and expensive to insure her rights as his parent to take care of him should something ever happen to me.

Q: Having gone on record your love for the metal hair bands, have you heard of the British band, The Darkness?

I LOVE The Darkness. I first saw their video on VH1 and thought that VH1 had done a joke on hair bands. Once I figured out they were a real band, I went to Amazon, bought the CD, and was disappointed that most of the song on the CD were not like their first hit. I feel that pretty soon we'll take another musical turn back to the true bands of hairspray. I will be so happy to see men in makeup and spandex again.


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Weekly Lefty's Top Ten

Here's a list of stuff that been holding my interest and using up my time:

1. "Van Lear Rose" by Loretta Lynn Do yourself a favor and pick up this CD. Take off a few minutes early from work (make sure your car's cd player is empty), drive on down to your local Target (on sale at $9.98) or some other big box store. Buy this CD, unwrap it in the store, jump in the car, roll down the windows, pop in the CD into the CD player, and drive real slow home. Enjoy the CD, it's one to love for a long long time. All the songs are written by Lynn, and producer Jack White (yes THAT Jack White) coaxes out some wonderful music. This will easily make my top ten music buys of 2004. Tremendous record.

2. "True Love" Toots and the Maytals Here is this years best summer listening album. It can be hard making an All-star guesting record and make it feel cohesive and each track feeling valuable. This is a great album, and features collaborations with the likes of Willie Nelson, Bonne Raitt, Eric Clapton, Ryan Adams, Jeff Beck, No Doubt, Trey Anastacio, The Roots, Ben Harper, Keith Richards, and the kitchen sink (kitchen sink appears courtesy of Lowes). Get this album. It's reggae summer fun. The Bonnie Riatt song is one of my favorite songs. And you must hear Eric Clapton and Toots covering "Pressure Drop". Also the song with Jeff Beck will be echoing in your head for days. This too will make my top ten best of 2004. It's been in constant rotation between my home, car, and work. Do your ears a favor and pick this up.

3. 24 (Fox) A good episode, although I have to admit I thought the kidnapping would go down they way it did. This has been an especially good season for the supporting cast of 24, which reinforces my belief that Jack Bauer may not see another 24 hours next season. We are headed for the homestretch and we still have eleven vials of deadly weaponized virus spread around the country. Will Jack and the rest of the cast be able to stop the threat in time?

4. Rainbow Six 3 on Xbox Live This has been eating up a lot of time, and I've been having fun and slowly getting better. And every once in a way I'll find a server that doesn't have sound 12 year old kid swearing up a storm that would make a sailor blush. I swear that the only downfall of Xbox Live is putting up with these trash-talking pubes who make Quentin Taratino look like a country priest.

5. Centerpoint (our local gym) It's been a very hard week. On Sunday I weighed myself after not having done so in several years. Also I pinched a nerve in my shoulder either be sleeping weird or when I was working out, so I has a lot of pain and skipped the gym on Wednesday. Anyway, still working out, and hopefully along with my diet I'll feel better the next time I step on a scale.

6. Angel (WB) It's been a very good season. Just a few more episodes left, and then Team Whedon moves on to others things, but hopefully leaving the Buffyverse open for future returns.

7. The Complete Masterworks DVD by Tenacious D Borrowed this 2 disc DVD from a friend and just finished it. The HBO episodes are hilarious. Also check out the TV appearances, especially the Mad TV show performance with Dave Grohl drumming for the 'D. JB and KG rock the mofo house! For those with a weak stomach or aversion to depraved humor DO NOT check short movies JB's BJ, Butt Baby, and Rock Star Sperm for Sale. It's not for the weak of heart, but it still is very funny.

8. The Sopranos Much better episode than last week. Not only do we see a brief respite between Carmella and Tony, we also get set up for the ill winds sweeping through the crime families in the next few episodes. The human drama is the meat of this season.

9. 13 Going On 30 It's not remaking the wheel, but this movie was fun. I dare use the words 'heart-warming'. 'Pedantic' also comes to mind, but hey look Jennifer Garner! Delish! Oh Matt Ruffalo too. Fun for both genders. Make your 12 year babysitter jealous and see this film.

10. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken After finishing the Richard Clarke book, I wanted to continue with my brainwashing and read this very entertaining book even though Al Franken is part of the jewish cabal and the liberal conspiracy and will surely burn in hell. Please note the preceding sentence WAS sarcasm, but Anne Coulter or others of their ilk would just read it as proof that the liberals are a cult. Anyway, this is a fun read. Many thanks for my friend who lent it to me, he too is part of the liberal conspiracy and thus "hates America."


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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Hal-o-tosis (or) Return of the Jade Knight

Let me unfurl my geek flag and say that I'm very happy to hear that the silver age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan will be returning as Earth's GL this Fall. Geoff Johns, one of my favorite comic book writers, will be writing a mini-series called Green Lantern Rebirth (or something to that effect), which will bring Hal back to the land of the living and in possession of the Green Lantern ring. Hal Jordan was Green Lantern since the sixties, but in the 90s he lost his mind and became a villain. A new Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner stepped up to the plate, and Hal Jordan sacrificed himself. Later, Hal Jordan would become The Spectre, the spirit of vengeance. Yes, it's comic books. Yes, it sounds corny, but I'm eagerly looking forward to the return of the best Green Lantern there's been.

I do hope they keep Kyle Rayner around. He wasn't a bad character, and one of the interesting things about him was that he was, pardon the pun, still green behind the ears. After over 100 issues, Kyle grew into the role as GL. He has, IMHO, earned his right to the GL pantheon.

This news has caused a firestorm of sorts on the various comic book "news" sites (and blogs). Evidently shortly after Hal went crazy, became a villain, and then later died, a group of fans created a group called H.E.A.T. (which I can't remember what it stands for, and I'm too lazy to do a Google search right now). Some members of H.E.A.T. were stupid enough to threaten the writer at that time, Ron Marz with violence, boycotts, and what not until Hal returned. Evidently they didn't get the memo that DC Comics was: 1.) a business, and 2.) it's a freakin' fictional character. So H.E.A.T. fans have become a lightning rod for ridicule, which they do not entirely deserve...but they do make for an easy target.



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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Half-Baked Thought of the Day

It may be just me, but whenever I think of Cheney and Bush being coached on how to answer questions from the 9/11 commission, I can't stop thinking of the "study cram session" musical montage in the classic Rodney Dangerfield movie, Back to School.


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Friday, April 23, 2004

Weekend Liberal Coalition Blogaround (Part One)

And here is part on of what the fine feathered folks in the Liberal Coalition have been up to this week. Check out these blogs:

New World Blogger has a post on our "fair and balanced" news channel calling a Canadian newspaper a "far left" paper (maybe it's because only us "elites" can read?).

Steve Gilliard has a very good post on the death of former NFL player Pat Tillman. (Just scroll down a little for the particular post, or do what I do just read the whole blog!)

Archy wins the award for the strangest post about people signing an online protest against a fictional event. You gotta read it!

It's Craptastic has posted some of the photos of our Nation's sons and daughters returning home from a war we should have never had to fight.

edwardpig shows us that Bush speaks out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to protecting our troops with body armor.

More later....

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"It's a Slam Dunk"

With the tragic loss of former football star Pat Tillman fighting Al Queda, Taliban and Afghans in Afghanistan, you can bet that President Bush will attend his first funeral. Bush should have done so a long time ago when lesser known heroes gave their sweat and blood in service of their country. May you find rest with God Pat Tillman.

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Chris Raises His Hand...

I have some questions...

1. How come a Roman Catholic Cardinal says that politicians who are "pro-abortion" shouldn't be able to receive Holy Communion because they advocate the killing of fetuses (I think it's more about being pro-CHOICE rather than pro-abortion), but they give Holy Communion to soldiers in a war that even the Pope thinks isn't justified or holy? BTW, I am pro-life, anti-choice whatever slogan you want to hang me with, but I am for transforming our society in which abortion would be looked back on as a failed option for women.

2. Will the Allman Brothers play California this year? Please? Whipped Cream and sprinkles on top?

3. On page 135, of Against All Enemies, Richard Clarke says that they averted an attack on a gas storage facility in Fresno by a militia. I've been trying to find information about it on the web, but haven't found anything. Does anyone know anything about it, or where (short of a FOI request) I can find info on it?

4. Is the new Prince CD really good? Circuit City has it for $9.99 this week, and I like the funky video for his new song, but man I hated the New Power Generation stuff he did.

5. Will Warren Ellis be writing Iron Man? Does ANYONE know yet?

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Diebold 3: DieBolder (or) Dude, Where's My Vote?

It's good to see that California is ahead of the curve when it comes to computer voting. A state panel has suggested that California should avoid using 15,000 Diebold voting machines (see here) because of their poor performance. Our Secretary of State has also said recently that he doesn't want any voting machines used if they can't produce some sort of verifiable paper printout. I have lots of distrust of Diebold machines, their involvement with the GOP is suspect, and more importantly their security is compromised relatively easily. For more information on Diebold and how they can tamper with your vote check out the website Black Box Voting.

You know, being a youngish guy and a certifiable nerd I would love to have a touch screen ballot. I am a technophile after all, but until they make a machine that is beyond tampering I won't go for it. Personally I hate paper ballots, our voting district has those scantrons ballots, which I'm overly careful to fill in the bubble completely. Is there a way that we can use our CA Driver's license or state IDs as proof to vote. We could swipe the magstrip on the back, maybe even going to any polling place to place our vote. Oh, those machines would also have to have Spider Solitaire on them as well, is that too much to ask?

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Dirty Thirty!

Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday to my lovely wife. Kelly Brown turns 30 today! Feel free to leave a birthday wish comment for her. She says that all she wants for her birthday is a subscription to Classmates.com, seeing Derek Trucks Band on May 1st, and George Bush out of office. I think she has an excellent chance getting all three!

Happy B-day my Nerd Princess!!!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Lefty's Weekly Top Ten

Here, once again, are the Top Ten things eating up my time:

1. "Against All Enemies" by Richard Clarke -An very informative book which set off the Bush attack hounds a couple of weeks ago.
2. Links 2004 (Xbox) -Only in a video game could me golf scores be so low. Great courses, but whish the multplayer could use more than one controller.
3. 24 (Fox) -Okay last night episode was a "repositioning" getting all the characters ready for the 'end run' as the series rushes off to this season's finale. Once again, I wonder if Jack Bauer will live to see the final credits.
4. Kill Bill vol. 2 -I loved this flick. I'll probably end up seeing this a couple more times. QT delivers a multi-genre masterpiece.
5. Survivor All-Stars -Oh Oh, looks like my peeps are going to be voted off soon. The rumor list that was debunked some time ago has been mysteriously correct the lest few weeks. I so hope Boston Rob gets the boot.
6. Centerpoint aka The Gym -Still going at it, and even enjoying it (sometimes). I think this lifestyle change is gonna stick.
7. Randi Rhodes Show (Air America Radio) - I think I enjoy Randi's show even more than the O'Franken Factor. She is sharp as a tack, and doesn't back down from a fight.
8. Angel (WB) -Only a few episodes left. The season has been very very good, and I hear that we may be seeing a few TV movies next year. SO maybe, just maybe Team Whedon will still entertain us on the idiotbox next season.
9. The Sopranos (HBO) -Last weeks episode wasn't so good (felt like filler), but I have been loving this seasons episodes. It definitely feels like we are heading towards Act V.
10. X-Force (Marvel) -Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it. I'm reading the comic book series that Rob Liefield launched in the early 90s. It's not too bad, and I'm now into the series after Liefield and his copycat Cappulo left. It's been much better since.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Briefest LC Blogaround

SoonerThought has part 1 of a two part interview with Greg Palast, author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy". Part One of this MUST read interview can be found here. Great interview.

I hereby promise a longer Blogaround later this week.

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Red Rover, Red Rover is that ALL you've sent over?

A short while ago I asked how many troops the various nations of Bush's Coalition of the Willing were in Iraq. Surely this grand show of support for President Bush's attempt at the War Time President title belt would be overwhelming, after all Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction. Be afriad! Be afraid!

Anyway, many many thanks to Iddybud for finding the numbers of this strong show of force. Here's the numbers:

Iraq Troop numbers March 2004

1 USA 130,000
2 United Kingdom 9,000
3 Italy 3,000
4 Poland 2,460
5 Ukraine 1,600
6 Spain * 1,300
7 Netherlands 1,100
8 Australia 800
9 Romania 700
10 Bulgaria 480
11 Thailand 440
12 Denmark 420
13 Honduras* 368
14 El Salvador 361
15 Dominican Republic 302
16 Hungary 300
17 Japan 240
18 Norway 179
19 Mongolia 160
20 Azerbaijan 150
21 Portugal 128
22 Latvia 120
23 Lithuania 118
24 Slovakia 102
25 Czech Republic 80
26 Philippines 80
27 Albania 70
28 Georgia 70
29 New Zealand 61
30 Moldova 50
31 Macedonia 37
32 Estonia 31
33 Canada 31
34 Kazakhstan 25

*Troops will be pulling out soon

Wait a minute! The fine folks from Canada sent 31 soldiers! I get more help from Best Buy than we do from Canada. But hey at least we have the military might of Kazakhstan, all 25 of them. Next time, Bush says that he has the support of most of the world, like Chuck D says, "Don't Believe the Hype!" It's nice to see that Bush, hat in hand, will ask for help from the UN, perhaps it'll prevent a few more of our loved ones from returning this way. I think us Democrats had that idea a long time ago, but hey, we always ARE ahead of the learning curve now aren't we?


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Monday, April 19, 2004

24's Greatest Episode Ever!

Last night 24 aired a new episode which was supposed to air last Tuesday but was preempted by another work of fiction, the President's "news" conference (if there's no actual news, and it's just diatribes is it still news?). Sunday's episode is perhaps the best episode ever of 24. Ever. Maybe the best hour of television of any network. The basic synopsis is the President is being blackmailed by a terrorist who has hold of a deadly virus. Unless the President does as he requests, the terrorist will release the virus in different parts of the nation potentially killing millions. The terrorist's latest demand is to have a government agent killed and delivered to him in one hour. The show asks the hard questions. America as a rule doesn't bow to terrorist demands, but terrorists have never had the killing power of this virus. So does the President order Jack Bauer to kill this innocent man? By the end of the hour you find out in one of the most gut-wrenching, nail-biting scenes in episodic television. It shook me to the core, and had to sit quietly and remind myself that this is a fictional show. I am now convinced that this is the best season of 24...but I still think Jack Bauer won't live to see the threat neutralized . Only a handful of episodes are left, but they do a good job of catching people up in the first two minutes. The next episode is Tuesday at 9PM. I'm anxious to see what happens next.

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Friday, April 16, 2004

Where's My-My-MY-My-Muuuuuule

Well I'm off to San Francisco, by way of Fairfield and Brentwood. I'll be seeing Kill Bill vol. 2 this morning, and getting my ass kicked by Gov't Mule at the Warfield. This is their 1000 show, and promises to be a special one. Looking forward to it.

Addendum: Here's the setlist for the Gov't Mule show I saw later that night. For an excellent (although I don't fully agree with it) review and one hell of a good blog check out Tony Remembers:


4/16/4 (1000th show)
The Warfield
San Francisco CA

I. Blind Man in the Dark->Game Face, Birth of the Mule, Slow Happy Boys, Fool's Moon,
Bad Little Doggie, How Many More Years?->Higher Ground->How Many More Years?,
One, , When Doves Cry->Beautifully Broken->When Doves Cry->
Beautifully Broken->Thorazine Shuffle

II. Jam->Lay of the Sunflower->Cryptical Envelopment->The Other One v1->
Wang Dang Doodle->The Other One v2->Sugaree, Viola Lee Blues (v1 & v2)->Lovelight

III. John the Revelator->32-20 Blues->Drums,Bass,&Keys->32-20 Blues,
->Fallen Down, Mule->Third Stone from the Sun->Mule

E: Soulshine

Second set includes members of the Dead.
Third set includes the legendary funk-master Zigaboo Modeliste.

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

A Vote for Kerry is a vote against Bush

On the way to work I was thinking about the 2004 Run for the White House. This election is becoming less a battle of ideas and vision, and more and more a referendum on Bush's last four years in office. Ronnie Reagan used his famous line against Jimmy Carter, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" and the question is just a pertinent now. Are we as a nation better off now with 1.5 million public jobs lost since Jan 2001? Yes, unemployment is beginning to go down, but the job sector isn't growing in proportion. People have dropped off the unemployment radar. Was starting a war with Iraq worth the 700+ American lives lost, the thousands of American wounded, the thousands of Iraqi civilians dead, a multi-billion dollar deficit, and the growing threat of terrorism as our work in Iraq fans the flames of terrorists. Bush's line that Iraq was a "gathering threat" still rings hollow with our occupation of Iraq now over a year's time with no proof of those weapons of mass destruction. Could 9/11 could have been prevented if the Bush White House listened, read, and took action on the information in the Presidential Daily Briefings? What could have happened if the President would have instructed his A.G., the FBI and CIA to "shake the tree"? It sounds to me that a few folks at the FBI had pieces of the plane hijacking puzzle starting to come together a few weeks before 9/11, imagine if the President would have simply instructed them to treat everything as actionable events. We might have been living in a totally different world today. So was the last four years under Bush rule worth it? I don't think so, so while Kerry may not be our perfect man for the job, he has trust he'll be a BETTER president than we've had these last four years.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ramble On

Nothing too coherent today. I'll work on a Liberal Coalition later on this week, as soon as I finish some projects. On Friday I'm off to San Francisco to catch a concert. I'm seeing Gov't Mule at the Warfield. I'm pretty excited. Gov't Mule is Warren Haynes (guitar, vocals), Matt Abts (drums), Danny Louis (keys), and Andy Hess (bass). This will be the fifth time I've seen them, and this Friday is their 1000 show. So I'm expecting a little magic. I have a feeling that members of The Dead will come out and play, just because Warren is now in the Dead (at least this summer). Should be good!

I'll be taping the President's new conference this evening. I'm hoping it isn't as scripted as Bush's last new conference waaaay back when he was trying to con us on Iraq. (Where are those WMDs now Mr. Bush?) I hear that they will not be showing '24' tonight because the news conference, which is funny because both as fantastic works of fiction.

I'm taping the conference because I'll be back at the gym again. I'm really sore after last night's workout, so tonight I won't do as many sets. I've been doing a lot of upper body weight machines, along with lots of cardio (treadmills and bikes and a little water aerobics). Kel and I are closing in on a month of dieting and working out, and I'm pleased to say that I'm beginning to notice my clothes fit a little better. My wife says she's starting to see more definition. I can definitely see definition in my wife. Also, we are continuing to eat healthier, and I've noticed are portions are becoming smaller. So far so good.

There was NOTHING good on TV last night, so getting ready for Kill Bill v.2 I threw in Jackie Brown. Man I love that film. There's just something about Pam Grier that floors me, and the music is easily the best of all Taratino's films. I think my wife was annoyed by my 'typical male' responses by quoting parts of the movie's dialogue as the characters said them.

"Ak-47, when you absolutely, positively..." STOP!!!

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Monday, April 12, 2004

Beating around the Bush

I'm not a huge fan of John Kerry, but I'll be filling in his bubble on the November 2nd ballot. Our current president has had over three years on the job, and his biggest action has been his reaction to 9/11. He says that he is our "war president". Sadly we are involved in a war we had no business undertaking. In doing so we are losing valuable American lives, world opinion, civilian casualties, and have become a recruitment tool for Al Queda and other terrorists around the globe. Are we better off than we were four years ago? Sadly no we aren't. America deserves better than what this administration has to offer. This administration has ducked its responsibilities to protect the American people from attack before Sept 11th. This administration refuses to protect American jobs from being shipped overseas. This administration follows a narrow and frightening ideology that harms our environment, endangers our civil rights, and puts American citizens at risk. This must and will end at the ballot box in November. Let's create a better America, a better world. Let's get the word out. Let's get the new voters mobilized. Let's Roll.

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Thursday, April 08, 2004

Look! Baby Pictures! Awwwwww!

Let me introduce to y'all Joseph Allen Portela, son of close friends Steve & Lisa Portela. I'll just call him Joe-EL(a), because I'm a comic book nerd.


Here's Joe-EL(a) winking, obviously because I know his secret identity.


Here's a pic of Joseph and his proud papa.








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Tuesday, April 06, 2004

This just in....

Just got word that our good friends' Steve & Lisa Portela had a son born this morning. I'm no good with the details, but he is 9 lbs and 20 inches long and goes by the name Joseph Portela (they haven't decided on a middle name yet). I'll try to have a pic or two up tonight after we visit them. Congrats!

BTW, you wish Steve and Lisa their congrats at Steve's blog

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I Got Nothing (Top Ten List)

Not feeling much in the mood to get my feather ruffled, so here's my Top Ten of the week:

1. ABB 3/28/04 Beacon Theatre Yeah, the shows are starting to circulate. This fine show has some strong playing. I got chills up and down my back listening to Warren Haynes belt out "I've Been Loving You" with some wonderful horns supporting him. If you want/need a copy of this show, drop me an email we'll work something out. Did I mentioned if has an awesome Mtn Jam->Afro Blue->Will the Circle Be Unbroken->Mtn Jam? So good you'd think Attny Gen. Ashcroft would be against it (and for all I know he might be).
2. The Sopranos This season is off to a furiously strong start.
3. Arrested Development Funny, funny show. Reminds me of "Soap", but better.
4. Daredevil Brian Bendis is still finding new ways to explore the character, without resorting to the bad guy fight of the month syndrome. This is legendary stuff.
5. The Ultimate Yes I never really gotten into Yes. Sure I know a few of their songs. I was eyeing this collection for a while, and finally decided to pick it up. Wise move on my part, this is some great sounding music.
6. Air America The reason why I don't listen to that much music at work anymore. I've been enjoying the network via the internet feed out of their affiliate in New York. For some reason I still can't get on their thei rmain feed, but regardless I have been enjoying hearing radio free from that b-s the right spews out. I have enjoyed O'Franken conversations with Senator Clinton, David Kay, John Dean, and others. And Randi Roades get my liberal blood pumping. I eagerly hope that I can hear Air America on my local Fresno radio dial.
7. Bob Dylan Live 1964 The Bootleg Series vol.6 I like Dylan. His last bootleg series still knocks my socks off. I prefer his electric stuff, but this new "bootleg" (it's not really a bootleg if it's commercially released now is it?) is from his early acoustic stuff. It's nice and pleasant to listen to in the car, and has Joan Baez on it for the last several tracks. And what great liner notes. They really do a stand-out job on this series of releases.
8. The Daily Show Our HDD tapes the show everynight, and I've been enjoying watching these at my convenience. Jon Stewart has this disarming personality that makes him able to get good interviews (well most of the time, that Seinfield one didn't go so well) out of a multitude of guests.
9. Law & Order Criminal Intent Consistently good, easily my favorite of the L&O shows. I would shudder to think what this show would be like without Vincent D'Onofrio.
10. The Gym Been spending a lot of time in the gym. We know have a program we follow and Kelly tells me I look like I'm losing weight. I don't know about that (I haven't weighed myself), but I do have a little more energy.

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Monday, April 05, 2004

Ssshhh! Not a Peep out of you!

Being a librarian and a (stale) Peeps lover, I am obligated to point out this Peeps research site to you, that Laura at Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog posted earlier.

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Bringing new meaning to "Passion week"

Our friends, Steve and Lisa Portela are having a baby, their second. Visit Steve's blog and wish them luck. I think Steve is working on getting the ability to post pics, so I'm sure the pic of their newest tax deduction will be gracing his blog in the near future.

By the way, read Steve's blog. It's very good. I read it everyday (or everyday he updates it).

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Friday, April 02, 2004

I have a question, actually several. Please help.

Despite what I tell my wife, I don't know everything. I have a few questions, I hope that some of you "loyal readers" or occasional readers could answers (freepers, and right wing bigots need not apply):

1) How many countries are a part of this "Coalition of the Willing" that Bush keeps saying he has, and MORE importantly, how many troops these 'willing countries' are putting on the ground in Iraq?

2) What is the state of Ohio doing to safeguard their voting boxes from possible "voting irregularities" of Diebold, who promised to bring a victory to Bush in Ohio?

3) Is Warren Ellis going to write Marvel Comic's Iron Man? If not, who is?

4) Did the White House include fast food workers in the recent economic numbers under manufacturing, like they were considering doing a short while ago?

5) What movie should I go see this weekend with my wife? Hellboy, Jersey Girl, Dawn of the Dead, Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, or Ladykillers?

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Practicing Random Acts of Bush-ness

Just in time for April Fools, you too can emulate the actions of our great leader and his party, performing random acts of Bush-ness. Here are a few ideas:

* Go on Ebay and sell your comic book collection. After the bidding ends, inform the winning bidder that they are the winning bidder, but on further analysis it was determined that your item would cost an additional 35%.

* Go out to your favorite restaurant. Tell the waiter/waitress how much you liked their service, that you approve of their waiter/waitress program, and then proceed to reduce their tip.

* Start sending out press releases, and going on your local news stations to talk trash about a co-worker.

* Have friends over for dinner, and ask them to fork out $1000 a plate for hamburgers and hot dogs.

These are just a few ideas. Please leave your comments on how you or others have practiced random acts of Bushness.

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