Sunday, June 26, 2005


Having barely turned 17 when I enlisted in the Air Force, a 20-year-old seemed pretty mature to me. In my flight (see footnote) in basic training was a 20-year-old named Brown Chance. Chance was from northern Florida, the son of the town drunk. He had some mysterious previous affiliation with the military which he never divulged. Chance was so secure in his own skin that the bullies in the flight never messed with him or his friend. I became that friend.

Though I never again saw or heard from him after basic training, I owe much of my life to him.

He reminded me of an Al Capp character in L’il Abner called One Fault Jones. One Fault Jones had zipped into Dogpatch and asked Daisy Mae to marry him. He seemed so perfect that no one could think of a good reason why she shouldn’t marry him. Capp kept the story line going for weeks, each week demonstrating how perfect One Fault Jones was. Even L’il Abner had to concede that Jones was the better man. And so it went right up to the alter when it was discovered that the one fault of One Fault Jones was that he married a girl in every town he visited.

The one fault of Brown Chance was drinking, or so I surmised from our one shot at San Antonio. There was no booze available to us recruits in our 13 week training except in the 7th week when we were given a 12-hour pass.

Chance got us a bottle and a set-up in the patio of a restaurant where we whiled away a pleasant afternoon in a pleasant town. Later, in the street, he insulted the wife (“Your wife looks like hell.”) of a sergeant, got knocked out with one punch, leaving me to defend his dishonor, until it got broken up. “We” became legend in the flight for having beat up a drill sergeant who, it turned out, was a friend of our drill sergeant.

I digress.

Chance showed me the ropes. What jobs to volunteer for. How to take care of clothing. How to pack your backpack for hikes (empty cans gave bulk but little weight). And in general, how to adapt to a very oppressive situation.

He warned me never to loan money to anyone, then, later borrowed $20 from me which he never repaid, just to underscore the lesson.

He was behind me on the firing range when I ripped the heart out of my target. He lowered my score to ‘sharpshooter’ instead of ‘expert’ saying, “You want to qualify, not excel.”

Later I asked him, “Why not?”

“When they look for snipers, they only pick ‘experts.’ Do you want to be a sniper?”

He expected me to say no so I said, “No.” But it sounded pretty exciting to me.

“Snipers don’t live long,” he explained. Then he added, “Better you don’t tell anyone you can shoot.”

I took his advice except for one time at a shooting gallery in an amusement park. I showed off for a girl friend, winning prizes until the operator sent me away.

Near the end of basic training you sign up for the tech school you want. Chance chose the medics so I chose that too. Only problem was you needed a high school diploma to get into that school. That caused me to be ‘redlined’ at the end of basic training. ‘Redlined’ means unassigned.

Chance told me, “Go to basic Training Headquarters and find out what’s going on.”

I thought he was kidding. I was one year past getting expelled from high school and I was going to storm into Basic Training Headquarters?

Chance said, “Just ask them politely. They can straighten it out.”

So I went.

A staff sergeant there had my records. “Holy shit!” he said when he looked at my AGCT (Army General Classification Test), their equivalent of an IQ test. He indicated a large blackboard against the wall on which over a dozen tech schools were listed. “Pick one,” he said.

I looked for something I could use in civilian life. “Surveying,” I said.

“Okay,” he said.

It was a school that also required a high school diploma, but that was ignored. It also required trigonometry, also ignored.

I became a surveyor.

Thank you Brown Chance. I owe you more than I could ever repay.

Footnote: When the Air Force separated from the Army after WW2, they came up with their own names for units. A ‘platoon’ became a ‘flight,’ a ‘company’ became a ‘squadron,’ a ‘battalion’ became a ‘group,’ and so on. It seemed silly to me then. It seems silly to me now. They’ve done sillier things.

Friday, June 24, 2005


I could never be a movie critic.

From what I understand of the process, a critic only gets one viewing of a movie and often is working against a deadline. On second thought, I guess I could do that but the result would be mostly crap.

I’m in awe of someone who can view a movie and write about it the same day and get it right.

Some movies I don’t particularly like until I see them again years later such as Rueben, Rueben and Powwow Highway. My attitude towards these films changed because of changes in me. The first is about a philandering poet and the dialogue is brilliant. The second features a very effective story teller.

Many movies I have to view more than once to appreciate.

Which brings me to Popeye.

On first viewing, I agreed with most critics, meaning I didn’t like it. It was nothing like what I or the critics expected.

What did we expect? I don’t know, but it wasn’t that. The music was discordant and sung by nonprofessionals. They had some dopey, ramshackle set. The characters looked like a who’s who from skid row.

The film came on a movie channel which, as is my wont, is on 24/7 in my cave-like lair. Popeye got recycled several times while I was doing other things and paying little attention. The music started staying with me. I actually started humming it. When I finally decided to tape it, its cycle had ended on the movie channels. Luckily, it turned up on Bravo where I taped it, commercials and all.

And now, guess what, I think it’s a masterpiece, a work of genius.

The sets are brilliant, totally innovative. The casting is excellent. Robin Williams is just right as Popeye. What can you say about Shelley Duvall as Olive Oil? Has there been a more perfect casting in the history of cinema? Wimpy is dead on. The horde of character actors completes a mosaic of an offbeat, cartoon community. The baby who plays Sweet Pea has to rank among the all-time, top, movie babies.

The music? I confess, for a trained musician, I am slow to pick up a lot. When I first saw A Hard Day’s Night with its original score in 1964, I didn’t understand the music. That’s what happened with this movie. With repetition, I came to realize how good the music was, how well it fit into the whole concept.

From all this you can understand why I could never be a movie critic.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


This from Reuters by Patricia Reaney:

Women may be able to fool their partners by faking an orgasm but a brain scanner will catch them out every time, a conference heard on Monday.

"Women can imitate orgasm quite well," Gert Holstege told a fertility meeting on Monday. "But there is nothing really happening in the brain."

The researchers also found that the cortex, which is linked with consciousness, is active during a fake orgasm but not during the real thing.

They are now planning further studies to compare the male and female brains during orgasm.

About 5,300 delegates are attending the 4-day meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
Full story here by way of Yahoo.

“… there is nothing really happening in the brain.” I’ve known women like that, but why were they blaming me for not getting off?

Al last science has come up with something really practical.

If there’s a portable brain scanner I’d buy one if only I could think up a good reason for having it
with me in a single’s bar.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Police were actually able to track this guy down with only one little clue!

From the AP and the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

A man accused of holding up a pizza parlor left behind a job application with his real name and address, authorities said. "I would chalk it up to either inexperience or plain stupidity," Clark County prosecutor Frank Coumou told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Wednesday report.

Alejandro Martinez, 23, of Las Vegas, was being held Wednesday at the Clark County jail pending a Monday appearance in Clark County District Court. He faces felony burglary and robbery with a weapon charges in the May 25 heist.

Authorities said Martinez ordered a pizza and started filling out the application before displaying a gun and demanding money. The clerk handed over $200.

That’s some slick detective work

The pizza store manager said Mr. Martinez would not be hired.

Full story here.

Monday, June 20, 2005


This from Reuters:

95-year-old dashes to world best

Mon Jun 20,12:30 PM ET

A 95-year-old Japanese man shattered the 100 meters world record in the 95-99 age group at a seniors athletics meeting Sunday, organizers said.

Kozo Haraguchi splashed through the rain to clock 22.04 seconds in Miyazaki, southern Japan, slicing almost two seconds off the previous world record of 24.01.

Five years ago, Haraguchi set a world record for the 90-94 age bracket with a time of 18.08.

After rewriting the record books again, Haraguchi modestly said he had just tried to concentrate on not falling over.
Full story here. By way of Yahoo.

Imagine what he could have done if it wasn’t raining.

I’m going in training right now!

Do I have to wait that long?

I wonder if they check I. D.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


(About 3700 words)

I can’t write. Every time I get near a keyboard my mind goes blank. I’ve tried it with pen and paper but it’s the same thing. So I guess it seems kind of odd that I’m listed as the head writer of our TV show. Hell, in the beginning I was the only writer. My brother took a writing credit on the pilot but that was because the network would never sign up a show with only one writer.
Technically though, you’d have to say my brother was a writer. He wrote down the stories I told him. That’s writing.
My brother is the smart one. He’s the producer. He gave me a producing credit just to even things out, but it’s all him. I don’t know anything about producing or anything else except telling stories. He kids me about how inept I am, saying I need a keeper.
Once the network bought the series my brother hired some real writers. That was a relief. There was no way I could come up with stuff for a whole season. Just the thought of it would dry me out completely.
Working with comedy is strange (I was going to say funny). I can’t just turn it off and on. It just comes sometimes and never on demand. It’s not that I’m moody or anything. Sometimes I just get on a high and away we go. And it has nothing to do with drugs. An audience has a lot to do with it. Not in a club or like that. I could never do that. I mean in a conversation.
My best audience was a guy named Eric Gostenhoffer. He was a discriminating laugher. I don’t like an audience that laughs at anything. It makes it too easy. You lose touch with good, mediocre and bad. With Eric, it had to be good. And there was a big payoff. If it got very good, you could put him on the floor.
Eric was a writer on a syndicated science fiction show. All those guys are awesome. They can do more than one thing. To me, that’s awesome. Some of those guys could program computers or put together a TV set. One of them had a PHD and another understood electricity. I don’t think I could ever have anything in common with someone who understood electricity.
Comedy writers can do only one thing. If we couldn’t write comedy we’d be laborers or on welfare or something, objects of derision in the community. People laugh at our stuff so we live in Malibu and deride the community. Go figure.
I met Eric at a small party at my brother’s house some years ago, before our first show went on the air. We’d all had a few drinks and I started winging it about something that had happened to me that day. I hardly ever tell jokes, can’t even remember them. I tell stories, usually true when they start out, and then they gradually get more and more absurd until they’re in another dimension. I seldom know where the story is going when I start, but usually I get lucky and find a punch line. If you’ve seen our show you know what I’m talking about.
This night I was pretty hot. The audience really got me rolling. At the end of the story, I even came up with a punch line that surprised me and everyone else and it fit in perfectly.
Next thing I know, Eric is on his back on the floor laughing helplessly. My first clean knockdown.
There’s a rule in comedy: When you knock ‘em down, keep ‘em down. I bent over Eric and somehow came up with a line that topped the last and then another that topped that! All of this delivered in as vicious a voice as I could manage under the circumstances.
Eric screeched at each line and kicked both legs out stiff, six inches off the carpet before flopping them down.
A woman, I think it was his wife, screamed, “Stop it! Stop it! You’re killing him!”
Eric screeched and flopped again.
One of his writer friends came up and said in a put-on Dudley Do-Right voice, “Leave him alone when he’s down. Where do you think you are? This is America.”
Eric screeched and flopped again.
My brother, Jerry, who was always producing, called me early the next morning. “Did you get the stuff from the party?” he asked. From the beginning he knew how I worked best.
“I taped it as soon as I got home. “
“Great. Great. Did you get it all?”
There was a pause. I could picture that disgusted look. “What did you miss?”
“It will come to me.”
“What did you miss?”
“Only those last couple of lines.”
“After you got him down?”
“Can you remember what they were?”
“I was clear across the room. How could I hear anything?”
“It will come to me.”
“Tom,” he got into his lecture mode, “this is our bread and butter. That stuff was pure gold. We can’t afford to throw out the baby with the bath water.” You can see why he doesn’t write.
“It will come to me.”
But it never did. The story I told that night was the one about the overweight lady and the Jacuzzi. Even without the two cappers it made our best show that first season and would have won an Emmy if they hadn’t decided it was in bad taste. Taste, schmaste, it was funny.
Jerry spent thousands on tape recorders after that. He got me microphones in tie clips, lapel pins, fake hearing aids, cufflinks, you name it. They weren’t hard to get used to. I bugged myself wherever I went. Why not? We never lost another line.
I’ve put Eric on the floor about a dozen times since then. That may seem like a lot but it works out to about two times a year. We’d all get together pretty often so my percentage was pretty low. But being around him never failed to inspire me. It always brought out my best work. He was a challenging audience and the reward for putting him on the floor was getting material for one of our best shows.
Anyway, I told you all that just to explain why I have a tape recorder wherever I go.
Then the thing I really wanted to tell you about happened last summer.
I’m in Jerry’s office one day and he says, “I’ve got a little job for you.”
Jerry, see, thinks I’m mostly unemployed. Writing 5 to 7 of our shows a season, he doesn’t count that as real work. So to protect me from the danger of ‘idle hands’ he will think up little projects for me.
“Don’t get excited,” he said when he saw my resistance building up. “I only want you to take a girl to a Dodger game.”
That didn’t sound too bad. “Who’s the girl?”
“Her name’s Myra Glick But She’s Not Jewish.”
“That’s a long name. Is that Miss or Mrs. Jewish. I wonder how that translates into Spanish. I’ve suspected that those long Spanish names told something about the person. Like Consuela You’ll Never Know How Much Pain You Caused Your Mother When You Were Born Hernandez.”
“Maybe we can use that,” Jerry Always The Producer said. “You got the recorder on?”
“Sure. But I think I heard it somewhere.”
“So?” he said quickly, dismissing the subject. “She likes baseball. I got you tickets behind the third base dugout. You’ll be able to see the twinkle in the manager’s eyes.”
“Gives me a hard-on just thinking about it.”
“Don’t try to ball her!”
“I was thinking about the manager.”
“I mean it Tom. Her old man is big bucks spelt M-O-N-E-Y. He could back the movie deal all by himself. He’s come all the way from Chicago just to find out about this deal. Don’t piss him off by screwing his daughter.”
He wanted a movie deal bad. I was satisfied with our weekly TV show. Six months off a year during which I got enough material so I could coast through the other six months. It was about to go into syndication. How much money can you spend, anyway?
“Just be charming. You can be charming as hell when you want to be.”
“Yes Daddy.” I stuck out my lower lip in a little boy pout.
“And while you’re doing that, I’ll be charming the old man.” He waited the classic two beats. “Unless you want to trade places.”
So I went to the Beverly Hills Hotel to pick up the Rich Bitch. I was not in a charming mood. She was in one of the bungalows. Where else? She opened the door and scurried away. All I saw of her was the back of her head and the robe the hotel provided. The kind they encourage you to steal, for a price.
“Be with you in a sec,” she called as she disappeared into a bedroom.
I didn’t figure on seeing her again for hours, but she was out in a couple of minutes, blinking her eyes. The robe was gone. She was dressed in white. She was a pleasant surprise. Of course with a name like Myra Glick, expectations were not high. But she looked all right, sort of pretty. Her nose wasn’t quite right, a little too strong by Hollywood standards. But with her dough she could have made it perfect if she wanted to. One point for her.
“I just put some drops in my eyes so it looks like I’m crying.” She blinked at me.
“That would make a good country-western song.”
“What would?” She squinted at me through slitted eyes, like a snake.
“What you said. ‘I just put drops in my eyes so it looks like I’m cryin’ but I’m not’”
She stiffened like someone had fingered her butt. “That’s funny,” she said as if it were a great revelation. It would have been perfect if she had added, “I think.”
“Is it? Really? I have no idea. I have absolutely no sense of humor whatever.”
She came close and peered at my face, her head kinda tilted to one side, her expression kinda skeptical. “My father said you were a writer on that comedy show.”
“No,” I said, rationalizing the meaning so I wouldn’t be lying. “I don’t write. My brother does all that.”
“Aren’t you Tom Ferriss? He told me Tom Ferriss would be picking me up.”
“Yeah, that’s me. Jerry’s little brother.” Jerry was five years older and, at six foot four, was four inches taller. But I was a lot better looking. At least mom always thought so.
“I saw your name on the credits.” She wasn’t challenging me. It sounded like she only wanted to get the facts straight.
“Jerry does stuff like that. He can do what he wants. It’s his show.”
“Then what do you do?”
“I do what he tells me to do. You know. Run errands and things.”
“Like now?”
I shrugged, admitting it.
“You’re a gofer?”
That did describe me pretty well, sometimes. “Yeah, kinda.”
She kept her eyes on me, digesting that, not appearing to be too disappointed. Then she stepped back a couple of steps and spun around, showing me her outfit. “Will this be all right for the ballgame?”
I sucked in a breath. She was wearing white pants and blouse. The pants had a pattern of sequins around the waist. The blouse had sequins in front. The pants were the stretch kind, the kind that shows everything if the lady lets you see it. Some wear a loose blouse that comes down to the middle of their thighs so you can’t see it. I hate it when they do that. Her blouse stopped at the waist. She was showing one of the all-time great asses in a town of great asses. A tiny waist made it look better.
“Sure,” I finally said.
My mother always told me, “Tommy, look for a girl with character. Looks go. First they lose their figures, then they lose their looks. Their character, that stays forever.” With advice like that a man could stay single forever. It had kept me single for thirty years.
Men can’t fall in love with character. You can’t screw character. Who would want to? Character will give you a limp dick. Men will fall in love with what they can see. You can screw what you can see.
And there she was, all 5’ 8” of her if you included the two inch heels, with the prettiest buns I’d ever seen since the last time. They were youthful buns filled out just enough to leave no doubt that here was a grown woman. They cried out, “Touch me. Squeeze me. Kiss me. Bite me.” A tush man’s dream.
The arrow of lust had found my heart and a couple of other places. Had I really promised Jerry no fooling around? I’d better not play semantics with him on this. The deal meant a lot to him. It was going to be a long day. Look but don’t touch.
She had put on a broad-brimmed white hat and was checking it out in the mirror, stealing peeks at me looking her over from behind.
“Does this look all right?’ She twisted half way round and struck a sideways pose calculated to showcase her marvelous asset. She was teasing me. Women can sense lust the way animals can sense fear. I would have to be cool. Like a comic once said, a woman and sex was like a banker and money. If she thinks you need it bad, there’s no way in hell you’re going to get it.
“It looks fine,” I said quietly, which was an understatement because I wasn’t looking at her hat
“Is it time to go?” She was frozen in the pose, knowing what it was doing to me. I started to wonder if she was nothing but a teaser.
“I guess we could, unless you can think of something better to do.”
She paused slightly before shaking her head. “We better go,” she said.
We walked to the parking lot.
“Do you have any other brothers or sisters?”
“No, just Jerry.”
She didn’t say anything for a while. I knew what she was thinking but was afraid to ask. I saved her the trouble. “It was Jerry’s idea to name me Tom. That was his favorite show.”
“He was five when I was born. He thought he was getting a mouse he could play with like in the
“Yeah. It was a couple of years more before he found out he was the mouse. He never got over it. Stunted his growth even.”
“It did?” Her brow furrowed. She was genuinely concerned. This was going to be fun.
“Have you met him?”
“He’s only this tall.” I held my hand, palm flat, a little below my waist.
She turned her head away for what sounded like a small sneeze. When she turned back she was all wide-eyed innocence. “Oh,” she said. “The poor little thing.”
I suddenly got goose-bumps! She was doing a Gracie Allen! She was playing straight-man to my nonsense. “Don’t mention how short he is in front of him. He’s very self conscious.”
“I won’t. My goodness.”
When the valet went off to get my car she took my hand and leaned against me.
“I got the right brother didn’t I?”
I didn’t know how to answer.
In the car she asked, “Why did you say you weren’t a writer?”
“Because I’m not, really. I don’t write a word. I tell stories to a tape recorders.”
“That’s the same thing. Are you taping now?”
“Yeah. It’s in the dash.”
“Tell me a story.”
“Just like that?”
She came close and whispered in my ear. “You have no idea how humor turns me on.”
“There is a story I’ve been thinking about. You know baseball, right?”
“The premise is that little league mothers start running big league baseball.”
So I took off on that. She wasn’t kidding about getting turned on. On the whole drive, I didn’t get one laugh, but that was okay. The better I got, the more she’d moan and rub herself and rub me. The more she’d do that, the better I got. I drove right by Dodger Stadium once and started back. We were almost there again when I came to a decent ending. Not great, but pretty good considering.
“Turn off the recorder,” she ordered.
I turned it off.
She squirmed in her seat. “These clothes, they’re too tight. I’ve gotta get out of them.”
“Screw the game,” she said. “Let’s go to your place.”
About ten that night Jerry called me, as I knew he would. He got me as I was getting a snack in the kitchen. Myra was resting in the bedroom, as I should have been.
“You bastard!” he said.
When you get called that often enough you start wondering if everyone knows something you don’t. Close relations ought to be careful what they call each other. My mother once called me a son-of-a-bitch. I had to think about that.
“Where is she?” Jerry asked.
About two hours before, Myra had surprised me by asking, in a pleading little voice, “Can I stay?”
I nearly fell out of the bed in which we’d spent the previous six hours. “What about your father?” I was really thinking, what about Jerry? He’d kill me.
“I’m 23. I can do what I want, can’t I?”
“Well, sure you can stay. I guess. For how long? When do you go back to Chicago?”
“No, no. You don’t understand. I mean really stay.” She gave me a beseeching little look. “Please. I don’t eat much.”
Now that really got me. All my notions about her being a Rich Bitch were gone forever. The idea that the best argument she could come up with to convince me to keep her was that she didn’t eat much, that touched me deeply. There was no way I’d let her leave after that. Of course I loved the idea of getting into bed with that delicious little body every night and most days. That may have had something to do with it. And then too, I was curious as hell to find out what she was really like. She never seemed to be the same person from minute to minute. I knew she would never bore me. But the best argument, the killer, was the one I’d saved for Jerry.
“Where is she?” Jerry asked again.
“She’s here.”
“Dammit! You’re going to screw up everything. Okay, okay. There may be a way out. It may not be too late. Here’s the way we’ll play it. You take her back the Beverly Hills Hotel. You tell her father you took her to your place so she could try on some of your dresses. If she backs you up and you play it straight, that’ll work.”
“What’re you talking about? What dresses?”
“Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you. I told her old man you were gay.”
“It was the only way he’d trust her alone with you. He’s very protective. I had to tell him something.”
“Thanks a lot. Why didn’t you tell him I lost my dick in the war?”
“I could have, huh. I didn’t think of it. Anyway, get her back quick. The way I said, I think it’ll be okay.”
“I’m keeping her.”
“You heard me. I’m keeping her.”
“Tom,” he got into the lecture mode again, “this is not a cat that followed you home. This is a human being. You can’t just decide to keep a human being. Now just forget the movie deal for now. Just put it out of your mind. That’s not important now. We’ve got this other problem to deal with. Do you have her tied up?”
“No, no. It’s nothing like that. She wants to stay. It was her idea.”
“Oh. Well. That’s different then.” There was a moments pause. “Dammit! You’re screwing up my movie deal. Old man Glick will never trust me after this.”
“Why not?”
“Would trust someone who said his brother was gay when he wasn’t?”
He had a good point there. “Probably not.”
“See. So get her back to the hotel.”
“Jerry, listen to me a minute. Hear me out.”
“Okay, okay. I’m listening.”
“This girl, Myra, she’s a better audience than Eric Gostenhoffer.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line. Jerry never underestimated Eric’s contribution to the show. He sent Eric presents every Christmas. Once, it was a Volvo. When Eric asked me about them, I told him it was because Jerry was in love with him. I told him to keep the presents but pretend he never got them. Anything else would only encourage Jerry.
Jerry has more than a respect for the creative process. He has a reverence for it. He sees the hand of God in it. He’s probably right.
“Better than Eric?” he finally asked. I could picture him toting up the gains and losses on the deal.
“Better than Eric,” I assured him.
“Does she fall on her back, flop around and get spastic like he does?”
“Yes. Pretty much.”
“Shrieks too?”
“Sounds like you got a keeper there.”
“I think so.”
“Okay. I’ll try to straighten it out with her old man. Have her call him.”
“Yeah. She has to do that.”
Jerry lost his movie deal. You win some, you lose some.
Our show moved back into the top ten and went into syndication.
I got to keep the best audience I’d ever had. Talk about motivations and rewards. Better than that, Myra turned out to be a dear, sweet person. She always considered my humor an expression of love, which of course it was. She also took it as a form of foreplay, which it came to be.
Oh yeah, we changed her name to Ferriss. Glick just didn’t work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


A referendum in Oregon was passed by a single vote.

Here’s the story from AP by way of yahoo:

Wed Jun 15, 4:59 PM ET

Randy Way cast the only vote in a referendum on whether to approve a plan by the village of Oregon to annex 80 acres from the town.

Way cast his ballot Tuesday after filing a petition last month asking for the referendum in an effort to get the village to begin talking with the town about a boundary agreement.

Because the village agreed to discussions, Way voted to approve the annexation instead of rejecting it, which could have delayed the development of a cement plant in the village's proposed industrial park.

He is the only person living in the annexed area, and thus was the only one who could sign the petition requesting the referendum and the only one allowed to vote.

Town Clerk Denise Arnold printed two ballots, just in case.

"We gave him two just in case he read it wrong and made a mistake," Arnold said. "This is probably not the norm. It's pretty weird."

Three paid poll workers were required to be on duty for 13 hours for the election after town officials said they were unable to find anything in state law that would allow the polls to close early after Way had voted just 17 minutes after the poll opened at 7 a.m.

Way bought pizza for the poll workers' supper to show his appreciation for their effort.

"I hate to see them incur cost but it's probably worth the cost," he said. "It all worked out and I think it will be of mutual benefit."

Read here.

The Town Clerk announced the voter turnout was 100%.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


A few days ago this letter to the editors appeared in The Nation, one of Bangkok’s two English language newspapers.

I had previously expressed to them my disgust with the Bangkok Post for only printing anti-American editorials, opinion columns, and letters. I didn’t know what to expect from this newspaper.

The letter:

The US must face up to its torture programme

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Meyers continually claim that the United States treats its prisoners humanely. This despite all the evidence that suspected terrorists are being abused as a matter of routine.

Suspected terrorists are being picked up in Afghanistan. They are assumed to be terrorists until proven otherwise and therefore denied protection under the Geneva Convention. At Bagram Air Base they were shackled to the ceiling and beaten on the limbs until they “confessed” or provided information. Some were beaten to death. (See the Pentagon’s own report, which was exposed in The New York Times.)

The deaths were originally reported as being due to natural causes and no action was taken against the interrogators because it could not be determined which of several personnel who were carrying out the beatings had struck the blow or blows.

Many prisoners were then flown to Guantanamo and, on the way, subjected to a form of torture known as “sensory deprivation”. At Gitmo they were subjected to further harsh treatment, including beatings, being shackled to the floor in stressful positions and being deprived of sleep, food and water for periods up to 24 hours or more. (See reports from FBI, the Red Cross etc.)

After beatings, two British citizens “confessed” to being in a photograph with bin Laden; they were later released when it was proved that they were not in Afghanistan when the photograph was taken.

Some prisoners were to be kept indefinitely until the US Courts intervened, and the Bush administration set up a travesty of a trial procedure to determine whether they were “guilty” of being terrorists.

Then, despite all the claims by Bush, Rice, etc, that they do not condone torture, these kangaroo courts stated that confessions obtained by torture would be admissible as evidence. This according to a statement by Depute Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle. Is he calling Bush and the rest liars?

In addition there is plenty of evidence that the CIA regularly abducts suspected terrorists in other countries, flies them out aboard “civilian” planes registered to shadow companies and takes them to countries where there is no restriction on torture.

Of course all this was being carried out by a few rogue soldiers, and no officers knew what was going on. . . . But if you believe that you will believe anything.

Mr William

Chon Buri

That same day I sent this response to The Nation newspaper:

Regarding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Mr William of Chon Buri lists and believes everything that reflects poorly on The United States.
Is it possible he’s one of those America-haters I’ve heard about? Surely there are two sides to that. Surely not every report of prisoner abuse is true.

Not in his eyes.

But let’s assume that Mr William is a civilized man, for the sake of argument. I will list a few things that he and every civilized person will have to agree with.

First, the detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay is a terrible thing.

The 9-11 attack killing 3,000 civilians in New York was a terrible thing.

The fact that the organization that did it was based in Afghanistan was a terrible thing.

That the Afghan government would not give them up was a terrible thing.

That military might had to go in and unseat the Afghan government to get rid of the terrorists was a terrible thing.

That many terrorist and suspected terrorist are now being held is a terrible thing.

War is hell but it is not a war that the US started.

The irony is that I’m sure the detainees at Guantanamo Bay would much rather be where they are than in a Thai prison. I’ve seen the insides of a Thai prison. It’s not pleasant.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticizing Thai prisons. I think they are run correctly. Prison is not supposed to be a pleasant place. I’m sure that conditions in Thai prisons are better than in most prisons in the world.

The point is, with all the scrutiny the Guantanamo Bay facility has received, it is probably prisoner heaven compared to most of the prisons in the world.

Another largely overlooked irony is that under the Geneva Conventions, most of the detainees at Guantanamo could have been executed. They were combatants in civilian clothes. That particular article is in there to protect civilians, so they cannot be mistaken for combatants.

Walter Guest


That letter was not printed the next day. That is reasonable. They might need a day or so to look it over.

In the meantime I found this and sent it in:

Re. My recent letter:

An excerpt from MSM Today:

On Capitol Hill, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter (news, bio, voting record), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, displayed plates of meals served to detainees at Guantanamo, and insisted that inmates were enjoying the best conditions of their lives.

"The point is the inmates in Guantanamo have never eaten better, they've never been treated better, and they've never been more comfortable in their lives than in this situation," Hunter of California said at a news conference.

Full text here.

Walter Guest

There was still no mention in the paper.

In the meantime I found this and sent it in:

This from the US Department of Defense:
When there have been credible allegations of abuse they are investigated aggressively and individuals are held accountable for their actions.
Guantanamo is also a facility under constant external oversight and supervision. The department works closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and representatives visit detainees in our charge at their discretion. There have been 187 members of Congress and congressional staff who have visited Guantanamo to include 11 Senators, 77 Representatives and 99 Congressional staff members. There have also been some 400 media visits consisting of more than 1,000 national and international journalists.
The Department of Defense does not wish to hold detainees longer than necessary and effective processes are in place to regularly review the status of enemy combatants. More than 68,000 detainees have been held in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo and the vast majority of them have been released. There are only approximately 520 detainees in custody in Guantanamo.
While more than 200 detainees have departed Guantanamo, detainee releases or transfers are not without risks. There have been approximately a dozen former detainees who were released from Guantanamo and have since taken part in anti-Coalition activities.
Full release here.
Walter Guest

There still has been no mention in the paper.
We shall see.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Camera of Sean Penn, Journalist, Confiscated in Iran

By E&P StaffPublished: June 12, 2005 8:15 PM ET

NEW YORK Iran was rocked by bombings on Sunday, killing at least 10 and wounding more than 30, as dozens of journalists from around the world gathered in advance of the presidential election this Friday.
One of those journalists, actor Sean Penn--covering the events for the San Francisco Chronicle--was involved in a separate incident, and had his video camera confiscated for a time.
Several hundred women at a sit-in outside the entrance to Tehran University demanded rights revoked after the 1979 Islamic revolution. As chants and taunts arose, police and plainclothesmen surrounded the demonstrators, pushing away those trying to join the group.

Officials also cut off cell phone service in the area, and challenged reporters nearby.

In the process, they briefly seized the video camera of Penn, 44, according to The Washington Post. He had arrived in Iran as a reporter for his friend Phil Bronstein, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Penn was spotted on Friday with a notebook in hand covering a prayer service. He has also written about his visits to Iraq for the Chronicle.

One of the five bombs that exploded Sunday went off in the center of Tehran. The violence was the most serious in Iran in more than a decade.

That is as posted at Editor & Publisher.

See the headline?

Never mind the bombings, let’s get to the important news.

Well this time those darned Iranians have gone too far!

There’s only so much a man can take!

I’m ready to fight!

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Sam Brown, a student at Oxford University, was arrested, jailed, and fined for calling a policeman’s horse “gay.”

Here is an excerpt of the story by Roya Nikkhah in the Telegraph:

Mr. Brown, 21, a student at Balliol College, was arrested for causing harassment, alarm or distress and fined £80 after asking a mounted police officer if he knew that his horse was homosexual.

The student made the remark during a night out in Oxford where he was celebrating completing his English Literature degree.

The undergraduate had approached two mounted policemen in the city centre after leaving a bar where he had been drinking with friends. He was then handcuffed and taken to a police station where he was given a fixed penalty notice after spending the night in a cell.
(Full story here by way of NRO.)

It is unknown if the officer ever answered Mr. Brown’s question.

Mr. Brown did not say what gave him the idea in the first place.

Mr. Brown was not beaten senseless. Nor was he stripped and probed.

The horse had no comment.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Think about it.

The Yankees, the richest team in baseball, have a light hitting, middle infielder playing left field.

Tony Womack, a second baseman by trade, has been the regular out there for the last two months.

Before the season, many had questioned if his bat would be adequate at second base. Then they move him to the position that should be providing the most power for the team. That’s the way it works for most teams. It’s the easiest position to play so you can put a so-so fielding slugger out there.

Mr. Womack, is hitting .250 with an on-base average of .290 and no homers. In short, he’s a huge liability for the team in left field.

The Yankee General manager said today that there will be no changes made on the team.

In all of baseball there is no position easier to fill than left field except for designated hitter (which many rightfully contend is not a position). That’s because there are so many players who fit the job description: Lots of hit, not so much field. In the majors and minors there are literally dozens who could easily post better numbers than Womack. And because there are so many available, they come cheap.

Why they stay with Womack in left is a mystery.

While I’m on the subject of baseball, the deal of the year so far is the Dodgers getting Jason Phillips for Kaz Iishi. Phillips plugged a huge hole behind the plate for the Dodgers, giving them better than average defense and being on a pace for 80 ribbies. Iishi is a No. 5 starter for the Mets and barely hanging on to that.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Well here come the coked out caterpillars.

This by Dan Molinski of the AP by way of Yahoo:

A group of Colombian scientists believe they've found a way to wipe out cocaine production: unleash an army of hungry moth caterpillars. But critics of the proposal say the chance for "ecological mischief" is high.

The plan envisions breeding thousands of beige-colored Eloria Noyesi moths in laboratories, packing them into boxes and releasing them into steamy coca-growing regions of Colombia, the world's main supplier of the drug. The moths, about twice the size of a fly, are native only to the Andean region of South America.

Colombian Environment Minister Sandra Suarez told The Associated Press that the government considers the proposal an "interesting alternative" to existing eradication methods.

Carlos Alberto Gomez, president of the privately funded National Network of Botanical Gardens, made the proposal last week. He said the moths would naturally make a beeline for the coca plants and lay their eggs on the leaves. About a week later, caterpillars would emerge and destroy the plants by devouring the leaves.

Each moth could lay eggs on more than a hundred plants in one month, said Gonzalo Andrade, a biology professor with Colombia's Universidad Nacional, who has been working with the botanical garden group. He called it a natural solution to eradication.

"It would be like fumigating the crops with moths," Andrade said.

But the idea has already drawn criticism.

Ricardo Vargas, director of the Colombian environmental group Andean Action, contended that while the moths may be native to this region, there's nothing natural about releasing thousands of them into small areas. The tropics have the world's most diverse plant life, he said, so the moths would likely threaten other plants as well.

"With a plan like this, the chance for ecological mischief is very high and very dangerous," Vargas said.

Full story here.

I think they can do this without environmental investigations and reports and approval.

It’s halfway fun to think of possible consequences.

Coke-powered caterpillars threatening the world.

The threat moving north. And moving, and moving, and moving.

“Gladys, They're comin’ this way. They reached the Jones farm, two miles down the road.”

“My goodness. Should we pack up and get out of here?”

“I think we’ve got a bit. Junior’s startin’ college. When he finishes, we’ll see where they are.”

And the monster movies would have a literally creepy adversary.

Okay. Enough of that. It might cause a real problem and then it wouldn’t be funny.

Time will tell.


From The Financial Times:

During the past year, the committee for the defence of Mr Hussein, known by its acronym Isnad, has swelled to more than 2,500 lawyers. Some are Iraqis, led by Mr Hussein's head lawyer, Khalil al-Duleimi. But the majority come from Arab states, with Jordan providing as many as 600 of the legal experts. In Libya, the head of the support committee is Aisha, the daughter of Colonel Muammer Gadaffi.
And you thought the Michael Jackson trial was a circus? Wait till you get thousands of lawyers shouting, “Objection” in unison.

On the serious side, is this a reflection of the Arab community’s attitude towards this murderous monster?

Or is it just a revelation of the international amorality of lawyers?

Full article here.


This is a news flash from Yahoo news.

40% of Frenchmen would like to be pregnant.

An excerpt:

Maybe it's that mix of hot Latin blood and cool Cartesian intellect, or perhaps is just a collective guilty conscience.

Whatever the cause, nearly 40 percent of French men told a recent survey that they would, science permitting, like to become pregnant.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos and published in the current issue of Children Magazine (Enfants Magazine), showed that 38 percent of the more than 500 fathers of children up to seven interviewed by phone said they would like, or would have liked, to be the one to carry their offspring to term.

In the same poll:

…71 percent said they were prepared to "take a year-long sabbatical" or "request to work part time."
So they’d like to have babies and quit working for a year.

What’s wrong with that?

Don’t be so judgmental.

Full story here

UPDATE: In a related story 56.7% of German men said they’d like to impregnate Frenchmen.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


No one sets out to make a bad movie.

They don’t get together, ala The producers, and figure out how to make a movie that’s sure to fail.

So how come so many fail?

They screw up, that’s how.

I was watching a movie yesterday called Vibes. This is a very good half of a movie. A sexy Cindy Lauper (I wish she had made more movies), a good Jeff Goldblum, and a great, scene stealing, incomparable, Peter Falk.

The plot is excellent. Lauper and Goldblum are psychics with superpowers. Falk comes to recruit them to help find a cache of gold in the Ecuadorian mountains.

Falk tells lie after lie but, have you ever tried to deceive a psychic with superpowers? Probably

But they go with him anyway and we are off to a genuine comedy-action-adventure quest with great characters. What could be better than that?

Then they suddenly kill off the Peter Falk character. It wasn’t just downhill after that. That’s the equivalent of sending the movie off a cliff.

What the hell could they have been thinking of?

What a disappointment for the audience. They cut the heart right out of the movie. And probably cost themselves a fortune.

Oh well, life goes on.

There is another movie in which the same thing happens. It’s called Let’s Get Harry. In this one the actor is Robert Duvall.

Duvall plays a mercenary hired to lead a band of amateurs on a quest to rescue a relative in South America.

Duvall’s energy and stage presence carries the movie until they kill him off half way through it.

The scene showing him dead, his sightless eyes staring nowhere, is a perfect metaphor for the remainder of the movie and for all the money invested in it.

Here’s a good rule: Don’t kill off a charismatic character in the middle of a movie. (Duh!)

The plots of both movies followed the adventure formula perfectly until they derailed. Yes there is a formula and it has worked for thousands of years. It goes back to Greek mythology and it is quite simple. The hero is given a quest (underlined above). Usually accompanied by a ‘faithful companion’ the hero descends into the nether world to fight through horrible demons and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles. He emerges triumphant on the other side and is given untold wealth and is crowned king of the world.

Now isn’t that simple?

Go thou and do likewise.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Here is an excerpt from The Washington Post, of all places:

I don't know when Amnesty ceased to be politically neutral or at what point its leaders' views morphed into ordinary anti-Americanism. But surely Amnesty's recent misuse of the word "gulag" marks some kind of turning point. In the past few days, not only has Amnesty's secretary general, Irene Khan, called the U.S. prison for enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "the gulag of our times," but Amnesty's U.S. director, William Schulz, has agreed that U.S. prisons for enemy combatants are "similar at least in character, if not in size, to what happened in the gulag." In an interview, Schulz also said that foreign governments should prosecute U.S. officials, as if they were the equivalent of the Soviet Union's criminal leadership.

Thus Guantanamo is the gulag, President Bush is Generalissimo Stalin, and the United States, in Khan's words, is a "hyper-power" that "thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights" just like the Soviet Union. In part, I find this comparison infuriating because in the Soviet Union it would have been impossible for the Supreme Court to order the administration to change its policies in Guantanamo Bay, as it has done, or for the media to investigate Abu Ghraib, as they has done, or for Irene Khan to publish an independent report about anything at all. (Emphasis added.)
Read the whole article here by Anne Applebaum.

So Schultz is asking foreign governments to arrest and prosecute Donald Rumsfeld and other American leaders (including the president?) when they visit their countries.

How does that differ from the way fascist regimes deal with their political enemies?

It’s easy to dismiss Amnesty as a bunch of fools, which they are, but their silliness still provides fodder for naïve America-haters around the world.

The Bangkok Post jumped on the story immediately. Unlike the Thai people, the editors of the Bangkok Post despise America and all that America stands for and will continue to do so until Americans come to rescue their worthless asses and perhaps, like the French, even after that. So of course the editors of The Bangkok Post loved the story and published letters and cartoons that supported it 100%. As usual, they never published a single dissenting word. They never allow two sides of a story to be aired. In fact, if you disagree with them, they will no longer accept your email. Does that sound kind of fascist too? It’s funny how liberals morph into totalitarians.

The irony is that I’m sure the detainees at Guantanamo Bay would much rather be where they are than in a Thai prison. I’ve seen the insides of a Thai prison. It’s not pleasant.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am not criticizing Thai prisons. I think they are run correctly. Prison is not supposed to be a pleasant place. I’m sure that conditions in Thai prisons are better than in most prisons in the world.

The point is, with all the scrutiny the Guantanamo Bay facility has received, it is probably prisoner heaven compared to most of the prisons in the world.

Another largely overlooked irony is that under the Geneva Conventions, most of the detainees at Guantanamo could have been executed. They were combatants in civilian clothes.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


What a strange, strange occurrence all this has been.

Why did he wait so long?

Some say that not releasing them during the campaign cost him the presidency.

Here is something from USS Neverdock:

Then there is this exchange between Kerry and Tim Russert on Feb 7th.
Last week the 2008 presidential hopeful suggested he wanted to review his full Navy file to make sure of "what is in the record and what isn't in the record" before signing Form 180.
"I'm going to sit down with them and make sure that they are clear and I am clear as to what is in the record and what isn't in the record and we'll put it out," he told "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert.
Kerry did not explain his reference to "what isn't in the record," though questions arose late in the campaign about why he received his honorable discharge six years after leaving the service...

Even the most avid Kerry supporter would have to admit that was a strange exchange.

And now the records are released only to the Boston Globe, a newspaper that strongly supported his presidential bid.

The Globe says there is nothing new in the records but they would not let anyone else see them.

Some are saying Kerry was ashamed of his lackluster grades at Yale. He was a “C” student.

Compare that to me. I brag about never getting anything but an “F” in high school, including gym.

I feel there is more to come about this.

There has to be more.

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of all this.

Clarification: The more it’s explained to me, the less I understand.

The American Spectator tries to clarify here.

We’ll find the truth 10 years after his death.


WASHINGTON, June 7 (Xinhuanet) -- The United States leads in mental illness globally with 46 percent of Americans suffering mental disorders ranging from anxiety, depression to substance abuse in their lifetime, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

Doesn’t that explain a lot of things?

Monday, June 06, 2005


That’s the claim made on German state run TV station ARD.

Read the story here.

Another reason for the Germans to hate us.

Thanks to Michelle Malkin.


This today from the NY Times:

"There has never been an administration, I don't believe in our history, more intent upon consolidating and abusing power to further their own agenda," Mrs. Clinton told the audience at a "Women for Hillary" gathering in Midtown Manhattan this morning. "I know it's frustrating for many of you; it's frustrating for me: Why can't the Democrats do more to stop them?" she continued to growing applause and cheers. "I can tell you this: It's very hard to stop people who have no shame about what they're doing. It is very hard to tell people that they are making decisions that will undermine our checks and balances and constitutional system of government who don't care. It is very hard to stop people who have never been acquainted with the truth."

Mrs. Clinton described Republican leaders as messianic in their beliefs, willing to manipulate facts and even "destroy" the Senate to gain political advantage over the Democratic minority. She also labeled the House of Representatives as "a dictatorship of the Republican leadership," where individual members are all but required to vote in lock-step with the majority's agenda.

By way of NRO.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


That’s the claim made at this site.

Thanks to Wizbang.

Correction: That was a comment by Puddle Pirate on Wizbang.

Friday, June 03, 2005


My friend, Dave, he of the hippy persuasion, came over my place to hang.

This was in the 70s, in times just as happy for me as now.

Dave didn’t appear too happy just then. He accepted the cold beer without comment, but then just stared at me with a mournful expression. He was usually full of energy and excitement and stories and conversation.

I knew it was up to me. “What’s the problem?” I asked.

He gave me a disgusted look and turned his gaze to the garden outside the sliding door.

I wondered if it was something I had done. I couldn’t think what.

Dave was a daily visitor to my mobile home. We were an odd couple, I suppose, he being 20 years younger than me, but we hit it off.

I waited him out and finally he turned to me and said, “It’s the damn Beatles.”

Whoa! That was almost sacrilegious. He worshipped the Beatles. “What did they do,” I asked.

“They wrote this song I wanted to write.”

Dave was what you’d call a natural musician. He played both the piano and guitar without ever taking lessons. He was a wannabe singer-songwriter.

“What song is that?”

“That song about the long lonesome road. I wanna write that song but they already wrote it. I’ve always wanted to do a song about walking down a lonesome road.”

That was my opening. I knew how to bring him out of it. “Are you aware,” I started, in my best lecturing voice, “that the long lonesome road is a metaphor for life? Are you aware that a young man making philosophical references to the tribulations of life might seem out of place to some people? Are you aware---”

He held up both hands to stop me. His head was tilted to one side and he had a half smile. His eyes were sparkling.

“Are you aware,” he mimicked my delivery, “how full of shit you are?”

He knew I was setting him up for that. We both laughed. He was out of his funk. But just as quickly he went right back into it.

“I’m serious, man,” he said. “They already wrote the song. That’s the song I wanted to write.”

“Write another song. Every 18 year old rock singer writes about the long lonesome road. Chicks go for that crap. There are more songs about long lonesome roads than there are long lonesome roads. If everyone who wrote about ‘em would actually go on one, the lonesome roads would be pretty crowded. There’s be rock singers marching down ‘em 5 abreast. A guy could make a fortune renting out a long lonesome road for rock singers to walk down.”

His withering look told me he was not amused. He took a long gulp of beer and said, “It’s not just that one, man. They wrote everything.”

“Whaddya mean?”

“Look at the Beatle song book. Every song is on there. They already wrote everything. There’s nothing left.”

“You’re crazy. They didn’t write everything.”

“No. Not just them. I know that, man. They didn’t write ‘em all. But all the great songs are already written.”

“How do you figure that.”

“Well, you think about it. You name me one great song that’s not already written.’

He had me there. That was tough one. I decided to fake it. “How about Dancing in the Dark?” I was pretty sure he wouldn’t know that one.

He stared at me suspiciously. “Oh yeah?” he said. “How does it go?”

Without thinking, I whistled a few bars.

“Hah!” he chortled. “You bastard! If it hasn’t been written, how come you know how it goes?”

He had me there. He was too smart for me. “You caught me,” I said.

“See?” he said. “Go ahead. Name another one.”

I tried but I couldn’t think of any. Finally, I blurted out, “Holding You in the Moonlight.”

I got that suspicious stare again. “How does it go?” he asked.

“I don’t know how it goes. It hasn’t been written yet.”

“Hah!” he chortled again. “Then how do you know it’s great?”

He had me again.

I got us a couple more cold ones.

We drank in silence.

He was right, all the great songs had been written.

Suddenly, I was depressed too.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


No, I'm serious. That's not the name of a funny movie or a sitcom.

This is one for people who don’t like opera. I’ve done that test . You try it.

Try Rossini’s The Italian Girl in Algiers.

Okay, I’m a lowbrow. But I know what I like and this one is great at first contact and wears well.

I could listen to it every day. The finale to act one is the equal to anything in any opera. The overture is familiar to anyone who listens to classical music stations.

In the interest of full disclosure I should say there is no part in the opera I could currently sing. My range has slid down to baritone while retaining tenor quality. A horrible predicament once shared by Mario Lanza and Eddie Fisher except they found uses for it.