Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Snow Lands in the White House

Unbelievable. Bush hasn't done enough to alienate the American people. Now, he's appointing Tony Snow, from the Fox News Channel ("We Distort, You Decide") to be his new press secretary.

As many trying-to-be-evenhanded journalists have noted, just because Snow made his living on Fox doesn't mean he's always been a fan of the Prez. Media Matters has looked over some of his past shows and columns, and has come up with a fun list of questions for Snow's first appearance in front of the WH Press Corps:
  • Do you still think President Bush is a "wimp" and looks "impotent" for not "veto[ing] a single bill of any type"?
  • With the failure of Harriet Miers' Supreme Court nomination, do you consider Bush's presidency effectively over?
  • Will you pursue amicable relations with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), even though he "behave[s] in such an inane manner," and "made official his descent into the Moonbat Grotto"?
Check it out here.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The New Rules of Driving

I'm sorry if you're following me. But I'm in the slow lane. I'm not going to speed up, so you might as well pass me.

I'm not going to speed up, unless it looks like I might miss the next traffic light. Then I'm going to floor it - but gingerly, gradually, because I don't want to wake my passenger.

That's the thing. Oliver's in the back seat. Asleep. His head is slumped down, his chin in his chest, his lower lip moving softly with every breath. And so I'm going to do everything I can to keep him asleep. That means I'm not going to stop this car for the next hour. At all. So you probably better just go around me, because this won't be much fun for you otherwise.

Why is he asleep? Sometimes he just conks out on the way back from a distant location. Sometimes, I'll admit, I know he's been awake for three hours and he'll fall asleep on the way home, and I take him out anyway because I want him to sleep in the car. Naps get tiring for me, and sometimes I'll admit I need a break. I want him to sleep without me having to bounce him for fifteen minutes, without the sudden wakeups after thirty minutes. So we drive around town.

If you're behind me, you should be warned that I'm going to coast through stop signs. Oh, sure, it'll look like I stopped, but if you study it closely - if you videotape the intersection and then play it back in slo-mo - you'd realize that I merely downshifted to first gear, and slowed down to a near-stop. I paused, just long enough for the momentum of the car to shift slightly, almost imperceptibly, and then we're off again. The car never stopped. The baby's still asleep.

Stop lights are, of course, a particular hazard, but I've figured out the secret. I watch the walk signals. If I see the walking man, then we're in the clear - I can proceed at a normal rate of speed. Unless we're too far away. Then, I'm going to lean on the gas, just a bit. And possibly switch lanes, if I need it. I will not miss that light.

And if I see red on the crosswalk sign, watch out. I'm going to gun it. Not shift gears. I'll just gently rev it up until we're going fast enough to make the light. If it's yellow, I'm not going to stop. And if it turns red just when I'm going under ... well, I'm just going to have to explain it to the cop while my kid screams in the back seat.

If, god forbid. we actually hit a red light, I'm not going to stop. I'm not going to go through it, mind you - that would be dangerous. But I'm going to do everything in my power to keep the car from actually coming to a complete stop. So I'll downshift gently, one gear at a time, slowing down very gradually - the trick here is change speed so slowly as to make the word "gradually" seem like reckless abandon. A bit more. Just a bit more. Now we're in first gear, and I'm coming up on the car ahead of me. So now I'm going to take the car out of gear, and coast in neutral at microspeed. We're still moving, but at a snail's pace. Rolling. We're drifting toward the other car now, breathtakingly slow, but we're still moving. A second more - only a few feet more before the car ahead of me forces me to hit the brakes. Come on. Just a second more.

And ... the light turns green.

As the car ahead of me accelerates, I slip the car back into first gear and tap the gas. And we're moving again. Never stopped. See how nicely that worked?

So if you're behind me, I'm going to look like a driver grappling with indecision. Speed up. Slow down. Switch lanes, then switch back. Creepy-crawl up behind other cars at intersections. I'm constantly watching fifteen blocks ahead of me, and my eyes are also constantly scanning my rearview mirror, in which I can see his rearview mirror, the one that faces him in the backseat. I watch his face for any sign of motion, the slightest blink of an eye, the slightest grimace. I'm constantly looking backwards and forwards while driving. It's tricky, but I've gotten used to it.

You really should just get around me. I'm just driving around and around in a giant circle, up and around Alki Point, down 35th, down around the ferry dock. I'm not actually going anywhere, unlike you. So you'll probably get impatient, and maybe you'll want to lean on your horn a little. (Please don't.) Just go around. Because I'm going to be driving like this for as long as I have to, as long as that little boy's asleep in my back seat.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Hmm. I didn't expect that.

I am a colon!
Find your own pose!

Let me just say, as an editorial comment, that this was the strangest online quiz I've taken in dog's years.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TomKat, Brooke Have Babies

Katie Holmes and Brooke Shields gave birth within hours of each other.

I think it would have been great if Brooke named her kid FuckTomCruise Shields.

Maybe that would be better for a middle name.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday 5 + 5: Music Notes + What This is Not

New records sneak up on me. I don't know why. It should be fairly obvious that bands who release albums in 2004 or 2005 are obligated to follow with a new release sometime around this year. This rule doesn't always apply (David Gilmour took two decades between solo releases), but it generally works. So why, then, was I stunned when I heard about the new Drive-by Truckers release, "A Blessing and a Curse?" They were due. Their last record came out in mid-2004. What's the shock?

Ditto for Public Enemy's new release. PE, actually, has been recording like gangbusters, but every time I hear of a new album, I'm taken by surprise. Their new record, Rebirth of a Nation, is a fascinating project. The entire album's lyrics are written by Paris, who made my "Best of the '90s" list with his landmark "The Devil Made Me Do It." (Then he got the CIA on his back when he released "Bush Killa" about the first George Bush.) I'm not sure it always works, but it's sure an interesting concept.

So, I'm going to attempt to prepare myself for the new releases from a few artists that I love. These are the records I'm most looking forward to... eventually:

5 Albums Worth Looking Forward to:

1. Sleater-Kinney's follow-up to "The Woods." This is what I said about their last record:
This will be one of the albums they talk about in twenty years, along with "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" and "Kid A" and the other great albums of the early 21st century. This is an unbelievably great album. Stop reading this. Go get it.

For their last record, they moved to a studio on the East Coast, hired Dave Fridmann, and blew up the original mold of S-K. The guitars were explosive, the vocals were full-on ferocious, and everything sounded grittier and sloppier. It was great. Here's hoping they can pull more surprises next time.

2. Hem's next studio record. I loved their first two albums, "Rabbitsongs" and "Eveningland." Their latest record, "No Word from Tom," is a collection of live tracks, odd covers, and unreleased tracks. The covers are intriguing, but in the live songs, you can hear that the band has found its heart as an actual band. Sally Ellyson's mystical voice sounds steadier and more grounded now, and the band spins new melodies and new takes on already-familiar tracks. "Eveningland" was a more confident record than the first, and the next album may be something amazing.

3. Kanye West's follow-up to "Late Registration." "The College Dropout" was brilliant. "Late Registration" was the multi-platinum hiphop record of the year. What's he going to do next?

4. The Go! Team's next record. Their first record was a revelation of frantic guitar, multilayered samples, and radical-cheerleader vocals. Can't wait to see what's up their sleeve next time.

5. Anything new, anything at all, by MF Doom. Yeah, I'm hooked. I have no idea what he's talking about half the time, but his flow is hypnotic and his musical choices are always surprising. After the madly inspired "Mouse and the Mask" collaboration with DJ Dangermouse, he is quite literally capable of doing anything.

Just because I've always wanted to do this, I'm now going to answer the inevitable question. The concept of a Friday 5 + 5 list is my own invention. Friday 5 + 5 is not a tribute to:

1. Faith, the evil slayer on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," who often said "five by five" as an expression that all was well.

2. Chuck Woolery, who went to commercials on "Love Connection" by saying he'd be back in "two and two."

3. David Letterman's top ten lists.

4. Any am radio station that does traffic and weather on the fives.

5. The numerologically significant 5. Although I was born in May (5th month) on the 25th day (5 X 5), and you can add up the numbers of the year I was born to get 25 (still 5 x 5.) But no, it's not that.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Time Limit

He's got less than six months. That's what the oncologist who's treating my father-in-law has advised. Less than six months.

Baseball season will be entering the playoffs in less than six months. The new fall shows will be debuting. The leaves will start turning red and gold, and some will already be tumbling earthward.

And R's father may not be here anymore. In less than six months.

I've seen this on television but never experienced it in reality. I've attended funerals. My mother's. A teacher's. They died suddenly, without warning. I've never known anyone who has been given a time limit like this. It seems surreal: the premise of movies and books about finding your true self.

A cloud sits over our living room. Every day, R has a moment where it hits her, and often tears spring from her eyes unexpectedly. She did not have the best relationship with her father. Like many children, she saw him leave home too early, establish his own life, move out of town and out of their lives. She has a brother who hasn't yet forgiven him, and may never. She is the oldest daughter, and tries to hold the family together with phone calls and patience.

I can only sit and watch. I think about my own father, who lives less than an hour from us and has seen his grandson exactly once. I wonder how long I have left with him, how long his time limit may be. His father died in his sixties. My father continues to work full-time, and is raising two young children, his new family, with his "new wife," as I call her. He works hard at home and at his job. How long does he have? Ten years? Five? How long do I have to mend our damaged relationship? How long, to make sure that I have no regrets when his time comes?

R got a phone call last week from her father's partner that things were getting bad. He was in intensive care. He was reacting badly to his chemo. Pneumonia in one lung. He was unable to walk, had trouble talking. "Come now." The next day, her own father took the phone and said he didn't want anyone coming out until he was better. Apparently, he's out of the ICU, but R took her phone to bed with her every night, waiting with dread for the phone call.

I want to be optimistic but have no idea how to even approach this. Will her father outlive his time limit? Will we have a year, two years? Or will it happen quickly, like a thief in the night? We'll be calling soon to make plane reservations, so we can fly to Florida and introduce Grandpa R to his only grandson. Their first meeting may well be their last.

Friday, April 07, 2006

How I Can Tell When My Wife's Tired

(Context: My wife is the sort of person who reaches back, way back, to get the newest container of milk with the most distant expiration date. Expiration dates are law for her. If a date has passed, it's over: throw away whatever it was. My instinct is always to say, "but it still smells good!" But forget it. It's over. It's expired.)

This morning, my wife pulled her sandwich from yesterday's lunch out of her work bag. It was ham and cheese that had been sitting at room temperature all night.

Waving the sandwich at me, she asked, "Do you think this is still good?"

Mrs. B needs a vacation. Fortunately, she has all of next week off. Hopefully she'll be back to her food-mistrusting ways by then.