Friday, December 29, 2000

THE AFOREMENTIONED "Dr." Laura is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. I'll discuss that some other time, but right now I want to vent about the radio advertising I'm assaulted by as I listen. Here's a medium that might be second only to portrait photography in its lack of originality. A year ago every radio ad (except those demanding that you donate your car to someone or other) started with a RING-RING-RING sound effect and proceeded to simulate a very unlikely telephone conversation.

At the moment, every ad (except those demanding that you donate your car to someone or other) goes something like this:

Ah, things sure are idyllic. What could be more idyllic?

[Screeching sound effect, usually a phonograph needle being knocked off a record but sometimes an automobile skidding to a halt.]

Yeah, right! [Or perhaps "Get real!" or "Get over it!"] In the real world, things sure are real -- and you need this product ...

WMAL, Washington's Laura station, is running at least three ads like this, ads that would be idiotic even if they were original. The first one, near as I can tell, was for Alase laser hair removal. Then came one for Centrum vitamins, followed by a weather-coverage promo by WMAL itself. I kid you not: Yesterday the latter two ads were run during a single commercial break.

What's my beef about portrait photography? There are two kinds: Regular (subjects wear shoes) and oh-so-freakin'-creative (subjects are barefoot). How about a new cliche, camera dudes?

Thursday, December 14, 2000

PRESIDENT-ELECT Bush. Finally it's over. I have some comments, but first I need to unload the few decent election-related gags I wrote:

-- First Florida was called for Gore. Then it was called for Bush. Now it's just uncalled-for.
-- This has gotten really out of hand. Now Bill Clinton is accusing Bob Dole of stealing the erection.
-- I don't care how much snow Washington gets; keep Cheney away from the shovel.

Aside from that dreadful "I invented 'America the Beautiful' " moment, I liked both speeches. I found it very cute that Gore told Bush he wouldn't call back to retract things this time, and I found Bush less, well, bush than usual.

Afterward on CNBC, I cheered Alan Dershowitz as he railed about how the conservative justices went against their ideology when a consistent application of that ideology would have favored Gore. Then I realized that (a) this means the moderate-to-liberal justices did the same thing when their ideology would have favored Bush, and (b) Dershowitz, the fatuous fuck, is probably just mad because O.J. Simpson wasn't named president.

Yes, I wanted Gore to win. Or at least I wanted George Quincy Bush to lose. I'm not at all fond of Gore, but I wanted our doofus to beat their doofus. What does our mean? In this case, in particular, that's a good question. I've considered myself a liberal as long as I can remember. When Dad took me for a haircut, I had to recite to the barber, "John F. Kennedy was the greatest president who ever lived." I campaigned for Bobby Kennedy at age 6. I still remember how spooked I was to have his poster over my bed when I awakened on June 6, 1968, to learn he had been shot.

Today, I'm not so sure the "struggle" is still relevant. Maybe it's because I'm older and reasonably well off, but I think there's something more salient, more intellectually defensible, to my evolution. I'm still a Democrat because I consider the GOP the party of theocracy, or government by religion. That's this one-issue voter's one issue. When morons like "Dr." Laura try to tell me freedom from religion isn't part of freedom of religion, I long to take them to an all-you-can-eat buffet when they're full.

But here we have Joe Lieberman, nice guy but theocrat extraordinaire, on the Democratic ticket with stiff bureaucrat-turned-fundamentalist preacher Al Gore and his wife, that champion of censorship (have we all forgotten that?), Tipper. It's here that I have to fall back on the guilt-by-association argument and reason that a vote for Bush-Cheney opens the door for thousands of theocrats, while the associates of Gore-Lieberman are far more secular.

I think we need to view the vote-counting fiasco as an unfortunate fluke. Our system just isn't built for extremely close presidential elections, and it usually doesn't need to be. Both sides had good arguments all along; the whole thing smelled like a fakety-fake "moot court" script designed to test law students' reasoning. This is why my only strong emotion all along was disgust at the partisans -- mostly Republicans, I say as a Democrat! -- who insisted on framing their analysis in terms of good vs. evil.

Laura Schlessinger went from calling for all but the death penalty for drunken drivers to excoriating those who broke "Jewish law" by daring to bring up something in Dubya's past. Rush Limbaugh and his ilk wanted us to believe that Republicans would have slinked away without a peep if a 35-year-old Chelsea Clinton had been elected president thanks to the electoral votes of Arkansas, where the apparent margin of victory was smaller than the margin of error, the ballots were suspect and Roger Clinton was governor. Yep. Right. Paranoid right-wing conspiracy theories have been concocted out of far less.

And can you imagine what Rush would be saying about Condoleezza Rice if she were a Democrat?

AS I alt-tab between Microsoft Outlook and the SpamCop site, bringing up full headers and cutting and pasting, I feel like a court reporter. Such contortions of the fingers! All for this (and I'm already falling behind):

Spam Log 12/13/2000: Eight spam e-mails, just three of them traceable to the execrable UUNet. A spamerrific new contender emerges: Something called MPInet. I visit this ISP's site and read "Welcome To Florida!" Figures.

Spam Log 12/12/2000: Twelve spam e-mails, five from UUNet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2000

I'VE BEEN using the free spam-reporting service offered by SpamCop for some time now. It doesn't do a damn bit of good, near as I can tell (I'm sure the pay service is more useful, but my annoyance at spam hasn't quite reached the double-blind-encrypted-three-condoms-and-a-bulletproof-vest level), but I do get a palpable degree of "I'm telling!" satisfaction out of reporting the offenders.

Anyway, as I plot my blogging strategy, I'm envisioning a daily spam log as (a) a nice recurring feature, a la the calorie, alcohol and lottery-ticket tallies of "Bridget Jones's Diary" and (b) a therapeutic and yet empirical way of proving my theory that UUNet has dedicated its business plan to driving me batty. Is it just me, or is UUNet the source of all spam? I realize its sheer size would tend to inflate its numbers, but UUNet also seems especially vulnerable to the forged-header crowd, I've learned through SpamCop's header parsing. Read and learn ...

Spam Log 12/11/2000: I didn't start my blog till the evening, so this is an abbreviated tally: 12 spam e-mails, five from uu.net, three from sympatico.ca, two from home.net, and one each from hanyang.ac.kr and gcn.net.tw. I've gotten a lot of spam from Asia recently, and I marvel at the character sets that Microsoft has blithely assumed I wanted installed in Outlook. At best these things contain naked pictures of Asian babes*; at worst, as with today's gcn.net.tw missive, they play the theme from "Mission: Impossible" and are impervious to my computer's "mute" button.

* The phrase "naked pictures of Asian babes" produces a mere 87,200 hits in a Google search.

Monday, December 11, 2000

WHY BLOG? Well, I followed the link from Aaron Barnhart's excellent TV Barn, and it sounded like a good idea. (Duh footnote: I've been subscribing to the Barnhart newsletter since it began, and I just now realized that the "barn" must have come from Aaron's last name.) BTW: Get well soon, Aaron!

I've decided to enter the blog world because I'm a writer who doesn't write. Oh, I'm a published author and all, but the book and most of my other writing is about editing. I really should be keeping a journal, but, as fans of my real Web site could tell you, I'm not that systematic. This blog won't quite be a journal (I'd prefer to be a little more blatant about my self-censorship in a public forum), but I hope it will force me to record my thoughts a little more regularly, the way I do in my Las Vegas diaries.

THIS WOULD be my first blog entry.

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