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Sporadic » The Bucket list

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Talk to me rightwing nutjob

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Let’s talk about the Tea Party and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I need to understand why folks don’t like it.

I have,  throughout the past, made my political leanings clear. I am so far left that you can’t see me from the middle. I know this.

For godsakes I supported Kerry.*

So yes, I know what you’re thinking- of course he supports something that President Obama supports. And yes, I probably would, however….

Here’ the thing I would love to have someone explain for me:

Why is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare”** bad?

I like to understand the arguments for and against something. I want to at least know that I understand the point that someone else is making before I decide that they’re wrong. As far as this goes I don’t even understand what the fake reasons are so I can understand the real reasons.


Issue: Off Shore Drilling laws

Fake Reason: We need to do more off shore drilling. If we hem the oil companies in by making them subscribe to overly protective environmental laws the oil companies won’t be able to make profits and therefore won’t drill. This will mean we have to get all our oil from terrorists and gas will get really expensive.

Real Reason: Big oil is making record profits and can spread that money around to politicians.

So, back to health care.  I need to know both real and fake. I hear this whole “death panel” argument, but that’s a load of hooey. There’s also the “it’s gonna cost us money” argument but yesterday during the supreme court hearings the lawyer against the health care act admitted that most of the cost of the health act would be from people who already qualify for government health benefits actually signing up for them.  This comprised 95% of the expense calculated by the state of Florida.

How is someone signing up for something that they are already allowed to have bad? That’s like Kellogg’s saying that they had too many expenses because everyone actually clipped out the coupon for frosted flakes and used it.

Also I don’t know the real reasons. Is there money that Insurance companies will lose? Where is the funding coming from? Why is the right against it?

I found this article, but not only is it poorly written and unnecessarily confusing, I didn’t know any more at the end.

So seriously, if you can explain either the real or the fake reasons, please comment below. I won’t delete anything that’s reasonable (and lacking in  swearwords) and maybe it’ll help me make some sense or what’s going on.

*And there was never a blander more unelectable presidential candidate from Mass who wasn’t Mike Dukasis

** Such an idiotic rebranding

*** Other links, HealthCare and women

Yes and also No

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

I just finished reading Mike Doughty’s Memoir “A book of Drugs: A Memoir”. It was a good read.

Mike Doughty for those who don’t know was once the lead singer of Soul Coughing, and now has a solo career as a guitar playing singer/ songwriter.

I have followed him since back in the Soul Coughing days.

Until reading his memoir, I would have said that he and I (born just months and several hundred miles apart) were on a similar trajectory. No, I’m not comparing myself to a famous rock star. I’m saying that as his career progressed, I found myself interested in it as he changed.  I continued to be a fan as he changed who he was and what he was doing.

Also interestingly, while our ultimate ends differed, reading the memoir he and I both tapered off our drug usage approximately the same time. Admittedly, I never got into heroin, and I never had to 12 step it, and I still enjoy a drink or two, but I sort of felt like that was the story arc. My interest in drugs has waned and as I’ve aged, the whole party down thing has largely gone away.

Okay, so let’s go back and talk about what I found out in the memoir. The dudes in Soul Coughing were apparently kinda douchey and it was a rough time for Mr. Doughty. There’s was a lot of up hill slogs, it was hard to get what he wanted creatively from the other band members and it was generally unpleasant.

As rock star memoirs go, it was a good read. He’s a good writer and it’s engaging and very funny at spots. I would recommend you pick it up, especially if you have been or are a fan of his work.

However, there are a couple things that bugged me and I figured why not get them off my chest via the world wide web.

Let’s go back to me for a second.

I have very little musical nostalgia. Once I have had my fill of a song, I kinda don’t want to hear it anymore. This is true of about 95% of music. There are a few exceptions that have stood the test of time and there is also the possibility that a song, after enjoying some time  on the bench, might sound interesting again thanks to some time apart.

For example: The Cure (whom I loved) remains unlistenable but Echo and the Bunnymen have a somewhat timeless quality on certain songs.  The great majority of music from the 90’s is awful but there are a few Soul Coughing songs that I still enjoy.

Back to the book.

The Book of Drugs has no chapters (which is kind of a cool way to make the whole thing seem like a half remembered tale told by a friend who’s relating some forgotten lore from their past) but it does have ‘sections’; you can feel the voice change and you can tell that this section appears to have been penned at one sitting. Maybe it’s a cohesiveness of narrative.

For the most part, it remains a memoir. A relation of stuff that happened in the order that it happened. Although there is a disclaimer at the front that basically states that memory is a fickle beast and if the dates are wrong or something is missing, man is a faulty instrument.

There is a section where Mr Doughty addresses the fan base. And he states that he doesn’t like songs yelled out at shows (not even solo songs- which explains why he ignored my request for “F-Train” the last time I saw him). He feels that what he’s doing now is the stuff that he likes most and is proudest of, and who doesn’t think that they are wiser & better than they were in the past? I should hope we all are learning throughout our lives and continuing to grow. Nothing strange there.

He also states that he doesn’t like to play Soul Coughing songs because it brings back all of the awful memories. Also based on his drug use at the time, he doesn’t feel like the work is all that good. My opinions aside, I get that,  I don’t like music from my past because it brings back…well… my past. I can’t speak to the whole “music I wrote” in the past (My college band while fun- never sold a record) but I understand not wanting to live there.

I respect the fact that he may not want to continue playing songs from that era. I also respect that he may not like fans that only remember him from then and come to a solo show expecting some kind of soul coughing unplugged experience. Who wants to live in the past?

Here’s where I got a little peeved, well maybe not peeved, possibly saddened: There’s a statement he makes that he prefers fans that have only ever heard “Circles” (which is probably my least favorite Soul Coughing song).  I think that statement says that while he’s grown, that his fan base has not. I cannot speak for others, but perhaps, I have grown and changed. I really like his solo work.

I find that his work has changed inline with my tastes, his songwriting seems to be gaining depth and complexity in time with my interests following suit. I like his latest record “yes and also yes”.  I really enjoyed the actual concert that he recorded “The question jar show” (while I haven’t purchased the record yet). I had a great time at the latest show with his band fantastic and emerged with a new band to love – opening act Moon Hooch. The statement that he’d not like me as a fan is hurtful, but until he tells me to leave I’m not gonna.

I’ve never yelled a Soul Coughing song at a solo show. I now know not to yell even solo songs (which makes me sad because I really love ‘F-Train’). I already have my tickets to the San Francisco show in April. If he wants to sign stuff, I might even have him sign my Kindle (that’s where his book lives).

However, I hope that he can recognize that while he’s getting new fans all time, that some of us have been here from the beginning and, whether he wants me or not, would like to stay.


Okay… just one more

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I couldn’t help it. I got another email from Tea Bag town and I had to respond.

here’s the email (my response is below)

> T’was the night before elections,
> And all thru’ the town,
> Tempers were flaring
> Emotions ran up and down.
> I, in my bathrobe
> With a cat in my lap,
> Had shut off the TV,
> tired of political crap.
> When all of a sudden,
> There arose such a noise,
> I peered out my window,
> Saw Obama and his boys
> They had come for my wallet,
> They wanted my pay
> To hand out to others
> Who had not worked a day!
> He snatched up my money,
> And quick as a wink,
> Jumped back on his bandwagon
> As I gagged from the stink.
> He then rallied his henchmen
> Who were pulling his cart.
> I could tell they were out
> To tear my country apart!
> ‘On Fannie, on Freddie,
> On Biden and Ayers!
> On Acorn, on Pelosi’
> He screamed at the pairs!
> They took off for his cause,
> And as they flew out of sight,
> I heard him laugh at a nation
> Who wouldn’t stand up and fight!
> So I leave you to think
> On this one final note…


Twas the W administration
and all through the Earth
wars had been started
to help Haliburton’s net worth

Environmental laws had been scrapped
and banking was lax
but thankfully, people with billions of dollars
paid very little to tax

Bankers were encouraged
to spin profits from lies
and the housing bubble was coming
with a side of freedom fries

The national debt was careening
as those wars sucked up funds
there was no money to pay for it
no butter, just guns

However all was well for
Texas’ fortunate son
he packed up his bags
and back to Houston He run

He left the country
in a terrible mess
How we could dig it out
was anyone’s guess

So we elected someone smarter
and he tried to solve it
with no help from tea baggers
who spat bile and vomit

He’s wrong! Look at this mess!
It’s clearly his fault!
They ignored the past (of course)
That’s the right wing gestalt

Now I’m afraid that Fox
will spin out more lies
and we’ll get some new bible thumping idiot
a new President to despise

But I’m not so worried
if they vote in some right winger boob
cause I’ll be headed to Vancouver
and I’ll watch America go to hell….. on the couch…. on the tube.

And I wish you tea baggers
have a pleasant goodnight
You can keep your racism, sexism, vitriol and hate
And all that crap you believe on the right



Follow up

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Just a quick follow up to my last post. I got this in my email today and it pretty much sums up Tea Bagger Beliefs:

A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!
I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!!
Let?s Take a stand!!!
Language: English only...
Religion: Christian
CultureConstitution and the Bill of Rights!!!
Drug Free: Make a drug screen mandatory for anyone on welfare and/or food stamps!
NO freebies to Non-Citizens!
We the People are coming

Here’s my favorite part… Culture: Constitution and Bill of Rights follows the Religion: Christian. Maybe they ought to check out the third thing on the Bill of rights?

Bizarre! It’s like they’re trying to prove me right.

BTW if you’re like me, any chance to use the tags “tea bag” and “nut job” on the same post makes you giggle


Nuanced Hate and friendly Muslims

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I was running yesterday and I was also thinking about the Tea Party.

I am trying to understand why they exist. It makes no sense to me that people from lower middle and middle class would support politics that actually affects them in a negative way. The great majority of people that self identify Tea Bagger, are folks that are not of a wealth class that benefits from any of the tax cuts that are being put forth by the party they identify with. I think we have an issue of nuanced hate and fear of change. To understand this I think we have to compare historically to modern times.

So let’s start by painting the whole room “President Obama is bad and isn’t doing the right stuff” colored. That way all the conversation we have going forward can be in the President Obama’s bad room. I imagine that the room is sort of Robin’s egg blue but maybe the tea baggers would say the room has been painted black.* It’s important to recognize that for what I consider largely irrational reasons the entire right side of the political spectrum has decided that President Obama is to be handled by digging in their heels and refusing even the most basic of compromise. If the President declared that he was for kittens the Right might very well put out a bill to have all kittens catapulted** into the sun.

Now into this freshly painted room let’s put three tables. A table of the past, a table of the present and a table of the future. Let’s start by sitting down at the table of the past.

The folks in the Tea Party leadership space are all in the late 40’s and early 50’s, which means they all grew up in the era of the cold war. The cold war was easy to understand: All of our enemies were communists and all Russians were communists. All you had to do was be afraid of foreigners who weren’t either British or Canadian and you were good to go.

It's easy!

The cold war, graphed

The thing about the world today is that we now have the relationships switched. All the people who used to hate the larger group and know that they had everything covered now have to understand more complex interactions.Let’s more over to the table of the present.

All terrorists are Muslim but not all Muslims are terrorists. In fact it’s a tiny, tiny sliver of the larger group. Now instead of hating an entire people, the Tea Party has to hate just  .0001% of a group.  That’s hard to understand, and frankly the folks in the tea party aren’t really used to working with nuance. These are more broad stroke brains**.

Oh crap! That dot is looking at me funny!

The Dangerous dot

So the problem is there. People who are used to hating others because of the language, religion, the color of skin or what-have-you, now have to understand that here’s a huge population of people who are smart, decent, friendly, hard working and generally pleasant have a tiny subset of lunatics. Those lunatics who are out to get us who are a very small number (globally) are the people to be hated and not “all brown people”.

To get an understanding of how this might work in another subset, what about we show the group that say Timothy McVeigh came from. Who were they? Oh right Americans. Oh and subset of that: right wing jingoistic Americans… the self same place that the Tea Baggers live in. Now come over here and take a seat at the table of the future.

Let’s also take a look at the room we’re in. Whoa that’s a funny paint job. Let’s also look at the state that the government wants us to live in. Why do republicans insist that President Obama is wrong? What’s he done that is wrong? Why was the thing that people said about him during the campaign “He’s a Muslim” viewed as a bad thing (just to be clear he’s not)? Well because we need a big room to hate. We can’t just hate the people who are out to get us, we also have to hate anyone who looks like them. So if you aren’t white, christian and male… you’re up to no good. President Obama was missing one of those.***

Here’s what I really don’t get: How come President Bush, who really did lie and cheat and screw stuff up, gets a free pass and President Obama, who has tried to save the economy the Bush screwed up, get us out of the war Bush lied to get us into and give the poorest people a chance to have health care, doesn’t.

I was about to say something about how why do people support politicians who vote differently than their economic bracket (i.e. vote for republicans who are shopping for tax cuts for people who make 90% more than you do) but then I realized: I want programs for the poor and I do well for myself. I don’t believe in cutting social services. But really, I should be a supporter of screwing the poor and letting them figure out what to do on their own.

Damn you compassion!

Anyway. So that’s what I came up with. I think the Tea Baggers just don’t understand nuanced hate.  It’s why they are so excited about the Sept 11 anniversary. It brings them back to a happy time when they could hate people because of the color of their skin or where they came from. Sorry to tell you, Baggers: This century we have to hate people for the stuff they say or do!****

Stupid Russians! Stupid Arms Race for destroying a perfectly good villain!

* Hello Irony

** See what I did there? Kitten? Cat-apult? Cat?

***And maybe not the smartest bulbs either- looking at you Mrs Palin.

****Guess which!

***** I always said that I didn’t understand racism because there were so many really good reasons to hate people on an individual level that it seems pointless to group them.

***** Thank you to This is Indexed for the stolen Venn diagram idea*

Do not ask for whom the kettle bell tolls, it tolls for thee

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

So I’ve been going to the new Boot Camp over in Oakland* and it’s good. I like/ hate it. I mean it wouldn’t be good if I didn’t hate it and have to motivate myself to go… so it’s good to hate it.

There’s plenty to miss about SF Basic Training (my old boot camp in the city). I liked the outdoors. I liked the small class sizes. Melissa was Awesome. Unfortunately, the timing just didn’t work out. It was too hard to get across the bridge in time.

At the new Boot Camp I am doing two days of Boot Camp and then one day of personal training. Frank is the PT guy and he’s a killer. Nice guy. Killer.

However, the big sell up comes in that I’m actually starting to see actual results. It’s been a month and I have some definition. I don’t have wash board abs, but I have abs. I don’t have guns, but I don’t have jiggling tubbo arms. It’s good.

I think during the past year I kinda let myself go a little. I was starting to get a little fat Elvis. Sedentary. Slightly too drinky. Bad food as a “reward” i.e. like you get this quesadilla suiza because the rest of the day sucked.

So my ass is being kicked, which is good. I think I feel more likely to want to do right by my body in other areas when I’m working out. Less likely to eat as much crap, or drink as much or (gasp) smoke.

So the thing I wanted to discuss, was part of the whole work out thing which is : The Kettle Bell**

When I was doing Basic Training they had them around but it wasn’t used as much and it definitely wasn’t part of the main work out. However we knew to hate them. We called them the “not it” because no one wanted to end up carrying it.

At the new place they’re in every work out. The Kettle Swing, the snatch, the press up… I could go on but it would only make me wince uncontrollably. I think they’re probably the reason I’m seeing results, but they’re also a regular visitor in my nightmares.

I asked Nicole the other day when I would stop being sore and she said “It’ll get better all the time.” I’m pretty sure she’s a *&%ing liar, since it’s been a month and I hurt as bad today as I did day one, but let’s hope.

*Which as it turns out is in Laine and Ted’s apt building

** Watch it suck on Youtube!

Oh Facebook, those 428 people don’t really know me.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Many of you know that I don’t really “do” the Facebook. I don’t see the point. No one is that interested in what I have to say or do or eat or whatever the kids are posting these days.

However, I noticed today that Facebook will probably become slightly less annoying to me and therefore slightly more useful.  They have a “friend sorting” feature that allows me to cut back the amount of stuff I have to read from people I haven’t spoken to in decades. I can cull facebook down to the people who I actually speak with and suddenly…I’m interested again.

So I can use Facebook for now both it’s useful features: 1.) keeping up with people I like and 2. ) maintaining vague distant connections with folks I might want to look up sometime.

I started the list of the “inner circle” and don’t worry, if you’re reading this I’m sure you made the cut… hmmm, maybe. I once dated a girl for three years who said during year three “you have a blog!!??” and then proceeded not to read it. So maybe not.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this delightful little nugget with you for your own usage. This does not however, mean that I will ever post to Faceboo more than twice a month, but no one was clamoring for that anyway.

I do plan, on the other hand, to try and get more stuff up here more often and maybe now that I have to spend less of my time hating facebook I can spend more of my time thinking of funny stuff to type.

Stop time! In your dreams!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

This morning I woke up at 5 am. Not about anything…I was just up. I read for a little bit and then decided to try to go back to sleep for a little while. I remember looking at the clock and thinking “Okay, 5:30…sleep til 7:30….that’s two hours, I should be fine”

I fall asleep and have this really intricate detailed dream.

I’m trying to get through security at the airport and I’m having issues with my ticketing and then my flight is delayed. I end up getting through security but it takes me like 45 mins. I get to the gate and my flight is two hours delayed so I head over to a bar.

The bar as it turns out is the one from the Pittsburgh International Airport that I end up sitting in everytime I go back to PA. I think it’s like a Sam Adams Ale House or something. I order a beer and the game is on so I’m watching the Steelers. I think they were playing the Houston Oilers, so clearly the dream is lying to me. I end up talking to the guy next to me who explains that the “Texans” finally decided to go back to the powder blue Uniforms and scrap the whole Texans thing.

We watch about half the game and the Steelers are up by 6 points at the half. I walk over to the gate and find out that the flight has switched gates so I have to walk over to another terminal. I get there right before the 4th quarter. Steelers are still up but only by three.

I check my boarding time- which is still out about 30 mins, so I order a beer and watch the last quarter. The steelers win and I go over to the gate, my flight is boarding. I find my seat, I stow my luggage, I send a quick text to Nicole, who is apparently picking me up, I turn off my cell and wake up.

It’s 5:45.

Here’s what I’ve learned: If you want to stop time, think about the airport.

The Warren Commision

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I can’t say I’m a big Primus fan, but everytime I have to spend time in the Dept. of Motor Vehicles I remember a lyric from Pork Soda. I can’t remember which song. It says:

“I’ve been to hell:  I spent it.

Spent it at the DMV

And anyone who’s been there knows precisely what I mean”

And Mr. Claypool is correct. I stood in line for 45 minutes so I could get a number to let me wait in line again. The numbers are designed to confuse you so you don’t know exactly how long you’ll wait- it’s like G 018 or F 046 and they might come back to back. Very confusing, but confusing by design.

So I get my number and take a seat in one of the many highly uncomfortable plastic chairs and embark on an adventure!

I sat down with my number towards the edge of the room, right next to window #12. At window # 12 was a guy named Frank Wolenski. How do I know this? Well Frank said his name about 46 times and the woman behind the counter repeated it 46 more. Frank’s name was actually Warren. Frank explained this to the dutiful state employee at length. However, Frank lacked anything but his good word that this was true. The employee required more than his word.

It went like this:

“I’m Warren Wolenski”

“I’m sorry sir but your documents say that you name is Frank”

“But my name is Warren.”

“Do you have any documentation to show that Mr. Wolenski?”

“No. I have my driver’s license.”

“Which says your name is Frank.”

“But my name is Warren”

“But your license says Frank”

“But it should say Warren.”

“But it doesn’t”

“How do I change that?”

“I’ll need documentation”

“I have my license”

“Third Base”

This went on for almost the whole hour I sat waiting for my number to be called. Here’s the worst part:

He gives up 2 mins before I get called to my window. They start processing his new license. I get to my window. They process my renewal. We finish within seconds of each other and then he walks around to the Photo window and gets in line right in front of me.  I get to hear the previous conversation repeated every time he speaks to a new person. It easily adds 30 minutes to everything I do from that point forward.

If it wasn’t so funny it would be sad and if it wasn’t so sad it would be funny.

Oakie but not too oakie

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

The other night, new friend Nicole and I are out to dinner at The Front Porch. We have ordered the fried chicken, which is what you get at the front porch. They have other stuff, and it’s good, but the fried chicken is the thing that they excel at. We’ve also ordered a few of the new appetizers specifically the corn dog & deep fried pickle chips. So we’ve got a corn dog, deep fried pickles and fried chicken on the way and I start looking for the next thing we’re going to drink. I’m thinking about this chalky white wine that I had the last time I was there. We’re sitting at the bar, so I ask the bartender about chalky whites. He tells me that the wine list is changing and they don’t have all the stuff they normally do, but let’s try to figure this out.

10 minutes later, I have had a taste of 4 separate wines. The bartender is in on the act. He’s tasting with me. We’re chitter chatting the whole time.  I have said the words “fruity finish”, “lacks brightness” and “Deeper tannin flavor” more times than I feel comfortable letting you know. Yes, I’m probably trying to be a little smarter than I am to impress the lady, but most of it I really meant. Finally we settle on an unobtrusive pinot gris that does almost everything I want.

I say to Nicole “I think this should be a good pairing”

she says “You do realize that you just spent ten minutes working on a wine pairing with a corn dog and deep fried pickle chips right?”

Then we’re both in hysterics.

Oh San Francisco. I’m a snob and a man of the people at the exact same moment.