b Papa Dog's Blog: November 2004

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Mama Dog: Perilously Close to Becoming an Enthusiastic Late Adopter

All hands man your battle stations. The moment we’ve dreaded all these years has finally arrived: Mama Dog has discovered Ebay.

I guess I should amend that. Mama Dog has been aware of Ebay’s existence for many years, but has always resisted that first auction for fear of becoming an addict. I have supported her in her Ebavian abstinence for, well, fear of her becoming an addict. The turning point came this past weekend when we visited the Pirates and Mama Dog became covetous of a vintage baby toy in their possession, a penguin Weeble. She took a cautious look today at Electronic Bay and whoot, there it was. Knowing there was such a thing as Ebay was one thing; seeing the penguin Weeble of her dreams right there for the bidding was quite another.

So we have a core breach, but I’m struggling to avoid a complete meltdown. Before she could be tempted to open an Ebay account, I told her that I’d buy the thing for her. Being less mercantally inclined, I’ve never had much interest in online auctions, but for reasons which escape me now I have an Ebay account which I’ve never used. I think I opened it to see some particular page I couldn’t look at otherwise or something. No idea. The upshot is I was able to put a bid down on the dingus, and we’re now waiting with baited breath to see if anybody outbids us before the auction closes (22 minutes and 2 seconds left in auction time as I type).

It’s my hope that this will be an isolated event, but I know how these things go. We’re still feeling the long-term effects of the Amazon Incident of 1999.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Wake for 641-0197835*

I’ve detailed how Mama Dog set me on the road to good health and sound dental hygiene. One of the other areas she targeted for reform was pecuniary responsibility. When we first got together, I had spent much of the preceding decade very seriously off the grid for a variety of reasons, not all of which had to do with angry fathers of farmers’ daughters. I paid my taxes promptly, but I hadn’t had a credit card, a bank account, or even a phone under my own name in years. As with the unexamined crotch lump and the cavalier periodontal care, Mama Dog made it clear that this state of affairs could not last if I expected a long-term relationship with her. Grudgingly, I set about making myself once again visible to the watchful eye of The Man. I opened my first bank account in this country in seven years.

During my period of fiscal evanescence, I had the opportunity to watch firsthand as The Man gradually made it more and more difficult to have money when indigent. I remember, when I was a youngster, any bank would cash any other bank’s cheque as long as you had valid ID. Sometime during the period of my vagrancy, that stopped and if you didn’t have an account, you could only cash cheques on the banks they were drawn on. When I was temping, the bank the temp agency cheques came from introduced a new rule: you had to cash the cheque at the actually branch it was drawn on. I lived and worked in Oakland and the bank branch was in San Francisco, but I made a special trip and paid BART fare just to get it done without fuss. Then you had to have two pieces of ID. Then you had to put a thumbprint on the back of the cheque. The underlying assumption, of course, is that anybody without a bank account is a criminal. It infuriated me, but I put up with it. I jumped through every hoop required, and I lined my mattress with cash.

Then there’s the biggest scam in the Screwing the Poor racket: the cheque cashing establishments. When I lived in New Orleans, I actually went that route for a while because there were places that would cash my cheques for a flat dollar or two. In the Bay Area, though every place seemed to charge a percentage of the cheque. The amount it would have cost for me to get my own money was ludicrous, but there are people – poor people, of course – who do that every day because they think it’s the only choice available to them.

When I stopped temping and got the gig I have now, I found that the bank my payroll cheques came from – lets call it The Bank of Nice –was one of the less uptight ones. They were much later adopters of the thumbprint rule, and were always very nice to me despite my obvious shadiness. I made a mental note that if I should ever take it upon myself to have a bank account, I would use that bank. When Mama Dog made it known that time had come, that’s where I went, the B of N. in the fullness of time I opened a savings account there, too, which I used to save up for the present I gave Mama Dog for her 40th and our 5th. The B of N was always good to me, and I tried in a very old-fashioned way to be a loyal customer. We had a good run together, something like four or five years now.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been employing the past tense. The way of the world being what it is, the B of N and I could not stay together long. When we bought our house, we financed through the horrendous Bank of Apartheid, and ended up with several accounts tied up there. This past week, Mama Dog and I have been taking the final steps to make ourselves one household, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. I switched my payroll direct deposit from my little B of N chequing account to our big B of A chequing account. Since I would no longer be keeping the B of N account stocked with the necessary minimum balance to avoid service charges, it just didn’t make any sense to keep that account going. So today, I shut down poor old 641-0197835*. I did it on my lunch hour, and I can’t say I spent any time lingering or reflecting over the act, but my walk back to the office was tinged just the tiniest bit with melancholy. That account was, I guess, a symbol for me – of how well I can put my house in order if I really put my mind to it. It was never much of a bank account compared to the mortgage account with the home equity money and all – but it was a first step towards order after a prolonged traipse through the valley of the shadow of chaos. I’ll miss the bi-weekly rituals…transferring a certain amount from chequing to savings, getting that first little chunk of ready cash on payday, taking money out in increments of $15 so I’d have small bills for poker. B of A will only give it out $20 at a time. But I guess it was already well established that they don’t, didn’t, and won’t ever give a rat’s arse for the little guy.

So here’s to 641-0197835*, a great little account who stood me well and never thought the less of me.
*Not the real number.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Faces of Despots

We have a framed photo of Richard Nixon on our living room wall. It’s not exactly the same image as the one in the link, but it’s pretty close. Our fascination with the third-worst American President of our lifetime* would probably take a whole other post to deal with, so I’ll just note that we also have a Nixon mug from the Nixon Presidential Library, and some soap from the same source. The Nixon photo came from the Kitty. He found it in the back room of the theatre where he works, all dusty and grimy, long forgotten. Its provenance is unknowable, but it’s probably been there since the 70s. He wrapped the photo and gave it to Mama Dog for her birthday a couple years back. He asked me beforehand what I thought of it as a birthday gift. I guess he had been kidding, because he seemed surprised when I reacted with utmost enthusiasm. “She’ll love it!” I said, and indeed it was her favourite gift that year. I make it my business to know my target demographic.

The mug and the soap were gifts from the Pirates, who for some reason went to the library in Yorba Linda and thought of us. This was after they had seen Mama Dog’s reaction to the framed photo. Once you have a known enthusiasm, people start giving you more of whatever it is. My grandmother collected ceramic elephants, and had hundreds of them by the time she died, most of them gifts. The Pirates also sent us a card that now adorns our refrigerator, bearing the likenesses of Saddam Hussein and his daughter (as a young girl). Not this one, but it’s kind of close, in spirit anyway. Ours is in colour. He sure seems like a proud dad. Well, so was Nixon. Hitler was a vegetarian. Dick Cheney loves his lesbian daughter. Human nature can be some weird and fucked up shit.

I’ve been using the default Dell wallpaper on my desktop since we got the new computer. Mama Dog has used a few different things in that time, but it takes me a while to get around to decorative elements. Today I selected this blast from the past to live on my desktop when other programs are closed. It’s all stretched out and distorted to fit the screen, but hey, it sure catches the eye as you walk past.
*(After the current one and the one who preceded the current one’s father.)

Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Buncha Tables, No Waiting. Unless You Choose To.

We went out for dinner tonight at a restaurant – the Pirates minded Baby Dog – and because Mama Dog has some genetic quirk that renders her incapable of accepting the first table offered at a restaurant, we didn’t immediately take the table for two that became available shortly after we arrived. In fairness, I didn’t want that table either. That part of the restaurant, which I call the earthquake hazard overhang, has tables crammed really close together, and I didn’t fancy being forced to listen to riveting dinner repartée about why somebody’s dissertation is late this year. Mama Dog set her eye on one particular table, where an elderly couple appeared to be just finishing up. With that in mind, we passed up the table near the door, which I admit was too draughty anyway. But then another table in the earthquake room opened, and I started to think what the hell, it’s only two stories to plunge in the event of an 8.5, but Mama Dog was now finding ways to overvalue the table with the old people. It had a hanging lamp with a charming shade. Yes, that will make the Tom Ka Guy even tastier. The old folks were clearly done, but watching the man pry open his dusty wallet didn’t inspire confidence that we’d be eating any time soon. He scrutinised the bill for so long that I started to wish I’d brought my stack of old newspapers with me. I could have made it through mid-October. What was taking so long? Was he calculating 5¾% interest for the tip? The first wave of the dinner rush was abruptly ending, and tables were clearing out all over the place, but no, we had to have that one. “Would you like one of these other tables?” the hostess asked. “No,” said Mama Dog, “we’ve waited this long, we might as well stick it out.” I felt a little despair realising that was true. We had to have that table now. Kind of like how the U.S. has to win in Iraq now, now matter how stupid the reasons for being there in the first place are. The man finally dragged enough money out of his wallet to cover the bill, and the woman, apparently headed for hip replacement, got up and creaked over to the ladies’ room. You couldn’t have done that while he was comparing the prices on the bill to the prices on the menu? I looked around. We could have our pick of tables. I knew better. Days passed. I calculated pi to three thousand decimals on the erasable specials board. Finally the old lady ratcheted her way out of the restroom and came slo-moing back across the restaurant like those English guys in Chariots of Fire, only without the Vangelis music. Or the vigour of youth. Then she plunked herself back down in her chair to finish her beer. “Oh good god, no,” thought I. “After this, she’s going to have to go again!” But no, she slurped down the Singha, they pocketed their mints, and off they went, tottering past us and out the door. The bus staff, sympathetically I thought, set a world’s record clearing the table, and down we sat to a lovely first baby-free restaurant meal since Mama Dog’s birthday. And what do you know? My darling wife was correct. The meal really was better with that lamp.

Friday, November 26, 2004

More Excessive Attention Paid to Essentially Meaningless Numbers (Meaning Not the Bit About Baby Dog's Birthday, But Everything that Follows It)

Did I mention that yesterday was Baby Dog’s five-month birthday? I didn’t, I guess, but it was. Come Ho Ho she’ll be half a year old. How the time does fly. All the tiresome clichés, it turns out, are true. Time flies! They grow up so fast! They’re cuter’n shit at that age! Well, I guess that last one isn’t really a cliché, but it is a truth. More cute than shit they in fact are at that age.

Also marking a milestone is the favershamal hit counter, having rolled over 2K sometime in the last few days when I wasn’t looking. The past week or so, I’ve been watching the hit counter traverse the 1900s and thinking of it in terms of years, bemusedly considering the significance I place on particular points in the late century. I was strangely excited when I received hit # 1939 because that’s widely considered the greatest year in movies – the year of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Ninotchka, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dark Victory, Of Mice and Men, Young Mr. Lincoln, Wuthering Heights, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Love Affair, and on and on. Batman appeared for the first time in Detective Comics #27. New York had a world’s fair that’s been showing up as a seminal event in coming-of-age novels by old New Yorkers ever since. And, oh, yeah, World War II started. 1964 was a big deal, because that’s when those of us who are One of Us were born. When it got to 1984, I started thinking about all the years that have stood for The Future in literature and film and song, years that have come and gone with their promise mostly unfulfilled. We actually seem to have caught up with 1984 now, but Space: 1999 came and went with the moon still safely in orbit, although I recollect that we did party like it was itself. 2001 a Space Odyssey is history, and I was disappointed to find that by that year Pan Am had still not resurrected itself and gone into the moon shuttle business.

Now my hit counter has passed 2004 and gone into the future. As I write, it’s stuck at 2010, which is Odyssey 2. It’ll be a while for both the counter and the rest of us before we reach In the Year 2525, and if mankind is still alive, I’m sure I’ll be favershamming something of questionable relevance then.

In other numbers: I’m done through September 7 with the newspapers. Long weekend’s half over. We did see Kinsey today, and Gran goes home tomorrow. Time for a snack now and then bed.

Oh - almost forgot to mention - Alfonso Bedoyo handily won the "Bandito" poll, which I have to say I find curious. Why did so many people want to have a moderately pricy meal with an illiterate and probably pretty smelly criminal who's like to whack your head off with a machete before the check comes? Very curious. More curious still, his win was at least partly achieved through the mini-poll's first case of electronic ballot box stuffing. No rule against that. I've got the thing set up to allow multiple votes, figuring if it's good enough for the Criminal Overlords in Washingtexas, it's good enough for us. But still - not even one vote for Burt Reynolds? I'm fairly certain he would have had the best table manners of the bunch.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

YAT/Possible Auto Theft/The Peril of Mothers-in-Law

As predicted, I’ve had a little time on my hands today. I filled a chunk of it going into Berkeley, which was deserted on account of American Thanksgiving (or, as I’ve been calling it in conversation with Mama Dog, YAT*). I went to the UA (though now UA is apparently part of something called Regal Entertainment Group to see After the Sunset, which is as perfunctory as you might think if you’ve seen the trailer, but hey, it was a movie, and I had to pick something I knew Mama Dog would never be keen on seeing. (Tomorrow we’ll be seeing Kinsey; it’ll be our first time to the movies together since Baby Dog was born.

I was a little early for the movie, so I decided to walk down the street and see if Barnes Ignoble was open. It wasn’t, but on the way I got to watch either a crime or some stupidity in progress. A guy came trotting past me and stopped to pick something up off the sidewalk. I thought at first he was grabbing a discarded butt, but as he went running back in the direction he’d come I realised it was a big chunk of rock. I had a weird little presentiment, and then sure enough he stopped at a car and started hammering at the window with the rock. I passed, bemused, wondering how wide a berth I needed to give the guy, when he suddenly dropped the rock, evidently unable to break the window with it, and ran past me around the next corner. I had time to register that the motor was running in the car, and it clicked that this was probably the car’s owner. He had locked the keys in and for some reason he thought it was a better plan to break the window than to call AAA. When I got across Durant I looked back and saw the guy coming back around the corner with a great big length of industrial pipe over his shoulder. He dashed up to the car, smashed in the rear passenger window, and dove in like a Duke of Hazzard . Another passer-by stopped with me at the intersection, watching. “Did he just break into that car?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said, “but I think it’s his car. The keys were locked in with the engine running.” The guy peeled out of the parking space and roared down Shattuck Avenue. “Well,” I philosophised, “either way, it’s his car now.”

The movie killed time. The most annoying thing was the obligatory US (or Regal) pre-show learning curve display from the non-union projectionist. She kept adjusting the focus back and forth during the trailer for Flight of the Phoenix. The focus swooned around so much I started to feel like I was at the optometrist’s. Then she started experimenting with the framing, randomly cropping the image off in all four directions. The movie looks like just another crappy remake and I’ve seen the trailer before, so none of this was any great loss, but damn it puts me on edge before the movie starts. If I’m going to pay money to see a mediocre Brett Ratner opus, I at least want to be able to see the stupid thing clearly.

By the time the third trailer came on, she had the equipment figured out, which was good, because this was the most interesting of the trailers. The movie was Monster-in-Law, and it looks like formulaic crap too, but it’s interesting because it marks the emergence from retirement of Jane Fonda, looking oddly like a withered Princess Di. She’s the titular monster, pretending to be thrilled with the prospect of gaining Ennifer Pez as a daughter-in-law while secretly fantasising about smashing the young lady’s face into the coffee table.

Later, while Mama Dog was preparing the Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, she asked if she could play one of my Clancy Brothers CDs. I said “Yeah, sure,” wondering if she was up to some sort of Bre’er Rabbit thing in reverse, but she really did seem to want to hear it. She said she thought it was good festive music for YAT. I was toting Baby Dog around at the time, so I stood bouncing her by the computer letting her hear the real versions of songs I sing her while changing her. One of the on the disc was “Whiskey, You’re the Devil”, which is all about the ways liquor can lead a man astray. Mostly (according to the song), it seems to lead him into the war, but buried in the middle is a stanza about the domestic perils that may result. It gives this neat summation of the ancient in-law struggle: “Said the mother, ‘Do not wrong me,/Don’t take my daughter from me,/For if you do I will torment you/And after death my ghost will haunt you.’” There’s a mother-in-law from hell to make Jane Fonda’s comic harpy look like a piker: her wrath extends beyond this mortal coil.

I looked up and saw Gran fretting at Mama Dog over the preparation of the YAT dinner, and I wondered…first that trailer, now this song…is the universe trying to send me some sort of warning? My guess is not, but I’ll tread lightly for the next couple days anyway.
*“Your American Thanksgiving.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Other favershammers have written of peculiar search terms that lead people to their sites. Robert detected a conspiracy. A Li’l Pg Julie finds mostly disturbed Googlers. My own experience in this regard is more limited. I rarely have people enter my site through search engines, and when they do it’s generally pretty mundane stuff about dogs or babies or what have you (recent example: “dog psychology ‘San francisco’ how to keep your dog”). In the last couple of days, though, I’ve had a bunch. A Googler looking for “inchmeal piecemeal” came across my explanation of “Northmeal West.” Another shortly after was actually looking for “papadog blog,” but that was just Sebastian, who should know that “Papa Dog” is two words (and that neither of them contain a “w,” but that’s another story). One hardy soul tried three different searches on two different search engines looking for “yellowbeard soundbites,” and took time to examine this same post each and every time. One AOL searcher looking for “17th lancers, balaclava roll call” was doubtless disappointed to find only my lame musings on a Jim Shepard story. Today on AOL, someone doing a search for “tempera” was led to me for reasons I still find mysterious. I’ve looked all through the faversham and can’t find that word. My best guess is that AOL counted a partial match from allusions to the beguiling Ms. Temperance Alesha Lance-Council, who was robbed, robbed I tell you, in Ohio. Today, a search for “’data entry’ ‘stupid job’” (why would anyone intentionally search for that, I wonder?) turned up this post on that very subject. The most puzzling search of the bunch though, is the MSN search someone did today for the word “tippian.” I had to look to find out where that occurred in the Faversham. It was in one of my posts from Santa Barbara, when I discussed the origin of tri-tip, and invented the adjective “tri-tippian.” Here’s the puzzling thing: my page was the only one on the entire Internet that MSN could find containing the word “tippian.” Google, I’ve discovered, finds two; mine and what looks to be some sort of RPG site where “Tippian” is a character’s name (and a dorky one at that, if I may briefly editorialise). Yahoo finds me, the RPG thing, and a third one in what appears to be German.

So…why would anyone be searching for a fake word like “tippian” that appears only three times on the whole Internet? Maybe the searcher was looking for the RPG site with the dorky character name, but then why did they bother to look at my page? I’m stymied. But I’ve decided I want to corner the search engine market share on the word “tippian” by using it repeatedly in this post. I so rarely get to be in on the ground floor of anything.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Things I Done Bin Readin

It’s been an extremely slow couple of days at work, so much so that I’m finally making headway again in the stack of antediluvian newspapers. As I’d hoped, I’ve made it into September. If I remember correctly, I’ve finished up to September 3rd, in the midst of the Conference of Villains in NYC. That Zell Miller was apparently quite a firecracker. Some kind of cracker, anyway.

I also finished Skeletons on the Zahara a while back and have started in on Dubliners, by James Joyce. I picked this up out of a “Free” box in front of someone’s house during a dog walk, mostly because I’d always meant to read “The Dead,” but never had. In fact, I’d read next to no Joyce in my life, just a few scattered passages from Ulysses and one short story, “Araby” – which happens to be one of the Dubliners – which I read when I wasn’t going to college. “Araby” appears fairly early in the volume, and it was kind of a treat to re-read it for the first time since I was 18. I was surprised to find how well I recalled it, though I suppose it’s really the ending that I remembered most. If you don’t know it, it’s a story about a young boy befuddled by adolescent romanticism who moons hopelessly after the neighbour girl that he doesn’t really know. I was struck on this re-reading by one exquisitely perfect line that comes fairly early on: “I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.” There you have pretty much the whole story in one sentence. Every little bit of self-deluding childish yearning that the story tenderly illustrates is distilled in those couple of dozen simple words. He was pretty good, that Joyce. They should teach him in schools or something.

The best thing about working for a living, I’ve decided – other than perhaps the paltry but twice monthly remuneration – is the look on Baby Dog’s face when she sees me enter the room, gawping at her and crying out, “Daddy’s home!” She always breaks into a big grin and wriggles with delight. Tonight was a bit of a gyp in that regard – she was down for a nap when I came home. It meant we were able to eat dinner a little more peacefully – lovely chicken, thank you Mama Dog – but I missed my big greeting. As it happened, I was the one who went to her when she woke, so I sort of got a make-up greeting there, but she was too sleepy and grumpy (and Doc) to register that I’d been away, let alone that I had returned, so it wasn’t really the same. I guess I can wait for a proper greeting next Monday night. That’ll be the next opportunity because today is my Friday, and a five-day weekend commences tomorrow. Gran is visiting again, so I expect to be left to my own devices a lot for the next few days. I have no plans in particular. There will be story time. Tummies will be tickled. Diapers will be changed. Baby Dog will vanish behind a napkin and then miraculously reappear with the flick of a wrist. Other than that, you got me.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The One About My Haunted Window

When I lived in the apartment on 41st Street, I had a lovely set of Bay windows in my room. I had the head of the bed set right up against the bay, and I’d drift off to sleep at night listening to the station announcements at the BART platform across 40th and the lulling hum of the freeway. On hot nights I’d fling all the windows open and a soothing cool breeze would make the brutal night suddenly tolerable.

One day I came home from work and found one of the bay windows open. It gave me pause. I’m fanatical about closing and locking behind me. I lock the door behind me as I come home, not just as I leave. I couldn’t believe I left the house without securing the window. I asked Bernardo if he’d opened the window and he said no. I had no reason to disbelieve him. Nothing else seemed to be disturbed. It was a mystery.

This happened again, and then again. I would make a point of double-checking the window before I left, and when I came home it would be open. Bernardo swore he had nothing to do with it. Even if I had suspected him, his innocence was borne out later when the window opened itself while I was alone in the house. I left my room with the window closed. I hung out in the living room and watched TV. When I went back to my room, the window was open.

As I saw it, there were two explanations for the self-opening window. One explanation was that the latch was pretty weak and that it just took a little breeze to crack it open; once it was cracked, the wind easily pushed it the rest of the way. The other explanation was that my room was haunted. Since I am a rational secular humanist with absolutely no belief in the supernatural or the otherworldly, I quickly concluded that the culprit had to be the poltergeist.

People will react to things in different ways, and a haunting is no exception. Some will panic. Some will seek aid from religious authorities. Some will curse their realtor for not mentioning the Indian burial ground. Some will do as I did: shrug and go on with their lives. My ghost seemed thoroughly benign, manifesting itself only by opening the window, and always being discreet enough to do it when I wasn’t around to get freaked out. So it wanted a little fresh air while I was at work. Is that so bad? Moreover, if it was indeed a ghost, then it must have taken up residence before I signed the lease, so who was I to object? I was intruding on its space, not it on mine. I started to think of the window-opening ghost as a very low-key extra roommate. I was not long out of my first marriage and missed sharing a room with someone, after all. I found the thought of an invisible presence in my room strangely comforting. I would say goodbye to the ghost every morning when I left for work, and wish it a good day. I would be obscurely disappointed on days when I returned home to find the window still securely latched.

Somewhere around this time I went out on a date. I haven’t gone on many actual dates in my life, and I’m not very good at it – I’m loads better at being married. In fact, I think this – at the age of 25 with one marriage mostly behind me – was probably the first date I ever went on. In a very high school kind of scenario, I had heard from a friend that the gorgeous Irish girl in accounting liked me, and I somehow summoned all available courage to ask her out. It didn’t go very well. It hadn’t occurred to me that I should plan somewhere to go or something to do, so there was a bit of hopeless floundering before we ended up at a bar of her acquaintance. I didn’t drink yet, so the dynamic was immediately even more awkward as she had a beer and I sipped a Coke. If I had only known that alcohol would make it possible for me to talk in a relaxed manner in any social situation, I would have knocked back a Jägermeister, but how was I to know? Why aren’t there public service announcements about that? It was a miserable experience, me looking blankly at anything but her, grasping hopelessly for things to say, breaking out in tropical flop sweat.

Finally, I hit on what I thought was the amusing story of my haunted room and – hey, what do you know? – against all odds, all by myself, I did something that a panel of international experts on dating failure working round the clock at a five-day Romantic Disaster Symposium probably couldn’t have done: I made that dismal evening worse. I horrified her. I frightened her. She begged me not to talk about ghosts. In the pub in Ireland that her family owned, there was a ghost of an old lady that had scared her out of her wits as a child. I riffled frantically through my banter index, looking for a way to extricate myself and make things better. The best I could come up with was “Uh…oh. Sorry.” She finished her beer. I saw her off at the MUNI station. I managed to cadge a quick peck goodbye, but I knew I’d probably not have the chance to even shake her hand after that. I went home to my lonely bed by the bay window and listened to the freeway and said good night to the ghost because really, it wasn’t its fault at all.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Keeping Tabs on Darth Vader

I got to go to the movies today. I saw Les incroyables, which is really quite a fine movie for old geezers who know who Edith Head was and don’t think twice about why it should logically follow that the power of invisibility should be coupled with the power to project force fields.

The movie was preceded by a trailer for Star Wars Part 3 or Part 6, depending on how you want to look at it. It made me want to summarize once again – for those who haven’t been keeping track – the muddled ethnicity of Annakin Skywalker:

He was born a snotty little American slave kid on the desert planet of Tattooine. Later, after undergoing Jedi training and growing to adulthood, he transformed into a snotty, sullen, pouty Canadian with minimal screen presence. In the coming film, it is to be assumed, we’ll see the dramatic process by which the donning of body armour transmogrifies him into a black man who actually has screen presence, but isn’t called upon to use it and instead somehow possesses the body of oversized cockney weightlifter. Later, when he dies, he is reduced to a pasty old Englishman with asthma.

Okay, now we’re all up to speed for when the thing comes out next May.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Hair-Raising Tales

Through our teen years, Ambrose and I competed to see who could get away with growing his hair longest. By then we lived on opposite sides of the country and didn’t see one another more than every year or two, so whenever I turned up in Ottawa for one reason or another, the anticipation would be keen. One year I managed to get through an entire semester without a single haircut and got my hair down to my shoulders. I won that one walking away.

When I was finally out on my own, I decided (much as I did with dentistry) that I’d suspend for a while my visits to tonsorial salons. As is so often the case in my life, it started out as a whimsy and ended up a compulsion. From 1985 to 1995 I did nothing but periodically trim the ends of my hair. I’d trim the beard short whenever I noticed that I was starting to resemble Grizzly Adams, but the hair itself grew ever longer. It eventually made it to bum length*.

In the summer of ’95, a number of factors converged to lead me at last to a change. Factor 1: it was summer in New Orleans and I was wilting under the mop on my head. Factor 2: everybody I hung out was younger than I and they forced to recognise that maybe I was a bit of a rut with the Jesus look. Factor 3: Laura, the beautiful bald barmaid at Molly’s instituted $5 drink and a head shave night. That last wasn’t really a temptation, but at a party at David Rex’s place, Laura told me that if I were to partake in shave your head night, not only would I not have to pay the $5, but I’d have free drinks for a month. Anyone of those three factors individually I could probably overlook, but together they were irresistible. Amidst much pomp and circumstance I sat at a table in a bar and let a bartender shave ten years worth of hair off my head.

Here’s the funniest part: that day, which happened to be Flag Day, somebody called me a hippie. The next morning as I was walking to work somebody yelled at me and called me a skinhead. You just can’t win.

I have a series of photographs that chronicle the many permutations my hair went through in the following months. The first set, around Christmas, when my hair had been growing for six months, is probably the best. My friend Patrick talked my into letting him do a dark dye job on me, and it came out really well. I called that the “Young Executive on the Go” look. By the following summer, I had let my hair grow wild again, though not crazily long. What I had really let grow were my sideburns. I called that the “Touring Bassist for The Guess Who, ca. 1974” look.

After that there was kind of an accident. I decided I wanted grey hair, just so I’d know what I looked like with grey hair on the off chance I didn’t live long enough to get that way naturally. I went to a tonsorial salon and told the lady I wanted grey hair like an old man. There was both a language barrier and a credibility barrier, I think – she eventually understood what I was saying, but couldn’t believe I really wanted it. In the end I found myself looking something like Andy Warhol. Worse, when I let the roots come out and grew a little hair on my chin, it started to look like I was going for a Kurt Cobain thing. There was nothing for it but to shave off again and start over. The photos I have of this period are not flattering. Partly it’s angles and lighting, but I call these my “Moon-faced Nazi” look.

Being with Mama Dog has stabilized things for me. There have been a few minor fluctuations – we made me a redhead once – but for the most part, I just grow my hair until she starts to object and then I get a haircut. For a while we went to the same salon, but then it seemed silly for me to be paying $50 to get a haircut distinctly lacking in frills. I started going to a downscale shop on Shattuck Avenue that has a poster in the window illustrating all the classic men’s hairstyles from the 50s - the crew-cut, the flattop, the Ivy League, and so forth. We’ve been trying different items from the poster from time to time. I harbour a fantasy of someday getting the flattop with fenders, which I wish I could find a good source photo of on the Internet but can’t. Today, I got the Butch, which is your basic buzz cut. Also had my putative Winter Beard sheared off because it was looking kind of scraggly and I can’t be bothered to maintain it. Looking back, I’m kind of baffled that I let my hair grow for ten years. It feels really good when it comes off.
*American readers note: this means “ass length,” not “wino length,” though both could reasonably be descriptive of the same hairdo.

Friday, November 19, 2004

A Brief Meditation on the Act of Waving

Some memorable (to me) moments in waving – some historic, some just plain trivial: Queen Elizabeth’s patented satellite dish half-swivel; Julia Stiles’ sarcastic imitation of same in The Business of Strangers; Douglas MacArthur’s departure from Manila (not actually pictured and I don’t suppose he even waved, but somehow I always picture him doing so); Jed and all his kin at the end of each episode; the late waving man of Berkeley; and of course there’s old Dick’s weird overhand farewell.

None of these, though, will live so long in my memory as the high point of last night’s dinner. I looked up from my plate and saw Baby Dog, seated in her newly assembled high chair, staring at me with that curious focus and intensity available only to the newborn and the tetched. I smiled and gave her my imitation of another memorable wave, Chris Kattan’s bizarrely fey stiff-armed, limp-wristed waggle in Corky Romano. Baby Dog’s face lit up with her brightest grin and she returned my wave! Mama Dog and I exchanged dumfounded glances. We tried not to jump to conclusions – after all, Baby Dog has been fond of flailing her arms since her first weeks of life. So I waved again, and once more she returned my right-handed wave with a joyously mirroring left-handed thrash. We exchanged wave repeatedly through dinner, until there was no doubt; although she lacked the motor control to manage anything but a broad up-and-down motion, she was consciously attempting to duplicate my gesture. Our little girl is learning to wave.

In other news: the cannibal poll comes down tonight, and the unfortunate winner is Pamela Anderson, the preferred meal of 30% of respondents. It was a close race, with as three-way tie for second place. Elderly folk-rocker Bob Dylan received only a single vote, but it remains unclear whether respondents spared him because he’s a beloved figure or because, as a couple of people pointed out, he’d be too stringy.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dentistry and Me

In an act of rebellion that in hindsight seems monumentally pointless even to me, I stopped going to the dentist the moment I was out from under my parents’ direct supervision. I had a troubled history with dental care. I brushed regularly but somehow could never keep my teeth clean. I remember a product that came out when I was in single or early double digits. I don’t remember what it was called, but it was some sort of mouthwashy thing that was supposed to show you where you most needed to improve your dental hygiene. You brushed your teeth, then swished this stuff around in your mouth. After you spit, you grinned in the mirror, and the plaque you had failed to remove would be stained red. I don’t think that product exits this day, possibly because one or two people might have questioned how sensible it really was to stain your teeth in order to clean them. On the other hand, the fact that it was utter crap might have had something to do with it. No matter how scrupulously I brushed my teeth, every time I swished with this stuff, I would see a solid set of crimson choppers in the mirror. I know I was probably brushing badly, but I probably wasn’t brushing that badly.

My first dentist was Dr. Bigelow. He did his best to keep pace with the devastation I would wreak upon my teeth through eager consumption of candy and soft drinks. He cleaned them up and plugged the holes. There was always some sort of renovation work required when I saw Dr. Bigelow. I didn’t mind, because he used general aesthetic. I didn’t like the first funny-smelling tang of the gas, but I knew that shortly afterwards I would experience a pleasant feeling for which I lacked a name. I am now old enough to know the name of that feeling, which is “being stoned.” One time they left me gassing up a little longer than they’d meant to, but that was okay with me. The dentist’s chair had started revolving up the wall and around the ceiling like a carnival ride, and I thought it was kind of neat.

We moved west in ’77 and I never saw Dr. Bigelow again. The first time a the new dentist’s, I went in looking forward to that first hit of the dental bhang only to be rudely surprised when this hideous quack suddenly produced a needle and rammed it in my jaw. Local aesthetic! What the fuck use is that? I want my peaceful easy feeling back! That initial sense of disappointment grew and festered through my high school years until I was able to show the world – or at least the Canadian Dental Association – by not visiting a dentist again until I was 34.

Well, okay, the initial grudge only lasted a few years. By that time, though, I was poor and uninsured in America and therefore did not deserve dental care in an unfettered free market. After a few years of that, I gradually developed another reason to stay away: dread. It’s a vicious little cycle – the longer I’d gone without seeing a dentist, the more horrific I became convinced the consequences would be, so I’d put them off all the longer. I know there’s not a lot of rationality in that, but there you go.

Worse, I had a cautionary example in Bernardo. He’d gone through a similar stretch of dental celibacy until a toothache forced him back into the chair. His treatment program had involved the loss of several teeth and the installation of an prosthetic appliance. I’d been away from the dentist longer than he had, and was sure that I’d have it worse. I mean, I wasn’t quite Shane MacGowan, but by then ten years had elapsed since my last dental visit, so I had cause to worry.

I was not so worried that I did anything about it, though. I ultimately went almost eighteen years between visits. It took the love of a good woman to reform me, as is so often the case. As I learned over the course of our first couple years together, Mama Dog had developed a short list of necessary revisions to yr. humble work in progress. One involved finding out whether or not I had a tumour. Close behind that was Doing Something About the Teeth.

I can’t overstate what a big deal this had become by that time. The thought of going to the dentist was my own personal Grendel. I’d grown convinced that after I’d been in the chair about ten seconds, the dentist would shriek in horror and start ripping things out indiscriminately. I had visions of geysers of blood arcing from my mouth and bouncing off framed posters of Matisse paintings while “Up Up and Away” by The 5th Dimension played faintly over the horrible whine of the drill. Mama Dog took pains to reassure me that they wouldn’t do anything I didn’t agree to in advance. I grudgingly admitted that made sense, and filed away in the back of my mind the thought that if my worst-case scenario came true I could at least refuse to pay for it.

To show I had a sense of humour about things, we watched Marathon Man shortly before my first appointment.

Either surprisingly or predictably depending on how far ahead of me you are here, the first visit was a complete anti-climax. Dr. Communist looked my teeth over and managed to keep a poker face instead of shrieking in horror. He also managed to restrain himself from ripping anything out. He formulated and went over a long-range treatment plan. Given the years of neglect and abuse, things weren’t really that bad. I needed deep cleaning, a bunch of fillings, and a consultation with a dental surgeon on my wisdom teeth, which I’d been trying to think about even less than all the other ones for the past couple of decades. I had a bit of survivor’s guilt when I thought about the bum hand Bernardo got dealt. Somewhere along the line, I must have been blessed by the Tooth Fairy.

That initial appointment was about four years ago now, and the treatment plan long since concluded. I’ve been cleaned and buffed and drilled and grouted and relieved of my wisdom teeth, which weren’t really bothering anybody but had the potential to make life more difficult. I did go for a consultation with an orthodontist who had a whole passel of recommendations, but those are going to have to wait for a time when we have the extra cash to buy second and third boats for orthodontists. At first I was in Dr. Communist’s office every three months, but now I’m down to twice a year. I went for a check-up yesterday and I didn’t need anything but a polish. Ten years ago that would have seemed the stuff of science fiction to me. So yeah, yeah. That right there. That’s the power of love.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Baby Thrashin'*

Last night was the first time in a while I’ve been around for Baby Dog’s bath time, and the new development seems to be: hey Mikey, she likes it! She still opens her eyes wide in surprise when her bum first hits the water, but that’s soon followed by unmistakable signs of delight, manifested mostly in terms of vigorous kicking and splashing. All four chubby little limbs were in constant motion throughout bath time, whipping the lovingly mediumed water into a froth and converting the moulded plastic wash tub into a seething vortex of fun. She kept looking up at me and giving me her biggest grin. The only thing that made her hold still was when I lifted her forward so that Mama Dog could soap her back. Mama Dog and I agreed that she’s probably ready for a trip to the swimming pool sometime soon.

Today, I finally got around to assembling the Sesame Street 3-in-1 Baby Explorer that we received as a gift from a Pigeon when we were down in Santa Barbara in August. I don’t know why it’s taken me three months to get around to it. Lack of a space to put it, I suppose – the Ocean Wonders swing and bouncy chair take up most o the available baby toy space. That, and we put the box in a cupboard after we got back from SB. Out of sight, out of mind. Now, however, Baby Dog’s on the verge of outgrowing the swing and the toy bar on the bouncy chair seems to be crapped no matter how many fresh batteries we put in. Seemed like maybe it was time to give her a fresh playtime option.

This was an immediate success, eliciting exactly the same kind of four-limbed exultation we saw last night in the tub. Maybe she’s just a spaz? No, it does seem directly related to the activity. Every time one of her random thrashings caused the toy to make a noise, Baby Dog would squeal and beam. It seemed a hit. Better still, the thing’s supposed to last into toddlerhood, converting into different uses along the way. BUT – there’s always a but – if you followed the link to the Amazon page in the last paragraph, you might have noticed that almost all the reviews were negative, including one from somebody who thinks the toy’s dangerous and should be recalled. From the sound of it, that person assembled the thing incorrectly, but still, we’ll keep an eye on. Doesn’t seem to be much danger right now, as the first stage just involves lying her on her back and letting her bat things. The key thing: she stopped fussing! She stopped crying! She played with Elmo or whichever one that was! I guess I’ll learn the difference in the coming years!
*That is, "The baby was thrashing about," not "I thrashed the baby." In case that was unclear.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

When We Were Younger, and Nihilists (I Suppose)

Thane was unprepared to live into his thirties, much less his forties, which is where he is now. His dad died young and he always assumed he’d meet a similar end, so he lived his twenties as though they were all the time he’d have. I don’t think he could find a reason to have any regrets about that, but I do sometimes get the sense he’s somewhat embarrassed, not by his youthful recklessness, but by the fact of his survival. Kind of like a weatherman who predicted rain and got a heat wave. Or like a pollster who predicted good news for all and hope on the way and got a second Bush term instead. “Awfully sorry. Don’t know where we could have got it wrong. The forecast was for dead by thirty.”

I’m of a more conscious nature and have always been keen on longevity. The time we were most eerily in synch on the “die young stay pretty” thing was that summer night (1992, I think) in LA, the world’s capital of hope abandoned but unnoticed. Thane was trying to find ways to pack a little more excess into a day, and I was trying to find ways to evaporate from a life that had let me down. In our own ways and for our own reasons we were both rather welcoming of annihilation.

We were crashing at the home of a couple of actress-model-secretaries (the archetypal Hollywood hyphenates). They’d told us a couple of clubs to check out, but of course the game in Hollywood was (and I assume still is) to make the clubs impossible to find if you don’t already know where they are. No signs, no addresses, no reasonable way of deducing which blank façade houses the den of iniquity in question. Thane’s kind of hopeless when it comes to following even good directions, so the whole thing was a recipe for disaster. The one place we managed to find was deserted. Maybe 11 o’clock was too early? Who knows. We didn’t stick around to find out.

Headed back to Sherman Oaks, Thane was furious for the first while, venting his loathing of “the scene” in all its snotty incarnations. He manifested his anger through speed, blazing through the strangely empty freeway. Then for some reason he calmed down and we got talking normally – though with no noticeable reduction in speed. I don’t know what we talked about. The Fugitive, maybe? That was always good for an hour or two. At any rate, we got so intent on whatever it was that neither of us noticed the change in road conditions right away. We both looked up at the same moment and realised that the we were speeding along on the wrong side of some traffic zones.

“Huh.” I said, mildly, casually, like pointing out a new donut shop, “looks like we’re driving through a construction zone.”

“Oh yeah,” Thane agreed. “I guess I should get back to the other side.”

“I guess so.”

He heaved to the left, scattering a row of cones, exiting the construction zone just as we came around a sharp turn. As we rounded the bend, we saw a bulldozer, parked straight in the path we’d been hurtling along a moment before. Had we waited even a few seconds longer to cross the line of cones, we would have hit the dozer like Petrocelli in Vanishing Point.

I don’t know quite how to explain our reaction. Any other night, Thane would have been left amped on adrenaline from such a close call. Any other night, I would have been shiting it and swearing never to get in a car again with that crazy-ass mofo.

Instead, Thane took a look at the rear-view and said, like he’d just ducked a boring conversation with a longwinded co-worker, “I guess it’s a good thing I changed lanes.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, thinking it over. “I guess so.”

Monday, November 15, 2004

A Few Quick Things Instead of a Real Entry Because It's Late and I Want to Watch "Arrested Development" Before I Go to Bed

I just realised I never did the wrap-up on the “John Ashcroft’s underwear” poll. There weren’t many votes, but naturally boxers led 3-to-1. I guess he’s pretty self-evidently a boxers man, but it still gave me a giggle to ask. I liked Charles’ rationale for “none of the above,” though. And in retrospect I wish I’d put in an option for going commando.

It was finally a slow day at work today, with not much of anything at all for me to do in the afternoon. I finally broke down and resumed looking at the old newspapers. Kerry is urging Bush to condemn those Swift Boat ads. I predict that’ll happen. If I can keep at it steadily, maybe I’ll make it into September by the weekend.

I found another new game that Baby Dog likes. When changing her, I’ll squeeze her thighs and say in a very deep voice, “Plump thighs!” Then I’ll squeeze her calves and say in a high squeaky voice, “Plump calves!” I have no idea why I did that in the first place, or why I equated thighs with a deep voice and calves with a squeaky one, but it makes her laugh every time, so it’s all good.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Profiles in Vagrancy/Babytalking

Then there was the time Magnus and I woke up at a rest stop just on the Arizona side of the AZ-NM border, had some breakfast, spent our last dime tanking up the car, and headed off into New Mexico with no real idea where we were going or how we’d scrape together money for gas to get any farther. Summer of ‘92, it was. Magnus thought maybe he knew somebody in Santa Fe, but it sounded kind of iffy and his more tenuous leads had a way of not panning out (as I was later quite chagrined to discover in Oklahoma). I couldn’t think of anybody I’d ever known in New Mexico, but a ransacked brain cells long dormant in cold storage and managed to dredge up an uncertain memory. We stopped at a payphone – people used payphones back then – and I called the Less Satisfactory Wife collect back in Oakland. Les satisfactory as she was, I have to admit she was usually understanding about things like that. “Am I remembering right,” I asked, “that ‘Julia’ moved to Albuquerque?” “Julia” was the LSW’s friend from high school, whom I had met exactly once, at our wedding six years earlier. “Yes,” said the LSW. “Great,” said I. “Could you call her and tell her we’ll be there in a couple of hours and need a place to stay?”

A little further down the road we stopped again and I called the LSW back. To my surprise, not only had she called “Julia,” but “Julia” had agreed to let us crash at her house for three nights, which should be more than sufficient to get us back on our feet again. The LSW gave us “Julia’s” phone number and told us she worked at the Holiday Inn. She’d be off shortly after we arrived in town.

“Julia” and her husband, “Rich,” lived in a two-bedroom apartment with their four-year-old son. Their neighbours were crackheads and their work friends were morons. Since they’d been in town they’d had nobody to talk with but children and idiots. In an unbelievably lucky happenstance, not only were they annoyed to have a couple of strangers drop in on them to freeload, they were thrilled. We were a lifeline for them to the civilised world…people who could talk about books! They fed us til we burst and our time sacked out in their living room stretched out to a week. Our arrival was actually lucky for them in another respect…their car chose that week to crap out and if it hadn’t been for Magnus’ chariot they wouldn’t have had a way to get to work.

I was thinking about “Julia” and “Rich” this morning probably because I was babytalking to the Li’l Puppy. I could see how easy it would be to lose contact with the adult world. I mean, I go to a job and have contact with grownups all the time – but just a few hours a day of “You have toes! Yes you do, there they are! There are your toes! Daddy’s got your toes!” and you find yourself thinking that way under pretty much any circumstances. “Here’s your report! It’s all typed! Yes it is! Papa Dog’s got it here! Do you want your report? Let me see a smile!” It’s probably a good thing that we maintain a veneer of social life. It would be a disservice to Baby Dog to let her parents devolve into babbling idiots all the time.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Our Tribe

We brunched today at Kermit and Cuvée’s house. Later, hungry, Mama Dog said to me, “I didn’t really have lunch today.” I said, “Yes you did. It was the ‘unch’ part of the brunch.” And really, we had breakfast first thing in the morning, so we’d already had the “br” part as well. Mama Dog’s of the opinion, though, brunch is not a conflation of breakfast and lunch but an extra meal that can be conveniently tucked between the other two. This is a very special time of life for Mama Dog; the natural weight loss program that is breastfeeding allows her to take in calories with giddy abandon and not gain. I, on the other hand, grow ever more porcine. I’ve tracked my weight since losing forty pounds on Weight Watchers a couple years ago. I’d gained about 25 of them back when the computer died and I lost my weight tracking spreadsheet. Without a place to enter data, I suddenly noticed that I didn’t give a shit, stopped weighing myself, and started helping myself to the leftover Halloween candy. I may now be back over the dreaded 200 lb. mark for all I know. I’m thinking maybe I’ll sign back up for Weight Watchers. But if I’m doing that I might as well finish the big baked lard cookies I impulse-bought the other night when getting tea.

All of which is really a long rambling digression.

What I meant to talk about was the crowd at Kermit and Cuvée’s house, which included two other couples; the stepinlaws and some friends of K&C who had with them their two-year-old boy. We had Baby Dog with us, and both Cuvée and the stepsisinlaw are expecting in March. Everybody there was either a parent or soon to be one, which still seems like a strange context for me to be in. This time last year, our friends were all childless late-thirtysomethings like ourselves. Now all of a sudden we’re a passel of late-thirtysomething first-time parents. We’re all going to be miserable cranky old wretches by the time we pass our young off to college or the mill (as fate allows).

I remember seven years back or so, Kermit and I would sometimes go to Club Mallard to drink and not meet women. Actually, the way it worked out was that I’d drink and we’d both fail to meet women. Kermit was always the designated driver because I’d never learned how. He’d nurse a beer all night while I lined up the cocktails and we’d commiserate about our various lifestyle shortfalls. I was pretty firmly convinced it was all over for me. Kermit would say, “No, you gotta keep getting back on that horse.” Then he’d pick some tunes and I’d drink some more and think that if the objective was to find a woman, then sitting at the bar drinking and talking only to the guy friend I came with might not be the most efficient way to go about it.

Fast forward a bit. Don’t ask me how, but I found my way out of that rut and was married to Mama Dog. Through an unlikely chain of events involving the fact that Bernardo doesn’t ever wake up on time, that his roommate had a copy of Us Magazine lying around, and that a book company was too cheap to arrange a real reading tour for a writer, I was the unlikely facilitator to first place Kermit and Cuvée in a room together. It looked like maybe Kermit was out of his rut, too, but he had an uncertain road to travel. When things were looking a little iffy for him in those early days, he sought my advice and, remembering his ready use of the horse cliché, I put on my best George I voice and said, “Stay the course.” He did, and so here we all are. Our tribe, ever growing.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I'm Tired and Way Too Full

I was at work tonight past suppertime. So far past, in fact, that my resistance crumbled and I heeded the siren call of the microwave popcorn, for which I am truly sorry. It’s a beastly food, and it brings out the beastliness in me. For reasons never quite clear to me I find it impossible to eat popcorn in anything less than great honking fistfuls, scattering detritus both popped and unpopped liberally about the landscape. Orts on the carpet, kernels in my lap. Whose bright idea was it to make microwave popcorn the designated after-hours office food? What could be worse for a computer-using office dweller than greased up buttery fingers? I wipe and wipe on the napkins filched from the yuppie food court down the street, and still I fear I’m leaving forensic evidence on my keyboard.

After all that, there was steak and taters waiting for me at home. Mama Dog, my Mama Dog. She without whom I would long ago have succumbed to the scurvy. I’m fairly sure there are still kernels erupting in my stomach, but I clean my plate with all due gratitude. Good food, good food, but bismillah! Where to put it? Now I sit at the home computer, fingers still vaguely slick, thinking I just need to blether a few lines in the faversham to keep my streak alive, but all I have on my mind is my tight drum of a stomach and the warm marital bed awaiting me if I can just put aside this particular compulsion for a bit and call it the end of another long, long two-day work week.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Close to ninety years ago, both of my grandfathers were in Belgium, having traveled halfway across the world (from Quebec and Alberta) to join a great army of men fighting to the death to capture towns they’d never heard of for causes they weren’t really sure of. Like any war before or since, the ultimate motivations behind the conflict were money, land, and power; and as in any war before or since, the men actually doing the killing and dying would tell you they were fighting for their countries.

Both my grandfathers were in the 1st Canadian Division and fought in the Second Battle of Ypres, which stands to this day as one of the most horrific events in human warfare. It was during this action that the Kaiser’s army decided to experiment with chemical warfare, spreading a blanket of poisonous gas over the Allied positions. This was before soldiers were issued gas masks; the best they could do was to put a cloth over their noses and mouths. If that worked, then they had two choices; stay down in the trench until the gas killed them, or pop their heads up to breathe in the thick of rifle and artillery fire. My grandfathers were lucky; they made it back relatively scathed, and so made it possible for me to type these words to you today.

I wish I knew more than I do about my grandfathers’ experiences, but what little I know has been gleaned at second or third hand and mostly forgotten since childhood. I know that Grandpa Feunoir spent some time buried alive, I think in a trench collapse. I wonder if it was during the gas attacks? If so, ironically, being buried probably saved his life. Very counterintuitive.

Today’s the day, in Canada, when we all put plastic poppies on our lapels in honour of those long-ago dead. The poppies allude to the poem by our countryman, Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD, who tended to the casualties of that terrible battle. Sitting by the cemetery in Flanders where the men he couldn’t save resided, he wrote:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I remember when I was young, that poem would be inescapable on Remembrance Day. I remember watching the broadcasts from Parliament Hill, old men standing in the shadow of the Peace Tower, wrapped up in thick coats and fur hats, saluting, little spots of red from the plastic poppies on their chests. I remember thinking that Remembrance Day was literal for them, but never could be for me. I don’t suppose there were many, or maybe even any, of those old men on Parliament Hill today. Even the veterans of the Second World War (once they discovered they had to number them lest they lose track and have to start over) are getting scarce. So I do my best, on behalf of their vanished numbers, to remember what I can.

Every year I drink a toast, with the best whiskey to hand. I’m out of scotch right now, so tonight it’ll be 10 year Canadian Club Reserve (Mama Dog offered her Maker’s Mark, but, well, bourbon’s for ladies and Americans, of which she is both and I am neither). Usually I say: “This is for all the poor bastards who died in foreign wars.” Tonight I’ll be thinking too of the poor bastards who continue to die for empires. I’m sure most of the men dying in Iraq right now believe sincerely that the sacrifice they make is for their country, and may whatever deity they might believe in bless them for that. I’m nobody to say that what they think they’re fighting for is any less relevant than what they probably are fighting for. My grandfathers likely thought they were fighting to preserve freedom from the Hun, and like Lt. Col. McCrae, MD, they doubtless would have considered any failure of effort on their part to be an unforgivable insult to the men who’d died before them. Odd, though, that they should be pulled from their homes at the order of distant Colonial masters to preserve their freedom. Still, they kept the Kaiser from occupying Bloor Street. Ultimately, what they helped achieve was the transfer of possessions from one set of colonial powers to another. It took the second go-around to finish breaking the backs of those old Empires. I suppose we can be thankful (as we’re remembering), that like the crowds of old men on Parliament Hill, at least the wars are getting smaller.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Mini-Poll PS

Oh yeah. Closed down the "hot enough for ya? in hell" poll. Unsurprisingly, 55% of you do not want to spend eternity listening to Gilbert Gottfried saying that or, I suspect, anything else. 27% would least want to listen to Yoko singing it. Apparently nobody would be creeped out listening to either Joe Pesci or HAL 9000 for all eternity so, hey, to each their own. Now let's hear your thoughts on John Asscroft's underwear.

A Movie I Sort of Lived Once

This past Sunday, Mama Dog and I went to the movies, but not together – we went in shifts, each staying home with Baby Dog while the other went out. I did the noonish shift, while she caught the 4:15 – still at a reasonable matinée price. The movie in question was Sideways, and it’s probably the best movie I’ve seen this year (though of course we haven’t seen many since Baby Dog debuted). I suppose I have to admit that my affinity for the movie stems from a recognition of the familiar.

It’s a buddy road movie, and the dynamic between the buddies – bookish Miles and tomcat Jack – reminds me more than a little of the Odysseys that Sebastian and I undertook during my seasons adrift. Like me at that time, Miles is divorced (we hadn’t yet signed the papers, but it amounted to the same thing), depressed, filled with self-loathing, and slowly coming to terms with the reality that he’s unlikely to ever have a career as a writer. Like Sebastian, Jack is an opportunistic poonhound with a laser focus on the same key issue at any given moment of the day: where’s the next potential receptacle? There are differences. I’d rather drink scotch than wine and Sebastian wouldn’t bother lying to a woman about his feelings or intentions, but a lot in the way they relate to each other is strikingly familiar. In his review of the movie, Roger Ebert says “their friendship endures because together they add up to a relatively complete person.” I remember saying almost that exact same thing to Sebastian ten years ago. The way I put it was, “Between the two of us, we make one pretty decent human being.”

Sebastian, man, I doubt we have any more Odysseys coming up. I’m kind of into sticking to one spot for the foreseeable future. But go see this one. I think, in a weird way, that it’ll take you back.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Working for the Man Every Night and Day

Late to bed and late to rise was Baby Dog’s credo last night. She didn’t stop her sobbing and go to sleep until after ten – but then she didn’t wake up until around 7:30. Nine and one half hours sawing logs – or what we like to call around here “clear cutting.” Pretty good. That’s good news/bad news for Mama Dog. Mama Dog got a good night’s sleep, but woke up desperately in need of a milking. For me, I’m not sure if it’s good news/bad news, of just bittersweet news. I got somewhat less sleep than Mama Dog through nobody’s fault but my own (just about to turn the computer off and go to bed when I remembered a freelance job I had due that night). Then in the morning I barely saw the bairn. I changed her nappy when she finally woke up, but then she went straight to the breast and had only just finished when it was time for me to go.

Fire drills all day at the job. Another big proposal extolling my company’s virtues in the dirt and pollutants game. Another crack at the spreadsheet from hell, which filled a 36 x 44 sheet with 10-point type. Then a long afternoon’s slog through a 100+ page document that had apparently been conceived and formatted by a crew of palsied one-eyed mandrills who composed the thing while talking on cell phones and chasing the dragon. I’m off tomorrow and couldn’t very well leave the thing half-finished for my backup (she’d never make head or tails of it – you can’t leave off halfway through a mandrill-to-human translation), so I had to stay ‘til it was done.

I called Mama Dog as I was walking to BART and she said she was putting the wee one down for a sleep soon. On the train, I started to brood on that. It was dark out. All my life I’ve really enjoyed days when I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark because it means I avoid the rays of that wretched engine of carcinogens in the sky, but since having a baby, things are different. Coming home late means missing out on precious parenting time. It made me nuts to think I’d seen her for only ten minutes or so in the morning, and then she’d be asleep by the time I got home. For once, it seemed a good thing to me that the dog raises such a ruckus when I come home; maybe he’d wake her up.

From Rockridge, I called Mama Dog, and she said the little one wasn’t asleep after all, but feeding. Hope glimmered. When I got home, Doggy Dog failed me…he was unusually subdued. Baby Dog was indeed still suckling, but she was for all practical purposes asleep. Mama Dog suggested I change the baby’s diaper before putting her to bed, and so dutifully I did. Dutifully, but conflictedly. The diaper change was sure to wake her, and that’s what I’d been hoping for…but she was sleeping so contentedly, it really seemed a shame.

For a moment or two, it looked like she might sleep through the change. Then slowly, gradually, her face crinkled open, her lids popped up. She kicked her legs, looked me in the face, and grinned. It took another half hour of crying and shushing to get her back to sleep after that, but all was right in our house, if not in the world.

Monday, November 08, 2004

It's Past My Bedtime and the Election Still Sucks

Oh, I'm running late tonight. No time to come up with anything substantive, so here are a couple of jokes cribbed from The Prairie Home Companion, which all we old types listen to.

What's the difference between the Vietnam War and the Iraq war?
George W. Bush had a plan for getting out of the Vietnam War.

Hans Blix says to Colin Powell, "So, Colin, why are you so sure there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?" Colin says, "Well, we've still got the receipts."

So George Dubya dies, and in the afterlife St. Peter tells him he can choose whether he wants to go to heaven or hell. George starts to say "Heaven, of course," but St. Pete cuts him off. "Don't be hasty," he says, "you get to check them both out before you decide." So George shrugs. He's not normally that curious about things or interested in travel, but he decides to go along with it. He goes down to hell and is surprised to find it's home to the most perfect eighteen holes of golf he's ever seen. In the clubhouse there's a cocktail party going on, and so many of his old friends are there. His daddy's there, Mr. Cheney's there, and Mr. Rumsfeld, Kenny Boy, Mr. Murdoch, that nice Harris lady from Florida, all his favourite folks. Satan's there too, but it turns out he's a great raconteur and a big donor. The night zooms by, and it's the most enjoyable party he's ever been to. A little shaken, George W heads back up to heaven to check it out. It's nice, but kind of...well, boring. Everybody's sitting around discussing ethics and justice, and the talk is kind of going over his head. Time crawls by. Finally, St. Pete comes along and gets him free from this dull crowd, and asks, "So, George, where do you want to spend eternity?" George says, "Well, I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I think I'd rather spend eternity in hell." "So be it," says St. Pete and down George W plummets through abysmal darkness, finally landing in a lake of fire, where he hears the voice of Gilbert Gottfried repeating "Hot enough for ya?" over and over again. All his friends from the night before are writhing in agony, screaming and lamenting. Satan comes along, cackling. George W says, "What's going on? This isn't what hell looked like yesterday!" And Satan says, "Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted for us!"

Plus...I'm still all for staying and fighting, but I know plenty of Americans who are talking about decamping to the Old Country. My Old Country, that is. Truthfully, Canada doesn't really want you to move there. They'd rather you come as tourists and spend some money. Here’s a little extra reading on the subject, and if you're still really keen on the idea, you should at least take the test to see if you’re even qualified to be Canadian.

True story: I didn't pass, but Mama Dog did. Being a college dropout screwed me. As I said to Mama Dog, it's a good thing I'm the one who was born there and she's the one with the fancypants degree.

And lastly...take a look at some sincere apologies.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Tired Old Gamblers and Hate Speech Residue on a Quiet Sunday Morning

A soothing night’s poker: Was last night the first night we’ve had the poker game at our place since Baby Dog first anted up? I’m not sure, but it was definitely the first time we’ve had it upstairs since then, and it surely made for a different game from years past. One of the basic tenets of the game has always been that it’s a musical democracy. Everybody is free to bring their picks, and the discs are played in an order selected randomly by the cards. If that meant we had to listen to Bernardo’s laserdisc of Golden Earring Live, then so be it. Everybody had a chance, everybody had a say. Current top 40 crap, old top 40 crap, rockabilly, Irish sea shanties, funk, Jerry Goldsmith, 80s metal, modern jazz, country, rap, chain gang songs, classical, TV show themes, they’ve all shown up at one time or another on our playlist. Well, that was then, this is now. Like America itself, the music selection in our house on poker might be many things, but democracy is probably not a strictly accurate description. While we haven’t converted to the prevailing system of divinely sanctioned monarchy, we moved along to something perhaps best described as a neonatal snoozocracy. Poor Bernardo never even got the chance to scare us by showing what he’d brought. We had a 4½-month-old to put to sleep, so there was an embargo on sounds that fail to lull. Where once the drunken gambling and gambolling was accompanied by an absurdly amplified cacophony of Brechtian castrati blues, one now heard only the mild susurrations of a collection of middle aged card players placing orderly wagers to the soothing sounds of The Mills Brothers. Baby Dog went to sleep in her crib listening Alberto Igelisias’ lovely score for Hable con Ella, and the deal was sealed by a little Beethoven? We’ve had this game going for six or seven years now. I can’t remember a quieter one. We are old and we are tired and we are parents. When we offer words of encouragement and advice such as “Shit or get of the pot, numbnuts,” we do it quietly, and the baby sleeps on.

A troubling morning’s walkies: While taking Doggy Dog out for his Sunday morning sniff ‘n’ purge, I came across a curious item discarded in the gutter. It was a tabloid-sized leaflet, crudely laid out and ineptly photocopied, bearing a large photograph of a local resident. The banner headline gave her name and identified her as “an abortionist.” Below was her home address. The address was a block away from where I was standing.

Because I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing, I picked the noxious thing up and took it home. Now, I try not to go too far overboard when it comes to blaming the Cheney regime for the ills of the world, but geeze, the nutbars seem emboldened, don’t they? Hate flyers in the middle of the Bay Area. I try to avoid the comparisons to the Nazis, I really do – but this seemed forebodingly similar to an anti-Semitic tract in 1933 Berlin. It seemed like a first step toward Kristallnacht.

We thought about calling the victim or going over to her house to let her know about the attack being perpetrated upon her, but Mama Dog did a little net research and it turns out this has been going on for a while. She’s probably already all too familiar with it.

If anybody still really thinks there’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats anymore, remember the people who sent these flyers. George is their boy. They are his base.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Different Dogs

The Dingos are out of town. I don’t think I ever asked where they were going, but I’m assuming it’s some sort of interstate crime spree. They have two dogs –three, really, but they kennelled the recently acquired stray. The Dingos used to mind Doggy Dog in those heady days of a couple of years ago when Mama Dog and I were still a childless two-income family, jetting away for lunch in Tokyo every Thursday and always in the market for the very latest fur-lined sinks. Now that we’re down to my one paltry income, paying for all manner of baby stuff, and patching our threadbare garments with candy wrappers we find discarded in our driveway next to the rusting Volvo up on blocks (with the weeds growing through the space where the engine was), we couldn’t buy them a dogsitter, but we could rally our friends to action. There are several of us whose critters have been from time to time in care of the Dingos, and it was high time the favour was returned. I broke their absence down into shifts and drew up a little schedule, and induced several of our kith to sign up. In no time, we had the whole weekend covered.

Last night, I went over to take the first shift. It occurred to me just before I left our house that I’d never walked in on these dogs before without a Dingo or two present, and had no idea how they’d react. Just to be on the safe side, I stuffed a couple of dog biscuits in my pockets before I left. Of course, I had to give Doggy Dog one when he saw me going for the cookie jar. I’d hope he wouldn’t see me stash the other two, but that was silly. He can’t count to three, but he can smell through denim. He followed me with a quizzical, expectant look on his face all the way to the front door, which I was then obliged to close in his furry face.

I needn’t have worried. Both dogs have pit in them, which is the ultimate bad rap breed. These two make a great hue and cry when someone enters their house, be they friend or foe, so in that sense they’re good guard dogs; but as attack dogs, they make great lovemuffins. I was attacked with wagging tails and slobbery kisses and great drooling gratitude when I produced the dog biscuits from my pockets. They’d been on their own since noon, so I first let them out back for a wee then set about figuring where their food was. This was kind of a strategic error, because I was rummaging about for bowls rather than seeing what they were up to, so I had no idea whether or not they’d really done their business out of doors. I let them out again after they ate. They didn’t seem too interested in elimination, or even in being outside, so I reckoned they were done.

When I got home, Doggy Dog gave my pant legs an unusually thorough sniffing. It’s natural to assume that he was reading the scent of the other dogs. I have a hunch, though, that he was still looking for those other two biscuits.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Happy Anniversary, Darling Wife; Bigass Muhfuh'n Baby Girl; and Yes, the Election Did Indeed Suck

Looking for a moment at something other than the grim landscape of Karl Rove’s America, today is the fifth anniversary of the day Mama Dog and I were wed at San Francisco City Hall, once known as the place where Marilyn Monroe married some football player, now known as the place where all those boys and girls married all those other boys and girls. On election night, I was skimming back and forth between cable news channels with the sound off, and was surprised to see the chap who married us on CNN…file footage of him officiating at the union of two women, used to illustrate, I suppose, why so many religious wingnuts turned out to vote. Oh, now, I’m trying not to talk about that stuff. It’s difficult, isn’t it? Anyway, we haven’t discussed specifics, but I’m pretty sure the plan is to spend tonight at home too tired to do anything but play with the baby’s toes and wonder where all the time went. Yeah, like I’d tell you what we do on our anniversary.

Baby Dog has been sleeping in her own room the last couple of nights. She’s pretty much outgrown the Co-Sleeper, so it seemed time to put her in the bigger crib, where she has room to stretch out her arms and kick her legs about. It’s very strange not to have our extra little roommate after four months sleeping in the same room. No more carefree late night games of “Is she still breathing?” – at least not without getting up and walking through the bathroom and trying to somehow avoid the creaky floorboards in her bedroom (which would be all of them). She’s continuing on at the growth rate we calculated some time back would eventually cause her to engulf the planet. Ninety-seventh percentile in both height and weight for her age, which is the very tippity-top of normal. Or as I like to say, with every measure of parental pride, “Any bigger and she’d be a freak!”

I guess I got a little sidetracked with the week’s catastrophe. I forgot to even report on the closure of my “Sexiest 19th Century Governor General of Canada” poll. It was a three-way tie, with 29% each, between the Earls of Dufferin and Aberdeen and Lord Stanley of Preston. I have an uneasy suspicion that old Lord Stan got some votes because there’s some hockeyball thing named after him, but as we’ve seen, that’s politics. Whatever the reasons, I’m sure the descendants of all three gentlemen are thrilled and honoured to know that you harbour lust in your hearts for their ancestors.

I guess I’ll have to figure out a new poll to put up tonight. The “how much did the election suck?” poll has proved rather popular. At the moment, 56% of you say “More than anything in history has ever before sucked,” which even I think is a little harsh. I mean, yeah, it sucks, but world wars and genocides have probably been a tad worse. On the other hand (thinking out loud here), I don’t suppose we want to give the Bad Guys the idea that they need to raise the bar. So, okay, it’s worse than anything in history. No need to make it any worse to set a record.

Are you still feeling bad? I’m not. Really. I’m feeling motivated. There’s encouragement here and here and here.

Home now. Celebrations await.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Voice from the Right

Big day on the old faversham. Somewhat against my better judgment, I spammed a link to yesterday’s rant out to pretty much my entire address book, and was rewarded with an overwhelmingly positive response and the heaviest traffic since I put the hit counter on.

Only two of the respondents were Republicans, and I guess that’s a big part of the problem we face – not knowing the enemy. Only two of the people I’ve corresponded with since starting to accumulate that address book see things differently enough to identify with the 59 million or so (plus or minus the result of touch screen shenanigans) who voted to elect the shrub. That’s what makes a turn of events as ugly as Tuesday night so baffling for the likes of me. Everyone I know sees the same thing I do when watching Geo. Bush flap his gums on the news: a smug, arrogant, lying scumbag backed by a bizarre coalition of robber barons and soldiers of Christ. One knows there are ardent Bush supporters out there – one hears about them in the news like, say a newly discovered moon of Saturn. But it seems somehow that a newly discovered moon of Saturn is more likely to be observed strolling along College Avenue than is an ardent Bush supporter. It’s difficult to anticipate the moves of such an alien species.

Well, okay, so maybe that’s job one. Get to know the other side. Of the two right-leaning folk who replied to my spam, only one of them was an actual Bush supporter, and strangely he’s neither a homophobic evangelical loon nor the CEO of an energy concern. I kind of wondered if I might receive a response from him like the one I got. I seemed to recall he was of rather a libertarian bent, and while that hardly makes a natural fit with an administration dedicated to the speedy dismantling of civil liberties, I was pretty sure he sat further to the right on the political spectrum than most of the other spammees. He was kind enough to expand my audience by excerpting part of my post on his blog – surrounded, of course, by a patronising post of his own wherein he accused me of being patronising, but hey, what’re ya gonna do? – and included a link to the full post. Least I can do is return the favour. He’s a good guy, though of course completely wrongheaded (clearly he believes a lot of what he reads in the right-wing press). These few paragraphs are all the recreational writing I have time for tonight, but I’ll be sending him a reply sometime this weekend, and we’ll see where things go from there.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Black Armband on the Faversham

Yesterday started out well, I thought. For days it had looked like things were going the Good Guys’ way, signs, portents, and polls all heaving laboriously about like a laden tanker, slowly but plainly moving in the direction of a small but sure Kerry victory. I raced home from work, hoping to get back before the first returns had been announced. The first results were depressing but not surprising – the Bad Guys well in the lead off the bat, but all in fundamentalist strongholds they had been sure to take. Gradually, Kerry began to make ground on the eastern seaboard, but then a little after nine, I heard NPR call Florida for the villains. Polls had shown that state shifting into the Kerry column in the last few days, and the loss did not bode well for his prospects. By the time I went to sleep, the count stood at (if I remember correctly) Bad Guys 249, Good Guys 242…everywhere, that is, except at Fox “News” where Ohio had been called for Bush by 10 p.m. (when they were still unable to admit that Kerry had won California).

America, I despair of thee. You have chosen ignorance over intellect. Superstition over reason. Insularity over inclusiveness. Privilege over charity. Militarism over diplomacy. Corporations over humanity. The commentators are saying that exit polls show the key issues underlying the belated confirmation of George Bush’s appointment to the Presidency were “moral” ones. To that, I can only say: America, are you insane? This is a man who waged a trumped-up war, costing thousands of lives, to enrich the companies of his backers. This is a man who as Governor of Texas supported life sentences for crimes he himself committed but wrote off as “youthful indiscretions.” This is a man who in wartime deserted even the cushy pseudomilitary post he had used his daddy’s connections to secure. This is a man who time and again enacts policies to further enrich the already-wealthy at the expense of the always-poor. He’s a man who believes that if you can’t afford something, you must not deserve it, be it health, home, or security. He is a smug, stupid child of wealth who has never had to work in his life. He has gotten away with everything since he was a child; and as an adult, he has continued to get away with doing harm to others on a grander and grander scale. Last night, you let him get away with it again. He is the least moral man ever to inhabit the White House.

America, we’ve had a complex relationship, one that’s difficult to explain to anyone who isn’t a Canadian living in the U.S. Growing up, it was an article of faith amongst my peers that your people were – how to put it politely? – assholes. I don’t think you realise you’re perceived in that way around the world. Well, maybe you know the French think that, but it probably hasn’t occurred to you that your nearest English-speaking neighbours think it too. Maybe you don’t realise you have English-speaking neighbours, and that’s part of the problem. We are a quiet and unassuming people. You are a loud and presumptuous people. Still, for almost two hundred years we’ve been the best of neighbours, enjoying a relationship unique among the nations of the world. But how you strain that bond! It used to be you were Fred Flintstone and we were Barney Rubble. You blustered, you bragged, you caused harm out of ignorance rather than malice, but underneath it all we knew you meant well, and at the end of every half hour you had learned your lesson. These days – well, you’ve become Homer Simpson, meaning we’re stuck being Ned Flanders. You’ve grown wilfully ignorant, destructively slothful, motivated entirely by the impulse of the moment, and at the end of four years you haven’t learned a God-damned thing.

It was on some level a shameful thing to me when I moved here. As much as I love the idea of democracy, and as much as I love to exercise the democratic franchise, I’ve never, after almost 18 years here, contemplated achieving the right to vote by taking American citizenship. This is the peculiar conflict of being a Canadian in the U.S. My wife and child were born here, and so were most of my friends…and still, I’ve always thought it would be an insult to my ancestors to become one of “them.” Well, here’s what I’m thinking after the debacle of last night. There comes a time when it’s no longer possible to be a disinterested observer, and I think I’ve reached that point. I don’t know exactly what that means. Maybe it means letting go of my prejudice and arming myself with a vote. Maybe it means getting directly involved with the shambles that is the Democratic Party and beginning to work now on finding a way to repair last night’s damage over the next four years. We all have to do something. Last night, this country reached terminal velocity in its plunge into an abyss of ignorance. Who will remake this land for those who value humanity over commerce? Who will remake it for those who value reason over superstition? Who will remake it for those who believe we all have an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?