July 31, 2005
Harper's: A Hollow Ohio Election
Harper's this month is going over the long, long, long list of irregularities in the 2004 Ohio election. Props to Keith Olberman for being the only pundit to talk about it at the time.
Contrast this with the allegations - or rather the GOP's ceaseless bitching and whining- about the election in Washington with a tight, tight governor's race. Their very worst - and as it turned out baseless -allegations of fraud were far milder than what happened in Ohio.
I think it's likely the GOP manipulated the election. Certainly the Ohio GOP was already corrupt, if you've been following the strange rare coin investment scandal. Whether it was the difference in the presidential race is another question.
My gut feeling is another thing.
Very Enjoyable List of Questions
'Unanswerables' compiled by snopes.com.
July 30, 2005
Stewart Interviews Harry Frankfurt
Interesting Episode of the Week
Wal-Mart decided this week it would not sell the [Pensacola] News Journal because of a piece by Mark O'Brien... They had originally tried to get the reporter fired.
Here is some inflammatory text from the story: "I like Wal-Mart prices the same as the next shopper, but there's a downside, too. Many Wal-Mart employees lack the fringe benefits and insurance that makes the difference between existence and a good quality of life. Yet, we customers pay a surcharge from a different pocket -- subsidizing health care for Wal-Mart employees who can't afford it."
To their credit, the management of the paper defended O'Brien, with his editor saying: "I might understand it if Wal-Mart said I ought to fire Mark because what he said wasn't accurate. But that isn't the case. Mark accurately reported that there are 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees in a health-care program that is costing Georgia taxpayers nearly $10 million a year."
After determining that this move was not a positive brand-building exercise, Wal-Mart has now decided to sell the paper in their stores.
July 29, 2005
Episode IV: A New Low
"A freak lightning bolt struck a Boy Scout troop from Napa County hiking in the Sierra near Mount Whitney, killing an assistant scoutmaster and critically injuring a 13-year-old boy..."
The Next Head of the Boy Scouts
Well, there are several candidates:
The Gladiator from Gladiator
- Extensive military experience.
- Mental toughness.
- Proven record of transforming rabble into effective fighting units.
- Knows what it takes to build an Empire.
- Can take the heat.
- Not Christian.
- Apparent problem with authority.
- Could become a threat if given too much power.
- Good "leadership image".
- Lives by a moral code.
- Good personal combat capabilities.
- Not Christian.
- Unschooled in basic fire team tactics.
- Closet pacifist?
- Bitter about losing Supreme Court nomination to Provider #3.
- Knows strengths and weaknesses of Americans.
- Proven record of transforming rabble into effective fighting units.
- Particularly strong managing large decentralized forces.
- Not Christian.
- Currently 93 years old.
But the one I like best is:
- Proven record of transforming rabble into effective fighting units.
- "The hardships he experienced in his youth made him view with indifference the severest privations incident to a military life." - Carrick
- Enthusiastic, but tactically suspect. Did not have an answer to English archers at Falkirk.
- Closet libertarian?
July 28, 2005
Naadam 2005: The Three Manly Sports Machine
I'm sure you all were as glued as I to ESPN Mongolia's 24-hours Three Manly Sports coverage from Ulanbataar. OK, there wasn't any. Although here is the 2005 Naadam Program.
But that does not mean that these sports - cross-country horse racing, wrestling and ARCHERY are not MANLY. Even though women and children also compete (leading to the international scrutiny of kids falling off their horses, covered in the London Times . )
Yak polo, a new sport debuting in late June (pictured above), was not part of the festival.
Sadly, I think. A landlocked nation with the chutzpah to have a marine resgistry should celebrate all it's innovations. This is pretty amazing, really. Who among us has ever considered starting a yak polo league?
Much of the event I don't understand, but definitely like:
The opening ceremony was followed by folk, classical and modern performances and a salute from the Mongolian Everest conquerors and a parade of Mongolian national manufacturers.Wrestling. One of the main events was wrestling, contested by 512 entrants who included five Titans, three Lions, three Garudas, 16 Elephants, 15 Hawks and 71 Falcons.
Monoglian archery has some wicked looking bows and costumes - check out the hats, sort of Ghengis AND Mingus. (Charlie, that is.) You'll note to the left that although a very manly sport indeed, only wrestling is actually limited to men.
In wrestling, Osokhbayar, holder of the Avarga title, beat Sumiyabazar. Again. Sheesh.
I like this country. It's sort of trying to be democratic, get art going, keep its heritage, be part of the world again. I seem to remember them shipping North Korean arms around, but that's a far cry from subjugating Eurasia.
We Have Nothing to Fear But Treatment for Fear Itself
I keep looking for evidence that new technology will not be instantly abused to its upmost extent, the moment the abuse is possible.
In this case, a suggested beta-blocker drug treatment for Post-Traumatic stress disorder, which is all very well in many ways although it works apparantly by surpressing memory, has a ghastly side potential:
Dr Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and member of the US President's Council on Bioethics expressed concern over the possible uses of the drug.
"If soldiers did something that ended up with children getting killed, do you want to give them beta blockers so that they can do it again?"
Another side note - beta-blockers have become de rigeur at classical music auditions and for certain performances, reducing mistakes and artistry at the same time.
Keep Your Fingers Crossed...
I think the time is finally right for this movie: an adaptation of Alan Moore's comic book series, V for Vendetta.
For those not hep to it: the story of a mysterious "terrorist" in near-future, totalitarian Britain, who wears a Guy Fawkes costume. ("Remember, remember, the fifth of November" is the movie's tagline -- it is due to hit theaters in the US and Britain on the weekend of Guy Fawkes Day.) Produced by the brothers who made The Matrix, with Hugo Weaving as V. (Stephen Fry is in it, too.)
July 27, 2005
Next : Ordered to Charge a Machine-Gun Emplacement
Count Me In!
'Expert' tells you how to make big buck$ home-flipping! It's a sure thing! What could possibly ever go wrong?
I love this bit: "Financing is not as easy anymore — in fact, the federal government has warned banks to curb their lending."
But jump right in! The water's fine!
The Nicest War Ever
Canada and Denmark limber up, get ready to go toe-to-toe.
GREETINGS FROM SATURN
July 26, 2005
Eric Troyer's Dad on a Life of Poking the Bears
Nice ADN story on Will Troyer's hilarious learning curve on how to trap and anesthetize a Kodiak bear.
"We stuffed the holes of the trap with cloth to make it as airtight as possible; then we began spraying ether into openings with ordinary, hand-pump fly sprayers,'' Troyer writes. "The trap, being far from airtight, allowed ether fumes to escape.
"Unavoidably, we inhaled some of the fumes; if we weren't careful, we would be unconscious before the bear was. After we pumped ether steadily for 30 minutes, the brownie lay down and seemed subdued.''
Troyer poked it with a stick. It didn't move. So the men opened the gate.
And the Music Sucks BECAUSE....
Payola Payola Payola.
I think the time long since passed when commercial radio had anything at all to do with the art and joy of music. I have to disagree with Dr. X about the quality of music being made although a comprehensive suckorama it is certainly true of the music one normally hears in pop sources.
The best stuff - ironically the best pop - is off the pop radar because of the endless droppings of cultural moose turds like those issued by Sony Music. Mall-core, gangsta-shop, country nazi pop are all abominations bought and paid for by the suits. (It was impressive to hear Chuck-D the other day taking thugs to task while talking up public broadcasting.)
10 mil is far too little for robbing the world of its best music. Tie these suits in a bag with a cobra and toss them in a river - unless you consider this too cruel to the cobra.
Cheer yourself up, or over: Queens of the Stone Age, Old 97s, and even the Medieaval Baebes, (new cd was #1 on the classical charts, which suggests that SEX is the long-missing ingredient in classical) there was a band called Denali with an impressive singer - the point is its' actually out there, but like all of us I am generally failing to go out and find it live,which is naturally where it lives.
July 25, 2005
Missing the Point of a Distraction
If the Roberts nomination to the court is supposed to be a distraction, it's a pretty bad one.
Q: Were you a member of the Federalist Society (their documents say you were on the Steering Committee in the early 90s)?
A: I don't remember.
Doesn't exactly make you forget our government is run by lying ideologues, does it?
July 24, 2005
Good Pop Music
In my nightly denunciations of the state of music, I keep forgetting Morcheeba. Anyone with a pop bone in their body will like Morcheeba. They're excellent - smooth, laid back, but not "mellow." I have not an unkind word for them, everything I've heard has been Good Pop.
After careful investigation (I actually bought their CD), I have determined that despite the critical praise, you can skip Interpol. Or, more accurately, you probably don't need to buy the CD, since the better songs are here. If you really like C'mere you might want to investigate the band further. If not, forget it - that's as good as it gets.
The Chemical Brothers' new Push the Button is fine, but not a breakthrough or anything. The curse of high expectations.
But trust me on the Morcheeba.
The Administration and the Fury
Down the hall, under the chandelier, I could see them talking. They were walking toward me and Dick s face was white, and he stopped and gave a piece of paper to Rummy, and Rummy looked at the piece of paper and shook his head. He gave the paper back to Dick and Dick shook his head. They disappeared and then they were standing right next to me.
“Georgie s going to walk down to the Oval Office with me,” Dick said.
“I just hope you got him all good and ready this time,” Rummy said.
“Hush now,” Dick said. “This aint no laughing matter. He know lot more than folks think.” Dick patted me on the back good and hard. “Come on now, Georgie,” Dick said. “Never mind you, Rummy.”
We walked down steps to the office. There were paintings of old people on the walls and the room was round like a circle and Condi was sitting on my desk. Her legs were crossed.
“Did you get him ready for the press conference?” Dick said.
“Dont you worry about him. He ll be ready,” Condi said. Condi stood up from the desk. Her legs were long and she smelled like the Xeroxed copies of the information packets they give me each day.
“Hello Georgie,” Condi said. “Did you come to see Condi?” Condi rubbed my hair and it tickled.
“Dont go messing up his hair,” Dick said. “Hes got a press conference in a few minutes.”
Condi wiped some spit on her hand and patted down my hair. Her hand was soft and she smelled like Xerox copies coming right out of the machine. “He looks just fine,” Condi said.
Fine day, isn t it, Georgie, Daddy said. Daddy was pitching horseshoes. Horseshoes flew through the air and it was hot. Jeb looked at me. Stand back or one of his horseshoes is going to hit you and knock you down real good, Jeb said. Jeb threw the horseshoe and it went right over the stick and Daddy clapped. Run and get me that horseshoe, Georgie, Daddy said. I ran and picked up the horseshoe. The metal was hot in my hands, and I held it for a little bit and then I dropped it. I picked it up. It was hot in my hands and I started running away from Daddy and Jeb. Come back with that horseshoe, Daddy said. I was running as fast as I could. Jeb run after him and get me my horseshoe before he throws another one in the river, Daddy hollered. Jeb was chasing after me fast. Come back with that horseshoe, Georgie, Jeb hollered. But I was fast and I kept running until I got to the river. Dont you dare throw that horseshoe in the river, Jeb said. I threw the horseshoe in the river. Jeb fell on the ground. Jeb kicked and cried and then I cried.
“He needs his makeup,” Dick said.
“I ll do it,” Condi said. She put a little brush on my check and it tickled and I laughed.
Rummy walked into the room. “Jesus, what s he laughing about,” Rummy said.
“Dont you pay attention to him, Georgie,” Dick said. “They re going to be asking you all about Social Security. You just remember what we talked about.”
“He cant remember anything,” Rummy said.
I started to holler. Dick s face was red and he looked at Rummy. “I told you to hush up already,” Dick said. “Now look what you ve gone and done.”
“Go and get him Saddam s gun,” Condi said. “You know how he likes to hold it.”
Dick went to my desk drawer and took out Saddam s gun. He gave it to me, and it was hot in my hands. Rummy pulled the gun away.
“Do you want him carrying a gun into the press conference?” Rummy said. “Cant you think any better than he can?”
I was hollering and Dick was turning red and then white and the room was tilted.
“You give him that gun back, right this minute,” Condi said. Rummy gave me Saddam s gun back and I held it my hands. It was hot like a horseshoe.
“You got the gun, now you stop that hollering,” Rummy said.
Condi patted me on the back. “It sure is hot in here,” she said. She fanned herself and took off her jacket. She smelled like perfume.
July 23, 2005
Flaming GOP SOB of the Day
Joe Barton steps up to the podium.
Hadn't won a stage in the Tour de France this year. Until today, when he wiped out the field in the final time trial. Champagne anyone?
I Shall Formally Cite This
A superb work of research.
We'll Take Ten Please, For Billions Each
After years of work, the vessel billed as a stealth ship is infested with corrosion, badly wired, poorly built, and deemed so unsafe that Navy inspectors warned its crew shouldn't take it to sea.
July 22, 2005
"Suddenly that downloadable patch you installed last night kicks in and there's, like, a lame and badly animated sex scene, right there, right between the graphic bloody part where you bazooka'd the police helicopter and the part where the gang-banger gets his lame ass beaten with a large handgun, and suddenly you're like, what the hell? Who stuck this lame badly animated sex in here? Where'd my soul-numbing ultraviolent racism go? I am outraged."
Wikipedia Is Out Of Control
Now there are excellent articles on two of my favorite puzzles: The Monty Hall Problem, which has a straightforward answer; and Newcomb's Paradox, which doesn't. Newcomb's Paradox is really fun because Bayesian expected returns analysis gives one answer (take one) and formal logic gives another (take both).
Looking forward to the elaboration of Kavka's toxin puzzle.
Can This Get Any Better?
Former U.S. intelligence officers criticized President Bush on Friday for not disciplining Karl Rove in connection with the leak of the name of a CIA officer, saying Bush's lack of action has jeopardized national security.
Looking for a Few Good Middle-Aged Men
Faced with major recruiting problems sparked by troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has asked Congress to raise the maximum age for U.S. military enlistees from 35 to 42 years old.
July 21, 2005
If It's Any Comfort...
...the Irish are getting the same treatment from the U.S.
July 20, 2005
Even the Republicans Began to Take Notice
"The Navy wants to acquire 8 to 12 DD(X) ships but escalating costs have become a major concern. The Navy projects the first DD(X) will cost $3.3 billion, with an average cost of $2.6 billion per copy once the rest are built."
Note that an Arab in a rubber raft can still blow a truck-sized hole in one of these shitty little gimmick ships.
A Moment of Silence
Thanks for the laughs, man.
Closet Novelist at the SFPD
'As he ran, the black and white radio car glided silently along behind like a predatory whale.'
Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: THE MILK OF HUMAN VIOLENCE
I polished off a Joe's Special at Joe's Joe's Special Specialty House, and finished the hot black coffee dashed with Craig's Largely Wood-Free Rye, glancing down the fog on California Street for some cow-mouthed palooka I was tailing that was cheating on his wife with, as it turned out, a fetching redhead assistant carpet salesgirl, whose own carpet, I saw from my fancy color negs, didn't exactly match the drapes. I was churning with that fascinating contradiction when the fetching but gin-polluted waitress came by to refill my coffee with steak sauce. That's what you get for ordering a cup o' Joe in Joe's Joe's Special Special place.
Low, low work, marital infidelity. Sitting in cars, peeking in windows like a prairie dog with a fedora, hiding in noisy iceboxes, putting a mike in the lampshade, putting a lampshade over some Joe named Mike. I hadn't had a Nazi spy ring or a Chinatown murder or a municipal bond amoratization rate to check out in two months to relieve the monotony of confirming the amazing fact that Joe Lunchbox has a little love dumpling on the side. Not to mention it was hard to cash the checks when the tears smudged the ink, and bounced anyway, because the rutting little weasel involved invariably cleared out the account right while I was setting my hopes of a full jar of mayonnaise unrealistically high, and all I could look forward to was maybe an empty night of bad love in lieu of cash from the desperate proto-divorcee.
I took out my wallet to pay Joe, reached in and brushed the flies out of the way. Nothing in there but happy memories. Joe gave me one of those looks that a 300lb chef gives a barrel of rotten spinach. Lean month since my last three genius clients shot each other simultaneously over creative differences in a modern dance piece about the death of Trotsky. As an indirect result, my car was gracefully stolen by Martha Graham. I was so tapped out I was living on my office couch and showering at Dardenella's hydrant, whose patience was getting thinner than her panties in her teenager neighbor's fantasies. I'd resorted to stealing a tux and attending fancy parties for the venison puffs and high-living comestibles until I was caught with a bowl of pudding leaking through my diplomatic sash.
There at the old Pine Sol-smelling counter I stood with the kind of a look an 8 year old gets when he realizes he's accidently run over the new beagle puppy. Rattling in my pocket was 27 cents. 4 cents short. I'd seen richer pockets in a Bombay dust factory. Then a pasty-faced gorilla in a blue suit that barely hid a sawed-off shot gun walked up with an outstreched pie-sized hand and held out a nickel - it looked like a elephant foot with a bottle cap stuck in the middle.
"Thanks, pal. I'll pay you back next time I visit the zoo. "
You had to beat this kind of thing back. If you're grateful, it gets to be a bad habit, and the next thing you know you're into Frankie the Fish Head for 10 grand over an ill-timed deuce of clubs. But this muscle slab's black eyes were too small to shrink any farther, and the steam-shovel jaws didn't open, but with the slightest tilt of the head, a feat for a man with no apparent neck, he indicated a silhouette in a back booth.
The way the light through the blinds struck that particular dark shape you could tell she was loaded for bear.
Phyllis Poetilla. The deadliest girl in town, even if you didn't count the chlamydia. A notorious Tenderloin madam and sometime Disney distributor, she left a trail of broken hearts, empty accounts, severed limbs and cheerful sailors from the Oakland docks to Russian hill.
She crooked her index finger and wiggled it compellingly. "Dr. Brain." She said, professionally, although in her profession that could mean anything from fronting a bootleg print of Snow White to a sudden need for 26 cases of pennicillin.
"Phyllis. You're looking well." She was always some crazy combo of expensive and cheap, like a Faberge Egg full of pressed ham. The material was expensive, but her decolletage got up and danced without a formal introduction, and charged 10 cents for it.
"An economic necessity. You're looking desperate."
"Nah, sugar, I'm sitting on top of the world."
"Under of a cardboard box of crap on the top of the world, I'd say. You've got bigger holes in your shoes than the Lusitania. But I wanna check something. Prosciutto, rattle his cage." The gorilla came at me like a freight train. But I was like a penny on the tracks. I'd already tied his shoes together when I'd asked casual-like what on earth that was behind him. The result was like Casey Jones hitting a salad bar.
"Sharp, Mack. I hate that in a man. Except when I need it. Thinker and a fighter. Now I figure a guy like you can handle himself- that's two palookas for the money. Meet me at this address at nine. I'll make it worth your while. "
She got up and wiggled off, while some other goon of hers dragged Prosciutto along like a bag of idiot meat.
I looked at her card.
BAY AREA SECRET CASTLE OF LOVE
(Hard Right on Johnson)
San Francisco, California
KENTUCKY 5497 Ask for the Comprehensive Phyllis
Unnecessary double-entendres in a cathouse ad annoyed me. It's like living in a mansion and putting out a huge sign on the lawn that says "Guess what? I live in a Mansion!" The Chanel #5 on the card smelled mostly like bait- a gilded chum bucket for lovelorn chumps. But money flows from loneliness, and I needed money more than I needed self-respect. I had a suspicion this job would drive me lower than a groundhog limbo dancer. But you don't pay Joe, or any other chef with fragmentation grenade on hand in the kitchen, in pride.
It was raining downtown, cold and wet and bouncing like a shower of kitten noses, and I managed to soak my last pair of dry socks (one argyle, the other Stanford Varsity) before I casually yanked a couple of tourists off the cable car and rode bitterly to Bush street.
It was just my luck that the cloth from the umbrella I'd stolen from the tourists was not really attached at all, and the second I opened it it blew away, covering the windshield of an Oldsmobile which spun out of control and took out a Tibetan restaraunt which was empty because as a sideline I'd happened to have written a less than stellar review of the joint, Madame Than's Yak Noodles N' Chips, just last week in the Examiner. I turned left at the resulting sesame oil fire, briefly hosed off the crying passengers, and found Phyllis's -a bright red and lilac Victorian with the real San Francisco rarity of a wrap-around porch and attached pig-iron foundry, where the off-duty girls poured cast-iron molds of presidents and famous European historical figures for sale at disreputable university book shops. At least, that was the story.
I was about to knock on the door with the velvet cushioned knocker when insert knockers joke here Phyllis came around outside, holding a briefcase. She was all business, like Henry Ford breaking a sit-down strike with a pack of Pinkerton goons, if Henry Ford was a wearing an overstuffed red satin dress and wielding a pretty little chromed .32 auto instead of mooning over the picture of Hitler on his desk. Ironic, because it was a Pinkerton problem. Phyllis laid it out- ten or twelve slabs of pasty-faced, mustachioed Pinkerton detectives snooping around, questioning the girls. They wouldn't be bribed off and they even turned down special favors. Why? Always the question. Pinkertons were the biggest whores and goons around. Odd indeed. It was worth a 100 a day and expenses to her to find out. I was getting hired as a private counter-dick.
"Sure, no sweat. " I said. Unlike a church or a bank, with a whorehouse you know exactly where the money's coming from. She kissed me on the chin and gave me the the briefcase. It had a file with photos of the Pinkertons, $500 cash, a card with the triple underlined address of a good tailor, and my own pitted and slightly rusty .45 retrieved from Mystic Eva's Pawn and Psychic Readings (2 locations.) I never trust a man whose gun is too clean.
"Friday," she said. "I need to know by Friday."
"Not much time, Toots."
"And Mack, I hate to tell ya but your girl's stepping out on ya. Get me the info and I tell you who." She closed the door.
Boy, that dame could pull strings like a piano factory. I walked, through the looming towers of cement and glass and the rain and neon lights and the heaving sea of hats. A paperboy cried out Rommel's Victory in North Africa. A single daisy dropped in the street was run over by meat van. A mother smacked her crying little girl with a soaking wet copy of Being and Nothingness. I walked on, tried put Dardenella out of my mind by concentrating on municipal bonds and drinking a pint of Vjorn's Stumbling Icelander Gin - it was enough to get me to the tailor in one piece.
An hour later I had a cash, a gun, a mission, a new wool suit and a wicked hangover. I was begining to feel like an American again.
July 19, 2005
That's a Topper
Your new Supreme Court Justice! Just to state the obvious: not a woman, not a minority, not a centrist, previously rejected for the DC Circuit for his extreme views. He got good grades at Harvard though, and has a very good job.
July 18, 2005
The Tough Jew
The aforementioned Isaac Babel started his career writing about the tough Jewish gangsters ("Yid-and-a-Half") in Odessa. This author ruminates on the history of "the tough Jew". He disagrees with Rich Cohen's glorification of the gangsters, and wonders if the Israeli tough-guy pose isn't working against them.
"We'll always have Entebbe," indeed.
God Creates the 'Ringtone Chirper'
Birds have learnt to imitate the ring tones of the omnipresent mobile phones, say German ornithologists... The birds were simply adapting to their environment in imitating human sounds in what he termed an "evolutionary playground".
And Here We Go
Feeling the eyes of the Man on the back of your neck?
The FBI is watching. Seriously, comprehensively, with counterterrorism agents watching and documenting activists of many stripes. This time it's even the ACLU as the target.
The FBI, apparantly caving in to political hacks, is becoming an opponent rather than a defender of American freedom and the practice of democracy in the real world. But, you know, it's been there before.
Just in case, this handy little flyer from the ACLU explains your rights while being questioned.
I suggest reading it.
July 17, 2005
There Is Only One IronMind
They've been around for a long time, and make exercise equipment. Wikipedia reports that only five men in the world have been able to close their #4 handgripper under "official conditions."
But I am most taken by this book, which promises to help me achieve athletic greatness in one small area, despite my advancing years.
God, In His Wisdom, Creates More Tuskless Elephants
BEIJING, July 17 (AFP) - A recent study has predicted that more male Asian elephants in China will be born without tusks because poaching of tusked elephants is reducing the gene pool, the China Daily reported Sunday.
The study, conducted in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan province, where two-thirds of China's Asian elephants live, found that the tuskless phenomenon is spreading, the report said.
The tusk-free gene, which is found in between two and five percent of male Asian elephants, has increased to between five percent and 10 percent in elephants in China, according to Zhang Li, an associate professor of zoology at Beijing Normal University.
The Other American
Today, in the Tour de France, an American won the most difficult stage of the race. And it wasn't Lance Armstrong.
Meet George Hincapie, age 33, teammate of Lance Armstrong, who found himself in a breakaway today and then watched as everyone else in the break bonked and went by the wayside. This was his first stage win after 10 years of riding in the Tour, the last 6 as Lance's valet.
Hincapie was overcome with emotion as he crossed the line. For most cyclists a Tour stage win would be the crowning achievement of their career. But to win this stage, with its four Category 1 climbs and beyond-category climb to the finish, is just incredible (see elevation chart below).
Hincapie has been a great rider of classics in Europe: This year he was the first American to stand on the winners' podium of the Paris-Roubaix, a race known as the "Sunday in Hell". He also won the San Francisco Grand Prix in 2001. Here he is zooming up Taylor Street - notice he hasn't bothered to shift down from the big chainring in front...
UPDATE - Lance on George: "Consider what George does in cycling," Armstrong said. "He was second at Paris-Roubaix. He goes over the top of the (Col du) Galibier with all the favorites. He wins Pla d'Adet -- an uphill finish with six categorized climbs today. Nobody has done that since (Eddy) Merckx and (Bernard) Hinault [both 5x Tour champions], so the guy is one of the best riders in cycling. Period. I'm so proud of him."
July 16, 2005
A Poem to the World's Richest Man
Mrs. Gates didn't know when William popped out
that he would go on to be a Harvard dropout.
But even so he makes the big bucks
convincing corporate tools to buy software that sucks.
Now his wonderful growth has started to stall,
and he can't find enough kids to serve as his thralls.
So he takes an interest in the far east,
and tattooes this poor girl with the Mark of the Beast.
Copyright Dr. X, 2005.
This original work of art is governed by the following license agreement.
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Arguably the Finest...
This morning I was testing out my tactical nuclear stereo, hooking it up to my cable radio connection. The maiden song to blare from it was Donna Summer's Hot Stuff. The long version.
This takes me back. The first time I heard the long version was walking through Little Havana in Miami (from the airport to the bus terminal) in 1980. And it stopped me because there was something I'd never heard in the song before - a guitar solo. And not just any guitar solo, a very good rock guitar solo. And every once in a while I hear the long version of the song and I wonder what anonymous studio musician performed it.
This morning I decided to find out.
The perpetrator, it turns out, was Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, a name that means much to Doobie Brothers fans, apparently, and which I recall from old Steely Dan liner notes. He has never done a solo album, but he has been a studio mainstay forever. He played much of the lead guitar on Can't Buy a Thrill, and apparently played a great solo on "Taking it to the Streets" when the Doobie Brothers performed on Saturday Night Live.
So what is this accomplished musician up to now? Oh, the usual, consulting with congress on missile defense, that sort of thing. Apparently there is a Republican rock band called Coalition of the Willing, which features him and also the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. He has a few choice words for us on the relationship between rock and freedom.
I would have to guess that Baxter is the finest rock and roll guitarist to play a significant advisory roll for the U.S. government, and I'm therefore sorry he works for the other side.
Back by Popular Demand: Nuclear Paranoia
Its A Schaudenfreudfest!
This summer's late blossom of justice: rough, rough sentences and forfeiture of assets for the thieves, sadists and liars running some of America's former leading corporations, who will now be attending Powerpoint presentations up at the Stateville Prison.
Can it better? Yes! Advertising Executives doing hard time for federal fraud.
Sleep tight, Ken Lay.
July 15, 2005
"Intellectual" is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation
Top 21 Google matches for the term "intellectual":
WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
Intellectual Property (www.intellectual-property.gov.uk)
Intellectual Conservative Politics and Philosophy
Delphion Research intellectual property network
IP Australia (www.ipaustralia.gov.au)
American Intellectual Property Law Association
The Intellectual Activist (Ayn Rand fan-site)
Canadian Intellectual Property Office (cipo.gc.ca)
Intellectual Property Law Server
Intellectual Property Mall
Intellectual Property Digital Library
Intellectual Property Law Server
Intellectual Property Issues (www.negativeland.com)
Copyright and Intellectual Property Resources (www.arl.org)
FindLaw: Legal Subjects: Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property and Technology Forum (infoeagle.bc.edu)
Intellectual Whores Hompage ("Website dedicated to explaining the Ladder Theory of male/female interaction and how women can have male 'friends.'")
Chinese Mass-Produce Paintings
The biggest market for oil paintings from China turns out to be in Florida condominiums and other second homes being built as part of the global housing market boom. Hotels and restaurants also buy large numbers of Chinese paintings.
Microsoft on Child Labor: Great!
"Meet Arfa, a promising young software programmer from Faisalabad, Pakistan, who is believed to be the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional in the world. She received the certification when she was 9. During a recent meeting with Bill Gates, she presented him with a poem she wrote that celebrated his life story."
July 14, 2005
Picture of the project
July 13, 2005
Off the Streets
Note this face - the face of a CEO who's just gotten 25 to LIFE. Bernard Ebbers of Worldcom is going to the big house. In Mississippi.
Some 20,000 workers lost their jobs, while shareholders lost about $180bn, when the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
And Then They Came for the Potty-Mouthed Comedians
AMC Theaters will not show The Aristocrats.
What Gibbon Say
"That public virtue which among the ancients was denominated patriotism, is derived from a strong sense of our own interest in the preservation and prosperity of the free government of which we are members. Such a sentiment, which had rendered the legions of the republic almost invincible, could make but a very feeble impression on the mercenary servants of a despotic prince; and it became necessary to supply that defect by other motives, of a different, but not less forcible nature; honour and religion." - A Gibbon.
Gibbons are - of course - an endangered species.
July 12, 2005
WWII, Real time strategy and the internet.
No, not a new game.
If World War Two had been an RTS game, it would have gone a little
something like this....
*Hitler[AoE] has joined the game.*
*Eisenhower has joined the game.*
*paTTon has joined the game.*
*Churchill has joined the game.*
*benny-tow has joined the game.*
*T0J0 has joined the game.*
*Roosevelt has joined the game.*
*Stalin has joined the game.*
*deGaulle has joined the game.*
Roosevelt: hey sup
Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks!
paTTon: lol more like panzy tanks
Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a depression!
benny-tow: haha america sux
Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight me i dont fight u, cool?
Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever
deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me now
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the game.*
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair?
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin
Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker
Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol
benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im gonna need help in italy soon sum1
T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands full
Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help
Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im comin for ya
Stalin: church help me
Churchill: like u helped me before? sure ill just sit here
Stalin: dont be an arss
Churchill: dont be a commie. oops too late
benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t help
Hitler: o man ur focked
paTTon: oh what now biotch
Roosevelt: whos the cripple now lol
*benny-tow has been eliminated.*
Roosevelt: gj patton
Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax hes killing all my sh1t
Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my record
benny~tow: wtf that mean?
Eisenhower: meant to say nutsack lol finger slipped
paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging hun cocksocker
Hitler[AoE]: u guys are fockin gay
Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city
*Hitler[AoE] has been eliminated.*
benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself
Stalin: OMG LMAO!
Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this game blows
*Hitler[AoE] has left the game*
T0J0: WTF my teammates are n00bs
benny~tow: shut up noob
Roosevelt: haha wut a moron
paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now?
Eisenhower: yah me too
T0J0: why dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol
Eisenhower: fock u
paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie
Stalin: go to hell lol
paTTon: fock this sh1t im goin afk
Eisenhower: yah this is gay
*Roosevelt has left the game.*
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff!
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy ****holy****hoyl****!
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*
*The Allied team has won the game!*
Churchill: gg noobs no re
T0J0: thats bull**** u fockin suck
*T0J0 has left the game.*
*Eisenhower has left the game.*
Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me for ****
Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss
tru_m4n: l8r all
Stalin: fock u all
tru_m4n: shut up commie lol
*tru_m4n has left the game.*
benny~tow: lololol u commie
Churchill: bye commie
*Churchill has left the game.*
*benny~tow has left the game.*
Stalin: i hate u all fags
*Stalin has left the game.*
paTTon: lol no1 is left
paTTon: weeeee i got a jeep
*paTTon has been eliminated.*
paTTon: o sh1t!
*paTTon has left the game.*
MotoGP was a blast...
Well, the whole weekend more than the race.
For those that don't follow MotoGP (or even know what it is), MotoGP is the premier motorycycle racing class for the rest of the planet. I say "for the rest of the planet" since there hasn't been a Grand-Prix race here in the US since 10 years ago. After much wrangling they finally managed to get one race to come here to Monterey.
I decide that this is a must-see event and go for the full three-day spectacle of 220 HP bikes, 65,000 fans, and bike vendors galore.
Got down there early Friday afternoon after a great ride down there on Highway 1. Checked into the campsite, set up the tent and then headed down the highway to pick up my Ducati Island volunteer kit.
The first impression was of what a great job at marketing Ducati does. While the other manufacturers set up big-ass tents celebrating the glory that is "insert you brand name here", Ducati snagged an island right in the middle of the infield lagoon. They set up a variety of tents, with the obligatory 'new models tent', but also with separate tents for a mini racing museum, a place for people to sit down, Italian food court, and best of all a place where if you show proof of ownership you get a little ducati wristband.
The wristband gets you access to a covered sitting area, contests, free water, coffee, and best of all, free parking on the island. End result: the island gets covered in actual Ducatis owned by riders and nothing else.
In a nutshell, the whole area becomes one big ad for Ducati, and the owners get made to feel pretty special.
So I park my bike on the Island, do my 4 hour stint as a volunteer (tagging Ducatistis who show proof of ownership) get a chance to wander around, check out the pits (Paddock pass, wooo!) and when I come back there's a little laminated card on my bike. Apparently my bike's been chosen for the "Concours de Elegance"! (If I'd known my bike was considered that cool, I'd have washed it)
Head back to the campsite, drop a few things off, then head down to Cannery Row in Monterey.
Cannery Row is a complete zoo. Bikes lining the street for a good half mile, folks parading up and down the street. Bikes of every variety and folks stopping to admire, oogle, boggle, etc.
Started early then next day, wandered around the vendors a bit more, chatted with folks I've only known from ordering special parts off the internet. Nice to finally meet some of the guys who run the businesses I 'frequent'. Checked out tons of 'unobtanium' parts, got a look at some of the MotoGP bikes, picked up some swag, etc. etc.
Qualifying was a good taste of things to come.
First impression: MotoGP bikes are LOUD. Standing a good 100 yeards from the track these bikes put out more sound than my bike does when I'm next to it. Up close to the track you need earplugs.
2nd impression: MotoGP bikes are impossibly fast. They way they accellerate out of the corners is simply stunning.
Walked the track a bit and eventually headed down to the "corkscrew". This is Laguna's signature track section. While not a great place to watch the race from (you can't see the rest of the track) it's a *great* place to watch practice. It's a quick, left, right, left that drops a good 200 feet in altitude and it shows off how amazingly fast these bikes can flick from side to side.
Coming into this corner you get to see riders simlutaneously dragging their knee and jumping the bikes.Going out of this corner you get to see what 220 HP does to the rear end of the bikes. We're talking major power slides.
Watched the AMA superbike race. Good racing, and a win for Ducati.
Got in early sunday AM. One of the show guys directs me to wheel my bike into a special area. I'm a bit confused until I realize my bike's been chosen as one of the 5 finalists in the "Best Monster" class! Holy crap! Don't they realize this isn't a show bike? I mean I ride this thing into work everyday, hell it even has a parking sticker on it!
I quickly grab some cleaning supplies and get the camping dust and bugs off my bike. The expression "it's an honor just to be nominated" really does ring true as I'm up against some serious competition. Two that spring to mind are a completely tricked out Monster with all of latest tasty bits (carbon fiber gas tank, etc. etc. build by the shop I buy a lot of my parts from!) and a gorgeous black and silver bike that looks a lot like what I want my bike to end up as (looking like a 60s racer.)
Still, I'm a bit shocked as my bike isn't close to being 'done' (my bike has tons of "this'll do for now until I can put on the part I want, bits on it.) Nice to be validated on the aethetic direction I'm taking my bike in.
I wander around a bit more, run into a bunch of folks I know, hang out and shoot the shit and generally have a good time. I get to chat with everyone from the F3 champion from the 60s to a few of the GP riders themselves in the pits. One advantage of MotoGP being a relatively unknown sport here in the states is that some of the riders aren't swamped with fans :)
I head back to the Island for the contest, and no surprise the black and silver bike wins. But shockingly, I find out I came out tied for 2nd place! Out of the 100 some-odd Monsters that were there the judges think mine's the 2nd nicest! Holy crap, not bad for a daily rider! Wow...
Now I'm really motivated to get my bike finished in time for the "Monster challenge" Ducati puts on at the bike show in Oct.
Then the race starts... Great fun watching the race, although I hate to say it, the race is pretty boring race-wise (if I'd been watching it on TV)
Hayden runs away from the start and opens up a 3 second lead by the 10th lap. The only racing came at the midpoint when Edwards, who had worked his way up in the field after getting a bad start from the fifth spot in the grid, passed Valentino Rossi (current world champ from Italy) to take second place. Rossi valiantly tried to reel in Edwards (pretty exciting) and while he was on Edwards' tail for the last 2 laps, never made it past him.
End result a 1-2 for American riders and a very happy crowd. Hopefully this'll help popularize the sport here in the US (although given the sold-out 60,000 person crowd you'd never know this wasn't Europe)
Then a long ride home to a much needed shower and a home cooked meal.
Truly the perfect motorcycle weekend!
July 11, 2005
White House Press Corps Belatedly Rediscovers Spine
You've probably read all about it. But there's too much jaw-dropping material in the transcript of the July 11 White House Press Briefing to make it into any news or blog report. Read the whole thing for yourself. It won't take more than five minutes if you can just keep scanning.
One of the lighter moments:
QUESTION: Considering the widespread interest and the absolutely frantic Democrat reaction to Karl Rove’s excellent speech to conservatives last month, does the president hope that Karl will give a lot more speeches?
MCCLELLAN: He continues to give speeches.
He was traveling this weekend talking about the importance of strengthening Social Security. And he’s continued to go out and give speeches.
As An Eisengeiste Public Service
Intelligence of American Public Underestimated
"The Army National Guard, a cornerstone of the U.S. force in Iraq, missed its recruiting goal for at least the ninth straight month in June and is nearly 19,000 soldiers below its authorized strength..."
If you decide to join up, I'd recommend a fighting unit that receives proper training and equipment, such as the Army or Marines.
Mirapex - A Gentle Treatment for Sensible Restraint
A successful Parkinson's medication, Mirapex, causes social mayhem in some patients.
California attorney Daniel Kodam, who filed the lawsuit last year, said he's spoken with more than 200 Mirapex patients who developed compulsive behaviors, including excessive gambling, sex and shopping.A drug that can induce gambling, drinking, sex, AND gluttony! That isn't drinking!
Patients in a United States study have developed gambling habits so severe that some of them lost more than £100,000 in six months, after taking the drugs called dopamine agonists. Others developed other behavioural problems, including compulsive eating, increased alcohol consumption, and an insatiable appetite for sex.The mind reels with possibility: a working treatment for insufferable modesty. An action drug for the Impossible Missions Force for any leaders that need discrediting. A potion to restore the vital humors, a power to remove the pineapple of prudishness. An alternative to revolution and forced exile. A cure for mormons. A pill for Popes.
Let's hope it's used for good, rather than spiked into the water in Vegas.
A Suggested Litmus Test for the Condition of Being an Idiot
You've been searching all this time for the irreducible black or white, yes-or-no absolutism from a group of purportedly broad-minded amateur intellectual types like what us is?
Harris Poll June 2005
"Do you think human beings developed from earlier species or not?"
It is unforgivably foolish to reject evolution. This is willful ignorance, which is far, far worse than actual limited intelligence. As you may note above, it's getting worse.
No point arguing it here. You people aren't drooling, slack-jawed, chopped ham-headed knuckle-walking pseudo-Christian apocolypse-cult bowing goobers. Like Cardinal Schönborn.
There. I said it. A hard line. I feel better.
July 10, 2005
WITHERING HEIGHTS #4: KARL ROVE
Bob Hope and Karl Rove
I am presented with a small problem on how exactly to insult Karl Rove, because of that particular class of clove-pitted Georgia ham ugly people - say Noriega or Tom Delay -that actually deserve to look as repulsive as they do, he's one I cannot bear to actually look at. So I was having trouble deciding what image to post in reference - someone antithetical, someone close?
Not Karl Rove* Not Karl Rove*
Finally I settled naturally enough on Ethel Merman.
Karl Rove, Singing Like A Muscians' Union Canary
The parallels are as obvious as the contrasts- Ethel Merman was a very loud singer, but clearly not a traitor to the United States for the narrow interests of a dangerous, dissembling, self-serving and kleptocratic political faction, nor a builder of institutional proto-fascism, nor the instigator of a crude cunning politics that might make the planet Earth uninhabitable.
*NOTE: Although often confused with but not Karl Rove, both Gothmog and Britney Spears are on the Short List of Supreme Court Nominations. Yet it is true that Gothmog and Rove have never been seen in the same room at the same time.
We Demand: PERP WALK!
Newsweeks says: the evil political strategist, he done it.
A Small Prayer
July 09, 2005
Good Question, Though
Colin Mochrie answers questions from fans on his website. Here's one:
Question from: Anna from Seattle
Question: I do a lot of improv classes and I know that knowing and trusting your partners makes everything so much easier. That's true in releationships, too. I was wondering, did the cast of 'Whose line' ever did trust exercises or anything before tapings, to get to know each other? By the way I love bald people, their the best! Thanks.
Did we ever do trust exercises…ha ha ha ha hah ha h h hahaaah
aah hah ah ahahahhahhaaahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahah ahahahahahahaa………… ahahahahahahhahahaahahahahahahahaahaha……no.
A Guilty Moment
I thought this review of the latest Weezer album was pretty funny.
Another Interesting Species on Its Way to Being Something Else
Notes From the Road
I had a little six-hour drive yesterday, so got to investigate some new, old, and old/new music along the way:
New - The Arcade Fire are brilliant and talented. Unbelievably brilliant, incredibly talented. On their debut album Funeral, they never let you forget, even for one little second, how brilliant and talented they are. That aside, the music is very good. Extraordinarily dense and powerful, it falls stylistically somewhere between Talking Heads and REM, with a German Expressionist string quartet thrown in. The rhythmic philosophy is one of intense restraint, which proves to be exhausting - a bit like reading a whole book of Gerard Manley Hopkins out loud (dude: it's called an iamb - look into it). Highly recommended, but demanding.
Old/New - Best of Groove Armada is collection of hits from the London DJs Groove Armada. Whether they are an old or new act depends on your age - they've been around since the mid-90s. In contrast to The Arcade Fire, their music is incredibly undemanding, not to say stupid. Some of it is great fun, but on the whole I was disappointed. They're OK, but they ain't the Chemical Brothers (<-- fun website). Oh yeah, The Chemical Brothers - gotta get more of that.
Old - The GTA: Vice City soundtrack (box set) is all the 80's anyone needs. The less said about the music, the better. The CDs do include some radio ads from the game, including my favorite, for the Degenatron:
Man: The degenatron gaming system plays three exciting
games including Defender of the Faith, where you save
the green dots with your fantastic flying red square.
Man: Monkey's Paradise, where you swing from green dot to
green dot with your red square monkey.
Kids: That's rad!
Man: And Penetrator, where you smash the green dots deep
inside the mysterious red square.
July 08, 2005
Spin on the Quake
A curator at the City Museum of San Francisco, Gladys Hansen, spent decades researching the casualities of the 1906 Quake in San Francisco. Our correspondent Jack London makes a memorable description of the quake and fire here.
They held on longest to their trunks, and over these trunks many a strong man broke his heart that night. The hills of San Francisco are steep, and up these hills, mile after mile, were the trunks dragged. Everywhere were trunks with across them lying their exhausted owners, men and women. Before the march of the flames were flung picket lines of soldiers. And a block at a time, as the flames advanced, these pickets retreated. One of their tasks was to keep the trunk-pullers moving. The exhausted creatures, stirred on by the menace of bayonets, would arise and struggle up the steep pavements, pausing from weakness every five or ten feet.Research for her book, and the documentary, suggests that there was an enormous cover-up: the dead were 3000, perhaps 6000, not 400, and more. Something like 500 alone may have been shot dead by law enforcement- note the picket lines in the quote above. The primary damage was the quake, not the fires, a spin due to a quirk of insurance claims - you can't claim fire damage if your building fell over first. Under orders from city fathers interested in spinning the disaster into momentum for rebuilding, many records of the disaster were hidden or destroyed, many photos, some of the most publicized and famous, were altered heavily to hide the damage, unlike the jaw-dropping kite based aerial photos here. (Be sure to enlarge the image and take advantage of the incredible detail in old-school giant panoramic negatives). The damage estimate was far off: the often reported figure of $300 million was actually "many billions" of 1906 dollars.
My favorite detail from the documentary - building codes were actually relaxed after the quake to stimulate construction, and it took 50 years to toughen them; a house built in 1905 was probably safer than one built in 1950.
Rebar for Tootsie Rolls: Where Blood Stains The Linoleum
Crumples' unbelievably disagreeable face, crinkled and pitted and rutted like some aerial photo of the Battle of the Somme, soured up even more when I asked for a Muu-Muu Tartan for Dardenella, so to say a scotch and mango daquiri, and a pint glass of McCaber's Woolly Old Pickled Sheep Nose Ale of Notable Strength for me. He was the only man I knew whose decades of back-alley boxing greatly improved his face, and he'd started in the bare-knuckle 56 rounds a fight days against animated meat slabs like "Miterbox" Marx the Heavyweight Midget and Sparks "No-Arms" McElroy, a disappointed expert telegraph tapper who had his feet legally re-registered as fists.
Crumples' arm plowed a furrow in the thick dust on the bar, shooting me a look of seering contempt as he fumbled with the paper umbrella for the dacquri, breaking it utterly and furiously crumpling the splinters into a ball before dropping the tiny little logjam onto the crushed ice, like a wolf-spider might decorate a dead but juicy horsefly for his girlfriend, which he knew was about to eat his head. Crumples was famous at the Rusty Hobnail for crushing ice by contemptuously ignoring it, and he was even more angry at me for having the G-Men pick him up and beat him into a sheet of Spam, until they realized he couldn't have spiked my Irish Startup drink with knock out drops from the pulpy fruit of the Concussion tree, because of the lipstick marks on the telltale napkin. It wasn't Crumples' shade by a longshot.
Dardenella was dressed against the fog with a violet silk number with a chevron of alternating sable and bakelite stripes and one of those necklines fallen so low they called it Black Monday and even if I didn't know fashion from taxidermy, I could tell that on Eleanor Roosevelt that same dress might have been confused for a restrictive scarf. Delectable D took a drag on her brand new 36" cig holder that I'd had remade from that blond cookie's sniper rifle, the one I appropriated before she was sent up to the Lindberg Correctional Home for Whack-Job Nazi Broads, there to watch the earth slowly rotate around the sun 45 times to life.
The cherry on the cigarette was practically the only light in the room, and the orange red light splashed on her perfect cheekbones in the syrupy gloom. The Rusty Hobnail was the last of the overturned '49er ships used as bars and restaraunts in San Francisco- they'd had an abortive attempt at an art deco remodel back in '19, but that just left a gold leaf -flapper Caryatid holding up the false keel ceiling, next to the last human remains of Dinky the Lascar sailor, whose head dangled from a beaded rope with a paper sign in green Magic Marker that said "Last Guy With a Bad Check." Women's underwear of disputable volume hung from the rafters. The pickled egg jar had a mark that made me suspect that it was Confederate in origin, from the war. Class joint. The society girls on Nob Hill, if they ever got drunk , lost and found themselves in here, would probably hang themselves from their pearl strands in despair.
Crumples called the caryatid "Shirley"- her breasts were both bare and covered in cracked yellow varnish- and winked at her dauly with a twinkle or perhaps a displaced eye-booger and the sort of repulsively lascivious grin that might send you to a remote Benedictine monastery to reconnect with moral cleanliness. And here in a whale-oil stained dark, time passed like molasses going uphill to a furniture store in Romania in January on a passport forged in green crayon while waiting for its grandmother to find her purse in the car.
"I'm bored, Mack," said Dardenella. "Why don't we go out dancing, at the Savoy? Runny Beans and His Lip Service Band are playing a whole set of Cab Calloway arrangements of the Ring Cycle."
"Sorry, Baby. You know we gotta wait for Abdul."
"The loathsome little rat! How I hate him!" She pouted, in such a way that it got me thinking of ways to give her more disappointing news. I pushed the cig holder out of the way, knocking over a whale-oil lamp, and stroked her cheek and neck and kissed her on her nose, a nose reknowned throughout Northern California for her perfect oval nostrils. She smelled nice, like lilac and truffles and a sea breeze over a field of candy strawberries.
"Buck up, kid, " I said, blasting the growing fire with the nitrogen extinguisher I always kept handy in a death trap like the Rusty Hobnail. Then I notice a surprised change in her expression.
The shift in the aroma toward stale gyro meat, cheap rye, and second-hand cigars meant Abdul Jimenez was standing behind me: a disagreeable Swiss character actor, used car salesman and political consultant for big water interests. Suddenly, everything went white.
"Like It?" He burbled.
"I can't see anything, Abdul, but you might remember I can shoot by smell."
"'Number One Grandpa?' " Said Dardenella. "Who the fuck elects grandpas?" This phrase confused me.
"I call it a 'novelty T-Shirt'," said Abdul, walking around a taking a chair. "Hey that's some sparkly dame you got here - what's your name, Sweet Cheeks?"
"Mrs. Ballcracker to you."
"Oh.ho..ho, Mack, she's a spicy noodle, eh? Here, check out these other shirts," he said, offering them hanging on his arm, the tips of his tiny moustache pointing to his cotton bearing hands.
I picked through a few - ordinary undershirts with sayings cheaply printed on them, like they were stolen from some deranged athletic club - with sayings like 'Hot Stuff" and "I'm with Stupid" and one moronic idea that looked like a picture of a tuxedo and the only one that made any sense at all- "23 Skidoo."
"And you're planning to CHARGE for these?," I said.
"Not much, frankly. It was the dumbest thing I could think of. It's just a front. I'm going to soak them in liquid opium and ship them around the country safely and then refine it into heroin."
"Nice to catch up. Why tell me?"
"I wanted you to know why I'm going to have to kill you," he said, whipping out a specialty 20mm handgun with a 4 round cylinder that must have weighed fifteen pounds. I seen one once before, at the climax of the case of Fats Scharnhorst and the Exploding Hindenberg.
"Mack!" Dardenella exclaimed considerably, diving under the table,
"Sorry, Abdul, I missed something there. We go back a ways. I never liked you, and I did sleep with your wife, and got you fired and then had your mother evicted, and snuck in and hid your car keys, and I think I ratted you out to the cops about fifteen times, but we go back. Why tell me your little smack scheme and then say you're going to kill me, you pan-Equitorial fruitcake? "
"Maybe I don't like you either, Brain. Maybe I'm a twisted hero-hating bastard. Maybe I haven't had a chance to try out my little cannon here. Maybe I've got tapioca for a conscience, and I'm looking for a few laughs. "
"You've confused me with someone who's not drunk. " I tossed back the ale - about as refreshing now as a bucket of hot sand. And what the hell was Crumples doing anyway? The samba? "What do you want, Jimenez?" Everyone wants something. I'd learned that in the detective business and once when I went to a Halloween party dressed as Jean Harlow.
"The Brown Envelope. And tell Crumples to shut off that bloody samba music."
"Take a powder, Crumples. " He stopped mid-step, crestfallen, his face collapsing like an earthen dam in an LA rainstorm.
Goddamn. Jimenez knew about the envelope. And he knew I could get it. If he knew what it really meant, it explained everything: The mysterious Buicks. The albino massage therapist. The bicycle bomb. The robot hookers. Did he know how many good men had died for the Brown Envelope? How many cops? How many actuaries? How many classical trombonists? The Brown Envelope - it was such stuff that dreams are mailed in.
"You're going to tell me where it is, and how I can get it." Jimenez glowered in a sick and strangely misplaced kind of triumph, like a poodle who's just swallowed an ashtray.
The Brown Envelope had built a que for death longer than the line for water at the Death Valley Rock Sucking Contest, and I wasn't about to spill just because some rye-swilling balloon-head was pointing a howitzer at my latest girlfriend.
"Say Baby, how bout a manicure?" I said.
Abdul looked at his hand. "But I just had them done this week..."
Dardenella was faster than greased lightning with an art history degree cashing a check. She whipped out her nail clippers and snipped in just the right way at just the right moment, and Abdul and his newly severed Achilles Tendon came crashing to the floor, him screaming in eerie silence, and as his gun hit the floor a monstrously huge report rattled every bottle of watered rye and the old oak ribs and Dinky the Lascar's head swayed sardonically in a circle. I kicked the gun away and got a foot on Adbdul's throat.
"You alright? I aksed Dardenella. She panted, her chest heaving up and going down a bit, before poofing out , and then sinking and then poofing up again, and she was holding the nail clippers from the end like a dead fish, where the blood dripped to the floor like Chinese Blood Torture, of floors.
"Mack, you're getting me a new pair of clippers. OH!" She was looking to the bar and held her hand to her mouth in distress, dropping the clippers with a tinny clank.
"OW!" It was Crumples. There was a spattering of blood on the racks of bottles and the bar. He'd taken the 20mm cannon round on the chin. Where it promptly skipped off. He'd probably done more damage to himself shaving that morning. The round itself left a 2 foot hole in the wall with a lovely view of the Bay, and the first sunlight to hit that place in a century scorched the linoleum.
Tough old guy, Crumples, like seal jerky from the Napoleonic Wars. You had to hand him that.
THE COMPLETE REBAR FOR TOOTSIE ROLLS is AT IRONCANDY.BLOGSPOT.COM