Monday, October 31, 2005

You can't force Catharsis, nor a non-divisive Supreme Court nominee

For the past week or so, I've been working on a new song called "Catharsis". It would be my most personal song to date, and also perhaps my best, but unfortunately there's so much that I want (and perhaps need) to say in it that a) it's hard to put into words and b) even when it is in words it's hard to structure it into something resembling a song. I'm trying not to force it and just let it flow naturally, but when I get really excited about a song, that's hard sometimes. Anyway, I offer a preview as today's song lyric.

In the meantime, what else is new? Hmm, it appears Dubya has a new nominee to fill Sandra Day O'Connor's seat in the Supreme Court. You know, I kinda have to feel for Dubya. He has increasingly seemed to have an almost boyish innocence about him, which is not something one should be able to say about a president. He was almost sheepish in his defense of previous nominee Harriet Miers. "I know her heart," he said. Aw, how sweet. Any clue about her ability to, I dunno, judge stuff in a litigious manner?

And so now we have this Sam Alito cat. If he is appointed, he should swap names with Justice Scalia, so we could have nice alliterative justices Antonin Alito and Samuel Scalia. Wouldn't that be nice? Because, supposedly, they're by and large indistinguishable.

Naturally, the Dems and Pubs will focus on his vast anti-choice record. Indeed, in my brief search, I've been able to find very little else about his case history than his monstrously ignorant 1991 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. But then, we fully expected an anti-choice Bush nominee, so who is really surprised? I'm curious as to where Alito stands on other important issues, but I will defer to my colleagues Jeff and Ben for what will likely be far better analysis. (Hope to hear from the latter soon.) Given the Scalia comparisons, I'm not particularly hopeful.

Song lyric of the day:
"I'm still waiting for my catharsis
'Cause I'm becoming so lethargic
And now we have to find a way
To make it through each day
And still come out sane on the other end"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Something to tell the kids about

It is the next morning. Actually, I guess it's later the same morning. My hands are still sore from the clapping. My throat is still parched from the screaming. My heart is still slightly broken from the defeat. But dammit, I was at the longest game in World Series history.

Every World Series has a story, but this one is extra personal to me. It's a story I look forward to telling my children, who will undoubtedly be baseball fans.

I can tell them about the night the Astros won the pennant, how I stupidly drank four beers at Two Rows on an empty stomach, waiting around 3 hours for the Astros to win so the tables would clear and we could eat, and how the place erupted when Jason Lane caught the fly ball for the final out.

I can tell them how excited we were knowing we were going to game 3, and how much it meant to their grandfather, who had been robbed of several previous chances to make it to the Series.

I can tell them how I knew we had this game, because Roy Oswalt was on the mound and the Astros were back at home, and how certain I was this would be the night we turned it around after two devastating losses.

I can tell them about the controversy when Major League Baseball refused to let them close the roof at Minute Maid Park, which not only destroyed some of the Astros' homefield advantage, but also caused many Houstonians, blood thinned by the previous weeks' 90-degree weather, to complain about how chilly the 60-degree weather was.

I can tell them about how fired up the crowd got after we took a 4-run lead in the fourth, the biggest lead either team had had in the Series.

I can tell them how a seemingly isolated Joe Crede homer off Oswalt in the fifth exploded into a five-run inning, giving the Sox the lead, and how the crowd got more silent (with many exceptions, including yours truly).

I can tell them how their uncle Aaron texted me in the late innings, telling me he couldn't spot me in the stands on television, and asking me to run across the field naked to make it easier for him. And how a very small part of me was tempted.

I can tell them how the crowd got fired up when we tied it up in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the eighth.

I can tell them how the stadium erupted when Mike Gallo was relieved by Brad Lidge, whose last two appearances had both resulted in him giving up game-losing home runs, and how loudly I sang Drowning Pool's The Game, and how the crowd erupted further when Lidge struck out Aaron Rowand to end the Sox threat in the ninth.

I can tell them how much their grandparents wished they could have stayed for the full game, but were too exhausted to make it past the ninth.

I can tell them how we squandered opportunities to score that elusive winning run in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings, as the game dragged on, but never got boring. I can try, and probably fail, to explain all those indescribable moments baseball has to offer, the tension that mounts over and over again, each time ultimately erupting with victory or, as often as not, shattering with defeat. And how this game was such a great example of that je ne sais quoi that baseball fans just can't quite describe for the poor idiots who think baseball is boring.

I can tell them about how delirious the crowd had gotten by the fourteenth, and how I myself was so delirious that I was actually convinced perennial losing pitcher Ezequiel Astacio might be able to get out of the inning. But then ex-Astro Geoff Blum silenced the crowd with a home run, and as if that weren't enough, Zeke loaded the bases and then walked Chris Widger (yes, the Chris Widger, threat that he is) to push in another run and make the game seem even further out of reach. Which it inevitably was.

Ultimately, I can explain game 3, and this World Series in general, in terms of missed opportunities, how many times the 'Stros had runners in scoring position with less than two outs and couldn't get them home. I can use it as a metaphor for life, about how bitter those missed opportunities feel after the fact, how you keep telling yourself you'll get another chance but then someone else capitalizes on the chances you passed up. And how you just never know which opportunity may be the last.

And I can remind them that it's just a game. But what a game!

(I promise my posts will get shorter eventually. The last few just needed to be long.)

Song lyric of the day:
"And if I had a nickel for every damn dime
I might have half the time, do you mind?
Everyone's afraid of their own life
If you could be anything you want
I bet you'd be disappointed, am I right?"
- Modest Mouse, Lives

Monday, October 24, 2005

Concert Review: Buzzfest XVI

Every year, 94.5 The Buzz, the alternative rock radio station in Houston, puts on two music festivals known, very creatively, as Buzzfest. This past weekend was the fall instance of Buzzfest, the sixteenth installment. To two different people I talked to Saturday, I described it as "Houston's version of HFStival [an annual music festival in Washington, D.C.], except not quite as good." But I admit, that was largely nostalgia talking (along with the fact that I tend to get far drunker at HFStival), and The Buzz put on a pretty good show in their own right.

At the last minute, due to the upcoming World Series, the venue was moved from Minute Maid Park to the good ol' Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. On the plus side, this made the tickets cheaper, but unfortunately, CWMP is practically in Oklahoma, so I'm sure the money saved on tickets was eaten up in gas. So I went with Aaron, and got to see the following bands:

Institute: For those of you who don't know, Institute is the side project (or is it the new band?) of Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale (a.k.a. Mr. Gwen Stefani). They played Bush classics Machinehead and closer Everything Zen along with their own material (including radio hit Bullet-Proof Skin. Their show was tight and the music sounded good, but it sounded just like Bush, and I kept wondering why it was necessary for Gavin to completely change bands just to keep recording the same kind of music.

10 Years: I don't know if the song Wasteland is getting played as much outside of Houston as inside, but it's been inescapable for Buzz listeners here. Aaron has their album "The Autumn Effect" and says it's pretty good, but he also said after their set that they managed to play the entire album except for the two best songs on it. And they played them mediocrely at that. I fully expect this band to continue towing the line of run-of-the-mill wish-we-were-Tool gloom rock bands like Chevelle.

Cold: The first of the bands whose albums I had actually heard and enjoyed. They played most of the hits (Just Got Wicked, Suffocate, and Happens All the Time) as well as upcoming single A Different Kind of Pain. Sadly, the latter is the only one that sounded worth a damn. At one point, lead singer Scooter Ward apologized for technical difficulties, but was obviously very pissed off, and they stormed offstage before playing certain closer Stupid Girl, much the chagrin of most of the audience. So they were pretty mediocre, but probably would have been better if the sound mix hadn't sucked.

Our Lady Peace: Where Are You? was a question on the lips of many (certainly Aaron and myself) when this band suddenly failed to appear on the schedule. I later learned via their website that they've cancelled several shows due to family illness. So there went the band I was most looking forward to. Oh well, it wouldn't be a day in the life of Mike in 2005 without something going wrong. Moving on...

Yellowcard: I have to respect a punk rock band with a violin. These were the only guys I managed to see on the second stage, and I only caught half the set. Fortunately, that included a tight performance of Ocean Avenue, my favorite song by them. The new single Lights and Sounds also sounded pretty good. It's available on their website for those interested.

Seether: They opened predictably with Gasoline and closed just as predictably with Broken, but predictability notwithstanding, it was a damn good set. The Gift was excellent live, and radio favorites Fine Again, Driven Under, and Remedy were all solid. The cover of the Deftones' Change (In the House of Flies) was about as random as when Deep Ella launched into Fake Plastic Trees at Scout Bar, but it sounded great. I would have replaced Burrito with Sympathetic and fit Simplest Mistake in there someplace, but regardless, Buzzfest had begun to pick up.

Nickelback: Yes, everyone makes fun of these guys for all their songs sounding the same. And yes, I was tempted to sing the lyrics to How You Remind Me when they played Someday. And yes, those songs as well as the new single Photograph are victims of ridiculously massive radio overplay. I don't care - these guys put on a good rock show. They made good use of pyrotechnics and even threw in a drum solo for good measure. Besides, it's hard not to respect a band that hauls out a crate full of cold beer in the middle of the show and starts tossing cans into the audience. As for the actual show, they did a solid job of hitting the highlights and keeping the audience into it. Fortunately, even old favorites such as Breathe and Leader of Men made appearances. (Chad Kroeger admitted the latter had been written while on 'shrooms, which, let's face it, makes sense.) All in all, their live show offers a valid explanation as to how these guys have stuck around.

Audioslave: I had seen these guys before (at the aforementioned HFStival in 2003) but that didn't dampen my enthusiasm, as the new album "Out of Exile" is solid and, better still, I had heard that they had begun playing some of their old material from the Soundgarden and Rage days. And I hadn't heard wrong. This show sealed my night. From opener Your Time Has Come to closer Cochise, they played every Audioslave song I had expected, but that was the only predictable part of the show. About five songs in, Tom Morello suddenly launched into the open riff of Rusty Cage and followed it up with Spoonman. A few songs later, Chris Cornell announced they were going to do a "mellow jam", which quickly exploded into Sleep Now in the Fire. As if that weren't enough, they also got to Killing in the Name, and I enjoyed the hell out of pumping my fist in the air screaming, "Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me!" (As an added bonus, Cornell twisted the lyrics in the second verse around, singing, "Some of those who hold office / Are the same that burn crosses".) But the absolute highlight of the show was when Cornell walked out with an acoustic guitar. I thought, "Okay, here's I Am the Highway." At which point, the opening notes of Black Hole Sun began drifting through the speakers. I, along with most of the crowd, went nuts as Chris Cornell tore through the best rendition of the song I've heard, just him and a guitar. It was amazing.

Overall, I enjoyed my Buzzfest XVI experience. The presence of OLP and better sound for Cold might have heightened it further, but I'll take what I got. It was a lot of fun.

And, as I've often said, if brevity truly is the soul of wit, I'm the least witty person ever (with the possible exception of Polonius). In spite of this, I have to close with a song lyric:

"You can come by any time you want
I'll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun"
- Wilco, Jesus, Etc.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Well, I got the World Series I wanted...

...and I'd love to have something eloquent to say, about how the city of Houston really needed this, or how the city of Chicago has suffered such a long drought, or something like that. But I feel like anything I could say has already been said, so all that's left is:


Thank you.

Song lyric of the day:
"Well I got what I wanted
Now I don't want anything
Yeah, I got what I wanted
And now my life is just boring..."
- Dog's Eye View, Everything Falls Apart

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Are you propositioning me?

This November, Texas has no less than 9 propositions on the ballot. I'm not sure if anyone is actually interested besides me, but I figured I could use this space to collect my thoughts on each amendment and determine which way I'm going to vote. Plus, it's a great way for me to procrastinate and still feel like I'm accomplishing something.

So, without further ado, the propositions and their ballot language, taken from the state voter guide, as well as my personal take. (It's a long post, so feel free to skip the amendments you don't care about, which may be all 9):

  • Prop. 1: "The constitutional amendment creating the Texas rail relocation and improvement fund and authorizing grants of money and issuance of obligations for financing the relocation, rehabilitation, and expansion of rail facilities."

    Works for me. Texas does have a significant number of rail facilities (as I discovered in my well-documented trek across east Texas) and so I imagine rehabilitating them is a good thing. Then again, expansion I'm not so sure about. This is the 21st century, right? Ultimately, the libertarian capitalist in me is thinking it might be better to let the private sector recognize the benefits of improved railroads and let them sort it out. The bleeding-heart liberal in me acknowledges the environmental factor, but doesn't think it significant enough to merit such rampant spending. Right now, that's where I'm at on this one.

  • Prop. 2: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

    A no-brainer if I ever heard one. If anyone currently reading this blog doubts which way I'm going to vote on this one, they probably just randomly happened by this site. (In which case, I direct them to some earlier posts to clarify.)

    (And if you'll indulge me in a side point, I'd like to point you to an infuriating article that claims the only counterargument to the marriage amendment is that it is bigoted and homophobic. Um, wrong. Even though the amendment is bigoted and homophobic, my argument against it is that no government, local, state, or federal, has any business defining what constitutes a marriage. Period.)

    (It is also worth noting that the article itself is rather bigoted and homophobic, though I agree that the term "homophobia" is something of a misnomer. I could go on and on about it, but I'd probably be saying things everyone has heard before, so I won't expound unless my readers request it.)

  • Prop. 3: "The constitutional amendment clarifying that certain economic development programs do not constitute a debt."

    Could that be any more ambiguous? "Certain economic development programs", eh? Thanks, mind pointing out which ones?

    The vagueness of the ballot language on this one is so frustrating I can't stand it. Basically, a single court case seems to have catalyzed an entire state constitutional amendment, and I don't see why legislation won't suffice.

  • Prop. 4: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the denial of bail to a criminal defendant who violates a condition of the defendant's release pending trial."

    This one seems fishy to me. Hmm, you mean we deny bail to someone who violates the terms of his bail? Seems pretty obvious to me. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of anything concerning defendant's rights in Texas. Must study this one further.

    Nope, that's pretty much it. This seems like a valid way to protect victims, but I worry that it may poorly define what constitutes a "violation". It's a real judgment call here. (No pun intended.)

  • Prop. 5: "The constitutional amendment allowing the legislature to define rates of interest for commercial loans."

    Yet another case of misleading ballot language. Initially, I was inclined to vote "no", as I'd rather have banks making decisions about their loan interest rates than legislatures. However, upon further review this actually allows the Legislature to exempt commercial loans from state-imposed maximum interest rates. So does this mean the state defines interest rates, as the ballot language says, or allows banks to define them, as the explanation says.

    The analysis clarifies, and the explaining language is more accurate (though, sadly, not what the voters will see.) As commercial businesses will tend to have a greater sense of their available loan options than private citizens, I see no reason why this amendment shouldn't go through. Banks having to compete for business should yield fair interest rates.

  • Prop. 6: "The constitutional amendment to include one additional public member and a constitutional county court judge in the membership of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct."

    Um, okay. Sure. Sounds good to me. "The more the merrier," I always say.

  • Prop. 7: "The constitutional amendment authorizing line-of-credit advances under a reverse mortgage."

    I really don't understand this one fully enough to provide a good opinion. If anyone with a greater knowledge of that area wants to offer advice, I'm all ears.

  • Prop. 8: "The constitutional amendment providing for the clearing of land titles by relinquishing and releasing any state claim to sovereign ownership or title to interest in certain land in Upshur County and in Smith County."

    This amendment is very specific to its location. Generally, I'm inclined to believe that the land is being held in "good faith". I'm completely unclear as to why an amendment to the state constitution is necessary here, but right now I'm in favor.

  • Prop. 9: "The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for a six-year term for a board member of a regional mobility authority."

    I'm torn on this one, because I agree with both the "for" argument that cites stability and the "against" argument that worries about accountability. I guess I'm inclined to think that board members of a regional mobility authority won't be particularly corrupt, but who knows?

Okay, so I lost a little steam there at the end. The bottom line, as you've likely noticed, is most voters aren't really going to have a clue how to vote on most of these issues, because the language that will appear on the ballot provides little information and is even misleading at times. I intended to keep my comments mostly smartass in nature (as is my way), but naturally strayed into some legitimate analysis. My final take, Texas will likely pass the marriage amendment overwhelmingly (much to my chagrin) and as for the others, I have no sense of which way they will go.

Song lyric of the day:
"Your insecurity pollutes your path to purity
But I don't know if you feel this way all the time
Hear me: I don't think you're right
I know you've got nothing to prove"
- Caroline's Spine, Nothing to Prove

Friday, October 14, 2005

Is anyone else having this problem?

Ben sent me an email last night asking me, "What the heck happened to the layout of your blog?" (Ben, you can say "hell", it's okay.) Apparently, my two most recent posts popped up next to each other, with the usual sidebar stuff pushed to the bottom. I wasn't having that problem myself, so I foolishly (though not illogically) assumed Ben was out of his mind.

However, today as I checked the blogs from the Rice Ryon Lab computers, I ran Mozilla rather than Internet Explorer, and noticed what Ben was talking about. Ordinarily, I run Firefox, but until I have time to get my laptop fixed I've switched over to my older computer and haven't bothered installing Firefox on it. So what I'm wondering is, is anyone else running Mozilla, Firefox, or maybe even Netscape having this problem? It could be a browser-related error, in which case I'll have to spend actual time (which I don't have) figuring out how to get around it. Or, it could just be a freak coincidence. Either way, I'm curious.

Song lyric of the day (since I'm seeing these guys tomorrow):
"How do you tell an angel that you don't believe in God?
Why do I feel like such a stranger
I look around and all my friends are gone"
- Blue October, Angel

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Leaving Nashville

For the first time in a long time, I have actually finished writing a song. Given that I finished it on the way up to Nashville this past weekend, it's sort of ironic that the title is "Leaving Nashville". I waited to post it because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say about it. I guess I'll just point out that even though I only started writing it this past summer, this song has been quite a long time in the making (depending on how I want to interpret it on a particular day, as much as 6 years). It's certainly not my best song ever, but I'm glad to have it done. Hopefully I will get around to recording it at some point. (And Ben, I swear I'll finish "Just Like Everybody Else" first.)

Anyway, without further ado...

"Leaving Nashville"

I made a mistake as I pulled into Nashville
I started thinking about the past
And as all the regrets kept adding to the buzzkill
I took my foot off of the gas

'Cause all I know is it's not what I want
I almost had it then
Back before she traded me for a beautiful stranger
And I chose to pretend

So which way would I go if I could do it all again?

I parked the car, got out and started walking
Under the stars like it was 1999
Tomorrow just became the day she'll take that first step
Into all that's possible
And out of the life that used to be mine

'Cause all I know's everything I've been told
By everyone who learned
They say I must be a pyromaniac
For all the bridges that I've burned

And I know it
All along I was so sure I'd blow it
Can't you see?
I've got something inside of me

But I hide it
What would it be like to live inside?
I'll never know
So how does the rest of it go?

So I'll live in all I never had
And it will always make me sad

The night we crossed the Cumberland
It felt just like the Rubicon
She told me true love never ends
I knew right then our love was gone

Downtown by the Cumberland
I washed away my foolish dreams
Nothing turned out how I planned
And no one hears my silent screams

I made a mistake as I pulled out of Nashville
I said goodbye and meant it...

Needless to say, that will suffice for song lyric of the day. As always, opinions welcome. I hope to soon be posting lyrics to other songs I'm working on, particularly "Bethany" and "Standard Issue Angel".

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Nashville Excursion

This past weekend was fall break at Rice so I decided to make what will likely be my final excursion for a while into Nashville. It just so happened to also be fall break for LSU, and Vanderbilt was playing LSU in football, so Banecker and some of his LSU friends were going up for the game and we made plans to meet up. Then about a week ago I got two phone calls: one from Melanie and one from Brad Ploeger, both informing me that they too were going to be in Nashville. Add to that the fact that Collazzi, Meredith, and Bradley and Lori are still in the Nashville area, and all the pieces were in place for a great weekend.

And sure enough, it was, with a few notable exceptions:

  • Encounters with Mississippi policemen (see earlier post)
  • Certain aspects of the LSU game, such as getting spit on by LSU fans before the game started, and the entire fourth quarter.
  • The Slant production computer going down after the layout was 90% done. (Fortunately, they managed to recover somehow after Collazzi and I left.)
  • Bradley was out of town, and I couldn't get in touch with Lori.

But fortunately, and not unexpectedly, the few lowlights were trumped by a large number of highlights, which were, in order:

  • Mark's whole 21st birthday party, most notably:

    • Banecker, in his infinite good taste, insisting on Killian's for the keg.
    • Collazzi's little brother challenging Banecker and Collazzi to a game of beer pong, and the sudden simultaneous laughter that erupted from all present immediately thereafter. (Naturally, Banecker and Collazzi won even though they were off their game.)
    • Subsequent beer pong games - I never won, but they served their purpose.
    • A random 2 AM trip to Wendy's afterward.

  • Meeting (though not actually being introduced to) Rachel.
  • Barbecue with Banecker and Ploeger (wish you could have stayed through Sunday, guys).
  • The first three quarters of the Vandy-LSU game, in which our defense kept things closer than they should have been and we clung to the dim hope of winning.
  • Hanging out at good ol' Sportsman's Grill.
  • Meredith's new hair color, which looks great. (Get it? Her hair color is among the "highlights"? Haha, I kill me.)
  • Jesus as a fetus (don't ask).
  • An in-depth discussion of the greatest "Simpsons" episodes ever, most notably "Cape Feare", the unanimous choice.
  • Fido rendezvous with Melanie, and the dog with good taste.
  • Catching up with David Sims over drinks at the Flying Saucer.
  • Finally getting to meet the infamous Ceaf, the latest in an illustrious line of Slant Editors-in-Chief.
  • Ken's Sushi with Melanie. (Man, I really miss that.)
  • Hanging out with Ceaf, Dinsmore, Tim, Richie and the rest of The Slant crowd at production.
  • Richie quietly and proudly informing me of his newfound love of drinking.
  • Repeated viewings of the "Bat Dad" episode of "South Park".
  • Ali's new football sex scheme (to replace the old insufficient baseball one), and Melanie's request for me to write a book about guys. I'll get on it eventually.

In short, I had a lot of fun reliving the glory days and seeing a lot of people I hadn't gotten to hang out with in a long time. Everyone seems to be doing really well, and it's good to see that you've all stayed cool, or if possible, gotten even cooler. Thanks for a great weekend everyone!

Song lyric of the day:
"And on the streets tonight, an old man plays
With newspaper cuttings from his glory days"
- Manic Street Preachers, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

It had to be said...

With apologies to Collazzi, I have an idea for the next MasterCard commercial.

Getting two teams into the NLCS: $170 million combined
Getting two teams into the ALCS: $170 million combined
The 2005 New York Yankees: $208 million
Attempting to buy a World Series again, and failing again: priceless

There are some things money can't buy. Now we're down to teams that fought with something other than their wallets. Now that we've gotten rid of the ridiculously big spenders (the Yankees, and to a lesser but noticeable extent the Red Sox), we can focus on the purer aspects of the game.

Here's to a Astros-White Sox World Series!

"Are you familiar with the Fourth Amendment?" "I don't listen to hip-hop."

"Society had a crime problem. It hired cops to attack crime. Now society has a cop problem." -Tom Robbins

My Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search was explicitly violated for the first time Friday as I drove up to Nashville. A local Mississippi police officer pulled me over on Interstate 55 because I was apparently swerving slightly within my lane. (If that's true, it was probably largely because I had to keep constantly checking my rear view mirror wondering why this cop was just sitting right behind me.)

Once on the side of the road, he did the usual ask for my driver's license jazz. Shockingly, when he called it in, he discovered there were no unpaid tickets or outstanding warrants. He had absolutely no probable cause to search my car. But he asked to anyway. I really should have asked him why, but in the heart of Mississippi I wasn't exactly loving the situation I was in. (Early scenes from My Cousin Vinny were racing through my head.)

So I got to stand by the side of the road with the guy's backup (yes, backup showed up) while he searched my car. He asked me if I'd had anything to drink that day. I said "No." (I should have said, "It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and I've been on the road for 6 hours, what the hell do you think?") He asked me if I ever drank. "Only on special occasions." (A little white lie, especially since I was wearing my Guinness t-shirt). He asked me if I had any marijuana in the car. "No." Have you ever used marijuana? "No." Have you ever been around anyone who used marijuana? "Only at rock concerts." (I should have said, "All the time, you moron, I went to college. Which is more than I can say for your dumb ass.")

All the while, I'm watching him like a hawk to make sure he doesn't try to plant anything or steal anything (these were legitimate concerns, very real in my mind at the time).

Ultimately, the cops were friendly enough and they let me go as soon as they didn't find anything. But still, it pissed me off. It was fifteen minutes of my life that I'll never have back. It was fifteen minutes they could have spent catching an actual criminal. And mostly, I just felt like my privacy was being invaded with no damn good reason.

Now, I really do respect police officers for the most part, but (if I haven't made it obvious in earlier posts) I'm not a particularly huge fan of traffic cops. To me, they contribute more to the problem than the solution. But then again, I don't think this guy even qualified as a traffic cop. Probably just some local boy who was bored on a Friday afternoon.

I suppose the one positive note to come out of all this is the knowledge that Mississippi cops don't target black people exclusively. Whee.

Song lyric of the day:
"Do no wrong, so clean cut
Dirty his hands, it comes right off
- Pearl Jam, W.M.A. (White Male American)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"I know it all must be Bill Clinton's fault"

The great acoustic punk group Oreo Euthanasia (i.e. Jeff and Ashok) once wrote a song about a registered Republican who was working on his tan in Azerbaijan who blames his hair loss on Bill Clinton. The song's mockery of the Republican party's general view on our 42nd President's culpability held some truth to it: for a Republican, it's easy to view many of the events of the past few years as a result of eight years of Democratic leadership under Clinton. Certainly, it's much easier to cast the atrocities of 9/11 as a result of negligence during Clinton's term (rather than negligence by a newly elected President who was so exhausted after a mere 6 months on the job that he decided to take a vacation for the month of August that year, prompting a certain blogger who you might be vaguely familiar with to remark to his mother, "This can only lead to trouble." As I said in my last post, I hate being right). (Not that I blame Dubya for the atrocities either, more that I simply expect increased vigilance from my Commander-in-Chief.) (And granted, Clinton wasn't necessarily that much more vigilant either, but at least he stayed at the White House. As much as you might wish the nation's capital was in Crawford, Texas, Dubya, you have to realize that the Founding Fathers designed the White House for a reason.)

Sorry, that wasn't planned, it just kinda slipped out. Anyway, rambling aside, their is a point to this post, which is that part of me shares the Republican party's sentiment, only for slightly different reasons. As my spontaneous parenthetical rant probably indicated, I have grown remarkably disenchanted with American politicians, so much so that I have almost vowed to vote third-party from here on.

On Sunday, I read an article whose tale of frustration parallels my own. Nora Ephron, of Sleepless in Seattle fame, wrote an opinion article in today's Houston Chronicle about "falling out of love with Bill." She speaks of that initial attraction that Clinton held for so many, and where it went astray for her. It wasn't where you might think. It was "over gays in the military." At that moment, that image of a politician who might actually have a spine disappeared.

But perhaps the most poignant point was later in the article, when she indirectly states that Clinton helped get George W. Bush elected. "If Bill had behaved, Al would have been elected, and thousands and thousands of people would be alive today who are instead dead." That's a bit of an overstatement (I doubt 9/11 could have been averted by a Gore administration, for example) but it makes an interesting point: Bill Clinton's inability to withstand his extramarital urges (though I can easily imagine Hillary being cold in the face of his intramarital urges) gave the Republican party the opportunity it needed to hijack family values. (How they hijacked foreign affairs is still a mystery to me, but that dates back more to the Reagan era.)

So maybe it is all Bill Clinton's fault. Honestly, would the recent rise in extreme Christian conservatism have succeeded if not catalyzed by adulterous fellatio? The Republican party has always been an interesting marriage of Christian and capitalist values (if you read the Bible, Jesus Christ was hardly a capitalist) but they've pulled it off ever more convincingly in recent years because they succeeded in villainizing a man who caved to to that most human and yet most animal of instincts. Now we have pushes for abstinence-only education. Now we have the Federal Marriage Amendment (suddenly "don't ask, don't tell" seems a reasonable compromise). Now we have Alberto Gonzales' "war on porn" ("Screw that", says Jeff). Now at least one man is losing faith in the American government as he watches part of it be subverted before his eyes.

Wow, it's funny how you plan for a short post with a link to an article and brief commentary, and it explodes into epic proportions. As I read over it, I'm admittedly hesitant to leave it all in there, but I will. Stream of consciousness often reveals interesting details about oneself, even some that have long lain dormant.

Anyway, by virtue of Ms. Ephron's name, today's song lyric has been stuck in my head since I read her article. Here goes...

"Nora, now I don't feel she feels the same way about me
She wonders if I'll ever be who she dreamed I'd be
But she never says I love you 'til I say I love you
Like we're exchanging hostages"
- the Long Winters, Nora

Sunday, October 02, 2005

"The dream went awaaaaayyyy"

Well, I warned all of my fellow college football fans not to be so quick to count Vanderbilt as 5-0. "But MTSU is 0-3 and suck," they said. "But we lost to them when they were second division, and we have yet to beat them," I said. "But this year's team is better," they said. "Well, I'm keeping my fingers crossed, all I'm saying is just wait and see."

I hate being right.

Of course, I screamed at the commentators on ESPN 2 last night when they said Vanderbilt's bowl hopes were still alive, that we could still beat Kentucky and South Carolina. "Why not LSU?" I asked. "Why not Georgia or Florida or even Tennessee? If those games have already been decided, why bother playing them?" It's a question often asked by a Commodores fan used to seeing his team slighted. Sadly, it's usually answered with the response, "That's a good question" as Vandy gets pummelled by the top 25 SEC schools.

Oh well, I'd say this merits a song quote that describes my approach to the Vanderbilt football situation (as well as too many other aspects of my current life to mention):

"Reaching out for a hand that we can't see
Everybody's got a hold on hope
It's the last thing that's holding me"
- Guided by Voices, Hold on Hope

(Speaking of song quotes, bonus points to anyone who can identify the artist who sang today's post's title.)