Thursday, August 30, 2007

Weekly World News Silenced

So they’ve finally killed-off the Weekly World News and the world is a duller place because of that. No more shall we stand in a supermarket checkout line and let our attention take in the shocking news that “Dick Cheney is a Robot”. (“Just Like a Stepford Wife!” The splash assures us.) This publication started out around the time that I first started to read the things around me...I mean really take in my surroundings. For a kid, sitting caged in one of those rolling metal death traps that are shopping carts, those magazines racks were right at eye level, and I took it all in, along with the candy and bubble gum right beside them.
Now, those supermarket rags, as I understand this, are holdovers from the 1950’s, that glorious Post-War era that seems to have just paved the Yellow Brick Road to Hell for Western Civilization. It was a time when women were expected to stay at home and do housework, which, of course, included the shopping. In between her doing the vacuuming (in heels and pearls, of course!) and using the latest technological advances of a modern kitchen to prepare delicious meals for her family, she would take time out and amuse herself with a variety of entertaining game shows, variety programming, and, of course, the “stories” on television, (many of them still brought to you courtesy of the very same brand name sponsors as back then.)
Of course, this relic, this model of the “Modern Wife” of that era would also find distraction(and some still do, I believe) at the checkout line, by browsing tabloids that told not only of the gossip of the Hollywood Stars and various pop celebrities but hyped also the fictional happenings and machinations of the various characters from their stories. But I digress. You see, as a kid, sitting there, in a supermarket, deciphering these cryptic headlines on my own, I made a serious and solid decision…I chose the one about Bigfoot and UFOS over the “Who Shot JR” ones.
I wasn’t intentionally exposed to such garbage, you understand. I mean, my mother taught English and expected better from me. She selected, and made sure I completed, a summer reading list every year, and would engage me in conversation (i.e. quiz me) on selected topics from the readings, and, once, she went to bat for me with the nuns when I got kicked out of fifth grade for reading Mark Twain during recess. How could I let her know that I would cunningly purchase and read any copy of that pulp rag that I could lay my hands on? Thanks to some skillful distribution of comic books and newspapers in my life, however no one ever caught on that I was reading the Weekly World News.
In high school I realized that, no matter how cool it was to believe that Debbie Gibson was pregnant with Elvis’ two headed love child, it was really not going to happen. But by that point I was also writing actively, and taking great pleasure in learning about it as a craft, an art, and a potential livelihood, and I looked at the Weekly World News as a fun guide to outlandish creativity.
You see, the headlines were always fun and clever: “Man Marries Computer & Becomes a GIGAMIST!”, “Imelda Marcos Skins Children for More Shoes!”, “Vegan Vampire Attacks Trees”. And they always pulled it off with just the right edge of suspicion and veracity to make one both chuckle and wonder. It helped me develop a healthy understanding of the relatively plausible, the plainly outlandish, and the just plain freaky. (Gotta love those Freaks!)
In later years, through college overseas, then coming back and living in a brand new kind of neo-post-modern hell, The Weekly World News offered only small portion of its former vigor. Batboy had become all the rage and they were putting out way too many headlines about him, and about Jesus, God, and the End of Days. But they still came through, every week, drawing readers into a style and place, where anything could, sometimes did, happen.
But, in the end it seems that The Paper was just past it’s time. Still published in glorious black and white, still hawking Elvis sightings, alien encounters, conspiracies within the government, and newly discovered prophecies, it was, after a point, doomed.
I once told a good friend that I believed that, if indeed, Signs of the End of the World were to be made manifest, and the Four Horsemen were to Ride, the Weekly World News would most likely report it first. Now, I’m pretty sure, it would be on the Drudge Report, or YouTube, or some such site long before it made it to print. (And would be followed for days by talking head commentary, analysis, and reaction.)
We are living, now, in an age where real world worries and horrors far outweigh the imagined ones of extra terrestrial rectal probes and Chinese organ stealing rings. These days nothing is shocking, nothing takes us by surprise, and not much makes us think, anymore. People openly accuse the government of the most ridiculous schemes and revile their elected leaders as the worst kind of diabolical cabal, and it passes for insightful mainstream political criticism.
Parent company, American Media, Inc. gave no public reason for their decision to close down the presses at the WWN, but one insider said that the reasons for shutting down don’t make any sense. Now, they say that the Website will remain and that it’s only the print edition that is defunct, but people seem to have long given up on Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, Elvis, and Batboy. What people want now are sources, they expect hard facts, and as much of the illusion of accuracy that television or the internet can offer them. Why shell out for a black and white tabloid when you can log in and find any number of strange happenings, bizarre tales, and weird people. Mostly they’re a lousy bunch of loudmouth whack-jobs sounding off about their brand of insanity but, because of the way it’s delivered, people believe that it is “Now fortified with 10% more Truth!”
I’ve long since drifted away from reading tabloids, have only scanned a few stories while waiting in line at the stores, but losing the WWN a loss is to me because they were never afraid to take it one step too far, and they never took themselves too seriously, they did as much to inform as to entertain. Their twisted style of trashy strangeness, their unapologetic exploitation of Freaks, Geeks and Weirdos, it all appealed to sick bastards out there like me. Their lurid stories were like junk food for my brain, a kind of mental candy on which to chew, and I will miss the headlines at the checkout counter, about Elvis, and Bigfoot, and even Batboy…but you know...I believe that I will miss the Freaks most of all.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I was tagged by Kel over on KelKnits for a Wikipedia Birthday Meme a few weeks ago. I figured that since it was so close to the actual birthday, I would just wait and post it now.

August 1st
3 Events:
30 BC - Octavian (later known as Augustus) enters Alexandria, Egypt, bringing it under the control of the Roman Republic.
1966Charles Whitman kills 15 people shooting from the Main Building at The University of Texas at Austin before being killed by the police.
1981 - MTV begins broadcasting and airs its first video, "Video Killed The Radio Star" by the Buggles.

2 Birthdays:
1819 - Herman Melville, American writer (d. 1891)
1942 - Jerry Garcia, American musician (The Grateful Dead) (d. 1995)

1 Holiday:
Lammas - Neopagan festival of Lammas.

I don’t know how much fun that was, but it was certainly informative.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sweet Sweep!

A few years ago someone I trust gave me some very good advice: “Never write about a team that you’re backing because it just invites their savage loss.” I’ve ignored that advice before and have ended up trying to rationalize some surprise flogging to a team that showed every promise of victory. The majority of those whippings have been handed to the San Antonio Spurs, after I’ve gotten too caught up in the moment and proclaimed their supremacy too soon. This has happened way too often during the NBA Finals.
Now the Fat Lady has sung in San Antonio and the Spurs have won their 4th NBA title since that ugly abbreviated 1999 season, and I feel safe enough to write about them, without the chance of calling down their doom. Of course, there’s not much left to be said, now. Now, it’s all over and the Spurs have gone far beyond the “asterisk” season.

Back when their play-off run began I was celebrating Fiesta Week (Post on that to follow). They started off low, with an April 23rd loss to the Denver Nuggets, and since I know people there and had bet on the Spurs with confidence, I was disheartened with their start. But Denver was unable to come up with another win against the Spurs, and even Carmelo Anthony, looked like he was moving in slow motion against Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. The Spurs went on to win not only their next four (4) games against Denver but their first game on May 6th against the Phoenix Suns.
That was when I started to feel that creeping doom hovering around them. I started watching the games with a sense of dark foreboding. I’d talk to people here in San Antonio who were giddy but not willing to commit to the idea that the Spurs could pull it off again. “They can do it,” they’d say. “But I’m not going to start getting crazy about it until they get into the Finals.” Quite so.
Truth is, Spurs fans have had their hearts broken too many times in too few years at that stage of the game. From Fishers impossible shot in 2004 (that not only cost us the game but the Will to go on), to the gut-wrenching game 7 loss in 2006, that went to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime because of a terribly timed foul that Manu Ginobili handed Dirk Nowitski.
That was a cruel defeat to Dallas. The Spurs were working on a repeat title win, had a franchise record of 63 wins, were #1 in the West, and had played some of the best basketball ever seen. But Victory is a fickle mistress, you know? And the Spurs and the fans found out the hard way that, sometimes you eat the bear and other times the bear eats you.
This year Dallas held such a mighty record that the rest of the League was vying for second place for the most of the last third of the regular season. So, when the Spurs failed to rank second, and had to settle for third behind the Suns, well, no one got too excited about it. If we made it past Denver and the Suns, we would surely have to face Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. Nobody, not even I, wanted to imagine that savage match-up when this whole this started back during Fiesta Week or at any other time, for that matter. This year, though, it was the Dallas Mavericks turn to be eaten by the bear and it wasn’t the Spurs that did it.
In one of the weirdest matchups of the decade, the Golden State Warriors faced off against Dallas, and when it all started, everyone outside the Bay Area just kind of ignored it. But I still know some people in the Bay Area and I had to cheer for Oakland just because I lived there. Also, I had to rail against Mark Cuban and Avery Johnson, I took note of their first win over Dallas and recognized how, with the more of that fast and ready game, the Warriors stood a good chance against them. Also, it was impossible to ignore how the low ranked Warriors were being led by Coach Don Nelson, who was the former Dallas Head Coach. People here still sometimes call the Mavs “The Team that Nellie Built”, and we kind of feel that Cuban hired on former Spur Avery Johnson as Nellie’s assistant coach (promoted to head coach) with the sole purpose of taking out the Spurs. I am sure that he chafes at the thought of walking in Don Nelson’s shadow.
I had to get a taste of that action because, in my own warped mind, I was looking at it like Obi Wan Kenobi facing off with a Pre-Vader Anakin on Mustafar. Also, after watching the way that Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson handled Dallas, I got one of those feelings about that series, a weird, tingly itch that someone who likes sports needs to learn to heed.
The Warriors ended Dallas’s dream of a NBA Title in six (6) games, and the look on Mark Cubans face was priceless. To hell with him, we wanted to start an I-35 rivalry with the Spurs, and the team did their best to work up to that, but payback is a real bitch and when you got it coming to you, not even the best record and a flawless performance can stop the hammer when it falls.
Golden State advanced to take on the Utah Jazz and lost it 4-1, and the Spurs went up against the Phoenix Suns.
The Jazz were strong all season, and took out the Houston Rockets, 4-3 in the series. Utah was relieved to have a break from another Texas team and went out to take Golden State in five (5) games.
For San Antonio, the Suns were the hardest team to overcome in the post-season. Coach Mike D’Antoni is a very sharp and shrewd opponent and Steve Nash is the Tim Duncan West of the Pecos. But the Suns are not a one horse team, hell no! Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa, Shawn Marion, Boris Diaw, and Raja Bell, those guys were a beauty to watch on the court against the Spurs. The series was bloody and intense, with an injury, a nasty flagrant foul and one bad blowout. In the end the Spurs took it 4-2 in Phoenix.
The Jazz came on strong but the Spurs were coming off back to back wins to close out Phoenix and blew past Utah for two games before they were able to match up. The Jazz were able to sock one 83-109 loss to the Spurs but the series closed out 4-1, sending San Antonio to their 4th NBA Final since 1999.
That was when people here started to get a little crazy. With our position secured it was finally time to relax and push the team to the Final Victory of the season, the Big Win. The East was ready and when the dust settled it was the Cleveland Cavaliers left standing. In the slow and jabber filled days before the first game the buzz was all about their LeBron James, “King James”.
For years yammering loudmouths have been trying to compare this kid with Michael Jordon. I could understand it back in 03, or even 05, but this was the Big Time and was neither the time nor the place for that kind of insipid and sloppy talk. We suffered all the talk about how the Spurs are “boring” (applied to Tim Duncan and our whole Fundamentals style game), or that we play “dirty” (A term applied derisively to both Bruce Bowen and Robert Horry).
The truth is that, game-for-game, the San Antonio Spurs have become one of the best teams in the NBA. Coach Gregg Popovitch has applied the strict and pure style of basketball he honed at the Air Force Academy, and added to it the sense of Family and camaraderie that makes champions shine. No one can deny that the Spurs’ have the numbers and the record of Champs but what the Spurs do not have is a moral miscreant player under investigation for a felony, which, I believe, must be a requisite to be a “superstar” team, in far off places like L.A. and Detroit, and maybe Cleveland.
I think it exposes a weird sort of prejudicial bias in America against San Antonio. People don’t have that reaction to the Mavs or the Rockets but, as we have proven time and again, the Spurs are simply a better team. We are so good, in fact, that we have never lost a Finals series…The Spurs have won the championship every time they’ve been in it.
The past few days have been a flurry of action and excitement. I needed to find a way to cash in on, what everyone knew, was a losing battle for the Cavs. After the Spurs took back to back wins in San Antonio no one was taking the LeBeron talk seriously anymore. It wasn’t just that he didn’t score well, he didn’t score at all until the 3rd quarter of one game. He missed rebounds, boggled passes, and embarrassed himself on the court in front of the world time and time again. It was bad enough that we had to watch LeBron stink up the court but were were forced to watch LeBron in the station breaks and in Nike commercials, in Sprite commercial, and in promos. When compared with his actual performance during the game it all seemed like some sad, sick joke, and helped expose the kid for the overgrown and overrated man-child product of a media driven sensationalist cash culture that can glorify the “American Idol Winner” of the NBA, and deride a solid player like Duncan, who is so focused and dedicated, that he was jokingly referred to as “Spock” by the Duke student section when he was at Wake Forrest.
When the Spurs won game 3 on Tuesday my mother took out her broom. The entire city was at last confident and content that our Spurs were not only going to beat the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena, but that we were going to humiliate them on world wide television, win it in a sweep, and then bring the trophy home for one huge party. I bet against the Spurs in game 3. It was a fit of manic idiocy that had to be done. I was winning too many of my bets and people stopped wanting to play with me, so I had to take one in the side, and lose on what was one of the lousiest games of basketball I’ve seen in ages. The Spurs played sloppily, failing to convert on turnovers, missed easy layups, and futzed around the court way too much. The Cavs buckled under the pressure of a powerful Spurs defense, and LeBron, while active and out there, was held back by Bowen, Horry, Duncan, and anyone else who could get into position, if needed. The Spurs didn’t win it because they were better, they won it because the Cavs were worse.
Last nights game 4 was beautiful because we won. We swept and we won and, in the end, that is all that matters. The Cavs looked strong for most of the game but after the half the Spurs mustered a weak rally, relied on basics, took advantage of gaping holes in the Defense, and just outplayed Cleveland. The thought that they would lose this game never entered my mind, not even when it looked like it could go into overtime, or when it came down to free throws, fouls, and possessions. Tony Parker continued to outshine LeBron, his post-season experience helping him overcome the faltering Cavaliers defense. (Parker picked up the Finals MVP trophy, and he earned every inch of it.) Manu and Fabricio Oberto worked their magic from the inside and the out, helping the spurs over come a ping-ponging deficit. Francisco Elson and Michael Finley turned up the heat in and out of the paint, and Brent Barry and Jacques Vaughan kept the Cavs guessing and running in circle. As the clocked ticked down, it was painfully clear to the Cleveland bench, fans, and the world that this was not to be their year.
There was no confetti for the Spurs in Cleveland. There were random boos and jeers from the crowd as David Stern presented the Spurs organization with their trophies. However, there was joy there and in the locker room, and there was celebration on the streets of San Antonio. The players celebrated with each other, and with family, friends and loved ones. In bars, homes, and out on the streets of downtown, there was merriment, sound, and passion.
The Spurs arrive back in town around 2 pm. The city is running shuttles to the Airport to greet them for a party. On Sunday there is going to be a parade on the river to show off the trophies, then, in the evening, a celebration at the Alamodome.

I’ve been up all night after the celebrations and revelry. Today I will collect on my bets watch their arrival on TV, and tonight, party with the rest of the city. The Spurs have won 4 titles in 9 years, and I’m sure that people will want to start using the word “dynasty”. Probably the same morons that talk about how boringly good the Spurs are, or how great Parker has become, or how LeBron will be better someday. You won’t really hear people here talking too much about records, or streaks, dynasties. Not yet at least. I, for one, am not taking any chances. Why Doom them now? I and the city will probably just enjoy this Sweet Sweep Victory, and another title, until sometime late next season…Then come see me about the odds on a Repeat.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Call me when the Star Rush in on…

Wally Schirra Dies at age 84


What can I say? I wasn't there but, I appreciate the sacrifice and duty he performed for the United States of America as well as NASA. This astronaut did the kind of things movies are made of… he was featured as one of the astronauts in The Right Stuff. Wally was more than a character though even when he was playing practical jokes. Wally is The Right Stuff when it comes to thinking about what citizens of the United States of America are all about. We go all out and prove that we can be the best in the world at something if we just put our heart and minds into whatever it is our hearts pursue.

Being an astronaut has to be more than landlubbing Earthlings could ever imagine. Seeing outer space with your own two eyes and realizing in one moment how big the universe really is just has to almost be overwhelming. My thanks to all of the astronauts from any country for making the sacrifice of reaching for the stars. I know it is an attempt to get humankind off of this mud ball at some point in time. Call me when the "Star Rush" is on. I will clean garbage cans on another planet just to see a different sunrise and sunset than the one on Earth.


Till later my spacey friends…

Monday, April 30, 2007

Email from a friend


My flight was being served by an obviously gay flight attendant, who seemed to put everyone in a good mood as he served us food and drinks. As the plane prepared to descend, he came swishing down the aisle and told us that Captain Marvey has asked me to announce that he'll be landing the big scary plane shortly, so lovely people, if you could just put your trays up, that would be super. On his trip back up the aisle, he noticed this well-dressed and rather Arabic looking woman hadn't moved a muscle. Perhaps you didn't hear me over those big brute engines but I asked you to raise your trazy-poo, so the main man can pitty-pat us on the ground. She calmly turned her head and said, "In my country, I am called a Princess and I take orders from no one", to which (I swear) the flight attendant replied, without missing a beat, "Well, sweet- cheeks, in my country I'm called a Queen, so I outrank you. Tray-up, Bitch."
The Fiesta post will take a few days to organize...Been a helluva ride. More later.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ain’t Gonna Rest-a Until After Fiesta

At 9:00 am today, the 116th Fiesta San Antonio officially began. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about Fiesta Week lasts 10 days, draws a crowd of 3.5 million, and has an estimated economic impact of nearly $260 million. (Info from the Fiesta San Antonio website.) It is a city-wide festival in remembrance of the Battles, victories, and sacrifices of the Texas Revolution. It brings together the best of Texas Cultures, and celebrates the unique and magnificent heritage that is San Antonio.
Anyone who has seen any of my Fiesta posts from the past couple of years knows that Fiesta time is my favorite time of year. It‘s like Christmas, New Years, The Fourth of July, Spring Break, and Mardi Gras all rolled into one. It is one serious party and, as such, requires serious preparation.
For the last few days I have been getting ready. This is not one night of debauchery or a few days of decadence. Fiesta is 10 days of progressive partying. It is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Here then, for your edification and amusement, is my Fiesta checklist:
A) Comfortable Shoes: I do a lot of walking during Fiesta because, even if I choose only one event for the day, it’s probably going to be spread out over a very large area. While the dilettante may wear a pair of new cowboy boots or some fashionable shoes, the Fiesta Pro knows that the party neither starts nor stops in one place. Comfort is rule one.
B) Hat: The Fiesta Hat is more than just to keep the Texas sun out of your face, it shows that you are aware of the past that Fiesta commemorates and that you appreciate the legacy that Fiesta has become. Men and ladies wore hats until the early 1960’s. It wasn’t just fashionable; your hat was part of your status. Consider your Fiesta Hat a similar symbol. It’s going to reflect your experience, your affability, and your levity. Mine is a slouchy Mexican Sahuayo palm straw hat, not too fancy, and distinctive enough.
C) Beads: Fiesta beads are very much like Mardi Gras beads. They come in every kind imaginable. Perhaps Fiesta beads use different iconography, (the Chili Pepper, armadillos. the Texas Flag, Beer…) but in essence they serve the same purpose: to show ones likes, turn-ons, interests, and attitudes. This can play an important part in meeting people during Fiesta because it gives you something visual to go on while drunk. The experienced Fiesta vet knows that a few small, shiny, boring, Mardi Gras throw beads in your collection can add a little flair, and they also allow you to give a few away. Also, it is important to remember that one should only wear what one can carry. The beads I wear I have had to hunt down. I wear one with Texas Flags, one with Confederate Jacks, a Jolly Roger one, and a functional plastic shot glass on a string with a removable flashing lime wedge inside it. Flashing body parts and other such outrageous behavior to earn beads is neither necessary nor encouraged. Just ask a drunk for some of their beads, or better yet, start a collection of your own, there are vendors all over the streets, and buy the ones that strike you.
D) Medals: I know there must be an interesting story as to why some people wear medals during Fiesta. I know that, much like other Spring Time Carnivals, we elect a collection of mock royalty and parade them through the streets (and along the river) to the amusement and delight of the drunken masses. I know that this is different that other Spring Time festivals in other places because this one is also the celebration the (no other word for it) Fiesta that was had by all when Texas won our unlikely Independence from the tyrannical rule of the magnificent Mexican Generalissimo Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón (Santa Ana). These days, the medals take on a much less martial meaning. Companies, corporations, and the City hand them out to employees and customers. Pretty much anyone can make a Fiesta Medal. It’s not so much what’s on the medal as how many you have, and how you wear them. In other words, go ahead and award one to yourself, it’s Fiesta!
E) Collapsible/Disposable ice chest: Above all, the one thing that makes a good Fiesta is drinking. During Fiesta drinking, being moderately drunk, carrying beer. It meana that, if you are so inclined, you can wear a 70 oz. Camelback hydration system on their backs full of Daiquiri, if you so choose. (True story.) It means you can sit on the bed of a Dodge pick up, right downtown, and have a drunken conversation with an on duty San Antonio police officer. It’s always good to carry your own beer because you can offer one to the officer and, chances are, he'll take it for after shift. Most places downtown allow you to take your own ice chest, a very few do not. Most places forbid glass containers, some prefer you do not drink out of a beer container, (can or plastic bottle). In some cases, though, plastic cups are available. (I once recieved a plastic glass from another on dudty SAPD officer, in front of the San Fernando Cathedral, because I had a can of cold beer in a Koozie...Again, true story.) There is no special Fiesta time drink. Beer is what most people drink, carry, share, spill, throw, drop, buy, and sell, during Fiesta, and most people like to take a few cans, at least, of their own cold beer with them. Oh, sure there is such a thing as a Fiesta Margarita but those are usually watered down, frozen concoctions, that are more sugar water than tequila, and are served in novelty glasses and they are roundly regarded as a rookie mistake. No, the Fiesta vet knows that beer is always the way to go. No, the Fiesta vet knows that beer is always the way to go. Some carry large pull behind icechest, usually parade going families who are lugging soft drinks, a picnic lunch, and of course beer. Others carry one-time use styrofoam things they pick up when they bought the case of beer and the bag of ice. I like to tote my beer around in a little collapsible Igloo container. It holds exactly what I need, has room for a snack, and when it’s empty, you just throw out the watery ice, and it'll fit into a backpack or, if you roll it up, into a large pocket or in a strap.
F) Toilet paper/hand sanitizer: As every drinker knows, we don’t so much buy our buzz as rent it. Try as one might to delay it, one must, sooner or later, answer natures call. The City of San Antonio provides an abundance of Port-O-Johns for this very reason. They very word, Port-O-John, though, is enough to strike terror into the heart of the Amateur Fiesta go-er. But take heart. The ladies police their own stalls for a modicum of cleanliness, and the men, well, we make do when we must and allow for bad aim as we don’t ever sit down in one. In every case, no matter the condition of the outhouse or the pressure on the bladder, these two items will always come in handy.
Now, I shall go kick off my Fiesta Week. I’m heading to a downtown Cantina to drink some beer and listen to some music. I will keep notes and take pictures this week, and try to check in when I can. It is important to remember that such things as work, school, or relationships might try to get in the way of a True Fiesta Experience. I try not to let them. One can always find another job, there’s always next semester, and if you’re significant other doesn’t Fiesta with you then they are against Fiesta altogether. Que Viva Fiesta!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Start of a Potentially Savage Spring

Irate Iran Rudely Retaliates – Kidnaps 15
When I first heard about the ambush and capture of the 15 Royal Navy crewmembers by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the Ras al-Beesha area of the contested Shatt al-Arab/ Arvandrud, I wasn’t too surprised. Iran did this before on June 21, 2004. Those guys were released in a matter of days, after being paraded around on television, and threatened with prosecution. Then, there’s the whole timing of the incident…The day before the United Nations Security Council was going to vote on increasing sanctions against Iran for noncompliance with UNSC Resolution 1737. It’s curious, certainly, but not entirely suspicious. However, the IRGC has had a burr in their bridle for some time over the arrests of five Iranian (alleged) Consulate members in Iraq and the capture of members of the IRGC’s elite al-Quds Force in Iran.

The Sunday Times last week quoted Reza Falker, a writer for the Revolutionary Guards’ weekly newspaper, as saying: “We’ve got the ability to capture a nice bunch of blue-eyed blond-haired officers and feed them to our fighting cocks.”

There has also been speculation that, since the IRGC take orders from the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it was he that he gave the order to have the unfortunate crews taken into custody. Add to this mix that the Commander of the IRGC, Yahya Rahim Safavi has been financially hit by the restrictions put in place by UNSC Resolutions, the most recent one, Resolution 1746 , just passed on Saturday, and will probably further hurt his pocket. Well, then, that, my Freaky Darlings, does starts to sound suspicious. It starts to sound downright premeditated.
Now, there’s bound to be a ton of diplomatic wrangling, in the next few days. The Iranians say the sailors were in territorial waters, the UK says they were operating in Iraqi waters. It’s being spun by the Iranians as being a deliberate act of aggression; the UK is calling it a misunderstanding. Rumors of espionage, confessions, indictments, trials, and the death penalty have been swirling around all night on the various news sources, but most of the correspondents reporting from Iran are saying that trials and consequences have not been discussed by the people in power, and that they are, for now at least, only rumors.

UN Nixes Nukes, Iran Continues Contumacious Course
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose stronger sanctions against Iran. This time the 15-0 vote passed Resolution 1746 (see above). In the past, Russia and China have seemed unwilling to pressure Iran into abandoning the path to a nuclear future. I always felt their reluctance had to do with a 2004 Chinese “Mega-Gas Deal” and a 2005 Russian Nuke deal, with Iran. However, last month Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing openly urged Iran to resume negotiations and better their relations with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and then, just last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov encouraged Iran to halt Uranium enrichment.
I think it makes a statement of international unity. It tells me that I’m not the only one paranoid enough to believe that Iran just might really be out to get us, or worse, us and others. And, don’t let them fool you. Russia and China don’t want to diffuse the situation. It would be more profitable if that War everyone keeps talking about kicks into High-Gear. Who do you think is equipping Iran and contributing to their military growth?
In any case Iran has pledged to continue their nuclear ambitions. Tehran has openly rebuffed the UN and has given every indication of ignoring pleas from the global community. The capture of those 15 Brits suddenly looks like a brilliant Iranian diversion; instead of having to face a depressing UN resolution, the Iranian people are being told that the British have encroached on their territory, were perhaps spying, were captured by their gallant guard, and were made to confess. I doubt they’ll try and trade them for some of their captured IRGC officers. That would be a mistake, would paint them in the same dark light as those hostage taking terrorists we see in Iraq. (And they’re not meddling, in Iraq, are they?) I think it’s more likely that they will make the world sweat it out for a few days, like last time. They will push the Brits, give them the run-around, and then release the 15 captives in a grand and magnanimous show of diplomacy, saying that they meant to release them all along.

Prince Harry Whoops It Up-Tipples, Topples
Prince Harry, who is shipping out to fight in Iraq at the end of May with his regiment, the Blues and Royal, had a wild night at his favorite London nightspot, Boujis. He downed drinks with the honeys, enjoying what appears to be the savage end of a 48 hour bender. The issue comes in as he was leaving, he allegedly attacked a photographer, and, once he was under control, he had an embarrassing photograph taken of him as he stumbled “spectacularly into the gutter” as one story put it.
I really don’t see what the issue is all about, here. I mean imagine, he’s a member of the Royal Family, is shipping out to do his duty in Iraq, has just graduated and is on his way over. A couple of days ago he turns on the television and sees that 15 of his people were snatched away, without a shot fired. I mean I’d be thinking “Great Googa-Mooga, that could be ME!”
Can anyone really blame him for going on this kind of binge? He’s a 22 year old, green, soon to see combat, officer, celebrating for what may very well be for the last time. Hell, I’m surprised all he did was chase around a paparazzo. With the way those vultures treated his mother, and the training he’s received, he could very well have killed the man. So what does it matter if he got drunk and fell down (Pushed, he was pushed!) it’s fine with me. At least I’ll know, the next time that gravity conspires to use my inebriation to bring me low, that I am, at least in that respect, in very good company.
A more recent story from Reuters seems to contradict an earlier report from other news agencies.
“An Iraqi fisherman who said he saw Iranian forces detain them, said on Saturday
the ship British forces were searching was anchored in Iraqi waters.”
So, now the eye-witnesses have changed their tune. The plot thickens. No one seems particularly distraught over these missing crewmembers. Perhaps I’ve grown jaded after so many prime time news shows, or remember the first batch of hostages taken when our forces first got to Iraq. Or maybe the Brits are just way more respectful and reserved about these things. I mean, if they’d been American sailors/marines I’d expect to get interviews with the families and loved ones of the missing on the evening news, and on CNN. Televised Images of courageous parents, stoically saying how their child will do their duty, perhaps one anti-war wife who’d launch into an impassioned tirade in front of a bouquet of cameras, the single mother who breaks into tears, and implores Jesus, the Almighty and brings audiences to tears when she answers “Say your prayers, baby, don’t lose faith,” when the concerned female anchor asks “if you could give them a message, what would it be”.
One story suggested that:
“Iran would probably not have seized American soldiers, even on the pretext that
they had strayed into its territorial waters.”

I’ve got to agree with that. Sure, insurgents have kidnapped some fat, straggling contractor or the odd grunt in Iraq, but I think Iran was safer in choosing a UK target. Certainly not because they were an easier target, from what I understand they are fierce fighters and noble allies. No, it’s because here, in America-Land, we’d have intercepted that football and ran, ran, ran to the end zone. Give us a crisis like that and we’ll give you one hell of a celebrity charity spectacle. Media circus? More like a Media Fiesta! Press conferences on every channel, every hour on the hour, the stations can dig up old military guys as paid analysts and talk for hours about things that may or may not happen, the sound bytes and the film clips…Now, That’s entertainment!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Winter is almost gone… save me a snow doughnut though

Snow doughnuts...

Attack of the Snow Rollers

They look great. I wonder if they would make great snow cream.

Not my usual type of post, but I just couldn't resist. I hope all you freaks enjoy this last blast of winter. Bikini tops and shirtless overweight men like myself are coming to grace your presence soon.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Academy Award Ceremony

The intro was poignant, a montage of excerpts from interviews with the nominees. That kind of let me know that the people I want to win aren't going to win…Again. (Sorry, Mr. O'Toole, and Mr. Eastwood…I was rooting for you guys!) Ellen was cute and chatty but she was no Whoopi, Billy or Bob. (Then again, who is?)

Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman gave out the award for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration to - Eugenio Caballero, Pilar Revuelta for "Pans Labyrinth". Then a commercial, and then Will Farrell sang a song with Jack Black and John C. Reilly ("A Comedian at the Oscars"). And then they handed out the Award for Achievement in Make up to - David Martí, Montse Ribé , again for "Pans Labyrinth".

Then a pair of kids (Abigail Breslin and Jayden Smith) handed out the awards for Best Animated Short to - Torill Kove for "The Danish Poet" and Best live Action Short to Ari Sandel for "West Bank Story". (Finally, I got one right…It's "a musical comedy set in the West Bank about conflict between Palestinians and Jews set between two falafel stands".)

Steve Carell and Greg Kinear handed out the Oscar for sound editing to Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman for "Letters from Iwo Jima".

Jessica Beal and a little Scotsman handed out the award for Best Sound Mixing to Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer, Willie D. Burton "Dream Girls". That's about all they did. (First win for "Dream Girls" of the night.)

Finally, we get to one of the big ones. Rachel Wiez handed out the award for Best Supporting Actor to Alan Arkin for "Little Miss Sunshine". (Eddie Murphy, however, was the coolest looking nominee in the split-screen and, maybe, he should have won an award just for that feat alone.)

The amazing dance group Pilobolus worked their magic to interpret the night, creating the Oscar statue early on, and then the penguins from "Happy Feet". It is performances like those that add wonder and magic to this award ceremony. Then James Taylor and Randy Newman performed the song "Our Town" from "Cars". That was followed right away by Melissa Etheridge who sang her song "I need to wake up" from "An Inconvenient Truth".

In what started as a "What the hell?" moment, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore had a mutual Green Moment when they announced that the Oscars, this year, were Eco-Friendly. Leo asked again and again if the Vice-President maybe had something he'd like to announce. Finally, at the end, a reluctant looking Gore reached into his jacket pocket, pulled out a speech, and began "My fellow Americans, I'd like to take this moment to formally announce my-" Suddenly, the orchestra started up and played him off stage. Who says the old robot doesn't have a great sense of humor. He rocked on SNL and he could probably rock the vote if he were to seriously run again.

After the break Cameron Diaz awarded the Oscar for best animated feature to George Miller for "Happy Feet". Then Ben Affleck chewed up the stage as he introduced a montage about screenwriters and their trade and art. The montage was wonderful, Affleck looked bored.

The incomparable Helen Mirren and Tom Hanks gave the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. While the clips from the movie were playing the presenters read the scene from the original material, adding a new dimension to the work that Screenwriters do when they adapt a previous work. I love the format, and they should keep it for next year. The Oscar went to William Monahan for the "Departed" which was based on the Japanese film "Wu jian dao" by Siu Fai Mak and Felix Chong.

Emily Blunt and the always cute Anne Hathaway presented the award for best Costume Design. This time they had models actually present the costumes for each movie on the stage, which certainly adds more life and detail to each of these fantastic designs. The Oscar went to Melena Cononero for "Marie Antoinette".

A sedate (or sedated) Tom Cruise gave the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to more than deserving Sherry Lansing, who recently left her 30 year career in show business to devote her time to her non-profit organizations .

Ellen had Steven Spielberg take a picture of her and Clint Eastwood. (Eastwood called her "Darlin"…you can take the man outta the cowboy but you cannot take the cowboy outta the man.) It was cute. Earlier she gave Marty Scorsese a screenplay to look at.

Gwyneth Paltrow (she named her kid "Apple"?) presented the award for Achievement in Cinematography to Guillermo Navarro for "Pans Labyrinth", followed by another great moment from Pilobolus, who recreated a scene from "Little Miss Sunshine".

After the break Naomi Watts and Robert Downey, Jr. presented the award for Achievement in Special Effects to John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charles Gibson, Allen Hall for "Pirates of the Caribbean"

Then Catherine Deneuve and Ken Watanabe presented a montage of foreign films, and then Clive Owen and Cate Blanchette presented the award for Best Foreign Language Film to: "Das Leben der Anderen" (The Lies of Others; Germany). It was a huge upset for Mexico and Pans Labyrinth.

And then Pilobolus did a fantastic "Snakes on a Plane" scene. The always charming and ever more handsome George Clooney presented the award for Best Supporting Actress to Jennifer Hudson for "Dream Girls". In my opinion she has given the most sincere and heartfelt acceptance speech of the evening thus far.

Eva Green and Gael García Bernal presented the award for Best Documentary Short Subjects to Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon for "The Blood of Yingzhou District". Jerry Sienfeld came out and told a few jokes before presenting Best Documentary Feature to "An Inconvenient Truth". You know, why they don't tap Jerry to host the next one? In his 45 second segment he was funnier than Ellen has been all night.

They balanced out the green talk with a real Man. Clint Eastwood strode out to the immortal Ennio Morricone score from "The Good the Bad and the ugly" and falteringly introduced Ennio Moriccone for the Life Time Achievement Award. I own more soundtracks by this man than by any other. More than James Horner, Basil Polodouris, Michael Kamen…His work always seems to perfectly capture the essence of the film he's scoring. Celine Dion took a break from Vegas and took to the stage to perform the world premier of Ennio Morricones "I knew I Loved You". Then, an emotional Ennio Morricone took the stage, delivered a moving speech in Italian, (Translated by Mr. Eastwood himself) and received a much deserved grand ovation.

After the commercial Penelope Cruz and Hugh Jackman gave the award for best Original Score to Gustavo Santaolalla for "Babel".

Toby McGuire and Kirstin Dunst came out and handed out the award for Best Original Screenplay to Michael Arndt for "Little Miss Sunshine". This award was also presented with the presenter's voice-over reading the scene from the screenplay the way it was written. I must say that I really do like the way these writing awards are being handed out. It gives people a sense of what exactly this award is all about.

Another great dance sequence by Pilopolus for the "Devil Wears Prada". They made a high heeled show with a pitchfork at the bottom of the heel.

Jennifer Lopez came out in a terrible dress to introduce the three nominated songs, sung by Academy Award Winner Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce Knowles, from "Dream Girls". It's great seeing a large woman looking good on stage. Beyonce looks too sharp edged, like you'd cut yourself if you touch her, but Jennifer Hudson had a real and honest look and sound. Her voice sounded clear and strong, without the unnecessary shrieking that has become so common in music today but it seemed to represent the film well.

John Travolta and Queen Latifah graced the stage and presented the award for Best Original Song to Melissa Etheridge for "I Need to Wake Up", from "An Inconvenient Truth". She thanked Al Gore. Travolta slipped into his "Bobby Long" accent to say that he "Luvs a full-figured woman who can get up on stage and belt out a Broadway tune…But enough about me".

A not so fresh looking Will Smith got up after the break to introduce a short film by Michael Mann that took a look at "America:Through It's movies". It was an exceptionally well made look at all the different cultures, ethnicities and influences that make America great.

A beautiful Kate Winslett presented the award for Best Film Editing to Thelma Schoonmaker for "The Departed". She credits Martin Scorsese for her career, because they met at NYU and they go back a long way.

Jodi Foster came out afterward and did the In Memorium, which included Glenn Ford, Bruno Kirby, Alida Valli, Betty Comden, Jane Wyatt, Don Knotts, Red Buttons, Darren McGavin, Joe barbera, Tamera Dobson, Gretchen Rau, June Allyson, Gordon Parks, Philippe Noriette, Maureen Stapleton, Jack Wild, Vincent Sherman, James Doohan, Shohei, Carlo Ponti, Peter Boyle, James Glennon, Sidney Sheldon, Jack Palence, Mako, Jack Warden, Basil Poladouris, Henry Bumstead, and Robert Altman.

A set change and costume change for Ellen, brought us to the Big Moments in the show. She introduced Phillip Seymour Hoffman to present Best Actress Award to Helen Mirren. (YES!! Got another one! Remember that she also won top awards for playing Elizabeth I on an HBO mini-Series) It's no wonder she stood up there, held up her Oscar statue, and said "Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…The Queen!".

After that, Pilopolus made a shadow gun for "The Departed". We're in the home stretch now, with only the big ones left.

While vacuuming, (I told you, she really wasn't that funny...)Ellen found someones rolling papers, threw them to the band, and received a thumbs up from the pit.

Then, Reese Witherspoone came out and presented the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role to (crosses his fingers for Peter O'Toole…)…Forest Whitaker. DENIED!!! Although I'm glad that Forest Whitaker received the award, and he deserved it, I still feel that Sir Peter O'Toole needed it.

And then the legends hit the stage. "The Original Three Amigos": Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, and gave their old friend Martin Scorsese the Oscar for Best Director. That moment, that scene, when everyone in the house, was on their feet, and to see that powerhouse of directorial power on that stage was the highlight of the night. Martin Scorsese deserved it and when they walked off that stage it was like watching the Wild Bunch of Hollywood on their way into Agua Verde. Cool Stuff.

A mean, gruff, bald Jack Nicholson came out with Diane Keaton and presented the Oscar for best picture to "The Departed". Scorsese called that film "The First movie I've ever done with a plot."

And that was the show. Commentary (maybe) to follow.

Oscar Time

As I am preparing for my Oscar party I barely have time to get a few predictions posted. Enjoy the telecast…It's about to start…

Best Supporting Actress:

Should Win: Abigail Breslin

Best Supporting Actor:

Should Win: Eddie Murphy

Will Win: Alan Arkin

Will Win: Abigail Breslin

Best Animated:

Should Win: Monster House

Will Win: Happy Feet

Best Foreign Film:

Should Win: Pan's Labyrinth

Will Win: Days of Glory

Best Actor:

Should Win: Peter O'toole

Will Win: Forest Whitiker

Best Actress:

Should Win: Helen Mirrin

Will Win: Helen Mirrin

Best Director:

Should Win: Clint Eastwood

Will Win: Martin Scorse

Best Picture:

Should Win: Letters From Iwo Jima

Will Win: Little Miss Sunshine

Monday, February 19, 2007

It’s a Science, Stupid!

I had already started to prepare a nice little entry about the NBA All Star Game, when I happened upon this response to a post in Thoth Web. See, a couple of days ago someone called "thepodule" mentioned John Anthony West over in Thoth Web and I responded with a little anecdote.

thepodule said:

Hi all,

I thought you might like to know that John Anthony West's PhoenixFire podcast is available on iTunes now, as well as his PhoenixFire blog here:

He goes into the complete background of the origins of his work with Robert Schock, and the origins of the water weathering theory of the Sphinx.

All the best


So I say:

Side note:

I remember in a class I took with Kent Weeks,
back in the early 90's (before he spent all his time on KV5) someone asked him
about John Anthony West. Without missing a beat, Doc Weeks said "John Anthony
West? What can I say? He's not a real Egyptologist...His methods are sloppy, his
ideas are ludicrous, and his mother dresses him funny."

We all had a great laugh about that.

I wasn't trying to start anything, just, really, trying to get the same kind of laugh which we all shared, at the time. Well, among the usual flutter of vapid responses this little slice of fried gold came up, purporting to be from the man himself, John Anthony West:
Jaw responds

>Without missing a beat, Doc Weeks said "John Anthony West? What can I say? He's not a real Egyptologist..<

Correct; I am not a 'real' Egyptologist. That is why I know something.

The 'real' Egyptologists (with a very few exceptions, Weeks not among them) spend their time arguing over how many asps killed Cleopatra* or, like Doc Weeks, scrabble around on their knees (apposite position) in the dust of yet another meaningless tomb, sifting rubble and eventually publishing a meaningless book or meaningless paper of zero interest or significance to anyone. **

*Serpent in the Sky, p.9, margin note.

** cf., a list of abstracts of any Egyptological conference anywhere in the world.

> His methods are sloppy, his ideas are ludicrous,

Without examples or citations it is impossible to address the charge of sloppiness, but no examples are needed to address 'ludicrous'.

If Doc Weeks is talking about my work on the water-weathering of the Sphinx and the need to drastically redate it, it should be enough to say that at two separate Annual Meetings of the Geological Society of America (1991, 2000) the overwhelming, indeed, near unanimous reaction of hundreds of professional geologists was that our evidence looked very convincing indeed. The word 'sloppy' was never used, nor did anyone shout 'ludicrous'.

I should also like to point out here, or re-point out (as George Bernard Shaw liked to say, 'I always quote myself. It adds spice to the conversation.') the argument about the Sphinx is based upon weathering patterns in rock, plain and simple, and when it comes to opinions about weathering patterns in rocks, an Egyptologist's opinion is no better than a proctologist's.

If 'ludicrous' refers to the 'Symbolist' interpretation of Egypt that I champion, as developed by R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, well, that is another matter; one not to be solved by 'hard' science as such but rather supported by a corpus of meticulously accumulated and detailed factual documentation.

Thereafter, what is required is an ability to accurately interpret those facts. This is where 'real' Egyptologists like Doc Weeks find themselves in uncharted and, for them, scary territory. Their reaction to this work is, however, perfectly understandable.

The Tao Te Ching (google it up, Adrastus) summarizes the situation well.

'When the best student is taught the Tao, he practices it assiduously.

When the average student is taught the Tao it seems to him there one moment and gone the next.

When the worst student is taught the Tao, he laughs out loud; if he did not laugh, it would be unworthy of being the Tao.'

Or put another way; it is futile to talk moonbeams to the blind, or music to the deaf, and dangerous to talk sex to eunuchs, they just get angry, sometimes violent.

BTW, I note that the career of the legendary Adrastus was marked chiefly by a succession of failures; certainly a well-chosen pseudonym.

>'…and his mother dresses him funny ' We all had a great laugh about that'

I trust you're still laughing.

John Anthony West

Now, I don't care if it was really him, or not, it just made my day. I shelved the rather predictable All Star game (West took it 153 to 132. Kobe Bryant got MVP for his 31 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. Get back to me next week when I start actually playing for money on these games,) and went right to work crafting a response. This is the rough draft. Please leave any suggestions in the comments section. It is my intention to post it to him before sunset today :

"Tourists…The 11th Plague of Egypt"

-Uttered by the Expat in Egypt on several occasions

Yes, I'm laughing even more heartily, now, indeed. You see, I've heard Dr. Weeks lecture, Mr. West. I've taken several courses with him at the AUC and I continue to delight for his success with the KV5 excavation. His ideas are sound, his methods are above reproach, and his results speak for themselves. He is a real Egyptologist and a man of science. I have never heard him, or anyone else for that matter, say that they take the Cleopatra-asp-myth seriously, and I think it's unfortunate that you feel that all the hard work that serious Egyptologists are doing is meaningless.

I've got to say that I didn't realize it would be so upsetting to some people that I share a little anecdote from my freshman year at the AUC. The truth of the matter is that every year, among the serious students, we would receive a few who were compelled to ask about "re-dating the age of the Sphinx" or about the "Orion Connection". The faculty response was, at times, mixed, but it was always colorful, comedic, and clever. (You probably don't want to know what Salima Ikram had to say about it.)

I have also had the opportunity to hear you speak, Mr. West. Of course, it wasn't at the AUC, nor was it on one of your renowned "Magical Egypt Tours" which, I'm sure, delight hundreds (thousands?) of people a year. No, I've heard you speak on your "symbolist views" primarily in the various interviews you've given on television and, perhaps, in the occasional podcast. Also, I've come across your work before, and have read enough follow-up material relating to you and your work. I find your ideas, and those of Schwaller de Lubicz before you, to be novel and creative. Personally, I believe that some of them might even deserve greater scrutiny in the serious academic community. What's more, I find them to be made up of the very stuff that the masses find easily digestible and entertaining. They are, quite obviously, exceptionally marketable in that capacity.

In fact, Mr. West, may I suggest that, as a premium for your AWF club, you offer little "antiqued" scarab-shaped decoder rings, with wings that open to reveal a secret message, to your members. I know a man right off Shari'a el Muski, near El Hussein, that can manufacture them for just pennies each.

The sad truth seems to be that, for centuries, Egypt has been a lure for those who would who play at being Kharteyya , and fleece the willing for their own personal gain. Tourist hawkers still line the streets of Downtown Cairo, making a living exploiting the complex culture and ethos of the place. Under the ever-present administration there this practice has become the backbone of the industry. What's even sadder, Mr. West, is that you have made yourself a part of that.

No, you are certainly not a real Egyptologist. I think you're a huckster, today's equivalent of a sideshow barker, mixing together their patent blend of smoke and mirrors with a palatable mix of pop archeology and pseudo-history. You deliver it well, Mr. West, with all the skill and craftiness of a modern day P.T. Barnum. It's no surprise that you won an Emmy Award 6 years before Susan Lucci did. (Feel free to Google up that one.)

In short, Mr. West, you are just a tour guide; and by the look of it you are an exceptionally successful one. You lead bands of jaunty, sedate, truth-seeking Khuwaggas up the Nile and back again. They buy many pretty souvenirs at all the shops along the way, and then they go home again with their interesting and exotic stories with which to amuse family and astonish friends. For many people what you offer is enough.

They don't want the traffic and the noise and the spicy political situation there. Hell no! They don't want to deal with the rampant superfluous humanity in Cairo and all the daily travails that brings. What they want is to go to Egypt and have magical experiences from abroad. They want to purchase the mystique of Egypt and bottle it up, bring it back home with them as their very own. On the whole, what they want is fast-food-Egyptology and you, sir, are its Colonel Sanders. So, yes, the reaction that real Egyptologists might have toward your work is, indeed, perfectly understandable.

Anyway, thank you for your response. Regardless of your beliefs your thoughtful comments will certainly be taken under consideration. I have enjoyed our short correspondence. Not only have you given me another amusing anecdote to tell but it has elucidated me about you. Up until now, I was under the impression that you were an unapproachable and mystic man, with a wise mind and clever wit, but you're really rather quite sensitive, aren't you.

All My Best


Well, let me know. I'm open to ideas for the final draft.



Well, they closed the thread to further comments (most probably at his request). I sent the above missive in response to a private msg he sent me at Thoth Web (in which the tour guide called me a “windbag”). It makes me wonder how much work he’s actually doing (outside of the leisure industry) if he has enough spare time on his hands to cruise blogs and new age forums. Well, it just goes to show you, my freaky darlings, the nuttier the bird the louder it's heard .


UPDATE-8:30 pm

I recieved this information about the Lost Thread on ThothWeb from FyreSpirit:

"Mal removed it, since that horse's ass JAW broke all of our major posting rules. I was actually about to copy and paste your excellent reply into it since I can't override the admin's ability to boot you from the thread. Kudos for what you said to him, I hope your blog is widely read.


I would like to thank FyreSpirit and Kel for their supportive comments, and Mal for having the sense to put an end to that thread befor it got any worse. It's great to know that there are still some good people out there who are willing to stand up against the rising tide of ignorance and deception in our world.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I came across a post on Surfing the Apocalypse titled "TEXAS REPUBLICANS ARE ANTI-COPERNICUS...HUH" . It was mainly one long quote from a post over on The Daily Kos which was, in turn, an editorial on a different post over on Burnt Orange Report.

Basically, the posts were gleeful, anti-Texan rants about how the chairman of the Texas House Appropriations Committee, the unfortunate Warren Chisum, circulated a memo, penned by Ben Bridges, (R, Georgia House of Representatives, 10th District) that was a weird attempt to "challenge the evolution monopoly in the schools". The memo stated that:

"…the Courts have ruled that "creation science" (& "ID") has a religious agenda and….[violates] the U.S. Constitution."

And that:

"Evolution science", on the other hand, has been viewed by the Courts as "secular science" with no religious agenda…has been deemed lawful under the Constitution."

Then, like the impassioned pitch of an infomercial huckster, goes on to say:

"All of that can now be changed! Indisputable evidence-long hidden but now available to everyone-demonstrates conclusively that so-called "secular evolution science" is the Big-Bang 15-billion-year alternate "creation scenario" of the Pharisee Religion".

That's right, the Pharisee Religion. I believe that what the Hon. Ben Bridges is trying to say is that Jews are somehow responsible for spreading Biological Evolution Theory, Copernican Cosmology, Quantum physics, the whole Big Bang, and just about every other advancement in science in the last 250 years. But wait, there's more! According to this memo all of these ideas are:

"…derived concept-for-concept from Rabbinic writings in the mystic "holy book" Kabbala dating back at least two millennia. Evidence in the URLs below shows conclusively that "evolution science" has a very specific religious agenda and (as with "creation science") cannot legally be taught in taxpayer supported schools, according to the Constitution."

Aha! Why it's all been an insidious Jewish plot to bring down the good and moral Christian values of home town America. There are three links and they all lead to pages at a site called It turns out that, not only is that website extremely stupid, it is also extremely and, quite predictably, anti-Semitic. I think we can all see where they were trying to go with this one, though. They were trying to pull the old "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" on science, but once again, ignorance is its own undoing. As The Houston Chronicles "Sci Guy", Eric Berger, said about it:

"If you have a reasonable understanding of science, this is all completely ludicrous…"

So, after an immediate outcry by the Anti-Defamation League, Mr. Chisum apologized for his association with this memo, and stated that:

"I sincerely regret that I did not take the time to carefully review these materials and recognize that I may have hurt or offended some groups including some of my dear friends."

The truth is that Warren Chisum represents only about 143,979 people in District 88, which is spread out over nineteen counties in the Texas Panhandle. That's a part of Texas that I like to call "Lower Oklahoma". It is a flat and desolate place. It is isolated and remote. It is a place where the horizon and the wind can drive a person mad with the enormity and solitude of it all. It is a twisted and awful place full of cracked pots and road-kill. It is not a place known for breakthroughs in science, art, literature, or any of the Humanistic sciences or arts.

The scary part, as stated by Mr. Berger, is that:

"This would all be really funny if the Texas legislature didn't have some sway over the State Board of Education (which is subject to the Sunset Law) and if Chisum weren't a powerful Rep (he's chairman of the Appropriations Committee.) The Texas House could pass a bill ordering the board to stop teaching evolution, or perhaps Chisum could easily enough lean on some of the board's more conservative members to take action."

That's Lower Oklahoma for you.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Spurs vs Mavs: Showdown in San Antonio

With back to back losses in the New Year, Spurs fans have a good reason to worry about the Dallas Mavericks, tonight. Dallas is coming into San Antonio with momentum and a grudge.
The momentum comes off their Texas sized 12-game winning streak, and the grudge comes from Coach Avery Johnson, (Formerly the Co-Captain of the San Antonio Spurs, under David Robinson).
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has worked his hardest over the last few seasons to create the “I-35 Rivalry”, and so, when Dallas comes into town, Spurs Fans always take notice. This time, however, there’s a sense of trepidation and concern.
The stats from tell it all:
“In the last 10 meetings between San Antonio (23-10) and Dallas (25-7), the Mavericks have averaged 92.8 points, while the Spurs have averaged 91.6.”
And it seems that some fans are already demoralized:
“The Spurs,” said one of my sources, “are going to lose tonight. My money is on Dallas.” Sadly, though, it does represent the general mood here in San Antonio about tonight’s game.
“The Spurs start strong early in the season, but about this time of year, they slack off. It goes on that way until after the All-Star Game,” said another. “They’ll pick it up in March.”

Still, many fans are sure that the numbers are actually working against Dallas. With 12 consecutive wins the odds are against them. They’re due a loss, and why not at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs. Two losses in a row is not that large a setback, if they can come back tonight and cash in on the odds.
With about an hour before game time, I still think that the Silver and Black can pull it off, if they can contain Dirk Nowitzki and keep the Mav offense off their toes in the paint.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Quick Hello to NBA Bloggers

To those of you reading this on NBA Bloggers, Hello, and welcome to this blog. Now, it's not exclusively an NBA blog. In fact, it mainly covers the San Antonio Spurs, and mainly during play-off season. The rest of the site is a mix of news, wierdness, and just general wacky stuff. So, just check back every now and then and see if there's something up about the Spurs, or the NBA. Again, welcome, and enjoy.