Sunday, October 31, 2010

Puppy and the Red Ninja

It's Halloween again, and that means kids dressed up in search of sugary treats, of course. Both little ones were very excited about trick-or-treats this year and have had their costumes picked out for weeks now.

This is Little Miss as The Puppy. Note that the puppy-head is now too small and she cannot pull it on, so she looks like an adorable Asian preschooler in a furry white coverall. Puppy. 'K?
The Peep went as the Red Ninja, deadly assassin and second grader.
Here's the decorations on the porch; you'll note Zeebog the Reindeer of Death on the left there. That was a Peep idea. Not sure what the idea was, other than it was lighted and moved. Go figure. You may not be able to make out the details in the Halloween picture on the right, but, trust me, it's WAY cool; it has spaceships and tanks in it along with the usual ghosts, jack-o-lanterns, and bats. Way.
I had a terrific evening, BTW; home with the candy bowl, a cold Oktoberfest and a hot dish of savory pot roast to keep out the cold, and the Seattle-LA soccer game on the telly(which Seattle lost, to make the evening even better!). We had surprisingly few kiddos come to the door. My favorite were the three middle-school age guys in their street clothes, backpacks-for-treat-bags and skateboards. "We're dressed as sk8trs..." mumbled one when I asked him about costumes.

Anyway, the little troupe that included Puppy and the Red Ninja wandered off in search of loot and I got to relax on the couch and enjoy a delightful Halloween Night.Hope you had a wonderful Halloween. G'night.

You need a license to drive...

...but if you're the woman I encountered today you may freely reproduce without any sort of quality control whatsoever.

Mind you, I probably deserved the punishment for taking the younglings to Chuck E. Cheese on a Halloween Day Sunday.

The place was virtually empty, tho, and the littles had a great time running around playing games and getting tickets redeemable for cheap plastic crap and candy. And Mojo really needed the break.

As I was sitting with Little Miss at the "Chuckster's Extreme Club I.D." machine (which makes little plastic cards with kiddo pictures on them) I noticed a tall kid - probably 13 or 14 years old or so - coming up to the Peep who was playing on the submarine game nearby. I couldn't make out what was going on, exactly, but I could tell that Peep was giving the older boy one of his game tokens. This happened at least twice before I went over and stood behind him. The big kid continued to hang around in a rather scavenging fashion. Eventually I had to take Missy to the toilet, and when I returned most of the Boy's tokens were gone.

I was pretty chapped, but considering I had no hard evidence, and the scam was over, I didn't consider pursuing it any further. We cashed in our tickets, went to the cheap-plastic-crap counter, and were collecting our plastic snakes, vampire teeth, candy, and other oddlots when an Asian woman came up to the Chuck Worker to point out the same tall kid as having scammed HER son out of his tokens.

OK. So this wasn't just a one-off, and I thought that the least I could do was let the little rat know that his slick little game wasn't as slick as he thought. I went over to the table where he was standing with a couple of other, younger, kids and several adults.

"I just thought you should know that cheating little kids is pretty low."

The kid just looked startled. "I didn't..." he started, when a worn-looking blonde woman got up and moved between me and the kid.

"What do you mean?" she began in an angry voice.

The kid, though, was obviously still trying to talk his way out, a fine young con man in the making. "I was...I wasn't taking...I was giving them tickets..." he offered, until the woman - obviously his mother - told him to move away and sit down, and turned back to me.

"How old are you?" she asked me. I just looked at her. What the hell did that have to do with anything? I thought. "What do you mean, coming over and talking to my son like that? Did you think of finding his mother and talking to me first?"

She was right up in my face at this point, angry and accusative, clearly more incensed at my impudence at confronting her spawn than whatever dirty work he had been doing out of her sight.

I looked down at this angry woman, and half a dozen thoughts chased through my head. Why should I come talk to you, woman, first, last, or otherwise, since it seems that you had no interest in what your progeny was up to? What possible good would it have done, since it would seem to be your "upbringing" that produced this conman whose moral compass seemed to have been permanently pointed at "self-interest"? How does this come to be about me, and you, you idiot harridan, and not about your larcenous spawn? Who would even consider you any sort of resource or authority for parenting, since the failure-of-your-birth-control-device was out on his own stealing from children too young to see through him while you were sitting around bullshitting?But she was going on; "What do you think, that I should be with him every moment..?"

This was ridiculous. I had said what I needed to say to young Bernie Madoff, and the ridiculous indignity of standing in the middle of the tacky Chuck E. Cheese "party room" arguing with a woman too dim to be embarrassed by her own faulty by-product was bearing forcibly on me. As I turned and walked away, however, I had the mild gratification of hearing the Asian woman lay into the Mother of the Year about her larva's thieving progress through the Chuckster's playroom.

The real absurdity was when I returned to the cheap plastic crap counter to collect my own younglings the woman had pursued me. She leaned down and tried to make up to the Peep in motherly tones so sweet as to induce insulin shock in a diabetic.

"I'm sorry, little man..." she cooed, "...I promise I'll get your tokens back..."

I was disgusted. So this was her "discipline"? The "apology" came not from the little bastard but from mom, Diane Downs herself?

"We're done here. C'mon, kids." I shepherded my two out the door.

I drove away disgusted with the woman, her offspring, and myself, for not telling her more forcibly what a waste of good oxygen she and her kid are.

But, honestly, to what point? My brief collision makes it fairly clear that this woman has neither pride nor shame, and her kid is clearly an immature sleazeball who will not learn anything better from his parent, whose concern is only for her own self-love.

What the hell can you do with people like that?I have no idea.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ladybug Girl

I retract or reconsider absolutely nothing of the preceding post.


For all that I would no more want her near the levers of power than I would want to arm a wild monkey with a speargun, I have to say three things about the sordid tale of wankistic frat-boy canoodling that is being used to humiliate Christine O'Donnell.1. Instead of making me sneer at her or laugh at her, this story actually makes like the woman more as a person. Mind you, when I hear or read the things she says on the campaign trail I'm reminded all over again that she is a smug, entitled, ignorant jackass and can go back to hoping she gets her electoral butt whipped. But to get high-schooled, and make out with some egotistical dick, but still manage to stick to your chaste principles? You get some props for that, girl.

2. Something that jumped out of the guy's story is this little gem:
"But there were signs that she wasn't very experienced sexually. When her underwear came off, I immediately noticed that the waxing trend had completely passed her by. Obviously, that was a big turnoff, and I quickly lost interest."
Important safety tip, Romeo; real women have body hair, and body hair means pubic hair. It's feminine, it's attractive, you might even say it's one of the defining aspects of "woman" as opposed to "girl". If you find a woman who looks sexually like a woman and not a prepubescent girl "a big turnoff" I have to say that I'm surprised you aren't spending your weekends at the State Correctional Facility for Men for statutory rape. You might find that unlike your fastidious frat-boy ass your jail husband there might not have trouble with your furry man bits.

Just sayin'...

3. Why is it that a woman looks completely silly and adorable in a ladybug costume?It has to be a XX thing. A man in a similar getup would look utterly idiotic. Chris O'Donnel was Ladybug Girl before there was a Ladybug Girl. Who knew. She looks winsomely dorky in her bug suit.

I still wouldn't vote for her

Teed Off

So here's what's so frustrating.

You all know we're coming up to the midterm elections.

And you also probably know that the overarching theme for this year is the Great GOP Resurgence.And that the newest standard bearers for the elephants are the "Tea Party" candidates, from Sharron Angle in Nevada to Chris O'Donnell in Delaware (and that's just the women) the news outlets are relentlessly flogging the notion that in a week we will be introduced to the "new generation" of Republicans; just as intransigent on fighting brown furriners (whether of the Scary Islamic Variety or the Operating The Leaf Blower For Your Landscaper Illegal Beaner Variety) and handing out tax breaks to the two-yacht family, this crew is even more enthusiastic for stuff even the former conservative nutjobs considered whacko; deregulating everything in sight, eliminating entire federal agencies - the ones they don't like, of course, mostly the ones that help brown furriners and immigrants an' stuff like agreeing with Global Warming (never Good, Nice agencies like Defense and the NSA, of course).Now, mind you, I have to say that most of this stuff sounds like the same crap we were being spoonfed back in the Gingrich Days (back when the ol' serial philanderer and moral savant was still considered a Power Broker) and were told then, as now, that it was a rich, chocolaty nutrient that would make us grow up bigger and stronger.

It didn't happen then, unless you were in the land of the stratospherically wealthy, and you'll excuse me if I don't believe it's going to happen now, either.

But let's give the devils their due, OK?

Let's assume that November 6th the nation wakes up with a new conservative majority in the Congress. Let's further assume that the rest of the government, and the nation as a whole, is so intimidated by the Tea Crackery Goodness of their new conservative masters that the incoming camorra manages to enact their entire agenda. Every bit of it. Every scrap, smidget, iota, jot, and tittle.Then what?

Gone are the Departments of Interior, Education, Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, National Public Radio, and the freaking Job Corps for all I know. The wealthy are unbound - the estate tax is gone, the entire nation pays a flat tax of, say, 10%. The poor and the old...well, they're on their own. You can choose to house your aged grannie in your basement or let the old harridan forage for food in the bins behind the Safeway with the rest of the old feebs.Your library? Privatized. Your heat, power, water; you pay their "market" price for them or you get cold and dirty. Your internet? Hey, haven’t you heard – the Internet is for porn, Jack. So you sign up for Saucy Suzie’s Dirty DSL most quick smart or it's no more "Ranger Against War" for you. Get sick? Better be employed, Giocomo. You lost you job because you got sick?

Too fucking bad. Shouldn't have gotten sick, should you?

Oh, and the deficit?

Oh, yeah, that.

Well, you see, the problem is that there's one bit of government that's doin' just dandy. And that's the outfit across the Potomac over at the Five-Sided Funny Farm. Yep, there's terrarists about, bucko, lurking perhaps under your very bed, and we needs to hunt them. So there's guns for the Army, ships for the Navy, it's a regular American Patrol. Great big satellites for the spy agencies, teeny little torture cells for the interrogators...all those things cost money, you see.And since we've cut our revenue intake with all those tax cuts, see...well, you can just imagine.

So here we are; in the Dream Time of the Tea Baggers. No federal control of stuff like education, so we can go back to the good old days...ummm...well, when...okay, let's move along. How about that interstate commerce, eh? With no Department of Commerce and no DOT, it's cool, the freeways - what's let of them now that most of the bridges have collapsed - are cool, like that scene from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome where Ike Turner's ol' lady chases Mel Gibson around the desert and shit blows up an' stuff? And everything is like the Home Shopping Channel, where you can sell your Pillow Pets and buy gold and everything absolutely without any worry about annoying things like child safety or fraud investigations...

I mean, do these daft fuckers ever really THINK this stuff through? Do they ever think about, for all the irritating aspects of the Nanny State like the "Caution; Do Not Eat!" warning labels on the little white packet inside the beef jerky bag and the tipping toddler on the 5-gallon buckets, how much of modern life is actually simplified, assisted, and detoxified by the sorts of things that the government does that they don't want to pay for?

Or the simple reality that the three biggest lumps of the spending they profess to hate are Defense, Social Security, and Medicare, and that they won't give up the first and the other two are, in a lot of cases, what has helped keep the U.S. from becoming a social basket case like fucking Zaire - they help keep your mom and dad out from under bridges and from living out of shopping carts, and if they are suddenly, drastically cut the flood of poor old people into the streets and fields will make the Depression look like a rural frolic in an old Swedish movie?

Do they think about this stuff? Do they really have a plan, other than a trip back to the U.S. of 1890? Or are they just saying the stuff they say because they know it appeals and have never had to govern and really make the hard choices?

This is frustrating, too, because the "grown-up" version of these nutballs spent eight years handing the U.S. to their crony capitalist buddies, raping and fucking over every piece of it not owned by somebody named Koch or Abramoff, and getting the nation involved in land wars in fucking Asia, forchrissakes. And those were the SMART ones, not the ones whose vita lists their greatest accomplishments as "not being a witch" and getting paid for handing out Rand Paul fliers.I understand people's frustration. We handed the keys to a bunch of drunken frat boys and they pretty much slammed the national car all over the road for two terms. So we handed them back to the "reasonable" ones, the ones who said they were going to "Change" all that crap. And, mostly, it didn't change. And so now we're pissed off.

But so now our answer is to find the goofiest, most looney versions of the fucking gomers who kept bashing our national head into the concrete like a eight-year-long episode of "Jackass" and give the wheel to THEM?

What. The. Fuck?Are we really that stupid?

Driftglass - whose sandals I am not fit to unloosen - says yes we are, and, what's more, said it all six fucking years ago.

THAT's the real frustration. It's not like this is a black swan. IT's not like we don't know that these people are "...people (who) never vote for good government; they don't even believe in government. They're spoiled little toddlers who freak out when they're expected to share. They don't think they have to pay for anything that they take. And they're right--they don't."

I'm not one of those who think that this is some sort of unforseen, unprecedented horror. The American electorate has been full of ambition, distraction, uglification, and derision many times before this, and surely will be again.But most of us have been comfortable, fat, and careless for so long. The extraction operation that the New Deal and the social liberalism ran on the robber barons and the oligarchs that revelled in the Dickensian poverty of the nation for generations until they ran the ol' S.S. StarsnStripes on the financial rocks in 1929 has lulled us into thinking that we can never go back to the Gilded Age of Victorian slums and plutocratic rule again.But I will argue that the New Deal was a one-off, an unusual concatenation of massive elitist failure, autocratic liberalism (my pal Andy would tell you that FDR was a sort of kinder, gentler despot; I'd argue kinder, hell - the man was a fucking political piranha who used the idiocy and greed of his enemies [who were his social peers] to gut them and stuff them into a political hole for a generation) and transformative policy that was so effective in grinding the old American paradigm down to stone-hard bedrock that we have now forgotten what it was like for most Americans in 1928. That most of us lived at or near poverty and always had, that a short, filthy, brutal, hard working life was the lot of most people, and that nearly a quarter of all Americans were poor; really poor, dirt poor, hardscrabble poor all of their lives. People ate bad food, lived in hovels or slums that would embarass Sierra Leone today, worked in intolerably dangerous and backbreaking ways and died, usually early, of disease, malnutrition, or injury.And the big difference between 1928 and today is that a lot of those poor Americans back in the day were rural poor. They had farms and knew how to farm. Even when times were bad they had some hope of growing or raising something to eat.

Today we farm our crops at the SuperFresh or the Piggly Wiggly. When we lose our jobs, or get sick, or hurt, and there is nothing there to help but the meager donations of some church ladies and a scattering of soup kitchens and county shelters? We're gonna starve, and quick.

But none of this seems to matter to the Tea Baggers. They want their Gilded Age back, and nothing, not even their own lives and the lives of their fellows, will get in their way.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Riddle wrapped in an enigma

Part of the entertainment of blogs and blogging is the mystery of them.

Here's a good example. "D.D. Tinzeroes" the blog seems to have had a lifespan of about three years, from 2006 to 2009.

The blogger, who seems to be a Portland urbanite, possibly a grad student, raconteur, historian, and great consumer of pop culture both present and past, appears to have begun the blog with the idea of documenting some sort of map he was making of old Portland streetcar lines.The map itself and everything connected with the project has disappeared; if you follow the various links you get the dreaded 404 Error - Page Not Found. The blogger seems to have been involved in the "Platial", something called a "social mapping site" that nose-dived early this year. So all Tinzeroe's hard work, all his trolley line maps, are gone into that aetherial void space where lost Internet stuff goes when the website dies. The only remainder are the short blog posts that picket Tinzeroe's site in 2006 and 2007.

The thing is, the trolley line posts are really pretty fucking brilliant. The author finds old city maps as well as historical photos of the trolleys and their surroundings. And Tinzeroes is a good enough historian to know that history is just people living before the reader, so he makes sure to bring the human interest.Like here, where he memorializes a completely forgotten tragedy that struck four families on April 27, 1897 (he wrongly reports the accident date as the 28th, which was the date it appeared in the New York Times) when a trolley on the Mount Tabor line derailed crossing the trestle that bridged the Hawthorne Springs slough - in itself a fascinatingly forgotten piece of Portland, the wetlands and watercourses that drained the then-boggy inner East Portland lowlands - and fell into the water, killing three people; one W. W. Blanchard, described as a "laborer",
Newton Hanson, an eighteen-year-old who may have been either in high school or also working as a "laborer" and an unfortunate woman identified only as "(a)n unknown young lady". Tinzeroes says that a fourth was so badly injured that he, or she, died in hospital later, but I cannot trace the source of this.There must have been a Blanchard or two, perhaps a Missus Blanchard, a set of Hanson parents, a beau of the unknown young lady, or perhaps a sister...all of them grieved for their beloveds, drowned in a ridiculous trolley crash; April 27th must have been the most terrible day in history to them. Tinzeroe's momento mori brings these people, their families and friends, their lovers and loves, back to life for a brief moment. I'd say that's not a bad sort of gift to give.Or this gem of a little post, about the Portland Heights line and its timber trestle that ran from downtown Portland to the Vista Heights neighborhood along what was then Chapman Street. Chapman has disappeared, either subsumed in SW 18th or dug out to create the Vista Ridge tunnels in the late Sixties and then developed for the narrow, off-camber streets now typical of the flanks of the Heights.Look at this tremendously Victorian creation, vigorously free of guardrails, safety barriers, or, indeed, any sort of fall or crash protection at all.Which gives you pause when you read that a car crashed two days after the structure was opened in February, 1890, while on July 11th, "Car No. 13 broke loose from the cable at the powerhouse & rolled down 18th to Jefferson where it overturned. Car No. 18 then did the exact same thing & slammed into the overturned Car 13!"

Hmm. Maybe I'll walk.

The blog is full of this stuff, along with the random old building, idiosyncratic restaraunt reviews, historical trivia, personal maundering and marginalia that makes blogs so entertaining.Or at least to me. But to the blogger of "D.D. Tinzeroes", eventually, not so much.

The great days of the blog, the times when bandwidth fairly sang with trolleys and other Portland history, are over by 2008; suddenly the blog becomes almost exclusively about local 'zines and comics, random observations by the blogger, and review of science fiction and kaiju films. By 2009 things are getting sparse, and the final post, in May of this year, is a rather wan reflection of the time when "D.D. Tinzeroes" bestrode the narrow world of Portland historical blogging like a colossus; a snapshot of the urinals at Oaks Park, "near the roller rink".And that, it seems, is that.

Who was the man that knew so much about trolleys? Why did he start blogging? Why did he just stop caring about them? What is he doing now with the curiousity and knowledge that we get a glimpse of on his apparently-defunct blog?

We will probably never know. The result of his hard work and interest in the old rail line of Portland were his maps in Platial, which are as vanished as Lineal A.

Meanwhile his blog remains, idle in cyberspace, waiting like a left-behind book on an empty park bench for the passerby to stop and read, yet of its author- how he came to it, why he took it where he did, why he abandoned it - it is a mystery. It tells us nothing.

And never will.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's quiet. Too quiet.


Judging by the lack of comments recently, Lisa, I think you and I are the only people around here.In the service they told me that this is when the French and Indians always attack.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Funny Papers

Whilst searching for illustrations for the post I did on Kid Vid one part of the work I enjoyed was browsing the great stuff that gets posted on "Deviantart".

Some of it was so good I wanted to share it with whoever it is that wanders in this place nowadays. So.

Remember my guy Zuko from "Avatar"? Well, here he is, "off-camera" cracking up his Uncle Iroh.

And no, Zuko, you really weren't born to do comedy.Johane Matte - who draws under the nom-du-deviance "rufftoon", has done all kinds of terrific stuff with the Avatar gang, including this one, which channels the truly gifted Bill Watterson;And just one more - this one managed to hit both the Avatar gang's story - in "Sozin's Comet - The Old Masters" Aang and Zuko DO go looking for the secrets of firebending - as well as King Louie from "The Jungle Book". Now THAT's fucking brilliant:I loved this Adam Hughes take on Jedi Master Yoda twitching through his libidinous fantasies of nubile Jedi; it's a perfect spit-take on the 12-year-old fanboy sexuality of the Star Wars universe.I wonder - how dirty is it possible to get when you're a 600-year-old dirty old man?

There is no reason for this. It's just a beautiful image from Alexandra Douglass, and I liked the cascade of blood-red leaves blowing across the white painting.A random nightmare, courtesy of Chris Sanders:This wonderful artwork by Arthur Parreira, titled "Samurai Wars" done in the style of 木版画 (moku hanga), Japanese woodblock print, even includes the dialogue from the duel scene in the film in kanji.Utterly fucking brill and just another example of the best work from the Lucas canon now coming from people other than the creator himself.

As is this, from the SW parody series "Tag and Bink", by Kevin Rubio, Lucas Marangon, and Dan Jackson.Because surely not all the kids the Jedi scavenged from around the galaxy turned out to be Jedi Masters, right?

No deep thoughts. Just pretty pictures on a rainy night. I have to be up early and you should probably be in bed too. So, g'night.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


So the Wikileaks people have done another infodump regarding the Seven Years' War in central Asia, a.k.a. the Third Gulf War (counting Iran-Iraq as one and 1991 as two) or, if you insist on the silly DoD "code name" (a "code" which would have a hard time fooling Shaggy and Scooby), Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As usual, there is no shocking revelation here. There is nothing we haven't heard of, seen, or suspected, since the days when the shock came with a side order of awe.What is just depressing to me as an old soldier, though, is the pure predictability of the information we're seeing in the sitreps and TOC logs the Wikileaks people have amassed.

1. Iran was heavily involved in messing with our operations in Iraq. I'm shocked, shocked! After the way the Chinese left us alone in Korea in the Fifties and the Chinese and Sovs stayed out of our hair in Vietnam in the Sixties and Seventies, who'd have thought it?No wonder the finest geostrategic minds within the Beltway were utterly blindsided by this!

2. The Iraqi "government" we sponsored - in a crude, post-Ottoman, ethnically-divided, bitterly impoverished, historically kleptocratic- and thuggish pseudostate, mind you - turned out to be as or nearly as brutal and arbitrary as Saddam's.Well, Damn.

Didn't see that one coming.

3. We killed more hapless civvies at places like checkpoints and from the air than we did the muj. I predicted this one from back in '03, knowing what I did about our Army's obsession with force protection. If you capped an Iraqi mama-san you risked at worst a slap on the pinkie. If you let a car-bomb do one of your roadblocks? Kiss that OER goodbye, sir. So we capped assloads of innocent people.

No, duh?

The cumulative thing that makes this frustrating is the same-same-ness of it all. Back in the Seventies Dan Ellsberg took a pretty huge personal risk to expose the mountain of lies that the Vietnam War was built over and the national response was a collective yawn.

Now we're reading - again - that this fucking Mess-o-potamia was built on lies and lies about lies.

Don't get me wrong here. My country has lied its way into war, lied about its conduct in war, time and again. No, the Mexicans didn't invade the Nueces Strip, the Spanish didn't sink the Maine, and the the Vietnamese didn't attack the C. Turner Joy, either. Yes, we bombed civilian targets in WW2, we burned out downtown Panama in 1989 and lied about it. Churchill, no stranger to the politics and strategems of war, said that in it truth needed a bodyguard of lies.

But, as these documents remind us - again - this damn war didn't just have a bodyguard of lies. It had a recon and security screen of lies - lies about smoking guns and mushroom clouds and model airplanes filled with death from above. It had a main line of resistance of lies, lies about flowers and candy, lies about easy peasy, lies about body counts, lies about Iraqi exiles and Iraqi politics, lies about reconstruction and "coalition" provisional authorities. It had reserves of lies, lies about Shiites and Sunnis, lies about weapons and where they went, lies about Al Qaeda and muj and Sadrists. It had a logistical and support base of lies, lies about no-bid contracts and mercenaries and political and diplomatic conditions. It had a no-bid contract of lies, an entire Third Shop of lies, a theatre-level of lies, an entire Base Section and CONUS-full of lies and spin and bullshit.

And all these lies, for what?

Yes, Saddam is gone. In 1918 many an Englishman or Frenchman would have told you that the defenstration of the Kaiser was the best thing that could happen to Germany and that they couldn't imagine anything worse, and many a Russian, a Pole, or a Ukranian would have told you that the fall of the Tsar was a victory for Everyman everywhere inside the old Russian Empire.

And within twenty yearstwo menwould make those wishful-thinking optimists long for the old autocrats.

We had an uneasy arrangement with Saddam for decades. It wasn't good, it sucked for the Iraqis, it was expensive and irritating and we wanted things to be better. So in a moment of hubris and willful ignorance we kicked it to splinters and had to lie our asses off to do it and what did we get in return?

I don't think we even know yet. I think we will have no idea what we will see there for a decade, or two, and whether it will make us long for Saddam's mere brutality as a zek perishing in Stalin's lead mines may have pined for the Tsar.But this leaked pile of crap reminds us that what we do know is that whatever rough beast is slouching towards Baghdad to be born was engendered and midwived by lies, fucking lies, piles and heaps and mountains of lies upon lies.

(cross-posted from MilPub)

Growth Spurt

In the case you don't have any spawn yourself, or in the case you're one of those exemplary moms or dads that show up (with great regularity) in the "parenting" section of the local newspaper (Portland being Portland) extolling the college admission potential of their progeny that will result from the severe restrictions the parent(s) have placed on their vidiocy, or in the case that you are entirely too grown up to find value in visual storytelling intended for children, then this post is not for you.

I started this post when I was home sick last week, battling the nasty head cold gifted me by my bride (I love you, dear!) and after waking around 1pm I was unable to sit still and look at the humanitarian relief destination that is our house and decided to tidy up. I was refiling the littles' DVDs when I got to thinking - I haven't really talked about the kiddos and their taste in entertainment for some time.

I did a comprehensive review of the KidVid more than three years ago, just pre-Missy and at the time when the Peep was still in preschool. Those seem as distant as the dark ages now, and for those of you whose small people are still not yet at the point where they are demanding video entertainment by genre or title I thought I'd repeat the review of the nondriving portion of the family's current favorites.

Although I should state for the record that one thing hasn't changed; we ALL still enjoy the hell out of Disney "The Jungle Book", Disneyfied as it is and all.And after repeated re-re-viewings, I hold to my original premise: Kaa is still Pooh.

Of course, the biggest difference between three years ago and today is that we now have two little vidiots in the house, and their tastes are very different. So the only way I can do justice to both of them is to give you a summation of their faves by kid. And since youth and beauty trumps age and cunning, let's start with Little Miss.

MISSY Age: "four and a half" or "a big girl" Quote: "Some kids in daycare some day called me bossy and I don't like it because it makes me sad."Missy, like a lot of three- and four-year-olds, is very much at a tipping point, sometimes little girl, sometimes older toddler, and sometimes even quite babyish. Her video needs are less well developed than her brother. She will ask to see some particular favorites - the "Barbie" videos (more on which in a moment) being perhaps the most often requested - but not always and not even very often. She will also watch whatever her brother is watching and (usually) enjoy it. That said, she does have some particular favorites.

About a year ago she stumbled across one of the "Barbie" movies. If you haven't been exposed to one of these you should consider yourself as fortunate as a 14th Century villager left alive after the Black Death swept through her or his hamlet. The crude production values are part of the general awfulness, although perhaps you can excuse a fraction of it because the star of the show is a fucking plastic doll and the idea might be to have her move and act like one.But the plots are usually idiotic and what passes for dialogue is usually worse. But something in these injection-molded atrocities is aimed right for the tender little hearts of three- and four-year-old girls and it hits their center-of-mass like Simo Häyhä and Lyudmila Pavlichenko in a head-to-head 7.62 national match quality bake-off. I don't have to like it, but I have to acknowledge it. The Barbie people are as cunning as vipers.

There is only one mitigating circumstance to Barbie.Bibble.

This little clip from the otherwise eye-searing "Barbie/Fairytopia/Mermadia" (don't ask - the titles are as irritating as the rest of the Barbie farrago) is a good example of the welcome relief from the styrene disaster that is a typical Barbie film that the pastel "puffball" represents. The moment where he suddenly becomes Isaac Hayes - you HAVE to watch the clip, I'm serious - still makes me laugh and I've seen this bastard, like, 20 times.

It's not funny enough, mind you, to make watching the rest of the film tolerable for adults. But it does help a little.

Another current Missy favorite is this damn Tinkerbelle movie "The Great Fairy Rescue".

Now let me digress for a moment.In my opinion Tinkerbelle is one of the most despicable Disney characters in the entire canon. If you watch the original "Peter Pan" she spends about 9/10s of the film acting like a snippy, nasty, whiny, pouty little bee-yotch. And that's before she flat-out betrays her lord and master to his oldest enemy.

Given her actions you'd think she was insane from being all ate up with sexual jealousy over the Pan's interest in Wendy Darling, that is if you a) didn't know that Peter is obviously (obvious even to a crazy-mad jealous cartoon fairy) mentally about ten and wants the older girl as a mother, not a lover, and b) couldn't imagine the vile sprite balking at carnal relations with someone who, even as an adolescent boy, would have reproductive hardware about 4/5ths the size of her entire freaking body.


I loathe Tinkerbelle, the original Disney Tinkerbelle - she is the worst of the sort of thing that happens to a literary character when it is Disneyfied. At least the fairy in the original story throws herself on a grenade to save her love, rather than to redeem her own treason.

But as rotten as the is, at least the 1953 Tinkerbelle is true to her rotten little self.

The Tinkerbelle of this "Fairy Rescue" is an adorable sprite who loves kiddies (the macguffin of the flick is that she forms a "special bond" with the little girl who traps her) and later hangs her fairy ass out to help the girl and her daddy.

Now call me curmudgeonly but if you set a trap for me and catch me in it the only "special relationship" that's gonna result is going to be between my boot and your ass. And the classic spiteful little vixen Tink of the original would have done something pretty nasty to the girl just to feel good about it. But this Tink? Gah. She's like watching a happy Dracula or Cruella de Ville as Captain Kangaroo. It's just wrong, and nothing I can do will convince my little girl of that, so I sit and bite my tongue.Tinkerbelle. Rrrrr.

The third great love of little Missy's video life is another Disney, but this is "The Princess and the Frog". I can handle TP&TF. The titular princess is a spunky minx, the frog-prince is a idle libertine, and while the whole romance is hokey it isn't really in the Disney tradition of the princess riding off to become an ornament in the prince's castle.The supporting characters are tolerable, there is some genuine Dixieland jazz around the place, although the songs - did I mention it's a musical? The Disney formula dies hard - are the generic Disney/Broadway musical numbers.

And it has smitten the Little Girl with a great and consuming love for Daddy's gumbo, so I count that a point in its favor.

Other than that she still occasionally flirts with her daemon lover, Caillou. Everything I once said about Caillou still stands, BTW, so its fortunate for me that she doesn't often ask for him.She has also lost whatever interest she had in the KidVid she used to love; she will watch Dora when I turn it on but won't ask for it, she shows no interest in Kai-lan, or Yo Gabba Gabba, or Wonder Pets, or ponies, or...well, just about anything typically kiddish and televised circa 2010. I suspect that this is a good thing, but I am still waiting for the other preschooler shoe to drop. There's got to be something cunningly hidden in that sleek little head, some exquisitely painful juvenile atrocity like the gadawful "Berenstain Bears" that she'll turn out to luuuuurve.

But I sure hope not.

Now for the older kid.

THE PEEP Age: "Almost eight" (actually seven-and-a-half) Quote: "I don't care, and you can't make me care."

The Boy is all about one thing and that thing is Star Wars.

His current infatuation is with the Cartoon Network "Clone Wars" animation, which combines tolerable stories and really quite decent (for the small screen) digital animation with one really huge, insoluble problem:
Yeah, that.

Because we already know that Anakin Skywalker is going to become Darth Vader, possibly the most magnificent villain in modern movies, it's hard for an adult to watch these little dramas and not keep thinking "Gee, I wonder when so-and-so gets it? What terrible fate is in store for him/her?"

The new series has introduced a little stable of characters around the original doomed friends-turned-enemies Anakin/Vader and Obi-Wan. And assuming that Lucas does not intend to mess with his film canon we know that most of them, like Anakin's padawan Ahsoka and his loyal clone Captain, Rex, will be gone by the time the events of the "Revenge of the Sith" occur and their buddy Anakin turns into the Meanest Daddy of All Time.

None of this phases the Peep, who just enjoys the blam-kapow space battles and the coolness of the Jedi, the badass-ness of gunships and blasters and the trappings of sci-fi wars.

The only thing I do try and divert him from is his second-grade righteous wrath at the fictional clone soldiers when they obey their orders and shot down their fictional Jedi masters.

"I HATE the clone troopers!" Peep declared after watching the "Order 66" segment of RotS.Because for a seven-year-old there can only be Good and Bad; and since the Jedi were Good (because he had been told they were Good) then the men in the story who "killed" them had to be Bad. I explained that soldiers were men under orders, that sometimes orders were wrong but that the men did them anyway, either because they were mislead or because the orders seemed right at the time. I'm not sure he understood. But at least he likes to play clone trooper now, sometimes, too.

We manage to get through repeated viewings of the Lucas ouvre'. His film idea of "tactics" still irritates me, clone trooper-of-sorts that I am, though I can now resist shouting "Spread out and find cover, you fucking spastic, grabasstic pieces of monkey shit!" when the troopers stand up and walk forward shooting. And I have learned to appreciate the more ridiculous bits of Lucas dialogue. The current Peep Star Wars fascination shows no sign of waning, though, so we'll see how well we manage to get through another year of it.

The other Peep kidvid fave - actually, it's becoming a mutual attraction - is the cartoon "Avatar".I can't say enough good about this show. It is well-written, well-plotted, and the visual style, a mixture of traditional animation and some of the cleverer anime' conventions, is pleasing to the eye. I like the fact that the setting is unapolgetically Asian. I like that the show's creators treat their creations with respect, allowing the characters to struggle with real problems of life, death, love, hate, loyalty, and betrayal. It's a damn good show.Avatar ran for three seasons on Nickelodeon, between 2005 and 2008. It's in random repeat on Nick now, and both the kiddos are always ready to watch an episode, each one containing enough broad humor and cartoon adventure for them to enjoy while containing stories and characters within are complex enough for a parent to enjoy.

I'll even admit to being personally rather fond of Zuko, the volatile prince of the Fire Nation, and his goth girlfriend Mai. He's a tortured guy whose internal struggle from exiled prince to redemptive king makes for damn good storytelling, and he and Mai have lovely twisted little relationship. His process of growing up over the three seasons is as well-crafted as any adult television. And Mai is everything but the standard-issue cartoon girlfriend; she has all sorts of issues of her own, only some of which revolve around the guy with the funny eye-scar. Whatever else the two are, they're never dull.I'd say that goes for the whole show, possibly the best kidvid my little ones have discovered to date. Hopefully their Avatar phase will outlast the Barbie-and-Jedi infatuations - possibly extending into another year and letting their dad get a look at the new "Avatar" incarnation, the "Legend of Korra". But it's well to remember that the only constant with children is that there is no constant.

So I imagine that I will have to do this over in another couple of years.

We're a vidiocy sort of family, so if you have any questions just drop me a line. From Scooby to Boobah, we've seen it all and done it all.

We can set your feet on the right path, young padawan. All you have to remember is that the Truth that draws you on like the lodestone to the Pole Star is that Velma is Teh Hot.See you around the couch, then..?