Thursday, September 30, 2004

Kerry crushed Bush tonight. Bush didn't look like he wanted to be there. He had this horrible frown on his face like he was smelling a bad fart or the entire proceedings were beneath him. And he generally sidestepped most questions with pat answers that missed the subject at hand. Considering Kerry went into this as the underdog, it's pretty clear he'll get the bounce here. As I type, MSNBC's online reader's poll on debate performance puts Kerry ahead 71% to 29%.

Some right-wing pundits - in the minutes right after the debate - seemed to concur that Kerry had the edge in the debate. They said the President looked bored and tired and didn't hammer his strongest points. But soon, the spinners took over and all the networks were happy to let Karen Hughes and Rudy and the rest of the gang claim that their guy creamed to opposition and presented a Presidential face with which middle-America could relate (the Dems did it too, but their claims sounded a lot less far fetched to anyone who had watched the proceedings).

Eventually it got back to a weird game of Truth or Patriotism. ON MSNBC, Joe Scarbough asked this brain teaser (I paraphrase) "Kerry said Australia might be a bigger target for terrorism because of it's support for the US in Iraq. Now how can he expect to get allies for that war if he says a nation's support will increase the risk of terrorism in that country?"

Joe obviously comes from the school of I prefer the lie, thanks. As I understand his comment, even if it's true that supporting the US in Iraq might increase the risks of terror in a country, the US should pretend that's not true in order to gain allies. Because telling the truth would risk not gaining that allies' support and (though not mentioned) hurt the war effort meaning that You, sir are unpatriotic!

Joe, here's a news flash - countries besides the US have opinions too. They know very well the effect their actions will have. Us lying to them won't change that or change their minds. You think they're going jump on the bandwagon because Ol' George says Don't Worry! You poor stupid bastard.

Perhaps the best foreign policy for allies is a truthful policy? How about a President who says, "I won't lie to you - fighting the war on terror might make you a target, but it's a just fight and one that if done right and right now, will save lives down the line." Don't you think a policy of respect and truth would encourage more support from other nations than would a policy of sticking your head in the sand and lying?

Oh, it's all bullshit anyway. I'll bet anything that if a sitting Dem President had said, "Nobody becomes a bigger target for terror by siding with the US in a war" Regular Joe S. and his buddies would have swarmed on that like flies on poop. Of course nobody should expect Joe to be on the side of the truth. His background includes a stint as a Republican Congressman from North Florida and a Bush Admin employee. There's an unbiased voice on the news, huh?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

All these hurricanes make me feel like I live on a bowling alley. Jeanne was annoying for a day (started at 2AM and went until 5PM), but amazingly, we never lost power. Brighthouse cable went out and with that internet access, but this was probably the least annoying of the three hurricanes that have hit us this summer. The weirdest result - the trees around here are turning winter bare, having lost all their leaves in the storms. I don't suspect that's going to change before spring.

Natalie and I watched CRUMB tonight. When I saw that in a theater years ago, it felt energizing and funny. Tonight it felt depressing and perverse. Still good, but every laugh was suspect. Maybe it's harder to laugh at people who you know are going to kill themselves within a year after the camera stops.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

From last weekend's NY Times magazine:

"It used to be that a play seemed to resonate into the society a lot more," he said, "and now it's simply one more entertainment. Maybe the competition has ground down moral and social meaning. Publicity and advertising are the major arts today. They shape the consciousness of the people far more than actual art does."

Friday, September 17, 2004

On a totally different tact, former SCREW publisher Al Goldstein is broke, nearly homeless and working in the Second Ave. Deli. Ex-porn king trades sex for salami at 2nd Ave. Deli.

I dare you to order extra mayo.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I was surprised how much the funeral industry is like the wedding industry. In both, the parties purchasing services are pushed upscale relentlessly, always with the veiled threat of releatives dissaproving of your original, probably less traditional choices. Not matter what you envisioned going in, rare is the party who doesn't eventually settle for Plan A, B or C.

My Father expressed two wishes regarding his service. One, he never wanted any flowers except some red roses. Mom pretty much pulled off that, although some people refused to accept her no flowers request and sent in their arrangements anyway. I know, they meant well. Doesn't everyone?

Also, Dad always wanted to avoid priests as he was incensed about the church's pedophillia scandles. My sister would hear none of that and so hired non-denominational pastor who leads a weekly Jimmy Buffet-inspired service on the beach. Honestly, he wasn't all bad. It was good to have somebody in charge who wasn't crying. Yes, I could have done without the many Jesus references as we are a family of very lapsed Catholics. But he kept things moving forward. Still, the funeral jumped the shark when Pastor boy cranked up his CD player and capped the service with the most cheeseball synth-o version of Amazing Grace I've ever heard. Think Colors of The Wind without the soul. If Dad wasn't dead, that would've killed him.

It struck me that funerals are performed for those left behind, not the person who's died. In much the same way, weddings are for the families of those getting married more than for the couple. My sister and Mother needed some religion and hymns, so they ordered it. The fact that it was never part of our lives didn't figure into the equation at all. The fact that the pastor had never met my Father and delivered a service that - while generally thoughtful - could have been said for anyone, didn't matter in the least.

The casket was open for the family viewing and Dad looked terrible - frankly like somebody else. Considering how he wasted away in the final two weeks, that shouldn't surprise. We did the math and realized Dad died exactly one year to the day when he first noticed blood in his urine. The final 10 days were miserable and I commend my Mother and sister for dealing with it. By the end, he wanted out badly and he probably had a heart attack while resting in bed.

My brother, sister and I delivered eulogies. I generally blubbered through mine, although I score a laugh or two. I wish I had held it together better. Dad deserved more laughs. My sister told a good story about Dad teaching her how to swim in the Atlantic and how she found out later that my father couldn't swim himself. After that (and karaoke Amazing Grace), we enjoyed tastefully catered deli tray lunch in the reception room while Dad was quickly buried. Tis the rainy season in Florida. The water table's so high that you can't leave an open hold for any period of time. They have to move fast, seal the casket in a vault, dig the hole, drop in the vault and bury it quickly or else the hole floods. By the time we finished the carrot cake, Dad was in the ground and sodded over.

Thanks to everyone who wrote. I'm still sort of numb to all this. but I'll get back to you soon.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

My father passed away an hour ago in his sleep at home.
Francis is starting to be felt here, just before noon on Saturday. Winds have picked up and a quick, intense rainstorm just trapped Natalie outside while she was jogging (I picked her up in the car). Jake has built a hurricane shelter out of a large cardboard box. He feels safe and can still watch Yu-Gi-Oh.

The big part of this storm is suppose to last for 24 hours, so this is going to be a long day. I think everyone is much better prepared for this one. Life around town has come to a virtual standstill. I mean, McDonald's and Burger King were closed yesterday, a beautiful Florida evening. It makes me worry about the power of capitalism that the threat of a storm can shut down every business in town.

Neither sleet, nor rain, nor snow shall stop the mail from getting through

Oh yeah, the Post Office is shut down too. I guess there motto didn't take into account hurricanes.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Get your Pimp Name Here! Let's enjoy some silly fun while waiting to be washed away during the hurricane. Hey...on the plus side, it's happy hour all weekend in these parts!

Peace Out,

"Sweet Chocolate Richard Silk"

Thursday, September 02, 2004

IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD - Tempers Flare As Supplies Run Out
Tempers flared Thursday morning as hundreds of people waiting to buy hurricane supplies at a Home Depot on Alafaya Trail saw the doors closed.

Store officials temporarily refused to allow anyone else inside at about 9 a.m., when they thought they were losing control of a line of customers waiting for a truck of supplies to arrive, said Orange County Sheriff's spokesman Cpl. Carlos Torres.

Many customers had been waiting since 4 a.m., when the store opened early to handle what was expected to be a heavy day of sales. A group of about 30 had spent the night outside the store waiting to buy generators only to learn that a Home Depot supplier would not ship any more until after Hurricane Frances struck, so the hardest hit areas could be served first.

Deputies were summoned to the store when the customers who had arrived early became upset with later-arriving customers who sneaked into the line snaking through the store.

"It's getting kind of hairy. I'll tell you what, it's going to be worse tomorrow," Torres said. "Everybody knows if they act up they're going to get kicked out. And if they get kicked out , they won't get their stuff."

Tensions also rose at the Home Depot at the corner of West Colonial Drive and Hiawassee, where hundreds of customers formed three lines from the parking lot to the store's registers in order to buy plywood, nails, water, duct tape and other items.

At 8:10 a.m. at the same store, an El Sentinel reporter observed a brief shoving match when a woman in line lost her temper and shoved a store employee.

Meanwhile, Interstate 4 road rage took on bizarre dimensions Thursday morning.

Two tractor trailer drivers parked in the middle of the interstate and had a fist fight.

"I've been a cop for 26 years and I thought I had seen everything," said Orange County sheriff's Chief Steve Jones, who broke up the fist fight. "Now I can say I have seen everything."

Jones was driving eastbound at 9:45 a.m. in bumper-to-bumper traffic toward what he thought must have been an accident. That's when he noticed two 18-wheelers stopped in the middle of the eastbound lanes as their drivers duked it out.

"I jumped out of my car, crossed the median and said, 'What are you guys doing? Y'all have any idea that the entire coast of Florida is evacuating and you're stopping traffic to fight?'" he said. "Just look, there's a million people behind you."

Ordered to get back in their trucks and leave, one of the drivers tried to argue the other one pushed him first.

"Obviously, on any other day, both of them would have gone to jail but that really would have backed up traffic," Jones said. "What would I do with two semis?"

Elsewhere, traffic backed up in both directions near the Lake Ivanhoe interchange as motorists stared in disbelief.

From the Orlando Sentinel.
So Dad's going downhill fast. Yes, I expected it, but I guess my Mother and sister (who are there with him) didn't. Every day is a new low. Yesterday, he wandered off into the garage took a crap next to the Buick. Last night he rolled out of bed and went to the bathroom while lying on the floor. My mother gently says he's having "trouble finding the bathroom." This is why I told her weeks ago to consider getting a nurse for home, but she can't stand the thought of strangers in her house. She's finally considering moving Dad to the local hospice center. He had wanted to stay at home and die there, but it doesn't look like that'll work out.

My sister, in yet another of her late arrivals, has been reading the hospice literature and is wondering is she should have a talk about spirituality and the afterlife with Dad. I said, "Maybe it's a bit late for that now." Consider, he's had cancer and faced death for a year. These last-minute realizations are becoming my sister's trademark. She recently discovered computer viruses have invaded her PC, and she's stunned.

I had planned to drive south this weekend, but we have another hurricane coming our way. I thought about leaving this morning, driving 4 hours to Naples, staying the night and rushing back tomorrow to be here for the storm Friday night. Natalie didn't like the idea of hanging here along with Jake and I don't blame here. Part of me wants to say, "My Dad's dying, I have to be there." But another part wonders if Dad would even know I was in the room. If the storm blows through in time, I intend on leaving Saturday.

In the meantime, I find myself very attached Jake, almost as a replacement for my Father. Not in a bonding way, but almost body for body. As my father loses his battle against cancer, Jake gets bigger and healthier by the day. I watch him astonished, forever impressed with the imperatives of our species. I haven't told him much about Dad, except that he's sick. I'm debating whether or not he should go to the funeral or even see my Father again in this weakened state. I can recall going to an uncle's funeral when I was about 6, hearing people talk about how "good Frank looked" in the casket. I don't recall it being a bad thing, but I also don't think I understood what being dead was.

This hurricane one looks bigger and badder than the last. On the plus side, the weaker trees are already gone. On the minus side, many of them are lying at the roadside in pieces, waiting for the proper wind to become airborne projectiles. The thought of no power for six days again makes me very, very sad.

The pace around here is getting crazed already. Last night (Wednesday)< I went looking for a few things - a battery-powered TV, a latern. Salespeoples just shook their heads sadly. "We sold out yesterday." For the last storm, almost nobody prepared. This time, they've bought all the battery-powered TVs 72 hours before landfall. I guess this is an improvement.

The University has shut down for Thursday and Friday, as have public schools. Thanks God Jake's little school stayed open today. Having to deal with a five-year-old thrown off his schedule is not what we need now.

Thanks to all for the emails and good thoughts.