Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Does a Day Ever Go By?

Are there any senior Republicans who are faithful to their spouses or have steady (legal) boyfriends or girlfriends? Is that just too perverse for the Gay Old Pedophiles?

  • Larry "Wide Stance" Craig trolling for sex in public bathrooms
  • Mark Foley texting about his boy-parts to underage Congressional pages
  • Jeff Gannon, conservative gay whore and "press" cheerleader who threw softball questions to George Bush
  • Former head of Young Republicans gets five years for sexually assaulting a subordinate
  • Vitter hitting the hookers 2-3 times a week (doesn't his wife ever service him?)
  • Most recent former head of Young Republicans under indictment for sexually assaulting a sleeping (male) houseguest
  • Alberto Gonzales being investigated for covering up GOP pedophilia
  • The author of the Republican Adam and Steve campaign dies in lurid gay double homicide-suicide
  • Bob Allen comes up with remarkable response to presence of Black men - offer them twenty bucks and a blow job. It's just insurance against getting mugged. Honest
  • ...and more and still more

Today we find that an Assistant US Attorney has been arrested for soliciting sex with what he thought was a five year old girl.

The undercover detective expressed concern about physical injury to the 5-year-old girl as a result of the sexual activity. Detectives said Atchison responded, " I am always gentle and loving; not to worry, no damage ever, no rough stuff ever. I only like it soft and nice."The undercover detective asked how Atchison can be certain of no injury. He responded, "Just gotta go slow and very easy. I've done it plenty," according to detectives.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Cool Toy

I just ran across the Bayeaux Tapestry Generator. It's kinda fun. There's a small palette of animals, people, buildings and other stuff which you can move around on the screen. For stories, make several frames. Unfortunately, there isn't an easy way to save them as Flash or animated GIF. Oh well, that's what screen capture is for. Since I've been in a culinary mood lately....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Yo ho, yo ho a pirate's life for me

At least for a couple days.

Pirates are hot lately. It's not just because of the Disney movies. There's been something in the air for a good while. It could be the sense of freedom that the represent in an increasingly constrained and totalitarian world. It could be that the Great Heroes of Capitalism these days are looters and raiders rather than builders. It might be climate change. As we know, pirates reduce global warming. Maybe I didn't wash the dirty sweats after I spilled rum on them.

No matter what it is the Second Annual Portland Pirate Festival will be next weekend, September 22 & 23 right next to the beautiful St. John's Bridge in North Portland.

Last year's was a lot of fun. There were ships, Age of Sail recreators, rum, the guys who came up with Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19th) and some good bands like Captain Bogg and Salty. You'd be amazed how many of CB&S's "Eat a Lime" and "Yar" bumper stickers are around town these days. The only bit of poor planning was the food and drink. When you have small children standing in line for an hour to get a turkey leg isn't going to work. Oh well, the excellent Big Kahuna BBQ is nearby.

About this time last year we were driving back down I-5 from Silat class when we saw a pair of sailing ships firing signal guns at each other and maneuvering around. After a while they headed up the Columbia to the first PPF.

Oh, This is Going to be All Kinds of Good

Just when you think there's some hope for progress in the human race

Rapist agrees to castration punishment for sexual battery

The Associated Press

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A confessed rapist has agreed to be castrated in a plea deal that could save him from a life prison sentence.

Bobby James Allen pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of armed sexual battery and various other charges involving attacks that happened in 1998 and 1999. Allen filed a motion requesting castration in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet agreed to sentence Allen to 25 years' prison on Sept. 20 if has the procedure in the next eight days. If Allen does not go through with the operation, he faces up to life in prison.

"You understand that this procedure is the removal of your testicles?" Overstreet asked Allen.

Allen said he wanted to be castrated.

"I have spoken with all the victims," prosecutor Larry Basford told Overstreet. "They agree that this sentence punishes him and would deter him and others from similar acts."

Allen would be classified as a dangerous sexual offender and must serve every day of his 25-year sentence, prosecutors said.

How much imagination does this scenario take:

Judge (to a White guy): "10-15 years"

Judge (to a Black guy): "You have been convicted of second dee gree sex y'all assault. That's going to be life, boy. But if we cut off you black balls we might let you out some day. Completely voluntary. Think about it, nigger.

That Should Work Better

Somewhere in the dim depths of time I screwed up the template. Comments didn't work. I've retemplated this blog, and everything seems to work better now.

Reality Malfunction, my blog for odder stuff and fiction, is up. It's just a shell, but there are some interesting links.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And that's the circle of liiiiiffeee!

Now I know a few things that I didn't ten minutes ago.

  1. Why the kibble bill is lower during the Summer
  2. Broadband is a highly optimized little killing machine
  3. She isn't one of those sweet kitties who brings her humans food gifts
  4. The selfish little fuck eats it all herself
  5. The dogs don't even try to take away her prey
  6. I'm really glad I'm not four inches tall.
The crime scene:
The alleged perpetrator:

Fortunately, all evidence points to the deceased being a house sparrow. We have too many house sparrows.

[Update] Tiel has just sent me a picture of the real Broadband:

Friday, September 07, 2007


From Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio
From Phil and Kaja Foglio's "Girl Genius"

Every Summer I make two pies. It's not for fun, Lord knows. It's serious business. You see, Tiel is an addict. She has a serious jones that can consume her. She's got the Cherry Habit.

It's good that we live in the Northwest. Both Bing and Rainier cherries were developed here, and prime growing areas like the Yakima Valley and Hood River are close at hand. During the early Summer we can keep the demon at bay.

A few years back we found the definitive treatment, Susie Bright's Eternal Cherry Devotion Pie. Ms. Bright is more noted for writing about sex, pornography, feminism and politics. "Sometimes," she says "you need to prepare a meal that will make someone fall in love with you." In Mommy's Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn and Cherry Pie she makes a good stab at it. This has as much to do with the over sweetened corn-syrup glop that passes for cherry pie isolated in a dry crust that passes for cherry pie as Chef Boy-R-Dee does with Escoffier. It has three pounds of cherries, a classic sugar crust, brandy and other wonderful things.

I don't know if it will make someone fall in love with you. If I haven't managed to do that to Tiel yet something has gone very wrong. What I can tell you is that two of them keep the Rosaceae Prunus Avium monkey off her back for almost a whole year. Somehow the combination of crisp Raniers and sweet Bings tastes more like cherries than the pure fruit itself.

Seeing as I'm getting back into the workforce soon and never really mastered pie-baking it was time to kill two birds with one stone (cherry, peach or apricot); I've been on a bit of a pie kick lately thanks to copies of The Humble Pie by Teresa Kennedy (sadly out of print), The Joy of Cooking and Dessert Circus. So far they've been about half savory and half sweet. Peach, Mango Cream, Mango Mousse (Fred Meyer's has a sale on mangoes), Grape Clafoutis, Black Bottom (which spontaneously disassembled in the car), Key Lime, Leek and Sausage, Shepherd's, Pasties, Pirozhkies, Chicken, Koubielaka(sp?) and at least one other meat variety I'm forgetting. Still to go: Shaker Lemon pie and Shaker Fish pie, honest-to-goodness mincemeat pie this Christmas, Shoefly(dry variety), Tomato-Basil, Broccoli-Cheese and maybe one or two others. The freezer is pretty full, so that should do it for now.

I've tried a number of different pie crusts from old fashioned pie paste and whole wheat to shortbread. They're the tricky part of the process. It's taken over a dozen tries to get the gluten and moisture just right. I don't know what will happen when the temperature and humidity change. Well, that's why the commercial bakeries keep it all carefully controlled and why it's as much Art as Science in the home kitchen. Having the right sort of crust for the pie is important. The yoghurt crust really does add something to meat or mushroom pies. The clafoutis just wouldn't do with anything besides a rich, sweet crust. And black bottom pie that isn't encased in crumbled gingersnaps? You've got to be kidding.

Even for a novice like myself the results have been pretty good. The most expensive pie is the Eternal Cherry Devotion with three pounds of organic cherries at about five dollars a pound. A similar one in a reasonably priced bakery? At least half again as much, and they do cut corners for efficiency. With some like the key lime there really is no comparison on top of the lower price.

Savory pies other than pizza and one or two varieties of pot pie are essentially extinct in this country. Outside of the Upper Midwest you can't find pasties for love nor money let alone leek and sausage. They are tasty, convenient, store easily and are quick to the table. You can keep most sorts of crust dough in the freezer for a long while and whip up some sort of filling in almost no time.

About half way through the pirozhkies I ran out of dough. A few lasagna noodles and some cheddar to top and there was a dish which was recognizably lasagna although it had almost none of the canonical ingredients. No ricotta or mozzarella. No sauce. A layer of cabbage and egg, one of mushrooms in cream, another of meat with dill. It worked out pretty well. A cornmeal crust, an egg binder and whatever veggies were nearing their end-of-life and we had a vegetable pie - very simple and flexible.

It's puzzling that they have become so rare. Oh, I suppose that samosas and Hot Pockets are technically in the family, but the first are still uncommon, and the second is the inbred low-class distant cousin who's only in the family photograph out of a sense of completeness. Maybe the rise of the casserole, pasta, and other quickly prepared or pre-packaged dishes is to blame.

Or it could just be that we don't have to go to the extra trouble of making pies anymore. Back in the day pies were an important method of food preservation. in Fading Feast: A Compendium of Disappearing American Regional Foods Raymond Sokolov speaks of winter food in New England. For the most part a colonial farmer might get by on cheese, milk and apple pie for weeks on end. There was enough protein, minerals, carbohydrates and vitamins - especially C & D - on which to get by in forms which could be stored for months.

If you have a weekend to invest in saving time later on or if you would just like to try something that gives you control over the ingredients pull out a cookbook and make a few pies. Try sweet and savory. Or just make the dough and be ready to pull it out a few months later. You'll get something better and less expensive than you would buy in the store let alone a resta
urant. A lot of them you just can't buy. And you'll be reviving an art that might otherwise be lost.

And who knows? You might even come up with an amazing piece of Mad Science like
and this
courtesy of Phil Foglio's most excellent Steampunk Webcomic

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


There's been a bunch of trees dying in our part of the city, mostly oaks and maples. According to the city forester it's probably the weird weather. The ground has been saturated more of the year, and you get outbreaks of root-rot. The maple in our backyard didn't put out many leaves or seeds last year. This year there was no new growth. Late this Spring we finally admitted that it was dead. The maple was growing in exactly the wrong direction and was threatening one neighbor's garage roof, two fences, and another neighbor's garden.

So it had to come down.

The tree surgeons would have charged $300-400 to bring it down. I figured that it couldn't be that hard to learn how to use a chainsaw. I got some good advice from Brandt, Bobbe and Mushtaq - thanks guys - and rented a chainsaw from Home Depot for $30. This was the first full size tree I've felled since Boy Sprouts. The current project was a little over 20 feet tall and about 16-18 inches at the base depending on which way you measured.

It worked like a charm. Nobody hurt, nothing crushed. Everything fell the right way. Even gaged the depths of the cut well enough so that it was stable while I was near it but just took moderate pull to get things falling. We limbed it as high as we could, topped it at a bit over ten feet and brought the rest down at ground level. Cut a wedge out in the direction of fall. Make a back cut at 45 degrees. Use gentle tension with a rope to get it to fall, but not so much that the trunk kicks back.

It looks like there was almost no rot, so I'm going to get the wood under shelter, dry it slowly and use every bit that can be used. The big pieces will be cut into panels, cabinet doors and a couple newel posts. Limbs are going to become picture frames, balustrades and pen blanks. The chunks are slated to be practice bowl blanks. When we're feeling industrious we'll dig out some of the stuff below ground and see if there's any interesting burl. Ten pounds of paraffin should be enough to paint the ends to reduce checking. It'll be interesting to see how much of the wood becomes abstract art as I learn how to use the lathe.

So what did we learn today, class?

  1. You can do a lot with a sawzall. It takes a lot of time and effort. A chainsaw is much better.
  2. The rental Makita chainsaws at Home Depot are a pain in the butt. They flood, and they're hard to get started the first time. But they do the job and have good anti-kickback features.
  3. Brandt wasn't shitting me. The vibration as you make deep cuts through hard heartwood can make your hands and forearms seize up.
  4. Climbing a ladder with a running chainsaw is scary even if the blade isn't moving.
  5. Ropes are good. So are safety lines. So are gloves, steel-capped boots, face shields and hearing protection.
  6. Dogs don't like the sound of a running chainsaw.
  7. The guy in Army of Darkness would have had a wrist and arm like a tree trunk to wave one of those things around one-handed.
  8. Cutting down trees is fun.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Jack and John Company or No, Pirates 3 Didn't Suck

Once in a while I remember why I still read Harper's Magazine. Sometimes it's the Index. Sometimes it's the articles. Once in a while it's a quote that skewers the truth. Long time back they had a roundtable about horror, movies and good writing and why the last two are so seldom found together. The panel tried to figure out how to make a movie out of Poe's The Telltale Heart. I hardly remember what they came up with, some sort of erotic/psychological thriller. But there was one deathless line. Robert Bloch said "It was a black day in Hollywood when producers discovered Roman numerals."

For the most part he was right. Sequels usually suck festering warthog hemorrhoids. That's why we were so surprised when three sequels - Spiderman II, Shrek II and Pirates of the Caribbean II - were all so good. We were looking forward to seeing the final installments but were prepared to be disappointed.

"Blessed are those who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed."

Spiderman III was lame, dog lame. The final (oh Lord I hope it's final) installment of Shrek tried to retread old jokes, play it safe and do everything safely by formula. It was set to be a Family Friendly Summer Blockbuster. And it did make a lot of money. Our low expectations were barely met, and we didn't quite feel ripped-off at three bucks a head.

With all the bad press that Pirates 3 got we weren't about to see it for full price. So we waited until it was playing at the Bagdad Theater.

For those of you not lucky enough to live in the North Wet the Bagdad is one of the McMenamin Brothers' chain. They pretty much started the brewpub revolution in this part of the country and have expanded from a couple pubs to hotels, old-style ballrooms with sprung floors, event locations, a winery and all sorts of other wonderful things. They specialize in taking old properties and converting them into really fun funky places. The Baghdad was a decrepit theater in the Hawthorne district. They added a bar and put in a cigar/pool/port bar around the corner. They also converted a lot of the seats into real chairs and sofas and ripped out a bunch of the rows to make room for tables. You can have beer and a pizza while you watch a second run movie.

So armed with cider, Hammerhead Ale and a couple pepperoni slices we saw Pirates of the Caribbean III. We weren't expecting much. They'd already hit the three greatest monsters in the second movie - Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken. What was left? Oh well, at the worst we'd get to see Keith Richards playing a decrepit, broken down drunken pirate outlaw. Definitely character acting for him, and barely a stretch.

I can see why a lot of people didn't like it. It wasn't a clever roller coaster like the other two. It was pretty damned grim. The pacing wasn't quite off. The dialog wasn't inspired. And the end just plain isn't going to satisfy people who want a light-hearted wrap-up where the Boy and Girl live happily ever after and everyone ends up singing happy songs. It's not that kind of Disney movie. In fact I think Disney might just have gotten a little bit of its soul back in the post-Eisner era.

That's the real thing that I think bothered a lot of people about this film. It goes against the grain. The movie opens with endless lines of wretches being hanged. As they march to the gallows an Officer is reading out an edict. There's a State of Emergency. The following rights are modified: The right of habeas corpus. Suspended. The right to assemble. Suspended. The right to trial by jury. Suspended. The right to an attorney. Suspended. For anyone convicted of piracy or anyone associated with a convicted pirate the penalty is to be hanged by the neck until dead. Little children not tall enough to reach the noose are thoughtfully stood on barrels so they can be hanged with the rest.

You don't have to be a wild-eyed revolutionary to get the message there.

And the Authority isn't even the British Crown. It's John Company, the E.I.C., one of the first and greatest of the multinationals with its own fleets, its own armies and no responsibility to anything but its bottom line. The pirates are the terrorists. Many of them are swarthy Orientals. They stand against the Company and against an Authority that controls the terrible power of the Sea Itself.

This is not a politically correct or even personally safe position to hold these days. The people taking away civil liberties are the villains. They all look alike with their uniforms and pale skins. The Corporation, Holy Avatar and Chosen of the Sacred Market (Laaa!) is evil. Every single evil-doer is a White Male Anglo-Saxon Capitalist. The Company honors no agreements. As its representative Beckett says "It's nothing personal. It's just good business."

A bunch of swarthy outlaws who cause terror including Frenchmen, Ay-rabs, armed Negroes *shudder* and Chinese are the Good Guys. They represent all the races of Man and include women in positions of power. They include the wretched of the Earth. They represent freedom. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are brave. Some are treacherous. The pirates quarrel. Get a bunch of them together, and a fight breaks out. "That's politics," quips Jack Sparrow. But when it comes down to it they all obey the Pirate Code to which they all signed on. They stand for freedom. The leader leads so with the consent of the electors and is first into battle rather than hiding in an undisclosed safe location.

Corporate rule is bad. Freedom is good. Those who stand against authority are the heroes. People can have flaws and still be heroic if they do what is right when the chips are down. And there are worse things than dying if you're doing what you really believe is right. These are not popular sentiments today. Our entire media machine and the political tenor of the day stands for submission to authority, mistrust of democratic institutions, the union of political and corporate power and the abandonment of all rights including habeas corpus, assembly, association, trial by jury and the right to an attorney, so that an English-speaking elite will make us feel safe from the dark-skinned Other.

Nope. The media people just aren't going to like this one.

And it doesn't have a Disney ending. The Boy doesn't quite get the Girl. They'll live ever after but probably not happily. His job is necessary, even sacred. But it's lonely, unpleasant and one he was never really cut out for. She has to do what the wives of sailors have always done which is wait and keep his heart safe.The man best suited for immortality sailing the seas gives it up. All the major characters betray each other, lie, and do bad things for what they consider good reasons. And nobody gets away unhurt. It makes for better drama and a much fuller story than we'd expected. It certainly isn't formula. It doesn't give the audience what it expects from a Disney flick. But it just might be the most subversive even courageous thing to come out of the Magic Kingdom in a long time.

And Keith Richards has hella stage presence as Captain Teach.