Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Musical Interlude

Pretty much everyone (and that was six at last counting) who reads this Jenga! (i.e., blog) says: "Scot you don't like anything!"

Oh, but not exactly true...not as long as my wife and KEXP are still around, anyway. For those into such things, KEXP out of Seattle recently recorded the groups Iron & Wine/Calexico in concert, and it sounds real, real fine. I especially like the Iron & Wine cover of "All Tomorrow's Parties".

Enjoy. Listening will make the largely screwed-up world and its predominantly inane human inhabitants just a bit more palatable for a short while.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Bernalillo County and Property Taxes

Alright, I'm violating the "one post per day" at most rule, but I just went to the Bernalillo County Property Tax "Online Payment Home". I go there thinking Cool! online payment for my property taxes! Who cares what anybody else says, Bernalillo County has got it going on!

So then I notice a few hiccups. First, the 2005 tax bills aren't online..maybe they aren't even printed yet, but aren't they due by December 10th or so? Then comes the real killer part, namely:

"The Bernalillo County Treasurer has entered into an agreement with First State Bank to process credit card payments. You may now pay your Bernalillo County property taxes online. First State Bank/Official Payment Corp. the service provider, will charge a convenience fee for this service. The fee will be 2.5% of your tax payment. Bernalillo County does not charge or retain any portion of this fee."

Well, all I gotta say is that the B.C. Treasurer's Office is some wily, hard-ass negotiators. Only 2.5% for online transactions? You mean my approx. $1000 tax bill will only cost me an additional 25 (*@%*^@+) dollars to process online? Them Treasurer's Office folks are some NFL agent kinda hard-ass negotiators! First State Bank must be feeling totally screwed in that deal, getting only 2.5% for, basically nothing.

Bernalillo County? I have this '91 Suzuki Sidekick I'd like to sell you...yeah, it runs, Blue Book is about $900. I'll sell it to you for, let's's $10,000 sound? With a 2.5% processing fee that'll make it $10,250.

And yeah, I see your brain churning out there in Blogland.."hmmm....Treasurer's Office....Treasurer's Office, where have I heard something about impropriety concerning some Treasurer's Office lately?" I can't put my finger on it, but..."

I have always found it quaint in a 3rd World sort of way that we made our Property Tax check out directly to the Treasurer in the past. Hard to wonder if that wasn't designed to just save a step in the process, not that Alex Abeyta, Jr.'s tenure as previous County Treasurer had any problems. (subscription...maybe)

We're #46! Part MLMXVII: NM Internet Usage

You might have noticed that several news outlets picked up an AP story entitled "Internet Use Up, but so is User Concern" which combines a number of different surveys into a mishmash of things you already knew. In fact, reading the headline for the article is like reading an a story entitled "Seventy Percent of World Covered in Water", hence you probably quickly moved on to another wave in the 'net surf.

Still, one advantage of the increasingly popular, but scary 'Net is that you get links to the actual figures (just like ATMs, it's hard to remember a world before such mean we just believed the crap that came out of such lame stories?) One site/study on Computer/'Net usage is from the U.S. Census Bureau. Always a sucker for social science data, I went to the Census page and checked out the State by State 'Net usage figures for 2003.

Sure enough, one Excel spreadsheet later we find out that New Mexico is 46th in prevalence of home 'Net access. We're right between Louisiana and Alabama. Only Mississippi, Arkansas and the aforementioned Louisiana have a lower percentage. The most illuminating thing about this obvious, unnecessary story is the author's point that computers are most prevalent in the West and least prevalent in the South (they break down Computer figures from 'Net access figures).

Well, New Mexico may be geographically in the West, but right now we're hanging out in downtown Petticoat Junction, computer/'Net-wise. Our actual neighbors like Colorado are wired big-time , while virtual neighbors like Alabama have the overall access equivalent of a 2400 baud modem and CompuServe on a Kaypro "luggable". To my virtual neighbors in Tuscaloosa and environs I say let's play Pong! I just got it for my Commodore 64 and the graphics are incredible.

Friday, October 28, 2005

"Three Theory" in Action

My superstitious friends (when not teaching Intelligent Design and Palmistry) are always saying things happen in threes, especially deaths. Well, in one 24 hour period we've had death letters from:

Michael Vigil
Harriet Miers

Looks like Scotter Libby (and yes, even as a former Texan who once worked in Denton for a boss named "Scooter", I realize how stupid a name that is) is gonna be the third death. Actually, I never bought into that three mumbo-jumbo (any look at the obits will tell you that we pass three on the death meter quite easily every day), and I'm still holding out hope for Karl Rove and some other sketchy folks we've never heard of being indicted today in Plame/Wilson/Niger/Cake/Italiano/Outing Gate. In fact, it'd make my weekend by Friday Afternoon. It'd make my Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and everything up to Veterans' Day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Trip Through Democracy: My Visit to the County Commission

Last night I made a rare venture into the mire and muck of governmental decision-making, heading downtown to the Bernalillo County Commissioner's meeting. Now usually I would no more go to the NORAD-bunkerish bowels of One Civic Plaza than I would attend a Pampered Chef kitchen party led by Rachael Ray (see story below). But there I was, holding my political nose and wallowing deep in the sausage-factory of democracy.

Being the typical American patriot, I usually only attend such meetings when they directly affect my life, and last night was no exception. Namely, the Commissioners were deciding whether to overturn a County Planning Commission decision to put the kibosh on a 54-acre South Valley (SV) shopping center next to the brand-spanking new Walmart Superstore at Rio Bravo and Coors Blvd. A Walmart store that I live approximately 800 yards from as the crow flies, separated by a large, beautiful alfalfa farm that is a Winter hotel for large groups of cranes and geese. So this Winter I will get to look out my back yard and see the cranes taking off at sunrise with this lousy, stinkin' Walmart Superstore in the background. Sunset returns to alfalfa base for the birds will be in front of the glittering parking lots lights of said stinkin', lousy Walmart Superstore.

Basically, the Commissioner's vote last night determined whether I would soon get the additional visual treat of having a Lowe's Home Improvement crammed next to the Walmart Superstore. Never mind that these same stores exist a bit up the road at Coors just past I-40 (okay, it's a Home Depot there) or that the other, West, side of Coors Blvd. is already designated open space....a group of developers has determined that we gotta have more, more, more and there's just gonna be a bunch of meetings, appeals, re-appeals, more meetings and further appeals until they get what they want.

So anyway, last night I and about 125 folks who don't like the idea pack in with about 30-40 folks who really, really want there to be a Lowe's Home Improvement and get to hear from lawyers and a few citizens on both sides about how either this idea is the single greatest idea since the Tennesse Valley Authority & Lousiana Purchase rolled up in one, or is the most wicked idea since the Walmart Superstore was built. I realize one might detect a bias in my analogies there, a trend I fear will continue.

And there was bias all around for sure. Bias and little red name tag looking things that said "I Support the Marketplace at Anderson Farms" from the pro-development side (Farms? If it's a farm, it sure as hell ain't gonna have a giant concrete strip mall on it, right?) as well as large photos-on-a-stick of gas prices at the Diamond Shamrock, illustrating that we in the SV have to drive large distances to get our Home Improvement supplies (upwards of about 8 miles one way...OH MY GOD!!!!) Anti-development forces showed photos of flooding at the Walmart, long traffic lines on adjacent streets from what growth we already have, and laughed inappropriately at the County Commissioners when they said things like "Of course we don't want to do things like the City".

A few highlights from the festivities:

  • The pro-development citizen's group has a 23-year old disabled man speak about how the new shopping center will make it possible for him to shop at Lowe's Home Improvement as he cannot drive. I don't know where this ranked in all-time misuse/abuse of disabled people talking at public meetings, but it had to be at least somewhere near Top Ten.
  • The anti-development group leader brandishes and reads a letter from Isleta Pueblo Governor Robert Benavides, which drives the developer's lead attorney in a rabid frenzy of attempts to strike the letter as "heresay". Besides the almost palpable mouth-foaming of the attorney is the fact she carries about 300 lbs. of unwieldy documents along with her as she goes to the mic. Waddling is a good term here.
  • Commissioner Teresa Cordova, the SV Commissioner, comes off looking incredibly professional and thorough, citing examples of why the development is inadequately planned while at the same time earnestly telling the pro-development folks that she agrees that the SV really needs economic development.
  • The best thing about living in the SV is that we just do things a bit differently down here. We don't have any traditional-looking politician type leadership, so instead even what leaders we have exude an eccentric bent reminiscent of folks who keep strange sculptures in our front yards and shoot guns off the back porch while reading The Iliad. Damn refreshing.
  • At least one developer rep. makes a statement about "I can't tell you, Commissioners, how many residents told me personally that they have to drive to Los Lunas to do this kind of shopping". The words "Los Lunas" are said with the same sneer one uses when saying things like "Christian Heavy Metal" or "blog entry".
Plenty of interesting tidbits for a partisan observer or deep-in-the-SV resident, but I understand if anyone living north of Bridge/Gibson has already fallen to sleep or changed the blog channel...but for those who've stuck it out this long there's a bit more. Specifically, the vote.

So, Cordova makes a reasoned explanation of why she's voting to defeat the appeal, the other Commissioner's ask a few questions, the audience laughs at the Commissioners inappropriately from time to time, and the moment comes for a motion/vote. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then things go a little hairy. First, Commission Chairperson Alan Armijo, who's done a pretty good job of running the timed debate (at least when he's not hobnobbing with folks around the chamber) kinda violates rule #4 for Parliamentary Procedure folks (and I should know...I was Parliamentary Procedure "President" for my FFA competition team back in 9th grade...really): He doesn't formally read the motion before the vote.

Then the vote happens. Now from the rather slow-pitch softball questions to developers from Commissioner Tim Cummings and others it appears this vote is gonna be close. No way to tell at all which way it's gonna go. Tension. Rising. Then in about 2.2 seconds, Armijo says "all in favor" and some voices are heard. "All opposed" and no voices are heard. A few seconds go by and the vote sinks in to the crowd. We Won! Yeah! Rejoicing! (of course I refer to the anti-development folks here). The crowd on both sides starts for the exits.

Then Commissioner Michael Brasher looks up to the exultantly leaving anti-development folks and asks something like "I'm sorry, what did I just vote for?" I paraphrase, but I do not kid...Brasher is confused about whether he voted for or against the development. The smiling faces on the exiting anti-development folks leaves him feeling more confused.

Now part of the problem is that Armijo didn't read the motion before the vote. Also, the motion was confusing...running something like "To deny the appeal of the developers and uphold the decision of the County Planning Commission"...still, you don't vote on something you don't understand. That was rule #1 back at the FFA Parliamentary Procedure competition.

Obviously, Brasher meant to vote against the motion and for the development. Now at times like this it's hard not to remember that this is the same Michael Brasher who forgot the filing deadline for ABQ City Council, missed the deadline and had to run as a write-in. Frankly, it's a little tough to resist making some rather pointed judgements as to the general sharpness level of Commissioner Brasher. So instead I'll just focus on how Goddamn funny it was to see Brasher try to Parliamentarize himself out of the predicament.

Basically, he had to talk the other Commissioners into letting another vote take place "reconsideration", an attempt that required a motion and a second. Brasher motioned, and what followed was about the funniest five seconds of silence in recorded Parliamentary history. Then Chairperson Armijo had to tell Brasher that there was no second.

It made walking out the door that much more enjoyable. So enjoyable that I barely noticed the pro-development folks walking alongside me muttering about the "idiots" who would oppose such a project. I have to say that maybe for the first time I actually enjoyed attending of these shindigs. Of course, by far the biggest reason is that I got the decision I wanted. Still, it had other pluses, including learning that my County Commissioner is probably the smartest one of the bunch (at least we absolutely know she's not the least smart), I got to relive memories of my days of High School Parliamentary Procedure, and there were moments of humor better than just about any Daily Show or Conan bit..better, as Homer Simpson would say, because they were true.

I don't know as I'll ever attend another one of these things ever again, but the chances are just a bit better than they were before last night.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Big Bill v. Gary Johnson Question: Part II

Okay, since I asked, as a serious question, a few days back whether those of the NM Lefty political persuasion would vote today for Big Bill Richardson or Gary Johnson the following has happened:


The news upshot of this is that Big Bill gets followed around Pyongyang by the NM press golly gee whillikers style to the extent that we have in-depth examinations about how many scotches and ginseng liqueurs Big Bill drinks at dinner, and the Gov. shows up at national gigs like "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" getting to brag about the concessions N. Korean officials granted him.

Our next local story switches us from Big Bill in his "negotiating with Communist mad men suit" to continuous-loop stock footage of long-haired Gary Johnson looking like he either just walked off the set of "Lords of Dogtown", or is up for the part of Jeff Spicoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High: The Musical". Over this stock footage we get to hear about all the broken bones Gary has had since leaving the Governor's office, the stock footage continuing to play because it allows everyone in the news room to laugh uncontrollably without being seen.

I don't retract the question...Johnson or Richardson. But I do admit there was a certain, shall we say, leadershipishness gap this past weekend. At the same time, I can hardly wait to hear Gary sing a duet with Mr. Hand about the pizza he ordered to History class:

Gary Johnson: Aaalllooohhhaaa, Mr. Hand!
Mr. Hand: Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?
Gary Johnson: Learning about Cuba, and having some food.

And then it's straight into the salsa number "That's my skull, I'm so wasted."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Info Wanted: The KUNM "Strike" of '87

Dear Babblearians/Babbleistas/Babbleites:

I starting some research on the history of KUNM, specifically the "strike" of '87. As a KUNM volunteer in the mid to late '90s, I heard a few stories about the "bad 'ole days", but still haven't seen a definitive report on just what the hell happened. What little I've heard sounds pretty juicy, and I want to talk to folks involved before we're all dead (including, perhaps, KUNM) to get the story out.

Maybe it's already out...can someone lead me to it? The only net cite I can find is a KUNM history in progress (author currently unknown). One cool thing about checking this written history is finding out that Stuart Dyson was KUNM Program Director at one time....

Update: Thanks for all those who have contacted/gotten back in touch with me on the subject. I get the sense from those responding via email, etc. that the "Strike/Debacle/Wars" might make for one of those "This American Life"-esque audio stories. Despite the fact that this means more work for Scot (and who wants that?) , the anecdotes I've heard so far (and the blurry, subjective nature of the histories presented) are too good to pass up.

And of course, I'm still looking for others with knowledge of the events of '87...meanwhile I guess it's time to invest in some of that newfangled digital audio recording equipment I've heard was invented since the dark days of my KUNM "5 O'Clock Report" rip-n-read anchoring of 1995-1997. Man did I suck at reading the news...thankfully there's no tape, analog or otherwise, of that fiasco. Remind me to tell you about my attempt to say "Eddy County Sherriff M.A. 'Chunky' Click" with a straight news-face sometime.

Saturday Morning Coffee-fueled Pondering

As my hands jitter across the keyboard in response to two cups of the beyond-Turkish strong coffee my wife makes, I ponder as a Progressive (with strange Libertarian undercurrents) the following:

Perhaps the best thing that could possibly happen to the NM Democratic Party is Robert Vigil.

Perhaps the second (or absolute) best thing that could happen is that Bill Richardson is no longer Governor.

And a follow-up question that I've been asking my progressive/liberal friends in recent weeks:

In 2006, who would you vote for as NM Governor: Bill Richardson or Gary Johnson?

And let's add the U.S. House 1 question: Patricia Madrid or the increasingly anti-Bush Heather Wilson (if we are to consider going from basically having continuous political sex with W to voting against him three or four times as an increase)?

Okay, the last one is easy, but Patricia Madrid sure as hell isn't putting a spring in my step to enter the voting booth. In fact, to complete the circle, why do I get the feeling that my voting for Patricia Madrid is kinda like voting for Robert Vigil?

Discuss amongst yourselves......

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rachael Ray or ?

I just finished reading this profile of Rachael Ray from the New York Times (subscription), and a poll question immediately popped into my head.

Is Rachael Ray the single most irritating person on television, period? Maybe since Chris Kattan, even?

I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who would dare state that any current TV "personality" exceeds the insanely high irritation factor of Ms. Ray's sheer perky, bubbly ickiness.

But I'm all ears...can anyone POSSIBLY think of someone more irritating? I don't have that fancy pants "polling capability" on this blog, so just throw other candidates below in comments. Or simply grunt agreement that Rachael Ray is the single most irritating person on television, period.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bill Richardson Weight Political Aspiration Matrix (WPAM)

Looking at the video of Big Bill walking around BMOKorea style, it looks to me like he's lost some weight, and that can only mean one thing. Maybe it was just the camera angle, or the looser, ultra-relaxed fit suit, but he looked significantly slimmer than I remember him recently. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but he looked to be already in "running for something" weight.

As has already been well established, Big Bill's weight fluctuates on a matrix somewhat akin to that of repeatedly divorced men (as described in this Onion news brief). Namely, Bill loses weight, runs for office, wins, gains weight + X lbs., then has to run for office again, loses weight....

The question Bill losing weight to a degree and at a pace that slims him down only to "run for New Mexico Governor in 2006" weight, or is this the uber-diet geared for the massive slimming necessary for a 2008 Presidential bid?

As Big Bill isn't camping out in Iowa and New Hampshire like Russ Feingold (source of some great television when C-SPAN covers Sen. Feingold talking to the seven members of the Manchester Decoupage Society), the best political analysis we can have on his future aspirations is body weight. Given that Big Bill could probably scarf three pints of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia a day and win the 2006 Governor's race, verification of actual weight loss almost definitely confirms a serious Presidential run in '08, in my opinion. Some say the actual seriousness of that campaign will supposedly depend on things like contributions, endorsements and such, but I'm judging from here on out on a simple eye-balling of Big Bill's girth by the end of this year:

(Big Bill in July 2005)

Big Bill waistline same as today, ala John Goodman-lite
Probably just content with Governor in '06; will answer phone when Democratic Presidential Nominee calls about VP slot. Hell, look at Cheney...there's time for some serious eatin' in that gig. Otherwise, it's just SF breakfast burrito mornings melding into burrito afternoons and rolled chicken enchilada evenings for a few more years.

(Big Bill back in '98)

Big Bill noticeably slimmer, like three inches at least , sorta like John McCain

Probably scheduling some future talks with the Manchester Decoupage Society in between sessions with North Korean Nuclear Officials. Tends to forget about certain duties as NM Governor, like the '2007 budget and stuff. Dreams about chocolate eclairs.

(Wesley Clark out of uniform)

Big Bill no longer Big Bill, most closely resembles Wesley Clark in rail-like svelteness, relatively speaking
Planning a full-time, no-holds-barred run at the Presidency when he is not secretly binging on pints of Double Fudge Chocolate Brownie. After bitter loss in Wisconsin Primary, Richardson spends 7 hours at a Golden Corral, ladling melted nacho "cheese" directly into upraised mouth. Or, if things go better for him, he waits to do this at the Golden Corral he has installed into the West Wing of the White House.

If this state has any decent political reporters, they will bring a scale to all future Richardson press events, maybe one of those ones hooked up to a Basketball Scoreboard-large LED read-out behind the podium. Voters around the country (not to mention Ben & Jerry's) would be very, very interested in those constant updates.

Manzanar Memorial, Manzanar War Relocation Camp, CA

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bloggin' Emotional Weather Report

Okay, I've been semi-seriously "blogging" now for a few weeks and can report the following:

  • I still feel completely embarrassed saying...
    • "Uh...I have a blog"
    • "You should read my blog"
    • "I have to go home and blog something"
    • "Well, I fully explain my position on X on my blog"

  • Typical responses of those told for the first time that I blog are:
    • A slightly distorted, crinkled face, similar to that a listener gets when another person admits they (the admitting person) probably need to get a new therapist, because "this current therapist just doesn't understand how much hate, rage, anger and family dysfunction" they must deal with and maybe it's time to just say "screw therapy" and "really just started dishing out all this pent-up rage, really dish it out, big-time."
    • A half-hearted "oh...what's the address of your blog?" in that voice that really says "Please God don't tell me your blog address, because I will then feel guilty when I go nowhere near it, forever."
    • "Blog? Man, you are such a dork."
    • "A blog? Do you get paid for that?"
  • Based on an incredibly small sample size of about ten entries, people reading blogs want:
    • Local subjects
    • High levels of ranting
    • Me to spell words like curmudgeon right

  • Based on this same small sample, readers avoid posts:
    • On national topics of which they can certainly read funnier, more informative posts elsewhere
    • Where I ask about photos of guys passionately kissing
    • Including the use of the word schadenfreude

  • The funniest things that I have seen in recent weeks that I haven't put into a blog entry are:
    • Those alarmist news stories about Ex? State Treasurer Robert Vigil showing up for work, with the video of him in his beyond thinning hair and expensive-looking suit meekly standing before some dorky whiteboard with a dry erase marker in his hand while obviously bored underlings try to avoid looking at the camera, and Stuart Dyson's voice-over saying something like "Onlookers were shocked at the audacity of Vigil to come back to work when he is such a danger to the State's finances".
    • Now that I think about it...anything about Robert Vigil. The whole scandal is pretty darn funny, especially the part where you realize that everybody in State Government going back to the Bruce King administration has known Vigil and Michael Montoya were crooks and brushed it off as "doing business in New Mexico".
    • The camera work on that new show, The Line, on KNME. The show was fine (although I'd quibble that there are too many panelists and enough laughing to make you think they all had about six hits of nitrous oxide right before the show) , but the camera angles were odd in some sort of deliberate Diane Arbus freak show sort of way. For instance, last Friday night ABQ Trib columnist and man about town Gene Grant would be talking and, suddenly, we'd go to this shot where Gene's face would take up the entire screen General Ripper/Dr. Strangelove style for about five seconds. If Gene had been smoking a cigar, I would have sworn Kubrick was directing, or that Arbus was doing still photos for a collection of "Freaks of the 'Burque Press". I can't remember what the heck they were talking about, but Gene's face and image of the incessantly laughing "host" Steve Lawrence will stay with me for a long time.

  • Yes, the above bullet was a total non sequitur and had nothing to do with the rest of this purported "emotional report" idea.
    • In related news, I really enjoy this bullet/outline format too much
    • My guess from seeing Robert Vigil in front of that whiteboard is that he really likes the bullet/outline format, too.

  • Things to Do Today, Robert Vigil, CPA, January 15, 2005

    • Action: Go to Quarter's Restaurant
      • Order Hot Link sandwich
      • Tell Contractor Bob to put $1,900 in paper sack
      • Be sure to tell Bob to stop getting BBQ sauce on sack
    • Action: Hire Sam Bregman as attorney
      • Might need legal help in future, why not I've needed it about every six months for the last 15 years
      • Bregman is good at shrill defense of clients, even those obviously guilty
      • Bregman not shy about camera..he would like to start a new cable network called Sam Bregman!
    • Action: Hide sports memorabilia and "suspected marijuana" better in house
      • Put in garage or other location
      • Smoke stash down to amount below felony range
        • NM law says more than 8 ounces is a felony
        • Got serious "work" to do...Ha, Ha!
Updated: Just noticed BBQ stain reference in recent Cocopost & response...Do great minds think alike, or what? Well, maybe at least blog minds seem comment on how great blog minds might be, in general.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What to Do While We Wait For More Indictments

We on the schadenfreude-dependent Left have come down now from the gleefully intense good times of ten days or so ago, when we got to revel mightily in the knee-snappingly funny bad times of G. Bush and the "Bush Crime Family". Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, people associated with the President that we only know because they got indicted for stuff, not to mention the Harriet Miers nomination and the con/neo-con apoplexy-fest over whether Miers is really, really, really a right-wing anti-abortion wingnut, or just a right-wing anti-abortion woman who dresses like an older version of Florence Henderson in "The Brady Bunch".

So a few days have gone by now, and despite rising levels of "Plamegate Fever" ("Catch It"! trademark) we still haven't heard about indictments of the big Kahuna, the uber-enemy, the Himmler/Goering/Hess-all-rolled-in-one, "Turd Blossom" Karl Rove.

This is frustrating. If we weren't more decorous on the 'Burque Babble we might make an analogy to how this is like almost having an orgasm and then having our partner suddenly roll away and start doing their nails or something. But, as I mentioned, we are too decorous on the 'Burque Babble to make that analogy.

So, what to do while the nation clips its collective hangnail? Well, we could just read about Plamegate, Plame, Joe what's his name, the CIA, Niger, and the rest, but let's face it...what percentage of the population really has any idea what the hell any of that means? Plamegate is like Post-Graduate level Watergate. Frankly, we need simpler scandals, like Bill Frist, for example:

Bill Frist, Doctor - HCA is a hospital company started by Frist's Dad and Brother - Frist has HCA stock in Trust - Frist sells stock right before big news comes out - Frist is a Doctor - Frist is a relative to HCA founders - Frist is a Doctor...

We can handle that one...but most of us can't get past the fact that yellow cake uranium is cake, and boy do we like cake, in fact we'd like some right now!

So studying Plamegate is right out. Instead, let's collect the increasing number of totally funny ass things on the 'Net that celebrate the last few weeks of schadenfreude lust.

Note: These are things you might have seen before, and have already gotten sick of from clicking on for hours. Hey, at least they're collected in one place, and besides, it's a free blog, whaddya expect? Now this is something I wish I had the talent and HTML skillllzzz to create. Funny, funny stuff, with sorta-kinda real drop-downs and such.

Harriet Miers' Blog: Yes, I know, you've already read it, and that you could have done that. But somebody else did first, and the tone is straight out of the most twisted pages of the National Lampoon High School Yearbook Parody (and that's high praise indeed).

Keep enjoying the frothing paranoia of the Right with this little two-parter: First, read the "Weekly World News" story on a lesbian mom who wants to give her 2-year old a sex change; second, read the Free Republic thread about the atrocity. Notice both the number of posts it takes some to realize that the Weekly World News isn't "real" news and the even longer amount of time it takes others to realize how damn funny the Weekly World News is. WWW is really better than the Onion these days, just about up there with the afore-mentioned National Lampoon from days of yore (i.e. my teenage years).

Mark Fiore at the Village Voice makes really good flash animations. Here's his bit on "G.O.P.S." (ala C.O.P.S.), be sure to check out his archives..there's some good stuff in there. And why don't we in ABQ have a Village Voice, and who would be our Michael Musto? I nominate Don Schrader, but he's definitely gonna have to change that altruism act quite a bit. The clothes, however, can stay.

Karl Rove is gotta be one of the most Photoshop-friendly physical specimens in history. Finding a funny Rove shot on the web is easier than finding a crappy bar in downtown Albuquerque. And that's easy. As a public service, your humble blogger has spent significant time trying to find the most ideal, funniest and possibly most unfair example of the Rove Photoshop oeuvre. Here is my current candidate for such a lofty, competitive honor.

I know it' s poorly done, and doesn' t feature the Rove face which is it's own treasure trove of satirical possibilities. But this one from "Unconfirmed Sources" (which has quite a few good ones) combines this photo with a "story" headlined "Disaster Czar Rove Gears Up" about his work to rebuild New Orleans. I gets points for taking Rove in a different direction than the "frog march" photos we're all tired of.

And speaking of tired, we're tired of waiting. We just came off the biggest schadenfreude high (and yes, I realize that's at least the third time I've written schadenfreude and that I'm way too much in love with this word) in recorded liberal 'Net history, and this little intermission lull needs to end. The climax (note we didn't use the word orgasm) can't wait any longer....doesn't this Fitzgerald guy understand scriptwriting, or foreplay?

Drop the hammer now...or we'll just get bored and start eating our own, which is what the Left does so naturally well. Besides, I don't know how much longer this Levitra schadenfreude pill is effective.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Oh, The Good Ole' Days of November, 2004

Here's that anti-Linda Lopez South Valley attack mailer I was writing about the other day.

It's ancient history now, but we got this juicy kissfest (sorry for the poor scan quality, those are two guys) from:

"Citizens for Change" J. Anzures, Treasurer

the Saturday prior to last November's Election.

Sleaziest ad I've ever seen, personally. Did anyone else ever get this thing? Does anyone know anything about it? I'd love to hear the story. Searches for "Citizens for Change" and "J. Anzures" haven't turned up anything. Ideally, I'd find "J. Anzures", strap him/her in "Clockwork Orange" style (Eyes Wide Open) and force him/her to watch about 48 straight hours of gay porn flicks. I'll be the one putting the eye drops in from time to time.

Can anyone hip me to the lowdown on this lowdown sleaze?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ten Reasons I Don't Heart the Balloon Fiesta

My wife keeps bothering me to do an entry on how much Harriet Miers looks like Swoosie Kurtz (here pictured with a dog...just imagine the little dog is W, and you've got an almost spitting image of the nomination press conference), and doubtlessly there is such a striking resemblance as to wonder if Ms. Kurtz isn't more qualified to be a SC Justice (she was in some lawyer-judge kind of TV show once, right?) and just have her sit-in for Miers from the get-go.

Then there's the simple joy of writing a name like Swoosie Kurtz. As a schoolteacher, I like to imagine Kurtz as a student in my class and asking, "Can anyone tell us what they think Harper Lee is saying about racial issues in the South about you Swoosie, what do you think?" I'd fall out of my chair laughing every single time.

Instead, I've decided to officially come out of the closet and publically state my feelings about what might be the #1 Sacred Cow in all of Albuquerque:

I hate the Balloon Fiesta.

Now I know I might as well tell fellow 'Burqueans that I'm a combination sex predator/Tex-Mex food lover. In fact, I hear a siren in the distance meaning that local law enforcement has heard about my feelings and is ready to deport me to Dalhart.

But I really hate the Balloon Fiesta.

Over the course of today, Friday, I'll do a David Letterman-esque Top Ten List on quaaludes countdown of reasons why.

Reason #10: Invariably a day comes where I'm teaching Literature at a local middle school in October, just getting into a fascinating discussion on the use of irony in Kurt Vonnegut, when all the sudden we hear this Church Organ-esque WHAAMMMMMMMMMPPPPP of air release right over our head sounding like the Ruskies just set off a huge Redi-Whip dessert topping canister on top of us. Kids rush to the window and, sure enough, there's somebody trying to land a large wobbly brightly-colored craft onto our dinky little playfield. The kids press noses to the window in a frenzy of excitement they never show toward Kurt Vonnegut. I find myself almost rooting for the local trees and electrical lines to ensnare the gondola or something.

Hey...I said almost. It's not like I actively WANT the balloonists to die or anything. Really.

Here's #9: The Big-I, cars with out-of-state plates...'nuff said.

#8: I'm not a morning person. Every year in early October I have several conversations with people chipper about getting up at 4:00 A.M. to go see balloons. I wouldn't get up at 4:00 to see Jesus re-appear, even if he brought Buddha and Muhammed with him as a backing band. The conversation with these Chipper People invariably goes like this:

Chipper Person: I'm going to the balloon fiesta tomorrow!
Me: Oh.
Chipper Person: Yeah, we're getting up at 4:00!
Me: (pained expression) Oh.
Chipper Person: It's great, you really ought to go, you want to meet up somewhere at say 4:30?
Me: No.
Chipper Person: Why not?!? It'll be great!
Me: I wouldn't get up at 4:00 to see Jesus re-appear...

(Long, increasingly painful silence)

Chipper Person: Well, I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!
Me: Oh.

#7: Those 9:30 P.M. teasers for the local 10:00 TV news that attempt to tie everything back to Albuquerque and those stinkin' balloons....

THIS IS TOM JOLES, Tonight at 10, FIRST ON FOUR, Six U.S. Soldiers Are Killed In Iraq, find out local reaction tonight from Balloon Fiesta Park, and speaking of the fiesta, ONLY ON FOUR, LIVE BREAKING COVERAGE OF Richard Abruzzo's views on the ongoing debate in Kansas between the teaching of Evolution and Intelligent Design. Abruzzo recently crashed his balloon in Kansas and he tells Eyewitness News' Colleen MAH o nay (who is evidently not Irish in heritage but some form of Athabascan Native American) his views on the educational debate in that State. Plus, weatherman Larry Rice inexplicably stands out LIVE at a darkened Balloon Fiesta Park to tell us how Typhoon Brittany off the coast of Japan might impact winds at tomorrow morning's launch. THAT'S TONIGHT... ONLY ON FOUR.

The town's cyn-o-meter (level of expressed cynicism) drops to near zero. Even the snarkiest among us in the ABQ blogosphere switch from our typical "Gov. Bill Richardson Brings Gavel Down on Special Session Devoted to Gov. Bill Richardson" entries to "Look at my Flickr folder of delightful Special Shapes Glowdeo shots I Just Took".

#5: '
Burqueans are required to listen and dutifully remember new vocabulary phrases like "Special Shapes Glowdeo", "Mass Ascension", "Chase Crews" and "Propane Day" (Hank Hill must be proud), and we are also supposed to alter our definition of "Afterglow" from its proud sexual connotation to that of a stupid trademarked reference to a fireworks show after the balloons "Glowdeo" (another trademarked expression). I will refrain until New Year's Eve to post my "Ten Reasons I Hate Fireworks Shows" blog entry.

#4: The Balloon Fiesta seems to draw an inordinate number of people who like to have bright, colorful and balloon-oriented applique sweaters. You know, those sweaters with typically cute-to-the-point-of-gagging little designs stuck on them. Here's an example being sold on Amazon right now.

Anyway, my Mother loves applique sweaters, as do most older female Elementary School Teachers. 'Burque therefore fills for two weeks with thousands of people looking just like my Mom and/or Ms. Christian, the most evil schoolteacher in the history of the State of Texas (my childhood home). There is something quite psychologically traumatic having your new city, far from the hometown you never wish to revisit, filled to the brim with dopplegangers of your Mom and all-time least favorite teacher. Really, I love my Mom fine...but every October I am filled with both a strange guilt and the desire to toilet paper someone's house.

#3: Unlike most applique sweater types, animals do not love the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Getting a little more serious for a minute, how many of us have house pets who ABSOLUTELY freak out with that WHAAAAAAAMMMMMPPPPP overhead sound? Now have a 1700 pound pet. As some of you know, we have a few horses around our pitiful excuse for a Ag-burb horse "ranch". Horses generally feel about balloons the way Earthlings feel about the Vogon Spaceship announcing the planet's demolition in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". We're talking true mortal dread, panic in the streets, "dogs and cats living together" terror.

Just for this reason alone, it is my position that the Balloon Fiesta should be done away with, along with all fireworks. Hmmm...there seems to be a strange bond between fireworks, firework shows and Balloon Fiesta. Both are highly visual, both bother the hell out of animals, both attract large numbers of people who repeatedly say in unison "Ooooooohhhhhhh" and "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh" while looking up at the sky like a bunch of trained seals peering upward to a dangling herring.

It almost makes we wish the Vogons WERE here to put in an Hyperspace Bypass.

#2: The terribly uninviting Hotel 6 on I-25 down around Cesar Chavez has a electronic sign with the price for a night's room on it. Befitting the depressing prospect of staying in such a lousy place right next to a noisy Interstate the price for a room usually shows $33.99, sometimes $37.99, but only during Balloon Fiesta does it jump up to $43.99. 'Burque has about 50,000 hotel rooms that only fill during the Fiesta, but of course that doesn't stop hoteliers from building more largely unused ugly concrete structures, relying pretty much solely on the price gouging opportunities the Fiesta provides.

Then there are the corporate sponsorships for the Fiesta, a list of which takes up a long web page. In our little, largely corporate-free, town the Fiesta is about the only event that has an Official Outerwear Supplier (Columbia), but then again it's the only ABQ event I can think of that has even trademarked the name of the event itself.


And the #1 reason I hate the Balloon Fiesta (trademark) is:

'Burque can't claim to have the best drivers in the world. Our biggest claim to automobile driving fame (besides the Unsers, who aren't that famous anymore, anyway) is the wide array of driving speeds on our highways. From personal experience and asking of others, I've heard of no other town where 20% of the drivers consistently drive 15-25 m.p.h below the posted speed limit, while another 40% simultaneously drive 15-25 m.p.h above the posted speed limit. It's like a strange communal bi-polarity.

Now throw hundreds of visual distractions into the mix and you have a Balloon Fiesta morning on I-25. The only road surface more dangerous these days is the drive to the Baghdad airport.

I had to make a run north last weekend (if for no other reason than to avoid Balloon Fiesta) and ended up northbound on I-25 about 8:45 on Saturday morning. Life expectancies instantly drop about 20 years; one is surrounded by other drivers pointing out the balloons to their passengers, as cars skitter between lanes, off the shoulder, toward your car. All laws and rules about driving go away faster than a civil liberty in a war on Terror.

But it's okay...."there's balloons!"

The traffic folks put up signs saying something about "No Balloon Viewing Allowed on Roadside", so instead we have the viewing IN the road AT speeds ranging from 5 to 105 m.p.h. Oh, there are wrecks, bad wrecks. Fortunately, I now live in the South Valley and don't face the daily Fiesta carnage I used to living in the North Valley.

But it's okay, "there's balloons!"

Yes, balloons make it all worthwhile: deadly driving conditions, applique sweaters, waking up at 4 a.m., even trademarked "fun". As for me, the highlight of any Balloon Fiesta is the teary-eyed farewell from Carla Aragon and the rest of the ABQ "news" folks as they bid their mind-numblingly soft Fiesta "news" adieu for another year.

Things return to normal: the Motel 6 drops the prices back, the WHAAAAAAMMMMPPPPPP sounds are gone, the local blogs get back to cynically deriding politicians and the Journal, and we can get back to our perfectly good, albeit smoggy, blue skies and beautiful sunrises devoid of the brightly colored globules that so many love, but a few of us really, really can't stand.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Let's Play Guess the City Election Winners! Updated...

But first, I've decided that the only real fun in reading political blogs is in reading the side opposite to yours politically. To wit, check out the Free Republic/Red State immediate reaction to Harriet ( "are we to believe that this woman hasn't had sex outside of marriage over the past several decades? ") Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court.

Maybe killing all the political bloggers from both sides DOES makes sense, after all.

Okay, now, before I am killed as part of the anti-blogger pogrom, a few guesses on tomorrow's city elections.

Mayor: Marty wins without a runoff with 49 percent. Griego pops out a 23%, edging Winter (19%) for the Silver Medal while the Jello Biafra-meets-Lyndon LaRouche types give David "Plan Nine from Outer Space" Steele 5%. Four percent of the ballots are later found in Ohio, ready for possible use in the 2008 Presidential Election.

Pretty much right here...obviously this town doesn't have as many Jello Biafra fans as I thought...Steele gets 2%?

CC #1: Miguel Gomez over Ken Sanchez. Sanchez then officially moves to a residence in District 2, 4, 6 or 8, it really doesn't matter.

Wrong! This is bad news, I'm guessing.

CC #3: Issac Benton over Diana Dorn-Jones (hmmm...hyphenated name... there's a theory there somewhere). More importantly, I think the Orwellian "framing" (and boy do I hate that word) of:

Diana = Marty (now throw us Liberals a bone)

from the crunchy granola types near the University has swung this toward Benton. Not to mention the little bankruptcy/tax lien imbroglio, which I mention only as an excuse to put the word imbroglio in this blog entry.

Ding! Maybe this cancels out the Sanchez win to an extent.

CC #5: Michael Cadigan over Betty Valdez, boring.

ZZZZZ....but I did read that "Cadigan for Mayor 2009" idea with some interest.

CC #7: Maryanne Dickinson over Sally Mayer and assorted mob. This is my wishful thinking lotto guess. C'mon District Seven, go District Seven, you can do it District Seven! Seven! Seven! Seven!

Ack! Not unexpected, but then neither is a hangover after a bottle of cheap tequila.

CC#9: Let's see evil/good....absolute evil 9th Level Slime Monster v. 3rd Level Paladin armed only with a +1 vorpal sword and two-round cloak of invisibility. Tina Cummings or Chris Catechis? I haven't played Dungeons & Dragons in years, but my Paladins always got their butts kicked and I'm afraid Catechis will too. Cummings wins, gets the vorpal sword and another 4 hit points.

Little did I know that some Half-Elf Assassin Cleric with dubious charisma ratings would whack both Cummings and Catechis.

Minimum Wage: See evil/good theory above. I don't think it passes, even though polls are looking good. Turnout is really important here...and it's a direct Griego/"Living" Wage slider, the more Griego support the better the chance for "Living Wage". Unfortunately, many folks are seeing Griego as hopeless and there's no District 6 race to pull lots of uber-liberals into the mix. Close but fails.

This one matters, because if I'm right several people will owe me beers. I need this one....who cares about the people and their "living wage"? ...I'm gonna get free beers here!

This is the one that should instantly catapult me into some cushy "expert" gig on a local Stuart Dyson-esque talk show where I get to say things like "well Stuart, the people of Albuquerque don't like crime" and "well Stuart, the Balloon Fiesta brings in needed tourism revenue despite the large number of fatal automobile accidents it causes." The lousy 31% turnout helped kill this measure, barely.

Meanwhile, now I get to look forward to buying that free six-pack of Stone IPA with other people's money and telling the clerk, "Hey, I got this beer free because the Living Wage initiative didn't pass!" I'm sure the clerk and I will share a jolly laugh over that zinger.

Public Campaign Finance: Passes, and one wonders...just who doesn't want campaign finance reform? Oh, wait, got my answer. Great idea to put this on the ballot, by the way.

Giving the rich Big Brother paranoids something to worry about.

Implement Voter ID: Despite sharing thoughts with some who feel this is nothing but a rabid Republican attempt to lower turnout in upcoming elections, I do think the voting system in New Mexico is half-assed to the point of non-assedness. But this isn't about me. It's about me and what I think will happen tomorrow. I'm saying this passes easily, which is easy to say because it pulled some ridiculous 80% or some-such in the much vilified (albeit perfectly fine) ABQ Journal poll (ridiculously expensive subscription possibly required). Yes, the margin of error was too high, but isn't it always too high in a local/state race?

Giving the poor Big Brother paranoids something to worry about. Hey, that's me! I'm worried, well a bit.