Thursday, September 30, 2004

Breaking the Record

Ichiro is three away from breaking George Sisler's 1927 record of 257 base hits in a single MLB season.  Around here, there's much talk about whether Ichiro should break the record at an away game or wait until he gets home to Safeco Field.


Ichiro should not concentrate on breaking a record.  He should only do what he does well, hit the ball and let the chips fall where they may.

If he breaks Sisler's record at an away game, then he can jolly well set a NEW record at a home game.  That's the way I see it.  Stupid Mariners fans.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Federal Inmate Martha Stewart

It was reported today that Martha Stewart may be going to the federal women's correctional facility at Alderson, West Virginia (my sister's home state).  The minimum security prison has been nicknamed "camp cupcake" due to its laxity and lenience.  Inmates typically perform light duty yard work, or sometimes knit items for charity.  One can only imagine how much a hand-knit sweater by Martha Stewart would fetch in an auction on e-Bay, especially one knitted while in the pokey.

Isn't it all just too ridiculous?

In English Common Law, there were two categories of crime: felonies and misdemeanors.  Felonies always carried the ultimate penalty--execution.  Misdemeanors were lesser crimes that usually carried a prison sentence.  Most of the felonies we now know as felonies, once were punished by death.  Nowadays, people are sent to Camp Cupcake.  Is it a better world for that?  Probably.  I recently read a figure that there are over 4,000 federal crimes that could earn you prison time.  It's getting harder and harder to avoid committing one or more of them, especially when you don't know what most of them really are.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Boiling gaseous energy, swarms of small earthquakes, hot molten rock rising slowly through an intractable crust:  Mount St. Helens?  No, the Kerry campaign.

The comeback kid can't campaign for JFK due to his recent heart bypass surgery, so he sent the next best thing--his best and brightest, to help bring about a sea-change in this election.  And you can tell--the pit bulls of the GOP have unleashed their reductive, minimalizing attacks on the senator, calling him all kinds of names and attacking his character, which the GOP loves to do.  (By the way, why do we always pronounce it "jee oh pee", huh?  Why not call it for what it is: the stuff you dig out of a septic tank: "gop" something that rhymes with "cop" and "slop").  They're attacking.  They're on the defensive.  Meanwhile, Kerry keeps his course straight ahead, sure of his ability to save America from this gang of thieves in the White House and their incompetent masthead.

The tide is turning; you can feel it, just like the mini temblors deep inside Mt. St. Helens indicate.  I feel it in the soles of my feet, in my ankles, my knees.  A positive thrumming.  The electorate is waking up. 

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Return of the King on DVD

Peter Jackson's Return of the King, which won Best Picture at the 2003 Academy Awards, will be extended by 30% in its upcoming DVD release (December 14).  Hopefully, one scene will feature Gandalf preventing Witch King from entering Minas Tirith, which was one of my favorite moments in the book.  As Gandalf the White, he is able to do what he could not do as Gandalf the Grey at the Bridge of Khazad Dum.  That has nice symmetry, and it was missed in the film.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Cintra Wilson

Last night went to Cintra Wilson's reading at Elliott Bay Bookstore.  She was superb, actually having memorized her reading as a monologue, and performing it.  Her biting, satirical invective was as delightful as her comestible figure.  Beauty, brains and 'tude.  What more can one desire from an evening?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Censorship in Hollywood

Last week I watched The Birth of a Nation for the first time.  In the special features, the narrator quoted from a Supreme Court case that held First Amendment rights did not apply to motion pictures.  Fascinated, I did some research and found the quote.  The case was Mutual v. Ohio.  The money quote:

"It cannot be put out of view that the exhibition of moving pictures is a business, pure and simple, originated and conducted for profit, like other spectacles, not to be regarded, nor intended to be regarded by the Ohio Constitution, we think, as part of the press of the country, or as organs of public opinion. They are mere representations of events, of ideas and sentiments published and known; vivid, useful, and entertaining, no doubt, but, as we have said, capable of evil, having power for it, the greater because of their attractiveness and manner of exhibition. It was this capability and power, and it may be in experience of them, that induced the state of Ohio, in addition to prescribing penalties for immoral exhibitions, as it does in its Criminal [236 U.S. 230, 245] Code, to require censorship before exhibition, as it does by the act under review. We cannot regard this as beyond the power of government."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Friend Due In

Today my friend Steve is coming to visit from Minnesota.  I'm really excited.  I love showing off my city and region and he's never been here before.  I just hope that the weather cooperates at least somewhat.  The old saw about Seattle is if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.  And generally that's true.  In Alaska they may have fifty different words that mean snow.  In Seattle, it seems it would be handy to have at least fifty different words to mean rain.  The hard, cold rain, the hard warm rain, the drizzle, the mist.  The mist is my favorite, the consistency of the spray they use in Las Vegas to keep people from dying of heat stroke as they trudge from casino to casino in high summer.  Seattle's weather encourages poetry and other literary aspirations.  Although not all are gothic like mine, the gloom, the chill and the sudden expansion of the landscape on sunny days reinforces my emotional ambivalence. 

It's true, I need miracle ear.  Was talking to my coworker Joyce yesterday and almost thought I was being harrassed.  I heard a sigh, and what I thought were the words, "On me!"  When what she actually said, when I asked for clarification was, "ennui!"  Mama mia.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Yesterday was Washington state primary.  For the first time in 70 years voters were asked to declare a political party and vote strictly within those party lines.  I did not find it at all onerous.  In the privacy of my voting booth I could have crossed party lines and made spoiler votes, but I couldn't then vote for my choice within my own party.  And that, it seems to me, is as it should be. 

However, none of my choices won.  :(

I'm looking forward to seeing Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which, if you're not familiar is the first film made entirely with live actors in a CGI environment.  Only the props and costumes are real.  The actors were filmed in front of a blue screen and all the scenic elements were then added after the fact.  Is this the look of things to come?  George Lucas has elsewhere said about the advent of digital imaging in Jurassic Park that viewing it was like being present at the birth of sound in cinema.  Someday we'll all look back and wonder how we ever did without it.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Birth of a Blog

Writing a blog is not necessarily writing a daily essay, though at times one may get it right the first time.  While I take care to correct spelling and grammatical errors, my purpose here is to present raw, streaming thought process, unfiltered and unselfcensored.  To that end, although when confronted with a factual error, I will correct it, I do not respond to allegations or accusations of faulty reasoning.  If you disagree, I invite you to say so!  I will never remove a comment because I disagree with it--only if it violates AOL's rules of conduct (post nothing pornographic, racist or anti-Semitic).  I write from a primarily emotional place, not a rational place, although I hope that reason does intrude upon my consciousness.  I trust to my upbringing and education to make it so.

This weekend I saw three silent films rented from Netflix.  In the order of viewing they were: Salome, Lot in Sodom and The Birth of a Nation

Salome (1923) was loosely adapted from Oscar Wilde's play and starred Alla Nazimova, Russian stage actress who studied with Constantin Stanislavski and was famously lesbian.  The production did more for my understanding of the play than any other performance I've seen.  It is about the awakening female sexuality, the attraction, the consummation, the inevitable aftermath of self-loathing which leads to death and more death.  This was the female psyche as Wilde saw it, at its symbolic fundament.  There was a reason why female sexuality is utterly harnessed by the mores of Western Civilization, and this is Wilde's explanation.  As Ann Coulter has aptly put it elsewhere, "Women are so vicious."

Lot in Sodom is very interesting historically as the first queer movie.  It is self-consciously arty.  The Sodomites are presented as beautiful youths cavorting through a temple (elsewhere, temple prostitution has been proffered as the reason for biblical prohibitions on homosexuality, which I do not have time to discuss here).  The first fifteen minutes of this 30 minute film is devoted to male beauty.  The end focuses on the destruction of Sodom in a rain of fire and brimstone: the inevitable end of unfettered sexual freedom.

I had not seen the entirety of The Birth of a Nation before this weekend.  My Introduction to American Film class was supposed to screen itwhen I was in college at PLU, but the print melted in the projector and Dr. Becvar was so distraught that he canceled class.  I have now seen the whole film, thanks to Netflix, and only one word can encapsulate the experience:


The film is the most overtly racist propaganda I have ever seen, thrillingly presented with the highest artful vision, next to Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will

The film proves beyond a doubt that the cinema can project beauty, grace, artfulness, symmetry and synchronicity in the service of a higher good, which humanizes and ennobles, but it can use those same artful principles in the service of evil.

For those who haven't seen The Birth of a Nation, the second half of the film deals with the response of southern white gentlemen to the horrors of the reconstruction, and suspected efforts to turn their society upside down to have blacks in control of whites through gerrymandered elections and the horrors of interracial marriage.  The whites respond by creating a secret society to battle the forces of darkness, the Ku Klux Klan, based (loosely) on Scotish freedom fighters.

Without doubt, The Birth of a Nation created the language of the cinema: the moving camera, cross cuts, fade-in, fade-out, split screen, panning shots, long shots, close-ups, editing that intercut three simultaneous stories leading to a thrilling climax, the Ride of the KKK, set to music, appropriately enough, by Wagner. 

So, while I'm glad I finally saw The Birth of a Nation for its historical significance, I cannot recommend the experience for anyone else.  One of the things I remember Dr. Becvar talking about with reference to D.W. Griffith was his tendency toward sentimentality, a charge frequently leveled at Steven Spielberg throughout his career as well.  That Griffith succumbed to Thomas Dixon's version of American history bespeaks the kind of naivete that comes from an idealized and sheltered world view.  His racism was, for its day, a kind of paternalistic attitude of superiority.  He couldn't be said to hate blacks, on the contrary, he felt parental toward them.  Griffith was quoted as saying that he loved blacks just like he loved children.  Interesting that Andrew Card has also said the same thing about George W. Bush.  That the president considers America as a nation of children needing a father/leader to provide for us (and teach us discipline and right from wrong, of course).  It was as distasteful in Griffith's day as it is today.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Riverman

"People will say we're in love..."  -Hannibal Lecter.

In the mid-80's King County sheriff's detective Dave Reichert is given the responsibility of leading the investigation into a series of homicides that come to be known as the Green River murders.  As part of his investigation, Reichert enlists help from the former lead investigator of the "Ted" murders in Seattle, Bob Keppel, who has since gone on to become a criminology professor at the University of Washington.  When Bundy left Seattle for Utah his name was at the top of Keppel's list of suspects, and Keppel has always regretted not "getting his man."  As the body count in the Green River investigation grows, so does media interest.  Far away in Stark, Florida, Ted Bundy, now on death row for the murders of several Florida women, writes to Keppel offering his insights into "the Riverman" as Bundy calls him.

Keppel decides to take Bundy up on his offer.  Both men have ulterior motives, Bundy to stay the executioner's hand, and Keppel, to close the books on eight unsolved Seattle murders attributed to Ted, but for which Bundy has never confessed.  Thus begins a mano-a-mano battle of wits between the professor and the psychopath to get what they both desire.  History records that Keppel succeeded and Bundy did not.  The meeting of these two minds is so explosive that it's no wonder it inspired the novel and film "the Silence of the Lambs."

The A&E production, based on Dr. Keppel's book, is a grim, dark television experience, with little humor (mostly at Dave Reichart's expense); a peeling away of the layers of psychopathology and game playing of a serial killer.  Cary Elwes is a good actor, and his transformation into Bundy is complete.  He has Bundy's speech pattern down pat, his slight lisp and manic charm.  Veteran Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood plays Bob Keppel with just the right mix of heart and revolted obsession.  British Director Bill Eagles has crafted a finely tuned work of psychological horror well worth a two hour viewing.  This movie will fascinate those who enjoy police procedurals and the history of crime.

I regret never having taken Keppel's legendary murder class at the University of Washington, and he has since moved on to Sam Houston University in Texas.  However, his insights into the minds of serial killers can be found in two exceptional books on the subject,  The Riverman, and Signature Killers.  Both are currently in print.

Thursday, September 9, 2004


Had a good night of writing last night.  Honing in on some ideas for the novel which are tantalizing.  Perception v. reality: always a theme that interests me. 

Currently reading: You Are Not a Stranger Here, Adam Haslett (short stories); Choke, Chuck Palahnuik; and The Cabinet of Curiosities, Preston/Child (audio).

Fall is falling.  Cooler temperatures and grayer skies.  Much appreciated.  This summer's heat almost did me in.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

No Log Cabin Endorsement for W

It's official.  The Log Cabin Republicans will not endorse president Bush for reelection.  The partisan side of me says, "congratulations for coming to your senses."  But the cynical side of me says, "well that announcement ought to raise Bush's poll numbers even higher."

In other queer news, a second Washington state superior court judge has ruled the Washington state DOMA unconstitutional.  With such dissent in the rank and file of the judiciary, it's been predicted that the case will bypass the court of appeals and go directly to the Washington state supreme court. 

What do I think of this?  I'm personally probably meant to be single, but I certainly think that expanding civil rights is always a better idea than expanding discrimination and bigotry, especially in the constitution.


Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Vile Rumor?

Okay, this rumor comes third-hand.  But only third-hand.  No further afield than that.  Last week, one of my writer colleagues shocked me nearly senseless with this story.  Her brother was formerly in the secret service: he has now transferred to another government position.  He was on duty guarding Vice President Cheney on September 11, 2001.  It was his understanding and belief that Vice President Cheney gave the order to shoot down Flight 93, the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania, and that the flight was indeed shot down intentionally by the U.S. military. 

So, I've done a little checking around on the internet since then.  This rumor has been around ever since 9/11.  It has the ring of truth because of two things: 1) the flight crashed in a very sparsely populated area.  2) The vice president discussed downing the planes with the president, that the president had made the decision to shoot down hijacked planes, but that it had never come to that. 

Afterwards, the decision to reinforce the story of heroic passengers battling the terrorists for control of the plane was made in order to spare the nation the added emotional crisis of having one of the hijacked planes downed by friendly fire.  This does not diminish the actions of the passengers trying to regain control of the aircraft, they showed valor and courage in the face of a suicidal enemy.  Clearly, this attempt was made--the cockpit voice recorder and several cell phone calls from passengers on the flight make this clear.

This rumor has the ring of truth to me.  If true, I understand the decision to not only shoot down the plane, but also to keep the truth from the nation.  And to disclose the truth now only begs the question: what else have we been lied to about?

Monday, September 6, 2004

Successful Surgery

President Clinton (he's still my president, no matter what anybody says) has survived his bypass surgery and is now in recovery.  I wish him a quick, safe and sure convalescence.  All my love, best wishes and yes, even prayers, (which I don't do very often at all) are with you, my Captain.

Friday, September 3, 2004

Screen Name Service

Screen Name Service is a shared function of AOL, Netscape and Compuserve.  For more information about creating a screen name, please click HERE.  Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

mea culpa

Okay, I think I have it figured out.  My apologies to those who have met with resistance trying to post comments to my blog.  It appears that what I've been doing after posting my entry, is closing my browser window instead of logging off AOL first.  Please do me a favor and try this experiment: I will now save this entry and log off of AOL.  Would you please try posting a comment to this entry and see if it works?  That way we can hopefully rule out any other reason why people who wish to comment have met with no success.  Thanks mucho!  Have a great Labor Day everyone!

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Death of Civility

The invective, the vitriol, the sheer passionate hatred that seems to be simmering like steam from a pressure cooker under the politics of this election season, has it always been this way, or is it worse now than it has ever been?

All of the genocide in the 20th Century began with words, with propaganda that first disenfranchised a section of the population, and ultimately cast them as evil parasites that threatened the supporting pillars of civilization.  It's easier to send someone to the gas chamber when you think they're less than human.  Rob them of their dignity and rights, then send them off to the camps.

We live in an Orwellian nightmare where politicians speak in elaborate codewords and phrases, and leave it to the faithful to decrypt.  Hypocrisy is policy: double-speak, disinformation and propaganda, the old tools with which we fought communism, are now freely employed against Americans.  If we're not with you, we're traitors, unAmerican.  I'm a uniter, not a divider, and if you don't unite with me, then, well, you're unAmerican.  And of course, anyone who chafes at being demonized is going to react.  And so the cycle turns.

For a moving and persuasive comparison/contrast of the DNC and RNC keynote speakers, see Andrew Sullivan's blog.  Scroll down the page to the Zell Miller entries.

Wednesday, September 1, 2004


A label:  a word or short phrase descriptive of a larger, more voluminous substance.  "Homosexual" and "Gay" are labels.  But they do not describe the same substance.  They are not interchangeable.  They are not synonymous.  Now we have a Virginia congressman, a Republican, forced to resign over allegations that he, a 63 year old married man, solicited another man for sex over a phone dating service.  The newspaper accounts call that "gay."  It's not.  It's homosexual.  There's a big difference.  A homosexual tries to have it both ways: he wants the good life that comes from toeing the line, social conformity, and paying lip service to "family values" and "character."  Appearances are the only things that matter.  His private life is not only private, it's duplicitous--a lie, a profound example of extreme hypocrisy. 

However, this is learned behavior.  And the teacher is fear.  The effect of living a double-life is so damaging, so soul-crushing, that I do pity the man.  He was a naval officer for years--who survived during an era when Reagan's witch hunt through the military ruined many a career.  So I understand, but cannot condone.  I pity him for his pain.  But it is a pain he chose.  Granted, society would not have provided him with the good life he sought if he had told the truth.  But what's the price?  Vilified by everyone.  Truth and honesty still mean something in this world.