Friday, February 29, 2008
A 'slasher' horror movie may or may not be your bag - as in body bag - and by no means would I insist you sit through one, not even this one, if it would not amuse you. The movie I refer to The Cellar Door, a nasty little number about a homicidal killer who looks vaguely like someone you've seen in commercials, who is drawn to comely women who loll about their unsecured apartments scantily clad, and seems to have lots of time on his hands. Yes, one of those.
It was written by a thoroughly reprehensible person with whom I have cultivated friendship as a way of, hopefully, taming him and channeling him into socially redeeming pursuits. So far, I have failed miserably.
The movie played in a few cities and is now coming out on DVD. It is also up on NetFlix, and those of you with NetFlix are in a position to do me and my emerging family a small favor. Here's the deal: if lots of people put our movie in their queue, NetFlix will buy more DVD's.
Would you NetFlix people be so kind as to put our movie in your queue? You don't have to watch the movie when it arrives, and if you do take some little pleasure in watching my filleting, that's none of my business.
Thank you ever so much!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Q. You can get the Congress to protect telecom companies from lawsuits, but then there's no recourse for Americans who feel that they've been caught up in this. I know it's not intended to spy on Americans, but in the collection process, information about everybody gets swept up and then it gets sorted. So if Americans don't have any recourse, are you just telling them, when it comes to their privacy, to suck it up?
THE PRESIDENT: I wouldn't put it that way, if I were you, in public. Well, you've been long been long enough to -- anyway, yes.
I ain't got the dough
And sure would love it so
If I could defer my student loans
But they say no, no, no.
Yes, I been poor,
I try to earn more,
But can't get flow, flow, flow.
I ain't got the dough
And sure would love it so
Wanna defer the student loans
But they say no, no no.
(With a bow to Amy Winehouse...)
Monday, February 25, 2008
Well, I won't do it. That flyer from the Knightsbridge Theatre is STILL on my windshield as of Monday night. It flies like a tiny flag, wappa-dappa-flappa down the freeway. Of course, it might blow off and fall into the ocean along with business cards and Chinese restaurant menus ("CHEF TO-MAYN - YOU WON'T HAVE TO GO TO WORK TOMORROW") and real estate circulars and diverse crap emblazoned with advertising messages, floated into the marketplace (and the ecosystem) like forlorn messages in bottles, with no thought given to them beyond the advertising itself. Then you have to clean it up, and if you complain, you are cast as an opponent of free speech.
At the Zen Center, I charged this collision of free speech abuse and rubbish disposal when I noticed we were getting hit every single day with a little plastic bag full of advertisements that were of no interest to us. Every day, the entire neighborhood got deliveries of these baggies, flung into their hedges, hung from their doorknobs, and so on. No phone number on the bag. No phone number on the website listed on the bag.
I became curious. I investigated and finally got a corporate office and a phone number and, well, I was Alice in Wonderland. They said they would take us off their "delivery list" and never did; the righteously defended their right to litter in the name of the First Amendment, and would hear no entreaty; and then they stopped taking my calls.
Clearly my value system is screwed up.
A plot was conceived - a collection of all these baggies advertising dental products and work-at-home schemes and psychic readings and suchlike pooh, until the back of a truck was full of them, followed by a visit to said corporate office with a very special delivery - an innocent mission to return "something you dropped."
Conceived, yes; spoken aloud to other people, even. Yet the garden needed work, and then something else came up, and the mood passed. But I still send my junk mail to Bank of America, by God; and I ask telemarketers if I can call them back on their home phone.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
On a similar note, Frank Rich of the New York Times examines Senator Clinton's "disheveled campaign" and is surprised that "this is the candidate who keeps telling us she’s so competent that she’ll be ready to govern from Day 1."
I think the parallel he tries to draw between Hillary Clinton's primary campaign and the Bush Administration's handling of the Iraq war is a bit strained. He has, however, examined the management of the campaign and, well, we have to wonder why they underestimated the senator from Illinois, why they let themselves get so outflanked, why they still aren't in Vermont if they're planning to "go all the way" as they vowed, why they don't understand the Texas primary-caucus system yet - and why this "inexperienced" upstart who allegedly lacks substance has out-organized her?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We paid a visit to the Los Angeles Equestrian Center with friends and watched horses jump over things. After this, Sarah needed a hamburger, so went to one of our favorite places in Los Feliz village and bought her some meat.
A day later, our travels took us to Orange County where Sarah and her bellydancing trio wiggled and shimmied at a Viet Namese fundraising event - all I could make out is that this was benefitting a village back home - at the auditorium of the Santa Ana High School. Before they came out, I sat through more than an hour of pop songs and power ballads all in Viet Namese and applauded announcements I did not comprehend.
You know, a typical weekend.
On the world stage, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, and was immediately recognized by the United States. Fidel Castro resigned as President of Cuba, ending 49 years of rule there. Pakistan held its elections, which had been postponed following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and to everyone's surprise the ruling party acknowledged defeat.
Again - just your average run-of-the-mill weekend.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I am going to hide under this bed until Congress allows Caesar to tap my phone with impunity!
At midnight, instead of the invasive Protect America Act, we will be forced to investigate and disrupt terrorists using the more "constitutional" (read: terrorist-loving!) FISA law. And that's just not good enough. Our Leader must have unbridled power to surveil us and keep us safe from any threat, unspecified or theoretical, from now until the end of history. We need a permanent infrastructure to spy on all our communications!
Unless we give our President the right to surveil our communications without a warrant, our nation stands on the brink of disaster.
So I have torn up and burned every copy of the Bill of Rights I could find in the house - including my freedom-hating neighbors' copies - and now I am sequestered under this bed until the President sounds the all clear and tells me, in those short sentences of his, that America has been scrubbed clean of due process and checks and balances that make us vulnerable to terror.
Friday, February 15, 2008
No, it isn't.
And no, I'm not a neo-Luddite old fart who resists new technology. Get over yourself. Here at Notes From A Burning House, we love the internet (obviously! hello, blogosphere!), and all those social networking sites on which you spend your leisure time. If we were on Facebook, we'd throw you a sheep to prove how "with it" we are.
We have very good words in this old language of ours, and we have very powerful verb form of "friend" that already does the job you are trying to do when you take a noun and force it to pretend it's a verb.
The verb is BEFRIEND.
Human beings have befriended one another throughout history. You don't "friend" anybody. You also don't car to work, beer yourself at the end of the day, or advil your headache.
To be fair, we have to admit that some nouns have become accepted as verbs. We "mail" things to one another. We also telephone people, but we don't "cell" them - at least not yet. In Los Angeles, many people are "gunned down" year after year. Okay, these things happen.
We will not, however, "friend" you. On the other hand, we are always happy to befriend you and welcome your comments.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Recently on Oprah Winfrey's show, five people submitted to a happiness test, where their happiness was judged by a psychologist who writes books about happiness. He is the director of no less an endeavor than the Happiness Project.
Petitionary religion and magic are doing very well in the spiritual marketplace. Yet all of the videos and seminars are powerless to bring me the improbable joy of sitting in this place right now. And the reason for that isn't arcane or mystical in the slightest. The joke is that in order to seek or confirm our happiness, we have to depart from the center where actual happiness resides. We leave our center and go look for more books or classes to tell us how to be our true selves. Zen teachers are always testing our center, yanking on our eyebrows to see if we move. Once we are in on the joke, we get to hit the Zen Master and say, "I don't need your dharma," as the hilarious story of Hyang Bong reminds us.
The aspiration of a Zen teacher, however, is that you will one day believe in your true center. The wildest thing is to be right here.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"No! I'm not a muslim," she said, but then she came right back at me with, "You're wearing the hat!"
Monday, February 11, 2008
Sunday, February 10, 2008
On 31 January 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had a debate in Hollywood - just a short drive from my apartment, as a matter of fact, at the Kodak Theatre. You may have watched it on CNN or caught it on YouTube. Perhaps you listened to it on the radio, as Sarah and I did in our respective traffic jams.
Senator Clinton was asked a very interesting question regarding Iraq. She was asked specifically why she voted against Senator Carl Levin's amendment to the Congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq in 2002.
You can read the text of Levin's amendment yourself by clicking here.
In Los Angeles, Senator Clinton said she could not vote for the amendment because it "suggested the United States would subordinate whatever our judgment might be going forward to the United Nations Security Council." (Those are her words from the CNN debate on January 31.)
There can be no mistake here. It is not a matter of misinterpretation. I quote directly from Levin's amendment: "Congress...affirms that, under international law and the United Nations Charter, the United States has at all times the inherent right to use military force in self-defense."
Moreover, here is what Senator Levin said about his own amendment, straight from the Congressional Record: "There is no veto given the United Nations in this resolution of ours. Quite the opposite. We explicitly make it clear we maintain, of course, a right to use self-defense."
Senator Clinton knew what she was voting against in 2002, and in 2008 she sat in my city and lied to me and the American people about what she voted on and why.
No. On the life of my son, no. Hillary Clinton is a paid-up member of a status quo that kills people and defiles the United States.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Sunday, February 03, 2008
Saturday, February 02, 2008
Thus, although I am really not interested in the affairs of the Spears family and the sad distress that appears to plague Brittany Spears in particular, I am delighted that the conservator of her estate is named Andrew Wallet!