Thursday, December 29, 2005

Post-Christmas Post

I had a good Christmas. You? Good to hear. I got some killer DVDs and books. That's what I dig, so that's cool.

Didn't do nearly as well as the boy, though; he made out like a bandit. After he got a stack of gifts at our house, when we went to my sister's there was a whole 'nother stack of presents for him. The funniest, though, was when he opened the metal Buick Grand National model Nate gave him, that goes with the metal Ford Thunderbird and Jeepster models Nate gave him before. After I got it extricated from the packaging and handed it to him, he said in a low, reverant tone, "I'm going to go crash this into my Thunderbird."

Ya know, I'm actually kind of done with Christmas now, so I'm going to talk about other stuff.

Charley already posted about the Nissan Urge concept car, so I'm not going to say anything directly about that, but I am going to rant about concept cars in general. I often wonder why the major car companies bother? They put these things out as a promotion, to get people interested in their cars and where they claim to be going, and then they just turn out the same old crap. It's a colossal waste of money, and I'm sure contributes to the collapse of the worse-off companies. The few of us who actually get excited about concept cars are car freaks anyway, and the general buying public doesn't give a shit. The general public cares about what they can buy now, the rest of us get mad because we can't buy the cool product you put out as a promotional "concept".

Sure, a few actually get made, but they tend to be the most ridiculous high-priced high-performance models. And the good ones never come about. Where's my Buick Bengal? Over four years ago they said it was going into production. Or how about the Chrysler Jet Car? That was a great idea 40 years ago, and would have changed how cars were made - it was quieter than cylinder driven engines, had reduced friction and easier maintenance, and could run on just about any fuel, without conversion.

So I say to the major car manufacturers: forget the concept cars. Work on the technology, make it happen, quit spending money to build these things up for your little roadshows filled with pipedreams. I'm not going to buy the crud you're making now just because you flash in front of me the thing I want but you'll never make.

Ok. Rant over. Now how about some news?

There's still a convicted Nazi war criminal in the U.S., and he's fighting deportation to the Ukraine. We've been trying to get rid of him since '77. He's 85 now. My theory is, give him the choice...deport to Ukraine, go to the slammer here for war crimes. The fact that he has been roaming free in this country for 30 years after being found out amazes me. Still, our hunting of the Nazis is different and unprecedented in terms of war criminals. Usually, governments only prosecute the big guys, but the Nazis, we've hunted down every camp guard we could find. Not that I'm against that, mind you, but those buggers are getting old and soon there will be none left to hound. What do we do then?

Ouch! Man dies in chipper-shredder. I think Margie from the movie Fargo said it best: "...I guess that was your accomplice in the woodchipper, eh?"

Here, the other day, I was saying I was questioning my belief in capital punishment. But that questioning becomes harder to do when I read that some fundie muslim in Pakistan killed his four daughters because one of them had an affair, and he wanted to preserve his family's honor.

Enough for now. Mattbear out.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Warning: Anger, profanity, bile, and villification ahead

I am fucking filled with rage this morning. Bush has butt-fucked the Bill of Rights again. The New York Times is reporting that Bush himself gave the ok for the NSA to wiretap U.S. citizens suspected of being involved with terrorist activities, without benefit of a warrant.

This enrages me, as it should any American citizen. That fuck swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America when he was inaugurated - twice. The Constitution includes the Bill of Rights, which this administration (and Bush personally) have been trampling since September 11, 2001, when Bush family friend bin Laden pretty much wrote him an open ticket to do so. When the 9/11 tragedy happened, while processing what had happened and what it meant for our country, one of my earliest thoughts was "I hope the government doesn't use this as an excuse to override our rights." I wish, I wish, my first thoughts could have included something less cynical, like, "I'm sure our leaders will guide our nation through this difficult time, and pursue those responsible and bring them to justice." But experience has shown me otherwise, and they continue to prove my fears were founded.

9/11 is the roofie Bush slipped the sorority girl that is our Bill of Rights, and he fucked her with the (un)Patriot Act. Bullshit like warrantless wiretaps just show that after the Patriot Act, he flipped her over for some non-consensual backdoor action. And the New York Times? They're the drunk frat brother with the video camera, getting the whole thing on tape. They new about it a year ago, and didn't report on it until now "...because the White House said it could jeopardize continuing investigations..." maybe the investigation into how Bush could win re-election, maybe? Motherfuckers.
I suggest a new motto for The Times..."All the news the White House says we can print, because we're Big Brother's fucking lapdog."

The excuse the White House uses for this shit? We caught a terrorist because of it. I'm sure the right wing idiots of this world will say we need to keep this country secure, so this is ok because they'll only spy on the terrorists. Right. That's why they've been using your tax money to infiltrate a Quaker peace activist group. Fuck yeah, get those Quakers. They might be the next ones to bomb us. Bush and his merry band of fucknobs aren't going to limit their spying to actual terrorists. They couldn't event they wanted to. History has shown that this kind of abuse of power gets used to fuck with political opposition as much as (if not more than) actually investigate crimes. This new Big Brother bullshit will just go to show more of the same. In J. Edgar Hoover's day it was Martin Luther King Jr., and today it's Quakers. After posting this, I'm pretty sure my phone is going to be tapped too.

I think it is seriously time to call for Bush's impeachment. All the fucking dirtbaggery has to catch up to him, it's time. Fuck. It's enough to make me wish Martin Sheen actually was the President. (No, I'm not dumb enough to believe he really is like his character on the show - the writing is just so good I wish I could believe it)

Goddamnit I am pissed off. I have to stop now before I have a fucking aneurism.

Side note (I hate it when people put P.S. on something they're writing on an editable word processing system): If you've ever watched "Inside the Actor's Studio", you know that at the end the host asks the celebrity five questions, one of which is "What is your favorite curse word?" - after looking over this post, I'm pretty sure there's no denying that mine is definitely FUCK.

- Mattbear out

Thursday, December 15, 2005

That's heavy, man

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Always a dangerous thing with me. My thinking has been around heavy topics like the death penalty, national security, politics, child rearing, health, death, and on and on and on. You know what that means? Time to spew some of that out here. Long post; bear with me if you're brave enough.

To bring you to my current thinking, I have to pull out the WayBack Machine. As I'm sure anyone who actually reads this knows, I studied Criminal Justice in college. Most of my teachers were either active law enforcement or retired. We had a retired California Fish and Game guy running the CJ department, a retired FBI guy, a retired DEA guy, some patrol cops, a detective specialized in child abuse, and my favorite, Rick Bart (damn, he's looking old). Back then, Bart was Lieutenant of Detectives for Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. Later, he was elected Sheriff. I am proud to say I voted for him in his first election; he's probably the only Republican I have ever voted for. Apparently next year he is going to run for Snohomish County Executive.

Anyway, before being Lieutenant of Detectives, Bart was a homicide detective. Probably his most famous case was mass murderer Charles Rodman Campbell. After being let out of prison for rape, this dirtbag went to his rape victim's house and killed her (in front of her 8 year old daughter), her daughter, and her neighbor. Ol' Bart used to bring in slide shows to our Homicide Investigation class so we got to look at crime scenes, bodies, all that good stuff. Naturally one day Bart brought in the photos of Campbell's crime scene and related investigation and talked to us about it. When I saw the pictures of the little girl, throat slit ear to ear, I looked at the notes about the investigation. She was just a year younger than I. I felt some righteous anger. Bart himself said that case wounded him more than any other case he investigated, and this is a man who has seen some of the worst. I can't explain how brutal, how hurtful those pictures and the story he told were. Ask me about it if you want sometime - I can recall every ugly photo, every detail Bart gave us.

Campbell was hung by the state of Washington on my 21st birthday. Well, technically, it was the day after my 21st, since it was at 12:10am on the 27th, but I had just come home from being out drinking with "the boys" to celebrate my 21st. Jen, who was not 21, had arranged a girls' night at our place, largely with a number of sort-of hippie chicks recently introduced to us by Charley...they were not pleased when I came cruisin in with the boys at midnight and turned on the news and proposed a toast to the stretching of that bastard Campbell when it was announced at 12:10. They were nice, fairly naive girls, and of course opposed to the death penalty which I felt Campbell so richly deserved.

To this day, I cannot feel bad about Campbell's death. I saw the pictures of the destruction he wrought, and they effected me deeply, at an emotional level no logic can touch. My only regret was that I was not there to see it, or perhaps pull the lever myself, or maybe sodomize him with a red-hot iron just before he dropped.

Why dredge up all this? These days you see a kinder, gentler Mattbear than the one that existed back then, as I have mentioned recently. I've been questioning my long-held, unwaivering stance on capital punishment. There are so many arguments against it. Some say it's applied in a racist manner in this country. It is certainly applied unevenly. It makes no logical sense (it's wrong to kill, you killed someone, so now we're going to kill you). It's definitely not a deterrent - even as a supporter of the death penalty I never tried that weak-ass argument. What's got me thinking most these days is that it's just plain barbaric. Most of the nations who hold on to the death penalty are backward countries with no concept of human rights anyway. We're putting ourselves in the same class as Iran and Syria, for god's sakes. Cambodia banned the death penalty. That's right, the nation that gave us the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields has banned the death penalty, but not us. I was proud to be an American when I found out that little fact.

I was already thinking about this a lot when it came into the news that the Governator held the power of life and death over "Tookie" Williams, one of the earliest members of the Crips. Arnold is an actor. I can not see what he has done or said that would indicate he is a wise, reasonable choice to hold the power of life and death over anyone. His decision to deny clemency apparently came as a five page document. I'm pretty sure his lawyers wrote it. If Arnold had done it himself, it would probably have been something like "I had to let him go." (In all fairness, he didn't even write that)
Leading takes wisdom. The Governator is not wise. While I think of myself as intelligent, and wise for my age and education, I do not feel I really am wise enough to hold the power of life and death, except maybe in a kill-or-be-killed self defense type situation. So that brings me to question: in this kind of a case, where death is being considered as a punishment well after the fact, who is wise enough to hold that power? The answer, I am becoming afraid, is "no one". Perhaps we should not use death as a penalty for crime.

Moving on! I'm also pretty concerned with another area where our country is currently displaying some barbarism - torture. Certain asshats in our current government seem to feel that torture is A-OK. I keep thinking, isn't there something our government signed, saying we wouldn't torture people? Some treaty? Didn't we sign it in some foreign place? And wasn't there also something we put together in our own country that kind of said torture was maybe wrong? Maybe I'm just imagining things. But today we made history! The White House agreed to pass Sen. McCain's proposed law banning use of torture! So now we're going to pass a law telling everyone not to violate our own Constitution or the biggest international treaty in history. This reminds me of a joke told by a very dirty comedian:
"I read about a guy who pled not guilty to a charge of fucking a dead cat. What disturbs me most is that we needed a law to tell us it's wrong to fuck a dead cat. And what's this guy's defense, anyway? 'I didn't know the cat was dead, your honor. I wouldn't fuck a dead cat, that's sick!' "

On more personal worries, I am very concerned about health - my health especially, but the health of those I care about too. I have long been careless with my diet, exercise, mental health, and on and on to the point where I am now falling apart. I'm trying to take better care of myself now, and since I weigh more than I have ever weighed in my life, that is my number 1 priority. I am at a point where I am afraid. Diabetes. Heart attack. Cancer. All are in my family history, all I am at an elevated risk for due to my lifestyle and being overweight.

After the holidays, I am changing my life, hardcore. Going to drop some pounds, get in better shape, try to take care of myself. I know I've said this before...a million times...but I've never been this frightened before. I can feel it in my bones that if I don't turn things around, I'm not going to be here much longer. And that is scarying the shit out of me.

I know some of you have already gotten yourselves in better condition. Some need to. And some have been fine all along. But if you're not in good shape now, I beg you to join with me and cut that fat, take better care of yourselves, get more exercise. I want my friends around for the long haul, and I want to be there for them too.

Alrighty. Enough with the serious shit for now. Mattbear out.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

We bad, We bad

In case you missed it, comedian Richard Pryor died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 65. He was a damn funny man. I remember him mostly from the films of my youth like "The Toy", "Superman 3", and "Brewster's Millions". And while most people don't remember "See no Evil, Hear no Evil", I do - primarily because it featured Joan Severance, who at that time was on my Top Five (see below). There was a scene where Joan is sticking her hand in Pryor's pants pocket, looking for some piece of evidence she needs, and he says "I don't know what you're looking for, but it's a little to the left." I still say that when someone sticks their hands in my pants pockets.

Ah well, everybody has to go, and after 20 years battling MS, it was finally Richard's turn. But damnit, he put Nate in the lead in the Dead Pool. If you haven't heard some conversation about the Dead Pool (not likely) I organize one every year with my friends - everybody submits 25 names of celebrities, and if one of the people on your list goes, you get a certain number of points. To calculate the score, you take their age and subtract it from 100. Ergo, Pryor was worth 35 points, a pretty good score really. The race had been pretty close between me, Harris, and Nate, with me having a slight lead. But Pryor catapults Nate to a score of over 100 points, and puts him in the lead. We don't play for money or anything, the winner just gets the title of "Harbinger of Death" for a year - and this year I am planning on making a little "trophy" for the Harbinger. Nate was this year's Harbinger, and with only a few weeks to go he's shaping up to be next year's too.

Incidentally, if you would like to compete to be the next Harbinger of Death, you need to have 25 famous names to me by January 1st. No slackers this year, I'm not giving any leeway. This means current competitors too.

"...I was so upset about getting chewed out by Bill Cosby that I called up Richard Pryor.
'Richard,' I said, 'Bill Cosby just called me up and chewed me out for being too dirty on stage!'
He said, 'What? When you say what you say, do the people laugh?'
'And do you get paid?'
'Then you call that Jello-puddin eatin mutherfucka back, and tell him I said to have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up!' "
- Eddie Murphy, from "Raw"

On to something else that doesn't involve people dieing. I mention above my old Top Five. I always have a Top Five, the five famous women I think are the hottest. I think every guy kinda has that, at least in some vague way, and I think most women have their own kind of Top Five too. The Top Five changes as new young hotties come on the Hollywood scene, and old lusts die out. Past Fivers for me have included the above-mentioned Joan Severance, Alicia Silverstone, and Sharon Stone (who gets a Lifetime Achievement Award honoring her with a permanent honorary Top Fiver slot - if for Basic Instinct alone). My current Top Five:

1. Salma Hayek
2. Charlize Theron
3. Kiera Knightly
4. Kate Beckinsale
5. Jessica Alba

So what's your Top Five? You know you have one, you pig....

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


First off, just want to point out a couple of friends whom I have lured away from (why don't you go cry about it on) Livejournal to the much more sophisticated and erudite Blogger.
"Further Ramblings of a Zen DJ" is Launchpad's blog. It really is ramblings, but hey, it's worth looking at now and again, especially for the confusing posts about quantum physics. It will hurt your head sometimes; you have been warned.
With a much more clever name than my blog, there's also "My Meme can beat up your Meme", Charley's new blog. Not much there now, but maybe soon...

On an unrelated note, I just wanted to make sure every one knows that The Internet is for Porn (needs sound, safe for work if you have headphones on). This message brought to you by Harris.

"I want to start an ISP, and its motto will be: Welcome to the Internet, here's your porn."
-Jeff Harris

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Life is good

I wish I could say it was a lazy Saturday, but I had to work today. Ah well, I got a lot done. Once work was wrapped up I took the boy and the dog for a walk to the park where we played snowball fight again for a bit. Now I'm sitting here, fire going, dog at my feet, Christmas lights lit up. It's nice. Sure, I have things to worry about, things that are weighing on my mind, but right now I'm taking a break from worrying. A union-sized break. And with each sip of my fresh, hot apple cider (with a dash of cinnamon), I just think: Life is good.

This daily affirmation brought to you by a middle class white male. Privilege is good too.
-Mattbear out

Friday, December 02, 2005

Mellowing in my old age

Yes, yes, I'm getting old, and I'm mellowing out. I'm often accused of hating everything, or at least hating a lot of stuff. I disagree...I don't hate more things, I'm just more vocal about what I do hate, so everyone notices it more. But alas, some of my old hatreds are cooling into dislike, or worse, liking.

Take for instance, snow. I've hated snow for a long time. You spend three plus years earning your living driving, sometimes putting 250 miles or more behind the wheel each day, and see how you feel when it snows. But now I have a 4 year old and a malamute at home. They both love the snow, and it can't help but be a little contagious.

Yesterday, it started snowing when I was at work. I was less than pleased. It wasn't sticking, so I wasn't too unhappy. Then I left to go pick up the boy, and when I got out by Fall City, the snow was coming down harder...and it was staying. I called Jen when I got to Duvall.
"It's mighty white out here," I said. I wasn't just referring to the ethnic make-up of our 'hood (which, by the way, is indeed mighty white).
"Ok," she says, "I was going to leave in about a half hour anyway".

Got the boy, went home. He immediately said he wanted to "play snowball fight!" Oh great. I went in and got the dog. She got outside and went nuts. Dancing around, jumping, running in circles. She did not want to be on the leash. At one point, she was running around me and the leash wrapped around the boy. He spun about a quarter circle around me before the leash pulled his legs out from under him, flipping him up so he was horizontal in the air...then he dropped, flat, face-first, into the snow. He got up and cried for a minute, but it was more just shock then anything; he wasn't hurt. He threw a snowball at the dog, and then everything was fine and the snowball fight was under way.

I decided it was time to let Chase off the leash, whether she would run off or not. She'd be back, and nobody would get hurt by Crazy Dog On Leash. Sure enough, she took off. Then the boy and I started hurling snowballs. Few things make you feel simultaneously good and bad about yourself than having a snowball fight with a four year old. After a few minutes, I called Jen. "On your way home, can you buy me some gloves? Your son is insisting on having a snowball fight and my hands are freezing."
"Is there enough snow to have a snowball fight?" she asked.
"Uh...yeah...we've been throwing them for 15 minutes now."
"Right. In that case, I'm leaving work now."
She hadn't understood that it was snowing way more at our place than in Issaquah. She also told me where I could find gloves in the house. Snowball fight continued until we heard the girl next door come outside with her mom, and went over to see what they were doing. The kids played, parents talked, until the dog finally decided to come back and we wanted to the take the kids inside. Brought the boy home and felt good about having fun in the snow.
Another thing I've long hated is the military. Not so much the guys on the ground, but the institution and the generals who run it. But given the way some military leaders are standing up to the Bush administration and saying they're wrong, I have to feel a bit more like they're on our side and not puppets of the government quite as much as I'd always thought. General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, disagreed with Donald Rumsfeld during a recent joint press conference. Basically, Rumsfeld was saying that it wasn't our job to stop the Iraqi military and police that we are training from torturing people (or killing them with death squads, but that wasn't quite brought out). Good ol' Pace, a Marine since his infantry days in the 'Nam, smacked him down and straight out said our military had a responsibility to stop it if they witnessed it. I like this guy.
And, for just amusement...

A face transplant has been successfully done. Can a Travolta/Cage switcheroo be long behind?

And supposedly in my own state, yet another person claims to have captured a picture of Sasquatch.

- Mattbear out