Saturday, December 31, 2005

Best Holiday Gift Ever

You probably have picked up that I am a big fan of the Mudtruck and the Mudspot, purveyors of what I consider to be NYC's best coffee.

So, this early Christmas gift, seen at left, rocked my world. I was one of the few to get a free pass for coffee during the final weeks of 2005. For those unable to see my blurry picture, it says "Make Mud Ay" (not a typo, it's "Make My Day" phonetically), with the subhead "Free Mud From Now 'Til 2006".

This is a wonderful gesture by the owners, Greg and Nina -- thanks so much, guys! -- and a wonderful idea for retailers keen on thanking their most loyal customers in the community.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Speaking in Tongues

For those in the communications field, one of the pleasures of the day for some is to read the White House press briefings, held regularly by press secretary Scott McClellan. Called the "Press Gaggle", McClellan -- like a boxer -- ducks and weaves to journalists' pointed questions. A master of the administration line and able to talk/obfuscate in circles to the nth degree, they're highly entertaining.

So here's a recommendation, if I may be so bold, on how to heighten the entertainment. A poster by the name of "karateexplosions" at Daily Kos regularly deconstructs the press briefings with pointed commentary and what the press secretary really meant to say. Here's the
latest, from yesterday's briefing.

A sample:

Journalist: "Will the President be making any comments in San Antonio, or just privately visiting with the troops?"

Deputy Press Secretary Trent Duffy, who's filling in today: "We'll let you know."

karateexplosions' take, on what Duffy meant to say:
"He'll be making lots of comments. Things like:
"You lost your arm for freedom!" (See note)
"I bet that hurt when that happened."
"Being here among the troops reminds me of when I was a brave military pilot, defending the dangerous skies of Texas when I wasn't too busy running down to Tijuana to snort blow off the tits of a hooker!"

NOTE: Freedom not available in all areas. Not applicable to freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom to have speedy trial, freedom to have jury, freedom to have legal representation, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, and others as determined by management. Freedom subject to change at any time."


You can read his take on the latest briefings

Thursday, December 22, 2005

FAILE Explained; I Turn Out to Be Very Vain

Remember this post from September asking who was graffiti-ing my name on the Lower East Side?

Well, the mystery is solved. And I'm so vain, because I thought the [graffiti] was about me. It's not.

The Wooster Collective describes the three-person 'graffiti art' team known as Faile and how they came to pick this as their "nom de plume": "Faile was about this growth process. About taking your fears and your challenges, your grief and misfortune, and creating something from that. Taking your failures and proceeding forward, becoming stronger from what you have learned. So we looked at the title Alife and by taking what we had, we created something new. Something that was born out of A-life and became our own. ALIFE > FAILE. The name has a meaning that is dear to us, something that is born out of a place and time for us, and something that has a philosophical undercurrent that flows through the work we do. This is how Faile came to be."


(Thanks to Jake Dobkin for explaining this one to me. One mystery of the world resolved.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

"Now Waaaaaaaait A Minute...."

Want to catch the best concert performance of the last year? Then pick up Green Day's "Bullet in a Bible" CD/DVD and watch the live version of "St. Jimmy"-- Billie Joe Armstong et al are in full rock-star mode. The CD is okay, but the DVD is what really shines here, showing a performance from Milton Keynes in England.

See Billie Joe wantonly running across the stage, striking defiant poses. See Billie Joe use his microphone to crash the cymbals during the chorus. See Bill Joe do some nice little breakdancing, including a split.

Talk about a commanding stage presence. This snippet from the video needs to be made a video ASAP.

Another bonus: The band doing "Shout" and incorporating a couple lyrics from the Monty Python song, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". Nice.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Walk It Back, Unsuccessfully

I really don't get the outrage directed towards James Risen, the New York Times journalist who broke the news that President Bush signed secret orders three years ago allowing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying. I do understand, though, the outcry of American citizens on this revelation, which is possibly Nixonian.

But the right-wing machine is in full spin mode, even before the President said defiantly the move was made for national security yesterday morning. Despite this, Joshua Micah Marshall has been helping to unravel the spin, in posts starting here (and continuing here: #2, #3 and #4), calling it "disingenuous". Adding this piece of news (NBC revealed that the Pentagon has created a secret database on American peace activists) and the Times story, I'm starting to think the media has pulled at a thread that will unravel something larger, perhaps something akin to Nixon's "enemies list".
But here comes the pushback.

To wit: Matt Drudge gave one tidbit an all-caps headline, stating that "now comes word James Risen's article is only one of many "explosive newsbreaking" stories that can be found -- in his upcoming book -- which he turned in 3 months ago! The paper failed to reveal the urgent story was tied to a book release and sale."

I'm really failing to see the revelation here (is this the best Drudge has?), and I'm willing to bet the forthcoming publication of Risen's book actually helped get this into print after a year of the Times holding this one back. Other than a swing-and-miss attempted smear against Risen, the reporting and sourcing that went into this article is top-notch and tight.

Watch for a lot of claims made as to why this was done, and the debunking soon after...but thank Risen for getting this out there.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Not Obvious?


Such a loaded little word, albeit one I've been using far too much recently. And the quasi-irony is that when I use it in a sentence, it most often is not obvious to all.


Used in the wrong way, the adverb can come across as very snarky-- as in "You really have no idea about this, do you?"


Early 2006 resolution: Rid my vocabulary of that word.

Friday, December 16, 2005

An Egregious Error

Forget Tookie Williams, the case of Cory Maye in Mississippi scares the hell out of me.

As Radley Balko recounts: "Cops mistakenly break down the door of a sleeping man, late at night, as part of drug raid. Turns out, the man wasn't named in the warrant, and wasn't a suspect. The man, frightened for himself and his 18-month old daughter, fires at an intruder who jumps into his bedroom after the door's been kicked in. Turns out that the man, who is black, has killed the white son of the town's police chief. He's later convicted and sentenced to death by a white jury. The man has no criminal record..."

Wow. Strip away the excess and -- if this re-telling is accurate -- you have a an amazing miscarriage of justice here for the 23-year-old Maye. Police are normally required to announce themselves, knock on the door, and wait a reasonable amount of time for an answer. Exceptions to the rule require specific justifications, such as a suspect's violent past; a no-knock warrant, which was used here, is used to "gain the element of surprise." Except, the officers involved seemingly here didn't take into account that this was a duplex, where more than just the suspect lived (a drug dealer living on one side and Maye on the other). So, ergo, an egregious error.

And, for this, in defending his home from those who didn't identify themselves to him when they knock down his bedroom door, he's now on death row.

It's amazing how prescient the words of The Clash, from more than 25 years ago, apply here. From "the Guns of Brixton":

"When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun
When the law break in
How you gonna go?
Shot down on the pavement
Or waiting on death row"
All I can say to this case is "Wow."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Aristotle: "Love is Composed of a Single Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies."

Well it finally happened this past weekend: My sister got married. That's the happy couple above, as they exited the reception and went on to party at the hotel; they're now off to Maui for their honeymoon.

So, here are four memories I have:

  • Walking down the aisle with my sister, and giving her away.

  • After the groom and groomsmen were put in seclusion a half-hour before the wedding in a single, small room, getting my young cousin to get us beers. Added bonus: He also got vodka tonics, the groomsmen's drink of choice. He's going to be a star when he grows up.

  • The limo left the mother-of-the-bride, my mom, at the reception hall. Sigh.

  • Apparently, it's bad luck if a glass or cup is broken on the wedding day. Double sigh.
  • Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Nah, Newspaper Budget Cutting Won't Affect Quality At All

    God bless Rupert Murdoch and his media empire sometimes, for the hilarity they bring.

    According to the New York Times, Mel Gibson's production company is developing a four-hour miniseries for ABC. Gawker Media's Defamer picks this news item up on December 6th, closing with a comment obviously made in jest: "While the baldfaced grab for controversy might seem utterly crass to us, ABC was powerless against the visionary Gibson’s breathtaking pitch for the miniseries’ climactic scene, a Braveheart-style battle with thousands of Jewish and Nazi combatants rushing at each other across an open field."

    And about 36 hours later-- in their December 8th edition -- The Australian (owned by Murdoch), writes this: "Gibson's Con Artist Productions reportedly clinched the deal with a breathtaking pitch for a climactic "Braveheart-style" battle scene where thousands of Jewish and Nazi combatants rush at each other across an open field."

    Of course, this isn't the first time a foreign outlet has reported parody as truth, heh.

    (Thanks for pointing this out to me, TK.)

    Beauty and the Beast (From Right to Left)

    On the left: Myself, tired from just getting in from Florida and working off of 4 hours sleep in the past 72. Also, by this point, I'd been having a few glasses of Bushmills. I look like an English soccer hooligan.

    On the right: Jen Dziura, commedienne and webmistress of, looking as beautiful as always. And she has a wonderful brain and potty mouth to match. Mreow.

    This was taken last night at her birthday party and, quite honestly, would have been a far better picture had I not been in it...sigh.

    Sunday, December 04, 2005

    Eat Slowly, Suffer Wrath

    There isn't a more perfect thing in the world than celebrating Sunday with a breakfast at the Ukranian diner Veselka, especially after a night out on the town. Stroll in with a book and, after a very short wait, grab a spot at the front counter. The riff-raff, meanwhile, has to wait at least a half-hour for a table. Suckers.

    Today proved to be more of a task, though. And this was a morning I probably needed it the most, as last night was a shining example of drinking and debauchery to celebrate my brother-in-law-to-be's imminent end to life as he knows it (one can alternately call it "his bachelor party").

    Of the (about) 9 spots at the front counter, each was filled with a soul who hadn't a care in the world, apparently. For example, there was a 30-ish gentleman who had finished his food and would take a sip of coffee every few minutes as he perused the business section of the New York Times. Another: There was an older gentleman who would slurp himself some borscht soup, wipe his beard fastidiously, then slowly butter his toast and take a small nibble. Repeat process repeatedly.

    And cue to those of us waiting for a spot, the grimacing and hearty lot who lived by an unspoken code, trying our best not to drag these people out of their fancy seat, so that we could take their place. The multiple sets of daggering eyes spoke volumes. Had this had been Prehistoric times...

    Truly maddening. Don't people have some small measure of self-awareness, to sometimes look around and notice that there are others waiting to get their Sunday morning fix?

    Moral of this story: If you're going to take up valuable real estate, please move quickly, damnit.