Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Take him off the grill...

...he's done.

Historic Disapproval: Bush Hits All-Time Low Amid Economic Meltdown

Turn Your Head and Cough

I'm ruthless, but...damn. This quote from a commenter on the fabulous Wonkette website:

Sarah Palin is kind of like testicular cancer.

If you’re McCain, would you rather just live with the pain and agony it causes for a while longer, or would you immediately amputate and show the world that you have no balls?

And the sad part is...it's true.

Monday, September 29, 2008


fields collapse
edges grinding
walls and windows melt
sidewalk spongy to the stride
city lights circle, haloed
drawing tracers
faces bob past, blurring

spinning while stationary
into a sky of stars
shifting blue and then back to white then blue again
a tremor in everything

city of strangers passing through shadows
their voices, footsteps silent
cars whispering, echoing, past
subway a subsonic rumble

falling foward never down
fingertips sparkling
electricity crackling through trees
all surfaces seamlessly melding
changing yet holding shape

rising, looking down at yourself
motionless as foot traffic
flows about you
looking up at yourself
receding against the stars
lost in the crowd, lost in the lights
close your eyes, traveling faster
on your way somewhere else.

slow, a time-lapse
gothic cathedral swells
walls coming loose at the roof
buckling as the ceiling falls
and towers ripple for an instant
then topple
stained glass bursting out
a million pieces of Christ
for miles, buildings shake
a mushroom cloud of colored glass particles
rises and shimmers in turbulent plumes
seen just before you rise into clouds
a purple and gray wash
fading to black

Friday, September 26, 2008

Goin' to Mis-si-sip-pi...

Shadowy Advisor #1: ...lure him into the debates with--ahem--any means possible. And terminate the Senator's command.
Barack: Terminate...the Senator?
Shadowy Advisor #2: He's out there operating beyond the sense of any acceptable political conduct. And he is still on the stump affecting the economy.
Shadowy Advisor #3: Terminate with extreme predjudice.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Washington Post published poll results that show Obama leading by 9 points. Reaction from McCain campaign?


McCain cancels David Letterman appearance due to the nation's dire financial situation then does a live interview down the street during Letterman's taping. Letterman cues up live feed and asks the senator if he'd like a ride home.


McCain demands candidates suspend campaign, cancel debate, to deal with financial crisis. Obama says, uh, no...dumbass. We have planes. We can fly to DC for a vote. Presidents ought to be able to do more than one thing at a time.


Palin gets interviewed by soft-news princess Katie Couric and sounds like a stammering, clueless hick in so far out of her depth that you can only watch through your fingers. Meet the maverick! See the roadkill.


I believe we have finally, for true, followed the black light arrow around the bend. Cue the carnival music.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tomorrow and the Day After

There's a crack in everything....

We're just about a week out from the first debate, a little over a month away from the election. I'm puzzled. I don't have any certainty over this election, which is probably good because I'm frequently wrong right when it comes down to the wire. Over the years, my gut was right about predicting Carter ('76), Reagan ('80 & '84), Bush ('88), Clinton ('92 and '96), then wrong with Gore (2000) and Kerry (2004). In other words, George W. Bush fucked up my average, along with everything else in America.

This year, my gut says Obama. But, as I said, I'm not certain. I am, however, feeling better because McCain's bounce evaporated after just a week, and the celebrity/puppy love over Palin seems to have faded, as crushes often will once you get to know the person, which leaves McCain with basically nothing.

And it's weird about history, but I'd forgotten the absolute nihilism I felt in '92 at the prospect of another four years of a Bush. As apocalyptic as it turned out, I didn't feel that bad in 2004 about W., much as I despised him, because, shit, who could have imagined Katrina? That was when I knew, indeed, that we were living in one of the worst times in American history. You...are...there.

But, back to this year's politics. Here's why I think Obama has a chance. He's basically been steadily leading McCain in both the popular vote and the electoral college (where it counts) since he clinched the nomination. Last week, directly after McCain's Hail Mary pass (which no one seems to acknowledge was as much a desperate attempt to keep his party from splintering as it was to change the overall game), McCain edged ahead, but not by much, and, in fact, more or less pulled to a statistical tie. The debates will tell the tale, certainly, and neither guy is the most briliant debater in history. (Though Biden's very good, and the VP debate ought to be...fascinating. It'll either be a slaughter or it'll look like the first Kerry/Bush debate, where Kerry clearly won but Bush didn't screw up so badly that he didn't croak his incumbent advantage.) Brass tacks, though: 2004 was very, very close, really coming down to Ohio. Obama's a stronger candidate than Kerry, is running a smarter campaign, and, despite the fact that he automatically loses a few points due to race (there are just some white people who will never vote for a black guy), he holds a very strong hand in at least winning every state Kerry did. That won't be enough, of course, but he's also putting other states in play sufficiently that both campaigns are contesting states that McCain shouldn't be worrying about. His ground game is also reputed to be extremely good, his grassroots organizing, and McCain's is rumored to be a mess. It was Bush's ground game, particularly among evangelicals, that carried his ass in 2004. Sometimes, it helps to be a community organizer. Obama's fundraising and use of the Net is clearly superior to McCain's.

And this is where I think Palin screws McCain rather than helps him: he's 72 years old, he's had melanoma four times, and he's going to look like 26 years of rough road by the time we get to the final stretch, when even youthful, vigorous candidates begin to look like papery husks. All that puts an emphasis on Palin possibly becoming president, and, I think, with people so worried about their checkbooks, jobs, homes, and retirements, the thought of putting a clear lightweight in charge of a listing ship will give them serious pause. She needs to either game up in a big way or Obama needs to make a serious misstep, else McCain has a steep hill ahead of him. Not a good place to be when the Republican brand is so bad their presidential candidate can only get traction by running away from it. Plus there's simply the war: McCain won't end it, and people--especially those with military ties who have borne the burden and traditionally vote Republican--are done with it.

So that's what my gut tells me. It's pretty clear that people can choose 1960...or 1929. But, as The Clash (and many others) noted: the future is unwritten. There is, literally, no telling what could happen between now and November 4th and how absolutely mindbending this all could become. The entire economy melting down, a terrorist attack, a gigantic skeleton falling out of a closet, and the stars could realign. And if that happens and McCain wins, all those folks who muttered about leaving the country in 2000 and 2004 might actually start dusting off their passports. Not that it'll do them a lot of good, because by that time the whole damn planet will be swirling 'round the drain.

...that's how the light gets in.
-Leonard Cohen--

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Coming: Next of Kin

Monday, October 20th, my play Next of Kin, about a military family dealing with the effects of the Iraq war, will have a reading at Portland Theatre Works. More details to come.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Doldrums

Even dedicated political junkies get to a place where they can't eat another sound bite. I'm there. I'm curious to see if the polls shift away from McCain this week--I have a feeling they might if Palin's bloom fades a bit (ironic that the McCain campaign chose to attack Obama as a celebrity, then answered with a celebrity of their own, but this whole campaign has been an unreal blizzard of ironies from Day One)--but I'm pretty much resigned that it's going to be back-and-forth, back-and-forth until the debates start at the end of the month. "When the still sea conspires an armor/And her sullen and aborted currents breed tiny monsters...."

In the meantime, I'll let Hunter S. Thompson sum up my feelings....

"Many appeared to be in the terminal stages of Campaign Bloat, a gruesome kind of false-fat condition that is said to be connected somehow with failing adrenal glands. The swelling begins within twenty-four hours of that moment when the victim first begins to suspect that the campaign is essentially meaningless. At that point, the body’s entire adrenaline supply is sucked back into the gizzard, and nothing either candidate says, does, or generates will cause it to rise again…and without adrenaline, the flesh begins to swell; the eyes fill with blood and grow smaller in the face, the jowls puff out from the cheekbones, the neck-flesh droops, and the belly swells up like a frog’s throat…The brain fills with noxious waste fluids, the tongue is rubbed raw on the molars, and the basic perception antennae begin dying like hairs in a bonfire."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Third Time Around Dept.

(Photo by Owen Carey)

I'm pleased to announce that my play Lost Wavelengths has been chosen as a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, which is kind of like Oregon's version of the Booker Prize. I couldn't be happier to be in such distinguished company. I've twice been a finalist (for Bombardment and Altered States of America), and it's both gratifying and humbling. Though everybody says it's great to be nominated for this or that, the OBA is a case where, whether or not the play's finally chosen, you've really already won just by being recognized. Thank you so much, Literary Arts!

Oregon Book Award Finalists

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Our Sarah

Well. Isn't she just a spunky, down-to-earth, snowbilly attack dog from hell?

Also, just from personal experience with similar types: she's completely batshit crazy.

Good luck.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dear John...

Far be it from me to offer advice to a Republican on how to recover their campaign after so utterly fucking it up to almost George W. Bushian standards, but, well, turn the other cheek as that one guy said. He won't listen to me anyway, so we're safe.

That said, Palin ain't going to fly. The whole thing has been such a thorough disaster that they're probably considering nuking Alaska so she has to drop out to deal with the crisis (which she probably would at least as well as Bush handled Katrina). Brass tacks, John McCain is, uh, not a young guy. He's had melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, four times, and there's a fairly decent chance...we'll, let's just say picking Palin was stupid on so many levels that it's hard to count (and really throws into question McCain's judgment, not to mention whatever medication they're giving him to keep him upright), but mostly, it makes him look, really, really old, and, when you consider we're in the middle of two wars and the economy's tanking, the thought of someone like Palin being a heartbeat from the oval office would make you take a deep breath before snapping open the paper each morning. Politically, McCain's pretty much screwed. If he stays with her, it's going to be one long train wreck from here to November (though I really look forward to the vice-presidential debate for a change...that is, unless they have to stop it because it looks like Bidens squashing a kitten with a tassled loafer).

*meeeoooorrrr!* crunch. silence.

If he dumps her, he looks like he's covering for making a bonehead mistake and all the evangelicals will huff, take their Bibles, and stay home. But...there is a way he can cover his ass. All he has to do is come out and say: "My friends, I believe there's been a great misunderstanding. When I said I was choosing Palin for my running mate, everyone assumed I meant Sarah Palin. Well, they all got so excited that I didn't want to dash their hopes, and I thought, well, maybe it'd work out. But, I'm a maverick, you know, and I have to stick to my straight talk. And that's why I'm here to explain that I didn't mean Sarah Palin. I meant Michael Palin.""I believe Michael will, well, he'll liven things up. He brings the funny. Even if it's that kind of British funny not everybody gets. You know, the whole vice-presidential thing's gotten pretty deadly with Dick Cheney, so to speak, and I think...I think in these times of trouble, America not only needs a vice-president who can communicate well with our Canadian friends. And with lumberjacks. But who has executive experience working in the Ministry of Silly Walks. And let me tell you, my friends, when we walk up to the podium together, it's going to be a walk you'll never forget. Now, if you excuse me, it's my happy nap time."

Joe Biden debates Michael Palin. You say you want an argument?

Do it, John. It's the only way.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Dept. of Stupid Ideas

I was recently chatting with a friend about making music, theatre, etc., and we were both agreed that, yeah, it'd be cool if there was a place in the country you could go where you could crank up the amps, and folks could jam, try out new stuff. And pretty soon we were like...and yeah...we could do play readings! And workshops! And record! And a space for photographers! And...and...and...we need a barn! Or a rich friend with a barn. A rich patron of the arts with a barn. At which point, it devolved into some kind of mutant Mickey Rooney on acid let's put on a show, and we laughed it off, and the conversation meandered into something equally silly....


For some reason, I keep thinking about the barn. What if...there really was one out there? And someone was into it? You could kind of, I don't know, do a co-opt thing where folks chipped in a few bucks to help defray costs, and you could have jams with a few invited friends, a pot-luck, a bit of theatre, a bit of music, and....

Yeah. It's totally fucking nuts. But then, so am I, so I went a posted an inquiry on Portland Craigslist under "Artists." I'm sure nothing will come of it. But...but...but....


Language is a Virus