Thursday, August 31, 2006

Up in the air once again... see, thanks to Google Earth, the changes made Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea in the past 80 years....



When a tree falls in the forest...

...who gives a damn?

If my experience is accurate, not too many will notice. We are a replacement-oriented society, throwing people away as easily as we dispense with appliances. Nothing gets fixed; at the first sign of trouble, it's off to the landfill for the old, and then off to the store for something newer and flashier.

For someone who is driven by an overwhelming desire to maintain, repair and keep what is good, whether human relationships or a machine, this attitude is puzzling, to put it very mildly.

Especially when I'm the one who has been discarded.

Not that it matters what I think. According to the Death Clock, I fell seven years ago.

Shows you what internet quizzes know. In reality, I outlived my usefulness six months ago.

And no one noticed.

Off to the landfill....

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Birthday wishes... one of the dearest people I know, a lady who has delighted so many of us with her sense of humor, who has been helpful and unfailingly kind to me.

Anne is battling serious health problems right now. I am praying for her complete recovery, and I hope all of you will add your best wishes for her -- in whatever form suits you best -- as well.

Happy Birthday, dear Anne. May you get well soon and enjoy many joyous birthdays in the years ahead.

A new cat showed up in the neighborhood tonight. Every time I see a cat, I think of Anne and her feline friends, Frank and Buck....

Who am I kidding?

I've been trying to amuse myself with the recent photo posts, trying to forget that I have been fighting a pervasive and paralyzing depression for the better part of six months.

It hasn't worked.

I have spent most of today fighting the demons. They are winning.

Don't bother reminding me some people have it much worse. I know that, and I ache for them. It frustrates me that I can't help make their lives better, help free them of the problems both mental and physical that are making their lives unhappy right now.

Even so, I cannot escape my own dark thoughts and my own pain.

Less than a half-year ago, I loved and trusted, was optimistic about the future, was eager to do battle with anything that stood in the way of my goals and desires. Amazing what having someone love you and promise you joyous -- if sometimes difficult -- days ahead can do.

How things change....

I still love. But I might as well not bother. The rest is gone.

More of that "Yo-ho, yo-ho" stuff.... the "Black Pearl" proves that it's seaworthy, albeit with an engine down in the bilges to push it along....

Presumably, some movie magic will be performed so the sea and sky around it don't look as dreary on the Big Screen as they did in real life....

My kind of cat!

Meet "Grumpy," a feline who is deifintely having a series of bad fur days....

Read more about this bad boy here.

"With his vicious fangs on display and weight firmly on his back legs, this tabby looks set to pounce on its unsuspecting prey.

But it is not mice, birds or any other small animals he is after. It is not even the other pet cats he has already savaged in his neighbourhood.

They were deemed too 'small' a target to terrify, so he decided to turn his attention to a much larger prey - humans.

The pet cat, who has been named Grumpy because of his exploits, started entering all the cat flaps on one street in the search for food.

He would make each house his own and would scare off the cats who lived in each of the houses.

And when the surprised owners returned home, Grumpy leapt through the air at them, hissing at them and scratching their hands and arms.

His antics in a small leafy street in Swindon, Wiltshire, have been described as a 'four-month reign of terror' by neighbours, who finally caught the cat and put it in a cage this week....

At first the neighbours felt sorry for the puss, but after four received nasty cuts and scratches, they called the RSPCA for help.

They finally trapped Grumpy behind the sofa and used a broom to push it into a cage.

Helen Briggs, of the RSPCA, said the was very unusual for the cat to react with such ferocity.

'It is common for cats to go into other people's houses because they have a curious nature and some do stand their ground when they are approached if they feel threatened,' she said.

'But to actually leap up and attack a stranger is not as common. The poor thing must really be at its wits end and must not really have any love at all.

'I hope that it has a microchip inside it so that we can find its owner.'

Grumpy is being checked over by a vet and will be collected by the RSPCA for re-homing if no owner is found...."

Definitely not a gratuitous cat!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

One last Kustom Kar...

...from Sunday's show.

This one illustrates what someone who is (a) a hot rodder and (b) a vintage military airplane fanatic does when he has the remains of a late-1950s Hillman station wagon, a pile of tubing, an old Chevy engine and a bunch of leftover aircract hardware....

The radiator shell is home-made and, of course, the body has been separated from its top...

As a former Hillman owner, I thought I recognized it (faintly) from this angle, but I still had to ask to be sure...

The dashboard is Hillman; the top of the steering wheel has been cut off to look like a plane's control wheel, the seats and seat belts came from various pensioned-off aircraft, as did the "cupholders"....

A little rough around the edges, perhaps, and O.D. isn't my favorite paint color, but the guy obviously had a lot of fun building it!

Yet another random photo...

...of what appears to be a political campaign that has run out of gas....

Monday, August 28, 2006

Another random photo...

..of an abandoned walkway, a wall, and a cat...

Lazy Sunday...

...but not too lazy to set the anchor securely, one hopes....

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Some people have too much free time...

...which leads them to create oddball things like this "Surf Cruiser," formerly an innocent Chrysler PT Cruiser.

Aside from the fancy paint and wheels, it has (among many strange gizmos) Hawaiian-print seat covers and little Tikis on the door-lock knobs...

Yes, that is a working waterfall inside the rear hatch, complete with a volcano on top that "erupted" at regular intervals....

Could get a little wet inside during a panic stop, I'd say....

Kustom Kars, kontinued...

...and, in time, I may put up a few pics of the cars, but I must say I was more captivated by details.

Flames were popular, as on this '61 Ford convertible...

A 1960 Ford Galaxie with retractable hardtop...

A 1961 Chevy Impala, complete with "Continental Kit" accessory...

The rear window of a '57 Pontiac...

Pinstripes, a "stop" light and Felix the Cat (long-time mascot of Felix Chevrolet in Los Angeles) on an early-'50s Chevy Suburban wagon....

Kustom Kars...

...covered the lawn at the local park this morning. I'll post photos of some of the many neat rides that showed up later, but one, a wildly Kustomized Lincoln Zephyr, was so stunning that it deserves a showcase of its own.

Unfortunately, black cars don't photograph well in shade, especially when they're placed right on the edge of bright sunshine. I did what I could....

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wish I was here... in this wonderful 1920s-era bungalow, just two blocks from the ocean....

Random photo....

...of a cat who, like most cats, doesn't care much for water but loves warm cememt....

Cottage Court (for a.m.)

Despite the mansionization dreams of the nouveax riche moving in Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea, many of the architectural treasures of the area remain, including this lovely cottage court located within the red oval on the 1926 aerial photo....

It's difficult to count the neat rows of back-to-back cottages from the street, but most if not all appear to remain, are maintained and lived in...

Unfortunately, they are tiny and therefore unsuitable for someone who works at home. That's the only thing keeping me from getting on the waiting list for one....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Stem op deze foto!

Ummm, yeah...well, the title's in Dutch, for those who don't know. I used to have a Dutch girlfriend and managed to pick up some of the lingo, so I had some idea what it meant when I first saw it.

Never mind that, though. A sweet friend entered a photo contest in Holland, and is looking -- quite within the contest rules! -- for votes. All of the photos she submitted are good; three are excellent, and two of the latter are just plain superb!

So here are links for you to go look for yourself:


And when you do, you'll see the now-famous words "Stem op deze foto below the image, alongside five stars. Click on the rightmost star for a "5-star" (best) rating, or move leftward for four, three, etc....

I wouldn't do this if I didn't really dig the photos!

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Yeah, I would, 'cos Lori's such a nice person. But she happens to be a nice person with a good eye for photography....

Go vote, okay?

Damn, I get tired of this.

I spent most of today grinding out swill for my clients. Despite correct facts, attention paid to proper English and excision of typing errors -- thank you, spell check! -- none of this stuff has any chance of making it into my "professional samples" folder.

Why? Lots of reasons. One of them is complex, and has to do with the way this project evolved. In the beginning, I was negotiating to basically create an entire one-shot special magazine for the client, which would have taken me months but would have paid damn well. The person who had to make the decision (not the one who dug the idea and promised he'd push it through) dithered around until the last moment and then parceled it out to a number of writers. The way he set it up is pathetic, too.

So I got my little parcel and diligently set to set to work, albeit without much enthusiasm. I won't make a lot of money from it, and will get no satisfaction.

That sounds like the rest of my life. A little money and no satisfaction.

I'll finish up this assignment tomorrow, then spend the weekend writing yet another piece, which is longer, marginally more interesting but still a million miles away from any story I'd choose to do if I didn't need the dough.

The life of a hack writer isn't much fun, especially when I didn't start out with any intention of taking on work I have to grind out like so many sausages.

I just heard a great quote from General H. Norman Schwarzkopf: "Going to war without France is like going on your honeymoon without your accordian."

That's the only laugh I've had all day.

All week.

When does life start being fun again?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poor Pluto...

...stripped of its status as a planet by a bunch of literal-minded astronomy geeks.

I know how the poor thing feels, Jim.

Apparently, one of the reasons for Pluto's demotion to "dwarf planet" has to do with its orbit, which crosses that of Neptune, which is a "real" planet. If you're a planet, you have your own orbit around the sun, and aren't subject the the gravitational pull of any other space-borne body.

Just like poor Pluto, my orbit crossed that of a heavenly body, with catastrophic results.

Nothing's ever the same after that.

If Pluto was a living thing, it would no doubt blush and hide its head in shame.

I'm just happy that my fall from celestial grace was witnessed by a much smaller audience, and that no textbooks will have to be rewritten to reflect my downgraded status.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cats are weird!

A friend sent these photos, and I can't think of a word to add except to say that the maternal instinct is obviously a powerful force....

Child murder...revisited

Anyone who needs reason to fear for the collective sanity of the world needs only to look at the JonBenet Ramsey case, and the renewed furor over it.

Ten years after the murder, some sick puppy comes from out of left field and “confesses.” Or maybe he doesn’t confess; depends on who you listen to. Though it’s clear he is seriously deranged, hearsay evidence makes me believe that he had nothing to do with it, that he is nothing more than a delusional pedophile who either craves the spotlight and has no other way to attract it than to confess to a heinous crime or has, somewhere deep in the recesses of his twisted mind, constructed a horrible fantasy he now believes.

If any good can come from this, it is that a spotlight has been focused on the incredible incompetence of the authorities charged with the job of solving the case and bringing a murderer to justice. After ten years, the best they can do is go after John Mark Karr, even though the weakness of their case is apparent even to casual observers.

But the reawakening of interest in the Ramsey case has also brought back one of the less-discussed but, to me, most horrific aspects of the case. Regardless of who was responsible for the actual crime, the little girl’s parents were, in a way, aiders and abettors.

It was the parents, after all, who transformed a six year-old child into a junior sex object by involving her in the depraved world of junior beauty contests. The makeup, the clothes and the attitudes involved make this scene a playground for perverts. There should be absolutely no hint of artificial sexuality in a child’s life; the Ramsey parents, for whatever reason, ignored this rule of civilized behavior, and their daughter, transformed into a flirtatious adult in a child’s body, paid the ultimate price.

This in no way excuses, or even mitigates, the crime of murder. But, knowing that the world is full of perverts and not only ignoring but consciously catering to their sick impulses is, in itself, a crime.

You think I’m being too harsh? Explain to me what the attraction of these beauty contest is, then. Tell me what is attractive in a non-sexual way about children made to look like adults, encouraged to act like parodies of sexually aware adults.

You think I am unfairly maligning those involved with these pageants? Ask yourself why adults would want to be involved with sexualizing children. Look at the photos taken of JonBenet Ramsey in life and tell me I’m wrong. Look at the photos of any of the little girls involved in these grotesque displays and tell me I’m wrong.

The parents have certainly suffered for this, whether they understand what they have done or not. I’m not suggesting that anything further be done to the father, and the mother is dead.

But I do hope – even though I fear it’s a futile hope – that if any good can come out of the death of this child, that all parents will be more aware of all the threats their children face in this world, and will take steps to protect them as parents must.

Putting them in environments crawling with the dregs of humanity – no matter how “normal” the people involved may seem in public – is putting them at unnecessary risk. It is sending them out into the world as little targets.

At a minimum, it deprives children of the childhood, which is a crime in itself. We know what happens in the worst case.

Children have enough of a rough go in modern life as it is. Making it worse for them by unnecessarily exposing them to evil, by actively pushing them into an environment where they become potential victims, is simply unacceptable.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Where I live... it looked circa 1926.

The vacant lot circled in red is the site of my apartment building; the small two-row apartment court next to it still exists.

Much has changed, and I don't just mean that all the vacant lots have been built upon. The houses along the bluffs have long ago fallen into the sea, and several streets have been rerouted somewhat to reflect the loss of water-side land. The lighthouse at bottom center remains, minus its light, and now, as a historical landmark, sits in the middle of a park.

Even the waterfront in the upper right portion of the picture has changed, has been resculpted to accommodate new shipping terminals. There was freight coming in by ship back then, but much of the port area was used by the Navy; now, it's the province of two Red Chinese companies.

I sometimes wonder what I would have been doing if I lived here at that time. Most likely, I would have been a fisherman or a shopkeeper. Perhaps a taxi driver, a reporter for the long-since vanished local paper or, if I was fortunate, I might have been one of the musicians working in the pit at the local theater (which is also long gone). Another movie house was built in 1931, but employed no musicians. From the start, it played only "talkies," and had no live acts on stage.

Of course if I had reached maturity in 1926, I wouldn't be here to write about it.

And I would have not met a couple of people who have had negative impacts on my life, but we won't go there....

Still, the area looks damn nice, better than it does today.

Wish I could have seen it. Even more, I wish it was like this now.

February 23, 1945

Joe Rosenthal, whose photograph of Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima became one of the most enduring images of World War II, has died at the age of 94.

I can never look at this picture without feeling gratitude, not just to these Marines, but all members of our armed forces who have risked much and too often sacrificed all for their country.

Monday, August 21, 2006


Who, me?

Just because when I finally was able to force myself to do some work yesterday and was roughly one-third done, a local power failure blew away some of what I was writing? Because when the juice came back on, my W.P. program was "auto-saving" my work in a file with a different name than I gave it, a mistake I then compounded by blindly hitting "save" every five minutes and then, when I was finally through hours later, saving the wrong file and losing the whole damn thing?

No, that probably wasn't the Universe throwing more dung-balls at me. More likely, it was simple brain-fade.

Or was it?

I find it difficult to concentrate these days. No doubt my general -- and specific -- miseries have a lot to do with that, but so does a feeling that, after 20 years of writing for a living, I have just about exhausted everything I have to say about my "specialty." That feeling isn't helped by the assignments I've been getting in recent months; without exception, I find them dull and repetitive.

That sort of thing doesn't bother some people. George Bush can repeat the same tired old pap over and over, can keep making the same disastrous decisions, and he seems to think that's fine. Likewise, his opposition can blame him for everything from the disaster in the Middle East to West Nile virus outbreaks, and never stop to think that all they are doing is making themselves sound whiny and foolish. The media can talk about the same worn-out subjects ad nauseum without ever realizing their audience just doesn't care.

In my own little niche, I'm sensitive to that stuff, though. If I had ever been able to devise a computer program I dreamed up -- one that would store all my old articles and, when I fed it the product name of the latest assignment and answered a few simple yes/no questions, it would spit out completed text in my "style" -- it would probably do a better job than I'm doing these days.

I could deal with it, I think, if I actually felt my efforts were leading to some worthwhile, even rewarding, purpose, a little personal (and shared) happiness in this unhappy world. In times past, I have found such a feeling to be a welcome tonic to restore my flagging energy.

Bah. I have to put out 4500 words of clean, interesting copy this week. But my mind wanders; I think about other things, as they are and as I'd like them to be. I feel like sleeping, walking, doing things that involve no mental effort at all.

It's true that the root of all this ennui and lack of motivation is likely to be right inside my head. If I ask 20 people about it, I'm sure 19 will say that's so.

But I'm not entirely sure the Universe hasn't singled me out for exceptionally rough handling. That seems to be happening to people who are much nicer, much more deserving of good things, than me.

So the paranoia remains.

And I don't like it.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Another Saturday night...

...and, for once, I won't be posting song lyrics or animal photos. Can't find the song I'd like to use for the first, and am not in the mood for the second. Don't worry, though, gratuitous animals will most likely reappear soon....

As always, I'm alone tonight, listening to the radio. Seems odd to listen to a radio host with whom I used to work. He has a "hook" that allowed him to do certain kinds of work denied to me and, after years of parlaying this "asset" in more expected ways, it has led him to radio.

I knew he'd never last in the publishing biz. He didn't really know enough about it, and I suspect he didn't really care. He moved on quickly, attracted lots of local attention and now, despite not being particularly adept at radio by traditional standards -- when I tried it, people who stumbled over words and said "uhhh" and "y'know" a lot had no chance, but that has changed -- has a regular show. More power to you, bro.

Of course I'm only listening because he comes on before Art Bell, anyway, even though Art seems to have lost his touch a bit since moving to Manila. Makes me appreciate the "Coast to Coast AM" show's weeknight host, George Noory, all the more.

Almost all the news this week has been bad. You already know what's going on in the world, and while my opinions may differ a bit from yours, I doubt any of us have had much to cheer about.

Ditto for more local news. Granted, it's been a week without gunfire around here, and the police seem to have had an easy week. But the kind of news that might have deflected me from my own depressing thoughts has not been forthcoming. I thought there might be a slight glimmer of hope early in the week, but that turned out to be a mirage.

Yes, I'm rambling. I can't bring myself to confront my demons directly.

But that's what happens on a lonely, loveless Saturday night.

Just one more in an endless stream of lonely, loveless nights....

Friday, August 18, 2006


A pretty girl-cat who obviously regards me as a potential mail thief is the Gratuitous Cat of the Week!

And how do I know she's a girl? Genetics, that's how...all tortoise-shell cats are female....

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another day...

...burns itself out...

The carnival is over...

Inert and silent...

No smiles, no laughter, no joy...

As sad and empty as life is these days....

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was reading a great friend’s comments about being “the kiss of success” for people who have passed through his life, and the word oasis popped into my head.

That’s what I’ve been so many times in my life. A spot in the desert offering shade and sustenance for weary travelers. Those who are thirsty, hot, tired, stop in and take what they need.

And then they continue their journey, leaving me behind. Forgotten.

Apparently, the relief people get from the stop at my oasis isn’t enough. After a while, they begin to think the next oasis will offer them more sumptuous accommodations, fancier refreshments.

So they leave, with only footprints and perhaps some small, useless discards to show they’ve been here.

This has happened many times, in all aspects of my life. People have taken what they wanted and then, nourished, have left me behind.

Beyond question, there is pleasure and pride in being able to sustain people on their journeys. To know that you have been a refuge for the weary, have slaked their thirst and fed their hungers, brings a certain degree of satisfaction.

But no one has stayed. No one has cared about the promises they made while using my resources. They have accepted my gifts of love and concern, my talents, my presence in their lives as something they deserve, without feeling any concern for my desires and needs, without taking responsibility for their commitments to me.

All roads lead away from my oasis.

So I warn those who might seek shade and refreshment here in future: the last visitor drank the well dry. The last visitor uprooted the tree that gave relief from the relentless sun, killed off the garden from which sustenance came.

It was not, as far as I can tell, deliberate vandalism. The last visitor simply could not see, as others before could not, that an oasis needs to be tended, cared for, that it lives -- and dies -- based on the way it is treated. An oasis needs to have someone remain there to tend it, to give back as well as take.

I am no longer an oasis.

I no longer have a purpose.

And it hurts.


No, that's not a typo! This handsome, friendly guy is the first Gratuitous Non-Cat of the Week!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk

According to a recent Zogby poll, nearly 75% of the interviewees could name each of the Three Stooges — Larry, Moe and Curly — but only 42 percent were able to name the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. In addition, 77 percent of Americans could name at least two of the Seven Dwarfs, while just 24 percent knew two of the nine justices of the Superme Court.

These days, it's tempting to say there's no real difference between the Three Stooges and the three branches of government. Except maybe that the Stooges' brand of stupidity was funny and harmless.

And the chances of getting an intelligent legal decision from the Dwarfs are probably better than putting faith in The Supremes.

Unreal estate

The media is finally figuring out what has been all too apparent here Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea in recent months: the red-hot housing market that was goading people into buying more than they could afford and taking out huge "equity" loans, is beginning to slide into the tank.

This cunning little vacant lot with an ocean view was offered for sale at $866,000 more than six motnths ago. No guarantee of buildability is offered, since it would cost the new owner hundreds of thousands of dollars to shore up the crumbling lot and build a very expensive foundation (after getting Coastal Commission approval, which can take years). It has been reduced to $799K and, as far as I know, hasn't had any offers or even enquiries...

From fence to fence, it is barely up to the city's 1500 sq. ft. mininum area. Not all of that is usable land.

When I moved here five years ago, still being seduced by some promises made to me by a client (they didn't pan out), I looked at a few pads for sale in the neighborhood. At the time, houses were selling in days, weeks at most, and generally for more than the asking price; now, they are sitting for months, and prices are falling inexorably.

The number of foreclosures in Southern Californis have risen by more than 45% since April. Interest rates are rising. "Interest-only," minimum-payment and other trick loans are starting to explode in peoples' faces.

It's all a zero-sum game. When someone wins, someone else loses.

Strange, but I don't feel at all sorry for the people who got caught up in the system. Hard to weep for the greedy.

But I must admit that, even if the prices were to drop 50% here -- most unlikely -- I won't be buying a house here. Even with an ocean view, it's just not worth it.

For "Lola..."

...a sweet, erudite lady who is a superb writer and probably thinks I make up the titles of books I mention to her, I present this book from my library...

It's autographed, too!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Haven't got a clue... to what this means. I'll assume whoever took the time to paint it on this derelict chunk of pavement was making a statement....

Sunday, August 13, 2006

On a lighter note...

...the windsurfers were out in force around here today, taking full advantage of good breezes and a bright, sunny day.

The lifeguards were there if needed, but all they were called upon to do was soak up some sun....

I'd rather leave you with these cheerful images tonight than dwell on the insanity of the Middle East situation and my own lonely, loveless and unsatisfying life.

UPDATE: I was playing with the first image and found it could be cropped closer than I thought without losing any I've made a substitution.

I like this camera!

A message to Muslims

In recent days, I have read countless commentaries from Muslims claiming their religion is misunderstood, that Islam is a "religion of peace," and that everything would be fine if the Jews and their apologists would stop spreading distortions.

I believe many, if not all, of these commentaries are sincere.

But I cannot accept what they say.

If Islam is truly a religion of peace, it is past time for proof, not hollow words.

If certain steps were taken, I -- and, I believe, many other non-Muslims -- would have no trouble accepting the assertions of Islam's defenders.

Let the Islamic governments of the world, CAIR and other Islamic groups in the USA and elsewhere, adopt the following resolutions publicly, and then act accordingly, while holding other Muslims to the same conditions, shunning them and refusing aid to them them if they do not:

1. That Israel, the Jewish State, has a right to exist, where it is, without facing any threat from the Muslim world;

2. That Sunnis, Shiites, and other sects within Islam will no longer continue the endless cycle of violence against each other, but will live side by side in peace;

3. That violence against civilians, torture and mutilations, regardless of the victims' religion or nationality, is never acceptable;

4. That all Islamic lands will extend the same respect, tolerance and freedom within their borders to others that they expect for themselves within the United States and the Western World.

I am convinced beyond a doubt that 95 percent or more of the non-Islamic world, including Jews, would pledge similar guarantees to Muslims without hesitation. I'd sign such a pledge.

I'm also convinced that the Israelis would react positively, and U.S. troops would be speedily withdrawn from Iraq, if these pledges were made and adhered to.

But I fear too many Muslims are too choked up on their hatred, too narrow-minded and doctrinaire, to ever take these four pledges to heart.

I can hear the excuses and contorted reasoning behind their refusal now.

And that is why I cannot accept the notion of Islam, as it is practiced today, as a "religion of peace." My perception, painfully arrived at, is that Islam is a religion of violence and intolerance.

I would love to be proven wrong.

Treachery on a grand scale

Cynical as I am about world affairs, I still am surprised on occasion by the depths to which "statesmen" can sink. The so-called "cease-fire" between Israel and Lebanon/Hezbollah makes the perfidy, duplicity and simple stupidity of those in charge all too apparent.

Who would have imagined that George Bush, Mr "War on Terror," would sell Israel down the river as he has? The resolution that the U.S. and France -- France! -- put together to end the conflict places Israel's security in the hands of Kofi Annan, who is demonstrably corrupt and ineffectual, as well as being an anti-Israel Jew-hater. He will send UN "forces" (and what a joke that word is in this context) into Southern Lebanon to "keep the peace." Said troops could not be bothered to enforce a previous UN resolution calling for the disarming of Hezbollah, so how can any rational person believe it will be different this time?

Who would have imagined that the people of Israel would allow a worthless, indecisive fool like Ehud Olmert to sell them out at the bidding of the UN and the USA?

Meanwhile, the Arab states -- and Iran -- are still calling for, and planning for, the destruction of the "Zionist Entity." These hypocrites have never lifted a finger to help their Palestinian "brothers," have never offered them space within their own vast lands. All they have done was send military equipment to be used against Israel, a tiny sliver of sanity in an uncivilized part of the world.

Israel's attempts to protect its people have drawn attacks from both the Arabs and supposedly civilized nations, and have been condemned by those anti-Israel lapdogs of the left, the American and European media. These same people blithely ignore the savagery of the Islamic extremists, ignore the Arabs' call for the destruction of Israel.

World War II, the last war that actually came to a conclusion, was won when the aggressors lost the ability to make war. The current war is being brought to a halt with the aggressors still fully capable of continuing their destructive ways. And make no mistake: that is still their objective.

Think of it: the fate of a legitimate nation -- at least as legitimate as all the Arab "nations," which were carved out of the old Ottoman Empire -- is in the hands of a toothless organization led by a man who, in a rational world, would not be able to find work in a car wash; a President of the United States who has no idea what he's doing; a country (France) that has always responded to aggression by surrendering and waiting for more powerful nations to save it; a powerless country (Lebanon) that cannot even manage its own internal sovereignty, and a group of Islamic maniacs whose virulent hatred of Jews has cost them their humanity.

It amazes me that supposedly intelligent people can place any trust in the word of organizations such as Hezbollah, or nations such as Lebanon and Iran. But that's what "diplomats" do: they talk, and talk, trust everyone to play by the rules of civilizaation, and think they have secured a result when all they have done is sacrificed an entire nation in the name of "peace." Suffering, death and destruction are faraway images to them. They are safe, well-fed and well-paid.

The spirit of Neville Chamberlain lives on, in Washington and at the headquarters of the UN.

And Adolf Hitler's desire to wipe out the Jews may yet be achieved.

I'll be around....

High overhead, the Long Beach-to-New York jet makes its circle and heads East. The moon has not yet risen.

I can hear the lyrics of the melodic, haunting Alec Wilder song, I'll Be Around. They resonate with intense clarity tonight....

I'll be around
no matter how
you treat me now,
I'll be around
from now on.

Your latest love
can never last,
And when it's past,
I'll be around when he's gone.

Goodbye again
and if you find a love like mine,
Just now and then
drop a line
To say you're feeling fine.

And when things go wrong,
Perhaps you'll see
you're meant for me,
I'll be around when he's gone.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Apropos of nothing...

...the last of this morning's fog, reflecting on the water....

Your tax dollars at...

...umm, yeah, what was that word again?

Of course! Work!

Every Saturday, Sunday and holiday during the summer Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea, the city's "Parking Enforcement" department dispatches two cars to this obscure intersection of a dead-end street and a little-known secondary route to the beach....

There they sit, through the daylight hours, talking to each other, reading, talking on cell phones and stopping the handful of beachgoers who might dare to take that route and are not deterred by the barriers they set up.

They keep their cars' engines running all day as well -- have to keep that air conditioning on! -- which, despite some of the cars being hybrids (the Dodge Neon on the left certainly isn't, but the Honda Civic is), does nothing for local air quality.

Damn, I knew I should have gone to "work" for the government!

Friday, August 11, 2006


...and a rare evening.

Sometimes, when the light is just right, and the breeze is soft and warm, and I have had just the right amount of my favorite single-malt, I can almost see, hear and feel the life I wanted to be living.

I can see myself, not in my apartment, but at home. That’s a magic word to me – home – with special and wonderful connotations. It is where I am not alone, where I am appreciated, where I am loved.

I can see myself doing things that matter, that make others happy. I can see myself giving of my love, my skills, my concern. And I can see the rewards of giving.

I can see myself relaxing after a week of work done for people who appreciate my work, who reward me with decent money and respect for the care I put into every word I write.

I can hear music, hear loving words exchanged in the long, languid twilight.

I can hear laughter. My laughter, my love’s laughter, the laughter of children.

I can feel a soft hand in mine, soft lips against mine, soft silken hair flowing across my face.

And, for a moment, I am content.

Tonight is almost one of those nights. The images, sounds, feelings are just outside the boundaries of my senses.

Please don’t remind me that tomorrow morning I will, once again, awaken alone, not at home but in a quiet empty room. Don’t remind me I will not hear the laughter, see the face of the one I love, feel that soft skin against mine. Don’t remind me that my work will be as dreary and frustrating as it has been for several years.

Please don't remind me that none of this is real, that none of it can be real.

I will know all that in the morning without being told.

I know it now.

The fleeting illusions have vanished. I am, and have, so much less than I wished for. So much less than I need.

Two strange stories...

...from The Smoking Gun.

In the first one, we learn that items belonging to Theodore Kaczynski, the notorious "Unabomber," will be sold at auction, with the proceeds going to families of his victims. In case you're thinking about offering up a bid or two, there's a full list of tools, books, clothes and miscellaneous stuff that will go under the hammer.

Be the first on your block....

The second story is simply the funniest police report I've ever read.

I do fear, however, that if the perps are ever caught and the case goes to a jury, the judge may have to suppress the report, as it is clearly, well, "creative," and might easily be considered prejudicial....

Now it can be told... revealed this morning on Bill Handel's radio show:

Authorities have been puzzling over the Islamic terrorists' choice of August 16 for their jetliner terror plot. The date seems to have no significance in the Muslim world.

But it is nonetheless a memorable day.

It's the anniversary of Elvis's death.

That explains everything.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

GCotW (early this week)

These two ladies insisted on appearing as soon as possible, so they are co-Gratuitous Cat(s) of the Week!

Of course neither has any idea what "gratuitous" means....

Though they live in the same house and are remarkably similar in appearance, they are not related....

The first is 4 years old, the second is over 12....

They are generally sweet-natured cats, but the older one is quick to bite if scratched or petted in a way she doesn't like....

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A tip o' the tinfoil hat... soon-to-be-former congressperson Cynthia McKinney for the most absurd quote of the week.

Actually, I had trouble sifting one truly awful line from the mass of lunatic comments she made after getting trounced soundly in yesterday's primary election in Georgia. I think this one pretty well sums it up:

"Electronic voting machines are the greatest threat to our democracy."

I guess that would be because they let voters choose someone other than Cynthia McKinney....

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Full moon tonight...

...but on one more lonely night in an unending line of lonely nights, a view like this...

...has no more romance or mystery to it than this....