Hey, look… the missus is famous…

Tomorrow night is the opening of Lisa’s theater company’s first play. You can read all about it here.

Cesnik now is putting her own distinctive stamp on the city’s cultural scene, having founded the Rose of Athens Theatre, which will make its debut with “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” in early December at Jittery Joe’s Coffee Roasting Company on East Broad Street.

The play – written by members of the New York-based Reduced Shakespeare Company – is a fast-paced musically tinted comic overview of the old and new testaments in around two hours. “The Bible” features only three actors: Cesnik, Lisa Mende and Sean Arington.

It’s going to be great. Go read the whole article!

If you really want to know what’s actually happening in Iraq

It might help to turn off the US news and watch this.

There are Shi’ite death squads roaming the streets of Baghdad and if you want to know how they got there, you should google “Salvador Option Iraq” and see what you discover.

Especially this article.

What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called “the Salvador option”—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported “nationalist” forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report “utterly gratuitous.”)

Um. Yeah. As if Negroponte had any reputation left to protect.

It might be time to take another look at that VHS copy of Blazing Saddles

They’re doing the Lord’s work over at the TPM café, keeping up with this stuff

Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to evanglical Christians in preparation for his possible Presidential campaign is running into very stiff resistance from the Christian right. As the Chicago Tribune reported recently, Obama is set to attend a huge evangelical gathering in California on Dec. 1, at the invitation of megachurch Pastor Rick Warren, the evangelical superstar who wrote The Purpose-Driven Life. Analysts have interpreted Obama’s scheduled appearance as a sign he’s working much harder than Dems ordinarily do to win over Evangelicals.

But the appearance is now provoking an intense backlash from leaders of the Christian right. They are calling on Warren to disinvite Obama from the event because of his liberal positions, especially abortion rights — or as one of those leaders put it, Obama’s support of “the murder of babies in the womb.”

From Blazing Saddles:

Bart: Mornin’, ma’am. And isn’t it a lovely mornin’?
Elderly woman: Up yours nigger.

Try to live with the crappy music

Here is a video of some of the buildings in Benissa, my favorite city where the Low Lows played in Spain.

Whoever shot this missed some of the most interesting things about Benissa. Yes, the buildings and the streets were cool, but the people were the best thing about the city. The Saturday market was incredible. I don’t know, I don’t really go to a city to solemnly walk through the 500 year old churches- I go to meet people, sit at the cafés and watch the world go by. The light, the food, the music and the bells in the cathedral tower downtown are entrancing.

Still, this gives you an idea of the stark white buildings against the cobalt blue sky. Let’s all move there when we’re old.

Blessed are the… something… wait wait… it’ll come to me…

On the heels of TRex’s rant about shockingly unchristian Christians comes this astonishing bit of irony:

A subdivision has withdrawn its threat of $25 daily fines against a homeowner who put a Christmas wreath shaped like a peace sign on the front of her home.

Homeowner Lisa Jensen told The Associated Press on Monday that the board of directors of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association had apologized, called the incident a misunderstanding and had withdrawn its request for the wreath’s removal.

Jensen was ordered to take the wreath down when some residents in her 200-home subdivision saw it as a protest of the Iraq war. Bob Kearns, president of the board, also said some saw it as a symbol of Satan.

Symbol of peace, symbol of satan… same thing, right?

OH, he meant symbol of STAN, the hippie down the street. That makes so much more sense.

Safe at home

and hanging with my dogs.

It’s good to be home. Yesterday’s flight was a breeze after flying over to the UK the same day I ran the Marine Corps Marathon. I even got a little sleep on the plane.

If you ever want to make a transatlantic flight go down nice and easy, grab a copy of the weekend Manchester Guardian. I didn’t have time to read the whole thing before wheels touched tarmac in Atlanta.

Customs was, as always, a pain in the ass and baffling at the same time. Walk through here, present your passport to this man, walk through there, get your luggage, walk through this checkpoint, present your passport again, walk past a bunch of bored and sleepy looking people who might want to search your luggage, but don’t really, then put your luggage back on a conveyor belt and walk through ANOTHER security checkpoint, removing shoes, glasses, belts, watches, wallet, cellphone, keys, and then proceed to baggage claim, to pick up your luggage a second time.

I am sure that if there was a better way to do this, someone would have suggested it by now, but lord GOD that’s annoying when I am tired.

Hurt my back a little bit hauling suitcases around, but other than that, I am not feeling any real effects of jetlag or all of the travel I have done. I could probably have slept all day today, but I am still on London time, mostly, so I was up at 7am.

My dogs are happy to see me, my wife doubly so. I have not seen the boys in Music Hates You yet, but that’s next on my list.

Thanks to Kim at Monotreme for an excellent tour. Thanks to Keef Duncan for driving us around. Thanks to the Hot Swinging Architects for making sure we had fun in London. Thanks to Vicky and David for being such excellent tour guides. Thanks to the Luminaire for being the best rock club on the east side of the Atlantic. Thanks to Parker and Daniel from the Low Lows for having me over, and Jeremy for graciously yielding his spot and teaching me all of the songs before I left.

Can’t wait to see you all again. We had such fun. Please stay in touch. I am going to go take a very hot bath and soak my old back.

Hey, holy cow, it’s been four years

I have been blogging for four years now. I think that the last few weeks of tour blogging have been the most fun for me of all the blogging I have done in the past year or so. I need to do more traveling and writing about it.

Since it’s Thanksgiving and I am the Last Low Low in London, I am going to treat my readers who are loyal enough to stop in today with a great story from my first year of blogging. I think that this Thanksgiving tale was maybe my second or third blog entry. Enjoy!

Ah, mon petit fleur…


I have a great dog, and I love him. He’s been a good guy to have around during some of the more trying events of the past couple of years of my life. But he can be a handful.

He tends to be very protective- sometimes aggressive with strangers, very keen on running off any other animals on his turf.

We were down visiting some of my lovely and talented girlfriend’s family in Indiana for the Thanksgiving holidays. We had been there for a couple of days and my massive and usually territorial dog had been worn down by lovely and talented girlfriend’s mom’s repeated offerings of ham and turkey scraps. (and cheese, and gravy, and a little bit of mashed potatoes….) Mostly he was just lying around snoring and occasionally lifting his round belly off of the floor to go out and have a wazz.

It was on one of these trips to the loo that he started snuffling around like he had scented something. He was hustling around the yard, searching for something that only he could smell. There had been a bag with some turkey parts that had been discarded temporarily by the back door (and I presume forgotten in the heated rush and crush of a large family gathering for the feast), and I figured that maybe the neighborhood cat had been after them before we came out. As the dog neared the bag I thought, “Surely the cat has moved on by now… it wouldn’t just sit there and let itself be backed into a corner.”

The next few seconds were mostly a blur. I heard something (not my dog) hiss as the dog lunged behind the air conditioner. I started over there thinking “Aw, man, he’s going to eat somebody’s cat…” and yet there were no cat-like noises. No howling or any of that nasty low-throated grinding sound that cats make when they are threatened. So, I am scrambling to see what was going on, thinking maybe there was a (really stupid) (mute) cat backed up under the air conditioner hissing at the dog and waiting for him to go away, when I see the twin jets of skunk juice flying out of the corner at my dog. (If you have seen this, it is a very unique site. A skunk can spray that foul, horrifying stuff like a super-soaker up to ten or so feet. Since a skunk has two scent glands under his tail, they come out as twin jets.) I decided to let my old dog settle this one on his own, because at that point there was nothing I could do for him.

Egad, what a horrible smell. I have driven by places in the road where skunks have met their maker beneath the wheels of some car or truck, but this was that compounded ten times. It was the odor of evil. And it was expanding to fill the yard fast. I backed up as far as I could.

My old dog, tough though he may be, has only backed down from confrontations with two animals- once he and a goose beat each other silly while I tried to wedge my way in there and stop them from killing each other. I never realized a goose could raise a welt like that on someone, and apparently, neither did my dog. We both rather ignominously backed out of that confrontation and made a pact never to speak of it again. And the only other time he has ever retreated from a fight was last night, and when he found his way away from that corner where the mustard gas spraying rodent was sequestered, he was clearly beaten. Clearly.

He was drooling and sneezing and his eyes were running and he smelled AWFUL. I made him follow me to the garage, where I locked him in. There was no way he was going back into the house smelling like that. His ride on the leftovers train had just come to a grinding, screeching halt.

I made a run to the grocery store and bought six large cans of tomato juice and a bottle of some sort of enzymatic cleaner that was supposed to help with skunk smell. Washing him was an excercise of will- he wanted no part of a cold weather hose bath in the unheated garage of the house, and I wasn’t going to let him go anywhere until he had at least three baths… (Just to be on the safe side.)

Today he doesn’t REEK like he did yesterday, but he still has a little muskiness to him.

In the future I am hoping that he will know not to chase any cat with white stripes or a French Accent.

These kinds of days

Today was a classic touring day- we drove all day just to get home. We made it to Clermont-Ferrand in France. This is a Michelin town- they make a lot of the tires here. It wasn’t much to look at in the dark.

The high point of the day and the low point were just minutes apart- we drove across the highest bridge in the world. The thing was astonishingly tall. Even in the dark it was disconcerting to be up that high. We decided to drive down into the valley and have a meal in the town of Millau.

At the only bistro open at that hour, Keef and I had steak frites and Daniel had some sort of pasta thing. Afterwards, we went to drive to the foot of the massive bridge so we could look up and gape. This whole trip, Keef has been saying what a pain in the ass the police can be in South France. Sure enough, we got pulled over on the way to the bridge. I found it extremely disconcerting to be barked at in a language I speak badly under the best of circumstances. I did my best to handle them like I have handled US cops in the past- give them what they ask for, volunteer pertinent information and keep them engaged, all the while making good eye contact. They were plainclothes National Police.

The whole time, I had this impression that they weren’t real cops and that any second we were going to be shaken down for a bribe, but as we finally drove away Keef said that that’s just the way that the National Police in France present themselves- no visible badges, no guns, unmarked Renault. The only indication that I had that I wasn’t just dealing with some thug was that he had a maglight, a buddy who had the same maglight, a floppy patch that said “Police Nationale” in a wallet next to a photo ID that I could barely see in the dark, and he had shoes on that no Frenchman would ever wear unless he had to. French guys just don’t do clunky-black by choice.

The whole thing took about ten minutes, and I just kept talking to them in my nervous French and handing them documents and bags that they hadn’t asked for in order to keep them busy. I find that if I do these things with as angelic a look on my face as I can muster, all the while asking completely innocuous questions, hoping that the police would just get tired of taking things from me and answering insipid questions. Imagine spending an entire evening shaking down a guy who keeps looking you directly in the eye and saying “So, do you need my work permit as well? I have six copies- and the original is down at the bottom of this bag. Here- you can look through the bag… while I try to find that permit…. is this copy clear enough? Oh, look, here’s another…”

Actually, considering the state of my French when I am nervous, what I probably said was “So, sir, do you need my tractor certificate? I have sex. Down at the bottom of this bag is a pack of small birds. Hear that? You can see all sorts of things down there in these bags. I will fly to St. Tropez in the meantime… How’s the weather? Oh, look, your mom called.”

They probably let us go because they didn’t have the facilities to deal with a crazy person. Especially a chatty one.

French cops. What a pain.

As they drove away, Keef said “Right, next time, DON’T ‘bon soir!’ the police. They hate that.”

Um. OK.

After that, we stood under the tallest bridge in the world, looking up at one of Man’s greatest engineering marvels, and all I could think was “God, what a pain in the ass that was. Fuckers.”

The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful. Days like this are when glam metal bands write those godawful songs about how much touring sucks. Sure, driving is the worst part of traveling, and touring is 75% driving, but don’t ferfuckssake write songs about it…. you just sound like a whiner.

Tomorrow, we are going to Versailles. Keef corrected me. Today was just the day to close some of the gap between us and London.

As we drove, we had a long discussion about an unnamed band who stole a six foot inflatable banana from a venue where they had played, then got into a world of trouble about it. The venue had been incredibly shitty to them, so they took their revenge by stealing their banana. Then, apparently, there was a whole shitstorm of the club calling the band’s manager and demanding that the banana be returned (What wouldn’t you give to have a recording of THAT call?) and the band has been forced to deny any knowledge ever since.

I am only telling you this because I think that the band should put the banana on the cover of their next record. The title?

“Banana non grata”

I crack me up.

great goshamighty

I can’t wait to get back to the US, where the 13 ft. pythons roam… and die trying to eat gators

An unusual clash between a 6-foot (1.8m) alligator and a 13-foot (3.9m) python has left two of the deadliest predators dead in Florida’s swamps.
The Burmese python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole but then exploded.

The remains of the two giant reptiles were found by astonished rangers in the Everglades National Park.

Heavy-handed metaphor alert!!!

Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Simpson… you’re going to have to work this one out before one of you busts open…