Friday, September 29, 2006

Can't Be Surprised About This Kind of Thing Anymore

From the Congressman's website, the last two news releases:


WASHINGTON - Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) introduced legislation last night along with Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) that goes after the Internet child porn industry and for the first time would hold credit card companies and Internet service providers accountable if they knowingly facilitate child pornography.

WASHINGTON - Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL), Co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus, applauded Senate passage of legislation he authored and introduced overhauling our nation’s sex offender registration and notification laws.

And from the news today...

ABC News
Foley Resigns Over Sexually Explicit Messages to Minors
September 29, 2006 3:02 PM

Brian Ross and Maddy Sauer Report:
Saying he was "deeply sorry," Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned from Congress today, hours after ABC News questioned him about sexually explicit internet messages with current and former congressional pages under the age of 18.

A spokesman for Foley, the chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, said the congressman submitted his resignation in a letter late this afternoon to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Hours earlier, ABC News had read excerpts of instant messages provided by former male pages who said the congressman, under the AOL Instant Messenger screen name Maf54, made repeated references to sexual organs and acts.

In a statement, Foley said, "I am deeply sorry and I apologize for letting down my family and the people of Florida I have had the privilege to represent."

Rusted-out '64 Rambler with an AM radio

As you've no doubt surmised if you've read the blog lately, my new gig is requiring the occasional overnight jaunt up to DC. Since it is ridiculously expensive to fly from here to National (I refuse to call it Ronald Reagan Airport) and flying into BWI would take as much time as driving, I've been driving a rental car. That's relatively convenient - it's cheaper than being reimbursed for driving my own and it saves wear and tear on a vehicle that I've finally paid for (yay!). And there's an off-airport rental car agency right across the street!

The first car a few weeks ago was sweet! 2007 Nissan Maxima, fully tricked out, less than 100 miles on it - a real pleasure to drive!

The next trip was a more basic rental car - a plain-Jane 2006 Ford Taurus with about 17K miles on it. Oddly enough it had a cassette player instead of a CD (when's the last time you saw that!?) and no frills, but it got the job done and I was no worse for wear.

This last trip, I think they had the cute blond take care of my rental agreement and walk-around to distract me from the fact that they were putting me in a 2005 Toyota Corolla with 34K miles on it and an interior that smelled of smoke. At least it had a CD player but it also had a nasty stiff ride and the "MAINT REQD" light came on on the way back through the torrential thunderstorms and would not go off. The "seatbelt unfastened" alarm also went off from time to time for no good reason and this is no little chime - it was a freaking klaxon that increased in frequency and volume for a full two minutes before finally shutting off.

I figure my next trip will be in a 2004 Honda Civic with over 50,000 miles and bald tires. If this keeps up, I'll be driving a clapped-out Renault LeCar on its second engine with an in-dash 8-track player...

...that won't work right.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mix Tapes

In my misspent youf, there always seemed plenty of time (hours and hours of it) to put together the perfect party tapes for road trips and beer blasts. And back in those days of C-90s and vinyl LPs, it actually TOOK hours and hours to do something worth listening to. I've still got almost all of those tapes, althought many of them have been played so many times in car stereos that they've almost worn out.

With modern technology, the equation is dramatically changed. For many people, it's a matter of loading up the MP3 player and plugging the cord into their car stereo - why bother making a CD? Even if one has a CD player that won't play MP3 disks, it is still much, much easier to do a disk today - a matter of half an hour or so if one is really in a hurry - than it used to be. But as I found out a few days ago, that does not lend itself to memorable comps. I mentioned a few months ago that since I'm always concerned that I'll leave a valued CD in a rental car player, I've started putting together comps that I can leave behind without worrying about it - the most I'm out is the $0.33 or so for another blank CD. Since I headed up to DC earlier this week, I decided to slap together a new one but, as is usual these days, I didn't have much time to put into it. What I ended up with wasn't bad but had some problems that I would have easily avoided back in the day.

Rental Car Number 3
01. Dialogue - Johnny Quest
02. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? - Leftover Salmon
03. Salvation - The Cranberries
04. Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong But... - Arctic Monkeys
05. New Pollution - Beck
06. You Killed My Love - Bio Ritmo
07. Elektrobank - The Chemical Brothers
08. Somebody Else's Body - Urge Overkill
09. The Vampire Song (live) - Concrete Blonde
10. Black and White - The dBs
11. Magic Johnson - Red Hot Chili Peppers
12. Flame Retardant Asbestos Suit - Sex Police
13. Note to Self: Don't Die - Ryan Adams
14. Deadbeat Club - B-52s
15. Root Down - The Beastie Boys
16. A Dame with a Rod - Juliana Hatfield
17. The Magnificent Seven - The Clash
18. Benny the Bouncer - Emerson, Lake and Palmer

First of all, if I'd been paying attention I'd have never put two songs with "vampire" in the title on the same mix. Three, yes - that makes it intentional. Two is just sloppy. Then there's the preponderance of funky beats and white boy rap - I usually try to go for more variation on these things than that. Fun but could have been better.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Comboland (again)

My blog reading has been lagging almost as much as my blog writing but I've been trying to catch up with some old favorites the last few days. In doing so, I note that local rock writer Karen Mann has a podcast of Welcome to Comboland out on I mentioned WtC here a couple of years ago - as I recall, it started out as a 3-cassette demo of local and local-ish bands that Godfrey Cheshire was flogging around Europe before it was pared down into a single LP. Self-publishing and self-promoting was a bit tougher in those pre-Internet days, so getting small European record companies interested was often a way to get your stuff out (I still have the UK-based Albion Records import LP of the dB's "Stands for Decibels"). I was never really able to judge how successful Cheshire's efforts were - I know my copy of the Bad Checks' "Innocence" was put out by a French label but beyond that I have no idea if much came of it. But the bands and songs on the Comboland LP are almost uniformly good and stand the test of time. There's a lot of overlap in bands and even songs with the Mondo Montage and More Mondo LPs that Dolphin Records put out (which reminds me that it's about time I digitized those puppies) but there are a few things that are missing from either that are nice to hear.

When I first read through the latest issue of Paste Magazine, I almost choked over their review of the umpteenth recording from Tommy Keene, first at their description of him as an iconic figure among mid-Atlantic bands and then their throwaway line about the otherwise "arid landscape of 80's music". First of all, I'm pretty sure Tommy Keene was always viewed as a third-rate Alex Chilton, who was REALLY the darling of the DC-VA-NC-GA bands. Secondly, only someone that only knows about 80's music from VH1-Classic could make such an assinine statement. I suppose that's better than the decrepit Rolling Stones writers who might make the same statement but mean something totally different (as they seem to think that nothing recorded after 1979 is worth listening to) but a listen to the podcast that Karen has posted should disabuse anyone of the notion that there wasn't good music to be had in the 80's.

Speaking of birds...

I've hardly made a study of cardinals (of birds in general for that matter) so I have no idea what their little likes and dislikes are. But I have noticed that the crepe myrtle outside my office window seems to hold a particular attraction to them, which means my eye is constantly drawn to flashes of brilliant red swooshing past my window. Yesterday at one point there were 4 male and 2 female cardinals in perched there at the same time (I would have thought they'd be more territorial than that). Brighter than a Christmas tree!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Watch out for the Owls

No, I don't mean the Temple Owls. I mean the local barred owls. Mom sent me an email from the Carolina Birders list on owl attacks on campus and now the News and Observer is reporting on owl attacks on Sewell School Road (one of the places I run). Certainly not a surprise to me as I was attacked in almost exactly the same manner a few years ago in the woods just a few hundred yards from Sewell School. In my case it was almost certainly a parent protecting a nest, but this time of year it seems a little odd - too late for nestlings and too early for mating season. Regardless, I'd suggest running with a cap on.

Some Things are Never Permissable

It's not about whether torture is effective or not. It's not about degrees of what is acceptable and what isn't. It's not even the practical matter of if we do it to theirs then they'll do it to ours. Torture is wrong and America, my America anyway, doesn't do that. For any reason. Because it is immoral and unacceptable.

It's bad enough that the current administration has driven us into the dirt to where I've even had to say the above, but I can't be too surprised given the brain damage of Bush and the evilosity of Darth Cheney and Dumsfeld. The real tragedy is that wanker David Broder is lauding the Three Amigos for pretending to stand up to Bushie before caving in when they fucking well know better. McCain, Warner and Graham get to act like they've done something to get our honor back when in fact they've knuckled under to Chimpy and are in the process of writing him a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for what he's done and what he's going to do. Clearly the administration is scared witless (how's THAT for a redundant statement?) that someone in a future administration is going to actually hold them accountable for throwing away the world's goodwill and our moral standing. I wish I could say that I thought that would actually happen, but I've lost a lot of faith in our people's ability to do the right thing. That might be the saddest thing of all about this.

Speaking too Soon

It wasn't until I read the N&O online this morning that I realized that despite BC having the ball and the lead with less than a minute to play last time I checked, NC State came back and won the damn game on a Hail Mary pass by a quarterback in his first start. So instead of being 1-3 like I thought, they're 2-2 with most of the fans convinced that they really won the Akron game as well. So Amato is off the hot seat for the moment. And again, I spoke too soon about Bunting, as News and Observer sports editor Caulton Tudor (the man every NCState fan is convinced is a closet Carolina supporter) said flat out that Coach is failing the Tar Heels and had some barely veiled criticisms of AD Dick Baddour as well.

Just as Herb Sendek was never going to take the State basketball program beyond the NIT and an occasional visit to the NCAA round of 32, Bunting is never going to take the Carolina football program beyond break-even seasons and the occasional visit to a minor bowl. Bill Dooley got the team to a place where they usually had a winning season and usually went to (and lost) the Liberty Bowl or the Gator Bowl. That wasn't good enough for the alums, so Dick Crum came in and put together some dynamite seasons and big bowl wins, but he couldn't recruit well in the state and ended up being bought out and leaving the cupboard bare. We put up with two 1-10 seasons with Mack Brown because it was clear that there was something better in the offing and sure enough there was, until he realized that he was never going to win a national championship in Chapel Hill and left for greener pastures. Since then we've had coaches that are great guys, good leaders of young men and mediocre coaches. Torbush was a defensive guy that had some great defensive teams but couldn't really move the ball well. Bunting is a defensive guy that has had some of the worst defenses in Carolina history. I don't get it. But clearly it's time to move on.

As for Amato, like I told a couple of my State fan co-workers today, he's off the hot seat until our ragged-ass, bottom-of-the-barrel Tar Babies beat 'em, which is the one thing the Bunting has done with some regularity.

But oh yeah, it's basketball season.