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T'Sup With Reynolds?

Saturday, December 20, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

So, what the hell have I been doing with myself? Those of you who follow the tedious ins and outs of my life -- prisoners, mental patients and relatives -- will know that I recently abandoned Tuscany, Italy for Irvine, California. Most of you thought: seriously? What the fuck is the matter with you, Reynolds? Are you out of your mind?

Well, the long and short of it is that there was too little parking, shopping and fast food in Italy. Also, too few Mexican restaurants. And no big box office supply stores. And then, there were the needs of the kids to consider. It would have been cruel to continue depriving the kids of theme parks, malls, bowling alleys, mini-golf and all the vast array of transient, false, plastic, soul-killing pleasures that Southern California has in abundance.

Also, I had work to do. And while the Italians are really great at . . . um . . . at . . . um . . . I'm going to say, inhabiting picturesque ruins left behind by Romans, Popes and Brunelleschis . . . they kind of sucked when it came to things like making sure my internet stayed on.

Italy: great place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there. Unless you were retired. Which I'm not. And why am I not retired? Because I managed to piss away a fairly sizable amount of money back in the 90's. Seriously, if those of you who already kind of can't stand me knew just how much I had basically thrown away with both hands, you'd really hate me.

And now back to the narrative. Which was . . . hmmmmm . . .

Okay, well, let's start back here: I'm in Irvine. Sweet Jesus, I'm in Irvine. Irvine! Isn't that a guy who owns a deli? I was in Pelago -- which sounds like a skin disease -- and suddenly felt the urge to relocate to Irvine. Is it some kind of curse? Why can I not live in a place that sounds cool? I was living in the 600 year-old stone guardhouse of the castello Nippozzano looking out over vineyards, olive trees and wild freaking boars, and now I rent a house that smells of ant-poison in the boringest place on earth and, when the atmospheric conditions are right, enjoy the sweet sounds of the 405.

One thing is for sure: I'm done with North Carolina. We sold the Chapel Hill house. It closed today. The check is in my account. And nine, count 'em, nine people are evidently inhabiting the house formerly occupied by the four of us. My ex-neighbors are so going to hate us. Oh, my God, are they going to hate us.

Of course they don't know where we are. Ah hah hah ha!

But guess what? We sold a house in this market. We got hammered, but we sold it and I am out from under that 4 g's a month. I'm using the proceeds to pay the IRS, Amex, Visa and Mastercard. I will then be debt-free. 100% debtless. Plus enough left over to take the family to one of Southern California's many family-style restaurants. Perhaps The Trough. Or Funnelbees. Or The Pukin' Pig.

Okay, I made those names up. We'll probably go to Claim Jumper because at Claim Jumper they 1) Don't care if your kids are brats, and 2) Serve portions measured not by the ounce, not by the pound, but by the Escalade. A single order of anything at Claim Jumper will feed Sierra Leone for a week. You can go to Claim Jumper, order just one kid's meal and six or eight martinis and handle the needs of a family of four.

Here's what's weird: I'm happy. I know. It makes no sense. First of all, look who I have to spend most of my time with: me. Would you be happy spending all day long with me? No! No rational person would. And yet, I am kinda pleased. And I'm not even drunk. Yet. But I have some fast-ass internet, I love the Gelson's market (tag line: "You Thought Ralph's Was Expensive?"), I'm thinking of getting an Audi A-6, which will never of course replace my late, lamented, beloved, sainted S-500, but which should be enough to let me hold my own on the 405, and I have a second series to write which involves, get this my fellow nerds: creating a language!

I am making up words, contemplating an Audi, debt-free, not in any really serious trouble with the IRS, in possession of both Ashton Maduros and Macanudo Golds, watching Xena on DVD every night with my daughter, plotting world domination with my son, enjoying the fact that my wife is still hot at 52, and sucking on a bottle of Maker's Mark. (Knob Creek carries too many associations, mostly from last week in New York with an editor/agent who shall remain nameless.)

You realize what this means? Tumor, earthquake, heart attack or freak mudslide. I'd stay clear of me if I was you.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

The guy is cold. I've said it from the start. Actually, it surprises me that I've gotten this guy so right. But maybe it's just that like recognizes like. Like gaydar. Except this is is dickdar. Obama's kind of a dick. Calculating.

Throughout the election people all over the web were yammering about Obama being a radical, or a crook, or a wimp, or this or that or the other off-target fantasy. I kept telling people, nope. He's smart, he's subtle, and he's got a nice touch of ruthlessness. Radical? Nah. Weak? No.

This does not mean that Obama has no moral core, no strongly-held beliefs. It means he reads the power dynamics and plucks the strings he needs to pluck.

Latest evidence: Rick Warren. The gay-bashing pastor of a right-wing mega-church will be giving the invocation at the new president's inaugural. The Left is predictably batshit. But who's really hurt by this? Who did Barack Obama just shiv? Every other right wing loudmouth religious nut but especially, especially, especially Dr. (yeah, right) James Dobson.

Obama just chose the leader of his religious right opposition. He just knocked the nasty out of his craziest opponents by picking the kinder, gentler version of the creature. Dobson is done. Warren is the new voice of the bible-thumpers. And that new voice will now owe the new president.

If Warren says something crazy at the ianugural, he embarrasses himself, makes himself and by extension his people, the skunks at the picnic. He'll have driven his own movement still further into intellectual exile.

If he doesn't say something crazy, he signals his readiness to treat with Obama and achieve some sort of detente. Which will drive the loonier of the loons into frothing madness.

Either way, Obama wins.

Gays will scream. Gay marriage supporters (and I am one) will scream. But no one will scream louder than James Dobson. And in the end, I'd guess within a year, gays and their supporters will get what we need from Barack Obama. And we'll get it in part because of this move.

This isn't betrayal. This is a guy showing a hell of a lot more smarts than the so-called "gay community" has shown in advancing its agenda. This is a guy who doesn't want to posture or express himself: he wants to win.

Oh yeah. My dickdar is definitely tingling.

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Strange Company

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

Statement #1:

I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.

From now until the inaugural, Republicans should be offering to help the President-elect prepare to take office.

Furthermore, once President Obama takes office, Republicans should be eager to work with him when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him.

This is the only way the Republican Party will become known as the "better solutions" party, not just an opposition party. And this is the only way Republicans will ever regain the trust of the voters to return to the majority.

Statement #2:

What I find fascinating is the eagerness of so many on the right to crow about the end of hope and change. I think you’ve given last rights to hope and change on half a dozen occasions already.

Is that really where the GOP wants to go? You have nothing of your own to offer so you want to identify yourselves as the prophets of doom? And when doom doesn’t arrive? What do have then?

You’re fighting straw men. And you’re going to lose your battle with straw men. And then what are you?

And a bit further down the page in that same link, Statement #3:

Now, I’m telling you this stuff won’t fly. The GOP new needs ideas and a new approach. You can’t win by announcing the death of Hope and Change, because until you figure out where you’re actually going it puts you in the position of representing Despair and Stasis. You can’t drive the country into a ditch and then sit on the side of the road criticizing the folks who come along and try to pull it back out. It will make your party even more despised than it already is.

Statement #1, Newt Gingrich. Statements #2 and #3, me. Newt Gingrich and I are on the same page. That can't be good.

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Christmas Spirit. Totally.

Monday, December 15, 2008 by Michael Reynolds

1- The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Mel Tormé, Robert Wells
2- Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie
3- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin
4- Winter Wonderland - Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith
5- White Christmas - Irving Berlin
6- Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne
7- Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - Johnny Marks
8- Jingle Bell Rock - Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe
9- I’ll Be Home For Christmas - Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram
10- Little Drummer Boy - Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone

What’s that list? The most popular Christmas carols, according to this site which is probably just making it up.

I hate Christmas. I don’t mean that I hate it in a cute Grinch-Scrooge-Christmas Special kind of way where I just need to learn the true meaning of Christmas. I will not be redeemed at the end of this tale. I will not be reformed by spectral visitations. There’s no reassuring moral at the end of this tale. So if you’re looking forward to saying, “Awww. . .” you’re reading the wrong blog post.

Christmas is dominated by two very problematic characters: Baby Jesus and Santa Claus.

The story of the baby Jesus, as most of you know, is essentially a tale of horror. First, He’s chased around by a megalomaniac ruler who’s decided to kill Him. Herod misses Jesus but manages to kill all the other baby boys in the vicinity, which casts something of a pall over the Baby Jesus’ holiday season.

Then the Baby Jesus’ Christmas takes an even worse turn when the only gifts he gets are gold, frankinscense and myrrh. The baby Jesus can’t play with myrrh. He doesn’t even know what myrrh is. Baby Jesus wanted a rattle and a teething ring, was that so much to ask for? But no: it’s krugerrands and two different types of tree resin.

The Baby Jesus was like, “What, I wasn’t a good little boy? You calling Me naughty? You know who I am? Do you not notice the way all My pronouns are capitalized? Take your myrrh on out of here and bring Me one of those toy lawnmowers that goes pop! pop! pop! when I push it around the stable.”

And 33 years after that first disastrous Christmas, the Baby Jesus ends up having an even worse Easter.

As for Santa Claus, he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good. At best Santa has serious boundaries issues. At worst we’re looking at a monstrous villain who uses illegal means to invade the privacy of children all over the world. God only knows what he does with the data he compiles.

All of which explains why Christmas music is so grim and joyless. When you base a holiday on the lives of a deprived, doomed baby and a sneaky blackmailer, you’re not going to get a lot of cheerful tune-age. The average Nine Inch Nails album is happier than any collection of Christmas carols.

Christmas carols, with their incessant demands for weather phenomena that each year lead to dozens of traffic deaths, with their tales of brutal hazing endured by malformed reindeer, their disturbed hallucinatory rants (I’ll be home for Christmas if only in my dreams,) and their barely-disguised drug culture anthems (I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, sniff, sniff. Merry and bright? Uh huh, we get it, Irving,) are the inevitable result of a culture debased by this forced celebration of hay-bound babies and overweight peeping toms.

But no Christmas carol so exemplifies the underlying horror of Christmas as The Little Drummer Boy.

I’ll play my drum for Him, parumpah pum pum.

Hey, about you play the drum later, champ? The Baby Jesus is trying to sleep. He’s got a headache from the Myrrh. And He’s finally down. So be a good kid and . . .

I’ll play my drum for Him, parumpah pum pum, rumpah pum pum, rumpah pum pum.

Look kid, the Virgin Mary and I have had a long couple of days. The Baby Jesus is finally asleep and we’d really like to curl up on some nice cow-crap-saturated hay and catch a couple Z’s ourselves, so . . .

Come they told me, parumpah pum pum!

Who told you? Was it those shepherds? I am going to kick . . .

Rumpah pum pum . . .

Great! Now He’s awake. You rotten little brat with your stupid drum, you woke Him up! He’ll probably turn my wine into water again.

Pum . . . Pum . . . Rumpah pum pum . . .

You never hear about what happened next to the “little” drummer boy, do you? No, they leave out that verse.

Run, they told me parumpah pum pum
Joe’s got a baseball bat parumpah pum pum
He says he’s had it up to rumpah pum pum
And if I want to live I’ll run papum run
Run papum run
Run papum run.

Kid got away, but it was a close call. And he never played the drum again, I can tell you that.

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