My Tsunami is bigger than your Tsunami!

Apparently the name of the game, re: tsunami donations, is now “my dick is bigger than your dick.”

One-upping the United States, France nearly doubled its aid pledge for tsunami victims to $57 million Thursday and briefly claimed the role as leading donor nation, after barbs from Washington about French generosity.

But Britain quickly topped France by more than tripling its donation to $95 million, and Sweden promised $75.5 million. Spain’s Cabinet approved a $68 million package, although about a fifth was in loans.

“I’m more generous than you are!”

Carmen Erin Arizzi


The last time I saw C. Erin Arizzi was at the Executive Plaza, in Hunt Valley, maybe late September or early October. We were both on deliveries, working at two different shops across the road from each other. I pulled up alongside him and we greeted each other, wished each other luck, and went our seperate ways in pursuit of the almighty tip.

If I had to describe C. Erin Arizzi, I would say he was a person impossible to hate, with an infectuous grin and an easy word for everyone. The clearest memory I have of hanging out with him at a social gathering was four years ago, just before Thanksgiving, as his band, Ruby Minor, played a show at Otto’s Grotto. It was a Friday night, and I hadn’t been planning on going, but something forced me out of my apartment at the Colony and down I-83 into a city that frankly terrified me. The place itself certainly deserves the title “ghetto”, with its crumbling walls and stained decor. I have memories of forcing my way through a crowd to the bar, and shouting to make myself heard over the band, meeting other co-workers there, trying to play pool on a table that if memory serves was off-tilt.

He was always easy to spot on the road – rail thin, bald, with a full beard. He looked sort of like my grandfather, I remember (although gramps never had a beard), although sixty-some years younger. His car — a black Nissan Maxima — wore as its sole decoration a Maryland flag bumpersticker on the rear.

We’d both worked at a pizza shop on York Road in Cockeysville together for a few years. One day that first summer he came into the store agitated – someone had mistaken the pizza sign on top of his car for a taxi sign and had tried to get a ride to the city.

I don’t think anyone ever teased him or asked him why he had two girls’ names – Carmen and Erin. He would’ve made a joke if someone had. I don’t think I ever saw him get angry. He was one of those guys who went to school one semester a year, paying for it himself. He loved his cats, and off-beat movies. He’s the one who recommended that I see Best in Show and Royal Tennenbaums.

The first year I knew him, he told me his roomate had just gotten a job teaching English. I asked him where, and he told me, “Some school with a crazy name that probably no one knows – Atholton.” Well, actually, I did know the name – I graudated from there. As it turns out, his roommate taught my sister her senior year.

This morning I swung through Hampden to visit an ex-co-worker of mine. We’d both worked with Erin. At first she was happy to see me, then sad. “I’ve been trying to get in touch with you, but my cell phone is broken and that’s where I have your phone number. Did you hear about Erin?”

And I just sort of knew, the way she said that, the redness in her eyes. Something related to his diabetes, but I was sort of tuning her out by that point.

C. Erin Arizzi’s funeral was last Tuesday. I spent all day today looking at the backs of every Nissan I saw. Looking for a Maryland flag.

I'm going to be guest blogging!

I will, for a while, be guest-blogging over at MY LEFT BRAIN.

As this is akin to an actor in a school play being asked to perform on Broadway (or at least, off-Broadway), it would be justified to describe myself as “excited.” Also, “estatic.”

My arm hurts because I just pinched myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I’m not, but I am bleeding now. Stupid finger nails.

Conservatives are natural followers.

Rick ponders our ability to market an idea, and why it is so vital that we learn how to do so.

It seems to me not just snarkiness to note that one of the “problems” is that the liberal message historically has been a kind of reactive message. The Left has always been about striving for a better society, a better world. Improvement. Doing that naturally involves pointing out what’s wrong with the existing structures and processes; hence, the reactive mode and, hence, the reason conservatives often appear to set the agenda. Furthermore, many liberals (small “el” to denote lack of organization) have their own pet issues, or, if you will, priorities and are not easily pressed into becoming part of a larger propaganda machine. Conservatives are natural followers.

Top that off with the fact that right now (pun intended, to those who got it) there’s a lot that’s going wrong, partly because the conservative leadership isn’t truly conservative. That’s why they’re often referred to as neo-conservatives. They’re radically transforming the world — something which is normally the province of liberals — but they’re doing it in a negative way. They wish to resurrect an older world which, unfortunately, is able to pull energy from a variety of elemental self-serving drives of what had been a waning power. Bigots longingly wish for the days when gay-bashing was acceptable, where men were men and women were not competitive in the job market, where non-whites — who these days are really a minority only in the Republican Party — “knew their place.” Corporations long for the days of exploitation for profit without concern about resources, including human resources. They dream of slave labor, or, failing that, of pliable serfs who know better than to question the Nobles.

Additionally, it’s difficult for liberals to coordinate or consolidate in the way the conservatives have done. After all, since conservatives seldom dig very deeply into any “issues,” they really have just a few key points to hammer. To pick just one example, the Right is not doing any kind of deep analysis of anti-gay social policies — most of them just hate gays. Period. I’d be surprised if they even knew why other than “it’s unnatural.” (That’s in quotes to pre-emptively dispel any thought that the idea expressed therein is mine; they’re scare quotes.) There’s no attempt to understand what constitutional implications their stance has. And sound bites like “it’s unnatural” are easier to propagate when one doesn’t have to ponder what they really mean or whether they’re really true.

On the other hand, liberals frequently do consider such things. One reason my typical blog entry is so long is the combination of trying to make my arguments complete and consider some of the implications, or side issues. (Maybe I should elide more with the hope that it will stimulate interstitial comments and, when it doesn’t, just generate another post.)

The bold, of course, is mine. And that’s why we need to be ever vigiliant and kick some ass.

It's like a movie! With Julia Roberts & Vin Diesel!

Zenchick, regarding the tsunami disaster, observes, “it’s like a movie. What is so sad about that is that after watching movies that depict things like this, in some ways we have become numb to the real suffering that occurs.”

According to the news report this morning on 98-Rock, the death toll is now up to 60,000. And this USA Today story writes that in some embattled nations, even sides embroiled in civil war are putting aside their arms to help the victims. Touching, no?

After a lot of criticism, the US more than doubled the amount of relief aid it is sending, from $15 million to $35 million. Some might accuse Rox Populi of sarcasm when she writes, “So, that’s like having Vin Diesel and Julia Roberts in the same flick.”

I read somewhere that the French had only pledged $100,000 to help, but the closest I can find to confirm it is Jeff Jarvis.

Tas has offered a blogger challenge to help raise money for the Tsunami victims, and Chepooka has a reward for those who do. No, it isn’t nude photos. I know, right?

Lee might seem to be ranting and raving like a lunatic, “it was a secret nuclear detonation by the Israeli government, the intent of which was to wipe out as many Muslims as possible. And, showing their contempt for those of the Muslim faith, the Mossad warned the animals in advance of the attack,” but in reality he’s just mocking Rome. Captain’s Quarters notes that the Vatican’s anti-Israeli bias has slipped out. But, wait, doesn’t the Vatican have a bias to everyone not a Catholic? I wonder how much the Vatican donated to relief?

Beer Snob

I’m a bit of a beer snob.

First, let me tell you about the first time I got drunk.

It was two or three days before my 21st birthday. I’d had a sip or two of beer before (er, in the months preceeding my b-day), but I’d never really acquired a taste for the stuff before. A couple guys from work took me out for a beer after that closing shift – I think it was a bar named “Michael’s” in the King’s Contrivance village center in Columbia.

I sat next to my co-worker Mike at the bar. He ordered a Bass Ale for himself. “What do you want?” the barkeep asked me. “What he’s having,” I said.

I drank a tall frost glass of Bass. And with Mike, Mike’s wife Dawn, and another co-worker, Adam, we went bar hopping. At a bar in Wilde Lake, I was handed a shooter — Mike and Adam assured me they were both doing shots, too. I found out later they had coke in their glasses. I threw that shot back – and WOW. A few minutes later, in the bathroom, I observed to Adam, “Is the floor supposed to move like that?”

Since then – six years ago – I’ve been a snob for dark, British beers. Bass, Harp, y’know. Anyway, tomorrow night I’m having some co-workers over to watch “Shaun of the Dead.” I decided to do a beer run since I want to be a good host. I bought some Corona, and some Harp, and I bought a six-pack of BudIce since I know some of the younger drinkers like that crap.

Well, tonight, I got home, reached in the fridge, grabbed a bottle, popped the cap and chugged.

Hmmm, I thought. That doesn’t taste like Bass …

BUD ICE? I’m drinking BUD ICE?

I don’t know what shocks me more. That I’m drinking Bud Ice … or that I actually like it.


Date a Geek?

Well, I mean, all the cool girls do.

So, your crush on the bass player from Vibrating Sandbox has finally died a whimpering death and you’re wondering where to go from here. All the sinister dudes are either dating a series of interchangeable high-school riot girls in baby doll dresses and an overdose of manic panic, or permanently shacked up with some bitter old lady who pays all the bills. Which will it be, a wifely prison or a humiliating one night stand? Into this void of potential mates comes a man you may not have considered before, a man of substance, quietude and stability, a cerebral creature with a culture all his own. In short, a geek.

Yes, and I look cute when chugging a bottle of wine.


Who the Hell would EVER defend a sweatshop?

Well, the holiday is over, and with that said …

Your old friend and mine, Jeff the Baptist, likes sweat-shops so much, he posted a link to this blog which defends the practice!

Jeff the Baptist says, “She basically says that rich liberals from developed nations (like the US) are busy-bodies who should shut the hell up about the plight of the worker in developing nation.” Which is interesting, because according to the blogger profile, the author of the article is actually a he. That’s beside the point, the point being, what kind of fucking Christian defends sweatshops?

Oh – and just so Jeff the Baptist becomes aware of this – poor liberals, like me, also oppose the practice. That’s just for your info, Jeff the Baptist.

Jeff the Baptist needs to ask himself, “What would Jesus do?” I’m fairly certain Jesus wouldn’t approve of sweatshops, or of those who defend the practice. I’m a “recovering” Catholic (take that however you want), but when I still went to mass, I can at no time remember anyone – EVER! – defending big corporations at the expense of the little guy. If anything, it was the other way around – the little guy was to be fought for, whether it was the government or big business out to get him.

Well, if Jeff the Baptist wants to sell out Jesus for a bigger paycheck, that’s cool.

Back to Maobi’s article, I don’t know about you, but if someone from a 3rd world country is going to be defend the practice of sweatshops, maybe it should be someone who actually has to work in the sweatshop, and not someone who “live[s] in a middle class neighbourhood in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur. It seems comfortable to me and it seems convenient.

I wonder how comfortable and convenient it would seem if this person had to work in a sweatshop.

Here in the United States, we have a history of sweatshops, and that generally led to bad things happening, but then good things, too: like child labor laws. And then stupid things: like “Christians” defending the same practices. But I guess, if it’s in the third world, it’s all okay.

WTF ever.

Hey. Er.

I have to do some “last minute” cleaning tomorrow, because Tuesday night, some folks from work are coming over to watch “Shaun of the Dead”, which is only the funniest movie ever made. At least, recently. If you have it – make sure to check out the “Plot Hole” segment in the special features. Hi-larious!

My family and I watched both “Shaun…” and the original “Manchurian Candidate” yesterday. My sister really didn’t like “Shaun…”, my mom thought it was okay, and my dad was laughing his ass off when Shaun, Ed, and Liz were dancing around the zombie barkeep whacking him with pool cues to the tunes of Queen.

I’ve been blogging light the past couple of days – never fear, I’ll be back in the swing of things shortly.

more photo whoring

I uploaded some more pictures … I’m going to do these as “popup” so they don’t slow everybody down, right?

First, here’s my computer desk. It is – slightly – messy.

The living room. Both cats are on the ledge looking outside. This time — this time! — Guy has the weird glowing eyes. He’s a weird one, that cat.

Huh. These were supposed to be thumbs, but they don’t seem to be posting that way. Oh well. Live and deal, right? Right?

Update: think I have it fixed now …

Merry Christmas (II)

Merry Christmas to everyone!

This is what I did for most of the day:


Here are my pussies, too. First, we have Guy. I think the flash feature was a bit much for him.


And here we have Tippy, bravely defending the carpet from … something.


And also some pictures of my apartment.


That’s the view from the door into the apartment. See the vacuum cleaner? I cleaned!


Looking into the living room — the Spock poster on the wall is actually a Heineken promotion. Spock’s ears hang limp, he drinks a beer, they go up! Cool!


The kitchen. The cupboards are filled with Chef Boyardee.

Oh – can anyone guess what I got for Christmas?



Here’s the back wall of my apartment. See the vacuum cleaner and assorted cleaners? It’s because I cleaned. Also, Scary Eye Cat Tippy trying to sleep on a shelf. Isn’t she cute?