The eleventh month (despite its name) starts out with some things that make me go "Hmmmm...."
A catalog from TLA Video, which supplies mainly gay-themed entertainment, has a section of items described as "Gay, But Not Gay." Among them: American Beauty and Fight Club. It's all in how you look at it, I guess.
And a non-landed (by which is meant they don't own their own facilities) naturist group (this should require no explanation) sends word that they have added to their scheduled offerings clothing-optional bowling. What I want to know is: do they still rent shoes?
From the looks of things, it's going to take heavy drugs to get through the rest of the Presidential campaign or at the very least, a timed-release placebo. I suspect that the only good thing that will come out of all this is that the Capitol Steps will have four years of guaranteed A-level material.
And, come 2004, there should be a fresh outbreak of "Flush All Incumbents" fever, which might be worth the wait though anyone elected from this state needs to be flushed, a heck of a lot, um, Sooner.
I really don't understand all the fuss. I mean, as President, George W. Bush would have a designated driver, 24/7.
Then again, here in Oklahoma we tend to shrug at such things, largely because so many of our public figures turn up soused behind the wheel (or behind the podium), and even when they don't, driving conditions here are generally dubious anyway.
Well, KQOK, channel 30, is on the air, and it was scarcely worth the wait. They're carrying the satellite feed from something called ACNtv, "America's Collectibles Network", ostensibly the largest vendor of loose gemstones on earth. No doubt there is a market for this sort of thing, and I suppose it's better than what Glenn Hauser calls "gospel huxters", of which we already have an abundance, but still it's somewhat disheartening.
And then there's the rain. Still. It broke for much of Thursday, but ever since, it's been drizzle, drizzle, downpour and drizzle, and tomorrow it will be more downpour than drizzle. Even for drought, paybacks are a bitch.
Despite my early enthusiasm, I am about ready to give up on Ally McBeal, and there seem to be plenty of reasons why. The characters are still quirky, but it's less of an endearing quirky and more of an annoying quirky. John Cage's warped sense of self, Richard Fish's inept grasp of sexual dynamics, Ally's own vacillation between breeziness and brooding all these things make for television that is becoming increasingly difficult to watch.
"There he goes again," observes the doctor. "Still watching that Projection TV, I suppose."
Cripes, but I hate style sheets.
Dead heat, indeed. Think back to 1960. The difference in the popular vote between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was only about 120,000 out of over 68 million! yet JFK won 303 electoral votes to Nixon's 219, nowhere nearly as close. Such is the power (and to some, the threat) of the Electoral College. Expect numbers like that tomorrow night when the baying of the wolves has died down.
Speaking of dead heat, how come it was 60 degrees when I got up this morning and there was a wind chill in the high teens when I got home? I mean, I can't just blame Canada.
Matt Stone, creator (with Trey Parker) of South Park (can I blame Canada yet?), describing Al Gore's appearance: "He looks like a guy in drag who just got out of drag."
That should take care of the rest of you pesky undecided voters.
At 7:08 am, when I left the polls, there were over 80 people in line; this would be considered a Good Sign, but then the snow started.
And I noticed with some bemusement that in the three biggest races on the ballot, I managed to select candidates in three different parties while the polling-place staff was fielding endless variations on "How do you vote straight-party on this thing?" I bet they don't have this kind of problem in Dixville Notch.
So it's white wine with crow, then?
As the Electoral College remains stalled at 260-246, it might be worth remembering that if Al Gore had managed to carry his home state, which is entitled to eleven (!) votes, we wouldn't be sitting here worrying about weird Florida ballot designs and other effluvia.
In the meantime, I take comfort in the notion that any claim by the eventual winner that "the people have spoken" will be greeted with loud, derisive hoots, and not just by me.
Oklahoma Statutes, Chapter 41, Section 118, effective 1 October 1978:
"A. A landlord shall at all times during the tenancy:
5. Except in the case of a single-family residence or where the service is supplied by direct and independently metered utility connections to the dwelling unit, supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times and reasonable heat."
Does this strike you as being particularly goddamn difficult? It's certainly beyond the capacity of the current owners of Courtyard Village.
He's on the tall side for his age, and nothing seems to fascinate him quite so much as stairs. Getting down them is the easy (if sometimes painful) part; getting back up is still beyond him, but you know it won't be for long. He alternates between perky and petulant, between gracious and grubby. It's all part of the package, and he seems happy with what he is, though it's impossible to know for sure.
She's rather tall herself, and many things fascinate her: the sweep of history, the resonance of great literature, individual acts of courage. Sometimes she's happy, and you wish she could be more so; sometimes she's discouraged, and you wish there were something you could do about it. It's all part of the package, and to be honest, I don't know for sure what she thinks of it.
What do these two have in common? Only this: that they were born on this date, he in 1999, she, um, somewhat earlier and that my life would be so very much poorer without them.
To both of you: the happiest of birthdays.
Well, we got a day and a half of sunshine to melt away the snow and ice, so naturally it's raining again. Nothing lasts forever, except maybe temporary taxes.
There's a deep trench a few feet to the east of my front door, where they put in a new water line to replace the new water line they put in a couple of months ago. I figure this one may hold out through the middle of January, but I'm not counting on it.
The electorate has risen with one voice, and with that one voice it has said:
"Are we there yet?"
The spinmeisters, of course, are doing their damnedest to put the best possible face on the situation while simultaneously intimidating the opposition, a situation which benefits no one and enrages the public, fifty percent at a time. Both W. and Al are coming off like me and Julio down by the schoolyard; the Texan seems to be one grade farther along, but I suspect it's simply a social promotion. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush could emerge as the true hero of this election simply by ordering all these interlopers from both camps to get their asses out of the Sunshine State until all the counts are completed.
My health is turning into a punch line. "Have you had this before? Well, you've got it again." The fever and chills finally subsided after about twelve hours.
Speaking of chills, the automated voice at the National Weather Service's VHF radio station (162.40 MHz in this neck of the woods) informed us yesterday that a high of 45 and a low in the lower twenties constituted "seasonably cool". The normal temperature range for mid-November is more like 60-40, so obviously Hal meant some season other than this one. If nothing else, this is an object lesson in "Garbage in, garbage out."
No doubt, Dubya and Al will continue to wake up every morning wondering "Am I President or not?" The rest of us are wondering if maybe we shouldn't have accused Dave Barry or Carl Hiaasen of telling tall tales about their home state.
Even paying this state's excise tax on an automobile and then having to high-tail it halfway across the county to a doctor's appointment (in twelve minutes, and through two school zones, yet) failed to cause my blood pressure to rise substantially, so maybe I've got a grip on this hypertension stuff at last.
Something is eating my mail, and then spitting it up into the wrong place. And it doesn't seem to matter where it's sent, either; my usual mailbox, my standard forwarding receptacle, and any number of alternate boxes are failing. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this is happening.
Anyway, if you wrote to me in the last ten days or so and got no response, it's most likely not because I'm ignoring you. And if you think that there's a reason I could be ignoring you, well, you may be right, but let's not get into that here.
If nothing else, we've learned that every vote does count provided the controlling legal authority can find it, can read it, and manages not to misplace it, and provided there are no court challenges involved. Or maybe it doesn't.
Oh, and Chad's just sick and tired of people asking him "How's it hangin'?"
To some of us, snow is a four-letter word, so the biggest thrill of the week was hearing that the weather guys had deleted the promised precipitation from this weekend's forecast. Of course, now that they have done so, we can probably expect a foot of the miserable stuff.
If Glenn Close balks at the inevitable 103 Dalmatians, perhaps Disney will consider Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris for the picture. Not that I expect her to be needing work anytime soon or anything, of course.
"It's a sunny day, why not drive out to the cemetery?"
Yeah, I suppose it sounds like a Wednesday Addams kind of remark, but I had my reasons.
Oh, and thank you, Katherine (no, not the one in Tallahassee).
There is no shortage of Web sites aimed at the potential homebuyer, which is a good thing, since I expect to be buying a house some time in the next twelve months. I don't expect the Net to do all my work for me, of course; for one thing, I doubt that it's possible to set up any of the online property searches for "nine-foot fence in the back yard so the neighbors aren't scandalized if I decide to catch some rays in my birthday suit".
Of course, this is the sort of idea that usually occurs to me in November, when actually doing such a thing is an invitation to frostbite, or worse.
Too little, too late: Someone has already snapped up the domain hangingchad.com. I can't imagine what the owner is going to do with it surely it doesn't lend itself to amusingly cheesy animations, but then this could just be my lack of imagination.
A lack of cash flow (not to mention a mountain of debt the size of a Sumatran rat) threatens to kill my nascent delusions of home ownership; in an effort to see just how bad off I was, I ran my statistics through one of those online loan-qualifiers, and it suggested I should forget States Avenue and St Charles Place and hope there's an opening on Baltic.
Down at the shop, a software misfeature, designed originally to simplify one routine and mostly boring task, turned around and bit us twice today: apparently so long as its digits pass the checksum validation, a numeric string in a particular field can start at any digit X, wrap around the edge, and end at digit X-1, and still not set off any alarms. It's not technically a fencepost error; if anything, it's like the old joke about spelling "banana" "I know how, I just don't know where to stop."
We're just waiting for the T-shirt to come out: "My Grandma Voted In Palm Beach And All I Got Was This Lousy President!"
Actually, I'm at the point where I don't care who wins, chad or no chad, Supreme Court or no Supreme Court; it's become quite apparent that either way, the country loses. I wonder if Harry Browne is selling any "Don't Blame Me" stickers....
Ralph Nader has come up with a solution to the Florida chaos: flip a coin. Since it's been Nader's contention all along that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between Gore and Bush, at least we'll be able to put that dime to good use. Besides, it's cheaper than legal fees.
And I do wish everyone would quit spazzing out over Dick Cheney's hospital stay. I had one of these fleeting abnormalities myself earlier this year, and I don't see how it's weakened me any way other than financially which is obviously not a problem for a major player in the GOP.
The weather deities seem to have designed this day for maximum bleakness, and I suppose they had their reasons. At the moment, I'm in no mood to argue the point with them.
Oh, well, pass the chadberry sauce.
The rain falls upon the grass, giving it a few extra days of greenness before the greys and browns of winter settle in. The rain falls upon the sidewalk, washing away the chalk drawings of children and the territorial markings (or worse) of peripatetic pets. And mostly, the rain falls upon the idiots at the mall who got out at six this morning in search of bargain prices on things they didn't need in the first place.
It's not often we get to brag in Oklahoma; our politicians are hacks, our media are crass, and our infrastructure is crumbling. On the other hand, despite the occasional foray into weirdness, we do know how to run elections around here, a lesson that could profitably be learned by some other states.
In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce defined November as "the eleventh twelfth of a weariness". He was definitely right about the weariness business.
Never underestimate the ingenuity of the taxman.
Last year, I groused about the auto-license system in this state, a system comparable to what you might get if you gave blotter acid to Florida election officials. This year, a referendum, which I distrusted on general principles, simplified (and, for most drivers, substantially reduced) the price of actual plates. What the state giveth with one hand, of course, the state taketh away with the other. The excise tax on new vehicles, nominally still 3.25 percent, payable up front before you're issued a new plate, now comes with fine print: the tax is assessed on the purchase price before trade-ins and rebates and such, provided it's within 20 percent of their mysterious "book value". If you struck a particularly good deal on a new car, substantially less than this "book value", the state will see to it that you don't get a corresponding reduction in your excise tax. Inexplicably, or maybe not so inexplicably, this thing passed by a four-to-one margin; next time, they might as well print the referenda on butterfly ballots and be done with it.
Katherine Harris, Florida's secretary of state, is by no means a fat lady, and anyway, as of this writing, she hasn't sung, so the brouhaha continues to brew. But enough is enough. To the best that anyone has been able to determine, the dullard frat boy and his band of thugs have beaten the insincere smartass and his band of thugs. Let it end here. There will be time enough to fix the system, to mend the fences, maybe even to correct wrongs real or imagined, between now and 2004.
So I was reading the December issue of InStyle (never you mind why I was reading the December issue of InStyle), and a two-page ad for a Tumi handbag jumped out at me with the following manifesto:
Is it beauty or intelligence that charms us?
A seduction that goes beyond aesthetics.
Design that lures the eye.
A caress that rewards the hand.
It is this union of order and style
that creates true desire.
Which, if true, explains much about my existence: when it comes to order and style, I'm batting 0 for 2.
And anyway, the person I know who best exemplifies these criteria prefers the bags made by Coach.
A number of people seem to be horribly upset that we closed the office for two days last week and therefore weren't available to answer the same damn questions they ask every week. How many of them had to work over the Thanksgiving holidays? "Well, that's different." Like hell it is. I swear, some of these people couldn't find a clue if you hosed it down with pheromones and tied a twenty-dollar bill to it.
"Prada bags," insists our least-unstylish staffer. "Forget Coach." Of course, most of us can forget anything not vended by Le Mart du Wal.
The imbroglio in Florida has turned into a deadly serious but nonetheless comic opera undoubtedly why it fit so well into Die Zauberflöte at the Met this week. I doubt either Al or Dubya (or their respective henchpersons) can pull off a comparable Singspiel, myself, but that's another matter.
After watching the videotape of the motorcade snaking its way to Tallahassee, I just have to ask: "Remember when this was referred to as a secret ballot?"
For the life of me, I can't understand why some people have such a tremendous emotional investment in this goofy little political exercise. Of course, most of the protestors that managed to get on camera seem to have been imported from irritablewhiteguys.com, making them the Republican counterpart to and inevitably the moral equivalent of whatever battalion of gypsy malingerers Jesse Jackson is hauling around at any given moment. I guess this is what makes America famous. God knows they don't carry on like this in Canada.
At times like this, I am grateful for my own tendency to sneer at both sides; Lord, I thank thee that thou hast blessed me with the gift of doubt.
Of course, there are some things about which I am fairly certain.
Just in case I forget, thank you, Siobhan. Peace be with you.
It's bad enough that radio stations of every conceivable format start inflicting Christmas music on us about every third song this time of year, but blasting the stuff 24/7? Surely this qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.
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Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill