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December 2000


Friday, 1 December 2000, 12:01 am

While undoubtedly much happened today, it will have to wait for tomorrow. Today is the Day Without Weblogs, an attempt by us little Independent Content Providers to support the annual Day Without Art, in memory of those taken from us by the scourge of AIDS. (Yes, there are plenty of other horrid diseases out there, but most of them don't have a large number of people trying to sweep them under the rug and passing it off as piety, either.)

See you Saturday.

Saturday, 2 December 2000, 10:00 am

Evidently there are too many leaves still on the trees around here, because the winds have picked up markedly, and when winds pick up in Oklahoma, they tend to pick up small objects. Sometimes even large ones.

And actually, not a whole lot happened yesterday, now that I think about it.

Sunday, 3 December 2000, 11:30 am

As someone who learned both idealism and cynicism in the Sixties, I can't really be surprised that the result of this education was cognitive dissonance up the wazoo, although I would argue that my lack of political consistency is due more to disdain for ideology (and, more precisely, for the insistently ideological) than to failure to reconcile warring viewpoints.

I mention all this because there's always going to be the question of motivation, or, as Larry Verne might have said, "What am I doin' here?" I set up this log about six months ago mostly because I was worried that the site, then well into its fifth year online, was becoming stale. I mean, I certainly didn't have any problem getting my views online. So the log isn't so much a way for me to be heard, as it is a way for me to work through whatever things happen to befall me on a day-to-day basis. It will certainly never win me any appreciable quantity of net.fame. Nor do I delude myself that somehow I am changing the world a statement on a Web site, however plangent, is still only words. Still, words are tools and playthings, and I try to get the maximum value out of both aspects for your dining and dancing pleasure. Well, mine, anyway.

Monday, 4 December 2000, 6:20 pm

Mazda's North American slogan, these days, is "Get in. Be moved." I have to admit, though, it looks awfully strange, or at least awfully imperative, when translated, or approximated, or whatever, for the benefit of French-speaking Canadians: "Coup de foudre! Coup de fougue!"

Oh, and tell you what, Mr Vice President, sir: I'll pay for the towel if you promise to throw it in. It's a better deal than you're likely to get from the Busheviks.

Tuesday, 5 December 2000, 5:10 pm

So far, no takers on yesterday's towel offer, despite yesterday's court rulings and the appearance of vultures circling over the Gore campaign. For a smart guy, or at least for a guy who might possibly be able to distinguish between Friedrich Hayek and Salma Hayek, the Veep seems awfully short of clues these days.

Then again, I have always maintained that the quantity of clues is fixed, and with the population increasing well, you do the math.

Tuesday, 5 December 2000, 9:35 pm

Typo of the Moment: MSN Carpoint's report on the 2000 Ford Crown Victoria sedan says that after the first visit, routine maintenance is required every 6 miles. "Fix Or Repair Daily", indeed.

Wednesday, 6 December 2000, 6:25 pm

Take today's dense blanket of clouds and sweeping north winds. Add entirely too much water vapor and subtract about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This is what I have to look forward to, most of next week. And people wonder why I'm glum. Okay, it's not quite as much a sign of the Apocalypse as, say, Britney Spears writing a book, but there's no way I can rouse any enthusiasm, especially with the spectre of annoying holidays rearing their ugly heads or perhaps heading their ugly rears in a matter of mere days.

Playboy has completed another year, which means it's time once again for me to fail to second-guess the selection of the Playmate of the Year. This will, of course, take some serious research over the next few days, and while I face west-by-southwest toward Holmby Hills, I'll probably remember once or twice that my heart lies somewhere in the opposite direction. Just my luck.

Thursday, 7 December 2000, 6:20 pm

Today, of course, is the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. I mention this in case George Bush père is looking in.

And I suppose I should be grateful that no one has asked whom I might know in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Friday, 8 December 2000, 6:55 pm

Dear V.: Of course, you were correct.

Somewhere among the heavenly host, the shades of Samuel J. Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes are looking up from their pinochle game and observing, "Geez, and we thought we had a barnburner going."

Saturday, 9 December 2000, 7:30 pm

So I'm driving west out Route 66, and it's raining hard enough to justify going a notch past the intermittent wipers to full-fledged On. Yet the sun's out and bouncing blinding rays off the front of the car, which I can see in between swipes of the blades. This happens far more often in Oklahoma than anyone is likely to believe. Of course, a lot of people don't believe there's any of Route 66 left; they're in for a surprise.

The famed Nova Hotsex, mentioned in these pages a few times before, has issued this year's edition of Fruitcake You Can Actually Eat, a premise startling enough in itself; what most people envision when they think "fruitcake" is a tin, reeking of subprime rum, containing a section of a wheel from Fred Flintstone's car. You wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy, so you mail it to a relative for Christmas. Fortunately, I remain in Nova's good graces, so I get an actual treat instead of an artifact from Pompeii.

Sunday, 10 December 2000, 11:45 am

The new arrivals were frightened, and they had every reason to be.

Suddenly, the huge metal doors opened, and a disembodied voice louder than they'd ever heard before announced: "Welcome to Hell. At each position is a box of Florida ballots. You will be counting these until the end of time. Are there any questions?"

One woman raised her hand.

"Well?" demanded the voice.

"Uh, is that all they do down here? Count ballots?"

"Of course not," said the voice, not quite so loudly. "The last group before you is doing tech support for America Online."

A few muffled giggles rose from the back of the hall. "And what is so, you should pardon the expression, damned funny?"

One man spoke up. "Well, a bunch of us were on Prodigy, and we always figured that you were taking support calls for them."

"We used to," admitted the voice, "but they ran into some financial difficulties and could no longer afford our services. I believe they moved their support facilities to Central America."

"Really? Mexicans?" asked one of the gigglers.

"Marmosets," said the voice.

Monday, 11 December 2000, 5:00 pm

One of my least-favorite Canadian imports arrived last night. Personally, I'm of the belief that if they like this kind of weather in the Northwest Territories, they should make some effort to keep it. Instead, they let the jet stream sag halfway to Guatemala, which has the effect of dumping all this cold air right on top of the Lone Prairie, where it chills the hardy residents to the bone (to say nothing of what it does to petulant wusses like me) and then moves on to torment the Ohio Valley. What did they or we do to deserve this?

At least the freezing fog (now there's a concept) dissipated after twelve or fourteen hours, and the sun came out just long enough to show us all the black ice patches on the road, useful information come tomorrow when it's pitch-black until 8 am and the temperature is hovering around 8 degrees. And this being Oklahoma, you can automatically deduct 35 for the wind chill.

Tuesday, 12 December 2000, 3:10 pm

Sex, says the shirt, is like snow; you can't tell how long it will last, or how many inches you'll get. I'm going out on a limb here and a cold limb it is, I might add and predicting that the snow that just started will persist for 24 hours and pile up to a depth of six inches. Any sexual predictions I might make, of course, can be dismissed as the ravings of a madman.

And another one bites the dust: General Motors, bowing to the inevitable, is finally putting Oldsmobile out of its misery. My first thought is "What took them so long?" Olds has had no image in the marketplace for a decade or more; they're even less visible than Mazda, which takes some serious managerial malfeasance to pull off. And it's not like this process is the most unheard-of thing they ever heard of, either; in the past five years, Chrysler has shed both Eagle and Plymouth, and Ford's plans for Mercury are murky at best. Cue up Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner, and say goodbye to the Rocket "88".

Tuesday, 12 December 2000, 9:45 pm

Remember Molly? The little green Mazda I drove for a little over two years has turned up on a dealer's Web site; at least she's clean, for once. (If you buy her, please let me know.)

So far, the snow has been minimal, but there has been an amazing amount of sleet. By no means can be this construed to be an improvement.

Wednesday, 13 December 2000, 4:50 pm

As Maxwell Smart might have said, "Missed by this much!" The celestial ice machine quit dripping on us a few minutes after noon, making it a 22-hour blast, and during that period we officially got about 3.5 inches of various forms of slick and hazardous stuff, mostly sleet. I can assure you that it's piled up a lot higher than three and a half inches in the parking lot, and it's not plow residue. Points to the north and east got it worse; the town of Miami (which, unlike its Florida and Ohio sisters, is pronounced "my-AM-uh") caught would you believe? 13 inches of snow.

Our congratulations to Al Gore, for (finally) grasping reality, and to George W. Bush, for (so far) not being a pain in the neck about it.

Thursday, 14 December 2000, 5:40 pm

This morning about a quarter to seven, I stood outside and tried to pay attention.

It was 45 minutes before dawn. Traffic was conspicuous by its absence schools were closed for a second day and a blanket of white covered everything in sight. It was eerily quiet; even the ubiquitous Oklahoma wind was taking it easy for once. Shapes too familiar to notice at other times had acquired seemingly-random new contours.

And I thought about a similar time, almost a quarter-century ago, a time when the snow was piled up past my heart, and I didn't care because I'd just given it away for what I had thought would be eternity.

And I thought about how hope dissolves into failure, how the pure white of snow disappears under the dirty grey of our tires and our shoes and our disappointment.

And then, of course, I went inside and complained about this damn winter.

Friday, 15 December 2000, 4:45 pm

A spoonful of sugar, they say, makes the medicine go down. The weather guys told us that we were in for a batch of freezing rain or drizzle, but it would pass quickly, and the sun would come out around mid-morning and dry up the miles and miles of slush that pass for roadways these days.

Well, we got the drizzle. And got the drizzle. And we're still getting the drizzle. It's no longer freezing barely but it means another three or four days of living on top of a Slurpee. Fortunately, visibility has dropped to about a yard or two, which means that it's quite impossible to see how dark, dank and miserable it is out there.

Friday, 15 December 2000, 8:00 pm

Radio station KRXO has been playing, they say, their entire music library, "from A to Z." It might even be true, though I wonder whose idea it was to put all the songs starting with "The" into the T section (or was it just brain-dead computer sorting?), and I doubt the classic-rock format is elastic enough to allow for, say, Blondie's "X Offender".

Saturday, 16 December 2000, 4:50 pm

Good news: The infernal fog is gone.

Bad news: It took 45-mph winds, blowing straight out of the Yukon Territory, to get rid of it.

And I wonder: How many people voted for George W. Bush solely because they thought he'd ask General Colin Powell to be his Secretary of State? (And, come to think of it, who, pray tell, would have been on Al Gore's shortlist had things gone the other way?)

Sunday, 17 December 2000, 4:00 pm

It has now been seven days since we last saw a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit; in fact, of those 168 hours, about 130 of them were spent below the freezing point. The forecasters say it will likely be another week before we get even the most perfunctory warmup. Of course, they've mostly been wrong before, but there are many shades of wrong, and I fear that we'll be seeing the one least conducive to mental health especially since there's a water main just east of Carl's Jr. spewing semi-skyward.

This week's Vent refuses to take the stock Democratic view that Curious George and henchpersons to be determined will somehow turn the Republic into Afghanistan West. Don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen unless, of course, you are a Taliban wannabe yourself, in which case cessation of breathing is very much encouraged.

Monday, 18 December 2000, 5:40 pm

Well, we got 40. In fact, we may have gotten 42; the National Weather Service's local facility went into temporary snafu mode. As a side effect and to demonstrate how jaded we've become here this month, weatherwise the substitute news person on the radio read off the forecast from one week ago, and nobody batted an eye.

And enough about how "undemocratic" the Electoral College is. If we went to straight popular voting, the candidates would completely ignore about two-thirds of the states and spend their time and money in places like California and New York and Texas and (gag) Florida. While it does definitely favor the preservation of a two-party system, nothing about those parties is graven in stone; the GOP was a third party originally. (Seen any Whigs lately?) Like many provisions of the Constitution, the existence of the Electoral College is intended to protect the rights of minorities specifically, residents of states with small populations. You'd think the Democrats, assuming they take their platform seriously, would be quick to embrace the idea.

Tuesday, 19 December 2000, 6:20 pm

"From an uptown apartment to a knife on the A train, it's not that far...."

That's from "Walking Down Madison", from the 1991 album Electric Landlady by singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl, who died yesterday in a boating accident off Cozumel, Mexico. Early reports say a speedboat came ripping through an area reserved for swimmers. Kirsty's two children were uninjured. She had a long and successful musical career; she's probably best remembered in the US for having written Tracey Ullman's 1983 hit "They Don't Know" and the title song of Tracey's debut LP, You Broke My Heart in 17 Places. She will be missed.

Wednesday, 20 December 2000, 5:20 pm

This is turning into a bad week for music. Now we've lost Roebuck "Pops" Staples, patriarch of the gospel/pop Staple Singers, and legendary jazz bassist Milt Hinton. We mourn this loss; and we give thanks for their recorded legacy, which will outlive all of us.

And I give thanks for the sunshine today, which got the temperature up to within two or three degrees of the ostensible "normal" high for this date, something I haven't seen in more than a week. It wasn't enough to dispose of the last of the frozen stuff, though, and of course once the Weather Gods noticed, they turned the winds back around to the north so we could freeze some more. Have I mentioned that I hate winter? And it hasn't even officially started yet. To paraphrase Pete Townshend, hope I die before I get cold.

Nova Hotsex, who appears regularly in this section, has reminded me that (1) she had a birthday and (2) I didn't mention it here. I responded with something to the effect that if she ever appeared to age, I would say so. (For the record, she is younger than I am slightly.) In the absence of information to the contrary, I will assume she was not impressed.

Thursday, 21 December 2000, 5:15 pm

At this stage, the one thing you can tell about George W. Bush's proposed Cabinet is that he really seems to be serious about this diversity business: his picks are all over the political (and, let's face it, ethnic) map. The only real grumbles, it appears, are coming from the GOP's ideological purists, who want to know why so few of these folks hew to their particular line, but this, of course, is to be expected after all, this is what purists do. Imagine the screeching from the left wing of the Democratic party if Al Gore had won the Presidency and had proposed a bunch of moderates for the Cabinet.

Let us not, however, make out Mr Bush to be some sort of idealist. He's doing what he thinks, based on past experience, will be most beneficial to his particular agenda. While admittedly Democrats in Texas are at least as conservative as, say, Connecticut Republicans, a factoid brought up occasionally to belittle Mr Bush's claims of Texas bipartisanship, it is no less true that even the most conservative Democrats are still Democrats, still rivals, and the occasional crossing of party lines hasn't resulted in wholesale changes of registration. Is Congress more fractious than the Texas Legislature? Molly Ivins, for one, would laugh at the very idea. Mr Bush may come across to some as a lightweight, but as any boxing fan will tell you, the lightweights still pack a punch.

Friday, 22 December 2000, 5:20 pm

It's been over a week and a half since the Ice Storm of 2000, and roughly ninety percent of its unpleasant residue has finally gone the way of all vapor; the most persistent mass, of course, remains right where I park my car. Naturally, it's time for Ice Storm II, due in here Christmas eve as though this particular time of the season weren't annoying enough and expected to continue through the rest of the week. Forget Dante, forget Sartre, forget everything you ever read about Gehenna; hell is an endless journey on treacherous roads in subfreezing cold to a workplace way out in the Styx.

And not only did we fail to get rid of Frank Keating, we're apparently going to have an Attorney General who's so far off the scale a dead man would be preferable. Oh, well, nobody bats a thousand, not even Dubya.

Saturday, 23 December 2000, 3:15 pm

Weather Control has apparently decided to give us one nice day before the deluge. Most people took advantage of the situation to empty out all the supermarkets and perhaps the malls, though I didn't dare get within half a mile of one. Of course, 48 degrees is supposed to be the normal high temperature for this date, and apparently normalcy comes only sporadically this winter.

Speaking of supermarkets, out in Albertson's parking lot this morning, I had a nice little talk with your basic cute redhead (if one's definition of "cute redhead" is sufficiently extensible to include a birthdate before the World War, and I mean the first one) in a humongous early-80s Buick. Very spunky, for all you Lou Grant fans, and to belie the stereotype of older drivers in ancient American iron, she had demonstrably better visual acuity than I. I doubt I'll live that long, but if it should be so decreed by the powers that be, I hope I have as much energy as she does. (Cripes, I wish I had that much now.)

Sunday, 24 December 2000, 10:30 am

Finally, to finish off a Bad Week for Music, we've lost Victor Borge, the Great Dane himself, the inventor of both Phonetic Punctuation (swip!) and Inflationary Language, both of which inspired gr9 mirth and 5 which he will be remembered 5ever. (Of course, Inflationary Language is one of the cla7, but overusing it is truly asi10 and will compel some people 3 regurgit9.)

And if Santa (or one of the subordinate Clauses) misses your house tonight, it may not be because you were on the Naughty List at all; apparently he's been having problems raising capital.

Sunday, 24 December 2000, 11:10 pm

"We were, um, testing. Yeah. Testing. That's the ticket."

I offer this line to an anonymous user of CleanInter.Net, one of those "filtered" ISPs which promise an inoffensive Net experience, who wandered into my Playmates of the Year page this week.

Monday, 25 December 2000, 10:00 am

This is a totally worthless day.

Ice Storm II is here, and while it's supposed to change over to snow some time in the next 24 hours, getting anywhere is going to be an act of sheerest folly at best for the rest of the week. Unfortunately, business is business, so I still have to trudge off to 42nd and Treadmill a nine-minute trip that should take the better part of an hour and put in my forty hours, maybe fifty, in the four days remaining before Saturday. If our customers had the brains God gave a soapdish, we'd be closed for these two weeks, but evolution hasn't advanced quite so far just yet, and there's very little reason to think I'll live long enough to see it especially if I'm run over by some putz who thinks four-wheel drive gives him some kind of exemption from the laws of physics.

Monday, 25 December 2000, 6:35 pm

Well, forget the snow. It's freezing rain and sleet right up until the last possible minute, which looks like sometime Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Getting killed on the highway is starting to look like a desirable option.

Tuesday, 26 December 2000, 7:20 pm

Another totally worthless day. I made the trek through sleet and slush and all manner of horrendousness to get to work, and almost everything I did will have to be redone tomorrow because of somebody else's errors. It's enough to make you want to throw up, and I'd probably go out and do exactly that except for the fact that it would just freeze and there's no indication that it's ever going to thaw; I did the math, and at least as far as the weather station at Will Rogers World Airport is concerned (and whose idea was it to name an airport after someone who died in a plane crash, I'd like to know?), this is a cinch for the second-coldest December on record. Bring on the glaciers and be done with it, say I. If this is the best I can do stuck in a job for which "thankless" is a euphemism, stuck in a flimsy hovel because I can't afford to move, stuck in a weather pattern that brings out the absolute worst in me, and stuck in a nonrelationship with someone who very likely despises me freezing to death is a decided improvement.

Wednesday, 27 December 2000, 6:30 pm

I am not a fan of snow (see any number of previous log entries), but there's one thing it does well: it makes excellent (if ephemeral) sound insulation. Of course, you'll always hear the swip-swip-swip of a clapped-out '79 Caprice doing the odd Krispy Kreme in the parking lot, but the usual city background noise, the subsonic thrum that you never notice until it's gone, is, well, gone. I could live with this stuff for quite a while, were it not for the fact that I still have to work for (80 percent of) a living and have to test my mettle (and my car's sheet metal) against both unkind road conditions and unskilled road hogs. Sandy, bless her, hasn't missed a beat in either of these mini-blizzards, though she's got to be wondering when she's going to get some proper highway exercise in nine weeks, she's showing only 1145 miles, and the first couple of hundred weren't mine.

Thursday, 28 December 2000, 6:20 pm

There's a Dilbert strip from a few years ago, in which he's in his cubicle, pensive. "I ask for so little," he says. A panel intervenes, and then: "And boy, do I get it." Mr Jagger, of course, points out that you can't always get what you want. Can you get what you need? Well, not at Monkey Wards.

Some of us, of course, mostly get irritated.

Friday, 29 December 2000, 6:40 pm

Thanks for asking, but this week's ice storm was far worse a few dozen miles east and/or south of me. Most of our hideous frozen stuff was in the form of sleet, with an overlay of snow; the pellets of sleet don't have a tendency to stick to power lines the way freezing rain does. I suffered no power interruption at all. This is, I contend, truly remarkable, since we've been known to get brownouts for no discernible reason at random intervals.

The Bureau of the Census has made it official: yes, Oklahoma will lose one House seat. Frank Keating, perhaps still in a snit after being passed over by the Bushniks for a Cabinet spot, claims that it's due to the legislature's failure to pass any of his pet projects. Of course, the Census figures cover the changes over ten years, and Keating has been in office only six it only seems longer. What really needs to be addressed (and which is way beyond the governor's comprehension) is the brain drain: our best and brightest, observing what kind of people run this state, get the hell out the moment they graduate.

Saturday, 30 December 2000, 2:25 pm

I have been on edge all week, and sometimes over the edge, which has made life a touch more difficult for those around me, but it occurs to me (if not to them) that if they're not used to it by now, they never will be.

And just to top it all off, a song I remembered only sketchily was unearthed by the local oldies station, leaving me somewhere between wistful and weeping. "Wait For Me", a smallish (#37 in Billboard) hit for the Playmates in 1960 you may remember them for "Beep Beep", the tale of a Cadillac driver's scorn for a little Nash Rambler, a couple years earlier is basically the logical extension of the Poni-Tails' yearnfest "Born Too Late", this time told from the guy's point of view: he looks upon this young girl as mostly a pest, and by the time it dawns on him that maybe she was The One, she's already spoken for. The song (by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, whose biggest hit that year was Brian Hyland's straight-faced reading of "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini") isn't exactly on par with the saga of Abelard and Heloise, but it left me with a case of the shivers. Not that anything like this has ever happened to me, of course.

Sunday, 31 December 2000, 5:30 pm

There will be few years I will miss less than this one. Will things get better for 2001? I'm making no predictions.

It snowed for most of the day; about three inches of the white stuff has piled up. Of course, the stuff from two and a half weeks ago is still here.

And courtesy of Steven William Rimmer, this reminder: The 31st of December was Tax Freedom Day in the former Soviet Union.


 | Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill