Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Break Time

I'm gone for a week for the holidays. I'm hoping for relaxation, good times, new friends and a chance to contemplate a little about what I've been doing and what I want to do next.

My best wishes to you and yours. I hope you all have a chance to enjoy time with your friends and loved ones in the days ahead.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A day in the life

Today the street set above my office was dressed for the Christmas show shoot of some TV show. I'm not sure which one. Plastic wreaths, holiday signs, a toy store, colored lights. It was about 75 degrees, and sunny, the temperature up and down a few degrees depending on breeze and shade. And snow. They'd brought in the ice trucks, and one blew shaved ice into snow piles against the stoops and mailboxes. The extras, dressed in winter clothing, probably appreciated it. Grips wandered around in tank tops and shorts and leather tool belts. I stepped through rivulets of ice water from the melting snow and headed to the mall.

I usually take walks at lunch, but I wasn't feeling that great today. I pulled a muscle in my shoulder and it hurt a lot, plus I'd had a flu shot and a lot of Advil. What I really wanted to do was sleep. Hunger is a great motivater, though, and there's a Korean place in the food court that I like a lot.

At the foot of one of the escalators that goes up to the food court is a massage station (hey, this is LA!). I'd noticed the masseuses there and the row of massage chairs before. The masseuses are all Asian, and I thought they might be Chinese. I have yet to have gotten an explanation for this phenomena, but I keep seeing Chinese masseuses around Los Angeles - at the boardwalk in Venice, for example.

The masseuses were offering a "free minute" to entice people into getting massages. I was more than ready to accept - I was in a fair amount of pain and had already called the company massage therapist (hey, I repeat, this is LA!), but she hadn't called back.

The woman put her hands on my shoulders, did a few preliminary squeezes and said, "Oh, you are very tight." I didn't even take the rest of the free minute. I explained I'd hurt myself and that yes, I would have a ten minute massage.

The masseuse was, in fact, from China, and she seemed pretty excited to have a Euro-mutt customer like myself who could speak some Chinese. She said she was from Beijing and asked if I'd been there, asked me what famous scenic spots I'd seen, and so on. She was very sweet, and a good masseuse, and I felt much better when she was done.

Oh, and I got at least five free minutes. The Mandarin discount, I guess.

She told me that my back was very tired and that I should get more rest, and come back if I wasn't feeling better. I assured her I would.

From there I went up to the Food Court to the Korean place and got the grilled mackerel bowl to go, with broccoli and kimchee. I usually get the eel but was in the mood for something different. I always get the broccoli and kimchee, because, you know, broccoli is good for you, and Koreans swear that kimchee cures everything. The place is staffed by mostly immigrant Latinos, except for the owner, a Korean American guy about my age who loves baseball (we often talk baseball in season), and several older Korean ladies who do the cooking.

Back at the office, I had a meeting with a vendor and stayed late catching up on old newspapers. By the time I left, the Christmas set was struck, though a few stubborn piles of snow lingered against the hollow curbs and wooden flats.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"This Dog Is Your Friend"

Police in Beijing have begun a crackdown on unregistered and otherwise illegal dogs:

The conflict is over city regulations that limit households in eight designated districts to a single dog and also forbid people from owning large dogs like golden retrievers and huskies.

The regulations, considered misguided by many dog owners, were introduced in 2003 but have been only loosely enforced as the city's pet industry has boomed. Dogs in Beijing can now eat at a dog restaurant, be groomed at a dog boutique and swim in an outdoor dog lap pool.

Last Tuesday, though, Beijing newspapers carried a notice about the new campaign, under way since October, concerning "pet dog management work." It said households with too many dogs, or with big dogs, would have 10 days to relocate them. In essence, owners had 10 days to get rid of the dogs or the police would do it for them.

The note also promised to pay rewards to people who helped the police catch neighbors violating the dog rules.
Beijing dog owners are outraged, with some threatening "to defend their dogs at any cost."
"What kind of rules are these? I don't expect everybody to love animals. But I do want to have my rights to keep pets," said Clare Xiao, an account manager at an advertising company. She sent her larger Brittany to a kennel run by a friend and kept her Pekinese, a stray she found on the street.

"What the government is doing is just disappointing, cold and emotionless," said Xiao.
See, this is the thing about the middle class. Middle class people have certain expectations. They start talking about their "rights." Maybe you can restrict their right to participate in the political process. You can muzzle their right of free expression.

But don't mess with their dogs.

Note the sign held up by the protestor in the photo above. It reads: "This dog is your friend. He fights for freedom."

My cat Murphy would like to express her revolutionary solidarity with Chinese canine freedom fighters everywhere. Power to the pets!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

More soon...

I'm a little sick with a cold and had a distracting weekend featuring a police pursuit that ended in front of my house with a minor collision involving my car (I wasn't in it). Helicopters and police dogs followed.

Anyway, I'm turning in early tonight to prepare for a fun morning dealing with body shops and rental cars and probably Kleenex.

But I'm still dazzled by the midterm fireworks. More on that soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Does this mean Sean Hannity will kill himself now?

Monday, November 06, 2006


For those of you in California, Digby has a great round-up of links for recommendations.

Please vote. Unless you are planning to vote Republican.* In which case, remain in your secure, undisclosed location until after 8 PM tomorrow. You'll be safe from the Islamo-Nazis that way.

*I'll even give you a pass if you're planning on voting for Ah-nuld. I'm not, but I can sort of understand the impulse. Just vote Democratic down-ticket, especially Garamendi, Bowen and Brown. And please vote NO on Prop. 90! It's a stealth initiative - it protects your "eminent domain" the way the "Clear Skies Initiative" kept our air clean. There are a lot of really important initiatives other than that one - the recommends Digby provides are a good guide. Follow the links to leftcoaster for Howie Klein's list of judicial recommends.

UPDATE Here is a great compendium of ballot recommendations from a variety of progressive/labor/environmental/good government/newspaper sources.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

I really needed this special comment from Keith Olbermann. I've been so furious and disgusted by the feeding frenzy over John Kerry's "gaffe" that I just want to puke. I'm assuming that anyone reading these pages has heard about his supposed insult of the troops, so I won't recapitulate it here. I will say that I watched the clip, and it was clear that Kerry's insult was aimed directly at George Bush, not the troops serving in Iraq. Punish the guy for being a lousy comedian - though his audience seemed to get the joke - but don't put intentions in his head that clearly weren't there.

But what else does the Republican Party have at this point? Fear and smear. That's it. Lies piled on top of lies in a desperate attempt to hide the bodies of those who have died in the service of their incompetence, greed and extremism. Right, George. Sure, Tony. Lie about what John Kerry said because you care so much about those troops that you've sent them off to be killed and maimed in the tens of thousands in a war of choice that didn't need to be fought.

Nobody pisses me off more than the Republicans, but I have to say that if there's a Democrat on my shit list right now, it's not John Kerry, it's Hillary Clinton for her backstabbing of Kerry in the service of her presidential ambitions. Hillary, if you missed it, decided to pile on with the Republicans and demand an apology from Kerry for "insulting the troops," even though he didn't - her very own Sister Souljah moment.

I know that Kerry has - or maybe had, after this - his own ambitions for 2008. I don't support him. Though I do think he's learned something from his mistakes in '04, he just doesn't have the political chops and ability to communicate that would make him an effective candidate (Al Gore, on the other hand, kicks ass. But that's another post).

However, I think Kerry is a decent man who certainly doesn't deserve to be scapegoated by members of his own party for this. He has nothing to apologize for in this instance, and of course, the apology he did offer is being mischaracterized by our so-called liberal media.

That said, petty betrayals in the name of political expediency and laziness by the Mighty Wurlitzer that is our corporate media still don't come anywhere close to the fundamental betrayals of this country's citizens, this country's best qualities, the "better angels" of our nature, committed by the Bush Administration and the modern Republican party.

Go watch Keith Olbermann. He says it much better than I ever could. He calls those responsible by name, and he shows them no mercy, because they deserve none, and they've shown none to us.