Tuesday, November 30, 2004

New Iowa blogger

I have added a new Iowa Blogger who goes by "Dweeze". He's also a member of the Iowa City theater scene and a smart guy. Check him out.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Quiz it

I took Sara's quiz at Midwestern Position, failed miserably, and decided to make my own. Take my Quiz... and then check out the Scoreboard! Good luck. It's really not that easy, I don't think.
Now everyone make a quiz so I can see if I know all of you as well as I think I do.

EDITED to add comments about the results. Highlight the next section to read it, but only if you've already taken the test!

So apparently my love of Curious George is unknown among my friends. Only Sharon and Jessica got that question right. Yes, I was a big Curious George fan when I was kid. I took him with me to California when I had my ear surgery. Most people thought it was a stuffed lion, which was a great choice as lions are one of my favorite animals. However, I didn't have a stuffed lion as a kid.

Bad movie, good TV, old theater...

I started watching The Passion of the Christ the other night. I turned it off. And before the really violent stuff, too. I guess my problem with the movie is that it disregards the central tenet of good storytelling - create empathy for your characters. The movie relies on our previous knowledge of Jesus Christ and our inherent sympathy for him. That's cheating. If you don't know the story of Jesus Christ or if the story does not resonate with you, this movie won't reach you. Mind you, I do know the story and it does resonate with me, but this movie did not. Of course, I didn't watch the whole thing, so take that into account as well.

Survivor got interesting last week when a new alliance formed and kicked one of the two leaders to the jury. I think Ami is probably next unless she wins immunity. However, it'll probably be one of those immunities where everyone can gang up on one person and prevent that person from winning. So yeah, Ami is the next to go, in my opinion.

I've started working on my lines for Someone Who'll Watch Over Me. I had forgotten how much my character talks! I also downloaded a couple of versions of the song I have to sing - The Water is Wide. Yes, I have to sing. Fortunately, in the context of the play, I don't have to necessarily sing well. One of the other actors is an excellent singer and he gets the important musical moment of the show.

Last night, I watched old VCR tapes of shows I did with West Side Players, a college theater group. Some of them were really bad. Some of them were okay. I have definitely learned a lot since then. I did rewatch one of my favorite moments on stage. I played Lombard in Ten Little Indians. At the end of the play, Vera (played by Rachel Proffitt) shoots me as I charge toward her. Getting shot and flying backward.... great death scene. It's always fun to get shot onstage. It reminds me of being a kid and playing cops and robbers. I also watched parts of two different versions of Intellectual Orgasms, a play I wrote. I directed the show with West Side Players and then a few years later, I acted in it with Dreamwell. Ironically enough, I liked much of the first actor's work more than my own. I was too screechy. One of the fun parts of watching the first IO tape was seeing the after show stuff. I left the tape running after curtain call so last night I watched various people I haven't seen in years walk by the camera. Whatever happened to Nigel and Brandon Ray anyway?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Giving Thanks

This is the first year we will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with either my extended family or Sharon's. Every year we do Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with Sharon's or vice versa. This year, it's supposed to be Thanksgiving with her family and Christmas with mine. However, things didn't work out on the Thanksgiving front, so while Sharon will be spending Friday with her sister and mom, the four of us were planning on heading to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. I was looking forward to it for the sheer novelty of the experience. However, this morning we received a better offer. Rachel has this friend Kate, who I talked about here. This morning, Kate's mom called and invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. Isn't that the nicest thing? So we'll be heading to their house for Thanksgiving. We'll get to experience their traditions. Rachel will have a friend to play with.

This year, I am giving thanks for very good friends.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Only parents...

So my parents are visiting. We were talking about my blog. Dad asked me if I chose that picture you see to the right. I told him, yes, of course. He asked why I chose a picture that makes me look like a Nazi. Apparently the buff on my head conjures up images of the SS for dear old dad. My mother innocently chimes in from the couch, "Did you want a really ugly picture?"

So apparently, in that picture, I look like an ugly Nazi.

I know it's an unconventional picture of me but that's why I chose it. I could have used my headshot:

But that's boring. The picture I used is from one of my Appalachian Trail hikes. I was exhausted physically but my spirit was rockin'. So anyway, I am keeping it. I may change it eventually, but for now I like it.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Saturday was live music night. First, while eating dinner at the Village Inn, I ran into Joe Scarpellino. Joe was in the Hobbit, which I talked about here. That was over four years ago and now he's on the verge of graduating high school early and he's a member of a band called Burnt Beyond Recognition. Check out their website if you're so inclined. Doesn't look like my kind of music, but I hope things go well for them. Joe's a good kid.

Book of Liz went really well. We sold out Friday and had a huge crowd on Saturday. It's a great way to end the season. Looking forward to riding the momentum into 2005.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Pick a number

You Are the Individualist


You are sensitive and intuitive, with others and yourself.

You are creative and dreamy... plus dramatic and unpredictable.

You're emotionally honest, real, and easily hurt.

Totally expressive, others always know exactly how you feel.

Thanks, Kris.

Animal terrorists

Seashore Hall was vandalized last weekend. Animals were released, computers destroyed, much research was lost. Apparently, animal terrorists are to blame.

I had never heard of the Animal Liberation Front. Here's a site that explains their purpose.

They stress that are not supposed to harm anyone. They also think it's perfectly okay to destroy property. In general, I agree that you don't want to hurt animals. However, in the case of scientific experiments that could lead to curing diseases, for instance, I can accept that some animals will be harmed or killed. I'll tell you what I cannot accept - terrorism in any form. And that's what this is. Sure, ALF isn't killing people, but they are destroying people's work. I am involved in an experiment that has nothing to do with animals. I was supposed to go to Seashore to participate, but then the vandals struck and I was rescheduled. The people working this experiment lost time, work, and facilities because of these stupid vandals. That's one of the problems with working outside the law - the innocent often suffer too. You want to change things, work within the law. Fight for animal rights, if you are passionate about it. But don't degrade your cause by becoming a criminal.

Looking good...

Reservations are pouring in for The Book of Liz. If you want to see it, reserve and come early to get a good seat.

And I highly recommend you check it out. Hilarious show.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I actually own a green one...

I am in the mood for silly quizzes.

You were destined to have a Red Lightsaber.

Red is the color of fire and blood, so it is
associated with energy, war, danger, strength,
power, and determination as well as passion and
desire. You have seen the Strength and Power of
the Dark Side of the Force and have you thirst
for more of it.

What Colored Lightsaber Would You Have?
brought to you by Quizilla


I have never been the kind of guy who fixed, well, anything. Working with my hands was not my forte. I didn't built cool stuff in shop class. Sure, I know how a hammer works, but I don't have any aptitude with it. So when our bathroom faucet started leaking, I called a plumber.

The guy came out, took a quick look at it and quoted me two prices - $250 to repair it and $460 to replace it.

Four hundred and sixty dollars to put a new faucet on my sink? He had to be kidding. I never realized plumbers were rich. They must be if they can get away with charging those ridiculous prices. I sent the plumber on his way and decided I'd read my book on home improvement and replace the damn thing myself. Shockingly enough, Sharon didn't object. Perhaps my successful foray into lighting fixtures a few months ago had given confidence in my abilities. Or maybe she had the plumber on speed dial and was waiting for the flood to hit.

Now I had never even looked at the pipes that connect a sink to a faucet to the water supply. Turns out mine had turned a greenish color. I didn't think that was necessarily a good thing, but oh well. I wasn't there to replace pipes, just a faucet. So I read the book. I got the necessary supplies. I turned off the water. (See, I do know what I'm doing!) And then I started untightening the bolts or nuts or whatever you call 'em. That was difficult, but WD40 is a wonderful tool. I had everything unattached when I realized I didn't have the right kind of faucet. Back to Lowe's. Try again. Still need something else. Back to Lowe's. The third time I returned to Lowe's, I kept my head down and tried to avoid the people who'd seen me on the previous visits. It didn't work. I received a cheery "Hi! Back again?" I mumbled and moved on. I returned home only to discover that there was still one more thing I needed. Lowe's was closed. I called Walmart. They had it! When I returned home, it was 10 pm, we had no water flowing in our house because there were open pipes in the bathroom, and the whole family was getting tired and cranky.

I got to work. Once I had everything I needed, it didn't take that long. I was almost finished when Sharon asked, "You sure the leak was because of the faucet?" I glared at her. She laughed. I slid out from under the vanity. It was time to turn the water back on and see what happened. Sharon was in the bathroom, ready with a towel. Rachel, who was supposed to be in bed but didn't want to miss all the fun faucet action, was at the top of the stairs ready to yell down to me if the bathroom flooded. I turned on the water and raced to the stairs.

It worked!

Amazing. I was sure there'd be leaks. A pipe would burst. Something. But nope. I successfully replaced the faucet in my bathroom. I am still giddy about it.

Home improvement can be fun! Well, okay it wasn't fun exactly, but I felt good when it was over. Sort of like exercise, I think.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

4 Years

Rachel turns four years old tomorrow. I can't believe how fast the last four years have gone. She's so big - not a baby, nor a toddler, but a regular little girl. She's smart, stubborn, funny, cute, and loves Hungry, Hungry Hippos. And her hair is short! I convinced Sharon that a bob was the way to go. Rachel looks very cute and a little older, I think.

We're going to Build-a-Bear for her birthday and then it's off to Tjark's Jungle with her best friend, Kate. She wants to eat at Arbys for dinner. It's her favorite restaurant. Seriously. I don't know where she gets that from...

Should be a fun day tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Amazing Race!

The Amazing Race premieres tonight.

My prediction for how things will turn out - shorthand:

11. Kris/Jon
10. Don/Mary Jean
09. Adam/Rebecca
08. Freddy/Kendra
07. Meredith/Maria
06. Lori/Bolo
05. Lena/Kristy
04. Avi/Joe
03. Jonathan/Victoria
02. Hayden/Aaron
01. Gus/Hera

In depth thoughts

Lori and Bolo. These two are married professional wrestlers. They've gotten a lot of play in the previews. They are the stars of the first half of the season.

Adam and Rebecca. These two are dating. Apparently, when they first met, she thought he was gay, but "he proved otherwise". Ewwww. And what is with that hair?

Here's a quote from Adam:

I am not the bravest person on the planet. I do not like heights, bugs, weird food, heat, extreme cold or anything else outside my routine.

Um, dude. It's not the Boring Race. I am going to despise these two, I can tell.

Gus and Hera. I am rooting for these two. Father and daughter, you know. She sounds very intelligent and It sounds like he's in good shape and has lots of travel experience.

Avi and Joe. The comic relief buddies. Same sex friends tend to go far in the race. I think Avi and Joe have a good chance.

Kris and Jon - my pick for the first eliminated. It's their biggest fear, according to their bio. They are in a LDR and that's not a good basis for a racing team. Plus, something about them screams loser to me. I know, really scientific.

In any case... I can't wait to see the first episode! Check it out tonight!


I want to be happy that Condoleezza Rice is going to be the first female African American Secretary State. But I've lost such respect for her during the last four years. Just like Colin Powell. At least, he is escaping the insanity that is Bush Kingdom.

Here's a link to an article that explains why I've lost faith in Dr. Rice. She lies just like so many others in Bush Kingdom.

EDITED: I added the missing word. Thanks, Sharon.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Dish Network now offers local channels in my neck of the woods. This means we could switch to Dish from Mediacom's cable option and save almost $20/month. We lose only one channel I care about - Bravo. We're not the kind of TV people who need a million channels. We don't have HBO or Showtime and don't miss them. It'd be nice to save the 20 bucks a month. Anyone have any experience with Dish? Customer service good? Outages?

What is art anyway?

Last night a person whose opinion I respect quite a bit made it clear he does not believe the Herky statues qualify as art. Here are two of my favorites:

Reflections of U

Reflection of What Matters Herky

I disagree with my friend. I get that these statues are not the equivalent of Michelangelo's David. I can understand not liking the Herky statues. That does not mean they are not art. What determines what is art?

First of all, there must be intent. There has to be an artist attempting to create art. Otherwise, it's hollow.

Second, it must invoke an emotional reaction in a viewer. It does not matter what the emotion is - sorrow, joy, love, fear - it's all good. And even more importantly, it does not matter who that viewer is. That is something that is often lost when we start saying this is art and this is not art. If we dismiss the opinions of each other in the search for art, we dismiss each other's humanity.

So getting back to the Herky statues. Clearly, there was intent to create art. As for emotional reaction...my almost four year old daughter loved the Herkys. She loved the differences of each one. She laughed and smiled and wouldn't stop talking about them. Clearly, they evoked the emotion of joy within her. They may end up being some of her earliest memories of art. And that's just fine with me.

That's a comeback!

So remember when I was talking about Marc Colombo a couple of days ago? They guy who suited up for the Bears for the first time in 2 years after extensive physical therapy? He saved the day for his team yesterday by blocking what would have been the game winning field goal for the other team.

I love happy endings.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sell out!

The Book of Liz sold out Friday night. We had to squeeze to get the 61 people into the space. Fifty is probably capacity. I saw the show on Saturday night along with 33 other fine folks. It was fantastic. Seriously, check it out next weekend if you can. Chris Hunt, who plays Liz, was great but I have to send special kudos to Madonna Smith, Josh Sazon, and Kevin Burford. Each of them had multiple roles to play and each one was more hilarious than the next.

So really, check it out. The mind of a Sedaris is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, November 12, 2004

More Pork Forest

First of all, kudos to both Kris and State 29 for covering the Iowa Pork Forest insanity. Kris, in particular, has a great piece on it. My favorite part of her post, I am c&ping here for all to see. But you have to check out the whole thing over there.

Anyway, Kris lists the following people as members of the advisory committee for the project:

• Sheila Boyd, General Growth.
• Randy Rayner, Laborers Local No. 1238.
• Scott Carpenter, University of Iowa Department of Geoscience.
• Dick (Richard L.) Rex, former mayor of West Branch.

• Lois Crowley, Iowa City Community School District.
• Chris Rohret, Iowa City Community School District.
• Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville.
• Sheila Samuelson, 2004 University of Iowa biology graduate.
• Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett.
• Chris Scarpellino, Loparex Inc.
• Rick Hanna, Carpenters Local Union 1260.
• Josh Schamberger, Iowa City/ Coralville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
• Coralville City Administrator Kelly Hayworth.
• Dr. Jill Scholz, Family Foot Care.
• John Hudson, Iowa Arts Council.
• Linda Schreiber, Iowa City Area Development.
• Sandra Hudson, Iowa Incubator.
• Sharon Thomas, Iowa City Community School District.
• Beth Jorgensen, Iowa City Community School District.
• Neil Trott, Canterbury Inn.
• Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil.
• Deanna Trumbell, Trumbell Consulting.
• Mark Phillips, RSM McGladrey.
• Ed Williams, Biowa.
• Wayne Peterson, United States Department of Agriculture.
• Joe Raso, Iowa City Area Development.

The ones in bold have been writing letters and editorials in support of the project. My question is this. Do these individuals note in their letters or their bios that they are on this board? Did the PC check into that? I checked the most recent one that Kris linked to from her blog and the online bio does not indicate Beth Jorgensen is on the advisory board.That's like me writing a guest opinion about how great Dreamwell is without ever mentioning the fact that I am on the Board of Directors. Full disclosure, people.

Weekend plans...

Tonight I have to deliver the chairs to the theatre so the packed crowd that will see the opening of Book of Liz will have some place to sit.

Tomorrow Sharon and I may go to this kid expo thing in CR. I have no idea what it is. Neither does Sharon. I am hoping we get more information before the event. No matter what, tomorrow afternoon will be fun family time. Tomorrow night, I get to see Book of Liz. Really looking forward to it. All of the actors are very talented as is the director, so I am sure it's going to be a good show.

Sunday the Bears play the Titans, so I'll catch that game while playing with the kids. Sunday night is poker! I hope. We need a place to play. Might end up having to go to the Mill if no one's home will work. Mine won't since we have the kid who never wants to go sleep especially if there is someone visiting.

A little bit more about the Bears, or one Bear in particular - Marc Colombo. This guy went down two years ago during his rookie season and has worked his butt off to get back into the lineup. A times, it was expected he would have to retire. Grueling hours of rehabilitation therapy without any certainty of success. This Sunday, he's back. Just on special teams at first, but I sincerely hope he works his way back to the starting lineup. What a success story. Go Marc!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Stupid Rain Forest

The project that continues to make Coralville, Iowa the laughingstock of the nation is finally getting criticism from someone that might have an effect. One of the Coralville City Council members, Tom Gill, has said if the project doesn't announce private investors in 60 days, the council should look at other ways to use the land slated for the Iowa Environmental Project. Go Tom Gill! Unfortunately, the other council members (Henry Herwig, John Lundell, Jean Schnake and John Weihe) don't agree with Gill. What's worse is the way the project people are trying to make it sound like Gill doesn't know what he's talking about.

The fact is this project is a waste of taxpayer money. And the worst thing is they're still 90 million short. They've had years to get investors on board and it hasn't happened. The reason is pretty simple - the project is flawed. They need 1.3 million people to visit the rain forest annually just to break even. 1.3 million people are going to come to Iowa every year to see a rain forest? That's about how many people go to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, which has a smaller rain forest, an IMAX theater, an aquarium and a "Desert Dome" in a traditional zoo setting, and is in a much larger metropolitan area. It's just not going to work.

Give 'em 60 days and then pull the plug on this waste of money.

The Englert

A number of years ago, I joined a group determined to save the last theater in downtown Iowa City - the Englert. It had been turned into a movie theater at some point in the 80s, I believe, but before that it was a live performance space. When word came that it might turn into yet another bar in a downtown littered with them, members of the business and arts community rose up and decided to fight for one of the last bastions of culture in Iowa City. Early on in that fight, the Iowa City Community Theatre donated $40,000 and gave the Englert the use of its non-profit status so it could accept tax deductible donations immediately. These two actions were important to get the ball rolling. The agreement, according to many ICCT members, myself included, was that in exchange we'd get to use theater for a small fee, that rent would be waived, and about $2 from each ticket sold would be donated to the Englert.

Fast forward a few years and we find out that this early agreement is not going to be honored. Here's an article from the Gazette that explains the situation.

As the article states, a number of ICCT members and patrons gave money to the Englert project with the expectation that ICCT would be allowed to use the space. I was one of those individuals. My wife and I also donated a lot of time early on in the project.

The early dream of the Englert was to make it a community performance space. There are so many talented artists in this community. Imagine how many of us felt when it was announced that the first production in the Englert would be a Nebraska community theatre production. Huh? Does the Englert really think they have to go to Nebraska to find quality productions? This is Iowa and we have arts and culture right here that we can proud of.

To put it simply, I feel betrayed by the Englert Civic Theatre. I hope they work out some sort of deal with ICCT and it appears they are trying to do so. Kudos to them for them not completely ignoring those concerns. But the fact is there may always be a bad taste in the mouths of many ICCT supporters because of what the Englert has done. That's a shame.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Star Wars and some thoughts about TV

I watched the trailer for episode three today. It looks good. Of course, the trailers always look good. The movies, on the other hand, always disappoint.

A few random thoughts...

Yellow eyes? Come on, Lucas, you can do better than that. Um. Wait. No, you probably can't.

Lava planet! Yay! I am glad lava plays a part in the movie. Hopefully, lava will tie into Anakin's transformation to Vader. Because it should. Everyone knows that.

I miss Alec Guiness.

Is Yoda's lightsaber as long as a regular lightsaber or shorter because he's short? Quit giggling.

Onto TV thoughts.

Hey, remember that show Survivor? Sarge is going home tomorrow. At least, that's my very uninformed guess. The women have the numbers, Chad is missing a leg, and Chris is more of a physical threat than Sarge. It's their own damn fault for trusting Julie and Twila. I mean, really. What were they thinking?

Still hooked on Lost. I do have one question, though. Why is it that every one of these people has some dramatic story in their past? Jack's father drank himself to death, Kate's on the run from the law, Sawyer's father killed his mother, Locke was a paraplegic, and on and on. Shouldn't at least one of them just be an accountant with a boring life?

Also still liking Jack and Bobby. The show is in danger of cancellation and was recently moved to Wednesdays to keep it away from the ratings winner Desperate Housewives. You should check it out. It's interesting to watch the development of a president from his youthful days and see how those moments played a part in the decisions he made as president. You watch this boy learning the lessons he will need to know in order to suceed as President. It's a very well put together series. The future interview segments are perfectly woven into the main story that's happening in the present.

And they mentioned Iowa City in tonight's episode! That's always nice.

Oh, and did you know the Amazing Race starts in less than a week?

Another Iowa blog

I thought I had already linked to this blog, but apparently I hadn't. Check out the Midwestern Position. It's a good read.

The Book of Liz

Dreamwell's final show of the 2004 season opens this Friday. The Book of Liz is wacky show from the minds of Amy and David Sedaris. The four actors in the show are some of the best Iowa City has to offer. Their performances, and the cheeseballs, are not to be missed. So go, go, go!

Look! A blindfold!

Monday, November 08, 2004

It's probably Meniere's

Looks like Meniere's, which destroyed my left ear over twenty-five years ago, is back and after my right ear. I am on medication, have a CAT scan scheduled, will move toward a low salt diet, and we're going from there. It would really suck to lose the rest of my hearing. Funny thing is, I always knew this day would come. I am prepared to fight it. What else can I do, right?

You have to read this

Go here. Read Brian's excellent explanation of why this country is in real danger, not from terrorists but from ourselves. This is not about how terrible the Republican party is. This should be cause for concern whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, or Independent. So read it. Please.


What a football filled Sunday.

We went to Illinois on Saturday for a birthday party. My oldest is turning 4 this month as are three of her cousins. We decided to have one big party for all of them. We arrived at the brunch party around 10 am. I immediately was pulled into a game of flag football with my nephew and two nieces, as well as my older brother and our father. It was a fun game. I got an interception and Allison, my niece, ran for a touchdown. I would have had a couple of touchdown passes, but my 6' 2" brother kept knocking the ball away. Ah, to be over six feet tall...

A few hours later, a number of us piled into my other brother's van and were on our way to my 14 year old nephew's championship football game. Chris' team not only hadn't lost a game all season, but they'd never allowed a single point to be scored against them. They were pretty confident, I think. However, the other team had only lost one game (to Chris' team) and had only allowed something like 20 points all season. At this age, they don't pass the ball much - it's all about the running game. Chris' team just couldn't get going. A couple of turnovers lead to scores for the other team and suddenly, for the first time all season, Chris' team had to play catchup. They weren't able to pull it off. Hopefully, they learned a lesson that you just never know what's going to happen. No team is invincible. And after a season like that, I am sure they were pretty darn proud of themselves, too.

It was a lot of fun watching the game. I was running up and down the sidelines following the play. The kids played tough, lots of good hitting.

After the game, we headed back to my brother's house for cake and one more football game - the Bears. I have been a Bears fan since 1985, that fabled Superbowl season. It's not alway easy being a Bears fan, but I believe that you don't give up on your team just because things aren't going well. After all, I grew up among Cubs fans. Anyway, yesterday Bears game was not going well early on. We were down by 14 points in the second quarter and hadn't gotten anything going on offense. There was golf on another channel and my Dad said the Bears were done and we should switch it. I said no way. You don't give up on a team just because they're losing.

And fifteen minutes later, the Bears were up 20-14 at the half. They held onto win 28-21. Go Bears!

I like the rookie QB - Krenzel. He's a winner and with some more experience I think he could be a good QB for the Bears since their focus is defense. Damn, that Bears defense is strong. They sacked Kurt Warner seven times, forced two fumbles, had two interceptions, and scored once.


Saturday, November 06, 2004

The room spins

When I was 6 years old, I was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. At the time, there was only one or two other cases of children with the disease. Mostly it hits people in their 50s. Meniere's is characterized by hearing fluctuations and loss, whirling vertigo, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). I don't remember the whirling vertigo, as that was corrected with an endolymphatic shunt operation the summer I turned seven. The operation also prevented the hearing fluctuations. In the end, I had one ear that worked fine (the right) and one ear that was pretty much useless (the left). And so I lived for many years until now.

Because yesterday I had what may have been whirling vertigo complete with lots of vomiting. I am not sure - I don't remember what it was like when I was a child. But my description of it matches the description I've read and my doctor described to me. I went to the doctor and he diagnosed it as an inner ear infection, which is possible, except that supposed to last for a few days. Not the case for me. I feel fine today. I have no physical ailments.

So is the Meniere's coming back (not that it ever really left)? I don't know. But I have an appointment on Monday with my ear doctor. Back to the salt free diet and the diaretic, I imagine.

I am a little worried.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It didn't even last 24 hours

It's nice to see all those nice words about uniting the country and bringing everyone together were real heartfelt.

I earned capital in the campaign — political capital — and now I intend to spend it.
--George W. Bush

So let me get this straight. 48% of the voting population didn't want him as President and he considers that a mandate to do everything his way? All of you Republicans out there who are talking about us working together might want to send an email George's way.

Look in the mirror

I read this today. It's chilling.


When Democracy Failed: The Warnings of History
by Thom Hartmann

The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, 1933. They commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilized citizens all across the world.

It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack. A foreign ideologue had launched feeble attacks on a few famous buildings, but the media largely ignored his relatively small efforts. The intelligence services knew, however, that the odds were he would eventually succeed. (Historians are still arguing whether or not rogue elements in the intelligence service helped the terrorist; the most recent research implies they did not.)

But the warnings of investigators were ignored at the highest levels, in part because the government was distracted; the man who claimed to be the nation's leader had not been elected by a majority vote and the majority of citizens claimed he had no right to the powers he coveted. He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world. His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.

Two weeks later, the first detention center for terrorists was built in Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display.

Within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.

To get his patriotic "Decree on the Protection of People and State" passed over the objections of concerned legislators and civil libertarians, he agreed to put a 4-year sunset provision on it: if the national emergency provoked by the terrorist attack was over by then, the freedoms and rights would be returned to the people, and the police agencies would be re-restrained. Legislators would later say they hadn't had time to read the bill before voting on it.

Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures, and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator.)

Within the first months after that terrorist attack, at the suggestion of a political advisor, he brought a formerly obscure word into common usage. He wanted to stir a "racial pride" among his countrymen, so, instead of referring to the nation by its name, he began to refer to it as "The Homeland," a phrase publicly promoted in the introduction to a 1934 speech recorded in Leni Riefenstahl's famous propaganda movie "Triumph Of The Will." As hoped, people's hearts swelled with pride, and the beginning of an us-versus-them mentality was sewn. Our land was "the" homeland, citizens thought: all others were simply foreign lands. We are the "true people," he suggested, the only ones worthy of our nation's concern; if bombs fall on others, or human rights are violated in other nations and it makes our lives better, it's of little concern to us.

Playing on this new nationalism, and exploiting a disagreement with the French over his increasing militarism, he argued that any international body that didn't act first and foremost in the best interest of his own nation was neither relevant nor useful. He thus withdrew his country from the League Of Nations in October, 1933, and then negotiated a separate naval armaments agreement with Anthony Eden of The United Kingdom to create a worldwide military ruling elite.

His propaganda minister orchestrated a campaign to ensure the people that he was a deeply religious man and that his motivations were rooted in Christianity. He even proclaimed the need for a revival of the Christian faith across his nation, what he called a "New Christianity." Every man in his rapidly growing army wore a belt buckle that declared "Gott Mit Uns" - God Is With Us - and most of them fervently believed it was true.

Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation's leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various troublesome "intellectuals" and "liberals." He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader.

He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.

His assistant who dealt with the press noted that, since the terrorist attack, "Radio and press are at out disposal." Those voices questioning the legitimacy of their nation's leader, or raising questions about his checkered past, had by now faded from the public's recollection as his central security office began advertising a program encouraging people to phone in tips about suspicious neighbors. This program was so successful that the names of some of the people "denounced" were soon being broadcast on radio stations. Those denounced often included opposition politicians and celebrities who dared speak out - a favorite target of his regime and the media he now controlled through intimidation and ownership by corporate allies.

To consolidate his power, he concluded that government alone wasn't enough. He reached out to industry and forged an alliance, bringing former executives of the nation's largest corporations into high government positions. A flood of government money poured into corporate coffers to fight the war against the Middle Eastern ancestry terrorists lurking within the homeland, and to prepare for wars overseas. He encouraged large corporations friendly to him to acquire media outlets and other industrial concerns across the nation, particularly those previously owned by suspicious people of Middle Eastern ancestry. He built powerful alliances with industry; one corporate ally got the lucrative contract worth millions to build the first large-scale detention center for enemies of the state. Soon more would follow. Industry flourished.

But after an interval of peace following the terrorist attack, voices of dissent again arose within and without the government. Students had started an active program opposing him (later known as the White Rose Society), and leaders of nearby nations were speaking out against his bellicose rhetoric. He needed a diversion, something to direct people away from the corporate cronyism being exposed in his own government, questions of his possibly illegitimate rise to power, and the oft-voiced concerns of civil libertarians about the people being held in detention without due process or access to attorneys or family.

With his number two man - a master at manipulating the media - he began a campaign to convince the people of the nation that a small, limited war was necessary. Another nation was harboring many of the suspicious Middle Eastern people, and even though its connection with the terrorist who had set afire the nation's most important building was tenuous at best, it held resources their nation badly needed if they were to have room to live and maintain their prosperity. He called a press conference and publicly delivered an ultimatum to the leader of the other nation, provoking an international uproar. He claimed the right to strike preemptively in self-defense, and nations across Europe - at first - denounced him for it, pointing out that it was a doctrine only claimed in the past by nations seeking worldwide empire, like Caesar's Rome or Alexander's Greece.

It took a few months, and intense international debate and lobbying with European nations, but, after he personally met with the leader of the United Kingdom, finally a deal was struck. After the military action began, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the nervous British people that giving in to this leader's new first-strike doctrine would bring "peace for our time." Thus Hitler annexed Austria in a lightning move, riding a wave of popular support as leaders so often do in times of war. The Austrian government was unseated and replaced by a new leadership friendly to Germany, and German corporations began to take over Austrian resources.

In a speech responding to critics of the invasion, Hitler said, "Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods. I can only say; even in death they cannot stop lying. I have in the course of my political struggle won much love from my people, but when I crossed the former frontier [into Austria] there met me such a stream of love as I have never experienced. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators."

To deal with those who dissented from his policies, at the advice of his politically savvy advisors, he and his handmaidens in the press began a campaign to equate him and his policies with patriotism and the nation itself. National unity was essential, they said, to ensure that the terrorists or their sponsors didn't think they'd succeeded in splitting the nation or weakening its will. In times of war, they said, there could be only "one people, one nation, and one commander-in-chief" ("Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer"), and so his advocates in the media began a nationwide campaign charging that critics of his policies were attacking the nation itself. Those questioning him were labeled "anti-German" or "not good Germans," and it was suggested they were aiding the enemies of the state by failing in the patriotic necessity of supporting the nation's valiant men in uniform. It was one of his most effective ways to stifle dissent and pit wage-earning people (from whom most of the army came) against the "intellectuals and liberals" who were critical of his policies.

Nonetheless, once the "small war" annexation of Austria was successfully and quickly completed, and peace returned, voices of opposition were again raised in the Homeland. The almost-daily release of news bulletins about the dangers of terrorist communist cells wasn't enough to rouse the populace and totally suppress dissent. A full-out war was necessary to divert public attention from the growing rumbles within the country about disappearing dissidents; violence against liberals, Jews, and union leaders; and the epidemic of crony capitalism that was producing empires of wealth in the corporate sector but threatening the middle class's way of life.

A year later, to the week, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia; the nation was now fully at war, and all internal dissent was suppressed in the name of national security. It was the end of Germany's first experiment with democracy.

As we conclude this review of history, there are a few milestones worth remembering.

February 27, 2003, was the 70th anniversary of Dutch terrorist Marinus van der Lubbe's successful firebombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag) building, the terrorist act that catapulted Hitler to legitimacy and reshaped the German constitution. By the time of his successful and brief action to seize Austria, in which almost no German blood was shed, Hitler was the most beloved and popular leader in the history of his nation. Hailed around the world, he was later Time magazine's "Man Of The Year."

Most Americans remember his office for the security of the homeland, known as the Reichssicherheitshauptamt and its SchutzStaffel, simply by its most famous agency's initials: the SS.

We also remember that the Germans developed a new form of highly violent warfare they named "lightning war" or blitzkrieg, which, while generating devastating civilian losses, also produced a highly desirable "shock and awe" among the nation's leadership according to the authors of the 1996 book "Shock And Awe" published by the National Defense University Press.

Reflecting on that time, The American Heritage Dictionary (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983) left us this definition of the form of government the German democracy had become through Hitler's close alliance with the largest German corporations and his policy of using war as a tool to keep power: "fas-cism (fbsh'iz'em) n. A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Today, as we face financial and political crises, it's useful to remember that the ravages of the Great Depression hit Germany and the United States alike. Through the 1930s, however, Hitler and Roosevelt chose very different courses to bring their nations back to power and prosperity.

Germany's response was to use government to empower corporations and reward the society's richest individuals, privatize much of the commons, stifle dissent, strip people of constitutional rights, and create an illusion of prosperity through continual and ever-expanding war. America passed minimum wage laws to raise the middle class, enforced anti-trust laws to diminish the power of corporations, increased taxes on corporations and the wealthiest individuals, created Social Security, and became the employer of last resort through programs to build national infrastructure, promote the arts, and replant forests.

To the extent that our Constitution is still intact, the choice is again ours.

Thom Hartmann lived and worked in Germany during the 1980s, and is the author of over a dozen books, including "Unequal Protection" and "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight." This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this credit is attached.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A new tradition...

I took Rachel and Sami out to lunch today. We toasted to democracy. I explained it to Rachel, but I don't think it totally sunk into her almost four year old mind. Still, I think a celebratory lunch after a presidential election will be a good tradition. Even if the candidate we voted for lost. It's important to teach the kids the value of our freedoms and how lucky we are to live in a country where we have a say in its future.

My first thought for a new political party is the "Creative Party" based on the ideas espoused by Richard Florida in his book, The Rise of the Creative Class. However, before I go any further I need to know who the non-voters are. So I am off to search the web to find an answer to that question. Unless someone wants to help me out and send me in the right direction. James? What say you on this depressing November 3rd?


That's how I feel this morning. And now I am starting to feel angry.

George Bush is our president. The Ohio provisional ballots will not change that.

I am just shocked that I am in the minority in this country. That more people in the United States would favor returning a liar to the White House. Was it Kerry? Did people just not like him? Not trust him? I didn't like him all that much, but I far prefered him to the lying, incompetent man who is our president.

You know, there was a lot of talk last night on the networks about the "morality vote". People who were voting based on their morals sided with Bush. Why? Because he's religious? Because he talks about being moral? How about actions, people? This is not a moral man. His actions have proven that.

I accept that George Bush is the man the majority of Americans want as their president. But now the real work begins. Because I really believe there is something to what the networks were saying last night about the Democrats not reaching people. The Democratic party is over. We need a new option. We have four years to figure out how to build a new party and make it strong enough to win. How do we do that?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The big corporation better not win

Ralph Nader:

"[George Bush is] just a big corporation disguised as a human being."

Way to sum it up perfectly, Ralph. But I gotta say he is coming off as very bitter in this interview.

Right now, although they won't call it, it looks like Bush will win Florida this year. I think if it were any other state, they'd call it for Bush, but since Florida was the symbol of network ineptitude four years ago, they won't call it until every vote is in. But still, I think Bush has Florida.

Iowa's leaning blue...

CNN's current Iowa results:

299,607 52%0
278,448 48%0

That's what I like to see. Of course, it's way too early to call.

Blogging the election

So far everything is falling as expected. Of those that have been decided, every Gore state is a Kerry state. Every Bush state is a Bush state.

I let out a sigh of relief when Pennsylvania went for Kerry. Thank God. I was worried there. We need Florida and Ohio. Things sound bad for Florida. Apparently, some of the polls are still open in Ohio because of huge voter turnout. A huge turnout seems like it'd be good for Kerry. I hope.

As I sit here watching CNN, flipping to channel 2, sometimes hitting channel 7... I am just worried. Worried that we'll have to endure four more years of Bush's policies. Worried that I will be in the minority of this country politically. I am just confused that anyone could support Bush after the last four years. And if more people in this country vote for him than for John Kerry, I will be just... depressed. Never has an election had such an effect on me. I have been interested in the past, but this year I am glued to the TV. I feel that the next four years will be a time of great upheavel and stress for our country. I know this not a shock to anyone. I am babbling in my blog. That's pretty bad.

Current electoral vote count:
Bush: 197
Kerry: 188

Best guess...

Kerry wins:
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Pennsylvania = 286 electoral votes

Bush wins:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Mississippi, Nevada, Virginia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin
= 252 electoral votes

The next president of the United States will be ... John Kerry.


Today's the day when the direction of the next four years will be decided. Although we might not know that decision for a few weeks if it's anything like the last election. I voted early at my local library. Sharon voted this morning. She waited in line for a half hour. I am all for long lines - that means higher voter turnout.

It's amazing to me how strongly some people favor Bush over Kerry. Many members of my family are staunch Republicans. It's made family parties somewhat difficult at times. Still, I don't understand the demonization of the other side. All Republicans are bad! All Democrats are nuts! It's just stupid. I know many, many Republicans who are good people. And there's just as many crazy Dems as there are crazy Reps. I'll see your Rush Limbaugh and raise you one Michael Moore.

It's a little scary how split this country is. We need to remember that on the other side could be our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, and our mothers. It would be very easy for our country to be torn apart by this election. But we need to show the world that our democrary works. It has some flaws that need to be addressed, but, with apologies to Huey Lewis, the heart of democr'cy is still beating.

New York, New York, is everything they say
And no place that I’d rather be
Where else can you vote a half a million ways
All at a quarter to three
When they vote their party, ooh that modern party
They do it with a lot of style
But it’s still that same old back beat rhythm
That really drives ’em wild

They say the heart of democ'rcy's still beating
And from what I’ve seen I believe ’em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of democ'rcy's still beating

LA, Hollywood, and the Sunset Strip
Is something everyone should see
Neon lights and the pretty pretty girls
All voting so assuredly
When they vote their mind
Ignore the polling numbers
They like it without the flash
Cause it’s still that same old voting rhythm
That really kicks ’em in the...

They say the heart of democ'rcy's still beating
And from what I’ve seen I believe ’em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of democ'rcy's still beating

DC, San Antone and the Liberty town, Boston and Baton Rouge
Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City, Seattle, San Francisco, too
Everywhere there’s voting, real live voting, people with a million thoughts
But it’s still that some old democracy
That really drives ’em wild

They say the heart of democ'rcy's still beating
And from what I’ve seen I believe ’em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of democ'rcy's still beating

Monday, November 01, 2004


842 words. Not too bad so far. I need to write about 1,666 words each day to hit the 50,000 words goal. I'd like to do 2000 per day to give myself some room. (What am I talking about? Go here.)

I am writing the same story that's been in my head since... I don't know how long. I've started this story about five different times over the years. This time the narration is completely different. It's a fantasy novel, so it has swords and magic and good stuff like that. However, I am purposely not writing it with the stylistic conventions of fantasy novels. Those stories often flow smoothly like water and it can be boring. Or at least easy to read. I don't want it to feel like a fantasy novel. I don't want the words to flow nicely off the page. I want it to be choppy. I want it to smack you around a little bit.

Two pages in and I've killed a ten year old. The body count might get pretty high. We'll see what happens.

Tricking and Treating

Well, okay it was actually all about the treats. I took Rachel trick or treating last night. It was fun to watch her race up to each house, ring the bell, shout "trick or treat!", and light up when candy was dropped into her plastic pumpkin. She loved every minute of it. And so did I.

I guess we do one trick. We ding dong ditched someone. It was unintentional. And they probably weren't actually home. We rang the bell and then I noticed that they'd left Halloween treats in a basket on the porch. So we took one and left. I don't think they ever came to the door. But just in case, sorry for the ding dong ditching!

On Saturday, we went to a Halloween party. It was kid friendly, which was nice since we are able to send Rachel to play with the bigger kids (8 and 11 year olds) and we got to hang out with the adults. We watched an awful movie - Van Helsing. That guy is a terrible monster hunter. He lucked out time and time again. It was only enjoyable because we were MST3King it.

Today is the first day of writing my novel. I was going to try to get started at midnight last night, but Sami ended that idea by waking up and not wanting to go back to sleep. Which is a real shame because I had a good idea and was really in the mood to write. Hopefully, I find some time today.

My Survivor blog has the latest news and speculation as well as some spoiling about the show.
About Me

Name: Matt
Location: Coralville, IA
I am a Dad and a Husband. An Actor. An Administrator. A Hiker. A Writer. Probably a bunch of other things too. Read my blog and you'll find out more.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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