Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Radio Schmucks

As you may have noticed, today I'm in a rotten mood. I scan the headlines and brazen stupidity hits me across the face: Chavez in Syria, making friends with assholes worse than him, AMLO still acting up in Mexico with nobody able to send him packing, Stuyvesant Town being put up for sale, and in the epitome of assholeness, Radio Shack fires employees via e-mail.
The cowardice. Geez. I think that if I got a pink slip via email my first impulse would be to set the place on fire.
I will never, ever buy anything at Radio Shack ever. Now that I think about it, I never have. They are stupid stores, with stupid brands that nobody knows or cares about. They are completely irrelevant.

I've had it

New York is going to the dogs. The rich dogs, that is. And I've had it with everything being obscenely overpriced. A friend visiting from Paris is appalled at the fact that New York is more expensive than Paris at this point, at least when it comes to food and wine.
They are turning the proles away. Now MetLife is selling Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to turn it into expensive, unaffordable housing. Brooklyn is already fast becoming that. Who is going to live here? Just assholes with money?
The freaking millionaire mayor of this town should give a shit about this because if this town continues its inexorable turn into asshole central, I'm blaming him entirely for it.
A glass of wine now is 19 dollars. A shot of tequila 16 (and they don't even give you a good lime with it). Some places have the chutzpah of charging 8 bucks for a beer. Entrees at soso places now command upward of 25 bucks. And people are lining up to pay the prices.
You can't have a city of rich only. The LES sucks. The East Village sucks. Places that had some NY charm now look like malls. If I see one more nail salon I will go berserk.
We need a depression.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Parallel, my ass

Mexico's electoral court has rejected the allegations of fraud by AMLO but he, who is apparently not aware that he is commiting political hara-kiri, is vowing to set up a parallel government. Excuse me? That he lives in a parallel universe is now obvious to everyone, but that doesn't mean that the whole country needs to tailspin into an endless political twilight zone. His behavior is not only utterly insane, but totally unacceptable and he is plainly looking to provoke violent confrontation. As Mr. Ex-Enchilada pointed out, at this point in the proceedings, all he wants is to become a martyr, because he suffers from Jesus complex.
I think that the government's measured response so far has been, though probably frustrating to the citizens who want normalcy to resume, the best strategy to wear out this maniac and his poor, misguided followers. But at a certain point, he needs to be stopped. He cannot abduct the country at will. If his party had any responsible brains; not political, opportunistic, manipulative brains, they'd try to contain the damage themselves, by neutralizing him, confronting him, and forcing him to save face in a mature, responsible manner, but apparently nobody else is at the wheel of the PRD. Which is not surprising, but it is very disheartening.
Since the recent birth of Mexican democracy, only six years ago, Mexico is still at the immature, infantile stages of democracy, and the concept is bandied about and misused by its politicians, who wouldn't know real democracy if it kicked them in the ass.
It's not a coincidence that there is a spoof of Barney singing songs to AMLO in youtube.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Corporate abuse

Corporations keep widening their profits while wages for hardworking Americans (yes you idiots who don't take a day off of work and who can't leave the laptop and the blackberry alone on the weekend) have decreased:

The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s.

So this means we are all being taken for a ride and have nobody to blame but ourselves. Stop being such workaholics and start demanding better pay for your efforts.

In a speech on Friday, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, did not specifically discuss wages, but he warned that the unequal distribution of the economy’s spoils could derail the trade liberalization of recent decades. Because recent economic changes “threaten the livelihoods of some workers and the profits of some firms,” Mr. Bernanke said, policy makers must try “to ensure that the benefits of global economic integration are sufficiently widely shared.”
Yeah, right and I'm from Missouri.

But Lloyd is my Love

I'm talking about the fantastic, fabulous, incomparable Rex Lee, who plays Ari Gold's smart, longsuffering assistant Lloyd in Entourage. I think: Lloyd for President.
Yesterday's final episode of the season was fantastic and I was almost screaming in despair and sitting shivah when Ari got fired (because we adore Ari), after they jerked our chain for a very wonderfully suspenseful half hour of he loves me, he loves me not, he will prevail, he will not. I also adore Drama, as in Johnny Drama, played with incredibly sweet, moronic panache by Kevin Dillon. He deserves an Emmy for the creation of this character.
Entourage is much better than Sex and the City. It is sharper and meaner and edgier and sweeter too. Give me Lloyd and give me Drama and I'm a happy camper.
But take away from me that horrible, inexplicable Lucky Louie crap. WTF, HBO? And can anybody explain to me why I should think that Dane Cook is funny? Am I missing something?


Apparently he's the only one who hasn't read the memos everywhere that the situation one year after Katrina, according to everybody on Earth is appalling and pathetic and inexcusable. His promises have not been met.
Why this man is still in office is beyond me. Forget Iraq. He should be thrown out of office for his mishandling of Katrina alone. The gall he has to stand in Biloxi or as far as he can from the Lower Ninth Ward is beyond belief. I don't know how this man can live with himself. I truly don't. I am sick of his empty posturing, and his idiotic bravado and his cluelessness and his irresponsibility. Somebody fire him.
To be the Worst President of the US is a dubious honor already, but to be so utterly disconnected from reality while holding office cannot be pardoned.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's not fair

An incompetent sociopath with pathological narcissism gets hired to run an agency. He makes a terrible first impression when speaking to the employees and all goes to shit from there. A year and a half later, the agency, once one of the brightest stars in that mercadito that still is the US Hispanic market, has been run to the ground, its biggest account lost because of absolute hubris, incompetence and unprofessionalism; other important accounts have decamped as well, not one new business pitch won during this guys' tenure and everybody, either leaving in droves or completely despondent. The guy, in keeping with his monstrous arrogance, doesn't even admit to his culpability. So finally they fire the asshole. Everybody knows what's next: the "laying off" of people.
First of all, I would like the industry media to report accurately when someone gets fired, such as this prick. He got fired, he didn't leave of his own accord. He ruined the place. He got sacked. Say it.
Secondly, a bunch of hardworking, talented people, many of them who had been there for years, get fired. We all know that's the way business goes. BUT. I want to know why other people who have far more responsibility for this mess are still at their jobs. Very senior management, with self-important titles, completely incapable of managing their fingernails, let alone an agency, who apparently did not do much, if anything, to stop the reign of terror and the decline of the agency, are still making the nice six figures at their very high management post. Why is that? And why is the person who hired this bastard still at her job? I'm not saying sack her (God knows he was a bullshit artist of the first order, although it was hard not to notice that he was a creep on wheels. Aren't people at that level supposed to be better judges of character than us lowly plebeians?), but make her responsible. She is more responsible than any of the people who got the axe. Why is she not paying the price?
The lives of regular people get completely upended because of somebody else's mistakes. "Leaders" who couldn't lead their way out of a paper bag with a hole in it, keep their cushy jobs.
When this happens in other industries, there are lawsuits, at the very least. There are consequences. Here apparently, incompetence is coddled and rewarded.
Some of the people who got fired will ultimately thank the agency for doing them the favor; others, such as a guy with two small children and a work visa in progress, may have a harder time of it. I've always said that I became a marxist (figure of specch) when I started working for corporate America. The gall is unbelievable.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I had a diplomatic row too

You know, the US Naval Attache is not the only one to have been singled out by the Chavez Govt.
Me too (sort of). I'm standing in the excrutiatingly slow line where the Venezuelan authorities check your documents before you leave the country. There is an excrutiatingly slow line for before you enter it as well. The woman who is checking the documents seems to be deliberately slow, gleefully enjoying the passengers' nervous fidgeting as a only a born bureaucrat can. The colleague next to her stamps about ten people in the time it takes her to open one passport, which she leafs through as if it was the second volume of War and Peace or the Hammurabi Code, whichever is slower. I turn on my iPod and search somewhere in the deep crevices of my soul for a speck of patience. Bureaucratic power trips bring out the worst in me. I believe in my heart that bureaucrats are the one and only inferior, subhuman species (that's because I am Mexican, but it is true everywhere). So another guy opens up another line, and we all scramble to get out of this snail's domain. Since I am slowly stewing, I tell this man, nicely, that his colleague was extremely slow.
"You have to wait", he admonishes me, as if I was an antsy two-year old. "I know I have to wait, but I also have a plane to catch". He looks at me with utter condescension and says something like, "the plane won't leave". "So the plane won't leave without me, you think?". "Here we treat everyone well", he says, looking at my US passport. "Over there, they don't. Over there, they mistreat people". It took me a moment to understand that over there meant the US. Frankly, the little propaganda lesson was so out of order that I didn't have time to compose in my head a cogent response. I was stunned that this guy was already happily brainwashed with the classic, musty, anti-US crap. But bureaucrats are resentful mutts. They resent that you travel, that you have a car that gets towed, that you need documents because you have a life that means something, that you are not a bureaucrat.
Bureaucrats are hateful creatures and it is totally okay to loathe them.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Food at the Beach

If your idea of relaxation at the beach is just you and the sounds of the ocean, well, then don't go to Cayo Sombrero in Morrocoy (see crowds in post below). But if your idea is that people are going to bring to your feet the freshest food from the sea, and you will feel like Poseidon (the god and the ship) after a banquet, then you've come to the right place.

As an appetizer, you can start with 7 dozen fresh oysters. Tiny, briny, incredibly flavorful oysters so good and fresh, they only need a squeeze of juicy lime. I had about a dozen. My friend, longing with the nostalgia for her childhood at the beach, had the rest 6 dozens, coming to a grand total of 72 oysters. I could only gape in amazement and a smidgen of worry. Whereupon at the end of our day at the beach she announced "I have the runs, but it was worth it". A hero, in my book.
Then you can have lobster or fish ceviche or shrimp or conch, or octopus. Straight from floating Restaurant Verruguita (Little Wart!) to you:

That's not me, that's a local beauty showing off her fresh lobster. I am even prettier... Then you can finish your meal with fresh coconut just fallen off the tree, or coconut icecream served in a coconut shell or a delicious cachapa which is a sweet corn pancake with melted parkay (yum) and white salty cheese, unbelievable. Eat your heart out Long Island, my ass.

You have no clue

My Venezuelan friend goes to Robert Moses State Park and she is all in a funk. It puts her in a bad mood. Why?
1. The water is freezing sub-zero arctic cold. The currents are killer too.
2. The food SUUUUUUUUUUCKS. Bad burgers and worse hot dogs and junk food do not food make.
3. Bad beers are 6 bucks each, and you can't even drink them IN the sea:

What's up with that, yo? But in Venezuela, you can drink IN the sea, and shop IN the sea, and eat icecream IN the sea:

Exhibit A: Please note beach jewelry vendor and his ingenious floating display.

Exhibit B: Please note competing icecream vendors having friendly business chat.

Exhibit C: Please note your own floating pina colada bar. Mind you, the pina coladas were made with fresh pineapple juice and fresh grated coconut and they they put everything else you ever had that you thought was a pina colada to shame. Plus, you can have them IN the sea.

I rest my case.

En el mar la vida es mas sabrosa

A famous Latin song: At the sea, life is more delightful. So true.

You could go to a beach that was as crowded as the subway in rush hour.
Or you could go to a beach blissfully empty of reggaeton-loving maniacs.
(My first official act when I become Supreme Leader, I will ban reggaeton and cheesy Latin ballads. Mark my words).

Paradise Regained

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Morrocoy National Park.

Morrocoy is a series of 28 small keys that you need to reach by boat.
You stay at small, rustic inns such as ours, Paraiso Azul:

Partial view from the hotel. Okay?

On the road to paradise

But then again, Venezuela is a stunningly beautiful country.

I had never seen such a huge bunch of live bamboo. This was at the foot of Avila mountain in Caracas.

A short stretch of good road, near this:

An oil refinery, one of many we passed. $1.25 USD for a full tank of gas, my friends. Like this, Chavez can do whatever he damn well pleases. If he succeeds in turning this country into another Cuba, it will be frightful. Because here, as opposed to that banana republic, they are rich. And they steal like there is no tomorrow.

Caracas II

It kinda says something about a city when the most recognizable manmade landmarks are a Pepsi ball and a Nescafe cup. For a city founded 400 years ago, Caracas is surprisingly devoid of historic buildings. I developed a theory. When the Spaniards arrived in the Great Tenochtitlan in 1521, they saw a magnificent city of pyramids and palaces, they then proceeded to destroy them and built a magnificent city of their own, with the very stones of the crumbled Aztec temples. When they arrived in Caracas, however, they only saw wild jungle, and they didn't bother. These are the historic buildings I saw:

That's pretty much it.

I don't know if you can see him, but that is Hugo Chavez's mug in the poster. As any wannabe dictator worth his salt, Chavez is busy creating a cult of personality. A friend drove me around Caracas and took me to this historic corner of surprisingly great significance, considering how pedestrian it seems. From this very corner which is at the end of a bridge, according to my Chavez-loathing friend, Chavez sympathizers shot on anti demonstrators below. Chavez's own endless propaganda, very much a la Fidel, is all over the city, where not a wall is spared the barrage of yucky socialistic lingo about the people and the revolution and the strength of the fatherland's youth and everybody is dressed in red.
I don't know how commies don't get tired of that old, shrivelled crap.

Like Mexico City, Caracas suffers from an appalling invasion of visual pollution, mainly created by huge outdoor ads like this one. Not only does one have to suffer endless traffic jams, you have to do it while seeing ads for Paris Hilton's perfume (if there is anything uglier than Caracas, it's Paris Hilton, and if there is anything even uglier than that, is Paris Hilton in Caracas). Most ads have busty women showing T&A galore. One of them, and I so regret not taking the picture, shows an amazonlike woman, naked from the waist up, showing a huge tit with a nipple photoshopped out of existence, as if that made the ad okay.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

It's a gas

You may want to sit down as you read this: In Venezuela you can fill the tank of a medium sized car for $1.25 USD. This means that a bottle of mineral water is more expensive than a tank of gas. This also means that everybody can own a carcass of a car (no lights, no brakes, no doors) and drive around like a maniac. Which is what happens in this beautiful, incongruent country.

A well lit tunnel in downtown Caracas

A nicely furbished taxicab (to be fair, there are actually some nice ones too).

It's raining on the road. Do you know where your signage is? The white lanes? The maximum speed limit? Huh?

You may think that selling oil at 70 bucks a barrel, Venezuela should be as gleaming as Dubai. You would think that at least they would have plenty of money to build decent roads so all those people could enjoy their free gas without killing themselves in the process, but you would be wrong. For all those Mexicans who think the roads in Mexico are bad, you haven't been here, my friends. Even I, who was born to driving in Mexico, land of the reckless, was scared shitless at not only the terrible state of the roads here, but also at the unbelievable recklessness and idiotic, macho driving of the locals.
I'm told that the number one cause of death in this country are traffic accidents. To put it in perspective, the mother of a friend of mine lost her grandfather, her father and her husband to three different cars.
This did not prevent us intrepid travellers from renting a car (at about 100 bucks a day) to go to the beach. It was worth the risk.
I will tell you more about the beautiful beach in a different post, while you recover from the reverse sticker shock.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Eyesore Central

In Caracas, there are horrendous buildings from the sixties and seventies, and some interestingly monstruous buildings from the fifties, all in dramatic decay. As my gracious hostess points out, Caracas is 400 years old but it looks like it's only 60.
The main plaza downtown is a tiny enclave of wedding cake neoclassical buildings surrounded on all sides by unmitigated hideousness. To be fair, some of the red brick wealthy condos are actually very interesting architecturally, but Caracas made me think of Mexico City, with its wide boulevards and imposing colonial buildings, in a different light.

In New York our buildings have important-sounding names, such as The Beresford, The Dakota, The Brevoort. Here there are some classy ones like The Humboldt, or The Atlantic, but they sit right next to buildings with names like, I kid you not, "Don Pedro", "Lassie" and my favorite: "For You".

In Caracas

I approached my flight to Caracas yesterday thinking that the security hassle was going to be the very preamble to the apocalypse, only to find the lady next to me at the boarding gate daringly applying lip gloss for all the world to see. Nobody arrested her. As my smart-as-a-whip darling sister Little Enchiladita pointed out, (after receiving via email my instructions on my Last Will and Testament): "Not to worry. Nobody is going to blow up a plane to Caracas. Chavez is chums with the terrorists".
So, Caracas:
Inevitably, it reminds me a lot of Mexico City, particularly the ugly parts, which are plentiful. But surprisingly, Caracas is probably the lushest city I've seen, nestled in the middle of astonishingly green hills, verdant with deep tropical foliage.
Its famous mountain, the Avila, looms magnificently over it. So if you are stuck in satanic traffic in the middle of an ugly street, there is always a wall of green right in front of your nose.
What boggles the mind then is how come they erected such an unwieldy little eyesore of a city in such magnificent surroundings. It's as if they looked around and thought "what the hell, we're never going to match it, so let's build as ugly as we possibly can".
Thus, the ugly parts are defiantly, heroically ugly. You can confuse the tire shops and the invasion of street stalls and garbage and the squeezing together of humanity where it clearly doesn't fit, with any such place in Mexico City, except that instead of almost 25 million souls, here they only have about 4. Because of the hilly topography, the poor encroach their shantytowns on top of the hills; an impressive example of spontaneous popular engineering that begs the question: is this a seismic region? It's rather a mudslide region, but when has that stopped anyone from building? These favelas are a sight to behold, built literally on top of each other, mostly of forgiving red brick, which at least contrasts nicely with the surrounding greenery. Interestingly enough, the rich who build their condos right across the hill, and often right next to the favelas, build with red brick too, which is something that would never happen in Mexico City. Of course, as in DF, the wealthy live in gated compounds. Caracas is basically a gated city. There are iron bars guarding everything and everybody, including whatever you may find in the most impoverished barrios.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Ahmadinejad: Hitler wannabe
Kim Jong Il: Spielberg wannabe
Fidel Castro: Batista wannabe
Hugo Chavez: Fidel wannabe
AMLO: Hugo Chavez wannabe
George Bush: Dick Cheney wannabe
Dick Cheney: Darth Vader wannabe
Iraq War: Vietnam wannabe, only worse.

No doubt you have seen the images of Fidel being lovingly cared for at the hospital by his friend, savior and imitator, Hugo Chavez, both wearing identical red Santa Claus shirts and eating what looks like yogurt but I bet it's each others' own creamy semen.

In any case, the totalitarian mindset is always inextricably linked to the absurd. Witness the Soviet Union and its satellites, or North Korea or Iran, or Nazi Germany, where the persecution of intelligence plus the cult of personality are taken to cosmic extremes of surrealism, usually conjoined with pure evil.
In the case of tropical communism, the absurdity has a tinge of lambada to it. It is certainly more folkloric and less humorless than its Eastern European or Korean counterparts. But it is transparently inane.
Fidel is in no way different than the dictator he deposed: monarchic, oligarchic and a bastard on wheels. Chavez is a hoot, except when he starts being friends with really terrible people, like Hitler wannabe Mahmoud and other rogue bullies in dubious ex-communist countries, and AMLO is a tropical pest of epidemic proportions, one of those larva that burrow under your skin.
Fidel at least is machiavellian and immortal. Chavez is astute and kind of simpatico, in a genuinely embarrasing way. But AMLO seems to be suspended in a stage of arrested development, like he never made it past the terrible twos. Like an obnoxious, incontrollable child, he doesn't seem to have any saving graces. Tyrannical, bullying, tantrumy, and unreasonable. Now tell me, even those who claim to like him, if at this point they can still believe that the man can be the president of Mexico.
Chabelo* is more mature than him. Chabelo for President!

*Chabelo is a character of a child played by a middle aged man in shorts and suspenders. To anybody unfamiliar with the theater of the absurd that is Mexico, he's kind of creepy, but Mexicans are blissfully unaware of that. We love him.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The new Nazis

There is a contest in Iran about Holocaust cartoons. Apparently they want to teach the Western world that putting the prophet Muhammad in a drawing equates making fun of the Holocaust. The way the competing drawings are described, they are basically classic anti-Israel, anti-US doodles where stars of David equal swastikas: the time-worn paraphernalia of visual hate that never changes. I don't understand how Jew-haters don't get tired of this bullshit. It is not only sickening but unfathomably boring. But that is not really the point of the contest.

The point of the contest is that Iran is a country where the government officially encourages and sponsors anti-semitism and anti-semitic propaganda.
Exactly like Nazi Germany.
They are Nazis who kill people outside their borders.
Iran also organized and sponsored the murder of Jewish people in the attacks to the Jewish Community Center in 1994 that killed 85 people and wounded over 300, and the Israeli Embassy in Argentina which killed 29 and wounded over 200 in 1992.
So this lethal anti-Jewish behavior is not news.
Organizers say displaying more than 200 entries from Iran's International Holocaust Cartoons Contest aims to challenge Western taboos about discussing the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died but which Iran's president called a ``myth.''

``This is a test of the boundaries of free speech espoused by Western countries,'' said Masoud Shojai-Tabatabai, head of the Cartoon House which helped organize the exhibition, as he stood next to the Statue of Liberty drawing.

Iran's best-selling newspaper Hamshahri in February launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the September publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish and other European newspapers.

Nothing more dangerous than dangerous, deranged idiots. And there is a cash incentive too:

The winner and runners up will be announced on September 2, with the top three entries receiving $12,000, $8,000 and $5,000 respectively. ``The government is not financing the prize,'' Shojai said, without saying who was offering the cash.

I would say we nuke 'em first, but if I do, I'm never going to hear the end of it.
So I say we pay particular attention to this state and its Hitler wannabe Ahmadinejad.

The War on Terror... now being conducted by my compadre Gustavo from the exterminator company and moi.
Gustavo, who after twisting his tongue in English for the better part of 10 minutes, turned out to hail from lovely Guerrero, Mexico, laid down some glue traps, fumigated and put out some yummy poison for my houseguest to savor. The first unintended victim of the glue traps was yours truly, stepping on one and probably screwing up Gustavo's malevolent scheme. In any case, he could not believe I am originally from Mexico; I had to threaten to burst into the national anthem. I am not of brown complexion. I guess he had never seen a blonde Mexican before. He finally believed me and proceeded to hit on me at the same time. He is a sweet guy who assured me that mice don't stink when they die, unless they eat first and then if they eat the poison... you get the idea. He will come back to check up on me and the war on terror in two weeks. (!)
I am now deeply doubtful that I want a mouse to die on the premises. According to my friend Berta, they squeal horribly when caught in the traps. Oy. Vey. I hope it's not bad karma. On the other hand, I do not want to encourage the creature and his friends and family to check in permanently. This is not the Holiday Inn.
My friend Bea, who thinks the most digusting vermin are cute, made me promise I wouldn't persecute the mouse and she would shoo him away very lovingly in the not too distant future. Well, I said I wouldn't kill it (with my bare hands). Sorry.

Guilty pleasure

Since I can't sleep with the mouse, I watch late night TV. I watch Sexual Healing, this reality show with sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman, where three couples parade their most intimate troubles for you in the comfort of your very own home.
I find this show fascinating, if, like every other reality show, bogus. The couples come to the ever mindful Dr. Laura with their intimacy issues and she dispenses sensible advice and loony trust building exercises. So far so good. But then they cut to these couples having arguments and sex, mostly both at the same time, in the car, at home, in bed (some are shot with an infrared camera).
The Eew factor sets in, not to mention the Ick factor. Then there are these completely bogus segments where they get the three women together (in a stripping class, par example) and the guys play pool and they discuss their problems. As if!
One wonders how much the people overemphasize the role they play in the relationship for the sake of the cameras, though they seem pretty oblivious.
For instance, there is a woman who will not let her husband see her tits. She will not let him touch them either. But she has no problem letting an audience of total strangers see how she doesn't let him see her tits in bed. The WTF factor sets in. I must say that in this case, I thought the guy was a flaming queen, but Dr. Laura pretended that wasn't the case.
One gets to play shrink in front of the TV set. Fun!
I have learned a couple of very enlightening things from this show:
There are patterns in couples. For instance:
• Very controlling women (aka bitches on wheels) hitched on to wimpy, unbelievably patient, emasculated men whom they torture, deny and psychologically manipulate constantly.
These women are a horror show and don't deserve the company of a vibrator, let alone a man.
• Couples full of rage and resentment who hurt and berate each other almost every moment of their lives. They insist on being together.
• Many people who are hugely damaged goods, apparently some beyond repair. Sad and creepy.
• Some intelligent, potentially great couples, derailed by petty bitternesses, entrenched in their warring positions.
Dr. Laura listens patiently and intelligently. I love it when she comes to the conclusion that some couples simply cannot be with each other, because even though she tries hard to show improvement, some people are clearly beyond it. At least she makes the right call. Not every story has a happy ending.
It is strangely moving to watch these people claiming to love each other, looking for help, shedding tears, trying hard, being so wrong.
It's fascinating.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Spic and Span

Have you noticed that lately I am watching too much TV? I also gave in and bought a pint of Haagen Dazs light S'mores ice cream. I am going to the dogs. Because of the mouse.
But I digress.
Many years ago, I shot a commercial in LA that required excellent comedic actresses who spoke Spanish. We got a bunch of great people, including Lupe Ontiveros, who is relatively famous and has been in movies like the overrated As Good As It Gets, with Jack Nicholson. She told me that the only role available for Latina actresses that are not young and fetching is the role of maid. If you are younger you may also be considered for the role of whore. I thought she was exaggerating.
One of the actresses we hired, a hilarious woman, told me the same thing. Always up for the role of maid. This was about 7 years ago, if not more. Well, Monday I'm watching the season premiere of Weeds and who do I see in the role of a Mexican maid, driving her patrona's car without a license? Her.
Oh, well...

Sullivan's Travels

Am I the only one that thinks that Andrew Sullivan's fantasy blogging from a non 9/11 world this week on New York Magazine is a pointless, inane, mental masturbation? I kept getting more and more infuriated the more I read it.
I don't think it is pointless to ask what if, and what the other contributors have to say is mildly interesting, but isn't it more to the point to ask, not if 9/11 had not happened but rather WHAT IF this country had acted intelligently before, during and after what happened? What if we had not gone to war with the wrong nation for the wrong reasons? What if the idiots from the CIA and the FBI had read the freaking memo and talked to one another? What if G.W had not stolen the election in Florida or the Supreme Court given him carte blanche to usurp a presidency that did not belong to him? What if Al Gore had put on a fight, instead of just putting on weight and a beard?
I find it idiotic to envision there not being an attack, because that is not a learning lesson, that is just a fantasy. What we sorely need are learning lessons, and we need to apply them fast.
In a nutshell, in his fertile imagination Sullivan envisions an attack with cyanide gas in five world capitals: London, Tel Aviv (since there are no subways in the Holy Land, he proposes rockets with chemical warheads), New York, Moscow and D.C., while Al Gore is president. He puts the death toll at over 10 thousand people. He goes on an on about how the attack is planned, and all the methods that are used in almost pornographic detail. Having fun yet, Andy? Why don't you just write a manual?
Number one: people in the West should stop brainstorming in behalf of the "islamofascist" motherfuckers, because one day they are going to take you up on it. Also, it confirms in their minds the mass hysteria they are able to cause, which is exactly what they want. Bernard Lewis and Sullivan, you are grounded.
Number two: it disgraces you to elevate these assholes to that level of efficiency. To fantasize about more and more reckless terrorist murders somehow aggrandizes these beasts, and that pisses me off.
Of course people who are hard at work in the prevention of terror need to be as imaginative as possible about every conceivable scenario, but to read a fantastic account of what did not happen makes me queasy. It's a waste of time.
Since there is no 9/11, Sullivan envisions Rumsfeld and Bush almost completely defanged, since they are not in power, and the little time they spend in power before Gore wins the election they are obsessed with China. Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney, who is completely neutralized and out of the picture in this scenario, are who they are precisely because of the lethal combination of who they already were with what happened. So again, what is the point?
You know, in Mexico there is a saying: "if my grandmother had wheels, she would have been a bicycle"

In fact, almost the entire issue of the magazine is devoted to 9/11 and it seems to me that its mix of bad taste and interesting stuff is symbolic of how fragmented and schizoid our dealing with it is.
I agree with John Homans' article on the shameless culture of grief it has spawned in this country, where everybody and their brother now can stake claim to some form of victimhood or another.
There is mawkish, manipulative, entitled grief and there is dignified grief, and I much prefer the latter.

I was shocked at the photographs of personal belongings recovered from the site. I am certainly not one of those people who after five years are still saying it's too soon for Oliver Stone to make a movie about that day. Instead, I wish we would all just shut up about it already, especially our disgraceful president. If he has abused this event to the best of his ability every single waking moment of his life since (putting us all in further danger, by the way), and if there were enterprising people selling souvenir postcards and t-shirts already on 9/12, Oliver Stone has the right to do whatever the hell he pleases, give me a break. But why am I looking at the wallet and mangled id card of a dead person? Or at a charred fireman's helmet? I find this is morbid and in terrible taste.

They got a number of survivors in a room to talk about their life that day and since. It is compelling and truthful and sheds light on the very complex issue of surviving a terrible ordeal while others don't. Everything is not rosy afterwards, people are alienated from their families, aloof and impatient, traumatized still, and most astoundingly, when asked if they are bitter against Saudis or Iranians etc, they all said no. No? NO? Wow.
I learned a lot more in that article that in the nonsense all those self-important pundits were dreaming of.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Meryl Courage and her Children

If you have the slightest interest in this production, run, camp, do whathever you need to do, because it is totally worth it. I'm willing not only to wait in line again for 5 hours, but to see the play again, all three hours of it, and this does not happen to me too often.
As Mother Courage, one of the greatest theater roles ever written, Meryl Streep kicks so much butt, it's almost scary. You would think she is too elegant and refined to portray a woman such as Courage, oh but you would be very wrong. She creates the character with her voice, lower and hoarser than usual, with every inch of her body and her miraculous intelligence, and with an unbelievable amount of energy, endless, unstoppable, alive energy; she has energy even when she is dead tired. It is something to behold. She has great musicality, rhythm, perfect timing, perfect pitch, and I'm not talking about her singing, which is fine too. Her Mother Courage is all business, all cunning, and she is feisty and funny and singlemindedly monstrous but also very, very human. A Mother. She is all about survival, and who can blame her? Caveat: once in a while I thought there were a few too many tics and mannerisms, but that is fineschmecking. Meryl Streep rocks. She rocks, rocks, rocks and then she rocks some more. She is better than ever.

Although I have heard about this play all my life, this was the very first time I saw it. It is a great, amazing play. Where has it been all my life? It's the story of our time and of every other farshtunkener time in human history. No sap, no schmaltz, just the disturbing, acerbic truth, hitting you like a wrecking ball on the pit of the stomach. It should be shown once a year just like they do with The Nutcracker or It's a Wonderful Life or The Wizard of Oz. Mother Courage once a year for everybody: perhaps every 9/11, or on the anniversary of any catastrophic war of your choice.

Tony Kushner's updating is right on target. The language is fresh and smart and acerbic and quite rich, which I loved. He purposefully attacks the present Administration with some very pointy dialogue and good for him. The parallels are too obvious to ignore. Only a couple of times the humor seemed a bit sitcomish to me (from a high quality sitcom, but...) and maybe that could be ascribed more to the line readings than to the text. The play is very text heavy, there are a lot of words and songs, and Brechtian songs tend to go on forever. The music by Jeanine Tesori strikes the right Brechtian chords and the staging by George C. Wolfe is electrifying and stunning at times. Its explosions and fires and barrages of ammunition are eerie reminders of situations that people are living through today in Iraq and Africa and Lebanon and northern Israel. The timeliness is chilling.

The first act was superb and the second quite long. Be forewarned and sit it out.
As this was a preview, they are still ironing out some technical kinks. Austin Pendleton, who is hilarious as the Chaplain, flubbed his lines several times yesterday, and so did Ms. Streep (who is onstage talking non-stop for most of the play). At one point they were in a scene together with Kevin Kline and they seemed to have lost their cues and were so all over the place that she flubbed a word, "hyena", and she was unable to control a fit of the giggles, but then she came back and barked it out at the audience with a vengeance and the audience just ate it up.
Jenifer Lewis is fabulous as Yvette, the whore, and most of the cast is perfectly fine. You can always count that there will be one actor who sounds like they are eating a baked potato with all the trimmings, and last night was no exception (the sergeant who appears in the first scene).
The one guy who did not impress me (again) was Kevin Kline. He sings a great song, Song of Solomon, and there he delivers the goods like a pro, but for the role of Cook, a greasy, horrid scoundrel, he is just not sleazy enough. The man's a monster and Mr. Kline seems like a matinee idol. The blond wig doesn't help. Imagine, in his stead, Walken. Alas...

In any case, at this point you may have surmised that I loved it and it was a great experience and you should park your butt on the line and check it out.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Update on the mouse

He is still here. He is very black. And not that small. He darts. He comes out at night while I'm watching TV. He is mildly aware that he is persona non grata around here. He is completely uninterested on the cheese that I deposited in the trap that promises to catch him and trap him painlessly (for me, not for him).
He could not care less about the cheese. He circumvents the cheese. He shuns the cheese.

My Sherlockian powers of deduction tell me that he probably smells the food when I choose to pig out in front of the TV set and he comes out and checks out what's in it for him.
What's in it for him my are my bloodcurling screams.
What's in it for me is I stand there and wield a broom to show him who's boss and insomnia.

I rest my case

Here in the U.S. too, members of the Muslim community are marching against the Israeli occupation, the war against Hezbollah, the invasion of Iraq, everything but what they ought to be doing as well, which is march against Islamic fundamentalism. Have you seen or heard of such a march? Since 9/11? I have not.
Israel is the best thing that could have happened to these people, who blame it for everything, instead of demanding more justice, more democracy, more opportunities, less poverty and corruption throughout the Muslim world. But no:

Speakers in Lafayette Park energized the most mostly Muslim crowd with chants and speeches condemning Israeli involvement in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, U.S. support for Israel and U.S. involvement in Iraq.

''Occupation is a crime,'' the crowd chanted, equating the situations in the three areas. But they also called for peace and justice for all.

''We all stand united against the violence and the killing in the holy land,'' said Esam Omesh, president of the Muslim American Society, a co-sponsor of the demonstration, along with the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee and the National Council of Arab Americans.

Talk about spin! The chutzpah! How convenient, and how transparent and how utterly crass and disgusting that just a couple of days after an Islamist plot to blow up 10 American planes with hundreds of innocent civilians on board was thwarted, all these people can say is "blablablah: Israel".

Not to be outdone, some mongoloid retard orthodox Jews joined in the proceedings:

The family friendly crowd was filled with Muslims, but also contained many non-Muslims, including a handful of orthodox Jews. Yeshaye Rosenverg, 23, traveled form Monsey, N.Y., to ''show the support for the Lebanese and Palestine people and to make clear that it's not a Jewish fight between Arabs and Jews.''
All I can say is, Yeshaye bubbeleh, you are dead wrong. Next thing you know, they may not remember your pearls of wisdom when the shit hits the fan.
Also, it would behoove to the reporter to understand that there are sects of ultraorthodox Jews that are against the State of Israel because of some cockamamie belief about the messiah. That is the real reason for their presence at the rally, not because they are the Arabs' best friends or because they give a flying fuck about the Palestinians.

This only onfirms what I believe more and more fervently every day: religion is poison.

Is he farting too?

Castro Walking, screams the headline.

HAVANA (AP) -- Fidel Castro is sitting up, walking, talking and even working some during his recovery from intestinal surgery that forced him to step aside temporarily as president, the Communist Party newspaper said Saturday on the eve of the leader's 80th birthday.

The report on the front page of Granma was the most optimistic report since the July 31 announcement that Cuba's longtime leader had undergone surgery and was temporarily ceding presidential powers to his brother Raul, the No. 2 in the government.

The paper headlined its three-paragraph story ''Firm Like a Caguarian,'' comparing Castro to a hardwood tropical tree native to eastern Cuba.

I told you. He ain't dying. Ever.

Snakes on a Plane

They have nothing on the Islamist zealots.

This is not the time to be politically correct. I propose that instead of embarking on a widespread persecution of innocent toiletries, there should also be – and I know this is going to give a zirotsky to many – effective profiling of passengers (which I'm sure exists already. I have a Dominican friend who always gets stopped). Still, history has shown that the people who tend to want to blow the civilized world up in midair tend to be young male Muslims, not overweight white trash housewives from Podunk carrying hair mousse in their handbags. So that both travelers and their hapless screeners can keep their sanity, I propose to particularly screen those passengers that seem to present a risk factor, and sorry, but that will mean that if you have a Muslim name or mane or mien, you may be screened more than the rest. Tough. Such is life in wartime. This does not mean that blonde vixens and rednecks are exempt, but that there needs to be special attention to those who may pose a threat and less to those who don’t.
But what matters most is intelligent, targeted screening, not the wholesale persecution of eau de cologne.
May I remind you of a story about an Irish pregnant woman who was about to board an ElAl plane in London many years ago. The Israeli security agent who screened her noticed there was something weird with her suitcase. It was a big suitcase that seemed rather empty, but when she lifted it up, it seemed too heavy. So the agent stopped her, and thoroughly checked the bag, and lo and behold, there were plastic explosives sewn under the suitcase’s lining. Apparently, the poor woman was pregnant from some Middle Eastern terrorist who planned to use her and her unborn baby as human bombs, without telling her, which at this point should not surprise anyone. So people should be vigilant, because next we could have blond, white assholes scaring the living daylights out of everybody. But in the meantime, don’t you be letting any more Mohammed Attas anywhere near a plane.

The other thing that seems rather obvious to me and probably to anybody who has flown since 9/11 is that the people who work as screeners are woefully inadequate. I propose that since this is supposed to be a war on terror, as we have been constantly reminded for the last 5 years (and as is painfully clear that we are losing), this country should actually train soldiers, reservists, or national guards or drafted college students (why not?) to screen people more intelligently. Not to only depend on those people they are using now, who barely made it to high school and would be equally at home flipping burgers at White Castle. I have nothing against them except that they are not qualified.

There need to be people out there who have a set of criteria and can ask the right questions and stop the right passengers. I know that I sound like a broken record, but that is why ElAl has not had a plane exploded or hijacked in years.

By the way, the terrorists are hurting the Muslim community quite a bit with their actions. Encouraging racism and ostracism and discrimination. It would be great if the moderate Muslims in Britain and other countries would unite and make a statement, like peaceful massive street demonstrations, denouncing and shunning the barbarians in their midst. Instead, three Muslim members of parliament write a letter to Tony Blair blaming the plot on British foreign policy:

In an open letter they say British policy is putting civilians at increased risk in the UK and abroad.

The letter, signed by three Muslim MPs, three peers and 38 groups, also points to the "debacle" of Iraq and the UK's stance over the Middle East crisis.

Well, that's rich, not to say unfathomably stupid and even more cowardly. Perhaps they should think about what they could do to prevent their own young men from getting into the mindset of blowing themselves up at the age of twentysomething, instead of assigning blame on British foreign policy.

We all know Iraq is a debacle, but you can't put the blame of someone like Al-Zawahiri or Bin Laden exclusively on that. The Muslim world has done nothing, or nothing useful yet, to thwart or prevent or ameliorate the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Surely there is blame to be apportioned there as well.

Apart from the obvious outrage at the disgusting, obscene bloodlust these people show, what also galls me are the levels of absurdity they are able to generate with their pranks. Now every single passenger on Earth has to have their perfume confiscated? Now a bottle of water is considered a risk on a plane? Are these people sitting in their hideouts laughing their heads off at the almost cartoonish chaos they unleash in the world? I would be.
Am I the only one or is anybody else deeply offended by the level of ridiculousness, not only of the all-over-the-place response by the airport authorities, but also of the plotting itself? Doesn't it strike you as offensively juvenile, inane, moronic, retarded, to want to blow up ten planes at once with innocent people in the air, including your stupid, gullible, idiot self in the process?

Listen, I appreciate every effort to keep people safe. I'm just saying these efforts must be smarter.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I scooped the NYT!

I wrote about tequilas a couple of days before they did! And while the Eric Asimov article does not commit any major offenses, I think they are overdoing the flavors they find in tequila. Hints of lemon and brine? It's either smooth and smoky or rough, but don't get all bent out of shape as if you were tasting French wine. Also Sue Torres from the restaurant Sueños got it wrong, or Asimov misunderstood her.

And how about what Ms. Torres called the authentic Mexican margarita? Tequila mixed with Squirt, the Mexican citrus soda.

The real Mexican margarita is not and never will be tequila with citrus soda.
That is called a "Paloma", a dove.
Squirt, which is about as Mexican as Taco Bell, is a fabulous grapefruit soda.

Speaking of vacation...

I'm supposed to take off next week on a vacation to a wonderful edenic beach somewhere. But now all hell has broken loose again at the airports. I'm sick and tired of these islamic fundamentalist assholes, not fascists, as Bush idiotically calls them. They are not fascists. They are mentally deranged zealots. Terrorist, mass murderer, genocidal criminals. Call them by their name. Fascist is dainty compared to what they are.
And then the new list of flying requirements, no liquids, no shoes, no ipod, no carry on bag.
If a terrorist decides to hide a bomb in a book, are they going to ban all books? What about chewing gum? The terrorists are probably laughing their heads off watching the civilized world run around like a headless chicken around airports.
Just screen each passenger thoroughly instead of banning this and that and the other. I don't mind a thorough, intelligent search, like the ones you go through when you fly to Israel, but let me bring my stuff on the plane. I have ZERO confidence on the poor security agent schmucks and their non-sensical procedures at our airports. Why is my ticket checked by agents who are standing two feet apart? Has the information on it changed in the space of one foot?
In any case, I was worrying about the sunstroke I was going to get on the beach and the skin cancer, and the mosquitoes and the solar allergies, and possible food poisoning, and many other little nightmares, so now I can also worry about exploding in midair. I'm so looking forward...

You are ruining for the rest of us

Where do I start? The American work ethic is hugely overrated. When I go on vacation I make sure that everybody knows I won't be available, because that is what vacations are for. If I want to work like a dog and never see the light of day, then I don't go on vacation.
People think that they are going to get promoted or appreciated if they work their asses off without rest. They are wrong. Nobody gives a shit, so you might as well take your paid vacation according to company policy. They are not going to give you a medal for your heroic sacrifice. They are going to think: there goes that workaholic putz that I feel like firing anyway (and I so hope you do indeed get fired). So take your goddamned vacation because it is actually better for your sanity and that of your company. And please, disconnect yourself for a week. The world will either survive or implode without you. You are not that freaking important.
I think that insignificant people like to feel bigger by being workaholics. That way they can pretend they are not a puny cipher in the bigger scheme of things. I call it "the conference room table syndrome". Put a group in front of it and all of a sudden they feel like General Mccarthur planning D-Day. It's the same with vacation. People like to look like FBI agents on a matter of national security. Do chill out, people. RELAX.

Let's see if they get the hint

Not that they have before. But now that Joe Lieberman lost the primaries in Connecticut, perhaps the pathetic Democratic party will finally listen to its constituents, instead of trying to placate the lunatic fringe of the right.
Democrats, Mr. Lieberman, cannot be Republicans Lite. You might as well switch parties and become a moderate Republican, which is more practical and better for the sanity of this country, than start a ridiculous race as an independent that you are never going to win.
It is already hard to distinguish between one party and the other in this so-called democracy. So while the idea of a third party is wonderful, there should be a third party, not just one or two demented guys campaigning on their own, like loonies.
The Democratic party should stop conducting focus groups to determine who not to offend and stop offending us registered Democrats with its disastrous lack of leadership and competence. And don't you be shoving John Kerry on us again. I do not particularly like Hillary Clinton, but at least she is an exciting, galvanizing option. Think big. Be coherent. Be liberal.
Giving you an inmeasurable advantage is the Worst. President. Ever. Please tell me you are not going to fuck up again.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I'm loving Weeds

I've been watching the reruns for the first season of Weeds on Showtime and I really enjoy that show.
It is smartass and funny, although nobody, except for people who comment in Gawker, talks like that in real life. All the ethnic characters are total stereotypes, but in a way, so are many of the white ones, so it's a wash out. I love that the woman who plays the Latina maid said "muchacho horroroso" speaking of one of her charges. Usually when Latinos speak in anglo films it's a language from Planet Spic that only Hollywood white writers and execs actually understand. I think they use one of those little translation devices you buy at the Sharper Image. That's how it sounds. But not on Weeds.
The greatest pleasure of this show is to see the amazing Elizabeth Perkins kick total ass playing Celia, a bitch on wheels who is actually not only extremely funny, but also sympathetic. She deserves all the Emmys (she got the nod for one). I've never really liked Mary-Louise Parker but she is funny and believable in the show (she tries to keep her huge collection of tics in check), and Kevin Nealon is a hoot. The kid who plays her youngest son is super talented and extremely funny and the acting overall is great. I'm glad to have found it now that my cable company saddled me with 700 cable channels I now have to pay for whether I like it or not. My cable company, RCN, sucks, but that is the subject of another lengthy post. Suffice it to say that I feel like I'm being gouged.

Is it me, or Entourage is sucking big time this season? Love Johnny Drama. Kevin Dillon is fantastic. More Emmys for him too. And I worship Rex Lee as Lloyd, Ari's long-suffering assistant. Many Emmys for Rex Lee. He rocks my world.

A word of caution about tequila

Stop messing with it! And by that I mean stop blaming it for the Jew-hating rants of a megalomaniac moron, and for scores of alcohol poisonings on Spring Breaks.
Tequila is and always has been the best drink on Earth. Nectar of the Gods. You just have to know how to imbibe it, you morons.
I have given this advice to anybody (and this is lots of people) who tell me they can't even smell it because when they were not of drinking age they guzzled it like beer and then blacked out or puked their guts out. Well, serves them right.
Tequila is not for shots that you ram down your throat with 7Up or Sprite or anything fizzy. Tequila you never, ever ram down your throat, period. Tequila you sip like a civilized human being, enjoying how smoothly it goes down your pipes and makes everything feel good after about five seconds. In Mexico we drink it as an aperitif, before a meal. You can also have lovely shots with a fresh sangrita chaser (tomato juice, lime, chili sauce, worcester sauce, salt and pepper) or with a beer chaser (best, but for pros) or with juicy, plump wedges of lime and salt. Or alone, because lately some tequilas are smooth enough you don't need anything to chase them with.
If you drink Cuervo Gold or Pancho Villa (in Europe, OMG) or some satanic rubbing alcohol called tequila that is not made from 100% agave, you will get a hangover from hell and you'll deserve it. Lately, the tequila marketers got smart and decided to start charging ridiculous prices. A puny shot anywhere in this town is now running 12 to 14 or even 16 bucks. BUT. Worth every penny my friends. You can't be cheap with this stuff, or you will suffer the consequences. Now, if they are charging such usurious amounts for an itsy bitsy shot, why can't they serve it right? In the correct long tequila shot glass called a caballito (little horse), not in a whisky shot glass or in a tumbler. This drives me crazy. And be generous with the limes. You can get good juicy limes from Mexico, so quarter them instead of handing out the anorexic, dried out slivers you get in bars here in NY.
If you must have a margarita, and if it must be (heresy of heresies) like a fucking slushie, please at least ask your bartender to use premium 100% agave tequila.
Margaritas are not pomegranate or strawberry or mango or lichi. They are not made in a machine that looks at home in a Seven Eleven and they should not be on the rocks either. Up and always with salt. That is a real margarita. Made with fresh squeezed lime juice and Triple Sec (Cointreau or Grand Marnier are permitted). I know I sound like a bitch about this, but there are standards. I do not understand people who have margaritas without salt. It's like pizza without cheese.
Patron Gold, Herradura Silver, Gran Centenario Plata: those are some of my favorites.
Tequila, when enjoyed smartly, will make you feel all is well with the world. When abused, you know the drill. It only gets along with beer. Not a good idea to mix it with wine or any other spirits, it is a jealous taskmaster and it has my undivided allegiance.

Monday, August 07, 2006

An army of everyone

Just for when the images of the destruction caused in Lebanon are associated with some kind of monstrous inhumane enemy that has no pity, I would like to remind people that the Israeli Army is compulsory for everybody in the population. The Israeli army is not an "Army of One" (excuse me, but I can't think of a less appealing slogan for an Army: you're on your own, pal, good luck in Iraq). Here in the States the Army is an institution where the poor voluntarily serve as cannon fodder in order to make a living. In Israel, after high school, every 18 year-old male has to go to the Army for 3 years, every 18 year-old woman for 2 years, unless the woman is already married. After their tour of duty, I believe there is a period of rest for a year and then every male who has served in the Army becomes a reservist, and needs to show up for duty one month a year every year until the age of 55. Israel being a country that has not really known peace since its birth, this means that the Israeli Army is an army of citizens who have most probably seen war in their lifetime.

Beware of Paranoid Freaks

"I'm not a vulgar opportunist", he says. One thing you can say about AMLO is that he is utterly transparent. You can take pretty much everything he says and the opposite will be true. He is not a vulgar opportunist, but a dangerous one. In his delirium, he is now portraying those who are not with him (not only the rich, but the sane), as conspirators in a big scheme to dethrone him.
He claims to defend democracy, while it seems that he seeks to undermine it with his bully tactics. Not accepting the results of what for everybody else seems to have been a fair election and not accepting the ruling by a legitimate independent election tribunal does not strike me as particularly democratic. But AMLO will easily manipulate the minds of the many downtrodden who have been discouraged by years, if not centuries of injustice. It is a pity that they can't tell what a nefarious character he is, how thoroughly undemocratic, how dogmatic and impractical, how irresponsible and inmature and unfit to be a leader. A small example, to wit:

Mr. López Obrador has also taken pains to discredit the news media, painting reporters as part of the conspiracy against him. One reporter, Heliodoro Cárdenas of the newspaper Milenio, was roughed up by bodyguards when he tried to ask the candidate a question on Sunday. Mr. López Obrador saw the incident but did not acknowledge or stop it.

Later Mr. López Obrador told the crowd that the media had decided to anoint Mr. Calderón. “Don’t worry about the lynching going on in the media, in which they talk badly about me and our movement,” he said.

This is the level of discourse. A regular George Bush Jr., when it comes to populist locutions. He is as ignorant as Bush but as machiavellian in his handling of spin as Karl Rove: an awful combo. Milenio is a left-friendly publication, as far as I understand, but in AMLO's mind even questions are out of the question. As Enrique Krauze points out, when almost seven hundred thousand Mexico City residents took to the streets to peacefully protest the horrid insecurity in the city, as the mayor he decided it was a conspiracy against him from the rightists and the federal government and from some of the media. He was contemptuous of the marchers, saying they were "pirruris", rich kids from the upper classes, completely insensitive to the fact that the poor are the worst victims of crime in Mexico City.
The man is of a puny dictatorial bent. I can only hope that those frustrated Mexicans who chose to hang on his every word soon tire of his tirades.
That the poor believe his crap is understandable. As for the pathetic leftist "intellectuals" who support him, it is inexcusable. But I wonder how many of them pay lip service to their anachronistic ideology while their life savings are safely squirreled away in U.S. banks abroad. I bet not a few.
Now, Felipe Calderon and the wealthy bastards who run Mexico would do well to pay attention to the people's frustrations. If one good thing could come out of this is that the poor are making themselves heard. Which means the few have to stop ignoring with their accustomed disdain the frustrations of the many. Otherwise, it's going to be AMLO six years from now.
Which brings me to this:
AMLO can still run for president for the next sexenio. He has plenty of time to start campaigning and to win cleanly and by a huge margin, if after this shameful debacle, there are still people who think he is fit to rule the country. Instead of creating chaos and paralysis, why doesn't he vow to come back, like a responsible politician?
Because he is a bully.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


The tribunal has ruled. There will be no full recount. AMLO will whine that they are bought and corrupt and all those lies, but the fact is that they took his complaints seriously and have issued a ruling. He needs to respect that. It is time for the Mexican government, which to this point has allowed him to do as he very well pleases, and possibly wisely so, to put an end to his shenanigans and enforce the law. What he is doing now is illegal and should he not stop, he should be arrested or at least charged. He cannot be allowed to disrupt the life of Mexico City and the entire country indefinetely and its time to apply some pressure on him to stop. I am not advocating violence but somebody needs to stand up to him and that would be the government. Where is the Senate, where is the President, where are the authorities in all this? The Mexican people expect them to control this man. It's time to do it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine

Because it got such good reviews, I thought I'd be disappointed, but actually I really enjoyed it and strongly recommend it. Little Miss Sunshine is a sweet, subversive little movie. It's about a family of heroic "losers" on their way to a mini-Miss America pageant. That the grandfather in the film is played by the inimitable Alan Arkin, who should delight us forever with his adorable crankiness, is a good indication that the heart of the movie is in the right place. Little Miss Sunshine is a road movie with a VW van that barely works, a father, wonderfully played in all his optimistic, pathetic obtuseness by Greg Kinnear, his long-suffering wife, Toni Collette, excellent as usual, the ever surprising Steve Carell as the suicidal world's number one Proust scholar, Paul Dano as a Nietzsche teen freak on a vow of silence and the lovely, talented child actor Abigail Breslin as the Little Miss Sunshine contender. The movie builds up to a magnificent finale of American grotesquerie that is biting and true and gleefully perverse. It is a conventional comedy about highly individual, unconventional people who triumph in all their flawed, vulnerable, weird glory. Very well written, wonderfully directed, very delightful and one of the best American movies I have seen this year (which is not saying much, but there you have it). The only other one I can think about is United 93.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

There is a mouse in my house

People, you do not understand what this means. It is a miracle that I have the presence of mind to be writing this as the consciousness of my most unwelcome guest pervades my every waking moment. You can rest assured I won't sleep all night.
There is a mouse in my house right now. Perhaps maybe a tiny little family of mice, living off and behind my back. Eating my crumbs, not paying rent. That I have not booked myself a room at Bellevue for the night is yet another miracle.
I know you are going to tell me that it is a fact of life to have mice at home in NY. Mice and roaches. Even the stray humongous rat, once in a while. Well not for me, it isn't. I have lived for fourteen years in this apartment and I'd like to believe it is totally pest-free.
Some years ago, when Mr. Ex-Enchilada was still here, I believe we saw a mouse. I almost slept in a hotel that night. A little dark lump darted past us and we never saw it again. It came from the guest room. The one today seems to have come from that direction as well. I wonder if it is the same one.
The mouse lives in the guest room. How very thoughtful of it.
Recently, I had a terrifying encounter with one roach which ended with me spraying a full can of insecticide under my stove, which is where I saw it come from. After several piercing screams worthy of a horror film, it took me what felt like three hours to dispose of the corpse. I believe that I thoroughly poisoned myself in the process and that all the food I cook has now a whiff of Raid, but you see, I cannot abide roaches and I cannot abide mice. OK?
So tonight I was eating a Twix bar, watching a Netflix movie, Fateless, a cheerful affair about the Holocaust (with hideous music by Ennio Morricone), and thinking it's so hard to be a Jew I'm sick of it already, when I saw a dark grey little lump dart into the room. I screamed as if I'd seen... a mouse.
The mouse heard me or saw me and hid in the closet. So I went for a broom with the intention of chasing it out of the house. I don't think I'd be capable of killing it with a broom. For that, I'd need a gun. A bazooka would do. I opened the doors of the closet and sure enough, it darted out of the room and into the living room, where I lost sight of it. Next, I went down to the pharmacy and bought a mouse trap that promises that I will not have to see the dead mouse or touch it. I am almost certain that this mouse trap will be useless. But I put some cheese in there, which by the time the mouse tastes it, it will be fondue because the air conditioned in the living room does not work.

Aunt Meryl

Yesterday I went to see The Devil Wears Prada because I tried for Little Miss Sunshine and it was sold out (GOOD FOR THEM!). Prada is an okay piece of fluff, but nothing to write home about, except for one thing and that is Meryl Streep.
She plays Miranda Priestley, who everybody knows is based on Anna Wintour, a creepy, skeletal being that sometimes roams the streets of the village looking like a ghoul with a wig and sunglasses three sizes bigger than her head. She looks like one of those aliens from Roswell, but with a tan.
La Streep doesn't look anything like Miss Wintour but her performance is a marvel. She sports a voice like half an octave lower than her usual and never ever raises it. She uses her beautiful, patrician nose almost like a weapon. That she says the most insulting things as if she was running out of breath only enhances her ruthless power. I was on the verge of thinking that the performance was kind of one note, when there was a dramatic scene where Miranda has a personal breakdown. She wears no makeup and is completely distraught. Well, she made me gasp in amazement. Meryl rules, rules, rules, rules and then she rules some more. Now, get ready to stand in line overnight to see her in Mother Courage and Her Children, which includes Uncle Chris Walken in it.
Last time they were together at the Delacorte it was for The Seagull, a splendid production directed by Mike Nichols. At the time, Mr. Ex-Enchilada and I wanted so much to see the play that we became members of the Public and paid like 500 bucks for assured seats and the privilege of not having to wait in line with the plebeians. For that price you also got to see four other abominable plays in the typical fashion of the Public, but for The Seagull, for Streep and Walken and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and especially for not having to boil like stew on the pavement of Lafayette St from the break of dawn, it was worth every penny.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Antisemites anonymous

Mel Gibson is so contrite about the horrid things he said about the Jews, he says:

"I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display," he said.

He conceded that he had offended the Jewish community and asked them to help him on his "journey through recovery".

You got to love the self-help terminology. Next thing we know he's going to be on Oprah, shedding tears of remorse and taking us through his journey to find out why he hates Jews so much, particularly since they've been so good to him in Hollywood (and he to them).
Could the reason be be a Holocaust-denying crackpot father? NAH...

If Mel is correct, maybe you can twelve-step out of your hatred of the Jews. It's a process! That's great news, because it means that there may be a cure for antisemitism. All the Jew haters, the millions of you, please sit in a magic circle, and try to understand why you waste so much time and energy and bile hating Jews. When you do, call us and we'll bottle the results and sell them in convenient on-the-go packaging. Together, we could make a killing.

As for Mel, I'd be happy to help him on his "journey through recovery". Perhaps we should convert him and give him a brand new bris.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crackpot week

What a week! And it's only Wednesday...
Mel has an antisemitic Meldown, Fidel threatens to bite the dust (not a moment too soon) and then decides not yet, AMLO threatens to fuck Mexico up even more than it already is, and today it was like 300 degrees in the shade in NY.
Mel Gibson is a crackpot, and so is Fidel and so is AMLO. A pox on all of them.

Had the Miami Cubans been in NY today, they would have blamed the heat on Fidel, because they blame him for everything. But they were busy dancing the rumba on the streets of Miami, getting a tad ahead of themselves, because they haven't heard that Fidel is never going to die. The man is so perverse, he is recovering already. Raining with his characteristic malice on the Miami parade,

Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he is in a stable condition and good spirits following surgery, according a statement read on Cuban TV.

"I feel perfectly fine," Mr Castro was quoted as saying.

This Cuba business is super exciting. One, because hopefully we are about to witness the demise of a megalomaniac tyrant who has turned that island into a giant brothel (just like it was in the times of Batista).

Two, because whatever happens in that banana republic is going to be fascinating, and let us hope, not too ridiculously violent or too violently ridiculous. All hell could break loose, or nothing could happen and that other Castro assume power and keep the dynasty and the anachronistic regime going and going and going like the Eveready Bunny. For communist revolutionaries, the Castros are rather like absolute monarchs, despots of the unenlightened kind. Their tyrannical sensibility, like their origins, is firmly rooted in the oligarchy they claim to despise. They are the same as their nemesis (nemesises, nemesi?), the ones who are in Miami, plotting their overthrow as we speak.

And three, because the world this week is so fucked up, that this is the first and only time I can say that I'm truly glad Fidel is upstaging everybody else (that includes Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, AMLO, the ugly guy who won the Tour de France, the evil heat, you name it).

Time to go, amigo! (and that goes for all the other crackpots as well).