Friday, June 30, 2006

A sad occasion for a mea culpa

USA Today published a story today that says it cannot confirm a story first published May 11 which alleged that U.S. phone companies gave customers' records to the federal government as part of the war on terror.

Here's the note that USAT provided on its Web site to its readers.

On May 11, USA TODAY reported that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of several of America's leading telecommunications companies, had compiled a database of domestic phone call records in an effort to monitor terrorist activity.

Several days later, BellSouth and Verizon specifically denied that they were among the companies that had contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records.

The denial was unexpected. USA TODAY had spoken with BellSouth and Verizon for several weeks about the substance of the report. The day before the article was published, the reporter read the sections of the article concerning BellSouth and Verizon to representatives of the companies and asked for a denial before publication.

At the time, BellSouth did not deny participation in the program, but it issued a statement saying the company "does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any government agency without proper legal authority." Verizon said that it would not comment on national security matters and that it acts "in full compliance with the law" and with respect for customers' privacy.

On May 15, BellSouth said it could not categorically deny participation in the program until it had conducted a detailed investigation. BellSouth said that internal review concluded that the company did not contract with the NSA or turn over calling records.

USA TODAY continued to pursue details of the database, speaking with dozens of sources in the telecommunications, intelligence and legislative communities, including interviews with members of Congress who have been briefed by senior intelligence officials on the domestic calls program.

In the adjoining article, USA TODAY reports that five members of the congressional intelligence committees said they had been told in secret briefings that BellSouth did not turn over call records to the NSA, three lawmakers said they had been told that Verizon had not participated in the NSA database, and four said that Verizon's subsidiary MCI did turn over records to the NSA.

USA TODAY also spoke again with the sources who had originally provided information about the scope and contents of the domestic calls database. All said the published report accurately reflected their knowledge and understanding of the NSA program, but none could document a contractual relationship between BellSouth or Verizon and the NSA, or that the companies turned over bulk calling records to the NSA.

Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.

USA TODAY will continue to report on the contents and scope of the database as part of its ongoing coverage of national security and domestic surveillance.

While I'm encouraged to read that BellSouth and Verizon may not have supplied the records, I'm sad to hear that USAToday had to print this, b/c it opens the media to attacks. But at least they had the balls to print this and open their process up to scrutiny. Where's the fucking scrutiny of the PATENTLY LIED ABOUT WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION?

This couldn't have come at much of a worse time given the current maelstrom of controversy surrounding newspapers publishing the details of a classified program in which the federal government is monitoring some U.S. citizens' international banking transactions as part of the war on terror.

Fucking Congress voted to condemn the NYTimes for publishing a story about the banking program. That's a real valuable waste of time. The Los Angeles Times story about this quoted several experts who said that this program isn't that effective anyway. But I guess by the Bush standards of effective -- leaving Osama bin Laden at large nearly five years after 9/11 and flying in on jets for "mission accomplished" photo ops before Saddam was captured and before any semblance of new government was established, before any infrastructure was rebuilt -- this program, in which no one was purported to have been killed and there were no dictators to find was the most successful thing since illegal military tribunals.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fell in love today ...

... with the woman who was waiting online for the 10 p.m. Superman showing at the Culver Stadium 12. Actually both Dave and I saw soulmate potential in this one. About five feet tall, very cute, long brown hair with a little jazz to it. A bigtime comicbook superhero movie adaptation fan, who even tolerated her so-into-his-PSP-that-we-didn't-even-know-he-was-her-boyfriend boyfriend. She laughed at our jokes and was friendly without being someone who tries to be friendly, a little unlike the other random dude we talked to online tonight.

Btw, Superman Returns ... thumbs up. Highlight the below empty space to read a little more ...

Brandon Routh was surprisingly good as Superman, though a little weak as Clark Kent ... way too good-looking to pull off nerdiness. Kate Bosworth, despite being a bit miscast because of her age, was enchanting. When she was on the screen I honestly could hardly find a fault with anything. She's a dynamic actress who portrays an enduring steely strength even when at her most vulnerable. Kevin Spacey as Lex ... enh. Overall endgame plot was typically stupid, as in most comic book adaptations don't know how to do the endgame in a way that's real enough to take the jeopardy seriously or make you care about the consequences, save for Batman Begins and X2 and X3 and Sin City. In this case, Luthor was creating land ... oooohhhh, I'm shaking. The first act though was well-written. Frank Langella too over the top, though not as bad as JK Simmons's J. Jonah Jameson. Btw, cool how superheroes like to play reporter, eh? Even Veronica Mars does that! Special effects were solid, if not spectacular. But there wasn't a single ohmigawd that's awful shot and the flying was fantastic, esp. the flying dance with Lois. X-Ray vision cam was also wickedcool. If Singer stays on with the franchise, then Supe 2 should be amazing if he follows his X-Men pattern. One more thing, though Dave disagrees, I thought the music was not so great. Singer failed to really blow my hair back with the theme and in other spots the music was conspicuously in the way. For shame, the music to Superman is right behind Star Wars and for me, ahead of the Godfather, in terms of iconic scoring. Nevertheless, it was much better than Jurassic Park.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Free speech lives on (albeit precariously) in the United States

The anti-flag burning amendment died in the Senate today by one vote. Fourteen Democrats voted to trample on the right to free expression, while three Republicans broke ranks and decided that the abstract concept of liberty is way more important than a piece of cloth sewn into a gawdy pattern.

Btw, Hillary Clinton, voting against the proposed amendment but co-sponsoring legislation to criminalize flag-burning does NOT make you a champion of free speech. Same with you Robert Bennett, R-Utah. I appreciate that without your two votes this thing would move on in the not-too-distant future for ratification by the 38 states, but still ...

Kill me now

Earlier today I read the Star-Jones-is-leaving-The-View story on, and to prove that I'm not saying this just to be "funny" let me just say that I hope Rosie O'Donnell chokes on her spoon.

Help me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Moving through spacetime

I can hear and feel the sharp whisper of a cold summer wind blowing through my window.

Why I love the Los Angeles Times (today)

Amazing paper on Sunday:

First off the paper led with the first, best comprehensive survey (at least performed by American media) of civilian deaths in Iraq since the war began. The paper's total, which was was based on statistics provided by morgues and the Health Ministry, was more than 50,000. And all sources said that figure was likely a significant (my word) underestimation. Sadly (once again showing how the U.S. government has few ideals) the Bush administration repeated its pat dodge saying it doesn't care to track civilian deaths. And I refuse to use the word "casualty," because there's no way I am allowing fucking military jargon to impersonate a human who was killed in an unlawful war. (Not that there's a lawful war, per se, but I was OK with invading Afghanistan post 9/11.) Btw, it's no surprise that the U.S. government doesn't give much of a shit about the death toll of Iraqis—federal officials refused to acknowledge any significance when the death toll reached 2,00o U.S. troops. Ostensibly that was because they didn't want to make any one solider's death more significant than any others, which is a laudable goal. But the lack of attention paid to every soldier's death--media shut out from the services, even when family wouldn't be OK with a reporter's presence; coverups as to causes (Pat Tillman)--makes their argument ring hollower than the space between Bush's ears.

Secondly, Times Staff Writer Robert Lee Hotz, published an amazing piece showing how global warming is melting the glaciers on the ironically named Greenland. Here's the link ... If you don't believe in global warming at this point, please read this and also wake up. It's happening. It's going to affect you in your lifetime and in no way is it good.

The newspaper also reported a story that scared me. According to a story inside the paper, the Senate is teetering on passing an amendment that would outlaw flag burning. And once again, Sen. Hillary Clinton is NOT helping the liberal cause. Clinton, who has gone on record opposing such an amendment, has meanwhile co-sponsored a bill that would make flag burning or other flag desecration illegal using legislative means.

I just don't understand how 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes, 50 white stars and a blue rectangle can be more important than freedom of thought. SOMEONE PLEASE FUCKING EXPLAIN THAT TO ME, FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!!!!! Why is it that an object is allowed to become a more important than the ideal which the object symbolizes. I honestly feel like getting a tattoo of a burning American flag. It's not that I don't love my country, in fact it's that I feel like I love the United States more so than most flag-protectors. I love being able to criticize that which I don't agree with, to blog about the fact we have the worst President ever, to have access to the Internet to make people aware that our Government is keeping track of whether you read the e-mails I send you warning that the Government is keeping track of your life through phone records, financial transactions, library records, travel records all in the name of making you feel safer.

After all, who better to trust with all the secrets you didn't even know you had than the guys who went to war over weapons they most likely knew didn't exist, who outed a covert operative out of revenge, kept reading a children's book while the World Trade Centers were burning, can't speak a coherent thought, thinks a Top Gun photo Op after a couple weeks of fighting means a victory in war, and appearing with no tie under Kleig lights after a hurricane is better leadership than evacuating, and who is so smart that he complimented the most inept and unqualified federal bureaucrat in the history of history with doing a heckuva job while people were dying of dehydration. ...

... Sorry to rant, but it's been a while since the blog has been political and my blood has been boiling this time, in spite of the blogsilence about domestic and foreign affairs.

Happy Monday

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The best city ever

Since I've moved to Los Angeles ...

I've rocked and cried to Rilo Kiley (and heard/seen Jenny perform Lost in Your Eyes with Debbie Gibson) ... seen Lost in Translation, Spellbound, Return of the King, X-2 (at a screening and also Revenge of the Sith), School of Rock, ... seen Corey Feldman and Keanu Reeves ... met Rachael Yamagata, ... finally fucking understood that X-Large T-shirts shouldn't be worn by guys who are 5-feet-4, ... learned a fuckofalot about art and design and music and myself from Amy M, ... added "ride a furry tractor" to my Life to-do list, ... made some new best friends, learned to admit how much I cry and that I've been very confused about my identity, ... gotten back into comic books, ... eaten Ethiopian food, ... met legitimately great future writers in the best job ever, ... had my picture surreptitiously taken while lying on the floor in work clothes, ... Clapped my hands and said "Yeah," ... been on a ship larger than the Titanic, ... learned to appreciate Albany beer, ... encountered cloned animals, ... had my mind captivated by a 26-year-old teenage detective, ... seen my best friend marry the best gal ever, ... become a REAL hockey fan, ... ranked my favorite television seasons of all time, ... lowered my standards in life so that when I noticed the flaw in Ocean's 11 I realized I didn't care that much, ... almost freaked out when it appeared that a high school classmate of mine might do gratuitous nudity in a real Z-grade movie, ... started to evolve from a white suburban kid into the guy who has stared back at me in the mirror for the last 30 (motherfucking) years, ... joined the cult of Trader Joe's, ... Killed Bill, ... gone to the Center of the Earth and back, ... Pulled Shapes, ... killed my Myspace, ... actually won in Vegas, ... figured out where Snape's loyalties truly lie, ... and seen most of the best concerts of my life.

Fuck smog, this city rules.

Yeah, this entry is sorta kinda sappy and stabbing at life-assesment, but I guess drinking half a bottle of Shiraz and watching Lost in Translation will do that to ya, eh?

What can I say, I love L.A., though I'm not a big fan of that Randy Newman song.

I just heard a weird noise from my front door, which is really bizarro since no one's here right now, but me. (aside over).

Happy weekend,


(list amended Sunday morning 11:45 PDT)

Friday, June 23, 2006

What does the world think?

This is today's must-link of the day ...

This gatekeeper site connects to blogs from around the world, many in English to help idiots like me who never bothered to really learn a foreign language. Ordering beer in Mexico or German doesn't count.

My iTunes wishlist today

Guilt, nostalgia, whimsy, worship of the sublime, rolling around and slathering myself in cheesewhiz ... that's probably the best description of everything I feel when I read these. More to come on each individual song. Some may have seen an e-mail from me that says there are 97 entries on the wishlist. That's technically true, because the wishlist in my iTunes contains all five movements of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite and also a bunch of songs from the movie version of RENT and other songs from entire albums that I want to get, which are technically just reminders in my iTunes wishlist, and are therefore not songs I ever intend to purchase individually on iTunes.

Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In — The 5th Dimension
Hands Clean (Acoustic) — Alanis Morissette
Life On Mars? (Live at Fashion Rocks) — Arcade Fire & David Bowie
Mandy — Barry Manilow
I Write the Songs — Barry Manilow
Copacabana (At the Copa) — Barry Manilow
Firebird Suite — BBC Symphony Orchestra & Pierre Boulez
Heaven Is a Place On Earth — Belinda Carlisle
Do Me! — Bell Biv DeVoe
Take My Breath Away — Berlin
She's Always a Woman — Billy Joel
Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town — Bruce Springsteen
Respect Yourself — Bruce Willis
Turn! Turn! Turn! — The Byrds
Too Many Walls — Cathy Dennis
Surrender — Cheap Trick
The Flame — Cheap Trick
(I Just) Died in Your Arms — Cutting Crew
The Professor (Live) — Damien Rice
Tom's Diner — DNA & Suzanne Vega
September — Earth, Wind & Fire
An Old Familiar Scene — Elf Power, Back to the Web
The Way You Look Tonight — Ella Fitzgerald
Sweet and Lowdown — George Gershwin
Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone) — Glass Tiger
Slide — Goo Goo Dolls
All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You — Heart
Such Great Heights — Iron & Wine
The Way You Look Tonight — James Darren
Insensitive — Jann Arden
Stardust — John Coltrane
Don't Stop Believin' — Journey
Dam — Kasey Chambers
There She Goes — The La's
Something About You — Level 42
Say You, Say Me — Lionel Richie
All I Want for Christmas Is You — Mariah Carey
I'll Be There — Mariah Carey & Trey Lorenz
Greed for Your Love (Live) — Missy Higgins
Scar (Live) — Missy Higgins
The Special Two (Live) — Missy Higgins
Greed for Your Love — Missy Higgins
Dancing Dirt Into the Snow — Missy Higgins
The Cactus That Found the Beat — Missy Higgins
Hold Me Tight (Non-Album Track) — Missy Higgins
Drop the Mirror — Missy Higgins
Blind Winter — Missy Higgins
You Just Like Me 'Cause I'm Good In Bed — Missy Higgins
This Is How We Do It — Montell Jordan
Rolling Stone — Neko Case
Hot in Herre — Nelly
Marriage of Figaro: Overture — Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Dead Man's Party — Oingo Boingo
Not for You — Pearl Jam
Better Man — Pearl Jam
Such Great Heights — The Postal Service
Be Be Your Love — Rachael Yamagata
Jesus Was a Crossmaker — Rachael Yamagata
I Wish You Love — Rachael Yamagata
Be Be Your Love — Rachael Yamagata
Can't Fight This Feeling — REO Speedwagon
SOS (Edited) — Rihanna
All Coming Back — Sarah Blasko
Someone to Watch Over Me — Sarah Vaughan
Broken (Featuring Amy Lee) — Seether & Amy Lee
We Will Become Silhouettes — The Shins
Kiss Me — Sixpence None The Richer
Cruisin' — Smokey Robinson
Tempted — Squeeze
Particle Man — They Might Be Giants
It's a Shame — Tift Merritt
Total Eclipse of the Heart — Tori Amos
Freedom — Twelve Girls Band
Yeah! — Usher featuring Lil' Jon & Ludacris
American Music — Violent Femmes
Dance Hall Days — Wang Chung
Afternoon Delight — Will Ferrell
Hold On — Wilson Phillips
Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead —XTC

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fear and loathing of success?

So Allan Muir, lead hockey writer for, has predicted that the Buffalo Sabres will win the Stanley Cup in 2007. He thinks that we'll build on our success this year—we reached the Eastern Conference finals this year (and I'm aware that I used "we")—and given our youth and likelihood of at least keeping our most important players we'll be the faves.

I should be happy and proud, especially given that much of the post season I bitched and moaned about a lack of respect as opposing players, fans and writers from out-of-town newspapers claimed to have played better than the Sabres even when they lost. But now that we have some respect I find myself almost mortified. As much as I railed at Scott and Jon not to be Buffalo sports fans and to have faith-a faith-a faith-a, suddenly I'm THE Buffalo sports fan. DAMMIT.


In other news, I've discovered a great new band (thanks to pitchfork), The Pipettes. They are without a doubt the most fun-sounding band of 2006. And it's late and I'm exhausted hence the really amazingly written sentence describing this trio of young women from across the pond who blend melodies, upbeat rhythms and sass to create a defy-you-not-to-listen-and-move sound. Check 'em out at and listen to "Pull Shapes."

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Buffalo food rundown

Tuesday dinner: Ted's

Two hot dogs with cheese, hot sauce and extra onions. Hot, melty yellow goo with a cheddarish flavor atop bork (that's beef + pork) in a skin of edible plastic, smothered in spicy red sauce and mixed with a glacier of deathbreath-producing white onions. MMMMMM.

Wednesday lunch: John's

Footlong Chicken Finger Sub—medium spiciness for the fingers, tomatoes, bleu cheese, mayo, on a white bread sub roll and provolone cheese. They did this one just right with the cheese just melting, but not running, and I'd always recommend asking for just a dab of bleu cheese. It's ridiculously simple, yet entirely too rare. Like most music snobs, part of me is saddened when my fave indie band breaks big and I know I'd sorta feel like that if my fave Buffalo foodstuffs (is that not the best word evUH?) went national. But at the same time, I should be able to eat one of these things more than two to three times a fucking year!! [and i've tried making them, they're soooo NOT the same.]

Wednesday dinner: Pizza Plant

Pod with eggplant, red onion, black olives, mozarella and tomato sauce. I think my fave thing about the Pod is the eat-it-with-your-hands quality or the it's so clean when it's finished. The Pod is essentially a calzone, and yet another foodstuff that they just don't quite pull off in California. Then again, Los Angeles can't even make a decent slice of pizza save for a few spots. So I suppose something more authentically East Coast Italian has no shot in hell.

Thursday dinner: Out at Hogan's Hideaway

Dinner was just a four-inch tall turkey club. But dinner began with a Genny Light. I've never felt so gloriously trashy.

Friday dinner: John's

Just some basic pizza and wings. Is it so hard to flatten some dough into a circle, cover it with tomato-based sauce and mozarella cheese and then bake that for like 15 minutes? Is it? IS IT? Not the best wings in town, but solid. Very solid.

Monday lunch: John's

Steak and ring sub. It's pretty basic, just like it sounds. Thin slices of steak grilled then covered with warmed, just melting mozarealla cheese, tomatoes, mayonaisse and of course deepfried onion rings on a tomato basil sub roll. The biggest flaw here is that often the onion ring's structural integrity fails and you end up slurping an onion string through your lips leaving large portions of the sub, sadly onion free. This is another of the places specialties. It's horrible for you, I could even feel my arteries hardening. But oh so tastey to eat cow again. Well, not really, but I know that if I lived in this area code I'd still be eating mammals regularly instead of just once a year.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is it better to be small when traveling?

I'm 5'4" about 140-145, which often serves as a great advantage when I want to fly ... my legs aren't nearly as constrained by the seat back in front of me and I think I'm quite able to be very considerate of my fellow passengers next to me.

But my last flight has me wondering it'd be better if I was larger because perhaps people wouldn't feel so self-righteous in taking advantage of me ...

My 11p.m. flight from Los Angeles to New York—JFK sucked. I got stuck next to this large-ish dude, who was incredibly inconsiderate. as it was he had problems being "confined" to the dimensions of his seat—he wasn't HUGE, but just big enough, ya know? He's sitting middle, and I'm window and his daughter is sitting aisle.

Well, the first thing I notice is that he's not that considerate as he gently elbows me, while he's shifting around, and doesn't apologize. not a giant problem at this point, but ya know, when one's about to take a Red Eye, this isn't the best of signs. then I notice that he's also got Old Man breath ... yikes!

He falls asleep pretty quickly, and he's just barely spilling over into my seat area. not a big whoop, but still ...

Well, a little while later he shifts wakes up and shifts his weight and turns his legs to lean toward me (not his daughter for some reason) and I've got one of his fat legs entirely in my legroom and one of his fat arms draped over the arm rest into my space. I'm am pressing myself against the cabin wall. At this point, I don't give a shit if I bump him while using the DVD player on my computer or if my computer is "too bright." (Not that I really cared about that before.)

After watching the final three episodes of Season 1 of Veronica Mars, I decide that I want to get some sleep but given that I have about 2/3 of a seat on this 757, I am kinda um shall we say unsuccessful. Well, it's not that late for a vampire like me, so I plug in my iPod and it's not that big a deal ...

... Until he decides to wake up and take off his suit jacket, which he had inexplicably been wearing the entire time. This time he clocks me in the head with his elbow—not hard, but hard enough to expect a pretty strong apology that oh, btw, never fucking came. Then he stretches by doing arm circles that poison the air with his armpit odor. YAY!!!!!!

At least he shifts his weight again so I've got more of MY OWN leg room again, but his arm stays draped and I stay screwed. For fuck's sake!!!!!

Ultimately I got about 15 minutes sleep from 11 p.m. PDT until 6:45 a.m. PDT. I did manage to fall asleep almost immediately on my flight from JFK to Buffalo and accumulated a grand totaly of about 40 minutes from Los Angeles to Buffalo, by which it was 8:30 a.m. PDT. I sacked out for a good two-plus hours upon getting to my parents' house.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Best weirdest dream ever

best dream ever: bum rush president, token gay guy best friend suppporter TV interview set up with someone. lucky souvenir penny. sprint PCS/Nextel store shirt. really expensive camcorder, violence in store. Vegas. dead moth. shrinker into the display. raw meat. contest to get tour from President, who is trying to chide me. Spanish 21 with Rich, Rick Pizzo. Dealer who defends me, very nice woman who gets fucked over by boss. Bouncing President's head off displays in rage of commie vengeance. Expect to be disappeared. don't remember enough, and I'm trying Ringo, note the time.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Age or taste?

So my neighbors are playing their stereo just loud enough to bump the bass into my bedroom so that it's noticeable (read annoying) even when listening to my own stereo at volume 6 (mine goes up to like 30). The best part is that the music fucking sucks and I have to go to work tomorrow morning and since it's just 11:16 p.m. this could be going on for a good hour. I love it. I love it. I love it. Did I mention that I love it? I am fucking old.

Blogging will come back more regularly next week probably when My So-Cal'd Life becomes Real World 716.

Do they ever stop the presses?

Most of my friends, I think, have asked me that question when they find out that I've worked at a daily newspaer ... well ask, and an answer receive shall you.

This is from today (6.9.06) regarding the newspaper coverage of the killing of al-Zarqawi ...

The Los Angeles Times, which actually stopped its presses early yesterday morning and caught the news in some of its papers, also leads with Zarqawi but focuses a bit more on the follow-up.

More soon

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What's worse than legislated "morality?"

Alabama voters passed a ban on gay marriage by a 4-to-1 ratio Tuesday, joining voters in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah. The measure passed in those states in 2004.

It's times like this that I get scared of the power that democracy vests in the citizenry. Some times a vote just shows that the majority is a bunch of discriminatory oppressors.

More tomorrow, I hope.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


It's hot. I hate it. I do not expect to sleep well tonight.

Must remember to hydrate, especially when inline skating for more than 20 miles in 85+ degree weather.

Cramps bad.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

double bubble tempting fate

Go Sabres!!

And the bird ain't singing tonight ...

Go Sabres!!