Oui, C’est Bien ?a

Je crois que j’ai jamais commenc? un blog en Fran?ais. Donc voila, la premiere foi, m?me si vous ne comprenez pas. – Hugh inspired me with his blog opening in French, and therefore despite my poor spelling (in all my languages) I thought it would be a nice change of pace. Another change of pace is that I’m blogging from DeBalie, the electronically hip cultural space in Leidseplein, Amsterdam. I’ll sit here for hours, considering I just spent 5 euro of apple juice and pie. I see nothing wrong with eating both together, you can never overdo apple.

So before I go OLYMPic, I should first discuss the good governor’s resignation in my home state of New Jersey. First off, it’s true that I’m a bit out of the loop with New Jersey news. I spend so much time reading newspapers from all over the world, chatting with Blondebutbight, and trying to clean the white tiles of the kitchen floor, that I don’t notice much on the New Jersey font. Still I do know quite a bit about Jim McGreevey and I’ve always felt the last governor pretty much booby-trapped the job with budget troubles before he arrived. I guess it could also be, as the D-Rock has pointed out, that McGreevey has been surrounded by scandal since the start. My only thought about this whole thing is that he should not have resigned, at least not yet. I feel that this story will be remembered as “McGreevey announces he’s gay and resigns.” Thereby legitimizing being gay as a reason someone cannot hold office. A simple yet effective way to set civil rights back a decade or two. I would have much preferred that he announce he’s gay and stay in office, bearing the brunt of whatever charges or troubles loomed ahead.

Now lets go Greek. I confess… I watched more than two hours of he opening ceremony last night. I’ll confess even more- I liked it. Maybe its the google olympic logo that charmed me, but as critical as I am of the money spent and wasted on stadiums and silly stuff, I’m now digging these Olympic games. I learned all these fun facts about countries like Palau and Gabon, not to mention the enjoyment I got from the BCC announcers dry humor. Then this morning I was fascinated by Judo, Rowing, and Cycling. I was surprised to see Jan Ulrich biking in the olympics. And while I’m a former martial-arts instructor (YES I AM!) I’m still dumbfounded by the rules of Judo. Anyway I can’t wait to watch the other wacky events, especially TABLE TENNIS!

Today’s Music: Vinicious Cantuaria – self-titled

Search Engine Boogie

One quick photo sample of my vacation time More are available, as I put them up on my photoblog. (Yes I have a photoblog!)

I can smell the new semester in the air… its a bouquet of beer, paper, and perfume. But more importantly, there are new people milling around University buildings, and in the past few days I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a great new group of them – social scientists persuing Masters Degrees.

BlondeButBright allowed me to tag along with her and attend a party with the new crew. It was as if two years had melted away and we were once again starting a new semester. Well, I suppose we are, so that makes sense. The point is its nice to see Amsterdam towards the end of the summer, it’s a great transition time full of promise and other nostalgic crap.

While I was on my two week respite in Portugal, I obviously didn’t see or hear too much about the Democratic Convention. Well, I got enough really. But today I came across something that really captured my attention, Teresa Heinz Kerry’s speech. Overall, what a great speech, and seemingly, what a great person! I just watched the streaming video and the first 5 minutes of the speech are superb, not only should every first lady eat her heart out, but every president for the last 20 years should either take note or roll over in his grave, because no one has ever been as great a speaker as this woman. I’m not talking about accent, which I find a pleasure to hear anyway. I was more captivated by her calmness, frankness, and confidence. Basically the second she greeted the audience in Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and then greeted every immigrant in the country, I was sold!

And tonight, as I have done throughout this campaign I would like to speak to you from my heart. Y a todos los Hispanos, los Latinos; a tous les Americains, Francais et Canadiens; a tutti Italiani; a toda a familia Portugesa e Brazileria; to all my continental African family living in this country, and to all new Americans: I invite you to join our conversation, and together with us work towards the noblest purpose of all: a free, good, and democratic society.

If only we could just swap, she should be the candidate! (stupid electoral rules are a problem as well, I know)

BlogMaverick, otherwise known as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, being one of my most respected bloggers, was recently talking about his latest investment: www.icerocket.com . It is meant to be a challenge to Google, a more creative and feature-filled search engine. It’s only in the beggining stages, but already I like it alot. It provides info such as a thumbnail of the site, what number it rates with other engines, and interesting people searching tools. I commend his investment, I’m going to be a ice rocket user. Soon people will start saying, quick… “Ice Rocket” (as opposed to Google) Bicyclemark and see what his latest web projects are. Man, I can’t wait for the future!

Today’s Music: Bill Frisell – The Willies

Back in Black

First things first, I’m back in the driver seat of my bloggy, and I’d like to say thanks to my brother for being an interesting and active guestblogger. He has just started his own blog, which I’m proud to be the god-father of, and I’m adding to my blogroll. I like to think I’m like “Cheers” and he’s “Frasier.” (If you live somewhere where that cultural reference doesn’t work, basically its a spinoff)

I had a whole list of thoughts at different points during the tail-end of my voyage, and they’ve gotten all jumbled up since returning. So let me put them into lists right now.

Thoughts during my last day in Lisbon:

-It’s amazing how a country that doesn’t invest real money in its rail system, has an extensive and efficient bus network that would make greyhound blush.

-I love being the savior of all tourists, my own self-appointed public tourism service, you look lost with a map in your hand, I will stop and direct you.

– I must visit South Africa, because I’ve learned so much about it in the last 3 years.

– Apparently the best Arabic teachers are Egyptian or Syrian, everything else – according to my buddy at the Libyan Embassy – is too fast and sloppy for me.

Thoughts during my journey back to the ‘Dam:

– Air travel is the biggest hassle everywhere and some rules have no explanation at all.

– I hope my luggage is hanging out in the cargo bay with those cute Dutch girls’ luggage.

Schiphol airport is the most efficient and home-feeling airport I’ve ever known.

– Man I hate having luggage, I want to travel with just a plastic sack from now on.

But enough of these happy thoughts. The journey has ended, and shit is hitting the fan all over the world, as usual. One of my oldest journalist friends put me on to a horrendous situation at my one-time employer the Village Voice. It’s bad…. real bad. They are firing in the name of cost-cutting and organizational strategy changes. The list of casualties is astounding and I’m deeply disturbed: Richard Goldstein, Cynthia Cotts, Alisa Solomon… My most loved alternative paper has indeed become some obscure money-making rag. I will keep reading it, because quality journalism still goes on there, but the managing editors and corporate bosses have poisoned that place. Worst of all, I can’t find a peep about it with any of the Voice Media Papers, they’ve lost the power to be critical of their own paper. Talk about needing a revolution, I volunteer to fly back and help barricade the doors and take back the once glorious newsweekly. Maybe Norman Mailer and Jack Newfield can join.

Note to Self: Talk about BlogMaverick’s new project

Also thoughts on seeing Cry Freedom on TV

Today’s Music: Jimmy Eat World – Clarity (or as I call it, the sing-along album)

Was It All Bad Parenting?

” There is no such thing as right and wrong, there’ s just popular opinion.” – Twelve Monkeys

I’ld like to make a short observation about something I heard recently. The following line was uttered at my job “…it just figures that you let these people in this country and they take everything while the rest of us who have been here since the beginning don’t get anything…” . Stunned? Probably not. This is the kind of short sighted and bigoted nonsense we’ve come to expect in this country. I expect it to come from some ignorant, WASPish, son-of-a-bitch bread by some uneducated red-necks from ass fuck Tennessee. My surprise when I see the face of a woman of Black ancestry (I’m working on racial definitions using federal and state government guidelines. I’ll save that rant for another time.) . The first sentence that came to mind was, “You ignorant bitch. This country, nevermind this lovely little city you’ve settled in, was built around hard working immigrants. While your ever widening ass sits in an office bitching about how people are taking all your opportunities, the filing and typing you decided is below you is piling up you loud mouth hog.” The rage that builds in me when I hear this crap makes me want to spit. Breathe James… Breathe…..

On the news front, I didn’t even realize that Terry Nichols hadn’t been sentenced yet. For those that do not recall the Oklahoma City bombing, you’ll find a series of links with the article. I tried to wrap my mind around the concept of 161 life sentences. I haven’t developed a full opinion regarding capital punishment in this case (historically I am against it), but if he truly did this crime, and he states he did, how can you not end this man’s existence? One hundred and sixty one people dead by his actions. I shiver when I think of the children in the day care.

Speaking of children, this lovely article regarding youth violence in Japan grabbed my attention. Don’t make the instant judgment that Anime and the internet are to blame. Those of you that watch Cartoon Network, like I do, have seen Japanese Anime in its cutest form. You may also have seen some anime on G4Tech TV in its slightly grittier form. I am a fan of most anime and have seen movies that run up and down the violence gauge. I find this argument parallels a lot of what I hear regarding kids here in the states and television/video games industry. Many people wish to blame a variety of media for the problems and violence of our youth today. Let someone who works on the front lines clear things up… It’s not the media, it is the lack of parenting. When you park a child infront of a device to do what you don’t have the patience to do (namely educate your child), you are at the mercy of whatever image flies across the screen. When you don’t take an interest on wether your child is watching an educational program or Jerry Springer, it is your fault as a parent. If we stopped and looked at what was being done to our children, not by the media, but by we “responsible” parents, I believe we could all be taken to task for our failures.

And so comes the end of my time as your guest blogger. I hope you have enjoyed my baby induced ramblings. If you wish to continue sharing in my insanity, you will be able to find me on my blog, Foggy Recollections. You will excuse it’s very basic look as I’m still in development. Enjoy my brother’s view on the world, but remember… He lives in Amsterdam! The boy has got to be high sometime!

Today’s Music: Ok fine I listened to a Muppet Show CD most of the last 2 days. Back off man!

Man Ass or Simulated Sex…You Make the Call

“Just don’t forget our deal, Lois. I sit through this and later tonight I get anal. You hear me? No matter how neat I want the house you have to clean it.” – Peter Griffin on the Family Guy

I joined Netflix this week and, low-and-behold, my first three movies came in the mail. For me, this is a godsend. Since the birth of my little boy Alexander, Xander for short (unless your Mark then you call him A-Ren), going to the movies is no longer an option. At least now I can see films without having to take a 2 mile drive to Blockbuster with a cellphone to discuss with my wife which movie we want. I digress.

So in the mail I got Once Upon a Time in Mexico, The Whole Ten Yards, and The Cooler. I wrote before that I kind of enjoyed Once upon a Time, but only as a stand alone movie. I feel that it really moved away from El Mariachi and Desperado not only in the writing, but in the acting as well. If anyone here has watched all three, as I have, would you drop a comment. Something really just feels wrong with it and I cannot wrap my brain around it. The Whole Ten Yards was ok. Those that saw the first movie, and you had to have seen The Whole Nine Yards to understand most of the movie, you will probably shrug your shoulders and figure it was wasn’t too bad. Sort of a “blah” feeling going on. The Cooler was the best of the three. William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, and Maria Bello were amazing in their portrayals. I don’t even want to tell you too much about the movie. The premise is that Macy is a “cooler” in Las Vegas. His luck is so rotten that he is hired to play at tables where people are winning by the casino director, played by Baldwin, to stop their winning streaks. Bello plays a casino waitress that falls in love with Macy. The movie ends weird, but the performances more than make up for it. Great little rental folks.

You may be wondering what any of this was to do with my post title. Here it comes…

I sat down to watch The Cooler with my wife and mother-in-law. A few minutes in we’ve got a cursing tirade that would make a cab driver blush (only if he spoke English). Twenty minutes in we’ve got a very explicit sex scene between Bello and Macy (man ass, sim-sex, hands holding genitalia, watch it you’ll understand) and it wasn’t the last one mind you. I am squirming. So here comes my question. What needs to be in a film or TV show to make you uncomfortable around your parents, your in-laws, other family members, etc.? I can deal with cursing, but the second Macy is being mounted by Bello I’m shifting in my seat. I was amazed we made it through the whole movie. Am I just being weird? Bah….

Today’s Music: Tanya Donelly – Whiskey, Tango, Ghosts (I’ve got a thing for rock chicks)

Air Might Be Conditioned

Dripping… dripping sweat.. what a brilliant idea to make Lisbon bus-stops out of 100% clear glass. You’re waiting for the bus because it provides cooler scenery than the metro, and just via the act of waiting, you sweat profusely. Its hot.. dam hot… Africa hot.. “Tarzan couldn’t take this heat.” Several buses pull up at once, unfortunately most are the 1970 MAN model and rattle and cough as they wait for people to hop on. Like a gift from the heavens, one of the more modern Mercedes manufactured buses pulls up with the beautiful “Ar Condicionado” sign in the window. Get on that bus and the jokes on you.. in this case.. me. Sweating even more than before and forced to inhale the stink of my fellow passengers and the hot air pumping through the alleged air conditioning system. This is when Lisbon is just plain funny. Though at the moment, I had trouble laughing.

Relying mainly on British and French international TV news, I’ve been studying the situation in Darfur, Sudan carefully. Even careful study doesn’t make it any easier to understand. I keep asking myself how I want it handled, nevermind what the international community wants.

Basically I am in favor of intervention by a UN peace keeping force, led by the African Union. If this is not possible, I would accept it being led by France, since they are already present next door, in Chad. This force would act as a shield… an armed human shield with a mandate to do what is necessary to stop mass murder and genocide by either rebels or government forces. By force, I mean actual troops, and not the bombing or cruise missiling of Khartoum, which I would label the “Iraq method.”

Now the trouble with this case, is that both the Sudanese government and people seem dangerously opposed to any outsiders intervening, especially what they call the “west” . It seems possible that they would declare an all out war on any UN force that went in there… which would be terrible for both sides. And so I’m left asking myself once again, how would I handle this situation better? One thing for sure, something must be well thought out and done.

Obviously I’m ready to stop this vacation mode and get back to worrying about the world and Amsterdam life.

Today’s Music: Nina Simone – The Best of (found it in the apartment)