h o m e 't o o n s w o r d s c a m s t u f f r a d i o   f r e e   d o g p a t c h

daily dog archives 2004 2003 2002

By Patrick O'Grady
Mad Dog Media

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The parting glass
Of all the money ever I had I've spent it in good company
And all the harm I've ever done alas it was to none but me
And all I've done for want of wit to memory now I can't recall
So fill to me the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all

  Happy New Year to you and yours. A toast to better things in 2006. Slainte.

Shannon's bouncing baby iPod, nursing off the iBook.

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Snot dead yet

  The mighty torrent of mucus that has characterized my existence for the past few days has diminished to a mere trickle. I had to break out the heavy weapons, though. First, I softened the enemy up with a barrage of Bushmills-based hot toddies, with lemon, honey and cinnamon, and then I dropped The Big One — a huge bowl of green chile stew made with my last three cups of Española chiles, six cups of chicken broth, garlic, and plenty of diced spuds, onions and turkey stripped from the carcass of Christmas dinner past. Before I was halfway to the bottom of the bowl I was sweating like one of Jack Abramoff's bitches; a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime later, I was as unconscious as the red-state electorate, logging my first decent night of shuteye in a week. And today, I almost feel well enough to resume my normal routine — crimes against journalism, desultory exercise, and tracking the neighbors' movements through the peep sight of my Ruger Mini Thirty.

  Speaking of movements, we're still hunting missing Christmas gifts here in Dogpatch. Herself's iPod, ordered Dec. 11 from PowerMax, finally showed up at 8:37 p.m. on Dec. 27, having been shipped UPS Ground instead of the agreed-upon Second Day Air. Naturally, the iPod arrived without its companion Altec Lansing speakers-slash-docking station, which apparently was shipped to the NSA for installation of various "upgrades," free of charge. It may show up in time for next Christmas, which means I've already got my shopping done. I am nothing if not a model of ruthless efficiency.

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And now, the good news

  While I sprawl here in a nest of gooey Kleenex, using a Shop-Vac to hoover the toxic tapioca out of my snotlocker, I present a little light reading from the Knight Ridder Washington bureau to brighten your day:

  I've been brightening my own little corner of The Homeland by re-reading "It Can't Happen Here," by Sinclair Lewis. My battered Dell paperback dates to 1961 (yeah, I'm a geezer), but you can get a new one from Amazon.com, if you want to get a look at 2005 from the vantage point of 1935.

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  Santa's Visitation of Plagues continues unabated. Now a ruthless cold has me by the brain stem via the snotlocker with a downhill pull. I'm full of Sudafed, aspirin and hot tea and feel dumb enough for a Cabinet post. Despite my weakened condition I recalled a homespun cold remedy recommended by Jim Harrison in "Wolf":

First a quart of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, then a half gallon of lukewarm water to further cleanse the system. After two hours' rest in a dark room broil a two- to three-pound porterhouse rare and eat it with your hands with no salt. After this with your stomach swollen, distended, an extremely hot bath in the dark in which you slowly sip the best bourbon you can afford, at least a fifth, until the bottle is empty. This might take four hours depending upon your capacity. Then you sleep for twenty-four hours and when you awake the world will be new and you won't have a cold. Some people with weak systems will have hangovers but that is not my fault. I'm not a doctor. Go to your own doctor. You can go through this whole process even if you don't have a cold and it's equally pleasurable.

  I tried this last night. Sort of. I skipped the juice and water, ate a bowl of buffalo-and-sausage chili instead of the porterhouse, gave the bath a miss, and replaced the bourbon with a half-pint of Herradura Añejo. Didn't work. Tonight I'll try a bowl of green chile turkey stew, the bath and a series of Bushmills hot toddies. Or maybe I'll just take the Shop-Vac to my snoot.

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Ho, ho, ho, yourself, funny guy

  Well, Santa got me back in spades for yesterday's droll little post. The present I ordered up for She Who Must Be Obeyed — an iPod with a speakers-slash-docking station from Altec Lansing — never made it from PowerMax in Oregon to DogPatch in Colorado. Neither did a couple of lesser gifts intended for me. So we spent our Christmas huddled grimly around the brazier, burning the coal and switches from our stockings, which were hung by the rubber tree with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas, the evil sonofabitch, soon would be there. That's probably my old lady's iPod that Dick Cheney's using to download his marching orders from Satan.

  Obsessive conspiracy theorist that I am, I've been trying to deduce just what the hell happened to Herself's iPod, and the best I've been able to come up with is this: I ordered online, on Dec. 11; my salesperson sent a confirmation of the order on Dec. 12, then apparently quit his job without processing said order, so it didn't ship until after I called PowerMax on the 20th to inquire what the fuck? The salesperson I spoke with promised to process and ship the order second-day UPS. It left Oregon on the 21st, hit Bibleburg just after midnight on the 23rd, and went out for delivery at 8:25 a.m.

  Thing is, I didn't know any of this 'cause PowerMax never e-mailed me a UPS tracking number. And when I called on the 23rd to inquire WHAT THE FUCK? (in all caps this time), it seemed they were closed in order for their employees to enjoy the holiday. Ho ho ho, mofo. So out I go into the retail wilderness, in search of something to stuff under the tree so as to not get my nuts cut off. In my absence, I suspect The Brown Truck Dude tried to deliver the MacGift, the same way the phone never rings until you sit down on the crapper with a nice thick book.

  Ah hah, you interject, but The Brown Truck Dude should have left a UPS InfoNotice on your door, "to let you know that a package delivery or pickup was attempted (and which) contains information to help you complete the delivery or pickup." Not so fast, Sherlock. This was Friday, you will recall, and since second-day delivery does not include Saturdays, not even during the holiday season, and since UPS would be closed on Christmas and the day after, what would be the point in leaving an InfoNotice? But it would have been nice to at least get a scribbled note saying, "Your nuts are history. Best to the wife."

  The irony was reading a glowing story in the Gazette on Christmas Day about how The Brown Truck Dude is some sort of double Santa Claus with sugar-cookie clusters, working from can-see to can't-see every Christmas Eve to make sure all the good little boys and girls get their presents. Layering irony atop irony, the dude they wrote up even works our ZIP code. He's a part-timer. Maybe he never made it here at all. Maybe if the Gazette hadn't been bending his ear he'd have been over here laying some Christmas cheer on us. Shit, maybe he's got the iPod. You think The Brown Truck Dude is really Dick Cheney?

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Ho, ho, ho

  Today is the day when we celebrate the birth of our lord and savior, Santa Claus, who rose from humble beginnings as a simple North Pole toymaker to become Commander-in-Chief in the War on Christmas.

  The words of our national anthem ("He's making a list and checking it twice/Gonna find out who's naughty and nice") have never rung truer than they do today. While a sizable number of Santa's elves, most of them Chinese, continue to work 24/7 assembling Xbox 360s, iPods and plasma-screen TVs, many more are hard at work tapping phones, intercepting e-mails and opening letters, under a double-secret Christmas-security directive from Santa.

  This directive, which is reviewed every 45 days by the Merry Old Elf-in-Chief himself, is consonant with the HOHOHO Act, the congressional resolution authorizing Santa's use of force in the War on Christmas, and Article XII of the "The Night Before Christmas" ("A wink of his eye and a twist of his head/Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread"). Thus, the virtuous have nothing to fear. Elves engaged in data-mining target only bad boys and girls living in the Blue States, enclaves of happy-holidayists which Santa has declared a no-fly zone on Christmas Eve.

  Other restrictions apply in this most dire period in Christmas history:

  And finally, Merry Christmas to all, and to all — up against the wall and spread 'em. What's this, buddy, an ACLU card? Hey, Heinrich, we got Condition Blue here! What's the matter with you, pal — don't you know there's a war on?

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Io, Saturnalia!

  OK, the Busheviks have been taking shots to the eggs here, here and here. Three shots for two eggs may seem like overkill, but I say kick the bastards until you pull a hamstring, then get a cortisone shot and some Advil and keep on kicking, 'cause this outfit has bigger balls than any administration since Nixon and then some.

The Noo Bloo Voodoo Wazoo
(click to enlarge)

  Still, given the bruising the Cheerleader-in-Chief's cojones have taken in recent days, I felt comfortable in taking a break from Bush-bashing to finish building another 'cross bike. Issac Asimov used to keep three typewriters on hand in case one failed him, and I like to keep three 'cross bikes around in case I might actually have to clean, maintain and/or repair one, which might cut into my cocktail hour.

  The most recent addition to the stable is the Noo Bloo Voodoo Wazoo, a Reynolds 853 weirdo that sports some really nice bits (Alpha Q carbon fork, Chris King headset and Dura-Ace wheels) and some elderly technology from the gack box (an old XT crankset so I can run 48/36 rings, eight-speed Shimano 600 drivetrain with bar-end shifters and 600 aero levers, and Avid cantis from, shit, 1995? They're so old I don't remember. But at least they have new Kool-Stop pads). Haven't had it on a scale yet, but I suspect it's the lightest bike in the bunch. The top tube is a centimeter shorter than my Eurocrosses, and the stem sits a tad higher, so I've a nice upright position on this rascal, which is nice when you're riding something that says "Voodoo" in a town full of Bible-thumpers. You want to be able to see 'em coming.

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Sock it to ... me?

  "Why are we even concerned about the Patriot Act when the administration says, 'We can do whatever we want'? The whole debate seems like mere pretense. " That's Dan Recht, a Denver lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues, quoted in a Diane Carman column on The Denver Post website. It all sounds very familiar to political cartoonist Pat Oliphant. And to me and a few other people, too. Maybe that's why senators from both sides of the aisle are getting their boxers in a bunch over this notion Dubya has about the CINC being able to act as a dictator in time of war, even bringing the legions into Rome if need be. Check out what Kevin Drum has to say on this topic:

If you count only serious hot wars, the United States has been at war for over 20 of the 65 years since 1940. That's a lot of "wartime."

However, if you count the Cold War, as conservatives generally think we should, the tally shoots up to about 50 years of war. That means the United States has been almost continuously at war during the past 65 years ‹ and given the nature of the War on Terror, we'll continue to be at war for the next several decades.

If this is how we define "wartime," it means that in the century from 1940 to 2040 the president will have had emergency wartime powers for virtually the entire time. But does that make sense? Is anyone really comfortable with the idea that three decades from now the president of the United States will have had wartime executive powers for nearly a continuous century?

Somehow we need to come to grips with this.

  And soon, Bubba. Soon. Either that or we all may find ourselves being "asked" to sign something like this.

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The rule of a lawbreaker

  OK, I confess, I forced myself to watch The Leader's press conference this morning. Not quite as bad as being waterboarded, but there was a definite sense of being smothered. In bullshit, not water. "I am doing what you expect me to do," he said, and boy, was he ever. It was an hour of rambling jabber full of lies, distortions, talking points and questions either dodged or left unanswered. When asked why he broke the law by dodging the FISA court in setting the FSA to spying at home, this crook instead attacked the stoolie who ratted him out, calling the leak "a shameful act" and dove straight back into his stock jihadists-under-the-bed speech. Asked once again what was his biggest mistake and what had he learned from it, he stammered, babbled and once again did not answer the question. Once again, he suggested that critics are traitors. And he argued, in front of the White House press corps and anyone within eyeshot of a TV, that Article 2 of the Constitution and the congressional resolution authorizing his Iraq adventure give him the power to do whatever he likes, as long as he decides, in his capacity as Commander in Chief, that it serves "the war on Terra." The basic message was, "Trust me." No, thank you. Enough is enough. This petulant, stammering stumblebum thinks he is a double Alexander the Great, with papal overtones. He and his cronies are more dangerous to America than the terrorists are. It's time to impeach the sonofabitch, and Cheney too.

The back yard
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2005, by George Orwell Bush

  This just in from the Ministry of Truth: War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. That is all. Dismiss.

* * *

  Fourteen degrees. Four with wind chill factored in. Snow. What's a fat bastard supposed to do for exercise around here? Go for a bike ride, of course. I couldn't face another run — it's not even officially winter yet, f'chrissakes, and it seems like I'm running all the damn time — so I dragged out the mountain bike and went for a spin.

  Ho, boy, was that ever smart. "It's not that bad out," I thought as I rode cautiously through the snow toward Monument Valley Park. It's not that bad on a stick. As soon as I hit the park and turned south, into the wind, I had to stop and pull my balaclava up over my lower face, leaving only the snotlocker exposed. Woo hoo.

  I did a few laps, trying to (a) stay out of the wind and (b) remember where all the ice was before the snow covered it up, and it actually began to feel a whole lot like fun, except for the freezing-your-face-off part. The mountain bike has some burly rubber, great big Panaracer Whatevers with fat square knobs like a Vittoria Mastercross on growth hormone, and the snow was so dry and fluffy that the knobs weren't clogging at all.

  On one of my northbound passes I see this red-faced woman walking a dog and staring at me like I was waving a cleaver and offering to carve an X on her forehead. "Isn't that insane?" she asked as I passed. "Of course," I replied. "That's what makes it fun."

* * *

  Early take on the Chickenhawk-in-Chief's speech: OK, I confess I didn't watch it. After all, there are loaded weapons within reach, and TVs are expensive. But I read the early reviews, and my gut-instinct, seat-of-the-pants, shoot-from-the-hip opinion is, if Bill Clinton — a man I never liked, and for whom I never voted — faced impeachment for lying about getting a little on the side, can't we pleaseimpeach this sonofabitch for the wood he's put to the whole planet? I mean, shit, at least Big Bill was only boinking us one at a time, with a heavy bias (pun intended) toward the fat chicks.

He knows if you've been bad or good.
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The Great Dick-tator

  King George I has his knaves, lackeys and varlets peeking in your windows, and if you don't like it, well, tough shit. That's pretty much what the Cheerleader-in-Chief said during his radio address today while defending his decision to let the NSA snoop on U.S. citizens without a warrant — a move that pissed off legislators from both sides of the aisle and that some consider both illegal and cause for impeachment, although as far as we know, no blowjobs were involved.

  The usual gang of idiots finds absolutely nothing wrong with this, of course. Prominent among them is Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who told The Washington Post:"I don't agree with the libertarians. I want my security first. I'll deal with all the details after that." Yeah, fuck Ben Franklin and the kite he flew in on, huh, Trent-Bob?

  As per SOP (Standard Obfuscation Procedure), the Boy King's 999-word speech included 10 references to Sept. 11, 2001, boogity boogity boogity. Gave the bird flu a miss, though. The argument seems to be that the ill-advised congressional approval of Numbnuts' endless and all-encompassing "war on terra" gives him the authority to do whatever he pleases. I didn't realize the deal came complete with crown and scepter. So keep your eyes peeled. That dude coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve may not be Santa.

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Where's Weirdo?

  Don't pay the ransom — I've escaped. I was being held hostage by deadlines, one for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News, another for VeloNews, and yet another for VeloNews.com, where I help push the pixels around a couple of days a week. Toss in a cyclo-cross bike that needed rebuilding, the test-riding of same and a bout of holiday shopping, and something has to give. This was it. Hey, whaddaya want for free?

The Red Cross, revived, with a steel fork
(click to enlarge)

  It's also the silly season, which means it's time for what some folks might call "contract negotiations," but I call "begging for more money." This is always a fascinating process. Some deals are as quick and smooth as an exchange with a panhandler ("Spare change, man?" "Sure, pal, here y'are."). Others have more of an armed-robbery feel ("Gimme the money and nobody gets hurt!"). Some publishing execs think that because you work at home in sweats and T-shirt instead of in an office under the baleful eye of Management, you're not really working, even though you shove the old word count right along while providing your own office space and utilities; computer hardware, software, Internet hookup and IT support for same; land line, cell phone and fax machine; and health insurance and retirement plans. It's enough to make a guy want to get a real job — until he remembers what having a real job was like. For example, at most real jobs the sweats and T are right out, as is the beaker of tequila next to the monitor. And Management is right there, in your face, which makes it tougher to take a couple of deep breaths, a few stiff drinks and a long, hot shower before bellowing, "WHYN'T YA GO FUCK YASELF? HAH?"

  Meanwhile, it's colder than the atomically-pumped Freon Dick Cheney uses to keep his cadaver erect and lumbering stiffly about his undisclosed location, grunting orders in double-secret pig Latin to the Cheerleader-in-Chief and other minions. I had to wear three long-sleeved jerseys, bibs, neoprene leg warmers, ski socks, toe covers, a balaclava and a winter hat to do 45 minutes of cyclo-cross yesterday. Right now it's 13, feels like 4. I have to quit checking weather.com. It's only gonna make me crazy, and then I might actually go out and get that real job, if only to make someone else pay the utilities during working hours.

  Update in the War on Christmas: In the spirit of the Chris ... uh, holi ... aw, whatever the hell season it is, Mad Dog Media sends you this teensy weensy little gift: Fafblog! Remember, he knows when you've been sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good. And so does the NSA. So be good, for goodness' sake — unless you want to get shipped air freight to Upshitcreeksilvania with a 10-battery flashlight labeled "Not the Property of the (Redacted) up your ass.

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Back in the saddle

  I shut down this little carnival of mine for the weekend in honor of Richard Pryor's passing. When a pro has left the stage for good, the amateurs should show a little respect, no? So Herself and I drank a toast to Rich, then listened to "That Nigger's Crazy," the first Pryor I ever heard, and watched "Richard Pryor Live In Concert," which most aficionados agree is his best work. The CD "Is It Something I Said?" is killer, too. Humor addict that I am, I have it all, from a boxed set of CDs ("Richard Pryor ... And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings, 1968-1992") to various standups in VHS and DVD. So while the man has left us, he saw to it that we have plenty to laugh at, and to remember him by.

  Now, as to the recently concluded cyclo-cross nationals: Damn, am I ever glad I watched from a safe distance. It made Napoleon's retreat from Moscow look like a casual stroll along some Caribbean beach. Check this report from an anonymous fink on the ground:

The 1-2 p.m. race (masters 35-39), in which I rode, was the most adverse situation I have ever experienced willingly "for fun." It was, in one word, brutal.

40-50mph gusts with rain to snow to sideways sleet so painful you could not see. Some of the run-ups had 6-inch-deep ice-water ponds.

And, to add insult to injury, I flatted halfway on first lap, rode a rim for a half-mile through crazy hard stuff to get a neutral spare I had to yell for 'cause the Mavic guys' tent was destroyed — I had to yell at them.

But, I did not quit and I placed ... maybe last (dunno). But did not quit.

My socks were frozen stiff when I got back to the car. Mild hypothermia. 40 minutes in the shower. Dangerous. I saw a guy collapse in the team area and they picked him up and threw him into a car ... never seen that before.

And, the final insult was that the winner was in shorts and you could not tell he even felt the weather — he was a friggen animal/phenom (top 10 were actually).

See you this weekend. Time to train — it can't be anything compared to that race! ;)

  Yow. When are the feds gonna wise up and start holding this party in Tucson, Las Cruces or San Diego, where a guy can work on his geek-tan? Here's another report, this one a critique from one of the jillions of racers who saw a podium bid flop due to the dreaded first-lap flat:

CRITIQUE: This could go on and on but I'll make it short:

  • Put the womens' national race before the Liberty Cup. The crowds fled after that event, leaving a small bunch of 'cross enthusiasts.

  • Move the awards ceremony outside instead of the silly 20 x 40 foot beer tent that stank of boiled hotdogs.

  • Use any color except WHITE for course tape.
  •   Um, yep, I'd say white was the wrong color for this dance. Besides, isn't white a no-no after Labor Day?

      In any case, the good news is that the Colorado contingent crushed at nats: Winners included Todd Wells (elite men and Liberty Cup); Troy Wells (U-23), Katie Compton (elite women); Danny Summerhill (junior men 17-18); Alex Coelho (junior men 15-16). Other podium finishers included Alex Howes (second, junior men 17-18); Keith Novello (third, men B 35-plus); Danielle Haulman (second, junior women 15-16); Matt Schriever (second, collegiate men); Tina Dominic (third, collegiate women); and Pete Webber and Brandon Dwight (second and third, masters 35-39). Complete results can be found here. Congrats and a tip of the Mad Dog Media tinfoil beanie to all.

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    Rhode Island White

      Oh, mama. You want rotten weather in your neighborhood, all you have to do is host the U.S. national cyclo-cross championships. Scope out the conditions and forecast. Almost makes me glad I'm working the VeloNews.com website from my toasty Bibleburg office instead of freezing my ass off in a Providence snowbank, trying fruitlessly to scribble on a notepad with a frozen pen. If you're out there, shoot me a note, dish the dirt. What we need here is plenty of solid intel' so we don't get bogged down in a quagmire. Boots on the ground, don't you know. Plenty of the brothers are in Providence this year, including Brook Watts and Karl Kiester (go, Cody Racing).

      Me, I'm sitting here in my sweats, drinking tea, processing bits and bytes and waiting for it to warm up enough so I can go out for a quick round of ground-pounding. The high is supposed to hit the upper 30s today, and the weekend is supposed to be even better. It's practically a tropical heat wave. I may even ride a bike. It's either that or shoot myself and hope for a higher rebirth in an alternate universe that isn't plagued with stupid shit like this. This extension of an old Eddie Murphy skit on "Saturday Night Live" is what a Robert Heinlein character referred to as a "funny-once" while trying to explain humor to a self-aware computer in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. How come nobody ever pitches a reality show about pirates, highwaymen, corpo-fascists, whores and war criminals seizing control of the U.S. government and trying to rule the world, huh? Oh, wait a minute. There already is one. It's called "the evening news." Or it should be, anyway.

      'Cross nationals update: A source on the scene informs me that the collegiate race was postponed ... until when is anybody's guess. "It is really awful out. Wet, wet, wet and windy," says our man. I guess he means it's wet. Motel rooms throughout the Providence area suffer a bewildering shortage of grease- and mud-free towels, washcloths and bedding as sales of Jagermeister quintuple overnight. Brass monkeys seen sporting thermal longjohns. More as it develops. Meanwhile, here's how conditions look in Portland, Oregon, site of the last two championships. I'm tellin' you, 'cross nationals is a curse.

      An even later 'cross nationals update: Check out this photo from today's racing, courtesy of the usually reliable anonymous source (g'wan, put me in jail, I know how to make a shiv' out of a spoon and I could do with a vacation). The Colorado contingent is said to have comported itself well: Karl Kiester (Cody Racing-Great Divide) scored fifth in the 45-plus after two flats, and Peter Webber was second, Brandon Dwight (TIAA-CREF) third and Mark Legg (Cody Racing-Great Divide) fourth in the 35-40.

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    Imagine there's no ... snow

      Ten below zero. Judas Priest. Bibleburg is colder than Weirdcliffe once again. Brian of bicycle-repair fame has unearthed a set of studded snow tires for his commuter bike. Me, I'm thinking in terms of riding indoors like Big Jonny at DrunkCyclist, a self-confessed wuss. It could be worse, I suppose. I could be a working reporter following Condi Rice around Europe, getting an earful of her bullshit on torture. That in itself would constitute torture, I think. 'Will there be abuses of policy? That's entirely possible,'' Rice said at a NATO press conference. ''Just because you're a democracy it doesn't mean that you're perfect.'' No shit. This is about as far from perfect as I can imagine.

      And speaking of "Imagine," today marks the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's murder. What a waste. I often wonder what kind of music he'd be making today, if any. I picked up a CD of "Revolver" the other day, after listening to an interview on NPR with "The Beatles" author Paul Spitz, and was surprised to be instantly reminded how how goddamn good that album was. The flavor was more sharp Lennonism than treacly McCartney. It wasn't just good pop, it was good music, and we''ll never get any more of it. In the words of Thomas McGuane, plucked from "Nothing But Blue Skies," "I feel sorry for the young people of today and their stupid fucking tuneless horseshit."

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    Turn the mad dogs loose

      A happy 56th birthday to Tom Waits. For some reason, a non-existent duet between Waits and Bette Midler is playing in my head — "Baby, It's Cold Outside — maybe because it is. Eight-thirty in the morning and it's still six below here in Bibleburg. Weirdcliffe is a comparatively balmy zero. Why do I have a house in that godforsaken wasteland instead of someplace in southern Arizona, like all the other geezers? I will never be smart.

      In unrelated news, I was enjoying a bit of back-and-forth with some fellow cyclo-cross fiends on rec.bicycles.racing when Brook Watts chimes in with a tale about driving his Volvo north from Austin to race nationals at Monument Valley Park — the very park where I started promoting 'cross races back in the 1990s and where I still train today. A quick Google search turned up the top 10:

    Photo by Casey B. Gibson (click to enlarge)

    (click to enlarge)
    That's me in Monument Valley Park, back when I was a man instead of whatever it is that I am now. Note the very finest in cyclo-cross technology: a Pinarello frameset graced with a seven-speed Ultegra drivetrain, bar-end shifters, Weinmann cantis, Lyotard 460 pedals with double steel Christophe toe clips and leather straps bolted to the pedals, and Mavic tubie rims with a Vittoria Mastercross up front and a Wolber 28 Cross Extra in back. Below my photo is a shot of a T-shirt I and Michael Schenk at Eon Studios did for the only spring 'cross we ever did in Monument Valley; I think we got about 17 people, total.
    U.S. National Cyclo-cross Championships
    1980 - Colorado Springs, CO, Dec. 28
    All classes

    1. Joe Ryan, 24km in 1:00:26
    2. Mark Jansen, at 1:44
    3. Davis Phinney, at 2:12
    4. Steve Manthey (JR) at 2:46
    5. Ron Kiefel, at 3:44
    6. Brent Emery, at 4:28
    7. Roy Knickman (JR), at 6:04
    8. Myron Lind (JR), at 7:28
    9. Paul Curley at one lap
    10. Lennard Zinn, at one lap

      I believe I was in town that day, but I had no idea that the race was taking place. I didn't even know people raced bikes, much less got off and ran around with the damn' things. My dad had just died, and I had quit a truly foul gig as a copy editor for The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and was kind of hanging around Colorado Springs, waiting for the right moment to head west and hunt down a new job somewhere in California. Never found one. I wound up in Corvallis, Oregon, at the Corvallis Gazette-Times, where I drew my first cycling cartoon, lampooning the shit-for-brains wanna-bes who treated the bike paths like the Champs Elysees, to the peril of porky, chain-smoking drunkards like myself. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? At least I've quit smoking.

      Anyway, I did eventually discover bike racing, and cyclo-cross, and before you could say "Adri van der Poel" I was running around Monument Valley Park with the rest of the loonies, wearing a perfectly rideable bicycle, as the photo at right proves.

      While we're discussing the news business, however elliptically, here's some bad news for anyone served by a Knight Ridder newspaper: Gannett will take "a hard look" at buying the chain, whose Washington bureau has studiously avoided the kowtowing to King George so common among the shitbag rags run by Gannett, Freedom, Lee and the other bean-counting buttheads that worship profit to the detriment of solid reporting and editing. Gannett papers should be printed on perforated rolls and hung in bathrooms where they can be put to some useful purpose.

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    Snow fun

      I haven't frightened the poo out of myself in a long while, so I decided to drive up to Whole Paycheck on North Academy, in a snowstorm, for some groceries. Holy jumping Jesus H. Christ on a flatcar. Denizens of Bibleburg show even less sense behind the wheel than they do in the voting booth. But I knew this. This is the town where a 50-car pileup on the interstate is standard fare come wintertime. You mean four-wheel drive doesn't help you stop? Uh, yes. Now pull your bumper out of my ass and call 911, you blithering fucktard (see below).

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    Vocabulary lesson

      The word for today is "fucktard." It seems to be, anyway. I stumbled across it a couple times today while browsing blogs in an ultimately successful attempt to avoid going outside in a howling gale that returned all the snow I shoveled yesterday to its original position and then transmuted it into immovable styrofoam. You can find this useful word in a headline at Sadly, No! And if memory serves, it appears at least once on Rude Pundit, which right now is not loading, which may be because (a) Rude Pundit is a fucktard, or (b) I am. And of course, you can find it in the dictionary, illustrated by a picture of President George W. Bush. You fucktard.

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    Pushing the idiot stick

      While trolling the 'Net for news of the cycling persuasion, I noticed through the living-room windows that our walk appeared to have been broomed more or less clean of yesterday's snow. Must've been Mike, a neighbor one house removed, who generally halts at the driveway splitting our house from Marv' and Judy's. Damn the man. So I kitted up, grabbed the shovel and did the other half of the block. Oboy, an upper-body workout; just what every cyclist loves. I prefer an out-of-body workout, where the mind sallies forth for a little vigorous exercise while the carcass slouches there on the couch, drinking brandy. Still, one can't be put to shame by the neighbors. It's bad enough that I have two broken-down trucks parked at the curb and a section of front lawn landscaped as Early Hillbilly Vacant Lot. And there's that whole karmic-debt thing to consider. I could shovel from here to Weirdcliffe and back without making a single payment on the principal.

      And while we're on the topic of karmic debt, how'bout the latest from national security adviser Stephen Hadley? This shameless tool told "Fox News Sunday'' a couple real whoppers, the first being, "We comply with U.S. law, we respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal, and we do not move people around the world so that they can be tortured." But the killer line was in regard to the Pentagon's practice of paying Iraqi newspapers to print pro-American articles. (Hey, why not? The White House does the same thing at home.) "The Pentagon is looking into them (reports)," Hadley said, no doubt with a straight face, adding: "To the extent that kind of behavior is inconsistent with our policy, it will be stopped." Well, shucks. That's all a guy needs to know then, eh? That whole deal with FEMA's "Recovery Channel" running administration propaganda past the folks in Louisiana must be consistent with their policy, then ... at least, until CNN runs a piece on it. (A tip of the Mad Dog Media jester's cap to Digby's Hullaballoo.) I hope Little Stevie isn't expecting much in the old stocking this holiday season ... whoops, I mean "Christmas."

      Naturally, while these Stalinist stumblebums are vigorously hurling their own bullshit hither and yon like so many button-down baboons, praying that some of it sticks somewhere, please, Jesus, they are squelching opposing viewpoints with equal determination, according to the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau, which says the White House is using ideological litmus tests to screen speakers in the U.S. Speakers/Specialist Program — apparently in violation of the program's charter, which K-R says "is to present a 'range of responsible opinion' in the United States to overseas audiences, not to hawk a particular administration's policies." Those deemed unworthy to represent the Boy-King's empire abroad have included former State Department adviser David L. Phillips and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Yet Cheney, Rice and all the other jabbering fuckwits on the federal payroll are free to flit about like deranged bats, covering the globe with their toxic guano. As Molly Ivins has noted: "Why did we bother to beat the Soviet Union if we were just going to become it?"

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    Oh, the weather outside is frightful

      Aw, it's not that bad. A guy has to expect a little snow in December. Lovely weather for the state cyclo-cross championships, and ain't I glad I'm not driving two hours north to get my ass kicked in that little charivari. I was always good in bad weather, but that was about six years ago. Now I add a long-sleeve shirt to my T-and-sweats power suit and crank up the thermostat.

      A teammate is charging into the fray, however — the indomitable Mikey O'Schenk, who thinks nothing of donning every garment in his velo-closet for a two-hour ride at dark-thirty on a crisp winter morning. He will be racing two of my former Steelman 'cross bikes, the newest of which contains some parts from a third, which now hangs partially disassembled in the garage. It's the first time in more than a decade that I've been down to one functional 'cross bike. Happily, I have a Voodoo Wazoo frame close at hand and most of the parts needed to build the bugger up. Maybe I'll haul it down to Old Town, get a bottom bracket and headset installed, and spend the day fiddling with it. Indoors, naturally, with a long-sleeve shirt and the thermostat cranked up.

      Later that day: OK, so I was wrong. It's not lovely weather. It's cold and it's still snowing and I look like I just drank a quart of Beam 'cause I went for a half-hour run with these bitter little snow pellets pipping me in the chops, frosting my glasses and lacing my beard with a festive crop of snotsicles. The old lady made me. Otherwise I'da been sitting here, all warm and cozy, drinking the last of my fine Jepson Old Stock Mendocino Alembic Brandy. We don't have a woodstove here in Bibleburg, so a guy has to take his heat internally. I like to tune up for the Jepson with a few healthy drams of Laurel Glen Winery's Reds, a tasty, inexpensive blend (60 percent 80-year-old zinfandel, 30 percent 117-year-old carignane and 10 percent petite sirah) out of Lodi, California. "A wine for the people," they call it, and Chairman Meow (our cat Ike) approves, because whenever I'm drinking it, I'm generally sitting down, which means there is a lap available.

      Didn't make it to Old Town because (a) they don't sell brandy or even red wine, and (b) I decided to wait a while on the bottom bracket until I hear whether Brian at Brian's Bicycle Shop can find an old XTR crankset he remembers salvaging off another customer's bike. I've got serviceable Ultegra and FSA cranks in the garage, but I'd rather go with something of the 110mm BCD persuasion, like the 48/36 Race Face on my mango Eurocross, but without spending all them dead presidents. More weirdo chainring options, don't you know. My knees ain't gettin' any younger, no matter how much brandy I send their way.

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    Badge heavies

      New rant up at VeloNews.com. The Colorado State Patrol has arbitrarily slapped a 2,500-rider cap on organized bike rides in the state, imperiling a couple of the bigger ones, like Elephant Rock — and maybe some of the smaller ones, since there doesn't appear to be any control mechanism in place to keep the cops from shutting down any ride, of any size. A couple of state legislators, including Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, and Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, have taken an interest in the issue (both are avid cyclists) and the Legislature may rein in the CSP. But until and unless that happens, Colorado cyclists should be a little less sanguine about rolling along in an unruly clot on some no-shoulder, two-lane rural thoroughfare, stacking up traffic for miles. One of those motorists coming to a rolling boil behind you may be a state trooper in civvies.

      I used to love to do rides like this, back in the day. I remember taking very seriously Fred Matheny's advice that you were ready for road racing when you could whip out a century in five hours or less. So I routinely did the Hardscrabble Century and the Front Range Century in Colorado, and later the Santa Fe Century and some totally flat 100-miler around Albuquerque whose name eludes me. I got away from this sort of thing after moving back to Colorado Springs from Santa Fe, and now most of those rides seem to be history, since I can't Google them up. That's too bad. The Hardscrabble, a hilly mother that ran from Florence up Hardscrabble Canon through Westcliffe, Texas Creek and Canon City before returning to Florence, was always a giggle, especially if you could latch onto a fast tandem for the eastbound leg along Highway 50. But the roads are worse now, and the vehicles bigger, and I'd feel like a fat rabbit on a rifle range riding that stretch of highway these days.

      This just in: The Colorado State Patrol took a look at its hand and folded; the 2500-rider cap on cycling events is on hold for a year, according to state Rep. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs. The collective "What the fuck?" from cyclists, the media, event organizers and both sides of the aisle at the Statehouse must've been deafening, but I wonder whether, in the final analysis, the Super Trooper fell afoul of the state's sunshine law. They pulled this shit off in the shadows, without consulting a single, solitary member of the cycling community, as near as I can tell. And while a CSP spokesman blustered that the Chief had the sack to do it under Title 24 of the state statutes, my quick read of the Colorado Press Association's sunshine-law pamphlet doesn't see any such authority ... unless he wants to say he's doing it to ensure the Homeland's security or some such fantasy. Tough titty, bub, the Democrats are running the Statehouse, and you just know what a cut-and-run crowd that is, praise be to Allah, may his beard grow ever longer.

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    Happy birthday, motherfucker

      Richard Pryor, the funniest man to ever walk the earth (if you overlook those woefully bad movies), is 65 today. If you know him only through Hollywood schlock like "Stir Crazy" or "Silver Streak," you owe it to yourself to check out the real Richard Pryor. Rent a DVD of "Richard Pryor Live in Concert" or buy a CD like "Is it Something I Said?" It's December in George Bush's America, and we could all do with a good laugh.

      Speaking of howlers, the Cheerleader-in-Chief's little spiel before the midshipmen yesterday was a terrible joke in light of a piece James Fallows penned for The Atlantic Monthly, headlined "Why Iraq Has No Army." I had already seen it (Herself is a reference librarian and is forever fetching interesting intel back to Dogpatch), but if you haven't, give it a read. A pair of senior Army analysts, "who, in 2003, accurately foretold the turmoil that would be unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq," are equally dismissive of Junior's rose-colored vision.

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      Ho hum. Another day, another Nuremberg rally. The Cheerleader-in-Chief's latest pitch to a military audience "did not break new ground or present a new strategy," as The Associated Press noted drily. And if you think I'm just being nasty when I say Junior's scared to run his lame bullshit past ordinary citizens, think again — other folks have picked up on his reluctance to open his fat yap in front of anyone who isn't in uniform. When he visited Denver to raise money for renowned nutcase Marilyn Musgrave, the Brown Palace had to be surrounded by 45 cops and a fleet of RTD buses, and the pot-banging protesters outnumbered the fat cats.

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    Base jumping

      The Cheerleader-in-Chief took his lame song-and-dance act to yet another military stage yesterday, this time in Tucson. The Arizona Daily Star caught Junior stretching the truth again, surprise, surprise ... scroll to the bottom of the story for the details. And this time, hiding out on a military installation apparently didn't prevent the civilians from getting a word or two in. NPR Hourly News reports that passing motorists were gleefully honking their horns — not in support of Numbuts, but rather in support of protesters brandishing signs emblazoned with messages like "Troops Home Now" and "Bush Is An Idiot."

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    Brain damage

      Herself and I went out for some Eyetie chow at Luigi's last night, and whether it was the Centine or the ravioli or the Belgian chocolate or the reptilian appearance of Richard Lewis after 11 years of sobriety, in an interview concluding the DVD release of his standup trilogy "Concerts from Hell: The Vintage Years," neither of us slept worth a damn last night. When I finally dragged myself out of our king-size grave, I felt like I'd been recorded at 33 1/3 for a 78-rpm world. Boiled in shit. Dumber than a sackful of hammers. But I wasn't dumb enough to be riding my mountain bike in shorts in today's thirty-something temperatures, as was the nimrod I saw mindlessly spinning through Palmer Park. I was running, f'chrissakes, and I was wearing tights, a long-sleeve polypro undershirt, a short-sleeve T, glove liners and a stocking cap. And I was cold. True, I am old, and he was young. Still, as Richard Pryor has told us, in the guise of Mudbone: "You don't get to be old bein' no fool. Lotta young wise mens dead as a muthafuckah."

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    This way to the Egress

      Think things are getting better in Iraq, as Dubya is getting set to tell yet another handpicked military audience on Wednesday? Think again, as Kevin Drum notes here. Chuck this little ditty from The New York Times into the mix and you've really got something. And it doesn't look like throngs of grateful Iraqis pelting their American liberators with rose petals.

      Meanwhile, here in Bibleburg, the unseasonably warm weather we've been enjoying finally decided to take five. Big Bill McBeef and I spent a couple hours chewing on a chilly northwest wind yesterday during a road ride to Falcon and back, and today O'Schenk and I dug deeply into our respective clothes closets for a wintry hour on the cyclo-cross bikes. No snow, naturally, just that arctic blast out of the north that slashes through Lycra and Lorica like a Republican tackling a social-services budget.

      O'Schenk is prepping for the state cyclo-cross championships next week; me, I'm just trying to lose this big thing that follows me around wherever I go, challenging the design limitations of Spandex and denim alike.

      Distraction Ahoy: Look for the Cheerleader-in-Chief to try once again to change the subject next week. This time, according to The Los Angeles Times, the topic will be illegal immigration. Alas, as Kevin Drum notes here, the solution will not be found in vacuous slogans, stage-managed grip-'n'-grins, and an utter disinterest in following through on vague promises. Americans want cheap shit; farmers want low labor costs (as Kevin says, "(T)he evidence indicates that farmers would rather let their crops rot in the field than pay ten bucks an hour."); and Mexicans will work like John Henry the Steel-Drivin' Man at jobs that Americans won't take at gunpoint.

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    How do you spell 'vehicular homicide?'

      Here's some happy holiday news for you, from The Denver Post:

    A bicyclist from Highlands Ranch, who was struck by a teenage driver text-messaging on his mobile phone, died early Friday at Swedish Medical Center, Douglas County authorities said.

    The victim was identified as Jim R. Price, 63.

    The 17-year-old driver, also of Highlands Ranch, will face a charge of careless driving resulting in death, authorities said.

    They said Price was struck by a car about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday while riding in the bicycle lane of Wildcat Reserve Parkway.

    The teenager, who has not been identified, was driving a late-model Chevrolet east on the parkway just west of Summit View when his car drifted into the bicycle lane, authorities said.

    Investigators said alcohol, drugs and excessive speed were not factors, but they learned that the boy was text-messaging on his phone when he drove off the road.

      As if life ain't short enough already, eh? Take a quick look around next time you're in traffic and check out what you're sharing the road with: guys shaving, women putting on makeup, everyone jabbering into cell phones, and now — God help us all — teenagers text-messaging each other. I'd feel safer hucking off the Golden Gate Bridge into a school of great white sharks.

      Speaking of feeling safe, I'm more fearful of the Busheviks' concept of a citizen's rights in their so-called "war on terror" than I am of the war itself. Scope out this little snippet from a New York Times story on how the administration is doing pretty much whatever it feels like when it comes to designating someone a terrorism suspect or enemy combatant, and plans to continue doing so.

    "The term 'enemy combatant,' " according to a Defense Department order last year, includes anyone "part of or supporting Taliban or Al Qaeda forces or associated forces."

    In a hearing in December in a case brought by detainees imprisoned in the naval facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a judge questioned a Justice Department official about the limits of that definition. The official, Brian D. Boyle, said the hostilities in question were global and might continue for generations.

    The judge, Joyce Hens Green of the Federal District Court in Washington, asked a series of hypothetical questions about who might be detained as an enemy combatant under the government's definition.

    What about "a little old lady in Switzerland who writes checks to what she thinks is a charitable organization that helps orphans in Afghanistan but really is a front to finance Al Qaeda activities?" she asked.

    And what about a resident of Dublin "who teaches English to the son of a person the C.I.A. knows to be a member of Al Qaeda?"

    And "what about a Wall Street Journal reporter, working in Afghanistan, who knows the exact location of Osama bin Laden but does not reveal it to the United States government in order to protect her source?"

    Mr. Boyle said the military had the power to detain all three people as enemy combatants.

      More frightening yet is that there are plenty of feebs still sporting "W" or "Bush-Cheney 2004" stickers on their gas-guzzlers. Sure, I live in El Paso County, renowned statewide as "The Home of the Small Hat Size," but still, damn. This is like displaying a two-digit IQ score or a report card full of F's on your ride. Money can't buy you love or brains. Just a big-ass, piece-of-shit car.

      And while we're on that topic, let's consider this item from The Associated Press via The Boston Globe. It seems that while we're flushing money down various toilets — Iraq, tax cuts for the rich, subsidies for the oil bidness, and so on and so forth — the federal Highway Trust Fund is running out of money and may require some new sources of funding. Like, say, fees assessed against operators of hybrids and other alternative-fuel vehicles. If such a fee were to include operators of bicycles, it might alter the traditional motorist-cyclist interaction ("Get off the road!" "Get fucked!" Cue sound effects: roaring engine, metal on metal, screams). Then again, maybe not.

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    Leftover turkey

      Something to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day:

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    'The Denver Three' get some backup

      Two of three Americans ejected from one of the Cheerleader-in-Chief's appearances in Denver because of a "No Blood for Oil" bumper sticker are getting an assist from the ACLU, which is filing a suit in federal court alleging that their civil rights were violated. "The government should not be in the business of silencing Americans who are perceived to be critical of certain policy decisions," notes ACLU attorney Chris Hansen. Gee, what a novel concept. We sure hope it catches on.

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    Ho ho ho, mofo, or else

      If Pat Robertson isn't shooting his fat face off, you can be sure the equally unhinged Jerry Falwell will be only too happy to take up the slack. The silly shit is trumpeting something called the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which The San Francisco Chronicle says is "an effort led by the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel (which) promises to file suit against anyone who spreads what it sees as misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public spaces." Seems these hymn-singing ambulance chasers think there is some sort of skulking Grinchlike treachery afoot, some lefty-loony conspiracy to croak Christmas. Yeah, right. I was in a Lowe's on Thursday and the muzak caroling was already in full song, with Thanksgiving still a week away. Out in the parking lot, the Romans were still nailing 'em up like always, and the Satanists were doing something creepy with a black goat, but shoot, you can't have everything you want, not even at Christmas. Happily, the article was not entirely about the dementia of the pulpit-pounding right-wing nutjobs. "There is no war against Christmas," said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "There is no jihad against Christians. There is nothing going on around Christmas except these groups' incessant fundraising." Jingle, jingle, jingle.

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    Bad actors

      If there's anyone out there who still has doubts about the quality of our national "leadership," take a squint at the latest bit of cheap political theater to come out of DeeCee. Those of you in Ohio must be particularly pleased to be represented by Rep. Jean Schmidt, whose little contribution to this pathetic performance makes our own Tom Tancredo look like Daniel Webster.

      I particularly love seeing fat fucks like Denny Hastert, who skipped a chance to take his tough-guy act to Vietnam (bum knees kept him out of the jungle, but didn't appear to hamper his college-wrestling career), parroting the GOP talking point of the week: "To cut and run would invite terrorism into our backyards, and no one wants to see troops fighting terrorism on American soil.'' What we need to be fighting on American soil, it would appear, is the army of yammering shitheels infesting Congress. That shouldn't be too difficult. They like to talk tough, but clearly have no appetite for a real fight.

      The whole shameful business drove me away from the Mac and onto the 'cross bike, praise be to Allah. It was pretty damn' brisk outside — thirty-something with a stiff wind out of the north-northwest — and I was wearing two long-sleeve jerseys, bib shorts and leg warmers, wool socks, a stocking cap and full-finger gloves. But as I set to turning laps in Monument Valley Park, I kept seeing runners wearing nothing warmer than shorts. Jesus H. Christ. No wonder we get the kind of government we do. The electorate isn't smart enough to pull on its pants before leaving the house in November.

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    Foul ball

      Major leaguers aren't just steroid-gobblers. They're speed freaks, too. Using amphetamines without a prescription has been a federal crime for 35 years, according to The New York Times, but hey — this is the national pastime we're talking about here:

    "There's 183 days in the season, you have about 20 days off and, let's face it, guys get tired," said pitcher Al Leiter, a veteran of 19 seasons. "I'm not justifying it, but that's the impetus for doing it. Guys want to be peppier."

      Awwww. Poor babies. Lemme see here: The average baseball fan probably works 250 days a year, gets about 10 off, and makes a whole shitload less money ... and if he gets popped with a sack of greenies in his desk drawer because he wants to be a little "peppier" in the afternoon staff meeting, he's going to jail, where the stick-and-ball sports are another type of pastime altogether.

      Fuck a bunch of baseball. I'd have to eat speed to watch it.

      Speaking of non-sports, you know how you can tell golf is for pussies? You never see anyone playing it in the snow. I drove past the Colorado Springs Country Club yesterday, en route to a nice, long, snowy run through Palmer Park, and guess how many duffers I saw enjoying the brisk weather: Uh, that would be none. They were probably all at home, prancing around in their wives' lingerie to Cher's greatest hits with the thermostat cranked up.

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    'Cross talk

      OK, I'm all politicked out for the nonce, so let's talk about cyclo-cross. Matt Pacocha over at VeloNews.com has posted a treatise on tires — tubular v. clincher — so I'm gonna chime in with my own equipment choices, even though I don't race 'cross any more and thus nobody gives a fat rat's ass what I'm riding, or if.

    My favorite bike: The Steelman Eurocross in Reynolds 853
    (click to enlarge)

      So what are you riding? Shoot me a note and a JPEG and maybe your favorite 'cross bike will take a spin on the DogS(h)ite.

    * * *

      OK, so I lied. I'm not politicked out. Conservative Democrat Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania — a decorated Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam war — has called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Let's see Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney tell this dude he's got no spine. Better pack a lunch, Dickie my boyo. And some Band-Aids.

    Get forked, Dick
    ('toon excerpt from Pat Oliphant)
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    Speak of the Devil

      The National Archives released more of Tricky Dicky's papers today. How do you like this gem? ''Publicly, we say one thing,'' he told aides. ''Actually, we do another.'' Sound familiar? And here I thought we'd never have a worse president than Nixon.

      Meanwhile, the sour warble of the Yellow-Bellied Buck-Sucker echoes around Washington as Big Dick "I Had Other Priorities" Cheney continues the White House counterattack against charges that the administration lied us into a quagmire in Mess O'Potamia. "The president and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory, or their backbone," said Cheney, whose own spine was conspicuously absent during Vietnam. "But we're not going to sit back and let them rewrite history." Speaking of history, Josh Marshall over at Talking Points Memo is engaged in an interesting historical project, collecting specific examples of how the Busheviks bent, folded, spindled and otherwise mutilated the truth in their run-up to war. It should prove most informative.

      Like his putative boss, the Chickenhawk-in-Chief, Cheney doesn't dare take his hardcase act on the road in front of the general public — you know, those losers, the ones who are donating their friends and family as the supporting cast in "Dick and George's Most Excellent Adventure." Junior does his jabbering in front of the troops, who are prohibited by law from telling him to blow it out his ass. Cheney, meanwhile, got all Western before a black-tie dinner of the right-wing Frontiers of Freedom Institute in DeeCee. Don't imagine MREs were on that menu. If these two self-styled tough guys had a man-sized nut between them, they'd try running some of this bullshit past an audience of average Joes and Janes, without pre-sorting according to ideology by the brownshirts of the Republican National Committee. Now that would be some must-see TV.

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    Tied to the whipping Post (and Times)

      The New York Times editorial page and The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne review the Chickenhawk-in-Chief's Song & Dance World Tour, delivered before yet another captive military audience, and finds it's pretty much the same off-key tune. This guy has more yellow in him than Lance Armstrong's jersey drawer. But there's probably no truth to the rumor that if you play Dubya's denials backwards, you hear the voice of Dick Nixon croaking, "I am not a crook ... I am not a crook ..."

      Meanwhile, with the Unindicted Co-Conspirator-in-Chief out of town, telling the Japanese all about freedom, the Senate grew a rudimentary spine and decided to exercise its long-dormant policymaking powers as regards torture, detainees' rights and the war in Iraq. I'm not certain what to make of this little act of defiance, since the House is another kennel of dogs altogether, but I suspect the Senate's arousal from stupor has a good deal to do with the adage that it is a body composed of 100 people, each of whom thinks he or she can be president.

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    It depends what your definition of the word "torture" is . . .

      More on how "we do not torture" from The New York Times: First, an op-ed bit from M. Gregg Bloche and Jonathan H. Marks that explains how a program intended to teach resistance to torture instead became a manual for its application (an earlier story on the same topic, by Jane Mayer for The New Yorker, can be found here.). Next, a Frank Rich column that uses the word "lies" far more often than one would like in reference to one's president. And finally, an admission from a White House apparatchik that, well, what the Chickenhawk-in-Chief meant to say was, we do not torture unless we really, really need to, in which case it's okie-dokie. Jesus. Hitler, Tojo and Stalin must be laughing their asses off in Hell. Turns out they won after all.

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    Don't touch that dial ... I mean it, don't touch that dial!

      "While considering slashes in Medicaid and student loan programs, Congress is about to set aside up to $3 billion to help millions of Americans with old non-digital television sets buy converter boxes." So begins an article from The Chicago Tribune, reprinted in Newsday. This can mean only one of two things. Either the plutocracy is afraid that po' folks might start taking notice of the burning, itching sensation being inflicted upon them from behind should they happen to miss a few doses of Madison Avenue's corporate brainwashing or The Leader's political sophistry — or these set-top doodads let your television watch you.

      Meanwhile, from the Political Science Reading Room:

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    The buck-buck-buckaww stops here

      The Chickenhawk-in-Chief used Veterans Day to deliver yet another load of bullshit via helicopter to yet another military audience. I can't recall another president who was so terrified of addressing an audience of ordinary citizens, a crowd of civilian taxpayers that hadn't been carefully sifted for thought-crime beforehand. Could it be that one of his handlers finally translated a newspaper for him and now he knows that most of the electorate has come to understand what the rest of us knew going into Election Day 2000 — that he is the wrong man for the job, a lazy, lying, lifelong failure who wouldn't know the truth if it were presented to him on a TelePrompter in words of one syllable? If I were Dubya, I'd think twice about taking this Clintonesque two-step around the truth to the folks in uniform, who are bearing the brunt of his arrogant ignorance. But then I knew from reading Molly Ivins back in '99 that he's far from being the sharpest tool in our national shed.

      Occasionally a sharp tool is put to the wrong purpose. David Von Drehle's profile of Donald Rumsfeld in The Washington Post describes such a tool. Wrestler, master at bureaucratic infighting, yet incapable of staying in the moment ("Uh, just what the fuck is it I'm supposed to be doing right now?"). Maybe Don needs to watch "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," and pay close attention to Yoda's advice to Luke Skywalker:

    "All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless."

      That's frivolous of me, of course. But not nearly as frivolous as playing Risk with real soldiers.

    Hank "O'Toole" O'Grady (right rear) during WWII
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      It's Veterans Day, and time for a tip of the Mad Dog Media propeller beanie to my old man, the late Col. Harold Joseph O'Grady, who flew nearly 300 combat missions during World War II with the New Guinea-based 65th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group, scoring a Distinguished Flying Cross in the process. We didn't agree on much, back when I knew everything, but we might be getting along a little better today if he hadn't up and died on me a quarter-century ago. Meanwhile, here's hoping today's warriors become veterans instead of active-duty troopies real soon.

      Here in the Land of the Big PX, the usual niggling complaints rear their pointy little heads. I've been riding the road bike more lately, and have noticed some discomfort in the neck and shoulders, no doubt because I'm a bit lower and more stretched out on the 56cm DBR ti' road bike than on the 55cm Steelman Eurocross — which I ride every-freakin-where — thanks to its canti-brake cable hanger, which brings me up more than somewhat. So I trucked the old beater down to Old Town Bike Shop and ordered up a stem with a tad less extension and a skosh more rise (thanks to Chris and the gang). Ditto the elderly DBR ti' mountain bike, which now sports a sharply up-angled stem courtesy of my old buddy Brian Gravestock at Brian's Bicycle Repair (muchas gracias, compañero). O, the pain of advancing age. Still, growing older beats the alternative. Ask anyone who's dead.

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    Let us bray

      E.J. Dionne is only one of the congregants in the Church of Punditry suggesting that the Donks can pick off a few disenchanted Pachyderms with public professions of faith, a la confessed mackerel-snapper Tim Kaine in Virginia. Maybe so. But this endless thrashing around, frantically seeking the One Big Solution (Stop the war? Praise the Lord?) reminds me a bit too much of the bike industry's boneheaded quest for The Next Big Thing (Freeriding? Choppers?). It also reminds me, and uncomfortably, of Robert Heinlein's vision of an American theocracy. Heinlein once lived in Colorado Springs, and I doubt the cranky individualist would be amused at what his old hometown has become, if this passage from "Time Enough For Love" is any indication:

    "The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history." (from Time Enough for Love, 1973)

      Face it, my fellow sinners: Progressives are never gonna be able to out-Jesus the Elefinks. The Elmer Gantry-Tinfoil Beanie Coalition is attached to that crowd at the hip, like a full colostomy bag. And after five years of plenty of talk about pie in the sky but little on the dinner plate down here on Earth, I think the electorate may be growing more interested in performance than platitudes. So if I had any advice for future political leaders, it would be: Talk to me about this world and how we can fix it. Leave the next one to the preachers.

      While we're discussing what lawmakers should and should not be considering, how 'bout Rafael Palmeiro and the whole question of steroids in baseball? The White House is infested with con men, numbskulls and smack-talking chickenhawks, our fellow citizens (some of them my neighbors) are getting blown to pieces while a lying sack of shit who helped send them there gets the red-carpet treatment in DeeCee, and we're supposed to care about whether millionaires paid to play a child's pastime get their biceps out of a bottle? I don't give a fuck if they all get naked and lie in a great big pile, snorting Mexican brown out of each others' bellybuttons.

      And puh-leeze,spare me the hoary old chestnut about what sort of "message" ignoring pro ballplayers' steroid abuse might send the nation's children. What sort of message does the presidency of George W. Bush send the little tykes? That any old dope-sucking, whiskey-swilling, C-student failure can become president of the United States, with the correct skin color, enough money and the right family connections? Sheeeyit — drop the money-and-connections stuff and you're talking President O'Grady in 2008. Think about that for a spell. And then go change your underwear and take a long shower.

    * * *

      Demoncracy: Someone needs to change the combo to the lock on the communion-wine closet at "The 700 Club," if Pat Robertson's latest tirade is any indication. The rev' got all biblical on the Pennsylvania voters who cleansed their school board of eight intelligent-design feebs, warning them that God's executive assistant would probably put them on perma-hold if they should happen to phone Him up all a-twitter over a rain of toads, plague of locusts or Dick Cheney sighting. Next time you go shopping for a clerical collar, Paddy me boyo, step up a size or three. The one you're wearing is cutting off the flow of blood to what's left of your oh-so-intelligently designed brain.

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    Donks give Pachyderms the old hee-haw

      Big doin's yesterday at the polls, if you believe the usual wiseguys. The Bull Moose likens the beating the Busheviks took at the state and local level to the resurgence of Pachyderm Power at the gubernatorial level in the 1990s. Randy Kelly, the Democratic mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota, who endorsed the Boy-King in 2004, got stomped like an egg-suckin' dog by Chris Coleman, a former City Council member. The Terminator got unplugged in California. And outgoing Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, whose endorsement of Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine apparently carried more weight than the Unindicted Co-Conspirator-in-Chief's 11th-hour campaign appearance for Jerry W. Kilgore, comes in for particular praise from the Moose and The New York Times, with The Times eyeballing him as a possible "outside-the-Beltway" candidate for president.

      But the Elefinks are not packing their trunks and slinking away anytime soon. They will have to be run off, using both electoral and judicial cattle prods. The American attention span is notoriously short — you will recall that the same electorate which seems so disenchanted with its leadership today was giving it a passing grade not that long ago. So, progressives need to get a really big lever into the crack that's opening up between moderate Repubs and the Tinfoil Beanie/Elmer Gantry nutjobs, separate the former from the latter, and then (to borrow a phrase from their poster boy) smoke 'em out of their holes, get 'em on the run and bring 'em to justice.

      While we're on the topic of "justice," no doubt you've heard about the Infernal Revenue Service visiting its wrath upon the Pasadena Episcopalians for a sermon that apparently failed the Ministry of Official Christianity's litmus test for political content. Little Caesar's bean-counters may have failed to consult with the Church's money-changers on this one, though because even the right-wing sky pilots got their robes in a bunch when they got wind of it. I contemplated waxing rantish on the topic until I read this bit from Amy Sullivan, who said everything I'd planned to with the exception of, "Let's tax these industrial Christians like any other business, only more so."

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    This hurts me more than it hurts you (well, not really)

      Has Big Dick Cheney finally overestimated his ability to force the nation further into banana-republican criminality with his relentless advocacy of torture? Knight-Ridder's Washington bureau notes that even some Republicans have become increasingly vocal in opposing the White House position. Elsewhere in DC, the Supremes have agreed to hear a case that could test the limits of the Unindicted Co-Conspirator-In-Chief's constitutional authority to create military commissions to try enemy combatants without congressional approval.

      Might Congress finally rise to reassert its authority to make war? Could this mark the beginning of the end of the Boy-King's rule by executive fiat? Don't hold your breath. These guys don't do shame and contrition. It's a long slog to the 2006 midterms, and we can expect several more rounds of terror alerts, bird-flu panic and other sleight-of-hand attempts at distraction between now and then. Like, say, this. As is typical with these secrecy-obsessed neofascists, what must be investigated is not the decision to set up secret gulags in former Communist Bloc satellites, but rather the decision to make that information available to the people who are paying the tab — you and me.

      Speaking of torture, it just happens to be the topic of today's edition of Radio Free Dogpatch.

      And speaking further of torture, the Elmer Gantrys running the Kansas State Board of Education have ordered that The Little Old Man in the Sky Fable be considered alongside the theory of evolution during science classes. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. Or is that a monkey's grandson? God, I dunno. The kicker is at the end of the piece:

    Among the standing-room only crowd in the small board room for today's session were two dozen high school students fulfilling a government-class assignment to attend a public meeting - and shaking their heads at the decision.

    "We're glad we're seniors," said Hannah Teeter, 17, part of the group from Shawnee Mission West High in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb. "I feel bad for all the kids that are younger than us that they have to be taught things that aren't science in science class."

      Amen, Sister Hannah. Amen.

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    Same Old Song Department

      "When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."President Richard M. Nixon

      "Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture."President George W, Bush

      You will recall how Nixon wound up.

      Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times weighs in with an editorial on the Busheviks' refusal to define their concept of the word "torture," calling the Dick Cheney-led opposition to Sen. John McCain's proposal to ban the "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment" of any person in U.S. custody — including the ones at the no-longer secret CIA-run slammers in Eastern Europe — "a race to the barbaric bottom." Read the editorial here. Then write to your senators and representatives to remind them that, all evidence to the contrary, this is still America.

      And finally, from VeloNews (Can you believe it? A bit of actual cycling news on this page for a change) comes word that Roberto Heras has been accused of ringing the Dope-O-Meter, purportedly for EPO. No word on the B sample yet. But while we wait, let's ponder this question: Is there anyone at the top of this sport who doesn't have too much blood in his blood?

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    Irony isn't dead — just gravely wounded

      Somebody has a grim sense of humor at The New York Times. Next to yet another story about how the administration fabricated its "evidence" in the rush to invade Iraq, some weisenheimer has placed an ad for "The Crusades: Crescent & the Cross," which airs tonight on The History Channel. "It started with a belief," the ad says. "No one knew where it would end."

      Over at The Washington Post, meanwhile, is something even less humorous: The FBI is using The Patriot Act to gather data on ordinary citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. Sounds like Santa Claus as envisioned by Uncle Joe Stalin: They know when you are sleeping; they know when you're awake. They know if you've been bad or good — so be good, for goodness sake.

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    Go sit in the corner and think about what we've done

      Har de har har. The Unindicted Co-Conspirator-in-Chief has ordered that the White House staff undergo a refresher course on ethics. I thought all these hymn-singing feebs were supposed to have aced that elective in Sunday school. Apparently not.

      Meanwhile, here in Bibleburg, we got the second snow of the season today, and boy, was it a doozy — just enough to persuade a guy to leave the bikes in the garage and spend the day dicking around with his electronica. I've added an Audio-Technica microphone and a Behringer UB802 mixer to my podcasting toolkit and have the ideal weather for staying indoors and driving myself batshit with software, hardware and owners manuals.

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    A captive clientele

      Here's another good reason not to go to jail. Seems the Colorado Department of Corrections has barred the sending of money orders to inmate accounts, used to pay for toiletries, health care and over-the-counter meds, and ordered that all money sent to the slammer henceforth must come via electronic funds transfer. According to The Denver Post's Reggie Rivers:

    The DOC has made a deal with JPay and Western Union so that inmates' families can either walk into a wiring location with cash, or use their credit cards to make commissary account deposits by phone or Internet.

    If Grandma walks into a JPay location (available only in Ace Cash Express Stores), she'll have to pay $5 to send $25 to her grandson. If she makes the deposit online, the charge will be $5.95, and by phone it's $6.95.

    If Grandma uses Western Union (with outlets in most King Soopers and Safe- way grocery stores), the fees are even higher. If she makes the transaction during her regular shopping trip, she'll pay $7.95 to send $25. Online, the charge will be $9.95, and by phone it will be $11.95.

      Are we putting the wrong thieves behind bars?

      Meanwhile, something called "The Betting Fool" rakes the recently announced Amgen Tour of California over a very small bed of coals indeed in Thursday's online edition of The San Francisco Chronicle. The Fool notes that the race cannot possibly rival the Tour de France despite the grandiloquent Barnumisms of its organizers and confides that he finds golf more exciting than cycling. Fool, golf is what flies watch when they feel too lazy to eat shit. But good on you for enjoying the Allman Brothers and beer. And here we thought it was all Rufus Wainwright and chardonnay out there in Gay Bay.

      And speaking of people who are full of shit, that phone call I was promised by Melody Chambers of Cingular? From her supervisor, Jeremy Bourque? Expected in 24 to 48 hours? Right. No phone call. He's probably on hold with customer service.

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    All that news that fits, we print

      Bill Greider has a depressing take on the decline and fall of the American press over at The Nation, just in time for the who-gives-a-shit revelation that CNN chucked Aaron Brown aside like a used rubber, about four years too late (he was hired in 2001). Brown's feeble videocy was one of the many factors that led me to decide against getting cable when we moved back to Bibleburg from Weirdcliffe. The temptation to watch is just too great, and I've got to keep a lid on the old apoplexy. It scares the cat. Meanwhile, Dan Rather chimes in from Maine with the late-breaking word that journalism needs "a spine transplant." Yes, that, and a brain and a conscience and a memory and a soul and a nice big shiny pair of brass balls. Judith Miller's hummers aren't exactly making the nut, you should pardon the expression.

      Speaking of news and entertainment, the big wind came to Colorado Springs today, blowing our NPR affiliate, KRCC-FM, off the air, knocking out the power in various locations, and spoiling my plans for a leisurely bike ride with Big Bill McBeef. I thought we were gonna lose a telephone pole there for a while — the bugger was waving at me like a big brown arm from across the street.

      And speaking further of news and entertainment, George Carlin will be performing his 13th HBO special on Saturday, broadcast live from the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side. It's the only thing I've heard of lately that makes me want to break my vow against cable TV. You can read a New York Times interview with him here.

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    There's a change a-comin' (or maybe not)

      Mixed news from yesterday's election: Referendum C passed, but D apparently did not. The race was too close to call by the time the newspapers called it quits last night, and the margin may trigger an automatic recount — which may be a good idea in any case, since 80 of El Paso County's 385 precincts ran out of ballots and an unknown number of voters left polling places without casting ballots. Our insanely conservative, tight-fisted county was rejecting both referenda, as per usual, but by a thin margin. Meanwhile, District 11 voters elected the Mann-Hasling-Gudvangen slate to the school board and approved a $131.7 million bond issue.

      What's all this mean? For starters, it was the biggest off-year turnout that county clerk-recorder Bob Balink has seen in 15-20 years, which reaffirms Tip O'Neill's axiom that all politics is local. Have people decided that some things are worth being taxed for — education, transportation, health care — and that sensible leadership is a valuable commodity? Are they finally wise to the Bush administration's relentless misdirection ("Look, it's the bird flu, boogity boogity boogity!") and thinking about finding solutions to problems? Or was this all just a combination of a warmish fall evening and nothing on TV? Stay tuned. The real test comes this time next year, when we'll see if the loser David Broder calls President Pushover has any coattails, or if they've vanished along with the rest of the Little Emperor's clothes.

    * * *

      Raising the bar (tab): My latest series of chats with the soulless robots at Cingular did not go well. After an hour of Soviet-style customer "service" two weeks ago, my "case" was referred to Commitment (a department I suspect does not exist), with a representative of same to respond within a week. Two weeks later, I held my nose, jumped back into Cingular's audio sewer and started paddling around, looking for a turd in authority.

      After 23 minutes and 20 seconds on hold (long enough to cook my lunch, a reheat of last night's tasty beef-vegetable soup, and start eating it) I spoke with a pleasant woman named Andrea Wilson, who expressed her sympathy and said she believed she knew which department could authorize and handle a simple phone exchange. Your estimated hold time will be six minutes, she said. I thanked her. At 40:51 into the call, a Melody Chambers finally picked up. I repeated the story I've told to five functionaries in two phone calls, and she told me that I would have to go back to the Cingular office that sold me the phones and plan — the office that sent me on this endless digital walkabout, shouting down dry wells, in the first place! I explained patiently that I was about one more can't-help-you-sir from multiple homicide and she offered to have her supervisor, a Jeremy Bourque, call me within 24 to 48 hours. Ho, ho. I hung up and immediately checked The Weather Channel's website. Hell has not frozen over, so I will not hang from the ceiling by a wire attached to my testicles while I await my phone call from Mr. Bourque.

      These people are good. I'm starting to think Cingular earns more from the fees attached to canceled contracts than from providing cellular service — especially after a quick search of its less-than-glowing reviews on epinions.com. Shoulda gone there first, before I ever set foot in a Cingular store. Or done a Google search for "Cingular sucks," which just returned 882 results. Caveat emptor, as the saying goes.

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    Halloweenies and the really scary stuff

      Three miserable trick-or-treaters is all we got last night, and one of 'em didn't even bother to devise a costume. That's not trick-or-treating, that's beggary. Thus, a sack full of sweets is en route to the Pikes Peak Community College library. Patrons should expect radical shifts in blood-sugar levels and the quality of service as a consequence.

      With the disappointments of Halloween behind us, the really scary stuff is dead ahead — an election to decide Referenda C&D, which would allow the state to keep, rather than refund, a few billion dollars over the next five years and spend them on transportation, schools and health care. Also on the menu are three seats on the District 11 school board, which has has replaced Laffs as the best stand-up-comedy show in town, and whether said board can issue bonds to build and repair schools.

      I'm generally opposed to giving government anything beyond the bare minimum required for life support, but the state really is in the shit. C&D are drawing solid bipartisan support — surprise, surprise, both wings flapping together with an eye toward staying airborne — and anything that Doug Bruce is against, I'm for. If the fat fuck supported cuddling puppies, I'd volunteer to euthanize strays at the Humane Society, with a ball-peen hammer. As for D-11, I got an education of sorts in its schools (Washington Irving Junior High School and Mitchell High School), and covered the district as a reporter for the Gazette in the late 1970s. Plus we have neighbors whose kids attend schools in the district. So I'm inclined to lend a hand there, too, if only to harelip that nitwit Eric Christen and the B-team Elmer Gantrys who support his antics.

      See? It's just like Robert Heinlein said, in the voice of Lazarus Long: "If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong."

    * * *

      Late update: Minority honch Harry Reid invoked a little-known rule to jerk the Senate into closed session to discuss that august body's failure to proceed with phase two of the Select Committee on Intelligence report on the "Where's WMD?" debacle. The upshot, after two hours of what must've been cats-in-a-sack comedy, was the creation of a bipartisan six-person panel "to report on progress by the Senate Intelligence Committee in reviewing prewar intelligence," according to Blind Billy Frist, who apparently got his knickers in a twist over this arcane parliamentary maneuver. Follow the fun and games over at Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. The Donks are threatening to pull this little gag daily if they don't get some answers; I have no idea how Reid's guerrilla war against the Pachyderms will play in Peoria, but it shouldn't be too tough for Frist to drop the Obstructionist Bomb via Air Fox.

    * * *

      A much later update: Tired of all the bullshit people keep feeding you? Want to feed yourself? Try interviewing President Bush.

    * * *

      Return to Beyond the Valley of a Much Later Update: Herself voted late this evening and reports that precinct 13 ran out of the standard ballots and was having to use provisional ballots. Considering that turnout was supposed to be low, this either indicates that (a) the Pachyderms are trying to hose our little lefty-loony El Paso County ghetto the way they did our Ohio comrades, or (b) the turnout was a damn' sight bigger than the 30 percent anticipated. This should be amusing. If D-11 sends a trio of reformers to the board and approves a bond issue, and the state approves Refs C&D, I would provisionally and with the usual disclaimers anticipate tough sledding for the Elefinks come the midterms.

    * * *

      Son of Return to Beyond the Valley of a Much Later Update: The Empire Strikes Back: The long knives are coming out for Turd Blossom, if one is to believe The New York Times, which says Trent Lott and William Niskanen think it's time for a White House-cleaning. Trial balloon, wishful thinking, or a neo-Sicilian desire for vengeance on the part of the former Senate majority leader?

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      The Bull Moose notes that the Busheviks are back to their usual game of dodge-the-bullet with the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. It takes the Scooterpalooza and the Iraq debacle off the front burner for a while, appeases the crucial Tinfoil Beanie/Blood o' DeLamb faction — the hard-core Bible-thumping dimbulbs who can't wrap their tiny minds around the large realization that The Leader is an incompetent, blinkered, lying sack of Elephant shit — and sets up a pissing match with the Donks, whom the Cheerleader-in-Chief will be happy to paint, whenever he's not on vacation, as obstructionist lefty-loony baby-killers who hate our freedumb and sons of legal Italian immigrants to boot. The single-issue abortion-rights crowd, which has its own, equally rigid catechism, will provide an assist by getting all screechy about Roe v. Wade and their anticipation of Alito's stance thereon, thus energizing the Elmer Gantrys, Flat Earthers and other small hat sizes. And with the holy wars between left and right in full flower, the center will simply shake its pounding head, take a handful of Aleve and go back to watching "Lost."

      Speaking of Aleve, pounding and lost, I'm in the hurt locker today after a longish run with our Weirdcliffe buddies Hal and Mary yesterday. I've been running only occasionally as I try to get back in touch with my inner cyclist, and a hilly, 90-minute run at 9000 feet isn't exactly the smartest way to get back into ground-pounding. I feel like rabid badgers have been gnawing on my legs, my back is stiffer than Dubya at a press conference, and drinking a bottle of Reds last night didn't exactly provide the level of analgesia that I had been seeking. Maybe I should dress up as Frankenstein's monster this evening, 'cause that's how I'm walking.

      Meanwhile, as long as it's Halloween and we're talking about people pretending to be things they are not, check out former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega's Nation article on The White House Criminal Conspiracy. Scary stuff.

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    Blood simple

      As the nation slips deeper into corruption and chaos, its people confused and leaderless, Sylvester Stallone rides to the rescue with two new movies: "Rambo IV" and "Rocky Balboa." Hee haw. This one-two punch should knock Oscar right off his little golden feet, don't you think? If nothing else, Sly should score a Rosy Palm d'Or for beating off so very publicly. Giving this self-styled auteur money to make a film is like giving an orangutan a can of Krylon and hoping he'll reprise Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco.

      Meanwhile, as the U.S. body count passes the 2,000 mark in Georgie's splendid little war, some uncharitable sorts are daring to suggest that Scootergate should refocus our attention on the string of White House lies that took us to war in the first place. With even the stoutest Elephants either trumpeting their shock and dismay or running for cover in hopes of salvaging the 2006 and '08 elections, it seems likely that Pat Oliphant will not be lacking for cartoon topics anytime soon.

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    Vacation, all I ever wanted .... vacation, had to get away

      Ho, ho. Scooter takes one for the team and the Cheerleader-in-Chief runs like a yellow dog, straight to an audience of (no doubt) carefully selected military and retirees in Norfolk, leaving Backseat to issue the usual boilerplate about his minion's "tireless public service" from his undisclosed location. No indictment for Turd Blossom yet; but Paddy Fitz says his inquiry isn't concluded, so Fatboy may simply be continuing to marinate in his own grease while Fitz adds a few more briquettes to the old Weber.

      Meanwhile, the Donks have commenced to bray, after spending much of the past five years grazing quietly in the back forty. With Scooter and The Bug Man in the shit, the Pachyderms partaking of serial cannibalism over the Harriet Miers clusterfuck, and the Donks gleefully jacking off in the shadows, we may expect plenty of breast-beating, viewing with alarm and other amusing racket over the weekend to fill the void left by a too-quickly decided World Serious.

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    Quack, quack

      Shit. I just lost five bucks to the wife. I thought sure that the Busheviks would manage to shoehorn Harriet "You Are the Bestest President Ever!" Miers onto the Supreme Court, and then she goes and bails on me, after a vigorous shove from the Flat Earth/Tinfoil Beanie division of the GOP. Is our Lone Star mallard lamer than we think he is, or was the whole deal some bait-and-switch ploy to elevate some real maniac to the bench instead of a lovestruck suckup? Daffy the Dick has got to be running out of half-bright White House insiders to promote, don't you think?

      The prez also lost a pissing contest with his own party over suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act in the rebuilding following Hurrican Katrina, which may mean that local working stiffs can get a seat on the gravy train formerly restricted to Halliburton and its multitudinous subsidiaries.

      And meanwhile, Paddy Fitz may not have announced any indictments yet, but he has apparently signed a lease for expanded office space. Does this mean he's found some fresh mossy rocks to turn over? If so, what slimy things will scuttle out from underneath? Hunter S. Thompson checked out way too early. He'd be loving this.

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    Dick Cheney awaits indictment
    in his undisclosed location.
    The rule of law

      Newsies, bloggists and other supernumeraries worldwide are eagerly awaiting word that Paddy Fitz has indicted someone, anyone, in the outing of CIA spookette Valerie Wilson. The fear-dumps being taken by one and all has forced the White House staff to keep the windows open 24-7 lest the Boy-King smell his minions' watery poo and become querulous. The latest word is that Scooter and Turd Blossom may do the perp walk on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, which means the Numbnuts-in-Chief is gonna have to come up with a couple witty nicknames for their replacements. I propose that anyone convicted in this deal be sent not to jail, but to Iraq, in a baggy green suit with a target stenciled on the back — especially the Vice President for Torture, who could do with a radical broadening of his perspective regarding cruel and inhumane treatment. Surf's up in the waterboarding tank, fatboy.

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    Cops and robbers

      After a leisurely midday girl-watching ride to Manitou and back via Colorado College with Big Bill McBeef today, I was rolling down San Miguel bound for Dogpatch when I hear someone bellow, "Eighteen miles an hour ... not too bad!" I look around and what do I see? A couple of motorcycle coppers tucked away in an alley, laughing and waiting for fresh meat. "Not bad ... but not great," sez I, and they laugh some more. If I'd known they were clocking me, I'd have gone for something a little more manly. Like 19 mph.

      Meanwhile, you think Big Dick Cheney got caught in Patrick Fitzgerald's legal zipper? Christ, I hope so. I'd like to see him and the rest of the war-gaming neocons walk the plank of their own hubris into the Sea of Deep Shit before they have a chance to extend their slam dunk to Syria and God only knows where else.

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    What's up, Doc?

      The Washington Post reports today that Bill Frist's blind trust was about as myopic as the Hubble Space Telescope, with trustees writing some 15 times to discuss the sale or contribution of assets. Sayeth The Post:

    In January 2003, after winning election as majority leader, Frist was asked on CNBC whether his HCA holdings made it difficult for him to push for changes in Medicare, a federal health program for seniors that added to the hospital company's revenue.

    "I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust," Frist replied. "So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock." He added that the trust was "totally blind. I have no control."

    Two weeks before that interview, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., a Frist trustee, informed the senator in writing that one of his trusts had received HCA stock valued at between $15,000 and $50,000.

    "He [Frist] could have been more exact in his comments," said Bob Stevenson, spokesman for Frist.

      Uh, yeah, Bob. Right. Like, he could've tried not lying and shit. Y'know?

    * * *

      Incidentally, the podcasting experiment is going swimmingly. My man Hal Walter has been interested in the technological flavor of the month for the better part of quite some time, but I beat him to the punch by successfully uploading a 90-second podcast complete with musical intro/outro because I don't have any children, burros, horses or goats to ride herd on. Plus I had a microphone and he didn't.

      Penny-pinching Luddite that I am, I slapped together my little test drive for free using some elderly software I found on my iBook G3 800 (Felt Tip Sound Studio 2.0.7 and iTunes 3.0.1); the iBook's built-in microphone and an old headset from a portable Sony CD player; a music clip downloaded from OPSOUND.org; and a pair of tutorials, one from www.playlistmag.com and another from MacWorld. It's great fun, much more so than the work I'm supposed to be doing for Bicycle Retailer, which ships Wednesday but was two weeks late with my October paycheck so fuck 'em. I'm maintaining my artistic purity through a complete and utter ignorance of the art form (the only podcast I've ever listened to is my own); a principled rejection of its basic technology (I don't own an iPod); and a vow not to inflict a podcast upon you, dear reader, until I figure out just what the hell it is I'm doing (could be years).

    * * *

      And finally, gassho to Rosa Parks, who finally gave up her seat on the bus, but not because some cracker told her to. In a world where the word "hero" is tossed around like so much cheap confetti, it's still not too late to salute a real one.

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    Dog Breath in your ear

      Since it's too wintry for cycling and too early for drinking, I'm dicking around with some podcasting technology here in Dogpatch. What I don't know about digital audio, RSS feeds and whatnot could fill volumes, and my ignorance is exacerbated by my insistence on staying several iterations behind the curve as far as operating systems go, so bear with me here. The comedy will resume shortly. Jeez, what do you expect for free? Go listen to Garrison Keillor or watch the World Serious and let me work.

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      I should be up at VeloSwap today, transforming premillennial bike parts into gold through the alchemy of stupidity. In fact, Big Bill McBeef and I have planned to hit the 'Swap with our excess gear for two years running now. Alas, we have screwed the pooch both times. Once again we will be forced to spend the day riding our bicycles through sun-splashed fallen leaves instead of hanging around the National Western Complex in Denver sharing airborne viruses with a few jillion of our closest friends.

      I haven't been to the 'Swap for many, many years, since its inaugural stop at the National Western, which was quite the clusterfuck, snarling traffic at the Mousetrap and hence greatly augmenting our fan base among the local constabulary. A teammate is up there today, as is an old buddy who drove all the way from Pojoaque, New Mexico. But I'd rather drive to New Mexico for green chile than to Denver for bike parts.

      What I need is an AutoSwap. I got two beater Toyotas with 300,000 miles between them clogging the curb in front of the house, in need of something like a G's worth of mechanical attention — wheel bearings and drivetrains, rubber and front ends, you name it. I should haul the rattletraps down to Motor City and see if I can trade 'em for a used Vespa.

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    Man, just count all them chickens . . . can't wait 'til they hatch

      The perils of the Pachyderm have set the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy to jacking off all over the Internet: An arrest warrant has been issued for Tom "The Bug Man" Delay, Turd Blossom and Scooter have stumbled from the shadows into the spotlight, and some folks think the Boy-King Hisself knew what his minions (or minders) were up to all along. But before we start gleefully dusting off Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution, leave us recall just who is running the House, Senate, Supreme Court, White House and the armed forces. And the press, too, come to think of it. While the Bug Man's perp-walk photo op was front-page news in some towns, The Dallas Morning News led its online edition with the Houston Astros making it to the World Series. That's what I call playing ball.

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    Cingular cucks

      That's pronounced "sing-u-lar sucks" in case you're having trouble making the connection, as I was today when I tried to exchange the wife's Motorola V220 camera phone for a non-photo V180 like mine because the V220 is not Mac-compatible. Can't do it, they said at the Cingular office downtown. Your 30-day buyer's-remorse period has expired, by five days. Ah, but we were never told that the V220 was not compatible with Apple computers, I riposted. Can't shift the photos from phone to iBook, don't you know. Your tech-support weenies said it was could be done, even sold us a USB cable to smooth the way for all those digital delights. Wasted much time trying to make same happen without success. "Universal Serial Bus," they call it, but not with this sonofabitch. Jesus, the last digital camera I owned that required special cabling and software to download photos to a Mac was the Epson PhotoPC, a hideous piece of crap that croaked on me in the middle of the 1997 cyclo-cross nationals. OK, so it was a bit cold out there in the goo. Nevertheless, cut a brother some slack. Tell you what we'll do, they said. Call this number and speak with the Exchange By Mail people. Tell 'em it doesn't work. Two-day turnaround, tops. Uh, you may have to get firm with them.

      Indeed. An hour later, after being passed through Dante's fabled Nine Circles of Voice Mail Hell, from Exchange By Mail to Customer Service to Customer Care, a stupefying journey that was occasionally interrupted by unsatisfying interactions with carbon-based automatons, my "case" was passed to Commitment, which I was more than ready for — as in canvas blazer with the nifty wraparound arms and a rubber honeymoon suite at the puzzle palace, with a minibar full of Thorazine. The last person I spoke with was either very new to evasion and fabrication or the victim of a practical joke ("Hey, let's transfer this asshole to Suzi's's mom! She has Alzheimer's, it'll be a scream!") I'm supposed to hear from Commitment in a week. Circle that date on the calendar with a big red crayon. This outfit should rename itself ChingaU. ¿No comprendes? Look it up in a Cholo-Gabacho dictionary, I ain't no goddamn helpdesk. I'm on my break here. Want to speak to my supervisor? May I put you on hold? By the nutsack?

      And while we're at it, a big middle finger to Motorola for not telling you straight up, right on the V220 box, that a Mac user couldn't chase a photo out of this fucker with a platoon of exorcists led by a voodoo priest. For that, you have to search their support site, where the persistent will eventually unearth the following:

    At this time Motorola does not support software that is Macintosh compatible and our current software is not compatible with Apple/Macintosh devices. Please note that iSync has not been tested by Motorola, and this software would need to be supported by Apple/Mac. If you are interested in an USB cable for your Motorola phone, this cable has not been made available for purchase separately on our On-line store. However, the cable is available for purchase separately direct from Motorola. The part number for the cable is SKN6311B. If you would like to order this item, please contact our Customer Care Center at 1-800-331-6456. Current pricing is also available through our Customer Care Center.

      Unless I miss my guess, this says that their phones don't work with Macs, and they'll be happy to sell you a USB cable to prove it.

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      Bet the White House is glad Saddam's trial starts tomorrow, giving the ravening Left-Wing Media Conspiracy another ambulance to chase. With the Plamegate inquiry possibly focusing on Big Dick Cheney's office, the conservative uproar over the Harriet Miers nomination getting noisier by the minute, and soaring energy prices giving the economy a wedgie, it's just not fun to be the president anymore. In fact, it's a lot like work. Hard work. I know, I've seen it on television.

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    An eight-page 'Ooopsadaisy'

      The New York Times and Judith Miller finally "explain" themselves re: the Valerie Plame affair. Eight online pages for the mainbar pretty much boil down to, "She fucked up aggressively and we fucked up passively." Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher pretty much nails this smelly hide to the barn door here.

      Ms. Miller withheld much from her colleagues at The Times, but did manage to contribute this much to the discussion of her multitudinous failures, which helped her necon "sources" take the nation to war:

      She said she thought she would write a book about her experiences in the leak case, although she added that she did not yet have a book deal. She also plans on taking some time off but says she hopes to return to the newsroom.

      She said she hopes to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country."

      Oh, Christ, no. Please. Judy, if you want to atone for your sins, join the Marines and volunteer for combat duty in Tikrit. I hear Dubya thinks it's kind of an interesting place to be, even if it is "a little early" for him or any of the other chickenhawks to pay the grunts an in corpus visit anytime soon.

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    Forgive them, Father, they know not much of anything

      With Dubya in the doo-doo, the junior-varsity Elmer Gantrys are hankering to get off the bench and into the game. The New York Times took a squint at one of these scrubs, Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and with any luck at all it is the last serious press this foot-washing Promise Keeper will ever get. Any fool who mentions William Jennings Bryan in a conversation with a reporter clearly has never read the blistering obituary Mencken wrote of him ("If the fellow was sincere, then so was P.T. Barnum."). I'd like to see a delegation of Jews, Muslims, Baha'is, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sikhs, Satanists, Druids, Atheists, Wiccans and Jedi Knights pay a call on this silly shit to remind him and the other Bible-thumpers infesting the nation's capital of the last few words of Article VI of the Constitution: "(B)ut no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

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    Chimps and chumps

      The Smirking Chimp is thrashing around, frantically trying to find some traction on something, anything, as his poll numbers plummet like a turkey buzzard with the bird flu. The latest photo op was a videoconference with a handful of carefully coached troopies in Iraq. Somebody in the industry should send the silly shit a single-speed. Whoops, he's already got one: "Terriss ... terrisss ... terrrrissss."

      Meanwhile, lest you think us partisan, some Donks seem to think "Bush sucks" automatically translates into "Democrats rule." Um, no. Try finding a message and some candidates capable of delivering same, please. And throttle anyone who suggests that Al, John or Hillary can win back the White House. Al rolled over and pissed himself when the Elefinks hosed him out of Florida, John displayed more unattractive personalities than Sybil in his "All Things to All People Tour," and Hillary would lose to any live Republican and most of the dead ones, including Nixon.

    And finally, with Judy Miller out of legal jeopardy for now, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says the Old Gray Lady is champing at the bit to "tell the story" about how the neocons played her like a kazoo. Don't suppose they'll be bringing Jayson Blair back to handle that one.

    * * *

      James McMurtry has made his protest song "We Can't Make It Here" available for download. If you haven't heard it yet, it's definitely worth a listen. I heard it on KRCC-FM the other day and didn't even mind their bleeping him now and again, it was so fucking good. Apparently an Ohio DJ has been suspended for a week without pay for running the unexpurgated version. You can read the lyrics here.

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    And so it goes

      Interesting interview with Kurt Vonnegut over at The Washington Post. I always liked Vonnegut, and never more so than when I found out he shared my opinion regarding our current national "leadership." He has a joke written for his next novel, about a standup comedian at the end of the world, that goes as follows: The Martians land in Manhattan and check into the Waldorf. That's the bad news. The good news is, they eat homeless people and pee gasoline. Ho, ho.

    * * *

      Oboy, a brand-new way for people to disconnect from reality — Apple's new video-playing iPod. Can't wait to get run over by some land-schooner captain trying to catch a glimpse of "Desperate Housewives" poontang on that burly 2.5-inch screen. The whole personal-digital-entertainment craze is starting to remind me of Ed Abbey's notion that Americans serve their machines more than their machines serve them, with hands riveted to levers and what have you:

    "Affix the electrodes. Insert the anode into his penis. Quite so. The cathode goes up the rectum. Half a meter. Yes, all the way. Don't be squeamish." The Director issued his orders to invisible assistants, who bustled about Smith's paralyzed body. "Good. Imprint the flip-flop circuits on his semicircular canal. Below the ear drum. Right. Five thousand volts should be sufficient. Attach sensor wires by strontium suction cup to his coccyx. Firmly. Plus the high-voltage adapter into the frontal sockets of his receptor node. The head, idiots, the head! Yes — right up the nostrils. Be firm. Push hard. Quite so. Very good. Now close circuit breakers. Quickly. Thank you."

      Now, I'm hardly a monkey-wrenching Earth First! Luddite. I like driving a truck that's new enough to have air conditioning, independent front suspension and on-demand 4WD that doesn't require you to step outside into a driving snowstorm to lock the hubs. I prefer my doddering PowerBooks (pre-OS X, all of them) to the manual typewriters I worked on when I got into journalism 32 years ago. And a cheap DVD player beats the hell out of reel-to-reel videotape, VHS decks and pretty much anything that arrives over the air, via satellite or through coaxial cable.

      But God damn, Bubba, this is no time to be hard-wired into the ABC-Disney opium den with Steve Jobs's latest and greatest. Shut that shit off, pull your head out of your ass and take a look around. Talk to people. Read something that hasn't been approved by Oprah's Book Club, The New York Times best-seller list or the Ministry of Homeland Security. Vote. If you don't like the way the vote turns out, march, while you still can, and don't ask for a permit, either. Judging by the last two presidential elections and the most recent polls, a couple of you could do with a good rap in the noggin from a copper's nightstick.

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    Weather or not

      Snow yesterday, sun today. Such is life in Colorado. One minute you're enjoying a warmish fall bike ride, the next you're huddled in a hypothermic stupor under a snow-slathered tree, and the next you're drying out while collecting a third-degree sunburn. Psychotic doesn't begin to describe it.

      I see the Conservationist-in-Chief is practicing what he preaches by flying his entourage to New Orleans so he can prance around in a tool belt for the "Today" show. Like single-malt Scotch, fuel is cheap when someone else is buying. My recent excursion via Air Toyota from Bibleburg to Sin City to Moab and back set me back $350 in go-juice alone, never mind the cost of other, tastier flammable liquids, the sort the prez is said to have given up since finding Jesus, more's the pity. The world would be a good deal better off if Junior had continued to be a drunken fuckup instead of an allegedly sober one.

    Groucho, Chico and Harpo on Slickrock
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    Cold today, chile tomorrow

      The first wintry weather of the season showed up last night. Too thick to be rain and too thin to be snow, it merely leaves one damp, cold and lusting after a warmer climate. O woe, o woe. I went for a short run this afternoon and had to wear damn' near everything in the closet, including the closet.

      And to think that just a week ago I was riding around Moab clad in shorts and short-sleeved Mad Dog Media kit with my old newspaper buddies Chris and Merrill, both of whom wound up somewhat the worse for wear, and not just because of the two cases of beer, jar of sippin' whiskey and late nights, either. Chris managed to turn his left wrist into a meat sack full of Chiclets while Merrill gave life to some hellish biohazard by dragging his pallid New York flesh across red Mormon sandstone. Both are generating much-needed business for the sorely stressed medical community while I type away undamaged, thanking my lucky stars that I am a chickenshit who rides like a blind hemophiliac in a funhouse full of broken mirrors.

      I'm also tickled that Herself is en route from Fanta Se bearing a half-bushel of freshly roasted Española chiles, many of which will feature prominently in a giant pot of green chile stew by this time tomorrow. In weather like this what you want is plenty of chile, red wine and whisky. And, of course, a plane ticket to someplace else, like Cabo San Lucas. Chile is cheaper.

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    Nobody rides for free

      Oboy! CNN is saying that Rita is a bigger bitch than Katrina, if you happen to need a few tanks of cheap gas to get around and about between, say, Colorado Springs and Las Vegas. And me with a Tacoma that gets about 23 mpg on the highway, with a tailwind and a light foot on the accelerator. O, woe. Happily, it's all tax-deductible (road trips, bike parts and computer gear are what we have instead of children). And at least I will be above water.

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    Vuelta a Vegas

      OK, the Vuelta a España is finally in the books, just in time for me to stare down the barrel of the Vuelta a Vegas, otherwise known as Interbike. Two days of Outdoor Demo, of which I'll see maybe two or three hours, followed by three days of wandering around in an air-conditioned concrete circus, trading upper-respiratory viruses with a few thousand of my closest friends and looking at all the bikes I don't need. Last time I checked the garage, I had three cyclo-cross bikes, a hardtail mountain bike, a road bike, a town bike and a time-trial bike; I'd say that about covers all eventualities. Sure, I'd like a new bike, the same way I'd like a new car, something with a few hundred thousand fewer miles on the odometer. But do I really need one? Naaaaaah. Do you really need one? Absolutely. More than one, too. And I will be happy to tell you just which ones you need shortly after I set foot in the Sands Convention Center, because the place is finally set up with wireless Internet. That should be amusing, watching 10,000-odd industry weenies with their Windoze shitboxes all trying to download porn simultaneously. If the place disappears in a foaming cloud of 1's and 0's sometime next week, you'll know why. In the meantime, if you're eager for news of developing technologies as they relate to canines, clap your bloodshot peepers on this

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    Dick Cheney before he dicks you

      So Big Dick Cheney is scheduled for a little surgery, no doubt to refresh the Freon coursing through his veins. Who do you suppose will be running the country while he's on the table?

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    Regarding bolting horses and barn doors

      I see my boy Dubya has finally copped to some limited responsibility for the incredible button-down-yuppie fire drill that was FEMA's response to Katrina, led by a cadre of Bush-Cheney campaign functionaries with the sort of disaster-relief experience once might expect to find in your average kindergarten class transported by a very short bus indeed. No doubt Numbnuts has issued this unprecedented mea culpa in hopes of salvaging his second-term agenda and/or the midterm elections. Too late, Junior. Too fucking late.

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    Tough love

      All ye who voted for the Man-Child, thinking it a ballot for adult leadership, but have come to regret it in the face of war, famine, fire, flood and pestilence — to say nothing of endless vacations, the employment and promotion of political hacks ill-suited to actual labor on the nation's behalf, and a general disinclination to take the proverbial bull by the actual horns — hearken thou unto the bugling of the Bull Moose, who speaks thusly:

      (W)ithin Republican circles it has been known that the President (who was previously known as "Junior") is a bit, well, immature. He was created as a political force by Rove and is minded by Cheney. The country will survive his leadership, but it is striking that so many have protected him with the soft bigotry of low expectations.

      Should anyone be surprised that he refused to cut short his mountain bike vacation? Should we really expect that he should be more articulate and more curious? Are we unfair to want him to take charge and responsibility?

      America yearns for adult leadership. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until January, 2009.

      You can read the Moose's latest take on Junior here. And seriously — if you voted for Numbnuts once, please try to pay closer attention to the candidates' records come 2008. And if you voted for him twice, well — please volunteer at once for uniformed duty in Iraq, Afghanistan or New Orleans, and give someone sensible a chance to come safely home to the spouse and kiddies.

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    Escape from Washington

      It's a little on the florid side, but Tom Engelhardt's take on the Atlantis from Hell is worth a look. Meanwhile, you'll be happy to learn that the administration is at long last rolling out a plan — to rehabilitate its image in the wake of the latest stunning revelations of its incompetence and indifference. There's probably no truth to the rumor that Karl Rove has ordered up a few truckloads of watermelons to keep the darkies happy down there in the bayou. It speaks volumes about the values of this outfit — of the aristocrats, by the aristocrats and for the aristocrats — that it takes such care with the dead body of William Rehnquist while casually discarding the living poor in New Orleans. But then Dubya wouldn't have his job were it not for ol' Bill, now, would he? Laissez les bon temps roulez!

    * * *

      Meanwhile, Gilligan is dead. This is not Bush's fault. At least, I don't think it's his fault. Hey, anybody seen Cheney lately?

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    The horse Brown rode in on

      This news about FEMA chief Michael Brown is not designed to gladden the heart of anyone who spent the past few days sleeping in a puddle of piss at the Superdome. When it comes to hiring and promoting blithering idiots, this White House has no peer. Thanks to Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo and Brent Arends at the Boston Herald. Read the whole dismal story here.

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    SNAFU, FUBAR overshadow FEMA in disaster response

      The Leader graced the Apocalypse with a personal visit on Friday, walking across the roiling waters to hug sniveling survivors and bringing a select few dead Republicans back to life with a brief laying-on of hands at the wallet pocket. Then, grasping a flopping bass and a loaf of Wonder Bread, presto! Filet-O-Fish sandwiches for everyone! Alas, since The Leader does not drink, the water-to-wine trick was right out, so you'll all just have to keep drinking your own urine.

      Cheap, shoddy humor aside, the news out of New Orleans just keeps on getting better and better, doesn't it? As the politicking began to get serious, with the prez preparing for his photo-op junket to the disaster area and the Donks pointing their manicured fingers from a safe distance, the people actually doing a job of work down there are getting seriously pissed off. Check out this piece from The New York Times, a snippet from which is pasted below:

      Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists.

      Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city. Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."

      "We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm," Colonel Ebbert said. "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane."

      This must encourage the nation's enemies no end. It's impossible not to have sympathy for the people trying to deal with this catastrophe; it's not exactly like mopping up your kitchen after a pipe breaks under the sink. But it's not as though nobody had ever considered that New Orleans might get wiped off the face of the earth by a major hurricane. (Thanks to Josh Marshall and Scientific American for the bad news about what some folks knew back in 2001.) And if the richest country on earth can't respond quickly and efficiently to a single natural disaster, confined to a comparatively small area, then how will it handle, say, a coordinated series of biological or chemical attacks in six widely scattered areas of the nation?

      Given this disturbing revelation about the ability of our elected/appointed representatives to respond in an emergency, this might be a good time to take stock of your own situation should the lights go out and your world turn cold and dark. Me, I have a $5 bill in my wallet and a half-tank of gas. That might get me to Weirdcliffe should calamity descend, but I doubt it.

      And even if you don't have to run for it anytime soon, you might want to set a little money aside, if you have it to spare. It ain't the initial cost that's gonna get us, it's the upkeep. The shit has done hit the fan, and we're all gonna get splashed.

      Meanwhile, in our own little two-wheeled corner of the universe, the National Bicycle Dealers Association has a Hurricane Aid page up, intending to link displaced bicycle-retail employees with temporary housing and employment. "Since becoming aware of the devastation we as a group of bike-shop owners have been asking ourselves what we can offer to other bike shops in the area besides water and food?" said Fred Clements, NBDA's executive director, on www.bicycleretailer.com. "Many shops are stepping up and offering employment, temporary lodging and other assistance to help these people get their feet on the ground." Shop owners who want to help can post their info here.

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    Welcome to the Third World
    "I don't want money. What the hell's money good for? You can't drive it and you can't eat it and it won't even fix a flat." — filling-station owner Jerry Kling, refusing a banker's cash for a three-gallon handout of gas, in "Alas, Babylon," by Pat Frank

      We turned on the TV the last two nights, our first venture into network programming for many months (PBS's "NewsHour") to inspect the damage to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. God sure shook His little Etch-a-Sketch down there. It gives us all a preview of coming attractions should a calamity — whether natural or manmade — visit any more of these concrete rabbit warrens we all find so attractive. Writers of apocalyptic fiction (H.G. Wells, Pat Frank, Robert Heinlein, and so on) have speculated that many of us would behave badly, and they seem to have been right. New Orleans in particular seems to have come in for particularly shabby treatment, both before and after the storm hit. Our place in Weirdcliffe, with its well water and woodstove, looks better and better all the time. So does its closet full of canned food, jerrycans of water, battery-powered radios and flashlights, candles, lanterns, camping gear and loaded firearms.

      The New York Times has a list of agencies that are providing information and/or assistance. You can get there from here. Lay a little spare change on the Red Cross, if you can. You never know when you'll be the one sailing a barn door out to sea and screaming for help.

      Meanwhile, thanks in part to Katrina, gas prices here in the decidedly above-sea-level Bibleburg nibbled on the three-buck barrier today. I sampled the three stations I use most often, and the price for cheapo gas (85 octane) ranged from a low of $2.89 to a high of $2.99. My Toyotas are supposed to use the mid-range stuff, which in Colorado is 87 octane; that ranged from $2.99 to $3.09. The premium runs from $3.09 to $3.19. Glad I got a four-banger rice-grinder and a shitload of bicycles. Still, we're livin' large out here by comparison. Things are much worse elsewhere, and due to get worse.

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    Will they actually talk, or just type?

      Jonathan Maus over at the weblog Just Riding Along is proposing an informal bike-biz bloggers' get-together at Interbike. Jonathan has been urging the industry to take up blogging; whether he's shouting down a dry well is anybody's guess. This might be a good chance to find out. My own favorite bike-related blogs include (naturally) drunkcyclist.com; the surlyblog; and thestain, which has less to do with cycling and more to do with ... with ... well, hell, I'm not sure. But I like it. There may be others out there, and if so, and if you're interested in rubbing elbows with your comrades, drop Jonathan an e-mail.

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    Home again, home again, jiggity-jig

      Back at El Rancho del Perro Loco after a week in sunny SoCal, and "glad to be back" doesn't begin to describe it. Sure, there's nothing to eat in the house (I do all the cooking and hence the grocery shopping), but there was nothing to eat in Laguna Hills, too, and you had to stand in line for it, all the while trying to decide whether you would need to employ Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Farsi, Sanskrit or hand puppetry in other to complete the transaction. No decent beer, either, not for a guy on foot and lacking a church key (left my little titanium "Beer Is Good" cap-lifter at home to minimize the cavity searches at airport security).

      Walked an extra mile to the Holiday Inn one night in order to pay someone else to open my beers and witnessed what apparently was the local Dance of the Living Dead, a thrice-weekly gaggle of geezers bent on getting down and drunk to the stylings of a one-man band name of Steve Briggs, who has been suffering for his art at this miserable shitbox for 10 long years. Steve plays clarinets and saxes, flute, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and PowerBook, and no doubt has failed to commit many a lyric to memory because he knows his audience is too grizzled and guzzled to give a fat rat's ass what the fuck he's singing about as long as they've got a palsied fistful of some other drunk's love handles and enough cheap gin in 'em to to help their cataracts whip some serious blur on their vision. It gave me a new appreciation of my own gig making lame jokes for bike weenies. There was a moment or two where the rictus that Steve employed in lieu of a showbiz grin made me wonder whether he wished that guitar was an AK-47 with a 50-round magazine. Me, I hardly ever feel like killing you people.

      After one day of R&R here in Bibleburg it was straight into working the Vuelta a España, last of this year's grand tours. I'm helping out over at VeloNews.com once again, editing and posting copy and photos, and may even pop into one of Charles Pelkey's live updates in mid-stage in order to make a fool out of myself on a slightly larger stage than this one. At least I can't see the audience. Ol' Steve even has to take requests. And just think about the groupies. Oh, Lord . . . .

    It coulda been me ... drivin' that sexy Benz
    0 8 | 2 5 | 2 0 0 5

    Benz there, done that

      From an undisclosed location: Mercedes. Jaguar. Beemer. Jesus. I've never seen so many stylish rides in all my life. The only people driving Toyota pickups around here got their rich brown coloration from DNA, not the tanning salon, the Riviera or Cabo San Lucas. Alas, my greed for a new ride has now been elevated way past my station in life. By simply trading in the Tacoma, taking on a second mortgage and stealing a healthy white baby to sell to some barren Santa Barbara couple I too could be driving a silver Mercedes Benz. Yeah, right. Stick a 50-something bald-headed fat bastard with an attitude problem in a $100,000 ride and what do you have? A turd on a silver platter, that's what. I should be driving a Yugo.

    Flower-powered travel, courtesy of Electra
    0 8 | 2 4 | 2 0 0 5

    Footloose and fancy free

      From an undisclosed location: Not a lot of foot traffic in these parts, as befits the Left Coast car culture. Everybody's driving next year's Mercedes, and way too fast, too. Except me — I'm driving a black pair of New Balance 83s and a girl's Electra cruiser in blue with flowers all over it and the seat snuggled up to the top tube. A guy's gotta be secure in his masculinity to pedal one of these mothers back and forth from the Starbucks.

      The hired-gun gig is going swimmingly, barring the usual technical glitches — the office WAP's security gremlins don't like OS 9.2.2, so I have to 'net up via Ethernet cable (how last century). The WAP at the hotel is down, too, which forces me to resort to pay-per-view porn for my amusement instead of drunkcyclist.com. I have far too much time for that sort of thing, as the after-work entertainment lacks a certain something. No doubt management has the last couple of Interbike bar tabs committed to institutional memory and has warned everyone that three-figure happy hours will not be expensed.

      Meanwhile, I see SuperTex is in the midst of yet another doping controversy, and ain't I glad I'm not around to work on that one. VeloNews.com is getting more mail about him than about me, surprise surprise. Apparently we now stand accused of hating America, Lance and Levi Leipheimer, whose win at the Tour of Germany briefly played second fiddle to a dope charge from 1999, probably because the web editor was awaiting a fresh pic from Agence France Presse.

      Dined last night at one of the overwrought shitholes I patronized last year. Same waiter and everything. I went for the comfort food, which proved a mistake; I make better meat loaf than these guys, and it hits the plate faster, too, though I only cook for two instead of what appeared to be about two thousand mooing fatties. It was not unlike dining at a ConAgra feedlot in Greeley. Plus I don't charge myself four smacks a crack for Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

    0 8 | 2 3 | 2 0 0 5

    Your flag decal won't get you into heaven any more

      "Sor, Jeesoos loves joo," said the smiling, brown-skinned man of indeterminate ethnicity as I wound up my run this morning in an undisclosed location. "Thank you," I replied. It's always nice to hear that somebody loves you after a ton of hate mail descends upon you like an upended Dumpster full of fish heads. Ho, ho. If these feebs had any idea how much I enjoy reading their little love notes, with the misspelled words, fractured syntax and twisted logic indicative of home schooling, a closed head injury or fetal alcohol syndrome, they'd go back to jacking off over pictures of Ann Coulter and phoning up the local talk-radio nitwits to rail against "dune coons, commniss and queers." Or, like Pat Robertson, to insist that anyone who disagrees with them and The Leader be assassinated. Had a Muslim cleric suggested that a Western president be given similar treatment, he would now be in a rabbit hutch on Gitmo enjoying the tender mercies of the cloak-and-dagger crowd. My fave is the universal assumption that I must be "a liberal Democrat," which to these tools is a step or two down from queer commniss dune coon. If it is not white, then it must be black. Four legs good, two legs bad. I feel for America's teachers in these trying time. They must feel as though they have been ordered to teach banana slugs how to sing opera. In the meantime, check out what may be the model for future discourse regarding Bush's splendid little war . . . from, of all places, Salt Lake City.

    0 8 | 2 0 | 2 0 0 5

    Beating the Bushes

      Fresh rant up at VeloNews.com. I decided the letters to the editor had been particularly dull of late and went trolling for nitwits, using a Bush-bashing column for bait. Caught my limit and then some. Nothing's funnier than a feeb who replenishes his hackeyed-cliché stores from the bottomless font of wit and wisdom that is talk radio. This crowd's boogeyman is Clinton, naturally. They seem not to understand that getting a good knob-polishing, even if you fib about it, rarely results in death and disfigurement, unless the knob-polisher is a Doberman, a cannibal or a great white shark. Even then, the only casualty is you. Lying about why you're ordering troops into combat is a whole 'nother thing, Bubba. Anyone who voted for this nimrod and has yet to repent should have the names of the American dead tattooed on his sunken little chest. Anyone who still doesn't get it after that gets a second inking, this time of the Iraqi civilian dead. You'd think that all these true believers would have joined the Marines by now, but I'm not seeing many Baghdad return addresses on this blather. Imagine my surprise.

    Two studies in black and white.
    0 8 | 0 3 | 2 0 0 5

    Pepe Le Peeeeeyeww

      It's been a regular "Wild Kingdom" lately here in Dogpatch. First, a stray cat moved in under our back deck. The fat bastard would slither out during the day to wander about, meowing like Selma Diamond, and coincidentally taking a bite or six of food on us, though it would frantically squeeze back into its den whenever it actually saw one of us. When we plugged the cat's bolt hole, it moved in with the next-door neighbors, camping out in their flower bed and staring balefully at us from across our shared driveway.

      Gradually, the cat warmed up to us, grudgingly permitting a bit of head-scratching and returning the occasional purr, even acting as if it could be talked into a little lap time if people in general hadn't proved themselves to be such absolute shits. This was a wise move on the cat's part, because by then the new neighbors' four cats had begun paying us calls and they were a whole lot more approachable and didn't eat nearly as much.

      And then the Parade of Skunks began. First Mama and six babies paraded through the yard one evening, and after that the joint became a regular freeway packed with black-and-whites, and I ain't talkin' cop cars here, Bubba.

      The new neighbors bore the brunt of this nightly invasion — in addition to the cats, they have a young dog who is quickly learning about skunks in no uncertain terms — but we've been downwind of a few of these continuing-education courses, and lemme tell you, a houseful of closed windows and doors is not exactly what a guy craves when the temps are in the upper 90s. Plus one of the brazen little mothers trotted right up onto the deck last night while I was sitting out there with a laptop and a glass of wine and dug into the cat chow like a free-lance journalist at a buffet/open bar. I beat a strategic retreat and declared victory. The way I see it, tomato juice is for Bloody Marys, not bathing.

    0 7 | 2 0 | 2 0 0 5

    It's good to be king

      Who'da thought that Big Tex's last Tour would turn into a ticker-tape parade with four stages to go? Not me, Bubba. But the T-Mobile boys proved about as dangerous as a Girl Scout troop in Fallujah, Basso's young enough (and smart enough) to hold his fire until 2006, when Ullrich will be his bitch instead of Armstrong's, and everybody else is just sort of counting down the days until The Sheriff hangs his gunbelt on the peg and settles down on the ranch back in Austin. Glad I'm not advertising on OLN. Hell, I'm glad I'm not a subscriber. Frankly, this Tour is about as interesting as watching flies fuck.

      I miss crazy bastards like Jacky Durand and Claudio Chiappucci; iron men like Sean Kelly and Eddy Merckx; guys who raced a ton and attacked like Vandals with a skinful of sour wine and a bad rash on their nuts. That sort of thing doesn't always work, and it surely isn't smart, but it's a lot of fun to watch. Remember LeMond's face when he flogged The Professor by eight seconds? Now recall Tex and his triumphs. Does he look like a fired-up jock who just kicked ass, or a CEO inspecting a quarterly report?

      All props to the man for doing what's never been done before, but damn. I can't wait for '06, when the Tour will be less of a coronation and more of a bike race.

    0 7 | 1 1 | 2 0 0 5

    Toothless Jaws grows a few new choppers

      Well, whaddaya know: About six years too late, the Washington press corps finally grows a pair, telling White House press pimp Scott McClellan that he is as full of toxic shit as a Leadville landfill. The notion that Karl "Bush's Brain" Rove can be toppled for lying like a Navajo carpet in a Texan's shitter may still be a Democratic wet dream, but hey — even a dumb jackass has to bust a nut now and then, eh? How do you think the Bush twins got here? You can read the whole appalling exchange here.

    0 7 | 0 5 | 2 0 0 5

    The Yellow Kid

      Ah, well, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later — but what a way for poor Dave Zabriskie to lose the yellow jersey. One brain fart and he's on the deck, then up and limping in for ninth overall, more than a minute back of guess who. Meanwhile, Big Tex chimes in with his usual sound bite ("It feels nice to win."). Do tell. This is one of the many reasons I don't cover bike races any more. You feel silly writing shit like that down. See "Bull Durham" ("It's time to work on your interviews") for details.

      Meanwhile, Jan Ullrich isn't exactly ripping it up out there. VeloNews has an interview up, and it sounds like Der Kaiser is just coasting along toward retirement, cashing a check, like so many of us, me included. Except I'm gonna have to work until I croak, if only to pay the health insurance. You ought to see the "coverage plan" Shannon's new job offers. People who ask you for that kind of money in return for nothing should be wearing a mask and brandishing firearms if they expect to be taken seriously. If I get sick, I'm shooting an insurance salesman and going to prison for the free medical care. One shot, three hots and a cot. Fat city.

    0 7 | 0 2 | 2 0 0 5

    Aaaaaaannnnd we're off!

      Well, SuperTex just missed scarfing up the first yellow jersey of this year's Tour . . . as if he wanted it this early. It was more than enough to make Ullrich his bitch, shoving a minute and change up his ass on the very first stage. Now Discovery can catch the old palanquin ride while CSC defends the booger against all comers, which in fact should be pretty smooth sailing for a while as no sprinter is within shouting distance of the lead. Big props to David Z. for kicking much ass today. I'd sleep in that jersey, if it were me.

      Meanwhile, for all you tech fans out there, the new, airy Mad Dog Media office (see the photo below at right) worked flawlessly during today's opener, until it started raining. And I couldn't scope out our three-minute Spanish video of the stage, because it's some weirdo Windows Media Player file that my old Wall Street doesn't like (same goes for the live audio from Eurosport, which used to play without issue on all my old machinery). When did Windows Media Player become the default for Internet A/V? Did QuickTime and RealPlayer live and die in vain? I even downloaded the fucking player and it just laughed at me while it ran around all over my hard drive, collecting personal data, snapping surreptitious pix and shipping the whole package off to Redmond. I think I'll buy a Dell and shoot the goddamn thing to celebrate the Fourth. They're cheap enough, what the hell. I'll put it on a credit card. Everybody does it.

    0 7 | 0 1 | 2 0 0 5

    Sittin' in the morning sun; I'll be sittin' when the evening come . . . .

    It's Tour time

      Yes, it's that time of year again, when Lance, Inc., clocks in and goes to work to earn that next $28 million. I lent a hand to the fine folks at velonews.com during last year's record-setting jaunt around Frogland, and it nearly made me insane; this year, I have relocated the Mad Dog Media World Headquarters to the back deck (see the photo at right), with a radio for soothing music from KRCC-FM, a tilting umbrella for shade, and a more powerful wireless card from MacWireless in order to ship the news from France through Colorado to the server farm in California (I think). There is also a cooler within reach for purely medicinal reasons and a grill for searing dead animal parts to keep my strength up. As offices go, it ain't half bad. It's not exactly France — but at least I have a glass of French wine close to hand.

    0 6 | 2 9 | 2 0 0 5

    George W. Soprano

      Did you watch the Cowboy-in-Chief perform his latest variations on the theme of Smoke 'Em Out of Their Holes, Get 'Em On the Run, Bring 'Em to Justice last night? No? Good for you. The surgeon general won't cop to it, but the CDC has evidence that extended exposure to toxic bullshit makes you stupid. I listened to a little Bach and then watched an old episode of "The Sopranos," an outfit that reminds me very much of the mob running the country these days. But the Mafia has better moral values and is less eager to resort to violence. And like the Boy Scouts, it has adult leadership.

      Meanwhile, I enjoyed a quadrathlon of sorts today — drive, run, bike, drive. The Tacoma was suffering a variety of ailments, so I dropped it off at Toyota Tech, ran home, wrapped up a little work for Bicycle Retailer & Industry News,, and then rode my Bianchi Castro Valley over to pick it up and drove home. I can assure you that shit-for-brains season is in full swing: I had one fleawit flick a cigarette butt at me from his truck. Happily, I caught his license number and will be paying him a call sometime soon in the dead of night.

    0 6 | 2 8 | 2 0 0 5

    Tonight on Fox: More bullshit

      As the Bull Moose duly notes, the Chickenshit-in-Chief will once again employ a military backdrop to buttress his argument that the hole he has put us in is not deep enough: We must keep digging. Ordinarily I consider it the duty of a citizen to watch presidential addresses, but I'll be skipping this one, as I've had all the lies, distortions and fantasies I can bear from this outfit. It'll be enough to read the recap in tomorrow's newspaper. If Iraq is indeed "the central front on the war on terror," as Numbnuts is expected to proclaim yet again, then he has made it so. End of story.

      Meanwhile, anyone out there got a recommendation for a cell-phone company that doesn't pants you and leave you with that burning, itching sensation mentioned so discreetly in the Preparation H ads? Cingular, which recently gobbled up AT&T, caught us unawares last month with a three-figure bill, and I'll be goddamned if I'll look at another one of those. Send your recommendations to maddogmedia@qwest.net, and no GSM phones, please — they don't work in Weirdcliffe.

    0 6 | 2 4 | 2 0 0 5

    Gelded Donks try to grow a new pair

      The Democrats strove mightily to act as if they had a matching set of brass 'nads as Army Gen. John Abizaid and Secretary of Steely-Eyed Bullshit Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Abizaid seemed to speak frankly, contradicting Big Dick Cheney's assurances that the insurgency is in its last throes and warning that the troops are well aware that America's enthusiasm for an ill-conceived, illegal war is waning. But Rummy trotted out the usual two-fisted obfuscation, prompting Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy to once again call for his resignation. "This war has been consistently and grossly mismanaged," he said, according to The Boston Globe. "And we are now in a seemingly intractable quagmire." The SecDef shot back: "Well, that is quite a statement. There isn't a person at this table who agrees with you that we're in a quagmire and that there's no end in sight." Then Sen. Robert Byrd jumped in, drawing his fabled pocket copy of the Constitution like a six-shooter and barking: "''You may not like our questions, but we represent the people. 'I've had my fill of the administration forgetting that this is a constitutional system in which there are three separate, but equal, branches." Whoo hoo. Good times, boys. Several years too fucking late, but you can't have everything. Just ask the folks who are trying to make chicken salad out of the chickenshit that is the Bush budget, which spares no expense for guns but leaves little money for butter. And Speaking of the Chickenshit-in-Chief, he's under fire once again for delivering an invitation-only speech on Social Security. Gee, for a self-styled tough guy, he sure seems to be scared to face anyone who might disagree with him. Maybe if Laura held his hand . . . .

    0 6 | 1 7 | 2 0 0 5

    Who hired this asshole?

      This just in from The New York Times:

    Bush's Support on Major Issues Tumbles in Poll
    Increasingly pessimistic about Iraq and skeptical about President Bush's plan for Social Security, Americans are in a season of political discontent, giving Mr. Bush one of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and even lower marks to Congress, according to the New York Times/CBS News Poll.

      A little late for second thoughts, isn't it? This is what happens when you re-hire a serial liar and his crew to run your country without an opposition Congress and an aggressive press to provide a modicum of oversight. These arrogant bastards refuse to learn from their mistakes, or even that they have made mistakes, as longtime Dubya-watcher Molly Ivins observes. So buckle up, suckers, it's gonna a long, bumpy ride to 2008, and there aren't many rest stops along the way.

    0 6 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 5

    Crusty County Chronicles

      Spent a few days in Weirdcliffe this week after a whim drove me out of Bibleburg. On Wednesday, I developed a sudden loathing for my immediate surroundings, gassed up the rice grinder and fled with a cooler, a laptop and a bike (Steelman Eurocross No. 1, Dedacciai zero-uno). Do not neglect the day trips, as Jim Harrison has taught us. And anyway, I needed to set up the wireless network there so Herself can peruse the Vicky's Secret website with her iBook when we are in residence.

      A word to the folks at Netgear: The setup wizard and documentation for your WGR614 suck. I haven't seen that many typos, non sequiturs and shit that was just flat wrong since the last pro-rider diary I posted for VeloNews.com. So I gave up, winged it based on my extensive experience with wireless-network construction (the one in Bibleburg, which required a longish phone chat with someone in India) and presto! I got online wirelessly with my iBook via the WGR614 and our satellite dish after about 15 minutes of guesswork.

      I spent a couple days there, dicking around, riding my old loop (Brush Hollow Road, Highway 96, County Road 271 and the various horse trails and deer paths on Bear Basin Ranch), then drove back to Bibleburg, collected Herself, her iBook and my old PowerBook G3, and shot right back to Weirdcliffe for the weekend. Imagine my surprise when Shannon's iBook could see the wireless net, but not connect. As for my rock-solid Wall Street, which ticks along flawlessly with its Orinoco PC card and our ActionTec Wireless-Ready DSL Gateway in Bibleburg (thanks and a tip of the Mad Dog propeller beanie to Derek K. Miller), all it would do was crash, over and over again, like an overeager Italian in his national tour. Shit.

      Back in Bibleburg, I consulted Derek's website on taking old PowerBooks wireless and decided to switch cards. Now the Wall Street has a MacWireless card, and the booger flat cooks here . . . I'm looking forward to dragging it up to 8800 feet and seeing if I can use it to talk to God — or at least to my goddamn Netgear/DirecWay network.

    0 5 | 2 9 | 2 0 0 5

    Hey, Momma, got another buck for gas?

      Living in the city, even a half-assed one like Colorado Springs, does have its moments. Right now, I'm watching Mr. Mullet — a youngish Caucasian male with no visible means of support who lives with his mother, a Safeway clerk — use a gas-powered weed whacker to mow his lawn. In the rain. Wearing what looks like a sleeveless plastic vest and the ubiquitous nylon athletic-warmup pants favored by gangstas everywhere. He was the target of an incompetent car-bomber last year, for reasons that remain unclear. I am not making this up.

    0 5 | 2 8 | 2 0 0 5

    Dogs at Large

      This just in: Cindy O'Neill of Team Mad Dog Media-Dogs at Large Velo won the Senior Women 4/40-plus category at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Durango today, crossing in 2:59:38. And teammate Michael Schenk landed almost dead square in the middle of the Senior Men's 50-54 pack, crossing 33rd of 67 in 3:04:18. So, yes, it's true — our women beat us. Someone call the cops.

    0 5 | 2 7 | 2 0 0 5

    Video killed the radio star

      The latest advance in the ongoing wussification of TV is MTV's squabble with the band Nine Inch Nails, which Reuters says has canceled plans to appear on next week's MTV Movie Awards after the network soiled itself over the band's plans to perform "The Hand That Feeds" in front of an image of President Bush.

      According to Reuters, a Los Angeles Times review called the song "a warning against blind acceptance of authority, including that of a president leading his nation to war."

      An MTV statement pussyfooted thusly: "While we respect Nine Inch Nails' point of view, we were uncomfortable with their performance being built around a partisan political statement. When we discussed our discomfort with the band, their choice was to unfortunately pull out of the Movie Awards."

      NIN's Trent Reznor was a tad more straightforward. In a statement posted on the band's website, he said: "We were set to perform 'The Hand That Feeds' with an unmolested, straightforward image of George W. Bush as the backdrop. Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me."

      It should surprise no one that MTV is owned by Viacom Inc., the corporate masters of CBS, which sports festering rug burns at knees and elbows, plus a bad case of that "burning, itching sensation" the Preparation H ads speak of, from its shameless years of assuming the position before the Cowboy-in-Chief. I think I'll trot out and buy the entire NIN catalog for Memorial Day.

    0 5 | 0 5 | 2 0 0 5

    Welcome to the Elmer Gantry Memorial Science Building; please check your brain at the door

      I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Colorado is not alone. Kansas also is suffering a plague of Bible-thumping nitwits. God must get weary of listening to all the bad noise from this crowd of genuflecting mouth-breathers. Either that or He is laughing His ass off.

    0 5 | 0 4 | 2 0 0 5

    All the news that fits, we print

      The bad news is, according to The New York Times, "The court-martial of Pfc. Lynndie R. England, accused of abusing naked Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison, was declared a mistrial on Wednesday when a military judge threw out her guilty plea over testimony by the convicted ringleader of the scandal and father of her baby."

      The worse news is (also according to the NYT), "American officials rushing to start small building projects in a large swath of Iraq in 2003 and 2004 did not keep required records on the spending of $89.4 million in cash and cannot account at all for another $7.2 million, a federal watchdog reported yesterday."

      The good news is, Tom and Ray Magliozzi — the guys who host "Car Talk" on National Public Radio — think Dubya is something The Washington Post can't print. When the Car Talk guys visited DeeCee to schmooze with bureaucrats and grant a rare interview, Tom offered, "George Bush is a [unprintable vulgarity]." I knew there was a reason I keep supporting KRCC-FM, besides my friend and neighbor Vicky, NPR Hourly News, Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Blue Plate Special ... well, you get the idea. You can read the whole interview with Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, here.

    0 5 | 0 2 | 2 0 0 5

    Give 'em Helen

      More power to Helen Thomas, who calls out the White House press corps as a pack of gutless, sycophantic wankers: " They get to the White House because they've done a good job on the campaign, they've gotten to know the players, and they're supposed to have this kind of entrée and closeness. And then they engage in self-censorship instead of challenging everything that's being said."

    0 4 | 2 8 | 2 0 0 5

    King George speaks

      The Numbnuts-in-Chief has decided to take his "ideas" to the people in a primetime news conference tonight. It will be entertaining to see him face an audience that his handlers have not vetted for contrariness, curiosity and cognition. Of course, we're talking about the White House press corps here, which like the prez prefers cheerleading to combat, so one musn't expect too much. If I can think of anything particularly filthy and uphelpful to say, I'll post it after dinner, which is green-chile stew and hot tortillas, in order that we may make our fart noises the old-fashioned way, without resorting to hands in armpits or flubbering lips, while Mr. Eloquence stammers and smirks his way through the same old lame line of shit.

      7:05 p.m.: OK, we watched, playing our usual drinking game (sip on "nucular"), and we've reached a conclusion: From now on, we drink on, "We're makin' good progress." Jesus H. Christ. I hope you simps who put this guy back in for four more enjoyed what you saw this evening. I can't think of a way to make Dubya look any worse than he did his own bad self. And he knew he was stepping all over his own dick, too, which tells me he's not nearly as dumb as I had given him credit for. "Why would he agree to do this?" Shannon asked. "Because his back is against the wall," I replied, adding, "And all he has been able to do is prove that his back is against the wall."

      Shortly after the prez cut off the questions and stomped back into the White House, presumably to kick his dog (or his speechwriters), the nitwit pimping for ABC said Dubya "was on his game." Fuck me running. If that's his game, it's no wonder he wound up as a cheerleader.

    0 4 | 2 7 | 2 0 0 5

    Can you smell what the Senate is cookin'?

      The deluded handful among you who still think that the U.S. Senate is the greatest deliberative body in the world might like to check out this little observation by Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. A guy could find more eloquence and persuasive argument in a drunken sports dispute at the local tavern.

    0 4 | 1 8 | 2 0 0 5

    Bye-bye, Lance and Tyler

      Lance Armstrong announced today that he'll hang up the chamois post-Tour, win or lose. Meanwhile, his old comrade Tyler Hamilton posted a lengthy rebuttal to the announcement that he was being suspended for two years for homologous blood doping. Guess which of them got his picture up high on The New York Times website on Monday?

      I've only talked to Lance twice, if memory serves, and long ago. I've never spoken with Tyler, though I edited a few of his "Tyler Tunes" columns before he quit submitting them to VeloNews. Oddly, I found Tyler the more engaging of the two

    0 4 | 1 0 | 2 0 0 5

    April showers

      This is what makes spring in Colorado so ... interesting. Yeah, that's the word for it. The photo at left was taken yesterday, when I was riding the old 'cross bike in short sleeves and knickers. The others were taken today, when even a Belgian would've said, "Screw it," or whatever the Flemish equivalent is. Sorry about the soft focus on the robin (who, by the way, looked really pissed off), but I was shooting through a wet window, because the Irish say, "Screw it," long before the Belgians do.

      Meanwhile, George Hincapie just missed the win at Paris-Roubaix today. Of all the guys on the planet to ride into the Roubaix velodrome with, he gets Tom Boonen, who should be sporting a big red S on his chest and changing clothes in phone booths. I took a beating like that once, as part of a break that was setting up for the sprint at the state road championships in New Mexico one year (I can't sprint, which makes this type of finish problematical). I jumped from way out, hoping to do a Viatcheslav Ekimov-style kilo' to the line, and just as I go I hear all this evil racket behind me. Turns out a couple of guys got tangled up and either took out or slowed the rest of the break, leaving me out front with (of all people) seven-time national cyclo-cross champ Laurence Malone. He whipped me like a stupid mule at the conclusion of what was arguably the best road race I ever did. So I can feel ol' George's pain today. At least my ass-whuppin' happened on a sparsely attended frontage road east of Albuquerque and only took a couple of hours; George's required three times that, and the whole world was watching.

    0 4 | 0 8 | 2 0 0 5

    PopeWatch, Day 6: Still dead

      Do you think J2P2 is as over this endless keening as we are? Sitting up there in Heaven with Jesus, Mother Teresa and the rest, switching channels and muttering, "Isn't there anything else on? Some bowling, maybe?"

    0 4 | 0 7 | 2 0 0 5

    Car bombed

      It's happened again: A motorist with a history of driving under the influence and hit-and-run has struck and killed a cyclist. This time, it happened in Flagstaff, and the victim, Matt Kelly, had just been the recipient of some joyous news, according to The Arizona Daily Sun — his wife, Brenda, was pregnant with their first child, and his master's thesis had won the approval of the Northern Arizona University anthopology department. He celebrated with a bike ride. It would be his last. Friends and members of the Flagstaff cycling community have set up a fund for the Kellys' unborn child; the account is in the name of Brenda Kelly, No. 450051371, at Arizona State Savings and Credit Union. Here's hoping that by the time the kid gets a bike, we'll have run out of gas, drunks or both.

    0 4 | 0 6 | 2 0 0 5

    OK, now who should get off the road?

      If you want to read something that will cause you to emit a sound guaranteed to scare the bagels out of the guy in the next cubicle, cast your peepers on this. Seven DUI arrests, four convictions — that we know of — and one dead cyclist. Three hots and a cot in some state institution is too good for a guy like this. Maybe a few laps around St. Peter's Basilica in a "Fuck the Pope" jersey?

    * * *

      Meanwhile, there's nothing like a change of pace to freshen the brain. The legs were not good on Monday's run, so I took Tuesday off (it helped that it was damp and gray, with the sort of evil wind that only Tom DeLay could generate). Today, the wind was still a bit stiff for cycling, so I went for another run, this time on Templeton Trail in Palmer Park, which dips in and out of the trees and is sheltered from northerly breezes. This is a fine trail for mountain biking, with everything from easy glides your granny could ride on a unicycle with a martini in one hand to heart-stoppers that a stone-cold-sober millipede would have trouble navigating afoot. Afeet? Whatever. In any case, it makes for an excellent hourlong run, if you splice in a couple of the lesser trails, and is blessedly free of poodle-walkers, equestrians and wandering zombies plugged into some electronic wonderland. I'd forgotten how much I like it, even though I almost took a digger running a downhill that looked very much like the Highway to Hell. Not yet, Satan, old boy; not yet.

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    Write it like you stole it

      As usual, VeloNews.com's annual April Fool's story caught a few of its readers napping — including, apparently, John Powers of The Boston Globe. After VeloNews.com ran this fictitious bit about UCI's Hein Verbruggen daring WADA's Dick Pound to try his job on for size, and Pound agreeing, Powers ran this . . . and under his own byline, too, on the same day that colleague Gareth Cook won a Pulitzer "for explaining, with clarity and humanity, the complex scientific and ethical dimensions of stem cell research." That's gotta feel about like having a drunk on the subway suddenly wake up while you're lifting his wallet on the same day that the College of Cardinals names your brother the new pope. Kudos to Charles Pelkey for playing a fine game of snooker.

      The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph suckered The Greeley Tribune in similar fashion when I was working there back in the Seventies. The staff faked up a photo of a local pickle farmer inspecting a bumper crop (reporter Don Branning in a planter's hat, examining a plump dill tied to a tree across the street from the Gazette). We ran it on the Metro front, then put it on The Associated Press wire just for giggles; the Tribune ran the shot on its Farm page despite the photo credit, which read, "GT photo by Aprylle Foole" or some such shit. Just 'cause it's written down don't make it true, Bubba. Just look at this site, f'chrissakes.

    * * *

      Meanwhile, I've decided that this whole earbud-to-the-electronic-device thing has outlived its usefulness. I saw a tool in the King Soopers this afternoon who had routed his hands-free-cellular-phone wire from his belt holster underneath his sweater and up to his ear as if he were a Secret Service agent instead of a pudgy gobshite talking to the wifey about what to score for din-din at the grocery. These people are the lame animals in our global herd and must be treated as such. They can't hear the lions coming. So whether they're jabbering on their cell phones or listening to Britney on their iPods, feel free to slip up behind them and give them a good, hard dopeslap with something heavy, like a crowbar or a copy of the Report From the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, and then root through their pockets at your leisure, without fear of retribution. Strip the silly sods right down to their boxers. You're entitled to everything they have on them. It's Darwinian.

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    It's pronounced, 'Pull it, sir'

      Shunned by the Pulitzer committee again. Oh, the shame. At least I have my millions to keep me warm. Too bad there isn't a Pulitzer Prize for Talking Out of Your Ass to No Particular Purpose. I could crack the top 10 in that bad boy.

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    Marching off

      March is grinding to a frosty halt, and I couldn't be happier. Away with it. What with birthdays, the Terri Schiavo circus, snow, Tom DeLay, fat, the IRS, late paychecks, the Bush brothers, gas prices, Social Security, Ward Churchill, Fred Phelps and the rest of the mouth-breathing nitwits from the Westboro Baptist Church, I have had a more or less permanent headache for 31 days. Away with it, I say.

      Tomorrow, April 1, is supposed to be sunny and warm, and thus of course it is my day in the barrel at VeloNews.com, where coverage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic is on tap. We have a guy there, Fred Dreire, and don't I wish I was there with him, because I need a road trip like Dick Cheney needs fresh human blood. I could provide the color commentary from some sunny patio bar via cell phone and wireless laptop, and whenever communications with the boys in the trenches got a bit spotty I could just start making shit up. Like how the Creature from the Black Lagoon lunged out of a sinkhole during the Oak Glen Road Race and devoured the entire Jelly Belly squad, or the Bush daughters were pulling a train in the Health Net bus; you know, anything other than the same old "we had three guys in the break and so we worked 'em over pretty good" sort of piffle. A howler monkey could handle that if you gave him a Blackberry and a banana, no offense to Fred.

      Come to think of it, this is probably why I'm in Colorado, helping update the website, instead of getting a third-degree burn on my scalp at some Southern California fern bar, generating business for libel attorneys. Oh, well, there's always Sea Otter. . . .

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    Icing on the ... icing

      Judas Priest, it's snowing again. Beating this weather to the punch for a spot of healthful outdoor exercise is like trying to dodge a sniper with one foot in a bucket. I raced the rain-slash-sleet-slash-snow home yesterday after a quick hour of cyclo-cross, and squeaked out for a 45-minute run this morning before things got ugly, but damme if it doesn't look as though I will be getting hosed out of my ride with the Dogs tomorrow. I've reassembled the old stationary trainer, but I'd almost rather live with an ass the size of an Escalade than ride the friggin' thing. No doubt this is some sort of payback for making crucifixion jokes on Easter Sunday. Buddha wouldn't do this to a brutha.

      Speaking of Easter Sunday and my 51st birthday, if you happen to be in Colorado Springs, hungry and in possession of money, you could do far worse than dine at the Blue Star on South Tejon, especially if it's Sunday, when the bottles of wine are half price. We ate there in honor of my continuing slide toward the grave, and it was delightful. So was Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, who is now my patron saint. But the evil Yankee sedan escaped unscathed after its owner finally moved it for the first time in two weeks. Happily, I now know where the owner resides, and where her mailbox is located, and there is no end of dogshit and lighter fluid available to me in this neighborhood of grillers and canine fanciers. I rarely get mad, but I often get even. Unless getting even would involve a federal crime, of course, in which case we are speaking of parody, satire and humor, you Homeland Security tightasses, you.

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    The Easter Spaniel leaves brown eggs

      It is Easter Sunday, I have just turned 51 years of age, and the gallons of beer I drank last night by way of preparation for yet another grim milestone between birth and the grave went straight to my ass, which I subsequently covered in Lycra and towed up and down our local hills, scaring small children and elderly dog-walkers. Now I am freshly shorn and showered and preparing for another vile evening whistling into empty bottles, of wine this time, before watching the collected works of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and pulling the valve cores on all four tires of the undistinguished Yankee sedan that has been parked in front of my house for two weeks now, taking the place of my fine Japanese pickup truck, which I must leave across the street. Jesus wouldn't do it, I know. But consider what happened to him. Get even before they nail you up, is what I'm telling you. Especially if you're in your 50s. Time is running out, and ain't none of us getting any younger.

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    I'll have death, hold the vegetable, please

      OK, listen up: If some angry reader dents my skull with a 2-by-4, or one of my training rides concludes abruptly under the wheels of some soccer mom's Suburban, and my choices are (a) a hellish science-fiction existence in some hospital, wearing the vacant look of the post-lobotomy Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," or (b) unplugging and floating off to see The Wizard, well, then, I choose (b). Finish the job someone else started and kill my ass, please. Don't let a rabble of goggle-eyed, Bible-thumping, two-bit Elmer Gantrys link arms with the poll-watching, electioneering, right-to-life douchebags in D.C. and decree that I continue to "live" like poor Terri Schiavo. These shameless hucksters will try any strategem to keep you from noticing what they're dealing you from the bottom of the deck — the whorish shenanigans of Tom DeLay, the Social Security hogwash, the relentless and illegal propagandizing of an administration so fearful of criticism that it hand-picks sycophants, nitwits and flacks to pack its faux "town hall meetings" — and the media let them get away with it every time. "Sure, our children's future may involve eating out of Dumpsters, Martha, but at least Congress has Mark McGwire on the griddle and he's getting all weepy." Jesus Christ. These swine would sell their children to Purina for dog food if they thought it would help win an election or advance their agenda. So don't forget to update your will with specific instructions regarding life support, unless you want Tom DeLay to make that decision for you. And if you see me grinning emptily from a hospital bed somewhere, someday, please — kill me.

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    Cut, cut, cut

      OK, the Academy Awards suck. That's a given. Why this glitter-speckled masturbatory extravaganza celebrating the lowest common denominator should draw more attention than a 4-year-old poking his nose onstage in a preschool theatrical is, frankly, beyond me. But this has to be a new low, even for Oscar. Someone in Hollywood needs to grow a pair, if not to oppose the New Puritans, then to ensure that something like "Napoleon Dynamite" never, ever happens again.

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    A gay old time

      Frank Rich goes to town on Jeff Gannon/James Guckert's infiltration of the White House press corps, suggesting that it may finally be time for Jon Stewart to take over Dan Rather's chair at CBS News. Maureen Dowd chimes in, too, noting: "I was rejected for a White House press pass at the start of the Bush administration, but someone with an alias, a tax evasion problem and Internet pictures where he posed like the "Barberini Faun" is credentialed to cover a White House that won a second term by mining homophobia and preaching family values?"

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    Back in the saddle again

      OK, so it's been nearly a month since the last update here. I'll be happy to refund the price of your subscription, just as soon as Dubya slips into a tight cocktail dress, spike heels and some really slutty makeup to croon, "Hey, Big Spender," to a oil-company executive on prime-time TV.

      I've been fiddling with the home page a little, trying to make it a tad less busy, and I'm in the process of adding more old BRAIN columns to the Dog Breath section, so keep an eye peeled for fresh recycled reading matter hot from the Pismo's hard drive over the next few days, as I am presently between deadlines and need to get my idle hands busy. The Devil's Workshop, don't you know.

      Meantime, if you're desperate for something to read, pop on by VeloNews.com, where a couple of fresh "Foaming Rants" popped up last week. One of them cost the magazine a subscription from a Nebraskan who apparently buys his panties a couple of sizes too small, so they'll appreciate some eyeballs on the site by way of recompense.

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    Four more years

      Seventy degrees, sunny and windless. A perfect day, if you overlook the coronation of King George. With that abortion taking place in Washington, D.C., there should be an endless rain of black blood, poison toads and boiling urine. But there wasn't, so I went for a long ride on my favorite Steelman and tried not to think about the stormy days ahead, with this piratical crew at the wheel. Here's another quote from Thomas Jefferson, if like me you're having a hard time maintaining your equilibrium on Inauguration Day:

    "The spirit of 1776 is not dead. It has only been slumbering. The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvers, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But times and truth dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes." — Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Lomax, 1799.

      Or you could crack a bottle or two of brain eraser and listen to a little Steve Earle, who also has been getting crankier. The optimism of "Christmas in Washington," from the CD "El Corazón," in which Earle sings ...

    So come back Emma Goldman
    Rise up, old Joe Hill
    The barricades are going up
    They cannot break our will
    Come back to us Malcolm X
    and Martin Luther King
    We're marchin' into Selma
    as the bells of freedom ring
    ... has by "Jerusalem" given way to the bleakness of "Conspiracy Theory" ...
    What if I told you it was done with mirrors
    What if I showed you it was all a lie
    Better be careful someone might hear ya
    The walls have ears and the sky has eyes
    What if I said you were only dreamin'
    What you wanna bet that all you gotta do
    Is open up your eyes and you will wake up screamin'
    When you realize that it's all come true

      Jesus. What anti-American horrors is "The Revolution Starts Now" likely to unleash upon a red-blooded 'Murkin boy like m'sef? "Rich Man's War" ... "F the CC" ... holy shit! Maybe I should be listening to Toby Keith like everybody else. 'Cause the walls have ears and the sky has eyes ....

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    On the Mark

      I'm not a big fan of Mark Morford. He's a little shrill and formulaic for my taste. Still, every now and then he gives a hideous life to the unresolved notions floating around in my own head, and you gotta like him for that. I expect most of his mail is opened by robots in a bombproof, hermetically sealed basement.

      Meanwhile, Big Jim Dobson of Focus on the Family, apparently not content to badger Republicans who might find their Christian-cretinoid shock troops a little too brown-shirted for prime time, has launched a putsch against kiddy kartoon karacter SpongeBob SquarePants, who apparently is gayer than Tinky-Winky, Barney Frank and the Village People all rolled into one sordid, K-Y'd pile. A spokesman for the We Are Family Foundation suggested that Dobson and his little buddies might "need medication." Have they found a cure for Dumber than Boiled Gravel yet? Maybe we need another telethon.

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    Fried Rice

      Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wok'd Bush's dog, Condi Rice, during the secretary of state-designate's Senate confirmation hearings on Tuesday. It was a complete and utter waste of invective, as Condi is certain to be confirmed, but here's their exchange anyway. Ol' Barb has bigger balls than most of the men in the Democratic Party. She called Condi everything short of beeyitch. Meanwhile, the Center for American Progress proposes eight questions for Ms. Rice. How many of them do you think will get asked ... or more importantly, answered?

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    NPR braves Bibleburg

      Jesus H. Christ (if I may be so bold). "All Things Considered" just did a piece on Colorado Springs that makes the joint sound like Taliban HQ West, with "Beverly Hillbillies" overtones. Even worse, the author is a distant cousin of mine, a Jeff Brady (the Bradys were an obscure offshoot of the O'Gradys who proved too lazy to steal whisky from the English, or even hoist a glass on the rare occasion that someone else was buying, and instead sat, naked, with their fat asses sunk deep in barrels of homemade poteen, drawing the liquid up osmotically through their bungholes). You can catch his act here. I shot 'em a quick e-mail reminding them that not everyone in Detroit drives a Ford, despite the auto industry's strong presence there.

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    Will Eisner, R.I.P.

      Will Eisner, the comic-book pioneer who created The Spirit and influenced many another scribbler, including Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Jules Feiffer and me, has passed on at 87. You can catch some of the late master's act here. There doesn't seem to be much from The Spirit up there, so if I can unearth one of my old copies from the Dog Dungeon, I'll post a panel or two. Damn, he was good.

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