Burned Cello

Burned cello

A rental house around the corner burned down the other day. Two alarms, a big blaze at 12:30 in the morning, embers flying down the block. There but for the love of God and a candle on the wooden deck go I, you think.

One of the guys in the house was apparently a bit of a musician; as I was walking by on my way to the store yesterday night, I saw the back of what looked like a large guitar propped up against the stairs then, on the return trip I saw something I’d missed from the direction I was walking: one cello, heavily singed.

Back in grade school — in those long-ago days of music enrichment programs — I was assigned to play the viola. But my little birth defect made holding and fingering a viola exceedingly difficult, so they switched me to cello. All I can say is, seeing the burned cello made me sad, even though lugging a cello a mile and a half home after school was a lot more work than carring the viola.

My Buddy Went to Sturgis and All He Got Was a Racist T-Shirt

Some years back, one of the guys I shared an office with was an attendee at the Sturgis biker rally in August, where this year John McCain spoke and suggested his wife might participate in the (sometimes topless and/or bottomless) Miss Buffalo Chip pageant. My friend was a solidly middle-class graphic designer who had a nice Harley, and he and a couple of buddies headed out there several times while we worked together.

One of the years he came back with a t-shirt that was just blatantly racist. It was a fairly well-done piece of t-shirt design, but the words on the shirt were hard to ignore, and I told him so. He didn’t wear the shirt into the office any more.

But I doubt that things have changed there much in the past decade. So I have to wonder if McCain’s visit to the land of a thousand (and probably many more) racist t-shirts will go unnoticed.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Rude One for the link. Could the campaign media covering the McCain visit possibly have missed the racist materials available at Sturgis? Perhaps, like my friend, they just thought it was all in good fun.

Faking It

From Ron Suskind’s new book, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth and Hope in an Age of Extremism

By then [late 2003], the White House had finally thought of a way to use [former Iraqi intelligence chief Tahir Jalil] Habbush. … The White House had concocted a fake letter from Habbush to Saddam, backdated to July 1, 2001. It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq — thus showing, finally that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda…. The letter also mentioned suspicious shipments to Iraq from Niger set up with al Qaeda’s assistance. The idea was to take the letter to Habbush and have him transcribe it in his own neat handwriting on a piece of Iraqi government stationery, to make it look legitimate. CIA would then take the finished product to Baghdad and have someone release it to the media.

C’mon, couldn’t they do any better than faking letters from a guy named HABBUSH? That’s not even trying.

I Thought You Were Dead

Ernest Borgnine as 'Cabbie' in a special edition of 'Escape From New York'

Ernest Borgnine, interviewed about his new autobiography:

Q. What is your current hobby?

A. My wife bought me a Smart Car. It’s the passion of my life right now and I’m having a ball with it. I’ve had it up to 85 miles per hour just to see how fast it would go and it wound up pretty good. They’ve got plenty of room inside, but they’re for two people.
I went to Italy to make a picture and I saw this little car and said I just gotta have one. Man, they’re just the loveliest things you’ve ever seen and they run on three and a half cylinders and eight gallons of gasoline and they go! They take off and get you where you want to go very easily and very quickly and as nicely as any big car would do.

What we need is a Borgnine/Redman mashup.

Remember That Harass Is Two Words

Discussing today’s AP story about letters from then-legislative staffer (and now state representative) Debbie Boone complaining about current state treasurer candidate Ben Westlund a decade ago, Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon writes:

One thing I do know: Rep. Debbie Boone has endorsed Ben Westlund.

The article mentions three incidents from the letter, more than Westlund admitted to back in 2006 when the issue first came to light:

The letter, written by Boone and dated June 30, 1997, describes separate incidents that year in which Westlund, then a Republican House member, touched her hip, grabbed her upper leg and, at legislative party, “reached up my skirt and rubbed my leg.”

“I lowered my voice and said to him directly that he should knock it off,” Boone said in her letter to the Oregon House chief clerk’s office.

The version in the print edition of the Oregonian has more detail than the online story:

The first incident occurred when Westlund touched her hip. “When I responded with a shocked response, he told me to remember that the term ‘harass’ has two words while looking at me with a challenging stare,” she wrote.

Back when a rumor about this first surfaced in a comment at Blue Oregon it was poo-poohed as insubstantial. At the time, Boone and Westlund portrayed what went on as simply an “inappropriate hug”, and a follow-up post by “blueoregon admin” called it “much ado about nothing,” treating it as an “unsupported claim” and “silly.”

Well, it doesn’t look so silly now.

And despite what Boone says about Westlund being a friend now, it’s highly unlikely that Westlund’s behavior with her was an isolated incident. Westlund was nearly 50 years old at the time he was sticking his hand up Boone’s skirt. Most guys don’t suddenly turn into dicks in middle age. Most of the time, they’ve been dicks all their lives. How many other Debbie Boone’s are there? Is it likely that they’ve all forgiven and endorsed Westlund?

What’s really crazy about this is that Boone’s letter has Westlund making a pun about her ass just two years after Bob Packwood — then a member of the same party in the same state as Westlund — was forced to resign from the US Senate because of charges of sexual harassment. Not too bright.