Monday, March 28, 2005





Monday, March 21, 2005

They say opinions are like assholes; everybody's got one. Well, a lot of assholes are weighing in on the Terry Schiavo case. I'm not going to claim to know what a vegetative woman's wishes are, but there's another issue here that nobody seems to be talking about, which I think is just as important. In the ever-more-unlikely event that Terry Schiavo's husband is allowed to let her die, is denying her whatever flavorless mush they've been force-feeding her for fifteen years and letting her starve to death over the course of two agonizing weeks really the most humane way to go about it?

When my father's cancer was in its final stages, he was in bad shape. He couldn't speak, respond, take care of himself, roll over in bed, even open his eyes. The only thing he could do was breathe on his own -- barely. And that was enough to keep him alive. He had been steadily deteriorating for over a year, and there was no hope he would recover. My stepmom took him out of the hospital so he could die at home, because that was the humane thing to do. One day, I got a call telling me I needed to come back to New Jersey to see him -- now. This was it.

Only it wasn't it. He wasn't eating anymore, and my stepmom had stopped trying to feed him. So the end was near, but no one knew how near. By that time, he barely resembled my father anymore, and his breathing became more and more labored as his lungs filled with fluid.

People kept saying that he wasn't in any pain, and given that none of them had medical degrees, it started to sound more like they were trying to convince themselves than that they were repeating something a doctor had said. He sure sounded like he was in pain. Plus, he hadn't gotten up from his bed in weeks, so he couldn't have been very comfortable. We knew he was going to die -- and soon. We weren't expecting any more of his jokes or a smile or even any eye contact from him, and we had no idea whether he could even hear us or if he knew we were standing next to him, holding his hand. All we were doing was waiting out the inevitable.

I know that this is a very sensitive issue. Any time you threaten someone's vision of God, emotions are bound to run a little high. Well, as I see it, God, if there is one, seems perfectly willing to let us sort these things out for ourselves. And if there is some Judgment awaiting us, I'd be ready to defend doing anything I could to ease the suffering of a loved one. Morality, as I see it, doesn't come from listening to religious leaders or politicians or hordes of screaming protesters on either side of an issue. It's being able to tune all those people out and just do what you know is right. By that definition, standing by and watching my father suffer was probably the most immoral thing I've ever done.

It's sad that a movie about euthanasia can win Best Picture (sorry, time's up; I'm spoiling it), but we still can't have a reasoned debate on the subject. Drew told me this morning that he didn't ever want to live like Terry Schiavo, and if it ever comes down to it, he won't have to. It's just sad that Terry Schiavo has to live that way, and that her fate isn't going to be determined by the people who love her but by a bunch of politicians using her as a political football. She's going to die someday, but I'm sure that the debate about how it should've happened never will.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005


Sunday, March 13, 2005

I know this has been the cruelest season ever, but in the last couple of weeks, American Idol has actually softened up a little and been a bit more humane with their dismissals. So I'm back, and I make no apologies.

And now that the show is being nice, here's my not-nice assessment of the finalists. If any of them stumbles across this site, please don't take it personally. You're all just cute as a button to me, I swear to gosh!

(And note: I'm just sharing my personal preferences, not predicting the order they'll be eliminated in. America, in addition to getting other national elections wrong, apparently prefers Scott Savol to Nikko Smith, so who cares what they think anymore.)

12. Lindsey Cardinale - Of all the remaining contestants, Lindsey was the only one I really couldn't remember at all. I would've remembered her if she'd been bad, but I also would've remembered her if she'd been better than average. And if you don't stand out after three weeks of semi-finals, you can't be all that special.

11. Scott Savol - I really don't understand his appeal. He doesn't look like an American idol, as the judges might say (in order to avoid saying something far crueler), he doesn't sing that well and he came off as kind of an asshole in the early weeks of the show. Who's voting for him? People who like tinted glasses? How he got more votes than Nikko Smith last week, I'll never know.

10. Anthony Federov - Sorry to be the jerk here, but all Anthony has going for him is a faint resemblance to Clay Aiken and a grade-A sob story. He's a decent singer, but he's way out of his league. I'm hoping he can only ride the sympathy vote so far because he really doesn't deserve to make it any further.

9. Constantine Maroulis - Tons of charisma, ounces of talent. In fact, maybe his charisma really only weighs a few pounds. All he's got going for him is the novelty angle and the schticky but memorable introduction he got when he "quit" his "band". Simon's right: if this were "Rock Idol", he never even would've gotten a call back. Match him up with Bo Bice and that's more clear than ever.

7-8. Jessica Sierra & Carrie Underwood - I'm still not sure which one's the rock one and which one's the country one, but they're both pretty good, and they smile real nice.

6. Vonzell Solomon. Wonderful voice, very charming, and her version of "Respect" earned her quite a bit of mine. Vonzell is this year's Trenyce. She should drop the last name and drop out somewhere around the middle of the show. Now for the love of God, no more Alicia Keys!

5. Anwar Robinson - A few weeks ago, he might've been my #1, because he has a great voice and a sweet disposition. But, honestly, could this guy be any cheesier? Like we really needed another mid-tempo lite-jazz arrangement of "What's Goin' On" or "What a Wonderful World". I'll bet you a million dollars he knows every De La Soul album by heart. Whoever's voting for him are the same people who made that awful Black Eyed Peas song "Where Is the Love" a #1 hit. Please, Anwar. That neo-hippie ghetto love nonsense was a bunch of manufactured bullshit long before you stole it from Arrested Development. I dare you to sing "Sex Machine". Do it, and all will be forgiven.

4. Mikalah Gordon - She's like Fran Drescher meets Avril Lavigne, and even though I can't stand either of them, strangely, that's a good thing. Call her cocky if you want to. She's got personality -- and the talent to back up her attitude. And if you haven't seen her vulnerability show through, you haven't been paying attention. Even when her singing is just OK, like last week's performance of "Somewhere", she's always entertaining.

3. Nadia Turner - Why do the judges keep saying she doesn't have a great voice? She kinda does. At least I agree with them about what a dynamic performer she is. She gives it her all every time she takes the stage, and if she secretly sucks, she sure fooled me.

2. Nikko Smith - My second-favorite contestant has already been cut -- and reinstated. So maybe I don't have my finger on the pulse of America, but I stand by my assessment: he's a major talent. What Nikko understands that most of the others don't is that a song -- or a good one, at least -- is actually about something, and if you sing it well, the audience knows how you feel about the song's subject matter. 2/3 of these kids, if they had sung "Let's Get It On", you would've thought they were singing a meatloaf recipe. But when Nikko sang it, you knew it was about, you know, sex.

1. Bo Bice - Bo is probably the only person at this stage who really deserves to win. Not just a great singer, not just a fabulous performer, but a true one-of-a-kind bigger-than-life personality. He's got a great act, and the reason it works is that it never seems like an act. I don't even like classic rock, but when he sings it, I do. Let's hope he doesn't get slaughtered when the producers start doing their theme weeks and everyone's forced to sing something from the "classic catalogue" of DeBarge. Not that he couldn't bang out a kick-ass rendition of "Rhythm of the Night", mind you... He's that good.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's nice...

  • To have no lines at the polling place.

  • To know that no matter what the results are, you'll sleep well tonight.

  • To mark your ballot in under a minute and get back home to see the cover of the new Harry Potter book revealed on the "Today Show".

  • To have an election that doesn't really matter.

  • To have an election that isn't about good vs. evil.

  • To use the "eenie, meenie, miney, moe" system for all those silly little local races full of people you've never heard of and which nobody gives endorsements for.

  • To make peace with the flaws of inkavote and the incompetence of the polling place workers. If they don't count my ballot... eh!
Today, at last, I feel like a true American.

Somebody wake me when Gary Coleman's running for something again.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

  1. “A free rental car? That sounds terrific! Thanks!”

  2. Wait 20 minutes for driver to show up to take you to rental car office.

  3. Drive less than 1/4 mile to rental car office.

  4. Fill out paperwork for rental car. Decline insurance because you’re kinda sorta sure you’re already covered by your regular car insurance.

  5. Accept keys for one of those really goofy rectangular breadbox-looking mini SUV things you make fun of other people for driving.

  6. Check around you to make sure no one you know can see you climbing inside as you hang your head in embarrassment.

  7. Drive 1 mile to work.

  8. Explain situation to coworkers who see you driving up in hideous “new” car.

  9. Realize work is less than 1 mile from the dealer and you could’ve been there half an hour ago if you’d just walked.

  10. Work for four hours.

  11. Get call from the dealer that your car is ready.

  12. Begin process of returning rental car.


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