Not to excuse the Donald, but…

Categories: Rumination
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Published on: September 21, 2015

A guy called me today at the office to inform me of a crime spree I hadn’t yet been aware of: Mexicans, he said, are going into our hospitals and stealing babies.

The method of theft is to hide the babies in oversized purses (he didn’t say “oversized,” but it’s the only way this would work, right?) and make an unobtrusive getaway.

“They are just putting them in purses and they walk right out,” he said.

I suppose I could have asked him for details of this scheme. Heck, it might have been fun. Is this organized or some sort of leaderless resistance to perceived Anglo tyranny? What do they do with the babies? How do they have room for stolen babies with so many “anchor babies” that they have just to collect welfare? How is Raúl Grijalva involved in this?

I didn’t do that. Instead, I thanked him and assured him that the councilmember will give this news all the attention it deserves.

The other day, I was on a panel at a forum on issues facing the elderly. A woman I wasn’t sure I recognized got up and started to talk about fraud being committed against older folks. Then, things turned more sinister when she started talking about Mexicans being the main perpetrator of this. It was about then that I recognized her as a woman that rants at mayor and council meetings about Aztlan (she thinks that’s an organized group rather than a concept of aging Chicano activists, apparently) and the Catholic Church plotting to wreck America in some way or another. Sure enough, that’s the direction she went.

Even if she had a marginally sane point, she went on way too long. I don’t know why the person holding her mike didn’t snatch it away and give her a curt “Thank you.”

Eventually, she finished. I looked over at the fire chief, who was also on the panel, and he looked at me, both of us with a silent, “You want to take this one?”

The person holding the mike looked over at the panel and said “Do any of you have anything to say?”

I was thinking of mentioning my time in MEChA (Aztlan was part of our name, after all) and letting her know that most of our time was spent raising money for scholarships and get togethers at South Tucson restaurants. I thought better of it.

Everyone else had the same idea. It was a mix of motives: the impossibility of addressing her bizarre allegations and the hope that silence was the best answer.

Really, confronting her would have wrecked the whole event. Instead of having what could have ended up a screaming match and a lone bozo considering herself a martyr to free expression and her rather twisted version of the truth, we ignored the comments and talked about things like hearing aids, transportation issues for people who no longer drive and senior poverty. Basically, we got to talk about what we showed up to talk about.

It’s a tough line to draw. The loudmouth uncle shows up at a family gathering and talks about what the queers are doing to our precious bodily fluids and you stop yourself because the confrontation might be uglier than what was being said. You wave and say a nice hello when walking by the house with the confederate flag and the “Hands off, Barack” sign.

Of course, like everything in politics this Summer and Fall, this brings us to Donald Trump. None of this excuses Trump, who seemed to be showing agreement with the ridiculous comments that a man made at his “town hall” meeting last week. Civility doesn’t mean saying “right on” to every hateful thing somebody says. Could Trump have just said “next question”? Yeah, probably. I think his response says that he’s now being led around by the monster he’s created.

How are the rest of us supposed to handle nonsense like this? I try my best to confront when I can. “Dude, when you say spick, you are talking about my mom,” is among my favorites. One of the reasons we’ve come so far over the last fifty years or so is because plenty of people have said, “Hey, that’s not cool.” Still, this can end up being a big game of whack-a-mole: we spend all our time finding outrage and we’re left with little time to get the important work in front of us done. Maybe that’s the strategy of the Trumps of the world.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Calling Alanis…or Lalo…

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: September 16, 2015

If you are on the hunt for irony, check this gem from TCC Today:

On September 8, 2015, the Tucson Community Center (TCC) Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places at the National Level of Significance!


Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

“Unlike some people I can name…”

Categories: Random Miscelany
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Published on: July 18, 2015

The National Writers Union wanted a capsule bio from me to distribute at next month’s delegate assembly. I quickly did one up and sent it. The response was came back just as quickly.

Perfect. You are clearly a professional writer who can write to specifications – and do so quickly. Thanks – Barbara Beckwith

Nice to hear, but I wonder if it also means that she gets a bit frustrated trying to get the others in the group to respond on deadline.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Find the Pizza!

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: June 10, 2015

Capcha has always irritated me, although I understand its purpose. As long as there are jackasses who somehow manage to make a living by setting up phony baloney sites and posting hundreds of spam messages, we’ll need it.

The thing that has bugged me is that the “type what you see” words sometimes include easily confused characters like ones or o’s. How can I figure that out, especially since you guys oh so cleverly warped it?

Anyway, they have a new thing. Capcha will put up a quiz like this:


I’ve also seen “Find the pizza!” and “Find the salad!” I don’t know if it’s an improvement or not. I guess it will stick until some guy in Belarus cracks it so he can make a dummy porn bot account.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

That time Harvey Pekar got banned from Letterman

Categories: Comic Books
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Published on: May 20, 2015

Salon has a piece this morning on Harvey Pekar’s last appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. The headline’s emphasis is on Letterman, which makes sense given it is his last week on the air.

Never saw it? Not to worry, there is a grainy YouTube video:

I never got the impression that Letterman was angry at Pekar so much for the anti-GE talk as much as that Pekar was being an asshole. Oh course, the fact that Pekar was an asshole is a lot of why we liked him, and the reason he got on the show in the first place.

American SplendorSomething I found funny back when the American Splendor movie was released ten years ago was how often Pekar would be referred to as a “David Letterman guest.” I guess being on TV a few times give you more cred that a mere comic book writer.

Pekar made sure he got the last word. The exchange was portrayed in American Splendor #14 (“The David Letterman Exploitation Issue”).

Interestingly, despite the vitriol that Pekar seemed to display in the interview, the portrayal in the comic (a story called “The Grand Finale”) of David Letterman is relatively respectful. Mostly, this is that Pekar’s “voice” in the story is that of a detached observer. He is only reporting on what happened. Also, as Two Geeks Talking notes, Pekar’s telling is also an admission that, much like his portrayal of himself in his comics, he may have ramped up his own irascibility to make for better TV.

Despite his honest telling of the exchange, he censored it a wee bit.

AS Image 9

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Geek Question of the Day

Categories: Snarky Complaints
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Published on: May 13, 2015

Okay, everyone (well, nearly everyone) knows the error in Star Wars where Han Solo brags about completing the Kessal Run in 12 parsecs. Parsecs measure distance and not time, and no one buys George Lucas’s explanation that he knew that all along and meant that Solo knew a short cut or some such nonsense.

Pointing out the error has become one of those ways to show that you are “in the know” as a Star Wars fan. But, here’s the thing that gets me: why would Solo or anyone in a “Galaxy far, far away” be using parsecs to measure anything?

A parsec is approximately three and a quarter light years and has been in use for about a century. It is based on the distance from which the Earth and the Sun would appear one second of arc away from each other. Given the difference in sizes, it is doubtful that the Earth would appear at all if it is that far in apparent distance from the Sun. Never mind that though; it is in common use in astronomy.

Here’s the trouble: how would some guy from Alderaan establish what a parsec is? Is there some definition like, “Hey, you know that star? If there was a planet 93 million miles from it, how far away would you have to be for them to be an arcsecond apart? That’s my new measurement!”

Obviously, someone didn’t think this through.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Not quite incognito

Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: May 5, 2015

A van with the KVOA logo pulls up and the window rolls down. A woman wearing sunglasses who is clearly Lupita Murrillo pokes her head out.

“Excuse me. I’m a reporter with channel 4.”

I had that figured.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Jury Duty

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Published on: April 23, 2015

On jury duty today, so yes, I am typing this from one of those computers they have in case we get bored.

So, I show up promptly at 7:25 and I’m asked to put my bag in the plastic box and empty my pockets of all metal objects. I manage to get through the metal detector without a beep (I set it off at the board of supervisors the other day), and I watch my bag go through the metal detector.

“Sir, could you take out your harmonica?”

My what? I had forgotten it was even in there.

“Are you kidding?”

“You need to take it out and claim it later.”

Who knew?

I didn’t have my melodica, which would have been harder to squirrel away in a bag. I know from personal experience that it’s contraband at both RFK Stadium and the StubHub Center.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

Leroy Dyson

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Published on: April 2, 2015

One of my earliest friendships I made in the Democratic Party was Leroy Dyson. I’d say I knew him since I was sixteen or so. He passed away last week, and his funeral mass was on Friday.

One of the readers at the mass was former state legislator Larry Bahill, who was a long time friend of Leroy from both of their times at Pima County. He read a passage from the Book of Wisdom. If you haven’t heard of the Book of Wisdom, it might be because it is part of the Catholic version of the Old Testament, but not the Jewish or Protestant ones. It all came down to a dispute between Jerome and Augustine that boiled over again a dozen centuries later.

I asked St. Pius X Church for a copy of the passage. It was from chapter 4:

The just man, though he die early,
shall be at rest.
For the age that is honorable comes not
with the passing of time,
nor can it be measured in terms of years.
Rather, understanding is the hoary crown for men, and an unsullied life, the attainment of old age.
He who pleased God was loved;
he who lived among sinners was transported—
Snatched away, lest wickedness pervert his mind
or deceit beguile his soul;
For the witchery of paltry things obscures what is right
and the whirl of desire transforms the innocent mind. Having become perfect in a short while,
he reached the fullness of a long career;
for his soul was pleasing to the LORD,
therefore he sped him out of the midst of wickedness. But the people saw and did not understand,
nor did they take this into account.

I checked my own Bible, and in that translation “hoary crown” is “gray hair.” Anyone that knew Leroy remembers that perfect white halo of hair he had, and that near permanent smile. I’ll miss saying hi to him at party events.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.


Categories: Old Pueblo
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Published on: March 19, 2015

I hadn’t been paying attention to the weather reports, so when it was cold and cloudy yesterday I was kind of shocked. It’s almost like March weather or something.

My favorite part about a storm coming in is what the clouds do to the Catalina Mountains. From most parts of town, they look like a painting. I can perceive some texture there, but it can be hard to tell where one particular ridge line separates one mountain from the one behind it. Then the clouds move in. I can see the misty separation between the ridges. When the storm hasn’t quite moved over the entire range, I can see the southernmost ridges stand out all alone on a hazy gray and white background.

You can tell the natives from the noobs by who actually appreciates the storms around here.

Hasta la proxima. Do zobaczenia.

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