October 23, 2004

Hmmmm

I really avoid being part of the "October Suprise" crowd, but Greg's got a really good point here: there's no logical reason for Bush to take a vacation ten days before the election, and it rings similar to the cover story for his suprise visit to the troops last Thanksgiving.

Furthermore, Bush's "key words" are always an important indicator: many have noted how quickly he stopped saying "Osama bin Laden" and how hard he tried to avoid having to when pushed. Now, all of a sudden, he's dropping Zarqawi's name like it'll get him into Nobu.

As I wrote months ago, I've never really expected a bin Laden suprise before the election, mostly because I think it would be far too obvious, and the backlash that could occur if- god forbid for Bush- that it was planned and staged isn't worth the assumed benefit.

The question that it really comes down to is this: in terms of the election, how beneficial would Zarqawi's capture really be at this point? A recent study indicates that, thanks to Bush's crack(pot) team, huge numbers of otherwise-intelligent people think Saddam Hussein caused 9/11. Despite the blogosphere's contant mentions, I think most voters don't recognize a single name in the war beyond Hussein's. If Bush had Zarqawi captured tomorrow, he'd need the first five days to explain to people who he was before capitalizing on how great it was that he caught him.

More importantly, however, is that I really believe we're past the point of changing opinions. This entire election is going to be turnout, and frankly after a year of daily death reports and random percentages of how many "Taliban leaders" we've killed, no one's going to watch Zarqawi's capture on the news and be more or less motivated to go out and vote. Bush would have a better chance praying for a freak blizzard in Dayton on November 2.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:59 AM

Weekend justice update

Guys who threw pie at Ann Coulter: chased down, arrested within minutes.

Guy who kicked a restrained woman in the face at GOP 2004 convention: clear video of face, numerous leads apparently not enough to garner investigation.

Got it.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:45 AM

Whoooooooo! Wait, no.

Contrary to a lot of the other weblogs, I could really give three-fifths of a frig about Jesse Ventura endorsing John Kerry for president.

Among other reasons, it would be a bit hypocritical on my part to fawn over him considering that I described the end of Ventura's grubernatorial experience as, and I'm quoting here, the surgical removal of the 250 pounds of useless body mass that was the governor of Minnesota.

Personally, I'm sure Ventura is a nice guy if you hung out with him for a day. There's no arguing the devoted service he performed for his country in the Navy and the sheer, ever-lasting quality of his stage presence and aptitude with the WWF/WWE, both in- and off-ring. But as far as Ventura the political player goes, I'm really sick of people thinking we should fall to our knees and praise this guy for offering us the gift of his presence.

To this day, no one has better encapsulated the reason Ventura became governor than Garry Trudeau: "It's Minnesota. Everyone's bored. He was like free cable." Bereft of the advantage Arnold Schwarzenegger has now in the forms of a massive state budget to play with and the near-sexual admiration of the GOP to back him, Ventura's celebrity election led to, essentially, nothing. Programs weren't improved, the economy wasn't fixed, the Twins not only still suck but nearly were abandoned altogether.

The problem with being a maverick outsider who ran on the platform of not caring about working with anyone else is that once you take office, no one cares about working with you. And few did. Refusing to acknowledge the blatantly obvious fact that there was no way whatsoever he would ever win re-election, Ventura pulled the same move as most five-year-olds picked last at softball: announced he didn't want to play anyway and was going home.

Ventura's attitude, while "good" for the cameras and his persona as a radio host, was horrible for a State Executive. His "fuck this, and fuck you too" opinions about everything, especially his disgraceful actions following the death of Paul Wellstone (where he blamed the Democrats of exploitation and threatened to subvert the election by appointing a random citizen of Minnesota to fill Wellstone's seat) aren't exactly historical record worth praising.

Long story short, this is another celebrity endorsing John Kerry. Which is all well and good if it's a celebrity who, like Springsteen or Sarandon, actually wants to work to get Kerry elected. For Ventura, I sincerely doubt that's a higher possibility than the liklihood he just wants his name in the papers again.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:06 AM

ALL RIGHT, WE GET IT

Following Bush's recent ad, someone made a Wolf Packs for Truth website.

Okay, seriously: this officially got dumb.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:49 AM

October 22, 2004

Honor the brave custard that gave its life for the cause

Ann Coulter hit with pies:

Two men ran up on stage last night and threw pies at conservative author Ann Coulter while she spoke in Centennial Hall.

Coulter made light of the situation even after one of the men was taken away in handcuffs.

"From that far away they can't even hit me?" she joked.

Lady, you weigh -42 pounds. It was probably like scoring a hit on the Death Star.

Actually, it was scoring a hit on the Death Star. Heh.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:46 AM

Portrait of America update

That little box on Yahoo! with the three or four pictures of "top searches" was the following this morning: "Top image searches: Jessica Simpson, Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton, Pumpkins."

Pumpkins.

You sick bastards.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:37 AM

October 21, 2004

U-Hell

I gotta say, I'm both touched and terrified by the sheer number of people who wrote me not just to offer sympathy about my experience with U-Haul, but to tell me their own U-Haul nightmare stories. Within this bubble of opinion I have absolutely no idea how this company still has customers.

My personal favorites included the inspector who tried to charge damage for a dent only visible by climbing on top of the truck, the U-Haul dispatcher who assigned 4 trucks to over 20 people, and while I got a handful of personal experiences with a broken U-Haul, one reader actually wrote about how their U-Haul caught fire.

As for my current status, it appears that U-Haul did pick up the truck, but the local place I left it at assessed me some kind of fee. If it's becasue I didn't fill the gas tank, I suppose I have to let them have their money since it would be a loss to those guys, who kinda had nothing to do with it. I'm trying to get in touch with another office today about at least some form of financial recompensation, but as the liklihood wanes as fast as my interest in caring about these guys I'm starting to just be willing to give them another fifty bucks to never come near me again for as long as I live.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:05 AM

They did it

Look, I'm not a sports fan. I watch pretty much no sports at all. But god damn if what the Red Sox did this week isn't the most beautiful thing ever.

My parents are from New England, so while not caring about sports I was still raised on the credo that, when the time comes, you should sorta-want the Sox to win the World Series. My personal opinion of this wasn't as much a developing love of the Red Sox, but a developing hatred of the Yankees.

Okay, scratch that. I don't hate the Yankees. I do, for some reason, hate looking at Derek Jeter, because he has the face of a guy that would have become a mass-murdering date-rapist if he never became good at playing baseball, but other than that I don't really have malicious feelings about them. What I rapidly learned to hate was Yankees fans.

People seem turned off by Sox fans because they "whine too much." I think that's not really true. The Red Sox have quite possibly the most insanely devoted fan base in baseball, whereas the Yankees have a fan base that seasonally shifts in population about as much as the Bahamas. There's this whole stereotype about New Yorkers being aggressive, and so Yankees fans think they're supposed to act that way. All of a sudden, across the country every September, people suddenly start acting cool by saying how much every other team sucks and how the Yankees are going to kick everyone's ass. Team pride is one thing, bandwagoning is another. And pretending that paying ungodly sums of money to buy up all the best players is merely a coincidence to them winning all the time is yet another.

I'm sure I'm going to get disagreement from sports fans, which, no offense, I'm going to ignore. Like I said, I'm not a sports fan, so if anyone wants to write me now about how I'm ignoring the trade of Joe Bumblesnot to the Tigers in '68 or whatever, I simply don't care. Sorry.

What matters to me is that this entire playoff series for the Red Sox couldn't have been better. It's straight out of a movie. Yankees fans bragging about a 3-0 lead only to be crushed after than with four straight losses? In New York? Against their perpetual whipping-boys? This is the type of baseball that usually requires the team to be trying to save the local Youth Center or something. If it made me pay attention, you know it had to be good.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:46 AM

October 20, 2004

It's like he manipulates foreign policy for political gain or something

Greg alerts us to the possibility that Bush is suppressing another CIA report on 9/11 until after the election. Why? It actually suggests names of people responsible for the greatest security failure in American history.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:27 AM

Then they came for me

Glenn Reynolds is taking jabs at Oliver Willis and Atrios for working at Media Matters for America, saying that being paid by a political organization "changes the tone."

Reynolds wrote this in his paid freelance column at Tech Central Station.

Alrighty then.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:18 AM

October 19, 2004

Kill U-Haul, Vol. 2

And now, the actual day of my move. For starters, I was on two hours of sleep. Amazingly, when you get in a car accident and then immediately after that get locked out of your dead rental truck, causing you to not get home until 8 or 9 PM instead of the expected 1:00, you suddenly don't have time in your packing schedule to sleep. I was up until 5:00 AM that night, and didn't actually stop as much as collapse and be smart enough to have set an alarm for 7:00 AM in advance.

I discovered only on my moving day how good some of my friends really are, as three of them actually showed up at 9:00 AM on a Saturday morning- some of whom I know for a fact were ingesting products of questionable legality only a few hours ago- to help load my furniture into the U-Haul. Even people who didn't show up made me realize that I really took a lot of them for granted. As my friend Josh will attest, I spent much of the prior week saying goodbye to people as though I had terminal cancer instead of just moving five hours away. Still, I miss them all already.

I called U-Haul in the morning to get the location of where I had to drop off my truck. Since I knew it would be a long drive, I made sure to ask if the location had after-hours dropoff. This will be an important piece of information.

So, the truck nearly packed at about 11:30 AM, it suddenly occurred to me that, if I was going to be signing my lease and moving in, I probably had to show up when the apartment manager's office was still open. Which on Saturday was until 5 PM. As discussed before, It takes at least four and a half hours to get from Jersey to DC, and that's with no traffic, and at an average of 60 MPH, which doesn't really fare for trucks with cars trailing behind them.

Faster than you could say, "oh shit" I was on the phone with the manager pleading her to not let me discover an closed locked office at 7 PM or so with no way to get into my apartment and a sister's boyfriend looking at me as if not a jury in the world would convict him for killing me after telling him we'd be stuck in a hotel for the night. The day was saved when she told me she'd stick around for a little bit. Window of opportunity, but still a flag to haul ass down the Virginia right then.

As I write this, my old room in Teaneck is a shambles, the result of things literally hurled off of bookcases. In fact, and entire desk is still there, as I looked at the stuff still on it and said "fuck it." The irony is that it's a really nice desk, while most of the stuff I brought with me is crap I'm considering throwing away instead of moving with ever again. I figure when I come home for Thanksgiving, I can spend a day cleaning up all the crap I left behind. Oh, and maybe they'll have fixed the fucking car by then. Confidential to 18-wheeler driver: may your very urine turn to crushed glass.

If there is one redeeming thing about driving from New Jersey to DC, it's crossing the bridge at the end of the NJ Turnpike into Delaware. You cross the Delaware River on this enormous suspension bridge that forms a massive teal arc of steel what could easily been a thousand feet over the water. The view on a clear day is absolutely breathtaking, and was second only to my first trip the week earlier. That was the one where I left at 3 AM, so the sun just began to rise as I crossed the bridge. And then the Turnpike people explained to me that I owed them four times the toll fare because of the number of axles my truck and trailer had. Sometime in your life, hand a toll booth operator a twenty-dollar bill and not get change back. It's the closest you'll ever come to knowing how a Mongol invader in 600 AD felt right before crashing into the massive wall that suddenly surrounded China. Somewhere in Beijing there's a tattered parchment in a museum which holds the never-translated journal of that man, who that day wrote the 600 AD equivalent of "you're fucking kidding me."

About halfway through Maryland it started hailing. I'm going to repeat that, because I was actually there I and I don't fucking believe what I just read on my monitor. For about three to five minutes, Matt and I had to pull over to the side of the road on a mild, 60-degree Maryland afternoon because chunks of ice were falling from the sky. And then, for some strange reason, the hail was mixed with dirt or some kind of sediment, perhaps blown by the wind from the woods off the side of the highway or something. This is the best way I can describe it: get a bunch of wood and grass clippings. Then get fifty pounds of ice from the supermarket. Dump everything into a Troy-Bilt garden chipper and aim it directly at your car's windshield. You will then not look at me as though I'm crazy for thinking that at this point the DC Metro area simply didn't want me to move there.

And that's how it went. We managed to get to the apartment building on time, unload my stuff by about 9 PM, and thus ends the complicated story of my move.












God, you guys are smart! You totally caught me trying to trick you. I'm glad I have so many keen fans who immediately noticed that I hadn't returned the U-Haul yet. But really, what problems could have come from that? I mean, it's not like I had to drop off a rental truck at 10 PM in a town I'd never been to fifteen miles away from a place I'd only been to once before in my life, in the middle of a section of suburban Viginia where absolutely none of the highways are actually marked. Wait, that's exactly what I had to do. Well, shit.

But it was all good then. I found the dropoff place, detached Matt's car from the trailer, and breathed a sigh of exhausted satisfaction that the ordeal was finally over, as I took the U-Haul key to the after hours drop box and saw the handwritten sign on the door saying that this location didn't accept out-of-state drop offs.

I won't even get into the new epithets that were created at that moment. I won't even get into the fact that I tried to call a U-Haul service person to explain that I was in the middle of Fairfax, Virginia, a half-hour drive from the only place in the DC area I knew, and had only moved into an hour earlier, and that I had no idea where else I was supposed to go with their fucking truck, and that he needed to help me, and that he doesn't understand, I can't just take it somewhere else or risk it being impounded, listen you have to you son of a bitch motherfucker you actually fucking hung up on me.

That's right. U-Haul, which had charged me nearly four hundred dollars, not including cost of gas, to essentially shit on me for 48 straight hours, rewarded my inquiry as to how much further then could fuck things up by hanging up on me at 10:30 at night as I stood there with their truck in an empty office's unlit parking lot. So, with Matt's help, I did what a person as level-headed and paranoid as myself usually never does.

I went fucking home to my fucking apartment. I'll be on the phone with U-Haul for I'm sure weeks now, demanding that they should be refunding my money, let alone suggesting that I pay any fine for leaving their truck in Fairfax with a note on the door reading, albeit in more casual terms, that they can do whatever the fuck they want with their truck because I'm ready to never go near anything orange at this point let alone an office door with a U-Haul logo on it. I just spent two days ruining my car, losing ten or so man-hours of time, ruining a sister's birthday, and tormenting her boyfriend in every way possible. The U-Haul guys can do whatever the hell they want with their truck, and years from now I will remain hopeful that it ultimately involved shoving it directly into their ass.

I'm not going to close the story on that aggravation. If there is any conclusion out of all this, it's going to be a significant one. And that conclusion is that this weekend revealed more to me about the great people that were in my life that I ever knew. I can't even offer praise, but in most cases apologies. I'm sorry to all my friends and family that I never realized until I had to leave that you all cared this much about me. It's very rare to feel like the luckiest man on earth and the biggest asshole on the planet at the same time. Josh and Virginia put up with my constant blabbing about this for weeks and still showed up to help me move. Rodney helped me out when I never expected him to. Alex took time out his 25-hour workday to wish me goodbye. After Friday's nightmare of missed dinners, wrecked cars, and wasted hours in the rain on the Turnpike, Tara called me to ask me what my new address was to send me a card. A card. When I got off the phone with her I broke down and cried. After what was easily one of the worst days of my life, for a friend to offer such a touching gesture will remain one of the sweetest and most beautiful things that ever happened to me. I have the best friends in the world.

And finally, there will never be enough space to talk about Matt. For one person to do so much for someone else in such a short amount of time rivals the descriptions of people found only in the comic books wearing capes and leaping across buildings. He misses work. He lifts boxes. He drives trucks, fixes taillights, calls road services. He stays with broken trucks for four hours, works a night shift, and drives six hours to Virginia the next morning. He gets back to New Jersey at 4:15 AM Sunday, and takes my sister out for birthday lunch that morning. Heroes are real. I have one now.

There's a lot of changes happening in my life, thrown between the move and the new job. And there's going to be a lot of good things coming. For one thing, after this weekend there's not much that could be worse, but for another, I don't have time to sit here and bitch about how the world's not my perfect protected New Jersey bubble anymore. I will learn how the trains work. I will find out where the nearest Post Office is. And having vented all this out, I will stop wasting my time complaining how hard it is to live here and start figuring out how to make time to give you some funny fucking cartoons.

That last one, however, will take some time while I figure out which box I packed the goddamn art supplies in.

And all is right in the jungle

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:45 PM

Seeing the light

A guy named David Segal wrote me saying he's the Chair of the PAC Greens for Impact, "a group of Green officials who are trying to convince Greens and independents in swing states who might vote for Nader or Cobb to support Kerry instead." So if anyone out there knows that Ralph guy, perhaps they could send this along to him.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:31 PM

Uselessness

Because of my animation background, a lot of people have asked me if I saw/plan to see Team America. The answer is "probably not."

For one thing, the move and new job kinda has me a bit busy now. But that's sort of a cop-out- people are asking in terms of "do I want to watch a movie with anti-liberal viewpoints." And to that, I think such an analysis is useless.

Many are saying that it would be hypocritical of me to denouce this movie unseen, as I thought conservatives doing that with Fahrenhei 9/11 were ignorant and stuborn fools. The problem, of course, is that Fahrenheit 9/11 was a documentary that conservatives attacked the factual basis of without watching, while Team America is a goddamn cartoon. I'm not sure whether I should feel insulted that some conservatives are equating the two films, or feel sorry for the conservatives who think that their eventual "retort" to the message of a film about real life is a bunch of puppets blowing each other.

Which brings me to the real reason I don't plan on seeing the movie, and it has very little to do with politics: it just looks freaking stupid. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are the epitome of overgrown frat boys- even on South Park their personal credo is that everyone sucks for caring about things they don't.

Hearing about the pointless jabs at Hollywood liberals (and in same cases nonsensical- apparently Jeneane Garofalo and Sean Penn are mocked as having no "real insight into politics" despite one being a political talk radio host and the other a long-time international activist. It's like saying Bono doesn't know anything because he happens to make money selling rock albums) isn't what made me lose interest in the movie. I don't really care that much. I love many films by Republican actors like Bruce Willis and Clint Eastwood. They make more money than I'll ever see; I think they can handle some dude from Colorado whining about how they suck using marrionettes.

What turned me off, frankly, is every tired, stupid story about this movie suggesting how tired and stupid it would be. Kim Jong Il talks with a racist Asian accent? Michael Moore is fat, you say? Hollywood actors will have an organization with the acronym "FAG?" Gosh, that's hilarious. And you know what I really would want to pay nine bucks to watch? Ten minutes of puppets simulating hardcore pornography. (which ironically had to be cut for explicitness, even with the puppets not actually having extremities)

I'd like to think that, as creators of South Park, all that would somehow find its way into a form of humor. Then I remember these are the guys also responsible for That's my Bush and Baseketball and realize, no. It's probably just crap.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are talented, funny men. As a former film student, the ambition to make a movie like Team America that's clearly experimental for its time is admirable. But innovation and passion for one's product doesn't mandate actual quality, and I've yet to see an ad or read a review of this movie that suggests I'll find some if I go see it.

Ultimately, the final no-sell comes from Parker and Stone themselves, who in every interview feel as though everyone with an opinion is stupid. Then they ask that I listen to theirs. No thank you.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 6:54 AM

October 18, 2004

Kill U-Haul, Vol. 1

Due to time and stress, this is broken up into two parts. The first leg of this epic journey is below; the remainder will be up tomorrow evening, earlier if I figure out my bus schedules.

And so, the story of the great Move From Hell of 2004.

I started this whole thing with broad enthusiasm. I began what is probably the most intense, high-speed apartment search in human history after being offered my job ten days ago. As I wrote here about a week ago, I woke up at 3 AM last Tuesday to drive down to DC, spend three minutes looking at an apartment, leasing it, and driving back. Now I had to do it all over again, only this time with all my stuff and my car coming along.

My accomplice for the remaining bulk of this adventure was my sister�s boyfriend Matt. For future reference, Matt may also be identified as the Greatest Person Who Ever Lived, Ever. Matt manages a warehouse, was off Saturday, and most important knew how to drive a truck.

Now, I had a car, but also needed to get down. Matt explained to me that you can rent a truck from U-Haul, and rent a trailer that attaches to the back of the truck to put your car on. This way, Matt and I could drive down to DC, my car in tow, and then I would be in Virginia at my new apartment with my stuff, my car, and send Matt home on Amtrak. You can get up now to get a soda. It�s quite all right.

While you�re getting settled again, I�m going to stray from the narrative for a moment to discuss the cavernous river of bile within the lower circles of hell from which you will find the company known as U-Haul. Founded on the site of an ancient Indian burial ground consecrated with the blood of drowned children, the industrial prowess of mankind and the adaptation of industrial steam-works into its culture brought forth the realization of the Maelbolgia within the confines of the River of Sorrows that a new device- the so-called �horseless carriage�- could be employed as a trap to place mortals such as myself in the throngs of pain and torment.

For the slow readers, this is what we call sarcastic foreshadowing of how my weekend was about to get a lot worse.

U-Haul called me on Friday, the day before the move, to let me know that they were unable to meet my reservation for my truck and trailer. It wasn�t available at my local gas station, but instead ready for pickup in South Jersey, roughly an hour away from my soon-to-be-former house. It sucked, but I went, as did Matt. We loaded Matt�s car onto the trailer, so he could follow me back to my house. I got in my car and we started the drive back.

Many people have nightmares about problems before major events in their life. It�s a good mechanism for when they don�t come true, providing you relief from the stress of ridiculous fears. For example, that the day before you were moving to Virginia an 18-wheel tractor trailer would cut you off on the New Jersey Turnpike and slice off your right side mirror. So when the truck screamed by and I watched my mirror fly into the air, almost in slow motion, as if to reflect on the short time we had together and an instant of life remaining to regret not having done more, you can understand that my statement �what the FUCK?� at the time was, of course, appropriate.

So there I am, standing on the shoulder of the highway, realizing that, instead of going with me to Virginia tomorrow, my car would instead be staying in New Jersey getting its right mirror and entire front bumper replaced. Having to wait an hour for the police to show up instead of being home packing was far from the most tense issue at this point.

I suppose I was lucky that Matt saw the accident and didn�t zoon by me as I pulled over to exchange information with the 18-wheel driver, instead hitting the blinkers on the U-Haul and staying with me as the cops arrived. Of course, had he kept going, he might have been spared the unfortunate discovery that if you turn off a U-Haul truck�s engine and put the blinkers on, it drains the battery.

Matt would, of course, discover this only after the police left. In fact, he discovered this only a second after I started to pull my wrecked car away, frantically rushing out of the truck to try and flag me down. Which was a really bad thing, since he would then discover that U-Haul trucks also lock their doors behind you, even when you�re just stepping out for a moment to try and alert someone that its battery is dead.

Some of you may be lost at this point. Let�s recap. It�s Friday, about 18 hours before I�m supposed to be in Virginia checking in to my new apartment. Instead of being home packing, I am waiting with a smashed car next to a dead U-Haul truck with its keys locked inside it, equipped with a flatbed trailer holding Matt�s car that, ironically, has jumper cables that can�t be used because we can�t access the U-Haul�s trunk switch.

Here�s a funny fact: when your U-Haul breaks down about a mile from a Turnpike exit to Newark- one of the largest and busiest cities in all of New Jersey- U-Haul doesn�t send a service person from Newark. That would make no sense, as such a feat would cause the person to know how to get to you and arrive quickly. That would be unacceptable for a company that feeds on the misery of living things. Therefore, Matt and I waited three hours for a service truck from a town even further south than the town I was ordered to go to get my truck in the first place to arrive. Instead of spending what little time I had packing, I drive my battered car home at 8 PM. Matt, already four hours late, took the U-Haul to work, dropped it off late that night, and slept over.

By the way, this was all on my sister�s birthday.

This was the story of the day before I moved. There will be a Volume Two tomorrow evening- the story of the actual moving day- but I have much to do and little time before going to sleep to for my second day at work. Stay tuned.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:28 PM

October 17, 2004

Fatigue has entirely new meanings

Hello, all. I'm here in my apartment in Virginia. Just waving my arm here for a moment to keep the lights on. Don't expect anything else though until tomorrow night at the earliest; I've gotta get some sleep for work tomorrow.

I will have a complete post about the Move From Hell as soon as I can muster the strength to complete it. I guarantee it is worth waiting for. It will be epic. Until then, sit tight.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:27 PM