Monday, June 29, 2009

"Breathing Water" (again)!

And here's a Breathing Water trailer, courtesy of Shadoe Stevens, Tim Hallinan, and YouTube:

Oh, yeah, the story is paced just about that fast.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Things I Do . . .

The following is Technorati-speak for "I own this fucking blog" (or something similar):


It's code, and because it's code one must presume that it's
secret code, so don't tell anyone, okay?

Aiee-yi-yi, the things I do to promote this blog. Downright annoying at times, sometimes even embarrassing. Oh, well, one does what one's gotta do.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Blog in Transition

Whenever Tarleisio, my favorite blogger and also a good friend to this blog, posts a new article on MoltenMetalMama (or a new recipe on The Idiot’s Éclair), it becomes my top priority to hasten on over there to read what she has to say. Few people writing in (on?) the blogosphere today write with as much eloquence, emotion, poignancy, enthusiasm and skill as does she.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when she posted Singular Epiphanies. I hastened, read, and then scrolled back to the top of the page to begin reading it again. That’s when I noticed that she’d changed the wording on her blogroll link to Fried Dog Leg from “Another blog I follow” to “The Fried Dog Leg Guide to Life.” And that’s (bless your huge Viking heart, Tarleisio) when I had a singular epiphany of my own.

Like life itself, blogs are—or should be—works in progress; without constant activity—a frequent stirring of the pot, if you will—stagnation quickly sets in. And so it’s been for Fried Dog Leg. For too long I’ve felt that this blog has become much like a rudderless sailing ship, adrift in the Doldrums, without a freshening breeze to fill its sails. It wanders aimlessly, goes nowhere fast, and generally fails to live up to my original expectations of it.

From the outset I envisioned Fried Dog Leg as a humor blog, and the title—an irreverent corruption of Firedoglake—lent promise to that vision. It was never my intention to imitate Firedoglake or to duplicate its content in any way; no way can I compete with Jane and her crew, all of whom possess better political acumen than I—and the resources necessary to churn out first-rate political content all day long, day after day after day. No, my intention was to do something original. Something funny.

Sadly, I discovered early on that I couldn’t write funny consistently. Many of the topics I choose to write about don’t lend themselves well to the humor treatment; they’re far too serious and much too important to be dealt with lightly, and any attempt to inject humor into them is to minimize their importance and deny them the respect they need for people to take them seriously. Then, too, frequent bouts of depression—no doubt brought on by our ongoing national decline—show a marked tendency to stifle humorous expression. No surprise there, though, as depression typically shows utter contempt for anything with a humorous bent. (But that’s not to say that humor won’t find its way into these pages from time to time.)

To my way of thinking, the best way out of this dilemma is to make a few changes—some subtle, some obvious—to my whole approach to writing and maintaining this blog. For starters, I’ll put more effort into writing about the things that stoke my passions; marijuana legalization, the environment, sustainable communities, and the building of new institutions to replace those that no longer work.

Look for me to post more videos (up to now blogging has, for me, always been about the writing); occasional short excerpts—when they show keen insights about the society in which we live—from books I’m currently reading or have recently read, and to share personal stories, thoughts, ideas, insights and opinions about the many challenges now facing humankind. And, of course, I’ll be posting links to other sources and resources and calls to action, and to other bloggers who carry the torches of human progress.

As Fried Dog Leg moves forward, I’ll plead with you to face reality and to open your mind to new ideas, and try to convince you that making voluntary lifestyle changes now is easier and less painful than having those changes thrust upon you in a time and place not of your choosing. Whether you like it or not, whether you want to or not, you will soon be dealing with the inevitable (as will we all). The whole world has entered crisis mode, and the only chance for survival is to stop doing the things that led to this crisis and start doing the things that will lead us out of it.

When a pokkalips puts a liplock on your ass, you need to have as many tools at your disposal as possible in order to deal with the aftermath. Fried Dog Leg aims to provide you with an important tool to assist in that essential undertaking.

Call it the Fried Dog Leg Guide to Life.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Be a Hero, Help Save the World

The three most important things you can do in your lifetime (and you can do them all today):

1. Watch this video;

2. Join MRPP (Marijuana Re-legalization Policy Project);

3. Help spread the word!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Matter of Perception

Visualize, if you will, a glass filled to exactly 50% of its capacity with water (or milk, or tomato juice—or sand, for crying out loud). How do you see the glass?

Some people see the glass as half-empty. We call these people pessimists.

Other people see the glass as half-full; we call them optimists.

Still others—a precious few—see the glass as being precisely twice as big as it needs to be to do the job required of it. We call these observant, critical-thinking realists troublemakers and malcontents, and relegate their ideas to obscurity because they had the audacity to point out the obvious.

And far too many people have the audacity to wonder why things either always stay the same or get progressively worse.

Call them stuck on stupid.

More of the same ol’ same ol’ isn’t gonna fix anything; never has, never will.

How many times must they learn that lesson before it sticks?

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Blast from the Past Rocks My World

Typical Saturday. I oversleep, then attack what remains of the day like a meth-addled serial killer attacks his next victim—not necessarily with a lot of thoughtful planning, but with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Open the blinds, boot the computer, get the coffee started, pour a glass of OJ. Typical morning routine, but running atypically late.

With the last of my excuses for not getting started finally exhausted, I settle myself in front of monitor and keyboard, click open Windows Mail, scan the contents of my inbox. All the usual culprits, plus one from Facebook, the subject line of which reads, “Cathi B**** (I’m withholding Cathi’s last name to protect her privacy) sent you a message on Facebook.”

But I don’t know anyone named Cathi B****. Or do I? There are several possible spelling variations of the name—Kathy, Kathi, Kathie, Cathy, Cathi—but of the mere handful of females I’ve known in my entire life who are even named Kathy or Cathy (regardless of spelling variable), I’ve only known one who spelled her name using the capital “C”-little “i” combination. Could it be? Was it even possible? Only one way to find out. I opened the e-mail and was greeted with this message:

“Does the name Cathi O**** ring a bell?"


Oh, yeah! It rings a very large bell.

To say that I broke a speed record logging onto my Facebook page is probably an exaggeration, but not too big a one. It’s entirely accurate to say that I didn’t waste any time. I promptly sent off a short message to Cathi, along with a “friend” request, then spent the rest of Saturday recalling fond memories from the ’70’s.

Sunday began much like Saturday had; oversleep, work through my list of excuses, plunk my ass in the chair, diddle the mouse. Two more messages from Facebook, one a confirmation of my friendship with Cathi, the other a message from Cathi. I ignore the first (I already know that Cathi and I are friends; we established our friendship more than 35 years ago) and open the second. I am, after all, anxious to see what she has to say. Although our friendship exists, it’s been dormant for the better part of 30 years.

Her message is short, sweet, and positive. I’m in the process of writing a response when the Facebook chat window pops open: “Are you there?”

I’m caught completely by surprise, but it’s a most welcome surprise. For the next two hours we send messages back and forth, reaffirming our friendship and filling in the gaps left behind by too many years flown under a bridge neither of us could cross.

A couple of e-mail exchanges brought Sunday evening to a close, but not before setting the stage for a two-hour phone conversation on Monday night. And still we’re not caught up. Maybe in 15 or 20 years.

What’s next? I really don’t know; it’s still too soon to say. But for now I choose to remain optimistic, and to believe that rather than being at the end of things, we’re very much nearer the beginning.

Welcome to my world, Cathi B****. You rock!

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breathing Water

In her most recent post, Tarleisio—otherwise known as MoltenMetalMama—admonishes us to just breathe. Fortunately, with yesterday’s arrival of an advance reader’s copy of author Tim Hallinan’s new book, Breathing Water, I can finally resume doing that. I’ve more or less been holding my breath since early April awaiting its arrival. That first deep breath (all air, no water) really felt good, and my lips have lost their bluish tinge and returned to their normal color. Whew! If you think waterboarding is bad, try holding your breath for two months.

Much to my dismay, a prior reading commitment will delay my reading of Breathing Water by a couple of days, but I look forward to getting started a.s.a.p. I’ll write a review when I’m finished and post it on Frieddogleg—and on my Web site.

For those who aren’t familiar with Mr. Hallinan, Tim is the creative force behind the Poke Rafferty series—superb contemporary crime fiction set in Bangkok, Thailand. But Tim is more than just a gifted writer; he’s an unpretentious, down-to-earth person who’s exceedingly generous with his time, his knowledge and his expertise. He frequently interacts with his many fans on his blog, and he was thoughtful enough to include a personal, handwritten note with the ARC he sent to me.

No wonder, then, that Timothy Hallinan is on my short list of favorite living authors, and also on my short list of favorite authors of all time.

Oh, and about that note. Breathing Water goes on sale August 18th, and Tim will make a personal appearance in Portland in September (time and location to follow). But while I plan on being there, I’m not going to hold my breath.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fact or Fiction?

Sometimes, fact and fiction are one and the same.

To make my point, I offer this bit of dialog, “spoken” by retired police detective T.C. Cook, a minor character in George Pelecanos’ novel The Night Gardener, as he waxes nostalgically on the changing nature of police work:

“The job changed from what it was. The feds threatened to turn off the money faucet to the District unless the MPD put more uniforms on the streets and started making more drug arrests. But you know, locking people up willy-nilly for drugs doesn’t do shit but destroy families and turn citizens against police. And I’m not talking about criminals. I’m talking about law-abiding citizens, ’cause it seems like damn near everyone in low-income D.C. got a relative or friend who’s been locked up on drug charges. Used to be, folks could be friendly with police. Now we’re the enemy. The drug war ruined policing, you ask me. And it made the streets more dangerous for cops. Any way you look at it, it’s wrong.”

—from The Night Gardener, by George Pelecanos

Do you suppose that novelist George Pelecanos knows the pros and cons of the drug war and understands the reasons why it’s doomed to fail? Damned right he does.

Do you?

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