Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stop the Presses

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer showed glimmers of rational thought yesterday, vetoing the legislature’s latest two entries in the ongoing Worst Laws in the History of Forever competition they probably have locked up anyway. Maybe she just wants to keep things fresh? Anyway, the birther bill and the carry-guns-on-campus bill are history, for now.

The gun veto is somewhat surprising, since she tends to support unlimited gun rights underpinned by very vague reasoning, but she nixed the bill that would have permitted carrying in public rights-of-way on campus because (surprise, it’s Arizona!) it was poorly written and potentially confusing. Ron Gould, the Teabagger genius from Lake Havasu City who sponsored the bill, got his feelings hurt.

Gould called her veto "very rude." He said the measure, approved twice by the Senate and once by the House, was apparently clear enough for legislators to understand.

GUNZ GUNZ GUNZ is indeed very easy to understand, and Breweragainst all oddsnoticed that it’s also open to interpretation. Moving along...

The birther bill fizzled for similar reasons, but this veto came with even more critical thinking attached. The mind reels.

Brewer said giving the secretary of state authority to decide if a candidate is eligible, as the law would have allowed, "could lead to arbitrary or politically motivated decisions."

She also suggested there was an "ick" factor in the measure, noting candidates who could not produce a "long form birth certificate" would have the option of instead furnishing other documents.

"I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for President of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their 'early baptismal or circumcision certificates' among other records to the Arizona secretary of state," Brewer wrote.

OMG PENIS. Hooray for the ick factor finally working in our favor!

Next up on Brewer’s desk: the campus gun bill’s BFF, a bill that permits carrying guns into government buildings unless they have airport-style metal detectors and Brinks-style armed guards. Mr. Sensitive from Lake Havasu sponsored this one too, and is already sulking about its veto potential.

"It's kind of looking bad," Gould said of the chances Brewer will sign that bill.

Heady times indeed in Arizona. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Arizona Makes Basic PhotoShop Skills a Requirement for Being on the Ballot

Oh, Arizona.

No matter how many times you say it, it never gets old. Every time you think the absurdity bar can’t possibly go any lower, the state magically finds a way—possibly by operationalizing Zeno’s paradox—to find another notch closer to the floor. And after we run out of floor, the event horizon of fucking batshit end-of-the-world stupid can’t be far behind. It has been a busy week. The legislature approved a bill allowing people to carry guns into public buildings (although arenas, stadiums, and conventions are exempted), which will certainly make next week’s annual emissions-testing trip to the Motor Vehicles Department interesting. Even better, the crazy birther bill also was approved. The meat of the bill is ho-hum, standard-issue Orly Taitz material, requiring presidential candidates to file an official long-form birth certificate with the secretary of state before being allowed on the ballot (never mind that some states, like, say, Hawaii, won’t release the long-form document even if your name is J. H. Christ). The interesting bit is the amendment introduced by long-time Boltgirl nemesis Frank Antenori, which allows (presumable Hawaiian) candidates to instead submit… an early baptismal record or circumcision certificate.

The fuck?

I confess to not understanding this, even though the Social Security Administration similarly accepts baptismal records as proof of identity. I looked at my son’s baptismal record, just to see. It’s a little 6x9 piece of paper with fancy calligraphy spelling out “St. Joseph’s Church,“ with blanks left that the church secretary dutifully filled in with names and dates, and that the priest signed.

That’s an official document. Wait, let me fix that. That’s an official document that I could crank out in under five minutes with PhotoShop, a decent printer, and a Bic pen. And if that’s an acceptable proof of identity, citizenship, and being squared away with the sky fairy, that tells you all you need to know about the birther bullshit.

Oh, and Antenori’s adorable sop to the other Mosaic religions? A circumcision certificate? Like from a bris? Or whatever the Muslims call their version? That, love, is the legislative equivalent of sticking a menorah next to the manger scene you want on the courthouse lawn, just to prove you’re being ecumenical. Never mind that his oh-so-inclusive gesture excludes Jewish and Muslim people who aren't circumcised, like, say, women. Much like the "early baptismal record" exemption excludes baptizin' folk who fling the water later in life, like, say, most Protestants. And I can't believe I have expended even this minimal amount of energy thinking about the relative merits of the provisions of this oh-so-serious bit of fakery that is now law in this state.

We must know if the president is a Kenyan socialist Muslin. Or if he knows his way around Adobe products. Either will do.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Long Goodbye

The girl dog turns 15 in a couple of months, although the county animal control center thinks it’s 16. Either way, a lot of years to pass under the paws of a mostly black shepherd mix.

Her daily schedule has contracted to something like (1) sleep (2) bark (3) maybe make it to the back door in time (4) look contrite when she doesn’t (5) sleep. She still slides her arthritic joints down to the floor by the window, where she remains vigilant through cloudy eyes against the constant threat of cats, UPS trucks, and pedestrians who have the temerity to walk on the sidewalk past our house.

She’s happy as a clam.

She also has approximately the same visual and auditory acuity as a clam, and only slightly more complex brain activity. But she’s happy. You will have to start weighing quality of life, the vet told me yesterday, and at some point you’ll have to decide where the line is. Indeed. At this point the only quality of life issues are my own, as her transformation into the Wee Hours Adventure Dog (2 a.m.? let’s sprint to the door! oops!) has reverted my sleeping patterns to what they were when I had a newborn (2 a.m.? again? jesus.) and made me consider the potential upside of buying stock in Swiffer, since I’m single-handedly keeping them in business anyway (wet wipes on a stick? thank. you. jesus.).

I grit my teeth and hand over the credit card to buy meds that will keep her hips from aching and let her go for longer walks and maybe have more extended play sessions with the other dog in the house. She struggles to get up sometimes, her shaky back legs not quite cooperating with the rest of her. But then she steals unguarded slips of paper from the coffee tablereceipts? goodness, how deliciousand rushes the fence to annoy the chihuahua next door. She hops up and down at dinnertime and sprints down the hall in her half-sideways gait and wags her tail with the big goofy doggy grin that we know isn’t really a smile but know really is at the same time.

Not time to head out the door for the last time yet, although it’s getting closer. We still have a few minutes to spend.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Consequences of Planned Parenthood Defunding

This is way more important than soccer kits, even insultingly patronizing ones. Go right now and read about one Texas woman's attempt to find low-cost well-woman care in the new world Republicans are trying to create. Then call your senators.

What Fresh Hell

Okay. We have established that the US Women’s National Soccer team is in a bit of disarray, playing stale football, led by a coach who displays an increasingly baffling allegiance to tactics, formations, and personnel that simply do not work. The World Cup looms on the horizon. We are getting jittery. Then the new Eurosport catalog landed in our mailbox yesterday and helped us discover new levels of despair.

What the fuck, exactly, is this?

Open a little wider, good. Now turn and.... rinse and spit.

The hell? What the holy hell is this, and who thought it was a good idea? Remember the jersey before this one? The plain one with the badge and wide stripes across the shoulders? The gold version was a little over the top, but otherwise it was a simple, elegant design that was cut for a woman’s shape but prioritized being a soccer jersey.

Shirt for a soccer player.

Then we got this one.

Hi, hon, are you here today for a color or just a cut?

So maybe it is simply part of the natural progression of what passes for US Soccer logic that a player should step off the field, remember she’s a woman, and get on with real woman activities, such as "go to the salon" and then "go back to work as a dental hygienist." Maybe I’m wrong about that last one. Maybe it’s really "go back to work in sickbay on the Enterprise." Whichever the correct interpretation may be, "be a soccer player" ain’t it.

How do you tell the difference between, say, a male Norwegian national uniform and a female Norwegian national uniform? By the gender of the player wearing it. How should you be able to tell the difference between the US women’s kit and the men’s kit? By the two stars the women get to wear above their badge. That should be it. England puts their men and women into the same kit. Germany used to, but now, just when the Germans have the most awesome away jersey in the history of away jerseysand right before Germany hosts the World Cup--they’ve stuck their women’s side into something they apparently stole from the rhythmic gymnastics team warmups.

Man jersey. Rawr.

Woman jersey. Uh, flowing ribbons!

Please, US Soccer. We’ve been round and round about this sort of thing before. If Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico can deign to allow their women’s teams to wear the same designs as their precious men’s teams, can the US not come up with a single clean design that both our sides can wear? Not one that harks back to the glory of a single game the men won in 1950, not one that might as well be plastered with giant type reading O HAI WERE JUST GURLZ WHATS SOCCUR, just a simple kit that says we are the USA and we are here to kick your ass.

I will stick with my men’s jersey for this World Cup, though the idea makes me sad. And I wouldn’t buy the Dr. Crusher uniform even if I could stuff my shoulders into it, which I most assuredly cannot. At least they’re not trimmed in pink. Yet.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

England 2, US 1

And now, a soccer interlude. The US Women’s National Team played a friendly against England yesterday afternoon and came away with a loss for the first time in a friendly in six and a half years. Six. And a half. YEARS. 50-something matches.

What, exactly, is the problem? Would you like a metaphor? Fine.

Brianna Scurry.

Too obvious and easy? Yes, and this is why. If you paid much attention to sports during the summer of ’07, you probably remember the World Cup kerfuffle that erupted after undefeated starting goalkeeper Hope Solo was benched in favor of Scurry for a crucial match against Brazil. Solo had been shaky at times during the previous two matches, but was still the undisputed best keeper in the world. Scurry, a long-term veteran who stopped the last penalty kick against China to secure the 1999 World Cup, hadn’t played a complete match in the three months prior to the ’07 Cup, but had a very good career record against Brazil, so bumbling US coach Greg Ryan opted for history and wishful thinking over the established hot hand. Brazil humiliated the US 4-0, and Solo gave one of the epically worst postgame interviews in the history of postgame interviews, essentially saying I can guarantee I would have stopped all those shots, you fucktard (well, exactly saying that, with fucktard merely strongly implied). A significant faction of the team went Mean Girls in response, Solo was blackballed, and Scurry went through a few repeated and increasingly futile attempts to stay on the US roster and then to hang on in the WPS, before finally staggering off into retirement.

Anyway. Fast forward to yesterday afternoon, and Scurry is sitting in the ESPN studio between Bob Ley and Tony DiCicco, trying her hand at being a studio analyst. The match had revealed several glaring US weaknesses; the bafflingly static US lineup of long-term veterans was out-played and out-finessed by a young England side until the last 15 minutes of the match, when US coach Pia Sundhage mercifully subbed out ailing forward Abby Wambach and ineffective Amy Rodriguez and Megan Rapinoe for zippy youngsters Lauren Cheney, Alex Morgan, and Tobin Heath. Until they came in, the US lacked possession and any semblance of linkage, let alone creativity, between the midfielders and forwards. So when Bob Ley posed the obvious question, the softball lobbed to give Scurry an easy opening to pounce on, her assessment of what the US needed was…

To get Abby Wambach more involved in the offense.

Jesus God. 32-year-old Wambach was working with one good leg and a serious fitness deficit, and aside from two more of the hacky fouls that have very unfortunately become her hallmark in recent years, posed little threat to the England defense. Nobody in the midfield could hold the ball long enough to make a pass, and when they did, it was more often a pointless long ball over the top that Wambach couldn’t have gotten to even if she were ten years younger and uninjured. The team was utterly without a spark until the young kids came in, and then we instantly saw crisp ball movement and even more crisp player movement off the ball. Had Morgan, Cheney, and Heath had more than 15 minuted to get their legs under them and synched with the rhythm of the game, the outcome would have been different.

And the poster child for all the ills caused by coaches hanging on to players who are past their prime (and players who push to extend their careers long past their sell-by date) could only see the need to get the third-oldest and most-injured player on the roster more involved in the offense.

The World Cup starts in June. That is not a lot of time for Sundhage to have the come-to-Jesus moment she needs, assuming Jesus has the same ideas about lineups and formations that I do. Many, many great players have done great things for the US on the field. But they can’t play forever. I understand the hunger, truly, and I have nothing but respect for Brianna Scurry's career. She was great in her day. And Wambach was great in her day, but she's been struggling for some time now, and every minute she struggles on the field is a minute Alex Morgan sits on the bench. There are boatloads of hungry young players coming up that need to get their own days going. Now.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Unleavened Humility

I was on a roll, a hot streak dating back to the Super Bowl, andhuman nature being what it isI got cocky. A little too comfortable. A little too cavalier. And when I finally missed, Lord Jesus on an underbaked tart crust Christ, I missed big.

Fish sauce. Fucking fish sauce did me in, or, more accurately, did my sweet potato curry in and then almost finished me off as an afterthought.

I was just whipping up something to go along with leftover Malaysian spice-rubbed chicken. Ho hum, toss together a raita, toast up some naan, yawn yawn, oh, here’s a sweet potato, here are some carrots, let’s curry that up and call it done.

A splash of fish sauce is all it needed. One splash. I inexplicably gave it four because I forgot I still need to think from time to time in the kitchen. Moments later, happy memories of meatballs in marinara, rosemary-roasted almonds, potato-leek gratin, and peach-blueberry pie were rudely shoved aside by a bowl of orange vegetable chunks that carried the unmistakable horrifying edge of my borderline incontinent elderly dog’s ass. There was not enough coconut milk in the world, let alone in my pantry, to salvage it.

Does comfort always breed carelessness? I hope not. But! Life lesson taken! If Top Chef hss taught me nothing else, it’s that you are only as good as your last dish. Do we have dinner guests coming over tomorrow night? Yes. Yes, we do. Time to focus, people!

The nam pla’s staying on the bench for this one.