Friday, October 24, 2008

Barack out with your cock out.

I haven't actually written that much about politics this election cycle. This is surprising only if you happened to have read this blog back in the beginning, before the last election. It originally was mostly politics. And not particularly demure political commentary at that. I started writing with hopes of expanding in to thoughts about all kinds of topics, but the first couple of years were dominated with me trying to sort out some of the rage that I was feeling at the state of our nation and what we were doing, and perhaps more frustratingly, why we were doing it.

The current lack of political spit-fire here should not be read as this being any tamer a beast who resides here. This trash can still contains a fully functional grouch. Partially, there isn't that much new in this election compared to the last couple. Still, before it is over, maybe I should record a few thoughts and observations before all this wraps up. I'm a week or so out of the cycle, so don't expect to find up-to-date breaking news, just what some cranky grump on a boat thinks about all this horse-shit.

in no particular order:

* The only reason to not vote for Barack Obama over john mccain is because you don't like black people or because you don't like democrats. In that order, because the current bunch of monkey turds who call themselves republicans are about as fiscally conservative as drunk who's won the lottery at Christmas time. What the republicans have spent the last thirty or so years selling themselves as are the people to protect you, the good normal (white) people from THOSE people (niggers, faggots, crackheads, drug-dealers, devil worshipers, etc.). There whole schtick is that there are all these horrible others out there trying to destroy you neighborhood, wreck your marriage, corrupt your children, knock up your sweet little virgin daughters. And it works because neighborhoods do get destroyed, marriages do get wrecked, children do get corrupted, and sweet little virgin daughters get knocked up; so just exaggerate, blame, take up the banner of protecting Us from Them, and you are good to go.

* Barack might be harder to slime this way because he actually is black. They can talk all they want about THOSE people, but in all the coverage, Obama comes across more like Bill Cosby than Malcomn X. He is likable and normal and the more you see or listen to him, the more likable and normal he seems. If they could keep him off the tv, then they might have a chance. They've got the crowd who only reads the illiterate, stupid fucking email chain letters they send about this shit, because if you read them and were actually stupid enough to not figure out that this stuff was mostly COMPLETELY MADE UP, then of course you wouldn't like this guy. But even if you read that stuff and it kind of makes you wonder, you see him up on the teevee and he isn't this scary crazy terrorist baby rapist they want you to believe in. John Kerry could be slimed with their scary vision of the encroaching Others, because they weren't trying to make you believe he was any kind of Other besides a 'librul', which is more like an annoying cousin, someone who doesn't know how to protect you from the very scary very real threats, not the threat itself. Barack Obama is their bogey fucking man. By their estimation, he is a Muslim and they've been painting him as foreign. Not true, but who cares, it is how they play. And he is Black. Chicago, community organizing, hollerin' in church B L A C K. And this really is their favorite bogey man. So they run their code words, say their thinly veiled bullshit and warn you all about this crazy fiend who wants to run off with the white wimmins... and then up comes this smiley kind of too earnest but friendly dude with a pretty wife and cute kids who if anything resembles the popular new math teacher/basketball coach at the local high school, not anybody's scary nightmare.

People who've gotten the subliminal messages telling them they aren't supposed to trust this man see him and ask themselves, "Why not?" Their message is deep and they are riding it hard and ugly, but it might just collapse under its own weight this time.

* john mccain is a jackass. No more of this honorable bullshit. He is a dickwad and always has been. And when he talks, he talks down. I don't see how reporters fucking put up with it. Seriously, how can anyone stand being around him when he is campaigning?

* cindy mccain looks like a lizard ice queen. Remember V? I keep waiting for her to eat a hamster.

*Everyone is sick of hearing about mccain's time as a POW but at the end of the day, it was his only qualification to be a senator and it is his only qualification to be president. I said early that the only reason to not vote for Barack Obama over mccain is because he is black and I meant it. This is not just saying that Mr. Obama is the most amazing candidate ever, even if I do think he is quite a good one, but it is to say that mr. mccain is a pathetic one. Whether it is age or temperament or just being surrounded by crappy advisors, he sucks as a candidate. He won by default and shoeshine. The rest of the candidates were beyond laughable. Oddly enough, Ron Paul is the only one who might have had a chance.

*I like Hillary, but I hate her supporters. They were a psycho bunch of freaks. I'm not talking about just people pulling for her, but you know the people I am talking about. They always seemed to corner me at happy hour and wanted to talk about how she WOULD win and would get all nasty about the uppity boy daring to get out of line and challenge her. In the end though, if she had won the primary, I'd be done with the race. Completely. Her campaign was in it to win any way it could, and sorry, I don't just want a democrat in the White House no matter what it takes to get there. If we have to do THAT to get there, I don't want to go there. The reason Obama is appealing is that his campaign hasn't tried to be shady, hasn't tried to manipulate and divide and conquer. Her campaign did. Maybe she could have wiped the floor with mccain, and fun as that would have been to watch, it wouldn't have mattered. We would have already lost.

*Picking sarah palin was the smartest thing the mccain campaign did the whole election cycle. Not because she is a good candidate or qualified or experienced or whatever, but it shook things up and gave people something to talk about... and took the focus off of him. The perky fembot handpuppet is apparently the political equivalent of being goth. You are saying "Huh?" Nothing against goth kids everywhere, but the point of being goth, the whole black hair with maybe some manic panic highlights and the theatrical clothing and eye-liner and studded collars and piercings is that it takes the focus off of YOU. You might be attracting more attention, but it is you as a character attracting it. Getting people to focus on your crazy ass hair or nose ring (which you control) keeps them from focusing on your acne or lisp or whatever they've been making stupid jokes about since kindergarten. It might bring new ridicule but in a weird way the corset and platform Doc Martins put you in control of an out of control situation like adolescence. Or the pretty governor lady brings ridicule but puts you back in control of an out of control situation like your campaign.

Forget Cheech and Chong: a drug movie for a new generation, The Last Mimzy

Just got finished watching The Last Mimzy. Not to give too much away, but the movie is basically about a couple of kids who do drugs. Their parents freak out, then their science teacher and his girlfriend start doing drugs too, but they can't really handle the shit like the kids. Their parents finally start tripping, but by this time the kids have stolen a van and started hitchhiking so they take a ride in a helicopter with Ving Rhames and he gets high. He takes off to find something to eat and the parents and the kids and the teacher and his babe go in the beach house to keep tripping and talk about the future where scientists hug stuffed bunny rabbits and aliens peel their skin off and are horny tweens underneath and kids go to class in fields of flowers wearing jelly shoes.

Then teach and his lady friend go buy lottery tickets.

(You think I am kidding; I am not.)

isolation or not

Fishing in the Bering Sea is not like fishing long-line off Hawaii. It isn't the weather that marks the greatest difference; it is the isolation or lack of it. Dutch Harbor itself feels cut off from the world because it is small and the people there are mainly there for one reason: fishing or somehow supporting or profiting off the fishing fleet. And internet access is slow and not so easy to come by and the cell phone service is controlled by a monopoly which wants you to pay through the nose.

But on the water... it almost feels crowded. This is ridiculous, of course, or at least relative. The boats are huge and comfortable and much more connected and modern. This opinion may change later as we venture further out, but two days into fishing and I can still see land! This is a stupid thing to be excited about, but in Hawaii, seeing land was so rare. After three weeks at sea, you would go on deck every few hours on the trip back to see if you could spot land yet and as soon as you could, you would just stare. The solid lines and bulk of it seemed so amazing and almost like a mirage after so long without. We were so far out and sighting anything but birds and fish was so rare that the light of a single fishing boat on the horizon would make you stop and stare and wonder which boat it might be. Even trash floating by became fodder for the imagination. Any little suggestion that there were things in the world beside your little floating prison.

Maybe it is also the contrast of having more people on this boat, it being larger, and the crew all speaking English that makes this feel less isolated, but I still haven't been out of sight of land and other boats are almost always visible. Even when we do leave sight of land, it is unlikely that we will ever be even 200 miles from shore, which is closer than we would start fishing in Hawaii.

This is early, it is still warm. Let's see how I feel about it all as the season wears on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

on solid ground...

...but only for a short while, to be counted in hours, part of which must be spent working. My time at sea was lovely and I am in one piece and smiling.

Not sure if I'll get to post any of the stuff I wrote at sea (pending getting my computer near a wifi connection), but wanted to put out just a little note that I am still alive.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

look alike

Unfortunately I'll be at sea for the finals. I could use a new rifle. Look through the gallery accompanying the article and see if you can find me (it is easy, there aren't many Todds).


...out to sea.

Looking forward to the seahab and time to read. And play solitaire compulsively. And see what kind of crazy things we can drag up from the bottom of the sea.

Say a little prayer that my seasickness isn't too rough.


Monday, October 13, 2008

double Dutch

I'll enter again a time of radio silence, as I head out to sea after a hiatus on land. I'm in Dutch Harbor now, sitting in the only spot I've found so far with public wifi access, and in the background is a bar filled with Deadliest Catch people. They are filming in the hotel bar, making everyone sign releases before entering. Nothing against the show, but for now at least, I remain outside.

Dutch Harbor is unbelievably beautiful. Not the town so much, as the architecture remains the boxy functional crap that seems to be all the rage in Alaska, but the buildings are fewer and the landscape more dramatic and much closer. It doesn't simple fill the background, towering behind all the strip malls like in Anchorage; the town is stretched along the water at the base of mountains and hills here.

There are ravens everywhere, particularly around the hill I have to pass to walk to my boat. They make fun clicks and whistles and do a rolling dive when I go past; I'm not certain this has anything to do with my presence or is just something they like to do, but I'll pretend it is for me. I haven't spotted any eagles yet.

I got placed on my boat today. I make it a point to not discuss my actual job, as we all know that blogging about work is a recipe for disaster (even if temptingly cathartic), but I'll say that however much the Bering Sea is a more threatening body of water than the balmy expanse of the Pacific around Hawaii, I still think this is going to be a smoother ride than anything I've every experienced. Compared to what I'm used to, this boat is huge and amazingly clean and seemingly stable. I'm psyched. And most importantly, no smoking indoors! If you ever want to puke your guts out, shut yourself up in a floating prison with bad ventilation and chain smokers. Thankfully that does not describe my upcoming trip. Just being on the boat felt good. I'm anxious to get out on the water. Time on land has been nice, but I'm in work mode now, and there is something comforting about the water. It calms me and makes me feel, for a while, balanced. I'm really good at relaxing anytime anywhere, but most of the time on land I'm faking it. Not faking it so much as forcing it: I can sit and be calm, but I have to fight to achieve it, constantly fighting back nagging reminders of all the things I should be doing and need to get done. This is impossible at sea. I can think of things I wish I was doing and want to do, but not things that I should be doing. My tasks are limited and demand to be done when they present themselves, so no lost hours procrastinating. Reading here is not procrasting, it is its own task demanding its own time.

There is much I'll miss while out at sea, but I'm looking forward to the recharge.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I've meant to write about my impressions of Anchorage since I arrived, but there has always been something that kept me from sitting down and collecting my thoughts. Initial reactions to the place focused on how ugly the architecture is. And it is mostly ugly. Psuedo-modern, mostly boxy clunkers of buildings and lots and lots of strip malls. I have a hard time thinking of a place that I have been before that so struck me so seriously in how uniformly ugly the buildings were. I should admit that I have softened my opinion after being here for a few weeks, since I have found that there are some charming houses in the neighborhoods around downtown and flowers flourishing everywhere and the whole place is generally very clean.

I also wanted to write about gay life here. There seems to be more of it than I expected, with three gay bars thriving and even more homos hiding behind the scenes. And a bazillion lesbians everywhere. But perhaps the take-away thought that I had everytime I went out to the 'mo bars was that if I never see another piece of abercrombie and fitch clothing, it will be too soon. Seriously, I know that brand is a fucking plague and too many douchebags wear it, but at least half of all articles of clothing in a bar on a given night have that stupid logo assaulting our senses. I feel like the chick from Pattern Recognition, getting vertigo from the omnipresent branding. Apparently a&f is my Michelin Man. Anyway, there is some bad fucking fashion (I'm using that word loosely) in this town. But then sometimes there are some really rocking looks, just not often.

I said these are things I've wanted to write about, but I'm not going to write about them now. Because I've been crying for the last half hour.

Anchorage has a free paper that is obviously by the same folks who do the Village Voice and so many of the other free papers around the country. It has Savage Love and Free Will Astrology and News of the Weird, so it is comforting and makes me feel at home a little bit. And there are some good articles (and some insanely stupid ones, like when they take the side of the idiot suing their lawyer because they were so fat the chair broke in the lawyer's office when they plopped down in it). One bit of local flavor has stood out, though. The crime blotter is always good entertainment, because they pick the silly or funny crimes to feature. This crime blotter doesn't dissappoint, but it goes one step further and breaks your heart: they list the rapes that have occured in the week prior. Yup, a fucking rape list. Which, if they are happening, is probably good to broadcast. Warn people, make folks away that these things are happening. But you've got to admit, it is a little terrifying when a small city generates enough REPORTED rapes to have a weekly column listing them.

Our first week here, there were 10 listed. The second week, 10 again, so I began to wonder if that was just the cut-off point or there were exactly that many reported. Week three, the number was drastically lower, so we speculated about whether it was just a kinder, gentler week or cold weather keeping people indoors and safe that accounted for the steep drop. It was almost so disheartening that the only thing you could do with this rape report was make jokes about it, because really looking at what it suggested is too fucking grim.

I've been living in cities for quite a while now, and though I try to actively force myself to stay open to people and to listen to and help people on the street if I can, I still feel the walls go up when I see someone approach me who seems a little off-kilter. This is double for the middle of the night, so tonight when walking home from the bars, when I saw an older woman walking towards me, I started to put up shields and prepare to deflect her so I could keep walking and get home. Til I realize that she is truly upset. Because she had just been raped. Her cane was thrown in the bushes and she was using a stick of wood to walk with and he broke her phone so she couldn't call 911. So I did.

The dispatcher was polite and helpful and the police arrived quickly and seemed genuinely concerned and sympathetic, so I only have nice things to say about the emergency response in this town. But I didn't want to know how fast they respond. I didn't want a reminder of how calm I am in situations like this. I didn't want a reminder how much I break down and cry after the fact. But I got it, so if there is one indelible metric of Anchorage that I will take with me, it is the weekly rape report.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Multimedia message

sunlight on building in downtown Anchorage from September.

(going back through and looking at things I saved as drafts but never posted)