Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy New Year from the Center of NJ

(This is a repeat of last year's post. I'm up to my eyeballs in busy and I don't have time to reword it- the sentiment is still the same. Happy to you and yours, -Sharon GR)

New Year's Eve is my holiday.

Let me explain.

For years, I was no fan of Christmas. I didn't have a Hallmark Holiday to look forward to; it was more of a tense thing we all did at a certain time of year. There are some traditions I would cling to fiercely, but at the same time it just felt like something we had to do. I kind of wished we could chuck the whole thing.

But, after tolerating family and obligations throughout Christmas, New Year's Eve was the reward. You get to have parties with friends- people you want to be with, not have to. That's the holiday I'd look forward to every year, the one I enjoyed. It was mine, not the obligation's.

My husband, on the other hand, did not follow my Scrooginess. He is a big kid at Christmas, still in love with the wonder and awe of the whole thing. After we became a family I stopped dreading it so much, and now with the children I enjoy the holiday as much as anyone. But there's still that part of my brain that has this attachment to New Year's Eve, and won't let it go.

Our New Year's celebration will be filled with a little bit of family but a lot of friends. These are the friends who are like family now; the ones we have chosen. This holiday has no hidden meaning, no religious significance, no national commemoration. It's about the friends, happy endings and new beginnings; what could be better than that?

Happy New Year to you and yours. I hope your endings are happy and your beginnings fresh and bright.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hamilton soldier lost in Iraq

Eric R. Wilkus, military police and Hamilton Twp. fire fighter, died on 12/25/06. He was 20 years old.

"But if you could really get to know Eric, you'd see that he was loud, boisterous and made his point clear," said Ryan Kingston, a friend and fellow firefighter. "He was dependable and so easy to get along with."
The memories, tinged by tears, flooded Wilkus' friends yesterday as they absorbed the news that his name was on the latest casualty lists from the war in Iraq. Wilkus, 20, died Christmas Day in Landstuhl, Germany, from a noncombat-related injury he sustained three days earlier in Baghdad.
Wilkus was a private first class with the Army's 57th Military Police Company, 8th Military Police Brigade, and had been stationed in Korea until he was deployed to Iraq in June.
Military officials yesterday would not release further information about the cause of Wilkus' death, saying the incident is being investigated. According to the Department of Defense, he is one of nearly 3,000 Americans who have died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the 66th soldier with ties to New Jersey to lose his life in the conflict.

How much more of this must go on?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Solar program woes

Due to a substantial increase in the number of applicants, residents of Our Fair State now have to wait up to a year for approval for state rebates and installations of solar panels. There are also questions about the sustainability of the rebate program:

Once a fledgling, pie-in-the sky effort that helped fund only a half-dozen systems in its first year in business, New Jersey's Customer Onsight Renewable Energy (CORE) rebate program has become a national model of success, giving out more than $75 million to nearly 1,000 different projects in the first six months of 2006, and putting New Jersey second only to California in installed solar capacity.
It's also become a victim of its own success.
Today, there are now so many applicants the wait for approval is reaching one to two years, according to those in the solar energy industry. And that wait is scaring some people away.
“When you tell people the truth (about getting rebates), they feel like it may not ever happen,” says Patrick Sullivan, owner of Solar Power Concepts in Cape May County. “The phone calls coming into my company have been slow to none.”
On top of this, there is the looming question of whether or not the program will ever have the funding that is currently being promised.
While the Board of Public Utilities insists there will be money available to fund projects like Groff's, the Clean Energy Program states on its own Web site that the current rebate system simply isn't sustainable, given the mushrooming number of applicants.
To meet the state's clean energy goal of 20 percent by 2020, the Web site says, “this cost would be in the billions of dollars and would require an annual funding level of approximately $500,000,000,” raising electrical rates 5 to 7 percent. Several alternatives are being proposed, but none has yet to gain the upper hand.

It's a shame, but not too surprising. The amount of money we were given when we installed our panels was 70% of the total cost, and without that we coudn't have afforded it. Hopefully, a stable source of funding will be found, but I'm not holding my breath. Maybe we could ask Kuwait?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Hollidays

The Center of NJ Life wishes you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, Peaceful Kwanzaa, hope it was a Cool Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, and a good everything else.
Be Merry and Bright!

Friday, December 22, 2006

24-hour Christmas Show

Jon Solomon will do his annual Christmas Radio Show on WPRB 103.3FM starting 6PM on Dec 24th until 6PM Dec. 25th. No, that's not a typo- I really mean ith his 24-hour show.

This year will mark the 19th edition of the show, which is known regionally, nationally and internationally for its mix of rare, strange and confounding records that are directly or vaguely holiday-related. Mr. Solomon doesn't discriminate — well, not too much. Songs good, bad and bizarre make the playlist, as long as they're about Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year's or the winter months.

Have fun!

Way to go, Juan!

PoliticsNJ has named their 2006 Tops list and the Politician of the Year is...

Juan Melli of Blue Jersey!

Juan was modest and quick to say "...and no doubt, this is Blue Jersey's honor, not mine. The front-pagers all deserve credit for this, but beyond that, so does the entire community that contributes to the dialog here." Yeah, but without him there would be no Blue Jersey. It's a deserved honor.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lazy Linkin'- The Asylum Street Spankers

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Asylum Street Spankers. Not the least bit family friendly, not one tiny little bit. Without a doubt, worth your four minutes to watch.

Hat tip to The Opinion Mill. I followed the link there and have had the song stuck in my head ever since.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A quote that I can't forget now that I've heard it

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. "
-John Kenneth Galbraith

(Hat tip to someone who used this in a signature, I'm sorry I don't remember who.)

I see a pattern here

Our Fair State has joined a dozen others yesterday in suing the EPA to lower soot levels from smokestacks in order to improve our respiratory health and save lives.

The states argue that the Bush administration is ignoring science and its own experts in refusing to slightly reduce the allowed threshold for soot. The "fine particulate matter" in soot contributes to premature death, chronic respiratory disease and asthma attacks, said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The pollution also leads to more hospital admissions and other public health costs, he said.
"The overwhelming scientific consensus is that fine particles cause respiratory disease and premature death. I am hopeful that this lawsuit will succeed in compelling EPA to establish standards that will protect the public from the serious threat posed by particulate pollution," New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said.

Yesterday, the Bush administration changed the rules on releasing detailed info on the toxic chemicals that companies emit into the air, water and on land.

The Bush administration yesterday exempted thousands of companies from providing detailed information about the toxic chemicals they release into the air and water and onto the land, easing the reporting requirements under the nation's premier environmental right-to-know law.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the EPA's decision "puts the interests of corporate polluters ahead of the health and safety of the American people." Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.) called the change a "step backwards" because it "limits information that community residents can receive about chemicals near their homes."
The rule change was opposed by public health and environmental organizations and government agencies in 23 states. It had the backing of the chemical, electronics, petroleum and plastic industries as well as fabricated metal facilities, foam manufacturers, food processors and utilities.

Y'know, I spent yesterday home sick with asthmatic bronchitis, so as I sit here typing this I'm coughing. Coincidence?

(cross-posted at Blanton's and Ashton's)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Raging Rudolph

A holiday classic. Not for the family.

Does my nose amuse you? Is it funny, like a clown?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Duck and cover

At dinner the other night, when the kids were telling me about their day, they mentioned the "emergency" drill they had at school. Not a fire drill, mind you; but a lockdown drill. The kids had to huddle in corners of their classrooms so they couldn't be seen from the window next to the door to their rooms. The blinds have to remain open so instructions can be recieved from emergency personell outside if need be. In the younger kid's class, the teacher kept them quiet by reading a story; in the older's room, they were able to be silent by themselves. Their classrooms had both gotten a good review because they couldn't be seen from the hallway.

I sat there in horror as they matter-of-factly relayed this.

I guess the world we live in does bring about this sort of thing, but all I could think of was the sepia-toned reels of duck and cover drills from the 1950s. All these kids going through the motions, unaware that it wouldn't do a damn bit of good in the event of a nuclear attack. Parents and school officials probably felt that they had to do something to try to save themselves from an unpreventable and uncontrolable threat, so this is what kids did.

And this is what kids do now. They duck and cover, hide in a corner, until the nuclear war or the gun-totin' lunatic passes them by.

So much for that

Spent a fortune today on the annual cleaning of the carpets.

It took about ten hours for a cat to throw up on the newly clean floors.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Counsel equal

Ad # 4:

Tell it to her Tuesday- roadside edition

This was a thought-provoking one, so I thought I'd play along with Janet:

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I were on our way home from Philadelphia. On the way we spotted a man pulled over to the side of the road. Assumably his family was waiting in the car. He was flagging drivers down and my boyfriend pulled over. He told us that his car had broken down and that help was on the way, but that unfortunately he did not have all the money he needed to pay for the tow truck. So he was asking strangers, out of the kindness of their hearts, for anything up to fifteen dollars to contribute to the total cost. He also offered to pay us back if we were willing to give our address to him. My questions to you this week are this:

1. Would you have stopped in the first place? Why or why not?
No. Because I'm suspicious and cynical, and because there's a better-than-good chance I've got kids in the car. I would, however, note where I was, stop the car about a mile away, and call 911. Anybody who's got real car trouble will be helped by police. I don't believe the tow-truck story, either- last time I got a tow no one asked me for a dime until after I was safe.
Once upon a time, I was with friends who did stop to help someone like that. It was an older couple and we were a bunch of teenagers out at night, and the guys in the group changed a tire for the folks. I wouldn't have stopped if I'd been by myself; I've seen Silence of the Lambs.

2. Are there any factors that would contribute to your stopping or not stopping that would ultimately change your answer?
Nope. Even if I forgot my cell phone and I couldn't help, I'm confident that a bundle of other folks have theirs and would have called.

3. If you stopped, would you or would you not give him the money he asked for?
Hell no. No more than I buy that painting the guy needs to sell down the shore to get bus fare home, or any other random give-me-money scheme.

4. If you gave him the money, would you supply your address?
I haven't even given you good folks my last name- why would I give some stranger my address?

5. Does time of year or time of day effect your answer?
No. I guess the idea here is because it's cold maybe I'll react differently, but once again I'll call police and they will be out to check up, so I don't feel like I've abandoned anyone to the elements.

Bless him for he has sinned

He said what?

A pastor delivering the invocation at the opening of yesterday's Senate session included in his prayer a condemnation of gay marriage.
"We curse the spirit that would come to bring about same-sex marriage," the Rev. Vincent Fields, pastor of Greater Works Ministries in Absecon, prayed as lawmakers
istened, heads bowed. "We ask you to just look over this place today, cause them to be shaken in their very heart in uprightness, Lord, to do that is right before you."
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), a co-sponsor of that bill, said it was "completely inappropriate" for Fields to include the issue in the invocation.
"I do not think a pastor should be using the microphone in the Senate for a prayer to open the session by lobbying for or against something," Weinberg said. "Usually, if you're going to lobby members you have to wear a lobbyist badge."

Well, you may try to curse the spirit that would come to make all people treated equally, but leave me out of it.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A hole on our couch

When things are good, you get used to them.

Over there on the right, in the little "about me" bit, I list things that I feel identify me. I said "pet owner" because I have three cats and two greyhounds. The Me I am used to and good with has two greyhounds. Even though Toasty died earlier this year, I will often accidentially still refer to my older dog and my younger dog, because I was used to it and things were good that way.

I met a dog in the parking lot of the vet office today. He was 14 years old and had three legs, so I commented that my younger dog also has three legs.

However, my younger dog had just died, minutes earlier. She became sick over the weekend and went into renal failure quite suddenly, and when it became apparent that she couldn't recover, we had to put her down. It had nothing to do with the cancer that took her leg, which is what we had been expecting; the blood tests to tell us why haven't come in yet. I'd like to know, but knowing why won't make me used to it or make it good.

There's a hole on my couch, where Summer used to be.

I'm not used to it, and it's not good.

Summer in her yard, 11/2006

Keep Thinking Equal

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Think Equal

Think Equal.

When you follow that link, please, please note the contribution link on the bottom left. This ad should be on the air in Our Fair State.

Princeton HealthCare Hospital Move update

On Dec. 13 the state Health Planning board will host a public hearing on the decision to move Princeton Hospital to the FMC property on Rt. 1 in Plainsboro:

The hearing could be the only opportunity for the public to comment on the proposed hospital re location before the board meets Jan. 4, 2007, to offer its nonbinding recommendation for or against state authorization, known as a certificate of need, for the project.
It will be up to the commis sioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services to decide on state approval for the hospital proposal, which also will re quire local approvals from Plainsboro to proceed.
Copies of Princeton HealthCare's certificate of need application are available for review at the Princeton Public Library, the New Jersey State Library in Trenton and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, also in Trenton.
The Dec. 13 hearing will be held in the auditorium of the John Witherspoon Middle School, 217 Walnut Lane, Princeton Township. It will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., with a three-minute time limit per speaker. Concise written comments may be submitted as well during the hearing.

Hopefully, the state will see the need to expand hosptal services in this section of Central New Jersey and let Princeton HealthCare move the hospital.

Moon Base!

NASA wants to build a moon base! Really! By 2024.

My kids have this horrifically dated book, which was their father's, called You Will Go To The Moon. I wonder how wrong it will be- and what will be right in it?

Friday, December 01, 2006


Great things are going on over at Blue Jersey. There's a lot of discussion of marriage equality and the Supreme court decision and deadline. The property tax committee proposals have been presented.

And with all this, I still can't get into politics right now.

It started about two weeks before the election. I'd love to blame the holidays, but I've barely done anything so far. I'm just burned out on it all.

Am I the only one?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Working where you live

The upside to working in the town where you live: you can't go anywhere without seeing anyone you know.

The downside: you can't go anywhere without seeing anyone you know.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

As they often do

My husband attempted a simple home repair project this weekend.

(Those of you who own homes are alrealy laughing. What were we thinking?)

Anyway, we have three (formerly four) cats. The male we have now has had urinary tract problems, therefore when he used to get infections he'd pee wherever was convenient. The old man kitty we had then had to hit those same spots, until there were some corners that were simply horrible. Cat urine will soak into the padding and the floorboards, and after that no amount of cleaning will kill the smell. So, over the years, we've had to cut out and replace floorboards (and occasionally wallboards & molding.) Andrew's gotten quite good at this, unfortunately. We then clean the heck out of the carpet and put in new padding, then feed the cat there for a while and they cease to relieve themselves in that area.

There is one corner of our office that has become the worst of all. There is an outside door there that we never open and it seemed like the boy cats had gotten in a pissing war with strays outside. When it rained, the humidity would just bring out the smell. When we put storage units there so they couldn't have access any more, they started hitting the area around it, too. We can no longer clean it and the smell has become unbearable.

So, Andrew decided that before we have the carpets professionally cleaned (like we do every winter,) he'd do the floorboard thing.


He pulls up the carpet to find out- ahh, you homeowners saw this coming, didn't you?- that it was much worse than we imagined. The screen door outside had been basically funneling water in for years. ("Hadn't these people ever heard of caulk?") It wasn't the humidity that brought out the smell- it was probably fresh water. The flooring, the subfloor, the sill under the door had to be replaced. We had to buy a new door, and we'll probably want a new storm door too.

Now I wish we'd opened that door more often. We might've noticed before now. The best luck I guess we had in this is that we found no mold or termite damage.

So, what started as a simple weekend home project that should have taken a day or maybe a day and a half has run way over schedule- as home projects often do. We both have to work so we haven't even gotten to cleaning the carpet or running new pads, plus we've found a few more areas that could do with the new floorboard treatment. So much for a one-weekend project.

I love my cats, but when they go to the great litterbox in the sky, there shall be no more cats. At least when my dog had an accident recently, she had the decency to poop on a bathroom floor.

Where the hell IS Central Jersey?

dennismcgrath posed this question yesterday afternoon; there's a discussion of it on BlueJersey.

I'm in favor of defining it by county: Mercer, Monmouth, Middlesex, Hunterdon, and Somerset. Not Union. It's in North Jersey, by culture if not by geography.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hope it was happy round-up

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Me? Well, my jeans are too tight today- I guess that means it went well.

If you haven't seen these yet, here are some good Thanksgiving weekend links:

Turkeys who got the hell outta Ramsey.

Rob S. has the classic WKRP Thanksgiving Turkey Drop.

Proud Members of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy should visit BlueJersey.

Jay's got some Grattytude.

Have fun, y'all. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Don't let the door hit ya...

GOP officials are passing on budget bills and some other stuff they don't want to deal with, wrapping up the lame-duck a week earlier than anticipated and dumping as much as they can into the next session, so the Dems will have less time to focus on their own agenda.


Friday, November 17, 2006

If you won't do it, we'll do it ourselves.

So says Atlantic City about the indoor smoking ban.

The city council in Atlantic City on Wednesday introduced a measure to ban smoking indoors in workplaces, which passed 9-0. Hearings will be held at the council's next two meetings, with a final vote late in December. The law would take effect 30 days after signing, so maybe sometime early next year, AC will be smoke-free.

Atlantic City Asm. Jim Wheelan proposed a bill to repeal the casino loophole in Our Fair State's Indoor Smoking Ban, but it has been languishing in committee since January. The state law does allow cities and towns to adopt their own, tougher limits.

I'm sure the casinos will lobby heavily and mount any possible legal challenge, so they're in for a fight, but the health of the people who work in the hospitality industry is worth it. The casino workers have been treated as a second class for too long. Kudos to the council of Atlantic City for this move.

(cross-posted on BlueJersey)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm goin' to hell!

I kinda always suspected that, but now I know. A teacher in Kearny knows who should go and told his class about it:

"I would never have suspected something like this went on in a public school," (student Matthew) LaClair said yesterday.
He said (teacher David) Paszkiewicz told students that if they didn't accept Jesus, "you belong in Hell." He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the "Big Bang."

The kid knew he wouldn't be believed, so he made recordings of the teacher to back up his claims. So, this "teacher", when confronted, stood up and faced the allegations!

No, of course not. He lied about it. Ain't that grand?

On Oct. 10 - a month after he first requested a meeting with the principal - LaClair met with Paszkiewicz, (principal) Somma and the head of social studies department.
At first Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then LaClair reached into his backpack and produced the CDs.
At that point Paszkiewicz remarked, according to LaClair, "Maybe you're an atheist. You caught the big Christian fish."

So, according to this teacher, those who disagree with him on religion are probably athiests- and since they don't buy into his version of accepting Jesus, they get to go to hell, too. But I seem to remember there being some rules about lying...

The follow-up is that the school has "taken corrective action," whatever that means. (It's a personell matter so I don't expect them to be public in what has been done.) Let's just hope that the teacher has learned a lesson somewhere.

(Big hat tips to Steven Hart and DBK, who got to this story in a more timely manner than I.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Property Tax "reform"

The Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services will be making its recommendations on Wednesday, along with the other committees charged with property tax reform in Our Fair State. The Star-Ledger this morning:

The idea of abolishing 600 school districts and replacing them with one for each county has faded in favor of creating "super" county superintendents to oversee local school officials and spending, members of a committee studying the issue said.
Another of the more radical ideas considered by the Committee on Government Consolidation and Shared Services -- the creation of a state board that would identify which towns and school districts should merge -- remained unsettled as legislators debated how to give voters the final say.
Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex), the committee chairman, also said a proposal to shift fire district elections and budget votes from a Saturday in February to the November general election is being crushed under heavy lobbying by firefighters.
"Would you believe the most controversial idea is shifting the fire district elections?" Smith said. "On one hand there is more accountability on fire budgets, on the other hand the argument is let the firefighters do their thing. It's turning into a bit of a bear."
A proposal to shift school board elections and budget votes from April to November will be one of the recommendations.

So, let's see: instead of consolidating school districts to save money, we'll add another layer of bureaucracy on top of the 600+ that we already have! And, since the firefighters don't want to give up their fiefdom and risk accountability on their budgets, we'll let them keep their own separate elections, regardless of the expense- even while we combine the others.

I want to hear the committee's explanation on exactly how this will lower my property taxes. Maybe that will be what we hear on Wednesday?

Tell it to her Tuesday-under the covers

Janet asked about favorite remakes today (also known as covers.) Covers are best when they aren't a carbon copy, but still respect the original. There are a few:

  • Cake, "I Will Survive." It rocks.
  • Foo Fighters, "Baker Street." This was a great song by Gerry Rafferty, a mainstay of late 70s AM radio. Apparently a lot of folks covered it, but I thought the Foo's version was a particularly good version.
  • Matthew Sweet, "Do Ya." I heard this song on the radio exactly once, then went out and bought the album. I hate to spend money at all, so you know how much I loved it. The cool thing is, the recording on Live at 6A is a sound check, not for an audience; they played the hell out of it because they love the song.
  • Soft Cell, "Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go." Everyone and their twin sister covered this one, but I have a soft spot for the big ol' 80s one hit wonder version.
  • Ataris, "The Boys of Summer." Can't explain why, this just works.
  • Lyle Lovett, "Summer Wind." It's not better than Sinatra's version, but it's hard to put Lyle Lovett with one of my favorite songs and not be happy about it. Am happy.

So that's it. Enjoy the rainy Tuedsay.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What a loss.

"60 Minutes" reporter Ed Bradley dies

My mother used to watch 60 Minutes religously. Every Sunday after dinner she'd sit with her cigarettes and vodka & 7up and watch while she painted her nails. I used to sit with her and even tried the nail thing, but it was not to be, and I couldn't go for the cigarettes or vodka either. But sometimes even now, if we're done dinner early enough or if it's on late because of football, I still curl up on the couch, with a beer and cleaner air, and watch 60 Minutes.

The Ed Bradley reports were always a highlight. He will be missed.

(via Professor Kim)

Cleaning house

Took down the campaign blogs from the sidebar, along with blogs either I stopped reading a while ago or stopped updating months ago. If there's something that belongs in my sidebar that isn't there (like your blog), let me know and I'll add it.

I also took down my signs and bumper stickers yesterday and today. It's like seeing Christmas lights on January 7th- no more, please, we're all done for this year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Jersey Election Results 2006

Big, big searches in the last 24 hours looking for local election results for Our Fair State. So, here they are, by county:

Bergen (Not updated at post time)
Cape May

I can't find info for Salem County or Camden County, sorry.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monday, November 06, 2006

Polls open Tuesday 11/7 from 6AM-8PM

New Jersey voters can vote from 6AM-8PM tomorrow. I heard though the grapevine that people are suprised to hear that the polls open at 6AM even though it's been a few years since it was changed from 7AM. So, go vote before work! (Apparently there isn't any waiting line to speak of at that hour, either.)

Here's this cool primer on the ballot questions in New Jersey from the League of Women Voters (Thanks Jay!)

There are identification reqirements to voting, see the list here. Bring ID with you or you may have to vote provisional.

I have had DOZENS of searches come to this blog with the question "am I registered to vote in New Jersey". You can check if/where you are registered by contacting your county Superintendent of Elections, list by county here.

I know I'm preaching to the converted here- you don't come to a New Jersey political blog unless you care about the political process- but I'll say it anyway: GO VOTE TOMORROW! The world has many peoples fighting and dying for the right to have a say in their government, and here in the Greatest Country On Earth people blow off voting because they forget, are too tired, or it's raining, or there's something good on TV. That's pathetic. It is your greatest right and obligation; exercise it tomorrow.

Small-town politics

(I took these pictures out of the windshield of a moving car (I was a passenger!) so I must apologize for the quality. )

The small Central Jersey town of Hightstown is having a mayoral election this year. The incumbent, Republican Bob Patten, clearly has drawn support from both sides of the political spectrum, to judge by the number of "Democrats for Patten" signs you will see as you drive down Main Street, as I did yesterday.

Some of the signs are put up by genuine Democrats supporting the mayor, I'm sure. But, somehow, I don't really believe the particular folks whose lawns are pictured above are "Democrats" when they put their signs right next to the Kean JUNIOR, Chris Smith, and Coolbaugh (the Republican candidate for county surrogate) signs, do you?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Busy weekend

Light blogging this weekend. Not like I blog much on weekends anyway, but what spare time I have will be spent on GOTV efforts for Carol Gay.

It's last push time. Go forth and push.

Friday, November 03, 2006

No accountability

Congress tells auditor in Iraq to close office

Seems that Stuart W. Bowen Jr. and his agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, was doing so good a job at auditing the occupation officials (getting 'em convicted on bribery charges, exposing Halliburton as having done shoddy work, that sort of thing) that they've been eliminated.

Can't have any accountability out there, can we?

BTW, Stuart's a Republican and has served with Teflon W since Texas. But, with Dear Leader George, if you go out of line (and be honest,) you're thrown out.

Please, oh please, America, if you ever needed a reason to go vote, it's to get this rubber-stamper Congress changed. Throw the bums out.

(hat tip to Red State Blues at Blondesense, via Tami. )

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- Cut the price

Hamilton has sought a discount on the Klockner Woods deal, and credit for the interest paid so far, from Superior Court Judge Linda Feinberg:

In a letter to Feinberg, township attorney Paul Adezio explains that a plan by a township consultant shows that at least 34 homes -- and as many as 40 with zoning variances -- could be built on the site. The $4.1 million price, Adezio says, was based on the ability of Fieldstone to build 41 homes on the land.
"Additionally, since the parties were mutually mistaken as to the number of buildable lots on the property when they entered into their agreement ... the Township will ask the Court to consider correcting the mutual mistake of the parties by amending the purchase price to reflect the applicable number of lots ...," the letter said.
Adezio does not specify how much the township feels the price should be reduced. Fieldstone attorney John H. Buonocore did not return calls for comment on the suit and Adezio said he had not heard from the developer on the possibility of dropping the price or crediting the interest payments.

Hamilton also requested "guidance" on how to proceed since one councilman, attorney David Kenny, still feels the purchase was illegal because funding was never approved and will block the approval now. Yeah, good luck with that.

Rocky Swingle (what a great name, Rocky Swingle), president of Save Hamilton Open Space: "We need to save this money so we can preserve other land with it. If we spend too much on this, there is less to spend on others." The land ought to be preserved, absolutely, but at a price that Hamilton's and Our Fair State's taxpayers can afford.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Better than I could've said it

A friend sent me this story about Bush and martial law. Seems Dear Leader signed a law a couple weeks back that lets him declare a public emergency and activate state National Guard units without having to get the governor's approval or anything; the troops can be used to "supress public disorder."

How did this slide by?

Anyway, while looking the story up, I found a wonderful post by Chris Durang at HuffPo who has a lovely rant about it and Sen. Patrick Leahy's response. Go ahead and read it, he's said it all better than I would've.

"Lord, get rid of the rubber-stamping Congress, would you?"

The "H" stands for hate

Evil wraith Ann Coulter is in trouble for voting in the wrong district. Seems she's been contacted to verify her address in writing four times and has not responded, so the case will be turned over to prosecuters. Don't worry, I'm sure she'll find some way to blame it on vile liberal influences.

At the bottom of the CNN article you can sign up for news alerts, including on Ann H. Coulter. Whaddya think the H stands for?

(hat tip to DBK)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Goin' on the record

My Assemblyman, Michael J. Panter, has a blog where he wrote a post last May about rights for same-sex couples. He was very clear that he would not support a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Does that mean he would vote for a bill legalizing same-sex marriage?

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblyman Brian Stack and Assemblyman (Speaker Pro-Tem) Wilfredo Caraballo have stated that they would propose a bill to allow same-sex marriage. I just put a comment on Asm. Panter's blog requesting he tell us how he would vote. It's time to start hammering away at our legislators, telling them how we feel so they know when they go to vote on the bill (and the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, which will be out there too.)

It's time to stand up for what you believe in- "separate-but-equal" simply won't cut it. If some people aren't allowed to use the word "marriage," it ain't equal.

News-You-Didn't-Want-To-Hear Department

As if we needed another reason to lose weight, besides all the health benefits: Weighing more hurts your gas mileage.

Americans are spending more money on fuel these days in part because adult men and women on average are at least 24 pounds heavier than their counterparts were in 1960, a study has found.
Collectively, today's automobiles are burning more gasoline to haul all that extra weight around -- about 1 billion gallons more annually, in fact, than they would if drivers weighed the same as they did in 1960. At recent gas prices of $2.20 a gallon, that adds up to $2.2 billion more spent at the pump each year because of America's weight problem.
"What we have here is a socioeconomic implication of obesity," said (Sheldon) Jacobson, an industrial engineer. "If people decide as a nation to get healthier and lose weight and be fitter, not only will we have a healthier country but we're actually going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil very covertly, simply because we're going to be using less."

So, losing weight is now not just good for your heart, decreasing your chances of certain cancers and reducing your risk of diabetes. It's also a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil! (It also reduces our dependence on french fry oil...)

Google bombin'

I'm with Tami: I'm a joiner, too.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl--AZ-01: Rick Renzi--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth--CA-04: John Doolittle--CA-11: Richard Pombo--CA-50: Brian Bilbray--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave--CO-05: Doug Lamborn--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell--CT-04: Christopher Shays--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan--FL-16: Joe Negron--FL-22: Clay Shaw--ID-01: Bill Sali--IL-06: Peter Roskam--IL-10: Mark Kirk--IL-14: Dennis Hastert--IN-02: Chris Chocola--IN-08: John Hostettler--IA-01: Mike Whalen--KS-02: Jim Ryun--KY-03: Anne Northup--KY-04: Geoff Davis--MD-Sen: Michael Steele--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht--MN-06: Michele Bachmann--MO-Sen: Jim Talent--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns--NV-03: Jon Porter--NH-02: Charlie Bass--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson--NM-01: Heather Wilson--NY-03: Peter King--NY-20: John Sweeney--NY-26: Tom Reynolds--NY-29: Randy Kuhl--NC-08: Robin Hayes--NC-11: Charles Taylor--OH-01: Steve Chabot--OH-02: Jean Schmidt--OH-15: Deborah Pryce--OH-18: Joy Padgett--PA-04: Melissa Hart--PA-07: Curt Weldon--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick--PA-10: Don Sherwood--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee--TN-Sen: Bob Corker--VA-Sen: George Allen--VA-10: Frank Wolf--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick--WA-08: Dave Reichert

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Marriage Equality Decision Today

The State Supreme Court decision is expected today around 3PM. Check with for the latest news.

Keepin' fingers crossed...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Keith Olbermann does it again

Special Comment: Advertising Terrorism.

'Long about the 9 minute mark, I swear he looked mad enough to spit.

Everyone knows it's windy

Offshore wind power is a good idea, say residents of Our Fair State:

More New Jersey residents and Shore visitors favor development of offshore wind energy power plants than oppose them, and the margin grows wider if the turbine towers are to be installed farther offshore and out of sight, according to a newly released public opinion report.
Support for offshore windmills was strongest in Monmouth County, where 58 percent of people interviewed at beach locations said they could live with rotors and towers on the sea horizon, according to the poll commissioned by the state Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission.
"Overall, the study found that people favored wind power," said commission spokeswoman Karen Wolfe.
Skeptics and supporters are drawing different conclusions from the public opinion report, which was released Friday by the commerce commission and discussed Monday at a state energy master plan meeting. Based on interviews with beachgoers in the four Atlantic coastal counties during July and August, the report showed that on balance there's support for building offshore turbines, by margins that increase with the distance from shore.
"It's exactly what I said after I did my own survey two years ago," said Michael Mercurio of Island Wind, a private wind research and development firm. "Line of sight is about eight miles out in the ocean . . . About 80 percent of people are in favor as long as they don't see it."
"Because of haze and the curvature of the earth, they're not very visible three to five miles offshore," said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club, which has supported wind power.

Having a bunch of coastline and medium-bad air quality, wind is something we should be using. Sounds like folks have come to realize that.

Before you shout, "But what about the birds?" read this, and this, and while you're at it, this. To sum up: bird mortality from wind turbines doesn't compare to the numbers that are killed by power lines, buildings, cars & trucks, or anything else. Migratory birds, the ones who would be offshore here Jersey, quickly learn to fly around wind farms. I hope having a cleaner environment will impact birds positively, as well.

Tell it to her Tuesday- embarrasingly short edition

As we might have guessed, Janet's TITMT question is, "What are your favorite bands or artists of today?"

These days being AiP (After iPod) as well as having kids around a lot, I listen to even less current music than I did before. I only have a few from the current decade:

Gorillaz: When I first got the iPod, I bought exactly two songs: 19/2000 and Clint Eastwood. Not long after that, Feel Good Inc. hit the radio, and I recieved both Gorillaz CDs in my stocking this past Christmas. I love 'em both. The videos for the songs are worth seeking out, too. Bonus- Rise of the Ogre comes out next week!

Foo Fighters: we already talked about them. I saw them live last year and it was one kick-ass show.

Cake: already talked about them too. I saw them live about two years ago; also an excellent show.

That's about it. I might add more later if it comes to me, but I'm afraid I just don't listen to too much radio these days. Why bother when I can pick what I like?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Clearing the air

Earlier today a friend sent me a link to an article, which I wanted to share with Sunshine and any other pro-smoking trolls who visit CoNJL:

As Smoke Clears, Scotts Breathe Easy Behind the Bar

Since it'll be behind the paywall in a heartbeat, I'll quote here:

The researchers, from the University of Dundee, just down the road, did tests on 77 nonsmoking bar workers in and around Dundee — particularly those with asthma — examining them one month before and then for two months after the ban. Similar research has been carried out elsewhere, including in the United States.

What was most surprising about the study, said Daniel Menzies, its author, was the speed with which health improved — particularly among asthmatics — and inflammation in the bloodstream was reversed. “We didn’t expect to find that,” he said in an interview.

In an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Oct. 11, Dr. Menzies, a clinical research fellow in the Asthma and Allergy Research Group at the University of Dundee, said the study showed that the smoking ban “has led to a rapid and marked improvement in the health of bar workers.”

“Indeed,” he added, “on average employees had been working in a bar for more than nine years, but improvements in health were evident only one month after the introduction of a smoke-free policy.”

The tests recorded nicotine levels in participants’ bloodstream and showed that lung function improved by 5 to 15 percent, Dr. Menzies said, with the most significant increase among asthma sufferers. The findings also have implications for the incidence of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, he said.

Shock, that. The employees' health improved after they weren't subject to second hand smoke all day! Just like everyone who could read the previous research knew it would- except those folks who will grip their cigarettes until their dying day. Lucky for (non-casino) nonsmoking workers in Our Fair State, our dying day will be a little further off because of the indoor smoking ban.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Shameless Plug

Jeri Smith-Ready's new book, Eyes of Crow, has been released and is shipping from Amazon (and others, I'm sure.) Sweet!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tell it to her Tuesday

Janet's Tell it to me Tuesday is pretty predictable this week- last week was 80s, the week before was 70s (and I missed it!), and this week:

What are your top ten nineties artists or bands?

Again, in no particular order:

Foo Fighters: Ok, I lied about no particular order. Am lovin the Foo Fighters. We were almost out of the 1990s when I realized that all those songs I liked were from the same band, and I started buying their albums. If Janet does a top 00s list next week, they'll be on there too.

Matthew Sweet: I remember "Girlfriend" being on the radio a lot when I started dating this guy named Andrew in 1992. He bought the album. A few years later, 100% Fun came out like a kick in the head. Loved it, still do. Some of the more recent stuff is more hit-n-miss, but Girlfriend, Altered Beast and 100% Fun are fantastic albums.

Cake: Like the Foos, this might also be on a 00s list as well. Like most folks, I came in with Fashion Nugget, hearing The Distance on the radio, and have never looked back.

Offspring: Specifically, Smash. We played the hell out of this disk.

Neo Psuedo: You probably don't know who these guys were. If you do, you're lucky, and I'm sure we went to a show or ten together. While the rest of Our Fair State was gaga over Bruce and Bon Jovi, those of us in the Great Free State of South Jersey had the hoppin' local Philly music scene to enjoy. Many a night, we went with Rob S. and other friends to see these guys at the North Star Bar or some other venue, dancin' the night away. (Obviously, that was pre-kids.) These guys are the reason I'm Sharon GR not R, a story for another time. Buy Vanity Frisbee (which is good but doesn't compare to the sound they had live) and see if you can figure out why.

John Hiatt: Papagoose started playing Stolen Moments when we were in college, and I spent the next several years seeking out old and new John Hiatt albums. I know much of his music was recorded in other decades, but the 90s in music means John Hiatt to me.

Black Crowes: Loved Shake Your Money Maker and Southern Harmony and Musical Companion; I kinda lost interest after that. Great stuff, though.

Live: I was just listening to Throwing Copper yesterday. Great disk, that, and Mental Jewelry. If all you've ever heard is Lightning Crashes, you've missed a lot. Go get more.

Stone Temple Pilots: No explanation, none needed. Good stuff back in the 90s.

Again, I can't quite come up with ten. I remembered who I forgot in the 80s, though; Melissa Etheridge. Maybe next week I'll remember who I forgot in the 90s.

UPDATE- I remember who I forgot. Sonia Dada. How could I forget? Their great vocals and sound were amazing. The only song you ever heard was probably "You ain't thinkin' bout me," which is a great opening to the band, but you should have looked further; the whole album (like "Day at the Beach" after it) was remarkable. They had a 2-song cd, which was mostly a radio promotion at Christmas and had then singing "Silver Bells" on it. Lucky me, a former DJ friend gave us a copy- and I love it.

Sorry, guys. I didn't mean to forget you.

UPDATE #2- They Might Be Giants! Good lord, how could I have forgotten them? Well, maybe because they're almost a '00 band to me now- my kids listen to them incessantly. Not just their current kids albums, either- Flood and Apollo 18 are big hits here right now.

Registered? Go vote!

Today is the LAST DAY to register to vote to be eligible to vote in the election on Nov. 7th. Go here if you need information, and pass it on! You can also go vote now, if you'd like- no reason is needed to vote absentee in Our Fair State.

Watchin' the odometer change

300,000,000 Americans, as of 7:46AM today.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fightin' Gay!

Stephen Colbert really had fun with Carol Gay's name last night on the Colbert Report. Didja expect anything less?

"Chris Smith- Fun Fact: he's a coward."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ- 40 lots and a scam?

It turns out that forty lots will fit on the Klockner Woods property in Hamilton, according to a recent consultant's plan. This kind of justifies the price that was agreed to for the property, right? Right?

Except the way they did it was to reduce the lot size:

The plan by Van Note-Harvey Associates that Hamilton released yesterday shows that 40 lots could be carved out of the property off of Klockner Road without being built on top of the protected wetlands comprising one-third of the land.
Many of the lots in the Van Note-Harvey plan are smaller than those in an earlier plan drawn up for Fieldstone Associates, which sold the property to the township last year.
Council President Tom Goodwin, who had not seen the plan yesterday afternoon, questioned its conclusions and asked who ordered Van Note-Harvey to lower the lot sizes.
"Gilmore is just trying to maximize whatever he can to say he's right," said Goodwin.

And, who exactly did say they could lower lot sizes? How low can they go? Does this even justify the $4.1 million price tag for land that only cost $375,000 a few years earlier?

The council members who were trying to get this deal annulled are still on that hunt. The interest paid by Hamilton has topped $380,000- now more than the original purchase price. And while the posturing and finger-pointing goes on, the interest accumulates.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tell it to her Tuesday

Janet's Tell it to me Tuesday is "What are your top ten eighties artists or bands?"

Man, this one is hard.

I spent most of the Eighties avoiding popular music. Back BiP (Before iPod) we had to use tapes and a primitive device called a "Walkman" to avoid radio. I listened to a lot of Sixties and Seventies music in the Eighties.

However, there are some things that stand out. I won't put them as a top ten, because I simply can't choose an order:

AC/DC, specifically Back in Black- You can't beat this as a hard rock band. You can't beat this album in the Eighties. You may think you can, but you can not.

Styx- Now, I know many of the better Styx albums came out in the Seventies, but I wasn't listening to them then. Paradise Theater and Kilroy are Eighties albums, and were the jimmy john when they came out. (If you don't know what the jimmy john is, well, recognize that I just dated myself big time and leave it at that.) I must've worn out my tape of Paradise Theater, playing it over and over while I played Monopoly with my friend Carin. Interestingly, the only time I saw Styx play was in the 90s- 1991, to be exact, the night before I graduated from college.

Prince- Was a huge fan of Purple Rain and 1999. I completely lost interest after that.

Guns and Roses- Appetite for Destruction was a revelation, a true hard-rock album right when the hair bands were starting up. I first heard it when a college roommate played it in the fall of 1987 and we must've played it hundreds of times. When "Sweet Child o' Mine" became the overplayed single of the summer of 1988, I was already ready to never hear it again. But it was a great, great album.

Asia- I'm not defending it. I liked them. I did. I don't think I ever owned any of their albums, but they were one of the first bands I thought of for this list.

Don Henley- I was a massive Eagles fan, am still. I even paid the exorbitant price to see them in concert once. Henley's solo work was really good. It's part of the soundtrack from the Eighties, fer sure.

Phil Collins- Again, no defense. Face Value, No Jacket Required, Hello I Must Be Going: loved 'em. Lost interest after that, too.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers- Are they an Eighties band? Sorta. I include them because the first video I ever saw on MTV was "You Got Lucky." That's when I started listening to them. Plus, Tom's solo Full Moon Fever is a great album.

The Hooters- I lived in South Jersey in the Eighties and was lucky enough to know of the Hooters in their very early years, before their brief stint in the spotlight. I have all their early albums and EPs on vinyl, just sitting in the basement waiting for me to replay them. Once upon a time, I couldn't hear the "Nervous Night" version of All You Zombies without thinking of the original; now I can't remember the original. I should get those albums back out. Someday.

I'm sure I'll think of someone else later. For now, that's my list.

The other side of global warming.

I spent a small part of my vacation visiting my ultra-conservative, anti-choice, gun-loving uncle.

We talk about gardening a lot.

Seriously, we do talk about politics and current events some. 80% of all topics we are polar opposites but occasionally we find common ground. It always shocks me that we find common opinions, but we have more than you might think, certainly more than I expect. Maybe he's so far right and I'm so far left that we meet around the back.

Anyway, he did say something that stuck with me. He used to be a geological engineer and had an interesting perspective on global warming. Unlike most Republicans, he completely agreed that it exists and greenhouse gasses are a significant cause. He said it just doesn't bother him much. The climate changes all the time, and nature changes with it.

Now, under no circumstances does this change my opinions that the CAFE standards are ridiculously low, the Kyoto Protocals should be adopted immediately or that we should be using vastly more solar and wind power than we do. We should stop the hideous contributions we are making to climate change as soon as possible.

But it's an interesting perspective. Nature will adapt, he's right. The earth will just be a very different place than we live in now. And "we" as a race may have a very different or nonexistant place in it.

I guess the difference between him and me on this topic is that it does bother me. I have kids, and I'd like them to have a planet to live in that is able to support them. He doesn't have that worry.

Et tu, Jennifer?

The Republicans called for a focus on ethics this year. They like the "Corrupt NJ" banner because they're not the party in charge, and they've been beating the drum to ferret out corruption. You have to hand it to them; it is a noble goal.

Before pointing fingers, however, the Republicans should remember to look to their own house first:

An Assembly Democrat has asked for a criminal investigation into the role a Republican assemblywoman and her former lobbying firm played in helping the state's lottery operator gain a new contract despite bidding nearly $32 million more than a competitor.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, sent a letter Sept. 29 to Gregory A. Paw, director of the state Division of Criminal Justice, asking for an investigation to determine whether Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, and her former lobbying firm, the MWW Group, illegally helped GTech get a new five-year, $106.7 million contract when competitor Scientific Games bid $75 million.
In a quasi-court hearing before former Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. O'Hern Jr., lawyers for Scientific Games said that state officials skewed the bidding process to keep GTech and that there was a conflict of interest because the MWW Group held a public relations contract with the New Jersey Lottery while also lobbying for GTech.

A full probe will determine if there's something there, but it sure looks like there is. Certainly more than in other alleged scandals being pushed at this time of year.

Home, Home again

Thanks, Rob.

I've had a near-total news embargo for the last week, and it's been great. It sure would be nice to let my head stay on vacation for a few more days, but now it's time to get back to what's going on.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I had the hiccups something fierce after lunch. But Paul Harris’s guaranteed hiccup remedy made them go away on the first try.

I don’t know about guaranteed, but I can report that it worked for me.

(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Stupid AND Stubborn

Looks like we may be getting a second helping of Brownie:
President Bush reserved the right to ignore key changes in Congress's overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- including a requirement to appoint someone with experience handling disasters as the agency's head -- in setting aside dozens of provisions contained in a major homeland security spending bill this week.
And we've got 28 more months of following this fool down whatever blind alley he wants to lead us.


Clockworks Broken Down

I'm sorry to hear that the production of A Clockwork Orange I mentioned here has been postponed. I'm not sure what happened; the mailing list I'm on said the production was dealt a "sudden and temporarily debilitating blow." I have high hopes that the show will go on in mid to late winter.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Profiles in Courage

Firedoglake reports that NRCC head Tom Reynolds, hip-deep in the Foley scandal, decided to hold a press conference today with a whole mess o’ kids, apparently to keep reporters from asking him uncomfortable questions.

Check out this classic exchange:

Reporter: Congressman, do you mind asking the children to leave the room so we can have a frank discussion of this, because it's an adult topic. It just doesn't seem appropriate to me.

Reynolds: I'll take your questions, but I'm not going to ask any of my supporters to leave.


Reporter: Who are the children, Congressman? Who are these children?

Reynolds: Pardon me?

Reporter: Who are these children?

Reynolds: Well, a number of them are from the community. There are several of the "thirtysomething" set that are here and uh I've known them and I've known their children as they were born.

Reporter: Do you think it's appropriate for them to be listening to the subject matter though?

Reynolds: Sir, I'll be happy to answer your questions, I'm still, uh…

"Hey, I'm not saying you can't ask your questions. Fire away. Don't mind the fragile sensibilities of innocents or anything." Sheesh.

I think the bet part is the question: "Who are these children?" It gives the impression that he never even mentioned why there were there, he just was ready to duck behind them for cover. Sorry, buddy. A +2 bonus to AC isn't gonna make that much of a difference in this one.


Hey, Droogies!

So, sleepy though I am, I promised another post about an upcoming New Jersey happening, and I want to deliver. Besides, this looks like a lot of fun.

From October 26 through November 4, the Raconteur bookstore in Metuchen is presenting a staged version of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Directed by Alex Dawson, the play stars Michael Nathanson, and will be a stylistic departure from the Stanley Kubrick film (which I own on DVD but still haven’t seen – gotta do it before opening night!). Costumes are by fashion designer Anu Susi, and the press release says she “abandons the sleazy seventies vibe of Kubrick’s film for a sort of banged-up, industrial elegance: Victorian suits with goggles, massive buckled boots and, of course, the iconic bowler.” It’s a Steampunk Clockwork Orange, and I couldn’t be more intrigued.

The show is appropriate for ages 16 and up. I’m reproducing the nuts and bolts of the press release:

Oct 26 – Nov 4.
With shows on Mischief Night and Halloween!
Preview: Thurs 8pm (pay what you can!)
Fri 8:00pm/ Sat 8:00pm & 11:30pm/ Mon 8:00pm/ Tues 8:00pm/ Thurs 11:30am/ Fri 8:00pm/ Sat 8:00pm.

Tickets: $15 (student/senior/artist); $25 (general)

Tickets available in advance at both The Forum Theatre and The Raconteur (431 Main Street, Metuchen).
For reservations contact Alex at or 732.906.0009

Special weekday matinee for high schools: 11:30 am, Thurs. Nov 2
Q & A with cast and crew followed by a short discussion of the philosophical implications of Burgess' relevant fable.

I don’t know what night Kathy & I are going, but we’re not going to miss it.

(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Schecter 3:16

Too busy for a proper post right now (one on an upcoming NJ event is coming tonight), but I thought you might like to see Dem strategist Cliff Schecter lay down the smack on MSNBC. He lists the current Republican scandals with such speed and glee that it's like listening to Adam McNaughton's "Three-Minute Hamlet."

So yeah, it's a political talk show, the equivalent of professional wrestling for political junkies. But Schecter's litany is like a spinning headlock elbow drop.*


*I think; I had to go to Wikipedia for a list of wrestling moves, but that one sounded sufficiently terrifying.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Down So Low

For all my low opinion of Republican politicians, I'm genuinely shocked that some of them, including the House Speaker Dennis Hastert (IL) and Majority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), as well as the Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Tom Reynolds (NY), have been covering up for a sexual predator. Not in a million years would I have expected them to do this. Oh, and let's throw in Reps. Rodney Alexander (LA) and John Shimkus (IL), making it an even five congressman involved in this coverup.

That's beyond unreal. And beyond vile.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Divided Country, Unified Government

So, given the power of the Bully Pulpit, I’m answering Bob’s comment down below with a full-blown post.

Of course Clinton knew it was coming. You don’t walk into the lion’s den without expecting to get bitten. And as Clinton said in the interview, it’s a legitimate question. But the timing of the question was in violation of their agreement (first half on the CGI, second half on other issues), and the phrasing of the question (“people have been emailing us, so we’ve gotta ask”) was the standard cowardly Fox M.O. for broadcasting something that they don’t want to explicity say themselves. (It’s astonishing how often they use this tactic – watch Outfoxed.)

Yes, Clinton should be held accountable for his actions as president. But George Bush should be held accountable for his inaction – his lazy, head-in-the-sand, brush-clearing, gross negligence – in completely ignoring Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida until he murdered three thousand of our citizens while Bush struggled through a children’s book. And Bush needs to be held accountable for making every step this country has taken since, with the exception of the invasion of Afghanistan, a step in the wrong direction. And there’s not one branch of the government with the power or the will to hold him accountable for any of that.

We do live in a divided country, Bob. I only wish our government reflected it and fought over these issues with the contentious tenacity that people display on message boards rather than accepting them with the singlemindedness with which it embraces every new nightmare conjured up by this treacherous crew.

We need a change in government. George W. Bush is at the wheel of this car. We need someone else at the brakes.


Friday, September 29, 2006


If you haven't seen Kieth Olbermann's special commentary about Clinton's Fox News interview, you'll want to.

Dead-on, as usual.



As Sharon said, I’ll be taking the helm here for the next week. Which is a pretty good gig, I have to say, since the GR’s brew their own beer and there’s half a pizza in the fridge.

So what do I bring to the party? For the most part, snark. Snark and Doritos. And I apparently hold the secret key to embedding videos, so that’s a plus. (And, as anyone who knows me can attest, a pretty astonishing technological achievement for someone who can barely set an egg timer.) My three weapons are snark, Doritos, and embedded videos. And a fanatical devotion to the church. No, wait, I'm sorry...that's the Spanish Inquistion. I bet you weren't expecting that.

We’ll see what the week brings. I hope you stop by now and then to find out.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Busy, busy

I'll be away for the next ten days or so, paying homage to the rat who owns Florida and visiting family who live too far away.

You might have noticed that Rob S. is back in da house, and will be posting and/or crossposting here for a while. Thanks Rob!

Central NJ gas price watch- postscript

I saw $2.17 today. How long before it dips below $2?

The Fleecing of Hamilton and NJ-"Like a bad marriage"

From today's Times of Trenton:

HAMILTON -- Like a bad marriage, the GOP-controlled council is seeking to have the township's purchase of the plot known as Klockner Woods annulled because the three Republican councilmen say it violates state contract laws.
In a memo to township Business Administrator John Mason, Councilman David Kenny, who is a former municipal attorney, said the $4.1 million contract to purchase the 51-acre property is not valid because the money was never appropriated by the township council.
Kenny cites state law as well as case law that requires the governing body to appropriate money for any purchase and asks that the administration attempt to void the purchase completed in 2005.
"Accordingly, it is my view that (township attorney Paul) Adezio should file a motion with the court to set aside or vacate the judgment as it is void and in violation of the law," the memo said.

Nice try. Think it'll stick?

Hamilton Twp. is, of course, paying interest on the money it is not paying to Fieldstone Associates while it balks at honoring the horrendously overpriced deal it made. So far the interest has amounted to $330,000- almost as much as Fieldstone paid for the property when it bought it from Hamilton 2001. If this hold on another couple months, Fieldstone breaks even, regardless of whether Hamilton can pull an annulment.

No matter what, this property should be preserved wetland, but we shouldn't all have to pay through the nose like this for it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Yes We Have A Video!

Lets see if I can help you with that...

(makin' myself useful)

Carol Gay - Comcast Candidate On Demand

Carol Gay, interviewed for Comcast's Candidates On Demand.

I tried, in vain, to post the video- maybe it'll work another time. Oh well. You can just follow the link.

(hat tip to mitch at BlueJersey)

Life imitates art

So, I and my younger child had to take the oldest cat to the vet yesterday. (pleasedon'tdiepleasedon'tdiepleasedon'tdie) While waiting in the lobby there, we found a book in a stack called Stella Louella's Runaway Book. It's a cute story about a girl who misplaces a library book and runs all over town tracking it down, adding people to help her as she goes; she finally gets to the library to say she lost the book only to find out that someone turned it in for her.

The book was a Mercer County Library book that someone had left there. I returned it for the person who lost it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Remember what it's all about

We've all had a lot of fun watching the outing of the Kean JUNIOR campaign troll on Blue Jersey. Y'know, If they had just blamed it on a low-level staffer and said that they would ferret out any deceptiveness in their campaign, it would've gone away in a heartbeat. Instead, they tried to deny it without ever checking if it might be true. Lie first, ask questions later; that's the Republican way.

Now, it's time to remember this election is really all about:

A group called Military Families Speak Out has complained publicly that Kean has refused to answer its questions on Iraq. The organization, which supports Menendez's call to withdraw troops within a year, said that while Kean met with them, his answers were incomplete and he has refused repeated requests to clarify his position.

"The war in Iraq is the most important issue," Menendez said. "If you can't explain to New Jerseyans why you are sending their sons and daughters to war, you have no right to ask for their vote."

The war in Iraq IS the most important issue. That's what it's all about.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Presidential Seal

Kevin Sires, The Charlotte Observer

September Quinnipiac Poll

The headlines read about how Kean is locked in a dead heat with Menendez in yesterday's Quinnipiac poll on Our Fair State's Senate race. The actual numbers are: among likely voters, Kean Jr. 48%, Menendez 45%; among all voters, Menendez 41%, Kean Jr. 38%. With a +/- of 3.7 points, that's a statistical dead heat if I ever saw one.

Well, we've got two months for folks to see Tom Kean JUNIOR for what he truly is. In the meantime, let's look at the non-headline numbers, always the most fun part of the Quinnipiac Polls:

  • 45% approve/36% disapprove of the way Corzine is handling the job as governor. That's up from 44/43 in July, and 39/41 in June. Maybe it's the great way he's winning over people to his sensible financial ways? Maybe it's that he got the ball rolling on legislative changes to property taxes? Or, maybe it's that gas prices have decreased steadily since July. (Why do I just know it's that last one, even thought the Gov. has not thing one to do with it?)
  • We hate the state legislature, 27% approve/55% disapprove. Get goin' on that property tax reform, guys, or you'll all be looking for new jobs next time around.
  • We hate George W. Bush, too: 33% approve/64% disapprove. We know what we don't like here in Jersey, and we don't like Bush. Nice to know.
  • 41% of us think the federal investigation of Bob Menendez is politically motivated, 42% think it's a serious issue. The 41% are right.
  • 48% of us think Tom Kean Jr. is a George Bush Republican who supports administration policies. That number has heald pretty steady over the last couple months. I'm not sure about this one, personally; Junior has gone out of his way to distance himself from Bush policies lately, see the point above about how we feel about Bush. I won't vote against him because he's a Bush lackey; I'll vote against him because he's basically useless as a legislator, he's running on daddy's name alone, and that once he's in office he'll be a Bush lackey.
  • 50% of us think the United States is losing the war in Iraq, 20% don't know, 29% say winning. 59% of us think that it was the wrong thing to do to go to war with Iraq. Nice to know we pretty much agree on this one.

Completely aside, on every Quinnipiac poll result site, they include a pronunciation guide on their name: it's KWIN-uh-pe-ack. I think it's harder the other way- hearing the name on the radio, then trying to spell it.

Full articles on the Kean JUNIOR Troll story

The New York Times
The Star-Ledger

Am glad that the Star-Ledger mentioned what the XT's original post was about: the fact that the Kean JUNIOR campaign is basically making up a scandal to smear Menendez:

The posts challenged a story by one of the site's 10 contributors in which a former House ethics lawyer, Ellen Weintraub, appeared to corroborate Menendez's claim that he got verbal clearance in 1994 to rent a property to a nonprofit agency he helped to win millions in federal funding.

I wish they'd mentioned it earlier in the article, and explained what XT found in the article- evidence reported in 1996 that Menendez had sought- and recieved- confirmation from a House Ethics lawyer that his renting of real estate to a non-profit did not violate confilct-of-interest laws.

The Kean JUNIOR folks are hoping that manufacturing a scandal smearing Menenedez will help them translate a slim lead into a win in November. Um, yeah- blowing up a ridiculously minor issue, being outed on it, then getting your press person's name in the paper as being deceptive- Good move!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wait! It gets better!

The Star-Ledger picked up the Kean JUNIOR Troll Story. So has a New York Times blog.

From The Star-Ledger Newslog:

(Jill) Hazelbaker argued that the address Melli said was on the postings is not the campaign’s IP address.

But it is the same IP address that appears on numerous official campaign e-mails sent by Hazelbaker to The Star-Ledger through the course of the campaign.

Oh, sweetie, you are SO nailed.

Kean staffers trollin'

I have almost no time to blog today, so please forgive the lazy linkin'. I just spent all my on-line time for the day reading how Tom Kean JUNIOR staffers, after spending the last few days making up scandals to try to smear Menendez, are now posting troll comments on Blue Jersey.

Read the comments. The thread is hysterical, and very, very sad.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast! The Truth.

In February 1996, the Jersey Journal ran an article stating that then-Congressman Bob Menendez had approval from a House Ethics lawyer to rent his former business office to the North Hudson Community Action Corporation. Why does this matter? Well, as Xpatriated Texan so clearly explains to us on Blue Jersey, it's important because the Kean JUNIOR folks are going out of their way to make it sound like it was some kind of corrupt deal, when actually it's nothing of the sort.

Remember, of course, the Kean JUNIOR folks don't have a shred of evidence of a scandal- they're just trying to make it sound like there is one. Pathetic.

This swift boat is filled with bilge rats.

Sing it, matey!

Ahoy, mateys! Janet's Tell it to me Tuesday question this week is a pretty good one- What are the best albums you believe most people have never heard? Aye, Aye!

The album that jumped to mind first is easy: Live from 6A, The Conan O'Brien Show: Bear with me here. It's not a comedy album nor clips of his best interview segments- it's some of the best of his musical guests. Just look at the list: Ani DiFranco, David Bowie, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Elvis Costello- and, of course, Matthew Sweet perfoming "Do Ya", which is the reason I bought the album. I heard that song once, on the radio, and bought the album without hearing another thing on it. If it had been the only good performance on it, it still would've been worth the money, but I was pleasantly surprized to find that the whole damn collection is that good. Really, check it out.

Another unheard great: John Hiatt, Stolen Moments. John Hiatt has already been mentioned by someone else responding to Janet's question, but not this album. It's hard to pick a favorite John Hiatt album, but this one has special memories for me. Understand, though, that it's not its sentimentality that makes it special; the fact that it's so good is why I had it playing at one of the best moments in my life. (It's still a little joy, a little peace, and a whole lotta light.)

Bear with me on this one: Keith Richards, Talk is Cheap. Yep, I just plugged a Keith Richards album. Never was a Stones fan, even. Y'know, I won't even try to defend the choice; just go find it in a discount bin somewhere, buy it, and you'll know I'm right. It's really that good. Oooo- cool tie-in- Richards is playing a pirate! Arr!

I know I'll probably think of more as the day goes on, so I'll put them in the comments. What be ye favorite hornpipe, mateys?

Arr, me hearties!

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day! All posts today will somehow honor this imporant holiday.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Re-lighting the fire

I've kinda taken some time off politics here because, well, I've been busy, and I had a class-A case of burnout. I know this year's fight to take back the Congress is important, even if I'm not so fired up right now; so tonight, I volunteered for some phonebanking for Carol Gay.

I'm back on the bandwagon.

It's easy, when you get to push for someone like Carol Gay. If you live in the 4th, go check out her web site and see what I'm talking about. This is who we need right now.

I couldn't bring myself to listen to Bush's speech the other night, with him spewing his tired "stay the course" rhetoric while people die. People need to vote for candidates like Gay, and Rich Sexton, and Linda Stender; candidates who know that this war is unjustified, unwinnable and just plain wrong. Candidates who understand that supporting our troops means not using them as pawns to muck up Iraq only to be brought home to shrinking veteran's benefits (or worse yet, in body bags.)

The election's in less than two months. It's time now to get these folks heard.

To the woman in the copper-color minivan talking on her cell phone who had a stop sign but yet almost hit me in a clearly marked pedestrian crossing:

Hang up the damned phone and pay attention!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TITMT: What'shisface

Janet's Tell it to Me Tuesday question is:
Today I want to hear about the actors who are your favorite little known gems. You know, the type that you love to see in a movie, but from time to time even you have to look up their names?

John Cazale is the the actor who played Fredo in the best movies ever, The Godfather and Godfather II. He was only in five feature films- all of which were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Al Pacino called him his "acting partner," with whom he could have acted his entire life. When he was acting in the Deer Hunter, he became weak from bone cancer, but his fiance Meryl Streep threatened to quit if he was fired; he made it through filming and died shortly after. He died far too young.

In the spirit of Lazy Linkin' Tuesday, here's Andrew post (and the reason I know most of this,) the Story of John Cazale, from April.

Monday, September 11, 2006