Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I Hate My Neighbor’s Decorations

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I spent a few hours late thisafternoon shoveling out our driveway from the blizzard. As this is a shared driveway with our neighbors, it gave me time to reflect how much I hate their decorations.

The most obvious example is Christmas decorations. Those of you who know me are aware that my appreciation of Christmas decorations to begin with is roughly halfway between Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch. Our neighbors had giant inflatable nonsense (which couldn’t just be inflated and left there, but needed to have the frequently-running extra-loud inflator running half the time), as well as extra-blinky epilepsy-inducing lights which kept making me think the cops were outside our house (which, in our neighborhood, is not uncommon). Those decorations were up for the entire month of December.

But the decorations I hated most today were the three shovels standing in their front yard, which remained purely decorative as I shoveled the entirety of the driveway for the second time this week.

Secret of Happiness + Holiday Gift Guide

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

So, this post is a bit long, but it’s the most important one I’ve made all year. A few years from now, I hope to have written a book exploring how to be happy. But in the meantime, I can give you some of the best information on happiness currently existing. Studies have shown that your happiness is strongly affected by the happiness of your friends, and this effect persists through multiple degrees, so your happiness is also influenced by the happiness of your friends’ friends, and even their friends. The upshot of this is that a great way for you to become happier is to increase the happiness of your friends, as well as (if you’re a friend or FoaF of mine) the happiness of my friends.

There have also been numerous studies associating prosocial spending with happiness, which is to say, spending money on others, especially your friends, makes you happier.

Conveniently, I have a plan that will accomplish all of this at once. My friends are really talented, and make cool stuff. So if you bought the cool stuff they made, they would be happier. Then if you gifted that cool stuff to your friends, *they* would be happier. And having given this gift, you would be happier. So you can directly increase your happiness, and the happiness of your friends, and the happiness of your friends’ friends (the latter two of which also increase your happiness), all by buying a little gift from this list to give to a friend of yours.

FOAF Holiday Gift Guide 2013


Yes, I threw my books in there as well, but let’s talk about my friends (linked names denote additional gifts for sale):

While I was at a humor writing conference, I met Kelly Potter and Michele Wojciechowski (whose name is never typed, only copied and pasted), and Jenn Dlugos.
At college I met “Terry Lee Wright” whose above book is about child slavery.
At college I also met Margaret Ronald, who in addition to engrossing short stories, has written the urban fantasy Spiral Hunt trilogy.
Ethan Zuckerman technically lives locally, but is oft traveling the world talking and writing about technology.
Rachel Barenblat, his wife, is a poet and Rabbi whose study and spirituality informs her poetry.
Over the past few years, through WordXWord I’ve had the good fortune to meet an incredible group of spoken word poets in the Write Bloody cabal. Taylor Mali is probably the most famous, but I’ve also been moved by Robbie Q Telfer, Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, Jon Sands, and Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz.
Howard Cruse is a big name in queer and underground comics circles and award-winning graphic novelist, not to mention a delightful host of occasional local arts gatherings.
Dan Carroll, an old highschool friend, is the creator of Stick Figure Hamlet.
Lex Friedman, my summer co-improv teacher, erstwhile comedy partner, and parallel universe self, is always amusing whether he’s just blogging, or parodying Dr. Seuss.


These were not solo endeavors, as games require many people, but college friends of mine worked on each of these games. Niko White on EPIC and Battlegrounds, Jeff Dougherty on Hell of Stalingrad, and on the video game side, Jess Scott and Mike Veloso on Rock Band.

In college I also met conductor Allegra Martin, whose women’s chorale is now accompanied by organist Josh Lawton, a mutual college friend.
Though my nerdy rap endeavors, I’ve met a number of interesting people, but two who I’ve kept chatting with on occasion are MC Frontalot and MegaRan, two of the bigger names in the dubiously defined Nerdcore genre.

Geez, I sure have a lot of talented friends from college, including the inimitable Katy Dieber and local writer Emily Banner, both who make jewelry.
Elissa Shevinsky, another college friend, is selling T-shirts.
I would definitely not want to go through winter without wearing custom-knit wool socks made by Debbie Baker, my personal chef. For locals, she also has knit shawls and felted bags. But then again, I’m informed that someone else is already doing a Berkshires Local List, so for this page I’ll stick with gifts created by my friends you can have shipped anywhere in the U.S.

Anyway, if you remember all those happiness studies from way back when this post started, you’ll recall that the best way to increase your happiness is to buy this awesome stuff from my friends and gift it to your friends. Failing that, share this page with your friends, who will still increase your happiness in multiple ways if they buy stuff from my friends for their friends. Thanks!

I bid you all increased happiness.

I will always make at least one post every month, without fail

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

April Fools.

Heaven and Hell

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Heaven and Hell are on my mind tonight, like the angel and devil that sit over my shoulders and tell me to do things. Actually, angel and devil aren’t quite right. It’s more like the productivity cheerleader over one shoulder, and the other shoulder has a guy who just wants to watch Daily Show episodes online and play old video games*.

Also, I might be thinking of Heaven and Hell because today (July 31, 2011) is the scheduled date of the apocalypse, according to some very scientific calculations that I made up in a column titled Apocalypse Soon. Some say the world will end in ice, some in fire**, and if it ends in fire, you’ll want my tips for staying cool.

But the main reason I’m thinking of Heaven and Hell is because I experienced them both this weekend.

Friday was Comedy Heaven. Performing locally just a few minutes from home, my improv troupe and I put on a fabulous show, culminating in an incredible musical nightmare scene where a teddy bear came to life, poisoned the dog, revealed itself as a demon, and was killed by earl grey. And then I had a 10-minute set during the stand-up portion that went very well, everyone laughing at all of my jokes.

Saturday was Comedy Hell. As the opening act, I had 15 minutes of material prepared. I arrived at the (farther afield) venue to find the headliner had an emergency, and I was the whole show. I did 15-20 minutes of surefire material, and the audience was dead like Jerry Garcia. The only thing they’d responded to was my rap, so after a brief intermission, I came back and did a lot of freestyle rapping, but even that did not impress them. An hour after I’d stepped on stage, I’d exhausted all my material and my voice, and judging from audience reaction you wouldn’t think I’d outperformed the salad.***

I think any comedian has stories of comedy heavens and comedy hells. I sure hope to get more heaven stories soon. But I guess I better hurry up; I hear the apocalypse is today.

*Like Diablo2, while I wait for Diablo3 to come out. Oh, Diablo… maybe it is a devil on that shoulder.

**And some say it will end covered in lobster thermador au crevettes with a white wine sauce and shallots. Gastrocalypse now.

***To be fair, burlesque is always popular, so people like to watch salad dressing.

Roof or Consequences

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Or for me, roof with consequences. The other weekend I had a non-delightful reminder of some of the downsides of home ownership. I managed to survive mostly unscathed, if very wet, cold, and unhappy.

Thankfully, happiness should be on the rise soon. Tomorrow night I’m performing both stand-up and improv comedy at an event I’m led to believe has already sold out on advance tickets alone. Normally we don’t even sell out including walk-ins. So this is very exciting to me, and hopefully a harbinger* of more good things to come, as we’re hoping to make the improv/stand-up comedy night a monthly event

All of which means I should probably write some new jokes. I write some new jokes for every show, but some of my good material from previous events I’ll re-use. But I worry people won’t want to hear the same joke twice. This is why I like improv comedy so much. But the best stand-ups hone, practice, and refine their material until it’s great. I guess that touring helps you tell the same jokes without boring people**. Me, I like performing locally, which means new material.

A consequence of this is that I start feeling like anything funny that happens, I should try to make use of it. For example, yesterday I was (subcontractedly) recording a simple website review for a client. My recording is intended solely for their informational purposes, it’s not a commercial of any sort. Normally my satisfaction ratings are all very high. This company gave me only a medium rating, and a reason given was “the user sounds like a Canadian”.***

What’s that all aboot? Anyway, it’s possible I should try to carefully save all my various happenstances for columns and stand-up performances, but that way lies madness.***** In the meantime, I’m reading some of those books linked a few posts ago, eating lots of tasty food, and playing board games. Life is good.

*Can you have good harbingers? I suppose so. I just immediately think “of DOOM!” when I hear the word harbinger. Also the word cupcake. It’s possible there’s something wrong with me.

**Unlike, say, trephining.

***And walks like an Egyptian****.

****Which probably looks very different than you’d expect, given recent events.

*****Or Sparta.

Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Well, it’s officially Thanksgiving. And if I had to name one thing I was most thankful for, it would probably be my friends. They are smart, funny, kind, talented people. And heck, if you’re reading this, there’s a pretty good chance you’re one of them, since I am not that famous. So thanks.

Now, to business. And by business, I mean, helping you become happier. How can I do that? Simple. A study from 2008 showed that your happiness is influenced by the happiness of your friends. And not just first-degree friends, but their friends, and even their friends. The upshot of this is that a great way for you to become happier is to increase the happiness of your friends, as well as (if you’re a friend of mine) the happiness of my friends.

Conveniently, I have a plan that will accomplish both of these goals. See, as previously mentioned, my friends are really talented, and make cool stuff. So if you bought the cool stuff they made, they would be happier. Then if you gifted that cool stuff to your friends, *they* would be happier. And with these two groups of people now happier, you and I are (statistically speaking) likely to be happier as well. So here are some awesome gifts to help you increase happiness all around:

Yes, I threw my three books in there as well. But there’s also an award-winning graphic novel, two great fantasy novels, a kama sutra for Snuggie-wearers, an incredible stick-figure version of Hamlet, and a novel about child sex trafficking. All written by friends of mine. And not all books are on Amazon; if you’re willing to brave the LuLu storefront, you can find two poetry chapbooks, one children’s book, and even my own NaNoWriMo novel Shards.

Or perhaps you’d prefer a game?

These were not solo endeavors, as games require many people, but friends of mine worked on each of these games. Heck, I have *two* friends who worked on Rock Band 3. I did mention my friends were awesome, right? And finally, some unique and handmade gifts that aren’t available on Amazon. But they’re worth navigating other sites for!

You could visit etsy, if you wanted some incredibly beautiful felted bags, some of which are hand-knit. Or some lovely beaded and baubled necklaces and bracelets. Or some silver earrings, in limited supply. I had other friends with etsy stores, but they appear to be on hiatus.

One of my friends who worked on Rock Band 3 has his own Chamber Music CD.

One of my friends who did not work on Rock Band 3 made Handmade Cards, and so did her patients.

Finally, for people who are too stressed and don’t need any more material goods, you should get a gift certificate for a massage, presuming you live near one of my masseuse friends in Boston (sarah.reinfeld) on hiatus until mid-2011 or NYC (kimicat). Both can be emailed, and tell them I sent you.

So that’s it. A whole bunch of stuff, which you should buy from my friends and give to your friends. I bid you all a pleasant Thanksgiving, and may you increase happiness in the world.

The Game’s Afoot

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Why can’t you use an 11″ box for that game?

Anyway, I’m a lifelong gamer. I grew up playing many of the same traditional games everyone plays, such as Monopoly, Checkers, Cribbage, and so forth. Then I got a Nintendo and suddenly I realized I was a video gamer too. My enjoyment of console role-playing games has continued to this day, over many different systems. In college I played a lot of Magic: The Gathering, and in the past few years I’ve found and nurtured a board gaming addiction (mostly Euro-style games, but a smattering of other types as well). But I guess my point is, I think of myself as a gamer, to the point where I identify much more with gamers as a community than I do with… well, many other nebulous ideas that people form self-identities around.

And so I can’t help but be pleased when gamers do good. And I don’t mean well (although that’s nice too), I mean good. With all the destruction in Haiti, it makes me feel good to see various online gaming communities coming together to try to help. BoardGameGeek, where I spend far too much time reading about new board games that I have no space or money for and totally want, is offering incentives to all site members who donate. A link there pointed me to DriveThruRPG, where well over $1,000 worth of downloadable RPG content from various vendors of goodwill has all been made available in one giant package for the price of a $20 donation to Haiti.

I think that some people look down on the gaming community, because as with most matters of taste, people who enjoy different things than you must be ignorant benighted heathens. I don’t really feel like spending pages here detailing the many benefits of gaming (from social interaction, to improving analysis skills, to staving off Alzheimer’s, to every little kid’s favorite example in the 80s of hand-eye coordination), but the larger fact is that people who have different recreational preferences sometimes seem to acquire a holier-than-thou attitude.*

And thus although gaming and gaming communities need no other justification, I can’t help but feel good when I see things like this. It makes me want to say, “See this? My people, the gaming people, these are good people.” Am I overly defensive? Maybe. It’s not as if there aren’t countless other examples of gamers doing good, from various BGG board game drives for charity, to Child’s Play which has given millions of dollars to children’s hospitals.

Of course, another important thing to remember is that lots of gamers do good without some sort of large announced structure, as do lots of knitters, truckers, sports fans, writers, farmers, waiters, and so forth. We just don’t hear about things as much when individuals do them without P.R.. The result is that a few affiliations who often institutionalize the goode workes (such as churches) get much more positive press, which somehow leads some people to believe that certain affiliations are inherently much more generous.

Which is not to belittle the donations made with good PR. Sure, Maimonides may have pegged fully anonymous giving as the highest form of charity, but if PR is what inspires people to give, you won’t find me gainsaying it. The example that always comes to mind for me is Alan Shawn Feinstein, a Rhode Island philanthropist who is a veritable charitable typhoon**, and whose name is consequently on a lot of things. So is Carnegie’s. I think if you donate millions of dollars to good causes, you should get to enjoy some fame from it. And churches should be lauded for encouraging charity, because I’m all for encouraging goodwill in the public eye. So there’s nothing wrong with recognizing the publicized donations, so long as we also remember the many good people who donate quietly and anonymously, interested only in doing good and not even in getting any credit (individual, group, or otherwise) for it.

Anyway, if I had a point in all of this***, it was that I like seeing gamers taking collective charitable action, because it might make some people stop and say, “Hey, gamers are awesome,” and it’s a truth I’m always happy to have more people see.

*Perhaps unsurprisingly, some organized religious groups oft seem to have said holier-than-thou attitude, which is why I was also glad to see Non-Believers Giving Aid help raise lots of money for Haiti. Charitable giving is not restricted to any race, religion, or recreational preference.

**Yes, I just wanted an excuse to write veritable charitable.

***Which I may have when I started, but that sure seems a long way off now. And highly unlikely. Actually, if I don’t have a point, I may as well share my column written the night before the election of Scott Brown.

April Fooles

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Yes, it’s April, which means that there is even more foolishness going on than usual, and you can come join in. Tonight I’ll be at The Alley in North Adams at 8:30 for their free open mic comedy. This weekend is also the Fools Fest in Pittsfield, a celebration of foolishness that contains many many events. The two I’m involved with are the free open mic comedy at Mission on Friday night, and the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe dinner theatre at Dottie’s on Saturday (tickets by advance reservation only).

I’ve been celebrating the foolishness at home as well. Yes, in addition to simply living like I normally do, which many would say is foolish enough. But I recently finished Christopher Moore’s new novel “Fool”, which follows the behind-the-scenes skullduggery* of possibly my favorite Foole** of all time, King Lear’s. For those of you who enjoyed “Lamb”, or who are Shakespeare buffs, I highly recommend it. I’m currently reading “Ship of Fools” by Katherine Porter, a classic book which like too many classics seems to be starting rather slowly, and has buckets of POV racism. Still, I will inevitably finish reading it anyway, as I am incapable of not finishing books once I start them.

Blog posts, on the oth–

*Apparently Wordpress is attempting to fool me into thinking skullduggery is not a real word by underlining it in red. But then again, it dislikes “Foole”

**I cannot type “Foole” without thinking of George Carlin, whose routine “Occupation: Foole” no doubt had some effect on me.

2008 Presidential Debate in Rhyme

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Why did I stay up all night after the debate writing this? Well, because I did something similar in 2004. And so after starting to look at a transcript of the debate, I knew what had to be done. This had to be done:

(mp3 available here)

2008 Presidential Debate Rap:

Jim Lehrer:
Yeah… Are you ready for debate?
My name Jim Lehrer, and here are some things to contemplate

Yo. My name’s Senator Barack Hussein Obama
That’s right, word to yo mama,
Across the nation, I hear people wondering
How will it affect me, economy blundering
Affecting my job, my house, my kids at school, man!
Well I’m here to say be cool, here’s the plan:
1) You gotta have oversight, don’t spend $700 billion overnight
2) Make sure people paying the tax, who put money risk just might get it back
3) The money ain’t for golden parachutes,
4) We’ve really got to get to the root, of the issue, it’s true, I gotta suppose ya
Heard about the number of increased foreclosures.
Homeowners need protection when shove comes to push.
From 8 years of failed policies from George W. Bush
All supported by Senator McCain
Honestly, is he insane?
He lets the rich get richer, shreds consumer protection,
You should know this if you’ll vote in the election.
He likes to dick around with policies of trickle down,
Hasn’t worked out that fundamentals need to be measured
On whether the middle class gets a life that’s treasured
That’s why I running for president, that’s my intent.

Senator John McCain here in the debate
Republicans and Democrats must work together to create
A solution to this crisis of great magnitude
Frankly, we’re pretty screwed.
The failure of Wall Street affecting Main Street,
Is going to land you all on pain street
People are losing jobs, homes, and credit,
Which makes me want to make a slight edit.
When I said the foundations of our economy were strong?
That might have come out wrong
we need a recovery package with transparency,
oversight, and accountability.
Options for loans to businesses that are failing,
otherwise we’ll be constantly bailing
people out, government taking over the shop.
I think you’ll agree, that’s got to stop
It’s not the beginning of the end, it’s the end of beginning,
If we keep these institutions stable. That’s how we’ll be winning.

Obama, let me ask you man,
What do you think of the recovery plan?

Work is being done
I’m optimistic we’ll have a solution come
2 years back, I said that subprime lending
Would be a problem if not soon ending
Regulation has a little bit lax,
We were gonna have problem I knew a while back.
I wrote last year to the secretary of the treasury
But would my ideas be used? Seemed they’d never be.

Jim: McCain will you vote for the plan?
McCain: I…I hope
Jim: As a Senator, I’m asking you man
McCain: Sure.
I warned about Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac,
Saw corporate excess and CEO pay a while back,
A lot of us saw this train wreck down the track
I took flak for asking someone to resign
Accountability is on the decline
We need to hold people to account
Greed shouldn’t rewarded, that’s paramount.

He’s right, we need responsibility,
Not just when Wall Street’s lack of ability arises.
Folks have been struggling before this crisis
We can solve the short-term problem, but that hardly suffices.
Our energy policy is busted, health care system is broke.
C’mon, strong fundamentals? I think John misspoke.
Folks have to take on more debt just to make mortgage payments
And we can’t ignore them, I’ll be working for them.

Look, there’s no doubt, regulation we need.
Main Street pays the penalty for Wall Street’s greed,
But the American worker is the most innovative,
Fundamentally most productive, most creative.
That’s absolutely what I believe,
There’s no end to what we can achieve.
I’m going to get spending under control,
I got a pen. And this pen is… very old
And when this pen and I see a spending bill,
We’re so ready to veto, it’s a pending kill.
Earmarks are the problem, I’m telling you boy,
And check the earmarks on the kid from illinois.

Yo, It’s Barack, back on attack,
I agree the earmarks that you see have been wack
I suspended requests in my home state
for senior centers, or whatever you hate.
But if you want to talk money, let’s compare some facts.
Senator McCain would like to cut the tax
Paid by wealthy corporations, no ifs ands or buts.
We’re talking $300 billion in high bracket tax cuts.
I want to save the tax cuts for folks who might need it
Working class families, trying to keep their homes heated.

Senator Obama, you’re just being a dork,
All those years in the senate, you requested the pork.
I said we need to clean things up, and I meant it,
I didn’t win Miss Congeniality in the Senate.

I want to close corporate loopholes, stop tax breaks
For companies who send jobs overseas instead of here in the States.
I want a healthcare system people trust with sickness descending,
So yes, I think that’s worth spending.
And after 8 years of tax cuts that just help the rich,
I thought some people might want a switch.

Look, I want those big companies to stay,
And more taxes is something nobody should pay.

Well if you make less than a quarter million bucks a year,
You won’t pay any more taxes while I’m here.
Businessess have high tax rates, but pay the least.
Because of loopholes. McCain won’t kill the beast.

We had an energy bill, gave oil companies dough
Obama there voted yes, I was strong, voted no.

John, that just isn’t true. You have made a mistake.
You’re the one giving oil companies a $4 billion tax break.
I tried to strip out the pork of your pork-barrel bill,
But you stopped me. Ain’t pork what you promised to kill?
Let’s talk about what I’m going to make a priority.
Our energy policy is just doing horribly.
We need independence from foreign oil czars,
Alternative energy, fuel-efficient cars,
Our health care system is becoming a burden
On working class families financially hurtin’.
We’ve got to make sure that everyone in the nation
Has the option of getting a great education.
We need more infrastructure, and not just roads,
But electric grids and Internet lines - heard of those?
Rural communities without them can’t compete in the economy.

Look, we’ve got to cut spending, and that’s what I’m gonna be
Doing. Ethanol subsidies have got to die.
And defense spending seems like it’s gotten too high.

We do need to make cuts, and so cuts will be made.
Like insurers skimming billions of dollars off of Medicaid.
I’d like a list of all Federal Spending available online,
Taxpayers can look and see how we’re spending their dime.

Oh, I’ve got a plan, how about a spending freeze?

Rather than look at each program and determine which needs to be cut? Please.
We’re spending $10 billion a month in Iraq.
Let’s stop doing that, bring our boys and money back.

This alternative fuel stuff is all well and good,
But we need nuclear power. Barack doesn’t think we should.

The financial crisis means the budget is tight.
No tax cuts for the rich, let’s just spend where it’s right.

I don’t want to spend money on a health care plan,
Obama wants to pay to put it in the government’s hands.
We’ve been spending too much under this president.

That’s the one that you agree with 90 percent?

I think we learned in Iraq, you need a great strategy,
And we’re winning now, we will attain victory.

I think the whole war was a mistake, I said it before.
Six years ago I stood up, opposed the horrible war.
I wish I’d been wrong, and that McCain and Bush had been right,
But we’ve spent over $600 billion as of tonight,
Lost 4,000 lives, and we’re still spending more.
Here’s a lesson. Want to leap? Take a look before.

What’s done is done. And we’ve managed to prevail,
Even though Barack thought the surge would fail.

The surge succeeded in making our failure less,
But the whole war was one big mistake, and I guess
John McCain likes to think the war started last year,
But in 2003, his voice rang loud and clear,
He said “It’s gonna be easy, it’s gonna be quick,
We’ll find WMDs and give ‘em a kick.
You were wrong, John.
You said we’d be greeted as liberators; You were wrong.
You said there was no history of violence between Shiite and Sunni neighbors.
But you were wrong.
Really wrong.

Obama has gone off here on a bad kick,
He doesn’t know the difference between strategy and tactics.

McCain opposed funding for troops attached to a timetable,
Because he wanted an open-ended mission, wanted to be able
To stay forever, cut George W. Bush a blank check.
We both wanted to fund troops, but to that plan, I said what the heck,
I know the difference between tactics and strategy.
And strategy means when Afghanistan’s mad at me,
I don’t suddenly deside to rush into Iraq.
Afghanistan is where bin Ladin was, where our forces lack.

I think with all of our troops there, we’ve probably found
That Iraq, not Afghanistan, will be the battleground.

We need troops in Afghanistan, a couple brigades.
Armed with proper equipment, like a couple grenades.
And Al Quaeda is there, so that’s where we need troops.
And if you want a more detailed plan, here’s the scoop:
The Afghan government has got to help their people get by,
And I’ve said this to President Karzai.
We’ve got to deal with the ever-growing trade in poppy,
And deal with Taliban havens in Pakistan, not to do so is sloppy.

I’m not prepared to cut off aid to Pakistan,
So we shouldn’t talk in public as if that’s our plan.
Now their president, whatshisname, Kardari,
He’s got his hands full. It’s a tough job, I’m sorry.
But we’ll add a few troops. There’s no need to attack.

John McCain, once again, has misquoted Barack.
I said if we have al Qaeda agents in sight,
Then if Pakistan won’t pull the trigger, we might.
Our mistake was in helping Musharraf, dictator,
Which made people hate us.

Barack, you’re the hater.
The old state was failed, I’m old, I would know.
I voted for Bosnia, Somalia, Kosovo,
I’ve got a record. And a bracelet from a soldier who died.

I’ve got a bracelet too, and I wear it with pride,
And we can’t let the soldiers who’d give us this chain
Ever think that their sacrifices were made in vain.
And our eye should have been right on Afghanistan,
Not just “muddling through”, as was John McCain’s plan.

Never mind, let’s talk about the threat from Iran,
We’re worried those kooks might acquire some nukes.
And although you’d never hear this from Barack,
It’s become clear Iran is working with Iraq.

Actually, Iraq and Iran are huge foes,
And as we’ve hurt Iraq, Iran steadily grows.
They’ve funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas,
And it’s clear that our policy’s mostly a loss.
We need sanctions, and direct diplomacy too.

Obama has said, this is what he would do,
He would sit down with Chavez and Ahmadinejad
Which would only legitimize what they have done.
I would rather we make them see who’s number one.

We can’t have pre-conditions, or they’ll never show.
We must talk with the people, or try, so we’ll know
If diplomacy works. Yes, we need to prepare,
But failing to talk doesn’t work, as you might be aware
If you look at North Korea where all talks were stopped.
And how has that great plan worked, diplomacy dropped?
Well, their nuclear capacity is four times what it was before.
They’ve tested a nuke, tested some missiles, and even more.
So I think you should rethink your policy on talks, Senator McCain.
Hell, you said the other day you wouldn’t even meet with Spain.

Look, to sit down with a dictator without precondition,
Is naive, and quite a dangerous proposition.

McCain’s mischaracterizations are quite unfair.
“No preconditions” doesn’t mean “Don’t prepare”.
Henry Kissinger agrees, we can’t ignore our enemy.

Well, Kissinger’s a friend of mine, and I think he’d agree with me.

Let’s talk about Russia, they’ve got nukes by the ton,
So nuclear proliferation might be issue number one.
And their actions in Georgia should make you realize,
You can’t base foreign policy on staring into someone’s eyes
And seeing his soul.

Oh, but maybe I can.
I looked into Putin’s eyes, and I’m telling you, man,
I saw three letters: a K, a G, and a B.
Running government with apparatchiks is his decree,
Fueled by petro-dollars, from the rich oil veins,
So we’ve got to support Georgia and the Ukraine.

For the most part I agree with Senator McCain,
But with foresight, these problems can be anticipated,
Petro-dollars and oil consumption… Gee, think that’s related?
We use 25 percent of the world’s oil supply,
Which is why my interest in alternative fuels is so high.
Winter heating bills are on the way with colder climes.
Oh, and McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times.

I think our nation is safer that it was seven years ago,
But that doesn’t mean we don’t still have a long way to go.

I disagree. We spend billions on missile defense,
But when suitcase nukes are more likely, does that make sense?
We need to find the root causes of the problems we face:
Nuclear proliferation, not missiles from space.
And terrorism is a problem, one that’s on the rise.
We’re gonna need cooperation from a lot of allies,
So how folks abroad perceive us is important when commanding.
As president I would restore America’s standing.

Missiles still are a threat, Reagan knew this before.
I admire Ronald Reagan, and his program of Star Wars.
We have to stay in Iraq, Barack does not understand,
And this is why Americans should vote for me in command.

McCain and Bush are so obsessed with Iraq that we find
When it comes to other countries they are almost half-blind.
We spend $10 billion a month, bin Laden hasn’t been found,
And we’ve weakened our capacity on all other ground,
Can’t pay for health care at home, invest in science and tech.
No military power ever lasted if their economy was a wreck.
We need a president with broad strategic vision who won’t ignore it.
It’s been missing for 8 years, I want to restore it.

I’ve been involved in strategic challenges for 20 years.
Obama doesn’t have experience, he’s wet behind the ears.
I know veterans. I’ll take care of them for sure.
I’ll keep this country safe and secure.

My dad’s from Kenya, came to the United States,
Because no other country in the world was so great.
We inspired the world a few decades ago.
Do we do that today? No.
We have to show the world the greatness we represent
Which is something I would do as president.

I know we’re out of time, and don’t mean to trouble you,
But just wanted to mention that I was a P.O.W.

Jim Lehrer:
That ends this debate, so thank you one and all.
And if you didn’t like either speaker, go vote for Ron Paul.

My music videos. Let me show you them!

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

So, although this is by now old news to those of you who are friends with the rapping-est hamster on the Myspaces, the rest of you may be interested in seeing my hamster rap music video. It doesn’t feature shots of the actual performers, opting instead for a more “random photographs thrown into flash” aesthetic, but it still pleases me, and I can confidently say that it is the best music video you’ll see this year*

Ham-STAR vs. Mystical Hamsta: Runnin’

As long as we’re talking about videos, the best music video you’ll see last year** is this collaboration with the inimitable Lex Friedman. And when I say “collaboration”, I mean that I we both wrote words and storyboarded, but he did all of the work of actually recording the song and filming himself and putting the video together.

“Just Google”

Finally, at one point, master puppeteer Dan Weissbrodt and I worked together to create a music video for a contest that Turbotax was holding. Since we didn’t win, I think we can safely say that the judges didn’t know much about good rap. Which is odd, given that Vanilla Ice was a judge. Stop, Ninja, Stop, Ninja, Stop. Anyway, if you like puppets, here’s our video for that:

“Save to the Max”

*that is a collaboration between one hamster rapper from Massachusetts and one hamster rapper from Australia.

**seriously, no qualifiers.