You Are No Longer Allowed To Say That

As we enter the final leg of the election season, I am officially overstepping my bounds and banning certain phrases from the English language. What’s that, you say? Where do I get off? What am I going to do about it if you don’t do as I say?

I’m not going to be very nice to you. You’ve been warned. So hereinafter is the list of Phrases Banned From The English Language.

  1. “Hollywood friends” – You know what? I am sick to death of some Republican hack trotting out this tired old cliche whenever his or her Democratic opponent is suddenly blowing the doors off of them. Actually, Bob Taft did it while winning the election. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to vote for Tim Hagan because he married the woman from Star Trek: Voyager. No, Bob, I voted for you because Hagan was a bigger asshole. Had I known you’d be the first Ohio governor to be convicted of a crime in office, I’d have voted for the loudmouth from Cleveland.
  2. “Embolden the terrrorists”/”Al Qaeda supports it” – OK, listen up. Al Qaeda’s opinion doesn’t count. I don’t care if the terrorists are emboldened or happy or dancing in the streets. They’re the enemy, and the enemy’s opinion, the enemy’s boldness, and the enemies preference for either the US or UK version of The Office COUNTS FOR NOTHING!!! If you care about this, you’re a coward. And if you’re a coward, the terrorists have won.
  3. “The terrorists win” – Until the United States ceases to exist, the terrorists are basically a fatal nuisance. Unless you decide you’re a coward and want to live in fear of them. See #2.
  4. “Vast right-wing conspiracy – Unless you’re Jeff Jena, who actually runs a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, you cannot blame all your woes on a vast right-wing conspiracy. Only Bill Clinton could lie about a blow job. And stupidity, quite possibly the hallmark of the current Bush Administration, is not a liberal or a conservative trait. It’s just stupid. The closest thing we have to a vast right-wing conspiracy is a deep cultural tradition of large companies screwing over the little guy. Stop laughing, rest of the world. We didn’t ship you lead contaminated with toys.
  5. “Lies of the liberal media” – Oh, the media lies. Let’s make no mistake about that. But why is it when the truth is told about a political figure, the “liberal” media is lying? Or it’s a vast right-wing conspiracy? Take #’s 4 & 5 together. If you hear someone say one of those, they have something to hide or deny. Hell, I’ve even seen Osama bin-Laden do it. Either the liberal media lied about him, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy against him, or he’s simply been emboldened to use stupid cliches. Does this mean he’s won?
  6. “It is what it is” – OK, not political, but it’s replaced “At the end of the day” in the English lexicon as the most overused phrase in the language. Stop that! It is what it is? At the end of the day, that tells me nothing. What is it? I know God said “I am what I am,” but God’s a huge concept. Even God has a problem getting His mind around it. (Athiests: Try swapping out God for the Universe. Yeah. Huge. And getting huger everyday.) But it is what it is? That’s worse than white people in the eighties just saying “What it is.” What happened to the original overused cliche, “It’s all good.”

Oh, yeah. 9/11.

So it’s not all good. It is what it is.


Thursday saw me drive from one end of the great State of Ohio to the other and back, all because the Attorney General’s office and the courts here don’t believe in fax machines. The end result of this road trip?

Less than two miles from Nita’s office, my car begins to lose power. Wet road? Had I doused a lead and shorted out the car in its 400+ mile run?

Blown motor.

Yes, my car made it to Columbus from Cincinnati, then to scenic Wooster, Ohio (for those of you unfamiliar with the geography of Ohio, never mind. There’s nothing in Wooster worth mentioning anyway.) and back to downtown Cincinnati only to die less than three miles from home and two miles from She Who Will Be The Next Mrs. J’s place of business.

The Wintermobile is no more.

Or is it?

I buzz Ziggins (who ironically lives near Wooster) to see what my options are. He recommended curling up in the fetal position and whining or the appropriate medication to relieve that. After that, he said, “Well, you could always replace the motor.”

A year or two ago, I’d have looked at him like he was insane. Actually, I still do. He’s my brother. I’m supposed to do that. But now?

Gas in Cincinnati is $3.79 a gallon. This apparently is the cheap stuff in the USA.

Food is… expensive.

I am taking over a house from the former Mrs. Winter while we try to offload one owned by the future Mrs. Winter.

I just bought a Hi-Def dish and box for my DirecTV, and dammit, I ain’t giving up HBO! I don’t care how long ago The Wire went off the air.

As you can see, I’m not going to be buying that Escalade as soon as I thought.*

So we found a motor – 84,000 with full drivetrain and flex-fuel capability. Same year as the Wintermobile.  This effectively knocks 66,000 miles off an 8-year-old car.

Motor’s in Toledo. The truck to haul it is in Akron. I’m in Cincinnati.

Someone’s in for a day trip, and I’m out at least two tanks of gas on a Ford Explorer.

Stay tuned for the inglorious results of this exciting drama.**

*Originally, I thought “Never.” Now it’s “Never ever!”

**Bet you wish that road trip novel would sell now, don’t you? Me, too.

The Forgotten: Blunt Darts

Gerald So tagged me last week for Patti Abbott‘s Friday Forgotten Books. So for my pick, I choose Jeremiah Healy’s Blunt Darts. It’s Healy’s debut work and the debut of his John Francis Cuddy. Cuddy, we learn, is a former MP who had it all. He could have been a top executive at an insurance company, except he had this thing called… um… What’s the word I’m looking for?

Oh, yeah. Ethics. They fired him for having ethics.

The story itself is one you’ve heard before. Wealthy family, lots of secrets, corrupt small town police force. But all that serves to introduce us to one of the PI genre’s best characters. We meet Cuddy in the unemployment office, BSing the entrenched bureaucrat about his employment prospects. At first, it seems he’s given up and is milking the system. As it turns out, he’s just become a private investigator, and revealing that might cost him his unemployment check before he can build a client base.

It was that initial scene that endeared me to Cuddy. His MP past serves more as background fodder than a means to make him a tough guy. (Lee Child successfully takes the opposite tact with Jack Reacher, but then we want Reacher to be a tough guy, don’t we?) Cuddy also has an unusual conscience in his late wife, whom he regularly converses with at her graveside.

Cuddy is very much a work in progress in this one. We don’t hear his wife’s side of the conversation, a surprisingly believable plot device in later books. Cuddy’s new lover, Nancy Meagher, does not appear. And Healy spends more time differentiating his creation from fellow Boston PI Spenser.

I always thought the Cuddy series, and its Detroit counterpart, the Ben Perkins series, were grossly underrated and underappreciated. Alas, both series are out of print. Too bad, because I think it’s time to revisit Cuddy’s Reagan-era Boston.

Shorter Of Breath And One Day Closer To Death…

Yesterday marks the 42nd anniversary of my escape from the womb.  Does this mean I was Stewie Griffin?  Oh, hardly.  I literally came out ass first, so I’m more like Bart Simpson (except I can’t ride a skateboard.)

So how am I celebrating ticking off one more year before I start getting junk mail from the AARP?  For starters, I spent the morning running around dealing with various state agencies, ending up with the Attorney General’s Office for some mortgage paperwork.  Those of you not following Hillary’s slow fade might have heard this was probably the worst possible week to go there.  Ironically, the AG’s employees sound rather happy.  (“Hey, gang!  Governor Strickland has just suspended mandatory thong Fridays!”  “Great!  I was sick of losing my lunch over Hal in his Speedo.”)  I hear Attorney General Dann got a call from Elliot Spitzer, saying, “Dude, really.  Just walk away.  It ain’t worth it.”  (And then Spitzer’s supervisor at Wal-Mart fired him for making personal calls on company time.)

The upside is I only worked half a day yesterday, after which…

I spent a lovely evening at an English place in Norwood called The Pub with my new family.  For one day, I was excused from getting my ass handed to me on the Wii in Brawl and allowed to drink as much as I wanted (which is not nearly as much as I used to.  Bouchercon is gonna kill me.)

As some of you know, I’ve been having a very strange year, but a very good one personally.  Now if I can just get things going professionally again, life will be really sweet.