Yakko goes to the other "Sunshine" state...

Last week I was pleased to discover that I was taking a business trip to California. Although I was initially disappointed that I would have to take this trip alone, I was happy to have a traveling companion, Yakko Warner.

You see, Yakko and I go pretty far back. Much like Yakko, I am also an oldest child. Also like Yakko, I have a younger brother, who's crazy (but in a good way) and a baby sister, who's just damn cute. And most importantly, like Yakko, I'm sarcastic enough that people can't decide whether it's more appropriate to laugh or smack me in the head.

Yes, Yakko and I are quite the duo.

So I was quite pleased to learn that he would join me on my trip to San Francisco.

That is, of course, until I remembered just how much of a ham he really is.

Here he is on the plane in Florida:

Of course, he wouldn't shut up the entire way to California. He told me about how he and his sibs used were put in the WB water tower in the 1930's, about how he met Steven Spielberg, about how he helped Einstein discover the theory of relativity by singing the "Acme" song backwards ("The E comes last, the m comes next, the c we're almost done, the a that's last...uh, that a looks like a 2").

Yeah, I know Yakko, I watched the show.

Geez, I thought he wouldn't shut up.

I was so relieved when we finally got to San Francisco:

Of course, Yakko immediately noted that this wasn't "his part" of California, but commented, "It is San Francisco, so I'll make dew." Ugh...again with the puns Yakko?

I checked into the hotel and Yakko decided it was a great opportunity to relax and put his feet up.

After all, traveling can be grueling for cartoons.

After a long day of traveling, I wanted to head to sleep, but Yakko wanted to stay up. Thankfully, there weren't any pay-per-view movies on the hotel receipt when I checked out, particularly the pay-by-the-minute kind. The bosses aren't too happy about those.

I should have guessed that he would be a pain in the ass the next morning when it was time to get up.

So then, we headed off to court. With some coaxing, Yakko decided that sitting on the Judge's bench while I made a court appearance probably wasn't appropriate, even for him.

I guess contempt of court can even persuade cartoons to be on their best behavior.

After court, we went back to my hotel room and while I checked out, Yakko got some California rays on the front of the rental car.

Hey, Avis never said you can't lay out on the vehicle!

So, instead of wandering around aimlessly in San Fran while we waited for the redeye home, Yakko persuaded me to take a drive and visit PostModern Sass, who recently moved to nearby San Jose.

Sass was busy with the new job, so Yakko and I entertained ourself in San Jose, seeing some of the sites.

We visited The Fairmont:

"Why doesn't work put you up in digs like this?"

Just gut the wound, why don't you?

We visited the Museum of Art:

(note the little red circle at the toe of the statue)

And Yakko showed the California bear just who's boss:

After Yakko had his way with the bear, we headed over to Gordon Biersch, Sass's new Banknote, to meet up with Sass.

Sass ordered Yakko a drink and Yakko was more than happy to oblige:

Much more than happy:

Of course, he only passes out when the check gets to the table...

And when we get outside, he's wide awake to get attention from the ladies:

"Heeeelllloooo NURSE!"

After his libations and female attention, Yakko was pretty rejuvenated, so much so that he went to check out Sass's new super chic apartment complex.

He spent some time soaking in the fountain:

And playing an old English favorite:

"Why no, that's not a croquet mallet in my pocket."

Geez, Yakko, is that really necessary?

Yakko was so rejuvenated, he decided to put together Sass's desk:

He's much more useful around the house than I am.

So when Sass said, "What else of San Jose do you want to see?"

Yakko chimed up with, "We don't have Safeway in Florida!"

Yeah, well, we don't have earthquakes either, but I don't want to experience one while I'm here.

But since Sass was hungry and sans vehicle since getting to the States and Yakko was up for a unique California grocery experience, I was outvoted. And I have to admit, Yakko was pretty happy when we got there:

Particularly when he found the beer section:

No, Yakko, TSA won't let us take liquids on the plane home.

"No problem! It'll be gone before we get on the plane!"

Geez, didn't you have enough at GB? Lush.

Yep, Yakko was so happy at Safeway, particularly with the alcohol selection, he even joined the membership club:

But then it was time to go. We wished Sass the best on her new home and headed back to San Fran, where Yakko and I were shocked by the prices at SFO's airport restaurants:

"Wheel of Morality, turn, turn, turn, tell us the lesson that we must learn. Today's lesson: Morally Bankrupt."

So with less in my pocket than when we went to eat, Yakko and I caught the redeye home. And you simply can't take a redeye without a neck pillow:

Would have been nice if he hadn't hogged it the whole time.

"No pain, no gainy..."

Keep it up and this might be the last time I take you anywhere.


Do we have our priorities up-fucked?

Dear Ms. Perrson,

Can I call you Cecilia? Great.

There was once a ship that attempted to sail between our two countries that didn't exactly make the voyage. Perhaps you've heard of the little boat. It was called the Titanic. Now, one of the stories of the Titanic, and indeed one of its greatest ironies, was that while this ship was sinking, after having its side ripped off from an iceberg, the musicians were playing classical music, pretty much until the end. Some people have found this quite noble, believing that it calmed the passengers. I, however, have always thought that even the greatest composer would find it almost impossible to stop a full-fledged panic, like that likely to come over me as I die drowning in freezing ocean water. So, basically, I subscribe to the opinion that musicians playing on the Titanic was slightly more useful than polishing the brass as the ship was going down.

Which brings me to my point.

I understand that things must be difficult out there in Boomerang, finding appropriate programming for children. And, goodness knows that in today's world, finding anything appropriate for children can be a challenge. The cartoon reels that you have in your files are probably from periods of time with humor that simply isn't funny anymore, as it is, rightfully, considered offensive and generally inappropriate for children.

So, imagine my surprise at reading this article this week. Evidently, you've determined that Tom and Jerry episodes which "glamorize" tobacco products might have a negative impact on children.

Let me begin by saying, I am no friend of tobacco products. I've never had one and anticipate that I never will. I find the smell of cigarettes disgusting in every sense of the word. I can't stand next to people who have just smoked, and I've actually refused to date a rather attractive girl because she smoked. Simply, I believe the less smokers there are, the better.

However, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge my concerns with your position here. You see Cecilia, I believe the reason you are objecting to tobacco products on Tom and Jerry is because, well, I think you are concerned that children may...and call me crazy for thinking this...emulate what they see on a cartoon.

I know, I know. I too am shocked by this Cecilia, but honestly, it appears to be the only premise from which your tobacco cartoon ban appears to have spawned. But you, yourself have stated that Tom and Jerry smoking "could be seen as glamorizing smoking." The only way I can see this to be the case is that you anticipate children to emulate this activity.

And, you see Cecilia, this is where I have a problem. Now, don't get me wrong, I think getting rid of Tom and Jerry smoking scenes is probably not a bad thing. However, if you are so deeply troubled by children emulating scenes from Tom and Jerry, I can only ask why you haven't directed your efforts to, well, for example, this:

Now Cecilia, as a Southerner and a gun owner, I of all people understand the importance that some Americans place on their Second Amendment rights. However, I'm inclined to think that Tom pointing a firearm at not one, but two, other living beings (which, as gun owners know means he's made a decision to kill them) is, well, less than ideal firearm responsibility.

But perhaps firearm responsibility, or lack thereof, isn't your bag. After all, you are on the other side of the pond where the cops carry whistles and sticks. So, let's look at a different example:

I'll grant you that it's possible that Tom could simply have a toothache and is being helped to keep his mouth open by that little yellow bird. Indeed, Jerry may be investigating with that rather painful looking hammer in an effort to relieve Tom of his obvious pain. Of course, Jerry may just be waiting for an opportunity to clobber Tom too.

So let's try a different example:

Again, I'm sure you'd tell me that it is certainly a possibility that Tom isn't thinking of kicking the crap out of this little mouse. I must confess, it's possible that Tom may be daintily placing the mouse on the windowsill. However, that awkward angle of Tom's foot and his winked eye, in an effort to aim, makes me somewhat doubtful of that explanation.

Okay, let's look try yet again:

While this may look a bit bad, I'm sure you would tell me that Tom could simply be taking care of his friend Jerry's place while Jerry is in the Poconos or Cancun or something. Sure, Tom could be concerned, but I'm inclined to think that a cage, three mouse traps, two fox traps, a spring gun and an axe trap may be a bit of, excuse the pun, overkill.

So let's shift the subject a little. I'm sure people who would consider this frame offensive are just being "oversensitive":

After all, how many Pacific Islanders are there in Great Britain? Four, five? So, surely their opinions aren't all that important. And I bet they'd be pretty touched to see a mouse dressed this way.

And, of course, I must bring your attention to this:

Now, I know what you're going to say Cecilia. You never see Mamie's face, so how could anyone be offended or claim that Mamie is perpetrating a blatantly racist stereotype? I can see how you might find it perplexing how a faceless black woman with a large chest and ass in slippers and an apron could be seen as offensive. I guess people who felt that way were probably also just being sensitive.

Cecilia, I must confess, I grew up watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. Frankly, I found them genuinely funny as a child. And despite watching them, I never became a smoker; I certainly don't consider myself racist or to harbor any other type of discrimination; I'm not at all violent with other people (well, with the exception of some well-planned sibling torture, but let's just ignore that shall we?). Other than the somewhat disturbing things you may learn about me in the archives to the left, I consider myself a relatively well-balanced individual. And, although I was entertained by Tom and Jerry, I didn't spend my life emulating them.

But if you're going to engage in censorship of cartoons from another era under the auspices that children will learn the wrong things from them or emulate the activities within them, I ask you this: Is "glamorizing" smoking really the biggest problem, or is banning smoking scenes in Tom and Jerry just polishing the brass banister on the Titanic?

Yours truly,

Blundering American

P.S. Tell Tony, "Yo Blair" for me!

Yes, this is a repost of what I posted on the 22nd. It didn't get much front page time and I didn't have the compelling desire to write anything else. If you didn't catch it the first time, I hope you like it, I reposted for you! If you did, don't worry, I have a feeling something new is coming soon...


Blogger Appreciation Day

A good idea is a good idea. No two ways about it. I'm going to break a few rules though. So, with that caveat, here's to a few folks that I try to stop by each day:

The man who started the holiday...

The wonderful woman who started me blogging, and in case you're wondering, she's even more beautiful than she is talented, which is saying a lot. Even though she's not around the blogosphere anymore, I wish she'd clean those damn parasitic ads off her site...

One of my first and favorite morning stops who reminds me of the guys I hung out with in college... Starting your day with prehistoric porn, that's just damn funny...

Sometimes you need a little Sass, sometimes you need a lot. And when you need a lot, you can be sure there are a lot of links...

Where I learn more of what the fairer sex thinks...(although the country music, I'll never understand)

Where I get my cultural taste for the day (and yes, that girl in the I heart Ha'shem shirt is extremely hot)...

Where I realize there are people just as fucked up as me...

Where I get my gossip fix...

Where I go to be inspired...

Where I've been stopping by lately, because, well, I just want to know what she would do...

Happy Blogger Appreciation Day!!!

UPDATE: Sweet, I'm appreciated!!! Thanks Kevin!!!


I am Jack's elusive REM

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahnuik, said in best in one of my favorite books, "With insomnia nothing's real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy."

Lately, I've been having trouble falling asleep. I've been hiting the Tylenol PM bottle when this problem is accompanied by a headache, and that seems to do the trick. But since I am sans headache tonight, I decided to try to get some natural sleep. And, well kids, here I am. Typing away atwhat is, for me on a work night, an ungodly hour.

Of course, the problem with insomnia, besides that observed by Palahnuik, is that I then begin to think about why I have insomnia, which only keeps me awake. Thinking.

Mental note: Stop thinking.


Well, I give up. I'm going to read Lullaby. Maybe that will do the trick.

Yeah, a book about a poem that kills those who hear it. That'll definitely work.

Of course, if I'm not awake in the next eight hours, call someone...

A post war story everyone can enjoy...

This is one of the best news stories I've seen out of the Israel-Hezbollah war (thanks to Bangitout):

Breast implants saves woman after Hezbollah attack
Aug 15 8:07 AM US/Eastern

One Israeli woman has received an unexpected boost from her breast implants during the Lebanon war -- the silicone embeds saved her life during a Hezbollah rocket attack, a doctor said.

"This is an extraordinary case, but it's a fact that the silicone implants prevented her from a more serious and deeper wound," Jacky Govrin, of the hospital in Nahariya that treated the woman, told army radio Tuesday.

"The young woman went through surgery two years ago to have a larger chest," he said. "During the war she was wounded in the chest by shrapnel" that got stuck in the implants instead of penetrating further.

The woman did not emerge from her ordeal completely unscathed, however.

"The shrapnel was removed but the implant had to be replaced," Govrin said.
Of course, this will be next week's article:

Israeli Women Contribute to Post-War Effort By Getting Implants
Aug 22 8:07 AM ET/US

After one woman's life was saved by her breast implants, Israeli women everywhere are going to their plastic surgeons, not just to make their men happy, but as their patriotic duty.

"I just finished my IDF service, and I figured implants were the most natural way to defend myself and my country," said one woman, who then added, "okay, maybe not the most natural."

Another woman, who is actually in the IDF explained her reasoning, "Body armour is only so dependable. If Hezbollah attacks again, I want all the protection I can get, and if it happens to turn some of the hot soliders' heads, so be it."

While men all over the country are rushing to plastic surgeons to protect their mates from any future rocket attacks, the reaction among the male members of the IDF is mixed on the new "defense measures." Most of them approve overwhelmingly. As one male solider stated, "Are you kidding?!?! I can't wait to see those girls in uniform! With those guns, I won't ever look at a shiksa again!"

But at least one male solider expressed some reservations. "I'm more of an ass and leg man," he said, "Personally, I was more interested in having women soliders cut their uniforms into low riders."

Just watch, it's only a matter of time...


Blundering Through Israel - Epilogue

While I was in the middle of this series, I was asked, as someone who just spent some time in Israel, to write about Israel's war with Hezbollah. But, besides not wanting to interrupt the flow of the series (except for the need to warn about that horrible M. Night Shamylan movie), I didn't really know how to begin to discuss it.

Until last Sunday.

Sunday I was visiting friends from my Israel trip and, since I left their phone numbers at home, I called my roommate from Israel and left a message asking him to call me back.

Until last weekend, I had been a CNN addict since the beginning of the Hezbollah war. I watched intently, concerned about my family and friends in Israel, concerned about the people and places I had just seen, concerned about the homeland I love.

But this weekend, the news got away from me. I had spent a lot of time traveling and, frankly, the iPod's more entertaining on a long drive than NPR (except the Car Guys and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, those kick ass).

So, when my roommate called me back, I was a bit surprised when he said, "I know why you called me."

"What are you fucking psychic?"

"Dude, I can't believe it either."

"Uh, what the hell are you talking about?"

"Haven't you been watching the news?"

"No. I've been out of town. Shit. What happened?"

"Did you see that Katushas fell and killed 12 Israelis?"

"No. Shit. Where did that happen?"

"Yeah. This is the worst part.... Kfar Giladi."

Kfar Giladi is a kibbutz kilometers away from the Lebanese border. One of the businesses the kibbutz runs is a hotel. It was that hotel where we spent our first two nights in Israel. And it was where my roommate and I met and forged our incredibly strong friendship.

I spent half of the reunion lunch I was having with people on my trip that day discussing the surreal feeling of having just been in Kfar Giladi, Sfadt, and the Golan Heights. And how, now, everyone there is listening to air raid sirens and making their way to bomb shelters.

And, honestly, I didn't know if being home in the states was really where I wanted to be.

Since I've gotten back, a number of people have made comments to me like, "Wow, you just got out of there in time." And, yes, it is clearly safer here than it is in Nothern Israel. But, in a strange way, I feel powerless here.

Don't get me wrong. I'm well aware of the fact that if I were over there, I'd be, not only powerless, but, other than my debatable blogging skills, pretty much useless. But the feeling is a feeling from my heart, not a feeling from my head.

And any comfort I'd be to my friends and family in Israel would be overwhelmingly countered by how scared my own family would be.

But it doesn't change the emotional attachment I have to that little country on the Mediterranean.

To more directly answer the question, I think the fighting is, as it is every time, a tragedy. The fact that Israel's neighbors simply will not accept its legitimacy and its right to exist is incredibly unfortunate. The fact that organizations like Hezbollah, dedicated not to settling disagreements or resolving disputes over land, but to the complete and total annihilation of Israel and the Jews that live there, not only continue to exist, but to thrive, is appalling. The fact that these terrorist thugs use innocent Lebanese civilians as shields for their weapons and themselves in the hopes of creating pictures that will turn public opinion against Israel at the expense of their own people is disgusting. And the fact that these murderous zealots are not only allowed to exist and occupy Southern Lebanon, but remain a part of a supposedly democratic government nauseates me.

I wonder if these events would have been avoidable. What if Israel had continued its buffer zone in Lebanon? What if the UN had actually taken the steps to disarm Hezbollah and demilitarize southern Lebanon that it should have? What if we had dealt with the real imminent threats in the Middle East, Syria and Iran, rather than Iraq, and eliminated the shadow supporters of this war against Hezbollah?

But, despite the media shift against Israel (much of which has been the result of media manipulation), I don't think Israel's reaction has been inappropriate. The fact remains that when we had our own passenger planes used as missiles against us in New York and Virginia, I didn't want a "proportional response," whatever the hell that means. I didn't want three of the perpetrators' strategic targets taken out. I wanted fire and brimstone. I wanted the perpetrators to think that the fury of G-d was being brought down upon them. I wanted the perpetrators to sleep more scared than the families of the victims, fearing that each moment could be their last and knowing that it was the United States that would decide when they would meet their maker. And above all, I wanted a clear message to anyone that would even consider anything like 9/11 again, if you try to attack us, you will feel our pain one-hundred fold.

And this was one coordinated attack against the United States.

Israel, however, is the only country that is surrounded by neighbors who want it destroyed and who will seize (and have seized) any opportunity, any perceived weakness, to attack. And, what you can't tell by reading the news, is just how close, how incredibly close, those people are to where Israelis live and work every single day. Frankly, it's like living in Manhattan and having hostile governments and terrorists living in and firing rockets from across the river in New Jersey.

So, yes, I believe that Israel's reaction has been appropriate. Entirely appropriate. And, just as I would expect the United States to protect me with overwhelming force if Mexico or Canada or Cuba were firing missiles at where I live, I believe Israel is entirely justified in doing the same thing with Hezbollah.

Certainly, I feel for Lebanese civilians. Lebanon, like the vast majority of Middle Eastern governments, has a populace of brainwashed, uneducated masses. Rather than have real debates about their political direction and invest in the betterment of their own people, to answer their people's questions about why their lives are so difficult these leaders point to Israel the United States and say, "You are the blessed ones. You are the ones honored by Allah. Why do the Jews and the Americans live so much better than you? Because they are infidels. Because they are the cause of your problems. Because they are holding you down and suppressing Allah's true will."

And rather than, at minimum, question or, at most, revolt against their own corrupt and woefully deficient leadership, rather than recognize the better lives of their neighbors are the result of valuing education and implementation of democratic institutions, they buy what their "leaders" are selling them, hook, line, and sinker, support their zenophobic agendas, and even electing these demagogues into their governments.

And they keep these hate-mongers in charge. These demagogues continue to use their people as pawns, to keep them ignorant, and to direct their anger outward, so they won't take the time to look in their own mirrors.

And, when these hate-mongers attack Israel or the United States, they use their own people as human shields, indiscriminately ignoring the inherent value of human life in order to exploit them to enrage their own ignorant masses and to sway world opinion. And when they die in disproportionate numbers, the hate-mongers point their finger again, conveniently ignoring that they placed these people in front of a loaded weapon to being with.

So, I feel for the Lebanese people. I genuinely do. I wish that they would look inward, question the general premises that are forced upon them, ask whether having Hezbollah, not only on their Southern border, but in their government is truly in their interest, and truly explore whether their neighbor to their south should be demonized and labeled as a threat or simply acknowledged as people who just want to live their lives in peace and let them do so as well.

So I will always, always feel that Hezbollah is solely responsible for what is happening now. And I will continue to see the blood of innocent Israelis and Lebanese on Hezbollah's hands.

Blundering Through Israel - Part X - July 5, 2006

Yes, I know it's been a month to get this whole trip blogged. I couldn't overwhelm you crazy kids all at once, could I?

Continued from Part IX

We have concluded our trip with a wonderful time in Tel Aviv and while I have enjoyed my first time in Tel Aviv, I wanted to revisit something I said earlier.

Early on, I discussed how I had hoped my first trip to Israel would be the opportunity to make friends that I would have my entire life and, how, at the end of that month, I was disappointed. I didn't connect with anyone and, while I loved my time in Israel, it was, in essence, a rather lonely and isolating experience.

That led me to a resolution on this trip, one that probably sounded a bit rude and selfish. Namely, that this trip was for me. Just me. And if I made some friends along the way, fabulous. If I didn't, no biggie. I was going to enjoy this time for myself and myself alone.

How wrong I was.

Recollecting her experience, one of my friends wrote that meeting people on this trip was like meeting them in dog years, it was a seven to one ratio.

And she was right and wrong. Right in that, as if we had traveled near the speed of light, time really did slow down and my relationships with so many of the friends I made on this trip evolved much more quickly than they did with people I've known in other contexts. Wrong in the ratio. Within these ten days, I've met people that I feel like I've known for my entire life. And even though I haven't, I certainly know I'm going to know for the rest of my life. Some because we call one another whenever something happens overseas. Some because we call one another whenever we're in town. And some, very special ones, who we call whenever we want someone to talk to.

And, as you read early on, this was not the way I anticipated things would end up. After my first Israel experience, I didn't think I'd see any of these people againe. But now, I'm talking to them, with calendar in hand, looking for the opportunity to see one another again. I call them when we are in different terminals of the airport, just to tell them that I miss them already.

So, while so much of this trip was building my spirituality and my bond to Israel. It actually built something much more important. Something I've been missing for some time.

It built me a Jewish community.

It's a community of people throughout the state and the nation.

And it's a community that, no matter where I am, is always there for me.

And, perhaps that the real value of this experience. Knowing that there are so many other people like me who are so different. Knowing that we may disagree and have different values and argue like family, but, when it comes down to it, we're there for one another when we really need help.

And that enormous, unbreakable bond extends out of each of us, winding together like tree roots, and extending over the vast oceans to a little country that's smaller than New Jersey and the people who live there.

A little country with a simple blue and white flag with a Magen David in the center, built on blood, sweat, tears, and most importantly, eternal hope.

Some final shots of Eretz Yisrael (transl. "The Land of Israel"). A shot from my balcony in Tel Aviv, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea...

A sign at the Marina in Herzelia, in case you're curious how far it is from Moskow (2620 km) and Tokyo (8000+ km). Just don't ask me how much that is in miles...