Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Cruise Control" is not Paramount

I'm certainly not the first to blog about Tom Cruise's latest woes, and I'll keep it short. This week Paramount Pictures severed its 14-year-long business relationship with Cruise's production company, Cruise/Wagner Productions. And I predict it won't be long before we realize we never needed this...ahem...passionate Scientology advocate in the first place.

"Cruise Control" seems to be everywhere -- and not just all over Hollywood. Cruise control has, in fact, metastasized into one of those unnecessary things we've unofficially agreed is necessary. Other examples are microwave ovens and, back in the 1970s, shag rug carpeting.

We ask automobile manufacturers to slap cruise control onto just about every single damn vehicle we buy. In fact, who remembers the last time they drove a vehicle sans cruise control installed?

I do.

Circumstances recently found me in light traffic en route to a routine appointment. As I drove the two hours up U.S. Interstate 93 North in a family member's car, the thought of cruise control once -- and only once -- crossed my mind. And a scoff along the following lines accompanied this thought: "For Pete's sake, why the hell would anyone need cruise control?"

Then I glanced across the dashboard and steering wheel. And, to my disbelief, the major automobile manufacturer that made the late-model vehicle I was driving actually allowed this car to leave the assembly line and enter the world of highways without the cruise control option installed. And I had barely noticed.

Cruise control ain't all it's hyped up to be. And once we finally see it's not there, we'll realize we never needed cruise control -- let alone "Cruise Control" -- in the first place.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Syncopated vomit

This is how I describe the vocalizations of most modern metal bands. Whatever happened to the art of carrying a I'll never understand, let alone enjoy (or even appreciate from afar), the indecipherable, guttural regurgitations that masquerade as melodies and have enamored most metal bands since the late 1990s.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Is it winning?

Last year, around April, I ordered a famous roast beef sandwich from one of those restaurants with the words “Famous Roast Beef” appended to the establishment’s name.

The sandwich had lots of sauce. My hands got sticky. A homemade condiment of the barbecue variety trickled down my arm like a flashflood’s ad hoc streams of rain.

“I think my sandwich is winning,” I said to my companion.

We laughed. My friend tried to change the subject. I didn’t want to listen. I couldn’t. I was too busy. This war I was waging against my roast beef sandwich demanded all my mental resources. A quest to conquer a sandwich became my singular purpose.

After spending a few minutes employing futile countermeasures, I stopped eating. Sense coaxed me to set down the enemy, and, despite my best efforts and seemingly superior resources, a messy sandwich, half-eaten and in horrible shape, nevertheless declared victory.

My thoughts turned to the Bush Administration, Iraq, the War on Terror, nutjobs like Iran's Ahmadinejad, other nutjobs like the friendly neighborhood neoconservative, and childhood excursions with my grandfather. I told my friend a story.

During summer visits, Grandpa used to take me on trips to the ice cream shop. He loved to order one scoop of vanilla on a sugar cone. My cone typically had two scoops of my favorite flavor, coffee.

The ice cream, without fail, would cover my hands and arms in a gluey sheen, and my grandpa would ask, “Is it winning?” This was his running joke, the harmless kind that children never understand but adults do. I never made a dent in these treats. My ice cream melted every time. My grandpa knew my cone with its two scoops had a way of getting the best of me.

Are Iraq, Iran, Syria, and just about everyone else in the Middle East getting the best of us? Are we winning the War on Terror? The answers depend on who’s answering, and even the Bush Administration’s many players can’t seem to reach any consensus beyond "stay the course."

Meanwhile, this is no joke, and the questions remain.

The Administration's lot these days is like melting ice cream streaming down their hands and arms. No matter how hard Bush and his team try, they can’t quite lick the problem. What’s worse, they ignore the American people, whose ideas may help. As it tackles a military and diplomatic quagmire that melts ever faster and demands more and more mental resources, this Administration is too busy to listen.

A bottleneck of mouthwash

The New York Times' editorial page today expressed an old idea (username and password for access to the free online portions of NYT required) in a new, refreshing way. The Times' candor spoke for me, anyway, and, I imagine, managed to communicate a sentiment coursing through many Americans' veins. And that sentiment goes something like this: Stop labeling ordinary, everyday Democratic voters as political operatives of the highest liberal-commie order who would rather capitulate to crazy suicide bombers than uphold our national ideals. Divisive politics no longer cut down our national fabric in the abstract sense; they destroy our nation in the tangible sense. Our five-year-old War on Terror demands cooperation. Now.

The message is obvious to anyone who wants the United States to retain any positive remnants left of its international reputution, and the sentiment that we need to work together in this War on Terror ought to be anything but novel. And, yet, such are the United States' circumstances, forcing us to consider uncomfortable questions and realities: How much more obvious will neoconservatives' meanspirited, downright dangerous political games need to become before the Bush regime finally loses political power? We could argue that they've already lost political power and now merely cling to pure and simple power. What, then, will they do to retain their grip on this baser, raw power? The cynical among us would say we got the light beer version yesterday when air traffic bottlenecked over fears that little Lisa's bottle of Listerine® might in fact be a bomb.

Terrorists plan attacks on the West every day of the week. They work 24-7. Nobody doubts this, and for all their despicable aims, you've got to admire the irrationality that fuels their tenacity. But we have to wonder. We can be sure our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have cracked countless additional terrorists plots just as nefarious as this week's over the past five years. And we know many of these successful sting operations have matriculated behind the scenes without the attendant hoopla and hype.

We need to decide, as a nation, to put a stop to those who would capitalize on hype and hoopla over national security in the hopes that fear might prolong, in an election year, a monopoly on power in the most powerful superpower on earth.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dick Cheney: Emphasis on "Dick"

As in, he's just a big dick, but not in the term-of-endearment sense ala "Hey, Big Dick," and surely not as the ego-boosting faux compliment from the prostitute he probably visited at the Watergate Hotel last night.

No, Dick Cheney is a small, small man indeed. While some enjoy the light, airy tunes of Air Supply, others, including Cheney, enjoy bolstering and replenishing what is, apparently, the world's fledgling Aryan Supply.

(Yes, I am aware that perverted Google search term combinations will yield this post. Oh, well.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Bad hit

Mirroring the apparent imminent state of Brent's Polemics, the server that records site visits for my blog might be flirting with the benefits of becoming comatose. Just yesterday I noticed that the hit counter's functionality was sporadic. What's more, the accompanying link led to nothing. The situation seems to have changed for the better today. And I do use Firefox. Perhaps Explorer users have experienced no trouble.

But, frankly, the circumstances make no difference; this blog has drawn few hits over the past year, and guess what? I accept the lion's share of blame for causing readership to dwindle. My own festering, growing inattention to Brent's Polemics has led, as logic always predicted, to what seems like irrelevancy.

Lesser men might survey the situation and decide to throw in the towel. Men of inferior constitution might choose to call it a day. Lack of feedback from their kin might cause self-conscious men to doubt their resolve to resurrect a soapbox -- or even deny themselves the right to do so.

And, yet, Brent's Polemics' editor is a greater man. He will never let Brent's Polemics perish, no matter the infrequency of its nevertheless sage relevancy. So I encourage one and all: Continue to visit on occasion. You never know when the decision will reward you with an intriguing post.