Month: November 2004

Cartoons 

Last week we said goodbye to three cartoons: Jaimy Stokes’ Aimless,Life in Hell, the meat and potatoes alt-comic by Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, and Angie Grow’s Calculator Club, the second-place finisher in last year’s Bad Cartoon Contest. We did so to give a new face to some of our cartoons.

In this issue you will see two new cartoons. The City, by Derf, which can be a little racy at times, deals with political, social and cultural issues. An interesting fact about Derf is that he went to high school with Jeffrey Dahmer–you know, the serial killer. He was actually friends with him. It isn’t something he makes fun of at all. Actually, in a true-life graphic comic story he portrays the experience, in hindsight, as quite scary.

Our other new cartoonist is a local. Allen Gladfelter will be doing a serial cartoon called Intrepid Event. You might recognize his name and his style from the Idaho Press Tribune where he occasionally inks an editorial cartoon. Finally, beginning in a few weeks, the winner of this year’s Bad Cartoon Contest will have the opportunity to publish his or her own cartoon in BW for one year. (See next week’s issue for the winners.)

On another note, in this issue you will notice the absence of “Wink,” our fake news section. We decided to let it rest for a while and revamp our news section. In news you will notice our “8 Days Last Week” column highlighting local, regional, national and world news events from the previous week, all with a tongue-in-cheek style. You might also notice our updated “True Crime” section, which highlights local crimes. Enjoy.

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Now is a Time of Change 

When things are bad you know it’s time for a change. Your weight is spiralling out of control, your job sucks or perhaps you’ve developed a small addiction to something–donuts, caffeine, nicotine or heroin. You know you’ve got to do something. Nobody else will make a change for you. Others might be kind enough to point it out to you. Those close to you might even point it out in brutally honest ways–ways that make you feel great about it.

While it’s easy to point out other people’s faults, self-diagnosing one’s own problems is often more difficult. Nobody wants to admit they might have problems or issues. The ego, carefully cultivated over the course of a lifetime, usually protects us from such self-degradation. But when the ego finally admits that change needs to happen, that it admits defeat, then it begins to figure out what to do. At least it should.

Now is a time of change. Although we didn’t have a change in the highest office of the land, it seems just about everyone underneath him is making changes. Using the analogy of rats fleeing a sinking ship is not accurate. No one believes the administration is sinking. No, it’s more like a half-hearted vote of no-confidence. They were loyal enough to the leader to hold out until after the election, to allow their boss to have a good chance at winning again. But, if he did, they all had plans on leaving. What I want to know is when they decided to leave. Was it last week? Last year? When their boss asked them to lie about WMDs?

Epi’s Basque Restaurant 

One of the reasons we never make it to Meridian from our 20-block living radius around the State Capitol is because what we’ve seen in the sprawling burbs reminds us of the homogenous strip mall hell we happily left behind in other places we’ve lived. Oh sure, there are gems in every city, but you have to wade through the traffic, McDonalds and Krispy Kremes (no offense) to get there. It was pleasant to find Epi’s in a remodeled old house on downtown Meridian’s Main Street. No glitz or glam–you enter through the sunroom on the porch where curtains adorn the windows.

The place was smaller than we imagined and less pretentious. Having been led to believe that Epi’s was a fancy restaurant, our preconceived notions were shattered by the group family tables, children and cooing infants. We could have taken the kids and fit right in, but we were due for a pleasant adult evening. Not many places can pull both scenarios off. I wouldn’t call the hostess and waiter friendly, I would call them super-friendly; their warmth enhanced the meal and actually made it taste better. It was like having dinner at mom’s.

Our familiarity with Basque food comes from dining at Gernika and infrequent visits to the Basque Market, both within the downtown grid. Excited to finally be at the highest rated Basque restaurant outside of Basque country, we expected to find some lamb, a little seafood, perhaps some great meat dishes, and what everyone told us to order–tongue.

The menu and wine list both have information about the family who started and continue to own the restaurant. Family friends’ artwork, photographs and children’s colored menus adorn the walls giving off a cozy, homey feel. We were intrigued by the tongue and the baby squid with ink sauce but decided to stick to more known fare. My dining date ordered the seafood special and I went with the lamb chops. A bottle of Idaho Pinot Noir and a calamari appetizer cooked just right began the meal. The entrées came with soup–we both chose the rice and shrimp, a savory, hearty bowl of goodness. A salad course with a rich dressing preceded the entrées. We were ready for the finale.

I was impressed with the lamb chops, grilled with an authentic seasoning at the proper temperature. Accented with mashed potatoes, sautéed green beans smothered in garlic and the rich and creamy seafood special–a dish of scallops, shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes and spices–it was all just too much. We had to take some home. Next time, we’ll bring the kids.

–Bingo Barnes can’t wait to bask in more Basqueness.

Election 2004 

I have a few things to remind our evangelical brothers and sisters:

51% is not a landslide.

51% is not a mandate from God.

51% does not give you the right to tell the other 48% how to live their lives or which God to worship,

51% does not mean that the First Amendment is repealed.

51% does not mean that the rest of the world agrees with you.

Finally, while Bush received more votes than any other president, this does not overshadow the fact that he also received more votes against him than any other president in history.

It’s also interesting to note that in Florida, anticipated to be a battleground for the election, an interesting voting anomaly has shown up. Apparently, in counties with electronic voting machines the party-line votes lined up with the numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans. But in counties with optical scanners those same trends did not hold true. For example, in Holmes County there were 7,988 registered Democrats and 2,344 Republicans. But when the votes were tallied John Kerry received 1,810 votes while George W. Bush received 6,410. This pattern repeated itself across the state. Apparently, the FBI is looking into it. You can see the totals for yourself at http://ustogether.org/election04/FloridaDataStats.htm.

There is also a report from Ohio that the votes from one precinct showed over 4,258 votes for Bush and about 260 for Kerry. Funny thing though, there were only 638 ballots cast in that precinct.

It’s also worthy to note that in the history of exit-polling there has never been more discrepancy between the polls and the final results. But in states with paper trails for votes, the exit polls came within .5 percent of the actual results. The exit polling discrepancies only seemed to show up in battleground states. It’s also interesting that some of the major media have retroactively corrected some of their posted exit-poll results to better coincide with the actual results. This, in addition to all the voter-registration shenanigans going on across the country shows there may be more to this win than meets the eye. There are just too many questions out there. For a more in-depth story visit http://www.alternet.org/election04/20416.

Snow Angel Self Portrait

Snow Angel Self-Portrait - BINGO BARNES

If an angel made a snow angel would it have footprints leading up to it in the snow? Was the first snow angel made by a fallen angel? Have you ever made a naked snow angel? Do angel halos make patterns in the snow? where would the harp go during creation? Must an angel dry their wings off before they can fly again? Do angels get snow down their pants when they make snow angels? DoIf cupid made a snow angel would you call it a snow Cupid? Can a snowman make a snow angel, or does his lack of arms prevent proper construction?

Elections on a Tuesday? 

Every week we go to press on Tuesday. Unfortunately, most of the voting across the nation happens on a Tuesday so you won’t see the results of the current fracas this week. But why do we vote on Tuesday? Ask the average citizen and you get a blank look, kind of like the one you see on Dubya’s face. The U.S. Constitution gives the power to Congress to determine the day in which the states choose their electoral college representatives (it must be on the same day across the country) and on which day these electors present their votes to Congress. But why did they select a Tuesday? Time to Ask Jeeves.

In 1845 Congress established the official day in which states would choose their electors for the Electoral College. Lets first look at the month: November. Early November across the country falls in that magic time between the completion of harvest and the beginning of the big winter blizzards. Roads were usually in good shape this time of year–you must remember that the highway system didn’t exist in 1845 and people still travelled on horseback or buggy.

Next Congress set the day: the first Tuesday after the first Monday. Sounds complicated? There’s a reason. Since November 1 is All Saints Day, a Roman Catholic holiday, Congress didn’t want to alienate an entire religion. Since the only polling places were usually at the county seat, that usually meant an overnight stay in town for our rural-agrarian population. If elections were on Monday, then people would have needed to leave on a Sunday, a no-no for a churchgoing population. Finally, businesses usually tallied their books on the first of the month and Congress didn’t want to influence the vote with a good or bad month of receipts. Henceforth, we vote on Tuesday. Is it time for a change?

People have suggested we change the voting day, perhaps to increase participation in this most American of civil duties. Australia votes on a Saturday, so everyone can’t use the work excuse to get out of voting. What a concept. You could have a victory party Saturday night or drown your sorrows if your party lost and not suffer the post election hangover at work. It is also illegal to not vote in Australia and you had better have a good excuse. If you don’t vote you are fined. Australia has a 97 percent voter turnout.