The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


TSA: Why does it hate us?

Or at least, Tsar Charming?

Ok, we figured that maybe his bag was picked out on the way to New Orleans because of the tripod in the suitcase he checked in. But on the way back, the ticket agent at check-in put the label with his name on my suitcase by mistake.

Guess which one got checked on the way back....right, the one with the mascara, lacy bra and girly shower gel. Not the one with the tripod.

It isn't the first time that something with his name was flagged for special attention by government agents. He ordered a computer online from Dell....and that box was searched twice. The Tsar hadn't ordered anything special, and it was all stuff that was available to any other customer from their website.

Is it some stupid way for the government to prove to a bunch of "activists" that they aren't "racial profiling" and only searching stuff belonging to guys named Mohammed?

All I know is, next time we check the bags through, we're putting in a little note for the TSA. Something like, "Hi guys! Help yourself to one of the Snickers bars while you're at it!!" We might even put some candy in there for them.....

Apologies to Fred at Rantburg....

Sometimes I have to apologize for the occasional bit of rude behavior, and this is where I'm going to do it.

Fred, I am sorry for wasting your valuable bandwidth on your blog, Rantburg, by responding to Aris Katsaris' provocations during every discussion of Europe.

I should know better.

However, when I see him going off about America, a country he clearly does not understand, I have let him get to me and I've replied.

I'm not sure what really gets to me most. It might be the weird, twisted history that he has absorbed since childhood regarding my country. Possibly it's his insistence that he knows everything necessary about America without having to visit (Americans like that...the ones who think they know everything necessary about the world who have never gone beyond the border....tork me off, too.)

It might just be seeing how he contradicts himself when he answers that amuses me and draws me in. I don't know.

What I do know is that if he reflects what passes for "pro-American" in Europe....they're in more trouble than they know.

I really don't think that deep inside they get how fed up with them we truly are. When I was growing up, I remember we were all sort of buying into this idea that Europe was in some way our superior (Lookit all that culture, kids!!) Almost everyone I knew was either the child or grandchild of an European immigrant, and we identified ourselves as (some European nationality)-Americans. If someone was in the military they hoped to be posted to Europe, and if they traveled abroad, well, first choice was the continent (you didn't even have to say which was well understood which one you meant). All the foreign languages that were taught in the schools were European, the philosophies taught to us came from Europe. You get the idea.

Then, it started to change in the 1980's. It was slow, but eventually we realized that other, non-European countries mattered. Asia wasn't just a killing field any more. It had Japan, the second largest economy after us, and China was starting to wake up and flex its might. There were new and different things we could learn from them, and slowly we became aware of other countries there, too, that we had ignored when we focused solely on Europe.

Latin America grew in importance, too, as we grew and had more and more friends named Rodriguez, Garcia and Morales. We traveled there, since it was closer and cheaper than Europe, and found that Mexico and Costa Rica and Brazil weren't one and the same like we had always thought they were.

1989 came, and democracy started breaking out all over. The Berlin Wall came down, and I'll never forget the sight of Germans dancing on it while they swung at it with sledgehammers, trying to destroy it.

But still, the attention was directed away from Europe. We watched Tiananmen Square and saw them carrying a "Goddess of Freedom" that looked a lot like.....our Statue of Liberty. We saw one lone student briefly stopping a line of tanks, and wondered if we would have had the courage to do that ourselves in his place. We knew it was doomed to fail, but our hearts were with that brave, crazy guy standing up and saying, "No. No more."

We saw the invasion of Kuwait and prayed as our troops prepared to take it back from Saddam. We prayed for them, since they couldn't openly pray in Saudi Arabia. We saw how we were doing the heavy lifting, with a good assist from the Brits, and wondered where our "allies" were. Our "allies" weren't just the Europeans, who we noticed were hardly there. Arab armies were surprise, really, since they were the most threatened. They weren't very good, so we had to rely on the Brits to help us out. I think the Aussies were there, too.

Milosevich decided that now was the time for a Greater Serbia, and made us familiar with the term "ethnic cleansing". Great, we thought....another European war. But this time, Europe told us to stay out of it, they could handle it without us, this was their backyard.

Ok, we said. And then the bodies piled up while the Europeans did....what? I'm still trying to figure that one out. What did they do?

Eventually we had to go in there. Only this time, there was a new question we were asking, and it was one that the Europeans waved off. How many damn times do we have to go over there and clean up your mess? we wanted to know.

We started noticing the anti-American protests and didn't ignore the messages. USA out of Europe! The American public, silently, thought fine by me, and timidly some began to question why our armies were still in Germany 50 years after World War II.

September 11 happened. We frantically dug into the ruins of the World Trade Center and prayed for miracles. We looked at what had been done to the Pentagon and tried to rescue as many as we could.

And we noticed that we were doing it alone.

There were no "allies" coming over to help us with this. We didn't expect it, anyway.

Nor did we expect to see the venom aimed at us during our most vulnerable moment in the European press. The sons and daughters of immigrants could read what was said about them back in the Old Country and grew angry.

Yes, NATO declared some, what, state of emergency saying they were going to treat this as an attack on all. Big deal. We knew that almost all of the troops were ours, and that the only ones who could get there on their own power were the Brits.

We geared up and decided to go after Osama in Afghanistan. Our betters in Europe told us it was impossible. After all, the British weren't able to conquer, the Russians couldn't, so how the hell could the Americans do it??

Simple. We were angry, we wanted revenge, and we wanted to make sure it didn't happen again.

We conquered the place. And decided to make it better. Elections were held, a new government formed, and women were freed from the prisons of their homes.

The Europeans, when they had anything to say about it, called it "imperialism".

We went from anger towards them to, well, contempt. Yes, contempt. They couldn't get their pathetic little armies over there without contracting with the Russians to airlift them....and then they were going to tell us what they considered acceptable.

Fuck you, Europe. That thought would have been unthinkable in the 90's, but there it was. Fuck you.

We don't need you.

We noticed that some of the best technology was coming from guys named Sanjay and Chang. We were doing a lot of trade with their home countries, even outsourcing some of their best workers to help our companies. Latin America was going democratic, and the countries were getting richer.

Then came Iraq and the mission to hunt down Saddam Hussein. We'll leave the topic of whether we should have gone in there for another time. I just hope that we can bring about a democracy there.)

France, Germany and Russia decided this would be a good time to not just tell us that we were wrong. An ally can do that. What an ally does not do is what they tried to pull off in the UN and other international ventures. France strung us along in the Security Council before finally admitting that, no matter what we said or did, they weren't going to abandon one of their best customers. Then, whenever possible they were going to actively block our every move. Chirac kept passing up good opportunities to shut up.

America watched, and said, Fuck you, France. We discovered Italian, Australian and Chilean wines, and that the French fashionistas weren't the only game in town. There were other places to visit during the summer. You remember, summer....that's when the French left grand-mere to bake in her non-airconditioned apartment because they didn't want to disturb their vacations by checking in on the old bag.

The French, clueless as always, somehow thought this was a government plot. The very idea that maybe we common people had finally had enough escaped them then, and still does today.

The part that really floors us, however, is how the rest of Europe seems to allow France to set the agenda. France! They ignore the EU's rules whenever they want, and the rest of them sit and take it! They claim to be a world power but their stupid aircraft carrier can't even leave the harbor at Marseilles! The last time they had a victorious general, he wasn't even French, he was Corsican!

Yes, as we have done for heaven knows how long, we have concentrated on France when we think of Europe. It's natural....we were taught in school that they helped us beat the Brits to gain our independence. We were told the French language was beautiful, the language of love and diplomacy. We fought for the country twice against the Germans.

So we looked at France and grew angry at the stupid cartoons and articles in Le Monde saying that September 11 was a Jewish plot. (I guess "Mohammed" is a common Jewish first name in Paris....) We saw real French gratitude in action when military cemetaries were desecrated and the French did nothing about it. Well, after all, the dead resting there weren't French. Bitter jokes about the French willingness to defend their own country were even posted on the web.

For the first time in our memory, Americans are talking back to Europe. And our government has even been telling them on occasion where to get off. We looked at them and noticed that maybe they don't have any answers at all.

Our country is young, yes, but our government is significantly older than almost all of theirs. Maybe we have the hang of this democracy thing better than they do. After all, Germany, France and Italy wouldn't have even had democracies after World War II if we hadn't imposed them from above. So far, they seem to be working ok. We don't see European wars every 30 to 50 years as just something that is part of their history, blah, blah, blah.....we see it as a sign of something pathetic and sad, and wonder if they'll ever get over it.

We wonder when they are going to see that maybe, just maybe, the Israelis are more valuable allies than the Palestinians. (Who would you rather have on your side.....a group that's overrepresented in Nobel Prizes and more or less has a democracy, or a bunch of lunatics that scream hatred and only value a woman after she blows herself up?) The view that the only good Jew is a dead Jew, especially coming from a continent that exterminated so many of them, makes most Americans sick.

We are tuning them out and they don't even realize it. Correction....maybe they do, and that is why the screeching seems to be getting more and more shrill.

And now, we see just how ineffective and useless the Europeans really are in regards to the tsunami. This may just be the final nail in the Eurocentric viewpoint we have always had in America. Right after the tragedy, we began coordinating with the Australians, the Indians, and the Malaysians to get help to people who needed it most. The Brits are helping, and so are the Israelis....when someone will let them.

All we expected from Europe is, well, money. We knew damn well they can't get their asses over there to do a friggin' thing. They aren't even on the radar except as UN bureaucrats who imperiously come over to handle the that they have ensured their headquarters are as close to a five-star resort as is possible right now in that part of the world. Please wear UN baby blue vests instead of your uniforms, we can't have these people thinking that America or Australia or India has decent, kind and caring individuals....

We may be both heirs to Western civilization, but we are getting more and more estranged from our cousins across the Atlantic.

Europe went from our teacher and muse to that annoying drunk in the back seat. You know the one....still trying to get by on their fading charm, boring you to death with "When I was..." stories. All we are hoping for from them is that they don't puke on the upholstery before we can get them home.

After all, we have a party to go to. Sanjay, Chang and Jose are waiting for us. We've got to pick up Digger and Nigel first. We'd love to stay, really.... but Ibrahim over here has said he is more than happy to help you out......


New Orleans....The Jet Set Chick Recommends.....

Ah, yes, New Orleans. One of the culinary jewels of America (right up there with San Francisco and New York).

Me and the Tsar spent his 31st birthday and our four-month anniversary in the Crescent City. The Tsar had never been there before, and always wanted to go. I figured, what the hell....I've got some vacation time, let's go!

We got in Saturday afternoon, saw a Mardi Gras parade in the French Quarter (Krewe de Vieux....definitely NOT for kids, and no, I didn't flash the parade. It was too damn cold. Didn't see anyone else doing that, either!) and settled in.

Here's my totally opinionated reviews of the city and what we experienced:

Best Breakfast: Sorry, didn't get up that early. Too much partying. It would probably be Cafe du Monde's beignets. They're open 24 hours, so you could have breakfast any time. Very limited with chicory, coffee straight up, hot chocolate and beignets. Just be warned, the beignets have tons of powdered sugar on them. The tsar and I were there twice and both of us ordered a plate of three both times. I swear that in total there had to be a good half pound of powdered sugar in those four orders. Oy!

Jazz Brunch: Mr B's. Wandering musicians, lots of hot coffee (which was important, since it only got to the mid-40's that day), and amazing BBQ shrimp. If you order that, wear the bib your server will offer you! Yeah, you may be the most delicate eater at the dinner table, but these little buggers will make a mess that will get all over you. It's worse than the beignets at Cafe du Monde. The shrimp may be disconcerting to those who are not used to seeing the entire shrimp (heads, eyes, antennae), but it is one glorious mess for those of you who can ignore your entree looking up at you. The jazz brunch is only offered Sundays from 10 to 2. Be there.

Best Place to Celebrate a Special Occasion: Commander's Palace. Lunchtime. 25 cent martinis, and they ain't watered down. Take a loan to pay for the meal (it's worth it....this place hasn't been called the best restaurant in America for nothin'), and then take a cab back to your hotel.

Best Place for a Drink: Pat O'Brien's. Why get a hurricane anywhere else, when you can go to the birthplace of that lethal concoction? Just remember, you get charged for the glass when you order. You can get your money back if you stagger to the bar with the empty one ($3 per). There are 4 ounces of rum in each drink. If you can down more than two and stand up, you are either bulletproof or a serious alcoholic.

Best Place for Photos, indoor: The Aquarium of the Americas by the Mississippi River at the end of Canal Street. Bring your tripod and snap away at the penguins, otters and fish of all kinds. Nice seahorse exhibit. There are no restrictions on taking pictures.

Best Place for Photos, outdoor: Jackson Square, from across Decatur Street by the cannon at sunset, and just after sunset.

Best Dive, food division: Mother's on Poydras. Cleanliness is, well, questionable. The wait is ridiculous, and obviously no expense was spared on the decor (as in, not one thin dime since FDR was in office). I really don't want to know what was in that Ferdi sandwich I ate. But the gumbo special the Tsar had was mighty tasty.

Best Overrated Place: Clover Grill on Bourbon Street. Hey, I couldn't pass up a place that's open 24 hours and grills your burger under a hubcap. Why a hubcap? Beats the hell outta me, especially since it was well done and I like 'em medium (my bad, forgot to tell the waiter.) It is supposed to be the best burger in town. If so, well, I prefer Wendy's. Sorry....Deep in the gay end of Bourbon Street on the corner of St Ann. The Tsar and I were the only straights in there, but no one seemed to care. Almost rivals Mother's for decor, but it gets some points for being pink and having cool art Deco light fixtures.

Stupidest Thing We Encountered: Hustler's Hollywood at the corner of Canal and Bourbon. The Tsar had his camera equipment with him (tripod, two expensive cameras and a bunch of other toys that only serious photographers have), and we went into the store to see if there was anything interesting (save your's nothing special if you've been in a sex shop anytime in the past 10 years). They got their pants in a tizzy because the Tsar wouldn't let them take his photo bags to an unguarded place at the front of the store. We offered to let them inspect the bags when we left, but the manager insisted and was incredibly snotty about that. The only thing worse than his 'tude was his breath. Yow! Someone get him a breath mint!

Best Reason to Take a Big Tube of Toothpaste and a Bottle of Scope:
The muffalettas at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. Loaded with meat, cheese and olive salad (not as nasty as it sounds....I liked it on this sandwich and I don't like olives), this remnant of New Orleans' Italian heritage requires two things: a friend to help you eat the huge thing, and plenty of dental care products to help take care of the nasty breath problem you are going to have after consuming one of these bad boys. Nice for a picnic on nearby Jackson Square, and pretty inexpensive to boot.

Best Cheap Seafood: Acme Oyster in the French Quarter. Pretty decent po' boy sandwich (the Peacemaker -- fried oysters and fried shrimp with some tabasco mayo on it...) and fresh oysters on the half shell. People line up along the streets at mealtimes to get in, and they're not all tourists.

Best Thing to Take Along with You to New Orleans: the latest copy of the Zagat guide. The New Orleans edition is for 2004 at the local library here in Phoenix. It never steers you wrong, gives you a good idea of the local specialties and "Best Bangs for the Buck".

Stupidest Thing to Do in New Orleans: renting a car. Seriously. Parking is a nightmare, and most hotels charge at least $15 a day for guest parking. One hotel close to the Quarter was charging $29. Plus, if you are going to spend any time drinking, do you REALLY want to leave a vehicle out on the street for heaven knows how long until you sober up and/or can remember where you parked it? Overall, a cab will be cheaper and much more convenient.

Best Reason NOT to stay in the French Quarter: Too damn noisy, and just outside the Quarter in the Central Business District, there are two hotels that are the highest ranked on They are right next to each other....the Homewood Suites and Le Pavillon. We stayed at the latter. It was a lovely, high ceilinged room, and they served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as late night snacks at 10 pm.

No, New Orleans isn't a place to bring the kiddies. It's more fun than Vegas, though. Better drinks, better food, and nicer people. There's still plenty of old buildings, some in good condition and others not. The sidewalks are ripped up, it's generally pretty dirty and there are a whole bunch of weirdos walking around....and those are the locals.

But,'s got its charm. I wouldn't want to live there, I just want to eat there!


Bring it, pendejo.....

There are times I really wish I had a ton of readers. Especially readers like the Mexican consul in Phoenix, or Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez.

But I don't. That could be a blessing, especially when I want to rant.

Courtesy of Rantburg, I just read something that made me spew my Kauai Blue Mountain all over my computer. Then it made me laugh.

Senor Derbez is threatening my beloved state of Arizona international court action over Proposition 200. For those of you outside Arizona, it basically states that if you are here illegally, you don't get certain public benefits, and state employees have to turn you in if you apply for them. If you want to vote, you have to show proof of citizenship when you register, and then bring government ID.

Somehow, this is a human rights violation.

The fact that Mexico itself requires a voter ID card to participate in their elections is not a human rights violation. Neither is the requirement to provide proof of legal residency or citizenship when you want to procure Mexican government services (such as registering your kids for school) or just get the utilities turned on.

For all the screaming that they are doing about this proposition, you would think that they are requiring putting illegals up against the wall and shooting them in the kneecaps if they are found.

It would almost be funny, if you could forget a few basic facts about Mexico.

Mexico is not a poor least, it should not be. It is resource-rich. Their policies regarding their own population are what keeps Mexico poor.

They have felt no need to change them.....why should they? 12 percent of their population has left the country to find work up north. That's according to the Mexican government. If they weren't sending money back home, Mexico would be about as well off as, say, Bangladesh. And all those illegals would be back home, possibly causing trouble for the idiotas in the Distrito Federal.

Hell, they even encouraged people going up north for work when they published a comic book showing how to cross illegally. IMHO, any government that would encourage someone to cross the southern Arizona desert has so little regard for their own people that they cannot be taken seriously. This born-and-bred desert rat wouldn't attempt that, even in the winter. Summer temperatures go well into the 120's, and I wouldn't be surprised if they went into the 130's. There's not a lot of shade, and precious little water to be found.

I remember when I was a little girl and the Tison-Greenawalt gang broke out of death row. The state police, the national guard, everyone was looking for them, especially old man Tison.....a royal son of a bitch if there ever was one. They never caught him. The desert did. When they found him, he was burned black by the sun. No lie. I saw the picture, and believe me, it didn't look like the bastard died easy. That's what the Mexican government has sent their own into.

They're trying to paint it as anti-immigrant. Not exactly. Tsar Charming is completely unaffected by it.....but then again, he's here legally. (Yes, I hate immigrants so much that I married a guy from overseas.) California Governor Schwarzenegger supported that state's version of our proposition, Proposition 187. I don't think he's exactly anti-immigrant, either. And 40% of Arizonans of Mexican descent voted for it.

Senor Derbez says that he is going to exhaust all of the legal avenues in America first. Big deal. I'm sure there's a judge here in Arizona (probably Pima County), to issue an injunction. The state will take it to the next level, and eventually it will get to the 9th Circuit Court. They'll uphold the injunction.

It will go to the Supreme Court. The same Supreme Court that has two Arizonans on it. One of whom happens to be the current Chief Justice.

Popcorn, anyone?

Back From the Big Easy

New Orleans during Mardi Gras (or in my case....just before it). One of those life experiences that you have to chalk up before you die....

At least eating at one of New Orleans' restaurants is, in my opinion. And, boy, did me and the Tsar do that!

I'm back home, broke but stuffed and happy, and remarkably hangover free....which, considering all the martinis and hurricanes I downed, is a worthy achievement of which I will forever be proud. Livers and brain cells are overrated!

I'll leave helpful travel hints about that party town in my next post, I promise.

Thanks to all who stopped by in my absence and left comments. Maybe someday when I can figure out how to respond on Blogger, I'll post replies! In the meantime....special hellos to eLarson and trailing wife from Rantburg, and my ol' college buddy Snooze!


So, Dr Dobson, Why Isn't Jimmy Neutron Gay, Too??

I have never been a bible-thumper. I haven't gotten the Good Book memorized, and I have torked off more than a few of the self-appointed righteous by saying, among other things, that Jews aren't dammed to hell because they don't believe in Jesus....and even if they were, if the only people allowed in Heaven were like the ignorant clods who made such a remark, well then, I would happily march into Hell with my head held high. Then I launched into a monologue regarding blasphemy and their usurpation of God's role by determining who is saved and who is can imagine how quickly it went downhill from there.

Although my mother was, for the most part, an atheist, and my brother is one also, I somehow became a believer. Call it a miracle, call it a weird kind of rebellion against my family, but that's what happened.

But, every now and then, some shmo comes up with something incredibly stupid that just makes me reconsider, say, Buddhism. (The discussion of how that brought me around to where I am today will be saved for a different time.)

Today's so-called Christian Bozo is none other than: Dr James Dobson, head crank in charge of Focus on the Family.


Spongebob Squarepants.

Yup. Spongebob. According to the Reverend, this cartoon character joins Barney and the Teletubbies as members of the Lavender Brigade. No, it's not because of his suspicious friendship with Patrick, either. (And you thought a chick without kids wouldn't know a damn thing about the dude who lives in a pineapple under the sea.....)

Nope. Spongebob is appearing in a video along with Barney and Jimmy Neutron advocating tolerance......and included with the video is a pledge mentioning "sexual identity".

Spongebob isn't parading around like the Village People on a gay pride parade, or playing tongue hockey with his co-stars. He's just promoting the idea that maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't beat the crap outta someone because he or she is a bit different. (The actual pledge is separate from the video. Neither Spongebob, nor his co-stars, mentions the words.)

Which, of course, as we all know, will turn the kids into drag queens and butches swilling Heineken. Within 30 seconds of exposure, no less.

I mean, really....who's next, Dr Dobson? Dora the Explorer? The Rugrats?


Welcome to the Jet Set Chick, part deux!

Like the new, pink layout?

Yes, I'm back, for a second go around with this blog thing. So much has changed since the first edition.....

First, I done got myself married. It was quick, it was a bit impulsive, it was in Vegas.....and it was to the most wonderful Russian export since Stolichnaya and the Faberge Eggs. I call him Tsar Charming.

Second, I changed employers to the great State of Arizona from the execrable City of Phoenix. No bitterness here.....My current boss is wonderful, the kind you think only exist in dreams, or maybe Frank Capra movies.

And third, I moved out of the house and into an apartment downtown with the two big, goofy dogs. That has been an experience, but they are thriving.

But, as before, I'm going to do the same kinda crap you grew to know and love. I'll post about....well, whatever the hell I feel like posting about. Isn't that what a blog is for? So, whenever I see a great link, it's gonna be here. Maybe it will be political, maybe it will be news of the weird, maybe just some typing practice on my part. But it will be amusing to me.