A man gets hungry sometimes. Sometimes a man needs to just eat. Other times, a man has more carnal desires.

I had gotten home late, miserable from working overtime. Damn my boss to hell. I couldn't even order out for some Chinese. Despite it, I was home now. I hung up my jacket, untucked my shirt, and went to the fridge. I opened it, and scanned its meager contents. Then, my eyes fell upon ambrosia in shrinkwrap. A thick, juicy red steak. I unconsciously began to drool at the sight of the thick cut of meat. With a huge grin on my face, I pulled out the steak, released it from its plastic prison. I rubbed it with garlic, and pepper, lovingly... tenderly...

Steak alone does not a meal make, of course. I got a can of string beans, and a packet of instant mashed potatoes with garlic. However, these were secondary to the pure wonder of beef. I fired up the little electric grill I kept on the counter for such an occasion. The metal coils grew red with heat. It was so hot, I had to remove my work shirt. Standing over the grill in a T-Shirt and Khakis, I felt so wonderful. The steak hit the grill with a hiss and a sizzle. While the one side cooked, I prepared the potatoes and string beans, or at least tried to.

The smell of the steak was intoxicating. It was like the perfume of an exotic woman, only you could eat it. I dare not touch it, though, lest I ruin it. I have to be patient. I stared at the cooking meat as it turned from red to brown. I picked up a pair of tongs and flipped the steak over on the grill. Another hiss, and another sizzle...

The mashed potatoes had long congealed into a solid lump. A sort of starchy Bose-Einstein Condensate. The string beans were burnt to the sides of the pot. The water they boiled in had long since evaporated. There was nothing but me and my steak. I lightly touched its warm surface. I felt the juices rise from inside. A grin, sardonic and lustful crossed my face as I picked up my knife and fork. I licked my lips. The steak sat on my plate, tantalizing my senses, giving me a tingling sensation throughout my body. I gave in to my lust.

An hour later, I sat on edge of my bed, smoking a cigarette. Tears slowly streamed down my face. "Why did I do it?" I asked myself. "I killed her." No-one knew my pain. It was only natural to eat what you cooked. I just wanted more. I only wanted something more.

What if they gave a war and nobody died?

Tonight, on ABC’s Nightline, Ted Koppel is going to read each of the names of the soldiers who have died in the war with Iraq. It’s intended to be not only a tribute to the fallen but to also serve as reminder of the horrors of war inflicted upon the families, friends, and the country in general. My home town has decided not to show the broadcast claiming that it is not in good taste and that it is motivated by what they are calling a “political agenda”.

“I have not gotten one positive response," said an assignment desk editor at WSYX, the ABC station in Columbus, Ohio.”

I have a message for the “assignment desk editor” – the news is not always positive. The news often hurts; it should depict the reality of events and not be airbrushed. You were all too happy to tell dubious the story of Jessica Lynch in a fit a flag waving, pat yourself on the back, heave a sigh of relief, all American way. Don’t the people who have died also deserve a moment of recognition?

In this war, there is no Dover test, there is little footage similar to the war in Vietnam that depicted the blood and the agony that our troops faced on a daily basis. The Bush Administration has seen to that. As far as I know, the President hasn’t attended any services for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They want to sanitize the filth. They want heroes such as Pat Tillman that embody the sacrifices made by our service men and women. They just don’t want to see them dead.

Each of the soldiers performing their duty is a hero in their own right. For once, I might have to agree with Rush Limbaugh when he stated that if you’re going to read the names of the dead, you might as well read the names of those who are still alive and fighting. I guess he was trying to make a point and express it through sarcasm. I say, lets take him up on it. It’s the least we can do.

I guess my local ABC affiliate is going to show another rerun of Seinfeld or Friends or some other light fare that will keep the public smiling and ignorant. They should be ashamed of themselves.

End of rant.

Update 5/3/04 - it was a Seinfeld rerun...

I’ve been re-reading the excellent Vertigo/DC Preacher trade paperbacks as part of my ongoing research into good comic book writing. Although it features strong characters, some sharp religious commentary and a unique synthesis of fantasy, horror and western genre elements, Preacher unfortunately suffers from the writer’s fondness for over-the-top sexual situations -- often exemplified by sodomy jokes.

There’s one instance in particular where Odin Quincannon, the evil meat-packing boss threatening the town of Salvation, TX, is seen to engage in what I can only describe as cross-species necrophilia. Although it was probably intended as yet another “joke,” it left me feeling quite nauseous. After I shut the book I wondered justhow the hell series creator Garth Ennis thought it up. I know that I’ve written my share of “extreme” situations -- particularly during my angry “Dungeon Master” years -- but Odin Quincannon’s sexual depravity was beyond anything I could imagine.

“Well,” I thought, “at least it’s fiction. It is a horror comic after all ...”

That was last night. This morning I woke up to news that made me feel even ickier -- in particular, photographs of American soldiers sexually torturing Iraqi prisoners. There are photos that didn’t make the “Today Show's” surprisingly graphic broadcast that are even worse than what they showed, all readily available online from the European press. As Pantaliamon said this morning, they look like something out of “Silent Hill” or “Resident Evil,” only real.

Granted, I know my history -- I’ve read enough books about Russian and German atrocities in World War II to know that bad things happen in war. But watching American soldiers standing around smiling and giving the thumbs up next to heaps of naked Iraqi prisoners made me feel ashamed not only of them, but of the fact that my tax dollars support what can only be described as a war crime. This is sociopathic behavior -- any person who could allow themselves to be part of it is little better than a serial killer or child molester.

This is a huge blow to reconstruction efforts in Iraq -- any attempt to portray American forces as benevolent liberators has been wasted. All of the hostages currently in insurgent hands are as good as dead -- if this is the way we treat Iraqi prisoners, how can we expect humane treatment for Americans and other Westerners in the hands of the enemy? Those soldiers who committed acts of brutality against Iraqi prisoners -- and the officers who allowed it to go on -- have just made life for every American soldier in Iraq, as well as American traveling in the region and throughout the world, much less safe.

The last four years of my life have not gone quite as I expected they would four years ago. Most of my life has been plugged into this machine, stored on a hard drive. I've seen so many chances slip through my fingers. Mostly this was because I was too absorbed by the soft light emitted from my CRT but sometimes because of unfortunate events, sometimes. This really doesn't have anything to do with anything except recently my hard drive puked on me. This wasn't just a regular hard drive crash. This was one glorious failure to be remembered forever. Ok not really since I haven't missed a thing that I lost. But coming from one computer addict to another I'm sure you can appreciate this tale.

I sat down at my computer exactly ten days ago and tried to fire up my web browser. This is a fairly regular task that I require of my computer and one until now that it had done very well. This time the browser opened, everything2 popped on screen. Then as I moved the mouse it hesitated, then skipped and everything froze. The finger ballet of simple fixes began: Ctrl-Alt-Del, wait, Alt-Tab, Alt-Enter, Ctrl-Esc. Nothing. Esc. I don't know why I hit escape. It never does anything, I guess that just seems to be the ticket to get out of those bad situations in the movies. Sometimes I pretend my life is a movie. I do it over again, twice, just to be sure.

Ok, now I'm still not worried, no big deal I'll just reboot. It is a Microsoft product after all. I restart the computer watch the BIOS screens scroll by … IDE devices found blah blah… DPMI verified… and… nothing. Ok now I'm a little worried. The full impact of the situation hasn't quite hit me yet. I flip the switch and do it over again. Same thing. I'm not quite smashing anything within reach yet. Flip the switch again, I would hit the reset button but for some reason the wires that go with the reset button on my case don't match the motherboard and I'm too lazy to solder. Again through the BIOS screens and nothing.

This time I figure I'll let it sit for awhile. Maybe it's decided that today it needs to take things slowly and think its moves over. Fine, I can appreciate that besides I'm going to be late for work. So I hop in the car and it's all "How can I help you?" and "Do you need help finding something?" for a few hours. I'm back and the screen hasn't changed. I decide to crack the case. Initial inspection looks good, although I'm not sure what I expected to find, maybe green glowing alien guts splattered on the inside like some good sci-fi horror flick.

I decide to restart the power again. I don't know why I'm obsessively restarting it, I think it's how I'm coming to deal with the potentiality of losing all my data. This time things change. This time the machine decides to give me a hint. This time my worst fears are realized. Warning Primary Master Drive Failure. Yeah just like that. It still didn't hit me yet.

So I grabbed the drive and slapped it a few times. Power on. No more drive failure message, but still doesn't get past DPMI. Ok what the fuck. I think maybe it's not getting enough juice, the power supply is a measly little thing. I pull the power plugs out of all the other drives in my system and restart. It hits the DPMI message like a brick wall. Shit. I turn off the power and yank the drive. It's drop kick time baby. I slam the drive on my desk, I hear that works sometimes.

I pickup the drive from where it bounced and plug it back in. Power up. Things are looking good. I make it to the Win XP startup screen. I make it past the Win XP startup screen. It sure is taking it's time about shit though. I go down stairs and grab a snack. I come back and it's at the login selection screen. I've never been so happy to see that stupid little picture next to my login. I click it. HAHA JUST KIDDING. It freezes. Fuck. I power off, drop the drive on the desk and put it back in. Nothing "Primary Master Drive Failure". I don't have any backups. It hit me.

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