Sunday, August 24, 2008

Yes, Shiny Toy Guns has a new singer.

Above: Former Shiny Toy Guns singer/bassist/keyboardist Carah Faye Charnow

The past couple of weeks this blog has seen a lot of traffic from fans of the band Shiny Toy Guns, checking out the post I did last September about their concert at The Windjammer. Many of these visitors wandered in on Google searches pertaining to the loss of one of the band’s members. I figured I may as well let people know what was up.

Yes, kids, I hate to say it, but Carah Faye Charnow has parted ways with the other members of Shiny Toy Guns and has been replaced.

Okay, STG fans…breathe. In, out. In, out.

Details are murky but it seems that Carah parted ways with Chad, Jeremy, and Mikey, and is now working on a project in Sweden. She’s been replaced by Sisely Treasure, of Long Beach, California. Treasure is known for a few different musical projects, but probably is best known recently as having been a finalist on the CW network’s reality show about finding a new member for the Pussycat Dolls.

Above: New kid on the block Sisely Treasure

About her departure, Carah has been quoted as saying,
” The rumors that I am no longer in Shiny Toy Guns are true. But, the rumors that I have quit are completely false. The boys have decided to go on without me.

I’m severely crushed, but severely hard to knock down. I’m slaving over a new project in Sweden that will hopefully take me above where I’ve been before. I promise only bigger and better things. And more details will come soon. Your love and support is so important to me. Please write me with any questions.


After releasing three different versions of their debut album, “We Are Pilots” over the past four years and touring almost non-stop during the same time span, the band is set to release a new album, called “Season of Poison” in October. The first single, “Ricochet”, was made available for fans to download Friday night, and is the first glimpse at Treasure’s vocals and the slightly different sound of the Shinys.

I’ve listened to the song a few times now, and while it’ll grow on me eventually, it’s a rather abrasive sonic assault that sounds almost nothing like the synth-heavy songs of We Are Pilots. The guitar-heavy track reminds me of early-90’s KMFDM and Treasure’s voice is reminiscent of Nikkie van Lierop, former vocalist for the Belgian techno band Lords of Acid. Luckily, I like both KMFDM and Lords of Acid.

I’m gonna miss Carah. Her voice was one of the things I really liked about STG and I’m sure I’ll follow her with her new project, too. I’m still going to continue to listen to STG as well, and see where their new direction leads them. Remember, a lot of people said Depeche Mode was finished when Vince Clarke left in 1981. Twenty-seven years later, they still sell out stadiums world-wide, and Vince’s band Erasure has become iconic in its own right.

Above: Way back when: Carah Faye with the other members of Shiny Toy Guns

I once called Shiny Toy Guns the heirs to New Order’s throne as the leaders of the danceable rock throne, and hopefully they can continue to do so. The way the guitars and basslines compliment the synths and drums are an incredible blend in the same vein that New Order both pioneered and perfected. Some of their songs have reminded me of aspects of such classic New Order tracks as Blue Monday, Subculture, The Perfect Kiss, and Regret. I hailed We Are Pilots as the best album I bought last year, right alongside Dave Gahan’s second solo cd, Hourglass.

When I saw STG at the Windjammer, I was a brand new fan to the band and unfamiliar with many of the songs I heard, but I left that show fully converted to the church of the STG. In speaking with vocalist/guitarist Chad Petree before the show, I told him that it was exciting for me because at my age I seldom find new bands that I can embrace and get into with a fresh sound, and he agreed with me. I found the entire band to be personable and approachable, and very sincerely appreciative of the fans who showed up. It was very refreshing indeed.

So a chapter closes and a new chapter begins. It’s a good story so far, and I hope it continues to be as such.

UPDATE 12-2-2008: Go read my review of Season of it! You know you want to...

Deploy the Live Eye Storm Watch Mega Doppler Fear Center teams!

In the past several days, Tropical Event Fay has caused at least 11 deaths and untold zillions of dollars in damages. Tonight I saw a group of about 25 bucket trucks from Pike Electric in Mt. Airy, NC headed south to help with the cleanup efforts. Hats off to you guys for lending a hand.


My Gawd, enough with the 24-hour non-stop, raindrop-by-raindrop coverage of Tropical Event Fay. It keeps shifting from Tropical Storm to Hurricane and back again, and has made landfall at least four times as of this evening, so we’ll just refer to it as “Tropical Event”… how’s that?

In my 39+ years of converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, I’ve been through no fewer than 23 named storms; I know I’m forgetting a few. David, Gloria, Bob, Erin, Opal, Bertha, Floyd, Gordon, Helene, Allison, Kyle, Isabel, Alex, Bonnie, Charley, Gaston, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne, Cindy, Ophelia, Alberto, Ernesto… I’m no novice to foul weather. And now there’s Fay.

Every year it seems to get progressively worse. It starts about a month before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, with an almost daily countdown to the start day (June 1st), the unveiling of that season’s storm names, and the reminder to swing by the Piggly Wiggly grocery store to pick up your free Hurricane Tracking Chart. They may as well just get Ryan Seacrest to reveal the names in that smarmy, annoying after-the-break style he uses to unveil shit on American Idol to add mock dramatic gravity to it. And those charts? The same chart gets reprinted every year with the same graph, the same “survival tips”, and the obligatory satellite photo of either Katrina, Andrew, or Hugo, because without a picture, we’d all be too stupid to understand. The only thing that changes year to year are the advertisers. Face it; the charts are just an ad revenue source and public relations gimmick. No one I know over the age or 12 actually uses one to track a storm by latitude and longitude, plotting each new storm in a different colored crayon. No way, man. If I wanna know where it is I turn on the TV and either catch the news or CNN, or hit Weather Channel if I need excruciating graphic minutia.

At the Weather Channel, they live for this shit. As soon as a cloud forms over the equatorial Atlantic, they’re out there on the air with maps, charts, a cool font and graphic created just for this potential storm, projected paths of mayhem & destruction that are 800 miles to cover any & all variations of that path, and the mobile broadcast teams start fanning out like hungry picnic ants carrying reporters in their ubiquitous blue and black windbreakers.

Once they establish where the storm will hit, then they break out the nostalgia footage and invoke the names of the Unholy Trinity of Katrina, Andrew, and Hugo, and remind us all yet again that we can all be destroyed at a moment’s notice. Locally, once they catch a whiff that even a slight drizzle connected to a named storm will come within 100 miles of Charleston, the Live Eye Storm Watch Mega Doppler Fear Center logo comes out and then they begin non-stop coverage as well. And of course, then they gotta break out the interviews with Hugo survivors and start sending their own local scaremongers to prowl the Lowe’s and Home Depot parking lots for people buying plywood and begin reporting “on the eights” from Folly Beach. They even went so far as to find a way to find a tenuous connection to the Lowcountry by finding out that a dumbass who went kite-boarding in the storm surge and ended up plastered against a wall with several broken bones was originally from Charleston. Why would you want to claim that? You go surfing or kite-boarding or skydiving or anything in a frikkin’ hurricane, you deserve whatever happens.

In closing, as a public service to our friends in the meteorological industry, I am revising the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale to quantify every aspect of a storm, from the first butterfly effect to the end of the world as we know it. Hereafter, storms will be categorized as follows:

Tropical Flap: no sustained winds, but the butterfly did flap its wings…we think.
Tropical Rustle: occasionally, a slight puff of air will reach almost half a mile an hour.
Tropical Ripple: max sustained winds at ½ -1 mph
Tropical Breeze: max sustained winds at 2-4 mph
Tropical Sprinkle: rain forms, max winds at 5-7 mph
Tropical Drizzle: more rain, max winds at 8-12 mph
Tropical Disturbance: even more rain, max winds at 13-17 mph
Tropical Unpleasantness: pretty miserable, max winds at 18-24 mph
Tropical Wave: The trough is well-defined and beginning to spin. Winds at 25-30 mph
Tropical Depression: Oh no! Start buying supplies! Winds at 31-38 mph
Tropical Storm: winds are 39-73 mph
Category 1 Hurricane: winds are 74-95 mph
Category 2 Hurricane: winds are 96-110 mph
Category 3 Hurricane: winds are 111-130 mph
Category 4 Hurricane: winds are 131-155 mph
Category 5 Hurricane: winds are 156-175 mph
Anything over 175 mph will be thereafter referred to as “Tropical Apocalypse”

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Guns of August

If it’s mid-August, then it must be time to go kill something.

Here in South Carolina, we have what seems to be the longest hunting season in the known universe. In fact, I think the only sporting season that’s longer is the NASCAR racing season. So now all the fellas that I see driving around in muddy pickups with dog boxes in the back, dressed all in Mossy Oak camouflage every day can actually put them to use.

Granted, I am not a hunter. I’m a gun owner, yes, but I don’t hunt. I’m a strong advocate for responsible gun ownership and the right to own firearms for protection and sporting; I’m just not a hunter myself. I can shoot an animal, yes, but I’m not up for the gutting and skinning and gore and guts and blood. Not me, no way. Ewww.

The deer hunting season here starts on August 15th and runs to January 1st, at least in my section of the state. (South Carolina is divided into 6 zones for hunting laws.) By contrast, back in Maine, where I used to live, the deer season is pretty much November 3rd through November 28th. That’s four weeks as opposed to 4 months, no hunting on Sundays in Maine as opposed to every day here, and a limit of one tagged deer per season per permit in Maine as opposed to pretty much an all-you-can-shoot buffet down here.

In Maine, you don’t hunt deer with dogs the way the locals here do. Around here, guys set loose a batch of hounds to drive the deer to where other guys wait in ambush. In Maine, you only do that with bears. The dog helps find the bear & I guess keeps it occupied while you shoot it. I dunno. Of course, no one I know locally goes looking for the 3 or 4 bears remaining along South Carolina’s coast. And then after the hunting, comes the next several hours of trying to find your dogs. Many a Saturday afternoon I’ve watched frustrated guys along the side of the road on 17-A looking for lost dogs, some with receivers trying to track the dogs with radio collars, and others just yelling in hopes a dog will wander out of the woods.

Most guys I know don’t so much hunt as they do sit, and by sit I mean spending hours on end sitting in a tree stand, drenched in sweat and soaked in a mix of store-bought deer piss and Deet to mask their scent and keep the bugs at bay while they swig a 12-pack and hope that in the rare event a deer wanders past, they’ll be sober enough to aim properly. That’s how one of my former coworkers hunts, and under no circumstances would I even think about joining him. Thou shalt not drink and shoot.

To me, that’s not what deer hunting is about. Shouldn’t a hunt be just that, a hunt? A stalk, finding the quarry, and then setting up the shot; it’s a bit of a skill and a bit of an art. There’s no skill involved in sitting stationary waiting to shoot something. Hell, you may as well just set some bear traps and check them every day to see what comes along for the same effort. Land mines are just as effective but tend to ruin the meat and antlers, especially on these undersized deer they have around these parts. Picture a Great Dane with antlers. The deer in other places I’ve lived, like Kansas and Maine, were notably larger. Plus, we had moose up north. If you’ve never seen a moose, it’s a large, rather dumb and ornery cross between a deer and a brick wall. As a nifty trade-off , though, we gots gators here. A moose can stomp you, sure, but an alligator will straight up eat your ass sooner than to look at you.

Now that it’s hunting season, please be careful as you enjoy the woods. There are an awful lot of people out there who really shouldn’t be allowed to carry a loaded weapon. If you like to walk in the woods, or take your dogs for walks in the woods, wear some orange and get an orange vest for your pet. Else wise, some overzealous twit with a Winchester 30.06 is likely to mistake you for a deer without checking first. It happens all the time. Hell, the Vice President of the United States shot his buddy in the face while hunting a couple years back. That dude’s a heartbeat away from the Presidency and he shot his buddy’s jowls fulla birdshot pellets.

Just a couple weekends ago hiker on Sauk Mountain in Washington was shot and killed by a bear hunter. Go here and read all about hunting accidents nationwide:

I heard a story once about some guys from New York who were spotted going through the toll booths in New Hampshire with what they thought was a deer strapped to the roof of the car but in reality was a farmer’s goat that they’d shot and never knew the difference. I’ve heard the urban legends of farmers who spray paint COW in orange on the sides of their cows so idiots who shouldn’t get a hunting license don’t kill their livestock thinking that the first large animal they see with horns is a deer. I know it's an urban legend but remember kids, urban legends often have a base in fact. Two hunters in Montana did indeed shoot and field dress an animal they later found out was a stray llama when the guy they took it to for processing refused to do it.

Dude, unless you actually know what you’re doing, and can stay sober, stay the hell out of the woods and don’t handle firearms. And if you’re headed into the woods between now and the first of the year, keep an eye out for stray buckshot and bullets....and idiots.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Fallen Hero is memorialized

A good man was memorialized today. The funeral for Colleton County Deputy Dennis Compton took place under a bright blue Carolina sky at 10:00 am. Dennis will be buried in Virginia, leaving behind a wife and four children.

It’s always sad and tragic to see a police officer’s funeral. As a former Military Policeman, I’m deeply saddened when I hear about a Line of Duty Death of people I consider my brothers still, and this death hit closer to home because the fallen officer lived right here in my town and we knew some of the same people, although I didn’t personally know Dennis or his family. I’m sure we’ve passed each other around town & said hi, since I often wave to officers as I drive by as a sign of respect & camaraderie. Dennis was just 39, the same age as me.

There were literally hundreds of officers present at First Baptist Church as I drove by at about 9:00 on my way to take my dogs to the vet. I saw state troopers, Walterboro city officers, and deputies from Colleton, Georgetown, Florence, and Dorchester counties in the few brief seconds I was in the area. I also saw one fellow in a kilt, most certainly a bagpiper. After I was done at the vet’s office, I assiduously avoided driving home the same way I came, just so I wouldn’t intrude on a sacred moment.

Rest in peace, Deputy Compton.

Dennis was killed by a shotgun blast at 3:00 am Wednesday after responding to a burglar alarm at a home on Sunflower Drive in the small village of Smoaks. If you have any sort of information that will bring Dennis’ killers to justice, please call Crime Stoppers locally at 554-1111 or 1-888-CRIMESC statewide. Tips can also be made directly to SLED's state Information and Intelligence Center at 1-866-472-8477.
Donations may be made to the Dennis Compton Family Fund at the Enterprise Bank of South Carolina to help the family.

Also, Palmetto Cops Inc., a nonprofit organization, is selling memorial T-shirts to benefit the family. For more information or to place an order, go to Shirts are $15 each and all proceeds will go directly to the family.

England, Sharia, Paranoia, and Puritanical Hypocrisy.

Somebody please tell me what in the hell is in the water in England these days that’s making people insane? I’ve recently highlighted the push for Sharia Law in the UK by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chief Justice, and there’s just no explaining the fascination the English seem to have as of late with giving up being English and catering to the wants of every ethnic minority that refuses to assimilate into British society.

A recent poll for the Centre for Social Cohesion found that two in five Muslims in British universities support the idea of Islamic Sharia codes being enshrined in British law and almost one third of British Muslim students think it is acceptable to kill in the name of Islam. A third of Muslim students interviewed also supported the creation of a world-wide caliphate or Islamic state.

In further British lunacy, there’s been a huge furor over a version of a Barbie doll that’s being released in September to promote a DC Comics superhero named Black Canary. She hangs out with Green Arrow. The dolls will come equipped with fishnets, leather jacket, black gloves and boots. As if the Brits can’t come up with something legitimate to protest, such as the low approval rating of the Prime Minister and all the violent crime I keep reading about, they instead complain about commemorative edition Barbie.

Black Canary Barbie will destroy all of Britain

One religious group, the Christian Voice said, “Barbie has always been on the tarty side and this is taking it too far. A children’s doll in sexually suggestive clothing is irresponsible – it’s filth.” It’s a fuckin’ doll, people. I guess you’d rather see Barbie in a burka and Ken wearing a kaffiyeh?

And then you have poor Gary Crutchley. When Gary started taking pictures of his children playing on an inflatable slide he thought they would be happy reminders of a family day out. However, as he was taking snapshots of his kids Cory and Miles, the woman running the slide at asked him what he was doing and other families waiting in line demanded that he stop. One cow even accused him of photographing kids to put the pictures on the internet, insinuating he was a pedophile.

Mr. Crutchley, 39, who had taken pictures only of his own children, was so enraged that he went and found two policemen, who confirmed he had done nothing wrong.

Crutchley said, ‘What is the world coming to when anybody seen with a camera is assumed to be doing things that they should not? This parental paranoia is getting completely out of hand. I was so shocked. One of the police officers told me that it was just the way society is these days. He agreed with me that it was madness.The children wanted to go on an inflatable slide and I started taking photos of them having a good time. Moments later the woman running the slide told me to stop."

"When I asked why, she told me I could not take pictures of other people’s children. I explained I was only interested in taking photos of my own children and pointed out that this was taking place in a public park. I showed her the photos I had taken to prove my point. Then another woman joined in and said her child was also on the slide and did not want me taking pictures of the youngster. I repeated that the only people being photographed were my own children. She said I could be taking pictures of just any child to put on the internet and called me a pervert. We immediately left…"

Crutchley’s wife Tracey said "I was shocked by the reaction of those women. It is very sad when every man with a camera enjoying a Sunday afternoon out in the park with his children is automatically assumed to be a pervert."

Gary Crutchley, his wife, and two boys

So we have complaints over a tarty Barbie doll and accusations of perversion for taking pictures in a park. This uptight behavior from a nation that features topless women on page three of the Sun tabloid newspaper…think National Enquirer meets USA Today. In fact, I think the tits may be the biggest selling point of the paper.

Quit being so prudish and puritanical and paranoid and focus more on the true threat looming within…if you can bloody well turn off watching Big Brother for five minutes.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Will Teacup Yorkies be the Downfall of Islam?

As usual, I’m slightly ahead of the power curve in reporting how effed-up things are in IslamoLand. Back in March, I reported that a man in Iran had been beaten by Islamic Morals Police thugs for walking his dog, and that the government there considered dogs “impure”. (Read my pearls of wisdom here: (

Well, now the Saudis are getting into the mix, for even stranger reasons. It seems that the Mutaween are concerned that single men are using pets as bait to lure women into immorality, so they want to ban pets. What utter bullshit.

In Riyadh, the capital, Saudi Arabia's Islamic religious police, in their zeal to keep the sexes apart, want to make sure the technique of pets-as-babe-magnet doesn't catch on there. Their solution: Ban selling dogs and cats as pets, as well as walking them in public.

The prohibition went into effect last Wednesday in Riyadh, and authorities in the city say they will strictly enforce it, unlike previous such bans in the cities of Mecca (the holiest of holy cituies) and Jiddah, which have been ignored and failed to stop sales.

Violators found outside with their pets will have their beloved companions confiscated by agents of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the official name of the Mutaween religious police, tasked with enforcing Saudi Arabia's strict Islamic code. After the Olympics, maybe China will buy them?

The commission's general manager, Othman al-Othman, said the ban was ordered because of what he called "the rising of phenomenon of men using cats and dogs to make passes at women and pester families" as well as "violating proper behavior in public squares and malls."

Dude…when’s the last time someone walked a cat on a leash through a shopping mall? Ever try to leash a cat? It’s not a wise move, Othie.

"If a man is caught with a pet, the pet will be immediately confiscated and the man will be forced to sign a document pledging not to repeat the act," al-Othman told the Al-Hayat newspaper. "If he does, he will be referred to authorities." (Those same authorities will no doubt declare an anti-kitty jihad, and strap a bomb to the cat for use as a kittybomb. The owner will then be flogged, stoned, and have a limb severed, ostensibly the limb most used to pet the pet.)

The Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper announced the ban in its Wednesday edition last week, saying it was ordered by the acting governor of Riyadh province, Prince Sattam (Blessed Be His Name, of course), based on an edict from the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars and several religious police reports of pet owners harassing women and families.

C’mon. I’ve watched COPS for almost 20 years. I used to *be* a cop. In all my 39+ years of converting O2 into CO2, I have yet to run into dude harassing single women, let alone entire families, by waving a Cockapoo at them and making lewd suggestions. Sure, I’ve seen guys casually sit on benches with ferrets, yellow Lab puppies, an occasional snake, and maybe once a kinkajou, and girls would walk up to them and coo over the little beasties, but never have I seen the same people harass anyone with the animals. If they were bait, then it was subtle bait, not overt. Maybe the guys in Saudi Arabia haven’t learned subtlety yet?

Commission authorities often do not formally announce to the public new rules that they intend to implement. That way, you can stone and cane dozens to help get the word out, I guess. Officials from the commission and Riyadh city government could not be reached for comment on Thursday, which is a weekend day in Saudi Arabia. The English-language Arab News reported on the ban on Thursday. Wow…Thursday is a weekend day? When do these guys find the time to make billions of dollars? Oh wait, Sunday is a Christian thing…..Saturday’s a Jewish thing……Our weekends are Zionist Infidel days and therefore don’t count.

So far, the new prohibition did not appear to have any effect in Riyadh. It's extremely rare, anyway, to see anyone walking a dog, much less carrying a cat in public, in the capital, despite the authorities' claims of flirtatious young men luring girls with their pets in malls. Salesmen at a couple of Riyadh pet stores on Thursday said they did not receive any official orders from the commission banning the sale of pets. Cats and dogs were still on display.

"I didn't hear of the ban," said Yasser al-Abdullah, a 28-year-old Saudi nurse, who was at one pet store with his 3-month-old collie, Joe. Al-Abdullah, who also owns an 8-month-old Lab, said a couple of Western friends had been told to get off the streets by the religious police for walking their dogs. But of course. Harass the Western Infidels.

"I won't allow the commission to take my dogs from me," he said. Brave words, dude. Good luck.

The religious police prowl streets and malls throughout the kingdom, ensuring unmarried men and women do not mix, confronting women they feel are not properly covered or urging men to go to prayers. They also often make attempts to plug the few holes in the strict gender segregation that innovations bring. In 2004, they tried to ban cameras on cell phones, fearing that men and women would exchange pictures of each other, though the prohibition was quickly revoked. Every year, religious police warn against marking Valentine's Day, even trying to prevent people from wearing red clothing on the holiday, which they consider a Western creation that encourages vice. These dudes have WAY too much time on their hands.

There was no word whether commission authorities intend to expand the dog and cat ban beyond the capital. The prohibition may be more of an attempt to simply stop the owning of pets, which uber-conservative Saudi Islamists view as a sign of our insidious corrupt Western Infidel influence, like the fast food joints, shorts, jeans and pop music that have become more common in the kingdom. You’ll gladly take our money, but not anything else?

From what I gather, pet ownership has never been very common in the Arab world, though it is increasingly becoming fashionable among the upper class in Saudi Arabia and other countries such as Egypt. The rich and privileged can act decadently Western, but not the average everyday Achmed on the block.

In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, though they are kept for hunting and guarding. Several breeds originated in Muslim countries, such as the Afghan Hound (Afghanistan), the Pharaoh Hound and Saluki (Egypt), the Sloughi Hound and Aidi (Morocco), and no fewer than twelve breeds from Pakistan. In large cities around the Middle East, stray dogs often wander the streets and are considered pests, the same as in almost any large city.

The ban on cats is more unusual, since there's no similar disdain for them in Islamic tradition. Cats are everywhere in ancient Egyptian art, although much of that predates Islam’s arrival. One of the Prophet Mohammed's closest companions was given the name Abu Huraira, Arabic for "the father of the kitten," because he always carried a kitten around with him and took care of it.

A number of hadithas, traditional stories of the Mohammed, show him encouraging people to treat cats well. Once, according to legend, he let a cat drink from the water that he was going to use for his ablutions before prayers.

So, contrary to public desires and modern sensibility, the clerics of Islam continue to keep the Muslim people locked in the Dark Ages out of zealotry. I wonder how the Brits will take to the curbing of pet walking and ownership once they start allowing more and more Sharia Law and Wahabism and Islamist control take a foothold in the United Kingdom.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Members Only: WingWang for the YinYang

As I wrote last week, the Chinese government has taken dog meat off the menus at the 112 or so officially-sanctioned Olympic hotels and at other Olympic-related venues and restaurants during the course of the upcoming games. However, you can still get Okay. I’ve eaten some unusual things in my day, or things that some people might find unusual. I mean, some folks are just simple meat and potatoes types, and wouldn’t dream of nibbling on gator tails, escargot, shark steaks, baby octopus, fried squid, moose steaks, deer roasts, or flying fish eggs on sushi. But despite having once tried Rocky Mountain Oysters (breaded & fried bull testicles) even I have to draw the line at the fare served at a restaurant called Guolizhuang. Situated in an elegantly restored house beside Beijing's West Lake, it is China's first speciality penis restaurant. Yeah; you read that right. Penis.

The locals refer to it as a petrol station for men and a beauty parlor for women, so devoutly do they believe in the health-giving properties of animal genitals. The Guolizhuang penis restaurant, which has now expanded to five franchises after opening in the capital three years ago, offers such delights as lobster with donkey penis, horse penis and testicles with chili dip, and the rather expensive Canadian seal penis, which costs over $500.00 and has to be ordered in advance. Banquets can cost from 2000 yuan to 100,000 yuan for tables of 10-12 diners, ($293.00 to $14,600.00) but set menus featuring penis hotpot and several other dishes start from just 200 yuan per person ($30.00).

Reports I’ve read from Western tourists who have eaten there have said that most of the dishes were somewhat bland and chewy, made more edible by the accompanying sauces. I myself would rather just have the lobster and the chili dip. As the owner of a penis, I just can’t bring myself to want to eat one. And I’m saddened enough by seals being clubbed to death for their skins and then left to rot, so I’m not all that cool with killing one just to emasculate it for Saturday’s supper. And yes, I’m a hypocrite because I’m okay with people killing pigs, cows, chickens, etc for my meals. And while I admittedly once ate bull testicles, at least it still was left alive and with something to pee through.

A booking at Guolizhuang comes with a trained waitress and a nutritionist to explain the menu and its medicinal virtues and health benefits and which dishes are best avoided by female diners due to testosterone levels. And as with so many things in Chinese medicine that costs animals their genitalia, like tigers and cobras, nutritionist Zhu Yan said the clients were mainly men eager to improve their yang, or virility. A little wang for the yang, I guess.

Sorry, guys. I’ll just stick to my General Tso’s Chicken and some Crab Rangoons, thanks. No penis shall pass my lips; I’ll have to pass on the peckers.

Way to go, Jon Voight

This week, Academy Award-winning actor and noted humanitarian activist Jon Voight, father of noted baby collector Angelina Jolie, had an op-ed piece published in the Washington Times. I wish more of the big names in Hollywood would stand up for conservatism instead of liberal tree-huggery and socialism. Here’s his op-ed, taken from the Times’ website”

“We, as parents, are well aware of the importance of our teachers who teach and program our children. We also know how important it is for our children to play with good-thinking children growing up.

Senator Barack Obama has grown up with the teaching of very angry, militant white and black people: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, William Ayers and Rev. Michael Pfleger. We cannot say we are not affected by teachers who are militant and angry. We know too well that we become like them, and Mr. Obama will run this country in their mindset.

The Democratic Party, in its quest for power, has managed a propaganda campaign with subliminal messages, creating a God-like figure in a man who falls short in every way. It seems to me that if Mr. Obama wins the presidential election, then Messrs. Farrakhan, Wright, Ayers and Pfleger will gain power for their need to demoralize this country and help create a socialist America.

The Democrats have targeted young people, knowing how easy it is to bring forth whatever is needed to program their minds. I know this process well. I was caught up in the hysteria during the Vietnam era, which was brought about through Marxist propaganda underlying the so-called peace movement. The radicals of that era were successful in giving the communists power to bring forth the killing fields and slaughter 2.5 million people in Cambodia and South Vietnam. Did they stop the war, or did they bring the war to those innocent people? In the end, they turned their backs on all the horror and suffering they helped create and walked away.

Those same leaders who were in the streets in the '60s are very powerful today in their work to bring down the Iraq war and to attack our president, and they have found their way into our schools. William Ayers is a good example of that.
Thank God, today, we have a strong generation of young soldiers who know exactly who they are and what they must do to protect our freedom and our democracy. And we have the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus, who has brought hope and stability to Iraq and prevented the terrorists from establishing a base in that country. Our soldiers are lifting us to an example of patriotism at a time when we've almost forgotten who we are and what is at stake.

If Mr. Obama had his way, he would have pulled our troops from Iraq years ago and initiated an unprecedented bloodbath, turning over that country to the barbarianism of our enemies. With what he has openly stated about his plans for our military, and his lack of understanding about the true nature of our enemies, there's not a cell in my body that can accept the idea that Mr. Obama can keep us safe from the terrorists around the world, and from Iran, which is making great strides toward getting the atomic bomb. And while a misleading portrait of Mr. Obama is being perpetrated by a media controlled by the Democrats, the Obama camp has sent out people to attack the greatness of Sen. John McCain, whose suffering and courage in a Hanoi prison camp is an American legend.

General Wesley Clark, who himself has shame upon him, having been relieved of his command, has done their bidding and become a lying fool in his need to demean a fellow soldier and a true hero.

This is a perilous time, and more than ever, the world needs a united and strong America. If, God forbid, we live to see Mr. Obama president, we will live through a socialist era that America has not seen before, and our country will be weakened in every way. “