Sunday, March 30, 2008

i wish it would rain

i’m not sure when it happened.

i remember being 25 years old and not being able to cry. i remember a specific moment in my life when i thought, "other people cry. i see them. but i don’t. i never do.

i never cry."

i didn’t know why. "i must be stopped-up somehow," i thought. stuck. like an old drain that needs un-clogging. someday the dam will burst and all that crying, all those tears, will just come pouring out.

i’m not exactly sure when it happened, but somewhere in my late thirties i started crying. and i haven’t stopped to this day.

now it happens at the drop of a hat, with little to no warning. music is usually the trigger for me: a sweet, simple song; an old tune that no one else quite remembers; or something new but with the right something-or-other to just reach in and - what did i say once? reach in and grab my heart, rip it out of my chest and hold it in front of me so i can actually see it beating. “just in case you forgot this sloppy, living, bloody thing was here, take a good look. it’s beating away - pa-boom, pa-boom, pa-boom - non-stop, until…well. until.”

if i don’t consciously stop the tears from coming, i can just sob. i can sob with the best of them. every now and then i hear my mother’s crying in my own. when it first happened, it scared me. stopped me in my tracks. i was immediately a young boy, lying in bed, wondering what that terrible sound was - then realizing it was my mother crying in the family room. it doesn't scare me anymore. now, in some strange way, it’s a comfort. hearing her crying in my own.

rarely is it a sad thing. it’s not saying goodbye, heartache. sometimes, sure. but more often than not, it’s a good thing. something sweet and joyous and life-affirming.

and sometimes i think, "i wish those young people knew what i was crying about. i wish they had some idea. i wish they could feel the joy and the pain and the strength and the fear all at once, just like this. i wish they knew."

and then i remember…they will.
one day, they will.

(photo by my friend marlene handrahan)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

how long?

WASHINGTON — President Bush, saying that "normalcy is returning back to Iraq," argued Thursday that last year's U.S. troop "surge" has improved Iraq's security to the point where political and economic progress are blossoming as well.
-- mcclatchey newspapers, march 27, 2008
BAGHDAD — The American military conducted airstrikes Thursday and Friday to back up stalled Iraqi forces in Basra and battle Shiite militias in Baghdad as continued violence and political infighting worsened the prospects for any timely reconciliation among Iraq’s warring factions.
-- new york times, march 29, 2008

how long before someone blames the democrats for the recent bad news coming from iraq?

more americans please

john mccain: the american president americans living in america have been waiting in america for. born in panama.

as opposed to that eloquent but empty, possibly non-american black guy with the definitely non-american name and the america-hating pastor.

oh, and the bitch.

Friday, March 28, 2008

live-blogging "the view"

10:00 a.m.

this may only last for five minutes, but i'm going to attempt to live-blog barack obama on "the view".

barbara is on today. she wouldn't miss this.

the girls get right to it. they're talking about a hotel in bum-fark-someplace-or-other that is taking the bible out of hotel room drawers. they offer a "menu" of books of faith. you can call down to the front desk and get a koran with your bacon and eggs. "the gideon and the benedict please."

okay, let's talk about reverend wright. something's got elisabeth going...surprise. wright called italians garlic nosed. elisabeth is offended for italians. she's so compassionate.

barbara rightly says we're not talking about religion, like kennedy. we're talking about offensive, bigoted comments. "if i went to my church or a temple where my preacher was teaching children, and he said terrible things about italians or jews, i would feel i'd have to say..." aaand she didn't get to finish that thought. another surprise.

joy behar laughs off the garlic nose line. "if i didn't have garlic in my diet, i wouldn't have this complexion!"

10:13 a.m.

back from commercial. whoopi and the girls are was getting a banana and i missed it. greeting cards to prisoners? from prisoners? barbara says prisoners want quarters to buy sandwiches. huh?

some new book about women lying as a survival technique. they lie about shopping and cosmetic surgery and their husband's job. zzzzzzz...this coffee is good. alterra in milwaukee. alterra was recently chosen one of the ten best coffee houses in the country. and it's cheap. two days ago i got a pound of coffee, a bran muffin, and a fresh cup for less than $11. i think that would have cost about $50 at starbucks.

oh. another commercial.

10:23 a.m.

i think marie osmond looks fantastic. she had sort of ballooned up there, and now she's back to her fighting weight. bring it on, donny.

okay. here comes obama. i love hearing barbara walters say "bawack obama".

"you got some fancy folks in the audience there," he says. what the hell does that mean, barry? is that a gay slur?

only certain men can cross their legs so tightly and not look girly. barack obama is not one.

joy. "you're related to brad pitt?" distant cousins, says barack. barbara thinks barack is sexy. i'm imagining her wearing a pink slip, standing in the moonlight, moaning "ohhhhhh...bawack."

barbara asks obama the difference between his remarks on don imus (he should be fired) and reverend wright. obama says that wright has retired, so it's not the same. why doesn't someone ask about the 20 years obama was in his church when he wasn't retired?

he's definitly not backing away from wright here. "i'm not vetting my pastor," he says. the offensive comments are not just about race, they're about america. obama says wright grew up in the 50's and doesn't realize how america has changed. huh.

barbara asks the not retired question. barack says had wright not retired, he would have left the church. or thought about leaving. or something to that effect.

elisabeth says after obama's speech at the democratic convention she was one republican ready to "give him a shot." (hmm. is she talking jager? or basic instinct?) but now, the person he chose time and time again was this inflammatory pastor. don't you show a lack of judgement here? obama says this is a snippet of a man. how would you feel if we compiled a loop of the five stupidest things you've ever said and played them over and over again, he wants to know.

could we do that with sherri shephard? she's not sure if the earth is flat...

sigh. we're still talking about reverend wright. jeeze. hey! whoopi finally said something.


10:38 a.m.

whoopi speaks. "here's a question i ask every presidential candidate who's on the program: what are the first three things you would do as president?"

1. "responsibly and honorably begin withdrawal from iraq." the careful getting out / careless going in line. (good god change that tired old line!)

2. "i wanna put forward legislation that would give every american health care." notice this wording: i wanna put forward legislation. you know, i wanna do a lot of things that i never get to do. go on a safari. have tea with elton john. stuff like that.

talking talking talking...

3. "i really think we've got to deal with our energy crisis." well, that's specific. the third thing you wanna do as president is that vague? ehhhhhh. what about the ecomony? ohh wait...there it is, in a tag line.

behar asks about kerry and swiftboating. "how tough are ya?"

"i'm skinny, but i'm tough. the way i like to handle attacks is to answer honestly, swiftly, forcefully and truthfully." truthfully is different than honestly how? take the high road he says. but kerry took the high road, didn't he?

michelle obama. will she sit in on cabinet meetings? no. she want's to be a good parent and find projects. like, arts and crafts projects? we did a great one with macaroni and a paper plate and finger paints...


10:48 a.m.

sherri is asking about hillary. how do you feel about how dirty the race has gotten? obama says it's the supporters, not the candidates. "hillary was my friend before, she'll be my friend after. once we're all done, the democrats will come together. in the same way that after i beat john mccain, i will bring the country together." good line. got a nice laugh. i wonder if it's true.

we have so much more in common than what drives us apart, he says. this is why i could vote for him. i think he believes that, it's not just a line.

what do i have in common with elisabeth hasselbutt? we both have blond hair. dyed. we both look good in blue. i wonder how she feels about frozen custard? eh. i probably have custard in common with sherri.

now barbara has her hand on barack's leg, telling him "we have to close out the show." her hand lingers there. a bit too long. there's a little squeeze of the knee. she smiles. this is absolutely a pass. she did the same thing to kissinger, and from what i hear, he took her up on the offer.

show's over. except for the wrap-up. which. well...i'm surprised i lasted this long.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

am i over the hill?

"Being in politics is like driving a car. If you wanna go forward you put it in D. If you wanna go backward, you put it in R."
-- hillary clinton in a campaign speech in raleigh, north carolina.

she's giving the sixth grade teacher speech. it's anecdotal, and a little sing-songy, but she sounds better close to the mic, talking, than she does in a huge gymnasium having to yell. it's the yelling hillary my dad doesn't like. and ultimately, this is the strong, smart woman i could vote for.

but what was all that bosnia crap? why lie about something that in the end is part of your foreign policy experience? you were a first lady, in a war zone, greeting soldiers in bosnia. the mission you were on was successful. there was no need for the corkscrew landing or the sniper fire or the running across the tarmac. i mean, if you're gonna embellish, why not go all the way? you were taken hostage by the army of republika srpska and kept in a spiderhole for a weeks where twice a day you were allowed only a vitamin c pill, a maple rice cake, and a diet tab! don't you think clinton was aware there was video of this somewhere? how embarrassing to be called out by sinbad! none of it makes sense to me.

i swear the folks at fox news are much less critical of clinton than they are of barack obama. (they've taken the reverend wright issue to new lows, and i thought greta van susteren was gonna french hillary during last night's exclusive interview.) i get the feeling that they would much rather see a mccain-clinton race in the fall.

and what does that tell you?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

maybe she should be president

chelsea clinton, answering the final question during a campaign event for her mother, at butler university in indianapolis. the question was whether her father's tryst with monica lewinsky had damaged her mother's credibility:
"Wow, you're the first person actually that's ever asked me that question in the, I don't know maybe, 70 college campuses I've now been to, and I do not think that's any of your business."

(raucous applause, after which, clinton continued...)

"And I also don't think that should be the last question."
she took one more question, and concluded the event.

throwing up in my mouth a little

while sitting and answering emails this morning, in all the noise coming from the big black box in the corner of the room, i've heard msnbc anchor monica novotny mention "the blue dress" twice in the last five minutes. first to former presidential candidate gary hart, then to dan parker, chairman of the indiana democratic party (i think.) if you don't know what this refers to, i'm not gonna tell you.

earlier, there was a breaking news report about britney spears' performance last night on "your mother's a car" or "how i drove your mother" or whatever it's called. some sitcom. seriously, they stopped talking about the shipment of non-nuclear missile parts to taiwan to talk about britney spears as an actress.

these people should be working in a casino. in kenosha.

now we're talking about a 26 pound cat in rhode island.
(just a reminder: 4000 dead soldiers.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

four thousand

four thousand. 4000. the associated press is reporting a roadside bomb killed four u.s. soldiers in baghdad today, bringing the total of u.s. military casualties in iraq to four thousand.

here's my question: who cares?

why should we care if four more soldiers died? lots of us haven't seemed to care much about those other 3,996, what's another four? i'm sure those four families knew this was a possibility, right? we'll never have to see their flag draped coffins, so we can continue talking about how bill clinton is joe mccarthy, or how barack obama's pastor hates america (p.s. hating america is so 2006.)

as i write this, surpassing the big 4000 is still the third story on the new york times website (behind more eliot spitzer news, and 13 dead iraqis.) cable news media has shifted it's coverage of the iraq war too: a year ago it accounted for 24% of their programming. this year, only 1%. (in the last fifteen weeks, only four minutes per week!)

so let's keep those troops over there for another hundred years! as long as we don't have to think about it, there's no draft, and our kids or brothers or nieces or nephews don't have to go -- hey, let's party!

you know, maybe this is the true turning point in the war. remember the others? the death of saddam's sons, the capture of saddam, the taking of fallujah, the death of zarqawi, blah-blah-blah, zarquawi-schmarqawi, they were all turning points, right?

well, maybe reaching 4000 dead soldiers is the turning point we've all been waiting for. maybe now -- finally -- we can let go of our war guilt and let those darn soldiers fight and die without it interrupting our day! i mean, i can't watch american idol while i'm thinking about IEDs!

the best response of all to 4000 dead soldiers, i think, would be to quote the vice president: so?

lots of the numbers and figures here (as well as entire sentences!) were taken directly from wnyc's on the media: 5 years of covering iraq. give it a listen. and if you haven't forgotten we're a nation at war:

Friday, March 21, 2008

what we leave

a photograph taken by janice stiefel -- one of nearly 800 amazing photos of moths, caterpillars, butterflies, spiders, and other insects she posted at (a website dedicated to the identification and natural histories of insects, spiders, and their kin.)

janice passed away earlier this week. her daughter kay has been a dear friend of mine for years.

janice was, among other things, a nature photographer, speaker, writer, naturalist, researcher, and entomologist. you can see all of her photos here. this is pandorus sphinx moth larva - eumorpha pandorus.

massive quantities

it's snowing in wisconsin. it's been snowing all day. it's gonna keep snowing. and you gotta love this, from the national weather service:
"storm totals of 12 to 18 inches are expected around the milwaukee metro area, with isolated higher amounts possible."
aaand...welcome home.

as of 5 p.m. there were over 220 plows trying to clear the streets, mitchell international airport is closed, and play practice at first stage milwaukee was called off. more importantly, friday fish fries around the city have been cancelled.

and if those snowfall projections hold, this could be the second snowiest winter in milwaukee history, with a total of over 94 inches for the season.

by the way, right now that season is spring.

UPDATE 3/22/08 --
it's official. 95.4 inches.

making weasels squirm

hard to believe i'm linking to this video (via talking points memo) from the fox news morning show "fox and friends." i can't quite bring myself to actually post it here, but you should see it so you can watch chris wallace, fox super-weasel, attempt to be sort of non-weasely.

the best part isn't wallace though. it's the stunned reaction of the other weasels who host the show. it's like whiny little, snot-nosed peasant weasels being scolded by the weasel king. and the weasel king doesn't back down.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

really hard words

in an interview on cnn tonight, barack obama said, “in this country, we’ve begun to use patriotism as a cudgel…” and I thought, does george w. bush even know what a cudgel is?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

andrew, mike, heather and hillary

today, andrew sullivan nominated mike huckabee for an infamous yglesias award (for writers, politicians, columnists or pundits who actually criticize their own side, make enemies among political allies, and generally risk something for the sake of saying what they believe.)

referring to the obama / wright issue on msnbc this morning, huckabee said, among other things: “[y]ou can't hold the candidate responsible for everything that people around him may say or do.” i don't heart huckabees, but that’s pretty good talk for a righty.

moments later, sullivan posts a video showing his girlfriend hillary clinton praising beatle gold-digger heather mills and the work she’s done for charity. (much of the video is about the adopt-a-minefield program, mills’ support of it, and clinton’s own work to authorize assistance to landmine victims.) sullivan then quotes the judge from the mccartney / mills divorce case, who basically says mills was “less than candid” “inconsistent” and “less than impressive” during the trial proceedings (i.e. she lied, she lied inconsistently, and she did it poorly.)

so, despite the work she's done for charity, mills has since acted like a stupid moneygrubbing bitch, and clinton is an idiot for supporting her before she acted like a stupid moneygrubbing bitch. but, we shouldn’t hold candidates responsible for the things people around them say or do.

unless, of course, her name is hillary clinton.

pardon me while i have a strange interlude

i guess it was my dad who introduced me to the marx brothers. i can't remember a time when i wasn't a fan, even as a kid. they came up today in rehearsal, and once i got home and heard all the loudmouths talking about obama's speech, i decided a little groucho and margaret dumont was in order. here's one of my favorites, from "animal crackers."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the old woke tree

tony orlando has released a statement announcing a lyric change in the old standard tie a yellow ribbon. the new lyrics are "woh-tie a yellow ribbon round the old woke tree."

encourage positive spin

here's something that bugs me about the online community and comment sections. this is a comment from dailykos, posted moments ago, regarding obama's speech today:
"Please make quality and tasteful comments on non liberal websites now, and let our positive feedback encourge positive spin on this great speech."
as opposed to an honest and sincere discussion. this seems calculated and underhanded to me. let the discussion begin, yes. and if you have something to say to a community you're not usually a part of, go ahead. but to do it because you feel strongly about it, not because you were told to, in order to influence "spin". that's bullshit.

Monday, March 17, 2008

elton and hillary - live and in concert!

elton john has kicked billy joel to the curb and replaced him with hillary clinton.

tickets for the april 9th radio city concert "elton and hillary: one night only" go on sale this wednesday at 9 a.m. edt. second tier prices start at $125 for mezzanine seats and $250 for seats near the orchestra. (premium seats will go for $500, $1000, and $2300.)

"i'm not a politician but i believe in the work that hillary clinton does," elton said, right before he bitch-slapped chelsea clinton for wearing the same versace pantsuit he had on, and looking better in it. "i'm not a singer," said hillary clinton, "but candle in the wind is my karaoke jam!"

a set list leaked to the press includes a guest appearance by bill clinton singing rocket man, hillary singing a new "iraq war vote" version of sorry seems to be the hardest word, a bill/hillary duet on don't go breakin' my heart and a special hillary "long-distance dedication" to the states of ohio and texas -- someone saved my life tonight.

no word yet whether elton will ask senator clinton to join him singing (say it with me) the bitch is back!

torture makes you love america!

from john mccain's appearance tonight on hannity's america (i watch so you won't have to.) first, about his pledge to eliminate earmarks:
"there's $35 billion in earmark projects in the last two big appropriations bills. that could have been a $1,000 tax credit for every child in america."
how big would those tax credits be if we hadn't gone to war in iraq?

and this, regarding mccain's time as a prisoner of war. hannity asked what effect two years in solitary confinement has on a someone. mccain's response:
"i think it makes you a better person. obviously, it makes you love america."
i'm not sure what to make of that. honestly.

i must say however, that hannity goaded and egged mccain on about every possible obama / clinton controversy. mccain handled pretty much every one with respect.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

judgement and experience

they're trying to make this the issue. every sunday show is talking about it. obama and reverend wright. "the man baptized obama's children, married obama and his wife." the question "what do you think this says about barack obama's judgement" is being asked over and over and over again.

all of it is cloaked in the warmth and sweetness of "how can you not like obama? he's charming, he's a different kind of politician." those words are said just before "but we don't really know him, do we?"

the more this country is fed that line, the more the question of his judgement is asked, the more obama will be dragged down. (for the record, i'm not asking it here.)

but this is the where the question of experience comes in, for me. it's not just a question of who's ready to answer that phone at 3 a.m. it's about who is ready to take on these kinds of attacks. will obama's handling of this issue be enough? and in time?

UPDATE 10:58 p.m. -- clinton supporter rep. nita lowey (D-NY), this morning on meet the press:
"i think we should just accept what
barack obama has said and move on."
granted, clinton doesn't need to be taking advantage of this story. the old rule of politics is when your opponent's campaign is self-imploding, stand back and watch. but one could easily imagine the clinton campaign (like many of her online supporters) seeing the reverend wright controversy and thinking, "carpe' diem!"

UPDATE 3/17/08 -- okay, maybe i nodded off during the first part of the program.

it feels so real

sometimes there's nothing. and that's okay. and you need one of those songs. one of those songs that fills you up, and reminds you you're real.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

isn't it romantic

"I must say, I'm a little envious. If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed. It must be exciting for you…in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks."
a quote from united states president george w. bush, via video conference with military and civilian leaders in afghanistan about the challenges of war.

i guess vietnam wasn't quite so romantic.

obama on wright

"i would not repudiate the man. as i said this is somebody i have known for seventeen years, who helped bring me to jesus."
barack obama tonight, in one of several interviews on the subject of his chicago pastor jeremiah wright, jr. soundbites of wright's sermons and news about paris hilton's new reality show are running on a loop at cnn, msnbc, etc.

what was fascinating to me about this interview was that obama spoke only about his pastor, himself, and how this will be used as political fodder. he never once attempted to drag in another candidate. there was no "look, hillary this" or "john mccain that." he spoke honestly and directly, answered the questions, and stayed on topic.

and in it all, i realized something: i believe him.

even though i still sometimes have the experience question in the back of my mind, i don't ever listen to obama through that "i don't quite trust you" filter. i'm not sure i can say the same about the other candidates, or any recent candidate for that matter.

Friday, March 14, 2008

check your briefs

hillary clinton doesn't know what it's like to be a black man in america!

that news flash from barack obama's "controversial" chicago pastor rev. jeremiah wright jr. i'm guessing it's probably true. unless...remember the eddie murphy sketch from the old saturday night live, when with extensive make-up he "became" a white man? maybe clinton's already done that! maybe she's become a smart, black woman (or man, for that matter!) gone out there and tried to get a car loan!

first of all, if you took the text one of wright's sermons and put it in the mouth of a "calmer" white man, would anyone be discussing it? would anyone notice? and aren't they topics we should be discussing?

and why is the wright stuff back out there? these are comments made quite some time ago, and suddenly they're being covered like breaking news on all the media outlets. "will barack distance himself from these remarks?" hasn't he already?

five severed fingers have been delivered in iraq.

they belong to five prisoners / hostages in iraq. four u.s. security contractors, and one austrian. apparently receiving fingers in the mail is proof that a hostage is alive. (couldn't you chop fingers off a dead hostage?) maybe this horrible express mail package will remind us that we're still at war, and we're closing in quickly on 4000 men and women killed in iraq. are any of us even aware that these five hostages have been in captivity for more than a year?

the iraqis can deliver severed fingers correctly, but my omaha steaks consistently get sent to the wrong address.

president bush appears in green and white mini-skirt with pom pons!

he's about to hold a news conference at the economic club in new york, to tell the country (again) that our economy is in good shape! he's going to tell americans to have confidence in the economy! u-rah-rah con-fi-dence! isn't this close to saying "it's your fault our economy is in the tank! you don't have confidence in it!"

as i write this, the dow jones is down 172.50 points, families are in forclosure across the country, the fed may slash interest rates again next week, oil prices have consistently been hitting record highs, and the dollar is at record lows. go-ooooooooooh economy!!

is there anyone else out there that finds it absolutely beyond belief that this man is going to give a speech to the leaders in business, industry, and finance?

"seems like i showed up interesting moment...he-he-he," bush just said, standing at the podium and snickering.

less than 30 seconds into the speech and bush has already mentioned 9/11 and confronting terrorists. he also says that after "natural disasters" like katrina, the economy has bounced back like never before. really? aren't there people still living in the superdome?

UPDATE 3/17/08 -- former federal reserve chariman alan greenspan in today's financial times:
"The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the simple and the difficult

life offers up the most ludicrous, ridiculous situations sometimes.

no. often.

i’m supposed to be in milwaukee right now, directing “a year with frog and toad” for a great theater company called first stage milwaukee. at the “meet and greet” today i had very little to say, except that one of the things i love most about the original “frog and toad” stories by arnold lobel is how beautifully simple they are.

in the midst of that simplicity comes the difficulty of life.

instead of listening to a wonderful group of actors, young and old, learn and sing the music from the show (which is what i was doing an hour ago) i’m flying home to new york to see my partner rob, and spend a final evening with our dog reggie.

rob called me at 5:00 a.m. last sunday morning to say reggie had lost the use of his back legs, and couldn’t stand up. reggie has had health issues since we moved to new york, but nothing insurmountable. until now.

reggie has been with me since he was eight weeks old. in dog years, he’s now 92. when i went on tour with “mamma mia,” reggie joined me, traveling the country, living in hotels, and seeing more of the world than most human beings ever get to see.

he’s been lucky enough to have had three dads. steve, his first dad, died when reggie was just over a year old. rob’s been his dad since 2000. and me.

reggie and i have been through more together than most people i know. in terms of time, my relationship with reggie is surpassed only by my relationship with my mom and dad. i’ve put him through some tough times. and he’s put me through some too.

reggie’s also been unbelievably lucky to have an extended family like no other. so many people have taken care of him, loved him, stayed with him. picked up his poop. i wish i could name them all, but i know i’d forget that one person, and i don’t want to do that.

in the end, it was rob who carried him down the stairs of our fourth floor walk up, to our friends tim and michael’s waiting car, to take him to the dog hospital, where he’s been for the last two days. reggie couldn’t ask for a better dad than rob. rob has been the one in the thick of things, not only now, but many, many other times. cleaning up. taking care. of reggie, and me.

i’ve said goodbye to my fair share of people in life. my grandma clements. my friend lou hammer. steve. my mom.

this is so, so different. anyone who’s been there knows. anyone who has only looked in from the outside has no idea. none. losing him is like nothing i’ve ever experienced. he’s been my buddy, and my pal. and my good ol’ reggie. and i’ll miss him every day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

i buried paul

at the end of the beatles' "strawberry fields forever" john lennon mumbles something nearly inaudible. lennon claimed to have said, "cran...berry...sauce" but fans who listen to the recording over and over again claim to hear him say "i...buried...paul." this all came in the midst of the "paul is dead" rumors and, for beatles fans, was just another piece of the puzzle. paul mccartney was dead and the remaining beatles were trying to tell us.

when you listen closely, you hear whatever it is you want to hear. if you listen for "cranberry sauce," there's no mistaking it. if you have "paul is dead" in your mind, well, there it is.

this, to me, is a perfect example of people going over the edge. spending too much time mired in all the talk. staying too long at the fair.

hillary clinton's "3 a.m. / red phone" ad has garnered tons of attention. you can watch it here. barack obama responded to it immediately with his own version (here.) it's been talked about and discussed and debated over and over again. one of the sleeping girls from the stock footage used in the ad is now an obama supporter, a fact that every cable news channel will tell you a zillion times a day.

the ad was even lampooned on saturday night live, in a sketch that both clinton and obama supporters are claiming shows their candidate as the strong one. (in the sketch, a president obama is the one making the 3 a.m. phone call -- to clinton, to ask for her help. that would seem to show clinton as the smart one, the strong leader. except the whole premise is that it's a clinton produced political ad, with hillary herself saying "i approved this unfair and deceptive message.")

now, according to orlando patterson, it's a racist ad. in his op-ed column in the new york times today he says:
"The danger implicit in the phone ad — as I see it — is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat."
patterson goes on to say that this implicit racism could have been easily removed, had the children or the parents in the ad been black. instead, we first see a snoozing blond girl. the second two children, according to patterson, are "vaguely latino." i actually have several friends who are vaguely latino, so i know what he's talking about.

patterson goes on:
"Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous — and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within."
what's apparent to me, is that this is patterson's "i buried paul" moment:
"I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad’s central image — innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger — it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn’t help but think of D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society."
sheesh. now we're linking clinton with the klan. is this the backlash from the "obama is a muslim" nonsense?

look, i'm all about subliminal messages. you haven't noticed, but there are plenty of them hidden in this blog (aren't you craving a goo-covered apple fritter? see.) but sometimes i think we all get a little too close to that "i've gone a little crazy" line, you know?

and sometimes we pole-vault right over it.
UPDATE 1:39 p.m. -- huh. turns out one of the kids in the ad is african-american. oops!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

it's film strip day!

one of my favorite parts of graded school -- besides the day our third grade gym teacher mrs. brabazon played an ethel merman record and taught us about lip-syncing (and i wish i was kidding) -- was film strip day.

i remember walking into a classroom, seeing the projector that had been hauled out of the audio/visual closet, and feeling that incredible rush of geeky excitement. always one to think ahead, on the first day of a class i would do my best to finagle a desk in the middle of the room, just to the left. this was the spot where the projector would eventually be set up, and whatever kid sat in that seat was given the enormous resposiblity of operating the clicker.

the clicker was the button that advanced the projected images from inside the machine. i prided myself on my clicker skills -- being able to perfectly anticipate the loud tone from the accompanying record, indicating you should move ahead to the next image. my clicks were always perfectly timed. if they were the slightest bit off, i would punish myself for the rest of the day -- no cherry torte on my lunch tray, no "donny and marie show" on friday. the frustration of a pat meyers or a ronnie shilling operating the clicker was enough to send me over the edge. (they would inevitably be one or sometimes two clicks behind, requiring me to flail and shout "click the clicker! click the clicker!")

film strips gave way to educational films, like this one. i don't remember this particular film from those days. we may have watched it. it's already had over 13,000,000 views on youtube. i figured a few more couldn't hurt.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

the red phone endorsement

the little girl in hillary clinton's notorious "3 a.m. / red phone" ad -- the girl who is sleeping comfortably under the covers while a phone in the white house is ringing off the hook, the girl we know could easily be snatched from her bed, taken to an undisclosed location outside buffalo, immediately shackled into stress positions, hooded, and forced to listen to jody whatley music at unbearable levels for 24-48 hours...yeah, that girl -- well, she's 17 now (those sleeping girl images were from her childhood.) and the breaking news is: she supports barack obama.

on a similar note, this pork and beans boy supported mike huckabee, the shake-n-bake "and i helped" girl actually is cindy mccain, and all of the "i am stuck on band-aid and band-aid's stuck on me" kids have created a 527 group to produce universal health care attack ads for hillary.

and perhaps not surprisingly, anyone ever involved in a "you got your chocolate in my peanut got your peanut butter in my chocolate!" ad is supporting a clinton/obama ticket.

Friday, March 7, 2008

the back of the bimbo bus

republican "strategist" (do the quote thing with me!) kellyanne somebody-or-other (alright, conway) guested on larry king tonight and spoke about hillary clinton and barack obama being engaged in a "knife fight" that shows neither have the dignity nor the maturity to be president of the united states (as opposed to the current tap dancing monkey.)

to follow that gem, kellyanne said hillary is currently busy trying to decide if barack obama is "good enough to sit in the back of the bus" of her presidential ticket.

102 year old larry king didn't hear kellyanne and it took guest jamal simmons (the only african american to be on larry king since sammy davis jr. died*) to speak up and call her out. "larry, we have to address that. we have to address that. this back of the bus comment is beyond the pale." simmons argued. the thrilling back and forth continued for a few seconds before someone kicked larry under the desk and he woke up.

"who said...? did you use the term 'back of the bus'?" larry mumbled.

"i did, i just said -- " kellyanne said proudly.

"meaning?" larry asked, because he'd never heard the phrase before.

eventually kellyanne whined, "your missing the whole metaphor," (sounding like a cross between a sleepy paula abdul, elle woods, and one of "the hills" girls.) then kellyanne rolled her eyes and shook her head at the silly black person (the way highly intelligent people do when they can't get their point across any other way.)

*as michael jackson's sister, janet jackson by default doesn't count.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"i'm no different than any other kid"

this last tuesday, when brett favre's retirement was announced, people speculated as to why he didn't hold a big splashy press conference to do it.

this afternoon, watching him sit in front of a microphone and open up his heart, not just with tears running down his face, but at times literally sobbing, a person could see why he might have chosen to delay something like this. how you could watch brett say goodbye and not cry along with him, i don't know:
"it's been everything i thought it would be, and then some. it's hard to think you're prepared for it. i've given everything i can possibly give and i don't think i have anything left. i know i can play, but i don't think i want to. and that's what it comes down to."
to my nephew brenton: take great notice of this man. this is what humility is. this is what sincerity is. this is what heart is all about.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

i don't remember johnson

lyndon johnson. i don't remember him. (in november of 1963 i was nine months old, so i definitely don't remember john f. kennedy.) i don't really remember richard nixon either, but i remember his resigning from office. i think i remember gerald ford, but i might be remembering chevy chase falling off a ladder and over a desk.

i definitely remember jimmy carter. i remember thinking he was much...easier. kinder. someone i could sit down and talk to. he was president during my high school years, so i was beginning to pay a little more attention to politics, national issues. i'd moved beyond things like why cindy and tammy kranz hadn't asked me to build spook houses with the other kids down the road, or where else i could hide those playgirl magazines -- my mom found the three i'd stashed under the mattress and thankfully never asked any questions (until years later.)

ronald reagan. silence = death. but although i felt a great disdain for many of his policies, i could still somehow understand how much of the country saw this man and felt a connection with him. george h.w. bush, i think, was my first foray into serious dislike. didn't believe him, didn't trust him. bill clinton? to quote michelle obama, it was the first time in my life i was really proud of my country. until he was forced to talk about the details of an extramarital affair in front of the nation, which, thank god we heard all that, right? i mean, he did lie, didn't he? but, well...would you rather have a president who lies about a blow job, or a president who lies about torture? (i know. tough choice.)

and now, well.

i just looked at the t.v. screen and saw george w. bush waiting for john mccain to show up at the white house. bush is going to endorse mccain. there W stood, clowning for the press. doing a little tap dance (seriously.)

hate is a strong word. "H is an S word," my friend lauren and i say.

i may sound like sally sunshine but i don't want to hate anyone. still, i can't watch him smirk, or struggle through completing a sentence, or tap dance without feeling it. it's a sick feeling, in the pit of my stomach.

H is definitely an S word. but for me, it might be the only one for W.

let's be proud of the next one.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

grampa stares at the teleprompter

i'm watching john mccain speak to his supporters tonight after winning all four republican primaries, and i'm thinking three things: 1) thank god that nutbag huckabee's speech is finally over; B) how much fun would it be if mccain's dentures fell out right now; and more importantly 3) i've read that mccain truly hates obama and that makes me want obama to be the democratic nominee so i can watch the young whippersnapper kick grampa's ass.

'course it wouldn't be bad to see grampa get his ass kicked
by a girl either, would it?

dear jeff, pt. 3

a letter to my friend jeff ircink, of passion=truth, on this auspicious day.
dear jeff.

march forth.
move forward.
just what our friend brett did today.

i was driving to wisconsin this afternoon, listening to a program on wisconsin public radio and the topic was, of course, brett favre's retirement from professional football. and it got me thinking.

'member how, a while back, i said i thought he was hot? and super? and that he had pretty lips? well...i meant all those things. but there's more. there's an underlying reason he's so hot.

first of all, he had braces as an adult and that's hot. okay, that's out in the open.

it's because even to someone like me, who doesn't pay that much attention to professional football...who, if you look up "fair-weather fan" in the dictionary you see my high school graduation picture...who still doesn't get the whole "down" thing...even to me, brett favre is exactly what you want a sports hero to be. he is old school sports hero.

you could tell just by watching him play. he was playing football because it was so damn much fun. that's the kind of guy i want my nephew to look up to (he does.) heck, it's the kind of guy i want my nephew to be (he will.)

not that favre hasn't had his problems. i mean, i don't remember him being involved in a dog-fighting ring. but drugs? vicodin schmicodin. licked it. booze? licked that too. marriage problems? last i checked, mr. and mrs. favre are still together. (that says as much about her as it does about him, of course.)

i just wanted to tell you that even though i've teased you about your little crush on brett, i totally understand. brett favre's hotness isn't (just) about his looks, or having a killer bod, or the scruff, or...okay sorry.

it's about the kind of man he is, underneath the costume.


and, well, the braces didn't hurt.

talk soon.


p.s. that's a pretty hot picture
of him you've got on your blog.

deliria in elyria

it's about a fourteen hour drive from manhattan to milwaukee. tonight, i made it about halfway -- as far as elyria, ohio. anyone who does a lot of traveling for a living knows how difficult it is to find a good hot meal on the road.

Monday, March 3, 2008

as far as i know

when i read that line this morning, i heard "as far as i know..." meaning "there is more to the answer that i'm not telling you."  

but when you actually hear the line spoken (by hillary clinton) in context (a sixty minutes interview during which steve kroft asked clinton twice if she thought barack obama was muslim) the line is actually "as far as I know."  which, to his credit, is how andrew sullivan posted it last night. 

maybe i'm parsing words here (denouncing and rejecting) or parsing...emphasis.  but there was a distinct difference for me, in reading that line and then hearing clinton say it.

ann althouse actually has a most thorough response to it all.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

the bridge

a quote from texas congressman chet edwards, about his recent endorsement of barack obama. (via kevin cokely, dallas political reporter for the local nbc affiliate.) edwards is a moderate democrat who represents the overwhelmingly republican 17th congressional district in texas (which includes george w. bush's crawford ranch.)

when asked why he endorsed obama over clinton, edwards replied,
"well, if the clintons were the bridge to the 21st century, obama IS the 21st century."

sleepy ol' airedale

a little over 100 years ago, the british police force first enlisted the service of police dogs -- four of them: jim, vic, ben and mick. the dogs accompanied officers patrolling hull docks in yorkshire.

those dogs were airedales.

i just read that the average life span for an airedale is 11.5 years. reggie the dog (excuse me, reggie the gentleman) turned 13 earlier this year.

this old dog may be sleepy right now, but tomorrow he'll be patrolling central park.

good ol' guy.