Thursday, January 31, 2008

okay then, the other debate

"it did take a clinton to clean up after the first bush, and i think it might take a another one to clean up after the second bush."
and with that zinger, hillary clinton brought down the house at the end of act one! rob reiner, diane keaton, and pearce brosnan all loved it. after cnn came back from commercial, wolf gave out the oscar for best supporting actor. (it was a tie! anderson cooper and javier bardem!)

if seeing all those big-time movie stars in the audience made me cringe, what did it do for the unemployed mill worker in north carolina, sitting in his underwear, reclining in a lazyboy, eating cashews and watching his big screen tv? (that was for john edwards.) but seriously...where was streisand sitting?

let me be honest here: tonight i watched these two people agree and (barely) disagree and i kept thinking, "hey, i'd be happy with either one". i still have that obama's-lack-of-experience thing going through my head. but would he inspire us? yup. is she divisive? no doubt. but would she kick some ass? you bet.

and i know it's not going to happen, but tonight is the first time i've seen them together and thought, for real: obama-clinton?

i do want to reiterate something both candidates stressed tonight, and something that made me proud twelve months ago: this year the democratic party will nominate for president either a black man or a woman. republicans can say all they like about these two candidates or their policies. it's a black man and a woman, folks. and that is something that makes me believe in this country, and believe in the democratic party.

and if they ran together and won? well...my head's going to explode.

the debate

tonight's debate begins at about 10:30 p.m. when rob gets home and after the dvr stops recording: do we watch the hour long wrap-up or do we jump right into the first episode of season four?

faster pussycat, thrill, thrill!

i needed a little pick-me-up today. and i got it. now i'm at the mall on a diet pill.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

my buddy mel

i was lucky enough to hear mel tormé in concert twenty-some years ago, at the riverside theater in milwaukee, with my friend tracy. after the concert tracy and i followed mel's black limo to the pfister hotel and watched him go inside.

we fantasized about going in and having a drink with him at the bar. we'd talk about jazz and life and "the christmas song" and judy garland and...well...stuff. we'd be mel's milwaukee buds.

soon, our mothers would be saying things like, "where are you going tonight?" and we'd say "ohh, mel is meeting us for a fish fry at the m&m club," or "mel's taking us polka dancing down to the blue canary," and our mother's would say "you're hanging around this mel guy an awful lot lately," and we'd think "yeah...mel."

we'd celebrate mel's birthday at angelo's piano bar, where he'd come in full disguise -- dark sunglasses and a fake mustache -- and then get up and sing "a foggy day in london town" and blow the place away.

instead, tracy and i watched mel tormé walk into the pfister hotel that night and we sat in the car and giggled and laughed. then we ate crepe's at the magic pan. probably. yes, i was a total geek. ("was?" you might be thinking.)

here's a great example of why i love mel tormé: it's free, it's easy, and man it swings. he was the the best.

the second photo

the media can't stop talking about this photo taken at last night's state of the union speech. (they're not saying much about the speech itself.)

depending on who's telling the story, hillary clinton either crossed the aisle to shake ted kennedy's hand, or kennedy reached out to shake hers, while at the same time barack obama turned away from both of them. one report says missouri senator claire mccaskill (an obama supporter) tapped obama on the shoulder and started a conversation at just the right moment. all this happening not long after kennedy basically railed on clinton in his speech endorsing obama.

much is made of these "moments" and how telling they are. why did obama turn away when hillary was right there? (he hates her?) was hillary the bigger person for approaching kennedy to shake hands? (or did she lean in to him and whisper "i'm gonna be president you son-of-a-bitch"?)

i don't believe half of what the media tells us about these moments. nor are they actually about anything (like, issues that matter to us).

but for my money...it's the second photo that is completley fascinating.

what is kennedy muttering to obama? what is going through obama's mind as he looks at clinton. what's mccaskill thinking? and how aware of it all is clinton? she appears to be generously and graciously working the crowd, but is there more behind it, knowing kennedy and obama are right there?

fascinating!

UPDATE 12:43 -- read all about it. cnn here, msnbc here, abc news here, chicago tribune here, boston globe here, and reuters here.

UPDATE 3/8/08 -- the photos originally accompanying this post have since been changed. the second photo seen here does not show, as clearly as the original, claire mccaskill standing near kennedy and obama. nor does it show as clearly hillary clinton "working the crowd."

Monday, January 28, 2008

ethereal mysticism & the new jfk

steve clemons of the washington note suggests caroline kennedy's endorsement of barack obama:
...promulgates more of the ethereal mysticism
about Obama being the new JFK.
he goes on to say:
JFK, as significant a leader as he was, was a hard core Cold War hawk. He approved the invasion of other nations and approved of regime change as a tool of American foreign policy...Mysticism and gut will not assure our allies, deter our foes, restore confidence among our citizens, or make America regain its unique national and international character again.

all of this jfk talk, i think, has the possibility of turning some voters off. i, for one, would not clean my room when my mother told me to. in fact, if she told me to, i would purposefully put it off.

similarly, i don't like being told who to vote for, or that someone is "the new jfk", or that i should vote for them because stallone, chuck norris, or oprah wants me to. (in fact, oprah's endorsement, for me, is a big negative. shut the hell up oprah, i say.)

we keep yelling at the t.v. during debates and interviews, "talk about the issues!". but they keep on talking about race. and gender. and who got a haircut and who's wearing a pantsuit. and who won the highest percentage of the vote among left-handed, middle-class, latino, union members.

we've been looking for the new jfk longer than i've been looking for the next good elton john record. i've read many regional theater reviews that use the quote "better than broadway!" and my question would be: have these people seen broadway lately? "well, she's no patti lupone," i've heard and i think thank god!

so why does obama need to be jfk? or rfk? or mlk? why not let obama be obama. and let clinton be bartlet. oops...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

i can't restrain myself

a friend forwarded this email to me from his 84-year-old grandmother in akron, oh -- sent to her family in response to one daughter's support of hillary clinton. with my friend's (and his grandmother's) permission, i'm posting it. the daughter's name has been changed.

Will all you Republicans please ignore this message?

It's in response to (an email) from Denise to just me, in support of the candidacy of Senator Hillary Clinton, so I really should respond to just her but I feel so strongly in favor of Barack Obama, I can't restrain myself.

The (New York Times) endorsement of Hillary was a little bit like the endorsement the Akron Beacon Journal gave to Judge Quinn, where they had almost more good to say about Denise and yet endorsed Judge Quinn (a most disastrous endorsement.)

Obama has shown in the short time he was in the Illinois legislature his ability to provide leadership, vision, and true bi-partisanship. His whole life has shown how he would govern. For example, he is pro-choice on the abortion issue. However, when he was on the campaign trail in Illinois, there were some pro-lifers picketing his speech. He stopped to talk with them, in support of their right to picket, (and) suggested there was some reasonable solution to the conflict.

The (Times endorsement) agrees that there is no real gulf between the policies of (Clinton and Obama). And as for knowledge and intellect, they are both brilliant. On the experience side, I give Hillary no edge because much of it has been spurious. She may be able to point to some pieces of legislation she has worked with Republicans on, but she's been fighting them viciously all along.

"It is right now we need someone the caliber of Obama. He shouldn't have to wait his turn."


And the (Times) admits that our country faces huge problems that we can't even foresee (but) my thought is that experience will be of no help, it is character that will count. And I'll take Obama's character over Hillary's any day.

On the character side, the (Times) mentioned the fact that it is not appropriate to make a decision on the basis of wanting to elect the first woman or the first Black and I quote: "The times that false choice has been raised, more often by Mrs. Clinton, have tarnished the campaign." I surely hope Obama is not tempted to stoop to the level of the vicious attacks of Bill on his candidacy. "His story is a fairy tale." Indeed.

And one other card the Times is playing: "She is the one qualified, RIGHT NOW." It is right now we need someone of the caliber of Obama. He shouldn't have to wait his turn.

And, Republicans, again shut your ears--and eyes--because I know you are horrified at the thought, but along with Denise, I will vote for any Democrat nominated--although I will have to hold my nose if it is Edwards.
UPDATE 1/29 -- reader nycvoter responds:
"(Obama) doesn't have to wait his turn...he needs to get more experience...the author may dismiss HRC's experience, but a lot of us supporting her do not."
nycvoter's full response in the comments section.

a gentleman's birthday

reggie the dog is thirteen years old today.

depending on who you ask, that's anywhere from 65 to 91 in dog years. (the old model of seven dog years to our one is outdated.) he's been part of the family since he was eight weeks.

as one of his dad's, i'm never so proud as when we're on a walk or at the park and another dog owner asks his age, the reaction usually being some mixture of shock and surprise. "wow!" they say, "he's got so much energy!" or "i would have guessed he was a thirteen months!" not only do we want to be young, we want our pets to be too.

my favorite reaction came last fall, from a young, brown-haired girl, probably around 10 years old. on a walk down 95th toward central park, reggie stopped to sniff around a tree. the girl, passing by in the opposite direction, stopped and asked politely, "may i pet him?"

as she did, he looked up at her with his now somewhat foggy eyes, and his sweet old airedale smile. "how old is he?" she asked.

"almost thirteen" i said, expecting the usual reaction. there was none. she just looked back at reggie and continued scratching his chin.

"he's almost thirteen," i reiterated. "he's an old man."

the girl looked up with the sweetest smile and said, "no. he's a gentleman".

Friday, January 25, 2008

if he continues this way

the new york times has endorsed hillary clinton for the democratic nomination for president, something that i'm sure will come as no surprise to my father or his closest friends.
"we know that she is capable of both uniting and leading. we saw her going town by town through new york in 2000, including places where clinton-bashing was a popular sport. she won over skeptical voters and then delivered on her promises and handily won re-election in 2006."
what may come as a surprise is how the times used their endorsement to admonish mrs. clinton, and give her husband a fairly stern warning:

"as strongly as we back her candidacy, we urge mrs. clinton to take the lead in changing the tone of the campaign. it is not good for the country, the democratic party or for mrs. clinton, who is often tagged as divisive, in part because of bitter feeling about her husband’s administration and the so-called permanent campaign. (indeed, bill clinton’s overheated comments are feeding those resentments, and could do long-term damage to her candidacy if he continues this way.)"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

scumbag of the day

i've been trying hard not to wade into this crap, because i think half the battle against these bozos is not giving them more publicity. but let's be realistic here -- my blog gets about 30 hits a day, okay? so here goes:

this man, in my opinion, is a scumbag.

i could go thru the whole story, but think progress already has. this is what john gibson did on his nationally syndicated radio talk show about an hour after the news of heath ledger's death:
opening his radio show with funeral music yesterday, fox news host john gibson callously mocked the death of actor heath ledger, calling him a “weirdo” with a “serious drug problem.”

playing an audio clip of the iconic quote, “i wish i knew how to quit you” from ledger’s gay romance movie brokeback mountain, gibson disdainfully quipped, “well, he found out how to quit you.” laughing, gibson then played another clip from brokeback mountain in which ledger said, “we’re dead,” followed by his own, mocking “we’re dead” before playing the clip again.
heath ledger was 28 years old when he died.

i didn't know him.
i didn't even know people who knew him.
he might have been a complete asshole.

i do know that i was struggling with a serious substance abuse problem at 27. with the support of good friends and community, i came through it. typically, people go thru some major shift in their lives around age 27 - 28. jim morrison, janis joplin, jimi hendrix, brian jones, kurt cobain...all committed suicide at 27.

that anyone could find humor in such a tragic death so soon after it occurred is sad at best.

wait a day. wait a week.
wait two hours.


UPDATE 8:30 pm -- gibson continued to joke about ledger's death this afternoon on his radio show --
JOHN GIBSON: There is a war on Gibson. And, eventhough Gibson’s always right, there is a war.

ANNOUNCER: The war against Gibson continues.

GIBSON: Thought we were gonna do that next hour, but just to give you a heads up about it, I did this, an hour yesterday on Heath Ledger on my TV show because he was like, still warm. I got an e-mail Angry Rich just moments ago…

ANGRY RICH: Yeah.

GIBSON: From somebody who said that I was just a horrible lowlife, awful person for mocking the death..da da da da da da…News!

ANGRY RICH: John, the start of yesterday’s show is now prominently featured on ThinkProgress, the George Soros operation, yes.

GIBSON: What did…

ANGRY RICH: It says, “John Gibson Mocks ‘Weirdo’ Heath Ledger’s Death.”

GIBSON: Did I mock him?

ANGRY RICH: “He Found Out How To Quit You.” Quote-unquote.

GIBSON: Oh, that. Ha ha ha, well…

ANGRY RICH: A little satire.

GIBSON: Yeah, it’s a little Brokeback Mountain joke.

UPDATE 8:40 pm -- gibson began his fox television show this evening with an apology. listen, i'm all for forgiveness, but read what he said today, then listen to what he said tonight, and tell me what you think.

the pope at a sex club

my favorite moments from tonight's television experience --
  1. project runway -- tim gunn, slapping his hands to the sides of his face when looking at contestant sweet pea's patchwork denim dress: "ugh! it's too...hippy dippy!"
  2. project runway -- in the teaser for next week's episode, top designer michael kors: "i feel like the pope at a sex club!"
  3. american idol -- randy jackson, struggling with his decision, but finally voting "yes" on contestant london: "based on just your singing." (because you're supposed to base it on...twirling?)
  4. american idol -- the contestant who was late to his audition because his pregnant wife's water just broke is named...oliver hyman.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

in threes

just the facts

factcheck.org wraps up monday night's dem debate nicely -- and fairly -- blow by blow. and they're good enough to include john "i beat mccain everywhere in america" edwards in the mix as well.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the pain of love lost

"mr. ledger magically and mysteriously disappears beneath the skin of his lean, sinewy character. it is a screen performance, as good as the best of marlon brando..."
-- stephen holden / new york times
"ledger's magnificent performance is an acting miracle. he seems to tear it from his insides. ledger doesn't just know how ennis moves, speaks and listens; he knows how he breathes. to see him inhale the scent of a shirt hanging in jack's closet is to take measure of the pain of love lost."
-- peter travers / rolling stone

i never said...

whoops.

keep in mind, this is a clinton campaign video. obama's response to these allegations is on his website, but there is no mention of this june 30, 2003 speech to the afl-cio among those responses.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"...you were a corporate lawyer sittin' on the board at walmart!"

with that, barack obama began the snark-fest that cnn tonight tried to pass off as a debate. several times during the evening, obama looked like the inexperienced young child being scolded by his older and wiser parents (clinton on his right, john edwards on his left.) as a voter, i was left to think, "do i really want the child running the country?"

and 130 times voting present in the illinois state senate? voting present? while the new york times attempted to explain it, obama cannot. he seems completely at a loss to competently explain what voting present means in illinois. it's his job to explain it to us, not the new york times'.

for at least the first thirty minutes of the...spectacle tonight, i felt as though i was watching an episode of "jerry springer". until edwards finally chimed in, "this kind of squabbling? how many children is this gonna get health care?" speaking of squabbling, i wondered how long it would take before andrew sullivan actually posted this to the daily dish. not sure why i'm surprised.

the one thing that became readily apparent to anyone watching tonight is that this is probably not going to happen.

guilty pleasure: onj

there are few things more embarrassing than when the muscle-head doing crunches next to you at the gym gets a glimpse of your ipod and olivia newton-john is playing.

it was this song. and i didn't turn it off.

this is from the physical album, which is one of my guilty pleasures (along with an album called totally hot.) i remember the first time i heard her sing like this i thought my world would never be the same. (and i was sixteen, what does that tell you?)

i'd never seen this live version of silvery rain until today. now, i share it with you. i haven't laughed this hard in a long time. she is acting! and that "choreography"! i mean...what is she doing there? being a giant bird?

still, i think she sounds great. and i do love this tacky song, and her.
(and so did muscle-head, by the way.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

it ain't easy bein' green (bay)

you think it sucks to be a packer fan tonight? try being a packer fan in new york city. and y'all know how much of a football fan i am, but i thought the packers sucked tonight. am i wrong? sorry jeff.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

extended play

a new hoosiers ep -- which includes the great "goodbye mr. a" -- is now finally available in the u.s. on itunes. see the video here.

why i quit show business #1

bless his heart, and maybe he'll be really great in the show, but this is why i quit show business (or why i quit show business today...i have a new reason pretty much every day. the overwhelming reason being no one has given me a job. nor have i looked terribly hard. so who am i to question clay aiken, you might ask? listen...stop asking questions and let's get out of these parenthesis.)

clay aiken is in spamalot. and why not? there aren't any real actors who are unemployed in new york. and the fact that his only experience with musical theater is he got cut from his high school production of "guys and dolls" doesn't mean a thing!

poor clay had a terribly uncomfortable interview with newsweek recently.
here's a taste:
How did you get into a fight with that lady on a plane?
I'm not going to talk about it.


I was just curious because you've never talked about it.
I did talk about it.


What about the Kelly Ripa thing?

I'm not going to discuss it.


Did you think it was homophobic?
I'm not going to discuss it.

What do you want to talk about?

I think we're done.
oooph.
sorry clay. hey, break a leg.

cruising

more scary (really scary) tom cruise video here. i'm not kidding about scary.

Friday, January 18, 2008

how 'bout a fox trot?

janet huckabee, filling in for her husband mike at a campaign event in south carolina today, had this to say about our nation's military:
"We need to beef it up, so much so that no one in the world would dare want to tango with it."

a true dilemma

wisconsin senator russ feingold is struggling with the choices for president, but not with john edwards. this is from a recent interview with the appleton post-crescent:
"the one (presidential candidate) that is the most problematic is (john) edwards, who voted for the patriot act, campaigns against it. voted for no child left behind, campaigns against it. voted for the china trade deal, campaigns against it. voted for the iraq war…

the notion that you sort of vote one way when you're playing the game in washington and another way when you're running for president, there's some of that going on."
so will feingold endorse a candidate before the wisconsin primary on february 19?
"probably not. i'm having a hard time deciding between hillary clinton and barack obama...i go back and forth, to be honest with you. i'm torn on this whole issue of who's more likely to be progressive and really seek change vs. who's ready to do the job today. it really is a true dilemma in my mind."

read the entire interview here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

huckabee crazy!

please, please let this guy be the republican nominee for president! the fun never ends! yesterday he told msnbc that in college he used to cook squirrels in a popcorn popper! now there's this "clarification" of his views on that "marriage amendment" to the constitution (from an interview with beliefnet.com):
"...i don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. i think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal. again, once we change the definition, the door is open to change it again."
damn! just when i thought my airedale reggie was about to pop the question!

hot men crying

it doesn't get hotter than this.

i mean, watch this and tell me it's not hot. and what's hotter than the first guy (his name's terrell, i guess) actually crying at a news conference, is the three announcers analyzing his crying. they are so into his crying. one of 'em's even had terrell crying on his shoulder. hot!

and in reality? it's all about my home-boy (is home-boy hyphenated?) tony romo. i think terrell has a little crush on tony. jessica, you better watch out! okerrr??

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

on the record: grace kelly

think...the love child of freddy mercury and leo sayer.

this is mika (pronounced me-ka.) the song is grace kelly. mika is nominated for four brit awards (the u.k. version of the grammy) including best album and best single. in the u.s, he's nominated for one grammy -- best dance recording (for love today.) admittedly, i'm a bit behind the times, but i bet a lot of you haven't heard this either. you should. then buy the whole album -- life in cartoon motion.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

vegas debate

in the midst of "playing nice" tonight, i could swear i saw hillary clinton turn to barack obama and ask him to be her v.p. and i think i heard him say yes...

tom cruise is nuts

something we've all suspected for a long time. if you're not sure he's nuts, watch this video of tom promoting scientology. here's a quote (my comments in parenthesis):
"so for me it really is ksw (keep scientology working), and it's just like...it's...it's something that uh...i don't mince words with that...you know...with, with anything...that lrh (l. ron hubbard) does. but that policy to me has really gone...(makes strange sound with his mouth) boy. i never had a...i... ther'sa time when i went through and i said you know what? when i read it i, y'know i just went ...(another strange sound -- "pfoooh!")...thi's it. this' exactly it."
another one of my favorites (i think he's talking about a spaceship here, i don't know):
"...my opinion is...is that look -- you're either on board, or you're not on board. okay...which's...if you're on board, you're on board just like the rest of us. period."
and now that i've screwed my own career (he'll come after me, i know. or send people for me.) there's this:
"it is the time now. now is the time. okay. it is...being a scientologist people are turning to you, so you'd better know it. you better know it. and if you don't...(pause)...you know...? go...and learn it, he-he-you know-ho. (laughing a scary tom cruise laugh that i'm sure will give me bad dreams.) but don't pretend you know it, and..or.. foo...y'know whatever..."

god's standards

"i have opponents in this race who do not want to change the constitution, but i believe it's a lot easier to change the constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god, and that's what we need to do is to amend the constitution so it's in god's standards rather than try to change god's standards..."
mike huckabee, delivering his "closing arguments" in warren, michigan last night, referring to the need for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion and an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

UPDATE 1/17 -- last december, on meet the press, huckabee said this:
"the key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. and never would i want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict."

huh. guess that idea didn't last.

"i'm like 'huh?"

michelle obama, speaking at francis marion university in florence, south carolina:
"i get confused when people are like, 'we have so many choices. i'm so confused. i don't know, who should i vote for?'" she said, mimicking a waffling voter with a babyish tone. "i'm like 'huh?"
there's no question mrs. obama is one of her husband's strongest assets in this contest. she's strong, she's out there, and she speaks in a way that many young voters respond to.

but here's the deal michelle. don't mock me.

if i'm like, on the fence? still seriously considering voting for like, any of the top three dems? this ain't gonna like, sway my vote in your favor.

Monday, January 14, 2008

just the ticket

now that these two have kissed and made up, is a clinton/obama ticket possible? kristen breitweiser hopes so:
"both hillary and barack are great people and they will both be great leaders. we deeply need their complementary styles, experience, personalities and vision to fix our ailing country."
obama talked about it last year on david letterman:
“that would be a powerful ticket,” mr. letterman says of the two senators. “undeniably that would be a powerful ticket.”

mr. obama replies: “which order are we talking about?”
and u.s. news' paul bedard says:
"the possibility that a potential democratic presidential primary matchup between sens. hillary rodham clinton and barack obama could lead to a clinton-obama ticket is raising concerns in gop circles that it might be unbeatable."
and well, if we can frighten republicans, why not?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

dear jeff, pt. 2

jeff ircink's boyfriend brett favre looked pretty damn good yesterday against the seattle seahawks. (not that i actually watched, mind you.) this from today's milwaukee journal-sentinal:

"fans in the nfl's smallest city aren't easily fooled. they know a super bowl contender when they see one. they saw one on a snowy saturday at lambeau field."

and looky here -- my new hometown newspaper is finally paying green bay some respect. seems the fans at lambeau aren't the only ones to recognize super bowl condenters.

now as much as i'd like to see green bay whup the giants, i'm hoping they get to smack down dallas and tony romo, who hails from burlington, wisconsin -- like, two minutes from my hometown of waterford. romo -- and don't get me wrong, i'm as proud of him as my dad, who watched him play high school football -- but romo deserves to be beat simply because he's goofy enough to date jessica simpson (please.)

then...the pack (yes, i called them the pack. i just said smack down too) can meet the undefeated patriots in the super bowl and hand them their first loss of the season. wouldn't that be fun? (again...not that i'd actually watch.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

good ol' merv

i grew up watching merv griffin's talk show in the 1970's. over the last few years, when i'd see him on larry king, i'd get a kind of bittersweet feeling. he used to joke about what his tombstone was going to say. finally, here it is.
good ol' merv.

Friday, January 11, 2008

chase and bunny

(this obviously phony news story got my attention, and it reminded me of a story from my own childhood.)

When i was a kid, eight or nine or so, growing up in rural wisconsin, our family pet was a sweet old german shepherd named "chase". this dog was truly man's best friend. certainly mine. i have distinct memories of running like a crazy person through our backyard, with chase running alongside of me practically smiling because he was having so much fun.

in our ranch style house, the window just over the kitchen sink looked out onto ginny and fred kranz's driveway. there, next to the garage, they had a small wire cage where they kept their family's pet, a rabbit they'd ingeniously named "bunny". bunny didn't do much, as far as i could tell. except sit in it's cage and occasionally eat little pellets that, in time, came out the other end looking remarkably similar to how they went in.

whenever the kranzs would go out of town, they would ask me to "look after" bunny, which consisted of putting pellets in it's bowl, and adding water to the sippy bottle hanging on it's cage. simple. once i took bunny out to play with it, but when i put it down on the yard it just sat there like a stupid lump. when i picked it up again to put it back in the cage, it nipped at me.

one monday afternoon, while playing kickball with the neighborhood gang, cindy kranz brazenly announced that her whole family was going up north to the wisconsin dells that coming weekend. "we're going to storybook gardens and the wonder spot," she said smugly. i loved the wonder spot, a place where water ran uphill, and where you stood on an angle, even though the floor was completely flat. i hated them for going up north while i had to stay at home and do my usual weekend chores around the house: wash the dishes after friday's family dinner, dust the living room on saturday morning, and clip the lawn on sunday afternoon.

The weekend came. the kranz's station wagon was gone from their driveway -- a cruel reminder that they were having fun while i stood at the kitchen sink scrubbing pots and pans. and there was that stupid cage with that stupid...

uh-oh.

i looked again.
oh. my. god.

i squinted my eyes, shook my head and looked again.

no bunny. bunny was gone.

it was then that i noticed something that made my heart leap into my throat as i'm not sure it had ever done before, or has ever since.

there, at the end of the driveway, was our dog chase. jumping, and crouching and playing. all by himself. and in his mouth was something light brown and sort of fluffy.

it was bunny. chase held bunny tight in his mouth and whipped it back and forth. he threw it up in the air, only to watch it fall lifeless to the ground. he'd stand motionless, taught for moment, staring at the brown blob. and then he'd jump and grab it again in his teeth only to whip it around half-dozen more times.

somehow my dog had gotten into that cage and was now using bunny as a chew toy.

i dropped the fry pan i had been scrubbing, ripped off the rubber gloves i was wearing (my mother had warned me about dishpan hands) and went tearing out the back door. i heard a vague "where the devil are you going?" coming from the living room, but i paid no attention. my only thought was the possibility of saving that stupid rabbit before it was too late.

and that it was. too late. when i reached the dog and the rabbit, he had actually thrown it up into the air again, and it landed nearly at my feet. i grabbed it in one arm, and tried to keep chase away with the other. i went to the garage, and closed the door. safe for the time being.

bunny was as dead as a doornail, but strangely enough, not too damaged. for all the chewing and whipping around, it was in fairly good shape. muddy, dirty, sticky with dog drool, and dead. but not...mmm...damaged.
"bunny was dead as a doornail... muddy, dirty, sticky with dog drool, and dead."
i knew immediately what i should do. tell the kranzs exactly what happened? tell them that my dog killed bunny? of course not. why tell the truth, when a little maneuvering could cover up any wrongdoing on mine and chase's part?

i took bunny to the washtub in the garage, next to the washer and dryer. i laid it in the bottom, and turned on the water. my mother, for some strange reason, kept a small bottle of pert shampoo (shampoo and conditioner in one) on the counter next to the washtub, so i used it to wash bunny's hair. i was happy to see no blood running down the drain...only brown, dirty water. that rabbit had held up pretty well.

when i was done shampooing the thing, i wrapped it in a towel, and snuck back in the house and downstairs to the basement bathroom. there was an old hairdryer there, stuck in a cupboard under the sink. i pulled it out by it's curly cord, plugged it in, and blew dry bunny's hair.

when i was finished, that thing was as big and fluffy as it had ever been. i wondered if the rabbit had ever received such treatment before it had died.

i took it back outside and over to the kranz's driveway. i opened the latch on the wire cage, and placed bunny every so carefully in a corner. i even crossed it's front paws to make it look...relaxed.

whew. done.

The kranz family arrived home on sunday afternoon. i saw the car pull into the driveway, and watched cindy leap out of the back seat to go and hug bunny. poor bunny, who obviously had died in his sleep from natural causes. or so i was prepared to suggest.

i put my sneakers on, and walked casually out the front door. "oh look! you're home!" i said in my surprised voice. no one answered. by the time i'd arrived, the whole family had gotten out of the car, and was now standing still, silent and erect in a semi-circle around bunny's cage. the moment to test my young acting skills had arrived. i walked up to join them, and stood there, staring at the cage.

"what's wrong?" i asked innocently.

"well you see," mr. kranz said, "bunny here died..."

"he died?!?!" i exclaimed, in my best barbara stanwyck. i may have brought a hand up to cover my mouth, for effect.

"well, yes. in fact, he died on thursday morning, before we left for the weekend. so we had a little ceremony and buried him in a special spot out in the backyard. but now...somehow...well there he is."

"it's a miracle," mrs. kranz said.

in the kranz's minds, bunny had not only come back to life, but had dug himself out of his grave, hopped back to his cage, opened the latch, crawled back inside, and locked the latch again from the inside.

and somewhere along the way got a shampoo and a blow-dry.


EDITOR'S NOTE: the accompanying animal photos are not actual shots of bunny and chase, but of an unknown dog and rabbit having a drink at a bar, and an unrelated big fluffy rabbit (i just did a google search for "dog and rabbit" and "big fluffy rabbit"!) some of the names, events, and locations in the preceding story may have been altered slightly, changed dramatically, or completely made up to either protect the innocent or because i had nothing better to do. cindy kranz did not live right next door, as far as i know never owned a rabbit, and never said anything smugly or announced anything brazenly in her life.

let (clinton) be bartlet

it ran from 1999 to 2006. it won a record setting 26 emmy awards. it was hailed by critics and fans alike as one of television's best dramatic series ever.

someone in my household got "the west wing" complete box set for christmas. all seven seasons, all 154 episodes. and we're in the throws of watching them all.

as we do, and i marvel at martin sheen as president jed bartlet, i often try to picture one of the current crop of presidential candidates in the scene instead. could hillary clinton deal with the joint chiefs of staff so firmly and clearly? (my gut says...uh...yes.) what about obama? would there have to be someone to coach him along the way? who would be as witty, or as charming? mccain? eh. he'd certainly throw more tantrums (and f-bombs...the show would have to be on hbo.)

okay, it's a television series. but maybe it could help us pick our president. why don't you all come over and we'll watch a few episodes together, and discuss.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

bride eat bride

chidi ogbuta of allen, texas had a lifelong dream of having a lifesize doll modeled after her. (and be honest, who doesn't have that dream?)

her dream came true when she had her wedding cake designed in her exact likeness.

it's my lifelong dream, actually, to have a likeness of myself made in apple fritter dough from the greenbush bakery in madison, wisconsin. then i'd cover myself with goo, and eat myself with a tall glass of ice cold milk.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

he's got a hobby

this from jennifer bandy -- member of the dartmouth college republicans -- about mike huckabee playing the bass:
"it says he's ready to have fun and he's been working hard to connect with youth voters and i think that is one of the reasons he's brought chuck norris on the campaign trail since he's extraordinarily popular on college campuses and seeing him play the bass says he's not another elitist politician he's just like us -- he's got a hobby."
so wait. chuck norris is popular with youth voters?
wow, am i out of the loop.

bird eat bird

it was a beautiful summer day in new york yesterday (in the middle of winter) so i went for a nice long walk in riverside park. as i headed down the path, toward the hudson river, i noticed two men standing near a park bench, having an intense chat, pointing at something on the grass. there was a bird -- huge, brown and white -- devouring another bird.

"it's a falcon" the first man said. "he's killed a pigeon and now he's eating it."

i stood and watched with the two men. before we knew it, there was a smart looking, middle-aged japanese woman standing next to us (and yes, she was japanese.) she didn't speak. she just watched the scene intently. all at once, seven more people stopped to watch the bird. then another four. and another three.

"it's a swallow hawk" one man announced to the crowd. "they're everywhere in new york. they eat swallows. he's eating a swallow."

"oohh" the crowd murmured.

after he left, a woman moved up to get a better look and said "it's a swallow hawk?"

a man standing directly behind her said "no. it's a red-tail. there are no swallow hawks in new york. it's a red-tail, and he's eating a pigeon. that's too big to have been a swallow."

the woman said "but that other man said..."

"he was wrong."

"well i hate pigeons" the woman said quietly.

eventually, the crowd dispersed, although i'm not sure why -- the feast went on for at least another ten minutes or so. only the japanese woman stayed.

i tried to get a good photo. i must have taken 40 or so pictures of the damn thing and this is the best i got. you have to look very closely to make out the bird. i need a new camera.

finally the bird stopped, looked up, and flew to a nearby tree. the japanese woman -- without looking at me -- said definitively, "it's a hawk."

Monday, January 7, 2008

quietly passionate

john muriello is a dear old friend and also a long time iowa city, iowa resident ("i teach voice at the u of iowa. been here ten years. it's a nice place to live, believe it or not.")

shortly before the iowa caucuses, i asked john for a few impressions of the presidential race.

TC: what's your take on the caucus process.
JM: the caucuses are a great idea and process because they're as grass roots as you can get - people gathering in a room, talking ideas, issues, duking it out, then choosing a candidate. the democratic process involves more of that than does the republican, which is more like a secret ballot thing after only some brief stump speeches by candidate representatives. but the people that show up for the caucuses are generally fired up about politics. as fired up as an iowan can get.

TC: will you participate? have you before?
JM:
i couldn't go this year, because I was at a rehearsal (crap), but i did the last two. the 2004 caucus was really good, by the way, exciting, empowering. all about defeating the current moron in office, in spite of the dismally disappointing outcome.

TC: are the caucuses a big deal in your world?
JM:
it is a big deal among my friends and colleagues. people are quietly passionate about the process, and understandably passionate about change in our government.

TC: have you been to hear any of the candidates speak?
JM:
i didn't hear any candidates speak, which is sort of damning on my part, since they seemed to come through iowa city a lot. a lot. in the past several months.

TC: what's your view of the "momentum" heading out of iowa?
JM:
momentum. who knows. iowa is a sort of island, and the country is diverse enough that at least the democratic candidate is up for grabs, and will be for a while. i have to say i like obama a lot, and i like his upbeat message of change - how that will pan out in details remains to be seen. hillary would be both a formidable and viscious opponent to whatever republican they come up with, and potentially a divisive figure on the whole political front, since the republicans hate her so much.

cau-kiss pt. ll

awwww! if you read any of this post, you'll wanna see this video. i mean really, what could be more adorable than chris matthews blushing?! (still, i'm sure he wishes the embrace had been from obama.)

UPDATE / 11:36 pm -- here's the video:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

edward in washington

that's my friend wallace acton in an enormous production of christopher marlowe's "edward ll" at washington d.c's shakespeare theater. the production closed today, but we were lucky enough to see his performance last night, and hang out after with wally and his partner, my good pal ben (who has his own skit coming up.)

Friday, January 4, 2008

"...i must be hopeful."

"i'm a black guy running for president named barack obama.
i
must be hopeful."
if you didn't see it, watch this. take the time to watch the whole thing.
(it's about 14 minutes.)

it's worth it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

cau-kiss

this brilliant tidbit moments ago, from msnbc's chris matthews (referring to his msnbc cohort david gregory) -- "he's been there, he's seen it, he knows it, he's part of it!"

puke.

matthews is so excited that barack obama has won the iowa caucuses (or is he more excited that hillary clinton didn't win?) that it's a good thing obama is not in the same room with him or there might just be some smoochin' goin' on.

UPDATE / 10:13 pm -- so, i haven't turned it off yet. and matthews is practically foaming at the mouth now, claiming hillary's upcoming address in iowa will be the clinton machine at it's best. "i've been there, i know it, i've seen it..."

wait.

UPDATE / 1:08 pm -- i'm not the only one to notice the drool from matthews.

UPDATE / 01.04.08 -- YIKES! matthews salivation-fest continues tonight, on hardball (about obama's great line this morning: "this feels good. this feels like i imagined when i was talking to my kindergarten teacher.") said matthews: "that's jack kennedy stuff! great sarcasm!" ohh barraaack!? mmmmmwaaaahhh!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

best of 2007...

the end of the year means lots of lists.

the best, the biggest, the top selling, the longest running,
the loudest, the highest priced, the lowest priced, the favorite, the worst.

no list here (at least not this year.)

some of my favorite music of 2007 has not been released in the u.s. it's from a uk band called the hoosiers (i found them by nosing around on the uk itunes site -- the brits taste in music is often more to my liking than what's popular here).

the last i heard about a u.s release of their #1 u.k. album the trick to life was "soon - hold tight my man - spread the love".

i'm spreadin' the love. here's one of my favorite songs from last year:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

happy tuber new year!

the united nations has declared 2008 the year of the starchy tuberous crop from the perennial plant solanum tuberosom of the solanaceae family.

UPDATE / 01.02.08 --
who
knew? besides the tuber designation, 2008 is also the chinese year of the rat, and has been declared the year of the reef, the year of the micro, and finally, the year of the frog (a good omen for me, i hope.)