29 March 2004

rollin' rollin' rollin'

Today was "move the big stuff day" so I have been unable to spend much time on the computer.  I am sitting in a mostly empty apartment wondering where the last year went, because it seems like just yesterday that I was sitting in a mostly empty apartment the day I signed my lease. 

I used professional movers today for the first time in my life.  The time lapsed from when they rang my doorbell to when they (three people) drove away with an empty truck from my furniture's new home was two hours.  And I have a lot of stuff.  Myself and two friends would have taken two days, probably.  I shall never move myself again.  Worth every penny.

I caught very little basketball this weekend, but did see that my pick to win it all is still alive.  Oklahoma State should handle Georgia Tech Saturday, but I don't know about the final.  I feel good about their chances should they meet Duke, but UConn is playing well enough to beat a few NBA teams now, I think.

I still have two days to fully empty this place, and there's a lot of little things that need to be moved.  This is the part of the process that I H-A-T-E.

Almost time to say goodbye to Ovaltine.

26 March 2004

Can we be just a little more sensitive?

Lord, it is going to be a long, long time until November. 

So the President makes a joke, and reaction runs right down party lines.  I think that it is in rather poor tatse for someone responsible for sending troops into battle to joke about it, especially when people have been killed.  But I think I'm as offended by the piety of the Democrats who feel the need to voice their objections.  Once again, they treat us like idiots, jumping all over this matter because they assume we are too stupid to judge it for ourselves. 

I can't imagine what life must be like when everything you say and everything you do is held to such scrutiny.  Or when it is your job to analyze everything someone says and does to try to find a spin to it.  Both must be exhausting.

Can we all just lighten up please?  Maybe GW can start his next press conference with a couple of G-rated knock knock jokes?

I just want one day, just one, where the media ignores stuff like this.  Tell me happy stories about the near arrival of spring and baseball season, or take a day off. 


Fun by the bay

This makes me laugh, not because I am unsympathetic, but because I am also a "victim."

I was in San Fran for a few days last June.  Saw a Giants game, took a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge, and hung out in Chinatown.  But what I remember most about SF was my encounter with the Bushman.  I was walking along Fisherman's Wharf in the middle of the afternoon and I headed up the street next to it looking for a place to eat.  It was one of those stretches where there are souvenir shops all over the place, sidewalk vendors, a place catering completely to tourists.  As I made my way I noticed a large group of people standing on the other side of the street looking at something near where I was, though I did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Then it hit me, literally.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a rather sickly looking shrub growing up against the fence, but as I passed it, the branches lunged towards me and roared.  I must have jumped ten feet back, and the gang of people across the street gawking laughed hysterically.  Only when my heart returning to a normal beat did I notice that the bush was instead a street guy crouched behind some fake branches.  He would silenty wait without moving until he saw someone completly unaware of his presence.  Apparently, I could not have been more unaware, though in my defense his disguise was brilliant.

It was embarrassing to have what seemed like a thousand people laughing at me, but I have to admit that once I got over the shock, I spent fifteen minutes on the other side of the street watching other people become shrubbery victims.     

I never saw more inventive homeless people than I did in San Fran.  I even played a little soccer with one in the middle of the street at 2 AM using a bus shelter as a goal after a few too many beers and Neil Diamond songs at a sports/piano bar.  That game ended when the guy rifled a shot that went wide of the "goal" and slammed into the plate glass window of the jewelry store behind it.  The glass did not break, but it did set off the alarm.

Try to do that on Lower Wacker.


25 March 2004

Blame? Me?

I spent some of time Tuesday and Wednesday watching the hearing that the 9/11 commission held in DC.  While thankful that the proceedings were broadcast to the public, I felt they were more about grandstanding than anything else.  There are some powerful ex-politicians on the panel, and I was struck at how each spent the first few minutes of their air time heaping praise on each person testifying before asking questions.  I don't really see the point of that, unless they think softening up each one with compliments will make them more candid.

It's a shame that only one person took the opportunity to apologize for the fact that the government was not able to prevent 9/11, but since Richard Clarke's integrity is in question due to his recent book release, I doubt many people took him seriously.  It's ridiculous that the primary objective of this commission is to assign blame for 9/11.  Fault is an equal opportunity between the Clinton and Bush administrations, but the government needs to look ahead and see what they can do to ensure that we are as safe as possible from further attacks.

Could either president have done more to try to prevent terrorism?  Sure, but people need to grasp just how difficult it has to be to prevent it.  What greater challenge can there be than trying to stop people who are willing to kill themselves to hurt you?  People who are hell bent to blame our government for 9/11 seem to overlook the hatred that the extremists have for America.  The events of 9/11 happened because of the determination of an evil group of people.  Let's assign the blame to them where it belongs and work together to try to assure that it will not happen again.

I fear that it will though, maybe not on the scale of 9/11, but most certainly this country will be affected by terrorism again.  I am reminded of what the IRA said to Margaret Thatcher shortly after she narrowly escaped a car bomb explosion in London in the 70's: "You have to be lucky every single time; we have to be lucky just once."

And if this commission wants to convince me that they have the best interest of all of America in mind, then why can't we see the testimony of both Bush and Clinton?  Those of us who share the concern of safety deserve to know what these men did, knew and felt about these threats. 


24 March 2004


647 is a number that will hold a special significance for me until the day I start blogging from the great beyond, because of a drugstore in Lincoln Park that I had the pleasure of managing for four and a half years.  My former company assigned  stores a three digit number, and this one was 647.  The store was on the border of at least six different neighborhoods, ranging from Cabrini Green, one of the poorer sections of Chicago, to the Gold Coast, one of the richest neighborhoods in the country. 

Managing in a retail environment is tough anywhere, but the mix of people interacting daily at this location made the experience unforgettable.  I saw things at this store that I never saw anywhere else-naked shoplifters, million dollar jewelry, just a few examples.  But as stressful as it was to run the place, it was also the best location I ever managed.  I met a lot of inspirational people, both customer and associate, and we had a great deal of success.  I did my best managing job there, and will always be proud and thankful for the experience.

The reason I have been fixating a lot on good ol' 647 lately is that I seem to be catching that number in my sights recently.  I pass a bank with a time and temperature reading on the front, and it's 6:47; I'm looking for a specific address and the first building I see is #647; this morning I woke up, rolled over to see what time it was, and the clock said 6:47; and the first time I went to this blog site today, I noticed the "hit" counter said I had a total of 647 visitor to the site since its inception.

If the powers that be had left me at that store instead of insisting I move on to another location I would probably still be in that business, but I also think that things happen for a reason, and that in the grand scheme of things I was supposed to leave that career.  I'm sure the plethora of 647's is just to remind me of that time, and of the changes in my life since.  Purely coincidental yet fully able to supply a meaning.

Now I notice that when I came to the blog to write this entry that the hit counter is up to 666.  We used to say that 647 was the "drugstore from hell."  Think I will have to leave that one alone.  

WMD on the DOS

I skipped commenting on the first anniversary of the Iraq war last week because frankly I am tired of thinking about it.  The US is there for the duration, and there will always be spin about it by both sides no matter what my opinion may be.

(Though if you peruse the entires in this log, you can probably guess how I feel about it...)

I can't resist passing this one along though.  Genius, pure genius.

23 March 2004

Movin' on

Next week I am moving for the second time in a year.  There are few things in this world that irritate me more than moving.  It's not even right to call it moving; it ought to be called "pack all your crap that you swore you would deal with before you moved again the last time you moved and then unpack it so that it can sit wherever it stays until you pack it up again and move"-ing.

I thought I purged as well as I ever have when I moved last year, but as I begin the process of recognizing things that have been in the same location for the last year, I realize that I could stand with another purge, especially in the wardrobe category.  I got rid of half of my clothes last year,stuff that was either too small or I had not worn in three years.  Most of it still fits, but I haven't worn at least half of it in the last year.  I don't understand what connection I feel to this clothing.  It holds no sentimental value, it certainly is not unique, and it's not like I would have to go out and replace anything if I donated it all.

You want hats?  I  got 'em!  Golf shirts with amazingly bland styling?  Take your pick.  I have flannel shirts that I haven't worn since college, and for some reason I notice that I have stopped wearing sweaters.  Ties?  Just leave me a few for the occassional wedding/funeral.  I have coats for all seasons, shoes for any event, and socks that I wouldn't wear to a costume party.

But by far the most prized possessions in my "no touch" wardrobe are the dress shirts left over from my retail career.  There's about ten, all in different styles, with "Jewel/Osco" stitched in above the left breast pocket.  When I left that business I decided that the shirts were good enough to keep so I invested in a stitch remover and painstakingly removed the logo from a dark purple shirt.  I did a good job, you can hardly tell by looking at the shirt that it used to be an advertisement.

Of course, I have not worn the shirt once, and I never bothered to remove the logos from the others.  They all still hang in my closet.  But I could, there's a great place to sit in my new abode where I could listen to some music and rip away...

That abode, by the way, is the house I grew up in.  More on that development later.

22 March 2004

Since I am in the mood to ask questions...

Did we really choose Bush over McCain?

I think back to the Republican race in 2000, when it was Bush vs. McCain.  How did Bush beat this guy?  What does it say about the voters of this country when a man who has virtually no experience except legacy is able to defeat a man who spent five years in a POW camp in Vietnam?  It must drive McCain nuts.  Instead of devoting his post-war life to public service, he should have lived off his family's name, then become governor in a state where his primary job was executing people.

OK, I realize that is a bit rash.  If you want a great example of the differences in character of these two republicans, read the chapter in Al Franken's "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" about what the Bush team did in South Carolina to win that state's primary in 2000 after McCain won in New Hampshire.  It's documented that Bush's camp placed thousands of phone calls to registered white GOP voters asking them what they though about John McCain fathering a child with a black woman.  But I'm sure they meant to say Strom Thurmond instead, right?

Can you imagine having a President who would acually want to work with our allies in fighting terrorism, who would not convey this country as arrogant and above the opinion of all other nations?  Could you grasp the concept of a leader who would defend a member of another political party when that person is being unfairly smeared?

And McCain KILLED when he hosted SNL last year!  Do you think GW can do a Streisand imitation?  I doubt it.  It's tradition in Washington that the President select one member from the opposition party for a position in the cabinet.  If Kerry wins, he could do a lot worse than McCain.  I'd make him Secretary of State in a heartbeat.


Let's just kill everyone and get it over with...

...so seems the policy of Israel.

I understand that Israel has to fight like a pit bull to survive in the Middle East, but really, would it crush them to not instigate the Palestinians like this?  I've got two and a half days in the "when's the next suicide bomber going to blow up a bus in Tel Aviv" pool.  Call such a remark tasteless, but then also please tell me how targeting 69 year old men in wheelchairs for missile encounters makes sense.  It doesn't, of course, unless eventually all parties involved succeed in extinguishing themselves. 

If I were President George I'd inform Ariel Sharon that he needs to report to the White House tomorrow, and once there explain to him that he needs to stop the testosterone injections if he expects the USA to keep its blinders on when it comes to supporting his country.  I understand that the US needs to support Israel lest the rest of the Arab world blow it off the map, but we should not let them drag us into more conflicts.  We do a good enough job of doing that ourselves.

Anyone remember when we had a President that actually tried to bring peace to this volatile area?  It's like this administration is so hell bent on distancing itself from any comparisons from the Clinton presidency that it has chosen to ignore this conflict.  I'm sure that the official word will be concern that this tactic was too much, but don't expect much more than that, certainly not any effort to resolve this.

When the world needs more men like Sadat, Begin, and Rabin, why are we left with nothing but a slew of Lone Rangers?


That loud noise that you may have heard several times over the weekend were my NCAA brackets being detonated.  I've been watching the tournament for almost thirty years, and I can't remember a stretch like Fiday through Sunday for favored teams waving bye-bye.  How did Gonzaga lose to Nevada?  Stanford to Alabama?  Kentucky to Alabama-Birmingham?  Teams that I haven't heard much of (or at all-quick, tell me where the University of Nevada is) are bouncing teams that have been in the headlines all year. 

I discovered Friday night the joy of watching these games with the sound turned off.  I found it easier to follow the action without the same cliches being repeated over and over (did you know that the best players in the country have "great quickness", "mental toughness" and are "coachable"?) by announcers who normally broadcast high school games in Montana.  And of course, having no sound means I don't have to further hear the desecration of classic rock songs by advertisers...

But I digress.  I picked Oklahoma State to win the whole tournament, and they are still alive.  My other three Final Four teams are dead and buried.  I picked seven of the sixteen teams left to make it this far.  Clearly, I need some practice at this.

So I will say now that Duke, UConn, OSU and Nevada will make it to San Antonio.  Hope their fans can swim. 

19 March 2004


I knew that this would happen: around this time yesterday I praised my first half-day performance in picking winners in the NCAA tournament, noticing that I was just one point away from going 8-0.

I am  meager 9-7 since I congratulated myself in writing. 

The frequency of first round upsets has diminished greatly these last few years.  A lot of the games are still close, but the big boys of college basketball manage to win almost all of them.  I lost East Tennessee State today, which I had selected to advance one more wound before falling in the Sweet Sixteen.  So far, that's the only one of my sixteen picks that aren't still playing.

Eight more games tonight!  I'm not going to do well (that is what the book on reverse psychology tells me I should write).

18 March 2004

Not too shabby

I'm 7-1 after the first half of games in the tourney today, and I'm one freakin' basket away from being 8-0.  I had Southern Illinois (hey, Salukis, try playing just a little defense after you take the lead in the last ten seconds of a game next time OK?) losing to Stanford in the next round.  Anyone can tell you that the worst losses in the first round are teams that you have advancing to at least the sweet sixteen.

And I was dead on with Manhattan over Florida, though I read something today where a lot of experts no longer consider a 12 beating a 5 an upset.

Realizing that there are eight more chances today for my bracket to implode, I will refrain from publishing my tips on picking winners.  Besides, I am too busy patting myself on the back.

See how it all ties in

Looks like Earth's airspace is going to be violated tonight.  I realize 26,500 miles is a long way away, but it's also only one-tenth the distance from Earth to moon.  In astronomical terms, this is about as close a miss as you can get.

Upon reading the quote from the astronomer who says that the news isn't that this is happening (he says it happens all the time), it's that it was discovered before the pass occured, I can't help but think that if I was an astronomer and discovered an asteroid the size of Manitoba bearing down on Earth for a direct hit in 24 hours, I'd be tempted to keep my mouth shut.  What would be the point of going public?  There'd be no chance of avoiding it in such a short period of time.  It'd be complete mayhem if the public knew they were going to be smacked; personally, if such a thing occurs, I don't want to know.  But if it's my secret, I'm keeping my mouth shut, mixing a pitcher of mai tais, and sitting in the lounge chair on the front lawn until I'm picking gravel out of my teeth.

There were some really dumb asteroid-hits-Earth movies in the 90's.  I think I prefer "Deep Impact" only because it had Morgan Freeman as President and Tea Leoni gets washed away by the ocean.  And I'm segueing here; Robert Duvall was in that movie as well, and until I saw him in one of those DirecTV commercials where actors read letters from satisfied subscribers, I thought that was his finest "I need beer money" moment. 

There's gotta be a leader of the free world rule there somewhere.

Your face is a mess

Can any music artist over the age of 40 resist selling his or her hit songs to advertisers?  I'm watching the Texas Tech-Charlotte game, and I hear David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" come on.  This is one of my favorite rock songs of all time, and now it is used to sell Audi cars.  Give me a break.

When I am leader of the free world I will pass a law forcing anyone who sells songs for advertisements to re-release the record with lyrics appropriate to what the ad is for (and as an aside, my list of things to enact as LOTFW is now well past 500); so if I'm David Bowie I'd now be singing the following:

Just saw your mother/she's in a state/not sure to buy V-6 or V-8

Treble, treble/the radio's loud/treble, treble/drawing a crowd/treble, treble/how could they know/that this song used to not blow?

It's madness I tell ya

I will be doing nothing today that takes me away from my television.  I love the first two days of the NCAA basketball tournament, though I'd like it even more if even one of the schools I care about could see fit to make it into the tourney one of these years.

I used to fill out a ton of backets, but for the last few years I have kept it to just one.  Last year was the best ever for my predictions.  I was 30 for 32 in the first round, and I picked three of the four semifinalists.  I noticed that a few years ago the rate of upsets in the first round diminshed considerably, and last year I went with almost all favorites.  I did the same thing this year, though I subscribe to the theory that at least one team seeded 12 will defeat one seeded 5, and a 13 will upset a 4.  My 12 pick this year is Manhattan over Florida, and my 13 is Illinois-Chicago over Kansas.

The Final Four is in San Antonio this year.  I saw the AlamoDome, where the games will be played, and was impressed.  It's a great modern stadium.  Too bad Chicago doesn't have a place to host a Final Four.  Having explored some of San Antonio during the two days I was there, I am intrigued to know how many drunken revelers will take a tumble into the river, since many bars exit right on the water.  And as I wrote in this journal last month, one doesn't necessarily need to be drunk to fall into the river.

My money says that someone from Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Maryland or Mississippi State splashes down, as those are the teams that I think will make it that far.  And Oklahoma State will win the championship over Mississippi State.

Or I could be all wet.  HA!  I KILL MYSELF!

17 March 2004


From last Sunday's comics, this is as good a commentary on our Commander-In-Chief as anything I have seen or heard.

Illinois democrats get it right

At this late hour, I am happy to see that Barack Obama has won the democratic nomination for US Senate in Illinois.  It looks like he will end up with 50% of the vote, about 20 points higher than most polls predicted.  He benefitted greatly from the implosion of Blair Hull's campaign, obviously, and as ugly as some of the media was to Hull, the story behind his actions during his divorce needed to be made public.  He was not qualified to be a Senator.  The voters of this state got it right.

I am looking at a graphic of how the counties of Illinois voted, and I struck by the fact that it looks like no more than ten total counties gave Obama the majority of their votes.  Dan Hynes looks to get the most votes in about 3/4 of the counties (of which there are a total of 99).  However, Obama has the six counties in metropolitan Chicago, which includes half the population of the state. 

What I like about Obama compared to the other candidates in this race was that he remained positive at all times and did not stoop to attacking his opponents.  He ran on his record.  I am confident that he will do the same for the general election in November.  I admit that I have paid little attention to the Republican side of this race, but now that Jack Ryan has become the GOP nominee, I will pay close attention to both sides of this race.

And I have to ask, when is the Illinois GOP going to ask its candidates named Ryan to consider a name change?  It's incredibly ironic that in the last two major elections in this state (2002 gubernatorial and this 2004 Senate race) the GOP candidate has the same last name as the man who as governor succeeded in securing the largest backlash against the Republicans in state history.  I don't expect the voters of this state to vote on a name (and if they did, do you think someone might point out the proximity of "Obama" to "Osama"?) but every spin doctor in the state has to see the potential for mistaken identity.

For what it's worth, I would have had an extremely difficult time deciding between Barack Obama and Peter Fitzgerald, if he were running for reelection.

In need of a little practice

My political moratorium is off.  You have been warned.  However, I sense a little rustiness.  Bear with me.  The wit shall return.

This has me wondering just who polishes the President's shoes.  And the last time he got paid. 

And why is everyone ignoring this?  The government can go after Martha Stewart but can turn a blind eye while Haliburton adds to Dick Cheney's 401(K).  George, again, allow me to introduce you to the business principle entitled "conflict of interest."  There are plenty of charts and pictures in the textbook, so it should not be that difficult to read.

And lest everyone believe that I don't dig on Democrats, Justice Ginsburg can have a seat next to the President and Vice-President for the next ethics lecture.

That last link leads me to a pet peeve, newspaper websites that make you register to read their articles.  I don't understand what the point is having to log in to a free site.  When I am referred to an article to a site that requires me to create an account, the only way I'm going to do it is if the article seems very interesting.  And if there is anything I need more of in this life, it's Internet passwords.

I'm feeling quite Andy Rooney-esque tonight.

16 March 2004


I'm back from five sun filled days in southwest Florida, and of course it is snowing in Chicago, but I have a tan (sort of) and I can close my eyes and feel the warm weather making its way to the Midwest.  I can make it.  I will triumph.

Normally I play around thirty rounds of golf a year, and the first rounds in March on the golf trip are traditionally the worst since I haven't swung a club in the last five months.  This year might be different.  I played four rounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area, and averaged a score of 87, including an 83 in the first round.  So my game has nowhere to go but down, right?  How cruel is this game then, to reel me in so early in the year and keep me entrenched in the quest to break 80, something I have only done twice, and never in the last ten years.

Does anyone care?  Most people I know are bored to death watching golf on tv, so I can't imagine it being much more thrilling to read about it.  I watch a little golf every now and then, but I rarely read about it.  Ah, but the blog let's me write whatever I want, so if you are reading this, you are reading about my golf game.  Unless I have put you to sleep.

First entries after an extended break are usually quite lame.

10 March 2004


I'm off to Florida tonight to kick off the 2004 golf season.  I'll be gone the rest of the week and I am NOT bringing my laptop.  You have no idea how difficult that is.  While I do believe that a little isolation is helpful sometimes, my brain craves information after a day or so when I am away.  But I'll sacrifice knowledge for golf, especially in March.

Myself and a group of friends take this trip every year.  We change the destination and last year we found ourselves in San Diego.  Except for the airline losing my golf clubs for a day (they paid for a rental set and I got a new pair of shoes out of it as well), last year's trip was perfect.  The highlight of the trip was a Saturday afternoon round at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, one of the most beautiful courses in the country.  It kicked my tail, of course, but it was worth it.

What I remember most about last year though was another diner at the restaurant that we went to after the round at Torrey.  We wound up at a place where we sat outside on a balcony overlooking the surf on a clear, beautiful night.  In the middle of our meal they seated a gentleman dressed all in brown wearing dark shades next to us at a table along the rail, and for the forty-five minutes or so that he was there, he was more entertaining than anything else on the trip.  He never actually sat at the table, standing over it except for when he wandered in a half circle around it.  He polished off a basket of bread in about five minutes, and ordered several glasses of milk.  For his entree he had a rack of lamb, which he vivisected with precision in about two minutes.  He then had a few more glasses of milk and went on his way.

I suppose that this was a moment where one actually has to see it to understand why I would still think it memorable a year later.  In my time working in the inner city I saw plenty of people strung out on drugs and/or alcohol, but I never saw anything quite like the behavior this gentleman exhibited, so I can't say if it was normal.  The wait staff did not seem to be bothered by it though, and we found it silently entertaining as well.

Until next week, let's hope I can hit them straight!


When I jettisoned my career in August 2002, one of my goals was to travel.  I'm happy to look back 18 months later and see that I accomplished it.  I've driven over 30,000 miles in that time around the US, plus taken a few trips by air.  I've created a ton of memories in seeing many places I had never been to before.  A few days ago I vowed to take a break from things political so I could reminesce about some of my experiences from the road, which I intend to start now.  Some of these things are long, others are short.  I have a feeling that many if not all might be difficult to convey, but I am doing this for me more than anyone else (so get on with it already).

#1 Driving from Mississippi into Louisiana on I-10 at sunset, over a bridge that spans the gulf while listening to "El Sol" by Zwan, the fifth song on the "Mary Star of the Sea" CD.  It's not a great song, but the beginning guitar blended perfectly with the timing of being on the bridge, seeing nothing but the two lanes in front of me and water on both sides, with the setting sun a huge blazing disk of red.  It took maybe five minutes to cross that bridge but the images I saw combined with the melodies I heard will stay with me for the rest of my days.  I did not see another car while I was on that bridge-five minutes of exceptionally perfect isolation.

#2 Birds-this country is full of them.  I have noticed hundreds of formations of flying birds, not large one like geese or ducks, but smaller ones like sparrows, that fly in groups of what seem like a thousand.  They fly in such precision that all I see is what appears to be a large black blob moving perpendicular to me, then completely disappear as it moves directly away or towards me, changing every second.  It's like a child's bubble wand, the toy that makes huge asymetrical shapes with a flick of the wrist, if the bubbles were somehow black.  Difficult to describe but a definite natural beauty.

More of this stuff to come eventually

My man Hubble


Whenever I am feeling mighty secure about my place on this Earth, I stumble across a piece like this.

Fortunately for me, I am horrible wih physics.  That realization is the only thing that stopped me from diving into astronomy.  When I go out in the middle of nowhere and look up at the sky until my neck screams for mercy, I don't want to know the scentific meaning of what I see.  I want to be confused.  I want to be denied rational explanation.  I want it to be indescribable.

Look up, folks.  It's all going to be gone someday.




Does Dr. Evil know about this?

Sometimes words fail me.  It's a shame that at this late hour, I am rendered speechless by this story.

I can say that this is the first time I ever wondered while visiting CNN if I had inadvertantly gone to The Onion instead.


05 March 2004

Travels with Jimmy

Since I am on a strict non-political diet for the next few days, I have been thinking of what I could possibly write about.  Baseball is no good; once the spring training exhibition games start I try to ignore everything about the sport until Opening Day lest I go batty with anticipation (my blood pressure just spiked even writing that sentence).  There are no other sports in this town worth writing about right now, so that's out too.  I could write about my job.  HA!  And I can't even say "nephew" right now...

I've spent a ton of time traveling by myself throughout this country in the last two years, and I have experienced a few things that I think are worth sharing.  So my focus here for the forseeable future will be recapping ten moments from the road.

Whenever I get around to it...in no particular order.

Hit me baby one more time!

In the state of Illinois the law requires that all political candidates be certified for placement on the ballot 67 days before the November election.  Why is this relevant?  Because with the GOP delaying their convention until September in New York City so that they can sponge off the memory of 9/11, President Bush's official nomination will fall after that deadline.  The possibility exists that Bush will not be listed on the ballot and anyone who wanted to vote for him here in Illinois would have to write him in.

This is probably not that big of a deal.  I think the GOP has written off Illinois already as a winnable state.  However, similar laws exists in other states, and the President faces the same possibility, that he will not be listed on ballots in states where he will need to win if he wants to be reelected.  I am not up on the legislative activities of other states, but I do know that in Illinois there have been attempts to modify this law so that the deadline is extended to a time beyond the GOP convention.  So far the measures have been defeated because of extra riders that representatives have tried to add to the assorted bills presented that would change this law.  It will be changed eventually though, I predict.

Realistically I don't expect there to be a single state that does not have the President listed on its ballot on Election Day.  I'm sure that all state governments will have compromised their laws to allow him on the ballot, and quite honestly, he should be on the ballot.  The thought of an incumbent president not being on the ballot because of a obscure law seems ridiculous, even if it is GW.

Still, I hope the possibility that Bush will not be on some ballots make the powers of the GOP squirm.  It's the least they deserve for once again insulting our intelligence by trying to pass on their 9/11 game as an unavoidable time conflict.  They deserve to get ripped on this, and I hope the democrats take advantage of this big lob they have been given and smash it back.

And I'm thinking I should take a break from the political spectrum for a bit, so I will.  No politics in this for the rest of the week.

Here I go again

I am so cynical, especially when it comes to the GOP.  Really, I know that I appear to be so harsh on them, but they just make it so easy, you know?  Every time I think that I need to focus on something else lest my ISP suddenly "disappear", I discover something else about the conservatives that I just can't help opining on.

In continuation of the reaction of people to the presence of images of 9/11 in the President's first advertisements I say this: you ain't seen nothing yet.  Just wait until the Republican National Convention.  Since the GOP is the incumbent party in the White House, their convention will be second this year, after the Democrats meet in Boston in late July.  Traditionally the conventions are a few weeks apart.  However this year they are five weeks apart.

Why?  So the GOP can have their convention in September.  In New York City.

Their "official" reason for the gap is that the Summer Olympics in Athens take place in mid-August.  How convenient that the Olympiad was set up in such a way to force the Republicans to meet in September, when they just happened to be meeting in NYC.  I'm sure the powers that be considered the potential inappropriateness of the timing of the event being so close to 9/11, but then I am sure that a great deal of Republican delegates are also US Olympic athletes and thus would not be able to attend the convention.

Of course I find this disgusting.  Why doesn't the GOP tap dance all over Ground Zero while they are at it?  The thing is, it's a brilliant political move when you think about it.  Who cares about decorum?  What does taste matter?  There will be many undecided voters still in September, so why not have the subliminal message of 9/11 present during the entire convention?  That's politics.

It's not like I expect the Democratic convention to be free of windbags and overkill, of course, but I just cannot see them doing the same thing if Al Gore was president instead.  No way.  They'd show a little more respect.  As it is, the GOP convention will be a mixture of religion, Rudy Guliani, and repeated attempts to remind us that we should be scared to death yet safe in the rocking arms of George W.

See the next entry for an interesting twist to this timing.

04 March 2004

To 9/11 or not to 9/11?

Items like this have me starting to believe that the President is well on his way to adding a chapter to his father's book "How to Blow an Election as an Incumbent President That You Really Should Win Going Away."

It should be perfectly acceptable for the Bush team to reference the success that the administration has had in the "war on terror."  It is and should be an issue in the election because sitting Presidents are expected to run on their record, and Bush's response to 9/11 is without a doubt the highlight of his time in office.  However, it's not necessary to use any images of 9/11.  To do so hurts him in my opinion because it treats all of us like idiots.  If Bush airs advertisements that say that the country is safer from terrorism without shoing us 9/11, does he think that we won't remember it, that we won't know what he is talking about unless he shows us images of bent steel and flag covered stretchers?  I can't see anyone who plans to vote in November not being able to recall that time in our history.  It's still so fresh in our memory.

I've seen the ad mentioned in the CNN article, and it's not a big deal to me.  I think it's a mistake to show the 9/11 images, but I also know that it won't make a bit of difference in my decision for whom to cast my vote.  But I do think it has the potential to hurt the President, because it will definitely upset some undecided voters.  Yet because the Bush team has shown a tendency to not back down from any decisions they have made, I expect to see those images in ads thrughout the election. 

And on an added note, remember that new campaign laws require a candidate to either appear or lend his voice to an end infoming viewers that they approve of the message contained in the ad.  Up until this ad, I had not seen one where the candidate gave this disclaimer at the beginning, but Bush does in this one.  I have mentioned before that I cannot wait to see truly vicious negative ads where the candidate has to say that they approved of the ad right after portraying their opponent as a poisonous snake.  Obviously, the spin doctors have fretted about this, and I bet the front running approval message becomes the rage from this point forward.


03 March 2004

In my dreams

I cannot decide whether or not this is a good idea.  Bill Clinton as John Kerry's running mate?  How seriously are we supposed to take this?  I am fairly new to the world of the New York Times and am thus unaware if they ever use their opinion pages for satire.

Unapologetically, I am a huge Clinton fan.  I think his was the greatest presidency of my lifetime.  All rabid Reagan fans who are screaming in agony right now can at least relax with the knowledge that given who currently occupies the Oval Office, I no longer consider Ronald Wilson the worst president of my life.

But back to this idea: I doubt Kerry would even consider this.  Everyone knows that the presidency is all about power.  There's no more powerful position on this Earth.  Why would Kerry want a VP who craves power as much as he has, who probably misses it every single day?  And imagine the GOP commercials that we'd see during the campaign!  There'd be more mud than there was at Woodstock '99.

The 22nd amendment to the Constitution does not allow anyone to be elected President more than twice, but it says nothing about inheriting the job, though I imagine the Republicans would call for Constitutional change again.  The more I think about this, the more I want to see it, just for the reaction of the GOP.

Kerry's running mate will be John Edwards, Bill Richardson, or Wesley Clark.  It has to be someone  few notches below him in standing so that if he is elected he will not be overshadowed.  For that reason, you can eliminate Hillary Clinton as well.

In my utopian world of completely honest politicians who care for nothing else than the welfare of all the people that they would represent, a Kerry/Clinton ticket would be ideal.  Alas, I am always snapped back to reality.  Bring it on, boys.

Nephew moratorium

I hereby resolve not to write about my nephew again until he turns 21, lest I be further accused of overkill.

No embarrassment intended, of course.

Happy 18th Birthday, Brian Hastings

My sister Meg and her family came up to Chicago this weekend for the purpose of celebrating her son's birthday.  Brian is my only nephew.  I was 18 when he was born, and I had no idea what it was going to be like with a baby in the house.  There was some anticipation, of course, but I did not imagine that I would do much more than try to teach the kid weird noises when it reached a certain age.

I remember the phone ringing early in the morning on February 28, 1986 and my sister saying four words that changed my life: "you have a nephew."  I was hooked the first time I saw him, through the glass to the maternity ward in the hospital, and I soon realized that this was going to be a different experience from anything I had ever been through.

He's 18 now.  I feel old.  I really do.  It's not possible that 18 years have gone by.  Brian is a world-class human being.  I have never met a kid so thoughtful, helpful and unselfish.  I think about him when he was seven and insisted on going to the store himself to pick out flowers on his own for Mother's Day, or when he was leery of going off the high diving board at the pool but did so shortly after his great grandmother died when he was nine.  The first thing he said when he got out of the water was "I did it for Grandma Grace."  I could fill up many more entries just with the recollections of wonderful things he has said and done.

My nephew is a credit to his parents, my parents, his sister and everyone who has spent some time with him.  Brian has learned a lot from a great deal of people.  I have been fortunate to do a lot of fun things with him, from going to baseball games in different parts of the country, introducing him to golf, and winning the World Cup from him in FIFA soccer on Nintendo (he is especially touchy about that...), and in every one of those and countless other events, he has taught me something with the way he behaves.  He has been a gentleman from the day he was born.

I get frustated when I hear people complain that the kids of today have no direction, that they are lost.  I know that this is not true.  There have to be a lot of other kids out there like Brian.  I am hopeful for the future of this world knowing that there are others out there like him.

My nephew is the son that I have never had but hope to God I do someday.

Who needs an actual award?

If I were an actor, I don't think I would ever fret about winning an Academy Award.  I would just want to get nominated.  Who needs a a gold statue on the mantle compared to this stuff?

I refrained from making Oscar picks this year because I saw almost none of the films.  I'm sure "Lord of the Rings deserved every one of the 12,456 awards that it won, but I can't sit through three hour movies, so I did not see it.  The only movies I saw were "Seasbiscuit" and "Lost in Translation"; both were good films.  I'm bummed that Bill Murray did not win solely because I think his acceptance speech would have been brilliant (and certainly better than anyone other winner, my goodness, that was the most boring show I have ever seen), but I can't say that Sean Penn did not deserve to win.

I can say this: I don't ever want to see Billy Crystal's breasts again.  I think 99% of the people watching would have understood the joke of Crystal inserting himself into "Something's Gotta Give" if they just would have shot him with bare shoulders.  That reminds me of the scene in "Forget Paris" where he and Debra Winger are sitting by a fire.  She is fully clothed and wrapped in an open blanket, yet he is clad only in a pair of jeans.  He wasn't hitting the gym back then either.  I love Debra Winger.  She can do no wrong in my book, but even she should have yelled "Cut!" and walked off the set until Billy put a shirt on.

And Meg Ryan too.  She was actually smiling while lying next to a shirtless Crystal in "When Harry Met Sally."  Acting!


02 March 2004

Back from too long a break

I never intentionally ignore this journal.  I am always getting ideas for things to write about here, but the challenge is finding the time and the inspiration to do it.  I'm into this 24/7, but nothing is more frustrating than having a great idea in my mind that I just can't seem to express properly in written words.  That is my biggest obstacle here, making sure that whatever I post makes sense.  Sometimes the 2500 character limit is the culprit, though I have read that soon AOL will expand that to 25000.  As prolific as I feel sometimes, I doubt that I will ever challenge that limit.  Even I run of things to say sometimes.

Every single person I know or have read that is a success in the writing field says the same thing: you have to do it everyday, even if you don't have it at times.  I try to do it, even if I have nothing to say.  Obviously, some things don't make the cut.  I'd rather leave the journal blank for a day or two if it means sparing anyone who stops by of some cheesy limericks.  Such as this:

While Chester was cleaning the moat

He came upon his long lost pet goat

Perhaps something was amiss

With its last meal of Swiss

Which Chester had assumed would float