31 August 2004

I could have danced all night

My apologies in advance for the length!

I have said since the day I heard that the 2004 Republican National Convention was going to be held in New York City, delayed until the end of August/beginning of September, that it was going to be a virtual 9/11 festival.

But after tonight, the first of four in this GOP superior dance, even I am amazed at how far over the line this performance went.

I am curious, has ANYTHING else happened in this country since 9/11/2001?  Have there been any developments pertaining to the economy, jobs, taxes, etc.?  Have we been frozen in the events of that day?  Has everything else been just a dream?

After watching the parade of white males take the podium tonight (and if you think I am bashing them on not having any minorities on the podium, I have two words for you-Alan Keyes.  What did you expect?) and listening to what they had to say, I am almost convinced that nothing else in this election matters other than how the President reacted to 9/11.  Let's see, after making his way back to Washington in the late afternoon on 9/11, the President addressed the nation early that evening, then pledged all the support necessary to New York City.  He was there, he met with the people working search and rescue, he spoke at a National Memorial Service, and about four weeks later, he authorized the bombing of Afghanistan.

Let's say that the 527 votes that determined Florida went the other way, and that Al Gore was President on 9/11.  What would he have done?  Well, first, obviously, he would have said that he was the original author of "My Pet Goat" and he would have taken credit for inventing terrorism.  Then he would have proposed building a "lockbox" around New York City.  Then he would have raised taxes(twice).  Finally, instead of invading Afghanistan and overthrowing the Taliban, he would have invited them to become full members of the United Nations, so we could "work things out" there.  Oh, and then he would raise taxes again (twice).

Honestly, is there anyone out there who believes that if anyone else had been President on 9/11, that his or her reaction up until the invasion of Afghanistan would have been any different?  I would love to hear anyone not named Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter or Gingrich tell me why.

But I digress, let's take a look at what tonight's three main speakers had to say, shall we?

1. John McCain.  Oh John.  Why?  Why?  Why?  I thought you were really different John, but it turns out you are like all the rest.

I'm serious about that.  I had a lot of respect for John McCain, they way he has handled himself in the public eye since most of America came to know him around the race for the GOP nomination in 2000.  Most clear thinking people believe that he was the victim of one of the ugliest attacks in recent political history.  After he won the New Hampshire primary in 2000, McCain built a marginal lead in the polls leading up to the South Carolina primary.  If McCain won SC, Bush's campaign would have been dead in the water.  So Bush did two things: first, he made a much publicized appearance at Bob Jones University, which is an institution that practices racial discrimination but hides it under the thin veil of christianity.  Second, he had his attack dogs vivisect McCain.  Scores of phone calls were placed to voters in SC by people working for the Bush campaign.  These calls were made to get voters opinion on just one question: "How do you feel about John McCain having a biracial child?"  Did they mention that, by the way, McCain did not have  biracial child?  Of course not.  Though the question was asked, no one really cared about the answer.  McCain lost SC and he lost the nomination.  He was no friend of Bush during the first three years of this administration.  And he was tolerant of both parties, many times calling for rational thought and refusing to play partisan games.

Apparently, they are all friends now.  Why, John McCain even made reference to a "disingenous filmmaker" tonight.  The John McCain that I had grown to respect would have ignored Michael Moore, but he would have known that Moore is not all that relevant to intelligent voters.

I don't know what McCain is thinking.  He is up for re-election to the Senate this year, but he doesn't need help from the GOP because he is well-liked in Arizona.  That race will surely be no contest.  Maybe he is gearing up for another shot at the presidency in 2008.  Whether or not Bush is re-elected, the GOP nomination in 2008 will be up for grabs.  McCain will be 70 by then, but perhaps he has decided that he still wants to be President, even after he has said in the past that he will not run again.  What else could it be?  Why would he suck up to the man that he should have the most contempt for?  What does he possibly have to lose?

I am extremely disappointed in the man.  He had me convinced that he was as close to a true independent thinker as we had anywhere in American politics.  Sadly, he has proven me wrong during this last month.

2. Bernard Kerik.  Recognize this name?  I didn't recall who he was until I saw him on stage tonight.  Kerik was the chief of the NYPD on 9/11.  That, of course, makes him a political expert who is savy enough to appear at the convention and extoll the virtues of the President (and I am going to beat Michael Phelps in all the swimming events at the Beijing Olympics in 2008).  Kerik was rich tonight.  His best line was:

"As I think about his leadership, I think of the courage it took for our commander in chief to land on an airstrip in the dark of night, a world away, to be with our troops on Thanksgiving."

And carry around a fake turkey made of polystyrene on a tray, but that is another story.  And who knew that you could land a plane at night?  Kerik also compared Bush going to Baghdad to how he was there for New York in the aftermath of 9/11.  He's right, if you concentrate on symbols.  Who can forget GW standing on top of the rubble of the WTC, bullhorn in hand, letting the people of the world know that the terrorists responsible would soon be hearing from us?  As much as I think he is not fit to be President, that was a "Presidential" moment.

And so is walking around a mess tent carrying a fake turkey after you flew halfway around the world.  Hey, I've had jet lag, and let me tell you something, your strength disappears like that (I am snapping my fingers).

3. Rudy Giuliani.  This man did a brilliant job as mayor of NYC after 9/11.  I can remember listening to him speak, when he said that the number of casualties where going to be "more than we can bear," and I could hear his heart breaking.  He loves that city, and he was in total shock at what had occured, but the most important thing to him was convincing everyone that life would be normal again, and soon.  He also went to about a million funerals (do ya think GW could take that hint and go to a soldier's funeral maybe?).  He was a stud.

Sadly, he is now nothing but a GOP shill.  Who knows what he is preparing for, a run for governor, Hillary's senate seat in 2006 or maybe even the GOP nomination in the 2008 presidential race.  He is obviously getting ready for something.  Why else would he be given the priviledge of being the last speaker on the first night of the convention?  Here's some of what St. Rudolph had to say:     

"President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is...John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision...President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts; and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often, even on important issues...President Bush will make certain that we are combating terrorism at the source, beyond our shores, so we can reduce the risk of having to confront it in the streets of New York, John Kerry's record of inconsistent positions on combating terrorism gives us no confidence he'll pursue such a determined course." 

I think it is pretty clear what this all means.  If John Kerry is elected President, he'll fend off terrorists...with waffles.  I only pray that we have enough syrup.  I can see the battle fields of Vermont as I write this...

And by the way, should you doubt my powers of transcription, feel free to check out the article I have been taking this information from.

The irony in this is that John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are the last two people that most traditional conservatives would want on that platform.  Both have serious disagreements with the core beliefs of the Republican platform.  About the only person traditionalists would hate to see more up there is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who just happens to have a prime time speaking role Tuesday!  Do you think he will be allowed to say anything about something else than 9/11?

Here's the deal: the GOP is tap dancing on the memory of the almost 3000 people who died on 9/11.  They think that if they parade some of the featured players from that day out on stage, we will all soil ourselves with fear that unless Bush is President that it will happen again.  They know that is all they have to run on.  If this election were about the economy, George would be facing the same fate as his father, one and done.  Don't let the door to the Oval Office hit you on the way out.

Here's a thought, what about the 30,000 people (mostly minorities) who have been killed by firearms since 9/11?  Or the people who have lost their jobs since then (Bush faces the real possibility of being the only President to have a net loss of jobs during a four year term), or the 40 million (40 FREAKING MILLION) people who have no health insurance? 

Can you do a little dance for them?  A little soft shoe for the issues and problems facing us in present time?

You've got such a big stage.  And so many worthy performers.


30 August 2004

It's a nice time to be me

Today I have been reflecting on some special things that have happened recently.

First, my nephew is back in town.  He is a college freshman now and goes to school in the city.  There was a backlog on housing, plus a nasty situation where an entire dormitory had to be shut down due to mold, so he is living at my mother's house for now.  He lived the first 13 years of his life there, and it is odd to see him back.  He's not a kid anymore.  All of my memories of him living in that house are of him as a child.

It's great to have him back though.  I feel like he has been paroled or something.  Now if I could just do something about his silly allegiance to the St. Louis Cardinals...

Second, some dear friends of ours threw an engagement party for us last Saturday night.  It was humbling, and I mean that in the nicest way possible, because it was amazing to realize that more than thirty people had gathered for the specific reason of celebrating Kristen and mine's April 2005 wedding.  I've been to my share of wedding celebrations, but it just hasn't fully sunk in yet that this is indeed happening to me, to us, that WE are the ones marrying this time.  It is surreal.  I remind myself that for a great deal of time I was convinced that marriage was not for me, and while I know that this is going to be the single greatest experience of my life, every once in a while a part of me wants to know why I changed my mind.

I can't answer that.  All I can say is that it is just our time.

It was just such an honor to see so many people genuinely happy for us at the party.  Everyone had words of congratulations, and I was particularly struck by three things that people wrote in cards that we received:

"All things that are meant to be together come together in their own time."

"Enjoy this time before your wedding-it is like no other."

"Two of our favorite people are about to become one of our favorite married couples."

I have never felt as fortunate to be alive as I do now, and it has nothing to do with me.  It's all about the people around me, and the kindness they show.  As I said before, it's humbling.  It really is.





24 August 2004

Explanation, please

Today, August 24, is a special day.  It's an anniversary of sorts.  It was on this day in 2002 that I walked away a free man.  Yep, two years ago I left the prison that was...my career.  I was a retail manager for a drug chain in Chicago, and I spent 11 years at it, 20 if you count the time I spent working for this company part-time while I was in high school and college.  I was good at it, but it drove me nuts.  I worked in a lot of wacky neighborhoods, chock full of wacky people.  It's a shame that I didn't have this journal then, because I surely would have entertained the masses with the things I saw and heard there.

Before I continue, I'd like to introduce you to my partner for the rest of this entry, the "disembodied voice of reason."  Say hi to the folks, DVoR.

Hey, how's everyone today?  How does this red look on me?

OK, so it has been two years since I've had a job...

Wait a tic, two YEARS?  You haven't worked in two years?  You're 37!  That means you were 35 when you quit, and you haven't worked since?  Obviously, you're not married...or is the job market that bad?

No, I'm not married, not yet, that's next April, and I have no idea how the job market is, aside from what others tell me.  I was lucky enough to own a nice piece of real estate that was very much in demand, so when I decided to quit my job, I sold it.  I've been living off that since then.  But I always knew than this was a sabatical, not a retirement, and that I would have to go back to work someday.

OK, so if I have this right, you left a secure job in this economy, sold your house and moved into an apartment (would we call that "trading down"?).  What have you done since then?

Ah, but the question should be "what haven't you done?"  But let me answer your first question, the one about trading down.  I lived in a great house, but it was small, and old, and it was going to cost me a lot of money to continue to live there.  I would have had to replace the plumbing for starters, and did I mention having to put in a new furnace for the last three months that I lived there?  I'm still a little sensitive about that one.  As much as I loved that house, it wasn't worth as much as the property was.  It hurt to see it torn down, but it was the right thing for me to do.

But let me ask you something, DVoR, have you ever been tired of being the voice of reason?  Felt like you've accomplished everything you can in your field?  Dreaded the prospect of another day reasoning with people?

Those are all emotions that I am incapable of feeling.

Lucky you.  I felt all those things, along with knowing that I had gone as far as I would with my company.  The writing was on the wall.  I was burned out.

Is that all?

Mostly, except that my father had recently died, and I was incredibly sad.  I used to think that his death had nothing to do with my decision to leave my job, that instead I was "seizing the day," but as I look back, I realize that losing my father was probably the number one thing that caused me to quit.  My life just wasn't the same anymore, and I wanted it to change.

OK, I asked a while ago what you have been doing since then, what this "sabatical" has been about.

Yeah, sorry, I got a little long winded there.  First, I just wanted to recharge my batteries, get away from the daily grind and decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  And the best way for me to do that was to travel, so I got into my car and drove.  And drove.  And drove.  In the last two years I've put over 35,000 miles on my car.

What do you drive?  A Sherman tank?

A 1998 Ford Escort.  I love that car.  It's given me no trouble at all.  Anyway, I've been all over the US.  My first jaunt was to New England in the fall of 2002, my last was a baseball road trip to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati this past July.  I've been north, south, east and west.  I've been to 42 states in 24 months.  I've been to most of the major cities in this country.  And did most of it by myself.  All I need is the open road, some music and a map, and I'm set.

Any speeding tickets?

Yeah, a few, but I expected that.  I'm happier to report no major breakdowns or accidents.

What was the best drive?

Hard to say.  Nothing beats driving through the Rocky Mountains, and I love the diversity in this country, from mountains to plains to sea, but I have to say my favorite drive was my first, to New England.  I'll never forget the sight of western New York state, with the leaves changing colors on the trees along the hills, looking like a kid ate a whole jar of gum drops and then threw up.  I can't say I've been anywhere that I didn't like.

You haven't spent every moment of the last two years on the road, so what have you done while you were in Chicago?

Read mostly, and worked on my writing.  And spending time with Kristen, my fiance.  We met in April 2003.

Aha!  So you met the woman that you are going to marry AFTER you quit your job with no other job lined up!  Surely you regret doing that.  And doesn't she think it's a little strange that you haven't worked a single day in your relationship?

Of course she does, but she knows what the future is going to be like, and it ain't going to be like this.  And there is no way I would have met her if I was still working in retail.  I would not have taken the chance that resulted in our meeting.  I'd still be by myself if I hadn't quit that job.

Look, I've got other people to counsel here, and frankly I don't see where all this is going.  Can we wrap this thing up?

Sure.  I guess all of this is leading up to this proclamation:

'Tis time I got a job!

I want to be a writer, but I have found that it is an incredibly hard field to break through in.  So that means that I will have to do something else for a while until I get in.  Retail is out, unless I decide to work in a bookstore, but there is no way I am going to be a retail manager ever again.  That part of my life is over.  I have also come to realize that I am not a businessman.  I don't have a knack for financials, stocks or numbers.  I will not be sitting in an executive suite anytime soon.  That leaves me limited to things like teaching or writing.  Who knows?  I have given only a token effort to a career search up until now.  But I want to go back to work and find what it is I will be doing for the rest of my life. 

I think that while you might be happy with your life now, in ten years or so you are going to wish that you kept working and saved your money from selling your house.  Families are expensive.

You don't understand.  Without this break, there is no way that I would be undertaking the step of getting married and eventually starting a family.  I wasn't that type of person before all of this.  I had to change my life to be able to do this.  I am incredibly lucky to have had this opportunity, because if I hadn't, I would have kicked myself a few years later knowing that I had the chance to do it and didn't. 

I still don't get.

And you never will, my DVoR friend, because you aren't me.  I knew that I had to do this, and so I did.  I had no idea what things would be like in two years, and I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to be in the situation that I am in today, with a fiance excited to start a brand new life with me, and the support of my family and friends.  But if at this point I found myself alone and with no idea what I wanted to do, it still would have been better than what I was doing before, because I was settling, settling for a life that was not me, that was not supposed to be.

In my mind, money and the things it brings are overrated.  Being happy with who you are and what you have achieved are not.

And I have absolutely no regrets!

How long til 2006? And where the hell is Turin?

I'm not much of a fan of the Summer Olympics.  I just can't get into most of the competition.  Gymnastics, track and field, swimming-these were all things that I was horrible at as a kid and thus I have no real desire to watch.  Don't get me wrong, I am impressed as can be at the accomplishments of the athletes at the games, but I just don't have the interest to watch most of it.

The Winter games are another story.  I am a junkie for the Winter Olympics.  In 2002, I had a horrible case of the flu and could do nothing for the better part of a week.  Thankfully, it was also during the Salt Lake games.  I think I saw every minute broadcast of the second week of those games.  It made sweating through those 104 degree fevers just a bit more managable.

I see the Men's basketball team is still alive for the gold medal.

I have to admit that I am rooting big time for this team to lose.  The US Men's Olympic Basketball Team is a microcosm of why I have come to despise basketball.  It wasn't always this way.  I live in Chicago and fondly remember the 90's, when the Bulls won six NBA titles behind Michael Jordan.  I went to college at the University of Iowa, one of the best places in the Midwest to watch basketball.  I used to be a 6 on the basketball junkie scale.  Not anymore.

First, there's no way professionals belong on the Olympic team.  What's the average NBA salary these days, four million per year?  What does anyone making that kind of money going to do with a gold, silver or bronze medal?  And if you pay attention to the prevailing attitudes that permeate the NBA these days (think Shaq vs. Kobe), those no way anyone can be the "I just want to win for my country" line.  Put amateurs back into the games.  It builds character.

I can't stand the NBA anymore because it is no longer a team game.  Everyone wants to get paid, and then they want to go out and beat five players on the opposing team by themselves.  And every basket has to be a slam.  No one can shoot anymore.  Ask the Lithuanians about that one.  I was 12 before I can remember any college player leaving school early to go into the NBA draft, and that was only because it was Magic Johnson.  Now it is a bigger story if a player stays all four years in college before going pro, if he bothers to go to college at all.  Why should he?  There's a bevy of teenagers in the NBA who are making millions of dollars per year and have no idea how to play the pro game.  They just sit on the bench and collect their money. 

Ah, you say, but what about guys like LeBron James?  Well, for every LeBron James there are about ten Ronnie Fields, guys who think they will be stars in the pros and don't have to go to school, and they never make it.  You never hear from them again.  And the league doesn't care.

The college game is ruined for me as well because no one sticks around anymore.  The challenege used to be to build a team around players that you'd have for four years.  When I was a freshman at Iowa the basketball team had six standout seniors, players that had been together for three previous years, played well together, and thus had a great last season.  Something like that would not happen today, because they all would have left school early.

I get the impression that those who are blessed enough to have the talent to play this particular game professionally do not appreciate what it is they have, but rather they expect to be rewarded just for who they are, not what they do.  And that's a shame, because I remember things like watching the Bulls mount a comeback from 15 points down to beat Portland for the 1992 NBA crown, or the Hawkeyes smacking the Illini at Carver Arena and I know that I won't feel like that again, because instead of evolving, the game has devolved (if that is indeed a word.)

So pardon me if I am rooting for Spain in the quarterfinals.  Then maybe the first step that needs to be taken, of putting college players back on the Olympic team, will occur.  Then the NBA and the NCAA can work out an age limit agreement for going pro, and I can start getting into it again.


My kingdom for a bar of soap

Republicans are slime.

My apologies for making such a blanket statement.  I know better.  Not all Republicans are slime, nor is all slime Republican.

I'm just a little bit cranky after reading the front page of Sunday's Chicago Tribune.  One of the editors, William Rood, happened to serve with John Kerry during the infamous Swift Boat days.  Rood has stayed silent for 35 years regarding Vietnam, refusing many requests for interviews, but for yesterday's paper, he broke his silence.

It's a fascinating story.  I'm not going to recount here, but you can read it for yourself if you like.

The Tribune is one of the more conservative papers out there, so I'd guess that Rood himself might lean towards the right, however, he's obviously tired of all the mud being tossed toward John Kerry's way about his service in Vietnam.  Reading his accouint of the events that earned Kerry the Silver Star, it's obvious that the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" are anything but truthful.

If you like Kerry, you don't believe these guys.  If you like Bush, you think they preach the Gospel. 

Personally, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth disgust me.  They use their status as verterans to hide behind the hatchets that are Republican politics these days.  I found it interesting that many of these people have ties to prior Bush campaigns.  We used to accuse the Soviets of pushing propaganda back in the heyday of the Cold War, but the tactics of the GOP put TASS to shame.

And Bob Dole lost points with me by mocking Kerry's purple hearts.  Maybe Kerry needs to carry a pencil in his fist from now on.

Take a look at the homepage of John Kerry's campaign.  Then take a look at the homepage of President Bush's campaign.  The differences in tone are staggering.  Kerry's website focuses on his campaign, what he wants to do for America, and features articles and video of his campaign visits.  You have to go 3/4 of the way down the page until you see any mention of his opponent, a feature entitled "Bush-Cheney: wrong for America."

In contrast, the President's homepage is full of Kerry-bashing.  There's the "John Kerry Flip-Flop Olympics" and the "John Kerry Gas Tax Calculator", along with video of ads running on television currently that attack Kerry and mention NOTHING about the accomplishments of the President.  You have to get halfway down the page until you see anything that touts the administration that has run this country for the last four years.

It's a striking difference.  The Republicans would rather tell us why we should not vote for their opponent instead of telling us why we should vote for them.  The negativity borders on obscene.

The Democratic convention in Boston last month stayed away from negative issues and focused instead on their own party.

Don't bet on the same when the GOP meets in New York at the end of the month.  When they aren't exploiting 9/11, they'll be posturing about the dangers of a democratic adminsitration instead of praising their own.

Bet on it.  And don't forget the Pepto-Bismol. 

20 August 2004

Warning: blatant self-promotion

It's been one full year since AOL introduced its journals, though mine has only been around for seven months. 

What's my favorite entry?  Good question (gotta follow the link, folks, I just can't put it out there...); I am tempted to say that I can't choose just one, but there are times in life when you have to color inside the lines, so I will do my best.  I will, however, take the opportunity to break it down into categories before I choose "just one."

Travel: my dip in the San Antonio Riverwalk

Sports: dealing with cell phones at Wrigley Field (most of this entry appeared in the Chicago Tribune a week or so after I wrote it, though they cut the pudding-cam reference)

Politics: what those helicopters meant

Family: thoughts about February 7 and June 8

In my eyes, those are all well-written pieces, times that I have found perfect ways to convey what I feel.  It's something that I struggle with every time I try to update this.  However, I can't say that any of those entries are my favorite.  Nope, just some blatant self-promotion, really.

My all time favorite entry is about two cups of coffee

And it was not that difficult a choice.

Last week, we were supposed to share what we thought was our favorite entry from someone else's journal, and I chose not to participate, because I could not see myself singling out just one.  I get an incredible amount of pleasure reading the journals of others, especially the ones that I have listed on the left side of the front page of my journal (though there are many, many more).  It's hard to put yourself out there and let others see you in this context.  Everyone who does this deserves credit for taking that chance.

19 August 2004

This needs a second coat

I know it doesn't seem like it, since I have not written much in the last three weeks, but this journal has been on my mind a lot.  I have a lot of things that I want to write about, from my trip to Europe, the Cubs, how ridiulous the Senate race here in Illinois has become, and other stuff, but I've been busy and have had neither the time nor inspiration to write.  I'll get to that stuff eventually.

I'm on a home improvement deadline here; there's a big social event happening this Sunday, and I promised waaaaaaaay back in April that I would paint the family room sometime this summer.  The room needs to be done before the weekend.  I am an excellent painter (my humble opinion, of course) but the problem is I am also a very slow painter.  I want to do it right, so I take my time.  Bottom line is when I am done, it looks great, but it takes me forever to do it.  Thus, I will never do this for a living.  I've painted six rooms in two different homes this summer and have spent a long time doing it.  But it looks great.

Something happened to me today that has made me think about fate, whether it exists (I think it does) and whether it is random or does it intentionally mess with me.   I was driving someplace today when Manfred Mann's "I Came For You" played on the radio station I was listening to.  I remember that song when it was released sometime in the late 70's and how much I liked it, and as I heard it today, it occurred to me that it had probably been at least fifteen years since I had last heard it. 

I also recalled that Bruce Springsteen had recorded a version of that song first that I wasn't as fond of, and that it had been about twenty years since I had heard that particular song.

About two hours later, when I was painting with the radio on in the background set to a different station than what I was listening to in the car earlier, I heard the Springsteen "I Came For You."

So two versions of the same song that I had not heard for a cumulative 35 years (estimated) play within 120 minutes on the same day.  Coincidence?  Probably, but there is a part of me that thinks that fate knew my reaction to hearing the first song and decided to have a little fun with me by making sure I heard the other version today as well.  When you have hours to yourself immersed in a project, you can't help but think about things like that.

This isn't the first time I have experienced something like this.  It's happened a lot.  The two I think of the most are these:

(And yes, I realize that I have told these stories a lot (not in this blog though) so if you are one of the many people I am repeating this to again, just humor me, OK?  You know who you are.)

1. About ten years ago I went shopping for CD's and bought 2-"Duran Duran" by (surprisingly) Duran Duran (it was their first album in a while, the one with "Ordinary World" on it) and "The Best of the Velvet Underground" by (surprise) The Velvet Underground (I had a Lou Reed phase going then).  I like to listen to CDs on random shuffle, six at a time, so I never know what song I am going to hear or by who.  The first time I listened to these two CDs, I did just that, played them with four others in the stereo.  The very first song played was "Femme Fatale" from the Duran Duran CD, not a great song, a little long winded and gloomy, but not bad.  That song ended and I heard the player skip over to another CD, and soon the next song began, which was..."Femme Fatale" by The Velvet Underground.  I had never heard that particular song before (and more than one person has asked me how I could be considered a fan of The VU and never heard it, but it's true) and obviously when I heard Duran Duran sing it first I thought it was an original of theirs, but it turns out they remade the Velvet Underground version instead.

Again, coincidence?  Probably, but think how random all that was.  I chose to buy that particular Duran Duran CD, then that VU CD, and then out of six discs with seventy or so total songs on them, those two, the same songs are played first, back to back.  It's hard for me not to believe that fate, seeing that I had that Duran Duran CD in my hand to buy, decided to have a little fun with me and drove me to buy the Velvet Underground that day as well.

2. When I was in college we used to frequent a bar called The Deadwood.  It was a smokey and dark hangout, and odds were always in your favor of hearing the Grateful Dead on the jukebox there.  It was an out of place bar for Iowa City, but that's a different story.  The men's room at this place was full of graffiti.  One night during the spring I was in the bar with a group of friends when I went into the restroom.  While standing at thecommode attending to my business I felt a sneeze coming on, and for some reason I turned my head to the right to do so.  I am a violent sneezer, and I jerked my head down a bit during this sneeze.  When I opened my eyes, I was facing the wall and directly in front of me someone had wrote very small, in pencil, "God Bless you Jim."  And I can tell you that of the thousand or so times I have sneezed in my life, that is probably the only one I remember anything about.  So is that fate knowing that is written there, and messing with me again?  How could it not be?

I love stories like these because they reaffirm to me how mysterious everything about life is, how none of us can ever be sure just what the hell is really going on, and how every day can and will bring something new to you that you never knew before.  We wind up answering questions with questions, and it keeps going and going, if we let it.

It beats watching paint dry.


13 August 2004

It's wet here folks, now back to you

I know I need to write about my trip to Europe, but since I came back late Sunday, I've been busy trying to catch up on things I should have done before I left, and immersed in new projects that need to be done.  I'll get to it eventually when I can sit down uninterrupted.  It was a great journey.

I'm taking a break from painting at the moment, and the first thing I see on CNN is some drenched reporter standing on a beach in southwest Florida as Hurricane Charley blows in.  Two questions: am I getting better coverage of this storm because someone is actually standing out there in the middle of it?  I keep waiting to see a 2x4 blow by and smack the poor guy in the head.  And what's with the funky spelling of the storm itself?  I don't know many people named Charlie, and I don't know anyone that spells it with a "y" instead of "ie" on the end.  They spelled Bonnie, the storm before this, correctly.

I have always wanted a tropical storm/hurricane to be named "Jim", though I figure that they would go with "James" instead.  Alas, it can't happen this year, because J falls into the female name category for 2004.  G does not, however, so perhaps the fine folks at the National Hurricane Society can christen the seventh storm of this year "Gym."

It would mean so much, fellas.

10 August 2004


Having just now regained my sense of smell after nine days in places that are actually having a summer but don't believe in air-conditioning, I am full of things to say.  However, my body still thinks that it is almost sunrise and I need to get to bed, so I will only tease for now:

Alan Keyes?  Could this story get any better?


I really, really want to know what a "public muster point" is.

Buckingham Palace is more like a fort.

The British need to start pampering themselves.  The Second World War ended a long time ago, baby.

Seven years of Espanol finally pay off.

'Tis good to be home.