27 November 2004

Thumbs up!

Even though I am in my late thirties, I still have to read the comics in the paper every day. In fact, most days I have to read them first, before I check out any other part of the paper.

This morning, there was a note from the Chicago Tribune where they run "Get Fuzzy" informing their readers that today's strip "did not meet their standards of taste" and that the strip printed today was a repeat.

Thanks to the wonders of the Interent, it was easy to find the strip that they chose not to run.

I had to read it a few times to decipher what it was that made this so "distasteful", and then I laughed.  I don't find it offensive at all.

I've seen much worse in other comics.  I'd love to know why the Trib decided that they couldn't print this.

Take a look at it and decide for yourself!

It sure doesn't seem like Saturday

1. How long do your Thanksgiving leftovers usually last, and at what's the first non-Thanksgiving item you begin to crave when you tire of turkey?  Just a few days, gone by the weekend.  I don't usually crave anything particular, though this year I find myself wanting to avoid anything with a neck...

2. Of the following, which would you most prefer to be located:
a) Interstate highway traffic jam
b) Slow-moving checkout line
c) Dentist's chair

I'll go with the traffic jam.  I can listen to music and still feel like I am in some semblance of control.  There's never an excuse for a slow checkout line, and I'd rather be just about anywhere else instead of in the dentist chair.

3. What is at the top of your personal Christmas gift wish list this year?  Books-I need my reading material for 2005.  Yeah, I know, I'm a dork.

4. What improvement would you most like to see added to AOL's Journal software?  To werds: spel cheker

5. What seasonal movies do you most look forward to this time of year?  "Scrooged" with Bill Murray, but one of the things I HATE about Christmas themed movies is that they have to have the obilgatory "happy ending."  For instance, the first 4/5 of "Elf" last year was hysterical, but then they had to ruin it by making sure it had a sappy ending so that it could be a "Christmas Classic."  Ugh.

Tara:  What is your favorite classic 80's video game? Tough to choose between Pacman, Ms. Pacman, or Asteroids.  Actually, I think I'd go with Zaxxon, but I was so terrible at it, so I'll choose Asteroids instead.

26 November 2004

Is that a neck in your turkey, or are you just glad to see me?

I would like to apologize to my mother in advance, for being unable to resist the urge to tell this story...

My fiance and I had Thanksgiving dinner at my mother's home this year, with the rest of my family.  My mother is an excellent cook and has prepared many wonderful holiday dinners throughout the years.  This year was no exception.

Wednesday afternoon I was home as Mom placed the frozen turkey in the sink to began preparations to cook it.  At one point as I was walking through the kitchen, I heard her say that something was missing.

I don't know anything about cooking turkeys.

I looked at the turkey in the sink.  Mom had removed two packages from inside, which I assumed to be giblets and something else, a liver maybe, since it was dark.  My mother and I then had the following exchange:

Mom:  Doesn't it look like it is missing something?

Me:  Um, the head?  I hear they usually get rid of it before they sell them.

Mom:  I mean from the inside.  There should be something else.

Me:  I don't know what's normally inside a turkey.

Mom:  It's male parts, it's missing it's male parts.

Me:  WHAT?

Mom:  The male parts of the turkey aren't inside like they usually are.

Me:  (Just now understanding what she is talking about)  I'm never eating turkey again...

As I said before, I know nothing about cooking turkeys.  I can identify the parts of the turkey after it is cooked, but I have no idea how it is packaged.  So I did a little research and found that when you buy a turkey, there is supposed to be a package inside it that contains the giblets and the liver, and also the turkey neck.  For all I knew before, I thought the neck was still attached and you just cut it off when you prepared the bird.  I don't even know what the point of including the neck is.

Then it hit me.

My mother, who later told me that she has been cooking turkeys for over 40 years, thought that the neck that is normally included inside the turkey was instead, um, "something else."

That something else being what puts the "Tom" in turkey. 

Upon further questioning, my mother, being the sport that she is, freely admitted that she has always thought that the turkey neck was not a neck.

This explains why the neck has never been part of a holiday meal in her house.

And why I will never not laugh at the sight of a turkey, live or dead, cooked or uncooked, again.



25 November 2004

I'm full

Just finished dinner.  I was a good boy and didn't stuff myself to capacity.  Of course, we still have not had dessert yet.

On this Thanksgiving, I only have one thing to be thankful for, that I am alive and breathing.  Every other thing, good or bad, that is part of my life don't mean a thing without oxygen.

This is a good day to be alive.

24 November 2004

I have a confession to make

I am hooked on "The Amazing Race."

I tend to believe that years from now, when people look back in television history and see the start of the 21st century as the birthplace of reality TV, there will be a lot of people making "what were they thinking?" faces.  That, and a lot of "well, that explains a LOT" gestures.  I'm no fan of reality TV for the simple reason that it bores me.  I'd much rather watch a crappy scripted show because at least there had to be some effort put into the thought of writing and creating it.  Actually, that isn't really true-I'd rather read a book or surf the Net in place of watching just about any TV.

I can think of maybe three reality shows that I have watched an episode of: the original "Survivor", the Australian Outback "Survivor", and "The Apprentice."  Every other reality show has had absolutely no appeal to me, so I've never seen them.  Not that I look down on those that watch reality TV.  Trust me, I waste far too much time in less serious pursuits, I confess.

The three shows I have watched an episode of all failed the "Fundamental Law of the Second Episode" test.  This law states that, all things being equal, the second episode of ANY show has to be different from the first, or else it loses my interest. 

Last Tuesday I was reading the paper and I saw an article for the premiere of "The Amazing Race 6" on CBS.  To demonstrate how out of touch I am with regards to reality TV, I was not aware that there had been amazing races 1,2,3,4, or 5.  I read the piece and saw that the show was beginning in Chicago, where I live, and ending in Iceland, where I spent four, well, amazing days in 1998.  At that point, something clicked: Chicago, Iceland, traveling, all things I loved, so I decided to give the show a shot.

(This reminds me that someday I have to write about the time that I was on Icelandic TV.  I am willing to wager that if I had a thousand people in a room and asked them to guess the scenario that found me on TV in Iceland, no one would come close.)

So I watched the premiere, and I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed recognizing the places in Chicago that I know like the back of my hand, and knowing that if you want to get to Reykjavik from Chicago, the fastest way is to fly to Minneapolis for an Icelandair connection.  I loved seeing the scenery of Iceland again, of knowing the places that I visited and how I'd love to see it again someday.  At the end of the show, I found myself much more enamored with the places that the people on the show had been to, much more than the people themselves.

Tonight, I put "The Amazing Race" to the test of the Fundamental Law of the Second Episode, and to my amazement, the show passed.  The contestants went from Iceland to Norway, and again, I found myself concentrating much more on the places instead of the people.  I couldn't even tell you about half of the people on this show.  I haven't paid attention to much of them.

I have had an intense desire to see the world for the last ten years or so, and have been so incredibly lucky to have actually done it, though I constantly want to do more.  I think that is why I like this show, because I identify with its premise, of wanting to go from one place to another, to be a "stranger in a strange land," and to see as much of what is out there as possible.  It has little to do with the people.  I admit that there are a few I have become attached to, but I am much more attached to the idea of going place to place.

I am envious of those that get to be on this show, and the feeling has nothing to do with the fact that two of them are going to be millionaires by the end.  I have envy because they have seen places I haven't, or are going to places I have before I get to do it again.  The money isn't important.  If I could give anybody on this show advice, I'd keep it this simple:

Slow down.

What's your hurry?

Sending the pros back to school

Even before the Detroit Doonybrook (by the way, is it acceptable to pronounce it "Dee-troit" instead of "Duh-troit?"  It sounds so much better that way; or is it supposed to be "Duh-twa?"  I need to know these things.  From where I am writing this I can spit into a suburb called "Des Plaines" which is pronounced like you are pointing out more than one airplane in the sky, yet when I was in college the capital of that particular state was "Des Moines", pronounced like the letter 'S' had never been invented.  Judges???)...

...where the hell was I?

Oh yes, even before the fight in Detroit last week, I was fed up with the NBA.  Have been for a while, but that is a rant for another time.  I much prefer the college game, and I was reminded of this Monday night, when I attended a college basketball game for the first time in a very long while.

My nephew goes to college in the city now, and has a job as a student manager for the men's basketball team at the University of Illinois-Chicago.  Last night was the season opener for the team, against Georgia Tech, the runner-up in the NCAA tournament last spring and the third ranked team in the country.  I was able to obtain a pair of tickets so a friend and I went to the game.  (Full disclosure-the tickets were freebies.)

Some of my fondest non-academic memories from my four years at the University of Iowa are from attending basketball games.  There are no major league sports franchises in Iowa, so people all over the state live and die with the major college sports.  Iowa has a great modern arena that sits close to 20,000 and is almost always sold out for home basketball games.  During my time there I was fortunate to see a lot of players that had exceptional talent and loved the game.  Most went on to productive professional careers as well.

I went to 60 or so games in four years, and have a lot of great memories of just about all of them.  I couldn't tell you how many games Iowa won or lost in my presence, but I could tell you how much fun every game was.

Monday night in Chicago, the arena was sold out.  UIC is a smaller school so only about 7500 people are needed for a full house.  Tech is a bigger, stronger and more talented team than UIC, yet the game was close throughout.  No team ever led by more than eight points, and for a majority of the game the margin was no more than four.

We were sitting at the top of the arena, and one of the things I love about college hoops is that if you are sitting in the balcony, you are really sitting in the balcony.  You have to watch yourself if you stand up so you don't smack your head on a beam.  When the place gets rocking, flakes of the fireproofing fall from the ceiling.  When you have to bend forward to see the scoreboard clearly, if you are lucky to be facing it at all, you know you're at a college game.

As I said, this game was close.  You could tell just by looking at the players.  They had this look on their face that said that winning this game was the most important thing in their lives.  No one was thinking to themselves "it's OK if we don't pull this out, 'cause I'm making $150,000 per game, win or lose..."; there was only one incentive to play hard, and that was to win.

At the end, with Tech leading 60-59, UIC had the ball and got it downcourt as the clock was about to expire.  One of the players got a great look at the basket and got off a shot just before the final horn.  It floated towards the basket; if it dropped through, UIC had the biggest win in its history.

It was not to be.  Tech won by a single point and survived to stay at the top of the rankings for another day, at least.

Immediately after the game, players from both teams met on the court.  There was no trash talk from the Tech players, and no hanging heads from UIC.  There were embraces, smiles, and handshakes.  Coaches from both sides complimented each other on their team's effort.  It was a supreme display of sportsmanship from two squads that left everything they had on the court.

Watching this, it was very clear that both schools are represented by outstanding student-athletes and coaches.  The players know that the coaches are in charge.  They know that they are being held accountable for their behavior.  They know that there is no player's union to fall back on.

After the game, my nephew said that he wished that last shot had fallen, because he wanted to see the student section empty onto the floor and celebrate the victory with the players.

I would have like to have seen that too.  Imagine a scene like that, players and fans together in a crowd.

And no one throwing punches. 

(I get to pimp my Iowa Hawkeyes here: They are in Hawaii for the Maui Classic.  Monday they upset #12 Louisville, Tuesday #13 Texas.  They play Wednesday night against #11 North Carolina for the championship.  Go Hawks.)

23 November 2004

Santa (Oprah?) baby

I was up late last night, waiting for the right time to go to sleep, and I was flipping through the channels.  Here in Chicago, the local ABC affiliate re-runs the Oprah Winfrey Show at 11 each night.  Since last night was Monday and there was a football game, the show was delayed about an hour.

Lucky me, at 12:30 I came upon Oprah's "Favorite Things" Christmas show, already in progress.  This is the spectacle that occurs every year in late November, where she spends an hour giving free advertising to things that she just can't live without.  Of course, Oprah being Oprah, she has to go the extra mile.  She gives one of each product she pimps on this show to each and every member of the studio audience.  The date of this show is always kept secret, so that the people who attend this particular show have no idea that they are about to hit the mother lode.

The only reason I mention this show is to describe the reaction of the audience as each "gift" is revealed.  From what I can see, I'd guess about 200 people are in the audience at an Oprah show.  They scream.  Man, do they scream.  It's obnoxious, embarrassing, and completely ridiculous.  It has to be heard to be believed.  You'd think these people are in the midst of a ten year losing streak and have had nothing good happen to them ever.

This is what I would like to see next year for the "favorite things" show: seat audiences in two different studios.  Only one will see the actual show.  At the exact same time that the people at that show are finding out what gift they are receiving next, pots of boiling oil will rain from the ceiling onto the other audience.

And if you are standing outside of both studios, you will not know which event is occurring where.

Have yourself a medieval little Christmas.

20 November 2004

One less bell to answer

Geez.  Did you see what happened in Motown Friday night? 

There's no one else I would like to be right now than the commissioner of the National Basketball Association.  As I sat in my office and watched the tape of whatever you'd like to call the display between the fans and players in Detroit Friday, I'd come to a quick and forceful decision.

I'd shut the damn league down.


Enough of overpaid, out of control athletes who can't control themselves on or off the court.  Enough of the players who make millions and millions of dollars, more money in a month than most of us will make in a decades, and then whine about the disrespect they get because they aren't paid more.  Enough of the arrogant atmosphere that has been prevalent in the league for the last seven years, that anything goes, that when a player does what he is paid to do, he will trash talk anyway.

But by shutting down the league, I'd accomplish more.  I'd also be saying enough of fans who are clueless as to how to behave in public, enough of fans who can't just have a beer or two, but have to drink enough until they get to the point where they take a play against there team personally.  Enough of the taunts, obscenities, everything. 

Enough of the league and the accepted thugery that it has become. 

Living in Chicago, I enjoyed the 1990's.  I will tell my kids about watching Michael Jordan play the way my father used to talk to me about watching Ted Williams.  But towards the end of the Bulls' phenomenal run, when I was working as a retail manager at two locations in the inner city and saw how people used something as trivial as a basketball game to riot, destroy, and rob, I let any and all feelings for the game go.  I haven't regretted it once.  The attitude of the league and the character of a majority of the players disgusts me.  It's the largest "me-first" conglomeration I have ever seen.

So after watching players from the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons go into the stands and fight with fans, and watching fans go onto the court to confront players, I'd say enough.  I'd announce that the league is shutting down until further notice, and then I'd resign, letting everyone know that I want nothing more to do with this stuff.

Of course, that's not going to happen.  People will get fined and suspended, but I will be stunned if anyone gets arrested, and by that I mean anyone who makes a ton of money playing pro ball.  I'm sure that a few spectators will face charges, and they will be deserved.  But when it's announced that players are facing suspensions and fines, there will be outcries from the union, and perhaps a comment or two about a family going hungry.

What there won't be is any contrition, because that environment doesn't call for it.  I suppose you might hear it, but don't believe it, because it doesn't exist.  It can't be sincere.

There are people in the NBA who should have played the final games of their career tonight.

I sure hope there's a whole lot of people out there who watched and/or bought tickets to their last NBA game tonight.


First? Guess not!

1. Other than news, sports, editorials and weather, which specific features or columns of the newspaper do you always read?  I read it all, though I will usually read the comics first.  I have to read every section of the paper.  Yeah, I know, there's something wrong with me.

2.  When do you normally do your Christmas shopping?  Have you started this year's, yet?  Do you intend to spend more, less or the same this year versus last year? Used to wait until Dec. 15 or so, but thanks to online shopping, I have started earlier these last few years.  I have about half the gifts for this year done, and I think we'll spend a little bit less this year than last.

3. You're having a true "TV Dinner," made by a classic character:  who would you rather have in the kitchen:
A) Aunt Bee from "The Andy Griffith Show"
B) Alice from "The Brady Bunch"
C) June from "Leave it to Beaver"
D) Edith from "All in the Family"
E) Claire from "The Cosby Show"

Edith.  Just hearing her voice would make it a good time.

4. What topic are you most sick of hearing about in J-Land? Not much.  I was more than a little bothered by the fact that someone fooled a ton of us into thinking he was something he wasn't, but I'm over it.  Not much about J-land bugs me.

5. What company is annoying you most with junk mail? Citibank keeps sending me credit card applications.  It's keeping my paper shredder busy.

Chantal:  What cheesy sitcom (from any era) most describes how you grew up? Your family, location, dynamics, details... Brady Bunch, definitely, until I was about 18.  We lived in the midwest vs California for them, but I felt as clueless as the people on that show.  I dressed better though.

19 November 2004

You think you know a shark

I freely admit that I am writing about this solely because I read about it on Andrew Sullivan's blog. 

I haven't seen Shark Tale yet, so I can't know for sure what exactly this article is referring to, but it certainly seems that the people at the American Family Association think this movie condones aquatic homosexuality.

I  always hear how extreme portions of the left are in this country, but I swear, I have never read anything as ridiculous and stupid as this.

The far right scares the hell out of me, and the fact that it isn't as far right as it used to be REALLY scares me.

And my political moratorium is over.  I can't wait until the end of the month anymore.  I am almost finished with Bill Clinton's book, I saw the cermonies at his library today, and the whole Tom DeLay situation makes my head hurt.  I can't stay away anymore.  I lasted over two weeks.  Give me a little credit.

16 November 2004

CSI: Madison Avenue

OK, I surrender.

I thought I could do it.

I called out David Bowie.

Queen, too.

I thought that I could keep up with the aging rock stars that sold their songs to ad agencies.  The rule: fine if you want to sell out, but the lyrics of the songs have to change to fit your decision.

Then in the middle of the summer, I saw an ad for C2, the new low-carb Coca-Cola product.  Apparently, when Mick and the boys in the Rolling Stones wrote "You Can't Always Get What You Want" three or four decades ago they were really telling us that sometime in the future, you, yes you, will be able to get all that great cola taste without all of those evil carbs.

Stunning.  I had no idea the Stones were that hard up for cash.  Those rumors about Keith Richards needing a daily blood transfusion must have been true...

I kept it in the back of my mind that I needed to create some new lyrics for the song, but just couldn't quite get around to it. 

Now it's too late.  What's the point?  Have you watched TV lately?  Every other commercial uses a song to schlep a product.

Last night, I watched "CSI: Miami."  In the hour that it was on, there were four different ad breaks.  I lost track of how many commercials there were actual songs in them.

Of course, I was watching the right show for it.  All three "CSI" shows have theme songs that were written and performed by The Who a long, long time ago.  The original "CSI" uses "Who Are You?"  for it's theme, which is kind of cute in a way, I suppose.  "Miami" uses "Won't Get Fooled Again" which makes absolutely no sense unless they want you to think that they screw up the cases the first time and have to go back and solve them, and "New York" uses "Baba O'Reilly," commonly referred to as "Teenage Wasteland."  If you can make the connection to that one, please let me know.  Perhaps the fine folks at the network are telling us Manhattan ain't the kind of place to raise your kids (in fact, it's cold as hell...)

Fortunately for CBS, The Who has been around for about forty years and has an extensive catalog of songs.  Giving person that I am,  I'd like to take this time to suggest which songs they use for  their newest "CSI" shows, which will be premiering continuously throughout the next decade:

CSI: Berkeley, "Magic Bus"

CSI: Atlantic City, "You Better You Bet"

CSI: Boca Raton, "My Generation"

CSI: Utah, "The Kids Are All Right"

CSI: Bavaria, "Squeeze Box" (It's a musical!)

CSI: Seattle, "I Can See for Miles and Miles" (It's a sit-com!)

CSI: Alabama, "Going Mobile" (tell me you don't get it...)

CSI: Alcatraz, "I'm Free"

CSI: Siberia, "Don't Let Go the Coat"

And my personal favorite...

CSI: Crawford, Texas "Another Tricky Day"


15 November 2004

You're gonna waste a lot of time on this

It's a simple game.

All you have to do is click in order of 1-15.

How does something as simple as this become so addictive?

Trust me, you'll want to do it again and again.  My best so far is 4.687 seconds.

13 November 2004

Songs in the key of me

Jennifer over at Random Ramblings mentioned in an entry a few days ago that her kindergarten-aged grandson called her to sing the "peanut" song to her.  She was a bit perplexed by the lyrics.

Last year, when my three year old niece started pre-school, she sang me a song about a peanut with slightly different lyrics than the one Jennifer's grandson sang:

"Peanut sittin' on the railroad track/His heart was all aflutter/Along came a train and smushed him flat/Oh oh, peanut butter"

Very, very cute.

But now, a year later, I have a billion questions:

How do we know he's a he?  Why is he sitting on the tracks?  Why's his heart "aflutter?"  Is he in love?  Thinking about Ms. Peanut?  Mr. Peanut?  Is this the tale of a peanut who experiences unrequited love? Decides to end it all by waiting on the tracks for the big sleep?  Or is he "aflutter" because someone loves him?  Is he aware of the approaching train?  Is this even about love?  Indeed, are peanuts even capable of love?  Is "aflutter" a substitue for "despondent" because it fits into the rhyme scheme?  Can peanuts feel emotion?  Are they alive when we break open their shell?  Do they prefer to be salted?  Are there cannibal peanuts?

I need to know, is this a tragedy of passion or the tale of a peanut not fully aware of his surroundings?

Sigh...we teach three year old kids songs like these with no idea of what it will do to the inquisitive (and deranged) minds of those they will sing it to.


Seis por Sabado

1. Who is the last house guest you invited into your home and was it a pleasant visit? Way back in August my three year old cousin spent a night with us, and it was a blast.  He is such a good kid! 

2.  Other than to work or school, where was the last place you drove? To the movies last night, to see "Bridget Jones 2-The Edge of Reason."  Two words: DON'T BOTHER

3. In terms of emergency supplies, how many of the following do you have in your home?  A) Candles  B) Fresh batteries  C) Containers of bottled water  Enough candles to light the world; lots of batteries, but freshness is no guaranteed; enough water to live a day or two.

4. You're invited to a pot-luck dinner:  what specialty do you offer to bring?  (It has to be something you can cook yourself, not something you bring from a store!)     
My presence would be so much better than anything I could possibly make (because I am a horrible cook, and modest too), but if you force me I'd bring a pasta dish of some type and pray nobody ate it.

5. Which of the following do you feel is the most true based on your own life experiences:
A) It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
B) The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
C) To have a friend, you must first be a friend.
D) Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
E) Never judge a book by its cover.
F) The tree of knowledge bears the noblest fruit.

E by far

Cherie:  We have all watched movies and TV shows that have inspired us to want to do what the characters in the show are doing, (doctors, lawyers, politicians, fire fighters, etc).  Has there ever been program that you watched that made you realize that the occupation of the characters was something you could NEVER become? Anything medical, anything military.  Guess I'm just a big wuss.

12 November 2004

Spam, spam, spam, spam, glorious spam, wonderful spam!

This is my lucky day.

It started off like any normal Friday-had a little breakfast, read the paper, and then checked my email.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this:

"You may be surprised to receive this strange letter from me. I am Mrs.Ivon Balder, the wife of Mr. John Balder of Zimbabwe.I got your address from an internet web site. After due consideration from your profile, I became aware and assured of your credibility to help me."

I'm flattered.  Zimbabwe?  Do you know Theresa Heinz-Kerry?  The letter continues:

"My husband was among the rich black farmers in Zimbabwe who were murdered in cold blood by the agent of the ruling government of president Robert Mugabe...my husband took me to Nigeria as if he foresaw the looming danger in Zimbabwe and deposited US$22,400,000.00 (twenty two million, four hundred thousand US dollars) with a security and financial company in Nigeria."

Wow.  That must have been some farm, Ivon.  What'd you raise there, geese that lay golden eggs?

"...my family has mandated me to seek assistance to transfer this money to a foreign account for investment purposes. Presently, I am residing in Nigeria as an asylum seeker. However, I cannot invest this money here in Nigeria because Zimbabwe and Nigeria are close countries and have almost the same political history. And with the financial laws of Nigeria, as an asylum seeker, I have no right to own or open a bank account in my name here in Nigeria."

I'm sorry, where are you in asylum again?

"...my entire life and family's future depends on this money. I shall be grateful if you can assist  me transfer this money out of Nigeria into your company or personal account for investment purposes as my next of kin and my Late husband's business partner."

Hey, hey, wait just a second, what's this "next of kin" thing?  Sounds a little funky to me.  I'm not looking for a sugar mama, Ivon.  Besides, I'm sure there are a few single US Senators who might be interested in you.

"I am prepared to offer you 20% of the total sum. Also, I have decided to use 5% of this money to settle any expenses you may incure during the process of this transfer. The balance I intended to invest in a profitable venture in your country or anywhere you may advice."

Hmm, I might have to rethink this.  25% of 22.4 million is over 5 million dollars.  I need a smart investment...what's the number to Halliburton again?

"The major thing I expect from you is absolute assurance that this money will be safe when transferred to your account."

I assure you, Mrs. Ivon Balder, you're money will be safe.  As safe as Harvey Fierstein in a red state.

"If this proposal is accepted by you, please reply urgently and get in touch with me so that I will then furnish you with more details. I will appreciate if you maintain the confidentiality of this matter because of the happenings in my country - Zimbabwe.
Yours sincerely
Ivon Balder[mrs]."

Points for the proper English way of addressing one as married (Mrs.)

Sadly, I have had to decline Mrs. Ivon Balder's offer, though it is incredibly tempting.  25 million dollars is a lot of money, think of all the things I could buy:  50 pieces of real estate in my town, a 1/20 share of the Cubs, or 250 great sports cars.

I could feed poor Latrell Sprewell's family for the next 2,000 years.

With 8.3 million cans of SPAM


11 November 2004

Show the ******* movie already

Today, November 11, is Veteran's Day.  The ABC network has planned a showing of "Saving Private Ryan" tonight.  Per the agreement that the network has with Steven Spielberg, ABC cannot make any cuts to the movie.  If they want to air it, it has to be shown unedited.

I suppose we should have seen this coming, but there are ABC affiliates in the nation refusing to air the movie tonight.

Why?  They are scared of the FCC.

"Saving Private Ryan" is quite a movie.  The first thirty minutes alone are incredibly intense.  When I saw it in the theater, there were people who got up and left before the D-Day landing scene was over.  They couldn't handle the gore.  Even writing about it now, it triggers a memory of feeling nauseous, watching the marines attempt to make their landing on Omaha Beach. 

I can recall two vivid emotions I felt as I watched this movie.  The first was awe, as I could not believe that a scripted movie scene could be done as realistically as this one was.  It was if I was at Normandy, watching live as this invasion took place.  The second emotion was pure shock, that someone would actually have to go through that.  I can't imagine being one of those soldiers, standing ready on the amphibious vessel, waiting for the go, and then watch as comrades start dropping from bullets as soon as the doors go down.

I've lived in times where war and combat have been things people told us about, at least until 1991.  Even then, when there was an actual war in my life, the number of casualties stayed low.  I'm stunned by 1,100 deaths in Iraq in the last eighteen months.  How could I have possibly understood the thousands and thousands of soldiers that died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, or the wars before them?

I think it is a great idea to show this movie unedited over free television on Veteran's Day.  It teaches us a great deal of lessons.  First, we need to remember the people who went before us and the unbelievable courage they had, the things they did to keep this country the place of freedom that it is.  Second, everyone should know and realize that war is hell.  It is important that future generations see this type of thing so that when they are responsible for society in their adult years, they do everything they can in their power to avoid such a situation.  War should always be a last resort.

Lastly, the movie can teach us individual lessons, depending on our family histories and what we know about history.

I am dumbstruck that those in control of television stations that have decided not to show this movie tonight don't know better.  Yes, there is violence, gore and profanity in the movie.  Welcome to reality.  "Golly!  Seems like they are shooting at us, those rotten guys..."

I fault the FCC here as well for not speaking up ahead of time and saying, look, there's a big difference bewteen a gratuitous boob shot during the Super Bowl and airing this movie.  We see the relevance, and we will not respond to complaints about content.  The article linked in this entry states that the FCC will not do that over fears of "censorship complaints."  Way to toe the line, boys and girls.

I felt the reaction to the Janet Jackson incident in Houston at the Super Bowl was overblown, though I understood why Joe Dad would be upset at watching the half time show with his young kids and then suddenly having to explain why her shirt was torn off.  No one knew it was coming.  This is different.  Knowing that the movie is being aired ahead of time and the circumstances around it lets people make an informed decision whether or not it is appropriate to watch.  I don't think any suit at a TV station is qualified to make that decision for the people in their community.

Can't we have any special events in this country anymore without having to go through a litany of ridiculous judgments by people who have no right to do so?  What has happened to the individual deciding what is best for them, and for their family?

There are rows upon rows of white crosses near Normandy, marking the graves of American soldiers who died there, during what a great deal of Americans believe to be this country's finest hour.  I have a hard time believing that any of those soldiers would support the decision to pre-empt the best recollection of what they went through that day because it's "too realistic."    

Their sacrifice deserves a little bit more reason, and a lot less hysteria.

Blech (no other way to put it)

I have this overall feeling of malaise when I think of writing, and I've had it for the last week or so, which explains the short, fun-induced entries recently.  I'm not sure exactly what has caused it, but it probably has something to do with vowing not to write about anything political for a while.

Side note: for someone on a vowed sabbatical, I certainly mention it a lot don't I?

I have seldom felt the rush that I felt in the last week or so before the election, pertaining to how I felt about my writing.  There is something about taking the time to do a little research and then use the facts in a way that proves your point.  It reminded me of my senior year of college, which was nothing but English courses so that I could complete my major (I had switched after my soph. year, from finance.  Yep, that's true.  Get the giggles out while you still got them.).  I think I had to write about thirty papers that year, and I got A's on every single one.  I've just always had a knack for writing those types of things.

So I am on election withdrawal.  That is part of it.  The rest is the fact that while I have been sleeping a lot lately, I haven't been getting much rest.  I have been dreaming completely out of my mind recently, dreams so vivid and stunning that they are waking me up.  When I fall back asleep either the same dream continues or I have a new one more vivid than the one before, with the same ending, me awake in the middle of the night, wondering what the hell is going on in my brain.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I've always been a dreamer.  For as long as I can remember my nights have been full of them.  I can remember certain dreams from when I was five years old.  If I tried to, I bet I could list the contents of at least a thousand different dreams that I have had in my life.

I never had a repeating dream in my life until two autumns ago, when I left my job as a retail manager.  Since then I have had hundreds of dreams where I am back in that environment, sometimes as the head honcho, sometimes as just a clerk.  These dreams have re-introduced me to the many people I met and worked with over twenty years in that business, people that I forgot even existed and will surely never see again for the rest of my life. 

Last night I fell asleep shortly before midnight, woke up after a dream thinking that it was probably 3or 4 AM, and saw that I had been sleeping for about twenty minutes.  That is how it was for the entire night, short spurts of sleep interrupted by a vivid dream and then lying awake until the cycle repeated.  I hate trying to describe dreams.  It's like trying to describe a vacation to someone that wasn't there-it's impossible to convey it perfectly unless you can make them experience it.

My last dream of the night went something like this: I was sitting on a bench on a street when I saw that Hillary Clinton was walking by.  I said hello to her, and she stopped, displayed a gun that she had holstered to her waist while reminding me that the concealed carry law had passed so she could defend herself now.  Then she walked away.  I got up, crossed the street, and encountered another woman, who told me the same thing.  I told her that she didn't scare me, and that if she came into my store (here comes the work theme) and showed the gun, I'd have her arrested.

That is exactly what she did, so I struggled with her and then subdued her while waiting for the police.  All this happened at the front of the store, and I asked an assistant manager to help me restrain this person.  Then I noticed an older woman walking through the liquor department with a young child.  She opened a bottle of tequila and forced the child to drink half of it.  I apprehended her as well, so now I had two people detained while waiting for the police.  I soon grew impatient and told my assistant that I was going outside to look for the police.

I walked across the street and found myself in a warehouse district and there were police all over the place.  I then bumped into a man that I used to work for a long time ago, explained the problem, and he told me that it would be impossible for one of them to come to the store because they all had to work security at his daughter's world premiere of her new play.  This made me quite upset, and I decided to confront the first cop I could find, which just happened to be Dr. Phil (I swear I am not making this up).  He told me that this was a high threat area, and that all police had to be here.  I suddenly felt as if I was in great danger and ran away.

Soon I was hopelessly lost in an industrial looking area.  I heard someone yell "action" and then saw a group of black men dressed in bright red suits emerge from behind a building.  They begin singing in a Motown style, and I realized that I was in the middle of a movie set.  I could see a big projection screen in the distance and saw that I was in the picture.  I was embarrassed and looked for a way out, but all I could see were huge piles of woodchips.  I dove into one of them, poked my head out and saw that I was still on screen.  Then I ran away down an alley.  Still lost, I could see the skyline of the city in the distance and did everything I could to find the way out of the alley, but everywhere I went was a dead end. 

Just as I started to completely panic, two young kids came out of a field and told me that they could help me.  As I started to walk towards them, I heard a loud growl and turned around to see a pack of wolves heading down the alley.  A river of blood, meat, and other gross looking stuff flowed suddenly towards them, and they sucked it all up as they made their way past me.  I turned and walked out the alley with the kids into a field of high grass with a swing set in the middle.

The dream ended with the kids asking me if they could swing for a while.  I said yes, they hopped on, and I pushed. 

The randomness of this dream is what all my dreams have been like lately, which is why they are dreams, I suppose.  I couldn't create anything like this, I think.  The worst part of it all is that I feel completely exhausted when I wake up, like I have run a marathon or something.  Some of my dreams involved the normalness of life but with everyone moving at an incredibly high speed.

I don't eat or drink before bed, so I can't blame the psychotic ramblings of my psyche on that.  I don't know what it is.  I know dreams tend to be cyclical and that this will eventually wane.

Tonight would be nice.   

09 November 2004

Just a reference, not talk, and besides, it satire

God Bless The Onion.

What finer publication could there be to explain the "events" of last week?

This sums it all up.  I won't spoil it for you, except for this part:

"Our society is falling apart—our treasured values are under attack by terrorists," said Ellen Blaine of Givens, OH, a tiny rural farming community as likely to be attacked by terrorists as it is to be hit by a meteor. "We need someone with old-time morals in the White House. I may not have much of anything in this world, but at least I have my family."

I'd be laughing a lot harder if part of me didn't think that this wasn't made up.

07 November 2004

Weekend assignment

I have a dilemma.  I want to participate in this weekend's assignment, yet I have vowed a political respite until November is over.

So I choose to participate, in a completely bi-partisan way.

If I'm President for a day, I'm making executive orders from sun up until sun down, or at least until they burst in and overthrow me:

1. Shut down all non-essential government agencies for one month, during which a comprehensive examination of every aspect of the government is performed, so that once and for all taxpayers will know where their money is going.

2. Establish a cap on the amount of money that can be spent on any campaign.

3. Ban political ads from any outside group or committee.  Only candidates will be allowed to advertise, and they must talk about why they deserve to be elected, not why their opponents do not.

4. Establish flat rates for products that are essential to the health and welfare of the people of this nation, like prescription drugs, medical insurance and gasoline.

5. Limit United States Senators to two full terms (12 years), and House Representatives to three terms (6 years).  If you want to be a lifetime politician, diversify.  Yes, I am speaking to you, Ted Kennedy and Henry Hyde.

And a few more if there is time:

-Ban the designated hitter from major league baseball

-Anyone drafted into the NBA that does not go to or does not finish college can only play for minimum wage until they get a degree

-People who do not use their turn signals lose their driving privileges after the first violation

-Think the FCC is bad now?  Wait until I sic them on "reality TV"

-Deport anyone who has a theater named after them in Branson, Missouri

OK, I will wake up now.

As far as awarding the Medal of Freedom, I'd award it to my father posthumously, because I can, and then I 'd give one to Bill Maher, because he makes me laugh more than anyone out there. 

Remember, this isn't political

You'll want to play this again and again.

Two words: Bush, brain


06 November 2004

Your Saturday Six

No politics were discussed in the answering of these questions!

1. If you could invent your own cable channel, what would it be called and what type of programming would it show? I'd name it "The Reality Channel" and show actual reality on it, not the stuff that the networks think is real.  I know nobody would watch it, which I think is the point.

2.  What is your typical Thanksgiving dinner menu? All traditional stuff-turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.

3. What was your first job?  Was it within the career path you ultimately intended to pursue? I became a stock clerk at a drug store in my hometown shortly after I turned sixteen.  Through the next eight years I held just about every position possible there until I went into their management program, and spent the next twelve years managing several locations for the same company until I quit in the summer of 2002 to pursue life.

4. You're at home by yourself:  do you prefer to wear shoes, slippers, socks only or go barefooted? Barefoot unless it's really cold, and then I will wear socks.

5. What's your favorite restaurant appetizer? Mozzarella cheese sticks with ranch sauce

Carly: Do you have a single comment that was ever left that you really enjoyed to the point you still remember it? I appreciate every comment I get (not a lot frankly) but the one I remember the most was in response to an entry I wrote about reading Bill Clinton's book.  A woman left me a comment telling me how much she enjoyed reading what I said, how she missed President Clinton terribly, and how she hoped the country would realize how good they had it when he was in office someday.  She said she was 85 years old and fearful that she would not live to see things change.  I was moved by her words, and wrote her a long email thanking her for the comment, but when I sent it, I found she had a restricted list of people she could receive mail from.  I never got the chance to tell her how much I appreciated herthoughts.

04 November 2004

Mi malo

I'm unzipping my lips for a moment just to correct an error in my entry last night about the election.  I said the Southern states had voted Republican in every presidential elections since 1964.  However, in both 1992 and 1996, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia awarded its electoral votes to Bill Clinton.  The facts to avoid making that error were right in front of me, I just didn't check it a second time.

(Sound of my lips struggling to remain zipped)

Since I cannot discuss politics for another 27 days, may I suggest you read this piece by Eric Zorn.

03 November 2004

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

The sheep win, 51% to 48%.

That, after almost 24 hours of this crap, is how I can most sum up how I feel about the re-election of George W. Bush.

Where to begin?  On a personal note, the live play-by-play blog turned out not to be a good idea.  Too many distractions.  I was watching the coverage with too many people.  It needs to be an all-alone-in the-room sort of thing.  I had a second entry half-done but knew it sucked, so I decided not to post it.  I left the only entry up, since I don't believe in deleting what I write, but it wasn't great.  Maybe next time.

Read this lovely piece by Bill Bennett  (link from Andrew Sullivan) if you want to feel totally confused.  Don't know about you, but I continue to struggle with a man who has confirmed that he has lost millions of dollars gambling in casinos giving me advice on morality.  And isn't it nice to see the "Bush has restored decency to the White House" line again?

If I have digested all the info I have seen today correctly, the biggest issue for voters in this race was "moral values", even bigger than the war and terror.  Simply unbelievable.  The President ignored everything except Iraq and 9/11, and he wins because the majority of the people in this pasture, I mean country, are speaking out against Bob and Ron walking down the aisle together.  Again, simply unbelievable.  How are the history textbooks going to handle this one?  When my yet-unborn children are taking history their junior year of high school, how will they teach that the 2004 election was a referendum on gay marriage?  But wait!  Wouldn't it be against "moral values" to acknowledge homosexuality in a high school textbook?  I'll be happy to wait twenty years or so and report back to you, if I haven't been deported by then.

We just told 10% of the population of this country to go scratch.  I am speechless.  There are so many other things in this country worth the consideration of a vote.  To have it come down to "values" makes no sense.  No one can even describe what the damn word means.

God, I haven't felt this sad in a while.  If you take what I have written so far as nothing more than a defense of gay people you are sorely missing the point.  Someone just needs to explain to me, in a non-red state way (meaning I am not interested in what God thinks about the topic) why we emphasize asinine issues over important ones!  If I am coming to terms with Bush's re-election because people said they were concerned about the war, or the economy, or health insurance I would be dealing with it in a much more acceptable way.

In a lot of ways, I must move on.

Here's another great link from Sullivan that explains what groups voted for whom.  If you think Bush appealed and got support from moderates, it looks like you are wrong.  He played to his base, and they responded.  This tells me that we are going to hear a lot more about God these next four years.  The point about senior citizens voting in droves to speak out against gay marriage leaves me with this thought: that generational characteristic will be dying off soon.

I watched both Kerry and Bush speak today.  I give credit to Kerry for realizing that he was not in a position to extend the election any further.  I don't think I would have blamed him if he did if he based it on wanting every vote counted, but it is best to move on.  Now the question is what does he do upon his return to the Senate?  I say make him minority leader.  Why the hell not?

I just looked up the literal meaning of mandate: "A command or an authorization given by a political electorate to its representative." Not surprisingly, I have heard Republicans today confuse this with "majority."  Nobody gave Bush a mandate.  51% of the 60% of those who bothered to vote gave him a "majority."  Yet the GOP believes that the third of this nation that actually cast a vote speak for all of us.

Note the last Sullivan piece mentions that Bush essentially owes his base his re-election.  If they failed to mobilize, Kerry probably wins by a small margin.  Knowing this, the President's pledge to reach out to everyone today is laughable.  He will do no such thing.  He will do what he has done since 2000, focus on the rich and the Christian. 

The worst possible scenario for this country is to have one party hold both houses of Congress and the White House at the same time, whether it is the Republicans or the Democrats.  I think the most intriguing question will be if Bush makes it through eight full years without vetoing a single bill.

We are, without a doubt, a nation divided.  We have been for quite a while.  I did some research tonight and found that the last time a majority of the western states went for a democrat in a presidential election was when Johnson won in 1964.  Since then, Alaska, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, both Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma have been colored red on election night.  And except for Carter in 1976 Virginia, both Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas have gone red as well.  Why?  What is in these states that make some so stubbornly Republican?  The average margin in these states yesterday was over 60% for Bush.

Take a map of the US, draw a Nike swoosh from Idaho down through the south to the Atlantic coast, and I will bet you every state goes for the Republican candidate in 2008.  Don't forget Indiana and Alaska as well.  New England, Pennsylvania, and the industrial Midwest (Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) along with the Pacific coast and Hawaii will be for the Democrat.  The 2008 race will be decided by Florida, Ohio, New Mexico and Iowa.  Again. 

Ah well, my time is running short.  When I finish this I am taking a break from all things political until at least until the end of November.  I best be wrappin' this up.

I'm not happy about this election, of course.  I will say again, I don't hate the President.  I hate the direction he has taken this country, and I know he will continue to do so until his term expires.  I see his call for unity as lip service.  He and his Congress will do as much as they can to push through more tax breaks, more obscene amounts of money for Iraq, and I expect them to try to get the Arctic refuge finally open for drilling.  We will be bombarded with faith issues and moral righteousness BS.  If he is feeling especially randy, I expect him to try to reinstate the draft.

My message to the Democrats is this:  do not, for one second, fall for this "Let's work together" crap.  What the President told you today was "either you are for my agenda, or you are against me."  He has no intention of compromising.  Why should he?  He prefers to see you sitting at the back of the bus.  In 1994, when the Republicans took control of Congress, they obstructed Bill Clinton's agenda from every possible angle.  It cost Bob Dole his chance of being President in 1996, but it made the country as divisive as it ever has been.  The seeds of political discontent were sown then, not now, and it is not your legacy to fix it.  Fight this President's agenda.  Do not allow him to further take this country to the right.  He did not receive a mandate.  Look, you're nine seats down in the Senate and thirty in the House.  Things can't get much worse.  You have nothing to lose by keeping the gloves off. 

It's time to go to the mattresses.  Over the Supreme Court justice appointments that will need to be made, over amendments that deny rights to citizens of this country, over the absence of fiscal restraint, and over the politics of fear and God.

As for me, I am not going anywhere.  After my November hiatus I will be continually watching the facts and events.  I will praise those who deserve it and slam those who deserve it, regardless if they are red or blue, though realistically I know who will draw most of my ire.  This is a dangerous time to be on the sideline.  Every single American needs to hold the 536 legislators in Washington accountable.  I certainly plan on it!

Bush fooled me in 2000.  I gave him trust because he said he'd bring people together, which was especially important in the aftermath of such a close election.

Last night was not a landslide, not a mandate and I will not be fooled again. 

Four more beers!

Is it too late to start drinking now?

Lord, why am I still up?  I got sucked in by Zogby around 4:30 in the afternoon and thought that this was going to be a different night.  So I waited, and waited, and waited.  By 11:30 I knew it was over, yet I am still on my computer and my television is still on.  What the hell is wrong with me?

Some random thoughts before I go to bed:

-Sometime tonight, when she was sure no one was looking, Hillary Clinton did a happy dance.  Ladies and gentleman, meet your 2008 Democratic presidential nominee.

-I hope Rudy Giuliani bitch-slapped whoever did his makeup tonight.  He looked like he'd been embalmed.

-Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes.

-Gay marriage bans were 11 for 11 tonight.  I'm speechless that a place like Oregon would approve such a thing.  Though I know nothing specific about each state and the consequence of the vote (like if it will also ban civil unions, deny rights, etc.) I can't help but feel that things are so much more divided than they were ten hours ago.  C'mon folks, people are dying in Iraq, the economy sucks, and you make a big deal out of gay marriage? 

-Make sure all the votes get counted.  I don't for a second think that Kerry can possibly overtake Ohio no matter what is in those provisional ballots, but the votes need to be counted.

-Not enough people voted.  That's not a bitter Kerry voter speaking.  Hell, if the entire world were eligible to vote in this election I believe that somehow Bush would have managed to win.  All this talk about how people need to get out and vote, and likely we won't reach 60% turn out.  Sheep, people.

-How long until someone on a conservative radio show suggests doing away with the amendment to the Constitution that restricts a president from running for a third term?

-I feel worse than I did in 2000.  Going into that race, I had a feeling Bush would win.  I felt much more confident about Kerry's chances tonight.  I thought he was going to win a close one, and the GOP would get a taste of 2000.

-CNN says Bush is on his way to speak to his crowd of supporters.  I may jump out the window if I see this (I'm only on the first floor, so I'll have to go headfirst) so I am turning the TV off and going to bed.

I hate hate hate to say this as my final comment, but Kerry needs to concede by tomorrow night.  There is just no way that he can change the result in Ohio.  I wish to hell he could, but it's not going to happen. 

I go gently into that not-so-good night.


02 November 2004

Live from Chicago-it's Tuesday night

Live election blog part 1

7:00 I'm an hour late, but I had to eat dinner before diving in to CNN.  Here's what I missed:

-Bush wins Indiana ( a strange state, since they elect either party to Senate, the House and Governor, but always go with the GOP presidential candidate), Kentucky and Georgia.  Kerry wins Vermont.  Before the hour ends, Bush wins West Virginia.  I can start coloring my map now.

-Zell Miller's senate seat is going to a Republican.  No truth to that Johnny Isakson faces Miller in a duel tomorrow morning for his leather chair.

-Early returns show George Clooney's dad, Nick, is losing his House race.  Can I make an ER joke here?

7:03-- If I went outside and found the sharpest pieces of rock, slit open my throat and grated the stone against my trachea, my voice would still be more pleasant than Larry King's. 

7:05--There is a group of people outside CNN's studio who think that they are at a baseball game sitting right behind home plate, waving while talking on cell phones.  Ted Turner (does he still own CNN anyway?) needs to invest in some pudding.

7:07--Hmm.  This is the first time I've tried a real-time blog, and my wit is suffering.  I hope I get better.

7:09--No surprises in the states just announced, except for maybe New Jersey, which is Kerry's.  I've already heard the fact that NJ lost more people on 9/11 after New York 17 times tonight.  Bush has 66 electoral votes, Kerry 77.

7:11--We bid adieu, softly, to Alan Keyes.  I am wiping away tears as I write this.  Has someone gassed up the jet to Maryland yet?  Will Barack Obama get 70% of the vote?  I say no, too many people will have voted for Keyes just for kicks.

7:15--It should be noted that I am having these thoughts and things are being reported about three or so minutes before I am writing this. 

7:26--Vanessa Kerry is on CNN.  She looks surprisingly like Ann Coulter.  Speaking of which, I saw the video of the attempted pie-ing of Ms. Coulter in Tucson last week.  She was wearing a rather skimpy dress and shrieked as she ducked away from the pies.  Guess it has to be seen for yourself.

7:35--Bush takes Virginia and South Carolina.  In related news, I take oxygen into my lungs and expel carbon dioxide from them.

7:40--I take a few minutes and look at some Senate and House races.  The GOP has a 51-49 majority there now, and it looks like that might change in their favor by a seat ot two.  Carson in Oklahoma is going to lose; that was the race that I thought if the Dems won they could have maybe snuck into control.

7:45 --My mother is wincing every time it is announced that Bush is the projected winner of a state, despite every state called is going according to projection right now.

7:55--Lots o' states polls closing in five minutes.  Time to wrap up the first hour.


Alan Keyes: Ghost in the Machine

It is somewhat of a sad day here in Illinois.  Most likely, after all the ballots are counted tonight, we will have to say goodbye to one of the finest visitors we have had to our state in a while.

Ladies and gentleman, the Secret Journey of Alan Keyes.

I feel sorry for the rest of the country, that you've missed out on the everyday details of the race for United States Senator in Illinois, between Keyes (R) and Barack Obama (D).  Obama won the primary in March with 53% of the vote among six candidates.  Keyes was asked to run in early August, after the primary winner, Jack Ryan, stepped down in disgrace over some lurid details contained in his divorce file that he had forgotten to share with Illinois GOP officials.  Keyes was not the first choice to replace Ryan.  In fact, he was not the tenth choice.  He was about the fifteenth, as a long list of people turned down overtures by the state GOP to run against Obama.

Alan Keyes is from Maryland.  In the past he has run for President and US Senator from that state.  He's never lived in Illinois prior to becoming the candidate here.  He's also just a tad outspoken.  In 2000, when Hillary Clinton announced that she was running for the Senate as a new resident from New York, here's what Keyes had to say:

"I deeply resent the destruction of federalism represented by Hillary Clinton’s willingness go into a state she doesn't even live in and pretend to represent people there, so I certainly wouldn't imitate it." 

(Quote taken from Archpundit, though to be fair, it was all over the place in August)

Pot, Kettle, I'd like you to meet Alan Keyes.

So it was off to a rip roarin' start for Alan Keyes.  We soon found out that Keyes is arch-conservative, and considers abortion the single biggest issue in the world, not just in this election.

The first poll taken after Keyes entered the race gave a 68-27% advantage to Barack Obama, so the question became why was Keyes in the race?  Did I mention his past campaigns for President and Senate?  While it has never been confirmed, the idea is that for agreeing to be the sacrificial lamb for the GOP this fall, the Illinois Republican party is paying off Keyes' past campaign debt.  Makes sense to me.

We have reached election day, and the polls haven't changed.  Obama will receive around 65% of the vote today, and Keyes will have lost another campaign.  It's hard for me to see how he did not make further inroads in this state.  Here are some of Alan Keyes finest moments as the Republican candidate for US Senate from Illinois:

-During his speech where he accepted the nomination, Keyes sweat enough to drop ten pounds.  His passionate delivery was overshadowed by his inflection every time he said "God" (pronouncing it GAWD), which was about fifty times.  His last line was that "...but I have confidence, because the victory is for GAWD!"  Interesting, to say the least.  How refreshing to have the "God is on my side" perspective in this race.

-Keyes has intoned many times that "Jesus Christ would not vote for Barack Obama" because Obama rejects the way Christ taught us how to live. 

-Every campaign speech and stump has found Keyes pointing back towards abortion, and especially partial-birth abortion.  At the onset of his campaign supporters showed up in T-shirts that said "Abort Obama" on the front.

-At campaign rallies Keyes would lead the crowd in the chant "Obama been lyin'!"  Say that fast three times and see if you can tell which world-renown terrorist that sounds like.

-Keyes is as anti-gay as anyone in the public arena.  He has attacked gays from all corners, giving us such gems as stating that gay couple should not be allowed to adopt, since it will mean children will not know their real parents, and "incest is inevitable" as these children grow and meet people that they will have sex with.  By Keyes' law, heterosexual adoption should be illegal as well, yet he has avoided any comment on that.  At the Republican convention, he chastised all gays as "selfish hedonists."  When he was asked if he felt Vice-President Cheney's daughter Mary, an "out" lesbian was a hedonist as well, Keyes answered "by definition, of course she is.  She is a selfish hedonist."

(Side note here.  Do you think the Cheney's were outraged about this?  One would think they were, since they experienced several public aneurisms over John Kerry's much less offensive mention of Mary Cheney in the last presidential debate.  However, SHOCKINGLY, the Cheney's did not publicly comment on Keyes' slur towards their daughter.  The Cheney's are the largest hypocrites I have ever seen.  Their daughter should be proud of their unilateral, bipartisan support.)

-Saving his best for last, this past weekend Keyes told a full audience in a Church that a vote for a Democrat is "a mortal sin" and that "Catholics who vote democratic are akin to Germans who voted for Nazis."

Keyes' performance in the three debates has been priceless as well.  When presented with questions about the economy or the war in Iraq, he has bent his responses to remind everyone that abortion is wrong.  In one response he proclaimed that abortion, not disease, accident or homicide, is the largest killer of young blacks in the nation today.  At the end of the last debate he was asked how he keeps his campaign positive when he faces forty point deficits in all polls.  His response was that the polls were wrong, that he was going to win this election, because the people could not support the hateful ideas promoted by Barack Obama.  It reminded me of the classic "Saturday Night Live" skit from the 80's, where the CEO of a practical joke-prop company is being grilled by "60 Minutes" for shoddy products.  Martin Short is the CEO, and every time he is asked about the defective products he responds with remarks like "We didn't do that, you did it."  When he is told he is being defensive he says "I'm not defensive, you're being defensive."  The entire time he is sweating profusely in an "I'm so guilty" persona. 

Alan Keyes will surely label Obama as the Demolition Man in the next few days in the aftermath of his trouncing defeat.  He promises to remain in Illinois, where he has an apartment in Calumet City (shockingly, his Maryland mansion has not been put up for sale), so that he can fix the problems facing the GOP in this state.  We can only hope so, but in reality, Keyes will be back worshipping his Invisible Sun in Maryland soon.

This morning, while the serious news stations on the radio were interviewing candidates, Keyes sat in on the Mancow Muller show here in Chicago.  Muller is a right wing nutjob who disguises his ranting as free speech, but he is nothing more than a "shock jock."  That Keyes would spend the morning of his first Illinois election on his show would be something like John Kerry spending this morning on Howard Stern.  A serious candidate would never do such a thing.

But a pawn who is only in the race for the money to pay off the debts of his other failed archconservative campaigns?  Absolutely.

Alan Keyes: Every Little Thing he does is Magic.

My civic duty

I voted this morning around ten o'clock.  There were no lines and half of the parking lot was empty.  My polling place is an Elks' Lodge off of a busy street in a retail stretch of town, so I doubt a lot of people walk to this particular polling place.

In these here parts we vote the old fashion way.  They give us a ballot and a black marker, and we have to fill in ovals next to the candidate of our choice.  The ballot then goes into a machine and I assume the ballots are read much like the ACT test is.  Unless you are a complete moron, there's no way to mess this up.  There are signs everywhere in the booth telling you not to use an "X" or a check mark. 

When I think about the ballot problems in 2000, I can't help but think that most of the guilt has to go to the voters themselves.  There wouldn't have been any "hanging chads" if people had taken the time to look at the ballot that they just voted on for pieces that did not separate.  That being said, I don't understand that in this day and age why we cannot have a universal voting system that all states would use.  With the computer technology of today, why can't we have touch voting that keeps automated track of the votes and can give totals as soon as the polls close?  I would think that keeping a hard copy of results would not be difficult in case of protests.

I have one last political entry that I am going to do, and that will focus on the Senate race in Illinois.  Tonight I am considering blogging in real time as I sit and watch the different networks digest their results.  I'm sure tomorrow I will have some ideas and thoughts on the results.

But then, I am shutting down.  After my one post-election entry (which I warn you may be 34,000 words or so), I will not be writing anything about politics for the rest of November.  I'm fried, and I need to get back to the creative process of finding unique things to write about.

I hope today finds record turnout all over the country.  I can handle things not going the way I want them to if it means people all over have spoken.  It infuriates me when people don't vote.

So here we go...

01 November 2004

The last shall be first

The countdown to November 2 ends here:

#1 The End

Tomorrow is Election Day, finally.  I've spent the last ten days outlining what I consider to be the many failures of the presidency of George W. Bush.  For those of you expecting a big finish, I am going to sorely disappoint you.  I am just about out of ammunition.

This has been the most acrimonious campaign that I can ever remember.  I thought the '88 race between Bush and Dukakis was nasty.  This year's race makes '88 look like a square dance.  There's been enough mud slung to cover the Rockies in about a mile of muck.  Neither side has done much to tell the voters of this nation why they deserve to be elected.  It is so much easier in these times to concentrate and the failures of your opponent.

Still, I can't see myself dealing with another four years of President Bush.  I'm sure that he is a nice guy and that it would be fascinating to sit and have an O'Doul's with him, but he is without a doubt the least qualified president that we have ever had.  He's nothing but a legacy, in the White House for the same reason he was at Yale, because his daddy was there first.  History will look back on this time and wonder how we could have been so dumb to make this man a president.

If we do it again, if we send Bush back to Washington, then we will have truly become a nation of sheep.  If Bush is re-elected then we will never have a nation less divided than we do now. 

I'm not going to rehash the previous nine entries that make my case for Bush to go.  All I will say is this: he has presided over one of the more discriminatory administrations in history.  He has done just about the opposite of everything he pledged to do in 2000, and his first concern is money.  He is a green President, in so many, many ways.  Unfortunately, environmentally is not one of them.

I will wrap this up with some of my favorite examples of how much of an idiot this man is, with a few highlights of things he has said and done:

1. Trying to explain to a group of people how sad it is that malpractice costs are driving doctors out of business: "Too many ob/gyns aren't able to practice their love with the women."  Well, hello sailor!

2. Two weeks ago, while listening to the news on the radio, Bush was detailing all of the weapon systems that John Kerry voted against.  One was the Apache (like the Indian) helicopter.  Or the A-pa-shay, as the President pronounced it.

3. At a media dinner last year Bush showed a film of himself looking for something in the Oval Office.  He peered under furniture and looked behind curtains.  Describing this to his audience he said, "those weapons of mass destruction have to be around here somewhere!"  I heard that got a big laugh from 1100 dead American soldiers.

4. Any of the many "Don't mess with Texas" poses he has struck for the covers of magazines or various photo ops. 

5. Finally, though I honestly believe that this movie was a little too rough on him, the final scene of "Fahrenheit 9/11" sums up the intelligence factor of this man.  Bush is attempting to quote the "fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me" adage, but mangles it in such a way as to leave him looking like a simpleton.

Certainly, these are not five reasons to not want to vote for him.  I just want to end this series on a lighter note.  It's hard to consistently write about things political without going into a coma.

And with that, I say goodbye to the presidential election of 2004.  And may I also, please, please, please, please say goodbye to the presidency of George W. Bush!


Do not read this alone in the dark...

The countdown to November 2 continues:

#2  BOO!

It's after midnight.  October 31 has become November 1.  Halloween is over.

Yet I have the scariest story that one could ever tell...

Not really.  I was channeling my pal Gabriel there, from the previous entry.  Actually, I don't scare easily.  Not much frightens me-spiders, the thought of having to go to work again as a retail manager, clowns.

Wait, wait, I'm sweating all of the sudden, filled with a sense of doom!  The air has suddenly chilled, and I can see my breath!  What's that on the other side of the room?  I can't quite make it out, it's getting closer...FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!  I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING SCARIER IN MY LIFE (WELL, EXCEPT FOR THAT TIME IN HONDURAS, WHEN WE WENT TO THE CABIN AT THE END OF THE TRAIL ON THE MOUTAIN, AND THOSE PEOPLE MADE US DANCE IN NATIVE GARB...UM, WHERE WAS I AGAIN?)



That was a little impromptu GOP campaign ad.  How was it?  That, friends, is the basis of this entire campaign, the one and only reason that the Republicans think we should re-elect President Bush:

If John Kerry is elected, we're all gonna die.

Did you hear me?  I said he's going to get us all killed!

This is the factor in this election that makes me ill, and if it works, if the President is re-elected, this nation will be nothing more than a three hundred million sized herd of sheep.

Good night, and don't forget your mutton.

I can understand why terrorism is the number one issue in this campaign.  I cannot understand why it is the only issue in this campaign.  Personally, I worry about a lot of other things in my life than the possibility that I will succumb to a terrorist threat.  Maybe I am naive.  Or maybe you are.  I just think that the focus of what is necessary for this country is askew.

I have said before that I admire the job Bush did in the aftermath of 9/11.  He was calm, serene, and presidential.  He knew his priorities.  I've never doubted that this man was incredibly saddened by what happened our country that day.  I remember seeing him in the White House the next day and a reporter asked him how he felt about things 24 hours after the fact.  He began his answer by saying "Hey, I'm a loving guy..." and then stumbled a bit before he said that he could not imagine how the families of the victims felt, how awful it was, and then he broke down a little.  It was genuine, a man showing sincere emotion.

It's shameful that three years later he uses 9/11 as a way to drill fear into the American psyche.  He's not the only one, of course.  Rudolph Giuliani does a great job at it, and of course Dick Cheney had his memorable "if we make the wrong choice we will get hit again" speech.

When I first heard campaign rhetoric from the Republicans that took this tone of fear, I thought back to what we did after 9/11.  How our forces went into Afghanistan and destroyed their government.  How we were told that the terrorists behind the attacks were being killed and how the government that harbored them would not exist anymore, and would be replaced by a democracy.

I supported it.  I'm happy with the way Afghanistan has turned out.  Except for one little fact:

Where the hell is Osama bin Laden?

Fortunately, that question was sort of answered this past Friday.  After an almost three year break, OBL showed up on a video broadcast in the late afternoon.  Not much has changed; he still hates America and wants us all destroyed.

I'll get back to him a little bit later.

In the late spring the Bush campaign aired its first campaign ad.  It was a montage of images from 9/11 with a voiceover of how strong the president had been in his leadership.  Then we were all treated to the Republican National Convention in New York City in early September.  As the incumbent party in the White House, the Republicans were to have their convention after the Democrats had theirs.  Normally, the span in between the two is two weeks.

Not this year.  This year it was four.  Because, really, what's the point of having the RNC in NYC if it can't be in September?  If we play word association and I give you the words "New York" and "September" what comes to your mind?  The Mets battling for the playoffs?  Hardly.

Did you know that the GOP never had a convention in New York before?  It didn't make any sense to, since New York is one of the more democratic states in the nation.  But thisyear, as part of the healing, as part of the way to say that New York is back baby!, the GOP just had to have their convention there.

In four nights, they mentioned 9/11 911 times.  By the time the last night came I expected the President's nomination acceptance speech to be the shortest and quietest in history.  I thought he would come out on stage with a big "9" in one hand and a large "11" in the other, scream "BOO!" and walk off stage.

And then lead the delegates down the street to Ground Zero so that they could actually tap dance on the memory of 3,000 murdered souls.

Just about every Bush ad I've seen since then has said this:

John Kerry will ask the terrorists to come over for dinner so that he can negotiate a peace with them.  John Kerry will let them have the state of West Virginia.  John Kerry will knit wool sweaters for members of Al-Qaeda who find themselves outside on those frigid Tora Bora winter nights.  John Kerry will get hooked on Afghani opium and force the people of that nation to put Heinz ketchup on their falafel.  John Kerry will get us all killed, because he's not from Texas.

If John Kerry were President on 9/11, he would have kicked as much ass as President Bush did.  So would have Al Gore, or John McCain.  Or me.  Or you.

At some point, all of us have tried to intimidate someone through fear.  I can think of about 75 million instances when I was a kid that somebody tried it with me, mostly in the education system.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  When it didn't it was because even I, six year old Waldo, could see through the BS.

That's all this is, spoon fed BS from a group of political morons who think we lay awake each and every night just wondering when the ricin is going to seep through the heating vents.

Is something going to happen again?  Probably.  Will it be as bad as 9/11 was?  No one knows.  Does it scare me?  Absolutely.  But I do not crave to run into the President's arms for a hug.  Seeing bin Laden again reminds me that President Bush promised America that we would get him "dead or alive."  We tried for a bit.  Then we went to Iraq.  I don't know if it is that big of a deal that bin Laden is captured.  Of course he deserves to be brought to justice, but his capture won't do much to damage the terrorism movement.  Bill Maher had a great line about this: "Capturing Osama bin Laden will hurt terrorism about as much as Ray Kroc dying hurt McDonald's ability to sell hamburgers."

Some would argue that this administration has done as much to create new terrorists as anyone else or thing could.  I don't know about that.  I think we could be spending more time blowing up mountains in Afghanistan instead of getting soldiers killed in Iraq.

The thing that I always think of when I remember 9/11 is this: 19 people were willing to die to succeed in their "mission."  How do you fight an enemy that is willing to sacrifice themselves?  You have to be lucky all the time, while they have to be lucky just once.

Any rational man or woman who loves America sees the need to protect us as best they can from this different and more dangerous type of evil.  And both Bush and Kerry love this country.  It's a matter of being prepared.  In the meantime, you have to be realistic. 

You can spend your entire life worrying about things that will never happen.

Here's what will happen within the next four years: people will need jobs; they will need medical insurance; they will grow older and wonder if Social Security is going to still be there when they retire; they will pay off budget deficits; they will buy gasoline for their cars.  Get the drift?

Yet these issues, and others that affect America every day, are not what the current administration wants you to think about when you go to vote.

All they want is for you to remember that you are not dead.

But you could be...if you...vote...for...