26 December 2008

Moving, birthdays and Christmas. Oh my.

I have no mental capacity for anything other than a quick joke:

What lies at the bottom of the ocean and twitches?

(Wait for it)



A nervous wreck.

19 December 2008

End of days

If you watched the news here today, you'd think that we are all going to die. Did I miss something? When did snow become as dangerous as radioactive fallout?

(Entry interrupted to tend to a wailing, soon-to-be one-year old who appears to have had a nightmare, poor guy. But all is well. There is nothing quite like a mom.)

I'm just blown away by the way the media here in Chicago reacts to winter storms. It's Chicago. It's winter. What do you expect? Two days ago a four inch storm hit at the peak of the evening rush hour, and anyone trying to go more than a few miles was stuck in crawling traffic for at least a few hours.

If there is no traffic you can drive from the Loop to O'Hare Airport in about twenty minutes. Tuesday evening at five, it was four and a half hours. On the CBS station here at ten o'clock, they had a feature where a reporter drove from the downtown studio to the airport, which took four hours. How is that news?

Flakes start falling, and it's like an OJ trial around here. Bizarre.

Just three days until Desmond's first birthday. On this day last year we went to the doctor and made the appointment to induce labor on the 21st. I'll never forget the feeling sitting in that office, knowing that it was now a sure thing that in three days our first child was going to be born. It was like plunging your head into ice water-I never felt more aware of my surroundings.

Those three days turned out to be the longest three days since the dawn of time, seventy-two hours of anxiety, anticipation and just plain waiting. I did five hundred crossword puzzles, read fifty-seven magazines and learned twelve languages. Seems like I remember every second.

15 December 2008

Today's statement o' funk

Craig Ferguson is wearing a tie on his show tonight that reminds me of something. It took a minute or two before getting it: it's the same tie that we buried my father in.

Moving on...Desmond's first birthday is this coming Sunday. You have got to be kidding me. There is no way my son is already one year old. Sometimes I think that this past year has passed in the blink of an eye, and sometimes it feels like it has been two years instead of one. It has been quite a time.

Desmond is not walking yet. He's close; he pulls himself up on everything and can walk along a table or anything else he can hold on to (including my wrists). I thought I would find the prospect of my son walking melancholy, like he was crossing a barrier that he couldn't return to, but I find myself ready for this. I am starting to see him as a toddler, and toddlers walk.

They also take their pants off, apparently. Des hasn't kept a pair of pants on longer than thirty minutes for about the last week. Putting a pair of pants on him is slightly more difficult than having a root canal without Novacaine (thank you, James Frey. I will never tire of reminding people that you are full of crap), and it's quite disheartening to see him get them off in twelve microseconds.

We don't wear shoes unless it's an absolute necessity.

I'll have more to say about Desmond as the week progresses. My memories of this year seem the opportunity to knock myself out of my writing funk.

14 December 2008

Nothing like a fine whine.

I forgot how much moving sucks. Packing things that you swore that you got rid of last time you moved, doing it again because you're too far behind to deal with it now, and stuff all over the place. I hate it. Hate hate hate it. Every time I move (which happens about every four or so years, it seems) I vow to never do it again.

The thing is, I can't wait to move. We are finally moving into a home of our own. It's a great house. I just wish I could go to sleep, wake up and have everything be moved in.

My funk continues. I'd swear it is February, which makes me nervous to think about how I will be once February actually gets here. I'm hopeful that new surroundings will snap me out of this malaise.

Since I'm getting bogged down in negativity, I will submit myself to a random eleven. As promised last time, here is where I stole this from.

1. "Point Shirley"-Rhett Miller. The thinly veiled reference to Hamlet throughout this song intrigues me, though I don't recall there being a Shirley in the cast. Maybe Ophelia is Dane for Shirley...

2. "Fool in the Rain"-Led Zeppelin. When I was a sophomore in college, I had a rough year. I hated my roommate (who was actually not a bad guy, though he was incredibly boring, I was just deranged) but took some odd pleasure in using his boombox whenever he wasn't around. Since he knew I didn't like him (because I pretty much stopped talking to him by Labor Day-again, I had major issues) he would be gone all day. Of all the cassettes that I listened to back then-this was the late 80s before CDs-In Through the Out Door was the one I listened to most. Ergo, whenever I hear a song from this CD I can't help but think about my roommate. Fortunately, it doesn't happen with the rest of the LZ catalog. In a slapdash of irony, when I started grad school in 2005 I discovered that his sister was chair of the English department (I had never met her before). I eventually worked up the gumption to introduce myself and asked her if she might give me his e-mail. She did, I wrote him a note apologizing for my behavior, but I never heard from him.

3. "Slow Emotion Replay"-The The. I have this odd habit of remembering specific, obscure things about uneventful moments in my life (see above), and this song always takes me back to four in the morning when I got up extremely early to go in to work at an ungodly hour for some dog and pony show. I hated my job, I hated the fact that I was up at four, I pretty much hated everything, except this song, which came on the radio when I turned it on as soon as I woke up.

4. "Perfect"-Smashing Pumpkins. I used to think this song was about unrequited love (and identified with it passionately-God, could I be more of a depressing mole tonight?) but now think it's about a stalker telling his "beloved" that he isn't giving up anytime soon.

5. "New Test Leper"-REM. The obligatory appearance of the boys from Athens on the Random 11, from the vastly under-rated New Adventures in Hi-Fi, which I listened to extensively while traipsing through central Oregon in summer 2003. When I typed the previous sentence, I noticed that I omitted the first "p" in "appearance" and proceeded to do something that drives me insane: instead of just moving my cursor to where the missing letter was, I deleted all the way back to that point and wound up re-typing most of the word. Usually I don't catch mistake like that until a few words later, and I wind up deleting whatever part of the sentence came afterwards. It's bizarre. I tell myself not to do it, but I do every time.

6. "Home By the Sea"-Genesis. Listen to this song, then watch the scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when the home by the sea is fading from memory, and tell me that Charlie Kaufmann wasn't thinking about that all through the movie. In this room they sigh and they moan.

7. "Goodbye Girl"-Squeeze. Not to be confused with the ballad from Bread to the movie of the same name. I should mention that when I was 12 my mother would not let me watch The Goodbye Girl on TV, and to this day I still do not understand why. Perhaps she thought I was allergic to Richard Dreyfuss. Come to think of it, I did sneeze throughout Mr. Holland's Opus. And whatever happened to Quinn Cummings? That's one heck of a resume, culminating with an appearance on "Blossom".

8. "I've Seen All Good People"-Yes. This is one of those songs that you (by which I mean me) listen to three thousand times before getting what it is about. They're playing chess!

9. "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"-Counting Crows. Wasn't this the title of a "very special" episode of MASH? I find the crows mostly pretentious (and in need of a bath), but I love this song. Doesn't take much to reel me in, just a mixture of melody, lyrics and inquisition. Well done.

10. "Viva la Vida"-Coldplay. This is a group that I was looking forward to slapping down a few rungs on the ladder, if for nothing else than writing a song as awful as "Fix You," but this album is outstanding. Their last CD was extraordinarily pretentious and muck, but all is forgiven. I'd prefer that every song not be about death, but there you go. This song was in the news last week because it apparently sounds just like a melody Joe Satriani wrote about five years ago. And it does. I suppose it could be a happy accident, but either way, I have a feeling someone is going to get a co-writing credit on any further pressings of the CD just to keep everyone in Whoville happy.

11. "Please Read the Letter"-Robert Plant and Allison Krause. Normally I would have finished my rave to Coldplay above with a decisive "this album deserves to win a billion Grammys" rant, but I don't for two reasons: first, who really gives a rat's ass about the Grammys? They've been awful ever since they gave three hundred awards one year to Lionel Ritchie; second, no album this year has been better than Raising Sand; this is the best song from that CD. I saw Plant and Krause in September in Kansas City, the first concert I had been to in ten years, and it was spectacular. If you ad told me twenty-five years ago that I would one day see Robert Plant live singing a folk song version of "Black Dog" I would have bet that I was committed somewhere. The two are amazing together, and I hope that the rumors I hear about them doing another album are true.

29 November 2008

Papal job sharing

I have not stopped writing. Since I last posted this way I have written many other things but have never got far enough in my satisfaction to leave them. It's been very gray here, literally and figuratively. Normally this time of year doesn't bother me-I get all wrecked in February, when it's been cold and gray (Chicago has descended into Seattle weather-wise the last few winters it seems) for eons-but this year I have felt a sense of brutality that usually stays away until Ash Wednesday.

This reminds me of a very short dream I had this afternoon during a blissful nap on my mother's living room couch. My wife and I were sitting at the dining room table with the last two popes. Benedict was admonishing me for not being consistent with teaching our son about religion and said that I needed to do better.

"After all" he said, "you asked us both to be popes for him."

"I prefer the term 'co-popes'," I said. And that was the end of the dream.

The concept of co-popes is something I definitely intend to explore.

So why am I in such a funk? Beats me. I have nothing to feel despondent over. We're moving next month into a house of our own, and while that should trigger a certain level of stress, it doesn't. It's exciting and I wish we were doing it tomorrow. I received final approval on my graduate thesis, so I will finally have my MFA next month and can pretend that I am an actual writer, which is all I've wanted to be these last forty years. Desmond is now on the down-slope of eleven months old and is perfect in every way still, so there is no reason for dirge there.

I could understand my mood if Obama had lost the election, but he did not, and as I watched the returns that evening I realized that the country nailed it, and that I really have no desire to wallow in the groans of those who will spend the next four years tearing him from limb to limb. This moment of clarity has led me to delete several bookmarks of punditry from my laptop; I don't have the stones for forced outrage and negativity anymore. Obama is not the messiah and will struggle as all presidents do, but he was the best option out there.

We can be such a bitter country.

So I don't know what's happening. All I know is that the last fifty times that I have tried to say something here I've abandoned it before the first paragraph was complete. I saw tonight that there is an auto-save on blogger so I had the pleasure of going back and reading snippets of muck, and I made the proper choice each and every time.

I haven't been worth my weight in words lately. I feel like I've walked into a spider web hanging across the front sidewalk and can't get it off of me.

This is not an original idea but it has cured me of block before: the random eleven, the first eleven songs that play randomly on my i-pod along with any thoughts that pop in. I'm too lazy to look back at who I took this from, but I will next time.

1. "Shaking the Tree"-Peter Gabriel. "Waiting your time/Dreaming of a better life." Show me a song that has more first-line-lyric angst for the average awkward fifteen year-old. I'll be waiting here for a while. I listen to this song and wonder what I am missing: the message is clearly skewed towards women, and given the melody, the women of Africa, and I wonder what Peter Gabriel has done that made him qualified to address feminine issues on that continent twenty years ago? Don't get me wrong, it's a great song. I just don't get what made him think of it.

2. "Hiding Out"-Pete Townshend. With an 'h'. This is from the most under-rated album of all-time: "White City." While it would be a stretch to say that the nine songs on this work saved my life, they certainly had an influence in the way I handled some difficult events. There is no sense explaining the circumstances that are unique to one life and one life only. Everyone has their White City (mine just happens to be named "White City"). I've made it known that many, many, many years from now I would like a copy of this CD to be buried with me.

3. "Zooropa"-U2. Zooropa is my favorite U2 album. I don't know anyone else who admits this. My best friend from college had the most annoying habit of listening to one song over and over and over again. I suffered through a cavalcade of multiple Madonna, Prince and Sheena Easton marathons while we were room mates, and if I could retaliate seventeen years after the fact, I'd force him to listen to the second half of this song for thirteen straight months. "She's gonna dream of the world she wants to live in. She's gonna dream out loud." About co-popes!

4. "Second Hand Love"-Pete Townshend. Normally I have a rule about repeating artists during a random eleven. Not tonight. "He's been laying his sin on you/I can sense it from a mile. And all my money is bet on you/But you're still selling your smile."

5. "Jailhouse Rock"-Elvis. I actually wrote "Presley." I remember the day Elvis died, and I remember some local radio DJ talking about it on a national news broadcast, and he went on and on about how this song was the best, not just of Elvis's, but in all of recorded history. That guy is still on the air in Chicago, and I've thought him an idiot since. I like the song. It's not the be-all end-all of Elvis though.

6. "Man on the Moon"-REM. Perfect. I am felling very Andy Kaffmaun-ish these last few weeks. Interesting fact that my only concern me: I just googled "Fred Blassey" after hearing his name mentioned in the song for the billionth time, and I still don't know what kind of breakfast mess he ever got into, but I am amazed that he was the genius behind "Pencil Neck Geek."

7. "Harvest Moon"-Neil Young. This song has been ruined for me eternally by the movie Away from Her. It was used in an almost perfect context, mind you, but it was just so exceptionally sad that I can't think of anything more now when I hear it. I used to think of how corny-romantic it would be to try to sing this song to my wife if we make it to, say, our 40th wedding anniversary, but now I would just be singing it to the empty shell of Julie Christie's mind. Moment goes POOF!

8. "I Feel Free"-Cream. There's a pun here that escapes me. Enjoy the humming.

9. "Modern Love"-David Bowie. Here's proof that I am a child of the MTV generation: my first thoughts upon hearing the distinctive drum beat that begins this song is the moment towards the end of its video where DB takes a bouquet of roses from a fan, nods his head in appreciative thanks, and then tosses them to another person in the audience. When you care enough to fling the very best.

10. "Seven Veils"-Peter Murphy. There are times when I wish I could plug my brain in and people could relive certain moments of my life, because there is no way that I can convey certain feeling in writing. This song would be one of those moments, and I would show you an early morning in Iowa City, May 1991, me walking through a city park at 5:30 on my way home from work, this song playing on my headphones. You have no idea what I am talking about, I know.

11. "Little Bird"-Annie Lennox. Maybe it's because I really want to be done this now and go to bed, but I have no thoughts about this song.

03 November 2008

I'm tired. I'm beat. I'm exhausted. And yet, I can't stop. I'm watching Sean Hannity on Fox right now swear on the souls of his children that every single poll that shows John McCain losing tomorrow is spot-off. It's laughable, even if McCain somehow wins.

I'm tired. I can't wait for this election to be over. I have a high degree of confidence that Obama will win tomorrow, though I do no think that it will be the stomp that most think it will be. I think we will all be strung along for a while, and that McCain will grab a state or two that he was not expected to win, but I don't see a scenario where he can win.

Gee, Newt Gingrich thinks all of the polls are wrong too.

I don't think Obama is going to be the be-all, end-all savior president that some envision him to be, but he surely would (let's not get ahead of ourselves shall we?) would be a massive upgrade over the "current occupant."

Irony alert: eight years ago I probably would have voted for John McCain had he been running against Al Gore (whom I did vote for-George W. Bush never had me fooled). I think the 2000 John McCain would have been a decent follow-up to President Clinton. Plus, if McCain had been the GOP candidate in 2000 it would have meant that he rose above the Republican slime machine. As the nominee in 2008, he has embraced it.

And Palin? Look, I share no negative opinion of her as a woman or even as a republican, but there is simply no way that she should be second in line for the presidency of this country. Not now. When the election is over let her go back to Alaska and season herself for four years, and then we can talk. McCain could have asked many more qualified conservative women to be his running mate and might have won the election.

I can't wait for the phone to stop ringing. We don't even answer it anymore. Our machine is full of pleas to vote for this water-reclamation manager (and what is political about water, pray tell?) and that state representative. Please make it stop.

It's laughable. And on the national stage, I proclaim that starting Wednesday that I will knee-cap anyone who refers to another person by the first name and their occupation. No more "Joe the Plumber." No more "Chico the sous chef." No more "Jessica the elevator repair person.

Ah, Joe the Plumber. I held off on this pork chop for a while and thus my remarks are probably passe, but there was other stuff going on around here: homes to buy (yes!), theses to FINALLY be approved ('bout damn time), ten-month old sons to dress up as Piglet for Halloween (forgive me, son).

Newt Gingrich just referenced Joe the Plumber. If it were thirty-six hours later, he'd be limping for the rest of 2008. Thwack!

Joe the Plumber is an idiot. Wait a tic, Sam the plumber. There we go. In the great tradition of laborers named Sam made famous on TV (There was "Sam the Butcher" from the Brady Bunch, and, um, "Sam the Butcher" from the Brady Bunch), we have Sam Wurzelbacher, the Plumber. It's the plumber! He's come to fix the sink! And raise the bar of self-electoral-righteousness.

Look, I respect any person willing to do a job where the possibility exists that someone else's poop might wind up on your hands, but that doesn't give you the right to be duplicitous and self-serving. Sammy tried to make it seem like he was an undecided voter when he had his little "chat" with Obama, but he was hardly that. He might have had me going if he didn't show up on 57 conservative radio shows within the next week.

The challenge here is to say something about Joe the Plumber that hasn't been said so far in this party, since I am so late to it. I've heard he has hired a publicist, is thinking of running for Congress and wants to cut a country music album. May I suggest he market the "Wurzelburger"? Of course, I suspect people might want to verify what it would be made out of before ingesting it.

With apologies to John, Paul, George and Ringo (and this is really one of my favorite Beatles' songs), I present:


Standing on a street in Toledo
Waiting for Obama to pass.
Plumbing's my game, can it get me some fame?
Cuz you know my balls are made out of brass.
Christ! You know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
Can't buy my boss' business,
You should feel sorry for me.

I told him that his tax plan was crap,
With my arms folded across of my chest.
But Obama he say, "you can make it ok,
You'll have lots of money left to invest."
Christ! You know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
Should have been a butcher,
Then I'd get my meat for free.

Last debate I'm mentioned eighty-six times,
Set the minutes on the clock to fifteen.
Then the newspapers stressed, Joe the Plumber's depressed,
And my bald melon's in Us Magazine.
Christ! You know it ain't easy.
You know how hard it can be.
My life's a talking point,
Ain't got no privacy.

Need a plumbing license and I owe back taxes,
Roto-rooter won't return my calls.
When life's one great big clog, and the media treats you like a dog
It's like your septic system won't vent-

Made a lightning trip to Manhattan,
Sittin' next to Sean Hannity.
Like Momma always said,
If you let things go to your head
Even you can shill for the GOP.
Christ! You know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
Hair transplants are expensive,
But smear campaigns are free!

Now I'm out with Sarah and John,
Hey look there's Mike Huckabee!
If I say with some measure, that Obama's soft on terror
Can I get a picture with Guiliani?
Christ you know it ain't easy,
You know how hard it can be.
I'm gonna need some help here,
Fifteen minutes is an eternity.

31 October 2008

"As the Titanic went down, I came up...

Studs Terkel died today at ninety-six. I discovered his work rather late in his career, only about ten years ago, but since then I've read him as often as I could. As a nonfiction writer, Studs was an icon. He had the ability to take people's words and turn them into inspiration. He was an oral historian. He recorded people's words and put them on the page in a way that made his subjects sing.

My favorite Studs' work is Will the Circle be Unbroken? It's full of people talking about death. While it might not seem like a feel-good topic, it's a fascinating look at how different cultures and faiths deal with the inevitable. I've read it several times and feel the need to read it again soon. Other books to read are Working, Hope Dies Last, Division Street, and his memoir Touch and Go, which was published in 2007.

Throughout Touch and Go Terkel mentions that he has been fortunate to have lived so long, that he has outlived almost all of his friends. "At 94," he says "I've come to the realization that I am 99 and 44/100ths dead"
(that's a play on a popular ad campaign by Ivory Soap from a long time ago), and it's my favorite line of the book.

I was surprised to read in that book that Terkel did not publish his first oral history until he was 55. Before then he had a long career in broadcasting and public service. He had an interesting life.

It feels weird to be so seriously bummed out about the death of someone who missed living to be a century by four years, but I feel like Terkel still had some words left in him that will never make it out now. It's a selfish feeling; I loved his work, and I wish there was more forthcoming.

19 October 2008

Zephyr in the sky at night I wonder

Well bust my flange and call me Joe the Plumber. It's the end of just about a perfect weekend here-beautiful fall weather, some house hunting, and a curious almost-ten month old baby boy continuing to discover all the different things about life.

What could be better? Heck, even the Chicago Tribune endorsed Barack Obama today. The Trib never endorses Democratic presidential candidates. I was glancing over some news sites before this and saw the list of papers (which the minions in the McPalin camp will remind us tomorrow have become completely irrelevant) that have endorsed Obama. Houston? The LA Times? Idaho? I guess anything can happen these days.

What the...? It's almost 11 PM here, and the doorbell just rang. Back in a sec.

(Hey-Desmond here. This remote controlled doorbell I wired from my crib finally comes in handy. Look, I know everyone is tired of this, but I just wanted to warn that Dad is about to mention the Cubs again. Here he comes...I gotta scoot.)

No one there. We don't live in an area with a heck of a lot of kids, so I don't know what is going on. Anyway, it's been a good weekend. Kristen and Desmond are asleep, and I'm just goofing around before I call it a night. Maybe I'll see what's on TV here...

And the cabin explosively decompresses. The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series! Wonderful! Thank God that the long nightmare for the folks of Tampa/ St. Pete is finally over.

Really, it's bad enough that I have to endure being a Cubs fan. It's excruciating. I was walking around a pumpkin farm with my family today and every time I saw a carved jack-o-lantern I knew exactly how it felt. Think about it: a pumpkin grows rich and plump through the summer, spending its day wondering what is to become of it, and then at the height of its excitement and anticipation, it gets cut open and completely gutted-like that it isn't enough-and then it gets carved into some bewildering characterization.

Watching the Cubs roll over and play dead to the Dodgers a few weeks ago was like having someone cut a circle off the top of my skull and then reach in, pulling everything out. Watching Tampa celebrate going to the World Series is the final straw, the slim serrated knife carving an image of Sarah Palin into my torso.

There's the damn door bell again. I'm going to squash whomever is out there...

(Hey, Desmond again. Look, I can hear him hyperventilating over this, and the best thing for him is to vent. He's gotta get it out. It's pathetic that I have more perspective on this then he does, but then he's been around a lot longer.)

No one there. Maybe I'm hearing things; on the way back up here I swore I could hear little feet running away. How much am I supposed to endure? Do you know how awful it has been being a Cubs fan since 2003? The implosion they pulled off that year was enough to kill most of my brain cells, but what has conspired since is ridiculous. And it's not just the team's performance (though that has been spectacular as well-a last-week collapse in 2004 to miss the playoffs, then two pathetic seasons back-to-back in '05 and '06, and the three-and-out playoff performances of '07 and '08); it's been just as hard watching who gets to end up celebrating at the end of those seasons.

Now the phone, the phone is ringing. There might be an animal in trouble. Be right back.

(Des, yet again. This is worse than I thought. I'm afraid he's about to break out into a list. I don't know what to do. Maybe I'll go make him a bottle. That always makes everything better for me.)

Where was I? Right, October suffering. Here's what I've had to deal with since the Cubs flame-out of 2003:

2003: The Florida Marlins (who were the beneficiaries of said flame-out) win the World Series over the Yankees. This is the second championship for the Marlins, who also won in 1997. They didn't join the league until 1993, or 85 freakin' years after the Cubs last championship. People in Miami love their baseball, as the Marlins average around 10,000 fans per game.

2004: Up until this point, most scholars of the game would suggest that fans of the Boston Red Sox have been subject to more cruelty than Cubs fans, and since the Sox have managed to lose a few playoff series in spectacular fashion (paging: 1986) there is some truth to this. This all changed in 2004. Boston became the first team ever to win a seven-game playoff series after falling behind three games to none. Undeserved extra oomph #1: they did it against the Yankees, their most hated rival. Undeserved extra oomph #2: they went on the win four straight in the WS, thereby eliminating any drama as to whether they would finally win. It was the first championship since 1918.

2005: If you think envy was a healthy presence in '04, '05 gave it a pandemic-force presence. The White Sox hadn't won a championship since 1917. They went 11-1 in the playoffs. It was never in doubt, my friends. I ripped my heart out of my chest and ate it so many times during the World Series that my ribs walked out on me. I must point though that despite popular theory, a Cubs fan does not consider the White Sox to be his team's greatest rival. Any true Cubs fan keeps all his vitriol for...

2006: ...the St. Louis Cardinals! The Cards barely made the playoffs (and in fact set a record for the fewest regular season wins by a World Series winning team-83) and then drove the stake further into my heart by winning it all. Seriously, who writes this stuff? Boston, Chicago and St. Louis back to back to back?

2007: So I figure this has to be the year that the Cubs are finally vanquished. I mean, what else is left? Everyone has won the World Series by now it seems...so let's let the long suffering fans of Boston win a second series in three years! And let's make it even better by letting the Colorado freakin' Rockies (established the same year as the traditional Florida Marlins-1993) get to the World Series too. Thank God those fans in Denver had this, because they have nothing else to celebrate out there *cough-John Elway-cough* And let's have this happen after the Cubs roll over and die to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who by the way won the World Series in 2001, thereby ending the prolonged suffering of their loyal fans who saw them enter the major leagues in 1998. When I think about all those Phoenix-area first graders who had yet to see the D'Backs win it all, I can barely stand it.

The phone is ringing again!

(Desmond again. OK, he's officially out of control, and I'm starting to get a little peeved. If I don't get fourteen hours of sleep per night I am a mess the entire next day. I am asking anyone who might have access to a tranquilizing gun to come over immediately. I can pay handsomely-apples, pears, sweet potatoes, etc.; all pureed, all chock full of YUMMY! Please help.)

2008: Two teams won 97 games this year: the Cubs and the Rays. One pulled the ultimate Mr. Bungles and was eliminated quicker than AIG spends bailout money on "massages" while the other beat two good teams and made it to the World Series. Their opponent? The Phillies, another team that has brought much woe to their loyal fans (and I'm actualy serious here-next to the Cubs, the worst team to be enslaved to has to be the Phillies, though they did win a World Series in 1980). So either Tampa or Philly wins it this year. I'm sure Tampa will win. It's about time that a team that has been in existence less than every sixth grader on the planet has been alive purges the demons of its past. Did I mention Tampa had never won more than 70 games in any of their nine prior seasons? Of course they did!

What's going to happen next year? Will the roster of the 1927 Yankees regenerate in late August and make a final addition to their legacy? Will Steve Garvey come out of retirement for the Washington Nationals post-season run? Will Will Clark hit a three-mile long grand slam?

Who just thinks I spontaneously combusted? Oh, and Desmond, you are so grounded when you turn twelve.

I promise here and now that these are my last words about the Cubs for at least the rest of 2008, and more than likely until the first pitch of 2008, of which by then I will have completely done my best Men In Black impersonation and forgot all about this.

When I sat down to write this, I grabbed my i-pod. The first song it played randomly?

Madonna's "Ray of Light."

Of course it did.

15 October 2008

Holy Schnikies

Yes, I'm watching the debate (I've done such a good job at avoiding politics here lately, just because the process has been going on for what seems like forever), and I actually feel sorry for John McCain. He reminds me of the kid in school who blew his top every time he was teased and thus was teased all the time because everyone knew they could get a rise out of him.

Why would anyone want this man to be President of the United States? Red, blue, democrat, republican...this dude is (Mel Brooks shout out here) "N-V-T-S."

And who the hell is Joe the Plumber?

09 October 2008

This is Desmond.

Yes, I know that I'm only nine months old and that I should be in bed, but I've been sleeping all day today, and it's boring. Baby stuff gets boring sometimes. There's only so many times I can pretend to be amazed by "Brahms' Lullaby" and watch a mobile spin above my head.

So when I wake up in the middle of the night when everyone else is asleep? I'm so out of that crib. I gotta do my own thing. You'll understand if I don't describe my activities. I don't want to jeopardize my independence.

Of course, I realize that hijacking Dad's blog isn't exactly the way to remain anonymous, but odds are he'll never read this anyway, or if he does, he'll forget that he didn't write it. He's always thinking about writing in my perspective, but that "Yeah I'm a baby but I'm sooo intelligent" bit has been overdone.

By the way, should anyone be curious, I look like this.

Amazingly, Dad seems to be over the demise of the Cubs. It's weird; we spent all summer watching games and getting excited about how well they were doing. Dad spent a good deal of time telling me about baseball, and while I did the best I could, I still don't get everything about it.

One thing I did get (man, did I get it) though was how much Dad likes the Cubs. It's more than just entertainment. He's devoted. Dad is 41. He's been watching the Cubs since he was five. He can name 99% of the men who have played for the team since 1972. He remembers just about every single one of the hundred or so games he has been to in person.

When I sneeze, this strange gooey stuff comes out of my nose and they use a white cloth to wipe it away. I hate it. Hate, hate, hate it! But I digress. When Dad sneezes, baseballs with Cubs logos on them come flying out of his nose, and we have to make sure that we duck.

You get the idea. My Dad is a little excessive when it comes to the Cubs. (HA! I just sneezed but no one else is awake to wipe my nose! VICTORY IS MINE!) So imagine my surprise when I have noticed that he isn't moping around the house since the Cubs so brilliantly flamed out of the playoffs. I give him credit. I barely know anything about the Cubs and how the playoffs work and I wanted to pound my head against the side of my crib for a while after those two games at Wrigley Field last week. How can a team that played so well all season long suddenly channel their inner t-ball player? They were awful-walks, errors, a total lack of hitting. What the heck happened?

Can you give me a sec? I just noticed a small decorative pillow on the couch next to me, and it has a tag, so I must play with it immediately. Talk amongst yourselves...OK, I'm done.

History is an amazing thing. History tells us that anyone who is a Cubs fan should know better than to get excited in October. I think Dad had this idea that now that I was here that the Cubs would win, that I was the thing missing since 1908 (yeah, no pressure there pops, thanks). I may only be 293 days old but I already know that no one person can fix what ails the Cubs in the post-season.

I did some research for a few minutes before starting to write this, and it's no wonder that Dad is half-insane. He was born in 1967 and suffered through some truly awful Cubs teams until 1984, when they finally went to the playoffs. They've been to the playoffs five times since then: 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008. They've never made it to the World Series any of those years.

What's amazing about that is how they've accomplished it: in all six playoff appearances they have lost the final three games. In '84 they needed to only win one of three possible games in San Diego after winning the first two at home; they lost all three and the best-of-five series 3-2. In '89 they went to San Francisco at one game apiece and lost three straight (and the series 4-1). In '98, '07 and '08 they lost the only three games they played.

And then there is 2003. This is the only time in my Dad's lifetime that the Cubs won a playoff series. The beat Atlanta in a best of five 3-2. They won the first, third and fifth games. Next was Florida, a best-of seven for the right to go to the World Series, and after losing the first game, they won the next three. Up 3-1 in a best of seven, they had three chances to win one game. They lost all three. You might remember what happened in one of them.

Geez, I'm sorry I put that picture in there. That poor guy. Ihad to look up "scapegoat" to make sure I understood how to use it properly. That guy is the ultimate scapegoat. He is as much to blame for the Cubs demise in 2003 as I was, and in 2003 I was cruising the Andromeda Galaxy (I will deny that if you tell anyone). I can only imagine what he feels each year when the Cubs season ends, and he continues to be a man without a country.

It's uncanny: when the Cubs lose a second game in a row in the playoffs, it's over. Why did the bother going to LA after game 2 last week? You could see the forks sticking out of them as they walked off the field.

I'd like to think that maybe I'm the reason Dad isn't taking this year's demise as badly as we thought he would. After all, there is more to life than baseball now. There are things like pacifiers and teething rings and strained carrots (and TAGS!), etc. The sun has come up five days in a row now. He sits there and says that he's not going to get caught up in the hype anymore, that from now on he will get excited about them winning during the regular season but ignore the playoffs, and I know he is full of 100% USDA Grade A BS. I know two things for sure in my young life: one, that there is nothing like a warm bottle just as one reaches the point of exhaustion, and two, you don't spend 7/8ths of your life in utter devotion to something and just punt it away in frustration. Dad will let go of his devotion to the Cubs just as soon as he saws off all his limbs.

I do believe him when he says that he is done thinking and talking about them until April though. Good thing. It scares me when I see those giant veins sticking out of his forehead.

05 October 2008

A very short statement about the Cubs

Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me five billion times, shame on me.

01 October 2008

And we move on...

I've been writing here for a little less than five years.  I've had two instances where I had a sudden increase in readers.  The first was one I was a guest editor two November's ago.  A few days later the ads hit, and people left all over the place.  I did too, for a spell, bouncing over to the UK version until they put ads up and then I beat the drums of hypocrisy all the way back to here.  Then last month Mary was kind enough to mention this journal in something she wrote, and people came by to see what was going on.  I've enjoyed getting to know some new people since then.

But as we found out today, this is all going "POOF!" at the end of the month.  So it happens again.  I don't pretend to know the business world very well anymore, but it seems like every time AOL makes a decision, they stick it to the few people who are left.  The only reason a decision like this gets made is financial.

This will force me to do what I should have done a while ago and move over to Blogger, so I am not concerned about myself.  I hope folks who have been kind enough to stop by here will do so there.

It's inevitable that some people who had an AOL journal will stop writing.  I can think of at least ten people that I lost touch with after the ads mess.  Losing this space doesn't really bother me since there is an alternative, but the idea of seeing people disappear again depresses me.

30 September 2008

And a happy October to you too

Man, am I glad to see September go away.  More stuff has happened this month that I can recall, not all of it bad, but it has been way too eventful.

The aftermath of our flooded basement can be summed up like this: eh.  It could have been so much worse.  We were fortunate to have someone come out the next day to rip up the carpet and dry the floors and walls out.  Most of the material stuff that had to be pitched belonged to people who don't live here--the basement is mostly used for storage--and should have been dealt with a while ago.  I hate to sound unsympathetic, but procrastination will get you every time.  The residual aggravation is that the garage is full of things that I hate looking at (mostly because little of it actually belongs to us) and I doubt I can create enough room for the cars before it gets cold out.  I can't wait to move out of this joint.

Desmond (9 months) has now been out of the womb longer than he was in it.  He seems more like a little man than a baby recently, albeit one that still only has five teeth (three new ones--we've had some long nights here recently),is dependent on us for almost everything and eats meat from a jar.  He is sufficiently mobile and trying to get into everything, which means the door to the basement is closed 24/7 now.  He is not an expert at crawling as he still cannot seem to scoot on his knees but does the army crawl very well.  He babbles incessantly whenever he is awake and it is music to my ears.  He is such a happy kid.  There were many times this month where it seemed that all we had was stress, and every time all it took was a look in his direction to be reminded that we have it pretty good.  What an amazing little boy.  How did we get to be so lucky?

I'm happy to see the tide of the election starting to stretch more and more towards Obama.  I've decided that I can't watch the VP debate this week because I can't take the cringe moments of Sarah Palin anymore.  It's become uncomfortable to watch.  I almost feel sorry for her.  Almost.

Who am I kidding?  I'm not going to watch the debate because it falls smack dab in the middle of Game 2 of the playoffs.  I have been low key about baseball this summer, and intentionally so.  I have enjoyed this season as I have no other, but the "real" season starts now.  I'm 41, been following the Cubs since I was 5 and no team ever won 97 games until this year.  Number of wins aside, this is clearly the best Cubs team of my lifetime; best pitching, best defense, best management.  The time is right.  This should be the year.

However, I am not assuming anything.  I don't believe in curses, jinxes or anything of the sort.  Every past post-season failure of the Cubs has been the result of not being the best team.  They were outplayed last year by Arizona, much as they were in previous playoff series by Florida, Atlanta, San Francisco and San Diego. 

They should beat Los Angeles, and then they should beat Philadelphia or Milwaukee, and then they should beat Boston or Anaheim or Tampa or the White Sox (gulp) in the World Series.  They should.  Do it, please.  I am not getting any younger.

By the way, this is the first time in 102 years that both Chicago baseball teams have made the playoffs in the same season.  If both somehow managed to make it to the World Series I am fairly certain that this city would implode.  The Sox took a bit of the luster off that possibility by actually winning a World Series three years ago, but it would still be the most intense ten days in the history of Chicago.  I'm not rooting for or against the Sox to get there; all my energy is focused on the Cubs.

Do it please.  I beseech thee.

14 September 2008

Some days are better than others

Thursday, September 11, was a beautiful day here just outside Chicago.  It's that way every single year it seems since 2001, when it was one of those perfect late-summer days where there isn't a cloud in the sky, the air is warm but there is little humidity and you tell yourself that you could handle living in a place where it would be like that 365 days a year.

And yet I was grumpy as hell.

First, and I don't know how to say this without sounding like an arrogant jerk, but I am completely fed up with never being able to approach 9/11 without being bombarded with the command to "never forget."  Really?  Gee, I've lived by O'Hare airport pretty much my entire life.  Every time I see the underside of a plane I think about watching the second plane hit the WTC.  The only way I'll ever forget September 11 is when I die.

Here's the thing, though, I want to forget it.  Well, in a way.  If I had my druthers, I'd forget about September 11, 2002.  See, every year, when the rest of the nation flashes back to 2001, I can't help but think about 2002.  My father died that June and the first anniversary of the attacks three months later drove me crazy.  I was encased with grief over my sudden loss, and I couldn't stand the collective grief of an entire nation.  I wanted to stand up and scream, demanding that my father be remembered in the way that every one else was-read his name, toss a flower into a pond, ring a bell.

It wasn't the most rational of reactions, but then grief discriminates when someone you love dies; that person automatically goes to the head of the line.

I must be the only person in the world who thinks more about 9/11/02 than 2001.  I can recall most of where I was all day in 2001.  I guarantee that I can recall every single thing about 2002.

Second, I went to the doctor Thursday afternoon for a cortisone shot.  My back is better but still iffy, and my doctor recommended a shot.  Big deal.  I was born with a kidney defect that didn't show up until I was nine and necessitated major surgery.  I have had other medical issues since and I bet that I have had a needle jammed into me over one thousand times.  I've never had any kind of reaction to one.  Until this one, of course.  Heck, I blanched just at the shot of Novocaine  they gave me to numb my spine and had to wait thirty minutes before they could give me the cortisone shot.  That one didn't hurt at all, yet within two minutes of getting it I was puking into a garbage can in the doctor's office.

What should have been a fifteen minute process took two hours.  I was sleeping this morning when I felt a tug on my lower back.  It was Desmond pulling at a band-aid that they must have applied after the shot.  I had no idea it was there.  Forty-eight hours later Desmond tried to take it off but couldn't.  He did succeed in making me yelp.  As did Kristen when she yanked it off.

Some days are dry, some days are leaky

Yesterday (Friday) we had a plumber come out to investigate a leak in a pipe running from the first floor toilet to the basement.  The leak itself wasn't bad, but the growth accompanying it was, in a word, nasty.  Sure enough, the seal beneath the toilet blew and there has been a trickle of "stuff" seeping steadily into the surrounding area for who knows how long.  And what we can see growing on the outside of the pipe is but a smidgen of what is inside the Petry dish.  A floor has to be ripped up; baseboards have to be replaced.

Some days come clean, other days are sneaky

Around the time that we found this out it started to rain, and it pretty much hasn't stopped.  According to the news, the area where we live has had about eight inches of rain since Friday midnight.  We have a basement.  A nice full, finished basement that we barely use.  Other people use it store stuff.  Stuff like furniture that doesn't fit into smaller homes now.  Stuff like boxes of crap that should have been dealt with a long time ago.

Some days take less, but most days take more

Well, it's been dealt with now.  There's been water coming into the basement all day.  The pump works, it just can't keep up with the volume.  There is a lake behind our home that wasn't there yesterday.  Many backyards are now part of this lake.  Neighbors behind us have first-floor flooding.  I know things for us could be a lot worse.

Some slip through your fingers and onto the floor

Still, there's carpeting that's been destroyed, and wood work that will need to be replaced.  The water keeps coming in slowly and every time I think I have a handle on it I come back in fifteen minutes and feel my feet sink a little deeper into the water-logged rug.  We got most of what needed to be salvaged up off the floor, but it is going to have to be moved upstairs eventually so that the carpeting can be ripped out. 

Some days are sulky, some days have a grin

As I said, it could be worse.  We could be in Galveston or Houston.  Of course, I heard a forecast just an hour or so ago that gives the possibility of seven more inches of rain here in the next 24 hours, courtesy of what is left of Ike.  It's not raining here right now, but it is supposed to start again in about two hours, and it looks like once it does that it won't stop for a while.  I'm seriously concerned about waking up to two feet of water in the basement instead of two inches.  I don't think I can do anything to stop it.

And some days have bouncers and won't let you in

12 September 2008

Breaking news

There's been a shakeup in the McCain campaign:


09 September 2008

Riddle me this

A question for any of the white woman who have switched their support from Obama to McCain in light of Sarah Palin being named the VP nominee for the GOP:

Why?  What could possibly be the reason that you would switch?  Has Sarah Palin caused you to have an epiphany on women's issues? 

I'd wager that it has a lot more to do with skin color than reproductive organs.

I'm not female, obviously, but I would think that the stark differences on womens' issues in the two campaigns equate this as a vote between Gloria Steinem and Phyllis Schlafly.  And I don't see how one could change their mind simply because a woman is part of the ticket now.

Last question: Where the hell is Hillary Clinton?  Why isn't she out there clearly defining the differnces between her and Sarah Palin? 

It couldn't be that she is thinking more about 2012 is it?

08 September 2008

Just a brief interlude

Two things:

1. Read this.

2. Then go here.

(Salty language warning in effect)

Carry on...

06 September 2008

La La La La La I Can't Hear You

I'm thinking now that the RNC is over that it is time for a self-imposed political hiatus, because frankly I don't think I can last for sixty more days at the rate that my head is spinning.

I did watch McCain.  I tried not to, but ultimately I had to so that I could compare the two (he and Obama, not Palin); it's amazing how different two people and events can be.  Obama's speech was electric; McCain's was as dull as year-old sandpaper.  I continue to be amused at the length that the GOP goes to discredit Obama as a public speaker ("When you strip away the glitz...") as if Obama's motivation is to fool the country into thinking that he is eloquent and presidential, and once he gets into the Oval Office he'll start using (gasp!) split infinitives.

I think that there are thinly veiled racial overtones to that type of ad strategy, of course, and paired with Palin's "community organizer" slams we are starting to see the "BOO!" factor here.  Unlike 2004, they won't spend all of their fear fuel just on terrorism; some of it will go towards the idea of whites not being in power.  It will all be just hinted at, of course.

Just asking:  what is the racial/religious makeup of Palin's staff in Alaska?  Why hasn't this been looked at?

I think it is vital not too get bogged down on race though, because there are other things that are more obvious to prove that McCain/Palin is a hypocritical ticket.  For example, I dug McCain's finger-wagging at Washington all throughout his speech, and how he claimed that the tone in DC will change if he is elected.  First, that is the EXACT same thing GWB said all through the 2000 race, and he was right-the tone became even more polarizing than before.  Does McCain seriously believe we buy this?  Did he even listen to the speeches at his own convention?  They were nothing but polarizing!  Giuliani, Huckabee, Romney, Thompson, etc.  Do you think that if McCain wins that these folks will not be part of his administration in some capacity?  Of course they will!  Do you think that every one of them will suddenly have an epiphany and stop demonizing the other side?

The hypocrisy of the GOP is huge and examples are ample.  For instance, how many times has it been mentioned that Sarah Palin, in a moment of reform so daring that Martin Luther came back from the grave to kiss her feet, sold the Alaska state plane on Ebay?  You'd think she built the plane herself from spare parts and then tugged to the airport with her teeth from the way this story has been all over the place.  There's only one problem: it's not true.  She put the plane up for sale on Ebay, but it did not sell, and when it did sell through a broker, the net loss was half a million dollars.  Oh, and the company that bought the plane wants Alaska to give back some of the money because there have been a ton of maintenance issues.

There's nothing wrong with her trying to sell the plane.  That's not the issue.  The issue is that the backstory being told isn't truthful. 

This video from the Daily Show is brilliant.  I don't see how Karl Rove has any credibility when he is shown to be such a duplicitous liar, but I'll go to my grave not understanding a lot of things about conservative punditry.  People like Rive think that a majority of Americans have the intelligence of an ear wig, and I am sorry to say that most of the time, we seem to prove him right.  How else to explain George W. Bush being re-elected?

I have to take a break from the political spectrum because I can feel my sanity seeping out of my pores.  I can't stand another presidential election that becomes all about God again.  I can't watch as poll after poll shows the country moving away from common sense even though we've lived through eight years of an example of how screwed up this country can get when people who have no clear right to hold office are elected anyway.

I didn't hear one thing from John McCain Thursday night related to policy.  Nothing.  Not a mention of health care, no reference to ending the war in Iraq, nada about energy (except DRILL DRILL DRILL!).  It was devoid of information. 

Why should that be rewarded?  St. Paul was nothing but a hurricane of anti-Obamaism.  Shouldn't they have spent some time telling us why to vote for them instead of against Obama?

I still have high hopes for this election, though it is going to get worse before it gets better.  The pro-life attacks should be getting started any day now, and it will be uglier than ever before.  I'll have more to say when relevant, but be prepared to hear this phrase over and over again: "Barack Obama is for infanticide."

See, that's why I have to self-impose for a bit.  I'll spontaneously combust if I keep going at thispace.

04 September 2008

In the theater of the surreal and absurd

First: Gustav, Chicago.  Chicago, Gustav.

Yesterday might very well have been the strangest of my life.  I went to the doctor to discuss the results of the MRI on my back Tuesday (and let me say that I managed to survive being shoved into a tube for an hour or so without wigging out but there is no way I could have done that when I was a kid-I was so claustrophobic as a child that I could barely wear hats) and things could be a lot worse.  There is no herniation in the disc that I hurt and I seem to be responding well to treatment.  Today is the first day that I have been able to do stuff around the house (to which my lovely wife screams "AMEN!" as she should, because she was awesome these last two weeks and deserves to take the next year or so off) and so far I feel fine.  I still need some follow up because I am not 100% symptom free.

The most interesting part of the appointment is when the doctor put one of my x-rays up and asked me what I did ten years or so ago to break three vertebrae just at the end of the rib cage.  Huh?  Are you sure that's my x-ray we're looking at?  Yep, that's my name, birth date, time I was here, etc.  Hmm.  Yep, I see the three vertebrae that have fused towards the end in a bit of self-healing and look quite unlike the other ones that have never been fractured (think tuna cans, and the broken ones have bent sides).

I guess that car accident that I was in during July 1998 was more serious than I thought.  It was early in the morning and I was on my way to some BS meeting that was forcing me to rearrange my day off, which meant that I had to cancel a golf outing.  Traffic on the Eisenhower was horrible so I took Roosevelt Road, and at Cicero some clown pulled out in front of me to make a left turn.  I smacked him just above the back wheel, and he was kind enough to flee.  The front of my car crumpled, and the first auto I ever owned totaled.

I remember seeing the accident unfold in front of me, closing my eyes and gripping the wheel.  I know they say that you aren't supposed to brace for a collision, but I did.  I walked away from the crash without a scratch, or so I thought.  I never got checked out, never felt any pain.

When I relayed this to my doctor yesterday he said: "this looks like an injury consist with someone who either was wearing their seat belt (I was) and hit the steering wheel (I didn't), or went through the windshield and flew into a light pole." 

I don't know what to tell him or myself.  I don't recall it being that big of a deal.  There is now danger or risk from it now, but it sure does explain why my back has ached so much since then.

I could not resist the RNC last night, and I would have sworn that I was hopped on some very effective pain pills while listening to the cavalcade of speakers, because those were some unbelievable auditory hallucinations I experienced.  Wait, they were real?  The heck you say!

Mitt Romney?  Bat shit crazy.  There's just no other way to say it.  Well, yes, there is:

Mitt Romney seems to use the word "liberal" in a randomly pejorative fashion.  I half expect him to say "I was eating breakfast this morning, and my hash browns were all liberal.  I sent them back and told the waitress to bring me some good, conservative hash browns.

Damn skippy!  Next was Mike Huckabee.  For some reason, I like this man.  He seems like a really nice guy.  I think it's because he avoids much of the nasty rhetoric that the majority of the GOP spews.  He's still nuts though.  His speech was all rah-rah faith, troops, John-McCain-can't-raise-his-arms stuff, but it also included the single funniest moment I've witnessed in the political arena.  Funny how?  Well, I probably cannot do the story justice, so I urge those who have not seen it to watch the speech, but towards the end Huckabee told the story of an Arkansas school teacher who removed the desks from her classroom on the first day of school, and vowed that no student would get one until they knew where the desks "came from".

Now I'm listening to this and trying to figure how out how the manufacturing of desks at some factory bleeds into Republican policy, but then Huck revealed how the teacher revealed the answer: one by one she had a uniformed soldier walk into the classroom with a desk.  Get it?  It's the troops, man. The GOP "old reliable." All those times that the US went to war was about desks!  I never knew that!  It wasn't for freedom, or bashing Nazi oppression, or defeating communism (all noble causes for sure)-nope, just desks.  Millions made the ultimate sacrifice...for desks. 

Huckabee then thanked John McCain for spending all that time in the Hanoi Hilton, because it allowed him "to get a desk."  Huckabee said that he wanted to give McCain a desk of his own-the one in the Oval Office.

Of course now I picture a President McCain walking into the OO on his first day, seeing that there is an empty space were his desk should be,and bellowing in his best Ricky Ricardo "Huckabeeeeeee!!!!"

(Seriously, you have to watch or read the end of Huckabee's speech.  I am not doing it justice.  It was completely ridiculous, a perfect ten on the scale of unintentional comedy).

Next was the female governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, who stepped in it big time I thought when she took a dig at Joe Biden's home state of Delaware.  She mentioned that both Alaska and Delaware have the same amount of electoral votes (3) even though "you could fit 250 Delawares into Alaska."  Think about that.  Lingle is obviously inferring that Sarah Palin is better qualified to be VP because she's governor of such a large state while Biden represents tiny, tiny Delaware in the Senate. 

Her logic might be witty if electoral votes were awarded according to land area.  They're not; they're awarded according to congressional representation, which is determined by population.  So despite being 250 times smaller than Alaska, as many people (actually more) live in Delaware.  And this makes Palin more qualified how?  Because she governs more moose, salmon and glaciers?

It was almost Palin-time, but we had to suffer through Rudy Guiliani first.  Rudy is all teeth and 9/11 these days.  As to further make the point, the screen behind the stage featured a shot of the NYC skyline with the spot where the twin towers of the WTC centered perfectly.  Deep.  Guiliani was embarrassing; he openly mocked Obama's "only in America" story and made googly eyes at his voting record.  He is repulsive.  The less said about him the better.

By the time Palin emerged, I knew it was going to be all pit-bull, all the time.  She didn't disappoint.  She lied about Obama's record again and again, which was to be expected and didn't bother me so much.  What else was she there for really?  But one thing she did really irked me, and made me lose just about any respect that I could ever muster for her: she mocked Obama's time as a "community organizer" in Chicago-her exact quote was "I guess being a small town mayor is like being a community organizer except that you have responsibilities."

How dare she?  She was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, a town of about 9000 people.  Obama worked in poor neighborhoods that might have had as many people living within a square mile.  And which area was less economically viable?

It was a bitchy comment, ignorant and unnecessary.  I spent about three years working at stores in the inner city (not as a community organizer, but a retail manager.  They were some of the highest performing stores I worked at, yet the inner city has challenges unique to other spots) and I can't imagine Sarah Palin working there.  She made Obama sound like a city worker who sleeps in his truck all day.  What's more, it is extremely insulting to the people who take pride in the places where they live, no matter the societal factors.  Palin told the world yesterday that it is far more important to be a mayor in rural Alaska than to work as an organizer in the inner city, that gun-owning hunters are more deserving of representation of inner city poor.

Remind me who is supposed to be elite in this race again?  And when was it written that being a mayor qualifies one for being president?  I grew up in a town with almost fifty thousand people.  Is the guy who was mayor throughout most of my childhood five times more qualified to be president than Sarah Palin?  He's about ninety now.  I wonder if McCain knew he was available?

And let's not forget Sarah Palin's family.  How could we?  They were plastered all over the TV during her speech last night, including the newest member, the boyfriend of the pregnant 17 year old daughter.  Talk about surreal: this dude (who looks like Joe from Blue's Clues, I think) has been whisked off on a whirlwind adventure from Alaska to the Midwest, getting to meet countless well-known GOPers and shake the hand of the Republican nominee for president. He gets rock star treatment for knocking up his girl friend! What do you think John McCain said to him on stage?  "Well done"?

Amazing.  Just try to imagine if Barack Obama'a eldest daughter was seven years older, pregnant, unmarried, and parading on stage at the DNC.  Tell me that the Republicans would not be all over it.  Go ahead.  I'm waiting.  Tell me that if the Obama's had a special-needs infant and insisted on having it passed around in full view of the cameras (and having a seven-year old sibling lick her hand to slick his hair back-ick) that they would not be vilified as using the baby as a "prop."

The same folks having aneurysms about Palin's family being attacked are the same ones who made sure to call him "Barack Hussein Obama," are the same people who swore that there was a video of Michelle Obama trashing "Whitey" and are the same folks forwarding e-mails that still suggest Obama is a Muslim.

Republicans live in the largest glass houses, and they also toss the largest stones.  They can't have it both ways.

Back to Palin: she did her job.  The VP is supposed to be the attack dog.  Never mind she contradicts her presidential running mate when she chastises both Obama and Biden for being senators only and therefore having no executive experience (like, um, say John McCain); never mind that she has no experience when it comes to national security in a time when the GOP swears that if they lose the White House that we are all going to die; never mind that she lies every time she says that she was against the infamous "bridge to nowhere."  She had them frothing last night, convinced that Obama wants to take all of your money, destroy America and kill every single conceived baby.

I have no idea what world I am living in anymore.  Maybe I did go through the windshield ten years ago.  Maybe.  I do know that I am skipping McCain tonight.  I'll read the speech instead.  I can't stomach hearing anymore of whatever Bizarro World I have been inhabiting lately.

03 September 2008

Pop Quiz

I am dealing with a feeling of sickness in my stomach that I've never quite felt before, nausea of indescribable measure, and almost--almost--feel like dying is a better option.  Have I:

1. Eaten a pound of raw oysters left out in the sun for half a day?

2. Spent the last week on a fishing boat in Antarctic waters without any Dramamine?

3. Watched five minutes of the Republican National Convention?

Who had two minutes in the "how long until the first time 9/11 is referenced at the RNC" pool?  You've won an authentic Alaskan Wilderness chastity belt.

Did you know that the GOP is now "The Party of Unwed Mothers"?  I actually heard someone say this on television.  He (of course it was a "he") was being serious.

There isn't enough Pepto Bismol in the world to save me.  Must...turn...off...TV...now...

01 September 2008

The gathering storm

This is one of those times when I know that I am about to write for two hours or so.  It's 12:31 as I begin.  Let's see where I end up.

The back is better for now, but it looks like I have a herniated disc, which means that some gelatinous goo has burst through the side of one of my vertebrae and is pressing up against a whole lotta nerve endings.  Rest and medication help, but nothing is guaranteed until I subject myself to a claustrophobic morning in an MRI on Tuesday.  I am back on planet Earth, at least for now, but for a few days there it felt like my back was a break away Soviet Republic and the Russian army was throwing all it had at it.  There were times where I felt like I had been tasered for about one month straight.  I am not looking forward to the possibility of re-visiting this type of pain anytime soon.  At least I can pick up Des again, for now.

I've had some time to further reflect on Obama's convention speech, and the same word comes to mind: presidential.  He's the one.  This might be the most profound difference among the two candidates in my lifetime.

The GOP is starting to implode.  Someone please explain to me why the RNC has to cancel most of their convention activities because of Hurricane Gustav hitting Louisiana; I don't get it.  It's not like the convention is in New Orleans, though I certainly would not have been surprised if they tried to have it there.  Remember how the Republicans couldn't wait to get to NYC for the 2004 convention so that they could tap dance all over 9/11 and Ground Zero? 

So McCain has decreed that tomorrow is nothing but business at the convention, which crushes me, truly, because both Bush and Cheney were supposed to speak in St. Paul tomorrow.  There are millions of Republicans praising the powers that be for delivering this hurricane, thus sparing the spectacle of the worst president/vice-president tandem in history from the thrashing that the media would have so deservedly given them. 

Perhaps you heard that in the build up to the Dems convention in Denver last week that several bigwigs from "Focus on the Family" (I feel so dirty even writing that) called for people to pray for "significant, torrential, historical" rain during Obama's speech at Mile High Stadium last week.  What better to way to establish the moral high rode through meteorological censorship?  It didn't work; the weather was perfect last Thursday night in Denver and Obama nailed his speech.  But hmm, less than a week after a significant rain event is bearing down on the one part of the country that surely doesn't need it.  How do James Dobson and his boys feel about that?  What a pity Jerry Falwell isn't still around to contemplate this.

Now McCain and his running mate (more on her, oh so much more, in a sec) are in Mississippi being briefed on what's being done in preparation for the storm.  Why?  Are they the head of FEMA now?  What could they possibly do to help?  McCain does have seven homes, remember, so surely he could help out and put up some folks who need to evacuate for a few days.  If Obama went to New Orleans today, he'd be vilified for getting in the way.  He's stayed for away, and rightly so.  The storm isn't about him, and it's not about the GOP.  Have your convention already; you couldn't possibly look more uncaring or inept than you did the last time New Orleans got hit.

Now, on to Sarah Palin.  I freely admit that before Friday I had no idea who this person was.  I thought Mitt Romney was going to be McCain's veep choice, but silly me: Romney is a Mormon, and much of the evangelical base don't like Mormons.  I never felt the rumors about Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman were worth taking serious despite their "strong" national security credentials (you do remember that if anyone but a Republican is in the White House that we are all going to die right?) because they also happen to be pro-choice.  Mickey Mouse could be McCain's running mate and he'd get more votes than a ticket with a pro-choice running mate on it.

I digress.  Enter Sarah Palin.  She's got guns.  She likes to eat moose.  And, most importantly, she is 44 years old and has an infant son who has Downs Syndrome.  The inference here is as large as the storm surge about to hit the bayou: she had a baby with Downs; she could have aborted it instead; she is a pro-life hero; ergo, she is qualified to be president of the United States.

Now let me clarify something here: I'm a cynical, cynical person who believes that each and every move on the presidential stage is carefully calculated, and since the abortion debate is so heated, I certainly believe that the infant son with Downs is being used as a thinly-veiled political pawn.

National security?  Over-rated.  Besides, according to Cindy McCain, Palin is qualified to be president because she is governor of the state closest to Russia. Good to clear that up.  By the way, Palin's oldest son is in the army and is being deployed to Iraq soon.  Remember, Joe Biden has a son who is being sent to Iraq as well.  Push.

Let's go back to the baby issue: how do I continue without sounding sexist?  I don't understand how a mother of four month old can leave the baby for the campaign trail, especially a baby with special needs.  I don't understand how any parent could; there is no way I would leave Desmond to spend eighteen hours a day campaigning all over the country for the next few months whether he had special needs or not.  Others have expressed that opinion, and combined with some other observations there is a rumbling starting that suggests perhaps that this baby is instead Palin's grandson, the son of her eldest daughter.  It's a lengthy story that can be read here, and I have to say that I am now inclined not to believe it.  However, it also brings up this point, which I believe is quite insane.  I am speaking to the issue with the airline flights.  Why would any mother who has already four kids and knows that the kid she is carrying now is special needs be so reckless with her decision making?  It seems more than a little risky to me, but apparently, Gov. Palin has a little bit of Russell Crowe in her.

Here's the deal: this whole thing is not about Sarah Palin.  It's not about a baby boy with Downs Syndrome (and the parents of the child deserve praise and respect for going ahead and having the little guy-while I'd like to think that I would make the same decision I will not judge anyone who actually has to do it).  It's not about anyone else but John McCain.  It's about his decision making process, how he didn't bother to recognize the potential land mines of his decision.

And I haven't even got into the offensive implications of how this pick assumes that Hillary Clinton supporters who are not thrilled by Barack Obama will now flock to McCain.

Almost at two hours.  I feel that this is terribly unorganized and unclear.  I have a feeling that Gustav isn't the only storm approaching.

29 August 2008

Presidential, baby

I'll have more to say about this when I can guarantee that I am indeed living on this planet (been dealing with a back injury for the last week or so), but I the speech by Barack Obama tonight was easily his finest hour.

Yes, I've exposed my blatant Obama-bias in the past, so my feelings should be no surprise, but that speech was gold.  He is miles of a better choice than McCain.

I'll say it again: if Obama loses in November, it will be solely due to the fact that a majority of America cannot deal with the idea of a black president.  He is exactly the kind of president that this country needs in the aftermath of Bush-Cheney. 

If we blow this, America will never be the same.

Time to see if I can get back into orbit.  I've seen more stars this past week than Halley.

22 August 2008

Reeling us in

Desmond was eight months on Thursday.  He celebrated by spending most of the day sleeping, as he has his first ever cold.  He's handling it well, except for the moments when he realizes that he cannot breathe through his nose and ERUPTS in a cauldron of anger, nasal fluid and dismay.  It would be heartbreaking if it weren't so damn cute because it only lasts a few seconds and as soon as it is over he goes back to his smiley self.

He's a pretty happy kid.  I know his parents are as well.  We expected parenting to be a roller coaster, especially when our child would be unable to communicate with us in our own language, but he is so easy to read.  He cries when he is upset, be it hunger (the full spoon of food had better be back in the mouth less than two seconds after its been removed or there will be heck to pay), pain (he has rolled into a few hard structures lately with no permanent damage, and his teeth are cutting through his gums like a machete cuts through sugar cane) or frustration (he understands now that if we take something away from him we are impeding on his fun); it's pretty simple to determine why he is fussing, and he generally stops in appreciation when we address it.

Ah, we get along well.  I have a hard time believing that this kid will ever scream "I HATE YOU!!!" or want to sneak out of the house or eat his own shoelaces rather than tell us anything, but I know someday he's going to be a kid instead of a baby, and then a teen instead of a kid, etc etc etc (cuing my inner Yul Brunner here...); I guess this is why we start out as babies, so that our parents will fall completely in love with us and therefore tolerate whatever crap we try to pull once we start growing.  And by "tolerate" I mean "not kill us."  Looking back, I must have been one heckuva cute baby because I drove my folks nuts once I hit ten, and yet, here I still am.

Our son flirts with strangers.  He wraps them around his finger in about two seconds.  He knows he is doing this now, and he enjoys it.  He understands the power that he has.  We are thinking about paying people to ignore him.

I thought that there would be times when he was a baby that I would toss my arms up in complete confusion with no idea as to what he wanted or what was wrong, and just try to plug my ears until he fell asleep.  Hasn't happened.  I speak the same language that our baby does, and when he cries, all I think about is how much he needs us.  We're fortunate that he really doesn't cry much, that he seems so happy all of the time, but we also know that we probably control none of that.  He could wake up tomorrow and decide that he wants to do nothing but cry just to confound us, and we'll react the same way. 

He's got us hooked.  He knows it.  We don't even try to hide it.  The center of our universe is twenty-eight inches long, weighs twenty-five pounds and has as many teeth as the average ninety-seven year old. 

07 August 2008

Pinky and the Brain

So, in what I have to admit is a stroke of pure super genius, Paris Hilton has put out an ad in response to the McCain campaign including her in the Obama "Celebrity" attack ad.

Well played, Ms. Hilton.  Don't get me wrong-I still despise you; I still think that you are the biggest waste of DNA ever, and I still can't understand why anyone would admire you-but you do have a sense of humor.  And your delivery here is spot on.  The fact that I could watch you speak for more than ten seconds is proof of a miracle.  Wait a sec...


I'll get back to Ms. Hilton in a moment, but the news about Favre just pre-empted my watching "Baseball Tonight" on ESPN.  I couldn't care less about Brett Favre.  The attention that football gets year-round drives me bonkers.  Here in Chicago, there could be a nuclear attack in Europe tomorrow when the Bears open the exhibition season against Kansas City and it wouldn't be enough to knock the Bears off the lead story on all local newscasts.  I like football, but it's not a year round sport, and I would lose this argument to 75% of the population here.  I digress.  I think sending Favre to the Jets is great, because he can slip in under the radar there, since the NY media is so ambivalent.  It will be a long, long time before we hear about Brett Favre again.

(Question: should it be required that sarcasm be written in a different font, or maybe a different color?)

OK, back to Paris: this is your moment.  Or should I say "was."  I implore you to go away for a while, say two decades, so that the genius of this spoof is not lost.  Go into the vault for a spell.  Sure, it would be very tempting to give your pal Britney Spears a call and make a series of follow-ups where she is your vice-presidential running mate, but I fear that would get old fast.  And as we all know, old is not hot.

God, I just made a reference to Paris Hilton's catch phrase.  Where am I, and what have they done with my universe?  We'll always have Paris.  That is one of my greatest fears.

I've never needed to cleanse my pallet more, so I'll segue into Desmond.  It's been far too long since I mentioned my son, who is 7 1/2 months now.  Sigh (that's both a wistful and content sigh).  When he was a newborn and the days turned into weeks and then into months, things seemed to be going by in a proper perspective.  Somewhere a few months ago that changed and time stared going by faster than ever.  I woke up a few days ago with an infant, and now he barely seems like a baby anymore.

For every addition there is a subtraction.  He has one and a half teeth; he cannot sleep comfortably on my chest anymore.  He rolls around on the floor like a golf ball on a cart path; he can't be left alone to nap in the middle of our bed by himself.  He has his own personality, and his complete and utter dependence on his mother and I seems gone, like if he wanted to, he could find a way to get by without out us for a day or so if need be. Not that he'll be cooking his own meals anytime soon, or even changing his own diaper.  It's just that I can see him laying the bricks on his road to independence already.

Everything new makes me smile, and the realization that some things about him exist only in memory now does not break my heart as much as I imagined it would six months ago.  I know that he is barely half a year old, but I think the latter realization is the first step towards letting go.  I think about Desmond as a grown man a lot for some reason.  I am in no hurry to see him twenty years from now obviously, but I also know that as life progresses we are left with no option other than watching our kids become adults.  I'd rather accept this in pieces than all at once.

When Desmond is happy he purses his lips together and blows, making a sound like a motor boat.  This is unfortunate when he is eating and makes me wonder if I could patent a plastic baby-feeding bubble, but otherwise it is a sound of glee.  It is an especially pleasant sound to wake up to.  Then there are the times when we mistake him for a parrot because of the loud squawks that erupt from him when he discovers that he can now put his toes in his mouth when he lies on his back, or that when he goes into the highchair food almost always follows.  He's very excitable.  Wouldn't have it any other way.

And now the news for parrots. 

Man, I love Monty Python.  See the second title of the video in the 'related' column?  "Sheep in Wainscotting."  That happens to be the name of a band I played in when I was in college.

No, it wasn't.  I leave with this: a week or so after the 9/11 attacks I walked over to the grocery store across the street from the drug store that I was managing at the time, and immediately noticed a small display table by the entrance full of plastic containers of red, white and blue miniature cupcakes.  A handwritten sign hanging off the table read "Patriotic Cupcakes $1.99."  And ever since I have fought the desire to go out and discover the next big singing group, name it "The Patriotic Cupcakes" and produce their first hit single "Only $1.99"

30 July 2008

Dancing is forbidden


I have never got the hang of embedding video into this, and I apologize for bogus alerts (if they happen) but I can't pass up a few that came to my attention today.  I'd like to thank John McCain and the geniuses (genii?) of the GOP in advance.

First, this is priceless.  Pay close attention to the first five seconds:

I thought I was hallucinating.  Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in a political ad?  What the hell is that?  What's the IQ of the dude who came up with this idea?  I'm trying to figure out how this ad is meant to hurt Obama, and the only thing I can think of is that the GOP slipped in subliminal messages that no one noticed.  I gotta go back and watch the ad real slow...aha! It's just as I thought.  When Britney Spears is on screen, there is a brief flash of a message: "Your next Secretary of State.  And don't forget Vice-President Kevin Federline."  For Hilton, it's "This is Barack Obama's new BFF!"

Is Obama a "celebrity"?  Sure.  And I'm a Supreme Court justice!  Why would the McCain campaign knowingly promote the fact that Obama drew huge crowds in Europe last week?  He wasn't giving concerts.  He wasn't performing his new one man show.  He was introducing himself to multiple regions of the world as the man who might be the next president of the United States.

Ya think McCain would create a reaction like that?  I picture an Obama ad including Bea Arthur and Betty White.

Remember all the "Obama hasn't been to Iraq" screeching last month?  Now it's "Obama's going to Iraq...and the Mid-East...and Europe. Who does he think he is?"

Someone tell me why anyone wants to run for president anymore?

Backfire!  Most of the populace is laughing at the inanity of this ad, and anyone who supports it wasn't going to vote for Obama anyway.  President Celebrity!  He'll deliver the State of the Union on TMZ instead of CNN! He'll drill for Botox offshore instead of oil!  He'll raise taxes on the ugly! 

Good Lord, even Jon Voight is getting involved.  Angelina's gonna be pissed...

(By the way, Jonny, babe, loved you in Midnight Cowboy but your op-ed implodes from the git-go.  If I may quote you directly:

"We, as parents, are well aware of the importance of our teachers who teach and program our children. We also know how important it is for our children to play with good-thinking children growing up.

Sen. Barack Obama has grown up with the teaching of very angry, militant white and black people: the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, William Ayers and Rev. Michael Pfleger. We cannot say we are not affected by teachers who are militant and angry. We know too well that we become like them, and Mr. Obama will run this country in their mindset."

So if we follow your logic we are to assume that Obama was taught by this quadrennial collection of all that is hateful in America when he was a child?  I don't think so.  Why is Obama portrayed as easily influenced from his twenties?  Shouldn't you be working on "Anaconda 3"?)

I'm John McCain, and I approve of this message, because I am running out of things to say.  Yes, I am getting desperate.  But hey, Jon Voight is behind me, so good news, it looks like I have that "Runaway Train fan club" vote sewn up.  Good times.

And I will end this with one more McCain ad that broke today.  This one also features Europe, and again please pay close attention at the 25 second mark for the cameo of cameos.  I hate to spoil this, but the secret word is HASSELHOFF!

(God help us all.  Seriously, God help us.  No really.  God help us.)