Sunday, August 31, 2008

Caribou Barbie

“Republicans don’t see the choice of Palin as affirmative action, despite her thin résumé and gaping absence of foreign policy knowledge, because they expect Republicans to put an underqualified “babe,” as Rush Limbaugh calls her, on the ticket. They have a tradition of nominating fun, bantamweight cheerleaders from the West, like the previous Miss Congeniality types Dan Quayle and W., and then letting them learn on the job. So they crash into the globe a few times while they’re learning to drive, what’s the big deal?

This chick flick, naturally, features a wild stroke of fate, when the two-year governor of an oversized igloo becomes commander in chief after the president-elect chokes on a pretzel on day one.

The movie ends with the former beauty queen shaking out her pinned-up hair, taking off her glasses, slipping on ruby red peep-toe platform heels that reveal a pink French-style pedicure, and facing down Vladimir Putin in an island in the Bering Strait. Putting away her breast pump, she points her rifle and informs him frostily that she has some expertise in Russia because it’s close to Alaska. “Back off, Commie dude,” she says. “I’m a much better shot than Cheney.”

Then she takes off in her seaplane and lands on the White House lawn, near the new ice fishing hole and hockey rink. The “First Dude,” as she calls the hunky Eskimo in the East Wing, waits on his snowmobile with the kids — Track (named after high school track meets), Bristol (after Bristol Bay where they did commercial fishing), Willow (after a community in Alaska), Piper (just a cool name) and Trig (Norse for “strength.”)

“The P.T.A. is great preparation for dealing with the K.G.B.,” President Palin murmurs to Todd, as they kiss in the final scene while she changes Trig’s diaper. “Now that Georgia’s safe, how ’bout I cook you up some caribou hot dogs and moose stew for dinner, babe?”’

(Click on the title for the rest of Maureen Dowd's column)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Black and White

I’m really tired of hearing Barack Obama referred to as the first black presidential nominee of a major political party in The United States.

"Sen. Obama embodies contradictions in the community that are starting to bubble to the surface -- largely out of the earshot of whites. He is the biracial son of an African father and a white mother in a community where most people are descended from slavery or whose ancestors had direct experience with segregation. He is the married father of two in a community in which more than 60% of children grow up in a single-parent household. He's a politician who isn't steeped in the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s and didn't grow up in the inner city or in a black neighborhood." (Click on the title for the full Wall Street Journal article).

Barack Obama is in fact the first biracial presidential nominee of a major political party in The United States.

A couple of generations ago in this country Barack Obama's ethnicity might have been referred to in other terms, like "mulatto," but times change; now the politically correct term is "biracial”.

Whatever. Let’s just try to be accurate when we talk about a person's ethnicity, whether it be Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, or Halle Berry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'll Be Walking in Memphis

I’m going to Memphis, and I’m trying to fit all that I want to do there into three days.

For a hard core Rhythm and Blues fan like me, Memphis ranks right up there with Chicago as the capitol of the universe. In fact, it was the main stopover on the road from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago.

Here are some of the things I plan to see in Memphis:
National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel
Gibson Guitar Museum
Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum
Sun Studio
Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Our hotel is actually on Beale Street, and some of the attractions are within walking distance. The others are a short cab ride away. Also within walking distance: Beale Street’s many live-music bars.

Some music fans long to visit Nashville or Branson; I’ll take Memphis.

Summer Olympic Games Infomercial

I think this is the one image I will take away from the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. It really captures the focus of the China Olympics coverage.

I tried to avoid the opening and closing ceremonies (except for highlights) and as much of the human interest blather as possible. I did manage to catch a lot of Track and Field in between commercials. I’ve posted other observations about the Summer Olympic Games elsewhere on the Freeway.

NBC gave China a big, wet kiss with its coverage – does anyone know if Bob Costas ever alluded to the irony of having Chairman Mao looking over his shoulder whenever the network used the Forbidden City as backdrop to his commentary?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not From Around Here

“Obama’s chief problem in this campaign is that large numbers of voters still don’t know who he is. They are having trouble putting him into one of the categories they use to grasp those they have not met.

And now he has to define himself amid the phantasmagorical vapors of his own party: the ghosts of the Kerry campaign, the overshadowing magic of the Kennedys and the ego-opera that perpetually surrounds the Clintons.

Of course, the Obama campaign has been here before. Just about a year ago, Obama was stagnant in the polls. His supporters were nervous and full of advice. And in the crowning moment of his whole race, Obama shut them out. He turned his back on the universe of geniuses and stayed true to his core identity.
At the core, Obama’s best message has always been this: He is unconnected with the tired old fights that constrict our politics. He is in tune with a new era. He has very little experience but a lot of potential. He does not have big achievements, but he is authentically the sort of person who emerges in a multicultural, globalized age. He is therefore naturally in step with the problems that will confront us in the years to come.”

I think David Brooks gets it right in this excerpt from his column in today’s New York Times (just as he did in an earlier column - click on the title above).

Disney's Desperate Housewives

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Very little of what I’ve seen lately about the 1960s (especially in this 40th anniversary year of the Democrat Party’s Convention in Chicago) has been true to how I remember the time. And unlike some of the people I knew and worked with back then, I remember it all quite clearly. Maybe a little too clearly, as the Democrats convene in Denver this week.

As The World’s Oldest Baby Boomer, I was at once part of and apart from my peers. Whatever hope and optimism I had felt about America’s future in the 1960s had been generated by John Fitzgerald Kennedy. But by 1964, it was being overtaken by the everyday concerns of money, work, relationships -- the kinds of things you still wake up in the morning thinking about.

But another constant concern for guys like me was the military draft, as well as fear of a nuclear war between the United States and Russia, which was never off the table.

So for most of us white middle class Boomers in 1968, with a draft deferment of some sort, there wasn’t much time left in the day to think about the fires burning and people dying in Watts, Newark, Chicago and in other cities around the country since 1965– much less about the fires burning and people dying in Southeast Asia.

What tends to be forgotten in all of the Summer of Love and Swinging Sixties bloviating is the powerful undercurrent of anger and racial hatred that Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Wallace and others were able to tap into and use to rebuild the Republican Party after the Goldwater debacle in 1964.

Those of us who came a little unhinged by the live network coverage of blood and violence in the streets of Chicago during the Democrats’ Convention forty years ago thought that the "Whole World" was watching and coming to the same conclusion we were – why are the police beating up on these innocent people exercising their right to free speech?

But most of the rest of the country, we came to discover, was rooting for the police. Richard Nixon certainly understood this, and leveraged it all the way to The White House. The seeds for the racial, class and political polarization we talk about in 2008 were sown even before 1968.

And we later learned that not all the people demonstrating in the streets of Chicago forty years ago were innocent. It’s never that simple.

I think it was at that point that any residual Sixties hope and optimism evaporated, and most Americans really turned inward - and haven’t turned back since.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bad Trip

This week's "Weeds" focused on Nancy Botwin's decision to try alternative medicine as a way to deal with the sudden string of migraine headaches she'd been experiencing. Excedrin Migraine temporarily mitigated the pain, but could not address the underlying causes.

The Mayor of Tijuana (you'll have to watch the past few episodes to understand) took Nancy to a Mexican Healer who arranged a session featuring an unconventional remedy for migraines: peyote.

I'm astonished at how much exceptional material the writers and directors cram into every thirty minute episode, but this week they topped themselves. Nancy's peyote trip sequence was absolutely terrifying, and her reflections the next morning on what she'd learned about herself the night before, as she sat on the beach with her brother-in-law Andy, signalled an intriguing new direction for her character.

Mary Louise Parker is a fine actress who has set the bar high by visiting some very dangerous places while developing this unique character. I hope she wins the Emmy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

You Really Couldn't Make This Up...

I wish that I could lay claim to the following announcements (or remember who I borrowed them from), but they were harvested from actual church bulletins:

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight: "Searching for Jesus."

Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing: "Break Forth Into Joy."

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

The Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Summer Olympic Games 2: Mrs Wang and Mrs Wu

Sometimes platitudes like "Human Rights in China" take on human dimensions. (Click on the title for the article from today's New York Times).

Pray that there there are friends or relatives in someplace like Lexington MA with a couple of guest rooms and the juice to get them out...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Olympic Games

I’ve been paying next to no attention to the Summer Olympic Games because almost every time I click over to NBC, they’re in the middle of a human interest story, in a commercial break, or teasing you (like network and local television stations do) with “Coming up…” preview snippets that don’t come up until the end of the broadcast.
When I want to see something I’ve heard or read about, I Google it (like this AP photo of Roqama Al-Gassra of Bahrain celebrating her victory in an early heat of the Womens 200 Meter competition).

I did watch the women’s marathon on the big screen in high definition, and not only was the race exciting, but there were terrific ground and aerial views of Beijing as the 26-mile course unwound.

It was astonishing to see from the air (even through the haze and smog) how much work had been done to scrub and polish the city, and to wall off its less attractive areas. The government buildings and grand boulevards were truly spectacular.

But it was kind of spooky that there were so few people along the course cheering the runners on. Marathoners (as much or more than other athletes) are lifted up by the encouragement of the crowd, and that seemed to be missing.

I was disappointed (and a little surprised) by the lack of candor on the part of the NBC hosts with regard to the age of the some of girls on the Chinese gymnastic team, and the logic of some of the judges’ scoring. It was refreshing to see guest commentator Bela Karolyi show a little outrage (when he wasn’t being cut off).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Redneck Woman

It just seemed to fit with the last two posts.

And anyway, I like Gretchen Wilson -- especially after seeing her do an incredible live version of Heart's "Barracuda."

She's really good.

Lame Duck

"Y'all goin' to the Nike party?"

Friday, August 15, 2008

Redneck Indicators

The Halloween pumpkin on your porch has more teeth than your spouse.
You let your twelve-year-old daughter smoke at the dinner table (in front of her kids.)
You've been married three times and still have the same in-laws.
You think a woman who is "out of your league" bowls on a different night.
You wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.
Anyone in your family ever died right after saying, "Hey watch this."
Your junior prom had a daycare.
You lit a match in the bathroom and your house exploded right off its wheels.
You have to go outside to get something from the fridge.
One of your kids was born on a pool table.
You need one more hole punched in your card to get a freebie at the House of Tattoos.
You can't get married to your sweetheart because there's a law against it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rainbows Have Nothing To Hide

I have a confession: I have always loved “The Rainbow Connection”

Written by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, and originally performed by Jim Henson (as Kermit the Frog) in “The Muppet Movie” in 1979, “The Rainbow Connection” has been covered by dozens of artists over the decades – ranging from Kenny Loggins, The Carpenters, and Debbie Harry to Willie Nelson, Sara McLachlan, and The Dixie Chicks. Even Johnny Mathis had a go at it.

But I stumbled across a version by Ashley Gramins on iTunes recently, and it was like hearing it for the first time all over again.

Check out a sample of Asley's version at iTunes, or on "Mama Rocks!" at

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic...
Have you been half asleep?
And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be...
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.
Laa, da daa dee da daa daa,
La laa la la laa dee daa doo...

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Bill Belichick's theme for the 2008 New England Patriots is "Finish."

Patriots fans for whom this photo generates dangerous levels of hypertension and nausea will understand.

Forget the regular season records and forget all that "Perfect Season" crap.

Finish this season with another NFL Championship.

Are you listening, offensive line?

No more pictures like this one.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Diamonds and Rust

I remember listening to Dick Summer’s show on WBZ radio in Boston when I was at Penn State and wishing that I could be part of the folk music scene he described at places like Club 47 and The Unicorn

I related more to the folk and “protest” songs from the singer/songwriters he played than I did to the stale pop songs that still dominated the music business at the time, extending the Fifties all the way into 1964

So a highlight one summer back then was seeing Joan Baez in concert at Rutgers, and then seeing her a year later in concert in Asbury Park – this time with Bob Dylan

We saw her at the Newport Folk Festival in 1967, but by that time the transition from acoustic music to rock and roll was beginning to pass her by

However, her commitment to peace and justice has never wavered over the years, and in fact she is right now in the middle of a world tour (click on the title for more information)

We’re going to see her in concert at The Berklee Performance Center in November, just a block or two from where The Unicorn used to be on Boylston Street

Gotham City

We saw "The Dark Knight" in IMAX, and one of the uncredited stars was Gotham City at night, a spectacular blend of Manhattan, Chicago and Los Angeles. As the camera para-glided over the glittering metropolis, I had the same wonderful sensation I get at "Soarin" at EPCOT. For me, Gotham was the highlight of what was a very good (not great) film, too bloated for my taste with noisy explosions and collisions. But I guess that's what generates buzz and revenue at the cinema complex these days, and in that regard it appeared to have been very well done.

I was: sad to see Rachel killed off, mesmerized by the The Joker, and wondering if that was a perfectly good Lamborghini they trashed or just CGI.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Don't Want To Talk About It...

When Alexis Gorman, 26, wanted to tell a man she had been dating that the courtship was over, she felt sending a Dear John text message was too impersonal. But she worried that if she called the man, she would face an awkward conversation or a confrontation.
So she found a middle ground. She broke it off in a voice mail message, using new technology that allowed her to jump directly to the suitor’s voice mail, without ever having to talk to the man — or risk his actually answering the phone....(click on title for more)

Friday, August 1, 2008