Monday, December 29, 2008

He Loves Paris

The new single, "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris," will be released in February. It's a glorious sounding song and the lyrics are classic Morrissey. I'm already getting excited about the new album and the tour.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Judy Garland sings "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

From "Meet Me in St. Louis"
Here's a synopsis:
It's 1903 and the well-off Smith family, with four beautiful girls, including Esther (who's just fallen in love with the boy next door) and little Tootie, learn that their father has been transfered to a new job in New York, which means they will have to leave St. Louis, the upcoming World's Fair and all their friends and family, behind, setting the stage for this poignant song.

A Merry Little Christmas

There are Christmas songs and carols and hymns that I like far and above any others, among them "Adeste Fidelis," "Silent Night," "Do They Know It's Christmas," any of those Vince Guaraldi "Charlie Brown Christmas Show" songs, and the David Bowie/Bing Crosby "Little Drummer Boy." But no other song quite has the power and punch and emotional impact for me as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Like any Christmas song, there are many versions of it and many are done quite badly by people who just sing it without understanding it. It wasn't until just last year that I discovered how great this song, in the right hands, could be.

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light,
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight..."

Because I had my own beliefs as far as how I thought the song came about, I looked into its origin and uncovered just how many layers there are to the story. Because of the lyrics, which speak of being away from dear friends and maybe being with them again next year, I thought that it was a World War II-era song, perhaps originally sung by Frank Sinatra. Would have been a great story, but not quite the case, although Frank figures quite prominently in the story of the song, but later on in its history.

Hugh Martin wrote the song for the 1943 Judy Garland movie, "Meet Me in St. Louis." Judy thought the song was too maudlin, that people would hate her character for singing such words, so he lightened it up a bit (but not too much -- the original said "Have yourself a merry little Christmas/It may be your last..." the newer version was just as sad-sounding, but more along the lines of "we'll be together some day," instead of "no more Christmases for you!" I paraphrase.)

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the yuletide gay,
Next year all our troubles will be miles away..."

While "Meet Me in St. Louis" was a hit movie, Christmas songs apparently weren't such a big deal back then, so it didn't become a hit (that distinction went to "The Trolley Song). Still, what with all the turmoil Judy was going through and would continue to go through in her personal life, the scene where she sings that song stands as a mesmerizing moment, where some real truth shines through.

Sinatra sang the song in 1947, but 10 years later he went to Martin and told him he wanted to do the song again, but he wanted it to swing just a bit and the lyrics needed to change for this new version. Martin surprisingly (hey, are you gonna argue with Sinatra?) went along with the request and changed tenses into the present, as well as taking out the "we'll have to muddle through some how," and replacing it with "hang a shining star upon the highest bough!"

"Once again as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who were dear to us,
Will be near to us once more..."

Whatever lyrics are used, the song still has a maudlin, wistful, sad quality to it. It rolls right over all the silly, goofy Christmas songs, and among the season's secular songs, this one is as close to sacred as you can get. Anybody can sound happy. Anybody can act happy. But it takes someone who has truly lived to be able to convey these sort of feelings to you, whether they are singing or acting or writing. That's part of the appeal for me of a singer such as Morrissey, for instance, or the sad songs of the Carpenters -- there's just so much more there to appreciate and relate to. Just because someone is singing a sad song doesn't mean they or those listening will slit their wrists when the last note is played -- rather, I think, they know what it's like to be happy, they know what it's like to be sad, and they won't ignore the bittersweet feelings, they won't pretend things are OK when they are not. But through it all, they smile at the memory of a happy day and somewhere in their hearts, somehow, they keep hope alive that they may yet again share in those happiest of days with the ones they love.

"Someday soon we all will be together,
If the fates allow,
Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow
(Hang a shining star upon the highest bough)...

And have yourself, a merry little Christmas now."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leno to Wanda Sykes: "I Made You Gay!"

Sure you did, Jay. Nevertheless, it was cool for Leno to have Wanda Sykes on his show to talk about her recent coming out and the Prop. 8 fight.

"Pork and beans, they stick to your ribs. Not like hate. Hate fills you up," she said. Great analogy.

I've always kind of liked Wanda Sykes. Really. Even better is she talked about Prop. 8 and being gay and she did not sound like a Public Service Announcement. She was pretty funny, too.

And when it's all said and done, in the near future, marriage will be equal. But as she alluded to in the interview, the Mormon and Catholic Churches will have spent so much money and effort fighting it, and all while they could have done something decent and Christian with that money and time and effort and energy. Really, you've got to ask just what Jesus would have done. How would he have reacted to so much money being spent to spew and inflame hatred when it could have gone to feed the hungry, clothe those who need clothes and house those who have no homes. That's one of the saddest things about it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"I'm Shocked!"

The past 24 hours, when Illinois politicians were tripping over themselves running fast and far from now indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich and were just as madly trying to outdo each other with their expressions and exclamations of shock and dismay over his alleged corruption, made me think of this scene from Casablanca.

In it, the police guy says he is "shocked to find out there is gambling going on here," and as soon as he finishes saying that, someone brings him his winnings from said shocking gambling.

Similarly, how many of these politicians, be they Democratic or Republican, knew Blagojevich was dirty? Why did no one say so publicly before the indictment? Why did no one who was approached by him or his lackeys (yeah you Jesse Jr., Sam Zell and Ms. Sneed) go to the feds? (the exception, it turns out, being Rahm Emmanuel, who may have been the one to tip off the feds about Blagojevich's outright auctioning of Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.)

Shocking, indeed, but not because of the reasons these bums want us to believe.

Do I Make You Nervous?

Two people who just may be the most beautiful couple to appear on film, in a smoldering scene from 1951's "A Place in the Sun."

Oh, but no one knew the pain behind the faces of Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift. Such great chemistry on screen between these two. Maybe that's part of why they lasted as the greatest of friends until Monty died.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crane Kenny

I don't mean to direct any more attention the way of the guy running the Chicago Cubs, whose name is Crane Kenny, but that's the name that came to mind for this item. The crane Kenny I am talking about here, however, is Ken Derry, an actual crane operator for McHugh Construction, which is the firm putting together the Trump Tower in Chicago. He has taken loads of absolutely stunning photos from his perch, often high above the city, throughout construction of the building. He has put them together on this photo blog.

Some of the photos are just absolutely breathtaking, especially when you stop to consider that there was someone behind the camera, sometimes 70 or 80 stories above the city, exposed to the elements, with no walls or windows around them. I'd be terrified to be up there with them, but these guys, the construction workers who take the dreams and visions of real estate developers and architects and make them into reality, have got to have balls of steel to do what they do. Hats off to them.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Wordsmith

President-elect Barack Obama said some pretty extraordinary things during his primary and general election campaigns over the past two years. His words were sometimes criticized and belittled by his opponents, but the fact is that they inspired millions and more impressively, they consoled and encouraged his supporters when things seemed down, when the campaign experienced a setback or two. Like any politician, Obama didn't write every word of every speech. He had a team of three people handling those duties. Esquire magazine has put together a brief profile on one of Obama's speechwriters, Jon Favreau. (Not the star of "Swingers," in case you are wondering.)

One of the more interesting things about Favreau's work, the Esquire piece points out, is how he handled Obama's primary loss in New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton.

"After consulting with Obama for half an hour -- Obama talked, Favreau typed notes -- they decided to reprise the hopeful refrain of 'Yes we can ...' which had been the slogan of Obama's 2004 senate race in Illinois. And at that moment, a mere presidential campaign was transformed into a movement, coalesced around three simple words."

Awesome. People who use words to inspire and encourage and aim for the stars. How cool is that?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Not My Church

When people act out in a blatantly homophobic manner, rather than get angry at them, maybe it's more constructive to ask, "what are they afraid of?" or "what are they trying to hide?" If someone isn't trying to dispel any doubts about their own sexuality, then why would they feel a need or desire to taunt gays with hateful rhetoric or to engage in physical violence against them? We see this all the way from the high school jock bullies who use the word "fag" or rough up gay boys in public, while acting quite differently in private, sometimes with the same boys they terrorize publicly, to examples like the supposedly closeted Dan White, the tortured man who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and gay city supervisor Harvey Milk.

Recently another entity afraid of its gay shadow has begun to seriously act out against the gays. The Catholic Church. For years the Church has scapegoated homosexual priests as the cause of its history of child abuse, when the facts disprove that assertion and the Church itself, in covering up or refusing to acknowledge the problem and prosecute the criminals, is really the one that is (since it is since going on and lawsuits are still being filed) more at fault. But now the Church (as much as I have grown to hate the institution I still capitalize the "C," since it is a sign of respect, respect that the Church has frittered away) is going after the gays again, and making no secret of it.

While the marches, protests and boycotts in the wake of the passing of California's Prop. 8, which denied marriage rights to gays and lesbians by a vote of 52 percent to 48 percent have targeted for the most part, Mormons, the Catholic Church has escaped the brunt of such outrage. The Church, however, recruited the Mormons into the Prop. 8 fight and the U.S. Conference of Bishops, headed by Chicago's very own Francis Cardinal George, gave at least $200,000 to the cause to strip a segment of the population of their inherent human rights (yes, that's right, it's a human right, not a religious right. If it is not a human right then take away all the civil rights, such as joint filing of income taxes, tax-exempt status for churches that perform marriages, etc.). And where do you think the money the bishops gave to uphold "traditional" marriage came from ? Well, certainly not their own change purses -- it comes from the pews. The pews where church-going people who reach into their pockets and give a few bucks to their archdiocese sit. But that's hardly surprising that churchgoers have to pay for the bishops' political activity, since those same churchgoers are the ones who have gotten stuck with the bills of millions of dollars related to lawsuits stemming from sexual abuse by priests.

But the Church's attack on peaceful, decent, law-abiding gays and lesbians isn't limited to the United States. They (and when I say 'they' I mean the Prada-wearing queen who is the head of the Church in Rome and all his minions) want to bully and deny the most basic human rights to gays and lesbians throughout the world. According to Time magazine, Pope Benedict XVI has gotten his United Nations envoy, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, to announce "that the Vatican will oppose a proposed U.N. declaration calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals."

According to Time's Jeff Israely, "No one should be surprised to find the Catholic Church hierarchy butting heads with gay rights activists. But this particular French-sponsored proposal, which has the backing of all 27 European Union countries, calls for an end to the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation. Most dramatically, in some countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by death." Of course, the ever-compassionate Catholic Church is still opposed to the death penalty (they're "pro-life," don't cha know) so they wouldn't go so far as to endorse the death penalty for homosexuals, but anything short of that, eh, they're kind of fine with. Gotta protect marriage, you know (even though marriage is not part of the U.N. resolution. But the Church has managed to invoke that demon anyway.).

Fueling the fight against equal marriage. Threatening and pressuring those who would support human rights for homosexuals. Rooting out gays from the priesthood. Pinning the blame for the decades of sex abuse in the Church on gay priests. I'm tempted to invoke the well-worn, "Me thinks the men in the Prada heels doth proteth too much" paraphrase, but seriously, why so riled up against the gays? Especially since, for a Church that professes to preach the words and actions of Jesus Christ, who never said anything about homosexuality, it just doesn't seem to be a part of the mission statement. What does the Church have to gain, or rather, what are they trying to protect, by acting this way?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Pilgrims: Cool With Equal Marriage?

Well, at least they may have been cooler with it than today's religious fanatics, says Mo Rocca, in his AOL (AOL? That's still around?) blog.

In a nicely researched, brief blog post, Mo says the Pilgrims, for all their religious devotion, believed only two acts, sacraments, as the Church called them then and now, should be blessed by the church -- and marriage wasn't one of them.

His piece, which is more thoroughly researched than many op/ed columns on the matter these days (see Sun-Times, Chicago, for instance), points out that these Pilgrims, who were way into the Good Book, found no scriptural basis for marriage, and thus believed it to be a purely civil matter. In fact, the whole act of performing marriages within a church is relatively recent, concocted by the Catholic Church in the 12th Century. So much for all those arguments that 'this is the way it's always been' and 'you're insulting and upsetting people's religious beliefs by making them accept gay marriage,' etc., etc.

Facts can be an annoying thing sometimes, can't they?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Snoop Makes Mashed Potatoes

I need to watch more Martha Stewart. Who knew she had guests like Snoop Dogg? She talks about his new Christmas CD, and they make mashed potatoes! Hilarious and very informative. Cream cheese and cognac in your mashed potatoes -- "Yabba Dabba Doo!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bjorn Borg - Love For All

Who knew Bjorn Borg had a dating site/service? Yes, that Bjorn Borg -- the tennis player!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Black Music For White People

Yeah, but I really like Gloria Jones's "Tainted Love." In fact, these days, I prefer it to the Soft Cell version.

Now I'm going to finish off that cous cous I made and listen to some Billy Strayhorn...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Call Me Cuddles

I have a one track mind, and often that track is heading straight into the gutter (though I'm looking up at the stars from there). I got the Angel Tails magazine today from PAWS Chicago, the wonderful no-kill animal rescue shelter. There were interesting stories in there about people who have pit bulls and how they are really great dogs with a bad image because of some rotten people doing rotten things to them, there's a story about the Chicago Police Department's Canine Unit, there are, of course, pleas for donations and volunteers, and brief items on the latest and coolest toys and accessories for your dogs and cats. Oh, and there are loads of pictures of the cutest puppies and kittens!

Then there is a listing, with pictures, of those who have given donations to PAWS in memory of companion animals [I'm so PC] who have died this past year. I have to say, though I'm unable to remember that formula for picking out your porn name, that some of the pups and kitties names -- their names plus their owners' last names, which is a bit weird in its own right, sound downright like, well, if not porn monikers, then stripper names.

Don't believe me? Well, what does "Cuddles Dominguez" sound like to you? "Lady Martha?" "Max Bloodworth?" (OK, that's more a porn name). "Lakota Conroy?" How about "Hawkeye Damolaris?" (Though he should shorten the last name.) How about "Smokee Hoovert?" "Ace and Chip Jellnick" (twins? extra naughty) "Harrison Hardy?" "Golden Boy?" (Oh, c'mon, "Golden Boy?" How cruel could those pet owners be?)

OK, OK, still unconvinced? Alright, I give you ... "Fauna McNear."

Rest in Peace, all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Since Thursday, almost 7,000 acres had been burned, hundreds of homes had been damaged or destroyed and 10,000 people had to evacuate the area because of "two monstrous wildfires," as the New York Times called them, in the San Fernando Valley, about 75 miles north of Los Angeles.

It's obvious that God is angry that California's voters rejected marriage equality. Repeal Prop. 8 before it's too late, California, Repeal! Repent! Your Lord is angry!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My New Crush

I have to admit this crush I have. I just have to. I fell for him since I first saw him a few weeks back, and today I saw him again. He's cute -- adorable, actually -- kind of young, has a great personality, has some baggage (hey, who doesn't?), and worst of all, since this is what tears me up the most, he's available. Such a pity, because I'm nearly certain my partner would allow a third party, at least in this case, into our life. Oh, but this is a crush destined to be unrequited, since my landlord is against these types of relationships and will not allow them in his buildings.

And my heart aches for him because I hope he will find love, and soon. 

His name is Toby, he's a one-year-old Beagle, and he has been the Pet of the Week in the Chicago Free Press for a couple/few weeks now. Toby was abandoned and rescued from a county kill shelter (yes, no typo there -- not a "no-kill" shelter, but a "kill" one). He had "a wagging but sadly broken tail," according to the shelter taking care of him now. "Wagging but sadly broken!" How could you not fall for that? But our apartment building has a "no pets" rule. :( 

If you know anyone who can offer Toby a home, they can call the Quincy shelter at (217) 434-8337.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The First Fan

You can put that election on the boaaaaarrrrddddd ..... YES!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"I Don't Get It"

Walking into the Apparel Center today, there were hundreds of people, nearly all of them Black, waiting in line throughout the day at the Sun-Times store to buy copies of last Wednesday's Chicago Sun-Times (the one that Oprah walked around stage with on her show) that had simply a picture of President-Elect Barack Obama and the words "Mr. President" on the front cover.  

In addition, they were buying copies of the special commemorative section that accompanied Sunday's paper, as well as assorted large, full-color photos of the new president and first family. I believe these photos and front pages are going to be the equivalent of the pictures of JFK that every Irish Catholic family in the United States (as well as some in Ireland) seemed to have hanging in their homes in the 1960s (and beyond).  It is also something that no matter how happy we are that he is going to be our next president, that no matter how progressive we are, no white person can grasp the entire meaning and importance of the election of Barack Obama as president.

After seeing a line with dozens of people, nearly all Black, waiting to buy their copies of last Wednesday's paper, I got on the elevator to go up to work. Also on the elevator were two white guys, in their mid-20s to early-30s, in their "office casual" garb, Blackberry in one hand, Starbucks or Jamba Juice in the other. I caught only the tail-end of their conversation, but it was clear they were commenting on the phenomenon of people buying up copies of last week's post-election paper, since one said, "They're just going to yellow, and disintegrate," then the other agreed, saying, "Yeah, I don't get it."

You're right buddy, you don't get it.

(Post Script: I got off at the 9th floor and these guys were headed to 10, which is where the executive and sales offices of the Sun-Times are. Shit, I'll bet these goofs don't even buy the paper. Yet they can turn up their noses at those who this edition really means something to. One more sign how and why our industry is dying.)

Parade's End

It's very late and I have miles to go before I sleep, but I could not help but be inspired by something I saw today, a picture of a Prop. 8 protestor that was on towleroad, and which I have copied here. 

The man's sign says, "We are not a PARADE." I can't say without knowing him or asking him what it was that he meant exactly, but I could make a good guess. I believe he meant that we are not your minstrel show; we are not nothing more than your shopping friend, your "Jack" from "Will and Grace." We are not your "Queer Eyes," your flirtatious yet closeted pop singers, your chummy waiters, office mates, baristas, bffs, etc. We are not there for you to party with and say you "love!" us, while you would just as soon turn around and vote to deny one of the most basic of human rights.

Protests around the country, like the one the man to the left of this post took part in, are continuing and the calls to repeal Prop 8, and with it the tax-exempt status of the churches that made it pass, are getting louder. There have been some disagreements already as far as what the next steps should be in fighting this law, but inspired by that man's sign, I have an idea that anyone who sincerely cares about this cause should be able to support.

No More Parades.

That's it -- until same sex couples have equal rights across the nation, no more "Gay pride" (or just "Pride") parades, anywhere, in any city in the U.S. Can anyone say what exactly there is to be proud of at a time like this? Look at what the pride parades have become, anyway. Giant booze parties, with just as many voyeuristic and drunken straight folks as there are (equally drunken) gays, celebrating what? Stonewall? I'll bet not even 10 percent of the millions who show up at the pride parades even know what that was. Are they celebrating the mostly naked people dancing on floats throwing beads to drunks? Are they celebrating the mainstream acceptance of gays by the liquor distributors, grocery stores, politicians, realtors, hospitals, drug and utility companies who fill the streets of the gayborhoods with their floats on "pride" days? Like gays need an excuse to party on the weekends, anyway. Besides, it's such a chore for so many to get out the door before noon on a summer Sunday anyway; screw the parade, we'll just get together for brunch. 

Imagine, if Prop. 8 hasn't been repealed by then, a summer with no "pride" parades -- except for Canada. Lovely, enlightened Canada. If the "pride" parades can't be used to make change as opposed to just throwing a party, well, what's their point, then?  And imagine, just imagine, the party there would be once everyone is equal.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Artists United Against Apartheid ~ Sun City

Only this time make Sun City the states of California and Utah. And Florida, as long as we're at it. And move the Sundance Film Festival out of Utah, too.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Day Without a Gay

In the wake of a majority of voters in California having officially taken away the human right of marraige from same-sex couples, Melissa Etheridge has announce she and her wife, er, "special lady friend" won't pay taxes to the state since they are being denied the same rights and tax benefits heterosexual married couples get to enjoy. Mass protests have been staged at headquarters and temples of the Mormons, the religious sect that committed the very un-American act of mixing religion and goverment by pouring upwards of $1 million into writing discrimination into California's Constitution. Petitions are being circulated to have the tax-exempt status taken away from the Mormon church, as it should also be done for the Catholic Church, whose Conference of Bishops got involved in the battle from the pulpits and by giving a quarter-million dollars of church-going Catholics' money to upholding the institution of marriage as between one man and one woman. [Gives new meaning to the term "bully puplpit," eh?] The same should also be done to whatever tax breaks the Knights of Columbus enjoys, as well, given their involvement in "protecting" marriage from the gays.

Protests, petitions, lawsuits and the like may make some noise, but I'm not so sure of how effective any of it would be in reversing what more than 50 percent of Californians voted into law this past week. Some supporters of equal marriage rights say, "let's just chill for now, step back and be heartened by the gains in public support we've made and work for the next couple/few years to win over those who were swayed by the Mormon/Catholic/fanatic Republican campaign of fear." Others suggest that since equal marraige is not as big a deal to people in their 20s and 30s as it is to those in their 60s and older, that, hey, if we just wait a few years for enough of the old folks to die off, then the electorate that is left will grant us the same rights as they enjoy. Yeah, I can't seem to recall the speech that Dr. King agve where he said, "a majority of the young white people today think we negroes are more or less equal to them. If we just wait for the old white people to die off, we will eventually overcome!"

Until their involvement in this campaign to strip a small minority of their rights bankrupts [financially -- they're already there morally] the Mormon and Catholic churches and their associated organizations and allies, I have a better idea, one that will hit that 52 percent or so of Californians who voted for Prop. 8 where they will feel it most.

Where is that? Everywhere; their coffee shops, their restaurants, their nightclubs, their salons, their schools, their workplace IT departments ... everywhere. How does this happen? Easy. By staying home. Call it a great gay blue flu. Like that movie "A Day Without a Mexican," where there were no landscapers, no nannies, no cooks, no dishwashers, no day laborers, no hotel workers, a lot fewer mechanics, and less lawyers, teachers, TV newspeople, athletes, etc. because all the Mexicans took the day off, well, every gay, no matter what they do for a living, should just take the day off. Imagine the havoc it would cause! The businesses that would have to shut down for the day! The frantic people who could not get their special coffee in the morning or brunch in the late morning, the department and specialty stores that would be empty because all the retail queens stayed home to watch "Ugly Betty" and "ANTM" DVDs. Of course, this would also include all the gay and lesbian teachers and doctors, lawyers and cooks, bank tellers, concierges, waiters, executive assistants, computer technicians, wedding planners, (oh, especially wedding planners), etc., etc.

Why not? I know it's easy for me, safely practicing my nearly invisible punditry from thousands of miles away to tell every gay and gay-supportive person [yeah, I just expanded the boundaries here of this action. I'm inclusive like that] to call in for a day (oh hell, make it two days) of civil disengagement, but what else can you do, what other form of protest can get the idea through to those who voted to strip this segment of the population of their rights of the fact that it is insane and ridiculous to pour so much time and effort and money into fighting something that threatens them in no way whatesover?

Additionally, some people want a boycott of the state of Utah, because that's where the Mormon church is headquartered. Great, but why not extend that boycott to California? If you're watching this unfold from one of the other 49 states, hold off on that California vacation for a while. Turn the state of California into Sun City -- if you are a gay or gay-suportive musician or movie producer/director, don't tour in California and film that movie of yours somewhere else this time (Toronto! Chicago! Both places would love your movie business and are very gay-friendly) . 

If your organization, whether it is an association of gay journalists, travel agents, accountants -- or anything from housewares to electronics to specialty candy -- has an annual convention, take that convention anywhere but California. Hey, Steve Jobs, you and Apple fought against Prop. 8, well, why not move your MacWorld and other events out of the state until the voters of California come to their senses?

This is Apartheid, and the places that provide a home for it should be treated like Sun City.

"Sprinkles and Flurries"

It's that time of the year in Chicago, when Fall just can't be Fall, but Winter has to get up in its face, throwing a little bit of a bite into what would normally be a crisp, cool Autumnal Day. Early November light rain has its appearance ruined by bursts of cold wind, interspersed with bits of snow.

A neat thing, though, that happens when this occurs is that we get to hear phrases such as, "a high tempretaure of 41 today, and scattered sprinkles mixed with flurries later on" in radio weather reports. A couple times today I've heard the phrase "sprinkles and flurries," which kind of sounds like a cool, tasty dessert treat. Now that's not so bad, is it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Game Over"


She Didn't Even Know What Countries are in NAFTA

Wow. "She's a maverick, like me!" McCain, who we now learn didn't even speak to Sarah Palin during their campaign, said. The Caribou Kool-Aid drinkers said stuff like, ,"She understands real Americans! She knows Joe Six-Pack and his cousin Joe the Plumber (who we now know was an unlicensed, non-union fraud). She's hot! (yes, they seriously said that)"

Idiots. All deluded, hateful idiots. The woman was who the Republican Party's pick to be the person was would be one heartbeat away from the most powerful, most important elected official on earth did not know what countries are part of NAFTA (even though she lives in one and could probably see the other from her back porch) and she didn't know that Africa is not a country, but a continent. Is she smarter than a 5th grader? Obviously not.

Not only that, she eschewed pre-interview preparation, had temper tantrums and used her campaign as a personal shopping spree for her and her family at "elite" places like Nieman's and Saks.

And some are STILL talking her up for 2012? For what? President of Freakistan? Sheesh.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope Wins

Tonight we got our country back. God Bless America. 

Fear, pettiness, ugliness were defeated. They'll still be around, and as loud as ever, but for once the American people rejected all that and looked inside to find something better, because at least 50 million of them realized we can do better, we can be better, we can be that country people once looked up to, once again. 

Hope never dies. I am so proud to be an American right now. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

That's A Lot Of Lipstick ...

On the heels of the reports of Gov. Sarah Palin's $150,000 clothing purchase, courtesy of McCain campaign donors, comes this report from the New York Times; that in the first two weeks of October alone, a makeup artist was paid nearly $23,000 to be on hand for and perform makeup-ing services for Caribou Barbie. 


But hey, she's just a regular hockey mom, championing the regular Joes and Joe Six Packs and Joe the Plumbers.  If she wasn't already a huge liar, and an altogether joke of a candidate, she'd be the world's greatest hypocrite. Now I know why they were so sensitive to that lipstick on a pig thing.


I had an interesting dream last night, the sort that most people would consider a nightmare if they had it, but I took it as meaning that maybe I don't want to leave my line of work just yet.

Some event had happened such as a kid running away or missing or getting killed and I was out and somehow wound up on a city beach (which weirdly looked like the beach in Lake Michigan Beach, Mich.) Now I know it was a dream because I actually got to leave the office, which never happens in real life. There were a handful of folks around, there for a search party or something like that, and there was one cop standing on said beach. He saw me and somehow knew I was a reporter and asked (without saying anything I should add) which one I was there for -- I wondered for just a second, then saw a really fat naked body (white male, bald, if you must know) a little bit away from everyone else, with a thin sheet over him. 

I don't know if the fat beached guy was someone people were looking for or what, but I know I felt a thrill upon seeing him, and knowing that no other reporter knew about this guy. 

So that's it. I guess I'm not sick of my job yet. Dreaming about dead people and not getting bothered by it doesn't make me a sick person, though (but maybe saying out loud that I hope someone dies from a fire or accident in a certain suburb where the 'spokesperson' doesn't live up to her job title because that's the only way anyone would get any information on said horrible incident just might make me a sicko. That's what Hildy Johnson was talking about.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hate and Fear

We're better than this. America is better than this. I'm going to pray for this country, and for Senator Obama.

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Memoriam: Dee Dee Warwick

R & B singer Dee Dee Warwick, a talented woman and older sister of Dionne Warwick, who never quite reached the pinnacle of fame that Dionne or others of her time did, died this past weekend at her home in New Jersey. She was 63 years old. Her sister was at her side when she died.

What makes sad news such as this sadder for me is that I only recently, within the last week or so, "discovered" Dee Dee Warwick, through music blogs and itunes. I had put a handful of her songs, such as "Rescue Me," "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," and "I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do," in my itunes "Wish List," to purchase later. Needless to say, I've hit the "BUY SONG" button on a few of these songs today after reading about her passing.

Dee Dee Warwick was a two-time Grammy winner and her version of "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" came out before the more well-known version that was covered by Diana Ross and the Supremes.From reading her bios and notes on itunes and elsewhere, she didn't reach the heights of fame not because she didn't have the talent, but she could have used some better songwriters,musicians and marketing. Just listen to something like "Yours Until Tomorrow," though, which is a low-key plea to someone who could be a one-night stand, to just hang around until the morning ("Give me one night of your life, just be mine until dawn") or "I Haven't Got Anything Better to Do," in which she sings that she could care less about someone she was in love with, but she keeps thinking about him, because she hasn't "got anything better to do." The sometimes gritty, unpolished nature of her music makes it even more forceful.

I'll admit her voice isn't as silky smooth as others who sang the same type of songs, and it's tough to find really good-sounding versions of her songs because most were originally recorded in the 1960s, but you should, especially if you like soul music and girl groups and the kind of stuff that Dave Roberts plays at the Holiday Club on Thursday nights, check her music out. You'll be the better for it, as will your music collection.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starr Treatment

Of all the news of the past five days or so during my self-imposed news exile, one of the few pieces of 'news' that I managed to hear in its entirety was that Ringo Starr has pleaded with people who send him autograph requests, to do so no more, because he is simply overwhelmed by them all. Apparently, up until now, he has read and responded to the mail that he gets.

I don't know what would drive a person, especially in 2008, other than, say, a fervent Beatle fan, to write to Ringo Starr asking for his autograph, but it reminded me of something I used to do when I was really young, up until maybe my mid-teens. Starting in about 4th or 5th grade, and lasting about two years, a rather large group of kids at St. Ladislaus grammar school would share addresses of TV studios movie and TV stars' agents, and we would mail our autograph requests to them. We were quite successful, actually, in acquiring some publicity photos with stamped autographs on them. Of course, the ones I collected are all gone now, but a couple of the good ones I got were "autographed" cast photos from shows like "Happy Days" and "One Day At A Time."

I branched out into doing the same thing, with various degrees of success, with sports stars. I would walk to the movie (and some sports) memorabilia store at Addison and Central and buy the Sports Collectors Digest, which was a stapled, photocopied-quality guide to the prices of baseball and other sports cards, along with some ads, and they had a small section that actually listed the home (or business) addresses of (mostly retired) sports stars. I would print or type a polite request to the star, then include a card of theirs and a self-addressed envelope and hope for the best.

I actually got a few replies from the maybe a dozen or so requests I sent out. The late Los Angeles Dodgers pitching great Don Drysdale was one who sent my card back, autographed, as was late Chicago Blackhawks great Keith Magnuson. I have their cards around somewhere, and I likely will never sell them. Another autographed card I got was from Chicago White Sox pitcher Wilbur Wood, who was pretty good in his day.

The whole idea of writing (not e-mailing) a letter to someone and asking for their autograph seems like something from a time that has long passed, which is mainly what surprised me about the Ringo Starr announcement. I just can't imagine doing anything like that in this day and age. I mean, who would I send something like that to? (Hmmm, "Dear Anderson Cooper ...")

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bad Citizens

No filters. No boundaries. You post it, it's as good as real news. That's how CNN bills its "citizen journalism" site. Last week a "citizen journalist" posted a tip about Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs being rushed to a hospital after suffering a heart attack. Of course, the "news tip," posted on CNN's Web site by esteemed reporter "Johntw," was untrue, but wasn't found out until it had been picked up, passed around and created such a twitter in the tech and financial circles that Apple stock fell about 10 percent because of this "news."

So, this is the future of journalism?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Re-issue, Re-package ...

A long time ago, Morrissey mocked those record companies who would "re-issue [and] re-package" the music of one of their artists, merely to squeeze more money from the fans of the artist, who may not even be on the label anymore or who might even be dead and not making new music. For quite awhile I've honored Morrissey's opinion by not giving in and buying any of his CDs that had previously been released (though I have almost every CD single of his -- I haven't replaced all the vinyl Smiths singles I have purchased over the past two decades), but I may give in at this point and buy the next planned re-issue, of his album "Southpaw Grammar."

According to the quasi-official Morrissey site True-to-You (Julia, Julia, why does he love you more than me, Julia?) Southpaw Grammar will be re-released in January 2009, with new artwork and three previously unreleased songs. That's it, I'm in; they've got me. This time.

(The new songs are "Honey You Know Where to Find Me, Fantastic Bird and You Should Have Been Nice To Me.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This Was Dessert...

From shoeless james

What better way to follow up the "Godzilla" sushi than with a banana tempura? This is Inari Sushi's dessert which, if you can believe it, tastes better than it looks. It is tempura banana, served with cinnamon gelato, topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream. MMMMMMM... The cinnamon gelato works remarkably well with the banana, and the bottom of it, with the banana, is warm, while of course, the gelato is cold, yet it all works. Oh, does it ever work.

Look! Godzilla!

From shoeless james

My new favourite sushi restaurant is Inari Sushi, on North Avenue, just west of Harlem, in Elmwood Park. Yep, a sushi restaurant over by North and Harlem in Elmwood Park. This plate has a combination of the Godzilla and Hawaiian maki-mono sushis. They were incredible. Later I will post a picture of what I had for dessert.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sarah, Sarah ...

Like the song from Jefferson Starship says, (with a different spelling of her name, but that's beside the point), "Sarah, Sarah, storms are brewin' in your eyes...Sarah, Sarah, we're fire and ice, the dream won't come true..."

The best description I've heard lately of Ms. Palin came from Julie Brown (the woman who gave us the classic songs "Earth Girls Are Easy," "I Like 'Em Big and Stupid," among others), who was on the Stephanie Miller show Thursday on Air America radio. She said Palin looks like someone in the first scene of a porno. Then the glasses come off, the hair gets shaken, and ... "I can see your country from my house, President Putin...Can you see my house from your country? Oh, I bet you can."

And I don't even want to think about what might happen were she to meet President Sarkozy and Carla Bruni...

Congratulations, Twinkies!

If you know me well enough, you know that I live and die with the Chicago White Sox. One of the most deliriously happy days of my life was when they won the World Series in 2005. This season the team surpassed pre-season expectations by playing pretty well, grabbing on to first place in an admittedly weak division early in the season and holding on through the entire season ... until this past week.

The Sox should have been able to put it away this past week. The only team that was seriously challenging them for the division title was the Minnesota Twins and they were a few games behind them. All the Sox had to do was win more than half of their remaining games, win at least a couple of the head-to-head games against the Twins this week, and the season would end with the Sox on top of their division and we'd be looking forward now to the post-season, and possibly meeting the Chicago Cubs in a once-in-a-hundred years World Series.

Well, it ain't gonna happen. The Sox have just lost their third consecutive game against the Twins, who have overtaken them for first place. With less than a week left in the season, the Sox would have to win their three games against the Cleveland Indians, then the lowly Kansas City Royals would have to win at least a couple games against the Twins, in order for the Sox to get back into first place, end the season there and go on to the playoffs.

I am furious at the anemic play of the Sox these past couple weeks. Tonight, for example, even when they were winning, pitcher Matt Thornton came on in relief with men on the bases and two outs. The batter grounded to the shortstop, who flipped the ball to the second baseman, who then made an all-out effort to get the ball to first base and complete the double-play. The ball bounced in to first, but it didn't matter, because there were already two outs! The guys on the field for the Sox didn't even know how many outs there were! (with the exception of Thornton, who tapped his cap on the way in to the dugout, as if to say, 'wake up, dumbasses!'

Even though the Sox had a 6-1 lead at one point in tonight's game, the lead never seemed secure,m based on how the Sox have played lately and also how enthusiastically the Twins and their fans were reacting. These folks wanted it more than the Sox, they played with more heart and intensity than the Sox and they deserved this win, just like they deserve to be in first place and the Sox do not.

Twins fans, I'm happy for you. Sox, I wash my hands of you (at least until next spring). Now, on to hockey season!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This Should be McPalin's Theme Song

Whenever I read something new about the McCain/Palin campaign, this song comes into my head.

Rather than Heart protesting the McCain campaign's use of "Barracuda," I think the Thompson Twins should just donate this song to the senator from Arizona and his GILF.

The funny thing is, when I went to YouTube and just typed in the name of this song, "Lies," the top few videos that popped up were things such as a McCain spokesman who was unable to support any lies McCain had told, McCian getting grilled on The View regarding the lies he's been telling, and some news commentator exposing Sarah Palin's lies.

Maybe not so much funny, but sad.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Little Britain Invades the U.S.

Little Britain, the hilarious BBC TV show, starts a new season on September 28. If you're not familiar with the show, it's uproariously funny, often in bad taste, ingenious and slap your knees funny. It's narrated by Tom Baker, who still is perhaps the most famous Dr. Who ever (he was the one with curly hair and the long scarf). This season the Little Brits do their show from the U.S. and initial reservations at least partly aside, from this preview clip, they seem not to have suffered comedically a bit. The third bit here, with special guest star Rosie O'Donnell joining the "Fat Fighters" group, makes me definitely want to get this season on DVD as soon as it comes out (since I don't have HBO).

Friday, September 12, 2008

Say Anything

I suppose that's the new motto of the McCain/Palin campaign.

Health Crisis

I had such lovely plans for my half-day off today. I got out of bed early, so that I'd be sufficiently drowsy later tonight so that I could nap before going into work; then I was to go to the gym and try to run at least four miles, then have a leisurely lunch somewhere around the quiet Wrigley Field, maybe do some window shopping on Broadway, read a bit at my favourite Caribou, etc., and watch a dvd when i got home in the late afternoon.

But those plans were led astray by a bit of a medical crisis. I won't get into all the details, but it involved blood, a bit of pain and wondering where the blood had come from and why. I called the doctor, who allayed my fears and told me to make an appointment next week if the symptoms persisted.

Then, like any good 21st century hypochondriac, I looked up some symptoms on the Internets, and what I found shocked and enraged me. I looked at dozens of posts on a couple sites/boards and in at least one-third of them, the person describing their symptoms/asking for advice, also stated he or she did not have insurance or that they did not want to go to the doctor because they couldn't afford it. In one particularly chilling post, on a craigslist board, some guy in Ohio who stated that his wife was a nurse but still, he had no insurance, said that he was actually in an emergency room and a doctor was telling him he was having s stroke, when he pulled the IV out of his arm, leaving blood in his wake, because he didn't want to be admitted because he could not afford a hospital stay! In the same post, the guy also said, "I don't want to die." But he left a hospital, where he was already being treated and diagnosed, because he was more afraid of the hospital bill! Other posts, on that and other boards, stated stories that were not quite as shocking, but terrible just the same. People asking complete strangers who are not doctors, for diagnoses of their medical maladies because they cannot afford to see a doctor or they can't take an unpaid day off work so they can be professionally treated.

This is not Calcutta, this is not Darfur. This, in the United States of America, in the year 2008. So many people, who cannot or will not, because of financial fears, go to a doctor when there is something clearly wrong, won't be seen by a doctor until their pain is so great they wind up in an emergency room, and sometimes, by the time they get there, it's just too late.

And who has a plan to stop this? Who is fighting for the people in this other America -- you know, the poor one? John Edwards is now ridiculed and pushed to the side of the road politically because of some awful decisions he made in his personal life, but what he said about there being Two Americas is absolutely correct. There is the America where people are safe, and content and comfortable, then there's the America where an unplanned medical issue or an automotive problem or a bill that comes due that is greater than what was expected, can spell financial doom for too many people. Meanwhile, all we seem to be hearing about from people who want to "change" things is how upset they are about a comment someone else made or how we need to drill for oil or how Russia better not mess around with some country that no one other than Russians have ever even been to, or how "my opponent" lies or "my opponent" is naive and thinks the American people are stupid, etc., etc., etc.

Enough. Someone needs to come up with some solutions, and quickly, before more people live in pain and die needlessly. The city of Chicago is spending billions of dollars to attract and possibly hold the Olympics in 2016. The city has even targeted hospitals which haven't done a lot of business as places that could be torn down or converted into housing for athletes. The city council bickers about banning and then unbanning certain foods or types of baseball bats, and the county of Cook, mired in political nepotism and cronyism, spends money on promotional magazines that never get distributed and cuts funding of medical facilities, while the county board president keeps adding staff to his PR crew. And hardly anyone ever dares talking about how to fix the health system in this country, lest they be labeled a "socialist" by the Republicans.

Enough. Enough, enough. Won't anyone actually do anything?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Yes We Can

Where has Boy George been lately, you ask? Well, we know he hasn't been to America -- some nasty business about a Visa denied, some rumors about a drug offense, maybe a bit of kidnapping, some court-mandated community service picking up garbage -- but he's paid a visit to one place he truly belongs, and that's the recording studio.

Here is his video for "Yes We Can," Boy George's campaign anthem/mantra for Barack Obama. Think of it as the 21st century answer to Frank Sinatra's "High Hopes," which he recorded for the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.

Like "High Hopes," this is a lovely, peppy, fun, cheery, optimistic, and, well, hopeful song. Too bad Boy George can't get into this country to sing it live. But that's what the Internet is for. Pass it around, tell your friends about it, turn it up and play it loud at home and hopefully we will also hear it many times through the night and into the early morning in November.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Who's the Elitist Cosmopolitan Now?

For all their harping about elitist, latte-sipping, San Francisco values, "cosmopolitan" Democrats who don't understand the common folk, Republicans sure are hypocritical, two-faced liars.

Vanity Fair reports that Cindy McCain's convention outfit -- the saffron shirt dress with the popped collar, diamond earrings, four-strand pearl necklace, white Chanel watch and strappy shoes -- cost an estimated $313,000.

According to Vanity Fair, the Senator's wife is known to favor Escada, Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera and was recently seen shopping at Oscar de la Renta's New York -- as in big Liberal New York City -- showroom.

And people got all worked up over John Edwards' haircuts? But I suppose if the people supporting your husband for president are apt to break out in cheers of "Drill, Baby, Drill!" it doesn't much matter that what you spent on one outfit could have bought houses for two middle-class American families. And for a couple who don't really know how many homes they own, the price tags don't much matter, do they?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Touch Me

How do I know I'm a geek? I get excited when I hear the words "external volume controls." That is one of the features that supposedly will be a part of the new ipod touch when it is introduced next week.

My plan this summer was to use my tax rebate to buy an ipod touch, but then I started to hear whispers of a new version to be introduced soon. Even as prices fell and I could have found one very cheaply off craigslist from a college student who got a free one with their purchase of a mac this summer, I held out, until i heard more about the new ones. Apple itself finally confirmed, in a way, the rumors in the past few days by announcing an event for next week (like apple though, the company did not release any specifics).

Well, it appears my patience has paid off. Today on ilounge, dimensional drawings for what very well may be the new nano and touch are pictured. The new touch has external volume controls, something that was missing on the current versions -- without the external volume controls, people listening to a touch would have to touch around the screen to bring up the volume control, instead of just being able to control the volume by reaching to the touch, whether it was on your hip, in your hand or in a bag.

Also, according to the ilounge, the new touch has a tapered design, making it similar to the iphone, and appears to be thicker.

I can hardly wait for them to be released.

Liars' Club

According to the AP, some of the fiery claims made by Republicans at their convention this week have been "less than truthful." A few of them:

* Former Arkansas Gov. Mick Huckabee said Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for President of the United States."

* The truth is that Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's race and 909 votes in her 1999 re-election campaign, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

* Palin said Obama plans to raise income taxes, payroll taxes, investment income taxes, the "death tax," and "increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of millions of dollars." This includes higher tax credits for larger families -- like yours, Sarah. He WOULD raise income and payroll taxes, on those people making more than $250,000 a year.

* Sarah, you ignorant slut. Obama's plan is to provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly.

* McCain said Palin was in charge of the Alaska National Guard and "she has been in charge and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities."

* What a stretch. While governors are in charge of their state guard units, the AP says, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for instance, they assume those duties under federal status, which means they report to the Defense Department, not their own governors. By the way, Alaska's National Guard has 4,200 personnel, one of the smallest in the nation. John McCain knows this, and he lied about this.

* Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said, ,"we need change, all right, change from a Liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! Throw out the Big Government Liberals and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin!"

* Where has he been for the past eight years? George W. Bush, a supposedly conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years and until last year, the Republicans controlled Congress, as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Republicans Pale in Comparison

I have a friend who is a Republican and has bought into the whole "Country First," "Obama is a Terrorist" line of thought hook, line and sinker. For some strange reason, maybe because I don't hate the police and am generally cynical and suspect of those who are liberal, even though I am proudly progressive, she still talks to me and I still communicate with her.

She's working hard for McCain, and today I got an e-mail from her, which detailed a trip she took down to St. Louis this past weekend to see the senator from Arizona and his Vice Presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, at a campaign rally.

Following is an excerpt from her e-mail.

"Once we got there they [McCain's people] gave us 'Dem McCrats for McCain' t-shirts. Not too many people on the bus were willing to wear the t-shirts, but I DID -- with Hillary stickers and all!!!!

"At the end I went up to (okay, I pushed my way through) to the Senator and he saw my t-shirt and reached out for my hand. He pulled me through the people and said, 'Thank you very much for wearing that t-shirt. Thank you."

My friend also says that she, in her "Dem McCrats for McCain" t-shirt with Hillary stickers on it, was interviewed by a Chicago TV station, had her picture on Fox News, and had a photo of her and McCain taken by an AP photographer.

So, two things from this. First, Republicans, especially those associated with the McCain campaign, are a bunch of lying, deceitful bastards who will try to manipulate the media and the electorate into thinking Hillary Clinton supporters are actually flocking to McCain/Palin. Secondly, when McCain tells her "Thank you very much for wearing that t-shirt," does that mean that the senator knew about his campaign's efforts in manufacturing fake Hillary supporters and Democrats who now are supporting him?

It's one thing to win a race or try to win a race by debating your merits and your running mate's. It's one thing to lay out your plan for how you will make people's lives better when you are president. It's one thing to suggest that people are switching parties and allegiances to vote for you because they believe in you and your candidacy. It's another matter altogether to lie and to create a movement with lies and deceit and manipulation. The pathetic, desperate bastards.

Friday, August 29, 2008

84,000: Plus 38 million

According to crowd counts from Thursday night, some 84,000 people were at the stadium sometimes known as Mile High in Denver to watch Barack Obama's acceptance speech. This is in addition to the 38 million that Nielsen today says watched at home. That 38 million is more than watched the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing or even the final episode of "American Idol" this past season.

I believe that 38 million is a bit low, though, since across the country, people gathered in homes, apartments, union halls, Party headquarters, restaurants and bars to watch this historic moment with each other. Stephen and I wound up at Joey's Brickhouse, a restaurant about a half-mile west of Wrigley Field, where, even though traffic and parking were both challenging, to say the least, because the Cubs were also playing at home, about 100 people showed up, and packed the restaurant, as well as the bar area. They had a big screen at one end of the restaurant floor, with a smaller HD screen next to it (we got a table right under the big screen!) and another HDTV at the bar. The two restaurant TVs were showing the Convention broadcast from PBS. The TV at the bar was showing the Bears game but at some point before Obama's speech, that TV had been tuned to PBS, as well. By the time Al Gore was speaking, there was not an empty table (there were, I'd imagine, just over 20 tables set up) in the restaurant. There were a few 'four-top' tables were two parties of two were seated, because the joint just couldn't spare any empty seats, at any table. Up until about 15 minutes or so after Obama had begun to speak, people were still poking their heads in the door and a couple handfuls of folks just stood in the doorway, watching the speech.

After the speech was over, we walked down Belmont to Halsted, mainly to get some Cold Stone ice cream, but I wanted to see what the crowds were like throughout that neighborhood. Up and down Halsted Street, mixed in with the folks in Cubs gear walking to their cars or their trains, were people in Obama shirts. There was a steady stream of people coming out of Sidetrack, which had held a big Obama speech-watching party. Hoping to avoid the Cubs traffic on the walk back to my car, we walked through some Lakeview side streets, and every so often we'd see groups of six, or eight or ten people hanging out on a front stoop, their front doors open, with CNN or MSNBC or CSPAN's convention broadcast still on in their living room TVs; some of the people also were wearing Obama shirts or buttons and a few of these condos/apartments had Obama signs in the windows.

In some way it was like walking around after the Super Bowl. If a brief walk down a one-mile stretch of the North Side of Chicago is any indication, that 38 million number is low. Could John McCain fill a high school auditorium, let alone an NFL stadium with people who wanted to hear him speak? Will people, ordinary get up and go to work every day and sit down once a week and figure out how to pay the bills Americans make a point of sitting down to watch him lay out his vision if elected president, let alone gather in groups of eight or ten or 100? If everyone who watched the speech turns out and votes for Obama in November, he should have no problem at all trouncing McCain.

"Experience" is Out the Window

With his pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Sen. John McCain has effectively thrown out the whole argument that the Republican ticket bests the Democrats in terms of experience. I mean, if they want to make an issue out of it, television globe-trekker Michael Palin has greater familiarity with the world outside the U.S. than Gov. Palin.

"It Was Beautiful"

Pat Buchanan, a speech writer for President Richard Nixon, communications director for Reagan, adviser to Ford, conservative pundit, former Republican presidential candidate, founder of AMerican Conservative magazine and commentator/analyst for MSNBC, LOVED Barack Obama's speech Thursday night. And for good reason: as he said, it "came from the heart of America and spoke to the heart of America."

Buchanan loved, as did I, the part where Obama pointed out the hypocrisy and absurdity of McCain's "I'll follow Osama Bin Laden to the gate of hell" comment he brings out time and again. (As an aside, um, how far away are those "gates of hell"? I mean, will we need to appoint an interim president during the time that McCain is gone on his trek to the "gates of hell"? And at his advanced age, is John McCain the most physically capable person to take a voyage down to the "gates of hell"? And why hasn't he followed Bin Laden to the "gates of hell" as U.S. Senator? Is it a place only really, really evil people -- and U.S. Presidents -- can go?)

In case you missed it, and even if you didn't, it's worth repeating; Obama said, "How can he follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell if he won't even go to the cave he lives in?" Yeoww! Bring it, bring it on! Oratorically, Obama ponded McCain into the ropes, and on the ropes is where McCain is now. Which means he's gonna get desperate (as if his campaign so far hasn't ben fraught with desperation). As desperate and ugly as McCian and his hhandlers will get over the next two months, Obama showed Thursday night he's ready for them, and he's gonna punch back.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bring. It. On.

On Sen. Barack Obama's speech tonight in Denver, so far, Andrew Sullivan has summed it up as well as anyone.

"If the Rove Republicans thought they were playing with a patsy, they just got a reality check."

Bring it, Sen. McCain, bring it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

If He's That Unpopular ...

Why is the story about Jay Mariotti leaving the Sun-TImes the "Most Viewed" story right now on the Chicago Tribune's Web site?

Update: So there's no confusion among those who may think that because I thought it ironic that the top viewed story on the Trib site was something about a Sun-Times columnist, that I supported the class-less Mariotti, I have posted a reply to an anonymous replier in the replies section of this post (you know what I mean).

In retrospect, I guess I should have titled this post "Isn't it Ironic?" But Mariotti is popular, if by popular you can also mean James Dobson belongs in the Radio Hall of Fame because he's well, famous.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mario Cuomo's Words to Remember

His speech to the 1984 Democratic Convention. As relevant now, if not more so, as it was then. The man is brilliant. He should have run for President, but perhaps President Obama can appoint him to the Supreme Court.

Friday, August 22, 2008

John McCain, Elitist

From the LA Times:
"A nine-car motorcade took him to a nearby Starbucks early in the morning, where he ordered a large cappuccino. McCain otherwise avoided reporters."

Gee, I wonder if he ordered it in the Starbucks vernacular, as a "venti," as well?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"I'm Not Phelps!"

Hilarious and frightening, in a way. This guy is a swimmer, but he is British, not in this Olympiad and has no Gold medals. Still, people will believe what they want to believe.

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Tell Mama, Tell Mama"

Two great actors, Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, together, just absolutely blowing the roof off the screen (if such a metaphor is possible). They were brilliant together.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If You're So Smart...

Then you must be reading this blog. According to the blog reading level generator/analyzer at, this blog has a college undergrad reading level. Don't you feel smart now? I know I do.

blog readability test

Movie Reviews

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

McCain's Braintrust

This week, Sen. John McCain met with city officials in Lima, Ohio, to talk about the closing of a DHL shipping plant in nearby Wilmington, which will put about 8,000 people out of work.

I found out about this via Robert Reich's blog. Basically, the plant was run by Airborne Express, until Airborne was bought by the German company, DHL. DHL then began giving some work to UPS, which cost them less than it did to ship out of the Wilmington facility, until eventually DHL, decided to save lots more money by simply closing the entire plant. To hell with the thousands of people whose livelihoods depended on that Airborne, then DHL facility. DHL has no emotional or social ties to Ohio or any other U.S. state, so why should they care?

This could have been avoided, Reich believes, if foreign companies were barred from owning American shipping and airline companies. And due to security concerns in this day and age, Congress and the White House can actually stop foreigners from buying American airlines and shipping companies. DHL knew when they wanted to buy Airborne that they'd have to work to get the deal OK'd, so they hired a Washington lobbyist to lobby Congress and get the deal approved.

"Who, exactly, did the lobbying for DHL?" Reich writes. "According to the Associated Press, it was none other than McCain campaign manager Rick Davis."

Incredible. Unfortunately, some other quasi-political story will be all over the news for the next 48 hours or so. And people who could find themselves in the same position as those Airborne/DHL workers in Ohio, or them even, may very well wind up voting for McCain because the Republican fear campaign (fear of "terrorists," fear of two-bride or two-groom weddings, fear of "higher taxes," fear of unpatriotic Americans, fear of a black planet, etc., etc...).

Fodder For Future Therapy

Sometime soon I will discuss what is my favourite reality TV show (as well as being one of my top shows of any type), "Intervention." The Intervention cameras follow around a crack or alcohol or food or whatever addict, who thinks he or she is merely the subject of a documentary on addiction, and not someone who will face an intervention at the culmination of that week's episode.

Inevitably there is one person, be it the addict's mother, father, sister, etc., who acts as an enabler -- who will give them a $20 when they ask for it or even give them a ride to a place where they know their brother, sister or child will meet up with crack or heroin dealer, for example, and get the drugs they need at that moment to keep them from going mad or getting violent or selling their bodies for the needed cash/dope/alcohol. Doing this sometimes tears up the person giving the addict the cash or ride or whatever, but they always explain to the cameras that they don't know what else to do and at least this way they know that for that one day, at least, their relative isn't doing nasty things for money or drugs or if they are getting high or drunk in their house, well, at least they know where they are.

That's what I felt like this afternoon, as another "off day" was melting away as I shuttled my mother to the grocery store, bank, post office, etc. As I sat in the parking lot of the Far Far Northwest Side Dominick's as she took more than an hour to fill her cart with groceries, I seethed at her and her other "children," who cannot ever be bothered to shoulder some of the job of driving her around, spending time face-to-face with her, etc., particularly since going to the bank was not on the agenda when I spoke to her last night, nor was the post office, to return something she inadvertently ordered from some sweepstakes because she believes that if she buys stuff from Publisher's Clearinghouse or whatever, she may actually have someone show up on her front doorstep with an oversized check for hundreds of thousands of dollars (seriously. she thinks this. her other children have no idea of haw far gone she really is).

She kind of said under her breath she had to go to the bank, and I was already so upset with her and her other children that as we were driving back to her apartment I turned onto her street and did not keep going, on to the bank. She then spoke a bit louder, saying she had to go to the bank and I said, 'what for?' to which she replied 'to get my rent money.' I didn't and still don't, believe her. Especially since Thursday when I called her and asked 'what's up?' she groaned and said, 'you don't want to know.' I then said 'oh, been talking to your other kids?' and she said she had been. Which can only mean someone needs money, someone cried, someone presented the most dire of all previously dire pictures to her and there were more tears and more pleas for cash. Also, as soon as she got in the car after filling my trunk with her groceries, she was nervously tapping her fingernails on the armrest.

Maybe she was getting cash for rent, but I tend to think she also withdrew some funds to give to either her 53-year-old daughter or her 58-year-old son -- neither of whom can ever be bothered to ever actually do anything for her and whose dual pillaging of her bank accounts after she sold the old family home led to her declaration of bankruptcy a few years back.

In any case I felt like the mom on Intervention who drives her son to the crack dealer and waits in the parking lot of the parking lot of the suburban Ohio or Missouri Denny's while her boy shoots up or smokes up in the bathroom. But what else can I do? Just Say No and cause more tears? Scream at her? She's 80-something years old and obviously instead of smoking crack or shooting heroin, she continues to fund the lives of her oldest children when though there has to be a part of her that says this is bad (then again maybe she thinks she can, as long as one day Ed McMahon shows up with a big cardboard check).

Or I can hope that a job far, far, away opens up, which I can't refuse, and I can leave them and the psychological damage they are doing to me all behind.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Race Lines

Thursday night I took the train downtown to run in the Elvis is Alive 5K, which was held in Grant Park along Lake Michigan. As anyone who has taken the CTA's Red Line south from the North Side knows, the farther south the train travels, the fewer white people are on the train.

I thought it interesting at one of the first downtown stops -- it may have been Lake Street -- when the white people became fewer and it started to become a train of black folks heading home to the South Side, that a woman, black, asked a man, also black, if there was a White Sox home game tonight, since that would explain why there were still more than a couple white people on the train past say, Monroe, which is about the midway point of the downtown stops. He told her he thought so, but there may also have been a Cubs game that afternoon. (The Cubs are the North Side baseball team, the Sox the South Side club.)

She then replied, "the telltale sign will be Jackson." Jackson is the last downtown stop on the southbound Red Line, before the train heads into Chinatown, then 35th Street, then the rest of the South Side, all the way down to 95th Street. She explained to him, though I got the impression he knew, since he nodded along, that if the white people stayed on the train past Jackson, there was a Sox game tonight and they all were headed to the South Side, whereas, if all the white folks got off at Jackson, then the Cubs had played that day and the night game and their fans were disembarking to go to their downtown hotels or switch trains to the Metra to take them back to the suburbs.

(I don't know what they must have thought of me, since I had on my 1970s Dick Allen-era White Sox cap, and was carrying my change of clothes in the drawstring bag I got at 80s night at the Cell -- the bag has a 1980s era Sox logo on it -- just above the "Get Pepsi Stuff" ad -- and I got off at Jackson to meet Stephen and Stacey for the run.)

In a way I thought it was kind of cool that these two folks (and, I imagine, many more) could determine (me being the exception) what baseball team was playing based on how long the white people stayed on their train, but in another way, I guess I wish it wasn't such that it you are black you live in this or that part of town and if you're white, you obviously don't live there or there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"See You at the Debates, Bitches"

I have never been, am not and don't think I will ever be a fan of Paris Hilton (well, because I can't think of what it is she does, exactly) nor do I really care one bit about her and her escapades.

That being said, I think this video is hilarious and brilliant and, you know, she comes off as sounding more thoughtful and adult than most Republicans these days. You go, girl! ("I have to pick out a Vice President. I'm thinking Rihanna") Ha!

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Barack Out!

On his recent trip abroad, Sen. Barack Obama, while in England, met with Conservative party leader David Cameron. 

Cameron, according to British news sites, was reportedly very impressed by Obama. The Sunday Express says Cameron "cheerfully confessed" that he would "have no hope" if pitted against Obama.

The Sunday Times says Cameron gave Obama a selection of CDs by The Smiths, Radiohead and Gorillaz. 

I can't wait to hear Obama quote The Smiths. 

September Song

It's been a true test of whatever willpower I have, but I have delayed my planned summer purchase of an ipod touch until at least September, when, according to all the rumors, a new and improved (and possibly less expensive) version goes on sale. It seems there may be some truth to the rumors, since apple is dumping their supplies of the current crop of touches, tossing one in for free for college kids who buy a mac and making quite a lot of noise about their sale of refurbished" touches through the apple store. 

I have also found out that Morrissey's new studio album, "Years of Reversal," is complete and will go on sale in September. Patience rewarded, yet again. I can hardly think of a better thing to do with my birthday month than to get a snazzy new ipod and the first album I would download onto it would be the new Morrissey. It's nice to have such things to look forward to.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

"No Paper Today"

Can you imagine what would happen if an established, "Mainstream Media" daily newspaper were to put out a paper on Tuesday, then on Wednesday they just put the same paper out on the streets, with the new headline, "No Paper Today"? Under the headline, there would be a one or two-sentence explanation, saying something to the effect of "we're working on some interesting things" or "we're really busy with book-keeping, vacations and um, a couple of our editors have dentist appointments today," therefore there will be no paper today. "We'll be back tomorrow though. Unless tomorrow is a Saturday, in which case we'll be back in like three or four days."

There would be an outcry! People would say newspapers are dying! They're damned near dead! They're already in the grave, just bury them now!

But that doesn't happen with newspapers. Love or hate them, praise or decry them, there are at least four major newspapers in the Chicago area that are published every day, day in and day out, even on Sundays. Editors and reporters, no matter how sick they sometimes are, no matter how much stuff they are dealing with at home, no matter how much they may have drunk the night before, come in and get the job done and the next day there is a newspaper on your corner or at the newsstand at your office.

But what about bloggers, especially those who love to write on about how bloated and decrepit and behind the times newspapers are? These guys who say the future is in twittering, facebooking, "citizen journalisming" being "mobile journalists" etc.? What happens when one of these self-righteous folks goes to some "citizen journalist" conference or has a medical appointment, or can't find their pants in the morning (or afternoon or whenever they wake up and walk over to their "home office")? You know what happens? They say, "no reporting today" or their "news" section of their site will say "last updated 3 days ago" but their links to the grown-up media will still be up and they promise to be back "soon" with hard-hitting MSM criticism or earnest "reporting" on a Community Policing or Water Reclamation District meeting.  

A bunch of cowardly lions, these types are.