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.