Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Racing Toward Mediocrity

Good grief. It this really what it’s come to?

I’m referring, of course, to a story I heard on the radio the other night about a little boy in New Haven, CT, named Jericho Scott. According to ESPN, “The right-hander has a fastball that tops out at about 40 mph. He throws so hard that the Youth Baseball League of New Haven told his coach that the boy could not pitch any more. When Jericho took the mound anyway last week, the opposing team forfeited the game, packed its gear and left, his coach said.”

What? Are you kidding me? They just ditched? What a bunch of Marys!!! Oh, but it gets better.

“Officials for the three-year-old league, which has eight teams and about 100 players, said they will disband Jericho's team, redistributing its players among other squads, and offered to refund $50 sign-up fees to anyone who asks for it.”

Please, someone stop the world…I want to get off.

Since when did excellence become an offense? Have we, as a society, become so ego-filled that we cannot accept (or even tolerate) the notion that someone, somewhere, MIGHT be better than us in some particular respect?

Why not just compete with the kid? Clearly, he’s gifted and I daresay that facing his 40 MPH pitch might just provide the motivation some kids need to inspire them to excellence.

I guess some of the coaches (and league officials) claim it is “impossible” for other teams to get a hit, and thus (according to their reasoning) the game isn’t worth playing. In addition to this being a massive load of crap, it’s also a bad philosophy. Recall, please, that a ‘four minute mile’ was once thought by some to be impossible, but, lo and behold, 1954 rolls around and Roger Bannister, a Brit, makes it happen. Just 46 days later, Bannister’s time was bested by Australia’s John Landy. According to the always-accurate Wikipedia, “The 'four minute barrier' has since been broken by many male athletes, and is now the standard of all professional middle distance runners. In the last 50 years the mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds.”

I reckon it’s a good thing that neither Bannister or Landy used the same approach these milquetoast New Haven Little League coaches do! Clearly, for these folks, a false sense of “human equality” has completely eclipsed a true quest for “human excellence.”

You know what this whole story reminds me of? Did any of you (aka EITHER of you) ever read Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron? No? Well I did—several years ago. At the time I thought it was an outlandishly impossible notion. Sadly, it seems it has, in fact, become a reality. Though I realize it’s a little lengthy, I’m going to include it in this post—I think it’s worth another look. Enjoy…or not.

Harrison Bergeron

by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April, for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

“That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did,” said Hazel.

“Huh?” said George.

“That dance – it was nice,” said Hazel.

“Yup,” said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren’t really very good – no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn’t be handicapped. But he didn’t get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

“Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer,” said George.

“I’d think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds,” said Hazel, a little envious. “All the things they think up.”

“Um,” said George.

“Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?” said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. “If I was Diana Moon Glampers,” said Hazel, “I’d have chimes on Sunday – just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion.”

“I could think, if it was just chimes,” said George.

“Well – maybe make ‘em real loud,” said Hazel. “I think I’d make a good Handicapper General.”

“Good as anybody else,” said George.

“Who knows better’n I do what normal is?” said Hazel.

“Right,” said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

“Boy!” said Hazel, “that was a doozy, wasn’t it?”

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

“All of a sudden you look so tired,” said Hazel. “Why don’t you stretch out on the sofa, so’s you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch.” She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck. “Go on and rest the bag for a little while,” she said. “I don’t care if you’re not equal to me for a while.”

George weighed the bag with his hands. “I don’t mind it,” he said. “I don’t notice it any more. It’s just a part of me.

“You been so tired lately – kind of wore out,” said Hazel. “If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few.”

“Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out,” said George. “I don’t call that a bargain.”

“If you could just take a few out when you came home from work,” said Hazel. “I mean – you don’t compete with anybody around here. You just set around.”

“If I tried to get away with it,” said George, “then other people’d get away with it and pretty soon we’d be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn’t like that, would you?”

“I’d hate it,” said Hazel.

“There you are,” said George. “The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?”

If Hazel hadn’t been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn’t have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

“Reckon it’d fall all apart,” said Hazel.

“What would?” said George blankly.

“Society,” said Hazel uncertainly. “Wasn’t that what you just said?”

“Who knows?” said George.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn’t clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, “Ladies and gentlemen – ”

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

“That’s all right –” Hazel said of the announcer, “he tried. That’s the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard.”

“Ladies and gentlemen” said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. “Excuse me – ” she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

“Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen,” she said in a grackle squawk, “has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under–handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous.”

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen – upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison’s appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever worn heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H–G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

And to offset his good looks, the H–G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle–tooth random.

“If you see this boy,” said the ballerina, “do not – I repeat, do not – try to reason with him.”

There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have – for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. “My God –” said George, “that must be Harrison!”

The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.

When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

“I am the Emperor!” cried Harrison. “Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!” He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

“Even as I stand here –” he bellowed, “crippled, hobbled, sickened – I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!”

Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

Harrison’s scrap–iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

He flung away his rubber–ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

“I shall now select my Empress!” he said, looking down on the cowering people. “Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!”

A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all, he removed her mask.

She was blindingly beautiful.

“Now” said Harrison, taking her hand, “shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!” he commanded.

The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. “Play your best,” he told them, “and I’ll make you barons and dukes and earls.”

The music began. It was normal at first – cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

The music began again and was much improved.

Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while – listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

They shifted their weights to their toes.

Harrison placed his big hands on the girl’s tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.

The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it. It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling.

They kissed it.

And then, neutralizing gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

It was then that the Bergerons’ television tube burned out.

Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George.

But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. “You been crying?” he said to Hazel.

“Yup,” she said,

“What about?” he said.

“I forget,” she said. “Something real sad on television.”

“What was it?” he said.

“It’s all kind of mixed up in my mind,” said Hazel.

“Forget sad things,” said George.

“I always do,” said Hazel.

“That’s my girl,” said George. He winced. There was the sound of a riveting gun in his head.

“Gee – I could tell that one was a doozy,” said Hazel.

“You can say that again,” said George.

“Gee –” said Hazel, “I could tell that one was a doozy

It's like waiting FOUR YEARS for Christmas to come around again

Well, the Olympics are officially over…though I still can’t get that song out of my head…not that I’d want to.

It was a great two weeks, wasn’t it? Made all the better, of course, because I was able to enjoy the events with my buddy Eric, who is (to say the least) as crazed as I am about Olympic competition. In fact, we recorded all the televised events and then watched EVERTHING sans commercials! (The guy who invented DVR ought to get a gold medal!!) Oh, but it gets better! For two solid weeks we staked out our spots in the basement—he got the easy chair and ottoman and I unfolded the sofa bed—and cheered on our favorite athletes.

We couldn’t help notice that this year was “The year of the…” fill in the blank—because it seemed to be “the year” for a lot of folks. Among my observations:

1) It was the year of MICHAEL PHELPS: If you don’t know about this guy, you’ve been living under a ROCK!
2) It was the year of the AMERICAN FEMALE: Gold and silver in the gymnastics all-round competition, gold in beach volleyball, gold in indoor volleyball, silver in softball, gold in basketball, among many, many others. Estrogen rules!
3) It was the year of the THIRTY and FORTY SOMETHINGS: From Dara Torres to Jason Lezak to that 33-year-old gymnast (who medaled in the vault, for pete’s sake!!!) these folks proved to everyone that sometimes it pays to not peak too early!

4) It was the year of the PRE-PUBESENT TEENAGER: C’mon, China—really? I have underwear older than those gymnasts!
5) It was the year of THE REDEEM TEAM: Now I’m not generally a pro basketball fan. (College football—the SEC is where it’s at, you know!) In addition, I’m not really a Kobe Bryant fan. It’s not that I hate him, it’s just that I generally can’t stand people who love him. But this year I saw Kobe in a new light…and I LOVED HIM!!! I also loved LeBron James! And Jason Kidd, and…take your pick. Look, the approach these guys took with respect to representing the US as a basketball team (a three year commitment to practice together) as well as the approach they took to being US Olympians in general (man, it was good to see them in the stands cheering on Phelps, Walsh & May-Treanor, etc.!!) was RIGHT ON! They charmed America, they enchanted China, they played like world-class athletes, and in every way they lived up to their moniker.

6) It was the year of STUPID EVENTS THE IOC SHOULD DROP AS OLYMPIC SPORTS: The list is long, but I have to say TRAMPOLINE and RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS tops it! In my never-to-be-humble opinion, it shouldn’t be an Olympic sport if: a) you can see it performed to that high a level in numerous backyards across America, or b) if you can see it performed to that level in any number of Cirque du Soleil shows.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And on a different note...

Okay, so Aryn reminded me what a slacker I have been for not blogging sooner. Aryn, please accept my deepest apologies. Now, shall we?

Anybody out there ever heard of the "brown note" (aka the crap cannon)? No? Well I did, earlier today, for the first time in my life. (Thanks to Norm.) According to Wikipedia (aka The Source of All Knowledge) "The brown note (also known as a crap cannon), according to an urban legend, is an infrasound frequency that causes humans to lose control of their bowels due to resonance. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that a "brown note" (transmitted through sound waves in air) exists."

How gross is that, right? Oh, but it gets better. The whole reason co-worker/mentor Norm told me about it today was because he saw an article in the Denver Post regarding claims by people planing to gather for the purposes of the Democratic National Convention. The police, they claim, are already planning on using this so-called "brown note" against them.

Ummm, really?

If you ask me, it's just another excuse to poop your pants and blame the cops!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Enough with the Snuff Already!

When I read the recent headlines about protesters trying to snuff out the Olympic torch, I couldn't help but think, "What the HELL is wrong with you people? It's the Olympics, for pete's sake! THE OLYMPICS!!!" I'll tell you what's happening here, groupthink and self-absorption are rearing their ugly heads once again.

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. I believe China stands in gross violation of a number of accepted human rights policies, I firmly feel they should officially recognize Taiwan, and I was opposed to Hong Kong's 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the British to the Chinese, preferring, instead, a policy of H.K. self-rule on matters foreign and domestic.

Now, having established myself as NOT in favor of China’s afore mentioned policies, let me just say this: Given the opportunity to come face to face with some of these silly protesters, I’d have a few questions. (See 1st paragraph of this post for one such example.) I understand the need to raise awareness regarding such circumstances as we see now in various disputed regions of the world, but is snuffing the Olympic flame really the best way to accomplish this?
Often, those running with the flame are regional or local dignitaries or even ordinary people who, for a host of reasons, are noteworthy individuals. Thus, I’m not certain how disrespecting torch relayers on their own turf will do anything but offend locals. Furthermore, why the zeal to destroy? I mean, watch the news—there are lots of people in various cities around the globe who are just chomping at the bit to douse this flame. Were all these like-minded people incapable of putting their heads together and coming up with a less destructive alternative? Clearly they all knew the routes the flame will take and were organized enough to know the general “snuff” strategy—why didn’t they organize a tandem event? How about a parallel relay in which loosely organized groups of people in cities all over the globe come together in a display of solidarity to voice their support for Tibet? No?
I’ll tell you why that didn’t happen—because, truth be told, they probably don’t give a rip about Tibet. Chances are most of them couldn’t locate Tibet on a map! (Note to any protesters who may be reading this: It's the striped one.)

I’m willing to bet they aren’t nearly so interested in the plight of Tibetans as they are in getting on camera and/or making a name for themselves. If you doubt me, ask yourself this question: “How many Tibetans are better off because some jackass in Paris accosted Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound, amputee athlete, in an effort to snuff the Olympic flame?” (Read ABC News’ account, “Disabled Torchbearer Become Chinese Hero: China Rages Over Attack on Disabled Torchbearer in Paris” at:

That’s right. In attempting to express their outrage at China’s bully approach to poor, defenseless Tibet, protesters in Paris assaulted a one-legged Chinese girl. But it gets better! Her wheelchair was being pushed by a Chinese teammate...who is blind. Oh, the irony is almost too great to bear.

Honestly, the Chinese Communist leaders themselves couldn’t have scripted such a brilliant PR moment had they attempted it. And I’m almost certain the sight of this young, beautiful, paralympian fencer (now a veritable national heroine), accompanied by her visually impaired teammate, struggling to protect the Olympic flame while being harassed by rabid protesters will soften the hearts of a billion Chinese and inspire them to rally to the defense of their Tibetan brothers and sisters. PUH-HUH! (Anybody out there know how to say "We got screwed on this deal" in Tibetan?)

Finally, I think it’s worth noting that, particularly with respect to China, policies of neglect or containment have never, ever been as effective as policies of engagement in terms of greater openness and increased awareness. In fact, you could reasonably make the argument that the 2008 Summer Games will be a good thing, perhaps even the best thing, to happen to Tibet in a long time. First of all, more countries participate in the Olympics than belong to the United Nations—it’s ping pong diplomacy. Second, it is estimated that roughly 16,000 media personnel attended the 2004 summer games in Sydney.

So do the math: 200 countries + 16,000 reporters = a lot of exposure. Inevitably, that means Tibet’s story will be told again and again. And this time, maybe for the first time, the Chinese people themselves will get a more accurate account of what's happening in the rest of the world, including Tibet. And in the mean time, let's all pray authorities can manage to keep protesters from accosting small children or senior citizens.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Kids, and Plygs, and Tilda Swinton

Of course you’ve all heard about it by now:
From CBS News via AP:
“More than 400 children, mostly girls in pioneer dresses, were swept into state custody from a polygamist sect in what authorities described Monday as the largest child-welfare operation in Texas history.

The days-long raid on the sprawling compound built by now-jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sparked by a 16-year-old girl's call to authorities that she was being abused and that girls as young as 14 and 15 were being forced into marriages with much older men… Still uncertain is the location of the girl whose call initiated the raid. She allegedly had a child at 15, and authorities were looking for documents, family photos or even a family Bible with lists of marriages and children to demonstrate the girl was married to Dale Barlow, 50.”

Let me say at the onset that I have a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to child abuse—particularly sexual abuse of a child. If these children were being married off at such young ages (and no, I don’t believe any of it can be considered “consensual”) then that absolutely constitutes child abuse in my mind. I don’t believe the law should allow any kid to be married before age 18—regardless of parental consent. I mean, what good could come of it? If, indeed, that’s what was happening, then by all means, get those kids out of there. (And, while you're at it, can we charge these folks with erecting an eyesore? I didn't think west Texas could look any worse...but I'll be damned!)

But there’s another issue at hand here—are these folks being unfairly targeted because they’re polygamists? No, I don’t subscribe to the same doctrine at the core of FLDS beliefs. (In fact, every time I hear them referred to as “fundamentalist Mormons,” I cringe a little…only moments after waking from my stress-induced coma.) But there are multitudes of lifestyle choices to which I do not subscribe, yet I do not believe differences between us gives the government a free pass to raid at will.

For example, anyone recognize the name Tilda Swinton? Well, let me introduce you. Tilda Swinton is an Academy Award-winning actress (2008, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, “Michael Clayton”.) She lives in Scotland, with Scottish painter John Byrne, the father of her twins, Xavier and Honor. However, she maintains a relationship with Sandro Kopp, a New Zealand painter, while continuing her live-in relationship with Byrne. She has been with Kopp since 2004 and the relationship has Byrne's blessing.

I do not agree with Tilda Swinton’s lifestyle. I think she’s a weirdo of monumental proportion and I think her living arrangements demonstrate a gross degree of selfishness. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that what she’s doing is by far worse than what the polygamists are doing. (After all, when plygs sleep around, at least they publicly vow binding, life-long commitments to those with whom they make babies, right?) But I would not support a raid on Tilda Swinton’s home based on an unsubstantiated allegation, nor do I think anything of the sort would ever take place, simply because, in our culture, infidelity is a more acceptable lifestyle choice than is polygamy.

Now, my guess is there’s something we don’t know—maybe the raid was based on more than the phone call, maybe the phone call was the last straw—who knows? In addition to that, we have to consider location—after the Branch Davidian episode, you can’t expect Texans to suffer residents of “compounds” of any sort.

But, there was a report yesterday of a “standoff” at the FLDS temple wherein members would not grant access to law enforcement officials who were, ostensibly, in search of the girl who’d made the initial phone call. This was as disturbing to me as the entire rest of the story. How would I feel, how would I respond, given the same situation? Would I grant government access to a building I believed to be holy simply because the government had demanded it? It’s a hard call.

I’m wanting some feedback here, people!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Scene it?

Short post today, but I thought I'd clue you all in on what has quickly become one of my very favorite movies EVER. If you haven't seen The Painted Veil, I would highly recommend doing so...very soon...immediately, if possible.

There are several reasons to love the film based on the Somerset Maugham novel by the same name--the beautiful setting (interior China, circa 1925) being chief among them. (Seriously, it made me want to go to China!) But also, I think the acting (Edward Norton and Naomi Watts) is impeccable. I love it when I watch a film and I can feel what the character is feeling. (With the noted exceptions of pain and fear, of course, in which case I'm fine with mediocre acting.) At any rate, the actors are superb. Finally, the story itself contains important, timeless messages about love, hurt, betrayal, compassion, selflessness, decency, and forgiveness. If you'd care to see a trailer, please do so at

Oh yes, one last thing--the music is phenomenal. River Waltz and Gnossiennes No. 1 are beautiful pieces, but one song in particular, A La Claire Fontaine, is, quite possibly, he loveliest thing I've heard in a long time. (Unfortunately, they didn't include A la Claire Fontaine on the soundtrack, but the Laure Shang version, available on iTunes, is beautiful, nonetheless.)

If you happen to watch it, I'd love to hear what you thought about it.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?

So, I figured I'd better post somethin' up here since it's been nearly three months since anyone's heard from me. (Plus, a FULL three months since my last post?? Now THAT would be embarrassing!)

I had an experience at school today which has, unfortunately, become all too commonplace. Two friends (both females) and I were waiting to take the elevator from the 8th floor of the building where our grad student offices are located, down to the ground level (2nd floor). They were apparently working on the elevators because it took forever. At 7 we pick up a few more passengers (including my least favorite professor ever--lucky me) and at this point we're pretty much filled to capacity (especially when you consider backpacks and other bags.) Nevertheless, we get to 6, the doors open up and, in spite of the fact we are jammed in there like lemmings, two guys and a girl decide they just cannot wait, and they hop on.

As the doors close we heard (and felt) a "snap." Now, I don't know what it was, but it was real and there were witnesses. At this point I begin to get a little nervous. I mean, we are stuffed to the rafters in this thing--the kind where I was getting claustrophobic and taking in gulps of air. We stop at 4, and, again, we hear/feel the "snap." The doors open and there stood a woman; it was clear, by her face, she fully intended on getting on that thing. (Really, lady? You find going DOWN two floors so taxing that you're willing to rub belly, butt, and thighs up against nine strangers just to hitch a ride?)

This is where my friends and I simultaneously decided taking the stairs might be wise. We each politely announced our intention, "Hey, we're going to just get off here," as a way of signaling to the guys at the front, "Move it--we're blowing this popsicle stand." But to no avail. We say it a second time, "'Scuse us--can we get off here?" And then, no joke, the guys at the front, rather than stepping outside the elevator to let us off, merely TURNED TO THE SIDE, BACKPACKS AND ALL, thus further blocking our way. Still, somehow we managed to get off. As we walked toward the stairs, I said, "No problem fellas. By all means, y'all stay there and the women will take the stairs."

Once in the stairwell, we start heading down and begin commenting on how ridiculous that girl and two boys were for getting on in the first place. We also gripe about how we couldn't believe NOT ONE of those men offered to take the stairs even though 1) we were there first, and 2) we were girls. It was about this time that a male student, headed upstairs, cut my friend off and nearly hit her in the face with a door as he entered the 3rd floor hallway! IN THE FACE!! WITH A DOOR!!!

I thought to myself, "For crying out loud, who are these people?" I was utterly embarrassed for them? How had they gotten that old without learning basic manners? And here's the kicker, the professor who was on the elevator with us (Did I mention he was my least favorite, EVER?) is an ethics professor! He understands ethics but not common courtesy? I find that quite curious especially since, as an undergraduate, I had to sit through hours and hours of this guy rambling on and on about "the magnanimous man." Puh! What did he know about any of it?

I guess I'm just so disappointed. I'm sure part of this has to do with the fact I was raised in the South (moment of silence) where, by and large, men still take pride in being men. And if Southern gentlemen were to take up residence in the Rocky Mountain west, then I think logically we could assume they'd be cowboys, right? Or at least cowboy-esque--you know, manly men who, typically speaking, exhibit gentlemanly behavior...with the noted exception of shooting folks in the middle of town. But I've been here four years and I don't mind telling ya', many of these guys are scant on manners--especially when it comes to women! In my opinion, this represents an utter waste of boy parts. Oh, if only they'd institute a "use-it-or-lose-it" policy THEN maybe I'd get to ride the dang elevator all the way to the ground level!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Wow, it’s been more than a month since my last blog post. Sorry for the delay, but I was busy…with…er…feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Really, take my word for it.

Well, Christmas is over, New Years has passed, and we are well into election season. That said, I think we, as friends, should spend a little time together analyzing the recent Iowa caucus and making a few predictions about New Hampshire and South Carolina. Let’s begin, shall we?

In the interest of full disclosure, let me first go on record as stating I am an avid Romney supporter. I like him a lot. I think he’s smart, successful, conservative, and utterly elect-able. I’m not unhappy with Romney’s finish in Iowa. Sure, he spent a lot of money and he came in second, but I don’t view this as a problem. It’s difficult (if not impossible) to say what would have happened if Romney hadn’t spent the money—perhaps he wouldn’t have even come in second—who knows?

I see his second place finish going into New Hampshire as a good thing because it lowers the media’s expectations a bit. He doesn’t even have to finish first in New Hampshire (though I believe he will) he just has to beat Huckabee. I’m wondering how he will fare against McCain and Giuliani, however. And, speaking of those guys…

Was it wise of Rudy to not campaign in Iowa? I don’t know—all the other guys got free press—absolutely invaluable. Rudy seems to have faded from the spotlight in recent weeks. In fact, has anyone seen him lately? Rudy? Oh, Rudy?

Of course, McCain ran as the renegade, the Dark Horse candidate—this in spite of the fact that he votes the party line about 90% of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the guy, but I’m not sure his message will resonate with primary voters. These are the party faithful—I think McCain should be running as more of a GOP loyalist—he should save the “wild, independent” card for the general election…if he makes it.

And then there’s the guy who won the Iowa GOP caucus—Mike Huckabee. I don’t dislike Huckabee…but I detest his name. It sounds too much like Huck Finn, Hick-abee, Shucks-abee, etc.—too many weird things you can do with it to make it sound as though he’s a hillbilly governor from a backwoods state. Oh…wait…

At any rate, I’m willing to bet his days as the front-runner are numbered. Sure, he was the flavor of the month on Iowa, but I seriously doubt his folksy humor will hold much appeal in New Hampshire—he’s all about quasi-Southern charm, they’re all about Northern efficiency.

I reckon the big story out of Iowa is Hillary’s third place finish among Democrats. Apparently NPR called this earlier in the day (according to a reliable source—I didn’t hear it myself) but CNN and the Big 3 all expected Clinton to jockey with Obama for first place.

In attempting to best Obama, she initially ran as the logical choice among women. Obama, on the other hand, ran as the candidate of hope and inspiration. According to entrance polls, Obama garnered a larger share of the female vote in Iowa. So where does this leave Hill? Clearly she has to evaluate and rework her message…but what that message should be is anyone’s guess—I mean, how do you do counter that? WOMEN+HOPE+INSPIRATION= the Democrat SuperTrifecta. Yikes! (I’m waiting her to offer kisses from her husband in exchange for votes. But hey, just another day at the office for ol’ Billy, huh?)

Edwards managed to edge out Hillary. (Could it have anything to do with the fact he has a better haircut? Who knows?) No doubt this represented a crushing blow to the Clinton campaign. However, I found it remarkably interesting that exit polls indicate Edwards was not victorious among his base—union members. Surprising, since he’s running as a champion of those that don the blue collar. Remember, according to him, he’s the one who’s been marching, picketing, etc. with his union brethren more than any other candidate. (Never mind that the closest this guy has come to union membership is the Trial Lawyers Association.) In spite of Edwards’ best “Norma Rae” impersonation, labor came out strong for Obama first, and Hillary second. Maybe Edwards should start looking for a new base…hair stylists, perhaps? (I’m sorry—that story is just TOO GOOD to let go!)

Finally, as a good, conservative Republican, I can’t decide whom I want to win the Democratic nomination. For me, it’s a question of who is most “defeatable.” Recent polls indicate Hillary is “the candidate most likely to be hated,” thus, in my GOP mind, that makes her somewhat appealing as a political adversary. However, I think when it comes down to it, a lot of fence-sitters will have a hard time with Obama for a host of reasons, not the least of which is his inexperience.

I know failed to mention Ron Paul, Fred Thompson, Duncan Hunter and a few other guys we know won’t win, but I figured I’d leave that up to y’all. I’m interested to hear from you, my loyal readers (yes, BOTH of you.) I’d like your comments, thoughts, impressions, predictions, etc. on Iowa, NH, SC, the GOP, the Dems, campaigns, candidates, and elections in general, etc. By all means, don’t hold back—in fact, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!