the beer ad dudes are thirsty for change...

The best ads are always shown during the Super Bowl - so why hasn't somebody tapped the agencies who come up with the beer ads to do political spots? It's about damn time:


undecided voters?

In this week's issue of the New Yorker, the ever-brilliant David Sedaris contemplates the absurdity that is Undecided Voters. (Read the full article here.) My issue of said magazine is now waterlogged because this excerpt - this perfect summation of how I feel about the questionable mental health and cerebral fitness of anyone who at this late stage can still self-identify with the term "undecided voter" - caused such an hysterical laughing fit that I dropped said magazine into my bubble bath:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?” To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked. I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?


Thank you, Mr. Sedaris.


in praise of the leisurely life...

or, How to Thoroughly Enjoy Unemployment

Right Livelihoods: Three Novellas
One of today's free literary acquisitions.

Here's a diary of my day to corroborate my claim that a life of leisure should be pursued at all costs:

12:28pm - Wake up slowly. Turn on cell phone ringer. Listen to voicemail from calls missed while snoozing.

12:36pm - Make first pot of coffee. Call friend who's working and relay exciting news from aforementioned voicemail. Try to lose the "froggy" sounding voice before returning call from the doctor who called offering to discuss employment opportunity. Make breakfast (2 poached eggwhites, 3 slices vegetarian bacon, coffee.)

12:41pm - Eat breakfast. Return doctor's call; leave voicemail. Check up on podcasts. Mutter audible thanks to MSNBC for giving Keith and Rachel equal airtime.

1:57pm - Drink more coffee. Remove yesterday's forgotten load of laundry from washer & put in dryer.

2:06pm - Take shower.

2:17pm - While rinsing out shampoo, nearly slip in shower trying to grab a towel before grabbing cell phone; talk to doctor for 15 minutes. Mutter silent thanks that he cannot see me standing in my bathoom dripping wet and naked.

3:01pm - Leave house to run errands. Torrential downpour. Cold, rainy: invigorating! My favorite weather!

3:16pm - Stand in line at Election Commission to early vote. Mutter more silent thanks that my county uses ballpoint pens, thereby eliminating any fear of hanging chads.

3:43pm - Enter the fluorescent-lit den of consumer iniquity known as the cellular phone store to inquire about upgrading my still-functional-but-very-damaged flip phone. Annoy the sales guy with legitimate questions about why it costs more to upgrade in person when it's free to upgrade online. Get annoying, non-specific answers. Leave store without new phone. Mutter inaudible curses about "three-to-five business days for delivery" bullshit. If I'd ordered the damn thing on Tuesday, my last day of work, I'd be using the fucking thing already instead of traipsing clear across town to hear some college-aged douchebag in a mismatched button-down and tie lecture me about which phones offer the best media package...

4:07pm - Pass by Starbucks without purchasing a Venti Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce Latte! (Gasp! Three full days of unemployment enables me to forego my caffeination cravings! Fiscal victory shall be mine!) Sip on my grande-size travel mug of fair-trade Rwandan Bourbon coffee which isn't nearly as hot as a Starbucks latte would be. Grumble silent thanks that I just saved $4.75 and a disposable paper cup.

4:09pm - Fight afternoon traffic leaving the state's largest mall, en route to either the local public library or to campus. Can't decide which; will wing it based on the flow of rush-hour.

4:36pm - Circle the downtown library twice looking for a parking space. It's still raining. My L.L.Bean windbreaker is waterproof, but damn, I'm chilly. Notice I'm parked less than a block from a cozy coffee shop. Hightail it in the opposite direction into the equally cozy (yet painfully decaffeinated) library which I suspect is closing in 24 minutes.

4:41pm - Pay $3.50 in overdue book fees. Realize I have 99 minutes to peruse the shelves. Further realize I could have grabbed a coffee and stuffed it into my L.L.Bean totebag and noooobody would've known. Shiver from cold and thirst. Check totebag for book list - damn! It's still @ home on my desk. Log into the library's public PCs to access Powells.com for recommendations; ACCESS DENIED: site blocked (reason: online shopping). I'm thinking, "WTF?" So I then try NY Times Books for the bestseller list. Again, ACCESS DENIED. Finally try my Amazon.com WishList and voila. (Yeah, I know, right? The public library net nazis won't let me surf Powell's, but Amazon is okay? Can we say double standards?!?) Grab a dull-tipped golfer's pencil from the cup beside the monitor and scribble a list.

5:19pm - Leave library with 6 titles, including the one photo-referenced at top...

5:25pm - Walk in the door; make another pot of coffee. Reheat leftovers (butternut squash bisque) as lunch. Curl up with...which book? Fuck it. I can't eat and read - don't want to be messy. Choose to watch today's Blockbuster delivery DVD: Ben Stein's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed instead. Give it my half-attention while shopping online for a new cell phone. Finish dinner. Catch up on more blogs and podcasts.

6:47pm - Check school's website for Spring semester schedule. Make list of desired classes. Sigh in quiet desperation as the reality hits: my registration appointment time is at SIX O-FUCKING CLOCK IN THE MORNING?!? This has got to be somebody's idea of a joke - or a typo. Hoping it's the latter, I log off.

7:00pm - Watch a few minutes of PBS news. The headlines are as bleak as the weather outside. Freezing my ass off because I've had the doors & kitchen window open since coming home, I throw on a sweatshirt. Check the thermostat: holy hell, it's like 62-degrees in my house. Grab a blanket, flop down on the sofa and take a nap.

9:08pm - Yawn. Make another pot of coffee. Pen irrelevant blog post about today's boring events. Update my Amazon Wish List.

9:27pm - Contemplate going to a movie. Check listings; notice the Katrina documentary, Trouble the Water, is showing in a half hour or so. Decide it's not a Friday nite popcorn-eatin' kind of flick & stay home...great, now I'm jonesin' for hot, buttery popcorn...

9:32pm - Begin marathon weekend of reading instead of working on homework examining themes of isolationism and discrimination in the poetry of Emily Dickinson versus Paul Laurence Dunbar. Mutter curses to myself for taking a course that focuses on poetry which will have zero bearing on my future career as either a writer or editor. Realize I should stop drinking coffee and have a nice, stiff adult beverage because ennui is best remedied by inebriation, not caffeination.

* * * * *

And this, my friends, is how you waste an entire day doing jack. I could reeeally get used to this... Yep, what I need is a job that pays me to drink coffee, read books, blog, and surf the Internets...


of politics and...physics???

NPR always blows me away with its content. Today was no exception. Yet again, an NPR piece reaffirms - in a unique way - why I am an Obama supporter...

Actor/musician Terrence Howard gave a brilliant
interview on Weekend Edition Saturday. He discussed with host Scott Simon his personal views on acting, performing music, his passion for physics, the joys of parenting, and grieving the loss of a parent. Only on NPR will you find an actor wax poetic about particle physics and piano playing. The interview is top-notch. One of Howard's more profound statements was about acting, but it really summed up my view on politics:

"When I first started acting, I thought it was about the best liar," Howard says. "I thought the best liar was the best actor. But it's the best truth-teller. To find the truth on those pages of black and white and to believe in it so much. It has to be honest; it has to be truthful."
- Terrance Howard on NPR, 10.18.08

What a simple fact: people want TRUTH. We all want someone who answers us honestly. Our collective bullshit meter red-lined years ago. Let's face it: the people you trust most are the ones who shoot straight with you. That applies to interpersonal relationships as well as politics. The best politician is the best truth-teller, not the best smear-tactic campaigner. The best leader is the best truth-teller, period. From my perspective, choosing a political candidate is akin to choosing a romantic partner. It's black and white: if I can trust you, I can give you my heart and my vote. Finding a political candidate was easy. Now if only I could find a decent guy worthy of my trust and commitment...

Check out the rest of the interview on Scott Simon's video blog, Sunday Soapbox.


"a man is known by the company he keeps"

Chris Britt, Springfield State Journal-Register

It's a simple maxim, really. The company you keep speaks volumes about your character. Or, in John McCain's case, it speaks volumes about his lack of character.

John McCain's campaign is fueled by character attacks, unsubstantiated smears, and blatant lies projected in commercials - all of which serve but one purpose: political fearmongering.

Instead of fostering a stance of civility befitting the gentleman he claims to be, McCain continues to stoke the fires of radical intolerance among the virulent, bigoted supporters at his campaign rallies. His blatant refusal to diffuse hot tempers and chants suggesting the murder of his opponent leaves him complicit in their cries. That Americans can tolerate this unforgivable behavior is troubling; that any American can contemplate casting their vote for such an arrogant, hot-tempered rabble-rouser is a perversion of civil discourse and a threat to our collective civil liberties. When angry crowds at McCain-Palin rallies are neither tempered nor chastised for their verbalized rage, our footing on the blood-stained soil of civil liberties falters. When bigoted hecklers are allowed to spew their hateful bile, we take another step back toward our shameful history of lynchings and racial discrimation. The refusals of John McCain and Sarah Palin to assuage the angst amongst their supporters is tantamount to inciting a riot. For this, they should be ashamed. For this, we should be alarmed.

Uncivil discourse sabotages American politics. It diminishes bipartisan cooperation and undermines our chances to foster a climate of change so desperately needed today. Disagreement among parties - both the candidates and their supporters - is to be expected. But respect and tolerance should always be preeminent. The American people should demand nothing less, for unity requires both.


farewell, Opus???

Say it ain't so, BB!

Today is a sad, sad day: just as we have all suspected, the end is near.
NPR confirmed it today. Such bleak news to hear on a Monday drive home.
A portion of my heart shriveled up and wilted; the rest of me pouted.

I'm gonna miss the lil' fella...


how do you suck? let me count the ways...

...or, Why Dating Sucks in General and Blind Dating Sucks in Particular

Blind date: that predetermined meeting arranged for two otherwise unknown souls to deliberately cross paths thanks to the meddlesome interference of one or more
well-intentioned mutual friend(s) in the hopes that the planets will be so perfectly aligned as to create a magical, memorable moment whereupon the blind datees will someday look back and mark it on their shared calendar as The Day We Fell in Love.

Or, in simpler terms: a nearly always ill-fated, disastrous meeting of two completely mismatched persons.

The latter was my fate on Friday. When a newlywed chick friend (yellow flag #1: deliriously happy, recently married friends have absolutely no business playing matchmaker; they are horribly biased toward life's sugar-coated aspects and can only see the world through their nauseating rose-colored glasses of marital bliss) mentioned a few weeks ago that a single guy friend of hers had been admiring (code for: cyberstalking) my blogs and photos on MySpace (yellow flag #2: seriously, all my pics are Photoshopped six ways from Sunday, so of course they look half decent, ergo, no man in his right mind would think that's actually what I look like; therefore, this guy can't possibly have all his marbles) and suggested I meet him, I balked.

Every time I see her, she casually mentions his name, or tells me where he's playing (he's a musician, and she knows I typically go for the brooding, intellectual, guitar-playing types) and hints that I should go check him out. OK, here's my first reaction: if a guy takes an interest, then he should make the first move. We aren't in junior high anymore. Asking a third party to intercede on your behalf indicates a serious lack of balls. And since I am, in Christopher Moore's terminology, a classic Alpha Female, I am not terribly impressed by men who lack a sack. But the Friend (as she shall henceforth be deemed) wore me down and I reconsidered. Plus, as the ultimate in ulterior motives, she said she would finally return several of the aforementioned author's books which I'd loaned her last year. This was the deal-sealer. I have missed my books!

So the Friend emailed last week because the Guy asked her if I might be interested in a double-date kind of outing, say, over dinner at a place that is known for its romantic ambiance. Normally, I'm all about some cozy, candlelit intimacy over a bowl of pasta, but that was major yellow flag #3: restaurants are No-Nos in blind dating. Wikipedia proves it. And yet, the Guy suggested the outing and suggested the specific location. In my hopelessly old-fashioned logic, this implies that the Guy would also pick up the tab. Due to my impending financial doom (two more paychecks and I'm up a creek with no boat!) I relented.

Friday arrived, and I was in no mood for company. I was nine kinds of cranky thanks to an insufficient intake of Midol and an exorbitant level of soon-to-be-gone work-related stress. What I wanted more than anything in the world was to go home, curl up on the sofa with some DVDs and whine until the drugs kicked in. But damn me and my "always keep your word" ethical bullshit mantra! So off to the restaurant I went...

And this, boys and girls, was when the red flags started flyin'. They say you can judge your interest in someone within the first 30 seconds of meeting. In this case, it took about 7.2 seconds. Physical appearance is of secondary importance (the first is always that one-two punch of intelligence paired with a wicked sense of humor) so I decided, "Hmmm, I won't be shallow. He's not even remotely attractive, so maybe he's brilliant." Let the litmus testing begin!

How 'bout the conversational highlights, to save time:

Friend: "Here are your Christopher Moore books. I am so glad you introduced me to him - "You Suck" is hysterical!"

Guy: "Who's Chris Moore? What's the book about?"

Friend: (chuckling) "Beta Males."

Guy: "What's a Beta Male?"

Me: (trying to be tactful, knowing I am in the presence of one) "Um, well, basically it's the opposite of an Alpha Female," (and, anticipating the obvious next question) "which implies one who shouldn't have balls hypothetically does and one who should have balls often does not."

Friend: "It's a vampire love story."

stares blankly

That was Red Flag #1: he had no clue about one of the funniest writers of this generation. So the Friend and I continue talking about other books/films/music we love while we wait for her husband to arrive. After mentioning David Foster Wallace, Jose Saramago, Chuck Palahniuk, Elliott Smith and Ray LaMontagne (seriously mainstream names here compared to my more obscure favorites) we get zero feedback from the Guy. Ooookay...moving on.

While ordering, I am in "frugal date" mode, ordering water and the least expensive entree, which in this case, was a $12 dish of fresh spinach/roasted garlic ravioli. When asking about the possible sauces to accompany this, I discover Red Flag #2. Once again, the conversational highlights:

Me: "Would the garlic-goronzola sauce be too heavy for this pasta? Or should I try the roasted red pepper pesto?"

Guy: "What's gorgonzola?"

Friend's Husband: "It's cheese, dude. Even I know that."

Friend: "So what ever happened to that Dresden Files show?"

Me: "It was cancelled after one season."

Friend's Husband: "Oh, man, I loved that show!"

Guy: "I don't own a TV."

So there I was, knowing I was in for a miserably long evening with a philistine who neither reads the books I like, watches movies I like, watches TV shows I like (the fact that he doesn't own a TV prompted our discussing the "Stuff White People Like" blog - and of course, he'd never heard of that, either) and didn't know what that gorgonzola was a cheese. I could feel the Midol wearing off, revealing signs of the fire-breathing demoness stirring inside me who never makes for a pleasant dining partner. 'Ruh-'roh, 'Raggy.

Then came Red Flag #3. In an effort to volley the conversational ball, Guy (who had obviously read my MySpace profile) asks some harmless questions:

Guy: "So, what's your connection with New England?"

Me: "I lived there during the 90s when I was unhappily married; now that I'm happily divorced, I'm too broke to move back."

Guy: "I lived in New Hampshire for awhile."

Me: "Why the hell would you voluntarily leave New Hampshire and move back here?"

Guy: "The girlfriend I had was crazy."

Me: (thinking, "yeah, but I'll bet she knows what gorgonzola is") "Wow."

Fast-forward to the point where the server asks, "Is this all on one check?" and before he could fully pronounce the last syllable, Guy said, "Ours are separate; theirs (pointing to our mutual married-couple friends) are together." OK, so then I'm thinking, 'let me get this straight: you pursued me, you asked me to meet you here, you heard me telling my friends how I'm soon to be unemployed, and you still don't offer to pick up the fucking tab?!?" While the server processed our credit cards, I whipped out my phone & texted (under the table) "WTF? Dutch?!?"
to one of my guy friends who replied: "The nerve!" Indeed...

At that point, I vowed to never again agree to a blind date, under any circumstances, period. Trust me, next Friday evening you can bet your ass I'll be parked on mine, all cozy & comfy on my sofa, drowning my then-unemployed sorrows in several bottles of Sam Adams. And that scenario will be infinitely superior to the 2.5 hours of near-hell I spent with Gorgonzola Clueless Guy...