Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More on that damn billboard

(Alternate title: Moron, that damn billboard)

To answer that question, which judging by its Facebook popularity has plenty of people inexplicably answering in the affirmative, I can only say:

• I'd respond to that with, "There's a better chance a black man will be elected president and the Saints will win the Super Bowl," but those things have happened. So to more accurately convey my unlikelihood of missing George W. Bush, I'll say, "There's a better chance Bush will be regarded as not a failure than that I'll ever miss him."

• The refusal of congressional Republicans and many moderate-conservative Democrats to vote for some of President Obama's sought-after legislation is disappointing, outrageous even. But that doesn't make Obama a failure or make me regret not voting for John McCain. Republican leaders, get over yourselves and create a platform that doesn't entirely bank on obstruction and hoping for failure.

• Just as a flaw in the theory of evolution doesn't automatically validate the Book of Genesis version of Creationism, neither does gridlock in the Obama administration make George W. Bush somehow preferable. OK, maybe that's not the best way to debate that. But you get the idea.

• You know how I (and others) keep accusing the GOP of being childish and almost cartoonishly stupid in just about every way possible? This isn't helping.

• On the other hand, this could be a big, expensive joke, as the picture suggests. But that wouldn't explain its popularity in neoconservative areas such as, say, my hometown.

• On the other, other hand (third hand?), most pictures of Dubya look like this, so it probably isn't so much of a statement.

• This is a stupid question anyway, because it's not like we can bring Bush back even if we wanted to. At the very least, put John McCain up there and say, "Change?" Fewer syllables, more relevant. Do I have to do all the marketing for you guys?

• As much as I hate to admit it, I could conceivably find myself answering yes to this question. For example, if I missed being constantly angry and upset at our government. Or if Sarah Palin became president. In the latter case, I would at least hope that Barack Obama's picture would be there instead. But in all honesty — and, again, as much as I hate to admit it — it would probably work either way in that horrifying case. I'd rather not find out for real.

• As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "You've got to get people to miss you a little bit." Bush would do well to make like Seinfeld and disappear for a decade or so. Comeback entirely optional.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Only in my dreams

So I've been having this recurring dream for about four years now...

It takes place in a vast network of apartment complexes, health clubs, bus stops, malls, football fields, storage sheds, highways, night spots, acting schools and even swamps. Each venue is punctuated by its own song, usually a Michael Jackson one, and in each one I'm always trying to acquire something.

Acquire what? I have no idea. All I know is that the object varies in each setting. And that the pursuit of each one makes me feel ecstatic.

Man, that sounds illicit...

Let me put it this way: the objects spin or slide around in the given setting, and I'm always grabbing but never quite snaring what I want.

As if that sounds any better... Jeez...

The objects, whatever they are, represent intangibles. Things like skills, fame, societal impact, closure to the past, etc. Each one addresses something that might be troubling my subconscious at the moment. They all float right past me, yet are always out of reach. And, on top of that, I can never remember what the hell it is these things are. I want to know that almost more than I want to actually have these things.

In a similar vein, I frequently dream that I am standing on the porch of my childhood home, conducting a sweep of the mailbox for important letters routed to my old address. Sure, my family hasn't lived there for almost 11 years, but somehow I still have an entire trough of mail to clear out each week. I never actually get around to opening those letters, magazines and packages, but just collecting them gives me an eager, anticipatory feeling.

These are my top two recurring dreams, but really they seem to point to one idea: that I still haven't found what I'm looking for, and that I'm often overwhelmed when I look.

The funny thing is, I think I started having the first type of dream when I started doing sudoku puzzles on a regular basis. During my unemployment stretch, I would sometimes do 12 or 13 a day. In the first incarnation of this dream, the objects I so desired were the numbers to the puzzle, such as dancing twos or a garden of threes. But over time, the objects became more varied and less clear.

I mention all this because I had both dreams again last night. And for the first time, I almost focused in on what the objects actually were, as if the meaning of all this was being made clear to me. I still don't know for sure, but it suddenly seemed relevant. And possible that I'm getting a handle on what this trippy, pleasant dreamscape actually means.

I hope I can find out soon. In the meantime, I shall apply the zeal of my dreams to my real life. Why not?

That's sponsorship for you

There's a commercial airing on the Olympics that bothers me. It involves a hockey coach talking to his young team, who just lost. He gives them a short speech, and then says, "We're going to eat like Olympians!"

Then they go to McDonald's. Where they eat like Olympians.

I wonder if there's an official cigarette of the games, too?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A post filled with unbridled passion

I wish I could be as passionate about anything as today's conservatives are about government spending.

I say this as a football fan whose team just won the Super Bowl for the first time.

I say this as someone whose mother just endured major surgery and was informed that her insurance company is refusing to pay for the final two days of her hospitalization.

I say this as someone not known for keeping his feelings to himself in any given situation, no matter how unprofessional or juvenile it might make him seem to present company.

If I could change something about myself, it would be my ability to channel my energy and emotion to fit a situation rather than treat everything with equal gravity. It's a battle I've struggled with since before I was old enough to play "Duck Duck Goose."

But man oh man, am I a regular stoic next to these teabaggers!

Day after day, I read seemingly endless reams of commentary about how government spending is out of hand. Conservative Facebook friends of mine post articles suggesting such with the sort of outrage once reserved for unjust wars. Bloggers I know write thousand-word screeds on the impending death of our country from congressional bloat. Their cries are echoed by the collective thousands who have attended Tea Party events in the past year.

And yes, it's only been a year, because for some reason, said outrage took until 2009 to really take flight. Almost as if the election of a certain president had something to do with it. But that's old ground that I've tackled enough here to erode several layers of topsoil.

What interests me today is the way that spending has become the catalyst for so much of the anger now driving conservatives. It's remarkable, really, given that the past few Republican presidents have expanded government and government spending like they were on a trans-fat bender, and none of these people were taking to the streets then. But now, not only is spending the Big Issue, it's the Biggest Issue of Them All. In their minds, nothing is wrong with America, and any attempt to spend on new (Obama) issues is a dagger in freedom's heart.

Even as many of these people grapple with their own woes — health care and substantial employment, to name just two — somehow it is the deficit that really gets their blood boiling. How does this happen? As ambivalent as I am about the banking situation and the bailouts, I admit that it isn't even in my Top 10 when it comes to outrage-igniters.

And I think I know why. Because I think in terms of people. I support health care reform because, as expensive as it might be (and even that's debatable), it would have a profound effect on millions of Americans. I am in favor of taxes that support infrastructure, because well-maintained roads and public facilities benefit us all and might even save lives. I also have no problem with the government creating public-works jobs, as it did during the Great Depression, because an employed population is the key to stability, especially if it helps public infrastructure. (And no, I don't buy the argument that no government job is ever permanent. What job is or ever has been?)

None of that matters to today's teabaggers, who seem incapable of seeing any value in congressional spending, or of seeing anything beyond dollar signs. They may or may not care about their fellow man, but damned if they'll pay for it. While I sympathize with the need to save money, a lot of this is simply greed. And very telling about their priorities. For them, the country isn't worth saving if it costs anything. Best health care system, bootstraps and all that.

I understand the root of the outrage. But what I'll never understand is the fervor. How can a group investing so much passion in their pocketbooks be so blind to the human costs surrounding them every day?

You couldn't pay me enough to think that way.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My (non-New Orleans) Mardi Gras experience

• Numerous people were wearing Drew Brees, Devery Henderson, Darren Sharper, Marques Colston, Reggie Bush, Jeremy Shockey and Scott Shanle jerseys who were, in fact, not those guys.

• I caught a plush cheetah, easily my best catch of the day. I let a baby boy next to me have it, and he went from seeming disturbed by the cacophony to ecstasy. His mom was grateful. Cute, too.

• While I stood in line to buy a hamburger, a child in a stroller behind me spotted his mom — who had just exited a bar with three mixed drinks — and said in a sweet child voice, "I'm thirsty too!" His mom stopped and thought about it for a second. Then she seemed to realize the obvious solution to her problem: yell, "SHIT!" Much laughter. Mom of the year!

• I kept seeing people I thought I knew in Springfield. Conversely, I kept overlooking people who were actually there and I actually knew.

• Shortly after seeing the Opelousas High School band, I saw an old woman on the corner of my childhood street wearing Devery's jersey. I resisted an urge to ask her if she was a relative. It would have made my day to meet her if she was.

• Predictably, several floats played on the Saints theme, some more subtly than others. One just said, "New Orleans Saints," and everyone riding it was wearing unique numbers. It's like they were trying to fool people who didn't know players' faces. It didn't matter. We all pretended.

• Some guy drove his car with speed and confidence into a choice parking lot — one packed with limos for the king, queen and grand marshal — followed in hot pursuit by the girl guarding the entrance, running and screaming "HEY!" in a high-pitched voice. I wonder how that all worked out.

• There is a genus of woman whose attention I am completely incapable of getting. (Let me finish.) It's hard to explain exactly; it's not fair to say sexy sorority girl, because I've dated and been friends with sexy sorority girls not of this mold. Nor is it fair to say plastic, because some "plastic" lookers are perfectly amiable people who just happen to have perfect bone structures. But there is that strain of aloof, snobby hottie that wouldn't respond to me if her makeup combusted and I was holding a fire extinguisher (and we were stranded alone in the desert).

Damn. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, most of the floats were absolutely packed with this type of girl, and not one of them threw within half a mile of me. Fortunately, everyone else picked up the slack, including the older women. Especially the older women.

• An entire cottage industry has spring up attempting to answer the question, Who Dat? Not to be the English police, but the only appropriate response to this rhetorical question is, "Nobody." Or maybe, "Not the Colts." Or "The Cowboys," if you want to be a poopy-pants about it. Still, as standalone saying, Drew in fact, did Dat. And We Dat too!

• One older guy, noting my repeated attempts at intercepting bags of beads he kept throwing to his buddy, clocked me dead in the eye with one. I'm sure there's a lesson here, or maybe he was just a jerk. Oh, and his friend picked up those beads as well, while I tended to my pseudo-shiner.

• A police officer without a freckle of melanin in his entire body angrily threw a set of gold beads off the hood of his patrol car that a festive black woman placed there for a second. Apparently, "gold beads" is the same thing as "soiled diaper." Thanks, Captain Killjoy!

• Jesus Christ apparently died for Bible-thumping blowhards with bullhorns. Also, our sins.

• "Lombardi Gras" was a very appropriate term for what I enjoyed today. There seemed to be an even happier vibe than usual. And that's saying something.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sarah Palin's roaming hand

During his presidency in 1987, Ronald Reagan was asked how he reacted to Mikhail Gorbachev's offer to cut aid to the Sandanistas. He glanced at an index card and said, "This is a subject we are going to be discussing for quite some time." *

By now, most Americans have seen Sarah Palin's palm notes for her address/Q&A at the National Tea Party Convention.

Energy. Tax cut. Budget literally cut. Lift American spirit.

Look, I understand written prompts; I used many when giving speeches and presentations. And all I needed most of the time were a few keywords. That's something probably everyone, let alone a prospective presidential candidate, has done. What sets Palin's case apart from the pack are these points:

1) These are embarrassing words to need to remember. Just like with Reagan's recited call for future discussion, the sheer banality of the cheat sheets makes their need all the more deplorable. Her notes are the equivalent of cribbing on a calculus test with a times table.

2) She is, so to speak, a potential president. After sixth grade, writing notes on your hand is just sad. Even if you chalk it up to nervousness, there are lots of better, more discreet ways to hide such: cards, papers, practice, etc. Most people making public speeches have the same problem, but they are capable of hiding it in a more professional way.

But at the very least, at the very least, if you're going to scrawl on your hand, at least put it where you can consult it without STARING AT THE PALM OF YOUR HAND. You're seen by many as the torch-bearer of a party and philosophy already hit by a reputation for incoherence and idiocy — there's no virtue in furthering that image.

3) Apparently, there are some topics for which she needs no prompting. It's telling that Palin needs keywords for the budget, taxes, energy and the American spirit, but is at her most spontaneous and (relatively) articulate when bashing Obama and mocking his supporters. She's also comfortable with, "Drill! Drill! Drill!" It was said that George W. Bush could get very loquacious and on-track behind closed doors when talking about war, Saddam Hussein or tax cuts. I might stammer over the specifics of business models, but ask me about the New Orleans Saints and I won't pause for breath for 10 minutes. Why? Because that's what I'm most passionate about. Same thing with them, but scarier.

Of course, this incident has reignited the ever-smoldering embers of False Outrage among conservatives, who once again defend Palin by dissing Barack Obama. The empty suit-slash-dangerous socialist needs a Teleprompter to say anything, you hypocrites! Teleprompter. Teleprompter. Teleprompter. Blah blah blah.

We've been through this. Every president uses a Teleprompter. When you're making a speech, it helps. Obama even writes many of his own speeches. Granted, he does often pause and say "uh" when speaking off-the-cuff, like all of us, but he's still smart and cerebral. If anything, I'd argue that Sarah Palin really needs a Teleprompter. Maybe she thought using one would make her look dumb in the eyes of her extremely compartmentalized supporters, which is why she resorted to her palm pilot in the first place...

Can you imagine what the uproar would be if an American singer needed to crib the lyrics of "The Star-Spangled Banner" from their hand during a big game? Oh, wait, look 41 seconds into this video!

Now anybody can slap their forehead to that!

* Source: The Clothes Have No Emperor by Paul Slansky. p.223

Monday, February 08, 2010

44 is a magic number

Due to last night's turn of events, I have not been able to sit down long enough to tame the pure, unbridled joy that I feel. After 20 hours or so, I have finally sunk to a level where I feel like I can express myself a little better.



Saturday, February 06, 2010


An advisory is out about the Saints Super Bowl drinking meme that's been going around: Due to a computer glitch, some rules of the game could cause you to be unresponsive. Here are the new, repaired drinking game rules:

Drink four beers:

• Every time an NFL analyst picks the Saints to win (this includes print newspapers and MySpace).

• For every pre-game vignette that treats the Saints as an equal opponent/story and not just as a backdrop for how much better the Colts are.

• Anytime it’s noted that, while the Saints have faced long odds and unfavorable historical trends all season, they have broken nearly all of them.

• When someone concedes that, yes, it’s probably unfair to take New Orleans’ low defensive ranking at face value because many of their starters were out for half the season, and even then they mostly won, and with Jabari Greer, Darren Sharper and Tracy Porter all starting, they haven’t lost yet.

• Whenever it’s noted that the Saints actually had far more, far more dubious and far costlier penalties against them in the NFC Championship game than the Vikings did.

• Whenever it’s noted that the Saints outscored the Colts in 13 of 18 games this season, including the last four in a row.

• Anytime an analyst suggests that this Super Bowl will be a historic barnburner featuring the absolute best and most exciting pair of teams this year, and that we’ll only know how it turns out by watching on Sunday.

Standard imbibing is probably acceptable:

• During any commentary that Drew Brees has a long way to go to rise to the level of Peyton Manning, meaning he has to win one Super Bowl and lower his QB rating.

• Whenever it’s mentioned how many Saints players (Devery Henderson, Tracy Porter, Randall Gay, Deuce McAllister, to name a few) grew up locally and cheered the team, and how Drew Brees, Jeremy Shockey, Anthony Hargrove and Sean Payton say they couldn’t be anywhere better.

• When it’s noted that Super Bowl XLIV features a New Orleans quarterback in Indianapolis, and a Purdue quarterback in New Orleans.

• With any nagging fear at the back of your mind that Pete Townshend might have a wardrobe malfunction at halftime.

When to drink water:

• Every time a Colts fan brings up the loss to Tampa Bay without mentioning that the Saints trounced the Bucs 38-7 on the road when it mattered.

• At any mention of "Who Dat" being grammatically incorrect.

• “Running game? Pfffft! We don’t need one cuz Manning’s the best EVAH!”

• Any time a Colts fan argues the NFC is weaker and that the Saints can’t beat an AFC team, except for all four they played.

• Whenever a Colts fan says, with no irony, that the Saints will lose due to first-time Super Bowl jitters.

Don’t even drink water:

• When someone accuses the Saints of playing dirty, because of that one hit on Brett Favre. After all, you can die of water poisoning too.

Eat a ShamWow:

• When it’s mentioned that the Colts might have gone undefeated, but they didn’t because they controlled their own destiny!

Especially special advisory:

• Do NOT drink every time the media fawns over Peyton Manning. Because such a massive overdose of alcohol will bend time and space and you are already dead.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Who wants it more?

This has been hanging up in my cubicle since 2007. In that game, the Colts trounced the Saints 41-10, leading me to attach a note answering the ad's question: "The Colts, apparently." That piece is long gone now, but the question is born anew. Bonus: Can you find the huge spelling mistake? Most people miss it.