Forsooth! A final week of 2009 meme!

I was not looking for a meme, but I did think I needed to write a post or two about end-of-year stuff. As it turns out, I found one from that American expat in New Zealand, Nik at spatulaforum, that met my needs. Oddly, Nik has written about spatulas only once.

Not incidentally, Nik’s meme was stolen for this week’s Sunday Stealing, which I usually purloin. Like a circle in a circle.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Go to a bunch of kindergarten events, such as the “Apple Run”; the daughter is fast! Go on a vacation with the wife, without the daughter, for our 10th anniversary; it was surely the highlight of the year, though we were only 30 miles from home. Saw Bruce Springsteen live. Flew on an airplane with the daughter, her first flights.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don’t make the things. Less grief.

3. How will you be spending New Year’s Eve?

Watching my wife valiantly trying to stay awake but likely failing.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No, though the husband of a fellow choir member did.

5. What countries did you visit?

None, including the US. In fact, the longest trip was the aforementioned flight to Charlotte.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

More sleep. More democracy. Less war. Steve Bissette wrote What I Won’t Miss About 2009, and I really can’t argue with any of it; re: the year, this video Steve found will do nicely.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 3, the massacre in Binghamton, NY. May 14, Springsteen.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through my wife’s two weeks away at college, taking care of the daughter while trying to maintain a semblance of a work schedule.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Controlling the temper, especially during the aforementioned trip to Charlotte.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

The usual minor aches and pains. My neck is a little stiff. I have a cut on the heel of my left foot which makes walking without at least slippers, and preferably thick-soled sneakers, painful. And I suffered with some sort of head congestion/lung congestion/coughing up phlegm thing for two weeks in December which seems FINALLY to be over.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The Top Pop Singles book. Fun! Actually, I liked buying Wonder Pets DVDs for the daughter; she enjoyed them.

12. Where did most of your money go?

The mortgage, of course. Also house renovation; the attic is being insulated this very week to take advantage of a tax credit.

13. What song will always remind you of 2009?

Tennessee Jed by Levon Helm, from his new Electric Dirt album, one of the very few albums I actually got in 2009.
I also bought A Very Special Christmas 7, and it had a bunch of newer artists that don’t cut it; Kellie Pickler doing Santa Baby is unconvincing. A Christmas Song by Charice was the best tune, though Gloriana’s Silent Night I liked as well. Still, it’s for a good cause, the Special Olympics, and I’ll probably buy the next one when it comes out in 3 or 5 years.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Playing racquetball. Also wish I had bought my bicycle earlier than June. I saw no live baseball – bummer.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Overthinking.

16. What was your favourite TV program?

“Glee”, for sure. It’s a show I get to watch with my wife, which doesn’t happen that often. People say it’s not realistic, as though it were a docudrama. No, the cheerleaders wouldn’t wear the outfits ALL the time. Sheesh. I bought the wife both soundtracks for Christmas. Al;so been watching The Good Wife, which is a show I watch sans wife.
Whereas The Office has lost something, and I can’t put my finger on it – Jim & Pam being married? The co-managing thing?

17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Well, not hate. What’s interesting is when there is someone everyone in a certain circle seems to love. But you’re just not that enamored, and it seems to be mutual.

18. What was the best book you read?

The Jack Kirby book by Evanier. Or was that last year?

19. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Well, there’s this British band called the Beatles that I seem to be newly into. Also, to a much lesser degree, Queen. About as little NEW music as I’ve ever experienced.

20. What was your favorite film of this year?

2008 movie I saw in 2009: The Visitor.
2009 movie: Up or Amreeka or maybe District 9. Though if I just got the Julia part of Julie and Julia, it’d be that. But there are a LOT of films I haven’t seen.

21. What did you do on your birthday?

Played (hearts) cards.

22. What kept you sane?

This assumes that I am sane. There’s no evidence I’ve seen.

23. Who did you miss?

Nobody, really. I mean I wish I saw some people more often, but that would be a shopping list. And because of the magic of electronics, I feel I DO keep up with them and/or know they keep up with me. Without that, it’d be pretty tough.

24. Who was the best new person you met?

There are some new folks in church I’m rather fond of, but I won’t name names.

25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot…

Actually, it is the wisdom of Satchel Paige:
“Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”
“Don’t pray when it rains if you don’t pray when the sun shines.”
“Not to be cheered by praise, not to be grieved by blame, but to know thoroughly one’s own virtues or powers are the characteristics of an excellent man.”
“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”

ROG

Laboring to Put Together A Coherent Blogpost

This blog post started innocently enough, just noticing how different the United States is than most other places. Many countries have Labor Day in May, but we have it in September because of an event in our history; fair enough.

But what’s with our resistance to the metric system? And don’t use medicine or track as examples; they were more or less required for international competition. You COULD mention the ubiquitous two-liter bottle, but what else has cut through?

I asked Nik, an expat from the US living in New Zealand the difference between the two countries. On the plus side for the US: “friendliness (I find Americans, while they can be loud, are more open-hearted sometimes).”

I found this troubling, because I’m finding Americans a pretty unfriendly lot sometimes, biting off a finger, shouting down a lady in a wheelchair, pulling their kids out of school because the President’s going to “indoctrinate” them, etc., etc. One guy heckling the wheelchair-bound woman said he did so because he didn’t want to hear her opinion on health care. I can only wonder what he thought his own position was; the “facts”?

Letters of comments have gone from expressing differences of opinion to becoming bile-infused rants. Jon Stewart joked recently that we used to feel apologetic to the rest of the world for our President. And now it’s our President who must apologize for us.

Oh, sure, the crude behavior doesn’t represent everyone. But I can’t help but wonder how we went from being a country that would watch Jerry Springer on TV to one that has brought Springer-Show tactics to the public debate. Perhaps race is part of it, and that GQ got it right.

WAIT a minute…GQ?

Well, specifically Jim Nelson’s editor page comment: Remember a long, long time ago – it almost seems like a recession and a half ago – when Barack Obama first came (via Kenya, of course) to power? Remember how certain hope-doped commentators predicted that his election would finally allow Americans to have a frank discussion about race?

Something different and less hope-inducing has happened. His presidency has allowed us to talk around race, to talk about it constantly and subliminal, without ever truly discussing it. And by doing so, we’re proving how much distance we have to grow up.

And my favorite:

“Everywhere you look, people keep making bats***-crazy comments about race and ethnicity, stream-of-consciousness-style, as if the election had unleashed some Freudian anxiety in the cultural air.”

And how did #uknowurblackwhen become the leading trend on Twitter yesterday? For every interesting note, there were five dreadful ones. Well, as far as I know; I’d read 20 and 75 more would be waiting.

Again, I know it isn’t everyone – I’d vote for the Roberto Clemente award for MLB community-minded players if it didn’t take so long to load – but I get the feeling that the fall will be as disheartening as August was.

ROG

April Ramblin’

I briefly attended that vigil for Binghamton yesterday. Would have stayed longer but for the fact that it was cold, occasionally rainy, and I had the child, who has been sick recently, in tow. She may not have understood the point of the gathering, attended by about 45, including Albany’s mayor (who, not incidentally is, running for re-election), but I still wanted her to be there. That event, along with the story in question, probably prompted this response from me.

THE best television newsperson to come out of the Capital District of New York State, Ed Dague, is in chronic pain. Touching story. I met him at least twice, which I should write about sometime, I reckon.

Greg finds legislation he just can’t get behind.

Gordon touts Robert Johnson, as well he should.

They are remastering the whole Beatles catalog. Given the fact that I’ve already bought it all about thrice (US LP, UK LP, CD), do I want to buy this AGAIN? No, yet the Past Masters package sounds annoyingly intriguing.

Ken Levine talks about Point of View, one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H. Did the TV show House steal it? Didn’t see the House ep, but I have my doubts.

15 free downloads to pep up your old PC, which I haven’t tried yet, but I figure if I post it, it’ll remind me.

I’m getting fairly obsessed with getting the Denver mint state quarters. All I need are Hawaii, Washington state, Missouri and, most problematic, Pennsylvania, the eldest. Oh, and the District of Columbia; just got the Philly mint version this week. Haven’t seen the Puerto Rico quarter yet.

My good buddy Steve Bissette discusses, in great deal, including 27 8 by 10 color glossies, Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, the transitional first issue by Alan Moore, John Totleman, and himself that starts off the neat book I just received.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Speaking of Swamp Thing, the co-creator of, and later Steve’s editor on, the title, coping as well as one can, given the circumstances, but there’s a movement afoot to replace the comics he wrote or edited and, to that end, for people to contribute to a Len Wein comics checklist. I always liked his work during my days of reading Marvel Comics.

So THAT’S what happened at the Albany Comic Show Sunday, before I got there.

ADD’s Eisner picks. I’ll take his word for it, since the only thing on the list I own is Mark Evanier’s Kirby book, though Coraline has been on back order for about a month.

Evanier tells A Story You Won’t Believe about Spike Jones.

I’m so pleased: Two weekends ago, we went to the in-laws for their 50th wedding anniversary. Last weekend was Lydia’s 5th birthday party at the State Museum. Next weekend is something else again. This coming weekend, Easter, the wife and her mother were trying to come up with a plan to get together. The final resolution – we’re all staying in our respective homes and resting; I mean we’ll go to church and all, but no travel. I for one am exhausted, and so is my wife, so this is a good thing.

Nik from Spatula Forum celebrates five years of blogging by talking about…

Arthur from AmeriNZ celebrates both his 100th blogpost and two years of podcasting.

ROG

Yet another conversation about politics

I was commenting on Anthony’s thoughtful, as usual, essay, Are Americans Suspicious of Intellectuals?. My answer was a resounding “Yes.” The conversation went back and forth, somewhat heated at times, and I chimed in: “Ultimately, my primary reason NOT to vote for Palin/McCain can be summed up by the frenzy of hate they and their supporters have stirred up. My favorite example. Seems somehow antithetical to what the country needs right now.”

Someone named Kevin Benson responded: “Roger – Wow! Do you really feel that there is less hate on the left than on the right? If so, you have been doing some very selective listening. Unfortunately, ignorance, hatred, and prejudice are too prevalent across the political spectrum. If you are going to vote based on the ‘frenzy of hate’, you really should not vote for anyone.”

Anthony jumps in, and says, in part: “Kevin – I agree with you that there is equal disinformation and hateful rhetoric on both sides of the political divide, but I have seen more appeals to ‘not one of us’ rhetoric coming from the McCain/Palin camp during this election season. What I mean is that Palin particularly, and some of those at the McCain/Palin rallies have directly and indirectly presented Obama as ‘not a genuine American,’ a man who has other than American interests at heart. And, maybe it is just me, but among all the negative campaigning on both sides, this particularly gets to me.”

I respond: “Kevin – What Anthony said. Sure there have been attacks on McCain as old, out of touch, plus some legitimate health concerns. Even HE jokes about his ill temper. Palin is portrayed as not very with it, though not until her conversations with Gibson and Couric suggested that. Biden is a loose cannon who doesn’t always know when to shut up, he might acknowledge.
“But Obama’s been called a traitor, doesn’t love his country, an Arab (not that there’s anything wrong with that except it was used to evoke post 9/11 feelings and it’s not true), a Muslim (ditto), etc. I mean, what does “Who is Barack Obama REALLY?” supposed to suggest? Not Repudiated: Hate Talk Express-McCain/Palin Hate Every Day!“.

Apropos of that, the picture Colin Powell alluded to on Meet the Press during his endorsement of Barack Obama :

Painfully, some of the smearing works. A Democratic committeeperson in Albany County asked me just yesterday, “But what about Obama being sworn in on a Koran?” I could have screamed, but gently, rationally noted that the information was NOT true and that she ought to go to Snopes.

Oh, I hear LOTS of frenzied stuff on both sides, to frankly a tiresome degree. But some independent entity determined that while virtually all of McCain’s ads during a recent period were attack ads, only 1/3 of Obama’s were. And I dare say, most of those were responses to the McCain ads, such as one noting that the McCain ads were “not true”, lest he be swiftboated.

No, Kevin, I totally disagree that the “frenzy of hate” is caused equally by both sides. The “otherness” attack which may be code for race-baiting, and race is still the subtext, is hardly the equivalent to suggestions that Palin could be an extra in the movie “Fargo”. And heck, the abandonment by folks from the political right of the spectrum is certainly fueled at least in part by the realization that the McCain-Palin rhetoric is fundamentally flawed.

And while I’m noting things from other blogs, Nik wrote: “Obama has proven to be pretty masterful at projecting a cool, collected vibe, even if it sometimes is a bit stiff. But McCain has been all over the bloody show at all three debates, by turns hyperactive, frazzled, arrogant and insecure.” To which I wrote: “I’m convinced the “stiff”-ness you perceive (probably correctly) in Obama is his self-training in not being the ‘angry black man’.”

Amazingly, it was only then that the obvious parallel came to mind: Jackie Robinson. Jackie was a proud (and occasionally angry) black black man, who Branch Rickey told to suck it up, take the insults, and break baseball’s color line. I think that Barack may have learned to be preternaturally calm because he’s had to learn to straddle the color line virtually all his life.

The person sent me the picture above wrote, “What must it feel like? To carry the hopes and dreams of an entire race of people on your shoulders?” And I suppose that’s become true. Though less than a year ago, it was Hillary, not Barack , who was the choice of most black Americans. And most blacks would probably have voted for whatever candidate the Democrats put up, though I think Obama’s candidacy will spur a greater turnout.

Finally, Arthur and Jason had their post-debate podcast, and there was a discussion about polling. It’s my contention that polling will be “off” significantly, not just because the pollsters miss all of those mostly younger voters without landline phones, but also because many states allow for early voting without cause. (In New York, I would have to be out of town or in the hospital. Oooh, I’m not feeling so well. May I vote now? PLEASE?)
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How Muslims become racialized
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Ballotpedia wiki provides information concerning ballot initiatives in each state.
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Ted Nugent (yes, that Ted Nugent) on McCain-Palin “closing the deal”.

ROG

Obamatics


I’d been meaning to write about Barack Obama again ever since I watched Meet the Press back on Sunday, May 4 and saw Tim Russert’s interview spend THE FIRST 15 MINUTES talking about the Reverend Jeremiah wright. Lest you think I exaggerate, check out this. Given ABC News being ridiculed for doing a similar thing during the “debates”, Russert should have known better. This came up after both George Will and my local paper scolded Obama for not severing his association with Wright sooner; a related story generated mucho comments.

But assuming that Obama is the Democratic party nominee, the conversation shifts to who will be the Vice-Presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton shows up in the mix, of course, and her strengths (support among women and older, rural Americans, et al.) are as well known as her liabilities (generally, the baggage of being a Clinton), so that she’d be portrayed like this.
Gordon let me know about the buzz over John Edwards.
I’m still keen on Bill Richardson. In fact, I’ve been touting him since December of 2005, when I thought that Russ Feingold was running for President.

Obama’s Vision (30 minute video).

Tangentially, I was reading this quote on CNN yesterday:
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, an uncommitted superdelegate, said the delegate numbers are in Obama’s favor, but the popular vote is important to the people of his state.
“I think we see what happened in 2004, when Al Gore won the popular vote, and where the country has gone and the feelings toward government since then. I put a lot of stock in that,” he said on CNN’s “American Morning.”

I just had to know: did the governor of West Virginia really think that Al Gore ran only four years ago? No, the transcription of the video was wrong.

Tom Hanks Endorses Obama (video). Actually quite funny, I thought.

Observations from my favorite Albany grouch and my favorite American expat in New Zealand.

Finally, at the request of a good friend of mine, I was asked to comment on some specific comments about racism and the race in this dialogue on the Daily Kos. Part of the thrust of the conversation was about Hillary Clinton, whether her campaign engaged in racist campaign tactics. And I find I can’t go there. Those liberals fighting is far more irritating than the conservatives I check out, maybe because I care more. I must admit that while I sometimes read the stories, I seldom follow all the comments, especially when they descend into Sturm und Drang; they tend to exhaust me. But no, I didn’t think the comments you made were racist or even insensitive, but I’m sure some of the participants would disagree…

Photo courtesy tsevis’ photostream

ROG