Bill's Blither

Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Monday, January 28, 2008

How Could We Have Been So Stupid?

I've just watched George Bush's State of the Union speech, and stared in amazement as he spun one politicalized lie after another while the Republican side roared approval of one failed policy after another while the Democrats looked on in stone-faced silence. Justifying the extension of a deadly and doomed war, cynically buying votes with a "stimulus" package which will stimulate nothing, re-introducing a "trickle-down" tax break for the very wealthy who will never spend their unearned good fortune, and crushing the privacy rights of citizens and aliens alike with heavy-booted government wire-taps. All this while we, the public, watch in silence.

I thought back to my first experience in politics, helping Jack Kennedy get elected. I, and all my college friends, had a clear, pure view of the absolute rightness of a man championing civil rights, national unity, and the value of intelligence in politics. Surrounding himself with educated thinkers instead of polical hacks, he created a government that resurrected a belief in American politics, leading us to the confidence that all obstacles could be overcome. Not by war but with a Peace Corps. Not with disrespect and cynicism, but with the firm extension of civil rights and unabating respect for personal liberties.

Then, disaster. Kennedy is assassinated. Martin Luther King is assassinated. Malcolm X is assassinated. Bobby Kennedy is assassinated. Watts burns. Johnson embroils us in an unneeded, endless war through lies and exaggerations (sound familiar?). Nixon continues the jingoistic hostilities demanding an impossible total victory before he brings the troops home (sound even more familiar?). Nixon tries to steal an election illegally (sound even more familiar? But unlike Bush, he didn't get away with it). Nixon resigns. Agnew resigns. The public ceases to expect honesty in politics. Carter proves gutless and ineffectual at both war and finance. Reagan leads us into a major economic disaster by tax-benefitting the rich (and those who think they're rich), then is transformed into some sort of saint after his death. Clinton runs the country splendidly and then can't keep his zipper shut. The religious Right continues to try to rearrange the constitution so that they can bully the rest of us out of our rights while pursuing an ideological agenda. Evangelism can't be the basis of the Constitution for gosh sakes, the darn thing was written mostly by Jefferson, a Deist who had not a syntilla of belief in Christianity.

Which brings us to the cynicism (and abject stupidity) of George Bush, the leader of our country. We allowed him to take office on a clearly flawed election swung by a state controlled by his BROTHER. (Jeb couldn't step aside while a thorough investigation was made on this crucial issue?). This is a man who despite a Yale degree can't pronounce the word "nuclear". He picks as vice-president a hatchet-man with riveted ties (financial and personal) to the defense industry, then we're somehow surprised that this VP collaberates in a scheme to start a war. He appoints an Attorney General who runs rough-shod over his obligation for fairness in judicial appointments. He keeps up the pretence of searching for nuclear weapons, a job that has as much chance of success as OJ finding the "real" killer. And we elected (sort of) this idiot TWICE. I guess we deserve what we got.

I was going to revert to my usual tools, irony, satire and humor, for this post, but that speech really ticked me off (could you tell?). Does he really expect Americans to continue to buy this hogwash? Are we that stupid? Apparently.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Can't Help It, She's Just Annoying

I think I agree with about 78.7% of what Hillary Clinton says, which for me is a very high number. She's a liberal thinker, she keeps a reasonably open mind on social issues, and her economic views would have the government distribute money to trickle UP rather than the Reagonomic opposite (which ludicrous reasoning my insufferable acquaintances, who think that they're richer than they are, are always defending). My problem with Bill Clinton's wife is that she seems to have to concentrate to remember how to be a human being.

An example of this is back when her husband tripped and fell into the open mouth of Monika Lewinsky. Any woman confronted publicly with this flagrantly delicious situation would have whacked him upside the chops and told him (again publicly) that if he ever did it again she'd give him such a kick in the gonads that he'd feel it to the end of his second term. Women all over the country thought he'd gotten off easy and allowed Congress to persecute him instead. Alternatively, she could have said that she had given him permission to chase young women around the White House and all was forgiven. (On the other hand chasing is usually all right, it's catching that causes problems). The bottom line is she lost an opportunity to appear humanly female.

Now when I watch her she always appears to be carefully posed, never making an unstructured move. This kind of emotional control will inevitably lead to a build-up of internal steam that explodes like the altercation with Barack at the debate the other night. I almost expected her to flash her claws. I would have prefered that spewing of real emotion to the caterwalling that actually occured. Come on, Hill, break that facade and lets see what your gut reactions really look like.

That debacle left me totally annoyed. The candidates to whom I'd been most attracted looked about as presidential as Mike Tyson, AFTER prison. Come on, I can't vote for Huckabee, who defines himself by his evangelism (scary, we've already elected a man who calls this a "Christian country" and look where that got us, still fighting the Crusades against the Arabs). I can't vote for Mitt Romney, who's so conservative that his chauffeur takes three rights to make a left turn. McCain is only here because Noah pulled him out of the flood. Edwards is so bland that he needs vanilla to spice him up.

This leaves Hillary and Barack, and Hillary has been annoying the cr-p out of me.

Please, Barack, all I'm asking is for you not to shoot yourself in the foot for the next 10 months. And don't turn out to be annoying.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MLK Night Out

My brother called me yesterday to ask whether we should follow an impulse and go out to dinner and a "reading" at the Hartford Stage Company of David Beatty's work "Resurection". Dinner was terrific and I'll comment in a later post, but I want to talk about the show. Apparently a "reading" is the presentation of a play before it's cooked into its final form. The actors sit on bar stools and read from an open script, occasionally getting up and acting a little if they've memorized their lines for that portion of the play. We were told that the players had only a week or so to rehearse and memorize, which was ocasionally painfully obvious as stumbling and slurring occurred often.

The play was about the Black male experience in America, specifically the ghetto experience (none of these characters resembled Barack Obama, Bill Cosby, or Michael Jordan). The men ranged in age from 10 to 60 at ten year intervals. Beatty based these characters on an acticle he had read about the problems facing Black men, ascribing to each individual generic factors affecting (and afflicting) male Black society. For example, one man (a financially successful 50 year old) was gay and wouldn't leave the closet because he feared (1) rejection by his society's Evangelical church and (2) rejection by the Bishop of that church (his father). The Bishop (60 years old) was an obese diabetic addicted to Ho Hos (providing comic relief albeit representing a serious social problem). Also on stage (on chairs, actually) were a 40 year old health shop owner about to close his store for lack of community support, an ex-con who had HIV virus from needle sharing (and had infected his pregnant girlfriend), and a 20 year old just graduating high school late because of a misdiagnosis of dislexia, but nonetheless had become an honor student and was heading for Morehouse College.

The 10 year old boy, representing future generations of Black men, apparently died, then was "resurected" along with all the other characters in a rousing finale. When asked about this in a Q&A after the show, Beatty said that the boy didn't actually die and that this would be more evident when the finished play was performed. When I pointed out that this would take a re-write as a deep voice from the back of the theater (as part of the performance) SAID he died, Iwas told that "it was in the hearing" and that I had apparently not heard it right. It was the director who said this. My feeling was that it was the director who hadn't "heard" a lot of things right, but then what can you expect from an aging white guy directing a Black-themed play. Loses some credibility there.

I had one thing that caught in my craw. When the school kid was misdiagnosed as a "special ed " student, it was determined that in fact he was dyslexic, after which he of course became an honor student. My problem with that is that dyslexia as a ploy in educational plots has become more hackneyed than amnesia in a mystery novel. If the percentages of plot use held true in real life we'd be overrun with dyslexics and amnesiacs.

I'd give this almost-play a solid 7 1/2 out of 10. It goes next to Washington, D.C. and eventually to New York (maybe). Maybe with re-working (and a new director) it could be a 9.

My apologies to my reading audience for the lack of humor in this post. Next time I'll write about something really funny, like the presidential race (weren't those debates a riot?)...or the stock market.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Penultimate Football

This is absolutely the best football Sunday of the year, the one with the games just preceding the Super Bowl. There is no pressure to throw a party or go to one, just the pleasure of watching the best four teams in the game try to decimate each other. If that doesn't sate your latent sadistic instincts, these games will be played in excruciating cold environs (particularly Green Bay at night in sub-zero weather) which will make the crunching bodies sound (and feel) like concrete blocks knocking together. To get an idea of how this feels, put your hand in your sub-zero freezer and leave it there for a couple of hours while whacking it occasionally with a ruler. You say you'd never do that. Of course not . Stupidity that profound is reserved for the NFL, or maybe Jackass movies.

I, myself, am careful never to attend any of these events personally any more. Once, when I was only a few years out of college, my wife and I went with an alumnus friend and his wife to a Yale-Princeton game in November. After too much rum-laced coffee, my friend and I decided that stripping to the waist and screaming about the superiority of Bulldogs was a good idea. Our wives did not elect to join us in this endeavor, although several other alumni around us did. After about 15 minutes of this activity I noticed that my friend's skin was turning Smurf blue, as apparently was mine. Given this development and the fact that our efforts had not inspired the Elis on the field to any great heights, we reshirted and went home to nurse our resulting flus, pneumonia, etc, nevermore to repeat that semi-ecdesiastical display (at least not at football games).

Today I will make a fire in my fireplace, firmly place a beer in one hand and an olive flavored tostita chip in the other near the fake-cheese (really plastic) dip and fondly remember past stupidities. I'll watch multi-millionaire players subject themselves to arctic conditions and consider the Faustian ramifications of that. At no point will I be in temperatures of less than 70 degrees. My wife understands that these hours are sacrosanct, and will protect me from outside disturbances like "urgent" family or business phone calls. I can't imagine a heaven much better than this, except possibly with the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer, but that's a whole other blog.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Long Time Gone

It doesn't take long in chronological time for a blog to expire as an effective communicating tool. I stopped blogging a year or so ago and I find most of my old contacts are long gone. I think that I can re-establish, but I'd rather continue in my old style and hope that I can pick up a new group of readers and writers.

For those of you unfamiliar with what I do here, you can either (1) stop reading now, (2) read some of the stuff I wrote previously, or (3) read on until you're either bored or hooked. I like to look around and comment on the ridiculous to sublime events conjured up by interaction with my workmates, classmates, and anyone else I pass along the way. Today I want to talk about my experience at Giovanni's Pizza, leaning to the sublime side.

The food at Giovanni's is surprisingly good, but no male goes there for the cuisine. The management has generously provided us with the most delectable array of pulchritude east of Hefner's mansion. I've been going there for years, but I limit myself to no more than once a month for the same reason I limit sugar intake, my body (and soul) can take it only in small doses. I don't know where they find these sirens in the backwaters of semi-rural Connecticut, but the supply seems to be unending. God seems to have created these luscious creatures for my viewing enjoyment , and I'm not going to turn up my nose at divine inspiration.

I usually go there with my friend David, who as a convinced right-wing advocate is diametrically opposed to me on most subjects but is in close allignment with my appreciation of the entertaining curvature on display. Our waitress for the day had obviously shrunk both her shirt and her jeans in the wash because there was considerable space between them, framing an adorable belly button (an innie, although she featured significant "outies" elsewhere). I suggested to David that we should measure the shirt-jeans gap to see if it set some kind of record that we could send in to Guinness, but he thought that she might take it amiss. I asked her if she was chilly, but apparently that was a non-factor in her attire planning. I myself felt no chill at all.

Another waitress leaned over the next table to reach some empty glasses, providing us with a spectacular posterior view. As she walked away I remarked to David, "Outstanding, more than memorable". David, more circumspect than I, replied "Shh, she's right behind you!" When I turned around, expecting to be chastized for my indiscrete remark, I was greeted with a knowing smile that almost melted my socks.

I love pizza.