Saturday, October 25, 2008

Read the book before the movie comes around...

About every third commercial during tonight's World Series game had Christie Brinkley's pool scene in Vacation doctored to encourage me to buy HDTV. About every fourth was plugging Jim Carrey's Christmas movie Yes Man.

I'm sort of dreading it. Yes Man is an absolutely fantastic book that has the benefit of being non-fiction. As I told you back when I read the book, the author, Danny Wallace, decides he's being too negative in his life, and that he has to start saying yes to things more. Like pamphleteers on the street. Emailed spam. The guy in the bar who says "Are you checking out my girlfriend, punk?" All of it.

And, as I told you a couple of years back, it's a flat-ass amazing book.

But I suspect it will have almost nothing to do with the movie. Wallace gets "book" credit, as well as "associate producer" credit. To me, that means they just cut him a check.

Now, I've never thought Jim Carrey was funny. I liked him in The Truman Show, but nothing else. So the thought of them taking this awesome story and making it into a vehicle for Carrey clowning...well, it doesn't sit well with me.

So don't go see it. Buy the book instead.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lunch

Whenever I have a ham sandwich, I have an urge to indict it.

I don't feel that way if it has cheese on it, I think because I call it a "ham and cheese," which doesn't to my knowledge, get indicted.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who's "real" in an election? Who's "fake?"

Sarah Palin, according to this article from the wonderful fivethirtyeight.com, said the following the other day:

We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.


People have responded negatively (and rightly so) to the notion that there are some parts of the country that are "pro-America" and some parts that are, by extension, "anti-America" (or, one could argue from the quote, merely not very "pro-America.")

That's not the bit that bugs me the most, however. The big that bugs me the most is that Palin refers to part of the country as "real America."

I've seen this use of the word "real" quite frequently lately...what's rural is "real America" and what's urban is, I assume, "fake America." Here in my home state of Washington, we're in the midst of another incredibly close gubernatorial election (a rematch between two candidates...the incumbent, Democrat Christine Gregoire, beat the challenger, Republican Dino Rossi, by 129 votes, or .005 percent, last time). Rossi's response is to divide and conquer...to exploit the us-versus-them bullshit. My wife has already discussed the "Don't Let Seattle Steal This Election!" business, trying to play off rural against urban. And I don't give the Roadside Republican much stead, but his billboard along I-5 probably speaks for a lot of rural Washingtonians right now. It says something like: "Will King County just secede from the REAL Washington?"

Rural Washington=real. Seattle=fake.

What Palin did to America and Rossi's minion did to Washington, McCain aide Nancy Pfotenhauer is doing to Virginia. Yesterday, she stated that Northern Virginia isn't "real Virginia":

"As a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia, I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," Pfotenhauer said, speaking of Democratic gains in that part of the state. "And that's really what you see there.

"But the rest of the state, 'real Virginia,' if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message,"


Let's examine what it means when rural America is "real" and urban America is "fake":

According to Governor Palin, nearly 3,000 fake Americans died when the planes hit the World Trade Center.

According to Ms. Pfotenhauer, 184 fake Virginians died in the Pentagon that same day.

The fivethirtyeight.com article goes a step further. In a great demographic examination, they look at the racial breakdowns of cities and towns that Sarah Palin has visited since the conventions with the racial breakdowns of cities and towns that Obama has visited. They found that the cities that Palin has visited

are, on average, 83.3 percent non-Hispanic white, 7.5 percent black, 5.2 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent "other". By comparison, the US 18+ population in 2000 was 72.0 percent white, 11.2 percent black, 11.0 percent Hispanic, and 5.9 percent other. Thirty-four of Palin's 44 cities were whiter than the US average.

Over the same interval, Barack Obama had public events scheduled in 48 distinct cities. The racial composition of these cities was 69.8 percent white, 17.4 percent black, 8.9 percent Hispanic, and 4.0 percent other. The percentage of whites very nearly matches the US average 72.0 percent; 22 of Obama's cities were whiter than average, and the other 26 were less white than average. Obama, however, has visited cities with a relatively larger fraction of blacks than in the US as a whole.


This wouldn't bother me much normally--both Palin and Obama are going to travel to where their more receptive audiences are, and Palin's will tend to be whiter while Obama's will tend to be more diverse. However, once Palin plays the "real America" card, her rhetoric opens herself up to legitimate criticism that she believes that the "real America" features more White faces.

(Let me be very clear: liberals' rhetoric can be just as bad. We liberals have all been to gatherings where we bash rural America, talking about yokel uncles and married cousins and crap like that. Too many of us dehumanize rural America as much as others dehumanize urban America. Let's face it--there are times we act as if anyone who disagrees with us politically is a cartoon rather than "real.")

Here's the big issue I have...

Do Republicans think that I am real?

I grew up in the suburbs of the largest city in a state that voted Republican (real, I guess). I then went to a liberal arts college (fake) in a very rural environment (real), spending a year in England (very fake). After two years in the rural South (double real), I spent a year very much in the city (fake) and another year in another city (fake) before settling down for eleven years in King County (fake). I have since moved to Clark County, Washington.

Hmmm. Clark County. Where hippy-dippy-granola Portland intersects uber-rural SW Washington. Am I real, Sarah? Nancy? Dino? I can't decide.

Of course, the three of you have had no problem de-citizenifying much of my family. My parents and my brother's family live in King County. You don't think they're real Americans or Washingtonians. My kid sister lives in Northern Virginia. You don't think she's a real American or Virginian. And my big sister and her family, located outside Tacoma, are suspect (they border both King County and a city). But they likely are real to you because they usually vote Republican.

And I think that's the heart of it. On both sides.

The people who agree with us are real. The people who disagree with us are fake.

If you wonder why there's so much dehumanizing rhetoric and even action these days, that's why. We don't believe that people who disagree with us are "real."

Say it with me:

There is no them. There is only us.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Found in the Voters' Pamphlet

I'm voting right now. Voting takes me several hours, since I try to research as I go.

One of the people responsible for preparing one of the statements is called a "retired postal worker, bowler, gathered 1,469 signatures."

Oh! He BOWLS! Well then, I'm right on board with his expertise about transportation issues! Count me in! Why won't the other side tell me their preferred hobbies? What are they hiding?

Read THIS, Sarah Palin...

The Denver Post endorsed Obama for President yesterday. I don't think such matters sway anybody, although it's nice to have them in a swing state. But they've correctly pointed out that, in spite of Palin and the Republicans ragging on his community organizing past, that this is a complete positive:

Republicans love to mock Obama's history as a community organizer. But here was a man with no money to offer, no patronage to dispense, no way to punish his opponents. All he could do was to work with people from all walks of life, liberals and conservatives, business people and the unemployed, and bring them together in common cause for a better community. Could there really be better preparation to reunite a worried and divided America to again pursue our "more perfect union"?


Yup. You know full well Palin would have never laid her butt on the line to help people less fortunate than herself like Obama did. She wasn't mocking Obama's lack of experience, but was actually mocking a beautiful and selfless act. I'm glad the Post recognized this.

I won't be on a plane until next summer at the earliest.

And when I go, I will be nervous because I read this terrifying article. TSA=not making anybody safer. Not that it's their fault...after reading this, I'm not sure it's possible to make things safer than they were on September 10, 2001.

(Props to Jim.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not sure if I'm the only guy in America thinking this.

As "Joe the Plumber" kept being mentioned and re-mentioned and re-mentioned...as he changed from human being to symbol to freakin' archetype...

I kept getting the Supersonic Soul Pimps' song "Joe Schmoe the Garbage Man" stuck in my head.

Couldn't get it out. And now I've been singing it all night.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Best. Monday. Night. Ever.

I'm not a Browns fan. I don't trust anyone who barks like a dog when faced with a little scoreboard encouragement and peer pressure. But I was a Cleveland fan tonight.

My fantasy team had an anemic 65-64 lead over my sister-in-law going into tonight. I was done for the week; she had the Giants' D against a fairly pathetic Browns team. I figured that it was all over.

I had reason to watch the game, however. A survivor pool I entered had suffered some big casualties recently that I'd avoided. Washington beat Dallas two weeks back, then Denver lost in Kansas City. Yesterday, the Rams won in Washington. I avoided all of those land mines, and as it turned out, if the Browns won tonight, I'd be the only one left standing. $380 to me if the Browns win.

Needless to say, I watched the game.

Incredibly, the Giants D scored ZERO points for my opponent. That means no turnovers and no sacks for the whole game. (On top of that, Cleveland didn't even punt!) So I managed to win the game. My team (called Pull Up Your Trousers! The Vicar's Here!) is now 3-3 and in the thick of things, at least for now.

Better, the Browns won handily, so I've got a check for $380 headed my way.

I have NO IDEA how to spend it! I suspect I'll sit on it for a year, then spend it on something nice for my wife and me on our next Vegas trip. Maybe a great meal at a restaurant we'd never otherwise make it to in our lives. Maybe a top-notch show. Maybe a night of whoring. Any of those will do, as long as Swankette and I do it together.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Continuing to make the world right for my party...

Al Gore just won the 2000 election under my watchful eye.

I couldn't reel in Florida...to be honest, I stopped paying attention to it too early. But I figured I could concentrate on Gore's home state of Tennessee, and I pulled it in along with Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio, while Bush only gained Maine and New Mexico from the real 2000 results. My Gore scored 327 electoral votes and a 49.7-48.0 percent plurality of votes. And I didn't go negative. (I researched for dirt on Bush, but it took too long so I switched research to real issues and ran great ads with the research results. See? Fictional America responds to issues.)

Now, if only I could somehow make the game real so we didn't have to endure the last 8 years.

Next stops: 1992, then 1980. Those are all the years the game offers now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

McCain's angry, threatening supporters

Well, Saturday's New York Times captures McCain backpedaling a bit, trying to get voters to not be scared of the prospect of a President Obama. It's an interesting article. It captures the main problem, of course, which is that McCain/Palin's incendiary rhetoric has failed to do anything other than rile up those who are already right-wingnuts and has turned off anybody else. (See why I'm against this stuff, and why I'm glad Obama has mostly laid off of it?)

I can't give McCain and (especially) Palin too much credit for this. Even if they're not hearing the shouts of "Terrorist!" "Kill him!" "Off with his head!" or racial epithets being hurled at an African-American sound technician, and therefore can't nip the problem in the bud, they could step up at their first opportunity and say "Hey! Supporters! You can't be doing that shit!"

But instead they blamed Obama, saying he is "insulting McCain's supporters" and recalling the "cling to guns" comment from this summer. That's right--they said Obama was somehow at fault for their own supporters' racial epithets and literally murderous rhetoric.

I voted for McCain in the 2000 primary, back when Washington law permitted crossing party lines to pick someone. I liked the notion of an election where I had two candidates I liked. He's a different man now.

I'm glad he seems to be shifting tacks, but he needed to do so earlier and louder. He's trying to calm the asshole wing of his party about 48 hours too late for me to maintain respect for him. Better late than never...but far better an immediate rebuke than to let this crap percolate.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hey, Portland! Help TRP become a Blazer fan!

Now that I live in Portland, I think I need to re-start my dormant NBA love. If it's possible, that is.

I was a massive NBA fan (and especially Denver Nuggets fan) as a kid in the '80s. Loved that run-and-gun squad of Doug Moe...so fun to watch. Alex English's silky jumper. Fat Lever running the point. T.R. Dunn's defensive stops. But sometime in the early '90s my NBA love fell apart.

I think I know why. With the advent of Phil Jackson's triangle offense, players stopped moving away from the ball. The game became all about isolation crap. I could almost hear the coach in the huddle: "Hey! You four guys go down there and stand still! Let the fifth guy take his man!" Ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I remember trying to watch the All-Star game in around 2000. I got bored in a big hurry. I figured...gee, is it just that I'm an old fuddy-duddy, remembering a past that was never quite that good? It's a freakin' All-star game...I don't exactly expect poetry. I expect slop playground ball played by the best players in the world, which is a fun prospect. But so damn many people were standing stock still. So I popped in a tape of the 1984 All-Star Game, which my dad took me to in Denver. There, I saw people actually moving away from the ball...setting picks, working a real-live 5-man game.

It wasn't me. The game had changed.

Well, I'm in a one-team town now. And I want to be able to follow that team intelligently, if for no other reason than to gain the ability to talk to my co-workers about it.

This is where you come in. I need some help becoming a Blazer fan.

So, local folks, help me out. My NBA knowledge card expired in about 1994, and I've only paid tangential attention since. My Blazer knowledge is even less...I know Greg Oden is back and that Brandon Roy is a stud (watched him play HS ball in Seattle, actually). And now there's some guy named Fernandez, and Nate McMillan is the coach. That's literally it.

--What are some things I can look for early that will let me know this team is gelling and might have a shot at the playoffs?
--What are some things I can look for early that will let me know things aren't going well?
--Who are players that are fun to watch?
--Who appears to be having fun while they play?
--Who hustles the most?
--Who plays the best defense?

And finally--

--What are some backstories from the past few years about these players? (Current players only, please. I don't need Jail Blazer horror stories. But what are things that happened recently that will enhance my team-following pleasure?)

Please comment liberally and candidly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Hedgehog

Today was the Really Big Ultrasound! 20 weeks, yo.

(Incidentally, since so many people are obsessed with the kid's sex...we followed through on our plan to "tell us if you see whether it's a boy or a girl, but don't go looking around for it." So we may or may not know our child's sex. I will alternate pronouns just to tantalize you.)

First off...the "4D" photos are kind of creepy. They make the kid look like he is a plaster bas-relief, or a chewed piece of gum. But quite clearly, and quite definitely, the kid was smiling. Even as she pulled her thumb away from her face, she was smiling. Can't complain there.

At one point, Hedgehog held up a thumb and forefinger while retracting the other three fingers. The doctor said "See? The baby says he's #1!" We think it means that she's doing the "loser" symbol, probably at us. We actually were a little disappointed he didn't flip us off. Now THAT would be our baby.

In spite of a few pokes and even some bops of Swankette's stomach, neither the technician nor the doctor could get Hedgehog to move his back from the uterine wall, so we get to go back in a couple of weeks to make sure that the back is OK. There wer no other signs of negative anything. But the child would not listen to me telling her to move around a little bit for the nice doctor. This would be the child's first time disobeying me. I have grounded him. She must stay in her room for the next 4.5 months.

Some of the photos reminded me of the big baby in 2001: A Space Odyssey. We looked for an obelisk after the appointment.

This rocked. Fun stuff.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

TRP's Fearless 2008 MLB Playoff Predictions

Based on not a lot of knowledge...more a hunch.

Cubs over Dodgers 3-0
Brewers over Phillies 3-2 (two Sabathia wins and a random win)

Rays over ChiSox 3-1
Angels over Red Sox 3-2

Cubs over Brewers 4-0
Rays over Angels 4-3

Rays over Cubs 4-2

I just got a feeling...no real evidence to support this. Plus, it'd be damn funny to watch Cub fans completely implode as their curse continues at the hands of the team whose fans least deserve a title.