Saturday, October 09, 2004

Oh, and

If you're in search of a completely non-partisan, highly intellectual discussion of tonight's happily non-vomitous outcome, go here.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

When John Edwards and Big Time Fight Authority

What struck me were the moments preceding the whole affair, this business of the VP candidates debating. Most of you probably joined the debate right as the major broadcast networks did; that is, when people actually started talking. As I am forcibly subscribed to the Worst. Cable. Ever., I have no major cable news to speak of, and therefore am exiled to C-SPAN for any semblance of non-crap in national news coverage (the above statement excuses the fact that C-SPAN’s cutting-edge morning show, which, when it needs to make a graphic point, will zoom in on a cut-out newspaper article, various paragraphs of which have been circled by a highlighter. If news is really breaking and the crack research staff hasn't had time to bust out the mega-high tech stuff, the paragraphs in question have been circled in pen. Otherwise, Bics are used to primarily tap on the highlighted paragraph currently under discussion. You can only watch this stuff in small doses; otherwise, the quick-cuts from one twenty-minute shot to another may cause seizures and vomiting.)

The thing with C-SPAN is, they have no anchors, no pre-show, and no commentary, which makes it old-school awesome. You get to hear the shuffle-murmur, shuffle-murmur-cough of the auditorium crowd, and that? IS America.

Life hurtled straight downhill from there, however, as perhaps the most uncomfortable five minutes of life on all the Earth followed. The candidates are announced-- big cheers-- and I turn to look at the clock, and it’s 8:55. Debate starts at nine. WTF, is C-SPAN messing with me, or is my blonde-fabulous atomic wall clock not doing its business?

Oh, no, no. They wanted Big Time and Edwards right there when the broadcast starts, so they came on stage, and they’re sitting there, and writing stuff down, and the crowd was totally silent, and Big Time must have enormous handwriting because after a few seconds he turned the page, and it was the loudest page-turn in the history of the world. Then after a few seconds he finished writing, which left him with absolutely nothing to do, so he took to folding his hands and staring over the moderator’s shoulder in vaguely Vice Presidential fashion. Edwards' solution was to simply write and write and write and write and write, because he is REALLY TRULY MEGA-SERIOUS ABOUT WANTING THIS JOB. I bet he was just making little squiggles there, towards the end, but to be totally honest that’s probably what I would have wound up doing too. And the moderator, with no reason to write anything, took to switching between avoiding eye contact with Big Time and not losing sight of the C-SPAN camera from Rent-To-Own.

But at last Edwards ran out of squiggles and then he, too, was just sitting and staring. It was the cocktail party from hell. I'm telling you, there was some truly serious democracy going on there, at 8:58 PM in Cleveland.

And when the festivities finally got underway, Edwards, who graduated summa cum laude from Miss Pritchett’s School of Smarm, stared directly into the lens with this big smile and enormous nod and also an eyebrow pop. I think we can all agree that people who waggle their eyebrows in any capacity whatsoever are in no way fit to be President.

Big Time, for his part, made a huge impression by looking exactly the same way he always does, by which I mean... exactly the same way he always does. Three and a half years of unending warfare haven’t aged the man at all. I was more weatherbeaten by the Reds '99 season. I can't decide to be impressed, or frightened.

The best part about Edwards’ performance was his strict adherence to the rules of engagement, such as his attention to a prohibition against the candidates addressing one another directly, a prohibition he showed immense respect for by making the very first words out of his mouth “Mr. Vice President…”

Other than noting the fact that when it was all over Big Time waded angrily into the crowd while Edwards just kept loading up on small children, I’m not going to get into the during-and-aftermath because three of my fellow writers have already done so.

GORDO COOPER UPDATE: I was properly reamed by a friend for not mentioning in Wednesday’s eulogy the role that Astronaut Cooper plays in that most triumphant of human acts, modern urination.

Whenever a particular group of friends and I are assembled, our Secret Signal for a trip to the Little Astronaut’s room is to intone, “Gordo… Gordo.” This is a quote from a scene in the movie version of The Right Stuff depicting that glorious moment in American history in which Alan Shepard, winched into his tiny capsule for hours and really, really needing to pee, was forced to beg permission to do so from the rocket scientists in the bunkhouse. And since Gordo was the capsule communicator (capcom) between the astronaut and the engineers, he was the one who got to hear all the pleading. So all these Germans start bickering because they’re afraid that Shepard is going to electrocute himself what with the live wiring in his suit and all, and Gordo cuts in with, “Look, the man has got to go.” And so they gave in, and Alan peed in his suit, and we beat the Commies.

I miss Gordo.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

"Other than that, things are fine."

I’m sorry, but today was just crap. When you awaken to the news that the Mercury Seven are now minus four, you know there ain’t gonna be a trail of rose petals from the bed to the bathroom door.

Gordon Cooper has passed, my favorite of the Seven, an honor previously held by John Glenn until he faded into extreme asshattery in his old age. Gordo was one of those people placed on Earth for the female of the species to develop a crush upon. Sixth in line (the last to fly, Deke Slayton, was medically grounded for years and would not launch until the ‘70’s), he closed out the Mercury days with the longest mission of the program. This is Gordo Cooper: As his capsule, Faith 7, began dying system by system due to electrical failures and God knows what-all, he announced the news thusly: “Well, things are starting to stack up a little bit here.”

He then moved on to Gemini, whupping out an eight-day mission with Pete Conrad in a two-seat capsule the size of the front seat of a Volkswagon. In his later years, he explored the possibilities of extraterrestrial life (Leap of Faith, his autobiography is called), discussing a few Supah-Freaky experiences he’d had as a young test pilot. He revealed that, acting on an concerns expressed by a woman claiming to receive transmissions from unearthy beings, he passed on technical concerns about the cooling system in the then-under construction space shuttle system that likely saved the program. (Whoever this woman is, I need to find her and have her ask the Ewoks about what the hell is going on with the sometimes-working, sometimes-not gearshift light on the Bellemobile.) No matter what you think of the whole ET issue, you gotta give it to the guy for having the testicular fortitude for saying what he thought about it.

We’re down to three, now—Glenn, Scott Carpenter, and Wally Schirra, who, ironically, also functioned as a bit of a subset in the program, having taken the third, fourth, and fifth flights (There. You can conduct your day in peace, now, having been told this.) I bet if you had asked the Seven in those days when the whole world balanced on their shoulders, when they couldn’t twitch a baby toe without a picture of it appearing in Life magazine, when it seemed we’d be opening a K-Mart on Neptune by the end of the Kennedy administration, they’d have expressed outright pissedness at the news that we’ve only achieved private space flight just this week-- the day Gordo died, as a matter of fact. If they knew we rewarded their sacrifices, and those of their on-the-ground brethren, by ceremoniously grounding the entire Apollo program just three years after setting foot on the moon, they’d have kicked our asses around the block. We owe them more. We owe ourselves more.

Anyway: Gordo Cooper. Chilly test pilot, open-minded creative, hottie for the ages. Good tailwinds to you, buddy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Oh. That.

Many of you ghetto-fabulous commentors and emailers have been asking for a full accounting of my experiences with Hurricane Jeanne, and frankly they’re all starting to blend together, these storms. It’s just de rigueur at this point. We’ve got it down to a system now. You plan for the weekend, you check first to see if the bar you’re headed to is located in a mandatory evacuation zone. But if you must know: 70 MPH winds, mass power outages, death and destruction, blah blah de blah.

One of the local affiliates actually trotted out a therapist to answer viewer questions. People were all, “I can’t sleep and I’m very anxious. What can I do?” And she said that we should all look into some sleeping pills (“but not so much that you’re sleeping through the tornado warnings”—thanks, Dr. Quinn) and that we need to focus on something during the storm, such as, and I quote, “cleaning closets.” Then the doctor she was sitting with added, “You know, I almost hate to say this, but you may want to try a shot of alcohol too.” So if the mainstream media had its way, I’d spend forty eight hours re-hanging all my stirrup pants while two-fisting Schnapp’s and Unisol. And you know what, I’ve had worse Saturday nights.

Some people are just downright refusing to evacuate or storm shutter or anything, because we have absolutely had it with the ravaging and the landfalling and the outpouring of national concern and all. They've actually whipped up a name for this phenomenon of absolutely not giving a hurri-crap: Hurricane fatigue.

Well, that’s just great. The National Guard pounds on your door all, “Dude, you need to get the hell out, your house is going to be blown to siding particles,” and your answer is? You know what, I’m kind of tired. I’ll see you on the next one.”

I can kind of relate, though. With the first hurricane, I was terrified, and also quite looking forward to it, and had the Millennium Bellemobile all diapered up about a day before the storm hit. Frances-- that bitch took forever, and I could tell by the radar that I’d have some time, so everything was taken care of a few hours by the time the first bands came through. Jeanne? I put off my supposedly-daily workout the entire afternoon before she was due to hit The Swamp, and then I actually stood there on my front porch with my rollerblades in my arms, frowning out at the building horizontal rain: So... no swimming then?

I was therefore forced to the gym. I got my umbrella and my water bottle and snarled down the parking lot to the ellipticycle, where I pounded out a good two hundred calories as the first bands came whipping against the window. Stupid hurricane, interrupting my workout. And two or three other tenants were already in there, calmly cycling away right along with me. By the time I was done I conceded that I might as well protect my property, so I half-assedly trussed up The Bellemobile and went inside, poutedly. The next storm, I’ll probably wait until the eyewall comes through before going, “You know what I should probably do? Close the door.”

Sunday, October 03, 2004


If you love me--if you love me AT ALL--you will go see this picture and then run right back and tell me all about how you'll never be able to feel good about the world ever, ever again.

Hike! at:


Not to give away too much of the big fun, but:

I had to make a cash drop, and it was in one of those big metal rolltop cash drop thingies, and above it was a sign that said "Please do not let handle hit wall," right next to a gigantic divot where everyone had let the handle hit the wall.

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