Sunday, August 31, 2008

Odd Religious Views

Michael Moore says that Hurricane "Gustav is proof that there is a God in Heaven." (Clip here... scroll down just a bit.)

Why? Because it will create political problems for the Republicans.

A little while later in the interview, Moore says he hopes everyone will be okay. But, Mike, it's a hurricane. Someone always seems to die in those. You're a smart guy. You must know that.

It makes me mighty suspicious
that Moore is somewhat malicious.

UPDATE: A former head of the DNC has apologized for a similar remark.

He didn't say it was proof of God's existence. Just proof that God was on the Democrats' side.

I'd say they believe in an odd
sort of God
who is willing to smash a solid-Dem town
just to bring the Republicans down.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


We were at the Imax theater, waiting to see the Dark Knight... and the screen went dark.

A voice came on the sound system: "The projectionist is having issues..."

Half an hour later, the issues must have been resolved, because the movie started up.

I'll tell you who has issues -
it's the Joker.

He made the other bad guys
seem strictly mediocre.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Torn Between Agendas

Seems like the media remains lined up for Obama, but now they're circling Palin excitedly - like moths around a candle. She's better looking than Obama... and she's new! Obama is already so yesterday in the world of instant news.

She seems, after 15 minutes of research, to be authentically conservative. Which isn't a good thing exactly in my mind. But when the battle rages between liberals and conservatives, gridlock starts looking desirable to me. Both sides want to control parts of our lives that don't need outside control.

The silent shock
of gridlock -
the freezing of the gears -
can be music to my ears.

1961 vs. 1964

(Those are the birth years of Obama and McCain's surprise VP pick.)

I think it was rather bold
to make Obama look old.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August 28

The bugs buzz
their crescendo,
and bunnies bounce
as those who count
the days announce
that summer must
wrap things up
real soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

American Prayer

Reuters reports that Obama will deliver his acceptance speech from the stage of a plywood Greek Temple.

First he had his own pre-presidential seal. Now this. The whisper is that he's arrogant. Why play into it?

Maybe it's not really meant to represent a temple. Maybe it's a plywood knock-off of the White House portico. All I know is what I read online.

Of course, there's an apparently serious video about people praying for his victory, so maybe it really is a temple.

But, if it's a Greek Temple, what god or goddess is it dedicated to?

I believe he intends to beseech
Hermes, the god of eloquent speech.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Can't Let Folks Bet On Net

The Republican platform, at the moment, supports the ban on Internet gambling.

I'm not a gambling man,
but support for a gambling ban,
is the kind of thing that gets me
upset with the GOP.

I'm Missing Something

I've decided to widen
my study of what virtues hide in
Senator Biden.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Take 2 Aspirins and a Triathlon in the Morning

Stuart Hayes was in the ER on Saturday, with a swollen and painful knee.

But Sunday morning his knee felt good, so he did the Chicago Triathlon, and won it, along with a prize of 10 thousand dollars.

The doctor had advised 2 weeks of rest.
But he knew how to put that knee to the test.

Gutsy move. I would have followed the doctor's suggestion.

I saw him. The pros were starting out on their run at about the time I was coming back on mine. He whizzed by, with a very smooth gait, looking like a man on top of the world.

I think he saw that prize
floating before his eyes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Beauty Contest Like None Other

An Italian priest has announced plans for a beauty pageant of nuns. But without a swimsuit competition.

If each wears her habit and veil,
the contest will sadly fail.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Phelps Critiqued by Fashion Editor

The cover of Sports Illustrated features Michael Phelps decked out in all the gold medals he won this year. The fashion editor of the Washington Post doesn't like the photo much.
He has the lean physique of elite swimmers. But it is not the kind of pumped up, six-pack Hollywood torso typically found on the cover of Men's Fitness and that has come to define today's sexy man. Aesthetically, it's a 1970s torso, not a 2008 one.
Ann Althouse responds:
As long as we're developing our understanding, why don't we look at those Men's Fitness models and rethink whether they represent power? Their muscles come not from doing something admirable and powerful, but from doing what they've figured out will make them look like that. Shouldn't function underlie power?
I've always thought "fitness" was used oddly. I have people tell me I must be fit when they hear about some race I ran. Right - I'm fit for doing that particular thing. But there are other things I wouldn't be fit for - like a rope climbing contest. Doesn't "fit" mean "fit for something specific?" Isn't "survival of the fittest" about fitness within a particular niche?

As for the guys on Men's Fitness magazine, I guess they have high fitness within the Attractiveness Niche.

It's one thing to be highly active,
another to be attractive.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Unconscious Racism

I recently had a conversation with a young woman who is having trouble because one of her psychology teachers wants her to admit that she's racist. She doesn't think she is. Her adviser suggested she plead institutional racism, the kind white people supposedly can't help. But this seems wrong to her.

I suggested she plead "unconscious racism," and explain that she must have it, since she's been told she does, but that she remains completely unconscious of it.

She laughed.

Her teacher had subtly abused her.
At least my suggestion amused her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cache Value

Embarrassing if true:
A security researcher has unearthed evidence via Google and its Chinese counterpart that supports claims that several Chinese gymnasts are younger than they should be for competing.
You can doctor all your documents,
and wipe your websites clean.

But all the mascara in China
won't make them look 16.

And here's bad news - the Google Cache
resides on foreign machines.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dept. of Oddly Appropriate Names

Usain Bolt, from Jamaica, took gold and set world sprinting records in both the 100 and 200 meter run.

Of course they're calling him Lightning Bolt.

It's one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" things. If you put him in a serious book, people would say his name was too corny.

Reality isn't bound
by the rule that names shouldn't sound
like an overly cute
pun on a stand-out attribute.

Trend Or Blip?

I see that the Zogby poll has Obama behind McCain for the first time.

Well, Obama did warn us: "The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations."

That's good. As Clint Eastwood said in some movie, a man has got to know his limitations.

The other good news is, he's young!

So even if this time he somehow encounters rejection,
he'll still have a chance again at a later election.

If McCain blows this game,
you can't say the same.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zesty Discussion of Zorba

Our book club was on
Zorba the Greek.

The portrait's well drawn,
but the story is bleak.


Hephaistos was the Greek god of technology, a god the others laughed at because his body was misshapen. But their weapons came from his workshop. I imagine he wasn't completely satisfied with this arrangement. I wonder if he dreamed of turning the tables...

He had a limp
and so they laughed,
these gods,
so perfect,
so they thought.

But most of their magic
came from his craft.

Zeus's thunder,
Apollo's shafts,
Hermes' shoes with wings,
these wondrous things
made under his supervision
for their use.

He even knew a way to weave a net
so strong that War himself was firmly caught.

His reward? Derision.

Someday perhaps
he'll have enough of jeers.

He'll clear out the lot,
flinging away
these empty gods,
these clanging pots,

and enshrine instead
what fills his head,
the power
of clever design.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Where Buffalo Roam

Buffalo were wandering Interstate 55 this morning in Illinois. Video here.

Okay, that's American Bison to you classification sticklers.

Whatever they're properly named,
I brake for them, all the same.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another Hundredth Of A Second

These swimming matches are ridiculously close.

Congratulations to someone who lost by 1/100 of a second, Dara Torres, who took silver in the 50 meter women's freestyle.

She's 41, and she's the second fastest female swimmer in the world.

In the 50 meter,
only one could beat her.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One Hundredth Of A Second

Congratulations to Michael Phelps who somehow won his 7th gold by beating out the other guy by .01 second.

It's a good thing there's an electronic timing system, because that's too close for human beings to see the difference, especially with all that water splashing around in the butterfly stroke.

By the way, isn't "fly" a crazy stroke? But maybe it's the prettiest to watch.

When Phelps takes off untrammeled,
he's quite the aquatic mammal.

Friday, August 15, 2008

That Oddly Named Type Of Jewelry

We use the stem "rings",
but let us be clear
they can be other things
that cling to the ear,
studs simply piercing,
or bangles that dangle,
but let us not wrangle
over the term,
let's just affirm
they're devised
to entangle
the eyes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Warplanes Over Chicago

Fighter jets were buzzing around downtown today. Fortunately they were ours. Just practicing.

They were F-18 Hornets, being flown by members of the Navy's high-risk entertainment unit: The Blue Angels.

We don't get warplanes much anymore. When I was a kid we had a naval air station at Glenview, IL, but that's been gone a long time.

But once a year - this Saturday and Sunday - we have the Air and Water Show, which packs in a couple of million spectators on the lakefront to ooh and ah over the fancy hardware and precision flying.

What if Poe had been there with me?

Once in a Midwestern City, while I pondered "my how pretty,"
at the lovely lakefront area, where I'd seen no planes before,
suddenly there came a roaring, as if gods had turned to warring,
something like a dragon soaring, soaring there above the shore.
"'Tis Blue Angels," then I muttered, "soaring there above the shore -
Only them, and nothing more."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Getting Frosted About Tracking Devices

I started thinking about how Robert Frost would have dealt with the story about police sticking GPS trackers on people's vehicles - without warrants!

Who could have put this GPS
upon my sleigh? The cops, I guess.
This small device will let them know
my whereabouts with great success.

They'll learn exactly where I go -
to watch the woods fill up with snow -
I don't think that will help them much
with their investigations though.

They think they have me in a clutch,
still I can play at tricks and such,
and let them think they have me cold,
while I, in fact, am out of touch.

My little horse is weak and old
but he'll head home when he is told,
while I go hiking uncontrolled,
while I go hiking uncontrolled.

Mad Cow Madness

The U.S. now bans the importation of sperm from Europe. This is to stop the spread of Mad Cow disease. Even though Mad Cow has never been known to be travel by that route.

This has created trouble for some women. It seems that imports from Scandinavia were very popular here.
"I think it's outrageous," said Laura, a Los Angeles lawyer who asked that her last name be withheld to protect her privacy. She decided against paying a New York woman more than $2,000 for a few vials from a donor she nicknamed "Sven," whom she used a few years ago to conceive a son. A vial usually costs less than $500. "I'd love to give him a full sibling. But I just couldn't do it. It's so unfortunate."
For some reason, I started wondering how Emily Dickinson would have tackled her plight.

She sought for Sven, fecund and blond,
Whose Babe she'd borne before.
She found their Child wondrous,
And wanted just one more.

But fear of bovine Pestilence
Stampeded through the land,
And vials of Viking DNA
Were soon - by Panic - banned.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Right To Be Tracked

Well, this is interesting. The police are attaching GPS tracking devices to people's vehicles. Without warrants. And many judges are okay with it.

If I find one, do I have a right to attach it to a taxi?

I might say yes
to a cop GPS
if it also makes clear
which way I should steer.

Saving Face

Fakery at the Olympics so far:

1) the cute little girl who sang so well was lip-synching

2) the fireworks finale was CGI

Other than that, everything's on the square.

When your ruse is shattered
and logged for all to see,
it's egg that has been splattered
on your physiognomy.

UPDATE: NBC says they alerted viewers to the CGI fireworks. But if you read the transcript that they are presenting in their own defense, it's very far from clear. Costas calls it "almost animation." I'm not sure what the "almost" is doing there except misleading viewers.

HALF-EXPECTED UPDATE: Perhaps when the little girl was singing, Costas said "It's amazing to see such a combination of singing and cuteness. It's almost too perfect to be true."

Monday, August 11, 2008

From the Strange Headlines Department

Victim shot before charred body found in car trunk

It's good to know he wasn't shot AFTER being found charred in the trunk. That would have been EXTRA disturbing.

Probably someone killed the victim, then burned the body to disguise the victim's identity.

Hopefully dental records will come through,
as they so often do.

Long Wait

This 104 year old guy wants to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs play-off game this year. He's one of the few fans in town who were alive the last time the Cubs won a world series.

The true Cubs fan knows all too well
the facts in this recital:
One hundred years ago they won
their last world series title.

The local lore would have it that
a certain goat's to blame -
a goat who on that fateful day
was banished from the game.

And ever since, the legend goes,
our dear Chicago Cubs
are fated to spoil every year
with sad late season flubs.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

And Watch Out On Canadian Buses

News items:

1) American tourist stabbed to death in China.
2) American tourist hacked to death in Guatemala.

I believe that both countries have gun control.

aren't the cause of all harms.

But the Sound of the Pounding Waves Was Nice

We went to the beach, but the wind was ferocious,
whipping the sand into something atrocious
that sneaked in your mouth and your nose and your eyes.

We wanted to swim but the waves were too high.
If you tried, the life guard blew his whistle
and shot you a look like a patriot missile.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bernie Mac

Bernie Mac has died. Here in Chicago. At 50.

He had been in the hospital for pneumonia.

It makes me sad. He still had a lot of funny in him. He was an acute observer, he wasn't afraid to say what he saw, and he made me laugh.

You're done with your journey,
and won't be back.
I'm going to miss you,
Bernie Mac.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Edwards Comes Clean

"In the course of several campaigns, I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic."

That's from a statement John Edwards issued today. He has decided that "being 99% honest is no longer enough."

It's got to be tough, getting caught visiting a former girlfriend's hotel room in the middle of the night by the National Enquirer.

Think how humiliating it must have been for this former presidential contender to escape reporters by holing up in a hotel toilet!

Your steps are soft - departing from
a lady not your wife.

A camera flashes in your eye
like lightning's jagged knife.

You duck into the toilet, but
what's flushing is your life.

Power to the People

A nuclear plant in a box?
One I can put in my yard?

But if I don't want to stand guard,
maybe I'll need better locks.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Athena's Girlhood

In the usual version of Greek mythology, Athena springs to life full grown from her father's forehead, a goddess of war and wisdom.

You know that was a later story designed to cover something up: namely that her mother was neglectful and her father barely noticed her when she was small.

She always had to fight for what she wanted,
since no one cared to fight on her behalf.
Against the odds, she'd battle on undaunted.
When all seemed hopeless, she would simply laugh,
then look for some new way to win the day.

She found it hard to grasp, when she was grown,
that others loved her for herself alone,
not merely for the fighter she'd become,
not just for the abilities she'd honed,
but for the little girl that she had been,
for all that charmed and sparkled deep within,
merged with her courage into one great sum.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

That Quote

While it's on my mind, about that guilty alderman saying "most politicians are hos"...

I guess she was trying to excuse herself by saying "most of us are crooks". Which is unfair to other politicians.

Also, as far as that goes,
she's rather unfair to hos.

Prostitutes may be unsightly on your street corner, but they will not shake you down for money when you want to build an apartment complex nearby.

More businesspeople should say:
"Get the hell out of my way."

Project Approval For Sale

Arenda Troutman, until recently a Chicago alderman, pleaded guilty today in federal court.

Basically, she was taking money from real estate developers. Then she would get their projects approved.

Then the FBI ran a sting operation, recording the following Troutman notable quotable:

"Most aldermen, most politicians are hos."

Poor Arenda,
a first time offender,
but now they will send her

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Time Uncovering Truth

The prime minister of Italy, sick of being photographed with a painting displaying a nipple, had the nipple painted over.

Basically, this is a repeat of what John Ashcroft had done with some statues. But he just had some curtains put over the metal breasts. He didn't permanently alter anything.

So don't tell me any more about how puritan the U.S. is compared to Europe. It's just that our Euro friends have their own set of hang-ups.

It's hard to find a society
that's not obsessed with propriety.

It may not be clear at first,
but it's true, for better or worse.

St. Regis U.

The Feds busted a phony diploma mill a while back - St. Regis University. Government officials in Liberia had been bribed to grant accreditation.

Now the Washington Post has obtained a list of about 9600 names of people who either made inquiries or who actually bought degrees.

This is leading to ongoing embarrassment of people who used these diplomas to get ahead. They can be in legal trouble, too.

I got my degree from St. Regis.
Doesn't that sound prestigious?
And here's the best thing, buddy:
I didn't have to study!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weather Flash

Driving from Michigan to Illinois tonight, we encountered tremendous lightning storms.

After a white knuckle drive,
you're glad to arrive alive.

At one point we pulled up to a semi that had spun out or something, and was blocking all the northbound lanes on I-94. I was able to escape by exiting the wrong way down a ramp. Otherwise it would have been a long wait for someone to move that big truck.

Of course we called to give word
to 911... but they'd already heard.

Washed Up

Another human foot has washed ashore in the Pacific Northwest, bringing the total to six.

Apparently the feet were not chopped off. They were "naturally disarticulated."

No matter how natural that may be,
I like my feet attached to me
not floating separate in the sea.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Medea at Dream Theatre

We went to see Medea last night. Not the famous Greek tragedy by Euripides. The new version of Medea by Jeremy Menekseoglu.

In both versions we encounter a terrifying but psychologically penetrating tale of a woman betrayed and the mad revenge she takes on her husband and her children.

Menekseoglu retains many of the classical features, but uses them to startlingly modern effect. I kept staring in fascination at the way he used "the chorus of sadistic girls" who speak at times in rhyme and who haunt Medea's troubled mind like an echo chamber of her most disturbed thoughts. Anna Weiler, the "chorus girl with broken doll", was particularly troubling when she spilled red yarn from her doll's head.

As usual with Dream Theatre, all the performances were exquisite. Menekseoglu's plays always give the actors plenty of meat to work with, and his direction always brings out the actors' ability to explore a range of strong conflicting feelings. They really come alive onstage.

Medea herself is the centerpiece of the story, vividly portrayed as a simmering pot of anger and love by Rachel Martindale. Medea realizes that if a chorus has arrived it can only mean one thing - a tragedy is coming her way. She tries to shoo them away, angrily, repeatedly. She doesn't want to be a character in a tragedy. But in the end she succumbs to the way they reinforce her worst fantasies of revenge. Often I felt like I was listening to the voices in her head.

One distinctive modern aspect of the play is the concern for the children of Medea. The twin boys find themselves blamed for their parents' nasty break-up, and feel almost forgotten as their mother and father vent their rage. In this respect, you had the sense you were present to witness the inner workings of a very contemporary, and very dysfunctional, divorce, where the children are the innocent victims.

This performance marked Dream Theatre's arrival at an actual home. Up till now their work has been performed at theater spaces belonging to other people. But now they have bought their own space - a nice big space in the up-and-coming Pilsen theater and art-gallery area.

I've been following Jeremy Menekseoglu's Dream Theatre for years, and he has really made a name for himself and his theater here in Chicago. Nowadays he even gets favorable reviews! The company has earned those reviews by tremendous creativity, hard work, and sheer talent.

Anguished Medea, the voices in your head,
leave those around you wounded, tortured, dead.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cuba Libre

We were hanging out this morning at the 63rd Street Beach, waiting for the race to start, and another competitor asks me if I've been to Cancun.

He figures I've been there because I'm wearing a wetsuit that says "Quintana Roo" on it. That's just a brand name. But I have been to Cancun, and I tell him so.

He volunteers that he has gone through there often, but has never really stayed in Cancun. He just flies to there to catch a boat to Cuba. Many times.

And it made me think. I've never visited an oppressed Communist country. And there aren't many left. Even the Castro regime may have to give up its grip on that poor island.

So if you really want to see,
what we used to call a Red State,
act quickly before they're set free,
book now before it's too late!

Anthrax Case Cracked

So they think they've got the right evil scientist in the anthrax case this time. Except before they could arrest him, he killed himself. With a drug overdose. No death-by-anthrax lung agony for him!

But what was his motive? Some think he was running an open-air experiment. He had felt constrained by limitations on his research:
Ivins conducted numerous anthrax studies, including one that complained about the limited supply of monkeys available for testing. The study also said animal testing couldn't accurately show how humans would respond to anthrax treatment.
Why were the investigators aimed
at the wrong guy all that time?

Maybe the real guy framed
him with evidence from the crime.