I Have A New Hero

Townblog's latest hero is...

Senator Harry Reid
(D - Nev.)
Reid -- despite being a Mormon from Nevada -- had this to say about our Vice President and his bogus talking points:

“I’m not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody who has a 9 percent approval rating."


Boats and Tanks and Planes, It's Your Game

Joel said...
Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, “I’m in the private sector and for the first time in my life I’m earning money. You know that’s sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that.” Sweet Poppa Moses, this man is an idiot. Why can't he go back being the lovable drunk who ran around with various "nieces" in mini-skirts, while his wife was on holiday at an undisclosed Rehab.

And the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel continues:
"He later made a feeble attempt to explain the inexplicable. "I just want to clarify something because I didn't (by) any means want to infer or imply anything about Jews and finances and things," he said. "What I was referring to, ladies and gentlemen, is the accomplishments of the Jewish religion. You've been outstanding business people, and I compliment you for that.""

As I mentioned in an e-mail to Al, I love the fact that Tommy tried to explain that he wasn't saying anything racist about how Jews love money or anything, he just meant they are really, really good at Business. Personally, this brings to mind the UW-Milwaukee student of English Composition who tried to make the case that there is such a thing as "good racism," because like people totally think Jews are good at money and Asians are smart and stuff. I'll let you guess at the student's ethnicity and gender.

Gotta love the Journal-Sentinel's "(by)," which of course is pronounced in the orignal Thompson-ese as "duhhh."

One also has to consider how -- outside of Wisconsinites -- no one's paying enough attention to Thompson to even notice his blunders.

Confidential Aside To The Month Of April:
I was sort of kidding before, but now I totally mean it. You suck. Go away.


Hasten to May

April hates America (see posts below). I wish I could understand why.

I really wanted to write a post this week about how the coverage of the fund-raising achievements of America's Next Top Democrats is really bristling my britches. The suggestion is that the amount of money raised is equal to their placement in the horse race, which both a falacy and creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if the media presents us with only two viable candidates (because they've raised the most money), we will tend to see only two viable candidates. But I'm not sure if national tragedy shouldn't take precedence over media critiques.

That said, it seems unreasonable to me to suggest that a large and decentralized university like Virginia Tech could warn all its students -- on-campus and commuters alike -- of a shooting in time to have any bearing on what happened one and a half hours later. How would such "information" get out to students, and how would or where would they have received it? Is it reasonable to expect that an 8:00am e-mail would have saved any lives? We may be problem-solvers by nature, but the "problem" here isn't really "How could this have been prevented;" the problem is, "What do we do now, knowing what we know?"

According to articles on the New York Times, one of the two Engineering professors slain was a 75-year old Holocaust survivor who apparently blocked the classroom door, sacrificing himself to the shooter so that his students could hide or escape through windows. I know a lot of young people died, but this one really gets at me. To live through genocide then die from handguns.

I tried to tune in for Olbermann last night and unfortunately saw the start of the Chuck Scarborough show instead. He said, "Some people are already blaming gun laws tonight, while others are pointing at Hollywood." I had to leave the room, and haven't turned on a TV since.

(That last statement is factually correct but occludes the fact that I happily watched part of Sesame Street this morning with two 14-month-old boys who as of yet know nothing about the capacity of humans for evil and duplicity. Or so their father hopes.)
Our former governor is pretending to run for President.


And So On.

The challenge to positive thinking that is the month of April continues unfettered.

My city was snowed upon. In damn near mid-April. Ten days shy of Earth Day, even.

Also, Kurt Vonnegut died. He was 84, and as a lifelong smoker (and coming from a family with a history of suicide, including at least one attempt of his own), he had commented many times how surprised he was that he wasn't dead. But even so, he died from brain injuries due to a fall in his Manhattan apartment, or such is the word. You'd want a guy like Vonnegut to die in his sleep, to "go to bed and never wake up" as we like to envision death in my family.

Vonnegut was fantastic. He was smart, lewd, dark, existential, pessimistic, and morbid. He is just the thing to help a sullen teenage misfit of the Midwest to manage his way through the later teenage years and into higher education. Moreso than Herman Hesse or J.D. Salinger, it was Vonnegut who spoke to me, who first suggested that life sucks so you might as well enjoy the bits that you can and not take anything else too seriously. He drew pictures in some of his books, including one in Breakfast of Champions that explicated female genitalia in a useful way for a less-than-worldly 14 year old boy.

I wonder if Vonnegut will be someone whom people will read in ten, twenty, seventy-five years. I would guess probably not, although that suspiscion is sort of blended with the idea that people won't really read much anymore, anyway. My sense is that Vonnegut's fatalism won't work for readers living past Vonnegut's own existence, and much of his work is tied to our times. Watergate is important, and inflation and "truth" and advertising and happiness, and other stuff that will seem dated post-9/11, post-GWB. If the Watergate scandal caused people to give up the idea that their statesmen were honest and -- as some post-modern theory suggests -- complicate the ideas of truth and accountability, the GWB is completely severing words and public relations from the actual work and intent of power. We have an administration that goes far beyond just refusing to admit that they lied (ala Watergate) -- we have an administration that refuses to recognize that reality does not match the things that they have claimed. Rather than admit or accept that he wares no clothes, the emperor has sworn that he is wearing clothes, rather nice ones in fact, but that we lack the ability/faith/vision to see them. This is a monster that feeds on our uncertainty about truth.

This goes beyond the poor attempts of Sissyphus to keep the rock at the top of the hill, to say to oneself, "such is life." I think we approach the point, culturally, where we are less interested in the rock staying atop the hil than we are in watching it roll back down over us. I think that Vonnegut's pessimism and fatality, shaped by the firebombing of Dresden in WWII, may come to seem sort of naive and sweet. We might come to see that pessimism requires hope, requires caring, and we won't traffic in that stuff anymore.

This is what April does to a man. Also, America.

R.I.P. Kurt Vonnegut, Freethinker.


Springtime Can Kill You

T.S. Eliot wrote that "April is the cruelest month," which is not only all metaphorical and poetical and stuff. It is actual truth, at least for America. Consider the following American events:

Paul Revere's ride, announcing the British Invasion ("The Beatles have landed, the Beatles have landed!") took place on the night of April 18th, 1775, effectively beginning the Revolutionary War.

Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC, was bombarded by General Beauregard -- an act of treason, if you ask me -- on April 12th, 1861, leading to the surrender of the fort to the Confederacy and the start of the U.S. Civil War.

Abraham Lincoln -- one of the best writers to ever occupy the White House -- was assasinated by the traitor and conspirator John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.

J.L. "Casey" Jones was making up time on the Cannonball steam locomotive, charging north of Memphis on April 29th, 1900, when he came across two stalled freighters. Rather than risk derailment, Jones ran his engine into one of the stalled friegthers, killing him but saving his passengers. Whether he was a union scab or high on cocaine depends on which folk record you listen to.

The Great Quate of 1906 shook San Francisco on April 18, 1906, killing an estimated 3,000 people and leaving about 300,000 homeless in a city that was left 80% destroyed.

The Titanic sunk over the night of April 14th and 15th, 1912, killing several rich dudes, Harry Widener, and Leo DiCaprio. (My friend Rob's estimation of the movie "Titanic": "It's every woman's fantasy. She has the best sex of her life with a cute guy, he swears he will always love her, and then he dies.")

On April 14th, 1935, twenty of the worst "Black Blizzards" swept through the American plains on a day known as "Black Sunday" due to the darkness brought on by the swirling dust.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was assasinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968. (Not in "early morning," as U2 would have it, but around 6pm.)

In early April 1974, a "Super Outbreak" spread 148 confirmed tonados across 13 states and Canada.

The L.A. riots broke out following the verdict in the Rodney King case on April 29, 1992. Of the more than 50 people killed over the next six days, about half were African-American.

The FBI/ATF siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, TX, ended in fire on April 19, 1993: 79 dead, including 21 children.

Marking the anniversary of the Waco Siege, Timothy McVeigh car-bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, OK, on April 19th, 1995. The blast and collapse killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured 800 more.

On April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 Columbine High School students and one teacher before turning their guns on themselves in the U.S.'s most notorious school shooting.


Eleven Short Months Later...

Huzzah -- we have a court date for a finalized adoption! It's late in May, but there are no stones in the passway nor hellhounds at our tail (to quote Robert Johnson by way of T.C. Boyle), so we are a happy family.

Sadly, the toothpaste is "bubblegum" flavored, so they are junkies now. Look at their wired little eyes. They won't let go of the toothbrushes -- go ahead and try to take them -- and they get real moody when they don't have the paste. Now it's taking more and more toothpaste to get their teeth clean, and it seems like their teeth will never be as clean as they were that first time they brushed.

Kirsten and I were able to slip out last night to have dinner at Milwaukee's one and only Ethiopian restaurant, which I'd been eager to do for some time. It was a decent dinner, although it didn't totally live up to my memories of Eithiopian dinners in Boston. (See toothpaste analogy above.)

Ruminations on recent tests of the liver and Keith Richards at Qpunga. Also, look for a link to "A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead."


Mamet for Toddlers

My favorite thing in the world to watch: Sam steers, Caleb pushes.

They will sleep anywhere so long as it is daylight and they aren't in their cribs.

This is the picture I need to see when it's 3 am and only the adults want to sleep.

Hopefully, soon, video. I have to buy a Firewire cord, as well as the shooting scripts for "Glengary Glen Ross." Current casting plans have Caleb as Ricky Roma and Sam in Jack Lemon's role as Shelly " The Machine" Levene. I'll handle the Baldwin role.

Third prize is you're fired.