Friday, October 31, 2008

Carnivores and English People

In the early aughties I found myself in beautiful, historic York for a work trip.  The number of per capita drinking establishments in York makes Chicago look like Carrie Nation's wet dream. It's awesome.  Every night after work, I'd hit the pubs with my British colleagues.  The first night, someone made a joke about Americans having a world series with only one country in it.  Uproarious laughter among the Brits.  I responded (amusing no one but myself) that, to be fair, sometimes there are two countries in the World Series.  

The next night someone made the same joke.  And the next.  And the next.  And each time, the Brit making the joke was sure he was the first one to goof on an American with it. The more it was repeated, the less of its already limited punch it had.

"Look, English people," I thought, "I'm neither embarrassed or humiliated on behalf of my country (well, for the World Series thing anyway).  But your eager recitals of the same joke are kind of adorable."

Which brings me to the carnivore thing:  Over the past 10 years of my vegetarianism, I've been greeted with the "you probably need protein" joke a million times.  Usually it comes in some variation of "you don't like meat because you need protein." And hilarity ensues. It's like the World Series joke, with legumes standing in for Canada (probably not for the first time). The jokester amuses like-minded people without having any particular effect on the person he aims to disparage.  Which is fine, it's just not particularly clever. 

I thought carnivores and English people should know.  You're welcome.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Voting Day

Since we got Laney, and even before, DonBon and I have made voting an event. Don, who will have worked late the night before, will get up with me and Laney. Around 7:00ish we'll walk over to the polling place and vote. Afterwards, Don drives Laney to school and me to work and we eat donuts in the car on the way.

Don and I are no spring chickens, but I think we both still get geeked up for voting. It's always surprised me that there are people for whom voting is an obligation. Nothing makes me love my country more, feel more patriotic, then going into a voting booth and casting my vote. Plus: donuts!

My Laney is going to feel good about voting. We're making it something fun.

All that said, I wish we'd done more. We didn't phone bank or knock on doors (go, Janine!). I never even got around to sending my damn postcards. I gave money, and worked to encourage people I know who were on the fence. But I should have done more. If McCain pulls this out I'll feel enormous responsibility.

And Rachel Maddow is on my TV, showing how it's done - showing how you can still hold the feet of the candidate you support to the fire (with Barack showing how you politic with your feet to the fire). And she thinks this thing is far from wrapped up. She's brilliant. God, I hope she's wrong on this one, though.

Freaking Out

I am freaking out. Last night I went to see Amadeus at Chicago Shakespeare. Excellent production. It finally occurred to me that the word "Amadeus" has something to do with love and God, so that only took 25 years or so. Then I went home, had some pizza with the husband and poured myself a Maker's Mark. Don proceeded to expound on his theory on how McCain could steal the election. In the background, I hear Rachel Maddow say something about how she thinks McCain has a good chance. Thus begins the Freaking. The. Fuck. Out.

I got into bed and watched Pushing Daisies, which is all whimsical and pretty. But it ended and I was still all twitterpated and nervous. I began doing breathing exercises and mentally repeating the mantra "Barack Obama is smarter than you. Barack Obama is smarter than Don (sorry, honey). Barack Obama is smarter than Rachel Maddow (I think)." Finally, I drifted off into a fitful sleep.

I'd love to do a media blackout until Tuesday. I'd love to turn my attention to books and puzzles and long baths. But I know myself and am sure to be found, of an evening, standing in my kitchen watching MSNBC. Freaking. Out.
Why can't it be Tuesday today?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This sketch used to really remind me a lot of George Bush. Now Sarah Palin makes me think of it. Sarah Bush. George Palin. It's very confusing...

Worse than that dream where you're naked in class

Sorry guys:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Rachel Maddow

Air America Radio was launched in 2004. I was on board from the get go. I tuned into Al Franken every day at lunch time and left it going through the next show, the Randi Rhodes show. At first I liked her, and then I got annoyed. Despite my own propensity in that direction, yelling over people is annoying.

Then I started tuning in earlier and listening to the show with Chuck D, Lizz Winstead and this woman I'd never heard of named Rachel Maddow. Here was a pundit who was passionate without being strident. She relied on one weapon: knowing more than the other guy.

And here she is now, kicking ass and taking names. This is (good lord willing and the creek don't rise) a good time to be a democrat. And I think the emergence of Rachel Maddow has something to do with that. You can't win the wingnut game, so don't play it. Make it a new game where the winning gambit is to be informed. Thus you always face the wingnut. Like this:

Saturday, October 25, 2008


For a whole host of reason, I've been finding myself feeling really sad that it looks like none of the people who raised Barack Obama will be around to see him win this thing (I just did a jinx dance). Five years after my own father died, my daughter will do something and I find myself feeling cheated that her grandfather never got to know her... didn't get to see her like she was this morning reading four-digit numbers aloud (she's got a great teacher). I feel cheated knowing how proud he'd be of me when he saw this amazing kid we're raising.

This is the saddest fact of life, I think, that it goes on without us. Also the most joyful. This is what faith means to me: that even without our presence, life goes on. And, as my personal hero would say: the effects of our lives are incalculably diffusive.

And I read this beautiful blogpost by a blogger I like a lot named Ta-Neishi Coates. It was more relevant to what I was thinking before I started writing. But I think you'd like it... whoever you are.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Cars (an 80s epiphany)

I liked the Cars back in the flush of youth. The old MTV days... the Nina Blackwood days. But I filed them away, categorized like (sigh) Rubik's Cubes and (I hate myself for this) painters pants and (I can't believe I'm willingly reducing the decade I lost my virginity in to exhausted pop culture cliches) shoulder pads.

But this morning, I was driving to work childlessly (always a treat) when they came on the radio and in a moment of sheer Stephen Dedalus style epiphany it hit me: Hey! They were really good.

So, that only took 25 years.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Remember When

I can remember exactly where I was when Barack Obama announced his candidacy. I was at the gym. I was watching while I was on the treadmill and feeling sort of overwhelmed and teary (which is a pretty common state for me). It was a Saturday (or Sunday?), so I didn't have to get Laney from the childcare center and could just take off. I remember hopping off the treadmill, putting my coat on and then stopping under the TV on my way out and thinking, "maybe this long, cold winter is really about to end."*

I don't remember many moments that clearly. I can remember with aching clarity the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and the August, 2003 call that my father was dead. But this is more like the humbling, awesome clarity of memory I have of getting the call that we'd gotten the referral for Laney. I was so used to things not being right, and then suddenly feeling like maybe there was a chance that things might turn out after all.

This election goes so far beyond the political junkie stuff. I feel, like so many have said, like the American soul is at stake, which may be grandiloquent. I may look back at this blogpost a year from now and think, "Oh, Meg... you have GOT to lighten up." But, I don't think so. After all, that freezing cold February was almost two years ago, and I still find myself thinking that the long, cold winter may be about to end**.

* I was embarrassed by the obviousness and triteness of this metaphor
** Almost two years later, I remain resolutely embarrassed by the obviousness and triteness of this metaphor

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bullshit 80s Nostalgia

Yesterday, I had Hall & Oates on the brain. Who knows why? But it got me thinking about the 80s nostalgia. So much in the 80s was corny (lots of corny things are, of course, cool things + time). But H&O were skillfully corny - there were some good pop songs going on behind the giant hair.

On the other hand, there's Huey Lewis. Huey Lewis is the epitome of 80s nostalgia simply for the sake of 80s nostalgia. He was never any good. His songs were boring and stupid. And yet, he will NOT GO AWAY (Huey Lewis is making me ALL CAPS). Last night, post debate, I watched Chuck on the DVR. It was just lousy with Huey Lewis.

Here in these aughties, this time, this present, there is no reason to exhume the stinking corpse of Huey Lewis and the News. I was there the first time and, as God is my witness, I will NOT go back. What's fucking next? Starship?

I was going to go with a little H&O to wash the festering taste of Huey Lewis out of my mouth. But I think more drastic measures are required:

Burying the Abortion Lede

As utterly gobsmacked as I was by John McCain's "don't give me that 'woman's health' crap" moment (finger quotes, really?), I thought this quote was far more telling:

Let me talk to you about an important aspect of this issue. We have to change the culture of America. Those of us who are proudly pro-life understand that. And it's got to be courage and compassion that we show to a young woman who's facing this terribly difficult decision

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but if America were "proudly pro-life" (and I intend my actual quotes to indicate as much derision as McCain's finger quotes), then: what decision?

This is the profound hypocrisy of the pro-life movement: they praise the choice of, say, Bristol Palin, at the same time they insist that choice should be taken away. The depths they'll plumb...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Bradley Effect

There will be no Bradley Effect present in the general election, just as there was no Bradley Effect present in the primaries (don't start on that whole New Hampshire thing - Obama's real numbers were less than 1% off his poll numbers).

This isn't because we've moved beyond race (although I think the kids are getting close). There are a fuckload of racists left around.

This is because any redneck racist asshole with six or seven more brain cells rattling around than this guy doesn't talk about Obama "the black guy." He talks about the "insufficiently American" guy. Traditional media, with breath-taking condescension, have enabled an entirely illegitimate concern about Obama's "American-ness" to serve as a beard for racism.

Which is actually good news: it means that Obama's 52% is a real 52%.

I am optimistic. I am cautiously optimistic (which is the nature of the Cubs fan). But barring something really crazy, I'm seeing an Obama landslide.

The Greatest Music Video Ever

I am an unashamed fan of Hall and Oates. Sure, there were some stinkers in there (Private Eyes, Maneater). But I challenge you to NOT turn up the radio and sing when Sara Smiles or Rich Girl comes on the radio. Darryl Hall, bless him, had him some white boy soul.

I love the song She's Gone. Love it. But the video? The video is quite simply the greatest music video ever. A Ha can take on my ASS!! Kanye start complaining now because nothing you do will ever be this great.

I'm not sure what I love the most - is it Darryl Hall's shoes? Is it the devil who reminds me of nothing more than Jon Lovitz? Is it the jacket John Oates puts on prior to the guitar solo? Or is it the happy confluence of all these bizarre elements? I don't know. Just... I just love it. Behold:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Regarding ACORN: Barack Obama is not going to exhume the bodies of dead Chicagoans and hustle them off to Virginia to vote. Not early, not often. Of course, no one in the GOP really thinks that. The point is to raise some hue and cry about spurious registration of minority voters while blaming the subprime crisis on greedy, spendthrift minority home owners. And then toss that toxic mess into a Sarah Palin rally.

Nor Gretchen Wilson nor Jeff Foxworthy know what a fucking redneck is. Rednecks are resentful, bitter and stupid; racist rage wrapped up in a flag. And that's who the GOP courts.

The Evillest Toy

Last spring, an ungodly corporate merger took place as McDonald's partnered with American Idol for happy meals.It seemed every time we got Laney a Happy Meal (which was, to be fair, far more than we should have) she got the same toy: Punky Pete. Push down his mohawk and he expels some sort of vomitous punk-inspired noise. It remains the single most obnoxious toy to ever enter our house, and, THAT is saying something. I spirited away Punky Pete after Punky Pete; always surreptitiously (Laney loved her some Punky Pete). I put Punky Pete in the recycling bi, in the composter, in the garbage. One I gave to my friend, Claire, who put it on her desk and enabled it when annoyed by a customer.

We've lived blissfully free of Punky Pete for some months now. Until Sunday...

Laney and I were hanging out in the yard; me reading my book, Laney doing what Laney does. When suddenly she approached me with:

The fucking thing was liberated somehow (I suspect of his own volition) from our composter. This video does not display the true depths of the obnoxiousness of Punky Pete. Consider yourselves lucky

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blair Underwood

I'm watching a TiVO-ed episode of Dirty Sexy Money (which is just a bucketful of fun) and am wondering: if you're a TV producer do you have Blair Underwood on speed-dial for the black guy who hooks up with the white actress?

It just seems like every time I see him on TV he's the love interest for a white woman (Sex and the City, Old Christine, Dirty Sexy Money...)

This blogpost feels a little distasteful. But I do think it's a serious question. The problem is probably that there just aren't enough hot black women on the TV. I'd probably notice Blair Underwood as the go-to black actor if there were, you know, one or two go-to black actresses.

I know there are a few people I know who read this blog... I hope someone comments on this, because I'm really curious if it's just me.

Desperate Days

I once bought into that ideology that privileged "independence" over party affiliation. As proof of this independence I spoke against hate crime legislation: charge for the crime, I said, not the motivation. And then I read a column by, I believe, Leonard Pitts, who explained that a hate crime is something perpetuated against an entire community, with the primary goal of striking fear into that group. "Oh," I said, "that makes sense."

9/11 changed everything, we're told. But how often do we hear about the effect of 9/11 on Muslims in America? So, when I hear of this, and think of the desperate, scurrilous behavior of the McCain/Palin campaign now, I get scared for my country. And ashamed.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

In The Ayers...

You know, there comes a point where I just don't get the modern American wingnut (well, lots of points). Obama served on some committees with this guy. He's publicly and vociferously denounced the Weathermen. And yet, we're supposed to believe that because Obama's been to his house he'll, what? throw a bomb out from behind the podium on Inauguration Day?

And don't even get me started about Jeremiah Wright. I sat in a pew at various Catholic Churches for 20 years and and have managed to avoid a life of celibacy or a passionate faith in transubstantiation.

Wingnuts are weird.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sarah Silverman

Oy, this is a funny woman.

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

I would try to convince my grandparents to vote for Obama, but the one I got left is.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Death Post (wherein the topic is too big for 100 words... and if I make the rules, I can break 'em)

When I was a tween, I found myself alone at the dinner table with Dad. I think Mom and Nolan had been squabbling. So, post-eating, pre-diving into whatever negotiations were required between mother and son, Dad engaged me in a duet. The Blue Danube. I did the Oom-pah-pah parts and he did the melody. In falsetto. I couldn't go more than a few seconds without breaking up, just tickled beyond oom-pah-pah ability. I think this is my favorite memory of my Dad for a lot of reasons, but maybe most of all because it was just the two of us. I remember where he was sitting and where I was sitting and the dwindling candles (we always had candles) and the palpable sensation of diminishing tension and real engaged enjoyment, alone with my father. And, also, just cracking up.

Laney's not a tween yet, but I taught her the duet. She loves it. On the long car ride to school or when walking Ginger, she starts in with her little voice "Oom-pah-pah" and every time I join in. In falsetto. And then we both break up.

Y'all who know me, know that I'm not sentimental about death. I have no visions of Dad looking down from above and smiling. He's dead now. But he was alive. And I loved him a whole lot. And part of him stays alive in me when I get to take the melody while my own daughter keeps the rhythm.

This is getting a little schmaltzy now, so I think I'll stop. But I'll finish with this: when Dad first died, I was inconsolable, in its purest sense. The knowledge that I'd feel him, or at least some powerful echo of him, five years after he died wouldn't have done a thing to make me feel better about him dying. But, now, I feel a big lump in my throat writing about this. But I also feel good. I got to have my father, and if you knew him, you'd know what a gift that was. And I think that there's enough of him in me left to pass onto my own daughter. And, really, I can feel it in her oom-pah-pahs and my own falsetto.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

I meant to post more...

I really did. I intended a witty, salient posts for every day. But, there's just a lot of good TV on.

I've decided I probably have a little Buffy in me and heal pretty quickly, because I feel OK now. I avoid lifting heavy things (like Laney and World Series expectations) and do lie around a lot. But I'm heading back to work tomorrow, against doctor's wishes. Because, if I've learned ANYTHING from this experience, doctors are guessing more than anything else.