crime and cranberry sauce

Happy Thanksgiving, all. I was talking to a graduate student the other day who said he likes to call Thanksgiving “Genocide Day.” I replied, “Well, I’m very excited to have my family out here for their first Genocide Day outside of Iowa!”

And, indeed, they did come to Evanston. This was my mother’s first trip to the Chicago area since 1953, when she was 17 and on her honeymoon. As readers of my former blog might remember, my mother’s enjoyment of honeymoon sightseeing was greatly compromised when her father took her aside and said “When you go to Chicago, you look straight ahead. You don’t look at anyone, or you’ll get stabbed.”

When my parents and Sister A arrived on Wednesday, a prim older woman held the elevator for us. We go up, and the doors open. Prim woman gets out and my mom follows. “Mom, this isn’t our floor.” Prim woman turns, and my mom scurries back on to the elevator wailing, “I don’t want to get stabbed!”

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why liberals suck (at being liberals)

I like listening to books-on-tape in the car. This is probably because I’m getting older and can’t stand most of the music played for “kids these days” on the radio. I wouldn’t mind listening to more talk radio if I could find someone who shared my biases. Even that darn NPR is too far to the right for me with its nutty journalistic commitment to “balance.” Please! You can’t “balance” the truth with a bunch of lies.

The last couple of weeks I have been making my way through a recorded version of James Carville and Paul Begala’s book, Take it Back. The idea of the book is to call Democrats on the carpet for (1) being wimps that need a backbone transplant, (2) being too darn complicated in their approach to their message, and (3) just generally being intellectually elitist in their attitudes.

That’s a message that the Dems need to be hear, but I’m having trouble getting through the book because its tone is so insufferable. It’s ironic in a way, because despite their attempts to seem all down-homey (the CD starts with some nice banjo playing), they end up being just as condescending as the wimps they’re attacking. It’s also pretty easy to call other people wimps when you don’t have much to lose. And, despite the fact that the most-used phrase in the book is, “It’s simple,” they end up dealing with an extremely wide array of issues that I can’t even keep track of (we’re talking five full-length CD’s).

In the end, these guys end up proving their own point and demonstrate exactly why liberals can’t make it on the talk radio circuit: They’re boring. There are a lot of ways to be boring including getting into complications and details no one can follow, not giving people a take-home sound bite, and just generally yammering on about things people don’t really care about that much. But these guys’ biggest problem is they can’t write or tell a joke that’s worth a damn.

The “best” one I’ve heard so far: “They [the dems] are, in our view, like the proverbial blind people examining the donkey…Hey! We’re Democrats and we can’t very well use an elephant analogy!”

I think if I ever run for president, a good fraction of my campaign budget is going to be used to hire Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld to write jokes for me.

happy thanksgiving

A lovely hush has come over the blog, and my email inbox, this Thanksgiving holiday, as all you Americans take a break from your internet duties to (hopefully) remember what we are all working so hard for. Though up north our Thanksgiving is a distant memory (mmm…homemade biscuits…), it is nice to realize why the volume has gone down so suddenly.

While you’re still calmly reflecting on all that you have, and before you start the frenzy of preparations for the next big holiday, why don’t you head over to mom’s fabulous blog to get some great ideas for gifts that are more about bringing joy than developing brand loyalty. After all, there are only 33 more crafting days until Christmas.

allergic to conflict

Yesterday my son (B) – who’s eight – and I waited for an hour and twenty minutes to see a doctor. We weren’t in the emergency room or anything, we hadn’t been triaged to the end of the list. We had an appointment, and the doctor was an allergist.

While we spent some time working on his homework and some taking turns with riddles, we didn’t have nearly enough to entertain us as we waited in the exam room. I lent my son the article I was reviewing and he drew all over the blank sides while I caught up on reading. Soon all the reading was done, there were no clean pages left to draw on, and we were still waiting.

I was annoyed. My son was irate.

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another oratorical misadventure

I spoke at Northwestern’s proseminar for first-year graduate students yesterday. You know that family dinner scene in Say Anything where Lloyd Dobbler realizes he’s started off badly and tries to talk his way out of it and comes across worse and then tries to talk his way out of that and comes across worse still? That’s me. If only I had been holding a boombox over my head and it was pouring rain in the seminar room, I would have been Lloyd Dobbler exactly. Seriously, by the end I felt like somebody who was coming across like he had just stepped off the mothership, and I’m not talking the P-Funk Mothership. Continue reading “another oratorical misadventure”