Whining their way to victory

Disclaimer:  I wrote this Monday morning so as you read, pretend it is Monday afternoon or whenever you usually have a few moments in your hectic day to read the brain droppings of someone who isn’t the most linear thinker, but earnestly tries to make the most of that. Enjoy and feel free to respond.
I didn’t see last night’s Oscar Awards, but from what I gather, it was the ceremonial version of a Freudian Slip.
Besides, there is one thing I cant really understand about the Oscars. How can a night that celebrates the year’s many cinematic achievements, including edge of your seat action thrillers, be so tedious? Actually maybe the entertainment value is 7 stars out of 10, and if they showed the award night bloopers, even an 8. But given my limited time, it makes no sense to watch a drawn out, maudlin and seemingly scripted awards ceremony instead of one of the nominated films themselves. Its like choosing to watch the NFL Draft instead of the Super Bowl.
But back to last night. Apparently Jimmy Kimmel channeled Steve Harvey and so Warren Beatty was handed the wrong scorecard. I wish this had happened with November’s Presidential Election, something akin to “My fellow Americans I apologize but when we were declaring who won two key swing states, Pennsylvania and Florida, we accidentally said who won the primaries there, which in fact was Donald Trump. But the winner of the the Sunshine and Cheesesteak states were, drum roll please, not Donald Trump nor even a male. The actual winner and thus next president is Hillary Clinton.”
It’s nice to fantasize
But last night Oscar’s were Hollywood’s version of a NFL make up call.  Apparently the across the board nominations of non-black actors in 2015 and 2016 caused such backlash that Hollywood’s most prized actress, Jada Pinkett Smith, the one who made her husband Will so famous, boycotted the awards. Smith was joined by the usually taciturn Spike Lee who said, “if I wanted to see black people get ignored, I would have hung out a ski slope.”
I have vowed to keep this blog under 500 words so I won’t go off a long rant, something that lets say Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee might do if they felt racial justice wasn’t being served. But I do want to poke a few holes in their logic. They and other well-intentioned liberals ( I guess not as well-intentioned as the liberal writing this blog) believed Hollywood needed to be sent a message about its lack of inclusion. Now chances are historically the awards have not reflected the diversity on which America’s performing arts scene has flourished, considering how few Asians, Latinos, Native-Americans and Hindus get nominated even though collectively they constitute about 30 percent of the American population. But contrary to all of the dissension, African-Americans have done well at the Oscars.
Since 2000, a black actor has won the best actor award three times, Denzel Washington, Forrest Whitaker and Jamie Foxx. Lebron James would have won last year but they are not too happy about him in California.
Three of the last five best supporting actresses have been African-American and 12 Years a Slave and Crash, both Afrocentric films, won best picture.
These numbers may not speak to a truly representative list of winners, but they do suggest that blacks have had consistent placement in the winner’s circle.
Which brings me to the point I wanted to make in the first place. In the 21st century, the concept of diversity has to be examined beyond surface appearance. Schools, workplaces, and cultural institutions all seem to define diversity in terms of race and ethnicity. This may be semantically true but I think it undermines what diversity really encompasses.
First, diversity is an established fact of American life. It is not a quest nor a paperwork requirement. Diversity, especially in the modern age, should foremost be approached less superficially, including heterogeneity in thought, strategic approach, personality, taste and experience level. In fact, trying to define diversity in terms of skin color actually contradicts the intention, and if anything homogenizes the issue .
I recognize that much of what Hollywood does it scripted, but if it wanted a diverse sample size for each category, then make decisions which are color blind, P.R. neutral and instead based on what the people who go to the movies actually think.
Anyway, take nothing away from Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali who won best supporting actress and actor respectively, but those awards really should have gone to Jada Pinkett-Smith and Spike Lee. And no offense to Moonlight and kudos to the city of Miami, but now that the Hollywood referees have evened the score, hopefully we can find a way to judge art and artists on their merits, not on what is politically correct.
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Life in limbo

I have spent a good portion of the last year up in the air.

And I am not just being metaphoric.

In fact, I spent most of yesterday afternoon in that state of limbo.

A slight professional flight of fancy coupled with a yearning to be in DC during the election has necessitated a weekly commute from DC to Miami. As the respective weather follows seasonal patterns, this trip provides for the best of both worlds, a first-hand look at our ever so dysfunctional political system during the weekdays and the fun and sun of the Truman show like bubble of Miami on weekends. Pundits then papayas.  “What’s the news”, then “que pasa?”

In order to get to and fro, I need to fly. I could write a Steven King length book about the quirky and neurotic world of aviation but that wouldn’t “fly” with my readers. As you know, it is a world like none other, aptly depicted in the George Clooney film “Up in the Air” and even more wryly in the David Sedaris essay I will post at the bottom of this blog. Nonetheless, since it is becoming such a big part of my psyche, here are some observations and tricks of the trade accumulated over the last half year of binge flying.

I encourage you to add these ten insights to your aviation survival kit.

(1) Tell Tall Tales If you need to make any modifications to your planned itinerary, be sure to over-exploit the fact, even if it’s not completely factual, that you have a wife and baby. I know I do. For instance, if you want to fly earlier in the day than your scheduled flight time, tell them you just found out your wife is pregnant again and you want to rush home to confirm it with her at the OB-GYN. The best time for that “appointment” is 11:30. Given the frequency with which I have told this story, my wife is now carrying quintuplets, all conceived at different times.

And if you need to push your flight later in the day, it’s because your son isn’t feeling well.

(2) Bring your own food, bring your own food – Despite the fact that airports offer more consumer benefits than a mega mall, in fact some savvy shoppers are now simply doing their holiday buying sprees at airports (In Dallas, some non-flyers actually spend weekend nights at the airport for food and fun), things are a little pricey. A shout out to my friend Radio who caught onto this around age 7 and likely empties half his fridge to travel with his large contingent. Nonetheless, bring food because if not, you will be out $20 for a bottle of water, a cookie and a turkey sandwich made with meat from a Jetsons’ episode.

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Should I buy two Valentines cards or one bottle of juice?

Below is my receipt from yesterday! Note the cost of O.J.

(3) Don’t follow the masses – airport gates are the worst example of conformity.

Q:  When is the best time to start getting comfortable in your seat while waiting at the gate?

A – When everyone else stands up.

This particularly happens with Southwest. As soon as two or more people stand up and start inching towards the ticket counter, everyone follows en masse. Mind you, this usually takes place before the incoming flight has even landed. I once asked a middle aged eager beaver why this was so common and his response was “ I guess they start forming a line to wait on another line before the actual line on the gangway.” My response – “Interesting”

(4) Don’t make time specific plans on the other end.

With American Airlines, always assume people are on Cuban time, unless you are in a rush. Then  American Airlines flights leave ten minutes early. But if they did usually follow ETD, I think the flight attendants will be bored.  Assuming you get to the airport with ample time to spare, just figure out ways to stay busy for another hour because your flight will invariably encounter some major problem like, the soap dispenser in the bathroom has been removed and the FAA has issued a airport wide man hunt to track the culprit down. Or we apologize but there was a granola bar undesirably found on the take-off runway and we are first  sending in Miami CSI to investigate before scrubbing the entire runway.

(5) Brown nose

Start simply, without ulterior motives, any and all flight attendants. Be inquisitive, ask them about their lives, their favorite cities, clouds, flight plans for the day, then after take off, move in for the kill. Refills without request, inside information about the flight, extra snacks and in some cases, a chance to move closer to the front. And if the flight gets delayed, don’t get on their cases… it’s bad karma, not to mention bad policy, eventually the flight does take off and you will need their help.

(6) Armrest/Elbow rest battles

Here’s the crux of the whole experience, the rising action of the flying novel, the part I have analyzed and kept large data records for years. This is where you find out if you have the testicular fortitude to literally “bump elbows” with the competition. Any flight over four minutes requires ample elbow space, but our neighbors often by virtue of girth, ignorance or poor observational skills, don’t like to share the space. Therefore you have to prepare a battle plan. Here are my four true and tried steps to reclaim your turf.

1 – The faith stage. Give it five minutes. Just pretend that the person next to you as still trying to figure out that you also have two elbows. With some passengers, this could stretch to ten minutes. But hold out hope that they will eventually come around.

2 – If the faith stage doesn’t work, try the friend stage. Figure you can get them to lessen their elbow lock by befriending them. Simple pleasantries and even a compliment or two should get them to share the space.

3- Subtle hint stage. This happens after about twenty minutes. At this point, you are feeling the pinch. I usually start with a reference to food. Me – “Hey do you know if they are serving food on this flight?” Elbow hog – Yea I sure hope so”. Me – “Well if they do, I could go for some pasta, maybe some elbow, yea elbow macaroni. At his point you also give their protruding elbow a slight nudge. There are good variations on this theme. “Hey do you like watching hockey/” Passenger – Yea great sport. Very physical. “ Me – Agreed, especially when they give them a good elbow, you know really slam them into the boards with their elbows.

4- The elbow war. Just nudge their elbows, even a good aerial hit to get them to cede their space. This, while the last line of defense, can also be the most satisfying. Naturally this is a little trickier if your opponent is asleep, but don’t let their level of comfort deter you.

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(7) Study your neighbors:  

In writing this, I’ve come up with a thought. Airlines should force people to upload their pictures before claiming a seat. Either that or biographical data. Then we can pick a seat based on a number of variables including the potential for surrounding annoyances. Though I base my preferences on what the people carry on. If they bring next to nothing, lets assume they are a little bit boring and will likely have some ADD and therefore very fidgety. If they bring books, a laptop or a notepad, that’s your winner. They will keep to themselves, not to mention , likely respect the elbow rest rules.

(8) Don’t get all worked up before your flight – Somehow these pilots really know what they’re doing. I guess all that flight simulator practice pays off. Personally, as glorious as defying Newtonian Physics  and winning the man versus nature battle is, I can’t think of a job I would be less suited for. Maybe a professional organizer. Although I have overcome my fear of flying, I still get a little queasy for a minute or so before the flight and start reciting biblical verses every time we hit some turbulence. But all this high anxiety isn’t worth it. Have faith…. The skies really are friendly..

(9) If at first you don’t succeed, start writing in your journal:

Since you must share an elbow rest, not to mention, play accidental games of footsie, you might as well try to get to know the passengers next to you. Besides, and I’m sorry to be so honest, if you are anything like me, you will probably fart a lot during the flight (Yes I’m that guy). In my case, it must be a combination of nerves and bananas. But if you are a bit of a threat to the ambient air quality, at least buy yourself some leeway by befriending your neighbors. This could start with something simple like “Where are you flying to?” or “By any chance are you allergic to pretzels because I’m not?”. The point is, there will be times when you want to pass what feels like time suspended in air more quickly so fraternizing can speed up the process.

But if they are not too responsive, then grab a little more of the elbow rest and start writing in your journal. You could even write a little character sketch about them.

(10) Don’t check your phone until you reach the gate:

This is a bit of superstition but there were times that people actually waited until they got home, walked the dogs and thrown out the two week old spaghetti  left on the kitchen counter before they could check in with loved ones. Or at least there was the surprise of exiting security and seeing a loved one waiting for you, or in the case of some Latin families, twenty family members including the dog, all waiting with welcome home posters.

But my reasoning is a little different. Use whatever analogy jumps to mind, but I say savor the afterglow. Man you just traversed five states in 140 minutes. You even wrote two good poems and an apology letter to your former boss. Feel the ground, thank the pilots, fart once or twice more just to leave your final imprint. Then once you get to the gate, you can check your FB. Really just take note of your new surroundings first. After all, if you are flying American, your DC bound flight  may have just landed in the middle of Honduras.

P.S.: For another perspective on flying, I strongly suggest reading this essay –

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/08/09/standing-by

 

Can’t fight the urge… or maybe that’s someone else

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 – Photo taken from Donald J. Trump’s upcoming book on Zen Buddhism

Last week in my inauguration piece, I wrote about how at the beginning of the day, there was a hint of bipartisanship in the air, courtesy of a “smoke out” aptly timed to precede Trump’s inauguration speech and swearing in. After accidentally stumbling upon the rally, or gathering, or zombie fest (whatever the proper label is), I tried to convince, or maybe console, a few happy attendees that de-legalizing recreational marijuana use was not “high” on the president-elect’s agenda.

Depending on what side of the fence you stand, this has either been a bold or brazen week for President, actually lets just call him Ronald Mc”Donald” Trump. I will reserve more judgment until after my description.

As an aspiring journalist, I am also not sure whether to be appalled or enriched by all the commotion, but as someone who is drawn to satire, this is truly  manna from heaven.

And as far as the weed issue goes, lets just say Mr. Trump himself might benefit from keeping it”high” on his priority list, and even more so, for the rest of us, even those like me, who are not too well-versed on the ways of the weed world.

Size matters (at least to Trump)

The hullabaloo started last Tuesday when after three or so days of staying on his meds, a man who is pathologically insecure, admitted his embarrassment at the stated size of his, especially compared to Obama’s, size of his, size of his…………… inauguration crowd.

Granted many aging men express clinical despair over the size of their………..inauguration crowds, but this is something you are supposed to well, sort of keep in your pants.

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Mr. Trump, in what then could only be described as both delusional and maybe the subject of a good Polock joke, took to compensating for his inferiorly sized inauguration crowd by challenging the popular vote count of 10 weeks ago, perhaps asking for a recount. I could think of ridiculous analogies galore but will simply say this would be like the Super Bowl winning quarterback taking steroids before the game, celebrating in the locker room, prepping for his Disneyworld junket then sometime the next day, and then stating that outcome of the Super Bowl should not be made official until both teams’ quarterbacks are tested for steroids. Or calling the IRS to revisit the tax code because you think you cheated on your taxes.

Hopefully you get the point.

His insistence on voter fraud was all the buzz until he created another diversion by experiencing an intense bout of a premature executive-actulation. Needless to say, Mr. Trump has gotten a bit infatuated with his newfound power, a little bit like giving an eight year old a bazooka squirt gun at a mid July birthday pool party. The only problem of course, is Mr. Trump’s executive action gun has a little wider range.

Wednesday:

This reckless spree started by re-igniting the border war with Mexico, in the form of announcing an executive action to build the wall. Can anyone please say “Mr. Anderson, Mr. Anderson?”

Having considered the sane possibility of mending PR fences with our closest neighbor and largest trading partner in the hemisphere, Mr. Trump opted to fan the flames of mistrust. His solution: return to his bravado-filled, almost drunken pledge to build a border wall and make Mexicans pay for it by of all measures, forcing them to sell everything they stole from the Incas back to Peru and reclaiming the copyright royalties to Speedy Gonzales.

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Arriba, Arriba, Andale, Andale – Translation: “I can run faster than you could build!”

What psychologists now associate with this draconian pledge is a latent resentment towards Mexican culture, specifically at Dos Equis for not choosing him many years back as “The Most Interesting Man in the World”.

Thursday:

Speaking of Speedy Gonzales, Mr. Trump pledged a day later to re-assemble his national security team, removing anyone with expertise in the field and/or peaceful intentions and instead replacing them with John Rambo, Ted Nugent, Yosemite Sam and Wayne LaPierre, the head of the N.R.A.. Atilla the Hun was also added as an honorary member.

Friday:

Speaking of honor, Mr. Trump did the most honorable thing he could do to “honor” the many domestic achievements of former president Barak Obama by moving even further to undo Obamacare which provided health insurance to 20 million previously uninsured Americans; In fairness, Mr. Trump opted to keep several important provisions from the original bill by maintaining coverage on pre-existing conditions such as delusion, megalomania, erectile dysfunction and premature executive-actulation.

Saturday:

Speaking of Viagra, Mr. Trump was in full erectile spirit when he issued his 73rd Executive Action of the week (2 more than his number of tweets) by declaring a ban on transients entering the U.S. from Muslim dominated countries that have at least two syllables in their names, falafel sandwiches whichcost more than the cost of an inauguration t-shirt and places where the most popular hashtag is now #WeactuallymissGeorgeW.Bush

The ban has not gone over well with unexpectedly detained passengers, many of whom were asked to play interrogatory games of uncle in which they were asked questions such as:

(1) If Allah’s name was changed to Trumpah, would you now bestow praises on him ten times a day instead of your traditional five?”

and

(2) if they would issue a religious fatwa that would force Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to change his name back to Lew Alcindor.

Speaking of tall people, Donald Trump claimed he had finished reading his first novel in 40 years, a little Spanish fantasy tale named Don Quixote. Asked what he liked most about the book, Trump was quick to respond: “I like his imagination, you know his flexibility of mind. This Quixote guy, along with his sidekick Steve Bannon, I mean Sancho Panza, is a visionary. He tends to see things that, well, the average person, does not.”

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Stay tuned my friends, Dos Equis may have new “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign, Just don’t be surprised if they change the adjective in that punchline.

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Four Protests, well maybe 3 and a pot-fest

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I was excited to go cover the inauguration on Friday, at least in the  journalistic sense. I grabbed my #Imwithher poster,  a Clinton-Gore hat from six inaugurations ago, and two phones for ample picture and note taking. As I stepped out of my door onto O St., however, I realized I had forgotten two things. One, to drink a cup of coffee and two, to wake up.

Once both of those steps were taken, I read the newspaper headlines just to make sure I hadn’t been a coma for 10 weeks. With that scenario disproved by the headlines, I grabbed a “great” cup of coffee and stuffed a half-charged iPhone (Which implies 32 minutes of battery life), four unusable pens and a notepad into my parka. I also attempted a minute of deep breathing techniques in case I ran into, well, lets just say a few too many of those folks donning those infamous red hats.

In truth and in my typically naive fashion, I expected to simply find scattered masses of people engaging in  healthy debates about the future of the country, bi-partisan yoga workshops and food truck vendors so swept up by the unprecedented level of national unity and immigration support, they were giving away meals, especially the Mexican vendors.

To add to the anticipation, I heard a fairly large demonstration only two blocks away from my apartment. Since, I also had to go the CVS just across from where the commotion was emanating, I grabbed my “Goodbye Obama” sweathshirt, sweatpants and rushed over to the noise. It was roughly 9 am.

As I approached the throng, surprisingly the dialogue did not appear to be hostile nor even disagreeable. However, as the crowd more clearly entered my field of vision (I may have been the only one who could see clearly), I did a double take. Rather than seeing Trump or Clinton or “#not my president” signs, or anything even remotely political, I saw lets just say, many symbols of a Reggae Fest. My sense of smell confirmed this first impression.

So yes, this was not exactly a political rally. In fact, I am not sure a good chunk of the people even knew it was inauguration day. At least not anymore. They were rallying alright,  Cypress Hill style, one puff at a time, for: More munchies, hemp products and the right to get every bystander and cop in a six block radius loopy from second hand smoke.

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Frankly I am not sure I have ever seen a more zealous and patient queue, particularly on a Friday at 9 am. My guess is a good chunk of these “activists” wouldn’t have waited more than five minutes on a voting line, but promise them one free joint and discounts on “medicinal” paraphernalia, and they could wait the entire morning. Apparently some of them did.

I wasn’t sure whether to immediately turn around and head to CVS. But I replayed the wisdom of my public affairs professor who always says that the news is usually the opposite of the plans, so I took out my phone and attempted to interview one of the dutiful souls on the queue. As a non-pot smoker, I am not so savvy about the weed hype. In fact, my biggest point of departure is why legalization is so important when its previous illegality never denied anyone access to it. But to better play an objective on the street journalist, I pressed the issue a bit.

Me – ” So what brings you to this rally?”

Bob Marley Jr – “Dude, I’m sure you can figure it out. Look at all the weed”.

Me – “But do you have to go to the other end of the city just to get “weed”? (I felt a little phony just saying the word)

BMJ – “Yea but it’s free”

Me – “But don’t you have a bunch of friends who would give it to you for free?”

BMJ – “Haha.. Yea but I can’t guarantee that. Besides, Trump’s probably going to take all our weed away. The fascists want to take away all our freedoms”.

Me – “Actually I’m not sure Trump has mentioned anything about weed. My guess is that it is not big on his agenda. ”

BMJ _ “Yea just wait. Pence will. He’s one of those uptight Christian guys. Probably thinks hippies are all the devil’s army.

Me – “So how long will you wait on this line?”

BMJ – “As long as I need to. I waited forever for weed to be legal. What’s an hour?”

My weedfest observations could continue indefinitely. But my brain is getting a bit Trumpy just thinking about it. I’ll just relate a little anecdote from waiting in line at CVS to get my TB test read. There were at least half a dozen people waiting to use the bathroom. They were very fidgety. Most had died hair. Others had ripped jeans and multiple earrings. And they kept talking about the line.

Me – So are you here to get a flu shot too? If so, you can sign in at the kiosk over there.”

Them – laughing, more laughing “Nay man, we’re here to make sure it stays legal.”

Me – “You mean weed or the flu shot?”

Them – “What’s the flu shot? Does it protect us against Trump? You getting one?”

More laughter.

Me – “Actually know I’m here to get, ah never mind, nah ( I wanted to seem a bit saintly), not my thing.

“Right on. You’re missing out though”.

Me: (eavesdropping on their conversation):

Them – “Dude, the line is crazy. It goes up the street like three blocks. Think there will be weed left?”

Another dude: ” I dunno. If I were you I would cut the line.”

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“Political” activists wait patiently to inhale their deepest sentiments

(Photo courtesy of Donald J Trump – CNN photographer)

“Yea but thats not cool. Could you imagine if I cut in front of someone and I ended up being the last guy to get some?”

“Holy shit, That would be dope, I mean for you. But they would go crazy. That might actually get you deported.”

This is where my weed story ends, well almost ends. Just as I was leaving three girls walked out of a bathroom designed for one person. Before my inner 22 year old jumped to conclusions, I asked one of my informants what she thought was going on.

“Oh they were probably rolling a joint. I think they were in the bathroom earlier. There was so much green stuff on the sink, I almost licked it”.

The smell of clean air, well sort of:

At this point, I felt more compelled than ever to do some real journalism. I heard there was a Dream Act rally going on towards the Mall so I took the metro to Foggy Bottom and started following the crowd from there.

My sense is that there were some people who were genuinely afraid their first amendment rights would be taken away when Trump was sworn in, so they took full advantage of their last few hours. As I started walking around Foggy Bottom, a larger procession of revelers was heading towards the Tidal Basin. I didn’t see any #MAGA hats so I started tagging along, eavesdropping on conversation and trying to get caught up in the democratic spirit. This procession was in fact heading towards to Dreamers gathering so I had guessed right.

This was a fairly PG rally. And low and behold, there were two red hat Trump supporters there who said they didn’t think Trump was going to follow through on his deportation threats but if he did, they would be at the head of the line to protest. My 32 minutes of iPhone battery life expired so I have no pictures from this rally but I’ll share some of the best lines from posters.

“Melania can stay but deport Donald”

“As long as you hump Trump, you can stay”

“Deport hate, protect hope”

“A dream deferred is our future denied”

“Beware of things that go Trump in the night”

“Your wealth was built on our backs. No immigrants = No buildings”

“Note to president Trump – Let he who be without sin cast the first stone”

At about noon, the promise of rain came true. Mind you this was the time that Mr. Trump was taking the oath of office. I’ll leave any possible symbolism to the reader. So I left the Dream Act rally and started heading towards the center of the action. About an hour later, I received warnings from my wife and sister not to go towards 13th and K. At first I had no intention of going to K street but after their warning, I immediately started heading in that direction. Though on the way there, I heard something that sounded like the combo of an Obama campaign rally and a spoken poetry contest so i stopped there first.

My sense is a good chunk of the attendees had also waited on the weed line. I’ll assume that once they realized it was inauguration day, their priorities had shifted somewhat

It was spirited, inclusive and overtly anti-Trump. Given my preppy, shy nature, I felt a little out of place, but I listened.

Te first speaker, lets call her Wanda, had an Afrocentric, 90’s feminist hip hop kind of tone. I will try to recreate what she said using some poetic license:

“We will not let the machines of oppression remanufacture our souls,

Nor white supremacy murder our goals,

We won’t let Obama’s dream be destroyed by that son of a bitch

We won’t let them re-enslave us so they can get more rich,

They can’t confine us, Trump can’t redefine us

We will stay at the front of the bus

Black lives matter. Can I get a black lies matter?”

“Black lives matter!”

“Louder. Prouder!”

Black lives matter

“We aint niggers, we aint diggers, we aint forgotten, we don’t pick cotton”

Black Lives Matter!!

The remaining speakers were equally fired up. A Native American who had apparently run for Congress in North Dakota named “Chase Iron Eyes ” spoke in really Thoreauesque terms about saving the river from oil exploration and a bunch of other really deep spiritual metaphors about the “omnipresent soul of nature”. I don’t even think he went to the weed fest and was still this deep.

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He was also playing the harmonica, a flute made from bamboo and sang with a cadence that pulsated river currents through my veins. I was rather awed as was the crowd who chanted a bunch of really cool verses in authentic native american dialect. I felt like I needed to see Dances With Wolves again.

The last speaker I heard was a Muslim-American female. She was pretty intense, blaming pretty much everyone for the mistreatment of a handful of Muslims and negative perceptions of them. Clearly Trump’s speech didn’t sit well with her. Islamaphobia, in her eyes, was more widespread then lets say love of major league baseball. But everyone cheered and chanted “Down with Islamaphobia. Don’t with xenophobia, down with gynophobia, down with diversophobia (or something like that).

She was a little too extreme for my taste but I cheered anyway. Apparently she didn’t even know she was to going speak so everything was said extemporaneously. Her last comment was particularly striking.

“If they say Muslims don’t belong, I say bring more

If they say Muslims are the problem, I say just look at the score

of American terrorists on Muslim lands and Muslim values

Confining Allah within the hateful chambers of biblical lies

If you are really afraid of Muslims Mr Trump, look in the mirror and take off the disguise.

You are the enemy. Your hate bullets which spread from city to city, state to state

You and your millions of ignorant followers are what keeps America from being great”

……. I clapped, I’m not even sure I agreed with much of her rant, but I clapped like my team had just gone ahead in the last minute of the game.

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1st Amendment in the spotlight

I could go on and on here but I will close by saying that I felt a little boring by comparison. I’m a white guy from New Hampshire who’s biggest complaint is that my neighborhood sidewalks are a bit hard to traverse with a baby stroller.

From here, I felt ready for some more adventure.

At first I felt stronger than nature. I even facetimed my wife to prove how brave I was. But as I got closer to the center of the action, I could see that something was burning and no it was not a Caja China nor a recreation of the weed-fest. There were overturned trash cans and they were either making human sacrifices or burning Trump gear or maybe both. A Trump guy came over with a fire extinguisher and then as squatters tend to do, they got a little resentful and sure enough everything I was forewarned about came true.

Most people stuck around to take photos but I went running. Ironically stopping only to speak with a group of Red Hats…

I apologized to them.

Me – “These are not real Democrats. I think they are just a little too stoned and still upset that Bernie Sanders lost. Or they really just want to make the news.”

Them – “Yea I know. But still this is ridiculous. (One of them started ingesting chewing tobacco. Another seemed pretty hammered.) I survived eight years of Obama ( I hate this line) and we didn’t break things or try to pick fights. We sucked it up.”

Me – (better part of reason) “I mean it’s a free country. People can vote for whomever they want, even Donald Duck. Anyway, I hope you guys have a good inauguration weekend. Hopefully I won’t see you in four years though.”

They – laughing, hopefully you will see us. I wish more Democrats were like you, friendly and all.

Me – I’m sure they are, they are probably just hanging out in coffee shops reading the paper right now.

More laughs

Like a casino enthusiast, I was tempted to go back for one more look. Really. All the swarming cop cars and sound and fury didn’t dissuade me. But I looked at my phone and saw a message from my wife telling me to be safe. I actually followed her suggestion.

Disclaimer – The next few sentences will depart from satire.

Walking along the parade route, I had conflicting feelings. One I was embarrassed or at least confused by all the hysteria. Trump was elected 10 weeks ago. They had plenty of time to exercise their first amendment rights. Secondly, did all these vigilantes actually get out and vote? Third, maybe free marijuana and the constitutional right to assemble on inauguration day isn’t such a good blend. Fourth, If Clinton had been elected, would the Trump people be doing the same thing? For some reason, my instinct told me no. And five, Trump hasn’t even moved into the White House. Maybe the hysteria should wait until he actually does something.

I kept walking, peering over at the White House and getting a little miffed at a guy selling big Trump banners. Shit, he must be making a ton of money on this crap. I think I was just a little jealous. The only knick knack I have ever sold are Mindo t-shirts and I sold those at cost.

The slogan perplexes me. When did we stop becoming great? Obama created 10,000 million jobs in his second term and the economy is more robust than at any time in decades. Millions want to immigrate here every year. Why did 63 million people buy into this trope?

And then an idea came to me, a coy response to this ridiculous and erroneous slogan. Why not flip it on its head?  Okay Trump wants to make America “great” but we were “really great” before he took office. America’s status has now been downgraded. “This is genius,” I thought to myself. I’m going to make bumper stickers, hats, flags, towels, etc. This will be the opposition’s catchphrase.

My pace quickened. Where should I post this? Facebook? Twitter, text all my Democratic friends or just catch everyone by surprise?

Now I was floating on air. Hah, I bet Trump’s PR people never thought of this. I wanted to scream it out to all the Trumpeteers. “Wow, so we are great now, but we used to be really great. The joke is on you.”

By now, I was out of the eye of the storm. I fought the urge to text my new slogan and went inside the GW gym, ready to release much of the day’s angst on the squash court. I was a bit curious as to what was going on K St. And then another thought crossed my mind.

Maybe I really need to get a life. Either that or start reading more Native American philosophy.

#GodblessAmerica

 

 

Tweet off dude

Disclaimer:  I am reposting this because I sat on the initial thought for several days but a mound of new non-Russian generated evidence confirmed my feelings. There is no need to re-read it.

What do Bashar Al-Assad, Kim Kardashian, Snooki, Nicolas Maduro and Donald Trump have in common?

If you feel a little loopy just trying to answer the question, I understand.

Given my teacherly disposition, I will make it multiple choice:

(a) Five people I nor you will likely ever have dinner with nor care to

(b) Five people whom nearly all of us wish their 15 minutes of fame were over

(c) Five people who regularly tweet, as in more times a day than they likely poop or sneeze

(d) all of the above

All are worth answers, but the full credit response is…… Drum roll please, unfortunately (d). Yes D for Donald Trump or D for dimwits who really think the world wants to know what is on their mind more often than they eat. Five modern day sophists who have added to the historical progression of thought by kindly donating several daily 140 character brainfarts to the written record. Five of our more enlightened and of course, well-intentioned souls who have exhausted every other possible means of communicating with their fan base before opting to tweet.

Here’s a sampling of the President-elect’s tweets from last Friday.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-9-07-18-pm

And today… ( So far 3 before 8 am)

screen-shot-2017-01-18-at-7-49-56-am

Sorry in advance if my sarcasm is unappreciated. Perhaps I am underestimating the viral power of the social media version of having electrodes perpetually hooked up to our brains. Perhaps I am also underestimating the power of compact philosophies, tweet-sized aphorisms like “I think therefore I am” or “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”.  After all, Yogi Berra made an indelible name for himself with his famous Yogi-isms like “If there is a fork in the road, take it”.

But this isn’t about the pun-ish, self-deprecating wit and wisdom of one of the Yankees greats. Nor is it about the enduring power of proverbial comments. This isn’t even about the role of Twitter, which gives millions of us starstruck or at least slightly overcurious and  under attentive souls including myself the chance to follow our favorite icons or catch up on what is trending such as #donuts or #Christmasjingles.

This is about a man who is two days away from becoming the most powerful person in the world and has a seemingly untreated addiction to tweets. And it’s not as if he is sharing mundane details such as ” I had Boston cream pie for my lunch dessert and it was off the chain” or “Go Tom Brady. You’re the only guy with a better life than I have”. Even “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”.  Those would actually be catchy glimpses into his unique thought process.

No. Our president-elect prefers to use Twitter to make bold policy proclamations, play verbal games of uncle with unsupportive celebrities and most likely, deal with his insomnia in the way most 70 grandfathers of eight do, by settling discomforting grudge matches with those get under his skin. The man who famously had someone ghostwrite the “Art of the Deal” now wants to do the writing himself in the wonderful high art platform of social media.

Mr. Trump, once accused of being callous, narcissistic, manipulative and you name the other pathologies, must show his 5 million followers that he is also, well, a little sensitive. Earth to Donald, no one likes to be criticized but the more powerful you become, the more opposition you invite. Where is Oprah when we need her most? Or Freud.

To provide tangible evidence of the sources of my bewilderment, I am going to post a few of Trump’s more prominent twitter exchanges, or as I would like to call it, Twittantrums. As a burgeoning journalist, I should probably be grateful for Trump’s candor and compulsions.

But as a relatively well-informed citizen and regular voter, I am perplexed. So much for old adage of sticks and stones….. More on that later. For now, I will select four exchanges out the 2100 tweets Trump has posted since declaring his intention to run for president. I will let you decide if he picks his battles wisely.

(1) If you can’t catch him, then at least try to scare him on Twitter. Trump v. El Chapo

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-23-15-pm

-Fortunately your plan to build a big wall will certainly prevent El Chapo or any of his pals from entering the U.S.

(2) Trump v. Alec Baldwin – SNL is a longstanding satirical show with a heavy bend towards political satire. Trump actually has hosted the show twice and claim to have loved it both times. He along with hundreds of other candidates has been parodied. But clearly the love is lost once you become president-elect.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-17-21-pm

Trump hosting SNL in November 2015…

One year later…

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-24-38-pm

(3) Donald Trump vs. Mark Cuban – My billions are bigger than yours.

If Trump should like anyone this world it is Mark Cuban. They have Texan sized egos, a fearless approach to business, and love bringing their egos/unique brand of entrepreneurial opportunism to the big screen. But somehow, and go figure that there would be some software glitches this election season, they ended up on opposite teams. Frankly, I wish Mark Cuban had run on the Democratic ticket. Here’s a little Trump snippet from earlier this fall,

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-30-53-pm

Note to Donald.  This was one of your lamer tweets. I doubt”failing” at Benefactor keeps Mr. Cuban up at night.

(4) Today’s Twittantrum – Trump vs. Civil Rights leader and longstanding congressman John Lewis. Amazingly Trump and Lewis are about the same age (Lewis is 76). And I give Trump credit for aging and choosing wives well. But Lewis has fifty years of experience in public service, which includes being re-elected over twenty times and taking many blows to the face while leading Civil Rights marches in the 60’s.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-25-42-pm

I would add more but I have two fears. One, I might begin seeing these tweets as so absurdly entertaining that I follow Trump on Twitter. Two, I might think there is a method to his madness and begin tweeting more myself. So before I drift into the oceans of hypocrisy, I will offer Mr. Trump some free, Freudian styled advice. After all, he seems to be very receptive to what others say about him.

(1) Get help. As one who has spent time in 12 step groups, I know that compulsions don’t have to dominate our lives, with the exception of eating cheese or cheese popcorn. Seek a Tweeters Anonymous group near you or simply ask your newfound higher power for guidance as to best presidential practice. My guess is over-tweeting is a gateway drug and not so presidential.

(2) Give your tweets the old 24 hour rule. This of course will involve something slightly neurotic like leaving a draft of your desired tweet in your phone “notes” or sending a text message for yourself but if there is something so urgent that you must share with the world, perhaps something that pierced your skin, sit on it for a day.

(3) If you can’t sleep at night or wake up really early, grab a book. Just read, one it will tire your eyes out at night and two, you might find reading to be a nice diversion from the pressure of reducing profound thoughts into 140 characters.

(4) Tweet, but tweet with a slant – This is an allusion to an Emily Dickinson poem about truth. If you are tempted to fire back at Alec Baldwin, try a different approach like “hey Alec, if you are ever in DC, I could use a stunt double so I can get some golf in. Come on by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave when you’re in town. And bring your wig.#MSNLGA”

(5) Get some thicker skin over the next six days. Most presidents get criticized, ridiculed or even lampooned quite frequently. Get used it. Millions of people won’t like you here in the U.S. and billions worldwide. It’s part of the job of being the boss.

(6) If you really like social media that much, maybe appoint yourself White House Social Media strategist or even better, become your archenemy – a journalist.

(7) If you really want to engaged in playful verbal combat, follow me @anamebyanyother. I’m up for the challenge and let the truth be told,  could really use some more followers.

You can even tell me to…. “tweet off dude”. I won’t take it personally.

Tweet off dude

What do Bashar Al-Assad, Kim Kardashian, Snooki, Nicolas Maduro and Donald Trump have in common?

If you feel a little loopy just trying to answer the question, I understand.

Given my teacherly disposition, I will make it multiple choice:

(a) Five people I nor you will likely ever have dinner with nor care to

(b) Five people whom nearly all of us wish their 15 minutes of fame were over

(c) Five people who regularly tweet, as in more times a day than they likely poop or sneeze

(d) all of the above

All are worth answers, but the full credit response is…… Drum roll please, unfortunately (d). Yes D for Donald Trump or D for dimwits who really think the world wants to know what is on their mind more often than they eat. Five modern day sophists who have added to the historical progression of thought by kindly donating several daily 140 character brainfarts to the written record. Five of our more enlightened and of course, well-intentioned souls who have exhausted every other possible means of communicating with their fan base before opting to tweet.

Here’s a sampling of the President-elect’s tweets from Friday.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-9-07-18-pm

Sorry in advance if my sarcasm is unappreciated. Perhaps I am underestimating the viral power of the social media version of having electrodes perpetually hooked up to our brains. Perhaps I am also underestimating the power of compact philosophies, tweet-sized aphorisms like “I think therefore I am” or “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”.  After all, Yogi Berra made an indelible name for himself with his famous Yogi-isms like “If there is a fork in the road, take it”.

But this isn’t about the pun-ish, self-deprecating wit and wisdom of one of the Yankees greats. Nor is it about the enduring power of proverbial comments. This isn’t even about the role of Twitter, which gives millions of us starstruck or at least slightly overcurious and  under attentive souls including myself the chance to follow our favorite icons or catch up on what is trending such as #donuts or #Christmasjingles.

This is about a man who is six days away from becoming the most powerful person in the world and has a seemingly untreated addiction to tweets. And it’s not as if he is sharing mundane details such as ” I had Boston cream pie for my lunch dessert and it was off the chain” or “Go Tom Brady. You’re the only guy with a better life than I have” or even “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”.  Those would actually be catchy glimpses into his unique thought process.

No. Our president-elect prefers to use Twitter to make bold policy proclamations, play verbal games of uncle with unsupportive celebrities and most likely, deal with his insomnia in the way most 70 grandfathers of five do, by settling discomforting grudge matches with anyone who deigns to try to get under his skin. The man who famously had someone ghostwrite the “Art of the Deal” now wants to do the writing himself in the wonderful high art platform of social media.

Mr. Trump, once accused of being callous, narcissistic, manipulative and you name the other pathologies, must show his 5 million followers that he is also, well, a little sensitive. Where is Oprah when we need her most. Or Freud.

To provide tangible evidence of the sources of my bewilderment, I am going to post a few of Trump’s more prominent twitter exchanges, or as I would like to call it, Twittantrums. As a burgeoning journalist, I should probably be grateful for Trump’s candor and compulsions.

But as a relatively well-informed citizen and regular voter, I am perplexed. So much for old adage of sticks and stones….. More on that later. For now, I will select four exchanges out the 2100 tweets Trump has posted since declaring his intention to run for president. I will let you decide if he picks his battles wisely.

(1) If you can’t catch him, then at least try to scare him on Twitter. Trump v. El Chapo

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-23-15-pm

-Fortunately your plan to build a big wall will certainly prevent El Chapo or any of his pals from entering the U.S.

(2) Trump v. Alec Baldwin – SNL is a longstanding satirical show with a heavy bend towards political satire. Trump actually has hosted the show twice and claim to have loved it both times. He along with hundreds of other candidates has been parodied. But clearly the love is lost once you become president-elect.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-8-17-21-pm

Trump hosting SNL in November 2015…

One year later…

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-24-38-pm

(3) Donald Trump vs. Mark Cuban – My billions are bigger than yours.

If Trump should like anyone this world it is Mark Cuban. They have Texan sized egos, a fearless approach to business, and love bringing their egos/unique brand of entrepreneurial opportunism to the big screen. But somehow, and go figure that there would be some software glitches this election season, they ended up on opposite teams. Frankly, I wish Mark Cuban had run on the Democratic ticket. Here’s a little Trump snippet from earlier this fall,

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-30-53-pm

Note to Donald.  This was one of your lamer tweets. I doubt”failing” at Benefactor keeps Mr. Cuban up at night.

(4) Today’s Twittantrum – Trump vs. Civil Rights leader and longstanding congressman John Lewis. Amazingly Trump and Lewis are about the same age (Lewis is 76). And I give Trump credit for aging and choosing wives well. But Lewis has fifty years of experience in public service, which includes being re-elected over twenty times and taking many blows to the face while leading Civil Rights marches in the 60’s.

screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-7-25-42-pm

I would add more but I have two fears. One, I might begin seeing these tweets as so absurdly entertaining that I follow Trump on Twitter. Two, I might think there is a method to his madness and begin tweeting more myself. So before I drift into the oceans of hypocrisy, I will offer Mr. Trump some free, Freudian styled advice. After all, he seems to be very receptive to what others say about him.

(1) Get help. As one who has spent time in 12 step groups, I know that compulsions don’t have to dominate our lives, with the exception of eating cheese or cheese popcorn. Seek a Tweeters Anonymous group near you or simply ask your newfound higher power for guidance as to best presidential practice. My guess is over-tweeting is a gateway drug and not so presidential.

(2) Give your tweets the old 24 hour rule. This of course will involve something slightly neurotic like leaving a draft of your desired tweet in your phone “notes” or sending a text message for yourself but if there is something so urgent that you must share with the world, perhaps something that pierced your skin, sit on it for a day.

(3) If you can’t sleep at night or wake up really early, grab a book. Just read, one it will tire your eyes out at night and two, you might find reading to be a nice diversion from the pressure of reducing profound thoughts into 140 characters.

(4) Tweet, but tweet with a slant – This is an allusion to an Emily Dickinson poem about truth. If you are tempted to fire back at Alec Baldwin, try a different approach like “hey Alec, if you are ever in DC, I could use a stunt double so I can get some golf in. Come on by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave when you’re in town. And bring your wig.#MSNLGA”

(5) Get some thicker skin over the next six days. Most presidents get criticized, ridiculed or even lampooned quite frequently. Get used it. Millions of people won’t like you here in the U.S. and billions worldwide. It’s part of the job of being the boss.

(6) If you really like social media that much, maybe appoint yourself White House Social Media strategist or even better, become your archenemy – a journalist.

(7) If you really want to engaged in playful verbal combat, follow me @anamebyanyother. I’m up for the challenge and let the truth be told,  could really use some more followers.

You can even tell me to…. “tweet off dude”. I won’t take it personally.

I hereby resolve for you to….

It’s that time of year again, or should I say that time of new year, a time when we get all warm and fuzzy towards family members we could hardly remember still exist and casual acquaintances from whom we borrowed packing tape in February.

And this is before the first drink.

new-year

Then after that first glass of wine, when we turn on CNN to watch the last two of its 17 hours of continuous Oprah-show like countdown to the dropping of the crystal ball, the euphoria kicks into high gear as we send Gettysburg Address-sized heartfelt wishes to our gardener, home insurance representative, AC repairmen and most vile Trump supporting acquaintances.

Yes, this is New Years, a time when we used to spend the last 10 second countdown with complete strangers wearing white hats and blowing into kazoos in some downtown hotel ballroom, where two glasses of $26 champagne erased the remorse from just having spent $175 on a pear salad, rabbit carpaccio and a bowl of lobster bisque.

But if now you are either normal or a  renewal believing, neurotic, pseudo-mature soul like myself, you spend the waning hours of the year closely surrounded by loved ones, and pile of long-neglected clothes you are now folding to take to Goodwill.

You are also starting to conceptualize your new year’s resolutions, a few of which you have absolutely no intention of keeping such as running a half-marathon, checking your phone apps less and cutting down on your intake of caffeinated beverages.

The plan also includes a handful you must keep in order to stave off immediate and perhaps permanent peril. These include but are not limited to: not buying any more houses, finding a full-time job, removing the four year old Pangea-sized mold stains from the kitchen ceiling and not engaging in  red-light political discussions with pick-up truck drivers who don “Don’t Tailgate or I’ll fully exercise my second amendment rights” bumper stickers.

One of the beauties of the new year is that for at least the first 16 hours, including the ten you spend sleeping, you genuinely feel transformed, so chock full of resolve that you read Psalm 31 twice, put your MasterCard on autopay, and pick up your dog’s poop from the neighbors rock garden.

Speaking of which, I’m still getting used to the whole dog poop scooping and dispensing habit. It feels phony. As if I really feel bad that a biodegradable fertilizing Twix bar-sized turd has been donated to a small parcel of turf my neighbors never step foot on.

Nonetheless, along with Layla’s poop, here’s what I hope gets left behind in the sound, fury and absolute cosmic surreality of 2016 and what we can hopefully bring more into the limelight in 2017.

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-6-37-54-am

(10)  Out – Tipping. Enough is enough. I now devote a good chunk of my daily thought process and my innately strong math skills to deciding when and how much to tip. Everyone’s wants and thinks he/she deserves a tip nowadays including the volunteer Santa Claus and grocery store clerks for simply doing what we are paying for in the first place. Just the other day, my dentist added a 15% service charge and my pool cleaner refused to add chlorine tablets until I filled his tip jar.  I mean I am a chronic over-tipper, one who in the aggregate has tipped enough to pay for half of Somalia’s graduating high school class to attend FSU, but even my ridiculous conscience can’t take it any more.

In – A one-time tip fee added to my real estate taxes. Say $1200. And distribute it as the powers-that-be see fit.

selfies-stupid-selfie-photo-camera-confession-ecards-someecards-share-image-1479837415

(9) Out – Selfies. I get it. Really I do. Taking pictures is fun and sharing them about lets say, falling into a garbage strewn canal is even more fun, but not enough to justify all the commotion your need to take a selfie. Just look in the mirror and share the juicy details about your life in some other mode. Besides, I want to enjoy my leisurely walk without having to stop for you to finish your selfie. Chances are you want a passerby to take the picture anyway so the narcissism really does intrude on others.

In – Polaroids. It’s time to bring them back. The minute of anticipation is quite the hoot and the instant gratification factor is higher too.

(8) Out – The cost of a scoop of ice cream. I have been in denial about this for decades. Paying $5 for a scoop of ice cream is akin to paying $350 an hour for legal services. (Joke alert). But really I should be able to get at least 150 scoops of ice cream for the cost of that”highly” efficient lawyer. The cost of ice cream, Lincoln Road rent costs notwithstanding are unacceptable and given all of the major initiatives Obama passed in 2016 (another joke alert), the least he could do is pressure these sacred ice cream shops to exercise some price ceilings. I am going to boycott ice creams shops for at least three days to galvanize the cost cutting movement.

In – Waiting to get home to eat ice cream.

 

(7) Out – National Anthem protests. With apologies to Colin Kapernick who has become pseudo-enlightened, life here in the good ole US of A is pretty good; in fact someone who shall not be named at this time, plans to make it “great”. So if you really have a legitimate reason to feel disenfranchised, go ahead and take a kneel. If not, you are diverting too much attention to yourself.  However…….

In – redoing the lyrics to the national anthem. Maybe I am running dry on poetic sensibility, but some of the lyrics as such are way too arcane for the 21st century. I think we can do better than “O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming”. Frankly this probably means absolutely nothing to a good chunk of the American population.

1391454189ttmmqz-i

(Graphic courtesy of Donald J. Trump, former celebrity)

(6) Out – Texting. How blasphemous for me to say considering I expend a good chunk of the expertise which came with getting a masters degree in English on how to phrase and punctuate my texts. But all this texting, aside from its likelihood of rheumatoid arthritis, is such a bizarre way to communicate. Instead we should revert to..

In – Communicating as the phone was intended. By actually making phone calls. We speak on the phone so rarely that it’s actually becoming awkward even for the most savvy of communicators to “talk” on the phone.

(5) Out – New England Patriots. I know they will likely win the Super Bowl and I spent most of my childhood in New England, but enough is enough.  The Pats are the NFL’s version of auto-renew. Enough winning, enough Brady, enough winning with just the practice squad, enough is enough.

In – And no I did not just return from a “ski” trip to Colorado, but yes, the Miami Dolphins. They apparently drank Trump’s new Kool-Aid the last few months.

(4) Out – Vladimir Putin. Listen one Napoleon was enough. As was one Cold War. We get it. You like power and miss the USSR. But isn’t winning your own election enough of a power play. If we really wanted a Russian to infiltrate our corridors of power, we would make Anna Kournikova the Interior Minister, or Head of Something powerful.

In – TBD. But definitely not the Filipino President nor anyone Putin has a bromance with.

(3) Out – Fox and CNN. You made oodles of profit off the election. But you both wield too much power and not enough objectivity. Trump would still be the host of Celebrity Apprentice if it wasn’t for you.

In – Books and Newspapers, except for ones that do continual election polling.

 

(2) Disclaimer – I am no Scrooge but I can play one in my blog.

Out – Christmas Jingles, especially in Miami.

If I die of premature brain cancer, it’s not going to be because of all that Mountain Dew I downed in my twenties. It’s because of two songs which I will only allude to; one is that Mariah Carey “All I want for Christmas” nonsense and the other is “Last Christmas I gave you my heart”. Maybe I will believe in Trump’s promise to make America great again as long as he permanently banishes both of those jingles, along with a few others from the airwaves.

carols-singing-holiday-christmas-season-ecards-someecards

I mean for God’s sakes, the average temperature in Miami this month has been 82 degrees. Christmas is inherently a beautiful holiday but here it’s merely an excuse to play naked mini golf or go jet skiing all day.

Give the Christmas jingles here four days of retail and radio time. Maximum. I am not trying to Scrooge this but I simply can’t connect with slight bells a sleighing when I am applying SPF 70 to most of my body.

In – Playing the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet during the holidays. Or music from The Nutcracker

(1) Out – worrying. Really. Even though pretty much everything that happened in 2016 was cause for worry, and I inherited a bit of the worrier gene, I say lets apply some reverse psychology and a little Bob Marley to all the chaos and just take it all in stride.

In:  Becoming more yogi, or Yoda, or Yogi Berra or even Yogi Bear-like.

So there you have it. My collective resolutions which will naturally be more of a case of do as I say rather than do. But given the last resolution, I’m going to stay optimistic. I am going to click “no tip” at the bagel shop, not text anyone including the AC repairman for at least two hours today and maybe even start reading a new book.

Besides you know what they say about resolutions. Actually I don’t know what they say so I am going to make up my own quote:

“They are fun to make and even more fun to break.”

Happy 2017!

 

 

 

 

 

Excuse me for yawning, but 2016 was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop even at a (Jeb!) rally.

funny-awkward-positions-in-public-12

I am going to turn in my Year in Review a bit early. I’ve been on a “just get it out of the way” kick of late, actually paying bills and writing papers before deadline. Besides let’s face it, 2016 was a rather boring year with the exception of all the “fake” happenings so there’s not much else to do.

“Objectively” speaking pretty much nothing out of the ordinary happened. No cloud-splitting, rock the boat types of challenges to the existing order, nothing so unexpected that we started singing trite song lines like “The changes they are a coming”. Nothing.

Scientifically speaking, I think it’s safe to say it was such a dull year, the earth slowed its orbit around the sun. continental drift and plate tectonics as we know it ceased, gravitational pull reversed course as did population growth.

Things felt so humdrum it was as if all 7 billion of Earth’s inhabitants were perpetually stuck at the DMV while simultaneously completing Sudoku puzzles and reading the metro section of their local paper. It was that soporific.

And we needed it. We needed an emotional break from all the sound and fury of 2015 when things just got out of hand. We just needed a year to catch our breath to prepare ourselves for the chaos to come in 2017. Just in the first six months alone, South Korea will welcome a new presiden and 2018 World Cup qualifying begins in Trinidad & Tobego and Curacao.

Things will be absolutely insane.

Besides, I’m sure many S. Floridians are already reeling from the fact that Dolphin Stadium changed its name for the first time in at least decades and Hialeah elected a new mayor in so ethically impeccable a manner that not even the Russians could complain.

And I will go out on a limb to my 10,000 blog followers by stating that I am sure most of you feel exactly the same way about 2016.

If there are going to be monkey wrenches, curveballs and major developments that throw off our mental paradigms, we need to be forewarned.

Could you imagine how unprepared we would have been if lets say a former reality TV show founder/real estate mogul/inspiration behind the movie Jackass was elected president of a once-establishment dominated, free-election promoting nation lets say, ah well lets keep it local, the good old U.S. of A?

maxresdefault

Could you imagine if a baseball team from a Windy-ish city that hadn’t won a World Series since Theodore Roosevelt was president all of sudden ended the drought and captured the elusive crown?

Sorry for mistaking windmills for giants.

Could you imagine if Cuban dictator, the last breathing link to the Jurassic era and eyewitness to the great meteorite said to have killed off the dinosaurs, finally kicked the bucket? Miamians would go running down 8th street with the same enthusiasm and a few more pots and pans as when Lebron decided to take his talents to South Beach.

aptopix-fidel-castro-_sham-1-725x527

Could you imagine if 2016 was the type of year when people used guns for reasons others than protecting themselves against Dick Cheney on a seasonal hunt? Could you imagine the uproar if there was any gun-related violence at all?

Needless to say, if any of the aforementioned events took place, you would accuse me of hanging out in trendy coffee shops in a more liberal-minded state, lets say, Colorado.

Dream on friends. Not 2016. This was a white bread, what you see is what you get type of year. No Steve Harvey moments when just when you have been told things are supposed to be one way, we find out to be the exact opposite.

Here’s just a little bit of proof of how boring 2016 was.

Charlie Sheen didn’t make the news. Neither did Sri Lanka’s top table tennis and billiards players. Alabama won the BCS. Serena Williams won Wimbledon. Alabama elected a Republican governor. There were fewer than 10,000,000 accidents on the Palmetto Expressway. The media admitted it misreported one or two stories. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing.

Lets conjure again. Could you imagine how it would feel if really really nutty stuff happened like the smartest (I use the term loosely) Bush son and his 100 million dollar war-chest could not get past 4th place in any GOP primary? Could you imagine if normally self-restrained, gun allergic policemen on a moment of unexpected weakness and higher-than-expected stress, resorted to abnormal uses of force? Could you imagine if some multicultural pockets of Europe had to experience violent terrorist acts or speaking of Europe, a normally mild-mannered and politically neutral country such as Great Britain opted to vote itself out of the EU?

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Again you would say, maybe it’s time to consider spending your free time somewhere other than Colorado folk festivals.

These things don’t happen in our now safe, predictable world. Maybe in 2015. But we learned our lessons, once again redefining ourselves as practical humanoids, constantly keeping things in perspective, learning to separate the important from the trivial, the wheat from the chaff.

In other words, why waste our precious emotional and journalistic capital dithering over “faux” controversies like email servers, Howard Stern-esque lewd videos featuring presidential candidates, Hollywood break-ups, Olympic swimmers involved in post-competition escapades and plagiarized speech lines.

Nah, not the American media and not the discerning masses who would never settle for anything less than the simple, absolute truth. We simply let any attempts at distortion or sensationalism go in one ear and out the other.

Besides we simply don’t have the time.

Which is good because despite our relatively obscure existence, we muggles are active folk.

And for those dozen or so Americans who were snowed for long stretches of time and exhausted all other options other than following the news on the brand new socials media platforms of Facebook and Twitter, here’s what we the crackstaff at our hyperbole-free, truth obsessed publication have determined are ten events worth remembering in an otherwise humdrum year.

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(Other than Ben Carson and Atilla the Hun, the eight most prominent of the 9412 GOP candidates)

(10) The GOP Primary Season

A field of 9412 GOP candidates including the Ghost of Christmas Past, Bob Sagat, Abraham Lincoln, Yosemite Sam and two mild mannered men from Texas and New York whose last names rhyme with Booze and Crump engaged in a several month slog through the cornfields of Iowa and sled paths of New Hampshire, collectively singing “We are Family”.

In Iowa, the aforementioned man whose last names rhymes with Booze, a man whose campaign slogan was “Speak softly and when you do, make sure never to sound like an evangelical preacher” defeated an even more bereft of words candidate ( the one who rhymes with Crump) leaving the second-place finisher to say:

“ Frankly I really look at this whole presidential run as a worthy learning experience, one that will allow me to become a more rounded and gracious person. It’s such an honor to represent the minority white strand of our rich cultural tapestry and I congratulate all of my opponents on realizing that it’s about the journey not the destination.”

Within moments of his comments, the Iowa media took note that Mr.
Rhymes with Crump” had just spent two days in a ski hostel in Colorado.

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(9) Just hear me out

Speaking of Colorado, Kanye West, also from the mild mannered and soft spoken wing of American celebrity, accidentally spent a few days in Colorado learning how to snowshoe and make chai tea from scratch. After his workshops, Mr. West was said to feel a little looser in the lips, noting, in so ever humble a manner, that had he voted, he would have voted for the man whose last name rhymes with Grump, all of this after declaring his intentions to run for president before his children are old enough to vote.

Mr. West, who finally opened up about a host of other socially relevant topics, then went back to Colorado with Anthony Weiner, Ryan Lochte and the Governator himself who was quoted as saying, “ I think gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman”.

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(Photo courtesy of Donald J. Trump – N.Y. Times photographer)

(8) Speaking of women, 2016 was shaping up to be the year of the woman…….and women bashing.

-Teresa May was elected prime minister of England

– A certain first lady to from Slovenia, knowing that women are good writers, kindly asked the current first lady Michelle Obama to help her with her convention speech.

-Hillary Rodham Clinton, an obscure former lawyer children’s defense lawyer from Arkansas, shocked the world by becoming the first female nominee for president, defeating 37 year old centrist firebrand Bernie Sanders, a capitalist and former hedge fund manager from Las Vegas.

– Beyonce and Katy Perry managed to amass more Twitter followers each than Twitter has subscribers.

– And in an indirect reference to women, Donald J. Trump, otherwise known as the man whose last name rhymes with Crump, accused his rival, Senator Alex Keaton (Hope you appreciate the reference), I mean Marco “My hair is not” Rubio of having small hands, which of course can mean different things to different people. As for the electorate, they went ballistic after hearing the news, leading to this sampling of reactions:

“He can’t handle the economy with such inadequately sized-hands” – Iowa voter

“We need a more hands-on president”, – New York voter, a comment which of course some candidates took literally.

“ I don’t know about you, but I think Trump will now win the GOP nomination hands-down. –

“I’m looking for a bigger and better handyman”.

-A bunch of gymnasts under the age of 17 took a break from snapchatting and and trying to find Picachu’s to do a bunch of acrobatics that most Muggles can’t even perform in a video game.

(7) Snap, save, disappear. Repeat indefinitely even while asleep

Speaking of Snapchat, a clever snapshot, 12 hour half-life app has hit a crescendo as its developers have capitalized upon the optimal attention span of anyone between 5-35 who doesn’t do gymnastics. I am still trying to figure out all the bells and whistles but until some ultra modern interactice platform such as face-to-face communication is developed, we will be able to use Snapchat.

How does it work? Lets say you are sneezing and want everyone to know just how staccato you can do so. Click on snapchat, turn the camera inward and let the world see you in action. The nice thing is it will dissolve in 24 hours so if you want to have the space to lets say, show the last penalty kick in the Copa America, you can snap that too.

Apparently Obama used snapchat to lobby on behalf of Hillary. I guess ten seconds was more than sufficient time.

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(6) Messi pulls a Bret Favre

Speaking of soccer, Argentinians were surprisingly subdued when their beloved national team lost in their third or fourth consecutive final on a big stage.

Bad joke alert…

Not that I really care much about soccer, but I found it interesting that after losing the Copa America or “Copa something Latino” on penalty kicks, national icon Lionel Messi retired from the national team before he even finished shaking hands with the Chilean players. Within minutes, Argentina announced a two week state of mourning. During this fortnight of sorrow and suffering, and not that Argentinians are known for dramatizing things, but sacred cows were slaughtered, human sacrifices were performed, and President Macri vowed to return the Falkland Islands even though they are already British property.

Several months later, when life had returned to normal, Messi unretired to distract his fans from another piece of bad news.

(5) Panama Papers are a problem, but what exactly will they do.

In 2016 billionaires did surprisingly well for themselves. Apparently a billionaire “won” the national election in some tiny Western nation, I use the term “tiny” and “won” loosely. More on that later. But what the Panama papers, a set of legal documents with lots of paper and paper and paper about a network of offshore banks and shell companies, confiscated from a prominent Panamanian law office showed, is that, most countries are already run, or have been run by billionaires.

But rather instead of making billions off loose regulation codes and poor bankruptcy laws, these are simply kleptocrats who stash the billions in offshore accounts in a zillion different places only the kleptocrats and their accountants and their 50 mistresses visit.

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The aforementioned Messi was implicated in the scandal. As were a bunch celebrities although not Charlie Sheen. As was Vladmir Putin, former Brazilian president Lulu Silva and pretty much every other head of state from countries without real traffic laws.

Upon hearing the news, a billionaire who shall not be named declared “ Why didn’t I think of that. I guess I can learn a thing or two from reading the newspaper.”

(4) Pokemon GO.. Play, Even in traffic!

Speaking of reading, for the month of July, pretty much everyone stopped reading. And I mean everyone who had downloaded the Pokemon GO App. I downloaded it too but only for the purpose of appearing to be half cool in front of my students.

Pokemon GO is a app that allowed any adult to get in touch with their inner 10 year old and any ten year old to have another reason to think that adults, particularly adults who try to be like kids, are Martians. The game in which players used 3-D holograms and GPS positioning to try to catch Pokemons virtually placed in Pokestops and other locations ranging from the bottom of the ocean to their employer’s nostrils even got people to exercise, visit public parks and attend classes which were nabbing locations. It was most the most downloaded app in its first week of inception in history and brought new meaning to the word “bumping into your friends”.

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Over 40 million Americans, or just slightly less than the amount who still think Barak Obama is a hologram, played Pokemon GO, but many of these users became human versions of pinballs, banging into light posts, other people, oil wells and other hazards, all the while trying to operate a motor vehicle.

When asked when he liked Pokemon GO so much, 16 year old Sasha Obama said “It’s not like there is anything else going on the world”.

(3) 2016 Olympics in Rio make a splash – Got Zika?

Speaking of the world, the much embattled country of Brazil, a country which despite rampant corruption, corruption, crime, crime and being the epicenter of a microencephalitis  epidemic, was granted the right to host the world’s most prestigious sporting events. Yes the same Brazil that has experienced 425 percent inflation and a government protected kickback scandal that bilked citizens and investors out of billions. This same Brazil, despite having not made any of its infrastructure Olympic friendly until maybe a month before the games, got to host the Olympics.

As it turns out, All’s well that ends well. Brazilians got their shit together and the Zika virus stayed off Olympic grounds. And the games themselves went great, with Herculean feats by many known and new stars including Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, Katie Ledeckie and a bunch of people from a bunch of countries performing in a bunch of sports no one really knows how to play.

All was well except for one trio of competitors who lets just say, have excess chlorine in their cranial regions. One of the world’s most notorious silver medalists, Ryan Lochte, whose propensity for designer clothing is only eclipsed by his gift for tall tale telling, decided after a night of revelry, to go Johnny Depp on a rundown gas station bathroom near the Olympic village.

However, and the details of the story are so absurd that they don’t merit a full retelling, the combination of chlorine, alcohol and probably some of Colorado’s Coffeehouse finest led Lochte to tell authorities probing his bathroom rage injuries that he and two other teammates were mugged entering the Olympic village.

This story was later, and it’s hard to believe that in law abiding, what you see is what you get 2016, proved to be a lie. Fortunately after three weeks of vilification and late night talk show fodder, Lochte’s story went the way of a snapchat when it was discovered that……

(2) Celebrities can get away with certain improprieties

A man who’s name rhymes with Crump was engaged in an off-the-record conversation about every 60 year old grandfather’s favorite topic, grabbing women by their genitals. Actually he may not have been a grandfather at that point but he was engaged to be married to a sultry Slovenian model and already had four kids. Now maybe what they say about men is true, that they never really grow up but whatever the reason, this man, who one day in the slightly distant future would seek a career change, gave a mini-TED talk about how celebrity status allows one to sort of make his own rules, even in the troublesome gray area of sexual harassment.

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There was some interesting fallout from the video. The subject at hand was in the midst of a campaign for some obscure political spot and upon release of the tape to NBC, millions of women, decency advocates and members of his own party called for his resignation, saying “Politics has always been known for the highest standards of moral decency. We have already come so far in our attempt to de-objectify and empower women. We cannot have indecency and immaturity occupy positions of great influence.”

And what happened. The subject did not heed the calls to drop out of the race. Instead his popularity eventually surged, including among women, leading pundits to say, “There is something rotten in Denmark, or Moscow, or wherever such an illogical outrage is taking place.”

Speaking of outrages…..

(1) The grass is greener on the other side 

2016, despite its almost universal ennui, led millions, if not billions of people to think the grass was greener on the other side. In fact, with respect to the neighbor’s house, my place actually is because my dog poops on his grass at least twice a day. But the itchy feet syndrome applied to lots of countries and institutions which one would have thought were fairly good with the status quo. I’ll name one in particular – Great Britain.

Brits usually are mild mannered folk who pride themselves on a fondness for decorum, bad food and a restless yet regal disposition. But over the summer, they got to have a national referendum on whether they should remain the captain of a 28 nation confederacy known as the Union of European Nations who have bought into an overpriced system of free borders, excessive membership costs and reduced ATM fees for participating members”. Or something simple like that.

The vote was referred to Brexit which is short for Brexit or Bre-xit, a type of epoxy glue.

The 18 million or so voters were enticed by a rumor that the ballot contained subliminal messages about Kim Kardashian and so on this balmy Wednesday evening in June, they hopped into cars, hoarded onto buses and voted on a choice that would forever change the European landscape and make it harder for Slovenians to travel to England to meet golf course owners for conjugal purposes.

After the vote one voter from a rural province near Manchester said, “I’m glad I got that out of the way. I’m not sure what I just voted on but no matter what, whether we have to leave our country, I just really enjoyed the tea and crumpets the pollsters gave me. And that I voted in favor of repairing London Bridge since my granddaughter keeps telling me it is falling down.

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Another voter, this one from Leeds said, “This was so much fun, I think I will find a way for me and some of my blokes to go vote in the American election too.”

Honorable mention:  (1) Rudy Guliani replaces Deepak Chopra as the world’s foremost transcendental guru, and (2) some minor mixup with an email server belonging to someone somewhere who is somewhat important but the issue hardly got any press. (3) Vladimir Putin, formerly known as Lord Voldemort, decided after meeting an older man on Tinder with some Russian business holdings whose name rhymes with Crump, that he wanted to maintain a long distance but more than platonic relationship with him. He proceeds to hack into the Tinder and other accounts of anyone who dared compete for his secret beau’s attention.

So that’s all folks, just a quick rundown of a slow, painfully monotonous year, a year in which fact triumphed over fiction, unity “trumped” division and certain individuals with big hands and small egos showed just how handy they could be.

It was a year with some sad moments too, especially for fans of Prince, the Cleveland Browns, anyone who prefers the logical side of their brain, and the 9401 candidates who did not win the GOP primary.

The nice thing about seeing this uneventful year come to a close is we are forced to look ahead, to greener pastures and hopefully a return to a little more chaos.

Although I kind of enjoyed the calm.

My only lasting complaint is where was Steve Harvey when he was needed most?

#I’m still with her

One day, I will get over Tuesday’s/Wed. early morning election results, or whatever we want to call this presidential competition. TV wields so much power that I am a little surprised they didn’t just have one last debate on Tuesday, then have the viewership phone in its preference American Idol style.

Besides, I think it would have been good to embarrass the candidates a little; make them each sing their favorite song to get a better sense of their true selves.

Chances are Trump would have gone for “I’m just a Gigolo” or “Born in the USA” while Hillary’s song of choice – a Katy Perry jingle or “Run the World” {Note, I have no idea what the latter song is but upon searching  feminist songs, I found out it was a Beyonce title track)

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But I will get over it one day, likely in about four years. By then senility will have kicked in and I won’t even know how to spell president.

I am a not a Trumpophobe, at least not yet. I just don’t have the slightest clue how the guy pulled off the most notorious political heist in American history but that’s going to take awhile to fully process

For my Republican friends, this may be your jumping off point. But I say read on.

America’s heartland reduced this all-to0-vital election into ridiculous twitter tags, dehumanizing labels and vile caricatures of each candidate. It trivialized the discussion and turned what should have been a pivotal turn in American political history into quite the farce. Good for Saturday Night Live, lousy for the other six days of the week.

Yesterday I was in complete shock. Today a combination of denial, anger, and resignation. Shock because nothing went according to form. Denial that the basis on which the decisions were made seems to have nothing to do with the modern day reality. And resignation, because there is no turning back.

I recognize absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I was a Hillary guy from the time she first ran for president. It takes chutzpah for a woman to aim so high, to try to break into the most powerful old-boys network in the world.

There was something appealing, despite the pants-suit threat to male hegemony and slight Machiavellianism that characterized the Clintons. She was resilient, incredibly self-motivated and followed the old dictum of “speaking softly and carrying a big stick”. In short, she was fearless.

Eventually Obamamania caught fire and Hillary had no chance to defeat him. In retrospect, I’m glad it worked out that way because Obama was the right person at the right time, the right person to bring a combination of hipness, intellectualism and historical precedence to the White House. Obama not only broke the color barrier; he also broke the character barrier.

Fast forward seven years. Hillary, fresh off a successful run as Secretary of State {not an easy task given our existing foreign entanglements and those percolating with the Arab Spring}, becomes the Democratic fan favorite and declares her intentions to follow Obama into the White House by declaring on April 12, 2014. ( Ironically the same day I got married).

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She didn’t make her announcement with a lot of fanfare nor bravado. No outlandish comments. No even mentioning of trying to continue the Clinton legacy. Just quiet assurance that she was more seasoned for  the job.

Trying to become the first female president was a Herculean task. No other female candidate had even come close. Look what happened when Palin and Ferraro were chosen as VP’s.  I’m sure Hillary knew challenges awaited, from within the part and of course, from the right. But there was no way to prepare for the all out guerrilla warfare tactics which awaited.

I could go on and on about the ambush she has endured the last 18 months. Sure politics has become a bloodsport, but that doesn’t imply going for the jugular at all costs to decency.

The smear campaign regarding Benghazi and the email server, email server, email server, email server, email server, email server, brought partisan OCD to a medically untreatable level. In fact, if I ever hear the word email server again in a political discussion, I might have to say revres liame, revres liame, revres liame (dyslexia anyone?) to the tune of “Afternoon Delight” just to cope.

Between the ______  _______, the absurd accusations about her health, Clinton Foundation lies and the taglines mentioned on Twitter, Facebook and other social media forums (not to mention the chants at Trump Rallies), you would have thought Hillary had detonated a nuclear bomb on the entire former Confederate region then organized a worldwide gay parade in the Trump Tower..

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This post, one of the more PG I saw, was written by a 55 year old grandmother from St. Louis

Early this year, she was grilled for 11 hours by the GOP Congressional version of the Justice League, with questions so absurd it made sports reporters look like Einsteins.

Could you imagine being a 35 year public servant and having all your contributions reduced to the label of ‘criminal’, ‘killer’ and ‘bitch’? I could possibly imagine this type of labeling in a 1980’s LA gang war, but on a lifelong professional female, much less one contending for the presidency?

If it takes a feminist to lobby on Hillary’s behalf, then call me a feminist. ” A You’ve Come A long way Baby”, quote Gloria Steinem kind of feminist.

Had the shoe been on the other foot, a male candidate would have his opponent deported, on a merciful day.

No one ever labeled George W. Bush a killer, a criminal or a bastard. At least not a label that stuck. The Iraq war cost us over 4500 American lives and more than 30,000 wounded. But no Democratic candidate ever threatened to put President Bush in jail or “hang the bastard”.

No, we don’t speak of our representatives that way unless they have acted on homicidal tendencies. Even then we show restraint of tongue and pen.

This woman hating, character smearing, distortion of all relevant facts went on for 18 months. Hillary didn’t flinch. She was the subject of not one, but two FBI declarations on her _______  _________ use. Innocent of criminal charges both times, the announcement of the last investigation just 10 days before the election with the resolution coming just last Sunday. If this happened to Trump, he would have sued all registered Democrats and the FBI itself.

When Hillary conceded and gave her post-loss formal speech on Wednesday morning, there was no mention of rigged elections, unfair judicial processes or partisan sabotaging of her right to run on real issues. She didn’t blame the bad polling, the TV distortion, the disgusting level of rhetoric about her character.

She didn’t blame a soul, but rather proudly congratulated her opponent and wished him luck going forward.

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There is no way she would have received the same consideration had she won.

I’m sure Donald Trump loves America. In becoming president-elect, he has fulfilled the American Dream  and may make that dream possible for others if he becomes his old free-thinking self.

But he sure didn’t act the part during his campaign. He was a bully with an axe to grind against anyone by whom he felt threatened.

Hillary, meanwhile, just went about the business of breaking more barriers and stressing ways she planned to serve the greater good.

I probably meant to be more satirical in this blog, but I have severe post-election fatigue. Maybe politics makes us lose our sense of humor, not to mention our marbles.

Or maybe I too have OCD

I just needed to rant.

Besides, I’m still holding my breath with Trump. This Trump 2.0 tour seems a little sketchy.

I like people to be who they are not some well-refined reality TV character.

I guess thats why #I’m Still With Her. She was meant to win the presidency,  not an Academy Award

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When fast is slow!

Yesterday was Yom Kippur and the last of the ten days of awe in the Jewish calendar. As the day of atonement, it is the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar and with a full plate of joy and challenges. Pun intended.

On Yom Kippur, I get to do two of my favorite things – sing Hebrew melodies and spend considerable time in synagogue, reading the English portions of the worship service and pretending I know the Hebrew.

But I am also commanded, or at least encouraged to give up two things I hold even more dear to my heart – working and eating. Yes we Jews, as a form of expiating our sins from the previous year and showing a greater reliance on God-provided strength, must fast from sundown on Kol Nidre (the eve of Yom Kippur) to past sundown the next night.  24 plus hours of devotion without the joy of food.

Needless to say, the fast could not be any more slow.

What’s interesting about Judiasm is how it defines sin. We jews tend to make an art form out of guilt but the theology suggests we should do otherwise. When you get to the synagogue, the first tendency is to thank God the day of atonement is only one day because you are guilty of several of the deadly sins and have a fairly long rap sheet to prove it. But when the action begins, you realize you are atoning for more nebulous and elusive sins, like drinking straight from the carton of OJ, misapplication of pride or joy, neglect of the Sabbath, making premature judgments, on others and ourselves.

So even though the fast doesn’t have to apply to the big kahunas of sinning, there are plenty of subtle acts of omission and commission worth having cleaned from the slate.

Speaking of judgment, don’t judge my food intake by my slender build. I’m one of those people who aside from Bingo and Shuffleboard, really likes to go on cruises because of the around-the-clock buffets. And when I wake up in the middle of the night, it’s first to go down and grab a snack, then use the bathroom.

I know I like eating, but it takes Yom Kippur for me to realize that food is  the cornerstone of my life.

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I was well prepared for yesterday’s fast. At  about 5:45 began the se’udah mafseket ( the Jewish version of the last supper. I started gluttonizing, vacuuming as much pasta, fruit, sushi and other easy to eat foods as I could. By 6:15, I had eaten a Michael Phelps-sized meal and was off to house of prayer to begin the atonement.

The opening night service (Kol Nidre) finished around 8:15 and since it ended on an upbeat melody, I was able to sing my way through the next hour. After doing minor house chores and making calls, I was feeling good. Although I opened the fridge a few times out of habit “I can do this I say to myself… Just sleep and when you wake up, only half a day remains. Just think of all the pizza you can eat.”

But reality delayed is not reality denied.

Sure enough yesterday morning I woke up in a ravenous mood. The bunch of bananas? No such luck. The cereal and pancakes I normally eat? Sorry you can look but  can’t touch. The irony is not lost… On a day when I actually need a ton of energy, when I have to follow along a few hundred pages in the prayerbook then go to cover a hearing on Capitol Hill, no food, no coffee, no nada.

At this point, it’s only 8:30 am and I have at least another 11 hours to go..

Somehow I am able to shower and dress nicely. That alone consumes a huge chunk of my reserve tank. Even before I get to synagogue, the cravings kick in. Oh man, I could just really go for some cheese and crackers, or a hard shelled taco with beans, tomatoes and cheese. How bout some toasted pita with hummus? Grapes, strawberries, chocolate milk! Tuna rolls with just a little bit of soy sauce. And this is just what I want for appetizers

By eleven, some combination of the delirium tremens and anorexia nervosa has set in. I am emotionally and physically waylaid and I haven’t even made it to lunch. Did I just say lunch? Oh for God’s sakes (yes another sin, I used the lord’s name in vain), how can I possibly make it through the day when I normally live meal to meal?

The question seems to have about as many answers as the hearing on the Wells Fargo CEO scandal I just witnessed. But I’m off to synagogue again. Yes misery needs company.

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The hardest part about the morning service, aside from the fact that my eyes are too tired to read the Hebrew ( I have seemingly forgotten how to read Hebrew) is the amount of times we need to stand. Every time I get comfortable it’s back on the feet because ark is opened, we are davening or some other sacred ritual like praying for Curb your Enthusiasm to return. At some point, I start seeing milk duds and freshly baked slices of naan bread careening out of the ark. I make it through the morning service. It’s only 1 pm.

On my way back to the car, the appropriate plot conflicts kick into higher gear. I walk by Chipotle, Whole Foods, two cantinas, a 7-11 and my favorite local place, the House of Falafel. “You know God, I really wasn’t that judgmental. And I donated a bunch of money through Go-Fund-Me drives. How bout just an apple? I’ll only eat half.”

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The interior monologue continues but I let the hunger pangs give me a little bit of tail wind. I have to get to school to finish my news feature.

When I get to class, everyone is either drinking coffee, eating lunch or both. They are smiling. I stare in front of the computer hoping for some sympathy but knowing that is a spiritual no-no. One is not supposed to agonize over nor advertise the fast. I try to write but my narrative seems to make about as much sense as an early-days Elton John song.

By mid afternoon, two preconceptions about myself have been reinforced. One, I’m a masochist at heart. Two, I have a little bit of resolve when I set my mind to something. I also have a better sense of what runners experience when they do marathons. At some point, it’s not even mind over matter;  their selves and bodies have become two separate entities. At this point in the day, my body is on its own. It will have to find a way to make it through the next six hours

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‘It happens to a lot of runners at this stage of the marathon, George. It;s called ‘hitting the wall’…’

I finish the unintelligible paper, my body listens to a lecture and by five I am back at the synagogue.

I make it through the next two hours by thinking about everything imaginable. Actually I pretty much just think about family, food, food, food and how lousy my voice is. I’m a little mad at the Sox for not performing in the playoffs but my love for baseball has an element of sin so I catch myself mid obsession.

The service concludes at 7:30 with the final blowing of the shofar. In Judaism it’s called the Neilah. I call it the mercy blow. While many of the congregants smile,  I’m just trying to stand up straight and remember where I am.

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In the banquet room, we say the prayers for the bread and wine. I can barely utter a word. And then my body and self are re-united. Like a jailbreak, everyone hits the deli line, grabbing foodstuffs one never even considered went together. I ended up with a tuna sandwich on pumpernickel with cucumbers, two types of cheese, tomatoies, falafael, hummus, onions and I think chocolate chip cookies in there somewhere.

I also remember going back for seconds and thirds.

By the time I got home at 9, I scoured the fridge but the eating at home somehow still felt taboo. Maybe we atone for a day, but guilt over pleasures, even daily necessities .lingers,

As I write, I am munching on a bowl of cereal and making pancakes. These ten minutes will likely be the highlight of my day..

In retrospect I’m glad I fasted. It got me to see, once again, how much I enjoy food and how much I take my easy access to it for granted.

Maybe today I’ll buy some food for a homeless guy. I might even try to do another fast sometime soon just to prove I have the willpower.

God knows I’m not up for a marathon