Thursday, November 4, 2004

Off to Beertown.

Sometimes my spam filter works too well. I tried to post a comment in the thread below and got banned -- from my own blog! So here it is, and we can continue the discussion. Danny said I misjudged evangelicals, and I replied:

Danny, I won't claim that all evangelicals are contemptuous of Jews, nor will I deny that many feel they owe something to God's chosen. But it's hard to square the foundational belief of Biblical literalism -- the "I am the way, the truth and the light" part -- with this sort of crunchy-granola idea of a Heaven where Jews and Christians live together in perfect harmony. Remember, the Bible gives these folks All The Answers.

I strongly recommend a wonderful book, "The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount," by Gershom Gorenberg. It's a fast, fascinating read, and should fill in a lot of gaps in all but the most scrupulously informed American's knowledge of Israel and the issues surrounding it. You can read an excerpt online, and I think it's the first chapter, "Cattlemen of the Apocalypse," about Texas ranchers who are trying to breed a red heifer, the kickoff event in the chain leading up to the battle of Armageddon. I recall a line from one American fundy preacher: "The Jews think they're in a three-act play. We know the play has four acts." The fourth, of course, is the one where the unsaved are pitched into the fires of hell and only Jesus' people enter the kingdom of heaven.

My previous comment was a bit rant-y, and I'm sorry if anyone was offended. But I had just read a WSJ story about the get-out-the-vote effort in Ohio, where one of the suburban soccer moms beating the bushes for Bush said, "Thank goodness sanity and morality prevailed." Sanity and morality -- ground she claimed for her side alone. It made me feel...unChristian.

-----

And with that, I'm outta here for a few days. The fabulous Deb is hitting the midcentury mark, and we're all gathering to lift a few pops, eat, dance and -- because we're all nearing, at or past the midcentury mark -- fall into bed before midnight. Also, Alan's making a pork tenderloin downstairs, and the aroma has reached the room where I'm sitting now. You know those cartoons where the aroma forms a beckoning hand, and you're carried along by it? It's like that.

So: Pork tenderloin, a party with friends and the certain knowledge that pendulums do swing after all -- I think that's enough for me to start the weekend. See you back here Sunday evening, unless the hotel has free wireless internet, in which case maybe I'll upload some party snaps over the weekend. Don't bet on it, though.

(Oh, and I finally saw "The Wire" last night. So if you want to discuss that, feel free. Some day I have to sit down and send David Simon and all his writers a long fan letter complimenting them on how well they capture the essential mystery of masculinity, week after week, year after year. I guess that's what this is, though.)

Posted at 06:02 PM | Comments (12)

Saying something nice...

This is the nice way of saying it:

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad. I respect that moral energy, but wish that Democrats could find a way to tap it for different ends.

And this is the mean way:

There are some who would say that I sound bitter, that now is the time for healing, to bring the nation together. Let me tell you a little story. Last night, I watched the returns come in with some friends here in Los Angeles. As the night progressed, people began to talk half-seriously about secession, a red state / blue state split. The reasoning was this: We in blue states produce the vast majority of the wealth in this country and pay the most taxes, and you in the red states receive the majority of the money from those taxes while complaining about 'em. We in the blue states are the only ones who've been attacked by foreign terrorists, yet you in the red states are gung ho to fight a war in our name. We in the blue states produce the entertainment that you consume so greedily each day, while you in the red states show open disdain for us and our values. Blue state civilians are the actual victims and targets of the war on terror, while red state civilians are the ones standing behind us and yelling "Oh, yeah!? Bring it on!"

More than 40% of you Bush voters still believe that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. I'm impressed by that, truly I am. Your sons and daughters who might die in this war know it's not true, the people in the urban centers where al Qaeda wants to attack know it's not true, but those of you who are at practically no risk believe this easy lie because you can. As part of my concession speech, let me say that I really envy that luxury. I concede that.

Healing? We, the people at risk from terrorists, the people who subsidize you, the people who speak in glowing and respectful terms about the heartland of America while that heartland insults and excoriates us... we wanted some healing. We spoke loud and clear. And you refused to give it to us, largely because of your high moral values. You knew better: America doesn't need its allies, doesn't need to share the burden, doesn't need to unite the world, doesn't need to provide for its future. Hell no. Not when it's got a human shield of pointy-headed, atheistic, unconfrontational breadwinners who are willing to pay the bills and play nice in the vain hope of winning a vote that we can never have. Because we're "morally inferior," I suppose, we are supposed to respect your values while you insult ours. And the big joke here is that for 20 years, we've done just that.

I know it's childish. I know it's counterproductive. I know it doesn't represent...healing. But at the moment? I'm feeling mean.

Posted at 04:04 AM | Comments (17)

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Well, bleah.

You miss so much on this shift. For the first time in my adult life, I missed most of both conventions, huge chunks of the Olympics, and last Sunday's post-time-change episode of "The Wire," which is why there's no open thread this week, because I'm still trying to find it at a time I can enjoy it without seriously impeding my performance the following day. (Yes, I need to get TiVo. I also need my local Comcast affiliate to get cracking with making HBO On Demand available here.)

Of course I missed the election-night coverage, except for the part featuring Indiana, which even Kate got to see, because we're always the first state called -- always for the GOP. (You can read more about that in this publication.) Fortunately, though, there were still hours and hours of coverage to enjoy after I rose to begin the post-election shift at 4 a.m. (Just so you understand, that means I rose at 3:15, which is so early you can't even call it early. It's just the middle of the damn night.

Election-night and post-election shifts in the newspaper business are traditionally rewarded with company-paid food, and there was no shortage of grub today, including several welcome tankards of designer coffee.

It helped ease the pain, but as for cogent thoughts, I'm feeling a bit wrung-out and empty.

So how's this? Someone asked me if I could revive NN.C's "On the Nightstand" feature, just so they could see what I'm reading, because it's so, so interesting, I imagine. That question I'll have to take up with the web guy, but I can tell you what I'm reading now: "The Plot Against America," Philip Roth's new novel. It's an "alternate history," one of those stories that asks, "What if this had happened, and not that? What might have happened afterward?" He imagines a 1940s-era America that elects as president not Franklin Roosevelt, but Charles Lindbergh.

Well, it's quite excellent. You can imagine why I'm finding it, oh, resonant.

I won't bore you with a lot of whining. I wouldn't read it from the other side if things had turned out differently. I'm just going to take a nap and read a little more, and see you back here later.

Posted at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

Monday, November 1, 2004

Bird's eye.

vince.jpg

I'm real busy again today, so I'm hoping you'll let me get away with a little bit of a blow-off. Depending on when you're reading this, the election is either a) hours away; or b) ongoing, and frankly, if you're anything like me, you'll welcome the distraction. Today I offered odds on Election Day: 15-1 for gunfire in an American polling place, and 8-1 on physical battery. Those odds are no longer available, I regret to say, but I'm eager to be proven wrong in my low expectations of the American people.

So here's a lovely distraction: Fabulous fellow Fellow Vince Patton checked in the other day. You can see from the picture what Vince does for a living -- he reports for KGW-TV in Portland, Ore., lately on the coveted volcano beat. What you may not know is that he's a very talented amateur photographer, and he took his camera along on his last few flyovers. Here's to a TV news chopper being used for something other than a freeway chase in southern California! And the pictures are gorgeous. (Hint: Follow the links on the top of that page to pix of our trip to Argentina last year. ...NN.C trivia note: KGW's 8 logo was designed by JCBD, designer of the blog you're lookin' at. I have such glamorous friends.)

OK, some quick bloggage: Gene Weingarten on a non-voter in Michigan. Choice passage:

The presidential appearance had been all over the news in Muskegon for more than a week, but Ted hadn't heard about it until the day before, and only because someone told him. He doesn't read the papers much, except for NASCAR results and sometimes the classifieds. On TV, for information, he watches the Weather Channel or the farm reports.

It was a nice day. As Ted wielded his hammer, something amazing happened, something that a hack writer -- an abuser of cliches searching for a perfect moment soaked in irony and pregnant with meaning -- would not dare make up. Air Force One roared directly overhead.

Ted didn't even look up. Because, when it comes to politics, as Ted will tell you himself, he just doesn't give a rat's ass.

It gets better.

Happy Election Day. Vote early, and vote peacefully.

Update: More Gene Weingarten. Read. Obey.

Posted at 04:46 PM | Comments (2)

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Endless Halloween.

kittylantern.jpg

threekids.jpg

I say it every year, but it bears repeating: My street is to Halloween what Bourbon Street is to Mardi Gras. This year I bought 13 bags of Reese's Cups, Starburst, Skittles and Snickers, and it lasted just a bit longer than 90 minutes. We had the full gamut -- adorable toddlers in ladybug costumes to sullen teenagers in no costume at all -- plus a few never-before-seen visitors. My favorite: A mother so morbidly obese she could only navigate in an electric scooter. Way to teach good health habits, mom!

But it is my street, and I'm glad of it. Halloween is fun. To repeat: Halloween is fun! Pass it on. Alan took Kate to Defiance (Ohio, his hometown) last night for that city's Halloween parade. It lasted an hour and 40 minutes, which is no small parade. Bands, floats, the works -- she came home exhausted, with her trick-or-treat bucket nearly full. Pawing through it, I found two are-you-saved religious tracts, presented comic-book style for children. I confess: It made me say goddamnit. Alan said they were passed out by parade-goers dressed as the Grim Reaper. If evangelicals disapprove of Halloween, OK, fine. Sit at home watching Pat Robertson while disappointed children ring your doorbell; that's your choice. But don't come out to rain on my kid's parade. To her, and to virtually everybody else in the world except you folks, it's an excuse to a) get dressed up; b) get a lot of candy; and c) stay out after dark. That's it. OK? That's all it is. Jesus wouldn't approve of people who ruin children's harmless fun -- really, He told me so. "Tell those people to stop being such pills." His exact words.

He doesn't just talk to Mel Gibson and Jerry Falwell, you know.

OK, then. We allowed Kate to have a "Halloween party" before trick-or-treat, with restrictions, i.e, six guests tops, and a 60-minute duration. It was a blast. Doughnuts, cider, games, outta here. The highlight was the apple-bobbing, plus the blast out the door to start the trick-or-treating, when everyone ran across the street to the neighbors', who had their dog out in the yard in her costume: Prison stripes, plus an old-style prison pillbox emblazoned BAD DOG. That's my neighborhood. We know how to have fun.

(By the way, thanks, Connie, for the tip on the glue-on hem strip. Saved my bacon. NN.C readers are the best. You can see how the dress turned out, more or less. Kate likes the batwings best. So do I.)

Bloggage:

My alma mater, the Columbus Dispatch, published their latest presidential poll. They charge for content, so I'll just give you the gist here:

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are tied at just less than 50 percent in a new Dispatch Poll. How close is this matchup? Kerry leads by a mere eight votes out of 2,880 ballots returned in the mail survey the tightest margin ever in a final Dispatch Poll.

Lest you be fooled by the non-New York Times-ishness of this newspaper, don't be. The poll has a good track record, and was one of the few to predict the enormity of the Reagan landslide in 1980.

As my colleague Bob said the other day, "Who's ready for a 30-day election night?"

I hope you are -- you're getting one.

Happy Halloween!

Posted at 07:11 PM | Comments (7)

Welcome

This is my personal website. I used to say it wasn't a blog, but I can't say that anymore, can I? I still think of it as a one-sided few minutes over coffee that we can have every morning. On this page you'll find a daily journal entry, a picture and the occasional rant. The rest of the site is a look into my desk drawers, so to speak. It's self-explanatory. Have fun, tell your friends and stop back -- I update every weekday. -- N.

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