“Howl, howl, howl, howl!”

30 October 2009: Halloween, Part One

Students at the University of Kansas frequently tell me that, on first meeting me, they find me intimidating and scary.  And so, with Halloween coming up, I guess there is no need for me to look for Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, Michele Bachmann, Joe Lieberman, or Liz and Dick Cheney “two-for-the-price-of-one”  face masks.  I’ll just simply be myself and let people see what they want to see—The Bruised Lee! The Jackie-o’-Chantern! The Fulsome Manchu! The Inscrutable Asian! The Yellow Peril!  BOO!

28 October 2009: Joe Lieberman, Pray For Us!

So who says Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, has no loyalty when it comes to how he’ll vote on health care reform if it includes a public option? He’s loyal to all the insurance companies in Connecticut who have been contributing to his campaign funds for as long as he has been in politics.

“Let my people go,” Moses said to the Pharaoh in Egypt, just before all those plagues hit the fan.  But where will the people go now if they get sick and they don’t have health insurance?  Will there be a mass Exodus to Canada, or will we wander for another forty years in the American desert with Joe Lieberman?

27 October 2009: Levi Johnston Unzips For Christmas!

The Huffington Post reports that Levi Johnston, the 19-year-old stud muffin who fathered Sarah Palin’s illegitimate grandson, has been hitting the gym in Anchorage three hours a day, six nights a week.  He’s getting ready for his huge unveiling in Playgirl magazine.  The shoot is scheduled to take place in mid-November, so the pictures will be out in time for Christmas.  Right now, only Santa knows for sure whether Levi will be naughty or nice, but it’s been confirmed that the pictures are “90% certain to be full-frontal nudity.”   This could turn out to be the perfect stocking stuffer for the holidays, unless Levi himself turns out to be stuffed with stockings.  Unzippity doo dah!

26 October 2009: Speak English…Or Else!

Dallas police officers issued 38 citations in the past three years to drivers not only for traffic violations but also because they were “non-English speaking.”  It isn’t clear from the news report exactly what these traffic violations were, and why knowledge of English might be important or even crucial.  Perhaps the drivers could not decipher the meaning of the words, “Slower traffic must use the right lane.”   Or maybe they saw but did not understand the sign, crossing the border into the United States, which said, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” 

At the Jesuit elementary school I attended in Manila, we were not allowed to speak anything but English while we were on school grounds.  Kids who snitched on their classmates caught speaking Tagalog or Spanish or Chinese were rewarded 25 centavos for every name they turned in, and those among us who were “on the list” got our palms smacked publicly by the priests.  Under this system, we all learned to speak English, quickly, but to this day I don’t know whether to thank or curse those priests from my childhood.  My guess is that they all left the priesthood, got married and moved to Texas, had children and grandchildren who are now all police officers in Dallas.

25 October 2009: Movies About Dead White Women

The Sunday New York Times lists recent bio-pics which have been made about Dead White Women, among them Julia Child, Edith Piaf, Amelia Earhart, Fanny Brawne, Coco Chanel, Virginia Woolf, Queen Victoria.  On the planning stage are movies about Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin.  I could add a great many other worthy subjects to the list but, fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon your point of view, they aren’t dead yet.

16 October 2009: The Kansas Hall of Shame

According to the morning paper, Kansas Republican State. Rep. Bill Otto ranted for nearly three minutes against President Obama at a recent legislative meeting, then later posted a YouTube video of himself  singing an anti-Obama “Redneck Rap” while wearing a hat that said, “OPOSSUM, the other dark meat.”  At the end of his song, Otto points to his hat and says again, “Opossum, the other dark meat.  A little greasy, but hey…”   OTTO.  That’s a Germanic name, isn’t it?  I guess the less said about that, the better.  One can make a joke of it, say that the man OTTO RESIGN. Or, at the very least, EAT CROW.  We now add his name to THE KANSAS HALL OF SHAME.  That’s BILL OTTO up there, right next to Kansas Republican Congresswoman LYNN “Great White Hope” JENKINS. And, of course, the irreverend FRED PHELPS of Topeka’s Wasteboro Church.

14 October 2009: Snowe Job

After months of being wooed, Sen. Olympia Snowe was the only Republican lawmaker who voted in committee yesterday for a Democratic health care bill.  But, quite disingenuously, she told the press that her vote yesterday was her vote yesterday, and that there is no guarantee this is how she will vote again when the bill finally comes up before Congress.  Am I the only one who thinks that Olympia Snowe looks like Margaret Hamilton?  The gangly 62-year-old Senator may be from Maine, but I’m afraid she’s really the Wicked Witch of the West in disguise.  “Surrender, Democrats!”

13 October 2009: Rewriting History in Laramie, Wyoming

Last night’s staged reading of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, an Epilogue in 150 theatres all over America and around the world (I attended the one presented by Kansas City Repertory Theatre) had several recurring themes.  First, the citizens of Laramie want to put the murder of Mattthew Shepard behind them; many of them are now also saying that what happened was not a hate crime but “a drug deal gone bad.”  Second, when members of Moises Kaufman’s Tectonic Theatre Project interviewed the students at the University of Wyoming on October 12th, the eleventh anniversary of Shepard’s brutal killing, many of them were genuinely clueless and asked, “Matthew Who?”

It’s sad, but why am I not surprised by this? After all, don’t we have people like Dick Cheney also attempting to rewrite the history of what went on in America during his watch?  I don’t think we have to wait ten years before our students start asking—“Dick Who?” “Waterboarding What?” “Since When?” “Guantanomo Where?” “Why Bother?”

9 October 2009: Moon Over Afghanistan

President Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize on the same day that NASA blows up the moon.  It’s a peaceful way of saying, “Today the Moon, Tomorrow Kabul!”  Everyone knows we can do it, nobly, so there is no need to send in more troops to Afghanistan.  Or is this just wishful thinking? Sheer lunacy?  “Shine on…Shine on…Harvest Moon!”