“Howl, howl, howl, howl!”

9 February 2014: Beating Putin With A Schtick!

In a special interview with NBC prior to the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi/Russia, when President Barack Obama was asked by the interviewer if there is any personal rift or animosity between him and President Vladimir Putin, Obama smiled benevolently, then said that Putin’s public style of sitting back and looking a little bored during their joint interviews is just his “schtick.”  Have we ever had an American president use this word before in reference to another head of state?  For the uninitiated, “schtick” is a yiddish word for “a comic mannerism or eccentricity.”  Was this a coded message from President Obama that, whatever else Russia decides to do in the Middle East, America will always be Israel’s friend and ally?

In any case, as NBC coverage of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi/Russia continued on Friday night, with Putin sitting on the stage behind him, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said:  “Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity. Therefore, I say to the political  leaders of the world — thank you for supporting your athletes. They are the best ambassadors of your country. Please respect their Olympic Message of goodwill, of tolerance, of excellence and of peace. Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful, direct political dialogue and not on the backs of the athletes.”

To his credit, Putin did not jump up and rip off his shirt and smack down the IOC president for daring to hint at Russia’s new legislation against gays and lesbians.  Putin stuck to his “schtick” and merely looked bored even as the whole world watched Vladimir Putin’ On The Ritz.  Most impressively, he managed to put on a straight face when all the ephemeral Russian ballet dancers danced gayly to Tchaikovsky’s music—Tchaikovsky, a homosexual who was well-known for cruising the streets of St. Petersburg at night in search of male partners.  And, I imagine, back in the day (or night), a nut cracking good time was had by all.

In his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Obama also referred to the issue of diversity in America, and lack of diversity in Russia, and how everyone in America will be watching proudly as “the red, white and blue bring home the gold.”  At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, during their award ceremonies, our African-American athletes raised their black-gloved fists in proud solidarity.  What will our LGBT athletes do when it is their moment in Sochi?  In recent years, the LGBT community has reclaimed the use of the word “queer.”  Isn’t it time now to reclaim our limp wrists?  Wouldn’t be wondrous to see our LGBT athletes dancing lightly around the podium in their loafers, then claiming their medals and raising their limp wrists?  Will Vladimir Putin be able to stick to his “schtick” when that mighty moment comes?

5 January 2014: I’m 490 Years Old!!!

Although I’m snowed in today in Lawrence, Kansas, I’m grateful for all the birthday greetings I’ve received, thanks probably to the fact that Facebook seems to have alerted all my friends even though I thought I had deleted the information about my bidet some time ago.  Anyway, I spent the day bundled up cozily with KeeWee, the love of my life, and together we watched new productions back-to-back (on DVD) of traditional holiday fare like DIE FLEDERMAUS, THE MAGIC FLUTE and, of course, THE NUTCRACKER.  KeeWee is absolutely astonished that, in dog years, I am now 490 years old!!!  It doesn’t get better than that.

22 October 2013: Republican Tour-de-Force at K.U.

While I am frequently tempted to write Letters to the Editor, I mostly just compose the letters in my mind, and never actually send them to the local newspaper.  But, a couple of days ago, upon reading in The Lawrence Journal-World that Republican legislators in Kansas were planning to tour university campuses in the state to see what more they can do to undo the state of higher education, I yielded to temptation and sent off the following letter, which the paper actually published today:

“With regard to the Journal-World report that Republican legislators like Susan Wagle would like to ‘start touring universities this week in preparation for the 2014 session,’ I would like to suggest that their Kansas University tour begin at Memorial Stadium, to see if additional funding can revive our dying football program, and end at Pioneer Cemetery on Mount Oread, to see if further defunding can keep the Ghosts of Professors Past from rising from their unhappy graves at Halloween to remind us of days gone by, when KU prided itself as Harvard on the Kaw.”

4 April 2013: No Gun Left Behind

In order to make schools safer, the National Rifle Association wants all teachers and administrators to buy guns and undergo special training so they can be ready to stop the likelihood of Newtown ever happening again.  But why stop with teachers and administrators?  In the State of Kansas, for example, if you’re fourteen years old, you can get a learner’s permit to drive a car.  So why not give our teenagers a learner’s permit to shoot firearms so they can protect themselves in case their teachers and administrators aren’t around?  And, while we’re at it, why not give a learner’s permit to anyone who’s at least six years old?  How many of those little kids at Newton died unnecessarily because they only played with fake guns when they could have had real ones?  How many of them would be alive today if their mothers had packed some small hand guns in their lunch boxes, or maybe some tiny assault weapons in their gym bags?  The NRA has the perfect solution:  Let. No. Gun. Be. Left. Behind.

3 December 2012: No Babies, Please, We’re Gringos!

The New York Times reports that, according to the Pew Research Center, U.S. birthrates in 2011 hit the lowest rate ever recorded, with just 63 births per 1000 women of childbearing age (the rate was 71 per 1000 in 1990).  For the first time in recent memory, Americans are having fewer babies than the French or British.  What are the reasons for this?  Well, it’s possible that, thanks perhaps to Ayn Rand and “The Virtue of Selfishness,”  sybaritic young Americans would rather splurge on themselves, and not on those proverbial “bundles of joy.”   Or, it’s also possible that, with same-sex marriage being the in-thing among young people, they are all gayly cohabiting with mirror-images of themselves; and if they want children, why, they can always adopt from the expanding pool of unwanted babies resulting from rape or incest among pro-life forces on the religious right.

It puzzles me why Republicans are having such a problem with immigration reform.  Most Hispanics are Roman Catholic who obey the Pope, who do not practice birth control, and who therefore continue to have more children than their white neighbors.  It would be logical to assume that Latino kids would grow up thanking the Republicans that they were conceived and born, that they would all go on to vote Republican, and yet this has not happened.  Turning against the Dream Act has turned out to be a nightmare for the GOP, resulting in the overwhelming Latino vote for Barack Obama last November.

I’m not sure which ethnic group is having more sex, but it’s the Latinos, the Blacks and the Asians who are having more babies, babies who will grow up to work and pay into the system that will keep social security secure for all the American generations yet to come.  Dream on, People of Color, dream on.  But, above all, continue to increase and multiply.

29 November 2012: White House Hosts BIG LOVE Lunch

President Barack Obama has graciously invited Mitt Romney to have lunch privately with him today at the White House, and the press is not privy to what the two men will talk about, nor even to what they will ingest and digest.  Now, more than ever, we need a secret video of the event.  Are the wives included?  Can a BIG LOVE lunch be complete without the wives?  We also need to know if, in this instance, given Romney’s religion, whether places have been set at table for all of the Republican Mormon’s baptized ancestors.  More importantly, will Top Dog Bo dare to be anywhere near Mitt to beg for table scraps?  As for refreshments, will the beer-drinking Obama abstain from alcoholic beverages in deference to his teetotal, Tea Party-leaning guest, or will the President indulge in a celebratory cocktail or two?  If so, what will Barry imbibe?  Take your pick—whiskey sour, vodka stinger, Blue Angel, Red Devil, Swiss Fizz, Cayman Island Cooler—all made with liquors which are at least 47% proof, of course.  And afterwards, will caffeine be served with dessert?  And will the President light up one last stick of nicotine before the two men say their goodbyes?

Beau geste has never been so beau, nor so difficult politically.

30 August 2012: Having a Beer with Two Dubyas

While most people know that the “W” in George W. Bush is for “Walker,” it is not as well known that the “W” in W. Mitt Romney is for “Willard.”  By some weird coincidence, there are two movies available which are called “Walker,” and another two which are called “Willard.”  I’ve seen all of them.

The first “Walker” (1987) is an absorbing drama in which Ed Harris plays the 19th-century American mercenary leader who became the President of Nicaragua, and the second “Walker” is a television series (1993-2001) in which Chuck Norris is a martial artist who battles crime all over Texas.

The first “Willard” (1971) gives us Bruce Davison as the eponymous loner, an awkward misfit who befriends two rats whom he names Ben and Socrates.  When Socrates is killed by Willard’s employer, a man who stole the business years ago from Willard’s father, Willard goes on a rampage by summoning an army of rats to do his bidding.  The movie was so successful, it was remade in 2003 with Crispin Glover as the creepy Willard.

So, what it comes down to is this.  Which Dubya would you rather have a beer with, Walker or Willard?

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are conspicuously absent at the Republican Convention in Tampa; in their place, we are being shown the awkward Willard Mitt Romney in the bromance of his life with the Socratic Paul Ryan loyally by his side.  But, for how much longer?  When the going gets tough, do Republicans go shopping?  Or, like rats, will they turn on one another?  Wait, didn’t we already see this movie during the Republican primaries?  Will it be remade and released in time for the November elections?

27 August 2012: Tampering with Isaac in Tampa

In the Old Testament, when Abraham was already a hundred years old and his wife Sarah was also way past her childbearing years, God granted them their most fervent wish, a son who would be a comfort to them in their old age.  They named him Isaac, the same Isaac whom God would later command Abraham to sacrifice on an altar as proof of his faith.  When Abraham obediently raised his knife to slaughter the helpless child, God needed no further proof of Abraham’s faith, and the boy was spared.  The Bible tells us Isaac himself lived to the ripe old age of 180, making him the oldest patriarch in the Old Testament.

And now, more than two thousand years later, Isaac lives on in other ways.  Today, the good news from meteorologists is that HURRICANE ISAAC will spare Tampa, Florida, thus saving the Republican Convention. All the festivities being planned this week by the Grand Old Party for its millionaires and billionaires will proceed smoothly, without any further threat of hell or high water. Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Oak Ridge Boys can serenade all the elephantine high-rollers as scheduled, with impunity.

So, how did all this come about?  This time around, what sort of sacrifice did the God of the Evangelical Right demand from faithful devotees like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, and Paul Ryan?  What were these God-fearing Republicans willing to sacrifice to get their political pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?  Assuming, of course, that the Republican rainbow has nothing to do with people of color or, worse, those abominable homosexuals who want to marry each other in the name of love.

As for anyone living these days to the ripe old age of 180, you might as well forget it, not without Medicare and Medicaid, not if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get their way.

15 August 2012: Zac Efron Gets Baptized by Nicole Kidman

Hollywood insiders are gushing over the news that Nicole Kidman urinates on Zac Efron in THE PAPERBOY, a movie due out in October, but which won’t be available for streaming until much later.

Poor Zac.  What effrontery.  For the ex-HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL star’s sake, I hope the baptism is accompanied by a good sprinkling of songs, perhaps a gleeful mash-up of “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan, “Rhythm of the Rain” by the Cascades, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J. Thomas, “Don’t Rain On My Parade” by Barbra Streisand, “Rainy Day Women” by Bob Dylan, “Red River Valley” by Marty Robbins, “River of No Return” by Marilyn Monroe, “Golden Slumbers” by The Beatles, and anything by Muddy Waters or Pee Wee King.

12 August 2012: Where’s Elton John?

The list of British entertainers who will be featured in the closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London tonight is very long indeed—featuring, among others, The Spice Girls, The Who, The Pet Shop Boys, Annie Lenox, George Michael, Muse, Ed Sheeran, Fatboy Slim, Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Emeli Sande, the Kaiser Chiefs, Paul McCartney (again), Ray Davies of The Kinks, surviving members of Queen.  Speaking of which….

Where’s Elton John?  He was conspicuously absent in the opening ceremonies two weekends ago, and he’s conspicuously absent now in the closing ceremonies.  Might it be possible that the very high-profile Sir John is still too closely identified with the tragic Princess Diana? Did the mean Queen agree to be a Bond Girl only if What’s-His-Name is made a Non-Person at The Games?  If so, then the Olympic Torch has been reduced to nothing more than just a candle in the wind.