“Howl, howl, howl, howl!”

12 September 2011: Giving a Stranger a Hug on 9/11

Yesterday evening, being utterly exhausted from watching the heart-breaking non-stop TV-coverage of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, some friends and I decided to take a break by attending a wonderful non-9/11 “celebration of music and art from the 17th to 19th centuries” in the central court of the Spencer Museum of Art  on the KU campus. We had great seats on the front row, and we were in for a real treat. On hand were two superb artists from the KU School of Music, vocalist Genaro Mendez, accompanied on the piano by Robert Hiller, in a concert of songs by Purcell, Beethoven, Liszt, and Tosti.

Moments before the concert began, I noticed that the dapper-looking gentleman in his 60’s sitting on my right, who seemed to be saving a couple of seats to his right, kept turning his head to look at other folks who were arriving for the concert.  Trying to make chit-chat, I smiled and asked him, “Are you waiting for friends?”

“No,” he replied woefully, “I have no friends.”

“Oh, you poor man,” I mumbled sympathetically.  “Would you like a hug?”

His face broke out in a smile, so I reached over and hugged him.  Then I heard someone laughing behind us.  I turned to look.  It was Joyce Castle, the opera singer, now also on the music faculty at KU. “You should hug him back,” she said to the stranger I had just hugged.  Which he did, promptly. And then the wonderful concert began.

At the reception following the concert, someone told me that the dapper-looking stranger whom I had hugged so spontaneously, and who had hugged me back with equal enthusiasm, was Shade Little, the husband of KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

And that’s how I will choose to remember September 11, 2011.


4 September 2011: Camouflage Diapers For Babies!

As a former advertising man, I’m intrigued by the announcement that Huggies is offering a new line of camouflage diapers. Since babies don’t buy their own diapers, I find myself wondering which adults are being targeted in groceries and supermarkets to purchase this specialty item—Aggressive military recruitment officers eager to catch them while they’re still in the cradle?  New mothers whose husbands are deployed everywhere around the world where America has troops?  Our hawkish leaders in Congress who voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to give as gifts to all their expectant constituents?  Or maybe anyone in America who still believes in the rallying cry from the flower children to “make love, not war,” and to “give peace a chance”?  After all, there’s no camouflaging what diapers are for, and that’s to catch and collect shit so that we can dispose of the shit as cleanly and efficiently as possible without soiling ourselves. “Shit on War” or “Poop for Peace,” take your pick.  I’m just glad Huggies is not making Stars-and-Stripes diapers.  Not yet, anyway.

30 August 2011: Is Michele Bachmann’s God Laughing?

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota now claims she was just kidding when she said Hurricane Irene and the earthquake centered in Virginia last week were a warning from God to politicians.

“Of course I was being humorous when I said that,” the comical presidential candidate laughed reassuringly. “I am a person who loves humor. I have a great sense of humor.”

The religious congresswoman ought to be more careful with her jokes.  There is no evidence whatsoever in the Bible that her God has a sense of humor.  The last thing she wants to find are lice in her big new hairdo, or for it to start raining frogs in her home state of Minnesota, just two of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, according to the Book of Leviticus.

Be afraid, Michele. Be very afraid.



27 August 2011: Placenta for Dinner!

First, there was news that “Baby Gaga,” a specialty ice cream made from mothers’ breast milk, was selling like, if you’ll pardon the expression, hot cakes, at The Icecreamist store in London.  And now, according to “The Placenta Cookbook,” an article in this week’s New York magazine, “For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.”

One woman is quoted thus:  “When I was pregnant, I just craved organs. I’d go to Diner (a Williamsburg restaurant) and order beef hearts, marrow…so the placenta just made sense.  After I gave birth, I threw a chunk of placenta in the Vitamix with coconut water and a banana.  It gave me the wildest rush.”

When is cannibalism not cannibalism?  Also, one wonders, what next?  Tossed salads garnished not with bacon bits but with crispy foreskins from routine circumcisions?  Pate made from stomach lint? Energy drinks flavored with salt from one’s own sweat?  Some dogs have been known to eat their own fecal matter.  Perhaps we can learn something from Man’s Best Friend.  Waste not, want not.

24 August 2011: Moms Need Mars!

Here’s good news for unemployed moms in Kansas who are looking for work.

Mars Chocolate is building a new $250 million candy factory south of Topeka which is expected to create about 200 permanent full-time jobs in northeast Kansas. The plant, which will produce M&Ms and Snickers candies, is the first new chocolate factory Mars has built in 35 years. Calorie production should begin in 2013, and Mars officials say the project has the potential to create nearly 1000 direct and indirect jobs in Kansas, including temporary jobs relating to the factory construction and building supplies.

In other related news, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment Bureau for Children, Youth and Families has just released a study which indicates that the prevalence of obesity among adults in Kansas has increased by almost 70 percent since 1992. More than one in five adult Kansans are now obese, and almost three in five (including children) are at least overweight.

Okay, don’t snicker. But I bet the new working moms in Topeka will be bringing home more than just their fat paychecks once the factory is in full production.  Along with extra pocket change, how about fringe benefits like sacks full of M&Ms for the chubby kids to snack on while they’re playing their favorite video games?

19 August 2011: The Logic to Brownback’s Madness

Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has just signed into law three controversial measures related to his own personal religious anti-abortion beliefs.  This, in the wake of his shutting down not just planned parenthood clinics in Kansas, but also the Kansas Arts Commission, and the SRS office in Lawrence.  Additionally, let’s not forget his raising the speed limit on Kansas interstate highways from 70 to 75 mph, plus the persistent rumor that he intends to get rid of the mandatory seat belt law in Kansas because it’s just one more sign of Big Government intervention in the lives of private citizens.

Well, I’ve decided that there’s good logic to Gov. Brownback’s seeming madness.  If getting rid of planned parenthood and abortion in Kansas increases the population and thus also the poverty-level of Kansans, leading to more Kansans in need of Social and Rehabilitation Services, then the figures will all even out after you factor in the number of Kansans who will speedily speed to their deaths (with or without their seat belts on) while getting away with driving 80 mph under the new 75 mph limit.

Of course, that’s just physical mortality.  So, what about the arts and art education?  Forget it.  In dire economic times, the arts are luxuries.  No need to feed the soul when bodies need to be fed first. Plant wheat, corn and soybeans. Raise pigs, cows and chickens.  Chairman Mao had the same idea for China back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and look where they are now. The Chinese own America, so now they can afford to enjoy the artistic fruits of our democracy. What’s good enough for the Chinese should be good enough for Kansans.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you:  BROWNBACK’S LITTLE RED BOOK FOR BLEEDING KANSAS.

11 August 2011: Eat the Rich!

According to Dr. Philip Kramer, director of the Caribbean program for the Nature Conservancy, a good way to take care of problematic invasive species like the lionfish, Asian carp and European green crabs, is to find another predatory species that will eat them to extinction. And that means you and me.  “Humans are the most ubiquitous predators on earth,” says Dr. Kramer.  “Instead of eating something like shark fin soup, why not eat a species that is causing harm and, with your meal, make a positive contribution?”

This, too, may be a solution for all our current economic woes in America.  When the starving unemployed masses in America can no longer put food on the table, they can always look to the millionaires and billionaires whose tax cuts the Republicans in Congress are trying to protect. Eat the rich. That’s true trickle down econo-meals.

Stephen Sondheim was way ahead of his time when he wrote about all this in one of his musicals. For recipes on how to prepare a rich array of meat pies, consult Mrs. Lovett’s cookbook in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

4 August 2011: Obama’s Twelve Apostles

As President Obama turns 50 today, leaders in Congress have all of two weeks to choose the twelve legislators (from within their divisive political parties) who will become members of The Super Committee that will recommend further deficit and debt reduction ideas by November.  The sanctified twelve will be made up of three House Democrats, three Senate Democrats, three House Republicans, and three Senate Republicans.

In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus chose his own twelve apostles.  President Obama does not get to do this, so we are all waiting to see who gets to be Simon Peter, Simon the Zealot, James the Greater, James the Less, John, Andrew, Thomas, Thaddeus, Philip, Bartholomew and, of course, Matthew the Tax Collector, who will be in charge of increasing and collecting revenue from people making more than $250,000 a year.

But, wait.  That’s only eleven out of the twelve.  These days, frequently being in denial, I neglected to mention the most important apostle of all—Judas Iscariot, who will betray President Obama for 30 pieces of silver from Wall Street.  Now, who could that be?

2 August 2011: Steve Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

According to figures released recently by TechCrunch, during the third quarter of 2011, thanks to the public’s love affair with the iPhone and the iPad, Apple now has $75,876 billion in cash on-hand, while the U.S. government has only $73,768 billion.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, as John McCain wrongly believed, these American products were actually made in America?  But, sadly, being the brilliant CEO that he is, Steve Jobs has exported the Jobs, Jobs, Jobs overseas—to China, where money now grows on trees, like apples.

25 July 2011: Dial M for Murdoch

Being Asian-American, I’m super-sensitive to news about other Asian-Americans, whether it be about creaky old Senator Dan Inouye of Hawaii, Woody Allen’s daughter-turned-wife Soon Yi, Star Trekker-turned-gay activist George Takei, new GLEE heart-throb Darren Criss, Matrix superstar Keanu Reeves, pot-smoking Harold masquerading as John Cho, potty-mouth comedienne Margaret Cho, or long-suffering keeper-of-the-flame Yoko Ono.

And now we have….WENDI DENG MURDOCH!

I was skeptical when I first read about Wendi Deng.  According to The Telegraph, she was born in the eastern Chinese city of Xuzhou, the daughter of an engineer.  She came to the United States in the late 1980s to work and study through a visa sponsored by an American couple from Los Angeles, Jake and Joyce Cherry.  When the Cherry’s marriage ended (Surprise, Surprise!) Wendi and Jake married, but (Surprise, Surprise!) divorced in less than three years.

Shortly after that, in June 1999, being footloose and Cherry-free, Wendi met media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and (Surprise, Surprise!) married him just 17 days after his divorce from his second wife of 31 years had been finalized. Wendi was 30 at the time, and Rupert 68. No fool like an old fool. Look what happened to Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall.  I envisioned a remake of Hitchcock’s DIAL M FOR MURDOCH.

Twelve years and two daughters later, they’re back in the news. Wendi is now 42, and Rupert 80. They’re still married to each other, and (Surprise, Surprise!) it’s beginning to look like true love. The proof is in the pudding, or at least in the shaving cream pie.

When comedian/activist Jonnie Marbles attempted to throw a shaving cream pie at old Rupert during the select committee hearing last week about the News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, millions of people saw on television how a sprightly Wendi leapt to her feet, smacked Marbles in the head, and tried to push the pie back in his face, proving to the world that Rupert’s Wendi is no shrinking violet, no Madame Butterfly. I wonder what’ll happen when the Dragon Lady finally discovers that the prince she married is really a toad.

Maybe we’ll still get the remake of that Hitchcock movie.