Friday, September 26, 2008

Suspended Disbelief.

This has been a hell of a week for suspension.

David Blaine started it off on Monday by hanging upside down over Central Park for 60 hours. MAGIC! Only, he didn't actually remain suspended for the entire 60 hours. Cameras caught him taking breaks, standing on platforms and stopping for water about once an hour. In an article in the TimesOnline, Veronica Schmidt quoted a spectator as saying, “Finally, after 15 minutes or so, Blaine went back to being upside-down. There wasn’t much to see. He just hung.”

Anyone who as ever been a babysitter has probably seen a living room version of this stunt as a little kid hangs upside down over the side of a sofa.

John McCain was obviously so impressed by Blaine's illusion that he decided to pull a suspension trick of his own. Calling for the suspension of his campaign to deal with the financial crisis, McCain hinted that the debate scheduled for tonight would have to be canceled, he skipped an appearance on David Letterman ("you work on commission right? big mistake, big! HUGE!"), and pulled an impressive disappearing act from the political stage that would make Sarah Palin proud. Is it just me, or do you see some sort of traveling magic show in the future for these two? Something involving shooting rabbits in a hat from a helicopter.

Anyway, in the same way that bystanders in Central Park were utterly unimpressed by forty-five minute intervals of David Blaine's purple face, Americans and the media called McCain's bluff. They spotted the wire, or the mirror, or the hidden tiger, or dove up his sleeve or whatever other magic analogy you want to use. People, you can't suspend a campaign! There's no crying in baseball, there's no basement in the Alamo, and there's no suspension in politics! Where did he honestly think he was going to go during this suspension? Washington?! Did he forget that there are a couple of cameras in DC right now covering the death of money?

The Great McCain's trick was up when he arrived in the Capitol and people noticed that his campaign suspension simply meant that instead of helping to reach a financial agreement, or facing Obama on the issues, or actually running for president, he just hung.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Might I Suggest A Bake Sale.

I pay attention to the news, but I usually zone out during the stock market stuff because the flashy charts and ticker thing scrolling along the bottom of the screen at the speed of sound make me dizzy. So all I ever hear is "blerg blah blah...Bear Stearns..blah blah, Fannie/Freddy...blerg blah...oil....bloop blah...subprime... blah blah blee poptarts..." and then i'm like, "Hold up. Poptarts?" until I realize I just want a breakfast pastry and I shut off the TV.

But to use a lyric from an old Alan Greenspan song, "The economy is fucked, and I hope you have a new place to stay because chances are you don't live here anymore, and the government now owns all of this Wall Street debt meaning you taxpayers out there are basically screwed for a few years while we try to figure this out. Baby."

That song was called, "Milkshake" and later remixed by Kelis, where it lost most of its economic undertones.

I won't go into a rant about the state of things and how we got here, but I have to question these huge government bailouts for these irresponsible companies. Yesterday the Fed gave the failing insurance company AIG an 85 billion dollar loan saying the economy would be in worse shape if the company was just left to die. OK, I don't know if that's true or not, but dude. $85 BILLION??!!! And we're giving that money to a company that has clearly demonstrated that they can't handle their ish. It boggles the mind.

I'm sick of Wall Street giants messing with everything and then pulling a Steve Urkel, "Did I do that?" when Americans start to feel the strain. And I'm even more upset with the fact that the government just keeps throwing money at these businesses that didn't really try to help themselves.

When we were in school and needed money for a school trip, what did we do? We sold shit. We made everyone we knew buy $1 candy bars and crappy coupon books. Yes, it sucked, but it usually worked. If companies like Lehman Brothers had stopped whining for five minutes to pick up a big-ass case of M&M's and sold about one hundred million of them in the subway, maybe they'd still be around. And if someone in Washington had told the people at Bear Stearns or AIG to have a car wash to raise funds before asking for federal cash-monet, maybe normal citizens wouldn't be so mad right now.

All these Wall Street big shots were bright enough to make millions of dollars for themselves while creating this mess. The very least they could do before having the rest of us pay for their mistakes is bake and sell a few hundred billion trays of brownies. That's all I'm saying.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What Are You Doing To My Towels?

While shopping in Philly over the weekend we overheard a sales clerk mention to a customer, "Just so you know, we're having a special today and anything you buy can be mammogramed for free."

The customer paused for a second before asking the girl to repeat herself.

"We're giving away free mammograms with purchase."

Standing next to a giant sewing machine in the store, I glanced up at a line of people waiting to have their initials put on polos.

Smiling to myself about the obvious mistake, I grabbed a sweater from the shelf and made my way to the dressing room, just to be sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Picture Day.

Typing "picture day" immediately reminded me of picture days in school. Those were pretty much the worst, right? All of my school pictures were taken before the golden age of digital photography so whenever the photo packages arrived with the 8x10 of my non-smile and half-closed eyes peering through the window of the Lifetouch envelope, I just shoved the whole thing in my bag before my friends could ask to see. Kids always compared photo packages too for some reason. Like your parents loved you more somehow if you signed up for package A, which came with 105 pictures, as opposed to package E, which came with a yearbook photo and one wallet.

The photographer's main job was to pass out combs, as if it was going to be a fly-away hair that ruined the picture and not his shoddy work or the ridiculous background choices. Sitting in front of a neon green or bright purple background was wonderful for a child of the 80's. All of my elementary school pictures look like advertisements for highlighters. But the really exciting backgrounds like "outer space" or "autumn" were the most memorable. I have a space picture. I also have one in which I'm sitting in front of what appear to be lasers. All of those pictures are still in my parents' house, shoved in drawer of the dining room hutch.

My sisters and I recently met up with Deb and Steve to have a family picture taken. I know a lot of families do this regularly (and include a pic with their holiday update letters, letting the world know how great their lives are, even though no one asked) but my family has never actually taken one together. So because we were all able to meet at the same time, my mom scheduled a session and we went to have our first ever professional family photo.

We all decided to wear white button-down shirts and jeans because it's classic and because we always wanted to be in a Gap commercial. I've mentioned before how I have a terrible sweating problem, so I refused to put my shirt on until the very last minute and had to keep explaining to the photographer that I had my shirt with me, and I'd put it on when she was ready. She claimed she was ready so I got dressed and 25 minutes later, as she was still setting up lights, my shirt was ruined.

My mom's one request before going into the studio was that she didn't want to sit on the floor. "It can be a casual picture, I just don't want to get on the ground." So of course, once we were ready to take our places the photographer said, "I want to try a few different things. To start, mom, why don't we have you lay here on the floor." and my mom happily agreed. The photographer arranged the rest of us and started to take the pictures, using different suggestions of things people might find exciting to get us to smile. The problem with this was that my dad finds everything exciting, and agrees with almost anything people say. So as she was using her smile technique, my dad kept turning around to tell us how great her ideas sounded.

Photographer: OK, Martin Family! You're going on a cruise!
Dad: Oh, a cruise girls! That sounds like fun!
Photographer: Mr. Martin, up here please. OK, and you just won the lottery!
Dad: Oh! Better get those tickets, today might be our lucky day!
Photographer: Just a smile please. Keep your head facing the camera. And, you're out at your favorite restaurant.
Dad: Oh, Jess, what was that place in San Francisco? The rolls!

By the end of the session the photographer was just saying "smile."

We took a whole bunch of cheesy family pictures and then my sisters and I wanted to take a few together, so the woman asked my mom and dad to get up and step aside. However, my mom had been seated on the floor for quite awhile, and her knees were not agreeing with her, so she was having some trouble getting up. Sabrina gave her a hand, but apparently my mom was just going dead-weight, so my dad rushed over to help, sort of lifting her from behind, as Bri pulled on her arms. By this point my mom was giddy, and she started to fall back a little so I went over to assist my dad and Sabrina but realized that my mom wasn't making any effort whatsoever to help herself up. Naturally, this made me burst out laughing as Nessa shouted at the photographer to take the picture. "This should be the family picture. Please take it!"

She didn't. But I'm thinking of having a portrait of the scene painted.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Our Future Is Not A Blended Beverage.

For the entire campaign, the Republican Party has sounded something like this: Pay no attention to the concrete facts of the last 8 years because those things are all about to change. Using the same traditional organic GOP ingredients (truthiness, gut politics, restricting civil liberties, and ignoring a growing class of "have-nots") John McCain is gearing up to make something incredibly new and delicious.

"But wait," you say. "If John McCain is using the same ingredients, how will the product be any different?"
Well, foolish consumer, we're blending all the old solid stuff together so that you can't really see it anymore and it goes down easier. Solid to liquid. That's change that the phases of matter demand you believe in! Plus, you drink it! With a straw!
"But I still don't see--"
I'm sorry, no more questions at this time.

John McCain's change is a smoothie. If there is difference and change in his plans I'm having trouble deciphering. Sometimes I get a little piece of something crunchy, but I think it's most likely a raspberry seed. I can see the allure of a Smoothie Plan. Bush gave us two terms of Garbage Plates so we're all looking for a more sensible option. But don't blend up a Garbage Plate, offer me a free boost, and expect me to think I'm at Jamba. I'm not suddenly going to think that conservative policies are good for me because they're mixed with whey protein, or that limiting a woman's right to have a say over her own body, or pretending gay people don't exist somehow makes sense when served with a smile.

And while Jamba Juice recently discontinued the "Femme Boost" from the list of free boosts it offers because many smoothie enthusiasts didn't want vaginas (I'm not sure that's the actual reason, please don't sue me Jamba), John McCain, maverick that he is, thought to bring that femme boost into his campaign--proving the old adage, "Political Strategy is like a nine dollar smoothie."

Choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate was clever, I'll give him that. The Republicans were obviously thinking of the thousands, maybe millions of Hillary supporters who are still steamed about her loss and Obama's failure to put her on the ticket and McCain's team concluded that CLEARLY, women will vote for a woman just because she's a woman, regardless of her policies. I'm sure the brief sent to McCain about the Palin choice included a copy of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants with a post-it attached that read: You see? They all stick together no matter what! It's genius!

Palin was the best choice for the McCain Campaign in that people are now actually talking about the McCain Campaign, but no one has gone so far as to mention what flavor she brings to the mix. She's new, and exciting, and made a joke about a dog wearing lipstick. That's good enough for Washington. I saw a picture of someone holding a sign at a rally that read, "Sarah, you had us at Hello." Are you serious? The person holding that sign better stay out of Wal-Mart because they're going to want to nominate every elderly person who greets them at the door. And are we really kicking it back to the Jerry Maguire references for this campaign? McCain's next speech will include a variation of the "Ask not what your country can do for you" line when he pleads, "Help me, help you! Help ME! Help YOU!" or maybe, "My friends, do you know that the human head weighs eight pounds?" And the crowd will start to cheer in unison, "8-pounds, U-S-A! 8-pounds, U-S-A!" as Palin slaughters a moose that has been brought out onstage.

In the last two weeks Palin has brought so much attention to the tired blend of old ideas that McCain has been trying to push that people have overlooked that John McCain is trying to sell us a tired blend of old ideas. My biggest fear is that we'll all realize too late that something tastes familiar.