Friday, November 30, 2012


Although I hate the political ads and mailings, the crowded street corners festooned with signage, and the heated rhetoric, I do miss the intensity and immediacy of the presidential campaign. There was always some new report, opinion, or poll to check out. I feel as if I am missing something, now. Quieter. And that is not a bad thing, as I can go back to my regular boring life. Thankfully my guy won and there is not the need for handwringing and introspection, and I was allowed a giant breath of relief, but I also feel an emptiness. Maybe I should move to Iowa and get working on the Clinton campaign. :)

Monday, November 26, 2012


Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love my Gamecocks. It is almost an obsession, a love that can often temper or accelerate emotions, cause heartache or joy, confuse or clarify. At least for me and probably a couple hundred thousand other fanatics. I realize I am not alone in this mania, as millions follow their individual teams fervently as well. I don't even allow orange in my house for the most part (although since my eldest son likes the Gators, I permit certain combinations as long as blue is involved and orange is not the dominant color). How crazy is that? The only one in my family with a similar level of devotion to one team is my sister Bobbie, who loves the Buckeyes. And to a lesser extent, Paul loves the Seminoles. Both of them are suffering a little this year, as OSU can't bowl and FSU lost to UF.

The solid defensive effort put in against Clemson by the Gamecocks on Saturday, as well as a good stand-in performance by second stringers such as Dylan Thompson and Kenny Miles, was a thing of joy to watch. I kept expecting Clemson to explode, and it just didn't happen, largely because of the ability of the Gamecocks to hold the ball on long drives, repeatedly making lengthy third downs, and great defensive plays. When the ref robbed our defender of an interception midway in the game, I thought to myself, "here it comes, paid-off officials again" (which I know not to be true, but there have been odd occurances over the years). Even one of the holding calls against us on a running play looked shady. But the Cocks overcame. People complained about the interference calls against Clemson, though I thought their DBs were hitting our receivers early almost every time. Clowney simply dominated at his position, and the plan to limit touches by their offense succeeded. Their playmakers seldom touched the ball. Boyd had a great year against largely inferior ACC and nonconference foes, but against two good defenses he didn't look so good. I think talk of him winning the Heisman disappeared. I don't know what USC will do against whatever opponent we get paired up against in a bowl, but this has been another great year. It could have been enormous, had we earned three more points against LSU. The Florida debacle hurt, but anyone can have a bad game, and the team didn't play poorly defensively against the Gators. We lose a lot of great players this year, so I hope talented newcomers are in the pipeline.

So I get another year of not having to listen to the Orange smack talk. After so many years of pain, this really feels nice. A senior class that never fell to their upstate rivals. How cool is that? And we should have a competitive team next year, barring injuries. Perhaps we will get another star in recruiting this year. I feel for my Tiger brethren. . .just not too deeply! GO GAMECOCKS!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Yes, I watched a foreign romance this weekend. Not just any romance, but an Indian musical of the Romeo-Juliet variety that questions Pakistani-Indian rivalry and calls for the improvement of conditions and education of women in both countries, as well as reform of the justice system. Yash Chopra's Veer-Zaara (2004) is a delightful movie. Dancing. . .yes, we gots some! Colorful dress and beautiful women. . .we've gots that too! :) Luckily the Bollywood extravaganzas were kept in check (though I was let down that there wasn't a huge final fling), but there was the chance an outbreak of motion could occur at any moment. The leads, Shah Rukh Khan (as Veer, who I have seen in Indian movies before) and the lovely Preity Zinta, are wonderful, as is also Rani Mukerji, who plays the progressive Pakistani lawyer who comes to Veer's aid. After saving Zaara from a bus accident while she is on her way to deposit her Bebe's ashes in her homeland village in India, the free-spirited woman is taken under the chivalrous and smitten Veer's wing, as he shows off his country while falling in love. Despite her betrothal to a stern Pakistani man in an arranged marriage for political purposes, Veer steps aside for the sake of her family and is unjustly forced into jail under a vow of silence to protect her honor, and it is only through the retelling of their romance to the newly appointed legal defender that we learn of his plight. Normally Indian films are little more than eye and ear candy (I love the music, rhythms, and dancing though, as well as the colorful costumes), but I really enjoyed this movie. The running time is a little over three hours, so get settled. But I really enjoyed it. I thought it was interesting how often English words crept into the dialogue.

Not to be totally sissified in the eyes of my few followers, I also watched a Thai film, Headshot (2011), a rollicking story of a framed ex-policeman who becomes an assassin for a secretive dealer of justice outside of the corrupt legal system. There is no dancing here! But lots of shootouts and dead bodies. And yes, beautiful women. . .especially Sirin Horwang and Chanokporn Sayoungkul (who is eye candy that you wouldn't believe). Nopachai Chaiyanam, as former undercover drug agent Tul, is shot in the head during a later assassination and surprisingly survives, only to find that he sees the world now upside down. Of course, circumstance that you will see in the movie have already turned his world askew. I wouldn't rank the movie highly in a cinematic scale, but it is lively and entertaining, and (did I not mention this), there are really beautiful women and lots of shoot-em ups. Who wouldn't like?

Friday, November 16, 2012


The lovely Irish songstress ODi speaks to her adoring new fans after her concert at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Columbia. Bruce, one of her opening acts, stands next to her, while I am (luckily) obscured by Joey, with Chimo stalking in the rear. Taken by Fred. If you get a chance to see her live, do it.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Funny, but pointed and true, article by FredNietzsche on Daily Kos, from which I stole a few portions. Go to this link if you want to read entire article, which I encourage you to:

Herewith some portions:

"Earlier today a slide was posted on Daily Kos purporting to be an announcement by the cast of "Sesame Street" that "today's show" (presumably the 2012 election) was brought to us by the number "47" and the letters "f" and "u"."

"The final major component of the Republican party is the Religious Right. They are the most responsible for this year's drubbing at the polls because it was they who infected their party with the Radical Rejection of Reality. What do today's Repugs believe? They believe that climate change is a myth. They believe that gay people cause hurricanes, earthquakes, and the deaths of U.S. military peronnel. They think that magic cells in the female reproductive system prevent pregnancy unless the woman is secretly enjoying herself or the rapist is sent by God to give her the gift of an unwanted child. They believe that President Obama committed voter suppression by turning out more young and minority voters because unskewed right-wing math can't be wrong. Let's face it: objective reality has no place in today's Republican party. It's truly astounding that what the hippies couldn't accomplish with LSD, pot, and mushrooms back in the 1960's, the Religious right has accomplished today with prayer and Bible study. So severe has the Repugs' embrace of subjective reality become that this year senescent fart and bible knocker Billy Graham managed to embrace Libertarian dreamboy Paul Ryan despite Ryan's lifelong crush on notorious atheist slut Ayn Rand. Ah well, if you believe that the young Jesus played with dinosaurs then you'll believe that the Lion will lie down with the whore and cast the first stone at anyone who messes with the free market."

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Every once in a while you take advantage of an unexpected offer, totally unaware of what you will experience, and you wind up being introduced to something really beautiful. Tonight my boys and I had the opportunity to see ODi, a gorgeous talented Irish singer-songwriter touring the South for the last month or so. She, backed by her English friend Dave, delivered a really enjoyable acoustic set, a mix of original pieces and covers that enthralled the audience at Columbia's Unitarian Universalist auditorium. I feel sorry for those people who didn't attend. Strumming their guitars to what felt like a cozy coffee-house crowd, the duo playfully explained their songs and then wound us around their fingers, having no trouble enticing everyone to sing along. They were funny and cute, and even when she forgot lyrics to one cover that they hadn't practiced much, no one cared, because her chorus was sparkling. They had such a nice presence and rapport on stage, an easiness that was enchanting. Her voice is a joy---sharp and strong with a tinge of edginess, yet still soft and inviting---that will easily find a following with folk and country audiences, and crossover pop as well, though at times it felt as if she were holding back. She could easily have overpowered that small crowd, her voice seemed to have untapped strength.

In addition to playing covers of songs by artists such as John Martin, Springsteen, The Beatles, and Pearl Jam, they offered a number of original works that were quite good, polished in fact. And as nice as they were to hear live, her songs are also excellent with studio accompaniment (especially the piano), so go get a copy of Maslow's Songbook or download some songs. You can also experience the very nice "One in a Million," "Leaving My Love in New York," and "Something Beautiful" as well as others online, and I encourage you to do so. My favorite song of the night was "What You Deserve." Also very nice were "Devil's Dance," "You Win But You Lose," and the title piece. There were several other good ones, but can't remember the titles. If she comes to your town, make sure you attend, because you will not be disappointed.

My benefactor this evening (and I thank him very much), Fred Ingram, played the opening set during open mike, and I think it was one of the best I have heard from him, especially in tandem with mandolin-playing Bruce Clark, who also played a few solo pieces. Most of Fred's set I have heard before, but a few new pieces really captured my attention. I definitely liked his "Sonnets" introduction to covering "In Your Eyes." I also enjoyed Bruce's "Karaoke" song.

You can go to ODi's Myspace site at
She has a UK site, but the link is not working for me.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


A good quote from Allison Benedikt on SLATE concerning the conservative media bubble FOX viewers put themselves in: "Fox News and other conservative media are “far more intellectually closed” than, say, NPR. Fox News feeds its viewers a line of bull about the way the world is. Viewers buy this line of bull. Misinformed viewers become misinformed voters. And then misinformed voters are shocked when Obama wins. Hey, I thought everyone hated this guy?"

"Evidence?? We don't need no stinking evidence!" Or so it seems Karl Rove was saying. I have family and friends who truly believe every bit of crap that is forwarded and promoted by the Conservative Channel. They believe every bit of malarkey and misinformation and downright mischievous misspeak. They tune into Rush (who had a meltdown of his own the last few days) and Glenn Beck, and some of the other wackos. I listened to it sometimes, and I was often mortified. I hope some people learned something, but I doubt it.


A long night, first waiting for the results, then for Romney to concede, then for Obama to give his final campaign . . .I mean, acceptance speech (which I think was very good, if not a bit long winded). I am happy with the results and thankful I don't have to kowtow to my more conservative family members (I love you all though). The best man won, simple as that. Romney was a fake and liar (though I think he probably is a decent man). The country is divided, but there are people (see: old white guys) who now need to accept the fact that our nation is changing, becoming more diverse. Women are getting stronger politically and economically. You can no longer disrespect them or "mansplain" to them (Akin and Mourdick. . .I mean, Mourdock. . .went down in flames). Hispanics are gaining strength and numbers, and this shift will only increase as more achieve citizenship (just look at the number serving in our military). Younger people are getting more involved. Possibly even the regularly disenfranchised are finding their voices. Craziness and extremism have limits (hear that, Talibani Teapartiers and religious extremists?). Will there be a third party movement? If so, that possibility likely means the Democrats will stay in power much longer. Money is much too important in modern elections, but saying that, it doesn't mean that seats can necessarily be bought (ahem, McMahon). A strong federal government is still important to our collective well being (how many Hurricane Sandys do we need to reiterate this fact?). The Republican Party needs to rethink their role, or they risk permanent outsider status, with the pressure mounting inside their caucus more damaging than that from without. I hope some sanity returns to the deluded fans of FOX and Rush (when will they realize they are being lied to?). We all live here together and this is our country too.

There are many problems our politicians have to address quickly. Major problems. At some point our elected representatives have to work together. Compromise. Do what is best for the country rather than bending over for narrow interests. Our Senators have to lead.

An openly lesbian Senator. How cool! A wounded female vet with Thai heritage earns a seat in the House. Yeah. New Hampshire has an all-female delegation. Right on. A Buddhist (as well as first Asian American female, born in Japan) and a Hindu win seats for the first time. All right! I'm not sure I am too happy with the new stoner states, though, but not too disturbed by it either. Rabid anti-gay supporters argued vociferously that the courts and legislatures that had okayed right-to-marriage laws would be disavowed by the electorate. . . and for the first time they were proven wrong. Let people be who they are and get over your prejudices. Let's make the schools, roads, and infrastructure better. Lets take care of our veterans. Find new things to make and greater goals to achieve. Be a world leader, not a bully. Convince Muslims in the Middle East that stronger women's rights actually improve life for everyone there. Repair this broken world environment. Stop the slaughter of people, the enslavement of children, the exploitation of females. So much to do.

God bless America and President Obama.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Despite the fact that today is the election and it really dooesn't matter much, Paul Brandus wrote an article about popular myths about Obama, many of which my conservative friends always bring up, and I liked his response. Herewith some portions of that article,

Obama has played more golf than any president in history

This isn't even close to being true. . .He plays on a regular basis: 104 rounds from January 2009 through Aug. 4 of this year. . .That puts him about in the middle when compared with other duffers-in-chief. It's less than Bill Clinton, and a lot less than Dwight Eisenhower, who played more than 800 rounds over eight years — four times as often as Obama plays.

And why is it an outrage if the president, who heads one of three branches of government, golfs 104 times in three-and-a-half-years, but the head of another branch of government, the Speaker of the House, plays four times as much? You heard correctly: John Boehner once told Golf Digest that he plays upwards of 100 rounds a year. Seems like a double standard, no?

Obama has taken more vacation time than any president in history

This isn't even remotely accurate either . . from January 2009 to October 31, 2012, Obama spent all or part of 72 vacation days

· Ronald Reagan was away for 436 days, usually at Rancho del Cielo (his mountaintop retreat in California) or Camp David.

· Bill Clinton, who didn't own a vacation home, loved to party with his elite friends in Martha's Vineyard and the Hamptons.

· George W. Bush spent 32 months at his ranch (490 days) or Camp David (487 days) — an average of four months away every year.

Obama shows his true colors by not going to Arlington National Cemetery

That being said, the tradition of going to Arlington itself on Memorial Day is fairly new. Most presidents never, or rarely, went. Let's look at the past six decades:

· Eisenhower: Twice in eight years

· Kennedy: Never in three years

· Johnson: Once in five years

· Nixon: Never in six years

· Ford: Twice in two years

· Carter: Never in four years

· Reagan: Three times in eight years

· Bush Sr.: Never in four years

· Clinton: Eight times in eight years

· Bush Jr.: Seven times in eight years

· Obama: Three times in four years

Bush Jr. and Obama really have perfect records as far as I'm concerned. The one year Bush wasn't at Arlington he was at Normandy, honoring the heroes of D-Day. The one year Obama wasn't at Arlington he was at a National Cemetery in Illinois, where the heroes who rest in peace are no less deserving of our respect than those who rest in Arlington.

Obama has never visited Israel as president
It's true that Barack Obama, as president, hasn't visited the Jewish state. Not once in four years. He's in good company:

· Nixon waited five-and-a half years to visit

· Ford never went

· Carter went once in four years

· Reagan never went in eight years

· Bush Sr. never went

· Clinton went six times in eight years

· Bush Jr. waited seven years to visit

Taxes under Obama are at an all-time high

If you buy this one, congratulations: You've failed not just history, but economics as well. Between the combined burden of federal, state, and local income taxes, Americans are parting with the smallest share of their income since 1958. The Bureau of Economic Analysis says we pay 23.6 percent of what we make, down from an average of about 27 percent during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.

Monday, November 5, 2012


The boys were off at the Camporee, so I had blessed quiet and plenty of dvds and books. I got to browse through the flea market and eat a restful Chinese meal, without squabbling brothers in tow. Started a new Sarah Vowell. And, again, there was dvd time.

Finished the sixth season of Dexter, one of my favorite tube series. It wasn't as intense as some of the former years, but pretty good. It seemed a tad off, but who's complaining. I didn't much like the somewhat blatant hinting of potential incestuous activity to come (even if they are not biological siblings), but I did like that Debra now knows of Dexter's activities and it will be interesting to see how she will react to this revelation. The disintegration of Joey seemed a little too quick and overdone, but I never really liked his character anyway. I kind of miss the Bennetts. I do like Jaime Batista (Aimee Garcia). I know that for the sake of the show it was important to move Debra into the Lieutenant's chair, though I think Angel should have (and probably would have in a real-life situation) gotten the office, and I don't think it would necessarily have changed the story line that much. I look forward to seeing the final season whenever it gets on dvd.

Although I do not love anime, I watched an unusual and very good Japanese-American animation Princess Mononoke (1997). The boys seemed to enjoy it a lot. I thought the art was quite beautiful, and the story interesting, if not a tad confusing. Neil Gaiman adapted the script to English (and I know that so much is lost in translation no matter how good the translator). I liked the directors Spirited Away, which I saw a while ago.

I threw in an old western (about Billy the Kid) to the mix, Paul Newman's Left-Handed Gun (1958), produced two years before my birth. One of his first big-screen performances (two of which he inherited after the death of James Dean), you can tell he is still learning his craft, but he is such a presence. I certainly enjoyed it. I can't remember if I ever saw it on television. Lita Milan is beautiful, no doubt why a South American dictator chased her. John Dehner was very good, though I kept feeling he was acting as if he were in a silent film. Newman plays Billy as somewhat silly and demented, but he pulls it off. Those eyes. . .if I ever met a woman with those eyes, I would be entranced. It is not a strong movie, but enjoyable.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Last night, Halloween, I took the boys to dinner and a movie, after they said they didn't want to go trick-or-treating. I arrived at the St. Andrews Multiplex Theater fifteen minutes before the start of the show and went in to buy tickets. When we came up to the concession stand a young man (probably high school or early college age), who seemed to be in charge, told me that they would not be showing the movie because not enough people had come to see it and they would not run it for just us three. I looked at him dumbfounded and pointed out that we were early. He did not offer to let us see one of the other films (though they too may have been cancelled, I don't know). No matter. They would not be showing the film. Period. You must leave. You could see they were already cleaning up. Despite it having been advertised online and in the newspaper (as well as in their phone recording). I said that since they advertised it, they should show it. He said the place was a "family theater" and therefore if they felt they weren't going to make money, they didn't have to stay open. I told him this was unfair, since I wasted gas and time driving across town (not to mention the expectations of my sons); he retorted that "what kind of idiot wastes gas to attend a $2 movie." I pointed out that to take the three of us to a regular movie it would cost around $30 instead of $6, but he again said that they have the right to cancel a show if not enough people show up. I was getting pretty riled up by his attitude and callous treatment. I don't know how many people may have come before me, but I sat in the parking lot and watched at least 11 people drive up and get turned away. I am not sure what the cutoff attendance point is for a profitable showing at this establishment. I asked some of the people getting turned away when they came out what movie they came to see, and it was the same one we came to see. After another couple was turned away right before the show was scheduled to begin, I asked what they had been told, and the man said, "The man said we were the first two people to show up for the movie and therefore they were not going to show it." Of course, a boldfaced lie. I went back up to the theater, but now the employees had locked the doors and turned off outside lighting. The manager was putting stuff away in the kiosk area, and when I called him out for his dishonesty, he said he was going to call the police. He turned to the other gentleman with me and had the cheek to say that I was the cause of them deciding not to show the film. As we were driving away, at 7:28, another group of people (it looked like five people) were getting out of their car in the parking lot and we passed other cars driving in. I estimate that maybe 20 people or so were likely turned away in the end. I don't know if the theater staff that night had a hot party to attend or that they were following some sort of preexisting policy, but it seems to me if a business advertises it should live up to its promised schedule (unless there is some true problem, such as a broken film or biblical flood), as it puts a lot of people out. I have personally sat through a couple movies in that place with fewer than five in attendance, and just two weeks ago went to a movie in Forest Acres where I was the only person in the theater, and still they showed their movie. There is no way this guy could have known how many people were going to show up for the movie fifteen minutes before it started (not counting any previews time). What if fifty people had rolled up? I have tried to call the owner or manager to get a clarification, even called Better Business and then State Consumer Affairs. They say I can lodge a complaint and they will send a letter of notice to the theater. I am mulling that option. I know though, that I will not be going back there again, for a while at least. The dvds usually come out at the same time. I guess I'll just have to adopt that option from now on. If the owners felt there was not going to be enough business they should not advertise. Maybe it is time they close their doors permanently.