Exhibit 13.23

Here's what makes for an awkward elevator ride: Start on the top floor of a building, hit the button for an elevator, and wait. When the elevator doors beep open, walk toward it. Stop. There is a person in the elevator. Pause so they can get off. It's the top floor of the building, after all, so they must be getting off. Stop. They aren't getting off.

Walk onto the elevator while staring at them accusingly. Notice that none of the buttons in the elevator have been pushed. Pause so they can explain why they took the elevator to the top of the building but are now refusing to leave it. Watch as they look bored and upset as you reach across them to hit the button, as if this is ruining their otherwise very pleasant elevator ride. Consider asking them why they are on the elevator as you being your descent. Meet their eyes and try to stare the truth out of them. Give up when it's clear their will is stronger. Stop. Prepare to exit the elevator. Pause to let them go first out of politeness. When they don't exit, resist the temptation to yell, O, come on, what's going on with you, you creepy bastard? Walk out of the elevator to a life that now knows mystery.

Incidentally, if you see me later today and it doesn't look like I have a costume, know that I'm dressed as The Person Who Wouldn't Leave The Elevator. This will be the case today and for the rest of my life.


Exhibit 13.22

Thoughts on the Mike Jacobs Trade

Okay, if you're not a baseball fan in general or a Royals fan in particular, you definitely don't need to read this. Here, read this.

So the Royals made a trade, shipping 25-year-old reliever Leo "The Splinter" Nunez to the Florida Marlins for newly 28-year-old 1B Mike Jacobs (happy birthday, Mike). Other than the fact that Mike needs a nickname (The Vacuum? I joke, I joke), I think it's a respectable trade which puts me at odds with just about everyone in the world whose name doesn't rhyme with Shmayton Shmore. Here's why Royals fans hate this:

*Jacobs profiles as a quick decliner and is unlikely to hit another 32 HR in Kaufman Stadium (even though his old park is worse for power hitters according to KC Star stat guy Bradford Doolittle whose take here I agree with).

*Jacobs also had an absolutely atrocious .299 OBP last year. I'll admit, this is bad--really bad, like Steve Martin's Sgt. Bilko bad--but one way or another he's going to have an .800 OPS. Do you know how many regular Royals had an .800+ OPS last year? Two.

*The original deal had Carlos Rosa going to Florida. I think Royals fans got a little worked up on that one (understandable as Rosa is a better prospect) and decided they hated Mike Jacobs last week. Now that the deal is done and it's much more palatable--if not an outright steal--it's hard to go back to praising Jacobs, even on the poor guy's birthday.

Other reasons I like it:

*Leo Nunez, despite coming in first in gold chains, is the Royals fourth best reliever when he's healthy. That he's often not healthy only seals the deal. Odd that the Marlins supposedly past on Carlos Rosa for health reasons when Nunez seems as bad in this regard, doesn't have much projection left, is closer to arbitration, and is definitely not a starter while you can at least wish on Rosa.

*Mike Jacobs, with 32, HR hit 12 more home runs than any Royal did last season. That's not nothing.

*Ross Gload, the man Jacobs is hopefully relegating to permanent backup duty if not outright release, had an OPS+ 30 points lower than Jacobs, only hit 3 HR, and had an OBP of .317. Why are we supposed to be upset about this again? Ross Gload isn't right for the Royals. I'm sure he's a nice guy. I like to watch how everyone gives him breaks because he's white and then has to awkwardly chalk it up to his "grit." But Ross Gload has no place as anything other than a versatile 1B/OF backup on a contending team. If he's starting, your team is bad. We've learned this.

And that's really the rub here. For the moment I'm seeing this as the Royals upgrading the Ross Gload-Billy Butler 1B/DH combo with a Mike Jacobs-Billy Butler 1B/DH combo (with, god willing, Jacobs playing DH). Or maybe Billy starts the year in Omaha and gets called up when he's ready to take over first. Whatever the case may be, I don't think this trade necessitates a Butler trade or even makes one more likely (if they want to ship Butler out, they will regardless). Nor does it hold back Kila "Hawaiian Punch" Ka'aihue who needs more than the 30 some games he's had above AA before he's ready.

A lot of Royals fans see this as the Royals acquring another mediocre player with a lousy on base percentage, but the truth is that Jacobs would have been the Royals best hitter last year and while he doesn't play a position of defensive value, there's no denying that his one true skill--power--is desperately needed. He's clearly an upgrade over Gload and Shealy and, despite what some are saying, it's not easy to find a guy who hits 30+ home runs (just ask the Royals who haven't had one since...I don't know...Jermaine Dye in 2000?), let alone one who is under team control for another three years and only costs an exceedingly replaceable reliever.

Look, Jacobs clearly isn't Adam Dunn, but he's not a bad substitute at the value he presents. I'm of the opinion that while you'd obviously prefer a guy with a higher OBP, the fact that he doesn't have it isn't going to hurt the Royals as much as a team with a stable of power hitters behind him. Honestly, how many times are the Royals 6-7-8 (or 5-6-7) hitters going to string together enough hits to move the plodding Jacobs around the bases? Yeah, he'll make more than his share of outs, but so did Ross Gload only he brought nothing to the table. Shealy is a mirage (and a full year older than Jacobs). Kila isn't ready. And Butler needs some competition (because it's not as if he's proved anything). What's not to like here?

Well, possibly the next move. If Butler gets shipped out, I reserve the right to feel differently, but for right now I like the Royals lineup quite a bit more than I did this morning. If you feel differently, just repeat after me: Ross Gload played in 122 games last season. Ross Gload played in 122 games last season. Ross Gload played in 122 games last season.


Exhibit 13.21

Okay, so this is the last Lincoln Journal Star letter to the editor I'm posting (unless I want to give the state treasurer a piece of my mind), but it just so happens that good friend Aaron Hillyer chimed in on the UNL-William Ayers debacle on those hallowed pages and it should be brought to your attention. The unfamiliar can catch up on the details here.

So as long as the people I know cease to be so stubbornly civic-minded, I'm going back to the more important work of writing about celebrities that are ambiguously related/married.

Also, I should point out that they shamefully gave Aaron's exceedingly well-written and considered letter the dumbest possible title.

  • Canceling makes it worse

    In the increasingly legalistic and regimented culture that pervades the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I would have welcomed the perspective of Professor William Ayers, whose civic and scholarly work has always been informed by an intense desire to combat the absolutism that characterizes dominant political and social trajectories in America.

    During my four years of teaching in the UNL English Department, I have often shown a documentary film, “The Weather Underground,” which tells the story of the revolutionary movement Ayers was once part of. The film develops a productive historical, political and social context for the avant-garde literature and theory we often read in my classes. It has provoked students to articulate rich narratives of the possibilities for dissent in their own lives, while also providing them with the opportunity to consider the political and social paradigms that are stifled by the increasingly monocultural media and pedagogical discourses of our times.

    For example, the film discusses the cold-blooded police assassination of Fred Hampton, a young African-American revolutionary leader whom not even one of my students had heard of before watching the film. I can see why such an event would become the object of suppression for those complicit with American absolutism, just as I can understand how the same people would threaten retaliation for the mere appearance of Ayers, who wasn’t even going to speak about his revolutionary past.

    But silencing words or, in this case, preventing the appearance of a person because that person’s mere presence may remind us of a past event only indicates the productive potential the oppressors anxiously attribute to such words or events in the first place. The task at hand, then, for us in the UNL community and for those everywhere around the country, is to finally harness this potential in order to rid ourselves of the systems that make our lives increasingly unlivable.

    Aaron Hillyer, Lincoln
Very nice work, Aaron. You know it was a good letter when it gets responses like this one:

Bob wrote on October 28, 2008 5:49 pm:
"Due to the ignorant Universary and the stupid LJS thats what you get. Its time to replace the newpaper that we have here."

Well played, Bob. Your move, LJS.


Exhibit 13.20

I winterized the apartment so now all of the windows are covered in taut, shiny plastic. I feel like a G.I. Joe or a person infected with Outbreak or a G.I. Joe infected with Outbreak.

(3 thoughts on the movie Outbreak I have even though I haven't seen it since a rained-out recess in the seventh grade [in other words, some of this could be misremembered so I may not be giving the Renee Russo/Cuba Gooding Jr./Donald Sutherland thriller a fair shake]:

1. So the government--which seems to have Outbreak pretty well quarantined--decides to blow up the infected town, ostensibly because they need to cover up Outbreak. Now, it's been a long time since I was in my Government Murder of Citizens Versus Letting Their Deaths Occur Naturally seminar, but I'm thinking the government nuking a town is going to get a bit of attention. If option one is letting the people die, telling a worried citizenry that it's under control for now, and then figuring out a cure while option two is bombing a town, not telling the now revolting citizenry why you nuked town, and then shrugging shoulders--and you choose option two--I'm not sure if you should be reelected. Sorry, Lee Terry.

2. It's weird that Patrick Dempsey is a sex symbol now because to me he'll always be the stonery guy named Jimbo who was the first to die from Outbreak because the monkey he stole bit him. Okay, I guess that is a little sexy.

3. I'm not, despite what I may have told you personally, a helicopter expert. However, even at 13 I'm pretty sure I knew enough to know that if you're in a helicopter chase, it's not going to work to just shoot some missiles into the ground and then hope that the helicopter following behind you mistakes the missiles for a crash and goes home as opposed to, you know, scanning the horizon and seeing your slowly fleeing helicopter less than a 1/4 mile away).

Well, turns out I've got nothing else after that long parenthetical. I guess you could say this whole thing was just a ruse to get you to read my thoughts about 1995's 24th-highest grossing movie. I guess you could say I probably deserve the Outbreak.

Still, we all have learned so much:
1. I can't spell missiles correctly on the first go around
2. Winterizing is good for the environment and bad for sanity
3. Knowing is half the battle


Exhibit 13.19

D.M.'s great letter to the editor has already been overshadowed by this beauty from reader/philosopher/literary scholar Richard Terrell:

  • Rand’s book brought to life
  • Fifty years ago, Ayn Rand wrote a scathing fictional exposure of the twisted psychology of compassion-mongers, do-gooders and their “looter” friends in governmental bureaucracies whose constant appeal is to people whose whole social vision amounts to whining about “fairness.” The novel is “Atlas Shrugged,” and today’s political scenarios are bringing to life Rand’s exposure of those who seek power in order to take from people who have created and earned something in order to give to those who haven’t.
  • The main villain in Rand’s story is a character named Wesley Mouch. Barack Obama is the real life incarnation of this character, who promises to punish successful small businesspeople by taking, through governmental force, the product of their labor to reward other people who he thinks should benefit from it.
  • In the novel, creative and intelligent people decide to withdraw from the system, in essence go on strike. Society, left to parasites, complainers and various “victims,” erodes into chaos.
  • Obama’s uncharacteristic candor in a recent discussion with an Ohio small businessman, in which he admitted that he would inhibit that man’s success in order to “help” others of his choosing, let Obama’s cat out of the bag. Already, small businesspeople across the United States are thinking seriously about shutting down their businesses, of deciding to no longer validate a system that would loot their creativity on behalf of undeserving, perhaps even corrupt people.
  • This is a novel that is much hated, especially by utopian totalitarians everywhere, for its power of exposure and clarification of the sick mentality that animates the likes of Obama and his hordes of followers.
  • Richard Terrell, Lincoln
Mr. Terrell and I need to get together so I can discuss with him my theories about how Fox's new hit drama Fringe is perfectly analogous to an Obama presidency.

Capt. Daniels-->Obama (because of skin color/hot when shirtlessness)
Pacey-->Harry Reid (because of blandness)
Girl Cop-->Girl Speaker of the House (because of girl)
Science-->A Recalibration of the Progressive Income Tax (because of people saying you can't do that and them saying oh yes we can watch wow)
Walter-->? (because not knowing is the scariest part of it all)


Exhibit 13.18

D.M.'s long promised letter to the editor ended up in Saturday's paper and can be found here. And, for your convenience, here:

  • Johanns more of the same
  • As I read the continued coverage about the Senate race in the Journal Star, I realize more and more that Mike Johanns in a Senate seat would be a nightmare for Nebraska.
  • Here’s a man so dedicated to the President Bush/Karl Rove party line that he spent thousands of dollars of taxpayer funds to do their political bidding. And what’s more, when candidate Scott Kleeb called him out on this wrongdoing in the last debate, Johanns wouldn’t even apologize for it.
  • This is not a man I want running my state. The politics of Bush have ruined this economy and have put cronyism and greed over honesty and service. Johanns has proved time and again that he’ll only give us more of the same.
  • For Nebraska’s future, I’ll be voting for Scott Kleeb on Nov. 4.
  • David C. Madden, Lincoln
It's pretty good though I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that Johanns won't really be "running the state" as a senator, especially as he was already doing that in the second to last job he quit. Seriously, D., if you ever want to get on a Sunday editorial page, you're going to have to bring your A-game.

If nothing else, I think this is the first time one of D.' s letters to the editor has gotten unanimous support from the rabidly libertarian commenters. Nice work.


Exhibit 13.17

Another great old trailer from a movie I watched the other night:

"He's as fast on the draw as he is in the drawing room."

Wow. This would have been my yearbook quote if I hadn't sold my quote to Jostens for an old-timey advertisement ("Jostens is the class of class rings, and that's my ringing endorsement!").

(Nothing about that last sentence is true or even logical. You deserve better).

In any case, I'm thinking of writing some similar lines for recent movies and then...well, there's really no step two here, is there?

Max Payne
"Maximillian Payne isn't just a name inherited from his zeidy. It's an apt description of what he provides his enemies."

Rachel Getting Married
"She's as high on love in the hearth as she is on smack in the conservatory."

High School Musical 3: Senior Year
"I don't understand what this is."

Okay, I need work.


Exhibit 13.16

Hey, you know what's more fun than reading self-important political rants? Reading poetry.

You should get this:

They All Seemed Asleep
Matthew Rohrer

Although my version has a white cover which makes for an entirely different reading experience. Something about it is, I don't know, a little more Dan Fogelberg.



Exhibit 13.15

Newsweek's Cover Story

America the Conservative
How Obama Might Govern a Center-Right Nation

Is this even true? Sure, it gets said on talk radio and Fox News as if it's dogma, but frankly, I'd expect a real media outlet to at least explore the idea a bit rather than just assuming. Here's Newsweek's editor Jon Meacham explaining it in bold with my comments in plain text.

But as we point out this week, that enthusiasm should be tempered by what I believe to be a stubborn fact about America: that, as a country, we tend to be center-right rather than center-left...Democrats have won only three of 10 presidential elections, and the three they won were with Southerners who emphasized how different their candidacies were from those of traditional national Democrats...

There are so many things wrong with this that I've lost my sense of humor about it. Seriously, there's nothing funny coming up. It's probably best if you go read something else.

Okay, on the fact that the Republicans have won 7 of the last 10 presidential elections, it's pretty convenient how that time period begins right after Kennedy-Johnson. Adding them makes it 5 of 12 for the Democrats. Let's assume an Obama win (as this editorial does) and we've got 6 of 13. Oh, yeah, and Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000. I'll be fair and say that 2000 is unique and at best a wash while also leaving untouched the advantage that Bush had as an incumbent in 2004. Suddenly we're looking at 6 wins a piece with 2000 excepted. Don't even get me started on what a 1968 election would have looked like with Bobby Kennedy either.

Also, that those who won emphasized that they were different from "national" Democrats. Other than this being a profoundly subjective point that has nothing to do with how the men actually governed, I guess my only response would be that the younger Bush campaigned as being a mainstream "compassionate conservative" and a pragmatist rather than a Gingrich-esque zealot. Isn't that a much better example of running against type than Clinton or Carter?

And what does being Southerners has to do with it is a little unclear. Nixon and Reagan were both from California. Does that mean their wins count less? I can redo that math if necessary.

Second, the fundamental human impulse to protect the familiar is often, in our vernacular, a conservative one, and the administrations of FDR, LBJ and Clinton provide case studies in the checking of radical reform by those on the right...the country's conservative tinge will shape how Obama governs rather than usher in a McCain era.

Let me reiterate what he's saying: The lesson of FDR and LBJ (and Clinton, which I'll give him) is that conservatives check liberal agendas. Really? The New Deal? The Great Society? The Civil Rights Act of 1964? Yeah, what I take away from those years is that it was really the conservatives who shaped our agenda. Jesus.

Okay, well, that can't be it, right? Surely there's more. Polls and studies, maybe even some demographic information, which points us toward the conclusion which ended up on the cover of the magazine.

Oh, good, I see quotes coming up, this must explain how when compared to post-WWII Europe we've been slower to allow government a more active role in maintaining the welfare of our citizens which points to something fundamental about our character as a nation.

"America is still a right-of-center country, which is what McCain is," McCain strategist Charlie Black told Holly Bailey. "Barack Obama is a conventional liberal. Ideologically, he's out of touch."


How liberal a President Obama would be is unknowable. There is no doubt that his Senate record supports Black's view.

Okay, everybody got that? America is conservative because a Republican strategist says so and Obama's Senate record--without a doubt--supports the view that, "Ideologically, he's out of touch." Without a doubt. No other interpretations. Only one way of seeing this. Black and white. As clear as John Edwards's political calendar.

Meacham explains himself at length in his own article on the topic here, but it's more of the same. Democrats are extremists because they aren't able to enact their liberal agendas (?). Republicans are our natural inclination because we don't trust government. Liberals will be disappointed because Obama won't ban handguns or make gay marriage legal (you know, the opposite of how Bush banned abortion and abolished the Department of Education. Man, that was a crazy first 100 days).

In other words, America is a conservative country because Democrats don't win as many presidential elections. Democrats don't win as many presidential elections because America is a conservative country. It's been a long time since I've taken a logic class, but I'm pretty sure there's a fallacy there somewhere. Wow, I forgot about logic. You guys hold on, I'm going to go do some syllogisms for fun....

...okay, I'm back.

The truth here is something that seems painfully obvious, and it's up to Rick Perlstein to point it out, "As far as public opinion goes, the American public is generally not center-right...What we do have is a center-right political system...[America's Founders] wrote a Constitution designed to make change a slow and deliberative process."

I understand that doesn't make for much a magazine cover, but it's probably an insight that doesn't deserve to be buried in the middle of an article that relies on quotes from McCain surrogates and Christopher Buckley as the primary evidence of its premise.


Exhibit 13.14

On Editing a Novel #10

MAKING YOUR NOVEL A BOOK OF HOLISTIC CURES. As you've been searching for a publisher for your novel, you've probably noticed that there aren't publishers anymore but only pharmaceutical companies. This might present a problem to less enterprising writers and the reading healthy, but you can take advantage of this situation if you take the proper steps to convert your novel into a book of natural cures. It's easy!

1. Make a list of the foods you don't like. These foods cause arm cancer.

2. Turn your sentimental and unconvincing title into something sentimental and convincing. Instead of "My" say "America's." Instead of "of" say "Cures Stolen from a." Instead of "Love" say "Native American Shaman." Instead of "Summer" say "Chi Cleansingist."

Thus, your horrible title, My Summer of Love, becomes America's Chi Cleansingist Cures Stolen from a Native American Shaman.

3. Grow a beard. Or, if a woman, overcome an abusive spouse.

4. Turn the antagonist in your book into a person called They. They is all of the people you don't like. They is the jerk who doesn't hold the elevator. They hates America. They loves foods that cause arm cancer. They keeps secrets from you. They is sort of cute but you're not, like, into They. They pals around with terrorists. They is full of anti-anti-oxidants. They drinks blood, but not the good kind of blood. They never calls. They doesn't want you to know. They is far away. They is cold when They sleeps, even under the covers. They never stops reminding you. They fights back. They is okay. They hates cures They doesn't create with chemicals. They doesn't know about Susan's fibromyalgia. They needs a cure They's self.

5. Include recipes from a Betty Crocker cookbook but replace sugar with ginseng and flour with fish oil in all of the recipes. If people later complain that the recipes don't turn out, tell them, "I don't know, I thought that made for a perfectly drinkable cake."

6. Most of your novel you can probably leave unchanged as long as you update the chapter titles to things like, "It's a Phact! Ph Levels and Lupus." Everyone will assume that your narrator's decision to tell Carla that he loves her is really a metaphor about coping with alopecia.

7. Sell your book at the fair.

8. Ride the Tilt-O-Whirl at the fair. If someone asks what this cures, tell them, "Your insufferability." If the person cries after this, pour them a nice cake to make it up to them.

If you follow these steps exactly, you are probably read to skip ahead to #16 USING YOUR NOVEL TO START A RELIGION.


Exhibit 13.13

A Running Catalogue of My Thoughts During an Automobile Accident on Sunday

Let's get coffee...I don't want to drive, Dad, you should...No, I don't think anything unordinary is going to happen either...Hey, that lady's going the unordinary way down 10th Street...So now we're spinning...Hooray for spinning...(hands in air)...Oops, we've stopped......Oh no, this is like one of those Volkswagen commercials with the unexpected car crash...Wow, the fact that I can only understand my reality through television commercials is a little sad...Paging, Dr. Delillo......Wait, I always spell his name wrong and I don't think that's right...Oh, yeah, I should see if my dad's okay...He is!...(assessing)...Hey, that lady's continuing to drive the wrong way down 10th Street...Huh, I bet she's coming back...My dad doesn't think she's coming back...Why can't you just let her in, Dad. Why can't you learn to trust?...Huh, doesn't seem like she's coming back...Hello, Officer, I won't hold it against you're the wrong type of Peterso/en...I think it was a silver Mazda-like car...Guy who witnessed the accident thinks it was a gold Corolla-like car...I wish we'd made it to get coffee...They caught her! Yes!...She's very elderly and was confused on her way to church! No!...Now I feel bad...It was a silver Kia...Yes! I nailed the continent of origin...I should tell Officer Peters(o)n what a reliable witness I would be in a murder case...No, no I shouldn't...Thanks, Officer Peters_n, you were most helpful if not a little misspelled....Coffee!...Bye, Dad, good luck with getting back to Kansas City...Oh, no, the Dolphins lost badly. This is the worst thing that's happened today except for that commercial I had...(whistling circus theme for several hours)...Oh, boy, I'm asleep!...Sure, I can help you stop the Nazis, Dr. Jones...(adventures)...Oh no, I'm awake and typing...

I know what you're all asking and the answer is, yes, I do spell proper names in my thoughts.

Exhibit 13.12

Love in the Time of Cholera

As I mentioned previously, I bought this book a few years back (and since the receipt was in the book I actually know exactly when: June 13, 2003, one month after I moved to Lincoln. Apparently I graduated from college, moved to Lincoln, bought plates and silverware for the first time, and then decided I needed Love in the Time of Cholera to finish my transition from undergraduate to adult jerknozzle).

The two or three times I picked it up with the intention of reading it always ended with me giving up at about page 15 for more interesting books and, even after finishing it, even after enjoying it mostly, I don't think I was wrong. It's not at all bad, but I can't help but read it as a bit of a victory lap after the incredible One Hundred Years of Solitude (and, probably more pertinent to Marquez himself, the Nobel Prize he'd already won). Every page seems to have been written with the intention of doing something epic, but despite the staggering depth of our knowledge of the two lovers, in the end it's hard for me to see anything except the fairly shallow story of a love triangle only seen as such by one corner.

The plot--a boy decides to never stop loving his young crush yet doesn't get a chance to win her heart until they are both elderly--is pretty genius and every one of Marquez's sentences is packed to the nouns with remarkable insight and detail, but it's all treated with the same seriousness and scope as his Macondo. It's possible I'm just cynical, but it's not clear anything Marquez has to say about love (it can be a sickness like cholera! it changes over time! it can corrupt and pervert!) needed to have been treated with such seriousness. It's a book that, despite its clear merits, that ends up quite a bit less alive than his earlier work. The one twist, such as it is, seems to be that the dedicated lover Florentino isn't really a figure we're supposed to revere though Marquez does his best not to judge the character's clear deficiencies (not least of which is his seduction of a 12-year-old girl he's charged with looking after).

It's also possible I'm just too naive to have really been sucked in by the lengthy section of the book between the silly passion of their youthful love and the amazing quiet of their geriatric love. The majority of the book deals with the vagaries of marriage and when I liked the book the least I imagined that I was experiencing a highbrow, literary version of a sitcom like, say, According to Jim called Marriage Is Weird or maybe What's the Deal with Love? That's not nearly fair, but there is a certain upperclass domesticity to everything that happens in the middle of the book which is where the lifelessness seems to be seeping in. During these pages the most interesting characters (e.g. the heroine's criminal but upwardly mobile father, a black woman who guides Florentino's career) disappear so that we can go into the details of each small fight inside of marriage and each affair conducted outside of it. Like I said, marriage is weird. Also, this love thing seems to have some kind of, I don't know, deal.

The book as a whole is much greater than its most sentimental and middle-aged moments, and, in the end, from any other author it would probably be a defining work. Marquez just so happens to be capable of much greater magic in both prose and intention that it's a bit of a tepid achievement for me. Still, it's a great title and, if nothing else, we can all take pleasure in the fact that this year is the 20th anniversary of people who want to impress a date listing this as their favorite book in order to seem like soft-hearted romantics. The book's take on love seems to contradict this usage, but who am I to argue with John Cusack?

On a completely unrelated note, my favorite television show is Love, What the Eff, Yo?


Exhibit 13.11

Man, Stringer Bell sure is screwed now.

Omar comin'! Omar comin'!

Exhibit 13.10

Happy 90th Birthday, Grandma.


Exhibit 13.9

Debate Thoughts

* Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber.

* As always, Obama was good. Calm, composed, and able to sit back and be the only real adult on stage. I had a moment where I worried that he might be laughing at McCain a bit too much, but McCain's exaggerated gestures, strange faces, and repeated references to a certain plumbum in Ohio meant that Obama was really just playing along with the audience.

* It's hard to say what's going on with the McCain campaign at this point. On one hand, Republicans did win the last presidential election by going solely for their base on policy while publicly flogging the other guy's patriotism and character. On the other hand, this obviously isn't last election and it should have been clear since before the conventions that this strategy wasn't going to work in an environment that is far more favorable to Democrats than any election since Watergate (not to mention the massive charisma disparity between Obama and Kerry [or Obama and McCain for that matter]). Why, in their last decent chance to win over the American people on Wednesday, they decided to fall back on Republican talking points for the Rush Limbaugh set is beyond me. Here, let's see if I can break down why this is stupid: (all paraphrases)

Economy= "This guy wants to redistribute your wealth." Um, John, on a day when the stock market dropped another 700+ points, people are far more concerned with maintaining modest wealth than worrying about the scary march of communism across the globe. For every "Joe the Plumber" who apparently thinks he's going to be making more than $250,000 soon, there are a lot more Americans who simply want a firmer foothold in the middle-class. If your opponent keeps saying, "95% of people get a tax break," and you keep playing to the 5%, you're going to lose.

Abortion= "Health of the mother is code for the pro-abortion crowd." Not according to a vast majority of Americans, the Supreme Court, and, in the last major attempt on an outright abortion ban, the state of South Dakota. Let me say that again: South Dakota voters rejected an abortion ban because it didn't contain exceptions for health. If it doesn't play in Yankton, it's not playing anywhere else. If your opponent follows up your craziness with a compassionate, rational defense of Roe v. Wade that gives Americans a way to compromise and get past this issue, and you sound like you want to throw fake blood on a teenage girl, you're going to...well, you know.

Education= "Vouchers, blah, blah, vouchers." Because clearly a lot of non-religious families out there want the chance to pay for private school right at the moment. Even if you ignore the obvious reasons that have nothing to do with education why religious leaders want programs like these, there are so many ways a nationwide voucher program doesn't make sense economically that it's not even worth going into. Thankfully, that's painfully obvious to anyone paying the least bit of attention to the candidate who also, bizarrely, claims he can have a "spending freeze."

Healthcare= "If like Senator Obama's plan, you'd love Canada and Great Britain." Way to misread the mood of the country, Mr. McCain! Do you honestly think a majority of Americans wouldn't take Canada's healthcare system straight up if they could? Jesus. At this point, I think there are more people upset that Obama's plan doesn't mandate coverage than there are upset by the spectre of universal healthcare.

* All of those positions are very hard right which is strange because McCain presumably chose Palin to lock up those voters while he moved to center. Picking Palin, which undercut experience, possibly his only winning argument against Obama, should have allowed McCain to revert back to being the moderate senator he was pre-2000 while Palin winked--literally it seems--to the right. This, um, didn't end up being the plan. Apparently his advisers accidentally opened the folder marked "GET 40 PERCENT OF THE VOTE" instead of the "WIN THE ELECTION" folder. Oops.

* It's obviously not over, but it's worth wondering at this point if McCain ever had a chance to seize the momentum in this election. To me, a winning strategy would have meant choosing a V.P. like Huckabee (personable, Christian, populist), immediately and publicly renouncing Bush (oddly, McCain has an ad out today that does just this, far too late), and making the maverick brand come alive with policy ideas rather than just repeating the word until it became an SNL joke while giving everyone the normal low-taxes, no abortion talking points.

* Going after women was clearly a mirage the Obama campaign was begging McCain to pursue. Within a month of making that demographic his biggest priority with the Palin pick, he had turn around and ambandon them completely because women seem to dislike Palin more than the average American and McCain himself has given up what was previously a moderate stance on abortion in order to please a base that no longer needs pleasing.

* It's also likely that McCain himself just isn't a very good politician on the national stage. He's not proving to be one of those candidates who can say one thing to his base and another thing to the public (by which I mean he's not a winning candidate). There's a way to placate conservatives on topics like abortion without alienating the rest of the country--here's a hint: don't mock the health of mothers--but again and again McCain only makes argument in black-and-white and not grey which should be his strength as a "maverick" and "an outsider." If McCain's advisers aren't dumb, and presumably they aren't, it's likely a lot of the blame falls on McCain himself for not knowing when to use which set of talking points.

* Mercifully, this is my last thought: I think McCain took the wrong message from 2000 when he decided he needed to tack right. There are a lot of reasons why candidates lose elections and to seize on the failure to placate the base as the cause was a misinterpretation of what really happened against Bush. Using the lessons of a primary election from 2000 in a general election in 2008 seems to have been where his campaign started to go wrong.


Exhibit 13.8

Thus ends the 4th day in which I have forgotten to inform my landlord that one of the neighbors ran into the backyard fence with a car. As I'm pretty sure the neighbors aren't going to be bringing this up, all responsibility falls on me. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Unless of course my landlord reads this blog in which case he now knows. No, that's crazy talk. No one reads this blog.

To-Do List for Thursday, October 16th:

1. Tell landlord about auto accident involving his property.
2. Get people to read this blog in order to communicate personal messages to them in a more timely fashion.
3. What are you doing for lunch, Hickman? I'm up for whatever.
4. See how Brett keeps sneaking out of now-mangled backyard fence.
5. Make to-do list for Friday, October 17th.
6. Weep until sleep comes.
7. Cross "Crying" off of the to-do list for Friday, October 17th with sense of sorrow/accomplishment.
8. Reconsider how I present self on this blog before people get the wrong idea.

Exhibit 13.7

The Royals have named Kevin Seitzer their new hitting coach. Hmm, let's see if I can find his business card somewhere. Ah, here we go:

Not only does that illuminate the startling lack of pertinent information found on my own business cards, but it pretty much says it all it needs to about Seitzer's qualifications for this or any other job. I'd hire Seitzer to reupholster my sofa and marry my sister if I could.

I've already written about Seitzer here, but I didn't come right out and admit the horrible truth: Kevin Seitzer is my favorite baseball player. I liked him better than George Brett as a child which is why I currently have a Kevin Seitzer Starting Lineup figure on my work desk while my brother has a presumably more valuable George Brett Starting Lineup figure in a closet somewhere.

(ed note: I looked into this. Neither is worth anything which is good because I'm not selling. Not unless the price goes over $1.75. Then I might sell. Sorry, Kev, but a guy has to raise money if his sister ever wants a husband).

Seitzer was never quite as good as his remarkable rookie season which just so happened to occur at the same time and in the same league as Mark McGwire's even more remarkable rookie season (49 home runs!). Benito Santiago, who won the Rookie of the Year in the NL that year, had an OPS+ 17 points lower than Seitzer's, and while Santiago was a catcher, it's still almost a certainty that Seitzer would have won it over him had they been in the same league. Seitzer also had far better all around numbers than 1986's AL winner, Jose Canseco, but Canseco hit a lot of HRs so it probably would have been a tossup. 1988's AL winner was the absolutely dreadful Walt Weiss. How that season (.633 OPS, 81 OPS+) managed to get anyone, even a shortstop, a Rookie of the Year award is beyond me (although all the rookies were dreadful that year. Reading the names of the other finalists is like reading names off of tombstones).

I wish Seitzer could have won the Rookie of the Year because I think his career might have gone quite a bit differently if he had. If nothing else, he probably wouldn't have been unceremoniously released by the Royals in the middle of spring training in 1992. At that point, everyone seemed to realize that he was never going to be George Brett, but as a kid who willingly traded George Brett cards straight up for Kevin Seitzer cards, it seemed like an insult to one of the cornerstone members of the team.

Rumors had it that Seitzer was a bit of a wild asshole during the first half of his Royals tenure (he drank too much) and then too much of a sanctimonious asshole during the second half (he stopped drinking and found [De]Jesus), but by all accounts he's a great guy, a class act now, and the Royals are lucky to have him back.

--Adam Peterson

Bats: Scare Him
Throws: Sort of Sissy Like
This Way To The Clubhouse: Adam went undrafted in baseball and every other sport.


Exhibit 13.6

More like, The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Dick.

(high five)

Also acceptable would have been, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting about That Guy I Ratted Out to the Police That One Time Because I Was in Love with His Girlfriend and Was All Pissed He Came Back to Totally Step All Over My Game. I Wonder What Happened to That Guy? I Thought They Were Going to Kill Him but Maybe I Heard He Was Just Sent to Do Forced Labor in a Uranium Mine. I Don't Know. Whatever. I Wonder What Happened to That Girl? I Should Totally Hit Her Up. God, I Haven't Thought about Her Forever. Why Didn't That Ever Work Out? Oh, That's Right, I Sent That Dude Who Was Living with Her to His Death. Man, That Was Crazy Funny But Not Particularly Memorable. Thank God I Developed a Philosophy That Recuses Me from Any Feelings of Guilt or Responsibility. That Sure Was Convenient.


Exhibit 13.5

How could they make spy movies so much better:

(Warning, some The Spy Who Came in from the Cold spoilers)

And trailers so much worse.

"Brace yourself for greatness!" Really? That's what worked in the sixties? Scientists never should have invented hyperbole in 1958. They were mad with power! They thought they were gods!


Exhibit 13.4

This is almost sad. I think you can actually see the moment when John McCain realizes that he's going to go down in history as the guy who ran the race-baitin'ist campaign this side of George Wallace. Even after the unbridled and irrational anger of his last few campaign events, it's almost like he didn't realize that those wackos were the norm and not the exceptions.

Here's the thing: the McCain campaign knew exactly what they were doing when they added the line "Who is the real Barack Obama?" to their stump speeches. The first time they did it, someone yelled, "Terrorist!" and the senator (who visibly winced when he heard it) didn't bother sticking up for his opponent's fundamental loyalty to his country. That McCain now has to convince his own crowds that Barack Obama is an American is nobody's fault but McCain's. These fringe elements were always present, of course, but McCain apparently decided to make the lies normally passed around in chain emails a central theme of his campaign. And so those who might have once believed in private that Obama is a "secret Muslim" (still my favorite meme of the campaign. I want to name a band Secret Muslim) now feel like they have a candidate who agrees and wants to spread the truth before it's too late.

That McCain had to correct a woman who was a foot away from him when she called his opponent an "Arab" is very likely to be one of the indelible moments of this campaign cycle. And nobody is going to give a shit that McCain apparently felt bad when his supporters misinterpreted his covert swipes at Obama's patriotism as overt swipes at Obama's patriotism.


Exhibit 13.3

Last night I went to see Tell No One at the Ross. (Very good movie, by the way. Not perfect, but genuinely gripping and about as touching a mystery as you'll find. You should see it although tonight is its last night in Lincoln and you're already going to the Clean Part reading).

The Ross, if you've never been, has a wide hallway with a theater on the left side, a theater on the right, and a concession stand at the end of the hallway. Often times it's very quiet and empty except for the employees. Last night after I purchased my ticket I walked into the hallway and between me and the oddly shuttered concession stand was a table with the guy who played McLovin in Superbad sitting there and staring at me. Sure, there were a couple of other people hanging around but it was clear this was all about McLovin because as soon as I came around the corner they all stopped talking and waited to see if I was going to:

A) Say, "Hey, you're McLovin" to the guy who was McLovin
B) Say, "Hey, you're not McLovin" to one of the guys who wasn't McLovin
C) Say, "Hey, why is the concession stand closed? I wanted some Whoppers. Will you give me some Whoppers, McLovin?"

Yes, Option C was on the table even though I didn't want Whoppers or feel confident that McLovin would have given me some even if I'd asked.

I said none of these things, of course, but I did get to walk about ten awkward feet in complete silence toward the table before taking a hard left into my own theater. This action surely disappointed McLovin who presumably said, "Hey, that guy's not McLovin" to one of the guys who was also not McLovin.

Today, this article tipped me off to the fact that he was in town to introduce a sneak preview of his new movie at the Ross and to referee a beer pong tournament downtown. Which is also weird because my beer pong tournament was refereed by the guy who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite, but he was cool about it.


Exhibit 13.2

Adventures in Voicemail

Hi, Adam, it's your mom. Your father and I are at the Renaissance Fair and I was calling to see if you'd have any interest in one of these clay pots. They're really neat. Anyway, give me a call back if you get this and want a clay pot. We'll be here for awhile. They have donkeys, but I don't think your father wants to go on a ride until after we hear the Gaelic singers. Oh, I'll get you some honey, too. Bye.

I don't know when a mead-enthusiast, World of Warcraft-playing fifteen-year old replaced my mom, but I like it. This is much more fun and I do need honey. I'm calling this an upgrade.

Exhibit 13.1

Debate Thoughts

* My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends, My Friends.

* I'll admit it: for the first time since he started cozying up to the base of his party, I felt sorry for John McCain. As with Dole, his war injuries really make him awkward whenever he's not behind a podium and the way he wandered around during Obama's answers was less 'dynamic maverick' and a little more 'grandpa's gotten lost.' Unlike with Dole, McCain is not going to come out of this as a venerable American doing Pepsi and Viagra commercials. We all liked Dole so much better after he lost (mostly because we didn't have to worry about him being president), but a McCain loss is going to leave behind an isolated and angry old man who may not have the years left to cool down and regain everyone's respect.

* It's abundantly clear that the only way McCain knows how to compete is by forcing himself to hate his opponent which, I suppose, is an effective trait in a war but not so much in politics. Maybe South Carolina in 2000 changed him (though suddenly it seems a little more plausible that McCain himself played a hand in fermenting the bitterness which the Bush camp ultimately took to the next, deplorable level). Whatever the case, I don't think there are many of us who wouldn't have preferred a McCain presidency to a Bush one if those were our only two options. That at this point the two are more or less equally dishonorable in my mind is a little sad. From Palin to the negative ads to the way he treats Obama when they share a stage, McCain has likely cost himself a chance to be remembered as anything other than the candidate who ran a racially charged campaign against our country's first black president. If Obama does win, and at this point it's seeming very likely, that anger is not going to be remembered well once any context goes away.

* Obama was great, speaking clearly and with authority while not letting himself take the bait and get bogged down in a shouting match. I thought he could have been more forceful in defending his grossly mischaracterized health care and tax policies, but, as is often the case with his candidacy, he did a better job selling his vision and himself than the details. I'm fine with that, and at this point America is too. It's clear that people just want someone they can believe in and Obama's that guy. It was hard not to think of Obama every time McCain said that, "we need a cool/steady hand on the tiller."

* Speaking of which, whoever let McCain say that tiller line should be fired. Not only does it recall Obama much more than McCain, it sounds archaic. My guess is they tried to beat it out of him with a different phrase but McCain couldn't help himself (hence the first "cool hand on the tiller" oddity).

* It's good for all of us that none of the personal attacks came up in this debate. Apparently the McCain camp is now going to drop any mention of Ayers and Wright, but it's too late for them to take the high road. For Obama's part, I thought one of his campaign's few missteps in the last month was launching that Keating Five website on the same day they knew McCain was stepping up his attacks. Instead of two days of "McCain ramps up personal attacks" headlines they gave the media the opportunity to run more even-handed "Campaigns turn personal" stories. It's the wrong year for pettiness.

* Tom Brokaw was pretty horrible. I don't think he was biased or anything, but there definitely wasn't a question asked of McCain as loaded as this one to Obama, "So are you saying, Senator Obama, that the world is going to end and that mothers will have to smother their children rather than watch them starve?"

* I should point out that I was paraphrasing there.


Exhibit 12.27

So I'm reading my copy of Love in the Time of Cholera for the company book club, and it's an old hardcover that I picked up for $2 at a used bookstore a while back. In all ways it seems not to have been read at all. Perfect spine. Perfect dust jacket. Unmarked pages...or so I thought. On page 154 there is one passage underlined in perfect pencil strokes done with the aid of a ruler or bookmark. Nothing before that. Nothing after that.

The passage:

"...he convinced her that one comes into the world with a predetermined allotment of lays, and whoever does not use them for whatever reason, one's own or someone else's, willingly or unwillingly, loses them forever."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I bought David Duchovny's copy of Love in the Time of Cholera.



Exhibit 12.26

There are some fantastic readings in Lincoln this week although there aren't any before Thursday. Until then you're stuck reading to yourself. Or call me. We can read each other random web pages until they become pornographic or anti-semitic or both simultaneously. At that point we'll close the computer and repeat the word blog to each other until Thursday happens.

Neither of these readings appear to have posters so I'll just give them the posters I think they'd want.

1. The Clean Part Reading Series

Peter Gizzi and Julie Carr
Thursday, October 9th
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery

2. The No Name Reading Series

Dave Madden and Michelle Menting
Friday, October 10th
Sur Tango Bar


Exhibit 12.25

Reasons Not to Go to War with Spain

1. Goya

2. Paella

3. There is no third reason. But if you claim popular Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz for this spot, I wouldn't object.

Reasons to Go to War with Spain

1. Armadas

2. That Ship We're Still Pretending They Sank in 1898

3. Inquisitions

4. Spanish Actor Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh

5. Pickpocketing Our Friends

I'll let you decide this one.


Exhibit 12.24

I recently began writing in a new font, if not permanently then at least for this current thing I'm doing. As this current thing I'm doing is going to take a while, it looks like I'm stuck with...wait for it...

Bolded Courier New

Sigh. I know. If it helps, I'm thinking about losing the bold. Embarrassingly, I actually hadn't planned on bolding the font, but I forgot to turn it off after I typed the title. As the title was all I could manage that first day--well, I guess I also hit enter a few times and possibly typed my name before watching Project Runway or whatever it is you think I do with my time--by the time I came back the next day I'd forgotten and just started typing away. It's not quite as bad as it sounds since, as Wikipedia tells me, Courier is a monospaced font and the bolding darkens the words without making them take up more space on the page.

Still, I feel a little bit like one of those old writers who bregudingly switched to computers in the 1980s and ever since has tried whatever they could to replicate the typewriter experience. Are there writers like that? I imagine Delillo is like that. So, yeah, I feel like Delillo if Delillo wrote crap and didn't know how to properly capitilize his own name.

So why the switch? I have no idea. I used to write in Garamond which is what 99% of you are probably seeing when you read this blog.

(Hold on, let me do the math here:

4 readers + 1 spambot + me X .99 = # > # of Boxcar Children)

I still like Garamond--though I'm a bit jealous of Mac users who have Hoeffler Text--and all of my final drafts will probably end up in it one way or the other, but I guess I was tired of writing something and having it look finished so early in the process. The great thing about Courier is that it looks so horrible it's like evil is chasing your words down the page as you type and if you stop it's going to get you. So there's that.