Sunday, August 31, 2008

CNN's Fun Factoids

Shortest convention - 6 hours in Baltimore in 1872

Longest convention - 17 days in 1924

Youngest nominee - William Jennings Bryan was 36 when nominated in 1896

First African American to get delegate vote - Frederick Douglass got 1 vote in 1888.

First Democratic convention - 1832 nominated Andrew Jackson for his second term

City with most conventions - Chicago, 25 in all.

Erotic Poetry From Movie, Silk

My beloved
Do not be afraid
Do not move.
Do not speak.

No one will see us.
Stay as you are.
I want to look at you.
We have tonight to ourselves and I want to look at you.

Your body for me
Your skin
Your lips
Close your eyes.
No one can see us.
And I am here at your side.

Do you feel me?

When I touch you for the first time, it will be with my lips.

You will feel the warmth
But you will not know where.

Perhaps it will be on your eyes.
I will press my mouth to your eyes and you will feel the warmth.

Open your eyes now, my beloved.
Look at me.
Your eyes on my breast.
Your arms lifting me.
Letting me slide on to you.
My faint cry
Your body quivering.

There is no end to it.
Don't you see?

You will forever be throwing your head back.
I will forever be shaking off my tears.

This moment had to be.
This moment is.
And this moment will continue from now until forever.

We shall not see one another again.
What were meant to do we have done.
Believe me, my love, we have done it forever.

Preserve your life out of my reach.

And if it serves your happiness do not hesitate for a moment to forget this woman, who now says, without a trace of regret, farewell.

Hurrican Fay in Fort Lauderdale

On Monday when Fay was approaching, I was driving a friend to the airport. We drove along the shore and saw a few morons kite surfing. Later on the news, I saw this report, in which he crashed. The clip says Miami, but it was in Fort Lauderdal.

And yes we saw the television truck too and even commented on the incongruity of the news remarking on how dangerous the storm was while people were out playing.

Comment Here Promoting Palin

Just a note that some prodigious blogger/commenter remarked on my Biden post from last weekend to promote Palin.

Click here to read what the guy wrote to me on Monday. I admit, I dismissed it out of hand, having heard of her ethical problems.

I heard him interviewed this morning on CNN too. The guy has been all over the place!

Better Than Expected Brideshead

I saw Brideshead Revisted and liked it better than expected. It was luscious, beautifully melancholy, gorgeous clothes. And better acted than I expected. Venice, Oxford, Castle Howard are all filmed to show off their best qualities. I found it all romantic.

Here's a review with which I agreed from The New York Observer, which concludes with the following:
I believe that Mr. Jarrold and his scenarists have been unusually faithful to the bleak vision of humanity Waugh presents in Brideshead Revisited, and in all his works. It is a first for me, and I hope a last. Consequently, I recommend the brilliant pessimism of this film to all my readers, who I hope will appreciate the exquisitely rendered truthfulness of the narrative. As for the unredeemably pleasure-seeking hedonists among you, don’t say I didn’t warn you. On the other hand, nothing is more depressing in these dire times than a steady diet of mindlessly escapist flicks.
I liked that line - "brilliant pessimism" Yes, it was brilliant.

Picasso's Guernica in 3 Dimensions

My friend Cecilia sends me the most amazing videos to be found on the internet. She sent me the sand painter before the artist got a gig doing commercials for network television. I featured that work here on the blog for Valentine's Day.

Now, here is a 3D version of Picasso's Guernica by artist Lena Gieske. Picasso painted this work in response to the Nazi's destruction of the town of Guernice in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.

It's haunting to watch, which you can do here.

Biden versus Hillary as VP - The Numbers

The New Republic asked last week if Biden can "Out-Hillary Hillary"
The principal rationale for selecting Hillary Clinton as Barack Obama's running mate is that she would have united Democrats behind their nominee at a time when they have a substantial advantage in party identification. John Kerry received 89 percent of the Democratic vote in 2004; if Barack Obama can get within a couple of points of that, even to 86 or 87 percent, he will be very difficult to defeat.

However, Joe Biden might do nearly as good a job as Clinton of uniting the party, while perhaps paying less of a price among independents.

Rasmussen has fresh approval numbers out for Biden, as well as several other Democratic short-listers. Here, borrowed from Rasmussen's invaluable subscriber service, are their approval scores by party:
Click here to see the rest

Kerouac's Writing Tips

Great list I'd never seen before from Jack Kerouac - Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.

Some of my favorite tips -
  1. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  2. Believe in the holy contour of life
  3. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  4. Bookmovie is the movie in words,the visual American form
  5. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  6. Accept loss forever
  7. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  8. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  9. Be in love with yr life
  10. Something that you feel will find its own form
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest

Peggy Noonan on Biden

Hat tip to Sullivan who brought this to my attention. Worth quoting:
The great thing about Joe Biden during the Alito hearings, the reason he is, to me, actually endearing, is that as he speaks, as he goes on and on and spins his long statements, hypotheticals, and free associations--as he demonstrates yet again, as he did in the Roberts hearings and even the Thomas hearings, that he is incapable of staying on the river of a thought, and is constantly lured down tributaries from which he can never quite work his way back--you can see him batting the little paddles of his mind against the weeds, trying desperately to return to the river but not remembering where it is, or where it was going. I love him. He's human, like a garrulous uncle after a drink.
Read the whole piece here. (mostly about the Alito hearings)

Obama's Mother

Oops - realized I'd not posted David Maraniss piece - Though Obama Had to Leave to Find Himself, It Is Hawaii That Made His Rise Possible. Was in Washington Post earlier in the week, last Friday August 22nd. Horrible title; it's more about his mother than about Hawaii. But the article provided new information to me, who has read much on Obama.

A few money quotes:
Those who come from islands are inevitably shaped by the experience. For Obama, the experience was all contradiction and contrast.
On Obama and his mother:
Starting at an early age, he noticed how his mother was curious and open, eager to find the best in people and situations, intent on softening the edges of the difficult world for her hapa son. There were many times when this made him think that she was naive, sometimes heartbreakingly so, and that he had to be the realist in the family. To some degree, especially as he tried to explain himself later in "Dreams From My Father," he seemed to use his mother as a foil, setting her up as the quintessential well-intentioned white liberal idealist as a contrast to his own coming of age as a modern black man.

Whether this perception reflected objective reality is open to question. In her dealings later as a community worker and anthropologist in Indonesia and around the world, Ann showed a keen appreciation of the power structure and how to work with it or around it, and her doctoral thesis and other writings reveal a complex understanding of people and their motivations, free of dreamy idealism and wishful thinking. But she certainly tried to present the world in the most hopeful, unthreatening light to her children, first Barry and then his little sister, Maya, the daughter she bore with Soetoro.

Most unusual insight:

Here was an early paradox that helped shape Obama's life, one he would confront again and again as he matured and remade himself: A certain strain of realism can lead to inaction. A certain form of naivete can lead to action.

Check it out.

Thoughts On Biden, Before He Was VP Pick

Mark Halperin from Time Magazine posted an anonymous memo from a Democratic strategist I want to reproduce in full here, as it echoes some of my own thoughts. Note that this was circulated before Biden was in fact selected.

“Biden is deeply thoughtful, serious, passionate, experienced, highly knowledgeable, and incredibly sensible and clear when talking about major issues. He has a vast and creative understanding of politics and policy, a sharp mind, and a sincere heart. He’s totally ready to be president. Together, Obama and Biden would represent the best of the last 30 years of the Democratic Party, and the hope for the next 30.”

“Biden may be a ridiculous, overbearing blowhard, and he’ll doubtless make foolish blunders and imprudent comments if he’s on the ticket, but he’d still be an excellent campaigner, surrogate, and debater. He’d be thrilled at the prospect of being vice president (his own aspirations aside), and grateful and proud to have been chosen–he’d work hard to make Obama look good, and not deliberately outshine him–plus the chemistry will be appealing, and they genuinely like and respect each other, which will be winningly apparent.”

“Also, America is no longer a place where citizens care about plagiarism or hair plugs. A Biden pick would immediately elevate Obama’s gravitas, give him a semblance of humility, delight the media, and reassure the nation that a grownup is involved. Democrats would be simultaneously relieved and apprehensive, but they’d be pleased with the choice overall. Plus, Biden is Catholic, is a Washington insider in a good way (a hardworking man of the people unchanged by three decades inside the Beltway), and has a tragic history with a happy ending.”

Here's David Brooks - Hoping It's Biden

Also worth checking out is Josh Marshall re-posting of a 2004 interview he did with Biden.

Back in 2004, I sat down for an at-length interview with Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) in his office on Capitol Hill. The context of the time was the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry, and the foreign policy particulars of four years ago. But I think it's still a very valuable prism to understand how he thinks about foreign policy. Biden is going to do plenty of interviews about foreign policy questions over the next two months. But it will be in the context of his running as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee. So obviously he'll be more careful, more scripted, less willing to think outloud about Iraq, Afghanistan and the differences between Democratic and Republican foreign policy thinking.

Obama, Self-Made

For a New Political Age, A Self-Made Man is the New York Times effort to match Mariniss. Not as good, but revealing.
In the way Mr. Obama has trained himself for competition, he can sometimes seem as much athlete as politician. Even before he entered public life, he began honing not only his political skills, but also his mental and emotional ones. He developed a self-discipline so complete, friends and aides say, that he has established dominion over not only what he does but also how he feels. He does not easily exult, despair or anger: to do so would be an indulgence, a distraction from his goals. Instead, they say, he separates himself from the moment and assesses.

Then there's this observation -

There is little about him that feels spontaneous or unpolished, and even after two books, thousands of campaign events and countless hours on television, many Americans say they do not feel they know him. The accusations of elusiveness puzzle those closest to the candidate. Far more than most politicians, they say, he is the same in public as he is in private.

The mystery and the consistency may share the same root: Mr. Obama, 47, is the first presidential candidate to come of age during an era of relentless 24-hour scrutiny.

Once in a very long while, Mr. Obama will relax his guard completely. Two years ago at a party celebrating the publication of his second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” the new senator rose to say a few words, recalled Ms. Jarrett. As he talked about what his new job in Washington had cost his wife and two daughters, tears began to course down his face, leaving him unable to continue.

Michelle Obama rescued him with a kiss, and after a moment, everyone started to applaud.

I have to say, I saw Jodi Kantor, the author of this piece, on Charlie Rose this week and was less than impressed. She didn't add anything to the actual discussion going on, nor for anyone who'd already read her piece.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I’m thrilled. I supported Biden’s bid in ’88, met him on the Amtrak train (and he wants better trains in the USA), and adored him since Bork.

Why Biden is a Good Choice
  1. His genuineness - this dovetails well with Obama's quest to restore faith in government and governing. So even Biden gaffes will serve Obama's campaign.
  2. His demographics - He is Catholic, middle class and older folks (women especially) like him. All areas that can only boost Obama's numbers. There is already talk of how much he helps Obama in FL.
  3. His knowledge - this is not just in the area of foreign policy but also in the area of the judiciary. It is because of Joe Biden that the court is 4-4 - and then tie breaker Kennedy. His instrumental role in defeating Bork led the way to Souter being on the bench. Roe would have already been overturned if not for Biden (which is a peculiar irony since he was against Roe in the early 80s. Any jurist will tell you it is a poorly reasoned decision, but it's also because Biden is Catholic and is personally pro-life).
  4. His likability - particularly amid his Republican colleagues (see below). He was one of the gang of 8 - which keep the filibuster alive. This helps Obama's message of change away from partisan politics. And he is funny.
  5. His bull-doggedness - He can deliver zingers and still be liked. I've watched him in lots and lots of congressional hearings. He is a very smart lawyer and can turn people around in their thoughts until they can't think straight. He tells it straight. He'll be a terrific attack dog.
The VP Debate & Likely GOP Pick: And well, I can hardly wait until Thursday October 2nd at 8 pm when Biden will debate (hopefully Romney). Romney’s head will be spinning more than the exorcist baby (and every Republican will be throwing up). Should be a pay per view event.
Word is that McCain will pick Romney. Doesn’t matter – Biden knows more and debates better than most public servants. Like Obama, Biden teaches law school too.
From Politico’s Playbook Saturday morning:
The officials say Sen. Barack OBAMA’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden finished off any remaining chance for youthful Minnesota Gov. Tim PAWLENTY to be on the GOP ticket. “Can you imagine what Biden would do to Pawlenty in the debate?” asked one top Republican. “It would just be sad.”

BREAKING: The GOP officials say that besides Romney, another apparent finalist McCain was believed to be pondering at his Arizona cabin this weekend was retired general Colin POWELL. But based on the blowback from the senator’s trial balloon, most McCain aides think Powell’s support of abortion rights would make that idea a non-starter.
Hmmm – hung on their own petard. Not only that – Powell is privately supports Obama. Just 2 weeks ago, public speculation that Powell would endorse Obama lit up.

Other GOP Senators support Obama's choice: There is also widely quoted support on the pick from Rep. Senators Lugar and Hagel. (Yeah!). Apparently – Lugar recommended Biden to Obama. Watch Caroline Kennedy today on Meet the Press. Maybe she'll confirm that.

Timing of Announcement and Hillary: Texts arrived at 3 am – hmmm – like that “3 am phone call” McCain campaign suggests this is a dig at Hillary (if that’s true, it’s more a dig at Bill, since he approved that ad – see Josh Green in Atlantic). I actually heard someone going on and on at how this pick was a dig at Hillary. Turned out she was a Republican stirring up trouble.
Let's be clear - Biden REALLY has 35 years of experience. New Republic's Nate Silver suggests that Biden Can Out Hillary Hillary.

And can do it without
  • a. alienating independents
  • b. the Clinton baggage and
  • c. without alienating Obama's new base - the young who loathe Hillary.
In fact, timing was driven by the fact the news broke at 1 am on the internet. Plan was for them to arrive around 7 am.

What The Ability To Keep a Secret Means:
I do think that the fact that Obama’s campaign was able to keep this under wraps and in their control, bodes well for their ability to govern. They do what they say they’re going to do and can get it done.
Biggest Reason Biden Was Picked
he can get it done. Obama, above, all else is a pragmatist. This quality is one of 3 highlighted on the campaign web site:

Barack has chosen Joe Biden to be his running mate. Joe Biden brings extensive foreign policy experience, an impressive record of collaborating across party lines, and a direct approach to getting the job done.

My favorite remark (from an Atlantic reader)
Thank God, it's Biden. Love the guy, love the pairing. Can't wait to see them together. I'm thinking it's like Astaire and Kelly, two equal but different talents. Elegant cool versus muscular earthy.
Now Lord, please give us Romney.
And I very highly recommend the current issue of The Atlantic – three GREAT piece on the campaign –
  1. an outstanding piece on the upcoming debates Rhetorical Questions by James Fallows – the guy who predicted the mess in Baghdad in "The 51st State" and wrote Blind Into Baghdad,
  2. Josh Green's riveting and revealing summary of the missteps of the Clinton campaign in The Front-Runner's Fall and
  3. a thoughtful piece on who can really bring unity to Washington by Ron Brownstein - Reconcilable Differences
First Biden Mis-speak (from Politico)- “Barack America” – which isn’t exactly off message.

Best Ticket Nickname
(also from Politico)
OVERHEARD: One reporter says her 9 -year-old refers to the ticket as “BoJo.” (Hat tip: Greektown)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


A piece from The Atlantic, published in 2000, on Russia and Georgia can be found here

I saw the president of Georgia on CNN on Sunday.  Very impressive interview.  Mostly I liked how he managed to make Wolf Blitzer looked like a moron, with his silly questions.  

On Edwards

Devastating pieces about the woman Edwards’ fell in with.   
First, Dowd just lashes him to pieces, in her column Saturday.  The Jay McInerney line had me laughing out aloud.  But you have to have read some of McInerney's books - Bright Lights, Big City, The Good Life, and the one in which the heroine - Alison Poole - is based on Lisa Druck (a.k.a. Rielle Hunter), called Story of My Life (1989), and now being reprinted as Amazon is out as of Monday afternoon. 
Second, farther down, a pretty devasting piece from Newsweek that made the front pages of both NYC tabloids on Monday.   It's the story of a reporter and his source, flirtation, courtship, and clearly a dance - with the reporter.  
I must say, though the Newsweek reporter claims she nice (she sent him flowers when his father died), she seems to me to be the worst kind of devil, using “spirituality” and “the power of now” as a come-on.  It’s all pretty astonishing, that a smart man like Edwards could buy that bunk.   
Personally, it disturbs me because she belittles (making it seem like a trend for a shallow party girl) some things I care about.  But she perverts them in selfish ways, the most selfish.  
It’s wrong for the same reasons a yoga teacher shouldn’t sleep with her student.   You pervert something (“yoga”) that can bring “wholeness” or a “sense of completeness”, or even simply “feeling better,” into something it’s not (“love”) in order to get sex or status or a job you’re not qualified for.      
The ever reliable New York Observer has more.   Hunter introduced herself:
At an event with supporters and donors at a New York City restaurant, Hunter introduced herself to some of Edwards' staff and gave them her business cards, saying she was a producer, and was allowed to briefly meet Edwards, according accounts given by Hunter and Edwards' staff.
I'm suspect of anyone who completely changes their name, as she did in 1994.  She was 30. 

Three salient differences between Edwards and Clinton:
  1. Edwards didn't lie under oath, believing, arrogantly, that he was not subject to the law or that he had to tell the truth in his deposition.  It was for this transgression and illegality that Bill Clinton was disbarred.  And he should have been.  And he should have been impeached.  
  2. Hunter got a contract job; Lewinsky got an interview with the UN Ambassador.   To me and why Clinton's transgression still makes my head explode (while Edwards just makes me sad), is that Lewinsky worked for Clinton, she was clearly suborninate - an intern, not a contract player.    Hunter may have gotten a job she wasn't qualified for but she was a peer, not a suborninate.  Lewinsky on the other hand was a very young women, an intern, who was still learning that how the world works and how to work in the world.  And what Clinton taught her is that it's productive to get down on your knees for powerful men.  That makes me very angry.  Still.   
  3. Clinton had a record as a sexual predator - coming onto women who had no interest and using his powerful position to get and intimidate women (Jones and Wiley).   That's harassment.  Edwards, so far, has not exhibited that behavior (though pretty strange rationalizations, to be sure).  
While I worked on Capitol Hill I had to fend off such agressions and constantly be on guard.    And still, despite the fact that I did not submit, I was treated by other woman as if I wanted this attention or liked this behavior.  Female bosses on Capitol Hill would not take me to meetings because the dumb ass men in the room would pay more attention to me, the underling, than to her.    I got all the grief but none of the gratutity.  
So I still resent the fact that men like Clinton go unpunished and protected by their wives - who, like my former boss - seemed to blamed the young woman rather than the other way around.   

I think that's why I still have a viceral reaction to Clinton in a way that this news about Edwards just doesn't inspire.  
The go-to blog on the Edwards sadness is Mickey Kaus at Slate.  He's been talking about this for months and months and months.  (It's where I first heard of it).     
And here's a piece about why Elizabeth Edwards, knowing what she did, thought her husband should run.   

My mom liked Edwards.  A lot.  His focus on poverty really appealed to her, because she grew up poor.  

Cyber War - Russia Attacks Georgia

Is this the new front of war? (from Wired)

Pretty scary. 

Google and Estonia to the rescue. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Obama's New Book

Obama’s new book – a secret until now.  
Read more and see the cover here.   

Will include 7 "key" speeches, including:
  1. The speech section includes his declaration of candidacy in Springfield, Ill. in February 2007;
  2. his victory remarks after the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 ("You know, they said this day would never come"); 
  3. his speech on race in America, "A More Perfect Union," in Philadelphia in March;
  4. his Father's Day speech in Chicago; 
  5. his "Renewing American Competitiveness" remarks in June; and 
  6. his address to the people of Berlin two weeks ago, "A World That Stands as One."
No word on the 7th - should be the New Hampshire speech; that's the one that was made into an internet hit by    

I remembered his other two books were part of a 3 book deal..  This is not the "3rd" book.   A children's book is (which I also remembered); reported again here:
Under a separate deal, the senator is to write two more books for Crown, including a children’s book with his wife, Michelle, and their two young daughters. Those books were part of a $1.9-million, three-book deal announced in December 2004.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Obama's Life in Outline Form

Neat tool from Slate - outlines Obama's life from a variety of perspectives
1. his own speeches
2. his own books
3. recent news coverage
4. contemporary news coverage

Starts at 1961 in Hawaii, right up to present day.   Having read both his books, I think the tool is pretty helpful.  And interesting.

Check it out here

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Poem For the Day: One Hundred Love Sonnets

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII
by Pablo Neruda

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as one loves certain obscure things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries
the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,
and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose
from the earth lives dimly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,
except in this form in which I am not nor are you,
so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,
so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

For an NPR interview on Neruda, click here.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

JibJab Political Cartoon - Watch for Me!

The latest, and best, offering from JibJab (and it's not just the best because I'm in it).  The tune stays in your head for days.  Enjoy!

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

I would argue that this was the beginning of showing how to mock Obama - arguably hard to do because of his race (just ask The New Yorker).   Since then, Jon Stewart is doing Obamaquest.  McCain doing celebrity and Moses ads.   So now, obviously, my feelings are mixed on this.

Another note - a friend (male) thought this would be problemmatic for Obama - "he looks like a fairy."   My perspective, as a woman - was that he was prince charming coming to save the world (me) on his unicorn, straight out of Sleeping Beauty's woods.   Not a problem.  I was struck at the completely different perceptions! 

Given how this has percolated my male friend may have been right. 

The Ones I Love (Political Sites)

Since I'm going dark for 3 weeks, I wanted to collect here in my last entry for a time, my regular political sites that I regularly check out.

The Page (Time)

Huffington Post

Politico's Playbook
Politico's Ben Smith

Talking Points Memo
Talking Points Memo Election Central

The Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic)
Marc Ambinder (The Atlantic)

The New Republic
The Plank (New Republic)
The Stump (New Republic)

Slate's Election Central

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

On the Anthrax Case

This is THE guy to read on the anthrx case: Glenn Greenwald.


The MUST READ - from August 3rd - Journalists, their lying sources, and the antrhax investigation.

Tuesday August 5th - On the "developing case"

From today, August 6th - The FBI's Selective Release of Documents in Anthrax Case

On Obama's Law Teaching


Here's the New York Times on the subject - with the ACTUAL exams and even from the early years the exam answers! Very, very cool.

Then Slate unpacks and evaluates how he did as a teacher. Verdict - as expected!

From Slate -
Whoa. So here are the roots of Obama's statements that he will pick judges who have "heart" and "empathy" because he thinks that in a small but key set of cases, a judge must fall back on "his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings." Obama is not a man, or a lawyer, who believes that at least in these hellishly difficult matters of constitutional interpretation, judges are truly guided by legal precedent, or abstract reasoning, or anything other than their gut and the outcome they prefer. This is not the way most politicians talk about the court.
I love this guy's brain. I love the law and I love this guy's brain! The complexity he is willing to see, debate, discuss, embrace is like a cool drink of water on smoggy, muggy, digusting day that has lasted 7 and 1/2 years and seems never to end!

On that T. Boone Pickens Guy

You've seen the ads.

Here's Politico piece that provides background and context.

On Brideshead Revisited Revisited

A nice piece from Slate on the old series, in the wake of the new film. It recommends the old series and I'm taking it with me to FL.

I watched it when I was 15 and the experience was one that permeated my pours. Like many, I then began an anglophile, fell in perpetual love with Anthony Andrews (and became easy prey to anyone with the same eyes), and even bought a teddy bear at Vassar whom I named Aloysius too.

In 1988, I made a pilgrimage to Oxford and to Castle Howard. What I remember about the former was mowing down a pedestration when I was on my bike (that wrong side of the street thing) and of the latter, the expansive lawn with expansive peacocks.

When I worked at PBS for 4 years (also probably can chalked up to Brideshead), I learned that no one still knows how much that series cost.

But thank goodness it was made. It's part of who I am.

And, yeah, I'll probably still see the new film, if only for the sights and sounds of England and Venice in that period between the wars.

Charisma and Obama

A piece on charisma from The Boston Globe called The Charm School by Mark Oppenheimer. It's terrific, provides context as far back as the Greeks and makes a good effort at unfolding that "Je ne sais pas!"

Re Obama's charisma -
Barack Obama embodies many contradictions. He is both black (his father) and white (his mother); from an exotic locale (by birth in Hawaii) and from a big city (by residence in Chicago); and Christian (by choice) and non-Christian (with two irreligious parents, one of them with Muslim ancestry). And surely these contradictions lend him an air of vulnerability and approachability. But Obama's contradictions don't quite make him a Diana figure. Rather, Obama shows how charisma can reside in other people's desire to figure one out. "He seems so familiar," Roach says. "But what could be more definitive of strangeness than to be running for president of the United States in 2008 with the name Barack Hussein Obama? But he holds those together. We're fascinated by the ability to hold contradictions and make them seem harmonious."
I also heard an interview on NPR with the author as well as some others on the same topic - a 30 minute discussion on if one can teach charisma.

DC Political Drinks Are Being Served

From Politico, a very funny run down of the political alcoholic drinks that bartenders around town have developed and what's selling.

Some highlights:
  • “The Billary” — a glass of watermelon-flavored schnapps and cranberry juice, with a shot of grapefruit vodka on the side because “you can’t have one without the other.”
  • he Obama at Busboys and Poets involves Godiva white and dark chocolate liqueurs because the candidate is biracial.
  • At Lotus, the Obamarama — a tropical mix of vodka, Malibu rum, and orange, cranberry and pineapple juices — pays tribute to his Hawaiian roots.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Who to Read During the Beijing Olympics

Really. The best to read - most perceptive and knowledgeable - is James Fallows of the Atlantic Monthly. He is the go-to guy for the Beijing Olympics.

Here's the link to his blog.

He has been in China for some time.

He is a VERY smart guy (wrote Blind into Baghdad and the 51st State). Both articles were prescient. Scarily so. Scary because it meant that anyone who spent the time investigating could have predicted the aftermath of the invasion.

Northern winds are preferable to keep the Chinese pollution away.

Mozart via Ringtones, Really

hat tip Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish.  

I :LOVED this.  


Mad Men Highlights

Last week Charlie Rose did an interview last week with John Slattery, Jon Hamm and the creator/writer Matthew Weiner.

I LOATHE Charlie Rose - long stories, from my time working at PBS. (Just as an example, you'll note his web site is not hosted at though PBS provides his platform - he, his ego, insisted on his very own stand alone web site and address. Just one example). His executive producer is a saint!

The interview is about a 20 minutes and Charlie exhibits his ignorance of the series - calling Roger's character "at the top of his game." and the firm of Roger Sterling at the top of the ad agencies. Belies Charlies' slogan: "I believe there's a place in the spectrum of television for really good conversation, if its informed, spirited, soulful."

Anyway, cool to see Jon Hamm without his hair slicked back. You can watch online here.

On the day of the premier, I had a wonderful brunch with a bunch of friends at the East Bank Club in Chicago. Two of my friends were recently hooked, both staying up into the wee hours of the morning to watch the series on On Demand. Christine remarked, "Where did Jon Hamm come from?" To which her friend from college whom I'd just met, quickly riposted, "Heaven." It was a fun time!

Also, my other friend Sheryl got one of her insights posted on the go-to blog on Mad Men “Basket of Kisses” kept up by the Lipp sisters. You can read Sheryl’s email here (they misrepresent her name as “Sherry”), an entry entitled “Death of Decorum”

How a Naked "Jane" Inspired British Troops in WW II

One of my favorite series on PBS is Foyle's War.  I have LOVED Michael Kitchen ever since Reckless - (another one for your netflix list).   Reckless also stars the admirable Francesca Annis and cutey pie Robson Green. 

In Foyle's War, Kitchen plays DCS Foyle and solves crime in Hastings (as in the battle of Hastings, yes).   His line delivery is so terrific.  

In the final episode, there was a brief reference to a cartoon character Jane.  I was curious so looked it up.  
The British comic strip Jane was dubbed “the strip that teased,” and during World War II, the strip and its heroine, frequently flouncing through the panels in her frilly underthings, were the first thing soldiers turned to in London’s Daily Mirror, the newspaper for which Jane had been created. Jane teased but, according to legend, she never appeared naked -- until a particularly significant day in 1944. 

“After years of teasing and lingerie,” Paul Gravett reports in Great British Comics, “artist Norman Pett had finally caught his character in one panel in the altogether, drying herself with a towel the morning after June 6. That day was D-Day, when a great armed armada had swept across the Channel to take the Normandy beaches. What better way for Jane to congratulate the troops following that historic day and boost their morale further?” Jane’s “inspirational impact upon the British Tommy,” Gravett assures us, was no exaggeration.

For more, included replications of the cartoon panels, click here.  Very cool.  Very historic.