Saturday, September 27, 2008

"You're an original, that's what you are!"

The quote which is the title of this post was how George Kennedy's character, Dragline, in Cool Hand Luke described the film's namesake, Luke Jackson, portrayed magnificently by Paul Newman, who, sadly, passed away today at the age of 83.

Like millions of people around the world, I have been a longtime fan of Paul Newman's. He is a true American legend, not just for his obvious acting ability, but for his dedication to the real work necessary to making this world a better place through his many philanthropic works, the best-known of which was the The Newman's Own Foundation, which has donated over a quarter of a billion dollars to progressive causes since 1982.

Cool Hand Luke, which Mr. Newman made in 1967, is probably my most favorite of his films. If you haven't seen it, you should! It is the story of what happens when the proverbial irresistible force meets the immovable object. Cool Hand Luke is an unflinching look at one man's refusal to conform and a rural prison camp staff's determination to break an unbreakable spirit. To me, the film didn't glorify law-breaking or criminal life, because it was brutal in it's depiction of the merciless life of a chain gang. This film, for me, was about how even the lowest of station can have a dream (if not a hope) for a life that's better than their present circumstances dictate. While the real-life actor Paul Newman and his fictional alter-ego, Luke, did share a seemingly indomitable spirit, in at least one very important way, Newman was the anti-Luke: Mr. Newman led the full, honorable, life that Luke may have desired deep inside (like the rest of us), but of which he seemed incapable of understanding or achieving. If Paul Newman had done no other films in his life, in my opinion, his role as Luke would have cemented his place eternally in Hollywood royalty.

Another one-liner from the fictional Dragline comes to mind about the fictional Luke that could just as easily describe the amazing real man who played the part, especially considering Mr. Newman's dedication to giving back to a world that had given him so if his gifted acting ability wasn't enough: Paul Newman was, "a natural born world-shaker."

As a true fan, I thank you, Mr. Newman, for shaking things up for so long.

“I'm a supporter of gay rights. And not a closet supporter either. From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being... by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.”

Paul Newman, 1925 -2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is news???

I never had a moment's doubt. I really do not like to encourage American Idol AT ALL, and I've never really found time to deal with such a public closet case as our Mr. Aiken. Before now, every time I saw him I thought, "Why are you--an ostensibly public figure--working so hard to hide yourself?" I guess everyone has their own timeline & their own voyage to make in their lives, but every time I saw him, I thought about my own life in hiding, so it was kinda difficult to watch. I do feel the need, however, to give Clay his due: he was EXACTLY right when he said, "I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things." So true.

Welcome to the truth, Mr. Aiken. Life is never easy, but it's infinitely more bearable when you don't have to pretend to be something & someone you're not.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

From the Sublime to the Unnecessarily Ridiculous

I know that, in this season of politics, most of my recent posts have been apropos to the quadrennial pursuit of the next political American Idol.

This morning, however, I have something a little less consequential burning a hole in my mental pocket, so please indulge me in a few moments of mostly-meaningless minutiae.

So, I drive up to the drive-thru of the nearby Einstein's Bagels this morning & ordered one of my usual Spicy Elmo on a Good Grains bagel (it's one of the highest-fiber bagels that Einstein has...makes the Elmo a little more least that's what I tell myself!) & a couple of other things.

When the woman who took my order rang it up & ran my credit card & handed me my receipt, it showed that she had charged me for a Santa Fe wrap. When I noticed this, I waved her back to the drive-thru window & explained that the receipt had the wrong item & I told her again what I wanted.

She looked at the receipt & then closed the drive-thru window, talked to the people making the morning's orders & came back to the window & what did she say???

(a) "I'm sorry!"? or,

(b) "We apologize for the mistake!"? or,

(c) "Don't worry, we'll get your order right out to you!"? or,


Answer: (d)

She didn't even try to feign even half-hearted contrition.

She said, "It's gonna cost you more!"

It's gonna cost you more?!?!?

Why would she think that matters??? When I made my order, I knew I was going to have to pay for what I got. Why would she think that paying as little as possible, even if the order was wrong, was what I wanted?!?!?

I told her that I didn't mind paying for what I ordered, and she took my card & shut the window again, while I sat wondering if she was gonna get my order right this time, and wondering why something so ostensibly simple had to be so difficult. I mean, it's not as if I asked her to split an atom, or perform a frontal lobotomy or even quote the value of pi to the 107th decimal point; I asked for a bagel sandwich.
I guess it's only Burger King that doesn't get upset with special orders.

Funny thing, she came back to the window in a couple of minutes & just said, "It costs the same," and handed me my order.

Not Thank You. Not Have A Good Day. Nothing, just handed me my order & shut the window again.

Truth be known, by the time I got my order, I was ready to leave as much as she was ready to have me leave, so I guess I didn't feel the need for a long good-bye either.

I guess a little inconvenience & a little indignation was what she really meant by "It's gonna cost you more!"

My Santa Fe Spicy Elmo on a Good Grains bagel was really good though.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

More of the McSame, or "You Take The High Road & I'll Take The Low Road..."

If you ask me (and no one did), in the midst of an economic crisis, a President needs to be clear-minded & resolute about the scope of the problem, what precipitated it & how he/she plans to deal with it. He or she also needs to reassure the American people that their President understands the pain of the uncertainty we are all facing. Of course, that's one way to see it. You COULD also use the understandable anxiety Americans are feeling at a time like this to try & sneak in a political gut punch by attacking the opposition instead of actually enunciating your own plan to address the crisis, especially when you don't really have much to offer anyway. Sounds an awful lot like the way the current administration handles all the messes it has created over these past few years.

Guess which option Obama chose & which McCain chose...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yo, John, Whose Economic Fundamentals Are You Calling Strong?!?!?

***Note: Some of the links originally included in this post weren't working properly. They should work just fine now.***
I'm sure that the "fundamentals" of John McCain's & George Bush's own personal economies are just as sound as ever. Probably even sounder than that. They won't have to worry about what happens if they miss a paycheck or two, like the rest of us would. I'm sure McCain's royalties on Blackberry sales alone will keep him from having to touch his wife's beer money for a while!

So, as a Public Service for voters who might need a little reminding of what Bush/McCain economics hath wrought us these past 7+ years, a few facts & figures to confirm that low down feeling you've been having deep in your wallets.

U.S. Unemployment Rate

In January, 2001, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 4.2%. In the most recent U.S. unemployment report, August, 2008, that number rose to 6.1%. That’s an increase of 1.9%.

U.S. Government Budget

For Fiscal Year 2000, President Clinton left office with a Budget Surplus (A BIG PLUS) of $128.236 BILLION. In 2007, the surplus was only a memory. Our country ended that Fiscal Year $410.047 BILLION in the hole (A BIG OLD MINUS). That’s a difference of over HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS down the proverbial rat hole! (YEP THAT’S A “T” FOR “TRILLION”)

U.S. Trade Deficit

In January 2001, the U.S. Trade Deficit (the value of all U.S. exports to the world vs. the value of all products imported into the U.S. from the rest of the world) stood at $35.3 billion. In July 2008?? Nearly $62.2 billion. That’s an increase of 76%!

Retail Gas Price (average for all grades)

The retail price of gasoline is monitored by the Department of Energy every week. On January 22, 2001, the average price of gas was about $1.51 per gallon. The latest price recorded by DOE as of September 15, 2008 was almost $3.89 per gallon. That’s an increase of nearly $2.38 per gallon (up over 157%).

U.S. Inflation Rate

In January 2001, inflation was running at about 3.7%. As of July 2008, it was up to 5.6%. Up nearly 1.9%.

Consumer Confidence

The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) is the widely-accepted barometer of American consumer confidence in the U.S. economy (basically, it gives us a picture on how the everyday person feels about how the economy is going). The U of M has set December 1964 as the “standard” at 100. In January 2001, the index stood at 94.7. In the most recent report, the CSI had dropped to 63.0, down by nearly a third from when Bush took office.

So, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, when it's time to cast your sacred vote for President of the United States, ask yourself the same question Ronald Reagan asked the American people when he ran against Jimmy Carter in 1980: "Are you better off now than you were 4 [or 8] years ago?"

If you're among the 7 or 8 people left who don't know how they're going to vote, just let your wallet be your guide!

"...the fundamentals of the economy are strong."


Maybe that's so if you have more houses than you can count, and if you believe that people earning $5 million a year are considered "Middle Class"t. John McCain is so clueless as to what's gone wrong lo these nearly 8 years to cause such a mess now & why the rest of us aren't as confident about the economy as he is, because it's been all a bed of roses for this millionaire Senator & his beer heiress wife. What's McCain's response to a crumbling economy? What would a McCain government do to fix the mess that he had such a big hand in creating??? John McCain wants to create another commission to study this for him for a good long time while the rest of us hold our breaths & hope the sky doesn't fall on us. He needs another commission to tell him what to do, because, to paraphrase the Sam Cooke song, he "don't know much about the economy...".

As Senator Obama basically said today,
we don't need no stinkin' commission...we know EXACTLY how we got here. Large corporations have had free reign for almost 8 years & they have played their little games & have made all the rules & have boosted CEO bottom lines big time at the expense of people who do the real work in this country because Uncle Dubya had no interest in making sure that the little guy & gal had even the slightest of protections. People like me & you don't earn enough to matter much to a cowboy president & his protégés John McCain & his soul mate, Sarah Palin.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Live From New York, it's Hillary & Sarah!

Amy & Tina work SO well together & I had seen Amy do Hillary before, but, of course, this was the first time that Tina did Sarah Palin...and she was dead on...especially with that quasi American-Canadian accent of hers...

Also loved Amy/Hillary's suggestion that the MSM (Main Stream Media) "grow a pair" and stop soft-pedaling the Palin story, or she would lend them hers!! :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Because I love him..."

Not sure if this ruling will stand or if it does, as Pat Robertson once predicted, God will be hurling a few meteors at us, but for now, score one for the good guys in the Sunshine State...finally!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hope Vs. Nope

Pretty simple choice, don't you think??? Looks like an unscientific online MSNBC poll of over 24,000 respondents asking "Which team will be most effective in changing Washington politics?" shows exactly what I have always suspected.

Results (as of 6:35 pm today) are...



Latest Update (4:45 pm, 9/17)
Over 98,500 votes cast now & John has gained 0.7% points!
Obama 72.2%
McCain 27.8%

Monday, September 1, 2008

Laboring More, Earning Less

This Labor Day, it seems the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations is reporting what so many of us have known for a while, U.S. workers are working harder than ever for less pay (in real terms adjusted for inflation).

Some of the most disturbing findings in the report based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The median weekly earnings for American workers have not grown in real terms over the last eight years. [emphasis mine]

At $6.55, the federal minimum wage is worth 40 cents less per hour, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was a decade ago.

Roughly 4 percent of the workforce wants to work full-time, but is working part time because they can't find full-time work.
So, while the cost of gas & other basics of life have increased (sometimes dramatically) over the past 8 long years, Americans are effectively earning about the same as they did in 2000. I wonder what happened 8 years ago that might have caused U.S. workers to lose so much ground?

I'll give you three guesses...and the first two don't count! :-/

This is the link to CNN's story about the report.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Happy Labor Day!!