Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deep Thoughts for Christmas

I heard Fr. Peter Steele, SJ, a Jesuit poet from Australia (above), give the following homily today. Though the occasion was the 4th Sunday of Advent, the themes fit really well with Christmas, too. Thought you might enjoy it.
No More Homeless, No More Orphans

One feature of the vernacular in Australia is that it is possible, and indeed customary, to use the word ‘bastard’ affectionately. ‘How are you, you old bastard?’, while not the peak of civility, can be quite without animus: and ‘the poor bastard’ approximates to ‘the poor wretch’, or ‘the poor devil’ – it is in effect, if anything, an expression of solidarity.

But this is not the whole story, in Australia, or elsewhere. To call someone a bastard can be to discredit him – or her. And even though one thing for which none of us can have responsibility is who begot us, and when and where and how, a taint continues to attach to the name.

Consider three instances of this. First: on the occasion of the first atomic explosion (very ironically called ‘Trinity’), one of those present, Kenneth Bainbridge, said, ‘Now we are all bastards’. I don’t know just how deeply he thought the implications of that to be, but nobody could think that it was good news. Second, the profoundly unattractive Jean Paul Sartre, although in the conventional sense a legitimate and accepted child, chose bastardy, in the sense that he saw himself as unfathered in the world – saw us all as such, if only we would be authentic about the matter. And thirdly, the idea of the ‘gaucho’, under its romantic overlay of boldness and energy, is the idea of bastardy – of having no legitimacy in respectable society, and perhaps none in the world.

Each of these three figures – Bainbridge, Sartre, the gaucho – is distant in time or in place, but the notion of bastardy (or if you wish to be gentler about it, of orphandom) is not. ‘I a stranger and afraid/In a world I never made’, A. E. Housman wrote, and the notion expands, easily, into ‘In a world which nobody made’, and certainly nobody cares for.

It is a commonplace notion that much modern thought and art hinges on the supposition that, fatherless and motherless as we all are, neither this nor any world can ever truly be a home to us. And even if one rejects the proposition as a proposition, one may for any number of reasons come to sense life as being, essentially, pathos: as being in no happy sense ‘pathetic’. Illness can do this: poverty can do it: anxiety can do it: wealth can do it: absence of people can do it: presence of people can foster it: and so on. Nobody may call us this as long as we live, but a voice at three o’clock in the morning can tell us that we are homeless, and bastards, and that this will never change.

The feast of Christmas, and the season of Advent-expectation, is a retort against all such thinking. In the first of our readings today, we have the Lord God saying to King David, in effect, ‘Wherever you have gone, I have been with you: I have bit by bit been establishing you in the world: I have been the maker of your ‘house’ all the time, and I shall continue to be so: I have been a father to you, and when you die, I will be a father to your son Solomon’. This is a vision of the Lord as home-maker, as maker-of-us-at-home. It has not been, and it will not be, without struggle and challenge: it will certainly not be stress-free. But there is a world of difference between battling on, even heroically, in a deserted cosmos, and living hopefully and generously in a milieu which is at once fatherly, sacred, and accompanied. This is what is held up before David, and this, both Judaism and Christianity say, is what is held up before us.

The gospel passage today is the inexhaustibly rich account of Mary’s being promised that the ‘Son of the Most High’ will be housed first in her, and then through her, housed among us for ever. ‘Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ The bringing of this good news, good news for her, and good news for us, has always to be portrayed as taking place somewhere.

It may, as in the great Van Eyck ‘Annunciation’ here in the National Gallery, be seen as occurring in a church, which would of course have been impossible: but it is dead right for Van Eyck to be seeing the Church as a great germinal home. It may be seen as in more open-ended, casual circumstances. But whatever the scene, it is a scene of God’s coming home to his own world, and in so doing, making it definitely a home for us too. And it is as it were a scene of the Father’s re-uttering his fatherly heart among us and for us. It is the abolition of homelessness: it is the abolition of bastardry.

And in so being, it presents us with a challenge, at this of all seasons of the year, to be hospitable to a degree which we have not so far managed, and to brother and to sister as we may so far have been afraid to do. ‘Welcome home once more’, the Father says to us: and, in giving us his Son, ‘open the door of your heart some more’. All this is said, as it will be done, through the Father, and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

-- Peter Steele SJ

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Have a Very Creepy Christmas

My sister sent me this last week. Truly disturbing.

If you need something to cleanse the palate after that, let me offer two options:

Darth Vader's worst day ever.

or Barack Obama -- very cool.

OMG: Rod Whatever

The last time I wrote on this blog was a week ago, and it was about Liza Minelli. OMG. What is my problem? How is that I could have gone a week without commenting, if on nothing else, on the cost of a Senate seat in Chicago today? Can I just say, ugh. And also -- dude. A corrupt governor -- who everyone has been trying to get out for some time now, if for no other reason than his last name is simply unpronounceable -- does not a recurrence of the 1920s or 1970s Chicago corruption make. Seriously... let my people go.

The fact of the matter is, I spent last week in Milwaukee. In summary: Cold. Slush. Unanswered prayers for spontaneous waterproofing of my shoes. Meetings. Meetings. Pizza Man. Meetings. Christmas cookies, college reunion and chicken quesadillas. Return flight.

I'm off again soon to Washington for a story, and then Chicago, to try and get a piece of the action.

But today, noticed this story in the New York Times. Apparently, some here are jealous of Chicago's supposed status as corruption capitol.

When It Comes to Political Corruption, New York Can Hold Its Own
Clyde Haberman

New Yorkers have every reason to feel demoralized in this season supposedly of good cheer.

The economy is — well, you know what it is. The city budget is in a deep hole, and the state is staring at a deficit of $15 billion, a figure larger than the gross domestic product of about 50 countries.

As for some of those who still have lots of money, their priorities seem grotesquely skewed. While thousands of poor schnooks are losing jobs and homes, the Yankees find this the perfect time to spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars — that’s right: billion with a B — to hire two pitchers. This as they boo-hoo-hoo about needing hundreds of millions in municipal aid for their new stadium.

But perhaps the most serious blow to New Yorkers’ morale is a sense that we have been thoroughly outclassed in an area where we have always excelled. We’re referring to corruption and other forms of wrongdoing by public officials. When it comes to bozo politicians, we like to think of ourselves as king of the hill, top of the heap (though a colleague correctly points out that our neighbors in New Jersey and Connecticut are hardly slouches in this regard).

Then along comes Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, he of the implausible hair and the hard to pronounce name. The damage that he has done to New Yorkers’ self-esteem cannot be overstated. It’s not easy topping someone who, if the federal charges against him are true, tried to sell the Senate seat of the president-elect. Years ago, Mike Royko, the great Chicago columnist, called his hometown “the city of the big wallet.” That label may well apply to all of Illinois.

So New Yorkers are understandably smarting. We don’t mind being taken nearly as much as we do being overtaken, and there is an unsettling sensation that Illinois has gotten the better of us.

But in the spirit of the holidays, we come to say: Buck up, New York! Don’t let the Blagosphere get you down. Hold your heads high at the breadth and depth of your leaders’ misdeeds.

In this week’s New Yorker magazine, Roger Angell revives a tradition that had gone AWOL for a decade, this being his name-crammed holiday poem called “Greetings, Friends!” What a field day Mr. Angell might have had if he’d focused solely on our miscreant politicians.

We have Spitzer, Hevesi and Fossella,

Kerik, Rangel and of course Velella.

Really, how can a state feel second-rate when it has a preternaturally sanctimonious governor who is forced out of office after hanging out with prostitutes? That would be Eliot Spitzer, in the unlikely event that you forgot. Nor is there anything second-rate about having a state comptroller, Alan G. Hevesi, who also had to resign because of scandal, in his case because he misused state money.

Representative Charles B. Rangel is being investigated for an impressive array of possible ethical lapses. Bernard B. Kerik continues to face federal corruption charges, a fine mess for a former police commissioner and nominee (for something like an hour and a half) for homeland security secretary. Former State Senator Guy J. Velella was jailed for being more sticky-fingered than was absolutely necessary — and then made us all proud by whining about his punishment.

Of late, we have the spectacle of the drunken-driving Vito J. Fossella, the congressman who was caught both red-handed and red-lipped from all the wine he had knocked back. Mr. Fossella’s disgrace did not deter the mayor and other politicians from gathering on Sunday to say what a swell fellow he was. He even heard himself compared to — we kid you not — Jesus, Benjamin Franklin and Rocky Balboa.

You want corruption, be it proved or alleged?

We have Joseph L. Bruno, until recently the State Senate majority leader, under investigation. Our City Council has been investigated for hiding millions of dollars in secret accounts with phony names. A former assemblyman and former Democratic leader in Brooklyn, Clarence Norman Jr., is doing time for extortion and other crimes. Another former assemblyman, Brian M. McLaughlin, pleaded guilty this year to racketeering charges. Corruption also earned former Assemblywoman Diane M. Gordon a prison sentence.

The list of officials who have run into trouble with the law includes, but is most definitely not limited to, Assembly members Roger L. Green, Gloria Davis and Anthony S. Seminerio, who was indicted last week on federal charges of trading favors for buckets of cash.

And to show how diverse we are in New York, judges land in hot water, too. The latest to be indicted is Judge-elect Nora S. Anderson of Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan, who may well be suspended moments after she takes the oath of office on Jan. 1.

So yeah, Illinois, give us your best shot. New York will go toe to toe with you any time. We might even claim a motto in Latin that Mike Royko proposed for Chicago four decades ago. It works for us, too: Ubi est mea.

Where’s mine?


Friday, December 5, 2008

Lastly, Liza!

Lastly, Liza Minelli has a new show on Broadway. Anytime she performs, half the entertainment is seeing what the critics do with her. Some fun posts.

AM New York
In her new show, is Liza the toast or the train wreck of Broadway? She’s kind of both. At Wednesday’s opening night performance, not only did Act One and Act Two feel like completely different shows, they also displayed different versions of Liza.

Act One was pretty problematic. In between forced, mostly spoke-through performances of “Maybe This Time” and “Cabaret,” Liza appeared like a marionette on strings on the verge of falling down. In between songs, she panted desperately for breath and her hands shook. We couldn’t understand a single lyric she uttered in any song.

But Act Two was fantastic.

The (giddy) New York Times
I wish I had met Kay Thompson, the creative whirlwind who inspirits the second act of Liza Minnelli’s new show, “Liza’s at the Palace ...,” or simply had the chance to sit at her feet and absorb her presence. From the moment Ms. Minnelli joins forces with a male singing and dancing quartet to resurrect parts of a famous nightclub act Thompson created in the late 1940s and early ’50s with the Williams Brothers, the Palace Theater blasts off into orbit.

There it remains, deliriously spinning until the end of a 2-hour-20-minute show (with intermission) that leaves the star in a state of breathless exaltation. The end of the opening-night show on Wednesday found Ms. Minnelli panting, drenched in sweat, her hair matted, as if she had just finished running the New York marathon, which in a sense she had....

...I would love to report that Ms. Minnelli’s voice and physical agility have been magically restored to their former glory, but those days seem to be gone. On Wednesday night her voice was in tatters, her diction unsteady. When she belted, her wide vibrato wobbled to the breaking point. Most of her s’s were slurred sh’s. Frequently short of breath, she swallowed phrases. Many of her highest notes were dry, piercing caws.

New York Times Slide Show

The New York Post
Sorry to disappoint all you vultures out there, but she's done it again: "Liza's at the Palace . . . !" is the sort of late-career triumph of which show-business mythology is made.

Repeal Day

Today is National Repeal Day. 75 years ago, in fact, on this day, the state of Utah gave the final ratification necessary to officially repeal the 19th Amendment, which in 1919 had instituted Prohibition. In some parts of the country, including New York, there are 30s style parties this evening at bars turned into speak-easys.

But the more lasting significance is in the fact of repeal itself. For us, the Constitution is a highly stable document. Though a few amendments have been kicked around in the last 10 or 15 years, it's pretty hard for most people to imagine seeing a new amendment of any kind at this point.

But our history reminds us that we remain capable, through amendments, of making corrections. Prohibition seemed like a good idea at the time, and only caused problems; it probably should have been a law, not an amendment. And 75 years ago, we corrected that. As stable as it seems, the Constitution retains a pliability, and that's something to be happy about.

So tonight at 9pm (when Prohibition was officially ended), raise your glass for the Constitution!

For more fun information, try here; to hear about some places in your neck of the woods where they are celebrating, try here or here.

The Little Drummer Boy

I'm working on a piece for the magazine on the Little Drummer Boy song. And I came upon some great video clips. The first is David Bowie & Bing Crosby -- I swear, it will make you a little vklempt.

The second is from a Rankin-Bass special about The Little Drummer Boy. I don't think I ever saw it, though I bet we're all big fans of Rankin-Bass specials: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, featuring not only Burl Ives as Frosty the Snowman (who knew Frosty had a goatee) but the fantastic Hermey the Elf and the Island of Misfit Toys -- a term I have heard used in reference to any number of religious communities; Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (with Fred Estaire), Frosty the Snowman (with Jimmy Durante) and The Year without a Santa Claus (which features my favorite characters, Mr. Heat Miser and Mr. Snow Miser; 20 years later, I can still sing that song).

Anyway, the video is a bit ridiculous; Aaron the shepherd boy...with a drum (?).... comes to the baby Jesus and plays his drum for him, hoping that the baby will be able to save the life of his sheep Baba, who had been the victim of a chariot hit-and-run. (I hate when that happens.) Just the idea of him banging on a drum before a sleeping infant, well, it's kooky.

But somehow it works.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Nelson Mandela (quoting Marianne Williamson)

Reasons I Love My Nephew Jack #307

From my sister's blog:
Well last night we thought we were going to have a low key night. We were going to read books after baths and showers and just relax. So, there were are getting Jack dried off and dressed. He went to put his arm out on the bed and at the same time Meg decided to push him and goof around. Well he missed the bed and hit his head on the bottom of our bed foot board. Which of course has a piece of decorative metal (that is smooth) that runs across. He pulled his head up and there we had a big opening over his eye.

We could not tell how big of a cut it was until the blood stopped. Once it stopped we attempted a butterfly band aid, but I thought it looked pretty deep. So, I had my friend Christie come over and she said Yeah he needs to go to the hospital. Sure enough we went to the hospital and they had to give him 4 stitches.

Jack had 2 concerns: 1) "Are they going to remove my eyeball?" and 2) "Don't let Meggan touch my other eye because I don't want her to hurt that one."

Jack, I hope you feel better!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Signing up with a Gym as a Microcosm of What's Wrong With Me

So last week I joined a gym. First time ever. I've been eyeing this particular establishment for some time; they're right next to my office, many at America work out there (come see us!), and they have always a deal running. In fact, I've learned more about the fiction that is the retail sale by watching them than I would at any mall. The sign "Sale Ends This Week" never leaves their awning. Truly.

Which makes you wonder, who exactly are they targeting? If you live or work in the area, you know the sale hasn't ended, probably never will end, or more likely never began, you fool. Unless you get hoodwinked as soon as you come to the area -- oh my God, I better get my membership now! (you have to love marketing that creates a false sense of urgency) -- you're not coming. Or not for that reason, anyway.

So that leaves visitors or passersby. There are plenty of visitors in the Midtown area. Especially from now until January, Midtown sidewalks are usually stuffed with tourists walking their gentle way through the war zone which is the New York City sidewalk.

But that's another story.

The thing is, tourists don't need yearly gym memberships. So that leaves passersby, i.e. I live in Brooklyn, but wouldn't it be great to go to the gym in Midtown? Again, no sense this make does.

I guess I don't know who they're marketing for.

So, part of the membership is an opportunity to an "orientation" (read: sales pitch for a workout package) with a trainer. Which made me... nerrrvous. I've never worked with a trainer before, and the image of an oversculpted, head-shaved weightlifter (they all have their heads shaved) yelling at me to PUSH had something to do with it.

But mostly, it's because I didn't want to feel any pressure to buy something more. I was born without the retail vertebrae. In stores where I think the agents are going to ask me more than one question, I run, even though I might be interested in the merchandise. Likewise with a small shop, fuggedaboutit. I ain't goin in. I just don't want the conflict. Leave me alone, play some dance music that makes me replace whether I can afford what you're selling with a desire to get jiggy, and we'll all be happy.

So -- right up front I tell them, sure, I'll do the orientation, but I'm not buying a package of sessions. Fine. Look at me -- I'm tough.

Except I didn't want an orientation session. I want some aerobics classes, a treadmill and some other aerobic machines. That's it. But I'm sitting in this very small glass room, just me, the salesman, his desk (which blocks the way out), and eventually the trainer, "Rick". And the kid working with me asks, will I do the orientation? And somehow it seems rude, very rude to say no. As though he and I are friends -- he's just been kind enough to offer me something I don't really want, the only polite thing to do is to take it. (I'm not saying it ain't crazy. See blog title.)

Today I had that orientation. Sort of. It lasted about 3 minutes, beginning with me saying I don't do weights and ending with me calling the whole thing off when he asked me to do push-ups. (Grade school gym flashback -- not pretty.)

And the crazy thing, the thing that made me want to write it all up, was this -- later, after my workout, I came downstairs and ran into "Rick" and my trainer and another guy talking, laughing. And my trainer was all, "Hey, I told Rick you can come back for that orientation every time." And Rick was all, "Hey, buddy, what happened?" And for just an instant -- just an instant -- I felt the nub of what should have been that fully-grown vertebrae, straightening out my back just a fraction, and I looked at Rick, said, "Didn't want to do it" and went in, victorious, to take my shower.

It was my Hoosiers moment. My final steps should have been in slow mo.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers

A flash from the past:

Whatever happened to Jan Smithers?

Even more old school:

Older Still -- The sort of thing that I'd watch on Thanksgiving:

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Before engorging myself with a couple guys from the house on Thanksgiving, I wandered around lower Manhattan a bit, just to see what is to been of Thanksgiving on the streets of New York. I saw men and women working their jobs, couples in their Sunday best walking or driving to their party, kids playing in the streets and a pregnant woman trying to contain two toddlers while her husband waited for a cab.

Here are some pictures I took along the way. (And as usual, clicking on the photos will generally give you a much better image.)

(The view outside my window)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Look Down!

I finally posted 2 pieces on election night, including one with lots of photos. Through a glitch, they ended up posting below the wine post (have you bought your bottles yet?). But scroll down and you'll see them there -- they're titled "Obamanalysis" and "Times Square, Election Night".

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Have a very nice holiday.

(By the way, the photo is of Turkey.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Perfect for the Christmas Stocking (or Boot)

Since coming to LA, I found out that Loyola Productions, besides making movies, is selling wine made by the Jesuits of Australia. You might remember me blogging about Sevenhill, a vineyard where I did my retreat. It's the mother house of the Australian province, and the vineyard is the last remaining winery run by the Jesuits anywhere in the world. (Travesty!)

Anyway, Sevenhill has just begun to sell some of its wines in the States, under the Ignatius Cellars label. And I have to say, the wine is darn good; trust me, after 7 months of it, including during 30 days of silence, I know from.

A great Christmas gift! Who doesn't like a nice bottle of wine? Come on, Check it out!

PS Cool trivia. The winery is not called Sevenhill because it's surrounded by seven hills. Nope. It's because the terrain reminded the first Jesuits who went there of Rome, which is on seven hills. The terrain really is marvelous -- rolling hills of vineyards. Like Tuscany.

Times Square, Election Night

So, I think I might have mentioned that I went down to Times Square on the night of the Election, just after the election was called for Obama at around 11pm EST. I brought my camera, and thought I'd share a few photos of the occasion.

This is Rockefeller Center. MSNBC and NBC put on an election night extravanganza each presidential cycle. Both shows broadcast on large flatscreen TVs. And they also have a wonderful visual way of displaying where things stand. Each candidate gets a window washing cart of their own color, that hangs from Rockefeller Center.

And as the candidates gains electoral college delegates, their carts slowly move up Rockefeller Center, headed toward a large banner declaring "270" (i.e. the delegates needed to clinch the presidency).

This might seem pretty primitive, but it had a lot of punch. Often the carts would begin moving before either the TV commentators announced any changes. So you wouldn't know how much things were going to change, or what states had come in. At one point Obama gained something like 70 or 80 delegates, before anything was announced on TV. The largely Obama crowd went wild.

I have to say, it was funny being down there watching MSNBC. As I might have mentioned in a previous post, at about 8:03 pm, with Obama down 3 delegates to 10, the pundits were wondering if the election had brought in a new liberal era. An hour later, with Obama up something like 13 to 10, they were indicating the end of Republican leadership. And at 9:30, when Obama still hadn't captured any swing states, they were asking David Axelrod whether the 50 state strategy had been a mistake. The rollercoaster they were on was quite a ride. And the lot of us, looking up at the standings, waiting, waiting, waiting -- I don't know, to me it felt like Christmas Eve. I'm coming home from my Grandmother's house in Chicago, the car is cold and the windows fogged over. My dad has on the 1950s music he likes, which he always played on the way home from Grandma's, and then they change the station and the announcer is talking about where Santa is right now. And my brother and sisters and I rush to the back window trying to see Rudolph's nose.

At Rockefeller Center it was that sort of baited-breath, fantastic, magical, and to some extent fictional excitement.

Times Square, later, had in some ways more of the same. Not the incredibly skewed reporting, but the sense of looking into the sky with wonder.

The people are gated in because Times Square was just jampacked with people yelling, screaming, cheering. We were wandering up and down the streets, as the taxis drove by honking, and the cops herded us onto the sidewalks through gates (and a lot of glowering).

Two things struck me out there. One was the taxi drivers, who drove past over and over again, honking and cheering out their windows. Not a single one was from the United States, and they cheered with a sense of relief that was palpable. Many people out there felt similarly, but there was a difference in quality about the taxi drivers. I've thought about them quite a bit since the election. I wonder if it wasn't that many of them are not citizens, cannot vote. So all they have been able to do these last years is watch and see what those of us who can vote decide, knowing that our decision will have huge impacts for them and for their countries. And when Obama was elected, they could finally show their cards, if you will, express their own opinions with honesty and freedom. It's like the vote gave them their voices back.

The other thing that struck me again and again was the faces. Both in Times Square and at Rockefeller Center, people looking up, their desires and dreams writ large in their expressions. Quite moving.

I like this one most of all. A small woman, unseen by those around her, looking up into a new world.

At the end of Obama's speech I went back home to my community. The cheers continued to echo in the distance all around lower Manhattan for quite some time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


So, in case you aren't totally oversaturated with all things Obama, here's a couple little things from around the time of the election that I've been wanting to share.

Shortly after the election, the New York Times printed a piece about Middle Eastern reactions.

Some striking quotes from it:
Dare we hope that the eight-year nightmare is over? (, Syria)

A new day dawned in Cairo today. As it does every day.

And it started as it always does: with birds, schoolchildren and car horns. No national holiday here.

I’m looking forward to going out in the streets to hear the reaction. The best reaction I’ve heard so far: “Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job.”

Bah humbug. I confess I’m moved. (The Skeptic,, Cairo)

There was an awful lot of money in Obama’s campaign ... A great chunk must have come from carefully planned investments by C.E.O.’s and multinationals. Will Obama be able to confront the mega-corporations? Does he want to? The poor and the colored population of the world, including that of the U.S., is the one that suffers most from malnutrition and hunger and food insecurity. We know now that mega-corporations, pushing for more profit at any cost, are responsible for most of the damage. Will Obama do something about that? Does he want to? Can he? (, Lebanon)

So Obama, the booma, won the elections. I had already predicted that in my post “A long American-Iranian Film.”

I said the following, “My hunch is — and my hunches are rarely wrong — if Obama the booma wins, and he will, by a small margin, Iraq will be handed over to Iran ...”

I also said that Obama will strike a deal with Ahmadinejad on Iraq and in particular southern Iraq.

And lo and behold, the vice president for the booma Obama is none other than J. Biden. J. Biden. ... is an ardent supporter of the partition of Iraq into three statelets. No wonder Maliki & Co. were also backing the booma along with Iran. I also know that Iran had generously contributed to the Obama campaign.

... I shall not congratulate you on your 44th president. He will simply finish off what the other Zionists had started — the final partition of my country.

To hell with all of you and all of your presidents. (, Iraq)

For me, this is not just about history, this is about someone who was able to bring down the very people that broke my country. It’s a great punch to the very people that destroyed the individual Iraqi. And that to me is an enough victory.

I will only have to say to Mr. Obama, don’t let us down. (, Iraq)

And, if you haven't seen these already, here's some reactions from around the world: A 5 minute Radio Piece

Photos of Reactions around the World

It is really an amazing time.


I'm in Los Angeles this week doing some work with Loyola Productions, which is a Jesuit-run film and TV production company. They do a lot of work for Jesuit institutions, creating short documentaries or marketing pieces. They've also got this great series on hidden treasures of the Jesuits, sort of a documentary meets mystery kind of show, that they're pitching at various places. Check out the trailer -- click here, and then look under "Promos" for Hidden Treasures of the Jesuits. It's very cool.

The weather here is outstanding; 85 degrees and clear skies. The nearby area is in the midst of a horrible fire, I hear the worst in the history of the state. Some days it's been very hazy, and you come out to find little bits of ash covering the cars. But it's strange -- in most ways the city seems to move and flow as it normally does. It's the way of things, I guess. Mysterious.

I've been meaning to follow up with some more interesting post-election stuff. Have you seen the Obama family slide show from election night? It's quite striking. Lots of wonderful shots of the whole family; you can tell something important is happening on TV, but in another way, you'd hardly know it was a presidential election. And there is that now characteristic sobriety. My one hope for Barack Obama is that at some point in his four years he has the opportunity to engage in a massive pillow fight with his daughters and their friends.

I'm not sure I told anyone, but I had the chance to meet Obama when I arrived here in L.A. It was a really amazing moment; and his staffers actually took a photo for me, which was amazing.

The thing that really hit me that I hadn't noticed before is the length of his right earlobe. Somehow they fix it on TV, but he really has an unusually extended lobe.

I've got other photos to share from Election night -- I know, I'm way behind. (On the other hand, I still haven't told you about spitting the dummy or fair dinkum, and that's from 7 months ago. So, it's all relative.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Editorial Cartoons

Michael Leunig and others have had some great editorial cartoons lately in the Australian papers. Enjoy.

Monday, November 10, 2008


So, it's been some week, hasn't it? I have lots of stories and photos I want to share from Election Day, but I haven't been able to get them up online yet. So, for now, I'm going to post a couple links and videos people might be interested in.

And I also have an invitation: It seems like for a lot of people there were stories from Election Day. Like, waiting in line to vote -- LL Cool J was in line ahead of me. And P Diddy (whom a Jesuit I know accidentally calls P Diddly) was there earlier. Or, if there were any big celebrations in your area after the results -- Times Square was a madhouse -- maybe a description of that. Or, how the whole thing made you feel (for better or worse). Or whatever -- anything surrounding those days; if you have something, post it as a comment. I think this is one of those moments we all want to share.

So, just to lead by example, I'll post just one for now: I was working at a call center encouraging people in Florida to come out and vote on Election Day. I spent two and a half hours talking mostly to answering machines, and occasionally to a real person. A number of whom told me, I'm not voting. One lady, I think from the Caribbean, just kept repeating it -- I'm not voting! I'm not voting! I'm not voting! Like it was crazy.

And then I talked to a guy who was a baseball coach, very pleasant, open minded. He was going to vote, but he wasn't sure for who yet. And he said to me, out of the blue, Don't you think it's possible that Barack Obama is the anti-Christ?

Now -- I know. You're thinking, conversation over. I thought the same thing, but what am I going to do, hang up? I said, well... yes, I guess he could be the anti-Christ. (It is of course completely possible, if unlikely.) I don't think he is, I went on, and I guess the same questions could be asked of McCain or Nader.

And for a while, this guy kept musing on that, in what seemed a very reflective way. But then we moved on and had a very interesting conversation about the candidates and what's important in the next 4 years. And eventually the whole anti-Christ thing made sense; he saw how people revered Obama, and worried that they're setting him up as a Messianic figure, and he can't live up to those expectations. He seemed more worried for Obama, really, than anything.

It was a real privilege. I suspect I had very little in common with this guy, and wasn't sure at all where this conversation was going. But to think now, on Election Day I got to talk to someone as they were sorting things out for themselves, an undecided voter. And I got the chance to talk someone who came from a different world, and let him expand my horizons.

How cool is that?

Alright, now got to comments and you try!

In the meantime, some fun links:

All Their Fears Were True
Get the latest news satire and funny videos at

Julie, I have the perfect name for your baby

Obama Roasting Rahm Emanuel

A Brilliant Article about the Election, written at 4am

The Scariest Obama Video Ever

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote Disenfranchisement

If you're interested in reading complaints about vote disenfranchisement going on today, here's a link.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Yes We Can

About 4 years ago, a skinny black guy with a funny name stood before the Democratic National Convention and said something that connected. Today, it's quite possible that that skinny black guy will become the next president of the United States. And whether he wins or loses, it's been quite a journey, for him and for us.

For those who will spend this Election Day checking the polls and blogs constantly, I offer some highlights of the last four years. When you're looking for a break from the political analysis, or you need a little inspiration, or a laugh, or a reminder of what the American dream is all about, check out a clip.

Prelude: The Democratic National Convention, 2004 (The last 7 minutes -- Wow)

Obama in New Hampshire: Yes We Can

The Yes We Can Video.

No, You Can't.

Interlude: Two Words from Mike Huckabee

Obama On Race

The Democratic Primary: A Summary

Paris Hilton Has a Word
See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Tina Fey, You Betcha

The Palin Rap

Talk to Your Parents About John McCain

Obama: "One Week"

One More Day

Reprise: Yes, We Can

Melbourne Cup Finish

It don't get closer than that...