Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mr. Lonegan vs. Mr. Booker

I like Scotch and a cigar. Steve Lonegan

STEVE LONEGAN, who's running for US Senate in New Jersey against Mayor of Newark Cory Booker, must have figured that since he probably couldn't get away with spouting racial slurs, he'd try homophobic ones instead. In an interview with NewsMax, he implied that Mr. Booker is gay or is at least, "acting ambiguous" to score more votes with gay people.

New Jersey Senate candidate and current Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker.

Mr. Lonegan based his opinion on a magazine interview in which Mr. Booker said that his ex-girlfriend had introduced him to getting manicures and pedicures. 

Mr. Lonegan is quoted as saying, "It was described as his (Booker's) peculiar fetish. I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a Scotch and a cigar. That's my fetish, but we'll just compare the two. As a guy, I personally like being a guy."

Maybe we should be concerned about
Steve Lonegan's cigar fetish. Pretty kinky, I'd say.

So, now we know. If you're male, and you get a manicure or a pedicure, you're gay. Wow, is our friend Larry, father of two and married to Sharon for more than 40 years, going to be shocked to learn that he's been gay all this time and didn't know it! He must be gay; he gets his toenails trimmed at Solar Nails because he can't bend enough to do it himself — and since he's diabetic, he needs particular attention paid to his feet — so Sharon sends him there.

Mr. Lonegan is revealing more about his proclivities than his opponent's. As New Jerseyites weigh the merits of both candidates, I doubt they'll want a man living in the 50s to represent them, one who's focused on the romantic preferences of others instead of the many pressing needs of their state and nation. 

And this is me not going anywhere near his cigar fetish because that would be sinking to his level.

I just rewarded Mr. Lonegan's pettiness and lack of gravitas by donating to Cory Booker's campaign. I didn't think it was necessary before, but now I do. You see where casting aspersions got you, Steve.
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Tabby boys

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.” ― Garrison Keillor, American author, storyteller, humorist and radio personality best known as the creator of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion

CONSUMMATE kitty rescuer, Roxanne Conlin, posted this picture of two small, feral, tabby boys she and James have taken in. They remind me that our BoyBoy, now 23 pounds of lovey-dovey, furry-purriness, was once that small and feral.

Below is the picture of Roxanne's little guys. Below that, BoyBoy in the live-trap on the day we captured him.

Roxanne's two little tabbies.
BoyBoy was mad, but as you can tell from the photos, things turned out pretty well for him.

Here's how The Boy became part of our lives. One night after getting home late from work, I spotted a tiny, wild thing near our garage in the backyard. 

"Paul, there's a kitten!" I exclaimed. 

Paul disagreed. Based on the size of the ears, he said "Nah, it's a baby bunny." 

I was pretty sure I was right. "Nope, that's a kitten."

After crawling around unsuccessfully in the dirt and the dark for an hour trying to get him, we realized a live-trap was the only solution. 

The next day Paul bought a trap, and by the following morning we had a tiny, mad kitten. Released upstairs in Paul's music room in order to keep him sequestered from Shye and Shiva, he immediately darted into a small space under a heavy piece of furniture. The only way I could interact with him was to lay on the floor and, with food on my fingers, slide my hand into the small gap between the cabinet and floor. I fed him like that for the next couple of days, until he finally let me get hold of him and bring him out. 

When we were able to examine him, we could see that he had a bite wound on his head, an insect had laid an egg in it and the egg had hatched into a larva. The vet removed the larva, tested to make sure this yet-unnamed kitten wasn't diseased and sent us home with antibiotics to treat the wound. 

We already had two cats. Our stated and agreed upon goal was to find him a good home. And we did. Ours. 

It was the antibiotics that did it. He needed them for two weeks, and after that, I could tell there was no way Paul was going to let anyone have this little guy but us.

We raised BoyBoy in the bedroom for three or four months because we could close the door and keep him safe from his two adult sisters who were terrorizing him, while still socializing him. We'd let the girls in for longer and longer periods of time so they could all adjust to each other, but when he got scared, he'd run up on the bed in a streak and hide behind one of our heads.

We kept warning the girls that he wouldn't remain a little, and at 23 pounds and three feet long when he stretches out, he's definitely no longer little. He still thinks he's a baby, though. 
He wails if he's can't sleep with us, so he does, and with his size and weight, it's like having a toddler in bed. 

From time to time if something scares him, he still tries to fit between my head and the headboard, the end result is of course that I have a giant cat sitting on my head.

PS: Don't be alarmed, ailurophiles, by pictures of BoyBoy outside. He's allowed outdoors only on supervised excursions, and even with us out there with him, we have to leave the back door open to reassure him that he can go back inside whenever he wants. As far as living rough goes, he's been-there-done-that and doesn't want to do it again.

He's still a juvenile here. You can see he's yet to grow into those ears.
Taking a nap with Dad.
He loves to have his tummy rubbed.
At Christmas.
He snores!
He's a handsome lad.
Stalking the wilds of the back yard. 
He almost always sits with his paws crossed.
Our furry, woodland creature snorting catnip in the backyard.
It's like having a toddler in bed with us.
This gives you some idea of just how l-o-n-g he is!
He loves to have Paul carry all 23 pounds of him around.
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No laughing matter

"I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office." Andrew Jackson 

THESE TWO editorial cartoons were found by my Facebook friends. The first one, drawn by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe, was released by Common Cause. The second one, drawn by John Jonik and entitled "Medicine in the Age of Lobbying", was shared online by Represent.US. Thanks, FB friends. You help keep me sane.

The thing they both have in common is Citizen's United. Was it the worst Supreme Court decision ever? I'd be interested in hearing what other contenders you think rank up there with it. 

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Smart dog plays fetch with himself

"Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." John Muir

THOSE OF YOU who are animal lovers will enjoy this video. And if don't love animals, here's my question: What's wrong with you??

Personally, I never trust anyone who isn't kind to animals. Thanks to Paul, here's a little treat to those of you who have souls. 

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Opening and closing

"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." — Roger Ebert

CERTAIN ACTORS who are big box office draws, I believe, are referred to as having the ability to "open" a movie. We probably all have a handful of favorites we like well enough to be willing to see whatever they're in — maybe not in the theater, but at least on video.

I'm guessing everybody also has a list of those who can, for them at least, close a movie. I definitely have my own particular inventory of those whose presence in anything guarantees I won't watch, at least not unless a large sum of money is offered as compensation for pain and suffering.

Here's my list of the ones you'd have to pay me to see.

Woody Allen
Alec Baldwin
Nicolas Cage
Sean Connery

Tom Cruise
Cameron Diaz
Mel Gibson
Jeff Goldblum

Anyone with the last name of Kardashian
Ashton Kutcher
Matthew McConaughey
Lindsay Lohan

Andie MacDowell
John Malkovich
Mary McDonnell
Jack Nicholson

Adam Sandler
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sylvester Stallone

It's a tough call to come up with my top — or should it be bottom — won't-see, but I can narrow it to three: Sean Connery, Matthew McConaughey and Mel Gibson.

Here's the bunch whose participation makes it likely I'll want to see whatever they're in.

Hank Azaria
Jack Black
Sandra Bullock
Jessica Chastain
Chris Cooper
Daniel Craig

Matt Damon
Viola Davis
Daniel Day-Lewis
Judy Dench
Colin Firth
Jamie Foxx
Morgan Freeman

Ricky Gervais
Cuba Gooding
Tom Hanks
Sean Hayes
Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Ashley Judd

Diane Keaton
Kevin Kline
Hugh Laurie
Helen Mirren
Mandy Patinkin
John C. Riley

J.K. Simmons
Maggie Smith
Will Smith
Sissy Spacek
Meryl Streep
Emma Thompson

Marissa Tomei
Denzel Washington
Forest Whitaker
Dianne Wiest
Reese Witherspoon
Renee Zellweger

If I had to make pick three absolutely must-see's I'd say Judy Dench, Colin Firth and Helen Mirren

Who's on your list?
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Coburn perilously close to dumb-bunnyhood

"And I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier." — Senator Tom Coburn, January 2005

OKAY, I honestly don't have a fixation with OK — Oklahoma, that is. It's coincidence that my previous post about a good thing in Oklahoma is followed today by one about a dumb thing in Oklahoma.

I'm talking about Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn. In a town hall meeting, he suggested that President Obama has gotten "perilously close" to having accumulated grounds enough for impeachment. 

His name was ringing a bell with me because of his vote against background checks for gun buyers, and I seemed to recall that he'd made other outrageous comments. It wasn't hard to find them; I just googled "stupid things Senator Tom Coburn has said." 

I've attached a short article from NBC News about his latest wackadoodle comments, but keep reading past that for other say-what utterances of his.

Coburn raises possibility of impeachment at town hall

By Carrie Dann, Political Reporter, NBC News
August 22, 2013

A Republican lawmaker on Wednesday appeared to suggest that President Barack Obama is “getting perilously close” to meeting the criteria for impeachment. 

“I think those are serious things, but we’re in serious times,” said Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn during a town hall in his home state. “And I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ but I think you’re getting perilously close.”

“And I quite frankly think he’s in a difficult position he’s put himself in, and if it continues, I think we’re going to have another constitutional crisis in our country in terms of the presidency,” he said.

“What you have to do is you have to establish the criteria that would qualify for proceedings against the president. And that’s called impeachment,” he said as some in the audience applauded.

“I think there’s some intended violation of the law in this administration but I also think there’s a ton of incompetence,” he added. 

Coburn said that he does not know if the constitutional standard for impeachment has been met, and he said that that such proceedings should not be “something you take lightly.”

“I’m documenting all this stuff as it goes along, but I don’t know where that level is,” he added.  

It was unclear what specific instance Coburn was referencing as possible grounds for impeachment, although he mentioned that he believes Department of Homeland Security officials have told career USCIS employees to “ignore” background checks for immigrants. 

A Coburn spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Here are more Coburnisms as reported August 18, 2011 by Jim Newell on Gawker.

Senator Tom Coburn Has Lost His Mind
Tom Coburn long been one of President Obama's good Republican friends, he's open to raising more tax revenue, and he actually called Nancy Pelosi a "nice lady" once. So it's strange to see him now making jokes about shooting all of his colleagues, claiming that Medicare makes things worse for old people, and making gross generalizations about black people, all in one lovely summer day of townhallery.

Tom Coburn explains how senior citizens prospered in the pre-Medicare days of widespread old age poverty and constant death:

"You can't tell me the system is better now than it was before Medicare," he said.

Coburn agreed that some people received poor care - or no care - before Medicare was enacted in the 1960s, but said communities worked together to make sure most people received needed medical attention.

He also conceded that doctors and hospitals often went unpaid for their efforts, or accepted baked goods or chickens in partial payment.

Speaking of death, he wants to shoot up the Senate:

He described his colleagues as "a class of career elitists" and "cowards," and at one point, talking about his frustrations, said, "It's just a good thing I can't pack a gun on the Senate floor."

And did you know that President Obama is black?

Obama's "intent is not to destroy, his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him," he said.

"As an African-American male," Coburn said, Obama received "tremendous advantage from a lot of these programs."
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Here's your second chance

"We have, however, made thousands of friends from all walks of life and political stripes as this issue really is not partisan." — G. Keith Smith, MD

I HAVE my share of conservative Republican friends and family who find it odd at best and in some instances insulting that I'm as socially liberal as I am especially given that my personal behavior, with the exception of my shoe closet, is almost old-fashioned. Paul calls me his Yankee Doodle girl scout.

On the other hand, I have a cherished collection of liberal, progressive, socialistic, left-wing, hippie, anti-capitalistic, anti-war, anti-cruelty, pro-justice, egalitarian, vegetarian friends who find my patriotism and belief in the power of the individual to influence the direction of our country's collective economic-political machine hopelessly naive.

But here, ladies and gentlemen, is something both left, right and those in between can get behind in unanimity.

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma.

I was bewildered, frankly, by the lack of high-fives for my July 31, 2013 post about the SCO. Perhaps because I attached a long piece from the New York Times to that particular post, it might have seemed like too much to take in. 

Whatever the reason, if you didn't read it, you missed a valuable piece of information. So I'm giving you another chance because as it turns out . . . I am in fact enough of a hopelessly naive Yankee Doodle girl scout to care whether or not you have this resource filed away — just in case.

And why is the Surgery Center of OK such a valuable asset you may wonder? Because at some point you or someone you care about will need surgery for something, I guarandamntee it.

And since you (choose any that apply)
  • are a free-market capitalist and fiscal conservative
  • object to the high cost of health care 
  • don't want the government involved in your medical decisions
  • hanker to help bust the price-fixing, medical monopoly
  • aren't part of the rich 1% 
  • believe affordable health care should be available to all
  • would like to reduce the government's budget deficit
  • are an Occupy Wall Streeter
Naturally, you would rather not pay (or have Medicare or your insurance be on the hook for) $1000 for a tooth brush or $140 for a Tylenol (as reported by CNN). You'd of course much rather pay $3,975 instead of $17,200 for a laparoscopic hernia repair, $3,200 instead of $24,000 to have your gallbladder removed or $5,300 instead of $223,000 (actual charge in Monterey Park, CA) for a joint replacement.

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma's prices are so affordable that people from all over the country travel there to get the operations they need. That's the reason you want this information tucked away in your back pocket because who knows what the future has in store for any of us!

Here's how the SCO describes itself: "Free market-loving, price-displaying, state-of-the-art, AAAHC accredited, doctor owned, multi-specialty surgical facility in central OK."

I was so amazed and impressed by this humane way of practicing medicine that I sent an email fan letter to their general email address, and I was equally amazed and impressed to immediately receive a reply from the Surgery Center of Oklahoma's founder himself, Dr. G. Keith Smith.

Here are both letters:

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Are there parades held in your honor? There should be! I'm awestruck that you were/are unselfish, courageous and pioneering enough to create and model this model!!

Unselfish: What, greed not your driving life force? Not trying to bleed (pun not intended, okay a little intended) patients for every cent you can get out of them? Who are you people???? I can't even guess how many individuals have been able to get the surgical procedures they needed that they otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford.  

Courageous: I'm surprised the AMA hasn't hired a hit squad to take you out. Just daring to swim so utterly upstream as you are takes cajones and ovaries.

Pioneering: You're already changing the paradigm around the country. OMG

You can't get better exposure than the New York Times, but nevertheless I added my tiny audience by blogging about you in the attached post.

Kelly Sargent

"Wow, thank you for your kind email!  We have made very few friends in the medical community with what we are doing, that is for sure. We have, however, made thousands of friends from all walks of life and political stripes as this issue really is not partisan. Messages such as yours help keep us going...means more to me than you could know...thanks again." — GKS

Once again HERE is the link to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma.

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Saturday, August 17, 2013

B. Taylor at the Iowa State Fair

"You have to choose whether to love yourself or not." James Taylor 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT Paul and I took our friend Myron to the fair, and we headed straight to . . . drum roll please . . . the food of course.

The Iowa State Fair, is after all, the place where you can get every kind of food known to humankind on a stick — including salad which Paul in fact did. We both had our usual turkey sandwiches, and in a sign of the times, they now offer gluten-free alternatives to bread. Myron got a gigantic pork tenderloin, and Paul ate half of it. Yes, that's really how big that tenderloin was; one person could eat as much as he could and still have half left over. 

I couldn't be there and not have an Appleicious slushy and two slices of apple pizza — which would have been fine because the slushy is just apple juice on snow cone ice, and the pizza is a skinny crust with paper thin slices of apple and almonds piled on top, but the guy working the stand asked me if I wanted caramel on top, and I said, "I don't know. Do I? I've never had it like that." His response was a slather of caramel.

And in the interests of total transparency, on the way out Paul and I each got a nut bar on a stick dipped in chocolate. He had pecan, I had peanut, his was better, and they were both complete overkill in the pigging-out-on-food-at-the-fair department.

Paul and Myron dashed through Varied Industries while I ran through the fabric and textiles exhibit upstairs — sewing, crocheting, quilting, knitting and so on — before heading to the concert area to stake out front row seats for Ben Taylor. Then Paul and I took turns saving seats and going through the art and photography exhibits in the Cultural Center

We were both excited to discover a piece displayed in the art exhibition by someone we know — a charcoal drawing of Virginia's sister-in-law, Enes Logli, drawn by her granddaughter, Christine Logli LedoI had a picture of it in a blog post from September 2011.

Christine Logli Ledo and her drawing of Grandma Enes Logli.

Myron and I scoped out the several dozen restored, vintage tractors from 1938 on up — he reckoned as how his favorite was a modern era 4440 John Deere — and the three of us gaped together at the winner of the biggest pumpkin contest, all 908 pounds of it.

This "little" beauty weighs 908 pounds. 
No, not me. Come on now! And man, do I need a hair cut!!

I have to say that Paul and I were somewhat disappointed in Ben's concert. He performed alone with an acoustic guitar, backing himself up with some kind of electronic, computerized, looping, mixer thing-y. There's probably some actual name for the assemblage of equipment he had, but even Paul didn't know exactly what to call it. Ben used it to create rhythms and sounds that he'd loop and then sing with. 

Performing without other musicians was perfectly fine, we just weren't crazy about the electronic gizmo machine, and as Paul pointed out, inherent in that process is being stuck in the key of what you laid down at the beginning which makes for a musically less interesting performance because the tune can't shift or modulate.

I'm going to give it my best shot here at describing Ben and his music. Naturally, this is just my personal take. Ben seems like a man who's running away really, really hard from being James Taylor's son and shoehorned himself into styles that are awkward fits at best in order to differentiate himself from his dad.

He played lots of original songs. Many of them had strong reggae influences and a bunch more of them were what I'd describe as folk/rap songs which is an odd mashup. Hearing a few of them was cool, but after awhile they became repetitious and mushed together into noise, and both Paul and I wanted to escape. 

On the other hand, the original ballads he performed were beautiful and captivated the audience.

For better or worse, Ben's voice is very much like his father's, but the sound similarity isn't what made his ballads compelling. They're memorable because the poetry and lyricism are beautiful. He's a gifted poet, and his voice is good because it's good, not because it is or isn't like his dad's.

It seems like Ben doesn't see that he's blessed in his own right because he's too busy trying not to be dad by taking on this reggae, rap, electronic persona which to me felt/sounded/seemed applied and contrary to his natural self. 

Blah, blah, blah. There, you have my 2 cents worth. Pictures of Ben below.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Running with the worms

"We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm." Winston Churchill 

PAUL HAS US on a new exercise regimen — for which I'm entirely grateful. It's a relief to me, honestly, because up until now I've been the one trying to drag us out for a walk or a bike ride. This nine-week program of walking and running every other day is an app Paul downloaded on his iPhone that's designed to gear up to a 5K run.

Running a 5K has been a goal of mine for a while now. I used to be fit; I worked out four or five times a week and was darn near ready to take my place at the starting line until . . . well, that's a whole other story that I'll write about in the future. It will be called How Racism Made Me Fat

I don't care how slow I run this planned 5K. It'll be okay with me if I'm the last one across the finish line — just as long as I run the whole distance. Paul says he's going to run it with me. I told him that he can do that if he wants, but I ain't runnin' any faster than I run. By most people's standards it might be called jogging, but I do not care Sam I Am.

So . . . my accomplishments before breakfast have been:

1) Went for a 5K run/walk 

2) Rescued a worm*

3) Wrote this post

* Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes, but worms are okay by me. I was running along when I noticed one on a driveway trying to wriggle his way, I would assume, to a place more favorable to his survival. It was a long, very wide driveway, and as he was already looking less moist than a worm needs to be to live, I relocated him to grassy turf. 

Hey, it's not very often that you get to be Master of the Universe — which is what I must have seemed to this worm. One second he's struggling to no avail, and the next second he's plucked up by a giant hand and put down in green grass and dirt. The bottom line is that I can't stand to see anything struggle to live, and who does more damage to the planet — me or that worm? The answer is me by several dozen 5Ks. 
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pictures from the Iowa City Jazz Festival

"We’re not like pop musicians who have to perform the same top ten tunes every night of a tour." Oscar Peterson

SOME OF YOU may recall that July 5 Paul played the Iowa City Jazz Festival. He was part of the Iowa Jazz Orchestra put together by Lynn Hart that backed up singer Sachal Vasandani. 

Andrea Canter who writes JazzInk, a blog spotlighting the jazz scene in Minneapolis and the upper Midwest, was there photographing the event, and was kind enough to send me photos. Here are a few of them from that beautiful evening.

Sachal Vasandani and The Iowa Jazz Orchestra

Paul taking a solo.

Lynn Hart on tenor sax.

Jim Romain doubling on flute.

My favorite trombone player.

Sachal, Jim Oatts on trumpet and Lynn Hart on tenor sax.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

New Max Wellman CD

"My creed for art in general is that it should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise — a part of yourself you never knew existed." — Bill Evans

THIS WON'T mean a thing (if you ain't got that swing . . .  sorry, I couldn't help it) to those of you who don't live in the Central Iowa area, but for those of you who do, it may be of interest; local singer Max Wellman is working on a new CD. The only reason I have the inside scoop is because Paul is playing on it. He spent about five hours Thursday night in a recording session. Here's a picture from that night.

Paul is the trombonist on the left.