Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inquiring Minds

Just a quick note to the regular followers of this blog. You may be wondering why Boop hasn't written a blog in quite some time. I mean, let's face it, its pretty hard to keep her mouth shut. Well my friends, she has been stricken with a TERRIBLE CASE of one of the worst things Internet. GASP! The horror! I know. I am not sure I would be strong enough to survive this type of torturous outage, but I saw her today and she is coping quite well under the circumstances. She is a bit shaky in her gait and tends to twitch at the neck uncontrollably, but she is at least still clear in mind. Hopefully it should only be a few more days of this hell on earth and I am willing to bet as soon as its over she will blog all about it. Until then, try to remain calm. You will not be without Boop for much longer.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Holy crap! I won!

Back in January, the Editor-in-Chief at StreetWise, Suzanne Hanney, told me she'd like to nominate two of the pieces I wrote for the paper last year for Mate E. Palmer Communications awards, sponsored by the Illinois Woman's Press Association. At the time, I thought she had gone daft. I had been a freelance reporter for all of about five minutes when she told me I actually had a shot of winning such an accolade. I spent a sizeable amount of time in 2009 honing a reputation as a go-to journalist for Chicago's burgeoning urban agriculture business. But considering that my previous reporting experience consisted of theater criticism for the Lincoln Park High School newspaper, I figured I still had a ways to go before earning the right to trophies. But is always nice to be nominated for something, and Suzanne has been a critical mentor in my development as a writer. I can never thank her enough for all she's done.

So imagine my great astonishment as I returned from the gym Tuesday afternoon and opened a letter from the Association. I had to read it several times over before anything made sense. It seems the good ladies of journalism decided to make me the State's winner in the Special Articles: Agriculture, Agribusiness, Aquaculture category. Really? Wow!

Pleased as I am, I did have to take a moment to appreciate the irony. Ms. Concrete Jungle herself, lover of all things urban and high culture, wins a media award for writing about farming. True enough that the farming takes place within City limits, but it's agriculture. If there is such a designation, I have what the horticulture set might refer to as a "black thumb." I couldn't even keep a cactus alive when I was living in Bensenville. But I suppose that's life, isn't it? Full of surprises.

The awards luncheon will be held on Saturday, May 15th, and I will receive the honor in front of a sea of female journalists who have been in the game much longer than I. How humbling and awe-inspiring. I don't do praise well, never have, so when the inevitable tears of embarassment materialize, I will have the support of my family to help me dry them. It means so much to me that Jen will be sitting at my table, because honestly, I wouldn't be writing this post were it not for her. A little more than a year ago, I was languishing in corporate hell, nursing a dream, but doing nothing about it. Jen invited me to participate in this blog, then kicked me in the pants as often as needed until I found the guts to branch out.

As a winner of the 2010 Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest, I will have paid entry for a wider competition, sponsored by the National Woman's Press Association (NWPA), of which I am also a member. Again let us pause to reflect on that idea that Boop will going womano y womano against seasoned Red state agriculture vets. It's kind of hilarious.

I dare not develop a big enough head to think I will place at the national level. I still can't believe something I wrote will be considered at all. But I feel pretty amazing today, not to mention vindicated. I chucked it all, literally - safety, salary, benefits and continuity - to enter into a new field, as it has fallen on hard times, and when I have to compete for bylines against people ten years younger than me, with twice the experience. But even more astounding than having the gall to take a risky plunge is the fact that it's working.

I'll be damned.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


With all this talk of health care, wars, economic meltdown, etc. I felt it was high time to dumb it down for a bit of escapism at its finest: Dancing With the Stars Season 10 kickoff breakdown. I was uber excited about this season from the moment the new cast was announced, and after 2 hours I was not left disappointed. Here is the show, as seen through my eyes.

Chad Johnson starts off the show. "Who's that?" you ask, after scanning the cast list and finding no such name? Well, my friends, its the douche who thought it cool to legally change his surname to his NFL jersey number en espanol. Geez. As they roll the intro package, I am taken aback with how quickly I am able to cast aside his doucheyness to focus squarely on his hotness. Wow. That one took me by surprise. His partner, Cheryl Burke, is a two-time DWTS champ so he is in good hands. He looks a bit awkward during the Cha Cha Cha, but has potential. And...we are off and running. SCORE: 18

Next we have TVs (and mine) favorite bad girl. She may as well go by Brenda Walsh, but its Shannen Doherty to her daddy. She looks to be one hip shake away from vomit the entire time. She quickly becomes the first to sass the judges this season, cutting off Bruno mid critique to inform him the only opinion she cares about is her dad's. True Brenda Bitch fashion. SCORE: 18

Erin Andrews take to the stage next in what I find to be the best costume of all the contestants. She looked like a hot little banana. She shows some mega potential IF she can control her noodles, as KK referred to them as. EA couldn't seem to wrangle her lanky arms and legs. I will say this: Maksim Chmerkovsky makes a most delicious dance partner. Hubba hubba! SCORE: 21

Jake Pavelka continues to work (abuse) the rose theme by presenting one to Chelsie Hightower at the start of the dance. He annoys the living sh!t out of me and therefore I have nothing positive to say other than the fact that his fiance Vienna appeared to look less ugly than usual sitting in the audience cheering him on with the perma-sinister grin she is now famous for. I have never wanted 15 minutes to pass by faster... SCORE: 20

Niecy Nash. Oh, Niecy Nash. I knew little of her before this other than what shows she has been on (that I never watched) but once she was done, I was ready to pass a rose her way myself! Her personality is just beautiful. My new favorite phrase is "jiggly bits", and while I don't love mine as much as she loves hers I will root for her all the way to the end! That girl has confidence, spunk, and rhythm that COULD take her a long way if people pick up the phone and vote. I love her. As a side note, Louis van Amstel floats my boat too. SCORE: 18

Gold medal king Evan Lysacek looked fantastic for his first spin on the dance floor. He should be elegant given his background, and he was. Can't wait to see some of his personality come out though. A bit too stiff in that arena for my liking. Does anyone else get the feeling that, in real life, he might be a bit "difficult" shall we say? Just a hunch. His partner came across as a bit of a ding bat in the Q & A following the performance, but I'll forgive her because she has fabulous hair. SCORE: 23

Buzz Aldrin. He's 80 and adorable but has no place on this show. Sorry Buzz. You gotsta go. SCORE: 14

Nicole Sherzinger TORE IT UP! That chick was amazing. But as I have said during previous seasons, its almost unfair to have people like her on the show. Fine, she has never danced ballroom before (and we hear THAT defense a lot) but she has previously made a living gyrating to choreography in one way or another and has an automatic leg up (pun most certainly intended). See Joey Fatone, Mya, etc. for evidence. If I had to call a winner right now based on ability it would be her. But we know from seasons past that it could end up being a fan favorite (see Donny Osmond) taking home the trophy. SCORE: 25

Now to the point in the show where I practically had to take a cold shower. Aiden Turner, my soap opera husband and his SUPER HOTTIE partner Edyta Sliwinska. She is ridiculous smokin' hot and, were I a lesbian, she would be my type. OMG her body is sick. The judges thought they were worse than I did, so I hope they come out with a bang next week so they can stay in the game. Not sure he has the fan base nationwide needed to stay in the game for a long time. SCORE: 15

Kate Gosselin sucks at life, sucks at parenting, and sucks at dancing. Nuff said. SCORE: 16

Pamela Anderson closed out the show. She wasn't awful, but she wasn't great either. Her outfit BARELY covered her naughty bits (shocking!) and it looked like a hand mixer was responsible for getting her hair ready for the performance. I don't need to see her for more than a few episodes. She's a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. SCORE: 21

Trying to Understand America(ns)

I don't get it. I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend why Americans in general are dead set against health care reform. I know regular reader Mr. A. can't wait to tell me it's all about deficits and concern for our financial future. But I don't buy it. Where was that concern with our dependence on foreign oil, which allowed countries we diametrically oppose ideologically, to price gouge us for the last four decades? Where was that abhorrence for non-budgetary spending when we went off to a pointless war in Iraq? How about during the criminally negligent Bush tax cuts during the same period? Why not call for some heads when the corrupt financial system nearly brought us to ruin?

How can it be something that is at long last beneficial to the regular Joe that has the crowds baying? I hate to sound like an elitist liberal snob, but have we as a nation lost the ability to understand what is in our best interest? I hear a lot of talk about how Democrats lost the "message war" on health reform last summer, about the time Sarah Palin started spewing her garbage about death panels. But perhaps I gave my fellow citizens too much credit in believing we had educated ourselves beyond that foolishness?

The bill (or bills) are not perfect. I will admit it. I wanted a public option. The changes we are set to implement attempt to build upon and fix the system already in place. That's certainly better than nothing, but definitely stops short of the revolution some of us were hoping for. Yet and still, a majority of the nation opposes the legislation. It's a head scratcher for certain.

Insurance companies will no longer be able to: cap your annual health care expenses, drop you when you're sick, or flat out deny people with pre-existing conditions. Jobless college graduates will be able to keep their parents coverage until the age of 26. Sure, the plan has a cost, but it is more than paid for in long term savings and deficit reductions. We will never be able to say that about the hundreads of billions we have thrown down the Iraq drain.

So what is it? Are we afraid of change? Are the Republicans having to answer to the special interest groups and lobbyists who line their pockets? Are these the people being polled? Why doesn't CNN ever call me? I don't have the answers. I am thinking out loud here.

Anyone, anyone?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Shamrock Stomach Flu

Long, gross story short: something happened to my stomach and I have been unleashing gastronomic pyrotechnics since about 9:00 PM Thursday night. It continued all day yesterday, though I pride myself on having been able to participate in a phone interview for a job whilst flat on my back. It certainly sucked having to cancel my Friday night social plans, but as our regular blog followers may remember, I am running the Shamrock Shuffle tomorrow morning in Grant Park. I have exactly 24 hours to get my strength back.

Given that all I managed to keep down yesterday was snack size bag of Oreo cookies (at least my upset stomach has good taste), Step 1 is going to be eating healthy, light foods. No one can run an 8k on an empty stomach. Step 2 is rehydration via water and Gatorade, with a dash of ginger tea thrown in.

The change in the weather makes things more interesting too. After a near 70 degree day yesterday, I am presently watching snowflakes fall outside my office window. No matter, I like a challenge. Bring it Mother Nature. Bring on the remnants of stomach flu. I will run and I will finish in less than 50 minutes.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wal-Mart Gift Wraps Me Another Reason to Hate Them

I have been calling this retailer "The Evil Empire" for years. I know they have everything, and they have it on the cheap, but I won't shop there.

Let's leave aside the unfair business practices, and predatory assault on regional Mom and Pop stores the chain unleashed in the 1980s and 90s. Let's forget about their sweat shop labor practices: the abuse of needy seniors, the unfair pay raises awarded to men over women. I can even try to overlook some of their most glaring PR gaffes, say two Christmases ago when a man did a nice thing and bought hundreds of $10 store gift cards to pass out at his local outlet, only to be kicked out of the place by management, worried that the benvolent gift might decrease recipient spending.

On the whole, no matter how many lovey dovey ad campaigns they launch, Wal-Mart appears to me to be the very eptiome of the heartless corporation. Daley and I don't see eye to eye on much, but I for one am thrilled he has thus far kept Wal-Mart out of City limits. May it always remain that way. I would rather spend an additional five cents on my body wash at the far more civic minded Target.

Incidentally, if you doubt the veracity of any of my claims thus far, feel free to take to the Web. The truth is out there, as Mulder might say.

However, last evening while watching CNN, and again this morning, when I booted up my computer, I came across a story that managed to shock me, though I had long given up on Wal-Mart having any shame:

Black people must leave, NJ Walmart announcer says

Now, before any of you jump on my back, yes, I know this was one rogue employee, and this behavior is not explicitly condoned by corporate. Wal-Mart execs are falling all over themselves to snuff this PR mess, vowing to get to the bottom of the "unacceptable" behavior. That's wonderful, except this is nowhere near the first time complaints of racism have been leveled at the retail giant. This latest example, perhaps arguably the most egregious, is just one of many.

1. November 16, 2009

Arrest at Walmart triggers charges of racism
Incident with white customers and workers could land black teacher in jail

2. May 2009

Wal-Mart Charged with Racism…Again, and Other News

3. December 2, 2005

Racism alive and well at your neighborhood Wal-Mart

If we expect the President of the United States to be held accountable for the direction of our nation, down to the smallest detail, then we must hold the chiefs of Wal-Mart to the same standard.

I bet New York wishes it could create some literal distance between itself and the white trash Garden State right about now.

I refused to be dazzled by dollar bargains when my social conscience knows better. As I detailed, it's more than just systemic racism that irks me about the company. But this pattern has to be fixed, and fixed now. And "yes, we can" shop at another store until Wal-Mart cleans up it's act - recession or not.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Young Texans Are About To Get A Whole Lot Dumber - And Your Kids Might Get Stupider Too

Instead of galvanizing me to act (though I'm not sure yet what I can do), this latest news story makes me want to sit down and release my frustration via a good cry:

U.S. history textbooks could soon be flavored heavily with Texas conservatism

The item made me painfully aware of two truths of which I remained ignorant to this point. First, it seems that the Texas education system is such a large consumer of new textbooks, it is able, quite literally, to determine the curriculum and ideology imbibed by the rest of the nation's students. And in the second place, the Lone Star State apparently has no regard at all for the fundamental U.S. principle of the separation of Church and State. Unhappy with what they view as the "liberal leanings" of our children's schoolbooks, they have decided to cherry pick the facts they like, excise the ones they don't. And most disturbingly, it seems no one is going to stop them.

Among the new conceptions of our nation's history that students will be told to embrace:

1. "A greater emphasis on 'the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s.'"

In other words, less Bill Clinton, or the successful work of activists in creating awareness and containing the AIDS epidemic that threatened our populace 30 years ago. Instead, more Reaganomics, more Newt Gingrinch, more O'Reilly and Limbaugh.

2. "A reduced scope for Latino history and culture."

As of 2009, Latinos represented a full 15% of the American population. That percentage is considerably higher in Texas. Nevermind that the State was once part of Mexico, Latinos will be marginalized in favor of the compelling influence of crusty old white men in the nation's development. Tragic.

3. "Thomas Jefferson no longer included among writers influencing the nation’s intellectual origins."

By the time I reached this outrage, I was tempted to start slapping anyone wearing a cowboy hat. Among the intellectual forerunners to be highlighted in Jefferson’s place: medieval Catholic philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas, Puritan theologian John Calvin and conservative British law scholar William Blackstone. Two of these three were never even colonists, let alone Americans. I realize Jefferson, a slave owner, was hardly perfect, but it's impossible to overstate his importance in the U.S. origin story. Believe it or not, I am wiping tears from my eyes as I continue to contemplate this atrocity.

I could go on, but I will let you folks read the rest of this insanity for yourselves. The good news is that a final vote to implement these changes will not come until May. There is still time to stop the crazy. I just need to figure out how. Any ideas? If Rosebud runs up to me in six years, insisting that Joe McCarthy was really just a misunderstood patriot/martyr, I don't know what I'll do.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stimulating the Economy

Eddie and I are doing our part this month, and I suppose every dollar counts since most Americans have rethought their free spending ways since the economy buckled in 2008. A massive depression and record unemployment will do that to a country. In some ways that is for the best. Our national debt has been closely rivaled only by our collective personal deficits. 2009/2010 has been a painful, but in some ways needed period of adjusting expectations and fiscal habits.

With me mostly out of work (I freelance, but that ain't paying no gas bill), my husband and I have also responded to the new economic realities of this decade. Much discussed plans to buy our first condo have been scuttled in favor of renting a bigger place. We're heading to Rogers Park in two weeks. I don't believe we'll be engaging in any real estate transactions for a few years. Home prices need to stop falling, and credit markets need to release their chokehold.

Then there's the depressed auto market. Eddie and I planned to stay away from that too, having just paid off his 2004 Mazda 6 last month. However, the old clunker, my hubby's convoy as he moved around from Arizona, to California to Illinois after grad school, had different ideas. In the last year, we've dumped over $3,000 in repairs, the final $900 coming this week. It stopped making sense to prop the old girl up any longer.

As of Monday evening, we are the new owners of a Mazda EX-L:

I know, I know, we didn't buy American or a Hybrid. I thought about both and do feel some guilt on those scores, but Honda is reliable, affordable and throughout March, giving 1.9% APR financing to qualified buyers. We didn't plan to purchase this year - funds and time were limited. Sue us.

So I am off to celebrate my personal boost to the stalled American economy with a logical reward: a pig out Indian buffet lunch. See - we're helping small immigrant business owners too. We're givers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Corey Haim Continues a Bad Run for People Born in the 70s

I would like to share a couple hypotheses that have been rolling around in my brain for the last year or so, in the wake of a number of celebrity deaths, as well as real world afflications for my age and peer group:

1. The 30s are the new 20s - In the real sense that adolescence now seems to run on ad nauseum, no matter what one's ostensible responsibilities are: parenthood, career, et al. I feel, with certain exceptions, that my generation has taken "Peter Pan" syndrome to the next level - creating feelings of entitlement and invincibility. When drugs enter into that picture, as they did for Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, and Corey Haim - all people old enough to know better than to mix medications - the results are carelessly deadly. Instead of a 23 year-old River Phoenix collapsing in front of the Viper Room after a coke binge, in the 21st century, we see delayed Hollywood hedonists going to sleep in their own beds and never waking up.

2. Simultaneously, and somewhat paradoxically, the 30s and are also the new 40s. - Though Peter Pan may never want to grow up, there does come a time when self-awareness creeps in, no matter how long one has fought against it. If one if 38 years old, living with his mother, as Haim was, and a Hollywood hasbeen with a pill problem, he must occasionally experience twin realizations: what has been lost as well as what will never be again. I would argue that nothing is more soul deadening than the combination of youth and failure, a sense that you have years in front of you, only to remember what you've already missed. No wonder so many of these sad individuals turn to the easy coping strategy of self-medication. For them, the cliche midlife crisis comes a decade early.

Lindsay Lohan would seem to be a candidate for succumbing to the combination of an ever unencumbered adulthood, and the knowledge that she has already seen her professional peak. At only 23, she is ramping up the new Hollywood breakdown cycle.

However, I think my hypotheses are applicable to 30-somethings outside of Hollywood as well. On a much smaller scale, I am not immune to waffling between the idea that I am not fully formed, yet should have accomplished something bigger by now. But what I have, that I fear Heath, Brittany and Corey did not, is a proper support network, people who genuinely care about me. For my sister, husband, family and friends, there would be no fear or enabling if I went off track. They would try to pull me back, because their own fortunes are not tied to my professional solvency (I am talking to you Simon Monjack!). Money and selflessness are two words rarely viewed in the same sentence.

I started this post with the intention of waxing nostalgic about Corey Haim's memorable performances - Lucas, The Lost Boys, License to Drive and other staples of the 1980s. However, there are plenty of web and TV tributes of that sort already.

I like to think this spate of young celebrity overdoses presents a learning opportunity. A platform for discussing how we, as a society, can help reverse the trend of avoidable prescription drug deaths amongst young people, both famous and not. Deaths that I postulate are brought about in part by a combination of being told as a child that you will own the world (I think generations before were taught to think a bit smaller), then realizing well into your adulthood that you might just be a regular person. Why is that so tough to accept in the media age? There is no pill you can pop which cures normalcy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baby Fever

While I was having dinner with Jen and Eddie last Thursday, my friend Wyatt gave me a ring and asked me to call him back right away. It sounded urgent and any number of awful scenarios sprang to my mind, in large part because it seems so many people in my peer group have become afflicted with out of the ordinary traumas and ailments. But it turns out Wyatt, my former co-worker from 2005-2007, had some good news to report: he and his new bride Monica, married last August, are expecting.

Once I recovered from the immense dread that weighed in my chest as I dialed the phone, I experienced a strange brew of joy and shock. I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised as the 37 year-old Wyatt, who declared he'd never remarry when I met him, had obviously waived away that vow. So naturally, I should have seen the claim that he'd never procreate was also in jeopardy. I found my equilibrium and gave he and the Mrs. my most genuine congrats.

But here is the problem this creates for me: for each friend of mine, no matter how wild a partier in their former lives, who takes a step toward parenthood, my own excuses for abstaining, presented to my in-laws in a weekly web chat, become more and more flimsy. First I was just too young, then I was too newlywed, Eddie was traveling, I was attempting to get this writing career off the ground (still true), we were moving, etc. As I sit here rounding the corner toward 32, husband firmly on the ground and home each night, about to move into a fabulous condo, even I can see that the sands in the in-law filibustering hourglass have nearly run out.

So what's next? It seems, gulp, honesty. The truth: I do not want kids and probably never will. Eddie almost entirely echoes my sentiments (though the vain part of him is curious about a mini-Bon Jovi or Bon Joviette). But we have talked endlessly and we just don't, for a variety of reasons, think childrearing is for us.

However, we have not been brave enough yet to say this out loud, definitely, to stand down the intimidating force of the Indian parental unit. Call it a cultural difference if you want, although Eddie is not subject, but native Indian parents just do not see the point of getting married without the "blessing" of children. They feel that life (naturally, mostly for the wife) can never be complete without procreation.

Once we gather up the sack to make clear that the likelihood of Boop Jr. is minimal, I expect horror, tears, pleas, anger, not the least because Eddie is my in-laws only viable option in terms of grandchildren. Eddie has an older brother, Sonu, who has been bedridden since the age of two (a sad story for another time). I have complete sympthy for my in-laws desire to move forward with the future generation after a lifetime of taking care of their own sick child. I just can't share their desire, and in the end, it isn't right to bring a baby into the world to make someone else happy.

I really have no ending argument for this post. I am simply sharing my fears of a confrontation that is soon to come, one in which I must hold my ground. In the past, I have been known to buckle and take certain steps in my endless quest for others approval, but I know instinctively, this is not a time for ingratiating myself at the sake of my own vision.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oscars 2010: Boop Calls Best Picture/Best Director

I have a plethora of nerdy stories to share, and I will share them in time, that will clearly illustrate I have always been uncool. It's not like publicizing the fact on a blog makes it shocking. It is a truth universally known in my own circle. Not only have some of my past hobbies made it amazing that I ever had sex at all, but it redoubles the thrill of victory that I managed to land a hot husband. Because honestly, I might look alright, but I am a DORK.

Case in point: in the spring of 1996, as a member of Lincoln Park High School's Academic Decathlon team, I won a gold medal in the interview category. It was the regional competition at Senn High school, and though I had a decent day overall, I knew as soon as I walked out of the classrom where students chatted with judges, that I had nailed it. The crux of my repartee? A detailed, charming and lengthy chat about why I hate to find myself out of the loop on Oscar night; my quest to be as informed when I watch the annual telecast as I am while watching the SuperBowl after 17 weeks of play. Seriously, this superficial swill won me a gold medal, out of about 100 contestants, because I was so freaking earnest. I leave you to decide which is the most nerdy part of this anecdote: Academic Decathlon, a Hollywood insider's rant about the Academy Awards, or the fact that I was earnest in doing so (there's honestly no better word to describe it).

But I digress: another year, another Oscars awards show. This year, the producers (including the fab Adam Shankman) are mixing it up: two comedic hosts (Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin), no more Lifetime Achievement honours during the televised program (thank you!) and count them, 10 Best Picture nominees. The latter change is a throwback to the Oscars of yore, pre-1950, and has already lived up to its potential to be exciting and controversial.

Although, in the end I did not see many of this year's Best Picture nominees, having watched A Single Man and Crazy Heart be shamefully overlooked in favor of the overrated and overhyped Avatar (yes, I said it) and The Blind Side (Really?), I am prepared to call the race for a film I still very badly need to fit into my schedule: The Hurt Locker. I have yet to hear anything less than stellar feedback about this one, and I think it's high time a female helmer walk off with the Director's trophy too. Recent bad PR karma caused by an overzealous producer aside, I think it's Bigelow's year all around. Please let it not be James Cameron.

If I am wrong, I hope the error favors Precious, Up, or Up in the Air. Who is your favorite this year? And do you like the 10 nominee format for Best Picture?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The American Debate in Microcosm: Boop vs. "Mr. A"

Which End is Up!? indeed. In most instances, the posts on this blog represent commentary of the external world, the goings on outside our front doors, although of course Jen and I get personal too. But once in awhile, the story of this forum is the mini-essay itself, or rather, the reader comments posted after it has been written and shared. In many ways, generating a response is more gratifying than having the tacit freedom to write about anything I want, because then I can be sure I am not just stroking my own ego. When an actual discussion is triggered, especially when the topic is nationally meaningful, I have the inkling that this vanity project Jen and I begun a little over a year ago might just be onto something.

Dialogue is a bottom up phenomenon. I truly believe the most important discussions of our age take place in small settings: two old men arguing over breakfast at a local diner, a group of women in a church basement debating social issues in their community, the family kitchen table, and once in awhile, a little blog with 12 Chicagoland followers.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote this post about the pending retirement of Senator Evan Bayh, of Indiana, from Capitol Hill. You may recall I deemed the Senator, for the most part, to be a spineless quitter at a time when Americans need change and dissension more than ever. My fear is that Bayh's resignation opens his seat to another cookie cutter, status quo jerkoff - from either party. If Bayh feels a revolution is needed to overthrow Washington, then I wish he'd stay in office to help foment it.

I recognize that not everyone's political views align with mine, but one of our readers, "Mr. A" (whom I will now out as my old friend Timbo) has a long history of verbal scuffles with Boop. In the spirit of full disclosure, entertainment and humor, and perhaps to spur our faithful consumers into entering the fray more regularly themselves, I would like to reprint a transcript of the discussion which followed the February 16th post. Because I readily believe that arguments just like this are taking place all over the country.

The talk began innocently enough with a weigh-in from regular commentator Purple Artist:

Purple Artist said... Bah! I say, BAH!
What perplexes me is that for all intents and purposes, the Republicans want Obama to fail. How's that for team spirit for our country? It is like drilling a hole in the boat because you want to off the captain. Well guess what, teabaggers, y'all go down with the ship.

But then! Mr. A enters the fray and the gloves come off!

Anonymous said... I applaud Sen. Bayh. Bringing to light the problems in the political environment in Washington by retiring and leaving Harry Reid holding his nutsack will hopefully send a message to all hardliners that this shit has to end. Sure the republicans will try to pounce on the opportunity. But I would like to see more centrists like Evan from both parties jam things up for the party liners to make their point. As an independent voter myself with a centrist bent, I can't blame Bayh for not wanting to deal in that environment. What do you propose he do, stay and align with the hard line democrats just to keep the hard line republicans at bay? Isn't that the crux of the problem in the first place? I believe we need more people like Bayh in congress rather than less, and encouraging them to leave certainly doesn't fix that problem. But the fix needs to come from the polls. I believe Bayh's politics are more in line with the majority of Americans, yet the hardliners get reelected and remain in power. Never underestimate the ignorance of the American electorate. We complain about the partisan politics in Washington yet do nothing about where it the polls.

And as for Purple Artist's comment, of course the republicans want Obama to fail. Running up the debt to staggering proportions and trying to funnel the US economy through the federal government is not only against what they stand for, it's a recipe for failure. Look no further than Japan over the last two decades for evidence.

-Mr. Anonymous
February 24, 2010 9:56 AM

Becky Boop said... "Of course the republicans want Obama to fail. Running up the debt to staggering proportions and trying to funnel the US economy through the federal government is not only against what they stand for, it's a recipe for failure."

I would formally like to ask Mr. Anonymous what exactly then, was going on during the Bush years?

February 24, 2010 8:01 PM

Anonymous said... Well, I'm not arguing that a couple of wars (one of which we had no business fighting) didn't help. But pure spending under the current administration and our current debt picture dwarfs the Bush years. And they are just getting started, although the mid-term elections may rain on that parade. Hey, I voted for Obama so shame on me as well. I bought into the hype as many did. I'm regretting it now.

February 24, 2010 10:48 PM

Becky Boop said... Mr. Anonymous - you make me so mad I could spit. I swear! So because Obama hasn't fixed the collossal mess (financial, foreign policy, domestic agenda) bequeathed him by eight years of Bush/Cheney, you now "regret" your vote? I would like to say for the millinioth time that Dubya inherited budget SURPLUSES when he took office in 2000. And I don't think the two wars were the only reason for that change. How about a Medicare prescription drug benefit that no one paid for? What about tax cuts for the wealthy during a time of war? Unheard of! Do you think it's Obama's doing that China owns more of the U.S. than we do? Did he ask our decades broken health care system to be the number one sinkhole of our collective take home pay? I am not dredging up the ghosts of Bush past to do anything more than call attention to your sorry short term memory. And 'Bams should have put all that irresponsible horseshit to rights in a twelvemonth?

Yes, thank God the Republicans are planning to ride to our rescue in 2012. They did a simply superb job the last time they held power. Where do you get your facts Mr. Anon? You accuse me of drinking "Yes, We Can" Koo;-Aid, but I beg you in turn to set down the crack pipe.

February 27, 2010 6:02 PM

Anonymous said... I'm not pissed that Obama hasn't "fixed the collossal mess". I wouldn't expect that in a year. Neither is it all Obama's doing. What I am concerned about is that the proposals set forth will make matters worse. MUCH worse! You cannot spend your way to prosperity. Very simple. I acknowledge the mistakes of the Bush administration. It was a failure. But it's over with. You can't justify actions going forward by saying the past administration was worse. I hold no allegiance to either party. I just call it like I see're either doing a good job or not. I don't vote republican or democrat. I vote right or wrong. I haven't closed the book on Obama yet at all. But I don't like the path he's going down. Your hatred for republicans and love for Obama doesn't allow you to look at things objectively. You're just as guilty of hardline partisan politics as most of the assholes in Washington. Admit it!

-Mr. A
March 1, 2010 4:33 PM

Becky Boop said... We need to rein in spending - no doubt about that at all. In fact I kind of begrudgingly applauded Senator Jim Bunning for taking a stand against passing another bill that wasn't paid for this week, no matter how many Americans need those unemployment checks. But a good deal of the spending going on is in direct response to the mismanagement of the Republican administration of 2001-2009, a bunch of yahoos that brought the economy to the brink and entered us into two wars, one of which was a crock. The same folks who like to yelp about out of control spending also ignore the fact that much of that was required to, quite literally, save America. We are shaky still of course, but it looks like the worst is over. You'll get no argument from me that now is the time to reduce debt. One of the ways to do that is with health care reform - serious, sweeping reform. Another thing the Republicans are against.
I am not as far left on every issue as you think. I am with those who are "doing a good job" too. I just happen, to think that our President is doing a fine job, with grace and I also believe, a genuine concern for the country and the citizens in it, independent of any party affiliations. He inherited a fine mess, and we are better off than we were a year ago, even if things still hurt. He will always have my support.

March 3, 2010 8:39 AM

Thoughts? Comments? You certainly don't have to agree with me. In fact I respect Mr. A for holding his ground. He is a worthy adversary. Call me a nerd, but I quite enjoyed this electronic foray into "The MacLaughlin Group."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dancing with Bitches

I know many of you will be working to hold back your snorts of derision when I claim the following: the last two outings of Dancing with the Stars sucked (the withheld snorts are obviously from those who think every run is crap). Two seasons ago I had to watch Shaun Johnson walk away with Gilles Marini's trophy. Last season there were just too many (lame) contestants.

Like my former American Idol habit, I was ready to quit DWTS cold turkey. My DVR is clogged up quite enough, thank you, and I need to prioritize. I am working on finding a job, coordinating a move, training for a race. I have enough to do without watching another trainwreck like Tom Delay bumble his way to two stress fractures.

But just as I was ready to delete my series recording, the cast list for the coming season was released and boy is it a doozy! Not only do we get the infamous and much maligned reality mom, Kate Gosselin (arguably the most name recognized contestant DWTS has ever hired), but there's also skanktastic 90s icon Pamela Anderson, as well as a special treat for myself and the gay community. Wait for it....Shannen Doherty! Gary, if you are reading this right now, grab a paper bag and breathe slowly.

Last season's competitors were hardly worthy of the "celebrity" title which hung about their necks, Kelly Osbourne and Mya notwithstanding. But now we're talking.

I own it. I will be back. And I pray, I pray hard, that when the inevitable catfight ensues (none of the rumors you have heard about Gosselin, Anderson and Doherty being total slags are false), cameras will be there to capture it.