A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Democrats and the Hillicans

A milestone in American history was achieved this week when Barack Obama became the first African American to be nominated for President from a major political party. The great moment came at the Democratic National Convention in Denver after a roll call vote morphed into an acclamation from Obama’s former rival, Senator Hillary Clinton. Aside from the historical significance of this convention, we can also take a civics lesson from these events.

For example, we now know that a roll call vote is a tedious exercise of democracy in which each state proudly proclaims their uniqueness in the union before they declare their support for one of the nominated candidates. Apparently an acclamation is when somebody gets tired of the roll call vote and proclaims that all of the remaining votes should be cast for the nominee in the lead at that point. It’s a nice way of saying, “Look, we can all see where this is going. Let’s get it over with and get the hell out of here so we can PAR-TAY!”

The media speculated endlessly about what Hillary would do at the convention. Would she rally her supporters behind her in a last ditch effort to become the first woman in the White House? Or would she put the interests of the party and the country first, step aside, and wholeheartedly endorse Obama? Nobly, Senator Clinton stepped aside, sensing that any conflict would be counter-productive for the Democrats at this point. She also probably realized that she didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting elected. Her acclamation may have been good for the party, but it greatly reduced the amount of drama that the television commentators could wring out of the convention.

Please don’t get me wrong: I admire Senator Clinton for all the work she has done in public life. Unfortunately, she does not have a warm and fuzzy reputation preceding her. Thanks to the Rush Limbaughs, the Newt Gingriches, and the Jerry Falwells of the world, Mrs. Clinton has seen her chance to become the first female President of the United States utterly destroyed. Simply put, many people hate her guts, and regardless if these feelings are unwarranted or not, it still makes her un-electable. Now the speculation will focus on her supporters: will they fall in line behind her or protest and not support Obama by either staying home or voting for McCain. I don’t know what special cutesy label the media will put on them, but I think I will call them Hillicans. The name derives from the first five letters of Senator Clinton’s first name, while the last three letters come from the end of the name of the political party which will benefit the most from their stubborn refusal to support the Democrats choice.

Once the Democrats finish their business, the Republicans will have their turn on the national media stage. They’ll be meeting in St. Paul, a nice middle of the country destination unaffected by the elitists on the east coast, and the arguably laid back denizens of the west coast. It’s a shame that they didn’t choose New Orleans for their convention. Then delegates of the Republican Party could see first hand the wonderful job that one of their own has done to rebuild this city after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (That last sentence is either drenched in sarcasm and dripping in irony, or drenched in irony and dripping with sarcasm. I can’t make up my mind.) With another hurricane (Gustav) possibly headed for Nawlens by early next week, the Republicans will have a tough time living down the Bush administration's mistakes and convincing the country that they are the ones that can move the country forward.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Laughing Myself to Death

As the summer season draws to a close, I must take a moment to look back at my many wonderful memories of the last few months. Mowing the lawn every two weeks, traveling upstate to help clear out the garage at the old homestead, swimming in my neighbor's pool, and, um...okay so once again I have allowed a summer season to go by without accumulating an exciting memory to take me into the fall. Well, truth be told, there was one interesting event of my summer, and that was when I nearly laughed myself to death in a Rosslyn, Virginia hotel room.

We traveled by train to DC to attend Slapsticon 08, a film festival devoted to the screening of comedies from the silent and early sound eras. This year, the screenings shied away from the likes of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd, and focused on the second tier of notable comedians such as Harry Langdon, Lloyd Hamilton, Larry Semon and Raymond Griffith. I enjoyed myself immensely; I finally got to see a Ham and Bud short (a comedy team and not a lunch special at your corner tavern) and a few Griffith films.

I survived these films, but collapsed from a lack of oxygen one night while watching a more modern comedy: Robot Chicken. This show, featured on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, is a series using stop-motion animation of every toy action figure ever released. It is tasteless and vulgar. It is also wonderfully irreverent and addictive. I cannot stop laughing whenever it is shown, and that is what nearly killed me.

The last gag of this particular episode involved kicking a person, who is prancing around in a very spirited way, in the groin. Then this same person is farted upon. Okay, so this isn’t sophisticated satire here, but I started laughing at this and couldn’t stop. What can I say? It was late and I was in a mood to be easily amused. I felt myself getting lightheaded and heard a roaring in my ears. I can only surmise that this sound was my blood evacuating my brain as if it were rush hour at Union Station.

At this point, Anne Marie saw me clutch my chest and topple off the bed onto the floor. It scared the hell out of her when she poked me and I didn’t respond. Anne Marie later told me that her first thought as I lay on the floor was not, “I should dial 911,” or even, “Where are his nitro pills?” No, instead her first thought was, “Great! How will I get his body back to Philadelphia?” Fortunately, before she could call room service for a bell hop to help her push my body over the balcony railing, I started breathing again. Here she thought to retrieve my nitro pills from our suitcase.

She claims that I was unconscious for nearly ten seconds, although to me it seemed like a fraction of a second between the fall and waking up. When I did recover, it was to the sound of her yelling at me to take a nitro pill. I dutifully did this, even though I wasn’t feeling any chest pains. I sat up, calmed her down, and reassured her that I was all right, save for a rug burn on my forehead. (Yes, I collapsed head first, which in my case would not have been any great loss!) When we had both calmed ourselves, she recounted what happened and then said to me, “You know that joke wasn’t that funny!”

Well, thank you very much! I nearly laugh myself into oblivion and she tells me that the joke at which I was laughing wasn’t worth the trouble! Nothing like kicking a man when he’s down! I risk my health to enjoy a gag and she questions my ability to determine what is and what isn’t funny! Harrumph!

In all seriousness, I am very grateful she was around and responded quickly, regardless of my sense of humor.

Fortunately, I survived the weekend to laugh another day. Although as much as I enjoyed the film festival, I laughed more at Robot Chicken. I shall just have to take this Adult Swim show in smaller doses, and hopefully avoid a premature demise.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Harry and Louise – The Sequel

Two fictional characters, Harry and Louise, were used in a series of television ads during the first Clinton term to showcase the shortcomings of the national health plan proposed by the Clintons. The ads were paid for by HIAA (Health Insurance Association of America), anyone who couldn’t stand the sight of Hillary’s face, and conservatives in general. No, just kidding, it was all HIAA’s baby!

The ads were effective propaganda tools in sinking the health plan in Congress. Well, guess what? They’re baaaaaack! After a fourteen year hiatus, Harry and Louise have been revived to remind this year’s candidates that health care reform is still a serious issue. Let’s eavesdrop on a first reading of their new scripts at the office of the casting director...

Casting Director: “Hey, Harry and Louise! Welcome! Have a seat! Margeaux, get them a coffee and Danish. So, what have you kids been up to since we last saw you?

Harry: “Well, things were fine for a long while. Then, in 2002, my job was outsourced to India. I lost all of my benefits, and I couldn’t afford to pick up COBRA. It was either that or pay the mortgage. So I took a chance that I wouldn’t have any health issues until I found a new job. Well, that backfired! All the stress of not working brought on a heart attack. The doctors told me I needed a triple bypass, but there was no way I could afford it. So they put me on some medications and hoped to keep me going until I could get covered again.”

Casting Director: “Gee, sorry I asked. What about you, Louise?”

Louise: “I’ve been fine, but my son is a different story. He was in a horrible car wreck a few years ago. His insurance paid for his rehab for awhile, but once that ran out we couldn’t afford to have nurses come in to look after him. I had to quit my job to take care of him, which meant that I lost my benefits too. I just pray nothing goes wrong with my health, or we could lose everything!”

Casting Director: “Wow, tough break. I hope everything works out for you. Here, look over these scripts. These are just preliminary drafts, so there will probably be changes before we shoot.”

Harry: “Good! Hey, do you mind if we improvise?”

Casting Director: “Improvise? Um...I guess it couldn’t hurt. Why? What are you thinking?”

Harry: “Well, picture this scene in Harry and Louise’s living room. Harry enters and says, ‘I just got laid off, honey! My benefits run out in a month! I don’t know what we’re going to do. I wish we had a national health plan in place like the Clintons wanted.’”

Casting Director: “Umm...wait a minute...”

Louise: “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Then my character says, ‘Gee, it’s a shame we fell for that argument to follow the status quo. No universal health coverage, no pre-existing conditions, higher copays and deductibles...what were we thinking?’”

Casting Director: “Huh, Louise, that’s way off script.”

Harry: “Yeah, what the hell were we thinking? The conservatives in Congress didn’t even offer a health plan of their own.”

Casting Director: “Hold it, kids! How about you go down the hall and grab a sandwich? I need to make a few phone calls. Thanks...Margeaux! These two aren’t working out this time. Who else can we get for these spots? Wait, I know! See if the Three Stooges are available.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grandpa McCain and the “Dancing Queen”

Presumptive Republican nominee for President Senator John McCain had to defend his taste in music last week when he admitted in a magazine interview that his favorite song was ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.” McCain was confronted about this fact by Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute, who asked him incredulously, “What were you thinking?" I don’t know Mr. Isaacson, but based on this reaction, I can only surmise that perhaps his tastes run towards Air Supply or even Barry Manilow.

I was shocked on several levels at this news. First, I was repulsed by the idea that I might share the same musical tastes as Grandpa McCain. Secondly, I am astounded that of all the things for which McCain could be criticized, he gets called on the carpet for his dubious taste in 1970’s pop music. Issues, people, where are the issues?

I haven’t been to a meeting of “Bad Taste in Music Anonymous,” in a long while, but let me take this opportunity to say that I like ABBA. The music was bouncy and frothy, the lyrics catchy, and the lead singers were — most importantly — drop dead gorgeous. What’s not to love about ABBA?

I must disagree with Grandpa on his favorite song, even though it was their biggest international hit. I don’t like “Dancing Queen” as much as “SOS”, “Mamma Mia”, “Does Your Mother Know,” “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” and “The Winner Takes It All”. I have other favorites, but you get the idea.

The story also put a distressing visual in my head, and please forgive me when I share it with you. I imagined McCain in a polyester leisure suit and clog high heels that most guys wore in the 1970’s, getting down with the likes of Steve Rubell at Studio 54. Shudder! This image alone should rate a 9.5 on our nausea scale; one being mild light-headed dizziness up to 10 for full-fledged technicolor yawn, or bowing to the porcelain god, etc.

McCain and ABBA...who would have thought of such a combination? Actually, this sounds like one of those smoking gun video tapes that political opponents might use against him. I can see the footage now: McCain and ABBA meeting in one of those sleazy motels. The audio would naturally be garbled, but we could make out enough of it to recognize this double-entendre laden exchange:

McCain: “I support offshore DRILLING!”

ABBA: “Ooo, ooo.”

Stop! Stop! I can’t bear to see Frieda and Agnetha sully themselves with this old man. I will leave it for the likes of to find such a tape. In the meantime...can we get back to the issues?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Milli Vanilli Goes to the Olympics

In their quest for a more perfect Olympics, the Chinese government has allegedly resorted to tricks and deception. First, there were reports that fireworks had been digitally inserted into the television broadcast of the opening ceremonies. Apparently there was some concern that the cameras would not capture all of the display's splendor for the world-wide audience tuning in.

Now another controversy has reared its ugly dragon head over the festivities. It seems that at one point in the ceremony a Chinese girl would sing, “Ode to the Motherland”. The original girl chosen was determined to be a good singer, but a Politburo member did not think she was photogenic enough: she has crooked teeth. At the last moment, a “cuter” Chinese girl was placed in front of the camera and lip-synched the song, while the original singer sang from a place off camera, and presumably out of vision range of the live audience.

The media were tipped off to the deception by a radio interview with the ceremony's music director last Sunday. The government has defended their actions by saying it was in the “national interest” to present a flawless performance to the world. The incident has sparked a debate within the Chinese media (and blogosphere) about using innocent children to achieve this deception.

The girl seen on camera, Lia Mianoke, was instantly hailed as a rising star immediately after the performance. Yes, she is certainly cute and perhaps this is the beginning of a long career in modeling for her. The girl who did the actual singing, Yang Pelyi, did not mind the arrangement. She was honored to be part of the opening ceremonies whether she was seen on camera or not.

Yo, little girl, you’ve been seriously dissed! Your government basically told you, “Yes, you have a very nice voice, but you have ugly teeth!” If you were an American, or knew an American lawyer, you could probably sue. My advice: see an orthodontist and charge it to the Politburo. You’ve just survived your first harsh lesson in the adult world. As you grow older, you’ll learn how to use your talent to your advantage. Who may wind up in Hollywood as the next Marni Nixon.

Unfortunately, I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth and it’s not from dim sum. I have to wonder what other things the Chinese government has lied about down through the centuries. For example, is your Great Wall really a wall, or could it be just a 1500 mile long matte painting? Or Mao’s little red book probably was never really red, was it? What about the millions of products shipped to our shores with the stamp “Made in China” on the bottom? Were they really made within your borders, or did you outsource that work to Taiwan?

We’re wise to you now, China! Many of us have seen that disgusting Internet photo essay showing how rats are skinned and prepared to look like roast chicken on the buffet table. I suppose all that sweet and sour pork we’ve eaten over the years wasn’t really pork! I could go on, but suffice to say that your government may have much to answer for once the Olympics are over.

Fortunately, the games themselves are proceeding without incident, but there are a few bizarre things going on outside the arena. For example, one world leader attended the opening ceremonies even while his military was bombing the crap out of Georgia. Not to be outdone, our fearless leader criticized this action, even though he has been bombing the crap out of Iraq for the last five years.

Good luck, Ms. Pelyi and Ms. Mianoke! You will much to learn from us so-called adults!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Baseball Food

Once a year or so, Anne Marie and I get a chance to watch the Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park. It’s always a great experience seeing the teams play live; it’s even better when the home team wins. On this particular night, the game was simply a good experience: our pitcher couldn’t find the strike zone to save his life and the offense demonstrated why many fans feel they’re overpaid. The Phillies only runs in this game came from a home run which the umpire crew later admitted – somewhat sheepishly – should have been ruled a foul ball.

Part of the baseball “experience” is partaking of the stadium food available. There are the traditional hot dogs and caramel popcorn and peanuts that have become part of baseball lore. The concessions at Citizens Bank Park also offer pizza, pork barbecue, cheese steaks, sausage sandwiches, fries, ice cream, soft drinks and, of course, beer. As you may notice, all of these selections fall into the fast food category designed to be consumed at the fan's seat.

The food is very tasty and irresistible, but I still have two complaints about baseball food. One, very little baseball food is heart healthy, and secondly, there’s not enough of it. When I say that there isn’t enough of it, I’m not referring to the serving size. What I do object to is the lack of food concessions on the second level where our seats were located.

Let’s take one point at a time. Most of the food offerings are either deep fried, greasy, and/or served with high calorie condiments (example – nachos and cheese). I did see a sign advertising that trans fats were not used to fry the potatoes. Okay, Phillies, you get five points for no trans fats, but otherwise I didn’t observe any other healthy food served at the ballpark. The open air salad and fruit bar never caught on for reasons which I’ll never understand.

I’ve already talked about the Schmidter in a previous blog. This is a colossal tribute to clogged arteries everywhere that is named after one of the most famous sluggers the Phillies ever had. Once again it is very tasty, but there’s no denying its high caloric content.

My main problem this year was the location of the concession stands in relation to my seat on the second level. At Citizens Bank Park, the majority of the second level is set aside for those patrons in the private suites who can patronize any number of cafes in air-conditioned comfort. This is fine since they pay an extra fee for this privacy.

Unfortunately, it only leaves room for ONE concession stand for the rest of us poor schlubs who are not lucky enough to work for a company that can afford a luxury suite at the ball park. This stand only sells hot dogs (with Starbucks style prices), chicken fingers, fries, drinks, and ice cream. Sausage sandwich? Go upstairs! Pizza, cheese steaks, and everything else — go back downstairs to the main concourse and hope to God you don’t suffer a coronary during your sojourn. That would be truly ironic! Suffer a heart attack while walking your cholesterol-drenched food back to your seat, and you don’t even live long enough to enjoy it.

I can hear the responses already: “No one is forcing you to eat it,” or “Why don’t you bring your own food from home?” True, I’m not being forced to eat their literally heart-stopping menu. However, regardless of how fattening their food is, it is still a vital part of the major league baseball stadium experience. I want to milk every moment of the game for what its worth.

So we shall eat their food, watch their game and, perhaps, survive to eat and watch another day. Besides, you try sneaking an entire salad bar inside your see-through tote bag into the stadium. Trust me, it doesn’t work.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Paris Hilton – Leader of the Free World

Recently, I noted that the John McCain campaign was running a television spot comparing Barack Obama’s popularity to pop culture icon Britney Spears. The ads, arguing that Obama may be popular while questioning his ability to lead, kicked up a lot of controversy and backlash against McCain. Critics rightly derided the ads as not having anything to do with the issues. Despite this minor objection, the McCain campaign is continuing to run the ads.

I forgot to mention that the image of another pop diva, Paris Hilton, was also used in the spot. Hilton is certainly glamorous, but at the moment I can’t think of anything she does to contribute to society. Cosmetics? Fashions? I can’t explain her notoriety other than to say she exists, therefore she is popular.

Anyway, Paris is not taking McCain’s use of her image lying down. She has produced her own video on the Internet with the help of a few comedy writers. In the video, Paris thanks McCain for his “endorsement”, and while she has our undivided attention, she offers her solution to the gasoline crisis.

Hilton suggests an answer that lies between McCain’s support for more offshore drilling and nuclear power and Obama’s no offshore drilling with development of alternate energy sources. Her solution: limited offshore drilling with strict environmental oversight (!) and economic incentives to develop other fuel sources. This is known as a compromise, which was quite common in Washington years ago, but is hardly ever practiced today.

Now I’m scared, because her solution sounds more viable than those offered by the actual candidates. Have we had such a dearth of leadership in this country in recent years that an idea offered by a young woman with no political experience or ambitions is worth serious consideration? The answer to this question is, obviously, yes!

Her ideas are not flawless. Who should watch the oil industry for environmental violations? The EPA – the government agency that has been wearing rose-tinted glasses for the last seven years? Or does she suggest that the industry police itself, just like the food packing industry watched out for tainted beef and tomatoes? Please, don’t make me laugh myself to near death...again!

Hilton’s Internet answer was intended as a joke...I think. John McCain now insists that his original ad was also meant to be a joke. Ha, ha, funny man! A word of advice for you, grandpa: go back to legislating and leave satire to the those cover artists for The New Yorker magazine.

(Britney Spears did not approve this message!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Britney Spears – Leader of the Free World!

New poll numbers today suggest that Barack Obama has lost some of his lead over John McCain. Polls last week placed Obama with a nine point lead over McCain in their race for the White House. This week the candidates are even.

Here is what the polls show:

Barack Obama favored by 44%.
John McCain favored by 44%.
Britney Spears favored by 53%.

Okay, I’m having mu doubts about the entire polling industry now. I’m a firm believer in the tradition of all percentages adding up to a total of 100%, so imagine my surprise at these results. Then I read that the margin of error for this survey was 53%. Well, that explains everything...

So how did Ms. Spears get into the Presidential race? Apparently it was all John McCain’s idea. His campaign ran a series of ads last week suggesting that, even though Obama was just as popular as the pop songstress, this did not qualify him to be the leader of the free world. Some in the media have suggested that these ads are responsible for Obama’s decline in popularity.

Score one for the McCain camp, but what happened to the issues, grandpa?

Now that Britney has been dragged into this, we should probably evaluate her qualifications for the White House. Where does she stand on the issues? Well, my fellow Americans, we don’t have to been concerned about her qualifications or her stance because she is NOT RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

I only mention this minor detail in passing because I know many of us are so busy with our day-to-day lives that we depend on ten second sound bites to get all of our information. I would hate to see any one of us get confused about who is running for the White House just because the presumptive Republican nominee threw her name into the mix. Although McCain might want to consider Britney as a running mate, and thereby dilute the “age issue”...just a thought.

I realize that many of us don’t have time to explore the candidates proposed policies, which is why many of us will depend on the Gallup/Harris/Quinnipiac organizations to tell us for whom to vote in November. Come on, admit it: many of us won’t make up our minds until the weekend before the election and see who the polls predict to win. Then we’ll vote for that person regardless of where they stand. Yo, America, this is not the way we should be choosing our leaders!

Actually, a Spears candidacy for leader of the free world doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Compare the stubborn, arrogant cluelessness of the George W. Bush team with the vapidity of a possible Britney Spears administration. See, there’s no difference at all!

By the way, Britney Spears is not running for President; we can’t emphasize this point too much.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Short Notes – August 2008


The day after I wrote about the loopy tactic of giving one man credit/blame for any accomplishment that is really the work of many people, Senator John McCain gave President Bush total credit for the recent downturn in oil prices. McCain asserted Bush’s mere act of lifting the executive order banning off shore oil drilling was enough to scare the market forces. Never mind that it really takes an act of Congress to lift the ban and that no one is rushing to build any platforms just yet.

Okay, if this is the way Grandpa wants to play it, then far be it from me to disrespect the wishes of my elders. We shall abide by his work and apply it to his own history by blaming him for losing Vietnam. How could you let that national trauma happen, Mr. McCain? I’ve heard your stories about being a prisoner of war and blah, blah, blah. That’s no excuse! If we are to assign blame for every catastrophe/triumph to just one man, than we can condemn you for single-handedly losing the war in Vietnam. Meanwhile...


The 2008 presidential campaign is heating up on the nation’s airwaves, and McCain’s ads are reviving the old conservative chestnuts of blaming liberals for higher taxes. Why can’t he come up with something original? McCain also claims that he will not raise taxes, which given the record deficit (thank you again, George W.) is something no one can promise. In this regard, Grandpa is either lying or delusional. I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but I’ve seen enough delusional leadership in the last seven years to last me a lifetime.

Another McCain commercial compares Obama’s popularity with the voters to the popularity of Britney Spears. The commercials concede that yes, he’s popular, but can he be a leader? Well, the Germans like him...oh, right, even though they turned out 200,000 strong with enthusiasm, the Germans can’t vote for Obama because they are, well, you know, Germans! Damn voter registration laws!

Honestly, I think someone is jealous of all the attention Obama is getting. Yo, McCain, you’re running for President of the United States, not prom queen! If that is the case then I’ll gladly vote for Britney.

Obama’s ads also come up a bit short. The Obama campaign is responding to McCain’s ads with quotes that the Republican campaign is “lying” and “misrepresenting” Obama’s message. Ooh, yeah, I’ll bet McCain is running scared now!


The Bennigan's/Steak and Ale restaurant chain filed for bankruptcy with intent to liquidate all of its assets this week. The chain, which featured an Irish slanted menu, closed its doors in the middle of the week. I enjoyed some good meals at these restaurants over the years; my favorite was their Monte Cristo sandwich. This was a ham and cheese between two slices of French bread that was then deep fried and served with a small dollop of raspberry jam. My taste buds will miss this treat, even though my arteries won’t.