Friday, October 31, 2008

Choose your own adventure!

There are precious few days left until the election, as you might know if, like me, you were in Prospect Park on Sunday afternoon, basking in sunlight and in *not* thinking about the election for a moment, and you got a call on your cell phone from an Obama volunteer. The media is crazier than Ashley Todd these days -- screaming, running in circles, and flapping its hands. This is only right. I have, however, listened carefully to the mad ramblings and separated them out into three discernible narratives for the endgame. Take your pick.

#1) It's Obama in a Blowout. State polls throughout October have shown Obama with a clear lead. Right now, CNN gives him 291 electoral votes, gives him 364 (down from 375 yesterday), and everyone's best friend Nate gives him precisely 364.5. Even right-leaning RCP and nonpartisan Pollster acknowledge that in this case reality has a strong liberal bias. How strong? 311.

This storyline is supported by well-respected, neutral pundits like Charlie Cook as well as the most recent Gallup tracking poll, which decided, for Halloween, to get dressed up as Obama's best numbers ever:
Thursday night's interviews are the first conducted entirely after Obama's widely viewed 30-minute prime-time campaign ad, which ran on several television networks Wednesday evening. ... Obama's favorable position among traditional likely voters in the latest polling is partially reflective of his strong position among all registered voters. However, at other times when Obama has led McCain by 11-points among registered voters, his likely voter advantage has been lower than it is now, in the five- to seven-point range. Thus, Obama's improved likely voter standing also reflects a higher turnout propensity for his supporters than what Gallup has seen at earlier times this month.
Also Obama won some crucial cookie-poll in Ohio.

But if you're wrinkling your nose at that storyline, don't despair. Santa has a storyline in his bag of gifts for you:

#2: McCain is Making a Comeback! True, this tonic is primarily being peddled by the McCain campaign itself and has been gently debunked by experts. Still, anything is possible, as the media in general and John Dickerson specifically reminds us.

Could it be true? Of course! Secret racists, undecideds, complacent Barry-lovers, blacks and young people who don't actually turn up, Jews in Florida getting spooked by Obama's latest suspect affiliation (that man will hang out with anyone!), or some other October surprise could tilt the race back to the GOP. Never count your chickens, chickens.

#3: Death! That's right, somebody DIES. I don't have any fancy links for you on this one, since it's mostly the narrative constantly running through my own head. These effigies don't help, either.

But tonight is halloween and I'm dressed as a mini Joan Holloway -- in an orange retro wig, an animal print scarf, a dress, a pen necklace, a purse, and a cigarette case -- and, in keeping with the character, I'm going to try to focus on the important things at a party tonight: power, sex, and sarcasm. Let's see how I do!

Friday, October 24, 2008

"Hit a Jew Day" Goes Terribly Awry

Middle-school students in Missouri have taken it upon themselves to create "Hit a Jew Day" to brighten the landscape between July 4th and Halloween. Fewer than 10 children were affected, though one was slapped in the face, and another had a cross carved into his cheek. (Just kidding!)

In a first, the ADL declined to overreact, saying only that this was "more than bullying." Hmm. I think we all need an Outrage-O-Meter. I'll try to mock one up, but for now I would say that this registers about a 2.5 out of 10. 5 would be "Shooting an Innocent Bear Cub and Dropping Him on a College Campus, Covered in Obama Signs" and 10 would be "Joe Lieberman."

No doubt this was in response to the news that adorable Israel, sister state of Florida and NY, with all its potential converts to Palin-approved religious cults, is 150% in the tank for Obama. To be fair, though, according to that map, nations everywhere are in the tank -- Change We Can Believe In is the one thing India and Pakistan can agree on! War-torn Sudan is a toss-up. Iraq is bright red, presumably with the spilled blood of innocents. Only little Namibia is as excited about John McCain. Even Georgia is only PINK, like the real Georgia!

!!BREAKING!! Ashley Todd, aka the Barack-O-Lantern, didn't just make up her story of being attacked for being a McCain supporter, she also has self-described "prior mental problems." When she had to pull a description of her assailant out of thin air, here's what she said:
Richard said the woman had described her alleged attacker as an African-American, 6 feet 4 inches tall with a medium build and short dark hair, wearing dark clothing and shiny shoes.
Doesn't that sort of sound like this man?

Perhaps Ms. Todd was subconsciously picturing Obama jumping her since he has been leaving his mark all over Pennsylvania, where she's been living, volunteering for John McCain. Or maybe she's just Ashley the Lying Racist Drama Queen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"everyone dabbled!"

It's been an overcast day in my heart—my hilarious, creative, totally stressball friends, who have been staying with me all week, are winging their way back to pinko Georgia. Farewell! Thanks for leaving me alone with my poll-tracking obsession and DVD 3 of "John Adams" from Netflix, which should come with tissues. Every episode somehow turns me into emotional applesauce. Stick a flag in me: I'm done.

A professional disappointment and rejection or two haven't helped, either. But the Ellen clip above made me smile, and so did this poignant photo collection of Obama in the early days of his campaign.

The subtitle reads: "... he asked me if I was photographing his shoes. When I said yes, he told me that he had already had them resoled once since he entered the race a year earlier." That's especially worth thinking about on a day where the RNC is all over the news for spending $150,000 on wardrobe and makeover for Sarah Palin. Also it reminded me of something Mr. Ben would do and it made me love Barry all the more.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A National Conversation About Race

Tell me again why anyone thinks it would be a good idea to embark on a national conversation about race. The NYT turned over that stone last week and I yelped as though I'd seen a cockamouse. NYMag has done it; Time has done it. And, of course, there's that widely circulating story: a volunteer approaches a house in a swing state and asks the woman at the door for whom she's voting. Her husband answers from within the house, "We're voting for the nigger!" "We're voting for the nigger," she repeats politely.

Today this "conversation," or "horror show," continues. On Sunday, Colin Powell gave a stirring, pointed denouncement of John McCain's campaign and endorsed Barack Obama as a "transformational figure." Democrats high-fived and Republicans signaled the bartender for another round. And then it turned ugly.

The charming cartoonist who depicted our former Secretary of State as a black Benedict Arnold also said the following:
"The only reasonable explanation for such a public political "about-face" in the midst of this important election is that Colin Powell, perhaps understandably, wishes to see someone who looks like himself in the White House.

"It's my opinion that General Powell has based his endorsement of Barack Obama on the color of his skin, not his qualifications, his experience or the content of his character."
Neither is he the only one to jump to that particular conclusion. Rush Limbaugh expressed his disappointment in similar terms:
"Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race. OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with.

"I was also unaware of his dislike for John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. I guess he also regrets Reagan and Bush making him a four-star and secretary of state and appointing his son to head the FCC. Yes, let's hear it for transformational figures."
Wonkette also published highlights from the wingnut response, including the following:
-- I’m not surprised that Powell has endorsed a Chicago street thug over a real American hero either. “How ‘bout some ‘blow’ General? Then we’ll go help ACORN register some more ‘voters’.”
-- This is why you don’t let traitors in your midst. They are capable of doing far more harm than good.
-- Clown Powell showed us his true colors with his endorsement of this communist weasel. He just spit in the face of the military he supposedly cares about.
-- Oh please….he’s black and he is endorsing one of his brothers…just too obvious. It’s not hard for the everyday American to understand.
-- Planet of the APes mentality..”Monkey supports monkey”..
All this despite the fact that Powell contributed the maximum allowable, $2,300, to McCain's campaign last year and only recently came around to Obama.

Colin Powell worked so hard for so long to transcend his skin color and be seen as a person. By and large, he succeeded: if he wanted, he could probably have been our first black president. At the end of an illustrious career, he's been reduced to just another brother. And you know how brothers get treated, especially when they try to vote.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To Distract Us All from the Debate & the Market

What Hipsters Name Their Precious Things

In Prospect Park on Sunday, an adorable little terrier puppy named Zoe kept running over to where my friends and I were sitting and rolling around in our laps and play-biting us and generally giving us acute cases of Cute Overload. Its hipster parents lounged uphill, smoking.

Further away, another pair of hipster parents released their unsteady daughter onto the grass, blowing bubbles at her to encourage her to chase them. In doing so, she toddled over towards us. "Zoe!" I called, just to see what would happen. Surprised, she looked straight at me.

What One Beauty-School Student Said to the Other in the Elevator

"Is our education in waxing going to be theoretical or practical?"

What One Blond Said to the Other in the Deli

"No, lettuce doesn't have carbs. No, I swear."

The Most Amazing Coming-Out Scene on Television Ever

Mad Men, Season 2, episode 11. Also, I will continue to love Don Draper no matter how loose his morals, as long as he keeps slapping around Pete Campbell. (Apparently, I am not alone in this.)

What My Co-Worker Made

It only gets funnier as it goes on.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Guide to Bellwethers

You can't swing a baseball bat in an election year without hitting a bellwether, or so it's beginning to seem. Here is a collection of the bellwethers that people SWEAR will determine the election this November:

1. The state of Missouri. ACCURACY: "Missouri is a traditional bellwether that has picked every presidential contest since 1960" and "all but one election since 1904." ADVANTAGE: Currently: Obama. But everyone knows Missouri is full of white people who are totally unreliable!
[Obama] he will have to overcome latent racism among rural whites, an element more than one expert described as an "unknown quantity" in Missouri particularly because residents have seen so few black candidates run for state or national office.
2. Chillicothe, Ohio. ACCURACY: "No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio ... Inside the bellwether state is the bellwether town of Chillicothe, a town that often mirrors the state's election results." Often? How scientific. ADVANTAGE: Split. Ohio in general is pretty blue these days, though.

3. Hillsborough County, Florida. ACCURACY: Doesn't say. Its claim to be a bellwether may be bullshit. Still, it's Florida, which we know is an important state. Let it stand. ADVANTAGE: Currently Obama.
Obama not only won 49 percent of women voters, to McCain's 43 percent, but he captured a plurality of male voters, beating McCain 45 percent to 39 percent.
Florida's looking pretty good too -- the conservatives are freaking out! and even Gov. Charlie Crist, still pouting about not being tapped for Veep, went to Disney World instead of helping McCain! -- but I don't trust it. FL's biggest import is old white people, and they are even more racist than regular white people.

4. The size of the candidates. Apparently the bigger candidate almost always wins, except when the smaller/lighter candidate is George W. Bush, who is a magical elf. ADVANTAGE: Obama has several inches and about 15 lbs on McCain. But Teddy Roosevelt was shorter than the other guy in 1904 and won, and was heavier than the other guy in 1912 but lost. What a maverick. (BTW: Who knew Roosevelt ran again in '12? I didn't and I majored in American History!)

5. The Scholastic kids election. ACCURACY: "Since 1940, the results of the student vote in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000) have mirrored the outcome of the general election, except twice: in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy." E for Effort, kidlets. ADVANTAGE: Colbert.
Boys favored Obama 49% to 46% for McCain, while girls chose Obama more definitively, 57% to 39%. Rounding out this year's vote, 4% of students voted for other candidates, the highest percentage of write-in votes in the history of the poll. Student write-ins included Senator Hillary Clinton, Congressman Ron Paul, Independent candidate Ralph Nader, and a handful of votes for television personality Stephen Colbert.
ALSO: Obama, who is like Colbert in that he is young and looks good on the teevee.

BONUS FUN: I say the real bellwether is just what folks expect to happen. So what do Republicans think will happen this year?
"A poll of 100 leading Republican political consultants by the conservative National Journal found that 80 believe Mr McCain will lose the election, while the remaining 20 think it could go either way."
Margin of error: +/- 20%.

Three nerve racking weeks to go! Bellwethers are known to be all mavericky so there will be no counting of chickens. Also, did I miss any, also? Feel free to point out your favorite other ways we can tell what's going to happen and so don't need to bother to vote.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hate Hater Hatererers

Speaking of hate, here are some videos to illustrate what an inept and amateurish hater I am compared to the professionals out there.

I call this one "Palin Supporters Heckle 'Commie Faggots.'" Its proper title is "Sidewalk to Nowhere" and its filmed on-site in godly Bethlehem, PA.

Then there's this one from Blogger Interrupted, filmed in a Strongville, OH parking lot outside a Palin rally. The word "terrorist" is thrown around an awful lot. Also the word "bloodlines." These must be the small-town values of which I have heard tell.

ANGRY, the word journalists are using, feels like a euphemism when used to describe this. (And this shit does not help!) Hopefully the Secret Service is paying attention to the threat posed by some of the disgruntled, possibly unhinged people who consider Obama a terrorist socialist who actually has a chance to win.

ETA: Oh! Apparently McCain has heard my knees knocking with fear and has moved to calm the crowds. That's something, anyway.

Day in the Office

Our managing editor heads out the door for a weekend in Boston.

Coworker #1: [sings softly] Don't go to Boston ...

The rest of us: [stare at him]

Coworker #1: Joni Mitchell, bitch!

The rest of us
: [keep staring, start laughing]

Coworker #1: Oh. Heh. It's "Please come to Boston."

Me: Um, the internets are saying it's Dave Loggins: "ARTIST: Dave Loggins; TITLE: Please Come to Boston. Please come to Boston for the springtime ..."

Coworker #1: Right! And then she goes, "I'm stayin' here with some friends ..."

Me: If by "she" you mean Dave Loggins.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Asked & Answered

Q1: Say the Joker abducted Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, and suspended one above a shark tank using dental floss while, in a different warehouse, a slow-motion laser seemed poise to cut the other in half. Which of his professed heroes would John McCain save?

A1: "I think he would save Ronald Regan because Teddy can take care of himself and Regan would spend the entire time trying to remember the name of that diner where he had the really good chocolate chip banana pancakes" -- my brother

Q2: If John McCain and Barack Obama shared a passionate, intimate moment, what would it look like?

A2: Dear lord help us:

Q3: If one candidate leaves a town hall stage after a somnolent debate, is the debate over? What if the other candidate hangs around for the encore? What if every participant suddenly wakes up, smiles, snaps pictures, gets a handshake, chats with the fellow who's still hanging around?

A3: That's a terrific question, my friend. Check this shit out:

Q4: What if Nora Ephron were married to either candidate?

A4: This!
McCain repeats himself way worse than Obama -- "my friends," "earmarks," etc. -- but both of them are guys we've been married to for a long time, and we know their stories. It's true I had no idea that McCain learned everything he knew from a chief petty officer, but that was about the extent of the surprises he had in store for me after all these years together, and in any case, it was clearly bullshit. ... If I were married to him, an unlikely scenario, we would probably have fought in the car on the way home tonight, because I told him a million times not to try to be funny, but he never listens to me.

And if I were married to Obama, another unlikely scenario but a far more attractive one, I would be driving home having a hard time not thinking about the curtains.

Q5: How would we know if ester were getting too emotionally involved in this election? If she teared up on the subway reading New Yorker endorsements and in the park seeing homeless men which brought to mind the Bradley effect? If she were about to head off to Yom Kippur services and all she could think to pray for is a satisfactory resolution on November 4?

A5: Yes, yes, and yes. G'mar hatimah tovah, everyone. Non-Hebrew speakers: that means, GObama!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

True Calling: Not a Hater, a Judge

For the second time since I've been in New York, I attended the Moth, a live storytelling competition that travels from venue to venue (as well as to iTunes!). Last night it took place in the fabulous Union Hall in Park Slope. My friends and I got there early enough to snag seats, and our proximity to the stage and our Liberal Arts College vibes caught the host's attention: she tapped us to serve as one of the three teams of judges who get to rate each story.

When asked to come up with a team name related to the evening's topic of Blood, we were determined to justify her faith in us. So while the other two judging teams offered somewhat predictable ideas, "A Negative" and "True Blood," we went with "First Blush." Applause from the crowd! To which we replied, Enjoy your approval of us now because you will be booing us soon.

Yes, that's right: we, the judging team of First Blush, were booed. Why? Because we have STANDARDS, dammit! We like (a) coherence; (b) things that are funny; (c) surprises. More importantly maybe we weren't drinking, whereas by the end the hipsters packing the house were pretty tilty with wine.

I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that's why they roared at cheap shots at fat and/or androgynous people. First Blush does not stand for that shit, no sir. We will bravely hold up a 7.9 for an utterly conventional, mundane story about you getting your period while wearing borrowed shorts if you, in the telling, direct unreasonable wrath at the massive "he/she" blocking your way to the bathroom. Or your self-hating story about being a chubby kid who eats your brother's birthday cake during the night, including the line "I was fat but crafty," which involves no blood being spilt at all.

We did unite with the crowd most of the time. We gave a great score to the eventual winner, a guy whose tale about getting cheap, painful, and inept plastic surgery in college made everyone wail and cringe in sympathy. The runner up, who talked about the time he almost died after being stabbed by the Latin Kings and then, when he went home to recuperate, was thrown through the windshield of his brother's car, also had us screaming. It's a good scene, overall -- if you're in NY or LA, I definitely recommend going. And be a judge if you can! The power feels awesome and terrible in an Old Testament kind of way.

Monday, October 06, 2008


While reading this Rachel Sklar liveblog of the Colbert New Yorker festival event, I followed her instructions and decided to see if, since Colbert and Stewart just decided to expand their shows through the election, there were any tickets. And this is what happened!
We have reserved 1 tickets for you to attend a live taping of The Colbert Report on 10/14/2008. In a short time you will receive an E-Mail at [redacted] containing information on the next steps required to confirm your attendance. YOU HAVE 48 HOURS TO CLICK ON THE LINK THAT WAS SENT TO YOU IN THE E-MAIL TO CONFIRM YOUR RESERVATION. If you do not confirm your reservation within 48 hours your tickets will be released.
I tried to get tickets for all of you too I swear but there was only one (1) left. Yes, I am one very lucky Rainbow Brite.

Mr. Ben and I hit up two New Yorker festival events this weekend too and they were awesome. And then, cuz we were all dressed up, we dropped in on Equus on Broadway, starring Captain Janeway, Uncle Vernon, and a naked Harry Potter. What a weekend.

Friday, October 03, 2008

because i never blog about fashion

These days, Emma Watson looks much less like a kid and much more like the Dutch au pairs who lived with us when I was little.

(via Go Fug Yourself)

Look, I did it! I made it through an entire blog post without mentioning Our Sarah! ... Oh. Shit.

Speaking of Our Sarah, one of my coworkers approached me this afternoon and said, "You're going to hate me but I actually watched the debates and I liked her! She seemed really great!" In an UNRELATED INCIDENT, another coworker approached me ten minutes later and, when I asked what his girlfriend did, said, "You're going to hate me: She's a model."

"I can't believe everyone thinks I'm a hater!" I said to a third coworker shortly thereafter.

"You do hate a lot," she answered kindly.

Yikes! When did I get this alarming reputation? Let's clear this up. Here is a FULL LIST of the things I hate:

  • One-word footwear (Uggs, Crocs)
  • Dippy, sentimental movies that are a waste of talent and often have offensive subtexts (Love, Actually, Serendipity, 200 Cigarettes)
  • Dictators, except wacky ones straight out of Douglas Adams who force all citizens to read their poetry
  • Mmm injustice? Unfairness? Stuff like that.
And that's it! Seriously! Now am I a My Little Pony or am I not?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"What's six times seven?" "No, stuff she knows!"

For posterity, I wanted to capture this, from FiveThirtyEight, whose name reflects how many times I click over there every day:

Right now, on Oct 2, 2008, it's predicting an Obama victory with 336 electoral votes. This is pre-debate, mind you.

ETA: Post-debate! Palin needs to stop winking at me. It's disturbing. Either she wants to fuck me or she wants to fuck with me -- either way, I don't like it.

Where I grew up, and that's Washington, D.C., and I know that's not Scranton or Wasilla or one of them Real Places with Main Streets, so I figure that means we kill every fourth born child and roast its flesh on the National Mall as we dance around naked, flinging out feces in the direction of the Reflecting Pool and singing about how much we love corruption and hate mavericks, but where I grew up in Washington D.C. ... I forget where I was going with this. Let me start again.

God bless Joe Biden. If Sarah Palin wasn't about to fall down literally foaming at the mouth, and I knew she wasn't, they would never let her go out there unprepared, then he had to really bring it. He had to be knowledgeable but not abstract, intelligent but not arrogant, forceful but not condescending, and he did it, he really did. Honestly, I think he did it by not watching any of those Katie Couric interviews or the fabulous Tina Fey parodies, which enabled him to go into the debate with real respect for Our Sarah.

People are going to be buzzing for a while about how she didn't knock her own eye out or start speaking in tongues or striptease into a Betty Boop outfit. And that's true! She didn't! That's why I wanted to capture this image of the map showing America swooning for Obama, because Palin is going to, I think, deliver a bounce to McCain -- hopefully not the entirety of what he lost over the past couple weeks, but I think she'll help him make back some of that ground.

When that clapping dies down, I hope everyone remembers to say, But Biden did better. and That is the man who is seasoned and capable enough to be Vice President of the United States.