Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
Some random thoughts this Christmas, 2010:
1. Apparently Santa Claus is already done delivering presents in Asia, and is over Prague -- check NORAD's streaming Santa tracker. He's only spending two minutes in Prague before he hits Lublin, Poland. I'm hoping the New START Treaty does not impair NORAD's ability to monitor Santa. I can't imagine it would have passed if it compromised our utilization of critical Santa-tracking technology.  [Read more]
I know there's a lot going on with DADT, Wikileaks, and also the Bush tax cuts, which were thought to be dead and are now undead. Speaking of the undead, I wanted to raise some logistical issues that have been on my mind concerning zombies. If you've been watching AMC's The Walking Dead, you may share some of these concerns. [Read more]
I like Alaska a lot. This is my fourth trip up, and I remember each of them, and their details, very well. How the bald eagles looked circling the rocky beach at Homer in the dusky 12:30 in the morning light. The moose that staggered out into the road in Kenai and just stood there. Suicide moose. The purple flowers in the waist-high grass in the cliffside Russian cemetery, at Ninilchik. What I like about Alaska, though, is the sense of place Alaskans give it. The way they create the concept of Alaska by living there, and cherishing the place. This piece is a brief tour of place, written in the middle of the night in the sky with the moon off the wing. [Read more]
If one reads blogs, and I'm sure none of you do, one of the biggest takeaways from the Great Election of 2010 is that Blue Dogs have improved the Democratic Party by losing en masse, because the Dogs are the enemies of building a better and more liberal (sorry, not going to use the increasingly meaningless "progressive", which has morphed into a sloppy tautology for whatever the speaker likes) Democratic Party. I don't find that to be defensible. This piece explains why. It is mostly a defense of the Dogs, although at the end, I take on the equally incorrect idea that the Democratic Party should respond to last week's election by elevating the importance of Blue Dogs, so it can, you know, come  [Read more]
Boarding my plane from LAX to Phoenix, noted that I would be flying on a plane with celebrity rapper Snoop Dogg. Am assuming the handful of screams were for him, and not the occasional blogger on the plane. Which brings us to our final Senate picks, the Snoop Dogg Edition, in which Democrats try to buck a chronic trend -- how the Senate changes parties every time the House does.  [Read more]
If you haven't been to Hoover Dam, you should go. If you made up a definitive outdoor museum of American history in your head and stocked it right, the Dam would be toward the front, right after you walked in. It's quintessentially American, both vitally important to how the western United States became what they are, and a symbol of what America has been since the New Deal. This month, Arizona and Nevada dedicated a massive, gorgeous bypass bridge one thousand feet over the Colorado River, adding nicely to the Dam's story, providing a postscript so 2010, just as the dam is so 1935. If you haven't been to the Dam, or haven't given it much [Read more]
There is an imperative to compare America's eight years of active combat in Vietnam -- a defining national experience not only militarily, but politically and culturally -- with its current involvement in Afghanistan, now escalating and in its tenth year. The fight against the threat of terrorism within the territorial United States has supplanted the Cold War struggle against Communism has in the American imagination. Now as in the Sixties, a Democratic administration deploys large numbers of American troops in Asia to combat the perceived threat and to keep it at bay, at a great human and financial cost. We ask why, whether it's worth it, whether we learned anything from our last such venture, and whether our current policy reflects the hard learning of Vietnam. [Read more]
Bob Woodward is the Thomas Pynchon of political reporting. Woodward was doing in Dick Nixon early in his career, while Pynchon's early career zenith was Gravity's Rainbow. Both men are paid handsomely for more eagerly awaited work that generally falls short of the genius of their youth. Obama's Wars, even for those like myself who disliked the Bush at War series and view Later-Career Woodward as a stenographer to the powerful, is an important book. [Read more]
Of West Virginia's lush green mountains, John Denver sang, life is old there, older than the trees. And so is the Democratic sway over this state. But all things pass, including trees, mountaintops that get strip-mined, and Democratic hegemony over this state, which now is functionally Kentucky with fewer minorities. This hit home today with polls showing Governor Joe Manchin falling behind Republican John Raese in the race to succeed Senator Byrd. While I picked Manchin, I was wrong. Here's why, and what it means to Democrats going forward.
As he heads to the Basketball Hall of Fame this week, those of us who watched his career closely know that Michael Jordan doesn't belong there, with George Mikan, Lute Olson, and a host of other excellent players and coaches. He is somehow bigger than Halls of Fame, bigger than comparison, bigger than the whole business of having peers. Michael Jordan is simply the greatest athlete of all time. Why? Lots of reasons. [Read more]
I had kidney cancer. Eight months after it was located, three months after doctors correctly diagnosed and explained it to me, and after 102 mostly really grueling and sometimes frightening hours in the hospital, I don't have kidney cancer. And that makes all the difference. I am finally at home and resting comfortably after four-plus days at a nearby medical facility. I am thrilled because I am done with the ordeal of the surgery and grateful for the support of those who love me.
I had kidney cancer. Eight months after it was located, three months after doctors correctly diagnosed and explained it to me, and after 102 mostly really grueling and sometimes frightening hours in the hospital, I don't have kidney cancer. And that makes all the difference. I am finally at home and resting comfortably after four-plus days at a nearby medical facility. I am thrilled because I am done with the ordeal of the surgery and grateful for the support of those who love me. [Read more]
The saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Or Rod Stewart says that every picture tells a story. Well, now it can be told: This Orlando Motel is located on old Route 66 in northern Arizona, on the segment that runs north of Interstate 40 between Seligman and Kingman. I'm doing a photo project about old Route 66, and while driving this segment a few weeks ago, saw this particular ruin while driving out of a small town. I couldn't pass up the chance to take this seedy motel (even seedy kind of understates it) and send the result to O, which I have since done. [Read more]
This website is about Important Things. About Discussions That Matter. About the Debates That Move People. If persistence of a discussion is any marker of its broader significance then, my friends, there is little more important than a considered analysis of Which Star Trek Is Best (and which Captain, and which villain, and so forth). Because I am all about the Big Issues, I am here to explain it all for you. Short answer at the end; you have to wade through the Weighty Analysis to get there. [Read more]
This is an opinion site, so I have to use this forum to share a point that burns within me, and the reasons why I think it. You see, upon careful, studied reflection, and after close consideration of this important issue, I have concluded to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that Orlando is better than Genghis. There are many reasons this is true, and as usual, I am pleased to share them with you. [Read more]
Welcome to my Top 100 films of all time. I have not included stalwarts of such lists like Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, or, most heretical of all omissions, Citizen Kane. My favorite directors? Kieslowski, Ferrara, Scorsese, Peckinpah, Eastwood, Penn, the Lee brothers (Spike and Ang), and Kubrick are all over my list. As to subjects, lots of vampirism, Westerns, absurdism, antiheroes, and a bit of romance. What are your top ten flicks of all time? For mine, simply read on... [Read more]
Fifty years ago, a New York-based American icon came clean about his history of cheating on the national stage. Columbia University Professor Charles Van Doren choked up and admitted to the U.S. Congress that he had participated in a rigged quiz show, that he really wasn't the infallible genius our nation and our youth mistook him to be. This week, another New York-based American icon, home run king Alex Rodriguez, came clean about his use of steroids during the 2001-03 baseball seasons. Both confessions are eerily similar. I hope -- but doubt -- that our reactions to them will be eerily similar. [Read more]
I was lucky to stand (with family) in the Silver Section today and to witness Barack Obama's inauguration. I held my four year old aloft during Barack's oath, telling him before and after to remember it, and kissing him and telling him I loved him. It was that kind of moment. A dad trying to impress a moment on his son. Some fascinating things I saw today, and some thoughts:
Overture (the Mechanics)  [Read more]
The National Mall has morphed into Obamafest, the greatest assemblage of human beings, portable toilets, and political history ever organized. The densities on the Mall on Saturday and even Sunday have nothing to do with today. The Mall is thickening with people by the hour. The fact that more humans are entering the District tonight is amazing, given how many are here now. Yesterday before the concert was that day before the hurricane when the sky is blue. Well, it's not blue anymore, and the winds are 60 miles an hour. There is no way to know what it will be like when the force of Hurricane Obama hits the Mall tomorrow, but it will be amazing, I know this. [Read more]
I don't know if you ever saw the Kevin Smith film Mallrats, a sequel of sort to Clerks, but today I was one of the Inaugural Mallrats, the horde of camera-toting lunks ranging up and down the National Mall. And boy, it felt good. Started the day with a cab to the House of Representatives office building in which I was to pick up swearing-in tickets. I had been hoping against hope that they would not be in the Silver Section, which is past the reflecting pool facing the Capitol. Office staff told me: your tickets are in the Silver Section. Still felt very lucky.
I don't know if you ever saw the Kevin Smith film Mallrats, a sequel of sort to Clerks, but today I was one of the Inaugural Mallrats, the horde of camera-toting lunks ranging up and down the National Mall. And boy, it felt good. Started the day with a cab to the House of Representatives office building in which I was to pick up swearing-in tickets. I had been hoping against hope that they would not be in the Silver Section, which is past the reflecting pool facing the Capitol. Office staff told me: your tickets are in the Silver Section. Still felt very lucky. [Read more]
On Sunday, the last Chicago Cardinals fan is going to see something he's waited sixty years to see -- a Cardinals game that matters. He grew up in Peoria, Illinois, and was ten years old in 1948 when the Cardinals won an NFL championship as he listened on the family radio. This hooked him. He followed the Cards until Bears owner George Halas chased them from the Chicago market, followed them through lean years in St.
On Sunday, the last Chicago Cardinals fan is going to see something he's waited sixty years to see -- a Cardinals game that matters. He grew up in Peoria, Illinois, and was ten years old in 1948 when the Cardinals won an NFL championship as he listened on the family radio. This hooked him. He followed the Cards until Bears owner George Halas chased them from the Chicago market, followed them through lean years in St. [Read more]