Thursday, August 28, 2008

All About Expectations

Well, life moves along briskly. Organizing three events simultaneously has been a challenge for me - partly because of the newness factor and partly from the sheer quantity of things to think about. It's been a good challenge though since I have a minor adrenaline beast living inside me at times...and moments like these feed that beast.

Between work and the political theater, it's been a full week. Michelle Obama's impassioned Tuesday address made me wonder what Cindy McCain's going to say next week and will it be any different? I certainly don't want a 2-for-the-price-of-1 President so it makes sense to me that spouses' speeches, if they have to be given at all, stick to more neutral topics.

But in a year when a woman came closer to the Presidency than ever before, it's sad that wives are not only relegated but expected to address topics of hearth and home and standing by their man. To address the spin campaign in place to alienate the Obamas from voters, the yardstick of success for Michelle Obama was in how much she could humanize her family and show that they, too, had lived an authentically American life. Despite any number of opinions about more controversial issues, there was no way she could have given any other kind of speech - even if she'd wanted to.

My objection isn't to how her success was measured. After all, she had a goal and she hit her mark admirably.

My point is that the role of humanizer was always going to fall to her. As smart, talented and remarkable as she might be in her own right, her role was always going to be that of supportive wife. High profile, non-political male spouses are still relatively rare, but you and I both know that no husband would be expected to give a speech like the one Michelle Obama gave on Tuesday night.

Other Democratic Convention thoughts: I liked the fire in Kerry's address. Wish he'd given that speech a few more times four years ago. I'd like to note that CNN compared the two conventions' scheduling strategies to Spinal Tap, i.e. "you got two Clintons? Oh yeah? Well, we got two Bushes." Yup. And then Wolf Blitzer just confessed to lurving The Barenaked Ladies. Me, I always look forward to John King and his maps.

I'm glad I'm in DC this fall. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hair Here

Wrinkle PointI was in Boston and at the Cape last week visiting family. Since I've been swimming semi-regularly at the new pool down the street it wasn't quite as much of a shock to go into the ocean as it normally is. Equally fun was biking around a bit while I was there. It was a fairly uneventful few days that featured a lot of missed connections and doing the hurry-up-and-wait. And since I took my job with me, it wasn't exactly a vacation either, but enjoyable all the same. See photos.

While in Boston, I realized how rarely one sees unnatural colored hair in DC. In addition to spying the usual manic panic shades, I complimented this teenage girl at the airport on the fantastic color of her hair: blue in the back and beautifully shifting to teal in the front. Her mom, seated next to her, smiled. (Cool mom.) Not only that, I ran across a couple of 6 or 7-year-old boys with mohawks. I see plenty of mullets in DC - not worn ironically I think - but otherwise people seem to prefer a more strait-laced look here.

Went to see Dr. Zhivago yesterday but ended up being a half-hour late and seeing Man on Wire instead. Great documentary on Philippe Petit - the man who walked a tightrope between the tops of the two World Trade Center towers in 1974. Go see it.

Plucked out of the Internet ether:
  • The term "modern jackass".

  • Reinventing yourself as a frosh? Check. That's assuming you can find your dorm room though.

  • Freedom.

  • Walmart employees are copyright maximalists, dontcha know?

  • NYTimes cracks on French horns and the people who play them.

  • Still not joining the twittering masses, but interesting points all the same.

  • Jen, yet again, makes me tear up.
  • Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Sporting Rant

    The Summer Olympics have never appealed to me. Has anyone else heard the name "Michael Phelps" enough? Somehow he's even managed to overshadow those anorexic, overworked little girls in leotards that everyone fawns over, ahem, or as they're more commonly known: women gymnasts. I find the medal count crass. And while I don't deny the athletic ability it takes to play beach volleyball - this from someone that used to avoid the volleyball in high school gym class, not like Daria but close - I have a hard time taking a sport seriously if it needs sand and a bikini. All the while, the network strings you along in between as many mentions of Michael Phelps as possible.

    Or maybe I'm just being contrary.

    After all, at what other point in time do you get to see synchronized divers from Mexico on primetime television? There is the argument that the Olympics are a shared experience for a large part of the planet, an unusual occurrence still. The Summer Olympics are also far more accessible to many more countries than the Winter Olympics ever will be - after all, no pickup hockey in Kenya. I even got a little swell of feminist pride the other day when I happened upon women's professional cycling for the first time. Lance who?


    OK, I'm done ranting and praising in somewhat equal parts. I promise to talk about something else in my next post.

    Sunday, August 3, 2008


    I'm nearly done reading Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I'm coming to the conclusion that there's no sustainable, ecologically-healthy way to eat other than growing my own food and living off the industrial agricultural grid. Being vegetarian, even if I wanted to go that route, apparently wouldn't change a whole lot. As educational as it's been to read about how food gets from from field to plate, I'm left wondering: where does that leave the conscientious urban consumer after they've been to the farmer's market?

    Sticking with the theme: Aesop Rock's carefully thought out list of Top Ten Cereals and Retro Kids Cereal Boxes - just check out what they thought your kid self would want. (The post was written, by the by, by the guy who dreamed up one of the ultimate geekfest events, the Buffy Sing-a-Long, which is now in mothballs because of legal issues.)

    I was sad to learn that Cookie Monster no longer says: "Me want cookies!!! Omm, nom, nom, nom!!" Apparently, political correctness and the mommy state (literally) took over and he now says "cookies are a sometimes food." Where o where is the childish glee in that? Trust NPR to notice, but at least the rumor that he'd be turned into a Veggie Monster was a hoax.

    Finally, a bit of food-related wackiness, courtesy of Boing Boing, a whole photo blog dedicated to documenting banana peels on the streets of London. No doubt, some of these bananas, could've used a Banana Guard. God, I love the Internet.