Friday, September 26, 2008

Gee, Ma, I wanta go . . .

but they won't let me go . . . home.

So it's Friday afternoon, and I'm sitting in the Crown Room at LAX. That would be in Los Angeles (if you haven't been memorizing your airport nicknames). You'll remember that I live in Georgia. This is a sad thing.

This is the end of week two of a four-week string of UGLY travel.
  • last week, Chicago, Philly and Rochester
  • this week, Indianapolis, Sacramento and LA
  • next week, Chicago and Dallas
  • the following week: LA, New York City, and Chicago

That may sound cool and glamorous to those of you who rarely leave the city limits, but trust me when I tell you that it gets old really fast. The good news is that I'm racking up the frequent flier miles and free hotel nights. Blockus is REALLY ready for a family trip.

I just want to go home. And stay there for a while.

note to Tim: I didn't have time to try to get together while I was in Sacramento this week. I was only there for an afternoon and was with my boss most of that time. Hopefully I can get back soon and finally meet you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back to normal. . .

Many of you may have had a lot on your minds lately. Hurricane damage; failing banks and insurance conglomorates; a big Presidential election looming.
Fear not. All is well. It must be. This morning, the Today Show was able to dedicate mucho valuable air-time to an "exclusive" interview with Britney Spears' mom.

It's good to know that we're getting back to the important stuff.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Feeling gassy?

No, not that kind! I mean gas as in fuel for your auto.

If you live around here, I hope not. Blockus just called to let me know that the two gas stations closest to us are completely out of gas, and that stations in the nearest town are charging $4.50+ per gallon if they have gas at all.


(boy, I'm glad we filled up on our way home last night for the bargain price of $2.49 per gallon!!)

Hurricane Ike is making himself known even before he makes landfall.

To all of you Texas gulf-coasters out there, be safe. Our prayers are with you. And re-open those refineries as soon as you can!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I promise it's not my fault . . .

but the limericks just keep coming.

We all know that I'm totally in the tank for Sarah Palin. If only the guys on MSNBC would admit that they're just as deep in it for Obama. Oh, that's right, they got "reassigned". Never mind.

Anyway, here is your daily limerick. (don't expect me to keep this up) hat tip to Rich Lowry at The Corner.

There once was a gal from Wasilla
Who knew how to spice plain vanilla
With her pearls and her pumps
She laid down some bumps
Thus turning a 'cakewalk' into a Thrilla.

This has been your "daily" limerick. Don't let anyone fool you into believing that this isn't a cultured blog. Susan Wise Bauer would be so proud!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Your daily limerick . . .

There once was a poet named Todd
Whose meter was seriously flawed.
His limericks would tend
To come to an end

This has been your daily limerick.
Hee hee.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A brief cultural moment . . .

You know those times when you pull into the driveway but have to wait in the car for a particular song to end? (OK, sometimes it's because you're waiting for the end of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on PBS or the end of Rush's opening-hour monologue). Anyway, we had one of those moments tonight.

You just can't turn off the car in the middle of Archibald Asparagus singing "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General".

Try it.

I double-dog dare you.

Can't be done.

Veggie Tales does Gilbert and Sullivan. Now THAT'S entertainment!

By the way, Tim, I thought of you!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Art of the Campaign Speech . . .

Backstory: I was a Political Science major in college. ("why try, go poli-sci!"). I chose that major simply because I had always loved politics. I have a vivid memory of coming from school in 1976 (3rd grade, maybe?) to ask my Dad if President Ford had been re-elected. Fast forward to the summer before my senior year in high school (the 1984 election). I was a student in the "Governor's Honors Program" here in Georgia, a 6-week residential program for "gifted" students held every summer. While I was there as a music major, my love for politics had not abated. It had only been supplemented by an additional appreciation for the skill of public speaking and communication. For two of those six weeks, I remember huddling around the TV in the dorm common-room watching the political conventions. Remember, this was back in the days of only the three major networks (and an infant CNN). And, it was the days when the networks actually SHOWED the whole convention on TV, not just the last two speeches of the night (but don't get me started on that!).

I still remember Jesse Jackson's speech at the DNC that summer. He spoke eloquently about the various groups that made up the voting block of the Democratic Party at that time, likening them to the patches of a quilt sewn by his grandmother. He described how, standing alone, those individual groups were powerless to accomplish anything great; in fact, "their patch was too small". But, he went on, sewn together, those patches could create a quilt of great beauty, value and function. What powerful imagery. (Now that I think about it, the Democratic Party has been striving for party unity for quite a while now, hasn't it?). That same year Mario Cuomo made his debut on the national stage. I remember looking at a buddy and saying "that man can speak! I don't agree with anything he's saying, but boy he sure says it well". (or something like that; give me a break, it was 24 years ago!).

Of course, a few weeks later we were cheering on the Republicans as they prepared to return President Reagan for four more years. I remember Mrs. Reagan standing on stage after her speech, turning to look at the huge screen behind her to see a smiling President Reagan waving to her from his hotel suite.

I wander down this path to make a few points ("then make them, why don't you?").
  1. A great speech is more than the sum of it's parts. It isn't just a nice organization of verbs, nouns and adjectives; most well-crafted speeches are poorly delivered and thus have a pretty short shelf-life. Similarly, a mundane, trite speech composed largely of sound-bites and cliche's, regardless of how eloquently it is delivered, remains a mundane, trite speech. But, when those two moons align, greatness can occur. More on that later.
  2. Imagery is important. Whether in a political speech, a sermon, or a pep-talk to your shareholders, a great text well-delivered only gets you part of the way. The setting, the images, the context all can have a multiplying effect. For every one speech I remember, there are probably hundreds of vivid mental images and memories that I have where I don't remember a single word.
All of this, of course, is written in the context of last night's speech by Governor Palin. Only time will truly tell, but I would hazard a guess that this speech will be one that will be remembered for a very, very long time.

It was well written, with wit, grace, and strength. There were too many quotable lines to include them all here, but here are a few of my favorites:

"Since some of our opponents seem to look down on that [mayoral]
experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town
mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual

"To seek the presidency is not to be a journey of personal

"Some use change to promote their careers, while others use their careers
to promote change."

It was masterfully delivered. For someone who has never spoken in such a forum, and who has likely not used a teleprompter more than a hand-full of times, she looked comfortable, in command, and powerful. In fact, she looked like she was having fun!

The images were powerful. While these were not in her control, the scenes we saw on the TV screen during the speech provided powerful mental hooks upon which to hang her speech in our minds. Her soldier son, preparing to go to war. Her oldest daughter, being welcomed and cheered by a loving crowd for a few extra seconds longer, as if to say "we know what you've been through this week; we love you". Her youngest daughter, licking her palm to smooth Trig's hair down. Her husband, still "her guy", smiling proudly at his wife as she stood before the entire country. Those images will remain seered in our collective conscience for a very long time.

Last night was the whole package. I hope you were there to experience it. If not, go find a copy somewhere on the web and watch it now. I may watch it again anyway, just for fun.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hockey Mom's and Pit Bull's . . .

From Mark Hemingway over at the Corner.

McCain aides whose judgment I trust are impressed by Sarah Palin. One was
particularly amused by this exchange: A nervous young McCain staffer took it
upon himself to explain to Palin the facts of life in a national campaign, the
intense scrutiny she'd be under from the media, the viciousness of the assault
that she'd be facing, etc.:

Palin: "Thanks for the warning. By the way, do you know what they say the
difference is between a hockey mom and a Pit Bull?"

McCain aide: "No, Governor."

Palin: "A hockey mom wears lipstick."

I'm working on a post about McCain's VP selection (hint, LOVE IT); will try to get it posted before the convention is over.