Saturday, November 29, 2008

video

squeek goes home!

From squeek


Our little kitten has found a permanent home with a KU grad student named Patrick!

It's bittersweet, of course. It's always nice to have a kitten around. But the little fella will be a lot happier with a young voracious reader than in this brutal jungle we have here.

Friday, November 28, 2008


By the time dinner rolled around, I was too hungry to photodocument. So there are no photos of the beautiful, delicious food. Except of the pie.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

writing

I've been writing again. Real writing, the kind that's miserable. It's been awhile.

This will no doubt change, but for now the routine goes like this:

I get up and feed the dogs, wash the dishes, shower, make breakfast and coffee and then surf the Internet for what seems like hours as I sip coffee and eat, all the while feeling more and more lousy because I'm not writing but, at the same time, being absolutely, 100 percent averse to writing, as if it were the most wretched medicine on earth, and I have to drink a pint of it.

Finally, I set an egg timer for 20 minutes and stare at my screen while the seconds tick away. Five minutes later, after several false starts, I have a somewhat acceptable clause. Three minutes later it's sentence. Twelve minutes in I have two sentences down. And with five minutes to go in my alloted 20, I'm typing furiously. The timer goes off, but I have to keep going, to at least finish the paragraph. Once that's done, I usually have enough ideas and energy to keep going for another half paragraph, at which point I either run out of steam or a gasket pops in my brain, causing me to abruptly stop.

If I'm lucky, I can then go through the same process at least once before lunch, complete with net surfing and guilt-ridden procrastination. And if I'm super, super lucky, I can go it again after lunch. But some days that's all I get -- a paragraph and a half. 

The actual writing isn't miserable. Those 2o to 40 minutes when the words are flowing is actually quite wonderful. It's all the rest of the time that totally sucks. I once heard Joyce Carol Oates describe it as like having a vice clamped on your head all the time. You get some relief when you're writing, and quite a bit more when you finish writing something. And the relief, compared to the pain, is so great that it feels like an exquisite high, even though it's just normal life with out a vice crushing your skull. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

squeek scare

Last night, Allie went downstairs to check in on Squeek. A second later she came running up the stairs. "Squeek's just laying in his crate, not moving, I don't know what's wrong."

I followed her down into the basement, reached in and fished him out. He meowed.

"Oh good," Allie said. "He's OK."

"No he's not," I said, noticing something wrong. I tried to set him on the floor and he crumpled down, unable to use his legs.

We went into a panic. What to do. Get the crate! Get the keys! Get your wallet! Go! Go! Go!!

We raced over to the neighborhood pet clinic. They were just closing but they let us in.

The vet examined him on one of those tall metal tables. He said he thought maybe Squeek had fallen and broken his neck or damaged his brain. I started seething with guilt and shame. I was the one who had set up his enclosure. I saw him trying to jump out and escape. I hadn't done anything about it. And how long had he been lying down there like that? My God, what have I done.

The vet took Squeek's temperature but he was so cold he didn't register anything on the thermometer. 

"That's not good," he said. "I don't think he's going to make it."

My breath caught. I started pacing. The vet told us to take him to an emergency clinic, 15 or so miles away in Lee's Summit. We tore out onto the highway, and promptly got stuck in a traffic jam. Squeek stopped meowing. "Touch him to see if he's OK," I said to Allie.

"I can't," she said.

So drove all the way there both certain that he had died right there in our car and that it was both of our faults.

But when I picked him up to take him into the clinic he let out a wail. Allie felt instantly relieved. I was still freaking out. The nurse took him into the back room and left us with a form to fill out. And then we waited. And waited. And they took us into another room and we waited and waited some more. Finally, when the nurse came in I barked, "Can't you tell us what's going on!"

Allie scolded me, but My God! Were they trying to torture us?! This little, tiny, adorable creature is dying and it's all our fault and they're acting like we're just waiting for an insurance quote or something!

Finally the doctor came in and she was real sweet and nice. She said Squeek was low on sugar and red blood cells and badly dehydrated. He had fleas and most likely worms and they were depriving him of nutrients. He's just so teensy he couldn't take it anymore and he just shut down.

She went back to work on him some more. When she came back, she said he was up and moving. 

"Is he going to make it?" I asked, and she gave one of those long, noncommittal medical answers. Finally, Allie asked, "If you were going to give a percentage, what would it be?"

"I'd say 80 percent."

Instant relief. 

Looked like he was going to live. And it wasn't our fault. 

Right before we were ready to go home, and leave him there for a night of intensive care, the vet brought him in for us to see. I snapped a couple of pictures.

From kansas city soil


From kansas city soil
So we went home feeling pretty good things would be alright. About 10 o'clock, the vet called to tell us he was doing great. Acting like a regular kitten.

This morning, we went to pick him up. He was looking good.
We took him to his regular vet, where he's been all day. In a little bit, we'll go pick him up. He'll be under our care for the weekend, and hopefully until he find him a good home. 

Whew! What a night!

national news

The much-anticipated Wall Street Journal article about my former boss and his wife came out today. I'll refrain from editorial comment here, except to say, for the record, that the poodle video and "We want the Funk!" commercial were my ideas. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

john mcenroe

It's that time again. Time to lavish praise on my old buddy John McEnroe has completed another major public art piece in Denver: National Velvet.

It towers above the highway near Downtown and it glows at night!

I talked with John briefly the other day. He was on his way to the dedication ceremony, at which Mayor Hickenlooper made an appearance, and he said the piece had raised some controversy. Apparently some folks on a website out there were bitching about it, and he dared them to fight to have the thing removed. "Which would be the best possible thing that could happen," he told me. (Took me a second to figure out why, but then I realized, yeah, that would be pretty awesome for John.)

I couldn't find the online complaints. But I did find an item from Westword, in which they rename the sculpture "Saggy-Boob Electric Penis." And a video interview with John, in which he's being his usual smart-ass self, albeit in a very gentle-voiced, friendly way. When the reporter asks him about the name, he says that "Velvet" connotes tactile pleasure and "National speaks for itself."

Um. Not when it refers to a giant pile of red blobs, it doesn't.

But that's part of what makes John great, that smart-assed-ness.

Here's an online portfolio of his work.

the awful truth

Allie and I watched The Awful Truth last night. Wonderful movie.

It's about this perfect couple that gets suspicious of one another and hastily files for divorce. The break up begins to fall apart over the issue of who keeps the dog, Mr. Smith, or Smitty, who delivers an Oscar-worthy performance.

Needless to say, it was the perfect movie for a couple of dog-loving freaks like us.

We both long to take a vacation to the 1930s and 40s, at least to the world as it existed in those movies. Everyone was so stylish! Irene Dunne would just lounge around in spectacular sequin dresses, and Cary Grant with a scarf and a silk robe, or a tuxedo with long tails. And all the men wore hats. I'd love to wear hats -- other than ball caps. But I couldn't get away with it in this day and age. I'm not old and I'm not black. Being neither, a fedora would be purely pretentious on my head.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

trailers

Found some trailers to some of my favorite movies. (Kind of goofing around here a little bit lately.)

I totally love this one:

It's so cheezy. But so cool, too.

This is one of my all-time favorites:


Best J-film ever.






encouraging news

The NYT had an interesting article yesterday about nonprofit websites that are providing in-depth, investigative journalism in cities. It focused mainly on The Voice of San Diego. But it also mentioned The St. Louis Beacon, MinnPost and the New Haven Independent. They're all really attractive sites, all apparently full of good meat.

It makes me wish I could find a sugar daddy (or mama) who would bankroll one here in KC. I'd love to do something like this. And since McClatchy has been forcing the Star to kill its own, there are probably a few other folks who could join in.

We do have a couple sites like this -- KC Tribune and eKC -- both of which have had some good stuff but which appear to lack the capital that those other sites have.

Meanwhile, across the US, I've noticed that my buddy Joel has rebooted his old blog, Cup of Joel, with a partisan national politics flavor. Here's hoping that one takes off.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

wet squeek



Allie gave the poor little freak a bath. He's still looking for a home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

squeek


This the little creature I saved yesterday. He's is looking for a home.

Friday, November 14, 2008

kitten

I was driving along, about a mile from home, when I spotted a light brown critter scampering out onto the road and pulling up short just before getting smooshed by the car in front of me. At first I thought it was a prairie dog runt. But as I got closer, I noticed it was a kitten. I hit the brakes.

Through the rearview mirror I could see the woman in the car behind me cursing, but I got out anyway. By the time I got around to the side of my car and reached down to scoop the little fur ball up, she was smiling. She approved of what I was doing. She had several teeth missing in the front.

I cupped to kitten to my chest, got in my car, turned around and raced home. I couldn't wait to show it to Allie.

She approved too. But she was a bit worried. The thing was so darned small, she wondered if it could even eat.

I went to the pet store and got some good kitten chow. The kind in a can. Kitty loved that. Just scarfed it down. Though it kept kind of bite/sucking it, like it was a teet. I think it was the first time it had ever had chewable food.

So now we've got another stray to adopt. This one should be easy, though. It's no bigger than my hand. And just squeeky cute.

Anybody want a kitten?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

funny keith

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

'Bout sums it up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

extreme activities


This is the greatest film ever made.

giraffes!



Finally! This is available online!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

new media

Washington Post has some good stuff about Obama and new media. This article says he's going to beef up the communication's staff to marshall in a stronger web presence. And this one talks about the tension between the President-Elect and the press.

The first one is promising, so long as it isn't just propaganda. If his administration puts actual work product out with the polished press releases, policy papers and speeches and such, I think this could be really valuable for people who want to engage the system. I hope they put out some real substantive stuff -- source documents, studies, etc. It doesn't cost anything to put that stuff out there, and most folks won't read it, but it gives those of us who would the option of studying issues and initiatives in depth.

Or, from a more selfish perspective, it could give a journalist from the fly-over land a way to build a little beat circuit in the White House and look for stories or even a book. There are obviously going to be tons of books about this presidency, and I'd like to keep the option open to write one of them.

I checked out his transition website. Not a lot there. I went ahead and applied for a job. Why not? At some point, I'll probably share my story and vision for the country.

On the press side, my perspective on this is quite a bit different now that I've done a short stint in an elected office. I have to say, I sympathize with Obama's position. On the other hand, he needs to get over it. The press has always been at odds with people in power, and it always will be. Bottom line: Reporters are out to score points and draw eyeballs. Conflict drives everything. And conformity and group think are all pervasive. But, as one of the best journalists said, "That's the way it is." And the media is, for the most part, the conduit to the people, the means by which to inform of progress, or lack there of.

Ramble, ramble. Obviously, this idea's not fully baked yet. More later, maybe...

Meantime, here's a collection of hypoallergenic dogs.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

news, pets and flix

In case you haven't heard, I quit my job.

The official announcement came in the middle of a big news day -- complete with a highly unusual action taken by the Star's editorial board.

In other news, the LA Times has a great photo gallery of presidential pets. Can't beat Harrison's goat!

And Allie and I are going to the movie tonight. Which should we see? This one? Or this?

Friday, November 07, 2008

odds and ends

I've been thinking of writing a post about why I like marathons so much. Haven't gotten around to it yet, obviously, so here's this, from the author of a new book about the NYC marathon, in the meantime:

I’ve covered the NBA, U.S. Open tennis and the Olympics, and I don’t think any one event captures the scale of humanity like the marathon.


...

One of my favorite artists is William Eggleston. And this is one of my favorite pictures by him:



...

Want to know more about the new second most powerful man in the world? This article is quite informative.

I read portions of it aloud to Allie last night, and she said he sounds like a dick.

Having worked in an executive office for a year and a half, my sense is that this is the right choice. He apparently knows everyone and everything. He's a proven political winner. He's a ball buster. And -- most important -- he appears to be a very close ally, someone Obama will be able to trust.

Here is another.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

the moment


Annie Mae Rosemond, 105, in Greenville, South Carolina


Smut Eye, Alabama

Allie and I went to the Midland Theatre for the Missouri Democrats' watch party. Beautiful place. The place was jam-packed with just about every noteworthy Dem in KC. A giant screen above the stage was set on CNN.

When Ohio went to Obama, I knew it was over. Every projection had him in solid control of 84 electoral votes on the West Coast. Ohio took him to 200. Game over. When the Magic Screen Guy on CNN pointed this out, saying, "I can't really see any path to victory for McCain," a big cheer went up.

Then Virginia went blue, and everyone knew it was done deal. We counted off the seconds to the California polls' closing time and Barack's face filled the screen. The place just went nuts.

Then some pasty white dude took the stage and said he was head of the local Democrats and he started going off on, "We're right and they're wrong!" You know, We're right on health care, they're wrong! Bla bla bla.

And I was like YOU are wrong on the spirit of this moment.

Midway through the third obnoxious speech by a local Democratic hack, I turned to Allie and said, "Let's get out of here."

Out on the streets downtown you could hear cars honking everywhere, as if the Chiefs had won the Super Bowl. My cell phone rang, and it was Ebony hollering into the receiver as he and his friends were dancing their way through the streets of Louisville.

On the ride home we listened to McCain's consolation speech, and we were impressed. When we got home, we watched Obama's speech. I was really moved by his story of the 106-year-old woman who voted earlier that day, the way he worked through the events of America in the long span of her life, broken up with the refrain: Yes we can.

Today I had lunch with a friend of mine who I have long admired, a local community activist who happens to be black. He was at the Midland celebration, too, but I hadn't seen him there. Like me, and everyone else in the place, he was elated when CNN made the call. It had been a day like no other, starting when he showed up at the polling place and saw a line snaking far around the block, and ending at that same location with a DJ camped outside and a line of people cheering on everyone who passed by: Go voter! Go voter!

But te had the same reaction I did to the speeches afterward. He had to get out of there. He said even Obama's speech left him feeling a little flat.

It wasn't until earlier today, when he went to a local school, where the teachers and students of all grades, K through 12, were having a celebration rally. He said that every time someone said Obama's name into the PA system, the kids all jumped up and cheered. A vice principal showed a slide show he'd put together. It started with pictures of Barack, then him with his wife, then the whole family together. Then there were pictures of him with other kids. Lots of pictures, some taken from over Obama's shoulder so you could see the look on the kids' faces of awe and pride. Then there were pictures of Barack with crowds of people, growing ever larger.

And suddenly, there appeared an image of a slave ship, the famous one with all the bodies laid side-by-side across the cargo area floor.

"It was like this sudden shock," my friend said. "Then they showed a picture of Barack and everyone cheered."

Next appeared an image of people being blasted by water cannons, and then another of folks attacked by dogs, then a gruesome shot of lynching -- each one separated by President-Elect Obama. And with each flash on the screen, the kids cheered louder until the whole place was going wild.

My friend had finally found something that began to match the way he felt inside.

"Today, when people ask me how it feels, I honestly don't know what to tell them, because there's never been anything like it before," he said. "I just tell them, 'It feels new.'"







Tuesday, November 04, 2008

i voted

Allie and I got up at 5:30 and walked hand-in-hand to the polling place, arriving a little after six. The line stretched around the block. I was smiling widely as I passed all the people to find my place at the end.

As the line inched its way forward, more and more people came. A guy behind us looked around and groused, "Where is that kid? I hope he's not out smoking something. I don't trust him."

Just then a tall teen in a hooded sweatshirt crossed the street, his posture a little slumped.

"There he is!" the man said.

"Welcome to American democracy!" He said to the kid, and then to the crowd: "This is his first time voting. He's 18. Still in high school. Can you believe that?"

Everyone in line kept saying they'd never waited in line to vote before. I said to Allie, "I hate waiting in lines. But this is one line I'm glad is long."

I have a pretty strong hunch Obama is going to win in Missouri, and by a decent margin (by Missouri standards), despite the closeness of the polls. Turn out in Kansas City and St. Louis is going to be monumental. This will tip the balance in a state that is always close.

Remember, we elected a Democrat to the Senate two years ago. I didn't wait in no line on that election day.

I can get pretty cranky about humanity sometimes. But this really lifts my spirits. It is so awesome to see so many people out exercising their power as citizens -- the majority of them driven to action by a common desire for change and for a politics that transcends division. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Monday, November 03, 2008

mclame

Meanwhile, over at McCain headquarters...

It's tough to win if you don't get out the vote.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

countdown

I don't know if many of you watch Keith Oberman, but Allie and I have been of late. This is a pretty good sppof of it.

obamania 2

I rode my bike to Midtown today to meet a friend for coffee. On the way home, I decided to detour by the Obama office to see if I could sign in and help out for an hour or so.

I got to the door just as a woman and her two daughters were showing up, so I held it open for them. Then I glanced to my right and noticed that Senator Claire McCaskill was coming in right behind them.

McCaskill was there for a pep talk for the troops, and the local TV crews were all inside waiting for her.

The volunteers gathered around, looked to be at least fifty or so, while she delivered an impromptu stump speech. She said she'd been through many campaigns in "Missour-uh" and she'd never seen anything like this one.

"Usually when I show up at a campaign office this close to an election, I already know everybody," she said. "Here, most of you are strangers. How many of you are working on your first campaign."

Most of the hands shot up.

When I went to the counter to get my assignment, the woman handed me a map of a six-block area around Prospect. I told them I was on my bike, and I didn't have a backpack, so I couldn't really do it. I agreed to come back tomorrow. As if for consolation, she handed me a flyer for Joe Biden's appearance tomorrow in Lee's Summit. Everyone is so happy and friendly at the field office.

As I rode home through the Eastside, noticing the vacant storefronts and weedy lots, I thought about all the people out fanning the city, making sure everyone knows where to vote and has a ride to the polls. I wished I could be out knocking on doors along Prospect. A friend of mine on Facebook said she was out there yesterday. She's white. I thought it kind of neat to think of all these white people walking in black neighborhoods, not only not scared but actually grateful to not be in a white neighborhood, where the chances of running into a cranky McCain-Palin supporter would be much greater.

This seems to me to be a good thing.

Then I rode by the projects where a bunch of kids were out playing in the courtyard. Judging by the size of them, I'd guess the only president they've ever known is Bush. And now we're about to elect the first black president.

Some of the kids I know from Central are going to vote for the first time in their lives, and they're about to elect the first black president.

There was a poll released today that explains the blissful formlessness of this post. It was a dazzling autumn day, 70 degrees. Perfect.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

obamania

Allie and I volunteered for Obama today.

We showed up at the Kansas City campaign headquarters in the early afternoon. It's a dazzling autumn day here today. The field office is in a little upscale strip mall a mile or so south of downtown. I'd guess it's 2,000 square feet, with storefront windows all around. The place is hopping. People are moving every which way, all with all kinds of Obama T-shirts and hats and stickers with their names on them and things like "I'm from Texas" and "of California" (on my first visit to the place a few weeks ago, I was greeted by a fellow from San Fran who had moved out here for a month just to turn our red state blue).

There are folks typing into computers, folks working phone, carrying clipboards, working the counter, handing out water bottles, blacks, whites, old folks, little kids, union guys with great big beards. When we we're standing in line to check in, a woman asks us if we could carry some stuff in from a truck out in the parking lot. We run out and grab great big bags of barbecue from KC Masterpiece and bring them into the inner sanctum where there is already a ton of food.

Today our job is canvassing. We're given a list of addresses in a nearby neighborhood, and off we go to knock on doors. The neighborhood is mostly apartment buildings -- the city kind that are several stories high with locked front doors. But we manage to find a few people. They're all voting for Obama. One guy even signs up to volunteer.

Back at HQ to turn in our sheets a couple of hours later, the place is even busier than before. There's a new spread of barbecue, this one from Gates, and across the room there's a great big table full of baked goods that folks have been bringing in all day. I look around to soak it all in. It's kind of like how it was during the mayoral campaign, at the doublewide, only much, much bigger and backed by a totally professional, well-funded operation. And this is just one city in a state that's gone Republican the last couple of times.

On the way there I said to Allie I'd never seen anything like this. I thought that maybe the Carter campaign was exciting. I couldn't tell if that was just because it was the first one I was really aware of, or if it were one of those big moments in American politics. It seems to me there was a lot of grassroots excitement, what with all the peanut stuff and the Billy Beer.

But this. This is something else.

Allie and I went to the rally in KC a couple of weeks ago, and we'd never seen anything like it. 70,000 people for a short political speech. The line was three to five people wide, and it snaked around the entire Liberty Memorial -- more than a mile long. We've both been in Missouri for two campaigns, and never have we seen this kind of excitement.

I talked with my uncle earlier today, and he said he worries a little bit about the inevitable disappointment. No doubt that, if elected, Barack is going to screw up here and there. He's inheriting some huge challenges, and he's going to lose at least a couple of political battles. There'll be times when he'll be a politician and piss us all off.

But even if he's a complete failure, I think all this is worth it.

What an incredible moment of hope and excitement in our nation. To have all these people from all these different backgrounds coming out everyday all across the country to work together to get this guy elected, it's just...

I'd almost say un-American if I weren't feeling so proud to be one.