Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend Update

So I got the tree this weekend. And I climbed up in the cedar closet and pulled the boxes of Christmas stuff down. And so it begins. Christmas.

I've got the lights on the tree - that only took five hours and one trip to the store to replace the strings that decided to quit working since last year. While pulling the 9-foot tree inside I seem to have pulled something in my left wrist which makes picking up something like a coke can rather painful and has left my left thumb without any feeling, so I've splinted it and am carrying on. The sprain I can deal with but the thumb thing is rather irritating.

Here 25 days before Christmas, my teenager has decided he wants an expensive gaming laptop for Christmas, going against our previous discussion in which he said, "Really mom, I have everything I want already; we can just keep it simple this year." Right-o.

Steve and I went to Nicky's Mexican Restaurant tonight for dinner - my favorite. I had just settled into my sour cream chicken enchiladas when a woman doused in cheap perfume wafted in and sat three tables over. From then on I could taste nothing but cheap perfume. Bleh. Steve's head began to explode so we gathered take-out boxes, downed our Dos Equis and left. That is my biggest pet peeve - women who wear too much perfume. Only a little bit, ladies. The whole room doesn't have to smell it.

And it is back to school tomorrow; Julius Caesar for the next 3 weeks. Then Christmas vacation! I still have 20 research papers left but I've made some progress, and they weren't all bad.

So that was my weekend! Have I started shopping yet? HECK no! I'm a procrastinator.

Christmas Wish List: iPhone

I could get used to the keyboard, I swear. And I love the Shazam thing - HOW does it DO that!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Christmas Wish List: Clapton Tickets at Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall! Come on!
Uhm, and a couple of plane tickets, too, please. Thanks.

My Favorite Beatle

On this day in 2001, my favorite Beatle died of lung cancer. While all my friends swooned over Paul, I loved George.

Here's one of his fun videos:

And by the way, if you ever doubted the science of genetics, check out Dhani Harrison:

This is Dhani and my man Eric Clapton (did I tell you I LOVE Eric Clapton?) playing my favorite George song at the Concert for George one year after his death. Just seeing all these guys on stage together for George is so awesome, given the story. (By the way, Patti Boyd did not attend) The money shot for me is right about 6:01 when Dhani walks over to Eric and thanks him. If you don't get chill bumps somewhere along the way, you don't have a pulse. Watch it. Turn it up LOUD!:

Oh! Christmas Tree

Let the decorating begin...

It's A Wonderful Life in Iowa

The Iowa Lottery is having a George and Mary Bailey look-alike contest! It's A Wonderful Life is right up there with A Christmas Story as my all time favorite Christmas movie. It used to be that you couldn't escape the movie during the holiday season but because of complicated copyright issues, it is now aired just twice during the holiday season. For that reason, I had to go out and buy my own copy.

The Iowa contest sounds like fun, if you look like Donna Reed (who was from Iowa) or Jimmy Stewart! You could win $500 and have your picture on the Iowa Lottery website if you're a winner.

Some Saturday Mornin' Blues

Love this video clip with my man Eric Clapton and Louisiana's own Buddy Guy:

Bertha Cooper Harris: Folk Artist

At the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival recently, I purchased this cute wooden "gift tag" from artist Bertha Cooper Harris. She called it a gift tag, but I'm calling it an ornament. I'm going to hang it on my Christmas tree.

I'm not usually a fan of folk art, but I know a lot of people are. I visited Bertha's booth at the festival because for some reason, her display drew me in. Then her exuberant personality charmed me. I visited with her while I looked at her work. She was born in Claiborne parish and now lives in Blanchard, La. She has worked in fabric art (sock dolls!) for the past ten years or so and has recently begun painting. She, of course, evokes the feel of Clementine Hunter works and the comparison has been made often. Mrs. Harris has even displayed her works at Melrose. She will paint on anything; when I saw her she had paintings on canvas, wood (like my gift tag) and cardboard!

Mrs. Harris was the featured artist at the 2008 Claiborne Parish Jubilee Art & Quilt Show. If you get the chance, check out her work. I love the lively aspect of her paintings - all the things going on in them. Even if you aren't a real fan of folk art, she will probably have something that appeals!

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

I'm taking a cue from Nikki and posting my Christmas wish list, just in case Santa reads my blog. He has time for that, right? And like Nikki said, some of it is pure fantasy and some is sort of reasonable. Mostly what I want for Christmas though, is a great family get-together on the 20th! FUN!

But on the materialistic side, as something occurs to me, UP on the blog it goes and maybe DOWN the chimney it will come! Right now I'm adding the Charlie Brown Holidays DVD because I can never time it right to catch them when they come on TV!

Christmas Window Displays

If I lived in New York one of my Christmas traditions would be to see all the wonderful shop windows. It's kind of like the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog - each year you have to out-do yourself! I love this window from Bloomingdale's with its "pop-up card" theme. It's so nostalgic and Normal Rockwell-ish - I love it.

On the other hand, I love this festive Macy's window. The New York Times City Room blog describes it like this: "Every year Macy’s likes to do things that have never been done before. This year is no different. Mr. Olzewski, director of windows, wanted to give his windows a touch-screen effect. One window has controls that operate a claw that can pick up balls (similar to the prize-snatching claw in an arcade game)."

The creativity involved in all of these just blows my mind but I think it would be wonderful to have a job that involved such creativity. You just know they spend all year long designing and creating these windows for just this time of year! Fun! Check out the blog to see the others, including the fabulous gingerbread house window!

Stephen King: Just After Sunset

My new Stephen King book has arrived in the mail and I can't wait to get to it! This one is a collection of short stories, a couple of which I've read already in either Tin House or The New Yorker. I might have to remove the dust jacket though because it hurts my eyes!

I've been reading Stephen King for at least 28 years (crikey - has it been that long!?); I loved The Stand and The Shining. King has a way with words that I find amazing. He is no Hemingway or Fitzgerald, but he never pretends to be. It's just not that kind of writing, and he is the first to point that out. King sort of lost me, though, when we got to Cujo and Christine. That car thing just about irritated me.

I picked him up a couple of years ago when I taught a Creative Writing class; he had published a book called On Writing, about the writing process of course, and I was curious as to what he had to say. He had done another non-fiction book years before called Danse Macabre about the horror genre. That one I didn't like so much. I still have it though, and might take another look at it. On Writing was wonderful though and I used a lot of what he had to say with my class.

I've started picking up his works again and some are good and some not so much. I never bothered with Cell, for example, but totally loved Bag of Bones and Lisey's Story. I thought Lisey's Story was great for its descriptive detail and the fact that the protagonist was a woman. I would think it would be difficult for a man to write from the perspective of a woman.

So now, it's raining outside and I'm dying to crack open my new book, but 65 research papers are beckoning. Maybe I'll grade five, then read a story. Five, story. Five, story. Yeah, that's the ticket!

How Checkers Spends Black Friday

Black Friday - Bah Humbug!

Are these people nuts!? Call me Scrooge, but I just don't get into the whole get up at 4 a.m. and go stand in line for hours just to get a discount on a DVD player thing. And here in Shreveport, it is raining, thundering and lightening, just to make things more fun. Shopping is just not my thing, anyway. I love finding the perfect gift but it's even better if I can find it online. I'll pay the extra bucks for shipping just so I don't have to go out, fight traffic, find a parking place and go get it. If I can order it online and have someone bring it to me, all the better.

As far as I know, nobody has been mauled here locally but in New York some poor guy, a store worker trying to hold back unruly crowds, DIED as they ran over him. That is just SICK. And another woman had a miscarriage in the same melee.

No, I will stay in today, out of the rain and away from the over zealous crowds and traffic! I have lots of research papers still to grade, lots of good books to read, Christmas decorations to drag out, and Thanksgiving leftovers to eat.

(Photo credit: Val Horvath, The Shreveport Times)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

And Now the Tryptophan Kicks In

The Thanksgiving feast is over, the dishes washed and the leftovers stowed away. The teenager is asleep on the sofa in front of the House marathon (he worked 34 hours this week, including 7-1:30 today!) Steve is also horizontal, first working Suduko puzzles and now napping. The Friday sales ads are sitting here waiting to be examined (not that I would get out in that mess for anything in the world.)

I ended up cooking for three rather than nine so the leftovers are plentiful! I didn't know it would actually be three until around 11 this morning at which time I had pretty much prepared everything for nine, just in case. After we ate I took some leftovers to my mom (she wanted to stay in today) and she consumed an entire bowl of sweet potatoes before I even got them to the kitchen.

Even Checkers is sacked out even though she didn't have any turkey. Well, probably one tiny piece. So all in all I guess the day has been okay. Lazy and relaxing! Now I'm looking forward to that apple pie...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Listening To...

Not a big fan of the video but LOVE LOVE this girl's voice, and this song...

The First National Thanskgiving

Ira Stoll has written a nice article in the Wall Street Journal about Thanksgiving (maybe those nut-cases in California should read it). Stoll is the author of the new Samuel Adams book (I've ordered it!) which is receiving great reviews.

Some excerpts:

When was the first Thanksgiving? Most of us think of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621. But if the question is about the first national Thanksgiving holiday, the answer is that the tradition began at a lesser-known moment in 1777 in York, Pa.

After the Revolution, Adams, who was eventually elected governor of Massachusetts, maintained the practice of declaring these holidays. In October of 1795, the 73-year-old governor proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 19, as "a day of Public Thanksgiving to God," recommending that prayer be offered that God "would graciously be pleased to put an end to all Tyranny and Usurpation, that the People who are under the Yoke of Oppression, may be made free; and that the Nations who are contending for freedom may still be secured by His Almighty Aid."
It turned out, though, that the ideas of thanking God for America's blessings -- and of praying for the spread of freedom everywhere -- would long outlast Adams's career.

The concepts still meet with skepticism from time to time. But they are reason enough to pause during tomorrow's football game or family feast and raise a glass to the Founding Father who began our Thanksgiving tradition.

Mrs. Astor Regrets

This book is currently on my reading list. I don't usually read "tabloid" or gossipy stuff much, but this story has intrigued me from day one. I was reading about this case in the papers as it was unfolding (and it is not yet resolved) before Mrs. Astor passed away, and all I could think about was how sad and sordid it all was and how this lovely woman would have hated it so much. USA Today wrote about the book and its author yesterday.

If you're unfamiliar with the story, the short version is that the grandson files suit against his own father for improper care (elder abuse) of the patriarch Mrs. Astor leading to Annette de la Renta being appointed guardian. Mrs. de la Renta took over management of Mrs. Astor's last days, seeing to it that she spent them in the company of her friends and her beloved dogs, and at the estate she so loved rather than in the city. Now that Mrs. Astor has died it boils down to a nasty case of fraud, money, and family infighting. Nasty buisness.

Can't wait to read it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey Day Survival Guide

Slate has posted a handy guide for avoiding those nasty family fights over politics this holiday! My mother always told me, "You NEVER discuss politics or religion in public!" but if you are so inclined, here's the survival guide.

Home for the Holidays

God I love this movie; I watch it every single year over the Thanksgiving holidays. It came out in 1995 and has a fabulous cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Holly Hunter, Dylan McDermott, Charles Durning, Anne Bancroft, Claire Danes and directed by Jodie Foster. I remember Nikki and I going to see this at the theater and we both laughed until we cried, seriously. All these years later, I still laugh. If you don't watch this movie and see some of your family there, somewhere, you are way to normal for me!

In this scene, Tommy and his "friend" Leo Fish make a surprise appearance for the holiday.


Political correctness gone too far? You be the judge!

Parents in one California town are clashing over traditional Thanksgiving festivities at the school. One parent is protesting the tradition of kids dressing up in their handmade Indian and Pilgrim costumes, comparing it to making them dress up as slaves & owners or Nazis & Jews. Good grief - get a grip. I don't think your child will be permanently damaged because he wore a construction paper Indian headband.

This is a four decade old tradition in the town, where "kindergartners at Condit and Mountain View elementary schools take annual turns dressing up and visiting the other school for a Thanksgiving feast. This year, the Mountain View children would have dressed as Native Americans and walked to Condit, whose students would have dressed as Pilgrims."

Not this year.

Talk about one person ruining the fun for everyone - Geesh!

(Image credit: Kathleen Lucas: LATimes)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dana Perino Speaks

I've admired the way Dana Perino has done her job as White House press secretary. I adored Tony Snow and he was a tough act to follow, but Perino handled it with grace and class. Here's an interview/article with the Washington Post.

Redecorating The White House

This is an interesting article in Slate about how each incoming administration gets to redecorate The White House, including explanation of how much leeway they have in which rooms.

An excerpt:

Every four years, Congress appropriates money to maintain and redecorate the 132-room executive mansion. (George W. and Laura Bush were allocated $100,000 for the president's second term.) For the living quarters, which are located on the top two floors, the first family has significant leeway. It usually falls to the president's wife to supervise paint jobs and to acquire new furniture, wall hangings, and bedding. If, however, the president's family wants to alter the appearance of historic guest suites (like the Lincoln Bedroom) or any of the public spaces on the ground and first floors (like the Green Room and the state dining room), they must consult the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. (The curator of the White House, the director of the National Gallery of Art, and other luminaries belong to this committee, which Lyndon Johnson established by executive order in 1964.) State rooms are generally refurbished once a decade, often with funds from the White House Historical Association.

And as to large-scale additions:

First families may also choose to oversee large-scale home improvements and structural changes. The Kennedys commissioned a swimming pool; Nixon built a one-lane bowling alley below the driveway leading to the North Portico. Obama is thinking about constructing a basketball court. Jimmy Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House grounds that Ronald Reagan removed. George W. and Laura Bush added low-flow faucets and toilets, solar heating, and CFL bulbs.

Death by Manilow

A judge in Colorado sentences offenders of the noise ordinance to punishment by forcing them to listen to Barry Manilow. That'll teach 'em!

The Guantanamo Conundrum

The Weekly Standard has an excellent article by Thomas Joscelyn this morning on the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. It's a highly researched and detailed article but in short, Joscelyn explains the important function Gitmo has performed in the war on terror.

Mr. Obama has often stated his intention to close the facility but he has not been clear, as of yet, as to what will become of the 242 detainees currently held there. He has suggested that he wants to try some of them in civilian courts, but Joscelyn correctly asserts that to do this will be to put highly classified and sensitive information at risk. It would also, of course, give the detainees a forum in which they might "grandstand" and further their own agenda.

One of the points of Joscelyn's piece is to caution the Obama team to find an acceptable forum in which to handle these people. These are not conventional prisoners of war and are not entitled to Geneva rights (Obama's AG pick, Eric Holder, even agrees with this.)

Joscelyn makes the point that President Bush established Guantanamo as a detention facility after the 9/11 attacks "in the context of a war against enemies who are still seeking to attack our homeland. President Bush, whatever his faults, protected America after September 11, 2001" and that soon "it will fall to President Obama to do the same." Joscelyn outlines many such thwarted attacks.

Letting these detainees go will not accomplish security for Americans. Nor will sending them "home." Some of their countries are not allied in the war on terror; Yemin for one. Approximately 100 detainees are from Yemin, and history shows that those returned to places like that inevitably find their way back to the battlefield.

Obama has previously stated that closing Gitmo will regain "America's moral stature in the world," but that won't matter much if we're blown to bits. He has also said that he wanted to return to the way we did things in the 1990s when terrorists were put on trial after the fact. He said, "And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks - for example - the first attack against the World Trade Center - we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated."

This isn't exactly true, as Joscelyn explains, and trying those folks did little to stop the terrorist network that grew between 1993 and 2001.

I suspect Obama will figure this out as he settles into office and it will be interesting to see what he concludes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What was Sinatra Really Like?

Quincy Jones on Frank Sinatra:

What was Sinatra really like?

Sinatra was one of those guys where he liked you or he didn't. So when he asked me to work with him, I got a bit nervous because I'd heard the stories. But we hit it off immediately, and I got to know the Frank that nobody wrote about, the guy who visited Billie Holiday in the hospital to make sure her bills were paid and who took care of Amos and Andy when they were down on their luck. He was a stand-up guy who didn't see color, and that was rare back then.

My mother is still a total groupie for Frank. It's so cute. She has a poster of him hanging on the inside of a closet door in the den. She opens the door sometimes and Frank watches TV with her. So funny.

Why Blog?

An interesting article on the experience of blogging.

Hold On, Holder!

Update: (5pm) An article by George Lardner, Jr. on the same topic in the New York Times.

I have to admit that I have been less than impressed with the unfolding Obama cabinet announcements this week. With all the "HopenChange" mantra surrounding his ascension to office, I've been surprised to see a lot of Clinton retreads in his picks. I'm willing to go with that ... I thought, well, maybe these are okay people who just had the misfourtune to be tied up with Clinton and, as Obama supporters often reminded me, association with shady people doesn't necessarily make you shady. Maybe those Clinton people were actually okay. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt up to a point.

The one that bothers me is the Eric Holder appointment. Gosh, even Ronald Reagan picked Holder in 1988 to serve as a superior court judge! What could be wrong here?! But I'm troubled by Holder's actions since then. I'm troubled by his involvement with the Marc Rich pardon of course, which is what most people are talking about. Holder engineered the end-run around the justice department that allowed the eleventh-hour Clinton pardon to go through. Rich, if you remember, was in exile at the time, and that would have posed a problem to the justice department. He was indicted in 1983 for tax evasion ($48 million!), 51 counts of tax fraud, and more troubling, illegal trading with Iran during the hostage crisis. Denise Rich made huge donations to the Clinton library and to the Democratic party, thus fueling talk that Rich's pardon was bought. Tsk, tsk.

Also, on the same day as the Rich pardons, guess who else got the free ride? Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans of, you guessed it, the Weather Underground. They were associates of Bill Ayers, of course, and were serving sentences for bombing U.S. government facilities. With Holder's guidance, these pardons came just weeks after the bombing of the USS Cole.

Also under Holder's tenure was his management of the Elian Gonzales fiasco in 2000. I remember that clearly and the whole thing troubled me at the time.

And yes, it's true that Holder believes in regulating free speech on the internet. Here's Holder on free speech in 1999: "Well, it's very difficult, given the tenor of the recent Supreme Court cases. The court has really struck down every government effort to try to regulate it. We tried with regard to pornography. It is going to be a difficult thing, but it seems to me that if we can come up with reasonable restrictions, reasonable regulations in how people interact on the Internet, that is something that the Supreme Court and the courts ought to favorably look at."

He's no fan of the second amendment, either.

No, the Holder move that bothers me most is his role as the point-man in charge of the defense of Clinton's pardon of the Puerto Rican FALN terrorists who conducted a violent campaign from 1974 to 1983, primarily in New York and Chicago iin which at least 6 people died and 70 were injured. The FALN terrorists never expressed remorse and in fact threatened the judge's life who presided over their case. Terrorist Carmen Valentine told the judge, " You are lucky that we cannot take you right now." Another terrorist, Dylcia Pagan warned the courtroom, "All of you, I would advise you to watch your backs!" And finally, terrorist Ida Rodrigues told the judge, "You say we have no remorse. You're right...your jails and your long sentences will not frighten us." Why would anyone pardon, or work for the pardon, of these people? Holder testified that his department did not even question these people to find out if they were remorseful or if they would cooperate with the government in any way to locate one of their accomplices who was still on the Ten Most Wanted list. These pardons were granted over the objections of the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons, yet Holder supported this move for clemency.

These pardons were issued in the months after al-Qaeda's 1988 U. E. embassy bombings. Clinton's supposed motivation for the pardons was to assist his wife's senatorial campaign by garnering support (votes) in favorable communities.

The Clinton tenure has a reputation as being soft on terrorism and the FALN pardons is evidence of this. There is no way that these people deserved to be pardoned. These people hurt and killed Americans, they are a known terrorist group, and Clinton and Holder worked to set them free? Was Holder just following orders from Clinton? Did Holder actually believe they deserved clemency? And is this a position Obama agrees with? It is something he surely must have looked at as he considered Holder. I'd like to know Obama's position on the issue of clemency for terrorists, or at least, these terrorists in this case.

So I'm not convinced this is actually a good pick by Mr. Obama. There is no doubt that the confirmation of Holder would go through - the democratic Senate votes are likely there. But this is one pick that Mr. Obama might be obliged to defend. Holder has a lot of baggage.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coffee, Fruitcakes and Refrigerators

It's a cold Saturday morning here in Shreveport today, cloudy and gray. It is also the first day of Thanksgiving vacation - hooray! It's been a hectic week what with the refrigerator replacement saga and keeping up with my students who have been ready for Thanksgiving break ever since Halloween. Not to mention the fact that I've been fighting off a cold for a few days. I believe I might have succeeded on that front (thank goodnes for Zicam).

Nothing is better on a cold, gray Saturday morning that warm pajamas, a warm puppy and a hot cup of coffee. Unless maybe a bowl of cheese grits gets added in the mix (on the stove now!) The whole, I don't have to go anywhere and I don't have to do anything today attitude has consumed me. So here I sit with my Mello Joy Southern Pecan (the best coffee in the world ever), thinking about what I might do today. I might clean some house a little. I might grade a few of the 67 research papers stacked in the living room. I might start making the cornbread for the Thanksgiving day dressing. I might dust off my collection of recipes and start cooking stuff again (been lazy on that front lately.) I might do nothing but watch old movies all day. So many options!

Back to the coffee thing - I was a die-hard Community coffee drinker; I don't have time to make coffee every single day during the work week because I prefer the old fashioned drip coffee pots to the electric brew things. You don't ever get those tasty grounds in your cup with the electric models. Radio host Moon Griffon touted Mello Joy on his program every day and so a few years ago I converted. I've never looked back. I prefer the Southern Pecan variety (which Steve calls frou-frou coffee) but I'll always take the dark roast as well. The coffee isn't available everywhere but it is available online here and you can read the Mello Joy story there also.

The replacement refrigerator came this week on Wednesday. It is cooling MUCH better, my ice cream is not like cement anymore and things are better. Still one problem though. Now the water dispenser has the water pressure that would generously be described as a trickle. The ice-maker is fine. Water pressure - not so much. So, this week I will call a plumber and see if I can get it fixed that way without having to call Sears via India to get it fixed. I know, Sears would fix it for free since it's new, but trust me, I just can't talk to those people anymore. I'll give Giglio another $100 to save me from that. But I'm happy; my beer is cold. Life is good.

I'm looking forward to holiday baking. I've mentioned that we are having our entire family together this year for Christmas for the first time in probably seven or eight years. I love to cook at Christmas anyway so this is a great excuse for me to make all my favorite stuff! My mother passed a fruitcake cookie recipe down to me years ago which I make every single year because I love them. She tells a funny story every year about those cookies. My godmother, Cissy, came by our house one morning; I was a little girl and mom and I were making fruitcake cookies (Izzy's Lizzies). We had them all mixed up and the first pan was in the oven. The house smelled heavenly. Cissy came by in the morning for a cup of coffee and to drop a wreath off for mom (she made these wonderful evergreen wreaths every year.) Mom invited her to come back by later that afternoon for a "bee-ah" (beer, for you Yankees) and a cookie. Sure enough, 5:00, here comes Cissy. She collapsed in laughter when she saw Mom and I STILL in the kitchen baking cookies. Moral of the story: cut that recipe in half!

So I was in Albertson's buying the fruit for my cookies this week. A lady in line behind me noted my candied fruit purchase and told me that hers was "already in the freezer cut up!" She has a friend that does it for her. Good friend! She told me about a "white fruitcake" recipe that she makes every year. She said she makes it at Thanksgiving and then puts it in the refrigerator until Christmas. In that time, she said, her husband "docters it up with everything from apple juice to bourbon." Yes sir - I'm tempted to make one of those this year. Seriously thinking about it. I know, the fruitcake is a much maligned Christmas tradition, but I love them! Homemade ones, that is.

In the spirt of fruitcake, here is my Izzy's Lizzies recipe (already cut in half!)
2 eggs
1 lb. candied cherries
1 lb. candied pineapple
1/2 cup bourbon
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 cups pecans
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 stick butter
1-1/2 Tbsp. milk
1-1/2 cup sifted flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add bourbon and milk. Add all dry ingredients, sifted together. Prepare fruit and nuts - cut in small pieces and sprinkle with 1/2 cup flour. Add to batter. Drop into small cookies no larger than a quarter. Bake at 250 for 15 minutes. Run under flame to brown. Sprinkle lightly with bourbou and seal in tins.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Listening To.....

I love Mike and Mike in The Morning. Those guys crack me up. This morning one of their bumper songs was "Don't Pull Your Love" by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds and they both started dancing in their chairs and then Golic began singing along (yep, he knew all the words.) They let it run for a while before they finally got back to sports talk. I haven't thought about this song in YEARS and it was a fun little time-warp for me. It came out in 1971. Good times.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

iPhone Fever

Ohmigod The Teenager bought an iPhone. He discarded his beloved BlackBerry Pearl without a second look and picked up an iPhone. And I love it.

I've always loved my iPod without question. I'm not such a tecchie person and when I got my iPod several years ago, I thought, "I'll never be able to do this." In fact, I didn't even get a cell phone until this past summer. I couldn't even work Steve's early edition Nokia. Once I got the iPod I saw the light. So simple. Good grief, what had I been waiting for?

That somehow opened a door and I got a laptop. Now, I've had issues with my laptop because it came with Vista which I HATE WITH A PASSION because it boots up so slowly and because it always asks permission to run a program even if you've already told it to run. Stupid. But I love the convenience of a laptop. I just want a better one.

And as I said, I finally got a cell phone this summer. It's not fancy - a simple Nokia flip phone. I still don't know how to everything it would do, but it does what I want.

The Teenager, on the other hand, is fearless with technology as most kids are. He started out with a Samsung slider phone. There were things about it he didn't like (ringtone issues) so he got a Nokia, like mine. Decided it wasn't cool enough and bought a BlackBerry Pearl (with his own money - I had to quit funding his tastes in technology a while back.) He loved his BlackBerry. Until the iPhone.

I finally got to touch the iPhone today because he couldn't figure out how to sync it with iTunes. It was simply an issue of deleting and reinstalling iTunes, which he could have done but I suspect did not want to take the time. By the time I had backed up everything on an external drive and then deleted everything (which reminds me - I guess I need to back up again now with the newer version...) it took a couple of hours.

While I was waiting, I played with the iPhone.

I love it.

I want one.

It is so cool.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sears Refrigerator Saga

So I recently bought a new refrigerator. It was delivered two weeks ago this past Saturday. It's really pretty, all shiny and new, much bigger than the old one, make crushed ice! Good times.

Not so fast. It only took me about two days to figure out that the fridge part was not cooling very well (they told me to give it 24 hours to reach maximum cooling once it was all plugged in and such.) The freezer, on the other hand, made the ice cream harder than bricks. So by Sunday night when I was still pulling room temperature beer out of the fridge, I knew something was wrong. I brought home my thermometer (from my classroom - bought it when the a/c wasn't working...) and I stuck it in the fridge. I left it in overnight and, well, after a couple of days moving the thermometer around and monitoring things, bottom line is that the fridge was not cooling below 45 at best, 50 most of the time. That is not okay. It is supposed to be 37.

I called service. After a recording, push this, punch that, speak Indian to this, I finally got a human who knew a few English words. I got a service appointment for this past Saturday (TWO weeks to the day after original delivery.)

Service guy shows up. He's nice, friendly, works on the thing for an hour. He checks the temperature, he says a vent is out of line. He aligns the vent. He checks it again. Then he replaces the thermostat. Checks it again. No go. He finally empties the freezer and takes out the back inside panel and decides that the problem all along has been a wire that was keeping the fan from turning. He moves the wire, puts it all back together, tells me it's fine and leaves.

I wait another 24 hours. I figure since he had the doors all open for just over an hour I need to give it time to cool back down. By Sunday I was back on the phone with service. Explained the deal, they can't come until WEDNESDAY of this week. *Sigh*. Okay.

Today I get home (today is MONDAY) and Sears is oh so sorry that I missed our service appointment and would I please call and schedule another one. WHAT!?

I call the recording again. Punch this, hit that, speak Indian, get a person who knows four words in English ("I can't do that".) No, no, Mrs. Austin, your appointment was today. I don't know what they told you. So sorry. We be there Thursday.

NO NO NO! I asked for a supervisor. She puts me on hold for two forevers with some godawful static covered piano concerto assailing my ears until she finally comes back on the line to tell me a supervisor will call me back. Oh sure. I'm going to hold my breath, okay?

Obviously the supervisor never calls me back. I called again after 2.5 hours. Punch this, hit that, get a woman that speaks ten words in English. She puts me on hold forever and finally a female supervisor comes on. I told her my story, (I was nice!) and she told me they can't come until Thursday. I told her then in that case they can pick this piece of garbage up and bring me a new one. "Oh no we can't do that. You have to have a minimum of four service calls before we can do that." Excuse me?

So at this point, Steve is all, "Come on, we're going to Sears!" Off we go. Now, the lady that sold me the fridge was so nice when I bought it. I liked her a lot. And she was there this evening when I got there. Actually, as we were walking in, we passed an official looking lady with an ID around her neck and she's like, "Hi, how are y'all tonight?" as we passed I said sort of under my breath, "Not happy!" Darn if she didn't hear me and she stops, turns around and is all, "What's wrong!?" I told her my deal. She was very sympathetic and nice. I told her I was going to talk to the lady that sold it to me because she had been nice I thought she could help me. She said, "Ok but if she doesn't let me know, and I will!"

So we find my lady, tell her the deal and she PROMISES to check it out. She gets printouts, gets on the phone, gets a manager (the same lady I met coming in), makes some calls, and by god, she's gonna fix it. New fridge coming Wednesday (as of now.) She said, "Look, you have a 90 day return policy if you aren't happy with the product - it says so on the back of your ticket." I'm not naming her here because I don't want to get her in trouble. But she promised me she will take care of it.

In this day and age when the economy SUCKS and stores and companies are folding right and left, struggling to stay alive, it blows my mind that Sears can be so cavalier about customer service. The folks in the store KNOW how competitive it is, but he folks in India at the call-center could care less. By the time I got to the store I was ready for them to pick the thing up and I'd get one from Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, anywhere.

If my girl comes through, I'm buying her a Christmas present and writing a letter to everyone from the CEO down to her immediate supervisor. Sears needs to know that they lose customers by poor service and poor response, but keep customers by caring about them as my girl seems to. Her attitude was all, "Oh no, we're going to fix this!"

Stay tuned for this space on Wednesday to see how it washes out!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Highland Jazz and Blues Festival 2008

The refrigerator guy came today, finally; I've had the new fridge for two weeks today and it has yet to chill below 45. The repair guy left here six hours ago and I'm still not chilled below 50. I'm not optimistic.

When the guy finally left, I decided to go to the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival. It's five minutes from my house, was a beautiful day, and I was in the mood to blow off all the work I really should be doing. I LOVE outdoor festivals and musical events so this was the deal for me. It would have been lots more fun if Steve had been here, but he went to La. Tech to see his son play in the band; I would have done that but for the refrigerator guy.

Anyway, I got to the park around 1 and there was already a big crowd building. It was a beautiful clear day but definitely on the chilly side. Highland Park is in the historic Highland neighborhood and is really a beautiful, huge park; lots of huge sloping hills covered in slippery pine straw! They had two stages set up - the Pavilion Stage and the Gazebo Stage on opposite ends of the park. One end had the food booths and the other end had the artsy booths. In between were the beer booths.

I got there in time to catch the Bluebirds and Miki Honeycutt (I'm REALLY reliving my old bar/music days this weekend) and that was fun. Miki can still belt out those long notes! The thing I love about the Highland neighborhood and this event is that you don't feel like a total doofus if you go alone because you WILL run into people you know. And if you don't, you'll run into people that will talk to you anyway. This was a dog and kid friendly event and so you could always talk to people about their dogs! Anyway, as I was settling into the Bluebirds, there was my old buddy Rocque making his way through the folks, looking for a place to park. Rocque has a spinal cord injury which is making his left leg shrivel up and useless (sort of like "House") and he walks with the aid of a cane. I always run into him at musical events - several years ago when the Revel was here, Little Feat was playing. Nobody would go with me to see them because it was cold and raining. So I went alone; of course I ran into Rocque. He's seen more bands play live than anyone I know. He's planning on going to see Eric Clapton in Royal Albert Hall in May. Good grief. Anyway, we sat and listened to the Bluebirds until his children ran up from the playground ready to go.

I spent the rest of the afternoon mingling with folks and petting dogs. There was a really great band called "Total Choice" playing in the Gazebo. After they finished I went to the other end and listened to Bill Causey and his band play my favorite Big Band classics - love that!

Then Buddy Flett played an acoustic set - this is amazing as he is working hard on recovery from an illness that left him totally unable to play. He has had to relearn all his guitar skills. Listening to Buddy today, you can't even tell.

All in all, the Highland Jazz and Blues Festival is another great Highland neighborhood event. Steve and I love the Highland Mardi Gras parade. The festival is sure to continue growing and to become a fixed date on my calendar!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Too Pretty to Eat

From the KTBS website:

"A research project begun last summer placed ordinary brown-red Louisiana crawfish in aquaria at the Aquaculture Center. Four months later, more than 60% had turned a vivid blue. Researchers say it may be a form a camouflauge, since the crawfish were in a blue tank. The project was designed to determine whether the amount of light crawfish are exposed to affects their growth. The color change, Delabbio says, was a complete surprise."

These are WAY too pretty to eat!

Shreve Square, Friday Night

Friday Night. Steve and I went to one of our favorite spots for dinner - The Blind Tiger. We were both sort of craving a good old hamburger and nobody does them better than The Blind Tiger. I've blogged here before about their crab cakes, which I love. Besides, we totally love their REAL, not frozen, home made onion rings and FRESH, not frozen, fried mushrooms. Talk about heaven on a plate - those mushrooms are to die for. They come out HOT with a ranch dip and a horseradish based dip and the mushrooms are sprinkled heavily with grated Parmesan cheese.

I've eaten lots of meals in that building going back to when it was T.G.I. Fridays back in the 1970s and 80s. After Fridays closed it became Chelsea Square and then has been The Blind Tiger ever since. Through them all, the building has kept its character. The hardwood floor is polished with nothing but the years of foot traffic and the tin ceiling still gleams. Windows make up the exterior walls giving full view of all downtown traffic, both foot traffic and vehicles coming off the Texas Street Bridge. It's just a really comfortable place to go hang out, eat a great meal and relax. We somehow almost always get the same server when we go, and we like that, too.

When we left we strolled through "the Square" and I had some major flashbacks of the glory days of the Square. For those not familiar with the area, Shreve Square is the two or three block area coming off the Riverfront into downtown. Once a thriving commercial area, in the 1970s and 80s (when I remember it) it was a busy, hopping collection of clubs and restaurants. In 1978 I was working as a waitress at Whiskey River - my mother still has nightmares about this - and then worked as a waitress at The Spaghetti Store. After work at the restaurant, or on my nights off, we'd all go to "The Sportspage" or to "Humpfrees."

Well anyway, skipping the stroll down good-times-lane, it was just sad tonight to see how it's all died. The Square became The Red River District and after some shootings and muggings and fights, nobody goes there anymore. The old buildings have been left to decay and be either destroyed or consumed by casinos and turned into parking lots. So sad. I stood there, right there, in front of Humpfrees and could just hear "A-Train" playing, see the cold beer in the ice in the aluminum water troughs, I could see the crowds mingling in and out, standing outside talking and laughing... And then it was gone. Dead. The three huge windows that made up the back of the stage are now covered in plywood. The entrance is boarded up and dark.

Things change and time marches on. We all get older! Back then you could have NEVER told me I'd be home blogging on a Friday night, watching The Wizard of Oz. Not me baby, I'm going to be OUT! Clubbing! Forever!

On his blog, Robert Trudeau is now putting out the word for old Humpfrees stories; he has a student that is working on an historical paper of the area. I'll be interested in reading about it when she finishes her project! There were lots of famous folks that went through that place and lots, lots of wild stories. She's more interested in the historical aspect, not the "oh I got drunk there!" stories, which is probably a good thing! If you know anything that might help her with her project, send it along!

As long as The Blind Tiger stays open and doesn't fold under the heavy burden of chain restaurants and casinos I'll be happy. But god help me if they should fold and I have to muddle my way through a quagmire of frozen breaded mushrooms and frozen minced onion - onion rings. Blech. Blind Tiger will always remind me of the glory days of the Square. Good times.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

USA Still Mostly Conservative

Take heart, fellow conservatives. We're still here.

Romney/Jindal in 2012?

Since the last presidential campaign was not long enough for anyone, Republicans are already looking at 2012. Similarly, the Democrats did much the same thing after the 2004 election which, of course, helps tremendously when it comes to those things like fund raising. No question that the Democrats raised lots more capital than the Republicans in this past election!

So as Republicans regroup and try to figure out exactly where the party IS - are we centrist? are we conservative? are we left of center or right of center? - various names are already being bandied about as potential candidates. I've seen Newt's name come up as well as Mitt Romney.

And of course, Bobby Jindal. John McCain reportedly strongly considered Jindal as a running mate because of his health care expertise. It has also been said that Jindal asked not to be vetted as he wanted to stay in his current job as Governor of Louisiana. He has not yet served a full term. But many think Jindal might be "The One" - oh wait, that job is taken - Jindal might be the next golden child in the Republican party. The Future.

While I think Jindal certainly has potential, and I did strongly support him for governor, I'm not finished watching him to see what he can do. I like my candidates to have some experience (have you noticed?) and to have accomplished things. Jindal served as a congressman and did an admirable job. But so far as governor, I think the jury is still out as far as many Louisianians go.

Popular radio host Moon Griffon has not been able to get Jindal back on his program ever since Griffon asked him about his position on a pardon for convicted former Governor Edwin Edwards. Before he was elected Jindal was on Griffon's show frequently. Griffon often makes the point that Jindal is "out of the state campaigning" and not here "taking care of Louisiana."

What I know about Jindal is that early this summer our Louisiana legislators tried to vote themselves a huge pay raise. One of Jindal's main campaign platforms had been ethics and he stated specifically in his campaign literature that he would not allow legislators to vote themselves a pay raise; if any raise was approved then it should take place after the current legislative term; in other words, you couldn't vote for a pay raise for yourself.

So here comes this huge pay raise vote; these guys make between salary and per diem, about $30,000 (and this is a part-time job!) Their raise would have been effective immediately and would have raised them to over $50,000. Remember, at that time we were all struggling with five-dollar a gallon gasoline. The "effective immediately" part was a big deal because citizens were struggling and legislators were going to be pulling in 50k for a part-time job; exactly what Jindal had campaigned against.

He said he would not veto it. Said AGAIN he would not veto it. He said he would "not interfere" with legislative business and that they should police themselves. There was a huge outcry from the citizenry and recall petitions blossomed for legislators and for Jindal. I ripped my "I Voted For Bobby Jindal" bumper sticker off my car and sent it back to him. The "folks" were furious.

Everywhere Jindal went in the state he was greeted with protesters. One guy, photographed and splashed in all the local papers, had a t-shirt with a knife drawn on his back with comments about Jindal breaking his campaign promises to the people.

In the end, and at the ninth hour, he finally called a press conference and said he would veto the raise. The point is that he had to be dragged kicking and screaming to do the right thing. Jindal made a lot of people doubt the sturdiness of his spine on that one. Rumors flew that he had made a deal with some powerful legislators that if he didn't veto the pay raise then they would work with him on some of his pet projects such as charter schools in New Orleans.

So, there are a lot of people in this state that still want to believe in Jindal. I think he COULD be a bright spot in the Republican party; he certainly is conservative. He has a lot of positives. But he lost the faith of a lot of people (and isn't winning many friends by boycotting Moon Griffon!).

I've heard the Romney/Jindal combo suggested already for 2012. Between Romney's economic smarts and Jindal's healthcare smarts and the combined conservatism of the two, it might not be a bad ticket. But Jindal needs to restore the love of a lot of his Louisiana base first!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans Day 2008

Happy Veterans Day to my favorite veteran!

Letter from Coffeyville Army Air Field, Coffeyville KS

25 Jan 1944

Dear Mom,

I'm getting an early start this week so maybe I'll get to write you two letters instead of your usual one. We are still flying every minute possible but have finally caught up with old man time so maybe they will let up pretty soon. They aren't doing it today though, because we are flying with about a thousand foot ceiling and a two or three mile visibility. The weather started closing in yesterday morning and has really turned into soup today. They called our night flying off last night but have us in the air this morning in worse weather than we had last night. You would really have enjoyed some beautiful scenery I saw yesterday morning. I went up above a low overcast and broke through on top to see a beautiful picture of the sun shining down on the clouds. They looked like a big layer of white cotten [sic]. It really is a wonderful sight.

I've finished up with everything but my instrument flying and night flying. Have six more hours of night flying about about eleven of instruments before I'm finished with Basic. I've taken all my checks except in the instruments and have passed all of them. If I can get by the instrument check I'm in advanced. The first thing we get in advanced is another tough physical exam so I'm beginning my new worry period in about another week. Once I pass that physical I have those wings and bars practically in my hand. That will be a great day, believe me!

Our luck finally ran out the day after I wrote you last. One of the boys cracked up on the take off and was killed. It was our first fatal accident and I hope the last. The kid got caught in prop wash, stalled out, and was pretty badly burned in the fire that followed. There was nothing anyone could do until the fire was out and by that time it was a little late...

Don't worry about me though because I'm planning on coming back...

Must close now. Tell Dad hello for me and both of you write soon.

Love, Sonny

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Maya Lin's Wave Field

The New York Times today has an article about Maya Lin's new work at Storm King Art Center in New York. It is an 11-acre installation and opens next spring. The work is also third in a series of waves that she has done, the first in Michigan and the second in Miami.

I'm not artistic at all; I have no imagination or skill, but I've always been intrigued by Lin's work. She makes it look so easy. Her story has always been an inspiration to me also. I always talk about her in my classroom to motivate students that dreams really can come true if you work for them. We talk about the Vietnam war whenever we read Tim O'Brien, for example, and we talk about the memorial that Lin designed. I tell my students about the open contest that Lin entered when she was a senior at Yale School of Architecture and how her submission was selected out of 1400 entries, some from professional designers. The choice of Lin's design was controversial at the time as many people wanted a more "traditional" design.

I've seen the traveling replica of Lin's Washington memorial (but never the real one) and even the small scale version has an impact. "The New Yorker" wrote a profile of Lin several years back in which she talked about her inspiration for the project and I think that's when I really started watching her. She talked about the wall as a "rift in the earth" and as "a giant tombstone." She explained how the polished black granite is set into the side of a hill so that when you actually look at the wall, at the names of the dead, you see also your reflection inviting you to look inside yourself. When you stand on top of the hill, over the wall, you are also standing over the buried dead, as if at a cemetery. She did not want the wall to make a political statement of any kind. But the symbolism of the whole project was brilliant.

Her new wave field installation covers 11 acres and visitors will be able to walk into the piece over swells ranging from 12 to 18 feet. Lin explained that she wanted you to feel like you could "get lost" in the waves. The waves will be covered with long grasses that bend and sway as the wind blows, adding the notion of movement to the waves.

You can see the evolution of the project in various exhibition pieces that Lin has done - at left is a wave created out of two-by-fours cut to various lengths; it is sturdy enough that you could climb on it (but I wouldn't!)

The Times article also has a short video interview with Lin in which she takes you inside her studio; if you're artistic at all you will enjoy watching it. She has made sculptures from bottle caps and from plastic toys, explaining that "it's almost embarrassing how much junk we accumulate."

I think what I like most about Lin's work, besides her creativity, is how it is so organic and connected with the earth and nature. She is much more of an environmentalist than I am, but even her explanation about The Wall shows a connection with nature that I like.

(Top photo credit: Colleen Chartier)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Veterans Day is Tuesday

Don't forget to thank a veteran on Tuesday! The VFW folks were out today selling poppies in a busy intersection by my house. I love those guys. And I love this commercial - always brings a tear to my eye.

Paws and Reflect

Because I needed to drop Steve's blood pressure by a few hundred points, we went to the Norton Art Museum today. We always go there in the spring because the grounds are so lovely carpeted with azaleas, water installations and woodland shade gardens. It's nice in the fall, too because the hardwood trees are gorgeous as the leaves change color.

The gallery had the "Paws and Reflect: Art of Canines" exhibit so we went inside to check it out. There were over fifty paintings and sculptures of dogs - right up our alley! One of my favorites was Louise Peterson's "High Four" - a huge, life sized Great Dane. Steve's favorite was a bronze search and rescue German Shepherd entitled "Ground Zero." We saw two George Rodrique Blue Dog paintings; I'm not sure why I like his work, but I do - I think they are fun.

Norton's is a real treasure and we always love it when we go. We always vow to go back more often and then promptly forget. I signed up for the email newsletter this time though, so maybe that will help keep it in my short attention span!

After prowling around the museum for about 45 minutes we went outside and sat on a wooden bench by a waterfall. We get sort of a kick out of the people with their cameras, tripods, and noisy kids all taking pictures. Lots of Christmas card portraits were apparently being made today and one wedding couple that looked straight out of Urban Cowboy - sort of.

Afterwards, we came home and Steve watched the Iowa Hawkeyes defeat Penn State which was exciting and then watched LSU lose to damn Alabama which was not exciting. We ate taco soup and I made a pineapple upside down cake which is wonderful and I'm going to eat the whole thing. By myself. Mostly.

So, I don't think I did a lot to lower Steve's blood pressure today but we did not talk politics at all (even though he tried) and that surely has got to help. I'm making gumbo tomorrow (The Teenager's favorite) which is pretty much an all day affair if done right! My students turned in research papers on Friday and I might muster up my energy and start getting a few of those knocked out.

All in all, so far it's what weekends are all about. Relaxation and football and food!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Listening To..........

This song just makes me want to take up smoking and sit in a dark club with 1940s Big Band music, sip on a smooth, strong bourbon, watch couples sway on the dance floor and linger into the long, slow hours of the night.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NOW Brokaw has Questions

From the Charlie Rose Show, Friday night:

Rose: I don't know what Barack Obama's worldview is.

Brokaw: No, I don't either.

Rose: I don't know how he really sees where China is.

Brokaw: We don't know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.

Rose: I don't really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?

Brokaw: You know, that's an interesting question.

Rose: He is principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational [sic] speeches, two of them.

Brokaw: I don't know what books he's read.

Rose: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?

Brokaw: There's a lot about him we don't know.

HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO? Earth to mainstream media? Were you LISTENING?

The media is just now starting to realize that Mr. Obama may be an enigma. This man who has accomplished nothing but a successful campaign. This conversation between Rose and Brokaw on Friday night illustrates what conservatives have been saying for months. What do we KNOW about Barack Obama? Evan Thomas of Newsweek even said on the same program that "there is a slightly creepy cult aspect to all of this." Well golly darn, wish I'd thought of that one, Evan.

Ok, I said I was going to wait and see what Obama did before I criticized him. But wait, Rahm Emanuel for chief of staff? If you remember him from the Clinton staff, Emanuel is the most leftist, thuggish type of Democrat there is. He has no desire to get along with anyone in a partisan kind of way. He is Chicago old style politics. There is nothing centrist about Emanuel. But, we'll wait and see, right?

And while I'm questioning Obama's initial moves as president elect (and the media's new found awareness of the question mark) what's up with his new dot-gov website? Last time I checked, president-elect is not an official government office which I thought the dot-gov notation meant. And why is the government (as a dot-gov address) accumulating email addresses and information on citizens as a promotional means of staying in touch? Wouldn't Obama's regular website do that? Or is this just a perpetual campaign?

I know some of you are going to say I'm just being negative and am determined not to like him from the start. You may be right - I never pretended to like his ideas and proposals and yes, I'm going to be watching every move he makes. But I think these are legitimate questions and I'm just blown away that the media is now deciding to ask questions. For crying out loud! The media was Obama's unofficial campaign manager/cheerleader! Could we have asked these questions sooner? Like, back in the primaries, even? Before Hillary got dumped on?

(oh god, was I just defending Hillary?)

It will be interesting to see how the media plays out their love affair with Mr. Obama. With the Fairness Doctrine looming overhead I'm sure they will tread with care. And with Emanuel as the point of access, most will be especially careful. Still, the questions remain.