Friday, January 30, 2009

When six isn't enough

The woman who gave birth to octuplets this week has six other children and never expected to have eight more when she took fertility treatment, her mother said. - Associated Press

Oh, by the way, the mother lives with her parents.  So, how many more kids did she expect to have when seeking fertility treatment after the first six?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike word of the day

Today John Updike passed after battling lung cancer. I greatly admired his ability as a writer, his fictional works like Rabbit Run, and his essays.

In honor of the man, I give you a word for the day, plucked right out of one of his own works, the iconic tribute to Ted Williams' last game "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu."

Cloyingly - adv - so sweet or pleasurable that it ultimately becomes sickly

As in: I, and 10,453 others, had shown up primarily because this was the Red Sox's last home game of the season, and therefore the last time in all eternity that their regular left fielder, known to the headlines as TED, KID, SPLINTER, THUMPER, TW, and, most cloyingly, MISTER WONDERFUL, would play in Boston.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's big suit moment

Though a freezing chill was in the air, a crowd of over a million people had gathered in front of the United States capitol. An electric current of anticipation seemed to bind them all, and warm them, as they waited for Barack Obama to emerge and take the oath of office as the 44th President of our great nation.

Preceding him was a line of former presidents, each emerging one-by-one, in order. First came Jimmy Carter, the 39th president, looking utterly ancient, amazing the crowd that he was still alive. A gasp rose, and then wild applause, his value to our nation enhanced by time. He smiled and took his seat. Next came George H. W. Bush, the 41st president, as he hobbled, walking with the help of a cane. Less of an applause. Then Bill Clinton, the 42nd president, emerged with wife Hillary on his arm. The crowd burst into wild applause, and the Clintons paused for a moment before taking their seats. Finally, George W. Bush came out, the current, failed president - the one Obama would be mercifully replacing. A jeer rose into the air.

After this the capitol doors were closed, and we waited for what seemed like an eternity - for The One to cross over the threshold. The anticipation was broken slightly as future first lady Michelle came out, in a stunning pale green dress, designed by Isabel Toledo. To say she was Chic, stunning, or lovely would hardly do this new Jackie O any justice! But her moment was quickly brushed aside by history.

All eyes were riveted on that historic platform, where the oath of office is administered by the Chief Justice, against the backdrop of the majestic capitol, and in front of the people of the country, as prescribed by that most perfect of documents, the Constitution. The moment seemed to hang in the air for an eternity and then... Barack Obama emerged... wearing a giant over sized gray suit, tailored by Chicago's own Hartmarx. It was at least six or seven times too large! His shoulders were perfectly square, bolstered by invisible giant shoulder pads, his head appeared in between them as but a tiny dot, ears peaking out to the sides.

The crowd, for a moment, was utterly stunned, as Obama stood at the threshold of the doorway, between the Capitol building and history, as if to say, "Look at my giant suit!"

The chill suddenly seemed to return to the air. Old ladies clutched at their coat collars. Somewhere a big dog barked.

"Oh no. No, no, no, no!" a woman next to me cried out. "Something is wrong here."

"He looks like David Byrne," someone muttered.

Then, the 44th president descended down the steps. Underneath the huge suit was that same confident stride. Obama, even in what can only be described as a laughably large, shabby looking suit, remained unruffled. He wore no smile, no smirk-- this was no joke--and the suit seemed to grow larger in the moment. As he descended down the steps, the crowd, which in an instant had recoiled in horror, returned to him stronger than ever before, recognizing the suit not as audacious, but powerful. It reinforced everything they wanted to believe about their new leader. The suit was a strong statement from an incredibly self confident individual.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, known for being particularly unflappable, hadn't caught on to the moment, and was taken aback, as Obama formed before him, towering. Roberts stumbled over the beginning of the sacred oath:

" solemnly swear that I will execute the office of...comically big suit..."

Obama paused for a moment. Roberts collected and corrected himself. The oath was completed, and at the words "Congratulations, Mr. President," the crowd found themselves, every man woman and child, safely in Obama's pocket. A million voices rose, as one, into the air in a tumultuous cheer. Such a thunderous sound has not been heard in our nation's capitol since the city was shelled and set aflame by British soldiers in 1814, or perhaps, after the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1992. Large cannons were fired off, a massive 21 gun salute, as a band played Hail to the Chief. But all was drowned out by the sound of that crowd, a euphonious noise I will never forget!

Obama's and his huge suit suddenly seemed not so completely inappropriate, but perfect. He squared himself to the thronging crowd, now all but surging forward. We were straining against one another to get closer to him. Under those immense shoulders, massive epaulets stretching north and south, Obama raised both hands into the air. But we had already started an unbroken chant of: "Obama! Obama! Obama!" How long this went on is hard to say, but people simply would not let the man speak. Instead, we wanted to savor this moment in history and shower praise on their new chief executive.

Finally, hoarse, spent and exhausted, the crowd noise subsided. Obama shuffled his note cards for a second and what came out of his mouth next will never be forgotten: "My fellow citizens...I stand before you today... in a very large suit!"

And with that, he smiled! We, in response, born again, bust into cheer! We yelled, cried, and threw ourselves forward as one body. It sounds ridiculous, I know. Such a scene can barely be described. Obama then made no attempt to stop the crowd and simply began to laugh along with everyone. It echoed over the loudspeakers, from the capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and beyond.

A braying, cathartic, "Ahaha! AHAHAHAH! HA!!!!" which carried on for at least a solid minute as we whistled and laughed with him.

"Just look how happy he is," the woman next to me remarked. Her face, almost angelic with joy: "I've waited my whole life to see a moment like this."

I nodded in agreement, he certainly did seem to be enjoying himself.

"It's a large suit!" he repeated, and we laughed again, completely caught up. It was as if we had never laughed at anything in our lives. Or, at least, for the last eight years.

"Oh yeah, and before I lose myself completely in the moment, George. W. Bush, you're fired! Your helicopter is waiting to take you, and your tiny suit, back to Texas. Now get out!"

That famous 44th inauguration will live long in all of our memories. It will be, of course, up to historians to judge its importance next to Lincoln or Kennedy. But one thing is undeniable: this Obama has his finger on the pulse of this nation. He knew better than we did; that we all just needed a damn good laugh. He can do no wrong.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

44 thoughts on the inauguration

1. Can't believe Jimmy Carter is still alive
2. Bush Sr. not walking well
3. Hillary coming down the hall with Bill, but really practicing for 2016?
4. Michelle's dress is green, which I'm sure is really cool
5. Cheney's in a wheelchair and starting to look like Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life"
6. Judge Roberts botched the oath
7. Obama looks annoyed at Roberts for screwing up the oath
8. Roberts just made Obama's list
9. Obama's speech didn't move me, but it was still miles ahead of Dubya
10. Speaking of Dubya, there he is looking hella old
11. Looks like there are a lot of people there....
12. And it looks chilly
13. I feel much better now that Bush can no longer make any major decisions
14. I wonder what that note said that Bush left for Obama in the Oval Office
15. Watching Dubya get on that helicopter, and wave goodbye was very surreal
16. Sort of like the Wizard of Oz getting in that hot air balloon and floating away
17. I can't come back, I don't know how it works!
18. He'll land somewhere in Texas and it'll all be like a strange dream
19. And he'll be somebody else's problem now
20. And we never heard from him, or Laura, again...
21. I wonder what Cheney, Rummy, and Condi are going to do now?
22. Maybe start a barbershop quartet?
23. Eight years is, in fact, a long damn time
24. The Republican party is in complete disarray
25. Sarah Palin?!
26. I hope the new guy does a good job
27. It'll be interesting to see how his first 100 days go
28. Will Obama do as he promised and install a basketball court in the White House?
29. That would be badass
30. Will Lance Armstrong mountain bike with him?
31. These are the questions that now keep me up at night
32. Twelve more of these to go
33. Oh I should mention that I'm very happy for African Americans, what a moment!
34. And I'm not going to try to steal any of it
35. This moment was for all of us, but for some more than others
36. Did I mention Bush is gone? Wow.
37. But...Jeb lives on...
38. We all shine on
39. Like the moon and the stars and the sun
40. This is a good moment, and I think John Lennon would be happy
41. Oh, and I didn't like the inaugural poem
42. How do you write a bad poem like that in a moment like that?
43. Just sound profound
44. That's what I try to do

Friday, January 02, 2009

Talking Heads and the comedy of suits

Alright, so I just watched the Talking Heads concert movie "Stop Making Sense" and at one point David Byrne comes onstage in a giant suit and it's both mesmerizing and funny. I summed it up by calling it simply "badass."

But here's the thing, it turns out skinny guy in a large suit is funny in the same way fat guy in a little coat is funny! There's some kind of comic symmetry going on here.

Here's a full clip of Byrne in large suit: