I don’t wish to make light of tragedy, but: “Brain-Eating Amoeba?” Didn’t I see that movie on Chiller Theater when I was 14? If the world is becoming a 1950s horror film, we’re doomed.
Wait, Sarah Palin is criticizing President Obama for going on vacation? Isn’t she the one who quit her last job halfway through her term, and now she’s criticizing somebody for not working hard enough? Kettle, meet pot.
Good news, bad news. The good news: Former NBA star Tim Hardaway, who was roundly criticized four years ago for a homophobic rant during a radio interview, showed up at a press conference to defend three El Paso legislators who are being recalled for voting to restore health benefits for gay and unmarried partners of city employees. Hardaway said counseling helped him change his thinking on same-sex relationships. The bad news: They’re being recalled for restoring health benefits?
This is why I had mixed feelings about the Wisconsin recall. As much as I wanted to see the Republican legislators booted from office, I knew that the tactic could just as easily be used against politicians I support. I worried that we’ve become so polarized, and the number of signatures is so easy to obtain, that we may reach the point where every election is routinely challenged when a controversial decision is made.
There is good news out of Wisconsin, I think. Although Democrats are still a minority of one in the State Senate, John Nichols of The Nation points out that one of the Republicans voted against Governor Walker’s anti-union bill, meaning the pro-labor forces are now the majority in Wisconsin.
A sign of where the news media is today: Side-by-side on the New York Daily News website the other day were these two stories: “See where the ‘Jersey Shore’ stars shack up” and “Famine in Somali puts four million at risk.” (Note to Daily News Editor: It's "Somalia," not Somali.)
I have no dog in the Paula Deen-Anthony Bourdain catfight. Certainly it’s ridiculous hyperbole when Bourdain called Deen the “most dangerous person to America,” and I like the occasional fattening meal myself. But if you can watch this Deen video without putting your cardiologist on speed dial, you’re a better person than I.
Nivea pulled a print ad this week after it was deemed offensive by some people. The ad showed an African-American man hurling a severed head with an Afro, and the tag line read, “Re-civilize yourself.” Now I’m not going to argue whether it was racist since some African-Americans might not be bothered by it. And I get the underlying message: Time to clean up and look like an adult. But a severed head? With an Afro? Wasn’t there anyone at the ad agency or in management at Nivea who looked at this thing for a few minutes and thought, “Um, this image might be a problem?”
Reading that Wells Fargo is going to start charging monthly debit card fees in some parts of the country, I was reminded of the most usurious ATM fee I ever encountered. Last year, I went to a museum, realized I was low on cash, went to the ATM near the entrance and got socked $5 – five big ones – for accessing my own money. The location of this rip-off? The Woodstock Festival Museum in Bethel, NY. Yes, the building honoring a festival that turned out to be free and which decried greed and advocated peace and love ripped me off big-time. Yes, the 1960s are over. Wavy Gravy must be spinning in his grave. (Wait, Wavy Gravy’s still alive? Are you sure? How the hell did that happen? And did you know that Wavy’s real name is – true story – Romney?)
I’m a Renaissance man, at least according to Amazon. Since I have one legitimate Amazon credit for writing the introduction to Jill Reese's book, Confessions of a Southern-Fried Yankee, if you click on my name, it will bring up every book ever written by a Richard Brown, not one of which I’ve seen in a store, much less written. Apparently, I’ve written textbooks on algebra and geometry as well as children’s stories. I’ve written scholarly tomes about American history as well as travel books. I've written how-to books on gardening and karate. I’ve even narrated the audiobooks of 1984 and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The line for autographs starts on the right.
It’s safe to say that my daughter Nicole is not impressed with my blogging. Here are two verbatim recent conversations:
MICHELLE: Would you guys be mad if I [inaudible to me]
NICOLE: It’s OK with me.
ME: If you do what?
NICOLE: Never mind. Go back to your Salon daydream… [imitating me] I’m going to write something funny about this. Then I’ll say something funny about that person. Then everybody will love me even more and they’ll build a statue to me on the Internet…
NICOLE: I’m taking your car to go to my friend’s house.
ME: OK. Wait, Mommy’s not home. I’ll be stranded without a car.
NICOLE (with a sneer): Why don’t you blog about it?
Finally, my wife is going back into the hospital tomorrow. This is good news. On Monday, she will have her colostomy reversed, and by the end of the week she should back to normal, with the upgrade to Intestines 2.0. She was a little down in the dumps for a couple of weeks; I think the collision of health problems, the death of our cat and the summer heat wave just caught up to her. But I knew she was back to her old self the other day when, as I was intensely tapping away at my laptop, she sidled up to me and said, “Hey, look at this!” I raised my eyes to see a very full colostomy bag being held six inches from my face by my cackling spouse.
Yes, I’m the sane one in the family.