Thursday, January 29, 2009

Male Logic

I just got off the phone with a friend who was bitching about women. I always find it odd when you have a male friend who bitches. Esp. who bitches about women, as if they are aliens. And then he bitches to a woman because after all, can men bitch to men? I mean, is that done? Women, he said, are just so "f-ing sensitive." I kept working and not really listening, though I was beginning to feel a bit sensitive myself. Sigh. I was very tempted to read him this little piece I wrote a while ago.

Male Logic

(an excerpt from a poem in Sleeping with Houdini.)

One day, I gave up and said, “Listen, Honey, I’m sorry. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. But I think we’re finished. I don’t know what else to say.”

That’s when you handed me that tape entitled, Reason Your Way To Bliss. I tried to listen to it. Honestly, I did. But I stopped, every time I got to that point where the speaker (a man, of course—only a man would equate reason and bliss) was saying: If you take a rock and examine it beneath a microscope, it is no different from a human beneath a microscope. Everything on earth is just atoms and molecules. But I ask you, can a rock have a bad day? Can a bad day be seen beneath a microscope? Of course it can’t. If a rock is smart enough not to have a bad day, then how could you be having a bad day? In truth bad days do not exist. Humans and rocks do. I had to turn off the tape. This, Love, is male logic at its best.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ask Not What Big Brother Can Do for You

A friend of mine told me her father came up with the line: Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. I always thought it was a great line until Jimmy commented that it sounds sort of totalitarian. Like some kind of pledge of allegiance to Big Brother.

Then I was reading an article in the New Yorker. The gist of it was--we are all waiting for Obama to save us. But things are so bad, we're going to have to save Obama.

As a writer and not a politician or an evangelist, I don't think I ever imagine I can save anyone. I don't think saving is part of a poet's mission. (Of course I've read poets who disagree with that.) No, I think of myself as one of the fiddlers on the deck of the Titanic. Someone who watches the icebergs sail towards her.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best and Worst Presidents

Everyone is saying GW Bush will go down in history as the worst president ever. Is he worse than Nixon?

I hate to admit it, but as creepy as he was, I sort of liked Nixon, but mostly as a kind of character in a novel (too bad he was real), a study in paranoia. Maybe it's because I met him once, ever so briefly. He was so so weird, waving his fingers in the air. Hard to say I like someone who bombed the hell out of Vietnam without any sense of remorse, who was always sneaking around, doing creepy things. But his wife seemed decent enough. I mean she supported the ERA, was pro-choice (with reservations), traveled the nation and the world, went into the combat zone is South Vietnam, and seemed to have a social conscience. I don't think she knew about Watergate, and she appeared to enjoy Nixon (she always looked miserable with him, esp in the end) about as much as the rest of us did.

Laura Bush, I read recently, is so boring that several major publishers are not interested in bidding on her biography. GW said about her: She's the perfect wife. She does not go into the spotlight.

I think Andrew Jackson is hard to beat as a candidate for the worst president. It seems that Jackson, Nixon, Bush and Cheney all thought they were above the law.

Eleanor Roosevelt might have been the best president ever. She was the heart, the legs, the conscience, and probably most of the brains of FDR. Funny to think he initially wanted her to stay out of the public eye and serve tea to guests of the White House. Maybe join the stitch and chat with the other women of her day . . .

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another History Post

1. Camp David is named after Eisenhower's grandson.

2. President Johnson tried to broker a peace accord with Vietnam in his last year of presidency, but failed. Nixon had already asked South Vietnam to wait until he was elected, suggesting that he would bring them a better deal.

3. Johnson loved skinny dipping and Fresca, and was said to have announced his ideas for the The Great Society to his advisers while he was nude in the swimming pool.

4. Nixon had so many enemies, he had to keep a list of their names.

5. Carter turned the AC off in the White House during summer days, and it was said to have been broiling hot. Carter, the good southern boy and eco-evangelist, didn't seem to mind the heat.

6. Nancy Reagan served as Reagan's protector and had Donald Regan fired.

7. George Bush Sr. was so popular after Desert Storm, and so unpopular after he gave up on his promise--no new taxes. I think about that, and I worry about Obama. After all, so many president's approval ratings have depended on the economy doing well , and yet, economic woes are often inherited from prior administrations.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another interesting fact:

Franklin Roosevelt's famous inaugural line, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," was composed by Louis Howe.

(Okay, I know it's not surprising that FDR didn't write his famous lines. But I always wonder how it would change our perceptions if we had credits at the end of presidential speeches. Imagine: this speech was written by X, edited by Y, brought to you by . . . )

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Few More Facts

1. Grant was one of the early presidents to take on the issue of terrorism --he did a great job vs. the KKK. It was also said of Grant, oddly, that he cringed at the sight of blood.

2. Buffalo Bill killed over 4,000 bison in 8 months.

3. Many of the most famous rich American families made their fortunes during the Civil War: Rockefeller, Armour (meat), Carnegie,
Morgan . . .
"A man may be a patriot without risking his life," Mellon wrote to his son. "There are plenty of other lives less valuable."

4. Coolidge rode a mechanical horse during his time in the White House--it was his way of staying in shape.

5. FDR married his cousin. Yep, Eleanor kept her last name. Thomas Jefferson also married his cousin.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Odd facts

Just a few random, odd historical facts . . .

1. George Washington ran a distillery at Mount Vernon and produced thousands of gallons of whiskey . . . Rye and corn whiskey.

2. Thomas Jefferson was accused of having an affair with his slave, Sally Hemings, who was actually his wife's half-sister.

3. The Monroe Doctrine was not written by Monroe.

4. Andrew Jackson replaced about 919 of his government employees, rewarding his loyal followers and dumping the rest.

5. Zachary Taylor's body was exhumed in 1991 (I think that was the year) in order to verify that he died of natural causes. For years foul play was suspected.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I heard that

1. On Weekend America I heard that Obama won the election (in part) because of the font he used. The Obama signs-they never changed font. This is important in such turbulant times when everything is changing around us so fast . . .

2. On This American Life, I heard that 24 dead people in Ohio were approved for mortgages.

3. At the grocery store this week, I heard a woman telling her daughter how to behave at "an adult party." "You say hello. Nice to meet you. And shake hands."

"Yes, you say nice to meet you even if it’s not nice to meet you. No, that's not the same as lying."

4. At Great Harvest a man in front of me was asking for the white dinner rolls, but they were sold out. "I'm allergic to wheat," he said sadly. "I can't have your brown rolls."

5. At a party the other night I learned that we are running out of gigabytes of gas. No matter what the price of oil . . .

6. At Starbucks my daughter overheard two young women talking. One said --"Now that Obama is elected, I need to buy a gun."
The other said . . . "Me, I'd like to be trophy wife."

7. My son tells me they sell hotdog flavored bubble gum in Berkeley. Just in case you want to have hotdog breath . . .

8. On New Years Eve a man told me he interviewed prospective students for Princeton University. One told him she wanted to be a marine biologist. How did you become interested in marine biology, he asked her. From watching Free Willy, she said.