Friday, February 26, 2010

In Search end of the week blog

It's the end of another week, and what a week it has been! Actually, what a couple of weeks it has been.

Let's see...Tiger Woods made an awkward public apology for, oh, what was it again...getting caught, I believe. A killer whale killed someone much to everyone's astonishment, American Idol got in full swing with a crop of stunningly underachieving and unoriginal contestants, the winter Olympics forged ahead with breathtaking performances, raucous celebrations, and all in all some great drama and real emotion. Then there was the long awaited health care summit, a blizzard, an earthquake, and a school teacher who tackled a gunman, preventing what could have been another massacre like Columbine.

For all of you who are questioning that the world is ending, let me just say this...really? How much proof do you need? Oh, and to top it all off, I agreed with Bill O'Reilly about the health care summit when he was talking about it on GMA. I agreed with Bill O'Reilly. Seriously, there's your proof right there.

I'll start with Tiger Woods and the Olympics. First off, let the Canadian women's hockey team drink and smoke whatever they want. They just won the gold medal! Let's not pretend that this "un-Olympic-like behavior" is something out of the ordinary. They weren't smoking dope or anything, were they? Oh wait, Michael Phelps did that last time around, didn't he? Hmm, anyway a little champagne and a cigar never hurt anyone.

And are we all really pretending that the snowboarders are squeaky clean? I mean, I love me my Shaun White, but I don't delude myself into thinking you can do what they do without a little herbal assistance...which brings me to Tiger Woods and everyone's obsession with this ridiculous rationale that being a role model for kids is why we're interested in the dirty details of his escapades. I was a kid once too, and I never bought a box of Wheaties because I thought that eating it would make me Bruce Jenner, nor did I know or care who Bruce was sleeping with. I ate Cap'n Crunch too. Never once thought I'd be fighting pirates. Cereal tastes good because it's packed with sugar and that's why we buy it. So enough with the "role model" nonsense.

American Idol. They have so gone beyond jumping the shark...but it does remind me a lot of Congress, and here's why. A bunch of people decide who the qualified players in the game are going to be and they choose them based on criteria like "looks good on TV," "we need one black guy and one black girl," and oh yeah, "a Hispanic guy and girl, and a little white boy to appeal to the little white girls, and a quirky girl and a rocker guy"...and then they're shocked and disappointed when they can't actually sing. Well, they didn't pick the best singers. They picked the ones who fit the stereotype. You know who didn't fit a stereotype? Adam Lambert. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think there was an Adam Lambert in the crowd this year. However, there were many way better singers than the ones they chose, and we won't get to hear them because the now disgruntled judges went with appearances and not vocals.

So how does that compare to Congress? Well, let's see. We voted for the knuckleheads who sit there. And what exactly did we base our votes on? Looks good on TV? Great ad campaign? Was the only name that was familiar to me? Does anyone actually look into these people's backgrounds and voting records? Or better yet, do we take the time to go shake hands and ask them a question or two when they're campaigning?

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she interacts with you. Are they slick? Are they direct? Do they look you in the eye? Do they come across like they actually give a damn about you? Even gut instinct would be a better yardstick to go by if we actually met them face to face.

But we elect them. And now we're unhappy because as it turns out, "looks good on TV" isn't a particularly compelling argument when we can't pay our bills or afford health care. And for God's sake, John Boehner (which I like to pronounce "Boner") stop with the tan. I don't know if it's real or fake, but you look like a clown. And that image is not helped when you open your mouth. I don't even need to be in the same room with you to know that you could care less about the American people.

And John McCain, you would also be better served to speak less. And to my own senator, Lamar Alexander, you do not represent my interests. You know how I know? I tried to meet you, I tried to call you, I wrote to you, I emailed you, and what I got, other than the pretty receptionist telling me you were "unavailable" was a form letter that basically said, "Screw you. I'm doing what I want. Sorry you don't agree." Oh, not in those exact words, of course. Come to think of it, I think I saved the letter. Perhaps I should print it up here in the ol' blog so we can all share in your great concern for my interests.

So as for the summit, I could only stomach bits and pieces. But I think we can all say the President tried his best to be bi-partisan. Now he can lay that particular dream to rest. Now it's time he gives my Senator the kind of response and compassion he gave me. Pass health care anyway. And while you're at it, Mr. President, pass some other stuff too. No need to dawdle. You're wasting precious time.

Lastly, let's talk about the killer whale and heroic school teacher. I say, "Good for you, Shamu. Go get 'em. Be all that you can be." We just thinned the herd. And parents, if you don't want your children seeing the killer whale live up to its name, stop patronizing places that capture and confine wildlife. It's not fair to imprison animals for people's entertainment, even if you want to call it "educational." Making animals do tricks is not educational. It's cruel.

As for the teacher, can anyone please tell me why it is we aren't putting him on a Wheaties box? Talk about role models. That's your hero right there, not some guy who can hit a ball into a hole. Humanity wasn't ever saved by that. But tackling the gunman? Saving children's lives? Being an example of humanity at its best? That is a hero.

So as so much of the world is hurting now, let's try to rise to the call of our better angels, shall we? Let's be proud of the people who do what few of us can, whether it's an Olympic athlete who skated after losing her mother, or the teacher who taught heroism by example, or those who can summon the courage to do what's best for our country despite potential political fall out. Let's be true to our own authentic nature.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Search of...a friendship blog

I've been overwhelmed lately, and not just by life. I've been overwhelmed by something a lot of us take for granted - friendship.

Yes, I receive those chain emails attempting to remind me, albeit annoyingly, that I am thought of and loved, but it is not an email that has reminded me lately. It has been phone calls, and dinners, and conversations that have quickly gotten past the superficial to the deep and complex. It's been people offering counsel, humor, homemade chili, and yes, a hug that have recently overwhelmed me. It's been a former co-worker's call just to check in and see how life has been going for me, and the barrage of so much of that in such a short span of time that I can't help but be secure in the knowledge that friendship is one thing of value that cannot be taken away from me no matter what else ever can be. We take for granted the value of such gestures, or at least I did.

So maybe this is self indulgent, or maybe it is generous, but whichever it is, I am sending this out to all my friends - past, present, and future who lift me up and make my life a beautiful journey. Thank you for being my friend. You are cherished and oh so loved.

To those of you reading this whom I do not personally know but have stopped by, I value you too...more than you know.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Search of...reasons not to watch TV

Lately I've been a little blunt. Some might argue too much so. And so while I'm on a roll, I see no reason in stopping now, especially after watching the news this morning.

Ken Starr has been appointed president of Baylor University in Texas. You remember him, don't you? The guy who conducted the witch hunt against Bill Clinton? Well, there's a new book out today about the whole thing, as if we didn't all have enough of it the first time around.

This morning, when George Stephanopoulos asked Ken Starr about the criticism leveled at him by the author of the new book, Ken Starr's response was basically something along the lines of, "I like Cheerios." Actually, Mr. Starr said that the author also penned a great book about Archibald Cox, which had about as much relevance to the question as "I like Cheerios," so there you go.

So there was Ken Starr and the same tired B roll of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky that never seems to go away. But here's the difference between Bill Clinton and Ken Starr - Bill Clinton has done immeasurable work to better the human condition since the scandal. He has not only done it himself, but he's given others a way to do it too with his global initiative. What good has Ken Starr done? He was lead counsel defending Proposition 8 in California. Great Ken. Way to go, Ken. Take away people's equal rights under the law. What journalists did Ken safely bring home from North Korea? None, that was Bill Clinton. Did Mr. Starr take his fame, such as it is, and use it for something good, something to better the conditions of people less fortunate? Did he take his intelligence and utilize it constructively or destructively?

Yes, I know that with great success in politics frequently comes questionable means. But I also know that people who achieve notoriety have a choice about what they will use it for, and that decision trumps the reason for their fame in the long run.

So congrats, Ken on being named president of a university. Maybe you can encourage your students to do the kinds of humanitarian things you declined to. Or maybe someone will discover something unseemly about you while you're "president" and this will all come full circle. Here's hopin'.

On to airline seats and runway models. It seems every so often there's an issue about obesity and airline passengers. While I can see both sides to this Kevin Smith story, I don't think we really know the accurate details. I fly Southwest all the time, and I've had someone next to me on a full flight who took up their seat and half of mine. No, I didn't say anything. Maybe I should have. Maybe I should have gotten a refund for half my ticket since I only used half my seat. Don't know. This is a sticky situation. But by all accounts, Mr. Smith was flying standby, and so Southwest should have made sure there were two side by side seats available before letting him on the plane if that is their policy, and that is what he had paid for initially. So shame on them for creating the sticky situation, and shame on him for capitalizing on it. They were both wrong.

I know you're wondering what that has to do with runway models. Well, it's fashion week in NY, and so the media is all abuzz with fashion. I enjoy fashion too...when it's exhibited on actual people. Runway models who are a size zero or less (is there such a thing?) don't really qualify as real people when the majority of women in the country are a size 14. Yes, while it may be true that we are an overweight nation, it is also true that we wear clothes, and frankly, I'd like them to be fashionable and flattering. But how can you tell on models? How on people with no breasts, stomachs, thighs or asses, can you tell what anything will look like on an actual woman? And why, for God's sake is someone who wears a size 14 considered "plus size?" Really?

So as I look for the Doritos, I'd like to invite someone to design clothes for me that don't make me look like I'm one of The Golden Girls, much as I do love The Golden Girls. I'd like the clothes to fit me like they're made for me, and I'd like them to be made for me. And Kate Moss who is credited with saying, "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," clearly hasn't eaten a bowl of ice cream or she'd retract that statement toot sweet.

This leaves me with my last topic of the day - reality television. Stop. Please stop it. I can't take anymore. If The Bachelor is "reality," then I'm...let me think, Kate Moss. And Survivor, and The Biggest Loser, and virtually every other show on TV that caters to the shallowest, most superficial aspects of our nature, not to mention the least intelligent ones. Come on, David E. Kelly, I need another Boston Legal. And Aaron Sorkin, where are you hiding? I need a fix. I can't take another moment of people maneuvering against each other whilst eating bugs in the jungle. I just can't do it. So I'm turning my TV off. I don't care about American Idol. Simon's heart is just not in it anymore. They already got rid of the most interesting back story this season, the ex-con trying to turn his life around. Jeeze, I hope he stays on the straight and narrow after being booted off there.

So my TV is off. All is calm and quiet now. My blood pressure numbers are surely returning to their normal place. I'm opting to read a good book or see a good movie.

Is it just me? Let me know, and thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Search of...a pot luck blog

Much like the dinners of the same name, I'd thought I'd catch up on what's transpired since last we chatted with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

First there was my foray into public speaking. Yes, I finally did it, spoke publicly about health care reform. Fortunately it wasn't at an outdoor rally with a bullhorn. It was at a luncheon event called Journey to Justice, where four social justice groups were represented. Though there were only 35-40 people present, it was a good start for me to get my feet wet speaking publicly. Here's what I learned by doing it - preparation is everything, and then you have to speak off the cuff. What is heartfelt and passionate trumps reading from anything. And so it was that I lent my face and voice to the cause of overhauling our health care system. Did it accomplish anything? I don't know. But I'm guessing that some people went home and contacted their representatives, and at least one person decided to get more involved, so I'm thinking it was a success. Would I do it again? You betcha. Change trumps nerves, at least it does where health care and I are concerned.

While we've been apart there's also been some change in tone coming from the White House. The State of the Union speech was a much welcomed bitch slap of, well, everyone it seemed. And I personally enjoyed it very much. Yes, we saw the president come down hard on republicans - the party of NO, democrats - those sissies running from actual leadership and backbone, the Supreme Court - whose ruling effectively ended our democracy, the military - and their open discrimination against gays (as if they haven't always served our country honorably if not openly). Let's see, did I leave anyone out? Oh yeah, bankers and Wall Street, always a foe the average citizen can get behind despising. All in all, it was about damn time we saw our president show some grit. And I was newly re-energized by it, though fearful that this man of great words could not sustain it or back it up with action.

I needn't have worried though because a couple of days later I would see the president taking on republicans head to head, sustaining his grit and anchoring himself in his new display of strength. While I was snowed in in my apartment in Nashville, MSNBC was kind enough to air President Obama's Q&A with the republican leadership. Had I known how entertaining it would be, I would've purchased popcorn. Instead I found myself cheering like I was at a sporting event. "Ooh, smack down!" I giddily exclaimed. It was refreshing to see a man well versed enough to be able to answer every accusation, I mean "question" knowledgeably, usually more so than the person launching the attack. And make no mistake, it was an attack aimed at gaining political ground. It was a gamble that the minority party took, televising what has previously been untelevised, hoping to trip up the leader of the free world. Too bad it didn't work out for them. And when the things being stated by the hosts were completely false, good for the president for calling them out. Again, it's about damn time. Score: 2-0 President Obama.

It seems there's a new sheriff in town, and his base, though still a tad skeptical, is singing, "Hallelujah!"

Switching gears to the Grammys, an award show I usually have to record so I can fast forward through it. This year, however, I watched it from start to finish. I have to say that for me nothing really topped Lady Gaga and Elton John. Coming in second with a side dose of Dramamine was Pink, whose aerial performance made my palms sweat. Good for her. Nice job. I also liked Jamie Foxx and Beyonce, in that order. Honorable mention must go to Stevie Nicks for keeping it together while Taylor Swift gave what can most generously be called an interesting performance.

I found the Michael Jackson tribute to be lackluster. The same goes for Bridge Over Troubled Water, and I love both Mary J. and Andrea Bocelli. But for some reason both of those performances did nothing for me.

The thing I'm really excited about and am going to check out as soon as I'm finished blogging here is the new remake of We Are the World. Loved it the first time around, and I imagine I'll love it this time. What's not to love - a big anthemy song filled with hope, love, and a commitment to change the world, with the money going toward a good cause? You gotta love that. Plus, seeing Barbra Streisand in the same room with rappers is just plain entertaining. So I'm headed to iTunes in a minute.

What else? Let's see, my apartment is leaking, I just got back from California where I visited my nearly four-year-old niece who lights up my world, and I'm reading a book about a serial killer. Yes, my life is full of contradictions.

This weekend I plan on going to the movies and seeing Valentine's Day, the new Garry Marshall movie. I'll report back on that later, but I assume it will come as a much welcomed relief from reading about serial killers.

To all of you who are about to celebrate this illustrious Hallmark and Godiva sponsored holiday, have a sweet weekend, and thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In Search of...a birthday blog for George Stephanopoulos

Today is George Stephanopoulos' birthday, and though it's been a while since I last blogged, I couldn't let this momentous occasion pass by without acknowledging it in some fashion since, after all, he was sort of the indirect reason I started blogging in the first place. (For all you latecomers to the game, you can go back to the beginning of my postings to catch up on why I say that.)

George's GMA family got him off to a rousing start, complete with cake and wife Ali in attendance. All the festivities got me thinking about how many years have passed and how much has transpired since I first began my crazy quest to meet George Stephanopoulos ten years ago when, as I like to point out, he was single. But ships have a way of sailing, and life has a way of taking us in different directions than we planned, and so it is with George and me.

Now I sit watching a Rhodes scholar interviewing Lady Gaga while it's me writing a piece about a Supreme Court ruling for The Huffington Post, and I wonder if there's any end to the irony in life. But he looks happier than I think I've ever seen him, and in these troubled times there's a lot to be said for that.

I find myself visualizing a day when it will be me on GMA, sitting there with George, talking about whatever it is I'm there to discuss. While I had always assumed it would be my memoir, these days I wouldn't venture a guess. I'm just staying open to life's infinite possibilities.

So on this snowy day I just want to say Happy Birthday to you, George. May your year be filled with good health, much happiness, and continued adventures.

And to you my readers who are not George Stephanopoulos, thanks for stopping by. Tune in tomorrow for the big "pot luck" blog.