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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

But then again...

It could be a whole lot worse, like it was not long ago.
While I've been in a dissatisfied mood with President Obama of late, I recognize it has as much to do (leaving the Gulf spill aside for now) with not doing all that he said he would and a few things he's done that he said he wouldn't.  I should also be fair and step back a bit and look at the big picture.  The big picture is that an awful lot has been done legislatively and culturally.
Since I'm lazy but most importantly need to be spending my time looking for a job, I'm going to take advantage of those who get paid to point these things out to you.  First, I'd encourage you to read this excellent article by Peter Beinart that's currently at The Daily Beast.   I saw an interview with him a few weeks ago with Charlie Rose, and I couldn't help coming away from that with one overriding thought..."that is one incredibly smart guy right there."  You just know it when you see it and it is a very rare quality these days unfortunately.
And just because it's always fun to be enlightened by Jon Stewart, I'll share the clip below.  If you watched the show last night, you saw about an 8 or 9 minute interview with David Axelrod; but if you go to The Daily Show website, you'll see there's a much longer unedited version of the interview.  What's below is part 1 of 3, that totals about 20 minutes.  There doesn't appear to be one file containing all 3 parts; but if you start with the first, it'll jump to the next when it ends.
So again, I'm far from satisfied and am dissatisfied in many ways but it should be remembered what the other options could have been.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
David Axelrod Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Banging around YouTube (in a melancholy mood)

Triggered by a PBS link on my Facebook wall this morning about David Rawlings, I soon found myself revisiting one of my very favorite artists' music, that being the duo of Gillian Welch and the aforementioned Mr. Rawlings.  If you're unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and look them up.  You might be familiar with them from the movie "O Brother Where Art Though" but they've been around for a long time, and no one performs better live.  As I've gotten older, I rarely listen to anything that isn't stripped down, and that's all they do pretty much is do great voices in harmony and two guitars.
They do my favorite version of "Long Black Veil," originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell, and this little gem, which is perhaps my favorite of theirs.

I soon ended up listening to another favorite, the great and original Merle Haggard.  It's hard to find a song of his that I don't truly enjoy thoroughly but especially like "Tonight, The Bottle Let Me Down" and "Think I'll Just Sit Here And Drink."  Those songs always make me think of my father, who loved Merle and loved his drink even more, which is how he found his demise at the young age of 52 (story for another time maybe).  But I'm going to share a different Merle song with you, one that perhaps you haven't heard.  Again, it makes me think of my dad because it's a song asking for a moment of peace (that's what strikes me the most, though it's a song about death and salvation)...a song that has the rare ability to bring a tear every time you hear it with that taps-like trumpet at the end.

Another version of this song worth finding is by Keith Richards (yes, that Keith Richards)
Are we seeing a trend? Yes, I like the melancholy -- deep, dark, stripped down and unabashed, which is why I tend to gravitate to the singer/songwriter, people whose music comes from their hearts and souls.
(Sorry I'm not smart enough to make these videos fit correctly)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Four years ago

Watching some U.S. Open golf and World Cup soccer the last couple of days had a sense of deja vu to it; and that coupled with blogging on BoSox Tavern about these events, had me looking for old blogs on similar topics.  Well, if you read through these couple of blog posts from four years ago, you'll see there's even more than superficial similarities.  It's four years ago exactly...Father's Day weekend, a U.S. Open with Phil Mickelson in contention, the only other time Tiger Woods was going through troubles, and a World Cup with the U.S. team underachieving early in games and coming back to save themselves.
One difference is that Nascar is at Sonoma instead of Michigan, as it was four years ago.  Similarities are still there though -- Kasey Kahne won at Michigan four years ago and he finished 2nd last weekend at Michigan.  He's starting from the pole tomorrow at Sonoma where he won last year.
So take a walk down memory lane with this post from Saturday four years ago and this second one is the weekend wrap-up once the results were in.  Here's hoping that the similarities between Phil's first two rounds this year at Pebble Beach and four years ago at Winged Foot (you remember Winged Foot, don't you) end there.
Have a great Father's Day weekend.

(cross posted at BoSox Tavern)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Because that matters most of all, Mr. President

Mr. President, in case you didn't realize, there's a big difference between the loyalty of the left versus the loyalty of the right.  On the left, while we may be very patient and gracious with the benefit of the doubt, we will call you out when we disagree and the bar of expectation is higher.  One category where the bar is higher is regarding your word, especially your word that your administration would bring back things like truth, justice, honor and principle to the Presidency.
So here's how it works with us:  If you're upholding those standards that we most believe in and cherish, then we'll be patient when it might appear you've made a mistake in judgment or calculation because we believe your heart's in the right place and your decisions are based on the greater good.  We'll even cut you a huss or three if you were simply wrong, again provided that we believe that you see the world the way we do and your word is good and you're upholding the standards we believe in.
But when more than a few chips start to fall in the wrong direction, when we start to wonder just how good your word is, then we'll turn on you too.
We're not happy about how you and your administration have handled the mess in the Gulf.  All things considered, we'd just voice our displeasure but still be on your side because you did all the other things that you said you would do that were most important to us.  Well guess what, our patience is wearing thin.
Our friend, Jon Stewart, who's always funny and nearly always right, does a very good job of laying out why we're getting fed up in this hysterical piece from last night.  He lays it out much more succinctly and certainly is more entertaining doing it than I could ever be.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Respect My Authoritah
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Monday, June 14, 2010

It really is up to us, you know

A very poignant political cartoon hit my Facebook wall this morning from Politico.  Unfortunately, Politico doesn't have a share-to-Blogger option.  Since I'm not going to copyright infringe to put the cartoon on this blog, you'll have to go to their site to see it.  There is actually another one on the same page that makes the  point very well also.   On this page look for the one with the oiled pelican on the gas pump and the traffic jam one where the drivers are saying "Dang pigheaded oil companies."
The point of these cartoons is painfully clear:  Our insatiable thirst for oil and a refusal to be personally inconvenienced to any significant degree is a major contributing factor to the necessity for offshore drilling and, by fair extension, the disaster that's going on in the Gulf.
We as a country can be justifiably angry at BP, angry at Minerals Management, angry at the President; truly saddened and heartbroken about what's going on down there.  But until we care enough and are selfless enough to look at ourselves in the mirror and say "Okay, my self-centered perspective and total disregard for the potential ramifications of quenching my thirst contributed to this as well," nothing will change and this will likely happen again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"It's all that and a bag of chips"

Preferably salt & vinegar chips.  My previous post about the Maine Italian sandwich resulted in a lot of comments about people's favorite versions and places to get it, which has sparked in yours truly the thought of discussing what might be the most traditional take-out Maine lunch.
Requirements:  A traditional Maine take-out lunch must include an entree, a side, a beverage and a little dessert; and all of the elements must be, if not uniquely Maine in origin, at least foods that have become iconic Maine delicacies.  So while lobster may not be exclusive to Maine, a Maine lobster roll most certainly is; ditto the hotdog.  A great hotdog can be found in every corner of this country but a red casing hotdog in a toasted traditional Maine hotdog roll is unique to The Pine Tree State. 
While I do love Italian sandwiches, by the third mention of Richie's Pizza, my memory was suddenly jogged regarding the sandwich that I most often ordered there, the hot ham, cheese & bacon.  Now, you might want to suggest that's just a hoagie by another name but I would counter and ask if you've ever had a sandwich outside of Maine that truly made you think it comparable to a ham, cheese & bacon, hot with mayo.  What makes it different?  I don't know exactly since the ingredients are as straightforward as the words ham, cheese and bacon.  I do know I've never had a sandwich anywhere else in the country on a foot-long hotdog roll.  There's my nominee for the entree.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ode to the Maine Italian Sandwich

Since it is universally accepted that the Maine Italian sandwich's origins are in Portland, ME and Giovanni Amato, I've included a link to Amato's website, which has a great picture of the sandwich (you can leave the olives off mine, thank you) on the front page and a link to the history of the sandwich. So I won't bother to repeat it here; but it's called an Italian more because it was invented by an Italian than what's in it, which wouldn't necessarily strike you as Italian food.
My purpose here though is to baptize the uninitiated and to swap stories with the choir about our favorite version of the Italian and where we fondly remember getting the "best one around." It is true that you'd be hard pressed to go anywhere in Maine and not be able to find a very good one on the menu of any "corner store," as we tend to refer to mom & pop and general stores here in Maine; but we all have our favorite place, usually one near where we grew up. It is one of those things when we're away from Maine that make us think fondly and eagerly about returning.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Maine Primary open forum

Being fiercely independent as I am, I don't get to vote for candidates in the primaries (and this won't be a pro open primary post...leave that for another day) and so I'm reliant on registered Republicans and Democrats to make smart choices.  Thankfully my home state of Maine is notoriously independent and moderate, which rarely results in far left or right field nominees.  This blog is an open forum to discuss your choice, if you made one, and a plea for continued moderation.
I know there's a lot of angry sentiment on both sides, which nationally is having the result of some extreme nominees, nominees who cannot and will not win, nor should they.  They don't represent anything close to a majority of voters' beliefs.  But what can happen when parties are polarized and extreme blocks of each party push through candidates based on anger and over-reaction instead of reason is that there is the possibility of an open election between two "worthless" choices.
So I ask my fellow Mainers to reflect on what kind of man or woman you want at the helm of state government.  New and fresh ideas are one thing but sacrificing sound judgment and a steady hand to get them is not the way to go.  As an independent, I'd like nothing more than having a difficult decision between two highly-qualified, sensible candidates come November, two candidates that reflect the State of Maine as a whole and who have that necessary commodity of being able to govern.
I encourage you to let us know who you voted for and why, and to also weigh in on the bond issues.