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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Wake Me When it's November 9. Or 1993. Whichever.

Settling into our every-other-week posting schedule!

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

Merryland Girl chose this week, and she asked us to write something fun/humorous about voting/elections, but do not mention anything about our upcoming election/candidates.  This is meant to be stress-free and non-controversial.

I can honestly say that I am finding nothing about this election season stress-free, fun, or humorous.  I have read some hilarious Tweets here and there, but more often, my Facebook feed has been filled with hate and disparity and downright nastiness.  I’ve lost count of how many friends’ feeds I’ve unfollowed.  I am ready for November 9 (I think).

In part for this reason, I am “cheating” and resurrecting an old post, one I wrote several years ago.  Here is my disclaimer:  This post never has been and is not now intended to be any kind of political commentary.  (And I HATE that I need to emphasize that.)  It is meant to be what it is and always has been, a fun, non-political, brief essay on my longing for a simpler time, a simpler political world.

The post was written during a prior election season, when I still lived in Chicago, a place known for some biting, not-always-above-board politics.  A thought struck me as I watched some newscast or other:  I missed Bill Clinton.  It was a simple as that. 

And my reasons?  Well, they likely aren’t the ones you might expect, and they certainly don’t have anything to do with the mudslinging, bitter, bitter presidential race that surrounds us now. 

So here they are, in no particular order, the top six reasons I miss Bill Clinton:

(1)       He was charming.  The man literally charmed the pants (ok, dresses) off of women.  His effect on men was only marginally dissimilar.  John Travolta has been credited as saying that he was “seduced” by Clinton when he met him in 1997.  That takes a special kind of appeal, considering Travolta has never claimed to be anything but straight (yes, the tabloids have suggested otherwise but, I mean, he was Tony Manero, for God’s sake!)  But perhaps the best evidence of Clinton’s charisma is the fact that the man was impeached, yet no one seems to have noticed.  Or to even remember. 

(2)       He was comforting.  Bill could give us bad news and make it seem, well, not so bad.  Something in his tone, in the rise and fall of his voice, made me feel that in the end everything would turn out just fine.  On 9/11, I frantically flipped channels searching for his image.  I needed him to tell me everything was going to be ok.  Because I knew I would believe him.

(3)       He got the joke.  Remember the image of Clinton wiping away tears of laughter as he stood alongside Boris Yeltsin at the FDR Library in 1995?  The man found the funny in Boris Yeltsin.  Clinton’s laugh was genuine and contagious, and he wasn’t afraid to throw his head back and let it peal when the moment struck.

(4)       He reminded us of Elvis.  It wasn’t just the Southern thing – it was the Southern thing, and the hair thing, and the impromptu jam session thing and the ever-so-slightly-curled lip thing.  Even the usually humorless Secret Service noticed the resemblance and assigned the President the code name “Elvis”  (Which, by the way, is awesome.).  Like the late King himself, Clinton could work a crowd, except Slick Willie didn’t need a rhinestone jumpsuit.  

(5)       He had embarrassing relatives.  Not since the Carter Administration had America enjoyed such a dysfunctional sibling like Roger C. Clinton, Jr.  His cocaine-related conviction aside, Roger served to amuse and to remind us that even the wealthiest and most powerful among us have to deal with embarrassing family members. 

(6)       He seemed like one of us.  Bill Clinton was human.  He was flawed, for sure – he cheated on his wife, he regularly caved into his cravings for junk food and he wore wholly unattractive shorts while jogging.  Yet, in the end, those flaws may have constituted his greatest asset, as they made him relatable, they made him real.  Deep down, Clinton was just a regular guy with a remarkably exceptional job.  William Jefferson Clinton answered to “Mr. President,” but he also answered to “Bubba.”  He lived and owned up to a complicated dual identity, like many of us do:  one person at work, another at home.  But even clad in his most official-looking suit, reading his most serious-themed speech at a most official-sounding event held halfway around the world, Clinton could not fully hide the heart of the “boy from Arkansas” beating just behind the starched collar and presidential tie.  Embarrassing?  Sometimes.  Pompous?  On occasion.  Human?  Definitely.    

So, there you go.  I would respectfully ask that all comments follow Merryland Girl’s guidelines.  Criticize my writing all you want, but let’s keep the comments apolitical.  I’m not above deleting …

Thursday, October 13, 2016

There Once Was a Man From Nantucket . . .

Settling into our every-other-week posting schedule!

Here are the links to the other fabulous blogs:

Merryland Girl           
Moma Rock

            This week, Moma Rock chose the topic, and she asked us to write a poem.

            Ugh.  I don’t like poetry.  I won’t go so far as to say I hate it, but it is my least favorite form of creative writing.  There are a few poets whose work I enjoy –  to a point:  Edgar Allen Poe.  Dorothy Parker.  Ogden Nash.  I’ve always considered Dr. Seuss more of a poet than an author, and I like his books (in small doses).  Of course, there are songwriters whose lyrics feel like poetry; the first to come to mind is Neil Peart of the band Rush.  Indeed, in Eighth Grade, our English teacher forced us to read a poem to the class, and I chose the lyrics to The Trees, penned by Peart.  But I’ve never embraced poetry the way others have, and I don’t see it ever happening.

            I’ve tried to figure out why, exactly, poetry makes me cringe.  I was mulling this very thought earlier this week while listening to the podcast of a Chicago radio show that I love.  As fate would have it, that day, the hosts welcomed a local guy who had penned some poems about the Chicago Cubs (whom I do love).  They invited the guy to read his poetry and oh-my-god-please-make-it-stop!  I couldn’t stand it.  Imagine every horrible poem you wrote in a notebook in junior high school stuck together in one loooooong loooong verse.  I’m talking epic here.  Like Beowulf, but about baseball.  And in rhyme.  Rhyme!!  As a bonus, it was read in a severe Chicago accent.  I hate to be judgy, but the whole thing was patently awful (in my opinion, anyway).

            And in that moment I realized my issue with poetry:  the vast majority of the poems to which I’ve been exposed have been really, really bad.  What is usually meant to be a tribute or expression of some deep feeling usually turns out to be forced, trite drivel (in my opinion, anyway).  I’m sure there’s good poetry out there, but I won’t be searching for it, as I cannot handle combing though the chaff in search of the wheat.

            Another sticking point is all the rhyming.  I mean, I know poems don’t have to rhyme, but I also feel like most fledgling poets don’t know that.  So, when they craft a poem, they feel the need to rhyme words like “love” and “above,” or “dream” and “seem.”  And I am left to bang my head against the nearest hard surface.

            Having said all that, a few years ago, when I started this blog but before I blogged with the others, I wrote a poem.  Specifically, it was an ode – less rhyming!  In the spirit of this week’s topic, I’m including it here.  I call it, An Ode to Dr. Drew:

O, Dr. Drew Pinsky, with your white hair
And cool dark-rimmed rectangular glasses
Always toiling to save C-list celebs
From drugs that make them act like big asses

Your smooth affect and crisp ties calm my soul
As you cure Tom Sizemore and Heidi Fleiss
Your endless patience wavers not when forced
To treat Shifty and Jeff Conaway twice

Shall Pasadena ever again know
Such saintly works by a star therapist
Who was on “Loveline” and fathered triplets
And who is a self-proclaimed narcissist?

O how I heart you, dear Dr. Pinsky
Who else on earth could save Rod Stewart’s son?
You’re the reason I pay more for cable
For a line-up that includes VH1

            Yeah, move over Walt Whitman!