Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Forget ‘Renegade’, I like ‘Count Chocula’ November 12, 2008

Monster Cereals

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So first off, how is it a code name if everybody knows it?

I think that might be a Buddhist koan, like “When the many are reduced to one, to what is the one reduced?” or “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Quite possibly, one of you has just achieved enlightenment while pondering that…


Meanwhile, the Secret Service recently released the recently assigned ‘code names’ for the new presidency:

“Renegade” (Barack), “Renaissance” (Michelle), “Radiance” (Malia) and “Rosebud” (Sasha).

Soon to move out of the White House are Tumbler (like the kind you put whiskey in?) and Tango. The twins went by Twinkle and Turquoise (but I don’t know which was which).

Looking back at years gone by, we find that Clinton was Eagle, Hillary was Evergreen, and Chelsea was Energy. Ho hum.

  • George Sr. and Barbara were Timberwolf and Tranquility.
  • Ronald Regan was Rawhide (no doubt the most apropos of the bunch) and Nancy was Rainbow. I also learned that “Rosebud” has already been assigned out to Maureen Reagan, so if Maureen and Sasha are ever at the same event, prepare for some mass confusion.
  • Jimmy and Rosalyn were “Dasher” and “Dancer”, respectively but they dropped the ball with Amy and went with Dynamo. What’s wrong with Vixen or Comet!? Donner? Blitzen?
  • Gerald Ford and his wife Betty were – Passkey and Pinafore. Hindsight indicates “Dumber” and “Drunker” might have been more apropos, but live and learn.

Anyway, we’re obviously seeing a pattern here. Apparently the tradition is to keep the code names starting with the same letter, but if you ask me, that’s barely one step above naming Hurricanes.

Personally, I’d like to see a little more of a nod toward pop culture. It’s a brave new world. Let’s get the kids involved. What’s wrong with a little Southpark? Chef, Butters, Kenny, and Tweek?

Or perhaps you prefer  Disco Stu, Monty, Homer, and Apu?

A stroll through the local grocery suggests all kinds of ideas: Velveeta, Twinkie, Chef Boyardee, and Juicy Juice, perhaps?

Count Chocula, Trix, Fruity Pebbles, and Wheatabix?

Hmmmmmm….  I don’t know about you, but I’m digging the Count Chocula. Barack would make an excellent Count Chocula. If I were the Count Chocula people, I would be working hard to make this happen. Maybe a year’s supply for everyone in the household?

You know, it’s even possible to stay within the flavors of monster cereal and take care of the whole family: Count Chocula, Yummy Mummy, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry.

Houston, I think we have a winner!

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It’s a small world, after all November 5, 2008

Mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Mural in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Having spent the last three months in 21 countries, I can unreservedly testify that America had lost the respect of the world. George Bush had become a symbol of hate and greed, and these qualities were extended to the whole nation and its citizens. What everyone else thinks of us may not matter, but it still pleases me to see the international impact of the election of Barack Obama.

 

 

In the last several months I have met many people, from Iceland to Istanbul who said that America – a country founded on slavery – could not and would not elect a black man as President. Bear in mind, they all wanted us to, they just saw America as a nation far too divided to come together in that regard. It’s no exaggeration to say that everyone born in this country has grown up in the shadow of racism. Terrible injustice is part of our country’s founding, and although no one alive today had a direct hand in slavery and most of our ancestors didn’t either, it is a burden we all carry.

 

In New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink, he talks about an idea called “institutional racism”. Essentially, the argument is that we’re all subconsciously racist – even civil rights activists, minorities, and the mixed-race author himself. This tendency comes to a great degree from implicit information we receive from the time we’re born – i.e. countless movies and TV shows where a young black man is a criminal. Essentially the argument is that these feelings can exist despite our conscious ideals or emotions (and if you’re intrigued to test yourself, you can take the implicit association test online at www.implicit.harvard.edu. I just went out there to make sure the link was still valid, and found that they added an additional election-based test as well.)

 

I took it again and got the same results as last time: For whatever reasons it turns out that I am not unconsciously or subconsciously prejudice (I tested as ‘Your data suggests no automatic preference for White people or Black people’ – I dislike everyone equally. KIDDING!). On the election test, I rated as “Your data suggests a strong automatic preference for Barack Obama over John McCain.”

I’ll be frank and say this surprises me, only in that I once lived in a really bad Crip (gang) neighborhood and had some deeply terrifying experiences. In my head I’ve never experienced a prejudice directed at any race, but I kind of worried some of what happened got into me and may have made me so. Anyway, I am glad to see that along with my own lack of pre-judgement, perhaps our national institutional racism is a little bit less? Or if not, last night’s election results will push the scales in that direction. Despite all the political propaganda, extreme allegations, general fear mongering, and Mr. Obama’s extremely unfortunate middle name, he was elected. I, for one, am proud of America.

 

And the world is, too. I ran across an AP article (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081105/ap_on_re_as/us_elections_world_view) with feedback that made me proud of us:

 

People across Africa stayed up all night or woke before dawn to watch U.S. history being made, while the president of Kenya — where Obama’s father was born — declared a public holiday.

Many expressed amazement and satisfaction that the United States could overcome centuries of racial strife and elect an African-American as president.

Poland‘s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski spoke of “a new America with a new credit of trust in the world.”

Venezuela and Bolivia, which booted out the U.S. ambassadors after accusing the Bush administration of meddling in their internal politics, said they were ready to reestablish diplomatic relations, and on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, people expressed a mixture of joy, disbelief, and hope for the future

“What an inspiration. He is the first truly global U.S. president the world has ever had,” said Pracha Kanjananont, a 29-year-old Thai sitting at a Starbuck’s in Bangkok. “He had an Asian childhood, African parentage and has a Middle Eastern name. He is a truly global president.”

“This is the fall of the Berlin Wall times ten,” Rama Yade, France‘s black junior minister for human rights, told French radio. “America is rebecoming a New World. On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes.”

Me in front of the Belfast mural back in August

Me in front of the Belfast mural back in August

 

 

These comments really brought home the reality of what a tiny planet this is in so many ways, and what everyone who doesn’t live here believes: What befalls America befalls the world – financially, politically, and personally. Even if he wasn’t your first choice, I hope that you can take solace in the tremendous step forward this is for our nation. We have an almost clean slate, and yet another opportunity to get it right for the good of the world, and I deeply hope that we do. And if not, let’s elect a black woman next time and REALLY get things straightened out.

Oprah, you out there?  😉

 

Three impossible things before bedtime August 30, 2008

On the beach in Sitges, Spain with 800 of my closest friends

On the beach in Sitges, Spain with 800 of my closest friends

Okay, so I owe a better update than this, but it’s super late, and I’ve decided to take the early train route to Lourdes, and I’ll have about a kajillion hours tomorrow to compose some lengthy thoughts for you.

That stated, let me share three key points:

1. Looking at the Sagrada Familia today, I cannot believe no one has built a casino based on this – yet – in Vegas. Better yet, Barcelona, The Casino. It would SO TOTALLY work. Gaudi’s works alone would springboard the Strip to the next level. Screw all these homages to Italy, where’s the phantasmagoria???

2. In researching Lourdes, I happened to discover that the Catholic Church is in the process of declaring the same Gaudi a saint. From this very interesting (and timely) article that popped up in the sidebar of a priest’s or nun’s or pilgrim’s Lourdes journal, “

A statue of Antonio Gaudi y Cornet in front of his Sagrada Familia Cathedral.When in 1926 God’s architect was run over by a No. 30 tram on his way to evening prayer, he was mistaken for a beggar and taken to Barcelona’s pauper hospital. His friends found him there the next day. But Antoni Gaudí refused to leave. “Here is where I belong”, he told them. He had always wanted to leave this world poor and did, two days later, aged 74, honoured by a city which universally acknowledged him to be both an artistic genius and a saint.

If it went through, he’d be the first professional anything to be made a saint. Also, note to self: Be very careful around the Barcelona trams.

3. I had this totally crazy dream last night that I was hanging out with Barack Obama and George Bush. I was egging them on to arm wrestle, and I guess Bush liked the abuse, because he came up to me afterward and was hitting on me something fierce. It was so out of line and in your face, but it was also so ridiculous and so ludicrous that I was trying to memorize every word, as I could not WAIT to tell my friends.