Sunday, August 28, 2016

Over Before it's Over

I wish I could like Hillary, but I don't.  I wish I could get excited about the first woman President, but I'm not.  Marrying your way to the top is no fun. It makes it a tired idea and it hasn't even happened yet!  We all admire the athlete who leaves while he's ahead.  Or retires gracefully when he's behind.  If athletes can give up money and power, why can't people in public office ever go away on their own accord?

I was thinking about this today after reading my friend Gerry's blog about people on the rebound.  How do they get over a lost love, if they ever do.  Obama beat Hillary because he was fresh and new.  And, he ran a superb campaign with a new approach to winning.

Hillary on the rebound?  The pattern seems the same.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Every Heroic White Man

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie "Sully."  It will tell the story of the heroic pilot Sully Sullenberger who saved all of his passengers by landing his crippled plane in the Hudson River.  Sully will be played by (who else?) Tom Hanks.

It seems like whenever Hollywood wants to celebrate a heroic white man it turns to Hanks. He played James Donovan, the obscure lawyer who successfully negotiated the release of the U2 spy, Francis Gary Powers, and refused to leave the hapless student Frederic Pryor behind.

Hanks played Captain Richard Phillips who put himself in danger to save his cargo ship and crew when they were attacked by Somali pirates.

I wonder how Tom Hanks feels about all these roles?  Is he glad for the steady income for a middle-aged actor and lets it go at that?  Or, does he envy and maybe even yearns for that one "real life'" moment of smart thinking and courage that separates these heroes from the rest of us?

If I were Hanks, I know I would take pride in one iconic role that's certainly my favorite:  it's Woody from the three Toy Stories.   Let's put Woody up there with the "real life" guys.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Deciding Which Lives Matter

My young relative Abby visited the other day.  She was with her parents returning to Indiana University for her sophomore year studying American History.  I thought of her today as I read two extraordinary articles in The New Yorker.  Each in their own way contemplates history's essential point:  whoever gets to tell the story determines the characters and the plot.

Jeffrey Toobin writes about Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer devoted to death penalty defense, who is attempting to chronicle and commemorate the thousands of the people who were the victims of lynchings.  Kathryn Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer, contributes a thoughtful exploration of the many books and TV projects devoted to the Underground Railroad.  

These are old stories that never quite made it, did they?  Are they catching a wave?   Both writers warn us not to fall for the myths in the textbooks, or the myths that try to move the needle in another direction.  Can we finally go for more than comfort here?

I hope that Abby's professors will stress history's ambiguity.  That's a good perspective to have on history and on life.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sunday in the Park with Dads

It was heartening to see all of the fathers with their children in my favorite park:  sprawled on the grass with an infant; tossing the ball with their nine year old; pushing the stroller with baby and dog; manning the swing set at the playground.

I hope the moms were home with their second cup of coffee and enjoying a leisurely read of the Trib or the Times.

In some ways, it's better now.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Summer of the Passing Parade

It's time to turn our attention away from the manufactured drama of the Conventions to become immersed in that other dishonest spectacle: The Olympics.  Yes, the bureaucrats weasel their way to the top and demand to stay in place.  Countries and cities are thrown into financial ruin over the prize (?)  of hosting the games.  Bribes and drugs emerge as scandal but always live for another day. And yet . . .

I love watching the Olympics.  The Parade of Nations gives a glimpse of how things could, but never seem to be:  people from around the world wearing their national identity as they peacefully walk side by side.  The games are a benign way to harness the human urge to compete and excel.

The Conventions and the Olympics have the power to stop us in our tracks.  Last week the Muslim father woke us up with his profound dignity.  I will be looking (and hoping) for a "John Carlos moment" in Rio.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We All Need A Laugh

Al Franken is suffering from a previous career inferiority complex.  The evidence is his steadfast refusal to be funny.  For his entire first term as Senator he did not appear on TV.  He preferred to attract no publicity.  He was probably devoting himself to his conversion therapy aimed at scrubbing away all of the SNL lingering inside.

Now that he is "safe" he has been popping up here and there for interviews.  When coaxed to give us just a little of that old twinkle, Al stays serious . . . very serious.  He made an appearance at the Democratic National Convention with Sara Silverman.  I still can't believe he stood there and let Sara show him how it's done.

C'mon Al, everyone says we need diversity.  And authenticity.  And, if Republicans keep control of the Senate, our sanity is going to depend on some comic relief.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Not My Words

I have a simple cure for the outbreak of plagiarism infecting the Republican Convention.  Politicians, family and hangers on:  Write Your Own Speeches!  Then, subject them to the various web sites that catch famous phrases that may have seeped into your brain.  Or, if you don't want to spend the time or the effort to craft your speech,  at least attribute the words to the person who actually came up with them.

Peggy Noonan leaped from obscurity for delivering to Ronald Reagan the famous "touch the face of God" line in his Challenger disaster speech.  "Faulty o-rings" would have left us infinitely more shaken and sad.  Did you know that she lifted the phrase from a poem written by John Gillespie Magee, a pilot who died at 19 during WWII?  (Yes, I googled that.)

See what I mean about attribution?