Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tom Friedman is back!

I saw that Tom Friedman was back writing for the New York Times, having been on a sabbatical to write a book on the environment. I am looking forward to reading his columns and getting his new book when it becomes available. He is always one of my faves, and with Paul Krugman having gone all wacky (at least at times) on me, I need it.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Whither The Daily Show (II)?

Jon Stewart skewered Hillary last night, showing her evolution of position on the role of voters in the Democratic primary system (from "the voters will decide--voters get to decide who wins" to a more recent "well, the voters play a part in the process (a very important part)"). And then there's the line that she has received more votes at the polls than any other candidate. This math works if you count of course Michigan (where Obama was not on the ballot), not to mention Florida. This sort of political expediency is what is driving a lot of us nuts.

But I refer you to my earlier post--what would have happened had Mr. Stewart been skewering her throughout the entire writers' strike? I don't know of course, and probably the answer is "not much."

And my fervent hope is that should she garner the nomination, that she beat McCain, and, most importantly, that whomever is president show some real leadership. It is a travesty that we are not even having a discussion, let alone moving toward solution, on vital issues such as global warming, Iraq, health care, the economy, etc. Global warming alone scares me, as I believe we are unleashing forces we do not understand, and may already be past the tipping point.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What's wrong with Paul Krugman?

His last editorial on the Democratic race was not comprehensible to me. I know he is a Hilary advocate and I have no problem with him using his column to argue in favor of her candidacy over Obama's, even at this late date. But his most recent column seems petty and holding Obama to a standard that he does not hold Hilary to. He criticizes Obama's criticism of economic policy over the last couple of decades, and takes him to task for lumping in the Clinton years (which he believes were pretty good). This despite her politicizing the San Francisco "bitter" remarks, which although not Obama's best political moment, seems mild in comparison. Well, if Krugman wants 4 more years of Republican presidency, he is doing a darn good job of trying to ensure it happens.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Blog Mania

Faithful readers,

I want to encourage you to visit (and mark as a favorite) Matt Farmer's blog on the Blue State Cowboys: The Blue State Cowboys is Matt's eclectic, semi-regular cover band. I've been gigging with Matt and the BSC for nearly 10 years now, since August/September 1998. We've had some very interesting gigs (Japan, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, not to mention several taverns within easy walking distance of Matt's house).

I came to the band (then the Redstreaks) through my saxophone playing buddy, Neal Connors, who went to high school in Chicago with Matt. Neal and I had met in the jazz program at the University of Illinois in the early/mid-80s, then reconnected later in life. He asked in '98 if I wanted to go up a play a gig with him in a cover band in Chicago (he really thought I might say no). On the drive up I learned the songs (let's say I listened to a tape of the songs on the way) and also learned that the band was doing a demo recording that day to send to get a gig on the military base in Iwakuni, Japan. When we walked into the studio and Neal introduced me to Matt and the fellas (basically as my buddy Rob, he plays the trumpet), it was an interesting scene. Mildly pleasant hellos (not unfriendly mind you, simply not effusive), mostly silence (all warm-up ceased) and a series of whispered conversations between Neal and Matt and furtive glances my way from Matt. I asked Neal if he had told anyone he was bringing me, and he said "not so much". When they heard I could play a little, there was a palpable look of relief from the band. By the end of the night (we had a gig at Gamekeepers, a neighborhood bar, later than evening), I was a full-fledged member of the band. The rest has been history.

One of our most memorable gigs was at a tiny tiny bar in Hiroshima (the Jacara club), where Candy Dulfer had once played (her posters were up everywhere). They opened the bar up for us (I think it was a Sunday), and had other bands in. We were treated like American rock stars and shown a great deal of love and respect. We looked smugly to ourselves when an all-Japanese blues band on the bill got up to play, then had those grins wiped off our faces when they launched into their set. A few bands later (including an incredible acoustic set by a singer and two percussionists doing American pop tunes) John Tully and Mike "Waldo" Walsh whispered to me, "We're the worst band here tonight." And they were right.

Thanks for the memories, Matt and Neal.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Costa Rica

Nathaniel and I had a great time in Costa Rica. We went with Mountain Travel Sobek, an adventure travel group based in San Francisco with whom we went to the Galapagos Islands a year and a half ago. There were 16 travelers, six of whom were high school age or younger, so lots of opportunities for Nathaniel to hang with the younger crowd. Nice couples from Chicago (with two boys), Portland (with two girls), and Toronto (two very young girls who were not on the trip). A California dad (a California professor, complete with beard (he looked all "adventury", per Nathaniel) and his 14-year old daughter. There were two Davids travelling alone, one from Cleveland and one who was an employee of MTS. The latter, now living in SanFran, is a 24-year old originally from St. Louis and was a really wonderfully nice guy. Jorge was our guide, together with about 2 to 4 helpers at any one time, depending on what we were doing at the time.

We sea kayaked for the first three days on the Pacific side of Costa Rica (camping on the beach--talk about a lot of sand in your tent!), with snorkeling on the middle day. Then we river kayaked to a neat lodge on the north/Caribbean side in Tortuguero Park (a national park devoted in large part to preserving the breeding grounds for giant sea turtles that have laid eggs there for who knows how long). The final two days were white water river rafting on the Pacuare River. This was neat, there were some Class 3 rapids (maybe even one or two that were Class 4), but we made it through just fine. We also did a really neat zip line on the last day.

We (me in particular) came back with little sun-tan--I was so freaked out about the hot Costa Rican sun that neither of us saw much sun without 30 SPF sunscreen on. We saw some amazing wildlife, most notably some small caimans (a small relative of the crocodile), as well as an actual croc or two) and many different species of monkeys (not to mention countless birds--not my favorite, but fun nonetheless).