Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It has been a week since the inauguration of President Obama. It has taken me this long to digest my feelings on the day.

First of all, Justice John Robert. DAYYYYMMMMMMMM! What a dumbass. I have had that oath memorized since 4th grade. Obama, a Harvard Professor, I am sure also had it memorized for just as long. As he stood there, hand raised, you could see in his eyes that Obama was thinking, "Don't make me slap you with this hand!"

I was slightly disappointed in the speech which was more like a State of the Union than an Inaugural. Inaugurals are supposed to be the president's vision for his administration. It is supposed to be filled with allusions and a painting of words not a detail of plans; there will be plenty of time to get into all of that once you're actually in the Oval Office.

Granted, Obama has allot of hope and hype built up around him but he has given much better speeches. Political junkies like me can either quote large sections or, at least, sing along with Kennedy's Inaugural. When Kennedy's tenor voice yelled out that day for everyone listening to join him in the challenges ahead you were ready to jump to your feet and hit the ground running. This speech ended with the trite and boring "...and God bless the United States of America."

There were good spots and it reads on the page better than he delivered. Possibly he was nervous. Who wouldn't be standing in front of 2.5 million people? Missing from this speech was his "Sunday morning preacher" cadences; he seemed to be rushing through the whole thing.

Repetition and sets of three on a theme are basics in good speech writing. There are examples in this speech:

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

There are beats and moments for emphasis which are built into these phrases, yet the plowed through each phrase as if it were one complete sentence.

The slams on the previous administration were just enough; he paid respect to W in his opening but made it clear there's a new sheriff in town.

My favorite section; which again reads better on the page than Obama's express delivery was:

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

We are not just entitled to "the pursuit" of happiness but "full measure of happiness".


The one thing which is VERY apparent is that we have a President who KNOWS how to deliver a speech which does not sound like a used car sales pitch.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My first venture into Miami since moving here…and I got lost.

I finally worked out getting together with my son for the first time since July. On the drive down there I decided that we wouldn’t do the usual; go to lunch and a movie where we just stare at a screen for two hours and not really talk with each other. Recently, on the Travel Channel, Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” did a show from Miami where he visited a very interesting looking Creole restaurant called Chef Creole.

When I arrived, after busting John’s chops about “how much he had grown since the last time I saw him”, I offered the idea and he agreed. We looked it up on the internet and printed out directions. It looked as if the restaurant wasn’t all too far from Jackie Gleason’s grave, which I have always wanted to visit since moving here, so we planned an afternoon’s mini-roadtrip.

Of course, it’s all in the details. A quick read of the directions pointed us towards the Florida Turnpike and, as we quickly read, towards exit 6. Confidant that I was familiar with where we were headed we drove off with appetites ready for a spicy lunch and an afternoon of male bonding. Turns out we got plenty of time for both as the restaurant was off exit 6 of Interstate 95 and not the Turnpike which meant we had gone almost 50 miles south of where we wanted to be. This was quite evident when we stopped for directions and this guy looked at me as if I were asking for direction to some place on the far side of the planet.

After turning ourselves around and snaking our way from one side of Miami to the other we found Chef Creole. A small, open air place which serves deli/fast food style but offers some fantastic tasting food. John had an amazing pork dish and I had stewed conch. My plate was loaded with humongous pieces of conch floating in a spice loaded bath.


Oops, wrong food show. Bourdain would kill me!

Of course, all of the extra driving time gave us a chance to catch up. In the car we talked about family issues, plans for after graduation, movies, comic books and every thing else…just another day between father and son.

One of the best things about our relationship is that he can make me laugh. Not just a chuckle and “Awwwww, ain’t he cute”, as when he was little. This is an outright, gut busting belly laugh. He has inherited the family sense of humor and irony. He also has my twisted way of looking at things. He knows that something he finds hilarious, but that will only make his friends and girlfriend only shake their heads, he knows he can share with me and we can laugh together like idiots.

Genetics is a wonderful thing!

As I have possibly mentioned before, the extended absence led to me obsessing over whether or not time had done damage to our relationship and that he was pulling away from me. From the moment we hugged at the door it was as if not even a moment had passed.

ME? Obsess??? Nooooooooooooooooooooo.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

I just watched the concert at the Lincoln Memorial. While it was a great show (How could you beat Garth Brooks leading all those people in "Shout!") the best part of the show for me was watching this little girl.

She is the daughter of the new Director of the VA, Gen. Eric Shinseki. This little girl was zonked out and sound asleep through 90% of the concert. While music blared and the crowd cheered she slept. The only movement from her during the show was when she was shuffled from one parents' shoulder to another about halfway through the show.

20 years from now people will be asking her where she was during this moment in history. If I were her parents, I'd be sure to have a copy of footage from the concert always at the ready.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sometimes, things that happen in my life are too funny NOT to be real. The following could not have been written any better by Neil Simon or Woody Allen.

Where I sit at work, I have one good friend, Frannie, whom I have know for 5 years and directly behind me if Brittany. She is 19 and knockdown gorgeous. She also is a very sweet girl and fun to talk with. As always, in between calls we were talking when she turns to me and says the following:

"Jack, if you had a 19 year old daughter what is the oldest guy you would want her to date?"

As I looked over at my "good friend", Frannie, I could see her shoulders jumping up and down as she fought to laugh quietly to herself.

Apparently, I thought, she had no idea who she was talking to. "Well," I said when I finally was able to come up with an answer, "Personally, I'd have to say 46, Why, are you asking?!"

Frannie then laughed out loud. I then proceeded to give Brittany a brief history of my recent dating luck when "Dr. Phil" waled by. I had Brittany tell her what she had asked me.

Dr. Phil almost fell on the floor laughing. I had brought her in on this because I thought she'd enjoy the laugh. That's when the laugh turned on me.

Brittany went on to explain that she was thinking of a slightly older guy she knew and of a scene in something she had see on TV where these 40-ish women are talking about going out clubbing when they turn to the one in the group who apparently has an older husband and she says, "No, I can't go. His doctor is releasing him from the hospital and I have to go pick him up."

Dr. Phil had promised to be using this against me many times in the future.

It's good to have friends!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years is usually a time to recap and look ahead. This year seems to be the perfect year to do that with. I sit here alone as my son has opted to stay and work at his fast food job. I am not actually sitting, as more hunched over the computer as my back problem has flared up again and I walk around all day doing my Igor impression.

To add to this I just got off the phone with Julie.

pause while you shake your head

Just like always, just when I stop thinking about her she comes back. All of those conversations I had practices months ago were lost although I very clearly let her know that her leaving had an affect on me. She DID say she was sorry; which I guess is something. My strongest moment in the conversation was when she mentioned her daughters and I said, "Well, I DID certainly miss the girls." Followed by a long silence.

She has been having more problems with her ex (gee, what a shock, eh?) and is moving back here to Florida. We closed the conversation saying we would talk more when she got settled.

I really don't know what will happen when we do talk. I know every one reading this would probably like to slap me upside the head just in case. But just so you don't think I'll be standing there with the door wide open for her again, I found this little gem which fits perfectly with most of the relationships in my life.