Friday, August 31, 2012

Summary of the Republican National Convention

I almost don't want to write about the just concluding Republican National Convention because the photo above summarizes it perfectly. Clint Eastwood's rambling 12-minute schtick will likely be the most memorable image of the 2012 RNC. In fact, when Saturday Night Live has its opening show for the new season, chances are pretty high that they will spoof this moment in the first skit before the "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night!" introduction.

There was not much to like about the convention. As expected, there were few minorities on the delegate floor. In fact, on the opening night, I mentioned on Facebook that I would have one alcoholic drink for every African American delegate that I saw. I saw one African American lady in a fancy dress. So, that was one mojito for me at my Wednesday discussion group. Ann Romney came across as a typical Mormon wife. Pure "Stepford Wife". She claimed that Mitt Romney's sense of humour won her over when they were just getting to know each other. Really? He's about as humourless as any zealot. As far as speeches go, I actually liked Condoleezza Rice's speech. In fact, it wasn't long until I heard people talking about her running for president in 2016. She's actually someone I could support for the first female president, but hopefully the Democrats will have a few options in 2016.

Paul Ryan's speech was full of lies, the biggest one being that he claimed that President Obama had closed a factory in his town and Congressional District. The problem with that is facts are stubborn things. Fact checkers pointed out that it was actually President Bush's policies that caused the factory to close and there are photos of the factory's employees holding a sign with a date of December 2008. You have to wonder about a political party that is okay with such blatant lies that can easily be refuted by documented facts and photographs. It's like Republicans aren't interested in hiding their deceit anymore. That's what a culture of Fox News will do: make blatant lying so acceptable in public discourse that no one ever faces the consequences of their lies. It should be the case that once caught in a blatant lie, the person's credibility is tarnished and no one pays any attention to them. But surprisingly, even Fox News called out Paul Ryan on the lies he told in his nomination speech.

One of the most telling aspects of the RNC is that Bush's name is rarely mentioned. In fact, I only heard it once when Condoleezza Rice mentioned it. There were plenty of speakers saying that Obama needs to stop blaming Bush for the economy, but not a single word taking responsibility for what happened to America in the Bush years. Yeah, they can ask him not to come and not mention his name in hopes of tricking Americans into believing once again that this party really cares about anyone who isn't wealthy, white, and male.

Interestingly, there were no speeches by Sarah Palin (she even lost her contract with Fox this week), Michele Bachmann, or Herman Cain. It's like Romney hoped that by keeping the crazies out, that Americans won't be reminded of what we all witnessed in the spring during the debates. Jeb Bush actually spoke and defended his brother. As The Daily Show cleverly pointed out in their coverage of this convention, this convention is "The Road to Jeb Bush 2016". If anyone should know the truth about Dubya, it's Jeb. They are brothers and Jeb has seen Dubya make a mess of his life over and over again, including the bankrupting of at least two companies that Dubya was CEO of (Arbusto and Harken Energy). Dubya was never held accountable and from a spiritual standpoint, you keep repeating the lesson until you "get it." Unfortunately for the country and the world, Dubya was allowed to repeat his incompetent management style with our government and did exactly the same thing that he did to those energy companies. Jeb has long dreamed of being president, but seeing his speech made me confident that he will likely never be president. He lacks the charisma and the telegenic looks that our media-saturated 24-hour news requires.

Then there's Clint Eastwood, who had angered conservatives earlier this year when a commercial he starred in ran during the Superbowl in which he praised the comeback of the auto industry, which many thought was an endorsement of President Obama. He seemed neutral, as when questioned about it, he said that any politician could run with the ad if they wanted to. He didn't care.

There were rumours that Donald Trump was going to be the mystery guest speaker and that he was going to do the "You're fired!" routine (with his trademark Cobra strike gesture as he says it). I bet it was poll tested, though, and the Republicans thought it was too risky. They are trying to win over the independent voters with this political pep rally, after all. Clint Eastwood is popular. Even I like him. I grew up on some of his movies and I especially love the ones has directed recently (such as Invictus, Hereafter, and 1997's Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil). In the mid-1980s, he was elected mayor of Carmel-by-the-sea, California. At this convention, though, he made no mention of his "socially liberal" views. Instead, he spoke to a chair (representing President Obama) in an unscripted, rambling mess. He said a few times, "No, I'm not going to tell Mitt Romney that. You can't even do that to yourself. I can't do that to myself." There were some laughter among the delegates, but not much. I wondered if they were just as horrified as those watching it on TV. Its obvious that he was implying that President Obama was saying "Go fuck yourself", which comes across as disrespectful. If any president is likely to say something like that, it would've been Richard Nixon (who had an enemies list and called Henry Kissinger his "Jew boy").

The routine was an embarrassing moment for Clint. I bet this will be made fun of at the Oscars next year. It really is that embarrassing, and irresistible. However, I hope the Democrats don't try a similar stunt at the DNC next week. We need to take the higher ground. A mystery guest speaker is scheduled and I'm hoping that it will be George Clooney, but in light of Eastwood's disaster, Morgan Freeman would make an excellent choice. Freeman and Eastwood are friends, so it would be an excellent display of contrast if Freeman showed the country how to give a dignified speech.

Senator Marco Rubio came after Eastwood and served to introduce Mitt Romney for the highlight of the convention. I was very interested in his speech because I wanted to know if he would mention his church by name. In fact, on Facebook, I said that if Romney testifies that the LDS Church is true during his speech, that I would get a tattoo! I felt safe saying that (I don't want a tattoo) and I was right. He only mentioned "Mormon" once and it was in the context of playing with friends of other churches and how they focused on what they had in common, such as sports. Lame!

Romney looked awful during his speech. The make up was obvious and to me, he looked like a talking corpse. Who did his makeup, the mortician? There was little energy emanating from him and the crowd even looked bored. His voice made strange inflections that I was used to at BYU, because it means that people are trying to convey a sense of reverence in speaking that way. There were moments when he paused and just looked strange (like he was not happy to be there). Most of all, though, he lied in his speech. He claimed that America came together after the last election and rallied around the president and tried to help him succeed. Romney even stated that he wanted the president to succeed. Uh, what planet was he on the past four years? Did he not see those teabagger rallies with the racist signs that popped up near Tax Day 2009 and continued through the summer with the anti-health care rants? The last president that Americans actually rallied around after an election was George Herbert Walker Bush on January 20, 1989. America has been politically divisive since 1992.

What a wasted week. No truth, no specifics, no taking responsibility for what their last president did to the country. All they have to offer America is a man no one except 4% of Americans want (I came to that number by adding the 1% who hold the majority of the country's wealth, plus the approximately 3% of the population who are Mormons, even though it might just be 85-90% of Mormons that will vote for him). He has no ideas, no compelling reason to be president, no charisma, no integrity. And his delivery of the most important speech of his life reminded me of this scene from Police Academy. At least that shit was funny! If Romney becomes president, though, we won't be laughing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Politics of Weather

For the second consecutive Republican National Convention, a hurricane has caused the opening day to be cancelled. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav threatened to hit New Orleans at the start of the RNC in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota. Though the Twin Cities are quite safe from any hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Gustav's timing proved a public relations nightmare for the political party that saw its president rendered completely impotent on August 29th, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina turned the Big Easy into the American Venice. President Bush's approval ratings sank below the 50% mark and never crossed into the majority for the remainder of his second term.

What Gustav managed to do, though, was cause the Republicans to cancel on the very night that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were scheduled to give speeches to the conventioneers. This actually worked to McCain's benefit, as he didn't really want that duo to speak at his convention and remind Americans about the party in power.

Here we are in 2012 and another hurricane had the good timing to arrive on the U.S. coastline just as the Republican National Convention is ready to start. There were early projections that it might head towards Tampa, which would have turned the convention center site into a convenient hurricane shelter. Rush Limbaugh even managed to blame Obama for the hurricane, as though our president had the Godlike powers to create a hurricane out of thin air and wreak havoc on the Republican's party. When natural disasters strike liberal cities in the U.S. for foreign countries, Pat Robertson (and Jerry Falwell when he was alive) love to claim that God was punishing the location for their sinful ways. However, this time, Robertson seems to have lost his voice. I haven't heard him release any kind of statement. How convenient!

Well, Tampa got spared. Isaac is making a beeline towards New Orleans, and is expected to arrive there tomorrow on the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The timing is amazing. Is God, the Universe, or Mother Nature trying to send a message? Especially when the Republican Party is still promoting their small government / Ayn Rand propaganda nonsense. Grover Norquist is famous for saying that the just wanted to shrink government to the size where it could drown in the bathtub. That's exactly what Katrina showed us. When you elect a bunch of anti-government corporate businessmen to run the country, you will get graft and incompetence. Bush had appointed Michael Brown the head of FEMA, who had zero experience in disaster relief organizations. His biggest claim to fame involved horse trading.

Let me make this clear, though. I do not believe that God causes natural disasters. I believe that God created our world with natural laws and allows it to operate on its own. I also believe that humanity has a symbiotic relationship with our Mother Earth. We are poisoning the planet and depleting resources at an unsustainable rate. For whatever reason that Isaac has decided to show up at this time, on this anniversary date, I think we should pay attention because if Americans elect the duo being coronated in Tampa this week, we are likely to experience destruction the likes we've never seen. Not to be alarmist, but I simply do not understand why anyone would vote for a candidate who claims to hate government. After all, there is not a single corporation that will hire as a CEO anyone who claims to hate business. People with business degrees should get jobs in the corporate world. Those with political science, economics, or legal degrees should work in government. Think about this: would you rather buy a car from an autoworker who hated his job or one who loved his job?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Music Video Monday: Fun



For this week's music video, I chose the song "Some Nights" by a group called Fun, which I had never heard of until last week. In fact, I learned that this song was released in June and I only learned about it last week at work when I was doing research on a Patsy Cline song ("One Day At a Time"). A strange thing happened. I was trying to find info that Patsy Cline had actually recorded the song "One Day At a Time" for my job. Interesting enough, this song was considered my grandparents' song. At my grandmother's funeral, grandpa wanted this song to be played during the memorial service. I had never heard it before. I could not find evidence that Patsy Cline sang it, either. But when I was on a website researching it, a box appeared on the screen that played a clip of "Some Nights" and I was taken by the melody and had to find out what it was. This song scores a perfect 10 in my book. I love the melody changes, the pounding drums, and the rhythms that sound like some African tribal beat. The Civil War themed music video is interesting, as well.

I'm truly glad that I learned about this song from complete serendipitous luck. I haven't listened to a music station on the radio in two years, so I have no idea what might be current unless I hear it by other means. I love it when a piece of music finds me, the way "Some Nights" managed to, just like "A Better Man" was able to in 2000. It reminds me of the magical nature of our universe.

Hope you enjoy!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saving a Life

After work yesterday, I had debated whether to go home or to go ahead downtown for the final Flicks on the Bricks, even though a friend bailed on me due to the supposed "heat". Yeah, it was hot outside, but as I know from living here the past six years, once the sun sets, the temperature always drops considerably. Often, you do need a jacket in the evenings even in the heat of summer. That's one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to live in this part of the country. The climate suits me better than any other place in America. Mild but rainy winters, and mild and sunny summers with the occasional heatwaves. Perfect!

So, I took the bus to the 82nd Avenue MAX stop. While waiting for the train, in which the electronic board said would arrive in five minutes, I noticed one guy stumble off the east bound MAX. He did not have a shirt on or socks and shoes. He sat on the bench and called someone. I returned to reading my book. At some point, he walked next to me and proceeded to fall off the platform, and hit the train tracks hard, but he didn't fall down. Instead, he managed to run into the fence on the other side of the tracks. He hit it pretty hard. Those of us on the pier were stunned and frozen. One man jumped down and walked over to help him walk back to the platform, but he shook the guy off and walked by himself before falling flat in between the tracks.

One lady on the pier kept shouting at him: "Stop faking it!" and "You need to get out of there right now!" She just yelled it over and over, while he wasn't moving. I was growing more horrified that no one was making a move to help him and I had no idea when the train was coming. I knew it was less than five minutes. I had my messenger bag, a hand bag with snacks, and a folding chair. But no one was going down to get him, so I jumped down and tried to lift him up. He was so heavy (I'd guess about 200 pounds) and I have no idea how I was able to get him up on the platform. I had to lift his legs up and onto the platform after I got most of his body on the platform. He just laid there like a dead fish, at the very edge, so I had to move him away from the edge. He did not like it one bit.

The yelling lady started telling people to call 9-1-1, but he kept saying, "No, no! Don't call 9-1-1!" I didn't understand why. One lady came over and knelt down and spoke to him like a child. She asked, "Have you drank any water today?" He claimed that he had. It was difficult to know what was wrong with him. He was unable to walk in a straight line. I know that much, because that was how he fell off the platform right in front of me. Had I known that he would do that, I would have blocked him from the edge of the platform. Anyhow, I was shocked that when I looked at my hand, I had his blood all over it. He was bleeding from his underarm area where I had lifted him, and he had cut one of his toes. What shocked me the most is that he seemed like he did not feel any of the pain that anyone who fell the way he did would have felt. This made me suspect that he was on drugs.

He stood up and the MAX finally came down the tracks. Inexplicably, he indicated that he was going to walk forward, but I used my folding chair to block him. He told me to get out of his way or else he would punch me. I just kept the chair in front of him, like a gate. I asked if he was trying to kill himself and he said, "no!" The lady who did most of the yelling finally forced him to sit on the bench and indicated that the police would arrive soon. I got on that train, completely shaking. I have rarely felt this kind of horror in my life and it was sad to see someone in this kind of state. He did not seem to be operating with full awareness so he might not actually know how close he was to being run over by the train.

I was so upset by it that I felt tears building, but I willed myself not to cry (I was on a train, after all). I kept thinking why people just watched the whole thing. If I had decided to go home instead of downtown, would anyone have rescued him from the tracks before the train arrived? Would the 11 o'clock news report on a man who was run over by MAX? I did do a Google search when I got home and there was no information about any incident at the 82nd Avenue MAX station. I did see some older articles from a few years ago where people were run over by MAX, so it has happened before. This is probably the first time in my life where I actually saved someone's life. So why did it not feel so good? I felt horrified all the way to Pioneer Square, with a stop at Cafe Yumm! to pick up my weekly dinner, as well as to wash my hands of his blood. I hope that this man's life will amount to something. It's sad to me whenever I see people drunk or on drugs. Whatever pains in one's life, self-medication into numbness is not the way to do it. What's scary is that this man was so out of it that his safety was purely dependent upon the kindness of strangers.

I do believe that my spirit guide was with me at that moment, helping to give me strength to lift this heavy man onto the platform before the train came to run us both over. I'm reading an excellent book about the afterlife and the role of our spirit guides, so this was a perfect object lesson for me. Who knows what ripple effect this might have?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Flashback Friday: E.T.

One of my favourite annual Portland traditions is "Flicks on the Bricks." Each summer at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, known as "Portland's Living Room", they have a giant inflatable screen to show a classic film every Friday for a month. This year's line up included Karate Kid (from 1984), Clueless, A League of Their Own, and E.T. I've been to at least one each year since 2006, the summer I moved to Portland. I wanted to see all of them this summer, but due to the Olympics and my not living downtown, I decided that I could only make it to the final one: E.T., which plays tonight.

This classic from 1982 has been on my Top Ten Favourite Films of All Time since I first saw it in theaters as a child. I'm the same age as Henry Thomas, who played Elliott, so this film has some personal relevance to me (it was easy to imagine myself as Elliott, because like him, I had an older brother, and a cute younger sister). I remember when the film came out, there was an article in one of the news weekly magazines that my dad subscribed to. The article talked about Steven Spielberg's two films: E.T. and Poltergeist. There were photos from both movies and I think the photo from Poltergeist looked scary, plus E.T. looked pretty scary to an 10 year old. I thought they were the same movie, though. When dad took the family to see E.T., I thought it was going to be a scary movie, based on that article and the photo of E.T.

While there are some scary moments for a kid, it was hard not to love E.T. The film is brilliant in getting the audience to see past the strange grotesqueness of the alien species and realize that in its own way, E.T. actually is a cute looking alien. Like millions of other people, I loved the movie and saw it a few times in the theater. My dad is a big science fiction guy, so I have him to thank for taking the family to see movies like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Star Wars films, as well as duds like The Black Hole, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was an inspiring film and really touched me.

In 2002, Spielberg released a "Special Edition" for theaters to mark the film's 20th anniversary, and possibly return the film to the top of the box office charts as the highest grossing film of all time, which it had enjoyed from the time it was released (surpassing Star Wars) until Titanic came along in 1997. Spielberg might have been inspired by his friend George Lucas' "special edition" re-releases of the original trilogy, but it turned out to be a dud. There were a few new scenes added into the film (E.T. playing in the bathroom, particularly almost drowning in the tub) and the ridiculous "political correctness" that changed the word "terrorist" to "hippie" (what the mother says to her eldest son regarding his Halloween costume: "You can't wear that. You look like a hippie!" Yeah, right. "Terrorist" worked. Why change it? Because of 9/11?). Also, Spielberg changed the guns in the hands of the police officers into walkie talkies. It looks silly, because from the way the fingers are formed, you can tell that they were holding guns (with fingers on the trigger). It was lame. Why mess with a movie that proved its perfection? It would not have been such a huge phenomenon if there were flaws in the film. It worked. The film resonated with audiences.

Around the time of the 20th anniversary re-release, I ran into controversy at work. I was working at the Atlanta Area Council, and still 7 months into the job. I was thinking about why the movie resonated with people at a deep level and then it hit me. E.T.'s storyline is similar to Jesus! Without realizing it, people were affected by the story and its a story that nearly everyone who grew up in a country with a Christian heritage ought to be familiar with. Think about it: Like Jesus, E.T. heals the wounded, he is popular with children, he dies, he resurrects, and then he ascends into the heavens. Before he departs the planet, he tells Elliott that he will always be with him. All those are things that Jesus was reported to have done. When I told co-workers: "E.T. is a metaphor for Jesus," I got laughed at and made fun of. I explained my rationale why and they still thought it absurd. What that told me, though, is that people are too literal in their thinking. They don't know what a "metaphor" means. And it's not as though Jesus originated the whole "healer who dies, resurrects, and ascends into the heavens" idea. There have been quite a few gods in ancient history who had similar trajectories. That's what studying mythologies, or reading Joseph Campbell will do to you. So laugh all you want, but I believe it is true. E.T.'s storyline was taken straight from the New Testament. Think of it as a spiritual tale for the modern age.

I have this film on DVD, but it has been awhile since I've seen it, so I look forward to enjoying it with an audience again tonight. It is interesting that of all the actors in the film, Drew Barrymore became the most successful. Especially when you consider how wild her childhood and adolescent years were. She nearly self-destructed but has become an adorable lady who has an interesting track record as actress and producer. Henry Thomas has been in a few roles, but not enough to keep him in the spotlight. It would be interesting to meet him. From the little that I know about him, I think he and I might've been natural friends as children. Other kids made fun of him for being in the movie (I'm sure the joke about Uranus was repeated to him endlessly by classmates who were likely to be acting out their jealousy in a nasty way). It would be cool to see him have a major role in a mainstream and successful film. C'mon, Hollywood. Give the guy a chance to make a major comeback!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chick-Fil-Hate

Two weeks ago, Mike Huckabee designated August 1st as "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day". He encouraged his listeners to show their support for this fast food chain by eating there on the first day in August. This was in response to a recent controversy when the owner of the restaurant made some remarks about not supporting gay marriage. Instant manufactured political controversy. Every August, our country seems to go through some faux-outrage controversy. Its considered a "slow news month" so that's the reason why our media will focus on missing white women, shark attacks, claims of finding Big Foot, or the most outrageous one of all: in 2006, some American guy living in Thailand claimed to be the one who murdered JonBenet Ramsey (the tyke beauty queen who was found dead in 1996). The media obsessed over that story and he returned to the U.S. to face legal action, only to find out that there was no way he was the guy (still, one has to be pretty sick to claim a murder that he did not commit, especially when he has a strange history regarding women in the first place).

I was hoping that this August might have a little substance, since the Olympics and the Republican National Convention would take up a good chunk of it. Nope. The first day of the month started with a manufactured cultural war crisis. I could tell from the postings on Facebook that this got serious attention, pro and con. My conservative friends mentioned going to eat Chick-Fil-A on that day. My liberal friends were knocking the restaurant. Amusing memes were passed along. I even saw a hilarious video of some gay guy acting like he's working the front counter at one, as Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Herman Cain show up for their meal. It was pretty funny.

My opinion is that I have little patience for overheated / overblown controversies such as this. It served to distract from the growing narrative that demanded Romney show more of his tax returns than the partials he has shown for just two years. Controversies such as this was good for Romney. It took the heat off of him. I want to see his tax returns. I couldn't care less about Chick-Fil-A. There aren't any in Portland, so there was nothing to boycott. I will admit, though, that I do like Chick-Fil-A. I ate lunch there when I visited a friend in South Carolina last year. I love their waffle fries and their lemonade. The char-grilled chicken sandwich is pretty good, too. If I lived in a place that had the restaurant, I'm not sure that I would boycott them, but I certainly would not have eaten there on August 1st.

When a photo appeared of Todd and Sarah Palin holding their order, it made me sick. Anything to maintain her strange relationship with her fanbase, the teabaggers who eat this shit up like hash browns and grits. It appears as though she has to jump into every national controversy to show that she's squarely on the side of bigotry, religiosity, and faux outrage. She's a cultural warrior chasing after fool's gold. This does not increase her stature at all. It just cements her image in the mind of most people that she's clueless and petty. Oh well. Her fans may love it, but it'll be interesting to hear what they think about her not being invited to the Republican National Convention at the end of this month. The star of the 2008 Convention has finally flamed out into irrelevance. Finally! Thank God!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Music Video Monday: Take That



For this week's music video, I selected "Rule the World" by Take That, which was sung at last night's Closing Ceremonies of the London Olympic Games. It's not a favorite of mine. I thought a better song to sing would have been "Never Forget" or "Greatest Day."

Most Americans probably never heard of Take That. They were a boy band that gained popularity in Europe in the mid-1990s. I think they are the best boy band ever, because they had an interesting dynamic and a lot of songs that I like. They are also around the same age as me, so while they were making teenage girls swoon all over England and Europe, I was in the Navy stationed in the Mediterranean, where bars would blast their hit song "Pray" all summer long in 1993. They scored one hit song in the U.S. in the summer of 1995, "Back for Good." The group broke up around that time because of the antics of Robbie Williams, who was not a team player. He went on to have a successful solo career in the U.K. and Europe. I like both Robbie Williams (he has a great ear for music and a wicked sense of humour, as you can tell by the clever lyrics in his songs) and Take That. Robbie Williams was the wrong guy for a group and is much better as a solo artist. I don't know why there is an obsession with boy bands being made up of five members. Four is also a good number. There have been foursomes: 98 Degrees, All-4-One, Wet Wet Wet, and of course: The Beatles. Why obsess over five members?

Take That had comeback success sometime in the last decade and have released at least three albums after their "reunion" tour reignited interest in the band. They still haven't found success in the U.S. and probably won't, which is a shame. In 2010, I "discovered" their song from 2008 "Greatest Day" and was so struck by the lyrics, melody, and music video that I made it my "invocation song" in the fall of 2010 (when I was looking for a new job and wanting to get out of my hellish job at the BSA) and it made a huge difference in my life. I will be playing this song on a nonstop loop on the night of December 21, 2012 (when the world is supposed to end, according to the Mayan calendar and some paranoid doomsdayers).

Take That rule the world? Well, maybe the rest of it, but not the U.S.A. I honestly don't know why they were not able to find radio success here. They were in between the short success periods of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys / NSYNC eras. My guess is that they were probably considered "too British" for American music fans, and Robbie Williams' clever lyrics are too cheeky and ironic for Americans. Oh well, our loss. At least I have heard of them and able to check out when their new releases are coming out.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farewell London Olympic Games

I haven't blogged much because the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London got my daily attention from the time I got home from work until I went to bed. I wanted to watch as many broadcasts as possible, even though it did not always mean seeing events that I wanted to see. NBC's coverage was shameful. They actually used the prime time coverage to debut some "sneak peeks" of new sitcoms debuting this fall. Seriously?!? I know that none of the events that I watched were live (due to time zone differences), but still...it was shameless. I only watched NBC for the Olympics. I honestly couldn't give a shit about their upcoming shitcoms. I don't watch TV shows on TV anyway. There are so many available on DVD now that I just pick a show through Netflix and watch an entire season in a couple weeks and then move on to the next season or another show. The great thing about watching shows on DVD is: no commercial breaks!

Also, I learned that NBC actually edited out of the Opening Ceremonies a tribute to the victims of the Subway / Underground bombings (I believe that it happened on July 7, 2007, but not sure). Seriously? The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics had the flag that flew at the World Trade Center on 9/11 marched into the stadium (rubbing the world's nose in our tragedy) but we aren't interested in watching another nation's tribute to victims of their terrorist attacks? No wonder why the world thinks Americans are narcissistic assholes. We want the world to cry and sympathize with us on the worst day in our entire history but we can't be bothered to be compassionate to others when they want to make a respectful memorial.

Besides all that, I wasn't all that excited about the Olympics being in London...but that's mostly because Paris wanted it and should have won. But, as the Olympic date kept getting closer and closer, I actually did get a little bit excited. To me, the Summer Olympics are THE SPORTING EVENT to end all sporting events. I love watching them. I don't watch sports most of the time, but I will watch the Olympics religiously. Its funny to hear the blase comments from others about the Olympics. I have found that a lot of pro and college football fans seem to be the most disinterested in the Olympics. Too many foreigners, I think. But, I love all things international, so of course this is MUST SEE TV for me.

On Facebook, it was interesting to read the comments of others regarding the Opening Ceremonies. I was not on Facebook yet during the Beijing Olympics (I joined in November 2008 after several old classmates I hadn't heard from in 20 years begged me to sign up). It appears that the consensus is that the London Olympics Opening Ceremony is nowhere near as impressive as the Beijing one. I admit, Beijing went all out and truly wowed viewers with their sheer intensity. They kind of had to, as it was China's coming out party for the entire world and they wanted to impress people, which they did. 2008 drummers. The man who lit the torch was attached to a hire wire and "jogged" in the air around the entire stadium before lighting it. Yeah, all impressive stuff. However, I thought the Sydney Olympics in 2000 had the best Opening Ceremony and Cauldron lighting of all Olympic Games.

One of the things I find annoying is the belief that people have to outdo the last one (this applies to movies and novels, too) in order to be considered "successful." Why? Why is more and more a measure of "better"? Why can't we just sit back and enjoy? Each country has their own unique take on the Opening Ceremonies. It's the story they want to tell. Forget about the Beijing Opening Ceremonies and just watch what London offers.

The London Olympics hired a British film director (whose most famous film is Trainspotting) to produce the opening ceremonies. He used a bit of film to add some cleverness to the proceedings. The pageant began with Kenneth Branagh in a costume read a passage from a William Shakespeare play. There was a hill in the Olympic stadium. The set design looked like something out of Lord of the Rings (Hobbiton, anyone?). It gave way to the giant smokestacks of the Industrial Revolution, where a river of fire created the Olympic rings, which were raised into the air. A filmed skit featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond escorted Queen Elizabeth II to a waiting helicopter, where her stunt stand-in parachuted into the stadium. A group of school children sang the national anthem, "God Save the Queen" (better known as "My Country Tis of Thee" in the United States). There were orphans and nurses in an interesting tribute to Britain's National Health Service, along with storybook tributes to Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and Harry Potter. The least interesting part of the ceremonies was the Facebook / Twitter romance between two young lovers, set to a music medley from each decade.

The parade of athletes is always my favorite part. I love seeing the different costumes and the enthusiasm of the young athletes. The cauldron involved some interesting pyrotechnics and featured Soccer star David Beckham cruising down the Thames River in a speedboat. There was also a tribute to the film Chariots of Fire with the music being played by Mr. Bean (one of the unfunniest actors / characters ever devised). I had wondered if the theme music from that awesome film (about British athletes vying for the 1924 Olympic team, which was held in Paris). I can't stand Mr. Bean at all, so it was just a groaner of a skit.

What I noticed was that the entire Opening Ceremonies was a tribute to all the things that Britain contributed to the world. It was a great tribute and while it did not have the in your face intensity of the Beijing opening ceremonies, I thought the London one actually had more depth. I had felt while watching it that the ceremonies were more meaningful than the commentators were letting on. When the song "Jerusalem" was sung, I was struck by its familiarity. At work, I listened to a classical music CD that the company I work for put out (The Ultimate Last Night of the Proms), which features this tune. I thought it was weird that a song entitled "Jerusalem" was featured on a CD about English music, so I read Wikipedia entry on it. The song was taken from a William Blake poem about England being the site of a "New Jerusalem", as there were myths that Jesus had traveled to that distant green land. The poem / song also talks about the Industrial Revolution being evil. It truly is quite symbolic and "Jerusalem" is often considered the United Kingdom's unofficial National Anthem (kind of like how "America the Beautiful" is considered an unofficial National Anthem in the USA). So, if you truly want to "understand" the symbolic meaning behind London's Opening Ceremonies, read that Wikipedia entry and you will get it. All I can say is, "WOW!" As for me, yeah, the Chinese can wow us with magic tricks and in your face intensity, but I love the subtle yet deeply symbolic tribute to England's history and mythologies. It actually sparked an interest in me to vacation in England again some day (my travel experiences include a 3 week road trip through England, Scotland and Wales as a teenager in 1987 on the best family vacation ever; and a single day when I flew from Gibraltar to London to hop on a train to Canterbury and then to Dover to catch the ferry to Calais, France in 1993).

The games had plenty of great moments. America had the best swim team ever. Wow. Not only did Michael Phelps add more medals to his previous totals, but other team members also won medals, too. Ryan Lochte is definitely a charismatic star and plans to go to Rio de Janeiro in four years. Phelps now has 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold. The most decorated Olympian ever, and despite his mother's claim, Phelps says that this is his final Olympics (he's been to Sydney, Athens, Beijing, and now London).

The women's gymnastics team won the team gold and Gabrielle became the first African American to win the All Around. The men's gymnastics team was disastrous, though. Gymnastics are my favorite event. When I was in the 2nd grade, my parents enrolled me in gymnastics, but I never took an interest in it. I kind of wish that I was interested in it, because it does look like a lot of fun, though definitely not easy. The floor exercises are amazing.

The real meat and potatoes of the Olympic Games are the track and field events. This covered the final week of the games. The American athletes always do well at these events, but this year, a Jamaican runner, Usain Bolt, became "the fastest man alive." And he broke a speed record. It's amazing that humans can still break athletic records. In fact, on Facebook, someone posted a chart that showed the medal winning times for each Olympic Games and the runners are definitely getting faster and faster. The winner of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Jesse Owens, would've been left in the dust by Usain Bolt. Now that's insane!

Above is a scene from the filmed skit that featured Daniel Craig as James Bond, escorting Her Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth II, from her Buckingham Palace quarters to the waiting helicopter to fly her to the Olympic Stadium to parachute into the stadium. It was pretty funny and increased the Queen's coolness factor. She's on a role lately, after the Diamond Jubilee back in June (celebrating her 60th year on the throne. Only 3 more to surpass Queen Victoria's record).

The one-eyed monstrosity you see above is the official mascot of the London Olympics. Ever since Atlanta debuted "Whatizit?" at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games closing ceremony, the subsequent mascots have been rather lame. This one-eyed monstrosity looks like a penis, in my opinion. Its about as lame as the official Olympic logo (which quite a few people think is of Lisa Simpson giving some guy a blow job. You have to see the animated gif yourself to realize it, but you'll never go back to seeing it as "2012").

The closing ceremonies are never as good as the opening one, but it's mostly one big party for the athletes. I actually liked the London closing ceremonies. They made the ramps look like the Union Jack and featured a lot of different singers, a traffic jam, and the Spice Girls even "reunited" to sing a couple songs ("Wannabe" and the one I hate: "Spice Up Your Life"). Take That performed "Rule the World" (I had hoped for "Greatest Day" or "Never Forget") and Sir Paul McCartney sang, as well, just as he did for the Opening Ceremonies. When the flame was extinguished, the show was over. And best of all, there were no terrorist attacks as some worried about. What I love about the Closing Ceremonies is that the next host city gets a segment in which to offer a sneak peek at what they will offer the games, and Brazil definitely went with the Carnival theme. I cannot wait until Rio de Janeiro. Wouldn't it be awesome if wealth found me sometime in the next four years so I can go down to Rio and attend the Olympics as a fan. I would love to see Rio de Janeiro some day and being there for the Olympics sounds pretty awesome. Until then, we have a Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in less than two years and a World Cup in Brazil.

Great job for 2012, Great Britain! You kept calm and carried on. You did the Olympics proud.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Winner of the Romney Veepstakes is: Paul Ryan!

The news reported late last night that Romney has chosen a running mate and his name is Paul Ryan, the young (he's only 2 years older than me!) and boyish looking Congressman from Wisconsin who is considered the intellectual wizard of the Republican Party for his budget proposal last year. He is no Sarah Palin, that's for sure. Last year, I predicted that Romney would pick Jeb Bush as a running mate. It made sense because the Bush and Romney families are close and since 1980, no Republican has won the presidency without Bush on the ticket (granted, only Dole-Kemp in 1996 and McCain-Palin in 2008 were the only ones without a Bush on the ticket, but we're talking 8 elections here). Of course, having a Bush on the ticket doesn't guarantee a win (1992), but it will be interesting if a Mormon-Catholic political ticket will be able to win.

That's right, Paul Ryan is a Catholic, which makes this an interesting combination. Evangelical Christians, who make up the bulk of the base of the Republican Party, do not like or trust either the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). This combination would appear to be the anti-Christ to many Bible-thumping knuckle draggers from the South. If only they didn't hate our black president so much, they might just stay home or vote third party.

At a rally in Norfolk, Virginia earlier today, Romney actually introduced Paul Ryan to the crowd gathered there as "the next president of the United States..." Obviously a slip of the tongue, but perhaps his soul knows what his ego does not want to admit: that Romney is going to lose the election. It's interesting that they chose the Nautilus Museum in Norfolk, with the USS Wisconsin as a backdrop. The USS Wisconsin is a decommissioned battleship that now serves as a museum. Perhaps that's appropriate, because like that ancient warship that saw its best days in World War II, so are Ryan's ideas about government, budgets, and taxes (from the economic policies of the three consecutive Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover that resulted in the Great Depression).

The most important thing to know about Paul Ryan is that he claims Ayn Rand as the most influential person in shaping his ideas about government. In fact, so fanatical is Ryan about Rand that he actually requires his staff members and interns to read her books (or at least Atlas Shrugged). Shouldn't that be considered "cruel and unusual punishment"? He gives her books to people for Christmas gifts. Many of the critiques I've read about Ayn Rand is that her books tend to appeal to teenage boys, who eventually grow out of the spell she casts. In my junior or senior year in high school, I admit that I became intrigued by Ayn Rand. I considered myself a "nonconformist" and wanted to read any ideas by others who were "nonconformists" so, naturally, Ayn Rand seemed to fit the bill. I came across her book For the New Intellectual or some title like that. But I couldn't get into it, just as I could never get into Jean-Paul Sartre. The writing was dense. I don't consider myself an "intellectual", probably for this reason. Like many atheists, both Rand and Sartre seemed more interested in their intelligence and showing it off in their dense writing styles than actually writing something that would appeal to a mass audience or at least be understood without the use of Cliffnotes. I haven't read any of Rand's works and don't really have time to devote to her monstrous novels when there are so many good and great books on my reading list that I haven't gotten to yet.

The final nail in the coffin on Rand for me was when I was in the Navy and met a fellow sailor whom I could have intelligent conversations with that did not revolve around sports, beer, or sex. When it turned out that he was a die hard Ayn Randist, though, the friendship kind of fizzled out. Every Rand fan that I've met has been extremely egotistical and selfish. That makes them very difficult for me to be friends with. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think personal values does matter in friendships and all relationships. The entire basis of Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged is that the wealthy tycoons have their feelings hurt because society doesn't worship them as gods, so they decide to run away and form their own society without the people they refer to as "leeches." In reality, though, the wealthy cannot live without the working class. Who will cook their meals, clean their homes, do their laundry, scrub their toilets? They sure as hell don't want to do it and time is too valuable for them to do such work, anyway. In college, I remember reading an article about how some resort town in Colorado had houses that only the wealthy could afford to live there, and yet the town had a problem because they needed people to work in the stores and restaurants in town, so the town had to bus in workers from another town. That's typical Rand: the wealthy want to live in gated communities where they won't have to deal with the rest of us who aren't rich, and yet they can't live the kind of lifestyle they want without people serving their every need and desire. So it becomes: we need you to work here, but you can't live here. Instead, you get to have a long commute to work each day. Is this the kind of America we want to live in?

I say, "hell no!" Romney and Ryan, you can take your Randist philosophy to some remote island in the Caribbean and let the rest of us have the country that we want, where the government sides with the middle class and makes certain that the wealthy don't do the wholesale looting of the treasury that was allowed to happen under Bush's watch.

Of all the options available to Romney for Vice Presidents, I was most worried that he would've picked Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Though Rubio has some major baggage, he was likely to help Romney among Hispanic and Florida voters. I'm glad that he went with Paul Ryan, though, because there is much in Ryan's budget plan that would scare any rational thinking person from voting for them. Their plan to privatize Social Security and gut Medicare with a voucher plan is the most cynical snakeoil I've ever seen a political party propose. After the crash of the economy in 2008, I remember hearing many people say with relief that they were glad that Bush's plan to privatize Social Security had failed, otherwise their retirement money would have been evaporated (and the Baby Boomers are retiring now, with more and more each year for the next decade).

Paul Ryan strikes me as the kind of guy who sold his soul to Satan. Sure he has the "boy next door" / Boy Scout earnestness look about him, but that's all just a distraction for the ugly politics he peddles on the public. He is the epitome of the old warning that just because someone looks really good on the outside doesn't mean that there's no ugly demon on the inside. Paul Ryan is the Ted Bundy of the political world. Don't say you haven't been warned!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Music Video Monday: Britney Spears



This week's music video is inspired by last night's Mars lander, known as CURIOSITY, which safely touched down on the surface of Mars to explore the planet for the next several years. Before the advent of space craft, humans believed that Mars might have had living beings, hence the term "Martian." If humanity ever hopes to go beyond our solar system, where space travel is reality instead of "science fiction" a manned mission to Mars has to be the goal we worked towards, regardless of the cost. When Newt Gingrich proposed such ideas as colonizing the Moon or Mars, he got made fun of, but I actually think he is correct on that (though I would not call it "colonizing", since that term has negative history attached to it). That's one of the few things that I agree with Newt on.

While watching the Olympic coverage, I had Facebook open and a friend of mine from high school wrote that he couldn't understand why the media didn't make a bigger deal about this because this event is H U G E! He blamed the Olympics, but come on...the Olympics are on. Why would NASA plan a landing to happen right during the Olympics? They could've waited a couple weeks...to land Curiosity right in the middle of the Republican National Convention! It was nice, however, to see Paul passionate about something and writing his opinions about the Mars mission on Facebook. I got to know a new side to him and I liked it. I agree that the Mars lander is a big deal, and it is obvious that the media does not have the kind of wide eyed interest in it as they did with the space program in the 1960s and early 1970s. The landing story will have a nice blip in media coverage for 24 hours before its back to the Olympics.

Hearing about the successful landing only made me think of this awesome music video from Britney Spears, which came out in the summer of 2000. I loved it from the start. How could I not? Britney dressed up like Barbarella (my favorite look in a lady. It's completely "sexy") and wearing a tight, body-fitting red suit. I loved the spoken interludes in the beginning and near the end of the song, especially when the astronaut says, "Oh, it's cute alright!" and when Britney does her irresistible flirtatious bit, "aw, you shouldn't have!" That would be completely awesome if Curiosity actually found a Britney-Barbarella rocking out on the red planet.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Johnny Clegg Rocked Oregon Zoo

I failed in my goal. Back in April, I bought two tickets to see Johnny Clegg at the Oregon Zoo and I thought for sure that I would be able to find a lady by August 4th. In July, when I responded to a personal ad on Craigslist and actually received a response, I was amazed when I learned that she likes Johnny Clegg and wanted to go see his concert. I offered her the other ticket. But that was before our disappointed meeting on Bastille Day when neither of us were attracted to the other. The disappointment meant that I would likely not find a replacement before the date arrived. So, I asked a friend of mine, who is a lesbian, and she seemed excited about going.

Three days later, she sent me an email saying that she had to cancel, giving me only 1 day to find a replacement. Her excuse? The temperature was expected to reach 100 degrees on Saturday. I thought it was a lame excuse. When I asked her on Tuesday, we already knew that the forecast for Saturday was going to be hot. So, for three days when I could have been asking around if anyone wanted to go, she led me to believe that the other ticket would be hers. I was actually not surprised that she flaked out on me, because she had done it twice before. Now that she has flaked three times, I will never ask her if she wants to do anything again. I'm not a fan of flaky people. This is probably why conservative people like me, even though I'm a liberal in my political and spiritual views. Conservative people tend not to like flaky people. Of all people, conservatives like knowing where people stand and being able to rely on someone. That's me. Mr. Reliable. I don't flake on people. If someone asks me if I want to do something, I will either say yes or no. Once I say "yes", I won't back out. It would have to be a serious emergency for me to back out after saying yes, which is why I don't say yes automatically or easily.

I was quite upset about the flake. There were others I could've asked, but it was very difficult to find someone a day before the concert. All of my male friends are married or in relationships, so it was difficult to ask if they wanted to go, leaving their wives or girlfriends home alone. The reason why I asked this lesbian friend if she wanted to go is because she has similar spiritual views as me and we haven't talked in awhile, so it would've been fun to catch up. Also, if I happened to see an interesting lady at the concert, I wouldn't feel like a cad by going up and talking to the lady, leaving behind a date (this actually happened in 2007 when I took a lady to see Taylor Hicks in concert and started talking to some other lady at the concert who was more interesting).

So, I went to the Oregon Zoo by myself, dressed in a dashiki (an African print shirt, similar to the Aloha shirts worn in Hawaii) and my South African flag baseball cap. I gave my extra ticket to a couple that went to the booth to buy tickets. I saved them $28.

I never attended a concert at a Zoo before. It seems kind of strange. Doesn't the loud music bother the animals? The Oregon Zoo has a summer concert series and I've been meaning to go for years. Usually, they book classic acts, such as the B-52s, Chicago, Chris Isaak, and many others who do the summer outdoor amphitheater concerts in cities all over America. This was the first I've seen of Johnny Clegg doing this. In fact, this is my 6th Johnny Clegg concert and the first one where he performed outside.

First up was Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which is a good singing group from South Africa, specializing in traditional African songs and acapella singing style. I like some of their stuff, but I don't buy their albums. They did a good job, but I was getting anxious for Johnny Clegg to start. I stood in the back, near the dancing elephant. Yup, that's right. There's an elephant at Oregon Zoo that likes to dance by itself. I'm not sure if its a neurosis due to living in captivity or if its just an elephant that loves to sway to the music in its head, but it is fun to watch. Ladysmith did their set and it was good. They closed with one of my favourite South African songs: "Shosoloza" (which is about the train, and the actual title is meant to convey the sound of the train. It does, actually). Then there was a break while the stage was set up for the next act: Johnny Clegg!

While waiting, a young black man came up to me and asked where in South Africa I was from. He had a South African accent, which was cool. I hated disappointing him, but I said that I wasn't from South Africa, but I had my best vacation there. He said that he thought I was South African because of my hat. I told him that I had bought that hat at the Olympics in Atlanta. I love the South African flag. We talked for a bit and I didn't even notice that Johnny Clegg and come out on stage and started singing "Love in the Time of Gaza." We shortened our conversation and I decided to head down to the area in front of the stage where people were already dancing away. I've never gotten out of my seat at a Johnny Clegg concert, even though my body wanted me to. Most places, the area in front of the stage is not big enough to accommodate everyone who wants to dance or be closer to the stage, so I don't mind the seat. Since this venue didn't offer many seats (I think the higher ticket prices got you a seat, whereas General Admission got you a space on the grass or wherever you can stand), I decided I wanted to be right up front near the stage.

At first, Johnny did his usual explanation of certain songs (the funniest being the story behind his awesome song "Bullets for Bafazana"), but when he was informed that the Zoo had a strict curfew of 10 p.m., he had to cut out the talking and just sing the songs. This was just as well, because I heard too many people talking behind me that I really couldn't hear what he was saying. It was annoying that people were talking. But, this was the largest crowd I'd ever seen for a Johnny Clegg concert. I think most of the venues I've seen him in were 1,000 seats and they weren't sold out concerts. I'm not sure how many people were at this performance, but it was certainly a few thousand people...easily double / triple / quadruple the amount of people I've ever seen at a Johnny Clegg concert.

During his performance, I did see him look directly at me a few times. I was the only one wearing a baseball cap with the South African flag (the entire hat is made up of the South African flag), so that probably caught his eye. I've met him 4 times, so there's good karma in our singer - fan bond. But I knew that there was little chance that he would meet people after the show and I didn't mind. I was there to enjoy his music. He's probably the only singer where I want to see every tour. I was surprised that he was touring North America this year, after last year's tour, but I'm definitely not complaining.

He sang a mix of songs from his many albums. Unfortunately, he has so many to choose from and not enough time to perform most of them, so he selects the ones he does. I wonder what his criteria is for choosing which songs to sing. I know that there are a few that he will always perform: "Scatterlings of Africa" (his signature song) and "Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World" (which is his last song before encores since it has "bye bye" in the lyrics and he plays it up by waving at the audience). He'll play a song or two that features the concertina (an accordian like instrument), which he did for "Journey's End" and "I Call Your Name."

Though I did not dance like most other people did, I did get into the rhythm of his music and it was fun being up in the front. I even saw a young lady that attracted me (an African American young lady) but she was with a friend and probably way too young for me, so I didn't bother. There was quite a diverse bunch, but Johnny Clegg's fans seem to run more white, college educated than a true diversity as one might expect. He has way more black fans in his native South Africa. Not sure why his music has never caught on with African Americans, but it's probably because he's not a rap or hip-hop or jazz musician.

Johnny mentioned that "Scatterlings of Africa" made his career, when it hit the English charts in 1983. He had been performing as Juluka since the late 1970s, but it wasn't until "Scatterlings of Africa" that he gained international attention. Of course, I was too young then and was not exposed to his music until 1988 when he was big in France that year (my dad had taken me to Paris in the summer of 1988 as a father-son bonding trip. He had taken my brother somewhere else on another trip). At one point in the concert, Johnny asked the audience how many saw his concerts back in the early 1980s. A few people roared their approval. My Johnny Clegg craze began in 1990 when I bought Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World with my graduation money.

He sang three songs from his last album, Human: "Love in the Time of Gaza" (which opened the show), "All I Got Is You", and "Give Me the Wonder." What...no "The World Is Calling" or "Hidden Away Down"? At last year's concert, his story behind "Hidden Away Down" was so funny and it would have been great to see him do that again.

Due to the time constraints, he couldn't do the formal disappearance from the stage after the last song while the audience applauds enthusiastically for him to return for an encore. He merely disappeared to the side of the stage for a brief minute and then returned for his two-set encore ("Asimbonanga" and "Dela"). He said at one point in the concert that there was something about the kickdrum that affected the elephants and that there was a whole host of complications to deal with when you perform at the zoo. When he said that, I wondered about the dancing elephant. A part of me wanted to stay nearby to see how he liked Johnny Clegg's music, but I did not like being so far from the stage, so I wisely moved to be among the dancing crowd, close enough to be seen by Johnny and enjoy some of the schtick.

In the photo above, Johnny is dancing with Mandisa, who is a popular member of his band. When she does her dance, the audience roared its approval. She basically moves her hips hula style. There's a certain seductive quality to it and she and Johnny flirt with one another on stage. Basically, Johnny will dance behind her as they do their step-hop style dance, moving into what looks like a Zombie walk, before high leg kicks. Mandisa will make facial expressions that are easy to read: "What are you doing, Johnny?" kind of playful riff (the kind of facial expression people make when they think someone is being weird).

Before leaving the stage, Johnny thanked us and said "See you sometime next year!" I wondered, is that true? He's planning another tour of America in 2013? Wow, I hope so! I definitely want to see his show again. In fact, if money were no issue, I'd see more than one show on his tour. He was heading to Seattle next, to perform tonight (at a Zoo!).

Last year, when Johnny Clegg performed at the Aladdin theater, I did not bring enough cash on me to buy both a ballcap and a t-shirt. I had to choose one or the other, so I decided to buy the ballcap (black with "Johnny Clegg" and the interesting looking "Human" figure on it). At the zoo, there was a booth where a variety of t-shirts were sold. I took some time trying to decide which design I liked the best. It's hard to choose just one!

So I bought this one that you see above. I like the logo and I wanted a tan one instead of a black t-shirt.

Which reminds me...what is it with Johnny's style these days? Back in the 1980s, he wore the coolest looking clothes. African print pants and shirts. In fact, I've bought some that were similar style as what he was known to wear. He influenced my fashion choices in the 1990s! (Including the wearing of bolo ties with shirts other than button down collar). Now, he seems to wear only black. Black pants and black t-shirt. Not to criticize his choices, but how boring! If I was a rock star, you can bet that I would wear the most unique looking shirts and pants. I'm that way now (I've gotten attention by some of the clothes I've worn over the years), so if I was able to have money to design my own clothes and have them made, I certainly would. I have Aloha shirts, a dashiki, some shirts from India, an Austrian jacket, a Cameroon soccer team shirt, a Tibetan pullover that keeps me warm in winter). Would love to see Johnny dress like his 80s self again!

Perhaps in shirts like this, worn by Ladysmith Black Mambazo!

Anyhow, after the concert was over (just a few minutes after 10 p.m.), I walked back through the zoo to the MAX station. I overheard one guy in front of me (who was wearing a cool-looking South African sports team shirt) tell his friend that he had a few friends he wanted to invite to the concert but figured that his friend would appreciate Johnny Clegg the most. Wow, I was envious. If best friend Nathan was in the country, I would've asked him to go (though we'd probably go to the one in Seattle). Instead, I was alone and had no one to share this great experience with. Story of my life, it seems. It sucks to still be single at 40! But, despite that fact, I did have fun at the concert. Amazing, though, that while the temperature was 100 degrees, once the sun went down and Johnny came out on stage, it was a nice, cool evening. That's what I love about the Northwest. The heat only applies to the daytime. Once the sun goes down, you really do need a jacket.

In my walk through the zoo, you could hear some animals howling. I overheard someone say that the animals were howling for an encore. Even they did not want the show to end. I'm not sure what animal was howling, but I was thinking monkeys, perhaps?

Below is a special treat...a tour of Johnny Clegg's touring bus for last year's Human Tour. I found it on YouTube when I was looking for Johnny Clegg videos. What I found most interesting is that they have made the sleeping quarters on this luxury bus similar to the sleeping quarters on a U.S. Navy ship. Three racks high, with enough for 12 people to sleep on this bus. They could've probably had even more racks, but that wouldn't leave much room for two lounge areas and a bathroom. It would be fun to own a bus like this for the purposes of living...if only an alternative fuel source could be used to make travel by bus affordable and environmentally friendly. I could certainly live on a luxury bus and just travel the USA and Canada that way for a few years.