Monday, September 22, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

The above title comes, of course, from our pals in Monty Python via Dolli as she gets a big assist in this post. A little welcome comic relief as we all just need a breath here. The economy is as frightening as anything I've known in my lifetime, particularly with less than a decade's worth of retirement window to see a recovery in... the Great Depression started in '29, bottomed in '32 and didn't get back to the starting line until we'd moved into the 1950's ... and while both candidates routinely stretch the truth (which I find profoundly disappointing), one of them is just lying more and more every day, and I'm afraid with MSNBC and The Daily Show (and the Emmies) calling him on it, most of the American people are actually elsewhere. 60 Minutes? Even then, I'm not so sure.

So Dolli and I, in need of an All American throwback, wholesome, ice cream eating, show your age, 'let's go for a ride' Sunday, took off in our convertable Beetle with the Obama sticker and here's where we ended up ...
The guy on the bottom is me doing my impression of a middle aged white guy who managed to digest a hip-hop artist, or one of the members of 'Entourage' while fighting to victory in a Bratwurst eating contest. Scale note: I'm 6' tall.

Anyway, this is, in fact, not the world's largest Virgin Mary statue -- but it's the biggest damned one I've ever seen. We and a few of our closest friends, most of us still alive, have a shared admiration of
Our Lady of Guadalupe. I'm assuming most in the same secular fashion as I-- though secretly hoping that it will be she and only she to greet us on the other side, take us to her bosom, carrying us through the turquoise and orange gates up to the great fiesta in the sky, all our loved ones , in colorful dress, waiting to share the sweetbreads from the celestial pinata with us.

This remarkable statue, surrounded by vast fields, a pond, some beautiful horses, and a stand of trees that tempts us sorely to return in about 3 weeks as the foliage continues to turn colors, was built by Ed and Pat Heinz, on whose farm, in Windsor, Ohio, it stands, "a testament," as written in Roadside America, " to faith and to liberal building laws."

Ed collected -as evidenced by the purchased memory plaques attached to every ball on the below described rosary, as well as every bench, chair, and a few items near or at the permanent Nativity Scene that sits in a chapel slightly larger than a premium sized shed from Home Depot -the $50,000 it would take to build Mary. Then Richard Hyslin, head of the art department at some small Texas college, agreed to donate his services for free. Until then, Hyslin's largest sculpture had apparently been a 15-foot tall King Kong for a miniature golf course, so this was his version of Bernstein's Mass... I guess.

The statue was dedicated on August 5, 1995. Our Lady is 33-feet tall, standing atop an angel and cement cloud, bringing her to 50 feet.

From Roadside America:

"Attached to the figure's back is something resembling the World's Largest Toaster Coil -- her holy radiance. It's made of metal, and during a violent thunderstorm in flat, northeastern Ohio, one requires unfaltering faith to linger for long.

"Mary faces east -- a shutterbug challenge in the late afternoon, even without the lightning strikes creeping towards her. The statue surface is decorated with thousands of tiny mosaic tiles, richly colored, reminding us of the happy Krishna giants in West Virginia," something Dolli and I have yet to see, but between this and our European Holiday tradition of hunting for relics (defined as Holy body parts and uncorrupted corpses... we do have fun between meals, no??), will probably add to our list of day trips.

In front of Our Lady is a pond, surrounded by a giant strand of white rosary beads (disguised as electric beach balls) and a full size carved Jesus reclining on what I thought was a lucite, but Dolli tells me she thinks it's a clear quartz cross.

Mary in silhouette.

The coolest thing is that she's there just because that's where Heinz was/is (gotta check into that). Truly a pilgrim's dream. We followed the directions and even then had to sort take a flier on a turn here and there. We pulled into the parking lot to find it populated by perhaps 30 of our Hispanic friends hanging around a pick up truck, a bus, and a cooler. This thing is set back so very far from the road, we had to park, and walk around a building before we could

a) see the wonders of the Porta Potty and

b) say "Oh... My... God!!"

This trip was rejuvenating. It gives us all hope that no matter what comes down the pipe, we, as a race (Ohioans) are so incredibly weird, twisted, and brilliantly capable of the craziest shit, that we're probably too impaired to even notice the implications when we all turn red and ruin the country... again (still). Thank goodness SHE's here.

We waved Adios with a smile to our Amigos as they did us. Ice cream on the way home. Yay!!!

Now what could be next for the intrepid travelers, hmmm?

PS. If you're here looking for some political pontificating, or even if you're not but are willing to do me the honor, please read the post below.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Obama v. McCain? Spy v. Spy? A view from my perch...

This is the pretty much untruncated version of a "Letter to the Editor" I've been sending out to a number of papers. The short version will be printed in the next two weeks by the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal. Mansfield sits in Ohio "Red" country.

To the Editor:

In a season where credentials, in one form or another, make a difference, let me first say that I am the son of Ike Gold, who retired as Secretary and Treasurer of The United Rubber, Cork, Linoleum, and Plastic Workers of America.

I grew up in Akron Ohio, lower-middle class, rising to what we just called “middle class”. My dad emigrated as a child from the Ukraine. Because of the Great Depression, he dropped out of West High weeks before graduation and worked with his dad in a scrap yard. He
later worked at The Akron Times Press, then finally landed a job in the rubber shops. He learned to weld, read blueprints, and became a skilled trades journeyman before becoming President of Firestone Local 7. In 1960, when I was 8, dad was elected to his job with the URW, offices in the old Buckeye Building at Mill and High streets.

I was raised going to meetings at the Local 7 Hall, around strikes and picket lines, learning about laws that had been passed to protect the rights of workers to form unions, how unions protected the worker from abuses, overwork, underpay, and safety issues in the workplace.

It was in this environment I learned that The Democratic Party is the party of the working man and woman. Now the Republicans are working so very hard to convince everyone THEY are the party of the working class. They would like us to believe that it’s not the REPUBLICANS who are most likely to raise the taxes of those who can afford it the least.

It’s not shocking that they’ve attempted to do this, but astonishing that it appears to be getting swallowed hook-line-and-sinker by many of our working brothers and sisters.

For a moment, forget the individual candidates. Forget your prejudices, your thoughts about their health, gender, age, race, appearances. Assume for a moment, probably correctly, that none of them are idiots.

I beg you, instead, to consider the platforms the candidates will carry forward when elected. The differences between the Democrats and Republicans are not tiny this time around.

The Democrats pledge to raise taxes on those earning $227,000 and above. As for the “middle class?” Our tax bills will be reduced- with the biggest benefits going to those with the lowest incomes.

Conversely, the Republican plan is to cut corporate taxes, the theory that it will stimulate big business and thus the overall economy, providing more jobs, more money, and more benefits for the majority. This is “trickle down” economics introduced in the Reagan administration by David Stockman, who resigned when it became clear that corporate America wasn’t going to do its part to make the deal work.

Today’s example: This is the worst economy we’ve had in decades, fueled on many levels by gas prices, while the oil companies show the biggest profits, by far, in their history. These profits aren’t providing us with more jobs or lowering out transportation bills.

Further, the next administration is facing the crippling debt we’ve acquired in the last 8 years. If the GOP is pledging to not raise taxes AND offer tax breaks to the rich, where is the money going to come from to pay down this enormous debt? Where’s the lie?

There are many issues to consider, but this one has been going on long enough. The lie that the Republicans represent the Working Joe needs to be done with. That’s what they’ve been saying for years, yet the only time the economy has truly thrived in the last 28 years was during the last 6 years of the Clinton administration when it not only dug us out of the Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Bail Out crisis, but left the country, Social Security, and Medicare with a SURPLUS!

This Bush administration leaves us with the Freddie Mac, Fannie May, $200 billion dollar bailout. There was a bill in Congress to set up safeguards against this eventuality. Bush declared he’d veto it if passed. McCain voted against it. His Congressional record, btw, has consistently been to vote for de-regulation, exactly what brought us to where we are today (another 400+ drop in the market).

Wall Street is falling apart, and we have the largest National Debt in history, by far! Lehman Brothers , Merrill Lynch, AIG ($85 bill.) - all this on the Republican's watch.

Leave it to the big corporate bosses to take care of us? No! This is exactly why the broken and busted labor unions were formed in the first place!!

And let me make it clear that I’m aware that there have been times the unions have actually been more of a hindrance to their own members than a help. And yes, I know it was a Democratic president that supported NAFTA which, to be fair, was not a good idea, even in the best of times. Now things aren’t good, times have changed, there’s little to spread around… coming under the Republican's watch.

Please, I beg of everyone, don’t base your judgment on personality and thin rhetoric. Look past the War Hero; the African American; the woman as candidate. Vote based on whether you want to see the great majority- those of us who actually make up the engine that runs America, and our children- have a chance again for the first time in almost a decade.

Yes, this means voting, in this election, for Obama.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Won't Blink

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Why I Married Dolli: Reason # 4,378

In reference to VP candidate, Sarah Palin's speech last night:

"she's still scary...i'm scared of her...pageant queens are like dragons with fake eyelashes (as opposed to pit bulls with lipstick).
i don't know what i mean by that...i don't know where these things come from..."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Must See!

So some of you, perhaps better identified as the one or two who have been checking in, may have noticed a trend on my part as of late, here and in my last two blog entries.

First, to those of you who are tuning in to read my blowhard jive, I thank you. Don’t get me wrong, Dolli is a great audience, but my only consistent one and, as she already tells me how incredibly smart, insightful and clever I am as part of a regular, therapeutic regimen, I still find myself needing just the tiniest bit more. With the constituency this blog maintains, I believe, “tiny” will be the operative word here.

While there is, to be sure, more to my life, some things are difficult to write about at length, in short, or in any way whatsoever that would, with my limited narrative skills, prove interesting… to me first and foremost, explaining my inability to entertain yet someone else with the claptrap of my day-to-day.

So over the last couple days I’ve found it fun to either share my joy over reading something great or viewing a film with some attributes, or doing you, dear
reader point 5, a self serving service by warning you away from some perceived (I won’t say ‘crap’ as if you’ve already partaken and liked, my comment, implying you are a moron, whether right or wrong would be less than useful, friendship wise) less than perfect offering out there.

Sacrificing myself for the greater good, if you will.

So now: “My Man Godfrey” Holy crap! What a wonderful, mannered film with the coolest guy S. by S.E. of Cary Grant and the hottest broads (timely colloquial reference) on any block, at any time. This, of course, the 1936 version starring our hero, William Powell- which could start us raving about him and Myrna Loy as the incredibly cool, charming acerbic with a bourbon glass and a smoke in hand at all times, stars of "The Thin Man" - any man’s fantasy, even in black and white, Carol Lombard, and a pretty hot, though lesser known, Gail Patrick as Irene’s (Miss Lombard’s) big sis.

I don’t really need to go into the plot here. It’s a wonderful bit of pre-war Universal Studios whimsy, quality enough to be nominated for 6 Oscars, winning one for
Alice Brady, playing the roll of family matriarch, Angelica Bullock.

I know some old 1937 B&W studio pic is as likely a Netflix destination for you as is, say, Toledo Ohio a vacation spot for a well deserved burn-out holiday in January, but if you see it running on AMC or TMC or just want to pick up a movie for a great escape, I couldn’t recommend it more. I have, personally, btw, seen it probably 6 times now.

Next up… or at least soon to come: ‘Life With Father.’ I’m on a roll!!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Yet another Brutal Yay

'The Savages" as in the name, like ' The Tennenbaums.' Philip Seymour Hoffman, his worst always better than pretty much everyone else, and Laura Linney, a remarkably versatile actress, are touchingly lovely in this film about a brother and sister dealing with an estranged and dying father. This may not be an easy film if you've lost a parent or are at least middle aged yourself, thus advancing your very own march to the borders of oblivion.

If you're young and sensitive and intelligent, you'll appreciate this film, but perhaps it won't batter you as much . Let me be clear, this is not a great film. It's weak enough that you might not find yourself caring about the characters as much as you might, though they all will make you chuckle pretty regularly, and you will most definitley like them. The REAL story here, however, along with the wonderful acting of Hoffman and Linney, is Phillip Bosco as the dad. I worked with him on several occasions when he hosted film series' for Bravo back in the late 80's. A great guy, husband, father, Jersey feller who was and still is a totally accomplished stage actor.

In this low budget film, shot so that you feel cold throughout ... which is good (though weather continuity is a little dicey) as most of it takes place in Buffalo, his is a truly fine performance, period. Worth the amortized Netflix price to be sure.