Here's how my first meeting with former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor went down:
I was opening for her (and other author-acts) as this festival in Carmel.
I had just done my routine and was coming off the stage as she and her brother arrived, escorted by the superintendent of schools who was set to introduce her to the auditorium of high school kids that had been bused in for the day.
"Oh, that looks interesting," said Justice O'Connor, noticing my guitar. "What are you going to play for us?"
I had to tell her that I'd already played, and, to my surprise, she asked "and what songs did you play?"
So I told her that I had written a book called King Dork, so I had opened with the theme song to it, "King Dork."
"And then I played a song called 'I Wanna Ramone You' and after that another one called 'Even Hitler had a Girlfriend.'"
"Oh, we don't like that one," the superintendent said.
"He had a hell of a lot more than that!" said the Justice simultaneously, and somewhat cryptically I thought, though I have no doubt she was right. I was a little worried that she was as offended by the song title as the superintendent appeared to be. Then, however, she added: "I'm sorry I missed it."
I was asked to play a short song to open the second session for intermediate school kids even though I wasn't on the schedule. I did "Knock Knock (Please Let Me In)" and it went fine even though the kids never quite figured out when to say "who's there?" every time. When I came off stage, there was Sandra Day O'Connor sitting in the wing applauding and nodding, and she ended up getting there early and watching the whole set the following day.
I hadn't known what to expect, or if I'd even get a chance to speak to her at all, but she turned out to be very nice, very sharp, extremely interesting, and quite a good conversationalist. We actually ended up talking quite a bit back stage and at various events.
Lots of other stuff happened at the festival and there were all sorts of other interesting people there, but the main point of this post has been to explain how it was that things happened to arrange themselves so that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wound up listening to me play "I Wanna Ramone You" and "Even Hitler had a Girlfriend." And that's how it was.
Ross Douthat yawns at the latest alleged what's-it in the presidential race, and it's hard not to yawn along with him:
Barack Obama, who once claimed to embody sweeping, once-in-a-generation change, has ended up running a cautious, negative, and deeply generic Democratic campaign, while John McCain, who's supposedly all about honor and service and aching nobility, has offered a mix of snark, stunts, and manufactured controversies week in and week out. And the pundit class, deeply invested in the notion that the stakes in this election are stunningly, awesomely high, has responded to the fundamental dullness of the race itself with wild hyperventilation, unable to accept that this campaign just hasn't lived up to their round-the-clock hype.
WFMU's blog flags this ad for a George Jones commemorative .30-30:
Encyclopedia Sullivan Finds the Clues:
The record is very clear that the decision to accept the veep nomination was kept from the Palin children until they arrived in Ohio on what they were told was a surprise trip for their parents' wedding anniversary.
Gabe snapped this photo in Charles Schulz's Peanuts studio library, noting:
There's a big museum for Schulz in Santa Rosa, but his studio is tucked back behind a baseball field and tennis court; it's not open to the public...
They've kept everything intact inside his old studio -- wood-paneled walls, a ridiculous painting of some water buffalo -- and they've left all of Schulz's books on his shelves. It's a fantastic variety. 'The Way to Natural Beauty' by Cheryl Tiegs; 'Treasure Island'; 'The New Testament in Living Pictures'; and my favorite, 'How to Fight a Bull.'
Ann Althouse gets the best comments.
I'm with Ann: the new sitemeter is useless. Anyone have any suggestions for another counter?
UPDATE: Never mind. The SiteMeter people have decided to turn back the hands of time. That was a close one...
And so our presidential election finally slips all the way into complete irredeemable inanity.
Does anybody really, truly think Obama meant to call Sarah Palin a pig? Seriously? Ah well, it matters not. I'm checking out of this one...
via Hit and Run. Real?
This is old, but new to me: Ann Coulter is interviewed about her love of the Grateful Dead.
Three of the reasons I kind of wanted Obama to win:
1. Obama would have looked good as a head of state and would, at least initially, have spun anti-American straw into public relations gold in favor of America and the American version of liberal democracy the world over. Related to this is a purely parochial and self-interested deal: where I live an Obama victory would, again at least initially, make everyone very, very happy. Sure, the spectacle of everybody falling over themselves to pat themselves on the back for our forward-thinking, tolerant, terrifically virtuous wonderfulness would have gotten old quickly, but I still think it might have been nice to live in a place where everyone was happy and in love with life instead of seething with hatred and resentment and I'd still like to see what that would be like, just once. Obama makes people feel good about themselves, and that's not merely a reason he has sparked such enthusiasm, but is also a good in itself (i.e., it's not just a political matter, but also has a degree of what they sometimes try to call "substance" as well, albeit indirectly.)
2. The Republican Party does not deserve to be rewarded for the last eight years of big government fake conservatism. I felt that way in 2004, too, despite the unimpressive Democratic candidate, and it is all the more compelling now. At least one term in the woodshed would benefit the USA and also the party itself.
3. Obama's genuinely even temperament and astute political judgment held out the promise of a campaign that would transcend the culture wars and usher in a less rancorous and perhaps marginally less vapid debate on policies and competing visions for the future that would in and of itself be edifying and, again, is something I would like to live to see once in my life. Perhaps that hope was always naive. Perhaps rationality in national politics is always a pretense, and people always vote from their gut in the end, rationalizing after the fact choices that are in reality senseless, tribal, animalistic, and purely instinctive. (That is, I'm pretty sure, what I may actually believe, for good or ill. But the idea of escaping our reflexive tribal atavisms is appealing nonetheless, perhaps in inverse proportion to how realistic it ultimately may be.)
If I'm honest, number three is frankly, naive or not, the main thing I liked about Obama's candidacy, and I think it is pretty clear now that it is gone forever. Devoted, not to say blinkered, Obama partisans like Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall spent the weekend after the Palin announcement desperately trying to assure their readers and themselves that the Palin pick was a big mistake, an error in judgement that called into question McCain's fitness as an executive, a reckless gamble, and a disaster that proper "vetting" could have prevented. How long would it be, they wondered, before Sarah Palin was forced to withdraw from the race in disgrace? They wish. The indications of this failure of "vetting" are so far rather thin and petty, and against that has to be stacked the pretty significant fact that picking Sarah Palin has, over the course of one week, reawakened the once-dormant culture war, against all - or at least my - expectations, and thereby revived a candidacy that seemed destined to lose. That may be a bummer, guys, but it's not failure.
I still think a President Obama would be good for the country in many ways, and he has conducted himself admirably and shrewdly, as almost always, in the face of this shake-up. It is impossible not to like him, and I do, maybe even more now than before. But the terms of the contest have really changed, and not only because the Republican ticket has managed to close the charisma gap. It's also not just a matter of scurrilously "serving up red meat" for "the base" as media types have condescendingly framed it. Class identity and cultural values matter to people, whether or not they happen to be base; hence, populism works, and, believe it or not, it works both ways. "Bittergate" was and is pretty silly, but it is effective in the hands of a convincing "communicator" because of a sad truth we all know: Obama's laudable post-whatever intentions notwithstanding, "we" (blue state urbanites) really do tend to look down on "them" (everybody else) and have a hard time hiding it. It has long been a big problem for "our" electoral chances. That's why the Palin speech landed all those punches, despite Obama's lovely, quixotic attempts to transcend that dynamic. It may not be fair, but all the temperance and statesmanlike bearing in the world at the head of the ticket won't keep the class ridicule off the internets and the TV. It is poison, as we saw last week, and now it has started I really doubt it will get much less poisonous as time goes on. Do you?
Last week I'd have bet any money that Obama would win; now it's more of a toss-up, and the momentum is, for the time being, with the Republicans, outrageous as that seems to a lot of people, and karmically undeserved as it may be. I know, it was supposed to be our turn, at last. Until last week, we did everything perfectly and the (g)od(d)s favored us. How is it that that horrible, stupid, evil party and their despicable TV network and the simpleton moron-sheep that follow them blindly even though it is not in their interests dare to rain on our beautiful presumptive victory parade? No problem: all we need to do is explain clearly and sarcastically and in words of one syllable how much smarter we are than they are. Why the hell does that keep not working?
Well, this is not the election we might have wanted, but it looks like the one we're going to get. And if it comes down to Ohio again, God, guts, guns, baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet will probably tip the balance as they almost always do when it's close. Right? We'll see, I suppose.
Ta-Nehisi Coates predicts:
The entire Sarah Palin pick comes down to one thing--the hope that George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, or (God forbid) Will.I.Am. will make a joke about moose-burgers. At that point, the McCain campaign will cut an ad which says They're laughing at you. Vote for McCain and you can show the world. You can show them all! Of course said ad will never appear on television but will be screened only for the media--who will then do their job and turn the cable news into giant echo chamber in which the "Real Americans" yell They're all gonna laugh at you! They're all gonna laugh at you! Welcome to Victimology 101--the White Working Class Edition.
Nonetheless, I'd say that this is in fact more or less exactly what's going to happen. It'll work, too, as it has so reliably worked in the past several elections. Probably not enough to swing it, given the circumstances this year, but enough to have an impact and to make the Obama campaign have to work quite a bit harder to demonstrate their candidate's good faith with regard to what my fellow Bay Areans like to think of as the "moron half" of the country. It won't matter that much that Obama himself recoils from and repudiates such tendencies - though it is certainly to his credit that he does. His partisans won't be able to help themselves, and basically it's just really going to complicate the prom this time around.