Monday, December 29, 2008

Feelin' It

I'm into Week 2 down here on the bayou and my snowy life in Colorado seems far away. I'm digging it, getting to know my nephew, Robbie, a bit more. They are so funny at this age:

Me: "I don't know, Robbie. I guess your Aunt Heather is just screwed up."
Robbie: "Well, what are you gonna do about it?"

With my Dad here too and staying in my brother's house, it means all my favorite men are in one place. It also reminds me that I am still without a man of my own and this has to change.

After every holiday, I (always) resolve to get my life together once and for all. Every year, I make small progress but it is taking forever. Hence, some random resolutions for 2009:
Don't be an asshole.
Cease all illegal activities.
Avoid travel, unless by truck, train, canoe or horse.
Date a person I like - preferably not one wearing a suit made entirely of red flags - and make time for him.
Find my destiny.

That last one is a doozy and I haven't even come near it. The topic has been weighing heavily on my mind lately and I feel I'm at the beginning of The Next Thing. Expect this to be a reoccurring theme for 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas-Festivus-Hannukah-Kwanza!

Here's Dad - always a willing model for my "blob" as he calls it - pondering a roll of toliet paper with his name on it, a gift from my brother, Rob. The inner paper roll turned out to be filled with poker chips from his favorite local casino, The Palace. Dad was delighted - two of his favorite things together at once.

I hope everyone has a joyous day filled with laughter and food. We'll be on the bayou eating deep-fried turkey, shrimp gumbo and drinking whatever exotic booze drinks we make up. Or whatever we can afford to buy from the local grocer, who charges OUTRAGEOUS prices ....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Welsh Rarebit

For as long as I can remember, my mother has made a bizarre dish called Welsh Rarebit. For our American purposes, it involves melted cheese over crumbled saltines and, yeah. That's pretty much it. It's one of my Dad's favorite meals and my brothers too.

So, for the second year in a row, my mother whipped a batch of this odd little dish and the men in my family went nuts. My Dad got so excited, we had to make an additional trip to retrieve extra crackers.

It involves crumbling an innocent stack of Premium saltines into a bowl. Next step, gently ladle a giant gob of melted cheese (flour, butter, Velveeta, dry mustard, tobasco, dried onion, worcester, milk) atop. If feeling racy, one could add a few pickle chips. It's like White Trash Stew.

>Sure, I always ate it but was never a fan. Mom is a great cook and I have many favorites but this wasn't one of them. She was merely giving in to one of my father's boyhood requests. I'd always assumed that it only strange enough to be found in our house but I was wrong.

Apparently, Welsh Rarebit can be traced back to 1725 - who knew? (God bless Wikipedia.) It was an ironic name coined in the days when the Welsh were notoriously poor. Only rich people could afford butcher's meat and while in England rabbit was the poor man's meat - in Wales, the poor man's meat was cheese. Welsh peasants were not allowed to eat rabbits caught in hunts on the estates of the nobility, so they used melted cheese as a substitute. Somehow, they also mangled the word itself and "rarebit" came into usage

Grandma Beth brought back the recipe from a Chicago restaurant, where she'd had as an appetizer. Believe it or not, it had evolved into a dainty delicacy. Thankfully, the Clisbys came along and restored it its original blue collar status.

And now, I give you a man in a full state of JOY:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Maybe I should hire a sleigh?

Yeah, you know what's fun? Heading to DIA the day after the airport's "worst accident ever." In any case, I'll be the hungover one carrying a guitar with her fingers crossed.

See you on the bayou!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Me at 43

Okay, so I'm a tad younger in this photo but I love that my cleavage is already evident. Looking forward to lots of gutter balls and the occasional alcohol-fueled strikes at Elitch Lanes this evening.

Here's to getting older because really, what's the alternative?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Family Hunters

My brother, Robert, and his son, Robbie, went on a deer hunt over the weekend in Mississippi (where they live) and Robert bagged his first doe. Pretty dang exciting.

Also, and since our society is moving back to basics what with the giant financial implosion, I think it's a great time to sharpen up those survival skills. Me? I'm happy to be the Family Gardener.

Christmas Came Early

Yes, the weekend's shoe-throwing incident was just the kind of hijinks that the Monday headlines need. I say 'hijinks' because W is damn lucky it wasn't a bomb ... or even a cream pie.

I'd bet $50 that Bush has scant knowledge of the fact that the shoe is the lowest insult in the Arab world - it essentially says that you are lower than the dirt beneath one's shoes. For example, when the giant statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled, hundreds of Iraqis swarmed around it and beat it with their shoes. Calling him a "dog" - well, that just sealed the deal.

Other than W's impressive quick duck (gotta admit, that f**ker has cat-like reflexes), I noticed how he immediately tried to play it cool. "It doesn't bother me," he over-insisted, referring perhaps not just to the projectile footwear but to the world's distaste for him in general. "If anyone wants to know the facts, it's a Size 10."

Sir, you are no Ronald Reagan, so don't even try.

Lots of coverage on this but for some real insight, check out this recorded eyewitness account from Atheer Kakan, an Iraqi reporter for The New York Times. (I love his observation, "Bush looked like he had dealt with this sort of thing before.") Atheer's recount of the dangerously high tension in the room post-incident is flat out scary.

Meanwhile, Muntader al-Zaidi, the incensed journalist - now shoeless - is being held by Iraqi authorities. While he has not been formally charged, he faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of committing an act of aggression against a visiting head of state. (He's also become an instant folk hero and won an award for courage in Libya.)

Bush should expect more of the same - and not just abroad.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Party

In my nearly-43 years on this Earth, I've earned money in strange ways (drove limos, posed nude, parked celebrity cars, shot pool, go-go danced, reviewed restaurants, attended concerts, watched animation, counted F-bombs, etc.) but tonight, I may have topped myself.

I've just returned home $150 richer after indulging a wonderful woman named Esther in a devilish party trick. She'd hired my improv troupe, The Rodents of Unusual Size, for her annual holiday party for her family, friends and Denver Housing Authority co-workers. Only three Rodents were available so we borrowed our funny friend, Will, and off we went with our game list and bag of props.

When we arrived, it became immediately clear that Esther had no idea what our group did. Our first clue came when we asked Esther where we should perform and she said, "All over the house."

After some clarifying conversation, it was determined that Esther expected us to make up outlandish stories about ourselves - essentially, be crazy characters - and mingle. That's right, Esther paid us all to mill around her wonderful party, eat and drink to our heart's content (and I am kinda big-hearted), and just flat out make shit up.

I was all for it but Will had some doubts. "But I HATE parties! I HATE mingling," he said, a twinge of fear and annoyance in his voice. Christa just stood there silently with a deeply furrowed brow and Steve was a tad flummoxed. But there we were, with no other option. (The excessively decorated house - Santa toilet seat covers, Virgin Mary flags - was packed tightly with guests, no real 'space' to perform anyway.) So, we all agreed to give it a go and then, we separated.

As logic insisted, my first stop was the bar, where I tripped up by using my real name. When somebody asked how I knew Esther, I stated flatly that I did not but was simply driving by and spotted a party. Crashing holiday parties was just a way to pass the time, y'see. As I filled my cup with Jack Daniels, they just stared at me, aghast. So far, so good!

Soon, I settled into the character of "Blaze", a magician's assistant with a troupe of 20 called The Majestic Minstrels. We travel the country (300 days a year) in a large purple bus with a decapitated clown head on the hood. Esther had seen our show the night prior and invited me to her party. I am working to pay for my nephew's medical school and yes, I expect free medical care in return when the time comes. (Also, my nephew is actually my son though he does not know that.)

There were many "girl-in-the-box-getting-sawed-in-half-jokes" and I professed to have terrible scars across my abdomen. Also, I was homeless so the job was a perfect cover. Our Minstrels show could be anything from PG to XX - whatever we were booked for. And my boss, the magician, was mean. He was very old school and didn't believe women should have opinions. What he didn't realize was that I've been studying the Dark Arts and have elaborate plans to turn him into a fat turkey someday - hopefully, around next Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Will brilliantly played the role of "Rupert", an academic specializing in the field of Paleography (the study of ancient handwriting) with a special interest in a peculiar bold font used by Nazis. Rupert was 1/2 Welsh, 1/2 Brit with a loud accent that stood out among the cowboy hats and Bronco fans. For all Will's hesitation, he really pulled it off.

Steve remained "Steve" but was an ordained minister in Wyoming. He'd been adopted by lesbians and raised in Kentucky - named after his Aunt Steve. He left his first church (a strange cult) due to an intense dislike of "love seizures" - padded pews were not his style. He eventually started a catering company specializing in food for senior citizens. He basically served a lot of soft food and in many cases, just used a blender.

Christa remained "Christa" but took on the outward behaviors of someone very sad, very scared and very troubled. Everyone was trying to comfort her but I decided Christa needed a reason to be scared. We made a few scenes together when I determined that she was the ex-wife of my ex-husband and I hated her guts and WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE DOING THERE ANYWAY? Did she think that restraining order was just a joke????

We kept fighting throughout the evening and I made some physical threats - always fun. Some people, especially some poor girl named Sarah, was pretty freaked out by our confrontations. At certain points of the evening, it felt like being in an episode of "The Office" with lots of workplace stories, definitive awkwardness and raised eyebrows.

The whole evening was like one long sociological experiment. After we all piled in the car at the end of the gig, we exchanged stories and agreed it was time well spent.

We also came to a few conclusions:

The party guests were pretty interesting in their own right. One old guy talked about having to eat a dog during the Depression and another guy told me about inadvertently blowing up his high school as a teen. Another fellow had escaped political upheaval in his home country of Eritrea and another was a statistician/activist - using science to change the world. I loved these stories and don't care if they were making it all up ...

Also, that while people were interested in our crazy tales, they were unfailingly polite and accepting. Mind you, we each scared away our fair share of party guests (Sorry, Dottie!) but most were like, "Hmmm, lesbians? You say? Cults, you say? Sounds delightful. More cake?"

Most importantly, we found that people like talking about themselves, no matter what. "You've been shot out of a cannon? Wow! That reminds me of the time my brother and I strapped a bazooka to my truck and went to town .." This circles back to the first point, which is everyone has bizarro stories and are happy to share.

Being a big, fat phony has never been so fun. Want to liven up your party? Give us a call: 1-800-BUL-SHIT. (Or, better yet, go through the Rodent website.)

Man-o-man, if I could find a way to do this full-time - I am set.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bettie Page RIP (1923-2008)

Iconic pin-up Betti Page passed away at the age of 85 yesterday. Page was placed on life support last week after suffering a heart attack in Los Angeles and never regained consciousness.

After winning the hearts and loins of so many with her skimpy poses - many of which were S&M-focused - Page mysteriously disappeared from the public eye for decades, during which time she battled mental illness and became a born-again Christian.

Page resurfaced in the 1990s and occasionally granted interviews but refused to allow her picture to be taken. She told an interviewer in 1998:

"I don't want to be photographed in my old age. I feel the same way with old movie stars. ... It makes me sad. We want to remember them when they were young."

Mission accomplished, Bettie. We'll never forget you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Help Save Shoestring Radio!

When I moved to San Francisco in February 1997, I knew one person in town, Michelle, my roommate and childhood friend. For several months, I hung out with her and her friends became mine. Eventually, I branched out on my own, socially speaking, and the first friends I made on my own were Monica Sullivan and Steve Rubenstein.

Monica and Steve are not only husband and wife but partners in two wonderful creative ventures, Shoestring Radio Theatre and Movie Magazine - both on KUSF. (In addition to airing locally in SF, both shows air on 111 stations in 34 states plus Montreal, Canada.)

As the description goes: "Shoestring Radio Theatre is a nationally-syndicated radio drama program featuring original radio plays by contemporary writers as well as adaptations of traditional favorites — everything from classic murder mysteries, 'radio noir,' and historical dramas to contemporary comedies, thrillers, and science fiction."

Thanks to them, I screened gobs of films, interviewed noted actors and directors and also gave the performance of a lifetime portraying an angry French whore in one of the Shoestring productions. I hosted, co-hosted, directed, acted and made a hallway sound like an island cave. Steve & Monica also gave me the opportunity to adapt and direct my favorite graphic novel/comic book. Bringing Terry Moore's "Strangers in Paradise" to life was an experience I'll never forget. All of it - every second - was a blast. I love my life now but I miss Steve and Monica and I miss Shoestring/MM terribly.

Public radio, as you know, is supported by listeners and underwriters and a financial boost is needed. So, Shoestring Radio Theatre is hosting a fundraiser for its home station, KUSF (90.3 FM in San Francisco) tomorrow, December 12. If you can, stop by the Paul Mahder Gallery, 3378 Sacramento St., and watch Shoestring players perform a live, simulated, radio play. Admission is free and donations to KUSF will be welcome and encouraged. The event will run from 7-10 pm. For more info, you can contact Shoestring by email ( or phone, 415/999-2894.

Please tell everyone you think might be interested. The more people who show up the better. If you can't make it physically, like me, consider sending a donation:

Monica Sullivan, Producer
Shoestring Radio Theatre
P.O. Box 590163
San Francisco, CA 94159-0163

As always, thanks for tuning in.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Elected Officials With Beating Hearts Look Like

'Cause you don't see 'em much. They often work silently, without much press. They are like that rare woodpecker - hard to spot.

So, behold Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones from Hamilton, Ohio. Sheriff Jones has ordered deputies to ignore eviction orders when people have nowhere else to live. The sheriff states that such evictions in winter weather - especially during an economic recession - are heartless and those cases should be sent back to the courts and resolved some other way. Said the sheriff:

“It doesn’t cost much for me to be compassionate, and I’m not going to cause somebody to die because I wasn’t compassionate. There has to be some attention drawn to somebody that’s going to be thrown out of their houses that doesn’t have anywhere else to go."

Jones also sent a letter to Gov. Ted Strickland asking him to issue a state order to stop forced evictions for at least the winter months.

The sheriff could face court action if a bank or landlord challenges his refusal to honor a court-ordered eviction and Sheriff said no problemo - that he'd face any consequences of his order.

So there. Some good news in the news for a change. Ohio is lucky to have him.

Call in Gay Day

Since today is 'Call in Gay Day' in California - which means half of my friends are not working today. I considered it but since I'm not gay, live in Colorado and work from home (meaning nobody would notice anyway), I've opted against it. However, I sure hope it has an impact because this whole gay marriage thing should be way over by now.

By now, we've all seen the much-shared "Prop. 8 Musical" starring the man of my dreams, Jack Black. (Note to dudes: Make me laugh and I'M YOURS.) I was thrilled to see that he points out the irony of the "because the Bible says so" mentality, especially the shellfish example. I love that one.

In celebration of calm discourse and sanctioned intercourse, you should celebrate today by viewing this delightful conversation between Jon Stewart and Mike Huckabee. My favorite question from Jon:

"At what point in your life did you decide not to be gay?"

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thank You For Smoking

A few weeks ago, I mentioned to some friends that Obama is a smoker and they were aghast - didn't fit their profile of him. Though much discussed, O has (wisely) not smoked in public. Though it would make an interesting photo, let's face it.

I do appreciate that this nasty habit (which I infrequently dabble in when drunk or upset) gives him a more human quality and takes him down a notch or two on the deity scale.

I/We would make a huge mistake in making this guy into some perfect god and quite frankly, the cigarettes help with this. He's going to do his best at this President thing and sometimes, he's going to fuck up and when that happens, dude is going to need a cigarette - big time.

My favorite TV newsman, Tom Brokaw, succeeded where Barbara Walter failed and got O to fess up during last weekend's 'Meet the Press' interview. When asked if he'd quit, O stammered:

“You know, I have, but what I said was that, you know, there are times where I’ve fallen off the wagon. Well…”

“Well, wait a minute,” Brokaw said. “Then that means you haven’t stopped.”

Totally BUSTED!

“Well, fair enough,” O said. “What I would say is, is that I have done a terrific job under the circumstances of making myself much healthier, and I think that you will not see any violations of these rules in the White House.”

Who set these no-smoking rules anyway? None other than Hillary Clinton who will be around to enforce, no doubt.

Still, O can always take a tip from Willie Nelson and head up to the roof:
"I inhaled frequently. That was the point."

--Barack Obama, when asked if he had inhaled on a marijuana cigarette

Happy December!

I'm rediscovering the joys of singing lately - doing it and hearing it. These fellows are pure fun. They call themselves "Straight, no Chaser" - Indiana University’s men’s A Capella troupe. Enjoy!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Mickey Rourke - Here to Stay, I Hope

I certainly missed him and well, he was never an asshole to me personally.

Big 3: Trampled by the Elephant in the Room

Found this today and it blew my mind:

"Over the past year, the domestic auto industry has experienced sharply reduced sales and profitability, large indefinite layoffs, and increased market penetration by imports The shift in consumer preferences towards smaller, more fuel-efficient passenger cars and light trucks appears to be permanent, and the industry will spend massive amounts of money to retool to produce the motor vehicles that the public now wants.

To improve the overall future prospects for the domestic motor vehicle manufacturers, a quality and price competitive motor vehicle must be produced If this is not accomplished, the long term outlook for the industry is bleak."


Nearly 30 years go, those in the know could see what was coming down the road. So, why couldn't Detroit?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Josh & The Beav

This is the story of two friends of mine that happen to be plants.

On my last visit to the desert branch of the Clisby Empire, I realized that my mother and cousins Linda and Carol had done quite a bit to fix up the old place while I had contributed nothing. So, off we went to the "Dig your own!" cactus store, where I purchased a very young Joshua Tree and a Beavertail Cactus.

We picked special spots, gathered colorful rocks, found a shovel and set about making new homes for the two plants. "The Beav" (pictured above right) went in the front yard, surrounded by gorgeous hunks of jasper, gympsum and sandstone. Meanwhile, young "Josh" was placed in the back, near the old fountain and not far from the shuffleboard court that keeps getting cracked from the earthquakes.

We made the best possible beds for them that we could and I even said a few words of blessing, which inspired some eye-rolling among my family members. Still, I hoped for the best. Y'see, when my Grandpa Wilbur - a North Dakota farmer - first laid eyes on the California desert, he went bonkers for it. The bizarre cactii, the funky birds and the lunar landscape really touched him. This is also how I feel and while many of his beloved cactii have died (swear to god, he'd take pictures of them and frame them), I like the idea of adding new stuff to keep his garden going.

Cousin Linda (picture with Josh, above) was kind enough to water them when she stopped in on her monthly drive from Mesa, AZ to Long Beach, CA. She was doing a great job but had to inform me over Thanksgiving that Josh didn't make it.

After some research, she discovered that Joshua Trees are very finicky about facing the same direction in which they were originally planted. One woman told her, "When you bought it, the pot should've had an 'N' on it to tell you which way to face it North." Hmmm, um, no - nobody told us that.

I guess I'll give it another try on my next desert visit. Let's hope The Beav continues to thrive.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

This Season, Don't Have a Cow - Give One

(This is a cross-post from my other gig at BlogHer.)

The family received a challenge this year from my stepmother, 'Squirrelly Shirley': Spend just $10 per Christmas gift and donate the rest. "I believe our money could help others and that is the real spirit of Christmas," she wrote in her email. She had other ideas, such as sending gifts to soldiers abroad, but her simple plea was this: "Let’s get creative with Christmas this year and give our hearts." And so, Shirley and a few lucky others will be getting baby chicks and bees for Xmas.

At Thanksgiving last week, my family and I discussed the implosion of
capitalism and agreed that Americans have become a nation of acquirers
... and look where it's gotten us. We all have too much stuff and don't
need more. (Okay, so I still want that guitar upgrade and a new Mac but other than that, I'm done. I SWEAR.)

I spent many years giving bits and pieces of my income to various charities and getting my name on every bleeding heart list on the planet. Ultimately, I decided to focus on something personal to me, choosing Smile Train as my favorite monthly cause. However, this year, I'm starting a new annual tradition and zeroing in on Heifer International as my official holiday cause.

Heifer International
is a nonprofit charitable organization built on the long-view philosophy: "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime." Based in Little Rock, Arkansas, their mission is to relieve global hunger and poverty by providing gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to the world's poor.

It is certainly better to provide a goat that will give milk for years rather than just hand over a bag of food that will only last days. Not to mention the feeling of empowerment that a family or individual can retain with the responsibilities of caring for that animal. And let's face it, who doesn't love a goat?

A friend told me recently:

"I have to give business gifts -- as a consultant -- to my clients. These folks have enough desk sets. I started giving Heifer gifts as a business gift. They LOVED them, and I stood out -- after all, how many people get a sheep, a goat, a flock of geese or a llama for Christmas? I had one corporate client say that he was dead tired of getting useless expensive office items that he could never use. He was thankful that good had been done in his name and was going to try to suggest giving to charity as gifts in his own company."

As with most world-changing ideas, it began with one person. The founder of Heifer International, an American farmer named Dan West, was a Church of the Brethren relief worker in Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). With too little rations for distribution, West realized that a long-term solution was needed. Once home, he founded Heifers for Relief, an organization focused on providing families livestock and training so that they "could be spared the indignity of depending on others to feed their children." With this strategy in mind, West also conceived the brilliant slogan "Give not a cup, but a cow."

And so, it began in 1944 with a shipment of seventeen heifers (young cows that have not given birth) from York, Pennsylvania, to Puerto Rico. Each heifer would be a continual source of milk, offspring and fertilizer to each participating family. In exchange for these animal gifts, West required each participating family to take classes in animal husbandry. Also, they had to agree to donate any female offspring to a neighbor who has undergone Heifer's training. In the truest sense of that oft-repeated phrase, West wanted these animals to be the gifts that keep on giving.

Heifer International, as it is known today, gifts cattle, sheep, rabbits, guinea pigs, honeybees, pigs, llamas, water buffalo, camels, alpacas, yaks, horses, chicks, ducks, goats, geese, fish, other regionally appropriate livestock. (Tree seedlings too!) Instead of shipping animals overseas, HI now purchases them in the designated country which puts money into the local economy, reduces transport costs and promotes better health for the animals since they are already accustomed to the local climate, food and diseases. As of 2006, HI-gifted animals and plants have been distributed in more than 125 countries around the globe.

So, when you're shopping for presents this year, think about it: Does your brother really need that Chia Pet? Wouldn't he like a Water Buffalo instead? Okay, so maybe it won't fit under the tree but ultimately, it will take up less room, require less maintenance and he'll be helping out an entire family and ultimately, an entire community.

And, like a wise stepmother once said, this looks and smells an awful lot like the true meaning of the holiday season.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Headed Up the Mountain

As recent tradition holds, the Clisby Clan is packing up all the leftovers (an embarrassment in protein and starches, I can assure you) and heading up to the family cabin in Green Valley Lake. This is the very same cabin that nearly burns down every year and also the site of the world-famous Chick Cabin Weekend.

Activities, in no particular order, include:
Board games
Jigsaw puzzles
More eating
- there is an 'Artist Tour' every year, some good stuff

Also, today is the first annual National Day of Listening, put on by Story Corps. I brought my crude little tape recorder so we'll see how many family members I can get to sit still for this. Check it out and see if you can get your mother or brother to talk about their lives. Everyone deserves to be listened to you ... everyone has a story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hitting Strides

Hear that painful stretching sound? Nope, it's not a wild, angry hyena being tortured, it's the sound of me growing a little. Though I pop around the world a lot, when it comes to normal evolution, my maturity rate is a snail's pace.

Still, I'm making some notable strides lately, worth documenting:

1. A couple of weeks ago, I showed up for my regular weekend horse lesson, and Beanie (my all-knowing teacher) announced: "Today's lesson is ... you ride alone. Bye!" And she took off. So, I've been doing just that. Grooming, tacking, riding and avoiding death all by my lonesome. Then, I found out this week that the two horses I ride regularly (Bob aka 'Mister Dude' & Ben, pictured above) have been moved to a faraway barn and I'll likely never see them again. Just as I peaked, I am left horseless, holding a full bag of carrots. Sigh.

2. As previously mentioned, the improv has been a rollicking good time. I feel like 2009 will bring more expansion and silliness. I need to get better about encouraging my friends to come to the shows. Not a time to be shy.

3. Lo and behold, I still run! Every other day or so, I manage to jog the circumference of Washington Park before breakfast. I sure won't win any races (alas, speed walkers still pass me) but I'm starting to get a groove here. I even shock myself by showing up in the bitter cold. I nearly froze my face off the other morning but scored big points with myself for not wimping out. And you know what? It is unspeakably beautiful at that time of day - the squirrels are extra cute.

4. I'm getting used to singing and playing guitar in front of innocent people. Usually, it goes just fine and no one dies. This only encourages me to do it again. And again. I've started a new weekly habit with my musical-genius friend, Camille, where I provide feedback on her latest brilliant composition and she sits patiently while I warble through whatever simplified tune I've brought. It's gonna help a ton, I can tell.

5. I go to church! Okay, so it's only been twice ... but still! I listen and everything! I even feel better when I leave. It's still early in the relationship but I like it so far.

6. The love life is even proving signs of life after several years of living in the basement. Not sure if my 'picker' is repaired but time will tell.

Full steam ahead ....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Season of Gratitude: Thankful She Didn't Win

Um, wow. This video truly sums it up.

After granting a pardon to one turkey, Governor Palin conducts a press conference with a live turkey slaughter going on behind her. Television stations actually had to blur gory parts of it.

Meanwhile, Sarah is blathering on and on and, gosh darn, is "Just happy to be here!"

Comedically speaking, she's the gift that keeps on giving.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rodents on Fire

Despite a thorny work project being thrown at me today, I was cheerful. Know why?

Fact is, my comedy improv group, The Rodents of Unusual Size kicked major ass last night at our monthly show. Mind you, due to various circumstances, there were only three of us left to play. So Jeff, Christa and I did what any cornered rats would do, we stole a monkey.

Matt Krupa, from that other improv group, Monkey's Uncle, kindly offered his comedic services. Together, we KILLED! Good Lord, my stomach hurt just trying to do scenes.

We play one game called "Back in My Day" which has several of us (we often invite fellow improvers from the audience to join) lined up. The host gathers words from the audience - holidays, nouns, food, whatever - and each one is put to us. When comedy lightening strikes, we hobble forward, playing a grumpy old person, bitching about days gone by with the starter phrase, "Back in my day ... !"

So, the phrase was 'grape juice' and Matt hobbled forward and exclaimed, "Back in my day ... we didn't have grape juice ... our grapes were full of wrath!"

Okay, maybe you had to be there but holy shit, ... laugh? I thought I'd die.

That improv, I'm telling you, it's like a drug. Like flying without a net. Like being on a roller coaster. With a strange wig. And sunglasses. It felt really, really, really fantastic.

Improv and horses: The two main components of my mental health care plan.

A Bully's Come-Uppance

There's really no words to describe this CNN video from the G20 Summit - it's all pretty obvious. My pal, Maria tweeted this with the words, "No one will shake our hand. How sadly fitting."

It says so much about our current standing in the world and, as the announcer observes, "This may be a case of what goes around comes around."

So,, is it January yet?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama's First 100 Days

Yes, it's a bit early to measure his performance since he probably hasn't even packed yet for the Big Move. But when he does, and the weight of the free world lands on his bony shoulders with the sharpest talons you can imagine, people will watch his first few moves like a hawk.

When that happens, please refer to this handy tool that compares the First 100 Days of other presidents in recent history. FDR created the Securities and Exchange Commission, JFK created the Peace Corps, Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act and George Bush ... created the Faith-Based initiative and defended his decision to NOT sign the Kyoto Protocol.

So there's really nowhere to go but up here, Big O.

'The Heartbeat of America' ... on life support

I'm highly annoyed at the auto industry today, GM in particular. As I type this, execs from GM, Ford and Chrysler are going before Congress to discuss whether the Big Three will get a federal bailout. As a happy Ford owner, I realize I should be rooting for the company to be saved but I've searched my gas tank for sympathy and come up empty.

It was the greed of these companies that got them where they are and now they are whining from the bottom of a wishing well. For decades now, since the Nixon era actually, there has been a call to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. How do the Big Three react to this? They flood the market with SUVs and put out the Hummer.

All along, these companies have had access to technology that could seriously reduce our usage of oil and they have dawdled with it. In the end, they took the low road that led to higher profits for the industry and the oil companies. They should be ashamed. Here's why:

In 1990, GM debuted the EV1 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the first car with zero-emissions marketed in the US in over three decades. The vehicles were marketed through dealers located in only a few regions (e.g., California, Arizona, Georgia). The cars were only leased, not sold. Though demand was high, GM ceased production of the vehicles and all the EV1's were destroyed or donated to museums or universities.

A colleague reminded me today to view the documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" which delves into the short life of this GM EV1 electric car. Asks the film's tagline: "How could such an efficient, green-friendly vehicle fail to transform our garages and skies?" Reason? Greed. As long as there are still fossil fuels trapped in the earth, people will pay big money to find it, sell it and burn it.

Flash forward to today: GM recently posted a grim video that details the reverberations of a failed auto industry and how it would affect the economy and smiling factory workers. Yes, it would be fucking scary, no doubt about it but as reporter Brian Naylor commented in this morning's NPR piece, these companies would not cease operations without the bailout. Auto sales are down but they are not non-existent. (If it weren't for sales in places like Russia, China, India and Brazil, they would be even worse.)

So, I reject their sympathetic pleas and remind them that they were born and thrived in a capitalist society that they helped build. Now, they want socialism all of a sudden and I - a bleeding heart liberal - would rather see them get off their asses and stand up to the challenge. They need to rally to the red, white and blue balls (yes, I said blue balls) that these companies try to evoke in their ad campaigns:

"Chevrolet. An American Revolution"
"Built Ford Tough"
"Grab Life by the Horns" (Chrysler)

Please. These companies have proven themselves to be nothing but a bunch of greedy, candy-ass wusses with no long-term view. They need to implode and rebuild themselves from scratch with people who give a thought to the future.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend: Many Highs, One Low

Overall, the weekend was mostly grand. A sampling:

My buddy, Laura, and I participated in the Denver Arts Week by checking out their 'Night at the Museums' where they have a bunch of shuttle buses that visit all the museums for free. Favorite part: The 'Women of the West' exhibit, as part of the 'Denver at 150' at the Colorado History Museum. Weirdest point of the evening was being held captive in the Byer-Evans house while a community theater person rambled on and read us a letter from the Civil War era - which would have made some sense had we been in the South and not in the Rockies.

Laura & I met for breakfast the next morning at the Country Road Cafe, ate too much once again, and went for a gorgeous hike nearby at Pence Park. We discussed how living in Colorado has changed us - that our REI shopping list is often longer than our grocery shopping list. We also sat on a boulder, gazed across a snow-covered mountain range and discussed the idiocy of racism. As Laura observed, "What I don't get is, it's PIGMENT! PIGMENT, PEOPLE! I mean, really? The color of cells? That's what people are so upset about? I don't get it."

Post-hike, I had a horse lesson - meaning I rode my Arab friend, Bob, around a ring while Beanie yelled at me: "SHOULDERS BACK! HANDS FORWARD! LOOK UP! INNER LEG BACK! ELBOWS BENT - LIKE YOU ARE CARRYING A TRAY OF DRINKS! THERE! THAT'S IT!" (The next day, my lesson involved riding alone in the ring - not as loud, or as fun.)

Unfortunately, once I got home and showered, I got online and came across this story in the Denver Post: "Anti-Obama Threats Rise" which listed out just a few of the "hundreds" of horrific incidences of racism since Obama was elected President. I found these two particularly horrifying:

"At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: 'Osama Obama Shotgun Pool.' Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. 'Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count,' the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written 'Let's hope someone wins.'"

"Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted 'assassinate Obama,' a district official said."

The article made me sick. At first, I thought that most of the incidents would be in the South (and many were) but they were mostly on the East Coast and very few in the West, with the exception of Idaho, long a favorite of the skinhead community. I liked to think that we, as a country, had evolved from this type of blind hatred but as the school bus incident attests, the hate is merely being passed down from generation to generation.

I was so saddened and distracted that when I drove to meet my friends, John and Camille, for dinner, I parked my car several blocks away by mistake. Then, I looked up and found myself pondering at a street sign far too long. Without realizing it, I was parked on 'Race' street. Sadly, there was so Harmony Street to intersect it.

The next morning, I checked out the Mile High Church with a new gentleman friend. The place is massive and kinda fancy - with a full professional level band and jumbotrons for those sitting in the outer edges, in the non-fanatical sections.

After the service, everyone was encouraged to meet with 'practitioners' standing by to lead you in a short, personal prayer. Since my church date was participating, I figured I might as well. (Praying is not my thing so I can use all the help I can get.)

I asked the woman, named Lisa, to please help me pray for this country and the people who carry hate in their heart. "I am very, very worried about it," I told her, "and don't know what else to do."

So, we closed our eyes and she said a bunch of pretty words, calling out my concerns to the heavens. I just kept picturing that school bus full of children, chanting for the death of their new president and tears just flowed down my cheeks. Finally, she finished and I opened my eyes and saw that her eyes were full of tears too.

Honestly, I just don't know if mankind will ever fully resolve this issue until we are, at last, all one color.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Very Sexy Horse

But not the kind of horse that you take home to mutha ...SUPER FREAK!

(Photo Credit: Julian Wolkenstein.)

One More Gush, I Swear ...

Now that he's ours and we get to keep him, Obamamania has reached a global fever pitch. Thousands of articles, photographs, broadcasts and blog posts across the nation and the globe have celebrated Obama's victory last week. In an effort to convince myself that it's real and not a hopeful delusion, I may have read/seen them all.

So, before reality sets in - and its going to come storming in like a herd of angry elephants - I want to share my favorite quote from this shining moment in history. It was in a Wall Street Journal article from last Thursday, "World Greets Obama Win With Hopes, Warnings":

"I feel like someone has slapped me in the face," says Afrouz Tavakoli, a 35-year-old Iranian mother of two small boys, who cried as Mr. Obama's victory was announced. "I suddenly have newfound respect for America's democracy and ideals."

Other than the face-slapping, this is exactly how I feel - like the 'idea' of America just might be the real thing after all.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Old Friends

From the looks of this photo - the big hair and stonewashed jeans - it was probably snapped around 1988 in my college apartment. The women assembled (I'm the tarty one second from right) are my oldest and dearest friends. My memories with them go back to first grade and despite the upheavals of life, we have remained steadfast buddies ever since. We were, in fact, Camp Fire Girls together until we graduated from high school. (Wow - there goes my street cred.) We even had a 'gang' name: The Destroyers.

This weekend, two of them - Lisa (center) & Kath (on far left) - flew to Denver from Orange County, California to visit the Colorado Destroyer Contingent; Amy (second from left), who lives in Parker, and myself. (Diane on the far right couldn't make it.)

Kath brought a beautiful sympathy card for Simone's passing made by her darling daughter, Emma, aka "The Mighty Gumdrop." It was so incredibly thoughtful, I nearly cried.

Meanwhile, for comic relief, Lisa presented me with two ancient (July 1978) issues of Tiger Beat featuring the heart-throbs from our silly youth: Shaun Cassidy (someday I'll post the photos from my infamous Shaun Wall), Lance Kerwin, Leif Garrett, Andy Gibb, Scott Baio (a girl we knew was a dedicated stalker) and Parker Stevenson. Don't forget Willie Aames and Mark Hamill! Some sample cover headlines:

"Shaun: Why His Kisses Are Special!"
"Leif: What (Or Who) Upsets Him The Most?!"
"Scott: Help Choose The Songs He Sings!"

It reminded me how excruciating it was to be a teenage girl. All those raging hormones and no outlet, hence, the extra exclamation points.

For the most part, I was the tour guide and it was fun showing off my new state: Country Road Cafe in Kittridge (best breakfasts in The World), my beloved horse friends in Indian Hills and, of course, Red Rocks.

Already, in our early 40s, we have learned just why it is that old people talk about their ailments nonstop; it has begun. Our eyes, our hips, our agility ... the word "bunions" even crept into the conversation. "Okay, it is waaaaaay too soon for this, ladies!" I stated emphatically.

But the first thing to go with all four of us? The memory, it's just not what it used to be. I guess it's what happens when you're made of meat and the decay begins. I'm just glad I kept these wonderful gals around to help fill in the blanks.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yummy Factoids of the Day

#1) McCain aides were horrified to discover that Sarah Palin did not understand that Africa was a continent, not a country; and could not name the three countries that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement — the United States, Canada and Mexico.

#2) Voters in U.S. 2008 presidential election: c. 131 million.
Total voters in all U.S. pres. elections, 1788-1908: c. 137 million

Nice to see that the country rallied to vote and to dodge the FUCKING BULLET OF ANOTHER SMILING-WINKING DUMB ASS IN POWER.

Yay, us!

The Red, the White and finally .... The Blue.

In the latest issue of Denver's 5280 magazine, I was astonished to see a 1924 photo of hundreds of white hooded Klansmen parading proudly down the streets of downtown Denver. They were offering their support to Denver mayoral candidate, Benjamin F. Stapleton, who won the election. Later that same year, Clarence J. Morley, an open member of the Ku Klux Klan was elected as Colorado's governor.

Flash forward 84 years: This is the very same state that turned blue on Tuesday and helped to elect the nation's first African-American president. Many theories abound on this issue, among them being the influx of Californians who have moved here and brought their liberal ideals with them. That might be true but mostly, I just think that Coloradans are tough and smart and don't fancy being left behind.

Either way, I'm immensely proud to be an American ... and especially a Coloradan.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New America

Last night, America turned this battered ship around. We got us a brand new clear-eyed Captain and just in the nick of time. These are desperate times and every day's news just brought more woeful headlines. We NEED this. Not to mention the world. Did ya'll feel that rush of wind last night? That was the planet population heaving a gigantic sigh of relief. Blew my papers right off my desk and everything.

I took the above photo from the Obama Campaign Headquarters here in Denver. There was always so much optimism there. Everyone was so focused and so determined to make things right again. Obama's oft-repeated phrase, "This isn't about me, it's about you" is dead-on. Let's face it, he's just one man and he certainly didn't get to the Oval Office on his own. He is certainly not going to be able to clean up the mess by himself so, grab a broom everyone!

After watching the emotional images last night on television, one sticks in my mind. An African-American professor at Howard University in DC standing in front of legions of joyful students. A reporter is trying to get some words out of her and the professor is trying her best but she's simply overcome with emotion. The professor - I don't know her name - looked to be in her early 60s, old enough to remember the painful struggles of the civil rights movement. There are tears streaming down her face and she is completely stunned by the reality of a black man leading her country. She squeaked out a few words, "I ... I ... am ..." but the reporter eventually ran out of airtime and gave up.

I can't even fathom what the African-Americans of this country are feeling today but I do know what I'm feeling: Intense pride and honest-to-God real joy. There is only word for this day: VICTORY.

Postscript: The only thing that bothers me today is the realization is that Simone lived her entire life under the Bush Administration. Truly, that is a horrible reality for anyone - man or beast. Hopefully, she's on the lap of Obama's beloved grandmother somewhere in the heavens and they are pleased and purring.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Goodbye to a Friend

My best friend died today and life is going to suck for a long time.

I'd visited Simone earlier today at the hospital and outwardly, she seemed fine. She rubbed her fuzzy black head all over me and I gave her coat a good brushing - her favorite thing. She opened all cabinet doors, pulled out drawers and even gave herself a bath while I read an ancient People magazine.

Then, they took her away for an ultrasound. The vet - an incredibly kind, cool woman named Erin Miller - called me later at home to say that Simone was "one sick kitty." Besides liver failure, her lymph nodes were enlarged, her gallbladder was irritated and her pancreas was just plain "angry." Still, they had a plan - liver biopsy, blood transfusions, pain medications and so on. I said 'yes' to everything, knowing full well the bill would climb into the thousands.

We made plans for me to visit Simone tomorrow and I hung up. In anticipation of houseguests next weekend, I began to clean the house for about 20 minutes. The phone rings and it's Dr. Miller again. "I think you better get down here. Simone just took a big breath and collapsed. She's on the table right now and we're giving her CPR."

I broke several speed limits racing to the hospital and the Dr. took me in to the operating room. There were four people working on her but she was clearly gone. Her skin was all yellow and tubes were everywhere. I asked them to stop and thanked them through warbly tears. Dr. Miller then scooped her up in a big, leopard-print blanket, handed her to me and motioned for me to follow her.

We walked down a long hallway into a quiet room clearly designed for this very situation. Cushy couches and lots of Kleenex boxes. I sat there weeping and cradling my kitty for a very long time and the good doctor sat with me, telling me how impressed she was with Simone's toughness. Dr. Miller let me ramble on about various memories and laughed in all the right places. Those people are saints, I tell ya.

Eventually, I handed her limp body over to the doctor and that was incredibly difficult. Even though I had lifted up her head and could see that her soul had checked out, stroking her fur had been a comfort - at least physically, she was still there.

Next, I was given options (yes to biopsy, yes to ashes) and signed another enormous bill. Then, I made a couple phone calls and eventually left the building with my empty cat carrier.

Now I am home and the apartment is horribly still. Thankfully, I have long-made plans this evening and they couldn't be with more suitable company. Laura moved here this summer from Chicago and we were pals in San Francisco. It was she who told me long ago of a wild black kitten that needed a home and did I know of anyone?

Simone was feral and beyond feisty when I picked her up on New Year's Day 2001 - the first day of a new century. Because she was so wild, her keepers warned me, "Let us know how it turns out. You can always bring her back." I made it clear: "You don't understand, I'm taking her HOME." I promptly named her after another fierce and beautiful black creature - Nina Simone - and that was that.

Words just don't fit around the expanse of my sadness and I'm so glad this little black cat crossed my path.

Goodbye, Simone.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sick Kitty on Halloween

I just spent the last five hours in two different vet offices dealing with the news that my best friend - who happens to be a cat - has liver failure. Simone has not been herself the last week or so and now I know why. She is currently in the kitty hospital, hooked up to an IV and, undoubtedly, swearing at everyone in sight with that deep, rumbling 500-horsepower growl of hers.

I'll admit, I cried most of the afternoon and not just when I handed over the deposit of $950 for her weekend care.

Handsome Vet: "Are you okay?"
Me: (Sputtering, trying to keep composed but failing.) "N-n-no."
Handsome vet: "Are you going to be okay?"
Me: "Ummmmmm. Eventually, I guess."

Quite simply, if I lose her, I'm screwed. Sure, I've got lots of friends and family but they mostly live far away and have their own lives. This is my day-to-day connection and my singular world would get downright echo-y without her around the house.

I had plans for tonight but I'm not so sure I'm in the mood. Especially when black cats are a decoration favorite on this Hallow's Eve. Wah. I think I'll just stay home and watch more "Buffy" ...

For you praying types, can you sneak in a good word for Simone? She's a great friend and I need her to last quite a bit longer. THANKS.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Real Political Animals: Donkey and Elephant

(This is a cross-post from my other gig at BlogHer.)

Democratic Donkeys and Republican Elephants: The political animal imagery has been around so long - at least 180 years - that we no longer question the how or the why. In fact, I'd forgotten about it entirely until Sarah Palin showed up to a rally wearing a red-white-and-blue donkey neck scarf on October 21. Naturally, she got slammed with lots of 'WTF?' blog posts and news headlines and her misplaced accessory might've been overlooked but the darn thing had the word "VOTE" all over it.

So, let's go back to the beginning. The first evidence of a donkey symbolizing the Democratic Party was in 1828 when Andrew Jackson ran for president. Like the political battles of today, name-calling ensued and his opponents labeled him a "jackass" for his populist views and his slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson, however, turned the tables and used donkey imagery in his campaign posters. Throughout Jackson's presidency, the donkey was used to represent Jackson's stubbornness, particularly when he vetoed re-chartering the National Bank. (Hey, that sounds familiar ...)

Meanwhile, the elephant first appeared in 1864 as a symbol of the Republican Party when Abraham Lincoln used it in some of his campaign literature. The pachyderm appeared again in an 1872 Harper's Weekly political article. But it was Harper's political cartoonist, Thomas Nast, who cemented both donkey and elephant as permanent party symbols.
"The elephant has a thick skin, a head full of ivory, and as everyone who has seen a circus parade knows, proceeds best by grasping the tail of its predecessor."

--Adlai Stevenson, Democratic presidential candidate, 1952

In his first cartoon featuring the donkey, published in 1870, Nast penned the animal kicking a dead lion. He branded the donkey as the Copperhead Press and the lion as Edwin M. Stanton, President Lincoln's secretary of war, who had just died. In Nast's mind, the cartoon illustrated a Democratic press whose lingering anti-war beliefs dishonored Stanton. ('Copperheads' were Northern Democrats who had opposed the Civil War from the beginning; Nast considered them anti-Union racists who had acquired too much power.)

Nast's first use of the elephant appeared in an 1874 "Third Term Panic" cartoon that also featured a disguised donkey chasing frightened animals. An elephant depicting the "Republican Vote" stumbled towards a pit labeled "Inflation" and "Chaos." From Nast's perspective, the elephant represented the effects of Copperhead Democrat scare tactics, as well as the confused lumbering body that Nast felt that Republican voters and publications had become.

Known as the "Father of the American Cartoon", Thomas Nast unwittingly contributed two of the most enduring political symbols of this nation and I find it pretty damn delightful that he was a German immigrant. Nast's cartoons went on to illustrate the beauty of emancipation and to lambaste the poor treatment of blacks, Chinese, Native Americans and basically any people that were being oppressed. Except the Irish - Nast HATED the Irish.

But it was his famous skewering of corrupt New York Democrat, William “Boss” Tweed, which delighted readers the most. Tweed's fear of Nast's cartoons was widely quoted:
"Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!"

The best part? When Tweed was eventually indicted, he fled to Cuba, and then Spain. Officials wired ahead to Spain to arrange for Tweed’s arrest. The Spanish authorities, however, had no photographs of Tweed to identify him, so they used one of Nast’s cartoons. Bingo! Tweed was arrested as soon as he stepped off the boat.

Oh yeah, one more thing: Thomas Nast also gave us the enduring and overwhelmingly jolly images of Santa Claus in 1863. Before Nast got to St. Nick, he was tall, skinny and somewhat dour. (Nast also gets credit for Uncle Sam's goatee.) How crazy is that? Almost as crazy as finding out that Willard Scott, occasional weatherman and centenarian lover from 'The Today Show', created the Ronald McDonald character, which is also true.

On his blog, Amused to Life, Reese wonders if given the choice, would the same symbols be chosen today?:

"Interestingly, in these days of product branding and trademarks, the Democratic Party has still not officially adopted the donkey as their mascot (though they use it widely), while the Republicans have officially adopted the elephant. It begs an interesting question. What icons they would choose if they were to start from scratch and begin the process again. Doves and hawks? A tree and an axe? A bouquet of flowers and a pistol? A wishing well and an oil platform? Peanut butter and jelly? For the last, certainly not, because we know despite all the platitudes of bipartisanship, they clearly don't mix well together."

Another take on the symbolism from Kevin Scarborough at Scarborough's Fair, a Ron Paul supporter. (Actually, his reasoning makes more sense to me but who am I? A jackass, that's who.):

“These symbols cover both eastern and western religions. The donkey from the democrats represents the western religions of Judaism and Christianity. The Messiah is said to be riding a donkey, and Jesus, too, rode a donkey. The elephant represents the eastern religions (specifically Hinduism). It is Ganesha, the elephant headed deity and one of the most worshipped Hindu gods. Also, it represents Airavata, the white elephant that Indra (God of war, weather, and King of the gods) rode upon.

In both instances there is the notion of royalty. Jesus was the Messiah who was the King of Kings and King of the Jews and rode upon the donkey, and Indra, King of the gods, rode upon an elephant. Both hint at royalty, divinity, and sovereignty. Notice the use of the stars. One is opposite of the other, right side up, and upside down. They are opposite expressions of the same divine symbol."

Olivier Blanchard over at The Brand Builder Blog, offered some great excerpts from Williams Safire's probe into this symbolism. Olivier also asks readers to use current symbols as more relevant updates. The results?:

"Just wondering if maybe political logos like the ass and the elephant - which have pretty much lost their meaning sometime at least three generations ago - are still the best emblems to represent political parties that look and sound nothing like they did back in 1874. I posed the questions to a few friends today and this is what they came up with ...Star Trek and beer. I may have to broaden my focus group just a tad."

Finally, who says the folks at Associated Press don't love scary squash? The AP has helpfully provided a bunch of great political pumpkin stencils, including donkey and elephant, for your Friday night festivities.

Update: On Oct. 26, the Contra Costa Times reported in its "The Eye" column that the donkey scarf was given to Palin by former Hillary Clinton supporter Linda Williams, of Carmel Valley, Calif., who claimed that she gave up the vintage 70s item to send a message that she was now supporting Palin.