Welcome! This is my personal blog, where I chat about whatever takes my fancy, reminisce about comics, Old Time Radio, and science-fiction fandoms, review what I feel like reviewing, and so on. It also archives scans of some of the fanzines with which I've been involved.
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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

Four hours' sleep, then up and about.

It's been posted elsewhere on the Internet referring to this moment, but it just keeps coming to mind. It's from Shakespeare's Henry V (Act IV, Scene 3), as King Henry's advisors are concerned that they will lose the upcoming battle. This portion of his response, referring to the fact that the day they are to fight (Oct. 25) is the religious feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispian, resonates this morning:

... Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered --
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition. [make him a gentleman]
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day.

Hope you voted. What an event!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Small-Town Voting Is a Breeze Here

A couple of hours ago, I sent a text message to son Stephen, announcing I'd just voted and asking whether he'd done so yet. He responded, "We're about to head over. Linda [Holmes] said the line in her ward is nuts and that they'd already reached 40 percent turnout as of 10:30 a.m. No early voting, either!" He and his wife are in Silver Spring, Maryland, in the Washington, D.C., neck of the woods, and I have yet to hear that they've finished casting their votes. Topping it off: Stephen works for National Public Radio, and the crew there is going to be up late, late, late tonight. (I'd forgotten that aspect of being in the news media. When The Cleveland Press still existed, election day and the following day were crazy.)

Here is one of the (many) advantages to living in rural Wisconsin. I decided to be at the polling station at 7 a.m.,when the doors opened. (For one thing, a bunch of guys are in the process of installing a heat pump at my house, and I wanted to be there if there were any questions during the day. For another thing -- well, I just wanted to be there when the doors opened.) The crowd that was there already amounted to three people. The doors opened, the first guy said he wanted to register, so he stepped to one side, while the multitude of the rest of us (I think three more people had arrived after me) were processed through. I opted, as ever, for the paper ballot to be read by the optical scanner, there was a minor glitch, the minor glitch was fixed, and I was on my way. [Parenthetical note: This photo is from the September rally I referred to yesterday. That posting was so photo-heavy it made itself crazy, so I saved this one for today. Someday, I'll gain the knack of illustrating this blog so that pictures don't confuse it. Or me. But not today, I fear.]

Now, it's just a matter of waiting -- for both voting results and the heat pump. And I'll be checking out The Daily Show and Colbert Report special broadcast tonight on Comedy Central. Check your local listings.


Monday, November 3, 2008


The day before the election, I'm listening to NPR's coverage on Talk of the Nation of people waiting in line to vote early. (The first guy they interviewed said he'd brought along a book to read while he waiting in line more than three hours: Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book. A comment that elicited host Neal Conan's response that he loves Gaiman's writing, too.)

My mind goes back to the long wait in line (in chilly weather, especially compared to what those folks today are doing) to get through the doors for a Wisconsin pre-primary rally for Obama on February 15. I'd recently decided to back Obama based on his specifics about a "Credit Card Bill of Rights" -- at a time when people were already saying he was a great speaker but didn't provide information on what he'd do that would affect voters. You can Google "Obama" and "Credit Card Bill of Rights," just as I did, and get such specifics as that it would prohibit charging interest on credit-card fees. And that interest rate increases would only apply to future debt.

So I waited in the cold with a slew of others. It was a Friday, so the audience skewed to college students and retirees, and the auditorium was packed. Thanks to my foresight regarding getting there super-early (sorry, frozen ears!), I found prime seating: three rows up on the bleachers, at the end by which he passed from the curtained area to the podium. I was occasionally off-the-message struck simply by his excellence as a public speaker. If you're considering a career that involves public presentations, he uses a number of devices that work brilliantly with a crowd: perfect, albeit casual posture; splendid timing in holding still enough to make good photos possible; smoothly turning to each quadrant of a surrounding audience without lurching from group to group; mastering a hand-held mike, pulling it closer to his mouth as the crowd noise grew louder so that he didn't wait to make his point but simply upping the volume so he could be heard over the rising decibels. Who was it who suggested the term "Obamariffic" after his 2004 speech at the Democrats' convention? In any case, it's now in common use.

The excellence of his or her public speaking is, of course, no reason to vote for a candidate. But, following the candidates throughout primaries, national conventions, and weeks of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, I've found no reason to change my primary choice. Thanks to Bob Chapman's Graphitti and Alex Ross for a T-shirt that gets compliments whenever I wear it.

The lines were as long -- but the weather much better -- September 22. That rally, on a Monday, had attendance affected again by the fact that it was a work day. Nevertheless, still fun, still enthusiastic, still well worth attending.
It seems to me something of an irony that, in this high-tech era, most of the volunteer efforts asked of Democrats are traditional activities: (1) make phonecalls, (2) go door-to-door to talk to people, and (3) hold a sort of house party to "sell" friends on the party's messages. Well, I loathe receiving unsolicited phonecalls (and I'm on Wisconsin's "do not call" list), I hate having strangers arriving unannounced on my doorstep, and I'm none too fond of ostensible parties that are in reality excuses to sell me things.
Guess what three things I didn't do for the Democrats.
What I did turn out to be able to do to help was data entry -- compiled from information received in the course of the telephoning. And that, I was pleased to see, included noting when people asked not to be called again.
And there's yet another aspect of the advantages of this Age of the Internet: I took a photo in February in Oshkosh that I'd be glad to provide to the people who probably most want it. Following his speech in Oshkosh, Obama went around the perimeter of the crowd, shaking hands, waving, talking briefly to those in the front rows. And, yes, having a baby pushed into his arms. My bet is -- especially if he's elected tomorrow -- that the parents of that infant would be happy to have a print of this moment for their own memory book. But they don't even know the photo exists.
So, hey, Democrats with babies who went to the Oshkosh event in February: Were you standing in the front row near his entry-and-exit spot? Did you thrust your child into his arms? Would you like a copy of this photo? It can be yours.


A Month and a Half Since My Last Post?

Yes, well, I've been busy. And today, tomorrow, and Wednesday are pretty much devoted to the installation of a heat-pump system to replace the furnace that's a quarter of a century old or so. But surely it won't be so long until my next post.


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