Saturday, October 25, 2008

"I Kid You Not... "

(portions of the following are taken from and/or paraphrased from

Yesterday, with less than two weeks remaining in the campaign, Governor Sarah Palin gave her first policy speech, urging the federal government to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), “a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.” This is an act, by the way, that her running mate has voted against repeatedly ( In her speech, Palin cited the need to do more for children with disabilities such as autism:

"For many parents of children with disabilities, the most valuable thing of all is information. Early identification of a cognitive or other disorder, especially autism, can make a life-changing difference."

Palin claimed that the amount that Congress spends on earmarks “is more than the shortfall to fully fund IDEA.” She then ridiculed some of the projects — such as “fruit fly research” — saying they have little or no value:

"Where does a lot of that earmark money end up anyway? […] You’ve heard about some of these pet projects they really don’t make a whole lot of sense and sometimes these dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good. Things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."

Palin did not specify what fruit fly research earmark she was referring to (presumably a grant for olive fruit fly research), but she is apparently unaware that scientific research with fruit flies has led to valuable discoveries that have boosted autism research, as a study at the University of North Carolina demonstrated last year. Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine have shown that a protein called neurexin is required for... nerve cell connections to form and function correctly. The discovery, made in Drosophila fruit flies may lead to advances in understanding autism spectrum disorders, as recently, human neurexins have been identified as a genetic risk factor for autism.

The study of fruit flies has also been used for other autism research and “revolutionize[d]” the study of birth defects.

In the obvious ways, I am going to miss Governor Palin... that is, until they give her a show (and substantial wardrobe/stylist budget) on Fox.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I sometimes--no, make that I often--upset my wife by bringing my camera on our walks with the dogs. I brought it yesterday. We happened upon this young deer on the side of the road, in front of the ballet school on Evans Valley Road. I didn't retouch this one. This is the way the camera captured the blood and the glassy eyes.

We often see deer as we drive home from wherever. Dusk is their domain. I am still not quite used to seeing them. They are majestic and incredibly graceful. They are alert of their surroundings. Usually. They are, however, no match for a half-ton pickup truck. I figure, they were here before we were. We should afford them every courtesy and consideration. Yes, they eat from our fruit trees and our crops. It's not their fault we planted what we have in their path.

Please, when you see the deer in your headlights--slow down. Let them pass. Let them live. It's their world as much as it is our's. Maybe more.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Fat Lady Sang

Last night, we went to Mac's Place, on Water Street, to watch the game with some friends. A young guy gave me shit (in fun) from the get-go, telling me that the Sox have had their championships and that it was time for another team. By the time we left, I was giddy with victory, fueled in no small portions of Jack rocks and Drop Top Amber. The Sox won. They went from a 3-1 deficit to evening up the series. "I'll see you Wednesday night," I told Mike, the kid.

"Fuckin' A." He replied.

Actually, I won't see him Wednesday night. The baseball season ended for me tonight, and with it, summer. It's turning cold here. The leaves are aflame with color and the air is crisp. It'll be a long time until spring training.

Of course, I am sad that the Red Sox didn't beat the Rays. I got a little upset when I saw someone holding a sign reading "The Improbable Dream" at the end of the game. 1967 was the summer of "The Impossible Dream," remember? And it was. And we didn't get there.

It turned out last season that Tom Brady and the Pats were mortal after all. They had enough championships, I guess.

Will the power trio of Pierce, Allen and Garnett pull off another championship season? It remains to be seen, eh?

Being from Boston is a state of mind as much as a starting point. There are very tangible things that hold me to that place, just as it does for all the others who have travelled west. Sure, the teams. The subway. Fried clams and Nantasket in the summer. Or the cape. Their autumn is famous for the foliage. We share that. And we share that abstract locale known as Red Sox Nation.

It is still in Boston tonight. No celebrations. Wait 'til next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It Ain't Ovah...

Okay. I'll admit it. I had just about written them off. I should know better. Big Papi knew better...

Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.

Now, on to St. Pete. One mo' time...

If You Can't Beat 'em, Jeer 'em.

No sooner do I praise the Lord for inventing Photoshop that I must wonder if it's being applied for dirty tricks. The above image comes from the usually impartial news wire service, Reuters. It is a shot taken immediately after last night's third and final presidential debate. These are the moments where I think bloggers run into trouble-- when the truth is beyond comprehension, comparison and comment. Fiction falls short when we have such photographic documents. The caption alluded to something about McCain going the wrong way after the debate. Don't get me started. I mean, he's gone the wrong way since losing to W. eight years ago. But, he looks like Nelson Muntz, the bad kid on the Simpsons... sticking his tongue out at the man who would be president.

Yes, the Red Sox are scoreless against the Rays in the fifth and what may be the final game in the ALCS. I take no solace in last year's championship. Although, 2004 was so sweet. There was frost on the ground this morning. The realities of the season. The Celtics are suiting up and getting ready to hit the parquet. With any luck, Kevin Garnett will have his number retired after being named Secretary of Defense. Hold the applause, please. William Ayers could lob some incendiery device somewhere and it will be GAME OVER. Something tells me, however, that Mr. Ayers will remain in the past and Senator McCain will soon join him. Sarah? She has Todd. Isn't that punishment enough for her rabble-rousing? Maverick, my ass. I'm going back to the game. Philly-Tampa? Fox-TV's worse nightmare. Dropping ratings and low advertising revenue. Do I hear bailout?

Stay tuned. It keeps getting more and more interesting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Green Monster Never Lies

Every so often, disparate worlds collide, and so it is with this year. Politics and sports. Odd bedfellows, to be sure. One inspire while the other infuriates. One instills hope while the other reinforces cynicism. Sometimes, it's hard to tell which does what. Unless, of course, if you're a member of Red Sox Nation. Being called a Red Sox fan has proven inadequate in covering those that throw down Sam Adams drafts and crowd the bar at Sonny MacLean's in Santa Monica. The throngs that show up rooting for the visiting team in St. Petersburg or Seattle, Anaheim or-- perish the thought-- the Bronx. For years--85 seasons, to be exact-- getting close and coping with the curse was the glue that held us together. Maybe this will be the year. Or maybe next.

I learned to be one of the faithful through osmosis and a kind of hero worship. My maternal grandfather--Jacob Mann-- was a fiercely proud and stoic man, simple and never verbose. Well, I didn't learn that last quality from him. He used to watch the Red Sox on the black and white console set from his gold fabric Archie Bunker chair. Many times, he would call the unhearing little gray players "bums," wave a dismissive hand at him and announce to his wife that he was going upstairs to bed... in the 8th inning! He used to do that with the Friday Night Fights sometimes, too-- retiring in the middle of the 11th round, with just one more to go.

I will never forget my first game at Fenway. I was six years old. The Sox were playing the Yankees and our team won, 10-6. I saw Ted Williams play. And Jackie Jensen and Frank Malzone. Not a single black man in uniform. That wouldn't happen for another three seasons, when Pumpsie Green hit the field. Many think of Boston as the bastion of Brahmin Liberalism, but lift the rug and you'll see the deep-seeded hatred between the various ethnic groups within the neighborhoods that make up the city. I saw it at its worst when school busing was instituted in the 70's.

1967: The Impossible Dream. On the West Coast it was the Summer of Love. It was the beginning (and the end) of the contrived "Bosstown Sound"-- The Beacon Street Union, Ultimate Spinach, Eden's Children and Earth Opera. But at Fenway, it was Captain Carl and his teammates. Rico Petrocelli and Tony C. Reggie Smith and George Scott. Jim Lonborg and Kenny "Hawk" Harrelson." I remember Hawk being like Namath. A ladies' man and clothes-hound. A dandy on Newbury Street and an tireless outfileder. The dream did, indeed turn out to be impossible, but for that one brief shining moment, we believed more than ever. We could bury the Bambino's ghost and rise up. World champs? It felt like we could make it. And then, we-- the fans, the players, the world as we knew it-- remembered it was the Red Sox: the Heartbreak Boys of Summer.

1975. I will never forget this one, either. Indian summer kicked in big time, warming the team from the fall chill. Windows around the city were open like it was July. I was in Allston, wtaching the game with my girlfriend. Each crack of the bat was echoed throughout the city with corresponding shouts and cheers. The boundaries of Fenway were stretched to encompass fire escapes and third floor apartments in Brookline and Brighton, Southie and East Boston. The awesome outfield of Dewey Evans, Jim Ed Rice and Freddie Lynn. Rico at third, Carl at first with Rick Burleson at short, and Butch Hobson backing up at second. Tim McCarver backed up Carleton Fisk that year as catcher. And it was the time of the Spaceman. El Tiante may have been the twisting, twirling phenom, but it was Bill Lee that caught so many fans' attention. Hearing that echoe of solidarity felt so good. Even if we lost--and lost hard--we were all in it together, and it was a hell of a ride.

2004 changed everything. And now, what do we have left to prove? Can we win back-to-back World Series? Can we even get past Tampa? Does it matter?

When you watch Jacoby, Jed Lowrie and Dustin Pedroia, you see the tradition being passed on. Yes, they are incredibly great athletes each one of them. Young and proud. Would they be what they are on any other team? When Jason Bay came to the team in the deal that sent Manny to the other league and the other coast, he expressed a kind of universal wonder and joy. He wasn't playing for just any team anymore. He was a member of the Red Sox--the World Champs!

It's called the National Pastime for good reason. It matters so much to me because so little else makes as much sense. Yes, it's "only a game." But it is played (for the most part) with honesty and integrity. Clemens didn't bulk up until long after taking off his Red Sox uniform. These guys-- the kids like Jacoby and Jed and the vets like Tim Wakefield--have fun, while instilling hope in younger kids and offering up smiles and pride to the life-long fans. It's a simple and a good thing. I know my life would be less enjoyable without my citizenship in Red Sox Nation.

And that is especially true in light of the recent turn of the presidential race in the nation we call the United States. John McCain had pledged to run a campaign on the high road in April, when the season began. Now, as the playoff finals are about to begin, he is spitting on the ball, corking up his bat and slinging mud hard and fast. He is trying to paint Barack Obama as a man of mystery. A strange black man with a strange name and inciendiary past. His lipstick wearing pitbull of a VP candidate is calling Obama a terrorist. I actually heard someone in her audience in Florida scream, "kill him!" Fear and smear. Fear and smear.

In a perfect world, the Red Sox will take the series from the Dodgers in six and Barack Obama will be named the 44th president on November 5th.

Monday, October 6, 2008

In Her Own Words

There are times when fiction, embellishment or even open-mike night at the local comedy club cannot compete with reality-- a term I use loosely here. The word "reality," like "truth" is often user-defined. Bearing that in mind, here are just five quotations from the Republican candidate for vice-president of the United States... a mere heartbeat away--

"As for that VP talk all the time, I'll tell you, I still can't answer that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the VP does every day?" --Sarah Palin, interview with CNBC's "Kudlow & Co", July 2008

"Oil and coal? Of course, it's a fungible commodity and they don't flag, you know, the molecules, where it's going and where it's not. But in the sense of the Congress today, they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So, I believe that what Congress is going to do, also, is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it's Americans that get stuck to holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here. It's got to flow into our domestic markets first." --Sarah Palin, billed by John McCain as the nation's foremost expert on energy, answering a question at a town hall meeting, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Sept. 17, 2008

"Well, let's see. There's -- of course -- in the great history of America rulings there have been rulings." --Sarah Palin, unable to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe vs. Wade, interview with Katie Couric, CBS

"You know, there are man's activities that can be contributed to the issues that we're dealing with now, with these impacts." --Sarah Palin, responding to a question on the global warming, during the interview with Katie Couric, CBS

"They are also building schools for the Afghan children so that there is hope and opportunity in our neighboring country of Afghanistan." --Sarah Palin, speaking at a fundraiser in San Francisco, Oct. 5, 2008