The Illinois Senate Gong Show

I don’t have to post much about this because you probably already know that Rod Blagojevich is now soon-to-be-forgotten history here in Illinois.

I watched his last speech just before the state Senate did their thing. It was so beyond pathetic that I am, for a change, at a loss for words. He went on and on about “why didn’t you impeach me in my first term,” and the only answer I can think of is, “possibly because George W. Bush was still in office and he actually made you look good.”

Anyway, it’s all over but the courtroom drama. Like I said before, enough. And to paraphrase what someone long ago said after the last of the conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln was hanged: “we want to know his name no more.”

The Ice Queen Vanisheth

I’m a figure skating freak, have been since I was a kid. So here’s my figure skating commentary. Love it or…too bad.

I watched USFSA Nationals last week for the first time in a few years. It used to be that in figure skating, if the sport was well between Olympics, you could recognize at least half the names on the competitive roster at any event. This was always true at the second-to-last Nationals before the next Olympics, and especially true at the last Nationals before the Olympics, (which will take place next year).

No matter what the year, there always seemed to be one or two perennials — old campaigners who had been around longer than 2 years, and usually kept either winning or running-up to the perennial winner. And then there was the upstart, sometimes as young as 11, threatening to upset everything with a triple-triple combination.

But at this second-to-last Nationals before the Olympics, none of this happened.

I should explain first that like ballet, Figure Skating is Woman. In the U.S., the competitions are really all about the Championship Ladies event. If the U.S. is weak in any other field — Championship Men’s, Pairs, or Ice Dance, it’s no big deal. But if the Ladies are weak, then the whole sport, according to the media, is going down the poop shoot never to return. Right now the Ladies are at an historic low. Possibly there’s been no time since the first few years after the 1961 plane crash that the U.S. has been so entirely devoid of even one female figure skating star.
It’s so bad that, while watching the 2009 Nationals, I felt like I was waking up after a 100 year sleep. There were no names that were terribly familiar except for that perennial also-ran Bebe Liang, who has the distinction of having competed in Senior (a.k.a. Championship) Ladies for approximately 100 years even though she’s only about 20.

I could name two of the three girls who ended up on the Senior Ladies’ podium, but honestly, this was the first time I’d seen either of them skate. Both are perfectly competent. One has artistry and the other has athleticism, but neither has the “x-factor.” They just aren’t stars. There was one other girl who was the Ladies’ champion last year — Mirai Nagasu. She finished off the podium, but actually did provide a flash of the old human-interest element that has, until now, always been strong in figure skating in the U.S. But it was only for a moment, and then she disappeared just like her tears did during her freeskate and we were back to watching Hoosit, Whatsit and WhytheHellIsIt.

It’s hard to put a finger on what happened, because the girls who ended up on the podium are lovely kids and excellent skaters by any measure. But they aren’t great. They don’t have the ability to make you cry like Michelle Kwan, or make you gasp like Sasha Cohen. You don’t want to know what is going on beneath the hairdo like you did with Dorothy Hamill. In fact, Hamill was in the crowd, as was Brian Boitano, and Elaine Zayak was coaching. I kept thinking about how sad it was when the most interesting skaters at the competition were sitting in the stands and in the coaches’ box.

I’ve read a few articles that claimed that the new scoring system is conspiring against the current U.S. ladies, who have always been more artistic than athletic. Hogwash. Actually, for years the U.S. ladies’ artistry has been brutally criticized, especially by European judges. I remember Dorothy Hamill being derided as “too athletic; unfeminine,” and she was far from the only one who received that kind of criticism. It has continued almost to this day; in fact, a few years back I seem to remember having heard speculation that U.S. skaters would suffer under the new scoring system because so much value would be placed on what used to be called “presentation” — which is the exact opposite of the nonsense the experts are spewing out now.

There’s also been some hint that the U.S. women are too old (as in, they’re past puberty) and can’t jump. Again, this is nonsense. It was nonsense even in the days of the 6.0 scoring system. Think about it: the U.S. men, save for one, have not been especially famous for doing quad jumps. Part of the glory of the new scoring system was supposed to be that it would bring to attention skaters who were not necessarily known as jumpers — and this did happen in the men’s division. But prior to that, the rest of the world had been quad jumping all over the place for the better part of a decade. Does this mean the U.S. men are too old? Why do we never hear that argument from the lousy pedophiles who keep making that argument about the women?

Again, this new scoring system was initially put in place partially to deemphasize the jumps. Too many skaters under the old 6.0 system were doing nothing but crossovers between jumps, punctuated by a few anemic spins. Remember all the grumbling about Tim Goebel — the Quad King who couldn’t skate? How about Tara Lipinski and Sarah Hughes, the triple-triple jump specialists who didn’t seem to know one edge of a blade from another? (Oh, by the way, they were also both very, very young when they won the Olympics.)

The new scoring system was also put in place because the quality of the jumping of very young skaters often sucks. (Again, think of Lipinski and Hughes.) Under the 6.0 system, an underrotated jump could and would be ignored if the judges liked the skater enough, as could taking off from the wrong edge. This new system leaves little room for that kind of fudging; if you started your triple Lutz facing forward on your inside edge and ended it facing sideways or backwards, you underrotated a flutz and you will get marked down accordingly. Period. Interesting that these baby jumpers tend to do that quite frequently, and the older girls, who supposedly cannot jump anymore, do not do that frequently.

There have also been some claims that younger skaters spin better than older ones. Since when? That’s so totally bizarre that it’s not even worth discussing at length.

To make a long rant short, I don’t like the new scoring system very much, but we got rid of the old one because it sucked even worse than this one does. There’s no use bringing it back. It won’t help any U.S. skater bring the title of Ice Queen back home with her.

It is possible that once again putting up a barrier between Olympic-eligible and professional skating would help the situation a bit. It would force skaters to make a choice to keep in serious competitive shape, or leave it all behind forever in favor of slow ballads, feather boas and excessive illusion fabric. The trouble is, once they go over to the pro’s they seldom make it back. However, the idea that they can come and go as they please is still there, and I believe it cuts into their dedication a bit. Then again, that only applies to the top names, and we don’t have any right now in the women’s field.

What will really take care of the problem is time. Among young kids, fashions come and go. Figure skating is wildly out of fashion with young girls at the moment. There has to be a breakthrough, genuinely interesting skater who will draw the girls back into the rinks in figure skates, rather than hockey skates, again. She will come along eventually.

She’s not there now, though, so unless there’s a miracle girl who streaks to the top in the next year, we can probably call this Olympics off as far as Championship Ladies is concerned. But the men are interesting; there are three or four who are actually true, international-quality skaters. That’s more than we’ve had in years. And we do have one good ice dance team. Pairs…well, we do have one good ice dance team.

Meantime, let’s forget the bullshit about the new scoring system and all the pedophile longing for the good old days of prepubescent skaters. The days of supposed 6.0 perfection never were (or else we would still have that system), and the only thing those little jumpers ended up with were new plastic hips for their 20th birthdays.

So don’t panic. The girl we need is out there somewhere. Maybe she just learned to walk last week, or maybe she’s slugging it out at the Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice, or Junior level. In time we will know her name, and these barren days will be forgotten. In the meantime, if all these commentators would just stop being stupid long enough to allow us to watch the skating without getting a headache, it would be lovely.

An aside to Scott Hamilton: I skate like a tall person. Get over it.

Goodbye, Blagojevich

In all his ranting, the soon-to-be-ex governor of Illinois got one thing sort of right: the fix is on. He’ll likely be out of office by the end of the week.

I’ve been silent about this because there’s nothing more to say except that it’s not fix, it’s just fact: no one knows what color the sky is on the govenor’s planet anymore, but it isn’t the same color as the sky over Illinois. Even if he only violated ethical notions and not actual laws, he is clearly unfit to govern — and that’s the only yardstick the Illinois constitution requires. And so, with the same speed that they usually show when going on recess, the Illinois Legislature is very, very close to getting rid of him. This is something I can give Blags credit for, because normally (outside of running out the door on recess) it takes this bunch years to pick up a dropped paperclip. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they bequeath the actual act of legislation to their yet-to-be conceived great-grandchildren.

Blags, meanwhile, has decided to ignore the proceedings and has gone on a nonsensical media blitz that will do nothing to forestall the inevitable, and may in fact hasten it. How can anyone remain governor if they have total disregard for the constitution of their own state? Okay, never mind about George Bush just yet. He comes up in the paragraph after the next.

Like I said, we’re not even sure what Blags is blathering about. I keep hearing things that sound like, “I am doing this for the people of Illinois.”

If that’s the case, here’s a message for Blags: Oh, thanks. Having you do it all for us is like having a car thief pull your Mercedes out of a ditch. The people of Illinois don’t want you, Rod. You’ve got a nearly 0% approval rating. That’s amazing. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. Even George Bush managed to hang on to about 20% of the delusionals in spite of the fact that he ignored warnings of a terrorist attack, started two hopeless wars, tortured prisoners, left a city in ruins, and finally sacked the global economy (the list goes on, but this article is not about Bush). All you’ve done, Gov, is be your obnoxious self and run the state into the poor house while cementing the notion that its name is synonymous with “corruption.” Nothing much in comparison to Bush’s accomplishments, but lookee — no one likes you. No one. You don’t even have George Bush’s 20% die-hard wingnut cushion against total anonymity. So stop being so nice to us, will you? Please?

Now back to writing for people who can comprehend what they’re reading…

Opening one’s door on a cold December morning and being slapped into handcuffs has to be an overwhelming shock, especially if one was in denial about being investigated by the Feds even though it was long known to be true. The day before, Blags could play spoiler on Barack Obama’s move into the White House, since even Blags had to know he would never make that move himself — so it was perfect, pissy revenge on the guy from Illinois who did. But the next day, all of a sudden there was only a long, messy, expensive trial and a possible jail sentence to look forward to. Oh, yes — there was also the possibility of being removed from office, and having his political career effectively voided. That’s the part which Blags has greeted with complete and utter denial.

Of course, insisting that the people of Illinois pay your legal bills isn’t going to add to your popularity, but that’s what Blags has been doing when he’s been dealing with reality at all. The rest of the time he’s been comparing himself to people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and would probably also put himself in the category of Jesus if only anyone could get away with that in a largely Christian country. Then again, who knows. He may make the comparison any day now; probably he just hasn’t gotten to it yet.

But this is one case where not admitting to the truth, or trying to rearrange the truth, or even trying to invent the truth, won’t change anything. Blags is finished and he has to deal with it. That he clearly can’t isn’t our problem. The state of Illinois is limping, even though it should be strutting because one of its own is now the President. It has to move on and up, and do it soon. There is no use wasting any time on Rod Blagojevich.

To quote a popular phrase, don’t let the door hit you in the testicular virility on the way out, Blagojevich. Enough, already.

No country for frightened minds

Yes, it has started.

I work with the public. I won’t say where or in what capacity (no, dickhead, I am not a hooker).

Some dumbfart at the turn of the last century — Harry Gordon Selfridge I believe — said something like, “the customer is always right.” U.S. consumers in particular have spent the last century believing it. And in doing so, they have become some of the biggest assholes in the world.

For instance, some of them seem to believe that it is appropriate to assume what a stranger’s political beliefs are based on appearance, and attack them for it, suffering nothing in return because the person they attacked is only a worker and cannot reply (btw, there are a few major companies that give customers like this major shocks when their behavior gets out of control; I happen to work for one of those). I get told I’m a “liberal” quite frequently, for instance, by fat-necked conservative white males. Skinny liberal males (and sometimes females) usually tell me I’m obviously an arch-conservative. What I am, in fact, is nobody’s goddamn business except when I choose to make it so on this blog.

To get to the point, certain members of the general public have been nearly hysterical since November, and the inauguration yesterday sent them flying over the edge. Since we’ve been hearing for 8 years about the supposed Bush Derangement Syndrome that made people insane with baseless hate for that wonderful George W. Bush, that nice man, I guess what we are dealing with now could be called Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Only difference is, this time it’s real.

Be very afraid: these people cannot reason and cannot control themselves, and they are not as rare as they should be. They are lost in panic, and when you try to reason with them, you are answered in one of two ways: a rising voice spewing wing-nut cliches, or much more commonly, a blank stare coupled with a gaping mouth.

It always turns out that they have never actually thought about anything they’re saying. They’ve been brainwashed. They have lost all capacity for rational thought or for anything resembling independent thought. They are totally dependent on Fox News and radio talk-show hosts to tell them what to think, feel, and even do. Their brains are addicted to a steady drip of terror and rage. And now some of them are so OD’d on fright and anger that they on the verge of becoming violent.

Proof? Okay, here it is — and this is just one example: yesterday some asshole came up to me and started talking about the inauguration, starting with, “Well you liberals must be happy.” I just raised my eyebrows. It was better than rolling my eyes, which could have gotten me in trouble with the boss.

So he then started ranting about how Senator Kennedy had collapsed during some luncheon and how he hoped Kennedy was dead, and how Kennedy got Obama elected, etc. etc.

He came back to me 4 times over the next half hour to demand to know if Kennedy had died.

God’s truth. And no, dears, never once in 8 years did I deal with anyone supposedly afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome who ranted quite like that — or at all. Certainly I never had cause to call a manager to get the asshole thrown out of the establishment, as I nearly did in this case and several other similar ones recently.

And this is only the start. The asshole brigade is flailing about in mid-air, bloated with wild and unfocused rage, kind of like Harry Potter’s Aunt Marge. Sooner or later, one or more of them will explode in a public area near you.

Like the lady in All About Eve said, “fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.” Better wear a flak jacket as well. While we’re at it, how about some earplugs?

And then it flew away

For me the most unforgettable moment of the inauguration today was watching ex-President Bush get in a helicopter and fly away from the Capitol.

It was as if at that moment, everything lifted and we faced a future. It is winter; it is cold and bright-white and empty. It is Bush’s legacy. But you get the feeling there is actually something growing under the snow.

Let’s hope for good weather.

As for the long winter’s nightmare, it just flew away.

The Weather Bureau in Winter

Note to the weather bureau: it’s not a friggin’ emergency.

Every day lately I look at the weather forecast at weather.com or accuweather.com and see the same stupid thing: WEATHER ALARM!! WEATHER ADVISORY!!! Most often one pushes the little alarm button to find that there’s a 20% chance of a snow flurry, or that the temperature at night will be 10F degrees. I guess in Atlanta, such a thing might be a catastrophe. But this is Chicago. We don’t worry about such things here.

So here’s another note to the friggin’ weather bureau: it’s WINTER, stupid.

The other night we had a blizzard warning that was totally without merit. A blizzard is when the winds are hurricane force and there is snow or some other frozen something being blown around with such intensity that you can’t see your glasses on your nose. What we had the other night was a couple of snow showers with no wind. Even if the winds that had been forecast had materialized, they would not have been strong enough to merit a blizzard warning. “Blowing and drifting snow,” maybe. But a “blizzard” is not a snow flurry with someone breathing on it.

Now the friggin’ weather bureau is trying to scare us with the fact that the temperatures will be well below zero for much of the next 48 hours. Meantime, they totally missed the snowstorm that hit us last night and this morning (which was far more substantial than the “blizzard”), probably because they were so busy warning us about the temperatures.

Note to the friggin’ weather bureau: Again, it’s winter. It’s cold. Read this statement s-l-o-w-l-y.

Also please note: a wind chill is not an actual temperature. No one can even agree on what it is. The formula actually got changed a few years ago, remember? So stop reporting it as if it were hard and cold fact. The only fact here is that a lot of idiots in the public recite wind chills as if they were actual temperatures, and the rest of us are sick of listening to it. The whole wind chill thing is just an exaggeration of actual reality. Re-read the word “exaggeration,” weather bureau, and then read on.

Here’s another note for you weather bureau jackasses to consider: look up the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and read it until you can understand it. If you can’t, have your mommies read it to you and explain it. It’s kind of important to understand that if you keep crying “wolf,” sooner or later no one is going to believe you except for the comprehension-cases who keep reciting the wind chills as actual temperatures.

While you’re at it, why don’t you unplug your friggin’ computers and just stick your noses out the window? Gosh! There’s actual FREAKING WEATHER out there and quite often it has nothing to do with your forecasts.

Gee, I wonder why. Maybe it’s because Mother Nature isn’t much into hyperbole most of the time?

Black-tie meowing

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes. I probably won’t watch the Academy Awards. As a rule I am hard-pressed to name the names-du-jour. But sometimes, just out of a sort of morbid curiosity, I look at the best-dressed and worst-dressed lists that instantly pop up on the Internet moments after some red carpet is empty, and sometimes well before.

Today I looked at the pictures of (mostly) actresses at the Golden Globes — both best and worst dressed — and as usual, with few exceptions I had no idea why some were “best” and others were “worst.”

There was one dress on the “best” list that looked like mustard-colored vomit, and another that resembled a either a severely chopped-off 1950’s party dress (the teenage version) or a really stupid-looking tutu; I couldn’t look at it long enough to decide which. Still another was of a color that matched the wearer’s so well that both were nearly invisible — but one of the dresses on the worst-dressed list also matched that description, and was on the worst-dressed list for that reason.

Several of the dresses on the “worst-dressed” list weren’t awful enough for any such award. To be sure, a couple of the actresses were wearing stringy, uncombed hairdos that made one wonder why their hairstylists hate them so much; others were criticized for having hair that was too elaborate. It’s also for sure that a couple of the dresses were just plain stupid, especially the one with the open front that showed off what appeared to be a very utilitarian white long-line bra. But the rest of the dresses were okay, as far as I could see. At least they covered up the illegal bits. And that’s all clothes are for, after all — even at the Golden Globes, and even when your subjects are predominantly female.

What’s a girl to do? Why can’t they just decide to look stupid (or not) in public, and be left in peace? Yes, this attire was and is a waste of resources, but other than that, is there any threat to world peace here? Any political corruption? Did anyone die because of an ugly dress (or not) on the red carpet at the Golden Globes?

I’m convinced that only certain gay boys get really excited about this sort of thing. Why it’s inflicted on the rest of us is what I wonder. No one forced me to look at the lists, but no one forces you to look at a train wreck, either. The question is why it happened in the first place — and if it had to happen, why couldn’t it make a shred of sense unless one called it by its rightful name? In the case of the train wreck, that name is “disaster;” in the case of best-and-worst-dressed lists, the proper title is “misogyny.”

I’m all for peace and love, so let’s have more cute cat videos instead. At least when you’re dealing with actual cats, cattiness is understandable.