Sunday, December 23, 2007

ba-rock star

i worry about barak obama.

in fact, i've worried about him for more than a year now.

the closer we get to november, 2008, the more he resembles another charismatic candidate, at another crucial time in our history: robert f. kennedy.

especially on occasions like this...

The closing anecdote is based on an incident at a rally in Greenwood, S.C., where, on a miserable morning, with a meager crowd, a single black woman in the audience first revived Obama's spirit by shouting out encouragement and then got everyone chanting, responsively, "Fired up!" "Ready to go!"

As he tells the familiar story, Obama segues from a conversational tone to a shout and explains that the chant has now become his trademark and slogan. So, he tells his listeners, "I've got one thing to ask you. Are you FIRED UP? Are you READY TO GO? FIRED UP! READY TO GO!"

And then, as the shouting becomes almost too loud to bear, he adds the five words that capsulize his whole message and sends the voters scrambling back into their winter coats and streaming out the door:

"Let's go change the world."

And it sounds as if he means it.

In every audience I have seen, there is a jolt of pure electric energy at those closing words. Tears stain some cheeks -- and some people look a little thunderstruck.
at a time when political audiences are deeply suspicious and cynical, obama possesses the rarest of gifts: the capacity to inspire. his words are direct echoes of kennedy, whose campaign rallied millions in his drive for the 1968 democratic nomination. kennedy's momentum looked unstoppable in los angeles, during an event at the ambassador hotel...
“We're a great country, a selfless country and a compassionate country, and I plan to make that the basis of my running. And now on to Chicago and let's win there.” – Bobby Kennedy, June 5, 1968
moments later, kennedy was shot.

i met obama in chicago in october, 2006. more accurately, i watched him work a crowd outside the chicago tribune building, and got to shake his hand a couple times. what stood out to me was how charged the atmosphere was around him, and how vulnerable he seemed.

near as i could tell, he was accompanied by just one bodyguard. more importantly, the soon-to-be-candidate was fearless in approaching people, stopping to talk, extending a hand. it was a thrilling moment, but also disconcerting. anyone with an agenda and a gun could've put him down, then and there, with little trouble. given u.s. history, that prospect is not so far-fetched.

since that day obama has became more than just a democratic presidential candidate. he's now the frontrunner, or nearly so, in several states. as a result, his security has improved dramatically--in such matters, the secret service doesn't take chances.

even so, the concern is real. it may be unfounded, and the parallels with rfk entirely superficial...but america is a troubled nation at a volatile time. torture is being done in our name, and we are being spied upon by our own government. what other machinations might be in the works? there are, after all, a lot of powerful people out there who don't want anyone to "go change the world."

if you're the praying sort, you might want to add a few words on the subject tonight.

i'm not the praying i'll just continue to worry.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


i'm not asking for anything for christmas.

there is nothing mrs. spaceneedl could buy at fred meyers or world market or nordstrom or rei that i actually need. she'd basically be throwing money at a vast retail wood chipper, and getting nothing of significant value in return.

my children, however, want everything they see on the kid-advertising cartoon channels, of which there are dozens and dozens. a riotous digital barrage incites them to spend mommy and daddy's money on an array of extruded-plastic with a half-life of 5,000 years and a useful life of five seconds.

they're children, of course, and therefore defenseless against aggressive, amoral advertisers turning them into wide-eyed, drooling, chanting shopping zombies...just like most adults, come to think of it.

this is not a post about rampant consumerism and tinsel-plated holidays. one might just as effectively stick their head in the ocean and yell at fish. which i would gladly do if the water here were 35 degrees warmer.

no, i think it's a post about limited resources of all kinds, and how we're encouraged to use them up in the most frivolous ways. psst, hey bud, you got 20 bucks in your pocket? here, i'll trade you for this string of blinking red chili pepper lights.

psst, hey lady, you got a couple free hours? well, sit down right here in front of this electric box and let the artificial images and sounds wash over you. trust me, your brain won't feel a thing.

mind you, i do not stand in judgement of those who spend 20 bucks on chili pepper lights or a couple hours in front of the 42" hi-def lcd video monitor. i am many things, but "transparent hypocrite" is not one of them. most of the time.

i'm just observing that it's way too easy to fritter away our way-too-finite resources on such things, knowing full well that time spent watching a ball game played by steroid-fueled sociopaths is time we'll never get back and will have a hard time rationalizing when we're looking back on a lifetime of poor consumer decisions.

just as few will say, "i wish i'd spent more time at the office," fewer still will say "i wish i'd seen roger clemens throw more 'roid-rage fastballs at people's heads."

mrs. spaceneedl laments the dearth of "holiday spirit" at our house. she misses the idyllic holidays of her childhood, and spends much energy this time of year trying to recreate them. i ask, "do you suppose the holidays were great fun for your parents, or were they just as exhausted as we are and making the best of it?"

the question gives her pause, and gives me time to put up a string of chili pepper lights on our charlie brown christmas tree.

holiday retail question: why hasn't the estate of charles m. schulz ever marketed a line of "charlie brown christmas trees"? i bet they'd make a fortune.

anyhoo, i'm not asking for anything for christmas.

but neither will i object if a bottle of veuve clicquot champagne with my name on it shows up under our tree. and if that's accompanied by a gift certificate for a thalassotherapy massage for two at the wickaninnish inn, who am i to be ungrateful?

if 'tis the season to fritter resources...we could do much worse.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

oxygen, stat

fat and out of shape is no way to go through life.

so i've joined the Y.

this is part of the my "live on one side of the world, work on the other" dilemma. as noted previously, until i remedy that situation, i'm obliged to make the best of it.

what i've missed most about not being on the seattle side is the basketball. well, that and my family, i guess i should add. not necessarily in that order. family, then basketball. okay? may i continue? thanks.

the no-longer-new job precluded the hoops games i was accustomed to over the past several years. since i'm old, it didn't take long for me to fall way out of basketball shape.

i missed it. there's nothing like being fit enough to play basketball. you feel like you can do anything, fitness-wise, attitude-wise, and wise-guy-wise. if everything is harder when you're tired, everything is easier when you're in basketball shape.

anyway, my company recently moved into new space--even further from home. that's the bad news. the good news is, the Y is practically next door.

which means i can now occasionally sneak out at lunch for a game or three. which i did this week, twice.

it wasn't pretty. my conditioning is pitiful and i have no game whatsoever. the fact is, i have no natural aptitude for the game--but i am willing to try really hard.

what i don't understand is how the people i'm playing against keep getting younger while i keep getting older. is that fair? that's not fair. how old are you, junior? 23? got any kids? a house? a job?

didn't think so. and, it doesn't matter. you either run with the big dogs or you stay on the porch. i'm tired of being on the porch. i'm not a porch guy. yet.

that day will come soon enough, and when it does, it's forever. though i'll delay it as long as possible, inevitably it'll hurt more to play than to wish i were playing.

until then, however, i can still run up and down the court, play adequate defense, box out, and put up some bad shots. i can try really hard, and get back into basketball shape.

if that's as good as it gets, i'll be perfectly content.

because for me, that is as good as it gets.