Sunday, August 31, 2008

What Do Those Who Know Sarah Palin Think of Her Being the GOP VP Nominee?

"I'm not sure what she brings to the ticket other than she's a woman and a conservative."
- Faye Palin, Sarah Palin's Mother-in-Law who is also leaning towards voting for Obama

"[I]n no way does her year-and-a-half as governor of Alaska qualify her to be vice president or president of the United States. . . . I may be proven wrong, but the decision announced by McCain strikes me as reckless. She is not prepared to be the next president should something happen to McCain."
- Dermot Cole, columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?"
- Alaska State Senate President Lyda Green, a Republican from Palin's hometown of Wasilla

This is a huge mistake by John McCain and "reflects very, very badly on his judgment."
- Anchorage Democratic State Senator Hollis French

"She's old enough. She's a U.S. citizen."
- State House Speaker John Harris (R-Valdez) referring to Palin's qualifications to be VP

Sarah Palin herself isn't even sure what the Vice President does. "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?"

"The choice also says a lot about McCain. First, that he is a bit desparate. . . Second, that he is one arrogant SOB. McCain is essentially telling the world that he doesn't really need a Vice President. It is hard to imagine Palin playing the same sort of role that modern Vice Presidents like Gore, Bush, Cheney, or Mondale played. Rather, the Office would seem poised to return to the "proverbial warm bucket of p***" category. McCain has thus made a purely political play without regard for the governance concerns."
- Shannen Coffin, writing on "The Corner" a blog of the National Review Online

If they think so little of her, how can the rest of us believe she's a solid choice for McCain?

Is This An Example of John McCain's Judgement?

Since the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate, I have heard many reports that he had met her exactly 1 (ONE) time prior to a two-hour meeting on Thursday (the day before he announced his choice) and deciding withing minutes that she would be his VP.

When I applied for my first job out of college, the position of Legal Assistant Clerk at a major DC law firm, I had no fewer than 3 interviews with multiple people over multiple days. Three interviews with multiple people over multiple days for a job where I was responsible for such high pressure and earth shattering tasks as affixing bates labels (in other words, numbering documents produced in discovery - you start at 1 and continue until you're done), filing documents previously pulled by attorneys for their review (because they have the bates labels, you simply put page 5 after page 4), and copy checking (reviewing copies against the originals to make sure the copy company didn't screw up). Lives clearly hung in the balance. And that was 15 years ago.

If I were to interview for a job today, I can be assured I would be subjected to multiple interviews with multiple people over multiple days (and probably over multiple weeks), a background check including criminal and credit checks, drug screening, reference checks, and a Google search, at a minimum.

For a job that is one heart beat away from being the Leader of the Free World, Sarah Palin had 1 interview with 1 person that lasted for a few minutes. 1 interview with 1 person that lasted for a few minutes. Oh, I forgot McCain also asked his advisers for a pro and con list and none of his advisers were "strong advocates" of hers.

Hell, I've put potential dinner dates through more rigorous vetting processes!

McCain barely knows Sarah Palin. He does know this could be a long-term commitment right? If it turns out he doesn't like her or gets bored, he can't simply find someone younger and hotter, offer that beauty pageant winner the job and then dump Palin, right?

I heard this morning on CNN that 1 of 3 VPs have ended up having to serve as President. Given that McCain is 72 and is not in tip-top health, the odds are at least 1 in 3 that his VP would end up serving part of his term, should he win. I'm not sure that want to trust that job to McCain and a running mate he can barely pick out in a crowd.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Convention Soundtrack

My new blog buddy, Fran I Am, had a great post earlier today about a great song that she really felt was Obama-ish. Then as I was driving to my Chamber Board interview, I heard another song that felt Obama-ish. Finally, I got home and turned on CNN and Jeannie Moos had a piece about music at the Democratic Convention.

All of that inspired me to pull together Democratic Convention music, plus Fran I Am's song and the song I loved this morning.

Enjoy.

Big Country - thanks Fran I Am! You're right! This song IS Obama-ish!



Philip Sayce performing with Melissa Etheridge at the Democratic Convention - God Bless America, The Times They Are A-Changin', Give Peace A Chance & Born In the USA



Better Days by Goo Goo Dolls - This is the song I heard today that speaks to what I believe Obama speaks to: hope, faith, our best days being in front of us.



Sheryl Crow at the Convention



Michael McDonald singing "America The Beautiful" at the Convention



Stevie Wonder performing "Fear Can't Put Dreams to Sleep" and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" at the Convention - I remember meeting him at President Clinton's 1997 Innaguration. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.



Yes We Can by Will.i.am and John Legend



National Anthem by Jennifer Hudson



"Only In America" by Brooks & Dunn closed the Convention

Definition of Pandering

When you look up "pandering" in the dictionary, I believe what you will now find is this:


Thank You John McCain!

With your VP decision today, you have 100% conceded the issues of "experience" and "Barack Obama is too young and unknown" that you've been touting lately.

Thank you.

Where Was McCain 3 Years Ago Today?

Three years ago today, as Hurricane Katrina was unleashing her furry on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, John McCain was joined by President Bush on a tarmac in Arizona to celebrate his 69th birthday.


The best part of that pic is that it came straight from the official White House website. I guess the Bush Adminsitration is proud of what they were doing as over 1800 people were dying and countless others lost their homes and livelihoods.

And just so we don't forget that the image of the birthday cake is only the beginning of John McCain's callousness toward victims of Katrina, watch the video below.

Great Quotes from the Democratic Convention

There were some extraordinary moments at the Democratic Convention this week. The following quotes are in no particular order.

"Delaware can get another Senator, but my kids can't get another dad."
Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, quoting his father Joe Biden in 1972 after his mother and sister were killed in a car accident.

"The Grand Old Party is no longer Grand. It's just Old."
- some retired military guy on Wednesday night

"People of the world have all been more impressed by the power of our example than the example of our power."
- President Bill Clinton on Wednesday night

"No way. No how. No McCain."
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday night

"It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday

"McCain likes to call himself a maverick, but he votes with George W. Bush more than 90% of the time. That's not a maverick. That's a sidekick."
- Senator Robert Casey, Pennsylvania.

"To my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits."
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Tuesday

"I believe the measure of a man is not the road he travels, but the choices he makes along the way."
- Senator and VP Nominee Joe Biden

"John McCain . . . That's not change. It's more of the same."
- Senator and VP Nominee Joe Biden

"My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election my daughter got to vote for her mother for President."
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

"The McCain campaign keeps emphasizing that McCain was a prisoner in Vietnam, as proof of his qualification for the Presidency. Well, so was Gary Glitter, and I'm not voting for him either."
- Roger Ailes



"I believe tonight isn't historic because of the color of Barack Obama's skin--nor even because of the content of his character. Tonight is historic because of what it says about the content of our character."
- 10th Congressional District Democratic Candidate Dan Seals, speaking to the 10th Dems Convention Watch Party

"On November 4th we must stand up and say '8 is ENOUGH'!"
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

"I don't think McCain doesn't care what's going on in the lives of Americans. I just think he doesn't know."
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

"It's not that John McCain doesn't care. It's that he doesn't get it."
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

"McCain likes to say he'll follow Bin Laden to the Gates of Hell, but he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives!"
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

"I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the nay-sayers don't understand is that this election has never been about me. It's been about you."
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

"If John McCain wants to have a debate about who has the temperament, and judgment, to serve as the next Commander-in-Chief, that's a debate I'm ready to have."
- The next President of the United States, Barack Obama

Thursday, August 28, 2008

YES WE CAN!

I'm gonna keep this short because I'd like to be in bed before midnight for the first time all week. I'll write more tomorrow when I've had some time to absorb all that happened tonight.

Let me just say that tonight I fell in love with our country all over again. I found within myself the passion I had when I went to DC in 1993. I remember why I went in the first place. I was inspired and moved to tears more than once.

Watching Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for President with 400 other people, all of them strangers, was incredible. For the first time in 8 years, I am hopeful for our country again. I know that Barack is the right candidate at the right time.

He IS the Real Thing. Honestly though, I don't need to tell you that. I have a pretty bad poker face, as Sam told Josh.

Where Will You Be?

Where will you be tonight when Barack Obama officially accepts the Democratic Party's nomination as their candidate for President of the United States and history is made?

I think tonight will be one of those times where in 25 or 30 years you'll tell your grandkids "I remember where I was when Barack Obama became the first African-American to accept the nomination for President by a major party." Kind of like my parents remember where they were when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

I'll be at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel with the 10th Congressional District Democrats and 400 or so of my closest friends.

19 months ago, I watched Barack announce he was running for President and I was inspired. At the time, I hoped he would be the nominee, but I didn't fully believe it was possible. There was an incredible pool of talented Democratic leaders who were also running. But tonight, those hopes and dreams are a reality.

68 more days and we can really celebrate. I can't wait.

Never Give Up On Your Dreams

I have heard this story about Barack Obama attending the 2000 Democratic Convention a number of times, but it bears repeating.

From The Economist:

EIGHT YEARS ago Barack Obama was thoroughly humiliated at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. He had recently lost a congressional primary in Chicago, and both his political and personal bank accounts were empty. The rental car company rejected his credit card. He failed to get hold of a floor pass and ended up watching the proceedings on a big screen in a car park. He returned home with his tail between his legs before the week was out—and lef the celebrations to the people who mattered, not least the Clintons, who took every chance to seize the limelight from the Gores.

This year Mr Obama is the Democratic convention. The Pepsi Centre in Denver will be chock-a-block with people cheering about “hope” and “change”. On August 28th Mr Obama will deliver his acceptance speech at a local football stadium, Invesco Field, before an audience of more than 70,000. The man who could not get a floor pass in Los Angeles has a better than even chance of winning the presidential election in November—the current Intrade market odds are running 61 to 38 in his favour—and thereby becoming America’s first non-white president.

Eight years. That's all it took from the time Barack Obama was arguably at one of the lowest points in his life to reach the pinnacle (and hopefully an even higher pinnacle on November 4th) of his life.

Clearly, he never gave up on his dreams. What could we achieve if we kept our focus clear in our sight, our dreams pure in our heart, and ignored all the nay-sayers?

45 Years Ago Today

Today is the 45th anniversary of the historic "I Have A Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.



As a nation we have come light years from 1963. Nominating Barack Obama as the Democratic Candidate for President of the United States yesterday was proof of that. And it's only fitting that tonight Obama accepts the nomination. I have faith that his speech will live up to the expectations and that Dr. King is celebrating in Heaven.

Now let's fulfill Dr. King's dream and work to elect Barak Obama our first African-American President in November. Yes We Can!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Do You Need a Sweater? Hell Froze Over Today.

Are you a bit cold tonight? You may be because Hell officially froze over today. Now we KNOW that the Cubs will win the World Series in October.

It's truly a day of miracles. Who would have ever thought Mike Madigan and Rod Blagovich would kiss and make up? Not me. In fact, I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.



Read about it in the Chicago Sun-Times here.

Let's just hope that this isn't just some PR stunt and things actually start happening in Springfield.

A Private Thank You in a Public Forum

I have two friends who have taught me a very valuable lesson over the last 18 months or so. What makes this the least bit interesting in my mind is that neither of these friends know each other, although I've certainly spoken to each of them about the other, and certainly neither of them set out to teach me anything. They just did.

My entire life I've been very analytical. I want to know an outcome or probable outcome before I do something. It's not that I can't or don't make decisions on the spur of the moment, I do. In fact, I've moved across country twice without really thinking about it. I think part of the reason I am sometimes overly cautious is because I never want to look bad or be embarrassed. And one of my faults is that I care (entirely too much) what other people think.

Usually being so analytical and worrying about what others will think has worked out okay. But far too often being so analytical and worrying about what others will think has caused me to miss out on what could have been amazing experiences.

So what does this admission of one of my (many) flaws have to do with these two friends? Everything.

Both of these friends have taught me to think less and do more. In their own special ways, they have both shown me how to take chances and step outside of my comfort zone in some huge ways and that it will all be okay. I've learned that whenever one of them suggests I get involved with something, the experience will be far greater than I could have ever imagined. They have both taught me that nothing great was ever achieved by worrying about being unpopular or that someone else will think it's stupid.

These two friends know exactly who they are and I won't name them here. They are two of the greatest people I've ever known and I'm proud to call them my friends.

I hope you have friends who teach you life lessons too.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Why It Matters How Many Houses John McCain Owns

Much has been made over John McCain's little gaffe last week when asked how many houses he had and he responded, "I think. . . uh . . . I'll have my staff get back to you."







Some people say it doesn't matter. That John McCain's houses aren't a real issue. Talking about how many houses John McCain has takes away from the real problems we face as a country. Okay, maybe it does, a little.

But here's the thing. When evaluating that statement by John McCain, we have to decide one of two things. First, do we believe that John McCain honestly does not know how many houses he (and by "he" I mean he and Cindy) owns? Second, if not, what does that mean? It means John McCain lied to us when he said he didn't know because he knew that by admitting to owning seven or ten houses, it proves he has little in common with the average American who is struggling to make house payments and property taxes on one modest home.

And I assume that John McCain had to decide in that split second whether it was better to look old and suffering from dementia OR was it better to tell the truth and admit he's a super rich guy thanks to marrying well. We know how he chose.

Let's look at both sides of this.

First, John McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns. If this is the truth and he honestly doesn't know then let's imagine him on the world stage. Can you imagine our President who is so old and feeble going to a G-8 Summit with a note pinned to his lapel that says "If lost, please return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC, USA" like Paddington Bear? That's going to garner a lot of respect when he's negotiating peace treaties between Israel and Palestine.

And then there's the flip side. He owns 7 houses, maybe 10. So what. If he's going to lie to us about not knowing how many houses he's got because he worries we can't handle the truth, then what else is he going to lie to us about?


I'd like to offer a better response that he could have used.


"My friends, I am a man of the people. It is a fact that Cindy and I own houses in each of the 50 states, but that means I live among you. I feel your pain. You wanna trust some young whipper-snapper who is so poor he's only got one house on the Southside of Chicago? Or do you want a man of the people, like myself, a former Prisoner of War (TM) to be your next leader?"


You know there would have been someone who believed owning 50 houses made John McCain a man of the people and it would have gotten him some votes. But he chose to look like a feeble old fool.

Breaking News: The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

There is so much going on over here at Little Merry Sunshine Central that we can hardly keep up. Between still recovering from the vacation hangover, Awards Season, more work than there are hours in the day, reconnecting with tons of lifelong friends via Facebook, the Democratic Convention (LMS is your Democratic Convention Headquarters), planning my 15th college reunion in 5 weeks (and that's a post for a future date, I assure you), and Brad Meltzer's new book, The Book of Lies, being released in exactly 1 week, yours truly is a bit overwhelmed.

As I was sitting down waiting to meet a client for lunch this afternoon, I picked up today's USA Today and saw a blurb about the creation of Superman in the upper right corner. I thought, "huh, that's interesting, Brad Meltzer has a book about this exact topic coming out in a week." And then I opened the paper and found a huge above-the-fold story on the cover of the Life Section all about Brad's new book. Yeah Brad!

The USA Today story is below, but here's what you need to know: this book is AWESOME. I can't tell you exactly how I know this yet (I'm in the Cone of Silence until Sept. 2nd), but just trust me.

To whet your appetite, visit The Book Is Real, watch the video below, read the Prologue, learn about the Soundtrack and watch a video, and buy the Soundtrack and pre-order The Book of Lies. You can thank me later.




Here's the super cool USA Today story:


"Think about it. Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man." Author Brad Meltzer, on the origins of Superman. Pic from DC Comics.

Prototype: Unpublished 1933 Superman proposal by Siegel and Shuster shows hero foiling a robbery. Pic from Superman: The Complete History by Chronicle Books.

Superman settlement: Artist Joe Shuster, left, artist Neal Adams, writer Jerry Siegel and Jerry Robinson, who invented The Joker in 1939, celebrate Siegel and Shuster's agreement in 1975 with Time Warner. Photo provided by Jerry Robinson.

The crime that created Superman: Did fatal robbery spawn Man of Steel?

By David Colton, USA TODAY

On the night of June 2, 1932, the world's first superhero was born — not on the mythical planet of Krypton but from a little-known tragedy on the streets of Cleveland.

It was Thursday night, about 8:10 p.m., and Mitchell Siegel, a Jewish immigrant from Lithuania, was in his secondhand clothing store on the near East Side. According to a police report, three men entered. One asked to see a suit of clothes and walked out without paying for it. In the commotion of the robbery, Siegel, 60, fell to the ground and died.

The police report mentions a gunshot being heard. But the coroner, the police and Siegel's wife said Siegel died of a heart attack. No one was ever arrested.

What happened next has exploded some of the longest-held beliefs about the origins of Superman and the two teenage boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who invented America's best-known comic-book hero.

Past accounts suggest Siegel and Shuster, both 17, awkward and unpopular in high school, invented the meek Clark Kent and his powerful alter-ego, Superman, to attract girls and rise above their humble Cleveland beginnings.

But now it appears that the origin might have been more profound — that it was the death of Jerry Siegel's father that pushed the devastated teen to come up with the idea of a "Superman" to right all wrongs.

"In 50 years of interviews, Jerry Siegel never once mentioned that his father died in a robbery," says Brad Meltzer, a best-selling author whose novel, The Book of Lies, due Sept. 2, links the Siegel murder to a biblical conspiracy plot.

"But think about it," Meltzer says. "Your father dies in a robbery, and you invent a bulletproof man who becomes the world's greatest hero. I'm sorry, but there's a story there."

The first 'Superman'
The evidence for such a psychological underpinning is strong.

It was just a year after Mitchell Siegel's death, 1933, that writer Siegel and artist Shuster came up with "The Superman," a grim, flying avenger they tried to sell to newspaper syndicates and publishers for five years. In the oldest surviving artwork, this early Superman, whom they call "the most astounding fiction character of all time," flies to the rescue of a man who is being held up by a masked robber.

Was it Jerry's alter-ego flying to rescue his helpless father?

"America did not get Superman from our greatest legends, but because a boy lost his father," Meltzer says. "Superman came not out of our strength but out of our vulnerability."

The more Meltzer looked, the more intriguing things became. A letter published in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer on June 3, 1932, the day after the robbery, denounces the need for vigilantes in the harsh days of the Depression. The letter is signed by an A.L. Luther.

"Is that where (Superman foe) Lex Luthor came from?" Meltzer says. "I almost had a heart attack right there. I thought, 'You have to be kidding me!' "

In search of answers
Meltzer was not the only one looking. Comic-book historian Gerard Jones first disclosed the fact of the robbery in 2004 for his book, Men of Tomorrow, after interviews with Siegel's cousins.

"It had to have an effect," Jones says. "Superman's invulnerability to bullets, loss of family, destruction of his homeland — all seem to overlap with Jerry's personal experience. There's a connection there: the loss of a dad as a source for Superman."

Although they never went public, the father's side of the family was told for decades that the elder Siegel had been shot in the robbery. That's the dramatic angle Meltzer takes in his conspiracy novel. Siegel was shot twice in the chest at his store, he writes, and "a puddle of blood seeped toward the door."

In an afterword to his work of fiction, Meltzer concedes that the facts remain murky. In an interview, Meltzer said that some in the family were told "since they were little kids" that Siegel died by gunfire. Others were told he had a heart attack. "It was probably a heart attack," Meltzer said.

And yet Meltzer is not ready to embrace either answer as final.

More definitive is Marc Tyler Nobleman, author with artist Ross MacDonald of this year's illustrated book Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman, who concludes that Mitchell Siegel died of a heart attack during the robbery. The coroner, he notes, reported "no wounds" on Siegel's body, and the gunshot might not have been related to the robbery.

"I spent a long time going after this," Nobleman says. "I believe I have the first accurate account. Jerry's father wasn't shot and robbed. He had a heart attack during a robbery."

A fortune sold for $130

The rest of the saga of Siegel and Shuster is better known, but no less tragic. It wasn't until 1938 that the familiar red-and-blue-garbed Superman appeared on the cover of Action Comics No. 1. The creators got a check for $130. In return, DC Comics acquired rights to the character "forever."

Siegel and Shuster bristled as Superman grew in popularity — on radio, in wartime cartoons and serials in the 1940s. They went to court several times, winning settlements but never rights to the character. By the 1970s, Siegel had been working as a mail clerk for $7,000 a year, and Shuster was almost blind.

"A shameful legacy," says Blake Bell, author of The World of Steve Ditko, a biography of the co-creator of Spider-Man. Comic-book creators "had no pensions, no contracts, no health benefits, and companies didn't even pay for the artists' supplies. When these artists tried to negotiate greater rights for themselves, they were either collectively cast out or made false promises."

After hearing that Warner Bros. had paid $3 million for the rights to make Superman the Movie in 1975, Siegel and Shuster tried again to reap some benefits. This time, though, they had help from the artistic community and from fans who knew their work.

In a landmark settlement, DC Comics agreed to pay the two men $20,000 a year for life. More important, friends say, DC agreed to add "Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster" on all printed and filmed material in the future.

"Having their names listed as Superman's creators was the biggest victory of all," says Steve Younis, editor of SupermanHomepage.com. "It's worth more than any kind of monetary reimbursement."

The man who helped negotiate the Siegel and Shuster deal was artist Jerry Robinson, who co-created The Joker in 1939 but who received little recognition for decades. (He's now a creative consultant for DC Comics in the wake of The Dark Knight film.)

Robinson says he threw a party in his Manhattan apartment when the Siegel and Shuster settlement was announced.

"Kurt Vonnegut, Jules Pfeiffer, Will Eisner, Eli Wallach and his wife were there," Robinson, 86, says. "Walter Cronkite came on, and they showed Superman flying, and he described what had happened. At the end, he said, 'Another triumph for truth, justice and the American way.'

"We opened Champagne. Jerry and Joe were there, and it was a very emotional moment. There wasn't a dry eye in the place."

The struggle goes on
Michael Uslan, executive producer of the six Batman movies since 1989, including The Dark Knight, says there has been a "sea change" in how corporations view comic books and their creators. "Here you have people in their 80s and 90s seeing their comic-book work being taken seriously," Uslan says. "They are deriving economic benefits now either directly or through consultancies."

Shuster died in 1992 and Siegel in 1996, but their legal battles have been never-ending. In March, a court ruled that Siegel's heirs (wife Joanne and daughter Laura) were entitled to parts of the billion-dollar Superman copyright. Because of the ongoing litigation, neither the families nor DC Comics would comment, not even about Mitchell Siegel's death 76 years ago or its implications.

But in an e-mailed response, the Siegel family did say, "It is gratifying to know people want to know about Jerry Siegel, and that he is getting recognition for his creativity."

DNC Convention Day 2 TiVO Alert!

Day 2 Theme: Renewing America's Promise

Here's a preview of tonight's speakers . . .

Governor Kahleen Sebelius of Kansas
Senator Hillary Clinton
Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner
Pay Equity pioneer Lily Ledbetter (the Wiki summary)

As an aside, it's been highlighted many times in the last 24 hours that today mark's the 88th anniversary of women getting the right to vote and Thursday is the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. I think it's fantastic that the Democrats get to highlight these two anniversaries with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

As a woman, I'm eternally grateful for the women and men who fought to give me the right to vote. Because so many women around the world are denied this basic right, I believe that voting is my duty and I feel their burdens on my shoulders each time I enter the voting booth.

Some of my friends have complained to me recently that LMS has turned into all politics, all the time lately. But I feel so passionately that we each have an obligation to be involved in the political process, not only for ourselves, but for all women around the world, and for future generations of women everywhere, that not speaking out about the issues and how the only way to protect our futures is to vote Democrat that I honestly can't help myself. And I won't. I will try to bring more balance back to LMS, but I will not ramp down my passion about politics and the political process.

Day 1 DNC Highlights!

Nancy Pelosi tells us once and for all that the Democratic Party IS united.



Senator Ted Kennedy's Tribute Video



Caroline Kennedy's Tribute to Her Uncle Teddy



And Senator Kennedy's "Surprise" Appearance and Speech. When was the last time you felt so proud to be a Democrat? What a sad realization tonight knowing that this may be one of the last times we see Senator Kennedy looking so well. I can't think of anyone who has had a greater impact on our lives than Senator Kennedy. The torch has officially been passed.



Michelle Obama's biographical video.



Michelle Obama's speech. Not a dry eye in the house.



I'm proud to be an American and member of the Democratic Party tonight. We are one nation. And we are united.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Afternoon Matinee Triple Feature

Get out the popcorn and Twizzlers kids. Little Merry Sunshine has a triple feature afternoon matinee for you! Remember, no talking during the movies. And you teenagers there in the back row, we KNOW what you are doing when the lights go off. We've got our eyes on you!

Thanks so much to my Balancing Boyfriends and Monkey Muck for featuring these brilliant pieces!





Get the TiVO Ready! DNC Convention Begins Today!

Are you ready for the most exciting week of your life? This is the week all the loyal Dems have been waiting for with baited breath. Okay, maybe I'm the only one who's been counting down all summer. But it's sure to be a great week in Denver.

For the latest on the Convention, visit the DNC Convention website.

Today's Theme: One Nation

Highlights of Tonight's Speakers:

A bunch of the Illinois folks will speak - Atty. General Lisa Madigan, President of the Senate Emil Jones (aka Barack's god father), Treasurer Alexi Giannoulis, Comptroller Dan Hynes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Former President Jimmy Carter

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Tribute to Senator Ted Kennedy by Caroline Kennedy followed by a video tribute. There's a rumor that Senator Kennedy is actually going to show up tonight. Personally, I hope so. It will probably be one of the last times we see him speak in person.

The night will conclude with Michelle Obama giving the keynote address.

For the most complete coverage, I would turn to CNN, MSNBC, or CSPAN. The big 3 networks are only scheduled to air one hour each night. I'm reminded of the West Wing episode where Toby plays hardball with the network execs over their jointly planned lack of coverage of the upcoming Convention. He reminds them that by jointly deciding not to cover the conventions, they are violating anti-trust laws, that the Justice Department will come down on them and then informs them that they will cover the Conventions gavel to gavel to prevent that. "There isn't going to be a horse race to cover, either in New York or San Diego [the locations of the fictional conventions in The West Wing], but we gave you the air waves for free 70 years ago and 357 days a year you can say who's up and who's down, who won the West and who lost the South but what's wrong with 8 days, not every year but every 4 years, showing our leaders talking to us. Not a fraction of what they said but what they said. And then th-the balloons." For all the crap that's on television everyday, I firmly believe these conventions are important for the exact reasons Toby says.

It's sure to be an emotional night with the Ted Kennedy tribute, so get out your Kleenex and set your TiVO. You won't want to miss a moment.

UPDATE: Accoding to CNN, Senator Ted Kennedy will appear live tonight at the DNC Convention. Obviously my plea weighed heavily in his decision. This is only Senator Kennedy's 2nd public appearance since his brain surgery in June.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You Like Me! You Really Like Me!

With all apologies to Sally Field . . . I will continue.

This week has been a busy one here at Little Merry Sunshine. Once again, I have been recognized for my awesomeness with three highly prestigious awards! Well, they're prestigious in my own mind. You may wonder why I waited to share this good news with you and the answer is that I was waiting because I also wanted to announce that I was Barack's VP choice, but we all know that didn't come to pass and I spent yesterday curled up in a ball on my living room floor sobbing.

But now, onto the awards!

First, a huge thanks to Dr. Monkey for awarding me the Patriots for Peace sticker below. You may recall that he had a contest on his site on August 5th. And I'm a winner! (I told all you bitches who called me a "loser" in junior high and high school that I was a winner and I was right!) And my Patriots for Peace sticker arrived on Wednesday! PLUS, it had a super cool bonus prize with it! (See the pictures below) If you're not familiar with this contest, according to the rules, which I evidently followed, I had to email Dr. Monkey and tell him what car I would put it on, and in the event I am the winner (which I am!), once I receive the sticker, I must take a photo of the car with said sticker affixed and post it on my blog. Now I'm a Patriot! Cuz having a sticker on my car makes me a Patriot, just like wearing a flag lapel pin, right?

Patriots for Peace sticker on the back of my 1995 Honda Civic EX.

Bonus Prize! Joshua Tree Bloom postcard. The quote from the back of the card says "Forests of this true desert tree may be found in many regions of the West. From acrid desert wastes, nature produces this delicate and beautiful cluster of flowers each year."

Second, a big old hug to Boxer Rebellion (if that's okay with you Gourmet Goddess!) for awarding me the highly esteemed "Kickass Blogger Award." That's right. I kick ass! So don't mess with me!

I apologize for not thanking you sooner, but I was out of town when you awarded me this prize and my people evidently failed to inform me. Heads will roll. I am eternally grateful.

Because it's no fun to hog the awards to myself, here's the deal (well, okay, these are actual rules according to Boxer, but we can pretend that I want to share the wealth) . . .

1. Pick 5 bloggers I think kick ass . . .
I can't possibly pick just 5 bloggers. So here's my modification to this rule. If your blog appears on the Sidebar on the left, I think you kick ass. If you're not on the blogroll, but you read my blog, I must not know you exist. Please let me know.

2. Let them know they've been selected to receive this highly prestigious award.
I just did.

3. Link back to the person who awarded you the Kick Ass Blogger Award (thanks Boxer!) and also to http://www.mammadawg.com/.
Done.

4. Visit the Kick Ass Blogger Club HQ to sign Mr. Linky and leave a comment.
Done.

Kick Ass Blogger Award

And now, the last and most coveted prize I have received this week was from Arlington Heights Mayor Arlene Mulder. While at an Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the new Village Hall, Mayor Mulder awarded me with the highly coveted lucite paperweight below, commemorating the dedication of the new Village Hall. Finally, a worthwhile return on my tax dollars. I also received a spiffy pen with her name on it. Please note, because the pen has her name on it, that means that she paid for it, NOT the Village. (She told us that). The award ceremony went something like this:
Mayor Mulder, at the end of her presentation: We have a drawing
today. Is there a Little Merry Sunshine in the room?

Me: That's me!

Mayor Mulder, leaning across 3 rows of people so she doesn't actually have to get near me: Here you go.

Me: Thank you very much.

It was a moving moment, I assure you. Unfortunately, the awards presentation was over in less time than it took you to read about it, so no pics of me accepting this award from Mayor Mulder.

Lucite paperweight with rendering of the New Arlington Heights Village Hall. The back of the paperweight says "Arlington Heights Village Hall was Dedicated on May 8, 2008. The landmark building reflects the Village's rich architectural history. The Village Hall is the cornerstone of the John G. Woods Municipal Campus. Mayor Woods served from 1961-1969 and again from 1972-1973 during a time of great growth in the Village. His vision and innovativeness significantly contributed to the Arlington Heights of today."

Pen paid for by Mayor Mulder and not with taxpayer dollars.

While I'm still not convinced that $30+ million was wisely spent to build the new Village Hall, it is a beautiful space and the luncheon was lovely. I'm sorry I couldn't stay for the tour. Maybe if I had, I would feel better about the $30+ million. One thing I can say, however, is that it did get completed on time and under budget. Mayor Mulder told us to repeat that too.

Awards season is not over. In fact, I think it's just ramping up. So feel free to present me with as many awards as you want. I've earned them.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My American Prayer

In honor of Barack Obama choosing Joe Biden as his running mate today and the start of the Democratic Convention on Monday, the video of My American Prayer seems to sum up how I'm feeling right now.

Enjoy.



And here's the story behind American Prayer from The Huffington Post . . .

Exclusive Premiere: An Anthem for Change
by Dave Stewart
August 22, 2008

Earlier this year when I was recording "American Prayer," a song I originally co-wrote with Bono, the phrase, "When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me" seemed to take on a whole new resonance, given the inspirational candidacy of Barack Obama.

The song always contained one of my favorite passages from Dr. King, which was hauntingly delivered the night before he was assassinated. King says: "I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!"

People long for a connection -- whether it is to music, to their country, or to a big idea. Regardless of what happens in November, Senator Obama has reminded millions of people that they have the power to connect to bigger ideas. He is, in essence, the embodiment of a new anthem for change. He has continued King's narrative from what was once thought of as a dream to a reality. I find it especially relevant that Barack Obama will accept the Democratic Party Nomination for President 45 years to the day of King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

When we were originally writing the song, Bono was crafting the words in a way that would make people think about the fact that 'America' as a concept was a truly great idea, based on the bedrock of equality. I find it more pertinent than ever to release it now; to the moment America finds itself in, daring to re-imagine itself and its place in the world.

When I set out to make a video for the new version of this song, I wanted to honor all of those millions of people, especially young people, who are, for the first time, feeling empowered to voice their beliefs. I wanted to capture how Obama's message of change has echoed across the broad fabric of what is America. To do that, we've cast the film with an eclectic array of personalities, including Forest Whitaker, Jason Alexander, Whoopi Goldberg, Cyndi Lauper, Barry Manilow, Joan Baez, Macy Gray and Joss Stone. They appear alongside veterans, teachers and everyday citizens -- all of whom have been touched by this simple idea of change.

As an Englishman, I'm not an expert in all the intricate details of American politics. But as an artist, I understand how rare it is to inspire a connection to a bigger idea or purpose. This video isn't so much an endorsement of Barack Obama as much as it is a celebration of all those who have picked up a sign, who have registered to vote and are working to make the world a better place. So as Senator Barack Obama ascends to the mountain top, let us not forget all of the others who for the past 40 years have sung anthems of change to make this moment possible.

Fans are invited to upload their own video for the anthem at MyAmericanPrayer.com

Click here to download Dave Stewart's "American Prayer" from iTunes and here to download the ringtone from MyXer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Major Obama VP Announcement

This is the only statement I will make on the subject and I would ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family during this time by not swarming our homes (I honestly don't remember how many we have - but I'll have my vast staff get back to you ASAP with the answer) with unnecessary 24/7 media coverage.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am not Barack Obama's choice for Vice President. No, I do not know who he chose. Yes, I agree that an Obama-Little Merry Sunshine ticket would have been powerful and one filled with hope and lots of change. Unfortunately, I believe I was not chosen due to my status as a "private citizen" and the Obama campaign was worried I could not bring in any swing states. Oh, and since I'm from Illinois, I really wouldn't add anything to the ticket as far as electoral votes. No, I'm not terribly disappointed. It was an honor to simply be considered.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Viagra!

Viagra is 10 years old! And no fewer than 25 million erections have been enjoyed since March 27, 1998, thanks to this little blue pill!

I wanted to find the classic Bob Dole Viagra commercial, but all I could find was this funny John McCain Viagra video. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe John McCain would be good for our sex lives afterall!



So I encourage all you 10-year olds out there who have older parents (50s or older) to have a highly uncomfortable conversation with them tonight around the dinner table. Maybe start out the dinner prayer with "Dear God, Thank you for giving Mommy & Daddy Viagra in 1998."

On a personal note, I strongly encourage the boycotting of Viagra (and other ED drugs) until all insurance companies are required to cover birth control and all pharmacies are required to dispense it and quit hiding behind religious reasons bullshit. See, I was right. John McCain IS bad for our sex lives. To paraphrase Josh Lyman, I'm sick of government that's just small enough to fit into my bedroom.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Best Dessert EVER

When I was a kid and we used to visit Nana and Reverand (he was a minister, her second husband, NOT my grandfather, and that's what everyone called him) in Crystal Beach, FL, every night after dinner, we'd have dessert. Dessert was a huge treat because we didn't usually have it at our house.

The dessert I remember most vividly at Nana's was vanilla ice cream with fresh peaches. Simple and sweet. Not overwhelming. Just right.

On my way home from Watervale, on Rte. 22, just south of Onekema, there's a great fruit and vegetable stand I always stop at. They have locally grown fruits and vegetables that I simply love. This weekend, they had peaches, so I grabbed a bunch knowing I'd have to get some vanilla ice cream.

I savored dessert last night wishing I was sharing the fresh peaches and ice cream with Nana.

Breaking News: Obama-Kennedy 2008!

Okay, yes, I realize that no ACTUAL announcement has been made and that I am purely speculating here. And frankly, it's not even my original idea. I stole it from CNN which is just reporting what Michael Moore wrote yesterday in an open letter to Caroline Kennedy on his blog.

I gotta admit, he does make a passionate plea and has some very good reasons why Obama's VP choice should be Caroline Kennedy.

And, come on, how super cool would those Obama-Kennedy yard signs look? Doesn't reading that make your heart do a little happy dance?

Say It With Me: John McCain is Out of Touch



John McCain is out of touch.

Discuss.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watching Over the House

When I'm away, I fully expect Betsey and Ross to guard the house. Yes, I know they are cats and that typically this does not fall under their job description. However, since I do not have a dog, I expect them to step up to the plate.

Imagine my utter disappointment when I came home from vacation on Saturday to find the report from the cat sitter, Jamie, with Tailchasers, Inc., and on August 12th, Jamie reports that she was "petting Ross and he fell asleep. :)"

Super. That's excellent. Rub Ross's fat belly until he falls asleep and the house is yours. So much for guarding the house.

Ross in all of his glory. Check out that fat belly of his!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aren't the Republicans the Party of Family Values?

I guess I'm really lucky. I have a brother, Dave (I may have mentioned him before), who I consider to be my best friend. Sure, we fought like the Hatfields and McCoys when we were growing up, but for at least the last 15 or so years, there has been no one I want standing in my corner more than him. When I have something to celebrate, I want Dave to know. And when I'm feeling down about myself or have bad news or need advice, I call Dave. And he comes to me for a lot too.

Sure, I jest about still having the only child syndrome, some 34 years after Dave was born, but I'm never serious about it. In fact, usually, the opposite is true. I want things for Dave before me. Never, in my wildest imagination can I conceive of a time when I would actually wish I was an only child or not acknowledge I had a brother. I am proud of Dave. I'm proud of his accomplishments and the man he has become.

So you'll understand why I get a little outraged at the story below from NPR. Now, I'll admit this is only one side of the story. But unless your sibling is Ted Bundy or the Unabomber, why wouldn't you admit to having them? Oh, ya, they're Democrats. Well, Cindy & John McCain, let me share a little secret with ya. If you stop shitting on your siblings and admit to having them, they MIGHT support you in your efforts to become President.

Nice family values, Cindy & John McCain.

Cindy McCain's Half Sister 'Angry' She's Hidden
by Ted Robbins

All Things Considered, August 18, 2008 · Last Tuesday, NPR broadcast a story about Cindy McCain's business and charity work. In it, Ted Robbins described McCain as the only child of Jim Hensley, a wealthy Arizona businessman. The next morning, NPR received an e-mail from Nicholas Portalski of Phoenix, who heard the story with his mother.

"We were listening to the piece about Cindy McCain on NPR, All Things Considered, and it just struck us very hard," Portalski said.

His mother, Kathleen Hensley Portalski, is also Hensley's daughter.

The Portalski family is accustomed to hearing Cindy McCain described as Hensley's only child.

She's been described that way by news organizations from The New Yorker and The New York Times to Newsweek and ABC.

McCain herself routinely uses the phrase "only child," as she did on CNN last month. "I grew up with my dad," she said then. "I'm an only child. My father was a cowboy, and he really loved me very much, but I think he wanted a son occasionally."

McCain's father was also a businessman — and twice a father.

"I'm upset," Kathleen Portalski says. "I'm angry. It makes me feel like a nonperson, kind of."

Who Is Kathleen Hensley Portalski?


Documents show Kathleen Anne Hensley was born to Jim and Mary Jeanne Hensley on Feb. 23, 1943. They had been married for six years when Kathleen was born.

Jim Hensley was a bombardier on a B-17, flying over Europe during World War II.

He was injured and sent to a facility in West Virginia to recuperate. During that time, while still married to Mary Jeanne, Hensley met another woman — Marguerite Smith. Jim divorced Mary Jeanne and married Marguerite in 1945.

Cindy Lou Hensley was born nine years later, in 1954.

She may have grown up as an only child, but so did her half sister, Kathleen, who was raised by a single parent.

Portalski says she did see her father and her half sister from time to time.

"I saw him a few times a year," she says. "I saw him at Christmas and birthdays, and he provided money for school clothes, and he called occasionally."

Jim Hensley also provided credit cards and college tuition for his grandchildren, as well as $10,000 gifts to Kathleen and her husband, Stanley Portalski. That lasted a decade, they say. By then, Jim Hensley had built Hensley and Co. into one of the largest beer distributorships in the country. He was worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars.

Sole Inheritor To Hensley's Estate


When Hensley died in 2000, his will named not only Portalski but also a daughter of his wife Marguerite from her earlier marriage. So, Cindy McCain may be the only product of Jim and Marguerite's marriage, but she is not the only child of either.

She was, however, the sole inheritor of his considerable estate.

Kathleen Portalski was left $10,000, and her children were left nothing. It's a fact Nicholas Portalski says his sister discovered the hard way.

"What she found in town — on the day of or the day before or the day after his funeral — was that the credit card didn't work anymore," Nick says.

The Portalskis live in a modest home in central Phoenix. Kathleen is retired, as is her husband. Nicholas Portalski is a firefighter and emergency medical technician looking for work.

They say it would have been nice if they were left some of the Hensley fortune.

They also say they are Democrats, but Nicholas Portalski says he had another reason for coming forward.

"The fact that we don't exist," he says. "The fact that we've never been recognized, and then Cindy has to put such a fine point on it by saying something that's not true. Recently, again and again. It's just very, very hurtful."

Kathleen Portalski says she'd like an acknowledgment and an apology.

NPR asked the McCain campaign — specifically, Cindy McCain — to comment or respond. Neither replied.

Kathleen Hensley Portalski displays newspaper clippings of her father in World War II, as well as snapshots of herself as a child with her father.

Portalski is shown with her late father, Jim Hensley, who was also Cindy McCain's father.

Nicholas Portalski, whose mother is Cindy McCain's half-sister, says it's "very, very hurtful" that he and his mother haven't been recognized.

Okay, this is me again (vs. the NPR article). I know some people are going to say "oh Kathleen Hensley Portalski and her son are just looking for a handout." Well, maybe they are and maybe they're not. And I don't care either way. What I know for sure (here's my Oprah moment), is that I have to wonder if you can't tell me the truth about how many siblings you have (Cindy, you have 2), what else are you gonna lie to me about? And if I can't trust you (and your husband) to tell me the truth on the simple stuff (how many siblings you have is the simple stuff), then I sure can't trust you to be President or the wife of the President.

Of course, I suppose it's possible that all that pill popping Cindy did caused her to have memory problems and despite all the reminders, poor Cindy simply can't remember.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Watervale Reads 2008

A large part of Watervale for me is reading. Without the distractions of home and work, I almost read more in 7 days than I do the entire rest of the year. I always bring a huge stack of books – usually 7-10. And I read them all cover to cover. Mostly political, historical, and current events books. I don’t really do the “beach read” type books. They just aren’t my style. I prefer something more along the lines of House of Bush, House of Saud (a book I read at Watervale 4 summers ago). I spend most of the summer carefully selecting my Watervale Reads and eagerly anticipate that moment when I can crack open the spine of the first book.

This year was different, however. Despite having my books pre-selected as always, I left home with only two of them - the third and fourth books from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. Knowing I would run out of books by Tuesday, I went to the tiny bookstore in Frankfort, conveniently called The Book Store, (there is no Borders or Barnes and Nobles anywhere around), where I had a difficult time finding just the right political tomes for my Watervale Reads. In fact, I could only find one I hadn’t read, Dreams From My Father, which is how I ended up with American House. The good news is I’ve already got my Watervale Books 2009 picked out and ready to go.

This is the final list of Watervale Reads 2008.

Girls in Pants – The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
American House by Deryl D. Holmes
Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

The Sisterhood books are part of a charming series of books written for today's young women. They focus on the lifelong friendships of 4 girls during their high school and early college years. The girls think of themselves as sisters and face the challenge of their first summer apart, in the first novel. Despite the 20 year difference between me and the main characters, I found myself reminiscing about my own friendships and the friends I have thought of as my sisters. Now I'm ready to see the movie.

American House is the first effort by Deryl D. Holmes and tells the fictional story of American House Hotel in South Frankfort, Michigan. Part of what I thoroughly enjoyed about this book was how much the author incorporated the real history of the Frankfort, Michigan area. Today, South Frankfort is known as Elberta, Michigan. Unfortunately, this book can't be found on Amazon or anywhere on the web.

Dreams From My Father was originally published in 1995, shortly after Barack Obama graduated from Harvard Law School. During his years at Harvard, he was elected the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review, which garnered him a great deal of press interest and a publisher asked him to write a book. Dreams From My Father is that book. Although I drank the Barack Obama Kool-Aid long before there was any to drink, I had never read Dreams From My Father and I am surprised at how much new insight I have gained into our next President.

Adventures in Kayaking

Somewhere along the lines, I developed an odd fear of the water. I say it's an odd fear because I was born in Florida and to hear my mom tell it, I could swim before I could walk. I loved swimming in the Gulf of Mexico or Lower Herring Lake or Lake Michigan at Watervale or the pool or the Atlantic Ocean while in the Bahamas. I had no fears at all back then. Water above my head? No problem. Dive into the deep end of the pool? Easy. Nothing bothered me. Just stick me in the water and I was a happy child.

But at some point, that stopped. I still loved swimming in pools, but I suddenly wanted nothing to do with the ocean or lakes at Watervale. And so I didn't. I don't know if it started when I started having problems seeing and needed glasses as a teenager, except I know the summer I worked at Watervale I spent a great deal of free time in the lakes. I just don't know.

So yesterday morning, when Dave suggested at breakfast that we go kayaking since it was my last day at Watervale, my initial answer was a firm no. Part of my resistance I'm certain came from my belief that I couldn't do it. Dave is super athletic and I'm not. And although I used to be a very strong swimmer, I'm not anymore. But Dave continued to pester me about it.

Finally, I asked "Will I end up in the lake?" thinking this would get him off my back because the obvious answer was "of course!" and that would be the end of it. But Dave, knowing when it's better to simply tell me what I want to hear, said "No, of course not. You'll be fine." And off we went.

All settled into my kayak with a life jacket secure around me, we were off to the Boo-Hoo sand dune and then to the Outlet and maybe Lake Michigan. About 1/3 of the way to Boo-Hoo, I lost my balance in the kayak and flipped into the water. At that point, the lake is about 25 feet deep and all I cared about was not losing my sunglasses, contacts, or the oar. I swallowed a bunch of water and came up coughing and struggling to catch my breath. Dave was within inches of me in his kayak and I had my life preserver on, so I was pretty safe, despite my flailing around as though I was drowning.

Once I calmed down and caught my breath, I realized my oar was less than 6 inches away from me and it floats and my sunglasses had remained on my face. I wasn't so certain about my contacts, however, as one seemed to be missing. I asked Dave if he would hop in the lake and find it, but he said no. Luckily, it had simply moved in my eye and quickly rearranged itself so I could see.

After about 5 minutes of futile attempts at getting back in the kayak that only resulted in numerous bruises all over my calves, Dave agreed to tow me back to shore, where I could easily get back in my kayak because I could stand.

Without further incident, we made it to Boo Hoo and then around to the Outlet, where I discovered a dam I had long ago forgotten. Dave soared right over the dam with ease and with his instruction, I was certain I could too. Recalling that the water rides at Great America were my favorite (and only ones I would go on), I figured this would be no more difficult.

I centered my kayak to aim for the deepest point of the dam, but ended up beached just to one side. Dave walked out and helped me get unstuck and realigned, and over the dam I went. Except that my kayak and I separated and I ended up back in the water. But I was determined.

I dragged my kayak to shore, walked it around the dam, got back in, centered myself for the deepest point and off I went. This time, I wound up stuck just to the left, but with Dave's help, I was easily realigned. Over the dam I went and again flipped my kayak. Take three. This time, Dave is laughing hysterically as I again got lined up and again flipped the kayak. But I was insistent that I would not return to Watervale until I had conquered this dam, which was all of about an 18 inch drop.

Dave had a different idea. He suggested that I give it a rest and we head out to Lake Michigan, kayak there for a little while and upon our return, I give the dam another try. So off we went.

We got about 20 feet out into Lake Michigan, when we discovered, much to our surprise, the air temperature on Lake Michigan was easily 15 degrees cooler than on Lower Herring and the water was probably in the low 50s. Dave suggested we head back (before I end up in the water) because it was too cold. As we arrived back at the Lake Michigan shore, I got caught in a wave and got dumped in the water. Luckily, the water was only about 6 inches deep, but the ground was very rocky and as I was standing up, I got pushed over by another wave and bloodied up my knees.

We made our way back through the Outlet toward the dam, which I was hell-bent on defeating. On my 4th and final try, I made it over successfully and then we kayaked back to Watervale where I laid in the sun for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, once I walked my kayak back around the dam and got in on Lower Herring Lake, rather than sitting in the seat, my butt landed on the side of the kayak and I now have a huge bruise on my ass.

I've never thought of myself as a rough and tumble girl because I've always been very girly and feminine. But I'm proud of all my bruises and scrapes. I wear them with honor. I also learned that kayaking is a blast, not nearly as difficult as I'd imagined, and the worst that can happen is I get a little wet. Once I was acclimated to the water, it actually felt good to be a fish again. Maybe I should start swimming laps at my local pool. I only wish I'd discovered all this earlier in the week. The good news is there's only 52 more weeks until Watervale 2009 and I will kayak everyday next year.

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's My Mom's Fault

When I was a kid, before we could leave for a trip, my mom went on a cleaning frenzy. She would stay up all night, the night before we left, if she had to in order to ensure the house was spotless upon our return. Needless to say, it drove us all crazy. C.R.A.Z.Y. Crazy.

I remember many arguments about these cleaning sprees. We lived in a house Martha Stewart would envy anyway, so I never understood the need for this over-the-top cleaning.

My mom's reasoning was that if she had to come home to a messy house, it would distract from her vacation. But if she came home to a house that could pass a white glove test or where the toilets were so clean you could drink from them (we never did, but I did wash my hair in the toilet myself when I was about 2), then her vacation would be truly relaxing and it would be like she'd had maid service while she was gone.

Well, they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Normally, no one would ever mistake me for my mom, in the housekeeping department. My philosophy is that if I can't see it without my glasses, it's not dirty. And those of you who know me, know I can't see my hand in front of my face without my glasses. But without fail, before I go anywhere, even just overnight, I feel the need to clean like a mad woman.

So last Saturday night, despite being overexhausted from a very busy week and a 6 hour drive very early Sunday morning to get to Watervale early in the day (since I was already a day late), I decided to clean house.

But when I get home tomorrow, I'll be ready to hit the ground running and get back to work and it will feel like I had maid service.

In all seriousness, thanks Mom.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

T Minus 21 Days! The Book of Lies to Be Released September 2nd!

I am truly on pins and needles here. Three weeks. Three L.O.N.G. Weeks. Until my favorite author (and friend) Brad Meltzer's new book, The Book of Lies, is released on September 2nd. There are so many reasons I'm excited about this book, and I will share them as September 2nd draws closer. But for now, just know that The Book of Lies is a must-read. Just trust me.

You can pre-order it at Amazon.com (that link takes you right to the page), along with the Companion Soundtrack. And you can also see the video about the companion soundtrack here. Again, trust me, the video is very cool.

If you're a Buffy The Vampire Slayer comic book fan, you can find the Prologue and Chapter 1 of The Book of Lies in Issue 17 (released 8/7/08)!

But it gets BETTER!

You can get your own copy of The Book of Lies FREE!

From Brad's blog . . .

Free Books of Lies

Just got the very first hardcover of the novel. Still looks fake -- like something a buddy made on PhotoShop (and believe me, I'm still waiting for Candid Camera to jump out and tell me the past decade has been a joke on me). But I love the Acknowledgments in there. Best part of the book.

Also, if you want to win a free copy, see below -- and thanks to Robert for doing it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm Gonna Install A Stripper Pole!

My dad will be so proud. His daughter, the pole dancer!

But if CNN says I can lose 50 pounds by pole dancing, I might just do it!


By Judy Fortin CNN Medical Correspondent
August 11, 2008

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The lights were turned down low and the music was pulsing as Kimberly Wright made her way toward a 16-foot tall dance pole to do some tricks.

Wright is not an exotic dancer in a strip club. She's a 38-year-old mother of two from Atlanta, Georgia, looking to get in a decent workout.

"It works the abs, oh my goodness, muscles I didn't even know I had," Wright chuckled.
On this night, Wright is among more than a dozen women of all shapes and sizes -- no men allowed -- attending a beginner class at PoleLaTeaz, an Atlanta dance studio owned by Angela Edwards.

"We get preachers' wives, teachers, nurses, accountants, lawyers, anyone between the age of 18 and 70," Edwards said. "It's not boring...you get to wear fun clothes, listen to good music...and release your inner sexpot."

If online listings across the country are an indication, the popularity of pole dancing is spreading across the country from Southern California to Chicago to the Bible Belt.

A former labor and delivery nurse, Edwards opened her own studio two years ago and now has 400 students. She plans to add another location in the fall.

Edwards demonstrated a few moves during an advanced class later in the evening.

She climbed to the top a pole and, clenching her inner thighs, hung upside down. Watch Edwards demonstrate pole dancing

"The dancing part is where you get the cardiovascular benefits," she said. Then there's "pole-tricking," or doing specific movements balancing your body weight against the pole, such as the "fireman spin."

"That's where you get the weight lifting and weight training," Edwards said.

She mentioned that there is a risk of injury so regardless of their experience, all students start the class with a half-hour warmup using Pilates-like stretches.

Thick mats are placed near the poles as students practice new "tricks," and Edwards encouraged dancers to modify their moves depending on their abilities.

"You see good results," Edwards said. "We have women who come in here 40 to 50 pounds overweight and they drop it in about six to eight months and they get great, nice, hourglass curves."

Cicely Rogers is one of those women who have seen results. "I started last August and I've gone down two dress sizes. I've lost 20 pounds and I feel awesome," she said.
The critical care nurse at an Atlanta hospital admitted that she hurt all over after the first few sessions of pole dancing.

There's another benefit, Rogers said. "This made me feel better about my body. I used to be nervous about my body and try to hide it. Now I'm a lot more open and confident. I stand up straight and feel good about myself."

Rogers is one of the few women wearing shorts and a tank top. Many other students are scantily dressed in lingerie-like outfits.

Almost everyone strapped on stilettos when the dancing got under way. Some of the women said it added to the atmosphere of the class.

"It makes you feel sensual. It makes you feel sexy," said Antigone Locklear, 42, of Atlanta.
Wright said feeling sexy is part of the reason she attended class. Now she's waiting for her husband to install her own dance pole at home.

She smiled. "You know what? I am sexy and yes, pole dancing does put you in the mood."