Archive for January, 2008

Know Your US Senators, part 7 of 10: Levin through Mikulski

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

God damn it, I finish what I start.

Carl Levin
Senior Senator from Michigan
Party: Democratic
Assumed Office: 1979
Age: 73
Pros: Respected Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; voted against sending troops into Iraq, and has consistently supported legislation to bring an end to the war; opposes New Hampshire’s claim on having the first presidential primary in the US, and I’m betting we’re more or less all in agreement on that one right now.
Cons: Keeps moving his glasses further and further down his face, presumably as a metaphor for the effects of climate change on the polar ice caps; while a deeply moving and thought-provoking image, it is now very unlikely that Levin can actually see.

Joe Lieberman
Junior Senator from Connecticut
Party: Independent (Connecticut for Lieberman)
Assumed Office: 1989
Age: 65
Pros: Well, I mean, he’s not president or vice president. That’s something, right? Right?
Cons: Warmongering, self-righteous traitor to his party and his constituents; member of Connecticut for Lieberman political party, which very sadly has a 100% success rate so far in getting its candidates elected.

Blanche Lincoln
Senior Senator from Arkansas
Party: Democratic
Assumed Office: 1999
Age: 47
Pros: Youngest woman ever elected to the Senate (age 38); youngest current Senior Senator; excellent name for a politician.
Cons: Mighty conservative in some key respects, being from Arkansas and all; basically useless to the party on Iraq; the name “Blanche” literally means “white,” so her name as a descriptor is basically saying, “Look! There are still some white people named Lincoln in this country!” …and now that’s just racist, isn’t it?

(In this spot, but a month ago, I’d have been able to do a writeup on everyone’s favorite racial punchline senator Trent Lott. Due to his abrupt resignation, however, we must find a way to carry on without him. His replacement, Roger Wicker, will be evaluated at his appropriate alphabetical position.)

Richard G. Lugar
Senior Senator from Indiana
Party: Republican
Assumed Office: 1977
Age: 75
Pros: Finally started coming around last year about Iraq, bluntly stating that the US military’s role should be diminished.
Cons: I think he and Angelina Jolie like each other. Ewwww.

Mel Martinez
Junior Senator from Florida
Party: Republican
Assumed Office: 2005
Age: 61
Pros: Born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba; came to the US during a ’60s humanitarian effort called Operation Peter Pan, which probably had something to with Castro’s tactical use of flying children during the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Cons: Partly responsible for the infamous Schiavo memo; constantly being investigated for campaign donation and reporting violations since his election in 2004.

John McCain
Senior Senator from Arizona
Party: Republican
Assumed Office: 1987
Age: 71
Pros: As of last night, widely considered to be the GOP frontrunner in the 2008 presidential election; seems to have overcome Mitt Romney’s sharply executed “Who Let The Dogs Out?” political move, which you’d think would have brought in minority voters by the truckload.
Cons: Is it too early to start worrying about this and this?

Claire McCaskill
Junior Senator from Missouri
Party: Democratic
Assumed Office: 2007
Age: 54
Pros: Defeated a sitting Republican senator, Jim Talent, in the 2006 Democratic sweep; more like Jim Talentless, I’d say! Talent in winning elections that is! Because he didn’t win! jhgljhlkjh
Cons: Looks like she’s angling to be Obama’s running mate; but no one wants a squishy-faced Vice President (we all remember how the last one ended up, don’t we).

Mitch McConnell
Senior Senator from Kentucky
Party: Republican
Assumed Office: 1985
Age: 65
Pros: Great superhero alterego name; that’s about it.
Cons: Blazingly inept Senate Minority Leader; full-fledged Bush apologist and abettor; not actually a superhero, not even Green Arrow or something lame like that.

Bob Menendez
Junior Senator from New Jersey
Party: Democratic
Assumed Office: 2006
Age: 54
Pros: Second Cuban senator in today’s list, oddly enough; adorably football-shaped head.
Cons: Accused of ethics violations in 2006, but then again by New Jersey Democrat standards the guy’s probably a saint.

Barbara Milkulski
Senior Senator from Maryland
Party: Democratic
Assumed Office: 1987
Age: 71
Pros: Most senior female Senator; more significantly, though not “out” as such, our only lesbian Senator as well.
Cons: Has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, talking about the whole woman glass ceiling feminist whatnot deal; minor quibble though, Mikulski’s one of the good guys…er, ladies. Not insinuating anything.

Next time: Know Your US Senators, part 8: Murkowski through Rockefeller. And maybe less than four months from now this time!

Final Predictions

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Whether the Oscars happen or not, nominations will be announced in five days. That means it’s time to end the guessing and place my final bets. Here we go (expected winners in bold):

Picture
Atonement
Into the Wild
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Director
P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd)
Ethan & Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)
Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly)

Actor
George Clooney (Michael Clayton)
Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)
Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd)
Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)

Actress
Julie Christie (Away From Her)

Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose)
Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart)
Laura Linney (The Savages)
Ellen Page (Juno)

Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James…)
Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Hal Holbrook (Into the Wild)
Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton)

Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There)

Ruby Dee (American Gangster)
Catherine Keener (Into the Wild)
Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)

Original Screenplay
Diablo Cody (Juno)
Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton)
Tamara Jenkins (The Savages)
Kelly Masterson (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead)
Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl)

Adapted Screenplay
P.T. Anderson (There Will Be Blood)
Ethan & Joel Coen (No Country for Old Men)
Christopher Hampton (Atonement)
Ronald Harwood (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly)
Sean Penn (Into the Wild)

I probably have no business making guesses in the other various categories, but I’m going to anyway (except for the short film ones, because I don’t even know what the candidates would be): (more…)

Adam Szychowski

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Three days later and I’m still not sure this one’s really sunk in yet. Adam was a good friend to me in high school, but I hadn’t spoken to him much in the last couple of years. He emailed me last winter to express his sympathies after hearing about my mother, and what he wrote was strikingly eloquent and deeply felt. And that was Adam. I don’t want to get trite here, because that was something he was always able to avoid and to do so would be a disservice to his memory. Maybe I’ll come up with something meaningful enough to post later on. In the meantime, all I can say is this is crushing.