Archive for February, 2008

My Favorite Wonk

UPDATE: A shorter version of this has been posted at the Houston Chronicle’s “Texas on the Potomac” blog. Props to my pal Rick Dunham for that!

Just last year, my sister Cathy seemed to be having all of the electoral fun inbill-clinton.jpg Iowa. Little did we know that I’d get a condensed version of that in Texas! My friend Debi and I decided to go on a group date with Bill Clinton this afternoon at UT. We arrived about an hour early, just as the largely student crowd gathered before the “gates” at the Main Mall. Local Dem candidates for lower-ticket offices mingled (we had a nice chat with county judge hopeful John Lipscombe), and as the numbers grew, a team of students for Barack joined in, passing out stickers and waving stenciled posters with Barack (à la Che) overhead. At 5:30, the gates opened, setting off the hordes. Debi and I joked about it being like a Who concert and one of the students beside us said, “I LOVE the Who!” We staked out a spot not far from the stairs leading to the snakelike risers in the hopes of getting a good look at Da Man as he entered. Well, okay, but that would be quite some time. Meanwhile, I loved hearing Springsteen’s “The Rising” cranked out over the PA. I did make a mental note at the irony of Bill speaking in front of a building engraved with “Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.” With just the right camera angle in the photo pool…

After endless patter, a tribal hiphop dance crew, some crazed Clintonite warming up the crowd by squawking and firing T-shirts, we were finally introduced to a celebrity traveling with the campaign. He walked out and everyone around us Continue reading ‘My Favorite Wonk’

The Great Debate

As the site of the Hillarack/Barackillary Debate on Feb. 21, Austin (well, except for a few of those Rs) was all atwitter over the event. You’d think we had never had any presidential candidates (or presidents) pass through our fair city! Only 100 tickets were available to the public, and 43,000 people entered the drawing for them! The highlight of my day was the voicemail from Chelsea Clinton asking me to come to join her for a rally supporting her mom at Austin Community College.

I watched the debate from home with a couple of friends, the first one I’d watched from start to finish. Hillary scored big on specific answers and probably won it. Barack kept pace, though he was struggling a bit with a cold (welcome to Austin, big guy!). But what did the stupid media (my chosen profession, sigh!) start carrying on about, immediately following? The Xerox remark. Sure, that bombed, but it wasn’t exactly the most memorable or significant part of the debate. The fact that the two of them are so similar is reassuring. I love Hillary’s wonkiness — I want a wonk back in the White House! But Barack has struck that emotional chord, and I like that too. I’ve decided how I’ll vote on March 4, but no matter what happens, I’ll be delighted with whoever gets the nomination. And as Hillary (and John Edwards) says, we’ll be fine.

It’s so exciting that Texas is in play! After keeping up with the Iowa caucuses through my sister Cathy (an Edwards delegate), it’s great fun to have that buzz down here! All over the state, early voting is off the charts already!

I didn’t get to the Obama rally last night, but I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to see him and/or Hillary before the big day rolls around. I find it rather fitting that the state that incubated W is now playing a pivotal role in naming his Democratic successor (how’s that for positive thinking?!). Could it be that Texas is turning purple?!?!

#3: My First Pyramid and the Tour Guide From Mayan Hell!

A few weeks before the cruise, Carol had sent me an e-mail asking if I would be interested in making day a trip to Chichen Itza. My answer: Heck, YES! I’ve always been fascinated by those ruins, and I was so excited to have the chance to go. So early on Jan. 29, Carol, Lynn, James, and I boarded the bus at Progreso. After we settled in and started the drive across that glum causeway and bridge, our tour guide, an elderly man of Mayan descent named José, started what proved to be an interminable lecture about “Chi-CHEN Eet-ZAH.” He droned on and on, along with the grimey panaromas of Progreso and then the flat, tedious landscape beyond. He finally shut it after Merida, but not after hawking a Mayan calendar book (available for either $10 or $30, depending on which one of us heard what!). After about two hours, we stopped at what José billed as a convenient bathroom stop, which was more like additional shopping opportunities (for which, I’m sure, he received a cut). James and Carol bought Pringles (take that, vendors!). One mile later and around noon, we were at Chichen Itza, which, oddly enough, had plenty of rest room and shopping opportunities!. José wasted more time by handing out our tickets and wristbands, something he could have done on the bus. Finally, we passed through the turnstile, and there it was, the magnificent Pyramid of Kulkulkan (a.k.a. El Castillo) under a bright-blue sky. Awed and antsy, I wanted to bolt right over to it, but José had other ideas. He ordered us to gather so he could give us an introduction and tell us where to meet at 1:45 p.m. As he blah-blah-blahed, we had to fend off diminutive overly assertive Mayan ladies pushing embroidered handkerchiefs (“One dollar, lady!”). José then led us over to Continue reading ‘#3: My First Pyramid and the Tour Guide From Mayan Hell!’

#2: Mexico!

(Hint to improve your reading experience: Click on this link for this entry’s soundtrack and then come back and read on!) On the cruise, I knocked out a second Fab First: my first trip to Mexico.

Carol, Lynn, and I left the ship around 10 a.m. on Monday, January 28, for a stroll through Cozumel on a bright, sunny day. First impression: Charming from the ship; too touristy on land. We stopped at a little mini-mall where Lynn succeeded in bartering (a first for her!) a good price on a wooden Jesus. We then diverted off the turista trek (there was no Senor Frog’s for this group!) and popped into a small Americanized coffee shop for water, latte, and cookies. It was also our first shot at using cell phones; Carol’s worked. Mine did, sort of –– Continue reading ‘#2: Mexico!’

#1: Cruisin’ With Carol (Part 3: Cruise Rules)

One thing we did come up with throughout the trip were our Cruise Rules:

  1. Always take the stairs instead of elevators (Carol instigated this rule on earlier cruises, and with all of the various decks, this rule probably kept me from taking evidence of Rule #6, below, home with me!).
  2. What Not to Wear: Anything with letters across the tush, no matter what age (inspired by a flimsy jogging suit with rhinestone letters across hips that were definitely too wide).
  3. No braids: Oh, sure, every shop in Cozumel offers Bo Derek-in-Ten braids and beads. But come on –– no one who got braided looks anything like Bo Derek.
  4. Cell phones need to be worked out before arriving in Mexico!
  5. Sign & sail cards will almost always have some type of problem at some point.
  6. Dessert is mandatory!
  7. Stop at every photo opportunity and POSE! (rule courtesy of the Suite Bunch).
  8. T-shirts bought in Cozumel should stay behind on the ship, especially those that have anything to do with certain parts of the male/female anatomy.

On Valentine’s Day

On this Valentine’s Day, two songs come to mind: Steve Earle’s lovely “Valentine’s Day.” Then, of course, being a Todd girl, I have to add “Love Is the Answer” by Todd R (video is dorky but the song sublime). Then we go to two poems by the 14th-century mystic poet Kabir.

Hang up the swing of love today!

Hang the body and the mind between the arms of the beloved, in the ecstasy of love’s joy.

Bring the tearful streams of the rainy clouds to your eyes, and cover your heart with the shadow of darkness.

Bring your face nearer to his ear, and speak of the deepest longings of your heart.

Kabir says: “Listen to me brother! Bring the vision of the Beloved in your heart.”


My lover came in my dreams,

In sleep we embraced each other with joy,

I would not dare to open my eyes,

I would not like to lose this beautiful dream.

The songs he sang, the words he said,

Are embedded in my heart forever,

I am afraid to drink anything,

The messages may get washed away.

When my lover enters my eyes,

I will embrace him with my eyelids closed,

Neither shall I see anyone,

nor he would see anyone else.

#1: Cruisin’ With Carol (Day 2: Fun Day at Sea)

Our first Fun Day at Sea gave me a chance to explore the ship and get in the sea groove. The ship was so huge that my water phobia was under control, even when I went to the upper deck’s jogging track to get in my 11 laps (one my mile). I loved the spectacular views of the water, water everywhere (okay, maybe I’m not the water wienie I claim to be!). Wind gusts tried to pop off my hat every time I made a certain turn, and I occasionally had to docruisers-with-roses-small.jpgdge errant golf balls from the mini-golf course in the mid- dle of the track, but I got the job done. Duty called for Carol bright and early; she did photos with listeners and then helped host the KFDI Deck Olympics. The highlight had to be the quarter drop contest, in which contestants had to use their lower cheeks to drop quarters into a cup!
After lunch, Carol and I went back up to the track deck to lounge and read in relative quiet, until it got too chilly. The Suite Bunch caught up with us there, after missing out on the finals of the slots tournament. Just as James was recounting their latest schtick rather loudly, “… and then I said, ‘Angie used to be a MAN!,” a sedate group of older walkers came by and almost tripped as he said. We skeddadled out and I went for a nap. From my upper bunk, I had the visual equivalent of meditation tape, a relaxing, hypnotic view of nothing but waves. Put me right to sleep!

Formal wear was required for dinner that evening, and Bo from Oklahoma gave each of us a white rose. After dinner, the band did a soundcheck, which ended up being rather complicated, because apparently the sound capabilities weren’t quite what had been expected). Then it was more Society Bar fun till rather late (and yes, we had to stop and take pictures –– that’s Timmy and Joel with Carol and Lynn and me!).

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, K-eeeeeew!

Texas 72, Kansas 69 — OUCH! Yes, I was there. Oh, well, KU could stand to lose a couple more games (I vote for four total) before March Madness.

#1: Cruisin’ With Carol

cruise-logo-orange.jpgTo celebrate my birthday, my sister Carol invited me to tag along on the fourth annual KFDI “Cruise With Carol” — yes, she’s that Carol! That was a “first” offer I couldn’t refuse! Plus, it led to First #2 (more on that later!). I joined about 250 of her diehard listeners and special guest Trent Tomlinson and his new band aboard Carnival’s Ecstasy in Galveston on January 26 for the five-day Western Caribbean cruise, with stops in Cozumel and Progreso. Carol had her own private posse along for the fun: friends Lynn, James, Chris, Angie, Joe, and Mark and, of course, big sister! We boarded around 1 p.m. (that’s Carol and me in our first Carnival photo, below!) and tracked down Lynn for lunch before Muster Drill, which was basically an exercise in cramming cruisers and their life jackets into small rooms (think inadvertent sumo wrestling) and then seeing how well we can maneuver our way as a group to our designated lifeboat area. Not being terribly fond of water, I wasn’t all that crazy about staring at the lifeboats and the running tape of “women and children’ first!” Once we were all released from looking at the lifeboats, we shipped out and went to the Adults Only Life Vest and Bon Voyage Party in the James/Chris/Angie suite, the first of several visits. They even had a soaking tub, granite countertops, and a balcony — we had bunk beds, a shohappy-cruisers.jpgwer stall that tended to overflow, and an ocean-view window.

At dinner, we met our KFDI table mates. Because all of the KFDI cruisers were dining in the first shift, Carol made the rounds each night. What a kick it was to trail along in Carol’s wake! She’s so great at her job, and her fans just adore her. Lynn and I stayed behind to chat up our table mates and whoever else came by looking for Carol.

Overall, the food was quite good, although we all had to wonder about the eggplant parmesan, which was more like sautéed eggplant and zucchini doused in béarnaise sauce and slathered with greasy cheese (and poor Carol and Lynn did more than wonder about it!). I was disappointed that the Suite Bunch was dining in the later shift, because Joe apparently made a habit of ordering at least two entrees at every meal, and I would have paid to see that! Everyone was about the chocolate melting pot, which was waaaay to choco-latte for me. But I DID manage to down dessert at every meal (it’s a cruise, so dessert

Continue reading ‘#1: Cruisin’ With Carol’

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