Friday, October 31, 2008


The 2008 Zombie Walk was a blast. Thanks to Wendy & Krystel for make up assistance! This was a bit out of my comfort zone - I'm a known party pooper when it comes to Halloween costumes. It was a challenge coordinating being away from the home office for hours at a stretch during a big implementation weekend - I only got paged twice, once as the march began and once at the end. It took me out of character! Over the first call, I couldn't help straightening up and speaking formally into the phone - one of the two dozen photographers ran up to snap a pic of me in my 'genuine' moment. I haven't seen the pic turn up online anywheres, but there are still quite a few on Flickr.

As for character? Next year I need to figure out a different shambling gait. I would ram my left leg forward like I was putting a pickaxe to a glacier, then swing my right in an arc. Consequently, my left leg was sore and swollen for days. My growling drone was unconvincing, my attacks on civilians half-hearted. So many things I need to work on, but I'm excited for the next zombie event...

I went home between the walk and the afterhours activities - just making sure everyone in the office was getting what they needed. Zombie Karaoke was fun, just - well, I didn't know anyone. Gabbles & me were the only Z's there for awhile, and the only people singing. But eventually the dead came out; met some cool freaks and had a good time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pop Politics

Is it really the..sixth time? The sixth time I will be voting in the 'most important election of my life?'

If I sound underwhelmed, let me repeat: six. That's five times I've been on this emotional rollercoaster; five times that I let myself get emotionally vested in a contest that ultimately affects me very little. Two of them, feeling post-election optimistic...three of those times, spending an early November Wednesday morn with a sense of dread I knew had a long wait before dissipation or correction. Yep: I'm slowly turning into one of those independents - not jaded, not yet - who see little difference between the blue and the red. I haven't learned to cherish the good times, but I've noticed that when I don't get my way, the world fails to fall apart.

That might sound like an understatement, considering the past eight years...and what might be viewed as the worst, most role-abusive, American presidency in our history. Perhaps I've only projected the potential worst on each Republican presidency: that my privacy will be noticably impinged upon; Roe v. Wade will get overturned; my cuss-word laden music will be made illegal; etc. None of this ever happens. Even the last eight years were more of a competency & motivational, rather than an ideological shortcoming: a case of a 3rd world leader's approach to running a first world country. You know, not wanting to interrupt your vacation while your constituents perish; suspending constitutionally guaranteed liberties as a matter of convenience to meet war time aims; summarizing an Axis of Evil that will only guarantee that your enemies stay your enemies.

Not like any of this is President Bush's fault. Way back in 2000, didn't he look into a camera and say that he trusted voters to make the right decision? He may have lacked a pre-emptive nerve when it comes to the environment, but he was golden on war, and on putting the onus on the decider...which in this case was the American public.

Which also makes a case against Democracy in general. If it were a perfect world, we would have a cap on the number of times we could vote. I mean this in seriousness. If you knew you could only vote in 3 presidential elections in your whole life, would you chose differently when and how you voted? Wouldn't this eliminate the 'cold war' of voting against the opposing party every four years? I would think if we are going to have term limits, we oughtta have voting limits too.

Even if 2008 doesn't bring us the 'most important' election of our lives, it vies for the most novel and entertaining.

Up until the last several months, I really liked John McCain. I think the McCain of 2000 could have made a swell - certainly better than the one we had - president. He seemed to have an honest, sincere connection with people, and at that time he distanced himself from the religious right - he was a maverick, y'know - that provided a small reassurance that he wasn't out to marginalize substantial portions of the American public. He tended to shoot his mouth off as much as Bush, but it had more to do with being direct than being self-servedly cavalier.

There were plenty of red flags, but the first one that realy mattered was the 'Bomb Bomb Iran' clip. When I saw that clip, fully understanding that the rest of the world gets to watch it too, I felt that in the eyes of the world - our leadership could end up looking like the leadership in N. Korea or Iran. Tattooed in 'nutjobbery', with the only difference being that this would be elected - a reflection of the people he governs (okay, Ahmadinejad was elected too - by popular vote. But McCain by anything but a popular vote would doubly exacerbate a grievance).

As a presidential contender, you get to make one executive decision; a freebie. His was Sarah Palin. Either he was playing fast and loose with the maverick tag, or he threw his Hail Mary in the third quarter...oddly, he made a decision that ignored a middle, undecided electorate in favor of persuing jaded Hillary supporters. He brought his decision making process (if mavericks have those) into question, along with suspicions about his thoroughness in vetting a candidate who could potentially end up running the country. It recalled Bush's aggrandizing in the face of adversity, a completely unrealistic ignorance of potential outcomes.

But what has been most decisive for me, recreating a nostalgia for previous campaigns and affirming previously unprovable assertions about the right, is the conduct of his campaign. Making himself a default by attacking his opponent's past and character. Letting his followers fight his fight for him. The waves of negativity that he needs to get back to shore. Even if McCain were to win, still a distinct possibility - it would be under the dubious context of pandering to the lowest common denominator and by dividing the country through fear, the only emotive he can enlist against his competition's message of hope. Suppose he were to win: he's guaranteed partisanship with a potentially Democrat congress. He has contributed to the rift between left and right by extending the crossing and deepening the chasm.

So I'm voting Obama. With reservations.

If there is one positive thing to say about the past eight years, it's the potential it opens for a saviour-like character. Demagogue has gone from being a smear - like liberal - to describing the medicine needed for a disenchanted populace. All Obama needs to do is to point out the faults of the previous presidency and state that he can do better. This, when any Joe Shmoe feels like they could do better.

I say reservations because - long before the Republican VP hopeful made it a more sinister prompt - I questioned his experience and depth. The press was talking presidency from the day he entered the Senate, and it all seemed so premature...and his attendance on showing up to vote was, well, disappointing. Initially, it felt like watching the bar being lowered all over again: we can dismiss the last president's enunciation challenges; let's dismiss the next one's voting record - or lack thereof. Afterall, he talks so pretty.

My other reservation: Obama's rock star status, his messiah-like call to followers and ability to seem as though walking on water. In light of some of his voting decisions (FISA - big disappointment. Bank Bailout - bigger disappointment), I'm surprised at the lack of criticism he garners as the adored candidate. I've often looked at the right, questioning how so many impoverished can vote against their interests (the quick answer is religion)...and the Obama-phenomenon has me asking the same question about basic social liberalism. It seems that the bigger he gets, the more safe and conservative he is.

Perhaps it is my age. Perhaps because I've seen it all before. I'm voting for Obama to legitimize popular opinion, or what I see it to be.

When I look for positive reasons, I find them coming from unexpected places. I want to vote for him because the rest of the free world wants to see him as our leader. I see conservative rats jumping ship, like Buckley's progeny or Vanity Fair's own tedious souse - endorsing Obama - and I see an opportunity for unity for which my own little history can provide no measure. In a nutshell, Obama projects being a competent, enlightened leader...something we haven't seen in awhile. If his speech in response to his connection to Rev. Wright serves an indication, Obama could be the rare individual that truly wants to lead: to enlighten and advance the people he represents.

As I get older, left and right just feel like spatial directions: moving away from each other, in opposite directions, for eternity. Also, as I get older, I don't feel like there exists an ideology that is going to solve all the problems I want to see solved. The only time I feel jaded, is when I realize that a candidate that lives up to an ideology simply doesn't exist. But I do believe there are barriers that we have lived with that have long outlasted their initial points of contention, and Obama presents the opportunity for a youthful expansion of vision, a look from a different angle, at the image this country presents to the rest of the world.