The Rest Of The World Is Wearing Bifocals

I work weekends, often, late, and every. It’s perfect for a guy like me, whose grasp of the calendar has always been tenuous anyway; weekends are days when more people are in the grocery store, mostly, that’s all. And I hear more power tools. That’s about it.

Twice a month these are 12-on, 12-off, separated by mediocre sleep and some bizarre behavior, most of it cognitive. Even a pretty cursory, 101-level study of human development demonstrates that as we get older, we do some things better and some things not as well, but mostly we slow down. This is good for writing poetry, not as good for engaging in witty conversation with an 18-year-old special needs kid who has a tendency to drill down into the intricacies of World of Warcraft and occasionally ask for feedback from Dad, who usually says, “Need coffee, man want coffee now” and only hours later starts to recall the details. I move in slow motion on the weekends.

Used to be, when I was younger, that I could work those kinds of shifts and still have energy to party on, hit the clubs, do The Hustle, vote for Jimmy Carter and then, belly full of beer and hepped up on goofballs, vandalize some parking meters and still give the middle finger to The Man. Those were the days, my friend.

I could be embellishing my youth a bit. Maybe I saw too many movies.

I still see and read, though; I can’t help it, glued to the computer as I am, two monitors, five virtual desktops — news has a way of leaking in. So yes, I know about Paul Newman.

I wrote a column yesterday about him, by the way. I was reading some reminiscences (try writing that word without caffeine. Try. Dare you) by others and felt sort of cheated; how come I didn’t have a chance encounter with the guy, run into him in an airport or cross paths in the way that a guy who spent some time on the far peripheries of show biz might still occasionally do? But no. That would have been nice, though.

And then I remembered my close call. And I wrote about it, like so:

In 1979, a friend and I managed to wrangle passes onto the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank. We wandered around, not having any luck at being accidentally discovered as the next Newman and Redford (for good reason), spent a few minutes watching busy people film an episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” and then as we were leaving we saw the parking space.

It was in front of the looping building, where actors re-record dialogue that was muffled or otherwise needed fixing. There were two spaces in front with names prominently painted on them. One said “Dustin Hoffman” and in it was parked an unremarkable Datsun 240Z.

And the other was “Mr. Paul Newman,” and it had a Porsche. A Porsche that had a license plate decal that said, “I’d Rather Be Racing.”

Oh, you betcha that was his car.

We waited for a while, but he never came out. Still, I touched his Porsche once. Whole religions have been started on less interaction.

I miss a world that doesn’t have Paul Newman in it, and like a lot of things it never occurred to me that this would be so until it was too late.

(Screen grab taken from my very own purchased copy of “Butch Cassidy”)

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So, You Wanna Know…

what I thought? Sure you do. I mean, everybody and his second cousin in the blogosphere has written about last night’s debate. Why not a junkie like me?

Actually, I listened to it mostly, since I was busy dealing with weird firewallish computer issues at absolutely the worst time. My initial thought, during the economic portion, was that they were both dull and wandering away from the question like it smelled bad and they didn’t want to be rude.

And I honestly wasn’t watching, and didn’t catch, this business about McCain not ever looking at Obama, although I heard the derision in his voice (there were lots of drinking games, apparently, going on, revolving around the debate, particularly about when and how often McCain would say “maverick” and bring up his POW status. I wonder how many of those people remember the debate today).

There were lots of theories floating around the punditry about this, but it’s obvious to me, and has been for a long time: McCain doesn’t like Obama. Nothing new here; McCain dislikes lots of people. Particularly people younger than he is. “Punk” is apparently one of his endearments if you close your eyes a little and pretend that he’s nicer than he really is.

My feeling was that it was a nice bit of political theater, and maybe gave some of these “low-information voters” a first look-see at who’s going to be putting a hand on the Bible and the other one straight up come January 20. I thought they both were on top of their games, and if anything McCain put to rest this meme that’s been floating around for the past week or so that maybe there’s something wrong with the man. Maybe something medically wrong. Maybe, but I saw no sign. Looked like McCain to me. Brain seemed to be working fine (well, you know. He was spouting bullshit like he knew he had a new shipment coming in Saturday afternoon, but that’s standard behavior from our man these days. Cognitively, I’m thinking he was fine).

Obama was aggressive, not so much hemming and hawing, and I’m sorry but I refuse to buy the idea that somehow, by acknowledging when he and McCain were in agreement, that he was undercutting himself. He was being polite, and making his serious disagreements more potent. It’s not a hard trick to understand, really. TV people are so stooopid sometimes.

So the pundits wasted a lot of oxygen spewing boxing metaphors (good grief) until the insta-polls came in, showing (surprise) that Obama was considered the winner. And the nicer person. Whatever. My vote didn’t change, I’d be surprised if yours did, but what do I know?

The only thing that surprised me was that I haven’t seen or heard a reaction to McCain’s bizarre opening statement — “I have sad news” — when he mentioned that Ted Kennedy had been taken to the hospital. First, I’m thinking that if people are interested enough to be watching this debate from the beginning, they’re probably aware that Ted Kennedy was taken to the hospital. Second, if they were aware that he was taken to the hospital, they were likely also aware that he was released fairly quickly after that, apparently having a mild medication reaction. Throw in the fact that Ted Kennedy is, like, Obama’s biggest supporter and the statement seems…odd. A naked pander? Trying to show the soft side before he said “Sen. Obama obviously doesn’t understand…” a hundred times? Whatever it was, it struck me as very strange. Very dramatic. Very theatrical, even. But then, we’re talking about a man who “suspended” his campaign (not) for a total of 57 hours, canceled the debate and then uncanceled all within the same news cycle.

So, I’m off to bed; long night. Not a game changer as far as I can see; both did good, seemed coherent, seemed plausible, didn’t make any news. I might, just on the basis of emphasis and aggressiveness and maybe old fashioned snottiness, give the edge to McCain. Hey, I’m comfortable with that. As much as I think he’s really become a sad, despicable shell of his former self, assuming any part of that former self wasn’t fiction to begin with, it’s not like I think he’s the worst possible choice for President.

That, unfortunately, would be the person he chose as his running mate. God help us all. Know hope. ‘Night.

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Quote Of The Day II

“It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology. In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The ‘steady hand in a storm’ argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain.”

— Republican consultant Craig Shirley, who advised McCain earlier in this cycle.

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Quote Of The Day

Mr. McCain was at one end of the long conference table, Mr. Obama at the other, with the president and senior Congressional leaders between them. Participants said Mr. Obama peppered Mr. Paulson with questions, while Mr. McCain said little.

–Nice, comprehensive account of what happened yesterday in D.C. Although from the Communists at the NYT, so.

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My Bank Failed Last Night

I wonder if my debit card still works? Hmm. Have to try that today sometime.

But good news! Alan Fishman, the CEO of Washington Mutual, is going to scrape by. He’s eligible for $11.6 million in cash severance and will get to keep his $7.5 million signing bonus, so I’m thinking he’s going to be OK.

Not bad for having been on the job less than three weeks. What a country.

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Quote Of The Day

Why 700 billion? An explanation:

It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

Ah. OK then.

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