Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Confirming the Head of "Justice"

Mikaela says:
So the buzz about nominee-for-Attorney-General Mukasey was that he was a smart nominationfor the Bush adminstration because of his supposed "independent" decisions from the federal bench.

What? Bush & Co. supporting independence??? Not offering up another loyalist (who they know would have a hard time getting confirmed)? How enlightened! How just. What a good sign.

And then the news from the confirmation hearings. First, some rumbling of trouble over his refusal to say waterboarding is unequivocally torture, when most of the experts say, it can't be anything but. Not a good sign.

Then the nail in the proverbial coffin (hmmm... wonder if Cheney would consider that torture?):

From Dan Froomkin:

The USA Today editorial board writes that Mukasey's views on torture are important but "of far greater concern, is what Mukasey said about the limits of presidential power. While the president cannot act illegally, he said, 'illegal' is a fuzzy concept when it comes to the president.

"The nominee asserted that the president has broad and ill-defined powers to ignore a law when he believes his constitutional authority to defend the nation empowers him to do so. Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., described this as 'a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.' . . .

"[B]efore the Senate confirms Mukasey, it should be confident that he stands unequivocally for the principle that no American is above the law, not even the president."

Former White House associate counsel Bradford A. Berenson writes in a USA Today with an opposing view: "To say, as Judge Mukasey has, that the president has certain inherent powers over military and intelligence matters that Congress might not be able to regulate or take away is nothing more than an acknowledgment of constitutional reality. Nor should he be faulted for refusing to render snap legal judgments about classified interrogation methods without access to either the facts or the existing legal analysis of the department he has been nominated to lead."

Adam Cohen writes in a New York Times opinion piece: "President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was asked an important question about Congress's power at his confirmation hearing. If witnesses claim executive privilege and refuse to respond to Congressional subpoenas in the United States attorneys scandal -- as Karl Rove and Harriet Miers have done -- and Congress holds them in contempt, would his Justice Department refer the matter to a grand jury for criminal prosecution, as federal law requires?

"Mr. Mukasey suggested the answer would be no. That was hardly his only slap-down of Congress. He made the startling claim that a president can defy laws if he or she is acting within the authority 'to defend the country.' That is a mighty large exception to the rule that Congress's laws are supreme.

From Obama's press release via Slate:

While his legal credentials are strong, his views on two critical and related matters are, in my view, disqualifying. We don't need another attorney general who believes that the President enjoys an unwritten right to secretly ignore any law or abridge our constitutional freedoms simply by invoking national security. And we don't need another attorney general who looks the other way on issues as profound as torture. Judge Mukasey's professed ignorance of the debate over the propriety of practices like “waterboarding,” or simulated drowning, as a means of interrogation, was appalling.

From Democracy Now:
Opposition Grows Against Mukasey Nomination
Opposition is growing to Attorney General nominee Michael Mukasey. On Monday Democratic Senator Chris Dodd publicly announced he would vote against Mukasey. Hours later Senators Joseph Biden and Barack Obama announced they too might oppose his nomination. All three Senators are running for president. Dodd criticized Mukasey for claiming that the president of the United States could stand above constitutional statutes. Dodd said: "That is about as basic as it gets. You must obey the law. Everyone must." Dodd, Biden and Obama all criticized Mukasey for refusing to say whether waterboarding was a form of torture. Obama told the New York Sun: "No nominee for attorney general should need a second chance to oppose torture and the unnecessary violation of civil liberties."
Plea to Congress: Please, please, please keep up this level of support of our Constitution! We're dying out here, quite literally. Without a just head of the Justice Department, we lose such an important protection against Executive abuse of power. Our country will then resemble a toothless lion with atomic bombs. Or something like that.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two things to read today

Mikaela points you to:

  1. Perennial m-pyre favorite Gene Grant greets his new readers from the pages of the ABQ Journal, having lost his soapbox at the soon-to-be-defunct ABQ Tribune. (Link is to another site, because the Journal's online deal is LAME)
  2. AP article on the disparity between minority & white attitudes toward Trick or Treating... Guess who thinks it's safe, and who doesn't? As Marjorie would tell you, this has much more to do with class than with race, however. Hint: When your neighbors, like you, make over $50,000 a year, you tend to think they're trustworthy to give your tots treats. When you're in a trailer home? Not so much.
Hence the fanatically frenetic preparations on Forrester Street, one of the only places not in the Heights where people feel safe bringing their children...

Hillary's Path to Power points me to Big Bill

marjorie says...

Like Laura Bush, I won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she’s a woman. But it's possible I might vote for her because she’s a former first lady, barring other factors. In the world we live in, other countries have no problem rewarding the wives with the presidency. Why not us? Afterall, they put up with the schmucks. Ok... seriously…I am serious. People seem to have this notion that a woman should achieve things on her own merit in a man’s world. I agree. They (we) should. But also, strong women have always emerged through the marriage/motherhood avenues, throughout history. And you won’t see me disparaging that. Hillary is a smart and competent woman. The proof can be seen in her calculated mastery of what it takes to get herself positioned to be a strong contender for the presidency. Does it mean I agree with how she has shifted over the years? NO. But I don’t have a problem with how she got to this place, given the world we live in. Ask me again in a couple of decades.

As for how she's shifted...

Joe Monahan quotes Bill Safire from the Sunday’s Meet the Press thusly about whether or not Hillary would ask Bill Richardson to be Vice Prez:

Well, I was torn there, because Bill Richardson would bring a lot to the ticket, his Spanish background and all. However, he’s surprised all of us by going very strongly anti-war. Now, bring the boys home now—not the boys. Bring the troops home now. So I don’t think she could cross that bridge with him.”

To me, this really says it all about Hillary Clinton. Not to mention the other Democrats in the race to be our nominee. It says a lot about the Democratic party in general. Sure, it was a Republican wing-nut who rode hell bent for leather into perdition...but this is all the more reason for a Democrat to get us out...sooner rather than a ridiculous 4-5 years after they win election. Please.

There are plenty of studies and reasoned opinions from military and policy professionals with stellar resumes that say we can feasibly get out of Iraq within the space of one year. The general objection to Bill Richardson's plan seems to be it's 6-month timeline..."well, no...more like 9 months to a year." In the scheme of things, a year is nothing. We've been there already for 4.

If for nothing else, this is why I would vote for Bill. 6 months, 9 months, a year. Maybe he'd find he can't actually get out of Iraq. But at least he is saying it. If you had asked me in the 90's who I would choose, New Mexico's Big Bill or Hillary Clinton...what do you think I would have said? Well, times have changed...she's changed. The thing about her I don't like is that she's gone well right of center in key areas...because that's her path to power, not the fact that she was married to a powerful man.

Maggie (sleepily) shouts:

"2004 was an exorcism. 2007 is an exclamation point."
- Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

three seers: mikaela looks ahead

Rounding out the last week in our birthday month, I have the honor of being the last to offer m-pyre's third birthday congratulations.

Having seen this year the fruition of m-pyre's original inspiration, I feel so blessed to be part of this cyber-space where three interesting minds, and even better, three friends, can share their best ideas, intuitive insights, crazy activities, pet peeves, and major fears.

So this year, not only do I have things I'm looking forward to, I also have predictions about my best girls -- or maybe they're just hopes.

For Maggie, I see a deeper level of integration, where there's no more chasm between love, work, and play -- where the interstices between them get sewn together with her sunny optimism and steely integrity. She's walking competence, and this year is her year to shine in all her many orbits.

Personally, I'm waiting for her posts on the following:

  • Those issues that Democrats with a big 'D' should move to the left to stand up for -- the real progressive issues
  • Campaign coverage, splicing and dicing so we understand the history, the platforms, and the hope
  • Hometown changes, through a planner's eyes, as well as a girl who's doing her best to move closer to home, job by job
  • Can Dallas be considered part of the southwest? What's southern? What's inexplicably Texas?
  • With more distance from Albuquerque, what begins to explain this place at the core, as the details fall away?
  • And of course, shopping, cooking, reading, office politics, and other daily details of life.
For Marjorie, this year bodes big changes. She moves into her power this year. Where before she's been trying to finish things up, this year she begins with all her ducks in a row, lined up like little rubber yellow soldiers ready to do her bidding and take on the world.

So as for what I'm looking forward to reading from Marjorie, here's the list:
  • Local fights, what's at stake and what's to gain.
  • Local politics, who's doing good and who's doing bad for their constituents and for all of us
  • Book reports as she works her way through the classics, because, as she said to me last year, "I won't let myself get to the end of my life and have to say I didn't read. How ridiculous would that be?" Agreed. What are you reading next?
  • The Quilt Wars. How it works, who's who, who's scamming, and where does that supplier get all her quilts? What are the ins and outs of ethics on African American quilts? What does that tell us about how we value race? How does that influence what we consider artistry? What does authentic really come to mean in this foggy context?
  • And umm, what are those things you can't overlook when dating?
Mostly, though, I just want to hear about my friends, because although I live with Marjorie, we all spend more time on-line than we do with each other, even when Maggie lived here. And the older I get, the less I do phones.

So friend to friends, here's what I hope we all write for each other to share:
  • Our latest hopes
  • Our latest loves
  • Our growing dreams
  • What's made us stronger
  • What's made us more beautiful
  • All the ways we miss and love each other as the months and years go by.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The One and Only Yamboree

Maggie says:
Huge thanks to Marjorie and her wonderful family for welcoming me into the Yamboree fold last weekend. Amazingly, a festival inspired by the yam managed to not just surpass, but to blow away all the hype m-pyre has spent years building around it. So it goes without saying that this is no typical vegetable celebration. Start with yams, sure, but throw in a parade with gowns and fanfare, sprinkle in some carnival rides and livestock, mix in some fiddling and country-western dancing on the square, add to that folks coming from far and wide to see and be seen in downtown Gilmer, and finish off with Marjorie's parents and sisters. Spectacular any way you look at it.

Erik and I met Marjorie from points south and west for the weekend and were immediately swept up by family fun. There were some tough choices over the weekend ("I don't have room for the turkey leg and the funnel cake - which one should I get?!"), some unconquered quests (that elusive orange tie-dyed "Peace Love and Yams" Yamboree t-shirt), and a high school football game unforgettable for both the final score and the local culture embodied in the experience.

Erik and I subtitled the weekend the "Marjorie Heritage Tour" for good reason. I think Erik's going to work on the audio guide so it'll be ready for next year's newcomers ("Here we are at the house Marjorie lived in during her high school years in Longview, TX"). That's right, folks: next year. We'll be there, will you?

A sprinkling of our photos:

PS: By request only, I have a picture of Yam Queen eyeing Marjorie during the livestock auction. It's a classic!!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quick political hits

Maggie updates:
NM political updates from around the web include:

  • Patricia Madrid is officially not running for House 01 again, meaning the race is likely firm with Martin Heinrich, Jon Adams, and Michelle Lujan Grisham vying for the Democratic opportunity to take on BernCo sherriff Darren White. Emily's List is backing Lujan Grisham's candidacy, which could throw big money and national support her way. Me? I remain a Martin girl.
  • Speaking of Martins, the other one in town is getting organized. The Marty for Senate campaign team is official, and as Democracy for New Mexico notes, it's not very ABQ-oriented. Wonder why?
  • The Draft Tom Udall effort continues, as Diane Denish seems content with running for governor... have you signed the Draft Udall petition yet? Or do you really want to have to choose between Marty and a Republican as your next Senator?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Binge & Purge: The Secret Life of a Public Planner

Mikaela says:
You're up one minute; down the next.

Flooded with possibilities; paralyzed by the weight of collective fear; ringing with collective anger directed your way.

Your perspective zooms out to the long view, the regional plan, the big picture; you shrink down to the pettiness or short-sightedness or lack of political will or ignorance or impossibility to pull off the million tiny steps you'd have to take to get from here to there.

It's a soap opera with consequences we all have to live with. Quite literally.

This week, I am despondent in the face of stunning (if foreseeable) defeats.

Stripped of detail, it all seems to come down to the same questions:

  • What is the role of government?
  • What's the balance between laws & restrictions to protect the public interest and allowing the freedom for market interest to create the community vitality on which we all depend (because no matter what anyone says, the public interest will NEVER be able to provide it all)?
  • How do you use public projects to SPUR, not replace, private projects?
  • How can you create change to improve what's here and not freak everyone out or unthinkingly discard history or ruin what works pretty well?
  • What's the right chord to strike between putting in place controls over someone else's property to protect your own private property rights?
Try to answer the questions for yourself with the following scenarios:
  1. a neighborhood historic design overlay zone that would tell neighbors what they can/can't do with historic homes for the good of the historic district (on which part of their property values depend);
  2. a commercial design overlay zone that would tell businesses how to make the sidewalk safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and
  3. creating zoning in a rural county to protect homeowners from having a oil drilling rig put up at the fenceline between properties.
Then throw in opposition on any possible side you can imagine. Remember that people get just as frustrated with what's NOT changing as they do with what MIGHT change in the face of their belief that everything's just hunky-dory.

As a planner, you work toward solutions that everyone can live with, as well as pushing for those things that no one else is thinking about, but that you see lurking on the horizon like a pinprick hiding the rushing of an oncoming train.

And more often than not, no one's really happy with the resulting plan, because it either doesn't do enough, tries to do too much, or simply is too big to understand.

Then the guy advocating the planning effort leaves office, and it's as if you and your planning effort never blew through town.

And life goes on. The rich get richer. The poor get cancer and asthma and a cement factory across the street from their community center, which has no sidewalks, yet all the kids walk there after school because lord knows, there's nothing else for them to do, and mom and dad don't get home until after 7 because they work 2 jobs each to pay the bills that get funneled to new parks in the Heights because they're the ones screaming the loudest.


My boss actually read an article on how happy people get more annoyed at the little things that go wrong in their lives, whereas people who've routinely faced hardship just come to expect it and don't bitch all that much after a while. She thinks this explains the difference between the rich, white communities we work with who scream to get design regulations for the facade of their local Pottery Barn versus the poor, minority communities we work with who are happy if you can just stop polluting their wells, build a little more affordable housing, help create jobs, and try not to price them out of their own homes. Viva la difference!

It's exhausting and often demoralizing, and I can't imagine doing anything else. How sad is that?

The absolute worst part of it is never having the right answer. There is no right answer. There are just endless perspectives to consider and consequences of each action, intended or no, to everything you try or can't seem to change.

In the end, I think the process of planning, the conversations you have at meetings or with clients or with other professionals, is the real value of "planning." The plans mean very little when it comes right down to it. It's the ideas you consider, create, discard. It's the perspectives directly opposed to your own that confront you in the guise of your neighbor, or the local developer, or the person paying your bills. Calling attention to the issues people have is almost more than half the battle. The rest is noise and fury, signifying ... my daily life, I guess.

It could be worse.

How's that, Marjorie? Still want more???

m-pyre turns 3: marjorie looks ahead

marjorie says...

Big kudos to Maggie for our new look as we begin our fourth m-pyre year. She spent a lot of time pulling it together, while Mikaela and I offered input from the sidelines. Along with the cosmetic changes, we’ve decided that in the future m-pyre should reflect that we really are pretty well-rounded individuals, not just political nerds. I have to admit, I’m afraid that despite Maggie’s kind words about me this is going to show just how one-dimensional I can actually be. But I’m willing to let me be me. :-) After all, it does mean more exposure to the fullness and the coolness of my two blogging friends. In the future, expect to see a range of topics, from nonsense to daily living to…as ever…our serious nerd selves.

As our range expands, I hope there will be a series of blogs that get across an inkling of how amazing it is to watch in motion the Maggie fusion of smiles, fabulous clothes, and killer smarts. She strikes a great balance between enjoyment of life and serious engagement with her world. If I were to give Maggie an assignment for the next blogs she would write, here’s what comes to mind:

  • A photo essay of a Maggie shopping spree through Dallas. But she should wait for me…I want to tag along.
  • The Dallas landscape. As much as I lament that Maggie and I no longer live in the same city, I am very excited to see Dallas through her eyes. Tell us what you see Maggie.
  • A look at “Big-Texas.” You know, everyone likes to talk about how big the hair is in Texas. Well, in fact, it isn’t the hair…it’s the head. How prevalent is this phenomena, Maggie? Mess with Texas, please.
  • Texas football. How do the crazy Texans stack up to the crazy baseball fans?
  • To watch Maggie make soup out of two ingredients is pretty impressive, and no one should ever turn down an invitation to have a bowl. It’s always fabulous. But…does this mean that Maggie can make a mean Texas chili? I admit it: this is a burning question for me.

Ok, so obviously, I’m quite interested to hear Maggie’s take on Texas while living in Dallas. It should be entertaining. But beyond this, we will all count our lucky stars if Maggie writes more from that deeper, thoughtful side that is so compelling. I’m always amazed at the warmth that infuses her commentary about the most serious and, at times, painful things. This is what makes her a great writer. I’m so glad she is re-energized for the future here in our little neck of the internet woods.

Something tells me I’ll be pining for a long time to come for regular Mikaela commentary about local planning processes. Don’t let her silence on m-pyre in this area fool you. She’s right in the thick of it. One day I hope she makes her observations about the intersection of culture and place into a book. Until then, if we’re lucky maybe we’ll get more blogging from the broad spectrum of Mikaela’s life. Mikaela is a true community activist, someone who gives back to the programs and institutions that have given to her, and who works tirelessly behind the scenes for projects she feels strongly about. I’m her introverted housemate who simply watches the whirlwind move in and out of the house in amazement. Anyone who gets Mikaela on board their project is a lucky one indeed. I would love to hear more about the areas she’s so committed to: what makes them special, why they’re so important to our community, and why they resonate so strongly with her. And, while she tirelessly promotes other poets, Mjae is a great poet in her own right. I hope she’ll share more of her original poetry here on m-pyre. Beyond poetry and activism, I’d also like to hear her perspectives on how faith grows and intersects with secular life, not to mention quantum physics. Regarding God (or not), faith, the cosmos…Mikaela is endlessly deep and she comes from a very fresh place. As someone who grew up in an environment with a highly articulated conception of God, I find myself quite curious about her exploration of these areas. Maybe with a little coaxing she’ll write about them. Finally, I just want to say… you haven’t seen coolness until you witness her handle something like “the volcano.” If you were there you know exactly what I mean. I’m so glad we’re housemates, blog-mates, sappy movie-mates (Eric gets the life-mate designation now so my honorary spot as date to the corporate holiday party is over).

As for myself, I’ll try to keep up with my two friends on m-pyre from my increasingly pleasant perch here in Albuquerque. I’ve got a touch of the vagabond in me, but this place may just not let go. I look forward to another m-pyre year. Be sure to say hello (or tell me I’m wrong) anytime. I love to chat.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bigger than hot or not

Maggie grumbles:

Exhibit 325,678,932: Sexism sells.

Wish I could link to Republican outrage over this one, but shockingly, there isn't any. I'm sure Ann Coulter just thinks progressive women are pissed that they're not part of the hot group like she supposedly is. Rather than start up that debate, can't we all just agree this is ridiculously inappropriate, no matter how the parties are labeled? It's terrible.

Monday, October 22, 2007

If Walker ,Texas Ranger says so...

Maggie smirks:
It was with amusement that I clicked on the headline to see who Chuck Norris endorses for president. But I was even more amused to find out why:

"Like our Founding Fathers, [Mike Huckabee]'s not afraid to stand up for a Creator and against secularist beliefs.”

Who's going to break it to Walker, Texas Ranger that the Founding Father's were actually quite secularist?


Maggie cheers:
The Sox are going to the World Series!!!! What a weekend, and what a series! I have nothing but absolute respect for the Indians, who are a fantastic team and challenged the Sox in every way possible. But oh MAN am I pumped about this win! So deserved, and so amazing for Red Sox Nation!!!!

Saturday night I "watched" the game via text message updates during the Yamboree, right on the town square in Gilmer, and last night I cheered over a dinner of seared tuna from my living room couch. Turns out eating funnel cakes while casually getting homerun updates on my phone is much less nerve-wracking than tuna with the game right in front of me. ;-)

The World Series starts Wednesday, folks, and the Rockies are an incredible story this year. Get ready for some great baseball!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Note to zoning critics

Maggie complains:
Here's what happens when cities think they can do without zoning. All's well at upper-crust dinner parties in Houston, and the old-timer with the "God Hates Zoning" sign in the yard plugs along just fine, but for low-income families living in the neighborhood directly across from the petrochemical plant? Leukemia.

The affordable Manchester neighborhood is 90% Hispanic and located near the Houston ship channel. Kids there are 56% more likely to develop leukemia than kids in the rest of the city. Folks are wondering if the industries on the channel should be required to lower their toxin emissions. Duh.

But here's another thought: in addition to mandating that good-'ol-boy industries stop poisoning local children, perhaps Houston can finally get its act together and properly plan its city. Because maybe, just maybe, homes and petrochemical plants shouldn't be right on top of each other. Or, you know, maybe the city can just let the market keep taking care of it for them. Right.

We all know the prevalence of environmental racism even in places with zoning. We see it everywhere. But standing by while your poorest citizens are relegated to areas without even basic protection from cancer-causing activities? The market knows best, it'll all work out in the end? Just unconscionable.

PS to Marjorie and SWOP: Didn't you guys visit this neighborhood during the caravan?

Bioneers Conference - Santa Fe This Weekend

Mikaela says:
I'm a huge fan of the global-working, yet N.M.-based group, Bioneers.

This is an organization that combines science, environmental sustainability, and social equity to bring truly innovative and important stories to radio. We hear it in Albuquerque on KUNM Wednesday mornings.

I have no idea how this group gets funded, how big it really is (staff page looks substantial, but not all are here in NM), or how sustainable as an organization it can possibly be. I do know it used to run out of somewhere near Lamy, NM. Duke City Fix founder Chantal Foster is now their web person, I think...

Here's from the website on the founders (also founders of Seeds of Change, which I'm also really excited about and support by buying its spaghetti sauce and frozen foods that also happen to be really tasty):

Kenny Ausubel founded Bioneers and its parent not-for-profit organization Collective Heritage Institute in 1990, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, shortly after he co-founded Seeds of Change, Inc., an organic seed company offering "backyard biodiversity" to gardeners. Since that time he has jointly produced Bioneers with his partner and wife Nina Simons, former President of Seeds of Change. The gathering moved to larger facilities in California's Bay Area in 1993, where it has grown and flourished. Bioneers presently takes place at the Marin Center in San Rafael, California each October.

Last year, four women I know also heard the feminist hip-hop poet Rha Goddess perform on the Bioneers radio show, and a few months later, we brought her to town to perform and do a school workshop during Women's Creativity Month at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

While the group is a little hippy-white folks-centric, they do try to balance their focus with stories affecting low-income and minority groups, and they remain vigilant about not just environmental justice, equity, and sustainability, but also social and gender issues.

All told, it's an admirable and important progressive voice, and NM is lucky to have it.

That said, the New Mexico version of the Bioneers Conference is taking place this weekend in Santa Fe. As far as I can tell, even when the radio program has lapsed (because of funding, I'm guessing), the conference has remained rock-solid. The main conference is usually held in California, so it's great that they've continued to have a NM offshoot.

This year's conference looks amazing, with discussions on:
  • Incorporating water harvesting into development (esp. parking lots)
  • Economic & Human Realities of Immigration
  • Cultivating a conservation economy & "bio-regional strategic planning"
  • Cultivating a market & sustainable education for women's handcrafts
  • Holding Los Alamos accountable for toxic waste
  • Using art to build community
  • Giving input on Santa Fe's City Sustainable Plan
  • Protecting water as a sustainable resource
  • Preserving social capital through partnerships between local organizations and local businesses
  • Using nonviolent communication
  • Cultivating a local food-shed in order to produce and eat on a carbon-neutral scale
How cool is that?

Unfortunately, I'm babysitting my nieces all weekend, but if anyone goes and can report back, that would be awesome.

I've gotta put this on my calendar next year for sure!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Three Cheers! Maggie Looks Ahead

Maggie says:
Turning three feels significant to me, because it's our number. The three Ms have now spent three years online collaborating and commiserating, and although our third year proved bumpier (for me, stops and starts and life changes and months of writer's block), I can honestly say I'm more excited about what's to come than I've been in ages. I love the energy involved with embracing change and moving forward, and I love knowing I can depend on Marjorie and Mikaela to keep me enthralled and amused and provoked for years to come. That's the kind of commitment that soothes me, especially now that I'm in Dallas and farther away from the Ms than I've been since I met them. (Not that distance will stop us, mind you - the three of us just went running down a West Mesa volcano in a hailstorm together, in heels, all for love!) For me, a continued commitment to m-pyre will mean writing more fully about the stuff that makes up my life - it's part sideline politics, sure, but it's also planning, books, movies, strange adventures, gender, place, the revolutions and implications embodied in food and cooking, and more than a few guilty pleasures. I'm looking forward to having a fuller existence on m-pyre than I've had before, and I know embracing wholeness will help me write more often, which really does wonders for my mood and daily sanity. It'll also be fun to start exploring my new town through words, and to write more about planning issues, which I have a newfound freedom to do in a way that really excites me.

As for my comrades...

Mikaela has had such an important year full of change, and I'm really looking forward to the ways she'll share her new experiences and perspectives on the blog and weave those into her analysis. I love her thoughtful pieces on community in all its forms: poetry, arts, religion, neighborhoods, culture, and identity. Mikaela is all over the map with her connections in Albuquerque, and her ability to tie them all together and find the common link is truly amazing. We're lucky to get a chance to sit in on that process. I also think Mikaela's perspective on civil liberties will be especially interesting as our global discussion about torture, terrorism, and vigilance intensifies. Her gut-checks will be a compelling, and increasingly necessary, point of reference for all of us. I'm also giddily anticipating lots of Non-Serious Mikaela on the blog... I want bad movies and embarrassing tv and small anecdotal moments and random musings! I want the stream of consciousness that she pours out in the dozens of journals that are always within her reach. I want that wry sense of humor and the moments I have reading her when I picture her "Mikaela face." This woman is tough (the Mikaela face can be scary!), but she's also the one who had me read Harry Potter aloud as we were cooking in her kitchen one night. Her spectrum is constantly inspiring to me, and I'm always anxious for more.

Marjorie is a woman of endless depth and experience to everyone she encounters, and being her friend and reader is as much about seeking out further understanding as it is about enjoying a major fit of giggles. I don't think Marjorie realizes how much I'm going to be depending on her for on-the-ground political insight now that I'm out of state. She is so in the mix of the crucial debates happening in New Mexico regarding equity and civil rights and representation and how those broad concerns play out in the very real world of CABQ/BernCo subsidies, APS politics, and more. And as insane as the NM political season is going to be, I'm thrilled to have her on the ground to keep me updated with what I'm missing. Serious in-the-know Marjorie is only part of the equation, though. Marjorie is so much fun. Being away from her has meant less tofu, less quilt talk, and less quirky confessionals... so I want some of those on the blog, too. The fact that her range spans from vampire novels to "junking" to labor to globalization continually astounds me, and her bravery and cool demeanor is endlessly impressive. We're so lucky to have front seats to the Marjorie show. And by the way, Marjorie is also a hell of a photographer, and I think we need to start demanding more photos online, don't you?

I think it's clear we're all huge fans of each other, and especially now that I've left Albuquerque, I'm so grateful to still have a place where I can lavish these two with affection - in public, no less! My endless thanks goes out to them for being patient through my temporary can't-write-anymore freakout, and then for being here with open arms when I was ready to come back. That's what friends are for, and I'm so lucky to have them.

So as their biggest fan, I say, write up, girls! It's going to be a fantastic year.

PS: The image used here was taken during M3's last meandering trip through Santa Fe. I'm still working on re-discovering the gallery and the artist to credit them, but the sculpture can be yours on Canyon Road for thousands of dollars if you're so inclined!

Protecting the (Theoretical) Freedom of the Press

Mikaela says:
Three cheers for the House of Representatives, who voted with a veto-proof majority (which they very-much need, as Emperor Bush is hopping on his veto pen like a pogo stick to get their attention) to pass the Shield Law, offering protection to journalists against government efforts to force them to reveal their anonymous sources.

Republican Michael Pence of Indiana, one of the bill's sponsors and a former talk-radio host, says charmingly:

"What's a conservative like me doing passing legislation that would help reporters? As a conservative who believes in limited government, I believe the only check on government in real time is the freedom of the press."

Quite nice, Mike, although I'd like to underscore that the most POWERFUL check on government is in fact -- the other branches of government. But I digress...

This is a huge hole in our free country that's knit nicely by this legislation. We've seen in the last few years how important it is that whistleblowers have protected access to journalists, and the only way to sustain that trust over time is to protect journalists from fear of government reprisals when they try to protect their sources.

Realizing this cuts both ways -- Judith got to protect Scooter Libby, Matt Cooper got to protect Karl Rove, and Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein famously got to protect Deep Throat during Watergate -- the law is meant to protect the least of us, to err on the side of free information, to reinforce our constitution and the checks and balances that make it work.

This works a lot better if the Executive Branch can't throw reporters in jail when they won't reveal their sources just because they're 1) doing their job, 2) revealing important TRUTHS about what's going on, and 3) helping America be the best, fairest country it can be (my upside-down flag is really flying here, can you see it?).

Now if only a "free press" were to actually emerge, that would be great. Or if our current paid-for press would step up and do the reporting and find the bureaucrats who you know are about ready to pee in their pants they've been holding it for so long, I'd vote for that, too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to Us - Introducing our New Look!

Everyone needs a makeover from time to time, and a birthday is the perfect opportunity to freshen up. So for our big third blogging birthday, m-pyre is prettier, crisper, more personalized, and better organized than ever before!

Here's what's new:

  • How "us"! A photo collage on our front page implies we're sculptural beauties who read, drink wine and coffee, smell flowers, cook, lounge on quilts, and protest. That's pretty accurate, right?!
  • New "branding," as Karlos puts it... A tagline created after hours of e-mail and IM debate. "Paradox or perplexity? Fire or flames? No burning alive imagery!" The big debate: "Serious or fun?" And over on our sidebar, three women who don't sew have created an homage to front-porch knitting, because, well... why not? It's our blog, after all.
  • Better organization. Our old links sidebar wasn't aging very gracefully, so we thought we'd take the less-is-more approach and show only ten links for each of us. Choosing our ten (which we plan on changing frequently to keep them current) was a bigger challenge for some of us than others. ("But I have 25 listed!" "I'm having a hard time even getting to 10!" "But I have Alterdestiny too!") We managed to hit the requisite number with sites we enjoy that aren't straight news, because all of us (and you, too) spend the first part of our days there anyway. The m-pyre links are more mid-afternoon than CNN and the NY Times. Keep an eye on the sidebar for freshness.

Here's what to expect:
  • Renewed commitment. Commitment is the big theme this year, and working on the blog for the new look enabled us to think hard about what we want it to be and what we can commit to in the long-term. We've all had sabbaticals from writing and I'm sure we still will, but going into our fourth year we really do love the blog more than ever, and that's a good thing.
  • More fun! Now that m-pyrical is resting for all eternity, we've committed to bringing some of the fun that went on over there back to our original blog. This should inspire more posts about un-serious topics, because we can't keep a straight face all the time. (Sidenote: Renaming m-pyre "Hybrid Taxicab Confessions" was only a fleeting fancy.)
  • Regular series. One of the great things about m-pyrical was that it gave us a place to do book reviews and movie reviews, and that's something we want to do on m-pyre, too. Those are just two of the regular series we'll be doing here, so stay tuned for new features that will have us all chiming in.

Finally.... THANK YOU! It's hard to believe we've been writing here for three years, and the folks who chime in have truly been the best part about that. Although we started the blog primarily to talk to each other, it's been such a treat to have interesting dialogue with all of you, too. Please keep it up! We love hearing from you.

Thanks so much for our first three years, everyone - here's to the next three!


Even MORE yummy NM politics

Maggie says:
It's really exciting for national political chatter to focus on NM for a change. Talk is everywhere about Pearce and about the Democratic players today. A Draft Udall website urges the Northern NM rep to get in the race while the gettin's good. Still no word from Denish, whose hold on the Governor's race gets better the longer everyone else decides to run for office elsewhere. Big Bill's still out, and getting annoyed that folks keep asking him to jump in. Lately I think he's better off in the cabinet anyway... I don't think the Senate holds enough, uh, spotlight for the esteemed governor. Chatter about NM 01 is heating up, too, where Martin Heinrich may have more company in the primary than he'd bargained for, and in a big way. That's going to bring up even more Democratic soul-searching if it comes down to supporting the early front-runner or a showy late entry... yikes. It's the "Anyone But Marty" election cycle in my view, with Senate, House, and Governor's races chock full of intrigue and folks around the country tuning in.

Who in? Who's out? Who should be? Who shouldn't be?

Such a soap opera... I love it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More yummy NM politics

Maggie says:
I can't believe the Journal might have actually broken some news, but I've gotta admit I didn't see it anywhere else first, and you know I spend all day digging around weird sites, so here it is:

Steve Pearce is challenging Heather Wilson in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate!

This is fantastic news. Let them tear each other apart. And hey... this way at least one of them will be out of a job!

Stars and bars and stomach pains

Maggie says:
It's been difficult for me to maintain much excitement or optimism regarding the Democratic nomination process, but I found a sidenote from the Barack Obama campaign last week to be particularly compelling, both for its substance and for what it represented.

Asked why he doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin, Obama replied:

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest. Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great. Hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism... I haven't worn that pin in probably a very long time. I wore it right after 9/11. But after a while, you start noticing people wearing the lapel pin but not acting very patriotic. My attitude is that I'm less concerned with what you're wearing on you lapel than what's in your heart. You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those ones who serve."

I was blown away by the downright no-bullshit honesty of that statement, no small matter in this election. And of course, the right had a field day with overheated claims that Obama is godless and un-American because of his bare lapel. And of course they would. Their reaction was no surprise, but what did surprise me was the split-in-half reaction of much of the public, as seen on CNN's online poll that day, where only half agreed with his decision about the pin. CNN's online polls usually run more left than that, so that grabbed my attention right away.

I wonder how generational this split might be. I think it's extremely difficult for many older Americans to understand how warped the flag has become to the rest of us. We feel that it's a symbol the right has taken and subverted for its own political agenda, and many of us are truly sad about that. I used to think nothing of displaying an American flag, but there's no question I wouldn't be comfortable doing that today. That's not because I consider myself "un-American," but because I feel that the meaning of the flag has been twisted to represent things I'm not comfortable with. It's been taken over by people I disagree with on every level. The fault of this cooptation lies, of course, with a president who spent years claiming patriotism with every political move and a party so intent on breathing red, white, and blue fire they started ordering "Freedom Fries" rather than asking for something French.

Of course, the representative who led the Freedom Fry crusade later disowned it and came out against the war, acknowledging that potato rhetoric was pure hyperbole in the face of life and death on the ground in Iraq. It's exactly like the flag. We laugh when satirical right-wing hosts drape their sets with the Stars & Bars, because we immediately recognize it as Republican window-dressing. Colbert's point is made without having to say a thing, and that's only a small part of what's been lost with this administration.

I mourn the flag and the nonpartisan way I used to look at it; I do. I always viewed it with critique about the U.S., absolutely, but always with the knowledge that it still belonged to me, too. Now, I look at the flag and feel shame, sadness, and outrage at the right-wing politics that took it over for their own.

Bill Maher, ever the pain-in-the-ass hysterical genius, summed this all up perfectly for me today in his latest missive of "New Rules." In "American Flag Pins are for Idiots," Maher ties together the emptiness of the magnetic bumper sticker set ("Because stickers are tough to get off, and we may change our mind about never forgetting") and the "fake outrage hard-ons" of the men they vote for, the very ones who led the "patriotic" charge against Obama last week.

Bravo, Barack. Truly, and with thanks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Changes a'comin'...

Maggie says:
We're trying our best to roll out the m-pyre re-design for our shiny third birthday, which just happens to coincide with the upcoming East Texas Yamboree. Since Marjorie and I will be busy causing trouble in front of the Yam Cam all weekend, we're trying to finish up the "new" blog before Friday. Stay tuned!

You've been waiting for it ... it's Yam Time!

Mikaela says:
That's right, 2/3 of m-pyre will be "yamming it up" in East Texas for the annual Yam Festival this weekend.

More from our fearless bloggers on the ground in the coming days...

You can start getting yourself in the mood by visiting the Yam Cam, East Texas' own version of the Jenny Cam to fill up on your voyeuristic pleasures and experience the magic second-hand.

Get your Yam Fest Virtual Reality here:

I know that's where my browser will point for the next few days!

Hit East Texas hard, ladies!

Government Spying to Subvert the Law

Mikaela reposts from Democracy Now:

Vermont Law Firm Says Federal Gov't Has Tapped Its Phones
The Vermont law firm of Gensburg, Atwell & Broderick has warned its clients that it believes the federal government has tapped its phones and hacked into its computer system. The Burlington Free Press reports a Verizon technician recently found the law firm's phone lines were crossed. A forensic examination of one of the firm's computers found an application that disabled all security software and would have given someone access to all information on the computer. The firm represents a client in Afghanistan as well as one of the prisoners held at Guantanamo.

At this point, new like this should not take my breath away, yet this one did. Simply unconscionable.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

American Quilt

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Many of you know my fascination with vintage American quilts. Perhaps I'll write a blog a little later about them, but for now I thought I'd just show you a recent one I acquired from a person who said it came from "an old black lady's estate sale" in Florida.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bring on the baseball!

Maggie says:
Wrapping up the workweek here and getting ready for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series tonight, I am...

  • Calm
  • Excited
  • Not full of dread
I think this is the difference in Sox fans now compared with the '04 playoffs. Winning a World Series let us get all of that cursed legacy out of the way and just be fans again. We still hate the Yankees, but maybe we won't half-expect them to kick our ass all the time anymore. I think the Indians are a great team, in a great old-school baseball town, who had a great season. They deserve a win, too. It's not going to kill me if this doesn't work out. Really.

I want a weekend full of great games, and I want the best team to win.

How's that for a healthy baseball attitude? (So much easier to have that outside of Boston, I know!)

Oh, and to Gene: You just might get your Sox-Rockies wish in Denver after all! Better start revving up the Volvo... :-)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Marty Chavez and his "Miscommunication"

marjorie says...

I've really enjoyed reading Joe Monahan's blog over the past couple of weeks...he's got a great sportscaster style, and on occasion there are some great original quotes thrown in. For instance, take the bit about Marty Chavez and his potential "problem" with the progressive block of the Democratic party (you know..."us") from yesterday:

"Chavez did not offer any specifics to me Tuesday night on how he plans to win over the progressive wing, He said there has been a lot of "miscommunication."

In his blog, Joe cites a SurveryUSA poll showing potential percentages in various match-ups for the Senate seat, to demonstrate Marty's "problem." But that's a little misleading actually because to be fair you'd have to point out that others also have this problem. Look at the far right column to see how the "liberal" respondents say they will vote in the various hypothetical races. According to this poll, Marty Chavez isn't the only one with a problem, both Patricia Madrid and Don Wiviott have one as well (the two who are well in the clear with the progressives, of course, are Tom Udall and Bill Richardson).

In light of this poll, it deserves to be said that, as a progressive who does have a "problem" with Marty Chavez...

I would never, ever vote for Heather Wilson or Steve Pearce, or any of the Republicans for that matter. As I've stated on this blog before, there's a much bigger picture to consider and it will (probably) be a cold day in hell before I vote for anyone representing the current Republican party.

Regarding Marty Chavez and his "miscommunication" ...

Bulldozing that road through the Petroglyph National Monument was not miscommunication. It was a calculated decision to support the big plans of big land developers. He isn't a progressive, first, and he compounds this by acting like a pit bull with a bad temper when he meets disagreement. When it comes to his current plans I don't think Marty wants or plans to pursue real rapprochement with any of us. He's going to slice, dice, and count his numbers. Would I vote for him? As in...let him take my vote for granted? What do you think? I can tell you this...the primary is where its at in my book. So I hope all you progressives go join up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Media gripe: Analyzing, not reporting

Maggie says:
I have endless gripes about the media, but my gripes about the media during campaign season are very specific. Here's my overarching pet peeve: media coverage of debates is all about who bested whom, and not about what anyone actually says, just like media coverage of campaigns is all about strategy and performance rather than about issues.

This morning on NPR, I heard all about the Giuliani-Romney spar during last night's Republican debate regarding who is the more fiscally conservative candidate. To recap, Giuliani said that while he was the mayor of New York he lowered taxes, whereas Romney raised taxes in Massachusetts. Romney immediately stepped in asking if he could rebut, and insisted that Giuliani needed to check his facts, because he actually lowered taxes while governor.

Now I couldn't be less interested in voting for either of these two candidates, but if I were a Republican listening to NPR's morning-after coverage, I might want to know who was right and who was wrong. Instead, I only heard the made-for-TV (errr... radio) moment of Romney interrupting Giuliani and some pondering about how Fred Thompson wasn't the lead news angle that morning despite the fact that it was his first debate as a candidate.

So as a hypothetical Republican voter, I've not heard one thing that might help me decide who to vote for. Again. One might think news organizations would do a quick fact-check so that their immediate follow-up could be the real story behind both Giuliani and Romney's claims. But no. It's all strategy and performance, all the time.

We see this non-stop with Democratic coverage as well. The past two weeks have been full of news stories about how Hillary Clinton is increasingly being described - by other news organizations - as the Democratic front-runner. Let's take a moment with that one: media coverage about the Democratic race is largely about how one candidate is being covered as the front-runner. It's emptiness feeding emptiness, and the machine that produces hype perpetuating itself. This is how elections are won and lost, and it's absolutely sad.

Here's what I want:

1. During "debates," a term I use very loosely, I'd like an immediate fact-checker there with a computer to tell us when someone's bullshitting. I want someone to immediately squash spin with statistics and then make candidates accountable for their claims on the air. This shouldn't be difficult - cable sports shows do this kind of on-air fact-checking all the time. Why can't we quality-control presidential debates as seriously as we do sports debates?

2. I don't want any more coverage of disagreements between candidates about their records without some follow-up reporting on the issue they're disagreeing about. If the issue is important enough for candidates to bring up during a "debate," it's important enough to get that issue right for the voters. For example: NPR should play the Romney-Giuliani clip, then immediately follow up with: "Now here's what their records actually are..." The resulting headline, then, becomes the fact that one of the candidates was misrepresenting his record, not that he was interrupted on-air.

3. I want better issues coverage. I'm tired of endless pondering over who's ahead, who's behind, why someone's doing something, and what that implies. Occasional, thoughtful think-pieces on strategy would be great, as long as they're a strategy check-in from the everyday, routine coverage of candidates' platforms and records and actions on the campaign trail. I appreciate the important role of analysis in journalism, trust me. But I don't appreciate the fact that day after day we're served entrees of analysis made mostly from speculation and only a tiny side of real news.

Overly simplistic, I know. But hey, we operate in a day when I also use quotes to describe the "White House Press Corps." How far we've fallen.

By the way, the NY Times deserves kudos today for digging into the Romney-Giuliani spar, as reporters should. Of course, this happened on their political blog The Caucus and not in their actual newspaper, where the mainstream reporters are paid to write. And yes, that's part of the problem as well. Fact-checking and truth-seeking are now activities best left to bloggers, while the "real" political reporting is the territory of well-known journalists and their insider, political consultant sources.

According to The Caucus, both Giuliani and Romney were mistaken last night. The Times blog gives us the facts and tells us why each was overhyping their record.

Maybe the answer is that these "debates" need to be run by bloggers. Hmmm....

Introducing Switters

Maggie says:
The newest addition to my family let me know this morning that he was very offended he hadn't made it onto the blog yet. Therefore, I'd like to introduce Switters, a kitten packed full of mischievous contradictions. He's appropriately named for a certain rogue CIA operative who throws himself into love and peril with the same gusto he reserves for white suits, Amazonian quests, and walking on stilts. Dazzled by his charm, sense of play, and, again... general roguishness, we eagerly await Switters' next shenanigan.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More NM Senate numbers than you're ready for

Maggie says:
Even in my current pre-coffee state, this is still cool enough to get excited about. Check it out:

SurveyUSA Election Poll #12737: 10 Possible Head-to-Head U.S. Senate Pairings Tested for Domenici NM Seat

I love surveys that disregard who's officially in and out and just match them all up. Nothing's final until Richardson bows out of his presidential bid, anyway. So what are the chances of the seat remaining Republican? Here we go!

  • Horrid Heather Wilson loses to Tom Udall by 18 points and Bill Richardson by 27 points. She beats Marty by 4 points, and ties Patricia Madrid in a rematch.
  • Steven Pearce loses to Udall by 18 points and Richardson by 24 points. Udall beats Marty by 21 points and Madrid by 16 points.

So in other words, Udall or Richardson need to get in this race, fast. I wonder if numbers like these might make Udall reconsider? And if not, what would it take to convince Richardson? Iowa and New Hampshire? And finally, somewhat good news to those of us shuddering at the thought of progressives having to face voting for Marty Chavez. Another Dem's going to be compelled to announce, and soon.

What do you all think?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Wait...WHO's Running for Senate??

marjorie says...

What is just about every single progressive Democrat, or simply, "Progressive", in Albuquerque, and I'm sure elsewhere around New Mexico as well, thinking to themselves today??

Let me just say it...in case you all were wondering...and I really do think I can speak for many, many...I mean MANY...

Ok, here goes...


Am I really going to have to vote for ... (I CAN'T SAY IT!!)

Mayor Marty?

Folks, this could be painful. But you know what I think.

Democratic nomination check-in

Maggie says:
The Nation has a nice check-in online regarding some of the differences and similarities of the Democratic candidates, not to mention the uneasiness all of it brings about. Shockingly, this endless slog of debates and hype and spin doesn't actually illuminate very much for those of us who really care about the issues. So for now, I'll just keep sitting here with the strange irony that in a race where the top three candidates are a white woman, a black man, and a white man, what matters most to me is better represented by the white man than by the other two.

The Nation: How Different Are the Top Three Dems?

How long 'till primary season is over?

Cheers, jeers, & people-watching

Maggie says:
After a veritable entertainment bonanza of a weekend, my office feels suspiciously quiet this morning. Here's the run-down:

Friday Night: Bugs and Blasts

Conveniently, there is a sports bar located on the street level of my office building, and with Game 2 of the Yankees-Indians series starting at 4 pm our time and Game 2 of the Sox-Angels series starting at 7:30, the commute between my desk and the bar was mercifully short. In the meantime, Dallas had been transformed into a sea of burnt orange v. red for the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game, so prioritizing baseball in that context made me a fish out of water here for sure. We met up with a wildly fun Oklahoma-Texas emigree who's spent the last 17 years in Massachusetts developing an affinity for the Red Sox, and was in Dallas for Saturday's big game. Within five minutes of sitting down, this longtime crazy friend of my crazy friend presented me with my very own Red Sox jersey, led very loud Sooners chants throughout the bar, and began a long night of charming/repelling our waitress. It was beautiful. So was the first game: a barrage of bugs invaded Jacobs Field (seriously) and perhaps helped ensure the Indians victory over the Yankees. It definitely helped ensure my night of laughing at the Yankees. The Sox game had started shakily before the Yankees game got a chance to finish, so we were watching both at once (the beauty/danger of the sports bar, I suppose) and I was getting nervous. After extra-innings in the Yankees game, the slow Sox game wasn't helping matters, so after many beers and many chicken wings, we determined that my nerves were better suited to our couch than the loud bar. Actually, we may have decided to take leave of the bar after the tenth half-naked beer rep of the night offered me a Budweiser hat because it "matched my jersey." Rather than pouncing her, we took leave of our grand TX-OK-MA companion so that I could watch the rest of the game in peace, but not before he presented us with tickets to the next day's Texas-Oklahoma game. Uh-oh. Back home in recovery, the night was saved by Manny, who homered (a true monstah) to win the game and give a much-needed happy ending to what amounted to a nerve-wracking baseball marathon. Whew!

Saturday: Football fans are crazy!

Enter Saturday morning, as gray as could be with all the makings of a wet, muddy day. We dutifully suited up in rain-appropriate, color-neutral clothes: jeans, white t-shirts, and windbreakers. No orange or red in this pairing! I had been briefed on the storied Texas-Oklahoma rivalry, but not being a huge college football fan and not having an affiliation with either school (I'm not sure almost going to UT for grad school counts), the day was all about people-watching and tradition for me. Which is to say, it was all about the outfits. There were tiny orange and red dresses with boots, full-on red or orange cowboy outfits, t-shirts of every possible design and rude expression, and as the sky dried up and the sun came out and out and out, two very overdressed, overly neutral spectators. It was HOT. The game is at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas every year, smack in the middle of the Texas State Fair. The place is split into two camps of fans, literally orange v. red, and the visual impact is pretty remarkable. In our white t-shirts, it was like we'd unintentionally stumbled upon some bizarre orange and red race war. I definitely appreciate rivalries, and this one surely ranks among the most heated I've seen. (From someone who's had her share of Sox-Yankees experiences, that's saying a lot.) Our favorite shirt of the day was genius, modeled by a random dude in shorts with dark curly hair. My crush on him grew the minute I tried to find his shirt online and couldn't, which leads me to believe he made it himself. It was royal blue and in white lettering proclaimed: "Very Much Neutral." Neutrality has never felt more subversive.

Saturday night: More cowbell! Please yes more cowbell!

We had tickets to see Rilo Kiley at The Palladium Saturday night, and I can't brag enough about the gumption it took to get home from our day of craziness, peel off our sweat-soaked neutral clothes, nap, and gear up for a show. But we did it, thanks to our love for live music and Red Bull vodkas. This show was outrageously, yummily good. First of all, frontwoman Jenny Lewis is the hottest thing to hold a guitar and mesmerize an audience that I've ever seen. She walked out in this crazy vintage-majorette-uniform-on-acid outfit that highlighted her ghostly white skin, flaming red hair, and tiny, perfect limbs. And girl can rock. Her on-stage nerdy sidekick, whose name I should know but who instead I'll just call the Jason Schwartzman-esque guy who rocks the mandolin, was also fun eye-candy. The crowd was young and full of energy and knew every word to every song, from her bad girl anthem ("...I'm bad news... Baby I'm bad news...") to her ironic ditties ("Any idiot can play Greek for a day... Join a sorority or write a tragedy..."). The best moment of the night came with her new song "Breakin' Up," in which Jenny busted out the cowbell, of all absurdly awesome stage instruments, got her hips going in an exceedingly dangerous manner, and led the audience in a chant of "Oooh, it feels good to be free!" Damn. The best thing about the experience was watching this woman make every single jaded hipster in the house fall in love with her: man, woman, whatever. We all wanted her. Sigh...

Sunday: We're in!

For the first morning in ages, I sleeeeeeeeeeeeeept in, and it was delicious. There was a full weekend to recover from and a full day of baseball to gear up for, and that requires lots of REM-mode. I will cut to the chase here and say that by day's end, the Sox did it - they swept the Angels and are moving on to face the winner of the Yankees' series (just like 2004... hmmmm.....). Glorious. Less glorious is the fact that the Yanks pulled out a win over the Indians last night and viewers were forced to hear the same regurgitation of Yankees lore and legend and bullshit from the announcers, who have been jumping at the chance the whole series to be able to play their Derek Jeter-led celebration of Yankee Stadium and their fans, etc. Get over it. I so hope the Indians kick their ass tonight, because I want them to lose at home in front of those same fans with their arrogance and their bad attitudes. Man I can't stand that team. (I do, however, still love Trot Nixon, who now plays for the Indians but played for the Sox for ages and is from the same part of eastern North Carolina that my family's from, despite his error in the game that is perpetuating my forced Yankees viewing.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Another Admission: I Got Married

Mikaela says:
So October must be admission month. Not only do I admit that I follow the Britney trainwreck, I also guiltily admit I got married.

For a girl not always a fan of marriage as an institution, this took a huge leap of faith. As I tried to explain to those who were surprised at my willingness to join the legions of those I watched from a safe distance, "While I'm nervous to be married, I have no fear about marrying him."

And it's true. I'm happier now than I've ever been in a relationship before. There's something that's incredibly moving about being with someone who has chosen me, who has signed up to stay in the room to talk through every fight -- until the day comes when one or both of us may be better served walking out the open door. A child of divorced parents, I have few illusions about what a bad marriage can do to two people, and I have everything to learn about what a good marriage can give to each other and everyone around us.

There's a whole story about the craziness that we asked everyone to sign up for in order to witness our union -- a day-long treasure hunt for starters, a walk up a volcano in wind, rain, and hail, a two-hour hiatus to get changed and warm and return, and then another non-traditional wedding ceremony in which blessings from the crowd were half the fun.

All-told, though, it was my dream wedding: everyone there showed exactly how much it meant to them to be there to support us, and no one there could harbor any illusions that we were entering any kind of traditional bondage. It was definitely a union of love, for us and for our family and friends.

I don't have good photos (yet), but rest assured that when I do, they'll be up here first.

Here's to happiness wherever we find it, even in marriage!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Playoff Fever!!!!

Maggie says:
Baseball in October can be horrific or amazing, and so far it's pretty damn good. We've got the Sox and the Indians up one game over the Angels and the Yankees in the American League. There was a dramatic run in the National League, and the Rockies are doing surprisingly well, much to the outrage of every Mets fan who's watching the Phillies in their spot instead. I want the Cubs to get it together, because for the life of me I'm never going to be able to view Arizona as a legitimate place for baseball (did the Diamondbacks just switch their team colors and uniforms to increase souvenir sales or what?!). Plus, every Sox fan should root for the Cubs. It's just good karma.

But wait... I glossed over the most important news item:

The Sox are up! The Nation is optimistic! And the Indians are kicking the Yankees' ass for us!

I love October.

PS: Boston.com is the epicenter of Sox coverage.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Local politics everywhere!

Maggie says:
So in addition to the updates about the Senate race that I posted here, how's this for a huge announcement getting lost because of an even bigger announcement?

Eric Griego to challenge James Taylor

So interesting, for so many different reasons... In my view Taylor's been short-shifting the Valley for some time. Eric provides (as always) a much-appreciated breath of fresh air, honesty, progressive values, and humor to any situation. He's a good guy, and I'm glad to see him back in the mix.