Archive | January, 2008

The Hangover’s Perfect Record

31 Jan

With John Edwards dropping out of the race today, The Hangover’s perfect record is intact.  Since turning twenty, I’ve never supported a winning Presidential candidate.  Edwards’ aim was true. Corporations and special interests do have a stranglehold on Washington.  Jerry Brown won six states in the ’92 Primary Season running on a similar platform (and taking no contributions more than $100), and he was up against living legend Bill Clinton.   Edwards delivered his message with passion,  and The Hangover hopes that he does the right thing and gets behind the candidate whose beliefs are closest to his own, Barack Obama.   Political expediency may dictate otherwise–and that’s when The Hangover’s outrage meter will hit the red-line. 

Apparently, the American people are fine with Halliburton, Exxon, GM, Citigroup, Bank of America, etc.., dictating policy for the United States.  Pretty soon, we’ll all be working at Burger King or Wal-Mart anyway.  But at least the earnings-per-share numbers will look good.  Who could ask for more?

The Hangover doesn’t get it.    People refuse to vote in their own economic and political self interest.  Are they spoon fed by the media?  Has sugar rotted their brains as well as their teeth?  Are we secretly being hypnotized by subliminal messages during The Simpsons and Desperate Housewives?  Is there Kool-Aid being passed around that I’m missing out on? 

These questions must be answered.  To do so, The Hangover is going underground.  For the next seven days I will infilitrate one of this country’s most insidious and underhanded large corporations.  I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get word out while undercover.  Short of a complete brainwashing, The Hangover will return on February 7th.  Patti Hearst has yet to hear the worst of Hangover. 

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Wake Me When It’s Over

29 Jan

In his last State of the Union Address, President Bush started to close the door on his time in office.  The speech touched on the main issues of his tenure, summarizing actual and would-be accomplishments.  That he offered no new bold initiatives for his final eleven months is a blessing.  After all he has brought about (No, we are not better off than we were three or seven years ago, to put it in Reaganite terms.), America doesn’t need any more bright ideas from its leader.  All we can ask is that President Bush not further muck things up before he gracefully accepts his place in the annals of history alongside Millard Fillmore and Herbert Hoover.

The Democratic response to the address was given by Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, and it was disturbing.  In an election year in which the Democrats have a chance to gain the Presidency and add to their majority on Capitol Hill, Governor Sebelius spoke with all the zeal and passion of a drug tester at a Valium factory.  To paraphrase:  “We are all Americans. Let’s hold hands.  All will be well.” The Hangover was waiting for the Governor to promise us two S’mores in every pot. 

Governor Sebelius did manage to invoke the term “heartland” three times into her short speech.  Perhaps if she had challenged those nice “folks” in the red-state heartland to examine issues and candidates with critical thought, they might be able to help “chart a new course” for America.  Sitting around the campfire singing “My Country ’tis of Thee” is not going to get it done.    

Sox Tickets Strike Out

27 Jan

With two World Series championships in the last four years, it should be against the law to complain about anything Red Sox in New England.  Clearly expectations have been exceeded to an exponential degree.  So has ticket demand.

Yesterday, single game tickets went on sale for the majority of the 2008 season.  The process is simple enough:  you log on at Redsox.com, either hit a Buy Tickets link and choose a game or click onto the schedule.  From there you advance to Purgatory on Yawkey Way:  The Virtual Waiting Room.  Apparently, millions of other people are trying to do the same thing at the same time.  Should you be lucky enough to be one of those randomly selected to advance from the VWR, you get a shot at tickets.

The Hangover logged on at approximately 10:15 yesterday morning.  When the Hangover retired for the evening at 10:45 (explaining why we’re called the Hangover and not Mr. Excitement) the VWR was still flawlessly preforming its 30-second reloading loop.  It even keeps you updated on the games that are sold out or have few seats left.  If only it would let you past its electronic gate. 

Upon awaking this morning, I found that my steadfast Dell had advanced and I was afforded the opportunity to trade some plastic for tickets.  Being a wise baseball fan, I discerned that going after a lousy team would be the best chance for the family Hangover to see some baseball.  How about a game versus the pathetic Royals on a Wednesday night in May?  Let’s face it, the kids won’t know the difference.  I selected four tickets, clicked on “Best Available,” and advanced past the anti-ticket agency barriers.

What I received was this:  “We’re sorry, we’re unable to process your request due to high transaction volumes.  Please try to submit your request again by hitting the CONTINUE button.”  (It happens to be the exact same message I encountered when purchasing tickets last year.)   

I hammered the CONTINUE harder than the Sox batters bashed the Rockies’ pitchers in game one of last year’s Series.  I had none of their luck, however.  I did try different games.  Eventually, I was graced with the opportunity to purchase four standing room tickets for an Orioles game.  No thanks.  I’ll pass.  The Seadogs are only thirty minutes away.

I won’t be barking at the set this season, telling Francona to take a starter out with two on and none out in the seventh.  He’s proven he knows what he’s doing.  I can’t say the same for those in the business office, who apparently failed to anticipate another year of Red Sox Nation storming cyberspace for tickets. 

“Hey, Larry!  If there’s a $14.5 million-per-year computer geek out there with big market, ‘high transaction volume’ experience, go get him.  Please.”  

Shrunken Heads ease The Hangover

26 Jan

Many of the bands I listened to in my younger days now constitute the unheard music.  They just haven’t made it onto my I-pod.  Presumably, as one grows older and wiser, tastes change.  But when you find an artist who evolves with you, you stick with them.  Ian Hunter’s 2007 disc Shrunken Heads is a just reward for hanging in with the man.   

Ian Hunter fronted Mott the Hoople from 1969 to 1974.  After the demise of that band, he embarked on a solo career.  It’s possible that you’ve never heard of Mott or Hunter.  Neither reached the level of success they should have.  Despite a fat-bottomed backbeat and barroom-friendly power chords, Hunter’s lyrics occasionally required a sliver of thought.   While songs like “Drivin’ Sister” and “Just Another Night” were hedonism, others such as “Momma’s Little Jewel” jumped with societal bite.  Two lines of lyrics and you see the girl:  “Momma’s little jewel just left school/fresh from the nuns that made you.”  You probably even know her. 

 The songs don’t crank on Shrunken Heads. They do reverberate, however.  A young man’s swagger has been replaced by an older man’s wisdom.  That’s not to say they don’t rock.  The backbeat remains, but instead of exuberance there is reflection.  With wiser eyes behind his ever-present shades, Hunter takes a look at the world around him; he also finds a mirror.

He apologizes for himself in “Words (Big Mouth).”  In “Fuss About Nothin’,” “Shrunken Heads” and “How’s Your House” he sees a civilization come askew.  Hunter looks forward by looking back in “When the World was Round” and describes us all in “Brainwashed.”  Alarms go off, however, when a song titled “The Soul of America” appears in the queue.  Here’s the big idea, which usually insures cliché and pretension.  Instead, Hunter explores and exposes; the soul of America isn’t exactly where one would imagine it.

Unfortunately, Hunter does take a cliché-powered tumble-down-the-stairs in “Guiding Light,” which could be an allegory for Jesus or the woman in Hunter’s life.  Whoever it is, the subject is no “Irene Wilde”, the source of some of Hunter’s most detailed and passionate songwriting (from Hunter’s 1976 release All American Alien Boy).   

Shrunken Headshits the jackpot in “I Am What I Hated When I Was Young.”  The narrator scoffs at the piercings, tattoos, and sulking that mark today’s teens and twenty-somethings, and punctuates this by ending the first verse:  “I am what I hated when I was young.”   Naturally, if you’re enjoying your first legal drinks and are at all worthwhile, you have no use for an old crank like Hunter—or myself.  Hunter relishes the virtues of youth.  In a tasty cocktail of irony and black humor, he concludes the song with the lines, “Now I’m older, calmed down some/ I hate what I used to be when I was young.”  

If you’re at an age where you sigh when someone in their forties strikes up a conversation with you, put off Shrunken Heads for a few years.  But do yourself a favor and pick up Mott the Hoople’s Mott or Ian Hunter’s live Welcome to the Club.  Enjoy them.  Shrunken Headswill be waiting for you when you need it. 

Pundits Miss the Point

22 Jan

The pissing contest in Monday night’s Democratic Debate had the talking heads frothing like Homer Simpson and Barney Gumble watching two strippers in a bar fight.  Needless to say, the critical issue of the night—the corrupted nature of our political system—was overlooked.  Late in the debate, John Edwards made a point about how money dominates the agenda in Washington and Hillary Clinton’s politics, in particular.

Here’s the transcript of the critical exchange:

EDWARDS: And I have a question — I have a question that I’m interested in hearing you respond to. You’ve talked a lot about day one. I’ve committed — I don’t know what Barack has said about this — but I’ve committed not to have any corporate lobbyists working in my White House on the first day that I’m president.Will you make the same commitment?

CLINTON: Well, you know, John, I will make the commitment to have people in the White House who are honest and trustworthy and put the interests of the United States first. But I think…(Never mind that these are people who have been working for various industries to promote legislation that favors said industries. They’ll forget all that once they assume the mantle of leadership.  Rumsfeld and Cheney did, didn’t they?  TH)

EDWARDS: Is that a no?

CLINTON: You know what? I don’t know.(Of course, she doesn’t know. Lobbyists have so far contributed over $567, 000 to her campaign.   Would shutting them out of the White House be any way to thank them?  TH) 

(LAUGHTER)  (The Hangover laughed, too.  Given a yes or no question, the woman who wants to lead the real world can’t come up with an answer.)

I don’t know, because I’m not in favor of corporate lobbyists (But she’ll take their money.  TH), but you keep drawing these artificial distinctions. You take money from people who employ lobbyists, who are married to lobbyists, who are the children of lobbyists.  (I’m married to a caterer.  Maybe that means Hillary will let The Hangover cater her victory party.)

And, you know, at some point this gets really hard to take, because if you are someone like I am, who has withstood the full force of corporate lobbyists, starting with the health insurance companies, and the drug companies, (That must be why when her husband put her in charge of restructuring health care in the US after the 1992 election, she was able to provide us with the totally revamped, universal-coverage system we now enjoy.  Oh, that’s right.  My mistake.)  and the oil companies (If not for Hillary, we’d be paying $10.00 a gallon?), and everybody that I’ve taken on for all of these years, you know, I think I’m independent and tough enough to be able to deal with anybody (She’s on target here:  She’s been married to Bill quite a while.  I’m surprised Barack didn’t make that point for her). And that’s what I intend to do.

(APPLAUSE)

(By the way:  Ms. Clinton has taken over 2 million dollars for her campaign from Health Professionals and the Pharmaceutical Industries.) 

The media doesn’t need to point out that the estimated 419 million dollars contributed to Presidential campaigns so far in this election cycle just might just have an impact on post-election politics.  Regular folks don’t need to be bothered with that technical political science stuff.  That’s what those lobbyists are for, anyway.   It’s only right they be rewarded for elevating us to the pinnacle where the US resides today—right at the edge of the cliff. 

Heavyweight Endorsements

19 Jan

One too many metal chairs to the head must have started Ric Flair seeing angels.  He’s endorsing and campaigning with Republican presidential candidate and religious fanatic, Mike Huckabee.  With God and Flair on his side, Huckabee should dominate Southern state primaries, where everyone believes in God and professional wrestling. 

It is crucial that other Republicans counter this critical endorsement.  Is there a more natural fit than Sergeant Slaughter and John McCain?  Both have waged long, bitter foreign wars, McCain against the Vietnamese and Slaughter versus the Iron Sheik.  Fred Thompson and The Undertaker share a comparable size, monotone, simplicity of approach, and lack of charisma.  Mitt Romney, the well-heeled front runner, should immediately court his wrestling equivalent, the inestimable Hulk Hogan, who could then lead mild Mitt through Florida on a “Pythons for Change” campaign.  Ron Paul can get  the Sex Pistols; with those punks behind him, he doesn’t need wrestlers.  And as for Rudy Giuliani, not even Macho Man Randy Savage off the top rope could rally his cause. 

No matter what the media might tell us, Mr. Joe Six-pack doesn’t care who the NRA, UAW, or John Birch Society supports. But when Ric Flair howls, “Wooooooooo,” voters listen. 

The Hangover Strikes: Our Miss Brit

18 Jan

If a reader should doubt the veracity of The Hangover, consider this:  In The Rocket Misfires on January 8th, The Hangover predicted the inevitable comeback of one Britney Spears.  And so it begins.  On a tri-page type cover of the February 2008 Esquire, a 2003 in-her-first-prime Britney is sandwiched between a 1966 Angie Dickinson and that 2008 powerhouse of femininity, the Victoria Secret models.  The “Thank you, God” girls and Britney reprise Ms. Dickinson’s original shot, posing in nothing but fetching white sweaters. 

Britney must have one hell of a marketing and PR team.  As anyone who has done the family grocery shopping this week can tell you, Britney also graces the covers of The National Enquirer, People, and Star.  While the tabloids focus on her various mental health issues and poor parenting skills, Esquire sagely honors her as a cultural icon and one of the magazine’s “Women We Love.”  

It is a testament to Britney and her staff that as she is still sliding toward her “celebrity rock bottom” of despair, the comeback is already underway.  You go, girl.