Economist Pronounces McCain’s Tie “Ghastly”: A Commentary on Presidential Debates

An excerpt from the Lexington column of the Oct. 11, 2008 Economist:

At the first debate in 1960, Nixon was not feeling well.  After hearing Kennedy turn down the offer of make-up, he turned it down too, though it might have covered his five o’clock shadow.  Kennedy got his aides to apply make-up when Nixon wasn’t looking, and presented a tanned and handsome face to the nation.  Nixon looked like a sweaty corpse.  Radio listeners thought he did well.  But on television, Kennedy won by a mile.

Further on:

Kennedy thought he debated his way into the White House . . .

And still further:

In 1980, when voters were weary of Jimmy Carter but worried that his challenger might be an extremist, Ronald Reagan’s amiable performance reassured them.  And in 2000, when George Bush’s winning margin was so microscopic that anything might have tipped the result, Al Gore’s sighs during the first debate surely cost him.


Barack Obama, like Kennedy, is easy on the eye.  John McCain, though he was hot stuff in his youth, now looks craggy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Quote of the Day: The Murakami Phenomenon

From Hillel Wright’s review of A Wild Haruki Chase:  Reading Murakami Around the World, in the Summer 2008 Pacific Rim Review of Books:

Okay, so having produced just two Nobel laureates in literature in the 20th century (Yasunari Kawabata in 1968 and Kenzaburo Oe in 1994), the Japanese government, cultural and literary establishments are now engaging in a rather shameless promotional campaign to see novelist Haruki Murakami win a Nobel Prize.

Murakami, arguably the most popular Japanese writer outside Japan is, ironically, not extremely popular in his own country.  Except for his 1987 novel Norwegian Wood, which sold over a million copies and made him famous in Japan, Murakami’s works have done better in translation than in his native Japanese.  His books have been translated into over 30 languages and have been published in nearly 40 countries around the world, from Brazil to Bulgaria and from Israel to Taiwan.

Murakami’s works are especially popular in Scandinavia and the Baltics, with Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all offering translations.  Another irony is that the original Japanese title of his novel Norwegian Wood, “Noruwei no Mori”, the translation of the Beatles’ hit “Norwegian Wood”, is actually a misinterpretation of the original.  “Mori” in Japanese means “forest” while the “wood” in the Beatles’ song actually refers to the material used to make cheap furniture.  Perhaps the title should have been “Noruwei no Ki.”

Wright’s essay is a fascinating one, dear blog readers.  Among other things, he points out what many people have suspected:  “Murakami is popular abroad because he is not typically Japanese.”

SF Weekly, 9.20.08

Yesterday was brother-in-law’s birthday, and he felt like steak. After running through “possibles” like Juban, New Kapadokia and Santorini, hubby asked self to go on the web and browse. So self typed in “steak + redwood city,” but that yielded up only a couple of bar/restaurants on Broadway. Then, self typed in “steak + menlo park” and came up with an Italian restaurant on Santa Cruz. When self typed in “san carlos + steak” she got the name of a restaurant on Laurel St. that had been closed for quite a while. We ended up at a place called “Van’s on the Hill” in Belmont.

A first sighting did not inspire confidence: it’s a rather seedy-looking converted house on a medium-grade hill, just off El Camino. Carpet was tatty. Inside was a bar with patrons (and it was only 4:30 p.m. — for some reason, hubby and brother-in-law returned from an excursion to San Jose ravenously hungry). There was a fly agains the picture window, inches from self’s face. But the steaks were huge! Self means HUGE! Brother-in-law had a porterhouse, hubby had a rib eye, and self had a prime rib au jus, english cut. And they were dripping blood. And they were so delicious. Hubby took pictures, and self realized (not for the first time), that in the past year she’s grown fat. F-A-T. Time for a desperation diet. Anyhoo, food was very good. Afterwards, self fell fast asleep (so, add another food item to the list of things that make self sleepy: EXCELLENT). And she slept for seven hours straight. And now it is 4 a.m. And self is perusing a month-old San Francisco Weekly that she saved on one of her previous forays to the city. And it is indeed a very interesting magazine, for it has ads for such things as:

1944 Ocean
Alternative Relief Co-Op
OG Kush & Edibles Now Available
Wheelchair Accessible
K-Line Stop: Fairfield/ Victoria

While the ad doesn’t mention any words beginning with “m” or “w”, there is a very helpful pictorial accompaniment that leaves reader in no doubt. And self suddenly imagines Tom Cruise in “Fourth of July” taking a hit.

In another section of the magazine, this one helpfully tagged “art/steamrolling,” there’s an announcement of an event that self is very sorry she missed: “Roadworks.” Here’s a quote from the article:

If you’ve ever wanted to watch some people throw a bunch of art in the middle of the street and run that shit over with a steamroller, “Roadworks” is for you. At the annual event sponsored by the San Francisco Center for the Book, six local artists have created enormous images to be pressed like Judge Doom in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, but without all the Dip and high-pitched screaming.  The process takes at least four people:  one to apply ink to the massive linoleum block carvings, two to lay enormous sheets of paper on top of them, one to drive the steamroller across, and then an additional two paper mavens to carefully peel back the freshly pressed piece of art.  It’s the perfect marriage of mayhem and meticulousness.  Among the contributors are Patricia Curtan, known for her delicate representations of edible plants; Emory Douglas, who crafted iconic imagery for the Black Panther Party; and printmaking students from San Quentin State Prison.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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