Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Obama Campaign's Money Shot

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These ads are everywhere.  I glance at them -- how can one help it?

They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are in black and white.

And they come in a variety of shapes:

Every time I encountered them, they gave me the creeps.  Why?  Lotsa Romney ads out there, too, shilling for dough.  Nothing wrong with that, part of the process.  First Lady out there shaking the tree.  Gotta have swag to run a campaign.  From what I read, the President needs it pretty bad.  So why was this particular ad so odd-looking and unsettling?

My first thought was that it did not seem very compelling to suggest that the candidate's wife was supporting him.  

I was also uncertain whether her endorsement is even a plus.  I have no idea whether Michelle is popular with voters.  She's a strikingly lovely woman, quite impressive at the lectern.  But after a good start as a candidate's wife and First Lady, it appears that -- the White House vegetable garden aside -- her main interests are celebrity hobnobbing, White House parties, and extravagant vacations with and without Barack.  Like her husband, she's gradually acquired a patina of unlikability.  

No, it wasn't her presence in the ad that was saying weird.

Suddenly, it struck me.

It was the slogan.

Join Michelle and tell Barack You're In.

I know, we all know, what it its author would say it means:   "Hey, we all like Barack -- he's my husband, you know, I call him Barack, you can too! -- so come along with me and join the Barack team!"

But  .  .  .  

Join Michelle.

Join her in what?

Must be:  join her in doing something 

What is she doing?

She is "telling" Barack, "you're in."

I know, I know, you don't have to say it, the "you" isn't "you, Barack," it's "you, reader."  

But I do not believe for an instant that whoever composed and approved this -- and I doubt the President or First Lady had anything to do with it -- didn't calculate that this is easily interpreted, even by those whose minds don't trend that way, as Join Michelle and tell Barack: "You're In."

There it was, the creepiness, the weirdness, the ick:  A pitch for cash accomplished in terms of a suggestion of POTUS coitus.  

Capitalizing, albeit subliminally, on what his handlers believe (and, I've come to think for other reasons, is the President's own belief) to be his sexual magnetism. 

I have some long thoughts about this President's emerging strangeness which I will spare you.  For now. But this bizarre and ubiquitous batch of Internet ads reinforces the thought that his handlers, some of them, seem somehow unserious about his re-election.  

The campaign's advocates for this ad knew how easily it could be read to summon up a carnal image.  (Try to imagine this ad with Hillary Clinton in that photograph in 1996 -- long before the Lewinsky scandal broke -- saying "Join Hillary and tell Bill You're In.")   Obama's ad guys think they're being clever, and that the clever people they believe to be their natural constituency will identify with it and applaud that winking naughtiness with their checkbooks.  Whether they are right, I don't know.  I do know they have diminished an already shrinking presidency, and man.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Frank Cady, RIP

I have a soft spot for Hollywood's journeymen, those actors and actresses who were not stars and knew they never would be, but who toiled more or less anonymously and found work whenever a "type" was needed.  I guess they call them "character actors," but they were actors nonetheless.

Once in awhile, one of them would get a defining role.  Bad for a star who doesn't want to get pigeonholed, good for a journeyman who wants to stay employed.

We lost a great one on June 8.  Frank Cady -- Sam Drucker on "Green Acres"  (and "Petticoat Junction" and "Beverly Hillbillies") proprietor of the Hooterville general store -- passed at 96.  (Eddie Albert was 99 when he died -- must be that "fresh air" he sang about in the theme song.)

Fun fact:  He was also in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window."  No, not as Sam Drucker.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Itsy Bitsy Spi -- Uh, Wait

The Schwinn Moab 3 is not one of those speedy road bikes.  I believe the Schwinn people called it a "mountain bike" when it came out, but I've always thought that gave people the misimpression that I seek out mountains for biking, not that there are any around Dallas.  I've always called it a "trail bike," which also gives people a misimpression about my biking abilities, but a less severe one.   On bike rallies, obese women on sleek bikes with skinny tires go flying past me.  That's OK.  Like me, the Schwinn is built for comfort, not for speed.  And pushing some extra metal up the road is going to burn some calories.

And because I don't go very fast, I can enjoy the view.  Most of those views I have already seen many times from a car.  I keep my eyes on the road, partly because I am not a skilled rider and need to keep it in view at all times, and partly because one finds some interesting things there.

Lately, I've been taking a nifty little Canon Powershot S95 with me.

It usually goes like this:  I'm pedaling along, some odd shape dashes across my vision, and five seconds later, when I'm some ways down the road, I realize it was too symmetrical, or too large, or too moving-around to be standard road crud.

It was a beautiful day for a ride one weekend morning a couple of weeks ago.  Warm, but cloudy and windless.  I was headed east on Panther Creek off Preston, cruising along, when I had one of those what was that? moments.  Something dark but oddly well-defined next to the curb, now receding into the distance behind me

I pedaled back to the shape, excited.  Was it a large speckly spider?

Well, yes  .  .  .

.  .  .  and no.

Sure, it was a wolf spider, which, as spiders go, is large.

But look a little more closely.

At first I thought the same thing you might have thought which was:  Cool, the mama spider is carrying her eggs on her back!  Ain't nature grand?

Two problems with that surmise:  Upon mulling this over for a moment, I thought:  How does a mama spider get eggs on its back like that?  Maybe this was the papa spider, or some spidywhipped boyfriend spider conned into hauling some wolf spider babe's eggs.

Second problem:   On looking into this on my return home, I discovered that a mama wolf spider does carry her eggs around with her, not on her back but in a sac under and to the back of her abdomen, where the eggs come, you know, out, as shown in this image from the Internet:

Which means that those bumps on mama's back are  .  .  .  dozens of baby spider asses.  I was looking not at one spider, but many, some of which were, indeed, itsy bitsy.   Sure enough, here's a genuwine Internet image of a mama wolf spider with spiderlings (which is what one calls a baby spider):

I was hoping she would hang around long enough for me to get a container and catch her to show our grandsons, but on my return trip she was gone.  I did find a burrow nearby which I believe may well have been her home, where she undoubtedly dreamed of the day she would become an empty-nester.

I suspect many of you do not like spiders, and really do not like large spiders, and really really do not like concentrations of lots of spiders in a small area, irrespective of size.

So I will conclude this post with a picture of an adorable Maine Coon kitten, and hope you will check back again soon.

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