Sunday, December 28, 2008

Calling Rip Van Winkle

My 2-1/2 year old daughter has a mortal enemy who goes by the name of Sleep, nicknamed Bedtime. It is still the hope of her mother and I that she manages to get a decent nap and a full night’s rest each day. We’ve done ample reading on how critical sleep is to the development of a young child’s mind, and have seen much evidence of how important it is to pleasantness of mood. Since we both work, our daughter (who I'll call Queen Diva from here on out) is in fulltime daycare Monday through Friday and naptime is out of our hands. Often she naps there for about an hour, and far too frequently she doesn’t nap at all. On rare occasion she’s out for a good two hours, which is about the best we can hope for. Our naptime hopes are a little more ambitious on weekends when responsibility shifts back to us, but the results are not greatly improved. Queen Diva pseudo-regularly gives us about an hour and a half to ourselves at midday, a period during which remarkably little can be accomplished. Just as we’re nearing a state somewhere in the vicinity of relaxation, we hear her enthusiastic battle cry – I’m Awake! Double duty is shared with her daycare provider regarding daytime naps, but when it comes to putting Queen Diva to sleep for the night the ball is entirely in our court. We have heard fantastical rumors of toddlers who go down without a fight. We’ve even been witnesses to this seemingly miraculous event and marveled at the good fortune of those parents. When it comes to our own little one however, to quote the dapper Michael Buffer - “Let’s get ready to rumbleeeeeeeee.” My wife and I have come up with every strategy under the sun. Sometimes several days in a row go by when the struggle is less than epic and we foolishly believe we’re on to something. Then our good luck streak cruelly ends and it is back to the drawing board. Evenings can be quite stressful as result. We do our best to be patient, maintaining calmness of demeanor and consistency of habit, creating a sense of security while also promoting independence because when it comes to going to sleep, no one can do it for our daughter but herself. But more often than not, no matter how tired she appears to be (ironically the more exhausted she is the more hyper her behavior), Queen Diva is not ready to fall asleep until she’s ready to fall asleep. Since she is inevitably put to bed (crib to be precise because the attempt to switch her to a bed, even though it was a pink Disney princess model, failed miserably) earlier than her body declares itself prepared for slumber, we are treated to a symphony of complaint and distress. Yet we remain optimists, for what choice do we have? Our silver lining is that unlike the naps that sometimes never come, at night even though she tries to drag it out indefinitely, eventually she will succumb. When silence finally arrives we declare that tomorrow she’ll get enough exercise during the day to wear down her endlessly energetic self. Tomorrow a good daytime nap will translate to trouble free bedtime at night. Tomorrow she won’t be able to trick us into a false alarm bathroom run. Tomorrow that “cry it out” theory will actually work. Tomorrow she’ll decide that resisting sleep with all her might is simply not worth the hassle. But you won’t find me putting any money on tomorrow looking much different than today. The day after that is anyone's guess. ------

Erin's new blog -
  • The Gluten Free Illustrator
  • Friday, December 5, 2008

    Stepping Up to a Near Impossible Challenge

    Barack Obama will assume the presidency of this country at a most inopportune time. We are in a recession that will likely get worse, though hopefully not too much so, long before anything he can do will help to make it better. Faulting Bush or the Republican party or the Easter Bunny won't do us any good either. Assigning blame won't slow down the rate of unemployment or shorten the list of companies big and small lining up to file bankruptcy. Finger pointing won't help a single family pay their mortgage bill after a bread winner has been laid off. Only time and effort and intelligence will stem the tide. It would be nice if compassion to those who are struggling is generously applied as well.

    x x x x x

    In addition to the economy there are numerous other issues on Obama's plate. That's what winning such a monumental election gets you, a plate full of problems and a nation full of people (supporters and detractors alike) waiting for you to fix them. If this recession becomes a full blown depression, the most grateful person in the country will probably be John McCain, sitting pretty in one of his houses with nobody demanding that he save the day.

    x x x x x

    What especially interests me is not the political headaches awaiting the next occupant of the oval office, but rather, the enormously high level of social pressure that accompanies his role as THE FIRST. On my walk from the train station to my office building each day I happen to walk past multiple wholesale stores. A great many of them carry Obama themed merchandise: t-shirts, calendars, anything that his image and message of optimism can be stamped on. African Americans are clearly the biggest target audience for these items. A couple years ago one might have sported a shirt with the face of Tupac or Biggie or Mike Tyson or Michael Jordan as demonstratons of black pride. That has been replaced with apparrel presenting a more serious minded icon such as old school Martin Luther King Jr. alongside our trendy modern day hero - Barack Obama. I'm afraid I haven't been to church in a New York minute, but I wonder if there will be Barack Obama fans along with the MLK models I used to cool myself with during the hot summer Sundays of my youth, arm flapping away as the preacher did his thing up on the pulpit. I knew plenty about Dr. King, what he had accomplished, what he represented. He was the stuff of legend and a notable subject in history textbooks. I understand what Barack Obama represents as well, but as for accomplishments, they haven't really been church fan worthy. Not yet anyway. His election was based on potential rather than achievement. We have collectively rolled the dice and decided to take our chances on the promise of a new day. Our President Elect has written a couple books, done some oddly derided community organizing, and been elected to a few political offices including the biggest one in the land. He proved to be an impressive candidate as John McCain, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others will attest. Whether or not he will be an impressive president remains to be seen.

    x x x x x

    Let's say for the sake of argument though that he excels at the job - pulls our troops out of the Middle East without terrible consequences, gets our economy back on style track, reverses global warming and eliminates the need for gasoline fueled cars or oil fueled furnaces. Let's just say that after eight years of his service everything is prosperous, solar, electrical, green, and almost literally coming up roses. The possibilty exists that Obama could pull all of this off and still be seen by many as a failure. Why? Because Barack Obama will not simply be the President of the USA during a time of multifaceted crisis. He will also be viewed as the savior of Black America. Martin Luther King Jr. had "the dream" and mentioned it to us right before being permanently put to sleep, but Obama has what could be described as an even greater challenge than that facing Dr. King during the civil rights era. Barack Obama is being asked to be the embodiment of the dream fulfilled. He must make every black citizen feel not just a temporary feeling of exhultation over his individual victory, but ultimately, a permanent aura of satisfaction over millions of lives made tangibly better. Obama needs to equal if not better what Abraham Lincoln accomplished for African Americans during his own inopportune time to be president. If you're unemployed or barely scraping by on minimum wage, in the past this was not viewed as the fault of the sitting president. Effects of racism such as being stuck in poverty with a vastly inferior educational system were understood to be much bigger than any one man could be held accountable for. Legally sanctioned bigotry and the poison from it that has trickled down into society far more effectively than Reaganomics is historic. Blame couldn't be put on the first or the second Bush, or Clinton, or Reagan, or Carter, or a particular predecessor any more than a single president could be credited with inventing patriotism. Many decades of seasoning have gone into the stew sitting in the great melting pot that is the United Yet Also Divided States of America. No one person created our nation's racial problems so no particular soul was reasonably or unreasonably expected to fix them - until now that is.

    x x x x x

    I have no doubt that over the next 4 - 8 years there will be many people who look at the state of their lives with great dissatisfaction and proceed to accuse Barack Obama of not having done enough to improve things. The rights to vote and not be segregated and not be enslaved have already been obtained. Yet in spite of great strives there also is still much disparity. "Where is my 40 acres? Where is my mule? Where is my equality? Where is my bigger slice of pie? Why have all of my woes not been eliminated and my sins pardoned now that a black man sits in the White House?"

    x x x x x

    These questions are not intelligent ones, but they are probably inevitable. Those willing to tug on their own bootstraps will certainly hold more realistic hopes and expectations. Will Barack Obama even live up to those? Or was he set up for failure by his own ambition? Will his presence and message and most importantly his actions continue to inspire us? Or will the novelty of his achievement eventually wear off and leave familiar complacency in its place? The burden of change is of course not really on Barack Obama. It is on all of us.



    Commentary by Roy L. Pickering Jr. (author of Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella)




    Web site of the millenium:

    Wednesday, November 5, 2008

    How Sweet It Is

    It's been a long time coming. Let us now hope and pray that reality lives up to the at long last realized dreams.

    Monday, November 3, 2008

    THE MOMENT is almost upon us?

    Back in the 70's when I was a youngster it seemed that there were only two football teams to choose between. You were either a Dallas Cowboys fan or a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Although I lived in New York City (Da Bronx!), rooting for the Giants or Jets never crossed my mind. Some time after a Steelers dynasty that included four championships in a span of six years came to an end, I switched my allegiance to the hometown Jets. I've been mostly suffering for that decision ever since. But before the years of heartache started I was treated to a display of total dominance by the Steel Curtain. The locquacious Terry Bradshaw still had his hair as he threw touchdowns left and right and up the middle, Franco Harris was stomping over helpless defenders, Lynn Swann was poetry in motion (years before becoming a Republican politician of all things), and Mean Joe Greene turned brutality into an art form. As brightly as the stars shone in Dallas while their cheerleaders rooted the Cowboys on so prettily, they simply were no match for the mighty Steelers. I realized that I was witnessing something special.

    I also understood as a young boy that I would not be seeing a black man sworn in as President of the United States of America any time soon. I've never asked my parents if they hoped before I was born that I would one day grow up to be a doctor or lawyer or some other prestigious occupation. I do know they came here from the Virgin Islands in part because they wanted a bright future for me. They envisioned a college education in my future even though they never really pushed the issue. They simply stressed the importance of getting and respecting a good education and allowed me to push myself. But if they were being realists as they tried to forecast what was in store for their first born child, President of the country was probably not on their wish list. A white collar desk job was probably sufficient.

    Now I'm a grown man of 40+ years with a child of my own, plus a college degree earned and a job behind a desk that I would leave to write for a living in a heartbeat. Along with the rest of my countrymen I stand on the verge of something remarkable. Tomorrow is election day and a black man is on the ballot as Democratic nominee. He is even ahead in the polls, though I'm afraid to put much trust in them. As does just about ever Jets fan I firmly believe in jinxes. If all goes according to plan and prayer, Barack Obama will become President of the United States. This biracial man with brown skin and foreign sounding name just may come to embody the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream. Courtesy of the efforts of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obaman, I have come to live in a day and age where wanting my daughter to become President one day is not such a kooky notion after all.

    But before we get to Tuesday we need to make it through Monday night, Monday Night Football to be specific. Last weekend my cousin brought the following piece of information to my attention that I have since verified. As the Washington Redskins go on the Sunday prior to election day, so goes the nation. Thanks to the research of the Elias Sports Bureau's Steve Hirdt, we learned in 2000 that when the Redskins would win their last home game before a presidential election, the incumbent party held on to control of the White House. When the Redskins lost their last home game before the election, the out-of-power party took over. It has worked out this way every time dating all the way back to the franchise's first game in Washington in 1937.

    So being superstitious when it comes to football and miracles, tonight I will root like crazy for my first favorite football team - the Pittsburgh Steelers. The next day I will cast my ballot and root like crazy for John McCain and Sarah Palin to become footnotes in American history. It is time for a new day. Change is fine for a slogan but insufficient for this country. What we truly need is transformation. And we may be no more than a day away from one starting to take place. My fingers are crossed as my hopes take flight.

    Opinion of Roy L. Pickering Jr.

    Friday, October 17, 2008

    Grace Under Pressure

    One thing I believe democrats, republicans, independents, and could-give-a-crappers agree on is that possessing the ability to remain calm, cool and collected under trying circumstances is a commendable attribute. No matter what occupation a person may have or what activity he or she is involved in, it will no doubt be performed at a superior level by someone able to handle unexpected bumps in the road than by someone who crumbles when confronted by crisis. We don't all agree on how the economy should be fixed, or how the Iraq war should be dealt with, or on whether it's okay to wipe out endangered species in pursuit of oil, or on Roe versus Wade, or at which point the welfare system and government bail outs officially transform the U.S. from a capitalist to a socialist nation, or on the right of private citizens to bear glocks and AK-47's and missile launchers. We are all in agreement that nobody wants to pay taxes, but since it seems that we have to pay them anyway, we aren't in agreement on precisely who should pay exactly how much. This is a partisan nation because there are far too many choices for everyone to consistently be on the same side of the fence, and in fact, most people feel conservatively about certain issues and liberally towards others regardless of how they vote on election days. So it's tough to know every four years whether the donkey candidate or the elephant candidate or some wild card entrant like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader will be the best person to preside over our nation. It's a gamble each and every time. The various issues become so convoluted as the opponents distort each other's records that inevitably voters resort to what our overburdened brains can handle and make it a simple popularity contest. Which candidate makes us feel safest? Which one would we most want to have a beer with? Which one makes us feel more warm and fuzzy inside? Which candidate looks more like an actor who would most likely be chosen to play the president in a Hollywood movie? Questions such as these are usually easier to reach a consensus on than those vaguely and insufficiently answered on the campaign trail. Being in clear cut agreement on something creates a comfort level sorely needed in such trying times as the present, which leads me back to the first sentence of this commentary.

    John McCain entered the presidential race credited as the most experienced candidate by far. Being the most experienced doesn't equate to having the best judgement or being the most competent or even the most knowledgeable, but it does count for something. It counts for more than usual when the person you're running against is basically a newbie, so you're able to say stuff like - "I can get started in the first minute of day one while my opponent would require a guided tour to learn where the nearest bathroom is". I paraphrase of course because that's a lot easier to do than actual research. My brilliant wit aside though, I'm sure McCain figured he would be the logical choice for Americans because of his claim to know his way around the corridors of Washington DC yet also declaring himself the ultimate reforming maverick, thus simultaneously playing the experience card and trying to wrest the change card from his opponent's grasp. Being a war hero didn't look too shabby on his resume either. He's the same race as every other man who has ever held the job, but just in case this somehow worked against rather than for him in these evolutionary and revolutionary times, he selected Sarah Palin as his running mate in order to have an equally firm grip on the minority card. John McCain had everything figured out except for one not so small thing that he somehow failed to learn from his first presidential bid. While it is not quite so difficult as actually being President, running for president is a pretty tough endeavor. Challenges will emerge from every nook and cranny. Not a single skeleton will be left alone in the closet and no stones whatsoever will be left unturned, unprobed, unprodded. But no matter how many trials and tribulations come along between the announcement to run for president and election day, the recommended code of conduct is crystal clear. You are not allowed to appear ruffled, to seem unnerved, to become visibly agitated, to sweat even the big stuff never mind the small stuff, to appear dazed and confused and distraught and overwhelmed. Not without being penalized for it. If you want to become president, you need to be able to exhibit that you can consistently appear presidential. Squirming and grimacing and freaking out are not part of the profile. You aren't allowed to call 'time out'. Running for president is not for the faint of heart or character.

    Here is a list of non-presidential actions. Suspending (in name but not actually doing it) your campaign in order to grandstand. Not being able to suppress looks of disdain in a televised debate. Selecting a running mate solely for gimmicky political reasons rather than qualifications. Referring to your opponent as "that guy" while doing everything under the sun to refrain from making eye contact with him. It has been difficult for John McCain to convince the majority of Americans that he is the best choice because he is a following behind the worst presidency of all time and happens to belong to the same political party. The fact that he has voted the same as Bush 90% of the time is not particularly helpful. Remarking that the economy is not his strong suit mere months before the collapse of our economy, stating that the fundamentals of our economy are strong just a few hours before all hell broke lose, definitely proved to be problematic for McCain. But these factors should have been minor compared to the obstacles Senator Obama has had to deal with. Obama is a black man with a foreign sounding name, including a middle name that is identical to the surname of the former leader of the country we're at war with and a last name that rhymes with the first of public enemy number one. Although untrue, it has not been difficult due to his background to imply with credibility that Obama is or was at one point Muslim, not the most popular religion in these parts nowadays. Reverend Wright's YouTube moments threatened to upend Obama's campaign, and when the holy roller chose to speak up for himself rather than be defined by short video clips, he did far more harm to Obama's candidacy than good. In order to earn the democratic party nomination, Barack Obama first had to get past the seasoned Senator Hillary Clinton in a grueling primary that at the time seemed to threaten to weaken the eventual winner, but in the end proved the old adage true that whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. Obama had to endure his wife being called unpatriotic because of a single comment that was twisted to mean what the opposition wanted us to believe, and an affectionate gesture between the senator and his wife was referred to as a "terrorist fist pump". If ever there was a moment to blow one's cool, that was it. He has been painted as elitist because of one poorly phrased statement, preference for arugula salad over artery clogging fast food, and poor bowling skills. The 99.5% of times he phrases things beautifully, his eloquence and abilities to articulate and think quickly on his feet have somehow been branded as character defects. How could someone be well spoken and in touch with the needs of the common man (apparently that man's name is Joe Six-Pack the Plumber) at the same time? You hear such nonsense over and over again and it makes you wanna holla. But you'd never know it from looking at Barack Obama. As financial institutions collapsed around him he remained in control. Russia invaded Georgia and he remained in control. He was accused of wanting to teach sex ed to kindergarten kids, palling around with terrorists, calling Sarah Palin swine in make-up, and various other false atrocities. Yet in each instance he simply set the record straight while maintaining his poise. Not once did he blink, much less panic. What he has done is fit the description of the job he is seeking. He has been presidential. Now we need only wait until November 4th when hopefully the people of this country will see through the BS and see fit to make Barack Obama our 44th president.

    - Roy Pickering (Author of Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella)

    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Do or Die

    This past Sunday I got to see the legendary Brett Favre do his thing in person for the first time. To put it quite mildly he did not disappoint, throwing a career high 6 touchdowns. Not only did this set a personal record but he also matched the team record previously held solely by the New York Jets original legend - Joe Namath - a man ballsy enough to guarantee entry to the Promised Land and talented enough to make good on it. Time is not on Brett Favre's side to duplicate this accomplishment, but he understands as well as anyone that there is no moment like the present and looks determined to make the best of it. If his coaches also respect the urgency of the matter and let Favre carry the team as far as his strong arm and fearless disposition can take them, it seems destined to be one hell of a ride for Jets fans. Dreaming of the Super Bowl seemed too much of a stretch at the beginning of this season due to sharing a conference with the almighty New England Patriots. Now that the head of the Brady Bunch (which is not you, Bill Belichick) is down for the count, the honor of AFC representative in the big game is basically up for grabs. Brett's reach for the Lombardi trophy, even at the age of 38, is as long as anybody's. If his performance against the Arizona Cardinals is any indication, and if the Jets can get the defensive side of the line in order over their bye week, the next three quarters of this season promise to be something special. Win, lose or draw, there's a word that will not likely be used to describe the Jets for the remainder of the Favre era - boring. In one afternoon all Chad Pennington nostolgia, even that felt by his best buddy Laveranues Coles, was eradicated. There's a new sherrif in town who can sling it with the best of 'em. I sure hope Joe Namath is maintaining sobritety so he can enjoy these theatrics along with the rest of us. Joe above all should be able to appreciate the biggest of stars doing what he does best on the brightest of stages.

    Speaking of being on a pressure packed stage, I'm really looking forward to the vice presidential debate on Thursday between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin. I eagerly anticipated the showdown that recently took place between John McCain and Barack Obama, and McCain's "maybe I'll show up, maybe I won't" stance added to the intrigue, but when the smoke cleared it turned out basically to be what was expected. Two pros went out there and jabbed away, both landing a fair share of blows, neither managing a knock out. It reminded me of a Pay Per View boxing match, reasonably entertaining but ultimately failing to live up to the build up that causes me to shell out $50 that I always swear never to do again. But as the past couple weeks have shown, once the muzzle has been taken off there's just no way to accurately predict how Sarah Palin will perform. Give her a script and a partisan audience and she's almost certain to knock the ball out of the park. Throw legitimate non-true/false or multiple choice questions at her in front of people as willing to jeer as they are to cheer, and there's a reasonable chance she'll come off sounding even more ridiculous than those hysterical Tina Fey parodies on Saturday Night Live. If she can't deal with an underarm Katie Couric pitch, how will she deal with legitimate queries followed by cross examining from Biden? He certainly has some debating flaws of his own, but surely he can be coached to keep his answers brief and on point. Can Sarah Palin be trained by crash course to become knowledgeable and confident and coherant on a wide range of executive level subjects? We'll see soon enough. Since the republicans are so good at pulling surprises, I advise Joe Biden not to take his upcoming task lightly. It's probably against the rules for her to distract him by showing up for the debate in a bikini, but I expect at least one screwball in attempt to throw the loquacious senator off his game. Perhaps Palin will announce before the first question that she is pregnant with her sixth child. Trying bullying her then, Biden. As the accompanying photos show, Sarah Palin is the most dangerous sort of animal, a political one. That means no holds barred. Biden needs to take a page out of the books of Joe Namath and Brett Favre. Leave nothing on the field. Screw the five yard completion when the sixty yard bomb is sort of open. There is one opponent who absolutely cannot be allowed to be the victor, and that is fear. Fear is precisely what will reign if Palin and McCain are voted into the White House. The thought of it stamps two words on my mind. Hell no.
    - Roy Pickering (Author of Feeding the Squirrels: A novella)
    Quote of the day:
    Katie Couric: Why isn't it better, Gov. Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?
    Gov. Sarah Palin: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, we're ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the -- it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.
    Web Site of the day:

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    The Face of Change/Experience/Feminism/Family & Small Town Values/Hotness/Whatever else the Republican party can convince you of

    Sarah Palin is the republican selection for vice presidential candidate. I say the republican selection rather than John McCain's choice because I doubt he had very much to do with it, which says a great deal about how much of his own man the so called maverick actually is nowadays. Joe Lieberman did a wonderful impersonation of Benedict Arnold the other night but never had a snowball's chance in hell of being the VP nominee no matter how tight he and McCain are. Clearly John's handlers and professional political spin doctors were growing increasingly worried that "The Celebrity" was going to clean "The Straight Talker's" clock, so they had to come up with something big to shake up the polls, and they needed to do so ASAP. It's easy to picture them saying behind closed doors - "How about a shocking choice for VP, someone practically no one will have heard of much less expected to be selected? Sounds like a plan." Next thing you know the world is being introduced to Sarah Palin, governor of the state of Alaska which is about half the size of the borough of Brooklyn but probably has more oil, though not nearly as many West Indians. Before becoming governor of our late arriving state she was mayor of some town that has a population smaller than the occupancy of my office building. I have not actually checked to confirm if this statement is factual, but anyone reading this feel free to find out approximately how many people work in the New York Life Building and let me know if it's more than 8000. Such an unlikely candidate certainly meets the SURPRISE criteria. Did I mention that Sarah is a woman? That means all disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters can move on over to the other party because they have the most ovaries on the ticket by far. Mrs. Palin is a mother of five which I suppose makes her five times the woman that Hillary is, so no need to let little things like her anti woman's right to choose abortion even in the most extreme situations; anti-birth control education (abstinence or bust); let's teach Creationism in the classrooms while making sure every student has the right to own a gun stances get in the way of voting for her and John McCain. At 44 years old she's about half a century (okay, that's a slight exaggeration) younger than her ticket mate, another item to check off. Youthful vigor and minority status are no longer the sole domains of Barack Obama in this year's presidential race, but McCain continues to be the only resident former POW, which as we know is the most necessary qualification a presidential candidate can possess. For those who like White House occupants to be folksy like that good old boy George Dubya Bush rather than eloquent like Obama or stiff as a board like McCain, Sarah has that going on too. She sounds just like Frances McDormand in Fargo. As for who she physically resembles, I'll let the photographs above speak for themselves. This is rather ironic since the whole selection process (apparently Sarah met with the man who "picked" her once for all of 15 minutes) seems like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. Mrs. Palin came out with all guns (fortunately not literally) blazing when she spoke at the republican convention and was officially introduced to her newfound rabid fan club. They gave her a long standing ovation before she spoke a single word simply for not tripping on her way to the podium. Talk about setting a low bar for success. She proceeded to do a fine job of reading the speech that was written for her off the space age teleprompter, causing ovation after ovation after ovation to erupt, yet never managing to wake her newborn baby son in the audience. I on the other hand can't belch without accidentally waking my daughter in her sound proof room. Republican politicians by definition are masters at going on the senseless attack. Sarah Palin did not disappoint in this department. After spending about 4 hours introducing everyone to the members of her immediate family awake or otherwise, she went on to chastise the media for daring to make any remarks about anyone in her family. The former beauty pageant contestant stood there as if receiving an award for mother of the year rather than accepting the VP nomination, then ripped into the media for daring to suggest that her parenting skills fall a little shy of the standard set by June Cleaver. No one is supposed to comment on her 17 year old daughter being pregnant and unmarried because men who run for public office are never asked if they will be able to be both a good politician and a good father. Fair enough. No one is supposed to ridicule the vetting process that enabled her to be picked ahead of so many other far more qualified candidates because that isn't very nice. Okay. No one is supposed to question the brevity and lameness of her resume because she doesn't like it when people say mean things unless she's the one saying them about Barack Obama. All right, I guess. No one is supposed to check on or care about the allegations of improper behavior as governor, allegedly using her influence to get a former in-law fired from his job, because this would get in the way of believing she is Wonder Woman, Joan of Arc, Mia Farrow, Oprah, Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, Rosa Parks, and the Statue of Liberty lady all rolled into one Ronald Reagan approved package. Really? That seems to be asking a bit much. Gimmicks and trick plays do work from time to time on a football field, and can even end up being the margin of victory. But since McCain and the republican party pulled their wild card with several months of campaigning left to go, the evil empire of the media (except when they're fawing about republicans, then they're just fine and dandy) and the democratic party has plenty of time to point out the little man behind the curtain operating the Wizard of Oz, and there is ample opportunity for the truth (rather than slickly produced propoganda) to reveal itself. Once the smoke from the fireworks has cleared everyone will be able to see that the choice before us is the same as it has been from the start. If you want to continue in the war mongering, economy destroying direction George Bush has been taking this country for the last eight years, or if you believe that like Justin Timberlake the role of Vice President is to bring sexy back, vote McCain-Palin. If you have something else in mind, forget all the partisan fact distorting ads and catchy slogans and simply listen. This should allow you to determine who is speaking with the calm yet passionate voice of reason, and who is merely full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    - Roy Pickering (Author of Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella)

    Friday, August 8, 2008

    All is fair in love and war and football

    Chad Pennington has signed with the Miami Dolphins. Say it isn't so, Chad. Such is life in the NFL, I suppose. Rule # 1 - You can't trust Bill Parcells any further than you can throw him. But since it's impossibe to dislike Chad I wish him luck with the rest of his career so long as his new team continues to be awful and keeps losing to the Jets. I guess that isn't wishing him very much luck, so instead I'll hope he gets traded to the NFC soon. That probably won't happen prior to week # 1 when the Jets former QB (no doubt feeling vengeful) and their new icon face off against each other. This should be a very interesting NFL season, shaping up to either provide redemption for long suffering Jets fans or else ultimate humiliation.

    Thursday, August 7, 2008

    Dawn of a bright new day (for NY Jets fans)

    Last NFL season was a tough one to be a Jets fan. Any long time Jets fan is depressingly familiar with suffering through tough seasons, but last year was particularly brutal following the promise of the preceding year when a new young coach that we snatched from the evil empire in New England strode into town and got far better than expected results for Gang Green. The Eric Mangini era got off to such a great start that he was dubbed Mangenius and made a cameo performance on the hottest show on TV. As everybody familiar with The Sopranos should realize, no matter how much you possess it can all be taken away in the amount of time it takes a bullet to travel through one's skull. The Jets stood poised on the brink of greatness long enough for even their most cynical supporters (and Jets fans by definition and necessity are a cynical lot) to get a little spoiled. Only one thing could stand in the way of glory - the next season. The fragile, oft injured Chad Pennington proceeded to play terribly and was replaced by a healthy but not particularly good Kellen Clemens. Combined they led the team to four victories in the regular season, twelve less than the perfect Patriots managed. Unbelievably New England did not win yet another Super Bowl because somehow they were beaten by their NFC opponent who somehow managed to be none other than the Jets roommates. It's painful enough to root for a 4 - 12 team without them happening to share a stadium with the champions of the league. Never has a competition for bragging rights been more lopsided. Try countering "the Giants are world beaters" with "the Jets had Namath during the Jurassic era". It is simply not an effective argument.

    All that changed today. The Giants may have a Manning brother at the helm who has won just as many Super Bowl rings as the one in all those commercials, but the Jets no longer need to feel blue because they don't have too shabby a player manning the quarterback position themselves. Once again the mean green mediocrity machine is turning to a strong armed 38-year old to steer the franchise, but this time around it appears to be a significant upgrade from when they gave Vinnie Testaverde permission to get off his couch and suit up. Today the fabled Brett Favre is officially on board with the program. It may only be a one year experiment. It may be doomed to failure. It may be a pathetic display of desperation, more marketing ploy than effective gameday strategizing. Or it just may be the single greatest thing to happen in Jetsdom since the invention of sliced bread (assuming you're a sliced bread fan, that is.) Argentina no longer needs to cry for me, and neither do any Patriots or Giants backers. Jets fans finally have something to chant with more dignity to it than "At least we're not the Dolphins!".

    Favre's résumé is the stuff of dreams, him being the NFL's only three-time Associated Press MVP, the NFL's career record holder in touchdown passes (442), completions (5,377), attempts (8,758), yards (61,655) and victories by a starting quarterback (160). I think I'll conveniently leave out that he also leads the league in interceptions because how can he not when he barely ever sits out a play, much less a game? Instead I'll provide additional stats taken from his most recent season - 4,155 passing yards, 28 touchdown passes, career-highs in both completion percentage (66.5 percent) and yards per attempt (7.8). Not too shabby for an old fogey who merely finished second in the league's MVP voting and got his team to within one unfortunate pass from the Super Bowl. The Jets nearly selected Favre in the second round of the 1991 NFL draft, only to have Atlanta pluck him away one pick ahead of them and eventually trade him to Green Bay. The Jets instead drafted Browning Nagle and everyone is forgiven for refusing to recall how well that worked out. The Jets were painfully close to getting a guy who puts Cal Ripken to shame, the true ironman not just of football but of sports in general (which is a nice change of pace from Chad "Body of Glass - Arm of Wet Noodle" Pennington), but it was not to be until 17 years later. Mr. Favre (I don't feel I know the man well enough to address him yet as just Brett) has nine Pro Bowl berths to his name and a Super Bowl XXXI ring for his finger. Chad Pennington has a nice personality, which when added to two dollars will get you a ride on the New York City subway until the next fare hike comes along. I don't want to rag on Chad too much because I sincerely like the guy and know he gave his all for the team. But being an NFL quarterback who can't take a hit or throw very hard is like being an Olympic swimmer with a pesky habit of sinking to the bottom of the pool and needing to be rescued by a lifeguard. On its own the addition of Brett Favre to New York's roster does not transform them from pretender to contender. When considered along with their other offseason acquisitions however, the path of the Jets does indeed appear cleared for take off.

    Back in the olden days when Brett Favre still played for the Green Bay Packers, my wife remarked that John Madden seemed excessively fond of him. Complimenting a player for making a nice throw while under great pressure from a hard charging linebacker is one thing. Continuously proclaiming that he symbolizes all that is great about western civilization may be a bit much. But that was then, this is officially the new golden age of NY Jets history. Favre has changed shades of green, exchanged Cheese Heads and Lambeau leaps for performing his legendary heroics in front of a rightfully angry mob. We do so long to be happy though, and # 4 just may be the guy to turn our frowns upside down and our warranted pessimism into legitimate hope. If so, move over John Madden because you now have some serious competition at being Brett Favre's # 1 fan.

    Monday, July 7, 2008

    Why I love the game

    I don't have too much to say about the championship match at Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Some sights I am fortunate enough to behold are simply beyond my power to adequately describe with words. I'll simply state that this match demonstrated all the reasons why I love tennis, love sports in general, and why I am in awe of those rarest of champions who actually deserve to be described by the most overused term in sports - WARRIOR. And let me not forget to bow down to those inspirational Williams sisters who prove the many naysayers (I won't get into my theory on why their continued prowess is doubted. Only the color blind should have any trouble figuring it out) so very wrong time and time again. They do it their way and will eventually leave the sport with no regrets and a whole bunch of trophies. Kudos to four incredible athletes with plenty of spectacular tennis left to display.

    Thursday, June 5, 2008

    The view from the mountaintop

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once famously stated that he'd had a dream about reaching the mountaintop and seeing a brand new day from that lofty vantage point. He predicted he would probably not be allowed to get there with us, but urged us to strive on without him. Has that day finally arrived? Well no, not quite. But it certainly does seem to be in spitting distance.
    It was a fairly big deal when America's first handicapped president was elected. The selection of the first Catholic to rule from the oval office was a major leap of faith. A non-Christian U.S. president would signal the dawn of a new day far surpassing our current willingness to support Israel. Perhaps we'll never have a president who was not born an American citizen, so Arnie will have to settle for governing California and being a Kennedy-in-law. Eventually a woman will become commander in chief, an event that will be both transcendant and transformative. I know it pains many that it will not be happening this year. But as I see it, no greater leap can be taken by this country than the one from kidnapping Africans from the cradle of civilization and forcing them into bondage and servitude to the day when the first African American takes the oath of the highest office in the land. That occassion will be beyond epic, beyond description until seen with our scarcely believing eyes, yet it may only be months away from becoming reality.

    Senator Barack Obama's work is not yet done of course. There's still the pesky general election to compete in. The Republican party will throw everything they can at him. Will more Reverend Wright-like stories emerge after extensive digging into his past and present? Will a smear campaign be effectively waged that appeals to the darker nature of people who fear difference and reject legitimate integration of our society? When the votes of democrats, republicans and independents are all added together will there be enough Americans willing to hand over the role of commander in chief to a black man? No matter how inept President George W. Bush has been and how closely the democrats manage to tie Senator John McCain to his failed policies and stubbornly wrong mindset, will racial bias (never mind that he is biracial, aka half white) or an idiotic insistence that nobody with a name like his can really be a Christian(religion probably being the only disqualifier even more potent than race) cause this country to elect more of the same old same old over the potential for legitimate change?

    I say potential because who knows how much Obama would actually be able to change and accomplish as president. In four years he'd certainly get some important things done, such as getting us out of an unnecessary war for starters. Given eight years he might be able to significantly alter the way the business of politics is conducted in our nation's capital. Then again, his noble intentions may simply run into roadblocks he'll be unable to hurdle. Or worst case scenario, his strongest detractors could prove to be right and it will turn out that Obama is basically a self serving smooth talker no different than the typical politician, merely having a better tan.

    From what I've been able to glean from his words, stated in debates and interviews and speeches as well as written in his books, Obama is a fine man who I believe can be a great president. What I also understand is that the day an African American holds the highest position in this land is the day that monumental metamorphosis will begin to take place in inner cities throughout this great and greatly improving land. No longer will a little black boy or girl say that at best they may be able to someday become a basketball player, or a singer/actor/strip club dancer, or a nurse, or a drug dealer, or a teacher, or a preacher, or a soldier, or a high school graduate, or a baby's mama or a missing in action baby's daddy. They will say they're not quite sure what they'll become because all of a sudden there no longer seems to be strict limits imposed on their future. They will express gratitude for the efforts of countless others before them that brought us to this long deferred place, proclaim that at last our past history of legally sanctioned racism and dehumanization has been overcome, and gladly lay out plans to be whatever it is they most want to be because why should they settle for anything less. They will dance with joy for awhile on top of that mountain and then head down to reap rewards only to be found in the valley of true equality.
    - Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)

    Link of the day:

    **It's quite depressing that a web site like this had to be created in the first place, but one major negative of living in the internet era is that misinformation can be spread in very little time with the greatest of ease to all corners of the earth. For some reason the truth seems to travel much more slowly and not nearly as far.**

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Hillary Clinton in her own words

    “There was just an AP article posted that found how Senator Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me… I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on.”

    And now for my words on the subject. It doesn't take a linguistics expert to spot that Mrs. Clinton is equating "hard working Americans" with "white Americans". Apparently she has conceded the shiftless negro vote. Desperate times do indeed call for pathetic pleas for support, but Hillary should be smart enough to realize that making statements to guarantee an endorsement from the head of the KKK is not what it takes in this day and age to secure a national political nomination. Call Barack Obama an elitist all you want (Such an absurd claim. Simply look at the backgrounds of Barack and Hillary and then decide which one is actually more concerned about and at ease among people making less than 10 million dollars a year), but there is nothing wrong with being educated, cultured, healthy (last I checked, eating arugula was not one of the Seven Deadly Sins) and open minded, and certainly nothing noble about scraping the bottom of the barrell for people who enter a voting booth with little information to base their decision on beyond the race of the respective candidates. Yet I'll give Hill a pass. Perhaps she had, as her husband of all people would put it, another "senior moment" during an exhausting and increasingly frustrating campaign. Maybe she was under the duress of sniper fire while being interviewed. I won't implore Fox "News" (aka Blatantly Republican Network) and CNN to dedicate the same amount and degree of coverage to Clinton's bold statement as they did to Obama's "bittergate" or "pastorgate", or even as much air time as was given to such critical issues as flag lapels and bowling scores. The reason I'm being so magnaminous is because I don't believe people should vote against the candidate who they have been most effectively scared away from. I feel reasonably comfortable saying this because none of the candidates has the last name Bush. Everyone should support the nominee who inspires the most confidence that their own interests and strongest held beliefs will be supported by the upcoming presidency. If that person in your opinion happens to be Hillary Clinton or John McCain or Ralph Nader (Ralph is a candidate too, right?), then so be it. If it happens to be Barack Obama, congratulations on your display of common sense regardless of how hard working you are or what your melanin count happens to be.

    - Roy Pickering (Author of FEEDING THE SQUIRRELS: A Novella)

    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    Conspiracy Theory of the Day

    The Barack Obama - Reverend Wright connection has been troubling to many voters. Political analysts and opponents in the presidential race have not been willing to let the matter die a natural death, and probably will not do so any time soon. Even after Obama’s magnificent speech in Philly many people remained dissatisfied because Obama did not publicly “disown” Wright. For some odd reason Jeremiah Wright subsequently chose to pick on and insult Obama rather than quietly going away into the night, which one would have expected him to do if there was genuine friendship between the men. Why would he choose to sabatoge Obama's chances at getting elected unless something was going on that the general public was not aware of? Pride? Love of the spotlight? Betrayal complex? Or was there something more mysterious to it? Granted, it is understandable that Rev. Wright would want to defend himself and his church after being condemned and caricatured on a daily basis. But surely there was a way to accomplish this without doing further harm to Obama. For one thing, he could have waited until after the upcoming primaries in Indiana and North Carolina before making public statements. When he did speak he could have made it clear that he and his former parishioner agree to disagree on certain principles, reinforcing that he speaks for himself alone and that matching every one of his beliefs (many of which are not especially outlandish or inflammatory despite what his critics claim) with those of Obama is ludicrous. The most unAmerican thing I can think of is to belittle freedom of speech by roasting a man for criticizing this country as if we're all supposed to have our heads stuck in the sand and believe the US of A is a utopian society. He is guilty perhaps of overstating his opinions. Someone who shouts at you will always seem less reasonable and rational than one who speaks calmly, even if they are saying essentially the same thing. With the exception of the US government inventing AIDS specifically to kill off African Americans I have yet to hear any commentary from Rev. Wright that did not contain a fair measure of truth and common sense, regardless of whether one is inclined to wholeheartedly agree with the truth as he views it or not. He said for example that Native Americans who had their land forcibly taken from them, Japanese American detainees during World War II, and African Americans from the time they were dragged here from Africa have not received the most polite treatment by this nation. Is this really something that any sane person can dispute no matter how rabidly pro Red White and Blue they may be? Would this section of his sermon even have been seen as particularly controversial if he did not take things a step too far by revising "God Bless America" to "God D**n America"? No doubt he felt that such phrasing would give maximum emphasis and flair to his criticisms, and so it did, but it also made them easier to condemn for being too extreme, even traitorous. Had Jeremiah Wright simply clarified his positions with minimal mention of Obama's agreement or disagreement with them, this would have been a sufficient response to fight against the tainting of his legacy. Instead Rev. Wright got in some digs while in the act of defending himself, implying that Obama was a typical politician who spoke out of both ends of his mouth, saying what he felt was necessary at the time to secure the maximum amount of votes, easily willing to change his tune if convenient and advantageous to do so. Why would he do this when Obama had certainly been far gentler on him despite the fact that he may have pleased more voters by being tougher? After the third and most outlandish stop on Wright's speaking tour, Barack Obama finally grew angry and distanced himself from the reverend just as many felt he should have done from the get go. Now that he has given the people precisely what they were asking for, one wonders if it will aid his cause or will be a case of too little too late. Either way, I’m left to ponder if Wright's seemingly unnecessary and certainly inappropriate dissing of Obama was for show. Did he act the part of bad guy in calculated fashion since he had already been cast in that role anyway courtesy of the YouTube clips? Was his actual objective to enable Obama to once again be seen as the good guy? By going out of his way to provoke the Democratic frontrunner, practically begging for retaliation of some kind, he provided Obama with a convenient out. Could it be that he intended to help rather than hurt his friend? If so, did Wright do so on his own or were they in it together? Perhaps I'm being overly cynical (following this election will do that to you) but it does make one wonder how much of what we're watching is real and how much is theater. Yet stronger than this wonderment is my hope that Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee (perhaps giving a central role to Hillary Clinton in spite of her less than admirable efforts to win the nomination for herself), goes on to defeat John McCain in the general election (perhaps giving him a central role in spite of his fondness for war because he does strike me as being a good and sincere man), and then proceeds to live up to his promise.

    Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)


    Newsweek article that comments on same topic, minus conspiracy theory -

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Diligence, Penny Pinching, Political Obsessing, and Pity

    It's been about a month since my last entry. I intend to add to this blog more frequently and regularly going forward, though in my defense I have not been guilty of idle hands. Over the past several weeks I'm happy to say that I've been working on my novel "Matters of Convenience" on a pretty regular basis. The manuscript has surpassed 400 handwritten pages with its end on the not too distant horizon. At such a pace it's entirely possible that I'll complete the first draft by summer's end and will have it ready to submit to literary agents and/or publishers before the close of 2008. Not only have I been diligently working on my novel but I also penned a book in poetic form geared to toddlers that is waiting for accompanying illustrations by Erin. It has not been copyrighted so I won't post it here yet, but I am rather proud of it. "Baby's Day" is its title and Ava was the inspiration, particularly during the period when she was getting upset on a regular basis about being brought to daycare Monday - Friday. Erin and I did not want to leave her in the care of others and head to our day jobs any more than Ava wanted to be dropped off, but as a family that requires both our incomes we have no choice in the matter. I suppose "Baby's Day" was written as much to cheer Erin and I up as to give our daughter a more positive perspective on the situation. It's my sincere belief that once Erin has contributed her fantastic artwork to go along with my simple words, if/when published our book will be a welcome addition to the libraries of many working parents with young children. Stay tuned for Erin to give you a peek at an illustration or two from it. We definitely intend to create more children's books. Our second one will probably have an adoption theme.

    Speaking of which, we're planning for our second child so that means we need to budget accordingly. As summer quickly approaches we'll hopefully find plenty of ways to make it the best one of our lives without breaking the bank. This is a potential topic to write about going forward. Last I checked, being flush with cash is not a requirement for fun. A lack of funds simply makes it a bit more challenging, which could in turn could make the results of our research more rewarding. There is plenty of wonder and laughter for us to experience without daunting price tags attached.

    My obsession with Barack versus Hillary continues, as does my disappointment with the Clinton camp for doing their best to scare less enlightened voters away from Obama by portraying him as a man with strong racist, militant, unpatriotic ties. She isn't too far from proclaiming (with plenty of supporters helping to spread her ugly message) that a vote for Obama may as well be one for Reverend Wright, Al Sharpton, Mike Tyson, OJ Simpson, Louis Farrakhan and whoever else makes certain sectors of White America nervous. Barack Obama is not a perfect man or a perfect candidate, and he will not make a perfect president. But if given the chance I do believe in his potential to be a great one, and if Hillary Clinton is to get the opportunity ahead of him (which still seems doubtful) I only hope that she does so fair and square rather than appealing to the darker natures of an older and/or lesser educated demographic that clings to the past of our great imperfect nation rather than embracing the future envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    The police officers who shot and killed Sean Bell on his wedding day as the 23 year old man left the strip club his bachelor party was held at have been acquitted. Perhaps it actually was a fair verdict. Maybe those police officers truly did see justifiable cause to fire 50 times at unarmed men. It's possible they really believed they were in danger and needed to shoot before being shot at first. I don't know precisely what took place on that fateful night with absolute certainty. What I do know is that Sean Bell is dead, his daughter is fatherless, his loved ones will find no peace from the legal verdict so need to look elsewhere for solace, and that black men scare certain people. Amadou Diallo frightened cops with his wallet, causing them to pump 41 bullets into him. Barack Obama continues to scare off Hillary Clinton's strongest base of support. I'm sure I've made someone somewhere nervous at some point by my mere presence. It doesn't make me angry anymore so much as sad.

    That's all for now. Take care.

    - Roy Pickering (author of Feeding the Squirrels)

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Dumbest "controversy" of 21st century to date

    The ongoing presidential primaries have certainly provided ample material that would fit the title of this blog entry, but I've decided that above all else, uproar over the cover of the current issue of Vogue magazine is the most idiotic thing I've ever heard. Announcement to people of all colors, creeds, races, religions, political parties, sexual preferences, and also to anyone who hasn't quite figured out yet that public funds are not intended for use by elected officials to subsidize extramarital affairs or trips to their brothel of choice: Black men and white women are allowed to be in each other's company without raising a major stir! This is the year 2008. Racism has not vanished from the face of the earth, but as everyone other than those who Barack Obama listens to on Sunday mornings should have figured out by now, we no longer reside in the era of Native Son or To Kill a Mockingbird. Within certain families trouble will no doubt be brewed if the wrong answer is given to the age old question - Guess who's coming to dinner? Nevertheless, the times they have already a-changed to a refreshing degree. As result it is actually possible to look at a photograph of a black man with a white woman, even one where the black guy is clowning (which apparently looks way too much like demonic scowling to some), and not automatically assume that the picture is a reinterpretation of a King Kong movie poster. I did not look at the accompanying photo and fear that the poor model was about to be raped or mugged or eaten alive by the primitive holding her captive. I did not conclude that LeBron was just begging to be lynched. What I thought was - there goes a picture of two young, attractive, famous, rich people, one of whom happens to be the girlfriend of the quarterback for the losing team in the Super Bowl. And then I moved on with my day. Anyone who gave this picture much more thought than that has way too much time on their hands and way too big a chip on their shoulder. I was not offended by the image in the slightest, but I am offended by anyone who takes issue with it because they are stuck in a past that is keeping us from moving full speed ahead into the future. A color blind world may not be right around the corner even if the right candidate is elected president, but surely we live in a day and age when a magazine should be able to blatantly peddle good old fashioned sex without inciting a race riot because the man and woman pictured do not look like genetic brother and sister. Reverend Wright was slandered endlessly for harshly criticizing this country, and Barack Obama was roasted by association. But aren't a few potshots warranted by a nation so obsessed with race that a pretty picture is able to distract us from the fact that we have (for starters) an economy in dire need of fixing and a weakly plotted war desperately in need of an ending?
    - Roy Pickering (Author of "Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella)
    p.s. - IMHO this is one heckuva speech:

    Wednesday, March 5, 2008

    Making the most of my commute

    In my ongoing quest to slot time into my day to sketch, paint, connect with my creative side, etc. I have tapped into my commuting time. I have found I can draw on anything - sitting or standing. Used to be I needed a lovely sketchbook, the right texture paper, a special pen, a peaceful setting, northern light – you get the idea. I needed the perfect set up and supplies. Those days are gone.

    I fight tooth and nail for my creative outlet and have let all the trappings fall by the wayside. The result – I am doing it!

    I drew this standing up on a packed train, in my 3.5x6.5” day-timer notebook, with whatever pen I had in my bag. None of that mattered. I had an idea and I acted on it… captured the essence of all 3 of us in that initial drawing. Then I started to get in my own way… Redrawing, fixing, adjusting, scanning, tweaking. All of that produced no better results then my original off-the-cuff, at-the-moment drawing.

    Note to self: draw, don’t fuss.

    PS – I just read "The War of Art" by Steven Pressfield yet again. I think it’s starting to sink in.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Agents of Change

    I've been obsessed with the primaries this year, particularly on the Democratic side. Never before in my life have I felt so invested in the political process, in large part due to the promise of the unique set of candidates and my good riddance attitude towards the ineptitude of the incumbent. There has been much talk about readiness to handle the duties of the job from day one. That talk seems to be falling on deaf ears. Now that the former governors/mayors/CEO's are basically out of the running, leaving us with a choice between senators (McCain, Clinton, or Obama), playing the experience card isn't especially effective because the three of them are on relatively equal footing. Having more years on the job does not necessarily make you superior at it. Having had more success is what determines who should be "promoted". I respect McCain's status as a war hero in a day and age when the word hero is usually abused to describe whoever has made a game winning shot or homerun or touchdown. Speaking of sports I also admire the work McCain did to promote boxing reform. But my admiration for Mr. "Hundred Year War" only goes so far. Even a fair amount of Republicans must realize by now that more of the same is not what this country needs at this point in time. If we dwelled in a day and age of booming prosperity, that would be one thing. But we are on the verge of a recession, at war for reasons that are scarcely comprehensible, and the gap between the haves and the have nots has never been wider. Those of you who have non-American friends surely have figured out by now that America is not seen by the world at large as so bright a beacon of all things wonderful as it used to be. For all the noise that has been made in debates about keeping illegal aliens out of this country, the fact is that if we maintain the current course the problem will go away on its own because nobody will want to come to the land of unprovoked aggression, a land where higher education and home ownership is not affordable to the many, a land that is controlled by the lobbyists of the few (why the heck does it need to be legal for me to buy a machine gun, illegal to buy a single joint, but perfectly legal to buy vodka by the gallons without so much as a prescription?). McCain would certainly be a better president than the current Bush and probably superior to the first one as well, but all in all he represents more of the same when it is pornographically obvious that we're in need of something different. As for Hillary Clinton, I respect both her and her husband, though I only particularly like Bill (I guess Chelsea is okay too so I'll stay tuned for her eventual run). Unlike Bill Clinton, Hillary simply does not inspire me. Perhaps if I was a woman I'd feel different, but I'm unwilling to have a sex change simply to discover her appeal. She and others have criticized Obama for being all style and no substance, but the truth is that there is much substance behind the ability to inspire and motivate and instill hope in millions of people. This is one of the main reasons why people remember JFK's presidency so fondly. It is one of the reasons why the also too brief life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to affect people. The ability to convince a nation to both do for themselves and for their country is a pretty useful one for its leader to have, and the primary results to date have made it abundantly clear that Barack Obama possesses far more of this quality than Clinton or McCain. His term of public service may be relatively brief but I am very impressed by what Obama accomplished as a community organizer and as a senator. Most of all I am incredibly impressed by what he has done over the past few months. Those reading these words may recall that he was considered a major long shot in the early days of the race for a variety of reasons. One of his biggest selling points was being an agent of change, but the novelty of the opportunity to elect a non-white male President was negated by Hillary's presence. They can both lay equal claim to the "agent of change" angle. Some went so far as to say Bill Clinton is "blacker" (whatever the heck that means) than Obama, which basically meant that Hillary was almost black by association, so the biracial Obama could barely lay claim to being the most African-American of the candidates. And let's face it, the man's name is Barack Husein Obama and he's running for president while this country is still feeling the aftereffects of 9/11 and is at war in the Middle East. He had the burden of assuring everyone that he is indeed Christian, not Muslim. Add these things up along with being the least experienced on paper candidate and Obama did not seem to have a prayer no matter what his religion was. It appeared that the most impressive thing he'd be able to accomplish was to get more votes than Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had before him. The force of his personality and I suppose his being the most attractive of the candidates (once pretty boy Edwards dropped out, that is) were pretty much all he had going for him. He entered the race as a man of grand ideals able to articulate them with much eloquence, which meant he'd probably be great as a talk show host or at least a pseduo-regular guest on Oprah, but could this be enough to propel him to the presidency? No way in hell. Well that was then and this is now. He has received more votes and raised more money than any other candidate. People believe in him as a reflection of believing in themselves and believing in better days ahead for this country. The people who support Obama are those who want their children to inherit a better world than the one passed down to them by their parents. These people are not enslaved by the cult of personality. They're simply individuals falling into just about every demographic who desire an alternative to simply being jaded as they watch the rich get rich and the rest get further disenfranchised. I believe overcoming what he has to date is a mighty strong indication that Barack Obama would be a fine President. McCain's biggest accomplishment to date has been to be a model POW, and Hillary's greatest feat is standing by her cheating man because her political aspirations were greater than her pride. Neither of these things trumps what Obama has accomplished IMHO. I didn't vote for him because he's under 70. I didn't cast my vote due to his race or his gender or his spouse. Slogans and catchphrases did noting to affect which lever I pulled in the ballot box, and negative attack ads only proved to me that the competition felt it was easier to pick on alleged flaws in him than to point out superior merits of their own case. As an American I think it would be nice to be represented at the top for a change by someone I am impressed by and proud of. Not only is Obama the only remaining candidate who was smart enough not to be initially duped into thinking we needed to wage war against people who had no WMD's and nothing whatsoever to do with the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, but I believe he's the only candidate who has not gained an unfair advantage by taking HGH and steroids (okay, you caught me, I made that up). The best thing about the upcoming Presidential election is that no matter which of the remaining candidates (including those wacky dreamers Huckabee Hound and Ron "4%" Paul) ends up getting elected, by default the next term will be a vast improvement over the current state of affairs.

    - Roy Pickering (Author of "Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella)

    Sunday, February 3, 2008

    Congratulations New York Giants

    When it comes to football, my love of the NY Jets is matched only by my disdain for the New England Patriots. Long before Spygate I felt that their coach was totally lacking in class. He's a sore loser and a bad sportsman and a traitor who can't take nearly as gleefully as he gives. Clearly the man knows his x's and o's, and his disciplinarian attitude has yielded results that cannot be argued against (so long as Tom Brady is slinging the rock for him). But the man is a proven cheater and an undisputed jerk. Even though I felt a Giants Super Bowl victory would further cement the Jets position as second class citizens on their own home turf, I decided this was preferable to watching the Patriots conclude a perfect season as champions of the NFL. Now that the smoke has cleared - the Manning brothers can officially consider themselves in the same class as the Williams sisters, Eli can officially tell Tiki Barber to kiss his a**, Michael Strahan has been rewarded for hanging in there one more season by earning his first Super Bowl victory, Jeremy Shockey's ego has been checked at the door, Don Shula and his undefeated Dolphins team from the 70's get to drink their champagne and do their infantile happy dance when all hope appeared lost, Tom Brady will of course be just fine and continue living a charmed life, Bostonites harshly return to sports reality, fans of the underdog who always pull for David to beat Goliath smile contentedly, and Bill Belichick (who may have outcoached himself by electing not to go for that field goal in a game they ended up losing by 3 points) at long last receives a taste of Humble Pie now that the Giants have shoved it in his face. As for those who get off on idolotry and are bummed by the back to back humanizing of Roger Federer and the Patriots, at least they still have the mastery of Tiger Woods to look up to.

    Google search find of the day -

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Good Reads

    My editor at SynergEbooks, publisher of Feeding the Squirrels, introduced me to a great site - It's an excellent place to go for reviews of well known as well as less publicized books, and a great many of the reviews are written by published writers. I am now one of the authors featured at this site and have penned a handful of reviews for books I've had the pleasure to read. Here is a link to my Good Reads profile page -

    Feeding the Squirrels: A Novella - Happy reading and reviewing!

    I wrote the words above back in January of 2008. Now in April of 2016 has reached 50 million posted reviews. Wow!  Congrats to Otis Chandler, and thank you GoodReads for being such a great site for book lovers.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2008

    Author Interview

    A fellow blogger has created an author interview blog and I had the privilege of being her second interviewee. It was a very enjoyable experience. Here's a link to our Q&A session.