Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Thank You Note to Sandy (9_9)*

By Meg Curtis, PhD

Dear Sandy,

Thank you for dropping water balloons on our national buffoons.

Thank you for changing our programming from Uncle Sam to Mother Nature.

Thank you for demonstrating that knowledge of science is more than a grade on a teleprompter.

Thank you for providing material for at least a few well-deserved Pulitzers.

Thank you for staying away until now.


Your fan, Meg

*Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. 

Maggie Gets Ready for Sandy (9_9)*

By Meg Curtis, PhD

You brought your summer furniture in from the patio, right? This is important because, if you don’t, Sandy may blow it through your windows. I learned this lesson when I lived in a Gothic Village in Pennsylvania.

There, an exquisite jewelry store suffered trauma when Andrew hit town (aka Hurricane Andrew, in 2004). The store held fast, but debris hit the glass entrance, bashing a hole and letting the flood in faster than a burglar.

The entire inventory escaped with the water. It flowed down the street, leaving the owners to chase after it, seeking diamond rings and gold  hearts in refuse. I cry every time I think of their wicked misadventure.

So, I determined to clean the plastic table on my balcony before Sandy has her way with my belongings. My plan: to bring the table into the living room, and let it recover from spiders and moths taking refuge under the rim.

This undertaking took longer than planned, of course. My dog accompanied me as he always does. The manager type, he never trusts me to know what I’m doing without his oversight. He lay down and watched closely.

My cat observed every move through the screen and glass doors dividing the balcony from the living room. He checked for any live prey which might give him the thrill he’s waiting for. Disappointment never stopped him.

The two of them had their paws full for a good twenty minutes as I cleaned and checked for spider webs, lost wings, and extra legs. The table looked pretty good, so I returned it to its winter residence, in my living room.

While rolling the table top through the doors, I met the dog going, and the cat coming. This might be his one chance to catch the birds he fancies when he’s not keeping his eyes on me. He shimmied, but I caught him.

An indoor cat, Chopin boasts a long history of his own misadventures with electrical cords. How’s he’s alive after chewing through five live connections mystifies scientists to this day. He talks about it all the time.

I caught the door just in time as he poked his cute nose where it doesn’t belong—into the outside world, on the patio, where he could easily leap to the trees, and be on his way to Buffalo or even Cleveland.

Slam! He rose on two legs on the inside with me on the balcony by myself. Thank goodness. Now I could clean without worrying about either of my assistants. They mean well, but you know how assistants can be.

I pulled the glass door to take the table’s legs inside to the living room at last. Uh-oh! It wouldn’t budge. I pushed and pulled like a stevedore, but there I stood, in 43 degree weather--alone, with four animal eyes staring at me. 

To be continued—

*Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Perfect Storm: Perfect Campaign Story

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Political rhetoric whipping around the US creates currents for collision of massive forces. First, the media keeps harping that the race is “tight.” Each time this report goes forth, streams of fury drive the candidates into the “swing states,” where they sling charges like cyclones at each other.

Meanwhile, the nation readies for Halloween, praying that the Perfect Storm of 1991 does not return to savage the Mid-Atlantic region.  Computer models disagree about Hurricane Sandy’s landfall, intensifying anxiety from the Carolinas to Maine. Should we batten the hatches until November 6?

If this scenario were the perfect movie, we might be more confident we would survive its whiplash. But, like the oracles of ancient Rome, the media enjoy their emotion-fueled power. Voters demand the future: Who will win, WHO? Storytellers know when it’s time to pull the covers over our heads.

For an overview of weather predictions, see Steve Lyttle’s report for the Charlotte Observer at

For CNN’s augury of numbers, see

Kerfuffle among the Fashionistas (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Reporters face a puzzle in October 2012. Across the ocean from America, the Daily Mail posed the mystery this way: “Why the fashion industry appears to be snubbing Mitt’s wife.”

Speaking for Fashionista, Hayley Phelan answered the question “Why the Fashion Industry Won’t Embrace Ann Romney”: “Well, for one, it’s because the fashion industry, in general, tends to lean to the left.”

Neither publication denies the phenomenon. Neither apologizes for the “snub.” Analysts may be working overtime, however, to solve mysteries while the fashion industry’s favoritism could not be clearer.

Model agencies prefer their clothes racks to be as young as possible. If a candidate’s wife were thirteen and pouting for the camera, with her legs curled up on her divan, they’d probably tear out their checkbooks, too.

The anorexic look has scandalized the industry for years, prompting protests from the parents of teenagers fighting for their health and longevity.

Selected ad agencies have fought with the fashion industry as well, offering realistic models in sizes 12 and 14, featuring a bloom on faces and fully rounded figures, often favored by men.

These scandals come to public attention most egregiously in the case of Tavi Gevinson. Huff Post Style headlined her genius this way on October 25, 2012:

“Tavi Gevinson: 13-Year-Old Fashion Blogger Skips School, Attends Fashion Week.”

Now Tavi gets to describe herself for the national media, courtesy of Huff Post:

“Tiny 13 year old dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats. Scatters black petals on Rei Kawakubo's doorsteps and serenades her in rap. Rather cynical and cute as a drained rat. In a sewer. Farting. And spitting out guts.

Huff Post Style reports that Tavi’s reward for posting such “malarkey”—a good word, thanks to Joe Biden—was this extravaganza: “Tavi got Fashion Week’s most coveted ticket: a seat at the Marc Jacobs show Monday night.”   

Are those eyes rolling, Loyal Readers? (9_9) (9_9) (9_9) Does anyone wonder anymore why the fashion industry does not fawn over Ann Romney?

*Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shape-Shifting on Screen: Tales of Val Lewton

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Val Lewton inspired the cinematic threat of a woman shifting into a cat.  His story “The Bagheeta” provided the raw material for the two great Cat People movies, made in 1942 and 1982—forty years apart, but no less thrilling. In “Val Lewton: Haunted by Shadows,” Graeme Hurry explains: 

“Vladimir Ivan Lewton was born on the 7th of May 1904, in Yalta in Russia.” After arriving in New York, and attending Columbia University, “In 1930 he had a short story published in Weird Tales. Called The Bagheeta[;] the story is set in his native Ukraine and …deals with a woman who shape-shifts into a leopard.”

The tales which Lewton carried to New York in his imagination may include “The Cat and the Cock,” available on the Russian Crafts website, along with other Eastern treasures. In this one story, the capture and imprisonment themes frame the Aesopian adventures. Readers may also recognize the tit-for-tat theme writ very large here.

The Cat People movies forego the rooster—and rush straight for the leopard, Lewton’s signature from his story “The Bagheeta.” With this stroke of genius, he laid the groundwork for his production of Cat People in 1942 for RKO. Simultaneously, Lewton paved the way for the 1982 remake of Cat People starring Nastassia Kinski and Malcolm McDowell, with a theme song by David Bowie.   

The astonishing difference between the two Cat People movies may be the ending. In the first film, the feline female returns to her cage to be killed. In the second, the female feline returns to her cage to survive—but under imprisonment. What does this change in plot-line say about women and cats, panthers and sex, as the decades tumbled? The central female feline role may evolve from pest to pet.

In America, so far from Russia, the animal often known as the “cougar” suffered a torturous history. According to “The Florida Panther—Introduction, FPL,” “The Florida panther was given endangered species status in 1973 under the federal Endangered Species Act and is protected under the Wildlife Code of the State of Florida and the Florida Panther Act of 1978.”

Then, the FPL informs us that the panther returned in symbolic form forever: “In 1982, the panther was designated by the legislature as the official Florida state mammal.” Nevertheless, understanding panthers remains an anxiety-ridden business: “Studying these secretive animals is difficult and time consuming. Researchers spend more of their time tracking and searching for and interpreting signs rather than observing panthers first hand,” the FPL Booklet emphasizes. 

So, between the two versions of Cat People, these creatures of legend disappeared—until heartbroken people called them to grace our landscape again with their silky sensuous hunting skills. With their return, mythology comes to life both inside and outside theaters. Val Lewton deserves extraordinary credit for discerning how easily the hunter becomes the hunted—male or female, big cat or small, in America and Russia.

For a host of Russian folktales translated into English, see

For the tragic history of the Florida Panther, see “(Quotations from this booklet of 250 words or less are permitted when accompanied by a credit line reading ‘Reprinted from The Florida Panther, Copyright 1996 Florida Power & Light Company.’ Brief excerpts, such as selected sentences, may be identified by a reference to the booklet and FPL.)” 

Do Americans Worship Bastet and Anubis? (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

While we fight like cats and dogs over each election, who rules in America? The family dog sets us apart from cultures which consider him/her/it unclean. The same ensconced creature separates us from cultures which insist that canines work for a living. That dog may be a guardian, companion, babysitter, or even a sharp dancer, but will we keep him if he spends all his time testing mattresses? Hollywood says: You bet we will!

While films vary in his portrayal from Cujo to Lassie, he sits at the center of American culture like a statue of Anubis, waiting for a pat on the head. The Humane Society of the United States reports, “There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States.” The same organization reports, “There are approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the United States.” Are these Christian numbers, by any biblical standards?

Added together, 164.6 million cats and dogs reign across the country. Add to that number animals which run wild, hang out, or hide under bushes, and the total must exceed 200 million.  Compare that figure with the US Census Bureau’s human population total for 2011: 311,591,917. The result reveals slightly less than two pets for every three people here. No wonder we fight like cats and dogs. We might as well be the Cat and Dog People.

Ancient Egyptians developed an appropriate vocabulary for this phenomenon. They named the cat through which deities radiated their characteristics Bastet. They named the dog through which deities radiated their characteristics Anubis. The Pitt Rivers Museum website concludes: “The ‘sacred animal industry’ supplied considerable employment and also provided tax income to the Pharaohs.”

Does America not delight in its “sacred animal industry,” too? While cats enjoy raw spaghetti, curled cellophane, or even paper napkins as toys, nevertheless shops offer cat toys with fur and leather tails. Similarly, dogs appreciate carrots and peanut butter for treats, yet American dog owners purchase carrot and peanut butter-flavored treats. This extravagance signals much more than Lassie Come Home.

For the Humane Society’s complete report on American pet ownership, see

For a variety of US statistics, see

For the Pitt Rivers Museum website, see

Monday, October 22, 2012

It’s Complicated: A Movie or a Campaign? (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Divorce emerges as the great theme of Fall 2012. Can Meryl Streep finally divorce the charming Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated? Can the American public divorce itself from infatuation, too? Charmers convince you they’re in love with you. Examination of their campaign posters, though, shows the object of their affection—and, Honey, it ain’t YOU!

In this superb comedy, Meryl Streep bedazzles both her bedazzled men, her family and--always!--her audience. Sure, she fell in love with that playboy when she was young and silly. Now, though, her eyes sparkle as she sees through his endless come-ons—and goof-offs. She realizes she will be swinging forever in limbo if she believes his advertising appeal lasts a lifetime.

As her wannabe, maybe, sometimes husband, Alec Baldwin also gives a performance of a lifetime. Could anyone do better as a frustrated politician, who can’t resist romancing every woman he encounters, making them believe that only he possesses the key to their hearts—and, Honey, it ain’t abortion! (9_9) Sexting his own ex-wife proves his downfall. Better cover up that belly, Ally! (9_9)

As her new partner, Steve Martin also proves the perfect choice in It’s Complicated. Who better understands comedy than this veteran of Saturday Night Live, the Straight Man of the Year? He can’t stand less than honest commitment. He wins her, loses her, and wins her again in good cinematic fashion. This plot-line mirrors political polls, showing the Good Guy can still win women voters!

Seriously, folks, as that consummate comedian Johnny Carson would say, can voters pretend their hearts were not broken when they voted for the history books, instead of on the issues? If you remain a big fan of unemployment, marriage to infatuation remains a possibility. But, Honey, once you get youthful indiscretion out of your system, (9_9) your choice is not really complicated anymore.

*Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. 

Memo to City Mouse (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Regarding Obama’s appraisal of small-town Americans as follows:

“It’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Thank you for your charitable characterization of small-town America. These words reveal respect for the First Amendment, promising freedom of religion, of course. (9_9) May we assume that Christianity was on your list of religions covered by that document—or did you never teach Constitutional Law in the city?

Did your course also cover the Second Amendment? It promises the right to bear arms, of course.  In the country, snakes are common.  Are you going to run to our aid when that rattler’s alarm goes off, ten feet from our children? Or maybe you spend your many vacations golfing, (9_9) instead of hunting, which we do to provide food for our families, too?

Do you really believe that ONLY small-town Americans object to your bigotry? (9_9) That we are the ONLY ones who object to your administration’s policies, including your refusal to defend the sovereignty of the US by closing its borders to invasions? Did you study the principle of SOVEREIGNTY in your legal courses?

We have visited the city, by the way. We CHOOSE to live in small-town America. Here, we endure close to God’s green earth, instead of empty warehouses, unemployment lines which reach around blocks, and crime rates which you have done nothing to lower. Don’t lecture us on being Americans. Study your law books. Then get back to us.

Read more:

*  Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eat Pray Love: No Chick-Lit Story

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

The Un-American Dream appeals to viewers tired of money, money, money. That may be a hard ad to sell during this economic siege, but Julia Roberts begins this movie possessing advantages commonly envied in America: a glamorous job, marriage to a hottie, a retirement plan, and even a dream house. So, why does she start talking to God NOW?

“Hello, God….I’m in serious trouble….Tell me what to do,” she says. All the answers to her heavenly inquiries make no sense, beginning with her decision to divorce a man who loves her. Where will she find another? She finds one only too fast, and runs away again, fearing loss of self to her lover. Infatuation ruled her life: What will replace romantic obsession?

Her guru advises her to learn pleasure. Maybe she never knew its meaning any more than the Rolling Stones, who kept screaming: “Can’t Get No Satisfaction!” Wholeness in life enchants her; she finds no substitute worth pursuing. If Julia Roberts’ looks did not distract her audience, they would recognize the plot-line of this drama immediately: midlife crisis.

Her husband fights divorce because he claims she IS his “dream,” but fakery no longer possesses his fantasy female. Thus, she undertakes the road that leads to NOWHERE, the destination which readers of Samuel Butler’s novel EREWHON will recognize immediately. This book commonly functions as an entry in Utopian British Literature, but Butler dismissed that claim.

Wikipedia records Butler’s perspective on his treatment of supposed utopias, visions of perfect locations and societies: 

     “Butler developed the three chapters of Erewhon that 
     make up 'The Book of the Machines' from a number of 
     articles that he had contributed to The Press, which 
     had just begun publication in Christchurch, New 
     Zealand, beginning with ‘Darwin among the 
     Machines.’ (1863) Butler was the first to write about 
     the possibility that machines might develop 
     consciousness by Darwinian Selection.”

Eat Pray Love attacks the same dilemma from the opposite end: What happens when a woman discovers she behaves like a machine, and meaning has disappeared from her life, along with joy? No chick lit here—instead equal opportunity for men to discover the same —even if they must venture to the ends of the earth to return alive. If change appeals to political candidates, as well as voters, ironically this movie says: Change always begins with them—and it must come from within.

For a review of Samuel Butler’s treatment of Darwin and Evolution, see

Saturday, October 20, 2012

America: Home of the Brave Debate? **

By Margaret Curtis, PhD
Since the third US presidential debate fast approaches, and voters suffer fatigue from Biden’s same old “stuff”—and Candy Crowley’s answers—here come questions which require the candidates to think outside the box:
1.   What did Obama organize in Chicago, aside from his campaign base?
2.   What did the candidates do to prepare them to be US Commander-in-Chief?
3.   How can the candidates immediately improve safety in Forbes’ list of the 10 most dangerous cities in America?
4.   Should prisoners have the right to vote?
5.   Can senators and congresspersons develop the courage to cut their own benefits, demonstrating their solidarity with American citizens?
6.   How can the US meet the challenge of the Chinese educating students in English, while America practices social passing of students?
7.   What can protect Americans from security breaches of the internet?
8.   Why should women have the exclusive right to choose abortion?
9.   Why are this writer’s favorite boots made in China?
10.               How can religion and democracy demonstrate their compatibility in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, China, and America?
Candidates hardly need to agree on solutions to difficult challenges facing the US, but it would hearten voters to witness these individuals engaging in rigorous intellectual activity, as required by the above inquiries. By contrast, the verbal equivalent of a street brawl satisfies no one.
Only the excruciating exercise of thinking on one’s feet—without a teleprompter and without prepared questions—demonstrates competency for the highest office in the land. An American president experiences surprise after surprise, and he better be good at thinking per se, or step aside and let the better man pass him on the freeway to a better America.  
** This symbol indicates a hornet's nest column.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Playing Twenty-Two Questions

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

When Bill Moyers’ interview with James Balog aired this week, the two agreed that the presidential candidates still need to answer questions about climate change. Their observation inspires a barrage of questions for the remaining debates:

·  Are you willing to support cutting pensions and benefits for senators and congresspersons?
·  National sovereignty—How do YOU define it?
·  What is your stand on legal vs. illegal immigration?
·  Global drought—How will the US meet the food challenge?
·  How can we improve academic achievement in America?
·  How can we rid our inner cities of gangs?
·  How can we convince Americans that taking drugs for recreational purposes is NOT cool?
·  What is the best job training available in the US?
·  What is the best child care system in the world?
·  Are you willing to tell young Americans to pull their pants up?
·  How do you explain US policy in Libya?
·  How do you explain US policy in Mexico?
·  Do you support political campaign reform?
·  How quickly can the US repair its crumbling infrastructure?
·  How can the US improve its foreign language skills?
·  How can the US improve its intelligence gathering?
·  How can the president facilitate cooperation between the FBI and CIA?
·  What is the best use of the president’s bully pulpit?
·  What role should insurance companies play in determining health care policies in America?
·  Explain the relationship between the states and federal government, according to the US Constitution.
·  Does the federal government have the right NOT to enforce US borders?
·  Would you like to see your daughters become teachers in the US?

Please feel free to add questions to this list. The most important issues may lie outside the usual talking points. They may also startle both moderators and candidates, who may habitually divide material into republican and democrat categories whereas questions like #1 above, for example, strike to the heart of the need for reform in DC.   

Will Height Determine the Debate Winner? (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

At 6’1”, Obama enjoys considerable leverage over voters, since statistics reveal that “some observers have noted that the taller of the two major-party candidates tends to prevail, and argue this is due to the public’s preference for taller candidates,” according to Wikipedia’s records.

Interestingly, Joe Biden swings into this height competition at 6 feet flat, with his head just tucking in below his superior’s, according to the same source.

Now comes the challenge: Romney reports for the debate at 6’2”, two inches shorter than the tallest presidents on record: Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson, who both prevailed over civil discord. So, has Nature given the challenger an advantage?

But here is the other statistic which Wikipedia omits. The internet answers the question “How tall is Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin?” with this information: “Paul Ryan…is listed as 6 feet 2 inches tall. Romney is also listed as 6 feet 2 inches tall.”

Together then, the Republican ticket enjoys an advantage of three inches over the Democrat incumbents. However, the internet immediately declares Michelle Obama’s height as 5’11”, while Chatter Busy reveals Ann Romney’s height as 5’8”.

This data provides additional evidence that the 2012 presidential race remains tight indeed. What the Lord giveth with one hand, He taketh away with the other. Add three inches for the men, and subtract them for the wives. How tight can one race be? (9_9)

See this website for further information on Ann Romney’s data:

* Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes. (9_9)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baumgartner leapt ahead--Obama didn’t. (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Does anybody doubt that Baumgartner made that record-breaking leap today? Of course, no doubt, on Tuesday, Obama may contend again that “somebody else did that.” Good luck, Barack! That leap has already gone viral on YouTube, and the democrat candidate wasn’t the one in the parachute. (9_9)

And, yes, others helped Baumgartner achieve his goal, but have any of them claimed credit for another man’s daring-do? Not yet, Barack. Does the democrat candidate have the nerve to say to Baumgartner’s face: “You didn’t do that.”? (9_9)

This writer wouldn’t have the audacity to make that claim to Tiger Woods, either, or John Glenn, Mohammed Ali, Johnny Carson, Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington. At attitude like that shows when a man is against the ropes—and he faces real “leadership.” (9_9)

* Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for rolling eyes.   

Shopping on Sunday: The American Festival

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Do you shop on Sunday? This activity once was taboo, but now the place to meet and greet friends proves to be the local grocery or drug store. So, does this behavior demonstrate, as polls seem to indicate, that Americans are less religious in their attitudes than they once were?

Perhaps conclusions depend on the purpose of those trips. Observe closely how neighbors loom over products as if they were treasures. They pull their children along, too, and behave with extraordinary courtesy—at least in Dunkirk, New York. They nod and smile, even when they encounter strangers. They don’t show road rage at the check-out counters. They don’t scream about parking places. They just appear to be doing exactly what they should on this sacred day.

With Thanksgiving approaching, maybe this possibility deserves consideration. We live in America, where no religion police threaten us. We enjoy the right to practice Thanksgiving and Halloween any way we wish. We stock up on the bounty of our country seven days a week, but, on Sunday, we go all out to find and relish those tiny packages which seem Heaven-sent. The perfect squash? Oh, glory be! The hat that looks like a bear’s head? Oh, perfect for that boy! Gifts, gifts galore pour out of our stores, and are we grateful?

We collect the treasures we find waiting, and store them away for the great Thanksgiving coming—and the Great Masquerade, Halloween, and the Great Holiday of a Child’s Birth, Christmas. We prepare and prepare, just like Boy and Girl Scouts. What behavior could be more religious than this: To celebrate this nation’s productivity and success by contributing pennies which sales allow to the good farmers and merchants who keep our country running, and give us reason to be thankful that God put us here—and not somewhere else?  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Barack Obama: Does He Use A Body Double? (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

In Mr. Manners: Lessons from Obama on Civility, the great-great- granddaughter of Emily Post defends this candidate’s superior grasp of etiquette in the most delicate encounters. The Emily Post Institute advertisement for this book declares:

       His intelligence and good looks notwithstanding, there’s 
       no doubt President Obama’s courteousness played a 
       significant role in his swift and historic rise to the highest 
       office in the land. (9_9)

This description runs counter to the following incidents, which prompt the question: Is this the same man who

1.    lectured Supreme Court Justices on THEIR job when protocol required they remain silent at a State of the Union address? (9_9)
2.    degraded small town voters who he said, “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” (9_9)
3.    insulted sales personnel by saying Romney didn’t demonstrate leadership at the first debate, just “salesmanship”? (9_9)
4.    inspired CEO Steve Wynn to shout: “I’ll be damned if I want to have him lecture me about small business and jobs. I’m a job creator. Guys like me are job creators and we don’t like having a bulls’eye painted on our back….”
5.    chose an attack dog to ridicule Paul Ryan? (9_9)

If these two men described above can fit in the same suit, one must be mighty small. Or maybe the US has advanced to a phase where our nation’s leaders use body doubles, too? Either way, as Obama said about Romney: There must be two Obamas. Which Obama are these people talking about?

For the complete advertisement of Mr. Manners, see

* Readers of this column recognize the emoticon for Rolling Eyes.

Was Obama “too polite”? (9_9)*

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Following his debate debacle, President Obama said he was “too polite” in his responses to Mitt Romney. Furthermore, Obama promised that “Joe will be Joe” Biden when debating Paul Ryan. Obama’s idea of manners thus comes before us for evaluation.

Who knew that keeping one’s head down and glued to a lectern shows “good manners” when performing for the American public? Maybe this debate should have occurred in a foreign country, some place like Saudia Arabia, maybe, where Obama also bowed his head? (9_9)

But, on that famous occasion, Obama met the King of Saudia Arabia. So, is Obama now showing us that he believes Romney has already won the election, and deserves to be treated like a monarch? Or did Obama assume Romney would bow to him?

Bad news either way: The US has been a democracy since George Washington made his own “tough decision.” America’s first president enjoyed the opportunity to become the first King of America. History buffs know he turned it down. Is History still being taught in the USA? (9_9)

Does Obama now claim his background includes a degree in  etiquette, too? Did Obama learn his concept of manners at Harvard? But, if he did, how could Romney go so far astray from a culture which requires bowing and scraping before the Commander-in-Chief? (9_9)

This must be another lesson in lifelong learning. On the other hand, maybe Obama could run for King of Chicago? Biden could run for King of Philadelphia, where Rizzo’s associates could crown him in a celebration of Love and Brotherhood. And Queen Elizabeth could tutor Obama in manners before the next debate.

* Readers of this column will recognize the emoticon for rolling eyes.      

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stephanie Cutter: The Golden Girl?

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Blonde and brazen, Stephanie Cutter might be a democrat Ann Coulter, if her goldy locks were longer. As it is, her job appears to be spinning straw into gold faster than the poor girl in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin. 

Officially, Cutter holds the position of Deputy Campaign Manager for the Obama presidential campaign. Unofficially, she revealed her talents this week when her work appeared to rival Rumpelstiltskin’s, telling tales which confound belief.

In her column Right Turn for the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin cut to the chase when she titled her post for October 11, 2012, “Cutter: Libya is only a campaign issue.” Rubin’s attack occurred on the day of the VP debate. Her attack gained strength when Cutter appeared on camera following the debate, refusing to speak of failure, her voice high and her breathing rapid.

As a campaign worker, Cutter obviously tackles unseemly challenges. As a character in the Grimm Brothers' anthology, she appears dead set on creating her own fairy tales, where the girl with the golden hair smiles brightly into the camera while America wonders where its treasure has gone. 

Wonks, Winks, and Wonkettes

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

If Paul Ryan is a “wonk,” does anybody know what that word means? When internet research returns information on “wonk,” the first hit brings up “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Meanwhile, an article appears on the internet declaring chocolate God’s gift to creative thinkers. So, if somebody’s got a chocolate factory, a “wonk” should probably be running it.

Following that line of thought, if DC needs a new Sugar Daddy, because the chocolate factory’s broken, who could do better than Joe Biden? He likes to emphasize that he’s a blue collar factory man. He comes originally from Pennsylvania, where Hershey has its very own town. But nobody seems to accuse Biden of being a “wonk”—just Ryan. Not even the first VP Debate moderator risked telling Biden to “shut up” when he kept interrupting on stage like a heckler.

Was Biden’s performance consciously designed to appeal to the urban crowd, as in New York City, infamously branded recently as the rudest city in America? Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager for Obama’s campaign, might possess the answer to that question, but nobody’s accused her of being a wonkette, either. Sugar syrup appears to be her specialty—drizzled adroitly over every nut and fruit in Willy Wonka’s factory. 

Voters curious about Willie Wonka’s history can review the plot-line from his famous cinematic story: “A poor boy wins the opportunity to tour the most eccentric and wonderful candy factory of all,” according to IMDb at Voila! A new description of DC appears in American politics. This summary of Biden’s biography simultaneously makes sense after all.

Time Healthland updates the Willie Wonka Factory story by announcing scientists’ recommendations to eat chocolate if a Nobel Prize is the goal. “Secret to Winning a Nobel Prize?” it asks. The answer: “Eat More Chocolate.” Of course, chocolate candy contains caffeine, which would explain a candidate’s behavior when he can’t keep his mouth shut long enough to let a wonk speak, whoever that might be.