Friday, October 27, 2017

Fangirl Rising

My heart goes tap tap tap
Like tapping on a beaker

~~ “Chemical Reaction” by *repeat repeat

The Handsome String Bean of Justice
Fangirl is on Cloud Nine.

I won’t go into how I was able to send an email to James Comey (Jaaaaaames) because I don’t want to disclose my methods. Fangirls have a code and I will not violate it. (We don’t really have a code. It’s more like my personal code.) I also won’t share his email on social media, which is also a personal code. And no, I am not a hacker. I wouldn’t even know how to go about that.

But I was able to send an email and it went through because I got a response today. When I saw that he had responded, I broke out into a sweat and I had this crazy rush of adrenaline. “What have I done?? Is he going to tell me to leave him alone and don’t ever write to him again?”

No. He was very kind and thanked me for my comments and wrote that he was happy to hear from South Bend because he has a connection with someone at Notre Dame (also not mentioning that here), so he tries to follow what is going on with ND. In my original email, I said that so many conversations are difficult in the current political atmosphere (or words to that effect) and that I like his thoughts on communication. He suggested a recent column by David Brooks about dealing with those who have different views and I checked it out. It was very thought-provoking.

I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I was! I know plenty of people still have issues with him. I get it. But if you spend any time listening to what he has to say (I have...just a wee bit), you start to understand where he was and is coming from. So I admire him a lot. I truly feel that he is one of the Good Guys. I am still stunned that he responded but he does seem to be a lot more open to some limited social media interaction since he has a book coming out. Lucky me!

So that pretty much made my weekend.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lawyer Up (subtitled Handsome String Bean of Justice)

Breakin' rocks in the hot sun
I fought the law and the law won

~~ “I Fought The Law” by The Clash (originally Sonny Curtis/The Bobby Fuller Four)

Based on comments I’ve seen on social media, I’m not the only one fascinated right now by the Mueller investigation. But I’m no lawyer, so how does one make sense of it all? There are bits and pieces of news coming out almost every day. So-and-so has been subpoenaed. What does it mean that so-and-so is refusing to appear before the Senate committee investigating the Russian meddling? Who can the Resident pardon, and can he pardon himself? Who does Team Mueller want to talk to now, and why? I think anyone who has dealt with a lawyer knows that the legalese is almost impossible to understand unless you have a legal background yourself. I don’t, so I have to look elsewhere. (Sadly, my lawyer friend Sheria is no longer with us, so I can’t ask her anymore. I can’t help but wonder what she would make of all this. I don’t doubt that she would be as appalled as I am.)

While I appreciate legal experts like Jeffrey Toobin on CNN, I’m finding that I prefer to read most of my news these days (listening on Sirius is another good option for me). It gives me enough separation that I don’t get riled up by the talking heads and I can try to parse and analyze it in greater depth. To that purpose, my absolute go-to on these matters is Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor who is currently working for a Chicago law firm and doing occasional commentary on MSNBC. (He is also considering a run for Illinois Attorney General.) I recommend his Twitter feed to everyone (he has a Facebook page, as well) because he is able to cut through the noise and make sense of complex legal issues for us laypeople. He does threads on Twitter that lay out the essential facts in a concise way that is easy to understand, and he is also willing to answer questions when he can. Obviously, the full extent of the legal intricacies can’t be addressed in that forum, but he does a great job of distilling the explanation down to the crucial facts. He’s one of the best “follows” on Twitter right now, in my opinion!

Although he’s not a lawyer (he’s a journalist who writes about legal matters), Benjamin Wittes is another great follow. He is a Fellow at the Brookings Institute and co-founded the Lawfare blog, which is a wonderful and valuable read. He also does threads on Twitter and has great insight into legal matters after years of journalism on such matters.

I will also mention here that he seems to be a genuinely decent guy. When I recently left a comment (one that I take full responsibility for not wording well—I knew what I meant in my head!), he misconstrued my meaning and retweeted me. It was great to be retweeted but it was for the wrong reason and resulted in a pile on of people telling me that I was delusional, in so many words. I scrambled to do damage control, and luckily, he immediately saw my response that I think he might have misunderstood me. I clarified, he apologized not once but twice, and he removed the retweet right away. He could have said, “Fuck it, I don’t know this woman,” and left it up there, but he didn’t. I really appreciate that! The people who were piling on also apologized, so it all worked out well.

Then there is Robert Mueller and his crack team who might just save the entire world. I’m sure there will be more about that as we move forward.

Finally, although he isn’t tweeting about the investigation (for obvious reasons), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my Former FBI Director Boyfriend in an Alternate Universe is tweeting again and the account is confirmed to be his. It’s been known for some months that a particular account was probably James Comey’s (Jaaaaaames), but it was private. This week, he took it public and after posting a photo that was obviously him, the followers started piling up. Wittes is a friend of Comey’s and also confirmed that it was his account. He promises to “tweet in useful ways” and it should be interesting to see what all he posts. Remember, he has a book coming out this spring! He should post a photo of him sitting at an old typewriter, reading glasses perched on his nose. “The author at work.” Haha! I would dig that photo.

What is amusing about Comey’s account is that some people were trying really hard to analyze what was going on with the handful of photos he posted. The gist of it was:
He’s in Iowa.
He’s wearing running shoes.
He’s running for President!
Okay, that’s kind of funny. But probably not a legitimate theory. I would be very surprised if he decided to run, first of all. The more significant thing is that his wife is from Iowa, and her father just celebrated his 90th birthday, per the Des Moines Register. So they were in town for a family birthday party.

Like the old medical school adage, when you hear hoofbeats, think horse, not zebra. Or like when I was doing my internship and we were learning about bacterial meningitis, a headache doesn’t mean you have probably means you have a tension headache, or a neck and backache from carting around all those medical books! (I did not have meningitis, although I was a little worried for a while there.)

Also, bonus points to the person who commented and called Comey a “handsome string bean of justice,” as well to the person who included a GIF of Leslie Jones flirting with Colin Jost on “Weekend Update.” If you can’t hear her voice as she calls Colin a handsome string bean of justice, you’re doing it wrong!

Here, have a Clash song. Yes, yes, I know it’s more of a protest song about the long arm of the law, but I’m using it here to convey that while the Yam and his Yampeople can try to obfuscate and run, the Law will win.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Beth’s Music Moment: A Live Twofer

There's just something
In that music that makes us
Do that dance
In that special brew of tears and
Beer and fear and romance

~~ “Another Guitar” by The Rainmakers

The amazing Richard Butler
Hey, pals! It’s been a while, but I’ve been busy with stuff like going on vacation, getting ready for a party, and just generally trying to take care of business in a world that seems to have gone quite mad.

But I’m still here and most importantly, I am still rocking out.

This is not in chronological order because I’m saving the best for last.

This past Wednesday, we went up to Chicago to see The Psychedelic Furs at Thalia Hall. I’ve been a Furs fan since the early ‘80s, and like many of the ‘80s bands, I took a hiatus over the years but revisited them recently and loved them all over again. When I saw that they were playing in Chicago, I knew that I had to see them live. I’m happy to report that they absolutely blew me away. Ken wasn’t a long-time fan like I am, but he was blown away, too. He agreed that we’ll go see them whenever we get a chance!

Richard and Tim Butler
They sounded incredible—one of the tightest bands I’ve ever heard live. They looked fantastic, with the Butler brothers, lead singer Richard and bassist Tim, wearing these super cool military-style frock coats. They looked just as cool as they did back in the day! And Richard Butler...good lort. I’ve always loved his voice and it was as powerful as ever. He has that deep-edged baritone with a slight raspiness to it, but still smooth as silk. And what a frontman! As soon as he stepped onto the stage, he owned it. There wasn’t a lot of banter with the audience beyond “Hello, Chicago!” but his presence said everything that needed to be said.

The best part, and something that I always notice whenever I see a band, is that they all seemed to be having a good time, especially Richard. The camaraderie and affection seemed genuine to me, as did Richard Butler’s smile. He has that elusive quality of stage presence and talent and he worked us all for everything he could. I was mesmerized!

Absolutely in my top ten concerts (I should probably try to make that list again soon) and I look forward to seeing them again!

Speaking of stage presence, I’ll go back a few days and talk about our fourth house show with Bob Walkenhorst, the Kansas City musician and artist. He is the frontman for The Rainmakers but also travels to do house shows. We have enjoyed these shows so much that this was the fourth in a row and this one was so amazing that the bar is set really high to top it!

Bob Walkenhorst (Photo by Jenn Riches)
We have a crew who usually attends these shows and they were in full force on Saturday. It was a full house. I told Bob the next day that I’m not sure if it was just the atmosphere in the country, or what, but it was like we were all primed for something special. Planets aligned or some shit like that. I don’t know, but everything converged to result in one of the most amazing evenings I’ve ever experienced.

Bob sang his heart out (including a couple of my requests), he told stories about the songs, he talked about my experience seeing The Rainmakers way back in the late ‘80s, he welcomed us all and made us a part of his world as much as we made him a part of ours. As he wrote in the song quoted at the beginning of this entry, it was a special brew. It was certainly an intoxicating one. I wrote him a letter a couple of days later and said that it was that amazing dynamic between a performer and an audience where we feed off of each other. It’s nothing less than synergy! The very day that letter went out, I got an email from him in which he said that it was one of the best nights he’s ever had playing and that he was in heaven. I believe him because after four years, I know that Bob is not a bullshitter (and I have a pretty good BS detector, anyway). He said it wasn’t just him, it was US, and the “common desire to FEEL something.”

That is it exactly. That connection is amazing and it is one that I treasure. I feel music so deeply and it means so much to me. What a wonderful thing to enjoy a performer like Bob who connects on the same level and is able to bring us all to the Promised Land. (I’d dare to say that based on Richard Butler’s performance and demeanor, he feels that same connection with his audience.)

We also had a little dance party after Bob’s performance and let’s just say that booties were shaken and selves were gotten down! (A lampshade may or may not have been worn. I can neither confirm nor deny that. But it wasn’t me!)

In the space of a few short days, I got to enjoy two utterly amazing performances from two amazing artists, Bob Walkenhorst and the Furs, and it renewed whatever passes for my soul. This is why live music is so important and absolutely vital for me. I am often moved by recordings that I listen to, but nothing—NOTHING—beats seeing a band or performer live. Other planes and other dimensions are reached. Hearts are touched, minds are sometimes changed, and as Bob said, we “FEEL something.”

Support musicians, especially your local musicians, by going to see them live! And as I always say, be sure to show the band some love. Chances are good that you’ll get some back and everyone benefits from that.

Rock on, Warriors!