Monday, June 30, 2008

The Reading Pile

There's a stack of books next to my bed. Actually there are several of them on my nightstand, divided into two with hardbacks and three with paperbacks. More than enough reading to keep me really busy for a few months. I read a little at night and a lot over lunch. Lately, I've forgotten to pack a lunch book.

Sometimes a book will jump the line and demand to be read ahead of anything in the queue, even books in progress. When Janis Ian's autobiography, Society's Child, arrived via express shipping on Friday, along with the special autobiographical Greatest Hits double CD, it definitely jumped the line. I finished it first thing Monday morning, after digging into it late Friday night when I should have gone to sleep.

Wow. What a life. And what an inspiration.

The first time I saw Janis Ian was on the 1967 Leonard Bernstein special, Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution. (Somewhere in my stored belongings is a reel-to-reel sound recording I made of that show.) She had a hit record at 14 with Society's Child, a song banned pretty much everywhere--certainly one that would not be played on my local sunrise-to-sunset AM station. Leonard Bernstein was determined to have people hear the song of the ending of an interracial relationship. In the prologue to the autobiography, she describes the scene at an Encino, California venue, where members of the audience start to taunt her with a phrase we could all hope was a thing of the past, but sadly isn't. At 14, it was terrifying. It would be frightening at any age.

What I also found interesting was her description of finding a place to eat somewhere in this "rural area" after the show. My law office was on Ventura Boulevard in Encino. Rural it no longer is (despite the one remaining farm and farm stand--Tapia Brothers--just north of the 101 freeway at Hayvenhurst Avenue), but a mere 42 years ago, it still was. I'm trying to picture that by remembering back to the days when Long Island still had huge potato farms which are now housing developments.

There was an interesting juxtaposition for me with this book: Saturday Night Live reran its very first episode over the weekend, as a tribute to George Carlin. Janis Ian was one of the two musical guests. She was riding high with At Seventeen, her second monster hit record. As I often do, I sat talking to the television. "Janis, the song is over. Smile." While it never works when I try to tell a Jeopardy contestant the answer, she did finally smile at the applause. In the one paragraph she devotes to this event in her life, it turns out she arrived in New York to do the show with a fever of 103 and a throat that felt like she was swallowing glass. No wonder she wasn't smiling.

At Seventeen is a song that just resonates with my experience as a teenager. I now really believe that most teenagers feel ugly and alone, but at the time I was 14, I knew I was an outcast. When Janis wrote the song, she did not think anyone would identify with it. Amazing. As I like to say, living well is the best revenge for being at the bottom of the food chain at any point in your life.

Janis' life is filled with incredible highs and lows. She's overcome a number of betrayals and serious brushes with death. She had a run-in with a sadistic IRS agent after learning her business manager had mismanaged her affairs and it took her years to work her way out of the debt that had built up. Her song This Train Still Runs is an anthem to overcoming adversity.

The prose is accessible and flowing. It isn't a long read--a little over 300 pages--but it is very entertaining and touching. Each chapter is a song title, with a few lines of lyrics preceding the text. It will be released later this month. Janis will be in New York for the release at an event on July 24 at the Columbus Circle Borders. She's on tour this year and does signings after most of her shows. She's a terrific performer and I recommend her live shows to you all.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Janis Ian at the World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia in 2001. Robert Silverberg's wife, the lovely and talented Karen Haber, did the honors. She and Janis are about the same size and look like they could have been sisters separated at birth. Janis had just met Connie Willis and announced that to us, adding "I need to go to the bathroom and throw up." In her book, she talks about going to this convention and the emotional experience of meeting Connie and the other writers she had long admired.

A few years later, same convention, different city, Janis planned to sit in a line to get Harlan Ellison to autograph her much loved copy of Dangerous Visions. She had arranged for her partner, Pat, to sit in the growing line so Janis herself could see Harlan's solo event at the convention. As she told me of her plan, I said "no, no, no. There's no reason for you or Pat to lose that much of your day and Pat should get to see Harlan perform as well. I'll take care of it." Harlan was as thrilled to meet her ("I have all your albums in vinyl") as she was to meet him. It was adorable.

Janis was one of the first performers to sign on to iTunes and she makes some downloads available for free from her own website at this link. I particularly recommend Married in London, which is unreleased elsewhere. Donations for the music, and other purchase made on the website, go to the Pearl Foundation, named for Janis' mother. The Pearl Foundation funds scholarships for mature students at a variety of colleges. Since I myself once benefited from a grant aimed at women who return to school after time away (the grant from the American Association of University Women helped pay for my first year at law school), I think this is a very worthy cause.

Friday, June 27, 2008

It's a Small World

I'm not terribly proficient at Facebook. I've joined because Len did and I was curious. I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do on it. Blogging really suits me better. But this morning, when I dropped by Len's page with the intention of thanking him for the egg that hatched into an Arabian horse, did I ever stop short:

"Len Wein and Bob Woodward are now friends."

What the....? Half of Woodstein? The half that was an editor at the Washington Post when I was a freelance photographer? The one I'd see occasionally as I'd walk through the fifth floor newsroom on my way to the photo department? The one whose books I've actually read? Not that he'd know me from a hole in the ground, but he just might remember my photo credit--I shot for the Post for five years.

Oh, I can't wait to find out how this happened.

Does Bob Woodward read comics?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Gayle called to let me know that one of the horses in Ace's barn appears to have the same virus or flu that one of the horses in her barn had a couple of weeks ago. It's airborne and there isn't anything the vet can really do except give a shot of banimine and wait it out. The symptoms are similar to colic and there's a lack of interest in food. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Poor horse. Since the arena allows all the horses to touch each other, it will probably hit them all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Comicon According to the Times

For those of you who might wonder about this Comicon thing I've mentioned a few times, here's an article in the New York Times. Mark Evanier, whose News from Me can be linked to over on the right, is quoted. We won't be standing out in the never-ending line with the poor people who don't buy tickets in advance. We've got ours and we'll be at the Eisner's sponsored by Lionsgate since Len is up for one. I hope that means Lionsgate is providing refreshments. You shouldn't have to pay for refreshments at an event where you are being honored.

Be Careful for What You Wish

Back in the days when I was the lawyer for the Science Fiction Writers of America, I volunteered to chair the Nebula Awards(R) Weekend in Los Angeles in 2001. I thought I could turn it into an classy event, and everybody says that's exactly what I did.

The banquet was at the Beverly Hilton,also the home of the Golden Globes and WGA awards. Sir Arthur C. Clark was my "guest of honor in abstentia," with, like Elijah, a place set for him on the dias, with a glass of Champagne. We read the letter he sent to his friends and colleagues in the year that resonates in science fiction because of the Hal 9000.

My Rollodex went into over-drive. Neil Gaiman let me twist his arm into being Master of Cermonies (and was even nominated for his script for the English version of Princess Mononoke that year) and Paul Guay, who co-wrote Liar, Liar, Heartbreakers, and the Little Rascals movie, was my keynote speaker. Nobody walked out (traditionally, the room empties when the keynote speaker speaks.) Robert Gordon was there to pick up his Nebula(R) Award for Galaxy Quest, the only time we've actually had the screenwriters present. Robert Burnett, who co-wrote and directed Free Enterprise handed out the screenplay award. My table gave me the wave when dessert arrived with the SFWA logo on white chocolate on every plate. It was quite a night, and a very successful weekend.

I had three years to plan and execute it. I offered to do it again, but nobody took me up on it. The closest I got was "well, you can bid for it." Not bloody likely, thank you.

Well, on Friday, I did get a call. The kind of call you get when you need Joan of Arc and some miracles. So now I'm chairing the Nebula Awards(R) Weekend again. In April 2009. I've got...10 months.

The first thing is to lock down a hotel for the weekend of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 25-26. The last time I did this, tying the weekend to the Festival of Books was a big hit with everyone. There was lots of autographing done.

Much to my surprise, two hotels are already back in touch, including the one where we booked our folks stayed in 2001. Since I don't have the flexibility to gallivant off during the day, checking out hotels will be a little more difficult this time out. Guess I know what I'll be doing in the evening this week.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fire Plans

I went over our fire evacuation plan with Gayle last night because it just feels like a firestorm is coming. Last night the winds were pretty strong and combined with the dry heat, we've got a disaster in the making.

The FEC horses go to Moorpark or Hansen Dam if there's a problem in Chatsworth--depending on where a fire is. Moorpark got burned out pretty badly two years ago. My girlfriend relayed the problems of getting her giant alpha Holsteiner mare evacuated. The last big fire along the ridge of hills in Chatsworth was three years ago. Where Ace is was in no danger of fire, but the smoke was bad there. Last year, the smoke from the fire in Malibu was pretty bad in the West Valley where I had him then.

When Ace was at Pierce, fire was not a worry because Pierce is an evacuation center for horses and other livestock in emergencies. Several times, we were threatened that they were going to put evacuated horses in either the inside or outside stalls where our horses resided. Can you imagine the stupidity of doing that with horses whose immunization and health histories aren't known? Fortunately, we were able to stop that from happening, but I noticed during the evacuation last year, the indoor/outdoor stalls became two holding pens and horses were in all of them. I don't want Ace brought to Pierce during an evacuation unless I can get one of my friends living in Melody Acres to let me walk him over there!

The fire evacuations are enlightening. You realize how much better care you take of your horses than most people do. Several years ago, people brought in a small herd of Arabians, including a 30+ year old stallion. They were all in pitiful state, but him especially. It looked like he hadn't been groomed in years, and his feet desperately needed trimming. His teeth must have needed floating because he was nothing but skin and bones. Animal control should have confiscated all six of the horses from these owners. There was a sweet young filly I could have been convinced to adopt. Unfortunately, they were all sent home with their owner.

Ace trailer loads pretty well. He does need a few minutes to consider the box, but he stands well when he gets in and will eat any treats left for him. He's always pretty anxious to get out, however. He'll load a step-up or a ramp, thanks to a lot of work by Rod Bergen. Around here, everyone needs to make sure their horses load with little hesitation. Emergency evacuation teams will leave horses behind when there's no time to waste.

The dry hills of the California summer are something that's still a disconnect to me. I grew up in the western foothills of the Catskills. I often miss the green. Flooding has been a problem in my home town several times over the past few years, but I can't remember a fire that engulfed even an acre of land when I was growing up there. Too wet.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Prince Gets a Shower

The Arabian Prince finally reached the point where he really needed a bath a couple of weeks before I decided to give it a try on Saturday. Naturally, I was as wet as he was when it was all over, and he was shaking like he'd come within an inch of his life of dying--or as if I had washed him when it was 34 degrees outside. The boy hates, hates, hates water unless it's meant to drink.

He also doesn't do well in cross-ties, but that's all we've got for the wash area. I'm not supposed to wash him on the dirt walks--we are supposed to stay on the cement, which is quite slippery. He did try to sit back at one point and did go up, but he couldn't get loose and quickly realized he might get hurt, so he stopped. I won't say he settled in, because that would be an over-optimistic description of things, but at least he didn't do anything stupid.

I know Ashley's been spraying him off after Gayle works with him, but it has been so hot that he almost always has a few chevrons of sweat on his chest. His white socks have gotten splashed by urine since his pee hole is out on the DG instead of a pile of shavings (they just blow away outside, and, fortunately, he won't urinate inside his stall where the shavings are. If he'd just poop outside all the time as well, he'd have a nice clean bed of shavings to sleep on every day.)

I like to use the Rio Vista grooming products. I use the HiO Silver to bring out the white in his mane, tail, and socks and I use the shampoo for chestnut colored horses for the rest. It gives him an amazing, iridescent shine when he dries. Positively blinding in the sun. I also use the Rio Vista conditioner and the detangling shine spray. It makes for one very pretty boy when all is done, but it sometimes takes a few days for him to forgive me.

He looked very pretty when it was all over, and he went prancing past his neighbors' stalls in his "look at me" trot. He got to spend the rest of the weekend recovering in his fan-cooled stall, and was treated with a bucket of carrots and apples for his troubles.

A full-blown bath is a twice or three times a year experience, but Gayle has now decreed he gets sprayed off every time he is ridden. He tolerates the water better the more he is exposed to it (rather like his feelings about his winter blanket), but it will never be a joy in his life. Foolish horse.

Now we're in another heat wave. It hit 107 in Chatsworth yesterday afternoon, so we canceled my lesson. Today, it promises to be even hotter. Welcome to the San Fernando Valley in the summer. Ace, get your galoshes on.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

He Left 64 in the Dust

Paul McCartney turned 66 today. He's three times as old as he was when we first saw him on Ed Sullivan. To paraphrase someone "who wants to see a 60 year old Beatle?" Amazingly, we do.

Unlike some of the other British Invasion performers, we've seen Paul age gradually, so it hasn't been a shock when I've seen him in pictures or on television (although the divorce did seem to put on a few years and lines that weren't there before.) This is in sharp contrast with watching Peter and Gordon or Gerry Marsden on the PBS British Invasion special. They were almost not recognizable and I couldn't tell which one was Peter and which one was Gordon.

Happy Birthday, Sir Paul. Still my favorite Beatle.

AFI's Latest List

We spent last evening watching the American Film Institutes latest list of 100 films: AFI's 10 Top 10. Naturally, as we went through it, we had a few "ughs!" some "wha?" some "where is?" and a few "wrong place." But we agreed with many of the choices.

I've now had a chance to look over the nominated films--50 in each category--and discovered most our "where is" queries are within the nomination list. I also discovered that some of the films I thought were in the wrong category also had nominations in what I thought were the correct category. For example, I think Bull Durham is one of the great romantic comedies of all time. It was nominated as a romantic comedy but made the top 10 as a sports film. Field of Dreams (what is it about Kevin Costner on the list?) was nominated as a sports film but made the top 10 as a fantasy film.

Only one of the Lord of the Rings cycle was nominated, and The Fellowship of the Ring came in number 2 on the fantasy list. If The Godfather Parts One and Two can both make the top 10 of gangster films, and Toy Story 1 and 2 are both nominated, there's no excuse for not even nominating the Oscar(TM)-winning The Return of the King. And, frankly, I thought they should both have been nominated in the epic category. After all, that fantasy The Ten Commandments was on the epic list.

I think that one less Marion Morrison film would not have hurt the western list in order to make room for The Magnificent Seven, a movie that even I have to stop and watch if I'm flipping through the TV channels and it is on. I cannot believe it wasn't in the top 10.

I've seen all 10 of the animation and science fiction winners, and eight of the gangster and epic films. My worst category (much to my surprise): courtroom drama, where I'm only certain I've seen four films. I've seen parts of many more.

While it did not surprise me to find that 2001: A Space Odyssey was the number one on the science fiction list, I'm still disappointed. While it is visually impressive (for the time it was made), it is boring beyond belief. A snore. I think that my friends who were on drugs the day we did a class trip to the Zigfield Theatre in New York to see it in 1970 were probably the ones who enjoyed it the most. I know I'm never getting those three hours back and I need them right now. I say this as someone who loved Sir Arthur's writing and I really like the short story "The Sentinel," which spawned the movie. But the movie is ponderous. I once heard someone say there's maybe 20 minutes of dialogue in it and last night Len said most of that is between Dave and Hal.

I was so pleased that The Day the Earth Stood Still was on the top 10 list. I remember when I first saw it on Saturday Night at the Movies and it still rates at the top of my science fiction list. For those who think science fiction is about ray guns--wrong! It is a way of exploring problems in this life when you can't address it with "reality." As a film, The Day the Earth Stood Still is closely related to The Crucible. It is about the communist witch hunts. I also recommend reading the short story "Farewell to the Master," upon which the film is based.

The other films I think should have made the top 10 lists are Inherit the Wind and Reversal of Fortune for courtroom drama, Lost Horizon for fantasy, A League of Their Own for sports, Iron Giant for animation (Lion King is so overrated) and Some Like It Hot, The American President and The Shop Around the Corner (which has spawned so very many variations) for romantic comedy. All were nominated (Some Like It Hot in the gangster category, not romantic comedy.) The Sure Thing was not even nominated for romantic comedy, but I suppose it is something of an update of It Happened One Night, which made the top 10.

I'm going to have Len and Michael go over the list and see if there are any films which none of us have seen to watch on a family film evening. I failed to mark 28 altogether, although there are many among those I've seen at least part of and some of which I've seen in remakes. A few of the films I've seen parts of, such as Al Pacino's Scarface, I'm not going to try and watch all the way through. Of the films I have seen, there are some I'm not interested in ever watching again. A Clockwork Orange is definitely at the top of that list. It, like Scarface, is just too violent. There's no point in spending all that time hiding my eyes.

I think that AFI should do a list of the top 100 books or stories adapted into movies. Maybe it would get people to read a little more.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Satisfying Award Show

I seem to spend most of Monday recovering from the weekend. I really need to get to bed earlier on Sunday night. But last night, I had to watch the Tony Awards and I couldn't watch them until most of the guests had left the birthday party I threw for my spousal unit.

The Tony Awards were pretty entertaining, and the show moved along quite well. In truth, that was probably helped along by being able to zip through the commercials, since we recorded the show and started at the beginning about an hour into it. My sister had called earlier in the evening to let me know the answer to the BIG QUESTION--how closely we needed to watch--because she had the results two hours before we did. The answer was "watch closely" because August: Osage County won best play, which meant my niece Kristina Valada-Viars would be going up on the stage with the rest of the cast for that acceptance speech.

Unfortunately, the camera crew never did a sweep across the cast to get a good look at all of the actors in the very large cast. It was disappointing to us watching a home, but I can only imagine the excitement my niece had being on stage at Radio City Music Hall, a place so big Len once set an aerial fight between Spider-man and the Green Goblin there (you can do anything in comic books.) I'm dying to hear who she met--Harry Potter himself was one of the presenters for best play. Kristina: if you're reading this, post a comment and let us know how the evening went.

August: Osage County took five of the seven awards for which it was nominated. It had two nominees for lead actress, so only the actress playing the mother won, and it lost for lighting design. It also won for featured actress, director, and one of the other technical awards (perhaps for set design, which is wonderful.) I suspect my niece stayed out late and slept in this morning.

Friday, June 13, 2008

As the World Turns

What a great week. Dennis Kucinich introduced a bill of impeachment against the pretender in the White House and the Supreme Court recognized the strength of the U.S. Constitution (even if Scalia and the Chief Justice are embarrassments on the point.) One of my personal heroes, Vincent Bugliosi, has a new book out called The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (of the more than 4000 U.S. troops who have died in Iraq.) Keith Olbermann called John McCain out for his callous disregard of the plight of our troops while the rest of the media lets it slip on by.

On the other hand, John McCain said he'd have Dick Cheney among his advisors when he gets to the White House. That's enough reason to vote against him, if there weren't plenty of others. Calling his own wife as Anglo-Saxon expletive and divorcing his crippled first wife are two more (although Republicans seem to have a pattern of divorcing spouses with health problems--can you spell Newt Gingrich?)

And Big Brown's trainer is calling pilot error the reason for the horse's poor showing at the Belmont. Ain't that just to be expected.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Olbermann Hits Another Nail on the Head

Keith Olbermann's got a great new graphic to illustrate part of the race to the White House. It was one of those things where I looked at it and said to my husband, "something's not right. Did McCain get a face-lift?" And then I realized what was up. The caption was "McBush" and the image was a seamless merging of the faces of John McCain and the pretender in the White House. OMG. It is priceless. I noticed it on Monday's show, but when I watched Friday's, it was used there as well. I don't think it's been in use very long because I'm pretty observant about things like this. Isn't Photoshop amazing when used by a skilled practitioner?

Monday, June 9, 2008

That's What Makes Horse Races

Well, the room was more than stunned as we watched Big Brown patiently run in the number three position for much of the Belmont and, as we cajoled the TV that it was time to make the move to the front, he just faded.

Of the women present, one was a classical riding trainer and three others ride regularly, so we all know that there are days when a horse is just not interested. My trainer Gayle says "that's why we call them horses, not motorcycles or bicycles."

It does raise bigger questions about what effect steroids do have on a race horse--and, in particular, what effect they had on this horse. It will be a better racing world when steroids are banned from racing and all the horses are on a level playing field.

I was sorry that Casino Drive needed to be scratched, but better a scratch then a damaged animal.

Sally Jenkins wrote a terrific article in the Washington Post, praising Kent Desormeaux for doing what was best for Big Brown when it was clear that something wasn't right with him. She is straight-forward about the unsavory people who own and train the horse, but recognizes that the jockey isn't one of them. Mr. Desormeaux left a press conference saying he will never doubt what he did was right, which is a good place to be for a man who seemed tortured by the press for his loss of the Triple Crown in 1998 on Real Quiet.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Prepping for a Day at the Races by Proxie

Things are in full swing to prep for the Belmont Tea at my house tomorrow, where I've got about 15 women showing up to watch the final leg of the Triple Crown. I'm looking for an exciting race without tragedy.

2007 winner Rags to Riches' younger half-brother, Casino Drive, is out to be the spoiler at Belmont and he would be Better Than Honour's third off-spring in three years to win the race if he prevails. Older half-brother Jazil won two years ago. That's one hell of a brood mare. She passes on genes from both Seattle Slew (her grandsire) and Secretariat (her great-grandsire) from her own sire, 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy. Talk about a royal family of racing as well as the convoluted inbreeding of Thoroughbreds. Casino Drive's sire is Mineshaft, son of A.P. Indy. Rags to Riches (retired after a hairline fracture that was reinjured) is two months in-foal to Giant's Causeway, sire of Better than Honour's 2007 foal.

Big Brown's runaway performance at the Preakness gives him the favored status tomorrow, despite that quarter crack. The news coverage about steroids does still put a cast over his performance, though. Not the horse's fault. It will be interesting to see if he races against Curlin, 2007's horse of the year despite his loss to Rags to Riches, as the article I read today suggests is in the works. A modern Seabiscuit versus War Admiral match up, perhaps?

I managed to find a bakery that makes pullman loaves, perfect for making tea sandwiches. They would even make them in color, but I decided to pass on that. I'm getting white, wheat, and rye, and I'll get two of the loaves sliced on the horizontal. I've got a wide variety of sandwich fillings to choose from, so I'll probably do an egg salad, a smoked salmon, a ham, and possibly the blue cheese with roast beef (even if I won't eat it.) I've found about 10 different recipes for making Maids of Honour, though none quite like the ones Marilyn Niven brought to the last Belmont Tea. My scone recipe is from the no longer existent Ticky-boo Tea Room in Carlsbad, a wonderful Victorian place that disappeared overnight, much to our chagrin. Fortunately, my friends had bought the self-published "Cookin' in the Kilt" the owners had written and the scones and a savory Stilton cheesecake are always a big hit.

My challenge tonight is to get the dining room table cleared to set up the tea trays, cups, saucers, and the good silver. I've also got to pull out all of the horse swag I've collected to decorate, including balloons with silks on them, the string of plastic horse lights, the teapots with horses, and my growing collection of Triple Crown glasses (for anyone choosing to drink iced tea or a Belmont Breeze.)

My friend Kay is doing a whirlwind trip to the east coast to watch the race in person. I suggested she call and give us a live report. I suspect we won't be able to hear a word if Big Brown wins.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sidewalk Requium, Los Angeles June 5th & 6th

The title is from a Chad and Jeremy song on The Ark. It's about what happened 40 years ago today.

I was a junior in high school, days away from finals, and having a little trouble sleeping. I got up and read a piece in the previous Sunday's New York Times Magazine about Senator Robert Kennedy's run for the presidency. Martin Luther King had been killed two months earlier. John Kennedy's assassination was on people's minds. I didn't turn on the television for fear of waking my parents, and went back to bed for a bit before my father woke me with the news that Senator Kennedy had been shot in Los Angeles. It hit me hard.

I went to school in tears and kept a transistor radio (remember them) with me to check the news throughout the day. It wasn't good. My Republican social studies teacher had no sympathy (in November she would dance with glee wearing a Nixon button) and, in a town with few Democrats, there weren't a lot of people with whom to bond.

On Thursday morning, my father woke me with the news that Bobby Kennedy had died during the night.

It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. This morning when I was driving into work, KNX had a radio announcer talk about being there, interspersed with his actual audio feed of the time. I just started to cry, like it happened today.

About a month ago, people with whom I graduated from high school got in touch with me about a list-serve they set up for our class. The other day, several talked about where we were when we found out John Kennedy was assassinated. I learned about it when I went into my 7th period math class at about 1:45 in the afternoon and one of my classmates announced it. A bit later, the school intercom came on and we all heard a news broadcast that President Kennedy had died. It was a shock for everyone, on a par with Pearl Harbor or, now, the planes going into the World Trade Center.

Robert Kennedy's death didn't hit most people that way, but it did me. Perhaps it was because he had just taken the California primary and it was a matter of seeing such incredible promise smashed beyond repair in a split second. More likely, it was watching someone in a position to do great good being ripped from the scene just after he had worked to calm the country after the murder of Martin Luther King. It was the final crushing loss of hope for my country. Despite any flaws which have been revealed since his death, he had passion, drive, a great desire to help people who were less fortunate than himself, and I doubt he'd ever apologize for being a liberal.

I've got The Ark in vinyl, since I bought it close to 40 years ago, but it is now available on CD. I'd also recommend viewing Emilio Estevez's film Bobby.

Today, there were three lovely pieces by Bobby' children in the New York Times about their father and Patt Morrison did a piece in the Los Angeles Times wondering why the Ambassador Hotel wasn't saved as a place where history took place. Recommended reading, all.

And now, I'm going to take my friend Melinda Snodgrass' advice and have cautious hope for the future of a country where, in 2008, the two leading Democratic candidates for President of the United States were a black man and a white woman and it is still during my lifetime.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Keeping up with Big Brown

I've been thinking about finding the origin of the e-mail I got announcing Big Brown's signature deal with Nike for several days. A careful Google search turned it up so you can now enjoy it by clicking the link. It's a scream. And here's the one about his continuing three-year media silence. Of course, we know that horses can talk if we're just quiet enough to listen.

Here's an update on Big Brown's cracked hoof. This one is not a joke.

And here's the latest edition of Carnival of the Horses with a wide selection of blogs from all over about our favorite equines.