Archive for July, 2009

Cash for Clunkers theme song

July 31st, 2009 No comments

The “Cash for Clunkers” program has been very successful, but it would be out-of-this-world successful if it had a theme song like the “Kars 4 Kids” program has.

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Categories: Advertising, My Body Politic Tags:

Camp Wellstone

July 17th, 2009 No comments

I thought it would be fitting to start my Camp Wellstone adventure by sipping a latte. I just hope I don’t spill it all over the limousine.

FC Redux 3

July 15th, 2009 No comments

Comics Page Audience Survey

Do you prefer A?


Or B?


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Levi’s back!

July 15th, 2009 No comments
Levi Johnston speaks during a news conference in Anchroage, Alaska, on Thursday, July 9, 2009. Johnston, the former fiance of Gov. Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, says he knows why the Alaska governor is resigning - for money. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Levi Johnston speaks during a news conference in Anchroage, Alaska, on Thursday, July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Oh, Levi. Welcome back. We missed you so.

Here are the parts I especially liked from Mary Pemberton’s AP article:

Levi Johnston, 19, whose wedding to Bristol Palin was called off earlier this year, says he believes the governor is resigning over personal finances.

He claims he heard the governor several times say how nice it would be to take advantage of the lucrative deals that were being offered, including a reality show and a book.

Johnston made his comments at a news conference Thursday at the office of his attorney, Rex Butler.

Johnston came forward, Butler said, because Alaskans want to know why Palin has decided to resign. She made the announcement last Friday.

Johnston also is pursuing his own book deal. He is working as a carpenter while also pursuing a movie deal.

He held a press conference!

Because Alaskans want to know why she resigned!

His attorney’s name is Rex Butler!

As noted, Levi is also pursuing a book deal! He has more, exciting things to say!

I assume the book will be entitled, Keepin’ It Classy.

Categories: My Body Politic Tags:

Overheard at Al Franken’s swearing-in ceremony

July 8th, 2009 No comments

Franken Senate

“Welcome back, Senator.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, welcome back.”

“Um, this is my first time here, Senator.”

“Sure. Since you ran for President.”

“I… I didn’t run for President, sir. I ran for the Senate.”

“Wait. Aren’t you the guy from that TV show?”


“With the cops and the chung-chung.”

“Oh. No, that’s Fred Thompson. I’m Al Franken. From Minnesota.”

“Oh, you’re the wrestler.”

“No. That’s Jesse-”

“The singer? With the mustache and the wife?”

“No, that’s-”

“The basketball player?”


“The football coach?”


“The guy from The Love Boat?”


Dukes of Hazzard?”

“No, Senator. I’m Al Franken. From Saturday Night Live.”

“Oh. Well. I apologize, Al. I really do. My staff told me you were famous.” (exits)

(turns to CSPAN camera) “Live, from Washington, D.C. It’s the U.S. Senate!”

Categories: Celebrities!, My Body Politic Tags:

State budget cuts threaten arts organizations

July 5th, 2009 No comments

Here’s something I wrote last month, before the start of the state’s fiscal year.

ST. CHARLES – Directing a musical is a difficult undertaking, especially in a small theatre with limited financial resources. Donna Steele, Founder and Artistic Director of Steel Beam Theatre in St. Charles, was proud of her latest show—a world premiere. Now that it had opened, she could turn her energies into developing the theatre’s budget for the upcoming year.

Last week, though, she received an email from Ra Joy, Executive Director of the Illinois Arts Alliance, an arts advocacy organization that lobbies in Springfield. The email stated that in the budget passed by the Illinois General Assembly on May 31st, state funding for the Illinois Arts Council dropped to $6.4 million, a 75 percent cut from the previous year. The Steel Beam Theatre received annual grants from the Illinois Arts Council, and Steele had seen their amounts drop over time, from a high of $14,000 to $10,000 last year to $9,000 this year. But this budget threw into doubt the idea of receiving any funding from the IAC for next year.

“It’s pretty frightening seeing the state put the arts on the back burner,” she says, “and making them such a low priority.”

As the start of the next fiscal year on July 1st draws near, state officials are taking their “doomsday” scenarios to the public, and the people who depend on state agencies’ support are preparing for the worst.

Eliud Hernandez, Deputy Director of the Illinois Arts Council says, “Last year, we awarded approximately 1300 grants to organizations and 150 grants to individual artists. This [budget] impacts our dollar amount support for artists, artist organizations, community organizations, schools, public radio and television, and humanities councils.”

Ra Joy puts it more bluntly.

“We’re facing catastrophic cuts. It’s shameful how the arts are funded in Illinois. We must act now.”

Although Steel Beam Theatre is enjoying steady attendance figures, Steele is adopting a budget for fiscal year 2010 that cuts 10% across the board, and more in some areas.

“This is the first year we’re rolling the budget back instead of increasing it,” she says. “We don’t want to cut into our staff, so we’re putting less into printing, postage. Recycling sets and costumes.”

Kay B. Holley, a board member of the Celebration Company, a theatre organization in Urbana, agrees. “We would try not to skimp on production costs, but the biggest way it might affect our community is in higher ticket prices. That could have an impact in these economic times. It becomes a luxury.”

Private and corporate donors may also begin seeing funding the arts as a luxury, as well. As the recession continues, theatres fear private donors will increasingly fund only the arts organizations that they think are the “best.”

“In my opinion,” Steele says, “an Illinois Arts Council grant is an endorsement that this is a fine organization, a stable organization. It encourages private funders, which is important because it’s very competitive.” Implicit is that if the grants disappear, so may the donations.

Joy sees the current crises as the latest point in a disturbing trend. “The arts are already underfunded in this state,” he says. “In fiscal year 2008, when other states increased their arts support, Illinois was one of only three states that decreased their funding. We’re still working to dig ourselves out of the budget hole.”

And while he notes that a strong arts community makes for a good quality of life throughout the state, Joy knows that to convince legislators to reopen their purse strings, it must also make good economic sense.

“Arts are the cornerstone of tourism in our state,” Joy argues. “Chicago has a $1.1 billion arts industry, with over 30,000 jobs. In these times, we can’t afford to not support them.”

In the meantime, though, Donna Steele continues on with the day-to-day business of running a theatre company. She checks her voicemail for reservations, sets the props for the next performance, and, for another year, prepares to improvise.

Categories: Arts, News Briefs Tags:

Finally, a remake of “Them!”

July 5th, 2009 No comments


And I can’t think of a finer cast.

Categories: Arts, Comics Page Tags:

Give me your tired, your nauseous, your claustrophobic yearning to breathe free

July 5th, 2009 No comments
(AP Photos/David Goldman)

(AP Photos/David Goldman)

So they’ve started letting people go up in the crown of the Statue of Liberty and somebody proposed blah blah blah. But here’s the really important information from Suzanne Ma’s AP article:

The National Park Service says the crown remained closed because the narrow, double-helix staircases could not be safely evacuated in an emergency and didn’t comply with fire and building codes. Tourists often suffered heat exhaustion, shortness of breath, panic attacks, claustrophobia and fear of heights, spokesman Darren Boch said.

New handrails have since been installed to help with the climb, and only 30 people per hour are allowed up the dark, narrow staircase. They are guided by park rangers along the way.

The first 30 huffed and sweated as they made their way, twisting and using the handrails to pull themselves up stairs sometimes too small to fit an entire foot.

Maybe they should build a four-foot glass “Liberty Ledge” around the crown. Visitors could look straight down 260 feet to the line of ant-sized tourists on Liberty Island. Or install the “Emma Lazarus Zipline,” a cable thrillride from the Torch, around the Tablet, and into New York Harbor!

Here’s the full AP story.

Errata and Clarifications Dept.

July 2nd, 2009 1 comment


The caption for today’s photo was not correct, due to a printing error. It should have read:


We regret the error.