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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Andrew Sullivan on Palin

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The uber-blogger's post makes a terrible point:
The important thing for today's Republicans is that the leaders evoke the kind of cultural identity of evangelical Christians, regardless of their competence or knowledge or even interest in, you know, governing. You pick a candidate because of her gender and religion and recent baby, even if she has no record of even any opinions on foreign policy and the only opinion you can actually find opposes the critical plank of McCain's war "strategy."
This is actually what makes me nervous about the Palin pick (nervous in the sense that I love all things Joe Biden): it's marketing. Palin evokes a definite "cultural identity," and that will work with large segments of the population. Because it's the same cultural identity that elected a bumbling governor in 2000 and then re-elected him as a very unpopular president in 2004. Criticize "todays Republicans" over this all you want, but don't think for a second they don't know what they're doing. They surely do.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:15 AM | link | 7 comments |

The Waiter Chronicles Revisited

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Good Food" is a Saturday show on the local public radio station. I don't listen to it normally, but yesterday as we drove to the museum I caught mention of the phrase "Waiter Rant" and froze the dial in place.

Waiter Rant is a crazy-popular blog written by Steve Dublanica, a blog which produced a Norton Anthology-worthy essay and subsequently an entire book, a book which currently resides on the New York Times' Best Seller List. Yesterday, Dublanica was interviewed by the host of "Good Food," Evan Kleiman. Listen to the show here.

Listening to the interview stoked my proud waiter fire, a fire that burned hot yet a year ago and then cooled after I found gainful employment in my "real" calling and quit last January. But before I took off the apron I had a correspondence with Dublanica (then known only as "The Waiter"). I posted my email to him here, and I posted (with his expressed permission) his response here.

Is this like knowing someone famous?


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:16 PM | link | 1 comments |

Biden Accepts the Nomination

Thursday, August 28, 2008


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:46 PM | link | 0 comments |

Biden's Brag Sheet

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In anticipation of the Senator's speech before the convention tonight, I offer this link to the op-ed he and Richard Lugar wrote in 2002 on the eve of the Senate Foreign Relations' committee hearings on a possible war with Iraq.

Here's the money quote:
. . . when Saddam Hussein is gone, what would be our responsibilities? This question has not been explored but may prove to be the most critical. In Afghanistan, the war was prosecuted successfully, but many of us believe our commitment to security and reconstruction there has fallen short. Given Iraq's strategic location, its large oil reserves and the suffering of the Iraqi people, we cannot afford to replace a despot with chaos.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:20 PM | link | 0 comments |

Bad TV

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I watched some of the democratic convention on CSPAN's live feed last night, and I was appalled by the "ordinary folk" bits they rolled out.

At least twice, people took the podium to talk about how they met Barack Obama and what a great guy he is. It was difficult to watch. The people were terrible public speakers and appeared more like cardboard cutouts than living, breathing people.

It might have appeared to be good politics, but it was really bad TV. It made me want to turn it off.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

Both Sides of Their Face

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The McCain campaign released two ads in the hours following Obama's announcement of Joe Biden as the vice-presidential nominee, criticizing Obama both for choosing someone who had criticized him in the past and for not choosing someone who had criticized him in the past.

Hmm . . .

First, the ad criticizing Biden for his critique of Obama (and praise of McCain) in 2007:

And now for the ad criticizing Obama for not choosing Hilary Clinton, for the obvious reason that she had criticized him in the past:

Is this the best that McCain and company can do, this inane Biden vs. Obama debate footage and these cut-and-paste Clinton criticisms? And to make the same claim both ways?

Pretty sloppy.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:16 PM | link | 0 comments |

A Gaffe Right Out of The Gate?

Adele Stan at The Huffington Post has a problem with a remark Joe Biden made at the end of his speech on Saturday. Here's what he said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, my wife, Jill, who you'll meet soon, is drop-dead gorgeous. My wife, Jill, who you'll meet soon, she also has her doctorate degree, which is a problem. But all kidding aside. . . . "
As someone who is married to a doctor--not someone with a doctorate degree, but a doctor--let me say that this remark didn't bother me in the least. The "problem" in Jill Biden's PhD, the joke implies, is that she's hard to argue with, that she's not a pushover, that she's smarter than the--ahem--average Joe.

The remark was a defenses-down welcome of the viewing public into the private life of the candidate. It's the kind of thing Biden does best.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:15 PM | link | 0 comments |

The LA Times Biden Coverage: Day 1

The Sunday LA Times has no fewer than three stories on its front page about Joe. One is an exploration of the demographic and strategic considerations that seem to make up Obama's choice of the Delaware Senator as his running mate. Here's a money quote from that piece:
With Biden, Obama hopes to acquire some Scranton cred -- not only in the crucial battleground of Pennsylvania but in other states where Democrats can ill afford to lose working-class support, such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
And this--just out of vanity:
Obama aides said they were attracted to the Delaware senator's humble beginnings -- and his relatively modest lifestyle. He has a net worth between $59,000 and $366,000, not much for the millionaire's club known as the Senate.

"He's still one of the poorest members of the Senate," said Anita Dunn, a senior advisor to Obama's campaign. "He came to Washington to do good, not to do well for himself."
Enjoy it while it's nice.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:06 PM | link | 0 comments |

Biden's First Message to Obama-ville


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 2:56 PM | link | 0 comments |

Biden's First VP Nominee Speech

Here's the entire speech Biden gave on Saturday in Springfield after Obama introduced him as his running mate:

A few comments:

He says "literally" a lot.
He slipped up and called the nominee "Barack America."
The ending line, "God bless America, and may he protect our troops," seems really out of character, tonally, from the rest of the speech.
Finally, Joe Biden is going to be the Vice-President.
And there was much joy in the land.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:37 AM | link | 0 comments |

Bagging for--YESSSS!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 1:05 PM | link | 0 comments |

Bagging (Bagels) for Biden

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If this isn't proof of the Senator's fitness for the VP job, then I don't know what is.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 1:48 PM | link | 2 comments |

Bagging for Biden (Who Won't Bag for Himself)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oh, Joe, you're so coy!


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:33 PM | link | 0 comments |

Bagging for Biden (for Veep)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Today's New York Times has a profile of our favored presidential candidate of old, the Senator from Delaware, Joe Biden, positing that his strengths and weaknesses as a vice-presidential are glaringly obvious and that they are, more importantly, the same: his age, his lengthy legislative experience, and his mouth.

I fell in love with Biden a year ago after watching him in the early Democratic primary debates. I devoured his memoir and set to blogging about why he's the guy the country needs. Readers of NPH were quick to note, after Biden's candidacy failed, the deleterious effect which the blog may have had on the Senator's try. We're pressing our luck here that a similar endorsement for vice-president won't have do likewise. We're giddy at the notion.

A couple of things to clarify from the Times' profile, though:
He first told Brian Williams of NBC on “Meet the Press,” “I am not interested in the vice presidency.” But with very little prodding, a moment later he said that if Mr. Obama asked him to be his running mate, “Of course I’ll say yes.”
I saw that interview (below), and Biden's answer was the only honest one to give. "I'm not seeking it," he said, "but if asked I'll serve." That falls short of "wanting the job" in the way the profile suggests. It was a great answer.

Mr. Biden’s appeal as a national candidate is suspect. His first bid for the presidency, beginning in 1987, famously flamed out after he was caught stealing passages from a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labor Party in Britain at the time.
The passage of Kinnock's that Biden used (the famous "platform on which to stand" line) he used repeatedly, and every time he used it he cited Kinnock as the source. In one appearance he failed to do that, and that was the appearance that got him. He acknowledges he fell down on it, but to say that he was "caught stealing" misses the mark significantly.

Whatever. Go Joe, go.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:20 PM | link | 0 comments |

Alan's Family Jewels (The Movie)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back in May I shared the story of my friend Alan's mom and how her long lost family jewels had been uncovered by a reporter at the Rocky Mountain News.

This past weekend Alan's mom went with Alan and his son to Denver to actually claim the jewels. Watch the video below.

Big ups to Tina Griego, the reporter who chased down the story.

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:43 PM | link | 1 comments |

Tow Truck Trouble II: The Reckoning

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Not 48 hours after the tow truck theatrics in our condo complex, a drama that pitted villainous truck drivers looking to make a buck against a heroic citizenry standing up for its rights, I found myself at the mercy of the villains.

I drove out at 9:30 in the evening to pick up my mother-in-law from a CPR class she's taking at the local chapter of the Red Cross. I took this drive in a car that has never, in seven years, stranded anyone anywhere, but that had been rather finicky throughout the week with respect to its ignition switch. For three or four days prior, I had been forced into a ridiculous ritual to simply start the car: insert the key into the ignition, attempt to turn it, fail, then jiggle the key violently in the ignition until it turns. The ritual never persisted past, say, five seconds.

I sat in the Red Cross parking lot waiting for the class to let out, listening to the radio and enjoying the air conditioning. After waiting about five minutes, my conscience got the better of me and I turned off the car. How could I have known the nearly five-hour ordeal such a simple decision would effect?

As you certainly have guessed, the key wouldn't turn anymore. Only minutes after turning the car off I tried to turn it back on and failed. And failed, and failed, and failed. Finally my mother-in-law appeared, as did all of her classmates. I explained the difficulty calmly, even while violently shaking the key in the immovable ignition switch. Sweat was trickling steadily down my forehead.

Finally I called M (my new shorthand for the wife) to bring me the other key for the car. You see, this sticky key problem dogged us about a year ago until I went and got a new key. So, obviously, the other key would work. M got the baby out of bed, put her in the carseat, and drove the 1.5 miles to the now empty Red Cross parking lot.

No go. That key didn't work either. So we called the roadside assistance service we pay for through our cell phone provider. They said a tow truck would be there in 20 minutes or less. So I sent M home with her mother and the baby while I stayed to wait for the truck. It arrived around midnight, but the driver took one look at the narrow driveway leading back to the parking lot and shook his head, "nuh-uh."

"I no can do it," he explained with a shrug of his shoulders. "Truck is too big. You need smaller truck. My company no have. You ha' to call a diff'rent company." Then he left.

I redialed the roadside assistance service and explained the increasingly complicated situation: key won't turn, wheels are locked, driveway too narrow. She put me on hold for nearly thirty minutes while she appealed to nearly every tow truck company in the San Gabriel Valley. Finally she shared with me the good news that a smaller truck had been dispatched and would be there within the hour.

I don't know how long it's been since you sat in a deserted parking lot by yourself after midnight. It was a first for me. With no radio and no company, I thought about Chris McCandless, the subject of the John Krakauer book and Sean Penn film Into The Wild, a young man who ventured off into the Alaskan wilderness by himself at age 24. "Surely there is some virtue in this," I said to myself. "The isolation, the silence, the stillness. This is only making me a better person, less hurried, more flexible, more patient."

But I couldn't shake the bald outcome of McCandless' sojourn: he died. Alone. In an abandoned vehicle.

Help finally arrived an hour later that the roadside assistance operator said it would, now 2:30 in the morning. The husky driver reached under the car's hood, disconnected the transmission, chained up the car's front end, and loaded it onto the reclined bed of his truck. I watched with strained interest, even as I mentally sketched out the Wiffle Ball dimensions of the parking lot (if you hit from here, on top of the building would be a double, over it a home run. If you hit it the other way you'd have to get it through that tree for a homer . . .). We towed the car to a garage near the condo complex and left it in the empty lot. Then the generous driver ported me the half-mile down the street to the condo complex.

So, to whoever in the tow truck cosmos reads my blog and was offended by the implications of that earlier post: I'm sorry. I see now the benevolence of your profession. I will never insult you again.

Postscript: it was the keys. We paid a mechanic $175 the next day for three hours of labor that revealed that verdict.

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:36 AM | link | 2 comments |

The Gruen Transfer Finale

Monday, August 11, 2008

In case you missed it a few weeks ago, one of my favorite things to watch this summer has been The Gruen Transfer, and Australian public TV show dissecting advertising.

On the finale, the panel looked at some of the ads that won awards at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival.

Here's the winner, a spot by the English chocolate manufacturer Cadbury. I dare you to watch it just once.

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:23 PM | link | 2 comments |

Tow Truck Trouble

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

So there was a real dust-up at the condo complex last night when a tow truck driver attempted to hitch up our neighbor's illegally parked car. The neighbor came out as the tow truck driver was securing the car and said, "Hey! What are you doing?!" The driver refused to drop the car and instead proceeded to secure it to his truck to tow it away. When the neighbor threatened to call the cops, the driver said, "I dare you."

"Hello dispatch . . ."

Just then our other neighbor, a very amicable fellow who happens to be a pastor at the nearby Vineyard church, pulls up the driveway to tuck his car into his garage, which is positioned right in front of the tow truck. Neighbor one appeals for help to neighbor two by yelling, "Stay there!" Neighbor two gladly obliges, thereby blocking the tow truck in the driveway.

Then things got interesting. In a shower of four-letter epithets, the tow truck driver called up another tow truck to come and tow away the car of neighbor #2. Now we've got two tow trucks on the scene, and I for the life of me can't think of a scenario where that's going to end well. And so, when the driver of the second truck angrily informed neighbor #2 that he would be towing his car away, neighbor #2 informed him in sonorous pastoral tones that he "wasn't going to do *&$%." And away we go.

Just in time, no fewer than three police cars arrived in a flood of red and blue lights. For nearly an hour they held court, listening to the now overly-civil tow truck drivers and the neighbors, while I got the scoop at a distance from the neighbors' wives. Apparently the tow truck company is under contract with the condo complex. They like to troll the complex for illegally-parked cars and quickly drag them off. Times are tough; even tow truck drivers are suffering.

Anyhow, it all got resolved somehow. Then, in a nasty twist of DMV fate, the car of neighbor #2's wife was towed away at 5:00 this morning for expired tags.

Don't mess the the parking gods in Southern California.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:17 PM | link | 4 comments |

Monday Morning Phone Call

Monday, August 04, 2008

Someone called the church this morning seeking "information" about it, so that he could decide whether or not he would recommend his friend coming here. The information he wanted all had to do with the church's position on homosexuality.

Obviously, he knew what he did and did not want to hear when he called. But when what I told him didn't square with what he wanted, he engaged me in an hour-long debate about Biblical authority, the cultural context of the Bible, marriage, and, I think, pederasty.

He wasn't going to be happy with anything I said. Yet he pursued me for an hour. When I could tell he was too frustrated to continue, I laughed and said, "It doesn't sound like you're going to recommend your friend come here, but I've enjoyed our conversation."

"Yeah," he said, "Thanks."

"God bless you, brother."

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:28 AM | link | 3 comments |