Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bon vivant

Recently I saw my doctor for a checkup, and he said everything looked good. That included my blood pressure, which I was convinced would be outrageously high.

And my cholesterol results came in the mail today. Normal, the sheet says. In particular: total cholesterol is 183 mg/dL, HDL 51, LDL 117, triclycerides 70. All these, if I understand correctly, are optimal or nearly so. (Pass the bratwurst!)

Mighty fine. Plus, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I meditate and I run four times a week. I just got my teeth cleaned (one cavity -- dang), and yesterday I had a flu shot.

I'm 34, and when I raise hell these days, I do it quietly.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The hearing

Longtime Back With Interest readers know that celebrities -- Woody Allen, Beyonce -- regularly appear in my dreams. But I never invited the guest from the night before last: failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. I and two other people were quizzing her about her credentials. There was a brief tangent in which I asked her to recommend good Bible study materials. This made one of my fellow questioners harrumph.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Madame President

I'm really enjoying "Commander in Chief," ABC's hour-long drama starring Geena Davis as the first woman president, a left-leaning political independent. My short attention span generally has kept me from enjoying hour-long shows, so this is indeed a rarity. There have been some exceptions over the years: shows premised on unceasing celebrity cameos ("Love Boat," "Fantasy Island"), and also family dramas, which is why I've been a fan of "Little House on the Prairie," "Family," "Eight Is Enough," "Our House" and "Party of Five."

That brings me back to "Commander in Chief," which is very much a family drama about the president, her ambitious husband and their kids: teenage twins (the boy's liberal and the girl's conservative, though not much has been made of that since the pilot), and a tweener daughter. All this, plus your workaday Washington conniving.

In these troubled times, "Commander in Chief" is wish fulfillment for me and others like me. A woman president! Who cares about human rights! Who doesn't play political dirty tricks!

The show's criticisms of the Bush White House are muted, but pointed. In an amusing exchange last night, the teenage daughter complains to her mother about the boy who tried to use her for sex, then dumped her when she said she wasn't ready. With a mischievous grin the president asks (I paraphrase), "Should I have him arrested under the Patriot Act and sent to prison in Syria?" It's a sick joke, and it's only funny because it's true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Quantifiably droll

I always enjoy a good joke, even when I don't understand it. (It's all in the timing.) And so I chuckled 3.14159 times over the pages of math jokes I turned up here and here.

My favorite math joke: Why did the chicken cross the Mobius strip? To get to the ... oh.
Yee haw

It pleases me endlessly to know that Little Jimmy Dickens sang "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" when Carnegie Hall hosted the "Grand Ole Opry" Monday night. The "Opry" is one of my favorite things in the world, and Dickens, 79, is one of the best things about the "Opry." His act never varies much -- hasn't varied much in the dozen or so years that I've been a regular "Opry" listener -- but it's reliably funny and country as hell. Little Jimmy Dickens, of thee I sing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Good word

"Madison is also welcoming to the moderately hip."

-- Margaret Broeren
Man in black

Bernie asked me my thoughts about Walk the Line, the new Johnny Cash biopic, so here goes.

Will I go see it? Of course. Am I excited to see it? Hmm. Seems to me that biopics of popular musicians can be touch and go. Coal Miner's Daughter is pretty wonderful, but then there is Great Balls of Fire!, the 1989 film that starred Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis, Cash's stablemate at Sun Records. I didn't like the film very much.

But can we talk here? For some reason Cash's music always left me a little cold. Believe me, I know how much people love his songs, because many, many times I have seen "Folsom Prison Blues" and "Ring of Fire" drive people into states of religious ecstasy even when they were being sung by me, of all people. They are great songs, and there are lots more great Johnny Cash songs.

Still, Cash built a career on a tough-guy persona, and I seem to be in a minority in that I never respond particularly well to those. In musicians and songwriters I much favor gentleness and tunefulness over swagger, which is why I always vastly preferred the Beatles to the Rolling Stones. And why I was always a lot more interested in Willie Nelson than Johnny Cash.

Now I know perfectly well that Cash could be both gentle and tuneful, so don't go leaping all over me. I'm talking generalities here, y'all.