Category Archives: US President

From obsession to mad obsession

The self-imposed news embargo has been good for me in many ways.¬† It’s a nice balance. I still listen to the news during my daily commute – a little NPR is always good for the soul. ūüôā¬† And I read the occasional news article – usually the NY Times.¬† But that’s where it begins and ends.

The news embargo is really all about TV and the endless 24×7 news cycle.¬† Sure, I like a little bit of Rachel Maddow now and a little bit of Anderson Cooper then but all of it has come to a screeching halt for me, by choice.¬† That’s¬† because a little bit of something good does not make up for a whole lot of endless talk on the crappy state of politics today.¬† And whoever wants to hear this ill-equipped President talk??!¬† Pardon me while I hold my nose in disgust.

This is a sampler of some of today’s news that I happily missed out on as it was being regurgitated on TV.¬† Did I say “happily”?¬† I meant it!

Sampler of News I Missed Out On - CNNInstead, I’ve switched my loyalties and am now getting more deeply immersed into streaming web content – of the fictional kind.¬† Turns out, I was really out-of-date and had years worth of catching-up on this content.¬† And it’s been a wonderful ride playing catch up!

What I’ve found so far is that it’s going to be hard to top Mad Men.¬† But then I got to Downton Abbey.¬† [It’s still hard to top bad boy Don Draper…].¬† And waiting in the wings to be watched, what else but The West Wing?¬† What a great substitute for reality that show will be…

Watching such well-produced shows, whenever I want to and for as long as I want to has been amazing and satisfying.¬† But it’s also easy to get addicted.¬† So, I have been forced to impose time limits on myself – no more than an hour a day. A couple of weeks ago, I had to travel across the world and when jet lag hit me in the middle of the night, guess what I resorted to?¬† I broke all my rules and limits.¬† But that was truly the exception.

And then when a really good series ends, one has to pause and celebrate it while also (literally) mourning the end of it.¬† It was much too sad to see Mad Men come to an end with such finality.¬† I felt like I had lost a limb for a couple of days there.¬† ¬†I am about to be at the midpoint of Downton Abbey (six seasons in all) and I am already projecting the loss of having¬†watched it all.¬† It’s a good thing that there’s a movie coming out this Summer to help us lost souls.

All good things must come to an end and the end of each of these series often feels like the end of a fantastic journey.¬† ¬†Sadly,¬† the end also arrives sooner than expected or desired. It’s both compelling and entertaining to watch the drama of these fictional characters play out.¬† It’s certainly easier to bear than the drama created by the non-fictional characters of our time (which often eclipses theirs).¬† That’s what happens when you get a reality show “leader” to run your country…more ridiculous twits and twats.

One day when we have reestablished the norms of decency, civility, dignity and humanity into the highest office of this country (I can dream, can’t I?),¬† I will likely return to watching the daily news and opinions.¬† Until then, I will savor fiction in the form of this persuasive new age of storytelling with the most interesting and intriguing characters I have witnessed in a long time – on demand, as and when I wish it.¬† Can’t beat that.

Streaming Series SamplerHa! Just look at this sampler of glorious stories (and that’s without Game of Thrones). There’s no comparison on what option to spend your precious hour a day on, is there?¬† It’s altogether a different feeling when you see fictional characters develop and act out their parts, good and bad.¬† I’m all for focusing on their compelling stories instead – especially when talking about the bad characters. So much easier to tolerate when you know that it’s all fiction!

In today’s climate and with time being at such a premium,¬† I find that fiction easily trumps reality.

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Shoot me now!

Surprise, surprise, this is (kind of) a politics related post!

If you are anything like me or if you think even a little like me (I hope you are, I hope you do Рotherwise why bother reading my blog?), then I guarantee that you will want to shoot me when you read this post.  To make it easier on you, I give you permission to just shoot me now.

This is the most inconceivable thing that I could have ever imagined writing! ¬†It’s not so hard to imagine that I would be writing about politics. ¬†But the subject at hand and especially my opinion on this topic…that’s what is so unbelievable.

First, let’s rewind to the depressing pre-Obama era of the United States. [If you are a right wing nut, I’ve lost you now. But bear with me. It just might be worth your sticking around].

Anyway, back to pre-Obama. You do remember who was President, right? Not just for one, but two, extremely painful terms in office, after first stealing the election away from Al Gore. Yep, my opinion on that era or on who presided over this country has not changed one iota.

Last week, I was in an interesting position.

Attending a rather cozy (as opposed to huge) industry conference, I had the opportunity to attend the keynote presentation by none other than George W Bush.  The reason it was such an interesting position to be in was because it was so conflicting.

On the one hand, given my low opinion of President George W Bush, why would I take the time to attend?

Yet. This man was after all once the President of the most powerful nation in the world, a country that I live in, am a citizen of and love. So, should I simply pass up this opportunity to watch and listen to an ex-President, up close and (almost) personal just because of my low opinion of him? 

I made the smart choice. I attended the keynote in spite of my low opinions and expectations.

It ended up being not a keynote presentation behind a lectern but more of a “fireside chat” format (see the picture below from this conference) where a company executive sitting beside him asked President Bush some¬†friendly questions. Even if he knew what some of the questions were, this was clearly off the cuff and unrehearsed on his part.

It was a warm crowd for him, given that the setting was among his home crowd of red-Texans. And he was obviously in his element. Yet, even knowing that all of these factors would enable a stellar performance from him, he still threw me for a loop. Which actually goes to show how low my opinion was.

George W on stage at BPOG

Let me¬†describe what my opinion of W was after witnessing this ~75 minute conversation, live and in person. That’s when (if you’re anything like me, or think like me), you get all flabbergasted, irked and irritated at what I am about to say.

[Opportunity #2 Рso, you can just shoot me now instead and get it over with]. 

To say that my opinion of the man “changed” is an understatement. During¬†that 75 minute conversation / interview, here are words to describe my quick impressions of W, some of which likely¬†come as much of a surprise (shock?) to you as they did to me –

  • Amusing, droll
  • Smart as a whip
  • Quick (as in, quick and spontaneous in his responses)
  • Humble
  • Intelligent
  • Self-deprecating
  • Caring, warm
  • Hilarious at times
  • Insightful
  • Content and happy with life
  • A family man who adores¬†his dad
  • Extremely¬†faith-based in¬†how he thinks and lives
  • Humanitarian, philanthropic (focused on veterans)
  • Charming and witty
  • And did I say, smart?

I guess one thing you can say about me, ¬†I do have an open mind. ūüôā ¬†

By the end of that interview, I was confounded. There was no question that my impression of the man had changed. Not completely, but still…it struck me how quick we are to judge people (especially those in politics).

Does my opinion that he was bad for us as President remain? Absolutely. But behind that opinion were several other opinions of the man himself that were either misinformed, biased, or both.

What now?  

I’m not planning to join his fan club or buy his paintings. [One¬†could say he’s a¬†talented portrait painter, where your art involves copying existing photographs in oils – we were shown a preview video of his paintings; he has painted most of the world leaders he knew and worked with. He is also the first person to say that his signature is more valuable than the paintings].

george w paintings

George W Bush at a gallery of his portraits of world leaders

So back to the question, what now? I guess, now, if someone said I was going to buy one of his books to¬†read, I wouldn’t LOL out of hand. It’s quite possible I may, some day.*

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[Opportunity #3 Рthis is it. Your last chance. Shoot!].

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* I’m done with¬†reading all 22 ¬†Jack Reacher novels¬†in existence and don’t see any new ones on the horizon, so…

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