I want to call my parents and tell them that I’m considering going to Baghdad to be a “human shield”… Or, better yet, I could have one of my friends contact them. “Mrs. Maynard, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ve heard through Linette that Mark is in the process of booking a flight to France where he plans to meet up with a group of people who will be heading to Baghdad to be human shields.”

    Why can’t I get this idea out of my head? And why do I find it so amusing?

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    On this date in 1936, Adolf Hitler opened the first factory for the production of the
    “People’s Car,” the Volkswagen. I wonder if you’ll find any notice on the VW web site. I bet not.

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      goodbye neighbor

      And it makes me sad not that Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”) is dead today, but that he had to live to see what we’ve become as a nation. The fact that kids went, in the short span of 20 years, from watching Mr. Rogers to watching Jerry Springer is the saddest thing that I can imagine. He was a good man and he did what he could to instill values like kindness in children for a long, long time.

      I was going to say that it apparently didn’t work, but (and this is a frightening thought), maybe it did. Maybe where we are today is actually a better place than where we would have been without him.

      Anyway, I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank Fred Rogers for making it his life’s work not to get rich or to play to the lowest common denominator for ratings, but to get kids thinking about things like community and helping one another. We need more people like him.

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      too chubby for saddam

      This quote comes from the Wall Street Journal’s editorial e-mail.

      “Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, facing a likely U.S.-led invasion to oust him, has cut the pay of every overweight government official and armed forces officer,” Reuters reports. “Saddam’s decree said on Wednesday any official whose weight is found during a compulsory bi-annual fitness check up to ‘exceed the allowed limit’ would have his salary and bonuses halved.”

      I think it’s great that he’s got time to think about something like this now. You just know this happened because he saw some fat, sloppy guard at one of the royal palaces calmly sucking fried chicken grease off his stubby little fingers, with an empty bucket of FKC sitting at his feat.

      I can see it like a movie playing out in my head. Saddam is frantic, worried about the coming attack and the threat to his life. He’s pacing the halls of his palace. Then, he turns a corner and sees Abu (I’m picturing an Iraqi Tom Arnold) sucking on a chicken leg, with grease stains all over the front of his uniform… Abu is shot, a memo is drafted, and Saddam, now distracted, has a good night’s sleep.

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      my music and my family

      The Grammys must have sucked this year. I didn’t see them, but the day afterward there was a message on my answering machine from my mother. It said something to the effect of, “Mark, I hope nothing I said to you year ago kept you from pursuing your music. When I see the kinds of bands that they’re giving Grammys to now, I think that maybe your stuff wasn’t that horrible.” How’s that for a compliment?

      It reminds me of my college graduation (after seven years in and out of school). My grandmother drove up to Michigan from Kentucky with my parents. After the ceremony, we all went back to the house I lived at with my friends Matt, Dan and Dave, and someone decided to pop in a video of live performance by my band, Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink. After a few awkward moments of stunned silence (from the family, not the tape), I took it out. Shortly after that, my grandmother, who is a really sweet woman, asked me, “How does it feel to be up there acting like an asshole in front of all those people?” She really was not happy with me. She didn’t see the humor of it… (Looking at that tape now, I’m not sure that I see it either.)

      I don’t know what she was expecting from me though. Surely she didn’t think that her misfit of a grandson would pop in a tape showing him fronting a big band, playing the hits of Benny Goodman.

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