keeping america scared

I’m surprised it’s taken this long, but someone has just strung together all of the fear mongering quotes delivered by the Republicans during their New York convention. It’s a pretty persuasive piece of tape. About an hour after I watched it the first time, I found myself down in the basement, looking over our emergency provisions. (We have about half a dozen cans of vegetarian refried beans, two gallons of water, a jumbo bag of circus peanuts, and tons and tons of plastic spoons.) Fear is a big motivator. Hopefully, however, it won’t decide this election. Clearly, when people are thinking logically, as they were when they were polled after last week’s debate, the Democrats win. We just need to be sure that the discourse in America continues to stay focused on substantive issues, and that’s going to be incredibly difficult, given the fact that Tom Ridge can call for an upgrade to “threat level red” anytime he likes.

As long as we’re talking about the intersection of fear and politics:
I was just thinking about Halloween and how we might take advantage of the holiday to keep people thinking about the issues… Last year, my friend Chelsea and I talked about trying to get people around the US to carve pumpkins without mouths, hoping that it might bring attention to the existence of so-called Free Speech Zones. We just couldn’t get our shit together in time to make it work though… So, I was wondering if any of you might have ideas to contribute. We’ve still got almost a month, and I’m sure we can come up with something, even if it’s just suggesting that people wrap their candies up in “please ask your parents to vote for the candidate least likely to send you to war” leaflets before handing them out. I’m thinking that there has to be a way to take advantage of the fact that so many people are out and about that evening, just a few days before the election.

Maybe we could suggest that everyone dress their kid as their favorite Chicken Hawk. (If she were older I’d send Clementine out as Rush Limbaugh circa 1970. I don’t think it would be too hard to dress her up in a little flesh-colored fat-suit and glue on a fake anal cyst like the one Rush relied on to avoid the draft. If she didn’t like the idea of being a fat asshole with a cyst, though, there are lots of others to choose from. Maybe she could be Jack Kemp, whose bad knee kept him from going to Vietnam, but didn’t keep him from later playing in the NFL.)

OK, since we haven’t had one in a while, I’ve decided to make this a contest. The best Halloween Action idea will win this life-size cutout of the late John Ritter. (I just walked into Linette’s office and saw that she was planning to throw it out. I was horrified at the thought of getting rid of it, even though it’s rather ragged. (It’s an OCD thing. You wouldn’t understand.) I told her that we had to keep it and then went about unfolding it in the living room, at which point Freeda (the dog) went absolutely ape shit. She must have thought that I was doing some kind of black magic. One minute I was standing there by myself with a bulky handful of papers, and then the next there was a man standing beside me with a gun. I kept telling her that he was only two-dimensional, but it didn’t matter. I even let him drift down to the floor so that she could walk on him, but she kept barking. She was acting so nuts that Linette took the baby in the other room for fear of being attacked. So, obviously we can’t keep Mr. Ritter. And, since I refuse to just let him be thrown out, I thought that perhaps one of you could give him a good home… (note: Linette suggested that perhaps Freeda was acting crazy not because there was suddenly a stranger in our living room, but because she knew that John Ritter was dead and suspected that we were being visited by his ghost.)) At any rate, this is what you’ll be playing for. Good luck to all who wish to enter.

* note: speaking of competitions, I haven’t forgotten about the one we started some time back to concoct a new drink called a Clementine. I just haven’t felt much like drinking hard liquor lately. Once that changes, I’ll try the three finalists out and declare a winner. I promise.

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  1. Andy
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    A mass trick-or-treating mob with everyone dressed as their favorite Abu Ghraib(TM) character.

  2. Jim
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    That’s the winner–the most memorable costumes this season will be Abu Ghraib inspired. How about the Bush twins on leashes? (I refer to an attempt at humor from last Thursday evening, which revealed that the Commander-in-Chief has still not learned that leashing humans is not funny.)

  3. kez panel
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Hmmm… Beans, water, circus peanuts, spoons… you forgot the most important item: Wetnaps! and not those tiny ones the restaurants hand out. I’m talking about the large anti-bacterial ones with extra “juice” found in the “outdoor wilderness” section of the grocery store.

    As for jack-o-lantern ideas, I’m clueless. I live in the city, in a high-traffic area among the restaurants and clubs, and any jack-o-lantern set out would be smashed or abused within minutes by any drunken raver or bar-hopper walking by. The goths usually just point and laugh, which is also humiliating.

  4. Tony Buttons
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Here’s an idea. Dress your child up like president Bush during the debates. You can even make a tiny lightweight podium for him carry around with him. Then you, the parent, stand in the bushes like Karl Rove, telling the little fellah what to say through an earpiece.

  5. chris
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Seeing as we too own a dog, I was thinking that rather than the John Ritter cutout how bout that amazing framed Keane print (or better yet an original!) on the wall over the toiletas a prize. I will come up with something awesome for you if that is up for competition.

  6. mark
    Posted October 4, 2004 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    What else can you spot in Mark

  7. Posted October 5, 2004 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    Want to drive Freeda crazy? Make sweet love to the Ritter cut out.

  8. mark
    Posted October 5, 2004 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, it

  9. Posted October 5, 2004 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Just make sure your little trick-or-treating Dubya has the requisite “lump in the jacket” as an indicator of the previously mentioned wireless assistance. It’s much more authentic this way.

  10. dennis barger
    Posted October 6, 2004 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    i just gotta know where you got a hooperman standee from???…that was one of my favorite shows
    if you never saw it, it was great

  11. mark
    Posted October 6, 2004 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    I’m impressed, Cory. My “lump” doesn’t extend nearly that far up into my jacket… As for Hooperman, I never saw the show. I did, however, watch the British televison program on which Three’s Company was based.

    So, any more ideas for Halloween? Don’t give up yet. I have faith in you.

  12. Heather Groll
    Posted December 11, 2004 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Mark, Hello, my name is Heather Groll. I am a 19 year old college student from Pittsburgh PA who has been ridiculously looking for a life-sized cut-out of my biggest TV crush, John Ritter. I found your website and read about the contest to win the sad looking shabby cut-out of John Ritter and decided I just had to try to have it! I do, unfortunately, realize that it may have been given away as a prize already, but if you or anyone can help me out by forwarding this message to the prize winner, or just emailing me contact information, that would be wonderful! I’m willing to pay a hefty price for it. I hope you can help me out.
    Heather Groll
    P.S.- please email me back either way to let me know, Thank you!

  13. mark
    Posted December 11, 2004 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Heather. I never gave away the cut-out. There was never a winner for that contest, so still have John here in my office… Do you have something to trade? Make me an offer.

  14. Heather Groll
    Posted January 4, 2005 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I would like to say hello to every one, and Happy new year. For those of you who don’t know who I am or have not heard, I am the future second wife of John Ritter (I guess you could say I was widowed before marrage…damn)I contaced Mark about a month ago wondering if he still had the life sized cut-out of John Ritter. To my absolute surprise he did, and I have offered a fare trade for my husband. Mark, I have been thinking over the very busy holiday of what would be the perfect trade…Well I think I finaly found one. I have this life size cut-out of the imfamouse Pamala Anderson, posing in a baywatch uniform; looking like the all american working girl…or something like that. So just let me know if that would be a fare trade and I’ll put Pamala in the mail! Thanks again!

  15. mark
    Posted January 5, 2005 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Heather, I got your note, and I’m considering your offer. In the next day or two, I’ll print something on the front page about it…. Stay tuned.

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