Saturday, February 28, 2009

Moose-Gate Update

Big Gay Celebrity Edition

Pay no attention to those headlines this morning declaring that everything is vastly worse than we thought it was months ago when we started making jokes about Great Depression 2.0 ("Economy Shrinks at Staggering Rate," shrieks Wa Po; "Sharper Downturn Clouds Obama Spending Plans," howls the Times). We know you don't come to Roxie's World for bummer-inducing analysis of how much vastly worse things are going to get before we find the bottom of the sh_t hole into which we seem to have stumbled. You don't turn to us for grim pronouncements that send you racing back to bed to pull the covers over your sweet, scared little head: There will be BLOOD -- and . . . hoboes and . . . bears -- oh my!!!

Fear not, my darlings. We know why you are here. You long for an update of the shaggy dog story of the week -- the announcement that the Obama family has decided to adopt a Portuguese Water Dog as First Pet and the shocking attack by First Lady Michelle Obama on "Moose" as a proposed name for the new dog. (People magazine broke the story here; we weighed in, with reaction from our own wounded Moose, here.)

First, we've got a report on our effort to help the Obamas come up with an acceptable name for their still mythical dog. So far, I am sorry to say, my legions of loyal fans are not exactly wowing the judges in this round of competition. Two out of the three suggestions submitted have been rejected for violating the rules of the contest (names must be clean, clever, devoid of political incorrectness and should avoid allusions to the Kennedys or major African-American heroes). My brother Geoffrey's proposal of Oprah is out for several obvious reasons, including his tasteless suggestion that it would be amusing to hear the president say, "Oprah, stop humping President Sarkozy's leg!" Historiann's proposal of Bobby appears to have been intended as a sly dig at Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who got such excellent reviews for his response to President Obama's Not Exactly a State of the Union address this week. Unfortunately, the unintended Kennedy reference in Historiann's suggestion caught the attention of the Secret Service, which interpreted the allusion as a threat upon the life of the president (which, you may recall, is how Hillary Clinton's references to Robert Kennedy were interpreted by hyperventilating blogger boyz during the primary campaign). We are hoping Historiann is released from custody in time for her classes next week. (We are cautiously optimistic, noting that she did manage to post today from wherever she's being held -- and that she linked to us!)

The third suggestion came from our dear Candy Man, who offers the enormously flattering idea that the First Family should name its lucky pup after me! Gratifying as that prospect is, we are inclined to think the Obamas aren't likely to go for it, given that America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball never quite endorsed the president and still regularly pops off about his policies and his politics. C'mon, Mr. President -- We've said really nice things about your secretary of state!

The contest continues, people. Goose, you haven't even submitted an entry yet. qta, you are a clever fellow and remarkably good at following rules. Show us your stuff! Your country needs you! As for myself, I offer up the suggestion of Buddy, which would acknowledge that the whole Kennedy thing has been pumped up as a way to distract us from the obvious truth that Barack Obama got his political heart and soul, not to mention most of his executive staff, from the original man from Hope, Bill Clinton. (I will also point out that Buddy, like yours truly, was named after a dead relative. Those of you looking for help in this contest might consult the Obama or Robinson family trees for guidance.)

The big news on Moose-Gate, though, is that no less a figure than Anderson Cooper has weighed in on the travesty of Michelle Obama's attack on "Moose" as a possible name for the dog. Yesterday, filling in for Regis on Live with Regis and Kelly, the cutest queen in the history of closets comes out strongly in support of Moose. He recaps the People story on the family's selection of a breed and then pivots into the controversy over the name. Here's the money quote:
They talk about some of the names that they have rejected, and the name they rejected that I liked the most was "Moose." I like that. I think Moose for a dog would be kinda cool.
Who knew Anderson Cooper was so sweet? so discerning? so devastatingly intelligent? He is also, if you will pardon the expression, a highly effective straight man to Kelly's lovable ditz. The two do great shtick together, which you may all know if you are more regular watchers of Regis and Kelly than we are, but we are such irregular watchers that we actually thought it was still Regis and Kathie Lee when qta called this story to our attention. In any case, here's the clip of Anderson and Kelly in action. The dog talk begins just before the 5:00 mark:

Want more? The dog talk goes on -- and on -- in this next clip, as Kelly recounts a hugely entertaining story of her efforts to get her shih tzu to regurgitate a Hershey's Kiss it had ingested. (Don't worry -- The story wouldn't be funny and we wouldn't pass it along if the dog weren't just fine at the end of it.)

Anyway, my typist thanks you for the validation, Coop. We are glad you like her nickname and pleased as punch to discover that you are able to step outside your earnest news dude persona and bring some needed laughter to the world. You tempt us to tune in to Regis and Whomever the next time you're sitting at the desk.

All right, kids, that's it. Put your thinking caps back on and get out of here. The Canine Onomastics Group, co-chaired by Moose and Frank, will reconvene one week from tonight to choose the best of the names submitted for the Obama family dog. Don't let us down! Don't let your country down! Peace out.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Electrifying News

DC-Area Edition

(Image Credit: Tom Bloom, New York Times)

My typist pays the utility bills in our household (Goose pays for most of the food and liquor, so it comes out about even) and has been grousing all winter about the soaring cost of electricity. Our house is heated by gas, not electricity, so our winter electric bills used to be pretty negligible -- under $50 a month, according to Moose, though her paper records don't go back to that now remote happy time. The other day, however, she got a bill for $188, which put her into an official tizzy over the fundamental unfairness of life in the 21st century. "How are people managing these costs?" she said to Goose. "Why have they gone through the roof, when our patterns of consumption have not significantly changed? Why aren't people kicking and screaming, demanding answers from the utility companies?" "There, there now, dear," Goose replied. "The revolution will be starting any second now. Relax. Have a drink. Let's turn out the lights to save a penny or two."

As it turns out, Moose is not the only consumer feeling the shock of higher bills for electricity. The problem became news last night and this morning after Maryland's Public Service Commission summoned utility officials to testify yesterday at a hearing held in response to complaints about soaring rates and the record number of shut-off notices that are being sent out to customers who have fallen behind on their bills. Close to 3 million such notices were sent out in 2008 by the utilities companies serving Maryland and DC, according to data cited in the Wa Po story. 3 million!

To the shock of absolutely no one, the response from the utilities is to blame colder weather, longer billing cycles, and the inefficiency of customers' electric heating systems. Oh, and the maddening tendency of customers to hang around the house over the holidays and prefer not to freeze their widening rear ends off.

Boy, did that make Moose mad. As I have already mentioned, our house is heated with gas, not electricity. She pulled out bills going back to the winter of 2004-05, the last winter in which our electric bills averaged below $100 a month, and notes a jump in the charge per kilowatt hour from just over a nickel to the current rate of over 11 cents. "Colder weather," she snorted, after she had carefully spread all the bills out on the counter and gotten out a magnifying glass to study the costs per kilowatt hour. "Those evil bastards!"

Wa Po offered an explanation of the situation that struck Moose as more in line with the results of her counter-top data-mining exercise than the excuses offered by the utility companies:
Higher wholesale energy prices continue to push up electricity and natural gas costs, a result of deregulated markets in the District and Maryland. A typical monthly Pepco bill for District customers is $103.67 today, compared with $58.16 in 2004.
No, really? Could it be that what we have here is another example of what a raw deal deregulation is for consumers and what a super-fantastic deal it is for energy companies? Hard to imagine, isn't it, when that whole scheme was pitched to us as a way of lowering our costs, because, you know, that's what competition does? So, now we find ourselves in the midst of economic meltdown with households facing out-of-control costs for basic necessities as well as the cost of all the bells and whistles (cable TV, high-speed internet, and cell phones that put the whole world in our pockets) we decided were necessities somewhere along the way.

Eek, people, this ain't going to be pretty. Whatever shall we do?

Fortunately, the basketball tickets are already paid for, so tonight we'll go to Senior Night for the Mighty Women of Maryland over at Comcast Center. We'll cheer tonight -- and cry over the household bills tomorrow. Free drinks at Ishmael's, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, for anyone with a ticket stub from the Terps game. Stop by! We'll swap tips on how to survive the coming catastrophe -- or just work on our brackets for March Madness. Wevs, kids -- It's Friday! Peace out.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Moose By Any Other Name

Apparently, Team Obama is still a little bitter about the fact that America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball never got around to endorsing the former junior senator from Illinois during his run for the White House. How else to explain this fit of pique from First Lady Michelle Obama over possible names for the dog the family is planning to adopt this spring? People magazine reports today the Obamas have finally settled on a Portuguese Water Dog, the breed favored by Senator Ted Kennedy (because, you know, the whole Camelot Once More meme just hasn't been driven into the dirt yet). Fine, we say, don't get a terrier. We've got more important things to do than be props in your slick political spectacle. We realize the whole group probably needs to be re-branded after poor Barney's association with the Shrub years. But, really, Michelle, did you have to take a swipe at my typist? What's up with that?

Here is the People report on what the First Lady of the United States had to say on the now all-important question of what the Obamas will name their dog:
"Oh, the names are really bad. I don't even want to mention it, because there are names floating around and they're bad," Mrs. Obama says with a laugh. "You listen and you go – like, I think, Frank was one of them. Frank! Moose was another one of them. Moose. I said, well, what if the dog isn't a moose? Moose. I'm like, no, come on, let's work with the names a little bit."
Reached in her office late this afternoon for comment on this obvious attack on her virtual identity, Moose was diplomatic.

"Look, Rox," she said, "everything is just so political for them. Imagine the kerfuffle that would arise among all the A-list blogger boyz who chugged so much Kool-Aid for the Precious if the Obamas were to name their pet after the typist for a dog blog that resolutely refused to endorse the guy! Besides, there is also the highly problematic issue of the origin of my nickname."

"You mean because of the whole Mussolini thing?" I replied.

"Yeah, Rox. I know that you and Goose think it's hilarious, because you have this crazy idea that I'm something of a control freak and that in this limited regard I supposedly bear a faint resemblance to an Italian dictator known for his fondness for order, but I can't see the Obamas standing up and explaining the joke to the American people. Really, I'm not sure even Sasha could pull that one off."

"You're probably right, but I still think it was mean of her to mock the name. I think Moose is a great name, for a person or a dog, despite its association with a dubious historical figure. I should think Barack Hussein Obama would be sympathetic to that problem."

"Indeed, but you know what? Let's show the Obamas that we are ready to rise above our former differences. Let's turn the other cheek on Moose-gate and try to help them solve their problem. Let's enlist your legions of loyal fans in the effort to name the Obamas' dog! I ran across a great suggestion today over on HillBuzz -- that the Obamas should get two dogs and name them Hope and Change."

"Ha! That's really funny, and it's also a wonderful idea."

So, that's it, legions. You are all tagged, every single one of you, to come up with the perfect name for the new First Dog. It has to be clean, it has to be clever, and it must be devoid of even a whiff of political incorrectness. We'd prefer that it steer clear of Kennedy allusions, too, and we'd kinda like to avoid the more obvious heroes of African-American history, but we don't want to set too many limits on your creativity. Submit your suggestions in comments and we'll forward the best ones to the White House. Oh, and the judges for this contest? Moose, of course, and maybe our good friend Frank from Norway, who is not named after any dictator that we know of and will likely never recover from the shock of seeing his perfectly fine name mocked by the First Lady of the United States. We think it's only fair that Moose and Frank should get to make this vital call.

What's in a name, kids? Put on your thinking caps and let Roxie's World know. Peace out.

(With thanks to qta and Kate for pointing us toward the People story.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Props to Pam

(Photo Credit: Karen Tam, Washington Post)

No time to post today, but we have to call your attention to the big wet kiss Wa Po's Style section plants on the deserving cheek of Pam Spaulding, the righteous genius behind Pam's House Blend, which is always one of our first two or three clicks of the day as we wake up to greet the blogosphere. It's a terrific article that recognizes the growing political influence of gay bloggers. Writer Jose Antonio Vargas credits Pam and others with "rebooting the gay rights movement in a decentralized, spontaneous, bottom-up way." The movement needs rebooting, in our humble opinion, so it is encouraging to see HRC president Joe Solmonese quoted in the piece and acknowledging that he reads the Blend. Now, Joe, if you would only heed the good advice Pam and her crack troupe of baristas were doling out on a daily basis!

The Blend averages about 8000 unique visitors a day, which puts Pam just slightly ahead of America's favorite dog blog devoted to politics, pop culture, and basketball, but we're not bitter. We're proud of Pam and celebrate her accomplishment. Besides, as we are fond of saying, there are no small blogs, only small bloggers, and we are definitely not small.

Oh, and while we were curled up with the Style section this morning, we couldn't help but notice this lovely photo of Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep sharing a moment at the Vanity Fair after-Oscars party. We pass it along because you deserve a piece of eye candy to help get you through the day, as do we. Peace out, darlings. Play nice. No fighting over the pretty gold statues your colleagues are getting while you toil silently and unheralded in your cubicle. Do you think Meryl would have such smooth skin if she were bitter? Chin up!

(Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau, Getty Images For Vanity Fair)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes, We DID!

(Maryland seniors Kristi Toliver and Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman cheer on their teammates in the closing moments of Maryland's impressive victory over ACC rival Duke, 2/22/09. Photo Credit: Rob Carr.)

And the Oscar for best ensemble performance by a group of strong, inspired, sweaty young women goes to . . . the Lady Terps!

All you need to know about the deliriously happy ending to an orgy of basketball in College Park, MD this weekend is that Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman combined to score 58 points -- one point less than the entire Duke team -- en route to the Terps' 77-59 victory. After a sloppy, unfocused first half, the Maryland women stormed out in the second half and absolutely dominated the suddenly hapless Blue Devils. On the defensive end of the court, the Terps simply slammed the doors shut on the Devils, holding Coleman's BFF Abby Waner to just 5 points. Meanwhile, the offense scored seemingly at will, shooting a blistering 62.5% in the second half.

It was . . . a thing of beauty.

It was . . . less surprising than what happened yesterday at Comcast, but no less soul-satisfying.

It was . . . just what you want to see your favorite team on earth doing to its arch nemesis on the brink of tournament season.

AP recap is here. Rick Maese's column in the Balto Sun is here. Camille Powell's Wa Po story is here.

And the only half-decent shot Moose was able to get all day is here:

Bits and Pieces

Read these now, or my typist will run naked through the streets screaming, "Roxie, I can't live in a world facing financial collapse, environmental catastrophe, and a whole lot less change than a lot of people were hoping for with 73 tabs open in my browser on stories we may or may not ever get around to blogging!" Please, people, save Moose's dignity and the sanctity of our happy little neighborhood. Read these stories now:

Numbers Nerd Nate Silver (of has Oscar predictions for you. We can't be bothered to make predictions this year, on account of our favorite film of the year, I've Loved You So Long (which sounds so much sexier in the original French, Il y a longtemps que je t'aime), with the sublime Kristin Scott Thomas, wasn't nominated for anything. Also, it's just way too clear that Slumdog Millionaire is going to win for proving that good guys get both money and love, while Kate Winslet will finally get the gold for playing a Nazi redeemed by literature rather than a housewife undone by an unplanned pregnancy even though Revolutionary Road is a much better, if still far from perfect, film than The Reader. We prefer a little suspense in our awards shows, which is why we'll probably bail out on Oscar at 9 p.m. Eastern to see what surprises Bill and the sister-wives have in store for us tonight.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is earning raves for her first big trip abroad. Glenn Kessler's article in Friday's Wa Po on Clinton's "global listening tour" is the nicest thing we've read in the msm on a Clinton in . . . um, ever. The accompanying photo gallery is full of eye candy as flattering to Clinton as anything the devoted Clintonistas here in Roxie's World could have put together. Here's a sample, of Clinton with Special Olympics athletes at Haneda International Airport:

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In other Clinton-related news, you have probably heard that Socks the Cat died this week. We raise a somber paw to the furry former White House resident and direct your attention to this riveting obituary (yes!) by Michael Schaeffer over at the fascinating Obit, which we stumbled across thanks to Tenured Radical.

You know the moms were in the stands at Comcast yesterday when the much maligned Non-Lady Terps pulled off a stunning overtime upset (88-85) of third-ranked North Carolina. No, they didn't rush the floor with all the kids when the game was over, but they certainly understood the impulse and agreed wholeheartedly with elated Coach Gary Williams' description of the atmosphere in the arena. "That was a Cole Field House crowd," Williams said afterward, meaning the noise was thunderous and every heart in the house was pulling for the Terps to pull off the impossible feat of coming back from a 16-point second half deficit to take down the team led by national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough. Read about it here and here. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr, AP)

And of course the moms will be back at Comcast this evening for the women's much awaited rematch with rival Duke, who beat the Lady Terps by 3 points down at Cameron in January. Wa Po's Camille Powell has a heartwarming setup on the close friendship between Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman and Duke's Abby Waner, who are dreaming post-college dreams of co-anchoring a sports chat show. They're arguing over what to call the show. Personally, we like the sound of Shoulders and Shorty (Coleman is 6'1"; Waner a tiny 5'10"), but we have a hunch Waner won't want to give Coleman top billing. Bummer.

Way down deep in the bottom of the grab bag, we've got a couple of pieces on the long-neglected topic of queer aging, which we are supposed to be highlighting in preparation for somebody's fiftieth birthday at the end of March. (Hint: This Nearly Over the Hill Person recently announced that she wants an autographed picture of Shoulders to mark the occasion. This picture, but you probably already knew that, careful reader that you are.) Anyway, check out these stories on alternative senior communities if you're ready to break out of your denial about your own rapidly approaching golden years and start thinking about where and how you might want to live them. This article profiles a community in southwest Virgina that is vaguely spiritual and gender-mixed. And this one profiles a community of lesbians in Alabama who are still doing the whole matriarchal, separatist thing, dog bless them. Whatever floats your boat, womyn, but Moose got booted out of Lesbian Nation decades ago over sarcasm and other supposed vestiges of phallocentrism. She also reckons the snacks will be better if she retires someplace with a few pretty boys who can be counted on to keep their subscriptions to Gourmet current, so she and Goose will be looking for something mixed, urban, non-spiritual, self-cleaning, post-Depression affordable, and close to an ocean. Good luck with that, moms. Your goals, as always, are completely realistic.

Peace out, kids. I've got a game to get ready for. Go, Terps! Smash the Evil Empire of Duke to smithereens!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Queen of Queens

(Photo Credit: Teddy Meyer, Broadside, via Wa Po)

Surely it's a sign of progress that an openly gay drag queen has been elected Homecoming Queen by fellow students at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va, right? Ryan Allen won the title this past weekend after competing for it under his drag persona, Reann Ballslee. Allen grew up in a small town north of Richmond and survived years of taunting after he came out his freshman year of high school. He began performing in drag after coming to Mason in 2005 and says he entered the homecoming queen competition for fun in his senior year. Winning the title, and claiming it in a black skirt and gold sequined top before the crowd at a sold-out basketball game, clearly spelled some serious validation for Allen and, in his judgment, the institution he attends. "In the larger scheme of things, winning says so much about the university," Allen told Wa Po. "We're one of the most diverse campuses in the country, and . . . we celebrate that."

So, we salute Allen for his courage and his fellow students for voting for him. We are sufficiently invested in the royalist mode of queer subjectivities to raise our tiara to any queen with the talent and fashion sense to smack down the competition by lip-syncing Britney Spears while wearing a silver bra and zebra-print pants (which Allen did in the qualifying pageant on Feb. 9). The educators of Roxie's World are also pleased to see the ambitious young school on the other side of the Beltway sending its spokesperson out to declare that the university is "very comfortable" with a queen being selected as queen. "We're fine," Daniel Walsch assured anyone who happened to care. Of course you are, sweet pea, as long as none of your fat-cat donors decides that George Mason has gotten just a little too light in the loafers to deserve a nice big pot of conservative money. We also savor the delicious irony of a queer being named homecoming queen, given that queers from time to time find themselves tossed out of their familial homes and are generally positioned within the cultural logic of heteronormativity as what Freud termed the "unheimlich" -- the un-homelike, unfamiliar, weird, uncanny. (My typist came up with that last fancy-schmancy point. I just like the sequins.)

We like queer visibility. We're huge into the whole school spirit thing, though we thank dog every single day that the moms don't teach at a school whose colors are, like George Mason's, green and gold. The undercurrent of hesitation you may be sensing here stems mostly from the way the story is getting played in the media. "Work that tiara, boy!" snaps the too cool for its own good main header on the Wa Po story from Friday morning, while the subhead plays up a "campus divide" allegedly "sparked" by Allen's selection. (Note to headline writers: If you want to commend a drag queen for the excellence of her performance, you don't call her "boy." You call her "girl.") The contrast between the two headlines is jarring, as if the paper just couldn't decide which demographic to go for -- the hip kids who, like a young woman quoted in the story, embrace Allen as "a queen for everybody," or the old farts (of any age) just itching to launch a new battle in the culture wars. Like the white man of old movie westerns, the paper seems to speak with forked tongue, and it ends up sounding ridiculous -- as incoherent and untrustworthy as any land-grabbing cowpoke ever was. Note to newspaper industry: You are dying of wounds that are largely self-inflicted.

Meanwhile, out on the teevee, Allen's story gets played for laughs. MSNBC promotes it in the category of "weird news." Tamron Hall yuks it up with Allen, feigning disappointment that he didn't show up for his interview "all glammed up." "I hear you did this as a joke," Hall says early in the conversation, "that you really weren't trying to win. What happened here?" Allen acknowledges that he entered the competition for fun, but he goes on to suggest that for him the fun of drag is importantly connected to a strong sense of queer identity and community. He talks about having joked with friends for years about running for the position and makes it clear that the decision to do so during his senior year was a collective one: "We figured this is senior year, so we have to do it." Hall calls it a joke in order to contain the queer energy of Allen's performance, to undermine the significance of his accomplishment. In her eyes, it's a stunt, not a subversion. Allen calls it fun because it's a collective, camp assault on norms that have been used against him and his sissy friends for most of their young lives. He fights back -- and he gets to pass that tiara around to all the girls at the next house party. The joke, we hope, is on Hall.

Paws up to you, Reann Ballslee and to all the girls who helped you earn your moment in the spotlight. You've got an excellent queen wave and a smile that could stop traffic. Just be careful in that spotlight, honey. There's a fine line between being a star and playing the fool, and we don't want you to stumble in your size 12 pumps and end up on the wrong side of that line. Walk tall, little sister, but make sure you know where you are headed.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mid-Week Gay Dance Party

Do-Si-Do Edition

Economy got you down? Avoiding the semester's first set of papers because you're reluctant to dispel the happy illusion that you've got a classroom full of Einsteins on your hands? Yeah, us, too.

Forget your troubles, kids -- Let's dance! We picked this vid up over at Shakesville, by way of Portly Dyke. The production values are low, but the entertainment value is high, especially for Sapphic sisters of a certain age and all the pretty male lesbians who hang out in Roxie's World with their U-Haul dreams and their long, sad records of spectacular loves gone tragically awry. (Yes, sweet pea, we mean you.) Give it a click, have a good laugh, and we'll get back to you when we've got time to be devastatingly funny about the sucktastically bad news the world keeps offering up for our consideration. Peace out -- and yee-haw!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shoulders Shot of the Day

(Maryland's Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman goes up for a rebound against Myia McCurdy of Rutgers at Comcast Center, 2/15/09. Photo Credit: Greg Flume [go here, then click on "Photo Gallery"])

Wa Po headline says it all: Terrapins Get Physical, Top Rutgers

Well, not quite all. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer had a pretty clear sense of why her team was so thoroughly whupped by the surging Turtles of Maryland:
I thought that Maryland played better defense than I've seen them play. I think they enjoyed playing defense today, and they were aggressive. Obviously the ball wasn't going in the basket, but we had opportunities. I thought that we may have stood around a little too much, and they put pressure on us as a group.
It's true. Rutgers has a nasty habit of winning games by taking teams out of their rhythm. They slow things down, burn so much time off the shot clock that their opponents are likely to nod off on the defensive end of the court. That strategy worked against the Scarlet Women today, because they fell behind and couldn't play quickly enough to catch up. Maryland stayed sharp on defense and didn't get rattled on the offensive end of the court. Rutgers got into foul trouble, and Maryland made 23 of 28 free throws. Rutgers only made it to the line 7 times, which either means Maryland's inspired defense was also remarkably efficient or the refs are on the payroll at QTU.

The Terps only have 4 games remaining on their schedule before tournament season starts, including Senior Night, Feb. 27, against Boston College. On that sad night, the jerseys of Kristi Toliver and Marissa Coleman will be hoisted into the rafters at Comcast Center. Moose wonders if the shoulders of Shoulders' jersey will be arranged in the maximally exposing manner that earned the star her nickname here in Roxie's World. Moose thinks they should be. She is even willing to climb up to the rafters every single day to make sure the shoulders of Shoulders' jersey are carefully calibrated to her specifications, because Moose is sure the Lady Terps would not have won that national championship back in '06 if Shoulders had not had maximum exposure and complete freedom of movement in this particular, powerful, elegantly sculpted part of her finely tuned athletic body. When Coleman's career is but a memory and that jersey in the rafters is the only trace of her left in the building, Moose will feel better knowing that Shoulders' shoulders are arranged just so. She thinks it will inspire future generations of QTU players to . . . greatness.

Oh, boy, kids. Why do I get the feeling March madness is off to an early start for some fans around here? Wake me when it's over, will you? Peace out.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Kitsch-O-Rama

A friend (and loyal reader) works in a flower shop. She came to dinner last night bearing a lovely flower arrangement -- her second of the week, actually (yes, we do inspire unexpected displays of excessive devotion, and we love them) -- but she also brought with her a little story from the flower shop that reminded us of why we are cynical about Valentine's Day. She reported that men occasionally come into the shop during the VD rush and place two separate orders. They pay for one with a credit card and pay for the other with cash. The cash orders, our observant friend is certain, are for their mistresses. She also notes that the cash orders are usually about half the cost of the wife's order. Yep, that's why we're cynical about Valentine's Day: Big, dumb, money-driven spectacle of manufactured emotion aimed at deflecting attention from the steaming load of lies that is heteropatriarchy. Wanna show the missus something a little closer to the truth, buddy? Forget the flowers. Take her to see Revolutionary Road for Valentine's Day.

Oops. Did we neglect to tell you that we love you? We do, you know, but not because of some fake holiday cooked up by the sentimentality industry. We love you, because . . . because . . . because . . . you're here.

Oh, and if you're home cruising the internets on a rare Saturday night VD, then you are likely in need of some reading material to go along with that stiff drink you're nursing. Am I right? Here you go, my lonely beloveds:
My typist has to go now, because the moms are going to celebrate Valentine's Day by eating leftovers and re-watching last week's stupendous episode of Big Love before this week's stupendous episode airs tomorrow night. (Yes, after 25 years, they get to bypass the compulsory romantic dinner and do what they really want to do on Valentine's Day.) We will leave you with this heart-warming video of the greatest love song ever written by the most dynamic duo in the history of American popular music. This one goes out to everyone who had a radio in 1973, but it's especially for my brother, the Official Prep School Teacher of Roxie's World, who's got the biggest heart on earth and the worst musical taste of anyone we know, except for Moose, of course.

Sing it with us, kids, and know that your love puts us at the top of the world, always:

Friday, February 13, 2009

Suitable for Framing

(Photo Credit: Tony L. Sandys, Washington Post)

Marissa "Shoulders" Coleman scored a season-high 28 points last night to lead the 11th-ranked Lady Terps to a 94-78 victory over 17th-ranked Virginia, avenging their loss a couple of weeks ago in Charlottesville. Coleman also moved into second place on QTU's all-time scoring list, with 1,931 career points, passing the great Vicky Bullett and lagging behind only former teammate Crystal Langhorne.

Wa Po's Camille Powell commended the Terps for a "gritty, focused effort." Coach B. said the contest felt more like a heavyweight match than a basketball game.

Shoulders played an inspired game, according to Goose, scoring the Terps' first six points and putting up a couple of monstrous blocks. It was a team effort, though, with fellow senior Kristi Toliver contributing 25 points and 5 assists, while junior Dee Liles managed 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots, despite having the flu.

Shoulders ended the game with leg cramps and bloody knees that required two stoppages of play so she could change out of her blood-stained shorts -- right in front of dog and everybody there at the Comcast Center!

According to Wa Po, Coleman said of her public presto-changeo:
"We could've had a malfunction. That could've went bad," said Coleman, when asked why her teammates didn't shield her from the crowd. "I'll have to talk to my teammates about that later."
Moose is in seclusion today, mourning the fact that she was not there last night to tend to her fallen heroine in her moment of need due to a pre-existing professional commitment. (It was an important commitment and Moose was happy to stick by it, but sometimes a girl does wish she could be two places at once.) She could have raced to the floor to apply a tourniquet to Coleman's wounds. She would have gallantly offered up her bright red Lands' End Terps jacket to shield Coleman from the 7,053 sets of prying eyes. "The game must go on!" she would have shouted to the whistle-happy refs for going all ER over the sight of a little blood. "And don't use the term 'stoppage,' dammit. 'Stoppage' is not a word, or it shouldn't be. It is a crime against language!"

Fear not, Terps fans. Moose will be in the stands on Sunday when Shoulders and company face the Scarlet Women of the moms' alma mater, Rutgers. Coach C. Vivian Stringer's crew may have fallen to 14-9, but they always give the Terps fits with their scrappy defense and their slower style of play. The moms will be there with their signs. And maybe, you know, a first-aid kit and an extra set of clothes.

Just in case.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paws Up for Stump!

(Photo Credit: Barton Silverman, New York Times, 2/11/09)

Let's hear it for the old guy! Stump, a 10-year-old Sussex spaniel, took Best in Show last night at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show at Madison Square Garden. Stump had retired from the ring four years ago with a serious but undetermined illness. That means his triumph is triply dogalicious: He is the oldest dog ever to take the top prize at Westminster, the first of his breed to do so, and an awe-inspiring medical miracle! What's not to love?

Way to go, little dude. I've got nearly five years on you, and loyal readers know that my own noble breed has picked up more Best in Show prizes at Westminster than any other breed, but I am delighted to welcome you to the winner's circle. Oh, and to Scott Sommer, Stump's handler and co-owner, who lets the old dog sleep in his bed, between the sheets, congratulations and a thorough face lick from the cranky old bitches of Roxie's World.

By the way, word is Stump won't maintain the hectic travel schedule of last year's BIS winner, the affable beagle, Uno, who visited the White House and rode a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Sommer told the Times, “Stump’s going to travel back to Houston and kind of stay there. He doesn’t travel that much.”

Paws up to that, Stump. Take the prize -- and then take a nap, between the sheets. You've earned it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dykes Against Makeup?

Er, wait, could this be a case of a dyke against bad attitude from a player who refuses to listen to a coach's advice on how to improve her game? You decide. Er, nah, let's let a jury decide. That way, maybe the straight girl can make some easy money off her former coach. Honey, maybe when she said you weren't her "type," she meant you were a loser.

From the Associated Press:
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Central Michigan and its women's basketball coach are being sued by a former player, who claims her heterosexuality was a factor in losing a scholarship after two seasons.

Brooke Heike
said she fell out of favor with Sue Guevara immediately after the coach was hired in 2007. Heike said Guevara told her she wore too much makeup and was not the coach's "type."

That meant she wasn't a lesbian, according to a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Bay City. The former Romeo High School star lost her scholarship after the 2007-08 season.

"I didn't feel that she did anything to improve herself after being told over and over what she needed to do," Guevara told an appeals committee last June.

Heike's lawsuit claims the appeals panel "simply rubber-stamped defendant Guevara's bad-faith decision to deprive plaintiff of her scholarship and dismiss her from the team" for reasons unrelated to basketball.

Central Michigan spokesman Steve Smith said the allegations have no merit and the university will "vigorously defend its position in court."

Guevara, a former coach at Michigan, was hired by the Chippewas in 2007. Heike was recruited by the previous coach, Eileen Kleinfelter. Heike played in 11 games as a freshman but only six in her sophomore season under Guevara.

"I had faith in CMU. I liked CMU. I wanted to give it everything I could," Heike told Guevara during the meeting on her appeal. "I wasn't going to give up. You gave up on me."

Heike has been attending community college since leaving campus, her lawyer, Cindy Rhodes Victor, said. "She was so traumatized by the experience," Victor said Tuesday.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and an unspecified cash award.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Don't Divorce Us

Check out the latest from the Courage Campaign, which is fighting for the repeal of California's Prop 8 and against Ken Starr's effort to un-do the marriages of same-sex couple who were wed before the measure passed in November. Watch the vid, hum along to Regina Spektor's wonderful "Fidelity," then click on over and sign the letter to the California Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the Prop 8 case on March 5.

We've blogged on the Courage Campaign before, and we reserve the right to do so again. We give them props for realizing that, in a culture that has reduced its politics to the rankest forms of individualism and sentimentality, you might as well give in and show the teary, big-eyed kids, the guys in their tuxes and pink ties, the girls in white dresses and sensible shoes, the bellies swollen with children longing to be born to legally wedded homos. Whatever it takes, people. The idea of a state forcibly divorcing citizens should make each and every one of us sick with rage. Watch the vid. Then do something, dammit, or I swear we'll update you on the progress of Moose's shingles.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

With love and a hat tip to the Baby Sister of the Moosians, who posted this to her Facebook page and is rapidly becoming the queerest straight girl we know.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Randomly Roxie

Not that anyone tagged me or anything, but I figure if both NYT and Wa Po have pieces on some cultural phenomenon on the same day, then in effect we’ve all been tagged and I should probably get in on the action. Both of the moms devoted significant chunks of last weekend to composing their lists of “25 Random Things About Me,” the meme that has been spreading like a virus through Facebook (who knew randomness could take so much time?). They then spent what was left of the weekend reading and commenting on other people’s lists to see if theirs were as clever and creative and charming and poignant as everybody else’s was. A week later, the nation’s papers of record weigh in to help us figure out if we are a nation of narcissists or a nation of strangers desperate for any way to connect with others – as long as we don’t actually have to, you know, interact with them. Third possibility: We are a nation of fiddlers frantically stroking our violins while the global economy goes up in flames all around us and our charming young president tries to figure out how to play hardball. Fourth possibility: People are stressed and looking for ways to laugh and decompress. If you don’t like the lists, then for dog’s sake don’t click on them.

We digress. Go read Krugman if you feel a need to get your knickers in a wad over the economy. We’re here to bare our souls, to share all that you’ve longed to know about us – and then some. Here, as randomly as my control freak of a German typist would allow me to make it, is my list of 25 Random Things About Me. Drum roll, please? Thank you!

1. I was born on Andrews Air Force Base, which is why I’ve always felt a cozy sense of familiarity with the military helicopters that regularly fly over our house. The moms were born in hospitals, which perhaps explains why they are less fond of helicopters and make frequent jokes about hand-held rocket launchers when there’s a chopper in the neighborhood.

2. In keeping with a tradition in Goose’s family of naming dogs after dead relatives, I was named after Moose’s maternal grandmother, Roxie Irene Brown.

3. My birth parents, a handsome pair of AKC-registered WFTs named Samantha and Gilligan, were named after protagonists of 60s sitcoms that the moms both watched and loved in their separate childhoods in Texas and Indiana.

4. I spit up on Goose in the car when the moms were driving me to my new home with them. She snuggled me closer and said it smelled sweet. I had a hunch I had stumbled into a pretty good deal when I leapt into her arms as they came through the door that beautiful May afternoon in 1994.

5. I’ve explained this before, but newer readers may not know that Moose and Goose got their names as a tribute to their different styles as dog parents. “Moose” is short for Mussolini, and “Goose” is short for Mother Goose. Guess who’s the disciplinarian and who’s the one we call the Freedom Schooler?

6. To Moose’s shame and considerable chagrin, I was an obedience school dropout. I got into quite a showdown one night with Renée, the rather formidable black dyke who ran the class, when she was trying to teach me the “down” command. Needless to say, though I understood it immediately, I did not cotton to this particular command, so I tried to bite Renée to convey my displeasure. Renée got down on her knees, put her hand around my throat, looked me right in the eye and thundered, “Bite or breathe, Roxie!” We never went back, and to this day I have never gone into a down for anyone, anywhere. I will, however, sit for treats and come, if it’s convenient.

7. Because it often wasn’t convenient for me to come when called, the moms would try to lure me inside by offering me favorite foods. Many an evening, they would find themselves on the deck singing out into the darkness, “Roxie, do you want some couscous?” or, “Roxie, do you want some cake?” depending on what was the most effective treat at the time. One of the most embarrassing moments of Moose’s life was when a neighbor asked her at a party, “Why are you always yelling ‘couscous’ into the back yard?”

8. My first dog pal was a German Short-Haired Pointer named Jazz, who made me think I was a very big dog indeed. I have never been given any reason to believe this is not the case.

9. The only thing I ever met that intimidated me was the Atlantic Ocean. When the moms took me for a walk on an ocean beach, I looked up at them as if to say, “Do not under any circumstances let me off my leash! What the heck is that?”

10. Of course, the moms would never have let me off my leash. When I was a speedy young cuss, though, I made a couple of great escapes out our front door. One time, Moose chased me barefooted through a neighbor’s back yard in the middle of a barbecue. “Excuse me!” she shouted as she raced after me. “She went thataway,” the bemused neighbor said.

11. Rather than chasing me, Goose would sit on a curb and pretend to cry when I got away. “Oh, boohoo-hoo, Roxie, please come back!” It actually worked, once, but then I figured out the trick and went on about my adventure. The best way to capture me was to get close to me in the car and say, in an exceptionally cheerful voice, “Roxie, you wanna go for a ride?” That’s an offer I never could refuse. My Aunt Margie caught me that way once when she joined in a neighborhood SWAT team that had been put together to find me.

12. Just last week, to prove that I am still an adventurer and still capable of mischief, I walked out the front door when no one realized it was open and took myself down to Sligo Creek Parkway, close by the trail where the moms and I used to walk miles and miles together. Some very responsible neighbors saw me and were concerned because of my shaky gait. They called the number on my tag and a grateful Goose came and picked me up. Both moms were impressed with my stamina and my instinct to return to the scene of so many long happy walks. “I’m still the mayor of this trail,” I reminded them.

13. The regal profile photograph of me up at the top of the sidebar was taken on my very first boat ride. We were visiting the Carolina Moosians at their vacation home on Smith Mountain Lake. Moose took the picture and titled it, with a hat tip to the Boss, “Let the Wind Blow Back Your Ears.

14. How weird are the moms? Part I: Moose has spent much of the week feeling that the 14th item on her list of “25 Random Things About Me” got her into some kind of karmic trouble. What was her 14th item?
My mother is a hypochondriac. My wholly rational reaction to this fact is that I don't believe in germs, allergies, flu shots, herbs, or doctors. If it can't be cured by Tums, Motrin, a stiff drink, or a long walk, I just don't want to mess with it.
And what has her week been like? She has had two doctor’s appointments, spent $300 on an anti-viral medication (because she refuses to pay for prescription drug coverage, convinced as she is that the pharmaceutical industry is more evil than the Taliban), and is spending Friday night in her red leather chair wondering what weird, unpleasant thing is going to happen next. She believes she tempted fate and that fate decided to kick her in the pants. (Don’t be alarmed, kids. You know Moose gets dramatic when she doesn’t feel well. She’s got chickenpox for grownups, which isn’t pretty but also isn’t fatal.)

15. How weird are the moms? Part II: Goose has spent much of the week trying to figure out just what to say or do for her grouchy, uncomfortable partner. “I wish I could fix it,” was met with a surly, “I’m sure you do.” “How ‘bout a drink?” “No, thanks. I’m watching my lips swell.” One minute Moose declares she is untouchable. The next Goose is summoned to the bathroom to put lotion on her back. It’s hard to be a ministering angel when the devil’s moved into the house.

16. One of my earliest fond memories is of running around our ridiculously large back yard while the moms were playing croquet with some friends. (This was their first season as homeowners. They were experimenting with different styles of suburban lesbianism.) I raced up and down the yard until I exhausted my tiny little self, at which point the croquet players started passing me from hand to hand so they could coo endearments into my ear. Someone started calling me “baby dog,” a term the moms still use when I do something exceptionally cute.

17. I have to confess that sometimes I have taken my job as security manager a little too seriously. On three occasions I have gotten into fights serious enough to draw blood while guarding my home territory. One of those fights was with my best dog pal, Chance, the high-strung but good-hearted border collie. We remain excellent friends to this day and blame our humans for the altercation.

18. My most selfless, heroic act ever was trying to save my trans-girl cat sister, Lily, who lapsed into a diabetic coma while the irresponsible humans were off at a concert. When they finally got home, I barked hysterically until they found Lily and then climbed up on the dining room table to watch over their efforts to resuscitate her. When she was better, I licked her face until it was clean of every trace of honey they had smeared on it. For the one and only time in her life, Lily reacted to my devoted attention with gratitude rather than feline contempt.

19. Like Goose, I have had two near-death experiences, one when I went into congestive heart failure not long after my mitral valve prolapse was diagnosed and the other when I had a vicious bout of pancreatitis in the summer of 2006. Moose set up my blog after the first incident and nearly shut it down after the second. Drama queen!

20. Humans will do amazing things for animals they love. When I went on a hunger strike after I started my heart meds, Goose cooked all my food for me – goulashes, meat loaves, grilled chicken. I lived like a queen! You all know about the liverwurst they use twice a day every day to get me to take my meds. Oh, they are clever, diabolical women.

21. I wander a lot these days inside the house. Sometimes I end up in corners and am not sure how I got there. Usually one of the moms comes along and turns me around. “Silly old girl,” she’ll say with a gentle rub behind an ear. Or at least I think that’s what she says. My old ears aren’t as sharp as they used to be.

22. A mystery: If humans are, for the most part, so kind to animals, why are they, too often, so unkind to one another and so terribly cruel to the planet that gives them life? I’ve spent many a long nap pondering this great conundrum and have never gotten anywhere near understanding it.

23. A dream: The three of us on the trail again, on a perfect afternoon in June, deciding to go all the way to Wayne and making up a song to sing on the long walk home.

24. If I could, I’d tag Chance and my pal Foxy, way out in the remote kingdom of Illinois, for this exercise. As it is, I’ll tag Historiann, because she hates Facebook, and my fellow WFT blogger, Buster. Keep it goin’, kids!

25. Here’s what Moose listed as the last of her “25 Things”:
Blogging will either be the ruin or the salvation of my academic career, but it gives me such profound creative, intellectual, and interpersonal pleasure that I honestly don't care where it leads. Note to students: Follow your bliss.
That sounds about right. Except for the blogging part. What the heck does Moose know about that? ;-)

Follow your bliss, beloveds. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Barack's Bad Day

(President Obama with a second-grade class at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, 2/3/09. Photo Credit: Larry Downing, Reuters)

The story is old at this point (blame my typist, of course), but the image is worth a thousand words and it hasn't gotten a lot of play, so we toss it up anyway. It accompanied Wa Po snark-meister Dana Milbank's piece this morning on the president and first lady's trip to a DC charter school yesterday to read to second graders after it was announced that Obama's nominees for chief performance officer (Nancy Killefer) and secretary of health and human services (Tom Daschle) had withdrawn from consideration for their posts because of tax problems. Obama went to the school and read the kids "The Moon Over Star," because, he said, "We were just tired of being in the White House."

To which Milbank quips, predictably yet deftly, "Good thing it wasn't 'My Pet Goat.'"

Good thing indeed.

Note to the New American President and to All Future American Presidents: Dontcha think that those awful pictures of Shrub on September 11 -- surrounded by kids and with a look at once vague and panic-stricken on his face -- emblazoned as they are in the nation's memory of that terrible day -- pretty much mean that no president should ever again be caught reading to schoolchildren? Seriously, guys. Don't you realize that seeing the president in that setting, if it doesn't trigger a national fit of post-traumatic stress disorder, will at a minimum invite viewers to see a resemblance between Mr. Obama and his hapless predecessor, especially if he lets his guard down in front of the cameras and allows himself to be photographed looking as weary, exasperated, and un-presidentially human as Obama looks in the photo above?

Mr. President, the cameras are never, never not on you. Cameras helped to make your candidacy, in part because you looked so at ease in front of them, but they can undermine your presidency if you are not careful. Two weeks into the job and nothing more than a couple of disappointing personnel snafus and -- oh, yeah, the small matter of global economic collapse -- on your mind, and you look like a guy who's already had enough.

"We were just tired of being in the White House." Wow. Really? Why do we think the new Belle of Foggy Bottom would never have said anything so ungracious about living in the people's house? Maybe that's why you made her the nation's chief diplomat. There's one personnel decision you didn't blow, Mr. President. Good call. Good call.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Bruce Bowl

(Bruce Springsteen performs at halftime at the Super Bowl in Tampa, 2/1/09.)

Does it matter that the old man skips some of the high notes nowadays, even in a 12-minute Super Bowl halftime set? Nah, not really.

Do we care that he held the mic out to the audience for the big guttural yell that provides the exclamation point for "Born to Run"'s passionate declaration that "I wanna die with you out on the streets tonight / in an everlasting kiss?" Nuh-uh, we'd probably do the same thing.

Do we view his having signed on for the gig in the first place as a shocking betrayal of his working-class roots, progressive politics, and rock-and-roll soul? If you think he didn't do that a long time ago, we've got four words, sweet pea: "Dancing in the Dark." (Wa Po sportswriter Liz Clarke has a thorough and compelling analysis of her tortuously long process of disillusionment with the Boss, a process that began with the aforementioned pop ballad from 1984's Born in the USA [reaching for the mainstream much?] and culminated in tonight's sellout in Tampa. It's a must-read for Bruce fans, though it will hurt to make your way through the story as told by someone so devoted to Springsteen that she haunted the bars of the Jersey shore in the early 80s in hopes of catching a set by the rising young rocker and traveled the country to catch multiple stops on his increasingly ambitious tours.)

Anyway, no, we don't begrudge the Boss his vocal shortcuts or his decision to pimp a new record (Working on a Dream) on one of the largest pop cultural stages in the universe. Hell, dude's got kids to educate, and we've made a few compromises of our own along the way. Haven't we all, tramps? We thought that on the whole the mini-gig was a success: a nice mix of old ("Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run," "Glory Days") and new ("Working on a Dream"), the band in fine form, and Bruce yukking it up big for the crowd.

No, what concerns us is not the quality of the voice or the venues for the performances. After thirty years of making their own journeys through the tunnels and out to the backstreets to meet the man, the aging former Jersey Girls of Roxie's World are concerned with the quality of the music itself. This is a point Clarke makes, too, in a devastating section of her article focused on the cringe-inducing quality of some of Springsteen's lyrics in recent years:
It pains me to say it, but I think Bruce needs a thesaurus. Better still, an editor -- someone bold enough to send back his first drafts and tell him he can do better. There are several at The Washington Post. Maybe I could recommend one. Failing that, I'd like to propose a list of words he can't use anymore: "gypsy," "biker," "devil," "angel," "highway," "road" and "river," for starters. He has plowed this terrain enough.
The moms agree, wholeheartedly. At his best, Springsteen produces songs that are masterpieces of lyrical craftsmanship -- taut lines that evoke characters, settings, and situations as vividly as a fine short story, as suggestively as an impressionist painting. Pick an early song at random to see what we mean:
One soft infested summer
Me and Terry became friends
Trying in vain to breathe
The fire we was born in
Clarke offers several excellent examples of the clunkers and clichés that have cropped up in Springsteen's lyrics in the last few years, including the execrable "Mary's Place" from The Rising ("Meet me at Mary's place, we're gonna have a party / Tell me how do we get this thing started"). She is kind enough to overlook the flat-footed music that is too often the vehicle for these uninspired lyrics. From first listen, "The Rising" has always struck Moose as a musical re-make of a song that should never have been recorded in the first place, Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner." (Click on those links, and I swear you will agree that Miller has grounds for a lawsuit.)

Goose has maintained for years that the Boss was suffering from a creative crisis, finding it harder and harder to find anything new to say or do in the young man's genre of rock 'n roll. In some rare and wonderful projects -- The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995), We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006) -- he has found ways to use his age and experience to advantage, deeply mining a range of American musical idioms to bring to his audiences the rich history that made rock possible. The teachers around here may be biased, but we like Bruce in the role of rock pedagogue. He's a smart guy. It suits him, and he doesn't have to spend all his time trying to relive the glory days of his youth on the boardwalk to do it.

We've got the new album in the house but haven't listened to it closely enough yet to render a verdict. Our hunch, though, is that Working on a Dream won't be the breakthrough we've been hoping for, at least not if the video of "My Lucky Day," which Moose sardonically calls "My Bad Hair Day," is any indication. Bruce looks old and disheveled, and the song is just so-so.

Bruce, baby: Get a haircut, lose that odd mound of beard under your lip, and don't release another record until you've got something new -- or something brilliantly, powerfully old -- to say. We're guessing that gig you played tonight will get all three kids through college and maybe pay for a nice cruise for you and Mrs. Boss. Relax. Put the Stratocaster away for awhile. Inspiration will find you again, maybe out on the back porch rather than the backstreets, but it will find you. And if it doesn't, so what? You wrote the greatest rock 'n roll song ever written. The highways are jammed with broken heroes who never accomplished anything remotely comparable to that. Maybe you were born to . . . pay the mortgage and retire?