I copied the column below from the archives of www.blogforiowa.com. It will appear within a new Kindle offering that will go up very soon on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The title of the book is Laughing through Life, and it chronicles funny stories from my first years as a young wife, mother and teacher, on through the following of the presidential candidates in 2004 and 2008 and up to the present. When it appears for sale, I’ll be sure to let you know. For now, enjoy this “sneak preview” of one of the offerings within it. (And if you want to see the original picture of Al Franken and me, check the archives of www.blogforIowa.com.
Keynote Speaker – Al Franken
AND YOU ARE THERE!
”A Mush Mute, a Big Hat and a Plum”
Just a few comments about the October 16th Jefferson/Jackson (2004) annual Democratic dinner at Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines.
1) The acoustics at Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium suck.
2) Because the acoustics suck, the large TV screens have captioning. The captioning must be done by a machine. This can lead to much merriment. Especially if you have made it your goal, after at least three hours of waiting, to obtain and consume a minimum of three glasses of white zinfandel prior to Al Franken’s appearance.
3) “Ed is the Governor of Pencil.” I think the machine MEANT to say that Ed is or was the Governor of Pennsylvania.
4) The word “Dear” is listed as “Deer.”
5) The machine cannot make up its mind whether the choir of Gospel Singers is from the Maple or Elm Street Missionary Baptist Church Choir. At this point, the machine is introducing various tree types. Things are very confused.
6) We are asked to join hands with the person next to us. The person next to me, on my right, is Thomas Fischermann, Economic Correspondent for the German weekly “Die Zeit.” I tell Tom that holding hands in this fashion in America means that we are now legally married. Tom tells me that he knows this isn’t true, as he was raised Catholic. I admit that I lied (which is more than I can say for George W. Bush). Tom turns out to be a delightful seat-mate for the dinner, which we are not eating.
7) At one point, after the droning of fully two dozen would-be Democratic candidates, none of whom any of us knows, Tom says he might have to go back to his hotel room and watch Al (Franken) on TV. (He doesn’t.) He is disappointed that Sharon Stone isn’t going to appear (aren’t we all?) I ask Tom whether he thinks Vanessa Kerry is wearing nylons. He is too much of a gentleman to comment. Oh, those European men. Especially those who had English teachers from Wisconsin.
8) After about 2 hours of the droning and bellowing (the sound system is REALLY bad), I say that it is going to be my goal to drink three glasses of white zinfandel before Franken takes the stage. I am actually doubting that Franken will EVER take the stage. This turns out to be a really bad plan. Why? I have taken my college roommate as photographer-in-residence, and, when I put my camera and the wine glasses (small plastic cups at $5 a pop) on the floor, she accidentally kicks a glass of white zinfandel over my camera and it completely soaks it. Thomas rescues the camera from the ever-widening pool of wine. The strap is soaked and the lens is “cloudy.” I do not get one single usable picture from my trusty Canon after the unfortunate wine incident, henceforth known as “Zinfandel-gate.” As I did manage to secure two glasses of zinfandel prior to Zinfandel-gate, I don’t care. Later, I will rue the day. Or night.
9) To my extreme left is “Jane,” correspondent for “People” magazine. She is covering the candidate’s children for a story. Jane is very nice. She is dressed in black. She would like some food. We do not get any food. We would not get anything to drink, either, if I hadn’t made the infamous “Zinfandel-gate” run. (*Kids: Take note! Do NOT try this at home!)
10) Other errors on the sub-title machine that amuse me: “Fill” for a candidate whose first name is “Phil.” “He is a man of grass.” (This may actually be accurate; we don’t know. Perhaps he meant that “W” is an *ss? Or a man of *ss? Very confusing. Don’t know; can’t tell you.)
11) When someone says, “The future of this country is at stake. The future of the world is at stake,” Thomas leans over and says, “The sky is falling.” I laugh. Perhaps I should write this down? Again, don’t know; can’t tell you.
12) More machine sub-title errors: for “pirate suit,” (which is connected to Al Franken’s remarks about George W. Bush wearing a ridiculous flight suit with a huge cod-piece on his now-infamous “Mission Accomplished” battleship appearance). The machine spells out: “pie rat.” Perhaps this machine is smarter than anyone realizes.
13) Other errors that I cannot explain, from the sub-titling machine: “sash and acute” (?) “A mush mute, a big hat and a plum.”
14) I enjoyed Al Franken’s remark that, after 9/11, the country was very united. “My college roommate even got out an old T-shirt to wear that touted America. Of course, it took him four hours to white-out ‘sucks.’”
15) What have I learned from this experience? Never trust sub-titling machines. Always trust the German correspondent for “Die Zeit.” He is very knowledgable, very handsome, and we chat at great length about the Diebolt voting machines and the potential for voter fraud in the upcoming election. Please give Thomas a raise; I think he likes Vanessa Kerry, and he will need it to win her heart.
16) Never try to drink three glasses of white zinfandel while simultaneously shooting film and taking notes. But it’s ok to laugh. A lot.