Saturday, September 27, 2008

So It Goes...

I am:
Kurt Vonnegut
For years, this unique creator of absurd and haunting tales denied that he had anything to do with science fiction.

Which science fiction writer are you?

It was a pleasant surprise to be Vonnegut, quite unexpected, actually. I guess my style is so much like his because my worldview is similar.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Buddy, Can You Spare $700 Billion?

You know the old phrase, “spending money like drunken sailors?”
That describes perfectly the borrow and spend culture of the past decade.
Well, now the drunken sailors are coming home to roost, or more appropriately, people borrowing money beyond their means and financial institutions lending money to drunken sailors to spend like drunken sailors and a housing market that’s about as stable as a straw hut in a Category 4 hurricane caused the current subprime mortgage crisis or as I fondly call it, the Economic Clusterfuck of 2008.
Greedy banks, now free to lend money to anyone thanks to a weakening of regulations in the late 1990s, did just that.
Low interest rates make it easier to get credit and flushed with cash, people bought bigger houses, cars and spent money on that cool plasma screen TV. You know. The one you had to have.
But the housing market that homeowners thought would increase in a boom eight years ago began taking a sharp downturn around 2005. Suddenly, homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages who wanted to refinance their homes, now couldn’t because the value of their homes decreased as rapidly as the Seattle Mariners’ chances of winning the World Series.
Compounding the problem was a housing market oversaturated with homes from a building boom that happened at the turn of the century. Housing prices plummeted, homeowners defaulted on their loans and properties were foreclosed.
Wait. It gets better.
Investors purchasing mortgage-based securities now found their investments drying up. The banks that bought and sold these securities couldn’t sell them.
As a result of this nut-filled shitlog of an economic crisis, prestigious financial firms collapsed.
The Federal Housing Finance Authority placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the largest lending institutions in the United States, under conservatorship, and the $12 trillion in mortgages they have.
The Federal Reserve Bank bailed out the American International Group, Inc. to the tune of $85 billion, in exchange for 79 percent of equity stake.
Refusing the government’s bailout, Lehman Brothers filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Washington Mutual declared bankruptcy, prompting the U.S. Office of Thrift Supervision to seize the bank and sell most of its assets to JP Morgan Chase.
President Bush’s bailout plan would have the federal government pony up $700 billion to purchase so-called “toxic assets” that are clogging the pipes of America’s economy, like a disgusting gunk-covered hairy thing. The president’s proposal would be like drain cleaner, purging the gross stuff and allowing the economy to flow unobstructed once again.
Yes, I used a plumbing metaphor to describe the bailout plan.
Fears that the government would control your credit card debt, your mortgage and your car payments is enough to scare anyone. Would it mean you’d be beholden to the government is a socialist fiefdom-serfdom situation?
White House spokesmodel Dana Perino said we’re facing a “once-in-a-century crisis.”
That’s a relief, because as far as crises go, I’d rather experience one every 100 years.
“Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession,” President Bush said this week.
A dire forecast, to be sure. Who could help us solve this problem? Is there at least one man who could turn this mess around and get the gears of Wall Street turning again?
Wait! What's that on the horizon? Limping towards Washington with determination and grit?
It's... Senator John McCain!
McCain suspended his campaign this week to use his superpowers to avert the impending economic crisis. Thank God for John McCain. Is there nothing a maverick POW with a war fixation can’t accomplish? When he gets done solving America’s financial morass, maybe he can work on that peace in the Middle East thing they’ve been tinkering with for the last 50 years.
Economically, this country is fucked. We’re so fucked. We’re as fucked as Jennifer Connelly was during the final scene of Requiem for a Dream; a dildo-grinding, sodomizing, degradation, except in the movie the drunk guys were throwing money at her instead of taking money from her.
Some think this bailout plan is a covert way of infusing socialism in our lives, with Big Brother controlling us, this time by the pocket book.
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s plan will give him control with little oversight, making him responsible, but not accountable:

Section 8. Review: Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Carte blanche to do anything he wants with no review. I think I chose the wrong career path as a journalist.
Some Republicans and Democrats aren’t tolerating the bailout plan and thus the wrangling begins. This crisis will be with us for some time, and I look forward to the day when it will be over. Of course by then, mankind will dwell in the undercity scavenging sewer rats for food and cobbling together old copies of Us Weekly to use as currency.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Propaganda As A Campaign Tool

Advertising and political campaigning are both about psychological manipulation. Persuading your target market - whether directly or indirectly - to purchase a product or support a candidate can be either a subliminal mindfuck or as blatant as hitting them over the head with a sledgehammer.
Political candidates pump millions into research firms and spinmasters to develop ads for their campaigns. Most of the techniques used are as sinister as Soviet-era brainwashing experiments.
Through the ads, the voters aren’t informed, nor do they view the issues or candidates with clear, na├»ve eyes. The voters are treated like Pavlovian dogs waiting to salivate at the next bell.
These ads don’t outline a candidate’s positions or qualifications: they’re a kick-you-in-the-balls grudgefest and a schoolyard fight complete with hair-pulling and Indian burns. Most brilliantly, the ads do it with an absolute certainty that the candidate speaking to the voters is an omnipotent Titan with total competence and infallibility.
It’s all bullshit, of course, meant to fluster or aggravate the viewers, who, reaching for their fourth can of Budwiser, yell at the screen and curse the goddamn liberals or goddamn Republicans.
Televised political ads are the ultimate manipulators: stealthily-crafted miniature dramas of good versus evil, right conquering wrong or dire portents of dread on the horizon. The ads use various techniques to communicate their messages, and these subtle techniques play on the viewer’s sense of outrage or uncomfortable cultural biases or primal fears.
Take the GOP ad criticizing attacks on Sarah Palin. The ad cites an article in the Sept. 9 issue of The Wall Street Journal that says Obama “…air-dropped an army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers” in Alaska to dig up dirt on Palin. The screen shows a pack of wolves, open-jawed and bearing sharp fangs.
While I’d be the first to lump lawyers with wolves, I think the sudden appearance of the wolves in the ad was purposefully jarring, especially coupled with the low, threatening music in the background.
The Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 used a similar ad, portraying a dark forest and stalking wolves. The ad plays on primal fears of the forest and the wolves, reducing everything to symbolism and archetypes, which for Bush and Cheney, worked. The ad was about the threat of terrorism and Bush would save America from the dangerous threats lurking in the darkness.
Fear is a big theme of political ads. Draw the curtains, turn out the lights and give them a good, old-fashioned scaring. Make the voters afraid of something, of someone, of some idea or concept. A black candidate with an Islamic name? A woman governor with a light resume on foreign issues? Gay marriage? Religious fundamentalists? The list goes on and on.
Another theme is absolute distortion; taking a partial truth or omitting certain details or facts.
A McCain ad chastises Joe Biden’s remark that it would be a patriotic act for richer Americans to pay more taxes. Except in the ad, it didn’t mention “richer Americans” like Biden said, but all Americans: “Joe Biden calls paying higher taxes a patriotic act,” the announcer says. “Obama and Biden voted to raise taxes on working Americans making just $42,000 a year.”
So the ad went from Biden calling on wealthier Americans to pay more taxes to him wanting everyone to cough up more dough for Uncle Sam. The GOP is telling us through the ad, subtly, that if Obama and Biden get elected, we’ll all be living in cardboard Hoovervilles by 2010. In reality, Obama is saying he’ll cut taxes for middle class Americans, not making them pay more.
An Obama ad goes after McCain for not knowing how many houses he owns: “When asked how many houses he owns, McCain lost track. He couldn’t remember.” The ad shows slow-motion video of McCain talking, making it look like he has peanut butter stuck to the roof of his mouth. A doleful piano sounds in the background. While meant to provoke outrage and disbelief that the old fogy doesn’t know how much real estate he has, you can’t end up but feeling sad. If you reach 72, could you even find your way home?
There are ads I call “cinematic,” with high production values including sweeping musical scores and dramatic elements. Take the Obama ad that came out before the Iowa Caucus where he’s speaking to a crowd, telling them it is a defining moment in America’s history. “Our nation is at war. The planet is in peril. The dream that so many generations fought for feels that it is slowly slipping away.” The Aaron Sorkin-like ad shows Obama on stage looking presidential, then cuts to concerned middle aged white people in the audience. The ad ends with uplifting quotes about Obama from the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Time Magazine, the Concord Monitor and Newsweek.
Cedar Rapids Gazette? Wouldn’t you lead with the quotes from Time magazine or Newsweek?
Another cinematic, emotional tug-at-your-heartstrings ad for McCain describes his time as a POW in Vietnam, showing footage of him lying in a Hanoi hospital. Cut to McCain and Ronald Reagan together while swelling orchestra music plays and an announcer says “As a prisoner of war, John McCain was inspired by Ronald Reagan.” McCain’s voice over: “I enlisted as a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution.”
The ad later shows a split-screen, with McCain talking at a podium on one side and a montage of still images of American troops in Iraq. The announcer continues: “The leadership and experience to call for the surge strategy in Iraq that is working.”
Linking images of McCain with the current troops is like saying McCain is supporting the troops. Saying the surge is working is detracting from critics of the surge. We proclaim it, so it must be so. The ad combines a lot of strong, positive elements of warriors and Reagan, which appeals to the Republican base.
Repetition is another form of conditioning. An Obama ad blasts McCain on the economy. McCain made a statement on Sept. 15, “Our economy, I think, still, the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” The ad plays the McCain clip, then flashes the question: “The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong?” as a jab, before playing the McCain clip again. And again, just in case you didn’t get it the first time.
One of the most notorious ads thus far was McCain’s “Celebrity” ad, attacking Obama for his so-called celebrity status and popularity with the media.
The ad begins with a long-shot of a crowd in Berlin. Obama makes his way to a stage accompanied by the sound of a clicking camera shutter. Still images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton flash on the screen. The female announcer says: “He’s the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?”
The ad subliminally or unintentionally shows the Berlin Victory Column and the Washington Monument, two phallic symbols. Now I’m not into Freudian theories, but who show these two cock symbols coupled with images of Britney and Paris? Read into that what you will, but an ad showing a crowd of supporters cheering “Obama”, depicting two powerful phallic symbols and pretty girls isn’t that bad. In fact, it could work for Obama. The Republicans want to make it look like Obama is a hotdog, a flash-in-the-pan bubbleheaded celebrity. Yet the ad shows he’s charismatic, attracting an audience, and pretty girls ad sex appeal and the phallic symbols as virility and strength. Taken on a subliminal level, if you turned the sound off and saw just the beginning of the ad, it would be like something Obama’s camp approved.
Comparing the candidate with something unpopular is another tack: the old guilt by association trick. Consider this McCain ad that links Obama to high gas prices. A woman’s voice, like someone’s disappointed mother, says: “Gas prices, $4, $5, no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America. No to independence for foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?” Then an image of Obama floats next to an image of a gas pump. Is Obama to blame for high gas prices? No, but according to the ad he is.
On the opposite end, Obama’s camp is running an ad featuring images of McCain and President Bush, linking the unpopular president with the Republican candidate. A jaunty, Danny Elfman-esque score is playing while the announcer says: “They share the same out of touch attitude, the same failure to understand the economy, the same tax cuts for huge corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent, the same plan to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq when we should be rebuilding America.” Then the zinger: a clip of McCain stating he voted with Bush over 90 percent of the time.
Whether these ads actually work is another matter. For now, millions are poured into both campaigns to streamline and define the brand and to develop marketing strategies for the Republicans and Democrats. Who ultimately prevails in the presidential ad war of 2008 will be decided November 4.
Or, if it’s like 2000, sometime in December.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blame the Media...Please!

I've been a journalist for 14 years and never before have I noticed the utter stupidity filtering through certain national media outlets as I've witnessed in the last few months. Lipstick on a pig, anyone? I remember when election coverage focused on the issues, with a few spasms of bullshit that were usually purged naturally thanks to the 24 hour news cycle.
When I write a political story, I focus on substance and not on gimmicks. I'm not a magician using slight of hand to fool the crowd. Yet political reporting has melded with entertainment. I don't know if I'm reading The Onion or a serious newspaper, and that's fucked up.
Here are some real stories that are just too dumb to be believed:

* Kawasaki is having trouble keeping up orders from people who want the same style glasses as Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Really? Are you shitting me? Talk about a nation of sheep.

* Caroline Baum of Bloomberg News uses the phrase "she has tits" live on the air at 'Fox & Friends.'

Jesse Jackson muttered that he wanted to cut Barrack Obama's "nuts out" into a live microphone. Peggy Noonan, referring to the GOP's choice of Palin, said "I think they went for this political bullshit about narratives" into a live microphone. Does anybody really care who says what into a live mic?

* Michelle Obama tells voters not to vote for a candidate because "I like that guy" or that "she's cute." Asked if she was talking about Palin, Michelle Obama replied "I was talking about me."

I actually got stupider reading this drek.

* A Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention said he took a woman back to his hotel room in Minneapolis and she drugged and robbed him of $50,000.

What? A Republican hooked up with a woman? Actually, this story made me chuckle. Not because of the whole scheudenfraude thing, but because it happened to a Republican lawyer. Karma is a bitch.

* A Denver college professor assigns his students to write an essay critical of Sarah Palin.

Stories like this provoke outrage at the "liberal educators". Who says our colleges foster healthy debate and disagreement? Colleges are depressing robot factories where the robots get drunk to dull the pain of being taught by snotty assholes.

* Hackers break into Palin's e-mail account and the e-mails are leaked to the Associated Press. The Secret Service asks the AP to turn over the e-mails, but the news agency doesn't comply.

Another story meant to frustrate those who perceive the media as being obstructionists in a federal investigation. If I called the shots at the AP, I'd ask the Secret Service for something in return, like dinner at Delmonico's or a blowjob or possibly both.

* Obama mocks McCain while campaigning in Nevada.

Really? You mean candidates aren't civil towards each other? This is kind of like reporting the very obvious.

* Donald Trump endorses McCain on Larry King.

Do readers really care who The Donald supports? He goes on a talk show only octogenarians watch and espouses his political leanings. Thank God they ran this story. I'd hate to go into the voting booth Nov. 4 and scratch my chin, wondering "Now who does Donald Trump support again?"

* The canine star of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" was discovered in a shelter.

The fact that there's even a movie called "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and the dog is voiced by George Lopez proves without a shadow of a doubt that there is no God and we are alone in a dark and uncaring universe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


According to, Republican political candidates are avoiding President George Bush.
At the GOP convention, Bush's speech was orchestrated so it wouldn't be broadcast during the convention coverage at 10 p.m. John McCain even went so far as to not mention the name of Bush's father, referring to his as "the 41st President".
What happened to Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican"? Uncle Ronnie's gone, and so is the commandment. Oh, the GOP isn't speaking ill of Bush. They're just avoiding him like the plague.
Bush's approval rating is in the low 30s, and his unpopularity high.
Eight years of the most secretive, heavy-handed, arrogant administration of neocons shouldn't be given the opportunity to influence policy again. They should be in the penalty box for the next four years.
It's both funny and sad.
Funny because the party that backed Bush's war years ago are disowning him and treating him like a pariah. Sad because the GOP will probably win in November even though they don't deserve it.
How do you win an election when the incumbent President of your party is about as popular as the Ebola virus? Run as an outsider and a reformer!
Does anyone really think that John McCain will reform anything? That he'll go against the grain of his party and his benefactors and undo what Bush has done?
I guess partisans love their president only when the president is popular.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Let the Satire Begin...

With the return of Saturday Night Live comes Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, thus inaugurating political satire to this election. Fey is Palin. She looks and sounds the part and the sketch was truly funny. Amy Poehler played an agitated Hillary Clinton and exhibited a frustration that's both hilarious and biting. Good job, ladies!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Gettin' Medieval

Your result for The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test...

The Harlequin

You scored 50% Cardinal, 41% Monk, 32% Lady, and 43% Knight!

You are a mystery, a jack-of-all-trades. You have the king's ear, but also listen to murmurings of the common folk. You believe in the value of force and also literature. Truly you are the puzzlement of the age.

Take The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test at HelloQuizzy

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How Dare We

I'm amazed at how politicians target the mainstream media outlets as being the root of everything evil. A reporter's role is to ask questions, get the facts and present accurate stories that inform and educate the public.
Politicians portray the media as "elite", "liberal" or "mainstream" or a combination thereof, like "mainstream liberal elite" media.
When John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his veep choice about one week ago, naturally people were curious. See, that's what happens when presidential candidates introduce their running mates - the people want to know about them.
So when journalists began poking around Alaska for information on Palin, they were bound to uncover a few skeletons in the governor's closet.
Some commentators asked about McCain's vetting process and how long it took for him to choose her. Others discovered that Palin's 17-year old daughter was pregnant. Others found out that as mayor, Palin talked about banning library books because some voters found the language offensive. Still others uncovered federal money earmarked to build the so-called "bridge to nowhere" was spent on infrastructure projects in Alaska instead.
I don't put any stock in television commentators. Most are shallow talking heads who come from broken homes and are still bedwetters. Yet the journalists who ask questions and want to know about Palin's record and her life should not apologize because they're doing their jobs. They're gathering information - unfiltered information - and presenting it to the public.
Yet the McCain camp is playing the old game of shoot the messenger and blaming the media for asking these questions. They call it unfair to Palin, that the liberal media is persecuting her for being a woman and asking such personal questions. They're saying that Joe Biden or Barrack Obama weren't held up to such scrutiny.
I'm tired of the "blame the media" tactics. It's really misdirection, telling people to target the media. After all, our job is to dig into a public official's record and report it to the public. See, unlike despotic regimes with state-run media and propaganda, our free press performs a public service and should treat all candidates equally.
But talk to the Republicans at their convention and they see it differently. To them, the hook-nosed Christ killers that run the liberal media covens are persecuting the darling of the conservative right.
Okay, I'm being sarcastic. Not all Jews control the media. Some are lawyers representing the media.
Still, I couldn't help but think Palin's speech, although not so eloquent as much as it was sniping, actually worked to revitalize her base. Like the Democrats, the Republicans used fear - fear that the voter will make the wrong choice on election day. The Democrats claim that by voting for McCain, America will spend the next thousand years in Iraq and an army of zombies will overrun our cities in the apocalypse. The Republicans claim that if the Democrats get elected, we'll still be in Iraq for a thousand years but the zombies overrunning our cities will be gay.
McCain had a cushy relationship with the media, but now the honeymoon is over. Once known for holding press conferences and having chummy conversations with reporters, McCain hasn't held a press conference in several weeks. The strategy in the McCain camp regarding the media is simple: a complete blackout of information and portraying reporters as the enemy.
They're claiming the media is biased because of the positive stories running about Obama. Commentators fawn over Obama and somewhere in the MSNBC newsroom they've built a statue of him and venerate it with offerings.
Real journalists take no sides. They also shouldn't be shills for any political party, left or right.
And real journalism, at its core, is the reproducing of objective information and facts. The media should not judge Palin over her record or her family. They shouldn't judge that she once said the war was a mission from God. They shouldn't tell the voters she hired a lawyer to fight the Troopergate incident. According to the McCain camp, the media should report the positive fluffy-wuffy happy news: that she likes mooseburgers and hunts and that her husband races snowmobiles and her son will serve in Iraq.
They think reporters should serve the politicians by supporting their views.
Unfortunately for them, I don't subscribe to this. I think the first defense against tyranny or corruption is a vigilant, free press.
Sorry for the intrusion, ma'am, but it's my job.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The next time I hear any television commentator, pundit or partisan hack refer to John McCain or any politician as a “maverick,” I’ll start taking hostages.
Why do the talking heads get sucked into this vortex of mediocrity and laziness and mimic each other?
A politician who bucks the establishment, makes deals with the opposing party and has an independent voice for the good of the people is not a maverick. It’s what a politician should be.
How did showing independence and not towing the party line earn McCain the maverick label? It’s like McCain is some kind of dangerous rebel, like he’s Marlon Brando in a leather jacket on a motorcycle giving the establishment the finger while riding through the desert on his way to the Burning Man Festival.
The GOP likes tough, macho language. Maverick sounds like McCain is a gunslinger coming into town to avenge the death of the sheriff. Or maybe he's a riverboat gambler in the poker game of his life, betting the old widow's ranch and staking his reputation on one hand of cards.
Not content to just have McCain bear the maverick brand, the GOP vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin is also cast as a lone maverick. Palin is a maverick because she took on members of her own party and bucked the status quo. This is a Republican going against Republicans. The GOP calls that a maverick. If a Democrat went against a Democrat, the GOP would call that a traitor.
Speaking of which, Joe Lieberman, a former Democrat-turned-Independent-turned Republican Lite gave a speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday where he touted McCain’s maverick image.
By labeling McCain and Palin as mavericks, the GOP hopes to diffuse criticism that McCain-Palin will bring more of the same. This leaves the pundits of the right to advocate, “It won’t be more of the same! They’re mavericks!”
It used to be the term “Washington insider” was a filthy description. Saying someone is well-connected in the Beltway was the kiss of death and raises suspicion with a cynical electorate. Now it’s okay to be a Washington insider as long as you’re a maverick.
I can just imagine a scene at the convention, where a Republican operative corners a clueless TV commentator about the maverick mystique the GOP is now embracing.
“Well, McCain’s been in office for 25 years, but he’s a real maverick!” the operative intones, usually over a domestic beer.
“Yes…a maverick,” the TV commentator in the Armani suit says, holding his vodka and cranberry juice. “What a fascinating word…maverick.”
“Barrack Obama is not a maverick. Joe Biden is not a maverick,” the GOP operative says. “In fact, Biden is a Washington insider.”
“How long has Biden been in office?” the commentator asks.
“Since 1973,” the GOP operative says.
“Yikes! That is a long time. No maverick would stick around that long,” the commentator replies.
“And as for Obama…well, he’s a Muslim. You know what they’re like. They’re not like us,” the GOP operative whispers. “They travel to foreign countries and bomb thousands of people they don’t know. You’d never catch an American doing that.”
“Say! That’s right! McCain is a maverick, isn’t he?”
“So is Palin. She’s a maverick,” the GOP operative says, guzzling another beer.
“Palin? Is that the woman nobody in America heard of until last week but the Republicans are supporting her fiercely?” the cynical commentator asks while stuffing a canape into his over-educated maw.
“Sarah Palin would be a great vice president. She has more executive experience than Obama. She’s held elected office longer than Obama,” the GOP operative says. “Plus, she looks great in go-go boots. Can the freshman senator from Illinois claim that?”
“I sure hope not. That would be transvestism.”
“Palin is a maverick. The media is focusing on her 17-year old daughter having a baby. That only reinvigorates the abortion debate, the ultimate wedge issue we’ll use to crush that baby-killing Kenyan,” the GOP operative laughs, his breath reeking of brimstone.
“Wasn't Sarah Palin an advocate for abstinence education? Kinda funny since she has five kids,” the reporter guffaws.
“Well,” the GOP operative replies flatly, “maybe those cold Alaskan nights bring couples together. Maybe her story of family and motherhood will resonate with traditional, conservative voters in the Midwest. Not everyone can be like you hedonistic Manhattan liberals.”
“Golly! I never thought of that! Having babies is a very maverick thing!” the reporter says, before cavorting on the lawn with members of the American Civil Liberties Union in the gayest garden party in Minnesota’s history.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Ravaged Birthday

My co-worker and assistant editor Kristen asked me what kind of birthday cake I want this year. I gave her the design of the Ravaged Earth logo and she created a dazzling cake.
Thanks, Kristen. My birthday just got a lot happier.