Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Moonlight Must Appear

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Robert Goulet, the handsome, big-voiced baritone whose Broadway debut in "Camelot" launched an award-winning stage and recording career, has died. He was 73. Robert Goulet had a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis.

The singer died Tuesday morning in a Los Angeles hospital while awaiting a lung transplant, said Goulet spokesman Norm Johnson. He had been awaiting a lung transplant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after being found last month to have a rare form of pulmonary fibrosis. Goulet had remained in good spirits even as he waited for the transplant, said Vera Goulet, his wife of 25 years.

"Just watch my vocal cords," she said he told doctors before they inserted a breathing tube.

The Massachusetts-born Goulet, who spent much of his youth in Canada, gained stardom in 1960 with "Camelot," the Lerner and Loewe musical that starred Richard Burton as King Arthur and Julie Andrews as his Queen Guenevere. Goulet played Sir Lancelot, the arrogant French knight who falls in love with Guenevere.

He became a hit with American TV viewers with appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and other programs. Sullivan labeled him the "American baritone from Canada," where he had already been a popular star in the 1950s, hosting his own show called "General Electric's Showtime."

He made an excellent comic villain, and seemed to have a wicked sense of humor about himself.

Emerald Nuts: Robert Goulet

Beware of Robert Goulet, for he will mess with your stuff once you fall asleep.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's Up To You, Yeah, You

Last week, we talked about the care package project. Let's review:
The following items are of great use to the deployers:

Black/brown t-shirts and black socks
crystal light packets
individual size beef jerky
energy bars
lip balm
sun screen
foot powder
baby wipes
hand/antibacterial soap
individually wrapped hard candy
phone cards
blank greeting cards/letter writing materials
sunflower seeds
assorted snack items

You can send some items, all these items, a case of any one kind of item. They will be grateful for what you send, regardless. Also: they especially want hand sanitizer and baby wipes.

Not on the list: I have heard that eye drops are also prized. Books are also great.

My contact with the program, who shall remain charmingly anonymous and not a person I made myself, says also:

We also have a program for our families called Operation Sweet Dreams. In this program the family member sends us a digital photo, we transfer to a pillowcase and the family gives to the deployed member to take with them or is sent to the deployed location. With that we would need plain white pillow cases.

Donations can be dropped off or mailed to:
Airman & Family Readiness Center
706 Washington Ave
Bldg 10122
Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437

Ah, memories! Remember the next thing that happened was California caught on fire? Did you feel torn? With my teeny budget, I did, because I wanted to help. While there's still a whole lot to talk about with regard to what happened in the wake of the wildfires, let's focus a minute on the care package project. A year ago, I assembled care packages for two Marines as part of Coalition of the Swilling's project. The thinking, shopping and packaging for the mail was a huge challenge for me and I enjoyed thinking about the needs of someone I could only imagine.
Were it truly up to me, I'd mail them tickets home on Air Jamaica, but one doesn't always get to choose the best gift options, and nowhere in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog does one find a six-pack of Skillful MidEast Diplomats, which is what these kids truly need. Yesterday, I sent out an email to a handful of my favorite people, asking the musical question, "What should I send them? How shall I send them?" I got a few responses but for the most part, even my very favorite people do not at all want to talk about this, which is interesting but not surprising. Here's what I've got so far.

beef jerky
eye drops
nail clippers
lip balm
writing paper/envelopes
instant coffee
instant foods
bungee cords/giant twist ties
magnets/wall hooks
foot care stuff
herbed salt
scotch/duct tape
unscented moisturizer
puzzle magazine
Rolling Stone/People/Ya got me, what?
deck of cards

The contents of that list have settled with time. Last year's project was a box sent to a specific person with one name and one probable set of needs. This year, this box goes to a place where people will sort what they receive and re-package. It's a different animal. Last year, I was inclined to include crayons and a coloring book. This year, I wrote a note to Martha Stewart's foundation, asking if they'd like to donate - say - thousands of white pillowcases to the Sweet Dreams project.

Then, of course, there's only so much a person can do. Let's not allow ourselves to get overwhelmed. I'm interested in you, now. I'm sending out a box this morning, and I'll send another in a couple of weeks. Will you join me?


Monday, October 29, 2007

Those Hidden Signs

Here we are, for the - very temporary - moment in October, 2007. I have been following with a sinking heart the fight to restore habeas corpus and declare that my country will obey the Geneva Conventions again. Something bubbled up out of my memory from a time when I used to dress up and be Joan of Arc on stage. Leading to that, I read everything about her I could find, including transcripts of her trial. Now it's your turn, and the date is 9 May 1431, and every comma and misprint comes straight from the source.
Wednesday, May 9th. She is threatened with torture

On Wednesday, May 9th of the same year, Jeanne was brought into the great tower of the castle of Rouen before us the said judges and in the presence of the reverend father,, lord abbot of St. Carmel de Compiègne, of masters Jean de Châtillon and Guillaume Erart, doctors of sacred theology, of André Marguerie and Nicolas de Venderès, archdeacons of the church of Rouen, of William Haiton, bachelor of theology, Aubert Morel, licentiate in canon law; Nicolas Loiseleur, canon of the cathedral of Rouen, and master Jean Massieu.

And Jeanne was required and admonished to speak the truth on many different points contained in her trial which she had denied or to which she had given false replies, whereas we possessed certain information, proofs, and vehement presumptions upon them. Many of the points were read and explained to her, and she was told that if she did not confess them truthfully she would be put to the torture, the instruments of which were shown to her all ready in the tower. There were also present by our instruction men ready to put her to the torture in order to restore her to the way and knowledge of truth, and by this means to procure the salvation of her body and soul which by her lying inventions she exposed to such grave perils.

To which the said Jeanne answered in this manner: "Truly if you were to tear me limb from limb and separate my soul from my body, I would not tell you anything more: and if I did say anything, I should afterwards declare that you had compelled me to say it by force."
Then she said that on Holy Cross Day last she received comfort from St. Gabriel: she firmly believes it was St. Gabriel, she knew by her voices it was he. She said she asked counsel of her voices whether she should submit to the Church since the clergy were pressing her hard to submit: her voices told her that if she desired Our Lord to aid her she must wait upon Him in all her doings. She said that Our Lord has always been the master of her doings, and the Enemy never had power over them. She asked her voices if she would be burned and they answered that she must wait upon God, and He would aid her.

When asked about the crown she said she had given to the archbishop of Reims, and whether she would refer herself to him, she answered: "Send him here [and let me hear him speak]: and then I will answer you. He dare not deny what I have told you."

But seeing the hardness of her heart and her manner of answering, we the said judges, fearing that the torments of torture would be of little profit to her, decided to postpone their application until we had received more complete advice on the question.

Emphasis mine. There's more, where the emphasis is still mine.
Saturday, May 12th. Jeanne is not to be tortured

On Saturday following, May 12th, in our episcopal dwelling at Rouen, before us the said judges and in the presence of the venerable masters Raoul Roussel, treasurer, Nicolas de Venderès and André Marguerie, archdeacons and canons of Rouen; Guillaume Erart, master of theology; Robert Le Barbier, Denis Gastinel, Jean Le Doulx, and Aubert Morel, licentiates in canon law; Thomas de Courcelles, Nicolas Couppequesne. bachelors of sacred theology; Nicolas Loiseleur and brother Ysambard de La Pierre.

We the said bishop recalled what had taken place on the previous Wednesday, and we asked the counsel of the assessors on what remained to be done, in particular if it was expedient to put Jeanne to the torture.

[And first the said Raoul Roussel stated that he thought it was not expedient, lest a trial so well conducted should be exposed to calumny.

Master Nicolas de Venderès said he thought it was not yet expedient to put her to the torture.

Master André Marguerie said it was not yet expedient.

Master Guillaume Erart said it was needless to put her to the torture, sufficient matter was possessed without it.

Master Robert Le Barbier gave a similar opinion; but thought she should again be charitably admonished, once and for all, to submit to the Church. If she would not, then in God's name the proceedings should continue.

Master Denis Gastinel said it was not expedient.

Master Aubert Morel said he thought it expedient to put her to the torture in order to discover the truth of her lies.

Master Thomas de Courcelles said he thought it wise to torture her. She ought also to be examined whether she would submit to the judgment of the Church.

Master Nicolas Couppequesne said it is not expedient to put her to the torture, but she should, once more, be charitably admonished of the necessity of submitting to the decision of the Church.

Master Jean Le Doulx, similarly.

Brother Ysambard de La Pierre, similarly; but for the last time she should be admonished to submit to the Church Militant.

Master Nicolas Loiseleur said he thought it good for the health of her soul to put her to the torture: nevertheless he deferred to the earlier opinions.

Master William Haiton, who came later, was of the opinion that there was no need for torture.

Master Jean Le Maistre, Vice-Inquisitor, said she should once more be examined on whether she believed she should submit to the Church Militant.]

When these opinions had been heard and the answers which Jeanne had made on the previous Wednesday considered, in view of her disposition and will and of the circumstances, we concluded that it was neither necessary nor expedient to submit her to the torture, and that we should proceed further in the matter.

It comes as no surprise in 2007 that some sadistic fucks have always couched torture in terms of benefit to the tortured. Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani went so far last week as to say what mattered about waterboarding was who did it and why.

No. No, it doesn't. Five hundred seventy-six years ago, a teenager blurted out the truth about torture and avoided being tortured. Before and since, people being tortured have blurted out anything to make the suffering stop. Joan was led to the stake and recanted, for fear of the fire, if you need an example. It's true that later, her courage returned to her but not before she'd denied everything she believed about herself, the voices of her angels and God.

That we ever burned our outcasts at the stake is almost unbelievable now; in that context, that we entertain discussion of waterboarding now is mind-boggling in its throwback sadism. No. There is no scenario where torture is our best option for justice.

There never was.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Then My Hair's Too Short

I took this picture weeks ago in the family store. People who'd drop dead driven five miles from the Menlo Park Mall go bananas for dust-magnet statues of woodland and farm animals they hope to never see in person. It's exciting to watch customers stare in wonder at the glazed ceramic cows, knowing the farthest thing from their minds is burgers and brisket. I'm no vegetarian; the last thing I want is porcine paperweights reminding me of guilt-laden bacon I'm not eating.

Please. Don't get me started on the absurdity of selling porcelain chickens to city dwellers who'd call the cops if they heard a rooster crow. At least the bunnies don't look to me like waylaid entrees.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: One Little White Lie Edition

Courtesy of Altrok Radio, Candie Payne's All I Need To Hear has been playing in my head:

Last night.
Tata: Okay okay okay, just about the time I would usually close the family store I'm helping a lady at the half-price jewelry section, which is at the very back of the store. We're looking at half-price necklaces without price tags when over her shoulder by the back door I see something move. Then I see it again. It's a field mouse! I thought the top of my head would blow off.
Pete: Did you step on it?
Tata: Are you kidding? I had a customer! And the new goal of my entire being was to focus her attention away from the indoor wildlife. She made me a wacky offer for the jewelry and I plastered a springy smile on my face. I said something like, "Gwabbflep blibbity jooop," which she understood to mean, "I'll wrap that up for you." In any case, she didn't look for the exits, which could have been reasonably disastrous.
Pete: So what did you do?
Tata: She asked if we had Halloweeny stuff and I almost burst a blood vessel with happiness. "That's up in the front of the store. I'll show you everything." I dragged her to the front, where she found more things for sale. She liked bags of wire spiders and found a crappy fairy doll thing I wouldn't mop cobwebs with but it didn't have a price tag either. I saw my chance, picked up her merch and ran for the back door. The mouse, however, took umbrage at the open door and ran the other way, eventually deciding the completely visible corner by the bathroom was where he'd sit and hyperventilate.
Pete: did you step on him?
Tata: No way, Jose. I called the toy store, where my sister Corinne answered. I purred into the phone, "I need your help desperately." A moment later, Corinne appeared at my side. We talked about the mop-like remaindered doll as the customer wandered over to another jewelry counter. I leaned in very close and whispered in Corinne's ear, "There's a mouse by the bathroom door." Corinne didn't move a muscle but whispered back, "Where?" I tossed my head as only a distressed Jersey chick with high hair history can in the direction of the pitiful thing. Corinne and I both smiled like we were radioactive as the customer came back to settle up. Then, Corinne was over by the bathroom door, doing something. Then she wasn't there anymore. I don't know what happened, because at this moment, the customer decided she wanted to chat.
Pete:Omigod, it's Fawlty Towers over there! What'd Corinne do with Basil the Rat?
Tata: I don't know! Corinne's an animal lover. Anyway, she was gone and less than two chatty minutes later, my brother-in-law Dan popped in the back door and said, "Hey, did someone have a question?" I said, still smiling like my face was on springs, "Ask Corinne."
Pete: Then what?
Tata: I closed the store and bought a bottle of wine I could drink through a straw.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Monopoly, Twenty-One, Checkers and Chess

Here in New Jersey, it's pouring and weather services promise pouring rain for another two days. Sunday night, Pete and I were watching Family Guy on Adult Swim, where a bumper series made us sit up straight. I'm paraphrasing.
Things that make us nervous.

1. Atlanta's water supply has 80 days left.

One? That's bullet point one? Pete and I said, "What? What What?" because what intelligent response can there be to the bland statement that another huge population center in the US was neck deep in the shit. It's been almost four days since then. Were I a civil engineer looking at the current weather map, I might be having the teensiest of nervous breakdowns. I'm sorry I'm soggy. Obviously, I can't complain about sopping up the river with my sneakers and the ends of my cargo pants because, um, I'd love to wring them out and help. This would be a lot funnier if, when situations beyond our control arise, we weren't each of us small, and covered with fur.

Speaking of fur, Johnny reviews a ghastly werewolf film and I can't contain my glee.
You don’t watch a movie like Dog Soldiers looking for common sense. And you won't find it.

A Scottish Army unit is dropped up in the highlands on a routine training exercise. They soon find themselves being stalked by werewolves. So far, so good. But ninety minutes into this piece of shite, the characters are still arguing about whether werewolves exist. The animals attacking them are nine feet tall and walk on their hind fucking legs. But there are holdouts who insist these are just exceptionally robust and limber wolves. What little credibility a werewolf movie has goes right out the window. Also, two of the lads get savaged by the werewolves but are rescued by their comrades. Their wounds heal overnight and their eyes start to get all gleamy and green. No one seems to see what’s coming or think to put a slug behind their increasingly pointy ears before it’s too late. Also, no one suspects that the pretty girl who appears out of nowhere and rescues them, who lives in the midst of these rapacious killers armed with nothing but a tight t-shirt, might be more trouble than she looks like. I expected so little of this movie that I wasn’t disappointed when she said, as her eyes bugged and her teeth stuck out "You thought all women were bitches. Now you’re met the real thing," although, with those teeth, it sounded more "the weew fing." Out of pure mulish determination, I got through to the end. Just so you don’t ever have to see it, the hero and the cute dog survive. You’re welcome.

I'm impressed by the fact that a Scottish Army group had an argument Johnny understood. As your world-traveling pals will tell you: to the newcomer, listening to Scots speak English can be an awful lot like having the booze go straight to your ears, and I say this as a person living in a place where consonants disappear from ordinary words at approximately the same rate as trees fall and condos dot the landscape. I'm ready at the drop of a hat to suspend my disbelief!

I'd dance around in circles at the notion of fighting werewolves with a tight t-shirt but everyone knows a gal's not fully loaded for bear without booty-choking disco shorts, preferably in baby pink for heroines and dried-blood burgundy for femmes most fatale. I mean, you're a high school graduate. You know there's no such thing as a car wash without aspiring Hooters girls, and that a glamorous hot mama like myself would never withhold the truth, my yummy gumdrops: ThermaCare Heat Wraps are made of awesomeness.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's All Right If You Don't

According to the New York City rock and rock and roll radio let's go, today is National Bologna Day, while tomorrow is the immensely popular Punk For a Day Day, which fortunately comes with a side of eyestrain, so you know what all the shouting's about. Yes, it may turn out we were all just in a bad mood for a few years, with safety pins. So old age won't bring many surprises. Thus, it is fitting that I have an appointment with my gynecologist.

"Ta darling," you're saying, "That was an odd segue. I feel vaguely uncomfortable, like a million voices cried out and were silent - nearly enough to make me reconsider my breakfast combo."

You'll live to dine again. Among the things bugging me today are that I need to get a mammogram, and that my insurance company requires women to get prescriptions for mammograms. My insurance company assures women that preventive care is good care. Get a mammogram! Everyone should have one! Take two, they're small! So...why the prescription? Send me a pushy postcard once a year from one of those resorts only insurance company CEOs can afford.

Having a lovely time. Wish you were here! - I kid, because I love! Princess, make an appointment for the old smashy filmy. It's cost effective for me!

So why the permission slip from the gynecologist? Are breasts a controlled substance? Have I been wielding them without a license all this time? Scheduling unpleasant tests willynilly? The doctor assured me years ago that one day, mammograms will go the way of the dodo, replaced in the balance sheet ecosystem by MRIs when their costs come down. The MRI makes sense to me because you hold still and a technician takes very detailed pictures of your innards. I have had my extremely photogenic innards photographed, if you will, in this way and it was completely painless. I enjoyed the complete painlessness of the test, and would like to enjoy it annually, but if I have to have a half-assed and unpleasant test every year, can I just get it and get it over with without the insurance company both pushing and pulling? That's too much to ask? Baloney!


Monday, October 22, 2007

Faces At the Edge of the Banquet

Mr. Sasha, my son-in-law, is stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Miss Sasha points out Vandenberg's got a care package project going.* I hope you'll be inspired to either help out or call up a base near you and find a project you can get involved in.

The following items are of great use to the deployers:

Black/brown t-shirts and black socks
crystal light packets
individual size beef jerky
energy bars
lip balm
sun screen
foot powder
baby wipes
hand/antibacterial soap
individually wrapped hard candy
phone cards
blank greeting cards/letter writing materials
sunflower seeds
assorted snack items

You can send some items, all these items, a case of any one kind of item. They will be grateful for what you send, regardless. Also: they especially want hand sanitizer and baby wipes.

Not on the list: I have heard that eye drops are also prized. Books are also great.

My contact with the program, who shall remain charmingly anonymous and not a person I made myself, says also:
We also have a program for our families called Operation Sweet Dreams. In this program the family member sends us a digital photo, we transfer to a pillowcase and the family gives to the deployed member to take with them or is sent to the deployed location. With that we would need plain white pillow cases.

Donations can be dropped off or mailed to:
Airman & Family Readiness Center
706 Washington Ave
Bldg 10122
Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437

*The short version: I'm 100% opposed to the war and have been since 9/12; even so, our military comes down to individual persons who in my opinion should never get the idea that individual civilians don't give a shit what happens. This is not a contradiction. It is the simple notion that every person - every single person - matters just as much as I do in the world. And they might need socks.


Get It, Put It In You

Hush, you. It's Monday, and you'd rather be anywhere than where you are and you're stressed out. You've had some news or your lost love loves someone else, and your heart aches. But listen to me, just listen to the sound of my voice. You are always stronger than you know - always. For this moment, rest. Watch this little thing, a sweet and silly present from another place, where we are curious and see with new eyes.

Don't give up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

If There Was A Me For You

When I'm quiet, it's because something tedious is happening. I'd hate to test your patience with whining, so consulting the Cliff Notes -

Before dawn Friday morning, I awoke, gasping for breath. The pain in my right leg was like a floodlight on my face. After a few years, I found a way to lie still such that the pain only felt like an annoying 100 watt bulb in the next room and I fell asleep. Friday morning, I could barely put weight on my right leg, so I hobbled to the living room and called out crooked, because sick wasn't quite accurate. Later, I crawled to the chiropractor's office, where a doctor I'd never met had just had a car wreck on her way to my appointment. I threw my hands up and shouted, "YAHTZEE!" because what else could I do?

Pete took these pictures sometime last weekend. Above, Drusy puts forth a paw and an opinion. We surmise the kittens are now 11 months old, which means they have probably grown to full size. Drusy is tall, lean and weighs nothing. At least twice a day, Drusy walks across my lap and flops on her left side, knowing I will catch and hold her like a baby as she falls asleep. At left, Topaz, who cannot bear to see things atop other things, regards Pete's sunglasses and glasses case. Unless a human intervenes, Topaz will give the things atop other things three or four little shoves. Then the things will rest on the floor. Most of the time, the things do not break on impact.

On occasion, it is exhilarating to set up the pussycat obstacle course and let hilarity ensue. This is not one of those occasions.

Larry, the little black cat once bent on stealing your soul, made a kitty bugling noise that I came to recognize as his name for me. Perhaps it meant, "You there!" or "Woman!" or "Warm thing I sleep on!" but we'll never know. He was fond of me most of the time but not above taking a swing at me in the name of behavior modification. Anyway, both kittens now make very similar kitty bugling noises when they can't find me.

Many names translate from language to language somehow. I wonder where the kittens heard mine.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Music Blogging: Long Ago And Far Away Edition

I woke up this morning with I'll Never Leave You in my head.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Me Aside And I Can't Break

Say, you're driving down the street in your swingin' YouMobile. You're fiddling with the radio. You're feeling pretty good. You're warbling, "Do you believe in live after love? after love? after love? I can feel something inside me say - WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"

Brace yourselves, children.

This family in Madison, NJ loves Halloween. They decorate like mad. Unfortunately, they're not up on current events of the last 100 years. We'll let the Daily Record take it from here, because I couldn't do this justice without my own appellate division.
Public uproar that compared an image to a lynching has led a Madison family to remove a hanged dummy from its Halloween display.

Homeowners David and Cheryl Maines angrily denied the display, including a life-size figure with a featureless black head hanging from a noose, was racist. They had refused to remove the figure dressed in a navy blue shirt, blue jeans and sneakers earlier Monday.

"It's a Halloween decoration, that's all it is," said David Maines, who is Madison's superintendent of public works. "I'm at the end of my rope because of one lady ... a lady who is being a pain in the neck."

Flying Spaghetti Monster! Lynching jokes! Man, that's fresh comedy! What in glamorous tarnation is going on here?
Cheryl Maines said her family was being harassed by people like [Millie] Hazlewood and others who were taking pictures of their home.

"This has destroyed my son," Maines told Hazlewood, and the two other black residents, Nora Drewery and school board member George Martin, who also were present during Monday's exchange outside the house. "This is why the world has gone crazy, people take offense to everything."

Drewery, 62, a 35-year Madison resident, replied that no one was trying to hurt the Maines family.

"We're just requesting that you take this down," Drewery said.

That's when David Maines showed up at his home, got out of his truck and said:

"Ma'am, shut up. We are not racist."

Maines then abruptly walked away, got into his truck, and sped off.

Are we in a Dave Chappell sketch? Because it is genius.
David Maines said his life was being made a "living hell" and that his job was being jeopardized because of the incident. He said a town official asked him to remove the figure, but would not name the person.

He and his wife said that their son spent $5,000 on all the decorations and that taking down the one piece would "ruin the whole effect."

Also in their front yard are some plastic skeletons and a figure depicting Michael Myers, the character from the Halloween movies. Inside their home, in an enclosed porch, is a display including life-size figures of other movie characters such as Igor from Frankenstein, Jason from Friday the 13th and a mad scientist with beakers, skulls and rats on a table.

"It's like a fun house," Jennifer Maines said. "The kids love it."

Cheryl Maines said those who find it offensive are now harassing them. The Maines family called police Sunday afternoon when several people stood outside taking pictures of the display.

"I'm angry because this woman took something and blew it out of proportion," Cheryl Maines said of Hazlewood. "If you're offended, don't come by the house, there are other routes people can go."

Re-route traffic? Ruin the whole effect?

At first, I thought these people cannot be real - that the reporter was having a little fun at the expense of these wacky exterior desecrators. Well, of course they're real. White people just like them are everywhere. These four happen to be concentrated at one address, which is good news for us, if not for their neighbors.

Look, we all say stupid things. We do stupid shit. We fuck up, we apologize and hope we never do anything that blockheaded again until the next time we do something blockheaded. This is that, and then some. There's a little conversation you can hear on TV daily, if you're paying attention.

Person 1: You really hurt me.
Person 2: I didn't mean to hurt you. I would never hurt you.
Person 1: really hurt me.
Person 2: But...I didn't mean to hurt you. I would never hurt you.

Person 1 is discussing events. Person 2 is discussing fantasies. They will go around this mulberry bush until Person 1 realizes no apology and no change in behavior are forthcoming. Person 2 will be forgiven in the next scene when he or she brings home a bowling trophy with a sheepish grin. Person 2 can't help it. Person 2 is a lovable blockhead. All horrifying accidental hilarity aside, it's time for the Maines family to wise the hell up.

It's 2007, and no matter what they intended to do, what they have actually done is offensive and not just to black people. It's offensive to all people - or it should be. The family's taken down the mannequin, so the show's over for the real dummies. They'll live to festoon again.

Will all their Christmases be white?

h/t: Wintle.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Submarines Is Missing

We can't help it. We go along in life and observe the differences between ourselves and others. One place we notice these differences with special clarity is in the fashion trends that leave us perplexed, like Olivia Newton John's headbands. I never understood them, I guess. I wore headbands to keep my gorgeous red hair out of my eyes like limpid pools while jumping up and down with Gilad every so-very-eighties morning, but no way was I working for the weekend, baby. It seemed that a small group of influential and overly attractive media and design types were listening only to each other and foisting this on us as a cultural done-deal. Which anyone can see sucked. It was an idea that didn't make any sense in the long run, but fashionistas caught up in this trend didn't notice until they took apart scrapbooks with pinking shears.

I vote mostly for Democratic candidates, but I am registered independent. No, I am never going to vote for a Republican candidate. Every plank in the platform is in direct conflict with what's good for me. Let's not even discuss what fiscal responsibility means to the party when the current administration has mortgaged our future to the Chinese.

This is not to say I think much of the Democratic Party, which cannot sell out on its constituencies early or often enough. There are minor differences between the parties; it's one party acting vigorously against my interests versus one party waiting for me to hold my nose and vote. I can see from the distant outside that this little battle has taken several turns toward the truly weird that remind me of those headbands. No, really.

For one thing, a small group of extreme right wing bloggers and hangers on has gone off the reservation, as it were. Vehemence does not lend strength to their arguments. Mark Steyn, as quoted by Michelle Malkin:
The Democrats chose to outsource their airtime to a Seventh Grader. If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man’s job, then the boy is fair game.

This family has received death threats. Let's take a giant step back here. If you haven't followed this story, you can read up. Steyn's are the words of a person engaging in politics as bloodsport. He is not interested in the politics of what is good for Americans. His interests are in money and power, and he pursues them, as he says, no matter what the cost to anyone else. That's an old story, but what is an exciting new thought - at least to me - is the notion of fair game, implying that we as Americans don't give a good goddam and are complicit. If I asked a thousand people - "If you go on TV, say, and tell people a government program helped you, would it be fair for people of a different political stripe to demand to see your tax returns?" - do you think even a single person would say, "Sure. No court order or nuthin'"?

No. No one would.

At a certain point you should realize no one else is wearing headbands but you and your friends. And Olivia, who is adorable in her own kind of dated way, though I hate Grease with my whole black heart. There's no room for compromise there, as there is no room for compromise with fellow Americans who see me and people like me and people different from me as less human, and less deserving of a dissenting opinion.

All Republicans do not lack compassion, just as all Democrats do not lack courage. What is happening fast and furious doesn't make any sense in the long term. I wish everyone would slow down and ask him- or herself one question: Do the policies I support create or mitigate suffering in the world?

How do you feel about your answer?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Believe In Anything And I

Daria: You know I stick my head in and read Poor Impulse Control sometimes.
Tata: Yup.
Daria: Not for nothing, but you're blogging angry. How can you say you're so happy when you're so mad?
Tata: I've never been as happy in my whole life without expensive chemical enhancement, yes. On the other hand, there is a whole lot of very seriously bad shit going on in the world, which is bound to put a slight damper on my mood.
Daria: Yes, but you used to be funny.
Tata: I contend that I am in fact funny, current events are not. Hilarity is ensuing around the globe, only with bombs.
Daria: That's not so funny. Step it up, willya?

Because my sister Daria is the only person I've ever traded Friday and Saturday underpants with I will concede this point: I haven't been writing down Teh Funny. I apologize for falling down on the comedy job, which would be funny involving an ottoman if the Turks hadn't just recalled their ambassador. Since my other jobs include playing with my food and reading you the dictionary by flashlight, here's a tender but flaky ghost story fresh outta Merriam-Webster:

Pronunciation: \-jən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural in·sur·gen·cies
Date: 1803

1: the quality or state of being insurgent; specifically : a condition of revolt against a government that is less than an organized revolution and that is not recognized as belligerency
2: insurgence

Let's say for a second you're you, but you live where I live. Sorry about the pre-war wiring, but don't plug that in, hmm? Now let's move on. You live almost literally on the banks of the Raritan River.

View Larger Map

Yeah, that thing. Now, suppose some stern foreign authority bombs the shit out of New Brunswick, which happened a few hundred years ago and kind of a lot. The bombing eventually stops and tanks roll either up or down Route 1 and park on George Street. (Interesting coincidence: named for a former despot.) They say they're here to liberate you from your current despot while shooting your neighbors in the streets. The occupying army organizes a new government with the biggest suckups it can find. You have very limited electrity, little clean water and no gas. The garbage is never picked up because it could contain explosives. You risk your life each time you venture out for toilet paper and Snausages. You bury your dead relatives under the front lawn because funerals up the body count.

Maybe you keep your head low for a while. You're not a soldier and maybe you've never handled a weapon. The occupying army can't stay, right? The despot's pushing up daisies and armed gunmen have all the freedom they can eat. What do you do? Do you bet your survival on good behavior? No, in this hilarious setup, you eventually go all Viva Maria! and coffeepot radio, which is why I laugh until I cry whenever I hear a politician talk about defeating the Iraqi insurgency.

As a comedy writer, I can't compete with Dick Cheney and his utter misapprehension of human nature. Now, that's funny.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Pass As Cats Edition

Behold, another Great Moment In Feline History captured in pixels for whatever posterity we fit in before lunchtime: Madame Topaz has vanquished her mortal enemy the squirt bottle and, as if that weren't enough, denies all knowledge of the aforementioned vanquishing!

Tata: Topaz! My darling, you've knocked over the squirt gun!
Topaz: I don't know what you're talking about! Take it up with the dog.
Tata: We don't have a dog.
Topaz: (sniff!) Whose fault is that?

Drusy's new favorite lurkplace is under this footstool Pete brought over from his swinging bachelor pad because like most humans, Pete likes to relax with his feet up. The opposite appears to be true of kittens, who in this picture enjoy pleasant contact with all things floor-related. Topaz, in the foreground, may be considering my failings as a photographer. We both know that as soon as I put away the camera, Topaz will leap to the highest pussycat-attainable height in the living room: Pete's bicycle seat. From this lofty vantage point, Topaz will fix on me her 110 volt stare and wait for me to burst into flames.

So far: no dice.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fire For You

Look! Paulie Gonzalez puts in a cameo appearance where you can go see him!

Sez Paulie: I am throwing a Halloween party on the 27th. The Paramount Theater at Convention Hall in Asbury just completed their renovation. I am hosting a double feature Halloween party for the first movies at the theater in decades!

Holy cow! You should go to this fantastic Halloween party in this famous theater in this most exciting of seaside Jersey towns, and you should meet Paulie Gonzalez, who is practically Batman. You should watch these great terrible movies and wear a wild costume and have an outrageous time you can then report back to the rest of the class.

I am almost jealous of you!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Beach Is Backward Isn't It?

The Libraries of Middlesex County, NJ collect new books for children for the December holiday season. This program, Books to Keep, has distributed over 120,000 books since it began in 1990. Over 40 social services participate in this program including soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The libraries also collect money to support this program. For example, a check for $25 buys eight paperbacks for a child. Please make your donation prior to December 15th.

Patty Simmonds at Piscataway Public Library who helps to coordinate this program. Please call 732-463-1633.
Leah Wagner, at Monroe Township Library, is the Chair of the Books to Keep program for the Libraries of Middlesex County. The Library may be reached by telephone at (856) 629-1212.

Also, because you're a good egg and care about the welfare of others, please click here and click again where the site tells ya. You're doing a good thing, Tex.

The Books To Keep program is in my own county, but yours may have a similar program. Please give your public library a call. They may need your help.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Mixed Up Muddled Up Shook Up World

A few days ago, my erstwhile drinking buddies sobered up long enough to talk briefly about a movie. I hadn't seen it then but have now, and in the interest of spur-jingling mayhem, sometimes give even tinfoil-helmet theorists a turn holding the Talking Stick. The filmmakers could be total crackpots for all I know. I will say this: the first five-ten minutes sure are visually exciting. Pretty. The second segment of the movie is hard to watch, as planes crash over and over into the towers, and there's discussion of international banking conspiracies that devolve into RFID chip nerves, and an ending that arrives from - best I can see - nowhere.

I'm not endorsing this movie. I'm saying it's out there, you can watch it if you choose, and now I have questions about that plane crashing into the Pentagon. Who do I ask? I don't know, so I was already a little down when I read Court Rejects Case of Alleged CIA Torture Victim. Shit:
The Supreme Court today declined to hear the case of a German citizen who said he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.

A federal district court judge and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit had earlier dismissed the case brought by Khaled El-Masri, agreeing with the government that the case could not go forward without exposing state secrets. The Supreme Court denied review without comment.

Masri, who is of Lebanese descent, has said he was detained by Macedonian police on Dec. 31, 2003, and handed over to the CIA a few weeks later. He said he was taken to a secret CIA-run prison in Afghanistan and physically abused before he was flown back to the Balkans without explanation in May 2004 and dumped on a hillside in Albania.

When I read about this case awhile back, I wondered what I'd do if the CIA dropped me on a hillside in Albania. I still don't have an answer for that.
German officials said they were later informed privately by their U.S. counterparts that Masri was detained in a case of mistaken identity, apparently confused with a terrorism suspect of a similar name. U.S. officials have not publicly admitted any guilt or responsibility in the case.

The American Civil Liberties Union had taken up Masri's case. Lawyers for the group said the Bush administration was using the state secrets privilege too broadly, invoking it to stop lawsuits relating to wiretapping and whistle-blowers as well as terrorism cases.

In this case, they argued in asking the court to take the case, "the entire world already knows" the information the government said it is seeking to protect.

I wish I'd thought of the I'm Doing Something Against the Rules, Which I Can't Discuss With You Because It's A Secret From You Defense when Mom caught me climbing back in the bedroom window when I was grounded. Anyway, in the last paragraph, almost as an afterthought, we find a very distressing detail.
Masri in May was committed to a psychiatric institution after he was arrested in the southern German city of Neu-Ulm on suspicion of arson. His attorney blamed his troubles on the CIA, saying the kidnapping and detention had left Masri a "psychological wreck."

Rendition didn't kill him; he lost his mind. Obviously, I needed some good news. Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, came to my rescue. He's recently started a dog painting business called, neatly, Painted Dogs. Strangely enough, this does not involve applying paint to dogs. Nope!

Johnny says: My brother Brian the art critic said that because the rug doesn't sort of tilt back like in real life, the painting is "post-perspective." At least I think that's what he said.

I love this image. He doesn't say what size the painting is. You can see the edges of the canvas and some dayight around the edges, but I love Bert On A Persian Rug.

Johnny: Jack has a window company in Albuquerque. He did a magazine ad with a picture of himself with his dog. I did a portrait of the dog and I'm packing up the painting to mail to him. To Jack, I mean. I'd give anything to be there and see his face when he opens it. That is, if I had anything.

Who's a good boy! I love the essential dogginess of his portraits, their energy and happiness. The portraits, I mean. Our dogfriends are the Kings of Enthusiasm. They don't love us - they LOVE US! They don't scamper - they SPRINT! They're not peckish - they're STARVING! These are paintings and pencil drawings of charming indoor wild animals who could as soon sit with you at the table as wrestle for roast beast. How can you not love them back?

Howz yer mutt? Need him painted?


Monday, October 08, 2007

Again, the Same Old Trip It Was Back Then

This is what we are talking about. Take it away, John Mellencamp.

Down With Tyranny has the story and the impotent backlash.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Ooh Yeah, I'm A Wild One

Pete's and my canning project is a practical approach to solving a number of problems and furthering a few causes. Let's review.

1. After Dad's death, we still have hundreds, if not thousands, of jars and bottles sitting in the garage in Virginia.

2. Dad's spice cabinet was full and now many herbs, spices and mysterious ingredients sit on my living room floor.

3. Pete and I both work two jobs and will have little opportunity to shop for holiday presents.

4. This is the family's first Christmas without Dad, who did the vast majority of food preparation for family events, including Miss Sasha's bridal shower.

5. Pete has an interest in developing his own recipes and his own flavors.

6. I am learning so much so fast I have hope that I might be able to learn again. This may mean the damage medication and depression did to my brain is not an insurmountable obstacle.

7. Pete and I like the idea of giving gifts we made as much as possible from materials grown by local farmers.

I am a shitty photographer but if I weren't you'd see these lovely, jewel-colored concoctions with better lighting. I moved a few things around to see if I could work out a better lighting scheme - but no. See these humble images and know that if you found yourself in Pete's tidy, utilitarian basement, you would see on the shelves a growing collection of vivid hues and startling textures in jars ranging from 4 oz. to 32 oz. - 1/2 cup to 1 quart. This jar at left is 1/2 cup, and that concoction is a lush, tropical green that makes my heart sing.

From top to bottom, these images bring us full circle: berry-wine jelly, herbes de Provence jelly and spicy peach barbecue sauce, kiwi daiquiri jam, and I think the berry-wine jam again. Try as I might, I could not photograph the sparkling garnet of the pomegranate jelly or the whole plum tomatoes and do their beauty any justice, and the basil tomato sauce proved utterly coy before the light of the flash bulb. Shortly after these I took these pictures, Pete said, "Hey, didja notice when you do this - see? - on your camera you can change the exposure?" No. Of course, I didn't know. I'm so busy being dazzled by the light.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Crushing A Fly With A Volkswagen: Head Like A Hole Edition

I really, really hate reading these stories. From Feministing, which credits Women of Color Blog with finding this:
School security guards in Palmdale, CA have been caught on camera assaulting a 16-year-old girl and breaking her arm after she spilled some cake during lunch and left some crumbs on the floor after cleaning it up.

The incident occurred last week at Knight High School in Palmdale and was caught on a cell phone camera by another pupil who was then also assaulted by the security guards.

Watch video of the incident here.

The girl, Pleajhai Mervin, told Fox News LA that she was bumped while queuing for lunch and dropped the cake. After being ordered to clean it up and then re-clean the spot three times, she attempted to leave the area out of embarrassment but was jumped on by security who forced her onto a table, breaking her wrist in the process.

Pleajhai also says that the security guard in the picture yelled "hold still nappy-head" at her, which at the time she did not know was a racist comment.

Watch the video. I'll wait.



You back? Great. Kids tell you half a story - everyone knows they make shitty witnesses. But now you're a witness. What did you see?

If that girl were Miss Sasha, no power on earth would prevent me from doing what Pleajhai's mother did: confronting the cowering school administration.
But it gets worse. When the girl's mother went to the school to complain and rightfully demand that this guard be arrested - she was arrested and suspended from her job with the school district.

Students at the scene captured the assault on their cell phones; one such student was also beaten.

This is a particularly eggregious example of "You Act Your Age While I Act Like A Big Baby." I'm a peaceful person these days. You'd be visiting me on Sundays once a month.

There is just no excuse for arresting kindergarteners for bringing scissors to school or tasering eight-year-olds or asking girls about their periods. Yet, again and again we have school administrators and security guards - almost always men - treating children like armed combatants. It is inexcusable. I don't mean, "Well, maybe there was a reason and what about this and that..." No. No hemming and hawing. No excuses. No compromise. No "It's for their own safety" bullshit. No.

Grownups are so scared they think CHILDREN are the enemy. What happened to this girl could happen to your children. She's not demon spawn who deserved a beating. She's a girl, like your daughter. She's got an arrest record for dropping cake. And there's nothing except the slimmest grasp on common sense and vast, messy litigation preventing what happened from happening again.

I can't wait for a time when authoritarian punk-asses will be shown the inside of a jail cell, and even more so the authoritarian punk-asses who prey on the defenseless, like children.


The Most But I'll Take the Least

Recently, I've been all over the map. For a few weeks, I was in the kind of pain that makes the eyes water and in person makes me mysterious. For instance, sometimes I lie face down on my cubicle floor, which used to induce panic in my officemates but now elicits giggles. For another, if you and I meet in the local grocery emporium and you see me holding very, very still next to the dog chow, singing along with the P.A. system at the tops of my lungs, I might be riding a wave of pain and waiting to crash on shore. Or I might be conjuring up a dog chow-based prank. We don't know! I'm unpredictable that way. For the last month or so, the explanation for quirky behavior has most likely been startling pain that bursts forth in my brain like Roman candles.

Yes, I've been going to yoga and it helps. No, not as often as I could or should. Pete convinced me to drag myself to his chiropractor, who twisted my neck this way and that, which I enjoyed about as much as unplanned dental surgery. Then, to my surprise, the agony stopped. Just...stopped. I spent the next two days waiting for it to come back, then simply waited. In the course of the last week, I've felt ordinary aches, pains and a few twinges but no agony. I have now seen xrays of my spine, which resembles not so much a straw as a Slinky. The chiropractor looked at the films, looked at me, looked back at the films.

Doc: Did you ever fall on your head a lot?
Tata: I did gymnastics in the seventies. Sometimes we fell on mats but there was also concrete.

I have an appointment this afternoon, which is very exciting because I will enjoy the planned neck adjustment like further unplanned dental surgery, and very much look forward to pretending it's not happening. Around 4 this afternoon, don't be surprised if you feel a disturbance in the Force when it takes every ounce of restraint I possess to keep from punching the nice chiropractor.

Every age we attain lies between familiar territory and terrifying frontier. The little changes we see are mostly annoying but not, as a matter of course, shocking unless you have no signposts in the wilderness. People who were adopted face this because they can't see their birthparents age and die in one of the cases where genes count; further, society as a whole is more open to discussion of changes in our bodies but that doesn't mean we tell each other the unvarnished truth, which is that we have a whole lot less control over our bodies than we like to imagine. During August and September, I ate like it was my job, assuming the hunger was hormonal.

Tata: Mmmmph mek mek mmummphy glump.
Siobhan: Ahh, the eating. How long?
Tata: Mpppquch.
Siobhan: That's unusual for you. Your complexion is also a touch flushed.
Tata: Givvus!
Siobhan: If you still had all your internal organs, we'd know what all this meant.
Tata: Pffffffft!
Siobhan: Right! If you still had all your internal organs you'd be lying on the floor, screaming. I forgot!

About a week ago, the eating also just...stopped. I feel like I've been hit by a bus - in reverse. Yes, I've been un-hit by a bus. Let's see if I can walk that off.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You Worry Or Hesitate

Let's define our terms, but let's try something novel and consult a basic online dictionary. Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: fas·cism
Pronunciation: 'fa-"shi-z&m also 'fa-"si-
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian fascismo, from fascio bundle, fasces, group, from Latin fascis bundle & fasces fasces
1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition
2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control
- fas·cist /-shist also -sist/ noun or adjective, often capitalized
- fas·cis·tic /fa-'shis-tik also -'sis-/ adjective, often capitalized
- fas·cis·ti·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb, often capitalized

Main Entry: Na·zi
Pronunciation: 'nät-sE, 'nat-
Function: noun
Etymology: German, by shortening & alteration from Nationalsozialist, from national national + Sozialist socialist
1 : a member of a German fascist party controlling Germany from 1933 to 1945 under Adolf Hitler
2 often not capitalized a : one who espouses the beliefs and policies of the German Nazis : FASCIST b : one who is likened to a German Nazi : a harshly domineering, dictatorial, or intolerant person
- nazi adjective, often capitalized
- na·zi·fi·ca·tion /"nät-si-f&-'kA-sh&n, "nat-/ noun, often capitalized
- na·zi·fy /'nät-si-"fI, 'nat-/ transitive verb, often capitalized

Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: 'rA-"si-z&m also -"shi-
Function: noun
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
- rac·ist /-sist also -shist/ noun or adjective

Ta notes: racism also includes unequal power and economic dynamics. For instance, white people can be racist and black people can be prejudiced, but it doesn't follow that black people can be racist. Yes, I know I said we were working with dictionary definitions. A more sophisticated dictionary would mention the dynamics but I don't subscribe to the OED. And just because:

Main Entry: 1prej·u·dice
Pronunciation: 'pre-j&-d&s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- + judicium judgment -- more at JUDICIAL
1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims
2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics
synonym see PREDILECTION

Got that? Fascism = severe economic and social regimentation and forcible repression of opposition. Nazi = a harshly domineering, dictatorial, or intolerant person. Now read this, which starts here. It is particularly important to read these words by Bryan Suits carefully:
Does the fact that only Barak Obama is - well, the only presidential candidate that will appear on Oprah's show, does that make her a Nazi racist? Is it mutually exclusive that a black woman can be a also a Nazi? I don't think so. I frankly think she is a Nazi.

... I think she has a right to do what she is going to do, I think it makes her a racist though. And I'm not goin' use any kind of coded language or whatever. Anyone can be a racist, we all understand that right? Anyone can be prejudiced and I think she's prejudiced.

Listen, I'm not a genius, and I'm no fan of Oprah's. I have huge and utterly insignificant differences of opinion with Oprah, but this is beyond ridiculous. The FCC has rules about candidates and equal time that Oprah will obey. Anyone cannot be a racist. Oprah cannot be a Nazi. Think the people primarily concerned with the purity of the Aryan race would let a black woman join them for a bier and a putsch?

Anyone can be prejudiced. Almost everyone is prejudiced, to some extent. Two incidents from Sunday, within fifteen minutes.
1. I was driving through the tiny town in which I live when I saw five police cars with flashing lights surrounding one car on the street. I drove by slowly because the police have a carved-in-stone reputation for harassing people Driving While Black. Or Brown. Or Beige. Everyone knows it. When I dated black men I had to drive the car so no one concluded I was being kidnapped. So I expected to see a whole lot of young black men in handcuffs and to call my sister in half an hour to find out what'd happened. Instead, there were four young black men leaning against the car, laughing, and the police were laughing, and everyone looked happy, and except for the flashing lights it all looked so normal I almost crashed my car.

2. In the grocery store, I heard the piercing voice of a four-year-old.
Girl: Mommy, who was that brown lady?
Mom: (mumbled)
Girl: Mommy, who was that brown lady?
Mom: That was Luz.
Girl: But who was she?
Mom: She sometimes watches the other children and (mumbled.)
Girl: Is she your friend?
Mom: (mumbled.)
Girl: Mommy, is the brown lady your friend?
I came around the corner. The woman was putting groceries onto the checkout conveyor and not looking at the little girl - or, for that matter, the cashier or the other customers, many of whom were a lot less caucasian than she was.

This business of turning the language inside out to suit one's political purposes cheapens the public discourse and makes the ill-spoken person look stupid. Bryan Suits looks stupid and as if there's some violent disconnect between his thinking process and his frothing mouth. Here's the thing: if you're a public figure, everything you say, everything you do is now recorded digitally and there's no escaping what you've said and done anymore. Then: since Oprah is not a nazi or a Nazi and cannot be either, Bryan Suits is on record as a liar and a slanderer. What he said wasn't brave or iconclastic or witty. Nope. It was brutal and stupid, and he's tied to it for what may be the rest of his brief career in media.

I hope Suits gets a really quiet day job where a black person isn't head of Human Resources and tries really hard not to eat where black people cook or live where black people might walk their frou-frou purse dogs across his Bostonians - not because black people are prejudiced against white people but because black people have every right to be pissed about what one racist white guy says.

Ask Don Imus.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

However Do You Need Me

From then and there to here and now.

Sometimes, I will be with you. Sometimes, you will turn around and not find me. I cannot help this. I can't anticipate what anyone else will do. I don't have the strength to fight everywhere at once, and you, too.

If you do not tell me what you need I cannot give it to you. Punishing me later serves no purpose but to alienate one who has made common cause with you.


Monday, October 01, 2007

You're In Tokyo But I'm Not

Pete and I have a project. We're canning. See: when Dad died, the garage was full of about 10,000 bottles and jars - many very beautiful - that no one knew what to do with. I went home in April, thinking I'd love to do canning as individual art pieces, which I now know was thinking above my pay grade. In July, it turned out Pete was interested in canning and in me. We bought a book. We studied up. We brought back from Virginia cases of Dad's jars. Those free minutes we have together? We blanche something!

I will talk a lot more about this as we get further into this project, which is canning with Dad's jars and using Dad's ingredients. One interesting aspect to our current story is that though Pete and I have been acquainted more or less since I was this many (holding up five fingers), we have not really known one another at all until now.

Tata: While you were at work, I went shopping! It was exhausting!
Pete: I saw all kinds of things in my kitchen. What did you do?
Tata: First, I went to Michael's, where I thought I might find Ball Jar labels, but no! Then, while I was there, I looked for a book stand for your cookbooks, but no! The only ones they had were fake icky wrought iron with chickens, and I like a chicken-free decor.
Pete: No country kitchen, thank you.
Tata: So I found a good brand of yarn on sale for $1 a skein and you will pretend not to notice my yarn fixation.
Pete: Pretending...go.
Tata: So from there I went to Barnes and Noble for your book stand but in between I passed a well-dressed man shilling for the D.A.R.E. program and he started his patter on me. I said, "Actually, I think kids should be doing more drugs," and kept walking. He made a noise like he was leaking steam.
Pete: You really said that?
Tata: Of course! Barnes and Noble was packed to the rafters, with only one cashier. You have no idea how surly bibliophiles become when unable to purchase the latest John Grisham.
Pete: Did ya riot?
Tata: I considered it, but there were New Yorkers on line, complaining out loud that the cashier ought to practice oogenesis and become four fully functional cashiers. That plan had many flaws so I smiled sweetly and pretended to be Lithuanian.
Pete: It was very nice of you to buy me the book stand.
Tata: No, it wasn't. You weren't there when the $45 cookbook was soaked and I borrowed the blowdrier from your housemate's timid girlfriend, and I can assure you they were extremely naked and mortified. They would have loaned me car keys to get me to bug off.
Pete: Did you find labels?
Tata: Nope. Next, I went to Office Depot, where I walked around and around in circles, trying to guess which labels would fit on the jars. The staff suggested one of those P-Touch gadgets you type stuff into and out comes the label but it was an investment so I told them I'd consult with my esteemed colleague on the matter.
Pete: Do the labels come in different sizes?
Tata: Yep. I don't know what to make of it. Then I went to Home Depot and by this time I'd perfected staring into space as an art form. I picked up a clamp for the dryer vent and lovely black duct tape. Chic, oui?
Pete: Black?
Tata: Black. Stealthy! I will repair unseen! Then I dragged myself into a Hallmark store and asked them about labels. No luck there, either, and by then I was thinking how much I hated packaging engineers. Damn their eyes! Since I was I shopped for wine and groceries and by the time I got to the checkout I couldn't count how many fingers I was holding up, so I dropped things off at your house and came home to nap. How was your day? Did you filet any waiters?
Pete: Not yet. But it's just a matter of time.

It dawned on me in the grocery store, as cognitive ability was deserting me, that the label problem was solved by Dad and Darla by abandoning Ball Jar labels and going full metal household printer on the job. I don't have a printer. What would you do?