Friday, January 30, 2009

Well, Maybe Not An Elephant

This has been bothering me for months: SNL's Fred Armisen as Barack Obama.

Is this blackface? What is it?

In fact, why in 2009 is there one African-American actor in SNL's cast list?

I'm no credentialed cultural critic. I went to college - drove there five days a week for twenty-three years, in fact - but I don't have a theory about why this is or isn't flying, except that the cast keeps growing in size, the women are starting to look very similar and and they keep adding white guys. So what's happening here? Why am I increasingly uncomfortable with what I see?

This is a very respectful treatment of our President's character - affectionate, even. But someday it won't be. Sometime, Mr. Obama will do something the writers don't like. When this bit goes south, it'll be a disaster.

Updated to reflect Siobhan might be right about a few things. Like.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

He Brought Home the Bacon So That

Johnny, our Southwest Bureau Chief, is off the sauce.
I'm putting weight on. My upper body is filling back out again. I feel stronger. Despite the aches and pains, it feels good to live in a body. Quantum physics says I don't have one, that there's no such thing as matter, that I'm more of a cloud of potential dispositions of energy, that my body only really exists when I touch another object, that then the particles squeeze together into what we think of as matter only in the section of me that's touching the object, but that I don't actually touch the object, that when my particles squeeze together tight like that, that compression creates an energy field that repels the other object, so that in fact I don't ever really touch it. I wish I had known that when I got in all those car accidents. But then I'd probably still be driving that brown Volvo station wagon with no heat or air conditioning. And that wouldn't be good.

In the course of the holiday season, I heard more about substance abuse and abusers than I have at any time since I quit hanging out at that bar I don't mention anymore. But really. Half my friends were hooked on something. I think this is a symptom.
Callers reach the counselors at 800-854-7771 for free. It's the same number Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa firmly and clearly broadcasted, after the murder-suicide of seven people Tuesday in the working class neighborhood of Wilmington.

Erwin Lupoe and his wife, Ana, had been fired from their jobs a week before the Wilmington tragedy. But whether job loss stems from a firing or a layoff, the effects are traumatic.

"I don't think it's ever been this bad. Not in my tenure," [Elizabeth] Gore said. "Because the people that we're dealing with now, they have always had [money]. They went to school, they were able to get jobs. Now the jobs are not even out there."

Supervisors at the call-in center say many of these calls are not strictly about mental-health issues, but deal with lapsed medical insurance, foreclosure, bank problems and unemployment benefits.

Oh boy. This week, House Democrats sold women - particularly poor women, but really all women - down the river when they removed family planning from the stimulus package. It's health care and they removed it to get Republican votes the package was never going to get in the first place. Sad. The Democrats look like patsies. Poor women get shafted AGAIN. The Republicans look like Lucy van Pelt holding a football. Our economic situation is so serious we should really expect believers in a disastrous, failed ideology to demonstrate some humility, but no. Meanwhile, outside the Beltway, life as we know it has been falling apart for some time now.
There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers.

The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization.

It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police.

Harvey stays at the city's only parking lot for women. "This is very safe, and that's why I feel very comfortable," she said.

Nancy Kapp, the New Beginnings parking lot coordinator, said the group began seeing a need for the lots in recent months as California's foreclosure crisis hit the city hard. She said a growing number of senior citizens, women and lower- and middle-class families live on the streets.

I am tired of calculation and bad faith negotiating. I'm tired of cowardice and coersion. Though I try to live peacefully, I find myself longing for the song of the guillotine and for our own Bastille Day. What does Johnny say?
Pop Tarts rock.

Heaven help us if they discover the wah wah pedal.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Too Many Holes In the Crust of the Earth


Daria: Why are you calling me at 10 p.m.?
Tata: Because that happens to be now.
Daria: No, why are you calling me at 10 p.m.?
Tata: Did you know that between meals other people stop eating?
Daria: I did not know that.
Tata: It rings - like - a distant bell, doesn't it?
Daria: Yeah, maybe I'll put my snack down and think about it.


Three-Year-Old: What's this?
Tata: It's a garden stake with a friendly face. It keeps your plants company.
TYO: It doesn't scare the birds?
Tata: No, sweetheart. A face in the garden doesn't scare birds.
TYO: What about scarecrows?


Tata: I am a genius and I know this because I am an idiot!
Leilani Goldberg: D'ya ever take a number to have a talk with yourself?
Tata: Okay okay okay so you know how my hip flexors have been tight like angry fists and causing me fairly consistent and debilitating agony?
Leilani: Yes...?
Tata: So the other night, I get off the rowing machine, which usually buys me about two hours pain-free, and suddenly I have one of those blinding revelations that makes you feel brilliant and stupid at the same time. Ready? 'While my muscles are warm, why don't I stretch my hip flexors?'
Leilani: And what happened?
Tata: No pain for a whole day. I'm a genius! And I'm an idiot! Because I have known since we had baby teeth that stretching is the answer but did I get down on the floor?
Leilani: The floor is your friend.
Tata: I'm surprised my friend took me back.


Tata: Pete, dinner is spectacular.
Pete: Thank you!
Tata: I'm glad you quit that hideous restaurant. That place always made you angry.
Pete: I'm thinking about working as a personal chef.
Tata: That's good. Your cooking deserves a wider audience, and if it doesn't get one, dahhhhhling, I will become that wider audience.


An ice storm is coming. I feel this in every fiber of my being. Even so there is reason for delight: the seed catalogs have arrived. They bring new magic words: self-pollenating fruit trees. Now is the time to dream of fragrant, sunny afternoons.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Where She Is Now I Can Only Guess

ThinkProgress: this fucker doesn't make the cut on the varsity cogitating team.

Jesse Taylor:
Kefalinos denies intimating that Obama would be assassinated, and insists that the cookie is "not unflattering. I think it's a fun face… And anyone who says anything else should be ashamed of themselves." Besides, nobody got upset about the "Dead Geese Bread" he sold after the recent Hudson River plane crash. (We’re NOT making that up.) Also, Kefalinos insists he can’t be racist because, for one thing, “my brother-in-law, he’s Cuban."

I like that ubiquitous "I can't be a racist because [someone else] is [something]" rationale. It's priceless. By that reasoning, I can't be a racist because sasquatch is lemurs.


My Eyes Could Clearly See

My brother Todd, who was smart enough to tell Mom after he went skydiving, sends this along. After a bit of searching, I see it's from Seven Sunny Days.

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

I'm speechless. That's absolutely amazing.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

He Does Seems To Come Out Right

Sorry I've been quiet. Bit of a snowstorm beating a path across my brainstem. I considered curling up into a ball on the couch but I didn't actually feel bad - just stupid, and when I say I felt stupid, I think I actually sat at my desk yesterday and stared into space. I'm not sure precisely because I was, you know, stupid. Perhaps it's just a coincidence that sometime this week the kitten here, whom we're now calling by the first common noun that springs to mind despite our settling on Piccolina as a Bugs Bunny-inspired moniker, has taken to waking me up by flopping down on my head, licking my hair and stabbing me with her adorably needle-like kitten claws. This is not the first time a pussycat decided to festively recoif me. You will note the kitten practices what she sees the older cats do, including sharing glasses of water with me. Water is especially delicious if I've taken a few sips from the cup. Pete makes faces, but he forgets he's covered with the spit of adoring kitties. Drink up, girlies!


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'll Wait For Answers Just Dance Me In

Obama Chief of Staff puts a stop to pending Bush regulations

WASHINGTON (CNN)– President Obama has wasted no time handling the Bush administration's unfinished business.

White House officials tell CNN Obama Chief Staff of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent a memo Tuesday to all agencies and departments of the federal government. The memo halts further consideration of pending regulations throughout the government until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration.

Enough about them; let's talk about me. This morning, after playing my usual game of How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up? and guessing 7, I sat in the attic on the crooked seat of an ancient rowing machine Pete and his brother have carted around and used since they misspent their youth and found enough pocket change to go drinking with the Vice Principal. In fact, every morning, I sit on this crooked seat and row while watching the news because being physically strong has always been important to me, because I will never have the kind of money gym membership requires and if I did I wouldn't spend it that way, because I can row, which is above all else political. It is political that I have the ability as a middle-aged, lower middle class white woman to take care of my health, and it is political that athletics shaped my physical form. It is political that I color my hair, wear cosmetics and wear clothing that does not restrict my movement. My hair looks fab, by the way, and that's political. Everything I eat, everything I do, my artwork, my job, the blog - it's all shaped by politics. This blog has no ads, and that is a political decision; my ability to pay for this blog is political. I'll never take a bite of a Domino's Pizza or set foot in WalMart or Sam's Club, and those are political decisions. I shop at Costco because Costco treats its employees well, and that's political. Last week, my delightful compañera Jill was kind enough link to yet another of My Little Meltdowns with this note:
Now, my good friend Tata is usually given to blogging about delicious cooking and fabulous decorating and about her highly colorful family and her Coolest Cats in the Known Universe. But you know that a politically-related story is important when Tata gets her umbrage on, and this one takes the proverbial cake...

Frankly, I'm not that nice a person. I'm nice to Jill because I like her, respect her and know she's smarter than I am, which I like a whole bunch. Writing about my family is political, writing about food is political, taking in stray animals is political, having shelter, creating a home and even falling in love are all political, and we skip over these points often to get to the funny or the tragic. When I write about the selfishness of movement conservatism, it always corresponds to my own selfishness because I am subject to the same human impulses that make people despots and saints. It must correspond, if I'm any kind of writer. Jill knows all this and she's too kind to say so: when we met for the first time, Siobhan, Jill and I had lunch and went bra shopping and I said nothing about myself because for more than ten years everyone I met had heard about me - whatever I was, everyone I crossed paths with knew me in an abstract sense. Which is political, of course. Seeing myself through someone else's eyes is political, and educational, and I have so much to learn.

The other night, Pete and I were making dinner.

Pete: Phil's daughters just went back to school. The younger one, Ellie, who started college in September got kind of date-raped in her first semester.
Tata: Welcome to the World of Women, my dear.
Pete: She got herself into a situation she couldn't get herself out of.
Tata: No. That is not at all what happened. She was going along and some shithead raped her. She didn't do anything. She didn't get herself into a situation. A rapist freaking raped her. He is responsible for his actions. Did she press charges?
Pete: Yep. He got three months' probation. Phil's more upset about it than Ellie is.
Tata: Good for her, because shitheads are literally everywhere.

Every microscopic bit of that is political. We may choose to overlook politcal aspects of our actions and identities but they exist and bear examining. Back to me on the rowing machine: my skin color, my free time, my good health, my control over my body including my uterus, my ability to feed myself nutritious foods, my job, my insurance, my sexuality, my desire to feel strong and take care of myself as an adult, my hope that I will someday retire, these are all the results of other people's life's work. I am who I am as a composite image of other people's struggles, wins and losses, and I cannot really know who they are or were, but I have watched and listened, and I know when people are trying to rewrite, reshape or redraw me in an image more comfortable for uncomfortable them. That is what happened every day for the last eight years, one little rule here and one acre of national park land there, one drowned city over yonder and holes in the safety net everywhere, and let's not forget the cowardice endemic in the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. It's all political and it's all exhausting, but at least for the moment, someone is thinking, and not just about himself.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

You're Not A Stranger To Me

The indispensible Tom Tomorrow offers his tribute to the outgoing administration.

Let us hope it is swiftly followed by indictments, prosecutions, convictions and lengthy prison terms.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Daybreak If You Want To Believe

I hesitate to predict further into the future than tomorrow morning, not because I don't see where we're going but because I see We are lots of Us, and I have been confused. I have little stamina, work in short bursts and require naps about which I am quite serious so don't call me. Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, which we can honor by heeding the call for a national day of service. What's that, then?
Millions of Americans are expected to honor Dr. King and answer President-elect Obama’s call to service by volunteering on the January 19 King Holiday. More than 12,100 service projects are taking place across the country, more than double last year. Americans will make it “a day on, not a day off” by delivering meals, refurbishing schools, reading to children, signing up mentors, and much, much more.

Yeah... never before would I have believed a word the government said about Dr. King, but things are different for everyone now, so back to me. For years, I contented myself with small projects, connecting stuff with people who needed stuff and anonymous donations because I didn't trust myself to be able to finish the job, whatever the job, before I went limp with exhaustion. Yesterday, I saw a poster in the family store for a food pantry collection in the tiny town. It hasn't been publicized well, so I don't expect much, which might be fine for a normal person but Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Still, for me, it's a leap into the unknown. I am going to meet people and see what I can do. I predict tomorrow morning, I will really learn a thing or two, and one or both will be humbling. That's got to be good for everyone, right?


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Grin At the Change All Around Me

Okay okay okay so last night I'm walking around upstairs, thinking Ta thoughts, going la la la la life's good - whut? and next thing you know because you're joining this story late I'm bouncing - bump bump bump! - down the stairs and land on the left side of my sweet patootie. I didn't bother screaming since I couldn't possibly scream louder than the bump bump bump! of my butt down the stairs and by the time I thought of screaming I'd already landed and that seemed, you know, pushy. Besides, as my much younger sister Corinne reminded me, we used to do this for fun, which was before I spent half of every day coddling my right hip, so when I landed in the middle of the flight of steps it took about a year for me to narrow down the source of all that pain reverberating through my limbs like church bells through mountain air.

Mark Rothko
Red, Orange, Tan and Purple, 1954
Oil on canvas
84 1/2 x 68 1/2 inches (214.5 x 174 cm), approximate size and shape of giant bruise on my butt.

This morning I was supposed to exercise with my friend Leilani Goldstein. She's a professional trainer but she pities me and finds me hilarious so she pushes us through two hours of really rigorous calisthenics a week and I try out two hours of my comic material. Breathing is optional, of course. Leilani had a scheduling conflict, which was fine by me.

Tata: No, rescheduling is fine. Last night, I sailed down a flight of stairs on my celebrated rump and I couldn't figure out how I was going to get down on my mat, let alone up in boat pose.
Leilani: You - are you hurt?
Tata: You bet! I can only do plies in my overactive imagination! Wanna try Sunday?
Leilani: You're going to heal in 24 hours?
Tata: Not at all, but you can still laugh at me while I dead lift like I wish I were.

Meanwhile, Leilani, who is kind and gentle and wouldn't hurt a flea and used to dance for Ringling Brothers, fails to utter three words in a row without testing the aerobic capacity of her sinuses.

Leilani: I'm so sorry - KTTTTHHHHT! - to hear you - GONNNNKT! - bruised YOUR BUTT!

Yeah. Me, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009

When You Love Me Love Me Right

Yesterday, I'd just trundled in from the library where I destroy the dreams of publishers around the world when General Hospital was interrupted by a plane crash in the Hudson River. Now, I know what you're thinking: putting a plane down in the water is not excellent flying technique, what with the crashing and so forth, but there really can be a variety of opinions on that. For instance, I was trying to make dinner at 3:30 because it was Thursday and Pete and I both work Thursday nights at the family stores and you should not at all attempt to marinate pork chops while watching a marine rescue, my friend. Nope. Anyway, this plane in the water is surrounded by ferries, which are bigass boats, tugs, which are not, and these inflatable hoohaas called Zodiacs, which on my TV look like zippy specks. And somehow I boiled chicken stock and a can of chick peas which I've never called chick peas in my life because my family calls them ceci beans and that means we're saying beans beans and I don't know why. I spiced this up - whew! - turned off the heat and tossed in couscous, though things happen quickly and we only like to hope they're for a reason. We can't know. So we start seeing the same six people climbing up gangways wearing life preservers and you and I both know everyone watching wonders if those are the six survivors but yes and no because yes, they survived but no, it turns out everyone survived - everyone! So I sear the pork chops on both sides for four minutes each while tugboats and the current take the plane south on what is certainly the ride of someone's life and while the NYPD is full of arrogant armed fucks who'd make Mother Theresa fantacize about wood chippers New York City's first responders are brilliant, fucking brilliant. The pilot brought the plane down without cracking the fusillage to pieces, which I wouldn't have imagined in a million years and at a reduced heat, four more minutes on each side before I tossed the chops and the couscous into one of those meal-size Ziploc containers and drove like Jehu to the store, where Pete met me at the door and I said, "This is everyone's lucky day."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Sense In War But Perfect Sense

What in glamorous tarnation?
The Bush Administration's Department of Justice announced Monday that they are suing the city of Gary, Indiana for discriminating against white people.

Seven more more days...
On Monday, the Justice Department announced a lawsuit against the Indiana city, alleging that six EMT technicians appear to have been hired on the basis of race alone in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act -- which was passed to combat discrimination against African Americans.

The suit alleges that the city told applicants that offers of employment would be based on the order they were ranked. But the city seems to have ignored their own ordering and instead hired several African American applicants who placed lower than the white applicants.

Each of the six who were hired ranked lower than the highest-ranking white applicant, the Justice Department wrote.

"Federal law guarantees equal access to employment opportunities without regard to race," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a release. "The Department is committed to enforcing all the federal civil rights laws, including Title VII, under its jurisdiction."

Something about this doesn't feel quite right, but what is it? What's missing? What's...?
Gary's corporate counsel, Hamilton Carmouche, told a local paper the list was prepared by the city's previous mayor, and gave preference to applicants who lived in Gary.

"We hire not on the basis of any race, but on the basis of residency," Carmouche said.

Ah! There it is; logic. You want your EMTs to feel connected to the community. Got it. So, the administration's doing what, now?
Use of the Civil Rights Act to protect against discrimination against whites is not unprecedented, but it is a novel tactic by the Bush Administration's lawyers.

Ironically, the Administration hasn't been a big fan of expanding civil rights law.

Earlier this year, the White House fought efforts to elimination[sic] a statute of limitations measure that prevents employees from suing their employers for hiring discrimination if they don't file suit with 180 days from the date of the discriminatory activity.

With one week left of this unabashed oligarchy, I can say with a clear conscience I wish we'd elected a lime Jell-O mold to the Presidency in 2000 because even if the squiggly dessert wouldn't talk about its policies at least it wouldn't have fucked with the American people like this. And sliced pears.

I assume this kind of racist bullshit will stop Tuesday morning, just before lunchtime, so what was the point? What could possibly have been the point? The point has always been to be a really big dick about everything. As jaw-dropping as every day of the last eight years has been, this final press conference is still shocking. At 7:54 in this video, even now, you will not believe your eyes and ears.

At least when desserts fail, no one fucking starves.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Next Time I'll See You There

Have you ever in your entire life seen an action photo of tulips? Sunday afternoon, I walked by this color combination, backed up a few steps and said, "Pete, get the camera." Though the flowers appeared still they of course weren't. Nothing is. We are all always in motion, faster than we know and not at all where we appear to be. When Darla was down from Canada for a visit, I opened a jar of Tang to amuse her. "We can pretend we're in space!" she exclaimed. And, of course, we are.

A few weeks ago, out of the blue, I remembered that our landlord for the house we lived in when I was five had a wooden leg, and I remembered his name, too. Things may be starting to drift out from behind the wall of my memory loss. An example: this obscure Australian song I had on a 1993 NACB sampler and never heard anywhere else. Until yesterday, I hadn't seen this embarrassing video, but somehow that makes it better.
I love this happy, happy song and its drive and energy. I can't figure out why the singer dances about a half a beat off the rhythm but there's no accounting for counting. For all we know, she hears her own distant drummer, as we do at our house, and late at night we call the cops because we are old now, and resent the presence of a bad Portishead cover band next door. I mean, what?

Lovely Princess Drusy likes face-to-face interaction, so when Pete sat down to take pictures, Drusy leapt onto the table and licked his face. Pete grumbled, but he wasn't really angry. How can you be angry when the tiny, beautiful pussycat openly adores you? You cannot. So Pete grumbled, took this one picture including Drusy and she scampered off to play. That stripe of pink skin under black fur looks like Topaz and not Drusy, whose face is all black. It was Drusy, disguised as Topaz, I think. Perhaps this photo provides proof for someone's Unified Cat Theory, but space makes it hard to be certain.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

And If I Start A Commotion

The full moon is passing, and yet, I am in SUCH A MOOD. My hair is pinned down because otherwise it'd stand up straight. Last week, one of my co-workers told me I'd have to wait for her help until after a big presentation. While there is never a good time for someone to test my theory that I am the Creamy Nougat Center of the Universe, there are also few times when shooting off one's mouth in the workplace work in one's favor. Today, I'm going to spend most of my workday trying not to utter any variation of the words, "Why don't you WAIT FOR ME to feel like kissing your ass?"

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Tree How Big It's Grown

Did I mention what I got for those December holidays? I really wanted this!

I'm going to be the most glamorous shopper in the frozen foods aisle making Vroom! Vroom! noises.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I Gotta Straighten My Face

Life has changed a great deal since Daria and I were rugrats hiding under the appointment desk in our grandmother's beauty salon. For instance, at the time, Gram said, "Get up off the carpet. You'll get hair splinters," so we'd go play in the basement with mousetraps and bait. Now you can't get your nails done without wearing a bicycle helmet. For real peculiarity, few things beat the mental image of the family hair salon in which half the stylists are smoking and the other half are delicately nibbling patty melts between appointments and some of them are punching holes in the ozone layer with the thick cloud of Aquanet they're using to cement Mrs. Becker's coif into place for the coming week. Mom, the pretty daughter-in-law, washes hair with a cigarette in the ashtray next to the sink. Auntie InExcelsisDeo is a star. Everyone loves her daring and glamorous haircuts, her architectural roller sets and dramatic comb outs. She is in demand, week after week. Everyone talks, but Gram forbids gossip. East Brunswick, even along Route 18, is still a small town and people could get hurt. Gram's brothers have salons of their own, and some of her nieces and nephews have salons, too. Since I cannot deny my high-hair heritage, I am grateful that 'burpless' grass may reduce the environmental impact of that patty melt.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Back Here To Repeat Until You Learn, Learn, Learn

Dick Cheney is truly the Source of All Evil. By now, everyone's read about this:
If you don't get punished, you didn't go anything wrong, right?

That's the message Vice President Dick Cheney gave in an interview with CBS' Bob Schieffer on Sunday, suggesting that a president's actions are legal if those actions didn't result in his impeachment.

Asked by Schieffer if he believed that anything the president does in time of war is legal, Cheney said there is "historic precedent of taking action that you wouldn't take in peacetime."

Cheney referenced Abraham Lincoln as an example of another president who "suspended the writ of habeus corpus" during a war, prompting this exchange:
SCHIEFFER: But nobody thinks that was legal.

CHENEY: Well, no. It certainly was in the sense he wasn't impeached. And it was a wartime measure that he took that I think history says today, yeah, that was probably a good thing to do.

Right now everyone who's ever spent time with a four-year-old is seeing stars, because this sounds like nothing so much as -

Mommy: Who broke this lamp?
Finster: Not me.
Mommy: There's no one else here and the dog has gone to Heaven.
Finster: Why?
Mommy: What?
Finster: Why?
Mommy: The dog has gone to Heaven because his little heart gave out. And you need a spanking.
Finster: Why?
Mommy: Because otherwise you won't learn to tell the truth.
Finster: Why?
Mommy: So I can spank you sooner, obviously.
Finster: Can I have a cookie?
Mommy: After my nervous breakdown, sure.

Mr. Lincoln may or may not have done the right thing when he did what he did but he didn't "[suspend] the writ of habeas corpus" he suspended the writ of habeas corpus. There's no equivocating about it. We can't spin it. It happened. And to play semantic games about the violence Cheney and his ilk have done to the Constitution, this country and the world is to make ourselves complicit. Mr. Schieffer's relatively passive acceptance of these vile assertions makes him part of the problem, whether he believes it or not.

Day after day, week after week, for the last eight years, I have heard story after story of monstrous, unimaginable atrocity from this administration. Every single day I heard a story I would not have believed even the day before. While the incoming administration gives me every reason to think the outrageous bullshit will be curtailed, House and Senate Republicans show no sign of stopping theirs. In addition, we have every reason to believe that as time passes, we are going to hear the backstories of the crimes these soulless fucks perpetrated and for which they will probably never be prosecuted. I try not to wish ill on anyone, but in Cheney's case, nothing would give me greater joy than to see him in chains at the International Court in the Hague.

The Rude Pundit makes an important point.
Let's face it: back in 2000, most of us were pussies. We knew, fucking knew, that the presidential election was being stolen as we watched. And we didn't riot - we didn't explode into the streets in a flare of anger and righteousness and shut shit down, demanding that the Supreme Court and the Republican Party back the fuck off. We didn't head to Miami to block the right wing thugs who were stopping the recount at the canvassing board. We didn't go on a general strike to say, "Count the votes."

And Al Gore fucked it up, too. He didn't tell us to do it. He didn't lead a movement. He could have said that, at the end of the day, democracy fails when you say that voting is just an exercise, not a right that people were killed for. Instead, we behaved like end of the millenium Americans, going about our business, thinking, in the long run, it wouldn't matter, anyways. (And to any conservative wad of fuck that thinks we need to get over 2000, look at your granny's retirement account.)

Jump to 2004, and second verse, mostly the same with slight variations: the Johns, Kerry and Edwards, promise to count all the votes, yet, when Ohio is a clusterfuck of irregularities that'd make Boss Tweed go, "What the fuck?" and walk away, they throw in the towel for the good of the nation or some such shit, when, all they did was consign us to our own degradation for the next four plus years ('cause Obama's inauguration ain't gonna make it all shiny and good for a long time).

Yep, I hate thinking about how powerless I have felt every day for the last eight years. It's all bad. I remember sitting in someone's kitchen after the invasions, feeling like shit about bombs falling on the heads of human beings, and having someone at the table ask, "Are we safe to talk here?" Because it was dangerous in the fucking United States of America to say, "Bombs shouldn't fall on the heads of human beings, no matter who they are - or in this case, were." While we can attribute the bullshit hysteria to bedwetters who felt violated by 9/11, the public discourse was poisoned, and it wasn't until Olbermann started shooting off his mouth on television that people felt they could fight back and not get a visit from the FBI. He may be an atrocious sexist ass, but he behaved creditably.

But what about me? Did I do enough? Did I say enough? Did I write enough letters and blog posts? Did I call my Congresspersons often enough? I doubt it. I doubt many of us will think so in the days to come. Bombs are falling on the heads of human beings again. Still.

How about a cookie?


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

You Pour Yourself Over Me Like the Sun

La la la going along la la doing stuff la la la - what the hell?
"I'm shaking my head at the irony of Joy of Cooking frozen food products."
—Lisa Fain

Christ on a Triscuit, what's this mess, then?

Evidently, you can use the Joy of Cooking to learn, like, joyful cooking, or you can skip the joy and the cooking, and yet you will eat. It's genius, really. I wish I'd thought of it myself and called them up, "Hello? It's Ta. No, we've never met. Yes, I've got your book. No, it's a couple of editions back. Yes, I've got this great idea. It's so great it's almost diabolical. You know how you teach people to cook? Right, right. You can also teach them they can't by selling them frozen foods they can't duplicate at home without a degree in chemistry. Well, you never? I should kiss your what - ?"


Monday, January 05, 2009

Tenderly She Talks On the Phone

Commercials tell us a lot about what people are not talking about, too.  These ladies, for instance.

The commercials allude to what They say. You know Them, They talk a lot. Shitty of Them, doncha think, and who are They, anyhow?
According to a commentary in the April 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, between 1970 and 1990, the consumption of HFCS increased over 1,000 percent.

“HFCS now represents more than 40 percent of caloric sweeteners added to foods and beverages and is the sole caloric sweetener in soft drinks in the United States,” write George A. Bray, Samara Joy Nielsen and Barry M. Popkin, the authors of the commentary.

Well, that is shitty. What else?
Fructose requires a different metabolic pathway than other carbohydrates because it basically skips glycolysis (normal carbohydrate metabolism). Because of this, fructose is an unregulated source of “acetyl CoA,” or the starting material for fatty acid synthesis. This, coupled with unstimulated leptin levels, is like opening the flood gates of fat deposition.

So They say high fructose corn syrup is in everything and constitutes a 8.0 earthquake halfway up the Hoover Dam? Fair enough. Can we get another source?
Our experts weigh in: “A number of recent studies … have convinced me that HFCS does not affect weight gain,” says Barry Popkin of the University of North Carolina, who was an early proponent of the HFCS-obesity hypothesis. “At the same time, there is a new body of research that suggested HFCS might be linked with higher triglyceride levels and other health effects. This research is too preliminary to make any conclusion.”

Adds Dr. Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan: “By exposing children to more sweet foods … you may be inducing a long-term preference for sweets that leads to excessive caloric consumption.”

Okay then. They haven't made up their minds, but we've fattened up societally. When we sit around the house, we sit around the house. Back at the picnic in the commercial, where one mommy says to another mommy, "You don't care what the kids eat, huh?" Though them's fightin' words, there's this bon mot:
The Food and Drug Administration stated, referring to a process commonly used by the corn refining industry, that it "would not object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing the HFCS produced by [that] manufacturing process...."

Geraldine A. June, Supervisor
Product Evaluation and Labeling Team
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
(Letter to Corn Refiners Association, July 3, 2008)

Folks, radon is natural but you don't want it in your pantry, either. The Corn Refiners get other love letters, but the all seem kind of desperate and fragmented.
“To pretend that a product sweetened with sugar is healthier than a product sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup is totally misguided,”

Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in Public Interest
(Associated Press, September 10, 2008)

Is it possible that neither one is good for you? I mean, does it matter if Ho Hos are sugary or corn syrupy? It's just possible it doesn't. But not everything sweetened with anything rots your teeth, adds to your waistline or sends you into sugar shock. Last week, I bought a package of Thomas' Hearty Grains English Muffins because they're quite tasty and something's got to sit between my plate and melting cream cheese. I didn't look closely at the package because I rely on things to be the same as they were the week before for, you know, ever. Anyway, I read packages at home when I'm avoiding doing something else like going to work, and this package says: "Now with no high fructose corn syrup."

Yes, that's what They say: It's in everything, including products that don't need it.

They should probably say that a little louder.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

That's Like Hypnotizing Chickens

Man oh Manischewitz, tomorrow I go back to work. It's too soon. I'd like to hibernate and return to my desk at the unnamed university in April, though even bears check their voicemail in March. I don't know. It's hard for me to feel motivated to increase the Gross National Product without hand sanitizer, but go back I will. At the moment, a little black cat snores beside me and another claws the house's architectural details. I will miss this tranquility as I do battle with the Parking Department, law unto itself and bane of everyone's existence. Still, it'll be fun to don my armor and wind up the trebuchet again. After all, those cows don't lob themselves over castle walls!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Like You Were the Only Man

Fucking Blogger! This happens every New Year's, when Siobhan heads for a more sympathetic jurisdiction. Last year, Blogger and PIC's host quit talking to each other over a family recipe dispute, I guess. I mean, who knows? But when the pie hit the buffet table, the cinnamon flew and sticky fingerprints still dot the blog, which is stuck. Last night, Pete and I stayed up late into the night, talking with with my seasonally distressed stepmommy Darla, and this morning, nobody slept. It was a hard, restless night; so naturally, today the family again celebrated Christmas. Rejoice! I'm exhausted and Jewish but damn it, there's chateaubriand!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Out With An Honest Tongue Now

If there's anything amusing about New Year's it's the phone calls.

Tata: Saskatoon?
Tata: That's great news! You should hang up and I'll leave a message with instructions for how to hide a body and elude capture. Which you will need tomorrow.
Tata: Have your lawyer call me at home - just like last time. Happy New Year!

The phone - jeez, the phone! Daria's house is 15 miles west of mine. We should have walkie talkies.

Tata: A light snow is falling here so I called to hear about your frozen monsoon.
Tyler: It's sunny here. At least I think it is. Do you want to speak to your sister?
Tata: Nah. The storm is coming from the north so it's going to blizzard where you are any minute now.
Tyler: Really?
Tata: Yup. Tell her to call me back in ten minutes so I can mock her high-heeled snow shoes.

I may need one of those head sets that usually tells me someone's a colossal dick.

Daria: Darla's coming in tonight. I'm standing in a liquor store. She wants a box of wine.
Tata: Get the pink stuff. She likes it and it goes with your downstairs bathroom.

Skywriting? Bat signal?

Daria: Todd called an hour ago. He and Bette went to the Hentons' for New Year's. He said they invited Todd and Bette for spaghetti and meatballs. I said, "Spaghetti and meatballs? That's not New Year's food."
Tata: That's Tuesday food.
Daria: I mean, what's that? Spaghetti and meatballs. Last night, we had sushi and three kinds of fondue. It's a party. You might eat spaghetti and meatballs on New Year's Day to nurse your hangover maybe.
Tata: Yeah, but only if the meatballs are quiet.

If everyone's this interesting I might quit hanging up randomly.

Sharkey: Hello?
Tata: The number you have dialed is out of order.
Sharkey: I know it's you. 
Tata: Press 1 for English, press 2 for Pig Latin...