Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Satin Sash And Velvet Elevation

I've been thinking about this song all day. The melody is full of whispers and suggestions that travel up my spine and out through my limbs, I feel it in my shoulders and the way my head should turn. This is my native language. I have spoken it well, lyrically, better than I have done anything else. I wonder now if I am an exile, abroad in a land where I will never speak it again. This is an idle thought, of no importance. My hands are full.

Jake and Dinos Chapman made an installation piece called Hell that was destroyed in a fire. With the help of some very generous benefactors, the artists recreated the piece, this time naming it Fucking Hell. The Guardian UK:
Fucking Hell - also on show at the White Cube gallery in central London - is nine glass cabinets arranged in a swastika formation with tens of thousands of miniature figures enduring awfulness on a grand scale. The original installation was lost in the east London fire which destroyed much of Charles Saatchi's stored art collection four years ago.

"You couldn't fail to see something funny about Hell being on fire," said Jake. Their first thought was: let's do it again. Jake said: "We wanted to rescue the work from the sentimentality that soon clothed the work after it burned, an affection for the work that wasn't there when it actually existed as an object, so the idea of a world without Hell was unacceptable to us.

"While everyone else was whingeing around kicking their legs in the air like overturned cockroaches, the first thing we said was we'd remake it". The Chapmans did not realise Hell was in the fire at first. "We thought it was in special storage for the stuff that he [Saatchi] really liked," joked Dinos.

Pictures don't do it justice, so watch the movie. Go ahead. It's really short.

In the course of considering Heaven and Hell, we are also considering the nature of a Supreme Being. I'm not sure there is one, but I do three stupid things before breakfast so what do I know? A lot of people are sure, and they're sure there's an afterlife that rewards good behavior and punishes bad. That's an awful lot to be certain about on some very iffy say-so, and these are just words. But art is a lens that blurs and focuses. Art is character study. As I watched the short movie, I thought: Hell itself is not the product of a loving theology. The minds that created it, as minds will when there is a gap in information, did not hope for the love or favor of their Supreme Being - or its mercy. No. All of that suffering, filthy and predestined, is just a bore. Imagine tormenting souls for ten minutes. Imagine an hour. Try to imagine a ceaselessness that you simply can't as a mortal being. Imagine the tedium of eternity. What the creators of the philosophical Hell feared more than anything was their Supreme Being's indifference. Given the many myriad possibilities of the human imagination, this is the poison pill: that there is no reason to care about any of us.

Of course, I am special. I hear the dance in music and sense the impatience of time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Every One Of Them And Running Wild

You can't help it. "Oh Ta," you ask, "I love your cats as much as the next Topaz & Drusy Groupie - by the way, we're totally having a Groupie Weekend with matching t-shirts and koi cupcakes because We Heart teh Little Black Catses! - but you're three for three. What gives?"

Princess Drusy in gray, size 7.

About the little things I may never shut my elegant trap, but about big stuff I'm more circumspect. A few weeks ago, a sports medicine doctor stared at my X-rays and went a little pale. On the one hand, I was wildly relieved that whatever was causing my cross-eyed complaining was visible on film. On the other, I wish my problems had been a little more camera-shy. The stupefying outcome of this appointment: apparently, I haven't been complaining enough.

I know. I didn't see that coming.

Side-by-side Drusy-to-Sweetpea size comparison.

Pete and I took stock of our situation and did what anyone would do: we went shopping. We obsessively scoured the intertoobz for stationary bicycles and non-skid footwear for yoga and pilates. Then we went out and sat on a score of stationary bikes and finally we bought one, which turned out to be the cheapest one we saw anywhere. I bought two pair of new sneakers with sturdy treads, and that was good news for little black cats who fit perfectly into boxes the size of two of my shoes.

Exercise has always been the answer. I'm going to need non-skid yoga gloves.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

And I Don't Even Know Their Names

A girl and her trebuchet.

Princess Drusy, she of the fawn-like legs and kissy disposition, loves to share a glass of water with her favorite humans. I oblige her by pouring eight to twelve ounces of her preferred potable into widemouth glasses, taking a sip myself and setting them down where she will find them. She sweetly obliges me by drinking, drinking, drinking and wandering off to be wonderful elsewhere - unless I too am on the move. Then Drusy must know where and why, especially if it might involve the bathroom and another drink from the sink.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

And Another Child Grows Up To Be

The giant kitten wants me all to herself. That should come as no surprise to you since all of the cats want me all to themselves. I'm like a rock star to them.

This is not my cat. I lack the fu of Photoshop that everyone in the whole world seems to have now. Even so, every morning, the giant kitten I call Sweetpea and Pete calls Attila the Adorable Hun decides at an indecent hour that it is time for me to wake up. If the bedroom door has been open all night, this decision is delivered in the form of a 14 pound cat landing on my head which, you'll be pleased to hear, is irresistably delicious. If the bedroom door has been closed all night, Sweetpea bashes her head against the door in a manner that suggests I might need a bigger boat.

Or maybe I should quit chumming before bedtime, I can't say. In the old days of tiny Topaz and swift Drusy's heartwrenchingly adorable and terrifying kitteny morning rampages, I could shut the bedroom door and pout that they might miss me. Now I worry that I might be causing a kitty concussion. I bet the Beatles felt the same way.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Without Ever Knowing the Way

Edith and Andy in Guatemala, 1976

Today is the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Answers.com:
The worst factory fire in the history of New York City occurred on March 25, 1911, in the Asch building, where the Triangle Shirtwaist Company occupied the top three of ten floors. Five hundred women, mostly Jewish immigrants between thirteen and twenty-three years old, were employed there. The owners had locked the doors leading to the exits to keep the women at their sewing machines. In less than fifteen minutes, 146 women died. The event galvanized support for additional efforts to be made to increase safety in the workplace. It also garnered support for labor unions in the garment district, and in particular for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

Crooks and Liars, 24 March 2009:
Lanny Davis enlisted by Big Business to promote a "Third Way" Corporate Compromise on EFCA

Money never misses a chance to lock the doors and let us burn.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Isn't It Funny I Never

Pete's baking bread. The house is filled with the muscular aromas of yeast and molasses. Tomorrow morning, I'll eat a slice of delicious fresh bread without lifting a hand. Should I complain that he left out raisins?


Monday, March 23, 2009

Stories Of the Tour Unfold Booking Agents

My brother forwarded a collection of images of outstanding test failures. I liked this one very much. It reminded me of the Little Prince's drawing that was not a hat. Physics, you see, must be full of elephants we can't see.

Last week, I had an appointment with a sports medicine specialist because regular doctors have different goals than I do. For instance, I believe I should be able to dance until I turn a gilded 100, though medical professionals regard this as evidence of a fantasy-prone personality. It's hard to convince doctors you, as the user of your body, might know something about what's wrong with it, but I managed with the sports medicine specialist. He was very serious about the narrowing of channels and calcification, radiating pain and "bone remodeling" - in fact, he was so serious that when he mentioned the hip joints appeared impact damaged I didn't make a joke. I didn't make a joke about going back to my first love, the trampoline - or being one. I passed up the line about going from speed dating to carbon dating. I even kept my trap shut when I wondered if my hip joints could be replaced with Slinkys. I smiled a lot and made an appointment for physical therapy.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

When Every Day Your Secrets End

Topaz, Queen of the Jungle.

When everything else goes straight to Hell, Pete and I still have Sundays. Pete's a cyclist and it's finally warm enough for him to spend an hour this morning on the bike trails along the canal. I skipped an exercise class in favor of rowing upstairs in the attic and discovered the cats love the baker's rack by a south-facing window and mid-morning sunbeam naps. Rowing makes a racket on the ancient machine but Drusy dozed the whole half hour. I crept downstairs to retrieve the camera but turned around and found her at my heels. Knowing it is totally irresistible to pussycats, I marched all the way back up to the attic and plunked down on the floor, which was like calling the cats through the anchovy phone.


Friday, March 20, 2009

A Line That Goes Here That Rhymes With Anything

So I'm tooling around FDL and I read this cheery post by Christy Hardin Smith. La la la la Obamas plant a garden at the White House hooray!
The Obamas will plant a garden at the White House, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden during WWII. Now that is some change I can fully believe in:

And then I made the mistake of clicking through to the happy article about the happy visit to the White House of some wholesome common sense and I fully expect to see Alice Waters dancing on a table, and I read these words in this order in the motherfucking Washington Post:
President Obama famously learned the political perils of being too familiar with "elite" vegetables such as arugula.

I'd worry more about Obama learning the political perils of being too familiar with "elite" vegetables like Timothy Geithner, who may yet turn out to be a member of the Animal Kingdom. Jesus Donkeypunching Christ, "elite" vegetables? "ELITE" VEGETABLES?

Okay, let's take this slowly for the They Come Out Of A Can crowd: when seeds and fertilizer love each other in a certain way, in the presence of water and dirt and with sunshine and time, little sprouts turn into bushes, trees and vines that flower and fruit, and - voila! - vegetables ripen, from the lowly potato - though not the potatoe - to majestic corn. Arugula is freaking lettuce. Everyone's eaten lettuce. Italians everywhere have just decided not to invite the reporter to dinner, fearful of exposing Ms Jane Black to an "elitist" wheat dish called macaroni.

In an unrelated bit of eye-opening hogwash, someone "owns" Colorado's rainwater, and has for more than 100 years.
But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on [Kris] Holstrom's property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

What Holstrom does is called rainwater harvesting. It's a practice that dates back to the dawn of civilization, and is increasingly in vogue among environmentalists and others who pursue sustainable lifestyles. They collect varying amounts of water, depending on the rainfall and the vessels they collect it in. The only risk involved is losing it to evaporation. Or running afoul of Western states' water laws.

Those laws, some of them more than a century old, have governed the development of the region since pioneer days.

"If you try to collect rainwater, well, that water really belongs to someone else," said Doug Kemper, executive director of the Colorado Water Congress. "We get into a very detailed accounting on every little drop."

Frank Jaeger of the Parker Water and Sanitation District, on the arid foothills south of Denver, sees water harvesting as an insidious attempt to take water from entities that have paid dearly for the resource.

"Every drop of water that comes down keeps the ground wet and helps the flow of the river," Jaeger said. He scoffs at arguments that harvesters like Holstrom only take a few drops from rivers. "Everything always starts with one little bite at a time."

What what what? What what? An insidious attempt to take water from entities that have paid dearly for the resource - I read that over and over. Stealing water from the sky. Stealing it. From the sky. What in glamorous tarnation is going on in that man's head?
Organic farmers and urban dreamers aren't the only people pushing to legalize water harvesting. Developer Harold Smethills wants to build more than 10,000 homes southwest of Denver that would be supplied by giant cisterns that capture the rain that falls on the 3,200-acre subdivision. He supports the change in Colorado law.

"We believe there is something to rainwater harvesting," Smethills said. "We believe it makes economic sense."

Collected rainwater is generally considered "gray water," or water that is not reliably pure enough to drink but can be used to water yards, flush toilets and power heaters. In some states, developers try to include a network of cisterns and catchment pools in every subdivision, but in others, those who catch the rain tend to do so covertly.

In Colorado, rights to bodies of water are held by entities who get preference based on the dates of their claims. Like many other Western states, Colorado has more claims than available water, and even those who hold rights dating back to the late 19th century sometimes find they do not get all of the water they should.

"If I decide to [take rainwater] in 2009, somewhere, maybe 100 miles downstream, there's a water right that outdates me by 100 years" that's losing water, said Kevin Rein, assistant state engineer.

State Sen. Chris Romer found out about this facet of state water policy when he built his ecological dream house in Denver, entirely powered by solar energy. He wanted to install a system to catch rainwater, but the state said it couldn't be permitted.

"It was stunning to me that this common-sense thing couldn't be done," said Romer, a Democrat. He sponsored a bill last year to allow water harvesting, but it did not pass.

"Welcome to water politics in Colorado," Romer said. "You don't touch my gun, you don't touch my whiskey, and you don't touch my water."

Romer and Republican state Rep. Marsha Looper introduced bills this year to allow harvesting in certain circumstances. Armed with a study that shows that 97% of rainwater that falls on the soil never makes it to streams, they propose to allow harvesting in 11 pilot projects in urban areas, and for rural users like Kris Holstrom whose wells are depleted by drought.

Could Michelle Obama install some rain barrels, too?

Seriously, last weekend, I stood at the customer service counter the Lowe's on Route 18 in East Brunswick, NJ and explained to five different employees, with various titles on their Hi, I'm ____ name tags, that I would like to be able to walk into their embarrassingly huge garden section and walk out with rain barrels. I need at least four of them, I explained, and to have them shipped to my house would cost as much as a fifth rain barrel. I would prefer, I repeated and repeated, to pay Lowe's for rain barrels and leave. Not one of them saw there might be some profit to Lowe's to carry the very specific thing a customer was asking to buy four of. No, really.

Manager: At corporate, they don't think it's a good idea to carry something we might sell only once a year.
Tata: Water is expensive. This is a good guard against drought, and you have a lot of small farms around here.
Manager: Maybe you could try our website.
Tata: Did you not hear me explain about the shipping charges? I want to be able to come here, pick out the kind I want, pay you and leave. I want to be able to look at them and see them before they are at my house.
Manager: Some things are just decided at corporate.
Tata: Well, they decided wrongly.

I feel kind of silly hoping simple, obvious things can go right.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

She Can Pull the Wool Over Little Old Me

Six years ago today, we invaded Iraq.

Iron's the traditional gift for a sixth anniversary.

Wouldn't it be great if we clapped Cheney in them?


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'll Give You Everything I Have In My Hand

Why bother disguising your racism when you can parade is all over the front page?
"People here are afraid of the police," said Terry Willis, vice president of the Homer branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. "They harass black people, they stop people for no reason and rough them up without charging them with anything."

That is how it should be, responded Homer Police Chief Russell Mills, who noted the high rates of gun and drug arrests in the neighborhood.

"If I see three or four young black men walking down the street, I have to stop them and check their names," said Mills, who is white. "I want them to be afraid every time they see the police that they might get arrested.

"We're not out there trying to abuse and harass people - we're trying to protect the law-abiding citizens locked behind their doors in fear."

This is bullshit cowardice, as everyone knows deep down, and it never, never ends well.
On the last afternoon of his life, Bernard Monroe was hosting a cookout for family and friends in front of his dilapidated home in this small northern Louisiana town.

Throat cancer had left the 73-year-old retired electric utility worker unable to talk, but family members said he clearly was enjoying the commotion of a dozen of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren cavorting in the grassless yard.

Then the Homer police showed up, two white officers whose arrival caused the participants at the black family's gathering to fall silent.

This is pretty bad. The chief wants black people to be afraid when they see cops. Well, mission accomplished:
Four witnesses said he was sitting outside his home in the late afternoon on Feb. 20 -- clutching a large sports-drink bottle -- when two police officers pulled up and summoned over his son, Shawn.

Shawn Monroe, who has a long record of arrests and convictions on charges of assault and battery but was not wanted on any warrants, reportedly ran into the house.

One of the officers, who had been on Homer's police force only a few weeks, chased after him and reappeared moments later in the doorway, the witnesses said.

Meanwhile, the elder Monroe had started walking toward the front door. When he got to the first step on the porch, the witnesses said, the rookie officer opened fire, striking Monroe several times.

"He just shot him through the screen door," said Denise Nicholson, a family friend who said she was standing a few feet away. "After [Monroe] was on the ground, we kept asking the officer to call an ambulance, but all he did was get on his radio and say, 'Officer in distress.' "

The witnesses said the second officer picked up a handgun that Monroe, an avid hunter, always kept in plain sight on the porch for protection. Using a latex glove, the officer grasped the gun by its handle, the witnesses said, and ordered everyone to back away. The next thing they said they saw was the gun next to Monroe's body.

"I saw him pick up the gun off the porch," Marcus Frazier said. "I said, 'What are you doing?' The cop told me, 'Shut the hell up, you don't know what you're talking about.' "

Homer police maintain Monroe was holding a loaded gun when he was shot, but would not comment further.

Oh. My. God. These people aren't even good at being bad. They're just racist fucks. Fortunately, because they've attracted the attention of the Feds.
Now the Louisiana State Police, the FBI and the Justice Department are swarming over this impoverished lumber town of 3,800, drawn by allegations from numerous witnesses that police killed Monroe without justification - and then moved a gun to make it look like he had been holding it.

"We are closely monitoring the events in Homer," said Donald Washington, the U.S. attorney for the western district of Louisiana. "I understand that a number of allegations are being made that, if true, would be serious enough for us to follow up on very quickly."

You know where we might apply some stimulus funds? To hiring investigators and prosecutors to protect us from jackbooted thugs of all kinds, but especially from thugs passing for public servants. I can't wait to watch the judicial system turn the incarceration industry inside out and put bad cops on the inside.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pass the Tanning Butter

Last week, I ordered CD versions of the first two B-52s albums because how did I only have those in highly stationary vinyl? I can't play that in my car! Every time I hear Rock Lobster turns out to out to be the happiest six minutes of my life. Shouting about red snappers snappin' on my way to work practically constituted therapy because when I got there, my department expected a visit from Human Resources. My co-worker's funeral is Saturday morning. I have regrets I don't want to voice before we play that trust game that involves crowd surfing without a band. Yesterday, people around me swarmed her desk and cleaned it out, which I realized was too soon for me when I couldn't breathe for an hour and a half. This may be startling, given my extreme beauty, but I don't look great in just any shade of blue. This morning, building maintenance finally responded to an earlier complaint about ants along the cubicle wall ten feet from my desk, so at 10:30 this morning, my department hosted a grief counselor and an exterminator.

Teary hilarity did indeed ensue.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Heard We Haven't Been


Man: I can't believe this! Can you get the cream out of the can after someone uses it for whippits?
Pete & Tata: No.
Man: While my daughter was in the shower, the boys sniffed out all the gas. Feel this!

He hands Pete the can. Pete shakes it and hands it to me. That guy is talking a blue streak. I shake the can. It's light, all the pressure's gone and the contents sound liquid. Someone's gonna get it!

Man: How can you tell what they did? Can you look at their pupils and see?
Tata: After about a minute the buzz disappears.
Man: Because one of them is upstairs in sunglasses.
Tata: Well, it is 8:45 p.m. Who could blame him?
Man: I'm really mad! They wouldn't do this at their mother's house.

He is also, by the way, on the phone with his girlfriend.

Man: Tata says we can't look at them and tell. (To us) What about the cream? How do I get that out?
Pete: Nope.
Tata: It's garbage, dude.
Man: I can't - like - open it somehow and re-whip the cream?
Pete & Tata: Noooooooooo.
Man: Their mother's going to be seriously pissed. Can you believe this?
Pete: I used to have a tank of nitrous as tall as your son.
Tata: My friends and I tooled around town with the Executive Whippit Travel Kit. I couldn't be mad about this if I tried.
Man: How many brain cells do you think they killed?
Pete: Oh, about twenty martinis' worth. Don't tell their mother.
Man: I wouldn't if they'd just stop lying about it.
Tata: Sure, because that works out well for kids.
Man: They keep saying it was like that. Could it have been like that?
Tata: Look, I was a bad kid. I have given every excuse and I've heard every excuse.
Man: Tata says she was a bad kid and gave every excuse. What about Tiffy's strawberries?

He keeps talking as he walks away.

Tata: He's mad about the wrong things.
Pete: Yeah. He's not right. More wine?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Across the Clouds I See My Shadow Fly

Discovered this day in 1781: Uranus.

Herschel's music led him to an interest in mathematics, and thence to astronomy. This interest grew stronger after 1773, and he built some telescopes and made the acquaintance of Nevil Maskelyne. In the spring of 1781, William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, using a homemade telescope in the back garden of his house in New King Street, in Bath. He called the new planet the 'Georgian star' after King George III, which also brought him favour; the name didn't stick, however: in France, where reference to the British king was to be avoided if possible, the planet was known as 'Herschel' until the name 'Uranus' was universally adopted.

Color me impressed. I've discovered many things in my various backyards: lightning bugs, a high school ring, unexpected pet poop - but never a planet. Perhaps if we spent more time on our patios, additional planets would reveal themselves. You see, whatever's spinning out in space has done so for essentially all eternity. We just don't see it until we're ready.

Tata: Just so you know, I'm likely to drink a bottle of wine tonight and turn up tomorrow looking like dog chow.
Lupe: You were exceptionally lovely on Monday so we'll average it out.

Pete and I are planting meaty beefsteak tomatoes. I plan to name them all Herschel in hopes of noticing tomatillos I don't remember planting but must have been there all along. Today is also the anniversary of the murder of Kitty Genovese, who was a person and not just a famous tragic figure. Less and less will be known about her as time passes, the people who knew her take to the ether and she is swallowed by lore. Rosemary, as Ophelia said, "rosemary for remembrance." Ophelia wasn't talking about memories, but that gets lost, too. And basil. I like basil. Last night, Jon Stewart tore up one side of Jim Cramer and down the other after a protracted series of tearings up and down. I had waited so long to see just such a thing, just such a series of things, that at first I didn't realize what I was seeing. After a moment, I remember thinking Jon would let him get away, as Jon has let so many before. Then I saw I was wrong, as I often am. Jon was out for blood. Jim was defenseless and mewling: a bully challenged often cries. It was always going to be thus, but now we are ready. We are ready to see the Masters of the Universe reduced to bitter tears.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

You Heard the Music of the Night

Every afternoon for a few years now, she and I would shut off our PCs, gather up our stuff and walk out of the library together. We talked about everything and nothing. We would take deep breaths and describe the weather, the season, a distant fire or a budding tree we smelled on that breeze. Her nose was better than mine, but mine is pretty good. Each breath held stories from far and near, and we considered them during the walk from the library to the street, across the street and up the sidewalk, where we parted company every day. Yesterday, I heard secondhand that a brain scan revealed no activity, which signaled the end of speculation. When I put on my coat in the afternoon, she had not asked, "Are you ready, m'dear?" and never would again. I walked to the curb and crossed the street without looking, and cried all the way home. What with all the not-looking, it's kind of a miracle I didn't get flattened by a semi.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

You'll Be My Day And Night

Time and again, I come back to the fez.

A hat either fits or does not fit on one's head, suits or does not suit one's style. I happen to love the fez, though I have no cultural attachment to it and it doesn't amplify my already ample beauty. Which is ample. For a party years ago, I cut up my hat to make a pattern. I then wrote instructions for a friend in Wisconsin whose access to paper fezzes was spotty at best. Some sacrifices must be made!

You and Your Paper Fez

You’ll need:
• One (1) red stencil.
• One (1) buttload. Sturdy red posterboard. 24” x 36”.
• One (1) pencil.
• One (1) pair. Scissors.
• One (1) bottle. Elmer’s Glue.
• One (1) box. Straight pins.
• One (1) bag. Wussy rubber bands.
• One (1) roll. Scotch tape.
• Optional: first aid kit, helpful pets.

Run with scissors. Spill glue. Draw on walls. Perforate fingers. Pre-disastered, you are now ready to begin.

1. Lay stencil on one sheet of posterboard. Trace with pencil. Now turn pencil over and use sharp lead side. If you are terribly clever (or an ordinary woman) you can fit three tracings per posterboard.
2. Carefully, use scissors to cut out your paper fez. Keep first aid kit handy.
3. Fold Part A toward Part B, stopping when A and B are perpendicular to each other.
4. Fold individual tabs to form right angles from Part A.
5. Lay Part A on floor such that tabs stick up like dead spider legs.
6. Gently bend Part B until ends meet and B forms a conic section. When it looks like an upside-down fez, glue matched ends together.
7. Immediately, pin together wet, gluey ends. Nothing fancy. Just pin like you’re torturing a voodoo doll.
8. Secure wet, gluey, pinned Part B with rubber bands. Let dry for 12 hours.
9. Re-glue when helpful pets discover snapping rolling pin cushion toys.
10. Tape tabs to inside of Part B. Remove pins and rubber bands. Garnish and serve.

This is obviously meant to be silly, though the fez has a very serious history. If you think back, you will remember mention of it in The Little Prince.

Grownups, you will recall, may be completely fooled by the appearances of things. In the story, a scientist presents a theory to a conference in traditional Turkish attire, complete with fez. Because the grownups can't see past his appearance, the scientist is dismissed out of hand. Then traditional attire is outlawed in Turkey. The scientist presents his theory again in Western costume and his theory is accepted. It is a triumph of form and an accident of function.

During the reign hi[sic] the Sultan Mahmud Khan II (1808-39), a European code of dress gradually replaced the traditional robes worn by members of the Ottoman court. The change in costume was soon emulated by the public and senior civil servants, followed by the members of the ruling intelligentsia and the emancipated classes throughout the Ottoman Empire. While European style coats and trousers were gradually adopted, this change did not extend to headwear. Peaked or broad brimmed headdresses such as the top hat did not meet the Islamic requirement that men should press their heads to the ground when praying. Accordingly the Sultan issued a firman (royal decree) that the checheya headgear in a modified form would become part of the formal attire of the Turkish Empire irrespective of his subjects' religious sects or millets.

In post-Ottoman Turkey, the fez was discouraged & ultimately banned under the leadership of the revered Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) through the Hat Law in 1925 & the Law Relating to Prohibited Garments in 1934.

This omits mention of the riots that ensued. It's just a hat, you see. Nothing serious until the shooting starts. I should tell you my co-worker has been out with a backache for a couple of weeks that was actually spinal meningitis, and two days ago her heart stopped. She is currently on life support and the doctors have advised her family they should pull the plug. I walked with her to our cars one Thursday afternoon, talking about our Thursday evening plans, and now we find ourselves bargaining with the snake. What do we see here, as children? As grownups? What is before our eyes?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It's A Big Enough Umbrella

Attention Sunday morning talking heads: this is how it's done.

That was last night. So what the fuck is with the Today Show this morning?

Monday, March 09, 2009

People Need Some Reason To Believe

Lovely Drusy days ago discovered the scarf Mom knitted for my birthday. Atop the mantle is Drusy's favorite perch, where the company of the ancient, carved bear with guitar does not deter our tiny friend from mewing at invisible companions. The scarf, a recent arrival, seems to comfort her. I cannot say why she might be distressed. She has the happiest life of anyone, human or otherwise, I've ever known. I have a collection of watches that stopped on my wrist because I'm quite magnetic. Drusy's favorite toy is an orange plastic watch with a tiny ball bearing game on its face. She steals it and drags it all over the house. Sometimes, we find it on our bed like a present. Sometimes, the watch rattles piteously in a far corner of the house. She is our queen; we are mere servants.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

And the Music's Breaking

Scott Horton:
The idea that the 9/11 attacks raised the prospect of domestic military operations “for the first time since the Civil War” is infantile nonsense.

Suddenly, all that duck and cover bullshit I remember makes more sense. I didn't imagine that! After the towers came down, I never bought for a moment that we faced an unprecedented threat. Dude, my fucking WOODEN DESK was supposed to protect me from nuclear holocaust, and I should be shaking in my shoes because four airliners killed a few thousand people? I'm no math genius but even I know my odds of being in the path of that disaster or another like it were truly close to fucking ZERO. But you know what I am afraid of? Avaricious, bed-wetting bureaucrats with dreams of goddamn empire and bloody-minded sychophantic lawyers to back 'em up.
Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.

In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., these were hypotheticals no more. They became real scenarios for which responsible civilian and military leaders had to plan. The possibility of such attacks raised difficult, fundamental questions of constitutional law, because they might require domestic military operations against an enemy for the first time since the Civil War. Could our armed forces monitor traffic in a city where terrorists were preparing to strike, search for cells using surveillance technology, or use force against a hijacked vessel or building? In these extraordinary circumstances, while our military put al Qaeda on the run, it was the duty of the government to plan for worst-case scenarios–even if, thankfully, those circumstances never materialized.

I'm sure I'm not the first to say this but fuck Yoo and the horse he rode in on. We kids imagined ourselves en flambe every single day of primary school; we were always conscious of where the air raid shelters were. I handled the idea that thousands of people were in the path of a terrorist attack thirty-five miles from my address without making myself the Center of the Universe and there was no need to eviscerate my civil liberties, thank you. There was never any need to arm airports and subway stations. There was no need to put cameras at every intersection, nor is there any need now for an Orwellian Department of Homeland Security. There was no need to torture anyone. So fuck him, now and forever. Fuck him. Yoo doesn't deserve the company of civilized human beings. He deserves the Rudolf Hess Spandau treatment, and he may get it, as Horton notes:
...I’m delighted that Yoo has published a piece discussing the circumstances in which he prepared the memo. Now I expect to hear no invocations of privilege when he is called to testify about it under oath.

Let the prosecutions begin.


Saturday, March 07, 2009

And All One of A Kind

After work at the family store, where I'm listening to enchanting salsa today, I'm dashing off to help Siobhan tidy up her Dad's house. He's being released from the local health facility after winning a 3 games out of five Battleship tourney with his mortality. How could I not want in on the Swiffer and Windex action?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

My Hands are Cold

Maybe I'm being a big silly but that little guy over there is an absolute mess - and I LOVE IT! He throws things everywhere. He's often covered with doggy snacks just when I want a treat. Oh, who am I kidding? I always want a treat! The cats and I were talking about him and we think he's just delicious, though they're holding out for herring. Anyway anyway anyway, we were all talking and we'd just like you to know that though right now he's eating a lot of macaroni we see progress. For instance, he's finally walking now. That took forever. I mean, I was born and started walking but with this guy it's different, but so he's walking now FINALLY. We think he might scoot a little faster if you feed him more Snausages. And rawhide treats. We all think so. Don't you agree?

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Don't Mean Maybe


Miss Sasha sent me two gigantic virtual piles of bucolic winter scenes, if one allows that children slathered in blue frosting might be considered landscapes. In one series, the dog romps in crisp, frozen snowdrifts with what at first appears to be a doll and turns out later to be a wild turkey that of late joined the Choir Invisible. I liked those pictures. It's a stern reminder that your dog is always grocery shopping.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Keys To Your Ferrari

It is sad that All My Children went to all the trouble of ginning up fans and foes of gay marriage with the Bianca & Reese storyline. Many of the right things were said, some truly, deeply wrong things were shouted, but the worst, the very worst thing about this storyline was that it traded in prejudice without acknowledging it. It's classic soap opera to have an engaged person fool around the night before the wedding. Let's get that out of the way. It's really low to assert, however, that lesbians are confused, promiscuous, lack self-awareness and shouldn't get married, which is the take-away lesson of the whole episode.

So AMC staged this wedding and immediately pulled the plug on the marriage, as if to say, "Don't be mad at us, God Botherers! Do you see a couple of lesbians making out on the couch? You must have imagined it." I just don't have the patience for that kind of immaturity and cowardice.

Maybe I need a break from my soap. I certainly need a break from any argument that lesbians are mythical creatures on the prowl for a hot man.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Wake Up And Smell the Cat Food

This is a picture of my mother, sort of. Of course, it's a photo of Elizabeth Taylor, whom my mother always resembled to a wacky degree except that Mom was a natural blond with lighter blue eyes. Picture that. Picture your mother being the blond version of Elizabeth Taylor, and picture men following your cart through the produce aisle. Picture what happens when the car breaks down and the tow truck arrives. Picture Mom not noticing because that's just how people act. Picture your Mom, young when you're born, bowling in black stirrup pants, mowing the lawn in a bikini, creating a stir at the PTA meeting with her mere presence. Your job: try not to develop a complex.

Friday afternoon, I was on a mission in the grocery store: to plan five or six menu items for a surprise party Saturday night. I walked slowly, recalculating each idea as I found or couldn't find ingredients. Three-quarters of the way through the aisles I was exhausted by the effort. I walked in circles until I found a hand of ginger I knew must be near shallots. At the register, I stood blankly while the cashier struggled with a large order complicated by food stamp regulations. The customer seemed used to matching items to the papers but I felt her watching me for signs of impatience or scorn so I studied the soap opera magazines with what shred of attention I still possessed. Finally, I was helping the very young boy packing my groceries into my canvas bags when I looked up and saw a tiny figure behind me in a black peacoat, a Greek fisherman's hat and black jeans.

"Hey," I said. "You're my mother." The cashier stops what she's doing and the boy struggles to bag 18 eggs. Mom says, "Why, yes I am," and goes on to explain her appearance which, if I'm honest, looks a little unusual. She says she's had migraine all day. That's news and I had two simultaneous reactions.

1. Shit, Mom had a migraine. I bet she feels bad; and:
2. Shit, Mom had a migraine, which means migraines are almost certainly in my future. Shit!

"You look like Comrade Gidget controls the means of production," I say.
"Why don't you stay to help your Mom?" the boy asks.
"Mom, do you need help?"
"No, I'm looking forward to getting a little exercise with the bags," she says brightly.
"Then I'm off like a prom dress," I say, and I am.