Tuesday, December 23, 2008
It has some features that I love. A lot. Love A Lot. I love that the address field functions as a search engine. The tabbing is AWESOME. You can drag a tab out of the window to create a new window. You don't have a home page. Instead when you launch the browser it takes you to a window with thumbnails of your most recently visited sites. I LOVE these things.
But it's SO buggy. Loading video often requires a restart of the shockwave process, which was a pain, but worth it.
Now, though, I have a real problem with Yahoo mail. It just will NOT load a message. I have to go to Firefox to check mail. Which means I have Firefox running at the same time as Chrome. Which defeats the purpose of the miraculous tabbing.
I got into this browser in an early stage and now regret it. I'm hooked on the features and irritated by the bugs. I don't want to give up the features in order to not live with the bugs. On the plus side, it's giving me a really good insight into what it's like to be one of our customers.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Laney, of course, loves it and demands repeated retellings. So over the past few years I've honed the story from something that began as just a less offensive version into something that is, even for a tree-hugging, lefty-liberal, vegetarian, atheist peacenik like myself, hilariously liberal. I mean, my Snow White is as Marxist as Rush Limbaugh pretends Obama is. It is, in short, a veritable parody of itself and amuses me to no end. I love it. I figured I'd better record it, since in a few years, Laney will stop wanting me to tell it. So, here goes:
Part the First: in which Snow White Gains Awareness of her World.
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful baby girl born who had hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood and skin as white as snow [that surprised you, didn't it? I stuck with the original script for the beginning]. But, oh wasn't it sad? Her Mommy died when she was born. Snow White's Daddy was the king of the land, but he wasn't a really good king. The only thing he loved to do was hunt. So, he spent all his time hunting, and all the kingdom's money on hunting equipment and left poor Snow White to raise herself.
So, Snow White took to wandering about the castle. On some days she'd hang out with the maids and they taught her to clean. For instance, you have to pick the picture frames up to dust and can't just dust around them. And as she helped the cleaning crew, they told her about their lives. They talked about their families and how they celebrated Christmas and how they were worried since there wasn't enough food in the land. The king forbade the commoners from hunting on his land. This made things difficult for the commoners.
And some days she hung out in the kitchen and the cooks taught her to cook. She learned how to make soup out of just vegetables since that's what the cooks used when they made soup at home. There was no meat for the commoners to eat. They told her more about their lives and how worried they were.
But her favorite person to hang out with was the Master of the Hunt, who was named Freddie and who was kind of dreamy. Freddie taught her to ride and how to love the animals on the earth.
One day the king noticed that Snow White was walking around, as neglected teenage girls often are, in a dress that was both too short and too tight. No one had taught Snow White that she needed to replace her dresses when they got too small. The king decided he'd better marry.
Coming tomorrow, Part the Second: In Which Snow White Meets Socialist Dwarves
And then I met my friend Maura who introduced me to the wonderful world of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Which I loved. By this point, I had tamped down my prediliction for boys in starched white shirts and had embraced my outer nerd to the point that I wanted a Star Fleet Academy bumper sticker for my car (Alas, I never got one... those dark days before the Internet. Also I didn't have a car).
Next month we'll finally come to the end of BSG, which is, in my limited experience, the best scifi I've yet encountered. Soon we'll all know that Helo is the 12th cylon (someone will have to buy me a coke if I'm right about that).
And then what will I do? I just finished Old Man's War and LOVED it. But I think I need a literary scifi mentor. Where do I go now? What will fill the gaping hole left behind by BSG? Whither the next intelligent, thought-provoking scifi for Megbon?
Really good scifi takes all your assumptions about the world you live in, turns them on their side and then makes you question all those assumptions. Which we should all do all the time anyway. What's out there that does all that AND spins a great yarn at the same time?
Is it Dune? Is it really? I went to that movie because Sting was in it. Are there better reasons?
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I tell the story all the time about how my Dad taught me to read. It's not a warm, fuzzy story. He used Clifford the Big Red Dog books. He determined how much I should read and then if I didn't get there, he wouldn't kiss me good night. Isn't that awful?
It's probably not true. I realized recently, that he probably did that once. One time. I was probably telling him I didn't want to read and being whiney about it. And he was probably tired and irritated and made a poor parenting choice. Or, shoot, maybe he was just kidding.
But, I'm willing to bet this wasn't something that happened repeatedly. I bet I've been hating poor Clifford for years no for no good reason.
Which, of course, makes me think of all the times I've gotten tired and lost my temper and made poor parenting choices. And it would just serve me right if Laney is well into the 30s before she realizes I wasn't always saying "Goddammit, Laney, we're LATE!" That only happened once.
Sigh. With that, I leave you with a little Philip Larkin. Ignore the third stanza. I think he exaggerates. Still, it's a good poem:
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Impeachment, as my girl Rachel said a few nights ago, can be cleansing. The legislature holds a trial, the evidence is presented and a decision is reached. They should be like any criminal case: deliberate, fair, and as dispassionate as possible.
In the interest of full disclosure: I voted for Blagojevich in the last election. And I voted for him because if I had to pick between two inherently corrupt parties in Illinois, I'm picking the democrat. I picked wrong. Although, it's fair to say, had the Republican won, she'd be replacing Barack Obama and she'd probably be picking some bullshit Illinois Republican. Illinos Republicans seem remarkably fuckwitted: when they couldn't get Ditka (DITKA!) to run against Obama, they picked Alan "gay marriage leads to incest" Keyes. Fuckwits.
We elected Rod Blagojevich. And the best way to get rid of him, if he won't resign, is impeachment: legal, deliberate and constitutional. By proceeding so, we'll end up with better democrats.
Our elected officials need to stop looking at office in Illinois like hors d'oevres. Impeaching one of them seems like a good way to get this done. It's not like we'll fall off the map if we have to live with one senator for a few months. He's a really good senator!
Buckle up and revisit the ride! You'll feel rage and pride and amusement and irritation and then, at the end, you may remember how good it felt on November 4th:
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It makes me wish I believe in hell. Even better, Angel's gypsy curse.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
This morning The Chicago Tribune was wall-to-wall Blagojevich coverage. My personal favorite was an OpEd column titled "Obama's My Pet Goat Moment", which makes the perfectly reasonable comparison that not commenting immediately on a state-level scandal IS just the same as reading a book to preschoolers while the country is attacked and 3000 Americans are killed.
I appreciate that the Trib is the paper of record on the scandal and, as such, has a responsibility to cover the shit out of it. But, I read the entire front section (the "news" section) today and there wasn't one story about that damn senate report.
I am not a professional journalist, so maybe I'm making more out of this senate report than I should be (note: I am NOT making more out of this senate report than I should be). The Tribune, like just about every other news organization in America, seems to have decided that their sole responsibility as powerful pillars of the fourth estate is "to give the people what they want."
The definition of insanity. Check it: when folks stop obsessing over Blagojevich, there will be some intrepid blogger talking about what we ought to be doing about the various and damning criminal activities perpetrated during the Bush years by the Bush administration. And the folks who read the newspaper when there isn't a fat, juicy scandal du jour (folks like me) will be reading those blogs instead of the newspaper, and wondering if the comics and crossword are really worth $35 a month. And somewhere a "real" reporter will be complaining about the damn bloggers and their responsibility for the demise of print journalism.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of “a few bad apples” acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees. Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.
Read that again. Read it a few times. Let that really sink in.
There was a lot to be ashamed of during the Bush years, the cynical, political, amoral Bush years. But of all this, the fact that we became a nation that tortures stands in relief as the single most damning, shaming thing that Bush criminals committed in our names. And we've collectively ignored it.
I stand by my contention of a few days ago:
I really believe that if mainstream media (front page, evening news kind of stuff) reported on torture like professional journalists instead of like a bunch of fucking retards then we'd care about this more.
Our national media is so busy obsessing over finding SOME (PLEASE DEAR GOD, THERE'S GOT TO BE SOMETHING) tie from Obama to Blagojevich, that they ignore this, just as they have for the past six years. Forget about making me want to bang my head against the wall. It makes it really hard to keep the contents of my stomach intact.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Today was very very cold. On cold days like this, the lake turns this very particular color. It's so blue. So pretty.
Today, we were driving home from school and the car was warm and it was so pretty outside and Patty Loveless was singing "Joy to the World" and I felt like the song. I felt joyful. And my thoughts turned to my father, who died five years ago.
There's a Mike Doughty lyric that goes "the only way to beat it is to bat it down." That lyric got me through years of thinking of my father. When I got to feeling like it was just so goddamn motherfucking unfair that he wasn't around to play with my daughter or to boozily quote Houseman with me at Christmas parties, I'd just bat it down. That lyric was a mantra. I bat it down and bat it down and batted it down some more.
But it's been five years now and it occurred to me that maybe it's time to stop batting it down. To recognize that every joyful moment in life (and there are so many) is colored by, is weighted down with loss. So, I cried and cried and cried.
But I was glad to cry and cry and cry. It felt really good to not be batting it down.
Funny that, huh?
Great metaphor, right? I think of it whenever I watch Keith Olbermann. I love Keith Olbermann. I love his show. I love how he made it OK to march out of lockstep with the Bushies. Despite all that, he strikes me as the kind of guy I'd change bar stools to avoid.
Today I was reading Andrew Sullivan, whose blog I quite like. It hit me, I'd probably change barstools to avoid him too.
It goes without saying that not only would I save a barstool for Rachel Maddow. I'd put my purse on it and shoot death rays at anyone eyeballing it while I was waiting for her.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
While I was there, I decided to have a key made, since we needed a key. There were two guys at the key kiosk, a middle-aged white dude and a slightly younger Latino dude. The following conversation took place:
Megbon: Can one of you guys make me a key?
White dude [smiling and cheery]: I can't, but I bet he can. Can you make us a key?
Latino dude [also smiling and cheery, and heavily accented]: I won't do it to you, but I can do it to her
White dude [laughing]: FOR her. Not TO her. FOR her.
And they cracked up.
Just to be clear, these guys weren't being gross. They were flirting a little, but in a totally non-threatening way. And in the course of their non-threatening, filled with Christmas-cheer kind of flirting, the Latino guy stumbled into a pretty hilarious malapropism.
But, there I stood, in the aisles of the Home Depot and, y'all, I BLUSHED! I stood there with my Christmas ornaments in my almost 40-year-old arms and I BLUSHED!
I'm beginning to despair of ever growing up.
Anyway, the song is gorgeous and sexy and makes me feel all soft and gushy when I hear it. You?
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I think that in the West sometimes blogging is an excuse for sitting back and just commenting on life as it passes by and putting out your opinions on what is happening.
As far as I know about Christiane Amanpour (which is, frankly, mostly gleaned from the Gilmore Girls), she's got some serious journalistic chops. That said, there she is, like so many people in her profession, casting blame for the current state of print media outward instead of taking a good hard look inward. Maybe I can help her out a little...
1n 1998, we were bombing Iraq and India was testing nukes. And what did you read about: Monica Lewinsky and her blue dress. In fucking technicolor.
In 2000, we learned that Al Gore was a smug asshole who claimed he invented the internet. Except, of course, he didn't.
In 2002, a Canadian citizen is shipped off to Syria to be tortured for a year. For no reason. By Americans. Did you guys see that story on the front page of a major American daily? Funny, me neither.
In 2003, George Bush lied and lied and lied some more. And then he told some more lies. And many (if not most) of these lies were easily disprovable. And then we went to war in Iraq and 4000 Americans were killed.
In 2004, John Kerry was an effete asshole who said things like "Who among us does not like Nascar." Except, of course, he didn't.
In 2007, George Bush lies about torture.
[An aside: I really believe that if mainstream media (front page, evening news kind of stuff) reported on torture like professional journalists instead of like a bunch of fucking retards then we'd care about this more. I refuse to accept that we as a nation are so morally bankrupt that we condone torture. It's hard enough to accept that we're morally bankrupt enough to pretend it doesn't exist.]
In 2008, John McCain is a mavericky maverick who mavericks. Whatever.
Traditional media capitulated, again and again, their responsibilities as the fourth estate, while citizen journalists picked up the slack. And yet, it's the lazy bloggers who are at fault for the demise of news dailies.
I am exactly as Christiane Amanpour says. I do sit back and comment on life as it passes me by. But I ain't trying to be Glenn Greenwald or Josh Marshall (both of whom do more real reporting than anyone writing for the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times) But, even my lazy, pajama-wearing self knows that if everyone in the room is running away from me, chances are I have something to do with that.
Laney: Ring Ring
Mommy: Who is this?
Laney: It's SARAH PALIN!!!!!!!! [commences hysterical laughter]
Kid knows how to get me.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
Growing up, it wasn't officially Christmas until my mother warned us: "Look, it's going to have to be a lean Christmas this year." She said it every year from my way early youth well into my 20s.
But our Christmases were never lean. Nor were they particularly excessive. They were pretty good. I remember them as being full of wine and good food and getting dressed up and eagerly waiting for someone to open the present I got them
Nowadays, the annual dire pronouncements about Christmas from my mother have been replaced by the equally dire, equally annual media glut of warnings against the excess of Christmas. In one my parenting magazines, there was actually a suggestion about giving your children "hug coupons" for Christmas. Hug coupons! God.
I love Christmas. I love the lights and the music. Yesterday we hung Christmas bulbs on the leafless trees in front of our house, and I swear it's just the most cheerful thing in the world. Christmas is cheery. I get as giddy as a kid thinking about the present I found for Don. I can't WAIT to see the look on Laney's face when she walks downstairs on Christmas morning. Shoot, y'all, the expression "kid on Christmas" resonates for a reason.
Like a voice in the wilderness, I'm speaking out in favor of a little excess.
We spend the year aiming for abstemiousness. We practice the virtue of self-denial. Why not a few days, once a year, when we enjoy going a little overboard, drinking too much, eating too much, buying presents that people don't need, but will love to have.
Getting, as I like to say, a little Fezziwig!
Are you all starting to get the holiday glow? I am!
Friday, December 5, 2008
So, a break:
I was thinking as I watched Rachel Maddow and cleaned things up that LaneyBon is sure to rebel in some way as she grows up. I've already narrowed down the three things she could cleave unto that would break my heart. To wit:
- Republican (obviously)
- Born again Christian
- White Sox fan.
But as I dusted and vacuumed I got to thinking.
- I love a LOT of White Sox fans. I mean, they make me crazy. But it's an affectionate sort of crazy. Besides, Barack Obama is a White Sox fan. So, that's not really so bad (Donbon would probably disagree).
- I also love a lot of Christians. And being a Christian isn't synonymous with being a dogmatic asshole. It's just that a lot of dogmatic assholes have seized the spotlight. So, maybe that wouldn't be so bad.
- Which leaves me with the biggie: Republican. But, think about it: with all due apologies (none are due) to jackholes like Bill Kristol, the 2008 presidential election portended the end of the Republican Party as it exists now. George Bush fucked up the country so badly that along with a good chunk of my 401K, he also killed identity politics. To which I can only say, smell ya later. So, by the time Laney is ready to rebel, who knows what the Republican party will be like? I think that better or worse, there's a good chance that Bill O'Reilly will be off-air and reduced to blogging (poor sap) by then.
Which leaves only one possibility: I have NO idea what form the rebellion (if any) will take.
And that's the scariest option of all.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I spend a lot of time behind the wheel of a car. When I'm on my own, I love to listen to books on tape. Well, a book on tape: Middlemarch. For some strange reason, no one wants to listen to Middlemarch with me in the car! What is UP with that?
So for our recent trip to the O.B., I bought The Wordy Shipmates from iTunes (even though I'm becoming more and more certain that Apple is eeeeevvvviiilllll). This, I thought, would appeal equally to me and my history-loving hubby.
I loved it more. But I love Sarah Vowell. I love how meticulously researched and organized her books are at the same she maintains this off-the-cuff, breezy narrative (which is SO hard to do). I love the way she really gets to know the people she writes about, and forms thoughtful opinions about them. For example, I know she doesn't much like Roger Williams - but she loves him. I love the way she uses Happy Days to illuminate how our preconceptions about history reflect our own present. Seriously. I LOVE that.
Can you imagine what history lessons would have been like in high school if you'd learned about the Puritans from Sarah Vowell instead of some text book?
I'm a senior in high school. I'm in IB (advanced) history. Our teacher decides to show off a little by reciting the preamble to the Constitution. She ends with "... and for our prosperity." A girl says, "Um, it says 'posterity' here." The teacher says "Oh. They must have changed it." Seriously.
And even had my history teacher been competent, I bet she wouldn't have used Sarah Vowell in 1987 (mostly because Sarah Vowell was in her own senior history class in 1987).
Anyhoo - the point of all this: I love Sarah Vowell.
I call it: Oh, Beyonce, whither thou feminism?
Did you watch? What a sad, sad sexist idea in that super catchy song. It sounds like marriage is something men give women so that women will give them exclusive control over their bodies. And it's sad because in that equation he's begrudging about being married and she's begrudging about doin' it. And doin' it is fun! And being married can be a drag for her as well as him (I speak as a big fan of marriage, enjoying a happy one even as I write, but there are days... I mean, WHY can't he ever pick up his damn shoes at the end of the day? WHY?!?!)
On second thought, perhaps I've misinterpreted the whole song. When she says "If you liked it you should have put a ring on it" perhaps she's talking about her ass. Shoot, maybe she's talking about some other private ladybits. Is it possible that Beyonce is just heavily into obscured piercings and the fella of whom she speaks has a prudish aversion to them?
Regardless, now I have LL Cool J on the mind (as so often I do... I've had a crush on LL for almost as long as I've had a crush on Sting). Fortunately, LL doesn't have the same aversion to embedding that Beyonce does:
I was prepared to disagree with him because, as I've made clear, this is the greatest video ever made.
However, upon watching, I think Atrios may have a point. I can't decide. What do you guys think?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
If you're a Christian who's been offended by some lack of respect aimed at your faith, I have one thing to say: grow up and get over it. We just came through a two year election in which the word Muslim was used as politically correct code for "terrorist" and where the word "atheist" was hurled around with a level of invective normally reserved for "pedophile."
If you're a Christian in America, you're a member of the least discriminated-against group in America.
Honestly, you come off like spoiled two year olds, red-faced and crying because you can't have ALL the toys in the playroom.
To wit: I prefer Picard to Kirk, but recognize this as a matter of opinion rather than fact. The best three Star Trek movies are (in order) VI, II, IV; this is a matter of empirical fact and NOT opinion. Picard is the captain of NCC1701-D (I used to be able to tell you what happened to A-C, but I don't think I could do that without googling). The Enterprise is powered by Dilithium Crystals. I once broke up with a guy because he called me during the series finale of TNG. And he called JUST TO CHAT. I mean, priorities? God.
I wish I could embed this video, but Apple (who are waaaaaay eviller than Google) want me to buy something quicktimey before I can embed. So you'll just have to suffer click here to watch it. Do. It's AWESOME!
For a woman dripping in scornful skepticism like myself, though, I am remarkably susceptible to feeling a failure because things in my own life are not working out like they do on sitcoms. For example, I am surprised that I don't see my friends as much post-Laney as I did pre-Laney. Rachel, after all, could be found at Central Perk as often post-Emma as she could pre-Emma! And, why don't I have more money? I mean, folks on TV are all the time complaining about how little money they have, but they wear such nice clothes!
The worst, though, are the eating habits of the Modern TV Comedienne. This is especially evidenced in my two favorite Modern TV Comic Female Characters: Lorelei Gilmore and Liz Lemon. I actually believe that it is some kind of moral failing on my part that I can't eat pizza for dinner every night and have an ass like Lorelei. Liz Lemon evidently eats nothing but sandwiches and still rocks a size 2. Obviously, if I were funnier, I could eat like them and be that thin. Right? That's got to be it.
Great - now I'm hungry.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Rachel Maddow is a goddess.
Here's Chris Matthews being awesome:
All that being said, John Oliver blew me away last night. I thought this was really amazing:
Monday, December 1, 2008
I just did a google image search for to post a picture of the new cabinet. You guys should try it... there are some racist and paranoid motherfuckers out there!
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
You guys are impressed, right? Those are some HARD books! This ain't exactly Carl Hiassen*, is it?
Check it out, though: while, I love these books because they are so rewarding (I'm convinced that there's more to learn about living in the pages of Middlemarch than in all the religious tomes and self-help books in the world. Including Ecclesiastes. And I'm a fan of Ecclesiastes), but these books are also entertaining as hell. Middlemarch is freaking hilarious (poor George Eliot, no one gives her credit for funny). Pip is a hoot to read about.
EDITED TO NOTE: At this point, I meant to say something about how I have to talk myself into reading these books. I always forget about the rewarding and funny and entertaining bits and always remember the hard parts. RETURNING TO ORIGINAL POST
I've been watching The Wire over the past couple of years. I'm almost through season four. And, much like those works of great literature, I find I have to persuade myself to sit down and watch The Wire. Because it's hard!
That said, I could wax rhapsodic for hours about the performances and the writing and the heart-breaking reality of it all. And, above all else, the entertaininess of it! Come on, y'all, has there ever been a character more compelling and appealing than Omar Little? Tony Soprano has NOTHIN' on him.
But, to the point of this rambly post: if I told you I read for leisure, I imagine most people would assume something worthwhile. For some reason, people don't leap to dog-eared copies of VC Andrews novels when they hear people read for leisure. But if you say like to watch TV, people do immediately imagine slack-jawed chuckling at the horny antics of Charlie Sheen.
Television (much like rap music) is often judged by its worst example. All TV is not Two and a Half Men or COPS. Some TV is really really really good. The medium affords a story-telling arc unrivaled by any other art form. Not even really great novels. I cannot imagine a novel or a movie being able to create a world as fully realized as the world of The Wire. Man, you all should watch that show.
* By the way, I really love Carl Hiassen novels too
Monday, November 24, 2008
...I am aware of where we get our food. However, reading about slaughtering, as in the Chicago Tribune Magazine ("The Caring Carnivore," Sept 21), was a bit much on a Sunday a.m. reading. To the folks who do the slaughtering - no easy job- thank you. However, when it gets right down to it, I don't want to read about it.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican ethos in a nutshell: she resents being exposed to the cost of something she feels entitled to, she entirely misses the point of the article in question, and is too stupid to realize she could have simply stopped reading.
On another note, I thought the article that was "too much" for Judy was really wonderful. I know I am a tree hugging vegetarian and all that - but the writer, Monica Eng is a meat eater. If you have the time, check it out.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I wish. That would be great. But I doubt it.
But, like I say, these thoughts bounce around inside my head and if I don't force myself to address and examine them in SOME way, I am led towards bad behavior. And by this I don't mean drinking and smoking (I'll find my ways to those no matter how expressive I am). I mean I get judgey as a motherfucker.
Before this blog, I had several abortive attempts at journaling. Ain't I sensitive? But keeping a journal is a tricky business - I mean, who are you writing for? You can just blather on indiscriminately and, unless you're Ann Rice or TS Eliot (yeah, I just put them in the same sentence) no one will ever read it. And so that's what I did in my journals: I blathered on indiscriminately.
But with a blog, even if no one is reading it, there's a chance someone will. So it forces me to organize my thoughts... at least a bit. It's a discipline and a therapy, and I've grown to depend on it a little.
So irrespective of its popularity - this little blog is what I use to exhume all sorts of thoughts and put them up against an imaginary arguer. I find that since I've started this, I'm calmer and less inclined to judgmental asshattery.
So, I got that going for me.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm lobbying hard for my awesome friend Jessica to return to Chicago having found a man who deserves her (which is HIGH praise indeed). I just put the following to her in a comment on Facebook and like what I said (probably due to the fatigue + three glasses of wine) enough to want to blog it:
Today I was driving Laney home from girl scouts at what my mother (by way of TS Eliot) calls the violet hour; that time right before twilight. I was sitting at a light about to get on Lake Shore. The lake was just a slightly different blue than the sky so you kind of had to guess at the horizon. The ferris wheel on Navy Pier had just lit up. You know, I've enjoyed a glass of good wine at sunset looking at The Eiffel Tower and that was awesome. But it was less beautiful than the lit up ferris wheel on Navy Pier fronting the lake and the sky on a crisp fall day. I've lived here 20 straight years and Chicago continues to take my breath away at the most random times with its beauty. The shitty horrible cold winters (and they are shitty and horrible) are infinitely worth it.
I've been reading Laney SkippyJon Jones books lately which are AWESOME! I tell you, you have not lived until you've found yourself snuggled up with a five year old saying "Hola Muchachitas" in giggly unison.
Some thoughts at storytime:
1. I have a lot of books I read to Laney where I find myself slipping back into a southern accent. When I get back in that southern accent it feels like the most natural way to speak - way more natural than my normal midwestern flat accentless accent. If you change your accent (especially on purpose like I did), I wonder if it just gets harder to be yourself in general.
2. Regardless of your accent, what's up with American English? I read the words "puddle" and "bottle" with the same second syllable. And pronouncing the "t" in "bottle" sounds unbelievable pretentious in American. Crazy, huh?
3. Tonight before SkippyJon, we did a little Curious George. At one point George finds himself in a museum surrounded by stuffed animals on display. Laney grabs my arm and says "I know what they are! Animalkins!" Now, I'm thinking she's doing some kind of riff on Webkinz. But, instead, she tells me that mannequins are fake men, so these are fake animals so they're animal-quins. Come on, y'all, how great is that? Animalquins. I love it.
4. If I ever get my rock and roll band started, I think we'll be called Animalquins.
I like it. I like this mix of Obama the young guy with fresh ideas surrounding himself with these old guard folks who really know their way around Washington. It makes me feel like he's serious about making change and knows that he needs some seriously skillful politicians around to help him do the work.
I've read some complaints that appointing Hillary, for example, is a poor choice since her foreign policy is different than his. But isn't Hillary's job to effect Obama's foreign policy rather than to implement her own? And Hillary, as Tina Fey famously said, gets stuff done.
I like it. I think this administration is going to get stuff done.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Parker has been syndicated in the Trib for years. Long before she got her job at the Washington Post, I was reading her. It was Kathleen Parker, as a matter of fact, that brought me to my most famous (in my own mind) axiom: it's OK to be an asshole if you're not stupid. And it's OK to be stupid if you're not an asshole. It is never OK to be a stupid asshole. Guess which of these I think Kathleen Parker is?
A column in which she avers that gay people who want kids do so out of profound narcissism because:
As long as children are viewed as mere extensions of our selves, put here to satisfy some narcissistic need for self-actualization, it is easy to suppose that our needs and their needs are complementary.
She leaves as understood why it's different for straight people.
Another column in which she said the main reason for opposing Intelligent Design as a school subject is because:
Atheists, secularists and others whose aversion to religion sometimes borders on fanaticism — there's no dogma like no dogma — see in Bush's remark a subversive move toward replacing Darwin's theory of evolution with a creationist view of man's origin.
It's got nothing to do with how Intelligent Design is NOT science.
And my all time favorite, low-brow pop culture is responsible for Abu Ghraib:
The images from Abu Ghraib, now irreversibly tattooed on the Arab brain, were every frat-house cliche magnified. The human pyramid, males mooning, masturbation, bags over heads. What we saw, at least in part, was "The Farrelly Brothers Do Baghdad."
Oh, also if you're reading this and you voted for Barack Obama, Kathleen Parker says you probably did it because you're a big fat narcissist.
If we want to talk about a conservative speaking the truth about the Republican Party, I can think of a WAY better example than Kathleen Fucking Parker.
****Edited to add: The reason those of us on the left should be leery of extolling Kathleen Parker is because once she's done basking in her newfound credibility, she WILL start writing about gay marriage and adoption by gay couples and intelligent design and the American Assault on Masculinity again. Either she is a credible source for those of us on the left, or she isn't. She isn't.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Do you all remember those righteous feminist singers from the 90s, Salt 'n' Pepa? Do you remember how they were going to go out, get laid, do it on their terms, and if you didn't like it, well, too bad:
If I wanna take a guy
Home with me tonight
It's none of your business
If she wanna be a freak and
Sell it on the weekend
It's none of your business
Where are their god-daughters?
I think it probably started about ten years ago with Poor Britney (in my world, she is always Poor Britney). Poor Britney's mother let her make a video in which she vamped around in a slutty school girl outfit, moaning and writhing. But, she swore to her own virginity again and again. Youthful sexuality, in other words, was co-opted and fetishized by, corporate media.
Here's my theory in a nutshell: the hardest thing about being a young woman or a girl is that it is implied in nearly every societal aspect that you are in charge of the sex that happens. In the natural order of things, boys are led around by their dicks and girls keep them in check. The girl's number two job, by the way, is to be sexy for the boys.
So back when I was one of those young women, it was inspiring and empowering to see these hot women talking about doing it and doing it because they wanted to NOT because some guy talked them into it. Do young women have those kinds of role models now? Or is it always crap like Katy Perry kissing a girl, which I'd like to rename "I Kissed a Girl Because the Straight Boys Think That's Hot"
We seem to be regressing into a pop culture in which female sexuality is defined by the boys. That sucks. I blame George Bush (why not)? Here's a little Salt 'n' Pepa:
Monday, November 17, 2008
I mean, probably when people use it, they don't mean to be mean-girl smug. It's like when someone changes lanes too closely in front of you. The assholery is probably unintended. Yet, it is there.
In short – rent it.
So, Role Models dismissed and done with – allow me to move onto the trailer for the latest Kate Hudson/Ann Hathaway vehicle: Bride Wars. The plot, in a nutshell: two women, friends since childhood, have shared a lifelong dream of a Plaza wedding. It appears, in fact, as though their entire friendship is predicated on this shared dream. Once fiancés are acquired (fiancés being de rigeur for the Plaza wedding), they blissfully book a couple of Saturdays at the dream venue and begin planning. Plot contrivance ensues and only one of them can have The Plaza. So, they both go completely apeshit and start acting horribly to one another, but horrible in a super funny way, I'm sure.
Now, let's just take as understood that at the end of this movie the young women will realize that their friendship is more important than a wedding venue, blah-de-blah blah moral-of-the-story cakes. But until that mandatory realization, the movie will exploit the tired, sexist trope of women and their weddings; to wit: we are shallow and silly. Until we're not.
Kate Hudson should know better. Her mother should have told her. And, Anne Hathaway should know better. She seems strikes me as a bright, sensitive young woman on her own merits. So, WHY are they making this execrable movie? And, while I'm shouting questions down the well, WHY does Kate Hudson seem so determined to flush all her Almost Famous goodwill down the drain? And WHY is she sporting a haircut that makes her look about 20 years older than she is? WHY?!?!
Friday, November 14, 2008
First the personal. I was reading one of my favorite bloggers, a brilliant, hilarious guy. A blogger with a proud sense of decency. And I came across a post in which he lets loose with heaving amounts of vitriol ostensibly directed at Disney (which I can get behind) but really against People Who Are Not New Yorkers. To wit:
I had noticed the three slightly mousy middle-aged women decked out in full Dress Barn gear discreetly craning their necks in our direction since we first sat down.
Ah, you can strive to be as supercilious a non-native New Yorker, but you will fail (unless you're French... the French are good at it)
A few days later, I engaged in a wee bit of Facebook back and forth with a couple of (I assume) non-native New Yorkers which resulted in me learning that there are lots of cool places in New York, but New Yorkers don't take tourists there. Translation: we are the coolest city in the world, but you'll have to take our word for it because we do not descend among the great unwashed (AKA: midwesterners).
Now let's imagine you're waiting for luggage at O'Hare (and, trust me, if you've checked a bag, you will be WAITING for your luggage at O'Hare). You may ask the man next to you about some fun things to do at night in Chicago. As you wait for your luggage (and wait and wait and wait) you'll notice that every resident of the city will begin chiming in. You should go HERE for pizza! Now, they should go THERE! Goodman totally rocks. Steppenwolf is better. Check out The Bean! Oh, you gotta do the architecture tour. And, above all else, Drink All Night.
Due to our civic Jan syndrome, we are eager to show you how awesome our city is. We WANT you to go back to Battle Creek and tell your friends how great Chicago is (and, like, way better than New York, guys!).
(And, not for nothing, didn't we look good on November 4th?
New York is a great city. It's an exciting city. Tina Fey broadcasts out of there. Jon Stewart is there. That said, look out, New York. We'll tell you where the good restaurants are and won't make fun of your clothes. And if Oprah's there? We'll all gawk together!
Then she said "Could I marry Madison?"
And I said no, since they were too young.
Then she asked if she could marry Ginger (the dog).
And I said she couldn't marry an animal, and besides she's still too young to get married.
Then an entirely complicated hypothetical arose in which she and Madison were grown up and Madison was married to someone else and could she then get married to Madison.
And then it hit me: she was articulating the main talking point of the anti-gay marriage adult. If you allow gay marriage, then all bets are off: marrying children, marrying animals, polygamy! Oh my.
But the thing is, Laney is FIVE! The concept of what marriage is; the fullness of it, its rewards and complications, are beyond her ken and will be for some time. But I'm willing to bet the mortgage payment that at some point today, on Fox News, there was a 45 year old posing the exact same hypotheticals Laney was making in the car today.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The problem is that I'm a child of the 80s...
But, I've had some caffeine and am over my pity party. As the hopefully soon to be senator from Minnesota would say: it's all just stinkin' thinkin'. I am the mother of a happy, healthy little girl. And it behooves no one to wallow in worry.
John McCain has few supporters in Pennsylvania.
John McCain has a few supporters in Pennsylvania.
One little article. Weird, huh?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
But it never gets easier. It only gets harder.
Parenting is an awesome responsibility. It's the greatest thing I've ever done. It's hard. Lately, it seems like every day I find myself thinking, "Oh, if she could only see herself the way I see her! If she only knew how beautiful and smart she is!" And when she doesn't, it feels like I'm not doing my job like I ought to.
She's got a little confidence issue right now. And most of me believes this is just a phase, like so much of growing up is. But, there's a chunk of Laney's life I know nothing about. And her DNA is a total mystery. I doubt that will ever go away. It'll always sit there in the background: the great enigma of her existence. Even though I know every parent is surprised by the person their children become. This worry, I suspect, is hardly unique to adoptive parents.
It's worrisome. It's hard. It's still the greatest thing I've ever done. But there are days when I feel like my heart will burst with wanting for her; with wanting a better world for her, with wanting comfort for her, with wanting confidence for her, with wanting her life to be everything she wants it to be.
I'm just so grateful for her and I want so much to earn her presence in my life. Another thing I suspect is hardly unique to adoptive parents. Still, it's hard. And the greatest thing I've ever done.
... because if you did, you'd know (like me) that Tony Dow (AKA Wally Cleaver) has a sculpture showing at the Louvre.
I think it's probably only fair to mention that even though Tony Dow is like 25 years older than me, I still thought Wally Cleaver was awful cute.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Friends started in 1994. So, let's put it in context - it's an old show: it is to today's high schoolers what Good Times was to me. Which is ... jarring.
But these old TV shows can serve as time capsules for us. The world changes subtly, in ways we don't notice. So looking back at a timely fiction and you'll probably get a better idea of how the world was when it was that world.
One thing that's struck me again and again watching these old episodes is how many jokes are of the homophobic variety. Joey and Chandler hug too much. Chandler doesn't understand sports. Etc. The show talked a good game about tolerance, but it treated homosexuality (male) as icky (to use Phoebe parlance).
Fortunately, that particular comedy trope is dead. For evidence, see the returns on any Adam Sandler movie post 2000. Despite the abhorrent votes in California and Arkansas, I really think we're getting closer and closer.
Of course, as I've said before, there's still plenty of homophobia in America (although I did read in a Trib Op Ed today that racism is done which I'd be all "Yay" about except the columnist is a dumbass). But I expect when my daughter is a grown woman, she'll be gobsmacked that the world was ever like this.
I amused myself by writing haiku.
A budget meeting
Eight employees fade in and out
Arms crossed, eyes akimbo
Distant, the people who dialed in
Oops! My bra is showing
Bladder becomes full
Powerpoint slides become blurry
Will to live depletes
His tone monotone
Long pauses punctuating
Shit! My bra still shows
Next year, I'm going to fake a head injury or something. Stomach cramp. Bleeding from the ears. SARS. Existential dilemma. Suicidal tendency. Tourette's. I dunno. Something.
Monday, November 10, 2008
(As example, I recommend you check out Kim du Toit's The Pussification of the Western Male.)
Consider the beer commercial: for years now beer commercials have been celebrating guy-ness, but guy-ness strictly defined as that which is not girl-ness. You can be bald, short, homeless and retarded and you'll still get invited to the cool kids party. But cry at a movie and you might as well put a bullet in your faggy chest.
Until this morning. I was driving to work and a beer commercial came on the radio. This beer commercial, like so many others, rewards the real guy with the real guy beer. But in this ad, real guy-ness is demonstrated when he helps his buddy haul a fridge upstairs.
In other words: manning up instead of freaking out about looking like a pussy.
I love that.
I don't want to go getting all brave new world here. But, think of Barack Obama. Does anything about that guy suggest a person who worries about whether people perceive him as manly or not? If you called Barack Obama a "fag" do you think he'd care? Do you expect we'll ever see him on a flight deck wearing a motherfucking codpiece? As Tweety might say, he's a real man. And real men don't need to prove to you that they're real men. They're too busy manning up and helping you move the goddamn fridge.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I'm going to try to stop believing in things just because I want them to be true.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
That's all I'm saying.
Oy, I drank a lot last night. I high-fived a lot of strangers. I called my brother and yelled into his voicemail. It was awesome. In the end, I'm still not quite believing that we won. But we did. Really.
A couple of thoughts:
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
To indicate how differently time passes as an adult, I present the Advent Wreath. For the four Sundays before Christmas, a different candle is lit. Nowadays, the four weeks before Christmas pass by in a flash. But when I was a kid, it took for-fucking-ever to get those damn candles lit. The wreath taunted you, tantalized you. Christmas was getting closer... but it took SO long.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
In the early aughties I found myself in beautiful, historic York for a work trip. The number of per capita drinking establishments in York makes Chicago look like Carrie Nation's wet dream. It's awesome. Every night after work, I'd hit the pubs with my British colleagues. The first night, someone made a joke about Americans having a world series with only one country in it. Uproarious laughter among the Brits. I responded (amusing no one but myself) that, to be fair, sometimes there are two countries in the World Series.
The next night someone made the same joke. And the next. And the next. And each time, the Brit making the joke was sure he was the first one to goof on an American with it. The more it was repeated, the less of its already limited punch it had.
"Look, English people," I thought, "I'm neither embarrassed or humiliated on behalf of my country (well, for the World Series thing anyway). But your eager recitals of the same joke are kind of adorable."
Which brings me to the carnivore thing: Over the past 10 years of my vegetarianism, I've been greeted with the "you probably need protein" joke a million times. Usually it comes in some variation of "you don't like meat because you need protein." And hilarity ensues. It's like the World Series joke, with legumes standing in for Canada (probably not for the first time). The jokester amuses like-minded people without having any particular effect on the person he aims to disparage. Which is fine, it's just not particularly clever.
I thought carnivores and English people should know. You're welcome.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Don and I are no spring chickens, but I think we both still get geeked up for voting. It's always surprised me that there are people for whom voting is an obligation. Nothing makes me love my country more, feel more patriotic, then going into a voting booth and casting my vote. Plus: donuts!
My Laney is going to feel good about voting. We're making it something fun.
All that said, I wish we'd done more. We didn't phone bank or knock on doors (go, Janine!). I never even got around to sending my damn postcards. I gave money, and worked to encourage people I know who were on the fence. But I should have done more. If McCain pulls this out I'll feel enormous responsibility.
And Rachel Maddow is on my TV, showing how it's done - showing how you can still hold the feet of the candidate you support to the fire (with Barack showing how you politic with your feet to the fire). And she thinks this thing is far from wrapped up. She's brilliant. God, I hope she's wrong on this one, though.