Monday, January 26, 2009

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

One of the many great things about being a parent is getting to revisit the books you loved when you were a kid. Laney is at an age now where she likes chapter books and doesn't require pictures. So, of late, we've been reading Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

To the uninitiated, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a lady who lives in an upside down house and has much child-rearing wisdom. When their kids are out of control and exhibiting unacceptable behavior, the 1950s Moms call up Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and she mentors them through various cures. Like "The Won't Pick Up Toys Cure" or "The Answer Backer Cure."She's sort of a folksy, fictional, fifties Jo Frost.

Tonight we were reading the "Selfishness Cure," in which a little boy named Dick is cured by having all his things labeled "Dick's Whatever: Don't Touch." Towards the end of the chapter, all the other children are jeering and mocking him (this is how you got cured of unacceptable behavior in the 50s). And this is the paragraph I read to Laney:

Dick's- don't touch! Don't touch Dick! Dick's- don't touch! Don't touch Dick!

Try it. Read it aloud. Imagine reading that aloud to your beautiful, innocent five year old daughter. Folks, I don't think Laney has ever heard me laugh like that. Heaving, can't catch your breath, red-faced guffaws. And Laney is lying next to me, laughing too, but also repeatedly asking "What?!"

I'll tell her when she's older. Don't touch dick.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Oh No...

So, I was having some lunch today over at a friend's house, who has a daughter about Laney's age. Laney and her daughter, Chloe, have the following exchange:

Chloe: ...and then she throwed it on the floor!
Laney: Don't say "throwed" say THREW! THROWED ISN'T A WORD!!!!

And I thought, "Oh, lordy, my child is inheriting my asshole grammar police tendencies. Perhaps I should attempt to circumvent this by stifling by own asshole grammar policing?"

Nah. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly. I gotta be me. To wit: "asshole" is not really an adjective, but I will allow myself a little poetic license as its adjectival usage effectively enhances intent. I let myself off with a warning.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gitmo - Goodbye

Guantanamo Bay, more than Mission Accomplished or smashed levees, is to me most emblematic of the Bush Administration. Gitmo is what brought us Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition and black sites and torture. It all comes when you suspend habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is, in short, the right of every imprisoned person to seek relief from their imprisonment. This is not an American thing. Habeas corpus has been the foundation of just about every civilized society for the past 800 years or so.

It means, in short, that you cannot be locked up without a reason and the person locking you up has to be able to defend that reason. If it's not around, then the party doing the imprisoning (in this case, the United States), can do pretty much whatever it wants. It can yank people out of their beds in the middle of the night, extradite them to far off lands and torture them. And then, lest they get mouthy about it, lock 'em up. Lock 'em up without any hope of leaving the prison, or understanding why they're there, or how to get out.

And we did that to a fifteen year old boy.

When I think of the Failed Bush Presidency (henceforth, FBP), I think of Gatsby:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

When I think of Guantanamo, and all the hell it wreaked, I think of Lear:

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport.

On Monday we were led by wanton boys. On Thursday, we're led by a grown-up. We're better than we were. But, man, there's a lot of work left to do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cynicism and Skepticism

I think the distinction is fine, but important. Let me start out with the dictionary:

Cynicism: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of other.

Skepticism: An attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.

A cynic, I think, is someone who thinks everyone has an agenda. Cynicism means the only reason anyone feels moved or hopeful is because she's a dumbass. Cynicism disbelieves in purity. Cynicism is easy, it frees you from any responsibility for making things better because nothing can ever be good.

Skepticism, on the other hand, means we've been burned before (I did not have sex with that woman.... GOD. That still makes me want to punch a wall), and so we pay attention and hold our handsome new president's feet to the motherfucking fire.

Yesterday, when Barack Obama said...

those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old, these things are true

I believed that. And, even more importantly, I believe that he believed that. But I also recognize that the responsibility for adhering to those things, and for insisting that we as a nation adhere to those things, falls on all of us equally.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Sun Also Rises

It's been eight years. Eight years of "heckuva job, Brownie" and Mission Accomplished. Eight years of extraordinary rendition and black sites and torture. Eight years without Habeus Corpus. Eight years of corporate malfeasance and failures to regulate. Eight years of there's no proof that human activity is responsible for global warming. Eight years of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin and Sean Hannity. Eight years of fostered, manufactured and nurtured fear. Eight years of tolerated, encouraged racism. Eight years of Muslim = Terrorist.

Eight years of torture.

And it's over.

Today we're swearing in a man who all evidence indicates is smarter than the rest of us, emotionally adult, invested of a strong moral compass, and who is prepared to lead.

I'm no dummy. I expect Barack Obama will disappoint me on occasion. I expect him to fail on occasion. But even with that knowledge, I am confident he will lead. I am confident that things will get better.

Happy Inauguration Day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Poem for George W Bush

This is the last day that George W Bush will be president of the United States of America. That is quite the striking thought, isn't it?

I think a little Shelley is called for. As always, if you read it, read it aloud:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Night Lights

So, I was all geared up for some good SciFi tonight. I made myself do all my chores after Laney went to bed. I did some work, I got the kitchen cleaned, I dusted, vacuumed and mopped. And then, when all was said and done, I decided not to watch BSG tonight.

See, while in general I'm a pretty good wife, I have one major failing: I have, on many MANY occasions, spoiled things for Don. The most egregious example was when we were watching "The Sixth Sense" at the Brew and View and I leaned over to Don about a third into the movie and said "So, when did you realize that Bruce Willis was dead?"

As it turned out, Don had not yet SEEN "The Sixth Sense." Oops.

So, I decided that it would be better to save BSG for tomorrow for when we could watch it together. Otherwise, I'd totally be chewing on my cheek trying to stop myself from saying "Can you BELIEVE that Tigh is actually a different representation of the Cylon Number Six model?"

Instead, I sat down with my wine and tuned into Friday Night Lights, which has in common with BSG that no one watches it and everyone should.

The episode began with the Julie Taylor following her parents to the car haranguing them with all the reasons why they should let her change her class schedule and get a car of her own. When they settle in the car, Coach Taylor says "First of all, I'd appreciate it if y'all would not leave your garbage in my car. And, second of all, Principal Taylor, you look hot." Principal Taylor is his wife, the AMAZING Connie Britton.

And, I thought, after all those missteps from their second season, this show is back.

It makes you question all those culture wars and lets all us lefty urbanites know that we actually do have a lot in common with Texas Christians.

And, y'all, my cousin and great, great friend, Shawn, is always talking to me about the sky in Texas. Whoever shoots that show, totally agrees with her. You never saw a football game look so pretty.

It's awesome. If confusing, a little. It troubles me that my TV crush goes from the coach to the high school running back. In my defense, the actors playing running backs (both Smash and Riggins) are well into their twenties, so it's not that gross.

And Now, the End is Near

Laney is in the tub now and I was just bopping around chatting with her while I picked up upstairs and the following exchange took place:

Megbon: Laney, it's weird to believe that in just a few days, Bush will no longer be president
Laneybon: I know, I know... it's the greatest thing in your life ever
Megbon: Well, I married your Daddy in 2000 and since then there was only one thing that was greater
Laneybon: I know, I know... getting me

I blame a surfeit of Spongebob for the sarcasm. But, that aside, I actually think it's true. Outside of getting Laney, I really can't think of anything that's happened in the past eight years that will make me as happy as seeing the last of George Bush. I'm curious out there among my liberal brethren, has anything happened in your life that will be as sweet, as satisfying, as wholesomely delicious as watching that presidency fade into darkness?

New Yankee Holiday

One of my friends on Facebook had as her status "Being out in -17 doesn't make you tougher, just dumber"

I disagree. It takes a special kind of constitution to tolerate cold like this. Chicago filters out the week.

I was in Texas earlier this week and they were, I swear, ADORABLE about cold weather. The fellow in charge of the group I was training tried to insist I put on my coat to walk the 30 feet from the door to my car. And it was FIFTY degrees!

But those warm climate folks have gone from adorable to just a little smug. And so I say, it's time for a little old school Chicago boosterism. Yeah, it's cold. Yeah, it's snowy. It's still Chicago, beautiful and historic and populated by some tough motherfuckers. Hence, I am declaring today National Midwestern Call Someone in a Warm Climate a Pussy Day.

Hey, Texas reader! Yeah, you! Pussy.

There I feel warmer already.

(Please be aware that I love all people and this aggressive boosterism is only because I am SO so so so so so COLD)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Couple of Deep Thoughts which Seem to Correspond

Deep Thought One

So, I recall this conversation I had with my brother deep in the heart of the Bush years. I was virulently bemoaning the loud, willful ignorance of Bush supporters. In the midst of my tirade, my brother interjects: "I wish WE had a Bush." In other words, when do lefties get someone who inspires that kind of confidence and enthusiasm?

I think we got him. I know that so far (you know, six days before he's even president), I always give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't that upset about Rick Warren. I wasn't at all upset he had dinner with David Brooks and Bill Kristol (and I think Bill Kristol is the douchebaggiest of all the wingnut pundit douchebags). This might have something to do with the fact that I'm ready to stop being angry all the time... I'm ready for my first reaction to a political act to be something other than rage and shame. It might also be that I'm right and Barack Obama is smart, savvy and invested of a genuinely strong moral compass.

Deep Thought Two

I was watching Rachel Maddow interview Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal minister who's doing the invocation at the Sunday night inaugural event. He said that Barack Obama recognizes that "we are all children of God." And I caught myself loving that phrase.

Which is weird, since I don't believe in God. Even more, I find it obscene that people believe in some old white dude in the sky who looks down and makes decisions about whether he's going to let you get that good parking space while letting that kid starve to death in Africa. But, expressions like "children of God" fall easily on my ears as metaphor.

I think my fellow blogger Paul (who will almost certainly disagree with this second deep thought) is right that atheists are the most blithely discriminated against group in the political arena. And I furthermore think that it's incumbent upon us to keep fighting that good fight.

And yet, I do have some glimmer of hope that this administration aims to usher us into a time when Americans begin to believe that we are all "children of God;" an expression I hear poetically as an observation that we are all endowed with the same kind of humanity and are all deserving of love and respect. Bush and Cheney and Rove spent a lot of time and energy (and all their little political capital) in convincing us that we are at war all the time. It will be nice to let a little of that go.

I'm not sure how long this honeymoon will last. I hope eight years or so.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just.... goddammit

I know I've been a little harpy on the poetry lately, but this... well this just will not do! Do you remember how you felt when The Who's "Reign O'er Me" showed up in a commercial? Well, hold onto that feeling of betrayal and disgust as you read this:

Rod Fucking Blagojevich finished an embarrassingly cloying and exploitative press conference by quoting Tennyson's Ulysses. Rod Blagojevich CANNOT have that poem. We had that poem at my father's funeral. He loved that poem.

I am taking a stand here and taking Ulysses back. It belongs to everyone in the world... provided you are not a cheap, soulless philistine. Here's the end... read it aloud (although, really, you'd probably enjoy it if you read the whole thing).

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I love it when he says "that which we are, we are." Some might call it a tautology, but they don't get it (Blago certainly doesn't; he thinks this poem is about defiance rather than acceptance. Dumbass). I have taken these words back from Rod Blagojevich who can (and I say this in defiance of the physical impossibility, since I understand when defiance is appropriate) suck my dick. And cannot have Ulysses.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Night Poetry

X.J. Kennedy is such a wonderful poet. If you read it, read it aloud. Poetry should ALWAYS be read aloud.

"The Purpose of Time Is To Prevent Everything From Happening at Once"

Suppose your life a folded telescope
Durationless, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother's womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage - toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents' tread downstairs - all one

Einstein was right. That would be too intense.
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping,
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You'll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What happened?

Sherri Shepherd Again...

I was thinking about how I had back-to-back posts about how mean the intertoobz are vis a vis celebrity gossip and then in my next post referred to a celebrity as a "fucking moron." Am I hypocritical?

Probably, but not about that. My beef with Sherri Shepherd is substantive. I'll grant anyone a little brainfart, but she didn't know whether or not the earth was round because she was trying to make a point that science is bad and religion is good. When she failed to grasp that suing a pastor for refusing to marry a gay couple is fundamentally unconstitutional, she did so because she wanted rationale for denying marriage rights to several million Americans. She represents a certain offshoot of Christianity that is so shitty and dumb and mean, I think I'm entitled to call her a fucking moron.

To expound on this: this offshoot Christian initiative that became blindingly pervasive during the Bush years divides the world up into this or that; constructs a Manichean reality whose sole purpose is to defend its own prejudices. Either you believe in science or you believe in God. Either you believe homosexuality is OK, or you believe in God. Either you believe in a woman's right to control her own body, or you believe in God. It grants its adherents the moral highground at the same time it frees them from all the effort involved not only with critical thought, but with loving your neighbor. Not only is it moronic, it's mean.

Anyhoo, Sherri Sheperd was on 30 Rock last night. She was OK. Probably, because she stood in the reflected comedic genius that is Tracey Jordan, who I think is the funniest person on that show, and that is saying something.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Never Watch The View. NEVER!

So, I was watching a repeat of The View while I was making the bed last week and they were discussing gay marriage. The women represented about how you'd expect: Whoopi and Barbara in favor, Elizabeth representing the selectively moralistic and Sherri representing the fucking morons.

Poor Sherri, bless her heart, was just all twitterpated and conflicted about gay marriage. See, she's got these two gay friends and she even lets them around her son who refers to them as Uncles (see how forward thinking and progressive she is)! But she doesn't want her pastor to get sued if he refuses to marry some gay people. "America is litiguous, y'all!" she informs us.

Lookit: I was raised Catholic. One of the fundamental tenets of Catholic dogma is that women are not allowed into the highest positions of authority, solely because they are women. Women cannot be priests, bishops, archbishops, cardinals or the pope.

Odd, that: no one has sued the Catholic church over this. Imagine if G.E. had a similar policy; America, as Sherri told is, is litigious, y'all!

Ah, but hearken back to eighth grade social studies. Remember that thing about separation of church and state. Oddly, it goes both ways. This separation is not integral to the United States Constitution as part of some nefarious founding fathery plot to keep your kids from praying in school. It's there to keep the government out of churches; it's based in religious freedom.

But, Sherri sits there on The View throws out her "some of my best friends are gay" rationale, pretends she's open-minded, and blithely privileges the unthreatened rights of a few American religious leaders over the fundamental and absent civil liberties of millions of gay Americans.

I waited for Barbara or Whoopi to point this out. They did not.

Those women make me CRAZY. I probably saw about 30 minutes of The View in 2008, and all on days off when I was making the bed. And each of those 30 minutes resulted in making me CRAZY! I must remember: Comedy Central during bed making. Comedy Central. Never, NEVER, watch The View.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

From Poetry to Pop Culture

What can I say, my interests are varied. I'm almost as partial to celebrity gossip as I am to poetry. If I stumble across a link about Jennifer Aniston, I am compelled to click on it. But in my trolling across pop culture sites, it seems like offputting fawning has been replaced by offputting vitriol. And, really, aren't they just two sides of the same coin?

A few days ago I clicked on one of those Jennifer Aniston links that I can't seem to pass over and in the course of the post they referred to "her withered up ovaries." That level of invective brought to mind the people weeping and rending garments in front of Princess Diana's palace after she died. In both circumstances, I want to change barstools while muttering, "sheesh, dude, get your own life" under my breath.

Thank heavens for the fug girls.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I love poetry. I think I got this mostly from my father, although I suspect my mother would object. But Dad was the guy I boozily recited Houseman with. I want Laney to have poetry in her life, to love it like my Dad did and I do.

So after dinner I picked up my favorite poetry collection "Good Poems for Hard Times" compiled by Garrison Keillor (you should all have this collection... it's perfect and does exactly as the title suggests) and turned to a random page to read a poem to Laney. The poetry gods smiled and I landed on the following, which we had a good chat about. Laney and I decided that the poet was probably right about what the Whole Duty of Parents is.

(Listen to me: read it aloud. Poetry should ALWAYS be read aloud!)

Ode on the Whole Duty of Parents

by Frances Cornford

The spirits of children are remote and wise,
They must go free
Like fishes in the sea
Or starlings in the skies,
Whilst you remain
The shore where casually they come again.
But when there falls the stalking shade of fear,
You must be suddenly near,
You, the unstable, must become a tree
In whose unending heights of flowering green
Hangs every fruit that grows, with silver bells,
Where heart-distracting magic birds are seen
And all the things a fairy-story tells;
Though still you should possess
Roots that go deep in ordinary earth,
And strong consoling bark
To love and caress.

Och! I love that! How great is that: "stalking shade of fear"? Did you read it aloud? If you didn't, I bet you missed all the rhymes. Read it again. Aloud, dammit.

Alexander Pope described good poetry as "what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed." I think that about sums it up.

Review (Pre-Post Mortem?)

I love Pushing Daisies. I've been parceling out the last few that I had on the DVR, making sure I was in exactly the right frame of mind to watch it. But, I've finished the recorded episodes and I think there are only three more episodes before its end.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of really good television. And this show so fits the bill. All the actors are wonderful; the leads are fantastic, but it's Chi McBride, Kristen Chenowith, Swoosie Kurtz, and Ellen Greene that can all, with just a look, knock your socks off. And sometimes Kristen Chenowith and Ellen Greene sing. I LOVE it when they sing. The writing is clever and cute without being cloying (some might disagree, but since this is my blog I get to tell them that they're wrong). The premise is wicked and intriguing. The costumes! But forget all that stuff. I'd tune every week just to look at it. Every set is a work of art.

I almost wish I'd watched it on on DVD like I did the other Brian Fuller shows (Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls) since then the cancellation would have occurred prior to having fallen in love with it. But now I'll have to be there when the ax falls.

And this is where good television fails you. A brilliant movie may be poorly received by the public, may only be available in limited release, but at least there's opportunity to get to see its start, middle and end. Same with a book. It's only television that yanks a great show off the air in its prime at the same time it leaves another show to linger on life support long after the plug should have been pulled (I'm looking at you, Scrubs).

Sigh, I guess Pushing Daisies (like Firefly, like Arrested Development, like Freaks and Geeks) just won't chance to tell its story.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just a Quick Question

Is it just me, or is there anything more eye roll inducing than men who wear shorts in 15 degree weather? I hate that I get so irked by that. I mean, it's not MY legs that exposed to the elements in a Chicago January. It's really no skin off my nose. But, it's just so.... stupid!

I get it when it's 50. Shoot, even 40 and I can relate. But when it's a seasonable January, I just want to walk up to the dude and slap him.

* Edited to add: I just discussed this with Don and it hits me: this is labored, affected insouciance, which IS, ipso facto, irritating. That is all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blogging for Posterity: My Borderline Marxist Revisioning of Snow White. Part Two

Catch up with the previous chapter here.

Part the Second: In Which Snow White Meets Socialist Dwarves*

And wasn't the woman he brought home dreadful? She was beautiful to look at, but vain and absent and, to top it off, an evil sorceress. She brought with her a magic mirror which she gazed in nightly and said:

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?

And the mirror responded:

The fairest woman to be seen is, in fact, you, my queen

And as the queen stared into the mirror and went about her evil sorcery business, Snow White carried on hanging out with household staff and worrying about the state of the kingdom. Until one day, the queen asked her mirror:

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?

And the mirror responded:

Woe this day and woe this night, the fairest one is now Snow White

The queen flew into a rage, she grabbed a box from her dressing table and ran out of the room. The first person she ran into was Freddie. She ordered him to take Snow White into the forest and kill her. He was to cut out her heart and return it to her in the box.

Freddie, of course, did NOT want to do this. So he took Snow White out into the forest and directed her to RUN RUN RUN. Then he killed a passing stag and put its heart into the box. The queen, having failed to pay adequate attention during her high school biology classes, was fooled.

Snow White ran and ran until she came upon a ramshackle old house in the woods. She knocked on the slightly ajar door and when she received no answer, swallowed her qualms and went in.

What a mess! There were seven unmade beds and seven unwashed dishes. Snow White was feeling nervous and worried and so she decided to clean up in order to distract herself. So she did. And when the little house was spick and span, she was still alone in the house and freaking out. So, she decided to distract herself a little more and made some nice soup.

When the dwarves came home, they were greeted by wholesome smells and a tidy house. At first they were irritated by Snow White's presumption, but then they decided to sit down to dinner. Over good soup and fresh bread, they reached an equitable agreement: Snow White would keep house for the dwarves in exchange for room and board and a modest stipend.

An equitable arrangement indeed!

And so they passed several weeks quite happily. Until one day the dwarves were away and a knock came at the door...

Coming tomorrow, Part the Third: In Which the Evil Queen Presents Poisonous Mark Kay Products

*The dwarves aren't really socialist, except in that way that a fair exchange for goods and services are socialist. You know, Obama-style socialism

The Blog in 2009

I went on blogging hiatus over the holidays, mostly due to the effects of alcohol. This is not to say that I've been drinking the holidays away (although, it being the holidaze, maybe a little bit), this is to say that I have become increasingly aware that youth serves to attenuate the effects of drinking. And, I ain't no youth no more.

I have been thinking about this blog through the holidays and what I want to do with it. I started it about six months ago and I slipped and slid throughout a myriad of ideas about what it was supposed to be. I'm especially embarrassed by my failure to limit posts to 100 words of fewer. By this age, I should have known that I am just NOT pithy. And then I sort of figured out what I wanted to do here.

But I do have some bloggy resolutions for 2009, and in the interest of organizing my thoughts, I'm putting them down here:

1) No more self-indulgent whiny posts. Those are just embarrassing.
2) Slightly more review-y: I've always wanted to keep track of what I read throughout the year and this is a perfect place for it. I'd also like to keep track of plays I see, movies I love, even particular TV shows that I watch. So, review-i-er
3) Proofread!
4) Finish what I start. To that end, I exit this post to finish Snow White.