Monday, December 24, 2007

Fifty-one: Al-fa-la-la-la-lah!

JSG, EG and KV have all hit the ground running on this bad boy, so I will jump into the fray with my own alphabet soup.
A is for airports, airlines and airplanes. See letter H.

B is for blogging. What a surprise to enjoy this process.

C is for Chi Running. Let's see if it will make a runner out of me.

D is for Deal or No Deal. Those broads make Vanna White look like a nuclear physicist.

E is for Easter Bunny Super Hero. The short film that won the city competition, you can see the fruits of my labor as assistant Art Director (schlepper for my pal Vera) on You Tube I believe.

F is for fiber. Middle agers need lots of it for our Holy Grail of body functions, the smooth and all consuming poop.

G is for gratitude. Everyday is a gift and being grateful balances me and reminds me of what is essential.

H is for hell. All the architects of this war are going there and will have a Michael Bolton soundtrack for eternity.

I is for iPhone. Such a gadget. Now I know how a Serengeti crocodile feels when he spies a stray gazelle.

J is for Joy. Cal, my family(yeah, even them), my friends, breathing, moving, laughing. It's great when it's all good, and even when it's bad, it's all good.

K is for kudos to us all for writing, writing and writing during our real and complicated lives. It's been extraordinary to share a bit of you through your posts.

L is for listening. Trying to get better at it is time well spent for me.

M is for marriage. After 21 years, all I know is that it's all about the little things---tone of voice, common courtesies, lots of laughing, simple rituals, holding hands.

N is for nonsense: Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, tax laws (ha!) for the wealthy, presidential debates, intelligent design, reality shows.

O is for Olmos as in Edward James. From Blade Runner to Battlestar Galactica, he is one of the most remarkable actors drawing breath on this planet.

P is for The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. My favorite read of 2007, it's charming and sweet without being overly sentimental.

Q is for quality of hire. If education recruited and hired like Fortune 500 companies, schools would be cathedrals of learning instead of discount houses.

R is for real. What is real? Philosophers have asked that for centuries. The Washowski brothers lit up several fat ones, wrote and directed The Matrix for their answer.

S is for Shuhz, nothing but shuhz.

T is for tres leches cake. The Burke version this holiday will soak the cake in dark run and caramel before the sweetened milk bath.

U is for unclog. See F.

V is for Viggo as in Mortensen. Naked fight in a steam room in Eastern Promises. They had me at naked.

W is for writers' strike. Give them whatever they want. The new reality shows have sunk to depths only sonar can reach.

X is for X chromosome. Nancy Drew, Wonder Woman, Sarah Conner, Buffy Summers, Ellen Ripley, Lara Croft, Starbuck, Laura Roslin, our mothers, Judy, Morgan, Karen.

Y is for Yo-Yo Ma. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (flying people, hidden wires) is one of my favorite soundtracks. The cello as breaking heart.

Z is for Zowie as uttered by Joe E. Brown upon seeing Jack Lemmon in drag in Some Like It Hot. Thank Allah for classic comedies!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fifty: Chopping Season

This gift giving season netted me some marvelous knives today, compliments of the generous nature of JSG and EG. Those bad boys hummed a sharp tune today as we went to town on the makings of a hearty bahgobble veggie soup (lamb and turkey). I always start with onions, giving them a brisk chop. Ah, the knives, they were like buttah! In the pot went the onions for a nice shvitzing, then after they've worked up a sweat, mushrooms join them. I rummaged in the vegetable bin and found some green beans, carrots, brocolli and its rabe, lots of garlic in whole cloves, and then topped it all off with some chicken stock. I mocked it outright so it simmered a while, then when it was ready to tell me off, I threw in the turkey and lamb, all leftovers from previous evenings. After about an hour of moderate heat, I added some rinsed Navy beans and let it simmer just a while longer until I found a kind of crusty bread to go along for the ride. A crusty baguette is a always good choice, but we had a multi-grain sunflower loaf that is all kinds of wonderful with soup or with air for that matter. Lordy, is there anything better than really great bread? Soup and bread for dinner makes for a world of comfort as the air becomes chilly and your energy makes a stop for the night. A fresh pear was sacrificed for dessert, although, what I really wanted was some creme brulee placed in my mind by the wisp of a waitress at the Chew this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Forty-nine: The Truth is Out There

I get a lot of abuse for my love of all things sci-fi, which is not true. Not the abuse part, that is true. I don't love all things sci-fi, just the things that are well written and original. In the 90's I was an X-Files fan, huge because of all the things they managed to do with that premise of an FBI agent who believed in little green men. I love the forum of a blog because it allows me to share parts of shows or films I love with the loyal few who visit these blue walls.
I have all 9 seasons of X-Files on DVD, a birthday gift from Cal a few ago, one of my all time favorites. I have some favorite episodes for different reasons, but all have one common thread, memorable writing.
In season 5 Scully, the female partner of Mulder the all believing FBI agent, begins to succumb to the cancerous tumor in her head lodged behind her sinus cavity, a place that is inopperable. The episode opens with her voice over as she writes in her journal, a letter to Mulder:

I feel these words as if their meaning were weight being lifted from me. Knowing that you will read them, and share my burden as I have come to trust no other, that you should know my heart, look into it, finding there the memory and experience that belong to you, that are you, is a comfort to me now, as I feel the tethers loose, and the prospects darken for the continuance of a journey that began not so long ago, and that began again with a faith shaken and strengthened by your beliefs. If not for which I might never have been so strong now, as I cross to face you, and look at you in complete, hoping that you will forgive me for not making the rest of the journey with you.

That's just a bit of it, written by X-Files creator, Chris Carter. My favorite episode of all time is a very unusual one, written and directed by David Duchovny who played Mulder. It's called The Unnatural and it's told in glorious flashback. Searching through an FBI reference book, Mulder finds a photograph of Arthur Dales with a baseball team and the alien bounty hunter. Mulder goes to Arthur Dales'(an ex FBI agent), house to ask him about the photograph. There he finds Arthur Dales' brother, also named Arthur. Mr. Dales proceeds to tell Mulder a story of a 1940's Negro baseball player in Roswell named Josh Exley who was closing in on breaking some professional baseball records. Mr. Dales tells how he was assigned to protect this player from the KKK and that Exley was actually an alien.
It's a great premise and an original and well told story. The casting was spot on, especially the baseball playing alien as played by Jesse L. Martin of Rent and Law and Order fame.
Here are some bits of dialogue I know you'll enjoy. This is after Exley is discovered by Dales for what he truly is.
Officer Dales: "So why did you, uh, leave your family in, uh... in Georgia?"
Josh Exley: "My people guard their privacy zealously."
Officer Dales: "I can understand that."
Josh Exley: "They don't like for us to intermingle with your people. Their philosophy is we stick to ourselves; you stick to yourselves — everybody's happy."
Officer Dales: "So what happened?"
Josh Exley: "Well, you know what happened."
Officer Dales: "You fell in love with an earth woman."
Josh Exley: "No. I saw a baseball game."
Officer Dales: "Oh."
Josh Exley: "See, there's something you got to understand about my race. We don't have a word for laughter. We don't laugh. I don't know if you noticed in between all that fainting you was doing, but we have very tiny mouths, so no smiling even."
Officer Dales: "Wow."
Josh Exley: "But I tell you, when I saw that baseball game being played this laughter just... it just rose up out of me. You know, the sound the ball makes when it hits the bat?"
Officer Dales: "Yeah."
Josh Exley: "It was like music to me. You know, the smell of the grass, 11 men — first unnecessary thing I ever done in my life and I fell in love. I didn't know the unnecessary could feel so good. You know, the game was meaningless but it seemed to mean everything to me. It was... useless, but perfect."
Officer Dales: "Yeah, like, uh... like a rose."
Josh Exley: "Yeah, yeah, yeah, like a rose. Yeah, see., you get it, Arthur. You're a fan."
Officer Dales: "Uh-huh."
Josh Exley: "Tell you, from that moment on I just couldn't fix myself to go home."

That's such a great exchange between those two characters. If you've ever loved baseball before all it's steroid posing, this will bring it back, just for a moment.

Of course, Dales is telling this tale 50 years later. He is older, cynical and isn't taking any crap and could care less if Mulder believes him or not.
Mulder: "Let me get this straight; a free-spirited alien fell in love with baseball and ran away from the other non-fun-having aliens and made himself black, because that would prevent him from getting to the majors where his unspeakable secret might be discovered by an intrusive press and public and you're also implying that..."
Arthur Dales: "You certainly have a knack for turning chicken salad into chicken spit."
Mulder: "You're also implying that this baseball-playing alien has something to do with the famous Roswell UFO crash of July 47, aren't you?"
Arthur Dales: "You're just dying to connect the dots aren't you, son? Look, I give you some wood and I ask you for a cabinet. You build me a cathedral. I don't want a cathedral. I like where I live. I just want a place to put my TV. Understand my drift?"
Mulder: "Drift it is, sir."
Arthur Dales: "Trust the tale, Agent MacGyver, not the teller. That which fascinates us is, by definition, true. Speaking metaphorically, of course."
Mulder: "Okay, so was Ex a man who was metaphorically an alien or an alien who was metaphorically a man or a something in between that was literally an alien-human hybrid? It's official. I am a horse's ass."
Arthur Dales: "What is it to be a human, Fox? Is it to have the chemistry of a man? In the universal scheme of things a dog's chemistry is nearly identical to that of a man. But is a dog like a man?"
Mulder: "Well, I have noticed over the course of time, a man and his dog will often start to look like one another."
Arthur Dales: "To be a man is to have the heart of a man. Integrity, decency, sympathy; these are the things that make a man a man and Ex had them all, had them all, more than you or I."

Everything I read or watch becomes part of me in some way. This story, written in 1999, has stayed with me a long time because of it was about love's transforming power. In the end, Exley is killed by an alien bounty hunter and instead of bleeding the noxious green blood of his people, he bleeds human blood. Baseball made him human, the love of baseball changed him. It's a romantic notion in the most unromantic setting, about how love can change us in the most alien ways.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Forty-eight: Say Anything

Today the Lord of the Rings trilogy was on TNT for most of the day. All three movies are a modern classic, all masterpieces in their own right. I've seen them all many times and I am always, and I mean every single time, overwhelmed by the depth of the performances and the commitment to the original story. Peter Jackson and company are frackin' geniuses.
I am in awe of those who write exceptional dialogue for movies and television, although I believe it's harder for the medium of film, maybe because of the impact of being on the big screen. Somehow the words have to matter more.
When done correctly, words that are chosen carefully for the story and character stay with me a long time. When done incorrectly or without the proper respect for craft, the words vanish from my mind, shaken clean like an Etch a Sketch. Think about it. How many lines can you quote from The Wizard of Oz? How many can you quote from Showgirls? See?
There are movie quotes I recall for my own amusement and there are those that have helped me navigate and negotiate the quicksanded, landmined terrain of this life.
Among my favorites:
From Magnolia:
The book says we might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.
If you can understand that, you might save yourself thousands of dollars in therapy.

From The American President:
You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil who is standing center stage advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.
This is one of my favorite movie quotes because it explain the complexity of democracy.
How can anyone think that democracy is a just add freedom and stir ideal?

From Michael:
You gotta learn to laugh, it's the way to true love.
Nothing in this life is more true.

From The Princess Bride:
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
I love this quote because it's the one that's going on in my head whenever I'm in a heated arguement at school with various disagreeable types.

From The Shawshank Redemption:
Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.
I've lost some dear friends over the years, and remembering this helps.

From Star Trek: Generations
Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived.
JSG touched on this not too long ago and she and Picard are correct.

From The Return of the King:

This exchange between Pippin and Gandalf made me cry a little the first time I saw it. It's elegantly written and tender at the same time.

PIPPIN: I didn't think it would end this way.
GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?
GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
PIPPIN: Well, that isn't so bad.
GANDALF: No. No, it isn't.

That's the best thing about words, isn't it? The ability to take you outside of yourself within the reach of your own heart.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Forty-seven: Cold Mountain

Cal's a bit under the weather so I am in full folk medicine force to help him combat this nasty cold. Let me preface this by stating that I am all in favor of using the traditional over-the-counter products to help you get through the working day. Vick's DayQuil is a miracle of modern pharmaceutical wizardry. It can suppress a cold's worst symptoms and creates the impression that you're a functioning person without the never ending mucus trail and the hacking lung cancer cough. It fools you into believing you're a better, stronger and more polished individual a lot like its recreational cousin, tequila.
But there also lies within me a little old Appalachian woman named Erline dressed in brown and blue callico, a frayed cotton apron and worn leather workboots who believes garlic in all its forms can heal all things. I made some chicken soup tonight. The tenderloins were cut in smaller than bite sized pieces because when you have a cold, even chewing can leave you weary. I threw in some rappini for extra immune building head-butting strength, carrots because orange food is always so cheerful when you're sick, green beans to keep the carrots company and mushrooms to give the soup an earthy feel. A whole head of garlic went in that soup too. Erline insisted. She damn near threw the butter churn at me.
Erline will also, if a sore throat appears, mix a concoction of honey, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. This syrup never fails to soothe a ravaged throat and has been credited for stopping the rosary praying coughing fit of 1991 where after a solid 42 minutes of coughing, I truly believed death would soon be slapping me on the back and saying, "Next!"
Erline also swears by a fresh grated ginger infused tea with lemon and honey as the cold and flu cocktail of choice, every 2 hours for the first 36 hours of a cold. Close proximity to a bathroom is a must. Besides a warm mustard poultice and the waving of chicken bones over Cal's forehead, there are other items of comfort to aid and assist a germy and viral assault. We all have our favorites. Cal will often re-read The Wind and the Willows when he's sick and if his head doesn't hurt too much. For me it's saltine crackers, ginger ale and any screen version of a Jane Austen book.
So let's hear it, Eastside Scribes, spill your best cold and flu remedies and/or your favorite cold comforts.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Forty-six: Cruising Attitude

Flight magazines come pretty standard with each wearisome airline experience. A plethora of articles about exotic locations, popular destinations, trendy hotspots. Some have advice for the business traveler. The Southwest mag, Spirit, had an advice feature page which offered tidbits like "travel with a power strip," actually a good one because there are few hotels with suitable pluggage (that's for you MJ). An article about a new board games intrigued me. Snipe-It is a game that comes with a random timer. Questions are asked and the point goes to the last person who answers, not the first. It has the potential for inciting a little bloodshed. I'm going to order it when I get home. A recipe for Hoppin' John followed by an article about the best birding sites in the US, followed by another recipe about the perfect eggnog. Apparently, using granulated sugar makes the ultimate difference as it mellows out the balance between the seven egg yolks, the heavy cream and the whole milk. The recipe comes from City Tavern of Philadelphia home of that other cardiac arrest delight, the Philly Cheesesteak. The variety of articles fascinated me. I sat there, glum and sullen from a ninety minute delay in boarding, and grew even more grumpy upon discovering that someone completed the easy crossword puzzled and left me with the challenging one. I began to distract myself by designing my own in-flight magazine articles like "Great Heckling One-Liners During the Safety Information Demo," or "Stretching That Bag of Peanuts For Your Three Hour Flight (one peanut every 11 minutes!)"
Then the puzzles. I'd like to see a visual discrimination puzzle like the ones in Highlights Magazine: Can You Find Your Luggage in the Picture? (There it is, under the homeless man to the left of the construction site!) Also I'd include an art page (Meet Your Flight Attendants), where you design garments and facial features for the illustrations of a male and female flight attendant. If I had a Sharpie on that page, everyone would get a unibrow, an extra nipple and everyone, without exception, would lose a limb and gets their mouth sewn up because after endless delays, uncomfortable seating and a customer service mantra that supports a fusion of condescension and indifference, the last thing I want to hear as I leave is that blantantly insincere "Buh-bye, thank you!"

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Forty-five: On the Road Haiku

Goodbye hotel room
Talk, talk, talk, drive and unpack
Hello hotel room.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Forty-four: Goodnight Bunny

Besides my usual equipment and clothes and such, I brought some extra things on this trip. Trail mix in my bag helped with the lack of food on the plane. Full of protein and natural sugars, I felt I could snicker at the flight attendants who offered me that postage stamp sized bag of pretzels. I brought an Entertainment Weekly, thin enough publication not enough to weigh my purse down yet diverting enough to get me through the first 17 minutes of the flight, the time that vexes me the most. Of course some Irish Breakfast Tea bags made it into my carryon because there's no way on God's earth that I'll find it here. I threw in a small knitting project in my checked bag just in case the circular lime green aluminum needles fast tracked me into the land of profiling. I always bring my XL X-Files T shirt I bought in '94 to sleep in because it's comfortable and I need all the help I can get on the road to sleep a full night.
The one thing I didn't bring but stumbled onto while channel surfing was an HBO special, Dave Attell: Captain Miserable. Can't quote any of it because it was so perverted and so twisted that my belly laughs drowned out and derailed my short term memory neurons that would have been instrumental in quoting him. I love Attell because nothing is off limits to him. It was just what I needed to help me feel less disconnected. Right about this time most every night, Cal and I are having ourselves some kind of silly chortle to end the night and it's our own giggling we hear before we fall asleep.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Forty-three: The Truth Is Out There

When I came home today, giddy and euphoric, I noticed that Cal had a science program on TV, something from the Science Channel hosted by Sam Neill talking about SETI. Lots of talk about the endless space that is the universe. At one point Sam (damn that Speilberg, I can't see that guy without thinking a dinosaur is right on his ass, but wait, I'm going somewhere else) scoops up a handful of sand and says something like "For every grain of sand on the Earth, there are a billion stars in the universe, so many find it statistically unlikely that we are the only intelligent life in the universe."
Coming home to that after a long day of school freaked me the hell out. I've never really thought of the universe being that vast, but holy guacamole, it was quite the moment. I've never thought that we are the only intelligent beings in the universe because frankly, I have higher expectations of intelligence than to assign it to our pitiful species. One of my favorite comics, Kathleen Madigan says that we are the Alabama of the universe and I tend to agree. I think intelligent life knows we're out here but take the galactic by-pass to avoid all our atmosphere poisoning, war-mongering, Third World oppressing, rainforest slashing crap.
Thinking about how small we are in the larger scheme of things tends to reallign my view and leaves me a bit awestruck, but it reminds me that it's possible to live a big passionate life in a tiny edge of the universe. Today, I kind of needed that.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Forty-two: You Took My Answer

I got all pissy today watching Nancy Giles on Sunday Morning. She complained about the epidemic of texting and mourned the lost art of letter writing. I stood there in front of the TV and wailed, "Oh no you don't! That is my life's bemoaned lament! How dare you complain about the lack of letter writing when I've been saying it for the last decade! Did you just get the memo?"
I should have been happy she was putting it out there to gently jolt people out of their e-mail trance. I wasn't. I was furious she had the chance to say it on TV to millions of people whereas I can only say it to my students and assorted friends who I know want to sink my face into a cream pie whenever I speak about the intimate beauty of the personal letter. Of course, I envisioned this increase in letter writing from this segment. The jump in stamp revenues revitalizes the postal service so much that the surplus money is given to the department of defense where that money is used to design a machine that ultimately ends the war and brings about lasting peace in the Middle East. Nancy Giles is given her own stamp, a yearly invite to Oprah's Favorite Things Show, an insane discount on all Apple products and a Prada purse designed to her specifications. This is why watching TV is bad.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Forty-one: That's Hedley

I'm taking a short break from watching Blazing Saddles on AMC to post. It doesn't matter that I've seen it about 500 times and that I am able to do nearly all the dialogue, if it's on TV, I'm going to stop everything and watch it. The writing was light years ahead of its time and now 34 years later, it still slaps us around for our racism by mocking our habits that we choose time and time again. It has great performances by Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Harvey Korman and Madeline Kahn who is especially brilliant in her send-up of Dietrich singing the best song of coital exhaustion, "I'm Tired." I never grown tired of seeing her do that bit.
I like to watch favorite movies again and again. Some people don't get that and I understand it doesn't make sense but I love a good story and I don't mind seeing a good one again and again. It's terribly secure, you always know what's going to happen. When you have a frightfully unyielding day at work, there's comfort in a movie that makes you laugh so hard you forget the unreasonable demands that leave you feeling unappreciated and inadequate. It's the same reason I've watched Aliens about 1000 times. My ability to substitute my own work monsters for the aliens as they are getting blown up, shot up, driven over and sucked into space from a cargo hold proves to be damn good therapy, cheap too. And now, if I only had a flame thrower.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Forty: Rock Steady

Earlier in the day, I ran errands with my brother who is staying overnight with his boyfriend and three dogs. The dogs are a treat. They like to hang out and snooze a great deal. When they are up they enjoy putting their chins on your lap and produce the large dog sigh, a sign of contentment or quite possibly boredom. The thing with dogs is that you can't tell and they are too patient to complain. It reminded me that I miss having a dog.
John and I went to Cobalt Moon, a center for all things yoga, meditation, tai-chi and incense tinged. They have a gift shop and since this is an area that my brother and I share, we went in to browse. We both bought small bottles of crystals but we made sure they were crystals that applied to our life forces. We both knew we didn't need Chyrsoprase to allign chakras and ethereal planes. Also good for a broken heart. Nope, our hearts are solid. Amethyst was a common purchase because it balances physical-emotional bodies and promotes stability and peace. I decided to order a metric ton of it and have it delivered to school on Monday, along with garnet which removes chakra negative energy. If the crystals don't work, plan B of that pesky exorcism will have to be tapped as go. I went on to buy the Peridot, a lovely green sparkly crystal that stimulates the heart and navel chakras, that I nabbed just because it reminded me of Matthew McConnaghey's eyes. We walked out to the car while he shared with me the history of Shiva from the pendant he bought and for a split second I felt myself back in the South Bronx where most of our childhood lay in ruins. I remembered walking home with him by my side, talking always talking to me. The three tiny bottles of crystals sit on my desk emanating a healing aura to my chakra....okay, I can't even get that out without laughing a little. Pretty, shiny little crystals that remind me of an agreeable afternoon long overdue with my brother.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thirty-nine: A Girly Whirl

I'm still on the quest for a purse. Dillard's at St. John's Mall offered an arsenal of leather satchelled goods for the average price of a car payment. I know I'm a bargain shopper, but am I out of line feeling that $400 is too much for a bag? I remain on the hunt.
As I walked through the department store, I saw the make-up chicks hard at work with the side make-overs. I always notice the expressions of the women in those chairs experiencing just a dollop of pampering and attention, a bit like giving a drop of water to a parched zinnia. Their entire energy field changes. It's not just the make-up although just last week while I was getting some refills on my Bare Minerals, the make-up gal who looked like a refugee from one of the High School Musicals, gave me a bit of this and that, made my eyes look fabulous with eye liner in just the right shade, a metallic brown that I would have never ever tried which I eventually bought. I left feeling great because I looked better, really and while I have always adhered to the philosophy of Billy Crystal's Fernando: "Dahlings, it is better to look good than to feeeel good," I do know it's not just the make-up. I think it has to do with the time you spend or someone else spends paying attention to you, which is a simple thing but often overlooked. I think it's what we all want, someone to listen to us, hand us the right shade of lipgloss and tell us that we look mahvelous.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Thirty-eight: Desperation Haiku

No ideas, no words,
The semantic abyss yields
syllables' soft sneeze.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Thirty-seven: Dear God, It's Me Mary

Dear God,
  I promise to help crack babies learn to read,
and I promise to stop using plastic bags in the grocery stores,
and get a hybrid car and walk to school instead of drive.
I promise never to pass judgement on strangers or even 
people I know if they confuse effect with affect and 
declare that Bridges of Madison County was the finest
book they ever read while I quietly  choke back on my 
own vomit not allowing it to trickle out of the corners
of my mouth.  I make a vow to stop myself from damning
people to the eternal fires of hell whenever I see the "I Voted for
Bush--2004" bumper sticker on their cars.  I will stop laughing 
at women wearing gauchos and skorts.  I take the blood oath here
and now to drink 8 full glasses of water, stretch appropriately before
running, and oh, that's right start running for my health.
I promise to always rinse out the cans for recycling, and
smile at the woman who lives across the street despite the 
fact that she would never smile at us not even if threatened 
with a Middle Eastern decapitation ritual. I will be more patient 
with my family, more giving to strangers in need and more 
thoughtful with my friends.  I will clean behind my refrigerator.
I promise I will do all of these things if I can, in my next life, come
back as Beyonce.
Really, this time I mean it,

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thirty-six: A Haiku of sorts

Time is most fleeting
When the server has been down
All frackin' night long.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


On the trek to Waycross to see my Mom and my brother, I did what I always do, what I've done since I was 10 for a long (or short) car trip. I brought a book. Sometimes I bring knitting, but always, I bring a book. I'm among the fortunate that can read in a car without hurling like a sorority girl at the end of a Greek Week mixer. At the beginning of the school year, I picked up a title from the kidlit section at Borders, an unfamiliar book with a big gold sticker that said National Book Award. It had an old-fashioned cover design to go along with an old fashioned title: The Penderwicks. I slipped it in my work bag and haven't had the time to look at it since August until today.
Kids' lit has gone through quite an evolution in the last 40 or 50 years. In contemporary fiction, the themes have become more realistic, more like children's lives and that's a good thing because kids need to recognize their world in the stories they choose to read. Modern kids' lit can be very dark, but it's also filled with fluffy family stories like the Judy Moody series or the Abby Hayes series. Average writing. They are filled with cheeky dialogue of the modern age, "Whatever!" and "I'm like never speaking to you!." It sounds like kids today.
The Penderwicks is a genuine treat. It's a modern family story with an old-fashioned charm. For fans of the late great Madeline L'Engle, you will feel the resemblance in tone and character but it stands as original work, through and through. I'm also a fan of Little Women so I love a story about sisters, and this is about four of them spending the summer in the Berkshires with their father. I loved that major tragedy stays away from the girls, I loved that they were smart and that their botonist father often spouted Latin to them (they often rolled their eyes but never directly at him), I loved that they weren't perfect and they fought like sisters do and I loved that the writing doesn't assume for a minute that children do not enjoy an elegantly written sentence.
What I loved the most was that I was able to live right there with the Penderwicks for the entire length of that trip and they didn't mind at all. A bit of bliss on state road 23.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Ah, the children. There are so many things out there for the children. St Jude's Children's Hospital. Free care for the critically ill children. Jerry's kids during the Labor Day Telethon. Where else can you see a near embalmed Wayne Newton, a dusted off Tony Orlando and Dawn and the ever shrinking Ed McMahon in a Fellini-like variety venue? It's for the kids. No Child Left Behind---that's for the kids too. The Ronald McDonald House, yep, you guessed it, for the children. So many things for the children. And now something new, for the children.
A Chilean prostitute has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country's largest charity during an annual fund raising campaign. It's a two day telethon put on by the Chile's most noted celebrities who raise money for poor disabled children. Already Maria Carolina's contribution has net $4000 from a regular client who was quoted as wanting to do something right "for the children." Prostitution in Chile is legal and so I must wonder, where are all the other women of working persuasion doing for their country's poor disabled children? Is Maria Carolina the only hooker with a heart of gold? Or did the others contribute but were not as photogenic (Maria takes a nice picture) for the newsbyte? Hard to say.
I wonder if this is going to set off a trend in adult entertainment markets. Next Labor Day, will we see porn stars doing the phones on the Vegas set of Jerry Lewis Telethon? Perhaps a series of Lapdances and Leather Balls for Leukemia? Children of poverty in this country are the most powerless and neglected of all demographics and have one of the highest mortality rates in the world. The government has done more to make their lives worse than better, so I say it's not a bad idea at all to tap that market so our needy children have an opportunity to live through their childhoods. In fact, you might call that, a pretty exotic idea.