Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Female postal worker goes postal.

I swear to God it wasn't me. Damn, but that heifer was a good shot. While I think it is absolutely tragic that people have lost spouses, parents and children in this affair, I do believe that if she killed just one member of management and just one union steward, it was sorta worth it. Trust me when I say there is little on earth to compare to the hell of working for the Post Office - modeled on military principles with nepotistic selective enforcement of rules, the system is emotionally punishing, and employees feel eaten alive. 9 years I worked for that company. One evening I was telling husband about my day, and I just started crying over my dinner plate - and I don't cry easily. Heroically, he said "You're not going back there." And that was it. Unceremonious. No two-week notice. No going on unemployment. Just not working at all. Just didn't show up one day. We were blessed that we could do without my $40K+ income, and I realize now what a luxury that really is - to be able to walk away. Single, I could not have done it, and until I went to college (I started at 30), I really didn't have the confidence that I could make a living doing anything else. Anyway, these stories never surprise me. What surprises me is that this doesn't happen more often.

Yes, I'm one of those weirdo grownups with braces, and I will be so happy to get my braces off next summer (or fall, ugh). My teeth weren't THAT crooked, but comparing them now to how they were, I see they were more crooked than I realized. Anyway. I've always brushed and flossed religiously, never had a cavity, but now it's so hard to floss that I'm tremendously lazy about it. Sometimes I feel as though my teeth have sprouted fur. It's disgusting. And uncomfortable.
OH, there's one more thing. There is a blogger who I thought had a rather clever blog, and I posted comments to her occasionally. Today I popped back by her site for the first time in a week, and looked at the comments of an older post to see if she responded to my comment since last week. Not only had she NOT posted my comment, she posted the comment almost verbatim as her own clever statement. Now I think this is a shitty thing to do, and quite arrogant and ignorant to believe one won't be busted for such a thing. I said nothing, but I will be watching for more plaigiarism from her - Funny - I thought she was clever on her own - maybe it was ALL a rip-off. What do you think, bloggers? Am I over-reacting, or do you agree with me that it is beneath shitty to do such a thing???

Monday, January 30, 2006

My favorite place on earth is a gorgeous little corner of Southeast Arizona called Chiracahua National Park. When you think of majestic canyons, the obvious one to consider in the USA is the Grand one, whose magnificence can not be overstated. However, when you drive into the Chiracahua NP, there is an incredibly intimate feeling about this canyon. To get there from Tucson, you must drive about an hour on bad dirt road, and that time may be used constructively to clear your head of all the spirit-killing appurtenances of civilization. I went in the dead of winter, and saw fewer than 20 people the entire time I was in the park. The road to the heart of the canyon follows its deepest crevice along a stream. Looking up either side of the canyon walls, you are treated to breathtaking vistas of hundred-ton boulders balancing on pinnacles just inches wide. Everything seems deliberately placed with a delicacy that belies the gravity of the ornamentation. Even in freezing temperatures, the trees are so aromatic that you feel you've never smelled clean fresh air before in your life, and if you take the time to notice, you'll see some species of birds for the first time. This is a place of profound beauty, and while I'd like to keep it a secret, I wish everyone could go there at least once. This is a sacred place.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

If you are aching to fill the void of verité left by the discrediting of A Million Little Pieces, a well-written account of grappling with drug addiction by Jim Carroll was published in 1987 called Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries 1971-1973. This is an excellent read,humorous and not devoid of pathos yet not sugar-coated. There are no saccharine redemption passages that will make you want to hack up a hairball. This book holds the distinction of containing the most exquisitely revolting yet riveting passage I've ever read. Jim Carroll had a brief dollop of notoriety with his post-punk NYC anthem "People Who Died" which was something of a minor hit in the USA. Also his Basketball Diaries has received much acclaim and a film was made of same. At no time ever would Carroll be invited to star on Oprah for a touchy-feely cry about his journey on the path, but true life is not so pat and tidy anyway, and pith and grit makes for a read that is much more honest, compelling and cathartic. Two lounging-on-the-sofa-reading-on-a-rainy-day-tits-up. Way up.

Husband and I were honored with the company of our much-beloved niece and nephew tonight. She's 9, he's 3. She's reaching that level of sophistication that everything he says induces eye-rolling in her, and she seems particularly pesky and argumentative with him lately.

We'd eaten at a great burger joint and were heading up the road to Chuck E. Cheese's when the little lad said "We're lost- we can't find Chuck E. Cheese." Thinking he was being silly, we started playing along saying yes, we were lost, probably would end up in Oklahoma or something. I suggested we drop bread crumbs out the window. Darling girl said "then the birds will eat the bread and poop it out." Little lad said "birds don't poop." The girl said "EVERYTHING poops." He said "Bowling balls don't poop."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

I haven't mentioned work much in many moons, so I'll rag on about something that happened this week.

There was a hideous, judgmental toad-of-a-man who did business with our company, and I busted him for something highly unethical. Rather than fessing up and being an adult and admitting an error, he spewed a raging stream of bitter vitriol aimed primarily at me in attempt to deflect attention away from his wrong-doing. I of course, am lily-white so his harangue fell flat. Hurrah! I kept my mouth shut and remained cool, although it was tempting to tell him what a jowl-centric hideously skin-tagged old toad he is. (Why do men crave being dominated by me???) He was fairly begging me for the wire-brush enema he so richly deserved, but I decided to do things the Italian way and let this platter of revenge cool sufficiently so he'd feel extra-super-stupid when the shit really came down and landed on his bottom-line. I was the very picture of collected deportment, knowing I had the whip-handle over him. A mere 3 months later, our contract with him was up for renewal, and I sent him a formal and brief letter saying that we would be dissolving the business relationship with him and we wished him the best as he sought other arrangements. Predictably, he was in a rage, quaking and swearing revenge. We shrugged it off. La la!

Our industry is a rather tightly knit community in town, and we have a yahoo group consisting of about 150 people who see each other fairly regularly and are in touch online daily. When I arrived at work on Thursday, two people in the office asked me "so who do you think Jane is?" This didn't register since I hadn't checked my email since Tuesday, and they explained someone named "Jane" had been on a tear on the yahoo group bitching a la poison pen about our company and making wild threats. Actually, their first 4 or 5 posts on the group were in the guise of a concerned citizen questioning our ethics and going on about what a detriment to the community we were. The only person specifically mentioned was me, and I was called an "airhead." I had to giggle. Misanthropic, scrotum-shredding little old me? A dingbat? Yeah! Fooled em again! I read the volley of emails that had flown through the group that day, and about 10 seconds into reading the butchery of the English language "Jane" had set afoot, I knew it was our favorite old bridge-troll whose grasp of the language had always been wobbly at best. Syntax errors abounded, grammatical and spelling errors, atrocious confusion of terms - it was rather pitiful that I felt more inclined to guffaw than to be steamed at the unfounded attack. I actually felt sorry for the old goat.

Then again, I've always said it's better to be underestimated than to have a bitter enemy know exactly where you're coming from. My philosophy is that I take everyone at face-value. When I meet people, they have a clean slate, and I don't judge them or make assumptions about their worthiness as a human being etc. However, if forced into an adversarial role, let me just say I keep very good documentation and always present my cases convincingly. I'm sure this is not the last we'll hear from Jane. I'll report back on this if anything tasty occurs.

By the way - this is my second brilliant rendering in Paint program, and I'm the bee in toady's bonnet. BZZZZZ!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Um, what do you think of my maiden attempt at Paint program? Did I do a great speckled bird, or what?

Maybe Gladiator said it best when he said "are you not entertained?" Unless you've been living under a rock, you must by now be familiar with the fracas surrounding the book A Million Little Pieces put forth as an autobiography on Oprah Winfrey's show. Viewers were urged to run out and buy this book, which is a guarantee a book will be a best seller. This was a tale of woe about a man's struggle with addiction, but he couldn't find a publisher for the work as a work of fiction, so he changed minor details and shopped it to publishers as a true story. The truth was ferreted out by the good folks over at the smoking gun and now Oprah et al are crying in their cosmopolitans because they were duped into an extreme degree of agitation and sympathy by this literary hoax.

Actually, I think it is good this happened surrounding something that is as benign as a novel or a book read for pleasure or diversion. People, most particularly women, I'm ashamed to say, need to give more thought to the emotional basis on which they view life, politics and the world around them. I don't say to deny one's feelings or not to consider them in major decisions, but the reality is when your choices are based solely on emotion, you will be subject to manipulation and adrift without the rudder of pragmatic good sense.

So, just because it isn't true - was the book not entertaining? Did these many thousands of readers not get off on the vicarious danger of the hard-edged life as described in the pages? I contend they enjoyed the shit out of it, because it illustrated for them a cautionary tale of someone who is more of a fuck-up than most of them. They can't feel smug and superior and in turn grateful for their drab little lives if this story of wallowing in the gutter is not true. They therefore feel robbed. What they need to consider, then, is how much more skepticism with which to examine what they read.

Why do we read novels and books about things often too preposterous to be true? We crave diversion, we long for amusement, and literature transports us through mental exercises that keep our sense of reality and consciousness elastic and youthful. Primordial men painted their caves as a story telling device, and the media have become increasingly sophisticated as time progresses. This is just one more step in the evolution of the ways people jump through hoops to amuse themselves. I don't hold the author blameless in perpetuating this hoax, but I also think there was some pleasure afforded the readers in the exchange, so it wasn't completely one-sided.

I contend that stringing this reading experience out to include a post-coital ---er, post-reading period of righteous indignation-fueled harangue has given these folks a very good and long-lasting high - the ultimate happy-ending with a side of drama queen a la mode. Entertaining, indeed!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Helen Thomas is in a snit. Snubbed (and not for the first time) by the president in his post-Palestinian election press conference this morning, HT could only fume as GWB called on all the reporters flanking her on the front row while pointedly refusing to give her the floor to ask a question. Since the JFK administration, every president has deferred to Ms. Thomas by holding to the tradition of allowing her the first question at each press conference. I may not approve of everything Bush does, but I give him two thumbs up on this one. WAY up.

From Wikipedia: In July 2005 Thomas was quoted in the newspaper The Hill saying "The day I say Dick Cheney is going to run for president, I'll kill myself. All we need is one more liar." Thomas added, "I think he'd like to run, but it would be a sad day for the country if he does." Several days later, Thomas expressed outrage at The Hill for publishing her comments.

What I wonder is why does she think she should get a public forum to hold the commander-in-chief accountable when she feels she shouldn't be held accountable for her own political bias? In case you are wondering, stories like this don't surprise but instead merely confirm the suspicions most Americans have about the media. There was a time when straightforward reporting didn't involve seditious statements and a wildly anti-American slant. It's the Helen Thomases of the world who have made Fox News Network a necessary evil. Get over it already, bitches.

Oh, and one more thing about the press conferences - it's really RILLY annoying when reporters repeat the same questions. I'm just saying

While I'm on the subject of losses to the cinematic world, I must hail the recent passing of Grande Dame Shelley Winters, long may she wave. Shelley was an actor of rock-solid technique, and in several films I kept thinking she seemed plucked from a job waiting tables in a truckstop diner, or the maybe as though the director found her in a bar, scraped her up off a barstool and slapped her onto celluloid unaltered from her natural state. She was a workhorse and a great beauty in her time. Her appearance in The Poseidon Adventure cements her in my mind as an actor extremely dedicated to their craft and not given to the vapid vanity of so much of Hollywood. She and Ernest Borgnine were actually a believably sweet pair in that film. I also must mention her brilliant turn in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita, appearing of course with the inimitable James Mason. What a broad!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sad to hear the best actor in the Penn family was found dead. He was great in True Romance, with script by Tarantino, of course. He played an undercover cop or SWAT team guy who was working on his first big bust with his partner. In Reservoir Dogs, he played the heir-apparent to a gangster-bookmaker type guy. Chris Penn was a natural actor, much less affected and pretentious than many of his contemporaries. A very distinctive voice, very believable in all his roles who I'm sure would have continued to surprise and delight avid film fans the world over. I'm very sorry he's gone, but I'm awfully glad he was here.
Before you read this post, you must know that although I think abortion is a loathsome and horrific thing, I am staunchly pro-choice. I'm also pro-death-penalty. Go figure. I say this to indicate that just as I suspect most people are, my political views are more complicated than can be satisfied with one political party's platform.

I heard on the news yesterday one of the Democratic lawmakers who voted no on Samuel Alito for Supreme court saying that we don't need judges who are outside of the nation's "political mainstream." I take umbrage with that notion.

There is a reason for a saying such as "sober as a judge." Considering members of the judicial branch of US government are lifetime appointees, we do need judges who recognize some truths as absolute and who are not subject to the foolish whim of the moment. I think if people seriously examined the words of their elected leaders, as well as their actions, then career politicians would be hurtled back into the private sector forthwith at the next election. [Seriously, Washington D.C. is a high-toned perennial frat party with good liquors and caviar. (Shit, I wanna go there. But I digress.)] For example, Ted Kennedy (brother of the sainted JFK and RFK, sainted by association) practically accused Samuel Alito of bigotry because of his membership in an organization in which someone (not Alito) wrote a politically incorrect opinion piece in a newsletter in the 1970s. Meanwhile, TK was busy leaving some chick to die in a ditch after a drunk driving accident. And we're supposed to forgive TK for a youthful error but blame Alito for the actions of another? Ted Kennedy has openly accused Alito of being a sexist and racist lapdog of conservatives, and all the while TK is a card-carrying member of a club that does not allow women to join -- WHO is a sexist pig?

I know, I know: it hurts. Just for fun, though, let's all say it together.Hypocrisy. I mean, BLOODY HELL. At least Alito never killed anyone and doesn't belong to any openly sexist organizations.
Meanwhile, all this is merely triangulation to distract us from the real debauchery that goes on at our expense in D.C. If the American "mainstream" realized what a bawdy house we tote the note for in that town, happy days would be gone for good for career politicians. Considering that this is so, be glad of gridlock. Celebrate the inability of our government to move faster than a snail's pace (except for raising taxes - they've even pushed that shit through retroactively, bastards!).
Yes, it's a heavy and momentous decision, but we want our judges to be serious, contemplative, and not the usual good-time Charlies we send to the other branches. I condemn the hypocrites who voted against Alito for the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There was a story in the British news about a 70-something woman who lost her eyesight about 25 years ago and regained her vision after a recent heart attack. She said to her husband "oh, you look so much older, but then I guess I'm older too."

My paternal grandmother is suffering with Alzheimer's, and most days she doesn't realize she's a grandmother, let alone old. She recently had surgery to remove cataracts, and she can see clearly for the first time in many years. Upon returning home after the procedure, she was alone in the bathroom for a long time, when finally my aunt went to check on her. Auntie pushed open the door and saw Grandma staring into the mirror with a look of pained concern on her face.
"Mom, what is it? Are you alright?"
"That Medicine they're giving me has made my skin all wrinkled."

I have broken the seal - I normally never blog from work, but since the rain this weekend, my phone line is scuzzy and I can't access the internet from my computer, for some reason. Sucky. Will be back soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Husband doesn't understand--he's just not wired the way I am. I'm a night owl, and I only feel like doing anything starting at about midnight. He likes to spring out of bed ready to tackle the day first thing in the morning. I think that is an extremely strange urge. I'm fine with a schedule that allows me to get up at the crack of noon daily. Best time for working, creating and thinking is always the night. Thus I never vacuum. On the other hand, it makes me really cranky when he vacuums in the mornings. Sheesh.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Since you've been blond...
[Um, who wants to break the news to Courtney that David's stepping out with Kelly?]

In the news this week, it was said that American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson will not give American Idol permission to use her songs in future competitions.

"American Idol" must obtain permission from owners of song licenses before the music can be used on the show. While many love the exposure, some artists _ the Beatles, for one _ like to rigidly control use of their music.

Mkay. Where to begin? The Beatles catalog is owned by the deeply in hock owner of Muzak(damn his eyes), Michael Jackson. In fact, by extension, Sony, who is owed tens of millions by Michael Jackson, owns the Beatles catalog. I'm not a Beatles fan, really, though I do like the loopy energy of "bigger than Jesus" weirdos like John Lennon, but I rather think the fab 4 all would have been aghast at the way their song trove has been plundered for advertising in recent years. Seriously - have you noticed McCartney parceling off his solo work for adverts? I haven't. Perhaps Junior's Farm would work for a GMC truck advert. With A Little Luck for Harrah's Casinos. Or No more lonely Nights for KY Warming Gel™. I DO give them at least a little credit for integrity.

Back to Ms.Clarkson. Not that I'm saying she must dance with the one that brung her, but it seems a bit silly to be stingy with American Idol, since her demographic is entirely comprised of AI devotees. Seriously. Does she think on the way home from Ozzfest a bunch of headbangers will pop in her cd to relive the glory of sublimely mindless moments? Or that she will rush in to fill the void left by Kurt Cobain? Or Michael Jackson, for that matter? Fiona Apple? Cher? I just think it's strangely awkward to be distancing herself from AI so soon after it made her a pop idol. Hell, I'm still amazed that Sarah Jessica Parker will not countenance any mention of Square Pegs, which was her artistic peak, in my opinion. I'll bet Jamie Gertz still puts it on her bio. But I digress - SJP's one-note symphony of dramatic expression is for another rant, another day, darlings.

Go forth and do as Big Dick instructs: Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I'm not saying mimes aren't evil, but...

I watched this wmv from The Hollow Men's David Armand about 20 times before I realized I was actually enjoying a performance of mime. This guy is hilariously expressive beyond description. I mean, mime? Please! Then again, being British, Armand is neither Shields&Yarnell nor French, so we'll give him a pass on this one. Brilliant, as charged.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Christmas Tampon crafts. While you're there, mosey around and check out the latte art. Good stuff!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

As happens in life, the day I had today was not the day I planned for.

To begin with, about 48 hours ago, realization was dawning on me that there was something amiss with the old plumbing. Yesterday, a doctor for ladies made me an emergency appointment for this morning. Despite a very liberal attitude toward accessibility(anything's possible with enough lubrication), the me down there has never given so much as a yelp of protest, and I commend her for being such a trouper. Thus, this little development has me a wee bit freaked out. I got up this morning and piddled with making some jewelry to kill time until my appointment, then got my ass in gear. Hair looking fabulous, everything shaved, groomed, exfoliated and moisturized, we trotted our ass into the medical center, bold and fearless. But alas, I was a little late, and my doctor had to run off to do a C-section, so the ordeal is prolonged yet another day.

The floor of the hospital was all OB-Gyn and natology, and I got into the elevator with about 10 people who were cooing over boy/girl twins, everyone dazzled at the lovely pair of dumplings. At the last second, an older woman - maybe 60 - slid between the elevator doors next to me and faced forward stalwartly. I noticed she was in her own world, perhaps caught up in some tragic news she'd just received. Dreading my appointment tomorrow, my heart went out to her. She never moved, never swayed with the consensus of heady beautiful-baby-bliss that had infected all others.
I came home, checked email, and then laid down on the sofa, lulled to sleep by wild winds damned to put my new windchimes through their paces. I dreamt of cold mountains in Scotland, of trains and of herds of wild deer racing across the Highlands.
A friend, Tash, and I had talked about going for sushi tonight, but I rudely didn't return her call last week, so my voice mail this afternoon went unreturned.

I awoke, jack russell terrier wedged between my hip and the sofa back, as husband breezed through on his way to church. I kept thinking of the appointment tomorrow, and dread. I thought I needed to do something other than wait in torture for whatever they had to tell me about myself.

I got dressed. the new 'vogs you've seen, black stockings, a boho-chic skirt of diaphanous silky layers, a white linen shell, and a little black cashmere cardigan with a smattering of sequins about the neckline, hair still looking fabulous.
Tidied up the eyemakeup, put on some powder, left the house for my favorite sushi of the moment.
Driving along, OMG - how did I leave the house without lipstick? Ducked into a pharmacy and picked out a vulgar shade of red and went to the counter, where some ill-groomed female (serving the customer 2 ahead of me) was struggling with the register. The tall, nattily dressed man in front of me turned and smiled, eyebrow raised. I said "If you want to make a break for it now, I'll cover for you." He laughed heartily, and the corner of my mouth upturned wickedly. Naughty me.
Liberated from that fluourescent hell, I applied the new shade of red in the car and went to the sushi joint, where a convenient spot in front was waiting for me. I had Aji sashimi, and they fried the bones for me, and I ate the remainder of the carcass, eyeballs and all. Like fishy potato chips. Good stuff. 2 big Sapporos were killed in the pursuit of this meal. Chef Ryan and another chef talked to me most of the time, and I over-ordered fish. I had them box up the remainder of my sushi, and do a special order of Japanese Snapper sashimi (HEAVEN) to bring home as a treat for husband.
Hopped into the me-mobile, opened the sun roof and let the cool dry breeze of the Texas night flood in as I drove home listening to shoegazer opus Voyager One's Gun, a counterpoint of airy hypnotic guitars weaving over my slightly buzzing, wildly sated head.

Worry is for tomorrow. This good feeling here, now, is what life is all about.

I believe the desire for privacy in one's dealings is a natural inclination. However, in such an exhibitionistic society where people flaunt their dirty laundry and make great show of what in another age would have been called embarrassingly personal, it falls a bit flat for people to decry the invasive aspects of government. For example, grocers and pharmacies now offer lower prices to "club" members who have an id card swiped with each purchase. This provides retailers with great information on demographics and buying trends, and an itemized list of every single thing you ever purchase from them.I wonder how long it will be before medical services are denied by insurance companies based on shared market data of one too many purchases of twinkies, Marlboros or Jack Daniels?

In particular, the issue of privacy of phone conversations is bothersome. Husband is an engineer in the world of telephony, and he once told me that a person should never deem they have absolute privacy when speaking on a phone--any phone. If I've mangled the reference, I'm sure he'll correct me. Maybe I always was aware of a lack of privacy vis-a-vis the phone because my paternal grandparents in Arkansas were on a party line until a mere 15 years ago, or so. It was known that Mrs. Gallagher might be (and probably was) listening in on a great many conversations, and statements thereon were tempered accordingly. Anyway, people are idiotic about phones, anymore. Sitting in traffic on the toll road yesterday, I noticed more than half the cars arrayed before me were piloted by people with their heads tilted toward the cell phone they were talking on. In another age, one of the great things about leaving the house was getting away from the phone. Remember?

Anyway, sitting with my lovely book reading at lunch, some idiot attorney sat at the table next to mine on a conference call discussing confidentiality agreements, (irony!) and how to cheat someone out of a referral fee and generally interrupting my lovely reading. The world has gone mad.

What I chalk all this up to is the fact that people are willing to throw their privacy to the wind if they feel they are getting something out of the exchange. This is a flawed thought process, in my estimation. You either believe in privacy, or you don't, and throwing in all sorts of qualifiers does not relieve you of the burden of hypocrisy. Not that the yearning for privacy is a wrong inclination. On the contrary: the bottom line is it's hypocritical for us to demand something of our government that our actions daily demonstrate we really don't give a shit about.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Some things don't work well in translation. Sent through an online translator, even simple film titles get transmogrified into something barely resembling the original when tranposed back into English. When transposed from English to Russian to English, "Dead man walking" becomes "Corpse to go for a walk the man," "Little Red Riding Hood" becomes "the smaller red hood riding" and you get the picture. Anyway, sometimes something odious from the USA filters through the cultural hopper and comes back from overseas better than the original. Such a thing is to be found at the delectably goofy blog of the dormitory boys--the best thing from China since moo shu pork. These two Chinese kids do an incredible lip-synch of an American boy band song. Good stuff.

And speaking of terrorists, I found this comment on Amazon.com from an alleged peta member that MUST be a joke, right? It's too funny to be true, right? Right? Someone reassure me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lest you think I'm merely decorative-- all fluff and no substance-- I have to share with you this bit I found on Tip Jar's very informative blog. Below his masthead is this excellent quote: "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis." - Dante Alighieri. Anyway, Tip Jar offers a great deal of insight into Islam's culture of destroying other cultures.
"If, tomorrow, you read that the Louvre had been leveled by Muslim bombs -- would it surprise you? Of course not, because you now know not only about the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, but about Muslim prohibitions on sculpture and painting. If you realize the tenets of Islam that pose a threat to art, science, and human freedom, then what do you think our leaders and others whose duty it is to instruct us should be doing?"

Somewhere on the internet last night (you know how the link-chase thing goes) I saw this video quoted here of Muslim adherents in Mecca chanting "Death to America, Death to Israel." Chilling.
OK. The new John Fluevogs Santa got me arrived last week. I posted this image before, but it's so damned cute I've gotta show it again, and they are even more wonderful in person. If you see a woman licking her own shoes in public, it's probably me. Thanks for fueling my habit, Santa.

Now, if the Valentine's/Anniversary Fairy will get me the same shoes in Pink & Cappuccino... Yum!

...or there's always the pebbles blackened stainless steel ring from Sarah Graham.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Nine years ago today, our family got one of the best gifts ever: my sweet baby lamb. She is as bright and talented as she is lovely, and she has my black little heart forever.

One more question/harangue about homelessness:

Isn't it patronizing to say that all homeless people are brought to that state through the cruelty of life's slings and arrows? Isn't it condescending to say that because some people find themselves in this state, they are too pitiful and stupid to be otherwise?

My observation has been that generally homeless folk are brought low by a series of conditions, namely depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, and these little nuggets are a chicken-or-the-egg style conundrum. So for whatever reason, these people have opted out of society as we know it, and would prefer to live without so much as a by-your-leave from families, churches, jobs, the government. Does it follow, then, that these same folks would willingly live in hostel-style warehousing where there would presumably be some sort of rules for behavior? After all, they might be expected to show identification or have some sort of i.d. number.

I believe it is high time that homeless rights activists acknowlege most homeless do have some responsibility for the circumstances in which they find themselves, and that simply providing ample teats for them to latch onto is no incentive for them to become productive and happy members of society.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Pamela Anderson thinks Frankfort Kentucky should remove a statue of Colonel Sanders from the State Capitol because it is a "monument to cruelty." Um, she's from Canada, y'all! This is related to her involvement with that fun-loving bunch of folks over at PETA. Whether or not you believe in eating animals, it cannot be denied that people in Ukraine, Johannesburg and Seoul most likely are familiar with the name "Kentucky" not because of horse-racing and not because of bourbon and bluegrass, but solely on account of some good old southern fried.

(By the way that pink fluff festooning Mrs. Lee's hat is marabou which is the downy underside of an African stork. I'm sure the stork didn't mind parting with it - they probably peddled their under-wears on ebay™.)

And another by the way - those rolls that KFC used to serve in the 70s - anybody besides me remember those? anybody? anybody? I thought they were better with that cheap (not my grandma's) gravy than the biscuits they sell these days. I confess I generally go to Popeye's.

Anyway, considering we're worm food, what does it say about us if we don't show our dominance by eating other critters? It says we're a bunch of cabbages--that's what it says. Do the folks at PETA think the ovens and buildings at Auschwitz and Treblinka should be razed because they are monuments to cruelty to human animals? (by the way, did the Nazis make the dark-skinned Jews move to the back of the ovens?) No, old concentration camps are kept as reminders. Maybe Kentucky needs to revise its Public Relations campaign and make the capitol a shrine to honor the dead carcasses of so many unsung chickens. That would be a win-win solution.

Frankfort Kentucky should remove that big tacky bust as soon as Pamela Anderson removes her big tacky bust.

Am I the first to see the irony here? Bitch-assed hypocrite!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

mean2 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (mn)adj. mean·er, mean·est
Selfish in a petty way; unkind.
Cruel, spiteful, or malicious.
Ignoble; base: a mean motive.
Miserly; stingy.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has named the 10 meanest US cities, and Dallas, alas, did not come in #1 - we were #6. Clearly, we've been overachieving lately, having overwhelmingly approved in November's election the construction of a $21 million Homeless Assistance Center on some prime downtown real estate. That's pretty fucking mean of Dallas, isn't it? I can't tell you how many times I drove away from my downtown loft to see drunken louts urinating on buildings and into bushes, topless crack whores on the nod on the street, and countless handoffs of contraband substances, and now I'll have the privilege of paying more taxes for their laziness, self-indulgence, or mental illness. I lived in one Dallas loft community on Harwood from 1988 until 1994 and we always had hookers in front of our building. Then from 2000 until 2004 husband and I had lofts on Ervay, and there seemed ever to be a filthy haze of homeless people lurking about, littering and wallowing in squalor. They are like hideous wallpaper, dead-eyed still-lifes radiating 3-D surroundsound stench. Frankly, I preferred the hookers - at least the working girls were lubricating the economy.
If you don't mind working a little for a literary payoff London by Edmund Rutherfurd will surely give you a happy ending. This is a great historical novel following the lives of 5 families in London. The novel begins at the receding of the last major ice age and spans through to the 20th century. I have ADD, and if I could make it through, I think you might also. Rutherford's SARUM is a similar fictionalized history of the Salisbury Plain of England. Great books, but they are meaty and take a while to finish.

Now I'm reading
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susannah Clarke. Excellent reading. Set in 1807, the novel's sentence structure wouldn't be out of place in novels set in the early 19th century, which is a bit of a lark, really. The author uses fake footnotes to buttress the action of the novel, and these extraneous bits are a wonderful side journey from the main drama. The genre is sort of thriller/mystical/mystery, but I'm only through about 70 pages so I'll tell when I'm finished how I would describe it then.

I don't often fall in love with passages in novels, but having been to the very church being described - the Cathedral in York, or York minster - the description was so apropos I have to quote it here:
A great old church in the depths of winter is a discouraging place at the best
of times; the cold of a hundred winters seems to have been preserved in its
stones and to seep out of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ah, sad news from the world of entertainment, today. After years of slumming in third world---er, that is, lesser developed nations, Angelina Jolie has contracted some sort of parasite. Doctors estimate the host may survive the alien lurve chile rending its way out of her sylph-like body, no doubt in hopes of finding itself a square meal. I'm making a mental note to send that kid a chicken-fried steak with an extra helping of gravy, a side of string beans and hamhocks, and peach cobbler with ice cream. By the way, Brad Pitt enjoyed his cinematic peak in the extraordinary "True Romance," which I watched last night. As the thespian masterfully clutched his honey-bear bong, I thought "Wow, so life-like, so realistic. He must have studied pot-heads for this role. Good acting!"

One of the places in Dallas I used to frequent with friends was the Inwood Lounge, at the Inwood Theater. The Lounge was a space sliced off the lobby of the beaux-art period theater with grand friezes and wonderfully formed plaster embellishments festooning the ceiling. The lounge was divided from the theater with an 8' glass brick wall with an overflow of water down a black slate wall from about 4' down, beyond which a grand staircase could be seen sinuously clinging to the great curl of the wall in the theater proper. There was something so cool and airy about it. Curvaceous vinyl banquettes, the antiquity of the structure, drinking there seemed so much cooler and grown-up than slamming beers elsewhere.

It was also wonderful to luxuriate in the atmosphere before or after films like "Camille Claudel," "Jean de Florette" and anything foreign or too arty to make the regular circuit of megaplexes. Once I persuaded some friends to leave a bar with me on a Friday night and see "La Femme Nikita" at the midnight movie. (If you must be obnoxious, it's good to have friends along to remind you of it later!) I carried 2 or 3 small Duvel beers from Belgium with me wrapped up in a jacket. So, I'm drinking great beer, discreetly, and getting frankly a teeny bit trashed during the film, which I'd seen before. I was realizing I was sloshed when at a particularly tense moment I hiccupped loudly and the entire audience erupted in laughter, the tension broken. Not at all feminine--it was the most man-sized dinosaur hiccup I ever uttered. Thought I'd DIE. That was about 30 minutes after my beer bottle had rolled down the length of the raked concrete floor, merrily announcing its presence in some bizarre harbinger of the still greater spectacle I was to make of myself that evening.

One night in the lounge, about 1991 or 1992, I was sipping martinis with a friend and we were watching a terrific jazz combo called "Freddie Jones Quartet." They were amazing. Freddie got on the mike and said they had a friend in the house, a poet, and he was going to sit in with them for the rest of the session. I don't remember the poet's name or most of verse, but one thing struck me and has always remained amusing and captivating when I remember it. Before they began to play, the poet announced this piece was called "Sadness," and the band played as he catalogued many stripes and degrees of sadness. The one that reigned supreme, however, was:

"The sadness of the Amish,

whose thighs know no jazz."

I would mention the sadness of the Amish, whose thighs know no barstools.

Monday, January 09, 2006

According to news sources, a talking Elmo toy meant to aid in potty training toddlers is malfunctioning and saying "Who wants to die?" What surprises me is that if someone was going to goof around and prank the voice loop of a toy, why didn't they just make it say "George Bush hates Muppets!" ???

Actually, I think the talking toy market has always been underdeveloped. I've always longed for a masked villain doll who says "Have you been a naughty little girl?," "you look like you need a spanking!" and "I'm gonna take you to my lair for a romp and then tie you to the railroad tracks." ROWR!

I may be sick, but I'd NEVER do this:

From a link to a Russian online news source, I found this golden chestnut under "FunNews" and how they came to classify this item under fun is a bit odd. Cat rapes woman after performing oral sex on her. Seems like you'd go to any lengths to avoid admitting publicly that your cat shredded your nads after you smeared them with something to entice licking. I dunno - blame a cheese grater or something. Also, I suspect the misleading nature of the title is typical of Russian news wires. The cat bit and clawed the woman, but there was apparently no penetration. "Cat mangles woman during oral sex" would be more to the point, I think.
OK, I've taken one for the team. I've valiantly squandered about 80 minutes of my life watching the abysmally mesmerizing 1973 film "Little Cigars" so you won't have to. I confess I am something of a film addict, and crappy movies are particularly difficult for me to pass up, especially now that I have the hallowed and mighty DVR feature on my cable box. I wear my B-movie credentials with pride: I was at the world premiere of Basket Case II, hosted by Joe Bob Briggs, local Dallas filmgod. Now equipped with the luxury of DVRing something while I'm away/asleep, etc., the world of crap cinema is mine as never before.

Anyway, Little Cigars commences with a terrible (even for 1973 standards) animation of a group of 5 small cigars making nice to an Amazon cigar - seriously - I expected hot-dog-and-bun-style filth(the little fellers sorta dry-humped her), but restraint ruled the day. The film opens to a scene of a hot chick (ice-veined Penthouse pin-up Angel Tompkins) in bed with her old-goat gangster sugar-daddy. He does something to her under the covers with a cigar, and she persuades him to give her the cigar so she can try it, and she apparently fries his wedding tackle with it. She flees the scene with his money and her mink coat. She hooks up with a scheister gang of 5 midget guys, and they start pulling progressively larger capers until they work their way up to robbing an armored truck. How could 5 midgets get away with this, you ask? Well, the 5-0 was onto them, and at one point the police haul about a dozen midgets into a room for a line-up. There's even a black midget guy with an afro because you know - all them midgets look alike. Anyhoo. In the way of all things, Cleo, our anti-heroine, ends up hooking up with this 70-year old midget leader who played an oompa-loompa in The Wizard of Oz. I think he was in the Lollipop league. There is one prolonged midget-on-the-back necktie strangulation which was remarkable for its sheer refusal to end. Surreal. There's also the classic moment in the film when the original gangster's henchmen catch up to Cleo and the gang, and one of them says "Cleo, you must have fallen on hard times, hanging out with a dwarf!" She sneers at the goon and fairly spits out "He's not a dwarf--he's a midget," with righteous indignation that would do Rosa Parks proud. Best dialogue of the movie though, is the very end, when she has bailed on her diminutive lover and comes back, tail between her legs. His pride is hurt and he calls her a slut, and she says, "I came back for you, didn't I?" He says "why?" His heart melts when she replies "Because I'm your old lady and I dig your little ass." Quite.

OK - you're glad you didn't see it, but aren't you happy you heard about it?

For a low-budget 70s film that WILL have you squealing with delight (the girls' detention center bunkroom scene alone is worth the price of the rental) check out "Switchblade Sisters." Good shit!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Manhattan for a string of beads?

OK. Let's review. The story was that the Europeans "snookered" an obliging group of Indians into selling Manhattan for a handful of beads and bronze trinkets. Not very long ago, some scholars postulated that the Indians who made that swap were just passing through, and not native to the area, so who laughed last?

Clousseau: Does your dog bite?
Young lady: No.
[dog bites Clousseau]
Clousseau: Ow! I thought you said your dog does not bite!
Young lady: That's not my dog.

Mired at the core of the entire Jack Abramoff scandal is the lingering doubt and guilt many white people feel over the miserable way the native American has been treated throughout US history. Predictably, white people have overreacted in classic ways waxing orgasmic with the patronizing view that NAs are "noble savages" and incapable of functioning without rubber bumpers on everything. The problem with this mythos is that no credit is given to NAs for any degree of sophistication or refinement of thought in a way that is respected in a healthy western culture - as if first nations must rely on the benevolence of modern corporate society for everything. Hence the US government passes laws like McCain/Feingold Campaign Finance Reform which makes Native American groups immune to the very legislation contained therein, and we are surprised they took advantage? No, wait - it hasn't been parsed that way, has it? We are told by our humble news readers that the Indians have been taken advantage of- the big dummies- and the cavalry needs to swoop in and save them from some bad old white men. Thus we perpetuate the eternal victim status of these world-weary folks.

All politics aside, I think at issue is not a question of Indians & Cowboys, villains and heroes, but more a question of what the fabric of our society means in the larger sense. Let's be frank about this subject - we are not talking about the town bully kicking the shit out of a little Girl Scout lemonade stand. What is a casino, other than a place where a small group of people with vast amounts of money take advantage of the baser nature of a larger group with less capital to spare and no common sense? Yes, most casino-goers would have squandered their monthly check on beer, cigarettes and bad coffee anyway, but does that give moral high ground to people who provide the opportunity to become an even bigger loser? Of course, it's entertainment--the mere spectacle of the other tourists makes a trip to Vegas worthwhile, and while I'd fain deny anyone the opportunity to see a 5'3" 300 lb lady from Des Moines in gold lame hotpants and matching haltertop (to paraphrase the Bard, "Fatty Friday must be peopled!"), I'm not sure that this is an aspect of our culture we should really be promoting and celebrating. That's why God gave us Nascar™.

Casinos are shitty, destructive things. While I celebrate everyone's right to go down the tubes in the manner of their choice--naming their own poisons along the way--I can't get past the idea of these palaces of excess and self-indulgence built on the grief and hardships of so many people just hoping desperately that their luck will change and this time it's gonna be different and everything's coming up roses. Why is Las Vegas the sucide capital of the USA? If people are going to gamble, they need to bet on themselves, on their own hard work, determination and perserverance, and not on a roll of the dice. If people put sweat equity into all their aspirations, luck will not be a factor. [I could go off on a tangent about reality TV and unrealistic expectations and instant gratification as personified in miraculous and ridiculously expensive home- and personal- make-over shows, but I'll save that for a slow news day, k?]

I could hear the gloat in the voices on The Diane Rehm Show this morning on PBS radio. I can imagine the microphones clogged with the lusty spittle conjured by the thought of every Republican in office falling like a set of dominos. Too soon they crow, methinks. Just in case you were about to make the mistake of believing the Abramoff Indian Casino Lobby Scandal was a canker solely on the butt of Republicans, here's a lovely list of Democrats who accepted MILLION$ from Abramoff & his Indian buddies. John Kerry alone took in a whopping $98,550 from the same groups. Time to get rid of parties altogether, I say. Or let's have a fair showing of Independents and Libertarians in debates for future races, at the very least. Just like the casinos, in politics we should be fighting to overcome rather than to indulge our absolute worst instincts.

An acquaintance in Dallas - Dori Warner - told me when she lived in Phoenix there was some controversy over the first intrepid Indian Casinos to open, and the state sent big trucks to confiscate the slot machines from them. She said she was bowled over by the irony when she was watching the news and these 18-wheelers backed up to the casino doors, with the name "MAYFLOWER" emblazoned on the sides.

An excellent article on this subject in Time magazine was called "Wheel of Misfortune" by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele. To quote:
Casinos were supposed to make Indian tribes self-sufficient. So why are
the white backers of Indian gambling raking in millions while many tribes
continue to struggle in poverty?

Finally, I will say that for a great many on reservations throughout the USA, the casinos HAVE provided sustenance in the form of jobs and purposeful routine. Although I have described the worst, most libertine aspects of casinos, I concede there have been some tiny positive results from their existence. Nonetheless, I feel casinos are bad in general. Be it a tent in the New Mexico desert, or an ultra-cool super-suave Monte Carlo black-tie affair crawling with James Bond types. Bad to the bone. Not good-bad. Bad-bad.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

You know when you pull a buttock-muscle during wild sex? Well, I managed to pull that muscle all by my self today. Yes, I was gardening. I didn't know it was possible to pull that particular muscle while fully clothed. Note to self: stretch before gardening and vigorous sex.

Planted the most glorious pots of Ranunculus I've ever seen. The stems bore up bravely under the weight of bosomy cabbage-like buds and seemingly impossible blossoms. I don't usually mess with these fussy damsels, but their siren call proved irresistable when I went into Northaven Gardens today.

What turned the whole thing into an athletic event was digging up corms of lantana which were stubborn and not at all ready to give up any ground. Yes I won, at a dear price, indeed. I've replaced the lantana with a silver germander bush which is great for xeriscaping, which is what I prefer anyway. The germander is an evergreen little shrub which will reward us with a show of light blue blossoms for a good while in the spring/summer, and all with surprisingly little demand for water.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

We acquired our current home telephone number about 19 months ago. We only keep this number for strategic sheep purposes anyway, so no friends or family ever call us on it. Therefore, every time the phone rings at 2AM, we know it's some bitch attempting a booty call on Littrell (last owner of this number, apparently). They called last night at about 3am, and this morning at about 8am. I am taking suggestions from you, gentle readers, for what the appropriate response should be. My first inclination: Littrell died of AIDS last week. Another friend suggested Oh, his thang fell off - you need to get checked for Herpes simplex 14. And I rather fancied: I'm glad you called - the Health Department wants to test you. I'll post sundry other foul responses as they occur to me.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Leathery, emaciated fish heads...

In the little armpit of a trailerpark ghost town in Arizona where my grandmother lived, one guy proudly festooned the telephone pole in front of his trailer with the spoils of fishing in the nearby Colorado river. I remember the first time I drove up that dirt road to be greeted by the grinning, gaping maws of long-dead catfish. You don't get a sense of it from the photograph, but these fish were huge with heads bigger than yours. This is sort of a realist counterpoint to the orangutan scarecrows in Planet of the Apes (the real one, not the Tim Burton revision). Beware, all fish who enter here! You're dead meat.

Near my Gram's trailer was a large corrugated metal building. There was a giant rooster on the arch above the trailer entryway, and after about 4 years of going out to visit her there, I finally learned that big shed was actually a cockfighting arena, and was only put out of business in the past year or so. Apparently it was the largest cockfighting venue in North America. People my age who should have been in their prime instead ambled aimlessly about, cigarettes spittle-dried to their bottom lips and dangling (not having enough teeth to manage a proper hold), looking as sere and emaciated as the fish heads. Meanwhile, their dirty, snotty, unattended children played mean games in the road. The only time these people seemed to move with purpose was the scramble to the post office to pick up the guv'ment check and the mad dash to the crack/meth/you-name-it dealer's trailer.

Um, I take that back: The fish heads weren't a warning for fish--they were there as a harbinger of directionless social malaise.